50 for 50km: Squamish50 {Belated} Recap

As is my custom, this Squamish50 50km recap is overdue and randomness put to page.  I make no apologies.  Enjoy!

  1. Rookie mistake: I forgot my watch.   We were on Highway 1 at Capilano Road (25 minutes from home) before I noticed.  Thankfully it wasn’t our race day and we had left with enough time to go back and retrieve it.  It was on my living room table.
  2. Volunteering for a race (in my case, marshaling the 50mi the day before my own 50km) is a great way to feel bad about yourself psych yourself out be inspired. Colin and I were stationed before the finish line at Smoke Bluffs Park “Turn left, stay left, just over 2km to go…”  We got to see the lead pack come through and, wow, it’s amazing how fast people can run and not look like death.  I’m sure it would be different later in the race, but I didn’t see too many vacant non-comprehending stares.  Just one or two that I kept an eye on to make sure they turned the right way…
  3. Seeing friends (and familiar faces aka “friends” I “know” through online “stalking”) finish their races/journeys was incredible. There were a lot of emotions on show at the finish line both on the Saturday (50mi) and Sunday (50km/23km).  It felt like an honour to have others share how their days went as sometimes events like these are extremely personal.  **probably also why this race recap is a month past due **
  4. Pizza – Margherita, at Howe Sound Brewing, for those wondering – makes a good pre-race meal. However, when you decide that it’s so tasty you should have just one.more.piece, don’t.  It will end up as a ball of dough sitting just at the bottom of your esophagus, refusing to go into your stomach to be digested.  It will cause you to worry that you will have some very private issues out on the trails the next day.  It will mean that Imodium will be your friend.  Just in case.
  5. A 6am start time, with a 4:30am shuttle, means that going to bed late was dumb. Our wake up time was 3-something.  It came very early.
  6. Breakfast was a banana and a Blueberry Boomdizzle Picky Bar.
  7. When you see a person walking down an empty street at an ungodly hour of the morning in the pitch black and you know that the walk to the shuttles is a) still a ways to go and b) axe-murderer scary you stop and offer them a ride.
  8. Riding a school bus when you are an adult is weird. I still have issues with the no-seatbelt thing.
  9. You would think, for the only reason of not having a couple of hundred runners peeing (or worse) in the bushes at a provincial park, said park officials would have remembered to come by and unlock the good bathrooms. At least we remembered where the lesser known pit toilets were and we didn’t have to wait too long.
  10. Group selfies are a must. I love having friends who insist this is a race day requirement.
  11. There’s something fun about an RD who counts down his race standing atop a picnic table and then just yells, “Go!”, to start it off. It’s official, but personal.
  12. I feel a little badly for anyone who camped at Alice Lake on the weekend of 16-17 August 2014. It’s not usual for a few hundred people to run by your tent when you’re probably not even awake yet.  At least we weren’t bears?
  13. Embracing my slowness meant that a lot of people passed me right off the bat. And I caught up to them within about 8 minutes because we bottle-necked into the forest.  Ha!  Not that I saw them again after getting through that, but still.  I’ll take my victories where I can get them.
  14. Forest, forest, roots, a lake, forest, roots, small hill, forest, Ginger Runner, forest, roots, PANIC ATTACK.
  15. Approximately 2.5km into the run I had a full-on, breath into my paper bag buff, wheezing panic attack. I attribute it fully to not having any sort of breakdown during taper aka Taper Tantrums / Taper Crazies.  Next time I will happily freak my crap out prior to race day.  I don’t ever want to be standing on the side of the trail looking like the crazy as other runners go by again.  I really should have just bawled my eyes out and screamed at the trees to achieve some sort of catharsis.  Lesson learned.
  16. I am continually amazed that I won’t run around my neighbourhood by myself outside of standard lots-of-people-around hours, but I will run happily through the woods without too much stress. It probably has to do with the abundance of comfort-inducing pink flags leading my way.  Please read #4 here to get a better idea.
  17. I fell. I would like to think spectacularly, however, no one was close enough to see and verify this for me.  At 5.63km, roughly 52 minutes, into my run I had a stick completely jump out and trip me.  That is the only way I can think it happened as I was running in a flat loose dirt section.  One second I was running along minding my own business and the next I was seeing the ground come rushing up toward my face, my sunglasses go flying off my head, and my buff fly out of my hand into the dirt.  Immediately I checked to see if a) I was broken {no}, b) if Sherwood, my Suunto Ambit2, was okay {yes!}, c) if I was bleeding {no – mostly scratches and what would turn into a few excellent bruises}.  I dutifully hit the lap timer so I could know exactly when I was wronged and carried on.
  18. Hills are {{insert your favourite pejorative here}}.   Especially switchbacks.
  19. Having runners who were out to complete the inaugural 50/50 race – that’s 50mi Saturday AND 50km Sunday – pass you is a bit of a mood killer. Not that I wasn’t proud of perfect strangers for getting out there…
  20. Pit toilets are my friend. Which is why I was so happy to get to aid station 1 and that I knew where the secret toilet was.  Just wish it had had toilet paper.  The little bit that was crumpled up on the side was definitely a no-go.
  21. PLASTIC SCHEISSE & GALACTIC SCHEISSE! MUSIC!! MY iPOD IS A SHUFFLE GENIUS!!!  Roughly 5km of continual uphill called for a distraction.  Amazingly, I enjoyed every single song that played.  Thankfully no one was close enough to hear me singing Eminem’s Not Afraid incredibly loudly and likely very off-key.  I was having a great time.  Note: I am extremely glad I was able to do Galactic twice in training.  It was the one part of the trail that I was scared of.
  22. I ran (hiked?) into Barb on Galactic. I had run with her at Buckin’ Hell – I still haven’t quite forgiven her for dropping distance then… I was so close to not coming in last! – and it was awesome to see a familiar face.  We didn’t talk a ton as I had music in and was huffing and puffing along.  However, we kept pace and kept each other company.  We would end up running the majority of the race together which was great mentally for both of us.
  23. Random moment: as I was descending off of Galactic to Upper Power Smart I decided I was going to put my music away. I asked the next marshal – who turned out to be a guy I used to work with!  It wasn’t surprising that he was volunteering as I knew he was a downhill mountain biker and adventure racer.  It was just unexpected.
  24. Downhills are {{insert your favourite complement here}}.
  25. One of my goals was to make cutoff at Quest University, which was 11:15am. That gave me 5 hours and 15 minutes to get there.  I made it in 4 hours 43 minutes and left the aid station 10 minutes later.  Goal accomplished!
  26. Fig bars. Buy them.  They are, hands down, the best thing ever when running long distances.  I even forgot to peruse the aid station table at Quest for anything else.
  27. When at aid stations, peruse. I really wanted watermelon about 3km after leaving Quest.
  28. The one part of the trail I didn’t pre-run was Climb to Angry Midget. So glad I didn’t.  It was long and never-ending.  Had I known that was coming I would have dreaded it.  Instead I kept my head down and kept going.  I am a bit peeved that my legs didn’t want to let me enjoy the downhill at A.M.  It was the only part of the race that my knees hurt.
  29. Seeing a member of our running group at the bottom of A.M. was awesome. She even had a sign with our group name and the names of all of us who were running that weekend!  It was a huge morale boost.
  30. I finally got my desired watermelon at aid station 4. It was just as good as I wanted it to be.
  31. I don’t pee in the woods. I needed to.  I got stage fright 3 separate times.  Laugh if you want.  It ruined my favourite section of the whole run.  I couldn’t get any flow (pun intended), but each time I even thought about going I’d suddenly not have to anymore.  However…
  32. … Squamish50 will forever be known as “the day Alanna learned to pee in the woods” or, at least, “the day she found a log on the side of a road and peed quickly before the dog walker with +5 dogs came up the path and saw her”.  In true trail runner fashion I have friends who appreciate and celebrate this fact!
  33. Getting to aid station 5 was the best feeling ever.  I had friends there who could give me updates on others.  I knew I only had 10 hard kilometers left.  They had watermelon.  They had ice.  Ice!  They filled my hydration pack with it.  And they gave me a baggie for my buff.  Best friends ever!
  34. Barb and I were still running together. So thankful.
  35. I was on autopilot by this point. I don’t remember much after aid station 5.  Just that when I got to Endo I knew that time was more important to me than finishing.
  36. This race has an 11 hour cutoff. I was starting to calculate splits in my head and it was nagging at me.  I let Barb go.  Not to be mean, but to run my own race.  It wasn’t discussed.  It just happened.  This is why trail friends are awesome.  They understand.
  37. I wish I hadn’t picked up a 50/50 runner at this point. She was using me as a pacer, I think, but I was a bit irked by her stick.  Aside from the fear that she’d errantly hit me with it I was a little torn.  I kind of wanted to turn her in for using an aid – believe me, I could have gone faster, too, with something to lean on – but she was on her 2nd race in two days so I let it go…
  38. Mountain of Phlegm. If you’ve run any race in the Squamish50 weekend you know.  It just sits there in wait mocking you as you make your way there.  You feel like you’re doing well.  You think, “it can’t be too hard“.  Then it rises up and knocks you on your ass.  And it was a freaking hotbed of mosquitoes this year.  I stopped to talk to my friend Ed, who was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (and who would overcome it to finish!), and got about 9 bites.
  39. When I hit the top of Mountain of Phlegm I had 4km left. And about 50 minutes.  By the time I got off the hill with 3km left I had 35.
  40. My mantra from Smoke Bluffs Park to the finish line was “You are not allowed to walk”. Man, did I want to walk.
  41. I was only slightly confused to be yelled at by 2 girls in a car when I was running along the last stretch of road. Turned out to be Candice and Hilary!  Your cheers were so appreciated!
  42. The splits for my last 3km were: 9:06, 8:09, and 7:52. I am as proud of this as I am of finishing.
  43. I briefly registered that Colin and many of my friends were waiting at the finish line, but, darn it, I was sprinting as if my life depended on it to get done and get my hug from RD Gary Robbins. He gives good hugs.
  44. Official time: 10:49:42.1. Yes, that millisecond is important.  Goal accomplished!
  45. I didn’t finish last!!! Goal accomplished!
  46. I had a really good race. There were way more positives than negatives (and, really, any of my negatives were inconsequential compared to others).
  47. Volunteers are amazing. I can’t say enough good things about everyone who pitched in on race weekend.  There were so many people who raced Saturday and volunteered Sunday and vice versa.  The less thinking I had to do the better.  Please know you have my gratitude.
  48. Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford. Thank you.
  49. This picture makes me think things I probably shouldn’t be thinking.
  50. 50 miles – I’m coming for you.

2 responses

  1. gina

    I’m so proud of you! I wish I could be running beside you hearing your tale of the day conquered 50km. Can’t wait for you to teach me everything you know 🙂

    September 21, 2014 at 9:12 pm

  2. Wow, congrats on finishing a 50k – that’s awesome!!

    September 25, 2014 at 5:10 pm

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