Last weekend I headed north to run the Haliburton Forest 100 Miler. As Kieran had just been through a rough week, we decided that Rochelle should stay home and look after him. This meant that I would need to drive myself to and from the race. To be honest, I felt that I should stay home as well, but Rochelle steadfastly refused to let that happen.
With a stressful week and a half at work with accelerated deadlines (plus Kieran’s struggles), I was feeling mentally wiped by the time I arrived in Haliburton. I’d also been through two weeks of ankle soreness from a nasty sprain that occurred on my last long run, so I wasn’t sure how my body would hold up on the run.
When I arrived at the forest, I decided to sleep in my car rather than set up my tent, as I figured I would be warmer inside the car and wouldn’t have to pack up my tent after. Well, I froze in the car but did appreciate the easy pack up later.
Although it would be a strange day for me, race morning started well. As I was chatting with some other runners before the start, I noticed that Derrick had arrived to cheer on his clients and friends. I figured that he’d show up, so I wasn’t surprised to see him. I’m sure his clients really appreciated him coming, as did Keith who benefited from his pacing duties later in the race.
During the race, I experienced little difficulty for the first 42 K. The trail conditions were quite muddy, but it was a beautiful day and I felt optimistic about my race. I felt good early on and expected to have a great day. I also enjoyed spending time with David, who was running his first 50 miler.
Just after the 25 mile turnaround, however, a wave of fatigue just hit me and I lost the willpower to keep running. No cramps, no soreness, I just couldn’t get my body to run. It was actually a bit spooky. I think I hit the 42 K mark somewhere around 4:17-4:26, so I certainly wasn’t pushing the pace too much.
When I stopped running, I decided just to hike back to the 50 mile turnaround and call it a day. I was nervous about driving home tired (if I did the 100), and I also noticed that the bracelet I wear with Kieran’s name on it had fallen off somewhere on the trail, so I started worrying about my family as well.
I couldn’t figure out what was going on with my body. I kept hoping that at some point, I’d be able to start running again and then I could get back into the race.
Just before Aid Station #2, I saw Veronique who was hoping to finish her first 50 Miler in under 11 hours, so I started running with her to help push her along. When we hit the 50-mile mark in under 10:45, I decided to keep going since I was finally able to run again.
About 6 K later on the Normac Trail, I had a standoff with a bear. I’d nearly run into him on the trail (he was running away from people farther off in the opposite direction), so I surprised him a bit and he scampered off the trail a few yards before turning around to face me. He didn’t want to back off and was growling at me. I kept talking to him and backing up slowly until I moved out of sight. After a few minutes, Stephan and another runner arrived and we proceeded along the trail together. The bear had disappeared, but would emerge later to play with some other runners (see Keith’s report).
By the time we got moving again, I was back to the powerhiking. I just couldn’t will myself to run despite the fact that my legs felt fine physically. After I reached the 75-mile mark, I just didn’t want to hike anymore. Although I had over 12 hours left to finish the final 25 miles, I just didn’t want to do it. If I had a ride home later, I might have kept going, but this just wasn’t the race I’d trained for. Sure, I could have finished the 100 miles under the time limit, but I didn’t come to Haliburton to hike 75 miles of a 100-mile running race. And I knew I needed to catch some Zzzz’s before driving home, so didn’t want to spend the whole night walking in the dark.
During the race, I had no nutrition problems (ate a gel every 20 mins plus snacked at aid stations) and stayed on top of hydration (1-2 S-Caps every hour). I also had no feet issues (wore La Sportiva Crosslites), despite the soul-sucking mud.
I’m not sure what happened to me, but my head and body just weren’t into this race. I’m not angry or disappointed or filled with any regret about quitting. Just a bit confused about the whole thing. It was a very strange day for me.
After a few hours sleep in the car, I felt pretty good Sunday morning. I had a nice breakfast at the cookhouse with Keith and then watched the final runners finish their race with Keith, Jenn and Derrick. With a 30-hour cutoff, it was exciting to see some of the runners finish with minutes (even seconds) left to spare. Congratulations to all the runners who finished such a challenging (and muddy) course this year.
It’s been a few days now, so it’s time to look ahead. I’m in decent shape, my body feels pretty good, I’ve still got my drop bags packed and I’ve got this 100-mile monkey on my back. I figure I should just run another 100-mile race as soon as possible and get it done. Thankfully, the Virgil Crest 100 Miler is happening seven days from now in northern New York and Rochelle’s fine with me going. Derrick and Sara are heading down, so I’m catching a lift with them in Floyd the Forester.
Update: Still feeling exhausted, so have decided not to run Virgil Crest.