Wednesday 29 May 2024

Sulphur Springs 100K 2024 edition

I had a very strong training block leading up to the race. No major injuries or illness except for my glute, which continues be relatively under control as it bothers me only at night. I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes in March, which led to me overhauling my eating habits and consulting a registered dietitian to help me figure out race fueling.

The first 2 loops were fantastic, I ran them faster than the relay in 2022. The first loop was dry and the second was only light drizzle. I decided to stop dreading the parts of the loop that I hated and instead focus on the parts that I did like that were coming up. 

happy, dry, and clean

I ran most of loop 2 with Lorraine, which made time go by very quickly.

The dietitian had suggested that I eat 60g of carbs per hour, but I stupidly didn't carry food with me on loop 2, only eating small handfuls of food from the aid station, and I was thinking of baaaaaaacon and feeling pretty hungry during the last hour of that loop.

Loop 3 was run with Delano. I was scarfing down Portuguese egg tarts like there was no tomorrow, but I think I had already dug myself into a bit of a hole nutritionally. It was still raining and there were large puddles on the trail, so I did not think it was worth it to change my socks. They were still comfortable, just wet.

G Donald, as always, was the worst part of the course, in terms of both mud and general difficulty. It was starting to draw comparisons to the absolute mud hellhole of 2019. I was wearing toe condoms on my big toes only, having mainly blistered there previously. A sock and shirt change at the end of loop 3 was a big mental boost. Thanks to Liz for changing my socks, refiling my bladder, and grabbing my poles!

The weather finally started to clear up by loop 4, it was a beautiful golden hour. 

📷 Agnes

But I was having trouble mentally running even the downhills, and I was starting to feel hot spots on the smaller toes. I made the right decision to start out with the Xodus Ultra shoes, which had bigger lugs and more cushion than the UVPros. I thought the narrower toe box was possibly the cause of the blisters, so after loop 4, I went for the shoe change. There were some really nasty blisters on my middle and 4th toes. Eileen gingerly cleaned them with an alcohol wipe while I screamed bloody murder. 

foot first aid 📷 Eileen

My dreams of a giant PB slipped away during the very slow fourth loop and slow turnaround. There were times when I wanted to quit after 50 miles, but the thought of finishing, when so many had dropped that day kept me going.

Into the dark night with Josh for the final loop. I was several hours slower than expected, but kept plodding onward. I'll be honest, at this point I was 100% sure I was DFL and was looking forward to winning the Red Lantern. We met Wenna on the final lollipop and in my delirium, offered to pole fight her for last place, which she refused. Amazingly, neither of us were actually DFL!


As the sun rose over the horizon, I made my way up Martin Road for the last time. I find it amusing how I'm magically able to run again once I make the turn into the parking lot.

Unlike after my previous Sulphur 100K finish in 2017, when I promptly swore I'd never do this again and took a year to get over, I gotta do this again and then some in two short months at Tally 24 hour.

Friday 29 December 2023

2023 Year in Review - barely made it!


In January 2023, I wrote:

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

 January 2023 Patty thought that running 2023 miles/3256K would be a walk in the park compared to 3650K, but she didn't count on my left piriformis being, well, a pain in the ass most of the year. This injury started mid-2022 and crept up on me like a...something scary and pounced during one awful run at the end of March, where I also tweaked a muscle in my left foot, rendering the entire left side of my body useless. On doctor's orders, I took an entire week off running and started physio. Unfortunately, I only got better up to a point and there was no more improvement, and the physio only recommended more frequent sessions, which set off alarm bells. This past month, I have started with a new physio, and while I am still having bad days, I have made noticeable improvement in only 3 sessions. I hit my 2023 mile goal on Christmas Day after reduced mileage the first half of the year.

Race wise, I ran The Flurry Not A Snowshoe Race in February, followed by the 2 months of being in massive pain/low mileage. I recovered enough to run 50K at Conquer the Canuck, then celebrated my birthday by WINNING A RACE!

In August, I ran my longest distance of the year at Tally 12 hour and recovered with hydrotherapy.

My fall race was the 50K at Allegany State Park in Salamanca, NY, but DNF'd due to getting turned around on the course, so my race season ended on a low note.

Due to my IPOS state, I will most definitely NOT be running 100 miles in January 2024 as I originally planned. I'd like to have a really solid year of training down before my brain can even think about 100 miles again. My A race for the first half of 2024 is Sulphur 100K..then we shall see.

I had a "come to Jesus" moment with drinking in October, and I have greatly cut down alcohol consumption, which feels good.

To finish, a selection of Harry's costumes, and Yours Truly as Sexy Laz.

Wednesday 9 August 2023

Tally 12 hour day

 I have mostly recovered from the piriformis syndrome that knocked me out during the early spring. In the thick of working through the injury, I barely felt like a runner, so I dropped down to 12 hour day for Tally, because the thought of running 24 hours was overwhelming. 

The training went smoothly, although I felt more tired than usual, maybe because I didn't have as much of a mileage base?

I already knew it would be a challenge to go for a mileage PB for 12 hours on the clockwise course, plus the weather forecast wasn't looking great either. Nevertheless, time to try out my goal minimizing rest between loops. 

There was no Burly tent, and I didn't bring mine, so I walked around for a bit looking for someone to tent share with, and found Hanna. It was an absolute downpour before the start, and I decided to go with my inov-8 shoes with the fantastic grip, even though they are narrow in the toe box and I haven't worn them for longer than 20K. In the past, my big toe was irritated when I wore those shoes, so I bought toe condoms to cushion. 

After 3 loops, I was totally done with those shoes (save for my big toes which felt great) and switched to Topos. That was also when the route change was announced, which included an extra kilometre uphill on the rail trail, but left out the big and extremely muddy hills on Sawmill.

"The Swamp"

Previously, at every timed event, I just ran without any specific plan. This time, I thought I should do the math (1:12/loop for 70K) and debated different ways of tracking this but settled on, race starts at 9, so start loop 2 by 10:12, loop 3 at 11:24, loop 4 at 12:48...



Obviously, I should never try to math while running ever again, because I didn't realize my mistake until 6 loops in. With the course change, my watch was measuring the reroute loop a bit longer, and while I hit 42K in time, I was still 1K out from the start/finish. 

The rain and mud made it a pretty easy decision to take a longer break and not bust my ass to the finish. Greg brought me a slushie and did loop 7 with me, his longest run in a year.

Step in time.

I was really considering stopping after 8 loops, but I met a lady (Natalie) who had been in the Gong Show and she reminded me that there was still 1:40 left, plenty of time to do 1 more loop, even if it was only walking. I bumped into Jer as I was finishing loop 8 and asked him to keep me company, he was volunteering at the aid station but sent Robin to pace me instead.

The silver lining of the course reroute was that there was a nice out and back to see people, and then the last km almost entirely downhill to the start/finish. Robin and I picked up the pace at the end, and I finished in 11:55, perfect timing!

Tuesday 13 June 2023

I'm Number One!

 I don't even remember why I was browsing Race Guide, but I found a new race: Run Forest Run. I sent the link to Shannon because it's close to where she is currently and she and Darek signed up. Then she asked me to go too, and I couldn't refuse, seeing The Jenny as an option, and I love me a timed race.

My first shock via the pre-race email:

I'm the least elite runner, how did 
I end up with bib #1?

Looking at the list of participants, I was the only "out of towner", despite a 1:45 drive. Race morning was cool and cloudy. I arrived at the trailhead and skeeters swarmed the car the moment I opened the door, so I doused myself liberally with bug spray.

The blue crew.

The events had different start times, and there were 2 other people besides me doing the 4 hour - a woman and her teen son. The woman told me that they were only going to run "a few" loops and took off VERY fast, while I settled into my easy trot. I had been told by Shannon and Varty that the 3K loop was very runnable. I ran the entire loop save a few steps, but hiked the hills on the subsequent laps, just to have a little break. 

At the start of the second loop, I thought I could just keep my head down, feeling settled in, and just run. But soon after the start of the lap, I was running up a gradual sandy incline that didn't seem familiar. Checked my watch and sure enough I had missed a turn.

Jenny, right; Everyone else, left. 

I backtracked at top speed but at the end of the loop, I had done more than 1K extra. The lady and her son passed me again at the start of my third loop and I didn't see them on course again.

I'm very pleased that my splits for each loop were very even. By the last few loops, the RD and the Full Gump finishers knew my name and were cheering me on every time I finished another loop. 

With about 1K left in the final loop, 3 runners came to run me in. They said they just wanted to have more fun. I'm down with that.

It's hard to believe, but I WON A RACE! Shannon won a box of chocolates "you never know what you're gonna git" and I won a can of peas and carrots because..

Email shock #2 - I made the post-race roundup. Just call me Fireball Patty from now on.

I'm leveling up to a new age group this week, and *fingers crossed* I seem to be on the road to recovery from the horrific bout of piriformis syndrome and training for Tally 12 hour.

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.