Thursday, 14 August 2014

Death Race 2014-Solo Finisher

Here I am, race week is here...
I am trying to relax, but it is quite difficult. I am super nervous, and I need to stay active, but not too active. My week went kind of like this. Monday: Work and Spartan training at night, Tuesday: day off and an 8K run, Wednesday: Spin, Thursday: Drive to Grande Cache, Friday: Do nothing but prepare for the next morning.
It is 5:45am. My alarm goes. I am awake, and surprisingly I had an "OK" sleep. I get up and have a cup of coffee and my usual pre-run vegan banana bread for breakfast.
7:00 am We head to the start line. I am planning on running leg 1 with Chris, but we decided that we will do our own thing.
I chose each INKnBURN outfit carefully for each leg! 
8:00 am The race starts. I am doing this! I will finish this! That is all I remember thinking. Oh, And Holy Crap! Here we go.
Leg 1 (19Km) Chris and I did start running together, but I was feeling pretty good and strong, so I ran a little bit faster. I also ran along with a couple of guys from training camp for a few minutes, it was really great to see them and wish them luck. My first pack broke with about 9 K left! I tied it back together and kept going. It was a total pain, but I wasn't going to let that slow me down. I knew I had another one waiting for me. Leg 1 is notoriously wet and muddy, but this year was very favourable and almost dry. This meant dry feet and socks.
I finished Leg 1 in 1:57. Perfect! My goal was to be under 2 hours.
Leg 1 I chose Sugarskulls because it makes me feel cool and powerful and it was the only one dark in colour, so early in the day was best for this beauty.
I chose Lust shorts because they are pretty. And they would go with my next 2 tops.

Leg 2 (27Km, summit 2 mountains) I am pumped, and feeling good. I traded my pack with my temporary support crew (my brother in law, Matt, his wife, Shelley and their 2 kids). I had the pack ready the night before, so I could do just that, trade it and go. I had fresh 2L of water and fresh energy bars ready to go. I also was able to keep my shoes and socks from leg 1, which was beneficial as I might not have had enough shoes for the entire race.
My changeover was quick, but as soon as we started running we had to stop for a train. This was frustrating, and took at least 5 minutes, maybe more, but off we went to climb the first mountain as soon as the train was gone.
I was about half an hour up when I went to grab my first salt pill. Oh no! Where are my salt pills!?!? Panic!!!! I forgot to replenish my pack pocket after the last race. I started madly texting my sister and sister in laws to see if Matt had left yet, but he had. Erik was just ahead of me, but he had passed me, so I was not sure if I could reach him. I think I picked up my pace a little and I caught him, only to help him discover that he had lost most of his as well. I calmed down. I had my EFS drink, my nutrition, and Matt would be coming behind me quickly, and surely he would have lots, as an experienced Deathrace soloist. I climbed the rest of Flood Mountain with Erik and when Matt reached us, he also informed us did not have enough salt pills for himself on this hot day. WHAT?! okay, it is okay. I will manage with lots of water, energy bars and EFS. When I got to the top of Flood I saw my friend Mike (from training camp), he just happened to have a large bag of salt pills that he was more than happy to share with me. Thanks goodness for good running friends!
Leg 2 got so much easier from there (well, mentally). I caught up to Matt again, where he warned me that I was on pace for a 4 1/2 hour Leg (which is pretty fast). I actually ended up running with Matt to the top of Grande Mountain, which is where he started to cramp. From there I ran the remainder with Mike. It was really great to run with Mike, the conversation was great, and we had the same goal. I just needed to remember to drink and eat enough while talking.
I finished Leg 2 in under 5 hours! 4:50 to be exact. Not bad with a train stop and panic climb.
The transition went smoothly. Chris was there and waiting to fill my pack, change my shoes and socks and give me fresh nutrition. Chris took care of my feet while I pounded an Ensure. It was probably the longest transition at almost 20 minutes. But I felt so great! Ready for the next 19 K!
I chose Run or Die for Leg 2 as this can be the most challenging of the Deathrace legs. I was going to run this one, or die trying!

My nephew was so cute. When he found out that I would be changing my shirt at each transition, He said "Auntie, How are you going to have enough clothes for that?!" My husband quickly replied "Well, Dude, you don't know you Auntie very well". Still makes me smile just thinking about it :)

Leg 3 (19K) I found this to be my toughest leg. The first half went great. I fell downhill, but I was okay. I stopped for a pee break, which is great, I was drinking enough fluids. After I came back to the trail after my pit stop, I saw Mike ahead of me. We once again ran together. I was feeling good. It was HOT! 30C and the sun was bright, but I felt good. There was about 6 or 7 K until the next transition left when I felt my guts flip. I knew this could be what breaks me. I told Mike to go ahead as I had to pull to the side. I was able to keep going at a slow run/walk pace and I did not need to pull over again.
Coming onto the highway was a great feeling! I knew I was close to the transition. I was really looking forward to the climb up Hamel. The best feeling was seeing my niece and nephew (Katie and Ethan) waiting for me. They gave me renewed energy as they ran up the trail with me.
I finished Leg 3 in 3:08 (including my transition time from 2/3). Not quite as fast as I wanted, but good enough.
What a great feeling! Over half way! I changed my shoes and socks, drank an Ensure, filled my pockets with energy bars, rice balls and trail mix while Chris put blister powder on my feet and filled my water. I grabbed half a sandwich (turkey and avocado on white) and my poles and up the mountain I went.
I chose Lust on Lust for Leg 3 as it was light in colour for the heat of the day. I also chose Lust as it is an emotional force associated with fantasizing about ones desires. Need I say more? 

Leg 4 (38 KM, summit one large mountain) The first part of the climb up Hamel was a very lonely one. Only 2 people passed me, and I don't remember passing anyone. The second part of the climb I caught a couple of soloists that I chatted with along the way, until I had to pull to the side again as my stomach turned. No vomiting though, I felt I was still ok. At the start of the switchbacks there is a bail out point where they ask if you are ok. Yup! No turning back now. The switchbacks felt pretty good. I did not notice the lack of O2 that I usually feel climbing up Hamel. I ended up climbing a lot with Matt from Ontario. We ran out to the point together and took selfies. The chat is nice.
The run down was once again lonely. I passed a few people, but did not see many racers. The run down felt slow, but not painful. I told myself from the beginning that if it did not hurt, then I would run all the flat and the downhill.
When I arrived at Ambler Loop it was a great feeling. I got lots of compliments on my flutter outfit from the volunteers, and more importantly, I made it through the meadow without having to use me headlamp. I also was able to fill my pack with water and change my energy bars out for my Clif Bar that I had waiting for me in my drop bag (because I was very tired of those bars and rice balls!).
I put on my headlamp and headed down the loop, then down the long logging road to the last transition area. We had to chip in at the bottom of the hill (which I ran all of, slowly, but I ran). I really enjoyed all of the volunteers! I especially loved how happy they were to see me. A female soloist, which didn't really make sense until the next day though.
I finished leg 4 in 6:30 (once again, including my transition time from 3/4).
The transition at 4/5 was a quick one. Me inquiring how everyone else was doing, change of shoes and socks. Add some coconut water to pack (just to change things up), and I took 2 Tylenol (just because I had not taken any yet, and I figured it couldn't hurt at this point). I also drank one last Ensure, and off I went.
I chose full Flutter for leg 4 as I was planning to float/fly up and down the mountain and look good doing it, just like a butterfly. 

Leg 5 (22 KM) I felt so happy starting this leg! The final 22K! At this point I knew I would finish. The first couple of kilometres is all climbing on single track with lots of trees and roots. I tried running quite a bit of it, but it is at an awful angle, it was very dark, and I did not want to risk any injury now, rolling my ankle on a tree root or on a rock. I had a lot of fun on this leg! It is so technical and challenging. There were lots of people around most of the first 8K up to the river crossing.
That is a fun feeling. You get to the river crossing, where the Grim Reaper is waiting to collect your Deathreace coin (that one must carry the entire race). It is such a cool thought, to give the Reaper your coin, and in exchange he will let you leave the hell of the Canadian Deathrace. Such a cool feeling! After getting off of the boat I knew I was home free.
I would jog where there were not many tree roots. Climb quickly when going up hill (what I felt was quick at this point). And just enjoy this feeling of being tired and happy and, well, strong.
I walked the entire last 3 km hill up the dirt road, as I watched relay racers jogging up it, thinking, good for you! How fun! This race brings people together and empowers them.
As soon as I turned left to the finish line I could feel my eyes getting teary. I was almost done! I ran down the road and crossed the finish line with a clock time of 20 hours and 3 minutes. I finished Deathrace as a soloist. Chris, Matt, my father in law, my sister and friend were all there along with Chris's Uncle and his family. They were cheering, and I could not have been happier! I survived 125!
The lays potato chips tasted so amazing at the aid station and the beer that they had waiting for me tasted pretty darn good too.
I was able to stay and watch my brother in law, Erik, cross the finish line as well. Such an amazing accomplishment! I was overjoyed to watch him cross the line as well.
The next morning came much too early, but I was informed that I was the 5th female and 2nd in my age group to cross the line. Even better! I was able to stumble with my 3 blisters down to the kids race and cheer for Nathan, Katie and Ethan. Feeling so proud of them! And of me!
Go Deathracer!
And for my final leg, Leg 5 I chose Wave, as I was planning to ride the wave to the finish line.

Pre-Deathrace Thoughts...

Wow! What a fun and amazing adventure this has been!
The past year has all lead up to this moment. Canadian Deathrace (CDR) in Grande Cache, AB Canada. 125 KM that pass through 3 mountain summits with over 17000 feet in elevation change, crossing a major river.
From the moment my brother in law Matt crossed the finish line in 2013 as a soloist at CDR my planning and training began. I knew that if he finished Deathrace, that I too, could try to solo this incredible and challenging 125 km race.
I think the most difficult, and nerve racking part of my journey was actually signing up. I had it marked on my calendar for months. January 23. Registration opens for Solo racers. I was so scared and so nervous. I had rolled my ankle the previous year at Sinister 7 and had not yet fully healed from that. And also, the previous year, I had a foot injury from running in the winter. Could I really do this?!?! Me, the chubby kid from Sparwood, BC that started running just 6 years ago??? In my mind I thought I could, but I felt that my body was telling me otherwise.
I started seeing a new chiropractor that does Active Release Therapy (ART) at the beginning of January, and it is him that I have to thank for giving me the courage to train, and to sign up for CDR.
Dr Luke convinced me that I actually could fix these problems that I had been having. My ankle pain, my knee pain, my hip pain. This could all be fixed with proper treatment and training. And he was right! So, Dr. Luke and my friend Jay (also a CDR soloist and Sin 7 soloist) became my "unofficial running coaches".
My real journey began on January 23, 2014 at 1000 when registration opened. This meant I was committed! Not only would I have my pride to worry about, but also my $350 registration fee.
I wanted to do this! But, just because I wanted to this, doesn't mean it would be easy. The other large credit goes to my very supportive family! Without the support and love from my husband (Chris) and my kids (Nathan and Nolan) I would not have been able to train as much as I did. It is with the support of my family and the advice from my brother in law, my chiropractor and my friend Jay that I was able to train as I did.
The first thing I did was sign up for a marathon training clinic. This got me out running on Sundays, even in the snow and the cold. I finished my long runs, no matter how much snow and freezing temperatures there were this past year! I did run on the treadmill a couple of times, but I actually learned to enjoy running outside in the winter.
The other thing I did was sign up for long distance runs, such as Woody's Marathon, Blackfoot Ultra and Deathrace Training Camp. These 3 alone gave me well over 225km in 3 weeks. I also signed up for Rundles Revenge 50K and Sister 7 as a team of 3 with my sisters husband and my friend Robyn, where I would be running 68Km. You see, I have learned, that if I sign up for it, I will do it. And I will do everything in my power to train and finish! It also meant that I would have some long runs under my belt before Deathrace came along on August long weekend.
I survived! My journey leading up to Deathrace, I survived! Part of the goal as an Ultra runner is to remain injury free. And I survived. I had a couple of scares along the way, such a pulled IT band, and ankle and knee pain, but overall, nothing too serious.
SO, I feel nervous, excited and scared $hitless, but here I go...