Saturday 15 September 2018

Finlayson 100k / 28k

Pre-race thoughts:
        Holy crap I am undertrained again... Last year I just squeaked under cutoffs and this year wasn't looking a whole lot better. I had done some fairly long runs (a couple of 15kms and a 90km death march at sin 7), but I was only really running once or twice a week going into this. 2017 Finlayson arm was my first "real" trail ultra, and I knew if I avoided napping my finish time would be much better.  So needless to say my A goal was really to just not sleep during the race. Unfortunately coming from school would mean be starting the race having already been awake for 12 hours. I had also run the Squamish 50/50 only a few weekends prior (the most running I had ever done until that point). My B goals going into this were to run the 100k under 20hrs and take some time off the 100/28 record of 25:51.

         I had planned to use a mix of Tailwind and Rocktane drink mix. Both have electrolytes and calories to supplement what I would hopefully be eating at aid stations. My fear of sleeping drove me to put 2 large red bulls in each drop bag as a last resort if I really needed it. I had planned on taking 1 meal replacement at each aid station for as long as I could get them down.

Race day 1: Part 1
          My first race was the 100k (actually 105km with 20,105 ft of elevation change) I managed to get to the start line on time and check in with no issues. It had been drizzling for most of the afternoon making for a cold start. The rain also meant the water would be high in the creek and everyone would get their feet wet. After catching up with some people, I had met last year, at some other races and one other guy from Fort St John we started the run at 5pm. This is a brutal course only made worse by the fact that you go through a creek within the first km. My first blister started soon after as we began climbing but I was enjoying running on the trails, and it didn't actually flare up till later.

About 87 km into the 100k
      The first real big climb is Mt Finlayson, and it is hardly runnable. The first half is climbing up loose rocks and quickly becomes steep enough that grabbing on roots and rocks seems like a good idea. The second half is on the exposed rock face, and while the views are incredible, it's not much faster. Once you get up and over Mt Finlayson, the trail drops off pretty quickly, and you're running down some fairly steep trails for a couple k until you hit the small road section. This is one of the many places I got lost in 2017, I was thankful for the overabundance of signs.

Aid station 1     11 km

       I ran into this aid station with a guy from Qualicum beach who had some fast goals for the race. I was still having fun here and feeling pretty good, so I got right into my tailwind and was able to get a fair amount of food down. I left with a group of maybe 4 runners that I stuck with until I fell and had to walk for a while. The next runner a French Canadian from Victoria caught up with me, and we had a great time getting to the next aid station. We ran together talking about work and one day making it over to UTMB.

Aid Station 2     23.2km

      This was where I decided to get the "rock" in my shoe out. Turns out it was a reasonably sized blister across the bottom of my left big toe. It turns out that Andrew Barclay who had run the double last year was working at the aid station and knows a thing or two about taping feet. After getting taped up, I was off with the French Canadian to the next aid station. We ran together for a little while, but unfortunately, his knee was giving him problems, and I dropped him to try and make up some time. Thankfully caught up to the original group of 4ish pretty quickly, so I had people to run with. Now the headlamps had been out for quite some time, and all the fog had made the visibility really bad. We worked more or less as a team trying to find the trail back into the woods and off the exposed rock. Once we got back into the forest, I started to break away from the group a little just before the next aid station.

Aid Station 3      28.2 km

      This was a tricky one where I ended up running mostly alone on the way back. I did catch up to one guy who I believe would end up chasing me until the finish. We ran together for a while until he saw one of his friends on the side of the trail and stopped to talk.

Aid Station 4/5  33.5/45.6 km

      Honestly, I started to get really tired here and was falling a fair bit. I tried drinking one of my Redbulls at aid station 5 but only got about a 1/8 of a can as my stomach wasn't feeling super hot. I also finally picked up my poles here. Not exactly sure why I didn't think to grab these when I first passed this aid station, but I was thankful to use them now. My watch decided to die and stopped recording just before the Aid station 5. I did quickly change the batteries in my headlamp. The run back to the start/ finish was mostly uneventful and got in around 1:30 am.

The halfway point.    52.5 km

      This is where the race really started to get weird for me. I passed two runners maybe 500m outside of the aid station running the wrong way. One was apparently very confused and wouldn't listen to me. Fortunately, I knew he was very close to the aid station and would see it within a minute. When the second guy came running back, I started to have second thoughts of my own direction, but he assured me I was okay and was only running back for the bathroom. I crossed the creek again and started climbing the hills on the other side. Unfortunately, the last meal replacement decided to come back up just before I started to climb Mt Finlayson again. What was fun in the daylight ended up being a hell hike at 2:30 am, or whatever time it was. I definitely took a "fuck this shit" break halfway up and wondered what the hell I was doing but made it up eventually and was able to get to the next aid station.

Aid Station 7     63.6 km

       I started to go into new ground here as last year I fell asleep before I got to this aid station and made the race feel more like two 50k rather than one continuous effort. Needless to say, I was excited to get moving. The rest of the run to the next aid station was mostly uneventful and actually went better than the first time as I didn't fall and the poles seemed really help on this section. I think I stopped throwing up on this section as I finally gave up on the meal replacements but in some strange twist the throwing up had really woken me up and I started to feel pretty good again.

Aid Station 8 75.7 km

       I was happy to get back to this aid station as I knew Andrew Barclay would be there and somehow have energy. It was great to load up on food, and I believe the headlamp came off sometime before this aid station as I finally dropped it off here.

Aid Station 9 80.7 km

       This was a big one for me I had heard another runner coming into aid station 8 right as I was leaving and spent a lot of time backtracking on the trail trying to find the path. I just refilled my electrolytes, filled my flask with coke and grabbed some gels and was in and out in what felt like 2 minutes. I heard the other runner again just as I was leaving so I knew that whoever they were I wasn't making any time on them. I  started overheating somewhere close to km 82 and took off my shirt. Running shirtless with a vest is something I never want to do again however it felt great to cool down a little.

Aid Station 10 86 km.

       I was happy to finally start making my way back and onto the final stretch. I stopped to grab some more food but didn't stay long as I knew whoever was behind was likely closing whatever gap was left between us. This section has what would be the second worst climb for me. The Mckenzie Bight tail is rough on a good day with fresh legs.

Aid Station 11 98.2 km

       I got word that my parents were at the start-finish line and knowing it was only 6km left to go I was pretty determined to finish strong. With the sun entirely out the shadows started playing tricks on me. I distinctly remember thinking how peaceful one lady looked sitting on the bench with flowers until I got closer and realized it was a just a big old fern. Now I just assumed this was a lack of sleep and calories. It was kinda fun to see what my mind had decided I was looking at the closer I got to it. Thankfully I didn't fall and was able to run the last section reasonably well and finished in 19:26 for 9th overall.

Post race day 1:

       I felt like garbage, both my feet were toast, and both big toenails were about to fall off. I couldn't imagine running the next day, but I needed to sleep and if I didn't wait would have to come back for my drop bags. Lucky my family was there to watch me finish and drive my body to a bed and food.

Pre-race day 2:

       I felt unusually fresh, not exactly sure why but it was just one of those magical days. I was early to the start and chatted with some other runners about the race and what the trails might be like. The nervous energy of a start line is always kinda fun.

Just about at the turn around point of the 28k. 
Race day 2:

       I screwed up my watch and accidentally clicked treadmill instead of trail mode. Usually, this would not be an issue, but I was planning on running hard the last couple km and misjudged it by a fair amount.  I was expecting the turnaround point to be about 3k or 4k closer than it was. The 28 k seems to follow the 100k course but turns around before the Second aid station. Unfortunately, this means crossing the creek is inevitable. The water level had thankfully dropped, and with a little rock hopping, I didn't get my feet wet. This alone is why I think I was able to have a good second day. The Mt Finlayson climb was fun, and it was great being around so many other runners for the first section of the race. The first aid station was at 11km, and the turn around is much quicker than in the 100k. I filled up my bladder and grabbed a couple gels in under 3 minutes and was off on the next section. It felt like it was almost all uphill until the turnaround point was and unfortunately I was forced to hike practically all of it. This did lead to some fun conversations, and once I hit the turnaround point (km 23 on my watch), I had a great time bombing the hills that I would have loved to run during the 100k. I was able to pass a couple people and had a great time running it in for a 3:40 finish and 14th overall.

Post race day 2:
       I was amazed at how good I felt after getting going a little bit and would definitely suggest more people try the double.  23:06 is a time I am pleased with but could easily see someone taking a considerable chunk of time off. Compared to the Squamish 50/50 this is much harder for a similar total distance. The 100k has fewer runnable sections and more elevation gain than both the Squamish 50 miler and 50k combined. Thank you to all the fantastic volunteers and organizers for another great race. I am sure I will see you again in 2019.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on on smashing your previous year's time on this course. I was so happy to see someone else challenge themself to the Double. I promised you ITB would be easier than you would expect and you smashed the course record. Kudos