Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekly Summary Feb 20 - Feb 26

So that was a crappy start to my SS100 training. Monday and Tuesday went well. Tuesday evening I went back to the Doctor and was told to STOP all exercising as I was on the verge of pneumonia and unless I STOPPED everything I was going to get worse, not better. I do not remember that last time I did not run or do any form of exercise for 5 days, but that is what this week was about. I hated it but it was the right thing to do, no question. I have not been this sick for so long and I needed to get better. I am on the fence to be honest as to whether I will be able to run SS100 at this point. I don't know if I will be better by next week to kick back up to full speed training; just taking it one day at a time for now.

Mon: AM - 45min easy
Tues: AM - 45min easy. PM - 30min treadmill in minimal shoes
Wed: Sick - Feel like I am near death
Thu: Starting the slow crawl from the abyss
Fri: Made it to work for 1/2 day
Sat: Double naps
Sun: PM - 20min run/walk - that was enough. more napping.

This week's focus is to get "Un-Sick" and then we will re-access next week.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

SS100 T-14 Weeks

So SS100 training started yesterday. I guess in reality it started back in Aug '03 when I went for my first run (in years) but we'll count yesterday as the starting point.

I am feeling pretty confident about getting through the training. I believe, physically I am in at a good point to handle the additional load, and mentally I am ready. 14 weeks isn't that long (some Marathon programs are 16 weeks) so I hope I can suck it up.

Things of note:

I am still sick (well actually we all are). 3.5 weeks and counting. I went to the Dr. last week and started antibiotics and I thought they were working, but Sunday afternoon the scratchy throat returned and I feel I am back where I was a week ago. Kim and Justine seem to be in the same boat, it is just going to take time. Back to the Dr. at 5:30 tonight.

I am giving up my Orthotics. It has been a long time coming and it seems like the right time. The only issue I am having is a flare of my Morton's Neuroma on my right foot. I am using a very shaved down orthotic with a beefed up Met pad on my trail runs which is helping significantly. Add to that exercises and stretches my physiotherapist has given me I anticipate being able to dump them completely in the next couple of months.

Diet? Yeah hot topic there. Hoping to loose about 7-8lbs in the coming weeks and get down to 145lbs (65.9kg). If I cut back on Hershey Kisses, peanut M&M', Cookies, Rolo Ice Cream and a little drinking it should be easy to loose the weight. I'll add that to my weekly summaries so I am a little more accountable.

So forward, lots to read and think about and I'll loads on time on the trails to do the thinking and recovery time to do the reading.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sulphur Spring 100miler

So I have talked about this for a while and finally after discussions with Coach Derrick and my family, yesterday I registered for my first 100 mile race. I am trying not to think of it as 100 miles, but 8x20km loops. Last year I ran the 50mile at Sulphur and really enjoyed the course and it seemed like the perfect fit for my quest for my first Belt Buckle.

Derrick had given me one more week of recovery, and to get rid of this everlasting cold before we kick off training. I am nervous of what is in front of me and know I will need to focus more, and put more effort into recovery than I ever have before. There are only 14 weeks between now and then so anything I can do to prevent injuries and be ready for the next workout will be monumental.

I plan to resurrect my weekly training updates so I can log the craziness, so stand by.

One other note, part of the reason for registering yesterday, Valentine's Day, was it had been 13 years since my Father passed away. I haven't really thought of him when it came to races, as it was after he died that I took up this obsession. Still yesterday, while thinking of him, I got the courage to register - so this will be run in his memory.

Friday, February 10, 2012

YAU Marathon 2012 – Race Report

Ever since my failed (cancelled) attempt at Rock & Ice, I have been yearning to participate in some form of arctic race. I have been fascinated by the ruggedness of running in such conditions and have been looking forward to training and racing in the great north. Back in October when Kim was unfortunately diagnosed with pleurisy, we were forced to cancel a planned trip to NYC in November and we needed to re-book our flights or lose the AirMiles. Well, one thing led to another and before I knew what happened we had changed to fly to Whitehorse so that I could take part in the Yukon Arctic Ultra Marathon. The marathon was being run as part of the 100mile & 300mile race event, and as I told people who thought me crazy, I was one of the sanest racers.

After the JFK50 in November, I pretty well took the rest of the year off training. I still ran almost as frequently, but only to burn off the Mexican Beer and the Christmas treats. January saw me ramping up my mileage again, as well as trying to get out whenever it was cold to acclimatize and test gear. The marathon was totally self-supported so I tried to train by practicing real racing experience with both food and water. My endurance seemed to bounce back fine, but my speed was just not coming back. Truly I wasn’t too worried as I couldn’t imagine this being a hard foot race (wrong, I was).

The other draw for this race was that Derrick Spafford (Coach and Friend) was running the 100mile. I was looking forward to being able to spend some brief time with Derrick before and after the race, provide any support I could and also learn from him as I hope to be able to return and run the same 100mile race in a couple of years.

About 10 days before the race, and just as I started my taper I started getting the dreaded scratchy throat, and Kim was getting it too. Taper Flu? I was hoping was all it was and it would be well and gone come race day. Wrong! No matter what we did, pills we took, nothing was shaking the cold, cough and flu systems we both were feeling. Oh well we said as we headed to Whitehorse on the Thursday, it will be better in the next two days after a little R&R. That never happened.

We arrived in Whitehorse early Thursday afternoon, dropped off our bags at the Hotel and headed out to explore the city.

It really doesn’t take long to explore Whitehorse. End-to-end is likely a 20min walk so within 5 minutes we were in the city centre. We stopped in at Costal Mountain Sports to see if there were any last minute items we “needed” and at Shopper’s to pick up snacks, water, and more cold medication (yeah this stuff will get rid of it for sure). We met Derrick for a quick dinner and a couple of long overdue beers and headed for bed.

Friday morning, we woke up feeling no better (okay THAT stuff didn’t get rid of the cold either). I attended the trail briefing and then Kim and I went for a short shake out run. I had been training and planning on racing in temperatures around -15C or colder and when we headed out we were greeted with +3C and showers. We ran the trail to the start and the snow was soft, mushy and wet, far from ideal – this was not looking good. Returning from that short jog, I was exhausted. My energy levels were way down and I was starting to doubt that I would be able to complete the Marathon. We spent the rest of the day with our feet up, napping and taking it easy. We attended the pre-race dinner which was very good, and then called it a night.

With the later morning sunrise in Whitehorse, and allowing the longer distance racers time to prep their gear, the race didn’t start until 10:30 in the morning. This allowed for a relaxed pre-race which I desperately needed. My night had not gone well, a number of times I woke up feeling very feverish and nauseous and for the first time ever was having serious doubts about my ability to complete the race. I was having the same “scared” feeling I had when trying scuba diving for the first time, and to be honest I was terrified. But as with anything it was just time to suck it up. The worst that could happen is I would be walking back after 10km and if I didn’t try I’d regret it forever. Onward!

We met Derrick and his stealthy pulk in the lobby and walked the 15min to the start line together.

We did a group picture, all got in line, brief countdown and we were off.

The weather at this point was perfect for a winter race, not the stupid cold I had been hoping for, but a nice -5C, sunny and light southerly breeze. With the drop in temperature the trail had frozen somewhat and was no longer the mush we had run on the previous day.

The course for the marathon is pretty straight forward. Run up the Yukon River, hang a left a the Takhini River, run up that until the turnoff for CP1, run a short out and back from CP1 and you’re done. I lined up and started at the front of the racers, hoping I would be faster than those pulling pulks, and from the start I was in the lead.

Sick but still competitive, I figured it didn’t hurt to see who was serious about this race. I wouldn’t say I started out fast, just at a nice steady pace. I was pretty well by myself for the first km, but I soon heard the foot falls of another runner. So I wouldn’t be alone. I had a brief chat with Johann but soon found talking and running was just too difficult and we just ran along in silence taking turns in the lead. I was feeling him out to see if he was serious or just being too aggressive but after 17km and almost 1:30 he was still hanging on running strong. It was here that I had to make the decision, I knew on a good day I could keep up this effort, but being sick and my low energy levels, and the fact that every time I tried to eat or drink, and still another 24km to go, it was best I let Johann go and hope that he would hit a wall and I could catch him. So, just before the turn on to the Takhini, I pulled up for a quick nutrition break and let him go. From here, I was running on my own, as it turned out until the finish. I finally took the time to enjoy where I was and what I was doing. Racing up a river in the Yukon, surrounded by tree lined cliffs and mountains off in the distance. It was peaceful and beautiful and the real reason I wanted to be here. I hit the ½ way at about 1:50 and thinking that there is no way I could run an even split race, I figured that a 3:45 marathon was quite achievable.

For the next 1:15 , it was just me and the river enjoying the day, but feeling tired and out of breath every time I ate or drank – damn cold. Just before the 34km mark (on my GPS), the course turned off the river (through some of the THE worst sugar snow I have ever tried to run through) and up the river bank towards CP1. Eh? I thought I still had 8km to run. Coming on to the road leading to the CP, I passed a girl who said “almost finished”. Me “The Marathon? Really?” Her “Yes, just to the top of the hill and back”. I was confused.

As I arrived at the CP, Robert the race director started running beside me re-iterating what I am been told. “How far to the turn?” I asked. “About 1.5km” he tells me. Okay so off I go up the hill. So, as it turned out, it was just almost 2km to the turn, and it was uphill all the way. It was a nice treat after running the flat river path for so long. I passed Johann as he was returning, looking strong and happy – he ran a good race. Hit the turn (a painted line across the road) and headed for the finish – all downhill from here. Hit the finish in 3:23, but unfortunately only 38km on my GPS.

Shortly after I finished, Kim arrived (she had rented a car and had her own adventure getting there) – we chatted and waited for Derrick to come in.

It wasn’t long till he arrived looking strong and happy – we did what we could to help and then sent him on his way

before heading back to Whitehorse.

Sunday we spent anxiously waiting for updates on Derrick’s race, and then finally waiting for his return to the hotel. We enjoyed long overdue Pizza and Guinness with him hearing his tales and celebrating his amazing race. Monday our adventure was over, and it was time to say good-bye to the wonderful folks of Whitehorse and Robert and all his amazing volunteers.

This was not the race I had hoped it would be on a number of levels, but it was huge in that is gave me the experience of the YAU and great knowledge of the process and what the first 50km of the 100miler is like. It scares me to think of going back for the 100mile, but there is a draw to the beauty of the Yukon wilderness that will be hard to shake. I will be starting construction of my first Pulk soon and hope to get a couple of runs with it before the end of the season. And thank you to my wonderful wife for sharing my adventures and supporting me all the way.

More picture on our Zenfolio site here