35km of grit!

Hi guys! I hope you had a good weekend. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. That’s because last weekend I ran in the Sinister7 relay. I made the road trip down to Crowsnest pass on Thursday, stopping in Calgary overnight. In the process my roommate and I found a place to live! That is such a relief and now I can start looking for a part-time job.

We lucked out and had great weather for the race. It was a bit windy, but I welcomed it during my leg as I started around 11:30am. I ran leg 3 called Willoughby ridge, which started in Blairmore and made a big loop coming back to where I started. My leg was the only leg that ended in the same spot it started in. It was rated a 7 out of 7 for difficulty and has an elevation gain and loss of 1327m.

While I was waiting for our leg 2 runner to come in I realized I needed to pee one last time, so I took a chance and ran to the porta potties. Of course she came in before I got back, murphy’s law. We had a little chip we had to carry on our leg that we passed on to the next runners. They put the chip in my camelbak for me, so it was ready to go when I got back.

The start of my run was totally deflating because I head to head straight up a dirt and grass hill then turn left and head up a windy gravel road. I didn’t even make it 10 minutes before I had to stop and walk. The two people ahead of me were doing the same thing so I didn’t feel so bad. I knew I had to conserve my energy for the 35km ahead. After a significant climb on the road we did more climbing on trail. Then we went back down. I remember thinking “why are we going down already, I know we have more climbing to do.” I also knew that I would have to climb back up this section at the end. Once down there was a bit of a flat section with some smaller rolling hills, then we were climbing again.

Shortly after I passed the first aid station I looked at my watch. It had taken me an hour to do 8km. Right then and there I knew there was no way I finish in 4 hours like predicted. The team had to predict our finishing times at the dinner the night before, I hadn’t been able to make it on time so the team predicted 4 hours for me. I was thinking 4 to 4 and 1/2 hours. Shortly after passing the first aid station I came a cross a runner lying on his stomach in the dirt with another guy crouched next to him holding a radio. The guy on the ground appeared to be hallucinating. He was yelling “There is no heaven or hell, yes there is a heaven and hell I saw the devil!” The night before one of the girls husbands asked why we run and we had been joking for the high and hallucinations. As I ran by this guys I told myself it had just been a joke and I wasn’t going to hallucinate. I told myself he was just undertrained or dehydrated.

I started to climb again and came through the remains of the lost creek fire in 2003. It was a totally different landscape and did make a person feel like their on a different planet. Once I made it to the top of this section we started to go down a bit again. By this point my legs were getting tired and I had to be careful of my footing. Soon we were climbing again. I ran into a guy running in vibram five finger shoes and talked with him for a stretch. He said he ran this leg last year and had a lot of IT band issues, but as soon as he ran in the vibram five fingers his pain disappeared. He did say his heel was getting a bit raw and he was going to stop at the second aid station to put some bodyglide on it.

Once we finished that climb we reached the aid station at the half-way point. I checked my watch and saw that I had done 17.5 km in 2 hours and 20 minutes. Definitely not making it in at 4 hours. This aid station I stopped at and refilled my camelbak as it was almost empty and had some electrolytes. I also pulled out my camera and asked one of the guys there to take my picture.

Once I had my camera back in my camelbak I was off again. Now we were on a road and guess what? We were climbing again. I just kept telling myself one foot in front of the other. There was no way you could run the hills, it was too much. So everytime it the trail flattened out or went downhill I forced myself to run, near the end it was more like a shuffle. Once we made it to the top of the road we entered a new section of trail they didn’t have last year. We started going down first and here my legs were really feeling tired. I stumbled a couple of times, but fortunately caught myself and didn’t fall. Then we were climbing again. I was passing a lot of people during this section, including one soloist that I noticed. Yes that’s right some people run the whole 148km themselves. During the race I was thinking to myself “Why the hell did I sign up for a marathon next month? I’m not running a marathon, that’s stupid. I’ll change it to the half.” Yeah it was that damn hard. A couple hours after I finished my leg I realized a marathon would be easier than what I’d just ran. So the marathon was back on, I was actually excited for it because it would feel like a piece of cake after what I’d just went through.

I got to a marshy section that had some smaller rolling hills again. If it hadn’t been so warm the couple weeks before the race I would have gotten my feet wet during this section. Once through the marshy section I was back to the starting section I recognized. I checked my watch and I was at 3 hours and 45 minutes. Hmmm, could I do this last part in 15 minutes? I wasn’t sure. Then I hit the hills again. It took everything I had to keep moving up those things. I was taking little steps at this point and just kept pushing forward. Finally, finally when I made it to the top and started to head back down ont he trail I willed myself to run again. This part was longer than I remembered and once I got onto the gravel road it was also longe rthan I remembered. Coming down that gravel road my quads felt pulverized, my toes were sore, and my calves were hurting. My worst nightmare was tripping on my way down that grass and dirt hill in front of everyone. Luckily my feet didn’t embarrass me and I made it down without wiping out. I ran across the field to where our leg 4 runner was and handed her the chip after sticking it in the sensor. I didn’t stop my watch right away, but I finished in about 4 hours and 18 minutes. I was happy with that. Still smiling! That’s my team minus our leg 4 runner. After I stretched and had something to eat I made my way to the outdoor swimming pool in Blairmore where Sin7 runners were allowed free showers. Then it was back to the campground to wait for our leg runner to come in and to send off our leg 5 runner. The leg 5 runner came in after it had gotten dark, so the girl doing legs 6 and 7 had to do them all in the dark. We met her at the finish around 2am. Our team finished in 19:17:36, putting us in 63 rd place out of about 114 teams.
The next day as we stiffly sat around camp, we were already planning whose running which leg for next year. My choice is either leg 1, leg 2, leg 1 and 2, or leg 5. I’m too scared to do leg 6 and 7 in the dark yet!

On another note I may not be running distance next year. I am 98% sure I won’t be running my marathon in August and 60% sure I won’t be running long distance anymore. I’ll explain why in another post.

Back to work tomorrow. I can’t believe I only have 3 weeks of work left and next week is the only full week!


About richelleludwig

Food Freedom Coach and 200HR RYT
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