Sunday, April 20, 2014

Training for Elk Beaver 50 Mile Ultra 2014

My wife, Olivia, was a great help this ultra training season as she drove the support vehicle on my longer runs. Twice we left while it was still dark, early in the morning, heading along the 19A coast highway. Once, up north 45kms to Campbell River, and another time, 47kms down to the Denman island ferry station and back. Olivia drove ahead of me 8kms or so, prepared my drinks and energy gels, and always offered an encouraging word. Early in the mornings the highway traffic is low. No convenience stores, or gas stations are open though at this time, so it would've been impossible for me to find the calories and water required to complete these runs alone.
March 9th, the first day of spring, as I ran beside the ocean approaching Campbell River, the sunrise was amazing over the Rocky Mountains peaks to the east. Starting off at 5 a.m. running in fog, I had wondered how the day would progress, was the weather man's prediction for rain true?. Thankfully it wasn't - only an hour of fog to run through. Later we had clear skies, sun, and spotted eagles in the trees, and comorants on the tidal rocks. My training pace was faster than the previous year, and I wasn't experiencing the leg cramps I had when I attempted this before. Maybe it was the new, Hoka One One Stinson Tarmac, running shoes, or the mix of Power Bar/Cliff energy gels I was using for calories. Whatever, it was a great feeling to arrive in Campbell River, and celebrate by going out for a delicious brunch at Banners Restaurant with Olivia, who had helped me along the way.
At midnight, March 29th, I left the house, running south along highway 19A. Olivia was going to catch-up with me in the van and meet me 8kms down the road at the edge of Royston. I felt a sense of issolation with just my headlamp for illumination along some of the long stretches of road. When we reached Union Bay, beside the ocean, the sea lions were active, in a frenzy barking to each other. One must have been right up near the edge of the road, as it gave me quite a scare when it barked out as I ran by. I sped up my pace for a few hundred metres to get away. I safely made it to the Denman Island ferry terminal, where Olivia was waiting with the support vehicle. She had the video camera out and was making some commentary. We even managed to get a photo.
My quads felt cramped at the turn around point, so I took in extra salt capsules and Gatorade. I told myself to run in the now, that time was just an illusion, and slowly got back into pace. 4-6 hour training runs are essential if you want to be a successful ultra distance runner. There's no short cut to building up endurance. I had a low point, on a very dark section of road, and felt like stopping, but as I came around the corner I saw the dome light of the van in the distance where Olivia was preparing my drinks. I pushed on, and was encouraged by my wife that this was the last aid stop before reaching the edge of Courtenay. I made it home just as the city was coming alive, glad to have missed the traffic, and even gladder to have a hot shower.

I'll be running for the Sick Kids Foundation on May 10th as I take part in the Elk/Beaver 50 Mile Ultra. Donations can be made here: Sick Kids Foundation

1 comment:

Dad said...

Hi Rob
The link for Sick Kids goes to the older run.