I was originally supposed to run my second 50 miler at Haliburton Forest, which was my 'A' race this season.
Things were going well - I ran the 50 miler at Sulphur Springs, then after my IT band calmed back down, was back into running.
Then I got sick. I had a terrible migraine, for a week and a half, and as a result missed Limberlost 42k and the Haliburton training run the next day. What followed was a bout of intense depression (though I've since learnt there is possibly a link between migraines and depression/bipolar). It was terrible. They say running is supposed to help your mood, but running just made me feel like I was suffocating, drowning, and short easy runs became more difficult than the 50 miler at Sulphur. The pain I experienced from the depression was worse than the pain of an extremely inflammed IT band for 57k. It was awful.
So I missed a lot of running. I just couldn't face getting out there. And when I did get out, the runs were short. I needed them to be over quickly, to end the pain, though usually I just ended up curled up on the couch in a ball or crying.
Toby became exasperated. He was worried. I know it's frustrating to watch someone you love hurt and not be able to help them.
Luckily I recognized quickly that this would be a bad depressive episode, and got in to see my pdoc quickly. We started on an anti-depressant, which was a bit nerve-wracking - being on an anti-depressant was how I was first diagnosed bipolar, but at the time that was all I was on and I'm now on other medications, plus I was put on an anti-depressant which is not as bad for triggering mania.
While it made me nauseous, eventually I started to come around. And run again.
But I didn't feel like my training was there for 50 miles at Haliburton. I firmly believe Haliburton is a far more difficult course than Sulphur - I'm not sure how different the elevation gain/loss is, but Haliburton is far, far more technical.
So I dropped down to the 50k. I knew I had the fitness to PB (my previous best, in 2012, was a 7:49, and that was in a rain/mud fest and with serious gut issues that had me stopping to go to the bathroom constantly. (Regular readers of my blog may notice I have gut issues when I run - NINE bathroom breaks at Sulphur, oh yeah.)
It pissed me off. A lot.
As we got closer to the race, runs started to go better. I toyed with the idea of asking Helen if I could switch back up to the 50 miler. But I truly believed my long runs hadn't been there. I knew I could complete the 50 miles, but I wanted to run it strong, and I wasn't sure I could do that. Most importantly, my head wasn't there.
So 50k it was.
This year we stayed at the Forest and brought the dogs, which was really nice. One day I'll convince Toby to camp (okay, maybe that will never happen), but the cabins were nice. Kind of like apartments. We had an easy drive up, stopping at Webers for a veggie burger (me), a hot dog (Toby) and a free hamburger courtesy of Cottage Life (Luc and Neb). Personally I think Webers is overpriced for what it is, but the veggie burger and hamburger were both free, and we could eat at the picnic tables with the dogs, which is worth something.
We got to the Forest, picked up my race kit and chatted with Helen a bit. Went to check in for the cabin - we were a bit early, but since we were staying in smaller accomodations they were ready so we got unpacked (travelling with dogs means taking a whackload of stuff!).
Then we took the dogs for a walk to Aid Station 2 (well just past it actually). Originally the plan was for Toby and the dogs to drive out to Aid Station 5, which is near the turnaround, to see me on course, but heavy flooding in the spring meant some of the Forest roads were in bad shape and there was no crew access to Aid Station 5.
Since you go through Aid Station 2 twice on the way back (you go through it, then loop around on Normac Trail around a lake, to road, back to Aid Station 2 again), I thought it would make sense for Toby to walk out with the dogs there and he could watch the racers come through and see me - since the loop around the lake is at least 10k, he'd have plenty of time to walk the ~2k back to the finish line to see me finish.
Race day dawned early (too early to be bright). I've been basically a walking bar of fibre in an attempt to regulate my gut issues - you should see how much fibre I eat, plus I take supplements - but I got up at 3:30 to eat to give plenty of time for digestion, then went back to bed. In the past I would've had oatmeal, but I decided to eat a regular breakfast - greek yogurt and blueberries. I was going to eat a banana but felt too sleepy. Was back in bed 5 minutes later, and rested until 4:45, when I got up to walk the dogs quickly and start putting stuff together and relaxing. It was nice, since we were basically at the start line.
I took a preventative Immodium at the start of the race, and just after the turnaround, and not a single stirring. YEAH!!!! I'm not even sure the Immodium was necessary, as my stomach has been pretty good lately, but I wasn't taking any chances.
The race starts in the dark, on forest road. Some people don't use headlamps, but they are crazy IMO. Headlamps weigh next to nothing and just make things easier. Plus if it is still a bit dark when you get to Normac you can give yourself some extra light to see rocks and roots.
I had a plan for my PB - move at a decent clip on the road section, at a slower but decent effort for the trail section, and then pick it up again for the road section on the way back.
The road section on the way out was a bit faster than I'd planned, but I was running easy and chatting with people, so it worked. I was pleased with my pace as well on Normac, and on the trails at first.
Eventually, what with the drizzle and cloud cover and wet leaves, my Garmin Fenix started cutting in and out. It's the first time it's done that, but it was annoying, because some kilometers were faster and some were long (one k was measured as 29 minutes LOL). The real problem is when it eventually cut out and didn't immediately pick up again, the screen just read that the satellite signal had been lost, and I wasn't sure how to turn that off so I could see the time and get my reminders to drink. I was flying blind, for a bit, until I figured it out. I was too busy running to problem solve, I guess, but I got there eventually. I was cursing it though and wishing I'd used the 310xt.
I hit the 50k turnaround in around 2:57. I hadn't stopped at any aid stations on the way out, but stopped on the way back for some straight water (was drinking Infinit) and orange slices.
I was running a bit slower, and walking a bit more. It felt like the hills on the way back were longer, while the ones on the way out were steeper, so it meant more walking. I suspect that this may not be the case and that was simply a function of me being tired, but we'll go with that.
There is about 10k between Aid Stations 4 and 5. It seemed to go on forever. And it's hilly and technical. Came through it fine - one poor soul managed to break either his ankle or lower leg in there though, and had to be extracted to the nearest road. Yikes. It happened after I'd gone through though. Poor guy.
Anyways, eventually I got to Aid Station 4 - yay! I'd been seeing some of the 26k runners heading out, but none caught me on the way back.
I saw Toby and the dogs at Aid Station 2 (you go through it twice, as I mentioned, so you actually hit it on the way back before Aid Station 3). The dogs seemed totally unexcited to see me, which was a bit insulting - yeah thanks guys, see if I care about seeing you next time I come home from work! Geez!
I was stopped for longer at Aid Station 2, as I wanted to fill my handheld that had Infinit powder in it up with water - I had to get Toby to open it since my hands were sweaty - and then - yikes - there must've been water in the handheld when I filled it that morning, just enough damp to congeal the powder at the mouth so that I had to push it all in and then have gross sticky fingers. I was highly dubious about shaking up the congealed powder - I think it was fine, but as it turned out my bladder lasted me the race.
I did a good job running up the long hill to Normac, and ran well on Normac. After Normac on the road section I wasn't quite as fast as I'd hoped, though I also slowed down and gave directions to two 26k runners who had gone the wrong way - they were both really pissed off. Whatever. No thanks, oh well.
I finished so-so. I didn't really run up the long hill - I figured I wasn't going to get 6:15, so why bother (nice mental toughness there me) but at the top I was like 'Oh man I gotta boot it to hit 6:20' so I started running again, 'fast'.
Crossed the finish line with a time of 6:18:31 (preliminary results just posted to OUSer).
OMG! PB by over an hour and a half! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And even better, I was 20th overall and 7th woman.
I know, I know, big deal, but I'm usually BOP. I worked hard this year dammit! Set a new (non-race) 5k PB (smashed it, actually), did my first 50 miler, set a new 50k PB....
(Plus an unsupported 50k that was at the time a 50k PB and a marathon the weekend after which sadly was not a PB, but hey.)
Only one 50k runner passed me from the turnaround, and he was a guy (he was actually the only person period; none of the 26k runners caught me either).
It was really nice to be able to hang around the finish line and cheer in other runners, and cheer out friends and other people doing the 100 miles going back out for their second lap. And have a beer or two or three :) (Though no public drinking!) We hung out with Derrick for a bit, and lent our shower to Sara when she finished - 4th woman in the 50 miler, whoo hoo! - and then we all hung out to cheer Kelly over the line for her first 50 miler - Kelly did awesome!
Then Kelly, Toby and I went for dinner in town.
When we got back, I was pretty tired - but it was good to have eaten. I hadn't eaten much all day and was quite cold, until I had some pasta, when suddenly I became toasty warm. Duh.
The next morning we got updates on Joe, a friend who was running the 100 miles, and had breakfast - we just missed Stephen, another friend, finishing his 100 miler by 10 minutes - way to go Stephen! We had a great time chatting to people and watching as the dogs got lots of attention, and Joe came in for a strong finish at the 100 miles - YAY!!!!!! Way to go Joe! Was so cool to see him finish.
Very inspired by the race. I knew after Sulphur that I would do 100 miles in 2014, but it's definitely going to be Hali and I'm already putting together a team - Joe is in to help and to have someone with that 100 mile experience - totally invaluable.
All in all, a great weekend. The dogs were great, the race was great, the weather was pretty good - light rain off and on on race day, nice on Friday and Sunday. I love Haliburton - it's the best trail race in Ontario, I think - all the volunteers are AWESOME, the race organization is AWESOME, and the runners are AWESOME. It really is something special.
-compression shorts. Forget the brand and am too lazy to go look.
-k tape on my IT bands and hip bursitis (thanks Andrew!)
-lucky socks (I'm a terrible atheist) - PYP finisher's socks
-MEC merino t-shirt - bad choice, last year it fit tighter b/c I was bigger, now it's looser and I chafed like a mofo on my arms and armpits.
-Inov-8 shoes - only half a size up, I debated whether to wear these or the Salomon Speedcross 3 which are a full size up but the Salomon's I don't like in slippery weather on rocks and logs and it was calling for rain. My toes felt a bit banged though. Some tiny blisters on the ends of my long toes.
-Wet Platinum personal lubricant on my feet. Body Glide is for suckers.
-Moving Comfort bra. Worked well, but chafed around armpits. Must lose fat to combat this.
-UltrAspire Surge pack with 2L hydration bladder and Nathan handheld attached to the pack for most of the run empty save Infinit powder
-running gaiters to keep stuff out
-S!Caps (electrolytes) every hour, roughly, except at 6hrs I didn't bother
-Infinit - ~330 cal/600mL, took in just under 2L. Not a lot of calories, but nervous about my tummy. 5 sips every 15 minutes, compared to 10 sips every 15 minutes for the 50 miler at Sulphur
-Water from course
-3 orange slices