Sunday, September 12, 2010

Haliburton 50 Mile Trail Race

Did my first 50 Mile Ultra today. This isn't the first time I have covered the distance. Last August at the Dirty Girls 24 Hour I did it in around 13 hours. I have been having some issues with my left Knee lately. Within a km I experience a sharp pain , if I keep running it goes away. Running steep downhills has also been causing me pain , if I go easy I am OK but I can't open it up. So my objective was to not blow out my Knee and to finish somewhere between 10 and 12 hours.

I traveled to Hali the night before the race arriving around 10:30pm. Had a quick beer and snack then settled into my sleeping bag in the back of my Durango. With the exception of 100's of Wolves howling sometime around 1am I slept pretty good waking when my alarm went off at 04:30 am. It was a cold morning so I dressed in a couple of layers before I got out of my sleeping bag. Tim's Coffee ( from a Thermos) , OJ , Yogurt and an Oatmeal to go made for a great breakfast. Race Kit pickup, prep and before I knew it the race was minutes away from starting.

Arrived at the start a few minutes before 6:00 am and then we were off! Less then a K in my left knee complained loudly. I limped through the pain and it passed like it always does. It was a pretty dark morning and the road was a little tough to see so I stayed near to folks running with a light and was OK. It was 6K at a 6:00 pace before we hit the first trail, heading into the forest the visibility wasn't great , just OK. Running the Normac loop was OK , was able to run down the hills but I was always breaking being cautious not to aggravate my Knee. When ever I opened up a bit on the downhills there was the occasional pain that said slow down. After 10K passed I got into a pretty good rhythm that would carry me to the 40K turnaround. I continued to be cautious but was running better on the downhills and felt like I was flying through Ben's Trail. There was a few muddy spots on Ben's but when we made it to Christa's Trail it very mucky. There were some busy Beavers over the Summer and they managed to Dam up a lake so the overflow followed out trail , we were running down the middle of a stream... no choice! Passed the 50K turnaround feeling pretty good but I had no idea what lied ahead for the next 15K. After a couple of Ks of a wet corduroy road there was a little gift from the running gods. There was a few Ks of a road that didn't have much in the way of elevation. After the road stretch it was back into the woods but the trail remained pretty runnable with a couple of big ups and downs. It was until a couple of Ks short of the 40K turnaround that the trail got a little nasty again. There was an aide station at what I thought was the turnaround but we had to keep going another half K or so past on a gravel road. Reaching the half way point I realized that I hadn't been consuming enough fluids so I really started to drink lots. At the previous stop I grabbed a bottle of water and the most wonderful Beef Burrito that I have ever ate but I ran out of water before the aide station at the turnaround. All the extra braking to prevent a knee blowout was really taking a toll on my legs. I was no longer able to run downhills, my uphill pace was faster! I was still able to run on the flat and inclines but I never ran down anything other then a 1-3 degree grade the rest of the day. My objective changes from a specific time to just finishing the race, third time this has happened to me in an Ultra this year. Around 45K I was back on the gravel stretch again and was getting rather tired of everyone passing me. Chatted and kept up to Stephan and was telling him my story. He offered me some Advil , I declined and then he commented that I wasn't limping, I took some comfort in that statement. The entire was back I continued to eat and drink as much as possible. I never was able to run downhill and I cursed every time I face a delcine. I have never swore so much at a course but it seemed like all I was doing was going up and down ... nothing was flat , very little anyway! Watching the Garmin I thought I had a chance at getting it in under 12 hours. 9hours 25min into the race with 15K to go the Garmin "low battery" indication was on. I powered off the Garmin so I could save the battery to check the time now and again and started doing the math. Running without knowing where I was made me focus on getting to Normac loop .... only a few Ks and I would be there! Heading into the Normac loop there was 12K to go. It seemed like I was the only one running the loop. It looked starkly different then the first time through . It was forever before I came across another runner and the guy was going the opposite way. "Oh no ", I thought I was going the wrong was but I asked and the fellow told be that on the way out you go one way , on the way back you go the other .... that's why I was seeing Blue blazes that I wasn't the first time. I saw 2 more 24 hour guys heading out on the loop and asked both if I was going the right way. Finally believing that I was on course I relaxed although I was still swearing at all the downhills. Coming out of the forest onto a gravel road I expected to be closer to the aide station I had just passed. Going into the loop I was told "go to the flashing light turn right run the loop go past X aide station then return here". OK I was confused standing on the road thinking I have to go the opposite way the flags were pointing... peered down the road remembering in the instructions only to have a moment of clarity and followed the flags to the "first aid station". Here they told me 6K to go and that I would be returning to the previous aide station then 2K to the finish. Fired up the GArmin and it was 4:55 pm. 6K , 65 minutes .... I CAN DO IT!!!!!!! So off I went , 4K of gravel to the next aide station! I was breathing pretty heavy but was running most of the way. I gelled on the Normac loop but it didn't tweak me event slightly...I was done! Glad to be at the 2nd Aide station I asked for the time but was confused and didn't really comprehend much but I knew I had to keep moving to finish under 12 hours. Checked the Garmin a couple of more times just to make sure and I managed to cross the line in 11hrs47min.

So , mission accomplished! Didn't blow out the knee and it feels fine 24 hours later. I also was within my goal time of 10 - 12 hours. I really believe that I can run this much close to the 10 hour mark if things were different. I have been contemplating doing the 100 miler but the way I was feeling when I was done it seems a little unfathomable. But then I thought that after 120km at the DG , heck I could do it...healthy of course!

Garmin Data ...until it died!

And my shoes ...

...and socks!


Doonst said...

Excellent stuff Westy! You made it work, all the way. That was a tough course.

HollyV said...

well done!! glad to hear that the knee held out (time for some rehab now??). The uncertainty of the course would stress me out... sounds like you got it right though!

Anne said...

Tough day eh. Go see Jill plantz in walkerton.Chiropractor. Really like her approuch to rehab, and her expectations of runners is low. Ie. She knows we will not stop but will work with what we are willing to do.

JD said...

Excellent race. No worries, the 100 is waiting for you next year!

Garmin products are designed to frustrate ultra runners. The 305 does quite last long enough for a 50, and the 310 not quite enough for a 100 miler.

chris mcpeake said...

Congrats on your first 50 miler Ron.
Very tough course this year with all the mud holes.

Jack Kelly said...

Hi Ron,really enjoyed your story on your Haliburton 50 miler. I'm from Dartmouth, NS and seriously contemplating on entering the Haliburton 50 miler in Sept.10/11. Glad I read your story as it's inspiration. Anymore to tell about the terrain. Sounds like there's too, too many down hills. Is this so ?

Jack Kelly