Saturday, May 31, 2008

Nipika Race Report

Geez, I have had such an action packed weekend that it is Tuesday and I am playing "blog catch up!"

Between Friday's misadventure and run at Emerald Lake, Saturday's race at Nipika, Sunday's run up Sulphur Mountain, being stalked, charged and pinned by a crazed female elk on the same run (story to come soon!), going to a wedding on the shore of Two Jack Lake Sunday afternoon with a reception and overnighter at Storm Mountain Lodge, I am behind on life and blogging. And finally, after an entire winter of being healthy and training for Miwok without getting sick, surprise-surprise, I woke up this morning with sniffle-itis. Sniff-sniff.

So, as I get organised and try and find some time I will leave you with my friend Hollys' Race Report and photos on our quality time at the Nipika resort.

Nipika is on the border of Kootenay National Park about an hour and a quarter drive from Banff and it is magical. I commited to running a half marathon on trail with my favorite boy in the world, my husband Keith and was also joined by my friend Holly which just made the day even better!! I ran around in the woods and took a ridiculous amount of photos of which Holly has posted a few. Enjoy!


Friday, May 30, 2008

Favorite Places in Yoho Part 2 - Emerald Lake

On Friday, I decided to "get out of town" and drive one hour down the road to Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park. I just felt like a little drive and change of scenery. I also knew that Emerald Lake is a little lower elevation and it is South facing, so there might actually be some flowers up, some dry trail and as always, some awesome scenery. There are so many trails to explore in the area, but the higher trails are still snowbound. This time of year it is all about experimenting and seeing how far you can go before hitting snowline. I hadn't been there since October, when we had an amazing run/walk in deep, fresh snow.

Check out these photos from Octobers snowy run, it truly is jaw dropping beyond words.

So, I had a lazy start to my day and on the drive to Emerald Lake I pulled over at a fantastic viewpoint of Castle Mountain, just to take a photo. Keeping in mind, this is a place I drive by frequently and never stop at, but I thought, hey it's a beautiful day, I'm not in a hurry and I want a photo of Castle Mountain for my blog. It's one of my favorite mountains! Well. I get out of the car, my new-ish Ford Focus wagon and in my haste, leave the keys in the ignition. Afterall, my last car the VW Golf had a very Leslie-friendly feature. You leave the keys in the ignition and it will never lock. Ever. Well, with the Focus does not have that feature. I get out, take the photo and simultaneously hear the sound of "autolock", yes, the sound of all 4 doors locking. Aaaargh!! The sound of me being stuck in the middle of nowhere on the side of the highway with no cellphone. My buddy Dave was my saviour, I flagged down the first tourist I saw and borrowed the cell phone and Super Dave saved the day!! He swung buy my house, picked up the keys and made the 20 minute drive out to the highway to save my butt. Thanks Dave! While I was stuck there, I took some great photos!


The Castle - Castle Mountain

The Sawback Range and the Bow River Valley

Even after being rescued, I had only lost an hour of my day with the Leslie-blunder, so I continued on for a leisurely drive to Emerald Lake. I made a quick stop at the Natural Bridge, took my car keys with me and took a quick photo. The water was raging!

Emerald Lake is a very special place and is sort of the Gateway to Yoho National Park and all of its treasures. I just go because it is one of my favorite places! The last time I was here, we saw a full size moose in the lake and then had it crash through the bushes right in front of us. That is pretty special!

Almost immediately, Emerald Lake impresses. It is the most incredible color and is surrounded by glaciers, peaks, rocks and a gorgeous hotel/lodge. On this day, the Glacier Lilies were in full bloom and littered spots of mossy grass and in between patches of receeding snow. It was a grey day, but the temperatures were warm, the lake was calm and I was feeling very fortunate to be running happy and healthy! I climbed upwards towards Yoho Pass, before hitting the snowline where I decided to call it a day, descend and continue my run around the lake.

Climbing higher and higher!! Glaciers, waterfalls and rocks....and even flowers!

I have never seen a little spruce tree have a bud with a color like this! Anyone know anything about it? It was really bright pink! Emerald Lake is in the background as I climb, climb, climb.

I spent some time lolly-gagging by the lake, I didn't feel the need to rush home on this particular day. I took it easy on the run because tomorrow, I am very excited to be running a race with my husband and my friend Holly for the first time ever!! I reckon I shouldn't trash my legs before race day, but it was so beautiful I wanted to just run and run and run and run.....

No worries because tomorrow I am running in another completely different but very gorgeous place!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Change of Season - A spring evening run

I realize I obsess a lot about the weather, but when you live in a place like Banff you live and breath the cycles that are seasons. I love it! As much as we have to deal with the weather and complain about the weather, I couldn't live in a place where there weren't seasons. The change of season is one of my favorite things!

The change of season is something that makes me feel quite euphoric. I'm not sure why that is, but I think there is a sense of change in the air and in nature that is exciting. You anticipate the change. You can smell it, feel it, see it and taste it. I love observing the changes in nature and my environment when I run. I think I notice the change of season a lot more than most people, only because I spend so much time outside running on the trails.

In Banff, the change can also be abrupt! One day it is winter and the next day, it is spring.

Tonight, I went for a one hour run and took my camera. Spring was in the air. There were lots of people out enjoying their evening, walking, playing, embracing the change of season! It was so good to see.

People and their Doggies

The river is WAY up!!

The forest smelled really good...moist.
Banff and the Banff Girl

Evening Sun

Views, views and more views

Surprise Corner Viewpoint

You know you live in a tourist town when.......

VERY Canadian.

Home Sweet Home!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Blackfoot Ultra Weekend - Race Report


Or maybe here.....


If I was an anti-social moose, I would live on this island.

But I'm NOT!!

New trail friend Carol of St. Albert

It was a great weekend to participate in the Blackfoot Ultra! The weather was gorgeous as we made the drive from Banff up to the Cooking Lake - Blackfoot Recreation Area, East of Edmonton and Sherwood Park. I had never been to this corner of Alberta before and totally enjoyed the change of scenery. Change is good and change of scenery when it comes to running on trails is something that always gives me great pleasure!!

I had a big smile on my face as I cruised by lakes and islands, rolled up and down soft double track trail and through forests of spring green leaves. I felt sensory overload as I listened to the incredible chorus of this beautiful land, the breeze, the birds and the frogs.

There were 6 of us who made the trip from Banff and Canmore, myself and friends Miles, Mike, Laura, Steve and Brenda. Hugs to Laura for being an all-round superstar and hanging at the race all day, despite not running! Thanks for the love!

Mike, Laura and Steve

I know all of us enjoyed a great day on the trails and appreciated the soft cushy cruisy trails, the sunshine, the great company and the scenery. Speaking of great company, thanks to Carol for joining me for the first 25km on the trail and her man-sherpa-loaner-slave- husband Wayne for taking care of me and listening to my trail chatter! It was fun!

After the first lap, I decided to pick it up a notch and play See-How-Many-People-You-Can-Catch. I love this game, but it only works when you are feeling good. It doesn't work when you are The One With Lead Legs or for that matter, The One Bent Over In the Woods.

The One Who Loves Potato Chips

When you play this game, it is imperative that you say Hi to all and stop and give and receive hugs along the way. If you manage to snag a few photographs, you get bonus points.....

Hugs for Terry


Overall, I had a great day and I know the friends sure did. EVERYONE had a stellar day - and there were so many firsts for many of my friends. Steve smoked the course and came second overall in the 50k, Mike was super speedy and rocked his first Ultra, Miles finally put away his skis and made his first long run in awhile look easy and Brenda was a superstar who finished her first 50 MILER strong and smiling!!

Yeeeeeeahh! Go Brenda!!

Virginia, all smiles after her first 50 Miler

After the race, there was a whole lot of socializing to be done as we relaxed, ate, got re-aquainted with old friends and some new friends and waited as the 50 Mile runners and the 100km runners came in to the finish.

Hugh put his comfy chair down right in the finishing chute and was "receiving" visitors all afternoon. It was great to see Jamie and Tasha (Tasha conquered the 100k) and it was great to see all of the guys from my last years' Jasper weekend. My bunkmates, Hugh, Allan, Adrian, Ken and Miles. Hi boys! I think Adrian set a new course record for his age-group and pushed those younger dudes to some speedy times! Allan was a super-star by finishing his 50 Miler all tired, but happy!

Speedy Old Farts Hugh and Adrian

Trail Trash

Allan "The Laminator"

It was great to see my friend Neil Runions in action, he finished the 100k looking stong and mmm-mmmm, salty! I think Neil has got himself signed up for every Ultra in Alberta, which means the whole Alberta Ultra Series. He was feeling inspired by chasing the lovely and speedy Norma Bastidas to the finish line. Norma ran her first half marathon only one year ago and really did rock her first 100k finish. Happy, smiling and looking good - Norma you were fantastic!

Neil and Norma

Thanks to the Blackfoot Crew and volunteers for putting on a great event! Thanks to the Banff friends Mike, Steve, Brenda, Miles and Laura for being great company and sharing some quality time at Kawtikh Cabins. Thanks to Mother Nature for the awesome weather and beautiful scenery. The Blackfoot Ultra made me smile!

I had a big smile on my face as I cruised by lakes and islands, rolled up and down soft double track trail and through forests of spring-green leaves. I felt sensory overload as I listened to the incredible chorus of this beautiful land, the breeze, the birds and the frogs.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blackfoot Ultra

I'm off to run the Blackfoot Ultra this weekend! I've never explored that area of Alberta before, so I am excited and looking forward to a mini weekend getaway. We are 4 from Banff and 2 from Canmore, so it will be great to reconnect with everyone and enjoy some downtown.....oh, and go for a little 50k runny-run. I'll post a Race Report and photos when I return.

Have a great weekend and send the good vibes my way!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

R.I.P - Norman the Dog

Stormin' Norman - The Best Dog Ever

Norman the dog was a runner.

He was blessed with natural talent, agility and endurance. At one point in his life, he was the fastest dog in the Dog Park. He was a bullet! He would play fetch compulsively for hours and I would always surrender before he did. While he was a talented sprinter, he also was an endurance guy. He enjoyed those long dog days of hiking and biking. He insisted on staying close - when we were hiking, he had to keep you within eyeshot or he would wait on the trail. The only exception to this rule was if he saw a squirrel and then he became The Wild Dog.

Once, when we were mountain biking and I was bombing down a fire road at full speed, something caught my attention, out of the corner of my eye. It was Norman, running like a Cheetah that you see on the Discovery Channel in slow motion. You know, the back legs coming over the front legs, all limbs a blur. He passed me going about 60 kmh and I was worried he might explode in a pile of rolling fur and limbs and dust on the side of the trail, but he didn't. He beat me to the bottom instead.

People loved him so much that there would be arguments over who would get Norman when we went away. He was a lover. He loved to give the love and he loved to receive the love. He was fickle. He would love whomever was giving the love. He never saw the inside of a kennel, because he was so much fun to have around. He was always super mellow and laid-back at home and never ever demanded anything. If you took him for a walk, great! It you left him in the car, no problem. If you left him alone in the house, he would sleep. You could leave an open bag of kibble in the middle of the kitchen, beside the garbage and he wouldn't do a thing. He'd just relax. Chill. Sleep. Norman was a low maintenance guy. Sometimes we would lone him out. Our friend Brenda borrowed him for a backpacking trip once. She thought he would be good to snuggle with in the tent and he was. He kept her up all night growling at the night creatures in the bush, which is even scarier than sleeping by yourself in the bush. Afterall, he was a dog!

He was a licker. He was a kisser of small children. He liked to push them over and lick them. Every oriface if you'd let him. Parents didn't like this, but he thought it was great. He was always gentle with them. He made friends for us too. Ten years ago in the Dog Park, he picked up a couple of humans named Evan and Lorrie. We have kept them for friends ever since! He brought me and Keith even closer - afterall, our dog was The Best Dog in The World! He had a lot of love to give, this dog was a lover not a fighter. When people asked us what kind of dog he was - we would say he was A Brown Dog. You know, the one in your childhood dictionary with the drawing of the floppy eared happy dog that said, Dog? That was him.

He was amazing at age 11, 12, 13 - very active, very alive and very loving. People would ask me how old me puppy was! Thirteen, I would say. The last two years were different. It became very evident how old he had become. He went from being a brown dog, to being a grey dog. He was a new dog every week! He became the Deaf Dog. The Loud Dog. The Embarassed Dog whenever his body would fail him. The Needy Dog. He had never demanded anything his whole life and now he needed A Little Help Please. So we spooned him and gave him the love back. The one thing that never changed in his old age was that he was still The Lover. Affectionate until the end at age 15 and truly, The Best Dog in The World.

When I first met Norman, I was like....can't he sleep outside? There's fur everywhere!! Keith and Norman were a package deal, it didn't take long before I fell in love with both. I never knew I could love a dog so much, because I had never been a dog owner before. But that's what happened. After a few years he became "my dog" and we gave each other lots of love for lots of years. He was great company. Thanks Keith, for bringing Norman into my life!

Keith and I had Norman put to sleep yesterday and then we went for a run to make us feel a little bit better. I know it was a good decision, but I'm going to miss him so much! Long may you run Norman, Normie-Norm, Stormin' Norman, Nor-Man, Norm, My Norman were such a....Norman!

I love Norman!