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Buckin’ Hell Race Recap

Because I’m a very lazy blogger – and tired – I’m cutting and pasting my Facebook race synopsis, so apologies if you follow me there…

My legs feel like they’ve been beaten with sticks. That’s what I get for running Coast Mountain Trail Series races. Buckin’ Hell lived up to it’s name (and I may have replaced that B with an F a couple times near the end) and was exactly what I expected it to be. May have come in last, but at least I finished it (21.1km with 4300ft of ascent/descent)!

Here’s the map so you can appreciate my suffering today:

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Thoughts:

– uphills suck. I will complain about this after every trail race. Why can’t trail races have a nice flat 5km warm up?
– downhills are awesome: Forever After and 3 Chop made the run worth it.
– ran with music, which I usually don’t do, but wanted it for uphill inspiration. My iPod is a genius and played the right songs at the right times. Bad Habit by The Offspring (eclectic + old school) had me cursing like a sailor in the middle of the woods, exactly when I needed it – Old Buck I’m talking about you…
– trail volunteers are awesome (Colin and Spud were directing runners and traffic). They genuinely seemed excited for me rather than making me feel like I was holding up their afternoons.

Overall, I am happy with my race.
– My hiking skills are a lot better than they used to be.
– My nutrition was a bit off – should have eaten more, sooner.
– I didn’t fall, however, I tripped a bit on a root and almost fell off the side of a hill which scared me a bit.
– I didn’t cry, but I almost did on the switchbacks up to the lookout as I was sore and just wanted to turn around.
– mentally I’m good. I’m convinced that if you can survive being last (and not for the first time) you can survive anything. Pretty sure some would call that stubborn.

How is your weekend going?  Any races or runs today or tomorrow?  Let me know!

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Survival of the Fittest 13km Race Recap

It is with much surprise that I have actually taken a seat in front of the computer long enough to post a race recap.  Generally, as you’ll know if you follow this blog, I write things well after the fact (or not at all).  Since I’m feeling lazy my recap is going to be one point per kilometer of the race…

Race: Survival of the Fittest (a Coast Mountain Trail Series race)

Distance: 13(.33)km

Type: Trail

Ascent / Descent: 533m / 524m (although the site says 700m for both[?]) measured with my so-fancy-it-should-be-accurate Suunto Ambit2

Weather: Sunny and, at times, HOT (on the Ambit2 was 27.5C at it’s hottest and 22C average)

Finish Time: 2:13:40

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This race runs from Quest University in Squamish, BC, and follows much of the first part of the 23km race that I ran last summer as part of the Squamish50 race weekend.

Here are 13 things about my race yesterday in no particular order:

1.  Switchbacks suck.  Or, rather, I suck at switchbacks.  Maybe a little bit of both.  The fact that this race is basically uphill right off the bat does not play into my favour.  I know that it takes me about 5km to settle into a race so I spent a good long time plodding along.  Having a cold this week and being a ball of phlegm didn’t help.

2.  I’m slow.  My main goal for this race other than finish was to not finish last.  Spoiler alert: Goal Achieved!

3.  A well-flagged course makes a huge difference.  The RD, Gary Robbins, likes his flagging.  This much I’ve learned in the races that I’ve done so far (Squamish 23km and Cap Crusher).  Some – not me – might think it verges on the excessive, but as a newbie trail runner I can say that the sight of those little pink flags is very comforting.  As referenced in point 2 I am not the fastest runner so it’s not unusual that I don’t see people around to follow.  Flags are my friends in the forest.  If I can see flags I know I’m not traipsing about aimlessly.

4.  This course reminds me of Dagobah (rooty) and Endor (mossy).  Seriously, I kept expecting Yoda or an Ewok to pop out and run with me.

Yeah, I am a big nerd.  I also have an almost 7 year old who’s a bit obsessed with Star Wars already.  So, yeah.

5.  I love downhills.  There is an amazing downhill stretch after the aid station where I get that uncontrolled/controlled tumbleweed sensation that I love so much.

6.  Having people you know on course makes it fun.  Colin was a marshal at the point where the 18km racers rejoined the 13km course.  He took our Nuun cowbell and cheered for runners.  It was nice to see a friendly face since I wasn’t feeling completely spectacular at that point.  A lot of our other trail running friends came out as well to volunteer.

7.  I wore my sparkle skirt.  What I can’t make up in speed I made up in style.  I got a ton of complements on it so I was happy that I didn’t self-consciously chicken out of wearing it.  Hopefully the official photo is decent since I didn’t take my camera and Colin left for his spot before I started my race.

8.  Drinking tea on the drive up was a poor choice.  I thought I had enough time to process it (yeah, pee), but it turns out I did not.  I spent much of the first part being sloshy.  It was gross.  I wanted to drink because I was hot, but not because it would mean more slosh.  I’m smart so I hydrated, but definitely could have done without the issue.

9.  Speaking of issues, watch this “Marathon Thoughts” video at 1:57.  That was me for the last 3.5km.  It was unhappy.  Mostly because it was all downhill, which made it feel unbearable, but also because I LOVE downhill (see point 5) and I was disappointed/angry that I couldn’t enjoy it.  Additionally, I had finally passed someone with a yellow bib (13km racer) and was damned if I was going to let her pass me again.  This was a definite character building aspect of the race.  And one I do not wish to repeat.

10.  My race day nutrition sucked.  I didn’t eat properly the night before the race; I had a lemon raspberry loaf slice to go along with my bad-choice tea because it was too early when I left to eat my Picky Bar; I only had 1 gel (mmm, Hammer Apple-Cinnamon) when I should have probably had 2.  I know better.

11.  Colin and I had really good tacos for lunch at Casa Norte Taqueria in Squamish post-race.  I love Mexican food and this was perfect.  One chicken, one pork, and one fish (which was my favourite).  Not sure if they were the food truck I went to after the 23km last summer…

12.  I won a race entry into Buckin’ Hell in June!!  All I had to do was explain what the race was about.  I’m not a public speaker, but no one else was going and this was already on my race schedule so I was happy to get it.  I’ll be doing the 21.1km race – Deep Cove to Seymour Lookout and back.

13.  It never ceases to amaze me how welcoming and supportive the trail running community is.  For me, it’s nice to be able to meet people I only “know” through social media or who are friends of friends.  I don’t think anyone ran by me on the trail that didn’t say hi or comment on my skirt or ask how I was doing.  I tried to do the same with them.  I’m fairly certain the one runner who was injured was tired of people asking if he was doing okay (he would be) – I wasn’t the first or last person to go by.  There is a genuine interest from everyone involved in how you did no matter how fast or slow.  The ability to finish is treated as a feat in and of itself as opposed to simply how fast you went.  That, and you don’t get a high-five from the RD at any old race.  The point is: trail running is different and that’s what makes it special.  Pardon the sappiness…

So there you have it.  My 4th race of the year in a nutshell.  Next up: Buckin’ Hell 21.1 on 21 June 2014.  I’m such a sucker for punishment.

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I Didn’t Cry and I Didn’t Trip

Training for this year’s Squamish 50 race is in full swing in our household as Colin and I are both signed up to run the 50km.  For the most part we’ve been able to hit the trails on alternating days on the weekends and have been fortunate enough to run with like-minded crazies (Colin’s running partner is training for Ironman Canada!).  However, my luck ran out yesterday and, though not for a lack of trying, I wasn’t able to find anyone to run with.  So I did something I’ve never done: I ran by myself.  On. A. Trail.

Let me preface the rest of this post with the disclaimer that I am a bit of a scaredy cat.  I don’t like things that go bump in the night, scary movies, and/or setting myself up to be scared (see: Fright Nights, etc.).  I like social runs and the warm-fuzzies that go along with them.  This wasn’t really my cup of tea – the one sitting next to me on the desk is – but I put on my big-girl capris and went for a run!

Due to scheduling – Colin running to the top of Grouse from the car dealership and Spud attending a birthday party  – I knew my run wouldn’t be starting until the late afternoon.  It was a bit weird waiting all day to go for a run.  I fueled incredibly well with birthday party snacks like watermelon, banana, and popcorn twists.  On my way out the door I grabbed a Picky Bar for the drive there.  I was probably a little dehydrated, but actually felt okay otherwise.

My run of choice was Buntzen Lake loop via Lakeview trail and I started at 4pm.  I had 2 options planned.  I would either run the east side of the lake out to North Beach and return the same way if I wasn’t feeling brave.  If I was, though, I would go Lakeview.  I started out and promptly messed up my fancy watch (Suunto Ambit 2) that I don’t really know how to use so I had to stop it and begin again.  I think it was only a minute so no big deal…  There were a few people out on the trail still.  The sun had come out and it was warmer than I expected.  The section to North Beach is rolling hills with a couple of small switchbacks and is pretty scenic:

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I reached North Beach in half an hour where I decided I didn’t need to pee, laughed (to myself) at the Scout leader trying to talk a group of ~12 year old boys into looking his way for a picture, and crossed the mini suspension bridge since I was apparently being brave and headed to Lakeview:

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Lakeview Trail is my favourite of the Buntzen trails that I’ve run.  It’s just the right amount of difficult for me.  The lower loop is too flat and gravelly and, while Diez Vistas is an amazing workout, I just don’t love it despite the specatular – on a good day – views.  Lakeview I could run all day.  I don’t know if everyone runs the lake counter-clockwise, but I like the warm up the run out to North Beach gives me.  It usually takes ~30min/~5km for me to get into any run so that fits the bill.

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If you’ve run Lakeview this way you’ll know that there is a little steep hill that cuts up to a trailhead.  This hill is my nemesis.  In the 2 years I’ve been running Buntzen I’ve never reached the top actually running.  Usually I’ll stop somewhere, complain about it, and hike the rest.  It’s been my goal to beat it for a while.  And yesterday I did!

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I’m not sure why (repressed memories, maybe?), but I always forget how many switchbacks there are to get up to where Lakeview is runnable.  I’m not a great climber so half the reason I wanted to do this trail was to practice.  I knew that I would be able to power hike better, and likely faster, than running so that’s what I focused on.  Thankfully the hard work at my bootcamp class is paying off because I definitely felt stronger!  Still slow, but stronger…  I think it took about 15min to get to some sort of level rather than just up.  It was quite shady in the forest, but not at all dark (although I did bring my headlamp just in case of an emergency).

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Once the trail stopped climbing I had a good time.  It’s rolling and technical enough that I couldn’t zone out unless I wanted to bail.  I didn’t see a single person on the entirety of Lakeview and that was okay.  I only had the crap scared out of me once – I may or may not have jumped, but I do know my heart rate spiked! – by fallen tree roots that tricked me into thinking they were a bear foraging in the ferns.  I didn’t go back and take a picture, but the trees were silhouetted like this:

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Close to the point of descent there is a little waterfall so I, of course, stopped to take a picture and a selfie:

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By now I was pretty much ready to be done.  I had to make my way down the hill and back over to the lots.  Unfortunately I had 2hrs on the schedule and I was stubborn enough to want to make it at least to that.  I had about 15min to go by the time I reached the parking lots so started running in circles to make it up.  Please tell me I’m not the only one whose maps look like this:

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I ended my run with 2hrs, 12km, and 424m/1391ft of ascent in the books.  Pretty happy overall with how my first ever solo trail run went.  Can’t say I want to do them all that often, but I did gain some much needed confidence.  Ended the day with a couple of selfies and headed home…

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See you on the trails!

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Bloglovin’

I haven’t been reading blogs for awhile, but the start of a new year seems like as good a time as any to begin again… mainly because I found a new (to me) blog reader: Bloglovin’. I like the look of it and WordPress’ mobile reader was awful. Find me there and, if you have a blog, I’ll follow you back!

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Rainbows and Unicorns: 2013 23km at Squamish 50 recap

If you’ve read my ramblings for any length of time you have probably noticed that I’m terrible at recapping events within a suitable amount of time. Sometimes it’s because I’m lazy. Sometimes it’s because I’m busy. Sometimes a race is too personal of an experience to really want to share (ahem, Ragnar Northwest Passage). However, I’m a firm believer in “better late than never”. Now is as good a time as any to recap my experience at the 2013 23km Squamish 50 race.

Fair warning now: this is a long point-form brain dump!

1. Colin and I both ran the 23km race. It was highly recommended to not let this be your first trail race. It was our 2nd. And about twice as long as the first…
2. The sunrise along the Sea to Sky highway was really pretty.
3. We made a pit stop at the McDonalds in Squamish before finding parking/shuttle. We lost each other between the car and the bathrooms. And wasted time never being in the same spot at the same time.
4. Drove out to the race parking lot and assumed that we were in the correct spot judging by all the other cold runners standing around.
5. Bus trip to start was a bit disorganized, but zero race expectations equals no stress. Eventually got on bus – which is WAY more fun as a kid when 3 to a row isn’t insanely squished – and chatted with a few other people. I think they were from Texas.
6. Bus got lost. Should have gone straight at roundabout to Quest University. A left meant a really tight three point turn!
7. Immediately got into portapotty line. PB4UGO!
8. Made Colin take awkward selfies.
9. Tried not to freak out just before start.
10. Knowing my place, lined up at back. Still got passed immediately!
11. Yay little downhill! Crap, uphill so soon? Walk. Already.
12. Another runner asks if my Nuun tattoo on my shoulder is real. No. However, I was quite proud of my placement as I figured most people would pass on my left and therefore see it…
13. Head off road and into trail. I read trail description, but have never run there so was very thankful for LOTS of flagging.
14. Walk some more. Switchbacks! Try not to play the mind game of being too slow. Hyperventilating and running doesn’t work.
15. It’s already warm.
16. Started bunny-hopping with Dave from Kelowna, who came down with a few friends, but wasn’t running with them. We decided it was easier to just run together.
17. Attack of the mofo wasps! Like many that day we were victims of the wasps. I’m new to trail running so didn’t even think what I was feeling was a sting. I had my bib on my leg and, thinking a pin got loose, stopped to adjust it. That’s when Dave yelled that he go stung on the ankle and yelled at me to run! We sprinted for a little bit and then stopped to inspect. He flicked a wasp off his sock. I discovered that a wasp had actually flown under my bib and not only stung me, but did so twice. I later found out that the nest was virtually on the path.
18. Fire road to first aid station. Thankfully a volunteer was guiding the way and let us know not to do the extra loop the longer races had to do.
19. Could have had cream for my stings, but figured the dull pain was better than dropping my pants.
20. DOWNHILL!! One of my favourite parts of the whole race. Super fun – and probably lucky I didn’t tumbleweed down…
21. Uphill? Darn it. Walk. It’s faster.
22. Caught up to twitter friend Diana. Felt bad that I didn’t get to run much with her, but it wasn’t her day and she urged me to run ahead.
23. I think this was the clearing next. It was warm, pretty, and I had no idea where I was or what direction I was going in.
24. Played catch up with Dave. As long as I knew he was just ahead or behind I didn’t feel like I was lost.
25. Proved my “be safe” skills were warranted. Came across a girl who had fallen and hurt her ankle. She was with a couple of friends, but I left her with the foil blanket I had in my pack so she didn’t get too cold.
26. Downhill some more! Then fire road, drizzle (?), mucky road, dam (didn’t look down – it made me queasy), little uphill, gel stop due to dust cloud caused by logging truck, meander, aid station.
27. Foolishly didn’t have flat pop at aid. Thought it would mess with my stomach, but Colin said it was the best thing ever.
28. Back into the woods. Passed by a mountain biker. Meander along.
29. Hear music from Squamish Valley Music Festival.
30. Hot. Very thankful I put Nuun in my pack.
31. Pretty paths.
32. UPHILL?!?! WTF?
33. Mountain of Phlegm. Says it all. Hiked to top. Pretty sure the path up was solely so they could get good photos. Thank you, Rob, for only posting the one of me walking, not pulling a really ugly face…
34. Decided to tell Dave I’d see him at end. Shamelessly really wanted to beat him. Downhill!! A little steep, but fun!
35. Civilization aka a park/trails with people on them.
36. Passed a portapotty knowing a) I only had about 3km left and b) if I stopped I would never start again.
37. Felt a little lost. Got to highway and assumed I was going right way, but concert traffic control wasn’t hugely helpful. And very friendly lady was misinformed as she told me I had 5km left.
38. Pathway along river. Windy. Nice, but secluded. Oddly felt more uneasy being alone here than alone on trail.
39. Road. Almost done. Longest kilometre of my race.
40. Finish line! Fully expected Colin to be waiting, but I was a bit faster than I anticipated so I was yelling for him as I came in. He got a couple of pictures, but they really aren’t that good…
41. Done! 4:05:58. Probably could have broken 4 hours, but no expectations was way more fun.
42. First drink at finish: pop!
43. Got changed, drank beer – this never happens, cheered in friends (23km/50km), ate cupcakes, ate fish tacos, ate cabbage rolls (please invite them back, and ask for them to have perogies in 2014), sat, visited.
44. Dinner in Whistler with new friends. Happened upon a Mother Mother concert prior to so it was kind of a date night!

Here is why this race is one of my favourites: it wasn’t hard.

Before I catch flak for that let me explain. I have had a year of “hard” races and runs. Ones where I collapse mentally or where I feel like I’m the slowest person in the world. Races like BMO Vancouver marathon where I wanted to quit at 14km. I was quite sick and tired of having “character building” runs. The reason I had no time goals for the 23km was because I didn’t want the pressure. I knew going in that I might come in close to last. And I was fine with that.

So, yes, the 23km was physically challenging. But I had a fantastic experience and, for that reason, it wasn’t hard.

And it’s the memory of rainbows and unicorns that made me sign up for the 50km race this morning.

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9 Days and Counting

Wow.

This half marathon has crept up on me.  It’s hard to believe that I have a mere 9 days before I am going to run 21.1km.

I must admit straight off that I am under-trained.  This was not the goal, but it is the reality.  I was doing fairly well until life happened.  I’m not using it as an excuse – really, I’m sure I could have put my head down and soldiered on – but August turned into a bit of a break for me.

I ran the 23km race at Squamish 50 this summer.  It was amazing and crazy and hard – yes, I will eventually do a recap – and it wore. me. out.  I took a good week off from any running and that kind of turned into a couple of weeks.  And then we went to Disneyland at the end of August.  To my credit there was a lot of walking, but it wasn’t training by any means.

So, the 29th will be a bit of a test.  I know I won’t be fast.  I know I won’t PR.  I know I can’t be surprised by whatever time I finish in.  But I do know that I will enjoy myself.  I have a couple of friends running it (both the half and full).  I honestly am quite excited about the new route.

You can still sign up if you find you’re in need of a race – they have the full, half, 5k, and kids run.  But do so this weekend.  Prices increase on the 24th!

If you aren’t interested in running or if you have a goal race in October please come by and cheer!  I know I’m not the only one who appreciates a little cow bell!


An Ambassadorship

It’s that time of the running year when training for a fall event is in full swing. And, amazingly, I have a fall race to train for. I have been asked to be a blogger for the Surrey International World Music Marathon! I was a blogger for their inaugural race in 2012 and I’m excited to be invited back.

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Last year I ran the half on a bit of training and, while I had a good time, it was nowhere near to being a PR-worthy race performance. This year things are different. I’ve been running a lot more as well as cross training. I am hoping that I can PR or at least come close! I am also hoping the medal is similar to last year’s 3″ round behemoth!

The course this year has been redone to be less on closed roads and more in city parks. This should be great for the runners! I live close to Surrey, but rarely go over (have to cross a bridge!) so it will be nice to see a bit more of the city.

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If you live in Metro Vancouver I would love to see you there! The race runs on Sunday, 29 September 2013. There is a marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, half marathon relay, 5km, and Kids Fun Run. It is friendly to pretty much all abilities and ages of runners!

If you have other goal races – I know there are lots in October – this is a great opportunity to give back to the running community and volunteer. I’d love to see / hear you out on course! You can sign up here: www.surreymarathon.com/volunteer.

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