Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Man of Legendary Stature

Ultrarunning is not always glamorous. 1 poo stop, 5 pee breaks, and a nosebleed were highlights for my 40k training run yesterday. Ah yes, and a breakfast of Maltodextrin and Salt, taken in 45 minute intervals. The breakfast of champions.
However, at the end of it, it was perhaps the best training runs of 2010 for me. The 40k route took me from Kemp Lake out in Sooke to Leechtown and back. This would be the first time I would run this section of the Galloping Goose Trail, and it is, without doubt, the most scenic part of the trail. The nosebleed came 3 hours into my 3:33 run, and I was fortunate to have Kleenex on hand to plug one nostril while still on the go.
So it was a good one for me. No cramping on a 40k run is a rare event for me. I even managed to run all the uphills, which I think is pretty impressive, when you consider a couple of those uphills I took on in the last 5 km.
I've now only got one final important training run left. I am planning on doing a 90' hill workout this Thursday at Mt. Doug, just to get a bit more quad endurance in me.

The last 4 weeks have been solid though.
4 weeks ago - 4 hours (28k) on the JdF with Sean Chester.
3 weeks ago - 80' (13k) bail out run.
2 weeks ago - 37k to E/B and back.
1 week ago - 40k to Leechtown and back from Kemp Lk.

JdF Trail in 2 weeks. I have decided to go for it, and decided to try the North to South option this year. Looking forward to it.

Now, on to the real reason I am making this post.

Last Thursday, I had the privilege to speak with Gary Robbins over the phone. Although I have never met him before irl, I feel that he and I have much in common, as we share many of the same passions. He is arguably Canada's best ultrarunner at the moment, and 2 weeks ago he set the 75k West Coast Trail Speed Record with a clocking of 10:05. Anyone who truly knows me knows that I am passionate about the WCT, almost to the point of obsession. I was hoping for a WCT Run this year in 2010, but with my injury earlier this year, it never happened. I still have dreams at night of a WCT attempt in 2011.
Although I am not a reporter, I did conduct a small interview with my idol, and I have included this below. The words down below are not exact quotes from Gary or myself, but I was taking notes, so you can get the gist of what we are discussing....

: Before I begin with the questions I have for you, I just got to congratulate you on setting the WCT Speed Record.

: Thanks, it is finally great to chat with you.

: And also, when you did the double (WCT/JdF) back in 2007 in just under 24 hours, most people thought this kind of goal was unattainable. I would like to thank you for being such a great role model and making the impossible seem possible. Although you may not know it, there are many runners young and old new to ultrarunning that look up to you as 'the guy' in the sport.

: Thanks, I think you have me blushing now. It is humbling to know that others are inspired by me.

: Concerning the WCT, I know you left just shortly after 5:30 am at the North Trailhead. Was light an issue at all?

: Yes, a little. For that time of the day, I really should have left about 15 minutes later, but I had pre-arranged when to meet the Nitnat Ferry guy - between 9 and 9:10 am - so I had to get to that point on time.

: When you got to the beach after the first 12k, were you able to use low tide and run in the ocean on the sandstone shelf at all?

: Not really. There were a couple times I went into the ocean, but it was dangerous down there. The terrain was sketchy and the larger rocks were terribly slippery. It was just dangerous, so I was forced onto the beach and the sand for much of it.

: So now you motor along to Km 22 where you encounter the first cable car crossing at the Klanawa River. Knowing how difficult these crossing are on your upper body, and how many Calories it takes, would you consider swimming across the river instead?

: Out of the 5 cable cars, I only took 2. And yes, the cable cars are pretty brutal, but I would definitely not swim across. There is too much to be lost if your body temperature gets too low, or your gear gets wet or something. While it may be slightly slower, it is just safer to use the cable cars.

: So now you bomb along until Tsusiat at Km 26. Did you find the next section after - from Km. 26 to Km. 33 nasty at all?

: It is a very technical stretch.

: Was the Nitnat guy there for you on time this time around?

: Thankfully, yes. I had phoned him ahead of time, and he was happy to show up earlier than scheduled for me. I gave him a twenty and I was on my way.

: Were the boardwalks slippery at all for you, or were they pretty dry?

: They were pretty good. I know there is usually a heavy mist in the mornings - even on a hot summer day - so they can be pretty bad. I'd say 90% of them were totally runnable. I can't even imagine attempting to run this trail when it is wet. I would never have come close to the record had the weather been different.

: You make it half way, to Monique's Restaurant. Did you stop there at all?

: Yes, it was a short stop though. I ate my trail mix, I filled up my water, and that was pretty much it.

: You now motor along to the Walbran River at Km 53 along the beach. How was that section, and did you manage to ford the river?

: The beach was a little slow going I have to say. Some of it was not very runnable, so it tried my patience on more than one occasion. The river (Walbran) was very high, and I decided not to chance it, so I went up to the trail and did the cable car...reluctantly.

: Along the final 20k or so, there are a few places where you may have thought about taking the beach instead of the trail. Were you able to fast-track along the beach?

: No. It was trail all the way out from the Walbran. I know there are places where the beach may be good, but the tides were not ideal, and the rocks along the beach had already proven to be very slippery. It would have been chancy to take that option.

: One of the most difficult parts of the trail is the final 10k. I know the final 5k for you was really bad, in terms of nutrition, but how did you find the km 65-70 section. You know, the loggy section.

: It is difficult for sure. Very technical, very slow.

: Your GPS showed at the end of the run that the trail was actually 80k, and not 75k. Where was the extra distance on the trail?

: The first kilometre was longish (1.2?), maybe due to the recent storms that the trail had endured. But after that, the kilometre marker were dead accurate for much of the way, until the last 10-15k. The last 5k was more like 8k.

: Was finding water on the trail a problem?

: No.

: Were you disappointed with your 10:08 finish?

: No. I came to set the record, and I did that. Yes I could have been faster, and yes I could have done a few little things differently. However, record set, mission accomplished.

: You have eluded to the fact that running the trail in the other direction may be easier.

: I am 100% convinced that running South to North is easier. Getting that nasty part out of the way when you are fresh has to pay off in the end. Logistics would be easier as well.

: Was your nutrition plan any different than when you do other races (ie. Western States), seeing that this trail is so damn technical?

: No. I use the same nutrition plan wherever I go. I struggled to fuel properly on the trail, and it was my own fault, and I paid dearly for it in the end. I have never bonked so bad in my life. I am used to refueling on the uphills, but because of the terrain, I couldn't really afford to take my eyes off the trail. Then on the flats, I wanted to run them to make up time and speed. The 80k over-distance and my inability to fuel properly (more gels) toward the end caused my bonking. I typically do 3 gels every 2 hours, 2-4 salt caps per hour and real food sporadically whenever I can. I pretty much budget on taking in 300 cal/hr.

: Finally, you know that you were capable of running the trail in 9:30 if everything was perfect. Do you think that the trail can be done sub 9...by you, or by anyone?

: Well, the conditions would have to be ideal. I think it might be possible, but the stars would need to be aligned. You would need 2-3 elite guys who are pushing one another the entire way, and perhaps not all of them even finish. The weather would have to be perfect, and the route would have to be the quickest. I think it could be done, but perhaps not for a very long time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good point, though sometimes it's hard to arrive to definite conclusions