Zion Canyon 2011

Zion Canyon 2011
Zion Revisited 2011

How To Approach an Ultra or Ironman

Jordan Rapp quote sums it up!

This Jordan Rapp quote sums it up.
"It's about the process. It doesn't matter what you do tomorrow and it doesn't matter what you did yesterday. It's about today, and making today count. That's especially true in training, but it's the same mentality that I carry into racing. Focus on the task at hand, not on the finish line, or the next part of the race, but what it is that is right there in front of you in the moment."

Monday, August 29, 2011

North Country 50 Mile Race Report. What Could Go Wrong?

Firstly, I have to thank The Captain for finding this race and organizing everything. He did a fantastic job with the logistics, just getting the four of us to the Tim Horton's in London at the same time was genius. It's a shame he missed the race.
Timmy's in London Ontario. Yes, that's a cornfield beside it.

  Captain has had quite a streak of bad luck, starting with Vulture Bait last year. He had a virus a week before that race and I had to pick him up at Emergency at the hospital. Then, he broke some bones in his foot before the Glacier Ridge 50K this spring.Then, he got lost on the SWIM section of The Battle of Waterloo triathlon. I did not know you could get lost on a swim, but hey, it was raining and foggy.
   So how to top that? Well on Wednesday before running the North Country Marathon, Captain had some "Chicken Tartare" or, "I Thought it Smelled a Bit Funky Chicken" for dinner. Not good.
 So Friday morning, Eddie, Maps, me and Captain head off to Manistee Michigan. Captain is being kind of quiet, but I didn't really think anything was wrong. We stopped at Applebee's somewhere near Saginaw for lunch and a bathroom break, and he and Eddie went into the restroom. Eddie returned a few minutes later, but no Captain. Danielle, our server, asked for our orders, and we 3 ordered beers (Shocktop!) while we waited for the Captain's return. After a while he shows up and orders a chocolate shake, then disappears to the back seat of the car to lay down, never to return.

Eddie and Captain head into Applebee's
 So, after we three had finished eating we had Danielle make Captain's shake "To go". I guess he drank it, because when he vomited in the car 10 minutes later, it was chocolate shake coloured. He didn't even have a chance to ask us to pull over. It was like "Guys, we have to..... "Bwwwwaaaaahhhhhhpppp". Luckily, he had a plastic bag from the duty free shop to use. And like an idiot, I didn't get a photo of it for my blog. Anyhow, we continued on and made the race pack pickup in good time.
Water jugs laid out for the next day's festivities

There's the Finish line

Packet pick-up line. It moved really fast, very well organized.

Maps (formerly Ray) waits in the rental car. He has no idea he will be in a world of hurt the next day.

A wall of beer at the Manistee market. Who knew, it's way cheaper than duty free!
 So after we scouted the course a bit (except for Captain, who stayed in the car the whole time), we checked into the hotel and went to pick up some dinner (except for Capain,who stayed in the hotel room). We found a great take out place called Big Al's, and got some food to go.
  Later on, Captain was trying to rally and had a few bites of a sub we brought back for him, but it wasn't working. Lights out early for him while the three of us carbo loaded by putting a dent in the 60 beers we picked up at the duty free.
   The next morning came early, and Captain even prepared his traditional pre-race oatmeal. I thought he was going to give it a go, but when the room started spinning on him, he knew it was not going to happen. No "Flava Flav" medal for you this year, Captain.
 So while Maps (formerly Ray), Eddie (formerly Sub) and me headed out, the Captain reluctantly stayed behind. When we got down to the car, we were asking each other if anyone knew where we were going. Captain usually handles those little details. We were reasonably sure we could get back to the "Big M" trail head, so off we went.

What the #@%&?  We had to park a mile away from the start. That's Eddie, warming up. Stoopid type "A" Ultra runners getting here early...........

They played the Canadian Anthem for us, and everyone applauded heartily, which was nice.

"Oh Canada, we stand on guard, for, theeeeeeeeeee"

Maps and Eddie, ready to bring it.

Us Ultra runners gave the marathoners a 20 minute head start. We kept busy by starting a fire and telling old battle stories.

The finish line.  Must visualize crossing the finish line...............

B e a-utiful day here in Manistee MI, while New York was getting hammered by Hurricane Irene.

Story time at the campfire.
Guy in Blue-"Yeah, I ran the 100 at Haliburton last year. Fell and broke my leg at 50 miles but finished it anyway".
Guy in green-"Yeah, this is my 16th 50 miler. This year". 
  Girl in Yellow says "This is just a training run for me, I'm doing a 100 in three weeks". Oh, there's always one, isn't there?

Eddie and maps go flying past me as the marathon gets underway at a very reasonable 7:20 a.m.

The 50 milers just before the start at 7:40 a.m.
 Well before you know it, the 50 milers were underway. I felt very good at the start, too good in fact to run slowly. Turns out the course is very hilly, and lots of people are tripping on roots and stumps and are covered with dirt from numerous falls.
   But the aid stations are great, the weather is great, the trail is great. The volunteers are friendly. I'm happy just to be doing my first 50 miler, so I take it easy. Until I started to catch the slower marathoners. Then I start passing people. Lots of people. I'm going too fast, but don't realize it. What an idiot! Eventually, I catch up to Maps, which is surprising because he's a good runner. He tells me he has fallen twice and hurt his knee badly. He's been attacked by bees. The only thing keeping him going is the 3lb. finisher's medal. Hey, this trail was supposed to be easy!
   Before I know it, the first 20 miles are done. I'm feeling a bit tired but OK. Then, after about 4:25, there's Eddie, and I'm done my first 25 mile loop. Eddie has crushed the marathon and made the podium for his age group.
  I wound up spending six minutes in transition, changing shirts, reloading gels, using the port-o-potty (too much information?) etc. and was off for loop # 2. Hey, I don't remember this hill being steep. After 30 miles, I start to walk the hills I should have walked the first loop. After 31 miles (50K) I realize I'm pooched. Only 19 miles to go. A few runners start passing me, saying "You look strong!" Not good.
A section of the Manistee National Forest where someone spray painted all the trees purple.
   So now I'm in uncharted territory, this is now the farthest I've ever gone. I figger I've got 19 miles to go, and just over 8 hours to do it. As long as I keep moving forward, that Flava Medal is mine! Many more runners pass me. However,  I do keep moving forward, and after a painful but very enjoyable 10 hours and 43 minutes (6:10 2nd loop) my 1st 50 miler is done!
50 miles, done. Where's the beer at?

Maps's left knee. It would look worse in the morning.

Watermelon......... Where's the beer?


Burger Chef. Great food afterwords, + 3 local beers available.

Sunny and hot at the finish. It was nice to hang around and cheer the Ultras as they came in.

The trail was dusty, that's caked on.
 So Eddie and Maps had gone back to the hotel after their race, showered and picked up the Captain. They all met me at the finish, and we chilled for an hour or so. Great to see the Captain finally up and about. He sure got his money's worth out of that hotel room.
We found this amazing take out spot. Baked subs and deep-dish pizza. We headed there and picked up pizza for the hotel.It was prolly about 8:30 p.m. when we ate.

Hotel beer!
 Captain started to come around a bit, he even had some pizza and a beer. We watched a bit of the news, hurricane Irene was apparently destroying New York City, and we were very glad to be where we were, instead of there. After trading race horror stories and putting another dent in the beer pile, it was lights out.

Now comes the funny part. We leave early the next day for Toronto, and at 11:40, we pull off the highway for lunch. So where do we wind up? At Applebee's. But not just any Applebee's. By pure coincidence, it's the same one Captain had been throwing up in on Friday!
 We sat at the same table, and once again our server was Danielle! Small world. And she remembered the Captain being sick, as we had filled her in on why he wasn't eating with us last time. She asked with a chuckle if he wanted a chocolate shake. We tried to order more Shocktops, but Danielle told us the bar doesn't open until noon, which was 15 minutes away.

   We told her we would need more time to decide. By the time we ordered and got our food, it was noon, glorious noon. Anyhow, I got a Jalepeno burger, and it was good. And more Shock Tops. Captain was brave and ordered the chicken. No chocolate shake.
To avoid the lineup at the bridge to Canada, Captain got us on this sweet ferry across Lake St. Clair.That's another ferry in the background.

It was pretty choppy, but we got through customs "like shit through a goose".

They named the trailhead after Toronto's own Frank Mahovlich. Who knew?
  One thing all three of us commented on was the amount of garbage runners dropped on the trail.We have never seen that before. Gel packs, paper towels,water bottles, all over the place. I felt sorry for the sweeps. Maybe a lot of first timers who don't know you carry your garbage to the next aid station?
   None the less, we thought it was a pretty great road trip, although Captain's food poisoning put a bit of a damper on things. Looks like he's got this race booked again for next year, as he really wants that medal. Thanks to the race directors, the trail was impeccably marked and the post race meal, beer and swag was incredible.We highly recommend it.
Two interesting things.

A) I pulled a muscle in my leg I didn't even know I had. Inside the quad, from the knee to the groin.It actually had me pretty worried for a while. It still hurts a bit, 2 days later.
B) I passed a lot of runners on the 1st loop, but nowhere near as many that passed me on the 2nd loop. I only passed maybe 5 people on the second loop, but 30-40 passed me, especially in the last 5 miles.

  Three things about your 1st 50 mile race I learned.
1) Take it easy for as long as you can. Walk the hills, even if you feel strong.This lack of discipline explains my 4:25 ish first loop, and my 6:15ish second loop. One hour difference I can see. But almost 2 hours?
2) Train using longer back to back runs and "time on your feet" runs.
3) Next time, pick an easier course!
Full Ultra Results
Full Marathon Results

Also, Congrats to Portage for a 10K p.b. of 1:06 at the Women's Only Run on Saturday. Way to go!I see a sub 60 minute 10K in your future.

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