Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Elk Lake 100 May 2nd.

Elk Lake 100 May 2nd.
It was my first time ever visiting Elk Lake and I wanted to ensure I get there healthy and ready to have a good time. Last year I decided not to race this event just the day before after consultations with Doctors and Athletic therapist that it was wise not to. Wow I was actually listening. So for that reason I was extra cautious to avoid over training, more aware of my surroundings when I run in the trails specially to watch for tree roots and loose rocks. I was also didn’t register for the race until 2 weeks before the race.
Getting closer to race and anxious:
I am getting better at controlling my thoughts and emotions as I am doing more ultra. I remember when I did marathons, I was stressing about a month before the race and I would go through all sorts of scenarios and mostly on the race the scenario was something that I hadn’t thought of, who said Murphy law never go wrong.. One thing I hope to do before my next race is again start preparing list of items that I need for the race. As I am improving my stress level management yet I try to rely more on my memory which isn’t always good. For example the items I forgot to pack with me for the race, as simple as zip lock bags for salt pills or rainy condition for my puffer, aluminum foil to rap my Termolyte salt pills, Luckily Victoria is big city and there are plenty of grocery stores to get them however instead of wasting time in the store Isle I could have rested.
Race nutrition, Packing and travel:
Last week by Wednesday I made sure I had all things that I needed during the race, Gels, Bottoles, Carbo-Pro, Salt pills, glide.
A week before that in my visit to NSA I had a good chat with Gary Robins and Peter Watson. I have now ran about 7 ultra races but I am still very inexperienced as far as the products out in the market that ease the ultra running pain and improve the recovery after the race.
For First time I decided to use body glide on my foot rather than baby powder but both Gary and Peter suggested I should try SportsSheild, and I am glad I did listen to them. SportsSheild worked perfectly. Time will tell how it would work for H2H but I make sure I will have an update on that in November. I am definitely blister free, Gary and Peter Thank you!
Gary also showed me the Cliff Shot Blocks that come in tubes instead of bigger and wider bags. It sure saves time, headache and frustration of taking electrolyte chew from bag while you need to go fast or cruising.
With that by Wednesday April 28 I had the nutrition that I needed for Saturday race.
Packing also went smooth however I packed seriously way more than I needed. It must be something in my gene if I only use 2 I usually take 4, it come handy for someone else if they forgotten theirs. Travel couldn’t have been smoother, roads were clear even at busy time of the day, no wait for the Ferry.
When I arrived in Victoria I went straight to Hotel to check in and then headed to Fairfield plaza to pick up the race package. On the way to Plaza I took a wrong turn and ended up at Dallas Rd. I have been in Victoria a few times but never had the opportunity really enjoy the view from Dallas Road so I was happy about taking the wrong turn.
About 4:30 I arrived at Island Runners and as soon as I got out of the car I felt the heat from Sun. It was hot, felt like the summer heat, and then I started thinking about what I will be wearing for race and whether heat was going to factor, would it slow me down. I love warm weather but that heat was a bit more the softy could handle now. So when I went to store later at night I bought another six bottles of water to ensure I had more fluid if I needed it.
As I walk into the Island Runners store I shook hand with Carol Castillo the race director and he handed me this beautiful jacket. It is the best clothing ever given me at sporting events. Next year races should hope Island Runner will sponsor and provide the same high quality technical Gortex jacket. I stayed there a bit longer and chatted more with Carlos about the trail condition, the route. He is explaining me the map and the next thing I am thinking, could I still go off course and laughing at myself remembering 2007 H2H. I am notorious for getting lost. Usually I waste a bit of time back tracking unless I have run the trail or the road before. Then I was asking for a place to eat good and healthy food and survive another meal before the race. At least I couldn’t blame my failure to bad food. Carlos suggested Ross Bay Pub as he did in his e-mail a week before. Then I met Darren and Kandise Froese and Denise McHale from Canadian Ultra National team and Don Froese, Darren’s brother. Darren and Kandise graciously invited me to their house for dinner and knowing that it was going to be spaghetti I happily accepted the offer and off we went.
Now I am at the table with experienced, world class athletes and adventure racers I felt like an infant ultra guy who only know how to run a bit. I was so interested in hearing their ultra and adventure races story that if I had paid the similar attention to my teachers I could have had encyclopedia in my head. That tells you how much I love running, and associate myself with people in similar interest or aspiration. After every short story of an event what I hear is that I should give that a try I would like it and believe me what I have gone through with 7 ultra doesn’t even make 10% of enduring those events. I need to suck it up and toughen up more.
After dinner I went back to Hotel and as soon as I put my head on the pillow the neighbors on the sides and up they decided it was party time and it went on until 4:00 AM. I couldn’t use ear plug since I was worried I might sleep through the alarm. I didn’t want to get sick from Air conditioning, so I decided to leave the window open and just close my eyes and stay in bed. While lying down in bed there were times that my calves were sore to point almost cramping up so I would get up and do some stretch or rub to loosen them up a bit. This isn’t something new; I have experienced those pains since I was 8 years old. In the old days I had to roll side to side in bed to ease up the pain from long day playing soccer in heat, dusty and gravelly fields in Iran. I wasn’t nervous at all, thinking back to those days has made me stronger both physically and mentally. For almost 2 weeks before the race I had started my mental preparation, I knew I hadn’t mastered it but I had seen the progress through some of my training runs. At 2:50 AM I had enough of the noise of Yahoo’s around and finally decided there was no point lying in bed and I should get up and have my stuff ready and leave the dungeon. I got to Elk Lake at 4:30 AM and park the car and started sipping my drink mix with Carbo-Pro and Accelerate and a cliff bar. At about 5:10 AM they open the gate and it was time to take care of some business. My stomach doesn’t work or feel well when I don’t have good rest regardless if I have a race or normal day at home so that was kind of worrying me but every time those thoughts started flourishing in my head I shut them down.
Warm up before the race
I started to warm up about 10 minutes before the race. I wanted my legs to be fresh when the gun goes off and the warm up helped. At the beginning my legs were heavy and I knew exactly why from experience, not rested enough.
Count down started 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 and Have a great race:
I started the race pretty slow exactly as I planned it and gradually started peaking up the pace to the desired speed. First km at 5:00, nice, 2nd at 4:40, 3rd 4:25 up to that point we were about 4 people then 3 and then it was only Darren and I. The day before the race Darren told me Jason Terauchi-Loutitt would an extreme fast pacer for the race. I was looking forward to test myself. He was going to race 50 Miles but unfortunately we never saw him at the race. Later on reading some of his accomplishment surely I realize the big miss of his presence at our race. A quick bio of Jason can be found at

I clocked 43:36 for the first lap/10K.
Then the next 30K was under 42:30, which were petty good for my goal finishing the race in decent time. But after 40K, weather changed, light rain, wind and sun. I wasn’t prepared for all 3 conditions. The wind was chilly and I was trying my best to relax the shoulders but still comforting position was to bend the elbows inward rather keeping them low and loose. If I wore more clothes then I would have sweated more, since weather was changing so rapid I was unsure and undecided so I kept the same clothing, Tank top and short.
At about 45K Darren had a pit stop and I went ahead and never saw him again. In about 22K he had similar pit stop but he caught up in less than 2km but this time I didn’t see him until 87km. Just before 50K I felt really lonely out in the trail and every time I saw someone on the path I was happy and smiling again. The low point of the race, I started cramping on my calves and arms and hamstring but it was like an on and off switch, if it was sunny ok, as soon as wind start, it would cramp again especially in the open sections of the lake. I also had to slow my pace since every time I tried to speed up my calves were screaming at me. Knowing that I already was sodium depleted it wasn’t wise to make it worse and I just had to stay focus and be steady. I also tried to take more Termolyte pills and not to sweat much. I thought about going to Carlos and say is it OK if I stop for 50K but every time I laughed at myself.
At this point my heart beat was about 10% lower than my first 40K which would translate to almost a minute per mile slower. As the time went on I got slower and calves continue to hurt more but I was still running 50 to 52 min per lap. Most of the time I wasted was at the aid stations. I was lucky there were very kind people to help out with filling my bottles. As I came to finishing 70km my calves fully ceased to point I was grinding my teeth and I was fortunate Kandise notice the pain I was in and asked if I wanted her to rub some glucosamine to my calves. Darren must have gone through this 100 of times probably if she is offering must have worked with him and I desperately accepted the offer and thanked her and off I went to start 8th lap. The 8th lap was slow but steady I thought of stopping at 80K and going to Carlos and asking if it was OK I ran only 50 miles then again I laughed at myself and continuously saying shut up to myself :). Lap 9 I was getting frustrated as the pain wasn’t easing up and I was loosing time but I was lucky there were couple of lead 50 miler guys that were going to finish their run and from 82K to 86 I was behind one and ahead of the other. My goal was to catch the guy ahead of me however about 87K I turned around to look back and I see Darren just behind me. I was happy to see him and my next thought was could I be able to keep up with him to the end.
Within 500 yards Darren passed me and off he went. I tried to speed up to stay with him but my calves were cramping again. Up to that point I had lost my goal time, was I prepared to go home empty handed. This was definitely a no nooooooooooooooooo.
So I tried running steady and made sure I had him in my sight. Before my race I made arrangement to visit a dear friend of mine Jeff who I worked with for over 8th years in Vancouver that moved to Victoria with his mom.

As I finished the lap 9, I saw Jeff and his mom and also Kandise asked if I wanted more of Glucosamine rub, my answer was definitely yes. I shoke hand, hugged and kiss with Jeff and his mom and Thanking Kandise off I went. I was about 22 sec behind Darren. When I met Jeff and his mom I totally forgot about all the pain I had gone through the previous 40k. Their warm presence gave me such a high and endorphins that no pain killer ever could. I decided to drop my bottle, no food and go. I was feeling light and energetic and rejuvenated. At about Km 1 caught up to Darren and passed him and I never looked back and kept going. All I had in my head was finish line, I wasn’t going home empty handed and I had to win the race. I blocked every negative thought I mean everything. Now I was looking at least making the fifth fastest recent Canadian 100K time, looking to my heart rate monitor I was back on my lap 2, 3, 4 times.
About 93K I remembered that previously around 73K marker I left one of my coke bottle by the trail post and it was wise for me to sip on it to finish line. So I picked the bottle up and with a few sipping of coke I crossed the finish line in 7:50:47. I was happy and proud at least I finished my race strong and I knew my time was 5th fastest 100K time in recent canadian ultra running. I also won my 2nd 100K race.

Could I have done better at this race, definitely yes but what affected my race was the Mother Nature and I wasn’t prepared for it. For me it is a learning process and every race I learn something new and introduced to different product that help enduring the distance running. Happy learning, exploring endless possibility enthusiastically and with the passion to run a race pain free.

I like to thank Carlos Castillo for a great race. I hope they promote this race internationally and making it more competitive.
I like to thank all the volunteers for their efforts and specially those folks filling up my drinks, I am very grateful.
Big Thank you to Kandise and Darren for their generosity inviting me to their home and a great Spaghetti dinner, and helping me to get through the race. I like to Thank Denise and Don Froese for sharing their wonderful adventure and ultra running experiences.
I like to Thank Jeff and his mom for visiting me when I desperately needed moral boost.
Last and most I like to thank my family for their tremendous and unconditional support throughout my training and having faith in me.

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