Knee Knacker July 10, 2010; an ultramarathon and my first race!
I would like to share a bit about myself and my journey. When I was in grade 9 and just starting high school I had a serious accident while skating and slamming into the boards which resulted in a compound fracture of my femur (bone broke off and came out of the skin…yuck). I guess in a sense I almost lost my life as I recall spending 45 minutes on the ice waiting for the ambulance and then a further 45 minutes having them set my leg which had swollen so large my clothing had to be cut off. I recall an erie out of body experience as the emergency personelle were setting my leg; I was skating around with others and realizing someone was down/injured on the ice, only to have the shock of seeing myself on the ice. But that is another story. Subsequently I spent over 30 days in the hospital with several surgeries on my leg and over a year of rehab that followed; just to learn how to walk again.
Today I am a Kinesiologist and grateful to inspire others everyday through the journey of connecting with their source in order to live a fulfilling life. I was always told that I would never be able to run given the injuries I sustained. I was given information by the medical community, which was fear based, saying that I would have arthritis by the time I was 35. I’m 39 now and would like to believe I’m arthritis free. Two years ago my best and closest friend Sukhi, a connected cool Chiropractor, who is wise beyond his years, actually got me out to finally start running. I could only run a mere few blocks. After 10 minutes I looked like I was going to have a cardiac arrest and my leg and knees were causing me problems in that short time. In less than 15 minutes, I had to stop. I weighed around 270 lb at the time due to 21 years of strength training. My muscles fatigued so quickly due to this fact. I had the mindset that I was too big to run. Well, thanks to my brother Sukhi, who has an innate ability to push the buttons of inspiration, shared the story of Dave Goggins a Navy Seal who weighed even more than me prior to his running career, but now runs and bikes beyond ultras really. I am so grateful that Dr. Sukhi would invest his time and effort into changing my belief system which has lead me to do something that I am so inspired to do such as run.
Fast forward to today… I never gave up and kept trudging forward. I now weigh less than 230 lb on a good day, and I spend my weekends running for endless hours through the trails and roads of the North Shore of Vancouver. On July 10, 2010 I competed in my first and only race to date, The Knee Knacker Ultra-marathon. This race is not for the faint of heart, it is apparently one of the most challenging 30 milers around. By committing to a consistent “chunked” goal oriented training protocol and with help from my good friend Sukhi (who incidentally will be doing his first Ironman in Pentiction; and whom I get to watch compete this year as I am crewing with his wife), not only did I finish this race in 7 hours 35 minutes and 40 seconds, I did it with a huge smile and am now looking at registering for a 100 km race. It is my utmost hope that my journey thus far and particularly over the past 2 years will deeply inspire anyone to get off the couch and do something extraordinary. I would like to share my story as it encompasses overcoming challenges and growing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I look back and really feel so blessed that such a horrible experience such as fracturing my femur could actually lead me on my spiritual or life path which is to help others connect with their true essence and put attention into their thoughts, nutrition and actions.
This is my story and I’d be grateful to share more if need be. Below is a look into my mind and what I went through to get through this race. It was uncharted territory for me. Feel free to have a look as I am grateful to share my story. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Knee Knacker July 10, 2010
I woke from a restless sleep. I had been told that the sleep the night before is not as important as the few leading up to it so I was not worried. Damn nerves I thought. I felt good nonetheless. Ready to go. However, my morning routine was out of whack and well it should be, as I was up eating at 3 a.m. and out of bed at 3:40 a.m. I had to be out at Deep Cove the finish line to meet Sukhi at 4:45 a.m. I get my affairs in order. Change of clothes. Check! Start bag and bottles. Check. Drop bag. Check. I’m ready. I head down to the car. This is the big day. This is the biggest day of my life. I never ran before December 2008 and here I am running this Ultramarathon called Knee Knacker. And so it should be named, as it is 30 miles through unrelenting terrain ascending more than 8000 feet and descending more than 8300 feet over roots, narrow trails, and old dilapidated bridges. Need I go on? Sukhi meets me and passes on some words of wisdom. “How you feelin’?” he asks. Well I am excited but I have butterflies. “That’s good. That means it’s important to you,” he says with a smile. We head out to Horseshoe Bay and he drops me off near the start. I was here yesterday as I heeded Sukhi’s suggestion and it was a good call that at least something was familiar. He wishes me good luck and I’m on my feet. It’s 5:20 a.m. and the race starts in 40 minutes. There is only one port-a-john for 200+ people. One of the organizers promptly apologizes over her bullhorn as an order for 5 or 6 was placed but only one came through. Good thing I couldn’t go this morning or I’d have another thing to be concerned about. I see Gary smiling as he walks towards me. We shake hands and exchange pleasantries. I wonder what is going on in his mind as he is always in contention or at least the top 5 percentile. Does he size up the crowd or is he just thinking one fast foot after the next? I find my friend Kate, who I can pace with as we ran the entire last ¼ of the race together last week and at the end I took off and met them at the finish a couple minutes later. If last week was any indication then I’d be good. We both make minimal small talk. I am determined to stick with her for the race. My mantra that I rehearsed with Sukhi is “RPE less than 7”. I down the last of my 300 Calorie CarboPro mixed with water and discard the empty waiting for the last 10 minutes to countdown. Here it comes. My stomach is twisted into a knot as the start commences. Kate and I are in the first quarter and I stick to her like glue. Running where we can run and walking the up hills. She knows all to well a few weeks ago she pushed this part too hard and left her tank empty at the Dam. It’s going to be a long day. Now that the excitement is over the bowels decide to pester my mind. Well, you didn’t want to go before and there’s no way I’m stopping now. My mind sounds like a parent scolding a little kid in the back seat of a vehicle who didn’t go at the last rest stop during a family vacation. This is going to be a long day. I won’t focus on the time just eat away footstep by footstep.
As we begin the ascent my nutrition is bang on. Every 15 minutes a ¼ of my handheld is polished off. 400 Calories every hour. The trail is relentless and the climb at one point is over a rockslide, where precarious boulders are arranged but unstable. This is actually one of my favorite points. Like a mountain goat I scurry up the Jenja like maze of boulders. At a couple of points Kate passes as the person in front of us is slower than molasses or an RPE of 5. I scurry like a lost fawn to keep up to Kate. I open a Probar as we are nearing Eagle’s Bluff. I do the hamster routine that Sukhi advised. I wish I knew this earlier as I think that I would have avoided numerous hacking and choking fests. We get to the bluff and I look back and yell out “Wooo!” at the top of my lungs. What an amazing view. Not a cloud in the blue yonder. The ocean looks so surreal yet distinct. Wow. The one thing I do notice is that the mosquitoes are voracious and they swarm to my hairless melon. I am instantly a meal. This is where I lose Kate as I have my first pee. I think perhaps she will have to go and I can catch up to her somewhere along the way. Or not. Another bit of a climb and here is a volunteer clad in shorts and a T-shirt on a rock with bowl encouraging us on as well as handing out Jujubes. I take 4 exactly and while thanking him launch them into my mouth. Normally enjoyable the licorice is not for me, so I spit them out for the birds to feed on. Just past this volunteer are more cheering volunteers clad in head to toe netting; which makes more sense. Perhaps the first guy should have been running with us judging by the mosquitoes. I take a chocolate chip cookie and down it as I thank the volunteer. Then an interesting things happens; I’m 2 hours in and have consumed about 900 Calories. I start the descent to the lodge which is a relatively decent gravel trail next to the major runs on the West side of Cypress Mountain. My stomach is feeling every jarring step downwards and then nausea sets in. Will this go away I question? Come on body do your thing. I need to pound these down hills like I normally do. I think about vomiting but then realize that I can’t afford to lose my nutrients because I’ll only pay for it at the last ¼. I will not be sick was my new mantra. Perhaps Sukhi would have some wisdom at the ¼ mark. I get to the bottom and am happy that most of the snow was gone and the mud holes (which happened to consume a runner if you browse the training run photos just 3 weeks prior) were relatively dry. The dear volunteers cheers were a welcome ring to my ears. That’s what I thought, but perhaps they were also screaming to fend off the mosquitoes as they were heavy here. Sukhi is a welcome sight. He cycled up here as part of his training for Ironman Canada in Penticton. This would be one of 5 stops this day. I have watermelon and water and stuff one fig Newton into my mouth despite not wanting it. Sukhi asks me how I am doing and encourages me on saying he’ll see me at the Dam. I don’t spend more than 1-2 minutes at any aid station. I want to make 7-8 hours is another mantra my hamster spins for me.
On my way up to the Ranger’s cabin I meet Glen who I recognize from organizing some of the training runs. He’s a friendly great guy. The kind of guy that smiles as he talks and his cheerful demeanor is encouraging and magnetic. He’s donning a plaid button half sleeved shirt. Peculiar for a runner, but interesting to say the least. As I trail behind Glen he pushes on and we separate. He has more gas in the tank than I do. The nausea is so loud it has it’s own voice. I push past it with my thoughts and think well if I can’t eat I should squeeze a gel soon but not just yet. I feel so clumsy after eating what little I did at the ¼ aid station. There is still patches of snow to navigate but nothing near what there was just 2 weeks ealier.
It’s funny because this race is truly about support and challenge. I start out of the woods towards the Hollyburn lodge and another pair of footsteps join me. We introduce each other in as many as 2 footsteps and carry on. I ask if he’s run before and he notes this is his 3rd time on Knacker. He carries on to say that he managed to get slower each successive run. He estimates that we are running at a 7:30 pace and I am happy considering I am not feeling it. He notes that he previously did a 100 km race through these woods where he couldn’t even see the Baden Powell markers on the trees as the snow was so high. As I listen I’m out of the woods again but going the wrong way. A couple of footsteps later he indicates that’s why he was asking since he was familiar with the course now that it was bare. Who knows how much time I would have added if he was not there. And as we headed down hill it was just that quick that he was gone. Amazing I thought that he was there with me for about 5 minutes, no more, and his purpose was to help guide me. Thank you stranger.
I stuff a couple more fig Newtons in my mouth despite the nausea remaining with me like a bad itch. I also squeeze a gel. My mind tells me to get the nutrition regardless. I think back to Sukhi and his Knacker experience and how he nearly DNF’d as a result of lacking nutrition. I would not get on that train. Just as I’m heading down the rocky and rooted terrain I roll my ankle over. Damn it. Be careful and stay focused. I remember a conversation with Gary about this instantly and how if you are focused you should never roll an ankle. Funny that squeezing a gel is just enough of a distraction to roll, but I guess it is. Motor control and learning at UVIC taught us that even the radio is almost too much of a distraction while driving a vehicle let alone cell phones and gabbing to friends which is the norm now a days. As I make my way down I cross the first of three roads. A nimble slender female that passed me crossing the first one told me this. On the trail I roll my ankle with no major ill effect again. And this time the self-talk is loud. Focus. FOCUS. I listen this time and would make sure that this wouldn’t take me out of the race. I think is it bad. No. But pay attention! RPE of 7 or less is still ringing in the depths of my mind. Downhill is easy and I could go faster if my damn stomach wasn’t a wreck. I wonder why I’m so clumsy again after eating. Can nutrition make you clumsy? Perhaps the carbs and the serotonin do a number on one’s agility; at least it seems to for me.
As I got to the British Properties I realized that I had to pee and as two women passed I shouted “Nature calls” and one of them said “Okay I will turn my head and not look”. I thought please don’t do this and fall because you’re trying to be courteous. Funny. About 8-9 people in total pass me on my descent to the Dam. I don’t think I will catch them and only can focus on the ill that has begotten my innards. Some lady I pass is stuck to a railing on one of the climbs through the dense forest and complains with a strained face that she is cramping up. I recognize her friend Nessa who has bad ankles but can do a damn good job cutting through the rugged trail terrain. I ask if the crampy lady needs anything and she declines. I push on. I squeeze another gel and make it out of the trail and on to the road crossing the damn. I recall a couple sitting on the damn on the left and they clap for me and I thank them. I also recall another lady and a dog on the lookout sidewalk. I jump up for a few strides and look over for a few seconds while running as I always have whenever I’m at this junction. I notice that there is a limited water supply being let out. Is it a shortage of water in the Dam? Is it the new bridge they are putting in connecting North and West Vancouver? Why am I analyzing this? I jump off and pick up the pace with the crowd, their cheers and my adrenaline going to the max. Where is Sukhi and Kate?
As I started to hear more cheers and hollers I realized that they were directed at me. I thanked as many individuals as I could as I ran in. Honestly I can’t remember one checkpoint where I wasn’t hit by a surge of energy. I did my best to recognize every volunteer and was grateful to every person cheering me on and for making this an amazing supported event.
I see both Kate and Sukhi now and he asks how I am. I’m great except for my stomach. “Not to worry”. “Your mind is sharp and you’re doing good”. I realize that some of his questions were to see how my mind was doing and this comforted me. I knew I had it in me to finish. There wasn’t a doubt now and I could try to pick up the pace. Kate’s smile and cookies brought one to my face. She had baked them fresh just for me. I couldn’t fathom eating just yet so I took two for the road. I asked for my Ensure, which I took, and my iPod. I thought Dr. D could get me through the tough times. And like that I was off.
As I departed from Cleveland Damn I realized Sukhi was at my side. Asking how I was doing. Trying to get a read on me. All I could think about was how nauseous I was. I gulped down the Ensure; 350 Calories. “Okay keep it down” I said to myself and thankfully I was able to. I broke off a piece of cookie and put it in my mouth. Loved the flavor but the appetite was not there. Not just yet. I was concerned at this point, because if I didn’t have the nutrition in place, I would be shooting myself in the foot during the last quarter of the race. “Focus on everything else and not your stomach” he said. Okay like nature and all that is going well. “Your mind is sharp, you’re in good shape”. “Keep it up”. “Imagine the trees are pulling you up the hill”. This last statement wood trigger something in me that would get me through the ill times I was in. “Now you can cut back to 250 Calories per hour. You’re good!” he said. “See you at the next checkpoint”. I can recall as he left I knew I was committed to meeting him there. Making this commitment, I would do it at any cost.
As he turned away I continued to power walk up the hill. Hordes of people were mulling about at the base of the Grouse Grind. I noticed another Marshall similar to one I saw when I was coming down from Cypress carrying a hand held stop sign, who would ensure that each runner cross the road safely without being struck by a vehicle. He stopped a truck coming out of Parking Lot D and I started cycling it up the hill. As I turned the corner into the Grind start gate I noticed that there were more people here than usual. But none seemed like they were running. I guess that’s the norm for a Saturday with beautiful warm weather and not a cloud to be seen near the sun for miles. I excused myself past families and anyone that got in my way ascending onwards and upwards towards Mosquito Creek. Shortly after the numbers thinned right out. I saw a man and a lady in the distance up the mountainside and realized that I would have a bit of a climb for the next while. I put my headphones in and listened to a seminar I attended in January. Every other time I’ve heard it was inspiring. This time it pissed me off and after about 5 minutes I was done with listening to anything but my own huffing and inner thoughts.
I was still ill and feeling like I was going to be sick. I didn’t have my full strength and remembered back to the weekend before when I ran at a good clip to finish Lynn Canyon to Deep Cove in 1 hour 30 minutes. But today I had already climbed over 6000 feet and descended almost as much. I wondered if I could get my stomach in order and pound out the last quarter of the race. I came up on this older gent who looked a bit wobbly. I asked him how he was and noticed he was burping like a frog in heat. I asked him to pass and said if I couldn’t then I was going to be sick as his bellows nauseated me even more. He said he was cramping. I asked then if he needed anything. It’s funny when you think that this is a race and I would have given this guy my last gel to help him out, but that sense of taking care of each other and community is so strong even though it is a bit weird. Even if you train or run together you rarely have conversations with people doing this stuff. This gent retorts that he took his salt pills and would be fine in a bit, although he was grateful. I continued to push on and finally asked the trees for help with my nauseousness. Bang! Sukhi’s seed had cross-fired my synapses and I remembered an old girlfriend named Natalia. I then realized that she had taught me that there was a pressure or acupuncture point for nausea. I pressed firmly with my thumb into the space between the thumb and forefinger. I did this for a minute 6-10 times on each hand hoping it would work.
I then heard footsteps behind me. I thought run when you can and walk fast uphill. The footsteps seemed to follow my cadence. I was a bit frustrated and said “If you want to pass say the word”. I got a reply that he was fine at the pace I was at. We exchanged some banter and at one point caught up to Glenn who I saw last at the top of Cypress as he lost me before the Hollyburn lodge. I’m not sure how he was doing but his fashion was exceptional; he was wearing a white plaid button up short sleeve collared shirt. He was talking about how he was considering stopping at the bench and enjoying the view and that “this is a nice Saturday stroll in the park”. I think he was having some struggles but couldn’t read him as he was and has always been so pleasant when I’ve seen or watched him interact with others.
We both passed him after a while and began to chat more. He knew where all the aid stations were and his name was Doug. He rolled with me as he said he liked the pace I was keeping. Then we came out of the trail just before Mosquito Creek. Oh yes, Coke was laid out on the table and I started guzzling it. I knew at this point it was fair game as I was past the half way mark and this was part of my plan. My stomach was better but my appetite had not returned. I also chugged a bunch of water and had my bottle filled up with both beverages. I really enjoyed the taste of water at this point and recalled saying “mmm water” before we came to the table. I departed as I noticed Doug was chatting and hanging back. I knew at my pace he would catch up which he did quickly. The trail veered left down a steep slope as it was the old Knee Knacker trail down to the creek. It was treacherous but I made it without any problem. Another ascent, which I thought would never end, was about to take place.
Doug and I continued to chat back and forth and I mentioned that I enjoyed the downhill but the up was a struggle for me. He noted that he looked at the physics of running and a strong runner loses about 23% efficiency going uphill and gains 17% going downhill. I thought cool another gear head. We finally peaked and began our descent to the stairs exiting out at the Lynn Headwaters and Varley trail. I asked him to let me know if he wanted to pass. He retorted that he was finding the pace good and the number 1 on my back of my Adidas sleeveless was keeping his mind focused on Number 1. He then said if it was too much pressure he could lead of course. I thought how considerate is this guy. Wow. I continued to push the pace a bit and noted that I had do pee. As we were running he said “Do you need anything? I have Advil”. I thought this was weird as I had not taken any medication for at least a year including over the counter crap. All I could say is “No thanks. I don’t use drugs ever”. This hung with me and I recalled conversations with Sukhi that we are probably the only racers that don’t use drugs of any kind. I didn’t judge Doug as most people are on a different journey than I. As we headed off the Varley trail Doug offered to help me by taking my water bottle while I took my pee break and said he would walk until I caught up. When I was walking/running to catch up I realized that another fellow was conversing with him. I hoped he would stick it out and not take off and really in this case “the more the merrier”. We all carried on across the Lynn headwaters bridge and up the trail towards Rice Lake. There was a small aid station and I drank more coke and had watermelon. I again filled one handheld with Coke and the other with water. This combo would get me to the end. As we took off we started along the trail to the water treatment facility. And just as I was trailing my two buddies and passing a group of Asian tourists enjoying a leisurely stroll I missed a root on the trail…or at least I’d like to think a gargantuan root was sticking out of the ground and tripped me. I fell hard and just like a seasoned stunt actor I landed on my hands and right knee. The fall was so dramatic that when I fell forward on the handheld bottles the pressure of my bodyweight popped the top off of the one filled with Coke and the water squirted a surge onto some of the tourists. This was a major deflation. My hand was bleeding. My knee was bleeding. My ego was hurt and when Doug and the other fellow asked me how I was I lied to them saying I was fine. Again they both stopped and turned back. I screwed the lid back on and began to run. I flushed a good stream of water into my knee and it didn’t decide to bleed much, which was great because I was concerned about loosing electrolytes since I wasn’t covering this base due to my stomach issues. I looked at my right hand and the baby finger callus was gone and a deep black bloody earth replaced it and was imbedded in the tissue. I tightened my handheld to ensure that the compression would reduce the bleeding. I continued on and trailed my companions. At one point I felt so low that I said “Keep it up I can’t keep up at this pace”. Doug looked back and slowed his pace and the other fellow also slowed enough for me to just barely keep up. I continued onward and then hit the stairs at the bottom of Lynn Canyon. This was a bugger of a climb. I had to get my head back into it. I could keep up to these guys. More importantly Doug ensured that this was the case. At one point I recalled our conversation about how he ran 80% of the race alone last year and how this was so difficult to him. I would do my best at keeping up with them.
As we neared the road leading up to Rice Lake and exited Lynn Canyon I heard Sukhi’s voice. “Hey Lanny, nice work”. I looked up and saw Sukhi sitting on the fence and showed him my hand. “Awe battle wounds”. “Nice”. I ran/walked up to the table and was ecstatic when I saw 4 cups of Coke. My morale jumped in my heart. However, I realized that there were only 4 tiny cups and I wanted it all. One lady volunteer tried to encourage me to “just have one”. Sukhi then piped out “He’s at least the size of 2 runners and at 230 lb he deserves more”. I thought and said out loud “First come, first served”. He dumped 3 if not 4 of the cups into my handheld. Bless his soul. This would be my fuel until the next station. “You’re good. See you at the next checkpoint”. I could hear his encouragement directed to others as I traipsed into the woods walking up the dirt trail with Doug and our friend.
My feet were sore and I didn’t have the spring or the ability to run as I remembered in the training run I did on a few Sundays back running from Cypress to Deep Cove in under 5 hours. But I was keeping up to Doug and our buddy as we ran down towards the next creek. Before the Seymour Grind we had a slender blond runner join us. She didn’t speak much at all which was somewhat uncomfortable for us all. One foot after another I thought. Don’t move anyway but forward, otherwise you waste energy and will take longer to get where you are going. I would watch her footsteps and ensure I didn’t make the same mistakes. This microscopic look at walking up the Grind was really what got me through.
Once we got to the top I can’t remember if she was behind or took off away from us. However, I knew that it was mainly downhill. As I started down the gravel trail towards Indian Arm Road I thought here we go. I can take off.
Boy was I wrong. The hours of not eating properly since the top of Cypress had caught up to me. I didn’t have the energy or the freshness in my step. And then I had my first occurrence of a faint twinge in my right hip flexor. What was that I thought? Really, I got over feeling sick and now I’m going to cramp up and crumble to the ground in uncontrollable contortions. No. Don’t go there. Drink what you can. I remembered it was Coke in my left handheld and Eload in my right handheld. I guzzled the right one. I didn’t think about it other than get fluids in. I ran, limped and struggled to keep my knees from buckling each downward hop I took in my descent over rocks and roots. At times I was at a near stop and my gait was like a clown in the Cirque de Soleil; nimbly (in my mind) over exaggerating each step like I was on stilts that were not my own towards the crowds in the imaginary audience.
This is were I lost Doug. I couldn’t keep up and I wished him a great race and to keep pushing it. As he disappeared in the distance I remembered how grateful I was to have had this fellow who I knew nothing about with me through the toughest times of the race; my nausea, my fall, my ignorance. As I headed down the stair that exited on to Mount Seymour Road I saw Kate and Sukhi both waiting there for me. “What do you need?” “How are you feeling?” “What do you want to eat?” So many questions and I had so little time. “More Coke I said with a smile”. I thought about eating and taking the Organic Stingers which were marketed well as the packaging looked interesting, but I dared not eat solids so I put it back as quickly as I grabbed it. Watermelon and a ton of Coke. I was more worried about the Volunteer touching the blood on my bottle than I was about what I needed. I was close. I told Sukhi of my slight cramping experience. He smiled and gave some advice to continue drinking and keep my focus. Another nimble run in the woods and I would be out on the road and on the final bit towards Deep Cove. “See you at the finish line” they said. “Leave it all out there on the course”. This was it. As I continued to run I was having a battle of back and forth visions. I would see myself failing and having a story which I did not want to read as an outcome and right back at it I would run the elation and how this run would contribute to my story and help to enthuse others to take control of their lives and live inspired and empowered. How could this be that I saw both outcomes?
As I started down the trail I heard footsteps and noticed that although Doug was gone our other follower was right behind me. He passed with ease and continued to forge ahead of me. I saw him disappear in the distance, behind the heavily treed forest. I would not see him again until the finish I thought. But I was wrong. I exited down the trail to Indian Arm Road and could see that I was making gains on him. Not enough to catch him, but a considerable gain nonetheless. I saw him enter the last bit of forest on the right into the descent to Deep Cove. As I came up on this entrance to the forest from the road a lonely older volunteer lady was smiling and pointing in to the final destination while her oversized ghetto blaster played “You don’t have to live like a refugee” while being perched on the chair that should have nestled her tired legs. I thought this is so interesting. You don’t have to live like a refugee, you don’t have to be running this race, but you are. You chose this and you will chose how you run this. As I built a bit of steam and headway on the gratitude and it’s Goosebumps I had when I thanked each Volunteer, I headed down some steps. I felt another twinge in my right calf. What was that I thought? Oh no! Don’t do this now. What can I control? Well if doesn’t taste good, but I pop a few Thermolytes I can deal with that as long as I finish. People are waiting for me. Sukhi, Kate, Kacey her mother Carol and Jeremy are all going to be there. What if I’m not? I could hear sirens from multiple vehicles in the distance. That is not a good sign. They sounded like they were coming from the finish line and all I could think was that was not a good thing. Was it a broken leg? Heat exhaustion? Or even worse did someone die? These are some of the thoughts that ran through my head as I was in pain and turtling my way down the trail to quarry rock.
As I came to Quarry Rock I didn’t want to think about how many bridges there was to get over; knowing full well there was 9. At least I wouldn’t count them as I crossed them. This haunted me as I got closer to 6 or 7 and I wondered how many I had crossed. There were more people on this part of the course trail than any other part. “Excuse me, racer” I would say in desperation. In my mind I just didn’t want to run over anyone and have that guilt and delay. I thought I was lost a couple of time but trail patrons would confirm that I was on track. As I made my way down to the last few stairs exiting to the street in Deep Cove I saw the Fire truck and Ambulance. Wow. This must have been where it happened. I later learned at the dinner one of the runners who has a similar build to me succumbed to the head. He apparently collapsed on the stairs. Too bad because he was on pace for a 6 something hour finish. Instead he was awarded an intravenous and an all-self expense paid trip to the hospital. We were later told at the dinner that his wife called and said he was being kept overnight, but okay and expressed her gratitude for all those involved in his help. Kate said she gave up a gel and continued on as he was laying on the stairs of the trail. Other rumors circulated that he came to after the intravenous and wanted to complete the race. Sorry my friend you’re done the race must still be ringing in his ears. Perhaps if he’s lucky he’ll make it into the lottery next year.
As I came out one volunteer said go left around the ambulance and another said go right. I said “Make up you mind”. I went left. I had the biggest surge of dopamine and adrenaline seeing the finish line, smelling the salt air, hearing the cheers, the announcer over the P.A. but I couldn’t recognize what was being said. All I could think was I made it. My life would forever be changed. This would be part of my story that I could use to inspire others to get active. What was my time? 7:35:40. I thought it could have been better. Perhaps 7 hours had it not been for this or that. However, I did well and I’m so grateful for my body, training and Sukhi’s coaching as well as inspiring approach.
Familiar faces approached me at the finish. I spoke with Doug as I crossed not realizing he made it in 7:30; a mere 5 minutes before me. I would have thought at least 20 minutes. In the handshake and smile that ensued an instant friendship was born. This guy was quality and he helped me on the trails with motivation and encouragement. Thanks Doug. I was on a high until I had my shower hours later. My body had that familiar tingling excitement along with the accompanying Goosebumps and energy surge. I dug this feeling and at each moment I thought this must be a reason why some runners get addicted. I ate and spoke with Sukhi, Kate, Kacey her Mom and Jer. We sat on the hill under the shade. I performed First Aid by flushing my wounds with Sodium Chloride and gauze that the absent attended left unwatched. I went into the cool ocean water but it wasn’t as cold as it usually is, however it was good to just stand. I didn’t have much post run problems. I was so grateful for all that supported me and I would show my gratitude to each of them in different ways. I did it and this is my story. If you set your mind on a goal and take small steps towards that goal you can do anything. This was my first running event and race ever, but it is not the last. See you out on the trails and road. Happy training!