08/16/2014 – Squamish 50M – Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
The race report in 32 short descriptions: Oceanfront start, railroad flat, headlamps on, sweaty humid, Garibaldi aid, still lakes, buttery trail, here we go, short and steep, bike rollers, technical downhill, Galactic Scheisse, fogged in vista, Word of Mouth, somehow still going downhill, Quest University, gnome tree, switchback uphills, hunting rabbits, sit-down on trail leg cramps, hydrate more, is that chafing?, run tentative, oh my, yes, that’s chafing, Mamquam Falls, only 10k left!, renewed energy, Mountain of Phlegm, stairs – seriously?, rock climbers, finally flat, downtown finish! 50 miles. 11,000 feet of vert. The Squamish 50.
For reference, here’s my version of the sourced and compiled 2014 Squamish 50 race preview and the 2014 Squamish 50 results – top half of the middle of the pack. Could be worse considering I probably walked 10 miles.
If you’re looking for The Race Video Recap, scroll all the way down to the bottom.
Seventh event of the year and 5 weeks removed from my last race, there is no training to be done. Five weeks between 50 milers doesn’t allow someone like me with my breadth of base enough time to properly recover, train, and taper. What it did allow me to do though is (involuntarily) not run for one week (week 1 – recover), put in a 30 mile week (week 2 – train), a 40 mile week (week 3 – train), a 20 mile week (week 4 – taper), and then 3 miles the week of before the race. It was not the perfect training cycle, it was not going to get me high up in the results, and it was not going to get me my best time, but it was going to get me to the finish line and that’s enough, because that’s pretty much always my A goal for any race.
Squamish is according to Google Maps, 3 hours and 15 minutes north of home in Seattle, Washington, but border traffic will add upwards of an hour if you’re passing through on the beginning or end of a weekend afternoon, which of course we were. Between foreign travel (heh) and rush hour traffic in both Seattle and Vancouver, it took far too long to get to find our way through Vancouver along the breathtaking Sea to Sky Highway to Squamish, packet pick-up, and finally to our campsite.
The Packet Pick-up
This is easy when you roll in to pick up your bib five minutes before the posted packet pick-up time is set to end, everyone is already halfway packed and ready to leave and there is no line to be seen. The Executive Inn & Suites a five minute drive north of downtown Squamish just a half mile down a side road although finding it was not hard as Squamish really isn’t a big city.
“Here’s your bib, number 1016.”
“Really? You must be fast.”
(Doubt sets in.) “Nope!”
“OK, well good luck tomorrow!”
And with only a handful of sentences, we were in and out in under 5 minutes and off to our campsite for a short night of sleep and an early next morning.
For as long as I ran, both distance and time, you’d think I would remember more than I do a month later. So looking back through the very few photos that I took and the video recap that I made there are a few small things which come back to mind such as a fleeting moments on a few of the trails, a bring me to the ground quad cramps, and coming in and out of aid stations, but mostly just a few big things dominate my recollection of the better part of almost 12 hours: humidity and major chaffing.
The race started at the far southern tip of downtown Squamish on the oceanfront at 5:30am in the pitch black dark. We parked and like moths drawn toward a flame we migrated toward the flood lights and thumping morning DJ music, which was actually kind of great. The Race Director, Gary, wasted no time with the brief pre-race briefing and with only 60 seconds to spare, everyone shuffled to the blown up balloon starting line arch.
The sound system and countdown was muffled by the chatter of runners wishing each other good luck, but the stifled start was immediately underway when everyone watching started yelling, “Go! Go! Go!” And we were off.
After this, I have only fleeting memories:
- Except for one super short steep hill, the first 5 miles or so are all pancake flat.
- I’m pretty sure there was one super short steep hill that was so steep that I was using tree trunks and limbs to help pull myself up.
- There was a guy at Aid Station 1 wearing a full skintight onesie that was printed to look like a tuxedo. That was alarming at 6:30am.
- A family with two small children giving everyone high fives while running through Garibaldi Highlands.
- Not knowing if my clothes were wet because I was sweating or if it was the humidity. The humidity would later be my downfall.
- Running with a woman from Vancouver as we were passing Alex Varner walking back toward us just after Aid Station 2 – Alice Lake, and wondering why. Turns out he was hurt. The woman, who’s name I can’t remember, had been injured and and not run for the entire month (or two?) before the race. And this was her first 50 miler. But she had qualified for the Boston Marathon multiple times so she didn’t seem too worried about it. I saw her the next day. She had finished her first 50 mile race.
- Dead End Loop and the power lines.
- The first steep, but short, hill – Made in the Shade trail.
- The fun downhill mountain bike trail rollers which banks around corners which made me feel like I was running far faster than I probably was. It’s also the most exposed with no cover and under power lines.
- The first of many raised wood plank single track trail trails which are really fun and unique to run on and over.
- The most technical steep decent of Entrails trail. My most favorite part of the entire 50 miles.
- Plastic Scheisse and Galactic Scheisse was long and decidedly uphill the entire way. The fog was the most intense here and everything turned a monochrome (tri-chrome?) shade of black and gray and white.
- Word of Mouth trail. I don’t remember anything about the trail, just seeing the trail sign.
- Aid Station 5 – Qwest University, had the most spectators, supporters, and volunteers. Some incredibly nice volunteer dumped a bucketful of cold water on my head and it was amazing.
- A tree stump which looked like a gigantic gnome and had lots of little gnome figures that people had left on it.
- Switchbacks and seeing mountain bikers flying toward us, jumping off to the side of the trail and thinking they were going to hit me before realizing they were on an adjacent parallel trail.
- Chasing rabbits up hills.
- Cramping so bad in both of my quads that I had to sit down and massage them. Thought briefly of dropping at the next aid station, assuming I could make it to the next aid station. After a few panicked moments, the cramping subsided and I gingerly made it to the next aid station before reassessing and guzzling any cups of water before deciding to soldier on tentatively for the rest of the race.
- Chafing really started to affect me around mile 38(?) My guess is the humidity and sweat had combined to wash away the lubricant I had put on before the race. I tried desperately to put on additional lubricant to ease the pain, but the only thing it did was make everything even more sensitive. It went from mild irritation, to hot, to literally burning, to numb. Numbness down there is never a good thing. It was horrible. I was reduced to an awkward cowboy shuffle after a long horse ride for the better part of almost 8 miles.
- Being oh so happy to be at the last Aid Station about 6 miles out from the finish and thinking, if I’ve come this far with this much pain, I might as well keep going and getting a second wind.
- Intermittent cramping started to come back again.
- Mountain of Phlegm was the last and steepest hill. 40-45 degree slope?
- Downhill stairs at mile 48 was surprisingly hard.
- Running by rock climbers.
- The last mile is completely flat and partially along a road.
- Finish line chute with cheering people and being given a finisher’s medal.
Veggie burger and a tasty cold adult beverage is a pretty good prize for finishing 50 miles. We watched a few more runners come in and then left to shower up, get a proper dinner and then to the campsite where I basically slept in a pant’s full of lotion. I thought I’d had an accident in the middle of the night when I woke up, but no, it was just lotion. No foot problems and the minimalist of a blister. Back to running a few days later.
Lessons (Re)-Learned. What went well? What could be better?
- When it’s humid out, make sure I have enough lubricant on. It will start to wear off before the race is over. Take care of this before you start to notice it. Once it’s started, it’s too late.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Then hydrate some more. Take care of this early and often. If I don’t, I’ll cramp and then the rest of the race won’t be as much fun as it could be.
- I don’t need hiking poles to be able to run 11,000 feet of vertical gain.
- It’s ok to sit down for a few moments if I’m cramping to make sure I’m ok.
- Don’t drop when you want to. Go to the next aid station and reassess.
- Practice running with a headlamp before you run with a headlamp.
- When everyone around you is wearing a headlamp and have it turned on, I may not need to turn mine on. There’s plenty of light to go around.
- Squamish is beautiful. I wish it were closer to Seattle. Or I could move there.
Final Race Goals Recap and What’s Next?
I had five main goals for this race…
1. Make it to the Start Line.
2. Take it easy. 11,000 feet is a long ways up…and down.
3. Look around. It’s going to be beautiful. I already know this, but yet I already know I’ll still be blown away.
4. Make it to the Finish Line. In one piece. On my own power.
5. Thank every volunteer. Breathe. Smile. Smile again.
Goal #1 – Completed in the dark.
Goal #2 – Chaffing makes you walk a lot, which makes you go easy.
Goal #3 – It was beautiful although it wasn’t until mile 40 when the sun finally came out to play.
Goal #4 – Completed! Slower than I wanted, but faster than I thought.
Goal #5 – I thanked every volunteer. I breathed (in pain more than I wanted to). I smiled. Then I grimaced. Then I smiled again. Then I grimaced and that’s when they took my photo.
Next up is the Cutthroat Classic in the North Cascades!
- Arcteryx Motus Crew Shirt short sleeve
- Arm sleeves (from the Bryce Canyon 50k)
- The North Face Long Haul shorts
- Bandana (from an outfitters store in Portland)
- Visor (from an outfitters store in Zion National Park)
- XCCU Unisex Experia Multi-Activity micro mini crew with COOLMAX fiber
- Hoka One One Stinson Trail shoes with quicklaces
- Salomon Skin Pro 10+3 Set pack with 1.5L bladder
- Suunto Ambit 2S
- Garmin ANT+ Heartrate belt
- Petzl Tikka RXP headlamp
- Sony HDR-AS15 Action Cam with waterproof housing
- Vaseline – 2 oz tube – lubricant for legs and armpits
- Athletic tape – two 1″ pieces – one for each nipple, one 3″ piece – center of chest underneath heart rate monitor, one 3″ piece – small of back where pack rubs.
- (Phone, insurance card, credit cards, and license in a zip lock bag – in case I get hurt, can’t talk and need to be identified)
Fuel used – (not consumed in parenthesis) Pre-race:
- Banana – two x 105 = 210 calories total
- Kroger brand Hazelnut Spread with Chocolate – 2 tbsp – 160 calories
- NUUN Active Hydration Tablets – 10 oz – ~5 calories
- VFuel Gel – single serving – two vanilla, three maple bacon and one fudge brownie – 100 calories each – total 600 calories
- Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter – 11.5oz squeeze pack – 180 calories
- Hammer Nutrition Energy Gel – single serving – one apple cinnamon and one vanilla – 90 calories each – total 180 calories
- Huma Chia Energy Gel – single serving – Apple & Cinnamon – 100 calories
- Honey Stinger Energy Waffle – 1 honey – 160 calories (1 chocolate and 1 vanilla not consumed.)
- Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem Drink Mix – one single serving mixed before and drank during race – 50 oz – 130 calories
- Skratch Lab Drink Mix – lemons and limes – 100 oz – five x 20 calories per serving = 100 calories total
- Aid station electrolyte – GU Brew – 150 oz – ~525 calories
- SaltStick Plus Electrolyte Salt Capsules – consumed 30 (brought 40) – 0 calories
- Banana – two x 100 = 200 calories total
- Watermelon – two slices – 90 calories each – total 180 calories
- Potato chips 4 handfulls ~600 calories
- Coke – 7 small dixie cups ~140 calories
- Veggie burger, bun, lettuce, tomato, a few chips – 100+100+5+5+40 = 250 calories
- Cold tasty beverage ~150 calories
- Calories burned ~5,234
- Calories consumed pre-race ~375
- Calories consumed during race ~2995
- Calories consumed post race ~400
- Average heartrate – 143
- Max heartrate – 166
- Time in heartrate zone 1 and 2 – 2:11
- Time in heartrate zone 3 – 5:49
- Time in heartrate zone 4 – 3:52
- Time in heartrate zone 5 – 0:00
The Race Video Recap