a race report? hmmmm.
So it’s the morning after the day before, early, with more beautiful sunshine and strong bitter coffee. Yesterday’s race was a superb adventure which is going to be tough to put into words but here goes.
The Friday night before the race, I slept well and woke feeling fresh and ready to go, the sky was almost cloudless and most of the weeks oppressive humidity had gone. 65f. Seven thirty, signed the scarey waiver, made a couple of CR friends, did a head count (just in case we lost someone), listened to Dan’s pre race instructions mentioned bears, moose but it was the weather fore cast that worried us 90F & high humidity…. and we’re good to go. By this time it must’ve been 75f and rising. I had hydrated well on fiday, drank lots that morning and was armed with 70oz of gatorade with 6 e-caps dissolved in it…. should be OK …. worked in Mexico anyway.
At this point K decided to sign up as a volunteer and get involved… she now has her own story to tell, a t-shirt and a whole different understanding of the game. She wished me luck and that was it, we were on our way.
I’m totally hopeless at remembering details….. so forgive me any inaccuracies. I tried to get a good start and get a nice place somewhere towards the middle of the pack, although I was consious of the halfers and keen newbies going out too fast. A steep climb up some single track and then dragging ourselves up some really steep stuff with the help of a rope. More uphill, some mud, more single track, got to the first AS at about one hour. All was well, I didn’t waste any time just kept going. The second section started to get a bit tougher as far as the mud factor. More up, some down, more trail and then the first section of river. I confess, I like running in the river, there is nothing quite like it to offer as a comparison…. you’ll just have to go out and try it yourself . I passed a few more prudent runners and was glad to have had a little insight from the weekend training with Dan the RD. AS 2 was at the base station of Jay and it was here that the work really began. I changed my socks, greased my tootsies, inhaled some solids and set off up the hill.
I had decided a long time ago that this was a power walk thing but few runners passed me as I kept a steady pace. Stopped a couple of times to bring down my HR and to drink. Chatted with a couple of other Canadians who had done it last year in about 6:40 they were budgeting about an hour extra for the weather and the ugly, new start. At the top another aid station all was well at this point and I was feeling pretty strong and looking forward to the downhill…. a mistake. The route down was on one of Jay’s expert ski runs and I braced my quads for a rough ride. my shoes held well on some of the more slippery wet grass parts and as the hill was in a cloud of mist at the top the heat didn’t come into play. All was well until about 10 minutes into the decent when I felt the first tiny twinge of the cramp monster….. coming to get me again. I’m kind of getting used to having my best efforts buggered by cramp and one day I’ll figure out what to do…. salt caps, bananas, fluids, strength exercises …. you name it I’m trying them all.
Back to my race. So I did what felt like the smart thing, I stopped and stetched my calves and carried on to the next AS at the foot of the hill without any more real twinges but in the back my mind I knew what might follow. More fluids, solids and I regreased my toes as the next section involved the long river section. On my way again, more mud, more ups & downs, more mud, more trails and by this time the heat was starting to factor in on things. It was awarm day. I was still feeling strong but the odd twinge of cramp would remind me from time to time that there was still along way to go and lots of obstacles between me and the finish. There’s a point in the course where you pass Dan’s backyard and descend down some stairs in the rocks into a deep section of the river…one of the official photographers had positioned himself strategic there… I posed, smiled and bounded into the 4′ deep water and at this moment I experienced something new. What seemed like all of my leg muscles seemed to cramp simaltaineously, not the worst cramp ever but enough stop me from moving and enough to scare the shit out of me… I was up to my neck in fast running water. I almost panicked but it passed just as quickly as it arrived. I got to the shallow water and started the river run section with a strange fear of what might be happening in my muscles. At this point I was still running quite well but every now and then I’d make a funky move or land less than perfectly and the calf muscle involved would respond with a shooting cramp… ouch! stop, stretch and run. Passed a few and got passed by a few so despite the cramp I was moving along alright. So out of the river, and more track through the woods and on to AS 5 which was the cut 5 1/2 hour cut off point at 18 1/2 miles. I was happy to look at my watch 4:15…. not too bad! Didn’t waste too much time here and pushed on, still running, still cramping but still able to deal with it. I’m not great about the remembering all the details, certain thing s stand out in my mind but the exact sequence of events tends to get a bit blurred. Anybody that was there, reading this is more than welcome to correct any errors that I make regarding what & where.
About at this point I was becoming aware of the weather. It was hot, I was drenched, mud covered and even if the humidity wasn’t actually that bad the dampness of everything made up for it. Everything was just giving of steam, I was drinking loads, I ate well and pressed on. I think it was around here that the much talked about swamp section happened. It wasn’t the worst part, knee deep mud and water and 7′ high grass made it like a very steamy dirty maze, it passed quickly.
More trails, hills and a bit of scrambling up slopes through the woods and we then came into a blueberry field which was AS 6. It was here that my problems really started….
I was still running albeit slowly and stiffly but running all the same. As I aproached the AS a couple with a couple of very young toddlers were wandering along picking blueberries oblivious to the fact that the mud-covered runner heading towards them had no control over his lower limbs, and I only found this out as I tried to stop. I hit the brakes, nothing happened and I proceeded to nearly trample a three year old. Tears, apologies, blueberries everywhere and yours truely got the double cramp in both calves that brought me to my knees and put tears in my eyes. I limped to the AS 6 and layed on my back for a few moments wondering if my day was done. The cramp subsided, I changed into fresh shoes and socks, ate, filled my camel back, drank whatever energy drink they were giving out, swallowed 6 e-caps and decided to try and walk the last 8 miles if I had to. Popped a couple of Advil too and thanked god that the next quater mile wasn’t that tough. The next section was an uphill, totally exposed and very tough on my fragile muscles. Nobody was running at this point. I had been sharing the experience on and off the past 3 hours with a tri dude in his 40’s called Karl, at this point we were both hobbling and laughing at pretty much anything. The distraction probably saved me. After this there was a fairly long section in the woods where my power(sic) walking caught a veteran runner who was sort of shuffling along at about my pace. His theory was that I should continue to P-W for another mile or so and then try to run. He promised me that the cramp would pass. He was right. At AS 7 I was running again … very slowly and painfully but running all the same. Somewhere near the end came the sand-dune. About 40 yards in length and very exposed to the sunshine, the only thing I could think of to tackle this was to take it sideways, the way you climb back up a ski hill after a wipe out where you’ve lost both your skis…. not very graceful I confess but it got me to the top and I continued on. Sort of running and grinning inwardly as I knew that nothing would stop me getting to finish line and I might even squeek in under 8 hours.
So somewhere in the last mile, which was another sick mud bath, I ran into what I figured ws a mud hole, maybe knee deep…. not so it was mid-calf deep and as my both legs sank in the cramp hit just one last time. I was pretty much up to my waste in mud as I feel backwards into the mire, unable to move anything in my legs. It was like every fibre siezed all at once. Even my abs and the muscles in my back were starting to cramp too… I got the help of two runners who were coming up behind me and a girl tri athelete who tried to pull me out, gave up and wished me good luck as she left me there…. the two guys pulled me out asked if I could feel my legs…. diagnosed me as fit to finish and left me to get up and start shuffling again…. I could smell the finish line from here and gave it everything left in me to run down the grasy slope to the finish line. I crossed the line and had my medal hung round my neck by K who had been given the job of greeting the finishers…. she hugged my mud covered stinking body, gave a bottle of water…. and I hobbled over to the BBQ tent to sit down.
I got to shower with a couple of very beautiful mud-covered 20 somethings and I wolfed down a very welcome burger and chatted with a couple other grinning finishers. My body wasn’t too beaten up at this point and everything was just fine…. go figure. We went to Jay Village Inn for dinner and I had the fish & chips which had come into my thoughts at some point in the race… an omen.
The odd thing is that I was pretty mobile after the race, all of Sunday and only really suffered on Monday Tuesday. By wednesday I was considering running, I waited until Sunday and ran a slow, gentle 12 miles or so with a CR buddy with no after effects. I ran about 40 the week after…..
On the sunday after the race, K and I returned to the Blueberry Farm and picked a huge amount of wonderful organic blueberries… and inspected the site where I ran over the child…. not one of my most spectacular moments. We also visited and swan in the swimming hole I had passed the day before just after AS 5, the locals that were swimming had invited Karl &I to join them…. we had thought about it. It was a beautiful spot….
Anyway there it is. I will be going back next year, God willing….. just too much fun!!