Tuesday, 3 January 2023

2022 Year In Review


Well. It has been another year. I ran 3600 and 3622K in 2020 and 2021 respectively, and Steve put the idea in my head that I should run 3650K in 2022, for a nice even 10K/day average. I was surpassing that pace in October, then taper and recovery from 3DiP put me way behind, so I ended up having to run 70K+ weeks for the last 6 weeks of the year. Some off season! 

Race-wise, I focused on improving my night running, with 2 night-only events (Sulphur relay; Tally 12 hour night). However from observing others at long races, I think the secret is less moving fast through the night and rather just keep moving steadily through the night. Therefore, my main goal in 2023 is to fuck around a lot less at aid stops and do less aid stops, period.

In 2022, I tackled my first stage race, and it was much harder than I expected, especially with the longer distance on the 2nd day. My current favourite "distance" is 12 hours - but somehow thinking that 15:23 was not much longer than 12 hours messed me up in the head big time.

 I don't plan to run 100 miles again until 2024, and will spend 2023 building mileage and working on my race day weaknesses. Mileage wise, I will stick with running 2023 miles (3256K) and anything beyond that will be bonus. 

I'd like to work up the guts to try biking on (easy) singletrack.

My last run of the year was once again the beer mile - I hate it so much but it is the worst habit I can't break.

happy 2023, mothafockers!

Sunday, 23 October 2022

3 Days in the Park 24 hr - the FAFO edition

 I returned again in 2022 for more 1 mile loops at 3 Days in the Park (3DiP). This year, I "only" signed up for 24 hours as it was my goal to not run a 100 miler, but to improve my night running. 

The training block leading up to 3DiP was less than stellar, with me catching The Plague during peak week and missing my back to back long runs. Plus, my longest run of the year was 67K at Tally. Still, I thought a 24 hour distance PB or stretch goal of 120K was doable.

Loop 1 of several, with K and Brian.


Agnes arrived to start loop 3 with us, and in true Agnes fashion, we managed to bully her into a few more kilometres than she had planned.

Fireball shot #1

Saturday morning was quite chilly and windy, but at least the rain had mostly subsided. I was glad to have chosen full length tights. 

Harry had to take a selfie with a vanity plate with
"his" name on it.



The day went by in a flash, and soon it was headlamp o'clock. I took the opportunity to change into my night outfit. Since the low was supposed to be down near 0 C, I had brought All The Fleece and All the Merino Wool to wear. 

Lori came to keep me company for a few loops, and brought me some fortified happy grape juice. After running with Brian most of the day, Harry was happy to hang out in the tent and talk ultra with Existential Crisis Duck.



My next pacer was X, and in a flashback to last year, he showed up for the cold, cold night in shorts. Lori warmed him up with some mulled wine, Merlin served us long johns and blackberry gin. The "party room" area of the tent was really rockin' and it was more than a little difficult to get back out to run. I wasted around half an hour goofing around but it was so much fun! 


X left after only a short run because he was cold (surprise surprise!) and I ran a couple of hours by myself before Audrey showed up. I was still trying to do the ultra shuffle but being solo and no one else running (K and Deb were hiking at a great pace) made me want to hike too.

Gary had made improvements to the course and race HQ tent. There were motion sensor lights on the course, the roots were all painted orange with a reflective coating, and of course the neon lit arrows.

I wasn't trying to be antisocial;
I was trying to stay the fuck away from the 
very skeery glowing heaters.

After another too-short run/hike/shuffle with Audrey, I was solo for another couple of hours until Shannon and Darek and Charlie the tripod doggo arrived. Shannon had asked me beforehand what an ideal situation for them to arrive to was: still moving well, with some running. My legs were really sore from That Hill, my plantar fasciitis was flaring up, my ultra shuffle was not even the tiniest bit faster than my hike, and no one else on the course (K and Deb Bulten) was running. 

Fuck Around and Find Out

By this time, it was obvious that I would make none of my goals, because of too much fucking around at the party room/aid station. I focused on making it to at least 100K, which I did, finishing my last loop with 3 minutes to spare.

Finish line with Darek and Shannon

Awesome pic, except that Shannon blinked.

I hope that 3DiP remains a hidden gem, because you can't get that kind of service at any other race! I'll likely be back again next year...

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

Mileage: 

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.

Events:

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.

Badges:

2 - Niagara Winter E2E, Avon Trail.


Highlights:

- 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.

Lowlights:

- 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.