Friday, August 22, 2014

Athlete's Corner: Squamish50

Squamish 50/50 race reports 

from Marie Boucher and Andy Healey

Squamish, BC, Canada - photo from Squamish50 FB page

Race Concept: Cumulative times for the 50 mile and 50 kilometer events on back to back days.
When: Saturday August 16 (50 mile), Sunday Aug 17 (50 km), 2014
Where: Squamish, BC, Canada
Distance/Elevation: 130 km, ~ 6096m / 20,000 feet of vertical climb and descent
Time limit: 16 hours (50m), 11 hours (50k)
No. participants: 75 max
RDs: Geoff Langford and Gary Robbins
50/50 Results: here  Full results and iRunFar race coverage interviews: here

Marie finished in: 21:37:44 and Andy finished in: 21:37:00

Marie Boucher
Andy Healey - photo by Carolyn Kelly-Smith

Chloe: You have been racing ultras for some time now, including up to the 100 mile distance. What was the appeal with this 50/50 event? 

Marie: Squamish 50/50 was my goal event this year, and I have been excited about attempting my first “stage race”.

Andy: I have yet to tackle the 100 mile distance, but ask in a month and I should be singing a different tune. I wanted to do this race for a couple different reasons. First and foremost, I love the Squamish 50. The race directors, the volunteers, the people who run in the race and the people who come out to support everyone are all the best. I've got a tonne of friends who were planning on running various distances and/or volunteering, so I knew it would be the party of the summer and I would have been a fool to miss it. This was my third time taking part in the race, I've done the 50 miler for the past two years and when the option of the 50/50 was announced, I figured I had to do it. It was a big challenge, it was ridiculous and I love trying things that I'm afraid of.
Shortly after registering for Squamish, I found myself signing up for the Pine to Palm 100 miler in southern Oregon and I realized, that as absurd and potentially pretentious as it sounds, the 50/50 would be a perfect training run. Last but certainly not least, was the hat. I've been coveting those sweet CMTS trucker hats all year and the lure of a super rare limited edition 50/50 finisher's hat of my very own was too strong to resist. I suppose I'm a sucker for a sharp looking accessory. 

Chloe: Did you feel ready, how did you prepare for this?

Marie: I ran White River this year and finished third in my age category, so I felt confident my training was sufficient. My training was not without many visits to my physiotherapist but it was consistent. I ran three to four days per week, with one or two long runs. All of these runs were with my running mates and trusty dog Marlee. I biked to work twice per week and went to several spin classes. I also lift weights four days a week along with core-specific training. I changed my diet just over a year ago, leaning towards a vegetarian plan and juicing. This change helped to provide more energy and nutrients; it took two hours off my 100 km time.
I was forced to change my footwear to Saucony from Asics because they changed the model I was previously using. Paul Slaymaker, the owner of the Runners Den in Port Moody helped me with this decision and the fit.
Gail Forshaw, an accomplished ultra runner whom I’ve had the pleasure of training with for years, has taught me how to endure distances from 50 km up to 100 miles and helped me prepare for this 50/50.

Andy: I've felt good about my training all year, with everything falling into place. I'd been ramping things up since winter, first with DiezVista 50k, then the Vancouver100 and now the 50/50, all leading up to Pine to Palm. I've avoided injury and stayed super consistent with my training. I don't follow a traditional training plan - I realized years ago, these just add stress to my life, so I simplified.
My work and parental responsibilities allow me two full-days a week (during the school year) to run as much as I want, and I can sneak-in a long run early Saturday or Sunday. My long runs are anywhere from three to six hours, with the occasional all-day peak bagging or backcountry mission. Lots of hills, and quick shorter runs here and there. I don’t have lofty race goals other than just doing it. If I was more competitive or something, I'd change things up but as it stands, I'm happy to continue as is.
In terms of preparation of my nutrition and fueling, my mainstays are always almonds and dates. Along with that, I packed some avocado, a couple Eat More chocolate bars, a couple granola bars and I had a burrito in my drop bag at Quest for the fifty mile day.
For the 50k day I just ate aid station food and my granola bars. The first day, I had mostly just water in my bottles and the second day I started with watered down mango/carrot juice and topped it up throughout the day with everything from aid station Heed to creek water. Like most people, I drink Coke at aid stations but never in real life.
On the 50 mile day, I wore my old school Nathan double bottle belt, and on 50 km day I had a single handheld bottle and a smaller bottle tucked in the waist of my shorts that I used for dumping creek water on my head. I planned to wear the shoes I had been training in, but they had a critical failure and blew apart on a peak bagging mission to Mount Capilano a week before the race. So I wore a brand new pair of Altra Lone Peak 2.0's straight out of the box. It should have been horrible, but it was great! You know the old saying, "Nothing new on race day... except for the most important piece of gear."

Chloe: So, how did it go?

Marie: Race day was only one sleep away and I was lined up, to get my race package and it was that moment I felt nervous for the first time. I started doubting myself and questioning my training and fake injuries were popping up in my legs as the line moved forward. This happens all the time pre-race and funny thing is each time these fake injuries seem so real. I wondered if I'd get blisters, if my IT band would hold, if my ankle would swell again etc... it would be interesting to know what goes on in all runners heads in the package pick up line.
So back to my hotel to eat my pre-race meal of steamed yams, parsnips, sweet potatoes and carrots with some BBQ chicken and salmon. I slept well and was at the start line with no (real) injuries. I put myself at mid pack as usual and let the speedsters go. I knew what was ahead and wanted to conserve my energy for the first big climb of the day.
The weather held up and gave me hope that the blisters would not get me. As we all ran through these incredible trails of Squamish I began running with a woman who was attempting her first 50 miler. We ran together for most of the day and exchanged stories which helped pass the time.
Lots of roots and rocks to climb or jump over which made this course to me extremely difficult. At the second last aid station, I ran with a different woman who had travelled from Arizona. I always find it more memorable to run "with" someone in any race. I simply called her Arizona as we tackled the rest of the day. She pushed me on the flats and I helped haul her butt up the hills. It seemed to be working for both of us. As we finished the 50 miles we made a promise to both show up the next morning for the 50 km.
The 50 mile day went as well as hoped, meeting new people, sharing stories, and finishing healthy. I went back to my hotel and jumped in an ice bath and drank tea. After 20 minutes of torture in the bath, I forced down my pre-race meal, drank a litre of E-Load and went to bed. Slept like I’d run 50 miles, woke up, oatmeal, peanut butter bagel, and headed to the 50 km start.
There was Arizona as promised, so I knew this day might work-out. We stuck together throughout this very difficult course pulling at each other when needed. It made a real difference having that camaraderie. This was one of the most difficult courses I've ever run. Thankfully the weather was nice to help make the finish line more of a possibility. Arizona (Kristina Sladi) and I crossed the finish together to tie for third place. We were very happy it was over and Gary was waiting with a big hug for both of us.

Andy: I can say it now that it’s over without jinxing myself: I had two completely perfect days.
My friend James Clarke and I arrived in Squamish on Friday night, picked up our bibs, goody bags, and stopped at the jar store for cooking lagers then to Alice Lake and set up camp. I fried up beans and rice, ate burritos, drank wobbly pops and was snuggly in my sleeping bag by 9:30pm. The morning was as customary, coffee blended with butter and coconut oil, a banana and peanut butter for breakfast, though really missing my Vitamix.
The 50 miler start line was dark, I was seated at the back and didn't get chance to see friends or international superstars. Gary Robbins gave our pre-race talk and the man who started ultra running in Squamish, Paul Cubbon, the first race director for SQ50 (originally STORMY) did a strip tease of all the race shirts since 2001.
I intentionally started off slower than what felt right. I trotted along the first 10k or so, eventually catching up to friends, enjoying the easy pace and conversation. Linda Barton-Robbins, a wealth of knowledge and experienced with long races was with me. I knew our normal pace to be similar, so I was keeping her within sight. We passed the first aid station, dropped off headlamps, said hi to volunteering friends and headed into serious trails. I got ahead on the first descent too quick, but dialed it back.
I breezed through sections of the courses, where, last year I suffered and was in trouble with blisters or other issues too early into the race. At Quest, I sat and ate a burrito with avocado. I purposefully took my time fueling up knowing the next section to be brutal. The plan for the 50 mile day was to make it in one piece to the next day’s start.
Things rolled nicely on. Because I did most of the orientation runs and ran the race two years in a row, it felt I had good knowledge of the course.
The only real problem was with peeing, because I wasn't. At aid station seven, I got expert help from the We Run Mas crew, who sat me down and forced me to drink a bunch of water and Heed and ... one large, freezing cold can of German radler! Before I knew it, I was in Gary's loving arms "nice work" to which I replied "only 50k to go..."
The next day’s 50k start was nice because it was light and we could see faces of friends and international superstars. Right from the start we formed a great back-of-the-pack 50/50s group consisting of myself, James, Linda and Paul.
We took it out super mellow, shooting the breeze and laughing at how ludicrous this was. We stuck together until Galactic, where James and I started passing people on the way up and a tonne on the way down. I couldn't believe how great I was feeling. When we got to "SLOW! DANGER!" signs, we pretended they meant that going slow was dangerous so we bombed it and had a blast.
I felt like a champ as I hit the final road section “looking good, only one kilometre to go,” said the course marshal. A couple seconds later, I heard behind me “looking good, only one kilometre to go!” I turned around there was a fresh looking 50/50 runner right on my heels, then passing me. Another quick shoulder check and there was YouTube sensation The Ginger Runner. “No way,” I told myself, “No Californian is getting me, not now...” And so I put the proverbial hammer down and finished my race strong, proud, sore, tired, happy and ready to run a hundred miles in a month.
I gave Gary a second stinky, sweaty hug in as many days and finally got my new hat.

Photo by Elaine Fung 

Chloe: What top tips do you have for others who are considering this race?

Marie: This race was very well run and the volunteers were great. I would recommend this race for sure. I had no down moments the entire race during both distances as I was not afraid to DNF. I didn't over think or become too worried about any one thing. I decided to trust my training and just embrace the day. I respect all courses but this one deserves more respect. I welcomed the challenge and was fortunate that all went very well. This would be my advice for anyone doing the 50/50 race.

Andy: If you are not afraid of demanding, technical, unforgiving days in the mountains you won't be disappointed with the 50/50. Everything about the race is top class. If you're not a cyborg like Michael Wardian, my number one tip is to start slow. There's basically no time for recovery between races. Don’t blow-up on day one or you’ll be part of the 50% attrition rate. Stop and fix problems before they start. Take that rock out of your shoe.
Big thanks to: Gary, Geoff and everyone involved with the race and behind the scenes. James Clarke, my camping comrade and race day co-conspirator. Major hi5s to the We Run Mas crew. I could never do any of this stuff without the support of my awesome loving family Jen and Sam. 

Andy's Blog:

1 comment:

  1. Great report, thanks for sharing! I did the 50k and it nearly killed me. I can't even imagine running the 50/50!