Tuesday, May 20, 2014


4 Days Before Race

Hello my running friends. This will be my third entry to the Sulphur Springs 50 mile. My first attempt 3 years ago was a big disappointment with poor pacing resulting in an unsustainable 1st lap (1:39) followed by a lap feeling sorry for myself and throwing in the towel at the 1/2 way point (2:01). My race last year went much better and my first two lap splits were even (1:56 and 1:57) and at a more realistic pace but unfortunately I didn't have the fitness to keep it going which resulted in the last two laps sliding. Despite that, I was really pleased to squeak in under 9 hours.

You may have read my last race report which was The Laura Secord 100km along the Bruce Trail in April. Potentially it could have been an awesome race (from the perspective of enjoying the run) if the trails were firm but with the crazy winter we had the trails were a muddy mess which resulted in a grunt-fest. I finished the race (barely) but in some ways I would have been better off throwing in the towel on this one. The course beat me up badly with post race injuries resulting in a 3 week lay-off. I received nasty friction burns up the back of my Achilles (due to ankle socks sliding inside my shoe due to the mud and grit), poison ivy on the tops of my feet and after researching on the net, I finally figured the other foot issue is called 'pump bump' or 'Hagland's Deformity'. I had no idea what it was after first getting a bad case after the Dirty Girls 48 hour race last year and got it again badly after the LS100. It seems to always be on the one foot. Anyway, that took time to settle and even now is not completely gone but I'm going to make efforts to minimize a repeat this time.

Once I got back to the running the mileage had slipped and I don't have any great expectations although I have my fingers crossed for some of my running friends who I hope do really well. On the women's side in the 100 mile my bet is on Laura Paulo to beat her course record from last year. On the men's side I don't know who the winner will be but I'm hoping her future husband Corey kills it and of course Steven Parke is running very well also so I'll be rooting for him after his first win in the winter BoB. However, they are all entered in the 100 mile and my race is the 50. 

I did go to the final training session at the course, held on the first Sunday of May, to re-familiarize myself with the course and the conditions. It is muddier than last year in sections but overall has not changed much. I also wanted to test out my new running purchase, the Garmin Forerunner 620 GPS watch. My lap time was reasonable but I didn't pay much attention to my pacing and felt more tired after the loop than I should have expected but it was really fun uploading the information and seeing my route on the computer and figuring out which fields of data I should try to be looking at during a race.

The forecast is calling for a cool start rising to a high of 24 I believe. Warmer than I'd like but better than a downpour. I also have invested in several new shoes to test out after being a die-hard Asics shoe-buyer but various blister issues made me to decide to try other brands. I tried the Hoka Stinson Trail and raced in them in the LS100. I did like them but have not used them since that race. I then purchased two other brands, the Salomon Speedcross III which unfortunately are too tight (damn) and a pair of Brooks Cascadia Nine's. These will be the puppies I put to the test in the SS50. I'm liking them allot so we'll see.

Race day is calling for a cool start going up to a high of 24, higher than I like but better than rain. Tomorrow (Wed) I'll be home to begin the pre-race ritual. First my 'go-faster' haircut, then some supplies (Advil, band-aids, junkfood supplies for after), the toe-nail trimming and race kit preparation. Better to get it out of the way a few days before so there is no last-minute panic. While I'll be taking some S-Caps for electrolyte replenishing on the day, I found that Dulse (seaweed) worked a treat in perking me up at Ottawa 24 hour track race last year so I'm going to take that along with me. I will continue with the Hammer Gels this race but have found that I love the Cliffshot Blocks (yummy).

Race Predications and Plan(s)

You've come to know and expect my race predictions and it's fun to see how wildly I'm out sometimes so I'll give it my best shot. In the initial stages (i.e. 2 laps) I'm going to try to be slower than last year (1:55 and 1:56 respectively) and hopefully do a 2 hour 7 minute lap. I hope to accomplish this with my trusty new friend, my watch. I have talked about how my pacing needs to improve and I hope this does the trick. I have to OBEY it though and I'm terrible for that so I'll let you know how it goes. I also am going to set it to vibrate or buzz at a designated time so I remember to hydrate and take my gels/salt, etc. By both slowing down and taking on board nutrients I am hoping that I can maintain as close to 2 hour 15 minute pace for the final two laps as I can, resulting in a finish of around 8:45 which would be an improvement of 12 minutes on last year with less physical fitness. Can I do it?  Watch this space. ;) I'm looking forward to seeing many of my fellow ultra runners out there and wish all of them a great run. All the best and I'll get back to you shortly after the race.

Post Race Report

Sorry for the long delay and writing my post-race report but there is not allot to tell. It didn't go to plan - very few of mine do as you'll know if you've stuck with me over the years. But that's one of the reasons I love ultra running because so many things can happen. Unfortunately it's another DNF this time around which makes Sulphur Springs 2, Alex 1. I dropped the same place this time around, after 25 miles or 2 laps.

I got up early and drove down and got parking easily enough. I rested in the car until about 5:00am and then got my bib and got ready. I met Dale who holds the course record here for 100 miles in some crazy time of 15 hours something! He was wearing the same shoes as me which I thought was a good omen but obviously not as it appears he dropped also and upon speaking to him it appears he dislikes hot summer running so maybe that was what happened to his race. As the temperature climbed through the day it did get very warm, probably in the low 30's with the humidity. On the first lap it was delicious. Oh well. 

I ran into Rich Humber who I had trained with 2 years prior when I was doing the 50 mile and he was doing his first 100. He got it done and he'd come back after a year off with injuries to give it another go. I didn't see him out there this time but it seems he threw in the towel as did Ron Gehl which I'm sure was frustrating for them both but they'll be back I know. Some of my friends did very well. Laura Paulo broke her course record by almost an hour in the 100 mile and Steven Park came second overall behind Laura as the first male so that is now his second 100 mile victory. Nicely done!

There were quite a few muddy spots around the course but after LS nothing seems too muddy anymore but you got a soaker a few times. As I was returning to the start after the first lap just before the final aid station a stampede of runners came charging down the hill and almost knocked the woman in front of me and myself clear off the trails. They were the 25 and 50km runners I think. After that it was the final walk up the hill to the start/finish with a first lap of 1:50. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! I had my new GPS pacing watch and looked at it numerous times around the first lap and ran by feel rather than sticking to a 6:25min km pace and as a result I had a total melt-down in lap two as the temperatures rose and I ran out of steam. I was out of shape also. I knew it but if I'd stuck to a slower pace maybe things would have turned out differently. Truth be told I knew within the first 1/4 of the second lap that I was going to call it a day. I was hot, I had no energy and I wasn't that fussed and had no hunger for it that day.

I barfed once and had to use the toilet facilities on the second lap which is unusual for me in a race. Not sure what that was about. Lap two there was a fair bit of walking going on and I really wanted it to be over. Runners were passing me by but by that point I had no idea who was who. You can't see what distances they are in when they come by you with their bib colors on the front of their shirts or pants. I was able to cheer on others which I enjoy and came across Jack Kilislian in his first 100 mile effort at one point and he got er done and I fully expect him to win his age group in the OUS series this year and quite possibly win overall - but it's still early days in the series so we'll see but he's doing all the big distance races this year and he is very determined.

In the final 5km of loop two as you are going mostly downhill after the open fields I came across a big Asian fellow who was sweating profusely and looked to be suffering allot. I offered up some salt tablets and the rest of my water as he was totally out and wished him well so hopefully it helped get him going again. Been there myself and it's always nice when someone offers assistance. There seemed to be some confusion at one point on the course for the shorter distances at their designated turnaround point. A whole bunch were in a huddle with a race marshal who was telling which ones to turn around and which to go on. It's never fun when you are in a race and get confused over where you are so hopefully they got all straitened out. 

My second lap coming in was 2:10 so 20 minutes difference and I knew if I had continued my next one would have probably been a 2:35 or something but as I said, my heart was not in it and I felt drained so I just went to my drop bag, sat for about 5 minutes and then walked over to see April Boultbee who recently had knee surgury and is out of action but she was cheering on her sister in the 100 and she did awesome also. Alongside April was Heather Lightfoot who was cheering her husband, Dan, in the 50km. They are about to embark on a year long trip driving around all over the place so I gave her a big hug and wished them both well. As I was sitting there I saw Kimberly Van Delst come through the start/finish, beginning lap 3 of her 4 loops for the 50 mile. I was very impressed. The week before she had been at the 3 Days at the Fair race in the USA and completed 150 miles! She went on to finish the 50 miler in a very reasonable time.

I didn't see Dan but I stuck with April and Heather for about 15 minutes and then decided to get going as I was stiffening up. I was at the car for about 30 minutes resting, eating and washing up and then drove to work for the rest of the day so that's about all there is on that race report.

I was stiff for 3 days even with only 25 miles on the legs and I've been out on the trails getting in some miles and trying to increase the training to prepare for the Niagara 100km in 2 weeks and then ES100 miles in August. I'm going to need to seriously work on the hills and long runs to have any chance at that one so we'll see how it goes.

I did notice a sharp pain periodically in my left toe during the race and it looks like one of the nails has been lifted off the bed. It's not painful now but kind of weird being able to move it up and down like a hinge - kinda freaky. First time that has happened. No black toe on it and not sure if I should pull it off or hope it reattaches but I've gone for a few runs and it's not bothering me.

Some people will say I wimped out today and I guess it's true. My heart was not in it but I did enjoy what I did and always enjoy the whole experience and seeing the other competitors. It just was not my day and that's OK. For those of you who had a good race and finished or did really well, I'm always happy for you. See you next time. 

Next race Niagara 100km mid June. They hold this 100km distance every second year and it's only 10 minutes from me. It's almost all paved footpath and is 2x out and back but I thought at least 62 miles is a good training run for ES even if it's not off-road. The trick is going to be mentally being able to go out again for another 50km when I'm knackered and I won't be looking forward to fighting the crowds in Niagara Falls once it's later in the day. Maybe just the smell of me will part the crowds by that point.

Until next time.