Friday, October 23, 2015

Virgil Crest 100 - 1st place female, 2nd place overall!!!

Ok, so I have had a month to reflect on Virgil Crest 100 and I’m still in shock and disbelief about how it all unfolded. My first race since going vegan!!! Yaaaahooooooo! 

First off, I should say the reason why I signed up for Virgil Crest 100:
I suck at hills… I hate hills… climbing mountains sucks!
So I decided to sign up for a race that I knew would force me to work on my greatest weakness.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this.

Virgil Crest 100: over 48,000ft of elevation change, over 24,000ft of climbing!!
~ it was definitely out of my comfort zone

One of the hardest things about the race was the fact that my parents could not be there to support me. My dad was fighting his own personal health battle, so I made sure he would be with me every step of the way.

Race Morning

I had an awesome sleep and woke up easily at 3:50am.  Corey prepared my coffee and pre-race bagel (with natural PB and banana).  My nerves were through the roof, so I couldn’t eat more than half the bagel :(  Oh well, what can you do!??!

We were very lucky to score a condo 1 mile from the start line, so we weren’t in any rush to get out the door!

I arrived at the start line at approximately 5:40am and immediately felt the nervous energy around me.  For those who don’t know, I am perhaps the most nervous person on the face of the earth, so being around 100s of other nervous runners only made things worse! UGH! Immediately I was consumed by negative thoughts and doubt.  What the hell was I doing?!?! I hate hills!!! Virgil is nothing but hills!!!  This was a stupid move, I shouldn’t be here, but there wasn’t much I could do about it now.

0-25 miles

The RD Ian Golden counted down for the start of the 50 and 100 mile races, and before I could run away screaming in the other direction we were off!!   I told myself “start slow, you KNOW what’s coming”.  I was reminding myself of a section called “the Hurt Locker”, it is a brutal series of steep climbs up and down ski hills.  It was what I thought would be my greatest challenge… funny that it actually became my greatest strength!

The first section of the race was 10km, and it just flew by! I had a blast running on beautiful, single-track through the darkness.  My legs felt fresh and my attitude was very positive.  When I arrived at the 1st Aid Station my crew (Corey, Michelle and Anatoly) changed out my bottle, stuffed gels into my pocket and forced me to eat a bite of a Thoz Bar.

The next section took us up s a few steady climbs and into more amazing technical single-tack!  I LOVED this section!!  I felt like I could bound over rocks, and roots like I was weightless.  I seriously lost track of time on this section… well, until the horrible road section! BLAH! Nothing worse than bounding through enchanting trails, only to come out to a LONG road stretch! Luckily it was all downhill, well, until the way back! (this is a double out and back course).  Again, I came into the Aid Station and my Nascar PitCrew had me out in a minute.

Having way too much fun!

The next section was new, so I had no idea what to expect!  (It had changed from the previous year)  I thought to myself “it can’t possibly be harder than last year”… I WAS WRONG!! SO VERY WRONG!!!  The RD had to re-route the course through this section, and we were met with climb after climb after climb… and oh, so more climbing! And not your usual trail climbs.  These were mini-goat trails that seemed to climb forever! Slippery, technical and so FREAKING CHALLENGING! Oddly enough I LOVED THEM!!  I kept a constant steady grind going on the uphills and noticed that my steady effort was really paying off! I was passing guys on uphills!! This made me smile!

Then came my nemesis: the ski hills!!! I kept the same approach, slow consistent climbing.  No breaks, no bitching, just forward progress.  Again, I was passing guys on the uphills!!! What the heck was going on?!?! I knew I wasn’t pushing too much, I felt great. Maybe I don’t suck at climbing as much as I thought! TALK ABOUT A MAJOR MENTAL BREAKTHROUGH!

I came into the Trailsroc Aid Station feeling accomplished and very proud!

The final section of this first out was my favourite section.  I felt like I could really get a rhythm going.  I saw some of my great ultra running friends who were doing the 50 miler on their way back after the turnaround.  Cole Crosby was killing it, moving effortlessly as usual,  Jim Blandford, who is such an inspiration to me, and Kristina Folcik-Welts who has the most contagious energy and positivity!   Seeing them made me want to push just a little bit more.

On my way back, I got into the zone, and really dialed into myself.  I ran pretty effortlessly, and made sure to keep my breathing steady.

My crew was on-point with my nutrition and I knew my calories and hydration were bang on!

Now because the 50 and 100 start at the same time, I had absolutely NO CLUE where I was in the standings.  I knew that only Kristina was ahead of me for women in the 50M (I passed the 2nd and 3rd place women in the 50M on my way back to the start/finish), but aside from that I didn’t really know who was ahead of me.

When I came into the 50M turnaround Corey told me “you’re in a 3-way tie for 1st!!!” WHAT?!?!?!!? NO WAY!! The lead men were at the turnaround when I arrived!

My pacer Anatoly jumped in, he was a man on a mission! He said to me “let’s go, no wasting time!”  WE WERE OFF!!!

As we passed one of men (Scotie Jacobs) on our way out his pacer (my friend Ryan Welts) said to me “now you’re the one who has to look over their shoulder!”  I didn’t think anything of it at the time and I kinda laughed it off as completely insane, but this would turn out to be very true.  I simply figured that eventually the lead men would pass me…  Scotie is one hell of a runner (he beat me in 2014 in the 50k).

I will spare you all the details of the next 25 miles, all that needs to be said is: when you have a Russian pacer, expect him to push you FAR BEYOND YOUR LIMITS!! Anatoly was amazing, he was also unrelenting.  He knew what I was capable of, and truly pushed me!  He didn’t baby me, or give into my moments of weakness. Instead, he called me on my BS and reminded me to find my strength.  He truly believed in me! We laughed, we had great conversation, I cried (sometimes), and he yelled at me.  He was truly a phenomenal pacer and friend! THANK YOU ANATOLY!!! I OWE YOU!! And I plan on returning the favour when you run ES100 in 2016 ;) muhahahaha!

Oh, if you haven’t heard about Virgil: it always rains! And we weren’t spared of that.  We were lucky that we had pretty decent weather during the day…BUT THEN: MONSOON force rain overnight.  I have NEVER witnessed rain like this.  I’m pretty sure I was swimming through an ocean at some points!  It was INSANE!  People always talk about Haliburton 2012 and the rain there, well THAT WAS NOTHING!  I was freezing, soaked to the bone and miserable.  My feet were destroyed!  Anatoly and I laughed it off as much as we could, and Corey reminded me at the aid stations “you run well in the rain”… this is true, but this wasn’t “rain”, this was seriously some form of natural disaster!! SPLISH SPLASH!!

The out and back course provided us with the opportunity to see where the other lead guys were at the 75M turnaround.  Gary Twoey had about 30 mins on me, and was looking so strong! When he and I passed on the trail I seriously gained so much strength from seeing his energy! What an amazing runner! 

After the turnaround we saw Scotie about 1km (2km total) back from me.  It didn’t really phase me much, cause I was really trying to just focus on my race.  HOWEVER, seeing how close he was ignited something in Anatoly, and he then became my pacer-dictator-slave driver!  NO MORE MR. NICE GUY!

HOLY CRAP!! I have never been pushed that hard in my life!  The way back certainly had its challenges, but Anatoly, Michelle and Corey were there to keep me moving and keep me positive.  My legs, knees, hips and glutes were completely destoyed from the non-stop ups and downs, yet somehow I kept running.  Maybe it was my desire to not let ANYONE pass me, or maybe it was Anatoly yelling at me to “run faster”, but something was ignited inside of me, and I wasn’t going to stop fighting!

The last 10k was brutal! Everything hurt! Anatoly would not let me slow down.  As we emerged from the trails and entered the last LONG stretch around Hope Lake Park I started to cry, partly because I was so happy to be done, but mainly because I was so damn proud of myself!  I could hear Corey and Michelle cheering for me from across the lake, and this helped to pull me towards the finish.

1st place female, 2nd place overall : 24:52!!!

A huge thank you to my amazing crew and pacer:
Corey:  my awesome husband.  You are my world, my biggest supporter and the best crew-captain a girl could ask for.  Thanks for always believing in me!
Michelle: You are a true friend and such an amazing person! I can’t wait to pace you next year!!
Anatoly:  words can not express how thankful I am for your friendship! here’s to many more adventures together!

Michelle, Me, Corey and Anatoly

Thanks to my sponsors:
Nike (shoes: Terra Kiger 3s, clothing: Epic Run Luxe shorts, Breeze tank and Nike Trail trucker hat)
Orange Mud (HydraQuiver Single Barrel)
Julbo (Race Sunglasses)
Bellefleur Physiotherapy
Thoz Barz
GU Energy Labs (gels consumed: far too many!)
Drymax Socks (Trail lite ¼ crew)
CW-X Compression

1 comment:

  1. So cool to read this! Now I want part 2: how do you cope with running 160km? The mental challenges, physical, physiological demands must be unreal. Do you get sleepy, hungry, do you hallucinate? You must blister like crazy! Do you changes cloths/shoes? I've done 21 marathons and can't imagine that distance being a mere warmup for you. It's truly inspirational, thanks for sharing.