Let's Get Dizzy: Pulse Endurance Race



So this winter I'd been doing a lot of treadmill running (like A LOT of treadmill running).  I had developed several solid overuse injuries over the last season, and needed to let those heal while still stretching the legs.  Nothing does this better (or is more mind numbing) than a 60k on the treadmill.  Over the course of these countless hours binge watching Netflix while jogging on the hamster wheel, I decided I wanted to try a timed event, looped course.  This would give me a chance to get an early season 100 mile out of the way, and make sure my body was ready for another summer of suffering.

I selected the Pulse Endurance Run near Boise, Idaho.  It was a short 13 hour drive from where I live in Fernie, Britsh Columbia, and coincided nicely with some banked holidays I had to use or lose.  I signed up for the 48 hour event to make sure I would have enough time to get my miles in, packed my SUV with a bed and all the gear you would ever need for a Spring run, and headed out.
Race Wagon


You don't realize how long a 13 hour drive is, until you do it alone.  I was glad I got in a day early, as my body didn't want to do much when I arrived.  I spent one night sleeping in my Ford Escape at a rest stop, and decided to shell out the big $$$ for a motel the night before the race.  I found a lovely hotel for $13 located behind the loading dock of a Lowe's and Walmart Super Centre.  I overpaid.  The Store below in FB posts.


 
 
 
After surviving the Murder Motel, I drove myself out to Eagle Island where the even was being held.  As I pulled into the park, it dawned on me just how flat this course actually was.  Race directors lie.  They can't help it.  I've done enough of these to know that 'flat course' usually just means only one or two major death climbs, and you probably don't need to use trekking poles.  As advertised, this course was flat.  I found the only honest race director!  This was going to be a fun 2.79 mile loop.  I was wondering how to pace for something like this?  Working the same muscles the entire time, without the sweet release of a steep incline.

The race started at 6:00pm, like all good long races, so we could stay up all day, then run all night (and the next day,and the next day,.....).  Turns out 6:00pm would be very hurty.  After hanging around and getting my mini aid station set up in the warming tent, I made sure to have my bed ready in the back of my SUV.  I was tired from the travel, and starting at 6:00pm was going to present some challenges I figured. I was not wrong.

6:00pm the race begins.  I'm feeling pretty good, as I haven't done anything in 3 days, and I'm really itching to run.  I was running with a dude named Jose (who would eventually set a new course record), and we would run the first 3 laps together.  The course was flat, and it was hard pack in many places.  I made a mental note to try and be light on my feet so they wouldn't swell out as the days wore on.  Jose had done this race before,so I wasn't paying too much attention to the course.  It was a big loop, pretty hard to get lost #famouslastwords .
Loops and getting lost


After lap 3, I figured I should start adding some walking into the mix.  I'd run two songs, and walk a song (I brought a 6 hour playlist on my phone).  Lap 4 was a breeze.  Lap 5 things started to go downhill.  I was chugging along, feeling a little brain tired, and all of a sudden.....BARF.  Everything to that point of the day came out.  I'm not usually a barfer, more of an explosive diarrhea kind of guy, but whatever, lots of time to fix this.  I'm not sure at this point, if this is a one off, or if I'm getting dizzy from the lack of sleep, or the running in circles (maybe all 3??).  I collect myself, and begin chugging down a road.  I noticed the lap feels very short, and then someone tells me I've gone the wrong way.  I'll admit it, I could get lost on a treadmill.  So back I run, adding a beautiful mile to my day, and rejoin the course.  Just like that, the dark monsters are visiting me, and I'm in full blown mental sufferfest.

Lap 6 is the last lap I remember for the next few hours.  It was the last one without a headlamp, and I wanted to make sure I didn't get lost again. I'd been hydrating well all race, and grabbed some sugar from the aid station to repair the caloric loss from the vomiting.  This was a poor choice.  Same place on the course (long dirt road stretch), it all came back up again.  I felt great aside from my stomach.  It usually doesn't happen to me this much.  At This point I knew it was going to be a long ass night.

By lap 8, it was getting pretty consistent.  I was losing my lunch around the same spot every couple of laps.  By the middle of the night, a skunk had decided to come and sample a few of my offerings on the side of the trail, and hence the dirt road smelt like skunk.  This was just getting more and more inspiring. 
The Hillbilly Murder Mansion
Another amazing feature which I didn't want to forget to mention, was the fact that this park used to be a minimum security prison farm.  I did not know this until much later in the race.  Instead, I got to run by some old dilapidated building right out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The 'pies de resistance' of the course however, was a building I affectionately called 'The HillBilly Murder Mansion' (I later learned it was an abandoned slaughterhouse, so my original assessment stands).  I was pretty sure as the night went, runners were going to start disappearing off the course in this area. Across from the Murder Mansion, was a half toppled wooden shack with a leaking faucet that had a constant drip.  You cannot make this stuff up.  For the rest of the night, I'd be sure, that the low amount of miles some runners would amass, would not be due to fatigue, but by the Hills have Eyes meets Deliverance vibe I was getting from the course.  I imagined that during the night, slower runners would be picked off by the 'locals' occupying the murder mansion.  I  at least amuse myself on these runs.

By around 3am, my mind was getting the better of me.  I was mentally exhausted, and yawning as I ran. The dark monsters were waiting for me behind every creepy outbuilding.  As I passed this portion of the course, my pace improved dramatically (Strava will verify that!!).  By this point, I knew the after I passed the hillbilly murder mansion, as I almost done.  It was a straight shot across a fence line, then cross a dirt road, and you're on the homestretch.  There were 3 cannon(ish) looking things that greeted you as you hit the pavement to finish each lap.  I never tired of seeing them, and often imagined myself using them to open fire on the murder mansion if the run took a B movie turn.

When I hauled in from my first lap after 3am, I had to get horizontal for 30 minutes and close my eyes. My stomach was a seething pile of lava, and my eyes wouldn't stay open.  I set a dozen alarms on my phone, and woke up right before the first one went off.  I rolled out of the back of my SUV, and headed back out.  Nothing like trying to get your motor going again after a nap at 80km.

The morning was just a continuation of the night.  I avoiding eating, and stuck to tailwind and GuGels. The blackberry gu gel tastes like what I imagine pure arsenic tastes like when vomited (in case you needed to know).  As I avoided solid food, I was no longer getting sick.  I was able to hit a nice flow state for a couple of hours, and put away some decent miles.

Around mile 80, I was starting to get pretty weak.  I hadn't consumed much more than 5000 calories on the day, and had burned several times that.  I decided to go horizontal again for 30 minutes, and use that rest to push for the 100 miles.
Sights and Sounds from the course aka 'the set from the Haunting'


The dripping Faucet
I rolled out of the back of my SUV with a renewed sense of purpose.  I needed to put away another 20 miles quickly.  It wasn't that far, and if I pushed I'd be somewhere in the 21 hour range.  My legs felt pretty good, but I was getting pretty dizzy.  I was really tired of running in circles.  At this point it felt a lot like the game where you put your forehead on the top of a bat and spin in a circle for 30 seconds, then try to catch people.  I plodded along, still running my two songs, and walking a song, but I was definitely a hurtin' unit.

Food was starting to dance in front of me.  Every lap. I'd look at the aid station food and dream.  A few times I took some pocket bacon (bacon you put in your pocket for those with an 'on the go' lifestyle) and it always ended badly.  Bacon barfs aren't that bad though.  As I closed in on the 100 mile mark, my body, aside from being weak, felt pretty amazing.  My muscles were still in place, no cramps, no sore feet, life was pretty good!  I saw those cannons for what I didn't know would be the last glorious time, and I strolled in my 100 miles (I got 103 on my Strava due to my ability to get lost on course).

I hit the SUV for some rack time, as I contemplated day two.  I figured it would be a cross of misery walking, and zombie shuffling, but the race was super fun, so why not?

In the bed in the back of my SUV, I drank a soda water, and sipped some Boost, then I dozed off for 45 minutes.  When I woke up, I sat up slowly, and finished my water and the boost.  I put my shoes on like a champ, stretched out, and began to walk to the start line to get on with it again.  Halfway to the start line, I broke into a crazy sweat, and went heels to Jesus.  Face plant about 20 feet from my vehicle.  When I got up, I was pretty dizzy and sick.

I went to the aid station/medic tent, and took a break.  It was not going to be possible to run anymore unless I could eat.  Seeing as this was not going to happen (and I had to drive myself 13 hours home after), I decided to not be stupid, take my decent 100 mile time, and call it a day. 

I loaded myself into the Race Wagon, and headed home into the sunset, consoling myself in the knowledge that I wasn't chained in a basement being disemboweled, and hadn't woke up, chained to another participant, with a sign reading 'Do you want to play a Game?'

Catch you all next time.

The Canadian Ghost Runner,

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