Sandpaper Socks & Black Flies

The joys of my first multisport race http://www.ultimatexc.com/ultimatexc.html in the beautiful ski resort of Mont Tremblant Quebec, was full of encouraging volunteers, great venue, food, friends and sandpaper socks and black flies.  You gotta take the good with the bad.  That’s what multisport and adventure racing, I am learning, is all about.
Two years ago the Ultimate XC event was a running only event.  Where I did the 58km trail run. Then called the 50k, but it really wasn’t.  But that is another story, which you can read about on my blog under the tag wandAR, with the title “What the?  Did I just do an Ultra?”

 

The new format created last year consists of kayaking on Friday, trail running on Saturday and mountain biking on Sunday.  If you do all three you are part of the challenger events.  Seeing as I have yet to be in a kayak I decided to simply do the running and mountain biking events.  And although I am more trained then last (as vowed by the end of last year’s blog post) I didn’t know how I’d feel doing the 58km and then a 50km mountain bike the next day.  So I opted for the 35km trail run and the 50km mountain bike.

 

Getting to Mont Tremblant and into our condo was the first challenge.  Just not used to those nutty round abouts. Choose every direction, heading at one point to the Cirque Mont Tremblant.  Finally the last option as the right one.  A little trouble finding the hotel.  Tiny said, “If the race course is marked as badly as the town, this race is over.”  However, we found it and even with out a key managed to get into the condo and off to bed.

 

Saturday June 18th, 2011 35km Trail run:
Got up early, but not as early as the 58kers to register.  Saw a friend napping on a chair waiting to see if she could get a late entry.  It was great to find out that two other people were doing the 35km length too.
Got my registration and headed down to the street to she the 58kers run past.
The 35km race started at 9a.m. so had time to head back, eat my oatmeal, coffee and banana, change and head back to the race start.

 

In the pocket of my hydration pack I placed the following pace guide and motivation sayings:

 

 

I know pacebands don’t work the same for trails as they do for roads.  However, knowing the route I felt I had a good idea of how fast things would take me.  Plus I really like having my geeky affirmations near me when I am running a tough race.

 

In case you didn’t read the blog mentioned below the Ed line is in reference to how energetic one would be even if Ed Mcmahon came to your door telling you that your won the sweepstakes.  Taken from the book “V.E.A.R. Towards Success” by Mike Caldwell.

 

With those this is my pocket, my hydration system full and snacks in my pockets I was ready.  I was a little disappointed when I was already 5 minutes of my time at the first aid station.  Especially since I knew I made that time two years ago, without any training.  Humph!  Onwards and in this case downwards to the water.  Actually the next 4km to the water was a great fast run in lots of great winding trail.  Although I was getting a little frustrated when I a women wearing road runners passed me.  Also it was so strange to have so little racers around.  Two years there were  a lot more racers and the 58km and 35km started at the same time.
However, by the time I got to the river there was only a half dozen of us together.
At first I was really relieved for the water that in some places was chest height, as it soothed my aching ankle.  A tendon strain I have been dealing with for over a month now.
Unfortunately, my relief didn’t last long.  There were a couple of mucky sections that had to be crossed between the water wading sections.  As they had already been trampled by the 58km group and the top half of the 35km group I sunk in pretty deep.  I started cursing that I should have done the longer course just to avoid this, as my one leg sunk to almost my knee.  As I tried to wiggle it out my other leg went to above the knee.  A very helpful racers from Gatineau, Lees gave me her hand and tried to help me.  But it wasn’t working, so I let go and started to dig my way out.  As I dug the muck away more just feel around my leg.  I felt like I was in a episode of Giligan’s Island and falling in quicksand.  I finally waved Lees off and told her, “Just go, safe yourself.”  She responded with and adamant, “No.  I may need you later.”
Sounds like something out “Saving Private Ryan” or “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
Lees instructed me to pull my thigh up with my hands.  That worked and we moved forward.
Luckily I was back in the water and all clean again.
Now the water was not muddy by sandy at the bottom and my old, holy, Salomon shoes began to fill with sand.
As I reached to rocky, shallow, creek running.  I use running very loosely.  It felt like I was wearing sandpaper for socks.  The slippery and unpredictable rocks wreaked havoc on my ankle with every misstep, and there were lots of those.

 

Knowing the course helped as I just kept repeating that once this creek run was done it was my race.

 

Finally, I saw the camera man at the end of creek and headed up to the aid station.  The universe was on my side as on the table someone had left a bottle of advil.  I couldn’t find mine so I took one.  Phew.  Got to my drop bag, and although wouldn’t ordinarily change my foot wear, in this case I had to.  Fresh shoes, socks and many sprays of deets I was off to finish this off.  I was 20min off my time and knew that next 20km would have two big climbs.

 

Some how I was able to pass about a half dozen people on the ups.  Which is really not my forte.  Then another dozen on the down.  The downs were awesome and I really felt I was flying.  I just strive of on those technical downs, even when I smash my foot against a rock, creating two blood blisters.

 

Winding my way down and into the village.  To get to the finish line just minutes before my goal time and with a crowd of people still there.  Which was the greatest thing.  So much better than last year.  Actually could walk and even run after.  As well as enjoy some shopping and dinner with friends, old and new.

 

Finished in 5:13:18.  71/108 overall, 13/25 women.  First place time 3:20:35, last place time 7:05:03.

 

Off to prep and sleep for tomorrow.

 

Sunday June 19th, 2011 50km Mountain Bike:

 

Had a great sleep and woke with only a little aching in the ankles, and a good ache in the quads from that downward run to the finish.  As we were getting ready in the condo for the mountain bike, one of the guys pointed out that I had someone else’s name plate.  The jokes began than that maybe the person with my name plate will win.  Well, Logie I’ll have you know they other came in after me.  Good thing we caught the name plate thing and we switched it.

 

The 100km mountain bike started at 6a.m. and racers had to drive to the start, so they had to up at 4:30a.m.  Ridiculous.  I was really happy that I was doing the 50km.  However, I was concerned that it started at 10a.m.  And most of the night before I was trying to find contingencies plans for people I carpooled to the race with, so they wouldn’t have to wait.  However, in turn adventure racing nature they were so gracious and reassuring that I just race my race and they’d be waiting.  Ahhh.

 

So up in the morning,  Drive to the start.  Change the name plate.  Quick test ride.  Pee.  Off.

 

The first 8km was great.  Started flat then some climbs, where I was falling off the back of my bike anytime I hit a rock on the way up.  My suspension really needed to be adjusted. Too late now.  Then the first down started.  About 100 meters into the down I saw a racers on the side changing is tire.  Another 100 meters another racer doing the same, and a third in another 100 meters.  Then one walking his bike back up.  What was going on?  Who knows.  I got down no problem and then the rolling climbs and downs started.  With some dry sandy areas which caused some fun fish tailing.  Just over 2 hours and 18km I could see the first aid station.  Of course it was a climb to get there.  Although I wanted to walk the bike I say three friends at the top and had to ride it.  As I meandered up the gravel hill, I yelled to Dee, “Oh my I’m going to fall into the ditch.” Almost did.  Dee encourage me, “You’re good.  You’re going forward.”.
Logie took my bike asked, “How it was going?”
I said, “I’m jumping around like a Mexican Jumping Bean, and my back break is shot.”
Dee asked what I needed and cleaned out my bento box.  I felt so taken care of.
I was shocked to see Tim.  Whose shifter unfortunately broke 25km into his 100km race.  Ugh!

 

Didn’t have time to stop and chat though, as Logie handed my bike back and instructed, “You haven’t drank enough.  Your bottle is full.  You have enough food.  No need to stay.  Go!.”
I started to peddle up the road, as Dee coached, “It’s a big climb.  Just nice and easy.  Don’t hammer it.”

 

I got to the top of the road and onto gravel, out of eye view an stopped to eat something.  🙂

 

It was a good hard long climb.  I climbed a while with Simon.  Simon looked like he should be holding on to a guitar not a bike he had just bought a week ago.  With his dreadlocked hair wearing a motorcycle helmet, cotton t-shirt and shorts.  But a huge smile.

 

The climb was never ending and at the slow pace the biting flies were even worse.  I at the top of one hill I stopped for a gel just to be swarmed by mini horse flies.

 

Eventually, I came out of the trees to an open area. Looked up and saw Tim.  I was pushing the bike up, no amount of people around would have gotten me to ride up that last section to the top of Mont Tremblant.  Once I was about half way I lifted my head looked at Tim, “Is that you, Tim.  I’m not riding it.”
He laughed, “No body rode it.  Don’t worry.”

 

We walked together to the aid station.  Where Tim said I should fuel up good here and passed me some chips.  Which I processed to shovel in my mouth, along with half a small, boiled, salted potato and two fig newtons.  It was the best mouth full of food I ever had.  As I chewed Tim filled my water bottle and gave me the breakdown of the next section.  Another up, about 700m, a 3rd of what I did already and then a body rattling down.  Woohoo!
Tim was the best support crew ever can’t thank him enough.  Even if he said, “Don’t get used to it.  It probably won’t ever happen again.”

 

I was off.  I don’t know about 700 meter climb.  I felt as though there were 700 meter ups and downs.
I Fred Flinstoned it twice on the down, as my speed increased and no matter how much I hauled on the break I couldn’t stop, I finally just clipped, placed my heels down as breaks, slipped my butt of the bike and let the bike go.  Not the best breaking system. However, I think it saved a potential SuperMan move or two.

 

This last 20km was up and down.
At the final summit there was an aid station from which we were sent on a ridiculous 4 km, virtually unrideable, skinny, rocky, rooty single track. Only to return to the same aid station. I guess he had to get milage in some how.

 

Now the final down.  Full of tight turned, bridges, a couple I fell off of.  Lots of walking the sketchy parts regardless of lowering my seat.  Nevertheless impressed with how much I did ride an how fast I got on some of those downs.

 

As I got closer and closer to the Village I could hear the go-karts zipping around the track. This sound was reassuring in the beginning of the race, when I first began to hear.  As it made me civilization is near if something went wrong.  As the race went on though and the route would take me with in hearing distance of the go-karts and then take me away.  It just became a horrible tease.  But now I was finally getting to the finish.  Finally few turns down the mountain and on the village concrete.  Thank goodness.
In true Dan style though, it wasn’t a straight shoot to the finish.  He still made us figure 8 up and down the village.  Cowbells ringing didn’t stop people from ducking under the caution making me to yell, “Bouge!  Move!”, as I whipped by.

 

Yells of congrats from friends a long the way.  One last tight turn and down to the finish.

 

Finished in 6:10:02.  20/22 overall.  5/8 women.  First time 4:21:18.  Last time 7:20:35.

 

Although I had no pace guide or affirmations in my pocket I did have one simple word running through my head whenever I wasn’t sure I could climb anymore or was afraid of a steep, sketchy down and it was one that a friend posted on my facebook the day before.  “Giver!” And I did!

 

I honestly can’t say I’ve every been so happy mountain biking in my life.

 

There may be a mountain biker hiding deep inside me after all.

 

But it will have to wait a week to reveal itself again, as Svetlana (my bike) is getting some tender loving care.

As you can see from the photo they gave me the 100km medal instead of the 50km.

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