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50 for 50km: Squamish50 {Belated} Recap

As is my custom, this Squamish50 50km recap is overdue and randomness put to page.  I make no apologies.  Enjoy!

  1. Rookie mistake: I forgot my watch.   We were on Highway 1 at Capilano Road (25 minutes from home) before I noticed.  Thankfully it wasn’t our race day and we had left with enough time to go back and retrieve it.  It was on my living room table.
  2. Volunteering for a race (in my case, marshaling the 50mi the day before my own 50km) is a great way to feel bad about yourself psych yourself out be inspired. Colin and I were stationed before the finish line at Smoke Bluffs Park “Turn left, stay left, just over 2km to go…”  We got to see the lead pack come through and, wow, it’s amazing how fast people can run and not look like death.  I’m sure it would be different later in the race, but I didn’t see too many vacant non-comprehending stares.  Just one or two that I kept an eye on to make sure they turned the right way…
  3. Seeing friends (and familiar faces aka “friends” I “know” through online “stalking”) finish their races/journeys was incredible. There were a lot of emotions on show at the finish line both on the Saturday (50mi) and Sunday (50km/23km).  It felt like an honour to have others share how their days went as sometimes events like these are extremely personal.  **probably also why this race recap is a month past due **
  4. Pizza – Margherita, at Howe Sound Brewing, for those wondering – makes a good pre-race meal. However, when you decide that it’s so tasty you should have just one.more.piece, don’t.  It will end up as a ball of dough sitting just at the bottom of your esophagus, refusing to go into your stomach to be digested.  It will cause you to worry that you will have some very private issues out on the trails the next day.  It will mean that Imodium will be your friend.  Just in case.
  5. A 6am start time, with a 4:30am shuttle, means that going to bed late was dumb. Our wake up time was 3-something.  It came very early.
  6. Breakfast was a banana and a Blueberry Boomdizzle Picky Bar.
  7. When you see a person walking down an empty street at an ungodly hour of the morning in the pitch black and you know that the walk to the shuttles is a) still a ways to go and b) axe-murderer scary you stop and offer them a ride.
  8. Riding a school bus when you are an adult is weird. I still have issues with the no-seatbelt thing.
  9. You would think, for the only reason of not having a couple of hundred runners peeing (or worse) in the bushes at a provincial park, said park officials would have remembered to come by and unlock the good bathrooms. At least we remembered where the lesser known pit toilets were and we didn’t have to wait too long.
  10. Group selfies are a must. I love having friends who insist this is a race day requirement.
  11. There’s something fun about an RD who counts down his race standing atop a picnic table and then just yells, “Go!”, to start it off. It’s official, but personal.
  12. I feel a little badly for anyone who camped at Alice Lake on the weekend of 16-17 August 2014. It’s not usual for a few hundred people to run by your tent when you’re probably not even awake yet.  At least we weren’t bears?
  13. Embracing my slowness meant that a lot of people passed me right off the bat. And I caught up to them within about 8 minutes because we bottle-necked into the forest.  Ha!  Not that I saw them again after getting through that, but still.  I’ll take my victories where I can get them.
  14. Forest, forest, roots, a lake, forest, roots, small hill, forest, Ginger Runner, forest, roots, PANIC ATTACK.
  15. Approximately 2.5km into the run I had a full-on, breath into my paper bag buff, wheezing panic attack. I attribute it fully to not having any sort of breakdown during taper aka Taper Tantrums / Taper Crazies.  Next time I will happily freak my crap out prior to race day.  I don’t ever want to be standing on the side of the trail looking like the crazy as other runners go by again.  I really should have just bawled my eyes out and screamed at the trees to achieve some sort of catharsis.  Lesson learned.
  16. I am continually amazed that I won’t run around my neighbourhood by myself outside of standard lots-of-people-around hours, but I will run happily through the woods without too much stress. It probably has to do with the abundance of comfort-inducing pink flags leading my way.  Please read #4 here to get a better idea.
  17. I fell. I would like to think spectacularly, however, no one was close enough to see and verify this for me.  At 5.63km, roughly 52 minutes, into my run I had a stick completely jump out and trip me.  That is the only way I can think it happened as I was running in a flat loose dirt section.  One second I was running along minding my own business and the next I was seeing the ground come rushing up toward my face, my sunglasses go flying off my head, and my buff fly out of my hand into the dirt.  Immediately I checked to see if a) I was broken {no}, b) if Sherwood, my Suunto Ambit2, was okay {yes!}, c) if I was bleeding {no – mostly scratches and what would turn into a few excellent bruises}.  I dutifully hit the lap timer so I could know exactly when I was wronged and carried on.
  18. Hills are {{insert your favourite pejorative here}}.   Especially switchbacks.
  19. Having runners who were out to complete the inaugural 50/50 race – that’s 50mi Saturday AND 50km Sunday – pass you is a bit of a mood killer. Not that I wasn’t proud of perfect strangers for getting out there…
  20. Pit toilets are my friend. Which is why I was so happy to get to aid station 1 and that I knew where the secret toilet was.  Just wish it had had toilet paper.  The little bit that was crumpled up on the side was definitely a no-go.
  21. PLASTIC SCHEISSE & GALACTIC SCHEISSE! MUSIC!! MY iPOD IS A SHUFFLE GENIUS!!!  Roughly 5km of continual uphill called for a distraction.  Amazingly, I enjoyed every single song that played.  Thankfully no one was close enough to hear me singing Eminem’s Not Afraid incredibly loudly and likely very off-key.  I was having a great time.  Note: I am extremely glad I was able to do Galactic twice in training.  It was the one part of the trail that I was scared of.
  22. I ran (hiked?) into Barb on Galactic. I had run with her at Buckin’ Hell – I still haven’t quite forgiven her for dropping distance then… I was so close to not coming in last! – and it was awesome to see a familiar face.  We didn’t talk a ton as I had music in and was huffing and puffing along.  However, we kept pace and kept each other company.  We would end up running the majority of the race together which was great mentally for both of us.
  23. Random moment: as I was descending off of Galactic to Upper Power Smart I decided I was going to put my music away. I asked the next marshal – who turned out to be a guy I used to work with!  It wasn’t surprising that he was volunteering as I knew he was a downhill mountain biker and adventure racer.  It was just unexpected.
  24. Downhills are {{insert your favourite complement here}}.
  25. One of my goals was to make cutoff at Quest University, which was 11:15am. That gave me 5 hours and 15 minutes to get there.  I made it in 4 hours 43 minutes and left the aid station 10 minutes later.  Goal accomplished!
  26. Fig bars. Buy them.  They are, hands down, the best thing ever when running long distances.  I even forgot to peruse the aid station table at Quest for anything else.
  27. When at aid stations, peruse. I really wanted watermelon about 3km after leaving Quest.
  28. The one part of the trail I didn’t pre-run was Climb to Angry Midget. So glad I didn’t.  It was long and never-ending.  Had I known that was coming I would have dreaded it.  Instead I kept my head down and kept going.  I am a bit peeved that my legs didn’t want to let me enjoy the downhill at A.M.  It was the only part of the race that my knees hurt.
  29. Seeing a member of our running group at the bottom of A.M. was awesome. She even had a sign with our group name and the names of all of us who were running that weekend!  It was a huge morale boost.
  30. I finally got my desired watermelon at aid station 4. It was just as good as I wanted it to be.
  31. I don’t pee in the woods. I needed to.  I got stage fright 3 separate times.  Laugh if you want.  It ruined my favourite section of the whole run.  I couldn’t get any flow (pun intended), but each time I even thought about going I’d suddenly not have to anymore.  However…
  32. … Squamish50 will forever be known as “the day Alanna learned to pee in the woods” or, at least, “the day she found a log on the side of a road and peed quickly before the dog walker with +5 dogs came up the path and saw her”.  In true trail runner fashion I have friends who appreciate and celebrate this fact!
  33. Getting to aid station 5 was the best feeling ever.  I had friends there who could give me updates on others.  I knew I only had 10 hard kilometers left.  They had watermelon.  They had ice.  Ice!  They filled my hydration pack with it.  And they gave me a baggie for my buff.  Best friends ever!
  34. Barb and I were still running together. So thankful.
  35. I was on autopilot by this point. I don’t remember much after aid station 5.  Just that when I got to Endo I knew that time was more important to me than finishing.
  36. This race has an 11 hour cutoff. I was starting to calculate splits in my head and it was nagging at me.  I let Barb go.  Not to be mean, but to run my own race.  It wasn’t discussed.  It just happened.  This is why trail friends are awesome.  They understand.
  37. I wish I hadn’t picked up a 50/50 runner at this point. She was using me as a pacer, I think, but I was a bit irked by her stick.  Aside from the fear that she’d errantly hit me with it I was a little torn.  I kind of wanted to turn her in for using an aid – believe me, I could have gone faster, too, with something to lean on – but she was on her 2nd race in two days so I let it go…
  38. Mountain of Phlegm. If you’ve run any race in the Squamish50 weekend you know.  It just sits there in wait mocking you as you make your way there.  You feel like you’re doing well.  You think, “it can’t be too hard“.  Then it rises up and knocks you on your ass.  And it was a freaking hotbed of mosquitoes this year.  I stopped to talk to my friend Ed, who was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (and who would overcome it to finish!), and got about 9 bites.
  39. When I hit the top of Mountain of Phlegm I had 4km left. And about 50 minutes.  By the time I got off the hill with 3km left I had 35.
  40. My mantra from Smoke Bluffs Park to the finish line was “You are not allowed to walk”. Man, did I want to walk.
  41. I was only slightly confused to be yelled at by 2 girls in a car when I was running along the last stretch of road. Turned out to be Candice and Hilary!  Your cheers were so appreciated!
  42. The splits for my last 3km were: 9:06, 8:09, and 7:52. I am as proud of this as I am of finishing.
  43. I briefly registered that Colin and many of my friends were waiting at the finish line, but, darn it, I was sprinting as if my life depended on it to get done and get my hug from RD Gary Robbins. He gives good hugs.
  44. Official time: 10:49:42.1. Yes, that millisecond is important.  Goal accomplished!
  45. I didn’t finish last!!! Goal accomplished!
  46. I had a really good race. There were way more positives than negatives (and, really, any of my negatives were inconsequential compared to others).
  47. Volunteers are amazing. I can’t say enough good things about everyone who pitched in on race weekend.  There were so many people who raced Saturday and volunteered Sunday and vice versa.  The less thinking I had to do the better.  Please know you have my gratitude.
  48. Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford. Thank you.
  49. This picture makes me think things I probably shouldn’t be thinking.
  50. 50 miles – I’m coming for you.

Commencing Freak-Out in 3…2…1…

THIS is happening in just over a week.

Despite the title of this post, I actually haven’t freaked out yet.  Shocking.  I’m waiting for it to sneak up on me like it did before my first marathon when I was pinning on my bib the night before.  Here’s hoping that it doesn’t happen at all or at least, God-willing, not on the 4:45am bus ride out to Alice Lake for the start!

I haven’t been blogging much about my training, which is regrettable since I’ve had a few fun and epic runs up in Squamish with friends.  Those will definitely need their own posts prior to my race recap!  Somehow I missed seeing a bear that was ~12ft in front of me last weekend (don’t worry, Mum and Dad, we were very cautious – and it would have eaten Ed first if it hadn’t been more interested in berries). 🙂

I am actually feeling really good about race day.

* Nutrition: I (think) that I have all the nutrition under control:

Hüma Gel – the best tasting gels I’ve ever had.  They have chia in them.  The mango and the apple cinnamon are my race day choices.

Nuun – double strength tri-berry in the hydration pack and will do half tri-berry half wildberry energy (caffeinated) after Quest.

Picky Bars – race day breakfast will be a Blueberry Boomdizzle bar and a banana.

PocketFuel and Nature’s Bakery – my “just in case I’m hungry and gels aren’t cutting it right now” food.  Real food.  Will either go with Coconut Cherry or Pineapple Coconut (both are almond butter based) Pocketfuel.  Nature’s Bakery makes yummy fig bars and we have the fig, blueberry, and raspberry ones.

* My race day outfit will be the same one I’ve been training in:

Sugoi – hat

Buff – snot rag if on my hand, neck cooler if soaked in stream water

Oiselle – Strappy bra, Scantron tank, and Lesley knickers (and possibly arm warmers depending on weather)

Injinji – socks

Inov8 – 245 trail shoes 

* I’ll have my pretty Nathan Zeal vest to hold all my crap.  

I’ll need to give myself plenty of options in my drop bag so I don’t look at the choices and find that nothing appeals.  Other than that, though, I’m confident I can make the 23km 5hr 15min cutoff at Quest University, which was my one big worry.  I’m willfully ignorant of Upper Climb Trail and Angry Midget, but am okay with the rest of the course as I ran it last year and part of it at Survival of the Fittest a couple of months ago.

So that’s it.  I know I can finish and that’s all I’m really hoping for.  It’s going to be a HARD race.  Good thing my motivating song this training cycle has been Hedley’s “Anything”:

A hundred thousand disbelievers couldn’t keep me on the ground
I’ve invented a momentum that’ll never slow me down
I believe it cause I feel it and I shout it out loud
I can I can I can so

[and the line I use the most when I’m having a hard time]

Uh uh, **** that, I can do anything

 

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.

Pre-race fuelling at the school carnival. #cottoncandy #SurvivaloftheFittest #CoastMountainTrailSeries

A post shared by Alanna (@lovemyrunners) on

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:

Buntzen 26 April 2014

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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Positive Thinking aka What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

After a good couple of years of mediocrity and probably being a sports psychologist’s dream I think that this might actually be a good running year for me.  The very abbreviated back story (that will probably never be expanded on) is that I had a failed experiment with heart rate training that knocked me so hard on my butt that it’s taken me a really long time to mentally come back from.  When your head’s not in it everything else is on the back burner.  Suffice it to say that I did not love my runners for a while, but I think I’m back!*

I think my turning point was being included in a UBC NIKE study on running.  They gave me a 13 week prescribed running program to follow during a time of year when I would much rather sit on my couch.  Dark, rainy, winter-y Vancouver is not my favourite place to run.  However, a treadmill and a decent amount of accountability kept me running on average 3 times a week.  So what if my runs were predominantly inside?  I’ve actually come to love my treadmill (hopefully the downstairs neighbours do too!).  We had a slightly illegal 10km race at the end and I came away with a respectable 1:05 finish time.  Considering I ran once outside in 13 weeks I’m pretty happy with that!

Another key to me being more optimistic is that around Christmas I got my hands on a downloadable goal tracker from Believe I Am.  I’m not usually one for journals – although I’m keen to get one of theirs when they’re back in stock – as I start and never finish.  But this one made me sit down and think about what I want from running this year.  I want to get faster and I want to finish my 50km race in August.  Voilà!  I suddenly found myself with goals that are attainable.  The other helpful part of the tracker was an outlook calendar.  I don’t usually race a lot, but I wanted to this year.  I’m not wealthy by any means so it’s usually a stretch to get too many races in.  But I found some affordable ones (and ways to get in free, too) and I have about one a month.  This will give me more race and trail experience, which I very obviously need in tackling an ultramarathon.

RaceSchedule copy

I haven’t paid for all of these yet, but they aren’t really negotiable anymore.    

I have goals, people, and I will darn well reach them!!

What’s on the agenda for you this year?  And will I be seeing you anywhere along the way?

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*Notice that I’ve removed the subtitle “Slowly Reconciling With Running” from by blog (and on Twitter, too).  No self-defeating thoughts, please.

TrailCross!

It was only a matter of time.  Between the varied [insert sport here]-cross disciplines that are out there – ski, board, moto, cyclo, etc. – and the desire for runners to have a fun, non-traditional race atmosphere you had to figure that TrailCross would eventually come to be.  I am both excited and terrified to be able to compete in the first TrailCross race in Chilliwack, BC, on 26 April 2014.  

Let me back track a little…  Until last week I had no idea what TrailCross was.  I’ve done fun runs before, but generally stick to the traditional roads and trails.  I like a good get-together as much as the rest of you, but one can’t say that fun runs are generally super competitive.  Not that I’m a super competitive racer by any means.  More back-of-the-packer than anything else.  But I do have aspirations of getting some semblance of speed going this year, even if it’s just a tad faster than last year.  Basically, through that ramble, I’m trying to say that TrailCross has fallen into my lap.  

In the randomness that is social media I was followed on Twitter by @Trail_Cross.  I have to admit that I was immediately intrigued by their race.  Compete in heats over a short distance (1-2km) on trails and runners advance base on placement.  Do this 2 or 3 times until you get a winner.  The bonus – at least to me – is that there is a beginner and an advanced category.  I was seriously considering trying to make it work in my race schedule (I actually have one this year!) and then they offered me entry.  Well, to be honest, I cheekily asked for a mutually beneficial working relationship.*  So now I’m slightly nervous.  As stated above, I’m not fast.  And this race is based on speed and pretty much speed alone.

From the TrailCross Facebook page

So I haven’t figured out if competing in this race – there is no “running” – might be the best idea I’ve ever had, but I am really looking forward to finding out.  

I want need you to join me!  Enter LOVEMYRUN to receive $5 off your registration fee.

Have you ever run a race like this before?  Tips are appreciated – although I think “run like hell” is the only advice that’ll work…

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* Disclosure Statement: I have been given one race entry to TrailCross Chilliwack in exchange for this post.