As most of you know, James is a teammate on the Salomon West Van shop team, and has become a staple in my training life, and also my outside life. He’s become a good friend, and I was gutted to realize that not only would I not be running MYM myself, but I also wouldn’t be there to support my friends, James included. I’ve seen James training his hiney off (literally), and while I knew it was going to be a tough race (when is 50miles ever easy? Especially the first time around!!), I just knew that he had it in himself to get through the entire 80+ kms.
Spoiler : He DID finish!! And when I asked him for a guest post, I didn’t think I’d get it, but he did an awesome job summing up his journey, and I’m so glad to share it with my readers.
I’m beyond proud of him for this accomplishment, I and I hope to have my own 50miler completed in just a few short months. Ahhhhh.
Without further ado, I bring you James’ Guest Post on the Meet Your Maker 50Miler in Whistler, BC, on Sept 1, 2013.
Well, here we go. First blog post ever. Might as well start with some background…
After a two-year break from six years of coaching and running on the road I found myself at the bottom of Grouse one day looking to take on the famous Grouse Grind. Equipped with some Salomon hikers I started the trek up. My first time up was seventy minutes. Not knowing what to expect, I was taking it easy. The following weekend I went up again and knocked ten minutes off. I was hooked. Didn’t take long to hear about the BCMC and that you were able to hike down. With my Salomon hikers not up to the task, went on a mission to find something more suitable. Walked into a store and went to trail running section. A gray shoe with a lime green sole and very aggressive tread caught my eye. Asked what they were and was told, “Salomon Speedcross.” It was like walking on clouds. My feet were in heaven. That started off my addiction to the Speedcross and Salomon gear. They performed extremely well. My short, steady stride combined with the aggressive tread made for many great adventures.
The treks up and down the BCMC introduced me to the Baden Powell. That sparked an interest in trail running. Found out about 5Peaks and Seek The Peak. After competing in a few 5Peaks events, I received a newsletter and read a small blurb at the bottom about the inaugural 50 miler in Whistler called Meet Your Maker. I do like a good challenge. Checked the website everyday waiting for registration to open. It paid off and was the first to register for the event. It sunk in, had not run more than a half marathon. January 1st, 2012 the training started. Short runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with long run on the weekends. Entered all 5Peaks races, Elk Beaver 50km, Seek the Peak and back, course swept Comfortably Numb and the Squamish 21km. Used 5Peaks Whistler as a last hard effort before tapering to MYM50.
That led to a week’s vacation in Whistler staying at the Coast hotel on Blackcomb. During that week I was in contact with Chris Colpitts about helping to prepare for the race. Tuesday morning Chris, Chris Kennedy and myself sorted out 3200 course markers and dozens of arrows. Chris K and I started marking the first leg Wednesday. Before I knew it friends were showing up and package pickup was upon us. Helped setup the Salomon Expo at the Olympic Plaza. Went for a short shake out run with Tom Craik and Jude Ultraa that afternoon. Before I knew it the racer meeting was over and it was time head to bed. Woke up, tossed on the running gear, double checked my drop bag and was off to race start for 6am. But was running a little late and did not have the time to grab my usual pre long run McDonalds breakfast. My Old Man had made the trip in from Edmonton to watch and volunteer at the Top of Blackcomb aid station. Was talking with him as Chris Colpitts announced it was that time. Took off my coat and found my spot at the back of the pack. At the end of the countdown I started off at a comfortable slow pace. Made it aid station one in 1hr13min. After a short stay at the aid station, headed off on leg 2. With a few kilometers until aid station 2 I trip and my calf cramps. Run it out and grab a bunch of fuel for the trek up Blackcomb. Didn’t take long into the initial steep climb that my quads started to cramp, then my adductors. I was struggling with every step but made it to the Wizard Chair. Knowing I couldn’t make the cutoff time. I took the chairlift up to the aid station. I announced to my Old Man and first aid that I dropped from the race. With being quite sad, mad and frustrated. I grabbed my drop bag and went down the mountain. Hung around the finish line with the Salomon Crew just in time to see Mike Murphy and Phil Villeneuve come across the line in first and second. Was inspired by their performance and knowing I could not run at the their pace I still wanted to come back to try again.
Didn’t take long of checking the MYM50 website everyday to see the registration open and be the first to register again. This time I was going to go prepared with a real training program. It all started with an early 50km race down in Winthrop, Washington put on by Rainshadow running called Sun Mountain. The terrain was quite easy compared to our North Shore trails and was aiming for a 6 hour time. The race started off well and was on track for my goal. As I descended in to the aid station around the half waypoint my adductors went. Full on cramping again, just like MYM. This time I pushed through and walked the last 25kms. Came n right around 8 hours. At that time I knew I really needed help. With some asking around Tom Craik offered to make a training program for me and named it, “13 weeks of Marshalls Meet Your Maker Mayhem.” Had me doing 703 miles in 13 weeks including MYM in there. I was motivated and eager to start. Was taking around 10 minutes off each race time compared to the previous year.
Was feeling strong and confident as Squamish50km came around. It was the peak of my training and used it as my longest slow training day. Confident and calm went out with at the back of the pack. Made it to Quest University but was feeling tired. Fueled up and went off to tackle the Climb trail. Around 25kms out of nowhere my adductor goes. Full on cramping again as I descended Angry Midget. At the 32km aid station I felt light headed but knew I needed to carry on. Put down some watermelon and HEED. That didn’t stay down for long. After 20 minutes was feeling a better and started to talk to the 40km aid station. Still lightheaded and out of energy, I dropped from the race. My girlfriend Mariah Beamin had heard this and made it to the 40km aid station. I looked like death with blue lips. Left discouraged and questioning trying MYM in 3 weeks.
I sought out as much help as I could. With the combined tips from Tom Craik, Gary Robbins, Peter Watson and Mike Murphy we came up with a game plan. Knowing I never cramp on training runs we compared them to race days. Well, 2 big differences. One any of the days I cramped, did not have McDonald’s breakfast and I decided to have an electrolyte drink at the aid stations. Armed with this knowledge I pretty much tapered the 3 weeks leading to MYM. Race weekend came up quickly. Before I knew it my parents came into town to work the Blackcomb aid station and was picking up my race package. Once again the racer meeting was over and went out to grab a typical pre race meal with Mariah. Went to bed pretty early and woke up ready to go. Was sure to stop off at McDonald’s on the way to Rebagliati Park for the 5am start of the 2nd MYM. Was told to start of slower than last year and did just that. Came in at 1hr17min. Using only what I packed in a duffle bag, Mariah and Solana were waiting for me aid station 1. Filled up with water, grabbed some more gels and a banana set off on leg 2. Having done this leg 3 times now, knew what to expect. Except for the angry wasps that stung me 5 times.
Made it aid station 2 in 3hr19min. Feeling good, changed my shirt, took off the headlamp, filled up on water and grabbed more fuel for the trek up Blackcomb. Knowing this was my first obstacle to overcome. Coming into that aid station at 2hr26min for the Leg 3 Blackcomb climb, I was feeling emotional to have made it but not feeling very well.
Questioning continuing, I stuck to the plan and took off my Salomon Sense Ultras and put on my flip-flops. Mariah joined me on the Peak to Peak tram. Put on some fresh Injinjis and Salomon Sense Mantras. Filled up with water and fuel, started the trek down Whistler. Mariah was in contact with Mike Murphy throughout the day and he just happened to be riding the bike park. With it being such a small world, we cross paths. Tell him how things are going. All he had to say was use the descent to calm my stomach and make it to CreekSide. Said Will and him will meet at the second last aid station. As the descent continued I drank more water and fueled less. Came into CreekSide feeling better but with very tired quads. I knew I had to make to Function Junction to meet Mike and Will. Walked most of the next 12kms but came into the aid station to find Mariah, Mike and Will waiting.
Just had to make it through the next hard 10kms to the last much easier 10kms. Myself, Mike, and Will set off, Mike and Will keeping up the chatter and pushing me along. With being around the 10-hour mark the muscle fatigue set in and I started to cramp. Much like Sun Mountain but not as bad as Squamish50. I pushed on walking and running where I could. Made it to the last aid station. Mariah filled a water bottle with Coca-Cola for me and we were off. Knew I had 2 hours for the last 10kms to make last cut off. Armed with a plan to sip Coca-Cola every 10minutes walk all the hills and do walk run intervals. I knew finishing was doable. As the kilometers went by it was more apparent I was going to make it. With 3kms left realized my fast paced walk was faster than my run, which led to cramping, so I walked. Continued to push on. With 500meters to go I could hear the announcer, saw Chris K and Micky from Salomon Head Office. They were cheering me on, saying, “My parents, Mariah, friends and the crowd are waiting for me.” Crossed the finish line upright and smiling at 14hr32min20seconds. I still don’t think it has fully sunk in what I accomplished. But am very grateful to have such great friends, family and girlfriend to support me along the way. Could not have done it without you!
And a little shout out to Cariboo Brewing and Salomon West Vancouver for the support so far this year. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram (JamesBLMarshall) for the occasional giveaways.
Me again! Big huge thanks to James for sharing his story! Like I said, I am so very proud of him, and the community that came together around him, waiting for him to finish on Sunday, was incredible. I may have been a few hours away, but the texts, tweets, and all around support that I saw brought tears to my eyes. I am so privledged to be a tiny part of this trail running community. I may have missed this race, but I know I was there in spirit, and will continue to be at many races in the future, including MYM50 in 2014, where hopefully some more friends will be there to run 50miles, for fun, with me!
Also, big thanks to Mike (and Will eventhough I don’t know him…) for being there for James. Mike may have been the winner from last year, and he may be currently rehabbing a bum knee, but he is one of my absolute favorite people in the trail world, and being there for Jamesers, on this important day, and not blinking twice about jumping in to run 20K to help him finish, that’s character. Tom, for his endless support and his training program, Trail Ghost, you are one of a kind! And finally to Kathryn Stanton & Chris Colpitts for putting on another amazing event!! I was so happy to be at the day before festivities and at the race start – you guys know how to run a world class event, can’t wait to be on the starting line next September!!