Sunday, September 24, 2017

Soul Sucking Sinister 7

Oh Sinister 7. Where do I start.

I've been dreaming of my first 100 miler for years... at least since 2015 when I signed up to do this race. Let me just say, it was not at all what I expected.
The spring started out so well, I was getting in lots of running before work, enough that I managed to set a personal best 10k in April. Although I seemed to be running lots, I really struggled to get in the long runs I needed. Every weekend there seemed to be another road block that kept us from reaching our long distance goals.
Though were a bit lacking in mileage, we thought we were in decent shape by June when we planned to do our longest run - the Vancouver 100 (a 100k course from deep cove to horseshoe bay area and back).
A bit of "luck" came our way at the start of June, and we found ourselves with this lovely little thing called the flu. And not just an "I'll take some Tylenol and sleep it off in a day" type flu. A knock you on your ass, high fever for days, puking off the side of your kayak flu. You can ask Chris about that last part ;) Shout out to Nick for getting him home safe - I believe Chris still owes you a kayak trip!
Alright, so now we're two weeks until race day, and all of a sudden instead of "it's okay we've got lots of time" it becomes "okay, maybe we're under trained." So we do what any 'normal' runner would do, and we attempt one last shot at getting in a long run. We decide to head out to Cultus Lake and spend the weekend running laps around it. We know the route around the lake from running the Cultus Lake Give'r Take 30 each fall. Really fun race, but sells out in the first day of registration so you gotta be quick to get in! The distance around the lake is 25k. Our goal was to hit 4 laps for a solid 100k run.

Lucky as we are, on lap 1 we discovered this beautiful little plant that goes by the name of stinging nettle. It. Was. EVERYWHERE. Now, I don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure of interacting with this lovely herbaceous perennial flowering plant, but I don’t recommend it. When you touch it, it stings. When you run through it, it stings, and stings, and continues to sting. Long story short, there was a lot of it, and as such the first 15k was significantly slower than planned. By the time we finished the first lap, it was already looking like 100k was out of reach. We continued on to complete a second lap. I downed a can of coke and was ready to rock. Chris, however, wasn’t feeling so great.  I made a great speech about going on without him, but we decided to take a quick nap in the tent, and eventually had the strength to go on! We manage 75k and decide another 25k isn’t worth the pain. I know running around the lake sounds lovely, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some killer hills!

So we head out to the race having established that our training wasn’t the best. However, we have our eyes set on our next race, the Fatdog 120, and decide that Sinister will be a great training run no matter what happens.

Race day comes, and as promised, it is hot as hell. I’m talking 30+ degrees in town, doesn’t cool off, can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t escape the heat. PERFECT race conditions. Especially when part of the course is named Satan’s Sack as it is “hot, dry and exposed.” I'd love to say we did some good heat training, but given the cold spring we had with the term 'Mayvember' thrown around - let's just say we weren't all that prepared.

The morning of the race went a little like this:
1) Wake up - can you call it waking up if you never really sleep?
2) Eat breakfast - Too nervous. Can't eat. How do you run 100 miles without eating breakfast? Choke down some food. Good enough.
3) Use the washroom - 4 times, 5 times, when will I see another toilet?
4) Start race - Clouds in the sky make for a nice cool(ish) morning. This might not be so bad.

Leg 1 was great.
We ran on some roads and trails out of town and headed up into the hills while the weather was still reasonably cool. 100 miles ain't got nothing on me.
Leg 2 was hot, steep and dusty.
Suns out, clouds are gone, things are heating up. We start by winding up through the mountains. Then it's time for our first big ascent. It is steep! Fortunately for us, the descent is just as steep. Except it wasn't all that fortunate, because they were too steep to run down! It was more just sliding down and debating if rolling would be easier. Easier? Yes. Less painful? No. They were also dusty. Very very dusty. If you're behind anyone they kick up dust and you eat it. Guess I didn't need breakfast after all. I made a poor choice at the last minor aid and didn't fill my water bladder. So when I rolled into the aid station 20 miles in I was covered in dirt and had been without water for 2-3 miles. I burst into tears as soon as I got there. I wouldn't exactly call this fun (insert typical - 'how in the hell did you think a 100 miler would be fun' comment here).
With a little food, a lot of ice, and a face wash - we head out onto leg 3.
Leg 3 was the sackiest satan that ever sucked my soul.
I'm not trying to be dramatic. But this leg was awful. It was just endless rolling ATV trails with very little cover. We had to stop at every stream and soak our hats and dunk ourselves to stay cool. We couldn't eat solid food because all of our energy went to cooling down. I was roasting. I had no energy. I couldn't escape the sun. The trails weren't even that pretty (maybe I'm a snob from BC, but I love my single track and alpine meadows). I had zero motivation to go on. The miles were SLOW. I remember at one point hitting a sign that said 9k to the next aid. It was the longest 9k of my life. It felt like a death march. That was even before we hit the burnt out forest. We pushed on at the SLOWEST PACE EVER (see, no drama here), with little desire to continue forward. We passed people wretching on the side of the trail. We didn't talk to a single solo runner out there that didn't feel like shit.
Seriously, picture those movies where people are crawling through the desert, dying for water and seeing mirages. That's basically how I felt (except I had food, and water, and wasn't seeing things).
Alright. So I'm done. But I'm not giving up that easily. I'm at least going to make it back to the major aid station where Chris' parents are waiting.  But it's so hot, every kilometer feels ENDLESS, even on the downhills. We're living on electrolyte drink. Apparently everyone is. We run into the race director (not literally, and by this point I'm not sure you can call it running) at one of the minor aids who appears to be concerned and is telling the volunteers to ration electrolyte.
WE SURVIVED LEG 3! With enough time to keep going onto Leg 4!
Leg 4 consisted of us sitting at the aid station with Chris' parents, happily eating pizza with no intention to continue. It was an extremely easy decision to make at the time. We were both hot, hungry, and miserable.

It was less of an easy decision the following days when we looked back and wondered whether we could have continued. Though rumor has it that the course doesn't get any better, so we did ourselves a favour by not going on. Maybe a course better left to relay runners.

Big shout out to our crew who drove all the way out to Alberta to wait (at the same aid station allll day) for us to run 40 miles. Who slathered us in sunscreen, and dealt with my sobs a mere 20 miles into the race. Brad and Sue you guys rock! Whoever said in-laws are awful?! In case you're curious I just googled it. It turns out there are lots of people that say it. Clearly they don't have in-laws as cool as mine.

With that wonderful experience behind us the pressure is on for Fat Dog! Better start training.....

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