[June 12 training run report by Glenn. Patricia was off on a family day.]
“It’s a battle of Calories.” – Karl Jensen, ultrarunner/guru
A perfect day for trail running with 70 of my best-est under-dressed friends!!! The sun was coming out, the trails were relatively dry, & there would be the possibility of doughnuts at the end of it all. I was looking forward to this particular run as it meant the end of the out-and-back style runs that we had been doing since early May & the beginning of the point-to-point runs. There is so much more of a feeling of accomplishment when one aims to arrive at the Finish line.
After a Le Mans type start, we shuttled from Deep Cove to the Skyline trail mid-way up Cypress Mountain. A little cooler high up on the hill, we headed onto the trail after a quick briefing. Despite the warning that the route would be somewhat tricky due to off-shoot trails & fire roads, a few people….experienced or otherwise….managed to find alternate routes. Some managed to correct their mistakes in short order, but then quickly “un-corrected” themselves up another off-shoot. To paraphrase…”all trails lead to the Chute”…eventually, everyone found themselves at the Dam after a nice long descent.
One of my favorite parts of the BP trail is the section from the bottom of the Hollyburn Chute (the intersection of the BP & the TCT/Skyline) to the top of the British Properties….something about the soft footing, the gentle descent, & the loamy & rooted twists & turns that makes me feel that I could run this section interminably. With our focus on our footing, three of us were quietly cruising down this section ahead of the lost souls who’d decided to follow the path of least foliage (read: alternate route). I understand that some others had navigated toward the residential areas a little early….fear not for race day…the course will be very clearly marked & we place marshalls at the troublesome intersections.
After getting to the Dam, I slowed my pace down a bit & walked the road to Grouse. Mike had the same strategy….save some energy for later on…& we headed up together. The real climbers were running up the road with ease, but I know that this section of the course can be the toughest point on race day…might as well hold on to some energy for later. What I had been neglecting the entire time….so far just over an hour….was my stomach….or rather, my calorie intake.
Karl’s quote at the top was specifically addressing 100 mile races, but the fundamentals of calories-in/calories-out applies across the board. Even though I had only been going for just over an hour, I had no craving for food, nor any appetite for the gels & blocks that I had with me. I’m usually a consistent muncher, but the thought of ingesting anything on hand was making me queasy. This was not a good thing. What had started out as an optimistic training run on a perfect day, quickly slipped into a slog for yours truly. As per the prior week, I was going into full-bonk, but unlike last week, I just didn’t have the stomach to ingest anything. Not looking good….
I figured that I would tough it out to the top of this particular climb (the bench at the St George’s intersection) & hopefully, the downhill would revitalize me enough to get me to the store at the top of Lynn Valley Road. Once there, I figured I could find something that would agree with my stomach. The drop down to Mountain Highway went fairly well, but once I was on the last stretch down to the Lynn headwaters Road, my legs felt like lead and my quads felt fried. I took a shortcut to the store & found that I wasn’t alone….Alan was calling it quits & was trying to find a way to get to Deep Cove. Once I sat down next to him & Maureen (a veteran from last year’s Knee Knacker), I surmised that my day was over. Legs fried, stomach uncooperative, & my mind in the dumps….I didn’t have the wherewithal to run the rest of the trail. For the first time in 10 years of participating in these training rides, I called for a pick-up.
I managed to get up off of the concrete barrier that was my seat, & bought some ginger-ale (great for upset stomachs & often found at aid stations) & a liter of skim milk (yes….skim milk…believe it or not, one of the best ultra-foods out there….it’s gotten me to many finish lines….don’t knock it until you try it), & waited for my family to scoop up my carcass. The drive back to retrieve my vehicle from Cypress put the distance into perspective. Looking at my watch, slightly dejected, I looked at the positive side:
- I managed 3 hours on my feet without any extra calories & only a bottle’s worth of water.
- If I had some other food source, I would have been fine (stomachs are fickle things)….beef jerky, or sesame snaps would have helped. The race has a variety of food at the aid stations.
- It was 3 hours on some gorgeous trails on a sunny spring weekend!!
- I didn’t get lost….
Although most people made it to Deep Cove, some were not as fortunate….James popped a ligament when he rolled his foot during the run & it seems he will be out for a few weeks. Terribly sorry to hear about that, James.
The June 19 training run should prove to be a classic or epic, so let’s send out some positive vibes to the weather gods. For that session, we get to run the first ¾’s of the race course. Those of you who’ve never done the Black Mountain section are in for a treat…bring a camera. Be prepared for a few things:
- There will be snow after the Bluffs (near the top).
- Be extra vigilant & follow the markers….do NOT follow old footsteps in the snow as many of them can be wrong.
- Do not blindly follow the person in front of you (this is how about 15 to 20 folks went off course last weekend….twice).
- If you don’t see a marker for over a minute, you’ve likely gone the wrong way….back up to the last known marker.
- Be careful on snow-bridges…this time of year, they can be treacherous.
- If the weather is questionable, bring an extra layer….even if it’s just a garbage bag with holes for your arms & head….this has been one of the nastiest training runs ever (or so I am told….I managed to be in sunny California that particular day).
- Have fun & keep the fuzzy side up! Hehehe…..
Ultra Tip #723 ¾: Climb with your heels, descend with your skis
- Ever feel like your calves are going to explode on those interminable climbs? You’re probably stepping up with the front of your feet/toes. Try to find a “flatter” spot (like a boulder or root) & step up with your heel firmly planted…it’ll save your calves.
- When descending, use good skiing techniques to get you down the technical trails faster & in better control….hands in front & low, hips facing down the fall line, drop your shoulder into the turn, look two turns ahead…the key is to keep your hands in front of you.