Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Night Runner

 As I wrote in my 2021 Year in Review, one of my major goals for this year was to improve at night running. I inadvertently got a head start on that goal by getting the overnight leg at Sulphur, and specifically signed up for Tally 12 hour night. 

My #1 goal was to move my ass faster than a stroll once the sun went down, as I was quite disappointed in my inability to run last year during the 24 hour. Starting with fresh legs in the dark was a huge mental boost. I had some headlamp issues on the first loop, pretty much relied on Brian's headlamp. It turned out to be ID10T user error and HALLELUJAH! I had no other headlamp problems for the rest of the race. 

My #2 goal was to at least equal my distance PB for 12 hours.

I find that a sign of a good ultra is that the first 30K or so goes by quickly and it was the case for this race. My third loop was quite fast, chasing Andrea, but in a replay of 2019, my glute pain came on and staying at an easy pace helped it to feel better, plus some CBD pain salve and some vitamin I. Most of the time, I want company, but this time, I felt better just enjoying the quiet of the night and not having to make conversation.

I finished 5 loops in about 5.5 hours, at first I thought it would be easy to do the same in the remaining 6.5 hours, but the naturally slowing pace with fatigue was getting to me. I decided that I REALLY wanted a distance PB, but to push myself into the red zone to get 70K was more than I was mentally prepared to do. Time for the cinnamon flavoured sports drink!

"It's 5 o'clock somewhere."
"yeah 5 am!"

I finished loop 9 with 45 minutes left and needed to get to the 4K loop marker for a distance PB. I was hungry but didn't want to waste time to stop and eat. So I threw down 2 large cups of Gatorade at the aid station, ran the hilly Sawmill section as fast as my tired legs would let me and topped up nutrition with the biggest, juiciest raspberries I've ever seen growing near the train station. I reached 4K at around...8:58 am (cutting it close there, lady!) for a very small distance PB and took the shortcut back to Spring Creek to get back to the start/finish and I didn't bother running much there at all, why bother?

Xavier and Cassandra's loop-counting
Poo Sculpture

With this race, I feel like I have trained my brain to make my legs keep going in the dark. I'm taking the rest of the summer off from racing, and look forward to seeing if I can put it all together for 24 hours at 3 Days in the Park in October.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrise sunset, sunrise sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears.

I'm not sure why I never did Sunburn Solstice in the past, maybe it was the time of year, or maybe it was the small loop. After my 1 mile loop 100 miler, I have definitely changed my opinion to prefer shorter loops.

I had free race entries to use from volunteering, and I chose the full solstice, running from sunrise to sunset. Somehow I thought, "15 hours is not much longer than 12 hours, and..." I don't know, it somehow didn't seem that long to me and I suddenly realized WAIT! it is a really goddamn long time to run!

The Burly crew before the carnage.

I had no particular goals heading in, except that I would like to run an ultra distance. I thought it would be theoretically possible to run 80K, but I was absolutely not mentally prepared to run 80K. 

Stepping outside at 4:45 am, the air was fresh and thankfully not disgusting humidity soup. The first 20K went by fairly quickly. I would describe the trail as "1.5 track" - not wide enough for people to pass unless they were right on the edge, and with a long out and back section plus super speedy runners on the course, I was constantly jumping out of the way as people came up from behind and towards me, and this made me very, very anxious.

Trying to feel better with Harry hugs.

I sat down for quite awhile, and the thought of having to dodge people for 12 more hours made me want to cry. I thought about calling it quits, but that also made me want to cry. But I just couldn't make myself get out of the chair and keep going. I had some phone and text conversations with Audrey and Greg, and decided that the best course of action would be to find someone to keep me company and to distract from the constant people dodging. I asked X to run with me, but he was racing with his relay team and couldn't. I asked Nancy, and she said yes.

Nancy: the ray of sunshine who
managed to get my butt moving.

Audrey showed up for a visit and did another loop with me. Then I did a few loops solo and hit another bad spot 40K in. I wasn't particularly tired, injured, hungry, overheated, or anything like that, I just didn't feel like continuing. X came over and said Mikaela would run with me if I wanted. Now having only met Mikaela about a month ago, I'm a bit leery about running with someone new. But I said yes.

She kept me going, at whatever pace I wanted...one loop at a time...thank you!

I saw Brian and my stomach felt pretty bad at that moment...maybe I shouldn't drink Fireball. Maybe I should drink Fireball because my stomach felt bad!

I definitely didn't feel worse after Fireball.

I had a semi-fleeting thought to hit 71K for 44 miles, but decided it was best to not push myself to hit distance goals. The loop was not quite 4K, so I crossed the finish and wanted to hit 60K on my watch. I crossed the finish line at 59.36K and 59.5K in, my vision went black, I got seriously nauseous and I had to sit down right there. It's like mentally crossing the finish made my body shut down and say, "fuck you, we're DONE!". After Mikaela got me some water and Audrey returned for another visit, I did manage to hit 60K on my watch.

I will say that this was definitely the worst race I've ever had mentally, although you could argue that I was mentally strong for having managed to pull myself out of the dumps twice. I don't think I did anything wrong except not being prepared to run for that length of time, and the out and backs really threw me off. Anyways, not an "A" race for me..now a few weeks until Tally 12 hour night.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Conquer the Canuck 2022 - Classic Canuck

 I registered for this two day race in the Before Times, thinking that it would be great training for building up to 100 miles. After being cancelled for 2 years, this race no longer had a specific training purpose, but running long on back to back days (with the longer distance on the second day) was still something I hadn't ever done.

Day 1 - 25K

Great weather, cool and sunny. Carpooled with Audrey. I had to resist the urge to bring my ultra bin and All The Food - had to keep reminding myself that it was only 25K and to pack lightly. Ducked off trail to do my business before the race and got about 10 mosquito bites on my face and scalp! 

My first pic with Harry.

The course was 3 loops of 8.33K, I tried not to go too fast to have some gas left for Sunday. 

Finishing the 25K, not DFL. Photo: Audrey

I feel like it was worthy to mention that afterwards, Audrey and I went to Reverence Barrel Works for refreshments. The chef came out and explained that he was developing some snacks, would we like to sample some?

I ate cantaloupe.

and the most delightful mushroom pate.

Then I went home, and spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch with my legs up, and tried to do as little as possible in order to rest up.

Day 2 - marathon

The forecast called for rain, I brought a jacket, but it only ended up raining during the first loop. I got about 10 mosquito bites on each calf, despite wearing compression socks. The race felt as I expected: really shitty for the first 5K, and then a dull ache the rest of the time. I had my special 'cinnamon flavoured sports drink' after loop 2 (of 5) and got a great boost as usual. There was a girl who would beat me out of the start/finish area every loop, but I'd pass her again. The final loop, I assume she had had enough and absolutely took off, I did not have enough gas in the tank to catch her again. There was a spot where there was an out and back, this girl gave me a shit eating grin when she passed me, and what sounded like a faintly sarcastic "good job" at the finish. I don't think I would do this 2 day challenge again, except for training purposes to get some huge weekend mileage numbers in. And I will definitely remember to wear even more bugspray.

Photobomber. Photo: Robin

Monday, 30 May 2022

Mud, Sweat, and Fireball - Sulphur 100 mile relay

 In 2017, I said I wouldn't do another relay unless I had friends as teammates. When Sulphur registration was happening, there was some Burly interest in the relay, but 20K didn't feel like enough of a challenge, so Agnes, Brian, Delano, and I decided to form a team to each run a more challenging distance of 40K.

I got to DVCA just before noon, to see Brian coming in at least 2 hours faster than expected. Temperature and trail conditions were as good as my first 50K back in 2015. I ran a 5K shakeout with Greg on the lollipop and felt bad that racers were saying "great job!" when we weren't doing anything significant and had to stop the photographer from taking our picture.

Gathering of trail friends! photo by Wes.

I was running the final leg, so there was at least 12 hours of downtime. Nothing to do but drink and nap!

I had to cut myself off after double
barreled champagne and radler action.

Agnes naps before her leg.

After Agnes started her leg and the sun set, I lay down in the tent to get something closer to actual sleep. It wasn't super noisy but there was occasional cheers and music was playing constantly so it was hard to fall asleep but I think I did catch a couple of winks. She started just after 6 pm so I was expecting her to finish around 1, waaaay earlier than the 4-5 am I thought it would be! Fortunately the aid station had hot coffee and I had plenty of time to wake up and be ready to start running.

Pass the baton..I mean ankle timing chip!

I'm off around 1 am...and halfway down Martin Road, Steve and Audrey were finishing, so I talked Steve into keeping me company for at least half of the first loop. I'm definitely not scared to run in the dark, but it's nicer with company. I very very stupidly didn't charge my headlamp before the race - I think on some level because I was expecting to start my leg closer to sunrise? Anyways, my headlamp started to die. Did I have batteries and other headlamps? yes, in my bin at the start, not on my person. Steve and I swapped headlamps at the lollipop - he could make it back with my headlamp.

Between loops, I raced as I trained and did a shot of Fireball as a performance enhancer. Yes, it really works if you do it right, and I felt fantastic on the first half of the second loop in the pre-dawn darkness. My headlamp started to die again, but I googled the sunrise time, which was less than an hour away.

It was so quiet and peaceful, and the air smelled deliciously of fresh spring flowers. It was easy to achieve my 2022 goal of actually running at night, by utilizing the "ultra shuffle" that I've been practicing. I started getting sleepy when on the 3 Bitches, but I woke myself up by throwing out my arms and taking deep breaths of that scented air.

Even though technically Team Mud, Sweat, and Fireball was last in the relay standings, I'm 99.9% sure that we were the only team with only 4 runners, which of course makes the race harder.

Teamwork makes the dream work!
(with Fireball bottle mascot)

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Twenty Twenty One (hundred miles)

It is once again time for the annual year in review post. Obviously, the BHAG that was achieved this year was my first 100 miler. Here's another picture of my buckle, because it is just that amazing.

bought from Molly's Custom Silver


As I write this post, I am at 3598.7K for the year. I ran 3612K in 2020, so I am on track to hit at least 3613K this year. I should aim for 3650K in 2022, in order to average 10K daily.


3 in person (Tally 24 hour, 3 Days in the Park, The Leftovers)
2 virtual (Valentine's Fatazz, Tail Chaser)
All ultra distance except The Leftovers.


2 - Niagara Winter E2E, Avon Trail.


- the 100 miler, obviously. Seeing so many friends take time from their busy lives to keep me company really meant everything to me.
- my first winter ultra.
- volunteering at more events than I ever have before. It's not just for karma points, it's SO FUN!

- the great times on and off the trail spent with friends at various events.


- Rolling my already permanently wonky right ankle some more and dooming myself to a life with an ankle brace.
- getting way more aches and niggles despite taking up mobility instead of yoga. Obviously I am not dedicated enough, or age is catching up to me.
- hiding behind a tree in some lady's yard for like an hour, because the shortcut back to the trail was in her yard and she sat out there talking on the phone the whole time.

Goals for 2022:

- at least 2022 miles. Maybe I can hit that goal before Halloween?
- NOT run a 100 miler. 
- I want to work on making myself run more during the night and when I'm tired.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

3 Days in the Park

Loop 1 of 92. Photo by Rachelle.

It's a goal 3 years in the making. On September 28, 2018, I publicly stated my intention to run a 100 miler in the next 5 years. At the time, I had run 1 50 miler and 1 100K. I felt like I needed more experience in the 50 mile+ distances so I ran one more 50 miler and 3 more 100Ks

I was planning on staging my own run to suit my needs: not too hilly or technical loops of between 5-10K, 48 hours, pacers allowed at any time, all trail/no road and in the fall/early winter and not too far from home.

Clay proposed 3 Days in the Park months ago, without major details until it was clear the event would happen. It fit all my needs except one: the course was a 1-ish (1.092) mile loop. I was really concerned that I'd go crazy from boredom, but since everything else was perfect, I signed up.

Rachelle drove me to the race start and ran the first loop (of 92) with me. I was the only person registered for 48 hours, so until Saturday morning at 9, the only registered runners on the course were me, K, Brad from Indiana, and Monica.

The first morning and afternoon were fairly uneventful. I was a little lonely by mid afternoon and messaged Lori that I would love for her to come keep me company, when Wendi showed up as well! 

gifts of food are always appreciated.
Thanks, Lori for the chicken pho!

Audrey was the next pacer for Friday overnight. It had rained off and on all day, but the course was still in relatively good shape. It was my pre-race plan to nap in the wee hours, but Audrey planned to stay until 4, so I decided to hold off on the biggest sleep until after she left, although I had a short 20 minute nap just before midnight. It was meant to be a bit longer, but my legs were aching and I wanted food more than sleep.

I took my hair down, took my shoes and socks off and napped quite soundly until 6. The sound of rain on my tent made it very peaceful and I woke up almost as refreshed as if I'd had a full night's sleep. There was just a couple of loops by myself in the pre-dawn before Brian arrived for the start of his 12 hour and Nina and Delano shortly after.

"Trails n' Tunes" should be a thing - musical geekery with Nina,
my student from looooooooong ago.

mid-morning with Brian, Delano and Xavier, 
thankfully minus the vuvuzela.

People have been asking what I least expected during the 100: I would definitely say it was needing poles for basically what was a flat loop (except for one short, steep hill). After about 50 miles it was very difficult to climb, even pushing on my quads. I put out a call on FB for anyone to stop by my house to grab the poles out of my car...

...but Michele and Wes arrived, with Michele's poles, which were not as light as mine, but a million times better than nothing! She also fed me clementines, as my hands were full. 

Wes: make an angry face!

Celebrating a new distance PB with Fireball shot #1.

Seeing Tank crewing K made me miss Greg terribly. He and B came to see me for just a few minutes. He also brought my poles.

Not dressed to run, but got a big hug.
📷 Kathryn

Heading in to the 2nd night final stretch, I had Rachelle, Josh, Lori and Agnes. The weather was wild in that there were clear skies with a million stars and then 20 minutes later a total downpour. With all the weather changes, and perhaps because of its own brand of magic, the loop never got boring. 
📷 Josh

Rachelle went to sleep and Agnes noticed some discrepancies from what her watch showed, and the official scoreboard (Clay, Andrea and some other helpers manually counted laps). I had lost count of laps before noon on the first morning and obviously was in no state to discuss numbers but Agnes went to talk and they gave me an extra loop based on her evidence.
The temperature was much colder the 2nd night and I put on my warmest clothes, which was adequate. At one point, we were talking about food (of course) and I thought that hot chocolate and Fireball would be a delicious combo. At the end of that loop, I asked for hot chocolate and like magic, it was ready by the time I finished the next loop. That was definitely warming!

I also ate another ramen, and Lori and I headed out, with Josh trailing behind. Agnes had gone to sleep so that she could drive me home after. Josh had brought no pants and his teeth were chattering very hard so Lori and I shooed him back to the warm tent. "no pants, no pacing!"

 Glowing red heaters scare the shit out of me. 

The most embarrassing thing that happened was around 80-90 miles, when I popped a squat on uneven ground, and tipped forward on my knees with my bare butt in the air. 
Josh borrowed Rachelle's pants, and warmed by Weird Roadie Gary's plain noodles in hot water "ramen", plus a candle under his butt, returned for the last loop. We woke Brian and Agnes up with 2 laps remaining, so they could see me finish.

Still not tired of the loop. It was simply beautiful, 
especially at night. 📷 Rachelle

I'm a 100 MILE FINISHER. Damn that sounds good!

All the thanks to Clay for putting together an extraordinary event, my longest distance being the smallest "race" I've ever done. Thanks to the crew for taking care of our every need: Andrea, Gary and the others whose names I didn't get Congratulations to the other runners for their achievements. And most of all, THANK YOU!!!!! to everyone who came out to support me, it really means everything that so many people took time out of their busy lives to help little old me achieve my huge goal. 💖💖💖

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Tally in the Valley 24 hour

 Tally 24 hour was a deferral from 2020. I knew I wanted to do a 24 hour race in preparation for the 100 miler. I think a lot of people deferred to 2022 because this race got green lighted on 3 weeks notice, but I thought I was prepared enough, having run the 108K two months ago.

Because of the short notice, I was only able to peak with a 35K long run. Normally for big races, I have my outfit planned weeks in advance, but I still had no idea what to wear the night before and it made me kind of anxious. Adding to the anxiety was the pressure I was putting on myself to hit a particular distance goal. So I just grabbed the first mint green skirt I saw and packed one more outfit for the next day. The skirt for day 1 doesn't have built in shorts so I wore spanx underneath. From previous experience, I knew the skirt would slide down a lot so I safety pinned the skirt to the spanx.

Agnes arrived to drive me to the race and help set up my new tent. It was really nice not to have to look around for a familiar face and bum some space.

📷 Agnes

The race started, and not too much happened in the first 12 hours. The spanx/skirt combo was NOT working at all, and I was hauling up the whole thing every 2 minutes, very annoying. The weather was great, cloudy, not too hot. Mid afternoon, it started to spit, then escalated to a major downpour. I switched from the Terraventures to the Kalenji shoes with amazing grip as it started to get really slippery on the hills. Aside from a few words with fellow racers, and a few volunteers, I was completely by myself and while I would have liked to have someone to talk to, I wasn't going insane from being in my own head.

The rain had stopped by the time Steve showed up at 9 pm, but the forecast was calling for more rain. My shirt had not dried at all, and felt miserably soggy, and I had chafing in the nether regions, so I changed to my other outfit with much difficulty, trying to wrestle damp clothes while lying on the tent floor. Steve put on his rain gear, a garbage bag skirt that is sure to be the next craze in ultra fashion.

This is a huge problem that I need to overcome, but when the sun goes down I seem to automatically lose the will to run. With the rain coming down hard, I ended up walking 99% of the 7 hours with Steve. I also regretted not owning/bringing a rain jacket, because being out in the pouring rain in the middle of the night is not fun.

video courtesy of Bodyrockintv

At 4 am, I was 13 loops in and needed 3 more loops to hit my BAM goal for the race. Steve did the math and said I could make it at the same pace, if I kept my breaks under 10 minutes. But Audrey was my next pacer, and she would ask me to run an easy downhill here, up to the next flag there, and as the sun came up I found the will to run again.

📷 Audrey

There was just over an hour to do the final 5K, and that made me want to push a bit harder to make sure I hit my goal, which I did, with 10 minutes to spare. There were a lot of friends at the finish, all screaming my name as I crossed the finish line. That was a new experience to me, and absolutely amazing.
📷 Kathryn D.

I didn't make my A goal of 17-18 loops, but I am happy with what I achieved (a PB distance) and with three 100K+ runs in the past 18 months, I feel somewhat prepared for the thick of 100 mile training coming up.