Let me first off be perfectly honest and tell you how scared I was to run Lost Soul. My very first half marathon was in the HOT coulees of Medicine Hat in 2011. It was my most difficult run, still to this date. It was hot, hilly and awful! This was my fear of running the coulees in Lethbridge. I knew it was going to be hot and hilly!
I also did not have a solid training year. Being injured for most of it, and my longest training run being Black Spur just a few weeks before, I went into this race not really knowing what to expect of myself and/or the race itself. I knew that I signed up for this race to originally qualify for Western States. The qualifying time as of 2015 was lengthened from 16 hours to 21 hours. This means that my only true goal was to run all 100km in less than 21 hours, though I really was hoping for less than 18 hours (if I could finish).
I did know that I did not want to eat any solids during this race. I usually try to eat protein while running, but I have been questioning why? Protein is so hard to break down. Carbs are the easiest form of calories to break down to glucose, so why not just use carbohydrates??? Sounded good enough to try :) So the plan in my head was to use just Vitargo and water. I had my trail mix with me always, "just in case".
The Lost Soul Ultra consists of 1-54 km loop, that is run 2 times, less leg 1 the second loop for the 100K and 3 full times during the 100 mile race.
Leg 1 takes you on a very steep climb up the coulee hills near the beginning, just to make sure that your calves and hamstrings are awake. It is 7km.
Leg 2 is 8.4 km leaving you with gorgeous views of the train bridge and the coulees.
Leg 3 is 9.6km taking you by the local gun range.
Leg 4 is the longest at 16.4km. It has coulee climbs and downhills, as well as about 10km of flat running. It takes you by the river and hemp fields.
Leg 5 is a lot of shale trail and is 6.6km that has us running through a bit of the wilderness park.
Leg 6 is the final leg at 6.2 km. It is amazing taking the runners through a really cool forest and under the train bridge. It ends taking you by the Fort and with a giant climb back up to the Lethbridge Lodge before crossing the transition/finish line.
So, it is Friday morning, the race starts at 8am. I am feeling good and start the morning by rolling my hips and glutes on my lacrosse ball (at the suggestion of my physiotherapist). I bring this same ball with me to the pre-race meeting and use it to roll on my feet right before the race. I feel like this has really warmed up my muscles.
The entire first loop I was running with my poles, asking myself "Why am I running with these??" I texted my sister to ask if she was still at the Lodge so that I could ditch them with her. Running without my poles was probably the best decision I made during the 101.4km.
The coulee hills were steep, but there was a lot more flat running and I didn't want to waste energy running flats with poles.
It started to get hot early. By the time I got to the North loop I was told it was 32C (in the shade). I definitely felt good about my hydration. I knew I was getting enough water. But after the big climbs in the long back loop, as I was starting onto the flats along the river, I started to feel things that I had never felt before. I felt my heart rate beating faster than ever. And what really worried me was the chills I was experiencing, even though I was baking in the sun. I was really looking forward to finishing this leg. I came in to the transition feeling "okay" and knew I needed some ice in my water pack to try and cool down internally.
This race is amazing!!! They have ice at EVERY transition. And it was available all the time!
The final 13K of the first loop felt very long, and very hot. I walked a lot. But so did every around me. I really loved running through the forest and along the river. And I remember making mental notes about certain trails that I would want to walk on in the dark as the trail was VERY narrow and dropped straight off one side with a wall of coulee on the other.
As I finished the first loop the clock said 7:33. I felt okay with this. I loaded up with more Vitargo and iced water. I probably sat around for way too long at this transition. Not for any reason that I can think of, just because. I started back out on the trail (missing leg 1 because only the 100milers have to do this loop every time). I realized immediately I forgot to reapply sunscreen, so back I went. Ok. Now I was ready. This was definitely the hottest point of the day. The course is totally exposed, with only about 10% coverage of some kind. No memories really stand out from my second loop on legs 2 and 3. I remember a few runners pulling off to the side if there was shade. I remember having to walk a lot, strictly because if I started running too much my heart rate was getting way too high. I remember climbing the steep hill beside the gun range and hearing the shots, thinking one of those could come our way. I remember doing run math, probably the the entire stretch of leg 3. If I come in at this time, I can still finish before midnight. If I finish this leg by this time.... There should only be X km left, I should finish at this time. (All of this math was totally inaccurate). I remember feeling so very HOT and relieved coming into the Pavan Park transition area.
As I was hanging out at this transition, seeing friends and family, as they were all asking me how I was feeling, all I could mumble out was "HOT, I AM SO HOT." I came into this transition feeling totally defeated (not wanting to quit, just feeling completely drained). The chafing from my sweat and my shorts on my inner thighs was awful. I applied Body Glide. Changed my shorts. It still hurt so much. I am so thankful for Jo Schmidt! I told her my dilemma of changing into capris, but I was worried about over heating. I showed her my chafing. She helped me decide to change into my capris. This was the second best decision I made during the 100K race.
I planned on walking the entire North loop, just to let my body cool down. I told Chris I would be about 3 hours, but I went out feeling surprisingly revived. I could not believe how I good I felt. I ended up running most of the 16+ km. I noticed a lot more the second time as well. I smelled the hemp fields the first time, but didn't notice them until the second time running by them.
I walked up the hills and through the mud by the river, but was shocked that I could run the rest. I felt so great that I finished under 2 1/2 hours. What this meant was that Chris wasn't there to see me out and stock up my Vitargo. The volunteers were super helpful though! They helped me to add some ice to my pack, and off I went again, knowing I had less than 13K left. I asked the volunteers to tell Chris to meet me at Peenaquim Ball Diamond Aid Station if they saw a guy carrying my bin with MEYER on it.
As I ran up to the aid station my eyes started jetting around looking for Chris. He was not there. I asked the volunteers to text him and tell him I would be finishing in less than hour. The volunteers throughout the entire race were absolutely amazing!!! They made jokes about husbands, but were more than happy to help a racer out during her desperate need to have her husband at the finish line.
I quickly turned around and headed back out for the last 6.2km. I love running in the dark! I can always tell when other racers are around me and it looks really cool seeing the headlamps along the trails.
I ran most of the Leg 6 trail. My favourite part of the entire race was the cave like forest that was completely lit up by glow sticks. It was beautiful in the daylight hours, but spectacular at night!!! I also loved running under the train bridge while there was a train going over it. The glowing lights from the train and sounds were pretty cool to experience.
When I started this leg I passed a girl and guy running together. This was good for me as it pushed me to keep running. I was so excited to be this close to finishing! It got me thinking how badly I wanted to do well (and not let anyone else pass me).
I left on the North Loop at 7:03pm, thinking there was no way I would finish before midnight. But climbing up the final hill before reaching the finish I knew it was before midnight. As I came around the corner to the finish line I could see the time 15:39. And I could see Chris had made it. I was so happy. I sprinted across to make it well under my dream goal of under 16 hours which earned me 6th female (5th in age group) and also my finishers tile :)
Not only did I qualify for the Western States Lottery, I did it in under the old qualifying time.
I would like to congratulate all finishers at LSU! It was a very tough and hot course! I would also like to thank my husband, my kids, my mom and my sister for helping through the day.
I started the race not knowing if I would even finish, and with the help of them, the amazing volunteers and with Vitargo I was able to surpass my goals and qualify to put my name in the hat the week of November 7 for Western States.....
I feel amazing after this run, both mentally and physically. I feel like I did this one right, which has me excited for 2016!
Until next year Lethridge and the Lost Soul Ultra (because I will definitely be back...)