Friday, August 24, 2012

One Tardy Squamish 50 Recap

Photo rip off from "Mr. Most Ultra's in a Season" himself,  Josh Barringer
I got me one these medals in what I have since called the hardest athletic undertaking I  have ever done. Slightly over fifty miles and somewhere near 10,000 feet of climbing, my mantra became one of two things: "every step is progress" or "I get to stop running soon". Fortunately the latter came after 70k and it really was to be soon.

The former began after kilometer 40ish, where the course comes out onto Perth Drive. Prior to that I was cruising mantra-less and absolutely loving the single track likes of Rigz n' Zen, Crouching Squirrel..., Credit Line, 4 Lakes, Made in the Shade, Ed's Bypass, Endo, and Roller Coaster. 

Photo Credit: Glenn Tachiyama - Just off Debecks & into Rigs n' Zen with Pricey. Thanks, Pricey!

As many of you know, Roller Coaster spits you out onto Perth Drive and so begins a kilometer of road running before the flow-sucking parasite that is that f'n bark mulch trail over to the first of too many Fire Service Road (FSR) loops. My mantra got me up "Mount Olympus" to the top of Quest University where I'd see my cheering squad (and Brian McCurdy who's just a swell dude). The 100 meter climb wasn't my favorite, but a necessary evil to reaching my drop bag for the first time. Big smiles from my wife and daughter and huge crowd of half marathon excitees. Coconut water down, a second bottle, a shot of sunscreen, and the most unromantic body glide teste rub of all time. I was off again with a very very temporary renewed existence. Trotting up the FSR with the likes of Adam Campbell and other half marathoners in tow, I dug into my mantra again. Every step is progress when who should come into view, the author of my mantra by Twitter, Mike Palichuk. Smiling ear to ear he sent me across the flank of the the mountain to the dreamiest single-track of the day. Across George's Bridge and the Mashiter FSR to ascend Skookum and descend the Powersmart series, across the road and down Fred's into Word of Mouth. At the end of Word of Mouth, I stayed right and slipped into a trail I'd never run before. It was fabulous and best of all, spit out half way up "Mount Olympus" again to my drop bag. I didn't have to run all the way from the bottom to reach kilometer 58. 

This is when I started to realize how hot it was. McCurdy looked at me and said, "Hot, huh?" And he wasn't talking about himself. I dropped a bottle, misted myself in Kinesys, grabbed some more food, and off I went realizing he was right. It was HOT! I hadn't noticed until he told me how to feel.

As I do in most ultra distance races, I started to focus on segmenting the remainder of my run. FSR and Pseudo Tsuga, FSR to Powerhouse Plunge and into the final aid station of the day. After that came Crumpit Woods and that wasn't even on my mind yet. Nor should it have been. 

Cursing the name Gary Robbins and tootling up that FSR again...YES! AGAIN, the second loop wasn't so bad but dropping into Pseudo Tsuga wasn't as dreamy as I thought it might be. A former old school downhill trail, this thing has been buffed up with smooth flowing corners. What is incredible on a bike however isn't always incredible on legs with 60+ kilometers in them. The descent was tough and I oddly wished for the FSR again as it would lead me to the right this time and up toward the Powerhouse Plunge and my final segment.

It was good to see others suffering here as I passed four runners to find out they had black numbers indicating they were running the full as well. At this point I was looking for anything to bring morale up. With little chat in me I left them behind, cleared the Plunge and started thinking about the final aid station and my journey to the finish. Tired legs or not, the Plunge was wicked. It's fast and turny and technical; just the wake up I needed before seeing my family at the final aid station. A few smiles and cheeky jokes from Ward Beemer, a kiss from Lara, along with two glasses of Coke and off I went into Crumpit Woods. I really worked hard at this section because I knew it would be easy to lay off and walk all the hills. Trouble is there are too many hills and I'd be walking most of it. Running took just about the same amount of effort as did walking anyway so it made sense to push it. I kept thinking, "I'm actually going to finish this and my body is fine". Early on I had expected an injury or something to plague me.  The run down the asphalt of Plateau Drive didn't bother me at all. It was after exiting the Smoke Bluffs parking lot that my eyes started closing. I was starting to fall asleep in mid stride and was talking to myself in order to stay awake right until I crossed the finish line in 9 hours 30 minutes and in 12th place.

By 9 hours and 31 minutes, and still in 12th place,  I was laying on the grass with my very excited daughter feeding me watermelon and flaunting the medal I was given at some point that I don't recall.

My girls fed me sandwiches and Pricey's crew, Mr. McGregor, kept me smiling with his silly banter. (Special thank you to McGregor too, for bringing my lost water bottle to the start line for me). It wasn't long before Pricey came cruising through looking great. Congratulations, Chris. What a brilliant season you've had as you go into your last one next weekend, Meet Your Maker.

Almost two weeks later and after some serious reflection, I'm certain I'd challenge this race again. Gary and Geoff did an outstanding job of showcasing Squamish and making this race an instant classic. I have run/raced 50 miles many times however, and I must say that never has it been as hard. By all accounts this was a very challenging 50. Finishing times were slower than expected even in the top of the field. My greatest relief was hearing Ellie Greenwood say it was one of the harder ones she's done, if not the hardest.

Hard or not, I'm grateful for a full day and the achievement. Cheers to Gary, Geoff, Squamish, and so many Volunteers.

1 comment:

  1. Tardy report or not.. thAT WAS A RAd telling of the story.. I can recall some of the photos i took and which moments they were for you. You should run more races and tell more stories :)

    Funny and true with the mantras... i always remember three main ones.
    1- Relentless Forward Momentum, Gary Robbins.
    2- Hike with intent, Jen Segger.
    3- Run with Heart, Tom Craik(you) repeating back to me what i once told him.

    see you at MYM50.