Sunday, August 24, 2008

Greetings from Buena Vista!

How often do you get stuck in traffic in a Buffalo traffic jam? Meghan says this is normal in check out this bad boy!

Just drivin' through Yellowstone....

Yep, I'm Trail Trash.

Riding the Jackelope.....

Meghan helps tame the beast....

God bless America!

Well, I wasn't planning on blogging while I was away at the TransRockies run but, hey my hubby brought along the technology so here I am!

We enjoyed a fantastic roadtrip from Banff to Yellowstone and then from Yellowstone to Colorado - and what can I say? I love this country! I looooooooove it! I love the roads and space and ever evolving scenery. I love to just sit back and enjoy the changing sky and landscape. And the company was pretty awesome too!! The lovely Meghan is as fantastic as I knew she would because I am an extremely good judge of character. Hee-hee. Keith of course, kept us entertained by talking for hours and hours and hours. The man can talk when enhanced by caffeinated beverages!

Anyhow, we have arrived in Buena Vista and will start the running tomorrow! At registration, we were blown away with the quality of our nice shiny new bags and the gear we got. Great swag. As an extra bonus we were treated to a real yummy welcome dinner and met up with lots of familiar faces and some new ones from blog world. I am even more excited now and ready to run. Those TransRockies folks sure know how to do it up right!

Off to ride that crazy Jackelope. Did I mention I love this country?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Off to Running Camp....erp. I mean, The TransRockies Run!!

Let the adventures begin- I am off to TransRockies 2008 edition and am leaving on my roadtrip tomorrow after work. Wooohoo!

I have told my partner Meghan to think of our little adventure in the Colorado Rockies as if we are going to "running camp". We are going to go for little runny-runs every day, eat a lot of food, get some massages and spend a lot of time sleeping in our tent. It's running camp!!! I can't wait! And of course, I am very excited to be meeting up with Meghan for this little adventure.

Keith and I are driving from Banff to Yellowstone and then from Yellowstone to Colorado. Should be shits and giggles! My honey is going to be on volunteer duty, helping the official race photographer (our buddy Dan) and will be out on course every day! My own personal cheering squad. Love it.

Here are some pictures from last years 2007 run, all taken by my super-duper partner Steven Miller. Have a great week!

Day 1 - Sufferage at Altitude: Leslie is one hurtin' unit.

Frosty Morning outside of Leadville.

High altitude climbing - woooohoo!

Hot fall weather.

Cold fall weather. Multi-talenented slacker in Action.

My hot butt.

Hot Steve. Hot Day. Hot Damn.

OMG. We are sooooo Done.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Return to Yoho - Hot Summer Fun!!

It's the weekends like this that I dream of all summer - and they are few and far between. This weekend, we had perfect rocky mountain summer weather: clear blue sky, hot temperatures and a full moon in the evening. How fantastic is that for running? And how unbelievable magical is a full moon over Takakkaw Falls?

The trails are high, dry and clear in the alpine in Yoho and all that is left is to get out there and enjoy.

I joined Iris and Julie for a weekend of camping and running and I brought along a Spanish guy who I had met for all of 5 minutes. Javier was great! He added an extra element of fun to the weekend, he was blown away by the scenery and appreciative, he was easy to get along with and damn entertaining. I had promised him a lift to Yoho, but in the course of an hour conversation and a car ride, I told him he was more than welcome to join us for some fun. The girls loved him.

One of my favorite trails in Yoho is called the Iceline. While it is a very popular summer destination, I love joining the other people on the trail for a wee jaunt above treeline. You get to run a trail below 5 glaciers, with many others on the horizon. It is truly magical! It is one of many trails we ran. I also did a little thing I like to call "Yoho in a Day." I ran to Yoho Lake, the Highline, the Iceline, the Whaleback, to the top of Twin Falls and then descended back to the valley, where I enjoyed an easy cruise home. So magical. I jumped in so many glacier fed lakes along the way, I lost track! The weather was HOT. Good heat training for TransRockies!!

I ran for all 3 days - 26km on the first day, 32km on the second and about 24km on the third day. I probably should be tapering for TransRockies - but hey, the weather was to fantastic to miss out on any fun!! I'll have the rest of the week to relax and a few days driving in the car to Yellowstone and on to Colorado. Start line is next Monday!! Woooohoo! So soon - what happened to my summer??? Oh yeah-I ran every weekend and it vanished - poof! But it's not over yet and the very best adventure is still to come!

Speaking of TransRockies, it is coming fast and furious. I have so much to do in the next few days, that there is no time for a proper blog entry to tell you all of the tales of the weekend! C'est Dommage as they say, en francais. You will have to make due with all of these great photos I took along the way. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Trans Rockies Bike Race Rocks!

A quick post and some photos for Anna in Germany, who is missing her quality time at T.R this year....

If you ever want to get inspired, a Trans Rockies event is the place to find it.

I made a quick trip to the camp, where cyclists were finishing day 3 of this epic 7 day mountain bike race. No doubt about it, this race is one of the toughest mountain bike events in the world. Those who show up untrained, underprepared or lacking in bike handling skills, usually don't make it to the finish line. This is my gorgeous friend Janka of Jasper. Janka has no cartilage in one knee ie. bone on bone and has limited vision in one eye. She rocks. She was tired when I found her, but determined to get 'er done. Go Janka!



Tent City

More Apres-Bike: Live music and burgers and beer!!

Lyle, the owner of Nipika in his happy place

Sweeeet Rides

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Weekend with Iris

I had a great weekend hanging out and running with my friend Iris! Iris is always good company, she's just my speed, she's appreciative of the great scenery and she looooooves to run on trails! I always make sure that when she comes to visit, I take her to extra pretty places. This weekend, we did a couple of my favorites.

North Molar Pass is my new favorite pass in all of Banff National Park! I only just discovered it last year and there never seems to be many people considering how beautiful it is. I think it is just a little bit out of the way. The trailhead is about 100km from Banff at Mosquitoe Creek on the Icefields Parkway.

The next day, we didn't want to drive far so we went and did the Corey Pass Circuit. It is a hard one to run, it is steep and technical but it is a great power hike on the ascent and there are a few runnable portions. The fun part is the descent from Corey Pass to Edith Pass and out. Fun. Fun. Fun!

Both of these runs feature scenery so gorgeous, it's hard to get any momentum! You just have to keep stopping and looking around to enjoy, appreciate and take it all in. It surrounds you from all directions!

Saturday Run - Corey Pass Circuit

Everyone likes a loop and this one is a favorite that is close to home! You can run to the trailhead in about 40 minutes from my house in Banff. I was lazy and didn't want to deal with running through a busy tourist town in summer time, whilst wearing a pink skirt. I thought I would save my energy to chat with all of those people on trail, who always look at me like I am crazy running through the mountains in my pink skirt.

I may be silly, but I'm not crazy!

Climbing to Corey Pass - Looking back towards Sundance Pass

Corey Pass - The really amazing scenery is on the other side!

The Really Amazing Scenery on The Other Side

Big Chunk of Rock I - Mount Fifi

Big Chunk of Rock II - Mount Louis

Big Chunk of Rock III

I Love Mount Louis!!

Little Girl, Big Rock


The Best Potato Chip Ever

Friday Run - North Molar Pass to Fish Lakes

This whole area is so cool. What I love most about it is how wild it feels. Last year, I ran it by myself and I didn't see any people all day. What I did discover, was one of the most immense alpine meadows I had ever seen, complete with lots of fresh grizzly bear diggings and scat. It felt so big and wild that it was almost eery! I was glad to share this one with a friend and this time, we did see some people and no bears. We went all the way up and over the pass and descended to Fish Lakes. The return trip was even more awesome, with views in every direction!

Bear Country - Mosquitoe Creek

Babe in the Meadows Looking For Grizzly Bears to Arm Wrestle

Nearing the Pass

Snow At the Pass

Fun at the Pass!
Iris and Her Angel

See why it is my new favorite???

Descending to Fish Lakes

Upper Fish Lake

Sweeeeet Running.

Sweeeeet Place!

Hope you all had a great weekend. Now get out there and play!

Up this week for me:

-A quick roadtrip to Nipika Lodge for the Trans Rockies Bike Race

-A return visit to Yoho next weekend. I can't wait!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Death Race - Part II

Here are some photos from my 4 1/2 hour run upon my arrival in Grand Cache. For some reason, I was compelled to take photos of some of the different things that I saw while running!

But let's get to the goods: RACEDAY!!

I love races and if I'm not racing, I still want to be a part of it. So I decided to play cheerleader as much as I could. At the startline, I got a photo of an excited Steve and Brenda ready to conquer 125km of trail goodness. My Banff friends are amazing! I had little doubt that they would both reach the finish line and offered a little support along the way. Eric and Michelle were there too, with another friend Terry from Washington. I was also cheering for my friends Neil Runions and the speedy newbie, Norma Bastidas.

Fueled by coffee, I charged around like the fool that I am and cheered on runners in 3 different places and that was just for Leg 1!! After that start to my day and while all the runners were out and about for many hours in the bush on Leg 2, I got myself a big greasy breakfast and then caught a quick power nap before heading back to transition. I got lots of quality time with Michelle as she was playing crew for both Eric and Terry. She reminded me of the old Ultra adage of what CREW really stands for.....Cranky Runner Endless Waiting. She was excited and nervous for Eric and really was anticipating and quietly anxious for her honey to finish each stage. I think I would be the same if my sweetie was out doing something so tough!!


Neil-You've come a looooong way, baby!

Eric and Terry, the man with the hair.

Eric and Michelle with Terry on the sidelines

Steve came through, right on schedule. Neil came through looking relaxed and Norma came through with a big bright smile, feeling good. Brenda came through in a little discomfort from the brutal downhill, but looking great! The weather was frickin' cold all day. I spent the entire day in my puffy down coat. I also learned something: I can't cheerlead and take photos. I took so many crappy photos of runners backsides running by in a blur! I'm a lousy multi-tasker.

Because I was waiting at Transition 2 for a while, I missed Steve go through Transition 3. While I was in the car driving like a crazed woman, I saw him running the short highway section. It was about 2c and it was raining sideways. Poor guy. Poor runners!! He was hot on the tail of the first place female runner and running strong. Back at transition 3, I got to spend more quality time with Michelle, under my umbrella this time, waiting, waiting and waiting. But I loved it! Neil came through ahead of schedule and his crew was nowhere to be seen, I went running to find them for him. Norma came through and I busted her with her pants down.

We pumped Eric and Terry up with some hot soupy Ramen goodness and sent them on their way for the long and unforgiving Leg 4.

After that, I had my own race to deal with so I went back to Steve and Brendas plush hotel room and tried to catch some zzzz's. I was exhausted! But hey- my friends were out there in the crappy weather running up a mountain, so I sent some good thoughts their way. I thought about Jeff having his beer at the summit of Leg 4 so many years ago and it made me giggle.

I geared up and got a ride out to Transition 5, aka the "night run" with my buddy Allan. I was a little nervous, but very excited! I don't run much in the dark, afterall I live in a place with lots of large nocturnal carnivores. But here I was, gearing up for a night run in a place where there may even be MORE wildlife! As I didn't know any of my team members, it was challenging to try and find a guy I didn't know in transition. Thankfully, I found the Mystery Mans' wife and she made sure that we got hooked up. I found myself lollygagging at the startline and I kept looking forward into the dark night and back to transition, hoping someone, anyone would roll into transition and potentially keep me company!

But, no such luck so off I ran into the very dark night. It took me 10 - 15 minutes to find my legs and footing in the dark and just relax and let the headlamps do their work. After I got used to the dark, the headlamps and got a grip on my senses, I was off!! I spent about 20 minutes in the dark by myself, but as soon as I saw my first headlamp bobbing off in the distance, the chase was on. When I past the first runner in the dark, they were going so slow I asked them if they were soloists, but no. I was getting more and more confident with the lights and the terrain and put on the jets. The night was also pulling me along and the weather was the best that it had been all day. There was no wind, the sky had cleared up to reveal a dizzying amount of stars and the temperature was crisp, cool and carressing in the dark and I was running in the woods, through the night with a shit-eating grin on my face.

The single track was fantastic and challenging and it climbed and swooped and twisted and turned. I was amazed how quickly that I would come across a runner in the dark! I didn't seem to be able to see or hear the other runners, until I was on them. The forest was dark and insulating. I must have past at least 10 runners before reaching the Hell's Gate river crossing. I came across a few soloists as well and cheered them on. I came across a sweet little Japanese girl who was running faster than most of the relay folks and she ran her way to a third place finish! By the finish line, I probably passed 15-20 people in the dark of the woods and nobody past me. I had a great night run! So much fun! I got the impression that there were a lot of relay folks who weren't trail runners and were very new to this whole running-at-night-on-trail experience. I also got the feeling that one headlamp on my head and one on my waist gave me a lot of light and therefore a lot more advantage navigating over all the roots and nasty terrain. Either way, it was awesome!

I crossed the finish line and decided to wait it out with Michelle. I put on my cozy clothes and ate some tasty treats while waiting for Eric and the others. I got to see Neil cross the finish line, as well as Eric and headed back to camp to curl up around 3:45 AM. I would have to wait to see how everyone finished until the next morning.

And they ROCKED!!

All of the friends who were soloing finished. With the men, Steve came 13th, Neil finished 19th and Eric finished 20th. Pretty impressive guys! With the ladies, Norma finished 4th and Brenda picked up lots of time on the uphills on the last half of the course and finished an impressive 6th!!

The next day, a very exhausted Leslie was up by 8:00 and enjoyed a breakfast with the North Face crew and got to talk running with Garrett Graubins and the ladies winner, Diane Van Deren. Diane was amazingly coherent after her run, I think I would have had problems stringing together a phrase after such an effort. The whole crew was pretty pumped about the success of the event and seemed to enjoy their first experience at the The Death Race. Hopefully, they will be back next year as a sponsor! Afterwards, we packed up camp and hit the road. I was thankfull my buddy Jeff of Jasper joined me, as he put in those first tough 200km behind the wheel driving, while I snoozed. Thanks Jeff!

It was great to connect, though briefly, with so many friends this weekend. It is always sweet to meet and collect a few new ones as well!

Yet another great weekend adventure - I love this race!