On Sunday, February 24th I ran the Fort-2-Fort 30K trail race from Derby Reach Park in Langley. A couple of family members, Bill and Merilyn (the parents of my cousin Rob's wife, Mary Ann), came there to see me off, and said they'd go for breakfast and be back to see me finish.
Our race was scheduled for 8 AM, but we started off a few minutes late after the race marshall filled us in on the course directions. We headed down a path to a road, and then ran along it, passing barns with the strong smell of cow manure emanating from them. As we passed the 1K mark a fellow went by me, and I glanced at my watch and it said "lap 1: 4:26. I told that to the guy running in front of me, and he said he had about the same thing on his. I ran with him for awhile, and he told me he was hoping to keep up this pace and finish in 2 hrs., 15 mins., as he was training for a 50K race in a couple of weeks. I told him I'd be ecstatic if I could finish in 2 and a half hours, but right now I was cruising along with no trouble at his pace. Like I told him, so far so good, but we'd run less than 2 Ks, a long way to go yet!
We were directed to run across a path through a large field, and then headed into the woods, where some of the runners were already coming back by us, having hit the turnaround up ahead. One of these was Marc Fontaine from my club, and we exchanged greetings as we passed each other. A bunch of us came up to the turnaround at once, and the fellow in front slipped in the mud going around the orange cone and almost wiped out. The next guy yelled out "Dangerous turn!", and the rest of us went around it gingerly and headed back down the path and into the field again.
I'd actually gone ahead of the guy I'd been talking to earlier, but now he and a couple of other guys passed me, chatting away as they did so. After we hit the road and approached the barns again, there was a sign facing us with a picture of a cartoon cow's head on it, and it said "COW MANURE CAFE" on it. I assume this meant that there was actually a coffee shop somewhere amongst the barns, although I didn't see it.
Soon we left the road and headed back past the starting point. The 5Kers were starting their race at 9 so most of them were already there cheering us on as we went by. I saw Murray, Kevin and Rob Daniel among the spectators, and they all yelled encouragement at me as I ran by them, still in pretty good form this early in the race.
We were directed into the woods and onto the Houston Trail, where I soon encountered THE HILL, which being very steep slowed me considerably, and for the first time today I felt some soreness in my legs. This was the worst of them, but there were quite a few more ups and downs before we exited the trail to run along a road. We hit the town of Fort Langley and went over a bridge, and then into the woods again, running along on a wide path. My legs had started to ache and feel heavy at about the 15K mark, and as we passed the 20K mark here they felt like lead.
I'm currently reading a book by Jeff Galloway called Running Until You're 100, and he advocates a run/walk approach for older runners, so I thought I'd try it out. So I walked for a minute, but the only problem was I now had trouble running for more than half a kilometer before I had to walk again.
I'd had 2 GU gel packs in my shorts pocket, and I'd ingested one of these earlier, but when I went to get the other one I discovered my pocket was open and it was gone. Thankfully my car keys hadn't fallen out with it, that would have sucked! Luckily we went by an aid station that had food at it, and I grabbed a small chocolate chip cookie and a few gummy bears. We did a loop through a field and along a road, and ended up going by the aid station again, and I grabbed the same thing as the first time, and was sent on my way, heading home!
I reached the bridge again and went over it, and then past the Fort Langley buildings, having to walk again here for a bit. So I ran/walked the last 10Ks of the race, the most I ran being 3/4s of a kilometer, and sometimes only 300 meters or so. People occasionally passed me, but there was still the odd person coming at me going the other way too!
With just over a kilometer to go another fellow passed me, and I wanted to make it the last one if I could. We hit the woods, and I actually was able to keep running for most of the way in, albeit very slowly. Finally I hit the open and the volunteers were waiting, hollering "Almost there!", and there was Marilyn who yelled "Great run Gord!", and Bill too, and I managed to weakly wave to them. There would be no finish line sprint today, even with all the people cheering me on as I came in, but I did manage to keep running until I was over the line, and I heard the timer yell out 2:47:11!
It had been the most difficult race I'd ever run. I'd run well over 30 Ks on my training runs leading up to the race, plus many times before that, but when I was supposed to be tapering for this race I was running the Bagel Chase, and it all caught up to me! Still, I'd finished, and ironically still pretty close to what I thought I might run today worst case anyway. 30 Ks is a long way to travel by foot, and I'd kept going until I was finished, my longest race so far! Next time I have the opportunity to brag about how much I've improved. It was a good learning experience, and in spite of everything also a rewarding and memorable experience overall, so it's all good. Bill and Merilyn came and congratulated me on my run, which made me feel great. Thanks you two! They headed home to warm up and dry off and let me refuel, and I did just that.
They had whole grain and sourdough buns, with Nutella, peanut butter, marmalade and jam to spread on them, and I ended up eating 4 of them before I was done, and the coffee tasted great. Marc and Elsie Fontaine came up, he'd finished quite awhile ago but waited for me to come in. I told them what happened, and Elsie told me I'd done very well finishing, which was the important thing, with Marc agreeing. Elsie had been standing out in the cold and rain for hours, so it time for them to leave too, but it was great of them to wait for me. Murray had finished the 5K about an hour and a half ago and he too stayed until I came in.
Mark Hyder had passed me with a couple of kilometers to go, and noticed I was struggling. I told them about my ordeal, and asked Murray how he did in the 5K. He'd run well but his shoelace had come untied and he had to stop and tie it, so that cost him some time.
The weather was still crappy, and we were all a bit tired and had a ways to drive home, so we said our goodbyes and headed for home. I'd brought my camera, especially to get a photo with Merilyn and Bill, but had forgotten all about it, so no pictures this time.
Results are up, and Marc won our age group handily in a time of 2:19:58, and was 10th of 43 overall. I did my part by "anchoring" our age group (hey, somebody's gotta do it, and it was my turn!), 7 of 7 and 30th overall, with the aforementioned time of 2:47:11. Murray was 2nd of 8 in his AG in the 5K, and 13 of 107 overall, stopping the clock at 20:53.
Here's the race director's report for some additional context:
My next race, if I'm recovered enough, is the Dave Reed Classic 5K, this Saturday, March 2nd at 9 AM. It's put on by Drew's club, VFAC, and starts and finishes at Lumberman's Arch in Stanley Park.