Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sinister 7 Ultra

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. Ambrose Redmoon

I am back from the Sinister 7 135K ultra, held in beautiful Crowsnest Pass. The race went better than I expected given that it was promoted as the thoughest ultra in the Alberta Ultra Series. The race did live it up to it's reputation, of the 52 soloist only 21 finished.


Rachel and Craig dropped me off at Blairmore for the start while they took my car to go mountain biking. At 9 am sharp we all started the first leg and easy 15k with only 740" of elevation. This is where I usually catch up with other runners, I stayed behind admiring the beautiful surroundings, it was hard for me to speed up because of the spectacular scenery.

Leg two was a grueling climb, the scenery at the top of Hastings Ridge was worth the effort,with a 457m of elevation gain and 607m of elevation loss, it made for a very fast run to the transition area. I am good at running downhill, I am more coordinated than most runners, I think is my dancing background. By the time I got to transition I was considerably ahead. I checked my watched and wondered how Nadia was doing, she was running Powderface half a very difficult and technical trail run, she was second female last year and she had trained very hard this year and was hopping for top female, what I would found out later is that she DNF because of an injury.





Leg three has the most elevation gain, at 838m I keep thinking I suck at climbing even though hardly anybody passed me, the leg crosses though the remains of the 2003 Lost Creek fire, by now my body was warm and I was making really good time though each leg I started to get faster and faster. Rachel and Craig met me at the end of leg 3, they wanted to say goodnight, they where tired from mountain biking and decided to go back to the hotel but would be back in the morning on time to greet me at the finish line. It was here too that they told me I was second female




Leg four is the longest leg at 31.5k, I ditched my poles in transition 3 ( a decision I would later regret) to be faster and put as much distance between Anne the female lead and I, we left transition at the same time and she was quickly falling behind. By the time I finish this leg I was in the lead, I came into transition and was greeted by a complete stranger holding a cup with mash potatoes " I heard you are here alone, I thought you might need this" the first thing that came out of my mouth was " marry me" he blushed and giggle a bit like a teenage girl. As I was leaving transition 4 I realize that leaving my hiking polls behind was not the best decision, at the rate I was going I was tracking for 22 hrs, which meant I would be running in the dark for the next 5 hours.




Well I know sometimes it's hard to see the light, Shinin' at the tunnel's end
And though the road just goes on and on for miles, Faith lives just around the bend. Keith Urban


leg 5 was the thoughest for sure, it was hard to run through creeks and mud without poles, I slipped and fell on a couple of creeks around 2am. For the next 3 hours my pace dropped significantly and I started to feel really cold, this leg has a hard climb and I had a hard time coordinating my legs. 3 runners passed me including Annie who would go on to finish top female and 4th over all at 22:23:21.Darren Froese was top male at 17:13:53. the fast Trax Team won top team at 12:26:38.
when I got to the top, the wind was howling,and I had a strong urged to lay down and sleep. Just 20 Minutes, that is what I though myself, I remember I had chocolate covered coffee beans and warming packs in my backpack. The warmers worked but not the coffee beans, I immediately started to throw up, and continued to do so for the next hour and a half . Walking in the dark was aerie but, I felt peaceful and focused. I could hear whistles everywhere from racers that needed help. Calling for help never crossed my mind. I realized I am both my best asset and worst enemy. I take some bad decisions, like leaving my poles behind knowing I would need them later, just to gain ground during the day, but there in the evening, I was remained calm, I knew all I needed to do at that moment was to reach transition safely, I was not going to be first, and I was OK with it, finishing was my next focus and that was still a very strong possibility. Just like with every race I get stronger physically, I also get stronger emotionally, I am also in the best place of my life currently and that helps me be less emotional and more rational. The sound of whistles where all around me but I didn't see anybody else for hours, later I heard somebody stole marking sings and a lot of people got lost, I did have to wait for other races to figure out where to turn several times because they would be no markings, at night it just got really though to figure out where to go.

I thought I was close to transitions after I started hallucinating, I was so sure I even heard laughter and the campfire and tents, walking for 10 minutes just to find it was just a glow stick. when I finally got to transition 5 I was in bad shape, shivering and a bit delirious, the meds did a good job of bringing me back to life, because I had stopped drinking their main priority after warming me up was fluids.

The race allowed a drop bag per leg, specially for soloist without help, the trick was to know where to send what. To my delight, I did have a change of shoes there for me,somebody gave me a dry t shirt and within 30 minutes, I was back in the game.

As soon as I started running I started to get sick again, and it was coming from everywhere, I remembered I had ginger chews and medication on my backpack, that helped and by the time I finished leg 6 the vomiting had stopped. I probably run an extra 2k en leg six running into the bushes. I was wearing my running skit but it wasn't exactly lady like.



Leg 7 was a brutal climb and equally challenging descent before turning into a beautiful and fast stretch to the finish line.


I reached the finish line at 24:43:09, 2nd female and 8th overall. As I crossed the line, Brian the race director put a medal around my neck then informed me Brett was calling to follow my progress, he got frustaded because the reeults of each leg where too late, I both blushed and cried at the same time when Brian told me. Knowing that there was somebody in Calgary awake thinking of me while I stubbornly pushed trough the night is really what gave me the will to not call for help and to suck it up.

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. Mahatma Gandhi


In ultrarunning, running is 50%, determination, endurance, thoughness, or just plain stubborness account for the rest. Kids have a natural tendency to follow though, just watch a child learning to walk, I have yet to meet grown up that crawls because it took him or her to long to learn to walk and just decided to quit. The Japanese have a proverb Nana korobi ya oki Fall Down Seven times Get up Eight.
I get asked often how can running such distance is possible, physically is easy with the right training, now, wanting to do it, that is the hard part. The wanting was the easy part for me, I just hope that my body can handle my dreams

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

you are one very very impressive woman. wbw

Sunshine Girl said...

Norma-
Way to go honey! Your longest distance yet. You've come this far in such a short period of time, you definitely have the will power it takes to be an ultra girl who gets 'er done.