Monday, September 9, 2013

Mt Robson Marathon

If you live in my area (Alberta), you’ve got to visit Mt Robson, Canada’s highest mountain. It absolutely towers over all. It’s an amazingly beautiful site. I was so stoked to do the 46km Mt Robson Marathon after one glimpse of that monolith (though when racing I rarely gaze upward). We made it a family affair with Deb and Anna doing the 12.5km and Kjirsti the 3km). All placed but me. But get this... 4 out of the top 10 were in my 50-59 age group. At first I thought it was a mistake, but realized those 2 places I surrendered in the final 1.5km cost me a travel mug. O well, as a family we got 2, that’s enough to clutter our cupboard.

The first half of the race for me was really enjoyable. Incredible location, wonderful trail, stellar weather. I felt really good. It was a pretty decent pace the entire first 23km, but felt extremely manageable. My h.r. monitor confirmed this. For much of that first ½ I was just behind a pack of 6 runners. Once we hit the 4km (500+m vert) uphill, I easily passed them all. Most of my trail running has been going up mountains and I crushed the pack with ease.

At the turn around I was in 10th at 2:05. I didn’t go in w/ any goals, but at that point decided that a top 10 in under 4 hours would be a worthy goal to shoot for.

But very quickly things began to change. In the rocky section along Berg Lake I tripped and took a rolling tumble. This is where I noticed my first calf cramp. Soon after this, I took tumble #2- rolled again (gaining some applause) but really hurt my bad shoulder. On this tumble I felt several more leg cramps...not good.

At the 4km downhill, I wanted to rock, but every sideways motion of my legs initiated cramps, so I took this section real slow getting passed twice- my first "chicked"-the women’s winner and another guy that I later reeled in later as his cramping was worse than mine.

I was a bummer as my energy was good, legs felt fine except for these pesky cramps. I had some pickle juice waiting for me w/ 10km to go, but I needed it much earlier. It didn’t really work anyway, not like the last time it totally shut down all my cramping in the 2011 Ironman Canada. So the last 20km or so were mostly cramp management. I had to totally stop on 3 occaisions and mostly slowed way down.

My down time ended up being almost exactly the same as my up time. When you consider that we gained 850m you realize how slow I truly was coming down.

Surprisingly I didn’t get passed that much. I was waiting for a stream of people to get me. I actually passed a couple guys that died worse than me. Although w/ that 1.5 km to go I was "chicked" for the 2nd time. On the final 2km road section I didn’t have to pick up my legs as far, so I could pick up my speed a bit without the dreaded cramps, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the 2 that went flying by.

So I ended up 12th overall in 4:09. I guess it’s ok. I had no expectations. It was my first true trail marathon (not including the Footstock marathon-which I won- in 2006 that was mostly on dirt roads). The longer distance probably added a good :20 and the 4km hike section definitely slows one down.

As I write this 2 days later I realize how different a trail marathon is. I'm a little sore (especially my right foot from hitting a rock hard that caused crash #3), but not really that bad. A road marathon would have me hobbling around for several days. That's even considering I used a somewhat minimalist shoe (which may have been a mistake). Although my fatigue level is still pretty high. I'll go for easy bike rides the next couple days.

In contrast, my friend Reiner, 2 years ago came in 2nd in the marathon, then because the conditions offered a great window, climbed Robson that afternoon and skied down (normally a 2-3 day  adventure). Crazy.

Next up is the Grizzly ultra 50km in Canmore in a month. Plenty of time to recover and hopefully make some adjustments.


Eric said...

Nice work Steve. I've done the Mt. Robson run a few times (not racing). It is a beautiful spot. Small geographical correction, Mt. Logan is the highest peak in Canada. Mt. Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Logan towers over it at 2005m higher (5959 for Logan and 3954 for Robson).

I will forgive you being an American and all :) You guys still own the highest peak, McKinley

Good luck in the upcoming races


brian p. harder said...

Pickle juice? Really? This simply feeds the notion that leg cramps have something to do with nutrition, which is likely not the case, given all that Tim Noakes has researched lately. More miles at race intensity will likely take care of those pesky cramps. Nice effort, though.