|photo by Jamil Coury|
What a success!! We raised $13,000 for Care for Rare and I stumbled upon the best running moments I’ve ever had even after realizing my race goal was well out of reach.
Like most ultra marathons the race began well after the initial gun. At the 100K mark on this looping, flat, one mile course I felt comfortable and in control. My watch showed 9hrs25min and already the sun had gone down in the desert; a quick change into warmer clothes I was off to run another lap.
My goal going into this race was a bloody lofty one, it was to break the Canadian 48 and 72 hour records. To do so I’d have to run over 500K but I felt this number was well within reach. My wife Sharon and brother Dan tag teamed crewing responsibilities which kept me rolling along, well fuelled and motivated along the way. In the middle of the night I surpassed the 100M mark in 16hrs35min. At this point I was right on pace and found the effort was that of a “controlled effort” much the same as marathon runners don’t want to overextend themselves in the first 10K of the race. At 2:00am I found myself oddly sleepy so I decided to take an early one hour nap to get ahead of my sleep. This was the first time I had ever slept in an event and to be honest it went horribly. I was cold, legs were shaky, and my mind would not shut off! I spent the next hour half praying to fall asleep and the other half pissed off to hell that I was wasting my time lying down when I could be out there running. When getting up from my nap I was alarmed by how quickly the running felt comfortable again and within 30-60 seconds I was back up to my regular 6 min/km pace. The rest of the morning went very well as I allowed the natural slope to continue eating away at my pace but at this point I wanted to run by feel permitting a forever pace with no effort expended. If the effort heightened, the pace decreased, its really that simple.
|Dan, Laura, me, Randy(dad), Nancy(mom), Sam, Adele, Julia, and Sharon|
The month prior to the race I was dealing with a minor left medial knee issue and as the first day came to a close I was content that the pain and discomfort stayed at bay, the niggle was there every step but never seemed to get worse throughout the day. Nine AM rolled around drawing a close to the first day and I was right on pace. Day one I ran 130 miles or 210K. My kids and parents showed up at 11:00am and that brought a beaming smile to my withering face. I really looked forward to making my way back after every loop to see their beautiful faces but an hour later my eye lids drooped and I felt I needed another nap since I got next to nothing for sleep the previous night. Again I roll into the tent for a one hour nap and like before it was another wasted mess of an hour stressing that my mind would not rest, thinking that slumber was a minute away but an hour passed and still no sleep. I knew this would all catch up with me sooner than later and as I left the tent I was red in the face knowing that I wasted yet another hour with nothing to show for it. The next 5 hours flew by running my new 6:30-7 min/km pace, fuelling very well and feeling in control. I couldn’t wrap my head around the growing problem of sleep deprivation running and the unfortunate timing of finding out that this might be my new nemesis. Our friends and fellow runners Lisa Miller and Al Wong suggested I sleep in their EuroVan where it was warmer and quieter. At 5pm I laid my head for what I hoped would be a successful and much needed rest. I ran out from that van only an hour later wanting so bad to drop kick a palm tree;AGAIN I got no sleep! Filled to the brim with anger and anchored by disappointment I ran on.
|me and Sharon|
Around 8pm day two, 35 hours into the race I stopped for 5-10 seconds to grab some food. About 10 strides away from the tent I felt a nasty stab in my inner right knee. There was a building tightness the past 6-8 hours but I didn’t think much of it, that is until it stopped me dead in my tracks. I walked back to the tent and immediately started rolling it out hoping it would help but knew it wouldn’t. I made my way to the medical tent and already noticed the swelling building in in my knee. I laid down for one hour with my knee elevated with an ice compress. Sadly, now that it didn’t really matter, I slept like a baby. I awoke an hour later and the inflammation was worse then before. Standing up, hardly able to bend my knee, knowing that the record was now out of grasp, Sharon, Dan and I drove back to the house to spend a night in a comfortable bed. I awoke the next morning with a big breakfast with the kids. To my surprise the feelings of disappointment didn’t overwhelm me, in fact the joy of having all my family there was just what the doctor ordered. I spent time walking back and forth between the hot tub and the cold pool and that did the trick to knock off enough inflammation to get me excited to get back to the track to loop the course a few times with my family. You see, before when my goal was to break the record I was told I wasn’t allowed to run/walk the course with my kids as they would act the part of a pacer thus disqualifying me. Now with the record out of hand pacing was fair game.
When I returned to the course I slowly walked hand in hand with each of my kids, my parents, my brother, sister-in-law, and Sharon. After completing these laps both Sam and Julia wanted to do another loop and even with my knee aching how do you say no? We were like an army, all wearing our Care for Rare t-shirts all marching for the cause. My kids experiencing the sport that I love and gathering invaluable one-on-one experiences as we walked the course with all members of my family. Now those are memories worth holding on to. We left the course for dinner at the house and had some fun with the kids before putting the younger two down to bed. Afterwards my dad, brother, and I took to the hot tub. Once again the contrast bathing between the pool and hot tub did the trick and I felt like I could walk some more laps. My brother and dad informed me that I was still in first place and if I returned to the course and walked another hour or two that might just be enough to take home the
|Dad and me|
win. To be honest I wasn’t too motivated at this point to go after the win, my goal was to break the Canadian records and it seemed almost rude to all the strong runners still out there to go back to aimlessly walk a few extra miles to push the lead further out of there grasp. Before going back to the track Julia (age 9) urged me to go back and fight for first place and in fact she would walk with me every step if need be to get me there. With such persistence coming from a nine year old how could you possibly deny her of this opportunity. So at 10pm New Year’s Eve we arrived at the course and I walked hand-in-hand with Julia. The clock struck midnight ringing in a new year. I celebrated with Sharon, Julia, and Dan and just kept on walking. My knee started buckling around 1am and that’s when I called it quits. My total mileage was 202 miles. I returned to the course at 10am the next morning to find out a lady by the name of Jill Hudson surpassed me by logging 205 miles but my 202 was good for first place men’s.
Thanks to Aravaipa Running for putting on a world class event, to all my sponsors: New Balance, Gords Running Store, Thoz Barz, and RE7, but mostly to the love of my life Sharon Proctor for your unwavering support and relentless enthusiasm. You rock babe!
A massive thanks goes out to everyone that supported the Care for Rare cause. Raising a child with an undiagnosed rare disease has its challenges but knowing that we have a whole amazing community of supporters backing us along the way is a pretty stellar feeling. Your donations will go a long way to supporting families steer their way through the diagnostic abyss.
Lots of love.