Tag Archives: adventure

My Big Fat Wish List

I love planning for the future.  I gain great satisfaction from dreaming up an adventure on the very edge of possibility, and then working towards that dream.  Right now I’m struggling, because I am unable to plan.  My future is an unknown, and I’m floating in the abyss at the whim of circumstances beyond my control.

 

In an effort to scratch my adventure planning itch I’ve decided to put together a Wish List.  Normally I hate the term “wish”- you either do something or you don’t.  Wishing is a waste of time and energy.  However, at this stage in my journey I don’t have a lot of ability to “do”, so wishing is going to have to be good enough.  Here’s hoping I get some of these wishes granted this year, and maybe next year this list can transform to my Big Fat To Do List!

 

So here we go, in no particular order:

  1. Multi-day adventures
  • 200 mile hike of my choosing
  • The Great Divide Trail
  • Family hike on the Juan de Fuca trail
  • Mount St. Elias, ocean to summit (lifetime goal)

 

2. Long Days Out

  • The Brazeau Loop
  • The Stein Traverse
  • Banff Triple Crown
  • Sub-11hr Iron Legs 50M
  • Sub-20hr 100 Mile Race (still needs to be a course I’m excited about)
  • Hardrock
  • Bluerock – Gibraltar – Picklejar – Junction Creek Loop
  • 10000m ascent and descent in 24hrs
  • Athabasca Pass, Mt Hooker and Mt Brown (haven’t done the math on this one, might be a multi-day).

 

3. Ski Trips

  • FHR on a sunny day
  • Mount Joffre
  • White Pyramid
  • Dolomite Traverse
  • Lake Louise to Lake O’Hara out and back (classic xc ski)
  • 2000m ascent in a trip

 

4. Scrambles, Summits and Ridge Traverses

  • Sub-6hr Banded Peak Traverse (with Arielle)
  • Full Opal Traverse
  • Mount Ptolemy
  • Livingstone Range Traverse – redo to the highway (with Arielle)
  • The Rundle Traverse (with Arielle)
  • Mount King George
  • Gap to Townsend (with Patrick)
  • Majo’s Loop (Nihahi, Compression, Prairie, Powderface)
  • Mt Fisher via Secret Pass
  • Mt Evan Thomas
  • Mt Daly
  • Tour de Noseeum, including the summit

 

Do you have an adventure idea you think I’d enjoy?  Send me a message and we can build my Wish List into a lifetime of adventures planning.

The Inaugural WAM 100

“The WAM 100 mile race is hands down, all at once the most stunning ultra in Canada and the most challenging race in the country, in fact it ranks right up there as one of the toughest 100’s on the continent.

167 kilometers of incredible terrain, up and down the two major mountains on the east side of the Whistler valley: Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain…while doing Whistler Mountain twice! All while covering over 9500 meters (31,000 feet) of climbing and descent, and skirting no fewer than a half dozen alpine lakes along the way, including Jane, Jake, Logger’s, Cheakamus, and more. We’ve even thrown in three suspension bridge crossings for good measure.

This is as much an adventure as it is a run. The course is unrelenting, but it has a high “reward value” in that we don’t have long sections of suck while you’re waiting for the few highlights to present, rather the highlights are plentiful and you’d have to close your eyes to eliminate the beauty of the area from constantly coming at you.”

~excerpt from the WAM website~


 

I came into this event ready and excited to race.  Last year’s running season did not go particularly well, and my opportunity to truly race at Bighorn earlier this year went up in literal smoke when I hit a buck during our drive down to the event. Standing on the WAM start line I felt fit, healthy and rested. I hadn’t felt that good in a very long time and I had to work hard to temper my enthusiasm.

Whistler Alpine Meadows 2019. Photo by Scott Robarts

Standing at the start line, not sure what’s up with that expression 🙂       PC: Scott Roberts Photography


Meadow Park to Alta Lake – 14.5km, 733m ascent, 696m descent 

I ran most of this leg either with Jessica (a strong runner from Edmonton) or on my own.  The leg began with a climb and Patrick and Chris went on ahead.  I was trying to keep my effort very easy, and keeping up with the boys on the climb would have taken me out of that zone.  The leg finished with a very cruisey downhill section with 27 switchbacks.  Anyone who has ever run trails with me knows that I like to corner, so this was right up my alley. I let my legs go, passing several runners and catching up with Patrick and Chris in the aid station.  The aid station was a few kilometres sooner than advertised (and I was moving faster than expected) so Matt wasn’t there.  I grabbed some candy from the well-stocked aid station and began to hike up the hill on the next leg of the course.  As I hiked, I sent Matt a quick text so that he would know that we had missed each other.  It was a nice luxury to have cell service on a race course.

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Views over Whistler on Leg 1.  I think that might be Sean Blanton hang gliding!


Alta Lake to Function – 11.5km, 632m ascent, 711m descent 

 

Chris hiked up ahead, while Patrick soon caught me from behind.  Patrick ran with me for awhile, and then all 3 of us were running together through the Function Junction section.  I was surprised that we were all moving at the same pace, but I enjoyed being part of a “team.”  Soon we were at the second aid station.  The distance for this leg had been correct, but we were still running much faster than I had anticipated.  Matt was there to help crew me and I had a rice ball (rice, egg, cheese, soy sauce) from our cooler.  It was nice to have something other than candy.  The 3 of us left the aid station in close succession but I took it super easy on the crushed gravel path, falling behind the rest of the Team.  I was very concerned about all the running we had been doing this far into the race and I thought that I needed to figure out some sort of walking strategy to slow myself down.

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Running along a raging river as we head into Function Junction.


 

Function to WAC – 19km, 1071 ascent, 1061 descent 

 

The course turned off the crushed gravel path and onto an ATV road.  The ATV road angled uphill, and the grade slowly got steeper as the path got rougher.  I made a conscious effort to slow down and just focus on being relaxed, eating and drinking at regular intervals.  Jessica caught up to me and we talked for a bit before I found myself moving ahead again.  I really enjoyed this climb because it felt like it gave me a chance to reset from all the running we had been doing.  I was a bit sad when the climb ended, but I didn’t mourn for long because the course turned onto what looked to be a brand new mountain biking trail.  The trail was cut into the mossy undergrowth of the forest and traversed between a couple of picturesque mountain lakes. It was gorgeous! This is where I met my new friend James, a runner from Squamish who had wandered off-course and just made his way back.  WAM was his first hundred, but he had plenty of leg speed having just run a 34 minute 10km the previous weekend!

 

I loved this forest section. I had good company to run with, and the route had taken on much more of a wilderness, mountain feel. I no longer was fighting to force myself to slow down, I simply had a big grin on my face and was fully embracing the forest bathing.  The forest section ended with a downhill mountain road before turning back onto some rockier single-track.  The good vibes continued and I broke out a bag of Cheetos to celebrate as the trail came to a lookout over another mountain lake.

 

Shortly after the lake I ran out of water.  This leg was definitely longer than advertised, but I wasn’t overly concerned.  I knew we were going to have to make up for that short 1st leg at some point. Eventually we came to the top of a climb and began a technical descent down towards what I assumed would be the aid station. This descent was where I saw the first of the “DANGER SLOW” signs.  I chuckled to myself, how many more of those would I see today?  A kilometre or two later I ran into the WAC aid station and Matt was there to crew me.  I had a rice ball and a yogurt tube before heading back out.  Patrick was just ahead of me and I caught up to him as he was finishing off a bottle of Coke.

 


 

WAC to Village – 15km, 755m ascent, 601m descent   

 

The next section is a bit hazy for me.  I recall Patrick and Chris moving ahead on the initial climb, but then somehow I caught up to them and I was leading the Team.  I was feeling really good and just enjoying cruising along.  At one point I was enjoying the view a little too much and completely missed a turn.  Thankfully Chris was there to set me straight.  The course was impeccably marked, but you still have to pay attention.

 

Apparently we made good time on that leg, because we arrived at Whistler Village just as our crews were setting up.  This was a planned longer aid station break, as we prepared to head up Whistler Mountain and into the night. I ate more rice balls and yogurt, changed my socks and shorts, and re-lubricated areas that were threatening to chafe. I also packed an extra headlamp. We left Whistler Village as a team of 4, having picked Mike up (another runner from Calgary), at the aid station.  I had been looking forward to the long walk up Singing Pass to Whistler Mountain all day.  It signaled the end of the running and beginning of the adventuring!


 

Village to Whistler Mountain – 19km, 1720m ascent, 460m descent 

 

My focus during the walk up Singing Pass was eating.  I ate a Mars bar, and a couple of slow burning Muir gels.  I probably also had a bunch of gummies and jelly beans, maybe some Oreos.  It was a constant snack fest. Chris dropped off the back of our train for a bit at one point, while I lagged behind Mike and Patrick on the steeper sections.  I was feeling really good on the flats and downhills so I would quickly catch up to them on any of the undulations.  The trail became more technical and undulating as we left Singing Pass and went over the Musical Bumps.  Technical, undulating terrain is a strength for me, so I soon moved ahead.  It was dark out and although the route was extremely well marked, it was still easy to wander off course. At one point I missed a turn, but thankfully I quickly realized my error.  I climbed back up to the missed turn and waited at the corner to warn the other guys. But if I’m honest, I am not good at waiting and I soon decided that they could probably figure it out just fine on their own.

 

Eventually I made to the summit of Whistler Mountain.  The volunteers had some good tunes going and the aid station was well-stocked with candy, including M&Ms! I’ve had a bit of an addiction to M&Ms lately so I filled a ziplock with the tasty treats.  I asked the volunteers if they had pancakes, but they told me they weren’t cooking them up until the morning.  This was a bit of a bummer because I knew Patrick had been looking forward to those pancakes since last year’s WAM.


 

Whistler Mountain to WAC – 14km, 158m ascent, 1572m descent 

 

All good things must come to an end, so I reluctantly left the aid station and started down the extremely steep and technical descent trail.  Having been on this trail last year, I knew what to expect and I was apprehensive.  I was fearful my legs might not be able to handle this kind of trail after 80km and 4000m of climbing, plus this time I was doing it in the dark!  My shoes handled the rock and mud well, but I didn’t do so well on the boardwalks.  After one particularly hard fall on a boardwalk I was extremely careful navigating the rest of my way down the route.  There were several of those “SLOW DANGER” signs, but I think they could have just posted one at the top of the trail and called it good.

 

Eventually I got onto more runnable trail and I enjoyed the easy cruise down, occasionally crossing paths with one of the lead runners who were on their way back up.  I counted the men and the ladies as I passed them. The lead lady was in 10th and looked very strong.  I was in roughly 20th place overall and 2nd lady, about an hour behind 1st.  I took some extra time at the aid station, feeling very sleepy (it was just after 1am) but otherwise in good spirits. I had some coffee, broth and snacks, dropped off one of my headlamps and began the slow shuffle back up the trail.  I had spent about 20 minutes in the aid station and was surprised that none of the Team had made it in yet.  I didn’t worry for long though, because I ran into Patrick a few hundred metres out of the aid station, and then Chris few minutes later.  They both looked to be in very good spirits.


 

WAC to Whistler Mountain – 14km, 1572m ascent, 158 descent 

I was dreading the climb back up Whistler Mountain.  It was SO TECHNICAL and STEEP!!  I ran into Jessica a few kilometres out of the aid station and we stopped and talked for a few minutes.  She had a sore foot and had decided to drop to avoid a more severe injury.  Then I ran into Mike who was walking like a zombie.  He did not look like he was interested in continuing the torture.  Near treeline I ran into a dense patch of fog as I climbed up through the clouds.  It made spotting the flagging tape much more challenging.  The fog continued above treeline and suddenly I realized I was off-course.  I looked around me for any markings but I didn’t see a thing.  Thankfully I remembered my watch had a breadcrumb feature and I was able to use that to get back on route.  I was borrowing the watch from my friend Katie and I made a mental note to send her extra thanks for saving my race.

 

I didn’t think it was possible, but I had ascended the mountain too quickly and I reached the aid station well before sunrise. We were above the clouds now and I could see that sunrise was going to be accompanied by a spectacular inversion.  I decided to lollygag a bit at the aid station – if I moved slow enough maybe I would get to see the sun.  I ate a full cup of noodles in front of the aid station heater, and then I spotted the big box of bananas.  I knew that I don’t handle bananas well when I’m racing, but I also wasn’t thinking very clearly.  All I could think was that those bananas looked delicious!


 

Whistler Mountain to Base 2 – 19.5km, 482 ascent, 1772m descent 

 

I scarfed down a full banana and then made my way off the summit towards the Musical Bumps.  Not even 10 minutes later I had thrown everything up on the side of the trail.  I checked my watch, I had made it 19.5hrs without puking.  Not bad!  I was sad to see those noodles go to waste, but I felt much better after puking. Unfortunately, even thought I was feeling better my brain was truly checked out at this point and I proceeded to miss another very well-marked corner and wander off route.  A few minutes later I realized my mistake, and once again used the breadcrumb feature to get back on track. Now I was back on very technical trail, and I had to be alert to follow the course markings.  I was so focused on the markings that I hardly ate during this section and my pace slowed significantly.

 

The upside to all of this is that the sky started to lighten and I got to see the sunrise! The sunrise was so beautiful, that I found myself full of gratitude for the comedy of errors that had slowed me down. Soon I was shuffling my way back down the Singing Pass trail, smile on my face but starting to feel very stiff and tired.  Puking always takes a lot out of me, and I was so stiff by this point I couldn’t manage a full stride. I noticed a tightness in the back of my right calf, and a memory tried to trigger, but I couldn’t quite place it.  I ignored the tightness and pressed on.  It was around this time that I started to pee constantly. I was thankful that I was on my own because it felt like I was peeing every 10 minutes and I wouldn’t have wanted to have to move far off-trail.  I tried increasing my salt-intake to help with some water retention but it didn’t seem to make a difference.  I was peeing far more than I was drinking, and I found myself not wanting to drink because I felt like it would just trigger more peeing.

 

Eventually I made it to the Base 2 aid station.  I was very tired and happy to have a seat.  I had a rice ball, some yogurt, salted potatoes and some delicious bacon kindly offered by a random bystander.   Nicola was at the aid station volunteering, and when I complained about my constant peeing she had said that she’d heard it was related to protein intake.  Hopefully the bacon would help.  While I was sitting there Patrick and Chis came running in.  They said they were tired, but they looked great!

 

 


 

Base 2 to 7th Heaven – 4km, 848m ascent, 6m descent 

 

I walked out of the aid station and began the steep climb up the Blackcomb Ascent Trail.  My calf had tightened up to the point where it was painful on every step and I was not moving very quickly.  Patrick and Chris soon passed me, and I was happy to continue at my slow and steady state.  The trail went up and up and up, but eventually I reached the aid station.  I had slowed down but I felt like I was still in good spirits and moving okay considering I’d been running for 24hrs straight.


 

7th Heaven to 7th Heaven – 12km, 758m ascent and descent 

 

The volunteers warned me that the next section was very slow going.  Apparently even the lead runners had taken over 2.5hrs on this section.  I think their warning lit a little fire under my ass because I was able to run the next portion of gravel road.  From there the route turned straight up a ski hill, it wasn’t even on a trail and I laughed out loud. It was time to Minotaur!  I love a little bushwhacking and I took joy in the fact that I probably loved that section more than anyone else in the race.

 

The bushwhack was short and soon the course turned back onto well-developed trail. I didn’t know anything about the Blackcomb alpine and to be honest I wasn’t expecting much more than random mountain biking trails.  So you can imagine my surprise when the trails turned out to have some of the most stunning views on the course!  We had climbed just above the inversion and were dancing with the clouds.  Marmots whistled, and the trail wound its way around alpine tarns and boulder fields. Glaciated peaks popped in and out of view.  I was happy.

 

SidenoteI do have one complaint about this section of the course, and this is that we were doing the loop backwards.  The best views were always behind me so I found myself constantly wanting to stop and look back, but I couldn’t do this because I was in race and I was trying to move efficiently.  There were also a ton of people up there travelling the opposite direction, so they were constantly having to move out of my way.  I feel like if I was moving in the same direction as them I could have just hopped on the boulders to move around them, and not make them feel like they had to make way for me.  But I digress...

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7th Heaven to Green Lake – 17km, 495m ascent, 1420m descent 

 

I find I move quickly when I’m happy and I finished the 12km loop faster than expected, catching back up to Patrick and Chris as they were leaving the aid station.  Now there was only 25km left to the finish line with no significant climbs.  My energy levels felt good and I was ready to give a good push, but my calf wouldn’t allow me to run.  I decided to ask the aid station staff for a tensor bandage to see if wrapping the calf would make it feel any better.  It turns out one of the volunteers, Adam, was a bit of a guru at this type of thing and he did an amazing job.  The tape job definitely didn’t get rid of the pain, but it seemed to slow the progression down.  Up to this point the calf and been getting progressively more painful, but now I was able to shuffle (slowly) down the ski out without feeling a significant increase in pain.  I tried to take a full stride, I wanted to force myself to do it out of sheer will power, but I found that I couldn’t.  Just like at Bighorn, I found that I have an upper pain threshold and I can’t seem to push through it.  But (unlike at Bighorn), I was still moving at an okay pace and my spirits were still good.  The road for the ski out was very firm and I found myself wishing for a softer surface.  My wish was granted when a minute later we were directed off the ski out onto a very squishy, technical downhill mountain biking trail. This was not exactly what I meant by softer surface.  The terrain was steep and slippery, and the going was extremely slow.  I found myself cursing Gary under my breathe.

 

The rest of the race course was just plain cruel. After the downhill mountain bike trail we meandered up and down and around for what felt like hours!  Jamil Coury caught up to me and we hiked together for a few miles before he went ahead to finish the race strong.  We both thought the meandering trail was ridiculous, especially when it became clear that this was another one of those legs that was longer than advertised.  Jamil ran ahead and I hobbled on as quickly as my legs would allow me, eventually reaching the final aid station.


 

Green Lake – 8km, 275m ascent,  285m descent 

 

I had it in my head that I really wanted to break 33hrs, but if the last leg was actually the 8km advertised there was no way I could do it.  I asked the volunteers if the last leg might be short – I was already at 164km on my watch and the race was only supposed to be 167km long.  They said no, the last leg was a full 8km.   Oh well – I held onto my hope that the volunteers were wrong. I filled up my soft flask with coke and pushed as hard as my legs and lungs would let me to get to the finish line.  I left Green Lake at exactly 32hrs and if I didn’t reach the finish line in 33hrs I could allow myself to slow down and walk it in.

 

I wasn’t able to run the hills so I walked them all.  I also wasn’t able to run the downhills particularly well, so I just moved as best I could.  The flat sections felt okay. The trail was totally smooth crushed gravel and I was in love with the friendly surface.  Why couldn’t the whole race be like this??  I pushed hard, there was a guy behind me and I told myself I wasn’t going to let him pass without a fight.  The minutes passed by and it became apparent that I wasn’t going to make it in under 33hrs but still I kept pushing. Something in my mind told me this leg was going to be short.  We came onto a road and Ellie Greenwood was volunteering at a junction, “1km to go!”   The leg was short!!

I looked at my watch, maybe I could do it …

 

That last kilometre was the longest kilometre of my life.  I ran as hard as my legs would let me, even though Strava says it was only a 6:06km.  Whatever, it felt fast !!  I crossed the finish line in 32:59:14, less than a minute to spare on my arbitrary timeline.

Whistler Alpine Meadows 2019. Photo by Scott Robarts

I think WAM may have eaten my soul.  Finish line relief.  PC: Scott Roberts Photography



 

The Aftermath 

 

Chris, Patrick, Matt and the crews were all at the finish line waiting for me.  Marieve, the ladies winner, was also there to congratulate me at the finish line.  I thought that was a very classy thing to do, as I know I am usually too destroyed after a race to think of anyone except for myself.  Gary was there with a finish line hug, and I was so happy to be done I forgot to ream him out for making us run around in circles for 10km.

 

Overall, I am very happy with this performance. I still haven’t raced my perfect hundred miler but I think I’m getting closer.  I didn’t puke until almost 20 hours into the race, and even then it was just a one time thing. I took care of myself when things went sideways.  I slowed down when I had to, pushed when I could, and when I got hurt I took the time to treat the injury, which definitely enabled me to move faster in the end. I had no blisters and there was no crying. I didn’t take any naps.

 

There are a few things I could do to improve for next time:

  • I could improve by remembering my poles.  I think poles would have definitely helped me from Base 2 to the end when my calf quit working.

 

  • I also could improve by not eating that stupid banana.  Puking lead to a minor bonk, as well as dehydration and associated muscle stiffness.  I was running downhill totally pain-free before that banana.

 

  • I also could improve by figuring out why I was peeing so much. I did seem to pee less after having some protein …

 

Thank you:

  • Matt – for being the best support crew I could ask for.  Not only on race day, but supporting me throughout my endless hours of racing

 

  • Patrick – for being an awesome training partner and finding us a sweet place to stay in Whistler.  I hope your feet heal up so we can get back out adventuring!

 

  • Gary and the CMTS team – Thank you for organizing this ridiculous race, even if I was cursing you at times.  The swag was awesome and organization impeccable.

 

  • Spry – your continued support enables me to pour my heart into this sport and lifestyle I love so much.

 

  • Katie – thanks again for lending me your watch all summer!

The Livingstone Range Traverse

Over the past several years Matt and I have fallen in love with the Crowsnest Pass area of Southern Alberta. The land in the pass is wild and undeveloped. While most mountains in the region have routes to the summit, few of them have actual trails, and even fewer have trails that are marked on a map.  I love the lack of formality. 

 

It’s a 2.5hr drive from our place in Calgary to Crowsnest Pass, and I always know when we are getting close because a distinctive rocky, ridge rises into view west of the highway.  The wall of rock extends for 35km, beginning at the Oldman River and finishing at Hwy 3 near the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. The ridge is called the Livingstone Range, and it includes 5 mountain summits – Thunder Mountain, Lightning Peak, Centre Peak, Cauldron Mountain, and South Livingstone Peak.   

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The LRT in the distance, as seen during our drive down to The Pass.

The first recorded Livingstone Range Traverse (LRT) was completed by Rick Collier. You can still find Rick’s trip report on Bivouac and I have read it several times with interest, wondering if I would be able to follow his footsteps.  Rick completed the traverse in 3 days, losing elevation each night in order to find a camp with a source of water.  This style of travel sounded miserable to me, and I knew immediately that if I were to complete this traverse I would want to complete it in a day. 

 

A couple of years ago local athletes Andrew Fairhurst and Troy Misseghers completed the LRT in a single push.  When I saw the route pop up on my Strava feed my head nearly exploded.  Andrew and Troy are on a much higher fitness level than me, but seeing their adventure made this dream of mine seem more possible. The following year Andrew and Troy completed the traverse again, smashing their previous time and completing the route in just under 12hrs! My dream had now become a goal, and I asked my adventure partner Arielle if she would want to attempt this route with me.   

 

Our first attempt on the LRT failed quickly.  It was May 2018 and the ridge was engulfed in cloud with a fresh layer of snow and verglas up top.  We made it up Thunder Mountain, but the ridge over to Lightning Peak was clearly impassable in these conditions.  We decided to bail and comeback on a better day. 

 

Our second trip up to the LRT was with our friend Philippe.  We were hoping to scope out the section from Thunder all the way over to Centre Peak, but route finding proved to be trickier than anticipated and after 6hrs of scrambling we had only made it to Lightning Peak.  This was a very enlightening day for us.  Originally we had thought that 16hrs would be a reasonable time for the traverse, but now we were thinking it would take 20hrs+.  Ugh, I don’t particularly enjoy sleep deprivation. 

 

On July 28th, 2019 the weather and route conditions finally lined up on a day when both Arielle and myself were free.  It was time to give this a serious go.  At 4am Arielle and I began our hike up Thunder Mountain.  We were travelling by the lights of our headlamps, but this was our 3rd time up this route so navigating was seamless.  By 5:30am the sun was rising and we were taking our first summit pic.  As we gazed across at the jagged ridge leading over to Lightning Peak, we hoped we would have better luck with our route selection this time around. 

Following the advice from Andrew and Troy we aimed to stay on top of the ridge as much as possible, only dropping down when it was necessary and following goat trails until we could regain the top of the ridge.  We made good decisions and moved efficiently, reaching Lightning Peak in roughly 5hrs.  We were stoked with our progress and excited to explore the next portion of the ridge which was entirely unknown to us.  Arielle’s boyfriend Vlad was going to meet us at Centre Peak with more water, however we were moving so well that we thought we would beat him there.  We sent him a text to tell him not to bother, and he decided that he would start at the south end of the ridge and meet us from that end.  Arielle and I had both started with 3L of water and the weather was quite warm so we conserved as much as possible. 

The traverse over to Centre Peak took forever! Our text to Vlad proved premature, as we did not make it up to the summit until well after our overly optimistic time estimate. We were still moving efficiently, but the ridge is just so long and slow!  sections of the ridge are extremely exposed with cliffs on either side, while at other times we would be forced to drop off the top of the ridge and find routes around pinnacles.  There was absolutely no running and every step was taken with care.  Eventually we found ourselves on the summit of Centre Peak; there was no celebration, just a sense of relief. 

We knew from talking to Troy and Andrew that the real difficulties of the route lay on the south half of the route.  Apparently there was some difficult scrambling with high consequence, and we wondered what was in store.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) Arielle and I were so used to exposure by this point that nothing phased us.  I could have walked on a 2×4 plank, 100m above the ground and I don’t think it would have phased me.  We continued our constant forward progress, eventually reaching the summit of Cauldron Peak.  Arielle sent Vlad a text letting him know that we were in fact still moving, and I stopped to tape some hot spots on my feet.  This is when I realized that large holes had ripped open the uppers of my Scarpa approach shoes.  Oh well, that’s why I brought duct tape 😊   I taped up my shoes the best I could and on we went.  1.5km later we found Vlad lounging on a sub-peak.  He had had hiked up with 5L of water for us from the south end of the ridge.  Neither Arielle or myself were out of water at this point, but it was nice to stop conserving and be able to drink as much as we wanted. I had felt mildly thirsty (drinking just enough to keep my stomach happy) for most of the trip. 

The next portion of ridge was extremely undulating with a few tricky sections. The 3 of us hiked mostly together until we finally reached the summit of South Livingstone. Arielle’s stomach was giving her a bit of grief so she held back a bit but was still moving at a good pace. Just like Centre Peak, the summit of South Livingstone seemed to take forever to appear and when we finally crested the top it was with a huge feeling of relief.  Vlad took a couple of photos of us and then we were off running to the Interpretive Centre.  

The South Livingstone trail was overgrown and much of it was not exactly runnable.  I did not take the most efficient line and 20 minutes later the 3 of us were all back together, even though Vlad hadn’t run a step.  How demoralizing. Vlad suggested we follow a drainage down, promising that it would lead us to the road to the Interpretive Centre.  Arielle and I ran off ahead again, eager to get somewhere with decent footing so that we could finally open our strides and run.  The drainage proved to be a bit bushwhacky, but the flowers were beautiful and we were in pretty good spirits considering we had been moving for over 13hrs.  If we didn’t get lost we might be able to finish in under 14hrs, a time that neither of us had thought was realistic at the start of the day. 

 

Finally, we reached the dirt road and we knew we were only 3km to the finish line!  Now it was Arielle’s turn to wait for me as she is a much stronger road runner than I am.  I did my best to keep up a good pace and we even managed to run a sub 5min kilometre (downhill).   The final 800m was uphill on paved road to the parking lot and Arielle pulled ahead trying to encourage me to run faster, but pavement saps all the energy from my legs and I had nothing left to give.  We finished the route in 13:55, super excited with our time and the efficiency that we had moved with throughout most of the day. 

 

 Post-script: 

A few days later, after we had submitted our run to the FKT pro-board, Troy sends me a message.  “Hey, did you know that we finished at the highway, not at the Interpretive Centre when we did our FKT?”  

Long story short, there was a misunderstanding with the location of the finish line and Arielle and I took an unintentional shortcut.  The true FKT route stays on the ridge the entire way to the highway, rather than turning off the ridge and heading to the Interpretive Centre.  Our route was a few kilometres shorter than the true ridge route and had less bushwhacking, it was also the route that Andrew had given me with his GPX track from their 2017 traverse.  I still feel like we completed the spirit of the route since the crux of this route is really about scrambling along an endless rocky ridge, not about bushwhacking to a highway.  However, anyone who considers a future FKT attempt should take this information into account.   

 

We refuelled from our long day out with burgers, fries and root beers at A&W. I definitely feel that this should become part of the LRT FKT tradition.  A&W is basically located at the termination of the ridge so it’s meant to be 😊  

Jimmy Keen Survival Club – The 2018 Ute 100

The race began at 3am in a dirt field on the south side of the La Sal mountains.  I didn’t bother with breakfast and fueled on coffee instead.  I think I was still half asleep as we began our slow jog down the gravel road.  The road transitioned into a jeep trail and finally into rocky, somewhat overgrown single-track.  We were climbing, the grade got steeper and the slow jog became a power-hike.  I love long, sustained climbs so I settled into my rhythm and soon found that I had passed all of my nearest competitors. The narrow trail switchbacked down a slope before climbing back up through open meadows.  The sun rose, and I could feel my body come alive as the mountain valley came into view.

At 14.8 miles there was a short out-and-back section along a jeep road to reach the Medicine Lakes aid station. I thought there were a few ladies ahead of me, but as I ran into the aid station the volunteers informed me that I was in first. I hate being chased so I wasn’t particularly happy to hear this. I didn’t want to be in a racing mindset this early in a 100, but I tried to convince myself to relax and just do my thing.  Normally I don’t eat much from aid stations, but as I was leaving a piece of bacon called out to me.  I couldn’t resist.  I walked back up the road savouring the delicious saltiness and congratulating myself on such a tasty choice of snack.

I had just started to jog back up the jeep road when I projectile vomited mid-stride.  I looked around to see if anyone was watching, but no one had seen me.  I puke in nearly every ultra I run, so I’m not sure why I was so self-conscious about it.  I puked again and decided that maybe I should walk instead of run.  I’m not sure what brought on the nausea, I can’t imagine that a single piece of bacon would cause such havoc, so I think it was the altitude. I formed a strategy, I would stick to pure sugar, and eat only in very small amounts until I got back down below 9000ft. As these thoughts were forming in my head, the 2nd place lady came running down the road towards me, big smile on her face. We high-fived as I turned off the jeep trail onto some cruisey single-track.

The next section of the course should have been fast, and it took all of my self-control to dial back the effort and allow my stomach to settle down.   I fully expected the 2nd place girl to pass me at any moment, I didn’t feel like I could move much slower and she hadn’t been far behind, but she never appeared.  I ran past herds of cows and a cowboy with his sheep dogs.  The dogs were clearly having the time of their lives and I found myself smiling as I hiked along the rocky trail.  Despite the puking, I was loving the wildness of this race.

When I reached the Utah Trust aid station (26.4 miles) I was in good spirits.  I may not have been able to eat much, but my legs were working fine and I was doing what I loved.  I filled a soft-flask with ginger ale and began to hike up the gravel road.  The next 6 miles were run entirely on gravel road, but we still had mountain views and I was grateful for the opportunity to run a bit.  My stomach was settling down and I even managed to swallow a chocolate gel.

At mile 32.4 we were able to access our crew for the first time.  Matt was waiting for me and I sat down and sipped on some ginger ale while doing a full shoe/sock change.  I had been running in my preferred shoes (Icebug Oribis) which have great traction, but very little cushion.  I needed to switch into more cushioned shoes (Salming Trail 5s) as I was about to head up the very rocky trails of 12,200ft Mann’s Peak.

The next section of course was some of the most scenic of the entire race. The alpine meadows were filled with flowers, the birds were singing and the butterflies were putting on a show.  I was in my element and loving every minute of it. Even when the trail became steep and my body seemed to be moving through molasses, I was loving the adventure.  Not wanting another vomit session, I was careful not to overeat or overexert myself.  I crested the ridge to discover the Beastie Boys playing on a ghetto blaster and I took a moment to soak in the views.  What an incredible day!

The descent off Mann’s Peak is not really a trail, it’s really just a bunch of ankle busting rubble.  I took my time, feeling like I was on one of my scrambling adventures back home.  The trail became more defined and the last few miles to the aid station were very runnable.  As I ran into Warner Lake signs lined the trail. “We. Love. You Jimmy.”  I knew I was coming up to the Jimmy Keen section of the trail and I wondered what was so special about it.

At the aid station I enjoyed a Freezie and prepared for the heat by putting on a cap with ice under it.  The course had not been too hot up to this point so neither Matt nor I were too concerned about heat.  We neglected to put on cooling sleeves and I didn’t bother with any ice down my bra.  I’m not sure what I was thinking, I knew the forecast was for 100 degrees in the valley …

After Warner Lake the trail drops down towards Moab on the Hazzard County trail.  This is where my love for the course reached an all-time high. The trail was super fun with just the right mix of technical and cruisey bits.  The views of the valley were expansive, showing off the red rocks of Moab in all their glory.  I was on the highest of highs, and I was about to come crashing down to the lowest of lows.

Hazzard County connected with Jimmy Keen and the trail flattened out.  I began to notice the heat, but I wasn’t too worried; the water drop aid station was only a few miles ahead.  By the time I reached the water drop I was feeling pretty warm. I soaked my head with sponges and enjoyed a Freezie before the 9 mile stretch to the next crewed aid station.

Jimmy Keen is the most runnable trail on the Ute 100 course. It is nearly flat, smooth, and has almost no shade of any kind.  It would be a great trail to run on for a sunrise run but I do not recommend running it in the heat of a mid-summer day.  As I shuffled along I recognized that I was likely running too much for the heat, so I slowed to a walk.  I am not a good at walking slowly, and I think I was walking too fast because I could slowly feel my internal temperature heating up.  I sipped on water, but it was hot and made me want to gag.  I tried to move slower as the heat nausea gradually set in.

Baking in the hot sun, I began to vomit.  I lost track of how many times I puked.  Puking turned to dry heaves as my stomach completely emptied.  My hot water was repulsive.  I nibbled on a Cheeto, it seemed okay but I couldn’t bring myself to eat another one.  I sat down under a bush in an attempt to cool off.  It didn’t seem to help much so I got up and walked a bit further before sitting down again in a small patch of shade. More vomiting.  I wondered if I could just stay here until sunset. Miner’s aid station was visible 3 miles away, but I wasn’t sure how I would get there. Several guys passed me, all of them suffering as well.  An aid station volunteer came walking down the trail with some bottles of Gatorade.  I had a few sips, it was hot but better than my disgusting water.

Somehow, I made it to Miner’s aid station where Matt was waiting anxiously for me.  They had ice there and I was able to cool my body temperature down while Matt served me the most delicious ice-cold milk.  I stayed for 90 minutes; drinking cold milk, ramen noodles, a little beer, anything that would stay down.  The medic let me lay down in her air-conditioned car and I watched as lady after lady came and went.  It was okay. This race was no longer about winning, I just needed to finish. I thought about quitting, but I was at Leo’s aid station and as such I wasn’t allowed to quit.

When I finally left Miner’s aid station I did not want to continue, but there was nothing else to be done.  I was still nauseous, and I wasn’t sure if I could emotionally handle another puke session.  The sun set as I slowly made my way around the 6 mile loop. With the cooler temperatures my spirits gradually lifted.  I decided that even if I wasn’t going to be competitive, I could at least finish this race in style. It was time for the tequila shot-ski.

Back at Miner’s I had a cup of ramen with the most delicious bone broth I’ve ever tasted in my life. We got out the shot-ski and celebrated the ridiculousness that is ultrarunning. I chowed down a couple of Rocky Road Oreos and began the long hike back to the Hazzard County aid station.

While I was running on the sandy Jimmy Keen and Miner’s Basin trails I had switched back to my very comfortable, but minimally cushioned shoes.  I was still wearing those shoes during my hike back up to Hazzard County, and this was a mistake.  The trail was extremely rocky and my feet were taking a beating.  There was nothing I could do about it so I told myself to suck it up, I could change shoes once I got to the aid station.

I got to the aid station but Matt was nowhere to be found.  I sat down, had a cup of noodles and some hashbrowns, but still no Matt.  It didn’t make sense to wait any longer, so I got back on the trail.  The forest was filled with the sounds of herds of cattle, their eyes shining out at me from the abyss.  It was more than a little terrifying, and I made an adrenaline-fueled push to the Trans La Sal aid station.

When I got to the aid station I was informed that I was first lady.  How was this possible???  I had long ago given up on competing and I was solely focused on just making it to the finish line.  I didn’t want to be 1st, I didn’t want to race at all, I wanted to just be. Matt urged me to hurry in and out of the aid station to maintain my position, but I just didn’t have any competitive spirit left.  We changed my shoes; my sore feet had swollen and putting on my cushioned shoes felt very tight.  I could feel every seam pressing against my feet and I had a feeling this race was going to end with a hobble.

The 2nd placed lady, Amber, arrived while I was sitting at the aid station and we left the aid station together.  I decided I wanted company, and Amber and her pacer were gracious enough to let me tag along for the next hour or so.  They were super cool ladies and I hoped we could maybe push each other to faster times.  Sadly, Amber was feeling super nauseous so I went ahead as her pace slowed.

I arrived at La Sal Pass in 1st place and feeling like a complete imposter.  I had spent so much of the day puking and sitting on my ass.  I did not deserve to be here in this position.  I decided to practice some self-sabotage and hung out at the aid station to allow the trailing ladies to catch up.  I don’t really understand what was going on in my head at this time.  I had 16 miles left, I should have been pushing to the finish!

Amber arrived, and then the 3rd place lady, Lee.  Lee left the aid station first so I figured I should probably get my butt moving as well.  My feet were very sore and I could barely manage a shuffle, but I was moving forward.  10 minutes later Amber passed me with her pacer. She had managed a rally puke and was moving super well!  I cheered her down the trail.

I hobbled along as the sun rose, stopping once to try to tape my feet but it did not seem to help.

I puked.

I puked again.

I had no explanation or solution for the puking so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  The last climb of the race was super steep, but my feet didn’t hurt on the uphill so I actually kind of enjoyed it.    The final descent can only be described as slow.  I was so sore, I could not run a step.  The sun rose higher and it got hotter.  I did not want to suffer through another scorcher, I needed to get to the finish line. I knew there was one last water drop before the end, but it was nowhere to be seen.  In my sleep-deprived state I thought the last water drop was 14 miles from the finish.  As time went by and the drop failed to appear I became panicked. My feet were so sore!  How could I still have more than 14 miles to go?!

When I saw the white tent of the water drop I breathed a deep sigh of relief, and then when I saw the sign that said 3.25 miles to the finish my eyes swelled with tears.  3 miles.  I could do that!  I had my music playing so I told myself I just needed to walk for 15 more songs, 5 songs per mile.

Worried about how long I was taking, Matt had driven up the road to see where I was.  I told him I was fine and he went back to the finish line to let them know I was on my way in.  My friend Leo ran up the road and paced me for the last mile.  It was nice to see a friendly face, but then he mentioned that there was a runner coming up behind me and that I had to run.  This was the last think I wanted to hear and my feet screamed at me with every step, but his scare tactic worked. I managed to shuffle the final 100 metres to the finish line.

Final stats – 159kms, 6100m, 31 hours, 3rd female. Tired and sore, but thankful for the opportunity to experience this beautiful part of the world.

 

What did I learn?

  • Altitude messes with race nutrition.  If I make it into Hardrock I need to hire a sports dietician.
  • I suck at heat.  I’m at the point now, where I think I will actively avoid races with a reputation for being hot.
  • My feet seem to be growing.  A couple of years ago I was wearing size 8 shoes, now I ‘m moving up to 9.5.
  • I don’t know how to move slowly.  In the first half of the course, I tried to move slowly to allow for digestion but I don’t think I ever really slowed down enough.  I got a little food down, but I always felt nauseous.  Later, when I was on the hottest part of the course, I tried to move slowly so that I wouldn’t overheat. I definitely didn’t slow down enough, as I was a total disaster by the time I got to the aid station.

 

Thank you:

  • To all of the race course volunteers, you put a smile on my face even when I wasn’t feeling it.  The hashbrowns, bone broth, grilled cheese sandwiches, ramen noodles and everything else I ate was delicious!
  • To Sean, The Ute was a true adventure and I loved (nearly) every step of the course.  I am truly looking forward to watching this race evolve, and I may even come back one day when the pain isn’t so fresh.
  • To Leo, thanks for the endless supply of Oreos and liquor.  And thank you for being a friendly face to drag me out of my self-pity.
  • To Matt, for being the ultimate crew.  I’m not sure I could have reached that finish line without you.
  • To Spry, thank you for all of your support.  I will be back to get more shoes, as it appears my feet have grown 🙂

Sphincter Level 5 – Mount French

I’m not really into writing trip reports.  There is tons of info already on the internet if you take the time to look for it, and I’m always happy to share a GPX track if someone requests it.  That being said, I go a lot of places where I don’t really recommend other people to go.  I end up off route and bushwhacking on most of my solo trips.  It’s rare that I finish a trip where I don’t have at least a few cuts and bruises.  I don’t feel the need to inflict those wounds on other people.

Today I will make an exception to this rule.  I had such a good time on Mount French that I feel the need to share my joy.  This was easily one of my favourite mountain outings ever!

(Small caveat here, I went through a bit of a mountain withdrawal while I was working on my road running, my joy at being back in the mountains is definitely exaggerated right now.)


One week out from my Trans-Alberta adventure, I wasn’t sure if a big scrambling trip up Mount French was a good idea.  However, I had been eyeing this mountain for 3 years and if I was serious about it I likely wouldn’t have a better opportunity: the weather was perfect, the trip was being lead by experienced peakbagger Brandon Boulier, and we would be moving at a hiking pace so it shouldn’t be too intense.

I messaged my friend Philippe who always seems to be up for crazy adventures and he agreed to tag along.  Brandon brought along Sheena, another scrambler, which made our party a team of 4.  We arrived at the Burstall Pass trailhead at 5:30am, just as the sun was rising.  The views were already breathtaking.

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The trail up to French glacier was recently maintained, with fresh flagging and much of the deadfall cleared.  It made for a very pleasant walk in the crisp morning air. 2 hours into our hike we had reached the toe of the French glacier.

The snow was frozen hard and I’m a chicken so I immediately put on my microspikes.  Brandon is more confident that I and he was able to hike up without spikes and no issues.  The views opened up as we climbed up to the pass and when we crested the top I was blown away by what we saw!  The Haig glacier had been groomed for cross country skiing and there were about 20 skiers out for their morning workout.  I knew this facility existed, but seeing it in person was a whole new experience.  I would highly recommend  this hike to anyone who cares to put in the effort, just make sure you get there early before the snow gets slushy so that you can see the skiers. I promise you won’t regret it!

 

Now comes the part of the trip which I would not recommend to most individuals.  This route has a lot of hazards, and is only appropriate for experienced scramblers.

After ogling the skiers for a few minutes we began our ascent of Mount French.  The slope is very steep and loose, so we had to be careful not to kick rocks on each other.  The scree up to the summit ridge is horrible.  We did not find a good line and there was a lot of treadmilling going on.  At one point Sheena wondered if she was even moving at all.

Just as our frustration level with the scree was reaching a maximum, we crested the summit ridge and all of our effort was worth it for that view!

The summit ridge is narrow and very exposed at times.  The rock is loose and you must be careful to always push into the mountain instead of pulling on the rocks.  Route finding is very simple, in most cases you only have one choice for where to go.  The entire ridge is over 3000m, and I have not been in the mountains as much as usual.  I could feel that my heart rate was much higher than normal, but it’s hard to say if that was due to the altitude, or just adrenaline from the exposure.

I felt surprisingly comfortable for most of the scramble.  Everything appeared worse than it was.  My least favourite section was not the narrow ridges, but rather a loose, narrow ledge we had to walk along.  I felt like someone should come up here with a broom and sweep all the loose rocks off.

The final challenge during our summit ascent was a short chimney.  We weren’t sure if it would be filled in with snow and ice, so we were happy to discover that you could ascend it by climbing on dry rock.

After snacks and photos on the summit block we made our way back. We were elated to have successfully navigated the ridge, but a little apprehensive about having to do it all over again in reverse.  The return trip on the ridge proved to be a little tougher – exposed downclimbs are always scarier than exposed upclimbs – but we all managed by taking it very slowly.

The scree route down was much easier, and the rest of the trip was just a very nice walk down through the valley.  It was a hot day, and the mosquitoes were out in force so we did not lollygag. 12 hours after we started we were back in the parking lot, sunburnt and high on life.

It will be hard to top this trip, and I enjoyed it so much that I am pretty sure I will do it again.  Maybe as a point to point trail run via Turbine Canyon, just to keep things fresh.  Who wants to come with me?

Happy Trails!

Magic

“Whatever you can do,

Or think you can, begin it.

Boldness has power, and genius,

And magic in it.”  ~Goethe~


 

In life, it is rare to fully commit to anything. We are taught that it is wise to always have a backup plan; that an all-or-nothing approach is rash.  Perhaps this is true, but I think this approach also misses out on the magic.  Dave’s record attempt is bold and full of magic, and I aim to capture a piece of that with my run across Alberta.

 


Running takes a lot of time.  When I’m not running, such as during a taper, I often find myself with more free time than I know what to do with. It can make me anxious and grouchy. I dislike tapering so much than I often just don’t do it.

Going into the run across Alberta, there’s no question that I need to taper.  My last training block left me feeling completely spent, often spending the first few minutes of the day limping around the house until my ankles had loosened up enough for me to walk normally. Likewise, the first few kilometres of any run had me feeling like an elephant lumbering along the asphalt. I am nothing if not stubborn so I kept pushing on. Now that the taper is here, I am happy to take a break from lumbering and spend a week hibernating.

Sadly I’m not a bear, so it quickly became evident that hibernating for an entire week was not a viable option.   To fill my non-sleeping, non-running void I decided to go to the library and get some books.  During my taper I have read:

  • Running on Empty, the story of Marshall Ulrich’s trans-America record attempt
  • North, Jenny and Scott Jurek’s account of setting the Appalachian Trail FKT, and
  • The Perfect Mile, an historical novel about the rush to break the 4 minute mile.

Each book contains fascinating narratives about the strength of the human spirit and the physical limits of endurance.  The characters went after impossibly bold goals without reserve.  Not all of them succeeded, but each runner gave themselves 100% to the task and saw it through to the end.  I dare you to read these books and not be inspired.

At this time next week I will be going after a big, bold goal.  I don’t know that I can do it, but I think I can.  I am chasing the magic.

 

What’s up with all the road running???

Pushing my limits. Stepping out of my comfort zone.  Getting comfortable with failure … or maybe just reframing how I view failure. These are things I’ve been working on for a few years now.  Last year was characterized by some of my biggest successes and most spectacular failures (or learning experiences as I prefer to call them).  It was exciting, and it made me want to test my boundaries in new ways.  Maybe I could fail even more spectacularly!  Or maybe I would discover that I am stronger than I ever dreamed possible. 

 

This summer Dave Proctor will be exploring the limits of human endurance by running across Canada on foot, setting a world record in the process.  His goal is to complete the crossing in 66 days, averaging 108km/day, and raising a million dollars for rare disease.  I’ve always been enamoured by the idea of running across Canada (Terry Fox was my childhood hero), so I immediately wanted to be involved in some way with his record attempt.  I mentioned to Dave that I would love to join him for a portion of the run and he suggested that I run across Alberta with him.  That way I could run with him AND get a record for the fastest (female) crossing of Alberta.  At first, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of running across the flat Prairie from Calgary to the Saskatchewan border, I wanted to join him for a more mountainous leg, but gradually the idea took hold.  What better way to challenge myself? This was an opportunity to redefine myself as a runner and learn about myself as a human being.  Sure, I can hike up hills all day long, but did I have the mental fortitude to keep my feet moving, one step in front of the other on the endlessly flat prairie?  I decided that I wanted to find out.   

 

Running across Alberta with Dave means I will be running 550km in 5 days. This is far beyond anything I have ever attempted.  I’m not sure that it is even within my physical capabilities, but there is only one way to find out.  I have been training and testing myself to see where my breaking point is.  I started out this fall by joining my friend Leo for a circumnavigation of the city bike paths (see Strava).  I reasoned that if I finished the run and I wasn’t completely destroyed, then the trans-Alberta attempt may be possible. The run was not entirely smooth, but it wasn’t terrible. Some cold weather moved in during the afternoon, my asthma acted up a bit, and I started to feel sorry for myself.  Luckily, I was saved by a couple of angels named Rich and Kristy who fed me hot soup, cheeseburgers and Timbits.  The soup soothed my lungs and the calories fueled my legs.  I finished that run feeling strong! 

 

My goal for the last several months has been to slowly increase my road miles and decrease my trail time.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature has had other plans.  This has been one of the snowiest, coldest winters on record.  It seems like every time I try to go out for a road run, the paths are snow and ice covered.   It makes me wonder why I don’t just go trail running.  On top of that, my asthma has been very bad in the cold weather.  I can handle low intensity hiking or xc skiing, but running in the cold just destroys me.  A couple of months ago I gave up the fight against Mother Nature and decided to just go with the flow. If the weather and conditions weren’t conducive to long road runs, I would simply ski, hike or snowshoe instead.  When I made this shift in attitude it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.  I went back to spending lots of time on my feet (not necessarily running) and I felt like my endurance began to build back up. 

 

Over the last few weeks Spring has made a few appearances.  The trails are still very snowy, but the city paths are mostly cleared of snow and ice, and the temperature is warm enough to breathe.  I have started to introduce some longer adventures and I’ve really enjoyed them.  A month ago, we xc skied 50km and followed that up with a couple of laps of Moose Mountain Road.  Three weekends ago I did a 10hr snowshoe followed by a 31 km road run.  Then, when we were hit by yet another snow storm, I joined Dave and Tristan for a treadmill marathon.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would run a marathon on a treadmill, and yet there I was, running on a treadmill AND enjoying myself!  Last weekend I endured 4.5 hours of snowy trails on Saturday, followed by 50km on the road on Sunday, accompanied by my friend Philippe. I was feeling pretty stiff by the end of the road run, but we maintained our pace and my recovery seems to be okay. Having never trained for anything like this in the past, I’m not sure where I will want to cap my volume at, but I plan to listen to my body and back off when I need to.  I also plan to continue to incorporate trails/mountains into my training; at least one mountain and one trail run per week will keep me a happy camper 🙂 

 

Hydration and fueling with lots of calories will be key for the trans-Alberta attempt.  My focus for the long runs is to drink regularly and eat as much food as possible without getting nauseous.  I’m also trying to increase the variety of what I eat.  Things that work really well include: Timbits, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Mars bars, peanut butter and banana wraps, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, Honey Stinger waffles, rice noodle wraps with soy sauce, Sour Dinos, Oreos, pudding, and every flavour Jelly Beans. I also think potato pancakes may be a good item to add the mix.  What food do you like to eat while you run?  I’m interested in easily digested carbs that won’t melt. 

 

That’s it for now. Expect a few posts about some very long runs in the next couple of months. 

 

Happy Trails!