A few years later…plus a race report!

17 Jan

It’s been awhile.  I’ve finished a Medical Lab Tech program, ran a few ultra marathons, moved to Kimberley, BC, qualified for the Boston Marathon (to run in 2018), and got engaged.  Now that I am running more exciting (in my opinion) races, I thought it would be a good idea to start writing in this blog again as a way to remember these experiences.

Brett (the man), Sam (the dog), and I moved to Kimberley from Edmonton just over a year ago.  Going back to school for 2.5 years was challenging, but it allowed me to get a job in a smaller town and live close to mountains.  Leaving Edmonton was an unexpectedly sad experience for me.  I have some pretty great friends and running groups in that city, and in my excitement to move to the mountains I forgot how difficult it would be to not have those people near me.  Still, moving to Kimberley was the best decision.  We have access to many so running/hiking trails, outdoor and indoor rock climbing, lakes, skiing, etc.


In August I ran my first 100km race- the Black Spur Ultra.
It is a 54/108km race that’s held here in Kimberley.  The 54km race consists of 3 loops, each coming back to the base of the Kimberley Alpine Resort.  The 108km race completes the 54km route twice.  I had a group of friends running the 108k as a relay, so they, along with my fiancé, were there to support me throughout the day.  Each leg starts with a hike up part of the main run of the ski hill.  Leg 1 (16.1km, 886m) starts on the round-the-mountain trail (which is it’s own race in June), but branches left at a cutline, so you can hike straight to the top.  This climb probably lasts for a few km, but once at the top you’re treated to some nice rolling single track and fun downhill for the rest of the leg.  This is the most technical leg in my opinion, and it was also the only part of the course I hadn’t trained on.  This leg wasn’t so bad the first time around. I remember trying to hike fast and run when I could, because I didn’t want to have to run in the dark for too long.  I met a runner who had placed 1st in the 54km race the previous year and ran with her for a few km before taking off on the downhill.  I’m a terrible climber but pretty good on technical downhill.  Since it’s the only place in a race I can ever pass people, I take advantage of any downhill and go as fast as my legs will carry me to make up time. Brett had been out for breakfast with his dad and brother, and I finished this first leg ahead of schedule…. I told my friend who was running the relay to let him know I had been through and took off without spending any time at the first transition.
Leg 2 (18.3km, 674m) heads off in the opposite direction from leg one after the short hike up the ski hill.  It climbs up magic line, which seems like never ending switch backs of a mountain bike trail even though it probably isn’t very long at all.  It was starting to get hot already, and I hate running in the heat. This leg went by relatively quickly.  After reaching the top of the magic line climb,  the trail is mostly runnable and is quite pretty.  Once reaching the aid station there is a fun mostly downhill section on mr. toad.  The challenging part of this leg is when you cut left onto a not so well traveled trail and have to run mostly flat or slightly uphill for a few km.  Luckily I met a runner along this stretch and chatting with him helped these boring km go by a little faster.  He was from the Crowsnest Pass and was running the 54k.  Eventually on this leg you reach creek trail, a short but sweet shaded section that actually has some water (most of the trail is pretty dry).   This leads you back to the nordic trails where there’s just one noticeably long uphill, followed by mostly flat back to the transition.
Leg 3 (19.4km, 670km) is probably my favourite leg.   Once through the nordic trails, it heads up myrtle mountain (runnable when not in the middle of an ultra), but then there’s a nice long downhill stretch for a few km- first on single track, and then a wider dirt trail/road. At the end of the downhill there’s another aid station to chill at before heading up sunflower hill.  The rest of this leg feels heavy on the uphill.  I actually  have no memory of running this leg, but it probably sucked because I know I felt very terrible starting leg 4.


I think this was the end of leg 3

Before heading back out on leg 4/1 I attempted to eat some of a grilled cheese sandwich (which worked for me at the Iron Legs 50 miler), and chugged a lot of coke.  This was a mistake, and I felt very nauseous for a long time.  I couldn’t run any of leg 4 until I reached the top of the climb.  At this point my friend had texted me to let me know I was somehow first female, which was both exciting and stressful.  The thing I like most about ultras is that you can take your time and not worry about your pace as much as in a road race.  Now I felt pressure to keep moving as fast as I could…. which was not fast at all.   I didn’t see many people during the second half of the race, and my brain kept trying to come up with reasons to drop out.  It was way too hot, my shirt was crusted with salt from sweating so much, and I couldn’t eat anything.  I was drinking about 1.5L of water every 10km.  I don’t remember much from leg 5, aside from some mountain biker volunteers and high fiving the first place male as he was on his way back to the transition.  Leg 6 was when I finally needed a headlamp.  At first the darkness was a little creepy, but eventually I stopped thinking about bears and cougars and ghosts, and enjoyed running at a comfortable temperature.  At the last aid station in the race a couple of girls from run club were volunteering, and so I had my first sit down of the day.   After a couple of ginger chews, and learning that I was still in first place, I took off to finish the race.  I heard someone entering the aid station as I was hiking up sunflower hill for the last time, and was scared it was the second place female (it hadn’t been).   For the last 9k I managed a rotation of running for 20 seconds, walking for 10 seconds, while listening to Trail Runner Nation podcast on mental toughness.
And then, after running/hiking/walking for 16 hours, 41 minutes and 10 seconds,  it was over.  I finished just before 1am, and unlike my arrival at the transition for every other leg, it was dark and quiet, with just a few people waiting at finish line.  Somehow I finished 4th overall, and 1st female.  Also, thanks to this being only the second year of the race, I get to hold a course record.  I’m sure it’ll get crushed this summer, but until then I will enjoy seeing my name on the website as holding the course record for the 108km race.




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