Haliburton 50 mile race report…”Chicken Soup”

Well I have to start talking about chicken soup because I’ve finally found this is the food I need to run long well. I’m not talking about the the boxed broth with no sodium added gluten free blah blah blah, I’m talking about the kind your granny made you boiling all the fat and marrow out of the bones on the stove. Add salt? Hell ya. If it sits in the fridge it should turn into a fatty jelly.

When you’re out there for five, ten, fifteen hours etc there is no way you can eat enough calories and gels (which I also use). So when I spent the day before preparing my soup and dumped it down the drain I felt like an idiot. I was multitasking and just not thinking. Damn!

So my buddy Nick and I are off to haliburton the Friday before the race and I managed to find some legit homemade soup for a steep cost of $15 for maybe a litre and a half. At this point I didn’t care I probably would have paid more.

We arrive at a decent time to set up our tent, heat the soup up to put in my drop bags. settle in for an early night after a couple of beers for a thunder and lightning show that helped clear out the massive amount of humidity.

Up at 4:30 after a restless sleep getting half a bagel in me and line up for the six am start. I was sluggish and tired for the first 10 km feeling out my legs and trying to get into a positive place in my head for my body to move well. The terrain in Hali is a mix of technical roots and rocks on the Canadian Shield. Plus a nice amount of fire roads to help spin your legs at different speeds. When I got to the 10 km aid station I filled up a 250ml container with the fatty magic, followed by a sip of water and a gel. Good to go and feeling alert and strong- time to press on.

I think what I love about running ultras is navigating through the ups and downs with simple positive thoughts, or really no thought all. Just the primal feeling of running on the earth and feeding yourself what you need. I’ve had a few years figuring out what it takes to finish and sometimes when the day goes right, how to race. Haliburton 50 is forty km out and forty back which is kind of cool because you can gauge what place you’re at and how far someone might be behind you. For a technical course this was motivation to keep moving steady.

I came in at 3:45 at the half way point barely ahead of three other guys and was passed at around 41 km putting me in second. Perfect. Nice to chase and be chased. More soup, gel, and water. Just keep steady and run the hills or power walk the really steep stuff. My hips are feeling tight and my effort is bringing my legs close to cramping which happened a few times but I’m managing ok. Looking at my watch I know if I can keep this pace I will come in a sub 8 hour which is my ultimate goal.

Time actually goes fast when you feel the zone. A place with no thought. Just be in your body and move. Now I’m at aid station 2 again and I know I only have 12 km to go. I’m told first place guy is 8 minutes ahead and I have no idea who’s behind but it really doesn’t matter. At this point I know I have to average 10 km an hour to do a sub 8 and I had to stick a solid effort. More gel, the last of soup and push the pace. Pushing the pain and negative thoughts out, just focus on being present and smile into the suffering. The finish is near and then it’s here. 7:56. 2nd place and a personal best by 20 minutes. Yes!

So now my race is over and the next bit of fun begins. Beers, eating a great dinner and then a second dinner and a third. Sitting by the fire sharing stories of the day and days to come with new and old friends. Cheering on the 100 mile runners all night and morning to noon. So much inspiration sponged in my soul. Thinking and dreaming of what’s next. Feeling lucky and vibrant to be healthy.

Peter Taylor.

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