Judging Distances

Clouds are a fairly common occurrence. They are big and it is hard to judge their distance. But I have to wonder how far away some of them actually are. Or even how big they are.
You can’t really get a real-time view from space of a cloud, but would I be surprised at how far they are. Or would they be close. If I look south, am I seeing clouds that are hovering over Leduc? Or are they just over the Whitemud?
There is nothing to reference them by eyesight. (Same reason the moon looks smaller when it isn’t near the horizon.)
What I need to do is go into a tower on a cloudy day and look at the shadows of clouds on the ground.

Late night run

It was probably not the brightest idea to go for a 19km run at 9:45 in the evening. (Bring a headlamp.) Certainly not on a work-night. But it was glorious. The temperature was so nice and it felt refreshing.
It is also a lot easier to convince yourself to go if you lie about the distance. I lied to myself and said it would only be a ten kilometre run. That gets you out the door. Because the first ten minutes suck for everyone, just getting going is the biggest accomplishment.
I will say this. Millcreek Ravine is spooky when it is completely dark. Even on the upper trails.

Sinister 7

It’s time for me to report on what happened at the Sinister 7 last week.
It started out well. It was a nice and cool start, but we knew that wouldn’t last. The organizers had said it was the driest conditions they had ever had, so that was promising. I tried to go at my regular pace for running instead of my oh-god-i’m-going-to-be-out-here-all-day pace that I seem to use for ultra marathons. It didn’t seem to affect my time on the first leg though. The violin players were a nice touch.
The second leg was special for me, because my sister was running it as well. And she actually did run it. Usually the first four kilometres are a steady hike up a mountain that I tend to walk. She ran it. I did finally catch up with her at the part where it was steeply downhill. (After the second hill/wall.) I had been feeling good that I finally passed someone on that part until I saw it was family. I am not that good on the downhill parts and I’m always being passed by everyone. I really need to get better at that.
I consider the third leg the hardest. Mostly because you are climbing up a mountain in the hottest part of the day. It definitely delivered that promise. (Except when it didn’t.) After finally cresting the mountain, it was downhill. And the dry conditions had made it good terrain for running down; there were no deep ruts where water had carved channels ideal for twisting her ankle. Unfortunately two things prevented this enjoyments.
The first was that a runner had collapsed. He had run out of water and hadn’t gotten more at the aid station that he had passed fifteen minutes before. He was rather delirious, and the rules state you can’t abandon a runner in distress. Someone else had gone back to the station to get help, and there was a large group around him before I decided that there was nothing more I could add. That delayed me ten to fifteen minutes.
The second issue was that the thunder I had been hearing while climbing had decided to follow through with the inevitable rain. It wasn’t bad to start with, and the water was quickly absorbed into the parched earth. Then it got worse and worse. The heavens opened up and there was hail. I put on my mandatory-equipment jacket and continued on, but now I was running through deep water.
I did enjoy seeing the people who had obviously not brought their mandatory-equipment and were continuing to run in barely anything. I’m a little upset that they weren’t pulled for breaking the rules.
The rain continued and made the going tough.
On the fourth leg, I had been hoping to make up time. But that rain had changed the entire nature of the race. There was mud everywhere. The uphills seemed to completely drain me; I used to be good at hills so that was distressing. The dirt road I had been hoping to use to make up time was not helping. I couldn’t run on it. My shoes were getting heavier and heavier as all the mud clung to it.
By the time I got to the end of that leg, I could see the writing on the wall. I had used half the time of the race to travel half the distance. Normally that doesn’t sound too bad, but I was not going to be faster on the second half. There was no way I could finish in time. Not with the mud slowing me down. I could probably make the cutoff for the next leg, but I wouldn’t make the one after that. I would only be punishing myself, and more importantly, my family that had come to support me. I would be forcing them to stay up in the middle of the night on what, by now, was essentially a fool’s errand.
I dropped out.
My family was very happy to hear that. As soon as I hinted that I was thinking about it, my mother was packing everything away. My sister was declaring that I no longer need to get her birthday or Christmas presents. Say what you want about ultra marathons, but they are just as hard on the support crew.
Since the race, I’ve looked at the times. I was about forty-five minutes behind the last place finisher. So I believe I made the correct call.
The current theory as to why hills were suddenly hard is that the heat on the third leg had sapped all my energy away. Sounds plausible. But I have Mont Blanc coming up, and that will have even more uphills to contend with. I’ve talked to my personal trainer and she has given me a plan for hill training that will hopefully improve things. But I only have a month before I leave for that.