Diez Vista 50k

I might have overdone my race schedule this year (7 on the books so far). After last season (when I broke my leg) and only managed one race, I decided to use races as long training runs… to get miles on my legs. Diez Vista 50 km was my fourth race of the 2018 season (the other three were all between 21 and 24 km) and the first ultra. I was sort of cavalier about it - to the extent that I didn't plan to write a blog. But, when I spoke to my Mom the day before, she signed off with "blog me your race." So, here is my attempt at a micro blog.

Diez Vista 50K is in Port Moody around the trails of Buntzen Lake where Capes (my first dog) and I roamed for almost a decade. In those days, I wasn't ken to ultra running or elevation so Capes and I used to run around the lake - a lot. It was by doing Gary's Coast Mountain Trail Series races that I learned the upper trails which reward you with views. The effort to get there is commensurate.

Capes my old friend

I had just run Run Ridge Run a couple of months ago (25 km race with lots of the same trails). Basically RRR covers the first half Diez Vista and - on paper - the hardest half. But what is hard depends on how far you ran before you got to that section…. just saying.

Leading up to the race, it was fun to chat on email with local running celeb (and colleague) Tara Holland about the course and weather predications. Weather was a big factor because it had been a slow, cold spring and it rained buckets in the couple of days leading up to DV 50. The year before, about half the field had DNFed due to extreme rain.

Getting my wheels torqued the day before the race. That rain is for real.

The night before, Hector stayed overnight with the Jeff - the man in his life. Lynne was out of town so having Hector taken care of was a must. But sure did miss him.
I woke up at 4:30 am and hit the road early. No hiccups. Everything clicked.

Chatted with Tara.

Said hello to RDs Geoff and Gary and the announcer par excellence, John Crosby.

Stood around with the others for the race briefing.

Over 200 signed up for the 50K

3-2-1 start. And we were off. The race starts with a lap of Sasamat Lake (below). The trick is to hold back!

Morning fog turned to sun

Is there a distinct rhythm to a race? Yes, sort of. Provided you are trained, it goes like this. When you start, you are so fresh that you feel like a spirit or gas floating along over the ground. Effortless slowly turns to effort. In this race, there is a lot of climbing in the first two hours. The first views illustrate how high you have ascended.

View from the ridgeline.

A technical run along the ridge ends with an even more technical descent. It had been raining for eons so the earth was mud and roots. 150 runners were ahead of me (for now) so the trail was slick on the way down. Many people fell. I attribute my uprightness to extreme caution and my Scott shoes with their super grippy mountain tread.

Another stellar view

On the way down, I got a big hug from my friend and Ridgeline Athletics teammate Vicki who was volunteering all day from 545 am to 730 pm on the side of a dark mountain that she had hike into. I mean … running is easy in comparison.

At the bottom, there is a dead flat stretch around an adjacent lake. On the flat, I lost all of my bounce. My legs were dead. I know this feeling; it is exactly the same as getting off your bike in a triathlon after an 90 km ride and starting to run. Luckily, it didn't last too long but I never felt great on the run to the 23 km aid station.

There was some encouragement….

At the halfway mark, I grabbed my gels and water bottles for the 2nd half and took off again. The first few steps were fine. Then it was as if I turned from a liquid to a sold in a split second. My legs were concrete, hard to even drag along. There was about 7 km of easy-ish trail ahead and I knew it would be fatal to walk it, let alone the rest of the race.

In that moment, I realized "oh, I just have to run, not fast but put one foot in the front of the other." Once I had had this revelation, I just started to click along. On the east side of lake, I passed 4 or 5 people. I guess that we were all turned to solid at the same time. By the end of the race, I had passed quite a few more turned to stone.

After a brief stint up a forest service road, we turned onto the Academy Trail. I had been warned that this section was not flat. Some people had given up and were walking in both directions (it is an out and back) but having discovered that I could just lean forward slightly and run, I just rolled along. Did my legs hurt? Yup. But I was totally chill because now I had the secret to ultras, just roll forward.

More climbs, a long descent and we hit the 37 km aid station. Sarah Thompson, an amazing and dedicated volunteer, greeted me with an offer of a grilled cheese sandwich. Much appreciated but gels are nauseating enough. In my mind, the 37 km mark was when sh*t gets real. Same for a 50 miler (based on n of 1), 37 miles in and it is go time. There is a flip side which is that you are also almost there, you can taste the finish.

In the last third, on the home stretch

I rocked the last third by putting in my earbuds and rolling to music. Hill after hill, descent after descent until the 44 km AS. Then there is a nasty climb but it is the last one and I know it well. Go Dog Go. The hardest part was the final descent because the trail had turned into a rocky creek with fast flowing water. Trail river. No even sections, just water on rocks. I stubbed my big toe really hard and knew instantly that I was going to lose it but it hardly registered. I hammered home to finish in 7:52, second in my age group (out of 10!). 113th out of 158 finishers (I don't think everyone finished). YES !

Funny thing: I walked up the 87 steps to my car and ate something and was about to drive off when I realized that I had forgotten my drop bag with all of my contingency spare clothing. There was no way I was walking back 400 meters so I drove about 1.5 km to park at the stairs leading down to the beach and gingerly walked down all 87 stairs and back up with my bag. As I got to the top, Gary was announcing a door prize for the oldest runner. I heard him call out "58" and no one answered. Next would be me at 57 but no way was I walking back down 😹.

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