Sunday, April 29, 2012

Personal Worst: And Loving It!

Another exciting weekend, the first race of the year, seeing old running buddies and using a chainsaw to prepare for a wedding...

Yes, ultra runners were involved, why do you ask?

First, the important stuff.  not sure if Dawn Hamel, hubby (remember, I have no memory...), and Adam Hill will read this blog, but once again they put on a stellar race, the 2012 offering of Pick Your Poison.  Sign up for their race and you get a T-shirt, honey and (if you finish) racing socks.  I have many T-shirts, but a dire lack of honey and racing socks.  Double bonus!

I should mention the course and weather:  Perfect.

I often rate a trail course on how it would be viewed (in my opinion) by a road racer.  To me, road racers should do well on a trail, because they are experienced at monitoring their energy output and staying near, but not superseding, their max VO2.  This is a fine art that eludes me at this juncture in life, because I now enjoy running trails and care little for training or racing on the edge.  I put in my 20 years of chasing PB's, now I am chasing PW's!  So the hypothetical road warrior lined up at PYP, more condescension than trepidation, for the trail ahead.  And he or she would be well rewarded for ignoring the subtleties of trail running - for the first 5K.  Blazing speed would get you to aid station #1 in good time and fine form!

The next 7.5K would be a subtle series of road racing miscarriages.  For the most part, each new hindrance (I would use the word hill, but it is not just elevation gain or loss that causes a re-alignment of the racer's psyche during badass single track) results in the necessity to establish a new baseline.  If the road runner is flexible enough to compensate for the arsenal of mischief being thrown his or her way (as I fervently hope was my case in 1978, when I started running trails), the obstacles are no big deal and the pace adjustment seemingly negligible.  Until the end of loop #1, when the road runner sees the time on the clock.

Race Report

I was very concerned that PYP 2012 would be the first short race that I DNF.  I have DNF'd 2 marathons, which is cause for some embarrassment, as it is a distance that is too short to pull out purely because I am having a painful run.  50K is okay to DNF, as I am not always healthy at 30K and will not run in extreme pain for 20K.  12K of pain is fine, but not much longer.

So, my game plan was to run the first 12.5K loop SLOWLY.  Are you listening legs?  NO SPEED IN LOOP 1.  For the most part, this worked well, mainly because I have never run a race with a torn cartilage, so I was very diligent in keeping the revs down.  Waiting for knee surgery is a very good motivator in keeping to a slower pace.

The first loop was completed in about 1:30 and off we went on the next loop.  Strangely, I was feeling fine.  For loop 2, I focused on keeping my cadence high (foot turnover) and relaxing.  I passed 3 - 4 people at the onset of loop 2, which I can only describe as a surrealistic feeling.  I was fully expecting to crash and burn circa 20K!

Near the end of loop 2, I was feeling strong and although tired, would easily complete the 25K race.  Then I tripped over some phantom root, went down hard, and my right leg (the one requiring surgery) cramped up severely.  Not just the calf or hamstrings, but the entire leg!  I quickly stood up and worked out the cramps.  Enough smugness, I might be convincing myself that it was smooth sailing, but my legs saw the 22K mark in a different light...

At circa 23K, I must have entered the twilight zone.  While power walking the last big hill, I heard Allistair Munro, second place in the 50K, coming up behind me on his third loop.  I stepped off the single trail to give Allistair room to speed on by.  Instead, he stopped and shook my hand.  It was all I could do not to yell at him to get going!  Second place in a tough trail race and he stops?  Unbelievable, except for Allistair, who is a calibre player on the circuit.

My finishing time was 3:02, which is very close to an even split.  Although I am sore today, it is a post-race tired muscle soreness, not a wheelchair cripple condition.  I would have loved to stick around and cheer in the 50K runners (including wife Lee Anne) but I had another engagement, with some newlyweds...

Gerry Arbour (Sulphur 100 Miles) and Cheryl D'Sousa (runs races and paced Gerry for 60K) tied the knot last year in an unusual wedding that witnessed the minister, bridesmaids and grooms running 10K to the ceremony site.  This year, Cheryl and Gerry will tie the know again, with those who consider a 10K trail run something intended for the lunatic fringe.   I.e. normal people!

After the race, we headed up to the sugar bush and cut 14 - 10" rounds for the centre pieces and 3 - 16" rounds for the wedding cake.  Gerry looked impressive, carrying most of the rounds with a yolk.  Saturday night we enjoyed a modest bonfire (less than 15 foot flames).

I am currently trying to post pictures from PYP on Flickr.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

cOlder Than Boston

This has to be a short post - battery is low.  Thought of a great phrase for the back of the T-shirts (title).  A slight dig at ATB!

Ran the PYP course on Saturday.  We are going to spend some energy this Saturday in the race!  The first 5K is easy, peaceful, gentle.  The last 7.5K requires heavy duty legs to maintain any pace.  Love it!

Saturday night we hosted Charlotte V. and Stephan and Kinga Miklos.  Char will be attempting to break her Bruce Trail record in June.  Sunday was a "trial" to help iron out kinks and cover parts of the trail where she had difficulty in 2010 (Char spent a total of 10 hours running around looking for the trail!).  Paced her near the end of the day and she seemed fresh at 65K...  Incredible!

Hope to see the gang at PYP.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Spring Warm-up: Unsinkable!

Quite a good showing for the SW, with about 30 runners and 5 who signed up just for the grand prize.  To get the suspense out of the way, Cathy Lindsay won the GP and gets free entry into most of the OTS/OUS races for 2012.  Congratulations Cathy!

The day started with some ominous black clouds overhead, but they passed through before the start of the race.  It did spatter at one point, but by then the day was warm enough that it was not much of an inconvenience.  By noon, the sun was peaking out of the clouds and almost perfect running temperature.

The course was quite dry.  Although I am fighting something, with a sore throat and a bit of hacking at night, running one loop was too tempting and might have helped the cold.  It was wonderful to meet with running friends and talk the talk.  The knee did not act up during the run (I can feel it now) and although I intended to go slowly, that did not seem to transpire.  I think subconsciously, I figured I could push a decent pace for 13K.

After we had our fill of aid station supplies, pizza, soup and refreshments, there was ample time to chat about the latest running endeavors and the upcoming season, while we waited for those running a third or fourth loop to join us.  Counting the token maple syrup, tech T-shirts and pottery, there was almost enough prizes for everyone.  Thanks to those how stayed late and helped clean up.  Joe Cleary had to get in a final loop (he really seemed to be enjoying himself on the course) so I placed a finishing medal on his cooler and took down the course.  Breaking the aid station and gathering the flags only took about 20 minutes.  I spotted Joe on the 4K downhill "shortcut" and he was in fine spirits, even though he missed out on the pizza and beer.

The SW provides a great chance to run and chat with friends before the season begins, have some pizza and a beer and come away with a prize.  but it also helps to generate funds that are pivotal in enhancing the OTS and OUS races.

A huge thanks to all who participated!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ready for the Spring Warm-up!

Hopefully just a short post.  Went to see an ear doctor.  I have what appears to be permanent hearing loss in my right ear.  I want a second opinion.  Mainly because I couldn't hear the first opinion!  Get it?  It's a hearing joke.  Probably fell on deaf ears...

Set up the Dunedin hall today, for tomorrow's Spring Warm-up.  It is quite a nice venue and well equipped.  I set up a cute sign the says "The Unsinkable Spring Warm-up".  Plan to run one loop (13K), then man the aid station.

Lee Anne leaves for Boston tomorrow.  The Boston forecast is calling for a high of 30 on Monday.  I can't wait to miss that race!  It will be strange not having Lee Anne at the SW.  We almost always go to races together.

Looking forward to seeing some old friends at the SW, and making new ones!  Who will win the grand prize?  An interesting footnote on the grand prize (free entry into most OUS races).  This is not based on tangible statistics, but many of the recent winners seem to have jumped a level or two in their ultra running.  I think it would kill me!

Until tomorrow!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Back to Back!

Okay, for those of you who consider 120K a light week, I ran 17K on Friday and 5K with my son-in-law Saturday, so not technically a B2B, but at least I can do more than limp the day after 17K.  Daryl is just getting going with this running thing and I think he enjoys it.  His breathing is good, we could talk without gasping and his pace is significant.  He repeated how much energy he has after running.  To him, it is inexplicable.  To me, I cannot remember what it feels like when not running, so we had an interesting conversation discussing the ancillary impacts of running.  This is something that all runners wish non-runners could understand.  Unfortunately, it makes no sense, even to me, after 39 years of running, so how could a non-runner understand?

I'm pumped for the OUS/OTS Spring Warm-up!  I was a bit worried on several fronts.  They are calling for snow on Wednesday (bring it!  The runners that show are not spring chickens!), I have very little maple syrup for prizes (but I will bring some, damn the torpedoes) and until recently, I had 2 car payments and 2 cars; after my $5K down payment, very little cash in the bank.  I just sold my 2008 Civic, so I once again have more money than God.  Although this statement is a complete exaggeration of the real situation, I at least can pay for the hall and pizza, so times are good!  At the end of the run, a neighbor has promised us all on his new boat, the Titanic!  Should be a blast!

Signing up for PYP (Lee Anne 50k, Pierre 25K) this evening.  RD's Adam and Dawn might actually be disappointed as I was planning on volunteering if the knee did not allow me to run the race!  This will be the first race I have ever run with a torn cartilage.  What could go wrong?  When I had the cartilage removed from my left knee in 1973 (or was it 1793?) I was ordered not to do ANY exercise.  This time, I did not ask my doctor if running a 25K hill race on a torn cartilage was a good idea,  My theory is that he doesn't want to know, anyway.

There are some extremely famous names showing up for the SW.  Ron Gehl, who fathered 2 of Canada's best runners (what's her name?  Laura?  Something like that.  And Terry).  Also Paul Tergat, former world record holder for the marathon.  Paul did mention that he was getting his hair done on April 14, so he might not show.  Count on it!  Cathy Melanson, from the famous (infamous?) Borden Striders.  The list is much much larger than short!

Surgery will (I hope) be scheduled shortly.  This will likely put a damper on the race season, but might make running more than 50K per week something not fully affiliated with chronic pain.

Finished cleaning the maple syrup equipment (took 3 weeks) and started on the cabin, which I will expound upon at some future blogdate.

Let the race season begin!