Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Things

I'm ready for 2012, but looking back, it has been a good running year.


Entered a new age group.

Finally started racing again, and was very nervous.

Started running with an iPod occasionally.

Discovered how much fun hiking poles are to use.

Slept high.

Raced high.

Got stitches.

Ran my first 50 miler.

Traveled far.

Hiked/ran my first 100k. (Report should be up soon.)

Started thinking about a 100 miler.

Ran new trails around here, a bit farther north and a lot farther north.

Ended the year with fewer toenails than ever.

Found a new favourite shoe.

My good friend Quantums after 76.6 hours of use, with a bit of residual Hong Kong dirt.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Taiwan and Hong Kong Photos

Here is the link to my trip photos. It will take me longer to put words down, but will try to do it over the weekend.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Return, Rest

I'm back from my trip to Taiwan and Hong Kong, and will be posting details of our Trailwalker 100k and a photo gallery in the next day or two. It was an incredible trip, with so many vivid memories floating through my brain right now it is hard to capture it all in my still-very-tired state.

After three exhausting races in the past four months, I'm enjoying a few solid days of rest and then will be starting to think about what races I want to do next year. Generally I'm looking forward to some snowshoe races this winter, and definitely a 50 miler (or possibly two) next year, along with some 50k's and who knows, maybe even the odd road race to try to work on some leg speed a bit. It's fun to think of the possibilities. Mostly I just want to get in some consistent training, build the volume, and resume the workouts where I left off two weeks ago.

From this on the MacLehose Trail, Hong Kong.....

.... to this my first day back to work.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our U.S. friends.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Half a World Away


I'm heading out for Taiwan and Hong Kong later today.

Our Trailwalker 100k (on Nov 18th) team number is 1000 (easy to remember), and there may be live tracking. See link from this page (part way down).

Deb cooked up this brilliant poem for me after I asked her about her success at sleeping on long flights.

Super tired I must be,
Before I can catch any zee's.
Movies till my eyes feel sandy,
Not tired yet?
How 'bout some brandy!

When you arrive at point B,
Do you want to be awake or sleepy?
With the local time
On your watch and brain
The trip should be sublime.

I'll try to post pictures and some words while I'm away, and will be back in Canada on the 21st. Looking forward to snowshoe running season after soaking in a big dose of heat while away.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jones Creek - New Trails!

On Saturday we did a trail run at Jones Creek Trails, part of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park. The park is made up of 20 islands and various mainland parcels stretching from Kingston to Brockville along the St. Lawrence River. Jones Creek has a network of 16 km of singletrack trails that are extremely well-marked and maintained. The trails are very technical with rocks and roots, and with the fallen leaves it was a bit tedious in sections. It was fun exploring along winding creeks and ridges, all under an incredible variety of tree types. We're planning on returning in the winter as the trails would be perfect for snowshoeing.

We found these trails on the website Explore the Arch. You can find detailed maps of many local trail networks on the site, along with tons of useful information and inspiration for future outings.

Jones Creek access point off of the Thousand Islands Parkway at Mallorytown.
Another beautiful autumn day in Canadian Shield country.
Leaves everywhere! We'd like to move into that cabin.
A meandering creek seen from a ridge-top lookout.
This guy looks right at home here.
Very long bridge spanning marsh and creek.
Across the Parkway from Jones Creek Trails. The land on the far side is NY.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Snack Cakes Anyone?

Next up on the race calendar is the big trip, with a big race.

I am still recovering, and am getting a little frustrated because I'm mentally ready to train, but it is hard to train and recover at the same time. Hopefully by next week everything will be further along.

In the meantime, I'm starting to think more and more about TrailWalker, and looking forward to meeting the half of our team who I don't know. From emailing, I think we're all going to get along just great and have a lot of fun. (You know, in a painful, sleep-deprived, glycogen-depleted kind of way.)

Since it will be Deb's 40th birthday on race weekend, and she is our intrepid leader, our team name is fittingly Lil' Deb and the Snackcakes...with the rest of us being Deb's Snackcakes. Kristina came up with the following names for us:

Deb - Lil' Deb
Kim - Honey Buns
Kristina - Fancy Cakes
Me - Nutty Bar

Kim has set up a Facebook page for us, and the race site provides a donation page for our team, with all proceeds going to Oxfam. If anyone feels inclined to contribute to this great organization in our name, we would all greatly appreciate that. (Note, the funds go directly to Oxfam, they do not in any way fund our race/trip.)

Deb is working on getting shirts for us, with a logo that Kristina is developing. It will be fun to have a team shirt to inspire us.

All three of my teammates were in Hong Kong last weekend for a training trip to check out the hardest parts of the trail. It sounds like it is going to be a hot, humid race, so we'll have to load up on electrolytes, changes of clothing, and body glide.

As for me....I've been de-conditioning while I pamper sore feet and hips, rapidly acclimating to cooler weather, and I still haven't tried out the hiking poles. I better start getting my act together.
100 km Maclehose Trail, Hong Kong
Finally, there is a TrailWalker event in Canada now. It's on the Ganaraska Hiking Trail in Ontario, and will be in its second year in mid-July, 2012.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Near North

We spent last weekend up near Sudbury for Taylor and Kim's wedding. It was a beautiful wedding and the natural setting suited the extremely outdoorsy and athletic couple perfectly. Everyone had a great time. The leaves have already turned up there, and we had the opportunity to carve out a couple of trail runs while we were in the area to enjoy the rugged beauty.

Here are a few pics of the running parts of the weekend, featuring Grundy and Mashkinonje Provincial Parks. The parks are in the category of Near North, and it sure felt a lot more north than we are (in a good way). Grundy had a couple of very pretty short loops that were perfect after a long day of driving to stretch out the legs and back. Mashkinonje is a new park, and the trails are still so untrodden in some places that the moss underfoot was inches thick. My shoes sunk in like it was snow. I felt kind of bad for stepping in it, but it was a treat to run in such a single-track heaven. Justin joined us for this run, and we all had a lot of fun. Neither park was very hilly like nearby Killarney Prov Park is, which I was happy about because I'm not quite recovered enough for that yet.

Beaver Dams Trail, Grundy PP

Swan Lake Loop, Grundy PP

Swan Lake looking very pretty

Mashkinonje Provincial Park Trails (Click for high res version)

Justin and Derrick cruise through the moss on Heron Trail, Mashkinonje PP


Moss or snow?

Peeking out at the West Arm of Lake Nipissing

They aren't currently trail running, but I couldn't resist.

Friday, September 16, 2011

TransRockies Run Race Report at

The reason we had the opportunity to go to TransRockies this year in the first place was by winning a contest for a free team entry from Bryon Powell (Mr. iRunFar) asked us to write something about the race, and he just posted our report.

If you're new to iRunFar, be sure to poke around, subscribe to the emails or feeds, and even request a cool bumper sticker (like the logo below), or shop for some of the coolest gear in the sport. When a marquee race is coming up in the world of ultrarunning, chances are that the iRunFar team is there covering it from all angles.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Postscript on TransRockies and Haliburton

Lots of photos taken on Hope Pass

The last several hours of Haliburton, and for many, many, many hours after, my mantra was 'never again'. I said it with anger and enthusiasm to anyone who would listen! Since then, after some good rest, my mindset has shifted to that of enjoying the recovery and looking back with satisfaction at having raced two challenging races in the last month. I look forward to using these races as stepping stones, and to being better prepared to not suffer as much along the way next time. (It's gotta get easier, right??)

Did the altitude tent help? I get asked that a lot. For me (adaptations vary widely among individuals) I think it helped significantly at TransRockies to allow me to use what fitness I had without being nearly as debilitated by the thin air as I would have been. For high altitude races I think it would be hugely beneficial for anyone to try. As for increasing my actual baseline may have helped marginally, but not in any way that makes me feel like I have taken a leap to another level. I wish it was that easy (actually that's not true, it would erase what I love about running), but the only thing that has ever made ME feel on another level is increased mileage. It is the only thing that I find brings about significant changes; everything else is just the small stuff. Small stuff is good, and it can certainly all add up to elevate the big stuff, but the big stuff has to be taken care of first. If you're maxing out training and looking for that slight bit of an edge, I think that's where it would be useful. And as mentioned, everyone is different. It was definitely an interesting thing to have had the opportunity to try.

What's Next? It's somewhat tempting to look for a trail race in October, but I'm not going to. I have my big trip and big 100K in November to look forward to, and my priority is to be healthy and rested for that. I'm excited to soon get back to some good training after a bit more rest, and to start sprinkling in some hiking with poles, as that will help for Trailwalker. We're planning to hike most of the way, with a bit of running mixed in here and there to shake up our muscles. Aside from a couple of hikes a year and a good amount of uphill hiking recently at TransRockies, I don't really have much to draw on in this department. I'm so excited to finally get to be out all night in a race (umm, remind me I said this later D?), and as Derrick so helpfully pointed out, the time on the legs will be invaluable experience should I ever choose to do a 100 miler. [NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!]

Other than that, I'm really excited to see what Derrick decides to race next. He's been sifting through some very appealing options. There are so many cool races out there!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Haliburton 50 Miles

Just a quick race report for the Haliburton 50M. The year I turned 30 I ran my first marathon, so it was a nice bookend to finish my first 50 Miler ten years later. The timing was a bit close to TransRockies, but there are no other options for me this year, so with a good weather forecast, I took the leap of faith that it would work out.

Things started off well, and I got to the turnaround a bit before 5 hours (maybe 4:40ish; can't remember the exact time as I didn't take splits), and knew it was going to be a long way back from there as I was already getting pretty tired. I got a mental lift on the corduroy trail after AS 6 (the part of the trail that everyone hates but I loved) but then gradually entered a death shuffle over the next section and by AS 4 when I saw Derrick. I was sad for him that he dropped, but know he will make up for it soon. It was comforting to look forward to seeing him at the remaining aid stations. The last loop around Macdonald Lake and back to base took me almost 2 hours, which killed my (admittedly long-shot) idea of breaking 10 that had come into my brain somewhere along the way. By that point I didn't care, and was really happy with 10:16:28.

It was good to be back at Haliburton, for the most part the trails are fun, technical, soft, and beautiful. No mountains, but the endless rolling hills take their toll by the end. I swore off (up and down and repeatedly) anything longer than a 50K from now on (okay, after Hong Kong, Deb), but of course our stupid minds always try to talk us back into it. We'll see.

I had a lot of the typical GI troubles in trying to figure out the fine balance of nutrition. I think I fueled a bit too much in the first-half (for what I could handle), and too little at the end. I'd switch to a liquid fuel by the end if I could do-over. My quads are very sore, and I took the elevator up to my 2nd floor office this morning. :)

My trusty Quantums that got me through TransRockies were a great choice again for this (dry trail) year at Hali, and I used a single UD holder except for AS 5 to AS 4 on the way back where I added a handheld.

It was great to see everyone back at the Forest, to share all the good, bad and ugly. As usual, it was mind blowing to see the physical and mental strength of the 100 milers. Truly amazing. KO, you rock.

Thank you to the one-and-only Helen Malmberg and her amazing crew.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

TransRockies Quick Recap

We finished TransRockies, and we even finally made it home despite Irene. We ended up in 6th in the masters mixed category. A full race report will be going up on in the next week or so. It was a really tough challenge for me, and I'm happy to have gotten through it. All our orginal flights were cancelled both ways, and a gash on my hand requiring stitches on Day 3 made for a bit of a bigger challenge than we bargained for. TRR will forever re-calibrate my assessment of hilly runs. Beautiful scenery, amazing people, and satisfying finishes made the hard parts all worth it. Thanks to friends and family for your good wishes.

A few photos: Climbing Hope Pass; Derrick's prescription of milkshake after my medical visit; Ribbons of singletrack way up high - it doesn't get any better than that; Enjoying the views on the run; Another view; Finishing felt so good.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Marathon vs Ultra

The Conservative Marathon Mindset

The Audacious Ultra Approach

Respect the distance

The longer the better

Build up your race distance gradually

Jump into a 100 miler after a year of running

Typical max of 2 marathons per year

Typical max of 2 ultras per month

Taper is good (or a necessary evil)

Taper?? Huh?? Why would you want to do that?

Possibly a gel at mile 18

300 calories an hour

White shoes

Colourful shoes

Light and fast

Strong and steady

It's all about the mile splits

It's all about getting to the next aid station

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ready to taper?!

Usually I'm very ready to take a break and reduce training to rest up before a race, but this time I'm in serious denial about how close Transrockies is creeping up. I would love to have several more weeks to prepare. I just now feel ready to start ramping up the miles, which aren't nearly where I'd like them to be going into a race of 120 mountain miles over 6 days.

Considering my early summer foot issue, I was lucky to get in a sort-of-decent amount of running, it could have ended up much worse. I did a lot of extras (the big one being altitude of course, but also strength, biking, yoga, barefoot running). Still, miles are miles and nothing can replace them in my opinion.

On top of lower mileage that I had hoped for, we didn't end up going in any races, we didn't run up any mountains, and I even had to give up the treadmill uphill runs due to the foot.

So.........while I'm not super confident in my training, at least I'm not broken down and burnt out.

TransRockies should be a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to a week where all we have to do is run a ton on trails, eat, relax, meet a bunch of trail runners, and gawk at pretty scenery.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The place to live

An excerpt from A. J. Mandell, 1977:

The first thirty minutes are tough, old man. Creaks, twinges, pain, and stiffness. A counterpoint of breathless, painful self-depreciation. Like driving a mule. You brain-heavy jerk. Keep going! Challenged, I smile with pride and follow my orders. The first thirty minutes hurt until the body gets the message that you're serious.

Thirty minute out, and something lifts. Legs and arms become light and rhythmic. My snake brain is making the best of it. The fatigue goes away and feelings of power begin. I think I'll run twenty-five miles today. I'll double the size of the research grant request. I'll have that talk with the dean...

Then, sometime into the second hour comes the spooky time. Colors are bright and beautiful, water sparkles, clouds breathe, and my body, swimming, detaches from earth. A loving contentment invades the basement of my mind, and thought bubbles without trails. I find the place I need to live if I'm going to live. The running literature says that if you run six miles a day for two months, you are addicted forever. I understand. A cosmic view and peace are located between six and ten miles of running. I've found it everywhere....

After the run I can't use my mind. It's empty. Then a filling begins. By afternoon I'm back into life with long and smooth energy, a quiet feeling of strength, the kind wisdom afforded those without fear, those detached yet full.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Super cautious return to barefoot runs

I did a lot of short barefoot runs two years ago, and my feet benefited greatly from the extra strengthening. With being injured last year, I let that part of my training go, and had intended to get back to it this summer. Then I started having some plantar fascia issues, so I thought I had better hold off. But after reading this post, I decided to add it to my physio regimen and carefully try to do some grass barefoot runs to see if it would help. I asked my physiotherapist about it, and she agreed that as long as I was careful, to go ahead.

So, here's how I progressed with it: (all done in bare feet on grass, at end or in middle of a run)
Jun 18 - walk 5 minutes
Jul 3 - 2 x 2 min, with1 min walk (i.e. recovery between)
Jul 5 - 3 x 2 min, with 1 min walk
Jul 7 - 4 x 2 min, with 1 min walk
Jul 10 - 4 x 3 min, with 1 min walk
Jul 13 - 5 min, 3 min, 3 min, with 1 min walk
Jul 19 - 10 min
Jul 22 - 15 min

So it took me a month to get to 10 minutes of continuous running, but it is always better to be extremely patient with adding barefoot, even without a sore foot. With having tightness in the PF, I knew I could make things a lot worse if I did too much, so it wasn't hard to hold back and make sure it was helping, not hurting. I had three physio treatments for my PF as well, and am feeling quite good about how things are coming along. I'll probably do another 15 minute barefoot run next time, before hitting 20 minutes and then holding it at that level after that. For what I want out of it (injury prevention in the form of stronger feet, stretching out the achilles and calves, and a bit of help with form) I think that is enough time. Occasionally I might do 30 minutes, but that's about it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trip to Asia!

It's officially confirmed...I'm going to Taiwan and Hong Kong in November!! This has been in the works for a few months, but I didn't want to say anything until the decision was made for sure and my flights were booked. Talk about going out of my normal realm and comfort zone; it took time for me to process the thought of going so far from home. I've wrapped my head around it now, and I'm really excited.

This came about because my best friend Deb invited me to take part in the Oxfam Trailwalker Hong Kong 100K race along with two other friends of hers, so I'll be celebrating the year of my 40th on and around her actual 40th birthday while doing this event! We go way back, Deb and I, and she's one of those miracle friends who know you more than you know yourself and likes you anyway. It will be a very memorable way to celebrate her birthday with her this year.

Deb and her husband Dan have been living in Taiwan for eight years now, and I will be spending the first part of my trip staying with them. It will be so cool to see the life they have there. They work for a little sporting goods company you may have heard of, or maybe you've even used their stuff at some point while you were Just Doing Something.

Then we will go to Hong Kong where the race is, and have an adventure as our team of four navigates the MacLehose Trail that winds along the coast and over mountains of Hong Kong for 100 km. I'm looking forward to meeting Deb's friends Kristina and Kim and spending some quality trail time as a team. (Get this: Kim is the world record holder for the 24-hour inline skate!) Obviously I'll be writing a lot more about everything in the months to come.

Earlier this year, feeling a bit of weight from just turning 40 I guess, I started experiencing a very deep desire to see more of this world, and was looking forward to a few years down the road when we would have more time and energy to put towards that. I guess life goes at its own schedule though, and within weeks of feeling that shift in myself I had won the entry to TransRockies from iRunFar, and then Deb asked me about this Hong Kong trip. I read somewhere recently that often we go right up to the edge of our comfort zone but then ultimately don't take that final committing step over the line. Was life maybe asking if I was serious?

Thank you D, for this incredible opportunity, and for helping me navigate that uncomfortable last step to committing to it. Travelling all over the world for you is normal, but you've been your ever patient and positive self in dealing with my less-adventurous self.

I'm lucky enough to have had another Debbie to talk it over with, my sister-in-law, who is also an extreme world traveler and equally patient and positive. I so appreciate your excitement and encouragement, Debbie. It helps me to see stuff through your eyes.

And Derrick, I cherish that we support each others dreams. Vote for Pedro.

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's the DEWPOINT!!!

From this Running Times article on hot weather running.

It's Not the Heat, Nor the Humidity....It's the dew point.

50–54 (10-12C)Very comfortable
PR conditions
55–59 (13-15C)ComfortableHard efforts likely not affected
60–64 (16-18C)
Uncomfortable for some peopleExpect race times to be slower than in optimal conditions
65–69 (18-20C)Uncomfortable for most peopleEasy training runs might feel OK but difficult to race well or do hard efforts
70–74 (21-23C)Very humid and uncomfortableExpect pace to suffer greatly
75 or greater (24+C)
Extremely oppressiveSkip it or dramatically alter goal

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Staying positive?

I was excited to run Finger Lakes 50k this coming Saturday, but now just a few days out it's become questionable how doable this might be. I'm trying to stay positive that things turn around, but at this point: (a) my foot, while much improved, is still a question mark for beyond a couple of hours; (b) I've had a nasty chest infection for over a week now (same one I've had several times since last October; went to dr yesterday, finally); and (c) the forecast for Ithaca says high of 34 with humidex 42 on Saturday. If those were in Fahrenheit I'd be thrilled, but no, that's Celcius of course. Ick. And now, to top it off, (d) Derrick is fighting something, which doesn't affect my race, but just sucks.

There's a good chance I'll be dropping down to the 25k (as long as they let me, which I'm sure they will.) That seems like the smart thing to do, and might be more than enough 'fun' on the day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Good Article on Barefoot Running as Therapy

Getting rid of Achilles and Plantar problems with barefoot running | Camille Herron

I am enjoying Camille's blog, it has a ton of useful info. This article is particularly timely for me right now, and I'm posting it for anyone else who might find it useful.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Full Circle

My plantar fascia felt great for two days after the big stretch from yoga, and then I did an uphill treadmill run and set it way back again. I saw my physio Stacee yesterday, and she figured out pretty quickly that it was my soleus that was very tight and causing the trouble in my PF. This was the calf muscle I pulled during Finger Lakes 50k in 2009, and the scar tissue has just been sitting there and not allowing full, correct mobility. It is interesting that I’m going into the same race in less than three weeks, and dealing now with the fallout from it two years ago.

She did a lot of soft tissue work on my PF and calf (owwch) and gave me a modification to the bent-knee calf stretch to target the soleus muscle in the correct way (my body had been compensating and bending inward). It’s good to get this addressed right down to the root of the problem. I’ve felt tenderness in my calf a few times and wondered about it, so it all makes perfect sense to me. I have some tendonopathy in the big toe knuckle of that foot too which should also calm down when this all resolves. Stacee, who is also just over 40 and very active, jokingly shared her personal acronym for having to deal with this kind of thing: A.G.E. J

The uphill tempo was great though. Right now I can handle more than before Rock and Ice, so I’m very pleased with that. It’s kind of a mystery to me actually, but I like it. Maybe I'm just fresher going into the workouts. Maybe I'm dreaming of Colorado.

Here’s my progression of uphill treadmill workouts this spring, if anyone is interested. My personal preference is to keep the speed constant for each workout and vary the incline only. I also topped out at 10° to keep the majority of time in the comfortably hard (tempo) range and also to keep good form. (Note the indicates minutes, as in deg/min/sec, not feet, ha).

For those who aren’t workout geeks, please skip right ahead to the rest of your day! J

Feb 17
(w/u for 15’)
4’ @ 5°
1’ @ 0°
4’ @ 6°
1’ @ 0°
4’ @ 5°
1’ @ 0°
1’ each @ 5°, 6°, 5°, 6°
(c/d for 15’)

Mar 3
(w/u for 20’)
5’ each @ 5°, 6°
1’ @ 0°
5’ each @ 7°, 8°
(c/d for 15’)

Mar 8
(w/u for 20’)
5’ @ 6°
2’ @ 0°
5’ @ 7°
1’ @ 0°
5’ @ 8°
1’ @ 0°
1’ each @ 6°, 7°, 8°, 9°, 10°
2’ @ 0°
1’ each @ 6°, 8°, 10°
(c/d for 18’)

Mar 18
(w/u for 20’)
5’ each @ 7°, 8°, 7°, 8°
(c/d for 15’)

Jun 1
(w/u for 21’)
10’ @ 5°
5’ @ 6°
1’ @ 7°
4’ @ 5°
(c/d for 10’)

Jun 8
(w/u for 10’)
5’ each at 5°, 6°, 7°, 8°
1’ each at 6°, 8°, 6°, 9°, 6°, 10°, 6°, 9°, 6°, 8°
(c/d for 10’)

If you’re still here, you’re a workout geek.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Um, where did May go? Looking back on it, training went well, with several long runs, increased volume overall, and even some ugly interval workouts. Next up for racing is Finger Lakes 50k on July 2nd. This is the race we did two years ago when most of the course was calf-deep in mud. It would be a relatively fast course if it were dry; I'm hoping for dry trails and dry air, how great would that be. I haven't done a 50k since that race actually, so I'm planning to get a few more good weeks and long runs before a decent taper.

My plantar fascia has been a bit sore the past several weeks, but after a good stretch yesterday doing some yoga, it feels fantastic today. I walked down the stairs normally this morning for the first time in a while. I was trying everything except stretching for it, but obviously that is what it needed. I'll happily add that stretch to my physio stuff.

After Finger Lakes is TransRockies in Colorado in late August, thanks to a contest for a team entry that I won from Derrick and I will run as a team for six days over beautiful trails in the mountains near Leadville. I'm glad we got a taste of Colorado running last summer so we know sort of what to expect from the altitude. We're both so excited about it, and incredibly grateful to have gotten in to the race thanks to IRF.

I never did get to see the coyote pups that Derrick found on a nearby trail (not for lack of trying), but on the last long run at Frontenac I did see a gigantic moose print which my entire hand fit inside of. I've never seen a moose or a print before, so I found it pretty amazing. And then just tonight on our run, we were rounding a corner and saw the biggest bear either of us has ever seen. It was absolutely massive. I had no idea black bears around here could get that BIG, and it made my heart jump out of my body, and when it returned it was pumping about 20 beats faster of pure primal adrenaline. Thankfully it was already darting into the bushes, but not before we got a great view of it maybe 15 metres away from us. What an amazing sight!!!! I hope he is a wise old guy who knows to stay safely hidden away in the woods.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Slide Lake Loop

This is a slideshow of our long run yesterday (thanks to Derrick and Mac). Slide Lake Loop in Frontenac Park is 30ish km of amazing trail running. It’s one of my favourite runs ever, despite the fact it invariably destroys me by the end. Flagpole Hill and Devil’s Gorge are my top two spots in the park, but because the loop is so big and there aren’t ‘escape’ options, I don’t see them very often. Yesterday the conditions were very good, unlike in the summer when the trail gets grown over with grasses that hide rocks and tangle around your ankles, and the deer flies are bad. Aside from some muddy spots, the biggest obstacles yesterday were the dozens of blowdowns from the big storm last week. The trail is all single-track, mostly very gnarly, and constantly rolls up and down, with a lot of steep ridges through gorges. It's a full-body workout.

The 'official' Slide Lake Loop uses Cedar Lake Loop as its western side, but we always come back along the south-eastern Big Salmon trail instead (from the junction near campsite 4).

Surprisingly we didn't see any deer, just a lot of hawks, one live beaver and a dead one. The dead one looked like fresh kill, so maybe we briefly scared away whatever was feeding on it. Too bad, it would have been neat to see the coyotes or whatever it was.

My first run over 4 hours in a long time. I felt structurally pretty good given that, which was encouraging.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Race Recap: Seaton Trail Mud Puppies

Date: April 16, 2011
Location: Seaton Trail, Pickering, Ontario
Distance: 29K
Weather: Rain, 4C
Trail: Out-and-back, single-track, muddy and wet. Mostly flat, but quite a few huge hills, a crazy river crossing, and did I mention mud? Everywhere.
Time: 3:43
Place: 2nd F, not sure overall

Was totally excited to run this race, not nervous at all. Despite the cold rain and slick mud I had a complete blast. Great people, it was nice to see everyone. Legs felt great, I thanked my physio Stacee in my head about a hundred times. I also thanked my well-tractioned Crosslites too many times to count. I like this length of race, I didn't carry anything except a few gels stashed in my gloves, and wasn't in a state of desperation with hours yet to go. Weird. Nice.

The weather was nasty, but I kind of like that for running. I felt bad for runners in the the longer races and especially the volunteers and organizers though. (It was a dangerous day out there if things went wrong...kudos to John M for helping out a runner in serious trouble, and then helping the runner's family too.) I saw Derrick three times on the course, and due to the timing of our starts and his shorter second section out, we finished up nearly at the same time. We had thought about the possibility of that happening, but figured the odds were against it. It was great to be able to see him finish and win his first race after the year off. Loved the dog-shaped medal and paw-printed t-shirt.

Bottom line: This year we put the Mud in Mud Puppies. Feels great to be back!

Results and photos will be here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Niggly vs Injury


- A minor soreness
- Proceed with Caution
- Usually accompanies a training increase
- Gets better rapidly
- Ends up stronger than before
- Within a week it's over and never thought about again
- Feels good in a bad way

- Too painful to run without limping
- Stop
- Usually happens when you feel fit and invincible
- Can take fer-freaking-ever to heal
- Lost fitness, starting over
- Eventually you might see a good side to it all
- Feels bad in a bad way

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Some weekly notes

- Sunday I wasn't going to run, feeling tired from an increase in training and thinking the rest would be better. For some reason though I felt very antsy late in the afternoon and I just had to get out for a bit. So I ran up a nearby road and enjoyed the late afternoon sun. In fact it was spectacular, with the entire sky all the way around turning pink. Turning around, I was facing into the sunset and it was stunning. I was coming down a long gradual hill when it was at its peak, with so many layers of deep red and orange. I'm glad that I didn't miss that sunset, it was probably the best I've ever seen.

- Bosu and treadmill are still good. For some reason my stride rate on the treadmill is about 10 higher than it typically is outside, which is helpful. I have three uphill workouts done, with three more to go before racing...

- Just signed up for the 29k at Seaton Trail on April 16. I've never run this race, but a few years ago when Derrick ran I did a training run on the trails and it looked fun. Can't wait.

- I've been getting a ton of hits on my blog for an old post that has a picture called "stars". Apparently people are landing there looking for movie star photos. If you want a lot of hits, you should name your photos accordingly, like celebrity gossip, Justin Bieber, etc.

- After a ton of rain on Saturday followed by cold temps, we have a gigantic skating pond. The dogs are finally playing hockey again.

Neeka returning the puck after a breakaway
Go Team!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gym Rat

Since my first race back, I've been very inspired to ramp up my training. I got myself a gym membership again so I can use the treadmill (a) for uphill workouts, and (b) to warm up for (c) strength/plyo stuff mostly using the Bosu (which we don't have at home). I'm lukewarm at best about the treadmill, but it's been nice to add to the mix right now, and in general I love the gym, it is so much fun. The Bosu is the most fun, but I had a sobering moment when I rolled my ankle off of it, which kind of hurt but mostly scared the heck out of me. I'm doing this to get stronger, not to bust something.

So anyway, in this way I've kind of started sneaking in quite a few morning/lunch runs on top of hitting the trails at home after work. Not coincidentally I feel happier than in a long, long, long time. Though I like my job and am not complaining, it is a fact that what I do isn't work in the force X distance sense, except if you count a tiny bit from the wrist down (typing + mousing). Pretty much everyone who works here does something physical every day - walking, running or gym at lunch, etc. which is needed to balance out sitting so much I'm thinking.

Oh, if anyone has any links to good Bosu exercises, I'd love to collect some more ideas.


Some interesting-to-me things:

Fascinating story by Brock Picken of FitForTwoTv on how he gained 40 pounds in 4 days to win a contest.

Raccoon Nation documentary on the The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. Fascinating. Cute.

Really great overview of snowshoe running and racing.

My dog can walk on water.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Less like a Math Test, More like a Painting

Derrick and I were snowshoe running on some new trails last night. There is something about how the pre-dusk February sun reflects on the pine trees and snow-covered land that gives it a magical quality. It is hard to describe, but the pale colours of the sky and snow meet the richness of the green in between and I am left in awe of the radiant beauty of nature around me. The base of snow is well over knee-deep now, but the trails are packed down by our snowshoes and I found myself feeling grateful for the ten-thousandth time for them allowing us access into the silent woods of winter.

Then, part way through the run my thoughts shifted to feeling the need to train more. I started to feel stress in my body, with the impulse to write up an ambitious plan and muster up the will to follow it as a top priority. To harness every one of my allotted type A brain cells because I'll need every one of them to keep me on track. In the past I have been able to motivate myself to train hard to try to meet particular goals, mostly out of insistence on following a plan like this. When I've succeeded it has been extremely satisfying and I've found out important things about myself in the process that will always be a part of me.

I call it the Math Test approach. It's a logical plan fueled in part by fear. I would be super motivated to work hard because I wanted to "pass", and was starting a long way from where I needed to be. Add to it a powerful underlying need to prove worthiness to myself and it's a recipe that has a serious punch of power if you buy into it. But now that I have learned from this approach (most importantly how untrue the worthiness thing is), I don't feel it is going to work again.

When I started feeling that stress yesterday I already knew that well was dry, so I shut it down right there. I reminded myself that for coming off of a long downtime I'm in a good place and there's nothing to stress about. (Really, why would I stress about my stress-reliever??) I re-focused on the beauty of the snowy woods around me, and felt the stress melt away. I definitely still have goals, but the process of reaching them needs to be a larger part of the enjoyment. Not just satisfying mentally, but day-in/day-out enjoyable physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The metaphor I'll use this time is that of a Painting - I have an idea of what I'm after, but I'm going to be open to letting the final picture evolve in a way that is a lot messier, organic, and fun. Like I did yesterday, I'm going to aim to stay in the moment and let it flow.

I would never say one approach is better or worse, it's just about finding what feels right and being able to adapt. When and if I try a 100 miler, it may very well feel like cramming for a math test again, or maybe I'll find some kind of good balance between the two approaches. There really is good in both of them, and it's not like I haven't enjoyed training before, that's obviously not true at all. It's just that I want a larger proportion of my runs to be from a place of truly loving being out there, not just being a slave to my training plan.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Becoming unstuck in the world

There was once a man who became unstuck in the world.

He took the wind for a map.

He took the sky for a clock and he set off with no destination.

He was never lost.

from Castles in the Sky, a movie not about snowshoe running