Selling my 2013 144 High roof Sprinter. I bought it on October 2016 and
have been slowly working on a conversion, never expecting to sell.
However, I found an deal on a 4×4 version that I couldn’t turn down.
I built this up as a camper for hiking and backcountry adventures for
1-2 people. I built the bed platform high enough to put in a sliding
drawer for bikes down the middle. I also built it in a “modular” fashion
so that things can be removed/changed as needed. The cabinets and bed
platform are bolted to the L Track on the walls so that they can be
taken out in under an hour. I glued and screwed everything together to
keep it solid and minimizes squeaks.
I used (a lot of) Dupont Thermawrap R5 to insulate. It’s behind every
panel/door and I used fish tape to pull it through all of the rib and
through the pillars.
I am the 2nd owner and the original owner used it as a courier van
between towns in Alberta. This van literally is all highway miles, its
in great mechanical condition despite the km. The one negative from the
hwy miles it there is some paint chipping above the windshield.
235/85R16 Cooper Discoverer AT/W tire
Multi-function display, cruise control
Factory auxiliary heater (H12) with timer. (I don’t think the Canadian ones have the 4*C limit)
Insulated walls + ceiling with DuPont Thermawap (R5)
L track running 2x horizontally on both sides
Birch plywood walls and ceiling (1/4″)
CR Lawrence windows behind driver (T-vents) and passenger (fixes)
Stainless RV sink and faucet with 12V Seaflo pump
40L fresh water storage, 20L grey water.
Storage drawers with marine latches
Platform bed with 8″ memory foam queen mattress. Platform has
removable center section to allow walk-through or for transporting large
Checkerplate foam rubber floor
Auxiliary AGM deep-cycle battery (Nautilus Ultra Group 24)
Blue Sea ACR
Eccotemp L5 Propane shower on rear door with flip-up shower curtain
Truckfridge TF-49 12V Fridge
New starter Battery in 2017
Replaced EGR valve in 2017
Replaced DEF heater in 2017
New windshield in 2018
I also have a 300W solar kit with 40A MPPT controller that is negotiable(hasn’t yet been installed)
Asking $32k CAD. Negotiable but I’ve put a ton of work into it (see last two photos for the starting point)
2016 was a whirlwind of a year. On one hand, a lot of big things happened, on the other, I feel like I could have done more. Here are the highlights:
2016 was a big year for downsizing. Early on in the year, my partner and I decided to move to Vernon from Lake Country since her work was closer to Vernon. It was a bit nerve-wracking at firt but once we started crunching the numbers, we realized it was an opportunity to reduce or housing expenes significantly. While our house in Lake Country was a unique find and we loved it very much, it was also bigger than we needed, took a lot to maintain (3/4 of an acre), and was a 30 min drive from the city. Between the commute, property taxes and maintenance, it was costing us quite a bit money but also time. It waxsn’t financuially out of reach by any means, but it meant less vacations, recreation time, and other life experiences. Once we started crunching the numbers, moving to a smaller place in Vernon would almost half our housing costs and put us within waling distance of lamost everything including the office I spent a few days a week in.
Moving to Vernon was a was a no-brainer.
In February, we started searching for homes, and after a few misses managed to land a comfy little home in one of thee most desirable neighbourhoods of Vernon. It was half the cost of our previous home, had a garage, yard for the dog to run around in and great neighbours. Downsizing and moving to our current home in Vernon was by far the best decision of 2016.
The other area we’ve downsized in is “stuff.” We’ve sold, donated, given away and thrown out alot of our things. I estimate that currently, I own the least amount of “things” since moving out from my parents. I’ve sold most of my electronics, extra clothing, books, and furniture. We don’t even own a TV anymore. I also sold my beloved 1992 Land Cruiser. For those that don’t know me, this was a HUGE decision, as I’ve been a Land Cruiser enthusiast and have owned 12 different ones over the past 15 years, This truck was a super rare find, something I had spent 10+ years looking for. In the end, priorities change , experiences are more important than things and I decided that the Land Cruiser was a carry-over of an older lifestyle. Stuff is over-rated and in my mind, a distraction from real happiness. Note, I still own a lot of recreation items for hiking, backpacking and camping but focus on quality over quantity there. More on that in a future posts
Finding my Work happy Place
2016 was also a year of soul-searching in terms of finding a new work that resonated with me. Downsizing was a huge help in this regard, creating much more financial room for me to experiment with different approaches. TO be honest I spent a lot of the year bouncing around between various companies, startups and freelance gigs. I even took on a full time “job”, quit it 4 months later and applied for a couple of jobs in the late summer. It seemed that every month, I was doing a different thing, but none of it really felt ‘right.’ SUre it was all fun an interesting work, and I got to work with a lot of awesome pople, but it felt like something was missing. In late summer, I took a break from all of it, and came back to it a few weeks later with more clarity. I figured out that I work best on teams of contractors that are farily autonomous, yet connected on similar goals, values and work styles. I also like working on a variety of things, so to that end I’ve determined that an idea mix for me is 50-75% agency work, leaving 25%+ for “social impact” type work. I’m not doing tone of social impact work right now but hoping to change that in 2017
One unexpected highlight of 2016 was teaching a local developer bootcamp in the Okanagan.
It was at kilometer 58 and hanging on by a thread. Metaphors aside, I was physically grasping onto “threads” of grass/shrubs high on a steep muddy bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Both of my feet had just slipped out from under me, and the lower half of my body was quickly making a decent to the river below. I grabbed the grass in a last ditch attempt and to my absolute amazement, these tiny clumps held strong. In fact, I was so astonished that it took my brain a second to switch from “sh*t, we’re going into the river, prepare for the worst” to “holy crap, we might have a chance here!” I quickly dug the side lugs of my shoes into the mud below the trail and scrambled on hands and knees back up onto the trail.
Flashback to 8 hours before, there I was standing with 15 other runners in the drizzle beside the Starting Arch. My watch showed 2:57am and the Race Director was going through the last details of the course. “We’re going to have you go around Golfball Alley and Two Truck trail, apparently some 100-milers ended up in the river and there are no more branches to grab onto. I mean you can go on it if you really want to..”
Fast forward back to the “situation at 58km”, now that I was out of emergency mode, I could assess the situation. I likely wouldn’t have ended up all the way down in the river. But on tired legs after rolling/sliding down the hill, it would have been a bad/tough time getting back up to the trail, and maybe have been enough to mentally break me into dropping out. I nipped that thought in the bud, forged ahead and running over two.. golfballs.. on the trail. “That’s weird” I thought, and then it all sunk in. “crap, this is that Golfball trail they told us to avoid, shit shit shit” I thought to myself(out loud). A few of runners had missed the turn and now two of us were standing in front of a mud “halfpipe/chute” we had to cross. In the dry conditions it would have been a non-issue but with all the rain, “dodgy” was an understatement. The runner behind me looked at it, said “F this” and then disappeared into the bushes above the trail. I thought about my options and decided the risk of a race-ending trip down the chute was too high (I gave it 50/50 odds) and going back* was also too dodgy. I made the executive decision to abort this “alternative course” and seek the “boring-yet-safe course” through the residential area on the ridge. After bushwhacking through chest level shrubs, and a little jaunt beside a golf course (ahh, that explains the golf balls!) I was back on the course markings. Huge relief
The rest of east loop was much less eventful. From the top, I spotted Anthony Henday bridge off in the distance which marked 65km and the farthest I would be from the finish line on this loop. If I could make it there, I could make it to the finish line. The trail then dropped back down below the residential into fun flowy singletrack. It was great to get back to “easy” trail running and I started to forget the stress and frustration I had felt just minutes ago. There were a few memorable spots along the course that had this yin/yang effect on me. It would transition between progressively challenging (physical and mentally) that would just push and push and push me right to the breaking point, then suddenly switch gears into the most amazing time ever.
Cruising along the double track now, I finally made the bridge and had 15km remaining. Up to this race, my record for personal distance was 56km so I was setting a new PB with every step I took. At his point, I was doing quite a bit of walking but found some extra energy in the Terwillegar trail section. I hadn’t been on the trails here for a very long time, so it was neat to return to trails I had last seen in my high school days. Not to mention, it’s flat so that was a welcome bonus! Coming back to the Ribbon Bridge I spotted someone in a November Project shirt, someone familiar looking. Was it a hallucination, or my imagination? No, my friend Dave was there in the actual flesh, having tracked me down on Strava Beacon while out for a (much shorter, haha) run of his own. Little moments like this make such a difference, and after been in my own head for hours and hours, it was so great to see a familiar face in the flesh. Thanks again Dave!
Back on the other side of the river, I now had only 7km to go. I was trying not to think about the finish line. There was still work to be done. But I felt great, cruised along the trails at a stable pace and watched the distance tick away.
One thing I like about the back half of trail races is the “race solitude” that comes from the runners being spread out at this point. While I love the community aspect of races, a major reason I’m out there is to push myself and enjoy the wilderness. Even with the 100km and 100mi racers sharing the same course, I only saw 3 or 4 other runners during the entire back half. The motivation, support, and community of a race combined with the tranquility of just being out there running your own race is this weird dichotomy that I love immensely
Approaching the Rio Terrace Aid Station (77km), I could hear it before I could see it. Every race has at least one “extreme energy to the max all the time” aid station and I had just found it. The only thing that stood between me and it was.. the world’s largest staircase. “That’s a lot of steps” I said out loud to no one. But like a moth to a flame, the energy drew me up the stars to the top. Whoah, music, extreme dance party, neon pink, this one had it all. To the Rio Terrace volunteers: sorry I didn’t stay longer at your dance party, I had a race to finish! Rest assured your “energy extreme” was like a slingshot that fired me towards the finish line
The last 3.5km was kind of surreal. I reflected on all the things that had gone well.. And also all the little things I had overcome in the past 24 hours: The early start (I am not a morning person) The 3 hours of sleep I was running on( why did I go to bed so late, I’m so dumb). The chest congestion that returned and ensuing coughing fit for the entire 11 hour drive to Edmonton. The pouring rain for the first 3 hours of the race. I had overcome all of these and managed to keep moving for 11+ hours to cover almost 80k! As I crossed the finish line, I felt a mixture of fatigue, gratification & serenity. I had no idea what placement I was in, nor did it really matter. I had continually pushed myself through difficult & uncomfortable situations and made it out the other side. I had pushed myself to new mental, physical and emotional thresholds. This is why I run ultras. To push myself, get uncomfortable, and see what I can accomplish. And accomplish something today I did.
By the numbers
11 hours, 24 minutes, 12 seconds.
9000 calories burnt (according to Strava)
1347m elevation gain
10L of water
6 Berry Blast Probars
350g of Hammer Montana Huckleberry Gel (equivalent to ~12 gel packets)
7 Hammer Effervescent Electrolyte tabs
2 pairs of socks/shorts/shirts
2 golfcourse fairways skirted in commando-mode.
Thanks to all the organizers & volunteers that made this event happen, you guys rock! I can’t even begin to imagine how much work it would take. Thanks to my partner Charlotte for all the inspirational SMS messages along the way (“Only 20km left!!”) and to all my friends on Facebook/Instagram sending virtual cheers watching along the way. Thanks to my parents for showing up at the Finish Line (sorry that I ran past you, Mom!)
It’s giving Tuesday and I’m going to sweeten up the deal. Make a donation to a registered charity and I’ll randomly pick one and TRIPLE your donation. So you donate $100 and if yours gets picked, I’ll donate an additional $300. If you’ve been on the fence about what to do with all that money you didn’t spend on Black Friday, now is your chance.
Make your donation now and then post below (or message me)
1) The donation must be made between now and 10am PST Wed Nov 30
2) It must be to a registered charity
3) I will contribute up to $500
4) The draw is at 12pm PST Wed Nov 3
What makes a great developer? Are they great at MongoDB or iOS? Do they know how to use Promises, ES6 and React?
Maybe. Or Maybe not.
The tech industry places far too much importance on technical skills. Language, frameworks, and platforms come and go, but approach and behaviour is what separate the good from the great. .We need to shift focus and cultivate the soft skills in parallel with hands-on skills.
I’ve come up with a”Tao of being a great developer” to help bring these principles back into focus. It’s something that I strive to work by and I hope you can too.
Do the “right” thing (instead of just the “easy”, “cool” or “fun” thing)
This isn’t about taking the skipping out on shortcuts or avoiding new technologies. This is about paying attention and listening . This is about being honest with yourself in every action and decision you make
If there’s one group of people that can convince themselves they have to use technology X or methodology Y, it’s programmers. How many times has your team decided on the language before even starting a project? Have you met with a client, barely listening to their requirements while planning out the architecture in your mind?
Doing the right thing = being honest with yourself and putting the needs of the client and project ahead of your own.
Is <Framework X> really the right fit for the project? Or are you choosing it mainly to learn and add your resume (selfish reasons)?
WebSockets are cool and all but are they really the right choice for the customer’s blog product?
Ask yourself: “How will the end users benefit from this choice? How will <MongoDB> make the user’s experience more enjoyable and more reliable? How will deploying this to Amazon Web Services make this a better product that more people will want?”
This can be a really hard question to answer honestly without bias (Some youy may not even be aware of ). Play Devil’s Advocate in your own mind. Find others to do the same (especially ones that you know hold different views and will try and talk you out of it). This ability is what seperates good developers from great developers
Be confident, but humble.
If you’ve worked as a developer for some time, it’s pretty easy to let your successes go to your head. It’s human nature to be good at remembering our successes and forgetting our mistakes, oversights and bad decisions.
When doing your work, be confident enough in your experience but open-minded to other input and perspective. Listen to everyone: juniors, non-technical people, sysadmins, marketers, etc. Everyone has a different (and potentially valuable) perspective. Be comfortable with saying: “I don’t really know that technology well, but am confident I can figure it out.” or “I don’t feel comfortable that I’m the right guy for x, and just want to be up-front. But so-and-so is great at that, so lets loop him in”
I also want to call out is the bullshit technical debates that are (mostly) a waste of our time. We all have our preferences an choices, but getting into low-level, polarizing battles doesn’t help anyone. For example, NoSQL databases are a great idea for certain projects and a terrible idea for others. To say “I hate MongoDB, it’s crap” because of a single anecdotal experience doesn’t help anyone. It might have been the right tool at the time, or a client requirement or a million other things. Service X might be slow with millions of records but if its great for MVPs and that’s what your building, it might be the perfect choice. View anyone that issues blanket statements about a technology with a critical eye, especially if they don’t know the use case.
Solve problems instead of pointing fingers
We’ve all been in a meeting where something has gone wrong and the first thing to happen is fingers get pointed.
“This is DevOps fault, they should have been watching for those errors”
“This is the user’s fault, they shouldn’t be clicking the submit button twice”
Blame does nothing to help the user or the project or the client. The only thing that matters are the solution and outcomes.
A good developer is really good at owning their mistakes and fixing them
We’re all human and all make mistakes. It’s a surprisingly rare trait to openly admit a mistake (the sooner the better). Even better, propose a quick solution and a longer term one to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The blamers will eventually get outed as projecting their shortcomings onto other people. These people are toxic.
You either succeed as a team or fail as a team, there is no in between
To be a great developer, your personality and style matters just as much as your technical chops. You need to do the right things, and balance learning cool stuff with making the right choices. If you are confident and approach mistakes as a chance to become better, you are on the path to greatness.
You signed up for that Yoga class. You bought a (lightly used!) treadmill. You got the brochures for that trip you always wanted to take. But two month later, you’ve gone to one yoga class, have logged 5k on the treadmill and who knows where the brochures went.
Oh well, there’s always next year, right? Wrong.
Here’s a secret: You can set a resolution anytime, not just at an arbitrary day of the year where the earth happens to be in the same spot as it was 365.25 days prior.
This might surprise you, but those successful people you read about actually fail a lot. They probably have 10x the amount of failures as the do successful things. The difference though, is that they don’t get discouraged, they keep going. They take lessons from the failure and say “Okay, oops, I won’t do it that way again” and then use that to get better.
Maybe yoga just isn’t your thing. Or maybe you need to try a different variation (Bikram, Yin, Hatha, etc.). I like running now, but I used to hate it (but I’d do it twice a month anyway.) It was a task, a chore, something that needed to be done, something that I did to lose weight. Then last year I discovered trail running. Everything switched. Being outdoors and on the trails was what I needed for it to resonate with me. Now I can run 4 hours on the trail like it’s no big deal. I’m out in nature, seeing things, relaxing.. but also happen to be jogging at the same time. It no longer feels like work, but rather something I can’t not do. I run 2-3 times a week now.
Start things often. Fail at things often. The key to this though is that you have to start. Making excuses like “hmm, better luck next year” is the easy way out. Try something different, make more realistic goals, and set new “resolutions” for yourself continuously throughout your life, not just once a year.
I like doing fulfilling work. Fulfilling work to me is working for companies that are making a positive social impact in the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for these types of companies in the past. But I’ve also been fortunate to work as a well-paid contractor for companies that aren’t necessarily in the social space. Almost every time, they contract work pays better. (Sometimes twice as much).
So here’s the dilemma:
How do I as a person who gets (needs) fulfilment from his work balance the potential for high income with the desire to make the world a better place? Sometimes it seems like it’s one or the other.
I understand this is a good problem to have and very much a “first world” problem. However, there’s no denying that my happiness and mental health hinges on doing impactful work.
I have gone back and forth on this issue. On the one hand I think that I should focus only on doing impactful work and not worry about the money. On the flip-side, I could work 100% contract work and spend a majority of the surplus donating to causes or investing in impact companies. Or maybe I take on contract work 50% of the time, spending the rest of my time on passion projects where I don’t have to worry about the pay?
I haven’t really found the solution. I think maybe it lies somewhere between the two extremes? Is there a perfect mix? Or is there some solution I haven’t thought of?
I have the typical North American mindset about car ownership: I never really think about how much it costs, I approach driving as a “necessity” and that “it costs what it costs”. But a recent post by Chad Kohalyk on his 2 years of OGO Carshare data made me stop and think: “wait, what DOES driving cost me? I’ve always heard that car ownership costs Canadians $9000+ a year. Thats a lot of money. There’s no way I’m spending that, am I? I drive a small economical car but it can’t cost that much, can it? Can it!?”
Well lets ask the data.
Before going into that, I need to explain what a majority of my driving is. Very little of my driving is work-related since I work remotely. Most of my driving aside from the basics like grocery shopping, etc would be considered “recreational”. I drive to things like running clinics and community events in the evenings. I spend a lot of my weekends at places like the ski hill or on hiking trails. Its not unusual for me to drive 5 hours round-trip on a Saturday for a backcountry ski day or epic hike in the rockies. I drive to visit my family in Edmonton a couple of times a year, a round-trip trip of 2000km. In short, I log a lot of recreational highway distance. I also live ~20km out of town so even going to a coffee shop is a round trip of 40km. Also: I just like to drive. I like the freedom. If there’s a group of us going somewhere, I’m usually the one to drive.
So back to the data.
Luckily I track all of my fuel-ups in Fuelly so it’s pretty easy to extract cost data. In 2014 I drove 30,821km for a total spend of $6462. In 2015 I upped the distance to almost 39,000km for a cost of $7443. Holy crap, that’s a lot of money! However, its still within the range that Canadians spend on a car of similar size.
*Routine maintenance is oil changes, batteries, tires. Unexpected maintenance is the sudden failure of a part or anything outside of the expected life of a part. Depreciation is an estimate based on Kelly Black book and CanadaTrader values.
I need to drive less. It’s that simple. Thats pretty much the only cost left for me top optimize. I’m pretty diligent about my driving technique to keep fuel mileage as high as possible. I do a lot of the car maintenance myself. My car is paid off and is one of the most economical AWD small cars on the road There’s not much to optimize aside from distance
On that note, I hope to move into the city within the next year and that should cut down a lot on the distance to the grocery store, errands and coffee shops. Being within walking/biking distance will be huge. I hope this will reduce my mileage by 5-10,000km per year. Aside from that, I do find a lot of joy in weekend trips, but maybe I could optimize by having others drive or taking advantage of closer options. And one day I hope to become a member of a service like OGO Carshare to eliminate the need for a car for the “20km radius from home” trips.
I’ve been trail running since March of this year and have completed several “mountain” 25km runs but had never done a 50km. I had made it a goal this year to run a 50 but wasn’t really sure which race to do. It was while I was on a training run in Manning park that I had learned about the Frosty Mountain 50k. At first I was a little apprehensive about the elevation gain but after looking at the other 50k options in Western Canada, it seemdd about on par. I ramped up my training times and distance in addition to joining a trail running clinic to get advice on making the jump from 25k to 50. In addition to the races I worked up to a long runs of around 5 hours. I also pre-ran both halves of the course on two sepeprate weekends so I would know what to expect
I slept really well considering the nervousness I had felt all week. The temperature outside was perfect, 10C (10F) at 7am and no signs of rain. Perfect. I’m know to be an over-packer (over-prepared?) so I proceeded to go through my running pack and move some of the “in-case” items to the drop bag. I kept the hiking poles in my pack and filled up my water and was out the door.
We drove the 2km from Manning Park lodge to the start and I went through my gear once more. While I’m not one for peer pressure, I had a look around to see how other people were geared up. I was glad to see most people wearing shorts, compression socks and long sleeve shirts, since that was my choice for the day. I didn’t see anyone with hiking poles so I threw those into my drop bag (which I kind of regret since they don’t eight a lot and are great for the alpine). Looking around I had the biggest pack by far. I was actually surprised at how little some people had but I guess if you know the course and are confident in your training an aid stations, you can get away with that. Being my first 50k, & going into the alpine in late September, I wanted to have a little extra food and clothing just in case. This being my first, I brought a lot of “just in-cases” but still don’t feel like I over-packed. I had run with that load on my self-supported runs and was happy with my choices.
We lined up, and at the count of 3 were off and running. Since it was my first 50, I took it very slow and found my spot near the back of the pack. One thing everyone had said about the race was to not overdo the beginning since the elevation gain was so significant. I found a couple of people to chat with and settled in at around a 6min/k pace which was probably faster than I would have run solo. The first 2.5k was pretty flat so everyone just cruised along. But at the first hill the group broke up quite a bit and spread out. I found my temp and just plugged along and the Suunto showed a 6:15 finish time (I was shooting for 7-8hrs). The first section of the trail follows the final stretch of the PCT (Pacific Crest trail) and we saw quite a few backpackers coming down. I wondered to myself if any of them were in their final hour of a 2 month (or longer hike) from the southern US. That an entirely different endurance challenge in it’s own right.
At 7km we hit the first aid station, a hike-in one that was fairly simple. I haven’t really figured out what to do at these stations so I just kind of stare at the selections and if my body craves anything I go for it.( In hindsight I should have more of a plan but I’ll get to that later) It was still early in the race and I had my own food so I had a couple of pretzel sticks and kept going. I was feeling great, and the trail levelled out and rolled through a mixed forest full of fall colours. As the trail gained elevation, the pack dispersed and I was running without anyone ahead or behind me for quite some distance. This is the part I enjoy about trail running the most. You can bask in solitude and the sounds of your breathing/steps but you do feel like you aren’t all alone if something goes awry. As the trail gained altitude it broke above tree line and became a rocky exposed slope. I had never run this side of Frosty before (our training run was an out and back on the Lightning Lake side) so I was actually quite surprised at how technical the trail got near the top. By now the racers in front were visible again and at a walking pace clambering up the rocks to the summit. Mt Frosty was shrouded in mist and there was a cool wind coming down from the top. This is not a place I would want to be caught in during bad weather, so I was glad I had brought extra clothing (even if I didn’t need to use it). At the high point of the race, people were posing for photos in front of the signpost, so I snapped a quick photo and was on my way back down.
Km 17-27 Back to reality, Oh, there goes gravity.
At this point I mentioned to another racer (who had run in previous years) that I was glad the hard climb was over. His response was despite Skyline being 400m less elevation gain, its the harder of the two because it just keeps going and going. In my training runs I had run Skyline (on fresh legs) so I kind of dismissed this as his personal opinion, but in hindsight it was ominus foreshadowing (more later). He was having IT band issues so I thanked him for the tips and was on my way. After about 300m of rocks, it was back on the dirt trail and I picked up the pace on the rolling decent. The rolling trail through the subalpine made for a really great running. This was singletrack at its finest.. The smells, the colors, the downhill, it all jived. My watch said 19km and I felt like I could run another 100. The km flew by and before I knew it, I was at the 30km aid station. I did the usual “stare at the choices, grab some of this n that” (pretzels and coke this time) and was on my way. I picked up the pace but after a few close calls with some roots (catching myself just in time to prevent a faceplant), I decided to slow it down a bit. On the way down, there were a few openings in the tress and I glanced over at the Skyline ridge across the valley. “See you in an a couple hours” I thought to myself. After 3:45 I popped out at the 27km aid station which is bascially at the start/finish line of the race. Out of the wilderness and back into reality. The volunteer were super shipper and my girlfriend was there with my drop bag all ready to go in addition to a turkey/bacon/brie sandwich. “So what have you been up to the past 4 hours?” I asked her. I was in great spirits and actually took some time to chat while I ate and got organized for the 2nd half. The last thing I wanted to do was rush through everything and do something dumb like forget my food. I topped up my water, mixed my electrolyte mix, grabbed my second food supply from the drop bag and ditched the running tights I had carried to the top and back. A peck on the cheek and I was off again, at the 3:49 mark.
Km 27- The Bonk
The 2nd half of the course started off much like the first. Nice rolling singletrack bit this time it was alongside lightning lake. I passed another runner (the last racer I would pass) and was feeling energized again. As I glanced at my watch it showed an estimated finish of 7:12. Perfect, its all going to plan. And then I hit the 2nd hill. I ran up it for a bit but this was a much different hill than on the training run.. The “run mostly, walk a bit” that I was able to do on my training run turned into mostly walk with a bit of running. I plugged along but was definitely feeling the exhaustion setting in. I slowed down, took a big gulp of water & eLoad mix and kept going. I was able to run the less steep parts but everything else required walking. I glanced at my watch to see the elevation gain. 150m (out of 800m) . Crap. Keep going. Plug along. My mind was doing less drifiting off and more obsessing about the distance. I glanced at my watch often. 34km, just need to make it to the 34km aid station. I think I ate my Stinger waffle somewhere on the climb but don’t remember. While I was drinking a lot, I was so focused on the climb/distance that I forgot about eating. It was at this point that I also realized a poking sensation in my left foot. I tried to wiggle it around and determined my toenail was coming off. We’ll deal with this later I thought.
Climbing a bit more I made it above the 500m part where the trees start to open up. It seemed way easier last time. “I just need to make it to the aid station at 34km. Focus on that.” Suddenly there it was (at km 32 instead of 34). My first order of business should have been fuel but instead I yanked my shoe off and proceeded to fight to get my compression sock off. Once i did, lo and behold my toenail was fine, it was just rubbing a bit on the other toe. Cool. I got things back together and once again did my “ummmm, hmm” approach to the aid station and grabbed some pretzels. “We have lots of candy too” the guy said, but I said no thanks and moved on. The reason I kept going for the pretzels was in the training run my left calf cramped up really badly from what I figured was a lack of electrolytes/salt. So in the race I guess my mind was so focused on preventing salt loss that I didn’t think enough about basic sugars and fuel. Lesson learned. Off I went up along Skyline stealing glances over Frosty where just 2 hours ago things were just dandy. It seemed like forever ago. I was stopping to rest more and more. As I got over each hill another one appeared off in the distance. Swear words were used. My mind was just so focused on getting to the top that I forced myself to keep going at ay pace I could. I drank a bit and ate half a food bar along the way but was just completely focused on watching the km # on my watch tick by ever so sloowly. By now the finish time was approaching 8 hours..
Right before a big push to the top I stopped and sat at the side of the trail. My mind was starting to become less “in the moment” and more just.. numb. It was at this point (km 32) where I started to wonder if I was going to finish. I wasn’t out of breath but it was getting harder and harder to move and to convince myself to get moving after stopping. I was moving at maybe 4km an hour and still had 18km to go. In my mind, I had bitten off more than I could chew and wasn’t an ultra-runner. I was failing. I didn’t know this at the time, but I had bonked. I pulled out my phone to look at the track from last time to see how far along the ridge I was from where it starts to go down. It wasn’t even half way. Swear words. Exhaustion. I still had 4km to go after the upcoming 100m climb. Crap. I started to plan my exit. Do I go back to the last aid station and tell them I’m done? Do I go forward and hope I can make it to aid station 42? That was still 9km away. I very much doubted my ability to get down either way. If there had been an easy way to drop at this moment I would have FOR SURE.
I decided I would make one more attempt at going forward. “Relentless forward progress” I said to myself and got up and attacked the final climb. Attacked might be too strong of a word, I plodded up wondering if I was going to pass out. At the top I didn’t even stop to admire the view like. I just walked. I walked and walked and then I would stop. At the brief downhill I started to jog but only kept that up for about 30 seconds or so. I cant even run downhill. This is bad. Crap, there’s another hill, I forgot about this part. I guess thats what the guy at the top of Frosty meant by the 2nd half being harder. Its all coming together. I plodded along the ridge walking and stopping a lot and generally getting depressed at my progress. I would stop and look up and see stars. At some point I did have the rest of the Kind bar I had opened up on the climb up but it didn’t have enough simple sugars to unbonk me. I started to worry about myself and my mental state. I was started to fade mentally. It was getting really hard to keep moving at all. The other thing freaking me out was that I hadn’t seen any other runners since leaving the 27km aid station. I knew I was on the right trail but it just really freaked me out. If I had more blood sugar I might have gone into full-blown panic. I’m going so slow, how was nobody else able to catch up to me? What if I pass out? What if I fall off a cliff? What the heck am I doing up here in this mental state?
I sat down again. For some reason I dug deep into the food pocket on my bag and behind my last food bar there was an e-Load gel there. I’m not a big fan of gels but it was a freebie that I had thrown into the pocket after a race. Wait, isn’t the golden rule not to try any new foods on race day? I cracked it open and forced it down, thinking if I was going to be out here for hours, I might as well use all the food I have. I plodded along the ridge again doing my “walk a bit, try running, back to walking” and suddenly heard voices back in the distance. I stopped and they were gone. Great, now I’m having auditory hallucinations I thought But I heard them again and saw way off behind me two people making their way down. Okay, so we’re not hallucinating, uncheck that as one of the many problems we’re facing. I continued along the ridge for another 5 mins or so and suddenly I was at the junction to the trail back down. 38km mark. “Okay, just 4km more and I’ll be at the aid station and can regroup and lie down and figure out how to get to the finish.”
Km 38-50 The comeback Along the ridge my runaway mind had been intensely focusing on the logistics of getting me from the aid station to the finish line. It had car access but would anyone be able to drive me? I hiked up the short hill at the junction but then hit the downhill and was able to turn the walking in jogging again. Five minutes into the downhill and ten minutes after taking the gel it was like a lightswitch went back on. I was cruising down the trail and knew I would more than likely make it to the aid station under my own power and before dark. I thought to myself: “Holy crap, that gel saved my life”. This part of the trail was like the Frosty side, incredible single track through mixed forest and best of all it was the perfect grade of downhill. I spent less time looking at the distance on my watch and more looking around and really enjoying the trail again. “Holy crap, I’m back into it.” Before I knew it, I was at 42km and suddenly realized that this was a marathon distance. I had never run this far before. “I just ran a marathon!” I yelled out to no one in particular. It was also at this point that I thought “I might actually finish this thing!” I tried not to get too excited about that. Wait, isn;t the aid station supposed to be at km 42? Where is it? At km 43 i ran out of water. I wasn’t too alarmed but also didn’t want to run another 7km without any fluids. Thankfully I rounded a corner at km44 and there it was. It was great to see people again. I topped up my 600ml water bottle, had some coke and Oreos (learning my lesson from the top) and was off. “7km to go” the volunteer said as I looked again at my watch: 44.1 +7 equals… more than 50…
I remembered this part of the trail from my training run. While its rolling double track in the forest, it was something that kind of went on and on. Thankfully, I kind of zoned out and the km just seemed to roll by. “Holy crap I’m going to make it” I kept thinking. “Easy, you still have to finish, don’t trip or do anything dumb” I said to myself. At the final km through Lightning Lake campground, I got really excited. So excited that I missed the flagging tape. Twice. I was in autopilot mode (following the route we ran on the training run which was not the exact course). Thankfully on both occasions there were campers/strangers around me aware enough of the race to let me know I was off-course. Thank you kind strangers.. I rounded the final corner back to the start line and was greeted by music from a really loud sound system in the day use area. “Wow, thats surprising for a race of this size” I thought as the trees opened up and I spotted a bridge and groom walking down the aisle of an outdoor wedding. Orange pylons led me around the wedding-in-progress and the finish line was now in sight. I picked up the pace, rounded the final corner and passed through the finish line, greeted by the other finishers and my lady. I was officially an ultramarathoner.
TL;DR: Started a 50k race, went great, didn’t eat enough simple carbs, hit the wall, powered through and finished