Where to start, where to start....
This will be a long entry, but I'm at a loss for where to begin. Well, I guess, in the lead up - I was SO nervous! My first 50 miler! Damn that's far! Not 100 miles far, but still - far!
I wasn't sure how to pace, or if I should even worry about pacing, and I'd read every race report known to man about Sulphur Springs, pretty well every distance that is run there - read and reread the participants guide - I mean, it was kind of sad.
A few weeks out, I had a shake down massage, which appeared to have exposed an underlying imbalance, because I developed a groin pain that took a week to go away and which freaked me out completely. But then it went away - however, I believe it played a role on race day - stay tuned!
A little more than a week out, I started rolling my IT bands. I don't think I've had IT band issues for at least a year and a half, but an ounce of preventation and all that, I wanted them to be as loose as possible. Ha.
Race day we woke up at 3:20 - got dressed, got the water jug filled, final packing, took the dogs out (they stayed at home and Steve came to take them out in the afternoon), had breakfast - left the house about 4 am to get to the race start for about 5, so that we'd get a prime set up spot for crewing. And parking. Both were accomplished. It was a cold morning - about 5C maybe? The car thermometer dropped to 4C at one point. I wore tights over my shorts and a down jacket while waiting for the race start.
Picked up my race kit - great swag! T-shirt - women's specific! - a hat, and a handheld bottle - and set up the crew station just in front of the timing mats.
Before the race, we saw Helen (race director of the best race ever, Haliburton, and an all-round great lady!) and Joe, who stayed at the same bed and breakfast for Haliburton as us last year - Joe was running the 50k today as he had a family thing to go to afterwards - he introduced me to Scott, who is going to the Adirondacks on the same running trip in June, so it was nice to put a face to the name. Mom came - wow, early wake up for her - awesome. I had some Clif Shot Bloks and G2, and before I knew it I was lubing up my feet and pulling on my wind jacket for the start.
Sulphur is loops of just over 20k, so I was doing 4 loops for a distance of 80.5k. The race started at 6 am.
Lap 1 - 2:20:06
I tried to keep this lap easy, and pay attention to the course, which was harder to do than you would think, because people were still grouped together and it was easy to just watch the runner ahead. However, the course was well marked so I didn't need to worry, and I was fairly familiar with the course anyways. I settled into running the flats and downhills and walking the ups, a common strategy in long races to preserve energy. I stopped to pee at the 9k aid station, but that was my only stop for the lap - I'd been running with Leanne, a lovely lady who is one of the race directors of Creemore, but from that break ran mostly by myself. I came in to the 'transition' (Toby and Mom) with 2:16 on the clock (all lap times above include time in transition), went to the washroom (thank you inconsistent gut!), changed my bladder for one with more Infinit, quickly chatted, and headed out. I clearly remember mentioning that my left leg (the same leg with the groin pain that was gone this day, but previously had been bothering me) was a bit sore.
Lap 2 - 2:30:20
By 3k in, my 'left leg feels a bit sore' had changed to 'holy shit my left IT band is going fucking nuts'. Not a good sign. Ever run 57.5k on an IT band screaming at you? Well, until Saturday I hadn't, but I wasn't sure how possible it was. I had exactly two extra strength Advils, and I hadn't planned on breaking them out that early in the race, if at all, but by 3 hours I decided it was necessary. I have no idea whether the Advil helped - the pain didn't get better, but maybe it would've been even worse if I hadn't taken it? Either way, I knew I was fucked. Completely fucked. I tried not to slow down, I felt great aside from the IT band (and why was my IT band bothering me? I don't even REMEMBER the last time I had IT band problems, and I preventative rolled to make sure it was loose). All bathroom breaks from this point on were thanks to my gut, and I had another stop at 9k, and when I rolled into the transition area. I also had a piece of ginger at this point - I wouldn't say I felt nauseous, but I thought why not. Switched my bladder for some more Infinit, had half a package of Clif Shot Blocks, some G2, and went on my way.
Oh yes, and I was taking S!Caps (electrolytes) at every hour, religiously.
Lap 3 - 2:43:39
I was very worried about my IT band at this point - I was trying to stretch it - but I knew Gary was coming to pace me, and I was damned if I was going to waste his time. I had been a lot faster through laps 1 and 2 then I had expected, but I knew I would start to slow down. Toby was worried about me finishing lap 3 before Gary got there, but I knew there was no way that was going to happen, even if natural slow down and the IT band hadn't been an issue. A lot of this lap was running in pain. At this point, I was starting to see more 50k runners, who would say they were 'only' doing the 50k - there's no only about it, 50k is far! When it comes to that, I was 'only' doing the 50 miler! Not the 100 miler! But 50 miles is still damn far, so.
I saw a few deer this loop, and a baby raccoon crying - I stopped for a bit to watch it, worried - another runner passed me, I don't know what they thought I was doing - but eventually I realized I couldn't do anything for it and I was just wasting time staring at it and potentially keeping Momma away. It wasn't there on the 4th lap so either Momma came back for it or a hawk or coyote got it. I rolled into the 9k aid station, stopping for my bathroom break (sigh). Saw some people I'd been running around during the first lap, but with the IT band pain, was concentrated on feeling miserable and didn't say anything. We passed each other a few times, but nothing from them either so I assume we were all feeling about the same at that point.
Aside from the IT band pain, I was starting to get more tired, but still feeling pretty good and strong. I did 50k in under 6:30 (I'm not sure exactly what it was but I know it was under that, I wasn't paying a lot of attention at the time but at 6:30 I looked down and realized I was over 50k), smashing my PB (okay, it wasn't a 50k race, so it doesn't count, but still. Sulphur isn't technical and it shows in the times, I think, though it is quite hilly - there are some brutal hills there to trash your legs!).
I took my second Advil at 7 hrs. Didn't make any difference that I could see.
Rolled into 'transition' and while Mom had to go to party, Gill (Toby's mom) was there - an awesome surprise - and Gary waiting to pace me. Went to the bathroom (again). Was very happy to see Gary!
Lap 4 - 3:07:27
Started off feeling good, aside from the IT band, which was going completely fucking crazy. I'd been stretching it through loop 3, and stretched it in transition, but holy. Still, was running - albeit slowly - for the first part of the loop. Gary was a great pacer, nice easy conversation and a great cheerleader. Just before the 3k aid station, we caught a girl I'd been trading places with during the race, and she was running with a pacer too, and then at the 3k aid station I stopped to - you guessed it - go to the bathroom! WTH!!!!! We caught the girl and her pacer again shortly after the aid station, and ran with them for a while, chatting about adventure racing and triathlons. She wanted to walk for awhile, and while I was in pain, and not going fast, we left them. Back into the 9k aid station, and yes, a bathroom break - Gary got some chips, and we headed out. My IT band started to lock up more, and I would cry out and have to stop, but I think I kept it fairly under control. Still, I was starting to walk more, and it wasn't all the IT band, though it wasn't helping. I was starting to get excited to see a hill because it was an excuse to walk. At the start of the loop, I said to Gary, I think sub-11 is possible, even if we are really slow, but I was really hoping that maybe we could hit 10:30. However, sometime around the 9k aid station and my second bathroom break of the loop I doubted that would happen, particularly as I could tell I was slowing down.
I was slowing down a lot. Walking all over the place. Gary kept saying '80k! That's AMAZING!' and at one point noted he was more excited than I was :) I was too tired to be excited! I was, but. I was tired. We got to the 12k (72k in) aid station and I decided to stop for another bathroom break. Gary was eying the cookies - we went back through this aid station at around 79k, so he promised himself a cookie then.
We headed out on the I guess western part of the course, though Hamilton always screws me up directionally because the lake is on the wrong side - but towards the infamous 3 Sisters (3 hills, duh! Big ones!). I had taken some ginger ale at the aid station - I'd finally had some immodium at the 9k aid station, but thought the ginger ale might settle things some more, though that's not really for that kind of stomach upset - but anyways. It was quite carbonated, and I'm not sure it really went down right, because shortly after we saw Helen heading towards the finish of her race, I said to Gary, 'I think I'm going to throw up' and I puked, and puked, and puked some more. Toby always says there's nobody who pukes more loudly than me, and I think Gary would back him up. I don't just puke, I heave and I retch. There was a lot of fluid in me. I don't think this was an electrolyte issue, as the Infinit has some electrolytes and I was taking the S!Caps every hour, and it wasn't that hot. Once I was done puking I didn't immediately take in more nutrition, for probably obvious reasons, and we started walking - I was really tired, and also wanted to settle my stomach and wasn't sure about running for that. Eventually we were joined by a lovely man, who was super chatty, which was nice at first but after awhile I wanted to scream - which I feel bad about, he was super nice, but it just seemed like so much effort to listen to him talk. I don't know why, I mean, Gary and I were talking, but this guy just talked and talked and talked. He was interesting, I think it was me, not him. Anyways, we started running again, but he was a bit faster and we were in a long downhill section and my quads were screaming at this point, so we walked a bit again. I was taking nutrition again at this point, but not quite as much - still, every 15 minutes I was sipping on Infinit, so I wasn't bonking or anything. We got to the last aid station, I had some water, Gary had a cookie (he joke he gained weight on the run), and we started walking up the road towards the monster evil hill and the finish line. Once at the top of Mount Doom I ran it in, for a 10:41:32 finish.
Holy damn. Running 50ks does not prepare you for how sore you will feel after a 50 miler. Not even close. Toby helped stretch me, and then of course I went to the bathroom. (HA!)
But I was thrilled - I figured I would be 11 or 12 hours on the course, so to do it in 10:41:32 - I rock!!!!!! So happy! Yeah, I'm a slow runner, but who gives a fuck! I'm not the slowest (not that there's anything wrong with that either).
Gary was an awesome pacer. I'm so glad he was able to come out, he was the perfect friend to talk me through the loop, cheerlead me along, and not freak out about me puking (he has a baby at home and joked that normally he gets puked ON). Toby was an awesome crew, and my number one supporter! Derrick did a great job getting me prepared, and friends and family supporting me on the day of both there and from afar were huge.
There's really no words to explain how bad and inflammed my IT band was. None. We headed home, and honestly I ate two bites and couldn't even finish my post-race beer. I have trouble taking in food after long efforts, but the beer??!!!! That's just wrong!
Everything hurt - my quads, holy shit, sitting down, getting up, walking - Toby called me the old crone through Sunday - and my IT band. Hot damn. Not to mention my upper arms and my rib cage from breathing heavily for that long - I've never had THAT get sore before - anyways, nothing prepared me for how sore I was. It was a real shock. Did the ice bath, warm bath, by the next day Toby was massaging my quads ('masses of knots') - my left leg (IT band leg) was worse and I cried a bit though tried to act like I wasn't. Toby was a huge help though, despite calling me an old crone.
Two days after the race (today), I went for an official massage - I'm getting around a lot better already, and had rolled out my IT bands and quads as well - the quads feel way better too post-massage, and I got some ultrasound on my IT band and kinesio tape but on. so hopefully that does the trick.
Moral of the story - I don't recommend running 57k on a really fucked up IT band. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. And, I rock! I need to work out the gut stuff - which may be med related - but I am going to play around with nutrition strategies too, though I've been through several already. We'll see. Maybe I just need to take immodium at the start, before things get upset, instead of waiting until they've been upset for awhile.
But 50 miles! 10:41:32! Now that I am not so tired, I am SO happy! When the pics get posted I will try to add some here!