Sunday, August 31, 2014

Late Night Post

It is not overly late, but I was cutting firewood all day, so it FEELS late...

Running is tough when cutting firewood.  The back hurts, the legs are bleeding, My upper body is stiff.  Do they make an Ibuprofen inhaler?  I need more power Scotty!

Lee Anne is race director for the Creemore Copper Kettle Dash, held on Saturday, August 23 in conjunction with Creemore Springs Brewery's Copper Kettle Festival.  The Dash is a 5K and 10K race.  It went well, but again participation was down.  Although much less work than the Creemore Vertical Challenge, it is still significant effort, for only 63 runners.  Holding it a fourth year is questionable.

Next Saturday (Sept. 6) I will be crewing for Lee Anne in the Pine Creek Challenge.  She was originally going to run the 100 mile race, but the course is not certified, so she will run the 100K as a long training run.  I hope to get a few miles in by pacing her.

On October 11 we are running the Canlake 50.  Again, Lee Anne will show me up by running the 50 mile, while I attempt the baby ultra (50K).  I should probably start training soon...

The Toad is a bit of a quandary, as I don't do well racing 25K the week before a 50K...  This will take some thought.

Oh well, that's it for now.  Bedtime!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dirty Girls: Volunteer

I almost feel guilty about volunteering at the Dirty Girls race.  The Mansfield Outdoor Centre is an 8 minute drive from my house.  When other volunteers are finished their shift, they have a 2 hour drive home.  This is significant because DG is a 12, 24 and 48 hour race.  Vollies are typically at the race site all day or all night.  A 2 hour drive after helping runners for 12 hours is tricky!

Being retired, I was able to give Diane (RD) and Henri (her beautiful assistant) more of my time.  I helped with course and race set-up on Thursday, had Friday off, then worked at the start/finish aid station on Friday and Saturday nights.  Probably of more importance from Diane and Henri's perspective, Lee Anne and I offer them a room to store race materials and a bed to sleep, up in Creemore.  I think a good night's sleep on Wednesday night, 8 minutes from the race is very key.  Diane and Henri don't get much sleep from Thursday evening to Sunday evening!

As mentioned above, DG has 3 races.  I like to think of them along the following lines:

12 hour:  Seriously disturbed humans
24 hour:  Do you really consider yourself to be human?  Why?
48 hour:  Avoid these people.  No, really - avert your eyes!

There comes a point in the 12 hour race where each and every one of the runners questions their sanity.  I hope.  Almost immediately following this "anti" epiphany is the realization that there are other people out there who look at the first 12 hours of running as the warm-up.  Working at the aid station, I could almost predict the point at which the 12 hour runners would look at me, stare for a few seconds, then exclaim "those 24 and 48 runners are totally whacked"!  Aside from being married to one of them, I couldn't agree more...

If we suspend sanity for an instant, purely in the cause of pursuing a logical conclusion, it could be argued that running 24 hours is simply a very great challenge.  People have done extraordinary things for a very long time, for various good reasons.  I once participated in a 12 hour dance-a-thon.  People drink alcohol for more than 24 hours.  Some of them live!  Running, although much harder than dancing or drinking, can be maintained for a very long time.  The 24 hour runners followed a fairly typical decay.  Most ran between 6 and 12 hours, then ran/walked for another 4 - 6 hours, then walked with a few running "breaks" until the 24 hours was complete.  None of this is overly strange, from an academic perspective.  But you might want to volunteer at a 24 hour race before you decide to run one yourself.  You will soon realize that the most bizarre things will happen to you!  You learn the best way to duct tape a broken orthotic.  You hear cute little comments like "I just threw up 3 times.  I'm feeling much better now, but will pass on the cold french fries".  Joe Cleary (okay, he was in the 48 hour race) was stung by a wasp.  His hand swelled impressively.  It looked like medical attention was a valid option.  Joe is 73, but decided that continuing with his run was "reasonable"...  Really?

Running 48 hours is considered lunacy, even in ultra circles.  I consider myself to be an ultra runner, although I have not yet been able to train for "true" ultra distances (50 miles or more), but even if I was completely healthy, in top shape and had no injuries, going for a run that started at sun-up, progressed until sundown, then continued through another sun-up, then another sundown, and finally another sun-up?  Nope.  Not going to happen!  The neat thing about a 48 hour race is perspective.  It makes a 24 hour race seem normal.  I mean, you only see the sun go down once.  How hard can it be?  I know, leaning towards certifiable.

Working at an aid station is a lot of fun.  You are the only person not experiencing extreme pain.  You are coherent (assuming the wine is moderated) and all you need to do is provide the runners with SOMETHING that appeals to them.  This can be tricky, but after working at an aid station for a few races, it becomes easier.  Is the runner sweating?  No?  Push the cold fries dipped in salt.  The runner looks good, but wants a change of menu?  Suggest some soup or a grilled cheese.  Runners tend to rely on gels, or a special mixture in their handheld bottle.  This is important as they need to find what works for them hour after hour.  But all runners eventually tire of the same old thing.  That's when a volunteer can make a big difference.  DG is a LONG race on an 8K loop.  You see the same runners about every 90 minutes.  Yes, it is a fairly tough course!  You start to anticipate what they would want.  I try to instill humour into the equation.  Come on Kim!  Only 45 hours to go - time to pick up the pace!  Just a note:  Runners either laugh at your joke, or they kill you...

Well, Lee Anne and I just found out that we are in the Can Lake 50.  We were quite far down the waiting list, but are now in the race!  Lee Anne is running the 50M and I will tackle the 50K.  I don't know much about the race, aside from it takes place mostly on pavement, and the RD Egils Robs is very competent and accommodating.  So we are off to Rochester NY on October 11.  Looks like I am only running 25K at Run for the Toad!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Limberlost and Lumberlabour

Okay, this RR is late.  I know, I'm retired, so what the hell could be my excuse?  You're not going to like hearing this again, but I've been busy!  Read after the RR if you care to find out why.

The Limberlost Challenge

The Limberlost Challenge ranks as one of Ontario's finest trail races, a big part of which is the most excellent course.  Even in a wet and muddy year such as 2014, it ranks as a favourite among many of Ontario's trail aficionados.  TLC and Creemore have a special connection, that grew out of a need to address the perceived problem of holding 2 Ontario ultra (OUS) races on consecutive weekends.  Due to logistics, it would have been problematic to change the date of either race.  Instead, Neil (RD for TLC) and I decided to make a challenge for those who ran both the Creemore Vertical Challenge and The Limberlost Challenge.  Hence the birth of the (what else!) Ultra Challenge Challenge.  Those completing both races would be presented with a coveted UCC finishers medal.  The top 3 M/F would also get prizes (pottery) and a plaque.

The above is a fairly lengthy explanation that I needed to help Neil with the UCC; calculating and tracking the times, and presenting finishers with the UCC medal.  There's no way I'm going to be at TLC without running the course!  Running the 28K would give me time to help with the UCC after my race was complete.

Since I'm about 2.5 hours from Huntsville, I drove up the morning of the race.  TLC boasts one of the greatest venues for staging a race, with plenty of parking, space for a big tent and a lake to cool down in after my 28K shift was done.  Races start every 20 minutes, so that all 4 races begin between 8:00 and 9:00.

My running is starting to progress in 2014.  I think this has to do with more physical exercise (retirement does not translate to leisure, in my case), losing some weight and no injuries.  At TLC, I decided to push the pace a little, for the first time in 3 years.  I stayed slow during the first 5K, to make sure there were no hidden issues, then gradually upped the pace until it became "challenging".  I was not rocketing the course by any means, but finished the first 14K in  1:44, which is very respectable for me.  Fatigue and being unused to pushing during a run meant that my second loop was slower.  I was happy with a sub-2 hour second 14K and a finishing time of 3:43!  It has been a while since I was in the top half of the finishers, so I was surprised to see that I placed 5th of 13 in my AC.  This helps tremendously as some days, I wonder if I will ever be able to run fast again.

After the race, I enjoyed the lake (okay, in case someone reads this who saw me in the lake, I went up to my shins), had a shishkabob, then hung around chatting and handing out UCC medals.

Great race!


I am helping my son-in-law Daryl to build a house in Toronto.  Daryl and Lily (my step-daughter) bought a bungalow near Park Lawn and during the winter, Daryl and I demolished everything but the exterior walls and part of the floor.  After a few delays (this becomes significant later on), Csaba (pronounced Chubba), a master carpenter, started framing the new house.  It would be a 2 story modern style house, loosely based on Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.  Daryl and I are the common labourers, while Ritchie, an experienced carpenter, is helping Csaba with the construction.  

Csaba, who is lightening quick at his normal speed, has been going gangbusters to complete the framing before he heads to Hungary for a vacation to visit with family and friends.  Trying to keep up with his requests for lumber and plywood is killing me!  Is the house over-engineered?  For the roof, we are talking 2x8 20 foot lumber for the rafters, strapped with 2X4 on edge, then 3/4 inch plywood for the decking.  A typical comment from Csaba:  "Hey Pierre!  Please hand me 4 sheets of 3/4 plywood".  Csaba means for me to haul the 4 sheets up through a window to the roof peak.  I might be exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture...

The house will be impressive once complete.  From just inside the front door, it will be 26 feet up to the peak.  The house will be clad entirely in metal.  More pictures to come!