If the miles behind me could be put into words before you, you would feel my efforts, my struggles, my desires. Most of all you would see my joy. Watch me from afar run the trails and hills and miles upon miles and you will see ...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Hat Came Back

The hat that they handed out to the Hawaii Ironman finishers in 2004 was by far the best running hat I have ever owned. It's a Headsweats and I wouldn't recommend any other hat on the planet for running in. Not that I receive anything from the company to make me say this, it's just something I believe in. I've used a lot of different hats and for the most part they all work but when the rain comes down, it feels like you have a soaked cat sitting on your head. Who needs all that extra weight when running for hours? Think about how much extra stress that is on the legs for each and every step. You take all those steps over several miles and it causes tons of extra force impacting the legs. With Headsweats hats it's like you're not wearing anything at all. You're naked running over the hills and through the meadows. In the rain it feels non-existent.

I ran with the one from Kona for a couple years in the heat and rain and was never happier. Then came the dark day: A certain domestic animal (not mentioning any names) took it upon herself to chew a piece of it off, making it her own in the process and also rendering it impossible to do it's job (which is essentially to rest on my head). After the horror had subsided, I was off looking for substitutes. There were none. I couldn't come across any that had adequate vent panels on top to let out heat and not absorb water. Nothing compared to the weight. I was Yin without Yang, Donny without Marie, soup without crackers. I decided to keep a look out on ebay which never really turned into anything. Then at Ironman Canada this year I came across the line and went to receive my finisher's shirt which came with a hat this year. Amazingly it was a Headsweats!!

The downside was it was adorned over every square inch with Ironman trademarks and simply a billboard that screamed, "I did an Ironman, revel in my accomplishment!!!" I have worn it a few times just because it is so comfortable. I'm not a big fan of wearing any things Ironman but I made an exception for comfort.
So the other day I got home from work and it took a minute and a few subtle hints from the family to look over on the counter, but when I did, there was my hat!! Like something out of a movie where the hero returns after years of being missing, never expected to be seen again. This wasn't the chewed up, disfigured abomination that I had to discard, it was a brand new, tags on, Kona 2004 Ironman hat.

Carrie had contacted Headsweats without my knowledge, probably in an effort to get me to stop whining over a stupid hat, and after communicating with Matt, he found one and mailed it out to us!! I am amazed once again at her level of care and concern for my well-being.
I am now more ready for H2H as this is a most valuable piece of equipment. Rain or shine I will not whine.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fuelling the Run - the night

If success could be measured by the amount of work that goes into an event, this one would be the benchmark at the top end. All the hard work that went into this night -the planning, organising, auction item-searching, shopping, talking to people - was directly proportional to what we got out of it - watching people be in awe of the fantastic display of auction items, seeing old friends, having many of the people that I care deeply about in attendance. It started out in it's infancy as a fundraiser but turned into an evening with friends out to have fun and share this night with us.

The day of the dance was hectic to say the least - the prep, getting food together, watching updates of Ironman Hawaii, setting up the hall - but it all fell in line at around 6:58pm.

I can't say enough thanks to all those who came to the hall Saturday night to share a magical evening. As well, I was very impressed at those who donated items to be auctioned off with great success. Everyone was amazed by the amount of items we had and the quality of them all. The highlight for me was receiving my award from Steve King and Ferg Hawke towards the end of the night. As I've rarely seen Steve outside of races it is always a special time when I do.

Huge thanks go to Tracey who, without her, couldn't have made this happen. The amount of legwork to get everything together was staggering. Also to Carrie who put up with the stress of me running around for four weeks to get things done and my asking her to do tons of work along with all she normally does.

I can't believe there are still people coming up to me to donate even though they couldn't attend. As I said in my little speech that night, with every race I do I'll have every one of you with me out on the roads and in the trails. You are all my crew.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fuelling the Run

The day is finally here. All the prep is done. All the hard work is finished. Just enjoy the day. They journey is the challenge, the night is the reward. Must start off slow, not too many drinks too soon. Pace myself. Slow and steady. Breathe. Save the energy for later in the night.
The morning is when will I feel really good, like I could be doing more or even start drinking. Can't do it, have to be strict and focussed.
The afternoon will bring times of stress, it's okay, we've practised this over and over, the time to shine will come. Still must resist indulging too much but can have a few beverages as a reward for all the work. Everything will be set up and it's almost time to relish in the accomplishment that is this event.
Evening will arrive and that is the time to pick it up and show what we can do. We'll feel the fatigue but it's no time to slow down now. Now is the time. Something inside will scream, 'Go, go, your time is now!!' And we will. Why else do we hold back for so many weeks? Just for these few hours that is 'our time'. Now we go all out, hold nothing back, not worrying about tomorrow or how our heads will feel. These times come around very seldom, and we must embrace our passion.
Bottoms up!!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Borders, Baker Lake, and Bears

It's funny how when I'm running these days I or doing a race my mind is filled with what I want to write about on the blog when I'm done. Sometimes I play it out from the beginning of the day, the beginning of the race, or at a certain point somewhere out there. Of course, when I'm done the race or back home, I forget a lot of what happened there,almost as if I wasn't supposed to remember every detail, that the overall feeling is sufficient to re-live the race. If I was at the three hour mark of the Baker Lake 50km race right now I'd be thinking, "Christ I wish I wasn't over an hour from the end still!!"

Judie Wilson, an accomplished runner, ultrarunner, and Ironman, and I headed out to cross the border around 5:30am on Saturday to get to the race start about 130km away. We got to Peach Arch crossing and saw the line-ups at 5:45 and were shocked and amazed at the line-ups going south. A quick listen to the radio indicated up to an hour wait at that border and the Truck Crossing. We made the decision to head over to Sumas where the wait shouldn't be as long.

We only waited twenty minutes there but the slower backroads didn't spit us out to the I-5 at Bellingham until about 7:10. I said to Judie that I was pretty sure we weren't going to make the start in time as we had roughly 80km to go still. I almost pulled the pin and suggested we just go to Chuckanut and do a few hours through those trails. After some discussion we figured we'd might as well keep going and whatever happened, happened.

On the smaller roads off the highway there was a car right on our tail even as we approached extremely ticketable speeds on those backroads. We laughed as we figured it was another car of Canadians held up at the border and we were right. As it turned out we arrived, shouting "The Canadians are here!!", only twenty minutes past the start line. After just barely catching the race director heading up to the turnaround to give him our extra bottles, we quickly got dressed, lubed up and band-aided up (okay, I did), we headed out only thirty-one minutes behind the leaders. I've had bad dreams like this before where you arrive late or something holds you up and can't start a race but this is the very first time I've ever missed a start. I've come oh so close in the past but always been there when the gun sounded.

Judie and I started together on the 2km or so of roadways but she sent me off on my own once we hit the trailhead. Of course the weather was ugly, not quite as ugly as the race two years ago, with socked-in clouds and a bit of drizzle.

It took thirty-six minutes to catch the first runners, which turned out to be a pair of ladies on the trail, one of which heard me coming and quickly stood, pulling her shorts up after her pit stop. I covered my eyes and said, "I see nothing", and "we're all trail runners here". The next few bunches of people commented either we had started slow or started the race late. In the few seconds of passing it was relayed that, yes, four of us started late, we were on Canadian time after all!!

About 4km from the turnaround the land flattens so I decided I needed to make up some time and booked it. At the turn I quickly exchanged bottles and flew again (too fast as it turned out) the other way. Time at the half - 2:07.

It was fun seeing the same people on the way back as they all had comments to add and everyone could spare at least a "hello". At around the spot where I knew I had 1:30 to go to the end the energy started to dwindle. I think I forgot how much running in the trail takes out of me and didn't bring enough CarboPro 1200. Had to ration it too thin. The hills on the way back were reduced to me climbing them with baby steps, just waiting to hear the footsteps behind me of those who had raced smart and not blown everything on the flats. It was eerily similar to how I felt in the race in '05. Not much energy, looking at my watch every couple minutes not to see when to drink, but to calculate how much suffering there was still to be had. Crazy enough, though, I passed four guys on this last hour or so of the run.

Finally the trail ended and I got onto the forest road again. Of course I would have been more than happy to slog my way to the finish, but no, there was someone at the trailhead who had to tell me that the second place guy was a minute and a half ahead of me. Second place?!?! I didn't really keep track of my placing at the turn or on the way back so was surprised to learn I was that close to the front having started late. I was a little (okay a lot) disappointed the was the race had gone so far because I really wanted a shot at the prize the winners of the open and masters divisions get - a cool stuffed "Baker Bear". Two years ago I missed out on it by a few minutes and it killed me that the second place guy might be in my age group and I'd come up seconds short to my bear. As it was I saw him close to the finish but could only put a minute into him before I crossed the line in third. After a congratulations I asked him his age which was 47. Then I found the first place finisher and it turned out he was 43!! Whoohoo I won my division and so received the coveted Baker Bear for my troubles.

It was so nice of Don the race director to explain to me, even though I totally understood, that it would be unfair to take away the title from the first place finisher even though my time was seventeen minutes faster overall than his. Unless they had timing chips they had to go by the clock time. It's such a great race and a fun trail to run on that I didn't mind at all. As it was, Judie would have been the second place woman and won her division as well if it weren't for those holiday shoppers heading south. I hope to come back next year.

Baker Lake 50 km Trail Run

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Gentle Reminder

It usually takes only one run a year to remind me that I can't, no matter how long or short, do any sort of run in the morning without hitting the bathroom before I go out. Today was that run.
The body has a funny way of adapting to doing things at a certain time of day, each and every day. It does not like to be out of it's normal rhythm of things. It likes to show the brain once in a while who's really in charge.
I was in a hurry to get a little thirty minute jaunt in before the kids went to school. Out for fifteen minutes I went, planning to turn around then and head back. At the turn I realized I may have gone about five minutes too long. Wasn't sure if I'd make it home. Lots of bushes nearby but they were mostly in people's front yards.
If I slowed down a bit, the feeling subsided somewhat but meant it would take longer to get home and there was something that wasn't going to wait that long. The faster I ran produced more jostling and bouncing and made that "something" want to happen that much sooner. It was a predicament. This isn't one of those "mind over matter" or "push through the pain" moments, this was an occurance that was going to happen whether I liked it or not.
Needless to say I made it home but it was close. Very close. Did I mention it was close?