Thursday, September 16, 2010


I suppose it's time to write about Haliburton 100. If you didn't hear by now I DNFd hard at 82 miles. There. Got that out of the way, now where do I start... it was a long weekend.

Ok, let's start at the start line. 6am, dark as night and coooold. I hadn't slept much the night before but it didn't take too long to wake up waiting for the 'start gun'. Started off nice and easy, and I should mention a great friend of mine, Scott Garrett had committed a while a go to running this thing with me... although we lost each other a bit at the start line, he kept me on track for most of the race. It's already 4 days later and the details are starting to fade.... especially the first 50-75 miles - the good part. Got to the halfway point in around 12:30 which blew my mind. I never could have done that if Scott wasn't with me. I would have walked way more. He really got me to push myself and it wasn't even that hard, I just get lazy when I run on my own I guess.

Like I said the details of the good parts aren't quite as sharp although I do recall Scott seeing a bear and not telling me about it and warning a friend of it's presence by saying there's a 'hot chick' on such and such trail. I also recall running with a lot of great people such as Maryka and JD, and others whom I can't recall their names. I can't quite get my head together enough to gather other parts into anything coherent. Oh, but I forgot to say that the trails were a fucking quagmire of shit and there was no way to avoid their relentless aqueous hell!

So moving on... going from AS#6 to AS#7 is where I started to tell that things were going wrong. In a last ditch effort to save my feet which had gone through a meat grinder, I changed my shoes and socks at AS5 in hopes of relief. Unfortunately it didn't help and the new shoes just added new pains to new parts of my feet. So that whole back stretch was pretty quiet and I started to turn inward. When we got to AS#7 I started to lose it emotionally. When I saw the food they had, chilli, I couldn't believe it. I had heartburn previously for 3 days non-stop, and it had gotten worse during the race. There was no way I could eat chili and it was heartbreaking to me. I was hoping for anything with sustenance other than the regular stuff. So I grabbed a piece of pb&j and went to complete the half a km and back in order to complete the 120km. I walked it with Scott just ahead of me. I had a bite of the pb&j and had to throw out the rest because it just burned going down my throat. I had a bit of coke, not sure what else, grabbed my pack and left. I was starting to realise I wasn't going to make it and that was hard. My feet were done, my quads were toast and time was running out to get to the finish line before the cut-off. It was a very somber 10k, barely a word was spoken and I was crying a lot. One thing I had been thinking about for a while was the conversation I would have to have with Scott to tell him to go on and get his buckle. I was having a hard time saying those words, let alone anything, without sobbing. But at some point he must have read my mind (or my feet that were barely moving) and somewhere during that 10k he went on ahead, and I'm glad of that. I'm not quite sure of the time that it took us (Tim, a friend of ours had come to run us in at the 120km mark) probably 2.5-3 hours to get back to AS#6. I was still crying when we stumbled in. I sat down and was trying to figure out how I was going to keep going when I had nothing left. I told Angela (my awesome crew girl) to get me my last pair of dry socks, I put them on, put my shoes back on and was hoping for something miraculous to happen. It didn't. As we went on, I stopped to go to the bathroom 3 or 4 times, my gels were increasing my nausea, and, well, I could barely move. I'm not sure how far we got down the trail, maybe 2k, and I realized I would not be able to make it through Black Creek trail, a very very wet section. I was scared something bad was going to happen and I could not imagine myself getting through that wet shit again. So I decided it would be safer to turn back.

I was so happy to see the glow lights that indicate the aid station is coming up. I can't even describe how disappointed I was in myself and how I felt I had disappointed others, even though I know it's not true. There was only 30k left and it just seems such a waste to have to stop when you're almost there. But I gave those trails everything I had. The wetness just ate up my feet and that was it. I have absolutely no regrets.

Gary Black, who was a volunteer at AS6 was to drive 2 other gentlemen who weren't able to make it back to the start so Tim and I hopped in with him to find Angela who would have been waiting for me at AS#5. When I got out of the car, I saw my coach Derrick Spafford, and the flood gates just opened up again (I think I may have gotten your jacket a bit wet there Derrick, sorry). I probably sniveled a bit and then we were off to find out where Scott was so that Tim could bring him to the finish as planned. So we dropped him at AS3.

Gary had told me that I should see the nurse about my feet. And so we drove to see her at AS#2 on our way back to base camp. Letting her touch my feet was probably worse than actually running on them. They were covered in blisters, fissures, my big toes were turning purple, and they were more swollen than when I was pregnant. After a bit of tears (or I don't think I ever stopped) be cleaned, medicated and bandaged me up. She was absolutely amazing. Did I say that she actually came to me? I could not get out of the car to walk to her tent so she actually came and treated me right out of the car. She was awesome. I heard later from Gary that she had said out of some 60 odd runners who came to her, my feet were the worse she had seen. He was probably just saying that to make me feel better ;)

Back at basecamp it was absolutely amazing to see Scott again, who had in the meantime, finished. I was very proud of him and so thankful to have him as a friend. He sacrificed a lot for me as he could have reached his goal to run a sub 24hr race. But he helped me achieve a lot of great things that weekend, even though I wasn't able to finish: I had a great 50 mile time, beating my Sulphur Springs time by over an hour and a half, I also ran 90k way faster than I had at Dirty Girls, and last but not least, I ran EIGHTY TWO FUCKING MILES!!! A distance far beyond anything I could have imagined this time last year. I'm still emotionally drained by the whole thing (crying for 10 hours or so will do that to ya!) and am having trouble thinking of everything that had happened but I wouldn't trade the experience for a million bucks. It was amazing.

That's about all I have energy for but perhaps as things pop into my head I will write about it.

Onwards and upwards. I still want to complete 100 miles and may have another stab at it November 27th in Creemore.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Soul Meets Body

Perfect long run song.

I want to live where soul meets body
And let the sun wrap its arms around me
And bathe my skin in water cool and cleansing
And feel, feel what its like to be new

Cause in my head there’s a greyhound station
Where I send my thoughts to far off destinations
So they may have a chance of finding a place
where they’re far more suited than here

And I cannot guess what we'll discover
When we turn the dirt with our palms cupped like shovels
But I know our filthy hands can wash one another’s
And not one speck will remain

And I do believe it’s true
That there are roads left in both of our shoes
But if the silence takes you
Then I hope it takes me too
So brown eyes I hold you near
Cause you’re the only song I want to hear
A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere

Where soul meets body

Sunday, May 30, 2010

50 miles

This is total cheese but I heard it on the way home and thought it was too funny and fitting for the events of the weekend (not to mention Solid Gold was the best show ever!). Since there weren't any songs in my head during the run, this is the song of the day:

So this is all still sinking in, but what an experience! Leading up to the Sulphur Springs 50 miler, I felt that my training was mediocre, not terribly consistent and definitely lacking time on my feet, my longest run this year being the 41k I had done after not finishing Pick Your Poison 50k. But I wasn't going to let that get me down. My head was in a 'let's just see what happens' mode. However I knew it would be tough and that in the 3rd loop (the race was 4 - 20k loops) I would be hitting new territory.

I got some great input regarding the course from Kinga Miklos, an absolutely amazing runner who finished the 100 miler under 24hrs. She ran her first 100 miler there last year (and has been going strong ever since). So that was a great help to know a little bit about an area I had never been before. I had also hooked up with someone who was looking to pace me for the last loop because I was anticipating the 3rd loop to be the most difficult and thought some company along the last one would bring me to the finish line. However, he unfortunately had to stay on the sidelines for medical reasons. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed, but it didn't last because my head was in a really good place.

So after packing really fast and tossing everything into the Subi, I hit the road and arrived in Ancaster in good time. I was in my sleeping bag in the back of the car by 11pm. But I forgot to bring an alarm and was waking up every hour or so to turn the key in the ignition to check the time. The race started at 6am and I wanted to wake up at 4am because I had nothing ready and had to get my hydration pack and drop bag set up. I ended up waking at around 4:30 and rushed to get everything ready. The anticipation I felt was making me go inward a bit but I quickly got into a good mood after seeing some friends at the start line.

The first loop went well. I ran with Scott Garrett for most of it, but even though he slowed down for me, his pace was too much for me to keep up with so I eventually dropped back and relaxed into a nice pace. It was hot and I often wondered if the bladder in my back had a leak because I was soaked, but no - it was those sudoriferous glands working overtime.

My left IT band, which
has been giving me problems on and off since Haliburton last year. I thought I had worked through it and it was better (or mostly better) but it started to ache a bit on this loop but it was, I thought, manageable although too soon.

This loop was a 'get to know you' kind of loop as I took note of the areas that I would become familiar with - notably the farmer's field (a relatively long section out of the cover of the trees and in the sun), the three sisters (three hills one after another), and the gulch (an airless, hot, steep, long hill shortly before the start/finish - I don't know who decided to put a trail in there, but they may need to take trail planning off of their resume(stupid gulch)). So this loop was done in 2:30 which was WAY to fast for me - live and learn.

The second loop was done in 3:19. This was the toughest loop, no doubt. I think it was after the third aid station (aka Turnbull) where my knee started to REALLY hurt. I couldn't run without limping. I would stretch it out but the relief wouldn't last and eventually it just hurt more after messing with it. At this point, and it was the only time during the race, that I contemplated ending early. I kept asking myself: 'What am I going to do, walk for 55k?'.

Then Helen Malmberg catches up to me and asks if I'm okay. I tell her what's going on and she tells me to walk it out. For some reason, hearing it from her made it sound like it was no big deal. She answered my question for me - and luckily walking didn't hurt nearly as much. Another woman passed me and offered Advil. I had initially turned it down because I was reluctant as to what it would do to my stomach but a few minutes later I changed my mind as I had nothing to lose at this point. But it didn't work and when I came into the start/finish I was in a lot of pain, and decided to take an Aleve, which I had in my drop bag. Even though I was hurting quite a bit, my head was totally fine. I just accepted my situation and made the best of it.

On loop three (3:50) the Naproxen eventually kicked in and I was able to run a little bit again. I mastered the art of the shuffle, figured out a way to get down the downhills (which were the most painful), and because I was switching back and forth from running to speedwalking so often, I had energy to go up the hills with some push. On the downs, I found it difficult to walk because you have to put the brakes on, which hurts, so I would slowly run down them leading with my strong right leg while babying the left.

I had also started to feel mildly nauseous because of the heat but luckily ran into Kinga again who gave me a piece of candied ginger and within twenty minutes I felt better.

The new ground I was hitting on this loop (as I've never run further than 50k) left me feeling excited and by this point I was determined to finish. I think it was this loop where I saw the person who was going to pace me and his partner. They asked me how I was doing and I told them I was doing great (after thinking about it this may have been the end of the 2nd loop) after that, the words I told them echoed in my head the following loop and kept me in a good place. My mantra was "good... I'm doing good...").

Only two days later and already the details are leaving me as I try to remember the 4th loop. When I came into the start/finish for the last loop, I took another Aleve as the previous one lost it's effectiveness some time ago. But this was the last loop and I knew I was going to make it... no matter how slow. As I mentioned earlier, the plan was to have a pacer but I was in such a good place mentally, despite my knee, there was no need. I was lucky. When I reached the aid station that was at the top of the hill, one of the volunteers said my name and asked how I was and said I was looking strong (it's funny because I got that comment a lot, despite my limping). Looking back, it's amazing how little things can make a difference. Hearing my name felt good, passing runners and trading encouraging words felt good, I even got a wink from a young cutie who blasted by me.

Once I got to one of the aid stations I asked how much further there was (I never kept track) and I was told 8km. Once I left, I had to hold back the tears a few times when I thought about the finish line. I was almost there. I started to move faster and once I was at the top of the gulch I knew I was home free. My bad habit of swearing started to come out (luckily only in my head) and my mantra for this loop became 'holy fuck' and 'I just ran 50 fucking miles'. Yes, even though I hadn't finished I was saying the words 'I just ran...'. Funny things, the brain does.

The cheers leading up to the mat were incredible. But it's weird... I felt almost embarrassed. Why were they cheering for me? Once I crossed that mat I was overwhelmed and couldn't quite believe I had done it. Once I started to open my mouth to talk, the flood gates opened and I just balled.


Luckily I had some great help to set up my tent as I jumped into the best shower of my life. It felt great, minus the burning from the chaffing. My feet turned out to be in pretty good shape. I had worn the LaSportiva Crosslites which i had just bought the weekend before and only ran in them twice. They were amazing. I do recal wondering though if my feet would explode once I took them off. After cleaning up I ate a bit of food (unfortunately, after coming in so late there was no pizza left and I was starting but didn't have the energy to cook anything. Luckily, the same friend who set up my tent somehow found a slice for me). After eating it bit, it was time to sit and relax to chat and to wait for the 100 milers to come in.

As I was watching them, I wondered what I would feel like as I crossed the line in Haliburton. Belt buckle, here I come.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Root Beer

First I want to start with what an awesome time I had at the Kingston 5 Peaks race last Saturday. It's been a while since I've signed up for a short race, and the Enduro course, which was just a little over 10K was a lot of fun. I haven't run 'fast' in a looong time and I wasn't quite sure how to go about this, other than to, well, run fast. I ended up finishing 1:06 and change which I am VERY happy with seeing as my 10k trail runs usually come up at around 1:15-1:30 or so. Some advice to me from a friend from "Head down, teeth gritted, arms pumping...GIVE 'ER!!!" and I did this but definitely ran out of steam with about 4k left. I knew this short race thing was tricky :).

My run today in Frontenac Park inspired this song:

There was blood...


...and not just my own. While crawling over a log, I didn't look where I put my hand and I totally squished a big millipede. Not long after, I inadvertently ran through some tent caterpillars, and I'm afraid some of them didn't make it either.

There's always sweat.

Luckily there were no tears, just root beer.

I ran out of water about 30-45 minutes before I was finished the run, and MAN was I thirsty. It was a hot one out there and I totally made a boo-boo by not bringing my handheld on top of my hydration pack. At the end of the run, I skipped the stretch, hopped into my car and drove to the Trail Centre and there was the most wonderful sight I have ever seen:

A vending machine.

With Root Beer.

The end.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Redemption Run... er, song...

While I didn't quite hit the 50k mark, I feel like today's run redeemed, to an extent, my crap run at PYP last Saturday.

Thanks Mr. Marley.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rusted from the Rain

Wow. Do I ever stink at this blog thing. Well I figure 2.5 months is a good break in between posts... geez. I'm really not a very good writer and it takes me a long time to edit things, which I don't have time for but...

Well after reading some truly inspirational posts in the last couple of days here, here, and particularly here, I'm feeling the groove to write a little bit.

Before I get into it I think I'm going to do a few things to keep my own interest in this blog going (and I hope it keeps yours). I love listening to music, sometimes whilst running, and sometimes not. But I find that there's a song for every occasion, especially from Billy Talent :) . The above song, in a detached way, describes my day at Pick Your Poison last Saturday.

So here we go.

Saturday was the Pick Your Poison trail race which is located somewhere in between Orillia and Barrie. I was just there but if someone were to ask me where it was, I still wouldn't tell them anything other than somewhere in between Orillia and Barrie. But before I go there I'll briefly talk about the last couple of months.

I'm going to try my best not to sound like I'm whining or feeling sorry for myself but it was feeling like my training wasn't going anywhere. I have had good runs, but it seems more often than not, especially mentally on the long runs, they aren't so great. I have just come to the realization as to why this has been happening, but unfortunately there just isn't much I can do about it but be patient. It all just snuck up on me. I think it was his mention of being exhausted wjhere Gary Robbins post really struck a chord with me. And while I'm not running 100 mile weeks, lack of sleep was really taking its toll. The kids decided to wake up throughout the night again, leaving me with 4 and 5 hours of interrupted sleep most nights. I didn't even really notice that it was having an effect on me - only in retrospect. But last night I got some sleep and it was FANTASTIC!

So going into the PYP 50k, I had a couple of months of crappy sleep, coinciding with not the most consistent training (but what's new). I had also woken up at 3am and hit the road at 4am to drive the 3.5 hours in rain and a flurry of transports with their blaring headlights heading towards me.

I get there and while tired, I'm excited about the race and getting the distance under my belt - something that's been making me uneasy since I had to take time off in December. I'm still not at the same fitness level I was last October and I desperately want to be back in that place. But I need to remember to be patient. But I digress... so I'm nervous and excited but am happy to see a lot of familiar faces at the race and enjoy talking to everyone. Luckily, when I see Helen Malmberg (a woman whom I revere and idolize) I only say hi and save myself from saying something stupid, like I've done in the past - and seem to always do with the people I look up to.

So the the race starts, I'm feeling good, maybe starting a bit fast getting caught up with the racers but I slow down once it breaks up. I'm thinking about fuel and reminding myself to eat something every 20-30 minutes, which I do the first loop. So there's lots of ups and downs and then we come to a flat section, kinda country road-ish and some flat twisty trails and it feels like heaven, and I say to a dude that 'this isn't so bad'. I knew I would regret those words... So I continue, walking up the ups and bombing down the downs. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm surprised at how cautious people are going down the downhills... although I know it can be hard on the quads, but it's the only time I ever get to pass people even if it's only until we reach an uphill again. But the forst loop was a lot of fun, and I was ready for the second loop, even feeling excited about the prospect of rain from the loud thunder above head without realising the effect it would have on the course (the newbie reveals herself again). I finish the loop in just about 1.5 hrs. By that time the rain had started and I was feeling some hot spots on my feet and the ITB was feeling a bit tight but I was ready to go on. But not long after I started, I was feeling zonked and I started to get a headache. Not to mention that some parts of the trails had turned to mush and I couldn't gain time on the downs anymore. I took my hat off and my head felt better but I was still so very tired but my body wasn't hurting, just my mind. Thoughts of not finishing were in my head and I was going back and forth between a plan of changing my shoes and shirt and grabbing the ipod for some motivation, and thinking about my car and how nice it would be to go and sleep. The latter won. I got to the start/finish and I didn't even really think about it too hard, I just told them I was going to call it a day.

The next day was the Sudbury Rocks marathon and I actually woke up at 5am thinking I might go and run it to make up for the miles I missed the day before and to stay on track for training. But alas, they did not take race day entries. Probably a good thing for so many reasons.

Wow, did I ever blab on there for a while... perhaps I shall make an effort to post more regularly... who am I kidding ;)