Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I DNF'd and I'm totally fine with it

It's the race that's heralded the start of the spring races for me these past three years. Although its been held on a different route each year, this year's format of running 6.5km loops seemed to spell success. It was Wascally Wrabbit race day. My brother had a fit of insanity on the previous Monday (I figured) when he readily agreed to run this 50k with me. I was anxious the whole week, worrying about not getting enough rest, the odd pains I was feeling in different spots on my legs, and concern for the incredible elevation gains the race route boasted...all typically pre-race worries. Come Saturday morning though I was focused and ready to do this thing! The race field was smaller this year after a longer than normal winter left many runners undertrained. We all waited inside the community building as long as possible to stay warm before heading to the start line. Jodi (the race organzier) held a moment of silence for a runner who passed away during a race the previous fall, Josh Grady. Once we noted where we could see Josh's memorial Jodi signalled for us to GO! The local trail running group took off ahead of the rest of us as my brother and I hung back, saving our energy. Not 400 meters into the race we made a sharp right turn and began to climb (literally, hands and feet) up this huge hill. The hill had a 40% grade for about 750 meters. I grabbed trees and rocks and tried to scramble my way up as fast as I could. My brother-the ever joker-was a bit ahead and took the opportunity to make me laugh my doing his best LOTR impressions. Once we got to the top we ran/hopped a single track cut out of the brush that covered the top of the hill. We zig-zagged around, jumping and slidding until we came to "the rope." I just stood there for a second, looking at it. It stretched about 20 feet above me, a shear rockface with a single rope to help. At this point (only 2 kms into the race mind you), I knew my 50k was not going to happen. I knew that after each loop all of this was going to get harder and harder (and muddier)and I seriously doubted I could haul my butt up this rope 8 times. I didn't tell my brother that, he was in such good spirits and really thought we could manage the 50k even though it was clear the route was not going to let us accomplish that. After the rope we ran along some more brush until we got to a swamp of fallen bleached trees and thick (suck your shoe off) mud. We ran as quickly as we could hopping and trying not to fall. After a few hundred meters we came to a dirt trail, that was for the most part, quite runnable for about 1.5km. Then we hit the grassy section that was probably an old riverbed since these small loose boulders were everywhere and finding sure footing was very tricky. I was kind of worried I would twist an ankle but thankfully neither my brother or I did. Eventually we got to the bottom and hit the 1.5km dirt road back to the check point, finishing our first loop in 1 hour and 12 minutes (more than 20 minutes slower than my usual 6.5km time!). In the end we managed 5 loops of the trail, finishing just before the cut-off of 8 hours, coming in at 7:30 (clearly we got slower as the day wore on!). In total we ran 32kms, just 18kms short of my goal, but I did accomplish two things; I showed my brother the trail community is awesome and he agreed to run a more "sane" 50km race with me this summer in Prince Edward Island (the Brookvale Ultra). Did I accomplish my 50k goal? Nope, but that's okay. I had a great time (the best I think in 3 years) and did manage to get in some serious trail training while surprising myself that I could haul myself up a rope! But the best take-away for me is that my DNF has given me the fuel to train hard and eat well before this next race in about 10 weeks.

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