Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trailstoke: 60 km run vs camping with a baby

Back in February Cam looked at me one day and nonchalantly said, "Hey, there's a 60 km ultra-marathon in Revelstoke in July. Would it be okay if I sign up?" Without paying much attention I nodded my head. It hadn't crossed my mind that this would mean the next 4 months would be filled with hours and hours of Cam out training for the run, all on top of raising our daughter and, not to mention, our travels through Europe for the majority of the training months. A combination of using running as his transportation to and from work in Copenhagen, along with some very early mornings and late evenings, and finally a few big trail runs when we arrived back in Vancouver, and next thing we knew, his training was complete. All that was left was the big event and it all went down this past weekend. So here's what happened!

My first thought about the day of the race was that I was pretty darn happy to be at the camp with Etta instead of being the one out running for 60 km. It had mostly been an okay morning to that point, but a heavy downpour along with a baby that didn't want to nap (all she wants to do these days is practice walking by herself!) caused things to become a bit more trying. It is days like this, when it is just Etta and I, that I get a glimpse into single parenting and my respect grows exponentially for those that have the task of raising a child on their own.

For this blog post, I am going to compare my day at the camp site alone in the rain with an 11-month old  vs. running a 60 km trail race. You may come to realize that these two activities are not so different after all!

Click for more pictures and information : Trailstoke

Waking up 
Cam - He got up at 4:15 am in order to get a good breakfast before the 6:00 am race start. By 5:15 Cam, Ravi and another friend named Eric were off to the start line. The boys were all 'stoked' to get going!

Etta and I - Etta and I got up at 6 am. Etta was still exhausted so we cuddled and slept until 7 am. So far so good!

The start
Cam - The start of any race is exciting. Although I was not there I am sure the boys had a sort of nervous energy pulsing through them as they prepared for the race to begin. Soon after the race started, they needed to summon that energy as they began the initial 15 km/5000 ft climb to the first aid station half way up Mount Mackenzie. I'm sure about 45 minutes in their legs began to burn as they realized they still had another hour or two left to climb before continuing with the rest of the race.

Etta and I- The start of any day camping is exciting. There are ample opportunities to explore nature, play with twigs, eat s'mores and so much more! I immediately got Etta ready for the day as I was anxious to get out for free gondola rides and mountain exploring. 

The second quarter
Cam- Soon after aid station 1, reality began to set in. The climb was not even close to over and due to last minute course changes, there were a lot less flat portions to break up the ascent. Up and up the runners went. Sure enough, the boys were starting to question what they had got themselves into. 

Staying fueled and hydrated was becoming very important. Cam was sure to keep eating his Clif bars and shot blocks and drinking as much water as he could. Thank goodness he packed lots of food. As he approached the summit of the mountain the wind was howling and the fog set in, and he had to put on his jacket. He was traversing over snowbanks and loose rock with limited visibility. Once he reached the top, he decided to reward himself with a chocolate stinger waffle, well-deserved! 

Etta and I- after the initial excitement wore off I realized that it was pouring rain outside. The warm, humid air attacked me with exhaustion as I tried changing Etta in the tent. Then while carrying an umbrella I carted Etta along with all my toiletries, rain jacket, lunch box and good ol' Husk to the washroom where I felt I could organize our day a little better. The worst part was that all I had were my slippers as my shoes were left last night in the car. I then tried going to the washroom, flushing the toilet, changing, washing my face and putting my contacts in all while trying to maneuver my new lil walker away from putting Husk into the toilet. I kept saying "I really do not think you would be that happy after Husk goes for a swim!" 

We then walked back to the tent area and I tried to make us breakfast on our camping stove. I then realized that I could not make my breakfast. It was pouring rain outside and both the wind and the rain were too strong. I was worried about becoming hangry as I bit into a banana that I was sharing with Etta. Thank goodness I brought ample food for Etta in case a situation like this were to arise. 

Following 'breakfast' I decided I needed to do something with Etta so that I would not feel claustrophobic from spending too much time in our 'glamping' tent that was starting to feel cramped. I decided to feed Etta a cereal cookie in the car and head over to ride the gondola for free a few times. 
Heading up the gondola. Etta really just wanted to get moving as I held her close for the picture.

Cam - He had reached the summit in one piece, and only a little worse for the wear, but his legs were really feeling it from the 10,000 ft of mountain that he just climbed as fast as he could. You would think going down would be a relief, but the difficult footing and angry weather made it a challenge to stay focused and keep his feet underneath him. His first wipeout came while running through a swamp and trying to open another Stinger waffle treat. Before he even knew it, he was flat on his face in the mud. It would have been easy to pack it in there. I bet he was just thinking how nice it would be to be snuggled up with his little girl in the tent having a morning nap.

Etta and I- Little did Cam know, I was not so fortunate to just be napping with a cuddly, sleepy Etta. In fact, by the end of the halfway point I was ready to give in, pack the tent and head home. I even considered having Cam, Ravi and Eric find another way back to the campsite after the race. This was upon returning to the campsite for Etta to have her nap. Etta decided to refuse her nap!! She has been having two naps but recently is occasionally refusing to nap. This can be very frustrating especially when the rain is pounding and I was exhausted from little sleep. I started to think about the big run. At this point I was imagining gloriously running through the mountains basking in the SILENT fresh air. I had the insane thought that I would love to be running a 60 km run that climbed a 10,000 ft mountain. You never know maybe someday I will!

Home Stretch
Cam- Despite a few more falls, Cam managed to keep picking himself up and barreling down the mountain towards the finish line. As the distance between him and the end of the race shrunk, he found new energy. He was running close by Eric, and a few other runners and was just letting gravity take him. There were a number of out and back portions within the last few miles of the race, and seeing the runners ahead and behind gave him some inspiration to keep pushing. He was also on pace for a much faster race than anticipated, and as he realized he might be able to finish in 6 hours he started to get really amped up. All he could think about was running through that finish line and giving his girls a big hug!
|The fog at the aid station. Can you imagine running on trails through this weather?

Etta and I- I decided to go on an adventure with Etta. We hopped on the shuttle that would take us up to the mountain to arrive slightly before Cam said he would most likely run by the final aid station. This shuttle made it up the steep, bumpy road to the aid station in 30 minutes. It was quite the adventure and Etta enjoyed the attention from the other people taking the shuttle. I enjoyed talking with other adults, specifically those that had completed the race in a relay.  I begun to get excited about the day. As the fog and cool air started coming we waited for Cam to run by until another shuttle came. When the shuttle came and there was no sign of Cam, I decided that it would be best if we headed back down the mountain. Seeing the racers and hearing about their adventures was really inspiring. It was the final boost at the end of the race and I was pumped up! 
The views before the fog came in.

Finish line
Cam - He zoomed through the finish line in 13th place overall and 6 hours and 2 minutes (1 hour faster than he told me he would finish!). Upon crossing the finish line the announcer said, "This runner looks a little pale, somebody make sure he's getting some fluid." It was true, he really pushed it in those last 10 km and made up a lot of time, but made him worse for the wear! He tole me when he came through the finish line it was a mix of happiness and exhaustion, along with a little bit of worry as to where Etta and I were. About 20 minutes later, he spotted me and Etta at the finish line and was thrilled to see us and share the moment. It really was a family achievement
Cam at the finish line!

Ravi ... our good friend coming through the finish line!

Etta and I- When Cam crossed the finished line, Etta and I were actually up at the 4th aid station hoping to see Cam on his way down the mountain. Here is a little background information on Cam. When Cam participates in a run he frequently tells me that he is going to do way worse then he actually does. Etta and I had actually taken a 30 minute shuttle up the mountain to try and see Cam before he headed down to the finish line.

After heading down the mountain via another shuttle we waited and watched the runners coming in through the finish. I started to worry about Cam and whether he had gotten injured somewhere on the mountain. Then all of a sudden, I turn around and see my handsome trail runner. I run up to Cam and give him a huge hug and a big congrats! All my previous worries of the day dissipate as my excitement for Cam finishing this race amidst a modest amount of training amazed me. 
Etta excited to see her dad after the race!
Post race 
Cam- Cam's stomach was in knots after the race due to a combination of working really hard and eating energy candies all day. After about an hour curled up in the fetal position on a couch, he started to feel a bit more like himself and was able to play with his little girl. It was good to be back!

You might notice a couple of black big toe nails on Cam's feet (#55), ouch!

Etta and I- After the race I was still exhausted as I still had not eaten. Hangry tendencies were starting to surface. Thankfully a pulled pork sandwich at the mid mountain lodge and a delicious chai tiramisu popsicle, made by a local, quenched my appetite. After I had to pass Cam slices of banana as he lay passed out on a couch in the mountainside lodge. An hour after, I had my husband back to help out with diapers and dinner. Life, once again, became a little easier!
The couch Cam slept on for about 1 hour after I saw him.

Etta crawling and walking all over her exhausted father. 

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