Sunday, March 30, 2008

Barrier Lookout and Ultra-geek Lecture

Today, I enjoyed a great day with my friends Tannis and Myles. Thanks friends! The plan was to start the day with a run and then attend a running clinic in Calgary for Ultra geeks. Well, we woke up to fresh snow in Banff and as we pulled into the trailhead on Barrier Lake we realised there was much more snow than we thought!!



Knee-deep with Myles!

The run was an out and back up Prairie View trail to the Barrier Lake lookout. It is a great uphill of about 3.5k? 4k? Either way, it's always lovely and it's always a challenging but achievable uphill climb. It is a really popular mountain bike trail in summer and I always get a kick out of beating the cyclists to the top when I am running.

On this glorious snowy morning, with 15 cm of fresh snow waiting for us, it was even more challenging than usual! Just for entertainment value, the fresh snow was covering a fair amount of smooth black ice. You never knew when you would hit a patch and end up on your butt. Sorry Tannis, but I think you won the award for most times on your butt!




The snow was the most perfect powder I have seen all year - so incredibly light and dry that each foot step would send a cloud of dusty snow in the air. Poof-poof-poof. We had to do a little sketchy scramble to get us to the viewpoint and it even cleared up a little bit and gave us little glimpses down the valley.





After the AWESOME run, we drove into the city, had some breakfast, grabbed a coffee and made it to the clinic just in time. The clinic was given by Jack Cook who is a coach and accomplished ultra runner himself and was on "training and nutrition for ultra runners". Jack is the current course record holder for the Death Race and is one speedy guy on and off trail. Well, the ultra geeks were out in full force and it was great to see friends Jen, Doone and Tim, Grace and Phil, Ken, Helen and others! By the time the clinic was done I was again voraciously hungry and half delirious, so we went for Vietnamese food and hit the highway.

A great run, fun with friends and learned a little something. Hey, that's a good day! As a bonus, I spent a fun night with Keith and friends at a local Japanese restaurant and went on a Sushi and Sukiyaki bender! Did I mention that I love food?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ice Capades - Lake Minnewanka

Today, my friend Steve and I started the day off right - at a breakfast buffet! Mmmm-mmm. Coffee. O.J. Bacon. Omelette. Waffle. Fresh Pineapple. More bacon. Hash browns. Croissant. Now that's a breakfast. Have I mentioned how much I love food these days? It is all consuming. My co-workers are amazed. I'm like a 5 year old. Time to feed the kid before a melt down occurs. Constantly. Hungry. Must eat. Now.

Needless to say, we arrived at the trailhead 20 minutes later with VERY full bellies. Fortunately, we drank enough coffee to compensate for the lull our bodies should have been feeling trying to digest all of the grease we had just consumed. But no problemo - neither Steve or myself suffered any ill effects of our pig-out. Yeah! Digestive system of steel. I must say, I didn't need a lot of food for this 4 hour run, my big breakfast served me well. I just drank 2 litres of water and calories, had a little late run snack and was good for the duration!

The trail turned from snow and ice, into lovely rolling DRY singletrack very quickly. The sun was heating up the south facing shore of the lake and before we knew it, we hit the 8k mark. The conditions had improved quite a bit in the past week. Shortly after that, the trail turned snowy again so we headed down to the shoreline to take a look at the lake. We thought that the shore conditions might be better for running.



Shoreline - Lake Minnewanka

So we get down to the lake to have a look, but the shoreline slope is kind of tricky, so we end up further out on the ice. At first we were tentative and slightly nervous on the ice so we were staying close do the shoreline. Well. Next thing Steve is WAY out on the ice and he is jumping up and down and saying "Looks good!" That still wasn't terribly reassuring, but when I got out a bit further onto the lake you could actually see the ice depth. It was 3 feet deep!
3 feet = very safe!!
After that our run turned into the Ice run. The Ice Marathon. The Ice Capades. It was so much fun! I was a little giddy running down the middle of a giant frozen lake - in the sunshine and we were having so much fun we covered a fair amount of distance. We ended up at the Lake Minnewanka warden cabin for a quick snack and photo to proove we made it in March.

Let's go right down the middle!


All total - a four hour run in an incredible place. The perspective from the middle of the lake was very cool. It was cool to be looking at the familiar mountains from a view that is usually only accessible by boat!

Just running along!

So much FUN!! This doesn't happen often that you get to enjoy such a unique perspective - usually the snow on the lake is too deep or it is not frozen....but seldom frozen, clear, flat and perfect with just enough snow to give you a little grip. O.K the icy bits were slippery, but we were having too much fun to let it bother us.


Get out the sunscreen - the glare off the snow and ice was bright!

Yiiiihaw! Another great day, but I do believe that ice is not going anywhere for a LONG time. Definately a unique opportunity for a run "on" the lake and a special surprise for us - neither of us had ever got to run down the middle of Lake Minnewanka before!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

See Mike Run!

video

FUN!! My tech-savvy friend Mike through together this fun little video of some of the highlights of last seasons trail runs. You can find Mike and his Blog at:

www.seemikerun.blogspot.com

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Five Hour Run Johnson Lake and Lake Minnewanka

Lots of signs of spring today, the occasional stretch of dry trail (gasp!) and rock and ice. It was the earliest I have ever run Lake Minnewanka shoreline and the patches of dry trail were few and far between the stretches of treacherous black ice! I was distracted today, mostly by the scenery and the slippery footing. I felt like I was not moving forward to quickly but could have gone for hours! Enjoy my run.











Thursday, March 20, 2008

G-Bears

G-Bear

We once had a mountain biker named Richie Schley come and stay with us a couple of summers back. Nice guy, lived in Whistler was a pro mountain biker and ex-pro skiier. Waaaaaay cooler than me, but made me feel cooler than I am. Richie introduced us to some slang that he used to describe bears. In his corner of the world, there were B-Bears. Black Bears. Lots of them. He saw enough of them around that he had lost his fear of them. But he had never seen a G-Bear. A Grizzly Bear. He was scared of the G-Bear, but not the B-Bear. Curious. Anyhow, the lingo stuck and Keith and I now refer to our resident wildlife as B-Bears and G-bears. It makes them sound so cute and cuddly. For example: "Awwwwwww.....who's a cute little G-Bear?!??"

So today at work we found out that the first bear out of hibernation had been spotted, a massive healthy G-Bear. There was even a photo of him in the snow looking all gorgeous. I love living in a place where you get to see B-Bears and G-Bears. They really are awesome, as-in, awe inspiring. So, welcome back G-Bears and B-Bears...may you continue to thrive and be wild and magnificent!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Revved up Like a Deuce, Another Runner in the Night

You know how sometimes you get home from work and your tired and you just don't feel like going for a run? I had one of those today.

I was dragging my butt, I was thinking to myself.....it's grey out....it's cold out....it's a hard workout....and of course, I don't want to!!!

I had to do hills tonight. 3 long sets of hills of twenty minutes. And I didn't want to!

By the end of it, on my 3rd set, I felt like Superwoman. I kept climbing up as the sun was setting, the view kept getting better and better as I was flying...up...up...UP!! I was having so much fun I ended up running further, just so I could catch the last sunshine rays of the day.

When I got to the top the sun was blinding and just about to dip behind the mountains. Blinded by the Light came on the IPod, I was singing at full volume and giggling simultaeously and I laughed allowed because I was having way too much fun!!!



Climbing....

Climbing....CLIMBING.....




Up...Up...UP!!!

That's where I live!

Last Sun




Blinded By the Light!

Revved up like a Deuce

Another Runner in the Night.....!!

Blinded By the Light


Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night

Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night

Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night

Madman drummers bummers, Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat

In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat

With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin' kinda older, I tripped the merry-go-round

With the stereo pleasin' and sneezin' and wheezin, the calliope crashed to the ground

The calliope crashed to the ground

Oh she was...Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night

Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night

Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night

Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night

Some silicone sister with a manager mister told me I got what it takes

She said "I'll turn you on sonny to something strong, play the song with the funky break"

And go-cart Mozart was checkin' out the weather charts to see if it was safe outside

And little Early-birdy came by in his curly-wurly and asked me if I needed a ride

Oh she was...Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night

Blinded by the light -

She got down but she never got tired She's gonna make it through the night She's gonna make it through the night

But mama, that's where the fun is But mama, that's where the fun is.

Mama always told me not to look into the eye's of the sun, but mama, that's where the fun is!

Some brimstone baritone Andy Sack from rolling stone preacher from the east

Says "Dethrone the dictaphone, hit it in it's funny bone,that's where they expect it least"

And some new-mown chaperone was standin' in the corner,watching the young girls dance

And some fresh-sown moonstone was messin' with his frozen zone,reminding him of romance The calliope crashed to the ground

Cos she was...Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Little Help, Please

This past week I enlisted the help of an online coach for the first time. Though I have lots of friends that have run ultras, adventure races and more I just needed someone to help me put together a program for the next crucial 7 weeks as I work towards the Miwok 100k. Though I had lots of suggestions and much loose guidance, I just needed......A Little Help, Please!

Francesca was awesome! In a one hour and a half phone consult, we got a program figured out, she answered all of my questions and more importantly, she reassured me that everything I had been doing up until this point was right on track. She had also run the course before, which was a bonus and told me what I could expect! Thanks for the help, Francesca-and maybe we will see you on race day. Francesca will be down in San Francisco on Miwok weekend supporting her honey on race day.

Also, my dear friend Alana phoned on Tuesday and asked for A Little Help, Please. She is a member of a cycling club and they were having a fundraiser on Saturday night for one of their elite athletes. The fundraiser had the potential to be a complete flop if she didn't round up some extra teams to compete in their event. The event was a four hour stationary bike race with Teams of Four.....so we put together a Team Banff Trailtrash. The event was a total success and lots of fun - with a great meal and great prizes to finish off a fun night!

I needed to do a hill workout on Friday, bicycle to nowhere on Saturday and then do a 4.5 hour run on Sunday. No problemo! The hill workout was wicked - a beauty of a day on Sulphur Mountain, but I forgot the camera. Saturday, the bike workout was going to be just a spin, but it turned out to be a LOT more arduous than I had expected, as they put us through the paces on the bikes. My legs were a wee bit tired the next day!
My long run in the city was a nice change of pace, but the asphalt really beat me up. I did 29k with a group on the asphalt and then hit the trail for an hour and it hurt. Time to get back on the trail, I missed it this weekend!! I also forgot the camera. Doh! The highlight of the run was when stopped in the forest for a little walk break and had a chickadee land on my hand. I love chickadees, I always try to make friends with them when I hear them. Just call me the chickadee whisperer.


Anyhow, we did take a few photos of Team Banff Trailtrash in action this weekend. The race was full of lots of Triathlong geeks and Bicycle geeks, so we were shooting for DFL (dead fucking last) and to keep everyone entertained. My friend Brenda actually got out her knitting while she was spinning and knitted just for fun. We achieved our goal, helped our friend out and were in fact, DFL.



A Little Help, Please!

Brenda, Shawn and myself in Action

Yiiiiiiiiihaw! We're Bicycling to Nowhere!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Thoughts on Risk

In my personal life I like to keep things pretty simple and I think my blog is a reflection of this.

Really - I am a pretty simple, uncomplicated person and not to profound. I love my life, my husband, my friends, my family and my dog. I am a responsibility-a-phobic and that certainly keeps things simple and uncomplicate (thank-you Keith!). I like to run around in the woods and I like to spend as much time as possible outside. Sometimes by myself. Sometimes with friends. I am a bit of a loner and sometimes a social butterly. I also am a bit of a hedonist - I enjoy things that give me pleasure. To borrow a quote from Keiths' old kind and generous jewish uncle from New York:

"I like to do things that give me pleasure and surround myself by people who give me pleasure!"

I think this word has got a bad rep in recent years, as people now associate it with all things sexual and decadent. According to the dictionary hedonism is: "the doctrine that pleasure is the chief end of life" and "the willful pursuit of pleasure". While I realize that pleasure is certainly not the chief end of life....I certainly enjoy its willful pursuit!

Alllllllllright, you are thinking....where is this simple fun loving girl going with all of this? Where are her pretty photos and simple descriptions of fun in Banff? What does it have to do with risk? How much coffee has she had to drink?!?

As every person who has every trained for a marathon, an ultra-marathon, an adventure race or WHATEVER sport of choice it is that you do has noticed: generally, people have some pretty bizarre notions on what is risky, on what is safe, on what is addictive behaviour vs. passionate behaviour, and on what is pleasurable!

As I train for my first Ultra I have been fielding more and more bizarre questions from friends and family that question everything from my perception of risk to my sanity. I am continually amazed and bewildered by the questions and what people "perceive" as normal and what is safe, healthy and risky.

There was a great article I read about Aron Ralston a few years back that had a fantastic quote about risk. Aron is the the climber/outdoors enthusiast who had to cut of his own arm when it got pinned under a massive rock in the backcounty - and he seems to be a together, articulate, unassuming good guy. He has returned to climbing and in particular, solo winter climbing. He received a fair amount of attention when he returned to climbing because people were calling him an irresponsible risk taker who should have learned his lesson. Aron says:

"People chastised me that I obviously hadn't learned my lesson or that I was a bad role model. Now, I'm not going to suggest that everyone should take up solo winter mountaineering. But we all bring risk into our lives, through our choices about how we make a living, how we drive, how we party, and how we eat: it is far riskier to be a McFood-pounding smoker than to climb solo.
If it seems that I fill my days with moments that cause my heart to pound, my breath to rush, that's because those are the times I feel most alive!!"

So there it is. What gives me pleasure might not necessarily be what gives you pleasure.

What you perceive as risky, I perceive as something that gives me pleasure. Why would I deny myself that? Because those are the times I feel most alive!!

Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Weekend Round-Up

Friday's glorious run in the sun was hard to beat, but on Saturday I ski toured up to Crowfoot Glacier area off the Icefields Parkway. We were a huge group and as a result we more moving pretty slow.....so it was the perfect recovery day! Yet another great day in the backcountry with Keith and our friends.



"Let's go THAT way!!"
Looking towards Bow Lake and Num-Ti-Jah Lodge



Crowfoot Glacier

Makin' a Plan....

Backcountry Ski Stud!!

Keith had just returned from 4 days of backcountry skiing, but was still keen to get out for another day. He has had 39 days in the backcountry this year!! He is a beautiful skiier. And he is all mine!

Sunday, as a grand-finalee....the sun came out again and it was HOT. I took a run up the Spray River Valley to Goat Creek. This run is right out the back door. I was running on a cross country skiing trail that was in terrible shape. With all of the melting and freezing and thawing the track-set has turned to mush. It was far better running. I actually saw a guy on a mountain bike who started early and rode the frozen hardpack all the way from Canmore! That's about 20+ km on snow. Now that's hardcore! I also saw a bunch of wolf scat and some huge footey prints right in the middle of the trail.




When I arrived back in Banff, I decided to do a "bonus loop" to get an extra hill in and run up the trail to the Rimrock hotel. I rounded a corner in the forest and saw someone hammering down the trail towards me.....clad only in a bra-top, 3/4 tights and ARM warmers! I laughed very hard and was surprised to see my hyper-kinetic friend Nicki from Calgary. Nicki has more energy than anyone on the planet and she told me she was menopausal and permanently hot these days (thus the fabulous mid-winter outfit) and she was trying to squeeze a long run in in preparation for the Diez-Vista 50k. She is one hot mama! Just a year ago she suffered a broken leg, so she is back in full force. When we got back towards my house she did a full dive into the snow bank and rolled around in the bra top and took a long pause face first in the snow. Too funny. After the 4 hr. run she went up to Mount Norquay to meet up with her hubby and kids for a little resort ski.....Go Super Mom!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Skoki - The Return

How could I resist another run in to Skoki on such a beautiful day? Steve was very jealous that he had missed the last run into Skoki, so we did a return visit and I ran the 30k into the lodge.



Windswept snow and Mount Temple




Steves' backside - I saw a LOT of this today....


Though I have been enjoying it, I have had way to many long runs as of late by my lonesome, so it was great to have the company. This was week 3 of unseasonably warm weather and we have lost a ton of snow base. Normally, that would make me pout because I am a skiier, but this winter because I am training towards that wee little 100k race in May...I can't help but enjoy it and hope it continues!


The Hills are Alive....


The trip in to Skoki was again, absolutely astoundingly gorgeous. I know. That's a lot of adjectives. I had tired legs today, but the with the scenery and the company, it was a nice distraction!


My Big Head



My Big Butt


We started early, were on the trail by 8:30 and were done by 1:15. We were worried that the snow would heat up too much and we might end up post-holing through the snow. Because we started early, we were fortunate not to see any skiiers/people until the end of the run - we had the whole place to ourselves.

The Giggle of the Day was for Steves' performance on the far side of Deception Pass. The sun was pounding down and the snow was heating up so Steve thought it would be funny to bust out the Mankini. The Speedo. Whatever. Borats got nothing on him. I thought he looked fabulous with his new Paris Hilton glasses that he found on the floor of the Post Office in town. Actually, the heartrate monitor completed the look.









"Really.....it's not c-c-cold!"
Tomorrow I am off to get a little "ski therapy" and enjoy a day of backcountry skiing with my honey. Keith understands that I need to train for my upcoming race, but he recommends a little cross-training for some piece of mind. And some quality time! So stay tuned....hopefully, we'll get another sunny day tomorrow.
For all Skoki - The Return photos see:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Long Run in Calgary

After Friday's run to Shadow Lake and Saturday's run to Johnson Lake, Keith and I blast off to Calgary for an evening visit with my mom. We did dinner and a movie and had a great visit. On Sunday morning, I met up with some old friends from the Glenmore Landing Running Room: it was great to see Jean, Angelique, Lorne, Kathy, Helen, Janice, Jay and a few others! I joined Lorne and his group for 19k around the Glenmore Reservoir (it sure was great to have the company!) and then I said goodbye and took off for another 2 hours on trail. The group could not believe that I was going out for another few hours. It was around 14k on the bonus loop for around 33km total. A beautiful romp on the trails of North Glenmore, Weaslehead and Jackrabbit.

It was great to see the old friends and a fantastic reminder about how far I have come. My bonus loop felt great and I think I actually picked up the pace. It was great fun to have a change of location, pace, scenery and company!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Johnson Lake

On Saturday, for a quick little escape and an easy 1 hour run....I went to Johnson Lake. It's a popular picnic spot in summertime and it is small enough that people can circumnavigate it. It really is an accessible pretty place. There is a secret swing hidden on a high point above the lake and I always make a point to jump on it and have a swing with a view!!






Weeeeeeeeee!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Shadow Lake Lodge Run

After last weeks sweet and successfull run to Skoki, I was motivated to try and find some more scenic snowmobile packed trails into the backcountry! I thought I would give the Red Earth Creek Trail a try, as the nice folks at Shadow Lake Lodge use it as their access trail.

And it was grrrrrreat! The views aren't great and it climbs for the first 6km or so....but as you get higher, the views start to open up. When I was up a month ago, we didn't get to many clear days. I had forgotten how impressive a mountain Mount Ball is....it a gorgeous, giant, VERY impressive chunk of rock! I stopped and had a visit with Alison Brewster and Kat the Kiwi at the lodge (thank-you for the cookies!) before heading back the same way. Another awesome day - 26km round trip, slow moving on the snow....4hours with my cookie break. Met lots of skiiers who thought I needed my head examined until they told me it took 5 hours to ski-in and it took me 2 hours to run in! Ha! Don't get all self righteous on me ya nordic geeks!!


Closing in on Mount Ball....




MOUNT BALL

C'est tres impressive le Mont Ball, n'est pas??



Mount Rundle

(took this from the side of the highway, just driving home from the trailhead!)



Keith and Michelle in Action!

But wait! The days not over yet! After the run, I went for a spin for an hour with my honey Keith (I love Keith!) and my friend Michelle. They have been training up a storm in preparation for Michelles first half Ironman and helping keep each other motivated. Isn't that awesome? It's so much easier when you have friends to be accountable to and getcha' MOTIVATED. Of course, the biggest bonus is....it's usually way more fun! We have had lots of quality time in our garage together!