Monday, 26 August 2013

Meet Your Maker 50mi Race Preview: The 2013 plan.

Frisby Ridge, Revelstoke: A lot of climbing.....

After a solid couple of weeks of vacation in the interior (Kamloops and Osoyoos), I absolutely feel underprepared for the 2013 Meet Your Maker 50 mile ultra. In a bit of haste, my brother in law signed us up last year as soon as registration opened: he wanted to finish the race that he could not, due to some serious blisters; I was down with conquering this ultra for a second time, this time with more preparation. *My race report from last year is here.

My 2013 MYM 50 training began last December, and was going great even up until the Knee Knacker, albeit was a bit stunted due to a love affair with my road bike in May and June....and July and August.

Hell, after Knee Knacker, I was done with running for over a month. My body wanted nothing to do with it. In fact, I JUST started to feel like I could fly in my trail runners without pain in my right foot from the KK. About two weeks ago in Kamloops I managed to run pain free with a couple of 18k runs in Kenna Cartwright Park/ Mount Dufferin. Those trails had me running tempo and getting some high heart rate reps in. Interval training on the trails and feeling like a rockstar. Throw in a 45km mountain bike ride up to Frisby Ridge in Revelstoke and I was feeling pretty good about my fitness. Here are the pics, even if they are unrelated to MYM:

Playing hooky from the run. Biking with beautiful vistas....

a dip in the alpine lake at the end of the trail....

rippin' with brother Aaron, Jeff Ferguson, and Nick Gill....

close-up action! I really should be running.

Then came vacation. This year's vacation took place in the USA on Lake Osoyoos in Oroville, Washington August 17-25. Eight days of food, beer, more beer, and more food. Zero running, zero biking. Zero workouts. I managed to get sick with a slight sinus thing. The vacation with the family is not conducive to ultra marathon training, but is conducive to making awesome memories.

Which brings me to the 2013 Meet Your Maker. Having burned a huge match with the KK, my recovery was slow and painful. Not enough sufficient training for MYM has left me thinking about about the coming months and what I want to achieve. I have the Victoria Marathon in October, five weeks after MYM. I start a Masters in Education program at SFU for the next two years this September. I would like to do some cyclocross races, and even more cross country running races. And, work begins again in September.

With all of that upcoming, and the experience from last year's MYM50 fresh in my mind (which included the month of recovery and night after night of night sweats), it has been decided between me and Brother-in-law Sean (the other half of Team Sugoi) that we will start the race, run the first 30 kms of it, and abandon at Base 2 on Blackcomb. DNF right before the race gets really, really challenging.

Last year completing it in 12 hours was a modest finish, something I was sure that I could trim down to 10 and change. However, I feel that I have not done my homework for this race, and the punishment after it is over lasts a long, long time. As Jimmy Dean Freeman says on Trail Runner Nation "if a race is 30 miles, recovery is 30 days. If a race is 50 miles, recovery is 50 days." This little quote held true for me after the Knee Knacker 30mi.

The Course Preview: Coles Notes Version

This is a strange thing: why would I enter a race that I will intentionally DNF? Why even bother? If you have not done the course before, it is not nearly as difficult or technically challenging as the Knee Knacker which is a total kick in the legs, head and crotch--a full body beat down. However, that is to say that the MYM is hardly easy; the MYM grinds you down due to the length, and elevation gain from the climbs at the mid point and at kilometer 60 onward. Running steadily and evenly paced is the key to finishing and feeling good. (Edit: Every runner who finishes should feel spent after this one, and not good at all.)

Out to Wedgemount the first 10k are a snap. Back on Comfortably Numb, the following 20k are probably the most technically challenging, yet stimulating and most fun of the ultra. The race does not begin in earnest until Base 2--the ascent up Blackcomb. This is a long slug that reduces a person to a walk/ power hike. After the Peak to Peak, the decent down Whistler is quad thrashing. I witnessed a couple of female racers crash hard on the ski runs down to Creekside.

On the way out to Function Junction is where developing a rhythm to the run is necessary. This is also another scenic part of the race. It is technical, but short at about 11k. Crossing Function Junction and Climbing on the west side of the 99 is where things get really mentally challenging, as well as when fatigue sets in. A key tip for first timers is to keep lifting your feet--the roots have a nasty habit of biting you if you get lazy. And if you get lazy, you will go down. The stretch between 50k and 70k is a hard go as it seems never ending.

The final 10k are just plain mean. Weaving through the lost lake trails, it seems as though the course just might be coming to an end right around the corner....until...they managed to find yet another trail to run in the forest. The finish seems like it may never come, but staying mentally tough, feeding and drinking (not too much drinking--Tim Noakes tells me that dehydration is a natural body mechanism--so don't drink too much) and staying on your feet should allow you to make it to the end in one piece, inside the 2013 time cut of 15 hours--2 hours longer than last year.

The 2013 MYM 50 should have many, many more finisher this year than last due to the extended time cut. Last year only half of the solo runners finished the race. The organizers obviously want more to finish this year.

I will not be one of them this year, and am happy for it!

With the pressure off, I am excited to go out and run, have some fun, and hit the beach for the remainder of the day in Whistler before hitting up the wrap up party. I am happy to use this as part of my training for the fall, and then promptly retire (for the short term) from races over 50k.

I realize that in order to complete an ultra and feel good, I need to stay healthy and uninjured, space my ultras out (the Knee Knacker completion is too close to doing the MYM  in order to finish feeling strong and healthy), and run more than I have, using the ultra as a focal point in my season rather than just another race. I am not ready for another 50 mile race, and will have to take the next year preparing in order to be strong enough to be happy with a solid, steady, and fast performance.

That means cutting out trying to BQ the Vancouver Marathon, PR 10k races, and dedicate myself to specific ultra run training--that means hitting the mountains a tonne. I am down with that--hitting the mountains.

No more summertime flings with my bike if I want to be serious about running ultras.

I don't really want to be serious about running ultras, at this point in my life.

DNF'ing a Race

I say this now, but I have only DNF'd from one race-- the Cardiac Classic on SFU. That was due to a flu. I registered, got sick, tried to do it, and pulled out. Races that I have been pulled from (criteriums) or had mechanicals at (cyclocross nationals 2012) I don't like to count because although they are DNF's, I did not chose to pull the plug myself. So chalk me up for one DNF, when it really is about 4 in total.

I suppose there is no shame in DNF'ing a race. A premeditated, pre-planned DNF? Is there a difference?

I may get into the run and feel great and keep on going up Blackcomb. We shall see. I am a competitive dude. I do not like the idea of pulling the pin. But I like to think of this as pulling the pin to save myself from myself, and leaving to fight another day.

Sunday is six days away. My second MYM50 is around the corner.

Pre-race prep from last year's MYM 50.  A bit of overkill due to the fully stocked aid stations.