Bromont 100 October 8th, 2016: Race Report
The night before the race I was feeling pretty calm and relaxed. I got to bed relatively early around 9pm and got more sleep than expected waking up around 4am. I had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast around 4:30. Feeling relaxed and calm. The forecast showed a cool morning around 10 degrees with a chance of rain.
We left for the course around 6:30am, and I had plenty of time before the race started at 7:30. I went to the start line for the pre-race meeting and really wish that it would have been in both English and French because I didn’t understand any of it. Lucky for me my crew was bilingual and told me to follow the pink flags. I was expecting dark blue from the runners guide so it was a good thing they told me.
The race started with a slight up hill and then a very gradual decent before you get to the mountain. The first climb up the mountain was pretty steep single track. The trail was beautiful but challenging. I took the climb very easy and seemed to be climbing strong and other around me seemed to be working harder going up this climb. This climb seemed to go on longer than I expected it to but we eventually made it to the top and were greeted to some great views. The first decent I felt as though I was still running easy, the trail was less technical on the way down but could have been quite easy to get carried away and run down too fast. The trail/ski slopes were hard packed and it would take a toll on the legs.
Arriving at the first aid station I did not stop to fill my bottles as there was only 5 k to go until the next stop. At this point I was using one bottle with 2 scoops of carbs/electrolytes, one bottle of water, eating fig cookies and supplement electrolytes with a nuun tab at aid stations.
Shortly after leaving this minor aid station we were heading back up the mountain on Lt. Dan’s Climb. I had seen this climb in the youtube video of the race and new it was steep, but it did not do it justice. This climb was steep and technical and had many sections with ropes to help you climb up. I used my poles and took my time. It was much quicker up the mountain this time. Again the decent was hard packed mountain bike trails steep in sections. Easy to get carried away running down the hills. In this first section of the course we were sharing the tails with mountain bikes and often had to jump off the trail to get out of the way. I was feeling good and happy to see my crew when we got to the P5 aid station , drank my nuun, and had a piece of veggie sushi. I did not spend much time here and I was on my way again.
Leaving P5, the 15k to Rue Baird aid station was wide rolling trail/gravel road. This was a great section to make up some time. I was running in a group of 4, we were chatting and having a great time. We did get to a section of trail that was not marked well, back tracked a bit but determined that were on the right track and eventually found more flags. Running strong and within my means. Coming through Rue baird I toped up my water. We were now back into a technical section with some steep climbs. This section of the course you travel through a maple syrup farm while ascending a steep technical climb up mt. pims and a steep decent down some dirt roads (very scenic) into chez bob 41k.
Taking a bit more time at this aid station, I ate one piece of sushi and drank some nuun. I was feeling I may have eaten too much at this point as I had eaten a full fig bar and a full bottle of electrolytes and carbs between the last major station (400 calories). We left the aid station and no I was only running with one other, Karine. We were running strong together and I was feeling good.
The next section to Lac Bromont is Dirt roads and asphalt (roughly 5k). We ran this section relatively fast between 6min/6:30 min per km. It felt easy but the hard surfaces were taking a bit of a toll on my feet. I was running in Altra Superiors at this point. I saw my crew at this aid station and although it is was only a minor aid station I let them know that my feet were feeling a bit beat up. It was another 5k until I would have a chance to do anything about it, but all in all my body was still holding up well. Still running with Karine we made quick work of this 5k section and before I knew it I was at the next aid station.
Seeing my crew at the P7 station was great. They had everything I could have wanted. I had almost forgot about my feet when they reminded me that the longest stretch of the course was coming up and I should probably change my shoes if my feet were still hurting. Agreeing, I changed into my lone peaks. I ate some veggie sushie and chugged down some water mixed with Nuun and we were back on the trail again, It was still just me and Karine but we were told that we were gaining ground on some people a head of us.
This stretch of trail between P7 and Lac Gale was absolutely brutal. Steep technical climbs and descents and to make matters worse it at started to rain. All I had in my pack was my light weight wind breaker but it was going to have to do. It was not going to keep me dry but it would help hold some heat in. Things were getting real tough. The rain was turning these steep technical climbs and descents very slippery. I think this is where things started to take a turn for the worse. My stomach was starting to turn and I was no longer taking in the carbs and electrolytes I had mixed in my bottle, I was just drinking plain water. In hopes of calming things down, I tried a few ginger chews which seemed to be helping, but little did I know things were going to get much worse.
I was now having to use caution and slow down on the downhills not to slip. My right IT band was starting to get cranky as a result. 60k in it was too early for this to be happening. I mindfully kept going forward still keeping up with Karine but perhaps I should have slowed down some to help my stomach and my IT problems. Lucky for me someone had set up a surprise aid station partway through this section and I was able to refill my bottle with some water. Under normal circumstance 2- 24 oz bottles would have been plenty to get me 17k, but I had mixed one bottle with carbs/electrolytes and I could not drink it because of my stomach, so I was down to just the one bottle of plain water, and I had been rationing it to try and make last for the whole 17k stretch. I was wet, but not cold, my windbreaker was doing a decent job holding the heat in, but I could not stop fretting about my IT, it was not getting worse, but it was still hurting none the less.
Another fail on my part, I was moving slower than anticipated during this stretch and it was starting to get dark and I did not have my headlamp!!! Not good. Again probably going faster than I should have been to try and make it to Lac Gale (65k before dark). It was getting pretty hard to see, but we made it pretty much just in the nick of time. Still in decent spirits I rolled out my right quad, and IT band to try and help with the pain, and put some Arnica cream (anti-inflammatory) on it as well. I did not eat much here because of my stomach issues. My body was starting to get really coId so changed out of my wet shirt and put on a few layers under my waterproof jacket.
Heading out again with Karine. It was not long before I had regretted how many layers I put on and had to stop to take some off. Karine kept on going without me which was probably for the best as I should have been going a bit slower. All alone in the dark. This actually did not bother me as much as I though it was going to. My mind set at this point was just to make it to halfway and then take an extended break here and try to fix any issues.
I was still moving forward pretty well and my IT band was feeling much better, but I was still not taking in calories. I don’t remember much of this section other than it felt like forever, but I eventually made it to base camp. This was just a tease though, because it was just a minor aid station at this point, still had another 6k to go until taking that extended break. I grabbed some salty potatoes and some water and I was on my way. I told my crew that I was not feeling great, and I was just going to take my time and just get through this next section.
This 6k loop from base camp to base camp seemed much harder to me than the course description of this section at led me to believe. I guess it did not have the elevation of the other sections, but it seemed technical and very slippery due to the rain. Now on any other given day this section probably would not have been that bad, but lets face it, I was a wreak.
Running this 6k stretch felt like it lasted forever but I eventually got back to base camp. When I did get there I felt a bit disorientated, I should have been simple but I could not mentally figure out where I was supposed to go to get into the tent. A volunteer came out and guided me in. I got weighed and I had not last any weight since the beginning of the race. These two things were big signs that I was starting to get into trouble (but I did not know this at the time).
When I found my crew, I wanted to do a complete change of clothes. I was wet and cold. It was quite warm and nice inside the basecamp tent. Too nice… I just wanted to stay here. My wife Amanda was trying to get me to eat some pasta she had made for me, but I was on the verge of throwing up. I took a ginger pill and drank a double Nuun water believing that I was getting low on salt. I ate one piece of sushie and that just made my stomach turn. It was a solid 30 mins here until I collected myself and was ready to go again. Thanks to my crew convincing me to get off my but and to keep moving forward.
Heading out from base camp into the unknown. This was my first time going farther than 80km. I had one thing on my mind, just get up and over the two big climbs and make it to your crew again. I was going slow, really slow but still moving forward. Heading up the first climb I started dry heaving. About 4k past the base camp is where the final nail was driven into my coffin. I missed a sharp left hand turn to continue going up the mountain and ended up on another section of the course.
Following the arrows and flags and found the surprise aid station from that long 17K section after the P7 aid station. I knew that was the wrong way, so I turned back and found what I thought was the trail. I tried to pull out my phone to call someone for help to get back on curse here, but it was dead.
So I continued on, I was still following course markings and the arrows (for the mountain bikers) were pointing the right way. I knew things were not quite right when I did not come to the minor aid station, which was supposed to be 10k out of base camp, but I kept following the flags. Finally I ran into some other runners going in the opposite direction I knew then for sure that my race was over. I asked them what aid station was closer the one they were coming from or going to? The one the just came from was only 4k away.
Having gone more than 15k off course at this point there was no chance of continuing the race. The sad thing now was that my stomach was actually starting to feel better. Continuing toward the aid station, and missed another turn, following the course backwards is hard.
Ending up at the bottom of a very steep hill and there were no markers to be found. Getting really discouraged, I knew I had to climb up to find the last pink flag I saw to get back on track. I was running out of supplies and water. I made way back up the hill and found the flags once again. Luckily I could now see the lights of the P7 aid station where I made my way to and proceeded to drop. I was frustrated and disappointed, but knowing that I did not drop because I gave up but because I had made a navigational error made it a bit easier to swallow.
All in all the biggest thing that I need to improve on for my next attempt is my nutrition. I believe that for me I can not have my carbs mixed with my hydration as this has caused me stomach distress in many of my races this year. I know my body was ready to go the distance. Recovery from this race went really well and I was only stiff for a day or two. So I know if I can fix my nutritional problems I will be able to beat this race and have better results in all of my races next year.
A big thanks to my crew, my wife Amanda, Jeff Mosher (my pacer who never got to run with me), Pete and Laurence our friends from Montreal who came out to help crew. You guys are the best. Thanks to the race director Karine and all of the volunteers, I will be back.