The Goal: 12 buckles in 12 months in 2012 - to celebrate the milestone of my 50th year!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Buckle No. 6 - Mohican 100

Well as I sit here and moan about how much my feet hurt after Burning River this past weekend I figure I better update the few of you who bug me about updating my blog and once again this month, try to get caught up.
Mohican started out great for me, it was the first time one of my three children decided to attend with me and for that reason alone, this will be one of my favorite races. It was fantastic to have Samantha there and it's pretty tough to explain how good a feeling that was, I surely hope it will happen again, it was great.
Ok, the race began with Ken, Samantha and I leaving early Friday morning and making our way to just south of Cleveland Ohio, we met Marylou Corino there and after race check and setting up our canopy and lawn chairs for tomorrow's race we enjoyed a good pre-race meal at the site then we ventured out to find our motel.
We wound our way down a small country road to find the Mohican Inn was a small rather rustic spot hidden from the thick trees and winding road. Our host was Candy and she greated us with a smile and an invitation to a bond fire later in the evening. It would have been nice but getting ready for the 6:00 am race start and getting some sleep was a bit more important. Our room was big and offered lots of room for all of us, it didn't take long we were sound asleep.
Saturday morning we were up early and the typical race day traffic was pretty busy. Our race site set up was right beside the start finish line and after sign in we had a few minutes to sit down and collect ourselves before the start. Ken Moon, Marylou Corino and I were doing the hundred miler and a few other noteables were there to do the 50 miler.
From what I gather from some of the folks that have done the race before, the day was going to be long and hot. The race director was asked whay type of hills they have in Ohio, he answered "never ending". Of course I had no idea what the heck that meant but it wouldn't be long before I'd get a first hand, real life explanation of what exactly it was he was talking about. The course went up and down, and reminded me of the shampoo bottle....rince and repeat, over and over again.
It had been a few races since I had a written goal time and from there broken that down into 25 mile incriments so I thought this was a good strategy to return to at Mohican. My plan was pretty simple, get the first 50 miles done in or around 9 hours and 30 minutes and then just hang on with my pacers for the final 50 miles....how hard could it be right?
Well, 12 hours and 30 minutes of shear pain and agony had passed and I was ready to sit down under the canopy we had set up at the start finish and drink every beer in the cooler and just make the whole day go away. Hell, I'd have 2 weeks left in the month to find another 100 miler, rest up a bit and do this again. It didn't sound like a bad plan from the ninth hour till the twelfth hour. Have I mentioned yet that Jodi and Maryka were kind enough to drive from Toronto to Ohio to pace me for the final 25 miles. An 8 hour drive, surely they wouldn't mind if I packed it in before they had a chance to even run a step or two, 8 hours, two maybe three full tanks of gas, they'll be fine. I'm done here!!!!
Ok, I came through the gate, tired, frustrated I was only 3 hours behind my goal time and Maryka had a big smile and couldn't wait to get going, OH GREAT, you've got to be kidding me right? I changed my shoes, had some food and drink (not the beer I was counting on however), and off we went, 25 more miles of never ending hills, complaining and just plain not being happy at all. I'm not sure how long tis look loop took but I remember the sun was shining when we left and it was very dark when we got back.
The next loop Jodi was ready to go when we got back, damn it, not another loop? I just wanted to crawl into a sleeping bag that was unrolled on the ground, zip it up and hide from the world. Samantha had indicated I was more than 90 minutes behind Marylou and Ken and I knew there wasn't a chance with the way I was feeling that I would cateh either of them on this day. Boy was I wrong and surpised. Jodi and I walked for the most part, telling silly jokes and finding any method possible to forget how tired I was, how much I was hurting from the elevation and heat. As we marched on through the course the walking breaks got longer and the ability to run got shorter, I can't remember a 100 miler hurting more than this one. Not only was it going to hurt more, it was going to take me longer than any hundred I've ever done, 2 hours more than my very first one too, that was 4 years ago.
As the night went on the temperature dropped by I was unable to shake the fact of how much time it was going to take, how long I was going to have to be on my foot, my goal time before I got there was sub 24 hours. I was looking at 28 hours plus if everything went well the rest of the way, somehow that seemed very  unrealistic. One thing did kind of lift my spirits however. About 2:00 am and somewhere around mile 75 Jodi was walking about 20 metres ahead of me and she stopped and I thought she was talking with someone, there was no one else around, I was hallucinating, great, that's all I need right about now. Well after covering the 20 metres she was ahead of me, I almost stepped on what she was talking too. Ken was lying on a shallow bed of pine bows and needles, he had decided to lay down and take a sleep until we caught up to him. I smiled, looked down and said "Ken, is that you? Are you ok?" He looked up at me and said "Yeah, I'm fine, I knew you wouldn't walk by and not wake me up, let's get going".
So I caught Ken, now I'm ready, lets chance down Marylou!
Ok, reality check, I was walking, Marylou was no where in site, it was a good idea for a minute or two but what the heck was I thinking?
Jodi continued to entertain us the remainder of the way, the sun came up and as usual provided a small amount of energy for a short period of time but we made it to the finish line without any serious injury or issues and my time was 28:29:01, of course Ken and I finished together and his time was 28:29:00, I still haven't beaten him in a 100 miler. Oh well, I'll keep trying.
It was time to pack up and head home. Samantha had gotten a little bit of sleep and said she was ready and ok to drive a bit. A quick stop at McDonalds for post race food and we were off. Eight or nine short but painful hours later Samantha had driven Ken and I all the way home, what a great kid, I might be one of the luckiest Dad's in the whole wide world. Thank you Sammy Doodle, Daddy loves you.
Buckle no. 6, safely back in my desk drawer, no one can take it away from me and now I get to start counting down, 6 done, 6 to go.
Up next, Burning River, Cleveland Ohio. I'm going to train harder, work smarter, eat better, this isn't goingn to happen to me again.....I promise.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Buckle No. 5 - Sulphur Springs 100 Miler

Once again, to little to late, I have no idea on how to get better at sitting down and writing this stuff. There has to be a better way. Any feedback or suggestions are always welcome and appreciated.

Sulphur Springs started out as a race I was really looking forward to. It was the second hundred miler this year that I had done in the past and had a comfort level knowing the terrain, the style of the race, most of the people involved and thanks to facebook, I was looking forward to meeting some of the new Ultra friends I had met at my first Ontario race.

As usual my boss was nice enough to grant me the day off before the race. This has become something of a tradition to help me organize, pack and of course, leave my food container either on the steps or the front porch. Good thing I've built in time to go back and get stuff.

Friday morning came and went pretty well, I was packed up Thursday night, all the laundry was done, clothes pretty much packed and my excel spreadsheet check list was printed and sitting on the kitchen table, full of notes, check marks and items still to pack clearly identified. Thanks to Michelle, the check list is getting a bit more detailed every race and I continue to add stuff to it in hopes of making each of these trips just that much easier. I know that so far this hasn't always been the case but I'm a work in progress so have a little patience with me here will yeah?

I am happy to say that I purhased a new table at Canadian Tire before Sulphur this year and without sounding like a marketing "tool" I think the table / storage container will certainly aid in my ability to not forget stuff in the future (ok so i'm being a bit of an optimist). It's a good plan :)

Back to the race, preparation and other important stuff.

I decided on Thursday that maybe a pacer would be a good idea. Instead of leaving the laundry and food to the last minute I thought this was a small detail I have overlooked to date. Thankfully a quick email on the Yahoo user group and I was lucky enough to get a responce from two members of the Burlington Runners Club and both offered to help for one loop each. I knew going into the event that I would be running with Lisa Van Wolde for the first four loops and now with the help of two pacers this meant the loops 5 and 6 would be spent by myelf and loop 7 and 8 would be covered with some new Ultra buddies. I'd like to say a very special thank you to Vikki Baylis and Eric Cameron (some of you may know Eric as the ITT race director). You both made the last two loops much easier and way more fun than being alone, thank you both very much for your time, your patience and listening to my very bad stories.

We arrived at the race site late Friday afternoon, just after the polite police officer let us into the parking lot of the event, then we set up our tent next door to Catherine Harding and just up the street from our good buddy Pat Cambell. Of course Patty's weekend estate is much bigger than mine :). The dinner this year was really good and we got all of our pre-race information, bids and it was time to head back to the motel for a beer, some pretzels and good sleep.

Race morning I felt pretty good and ready to go, I felt the limited training I had done since Pottawatomi might be a bit of a concern and my only worry was that the blisters and new skin on the bottom of my feet would hold up long enough to get the race under my belt. This would turn out to be a bit bigger problem than I may have anticpated.

My strategy was to keep up with Lisa for the first 50 miles (4 loops). This would serve two purposes, the first it would push me a bit to get the first have done in or around 9:15 and secondly, it would ensure Lisa didn't go out to fast and not have any gas left for her second 50. Well at 50 miles we were pretty much on schedule, we had made the time goal and Lisa was feeling pretty fresh as she started her second half of the race. For me however it was a bit of a different story. I had developed some hot spots on the bottom of both of my feet and I knew it was only a matter of time before I would be struggling with blisters again.

Loop no. 5 statted in the heat of the day and I decided I was going to walk in any parts of the course that where in the sun and I would run only the well shaded sections. As the loop progressed it turned out to be more of a walking hike than a trail run and true to form the blisters were back and seemed to hurt more than ever. With the lack of rain in the area over the last month or so, the course seemed very had to me, the clay surfaces were hot, hard and seemed to be taking their toll on the bottom's of my feet.

Did I fail to mention I didn't forget my food at home this time? Pretty good eh?

Loop 6 meant a sock and shoe change, some pizza, salt, advil and off to get my last loop alone done. My sixth loop started around 6:00 pm if memory serves me correctly and the heat of the day had gone so I decided I would run a bit more on this loop than the previous loop. Good plan until about 5 kms in, after that, back to the old strategy, just walk and then you can run much more on the next loop.

Loop 7 and 8 I was lucky enough to have Vikki and Eric along for the walk and jog. Their trail knowledge is first rate and was a big difference over last years race without a pacer. I went into the event looking to be under 21 hours however with only three weeks of rest between Potti and Sulphur it wasn't the first goal and starting loop 7 about 30 minutes behind schedule it was tough for me to dig in and make up some time, especially with really sore and tired feet. By this point the blisters and sore toes made any sustained running out of the question. Both Vikki and Eric did a great job getting me to run in certain sections however I think they both knew my tank was vertually on empty and I was so glad they didn't push to hard. I've only paced once before but you could tell both of these great runners knew exactly how to handle me, I learned a lot from both of them and I'm very grateful for their efforts and ongoing support.

Loop 8 of Sulphur Springs ended at 3:32 am, 22:32:48. Not quite the goal time I had established going into the day but still over an hour quicker than my time from last year. I still managed to finish 21st overall and got to see some fantastic people on the course and I have some fantastic memories of Sulphur Springs 2012. The first that comes to mind is seeing Stephen Parke pass me on the final loop, it was so good to see Steven looking so strong and altough I was way to far behind to see him cross the finish line I could hear the cheers for him as he completed his first 100 miler. Way to Go Stephen, great job. One of the other things that I always enjoy and will remember for a very long time is seeing Monica Sholtz at Sulpur and she didn't dissapoint this year. On my 7th loop I was coming up the last of the three sisters and with an upset stomach and feeling very tired Monica was at the top of the hill, like the great athlete and person she is she must have known I was in some trouble. She walked down the hill to meet me, asked me what was wrong and offered up mints and ginger ale. The combination of having the mints, ginger ale and getting aid from Monica made my day. In what other sport can you say that one of the all time greats has been out on the course to help you out and show geniune concern for your well being. Monica, you may not know who I am but will always remember who you are, thank you very much.

Of course Lisa Van Wolde finished the race strong and one good leg and one injured leg, never the less, she is a tower of strength and an inpsiration. She made the first four loops so much fun that they passed as quickly as possible, thanks Lisa.

And last but never least, Michelle did another great job of being an amazing crew member. Always there when I needed her too, changing shoes, filling water bottles, telling me I look great, being a solid liar when she needs to be :) and just being there to support me, take care of me and listen to the never ending bitching, whining and complaining while the whole time biting her lip and not telling me how much of a baby I am being. Thanks Mich, as you know, there is no way I do any of this without your unending support, strength and dedication to my goal. I owe you large !

Ok, I think that is it for now folks. As always your thoughts and comments are welcome and appreciated.

Scott Garrett
12 buckles, 1 goal.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Buckle No. 4 - Potawatomi 100 Miler

Good evening to everyone. I know it is very long overdue and thank you to all of you who have tried to keep me accountable to keep this more up to date. On my to do list is certainly an effort to be better at sitting here and getting my race reports to you much quicker.
My goal tonight is to get all the events from Potti and Sulphur here in my blog. Thanks for your patience

So back a month to Potawatomi (pronounced " I Want My Mommy"):
So the weekend started out much like the weekend of New Jersey. I met up with Catherine Harding and Lisa Van Wolde at Catherines house. I had just purchased a rack for the rear of my car and after an hour of assembly on the front yard it was time to pack the car and the new rack and start the road trip to Illinois. So lets double check, luggage, check, shoes, check, sleeping bag, check. Good to go!

We pull away and luckily Catherine looks back on her front porch and you'll never guess what is on the concrete stoop....................YEP, my box of food. What the heck is up with that container? For the second time in as many races I almost forgot it. Thanks to Cath for noticing, well, laugh no. 1 and the road trip isn't even a block old.

The drive was about 12 or 13 hours and we had already decided to split the trip into two days. The first day was from Barrie to Kalamazoo and then the last five or six hours Friday morning. We made it to Kalamazoo Thursday night around 10:00 at night and it wasn't long before the three of us had a beer and were off to sleep. The next day we were up early and on the road after a good breakfast at the hotel.

We arrived at the race site shortly after 1:00 pm and got a chance to check out the race site and just in time to hook up with Ken Moon and Mary Lou who was out on the course already in quest of her first 150 miler. The weather was good and it looked like the weather reports of rain and thunderstorms was a long way off.

After heading over to the local airport and picking up Michelle, my crew was complete and it was time to check into the hotel and get to theApplebees for a good pre-race meal and a good nights sleep.

4:30 am, a good night sleep and Lisa and I started to get ready for our 100 miler.  We had a bit of breakfast at the hotel and arrived at the race site around 5:30. I felt really good and was happy we split the drive into two days as I was rested and ready to go. The sky was clear and no rain in site.......oops, spoke to soon.

The race started and Lisa and I had a plan and a time for each of the loops. My goal was to stay with Lisa for the first 50 miles. We finished the first loop and we were pretty much on time. The pace felt fast for me but I figured it was just because it was the first loop and I was a bit stiff. Did I mention that between New Jersey and Pottawatomi was 3 weeks and a total of 21 training miles. Yep, 21 miles in three weeks leading up to the hardest 100 miler of the year to date. Am I freakin' crazy?

Well loop no. 2 started out similar to number 1. Trying to keep up to Lisa on technical single track, 13 or 14 hills that make Creemore look welcoming. Then rain, no, not rain, thunderstorms. Straight down, hard driving rain. Great, just what I needed, hills, mud and then some more mud and trying to keep up to Lisa. It was pretty clear that I was holding her back and the intense training plan that I had in the weeks leading up to Potti wasn't helping either of us right now. Luckily Lisa was very patient with me and time and time again she would stop and wait for me, if I could have just convinced her to help me up the muddy hills and down the slippery slopes.

The rain stopped in the middle of the third loop but the damage was done. The mud was two or three inches deep in the valley areas and the creek crossing on the first loop became a welcome site on loop two through loop no. 10 as it provided a good opputunity to wash the mud off of my shoes and socks. What was a quick step and long jump on loop one became a slow crossing to wash off mud and cool down the feet.

On loop no. 3 I started to get hot spots on both of my feet and my sock my left foot started to roll under my toes, by the time I got back to the start finish I could feel the blister already well under way on the ball of my left foot. I had to stop and change my shoes and socks. I knew my feet would be wet again real soon but with the sock rolling under my toes the blisters would only get worse. I sat at our start finish area and changed. Hoping the short rest would deliver some new energy to keep up to Lisa and reduce the pain in my left foot. The first five minutes out of the aid station didn't go so well. My feet hurt and as it turned out I was holding Lisa back. She went on ahead and I was on my own. Somewhat bitter sweet knowing I was about to do the last 35 miles on my own until I got to 70 miles when Catherine was going to pace me.

The wet course, 16,600 feet of elevation gain and loss, sore feet, 21 miles of training in the last three weeks certainly were teaching me a lesson and a lesson the hard way.

The next three loops went by without much memory of how they went, I got into a zone and ran when I could and walked when I had to. The thing I found about this type of course was that at not time outside of the first mile could you get into a rhythm, there were no sections a mile long that you could pick up the pace or set into a comfortable pace. I could run for a minute then climb a big hill, catch my breath and then down a slippery slope or up another hill. This race was lot tougher than I expected and my lack of training was dissapointing me as well. I knew early in the race that I needed to work harder before Sulphur in five weeks.

When I got to 70 miles Catherine was ready to go with me, it was around midnight and I was tired and pretty sore. I knew that running any time over the next two loops would be a real stretch. Michelle had been doing a great job of keeping me in supplies, dry clothes, and lots of encouragement. After a couple of Advil I was off on loop no. 7. Catherine and I had already decided she would do two loops and the last loop I would complete on my own. What made these loops so good was the good company and the deer. We must have seen 6 or 7 deers on each of the two loops.

On my eighth loop (Catherines second with me) it was much of the same pace, walking most of it and running only for short periods of time. About half way through the loop we heard what may have been a large cat (not your ordinary house cat either) in the woods and he was hungry and it sounded like he had caught his next meal. My reliable pacer, Ms. Harding decided it was a good idea to stop on the trail and tell me about it. I remember saying Catherine, I didn't hear anything, lets keep going. Catherine, move, walk, Catherine, lets keep going......Oh No, let's just stand on the trail and make it that much easier for Mr. Cat to catch us, eat us for desert and clean up the mess before the next crazy person comes along. Finally for the third time I asked Cath if we could please continue to move forward. Ahhh, finally, she was moving again.

The race ended for me after 100 miles, 27 hours and 45 minutes, my feet were beaten up very badly, my lack of training meant I was in a significant amount of pain, I was cold, wet and angry with myself for thinking I could just show up and get the buckle. Lesson learned!

On a positive note, I would say if anyone is looking for the race that all races should measure up to, this would be the one. The course is very difficult, easily the hardest one I've done to date but having said that, the race director, Richard and his family and volunteers are the nicest group of people I've ever met at a race. The aid stations are without a doubt the best ever. The selection of food was second to none, the treatment and knowledge level of the aid station workers was fantastic. The swag was top notch as well. All of the participants received a long sleeve and a short sleeve technical shirt, a jacket, and a technical running hat. Oh, and a buckle, no. 4 in my collection.

The ride home wasn't great. Lisa and I shared the backseat, both uncomfortable, both kicking each other out of the way, trying to find a comfortable place to get a bit of sleep and having to work Monday morning back at our jobs meant Catherine and Michelle had to drive the entire way home in one shot.

I am happy to say that we are all still friends today and we look back on the trip, smile and can't wait to do it again.

Thanks again to those who are reading this, keep the emails with your comments coming. Makes me smile.

12 buckles, 1 goal.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

It's been to long - New Jersey Recap

Good Evening Everyone:
It's been a really long time since I've had some time to sit down and document the last two phases in 12in12. Sorry for the wait but I'm flattered by the few people who have been asking me to update my blog. It feels pretty cool, thanks. Tonight (if time permits) I'll try to write two blogs here, one for each of the last two events.

New Jersey Trail Series: Augusta New Jersey - March 23/24, 2012

This was an event that I attended with one of my training buddies Mary Lou Corino and my co-worker and good friend Aaron Maksym. Mary Lou provided the services as crew as pacers were not allowed and Aaron participated in his first 100 km event. The entire weekend was supposed to get underway at 8:00 Friday morning from Mary Lou's house in Georgetown. Yes, it was supposed to. I spent the night before in Newmarket to reduce the travel time and ease of packing, getting organized etc. Well at least that was the plan. I knew it was about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Newmarket to Mare's house so when the alarm went off I was quick out of bed, shower, pack the last few times and was on the road by 6:30, a quick stop at Tim's for my morning Tea and a bagel and off to Georgetown. All good right! WRONG. 7:15 am I was on the 407 at Mississauga Road and Michelle called me to let me know that I left my food bin on the stair beside the front door. Great start, very excited to be heading back to Newmarket to get the food. I slowed down and took the next exit off the 407. Did I really need that bin? Let's do a quick review: All my gels, organic chews, stinger waffles, head light, hand held, Advil, sport beans, batteries, extra head light, gloves, pop tarts....damn right, I needed that bin. Crap, reprogram the GPS, find any and all back roads and make my way back to 400 and Hwy 9. Thanks for meeting me there Mich, saved me valuable time for sure. This 3rd hundred miler is off to a marvelous start.
At this time I'd like to thank Aaron and Mare for not making fun of me.......much! Well I made it to Mare's house around 9:45, Dan was nice enough to let us take their Volkswagen Station Wagon to New Jersey. This meant extra room to pack all of my stuff, including my food. Thanks Dan, you're a great guy.
So we left Mare's house and in true 100 miler fashion, followed my GPS, down the first street or two, following the turn by turn directions, forgot to set it to New Jersey, it took me right back to Mare's house. Nice trip around the city block near her house. Ok, try no. 2, program GPS for New Jersey and off we went, flawlessly the rest of the way I might add.
We arrived in New Jersey on Friday evening just around 5:00 and the trip was great. We had a great time in the car trading stories of our runs, our experiences and just good fun. We checked into our hotel and then  went off to the race site to pick up our race kits and enjoy a pasta dinner before returned for a good nights sleep.
All went very well Friday night, the people in New Jersey were fun to be around and we met some other ultra runners who shared their stories about Vermount and Potawatomi, thanks to all of you for scaring the crap out of us before we participate in those events this summer :)
After dinner we returned to our hotel and enjoyed a beer, picked up a pizza (race food for Saturday) and went to sleep. Our wake up call came at 4:30 am and after a quick shower, some breakfast and last minute gear check we were off to the race start......after we fixed the flat tire on the Volkswagon. This wasn't one of the items we had actually planned for so I put on my Mario Andretti gloves, got behind the wheel and proceeded to the race start with lots of time to spare. I think Aaron jumped out of the car before it stopped and made it to the start line with 6 minutes to spare. Despite what he says, this was perfect, he didn't have time to worry about anything, like say....running his first 100 kms. The gun sounded and Aaron was off.
My 100 miler started at 7:00 so I had lots of time, 21 minutes more than Aaron as a matter of fact. You know, just enough time to take care of those last minute details, luckily the line wasn't to long.
I was nervous at the start line, I had told Mare about my goal and also shared my goal with the staff at my office but hadn't told many others I was really hoping to go under 21 hours. Standing there gettting ready I sort of wondered if I could do it, I'd never gone nearly that low before, was I setting the bar to high? Well, lets get this thing going and find out.
As the race started the course turned out to be somewhat friendly. It was dry, it was flat and only one or two sections that would require any level of focus or attention. Of course after 50 or 60 miles even the simplest of sections can be more difficult. The course was well marked and getting lost wasn't an option either. The way it was set up you werer always seeing someone else on the course and rarely did you run for 10 or 15 minutes without seeing someone else on course.
As I made my way around the course a few times I began to set landmarks and benchmarks for myself. I remember running two loops at Sulphur in 2010 with Monica Sholtz and she taught me that she runs in the exact spot each time around that loop and walks in the exact same spots as well so I decided to adopt that stragety here promised myself at each road crossing I'd walk to a specific landmark then run to the next cross road, aid station, etc. As the night went on I found this to be working very well until the 9th loop.
The course was 10 -10 mile loops. The first time I'd done a hundred miler with this format and all was going as planned until the dreaded 9th loop. I began to get very tired and visions of Florida reared their ugly head again. Luckily I think I quickly was able to identify what was happening and knew that this was a sign to just find a good spot to sit down for a short time, collect myself and get back at it again. Well the sit down took until the out aid station at 6 miles. I'm not sure how long it took me to get out there but it felt like hours. When I arrived at the aid station a very nice lady there asked what she could do for me. I explained that I needed a 4 minute nap and not to let me stay there any longer than that or Ken Moon would kill me. She smiled, looked at me and said "well I don't know who Ken Moon is, but we wouldn't want that to happen".
Obvisously she hasn't been doing ultra's much if she doesn't know who Ken Moon is, doesn't everyone know who he is? Ultra Legend Lady, geezz, get with the program.
Needless to say the kind aid station worker yelled at me at 4 minutes and damn near pulled the chair out from under me, handed me my back pack and told me to get the Hell out of her aid station (man I hate Ken Moon). As I promised myself, after the 4 minute nap I would be back to the program I had laid out on the previous loops only this time, no walking out of the aid station and running all the way to the next bridge to make up the time. I did just that and the last 4 miles of loop nine seemed to go pretty well. Lesson learned.
When I got back to the home base Mare was waiting for me and she had salt and pizza ready for me before I went out for the last time. Sorry to report that those items only stayed down for a couple of minutes and I'm sorry to the person who had to clean up the sidewalk. My last loop was underway after a quick stop and off I went. Knowing it would take a great loop to break 21 hours I pushed as hard as I could early in the loop, maybe in hind site I should have saved some for the end of the race. When i got to the six mile aid station this time, I didn't stop, I checked my bib number and headed right back out knowing it would take all I had to make it back before 4:00 am. The loop went ok and nothing really went wrong but I was out of gas with about 2 miles to go and the only uphill on the course. Looking back it was hard to understand why I couldn't dig in and get it done but at the end of the day I ran 21:08, 81 minutes off my previous best time and not time to be sad or dissapointed about the effort. I finished, I got buckle no. 3 and I felt great.
Aaron also finished his 100 km in just under 13 hours and looked as fresh as a daisy as well. Congratulations Aaron and I can't wait for you to tackle your first 100 miler in August.
Mare was outstanding as crew. She stuck with me for the entire event. Never leaving the station, always there with lots of encouraging words, a great smile, food at the ready, thank you Mare, you are amazing and I couldn't have done it without you for sure. And just for the record, she did take some advise from Ken as well. There were a few times I wanted to sit down, Mare wouldn't let me, there were a few times I did sit down and Mare kicked me out of my chair after a minute or two and each time I began a new loop I could hear Mare behind me, "Ken would kill me if I let you sit there". Who is the guy anyway?
Our drive home was a bit more quite than the ride there I"m pretty sure but no. 3 is in the books and only a short 3 weeks before Potawatomi.
Race report no. 3, long overdue but now complete.

12in12 - 12 buckles, 1 goal.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Iron Horse 100 - our excellent weekend adventure

We are back, still alive although a bit more tired today than we were last Friday.

Our (Ken and I) trip began Friday afternoon in Totenham Ontario at 5:00 pm. I picked up Ken at the local grocery store and after a quick Tim Horton's stop we were on the 400 series of highways heading for Buffalo and eventually Florahome Florida. There isn't much to say about the drive except that after we drove for a couple of hours and stopped for gas just outside of St. Catherines we got lost getting back onto the highway heading for the bridge to the USA, pretty funny when you get lost in your own backyard. This set up what was truly a great ride down to Florida. I guess all you need to know is we made is safely and we were still friends when we got there :)

We drove all night long and took turns taking naps in a reclyined passanger seat and between songs and downloaded pod casts from Trail Runner Nation we managed to sleep 4 or 5 hours each, just enough to keep the car moving forward. We arrived at our motel in Florahome on Friday afternoon at 1:00 pm and after another short nap we afternoon attended the pre-race meeting, picked up the swag bag and then Ken got back into the car like a trooper and returned to Jacksonville to pick up Michelle at the airport.

Race morning: Up at 5:30 for the typical pre-race breakfast. I even took a Tim Horton's tea bag with me as to not mess up the usual Tim's large tea and a cinamon raisan bagel. Once breakfast was over and we found our way down County Road 100 to the race start line, 6:45 and I was ready to go.

Race start, 7:00 am. It was about 18 degrees at race start and the humidity was pretty high. Michelle and Ken got my drop bag ready for the far end of the course and with the threat of rain I was just hoping we'd get the first 10 or 12 miles in before the rain started. Luckily this was the case and as a matter of fact shortly after the race start the sky cleared, the temperature rose to about 28 degrees and the humidity remained at about 90 percent.

My first 50 miles went very well. I had a plan to get it done in or around 9:45 in order to keep my goal of finishing under 22 hours alive. I reached the 50 mile turn around in 9:35 and felt very good and truly ready to knock the socks of the course over the nexst 50 miles. More on the second half later.

As I ran along the straight out and back 12.5 mile loop I learned a lot of things about Ultra's in Florida, hopefully no one takes offence to this but here is what i discovered: for the most part anyone running in the southern states would rather put their head down and not say a word to you as they pass you going the other way. Of course there are a few exceptions to this rule but not many. I was some what dissapointed in the level of hospitality of the other runners during the event. I even have a funny story about one of the runners I came across at the 67.5 mile mark. It goes a bit like this:

It was night time by the time I reached the turn around for the third time. I had been following a head light from a distance for some time and although I was closing the gap it wasn't happening very quickly.  Once I crossed a wood railway tressil approx. 1 mile from the turn around I decided to run as much as I could and attempt to catch the light ahead of me before the turn around. Looking for any small victory I thought this was a good goal and 200 yards over the next mile seemed attainable. I got a drink at the aid station and didn't stop knowing I'd be back at the aid station in 3 miles, so I set out after the head lighte ahead of me.
I met my goal and right at the turn around I caught up to the gentleman ( I use that term carefully). Having only gained 200 yards on this person over the last 8 or 9 miles I had no intent on passing or pushing forward, instead thinking this is someone I could run with until I meet Ken in just 12.5 more miles. After a quick introduction I found out his name was Mike and he was from the state of Indianapolis. I asked him how he was feeling and his reply wasn't unexpected, "feeling a little tired and sore and we have to do this one more f__ckin time". My reply was simple, "we can do this man!" Well imagine my surprise when his reply in a cold sharp voice was, "WHAT IS THIS WE SHIT?" I quickly rephrased my comment, "you can do it." After that I decided it was time to walk and I'd let Mike go on ahead of me, I guess I wasn't feeling the love.

Time for something else I've learned about Ultra's outside of Ontario. Don't count on food, they just may not have any. The aid station folks were ok, not bad but not great, the food selection however, a bit less than I had expected. There was a good supply of pretzels, chips, M&M's, salt tablets, Tylenol, oranges, and peanut butter and jamb sandwiches, however not much more than that. I guess I am used to some of our events around here where you can get a piece of pizza, slice of lasanga, chili etc. They gave out two gels at the race meeting but there were no gels on the tables at the aid stations and the water in Florida.....well it does have a lot of swamp land, need I say more?

Ok, back to the race, from mile 67.5 to 70 went pretty well for me, I was getting tired but still on pace to complete my race in just under 22 hours. Going into aid station no. 2 I had decided  had a few minutes to sit down and rest before making my way back to the start finish and my last loop. What a great surprise, Ken had decided to meet me there and do the lasat 30 miles with me. This was a huge boost for me, I sat for about 2 minutes and I was ready to go. Soon after leaving the aid station I told Ken about the food and how hungry I was. He turned around and headed back to the aid station to tell Michelle to go back into town and get me pizza. By the time we returned to the start finish, Michelle had arrived with three pieces of pizza (not even after 75 miles do I like mushrooms and onions on my pizza).  I ate one of the pieces, got some HEED and a salt pill at 11:30 at night and I was confident that 22 hours was within my reach.

The next 8 or 9 miles seemed to go as I would have expected, I ran a bit, I walked a bit, I was feeling tired  but not overwhelmed, aid station no. 2 was behind us and all I had to do was make aid station no. 3, turn around and go back. Pretty Easy.....NOT. For the first time in my very short Ultra career, I hit the wall. Now I can finally say I know what Bonking is. It hit, it hit hard and it wasn't pretty. We passed the aid station and after eating the pizza, drinking the tomato soup, 2 packages of sport beans, a salt pill I was convinced that I could sleep while I walked and when I say walk, I mean one step frontwards and one step sideways then one step to correct the path I was on. I would say that from mile 9 to mile 10 probably took 1 hour. This is were a great pacer really helps. Ken turned to me and said, Scotty, if we go this slow breaking 24 hours will be in jepoardy. I'm not sure he could have been any more clear but I could take you back to the exact place he said that to me and I remember waking up and thinking that that is not an option. The light came back on and it was only 10 miles to the finish and I was making it in under 24 hours come hell or high water. Maybe a bad saying in the state of Florida.

Once I was a bit more awake I told Ken about our friend "WHAT IS THIS WE SHIT", that guy. Needless to say Ken nicknamed him Nintendo. We started running again and guess who the first person we caught on the way back in, Nintendo. That pass felt pretty good and I'm thinking this is were the second pack of sport beans kicked in. The last 10 miles went extremely well and we covered the last 4 miles in 50 minutes to get to the finish in 22 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds. A personal best by 47 minutes.

I now have 2 buckles in 2012, its a long way from the goal but it's one step at a time and I'm looking forward to New Jersey in March. Thanks again to both of you for reading this, makes me smile that someone actually take the time to complain about spelling, grammer and my mindless banter. Thank you for reading this.

More a bit later on our trip home, the weather we encountered and a few details about our shopping trip, my training and all other good things running.

Congratulations to my friends still keeping the Febuary Challenge alive and well, what a great inspiration. Keep up the good work.

12 in 12, 12 buckles, 1 goal.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Ready, Set....Go, I mean drive to Florida, then Go

Good  Afternoon:

Well it's Tuesday February 14th, Happy Valentines Day everyone. I hope you have someone special to share you day with.

I am getting excited and ready to leave on Thursday afternoon for the Iron Horse 100 in Florahome Florida. It will be a world win trip for sure. Ken and I will be leaving on Thursday after work and it will be a non stop trip in order to make it there for the mandatory meeting Friday night at 6:00 and a pasta dinner. Then to bed early on Friday night and up and ready for a 7:00 am race start. According to the weather networks it looks like a low of 9 degrees and a high of 16 degrees with a 30% chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday so I think I"m ready for a wet race. That's ok with me, it will be 16 degrees, aka, shorts and a t shirt :)

This past month has been a good training month but hasn't come without its small victories and defeats. I took 6 days off after Beast and felt pretty sluggish during my first two recovery runs. It wasn't until late in the first run that after each of my previous 5 - 100 milers and 2 - 24 hour events, I generally took almost a month and even 3 months once after a 100 miler so no wonder 6 days felt a little odd. I set a training goal of between 160 and 180 kms of training in the three weeks leading up to Florahome. I think as of today I"m at 160 so short term goal reached and we'll see how this sets me up on Saturday. The small defeat was signing up for the February Challenge on Facebook. My month got off to a good start but only took 11 days to come to a crashing hault. More on that next.

I posted on Facebook that my Challenge came to a end after a visit to the hospital. Here is why I felt rather foolish during my 6 hour visit to the hospital with some chest pain:
My company participates in a variety of different staff events throughout the year, these activities range from golf, baseball, curling, skiing etc. and this month we decided to play hockey at a rink in Guelph near our office. Twenty Two of our staff suited up in what was a great one hour of shinny hockey that made everyone's cheeks sore from laughing at great goals, good moves and even a few awkward falls, trips and the occasional water bottle spray. Needless to say, on the return trip to Barrie I started to feel some chest pain and by the time I got to highway 9 and the 400 I was rather uncomfortable and feeling a bit nervous. I decided to go into Newmarket to Southlake Hospital to get this looked at. After being treated like a king and moved to the front of the line I felt much better once i was lying on a bed and relaxed. So I laid there for 6 hours, took three tylenol because they made me and then two childrens aspirins (they made me take those too but they were chewables and I must admit, tasted like candy). At the end of the day and 6 hours of testing turns out I'm just old and pulling a few muscles in my chest trying to keep up to a bunch of 25 year olds who play hockey a few times a week isn't such a good idea. So the rest of this week, rest, daily visits to the chripractor and a heating pad to try to get all the muscles relaxed before spending 22 hours in a car and hopefully 22 hours running a 100 miler in Florida....did i mention 16 degrees yet?

My goal for this weekend, see if I can break the 23 hour barrier. By all accounts the course looks pretty flat and with temperatures warmer than we are having now and hopefully no snow we'll see how it goes.

Thanks again (to both of you) for reading this mindless banter. I look forward to putting together another short video for my web site when we get back and updating my blog page as well.

Special thanks to Michelle for her exceptional orgainizational skills and taking care of everything else so I only have to worry about running, thanks to Ken for coming along, putting up with me on the trails and not pushing to hard, not to mention driving 22 hours with me.

Until next week my friends, happy trails.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Beast Follow Up - moving forward

Beast of Burden: 1 of 12 Race Update
Well its been a week since the first step in 12 in 12 has been completed and I would have to say that is went about as well as I could have expected, so here is how it went:
So the race started on Saturday January 21st 2012 and it got off to a great start. The sky was blue and without a cloud. The temperature was -4 degrees and there was very little wind, and with an inch or two of fresh snow we couldn't have asked for better conditions.
I started out the race with Mary Lou and we quickly came up with a plan to run our first 25 in 4:30 and our first 50 around 11:00 and Mare made me a promise not to wait for me, looking back, I'm glad she kept that promise. At mile 37.5 I had to make some clothes changes and Mare was out of Middle Port in just a few minutes and I spent a few extra minutes there and spent the next 18 hours chasing her. More on that a bit later.
I wore my new Salomon XT gortex wings and my go to socks, a pair of Merino Wool Ice Breakers but as luck would have it, for the first time my socks bunched under my right foot and toes and I could feel a couple of blisters coming on, this would mean at mile 50 I would need to take a few more minutes to make a shoe and sock change. I got to the turn around at 10:30 and was pleased with my pace over the last 12.5 miles. I'd banked enough time to make my sock and shoe change and not put myself behind schedule.
I struggled a fair bit over the next 12.5 miles and began to wonder if I'd done enough training to complete the 100 miles. I remember going through this exact feeling with the other 100's I've done so I started singing and just trying to focus on each of the bridges along the route.
The weather stayed great for the entire day, once the sun went down and the temperature remained somewhat steady there were very few clouds and even a bunch of stars, it was going to be a good night.
At each turn around I continued to see all of the familiar faces, first Mary Lou and Ken then Maryka and Charlotte, it is so much of a relieve seeing people you know and hearing all of the good things that go with participating in an Ultra. As usual Michelle was at each of the aid stations making sure I had the stuff I needed at each turn and getting my gear and food ready for the next time I came into an aid station, what a big help and boost that was. Michelle got my shoes and socks changed in record time at mile 50 and I was in and out of the station in a time that would have made Ken proud. I also have to thank Stephane, Kinga, Chris and Jocelyn, four more Canadians who made their way to Lockport to pace and volunteer at the race and at each aid station always polite and ready to lend a hand to help in any way they could, you guys all did a great job, thank you all very much for the support, encouragement and assistance. Great Job.
I met a bunch of great people at the event and as always Sam and his team did a great job putting on the race, providing support and good food at the aid stations, from hot dogs, popcorn and pizza at each station to hot chicken broth, they kept us fueled and ready to go.
During the race I didn't wear my watch so out on the course I wasn't aware of the time of day or my time during the race, this turned out to be a good thing and I continued to get to the aid stations before my scheduled time and I found that sitting at the start and the turn around for just 5 minutes to enjoy a piece of pizza and something warm to drink served as a good plan as the first hour of each leg seemed to go very well and I'm confident this was time well spent. I know Ken will be disappointing I spent time at an aid station but to try to make up for it my stop in Gasport (middle aid station) was only a few seconds at best, usually to pick up a gel, occasionally a cup of chicken broth and then back to the trail.
The race ended for me at 23:16, a personal best for me and a boost of confidence heading to Florahome, Florida next month for the second leg of my 12 in 12.
Here are some other notes from the weekend:
Mare finished the race and was the first woman and her time was about 22:40. Way to go Mare, great job!
Michelle and Ken did a great job, thank you both for everything you guys did to  help me get through the first leg.
It was great to see Diane and Henri in Lockport for a few minutes, thanks to both of you for driving all that way to see some of your ultra buddies.
A very special thank you to Saul and Ashley at Artik Promotions for the generous donation of technical shirts with the 12 in 12 logo, they look great and I can't wait to start wearing them.
I also learned on the way to Lockport on Friday evening that I have been selected as one of the Running Free ambassadors for 2012, more on this in another blog, it deserves one of its own. Thank you to the folks at Running Free, Barrie. I will do my best to represent your store and brand as best I can.
The gentleman at the border going back to Canada was pretty funny, I guess he hasn't seen anyone crazy enough to run a 100 miles in one day, made entry back to Canada pretty easy. Thanks sir.
The last thing, its Saturday, one week later and it's time to get back on the road or trail in preparation for leg no. 2. The goal is to run 180 - 200 kms in the next 14 days then take five days off before we head to Florida.
I will update this page at least once more before we go and let you know how its going.
Thanks to all of you for reading this......both of you.....hahaha. Have a great day, keep smiling and happy trails.