Shoe Saga

I had a no-win shoe choice for my 50 miler on Saturday. But I am glad to report that it wasn’t as bad as I feared.

As per my blog last week, my new trail shoes were still numbing my feet even after 100km of being broken in. So they were out. My very well worn road shoes had no grip, and my old trail shoes has lost both their cushioning and their grip. And I figured I couldn’t break in a new pair of shoes in a couple days.

So I brought both old pairs of shoes and planned to trade them and dry socks at the half way point.

The trail was very wet with numerous creek crossings so my feet were fully wet all day long. The dirt and mud caked my feet as I discovered when I swapped the shoes. And when I had to occasionally fish out sand and tree needles.

With 1 hour to go I suddenly had a blister coming on. I searched for the cause, perhaps some sand but frustratingly I couldn’t find it. It sure was painful though. But after inspecting after the race, a blister had not even materialized. I have super sensitive feet but I was sure they had been falling apart.

The very rocky terrain did a number on my grip. It seemed that well over half of the trail was loose sharp rocks that kept moving under my feet. With no grip to start with it was a bit hairy in sections. And for the parts that were not rocky, they were muddy. Better grip would have been very helpful but it probably would have been worn off by the end too.

And cushioning? I would have loved some cushioning. I was jealous of all those Hokas I saw out there.

This week I will be babying my feet. Sandals and bare feet will be my main choices for a while now.

And I will be doing some shoe shopping before my next race.

Trying to Smile for 50 Miles

Well we found the start line easy enough even in the pitch dark. We just had to find all the head lamps lined up listening to the final instructions. There seemed to be lots of nervous energy, me included.

The start of the Ironlegs 50 Miler race was in the rain and it rained for much of the race. It made for some parts to be very miserable but luckily rarely was it a down pour. Despite the weather, there were smiles and joking everywhere, throughout the day. Everyone was in the same boat (or maybe in the same flood).

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We only needed head lamps for the first 5 minutes of the race so many of us just relied on other people’s head lamps for that first bit. It made for a tentative slow start with everyone bunched up but it spread out soon enough. When there are so many hours to go it is not worth getting stressed out what part of the group you are in. Within several kilometres the amount of passing slowed down considerably as we found our place and as our legs woke up to the realization that this was going to be a long day.

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At first we were dodging the puddles until someone chided us that our feet were going to be sopping wet pretty soon any way. What were we doing? We had lots of creeks to cross yet. And yes there were a lot of water crossings and puddles throughout the day. And we soon remembered that getting wet when you are wet already is a lot of fun. And it didn’t take long until we couldn’t get wetter.

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Those of us who had done reconnaissance on the trails at least knew what the views were supposed to look like without the fog and rain. I felt sorry for those who hadn’t seen the area before that day. They missed out on a lot of mountain scenery.

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The hills were relentless. They just kept coming and coming. On average, half the race was 10% uphill and the other half was 10% downhill. That’s 4200m up and 4200m down over 87km. It felt like it would never end. There’s a reason it is called the toughest 50 miler in Canada.

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Well it did end. 13.5 long hours later. I came in 20th overall out of maybe 80 runners. So I am pretty proud of that. I didn’t smile all the way, but it is pretty amazing to be out there and to prove to yourself that you can do this.

Thanks for the amazing volunteering and aid stations in that drizzling rain all day. And my amazing family who came out to a couple aid stations and to steady me after the finish line.

Don’t ask me if I am going to do it again. The pain is still pretty fresh and the couch will be aiding my slow recovery for a while yet.