Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Western States Camp 2009

For me, Western States Camp was this: 3 days of chatting, laughing, swimming, carousing, eating, drinking, flirting, camping and 70 miles of damn fine trail running.

Really, I should just end this blog entry right now because that was it in a nutshell!

I met some great people out there. Thanks to Danni, Meghan, Steve, Brenda, Angela, Paul, Simon, Craig, Jennifer, Melissa, Gretchen, Glen and Tanya, Mike and Karyn and many others whose names I've forgotten (sorry!) for some quality time on and off the trail. You made my weekend. The running, camping and the whole experience were epic, but the people were the icing on the cake!

In total, we ran 70 miles of the Western States course, over 3 days. We were treated like gold with aid stations along the route, lots of great food and volunteers, post-run BBQ's and even massages. We enjoyed perfect hot, sunny weather for all 3 days of running and it was heavenly.

Brenda and myself, starting Day 1 off with a snowy power walk.

Conga Line

Brenda doesn't know this man, but it's WS legend Gordy Ansleigh.

Day 1 was a sweet 30 miles of trail, complete with two swims for me. Along the way I saw Gretchen working the aid station and spent some trail time with Glen Meeth. The day was hot, tough and challenging! The WS course was something. Lots of big ups and downs, just what I like.

Got Cone?

Frankie gettin' her groove on.

This is me, soaking wet after diving head first into the American River still wearing my hydration pack with my camera in the side pocket. Notice the fog on the bottom? Oooops. The swim was worth it. But unfortunately, I didn't have a camera for all 3 days after this. Thanks to Brenda and Steve, I got some photos.

I found each of the 3 days of running to be unique and completely different. I enjoyed the variety and the changing scenery. Day 2, I started with Danni for the first hour and an half. Shortly after, I picked up a bunch of speedy old guys and was leading the choo-choo train of old farts. It was pretty funny. Shortly afterwards, those same old farts took off and left me in the dust. Yep, as per usual I got my ass kicked by silver foxes!

I hooked up with Craig for a beautiful stretch running some beautiful terrain along the American River. The day ended with a swim in the river and a power walk up the hill with Jennifer. I was very thankfull for the BBQ that was waiting for us at the end of the day. How cool is that?

Cool Steve.
The last day of running was fun. I hooked up with Karyn and her husband Mike for a brief stretch, flying along through the woods. When we hit the first aid station, I hooked up with the lovely Melissa of Sacramento and we shared the trail for the rest of the day. All 3 of these folks are running States this year and I think they are totally ready to take on the challenge of this race. The post-race BBQ was epic and they even had showers for us set up. Instead, we choose to crawl into a little canal and soak our tired legs in the cold water. My legs certainly needed it and 3 days later, they are still tired and swollen.

Danni and I finished up our trip with a great evening at Jennifer's. Her and her hubby Travis went above and beyond taking us in for the night, feeding us and drinking us. A little California hospitality. It was a fitting and relaxing way to wind up the trip, hanging with the new friends. Thanks all, I had a great weekend. Camp was the best!

Next up: Blackfoot Ultra this weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Western States Camp and other Fun Stuff

Last year, when I was running at Diablo and Miwok, I met a lot of nice ultra-running folks from California. Now probably, because these events were in April and May the topic of conversation kept coming back to one question:

Are you going to Camp?

Of course, I had know idea what they were talking about and I was then filled in on a little something-something that happens every long weekend on the Memorial Day weekend. It's Western States Camp, a weekend gathering of ultra runners who gather to camp, socialize, run and train on the famous Western States Course. Sign me up.

So yes, I'm going to Camp!

This weekend: Western States Camp
Next weekend: Blackfoot Ultra
Weekend after that: weekend in Jasper including Banff-Jasper Relay.

I'm excited. Fun. Stuff. Happening. Let's. Go.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Well, it's official. The ski season has finally come to a close in Banff, as Sunshine Village closed for the season yesterday. I just had to sneak in one last day of ski touring at Sunshine Meadows. It was a true spring day in the high alpine, with wet, heavy snow under foot and warm temperatures. I loved every moment of it.

As much as I adore this place in winter, I can't wait to come back to this exact location in a few short months this summer. I am dreaming of the next time I will be here: to enjoy some incredible single track, the sparkling lakes, the gorgeous views and the flowers. I can't wait!

I enjoyed the moment, the day and the excitement of one season ending and another one beginning.

This photo is from Saturday's Run, where I personally was enjoying the sensation of sun on my skin and the smell of the earth in spring time. We ran for 5 hours. I'm calling this picture: Steve and The Big Mountain.

Followed by: Mike and The Big Mountain

The boys are hiding in the shadow of this picture, as we skirt the shore of the Bow River. That's what our river looks like right now: it's empty and dry. The run-off hasn't started yet, it will be a few months before the snow leaves the high country.

In the meantime, we'll enjoy runs like this in the valley and dream of future adventures at Sunshine Meadows.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Snow, Sleet and Spring time

I live and play in a place where the flow of all things depends on the season and the weather. During both of my evening runs this week, I found myself running amidst big, fluffy, white snowflakes of the spring variety. Gray sky's, winds and short blustery storms have been passing through all week. This little squall rolled along the valley floor and hit me on the top of Tunnel Mountain, but by the time I reached the bottom of the mountain, the world was calm again.

Last night, Keith and I enjoyed a great run on some secret-secret trails in the Hoodoo's area of Banff. I always amazed every time I go there, I seem to find a new trail. Keith took me on a trail that I had never been before and we had sun, snow and sleet during the hour we were out and about!

This morning, a gift. A calm morning with new snow accumulations and big white floaty clouds. I drove out to Johnson Lake to enjoy an early morning run and the fresh snow and views. My footy prints were the first human prints of the morning, but I saw elk, deer and wolf footy prints on the trail. And the loons have arrived for the summer! It was so calm and quiet, I hated to disrupt the morning with all of the hootin' and hollerin' that I do when I run by myself in the woods. But damn, it sure was pretty. I'll admit, it was a very leisurely run. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I *heart* Spring. And My Mom.

It has been a long time coming and I think I can finally afford to get excited about it. It's the coming of spring and all of the good things it brings. There are little green bits poking through the earth and snow, the sun has some strength to it and my friends, the elk have returned to the front yard.

My summer friends are back, too! Those good people whose company I enjoy on the trail each year. I have summer and winter friends. The winter ones are the people who live to ski and the summer ones are the people who live to run! So welcome springtime and the friends it brings.

This weekend, I enjoyed a couple of great runs with good people. I also enjoyed a little quality time with both my Mummy and Keith's Mom, Judy and Rennie. I even enjoyed a little time with my stepmom Elsie. How lucky am I to be supported by such a fantastic fan club?

Happy Mother's Day Ladies. You really are the best!

I was lucky enough to enjoy 2 great days out on the trails. Yesterday, Steven, Mike and myself got to enjoy 32km's and 4 hours on the Lake Minnewanka shoreline. We started in snow, had mostly sunshine and finished with little ice balls pelting us from the sky. Typical. Spring in Banff. We had so much fun.
Today, another 21km's and 3 hours with Keith, Iris, Darren and Don. The ice which was on Johnson Lake on Wednesday night has disappeared! It was a beautiful spring day.

For those of you who have never been to Banff National Park before, the photos will give you a good indication of what a beautiful, exciting, uplifting time of year it is. Mmmmm. The arrival of spring. I really do live in one of the most beautiful places in the world!

Today's Run: Cascade Ponds, Johnson Lake, Lower Bankhead and Upper Bankhead

Saturday's Run: Lake Minnewanka Shoreline

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I Missed You. Really. Just Because.

Hey. This one is gift to you. The lovely Miss Meghan, the younger better looking faster version of me in Yosemite, has just finished a post on her experience at this years Marathon des Sables. She is a far better writer than me and who doesn't require photos and silly shenanigans to jazz up her blog. Meghans story here.

I Missed You. Really.

Because I missed you, you get photos from Wednesday nights run as well. Steven, Mike and I ran a sweet hour and a half and discovered a few more trails that are quickly drying out. Yay! And the ice is almost gone on Johnson Lake! Damn, I love where I live. And I love the change of season. It's a happy and exciting time of year to be a trail runner. The good season is coming soon!

Johnson Lake and Mount Rundle

Two Fools. Running Fools.

Swingin' Steven.