Monday, 24 August 2015

Black Spur Ultra Race Report

We are driving to Kimberley, BC and I start eyeing the elevation graphs on the BlackSpur website. I mean really studying them, since I will be running the 3 legs in less than 24 hours. I knew the race would be challenging, but I don't think I had a realistic idea of how challenging this 50K run would be.

The race can be run as a 50K or 100K solo or as a relay team for the 100K and takes place at the Kimberley Alpine Resort in Beautiful British Columbia. The transition areas for all 3 or 6 legs are at the base of the mountain, which makes it nice for drop bags and for people crewing and cheering and especially for soloists that are self supporting. 
At the pre-race meeting, Brian tells us just how challenging this course will be and that it is actually over 52km, not 50K. I am actually good with this news! My sick mind would rather over than under ;) He also explains that there are some areas that are not even trails, but just rock that he has marked. He mentions all of the single track on course. I am more excited than ever! 
The night before the race we had mice in our trailer that kept us up all night. Between racing dreams, dreaming of the new chameleon kit from INKnBURN (seriously!)  and the mice, I probably slept less than 2 hours. This did not however damper my excitement!
Ready to run on a very chilly morning...

Leg 1 was amazing! With tons of single track as promised, cushy running on moss and twigs and "rock climbing" it was my favourite leg! I love the twisted mind of Brian Gallant and how he made this course! 
I felt powerful on this leg, being in what I consider my elements! Climbing and running downhill. Approximately 16km and over 1000 meters of elevation gain, left me feeling strong coming into the transition area. 
Yup, that is the trail ;) The rock in the middle of the trees...
And yes. More trail there. Really! Up the middle of the trees :-)
Leg 2 was also pretty amazing! I kept going strong drinking water and fuelling with Vitargo. So many  amazing views on this leg as well! I wasn't sure where I was sitting in the standings at this point, but figured I was likely top 10. I was happy thinking this. Leg 2 saw me running over 17Km with an elevation gain of 935 meters. 
This was my favourite part of this leg :) Amazing!

Dipper Lake. My next favourite part of Leg 2.

I came in to the transition area to find my husband, kids and puppy had joined my sister and my parents. I love seeing them at my races! Chris helped me load up my bag with fresh water and Vitargo and helped me to get back out to finish the last 18Km and 842 meters of elevation to gain.
I did decide to change my shoes at the transition, as my feet hurt. I also decided to have an Ensure, just because. I feel both of these may have been mistakes. But I guess I will live and learn.
I went out feeling okay. Just okay, as the ensure was not sitting well with me. I started the climb up, and within minutes I started feeling extremely nauseous. Moments later I started dry heaving. I was not sure what to think. I had never experienced this before! I took some tylenol for my foot pain. Stopped at an outhouse to pee, and then found myself more in the trees. I slowly started to feel a little better. Not great, but better. 
I was still not sure where I was "in the pack" but decided it was not worth it at this point to stress out about it as I was sure there were a lot faster than me. I felt low, and I was letting that bring my run down. I was hoping for a top 10 finish, but really didn't care at this point! 
I reached some single track with lots of technical running! My favourite! This brought me back some energy! I caught up to a young girl that had passed me at the start of the leg. I passed her when I first caught her, but like any true competitor, it lit a spark in her and she passed me. I started talking was she passed me, and we ran down a long double track to the checkpoint together. It was nice to chat to someone. Just about nothing really. Ultra running, Sinister 7, where we were from. Just small talk, but it was nice. 
At the checkpoint there was a familiar face waiting to offer me goodies. Abi Moore (my idol and friend) was volunteering. It was so great to see her, but I was feeling quite low and really craving pop (which they didn't have), so I didn't stay to chat much, and out I went as her hubby (Mike) yelled that I only 9km more! 9Km! I can do this! And so began another climb up.
The views on Leg 3 were like no other! With mountains and valleys. It was Gorgeous! 
I hiked up the hill, as the young girl ran up by me. I thought to myself "WOW! Good for her!" I have always hiked up the hills since Ultra running. Well, especially when I am running more than 20K. I enjoyed the views and took my time to hydrate and refuel. Once I got to the top I was able to jog again. My Garmin had died, so I turned on my Nike Run app so that I had some idea how far I had run of the 9km left (probably 8 at that point). I took my time and enjoyed the run. Passing some having a hard time, and another passing me that was a strong relay runner.
I was feeling pretty okay by this point. tired, but okay. I was happy to be finishing my first 50K of the year. I came down the hill to the finish line, everyone cheering and my family waiting for me. I crossed, and my husband says "4th female!" I was the 4th female to cross, and 9th overall! I was 4 minutes behind the young girl that I ran with briefly who placed 3rd. I felt great! I was hoping for a top 10 finish, but 4th! I am pleased with that!  

Feeling great approaching the finish line!

The volunteers were all so great! They were congratulating me on my job well done. Grabbing me my pop :-) and offering watermelon and more. Everyone loved my Run or Die kit from INKnBURN and payed many compliments. 
I will say this is now my favourite 50K race! The views and trails were stunning! The race was well organized. And the country is beautiful! Well done Brian Gallant and team!
I would also like to congratulate everyone that ran this past weekend in Kimberley. My brother in law Erik and his sister Michelle for finishing her first Ultra! Majo did amazing and placed 2nd, running the entire 100K in his Luna sandals! And to Joanne for finishing 1st as a 100K soloist! It was so nice meeting new people and seeing their amazing talents on the trails! Well done Black Spur racers! I also need to thank fellow racers for sharing pictures on Facebook! I cannot take credit for most of these pictures, because for the first time, I think ever, I only took one picture in 50Km! :o
I look forward to seeing you all again next year! This is definitely a race worth repeating :)

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Found My Running Mojo!

Hi there Friends!!!
First, I would like to apologize for the very long break from blogging! It has been far too long, and I have missed it (and you) very much! I thought about it often, but just didn't get around to it...
That being said! I would like to announce that I feel as I have gotten my running Mojo back!!! After my injury and many physio treatments for the same, I would like to say that I finally feel good about running again! It did take a lot to get going again. Anyone that has experienced an injury might be able to relate to the pain and the depression that I went through over the past 8 months. I think we just need to be stronger (mentally and physically) to overcome it all.
I started by signing up to pace the Woody's Half Marathon. I figured that this would get me running after I finally started physio and healing. It was definitely a good start...
Next, I signed up to take my cycling designation and my group exercise courses to get my AFLCA certification. These were very busy weekends, with about 5-7 hours of workouts each day, but wow! Was it ever fun! And absolutely worth it! I feel like I learned so much. I am very excited to start teaching fitness myself :-)

Once I finished my exams and all of my courses, it made it easy to concentrate on running.

The biggest thing that helped me to get back to running and feel great about it was visiting the Rocky Mountains in Sparwood and the Crowsnest Pass the first week of July! It sure is easy to be motivated when you wake up each morning and know that you have childcare (Gramma) and mountains calling your name :-D

We arrived Sunday night and first thing Monday morning before the kids swim lessons began I arose to sun and mountains! I managed to get in 18K that day. Each day after that was any where from 6K-12K. Every moment was absolute joy and we managed to get some hiking in with the kids too!
I had not planned on running at Sinister 7 this year, just volunteering and helping cheer and crew for my brother in law Erik. I did however bring extra trail shoes just in case a team needed someone to help them out ;)
And sure enough! I found a team to run leg 2 with. This would have been an easy and fun run for me! It is my favourite leg of Sinister, and I could have ran a few extra miles to meet my training needs. The team Chicks on the Fly were able to help me out with that too, as they asked me 12 hours before the race if I could also run another Leg. I happily agreed, so long as the legs were close together. So it was decided, with less than 12 hours before the race, that I would run legs 1 and 2. Not only did have a blast running it, but it helped build my confidence again. I had not run 32.5km in quite some time, and this felt amazing! I have it! I found my running mojo!

Once I returned home on my runners high, it made it easy to keep up the training! I was able to get out on the cross country ski trails in Red Deer, as well 40 kilometres in Banff.

I feel better than I have in months and with just 3 more weeks until Deathrace I felt strong and capable. Gosh I am happy in the mountains! I miss them so much. I am so grateful that I grew up in them and now get to visit and explore frequently :)
I would like to thank my Mom and Dad for helping with the boys! I would like to thank the girls from Edmonton for allowing me to join their team! And I would like to say it is thanks to them, the mountains and a few races that helped me to find my running MOJO again! Hooray!!!
I would also like to take this opportunity to Congratulate my brother in law Erik Byman on his strong finish at Sinister!!! What an amazing accomplishment to run 100 miles! I know what I feel like to be awake for 29 hours! And he ran for almost that long, plus was awake before and after the race! Well done Erik!
Stay tuned for my Deathrace report...