Monday, August 22, 2011

Tick tock goes the clock

When I signed up for the Lost Soul Ultra, it was January, cold and September 9 seemed a lifetime away. Then I blinked, turned around and looked on the countdown clock on my desktop and September 9 is 17 days away! WTF happened to the last 9 months??

This morning I sat in front of my computer, staring at that clock, ticking away.. cold sweat appearing in the palms of my hands and a heart rate that was climbing steadily. OK... breathe in.. breathe out.. sip coffee and STOP looking at that clock! 

I think I have trained enough, no I KNOW I have. I remember in the first months googling 'ultra-marathon', ultra training, ultra everything. Reading everything, creating little folders in my favorites, filing, sorting, starting lists of things to do, buy (whoever said running is great because all you need is a pair of shoes, should have a serious reality check by the way), and lists of things to ask or google some more. 

Find an easy first ultra I read... hmmm.. The Lost Soul Ultra is said to be 'the toughest race on the prairies'. Comparing times of ultra runners that have ran this one and for instance the Canadian Death Race or Sinister 7, it IS harder than any of those. 

Find a fast flat ultra I read... ok.. Average time to finish the 100k is 20 hours,... meh.. didn't Einstein say time is relative anyway? 
How about flat?.. The ultra takes place in the coulees of Lethbridge and for those of you that aren't familiar with coulee: "Coulees are commonly canyons characterized by steep walls that have been shaped by erosion. These types of coulees are generally found in the north-western United States and south-western Canada."

A training buddy and experienced LSU runner said the following about the course:
53.37 km per loop with 1850 m of climbing that is 6069 ft of up per loop. With 28 climbs per loop and lots of little ups & downs I think 6000 feet of gain is reasonable. This course is hard because it has all these little up not because of big climbs.

I'm going to do 2 of those loops.

Choose an ultra and train on similar terrain I read... I got this one! I choose the LSU because it's in Lethbridge, where I live so since March I have been training on the course. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to hook up with quite a few experienced LSU runners that gave me a ton of information and tips about running ultra's in general and running this one in specific. In return I gave them the joy of having to wait for me to stumble down the coulees or grunt up the hills. They would bear with me and encourage me:
"Just think it's flat Karin" one said as he peered over the edge to watch me pull myself up on the weeds. 
"Just let gravity take over, you'll be fine" the other said as I came to a screeching halt in front of a drop off that had a narrow-just about vertical- deer path going down about 100 ft with at the bottom a steep turn to the right (failing to take this turn will result in another 50 feet fall into the Old Man River) He could hardly contain his snickering as I screamed down the hill narrowly making the turn at the end.

My husband shakes his head every time after I come home muddy, with scrapes and bruises and stories about free falls, snakes and relieving myself in bushes.
My own mother thinks I've gone off the deep end and I wouldn't be surprised if those two have had meetings about the possible necessity of an Intervention.
My 9 year old confessed she is scared I am going to get hurt and my 22-yr old told me I am nuts.

Other than that they are all extremely supportive, which is great, because I love it. I love the trails, I love the hills, I love the ultra stories and community. I want to reserve judgement on whether I love the actual ultra until I have done one but so far..I love everything about it... except for the damn countdown clock on my desktop.. 17 days, 10 hours, 27 minutes, 30, 29,28..



  1. Excellent post Karin! You are too funny! I can't wait to read your race report about your uber successful ultra in 17 days, 4 hours, 2 ..... Lol!

  2. So excited for you! I can't wait for your race report and to read the excitement in your words after your successful completion.

  3. Yep Karin toooo funny but got to admit im with your oldest your NUTS for sure, but I admire you all the same

  4. I would agree with you being nuts. But in a really bad-a**, inspirational kind of way. :)

    This challenge you've set up for yourself is huge, and yet you've broken it down, step by step, and conquered it -- and had FUN while doing it!!! What an amazing example you are for your kids... and others!