Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dirty Feet Fun at Sun Peaks

Last weekend I ran my 9th race this year (14 if you count the 6 TransRockies stages separately): The North Face Dirty Feet 50km at Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops. It was also my 5th Dirty Feet race. And I turned 35 just over a week ago. How's that for numbers.

If you've read any of my previous Dirty Feet race reports, you know that I'm a fan of these events. Race directors, Grace and Phil, do a fantastic job of of creating scenic courses on trails that are challenging yet runnable and always extremely well marked. I also like the low key nature of these races. They feel more like a supported group run with friends.

Because Dave had to work on Friday, I got a ride to Sun Peaks with a couple of friends who were doing the 50km relay so that was fun. Then I met my parents at the resort where we were stayed at my aunt and uncle's new condo. I was having such a nice time visiting with everyone, I kind of forgot about racing altogether.

Staying just 5 minutes from the race start was great as it meant that I didn't have to get up too early. I had a solid sleep but then difficulties finishing my breakfast and while I didn't think much of it at the time, it was the first sign that something wasn't right with my tummy.

Sure enough, 5km into the race, my stomach started hurting and I felt like I was going to be sick. I decided it was just the climbing (16km off the start!) and things would settle down once the trail flattened out a bit. It didn't and I struggled with GI issues for the rest of the day. So it goes. At least I got some practice romiting (running+vomiting) and didn't get any on me. (For a girl who can barely spit on the run without dribbling down her chin, that's significant.)

The course was a cloverleaf design, which meant numerous opportunities to see my parents and friends in the transition area (for the relay). Getting support along the course is always appreciated, especially when you're feeling crappy. There were four legs in the relay so that's how I broke down the course in my head.

The first leg started with a brief jaunt through the village and then a little ways up Mt. Morrisey, back down to the village and then up to mid mountain. The most beautiful section in my opinion was the second leg which was all up in the alpine around Mt. Todd with amazing views in every direction. What goes up must come down and that's what we did in the third leg for almost 15km to arrive back in the village from mid mountain. The last leg went up and down Mt. Morrisey on a mix of single and double track trails. Total elevation gain and loss over the whole course was 6100 feet or just over 1860 meters.

By that final leg, I had nothing left. Having consumed less than 300 calories for the whole race (most of which came back up) I was just trying to make it to the finish line. As I neared the top of Mt. Morrisey, about 8km from the finish, I saw someone approaching me from behind. I had been expecting it to happen for awhile as I had been walking much of the climb - clutching my volatile stomach - but was still bummed when it happened, especially when I saw it was another woman.

Having held the lead for over 40km, I was reluctant to give it up so close to the finish so I tried to pick up the pace a bit and hoped my mediocre downhill running skills would be enough. I was able to hold my position but didn't gain any time. Every time I glanced over my shoulder, this other woman was still there.

Finally, we reached the flats just 2km from the finish and I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach so I had to slow down. The other woman pulled up alongside me and we chatted briefly. She mentioned having fallen and gotten lost on the second leg, which confirmed to me that she was a solo runner and not on a relay team. When I asked her, she said that no, she was on a team with her brother. Whew! As she took off, I wished her well and told her I'd see her at the finish. I then walked most of the last kilometre.

It definitely wasn't my prettiest race, but I finished and somehow managed to place first amongst the ladies and third overall (results here). I still don't know why my stomach was so upset. I've been meaning to experiment with more real foods in training and racing so this experience has certainly motivated me to get on it.

I'd intended to do the ultra on Saturday and the 16km mountain race on Sunday, however, based on how I felt Saturday, I decided not to do the second race. Instead, I hung out in the village with my parents and cheered on Dave, who came up Saturday afternoon and did the mountain race (and placed second!).

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