November 12, 2009

Tamsin Anstey, MTN MAS Race Report

Let me start off by stating that I’ve never written a race report in my life. Mainly because I never thought anyone, except maybe my parents, would actually be interested in reading it. But my wonderful boyfriend Gary Robbins has introduced me to a whole new network of blogging and, I have to admit, the concept is starting to intrigue me. Since I don’t have a blog of my own Gary has so graciously allowed me to post my race report on his blog. Here goes…. (editors note, I did not add those comments myself though I am tempted to spice them up even more! Hmmm, her incredibly attractive, sexy, and supportive boyfriend...not my words, hers! With his amazing prowess on trails, perfect physique, mesmerizing Tamsin I just didn't know...someone who 'I' can constantly turn to for advice, who understands me as a woman, who knows me better than I know myself and...Tamsin really, it should be more about the race, I know it's your first race report and all but c'mon, get to it here!)

MM was to be my first 50mile attempt. I’ve been running my whole life but this is my inaugural year of ultra running and had never run that far in one go to date. My background is in track and field and shorter distance trail races. The night before the race I got a bit anxious and didn’t sleep well, but not because I was nervous about where I would place in the field, I was genuinely concerned that I wouldn’t be able to run 50miles!

My doubt was in part due to the fact that I’ve been battling very frustrating chronic knee issues all year. I had half of the cartilage removed out of my right knee a decade ago as a result of a bad soccer injury and these longer distances are proving to be challenging for my “older than it should be” gammy leg. I can’t log in 100mile weeks like other ultra runners do because I have onset osteoarthritis in my knee so I always worry that I haven’t put in enough miles in training to go the distance.

Gary and I awoke at 2:45am. I would love to say that I brewed my usual strong cup of coffee but being that I was far away from home I instead settled for stirred instant coffee with powdered cream and ate a bagel with a banana and peanut butter for breakfast. At 4am all the athletes were herded onto 5 school buses and we were driven a 1/2hr to the start line.

It was a typical start to any race. All the competitors were anxious to start and you could feel the nervousness and tension in the air. It was freezing cold, everyone was under-dressed and there were massive line ups for the porta-potties which were getting more and more disgusting by the minute.

I love the start of any race. It’s the only time that you get to see and converse with all of the participants because everyone gets so spread out by the end of a race. I love the friendliness and camaraderie of the genuine exchange of wishing each other luck.

3, 2, 1 and we were off! We started running in the dark with headlamps which I’d never done before in a race. I enjoyed the first 10km on the road. I paced myself with Nicola Gildersleeve (fellow North Vancouver runner) and a local runner named Heather and we chatted, laughed a little and relaxed into cruise mode. I ditched my headlamp just before we hit the trailhead and started up our first little climb. The sun started to crest over the Blue Ridge Mountains and the view was spectacular. Although late in the season, the foliage was still vibrant, colourful and memorable.

I ran with Nicola for the first 3hours. Nicola and I have recently started training together sporadically and become friends. She has such a refreshing and positive personality and is the kind of person who is just pleasant to be around. Nicola had been battling a cold for a few days and starting coughing a bit and didn’t sound 100%. She stopped for a bathroom break and from then on we got separated.

Backing up a bit, about 2hours into the race I noticed that my quads were starting to cramp a bit which has never happened to me before. I popped a couple of electrolyte tablets hoping that would do the trick. My quads got progressively worse as time ticked on so I just accepted the fact that they were going to hurt all race. I just shrugged my shoulders and thought, “Oh well, at least I’m not noticing knee pain because my quads are hurting that much more.”

At the halfway point I felt good. Better than I had 2hours into the race. I knew that I was about to run up a big gradual climb on fire road which is my forte. The climb was hard but I felt strong. For the next couple of hours I really felt like I found my stride and ran well. Fluids were going in, GU was going down, the sun was out and it was the perfect temperature for a run through the mountains.

Gary told me that I’d probably hit the single track loop at around 6hrs so I was thrilled when I got to that trailhead way ahead of schedule. About halfway through the loop fatigue really started to hit me and I remembered what Nicola told me before the race and that was, “just keep moving forward.” So I put my head down, got into the zone and ran. I felt like I was slogging it and not maintaining a good pace but to my surprise I soon looked up and realized that I was gaining on another male competitor. Confidence boost!

Without going into boring play by play details of the last 2hours of my race I will sum it up in 4 words. I FELT LIKE CRAP! Fluids and GU were no longer going down, they were coming up, my legs felt like a combination of lead and jello and I got a nose bleed. Paints a really hot picture, eh?!

When I hit the last aid station and was told I had 3miles to go downhill I took a sigh of relief. I knew I was going to finish and finish well. I was running with 3 other gentlemen at that point and they all took off faster than me down the last decent. I kept looking back thinking that Nicola (who is a much superior downhill runner than me) would come charging around a switchback and I’d have to finish with a sprint to the line. As much as I love seeing Nicola I was really happy to not see her during those last 3miles.

Finishing is bitter sweet! I hit the road and knew I had only 1 mile to go. Yippee! I always find it so ironic that my favorite thing to do is run but that by the end of a race I can’t wait to stop running. I saw the finishers’ banner up ahead and a big smile broke across my face. I was going to win Mountain Masochist and qualify for Western States. Clark Zealand, the best race director ever, was at the finish line with his hands up welcoming me in. I crossed the line, Gary picked me up and gave me a big hug and kiss and told me that he was really proud of me.(cause he's like totally like the bestest ever!!)

I don’t say this very often but I was and am very proud of myself. This race was a great test of my own perseverance. I finished in 8hrs9min which is the 5th fastest female time ever on the course. I run because I love running and would do it regardless of the recognition I get but, I have to admit, it’s really nice to see that I am able to knock down times that are right up there with some of the top ultra runners in North America and it’s really nice to see my hard work pay off. I know that I have so much room for improvement and still feel really under experienced in the sport of ultra running and I am excited to see what I can accomplish in the years to come.

I don’t know where my running career will take me or if I am even talented to have one but this race opened many new gates of opportunity for me and I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in it.

Thank you to all the volunteers, race director Clark Zealand, Dr.Horton, Nicola and Gary (you complete me) for making this such a great weekend for me!


Sara Montgomery said...

Congratulations on an awesome race, Tamsin. Loved your report. (I think you need your own blog, even though Editor's notes were hilarious!)

Devon said...

Tamsin, congrats on a great run and securing a spot at WS! So impressive! And you two are just such an adorable couple!

Jason Eads said...

AWESOME Tamsin! However, I think your editor is a shady character ;) I agree with Sara's comments here - perhaps you could use your very own blog.

Tom Craik said...

Go Tamsin! Incredible job on both the run and the race report.

Nicola Gildersleeve said...

haha that was hilarious!!! Nice editing Gary!

Tamsin, it was a pleasure to run with you for almost the first half. I find I don't think so much about "the race" or how much discomfort I may be in when I am with another. I just run. Glad to see you hold it all the way to the end. Very proud and excited to tow the line at ws100 with you!

Anonymous said...
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saschasdad said...

Great post and race! Congratulations on winning one of the biggies! Enjoy a little rest now before your WS build-up.

Clynton Taylor said...

Big congratulations, Tamsin. That's really exciting that you did so well on your first ultra and even qualified for Was! And good job on the race report as well. Felt like the right amount of info (except all that mushy stuff about Gary ;), with storytelling, not just facts. Can't wait to hear which race you have your sights on for your next ultra.