Monthly Archives: December 2013

Gorge Waterfall Training Starts Now :)

Today I ran my longest run since September. Alan, Kim and I were lead on a tour around Banff by our gracious host Leslie. It was cold, and it was beautiful.

How cold was it? So cold that after 5km my phone froze so I couldn’t take photos, and I can’t give you any info about how far we ran or how high we climbed. I’ve never had my phone freeze before and I was a little worried that it was time for a new phone, but I tucked my phone away in an inside pocket next to my body and 20 minutes later it came back to life.

How beautiful was it? The initial hour or so of running was on xc ski trails. The snow was sparkling like diamonds, the sky was a brilliant blue, and the river was a cloud of steam in the frigid winter air. Beautiful!

The rest of the run can be illustrated with photos:

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Bow Falls – The falls were half frozen and the ice was tinted blue. Unfortunately, my phone was still frozen when we had a good view of the ice/falls so this is all you get 🙂

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We turned onto some singletrack and headed out along the river towards Tunnel Mountain. It doesn’t get much better than this.

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Look closely and you will see a HUGE herd of elk in the trees. Despite their seemingly docile demeanour, elk are not to be messed with. Leslie related a story to us of an ornery mother elk who tried to play tag with her in the forest. Thankfully Leslie was more agile than the elk and lived to tell the tale. We detoured our run off the trail and up to the road rather than test our luck with the herd.

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After five minutes of flattish road running we started to climb, and climb. We turned onto Tunnel Mountain trail and ran up the 1.8km of switchbacks to the summit. My asthma was getting really bad at this point but I had already used my puffer once and didn’t want to use it again. I survived 🙂

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Quick photo op in front of Mt Rundle before our final ascent. I couldn’t help but think these switchbacks were the PERFECT training for the first majour climb at Gorge Waterfalls. I will be back to tackle this hill again!

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A celebratory jump on top of Tunnel Mountain. This was followed by a super speedy, and fun, descent back to the trail head.

I ran out of water at the base of Tunnel Mountain and we ran back to Leslie’s to finish our run with a post-run stretching session. This was a first for me, normally I follow runs up with coffee or beer – not stretching 🙂

Final Stats:

Time – 4ish hours.
Snow depth – 0-24 inches
Distance – 30-35km, 20ish miles
Elevation – Wild guess of 2500 feet
Temperature – -20C/-4F
Wind – Negligible

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Silver Spring XC RR

I haven’t posted since Dec 1st, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been running. Last weekend I celebrated winter by doing a 3hr long run in my snowshoes.

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It was a slog but it was so much fun!

I followed up the snowshoeing with a hike/run up Prairie Mountain

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And the fastest, funnest (is that a word?) descent I’ve done in a long time. I payed for it with sore quads for the next two days 🙂

The day after Prairie Mountain I ran the Silver Springs xc race. Here’s my report:

I work up sore and feeling a little sick. Not a great way to start a race day.

I donned a festive race outfit to celebrate the season, and I instantly felt much better 🙂

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The best part of the xc races is running with my friends, even if they are all faster than me 🙂

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The footing on the race course was terrible. It was soft, deep snow that threw you off balance and contorted your ankles. I decided the only way I could run a decent race was to push it on the small pavement sections at the beginning and just survive the trail. As an ultra runner, I feel like it normally takes me about 2hrs to warm up – this race plan made me nervous.

I pulled onto the first section of trail just behind my friend Anne. She’s a faster runner than me so I was pretty happy with my positioning at this point. We stumbled along the trail with only limited passing opportunities around the slower runners in front of us. I concentrated on catching my breath.

The trail turned sharply down a steep hill and I hurtled down recklessly, catching up with Anne at the next climb. A group of us were bunched together for the next 3-4km but Anne pulled away. I was really struggling with burning lungs and grouchy ankles so I let her go and tried to find my happy place again. I powerhiked the hills and bombed down the steeps on the edge of control. The trail turned to the left and I knew we were on the homestretch.

This part of the course climbed gradually uphill before turning onto a much steeper grade. I turned the corner and saw Anne hiking up the hill. I tried to give myself a pep talk – but I had limited success. My powerhiking was strong but my will was weak as I walked over the crest of the hill, rather than running. I continued this pattern for the next 3 steep hills before we finally reached the finish line. I was so happy to see that finish line!

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Anne beat me by 9 seconds. That’s the closest I’ve ever been to catching her but I can’t help but feel I could have given it a little more effort.

I finished the race as 7th lady overall and 2nd in my age group. My friend Kim won and Del got 2nd – I’m hoping their speediness will eventually rub off on me 🙂

As always, we finished off the fun with soup and dessert at the community hall. I think I had about 10 pieces of dessert 🙂

What’s next? Christmas break and the start of training for Gorge Waterfalls 100km. I’m so excited already!

Happy Trails!

Winter is here but I’m still having fun :)

Thursday Nov 28 – start of the holiday run streak!

I got my cyst drained on my knee. The doctor was hoping that maybe it would stay drained, but it’s already coming back so I need to make a second appointment. The next step is to inject cortisone after draining the cyst, this will hopefully cause it to shrivel up and disappear for good. Hopefully I can get an appointment in January so it doesn’t interfere with training for Gorge Waterfalls 100km too much.

Thursday evening was American Thanksgiving at a friend’s place. An aquaintence of ours was there and he told us the most fantastic story. He is an avid hot air ballooner. He balloons in all weather and competes around the world. Last February he went up in an older balloon with 3 other friends for a flight in Kananaskis. There were some wind gusts and the balloon ripped, they were 5000ft above the ground and it was all they could do to keep the balloon upright as it plummeted towards the ground. Miraculously all 4 men survived the fall without injury as the balloon got caught up in some trees. Some other friends were in a separate balloon and videoed the fall once they realized there was nothing they could do to help. It’s an incredible video. Anyway, it was interesting hearing how our friend’s take on life had changed since his near death experience. He stopped worrying and started doing – he views the accident as a type of gift.

The balloon story got me thinking – if I knew my death was imminent would I do anything differently? I’m not sure that I would. I feel like I’m already getting as much out of life as I can. Every year has new experiences, new goals, new limits. I feel like I am constantly learning, that I am constantly working towards something better. Maybe with more thought, I’ll come up with some more profound insights …

Friday Nov 29

Not too much excitement on Friday. I went for a hard treadmill run and I ate some fantastic Greek food with my siblings. It’s so hard to decide what to eat at a Greek restaurant, because I like everything!

Saturday Nov 30

Wasootch! This hike started out a little bleak with a forecast for possible showers and a cloudy sky, but it cleared up, the sun came out and it was beautiful!

Sunday Dec 1

I was supposed to hike up Mount Fairview with a friend, but a combination of terrible road conditions and a sleepy running partner meant that I was on my own. Moxie and I went for a wonderful, albeit icy loop on the West Bragg trails. I ran all of the uphills which is a challenge for me as I will admit I’m not very good at this thing called continuous running 🙂

Today there is a full on blizzard outside but Moxie and I still made it out for a mile in the snow. It was much more fun than I thought it would be. I think this winter thing may be growing on me 🙂

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Mountain photos are Wasootch. Trail photos are West Bragg – Baruch’s Corner.

Happy trails!