It's Monday evening, July 1st, and I took the leap and signed up for the Creemore 50km which will now be my last race prior to the 100 mile Eastern States in mid August. I was not actually going to do Creemore this year which is why it's the final week and I only just signed up.
I thought I'd do long runs on my own but it is hard to motivate myself to run 31 miles, although it has been easier lately since I met two guys who are training for Fat Dog in BC, which is the day prior to my race - so we've been going out for regular long runs together which is great. I stick with them for 4-5 hours and then have to go to work and they carry on but it has been pleasant. They are Wayne Pinel and his friend Tim Nelson. I read Wayne's blog report after the Laura Secord 100km race and on his Facebook page he had posted a picture of a training run at the Brock Monument which is close by me so I contacted him to see if he fancied doing some training runs, found out about his race schedule, and it worked out great. They are going to do the North Face 50 mile run in 2 weeks at Blue Mountain and I decided to opt out of that one - I saw someone posted a You Tube video of parts of the course and it didn't grab me so I'll be curious to hear their opinion of the race - great hill training of course!
So after the Niagara 100km ultra 2 weeks ago I was off for 5 days. I got shooting pains in my big toe and after 4 days I was able to start running again and at this point the toenail bed has begun to turn black over allot of the toe but so far it looks like I'll keep the nail. I have not done a single treadmill session this summer so it's a waste of money keeping the gym membership but I feel that I'm making good strength improvements by running trails so much and getting used to the heat and humidity better. I went out for a 10 km run today when it was 33 degrees outside with a 41 degree humidity and while it was not fun, I did it! And yesterday on the same course in very similar conditions I was with my friends and I did 16 miles with them. I was informed later that evening that a Massassauga Rattler bit his shoe on about the 11th loop - fortunately it was a small one and didn't puncture his shoe but just shows you have to watch yourself out there.
So Creemore. Why do it and what do I expect? You can read my 2013 race report to see aspects of the course if you are contemplating it. Although it's not the prettiest course in the OUS calendar, with 50% trail and 50% road it may not appeal to the die hard trail runner. However, it does have allot to offer so read on.
What can I tell you about it? Traditionally it is bloody hot and looking at the forecast it's calling for 24 degrees with sun and some slight cloud. Chances are on the day it will feel hotter out in the exposed sun. There are some nasty hills by Ontario standards and those are out on exposed country roads. Some of the views looking down are magnificent but they do hurt on the second lap. Last year I really suffered in the heat, barfed after lap one and got slightly lost in my daze and finished in about 6 hours 20 minutes. The second lap was not quite a death march but was not too far off at times and I was very glad to finish it. I actually don't remember much of the trail sections but some of those road sections are firmly burned into my conscious mind.
I again want to treat this purely as a training run and use it for the hills and the heat. The other reason to do it is enjoy running the race with ultra friends I have made and to support Pierre and Lee Ann, who put on a great race right from their house. And of course after the arduous course to have pizza and beer and sit in the cool, flowing river behind their property is bliss.
I have just ordered a running vest, the Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set, but I don't think it will be here in time to try it out so I'll have to use it in training. To run with I'll likely use the Hoka Stinsen Trail shoes and my Nathan belt with 2 mini water holders. The Hokas were bliss to wear in the Niagara and support so much cushioning and beside the big toe, there were no blister issues.
I'll likely drive there very early on the Saturday morning and my race predictions are sub 6 hours. I'd love 5:45 but really want to at least improve on last years 6:20 and hope that all the trail running and heat training (and rest between races) will make a difference so watch this space :)
I hope I'll see some of you out there and I hope that my blog has encouraged a few of you to try out a race or two in the series.
|It's a Hill. . . Get Over It!|
Post Race Report
Hello my running friends. Welcome back and thanks for looking in on me after the Creemore 50km. Sorry it took a few weeks to post this but life got in the way. Here we go. . .
This was my second Creemore and my second finish. I’m really happy about that and to date it is the closest I’ve come to nailing my pre-race prediction. I got it done in . The first loop was done in a fairly respectable and then the wheels came off on loop two – now THAT sounds more familiar I’m sure. I was not too surprised it happened though as I really was trying to run most of the hills on the first lap – and boy are there some hills. I’ve now had an opportunity to download the
GPS info and it shows
3,300 feet of elevation gain over the 50km. The CN Tower is 1,800 feet approx
so almost two CN Towers to give you an idea. It is probably the hilliest OUS
race for the distance. Sure, if you run SS 100 miles or Niagara 100km you’ll cover more altitude (actually the Niagara one surprised me but it shows even more elevation than Creemore over the 100km) but we’re talking in 31 miles. Here are a few charts from my watch.
|Course Map - 3,366ft Elevation|
|Elevation, lap (3.1 mile or 5km), and Pace information|
They put up cheeky little signs around the course that say things like ‘not a hill’ when the incline has you wishing for a chairlift. Even some of the ‘non hills’ are steeper than many OUS races. Sure, what goes up must come down (eventually) but the downs can mess you up also and I’m sure some of you were pretty damn sore for a few days and not all from the ups!
The drive up was uneventful. out of bed after a restful sleep and out the door after cereal and toast. Straight up Hurontario (Highway 10), East on 89 and North on
Airport Road got me to Creemore in 2 hours 15 minutes. I got the identical
parking spot as last year and went over to see the action at the start/finish where I ran into the usual suspects and some that I had not seen since last year.
Waiting the last few minutes around the car I was chatting to
was a car of intrepid runners getting ready for their particular races. One of
the ladies asked if I was the guy with the blog. Sweet. My 5 minutes of fame. I
can’t recall her name so I apologize but maybe I’ll see you again or you’ll
post a message when you get a chance to read this blog. She had a pierced nose
and was a with a group of about 4 friends and while she’d completed the 25km
race last year she was moving up to the 50km, her first attempt at that
distance. She explained that she scours the net for all the blog reports she can
find for as much information as she can about a particular course. It’s not a bad idea actually and I
certainly do it. I have a few favorites but if you do a search for
‘such and such race report' you can generally find something about the race you
are considering. Kimberley
I offered advice such as not starting too fast (seems obvious but very easy to get caught up in the excitement of the day on fresh legs - maybe I should heed my own advice on that) and getting out of the start/finish as quickly as possible after the first lap because you feel tired and knowing you can just stop/quit is too tempting sometimes when you are having a bad day. And let’s face it, we all have bad days sometimes. After wishing her and her friends all the best on a great race, I took a few quick photos and got the rest of my stuff together and was off to the start line. Here's a shot of the cars arriving and a nice shot of some of the familiar faces at these ultras.
|Richard Takata, Alex Campbell, Jack Kilislian and Kimberley Van Delst|
I arranged myself in the starting line according to how fast I know others are so I guess I was about ¼ of the way to the front. I was just chatting generally and then heard there was 30 seconds left so a few final deep breaths, set the watch and bang, we are off. The temperature was so much better than the year prior. Cool enough with a light breeze so I was very happy. I made a point of going slow for the first trail section, just tucking behind a lady and taking it all in. We then popped out onto Airport Road for about .25 km and then it is a sharp right onto what must be some rural concession road and you can see for about 2km ahead as the road climbs up. This is not a hill (according to the RD’s) but it can mess you up. Last year I had gone far too quickly on the trail part and by this first hill was already in walking mode. This time around I was slower but was doing a steady, slow jog up the hill. That was pretty much the story of lap one. I certainly did power walk some of the really nasty hills but was able to jog a number of the others.
I found myself running among 5 guys for a number of the middle miles on the first lap and being lemmings we all followed the leader straight at a turn and went back into the woods in the wrong direction. Fortunately we came across Joe Cleary I think and he said to the lead of our group that we were going the wrong way. Slightly dejected by the prospect of turning around up an incline, we had no choice and after groaning a bit I joined the caboose back to the intersection where we saw about 8 runners who were now ahead of us. Jack Kilislian was right there now and I was thinking I might have been slightly further ahead of him as I’d felt my pace had picked up with the group but he was running strong. Fortunately our wrong turn was not miles out of the way and I’d say we lost about 2-3 minutes.
There was one creek where you could not avoid getting a soaker but I had no blister issues. The downhill and uphill gully section with all the rocks sucked and seemed to go on and on. One of the property owners had kindly left her hose at the back for us runners to soak our heads which was a lovely relief on the second loop when things were getting toasty. Same smell of manure by the silo but a little breeze to stop you gagging. This is quite a lonely stretch of road. And of course close to the start/finish you have the two steep, short ravine sections where you pull yourself up a rope. At least you know you only have about ½ km to the finish line.
By the end of lap one the temp was going up, bright sun, but still a huge improvement on last year. I felt I’d gone slower and could manage the second lap but I was feeling it and my loop was considerably faster than last years run.
I think I pulled in together with Jack but he got out ahead of me and that was the last I saw of him. I got back into the trail at the end of their driveway and went the correct direction this time. Last year I was barfing by this point and a bit dazed but managed this year to avoid throwing up for another 2km. By the time I hit the road I was starting to feel like a zombie (but not the Zombie’s from World War Z or I would have won the race). I walked all the way to the top of the hill and had about 5 people pass me and knew my ‘race’ was over and that the second lap was going to be a walk up the majority of hills. I took a right down the road towards the aid station and then had my first barf by the side of the road. With it getting warmer and with the water not getting absorbed and just sloshing around in my gut I was kind of happy to reboot but sorry that it happened just as Kimberly was running by me – especially since she had lent me her extra handheld bottle. Oops. I promise to wash it. It must be why she insisted I keep it at the end. Ha ha.
Actually, I liked her handheld better than mine. The reason I was not using my yellow Amphipod was because of a mishap in the dishwasher a few days prior. A Tupperware lid found it’s way onto the heating element in the dishwasher and the smell of smoke woke me in the middle of the night. Flying down the stairs and looking for a fire I discovered that the source of the fumes was the Tupperware which had melted right through. Unfortunately this smell completely contaminated the plastic handheld and made the water taste/smell of burning plastic. Yuck. So thanks
for helping me out. Kimberley
After my digestion mishap I ran up to the aid station in time to have a toast of ginger ale with Kimberley, discuss politics, love, life and liberty, ya de ya. . . ok, just a toast of ginger ale. Then I insisted she run into the single track ahead of me and she was gone. I was back to walking but the ginger ale did help settle me for a short while but most of lap two was not pretty. A few others passed me along the way and then it was just me on my own thinking I was the only one in the race and determined not to let anybody else pass me.
I had now barfed another 3 times and choose the 5th spot on the stile road which was spectacular as it shot out my nostrils at the same time. Damn I hate that! For some reason it ‘smelled’ like fish. Not sure why. So things were definitely not comfy for me but as I saw Caroline turn right into the woods ahead of me at least I knew I’d be off that damn road shortly. I got through the wood section back to the final nasty mother of a hill (but with a wonderful view) which left 3km to the end. I was a bit dazed and saw the aid station directly in front of me on the road but paused and looked around slightly confused and felt I might chuck again so was looking for some cover to spare the aid station workers. They called me over thinking I was totally out of it (not far from the truth) and I explained myself and just said I needed some ginger ale. Only 3km more they said and I thanked them as I grabbed a sponge at the station and poured it over the back of my neck. Aaaahhhhhh. Nice.
That last steep hill down hurts but I was able to pick up the pace somewhat and had one final peak up the hill before heading cross country to see if anybody was going to make me run faster (please no!). Fortunately the only person I saw was a good 4-5 minutes back and while I didn't relax, I didn't have to panic either. Through the grass field, back into the woods, climb the two gullies with ropes, pass the garbage tip and out into the open, over the bridge which totally messes with you by that point and the final 100 feet past people clapping with the big finish sausage and over the timing mat with a medal waiting for you. Done!
My placing: 29
My time: 5:44:53
Last years time: 6:19:59
|Nice Hand Made Finishing Medal. Thanks Pierre and Lee Anne|
After that, pizza was back on hand and I grabbed a slice and headed over to the river to sit and enjoy. Many people were relaxing in the river but I was still fairly dazed and just needed to get some calories inside me to get me out of the stupour. That done and not wanting to seize up I marched over and grabbed a beer and headed out past the finish line to cheer on any runners that were coming in which I always enjoy doing. After 15 minutes of that it was back up to see Kimberley and Richard who was now sitting after completing his race. We sat there and joked around for about 45 minutes, relaxing and talking about the race and I won a spot prize which was a hand made ceramic bowl. Sweet. Thanks Lee Anne.
I didn't get into the river this time around and after feeling able I said goodbye to people and made my way to the car and headed home. Oh. I did get to meet the young woman who had entered her first 50km also. The first time was at an aid station and it was the second loop. She was feeling rough and I gave some encouraging words as did Maryka who was manning the aid station and we got her going. The second time was as I was sitting relaxing at the end and she did it :) Her first 50km. A great moment and I was really happy to be able to congratulate her. Well done. :)
Thank you for reading my Creemore Race Report and my next one will be after Eastern States 100 miles in mid August. Gulp. 20,000 feet of elevation instead of 3,300 and on trails, not road. No blogs I can read since it's the inaugural race. Damn. Anyway, it's going to be hard as hell. Am I ready? I don't know but I'll give it my best and that's all anybody can ask.
Happy running from Alex. Aka The Running Dude.