Sunday, November 30, 2008

How to Maximize Your Weekend

1. Get to know a new friend!
First thing on Friday morning, I was super-excited to have a running date with the lovely Danni of Kalispell. Like in a teenage giggling girl kind of way. Danni and I are new-ish blogging friends and I had been hinting to Danni that Banff was a mere 5 hours away from her home in Montana and she needed to come! She was in town for a little Thanksgiving getaway with her hubby and friends, but I'm so glad she put aside time for a run with me. It's always great to have new company on the trails and while Danni and I were running and chatting, 3 hours disappeared. We had a great time. I have been christened The BanffAssador. You know what they say, time flys when your having fun and running in pretty places with good company! Thanks so much Danni!

So after my 3 hour run, I really hadn't planned on doing anything else except maybe taking a nap. But instead, I went down to the garage and started digging out all of my touring gear, skis-check, skins-check, batteries in beacon-check. That got me excited so I decided I needed to go take all of my gear out for a test run!

2. Go Skiing.

So, I picked up my Season's Pass, got a road coffee and drove up to one of my favorite places in the world: Sunshine Village. And I was excited.

This is me riding the gondola with the "oh my god I'm so excited it's the first day of ski season I'm going to pee" expression. And I was. But I didn't.

My Stylin' Ride

I decided that I just would just go touring around Sunshine Meadows, see some pretty scenery, get some exercise and try out my gear to make sure everything was working fine. Well. First thing I did was bust my collapsible pole and I didn't have any duct tape in my pack! So, a great lesson only 5 minutes in - note to self, always have duct tape. But I know that, it was such a first day of the season mistake. I still went touring, with my skins and one pole I could still motor pretty good. I had such a great spontaneous trip! When I got back to the chairlift, I realized that I had been out for 2.5 hours of hard work and my smile muscles were sore.

3. Enjoy a big fat burger and fries.

When I finally got down the gondola it was getting dark and I was starving. To finish up this fantastic day, I went straight to the Saltlik Lounge to enjoy my favorite Banff burger: a 3/4 pound burger made with Sirloin topped with Mushroom and Gruyer with a mountain of skinny fries on the side. Oh. My. Goodness. It was so good. I would make a lousy vegetarien. I crave. The Beef. Needless to say, I slept really well. And needless to say, I had enjoyed a rather awesome day!

4. Make some new friends!

The weather here has been really strange this November. We have managed to escape the entire month of November with very little snow. Last week, the weather got cold and something quite amazing happened. All of the ponds, lakes and even the river froze to perfection and no snow has fallen! When the snow falls, you can't skate. So after my morning cup of coffee and the advice of my friend Dave, I went down to the river. And this is what I saw:

It was frozen to glass like perfection and it was crystal clear. While I was looking at the ice pondering how smart it was to attempt skating down a frozen river, I was joined by another brave soul Ryan and an older couple named Melissa and Carl. We laced up our skates and together, ventured out onto the ice. We could see that the depth of ice was around 5 inches! It was that clear. It was still unnverving because we could also see the bottom of the river with such clarity we could see all of the deadfall, rocks and fish under the moving water. It was scary, but safe, but scary. Together, laughing, smiling and visiting, we skated almost 2km right down the river and it was one of the more amazing things I have done since I moved to Banff 4 years ago. I had a true Banff moment when we were standing on the ice socializing with the old timers, who were telling Ryan and I stories of living in a cabin on Lake Louise in the 1960's. They said that it was really rare and special to be skating on the river and had only done it a few times. It was cool to meet some other Banffites and have a true Banff adventure together.

I was so thrilled and full of adrenalin post-skate (I was nervous and it was scary) that I gathered up my touring gear and headed back up to Sunshine, for another ski and another lap of Sunshine Meadows. I had some nervous energy to work off from the ice skating adventure.

It was sure is great to be ski touring again! Now, I am finally excited for the arrival of winter and ski season. Note to self: when the sky turns this color, it is time to call it a day.

5. Go for a long run!

Keith arrived home late on Saturday night and bummer for him, had to skip out on the long run on Sunday. Truthfully, I wasn't really feeling like going out by myself so I decided to stay close to home. I ran out the back door, hit the trail and ran straight up. 7.5km's later, I was on top of Sulphur Mountain!! I did the old up and over-up the front side and down the back side. I forgot what a huge descent this is - from the top of the mountain all the way to the valley floor it's 8km and change. I was sure glad I went, it was one of those days where it felt like a tour of duty, but ended up being a pleasure.

Self-Portrait-back side of Sulphur Mountain, old access road

Mount Edith and Corey Pass in the Distance

My Footy Prints

6. Spend some quality time with some old friends.

As a grand finalee, to a most excellent weekend I met up with my friends Dave and Brenda for an afternoon skate. We had heard of another local area that had frozen perfectly and wanted to check it out. When we arrived at said "secret skating place" there was tons of families from Canmore and Banff enjoying their day. The views of Cascade were gorgeous and the ice was pretty darn perfect!!

Dave is an Ass Man

Awwwww! Aren't they adorable?

Crazy kids.


In summary, that is how you maximize a weekend:) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 23, 2008

This Week in Running

We arrived back at the Calgary Airport on Saturday night, just in time to drive back in the dark at midnight, in a winter storm. Oh, joy! So on Saturday in a nutshell, we awoke in Stinson Beach, ran a 30km trail race, got in a car and drove through the mayhem of San Francisco and hopped on a plane home. Then we made the stormy drive in the dark back to Banff. Phew.
After a few days off of running, I snuck out of work an hour early on Wednesday. I was desparate to get a little sunlight. We have currently entered into what I call "The Dark Months" in Banff where the sun disappears behind the mountains by 2:00 in the afternoon. By 5:15 it is getting pretty dark. I wanted a run up Tunnel to enjoy the last of the day light!

I was pretty happy when I got there and it was a beautiful afternoon!!

On Friday, I got up early and put on my new road running shoes and took a run around town at sunrise. I haven't owned any in 4 years and let me tell you, I felt like a light, fast, speedy-speedster with those puppies on. WOW!! I ran into Mike along the way and he told me to go get some dirt on them.

Saturday morning I was excited to be joined by Hugh and a few friends, including Don, Catherine and Myron. Let's not forget the puppy dogs-all 5 of them!!

Hugh-The Dog Whisperer

Catherine and Maya-The Greyhound in the Coat

Hugh's doggie friends were patiently, impatient while we stopped to enjoy the swing.

We mostly enjoyed a run on pretty dry trails, until we climbed up to the viewpoint. On the climb up the snow got deeper, and we got to work a little bit harder to earn our view!

Hugh and Keith on the home stretch

Hugh's pictures are here.

On Sunday morning, we awoke to one of those picture perfect blue sky days. Keith was supposed to take the day off, but hey-it was too gorgeous a day to stay at home. We had to get out! The boy joined me for an hour up Tunnel Mountain and then I headed off on the trail for another 1.5hours of quality Leslie time.

Me, on the top of Tunnel Mountain

The trails are remarkably dry for late November. We escaped November with no real winter weather! The ski hills opened last weekend while we were in California, but I think we will wait another week or so until there is more snow. Maybe next weekend, we will get out the skis??? In the mean time, I am enjoying the dry trails....

More photos here.

**And finally, all of my photos from our holiday in Yosemite and the Marin Headlands, as well as Race Day photos from Stinson Beach. The fine folks at Pacific Coast Trail Runs put some of my pictures up on their promo sight as well!!**


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Charter Members

After checking out Meghans' latest blog entry and laughing very hard, Keith and I have decided to become the Charter Members of the Meghan Fan Club. Please join the Meghan Fan Club now to celebrate all that is Meghan!

Prrrrrrrr. Nice kitten!

Join Now and Get Some Free Mittens!

Join Now and Receive a "Pig Tail" Wig!
Join Now and Receive Free Nights at Camp Sea Foam!
(limited time only)
Join Now and Half Dome is Yours!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stinson Beach Race Report and Happy Anniversary Run

First, a quick snapshot of Keith and I pre-race yesterday morning at the start line of the Stinson Beach 30km trail run:

Awwwwww!?! Aren't we just the cutest?? And does this look like the San Francisco Headlands in November? I was prepared for cool and windy with a side of rain, but hey - we were pretty stoked with this finer than normal weather we were gifted.

For contrast, this was taken 24 hours later out of our front window:

Can you spot the difference?? Yikes.

Yesterday, we were blessed with some pretty sweet Northern California weather for our "Anniversary Run" at Stinson Beach. It was awesome! And my husband was a super-star. I am still in awe that he even agreed to go on a "running holiday" and let me beat him up for 9 days and then run a 30km race together at the end of it. I think he loves me! I am a lucky girl.

Keith fueled up the night before with a Guiness and a Blue-cheese and bacon burger and we found a place to stay a block from the start line. It was great to just wake up, eat and stroll on down to the start line. We got there early to enjoy some "Pre-race" time and hopefully see some familiar faces.

It was great to meet Dave of Atlanta Trails, who has dropped off the face of the blogging world after moving from Atlanta to the Bay Area. It's all good Dave - we Get It. Grad School is sort of busy like that!

Keith and Dave heading out and UP!!

We got to enjoy the first bit of the run with Dave, who was running the 20k. As we headed out of town to join up to the Dispsea trail, there was a massive bottle neck of runners all waiting to get on the single track, which was pretty entertaining. Good thing we weren't in a hurry! The race had over 450+ people with a 12k, a 20k, a 30k and a 50k option available. When we hit the Dipsea we could see the runners off in the distance heading up towards the Steep Ravine Trail.

The famous Dipsea Trail and Steep Ravine were as gnarly as I had anticipated and we all walked this section together as one big mass of runners. You couldn't have run anyways, with the volume of runners on the trail. It was a great slow start and forced march for Keith, who has the habit of going out a wee bit fast! The trail was cool, dark and moist but we were already sweating buckets on this warm November day.

After about 55 minutes of trudging upward on the steep trail, we finally emerged from the ferns and redwoods into the sunshine of the Bolinas aid station. En route we picked up Neil, who was a great pace match for Keith and we ended up running with him for the duration of the race! He had done the Hawaii Ironman 4 weeks ago and was rocking the 50k on this day. More importantly, he kept Keith chatting and distracted for the entire duration of the run! A super nice guy.

After the huge elevation gain, when we finally came out of the forest, the trails and views just opened up. It was a FINE day to be enjoying a sweet trail run in a beautiful place. And the company was good, too! I had not one, but two boys to run with!!!

Neil - the Aloha boy

The descent down into the town of Muir Beach was so much fun! The boys were rocking it when we hit the aid station and turn around. From there, we had a little reprieve on the flats before another big climb back to the top, where we enjoyed some more sweet coastal views.

Pause for smooch - (He didn't want to Stop!)

Keith - leading the pack of two....

The descent back down to the finish line at Stinson Beach was more great single track, twisty-turny, rooty, technical and F-U-N! The boy was starting to run out of juice at this point, but he sucked her up and got 'er done. His downhilling has improved hugely just in the past few months. Superstar! Bonus stars for you.

Too bad he was too tired to carry me across the finish line of the Anniversary Run and he didn't take me up on the offer to carry him (next time, honey!) but he had fun, was stoked to be out running around on the trails and was thrilled to finish as a solid mid-packer! Yeeeah-honey bun! He ran strong, smart and happy.

The Pacific Coast Trail Runs team serves up a great event. Wicked course, great trails in pretty places and awesome aid stations and organisation. Maybe Keith and I will make it an annual event!!

Happy 10th Anniversary Keith! Love you and thanks for a great week and a great Anniversary run!