Thursday, January 29, 2009

Norma finishes the Brazil 135 and follows it up with 100km in Antarctica

Now this is a woman, who likes to dream big! Her name is Norma Bastidas and she has become one bad ass ultra marathon, in less than 2 years. While we are don't know each other very well, she has invited me to join her on a little upcoming ultra adventure in Australia. I am looking forward to getting to know her a lot better and can't wait for our little upcoming adventure together.

While she only started running a couple of years ago, she has come a long way, in a short time. Last year, as a rookie ultramarathoner she tackled every major ultra in our province and finished them all. The woman is driven, talented and beautiful!

She has given her "big dream" a name, and the 777 Run for Sight is currently in full swing. She will be running 7 Ultras on 7 continents in 7 months, all the while acting as a spokeswoman and fundraiser for vision loss.

Last weekend she completed the first of seven races, the Brazil 135. It took her 50 hours and 20 minutes. She then followed that up with a quick trip to Antartica, where she ran 100km at a Russian Research Station. Coming up next? The Yukon Arctic Ultra, in the frosty North of Canada. So, run on Norma! Two continents conquered and five to go! For Norma's race reports, just click here.
Just Giv'r, eh?

Friday, January 23, 2009

I Like to Dream

Let me start by saying, I like to dream. I like to dream big. I've got a whole dream list, full of ideas, trails, races and places that I want to go and run. Sometimes, it's even a little bit overwhelming! I've been looking at my calendar for months, trying to shape together some fun running adventures to keep me motivated and inspired. It's a great feeling to start to piece together a plan for the year. It's a feeling of excitement and anticipation, that comes with having some plans, dreams and ideas on the horizon, as the new year unfolds.

This is me on top of Sulphur Mountain yesterday. It was -20c, there was nobody on the trail and I had a great run. It hasn't snowed in a couple of weeks, so the packed snow on the trail was perfect. I was thrilled when I cleaned the ascent! Meaning, I ran non-stop, every step of the way, from my backdoor to the top of a mountain. Of course, I've done this climb many times but yesterday I figured out something new. Usually, when I'm running I listen to the sound of my breathing and I moderate my running pace accordingly. This works well of course, but it makes me slow. I seldom push myself past that perceived effort. Yesterday, I took the tunes and I cranked them just for the top quarter, so I couldn't hear my breathing. It worked great! I flew up the mountain, way faster than I normally would just because I couldn't hear my messy breathing. Today, I have a major lung hangover!

Me and Steppenwolf, we rocked it up to the summit. Once again, I found myself thinking about some dream ideas and the plans for the year.

Magic Carpet Ride
I like to dream yes, yes, right between my sound machine
On a cloud of sound I drift in the night
Any place it goes is right
Goes far, flies near, to the stars away from here

Well, you don't know what we can find
Why don't you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride
You don't know what we can see
Why don't you tell your dreams to me
Fantasy will set you free
Close your eyes girl
Look inside girl
Let the sound take you away

Last night I held Aladdin's lamp
And so I wished that I could stay
Before the thing could answer me
Well, someone came and took the lamp away
I looked around, a lousy candle's all I found

Well, you don't know what we can find
Why don't you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride
Well, you don't know what we can see
Why don't you tell your dreams to me
Fantasy will set you free
Close your eyes girl
Look inside girl
Let the sound take you away

The Easy Way Up

So what are some of those dreams?? Really, there are soooo many ideas. Some of them will happen this year, but some of them will remain dreams for a little while longer.

A lot of my ideas involve epic runs which I want to do in my own backyard. Further adventure runs in Jasper National Park, Robson Provincial Park and Banff National Park. I won't bore you with the details, but it's a big area and there are 100's of kilometres of trails to explore. I've dreamed of piecing together a long multi day run on all of my favorite trails in Banff National Park. A big, epic, scenic point to point over a few days. I'm going to make that run happen this year.

-I'd love to do further adventure runs in Yosemite, the 105 Mile Maa Daah Hey Trail in North Dakota, the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim (of course!) and Point Reyes National Seashore.

-I want to run a 100 Miler.

-I would love to volunteer at Hardrock and get a taste of this event.

-I want to pace someone at a 100 Miler.

A lot of the dreaming is mostly due to the fact that it is mid-winter. I laughed very hard when I found this blog entry that I could relate to very much! It's exciting to put some races on the calendar, when you are stuck in mid-winter. So here is what I am excited about:

1. I'm embracing winter. It's long and cold, but I still love it! The 2nd week of February, we are off on a one week ski touring holiday to Sorceror Lodge. It's a heli-in backcountry lodge and it's a special place. And the people we are going with like to eat!

2. Hopefully, at the end of March I'll be off to Australia for an ultra running event, in Bogong National Park. I will be playing Support Crew for this crazy, ambitious and talented super-woman.

Norma Bastidas is a hell of a go-getter, and this weekend while you and I were fantasizing about warmer weather and fish tacos, she was running 135miles in the Brazilian tropics. Norma is running 7 tough ultras, on 7 continents, in 7 months. More importantly, she is fundraising for the blind and visually impaired along the way. Her story is quite an amazing one, you should have a look at her website and blog. I wish her all the luck in the world!

3. Diablo 50 Miler on April 19th. Love this race, it's tough and scenic. We'll go to Yosemite to visit Meghan for a few days as well! As well, I'm thrilled that Keith has decided to run the 42km course that they offer at Diablo. Can't wait. We may drag along a few friends as well!

4. Western States training camp in May! Just for fun. Running for 3 days and hanging with other runner folks. Sweet. Meghan and Danni will hopefully join me.

5. Blackfoot Ultra on May 30th. Holly and Keith have committed to their first ultra! I'll be running as well, haven't decided what distance.

6. I've put aside the last week of July, for my multi-day adventure run. I'm christening it the Banff Trail Trash Epic.

Just a few things to dream about, don't you think?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Rundle Ramblings

I know! I know! I should be running. But Mount Rundle was flirting with me. She demanded I stop and take photographs. My new camera is pretty sweet.
Enjoy the view!
**Today's run: 3h30min. 3 hours of running and a half hour of photo taking!**

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Me, Myself and I

Me, Myself and I on Tunnel Mountain

This weekend I have been blissfully greedy. It seems to have been a whirlwind of social engagements since Christmas, with not enough Leslie time. So this weekend, I found myself alone on the home front, with perfect weather in the forecast and absolutely no plans. It was going to be all about me.

After a healthy sleep in, a big cup of coffee and some quality computer time I finally set out for my run. I decided on Tunnel Mountain and some hill repeats, just to see if I was up for it. Well, I think I was solar powered or something, with the clear blue sky and warm temperatures. I ran up Tunnel Mountain 3 times, every step of the way, without a problem. I even enjoyed it! A quick jaunt through town and past the Banff Train Station followed, with a flat and easy couple kilometres to stretch out the legs on Fenland Trail. Me. Me. Me.

Today, I enjoyed a repeat edition of sleep in and coffee, followed by a side of cheezy novel and computer. I finally, finally dragged myself off to Sunshine for a solo backcountry ski and was stomping through the snow by noon. Not even an hour in, I decided it was already lunch time and settled myself in a sunny place with a view. Me. Me. Me.

I had ambitions of a big, challenging, hardcore ski tour today. As the day unfolded, I decided that today was a day to be enjoyed at a much slower pace. The sun was actually warm, there was no wind and I communed with the mountains. I stopped on top of yet another ridge to enjoy a hot bevvie out of my thermos and take in the views in every direction. Me! Me! Me!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sweeeet Skoki (and Leslies 40th birthday....)

For my 40th birthday, I pondered doing a whole lot of things. It felt like a milestone and I thought, maybe I should do something milestone-ish. I thought about doing a special race, maybe travelling to a special place, running for 40 hours, running for 40 kilometres, doing some crazy-ass adventure out in the woods for 40 hours... You know, something special, something memorable, something big!

Instead, I realized that I didn't need to do any of those things because in reality, my life is already one big on going adventure. I actually do a lot of those things daily, weekly, monthly! How exciting is that?! My life and my lifestyle are pretty frickin' fantastic. I'm the fittest I have ever been in my whole life. I get out there and enjoy, like nobody's business. Life is good. No need for an epic adventure for my 40th birthday, because every day these days feels like an adventure! It's exciting. It's fun. It's awesome. I can't wait for whatever lurks around the next corner. And I love being 40. It is pretty darn cool.

That being said, I still wanted to go and have a little adventure in one of my favorite places, with some of my favorite people. A trip to Skoki Lodge was in order, to celebrate. Holly, Anna and Stu joined Keith and I for a couple of fun days of skiing, relaxing and enjoying the backcountry bliss of the Skoki area.

The Birthday Girl on her sunset-birthday-bonus ski loop!

Big Smiles

Big Fun

Big Cookies
Big Ass

Big Birthday!

Big Mountains, Little People

Big Pack, Little Girl

Big Ski

Big Friends

Big Stud

Big Views

Big Mountain Pass

Big Sky

Big Effort!
(pheeeew...we're all done.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's Skoki Time!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend! I made sure to get my long run in today, as we are off to Skoki Lodge for a few days of skiing, relaxing and celebrating. Sort of an extended weekend! One of the great things about Skoki is that there is no cell service, computer access, or any of that stuff. Just a nice opportunity to relax, sit around and chat and enjoy a beautiful place with some friends. And it's my birthday! I couldn't imagine a more enjoyable way to spend it.

See you in a few days,


Monday, January 5, 2009

The Weekend Report

Although my long run was solo, the rest of my weekend was full of some quality girl-time with two lovelies: Ms. Iris and Ms. Holly. It was cold on Friday, but Iris and I went out and did what seems to have become a regular weekend exursion: an out and back up Sulphur Mountain. It seems to be the default place for me to go when it's cold because it is inevitable that you are going to generate heat when you go up for 7km and gain 900m of elevation! And hey, all of my friends love it because it is so pretty. Unfortunately, I didn't have my photo mojo working, but I did snap a few photos. The cold had settled into the valley and it was clear, cold and sunny up top!We both got c-c-c-cold on the way down and we had to work hard to re-heat our frozen toes and hands. Aaaaaaah - winter, sigh.

Mmmm, warm sunbeam!

Iris and I hit the hot tub when we got home and just when I was about to settle into my comfy clothes in front of the fireplace, Ms. Holly arrived. And she wanted to run. We headed up Tunnel Mountain for a quick sunset run, which yielded this great photo:

We stayed in and hibernated, cooked some dinner, drank some wine and played some Scrabble. I need to get myself a Scrabble dictionary so I can learn all those quirky little words that start with "Q" and "X". Iris had NEVER played Scrabble before!! Next time, I suspect she will slay me with words like "Xanadu" and "Quip"...

On Saturday, we awoke to temperatures of -31c, so we chilled out and relaxed in the kitchen for a few hours drinking too much coffee and waiting for the temperatures to rise. We decided to go for a snowshoe up on Stoney Squaw, in the Mount Norquay area where would be more protected in the forest. Keith, Holly, Stu and Anna joined in for the fun and it wasn't nearly as cold as we had anticipated! It was fun. Don't I look like I am having fun?!?

On the way back down to town, we stopped at the Mount Norquay Viewpoint, put on our down puffy coats and had a tea party. It turned out to be a nice outing and a lovely day with the friends! Thanks for a great weekend ladies!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

....and now for something completely diffferent....

Welcome to today's long run!! Yes, it's a loooong and windy road. For those of you who know me, you know that I seldom venture onto the road. Think - NEVER. But in winter, sometimes a girl has got to do, what a girl has got to do.....

In winter, there seems to be a lot of repetition in the places that I can run! So sometimes, you need to mix it up a little. Today, I skipped a day of ski touring and instead caught a lift with my hubby and the ski crew, out to Johnson Canyon. I got to do two things I never do: go for a run in the canyon and run the 25km road back home.
See? A completely different change of scenery! This place is the busiest trail in the whole national park in summer and probably in winter, too. It's because people like waterfalls. Hey, I like waterfalls but you still won't catch me anywhere near this trail in summer! In winter, it is much calmer and I had an early start. It was frickin' cold and it took me a long time to warm up. My poor little foot that got frost bite a few weeks back, now seems to be cold all of the time. There was a handfull of people on the trail and a few ice climbers had an early start.

After my 6km warm up, I hit the secondary highway for the 25km back to Banff. I dusted off my IPod (first time I have used it on a run since last winter) and enjoyed my first road run in about 5 months!

Getting started....

The tunes were awesome, I had the road to myself and this put a smile on my face! Ha! To round up a great weekend, tonight we are going for ALL-U-CAN-EAT SUSHI!! Mmmmmm......can't wait.