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.
I JUST RAN 50 FUCKING MILES!
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.