Monday, March 26, 2012

Why Do You Keep Banging Your Head Against The Wall ?

"Because it feels so good when I stop!" goes the joke. Well, this weekend I felt like the joke was on me. My volume has been steadily increasing and I've come to the point where I'm wondering whether I'm running just because it feels so good when I don't.

For a long time now, I've been running long on Sunday and resting on Monday. This week, I ran long on Sunday (5 hours in the snow in Sedona, see pictures), ran again on Monday because I was traveling during the week then did a b2b Saturday(3:30)/Sunday(2:05). I was supposed to go longer (2:30) on Sunday but even though my legs felt fresher than they had any right to be, my brain was fried. I wasn't 10 minutes into the run and I was already fantasizing about stopping the run short.

Epic Snow Run in Sedona

Basically, my body felt like I had betrayed it. WHAT? I carry you up and down those friggin' hills for 3 and a half hours on Saturday and I don't get to sit around and drink beer the following day? What kind of bullshit is that? And indeed, I betrayed it because by the time I got home and had a shower, it was 5:05PM. I went to open a beer and I WAS OUT. Shuffled to the Beer Store and IT WAS CLOSED! With a sick feeling to my stomach, I power-walked to the Liquor Store a few doors down and dammit, it was closed as well.

I had to drink white wine, left-over from my wife's Book Club meeting a few weeks ago. Now that's sad.

Ontario must be the last place on Earth where you can't get beer at the corner store. I was going to go on a rant about the inability of our provincial government to make any kind of decision, but this is a running blog so I'll skip it. But Beer Stores, Liquor Stores and the public Catholic school board are all leftovers from days long gone that Ontario cannot seem to be able to shake. I want to be able to buy beer on a Sunday at 6PM, is that too much to ask in 2012? I guess I did go on a rant.

Back to running. I've been looking into running Pick Your Poison and/or Seaton, but I don't think I will be able to run either. Those two races are only 2 weeks apart, with Bear Mountain 50 miler smack in between. I think Bear Mountain will be hard enough as it is, I don't think I need to make it harder by running 50K the week before. Maybe 29km at Seaton? Volunteer? I need to talk to Derrick about this.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mesquite Canyon 30K Race Report

Sitting on my couch two days after the race, I try to remember the end of the race. I do remember the events. I remember being so tired that I couldn't compel my body to run, except if the trail was perfectly flat or downhill and then I could only run for a few hundred meters before something broke inside my head and I had to walk. Sitting on the couch, it seems almost impossible that your mind cannot tell your body what to do, even though you remember it clearly.

That's what happened to me on that race. From the start, I knew it was going to be a tough one. Those mountains looked mighty big and despite the name "Mesquite Canyon", I couldn't see any break in the skyline that didn't involve significant climbing. Reality is, we would climb pretty much to the top.

We ran somewhere close to those antennas in the background. Maybe a bit lower.

The first few kilometers were flat and I was going at a good pace. Maybe too fast but I felt good. The trail was pretty good but despite that, my foot caught on something and I fell, rolled nicely (so I though, but I ended up with a few bruises) only to end up in some kind of bush full of needles. Not a cactus per say, but vegetation is mean here. I dusted myself up and kept going.

All of a sudden, the course goes from flat-ish to straight up. Between km 9 and 15, we climbed over 1700 feet mostly very technical footing. Really. I really thought I was in better shape than I actually was, I guess. I got passed a bit. Mostly by the 50km leaders who were on a different course, but also by a few 30k racers. That depressed me a bit. You could see the trail far in the distance, up, up always up, with little people climbing.

The climb was relentless and very steep. Because there was no way of driving up that friggin' trail, there were no aid stations either for 9 miles.  I have to admit that I questioned my manhood a few times going up that trail. Someone mentioned that the name wasn't Goat Hill (or something like that) for nothin'. I got a bit of a side stitch and it took quite a while to get rid of it. Once you got to the top, the trail became a bit less technical for a while but you could not take your eye off the trail without risking falling off a cliff or at least a really painful fall.

I kept drinking and eating as much as I thought I could. I got a bit of a surge of energy once we started going down. Even passed a couple of people. The trail was technical but runnable. At some point though, it became ridiculous and I started tripping everywhere. My quads were shot, the trail was steep and there was basically no stable footing half the time.

Finally, I get to the bottom and horror, there's an uphill section. Lots of hiking and shuffling. The last few kilometers were quite painful. I had nothing left. I knew I did, somewhere, but I just could make myself care. I was hot. I knew I would come in under 4 hours, which was my goal. I would start running and then after a couple of minutes just stop, I had never experienced something like that in a short distance like that. Anyway I did finish in 3:53. Within my goal, which was based on nothing, but more tired than I had expected.

The winner ran the course in 2:18. That's an average of 4:35/km. Someone explain that to me. Between the climbing and the footing and the death if you make a mistake, there's something I don't understand. Un-friggin'-believable.

So that's my experience of my first race involving a real climb. It was a humbling experience. It really kicked me in the nuts both physically and mentally. I kept thinking the following: Hope Pass is over 3000 feet on the way out. That's almost twice as high, possibly steeper and all that between 9,000 and 12,000 feet.

Lots of training to do.  I better stop whining.