Thursday, August 25, 2016

Quebec City Marathon? What Have I Done Wrong?

I live in Creemore.  There are more trails than you can shake a stick at.  There are no flat roads.  Anywhere.  Most towns have 4 directions; Creemore has only two.  Up or down.  People come to Creemore to train for mountain trail races.  Some also come to train for Badwater, Barkleys and the Antarctic marathon, but I really don't want to talk about those people, thank you.

Quebec City Marathon:  Sunday August 28, 2016

It has been 10 years since I ran a marathon.  I figure that with good behaviour, Lee Anne won't punish me by forcing me to run on a flat, straight paved road, for 42.195 kilometers.  I was wrong.  I don't recall doing anything that could be misconstrued as a punishable offence.  I think?  Now I'm questioning my angelic disposition...

And don't get me wrong, I do run roads.  I enjoy running with Lee Anne and if she is running, it is on a road.  I just prefer gravel roads or the shoulder, if the road is paved.  With lots of hills.  The Quebec marathon is supposed to be on "rolling hills", but you aren't fooling me.  It's like the Around the Bay race.  I was told there were rollers and a big hill at the end.  The course was virtually dead flat until the finish line.  Someone LIED to me!  Of course most people don't share my definition of a hill, but most people are wrong!  A hill has to have significant pitch and gain altitude.  I question anyone who considers something a hill if there are no airline jets flying below the summit.

Even running on pavement is not so bad.  My knees can take up to 154 meters of pavement before they start to complain.  But 42K?  Why do you think we invented trails?  I just hope they have gravel shoulders or grass along the route.

Another sticking point is that I did my last marathon before losing considerable speed.  Oh, and knee surgery.  I think the two are related.  The last marathon for which I could find results was the Massey marathon, in 2005.  I ran it in 3:31, which is close to the slowest marathon I have ever run.  I vaguely recall a 3:36 at some point.  Guess what will happen this weekend in the Quebec marathon?  I will be lucky to break 4:36.  Isn't it a crime to run more than an hour slower than your worst time?  Do I have to worry about the RD at the finish line, consulting sheets of statistics and tapping the arm of a Canadian Armed Forces sniper, pointing at me and ruthlessly shouting "Tirez ce Batard"?

However, I am looking forward to the trip to Quebec.  It has been years since I last visited the town of my ancestors.  I am 13th generation Canadian.  Pierre Marcoux (no, really!) built 2 houses in Beauport, which is now a suburb of Quebec City.  The first house was completed in 1681.  That is about 100 years before "Old Quebec" was built.  The funny thing was that a Marcoux lived in that first house from 1681 until about 1980, when it was sold to someone whose last name is not Marcoux.  I would buy it back, but the house is too damn old...  The second house is now a museum.  One weird fact was that I attended a family reunion at the property in about 2005, which was about 350 years since Pierre Marcoux first landed in Canada.  The reunion was on June 17, which happens to be my birthday.  People were a little taken aback when I mentioned my name was Pierre Marcoux and it was my birthday.  The more gracious people figured the misunderstanding was due to my lack of French...

Lee Anne is also running the marathon and graciously offered to run with me.  I declined.  No, that can't be the reason she is forcing me to run a marathon, because I declined to run with her after I agreed to run the marathon.  I think.  It's just that 42K of pavement will hurt me, while Lee Anne considers the first 40 or 50 kilometers of a run to be the warm-up.  She runs 45 - 50K every Friday and 35 - 40K every Saturday.  The rest of the week are "short" 15 - 20K runs.  I don't think I want to hear her chatting away while I am dying...  My daughter Celeste is also coming to Quebec and will run the 10K.

Well, expect the race report to be all about the great food and wonderful ambiance of La Vieux Quebec and little on the race itself, unless I finish...  After that, we are volunteering at Haliburton Forest Trail Run.  If you are in the 50 or 100 mile race, we will see you at the turn-around aid station, at 40K (25 miles).  This year, I'm not running 50 miles before attempting to vollie all night.

Cheers!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Creemore Vertical Photos... and more

The 2016 Creemore Vertical Challenge has all but wrapped up - just waiting for the last invoices to finalize the accounting.  The profit is directed to 3 groups.  1, it allows me to comp (complimentary entry) up to 5 people, for various reasons.  2.  About 10% is discretionary.  I used this year's allocation to help Noa Bridson's Fundraising.  As a note, Noa was one of the runners comp'd into the CVC 50K.  The third item, as it has been for quite a few years, is a donation to the Canadian ultra teams.  These athletes spend an incredible amount of their time training, in order to represent Canada on the World ultra stage.  They receive little support from the government.  The donation, paid for by runners in the Creemore Vertical Challenge, allows the team to hold a team dinner, or purchase much needed supplies or equipment.  This year, the total will be a bit over $1,000.  For this, I thank all those who signed up for the CVC!

Finally!  It took me 4 days to figure out how to download pictures to Flickr:

Creemore Vertical Challenge Pictures

Also, Jeff Rowthorn of Get Out There magazine, made this cool video of the race.  Yes, the drone had a freakin laser on its head!

CVC Race Video

And to round out the links, results on Enfield Timing:

CVC Results

Now, I get almost 2 months off (with good behavior)...


Cheers!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Creemore Vertical Challenge: Race Report

Well, the 10th Creemore Vertical Challenge is now in the books and based on dialogue with the runners I would guess that most enjoyed the race.  Is the course tougher?  Yes.  Regulars at the race described in detail how the new hill, the "Pitch" was a rude awakening, coming within the first 5K of the course.  Oh, by the way, it starts with a "P", not a "B"...

Even the weather cooperated, with cool temperatures in the morning.  I noted 16C on top of the escarpment at 6:30 AM, shortly after the 75K start.  The weather was not ideal, as the thermometer crept up to 28C by the middle of the afternoon, but far better than the 32C I experienced the day before, while slamming a tooling bar into the rock hard ground while attempting to install the signs!

There were a few glitches, but I expect that most of the runners did not notice them.  One that the 50K and 75K noticed was actually in their favour.  Perhaps the volunteer felt it was too much to ask the ultra runners to climb the Pitch 2 or 3 times, but the 50K and 75K runners missed the Pitch on their first loop.  No such luck on the subsequent loops and up the Pitch they went!

I hope that I echo the thoughts of the award and spot prize winners, but Lee Anne's pottery has improved dramatically this year.  New glazes and more time spent at the wheel has elevated her craft to the point where the mugs and bowls are almost works of art.  I mention this because the other prize component is maple syrup, which is appreciated by the winners, but I see the pottery as a tangible attraction for the podium runners.  Many thanks dear!

The Creemore Vertical Challenge has never been a 2 person show.  Yes, Lee Anne spends 200 - 300 hours as her contribution, which includes pottery, food purchases and taking care of the volunteers.  I spend an inordinate amount of time making the finishing medals, maple syrup and clearing trails.  Recently, I have questioned the sanity of a race director (in itself almost a full time job) who doesn't farm out the prizes, medals and the "hard" work.  I spent part of 2 months clearing trails after the ice storm.  I'm an idiot!

But it is the volunteers that allow the race to proceed.  The 34 people who sat for hours at marshal stations, fed, watered and gave encouragement to the runners and kept the race running (wow! what a great pun!) are the true heroes.  They receive many "thanks" from the runners, but they seldom are in the race spotlight, gaining well deserved praise.  Many thanks to all of you, for your efforts!

I would like to mention a few items that happened at the 2016 CVC, that many people probably are not aware.  If you read my 2016 Kingston RR, I mentioned that I helped to guide a good friend Elizabeth Hurdman.  Liz is 95% blind and I was very nervous about helping someone with so little sight,  navigate the Kingston course.  Although mostly paved, it had turns, bumps and gravel sections.  But Liz has a wonderfully optimistic outlook and loves to run.  The result?  We had a gas and running on a mostly paved surface was not a problem.  Liz signed up for the Creemore 25K.  Hello?  Another good friend Sharon Zelinski would be the guide.  Sharon has been experiencing foot problems, possibly Plantar Fasciitis for over a year.  She is having trouble running more than 12K.  I know, you're thinking "what could possibly go wrong"?  Nothing did go wrong and Liz completed the CVC 25K race in a respectable time of 4:18.  So, those of you who ran the course and considered it (as I do) a very tough challenge, imagine doing so with virtually no vision!

Another good friend and neighbor Peter Taylor is an experienced ultra runner.  This would be Peter's first attempt at the CVC, as Peter has almost always had a destination race when the Creemore race was on.  Sinister Seven, Fat Dog, Canadian Death Race...  This year, Peter was finally able to run Creemore.  Result?  DQ (disqualification).  I think the problem was that Peter 'knows' the area too well.  While in 4th place in the 50K, Peter took a wrong turn and ran for almost 5K before realizing he was not going in the proper direction.  He was on the course, but running it in the reverse direction.  I feel for Peter.  I know we have all gone off course, but it still sucks.  Mind you, I can't wait to chat with Peter and mention that yeah, he has done well at Sinister Seven and Fat dog, but how did he fare at a really tough race, such as Creemore?  Can't wait!

My boss Csaba Melnyak and my son-in-law Daryl Klein walked the 25K course.  In fact, they walked 29K, as they went off course for a few kilometers.  Csaba (pronounced Chuba) used to walk 100K in about 24 hour, back in Hungary and missed doing so.  I suggested he walk to Creemore course.  I believe they had fun and also found it a challenge.

Agnes and Saj Moktan are friends who share our passion for running.  During a training run of the CVC course a few weeks back, they casually mentioned that they would like to bring samosa to the race.  Then they mentioned they would bring 300 samosa!  Seriously?  I had a couple at the Seaton Soaker race and they were delectable.  I offered to pay (well, the race would pay) but they politely declined.  So, if you are one of the 200+ people that enjoyed a samosa, please thank the Moktans!  They also offered up the services of their family and friends, a total of 4 volunteers.  Many thanks to the entire Moktan clan!

Although busy from 5:00 AM until almost 7:00 PM, I enjoyed the rare moments when I could stop and chat with a friend or one of the runners new to the Creemore experience.  It is possibly the best part of holding a race, for me.  I only wish I had more than a few moments to chat with the 100 or so people during the day.

So, runners found the course tough, the pizza and samosa savoury, and the Creemore Springs beer a well-deserved reward after their epic battle with the Creemore hills!  Last year, the 3 kegs sufficed for the race.  This year, after the 3 kegs ran out, I had to quickly buy 2 more small kegs.  Trust me, you don't want to run out before the 75K runners finish.  These are tough people!

Today (Sunday), I was able to clean up almost everything.  This is mainly because we had the luxury of several volunteers on clean-up duty after the race.  Yes, they picked up dirty watermelon rinds the runners tossed to the side of the road, used gels, etc.  Lee Anne also helped pull flags from a few trails this morning, allowing me to start dismantling tents and tarps early.

Many thanks to all who participates in the event.  Runners from all over Ontario and beyond, friends, family and neighbours.  The event is grand, but the people are what make it worthwhile.

Oh!  I will have pictures on my Flickr page by the end of the week.  Go to outrace.ca or Enfield Timing for results.

Dig Deep!
















Friday, July 29, 2016

Creemore Vertical Challenge: One Week to Go!

Okay, technically the CVC is 8 days away.

With help from friend Everhard who is running the 25K, the trails are ready to be flagged.  Creemore Springs Brewery is back on board to stave off life-threatening thirst for runners after their race.  The race has reached cap (250).  The week leading up to the race is a hectic time for me, so I stop making changes to registration at 23:00 on Sunday (this year, July 31).  This gives me time to focus on race set-up without incurring 18 hour days.  As such, I decided that creating a waiting list would not be of much benefit or worth the time and effort.

Please note:  No changes will be made, such as dropping from 50K to 25K, after Sunday.

This also allows me to provide the information to Enfield Timing, race kit set-up, aid station supply estimates, etc. at a more leisurely pace.  In the past, I have found it is the "last minute" changes that create registration and timing havoc.

Race entries are 175 for the 25K, 51 for the 50K and 26 for the 75K.
Race bibs will be 1 - 175 for the 25K, 201 - 251 for the 50K and 301 - 326 for the 75K.

The above does not factor in complications that are almost certain to arise!

Again, I would like to emphasis that the course is more challenging this year.  Since the Creemore Vertical Challenge is now part of the Canadian Skyrunning Series, there is more vertical.  The old course was approximately 850 meters vertical gain per (25K) loop.  This year, the figure stands closer to 950 meters.  Hence, the 50K runners will enjoy about 1.9 kilometers of vertical gain...  And love every minute!

In the past 4 days, the forecast for Creemore has changed from a high of 24, to 25, to 26 and now it is 28 degrees.  This is the part where I tend to lie, so my prediction is that we will have a gentle rain and a high of 22.  Bring a light jacket!

Parking at the start/finish (my house) is always a bit dicey.  Please try to carpool with your running buddies.  Think of the drive up as a pre-race meeting where you discuss strategy and who will draw the first beer.  In that order.  Laneway parking (the driveway) usually fills up before 7:30 AM, so if you arrive later, expect to park on the shoulders of the road.  Please follow the directions of the parking marshal and note that the driveway will be closed at 6:00 (75K start), 8:00 (50K start) and 9:00 (25K start).

Most importantly, enjoy the day.  If it is a hot one, walk the hills.  You are not going to set a PB on this course!  Try to enjoy the views at the top of the hills.  I'm usually too busy trying to get oxygen into my lungs to look about, but I hear the views are splendid.  With the exception of deer flies, the bugs are not bad.  There will be sunscreen at the aid stations, but consider putting it on before you start.  The creeks and river are low this year, so little chance of getting your feet wet, unless you actively try to do so.

For those going long, Kinga Miklos will be sweeping the course, starting at about 2:00 PM.  For 75K runners, 2:00 PM is the 50K cut-off (must finish 50K within 8 hours), so hopefully no one spends the night in the wilds of Creemore.


Enjoy!


Monday, July 11, 2016

Creemore Vertical Challenge: Under 4 Weeks To Go!

How did that happen?  I start work on the CVC in November.  The pace is relaxed, just like a long training run.  In March, activity is stepped up.  Initial contact with various organizations, confirmation of key requirements (chip timing, toilets, police,...) and of course, making 60 litres of maple syrup.  Around June, I start spending serious time on trails and administrative duties; planning and doing.  Every year, I need to cut new sections of trails or remove vast quantities of downed branches and trees.  This year, thanks to requirements for the Canadian Skyrunning Series and an ice storm in April, I had plenty of both!

So, I plug away with my head down, trying to visualize what signs are needed and where they should be placed.  There are 2 new trails (the Cunningham and Harvey trails) and 2 trails that needed rerouting.  I made 250 finishing medals before I realized that sign-up consists of more 25K runners than anticipated.  I am now creating another 28 - 25K finishing medals.  This year, the shirt order was placed on the morning of July 2.  It is the only way I can guarantee that those who signed up by July 1 will get a correct sized T-shirt.

So, suddenly there is less than 4 weeks to go!  I am itching to get on the tractor to mow the tall grass and whipper snip the trails, but if I start too early, runners will be navigating foot high vegetation.  Not ideal for setting a CVCPB.  Yes, I speak of a CVCPB.  There is little point in runners attempting to better their 25K, 50K or 75K PB.  It ain't gonna happen!  Actually, there was a fellow who set his 50K PB at Creemore, but he had upped his training by a considerable margin.

I am thoroughly confused about the current status of Canada Post, but would highly recommend that people do not mail in any more registrations.  It would really suck to mail in your registration and show up on race day only to find you are not in the race!  Note:  All mail-ins are added to onlineregistrations.ca, which sends an automatic email to the runner.  Speaking of registration, there are less than 75 spots remaining.  If you want to run Creemore, now would be a good time to sign up!

We ran the CVC course last weekend with friends Agnes and Saj Moktan, Derrick and Everhard.  We took our time and a few pictures, but were surprised to find out we ran it in just over 4 hours!  I run the course about once per month (less when there is 3 feet of snow) and I am always surprised at how much effort is expended to cover "only" 25K.  The new pitch and inclines slowed us down and the new course is (sorry!) closer to 26K, but still - bushels of effort to complete the course.  I decided not to add any more hills; 4 is enough thank you, so the new elevation gain entities will be called The Pitch (about 100 meters vertical gain) and the Harvey Incline (a mere 40 meters VG).

Friend and neighbour Stephen Bridson's (wins the Ontario Ultra Series with annoying regularity) daughter Noa has volunteered at CVC in past years.  This year, she is following in her father's footsteps and running the 50K.  Noa is also raising money for Global Citizen Year, an organization that helps to round out life experience of recent high school graduates.  If you would like to help Noa, take a look at the website or donate by clicking on the second link:


www.donate.globalcitizenyear.org/fundraise?fcid=698634

Well, with under 4 weeks to go, I better get back at it.

Cheers!









Sunday, June 19, 2016

Niagara 50K Race Report: DNF

As per my Kingston RR, my training will not support 2 ultras in as many weeks.  It's funny how you know all about these maxims, write about them, but that still doesn't stop you from signing up...

For those who have yet to run the Niagara ultra, it is an almost ideal race for road runners.  There is a 10K, half, marathon, 50K and on alternate years, a 100K.  The course follows a paved trail that runs parallel to the Niagara Parkway, along the Niagara river.  An old pal of mine Winston Churchill once called it the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world.

The race starts in Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) and travels south to Niagara Falls.  The various races turn around at their respective halfway points, although the 100K travels along the 50K route twice.  The 25K turn-around (for the 50K and 100K) is situated right at the Canadian falls.  Lee Anne and I use NOTL as our "go-to" weekend vacation, so we are familiar with many of the tourist sites.  These include the Botanical gardens, Floral clock, Butterfly Conservatory, whirlpool and of course, Niagara Falls.  Something I should not mention, there are also a happy dozen wine tasting stations along the course...  Hold my wine glass!

Why is it ideal for road runners?  The course is almost entirely flat, with few road crossings.  Elite ultra runners use Niagara to attempt record breaking runs.  Back when I could muster up a semblance of speed, I was surprised to see Elizabeth Ruel blast past me when I was at the 23K point.  When I first noticed how fast she was running, my thought was that she was some elite 5K runner out for a training run.  Then I noticed the bib.  She was at the 27K point and running a 50K race at almost a 20 minute 5K pace!  Her 3:29 is still the Canadian 50K record.

Yesterday (June 18) was not a day for records.  It reached 32 degrees (90F) by 1:00 PM.  In fact, yesterday was not a good day for racing.  Most runners either pulled the plug early as I did, or settled down into a death-avoidance jog.  The 100K was a fine example of the carnage.  47 runners started and 26 finished.  The splits (relatively cool morning first 50K, scorching afternoon 50K) showed the impact of running in bright sun and heat.  One notable exception was Julie Hamulecki, who ran the 100K in 8:41.  I think she was running too fast for anyone to tell her it was a hot day...  Julie was an hour and 21 minutes ahead of the second place finisher, also a woman.

Was heat the deciding factor in my DNF?  Not at all.  Nor did injuries, old or new, play a role.  Simply a lack of training.  I was hoping to be recovered from running for 6 hours in Kingston 2 short weeks ago, but no such luck.  And it was a bit frustrating.  I ran 15K of hills on Wednesday, without an issue.  I could have gone longer, but I had a 50K in 3 days.  From the start of the race, I kept my pace leisurely.  I had no illusions about running a fast 50K.  I knew I would be struggling before 35K, but was surprised that at just 10K, my legs already felt like they had 30K on them.  Feeling tired at 10K is a serious wake-up call, so I focused on hydration, nutrition and salt intake.  I had gel at 5K and 10K, Ibuprofen at 5K and salt at 10K.  I was ready to push steadily for the next 15 - 20K.  Or so I thought.

At 18K, I could no longer run without walking breaks.  Excuse Me?  Not even in the back of my mind did it occur to me that my race was over.  Obviously, I was not hydrating enough or my nutrition was off.  I had just taken salt at 10K, so that could not be the issue.  I took a hefty slug from my gel flask (it holds 6 gels) and drank half of my water bottle.  At the 20K aid station, I drank a full bottle of ice and Gatorade.  I was confident I would get my mojo back and be running smoothly by 25K.

When your race is not going well, it is amazing how much mental dialogue floods your brain.  This in itself is counterproductive to having a good race.  All the internal analysis and second guessing crowds out the calm and positive thoughts that produce an ideal state of mind for racing.  It is also difficult to stave off the negative thoughts that can end your race.  After running for 41 years, I understand this, but in the middle of a race, it is difficult to calm your mind when nothing is working.  After struggling for 7K, I realized it simply wasn't my day to race 50K.

This gave me 2 options.  I could slog through another 25K of walking / staggering in 32 degree heat and bright sunshine, or save my legs for another day.  I have been there, done that.  In fact, I have pushed through on a hot day while running 50K at Niagara.  I developed heat stroke and although I finished in some ugly time, I also came close to passing out at a restaurant that evening.  My heart would suddenly speed up for no apparent reason over the next few days.  I would like to give a repeat of this experience a pass...

So I hitched a ride in the supply van back to the start/finish.  On the way back, we stopped at the aid stations, most of whom were out of ice.  I know many of the people who were out there, running in the heat and for the most part, they did not look well.  Even the cheery people, those who always seem to be smiling during a race, were struggling.  I had made the correct decision.

What's next?  We will be camping with the grandkids (they are bringing their parents) the week before Dirty Girls, so I will have to skip that race.  Waiting until Haliburton seems like too long a gap from Niagara, so perhaps Limberlost?  TLC has such a fantastic course, it would be a shame to miss it.

Creemore Vertical Challenge

Well, the new course is set and I am in big trouble.  I had mentioned earlier that I would be adding a hill.  But this is how my mind works...  (Yes, that statement is open to interpretation)  If I need to add a hill, then I should approach 2 people with hilly trails, so that I have a better chance of obtaining the use of one of them.  Sound plan, right?  Both people are allowing me to use their trails.  I don't like choosing as people might accuse me of being partial to one hill over another, so I have added both hills to the race course.  Also, there is this cute little slope that is right beside the race course and should be part of the Creemore experience.  I excluded the slope in past years because it is about 500 meters before the finish and I wanted runners to see the slope and think "Hey, Pierre's a nice guy.  We don't have to run up that paltry little slope"...

The good news is twofold.  Because the course is now a bit long, the trail through the pine trees directly after aid station 2 will be eliminated.  Also, the first new hill will be designated a "pitch", as it only has about 100 meters vertical gain.  Thus the course will only have 4 hills, one valley, one pitch and a paltry slope!  Everybody will be happy...


We're Not Happy Until You're Not Happy


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Kingston 6 Hour Race Report

It is very strange how far we can stray from our race goals.  I think this is a result of having very simple race goals, which do not necessarily fit into the complexities that develop, once the race begins.

My "A" goal for the Sri Chinmoy Self-transcendence 6 Hour race in Kingston was to run 42.3K.  This is mainly due to a lackluster training program, which was due to a late maple syrup season, contracting the flu and lousy running weather in March and April.  Contributing factors were the ice storm, tractor repairs and difficulty with altitude, but I won't go into detail...

So, how hard could it be, to run a minuscule distance above a marathon?  I had forgotten about what happens during a race.  In the tone of the Deer Hunter:  "The complexities, the complexities".  Although a bit warm (people who ran Sulphur are laughing about now), a cool breeze off Lake Ontario provided some relief every lap.  The Kingston course is run around the old Fort  Henry and beside the beautifully restored Royal Military College buildings.  The 1.1K loop is paved, with about 500 meters along the shore of Lake Ontario.  Think beautiful old building and sailboats.

A good friend Elizabeth Hurdman was also running the race and since Elizabeth has very little eyesight, Lee Anne, Stephan Miklos and I would pace her, around and around the 1.1K loop.  I was very concerned that I would not be able to keep up with the Kingston Trio.  I had of course, forgotten about the complexities that evolve during a race.  I did have difficulty with the initial pace.  It was slow, but little of my training was even at that pace, and not very much on pavement.  Within the first hour, my back was complaining.  So, with 5 hours to go, I was already struggling.  However, I was not the only one who incurred early-race issues.  Elizabeth's legs started to cramp just 2 hours into the race.  The heat was a factor and perhaps we were enjoying the conversation too much to focus on proper nutrition?  For the next 2 hours, Elizabeth struggled and needed a few walking breaks.  The breaks and some Ibuprofen helped right my back, and I was able to keep up with Stephan and Elizabeth.  Since there was little point in having 4 of us run in a group, which caused a bit of a road block for the faster runners, Lee Anne went ahead.  Stephan performed the lion's share of pacing Elizabeth.  Stephan never once flagged, which is amazing considering that he ran 50 miles at Sulphur the previous Saturday!  At 5 hours into the race, I asked him if he was feeling even a bit tired.  The answer:  Nope.  I was very annoyed...

Kingston is very different than the average race, even trail races.  "Timing" involved running past the start/finish, making eye contact with one of 12 people who are manually recording the time of the every runners' loop, and saying "hello" to your timer!  This gives Kingston a very personal touch, lacking at most other races.  You need to experience it once, to understand.  The aid station is well stocked.  They had small bags of ice, sponges, seaweed, watermelon and the usual ultra fare.  Hydration consisted of water, sea salt water, HEED and a clear electrolyte drink whose name escapes me.

At about the 4 hour mark, I was no longer able to keep up with the group.  This was quite good, as I had expected to start lagging behind the group after 2 hours.  The strange part was that although I lagged behind, I seemed to catch up almost every loop.  The group was taking walking breaks, which did not coincide with my walking breaks, but allowed me to get back in range.

Was I on pace to reach my A goal?  Part of the reason I wanted to stop at 42.3K, was because I have the Niagara 50K race in 2 weeks.  I was hoping to get a technical ultra (technically, more than a marathon) in about 5 hours, then stopped, to save the legs.  From 4 to 5 hours, I was running "alone", although friends would lap me (and I would lap a few) every so often, so there was always someone with encouragement or with whom to briefly chat.  I hit the marathon lap (lap 39 covers from 41.8K to 42.9K) shortly after 5 hours.  I was still "catching up" to the group on almost every lap.  I decided to get my keys on the next lap and grab a bottle of maple syrup for Hladini, the race director.  I forgot my keys!  By this time, I figured I might as well catch up to the group and finish the 6 hours together.  With about 15 minutes to go, every runner is given a small bag of sand with their name.  Along the race course are 3 or 4 cars.  When the 6 hour time limit is reached, the cars all sound their horn.  Runners drop their bag.  Someone with a measuring wheel then walks the course and the distance of your last lap is recorded.  Lee Anne ran 3 more laps than the rest of us, however Elizabeth, Stephan and I covered 45.755K.  Yes, manual timing, but at exactly 6 hours, they provide your distance down to the meter!

So, my "A" goal went right out the window, although I completed my first ultra in 2016.  Hopefully I will not pay too dearly at Niagara for my exuberance.  Pacing Elizabeth was surprisingly enjoyable.  It helped take my mind off the drudgery of running a 1.1K course over and over again.  It was instrumental in exceeding my A goal.  It was also the first time I have run with Stephan, who is also a good friend.  Stephan typically runs the longer distances and at a faster pace.  I see him at the end of the race, so it was great to share a few hours on the course.

This morning, I am stiff and sore.  One drawback to a 6 hour race in Kingston is that it makes for a long day.  6 hours of running and 7 hours of driving.  We missed a fabulous meal that Kingston dishes up after the race during the award ceremony as we had to make the long drive back to Creemore.  In future years, we will sample the impressive B&B's located in Kingston.

Both Lee Anne and Elizabeth made it to the leader board.  This is a board set up near the S/F line and is regularly (manually) updated with the top 7 male and female runners.  A hearty thanks to all the volunteers, who gave up a fine Saturday in order to attend to the runners' needs.  Hladini puts on a top notch race.  I am always surprised that this race has not been discovered by the trail, road and ultra hoards.  Of course, if sign-up reached 500+ runners, it would change the character of the race.  Manual timing would have to be replaced by chip timing, etc.


Cheers!