Race Report: Lost Soul Ultra 100K 2018 : 'The HB' Project

Moral of this entire story lol. You can go back to work now;)

Moral of this entire story lol. You can go back to work now;)

A HUGE thank you goes out to every single volunteer and race organizer who helped put on this amazing event.  I've said it before, I have never been to a race with as much SOUL as the Lost Soul Ultra and you should definitely check it out for yourself!

Always amazed and super stoked to be able to run 100kms!

100K.  Never easy. Always hard.  And always beautiful:).  Running 100K always blows my mind and the body never ceases to amaze me with its capacity to endure.  This was a special 100K journey for me for two main reasons...  A freak calf tear took me down at the end of June and my body rallied just in time to sneak in 2 real weeks of running before the race-  so it was a huge gift to be healed just in time to make it to the start line!  And...this race was a special project for me to experiment with my body and mind with the goal of finding a way beyond  'The Heart Burn', once and for all.  Come along for the ride if you want to get inside my brain and body for a 100k lol!  Warning, this will not a short race report, but it will be a long one!

Lost Soul 100K Ultra.  I don't usually do races more than once.  But last year, I left a tiny piece of my soul in the hot, dry coulees of the Old Man River valley...so I figured it was only a matter of time until I returned.  A bit of background to explain the theme of this race report;)...
Last year, I jumped into the LSU a week beforehand when the universe called and a spot opened up for me.  I wasn't planning on running any ultras last year, after spending the previous year rehabbing from a head injury and whiplash.  But my body rallied and the lily pads appeared before me, so I jumped on them and at the chance to get back into the Western States lottery by running the LSU 100k in a qualifying time.  100k in under 21 hours, that was all I had to do.  I started out feeling amazing, but my nemesis, 'The HB' returned with vengeance and took me down for about 20kms, paralyzing my mojo and slowing my pace to a crawl.  I have been dealing with this painful issue in all running races over 5 hours, since my first ultra, the Canadian Death Race, back in 2010.  I have never had heart burn in my real life and cannot replicate it during training, no matter how many variables I try to manipulate.  I am well practiced at managing pain and discomfort, as we all must learn to do, in endurance training and racing.  But I had never been able to manage the suffering associated with the HB and instead, I simply hoped that it wouldn't return and tried to manage it, unsuccessfully, with over the counter medication.  

The pain associated with the HB is quite uncomfortable, like a softball at the bottom of my throat, that stabs with every step, threatening to cut off my breathing, make me vomit and make everything like eating and drinking and focusing on more important things, like running lol, very difficult.  Those who know me, know I have been a barfaphobic my entire life.  It's related to the inability to breathe while barfing and similar to the panic of a drowning swimmer, I will push you down and claw you out of the way if it would help, to avoid barfing lol.  If you have ever lived with a real phobia, you know how debilitating these crazy things can be.  We rework our lives to avoid the source of our phobias, avoid even speaking about them and will do absolutely anything to prevent meeting them.  They are also completely made up in our minds.  They aren't real at all.  The panic and anxiety associated with a phobia is the result of our perception of threat.  There is no threat unless we decide there is.  

I have always been intrigued with the power of the mind and spent time studying sports psych and sociology as part of my Kinesiology degree in University.  Our minds are the most powerful tools we have and a big part of my personal training as well as that of my athletes has always involved developing and practicing mental skills.   Over the past few years, however, I have invested even more time and energy 'rewiring' my brain through regular mental training, visualization, thought blocking, meditation and hypnotherapy and the results have been mind blowing, to say the least.  From speed healing near show stopping injuries, to overcoming phobias and bringing more joy into my life, I have gained so much from the time spent on mental training.  The moral of this side-note is that I am learning to harness the power of the mind and the potential really is limitless.  I believe that our minds are like the final frontier, and way more amazing than space or life on Mars lol!  We haven't even scratched the surface of what we are capable of achieving by strengthening our mental skills and I am very passionate about exploring and sharing this amazing place of power, strength, happiness and healing that we all have within ourselves.

And so...back to the plot lol...

I didn't get into WS in the lottery last November (surprise surprise, it takes an average of 5 years), so I had to go for another 100k qualifier this year.  I chose to run SOB in Malibu in February and figured I had the HB sorted out by switching over the counter acid reflux meds.  Didn't work.  And I suffered.  I panicked.  I grovelled.  I cried. I even drank chocolate milk in 30 degree south california sunshine to try and make it stop (spoiler- that was a very BAD idea;).  I had so much anxiety over barfing that I did a 25km death march (again) obsessing over the pain and removing myself from my usual world of bliss and gratitude for hours on end.  I finished in time and got my qualifier, but there was no way I was going to attempt to race 100miles at WS until I had this figured out.  And, I was mad.  Mad that I was letting this obstacle take over my mind.  I needed to be stronger and take my brain back.  And so, THAT is why I returned to LSU this weekend, and why I added a second 100k to my year.  My mission was to do everything possible to manage the heart burn and train my mind to release me from the obsession with the pain and the anxiety and fear associated with the nausea and barfing.  

How did I plan to do that?  

Here is the list...I learned so many cool things about HB and barfing this year from my team!  I hope that this list helps you manage your own symptoms if you are in the same boat as I am!

Mental game: 
Hypnotherapy- My Clinical Hypnotherapist, Jeannie Spencer, led me through an awesome session that helped me to rewire my response to discomfort during exercise.  I have been getting my brain to tell me to run harder when I feel discomfort in my legs, lungs, chest and throat, instead of the conditioned response to slow down.  I practiced this with my legs and lungs during hill training sessions this year and it really is amazing, allowing me to train harder and improve my fitness that much more as a result.  It was time to put it to work for the HB during the 100k run (as I can't replicate the HB in training) and switch my focus from fear to action.

Visualization- my Naturopathic Doctor, Erika Kneeland, taught me that our brains cannot think about nausea at the same time as thinking about eating or drinking.  She told me to use this trick whenever I felt nausea and I was excited to try it during my big run.  

Mindset - I decided to change my mind and just embrace the barf.  I was over it.  The only way to get past our fears is to get cozy with them and that meant barfing if I needed to.  I wanted to find out if I would actually feel better and relieve the HB pain if I just went ahead and barfed already.  

Meds: I started taking prescription medications from both my ND and GP for two weeks and both are proven to be 90% effective against acid reflux/HB, so I crossed my fingers that I would be in that 90%.
My ND also gave me something to coat my esophagus before and during my run, in case there’s a splash or if I barf then my throat is protected from the acid.  This sounded good to me! It's called DGL Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Root.
Nutrition: I planned to change my race nutrition to consuming 50% calories in liquid form which should result in less work to digest (and hopefully, therefor less acid production), more acid dilution and a bigger pressure gradient to facilitate elimination from the stomach as I would also be drinking more than usual.  I would use Gu Roctate Summit Tea every other fueling hour and and pre hydrate with UCan superstarch a couple of hours before the run.  Because of my calf tear and lack of endurance training this summer, I didn't have much time to practice with these fuels, but when I did use them, they worked awesome for me.
Mechanical: My ND taught me how to press on my lower esophageal sphincter to stimulate it to tighten up!
Avoiding Irritants:My ND also taught me that there are many things that make acid reflux worse and these were the things to avoid- Peppermint and Chocolate both encourage the esophageal sphincter to relax (avoid!) and of course avoiding acid forming foods such as tomato sauces, wine and coffee.  She also recommend that I avoid gels with the thickener carageenen, as it is difficult to digest and can create stress along with additional acid build up in the stomach.  
WOW!!  I had so many exciting tools to experiment with I just couldn't wait to run the LSU 100k!  Let's find out what worked:) 

On to the race report:)  

I want to include a bit more about my mental process and a bit less about the stats and details of the legs of the race in this report- you can read more about the course itself in my first LSU race report here.  


Secondary to my HB project,  I did have some bold pace goals in the back of my mind to try and beat my previous time and then some, if my body allowed.  Sad but true, however, I had been sidelined for much of the summer, during what would have been my peak training period from end of June until mid August.  I was able to run again about 4 weeks before race day and I ended up healing just in time to squeeze in 1 big week of training for LSU.  Training for 100k in one week is not only not recommended but not an effective training strategy lol!  But I wanted to make sure my tissues were healed enough to tolerate the mechanical stress of the 100k distance before travelling all the way to Lethbridge and risking injury in the process.  After my big week of training, I was confident that my tissues were safe to do the run, but I was definitely hurting in the physiology department ( read: out of shape lol).  I was just stoked to get to do LSU and have a chance to practice all of my experiments!  


LSU is two 50ish k loops- with loop 1 having an extra leg.  So, loop 1 is 54k and loop 2 is 46k. Some thoughts and musings and themes from each leg...

Leg 1 Loop A 7kms- In the start chute and over the first kms I heard all of the usual negative self talk that comes with the nerves and pre-race anxiety that is so common amongst athletes.  "Not looking forward to the heat."  "My knee has been bothering me, but we will see what happens." "I hear lap two is when the suffering begins." Personally, I really try to cultivate only positive thoughts and speak only positive words when I need them most, but I know how much of a habit this negative chatter can be.  I work to flip these thoughts as they come into my mind (which they always do) and speak to myself and others from the other side.  "Good thing it isn't as hot as last year."  "At least it's not raining." "My knee feels awesome this morning!" etc.  I could have obsessed about my fear of the HB coming, or worry that my calf wouldn't hold up, or stress that I might cramp because it was so hot... but...no thanks!  I was bouncing up and down with SO much stoke just to be here!!  So much gratitude to have made it to the start line for an opportunity to move my body and try all of my experiments!  And it wasn't raining hahaha!  Off we went on our big adventure!  The pace was quick but relaxed at the front of the pack, as we started out downhill, aiming to get ahead of the masses and find our groove in the narrow, hilly single track.

At one point we ran through a tiny patch of trees (there are only about 20 on the entire course haha) and the golden colour of the leaves jumped out at me with their beauty, which I don't remember noticing last year.  I snagged a bright yellow leaf and held it in my fingers for the next 15kms or so,  to remind me of my connection to the nature, my place within the flow and to remind me to stay relaxed and peaceful, by holding it gently and twirling it through my fingers:) The littlest things can make a big difference to our mojo.

Me and my little golden leaf!

Me and my little golden leaf!

At the end of the leg I was ahead of pace for my dream goal, a few minutes faster than last year and feeling great.  I was working on pushing my pace on the descents and flats during this race, to always be up against the top of my Zone 2 intensity, using rate of perceived exertion.  So far so good.  I didn't stop- ran right through.

Leg 2 Loop A-8.4kms I knew what to expect.  The tricks of the terrain, always hiding one more little hill, the stench of the sewage treatment plant, the steeper than you expect, narrow single track descents.  I didn't want to risk injury or get bitten by a hidden rattlesnake trying to pass the 'steady does it train' so I settled in to another groups pace, taking me off my descending plan for a little while.  Eventually I took my passing chance so that I could do my own thing once again and pounded out the beautiful steep descent into Softball aid, feeling amazing, but surprised to find myself a few minutes behind my 'dream goal pace' and 5 minutes slower than last year.  Again, I didn't stop, my plan was to limit the aid station stops and run through to Pavan while it was still early in the day and a bit cooler.  My litre of water would last 2.5hours until it got hotter and I willed my feminine hygene products to last as long.  Did I mention I got the period from hell again for this years LSU??  YUP.  Oh the freaking joys.  What are the odds?  1/4 I guess lol.  #solame #notagift #tmi #dontcare

Leg 3 Loop A-9.6kms Softball aid to Pavan.  I had a goal of pushing the pace on this leg and figured I could make up the most time on this 10k section of the race compared to the previous years time.  It worked!  I ran harder down the hills and worked to keep my Z2 up regardless of terrain.  I let my breathing rise on the climbs, but never let my legs burn, to ensure I was not pushing into Z3 too early.  Last year I did this leg in 1:14 and this year I was into aid in 1:06 and feeling amazing!  No fatigue whatsoever.  I was very happy with this.  

And.. I was blown away by the wild sunflowers on this leg...what a gift!  They were on their way out for the season, but you could see the occasional tiny yellow flowers peeking out of the tall dry grasses and they filled me with joy- little gifts along the trail.  I traded my yellow leaf for a tiny yellow sunflower and tucked it into my pack so I could see it out of the corner of my eye.  A piece of beauty to remind me how lucky I was just to be there.

Wild sunflowers - such a gift on the trail:)

Wild sunflowers - such a gift on the trail:)

Then I arrived at the best Aid station ever... and I got a hug from Leo, the amazing Pavan Aid captain!  Every year, Leo calls out in the FB group to take request from racers - and he delivers!  Seriously!  Grilled cheese?  OK.  Margaritas?  Yup.  Vegetarian Pizza?  You got it.  This year, I asked for a hug:)  And I got 2 - thanks Leo!

Leg 4 Loop A-16kms  Pavan back to Pavan on the longest leg of the course.  I don't run this as a 16k, however.  Just like I break down the 100k  into short sections in my mind, from aid to aid, I break this longest one into 3 parts as well.  5k to the first water stop, 6k to the next and 5k from there to Pavan aid.  I can usually make myself run faster, when I do it this way, but the main reason is to prevent mental fatigue.  The thought of running 16kms, let alone 100 is much harder on the mind and therefor the body, then the thought of running 5kms.  There are so many ways to put this segmentation technique into practice and I use it all the time in training as do my clients.  Break your reps down in the gym down...count down instead of up, break your intervals up - live only in the current segment and you will completely change the perceived fatigue associated with the experience.  Very cool and very effective!  Lying to yourself is a big part of mental training for performance;)  

Half way through this loop, after the climbing was behind me, I got hit with a brutal wave of menstrual cramps.  Ugh.  I didn't take any medication that morning, wanting to try and avoid any possible stomach irritation that may be contributing to The HB, but the gig was up.  Only the ladies will know the discomfort of cramps, which knock the wind out of you, make you double over, make you light headed and really drain the energy out of the rest of your body.  I took an IBP - which I NEVER do during exercise for many reasons, but it was that or walk, because nothing touches cramps other than extra strength IBP.  I was barely moving along the trail, forcing myself to run but feeling very weak, light-headed and uncomfortable.  I shuffled in, willing the IBP to kick in and save me from the discomfort.  I started noting my transition times in aid and it wasn't pretty.  My special bathroom stops were adding 5 minutes to every aid in addition to the usual changing out water bottles and grabbing snacks etc.  5 minutes by 4-6 stops is pretty lame.  But, them's the cards I was dealt again this year, so you have to accept it and focus on other things!  Men- rejoice!  One less issue for you to deal with on race day:) 

The second half of that 16km loop really is my favourite...running along Oldman River, it's gorgeous blue-green waters sending cooling energy up to the trail...the beautiful grove of tall trees providing a few minutes of shade...the soft, tall green grass and willows brushing up against your legs...the gift of a tiny bridge to keep us out of the mud.   I gave  myself a break from race brain (eat, drink, pace, aid...) and took in this special place that I was lucky enough to be visiting once again.  

Leg 5 Loop A-6.2kms Pavan to Softball over the 3 Babes.  They told me last year to watch out for the '3 bitches'.  They had me worried lol, but those bitches turned out to be babes in my world!  They are 3 very steep but very short hills and the final hills before the last climb up to Headquarters aka the start/finish.  When I got to the top of the First Babe I realized that my cramps had finally subsided.  I yelled at the top of my lungs: 'Thank you Ibuprofen!" Hahaha!  Freedom, meant I could finally start running again.  Yippee!  

I enjoyed the other Babes and the gift that each climb gave me in the form a a sweet descent on the other side.  Mind games- there are chances to play them everywhere, literally, every second of our lives.  It's all about awareness, thought blocking and flipping our perspective into more of what we want and less of what we don't want. There is a lightness of being that comes with living life on the 'bright side' and I do believe that with practice, it can become second nature for all of us, not just those who seem to have been born with 'half full' attitudes.

Leg 6 Loop A - 6.6kms Softball to Headquarters along the river.  Another section that I enjoy, this leg is quite lovely and goes by really fast as you travel through multiple landmarks and unique sections that your mind can attach itself to for scale and perspective.  Around the sewage plant (finally lol!).  Seriously, on the way back to Softball there was a massive grey cloud of nastiness being pumped into the air and I am sure it was way worse for our health than any wildfire smoke!  Ugh!  Not a selling point of this race, but really, the only negative so you have to weigh it against all of the other awesomeness:)  Then through a thick forest section,  down onto the banks of the river,  through an industrial site, back into the woods along the river, under a highway overpass, back into the woods, under the massive awe inspiring train trestle that bridges the entire valley, through a rec site and then there you are, facing the mother of all of the climbs, that takes you directly to HQ and the start/finish area.  Having landmarks in your mind, that you can check off, can make time go by faster in endurance events.  You know this from road trips- where travelling to a new place seems to take forever on the way there, but getting home seems to go by so much faster.  It's in the knowing.  When preparing for races that you haven't been to, studying the map to identify landmarks will make it feel like time is going by faster which is a nice trick to have up your sleeve in endurance events.

It was during this leg that my old friend, The Heartburn, told me it was coming back.  Ha!  I am NOT in the 90% and the medication wasn't going to work.  Figures.  But this is where the dejavu ended and instead of my usual panic and fear for the terrible journey ahead, I buckled down, got ready to deal with it and I was actually quite excited to have the chance to try out my mind games!  

I took another one of the liquorice tablets to double up on the protection of my throat and marched up the hill to HQ ready to do battle with the HB.

I was behind my dream goal pace at the half way point, by 20 minutes and behind last years time by 6 minutes.  How?  I had slowed down and not been able to recover since the cramping on Leg 4 it seemed:( Logically, I knew the odds of recovering that time and matching my target pace in the second half, with the HB, the period and the rising heat, were not stellar.  But I always leave room for hope because I have seen some amazing things happen and if you close the door to hope then it is over for sure.  So, I did my self care routine at the half way mark - re-lube feet, re-supply gels, drink my Ucan mixture, reload GU in my bottles, stare down my goey, hot Eatmore (nope), sunscreen up, ice in my bra and down my shorts and in my hat...5 minutes later and after a nice visit with RD Dean and crew and I was off onto my second and final lap.

Leg 7 B- 8.4kms HQ to Softball...one last time.  I started realizing that I would be saying goodbye to each leg, each aid and each hill and vista as I travelled past them.  That is a big mental gift in itself on a loop course.  On this leg, my mind flashed back to last year, when I was forced to stop over and over,  clutching my chest, trying to breath through the pain in my throat and panicking that my race was over.  I had no idea how I would ever finish in time to get my WS qualifier, with that much pain and nausea and 46kms to go still.  I ran past the spot on the trail that Devon, last years overall winner, passed me, while I was doubled over in pain, asking if I was ok as he ran on by.  I didn't know it at the time, but that I had been in first place overall before he passed me.  My brain could never have computed that as I had never been at the front of a race before, but these are the wild things that are possible...so I know now to never rule them out...and neither should you;)  I ran down the steep downhills that I had been forced to walk the year before due to fear of throwing up... I ran the flats that I had shuffled along the previous year while throwing a pity party for myself.  I trekked past the spot high on the hill, above the dog park, that I remember, so clearly, making the decision to sit down and force myself to eat a gel, taking 15 minutes to get it down.  I felt my race friend, Tyler, pulling me up and down the rest of the hills on that leg, as he had done after snapping me out of my pity party on the hill, the year before.  I felt the same pain, but perhaps slightly less intense, due to the liquorice root or to my state of mind or both.  The pain and the pressure and the nausea and the threat of barfing was there, just as it had been the year before, with every single step.  But I chose to run instead.  The more I felt it the harder I tried to run.

Leg 8 - 9.6kms Softball to Pavan...one last time.  I passed so many memories along the trail...but pity party was the theme I remembered most.  Dropping my popsicle in the dirt and nearly crying the year before.  This time, instead, I picked another sunflower and twirled it in my fingers for a distraction.  At the top of the first big hill, the pressure and pain intensified and I decided to go for the barf to see if it would help.  I had no fear at all. My main concern was getting out of view of the racer behind me so I wouldn't disturb his journey!  The coast was clear and I went for it.  Hahaha!  Well that was a big deal about nothing my entire life lol!  Not fun, but just another cool thing that our bodies can do.  Anyways, I won't bore you with the details but it didn't work.  No change on the pressure in my chest- lame.  I was hoping that the pressure was just a giant bubble of gas that needed letting out, but no dice.  But at least now I know.  And so, I ran on and I worked on the cool tricks that my ND had shared with me - triggering my sphincter to tighten with a few pressure points and deep breathes on the climbs and visualizing myself drinking a cold bottle of grape kombucha, to prevent the nausea from taking over on the descents.  And...it worked!!  That visualizing one is a keeper, for nausea management.  Try it if you need it!  

I looked a my watch on this leg and realized I was moving much slower the second time around, actually matching the paces that I ran this leg in the year prior, in HB death march land.  Even though I was running the descents that I had been forced to walk the year before, I was moving much slower on the climbs.  I was feeling very lightheaded and every time I would push my pace I would get waves of dizziness.  It was hot.  I was struggling to get enough fluids in, even though I was drinking up to 1.5 litres per hour now.  Normally I can get away with 1-2 cups per hour but the heat was just sucking it out of me.  I hadn't peed all day and yet I was chugging litres of water.  My black clothes were covered in white salt and dripping with sweat.  I was at 66kms, the 2/3 mark and the point where I allow myself to listen to my tunes:).  Delayed gratification is another huge mental tool for the toolbox.  Save something that you have to earn as a way to motivate yourself to keep going and to lift your spirits when you need it most.  Music is one of my superpowers and so I try to force myself to save it until the final 1/3 of a long race, if I can.  I stopped, got my tunes out and peeled off my tank top because it was hanging off of me with 2 pounds of sweat and had pretty much turned into a mini dress.  I kept my music low, as I was experiencing a bit of stimulation overload, with all of the things going on in my body, but it gave me a little boost, distracted me as I sang along in my head and gave me a rhythm to try and match on the climbs.   

Leg 9 - 16kms Pavan long loop- last time!  I power walked out of aid, baby jogged along the road and started up the big climb.  I was sharing the trail with a friendly racer (Todd!) and we were back and forth managing our uncomfortable symptoms and rallying each other through the highs and lows.  He would seize up and fall off the back.  I would get dizzy on the climbs and he would trek on past me.  We were leap frogging and I was willing him to rally and keep on keeping on.  Besides him, I only saw one other human (who had fallen back from the lead pack and was doing a quad thrashed death march with a set of poles he borrowed) over the entire, final 50k lap.  We were all settled into our paces for the most part, spread out on the course and pushing ourselves towards the finish line one step at a time.

At the top of the first big hill I realized the light was changing, the sun was starting to set and that is must be much later than I thought it was.  I looked at my watch.  6:30pm??  How could that be possible?  The year prior, I had finished this second 16k loop just before dark, managing to get back to Pavan aid without having to turn on my headlamp.  This time, I had expected to be finished the race let alone this leg, before dark lol (oh how things change!).  I didn't realize the time when I left aid, so I didn't even think to bring my headlamp.  Ooops.

I knew the first lap had taken me 1:47...last year the second lap took me almost 2.5 hours with the HB sufferfest.  I held my fingers up to the horizon...with 15 minutes per finger, I calculated I had two hours until sundown.  Shit.  My motivation to hustle suddenly got ramped up a few notches.  I was going to be caught in the dark woods along the river.  Fack.  I had my iPhone light, but it wouldn't be pretty if it came down to that.  

Sunset in the prairies

Sunset in the prairies

After noting the time, I started reflecting on where I was at this time last year and where I was now, this year... it wasn't adding up how I had expected it to.  I had expected to be ahead of last year once I had forced myself to run through the HB.  But other factors were still causing my pace to slow... Was it the heat causing my weakness?  It was supposed to have been hotter the year before, but this year felt much hotter, without the layer of smoke to shield us from the sun.  Was it the medication I had taken?  Was it the new fuel I was using, the Gu?  It tasted amazing and I couldn't get enough of it, wishing I had chosen to use it for all of my calories.  It was so much easier to drink the Gu Summit Tea with its barely there, light lemon/tea flavour (not sweet at all!) then to try and gag down my gels, even if they were 'healthier' ones, the Huma's.  LOVED and sold on the Gu Summit Tea btw!  But, it was a new experiment for me...was my body using the energy the same?  Had I taken in enough calories with an average of 200/hour?  Was I diluting my sodium intake by drinking more water per hour this year?  Was it just that I was in worse conditioning/fitness than I was this time last year?  I was trying to push myself, but it just wasn't happening.  My legs felt so strong, but my system felt weak.  My exertion level did not reflect the pace on my watch.  It was a very strange feeling for me.

Magic moment. But I am about to get caught in the woods in the dark! Eeek!

Magic moment. But I am about to get caught in the woods in the dark! Eeek!

Thoughts on expectations...

When I realized I was actually moving the same pace or even a bit slower, than I was in the HB sufferfest the year before, I felt a heavy weight of disappointment fall over me.  I was disappointed in myself for not being able to run faster but I couldn't figure out why I felt so weak.  I was disappointed that I had worked so hard to overcome my fears and still it wouldn't improve my finish time as I had expected.  I was disappointed that I had come all this way and spent so much money and endured this discomfort and I wasn't even going to finish faster than the year before (even though that wasn't the reason I came here).  I was disappointed that I wasn't more fit (forgetting entirely that I had only started running again 4 weeks before the race and I was lucky just to be there).  

I very rarely feel disappointed in myself, it's not an emotion I am used to feeling and it was not a place I wanted to be.  It is misdirected energy, in my opinion, and accomplishes nothing productive unless it is channeled into some positive action.  So, I decided to move on to acceptance.  It would be what it would be.  I would stop looking at my pace and splits and focus my energy on simply running as fast as I could and enjoying every single moment.  When my mind wandered to how much distance was left, I brought it back and focused on pumping my arms harder.  When I felt weak and slow, I focused on increasing the speed of the sound of my feet on the earth.  When I felt disappointed that I wasn't moving faster, I moved faster.  I controlled what I could control, accepted the rest and then I could relax, knowing I had done all I could in each moment.  And that is all we can really ever do.

I got outside of my brain and I looked around at all of the beauty I was immersed in.  I took it in.  I stopped and truly witnessed the most amazing prairie sunset.  I watched the colours paint the banks across the river.  I felt the grass with my hands.  I took my music out and listened to the water rushing down the river.  

And all the while I raced against the clock, for fear of getting stuck in total darkness in the woods!  I couldn't see shit on the final few kms in the woods and I stumbled along blindly, willing my terrible night vision eyes to adjust to the darkness.  Zero depth perception and whole lot of high knees and hope and I got out of the woods alive lol.  It was near full darkness when I hit the paved path and arrived at Pavan for the very last time.  Phew!

Leg 10 - 6.2kms back to Softball aid...bye bye Leo and Pavan!  I got one more hug, thanked Leo and told him I would never see him again;), re-supplied, had my usual bathroom break and took off towards the 3 Babes, stoked to see them all one last time.  I took my headlamp and the one that I borrowed from Dean, one of the RD's, the day before.  I had forgotten a back up light and the rules required it for night legs, so Dean was very kind to loan me his for the race.  Turns out he absolutely saved my hide!  Running out of aid, I turned on my headlamp and 2/3 bulbs were dead!  It didn't even illuminate my hand in front of it.  I had a totally useless light!  This is why they require a second light, people.  Eeesh.  It would have been a VERY long and very slow, not to mention dangerous, walk to the finish line, using the light on my iPhone lol!  Thank you thank you thank you Dean!  

Ack!  Then I ran into this guy I had forgotten about!!  

What would you do if you ran into this guy in the dark woods!

What would you do if you ran into this guy in the dark woods!

I woohoooed and did a little dance at the top of each Babe.  Woohooo!  Goodbye Babe #1!   Thank you body!  Thank you mind!  Thank you universe!  I yelled into the starry night sky.  The temperature had cooled off significantly now and I had to put my arm sleeves on to manage the temp just right.  It felt lovely and my dizziness disappeared entirely after the sun went down.  Wooohooo! Goodbye Babe #2!   Thank you Jeannie (my Hypnotherapist), thank you Erika (my Naturopath), thank you Derek (my chiro), thank you Michelle (my acupuncturist), thank you Amber (my massage therapist) thank you Kendra (my Physio)...I yelled loud and with pure love into the darkness.   Wooohooo!  Goodbye Babe #3!  Thank you friends!  I love you friends!  

I was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy for all of the amazing people in my life, that support me and share this journey with me.  I wouldn't have been on those Babes under that starry sky, without them:)

Once I released myself from the chains of expectations and splits and finish times, I was filled up once again with joy, love and pure gratitude, like I usually am.  This is a powerful lesson for me... Self love IS freedom.   I learned this from my Hypnotherapist, Jeannie Spencer, this past year.  But it wasn't until this particular moment that I felt the true power of this lesson wash over me.  Wow.  I hope you have felt this too.  If not, it is well worth practicing!  Release yourself from expectations now and then...it creates room for light and self love and it feels amazing:)

OK, let's get this run done.  I was ready to get to the end now...and I am sure you are too lol!

Leg 11 6.6kms Softball to the finish line.  This was a special leg for me...in the darkness, once again, just like last year, although I had envisioned finishing before the sun went down this time, life IS full of surprises;).  I pushed out every last thing I had left, forcing myself to run harder when I thought I couldn't, to lunge into the downhills and to drive my legs hard on the little climbs.  I did all that I could, I ran with a massive smile on my face and tears filling my eyes as I got closer and closer to the final climb.  I pushed hard to the finish line listening to one of my favourite tunes (Henry Green, 'Another Light') and when I got to the end, half an hour slower than the previous year, I was filled with stoke, soooo happy and more than satisfied:)  Another wild journey.  Hard to put into words.  Likely hard to sit through for this long lol!  But I write my race reports for me first, and this one was definitely one I needed to process.  So many lessons learned!  If you read it, I hope that you found something you needed amongst the 10,000+ words too!  

Big hugs and happy trails!  Don't ever forget how powerful your mind is!  Put it to work for you!

  • 13 hours 44minutes

  • 2nd female

  • 7th human
    1st in my age cat

Salming T3s - my feet have never been so happy! Not a single blister.  

5 servings GU Summit Tea (240 cals each plus mega sodium)

5 Huma gels (140 cals each)

1 GU caramel machiato gel ("")

.5-1.5 litres of water per hour

2-3 salt tabs and 1 ginger pill per hour

2 DGL liquorice root tabs (worked!)

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I couldn't eat any real food at all...with the constant nausea and pain in my chest, not even a freezie!  So I didn't get to enjoy the amazing aid station food smorg that this race offers.  You should see what they have!  Check out the list of aid station food in the images at the start...and that is just the beginning.  The finish line crew was so sweet, they encouraged me to take a plate of food back to my room for snacking on and it was so amazing to much on boiled potatoes, rice balls, bbq salmon and watermelon as my appetite returned.  

PS:  I am happy to say, that I did go back and get that little piece of my soul that I left in the coulees last year:)  And although I said goodbye to every single hill as I ran down it, swearing to never return...it's only been 24 hours and I already know I will be back.  Cuz I just know I can run it faster lol! 

I will see you guys again one day!  Thanks for everything!