Special to the Record
The night before I was to run 80 kilometres, non stop, for the first time in my life, I ordered a piece of thick New York strawberry cheesecake from the Elk Lake Restaurant in Victoria. I would need the extra carbohydrates.
I felt excited, and nervous, going over a check list in my mind, making sure I had the things I needed to be able to finish the 26th annual Island Runners-Elk Beaver Ultra.
My training was sufficient. I had spent 16 weeks in preparation, putting in the long runs on the weekend to build up the required base to attempt a 50-miler. My left knee had developed some inflammation problems midway through the training, and it had healed. I hoped that it wouldn’t flare up again during the race.
Wearing my Team World Vision jersey, I joined 50 other runners at the 6 a.m. start. From the northern park on Elk Lake we followed a 10 km, mostly flat, circular route counter clockwise that wound through woods and fields along the water’s edge. I was to run this circuit eight times to complete the 50 miles. The path was still open to the public so as the day warmed we met up with local joggers, walkers and even some people on horseback.
With fresh legs I ran the first 30 km in three hours. I thought since it would be cooler earlier in the day I would try to bank as many kilometres as I comfortably could.
The day did heat up around 11 a.m. and I wasn’t prepared for it. When I headed out to tackle the 50 km loop I didn’t bring enough with me to stay hydrated. My muscles began to cramp. I had thoughts of dropping out, giving it serious consideration as my run turned into a shuffle as I headed towards the check-in point back at Elk Lake to my aid station.
A voice in my head told me to take some salt tablets and extra water first, before making a final decision to stop. I did that, and felt well enough to start off on the sixth loop, munching a Snickers bar. Within 10 minutes I was back running again at a pace that helped me make up for lost time.
With three kilometres to go I whispered a prayer to finish in 10:55. A surge of energy came over me in the last half kilometre and I ran faster than I had in hours. As I rounded the corner heading toward the official timer’s desk for the last time the digital clock read 10:55. Finishing a race never felt so good. I was surprised to find out that I placed second in the Men’s Masters.
A tired but happy Rob Sargeant blogged this after completing the gruelling ultra May 11 in Victoria.