Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pick Your Poison 2010

For me, taking part in races is integral to running. I didn't do too well on the genetic lottery in regards to running, so for me to run long distances, I have to make deals with my body. I don't know if you are as psychotic as me, running really sharpens the line between mind and body. The thing is, the body is not only physical, it also has a mind of its own and sometimes I spend a lot of time negociating with myself. Promises are made and in my case, rarely broken, especially in training. In exchange for our "no surprises" agreement, I'm allowed to do really stupid things in races like running ridiculous distances or running crazy courses.
Well, yesterday was one of those races.

 I picked up Chris and Kim on the way to PYP early Saturday morning and when we showed up at the start and I saw the chairlifts, I knew something was fishy. "I wonder if we're going up there?". Little did I know.
The weather was ok. It was cloudy but the temperature was nice, around 16C. We picked up our bibs, got ready and chatted with people we knew. If you're not familiar with the ultra scene, let's say that few people run the longer distances and after a few races you feel like you know everyone. The distances for the race were 12.5k, 25k and 50k. I had signed up for the 50k, which was going to be my last truely long run before my 50 miler at Sulphur Springs at the end of the month. I promised Derrick I wouldn't run hard, but looking at that ski hill, I wondered what that really meant.

It was a mass start so at 9am sharp we heard someone yell "GO" and we got going. I was running with my pal Steve and one of his running protege Lisa. We were stuck toward the back and it took a few km before we were able to start running freely. The course was a 12.5k loop and it was quite hilly. I saw the top of those chairlifts more often than I care to remember. I would estimate that we climbed up and down the hill 3 or 4 times per loop. The two aid stations were really well positioned, about 1/3 and 2/3 into the loop, timewise. Toward the end of the first loop, it started raining. Then, it started pouring. The trail, which had been fairly dry except for a few spots, became pretty slippery. Areas that had been fairly dry would now be lakes of mud. Good times. There was a little brook crossing, maybe one step in the water, and it cracked me up when I saw a guy go for the logs that made a little bridge. What difference would a step in the water possibly make? It actually washed off some of the mud.

It rained pretty much for the entire second loop. I fell on my ass going down a steep section and my back side was pretty much covered in mud from my feet up to my waist. At the end of the second loop, we somehow took a wrong turn and ended up adding a few hundred meters. I have no idea how we did that. I think we had to step over some yellow tape and some signage. It was definitely our fault. The third loop, for some reason, would be the slowest loop of the race. More of the same, except muddier. By that time, Lisa was a bit  behind. At the end of the 3rd loop as we crested the hill and could look down to the start/finish area, Speve saw someone in his age group and asked me if it was ok if he tried to catch him. I told him it was fine and he took off. The 4th loop was actually not too bad. The only stressful thing about it was that I decided I could finish under 6:30 and once I start thinking about time, I obsess a bit. The course was becoming really beat up, but I still had a good loop and passed a few people. I finished well under 6:30, with a time of 6:21 and change.

I think I could have done better, but then again, I wasn't supposed to. Still, 50km isn't easy regardless of how fast you run, so the last loop was a grind. In many sections of the trail, there's a nasty canter and if you combine that with mud, you have to be pretty careful where you put your feet.

Despite the weather, I had a great time. It's a challenging course, the aid station staff were great and it was just plain fun. Well, you know what I mean...


Gail said...

Visiting your site for the first time and am struck by the site of you running and pulling a toboggan. Are you using rope or ski poles to pull it with? Looks interesting.
Thank you.

chris mcpeake said...

Great report JD.
Thanks for the lift up there.

JD said...

Gail, I used slightly stretchy ropes and ran them in very thin PVC tubes (that I bought at Home Hardware) to prevent the sled from catching up and hit me in the legs.