Friday, February 10, 2012

My bucket list

Many people have bucket lists. These are ‘must do’s’, to be accomplished at some point in their lives. For runners they inevitably are races that have some important meaning. I have been giving some thought to my running bucket list and have come up with the following races:

Half Marathons (both of these are races I want to run with Joanne)

Cape to Cabot – St John’s Newfoundland (20km)

Venice Half Marathon - Italy

Marathons

Havana Marathon – Cuba

Trapline Marathon – Happy Valley Goose Bay Labrador

Ultra-races

JFK 50 mile – Maryland

Vermont 50km – Vermont

Umstead 100 mile – North Carolina

Vermont 100km – Vermont

Stage races

Canadian Death Race (125km) – Grand Cache, Alberta

Sinister 7 (148km) – Crows Nest Pass, Alberta

Marathon de Sable (6day, 243km) – Morocco

Gobi March (250km, 7 days, 6 stages) – China

Sahara Race (250km, 7 days, 6 stages) – Egypt

Now there are a few other events that I would like to add to the list. The first is the Bermuda Triangle Challenge. This is three different races over a three day period. The distances are a 1 mile race, 10km race and then either a half or full marathon. The other event I would like to try next year is the Ultra Challenge Challenge. The UCC is two events one week apart. The first is the Creemore Vertical Challenge (50km) the second the Limberlost Challenge (56km). Complete both events and you are awarded the UCC medal.

So this is my bucket list.

A new title and new goals

Well a few minor changes. First I removed the Wannabe from the title of the blog. I figure I have entered the world of the ultra runner. Second is that I am going to try a few self supported (non-race) ultra runs so have added them and the list of races I want to do this year on the right side of the blog.

Will be adding my 'bucket list' (essentially dream races) in the coming days.

Monday, February 6, 2012

On a role

Ha...already 300% more entries than last year on this blog!!!

Running in Circles on Empty

Post: Running in Circles on Empty by Peter Peter Lariviere
I had thought of a couple of ways of starting off this review of the Self Transcendence Races before the race even started so let me share them with you first>>>>
Review Intro Option 1:Some people dream of being a bird so take up gliding or para sailing, others dream of being a great fish in the sea so go scuba diving...I wanted to know what it was like for a hamster using an exercise wheel so ran 12 hours on a 400m indoor track.
Review Option 2: I would have liked to write this review but am still dizzy from the repeated circles!!!!!
Not to make light of the Ottawa Self Transcendence Race but as you can imagine, or maybe experienced yourself, it is not easy to give a race report for a race that is run on an indoor track that is 400metres in length...once I describe one lap you can just multiply the experience by the number of times it takes to do the 6, 12 or 24 hours. But let me be serious here for a moment and say that this was an amazing event, well run with a great group of fellow participants and I will definitely add this race to my calendar for next year.
So where does he go from here???I can hear the questions being asked. Well let me give you a brief, and somewhat family rated, version of my experience at the Self Transcendence Race in Ottawa.
The background: The race is actually 4 events; a 24 hour challenge (for the absolute nutters!!! Sorry folks), a less crazy 12 hour event and finally a 6 hour solo and team event.
The Location :The race is held in the small Ottawa, Ontario bedroom community of Blackburn Hamlet (as a side bar this is the location of a great pub called the Blackburn Arms should you be in the area!) which is in the east end of Canada’s national capital. The venue for the race is Louis Riel High School indoor dome affectionately known as the Dome. This is a great location and a wonderful spot for track and field and indoor soccer.
The story.... So this is a race I had been planning to take part in for a number of months. The location was great, a distance of 8km from my home, and being indoors made shoe and clothing selection a breeze. Plus my great wife Joanne, would not be forced to sit on the sidelines as my pit crew for this event and instead could come and go knowing that I would be easy to spot whenever she returned to the race. The race was on Saturday September 24th and I had decided that I would take the Friday off just to make sure everything was planned out and in order; ice made, water chilled, gels ready, electrolyte drink measured out and in baggies. I was going to nail this one, and establish myself as a master of the 12 hour distance....too bad my stomach and GI didn’t get the memo!!! Thursday night unfolds and tummy starts acting up. Joanne in her always keeping me happy way tells me to calm down I am probably making myself nervous and the result is an upset stomach...so I end the evening early, grab a book, non running, and head up for some reading before bedtime. 2:00 am stomach cramps....3:30 stomach cramps....can’t sleep!! What the heck is going on!!! Friday morning arrives sooner than I wanted and Joanne gets ready and leaves for work. I putter around the house. By 10:00am I know I am not suffering from nerves but something more serious. I head off to get my hair cut (the speed thing & don’t pretend you haven’t tried!!!) and get home feeling even sicker than when I left. Well the remainder of Friday went from bad to worse and by 7:00pm I was in bed shivering and sweating and feeling like crap. But I wasn’t ready to abandon the race.
Saturday morning 5:00 am...need to eat - but any thought of food is just disgusting. Try some dry toast - yuck, some apple sauce - double yuck, some banana...excuse me need to leave for a moment.... so you get the picture! Anyway arrived at the race site unloaded the cooler and chairs from the Jeep and walked into the Dome. It was amazing and a miracle...as I walked through the doors my stomach seemed to feel better and I felt like I could do the race....hehehe that was the adrenalin speaking. The race started and within two hours I was well beyond my anticipated pace and feeling like I might be over whatever flu I had picked up but then it all came crashing down. For the next four hours I walked the track with intermittent runs to the washroom and outside for air. My body was shutting down and I was just too stupid to know that I needed to stop. The medical staff at the race were great, providing support and advice but nothing worked. A few of the more seasoned folks at the event would even walk with me a bit...must have been obvious I was in trouble...and keep me company and offer advice. At the five hour mark Joanne returned and I could tell by her look that she wanted me to stop. When I finally hit the 6 hour mark I pulled the plug. I would suffer my first running race DNF. By the end of day Sunday I had dropped 8 pounds &4 days later things started getting better and two weeks after the race I finally got back to running.
Again this was a well organized race and considering the Ottawa climate the indoor venue was a perfect way of ensuring an even ground for all runners. If there is an event like this close to where you live I would highly recommend it. Or why not come to Ottawa next year and get in a great race and get to see Canada’s capital region.
We all are probably good at knowing how to train our bodies’ a self transcendence race lets you see if you can train your mind!

2011 Limberlost

The Limberlost Challenge is a series of races, each using the same 14km course. The difference is how often you need to go around that course. With a 14km, 28km, 42km and 56km race there is something for everyone. The July 2011 race was my first trail race and my first ultra. As well my wife was running the 14km distance and for her, this would be her longest run to date and her first trail race. If I can just skip to the end of the story, we both loved this event and plan on attending it in 2012.

So for the course itself, I will leave out the boring details on how this neophyte ultra runner failed to eat properly during the event or describe the wonderful (wonderful because I figure they make this a real ultra!!) blisters I got and stick to the actual course description.

For those of you not from this part of Canada, July in eastern Ontario can be cool and wet or hot and dry. For 2011 it was hot (very) and dry (very) and the temperature by mid day was in the low 30’s C. Fortunately the humidity was also low and the course is well shaded and follows a number of water bodies that keeps things sane in the temperature department. That said I like the heat so maybe others might have been a little less pleased with the temperature.

The race starts out in an open field and for the first 1km the course runs on a dirt road. This allows the bunny rabbits to move ahead and the turtles to settle in at the back. With four races the race organisers have opted for a staggered start which keeps things nicely spread out throughout the race. After the first bit of road the course enters a nice area of wide trail. Here passing can occur but it is mainly the place where small groups of runners begin to bunch together and share war stories. I was fortunate to hook up with two very experienced runners who throughout the first lap really gave me more information on this course and ultra running in general than I could have ever hoped to gain on my own. I would especially like to thank Paul Hallinan who ran with me throughout the first and second laps and significantly slowed his pace so I could keep up. This type of camaraderie is what makes ultra runners a special group of people and I am happy to be part of the family. Anyway this area is also a large pine forest and the heat of the morning allowed the wonderful scent of pine to fill the air. At the 2.5km mark the first real challenge of the course hits you. It is a wonderfully steep hill that most people walk. This is then followed by a break neck narrow track downhill then back to the wider trail covered with pine needles that follows a lake. This is also the part of the trail for a beautiful bit of scenery including a bridge crossing and running along a natural rock cut that you run under.

It was in this same area on my fourth lap where I came across a deer (one of the advantages of being slow and taking up the rear position in a race). Up a small hill and you arrive at the first water station. There are two aid stations for the race and both were well stocked and the volunteers greeted all the runners with enthusiasm and helped filling bottles. For the next 2km’s the run follows a beaver pond and the footing is a bit more tricky. Personally this was my least favourite part of the course although it was likely due to my inexperience in trail running and not in the quality of the running surface. Another bit of road and then a downhill along a lake including a few loose rock steps to keep you focused. I wasn’t and ended up flying for a few feet. Again people around stopped to help the klutz up and after seeing I was ok some friendly teasing occurred. From here the trail has a few muddy spots but nothing that can’t be managed by the nimble footed and then you are back in wonderful singletrack. It should be noted that there is ample passing room even on the single track throughout the course and as the fast runners for the 42km, 28km and 14km caught up to the slower 56km runners passing could occur without delaying either runner. Aid Station 2 is set up near the 9km mark and again a full list of munchies and fruit is available to help provide something different than just another gel! The last bit of the course has a few technical climbs, although they are short in length and one last miserable (add any number of swear word here) mud hole that seemed to suck any runner foolish enough to try and run across it. I found a nice run on the left side that most people avoided as it was in a wet looking area of tall grass, although the ground was a lot drier than it looked. One final lake to run along and you find yourself back on the road for the run to the start finish line and another lap.

Now I should point out that I finished the 56km’s in 9hrs 39 minutes while the winning time was a speedy 5 hours 44 minutes. There is both a 7 hour cut off at the end of the 3rd lap and a 10 hour cutoff for the finish. Finally this race is not sold as being a good race for a beginner ultra runner but I think that if you are comfortable on the trails and have a decent running base you can easily make this a first time ultra and enjoy every minute.

So I hope to see you all in 2012 at Limberlost. Just remember to say hi when you are lapping me!!!!

Hmmm Have I been asleep that long???

Ok, it is of little value having a Blog if you don't Blog. So I will try and be a bit more consistent in 2012.

Guess to start I did run my first marathon and first ultra in 2011. For 2012 I am going to stick to ultra distances. The plan is to run the following races:

April - Spring Fling in Smith Falls. This is a half marathon and Joanne and I are running this event because proceeds will go to the Smith Falls community hospital. This is where Louise, Joanne's sister, spent the last days of her life.

June - Kingston 6 hour
July - Limberlost
September - Ottawa Transcendence 12 hour.

I will also post two race reports I did for Limberlost and the Ottawa transcendence race last year on the Beyond Marathon web site.