Monday, September 21, 2009
Frosty Mountain 50km Race Report
(Me coming into the finish)
After hearing so much about how spectacular the scenery was at the 1st annual Frosty Mountain 25km/50km trail ultra event in 08', I felt compelled to check it out for myself. I had already been to Manning Park on Monday to run 35km and there I was back again, only 4 days later. We stayed in this cute little cabin with 3 others, and we slept in bunk beds no less. I haven't slept in a bunk bed since I was a little kid. I can still remember the many nights I spent fighting with my brother, just to sleep on the top. I asked Peter what he wanted 'top' or 'bottom', he said top, and I was glad because I actually wanted the bottom...funny how that changes. There was a whole bunch of people at the cabin when we got there. It was nice to relax, enjoy a beer, and wind down before going to bed.
I slept like a baby and was up at 5:45am to do my thing and eat some breaky. The weather report in the days leading up to Frosty forecast a chance of scattered showers, and pretty sunny and nice for the most part. I must say I was surprised when it was pouring down rain. I was hoping it would clear up because I didn't bring a jacket for the run. I really need to realize that the weather gods aren't always right and pack for every situation that could come at me. Anywho, Peter lent me his vest and I was good to go. We got there, picked up our packages, and sat in the car until 10 minutes from the start.
I was a little nervous going into it. I have only been back for 6 weeks now and haven't really put in a race pace effort. I don't think I was mentally there yet to go giv'r for near 6 hours. But, nonetheless, I needed to get in a long run and I might as well come run somewhere new. I started out near the front, running with Tamsin Anstey and John Foy for the first 15 or so minutes. The trail was pretty flat and we tempo'd quite nicely, nothing extreme. I was starting to get hot in my vest and the rain was hardly noticeable, I stopped to take it off right before we started up our first ascent of the day. By the time I got back to running, they were gone and that was the last of them I would see on the day. This hill was long and my goal was to run the entire thing, which I did. I did it, even though others around me were walking it. Sometimes when other's are walking around me while I am running, it plays on my psyche, but I didn't worry about it, I just did what I knew I could do. I took it slow, nice and easy, and ran at a pace I knew I could sustain for a long time. After about 45 minutes of climbing I was stoked to get to some flats right after the first aid station. I got into a rhythm and kept a nice smooth pace. The trail was nice and you could see a few views but nothing spectacular yet. I wouldn't see much for the rest of the day because the cloud, fog and mist from the rain was covering everything. I was pretty into the run up until we started up some super steep climb to get to the top of Frosty Mountain. I had to slow right down and got into a power hike...a weak power hike at that. I just didn't have it in me to really push on this section. A couple of guys passed me and I was struggling to hold on. The weather had turned to shit and it was starting to get really cold. This whole situation was starting to remind me of the weather I experienced at this years Miwok 100km. From the start of the race we pretty much went 17km up to get to the peak of Frosty Mountain. I had been running so well and as soon as I was forced to walk, I mentally checked out. I stopped having fun. I started having negative thoughts about dropping out. The first 25km takes you back to the start finish area so dropping there would have been easy. I just kept thinking that I wasn't 50k race ready and that I didn't want to be out here. My heart just wasn't in it. I had also thought about waiting for Peter at the 1/2 way point and running with him. Then I thought about what he might say and the fact that he may have been feeling really good and would just blow by me anyways.
(John Foy, coming into the final aid station)
(Tamsin Anstey, coming into the final aid station)
Once I got to the top of Frosty Mountain, I started descending. It was steep and one wrong step and it could be over for me. I passed all the guys that passed me going up and that made me feel a bit better, although I still was battling with negative self talk. I wasn't gunning the downhills like a normally do. I haven't really done that for a while. It's been a long time since I have raced and I couldn't even remember what gunning a downhill at max speed felt like. But, I just kept moving, passing a few more along the way. As I ran downhill I started to come around mentally. I told myself that everything would be ok. I could just take the next 25 km easy and just enjoy it. I was in second place and not all was lost. I really wanted to enjoy myself, so I changed my mentality and race plan to make that happen. The last thing I needed was a DNF. The funny thing is, I didn't really end up changing too much, I just wasn't out there killing myself. This wasn't an A race goal or anything, I was just here to run, without expectations. I got rejuvenated after seeing the volunteers that I knew at the 1/2 way mark. I switched up my bag and kept moving.
The second half was flat for about a few km's and then back up another giant/long runnable hill. Again, I ran the entire thing, while the guy quite far back walked. No one passed me and I kept a nice smooth pace. It eventually got steeper and I was forced to walk. The next section consisted of 5 mini peaks. To get to he top of each peak, you needed to power hike relentlessly. There was no running up these. Whenever I thought that the peak I just went up and over was the last one, there would be another. It was brutal. But, I had a passed a few more guys and was feeling really good. I was having fun and didn't let any of it get to me. Once I started downhill I was loving life. I honestly wasn't pushing it but I was moving down at a good pace. Again, I chased down a few more guys. I ran out of water here and I really wanted to be at the last aid station. I probably ran for over 20 minutes without water. I needed to eat and I needed to take a salt pill because I was starting to cramp in my right calf and left hip. I kept moving and finally reached the last station. But, to my surprise, there was Peter, cheering me on. I asked him if he had rolled his ankle or something and he said no. He just didn't feel like running anymore. He seemed cool and content with his decision. There was apparently 8km to the finish. I was excited for it to almost be over. I was secretly hoping they lied or calculated the course wrong and there was really only 4km left to go! In the end, it was only 5km and so, what I thought would take about 40 minutes, took 25 (Yippy). I came in 2nd female in 5:45.
That course was one of the most challenging 50km's I was ever done. A lot of people compare it and their times to Knee Knacker 50km. I personally think the course is a lot harder. It's way hillier. It doesn't suite my strengths very well but hey, not all races will. I am sooo glad I didn't drop out. I am happy I talked myself out of the negative head space I was in. It's good to go through those tough times because they do happen in races, and if you have been there once and dealt with it positively, then you know you can do the same in another situation. Congrats to Tamsin for an awesome win and time (5:25!!!). Also, congrats to Chris G.T Downie for the overall win in 5:01. He also just recently won Sinister 7 (new course record) and Stormy 100 Miler in August. I once asked him a long time ago what the G.T in his name stood for, and he said "good times". So now I pretty much just call him 'Good Times Downie'. His girlfriend, Martina, won the 25km.
After a quick soak in the lake with Tamsin, I grabbed a Hot Dog and some corn on the cob. I hadn't had a hot dog in quite some time and I must say it was a delight. The race director and master baker, Godfried, had baked some homemade pumkin pie. It was killer!
I am glad to have that race out of the way. It was a great experience in preparation for Mountain Masochist 50 mile. It made me realize that I need to work on my power hiking, for some of the stuff I won't be able to run.