Haliburton Forest 100 miler is one of my favourite races. Great trails, amazing atmosphere and wonderful people. I had gone into the race looking to have a strong run. I’d felt good about my training this year and had an encouraging race leading into it last month at Dirty Girls 12hr.
With ultras however, you just never really know until race day how things will go though. Over the past few days, I had felt that I’ve been fighting a bit of a bug, but tried to do everything I could to make sure that on race day all would be good. I wasn’t feeling terrible, but certainly not great either. I hoped that things would be fine once I got going.
I tried to put things out of my mind and decided to start very cautiously with the hope that I’d feel better as the early miles clicked away. I could tell that my legs weren’t feeling the trail love early on, but hoped that by taking it easy, fueling early and often, that I’d start feeling better. Most of the time in races I find that I never really start to feel better and have an idea of how things will go until after 5 or 6 hours running, so even not feeling great at the start, I held out hope.
We were treated to heavy rainfall during the race which I found a little more difficult than it should have been. With trying to start cautiously, I didn’t find that I was able to stay warm very well, so began to pick up the pace slightly after 25km. By this time I started to feel pretty rough and knew it was going to be a challenging day. I got through the first 40km, but had resorted to taking Advil, which I don’t like to do during a race. I knew that I had a bit of a fever, and hoped that this would help take the edge off a bit.
At 60km, I think that the writing was pretty much on the wall and that I knew my race would end early. I kept thinking though that if I got to halfway, that just maybe I’d start feeling better and be good to keep going. In reality, I didn’t really care much about running a fast time or placing well on the day, but just really wanted to get another 100 under my belt at Haliburton…especially since I don’t think I’ll be able to return in 2013.
As I inched closer to 70km, my body was aching pretty badly and I felt that my fever was going up a bit. I knew at that point that I was going to have to drop. The thought of doing another 10km around MacDonald Lake to only have to drop at the exact spot again seemed like a monumental task. So, it was a fairly easy decision to pull the plug at 70km. I spent a few minutes in the comfort of the heated medical tent with Nurse Cory trying to get warm until Sara arrived and could load me up and take me back to the finish.
It was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow, but I didn’t really feel that I had much of a decision to make, but that it was one that was made for me. Trying to look at the positives of the race, I did get in a 44 mile training run, structurally I came away with no injuries, and I can possibly look at another long race this fall (cost effective suggestions welcome).
As I write this, it’s the day after the race and I feel a hollow pit in my stomach that I didn’t get anywhere near what I wanted out of the race. Last night I felt like crap with fever, aches and chills…however, I am feeling a little better this morning. Guess it’s ‘almost’ time to start planning for what’s next.
On a positive side, it was inspiring to see (and hear of) some great performances by others out on the course, including coaching clients Jenn in the 50k and Kelly in the 26k. Great job guys! Also, huge congrats to friends John McAlister for his inspirational win in the 100 miler, and Keith Iskiw for his repeat 50 mile win. And, congratulations to everyone who took part in the race.
Lastly, a huge thank you to race director Helen Malmberg (and team of volunteers) for organizing an incredible race, and for her love of the Forest. Spafford Health and Adventure was very proud to be a sponsor of this wonderful event.