Sunday, February 5, 2017
Saturday, January 21, 2017
But I didn’t get lost, I just followed some young bucks in the wrong direction for the heck of it. Pretty quickly I was sure we needed to head back to the correct trail but then they got ahead of me running very fast down the west side of Bird Mountain and I began to get worried they’d get lost. I figured I’d catch them, turn them around and try to make up time after that. But I didn’t catch them until they had stopped at the bottom of the mountain unsure of how to proceed. After professing that we needed to retrace our steps all the way back up they actually somehow convinced me that I was wrong. By then I really wanted them to be right(which they swore they were) because climbing that mountain again was too much to bear. I lead them for a few minutes and told them I was breaking cobwebs so we were definitely going the wrong way. They then concurred that they had been breaking them all of the way down too. OMG!! I immediately took them by the ears (wet as they were) and turned them around, showing them where we went wrong on the map and feeling pretty darn smug about my amazing map reading skills and how I had saved the youngins’ from a night in the woods and Laz a sleepless night of searching. And with that they were gone like two (insert witty simile here) and I was left alone with only my righteous smugness and withering pride for company at the bottom of Bird Mountain.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
125 people in the 10km fun run, 1 loop with 100% finish rate
125 people in the half marathon, 2 loops, 92 % finish rate
66 people in the marathon, 4 loops, 58% finish rate
10 people in the 100 miler, 16 laps, 0% finish rate
100 mile race stats required to finish-
16 laps(10km or 6.5 miles x 16)
36 hour cut-off (average of 2 hours and 15 min per lap)
4 finishers on old course with 1200 gain/loss per loop
0 finishers on new course with 1900 gain/loss per loop
100% of course is snow
100% of course run on snowshoes
100 mile race profile-
This year's course had approx.1900 feet of gain and loss per loop
Recent past years course had 1200 feet of gain and loss per loop
Original course had 1900 ft. of gain per loop
|Profile(in metres) of one lap of the 2014 Peaks Races snowshoe course.|
Approx. 1990 ft. total gain/loss per lap
Other Hardest Races in the World for comparison(I left the comparison for you to do)
So what do you think? Does this course really measure up to the BIG BOYS of Hardest Race in The World Fame?
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
"Would you like your medal now?", the young guy asked as he held out the finisher medal ready to place it over my head. "No, thanks" I replied for the 3rd time that day, "I'm going for another lap". "Oh?", the timer to the right of me exclaimed, "You'll have to be back before 6pm, can you do that?" she anxiously asked. "We're closin' up at six, absolutely no one can be on course after 6pm", Andy the RD interjected. "Can you BOOK IT?" he pointedly asked me, "You'll have to book it!". "Well, my watch died, what time is it?" I asked of them, "3:15", the timer replied. "So I have 2hours and 45min? No problem", I promised and ran off to replenish my bottles trying not to even think about if I had to pee or change clothes or do anything else because really I wasn't sure if I had the time to do anything else plus make in back in time for the cut-off.
"YOU'LL HAVE TO BOOK IT...BOOK IT...BOOK IT", was all that I could hear echoing in my head as I quickly ran the 50 ft or so from the start/finish to the base of the mountain where I began the arduous 1200 ft. climb to the summit. 2hours and 45min. seemed more then doable at that moment but I didn't know if my body would still be so agreeable to that after another climb up or if my mind would be sharp enough for that during another run down. So in a desperate move to convince myself that it was possible I began a mantra which I continued for the entire loop, "I can do it, I can do it, I can do it".
The unrunnable(for me anyways) incline went on for a good 1km at a 21percent grade it took me approx. 20 minutes. Then there were some switch backs with some short but runnable sections which I had always forced myself to run on my previous ascents. It was so easy to get stuck in the rhythm of hiking on the up parts that when you finally could run, if only for a short section, your legs just didn't seem to want to start up again. I wondered if it was even worth revving up the engine to only have to gear down again after a measly 40 or 30 or 20 ft. when the switchback would turn and begin to climb steeply again. But I chose to run each and every time if only for the sake of sticking to a plan that seemed to be working and would hopefully get me back to the finish before the cut-off of 6:00 pm.
I continued up the remaining 2 plus kms to the top(3km total) and was all alone as I entered an eerie section aptly named "The Labyrinth". Inside the trees grew so closely to one another that they blocked out most of the sunlight and the trail winded seemingly aimless back and forth, up and up. Once deep inside, the temperature dropped markedly from the lack of light and I got colder and colder and soon all I wanted to do was to get out as fast as possible where there might be some warmth to be gleaned from the cloud covered sun that awaited me on the other side. Once I was back into daylight I warmed up quickly and with a few more steep and now familiar climbs I was at the summit and a small stone house called "Shrek's Cabin". There was no one there to greet me this time and I began to feel abandoned when suddenly from behind me a fellow called to me as he practically fell out of the old wooden outhouse with a half moon hole on it asking if I was the last person on the course. "I think I am", I shouted back as he reached for his phone to call down to verify that fact and I imagined that after a long day on the summit he was probably ready to get back to a warmer and more comfortable setting. I found out later that I was indeed the last runner that they had let back on the course and that the RD had let me go as a sweep of sorts. I'd be able to verify to him that no other runners were out there and when I passed the volunteers on the summit it would be their cue to come down. I suppose he figured that once I was in that everyone would be in and that would mark the end of what had been a very long day and successful day.
I had made up my mind while climbing to the summit that I would have to throw caution to the wind and make up as much time as I could on the down side. I had to make sure to be back with time to spare as the last thing I wanted to happen was to finish a 4th lap and have it not count. On my first lap I ran down the 4kms to the bottom at what I would describe as "break neck speed", meaning that if I was to fall I might indeed break my neck or collar bone or an arm or my head, face etc., etc. After finishing that lap however I began to re-think all of the risky jumps and slides and stumbles I had survived and I become more cautious with each successive lap. I'd catch my snowshoe on a root or almost fall on my face or I'd fall on my back and think, "Wow that could have been a lot worse, maybe I should slow down". I also saw a lot of people take hard falls and tumbles and paying for it with broken snowshoes and painful impacts and after experiencing that over and over I began to put the brakes on during the more difficult descents more often as time wore on. However on this last lap it was as though my brake pads were completely worn and my accelerator was stuck to floor and I hit every short steep dip and every long slippery slope the course had to throw at me with complete abandon.
As I was about halfway down I noticed another runner below and a few switch backs ahead of me and I was quickly gaining on him. I hadn't seen anyone for a long time so it was nice to catch up to him and he fell in behind me. We made it to the base of the mountain where on previous years there was a bridge that would lead runners to the finish line. However this year there was no bridge so instead the course designer perhaps decided it would be fun(I use the word "fun" loosely) to send the runners back up the mountain for another 1.5km and an added 700 ft of gain before we would then come back down another 1.5km and to the finish area. It was at this part in every loop where I could "smell the barn" but it seemed to take just so darn long to get to it. Tim and I were not really sure how long it would take us to get to the finish and he calculated that we would be close time wise to beat the cut-off so I began the run back up the mountain...that's right, I said "run up" the mountain.
For the first time all day I decided to not only run the "runnable" stretches but to run the "unrunnables" also. I didn't need to save my gas anymore and was happy to run to the end on fumes if I had to. Needless to say I don't think that Tim was too thrilled with this new plan and suggested that "we should be fine" time wise but I could not take the chance and I kept pushing us up and up and just when I thought the ups were over we'd round a bend and there would be another up. "Oh when will it end?" I thought to myself...out loud. We began to pass people as we charged through "The Stairs" and the "Escalator" trails and it was not until we finally hit the downs that we knew we would be back in time. Only another 1.5km down, one more dicey sugary long slope, a few more switch backs and we could see the parking lot, then the outline of a wooden barn and then the cheers of some volunteers and Andy and the lovely Lady Timer who exclaimed, "You did it!...And faster then you said you would!" Finally, after 9 and a half hours I allowed the young guy with the out reached arms holding the finisher medal to place it around my neck. I had in deed "BOOKED IT", I had chased and beaten the cut-off, running the second fastest loop of my day with 30 plus minutes to spare.
Firstly, a HUGE thanks to my coach Derrick who's training plan got me to the starting line healthy and ready to run further, for longer and higher then I have ever done before or even dreamed possible. As I wrote to him after the race, "Without your training plan I would not have attempted it(the race) in the first place, I would not have had that thread of hope to hold onto in the middle of it and I would not have had that great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment at the end of it."
Also EPIC thanks to the Peak Races organization, RD Andy Weinberg, course designer Matt Baatz and all of the great volunteers who spent the entire day waiting, cheering and making sure that everything and everyone was running as smoothly as possible. This was truly an "EPIC DAY" in every way!!!
Last but not least, thank-you to everyone who shared the mountain with me as we made our way through various portions of the course. Your amazing performances inspired me when your pace overtook mine , your encouraging words gave me hope when you stepped aside for me and when I fell your helping hands lifted me up in so many ways. (a very nice gentleman literally pulled me to my feet when I fell during my first descent. You were so kind. Thank-you so much).
A few facts-
The Race- Peaks National Snowshoe Championship - Marathon / Half Marathon and 10km
Where- Pittsfield Vermont
When- March 1st 2014
Loop Distances- 3 km up, 4 km down, 1.5 km up, 1.5km down (total approx. 10.2km)
Gain- 1900ft per loop(7600ft total according to Peaks)
Grade up- 21% for first 1km, then averaged 5% for next 2 km to the top with switch backs and climbs. Avg. total grade up was 10%
Grade down- -6 % for 2 km down, -14 % the next 1km down, then -5% for .5km, then up 7.5% for 1.5 km then down again 4% avg. for 2 km
Total time- 9:35
Lap times on course- 2:01, 2:25, 2:33, 2:15(approx. 9:15)
Time between loops- 3mins, 13minutes, 5minutes(approx. 20 minutes)
Place- 5th Women
Finish rate-50% women, 66% men
Temperature- -15C(morning) to -5C(mid day)
Nutrition/Hydration- 20 oz.(560 calories) of Vitargo, 20 oz. protein drink(100 calories) 1 block(300 calories) per loop(approx. 800-900 per 2 hour loop)
Snowshoes- Dion 121's
Lodgings- The Swiss Family Inn, Pittsfield, VT
A porta-potty closer to the start finish for those of us who don't like to make yellow snow art along the trail. A woman's tent to change wet clothes in between laps.
Pictures can be found here
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
The race began with a long, wide and rolling straightaway for the first 2km then made an abrupt left turn into the woods for some exciting single track action with lots of steep, short ups and downs including multiple bridge crossings and if you weren't already tired enough there was a good long climb as we made our way back towards to the finish of the 6.5 km lollypop loop course.
Thank-you very much to Derrick Spafford and Sara Montgomery, their family and all of the volunteers who help out every year to put on this and other awesome snowshoe races in the area.
|Cool race swag included these Barefooter shoes which I won|
in a tie breaking Rock, Paper, Scissor contest when
my "Rock" crushed my opponents "Scissors".
These shoes are very cool and I am already addicted to
wearing them around the house instead of slippers.
My 5 Years of Running the Frontenac Snowshoe Race in Pictures
Photos by Evelyn Harding, Sara Montgomery and ScallyEventPhotos.ca
Sunday, October 6, 2013
|At the start with Bathrobe Guy behind me|
|50km Race Start - Of 1250 athletes only 169 were in the 50km|
|In the woods|
As I pulled into Aid Station 1 for the last time to refuel I noticed a gentleman a bit older then myself follow me in. “One more lap for me” I told him, “Me too he replied” and I was off. Funny thing but I suddenly realized that the muscle cramping demons had mysteriously disappeared as fast as they had arrived 6 hours earlier. I was moving freely and felt strong. “Dare I ?” I thought to myself, “Dare I push the last lap of a race distance I have never run before”. The furthest I had ever run was perhaps 28km and as I entered into lap 4 I had already surpassed that mark by10km. Well I went for it. I ran every hill in the early going. Finally I was able to put to use all of hill repeats and hilly tempos I had been running previous to getting sick. I did notice that my foot was hurting me, an old cuboid problem I haven’t felt since hiking the Cataraqui Trail pulling a sled this past winter. But I wasn’t going to let a foot ache slow me down. Heck it was probably the pain from the foot that had in fact caused the cramping to so suddenly stop. I do know that the body has a short attention span and that diversions like sour pickle juice or a pinched lip has been known to stop muscle spasms. I actually tried using that tactic earlier in the race by breaking my salt tab on my tongue every hour hoping for that very effect. But alas I do believe it was the foot that finally did the trick, but how long would it last. Well not that long.
One particular quad, the right one was determined to keep on cramping which forced me to run or walk sideways up every hill but undeterred I kept moving forward, every sideways hill climb carrying me closer to the finish. BTW, that rain I mentioned earlier that was suppose to make the day so wet and miserable, well it finally hit halfway into the last lap. I laughed, I had to laugh, no rain was going to stop me, as long as I didn’t tumble down a slippery hill and hit my head that is. But I didn’t and I rolled through each aid station, hearing my number being called ahead to the finish line as they awaited my arrival and I thought about the guy who I assumed was behind me and how he was making out in the rain. “Last runner heading home”, is what he said, and I crossed the finish line, received my medal, was chided for being DFL from a cantankerous "bathrobe" guy and as I made my way to the drop bag area I fully expected it to be empty and deserted, but it wasn’t. Hey maybe I wasn't DFL after all I thought to myself. Just then Peggy, the race director came to check on the area and I pointed out 4 lonely bags to her to which she replied, “Yep, they're still out there”.
As of now while I write thisI still don’t know when or if the others made it in. I wish I could have stayed to wait for them but it was a long 4 hour drive home alone in the dark and rain with a pair of cranky legs to contend with. I wish I had stayed, they deserved that. So to whoever you are, congratulations on a great race and if you were the one to finish last then CHEERS TO YOU and your well earned title of DFL!!
Lap 1 1:48:05 avg. hb 136 bpm
Lap 2 1:51:13 avg. hb 137 bpm
Lap 3 1:54:26 avg. hb 135 bpm
Lap 4 1:47:50 avg. hb 143 bpm
Of course I have to thank the RDs Peggy and George and all of the great volunteers who encouraged all of us runners and provided everything we could possibly need during the race. Kind words, drinks, food, a good laugh and endless clapping, cheering and cow belling. Also congratulations to all of the winners and finishers of this 12th Annual Run For the Toad event. See you all next year:-)
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Monday, June 17, 2013
|Feeling good just before...|
|...the wheel(left wheel to be exact) fell off:-)|
|Me and my very first sandbag heading out for my final partial lap.|
So to summarize what I had written-
I went out "TOO FAST", well actually, "NOT SLOW ENOUGH". I learned there is a difference. Even though I had topped out with a 4 hour long run a few weeks before the race, I had been keeping my heart rate below 140bpm in training and in turn that meant usually walking the longer hills. I figured that because this was a flat course it would be faster and therefore I should be faster and hoped I would be able to get away with a bit higher heartbeat of 145ish for the duration. Wrong!! I think the one thing I failed to realize was that I had been walking during training so I had never really run more then 2hrs. non-stop and with the addition of the faster pace, higher hr and 100% pavement it was all too much for my left quad. I know it was my A-goal of reaching the 50km mark that drove me to blindly go where I had never been before but I found that I just couldn't let go of the idea of hitting that mark until it was too late.
My left quad started to pull on my knee cap after 2 hours and try as I might I eventually had to walk the remaining time. I could walk without pain but could not run but a few steps which was the most frustrating part as the rest of me wanted to run but we were being held back my one little party pooper:-(
I ran approx. the same distance in the first 2:15 hours that I walked in the last 3:45. I was at 19km at 2:15 hrs. and walked just over 18 km after that. I wasn't exactly power walking either, more like I was out for a nice brisk stroll. In the end I was not only the slowest runner but the walkers were passing me too. That is when I really began to appreciate just what great athletes all of these people were.
I learned that ultra runners are the most seasoned runners that I have ever come across anywhere. Most have run more ultras then I've run 5kms and some have run 10xs more and for some that is just this year. I bow to the endless hours and countless miles in their collective rock solid muscled legs:-)
I have recovered very well. I haven't run yet but the left quad was the only sore spot and then only going down stairs the next few days after. I'm going for my first run since the race tonight,(Monday 17th) wish me luck!
I would like to add that this event was organized and run to perfection by Hladini Wilson and a big thanks to her and all of the lap counting volunteers who were very encouraging including one particular French gentleman who spent the entire day trying to learn to pronounce my name with his thick accent. I had my own food and water so didn't sample the buffet but there was always something on the table for everyone(including my daughter to my dismay) throughout the day. The other runners were also very friendly and supportive and I highly recommend putting this event on your race card if you ever want to try this type of event in the future. The views of the lake were breathtaking and ever changing with the sail boaters and kayakers out enjoying the day as the racers winded their way around the point of the Royal Military College grounds and weaved in and out of the historic walls of Fort Frederick.
I also want to thank my crew of my daughter Rhiannon and my Mom Jane for being there for me for the 6 hours and managing my water, food, clothes and spirit. It turned out to be a cool, dampish windy day for the spectators although for the runners it was pretty perfect weather as long as you were able to keep up a good pace. I unfortunately was not, so I had to don my wind pants and another shirt to keep me warm in the latter stages of the race. Funny story but when I finally decided to get some warm clothes on I headed for my crew and there was my Mom, warm(and asleep) in the car, but who could blame her:-) Another cute story about my daughter has her seeing me slow down and beginning to walk when my knee started barking. Well this was embarrassing her and she called to me, "Don't walk Mom, RUN". So I'd start running again and this happened a few times. Then as the day progressed and I had been walking for a few hours and my crew had come to realize how sore my knee was but every now and again I would try to run and I'd hear a voice call to me, "Don't run Mom, WALK":-)
Lastly, MUCH thanks to my coach Derrick Spafford for preparing me for this race and every race before this and ultimately every other race/adventure I take on after this if he's still coaching me or not. If I had only listened to his(your) warning to keep my hr down around 135, I know I would have been able to run much longer. I was also surprised to see him(you) and Sara around the 4 hour mark of the race. I had already been walking for what seemed like weeks(2hours) and I knew I had some explaining to do. Thanks to Sara for taking some pictures to commemorate the event. When I saw her(you) taking my picture it kinda felt like I was at some kind of Ultra graduation and they(you) were my proud Ultra parents...which believe me was weird:-P But really, they(you) have both been there from the beginning of my running career and I know they(you) understand better then anyone what that race was about and that it was only one of many more ultras that await me in my future.
Onward and upward:-)
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
and that road is ahead of you,
always ahead of you."
|A runner at the 2012 Sri Chinmoy 6hr. Race with a view across |
Lake Ontario of Kingston's Historic City Hall.
(all pictures courtesy of the race's official gallery)
The Kingston Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 6-Hour Race is run on an 880-metre paved loop along Lake Ontario and around the walls of Fort Frederick and the Royal Military College in historic Kingston, Ontario. I am really not sure why I was drawn to this race as my next challenge following my hike of The Cataraqui Trail, or the "CT" as it known amongst us hikers:) The race has been around since 1996 although very few people I know are aware of it, including, most "running people" I know.
|The official lap counters from the 2012 edition of the race.|
|Runners on part of the 880 metre winding path.|
|A runner with the "Leader Board" in the background.|
Perhaps one reason I am drawn to this event and am not as dismissive of it as others appear to be, is that I don't feel that I am any certain "kind" of runner. I don't feel affiliated with, or a lack of affiliation to, any particular type of racing be it road or trail, short or long. I guess I haven't been at any of them long enough to have tired of one over the other. The one thing about running on a looped course and is perhaps why these events are run in this manner is that I assume it becomes less about the "place" you are running in the longer you are at it.
|Participants of the 2012 edition of the |
Sri Chinmoy Self-transcendence 6-hour Race