Saturday, April 9, 2011

Diez Vista 50k Race Report

Today was the 15th annual Diez Vista 50k, held at Sasamat Lake. Since it was my first year running it, they decided to add an extra 1000 feet of climbing on an already tough course (ok, they didn't do it for me but because of construction and flooding going on). I knew it was going to be a tough course by the elevation profile:

What I didn't know was how difficult the actual trails would be, apart from the elevation. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After about 3 hours of sleep, I woke up this morning with a sore throat and sniffles. Hoped it would be nothing. We started at 7:30am. I knew that the toughest climb was in the first 5 miles (see profile above ;) so I was prepped for that. But whether I'm coming down with a cold or there is some other factor at play, I felt completely winded all day. I always lose my breath on the tough climbs, but today was especially bad. My heart rate was too high and I couldn't get my breath, even on easier sections. This made the steep climbs really tough, and I kept having to pause and catch my breath. It slowed me down a lot over the course of the day. :(

Aside from being winded, I felt physically and mentally fine today.

The first big climb takes you up 1600 feet over 8km, but it starts out gentle and gets progressively steeper (and more technical) as you go. After the first aid station, it was straight up, and many people passed me on this climb as I was constantly stopping to get my breath. I actually felt dizzy a few times and wondered if I should continue, but I figured the climb couldn't last forever and then I'd be fine. ;)

Here are some of the Vistas along the way:

After the major climb, there is a long, technical downhill to the second aid station. This was my favourite part of the race. I love technical downhills, and I was still fresh enough to really enjoy it. The trails in this section are rough, narrow, and in some places barely there. It was just me and the earth, boulders, trees, and water. A trail runner's nirvana is that feeling of being connected to the earth. And this might sound hokey to some, but I also felt more connected to my aboriginal roots than I think I ever have. Loved this section.

As I arrived at the second aid station, this sign made me smile:

I confess that the next section is a bit hazy in my memory. There were some gravel sections, some dirt sections, some ups and downs, but nothing particularly memorable. I don't remember the third aid station at all, but I remember the 4th for two reasons: I stopped to use the outhouse there (first time I've ever had to pee during an ultra) and it was the start of the second-largest climb, on an out-and-back. This climb started with a big switchback but then became gentler for awhile before coming out of the soft happy trails and onto a really rocky, awful powerline-trail-type-road-thing. It was brutal... mentally more than physically. Throughout the race there had been a number of loose-rock sections that were tough to run (think creek bed rocky) but this was the mother of them all. I was really glad when we crested the top of this climb because I knew that any climbs after that would be smaller. Down to the 5th aid station, where I finally got some Coke (I didn't see any before then...) and wanted to take the bottle with me! It was so yummy. The other bonus to this aid station was that it was at 37km, so when we turned around to go back along the powerline again, it felt like we were on the home stretch.

Coming down to the last aid station at 44km, I was hurting... even the downhill hurt at this point. I knew that we were getting close, and I thought all the climbing was over. Then a lady who was passing me said that there was another climb. At first I thought she was joking; she wasn't. There was a huge hill after the aid station (it felt enormous, but was actually small compared to the others!). Then I lost heart a bit, and I started to get grouchy and whiny. I couldn't believe how long it was taking and how much I was hurting, and how annoyingly rocky the trail was. I walked most of the last few km back.

Arriving at the finishing chute, I was walking. The announcer said that they weren't going to cheer unless I ran into the finish, so I did! It hurt. But there was apple crisp waiting for me at the finish, so that was worth it.

I clocked in at 8:54ish. I never dreamed it would take me that long, or that the course was that tough (I think my breathing issues made a big difference too). That's a full hour slower than my previous slowest time, and I'm much better trained now than I was for the previous one.

Now please pass the icecream and ibuprofen. :)


  1. Great job, Holly! I'm proud to call you my cousin! ^^

    I can't wait to get to the point where I'm doing 50k runs, but for now, baby steps. I'm working on 2k for now. ;P

    ...Then we can eat ice cream and ibuprofen together. How nice!

  2. Wow! Great job! That sounds like a beast of a course. If you'd like to check out my RR for my first 60K, please head over to my blog. Like you, the course was much tougher and I took alot longer than I thought I would. Still had a blast though. :)

  3. hey, I keep trying to check your blog but when I click on your name it says "profile not available" so I can't access it. :(

  4. honey - you just ran 50 frikken kilometers! how many people can say they've done that! and every one is different - my 50k times go from 4:51 to 7:18 ! and you got to check out some gorgeous scenery. what else would you rather be doing on a saturday . . .
    congratulations !

  5. That is just awesome!! Amazing...50 frikken kilometers indeed..yowza.. Way to go!

  6. Congratulations on a great run! I love your description of the various parts of the course. For this course, we always say "if you don't like the type of trail you're on, don't worry 'cause it'll be different around the next bend!"
    The powerline section is the best kept secret in BC ultras. It is truly brutal and nobody ever warns others about it! Shhhh!

  7. Great report Holly , love the pictures. Sounds like a course that I would love to run , err walk …going to have to make it West someday.

  8. Well done, Holly. I'm glad you were able to enjoy the surroundings despite the challenges of the uphills and the powerline - no one likes those, but they are part of what make that course so surprisingly difficult. Everyone was a bit slower on the new course this year.

    I was looking forward to chatting afterwards, but you took off so quickly after you came in that I missed you! Next time...

    btw, if you don't mind a suggestion, peeing is a great indication of being adequately hydrated in a race, so if you aren't, then you may be drying up a bit which will degrade performance, induce cramping, and reduce absorption of calories. I know when I race that if I haven't had to stop for a long time, I will be in Big Trouble soon. Suck back some more fluids (water with electrolytes, balanced salt intake is important as well) and learn to love the pee! :-)

  9. Thanks. :) Yeah, I was in a hurry to get home after since my poor dog was home alone and I hadn't planned to be gone SO long! :) I think I saw you before the race but didn't clue in until later.

    re: peeing. I actually almost never stop while on a run, long run, or races. In four road marathons and 6 ultras this is only the second time I've ever needed to stop and use the bathroom (I was sick the first time). I don't think I'm dehydrated... I generally consider it a blessing, lol.

  10. Hey! I don't mow why my link doesn't take you there, but the blog is
    Again, great job on a tough race! Amy