Sunday, September 5, 2010

North Face Canadian Death Race (Post Mortem) :)

So yes, this is over a month late. And really, after a month is a race report even valid? My husband says yes. In fact, he says "Do it for me". And how can I argue with that? He is the husband extraordinaire, and he did support me in my race (and every day before and after). And he rarely askes me for anything. Plus, I would like a record of this somewhere. So here goes.
The training:
From Jan- June I trained high mileage and built up my endurance. I was running 100km plus a week and felt like I was 100% on track until...

The Death Camp:
In June I attended Death Camp. A weekend where we covered all but the first section of leg 5 either by foot or by bike. After this camp I realized that I didn't need any more mileage. I needed strength and I needed time on those trails.
After the Death Camp: I did squats, lunges, plyometrics and hill sprints. And I spent every weekend I could in Grande Cache. Thanks to Crystal I learned to love Leg 2. Thanks to H-dog and Husband I learned to love leg 4. Thanks to Sue I was scared of leg 3 (haha!) It made me run anyway...
The training was tough and I seriously contemplated dropping out before the race even started. I was starting a new business and I felt stretched as it was. I signed up for this race as a way of dealing with greif. By June I had dealt with it and that was no longer a motivation. I had to find a new purpose for doing this, and finally I did.
The Race:


My #1 goal for the race was to be the happiest soloist on the course. Honestly, I believe this is what got me through legs 1-4. I was smiling, chatting to everyone I met and even had the thought "I don't want this day to end". That thought was followed by "OMG don't jinx yourself!" LOL the fear certainly wasn't unfounded. There were walking dead all around me- and that was only leg 2! I am so glad that A) I took it easy on leg 1 and B) I knew leg 2 like the back of my hand. Leg 2 is a beast. The first time I did it I was ready to drop out of the entire venture!
By the time I got to race day I'd done it 3 times and had made my peace :) Thanks to Crystal Rhyno  I had some mind games that kept me happy and positive. Like yelling "BOGMAN" through the tough boggy sections, and singing "The road that never ends" all the way up the long road to the top of Grande.
On leg 3 I ran with a woman from Grande Cache who was a chatty Cathy and kept me entertained. She apologized for her rambling but it was great. I ran leg 3 almost start to finish. I was terrified of the cut off. And rightfully so, there were 85 people who's days ended at that cut off because they missed the 7:06 deadline. (I was there at 6:30)
Leg 4 was the longest of all. I had a short rough patch on the way up, but regrouped and felt pretty good for most of the way to the top. I passed a lot of people and had some good conversations on the way up.
On the way down I was running and keeping a good pace. And then...it got dark. Between the dust and the boulders I had to slow to a fast hike. Once I got to the 7km gravel road to the bottom I was able to jog, but it took me much longer to complete this leg than I'd planned. By the time I reached transition it was after 2am. I had blisters all over my feet, I was grumpy, sore and ready to be done. (did I mention I got my period on leg 2?)
Darin was a fantastic support crew at the end of every leg. Mostly I was easy- fill my camelback, help me change my shoes and give me any food I need. At the end of leg 4 it was different. I needed my husband. I was whiney, grumpy and in serious pain. D popped my blisters, changed my socks and shoes and tried to get me to eat/drink something warm. I was almost crying from the pain in my feet but D was so supportive and told me to just get out there and finish the last 22km.
Leg 5 was the toughest of all. The first part of the leg was the only part I've never seen and it was horrible. Overgrown (and pitch black), steep and nasty. I was really suffering, stubbing my toes on every 4th step and screaming out in pain. I was seeing things that weren't there, and just praying to get to the river for the boat crossing.
Finally I did, and after that I was on familiar turf. I was so happy to get rid of my coin to the man dressed as the grim reaper (you have to carry a coin and a timing chip through the race. If you lose either you are DQ'd). The climb out of the river bank is about 5km and STEEP. But once to the top you have a fairly flat/ rolling trail home. My bladder was on overdrive and I had to pee about 5 times, but when I hit 120km I decided to put my head down and RUN! And I did. All the way to town, and into the finish line. I have to say this finish was the most emotional and satisfying of any I've had. I've done done 4 Ironman's, 4 marathons and lots of smaller races and nothing compared to this. I was so happy to be finished, knowing I had completed the toughest physical and mental challenge of my life.
I was so happy to see D, and my friend Crystal, at the finish, 22hrs and 5 mins after I started. Other than that it is a pretty low key finish line at 6 something AM.
After:
I crossed the finish line, hugged my husband and hugged Crystal. Both of them were huge in getting me to the finish of that race. After that I just wanted to get off my feet! D and I walked (hobbled) to the motorvator a few blocks away. When I got back I wanted a shower, but after taking off my race clothes I was consumed by the shivers and couldn't imagine walking another step never mind the 3 or so blocks to the rec center for a shower. So I washed my feet, and used the baby wipes for a wash down and hit the hay.
A few hours later we woke up and were able to shower and eat.
The aftermath:
So now that the race is done and in the bag I can say for certain it was the toughest thing I've ever done. I can also say (with confidence) I don't want to do it again any time soon :)

I learned a lot about myself while training for, and during, this event. I am glad I did it, and glad I followed through and finished. I proved a lot to myself and I feel like it was what I needed to do. A month plus later the emotions are not as raw, but the lessons are just as relevant.
I finish what I start, if I am not strong enough I can find the strength, and my family are my biggest supporters and most important inspiration.

So there we have it. Race report done, moved on and moved forward. New goals are set for 2011 and I am looking forward to getting back into a regular training and blogging routine.

Fun Facts:
Total distance: 125km
Total elevation: 17000ft
Total time: 22hrs 05mins
Number of bananas consumed: 11 (thanks Julie!!!!)
Number of shoe/sock changes: 3
Number of black toe nails: 4
Number of nails lost (so far): 1

5 comments:

Keith said...

O M G !!!
Colour me seriously, seriously impressed. I looked at Ironman and said "I can train to do that". I look at Deathrace and say "no effing way."
Congratulations sounds so lame beside such an effort.

Also congratulations on the business set up. If I lived there I would totally show up.

Keith said...

Oh, and that one photo of you holding your walking sticks in your right hand and making the number 3 with your left. The one that's slightly out of focus. You look totally like a high tech tribal hunter going after your dinner.

Lisa G said...

Wow, you are AMAZING, girl! What an incredible epic feat - you should be very proud of yourself and this accomplishment.

And the race report is better late than never! I really enjoyed reading about your journey.

cherelli said...

HOLY. Words aren't enough to congratulate you on your journey to the end of Deathrace. Just, what an achievement, a huge accomplishment and a super satifying addition to the resume. Thanks for the RR, best wishes for the rest of the year.

Julie said...

Hip Hip Hooray! TEAM BANANA!!! LMAO!!!!!

I am so proud of you Amber -- and I am very glad that your hubby nudged you into writing a race report. Who cares how many days have elapsed You have a very interested audience who wanted the deets! :) :)

I LOVE that picture of you -- the grimace/snarl/errrrr....smile? -- Hahahahahaha!! AWESOME!!

What sort of things did you see or hallucinate? I am so curious as to how your mind coped with such extreme fatigue. YOU DID IT!

Wow! What an experience! Congratulations Amber!

And after finding about about poor H-Dog on facebook....give him a big kiss and good bum/belly rub from me. What a little trooper!