Well…….when I woke to the sight of snow everywhere and winds at 23kms per hour from the North East….I honestly wanted to crawl back in to bed! that’s the beautiful thing about a goal though – it reminds you of what needs to be done, and sleeping in has nothing to do with it. I have learned in all my years racing, that I can crawl across the finish line beaten, or I can sprint across the finish line in joy and celebration – the choice is mine, every day, every training session. Missed training sessions cannot be made up, the schedule is too tight, and time is not my friend.
Having spent 2 hours last night prepping all of the gear I might need, and creating a spreadsheet of info for Lyle to follow as our crew and roving aid station, all I had to do was load the truck…..once I chipped the inch of ice off of it and found a door handle.
Arriving at the gym, Steve wasn’t there yet – and I sat in the truck, enjoying the heated seat, while texting him the message “Honestly…..should we try again tomorrow?” Steve arrived a few minutes later and we talked a little, but both knew that Monday was not a viable option for either of us, or Lyle.
So we bundled up, did our warm up drills and stated running. Neither one of us is a stranger to running in the winter, we have been running together for 4 plus years in all sorts of weather. Still….it was the first blizzard of the year and it was bloody cold. We ran west with the wind biting our right side for 19kms. I wore gloves that were too thin, and my good ones with wind protection were in the wash (dumb). After about 10kms I couldn’t feel my fingers and my thumbs were starting to burn painfully. I had been trying all sorts of things to warm them up – with no luck. Steve began to fiddle with his jacket and as we ran – he handed me his gloves. He insisted that his sleeves in his new running coat were really long, and that he could tuck his hands in, and would be fine. I protested, but he would have none of it. So I accepted his gloves. It didn’t make a difference, until I pulled all of my fingers out of the glove section and just made a fist inside the glove – so all of my fingers were touching each other. I blew on my hands repeatedly and shook them to improve blood flow and eventually, they warmed up. Steve insisted he was fine, and that his jacket sleeves were doing the trick. One problem solved.
Our feet were another matter: the slush we were running in, plus the harsh wind had our socks soaked and our feet cold. Regardless of all that, we talked and joked and carried on running our 5 minute pace, happy to be heading towards our first meeting point with Lyle at km 20.
Just prior to that, running on Highway 11 was brutal! Big trucks and lots of traffic. People not slowing down a bit for the weather, or the two idiots on the side of the road. Several people tried to move over a bit for us and that put their tire in fresh slush – giving a massive spray that actually knocked us back when it hit. thankfully that section of highway was only about 3kms and we turned left onto RR30, heading blissfully south and to Lyle’s waiting truck a half a click up the road!
Warmer gloves, dry coat, electrolytes, a gel, a half a hammer bar and one each of Hammer Anti Fatigue and Endurance Amino capsules and we were off! Feet still soaked, but the road still very slushy, so why change now….?
It was really great to run with the wind at our backs and unbelievably, we actually got too warm a few times. We saw the plow truck off in the distance and soon the road was more clear. At 32kms, we changed into dry socks and dry shoes – heaven!! RR 30 is also a nearly deserted highway, so that was awesome!
Each hour we kept up with our energy expenditure by taking in a Hammer gel, Endurance Amino and an Anti Fatigue cap, plus a half banana and a half a Hammer Bar at Lyle’s well stocked truck. Add to that the constant intake of Infinit electrolytes (Scott’s Factor 9 custom blend) and we had energy to spare, happy stomachs and a great run!
At about 40kms we had run out of road and turned right, towards Spruceview on the main highway. Once again we were facing much higher traffic volume and that north wind. After a pit stop at the Co-op for Steve while I checked on our route options, it became clear that heading west was our only route worth taking. We had told Lyle to head south towards Dickson, but it turns out that road ends after 2.5kms – so that wasn’t nearly long enough. We headed out against the plan, knowing that once we didn’t show up on the Dickson road at our usual stop time, Lyle would come looking.
He did. As the final kms ticked by, and we braced against the icy slush blast from big trucks going by, and danced in the shoulder in slushy guck when traffic was going both ways and we knew folks couldn’t pull over for us, I noticed the conversation had pretty much ended.
This was my 3rd time at this distance and Steve’s 1st. Usually we chat a fair bit, but between 48 and 60kms we didn’t say much. By this time, we both hurt a lot and energy wasted talking just didn’t seem relevant. So we just ran.
For me, I was happy with some things and working to figure out the pain of other things, On the happy side, my foot was stable and only a normal sore, same as my other foot. Huge plus considering a few short months ago I was ready to give up my whole season due to a foot injury. So that was good. On the tough side, all my biking has caused my hip flexors, psoas and illiacus muscles and tendons to be super tight, and as my run stride fatigued, all of these elements tightened. As my front of legs and hips tightened, it shortened my stride length, making it harder and harder to maintain pace. It hurt when my legs pushed back, and it hurt like hell to lift them through and forward, so that pretty much sucked.
Icy wind, cold slush, crazy traffic, excruciating feet, super painful legs, and cold, but apart from that, a great run! At times like this, it is critical to stay focused on the goal. Kona. Imagine Steve: His goal was just to help me. What a guy!!!
We joked in the beginning at how fast the kms ticked by as my watch beeped and vibrated every km. Not so any more. I dared not look at my watch, cause I knew it was creeping along. I would think ‘wait…just wait……ok, it’s gotta be 52.5 kms by now…’ [look at the watch, see 52.2kms]. ‘damn…..just keep running.’
Lyle was leap frogging us at 4kms – around 20 to 25 minutes of running. Often in the late miles – that was our focus – run until we see Lyle’s truck. That was huge. We could usually see it a km or more ahead, and we could just keep going that little bit more.
Lyle was great too! Enthusiastic, great energy, he would always find a good spot, point the nose of the truck at the wind so we had shelter at the back lift gate (he drives a Toyota Forerunner), he would even trample down the slush and snow so we didn’t have to stand in wet glop. Awesome!
Pretty soon We got to repeat one of our favorite long run joke lines “Aw heck, we can jump from here!”. A throwback to a very old joke about a parachutist who refuses to open his chute until he is a few feet from the ground. It’s a joke I told as a kid, and I shared it with Steve years ago, and now we say it all the time when we are nearly done a super long run.
Eventually we made it: 60kms. 60.24 to be exact. We got to Lyle’s truck, stretched a bit and he drove us back to Sylvan – which took 45 minutes. It took us 6 hours and 24 minutes to run it…..no wonder we drive.
After a hot tub, lots of stretching, good food and a good night’s rest – I am happy to report that I feel 100% as of Monday night. Had a great Chiropractic session today, (my chiro was super impressed at my body’s response, as was I) followed by a Hyperbaric Oxygen session and I feel GREAT!
Race day in under 5 weeks…..
This article was written by scott