[June 5 training run report]
Finally…this is the type of weather that defines (in my mind) what these Knee Knacker training runs are all about….warm weather, sunshine, & a (mostly) dry trail!
It’s now a well known fact that this particular run is one of the toughest training days prior to the race (some would argue that the race itself is easier on the brain). After making some pre-run announcement about pacing, nutrition, & focus, the herd was off on a (now) very familiar part of the Baden Powell trail.
I took up the rear of the pack with Patricia & slowly wound up my pace until I was moving along at a comfortable (& hopefully maintainable) clip. For those that are new to the ultra distance, starting slow is a key tool in getting to the finish line efficiently. In my case, I know that it takes me about 45 minutes to warm up, so instead of fighting my body’s (in)ability, I go with its flow.
On this particular run I found myself running with Imre Sorban….a 5 time finisher who comes down from Squamish for these training runs. We had some time to chat about previous exploits & strategies & Imre underscored one of the items I brought up at the pre-run briefing….run to your abilities! Like many of us (myself included), Imre admits that his uphill prowess isn’t exactly world class, but he more than makes up for it in the downhills. He’s what you would call an expert technical runner…the worse the trail conditions, the better he gets. I remember a couple of training runs over the years, where I’d hear his footsteps right behind me (running down BCMC or the final km’s of the BP towards the Grouse parking lot)….& try as I might, I couldn’t (can’t) shake him. Not bad for a 60-something ultrarunner! If I’ve learned anything in this sport, it’s never to judge a book by its cover. Some of the best ultrarunners come in all shapes, sizes, & ages….don‘t believe me? Take a look at the top 20 runners in previous years….surprisingly few of them are under 40….in fact the previous course record holder (until 2010) was over 50. There is hope for many of us after all!!!
As we moved along, Imre stopped for water & I kept moving along…only to stop more often than planned. Trail runners are not very numerous, so if you do this sport for any length of time, you get to know a few people. As it happened today, there were quite a few folks that I’d run with in the past that were doing their own training runs on this same stretch of trail (many going the opposite direction)….so, I’d take the opportunity to take a brief break & chat, catch up, & then move along once more. At a certain point at Hyannis, I bumped into Jackie Muir (who is training to represent Canada at the 50 Mile Worlds in Ireland this July and Wasatch Front 100 in September) & as we chatted, I decided to follow her back to the start (I had some family obligations, & had promised my wife that it would be no more than a 5 hour run).
More good conversations, great weather, scenery, & more chatting. In fact….a bit too much chatting on my part as I neglected to ingest enough calories. Soon after we reached the bottom of Lynn Headwaters, my brain went a bit fuzzy & I immediately realized I was bonking….big time. I told Jackie to carry on….this wasn’t going to be a quick-fix. I ingested some calories & sat it out on a log for about 5 minutes before walking up the trail. I wasn’t doing very well & if I had a phone handy, I think I would have called for a ride….the first time ever in these training runs. No phone, no luck, no ride. As they say….”suck it up, princess”. Imre & I had been talking about the ability to feel like absolute crap during a race, but that it is always temporary….the voice in my head kept trying to convince my body that this would still be true.
Eventually, things perked up & I started to trot & eventually run. I plugged in my headset for some motivation & found my old self….back in the run. As fast as I thought I was going, I was eventually passed by a few of the real speedsters who had run the whole enchilada…amazingly fast!
I got to the car & started peeling off my shoes, socks & sweaty shirt & took a couple of minutes to shake the cobwebs off my brain….another fine run!! Then….it was time to get back into family mode. No complaining….no nap….no excuses.
Such is the balance of playing in this wonderful sport & trying to lead a balanced life.
See you on Sunday!!
Ultra Tip #429253: Bring a baggy – I always run with an empty sandwich sized zip-lock baggy in one of my pockets. I use it when I get to aid stations. Instead of grabbing a handful of grub & trying to stuff my face, I’ll grab a handful of grub & put it into the baggy. This allows me to get through the aid station quickly & I can munch at my own leisure. Chips, M&M’s, potatoes, jelly beans are all easily bagged.