The air, it hurts.

Why

 

That pretty sums up my winter of (very little) running.

So instead of bitching about our horrible winter, I’m going to go ahead and complain about our lousy spring.

It was team effort but I went for a 25km run on the weekend. It was the first weekend of April and it was snowing. By now we are usually in shorts, but sadly I had to dress in fleece paints, long sleeves and a jacket! Yes, headband and gloves were required.

Thankfully the snow stopped as we headed out to meet Mitch and Geoff. Sadly we hadn’t realised there was a 40km/hr wind coming from the west (its temperature making it feel well below zero) we of course had to run straight into this blustery mess for 4.5km, at one point I was actually getting blown side ways into Dan (and it wouldn’t be the only time) by a gust. By the time we met Mitch I was ready to quit, but the silver lining was that now we would head north (briefly), sweet relief!  Except there was no relief the wind was still relentless and then we turned west again. I gave up trying to wipe away the stream of water from my eyes, as we crested the hill near the entrance of High Park we noticed a large amount of runners and cleverly figured out that a local road race was on (I’m quite sure no course record were broken). Finally we met up with Geoff and headed into the Humber River park where it was still windy but after Mitch had joined us I had started drafting off the boys, now I had 3 wind breakers in front of me, things were looking up.

Hmm, now what?

Hmm, now what?

Then we discovered the “ice jam”. Dan and Mitch bravely charged on, Geoff and I being the slightly more clumsy runners tentatively started to pick our way through.

Brave Mitch

Brave Mitch

Then Mitch fell, myself and Geoff quickly retreated and bush whacked around the ice field, I was exhausted and now my feet were cold from the icy water.

Geoff and I did find this cool teepee in the woods though.  Would love to know who built it and why.

Geoff and I did find this cool teepee in the woods though. Would love to know who built it and why.

On we went, still into the wind, parts of the trail were still quite ice-covered which slowed our progress but at least we all stayed upright.

Once off the trail and onto the street we finally had our backs to the wind. And after a brief comfort stop (where I found myself hiding behind a sign to stay out of the wind) I finally started to feel good running. Like, happy and elated, I haven’t felt this in months! That is mainly because I have been wimping out and staying inside where it safe and warm, but I can’t stand the dreadmill so I now have a new appreciation for rowers.

I wasn't the only one taking shelter behind a sign.

I wasn’t the only one taking shelter behind a sign.

But now it is April and I have a 50 mile race at the end of May so I have no choice but to go out and run. As a side note I had almost signed up for 100km race that took place this past Saturday and was relieved that I didn’t when I started reading about it on Facebook, you can read our friend Alex’s account here, all I can say is that if the hunger games are mentioned in a race report than I glad I gave it a miss!

So other than a crappy run on the weekend I don’t really have much more to say, oh other than I quit my job on Monday and we are going to travel for a year starting June 1. Check it out here.

Limberlost 56km Race Report 2013

I don’t even know where to start with this one…

On Friday night we headed to Huntsville having decided to camp at the race so we could sleep in (haha).  I proceeded to have a terrible nights sleep, I love camping and am very comfortable in a tent, what I’m not used to is being packed into a field in which people kept arriving until well after mid night.  Our tent neighbour snored like a machine driving me insane, and then people started arriving at 5:30 to set up.  I was exhausted.

Put my brave face on and the trail shoes I hate the least (I’m having some serious shoe struggles right now) and headed off to the pre race meeting.  My mood improved as I met up with familiar faces, it was already hot but not too bad, maybe today wouldn’t be so bad.  My goal was to beat 8 hours having missed it by 34 seconds last year (I also state in last years report that I should only do the 28km race-why do I not take my own advice?), but really I was hoping for 7:30.

As the race started I met up with Carolyn who I ran with at PYP, we seeded ourselves pretty well and settled into a nice pace along the stunning trail to the first aid station.  You can hear the kids working this aid station from 3km away, they cheer for every single runner as we pop up over the little hill leading to the aid station.  Lap 1 I didn’t stop at any aid stations as I was testing out my new UD Scott Jurek Hydration Vest, so was pretty happy to breeze by the stations.  I wanted to run this lap conservatively as I know how difficult Lap 4 can be.  Although the race consists of a 14.2km loop, it is deceptively difficult, there are no real big ups or downs, but lots of rolling, and lots of roots, rocks and mud, it takes its toll.  Near the end of the lap we started getting passed my marathon runners and even a couple of 28km runners (who were bombing by) I wondered if Dan was going to end up lapping me since he was doing the marathon, I figured he might but probably not until my third lap.  I was feeling good as we came around to complete Lap 1 and was astonished to see the clock read 1:59, oh that’s a lot slower than expected, the pace was comfortable but I believed we’d been moving a little quicker.

The new pack, not sure how I feel about it just yet.

The new pack, not sure how I feel about it just yet.

Carolyn and I decided to stay together and got out of the aid station quick, we had come into it in a bit of a conga line and didn’t want to get stuck behind again.  We ran the road to the trail head quick, passing a few more people before jumping back onto the single track.  We both wanted to pick it up on this lap, Carolyn paced the first half and I took over for the second.  We both thought we’d done a good job of pushing but when we got back to the finish line we had done that lap in 1:55.  What?!? I felt like we had worked so much harder for about the same pace, oh dear this was not going to end well.  Then I realised I was looking at a familiar face, Dan’s.  He confused me for a minute, I thought he was done, but then remembered he hadn’t passed me. The conversation while I switched out my bottles went like this:

Me: What are you doing here?

Dan: I’m going to run your next lap with you. (All smiles)

Me: Why?

Dan: Because I’m nice.

Me: What? What about your race?

Dan: It’s over.

Me: What?!

Dan: Um…I got lost.

Me: How? This is a very well marked course, there are flags every hundred meters!

Dan: (looking rather sheepish) I’ll tell you all about it on the lap.

So off we went, a threesome now, and Dan told his tale.  He was running so well and feeling so good that he was composing his “redemption” email to a friend that he carelessly followed the guy in front down the wrong trail, it would turn out that he wasn’t the only one.  Once him and the guy he was following figured out they’d gone wrong the turned and headed back, only to be met by an oncoming runner insisting that they had been going the right way, so he turned around again, and finally ended up climbing a tree to try and see if he could find any flags.  Finally headed back the way they’d come only to be met by more runners, this time they insisted the other people turn around and sure enough the were back at the junction realising their error.  He’d run about 3.5km extra and was annoyed so he finished the lap and waited at the finish line to cheer on a friend who had run the 14km, provide same aid for some ailing runners before deciding he’d head for a loop with me.

Lap 3 was tough, it was getting hot now as it was noon, Carolyn managed to get a big rock in her shoe and then have the quietest fall in the world.  Dan was good company, we passed some carnage, including Alex who is a fantastic runner, but not having the best day, he managed to give us all a high five as we went by.  As we went through the 8.8km aid station I was still feeling ok, I still felt like the effort I was putting in was not giving me the speed I wanted but I was still moving relatively well. A few minutes after leaving the aid station Dan noticed he’d lost his bib, he had it the aid station, so he turned back to go find it (no one likes a litter bug) and this is when things turned a bit for me.  You would think for a married couple we’d have great communication, actually we do, just not when we are running.  Carolyn and I assumed he’d book it back to the aid station looking for his bib and then run back to catch up.  We coasted a bit to give him a chance to catch up, but people started passing by that we’d already passed. I asked if they’d seen Dan and they all said he was going back to the aid station.  I needed to pee, so I decided to stop and wait and told Carolyn to go on ahead, he couldn’t possible be much further behind.  Finally he appears, walking and chatting to another runner, when sees me standing there he starts to run to me telling me I didn’t have to wait.  I told him that he didn’t say that, and I was trying to be nice since he’d been having such a bad day (he also lost his shoe in a mud pit, retrieved it, sat on a log to put it back on only to discover the log was rotten and he sank right trough it and ended up sitting is said mud pit), he apologised for not telling me to go ahead, especially since he’d WALKED all the back to the aid station, found the bib, and then proceeded to chat with everyone he passed by!  Whatever, he was back, I had some company and we were running again.  About 1km down the trail he tells me to “go ahead” he was feeling a bit “pooched”, ARGH!!  The thought of killing him gave me a much needed adrenaline boost as I booked it back to the finish to try and catch Carolyn.  Lap time 2:08.  I was absolutely roasting by the time I popped out of the trail and the run across the baking field didn’t help the situation.  I decided to dump my pack and just go with a handheld for the last lap.  Carolyn was already gone and I knew there was no way I’d catch her now as she is faster and stronger than me, I left for my last lap feeling pretty bummed.

And that was the mood I would stay in.  It’s amazing how quickly things can change.  As a motored down the road in the glaring sun, with people who were finished their (shorter) races driving by kicking up dust, I wanted to stop and turn back.  For the first time ever I really wanted to quit.  I tried to reason with myself “it will be better as soon as we hit the trailhead”, but it didn’t get any better.  I tried to sing to myself (that usually helps) but I couldn’t think of any songs, I literally could not come up with a tune.  Now I was getting scared, what was wrong with me?  I was starting to feel hungry and realised that nutritionally I hadn’t been too diligent but I wasn’t ravenous.  I was just in a funk.  I big stinky funk.  I was down for the count and let my brain wander to all those dark thoughts that I can usually ignore.  Thoughts like how I haven’t really felt strong running since Sulphur, how I didn’t deserve to run a sub 8 on this course because I was lazy and hadn’t done any work to make sure I achieved this goal.  Then the pity party started I questioned why I even bothering going back to the Mogollon Monster, and how I didn’t deserve such a wonderful husband who always supports me (emotionally and financially) in all my crazy endeavors, and then I felt bad for wanting to kill him earlier and then the tears came.  Apparently I needed a good cry.  I just wandered along sobbing in the woods by myself, then I realised I needed to pull myself together as I was approaching the last aid station.  I tried to act cool, there but I knew they knew I’d been crying.  They were very friendly but quickly got me out of there.  With 5km to go, I wiped my nose, stood up straight and ran every last step, forgiving myself for having a bad day.  I have no idea why I’m so hard on myself, I mean, it’s just running for crying out loud!

Oh so happy to be done!

That’s one exhausted runner.

My pity part lap (aka Lap 4) took 2:24, official time 8:28:09, Dan greeted me with a big hug as I was given my medal and I started to cry again (this is getting embarrassing) these tears were mainly relief that it was over.  So not my best effort and certainly one that I’m not overly proud of, but at least I finished.  I’ve got some work to do as well, because I AM going back to the Mogollon Monster and I DO believe I can do it.  I just need to put the work in, stop putting myself down and train like hell.

At least this year there was medal!

At least this year there was medal!

Falling fast to the Death Race!!

Heather

When Dan and I first started trail running/racing I was afraid of 3 things:

1. Falling

2. Getting lost

3. Losing my shoe/s

Number 3 happened during our first ultra at Sulphur Springs, it happen less than 2 km into the race.  I amazed myself by remaining calm, retrieving the shoe, putting said shoe back on and carrying on running. What was I so afraid of?

Number 2 (sort of) happened during the Niagara Ultra.  We over shot one of the last turns, we didn’t get far before I realised our error, but it helped me understand why it’s important to know what race markings you’re following and not rely on other people being in front of you!

Number 1, well that happened today.  We ran The Limberlost Challenge 14km as our final “prep” race for the Death Race.  The course was gorgeous, located between Huntsville and Dwight, in Lake of Bays, we ran alongside 5 different lakes!  Since we were only doing 14km I didn’t carry my bag which means no pictures (sorry), thankfully we did carry our hand-held water bottles as it was freaking hot, it was 33 celsius when we set off at 9am.  We were the last race to start since we only had to do one loop, there was also 28km, 42km, and 56km distances, I felt for these people, did I mention it was HOT?!?!!

This also turned out to be one of the more technical races we’ve run, meaning that it was all single track (not so good for passing, great for bumping into trees), very root covered and rocky, and very undulating.  We like to start at the back of the pack so that we don’t end up starting too fast, but today we misjudged our racing mates and kind of ended up getting stuck for a bit, not that we were complaining it kept us slow and did I mention it was HOT?  At the first aid station (3km) the course opens up when you run across a logging road so we booted it to get around the group we’d been following and actually ran the next few kms on our own and it was perfect.  But we eventually caught up to some more runners, feeling pretty good, we actually started declaring our intention to pass and people politely moved to the side (there is an etiquette to be followed).  We fell instep behind a man whose pace we liked and followed him for a while, but then he took a tumble (after getting him upright and ensuring he was ok we decided to get ahead of him), Dan and I had a few near misses ourselves, but that happens in trail racing.

We refilled our water bottles at the next aid station (9km), it was HOT, and carried on happily through the beautiful forest and then SMACK, fear number 1 realised.  I caught my toe (hard) on a root and fell straight to the ground, thankfully I’ve been listening to people’s advice since my last fall, and I actually put my hands out in front of me and kept my head up, the result? I looked like I was sliding into home plate!!  But like an extremely brave experienced trail runner would, I jumped up checked for blood/breaks, saw none and carried on running!  A few steps later though I had pain in my left big toe from stubbing it on the root, I stopped for a moment to assess and discovered that I had bent the nail back, it didn’t break, so seeing as we only had 4km left to run stepped down on it pushing the nail back onto the toe bed and once again carried on running.  On the plus side the adrenaline gave me a second wind!

We finished strong in 1:42, first page of results and in the first half of finishers, not bad for back of the packers!  It was a great run and we both felt so “on”, we hope that this is how we will feel in Grande Cache.  The only recourse from my fall are some scraps on my thigh and a sore toe, totally survivable!

The race start/finish area was next to a lake so after our run we went for a dip, it was so amazing, as it was HOT.  And then we filled up on chicken souvlaki, pasta salad, potato salad, chick pea salad, water melon, and oranges.  My favorite post race meal yet (all that was missing was the beer!)  Although this race is a little far from Toronto, I would highly recommend it.  But take your swim suit since it’s in July and it might be HOT!

Dan and I are always one number apart, but they always put him first...

Dan enjoying his post race meal in the sun.

Heather trying to enjoy her post race meal, in the little shade she could find, it was HOT!

Wash out!

Heather

This morning we returned to the scene of the crime, the Dundas Conservation Area.  We enjoyed our run so much last week that we decided to try out some of the other trails around the area.  We also needed to start running with our trekking poles, so we were up early and parking at the trails at 730am.  The skies were grey and over cast but we weren’t too worried, we were armed with our rain gear, lot’s of food and water.

We headed out at a gentle pace for a while and then decided to bust out the poles.  Well, they were a little trickier to get used to than I had imagined, so we had to stop and adjust them often, in the end we opted to “power” hike for the rest of our loop.  The plan was we would dump the poles in the car and run another loop.  The rain started half way through the loop but it was nice, and we weren’t bothered since we were under tree cover, however we started to hear some thunder in the distance.  As we trekked on the sky got a little darker and then the lightning started.  First off just let me say I am very afraid of thunder storms, always have been and I really don’t see that changing anytime soon.  So I was starting to feel a little uneasy but there wasn’t much we could do we were in the middle of a trail.  But as the lightning got closer (which meant the thunder was louder, it sounds like the sky is falling!) I started to get nervous about us waving a metal pole in each hand, isn’t that how golfers get struck by lightning?  The rain was picking up as well, so I stopped to put on my rain jacket, Dan had actually decided to leave his coat at home today since he was tired of always carrying it and he never needed it (hahaha!).

By the time we hit the “orchard”, a lovely open field, it was pouring.  The trail started to flood a little bit so the hiking pole effort was off, we collapsed the poles and started to run, fast.  We hit a fork in the trail and were digging out the map to confirm which direction we should be heading, when a mountain biker stopped and helped us, as he peddled off he said “mind the lightning”.  What? How does one mind the lightning? We pondered this on our run back to the car.  Needless to say we were soaked (except for where my coat covered me) but thankfully we figured this trail running thing out and had a towels and dry clothes in the car.  Unfortunately for Dan we have a Mazda 3 so he can’t really change in the car, he managed to change quite fast and get in the car still dry.  As we left the parking lot it was like nightfall the sky was so dark, it was a slow drive home but we made it.

Only thing left to do is get up and try it all again tomorrow!