The Limberlost Challenge


It was a hard decision to make, when I thought about running the 2011 edition of the Limberlost Challenge (TLC).  I really enjoyed the race in 2010, and I was starting to miss the time spent with the other “crazy” ultra runners of the Ontario Ultra Series.  TLC was taking place during my first weekend off work during the summer and I was going to be in the area regardless of whether I ran or not. 

I knew that I was not in the type of shape to be running competitively, but that with shear will and determination, I knew I was capable of doing the distance.  I had planned on keeping up my running while working at Tanamakoon, but realistically, I was only able to get in a handful of 5-10k runs in during the evenings. 

I made the decision to sign up for the 42k distance, only about a week before the race.  I knew that running the 56k was not a good idea considering my lack of training.  I was excited to see all the regulars again, but nervous about how my body would hold up. 

Stephanie and I arrived at the venue on Friday afternoon and were able to set up the tent and get our selves organized.  It was a much more enjoyable experience than last year, since we had lots of time and were in no rush.  After chatting with a few of the other runners, we decided to head into Huntsville to get some dinner. 

Unexpectedly, we decided to dine at the restaurant inside the Zellers.  It brought back fond memories of when I was a kid and would go with my mom during back to school shopping trips.  The food was actually really good and since we were the only two people in the dining room, our service was impeccable.  We also shared one of the best chocolate milkshakes I have ever tasted.  It was obvious, based on my indulgent meal choices, that I wouldn’t be breaking any records the next day.

After returning to our little campsite, I prepared all my things for the race. We were able to socialize and chat with many of the other runners and then once it was dark, Stephanie and I went back to our tent and soon fell asleep.

I felt pretty good on race morning.  I had a light breakfast consisting of a ham and cheese sandwich and some yogurt.  It was great to see all the people that I had gotten to know so well in 2010.  I was asked several times where I had been hiding out.  I was also really happy to have Stephanie there to cheer me on and be my support crew! 

The race started after a few announcements and I settled into a pretty conservative pace.  I was able to meet a few new runners and have some chitchat before getting into some of the tougher parts of the course. 

Once everyone became spread out, and I was running mainly solo, so I turned on my iPod and started listening to an audiobook about Buddhism.  It was very interesting and found that while I run, I can focus really well on the content, as well as the course.  I find it a very productive way to learn and get exercise at the same time. 

It wasn’t long into the first lap (the course is a 14k loop, done three times for the 42k) that I started to feel my hip bothering me.  I knew that this was a possibility, so I just slowed down and tried not to push it too hard.  It didn’t get much worse until part way through the second lap. 

When it came to make the decision whether to keep going for the third lap, I figured that it wasn’t getting much worse as I was moving, so I might as well finish the race. 

The third lap was very difficult, mostly because of the pain in my hip.  I tried not to dwell on it too much, and just keep myself moving.  The last few kilometers were a real struggle.  I was able to finish the audiobook during the first two and a half laps and so switching to some upbeat music helped to keep me going.  For the last 10 or 15 minutes, I turned the iPod onto my Rage Against the Machine playlist to help drive me in to the finish line.  It worked brilliantly!!!  I was able to pick it up a bit at the end, and cross the line in just over five and a half hours. 

As soon as I stopped for a few minutes, the pain became much more evident.  I knew it was going to be a slow and sore recovery.  I took a quick dip in the nearby lake to wash/cool off, which also helped to ease the pain a little. 

We only had a short drive to the motel where we were staying, and so the rest of the day was spent purely relaxing and enjoying the peace and quite of Algonquin. 

After a few days of pain in my hips and lower back, and a fair bit of Advil and Robaxicet, I was feeling okay again and tried to get back into the habit of going for my short jogs after work. 

I started to realize that maybe it’s the trails, with their uneven and unpredictable surfaces that have such an impact on my hips.  I have decided to test out this theory by going for a long run along Highway 60 during the intersession break from camp and see how my body reacts to that.      

© Brian Groot 2016