Thursday, June 22, 2017

Conquer the Canuck 50k - DFL

By .2 seconds gun time, .5 seconds chip time.

Yup, DFL.  Worst result EVER.  Not that I'm blazingly fast, but not generally that slow.

But I had a great time - I can't say enough good things about this race, the organizers, the volunteers, the was a blast.  I'll definitely be back.

Mom was crewing for this one and I was glad she was there.  She really helped me out.

We got there super early - they were still setting up!   It was buggy so I quickly put on sunscreen then got all bug-sprayed up, then was fine from bites for the rest of the day.  Picaridin for the win!

The race had good swag - instead of a tshirt, a beach towel!  Not to mention finishers got a medal AND a bottle of wine.  Pretty nice!

Shortly before 8am, the race start time, we gathered for pre-race announcements, then Tony's niece sang O Canada (so nice) and we stood around before we realized it was after 8am and that we should start running - so the race started.  Heh.

I started off the first of six loops on my own, but caught and ran with Kristin for much of the first and second loops.  It was her first ultra and I believe her first trail race, but she was doing great - and the trails at Shade's Mills aren't really technical, so it was a good intro I think.  Super pretty trails though, and, unsurprisingly, shady (and thank goodness with that heat!).

On the second loop, I knew I was going to get more water after the loop, and I had to - as K would say - get down to race weight.  The portapotties were on a gravel section about 700m out from the start/finish, and when I saw them, I got so excited I got distracted, tripped, and went down hard.

Like, swelling on shoulder/chewed up palms/effed up knee hard.

I visited the portapotties (priorities) and by the time I was done my knee was covered in blood.  There was a good size chunk of skin that had been pulled back.  Eww!  I finished the loop, feeling sore, swapped out my bladder, grabbed more Endurance Tap (took three per loop) and headed out again with Kristen.

My knee HURT.  Every step was painful from the impact.  I realized I was going to have to walk more than I would be doing otherwise, and as I didn't want to hold Kristen back unnecessarily, I told her to go ahead.  I ran/walked the rest of the loop by myself, and got down to race weight AGAIN at the portapotties.

Looking down heading in to the last aid station I was like 'Man is my knee STILL bleeding?  Why hasn't this clotted???' so before I passed the start/finish mats I visited the paramedics and had my knee cleaned out - no need for stitches, but it took awhile to clean it and part of that was ouchie.

But I got up, feeling VERY discouraged.  Geez.  Not only is the knee hurting enough that I can't really run - and I had been feeling great and running at an easy pace - but I just spent all this time in medical and it hurts and oww oww oww.

I wanted to quit, though I hadn't verbalized that, but Mom just assumed I was going back out, so I went back out (she told me later she could sense I might want to quit, and that she was going to tell me to get four loops in at least).  Once I got out there, I thought 'Well if I do four loops I may as well do all six' so I ran/walked for a little bit until I met Maryka (apparently my dogs are internet famous!  She knew all about them from our mutual friend Kelly, aww).  Shortly afterwards I caught Virgil, who was walking, and fell in with him.

I thought, 'I'll see how fast he runs when we get to the top of this hill' and when we did, we kept walking.  Part of me thought I should take off and run, the other part of me was relieved that my knee hurt that much less walking than running so I kept it up.

Virgil and I had never met before but soon bonded over outdoor sports and endurance activities.  We walked the rest of the loop together and at the end of the loop, we saw the arch with balloons and joked that it looked like a wedding arch - so we held hands and ran under it, to the appreciation of the crowd (but the photographer wasn't there!!!!  Boo!).

Virgil headed out on the fifth loop and I swapped out bladders, so I had to run to catch him.  Once I did, we walked the rest of the loop together, until, after passing through the last aid station and giving K and Tanker sweaty hugs, I said 'I really think we need to run or we won't make the cut offs (I think we had like 90 minutes left in the 8 hour cut off)'.  So we ran the rest of the loop, I grabbed one more gel from Mom (hadn't eaten a lot the last loop), and then we jogged off in the heat.  We did take some walk breaks, and I was trying to do the math in my head, but was VERY worried about making it before the cut off.  We hit the last aid station, and K said 'You've got 15 minutes!  You're good!  Go!' so we ran off and may have had one last walk break (my fault) before hitting the finish in I believe 7:52 and change - and because Virgil was milliseconds ahead of me, I got to be DFL.

Which is okay.

I had so much fun!

Okay, I wish I hadn't fallen and screwed up my knee, which continued to bleed for a few days afterwards.  I had to visit the hospital Saturday night for a second cleaning and tetanus shot.

But I got to meet Kristen, and Virgil, who is a super cool guy, and make a new friend.  On a day where things didn't go as planned, I'll take that.

I was stopped for over 25 minutes based on Garmin data.  I'd say I spent about 5 minutes in transition, MAYBE.  Mom was pretty quick.  Losing time is what a visit to the medics will get you :)   

I used Endurance Tap gels, and brought solid food (dried figs and PB&J ricewiches from Feed Zone Portables).  Had a S!Cap every 60 minutes.

The only time I ate a ricewich was 20-30 minutes before the race.  I felt full most of the time which made solid food - which I really SHOULD practice with - unappetizing.  Plus between that and actually eating breakfast for once (oatmeal with hemp hearts) - well, I blame that on my two visits to get down to race weight.  COULD have been a coincidence, but yeah.

Left the race feeling sad about my weight - but wah wah wah pull up your big girl pants.  Hopefully Limberlost is a better showing.
...though watch, I'll be DFL there too.

Recovered well - amazing what walking two loops will do (my AHR was 65%!  Unheard of in a race!!!!!}).  I did have a post-race massage provided by the organizers and bled on the table - eww - the massage therapist said she figured I would and that they would sterilize the table.  I hadn't thought I would, so I felt terrible.

Sunday I walked around, in pain due to my knee, and Monday I went for another massage (with April) (all gauzed up) so I did NOT bleed on the table.  By Tuesday I was running again, albeit with pain, which I still have, over a week later.  But it is improving. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

DontGetLost Raid the Rib - Orienteering Race Report

Better late than never, right?

Sarah and I had such a great time at our first DontGetLost race that we decided to try to do Raid the Rib in Niagara over Easter weekend.  But it was teams of three!  What's Team Husky (named after our dogs, not 'cause we're husky) to do?  Convince Toby to do his first orienteering race!!!!

We signed up for the full Raid, or 5 hours.  How bad could it be?

Two weeks out, Toby and I went to Ball's Falls, where the race was held, to scout out the Bruce Trail.  We completely guessed on direction, and then I went the wrong way anyways (how's that for a good omen?) but it ended up just as well as we went the right way for what the race covered.

We ran 17.1k that day, in a true mud-fest that made getting up hills (and there were hills) extremely difficult, plus we ended up bushwhacking unnecessarily long to cross one river that was kind of deep at the trail.  We had a blast!

Race day arrived.  We met up with Sarah, went over the maps (which you only get on race day) and discussed which optional checkpoints we would try to hit for points.

Room with a View was the first checkpoint we aimed for, and we came up with a "clever" shortcut that involved bushwhacking then reaching some faint trails to join up with a more established trail to hit checkpoint 1.

The race was point-to-point, so we took a bus ride to a Scout Camp near Short Hills Provincial Park for the start - and there was a relay to start the race!  Up a steep hill and down a steeper one - going down was scary, and I was passed by faster people so couldn't take the line I wanted so basically control falled down the entire thing, jumping over trees and praying to a god I don't believe in that I would make it down in one piece.  Each team member went in waves - Toby started, I was second, Sarah third.

We finished that and took off to find Room with a View - which, thanks to Toby's eagle eyes, went pretty smoothly! 
Where we went wrong was with our "clever" short cut.  We quickly found animal paths and followed them through brambles and thorns, picking them out of our arms and bleeding from our legs  (Toby and I were in shorts - it was going up to 20C! - not a great idea for orienteering, but - I used to play rugby, and you're not doing it right unless there's blood).  Sarah, who was more appropriately attired, fared better, but still got scratched on her calves over the course of the race - and muddy! 
At some point, after awhile of wandering around in the bush, we decided to give up on our clever short cut.  We made it back to the Scout Camp but were turned around and in looking for checkpoint 1 headed towards an area of optional checkpoints that we weren't planning on doing called the Canada 150.  Not where we wanted to be.  We headed back, then ended up going towards another point of the Canada 150.  Luckily we saw April, Mel, and Dawn and realized we were going the wrong way.  We started following some of the Canada 150ers, and found checkpoint 1.

We were at least an hour behind time.

And still fairly turned around.  Looking for checkpoint 2 we kept being unsure of where we were (Sarah and Toby were very good at sorting us out) - but eventually we found it.  We spent a very long time confused of directions before we started hitting checkpoints.

But by then the damage was done.  We hit checkpoint 5 and the aid station and assessed - we didn't have time to do the optional relay near there.  It was funny, Toby had a deep scratch on the inside of one of his knees that had bled down both legs.  He looked amazing!  The aid station ladies seemed concerned, but Toby, also a former rugby player, handled it in proper fashion - which is to say he ignored it!

We then headed towards a section where there were three checkpoints, but six possible locations - and you needed to hit the checkpoints in order.  We started looking for them, to no luck - and I said 'Honestly guys, we're not going to finish in the time limit (you lose points being over) and I think we need to take the points deduction for missing checkpoints and just get going - in the end, we found the last checkpoint there.

Saw Wanda's team, and followed them crossing a river above a waterfall - fun!  We then climbed the bank on the other side on the steepest, muddiest part there was.  Oops.

But we were hitting checkpoints better now.

Saw April, Mel and Dawn - how did they get behind us?  They're fast!  But they had gotten lost looking for checkpoint 2, then been hitting optional checkpoints.

By this point we were back on the section of the Bruce that Toby and I had run before, and were approaching the end.  We were also tight for time.  We tried to pick it up but along 20 Mile Creek or whatever it is there were just some really technical parts that are difficult to run.  And then the STAIRS.  Heh.  It's a brutal climb.  I gapped Toby :)  #chicked

We hit the last two checkpoints, then ran it in, about 5 minutes under time.
Muddy and happy!  It was fun!

Though, we were penalized 20 minutes over 5 hours (I assume that's why our finish time was 5:20) and finished with 0 points.  (We weren't the only team to do so)  We ran just under 20k - well, 'ran' - some parts running, some parts hiking/bushwhacking, some parts standing around trying to figure out where we were!

Next time, I want to help out with navigation - I left it to Sarah and Toby, but I should help out too.  I understand how to navigate, so there's no reason I can't do it.

All in all it was a great time and as Toby's scars fade we're hoping to convince him to run Raid the Hammer with us in November - he had fun, and the next day was already talking about things to do differently 'next time'.  Too early to register for it yet though! 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dion Ganaraska Snowshoe Race 2017

Well, it's been an interesting few months. early December triggered dormant (dormant?) PTSD and I was off work for about 6 or 7 weeks.  I had a lot of healing in that time, but struggled to leave the house, and had panic attacks a lot, so running was not - ideal.

Sara, my amazing coach, was super understanding, and extremely flexible in adjusting training, but even still, some weeks it felt like nothing was happening.  But I started to be able to get out more and more, even if it were just for walks with the dogs (I still miss Thursday morning walks with April and Bailey!).

I went back to work on February 1st and by February 4th was on vacation for 10 days (we'd paid for it) - a cabin near Algonquin Provincial Park for 9 days and then some family medical stuff one day.  We snowshoed while up there but it was not the crazy workout schedule I would've hoped - a few runs, in addition to snowshoes, some in white outs (compare to Toronto which had no snow).

We got back on the 12th.  On the 19th, we went out to north of Port Hope (northeast of Toronto) for the Dion Ganaraska 8km snowshoe race.  It was hot - unseasonably - I think it got up to 15C.  I was hanging out before the race and ran in a tshirt.

The race was easy and quick to get to from Toronto.  The parking lot was a sheet of ice but we could see lots of snow in the woods, despite it being soft from the heat.  I picked up my race kit and chatted with a man who was getting into triathlons who was running his first snowshoe race.  I said 'Just pace yourself - snowshoe running is more difficult than trail running which is more difficult than road running.'  Actually, that's not an exact quote, but I told him to pace himself.

Went outside to hang with Toby and the dogs and to put my race bib on my tshirt, which was the Dirty Girls tshirt, and ended up speaking to a racer who'd run it as well, and we said what a shame it was that it wasn't happening anymore.  He was a really nice guy, but I didn't get his name.  We talked with him after the race as well (before I cooled down).

Did pre-race toilet stuff, hung out, did a warm up snowshoe (the roads being icy, though I used microspikes and cooled down on the road) then got back to the race start with 10-15 minutes before race time.  Ran the warm up a bit hard, I have trouble gauging pace snowshoe running, plus it takes me awhile to warm up, so I figured - ran hard and warm up faster!  Maybe not!

My legs were fine, but quickly into the race my heart rate spiked back up, not all because of the hard warm up but I think in part because of it.  I think I seeded myself okay.  Passed people on the first 'hill', then didn't really get passed until 1-1.5k in by some people that had clearly not seeded themselves well.

One lady passed me, and I was torn between being like 'Dammit' and 'Well, she's thin'.  I kept her within sight though, of varying distances, but didn't want her getting away entirely.

The race course is a lollipop, with a 2km out, 4km loop, 2km back, and one big hill, somewhere between 3-4k if my memory serves.  Before the big hill me and thin lady had passed a struggling woman who must've gone out too hard, and the rest of the race I was haunted by the thought that she was coming from behind.

Sara had said to push the flats and downhills and recover on the uphills - did so-so at this.  There was one decently long flat section and I realized 'Holy you're running slow'.  But that helped me refocus.  Got to the top of the big hill and pushed pace, kept with thin girl (not too close) and enjoyed myself, though the race course folded a bit and I was like 'I hear voices!  Oh god how close are they!!!!!'  I knew all the up going out though, we'd get to go back down, and on the back half of the course I was closing on thin girl (oddly I'd close the gap on the uphills...go figure, the fat chick being fast on the ups) when she fell.  I caught her, checked in with her, she was okay, so we ran together for awhile but it was pushing pace for me so I slowed and walked some.  Before that though we did see an awesome paramedic directing traffic at one of the trail intersections!

One other woman caught us - I ran with her for a bit, but was gassing some - I was still running, for the most part, just tired.  She went ahead.

Up the final hill (I may have walked) and then across the field to the finish!  I ran across the field and like a jerk caught thin girl and passed her in what passes for the finisher's chute in a 44 person race.  #jerk  I'm pretty sure she was there with a triathlon club though so she should be used to jerks (I kid!  I'm married to a triathlete!  Seriously great people).

I finished the 8k in 1:14:36, 21/44 racers, and 11/31 women.  Which is MOP for the field, kind of FOP for women - not bad for 20lbs above normal BMI!!!!!!!!!  And for having PTSD screw with training!

The racers I met that day were all such lovely people, I really enjoyed myself, and race directors Erin and Joe did an amazing job marking the course - there was no question where you were going - just a solid race all round.  Good swag, great race series, so much fun.  Everyone was saying this is the hardest race in the series, though I've only done Frontenac and Frozen Ass (may it RIP) before, but yeah - it was harder than both of those.

High recommended!!!!  Thanks again to Sara at Health and Adventure for being such a great coach and for prepping me so well in spite of myself!  Used my Dion snowshoes which I've had for...4 years now?  And am as in love with now as the first day I had them.