Monday, 25 May 2015

Sulphur Springs 50K race report

I got pretty sick of being asked, "are you excited?" leading up to the race.  The answer was NO.  If I let myself get excited, that would lead to nerves and downward spiral from there.

My only goal for the race was FINISH.  Peter was sick/injured and when he decided to go, Nicole convinced him to start slowly with me.  I was going to hitch a ride to Dundas Valley with Henro, but he was sick and wasn't sure he was going to go.  So I got a ride with Steve, whom I have met once at the Avon Thru Run.

Even though the morning forecast called for cool temps, I stuck with my tank + skirt but also had a throwaway jacket.  Except that Steve texted that he was early and already in my driveway, so I ran around, grabbing things and forgot the jacket.

Got out of the car at DVCA, and damn it's cold! I got my bib and shirt, I could have put on the shirt to keep warm but I wasn't going to jinx myself by wearing the shirt before finishing.  Found Henro and Peter.  Saw Steven and Rhonda. It's kind of amazing how many ultra/trail people I know already!

I have a Garmin 210, and from the Avon run, I knew that the battery would be close to death around 7 hours, so I didn't turn it on until the last possible second.  But then the race started and I still didn't have satellites.  I didn't get satellites until at least 10 minutes in.

The first "lollipop" loop on Headwaters was great, if a bit crowded, especially in the beginning when we were running with the 25K-ers, and then on the downhill when the 10K-ers were starting their race.  But I saw Beth!

Back up Martin Rd. for the first time and said hi to Clay, who was heading downhill, and then Peter and I heard someone saying something about the HoJo and it was Robin!  We didn't need anything so onto the first 20K loop.  The pace still felt great, the temperature was absolutely perfect, no wind, no humidity and there was not a single mosquito in sight.  

My nutrition plan, thanks to Alissa, was to eat every hour.  I think the first 2 hours I had gels, and then the 3rd hour coincided with an aid station, so I had some oranges and a ginger ale.  There was cantaloupe at the aid stations, of all the foods. *gak*

Peter went into the race with shin splints and he said the pain was tolerable, but being sick from the flu was making him woozy.  I ran on ahead and talked a bit to a lady (Agnes) who had said, "I'm sure we'll be passing each other many times today." I broke one of my rules and called Greg just past the halfway point (showed 25K on my Garmin) to tell him I was still on pace for 7 hours and people who overheard my conversation laughed, probably at the absurdity of someone talking on the phone while in the woods during a race.  Peter said he was going to drop out back at the start, we saw Clay and Robin again going down while we were heading up.  Also Jamie from IG.  I had felt a little hot spot on my big toe, so I put BodyGlide on it and said bye to Peter.  Two seconds after I started running, I felt the telltale scrape of a chafe starting on my pit, so I doubled back, slapped on more BodyGlide and off I went for real.  My Garmin showed 26K at the start of the 2nd loop.

Robin had (jokingly?) said I'd probably catch her but the longer stop made it impossible.  It really was amazing how spread out everyone was.  Pre-race, I was really worried about navigating the steep, narrow and technical downhill connection from Monarch to Sulphur Creek Trails in a crowd, but I was pretty much alone, sometimes with Agnes and behind one other dude, Burgundy Shirt in Road Shoes.  Occasionally a speed demon in the relay blew by us, and Jeff Rowthorn, looking cheerful.  

I've always heard that trail runners are the friendliest people around, and the support of the other competitors was amazing.  Literally every runner I saw said "great job!" or "looking good!" with a big smile and I had a big smile on my face in return.

Alissa had said in her wise words of pre-race wisdom that I should count steps: 50 running/25 walking to keep myself from trudging.  I did walk a lot in the 2nd loop, but I never felt like I was doing a death march.  Sometimes I would catch myself walking pretty flat/downhill sections and when I forced myself to run and count steps, it never felt like my legs were going to fall off and I definitely never felt so bad that I had to wait 10 minutes for things to change.  The old cliche Relentless. Forward. Motion. kept me going and I didn't really need motivation to not quit (unlike pretty much every other race EVER!) but I remembered that I already ordered the 50K car sticker so... :)

The final time on Headwaters, Agnes directed me the wrong way and I ran about 5 metres before everyone at the aid station yelled for me to come back. "I want my 5 metres back!" But then she gave me great news, I was thinking that there was still 10-15K to go and it was actually less than 10, as her watch was showing 38K - mine was showing about 35 - and that Headwaters is a lot shorter than the advertised 10K. Also that we were on pace for sub 7 hours. Right before tackling the Three Bitches for the final time, I gave Greg another call, "I HAVE LESS THAN 10K TO GO, GET YOUR ASS TO THE FINISH!", made the turnaround and enjoyed that final extended downhill.  My thought was, I have done this crazy race.  All I have to do is not fucking trip and hurt myself! 

At the bottom of Martin Road, Robin was waiting for me, which was SO SO wonderful of her!  I kinda wish I could have run some of that hill, but walking would get me to the finish just as well.  My Garmin beeped low battery as I was climbing the hill. I did run the final stretch into the chute.  Greg didn't get there in time to see me finish.

So I have finally done what I swore I would never do: run an ultra and on trails, no less!  And now I want to do more!  But most of the ultras around here are in the summer, and I haaaaaaaaaaate heat, humidity and most of all, mosquitoes.  I was looking at a 50K in the fall but training would have to start NEXT WEEK and I can't deal with that...but there will be more ultras in my future, there is no doubt about it.

Official chip time: 6:54:12
Pace: 8:18/km
Field Placement: 83/127 (65.4%)
Gender Placement: 41/50 (82%)

The celebratory burger and poutine from Chuck's was delicious!


  1. Amazing job, Patty! You conquered your dislike of trails AND ultras and did a great job doing it. :) Can't wait to see what you decide to do next!

  2. Great report and glad not a single mosquito was seen, and that you enjoyed this! Except for the cantaloupe, yuk, can't eat it either.

  3. Congratulations, that's a spectacular finish for your first 50K on an not so easy course. Well done and great to see you out there a couple of times :) What an accomplishment. You'll be hooked now.

  4. Awesome!! Sorry that I asked if you were excited last week. LOL Good luck on your next adventure.

  5. Right on!!!! Wow. 50K!!!

  6. I still vividly remember how you said you'd never, EVER run on trails, or an ultra. Look at you now! Congratulations!!!

    You make these trail runners sound so happy. Sounds like a very different world from road races.

    I loved the comment you made on Dailymile: "bullshit, I am not eating healthy food after running 50K"

  7. Congrats Patty! So next year 50 miler? :) So glad you enjoyed it!