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.
12 buckles, 1 goal.