Monday, May 23, 2011

My first running of the Mount Doug Marathon Victoria BC

I awoke on Saturday mentally prepared to run my first mountainous marathon of the season. I decided that I would run the Mount Doug Marathon. It isn’t an official marathon or race and the only entrant was me, so I knew I had great odds of getting first place, I just had to finish.
My training plan only called for a 24 miler but I was inspired by my friend Tim who was 800 miles to the southeast running in his first official marathon the Ogden Utah marathon, one of Runners World’s top 10 road marathons. I wanted to support him in his first marathon and celebrate his accomplishment of training consistently through the heat and cold of Utah’s extreme weather. Being in Canada and far away like I am it just wasn’t possible to be there in person. I decided I would run a marathon of my own in his honor and somehow I would be there with him in spirit.
I ate some breakfast of two fried eggs and some toast and jam. I have not had to really focus on fueling or hydration during long runs yet so I used this as an opportunity to see how well I could do. I packed a variety of snacks such as salted potatoes, peanut butter and honey, banana, and chips. I also packed 32 ounces of electrolyte drink and brought a gallon of water to fill my 16 ounce handheld.
The course I created is 4 loops and each loop is 10.5 km long and includes 3 summits and about 1500 feet of elevation gain and loss for a total of 4 loops, 12 summits, and 6000 feet gained and lost. After each loop I would pass by my car and be able to refuel and fill up my bottles.
I arrived at the designated parking spot to a chilly 55 degree and overcast day. It would be perfect conditions and allow me to properly cool off. I grabbed my bottles and started out nice and easy. My plan was to do each loop in 1 hour and 15 minutes for a total of 5 hours for the marathon.
Loop one was actually a lot more difficult than I anticipated. I didn’t get a ton of training in over the last few weeks and have been quite stressed and it was reflected in my heavy-footed trot towards the first summit. My goal was to quickly power hike all the 12 uphill’s and bomb the downs to make up time. The first 3 hills were quite easy and felt like small blips in my path but I knew they would get harder as the day progressed. Loop one was quite easy and I had to force myself to drink just so I could stay on point with my hydration. I flew through the last mile of single track quite quickly and reached my car at 1:07. Too fast I thought but no bother.
At the car I grabbed some corn chips, and ate about one red potato worth of salted potatoes. They tasted good and I washed it down with about 4 ounces of electrolyte drink. I refilled my hand held and got out of my car in about 3 minutes.
Loop two was by far the strongest of the four. I hit my stride and ran the flats with ease. I floated over the trails with my feet barely making contact with the ground. I grinded up each of the hills and tried to engage the glutes to take some stress off the quads and calves. I felt great! I had to really pull back on the reins because my body wanted to run the loop in less than an hour but I knew the run wasn’t even half over. So I forced myself into a painfully slow trot. During the last mile I had to hit the bushes. One challenge that is unique to me from other runner’s is the fact that I don’t have a large intestine and my food has a very short residence time in my digestive track. Running seems to speed the process along and one hour after eating seemed to do the trick for needing to hit the bushes. I quickly took care of business and hurried back to my car. This time I took 1:10:00 on the loop.
I ate half my PB&H and also downed about 8 ounces of electrolyte drink. I ate more potatoes but decided to opt out of the corn chips which seemed to make a reappearance several times during the previous lap (not that I puked or anything but you could tell they were being burped up). I spent 3 minutes at the car again.
I have run many runs this year that covered the two loops for a total of a half marathon on Mount Doug. This was the first time that I ever went beyond the 6 summits and 13 miles. So as I started loop three I was entering new hallowed ground. I love the feeling of pushing into territory that I have never done before.
Summit 7 quickly reminded me that I had just climbed and descended 3,000 feet over the last two hours and had 6 more to go. I began to slow a bit and my lactic acid threshold began to deteriorate. The long gentle uphill stretch between summits 7 and 8 proved difficult and I took a small walking break for about 1 minute. This really helped and I was able to finish summits 8 and 9 with some discomfort but nothing too bad. Once again I had to head to the bushes at the exact same point as the previous loop. I guess I know that on long runs I have about 1 hour between eating until I have to find a stump. Good thing I run trails and not roads! I reached my car at a much slower time of 1:15:00 for the loop and the slower up hills and extra walking breaks all took their toll and I got a much slower loop.
At the aid station I dumped debris from my shoes, ate the rest of my sandwich, my potatoes, and my banana. I drank the rest of my electrolyte drink and took a deep breath. I had 10.5 km to go and 1500 feet of vert still to go and I was feeling it.
Summit 10 was brutal. My legs felt like jelly and there just wasn’t any strength left in them to draw from. The descent began to show me weaknesses in my downhill conditioning and for the first time this year I felt my quads begin to really get chewed up on the descent. The long slow grind up to summit 11 was absolutely brutal. I began to think about my friend Tim and wondered how his race went. I kept on trying to draw some strength from him and think about how he was covering the same distance at a much quicker rate in much higher temps. Somehow I knew he had run well and this seemed to give me some extra motivation. Yet I still had to walk most of this shallow stretch. My legs were just knackered! The last 5 miles were brutal and the last two summits were quite taxing. After the 12th summit I just had one long stretch of down hill to go. This is where the problem lied. Six-thousand feet of descent had taken its toll on my quads and they felt like they had gone through a meat grinder. I couldn’t believe how sore they were on the final descent. Suddenly my knees began to hurt and I realized my fatigued quads were not supporting my knees any longer and they were starting to track poorly and get inflamed. Rather than risk further injury I slowed down to a crawl and just coasted the last couple of miles. It wasn’t the strong finish I had in mind but I finished a really hilly and technical marathon at 5 hours 1 minute and 30 seconds. I would have loved to get a sub-5 but that was all I could do without getting injured.
What a great marathon! I can’t wait to improve and continue to work on my distances. I only lost 6 ounces during the run which was a testament to my attention to detail with my fueling and hydration. I only got sick once at the final summit and only for a few minutes. Overall I was quite happy with my first 5 hour run of the season.
Today’s song comes from the land of my roots Sweden and is from a Swedish duo called Familjen. The song is called “Det snurrar i min skalle”. I love the song though it is in Swedish. I also thought it fitting since the footage of the video comes from a Swedish faith healing evangelist from the 60’s, and since it was supposed to be the end of the world during my marathon I thought some sweet footage of this evangelist put to this awesome song was a nice fit. Enjoy!