That Dam Hill 24hr race

That Dam hill race takes place in Springbank park in London, ON. It’s a 2.24km loop that you run over and over.
I knew I was totally under trained for this event considering I had only done 3 3hr runs and a bunch of runs in the 2- 2 1/2 hr range, but I figured I’d just run as much as I could and power walk when I had to. I also went into this race with a heavy heart knowing that my friend Diane (also a runner) was in critical condition in the ICU after a freak accident. Her prognosis wasn’t good Friday night,
Thanks to Chris and Christa Baker for letting me sleep over at their house and giving me a ride to the race. They were both going to run the marathon. Melanie was coming to pick me up Sunday morning so really my only option was to keep moving throughout the whole 24 hrs 🙂
At the start of the race I ran a few laps with Nick. He was aiming for 100kms in the 12 hr event. It was nice to chat and get to know him a little in the early hours of the race. I felt good for the first 5 hrs, then my legs and feet felt dead. So I decided a walk break was in order. I walked 2 loops and then continued on running. And that was my pattern for the rest of the race. Run til my legs hurt too much, walk 2 laps, feel better, run a few more hours. Though the run to walk ratio got much smaller as the time went by. Sometime in the afternoon, I decided to check my phone and text Mel to tell her how I was doing and get an update on Diane. Sadly, I learned that she had passed away a few hours earlier. Mel said to keep on running ‘run for Diane’. I think I cried for the next two loops. Thanks to Clay Williams for running out to stop me and give me a hug around this time.
The thing about this course is that when night falls, the skunks come out! The one section of this course was skunk central. Every time I went by I looked for their eyes being lit up by my head lamps. Skunks don’t bother me in the least except that I didn’t want to get sprayed by one. I gave them a wide berth every time I saw one.
I got really tired around midnight. I almost stopped and lay down on the trail, but remembered that the stone cottage was warm and available to us. So I went in there, elevated my legs and feet on a chair and crashed on the floor. I think I stayed 10-15min then got up and kept going. I was at 132km at that point. Getting to 100miles seemed to take forever. It was tough going. Finally made it though! One more loop and I was closing my eyes, yawning a ton and hallucinating a bit. Time to crash again. This time I made the Decision to rest for much longer -40min went by I think before I was able to get up, get some warmer clothes on and head out for a few more loops. I was on my second walking loop when I saw Melanie arrive. She ran over and we chatted a bit. It was close to 7am and I decided I could probably slow jog the last hour. Until I caught up to a guy who was at about the same mileage as I was. Then with about 30min to go, I decided I wanted to try and beat him if I could even though I wasn’t completely sure what our total mileage was but I knew we were close. I think I heard some one say if I stayed ahead of him, I could finish in second place. So I POURED it on! I thought I could get in 2 more laps for sure. I didn’t look back once. But I did listen for his beep over the two timing mats along the river side to see how much of a gap I had. Much to my dismay as I passed the finish line, Mel yells ” you have time for one more loop plus a bit more!” I kinda didn’t want the bit more part. And turns out I had to finish one more whole lap so they could plot my final finish spot. And omg, was that last lap hard. I hadn’t planned on one more loop. My pace was slowing and the lactic acid was creeping up my legs coming up That dam Hill for the final time. My legs felt like cement blocks and the final sprint didn’t feel very sprint like. But I finished!!!
My first 24hr race! It was tough. Especially the hours between 12-6am. I’m happy I stuck it out and finished good enough for first female and 2nd overall. Surprisingly I never got bored running all my loops. I never listened to music either. I listened to the sounds of the ducks and geese near the river and that was entertainment enough.

Thanks to Clay and Rhonda for crewing, Mary-Lou for the hug at the beginning, all the runners who gave words of encourage to during the race (Maryka, Jodi, Mary-Lou, Steven, Nick, and all those whose names I don’t know or can’t remember), Dave Carver for the entry, all the volunteers at the aid stations, MCMTiming, Melanie for coming to get me & driving me home.

First female

After crossing the finish line

That Dam hill swag

That Dam hill swag

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Haliburton 50-miler

Hey, my name is Lucy and this past weekend, I ran my first 50 mile race at Haliburton.

I started running a bit more seriously last year and did a couple of half marathons before I started running Ultras this year. I was at Fat Dog pacing my great friend and coach Byron Guptill this August and the experience was incredible. It required enough mental strength and resilience that I thought this 50 miler would be a piece of cake after the British Columbia mountains and mean-ass weather.

My goal for this race was to finish under 12 hours.

I got to Haliburton on Friday, picked up my race kit and left for the place I would stay overnight. I slept with one eye open, making sure my alarm was still on – you know, just in case.

Got up in the morning, got to the restaurant to try and get a bit of food in me but I was such a nervous wreck that I just tried to distract myself with the conversations flowing around me. Byron came in, ready to start his day/night to support all the runners. It was so great to see a familiar face of which I know can lean on for support, or at least a good smack in the back – “you’ll be fine, it’s all good”.

The start line was busy, and it was so dark outside. All there was to see was hundreds of headlamps but you could feel the excitement and the hype. As I said moved towards the start, I said goodbye to my honey and stood there for minute before the “gun” went off. I was so afraid, I actually cried. Then I thought to myself, “if you’re crying now, you’ll be wailing later, Bergeron. Suck it up pussy”.

Bam! It’s time to go! We start running, getting a feel for my surroundings, getting a feel of my gait, my breath, settling into a comfortable pace – the coach said to take it easy on the way to the turning point (40KM). As I look around and listen to the conversations, I hear a familiar voice: Jim Morrison! God, it was it nice to see this guy. Those who know me will understand the respect I have for him and how much I look up to him.

The sun started to rise and I was feeling good, I had what felt like a good pace going and I was hyper as hell, but respectful of how things could turn around ever so quickly (lesson learned at Fat Dog!).

I passed Aid Station 2 where my coach was, and I was happy to see his face, left my coat and other layers and got on my merry way listening to his instructions: “eat food, drink more, hurry get the hell out of here!”.

As I am getting familiar with the trails and my feet are feeling agile and quick, I tried to look around me and enjoy the incredible space I am in.

Around KM 16, I started thinking to myself as I went forward, “what the fuck were you thinking? You still have 64KM to go. 64! Are you going to be able to maintain this pace? How the hell are you going to deal with the pain?” This lasted over a period of about 10KM.

As I was leaving another Aid Station, shimmying along, running by the water and checking things out, I kicked a rock that felt like a boulder, which ricocheted between both my ankles, leading me to yell louder than I thought I did “FUCK!” Someone was standing there and looked kind of uncomfortable as I apologized to her without really meaning it…

After that, I thought to myself “come on Bergeron, are you really gonna keep up this shit talk for 54KM?” I then decided that it was a great time to trick my mind, which apparently is an easy thing to do. I thought that if I was then at KM 26, I only had about 14KM to the turnaround point. After that 40KM turnaround, I’m coming back towards the finish line, getting closer and closer rather than further and further. That was all I needed – I picked it right back up and took advantage of the downhill’s and running the roads rather hard (against the coaches’ advice (I know, I know!)) as my breathing felt great. I felt on track for a good split.

BAM – it’s here already, the 40KM turnaround, YES! The amazing people at Aid Station 7 filled my bottles back up, I put an assortment of food in my Ziploc back and on I go; or I thought I would.

The simple motion of stopping my feet seemed to have triggered all the joints to say “Hell no, you’re not doing this to us twice!” My body was hurting so much and I knew I still had 40KM to go, not just 10KM more as a 50KM would have normally been.

I went to the dark place again despite my will; I couldn’t shake those negative thoughts. I said to myself as I was looking at the ground, “If I bail and hit my head on this rock and pass out, no one is going to give me shit. No one is going to tell me I failed and they will just come get me.” As this idea seemed more and more appealing, I realized what I was thinking and shook myself and though “Come on, you’re no fucking pussy, you can do this, you’re prepared for this, you’ve ran in a storm that a ton of people quit in. Come on, Bergeron, let’s go.” I then did an overall of my body:  Ankles – they feel like shit. Knees – they’re fine! Hips – meh, sore but no biggie. Breath – All good, A1. “Alright,” I thought, “then pick up your feet and let’s do this shit, give ‘er!

Again, I was able to push harder and take advantage of the downhill’s and easier terrain at times.  I made a new friend, Neil, who was doing his first 50M as well and had spent 3KM before he realized he was going the wrong way. Our conversations kept us busy and we kept on moving through the Aid Stations, barely stopping.

My next “happiness goal” was the excitement to see Byron again – a familiar face, I thought, someone who will give me the strength for the final stretch. I soon realized that I was closer than I thought to Aid Station 2. When I realized how close I was, I just went for it and saw Byron and went “HEY! I’M HERE, I made it this far!” We hugged and he kicked me outta there and on I went for the last 10KM stretch. I was hanging on to the thought that I would see that familiar face again soon enough and then, it would almost be over. I could almost taste the finish line.

Off the road and into the trail we go again. Neil and I had caught up to each other again and were trying to keep each other going. Another strong wave of pain hit me but this time, it was hard, it felt excruciating. My body felt like it was shutting down, and fast. I could barely eat anything.

These few KM’s of trail felt like 80 years.

Neil was aware of his surroundings and knew what stations were coming up and was trying to explain them to me. I was getting grumpy AND loopy – I had no idea WTF he was talking about. I kept asking him if he was sure ‘cause I sure as hell wasn’t going to do an extra 3KM.

Sure enough, he was right – we made it through and looped back to Aid Station 2. I was looking for that green hoodie, but I couldn’t find Guptill anywhere. I was puzzled. A girl said to me “Hurry, Byron’s waiting for you at the finish line!” Well, that was all I needed to give me one last bit of push. I felt like I was going to fall to the ground my ankles were so sore. I could barely pick my feet back up to get momentum to start shuffling again.

And go – all road until the end – THANK GOD. Rolling hills were on the menu. My watch had just died at the last Aid Station, which I was relying on so much to help push me and guide my effort (good note to self, not to do that during a race). I was walking the climbs for the first bit. Although the watch was dead, I could still read the time: 5:25PM. I had worked way to hard not to finish under 12 hours as planned. I was gonna make that time if my damn life depended on it.  Neil had caught up again. “Come on Neil, let’s give her, let’s get this done”, I said. We kept on going and going. I consider myself quite a positive person in general, however, at that time, I was the most annoying whiney baby there might’ve been on that whole course. “When the fuck are those hills gonna end!?”

And finally, there it was! No figment of my imagination (as one might’ve thought), the finish line, I could see it. It was almost over! I ran with what little power was left in me, but all of it, ran as hard as I could and crossed that line. This was the most relief, happiness, pride and so many other feelings I’ve felt at once. I screamed “I’m never doing a fucking 100-miler!” as I hugged my coach (holding back my tears with all my pride) who was laughing hysterically at me. I hugged my honey and his familiar arms had to pretty much hold my whole weight as my feet couldn`t bear my weight for one more second.

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Byron pointed at the clock and here it was, that time I had hoped to see during this entire journey: 11:49:31. I had done it, the feeling of crossing the line was great but seeing my time, that I was able to achieve this goal the first time around, that I had the strength and the resilience not to give up even when it hurt more than I thought I could handle, that in itself was the greatest feeling of accomplishment, ever.

Lesson of this race: you are stronger than you think. Be resilient. Be your best you, even when you think you’re your worst you.

Thank you Coach for always pushing me but trusting me, showing me what I can do and having faith in me. I can’t wait to cross the finish line of my next big challenge (with my mandatory crew, of course) – La Harricana, perhaps?

Haliburton 100

Hey. My name is Lizzy Hughes. I’m just a normal kid from Waterloo who likes to run. This past summer I decided to attempt to run one of these ultramarathon things I’ve heard so much about. I started with a 50 mile race, which suddenly turned into a 24 hour race two months later…which suddenly turned into me signing up for my first 100 mile race, only 3.5 months after running just 50 miles. Despite this I was feeling pretty good about it. Until about a week and a half out. I started noticing some pain in my heel, only to find out that I had a bruised bone in my heel. Okay okay I can deal. Keep running, baby my foot. Do some barefoot running at cross country practice…and shit. Stepped on a nice sharp piece of glass that went straight up into my big toe. Okay that hurts a lot. Go to my RMT. Find out that I have a minor tear in my hamstring- that apparently could potentially put me out of running for 3 months. Baby the leg, baby the foot, super glue the toe. Let’s go race weekend!

Letting my dad super glue me toe...

Letting my dad super glue me toe…

Come Friday, I went to class and then was picked up by my good friend Kim. We drove up to Haliburton- Kim, Richard, their friend Ruta, and myself. We got there just as dinner was starting so Kim (fellow 100 mile runner) and I went straight for food as Richard (50 km) and Ruta (12 km) unpacked the car (God bless their souls). That night I glued my toe together again and had Mama Kim tape up my toe as well, then half cried myself to sleep knowing what would come the next day.

Letting Kim tape my toe while I obviously do nothing.

Letting Kim tape my toe while I obviously do nothing.

Okay okay I’ll get to the race. Started at 6 am. I just stuck with the crowds for the first section. The route was a 25 mile out and back, starting with a 10 km loop, then going out to 40 km, turning around and coming back. I stuck with people on and off, talking sporadically but in general sticking to myself. I remember the route being so bright and beautiful. My perspective changed as the race went on.

My first fun event was getting a wasp sting right on my ankle along the sock line. Turns out the stinging turned into a sprain feel. I discovered at this point my angry side- letting every rude word I could think be said.

shitthatspretty

I ended arriving at the turn around in 6 hours and 8 minutes. I was feeling pretty good about myself with this. I had been hoping to get the first 50 miles done in 12 hours, allowing myself a good 18 hours to finish the next 50 miles. Things OBVIOUSLY didn’t go as planned, because that just wouldn’t be right. This next section was odd. During the run back to the start, I had my only incredibly evident “down”. Turns out, when I get tired in a race, I turn into a weepy wimp. I went from singing and dancing to crying at the frogs, that were probably lonely and without a family- I can only assume. While running to the start/finish line, getting ready to start the second half of the race, every thought that came to my head made me want to cry. From wondering if I could finish to picturing my finish, I displayed my least favourite side of myself- my annoying teenage pathetic girl side. I ended up arriving at the turnaround at 13 hours and 8 minutes. Putting me an hour or so behind my intended goal. Triggering my wimpy side.

Thankfully, I didn’t have long until my pacer, Steve, would arrive. I had been anticipating his arrival practically from the start of the race. While going into the beginning loop, he wasn’t at the aid station yet, so I set off alone with my headlamp. The loop started with roads and ended on a trail, with an aid station in between. When I got to the aid station it had gotten fairly dark. I learned something else about myself at this point. Apparently, I don’t like going into dark forests that are inhabited by bears all alone. A very eager saviour came to my rescue. Chris, who had run the same race the year before in 26 hours, VERY eagerly offered to run back to the aid station with me. I accepted and attempted to absorb his enthusiasm. He was the first to “convince” me that I would finish the race. Through that 5 kms, we ran every section we could, and during the walks I would continually hear Chris yelling “IT’S BUCKLE TIME!” in between our conversations about life.

When we arrived at the aid station, Steve was eagerly waiting for me with his watch ready to switch out for my dead Garmin. I decided to change my clothes at this point considering the dropping temperature and put on my compression socks. I ate something quickly, had my toes insulted, and set off into the night with Steve.

Steve had this great idea. He brought along a portable music player and decided to play my music out loud for me. Turns out I have the most embarrassing music a person could have. Every song that came on had me apologizing. As we hiked through the forest, we came upon many different people. We were passed by the first place runner coming the opposite way (much to my dismay…) as well as a fellow rookie struggling with tummy issues. I gave my ginger pills, salt pills and traumeel pills and moved on.

At this point my “run” turned more into a hike. I could feel Steve trying to push me forward, as well as my entire body and soul trying to hold me back. Finally, we got to aid station 6. This was at the 30 km point and the last aid station before the turn around (aid station 7 was right at the turn around). I was having some pain on my back and was quick to discover that my sports bra was playing this fun game called “Cut Lizzy’s Entire Back Open”. On the plus side, this gave Gary, an aid station volunteer, a new experience to deal with that he was evidently uncomfortable with. I was taped up with gauze and medical tape, drank a cup of coffee (which I don’t do much) and sent on my way.

Immediately after we began walking, one of the rudest, most offensive songs to be made began to play on my ipod, which in turn began to blare in the forests for all to hear. I continually asked Steve if we could skip and he insisted that he isn’t easily offended and it would be fine. From here I had to apologize and attempt to explain how it was my awful friends that put this song on my ipod as the lyrics got more offensive. Steve actually stayed with me though- surprisingly.

Our music died almost directly after I offended the forest. This happened just in time for my coffee to kick in. Poor Steve. I don’t think I stopped talking for 30 minutes straight. Anything that came to my little mind came right out of my mouth.

At this point we were verging on 2 am and the rain started. It was almost refreshing at first. Then, as my steps began to slow and the rain continued to thicken, the refreshing rain turned to cold rain. We finally got to the turn around where I added pants and a hat to my clothing. I had a cup of soup as well as another cup of coffee. Poor Steve.

Turn around

Turn around point.

This next section felt like years. The hills were all uphills. And obviously, this is the point where we go off course and add a couple more hills into our workout. Cause why not. Sounds like fun.

We trudged on and I kept changing clothes because of the rain. Every section that I had planned on running turned into ankle deep mud, meaning that I walked everything.

At this point my 28 hour goal was out the window and my revised goal was to finish before the 30 hour cutoff.

And then the longest section of the race came up. That section between aid station 4 and aid station 5 was only 7.5 km, but I could have thought it was 40 km if I hadn’t have known. At this point the sun was coming up, and regardless of the bright new day, the only words coming out of Steve and my mouth were “I think I see the aid station. Never mind.”, “Where the fuck is that aid station?”, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me there’s another hill.”. (This is the point in the race where I started swearing a lot more…)

Oh did I mention that the entire time Steve was with me he continually asked me about my pee? From frequency to colour (I don’t know how he thought I’d figure that one out at 3 in the morning…). Every time I would take a piss he would practically clap for me. Yaaaayy kidneys! It was like being house trained.

We FINALLY got to the fourth aid station, which-thank the lord- quickly turned into the 2nd aid station. At this point it was 9:30am on Sunday, with about 12 km left to go. I decided at this point to ditch half my gear and clothes and try to push it. I dropped my outer pants, handhelds and outer jacket. I don’t know where the energy came from but Steve and I decided to play in the woods for awhile. I still had to walk the hills but stretching the legs felt surprisingly nice.

It took about 90 min (give or take…more give) to get through the hill loop (10  km) before getting back to aid station 2, the final aid station. Weeks back I had met one of the aid station volunteers, Don, and he had asked me what I would like the most to see at an aid station. Thinking I’m funny (which I am), I said a good couple tequila shots. Obviously, Don provided. I had told Don from the start that I would take my shot at the last aid station. Throughout the race Steve had said that he wouldn’t take a shot due to tummy issues, but when approaching that station Steve decided he was in. What was a silly joke was suddenly turned into the entire aid station shooting some tequila at 11 am on a Sunday. Seems about right.

Shots with the crew.

Shots with the crew.

We walked/jogged into the finish line, 2 km away. I ended up passing the finish line in 29 hours, 30 minutes. I was obviously met with the best cheer squad a girl could want. Huge thanks to the Haliburton crew!

My finish line picture!

My finish line picture!

Biggest thanks to the best pacer a girl could ask for!

Biggest thanks to the best pacer a girl could ask for!

Change is good

If you have made your way here before, then you may have noticed a little re-skin, a name change, and a new URL: blog.runsofanarchy.ca.  On this blog, I have been telling my story about my love of running.  This blog has been one of my vehicles by which I share my love and enthusiasm for running with others, no matter if they think running anything longer than 100 m is far to long, let alone 100 miles or more.

“Runs of Anarchy”?  Runs of Anarchy is a running group.  There is no formal structure to the group.  We have a cool name, a sweet logo, and some killer swag. To us running isn’t just an activity, it is a lifestyle.

This blog is a reflection of a person’s passion to run.  You will find stories about race experiences and in some cases, life lessons.  At the core, the blog is about realizing that we define our limits.  More to the point, our capabilities are boundless.  Moving forward, you will be introduced to incredible people with great stories.  People with different paths in life, but people that share a common passion, the love of running.

Change is good.

Byron

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