Tag Archive for Lemming Loop

2017 plans. A return to form and a push to Dopey Challenge 2018!?!

With a new year we get a chance to reflect on things both good and bad from the past year and make plans for the future. What do we want to change? What should we keep doing? What can we do (or not do) to build ourselves and others up?

For the coming year there are a few things I know I need to change both running wise and just for life in general.

I don’t like to make resolutions since they usually get broken pretty damned quick – instead I am going to make a few commitments to myself.


First Commitment:

2018 Dopey Challenge – I am just days away from heading down to Orlando / Disney World for the 2017 Goofy Challenge but I am committing to running the 2018 Dopey Challenge now and doing it well. I want a better overall time than I got when I ran it in 2015. I was very happy with my overall time and strength that year and if I want to better that time, then I need to start work now and build through the year. I did 1971 miles in 2014 leading up to the 2015 Dopey Challenge so I will be trying to beat those numbers for 2017. I also set my PRs in the half and full marathons in 2014, so I will have some work to do to rebuild here.

In 2018 the race will be the 5th anniversary of the Dopey Challenge, the 5th anniversary of the Minnie 10k and the 25th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon. That is a party I want to be involved with! I suspect there will be many who feel the same way so hopefully I can get in through the early entry with my annual pass!

My wife and I want to bring the kids down for this one too. I am doing Goofy Challenge this year and Heather is doing the Glass Slipper Challenge in February. We both have fallen in love with runDisney races and we really want to share that with the kids and get them more active at the same time. So we intend to do the 5k with them and see where else we end up. Our son is old enough to do the 10k so we will see if we can get him interested in that too. We are going to start building them up to this with the Pro Bowl 5k on January 28th – they will get a taste of a race through Epcot and hopefully they will catch the bug too!

Basically, all my running this year must lead toward this goal.


Second Commitment:

Spruce Woods Ultra – I let myself down on this one in 2016. I didn’t run my own race and it cost me. I know I could have completed this race and it eats at me a bit that I messed it up. So this year I will do it again and do it properly (properly for me – RUN MY OWN RACE). The only thing here is that I will have to decide what distance – 50k, 50 miles or 100k (smart enough to know I will not be ready for a 100 miler any time soon). Completing the race will be rebuilding my confidence so I need to figure out if I will feel better running a very strong 50k or if going well beyond 50k will work better.

The decision here will depend on how well my Achilles tendon continues to recover. I also don’t want to jeopardize 2018 Dopey Challenge with a big injury during the year. I realize you risk injury on every run and you can’t let that hold you back from reaching your goals…but there is a big difference between taking chances and deliberately flitting with disaster.

This race is in May, so I have some time to decide how things are going before I finalize my plans.


Third Commitment:

24 hour Lemming Loop – considering I really had no idea what I was getting into and my Achilles tendon didn’t cooperate  at all, I am a fairly happy with what I accomplished at the 2016 Lemming Loop…but I know I can do better.

I want to do this one again when I am stronger and healthier and just see what I can do. I have always thought my strength as a runner was more about endurance and quick recovery and this event lends itself to those traits. And I want to know what I am capable of here.


Other things:

These aren’t quite the same as the commitments above but they are things that will either need to happen or I want to happen over the year.


Lose weight…this one starts to sound a bit like a New Years resolution but it really isn’t. With my reduced mileage and injuries, my weight has crept up over the past year and a half and I have probably gained back 20 of the pounds I had previously lost. This needs to be rectified to achieve my goals above. I know how to do it and this will happen.


Marathon Maniacs – there are about 4 marathons run near(ish) to where I live and either combined with each other or with the ultras listed above I should be able to get Marathon Maniac status this year. I think this is something that would be pretty cool – but I am not going to commit to it as being healthy for the above races will take precedent as will various family commitments through the year.


Half Marathons – there are a few I like to do every year and I will most likely do so again with the goal of getting some speed back. My half PR is 1:46:00 and getting back there this year might be difficult but I think I can get back down to sub 1:50 and I would be quite happy with that.


Stress reduction – Over the past year or so I have been dealing with some big stressors that have been impacting my running motivation. I need to find a way to deal with those. At this point I suspect doing additional writing on the blog will help. I have been a bit lax over the past year on the blog but I will be picking it up and posting more. I find the writing helps focus my brain and lets me come up with solid plans better…so let’s do that.


As a conclusion, I have to say I am fairly excited about the upcoming year of running and looking forward to see where I end up!

Good luck to everyone in 2017!!

2016 year end review – kinda rough but getting better!

Time again for a year end recap – and this one is a bit of an odd one to write up. On one hand my total mileage is not really awful and I did manage to get in my longest race event ever, but on the other hand my weight is up, my motivation was down, I had some injuries to deal with, and I had my first ever DNF.

There were definitely challenges this year but also some moments of light – I don’t want to focus on the negative, so I will mention some of the challenges but will try to concentrate more on the positive aspects of the year.

Total miles 1206.5 – down from 1400 in 2015 and 1971 in 2014. Definitely down – my Achilles tendon issue near the end of the year did not help here and without that I suspect I would have beaten my 2015 mileage. An injury is never fun but I did more mileage in the last half of the year than the first half despite the injury, that shows an increase in drive and strength.

2016 started pretty well with the 129 day 485 mile run streak but after the streak was broken the motivation tanked. That being said the streak didn’t work the way I would have liked either – I needed to adapt the streak to training for the specific races I had coming up and I failed to do so.

I then messed up on the Spruce Woods 50k by not hydrating during the race and then the Fargo Marathon by not eating properly the night before. But for both of these races I saw glimmers of strength still inside – if I hadn’t mentally screwed up on the 50k, I could have finished quite well. And for Fargo, I ran well early on in the race and despite g.i. issues and some major heat it still wasn’t my worst race. They both represent some screw ups on my part but I enjoyed them enough to want to do them both again – so that says something.

I had some recovery in the fall but then I had issues with my Achilles tendon that spanked me fairly well and through the last few months of the year. I am still struggling with the tendon now and it will probably define the start of 2017 too.

My longest run of the year (and ever), the 24 hour Lemming Loop, got me 53.3 miles – I believe I could have gotten farther but my ankles rebelled and I couldn’t run nearly as much as I would like on the race. I probably walked about half of the distance due to ankle issues. So while it was my longest event ever it was also disappointing. But man did I ever enjoy the event…starting to think I like messing up on races…

Then, 2 weeks after the 24 hour Lemming Loop, I ran my fastest half marathon in a year and a half at the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Services Half Marathon. My Achilles was really not pleased after that but it shows some solid recovery capability.

One common thing I found through the year was that I was struggling to feel strong in my legs when I ran. I finally figured out what the issue was and I understand that the issue led directly to the Achilles problems I have been trying to recover from. What was the issue? I have been running in the wrong shoes.

I won’t get too deep into the issue but to keep it simple, I switched from a high heel to toe ratio shoe to a lower one. A lower heel to toe ratio puts extra pressure on the Achilles tendon (it gets stretched a bit more each step) and since I have used a high ratio shoe for years, my tendons weren’t prepared for the extra extension and rebelled. Note to self – changing running form overnight = bad.

But I have now figured that out, gotten shoes that work with my running form and I have seen improvement over the past few months. The tendon is still healing but I am seeing some strength return. I have a lot of rebuilding to do but I am ending the year with hope that I will recover and come back stronger in 2017.

Next week is the 2017 Goofy Challenge and I won’t be running it for speed or to challenge myself – I will be doing it for fun and as a reminder to enjoy the running. And then, I get down to work to seriously rebuild over 2017. I will do another post on what I hope to do over the upcoming year – as a spoiler though, I want to do Dopey Challenge in 2018 for the anniversary year and I will be building to be stronger than I was when I did it in 2015.

So maybe that leads me to my take away for 2016 – I made mistakes, I had motivation issues, I had injuries, and things did not go to plan in any way, shape or form…but I am still running. Even injured, I am still at a spot where others might spend years getting to, and I have to be thankful for what I can do and proud of what I have accomplished.

I will be stronger in 2017.

Happy New Year everyone and keep running!

WFPS Half Marathon 2016 – race report

I’m going to start off with a hats off to the organizer and all the great volunteers at the race!

This was the 5th anniversary of the event and once again it was very well organized and well run!

I especially want to mention the volunteers at around mile 12 – they were putting out a huge amount of energy! Great job to you folks and to all the volunteers! I didn’t see a single volunteer that didn’t happy and encouraging!

And I want to give a shout out to @PrairieJenn (https://twitter.com/PrairieJenn) who was a volunteer marshal on the course. Whoohoo!

I also got to ask who the gentleman was that was running all over with a full on camera and tripod set up taking pictures of the runners and stopping to take selfies with the volunteers. I want to know how many miles he actually ran that day! He was also at Lemming Loop and I have to say his energy was awesome and infectious.


So on with my race report and to get it started I have to do a bit of a setup on my weird mental state going into it.

I was feeling very disconnected from the race frankly.

Basically all my mental thoughts on races this fall had gone into the Lemming Loop a few weeks back and since that one is over for the year my thoughts have moved on to the Goofy Challenge in January. The time window for races to use for corral placement for the Goofy Challenge has also ended so I didn’t really have any pressure on this race except trying to maintain my sub 2 hour streak for half marathons. And with the Lemming Loop 2 weeks prior I wasn’t going to hold my breath or expect miracles out of my legs to make that happen.

Top that off with my wife hitting the expo with the kids to pick up the race packets and I didn’t even have that surge of energy to focus the brain and get me excited. I actually forgot a few times during the week that the race was coming up.

The night before the race the plan was for the kids to be dropped to spend the night at my Heather’s mother’s and both my wife and I would run the race. Heather was also looking at using this race as a proof of time race for corral placement for the Princess Half Marathon in February.

…but then late in the afternoon our daughter came down with a fever, not too bad, but warm enough that we didn’t feel comfortable with dropping her on the mother-in-law. So we decided the kids would be staying at home instead that night. When Heather called her mother to let her know we found out that she wasn’t feeling well either. So that meant that she wouldn’t be coming over to watch the kids while we both raced either.

So only one of us could go race…and about an hour later I came down with a bad headache and a bit of nausea. At this point it looks like I am the one sitting out the race, which would be disappointing but as I said above I didn’t have any driving reason that I HAD to do the race so I could deal.

No final decisions were made though and I was feeling better when we went to bed. So we both organized our gear and figured we would sort things out in the morning. Yep, went to bed not know which of us was going to run!

Then a few times through the night we were woken by one of the dogs being sick because he had apparently eaten some plastic. Luckily that sorted itself out and we didn’t have to go to the vet, but it didn’t make for a restful night sleep.

Alarm goes off and we are both feeling well – time to decide who was going to. We had a chat about it and Heather decided that she had a decent enough time recently enough that she didn’t think she would be able to beat that day. So Heather decided to stay home and let me run.

After a shower and getting dressed I asked again to make sure and got the comment “I’ll be jealous, but not jealous enough to get out of bed”. Guess I’m running…but with the expectation that I would probably take it easy and treat the run like a training run. I was also a bit worried about my right ankle that has been acting up for the last month or so – don’t want to damage it and mess up the Goofy Challenge training.

So I quickly fed the dogs and the cat and grabbed my remaining gear and got in the truck to head over to the race. Have got to love a race where you can pull out of your garage and be parked at the venue in 6 minutes!

Very beautiful morning out – a bit cool (near freezing) but it would warm up a bit later – perfect racing conditions really.

I spent some time in the main building near the race venue to stay warm and see if I could get myself psyched up and try to decide how fast I should be going. I also tried stretching my right ankle that had decided to start aching a bit.

I was waffling between trying to run with the 2 hour pace bunny, lining up ahead of the 2 hour bunny and running hard until I implode, or just running easy right from the start and take whatever time came. I had done a sub 2 hour half marathon 4 weeks prior but I also expected my legs to be a bit tired still after the Lemming Loop 2 weeks after that – I truly did not think my legs were going to have what I needed.

For some history – I haven’t raced a half marathon that took me longer than 2 hours since May 2013 and I really didn’t want to break that streak now but if it happened I was willing to accept it.

Now to top all of this off, I hadn’t eaten any breakfast. I had been in such a rush to get stuff sorted out and out the door that it never occurred to me before I left the house. Whoops.

I had done something like that 4 weeks before for the Fort Garry Rotary Half marathon due to some g.i. issues I had been dealing with leading up to that race. For that race I didn’t want anything in my belly maybe causing issues – it worked but I did tank out in that race near the end because of it.

So I really didn’t expect much but decided that I would try to hit 2 hours anyway. In the start corral I lined up near the 2 hour pace bunny who was doing 10 min run / 1 min walk cycles. I figured I would give that a try and see what happens.

…then I saw the 1:55 straight run pace bunny…my brain started going “.you know…maybe line up with him and if you tank later in the race you would still have a shot at sub 2 hours…”

So that is what I did. Or at least that is what I started to do.

Once the race was off and going I found myself drifting a little bit in front of that group. But then the 2 hour 10 min run / 1 min walk group passed me…Now, logically I understand how this would happen in the first 10 minutes as the running pace for this type of split is fairly quick but after that first 1 minute walk cycle was up the 1:55 group would be back in the lead and would extend their lead from there.

Understanding it and accepting it in the race brain are two different things. So I found myself pulling ahead of that group…and feeling pretty good. Definitely felt better than I expected at that point. Ok – lets see how long I can sustain that then.

I believe I had my first stop for water around mile 3? Not sure really – I know I stopped for a cup of water 3 times through the race and that would have been about right for the first one.

I was able to sustain pretty decent speeds up until about mile 5 and then my thighs started to feel like lead but I kept telling myself to keep pushing so that I could build a buffer by the half way point so that if I tanked during the second half I still had a shot to make sub 2 hours. And push I did – at the hour mark I was something like 6.95 miles in or so. This was way better than I expected.

I was able to keep going near the same speeds until the water stop near mile 8. After I had some water there I found that I was defaulting back down around 5 mph – a big drop from the 6.8 or so I was holding down before the water stop.

At this point though I had mentally committed to being under 2 hours by any means necessary so I was able to start pushing again and got my speed back up a bit. Not fully but somewhere I was happy.

I kept at it but eventually the 1:55 pace group caught up with me between mile 9 and 10. Caught me but they weren’t getting away yet even though I could tell I had a good blister going under one of my toes on my right foot.

They did slowly get ahead of me but the rubber band held me to the group pretty good for a mile or so before I had to stop quickly to deal with a pinching/scratching on my right foot that started to hurt all of a sudden. I dealt with that pretty quick but that broke my hold on that pace group and I just concentrated on making sure I kept under 2 hours.

I was fairly confident at this point that sub 2 would happen as I could drop to down to 5.5 mph and still hit it at that point, but no giving up – time to finish well.

As I approached mile 12, I started to wonder if there was something wrong with my headphones as I kept hearing these loud noises. I soon realized though that it was the volunteer squad at the water station around mile 12. They had definitely cranked it up to 11. Impressive!

It was kind of nice too that the last mile had many people cheering all along the route – looked like both volunteers and spectators. That was pretty cool and made that last chunk pretty enjoyable.

And then in the last quarter mile I was feeling pretty good and I started pushing a bit harder – I was quite surprised to see I still had it in the tank. Others had much more in the tank based on the 3 or 4 times I got passed in the last 100 meters or so.

Crossed the line and stopped my watch – under 1:57 (1:56:54 chip time). Was not expecting that at all. It wasn’t a PR (1:46:00 back in 2014) but it is the strongest I have felt in a race in probably a year and a half. If I could get my weight back down 15 pounds I would be flying again!

I got the great 5th anniversary medal and went to check out the food tent. Unfortunately, the line was longer than I really wanted to wait for so I wandered back out to my truck to do the obligatory twitter check in.

Found out at that time that a fellow Winnipeg twitter runner (@PrairieJenn – https://twitter.com/PrairieJenn) had been out on the course as a volunteer marshal. Very cool – these races don’t happen without a huge number of volunteers so I definitely appreciate hearing from folks that have done it. (it may be something I should look at doing next year – give a little back)


WFPS Half Marathon 5th Anniversary medal

WFPS Half Marathon 5th Anniversary medal


And what were the after effects? A few blisters – the worst on my right foot under one of my middle toes. I had a blister in the same spot during the Lemming Loop and the Fort Garry Rotary Half over the last month. Both of those I blamed on one particular pair of shoes but I didn’t wear them for this race so I’m not 100% sure what the issue was there. Other than I felt great after the run. I might have gotten some running confidence back.

The next day however my right ankle let me know that it wasn’t happy. If I sat for longer than 10 minutes it would lock up. I ended up spending a good chunk of the day limping unfortunately.

Today (Tuesday – 2 days after the race as I am writing this) the ankle still isn’t right – I did do some running around in the yard with the dogs and it seems ok to run but walking isn’t great (but still very improved over yesterday – no permanent damage). At this point I am trying to decide if I run tonight or not. I have 5 miles scheduled but that might be pushing too far on the ankle, I will have to decide once the kids have gone to bed…

Anyway – to wrap this up – my 2016 race season is now over and I am officially training for the 2017 Goofy Challenge in January. I have gotten some confidence back and I am motivated to get moving and put in the work to rebuild.

Let’s get started!

A bit of a post Lemming Loop status report and look ahead to Goofy Challenge 2017

Just a quick post today to give a bit of a status update on things now that the Lemming Loop is done for another year. Plus today marks 13 weeks until the Walt Disney World Marathon that I will be doing as part of my 6th Goofy Challenge (or 5th plus one Dopey Challenge depending on how you want to do the math) and I wanted to mention some things about my training plans there.

The day after the Lemming Loop (Sunday) was pretty good – unseasonably warm and I spent quite a bit of time with the family in the pool and relaxing. My legs were feeling pretty good except my right ankle.

Monday – back to work and of my small group I was the only one in and I was rushing around fixing issues between meetings. The legs felt great and I was moving very well. The only issues came after I had to sit for a period of time in various meetings. My leg joints would get very stiff. But otherwise I felt really good.

Tuesday / Wednesday – lots of sitting at work and my legs were feeling that for sure. I also started sneezing regularly and had a running nose. Yay! That cold / flu hit pretty hard as I ended up going to bed early, getting about 8 hours sleep, getting up to feed the dogs and then laying down and going back to sleep after I sent an email to my manager letting him and my team know I wasn’t making it in. I then crashed for another 7-8 hours where I was completely oblivious to the world. It took everything to move to the couch from bed and then I still ended up falling asleep on the couch later. Rough.

Thursday – back to work again. I was still feeling wonky but didn’t want to miss any more work. (plus I had called a couple meetings that I didn’t want to have to reschedule). Felt ok through the day but was definitely light headed. After work we had swimming lessons for the kids and by the time that was done and we had supper it was too late to run.

Friday – busy work day but I was feeling ok and made it through. I did a couple easy treadmill miles after supper and felt a bit woozy by the end. I don’t think this was an after effect of the Lemming Loop but instead a bit of the cold/flu still in my system.

Saturday – 11th anniversary! Holy crap! No running today but did mow the lawn – last time for the season by the looks of things!

Sunday – cooler morning near freezing temps (interesting that we were able to swim just the previous Sunday!). After I fed the dogs I took them out for a run. With the cooler temps I figured I would be able to run the hairy buggers a bit longer. Well, after a quarter mile one of them started pulling up and sitting and laying down – he was done already. It is interesting – one of the dogs loves to run but will not play catch and the other is the opposite. So I took them home (total of 0.55 miles round trip) and left the catch player at home and ran with the runner. With the cooler temps he pulled off another 2 miles (which I think is the longest run I have had him out for) and still would give me the occasional tug on the leash to speed up. It was a nice feeling to run with someone/something that was genuinely excited and happy to get out and run! After I dropped him at home and went out for 4.45 miles on my own bringing my daily total to 7 miles. I felt good with no wooziness like I felt on Friday’s run so I think I am generally recovered from the Lemming Loop and the cold/flu. However I did have some aches in my right ankle for the last couple miles. This same ankle hurt during and after the Fort Garry Rotary half marathon a few weeks back and during the Lemming Loop as well. I will have to watch it and potentially use a support for a bit during training to make sure I don’t make it worse!

Coming up – Next Sunday is the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Services half marathon (WFPS Half Marathon) that both my wife and I are running. Not sure what to expect on that one but I am not counting on being sub 2 hours on that one. I will still shoot for it but I will understand if I don’t make it.

After that I will be dedicating my training to the Goofy Challenge in January and I am current finishing formulating my training plan for the next 13 weeks. It is going to be a bit different than previous plans as I have to move some of the days around a bit to work around the kids’s activities. I will be posting that up once I get it finalized.

Other news for the Goofy Challenge? Well, I have finalized my accommodations finally. I am using Disney Vacation Club points and most of the places I wanted to stay end up selling out at around the 11 month out window. But I did finally get something pretty decent set up after a month or so of trying. I will be spending the first night I am there (Thursday Jan 5th) in one hotel and the remaining nights in another. I was hoping to avoid bouncing hotels but at least I move on a day where I don’t have a race to do so it shouldn’t be bad.

Other thoughts – I have gotten away from writing up a quick blog post for each workout and instead just firing out a quick tweet with the info. I am going to try to get back into blogging each workout instead – the posts will still get tweeted but doing a post about the workouts makes me do a bit of an analysis on each run. This will help me focus more on what I am doing and catch issues faster but will also make me take ownership of each run which should help me become more engaged and dedicated to running again. Plus, I enjoy the writing aspect…and could definitely use the practice.


Anyway – this short post got pretty long but look for more posts in the near future.

24 hr Lemming Loop 2016 – race report

Time for a long review of the 24 hour Lemming Loop endurance race. But before I get into the long race report below I have to start out by saying thank you to the great volunteers at the race. They were always quick with encouragement and a joke – it would be easy to get a bit dark at an event like this but with those folks everything was kept light and happy. Fantastic!

The race and the aid station were amazingly well organized – I have a tendency to blow up at the races put on by Trail Run Manitoba but that is on me not on them. I recommend their races to anyone looking for races that are different from the normal in Manitoba – that is anyone looking for a race that doesn’t run on Portage Ave here in Winnipeg.

The report below was fired out quickly so there could be many grammar issues.


7:00 am – both dogs laying on my chest licking my face. Apparently it is breakfast time and I am not going to be able to sleep in today. I took the day off work for final prep and to try to get extra sleep before the 24 hour Lemming Loop. 10 hours to the start.

I got up and fed the dogs and helped get the kids off to school for the day.

I had the truck mostly loaded last night but I still needed to go grab ice for my cooler and do the final organization. So I went grabbed the ice and did my final prep before going out for breakfast with my wife. No coffee for me – I needed to try to be able to nap in the afternoon. I had a breakfast wrap and some bacon – nothing that was going to cause stomach issues.

A bit more organization and the kids were home from school for lunch. I had a bit of a chat with them and then went an lay down with the hope of napping.

I actually fell asleep fairly quickly all things considered but I woke up after about 45 minutes and was wide awake – I had given myself about 3 hours but apparently I wasn’t going to get it.

Well, not much I could do about it so I got up, played with the dogs a bit and then got into the running gear I planned to start the race with. I then hopped into the truck for the 30 minute drive to Beaudry Park where the event was set up.

The past 2 years the event had been at the Living Prairie Museum but it originated at Beaudry Park and it had moved back again this year. I had never run at Beaudry Park before but I had done the 12 hour races at the Living Prairie Museum the past 2 years – so Beaudry was an unknown to me.

Back before I decided to sign up for this year I figured I needed to check the park out and see if I could handle the trails. So back near the beginning of summer I went out and did a few laps (fighting the swarms of mosquitos) and while the trails were a little bit tougher than the Living Prairie Museum, they were much easier than the trails at Spruce Woods Provincial Park (where I blew out of the 50k race back in the spring). The trails did have more roots to trip over due to the trails being recently recut due to flooding wrecking the old trails.

With that in mind I signed up figuring I could handle the trails.

So I got to site, backed my truck into a spot close to where the race trail came near the parking lot so that I would have to go far off the trail to grab gear and my own snacks, etc. I went and did my check in and got my race bib. I then wandered back to the truck to get out of the way of the volunteers who were busy setting up. I did scope the snacks they had and I could tell a lot of what I had brought was redundant but I was still glad I had brought them anyway – my system seems to be a bit tricky during races so making sure I had exactly what would work for me is vital.

Back at the truck I put my race bib on and set up my own aid station. I put out a beach chair, my cooler and my jugs of electrolyte drink and flat Coke. I also put my “Don’t Panic” towel on the beach chair – advice that would be useful for the full race.

I put on my Hoka One One Challenger ATRs – the first pair of shoes for the race. I used these shoes at Spruce Woods and when I did my test run at Beaudry Park back near the beginning of summer. They are a trail running shoe – not an aggressive pair so they can still be used on streets if I needed to, but still trail shoes. I’m not a fan of them on the road but they have worked for me on trails before so they seemed like the perfect shoes for the race. (foreshadowing here)

So besides the too short nap and lack of sleep, my only real concern at the start of the race was making sure I didn’t make the same hydration mistakes I did at Spruce Woods Ultra. So my plan was to always have a bottle with me and every lap I would finish it – I would alternate flat coke for the sugar and electrolyte drink for the salt. Making myself finish the bottle every lap would keep my conscious of putting liquids in me. I would finish a lap, rinse the bottle I was using and refill it with the same type of drink it had and then put in the cooler. Out of the cooler I would take the second bottle I brought that had already been filled with the other drink. This way I would always have a cold drink to take with me. As a bonus I would also be looking in my cooler every lap and reminding myself to eat as well.

Then 20 minutes before the start of the race, we got our last minute instructions and pep talk from Dwayne the race director. And then time for one last pit stop before we were off.

The weather was good – a decent temperature and a bit breezy in the open areas but not a concern in the treed areas.

About 20 minutes in I had my first gear issue. I was using my running watch but also was tracking the run using my phone. I was also using the phone to get pacing information and music through my earphones. I slide my phone into my running belt connected to an external battery pack so that it can go for many, many hours. Unfortunately though after about 20 minutes into the run the music stopped, basically the headphones cord was getting bent funny and getting pulled out partially which would cause the music to pause. I tried several times to fix this but it kept happening so I just kept the phone in my hand instead which would not be sustainable for 24 hours.

First piece of tried and tested gear that didn’t work as it had in training and previous races.

About 5 minutes later I tripped on my first root. Not my last trip but the only time I hit the ground. That sent the phone spinning through the leaves on the trail. Definitely not sustainable.

After I finished the first lap I texted my wife as she was planning on coming out to visit the race with the kids after supper – if I caught her in time she could bring my phone holster and I could get the phone out of my hand. I had caught her in time but it would be a lap or 2 before she was out.

Second lap went well and felt good. I was going easy and feeling ok.

After the third lap, my wife was there and gave me the holster. Yeehaw, I didn’t have to keep the phone in my hand anymore!

Three laps took about 2 hours including the time it took to follow my bottle swap each lap.

At this point the sun was going down fairly quickly so I grabbed my headlamp before I started out for the 4th lap.

I started run/walk cycles on the fourth lap and had to turn on the lamp about 3/4 of the way through the lap.

No drama for a while but through the fifth and sixth laps my ankles and calves were starting to revolt pretty bad. The laps were a lot slower and I was finding the bottles I was using were too small – so I switched to a larger bottle that had come in the race kit. It worked much better.

After 6th lap I figured I had to do something about my legs. So I swapped out my second gear item that hadn’t worked they way they had in the past.

I put on clean socks and a pair of Nike Pegasus 30s that were well tested and had worked well for me in the past. In fact I had used them 2 weeks earlier at the Fort Garry Rotary Half Marathon and they were good then.

My calve issues cleared up almost immediately with the different shoes but the ankles issues remained.

During the 7th lap I could still do the run/walk cycles but the running portion pace tanked. Instead of being 5+ mph it was closer to 4.2/4.3 mph. Damn.

But it was at this point I discovered they had bacon at the aid station! Whoohoo! I ate a lot of that and their grilled cheese sandwiches over the race.

At this point it was pitch black outside too. It was a rare “black moon” that night – that is a second new moon in one month. Plus it was cloudy so there was no light in the woods. Damned dark.

Part of the trail was in an open tall grass field where I had really hoped I would be able to watch the stars through the night. Unfortunately it was too cloudy for that but I amused myself by turning off my headlight occasionally to enjoy the dark.

Turned out that the 7th lap was the last one during the night where I could run. Accepting that fact for now I decided to walk strong instead and put on an audio book to listen to and pushed on.

During the 8th lap I missed a corner and wandered off the trail. Luckily I caught on about 10 paces in so I didn’t wander too far. Whoops. Obviously tired at this point.

The 9th lap got me over 50k and finished the audio book. I ate some pizza that they had brought in for the aid station and at around 2 am I told them I was taking a break and headed to the air mattress in the back of the truck.

I quickly changed my clothes and crawled into the back of the truck and into the sleeping bag. I had also brought a large battery booster pack and plugged in my phone, my portable battery bank and my running watch to get them all recharged.

I had positioned the truck so that the south wind wasn’t blowing in at me but the way I was laying I was catching a cold breeze across my head. The rest of me was quite toasty but not my head. So I threw a blanket over my head. Unfortunately it took longer to fall asleep than I would have guessed and I kept waking up to reset the blanket over my head when it slid off.

I heard the 12 hour folks starting off at 6 am…crap I had meant to get moving around 5 or so but forgot to set an alarm. Damn. But at least I could see some stars now so I looked at those for a few minutes while I got my brain together.

So I got up and staggered around – I felt better but legs were still a bit buggered. I went to throw on my main running jacket as it had gotten cooler but as I went to put it on I noticed it stank. What the hell? Damn, I had something in my pocket – smelled like dog treats in a baggie that must have been there since a run with the dogs in the winter. Glad I brought another jacket.

Swapped that on and had a short chat with the race director before pushing out for another lap. My stomach had been growling through the nap but I just needed to get moving to make sure my brain didn’t shut me down. Wake up and move damn it.

And glory be I could run. Not fast (maybe 4.5 mph) but I ran that full lap with no issues. But I could tell my blood sugar level was tanking. Should have eaten.

So I sat and had some hot tea, a cheese sandwich and a donut out of my cooler. Feeling much better now.

Lap 10 was done and based on the pacing I figured I had a shot at 100k if I could keep things moving.

Out for lap 11 – at this point the sun came up – a beautiful sunrise.


Still running this lap but getting a bit slower – running maybe at about 4.0-4.2 mph – not doing regular run / walk cycles instead just doing a short walk as needed. 100k / 18 laps still seemed doable.

Lap 12 – ankles buggered again. Was able to run some but not much or often. A strong walk actually seemed to eat more ground than the running at this point. I also now fighting some painful blisters.

So I now decided to switch shoes again. I cleaned up the blisters and put on clean socks. This time 2 pairs as the next pair of shoes were a pair of Hoka One One Bondi 3s. They were a bit oversize so I use double socks with them to prevent blisters. They are extra cushy so if I was going to be walking they should have been easier on the ankles and I should be able to get decent walking speeds.

….And a wicked blister on the bottom of my right foot after just one lap (#13). Third pair of tried and true shoes had let me down. Dammit!

So I stopped and took care of that and put back on the first pair of shoes. At this point I have accepted that I was stuck walking the rest of the time.

On lap 14 I had a nice chat with an older lady who was out at the park taking pictures…she was walking faster than I was…that was fairly disheartening.

At the end of lap 14 I sat and chatted with my wife as she had come to see visit again with the kids. I sat and ate and drank a bit as I visited and at this point I was at 49.7 miles with my longest ever event being 50.33 at last years 12 hour lemming loop. I had to get further than that so it meant at least one more lap to do that but I would then need another 3 to get to 100k. Unless I could run there was no way to make it because at this point my walking speed had dropped to closer to 2.7 mph so I couldn’t even get close to the speed I needed for that.

At that point I probably had time for another 2-3 laps but I had to take it one lap at a time. So I saw the wife and kids off and started moving again.

The 15th lap was tough. I kept dropping my drink bottle – at least I had no issues bending over and picking it up…but it was not a good sign. The last mile I kept thinking it would be nice if there was a bench or something to sit down on for a bit, or maybe that area of grass over there would be good…

I finished the 15th lap hitting 53.3 miles and told them I was pulling the pin. I talked quickly with the race director and went to try to pack up my gear into the truck. I got part way through that and started to feel light headed and nauseous so I sat down on the tailgate of the truck.

I ended up curling up on the tailgate and then slowly shimmied my way onto my air mattress and stretched out a bit more. I started to feel better but was feeling pretty unfocussed. So I sent my wife a texted my wife letting her know I was stretching out and might fall asleep…and then promptly fell asleep with most of my body under the tonneau cover with just my feet and calves sticking out. I bet it looked pretty silly, but it was comfy.

I woke up a half hour later feeling pretty damned good…comparatively. I looked at the time and realised I probably had time to do one more lap. So I stood up and promptly gave up on that idea. Brain was willing but legs were unlikely to cooperate.

So I packed up and headed home for a long shower. Bonus points for being able to climb stairs when I got home.

I did a fair bit of napping through the evening and started to feel more human.

When I went to bed I went to sleep quickly and almost immediately jerked violently awake. As soon as I fell asleep, I immediately went into a dream about being back out on the trail and tripped! Then woke up trying to catch myself. That was unexpected but does speak to what my biggest concern was out on the trail as I was pretty damned tired of kicking roots by the end.

So how do I think I did? Probably the best answer is not as well as I would have liked but better than I had any reason to expect. My training just wasn’t right – I did not spend enough time on trails like what was out there to figure out a good way to run and not trip so often plus I did not do enough truly long training runs.

I did do something things right however – I hydrated well and I ended the race only a couple pounds lighter than when I started so that was way better than the 10+ pounds I was down after Spruce Woods Ultra. I had also fueled well – I only had 2 points where I had low blood sugar – the lap first thing in the morning where I should have eaten before I ran and I buggered up on the last lap I did as I think I had already shut down or was just not thinking straight. Plus no runners’ trots which was a phenomenal surprise!

Besides the blisters and the rough ankle on my right foot I seem to be almost 100% – my ankles look bruised and my feet look like they have a heat rash but other than that no other issues.

So at this point I had a lot of thinking to do – I am I cut out for this ultra thing? I have not done as well on the last two as I would like…but I also pulled off 50+ miles despite being severely undertrained…so maybe I can do it but I would need to focus my training much better. What does that mean though? Stop worrying about half marathon speed training? I just don’t know at this point and it is going to take time to sort out mentally.

Up next is the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Services Half Marathon in 2 weeks and then the Goofy Challenge in January. I need to focus on training for the Goofy Challenge over the next few months and how that training goes will help me decide what I do after that….stay tuned!

To end this – thanks again to all the fantastic volunteers at the race! And thanks to the race director Dwayne for all the hard work put into the race! Awesome job once again!