Sunday, March 29, 2009

Perfect "sunny" Timing + decisions decisions

I couldn't have asked or woken up to a more beautiful day. Yesterday and most of the week (and next week) had been raining. Of course, the day I am running 4 hours, the weather gods deliver amazing temps and THE SUN! Although it wasn't quite warm enough for me to bust out shorts, I know it is only a matter of days until the switch happens for good. There's a reason the weather network is my home page on my lap top. Purely so I can know what to wear when I go running.

Adam, Peter and I all met in Deep Cove at 7am and shuttled over to Ambleside. Adam had the sweetest bright blue turbo van covered in Z95.3 stickers and it still had a cassette player. I loved it. We headed up the Cap Pacific Trail and ran in and around Capilano Damn. Peter was trying out some new trails to see what would work well for The Summer Solstice Trail Marathon in June. We ran into a lot of people we knew today. Jurgen was out in fine form with his bro Monty. After a short jog up Nancy Green Way we headed along Baden Powell and after a short/long skip and a jump we were in Deep Cove. I love finishing runs in Panorama Park. It's just so crazy beautiful. Not to mention, I had one of the best treats I have had in a while- a Honeys Donut- just what the doctor ordered.

Ever since we were in Joshua Tree a week and a half ago I have had this interesting soft nag in my hip. I have been so fortunate ever since I started running and have had no injuries. Maybe that is because I take 2 days off a week and take it easy after hard races to let my body recover. Way Too Cool was a hard effort for me and I think my body maybe needed more time to recover. With Miwok being only 6 weeks away at the time, I felt the need to keep training. My body felt really good until I volunteered to get my Lactate Balance Point tested (4 days later) for this certification we were getting down in Joshua Tree. The test wasn't very long and it required me to run easy, moderate and then hard, hard enough to accumulate lactate (HR 180 bpm). Then I went back to running easy and every 3-4 minutes or so I'd run about 5 beats faster until I reached 175 bpm (and started to accumulate Lactate again) where they held me for 3-4 minutes. That night and since that day my hip has been reminding me that it's not quite right. Now, normally that test wouldnt bother me, but perhaps I didn't warm up enough and it was a bit to soon after my race Needless to say, it's been a week and a half now and some days it's hardly noticeable and some days (like today) it is very noticeable. I was hoping it would just go away but I guess that was wishful thinking. Lets see how it responds to some massage/ART and a few days of biking. Even with a little pain today I am left in good spirits. That's what a little sunshine and kicking my boyfriends ass at Backgammon will do to you.

I have 3 more days until I have to make up my mind about going to Belgium with the Canadian 100km World Cup Team. I am a little worried about finances as there is no financing. With travel, food, and accomodation, it won't be cheap. Most people are telling me that I am crazy not to go. They are also very supportive in coming up with ideas to help me raise money. I am stuck in a dilemma (see next paragraph)!

I have had this one goal for the entire season- to qualify for western states 100miler. I wake up everyday thinking about it. I get out there and train for it 5 days week. It is full but you can still qualify by finishing in the top 3 at any Montrail Cup event. I had signed up for 2 of them: Way Too Cool 50km (I just completed that 2 weeks ago and came 4th by 2 minutes!!!!) and Miwok 100km May 2nd. My worry is, if I sign up to go to Belgium, I can't to Western States as it is 8 days after the 100km world cup event (and I'll be broke from going to Belgium). Of course, there is a chance I wont finish in the top 3 and then it will be a lose lose situation. So, do I abandon my original goal of going to Miwok and giving it my all in hopes to qualify for Western States or do I go with the sure thing, which I am sure will be one amazing experience? Some people might say it's a no brainer, but I'm still stuck.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I RIGHT NOW, HAVE THIS PERMA SMILE ON MY FACE!!!! There are certain things in life that just fill your heart with joy (o.k that sounded corny). Let's re-phrase: There are certain things in life that just make you want to run up and down the street yelling WOOOO HOOOOO at the top of your lungs!!!! This is one of them.

I received a facebook message this morning from Wendy Montgomery. She told me I was selected as an alternate to represent Canada in the 100km World Championships in Belgium, June 19th and that they needed my e-mail address. I have a Personal Training Certification exam tonight and I kind of went back to studying and momentarily put it out of my head. When I came home for lunch and checked my e-mail, there it was! Before I even checked out the team list (because I thought I was an alternate) I had forwarded the e-mail to my boyfriend. I spent the next few minutes checking out the details of the race, funding (or lack of), travel, accomodations etc. Then I got a call back from Peter saying that I wasn't chosen as an alternate and that I WAS ON THE TEAM!!!! My smile went from big, to REALLY BIG!

I also realized that Belgium is right next to Holland, a place I have wanted to go back to since I was there in August of 2006 (only for 5 days). I'll spend more time looking into it when I get home tonight but for now I must focus and continue studying for my exam that is in 5 hours! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers

Peter sent me this great email today (see below picture)- it rings very true. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the little things that don't matter in life. While sitting down with the legendary Clyde Mcray discussing his record breaking walk across Canada, which he acheived back in the 70's, he told me this-

"Don't sweat the small stuff and everythings the small stuff"

Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers...

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.

The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.. 'Now,' said the professor as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else---the small stuff.

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.'

The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented.

The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked.' The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Joshua Tree pics

The day after the race we headed south towards Joshua Tree National Monument. Peter's been here 4 times already, this to be his 5th. Driving into the park was something else. The scenery was spectacular! Joshua tree's are such funky looking things and there are soooo many crazy rocks. I couldn't wait for Pete to take me rope climbing. The first day we went for a fun scramble in the boulders. Pete also got up to some bouldering later on.

The next day we went to a FaCT level 1 coaching certification course. To sum it up quickly, we were getting certified as Lactate Balance Point testers. This is where you perform a step-test, ideally running on a treadmill or hooking your bike up to a Tyax machine. We naturally produce Lactate and as you increase the intensity of your exercise, lactate levels rise. At low-moderate intensities your body is capable of buffering lactate as fast as it is producing it. At some point, the intensity gets to high, and your body can't buffer the lactate as fast as it is producing it and lactate accumulation occurs. Our goal is to determine the Heart Rate where the switch in Lactate balance occurs.

I had this test done a few years back and have been heart rate training ever since. The only thing I didn't realize is that, I should have been re-testing it frequently (every 6-8 wks) to see if my performance is improving. This test allows you to measure whether or not your training is making you better or worse and which system you need to improve. I know that my times in certain races are getting better but is that because I am young and I had lots of room to improve? Is it the long slow distance runs that make me better, or the hill and speed workouts? Are hills my weakness because I need a stronger heart? or is my respiratory system the problem? You can manipulate all these variables in training, re-test yourself, and monitor performance. Now that I am certified, I am excited to use myself as a guinea pig as well as help others around me.

We spent the next few days after the cert, climbing, hiking, and running. It was hot! A real nice change from the snow in North Vancouver.

Here is a pic of Pete repelling down a climb we did. He went to the top and I, well, I made it half way!

This is how I spent the trip, when playing wasn't an option:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Road Trip & Way Too Cool 50km Race Report

I'm finally home! Peter literally drove for 24 hours with only 4 hours of sleep. I am one of those suckers who still hasn't learned to drive standard, so he does all the driving. Don't worry Pete, it's on the to do list!

We left on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 11th. I was super excited to be back on the road. We drove by many of the beautiful places we had visited last September. Castle Craig's stands out the most (see pic above). That day we had checked out Rogue Runners, Hal Koerner's running shop in Ashland Oregon. All the young gun male ultra runners work there and Kyle Skaggs and Anton Krupicka happened to be working when we came in. I asked Kyle a few questions about the Way Took Cool 50km course as he had placed 2nd overall there last year. We had arranged to stay with Chris Winter who runs track for the Ducks in Eugene Oregon, but Pete was getting tired so we called it a night. We spent the night in the 'hole 6'(Motel 6) in Oregon.

We arrived at the hole 6 in Auburn California the next evening @ around 8pm. This one was much nicer than the last one and was just like a hotel (even had a pool and hot tub). It was very affordable at $58 a night for 2 double beds. We made dinner that night (pesto pasta salad) on Peter's Coleman stove inside our hotel room with the window wide open. I am sure it's frowned upon by hotel staff but when your on a budget and need to cook your own food, why not create your own kitchen. The following day we went to pick up our race packages from the Auburn Running Company. It is an awesome running store and it clearly has huge community involvement. A lot of people were wearing Auburn Running Company shirts/tanks on race day. The race package was sweet. Talk about getting your bang for your buck. We got hooked up with 2 Patagonia shirts (one long and one short sleeved), a pair of Moeben fleece arm warmers, and a coffee mug. I have pretty much lived in the 2 shirts ever since.

We went for a 25 minute run on the course just to check it out. From what I saw, it was extremely runnable, non-technical single track. We ran from where the race starts and the guys were there setting up everything, which got me pretty excited. After that, we pretty much just walked around and checked out Old Auburn Town. We ended up in this Art Gallery and Peter and I fell in love with this one small and extremely colorful painting, which he later purchased. The artist happened to be there because they were having a showing and we chatted with her at length. That night we got our race stuff ready and made a healthy chicken veggie stir-fry on our Coleman stove. My nerves were just on high. I don't think I have ever been so nervous in my life.

Morning of, we got up at 6am, did our biz, ate breakfast and were off to the start. We pumped some Eminem in the car and for the rest of the morning/race I was singing "shake that ass for me" in my head. We did a little warm-up and lined up at the start. I knew I wanted to do well and with the competition being so good, I knew I had to come out strong. I am not one to go crazy off the line but once that gun went off it was go time. The first 2 miles were downhill along a road (sub 7min/miles)and the pack was moving fast and my heart rate was letting me know. I felt good and I attributed my high heart rate to nervousness and excitement. The top 4 women were just ahead of me and I ran and chatted briefly with a woman named Helen Cospolich. Once we got into the trail, Helen, myself and another lady named Meghan Arbogast were swapping positions based on terrain. They'd pass me on the hills and I'd pass on the downhills. My heart rate was still quite high and I remember seeing 180 bpm going up some hill. I was already thinking that maybe I went out to fast but then I thought that, to be competitive, maybe that's what it takes. The views were amazing. You literally run on single track for hours along some of the Western States 100 course. After the first 50 minutes, I was running behind Meghan and she was keeping a great pace. I passed her on the downhill and kept her out of my site along the single track until we came to the first uphill. She lead the rest of the way after that.

At around the 2 hour mark, I was thinking, "Holy sh$t", my HR is 173, I'm pushing pretty hard, well really hard, and there is still over 2 hours to go! All of a sudden 6th place didn't seem so bad. Top 3 was clearly out of my reach and I was just going to enjoy the day. I had thoughts of holding back and waiting for Peter to come run by and we could run together. But I just kept shutting that little voice inside my head out and kept up my pace and decided to run like this for as long as my body would allow. In ultra running, your body and mind ebb and flow. You honestly could feel so shitty one moment, and then great and amazing the next. Your mind will tell you to stop. Your body will ask you why are you pushing me so hard? You will then contemplate why the hell you do this to yourself. Then you shut it out, keep running, and you find the answer at the finish.

You end up coming back along the same trail you head out on and I was excited to start my return back. You get to cheer on and say hello to other runners that are still coming in the opposite direction. I kept a pretty consistent pace here and Megan was nowhere in sight. I was pretty much on my own and managed to pass a few guys along the way. With maybe 7 miles to go I spotted Devon Crosby-Helms. She is a wicked fast runner and kicked my ass at Chuckanut last year by 20 minutes. She was well ahead of me from the beginning and I was really surprised to see her there. I asked her how she was doing and turns out she had been working 14 hours days for weeks prior to the race. She still finished with an awesome time, considering it all. That definitely gave me a boost and I continued to run as best as I could. Coming up to the 2 mile marker, I ran into Megan. She was having a hard time holding pace and she cheered me on. I was stoked, I might pull off 4th place hear. I have done 3 races in the U.S so far and I have come 4th in all 3!!! I tried to run hard at the end, checking over my shoulder every so often so see if Megan was racing up behind me. Seeing the finish line was sooooooo exciting and I sprinted on in with the clock reading 4:21. I was stoked! That was a great time considering the course was 1.8 miles longer than last year. Turns out I was only 2 minutes off of 3rd place (Joelle Vaught), 4 minutes off of second place (Bev Anderson-Abbs) and 9 min off 1st (Caitlin Smith). The whole last hour of the race I just imagined how nice it will feel to lie down on the grass once I'm done. But, all the ladies were just over the finish line chatting so I joined in. It was nice to meet them all and hear about their race experience. My legs were starting to seize up standing there so I decided to dart off an get my Endurox recovery drink from the car. With recovery drinks, you really only have a 15-30 minute window to replenish the glycogen in your muscles post exercise. I had to act fast, so I hitch hiked back to our car, which at my slow moving pace would have taken me 15 minutes to walk there. I downed the drink and hitch hiked my way back to the start, just in time to watch Peter some in. He did so good crossing the line in 4:59, and looked awesome coming across the finish in his new North Shore Athletics Jersey.

I always sit back and reflect on what I could have done differently and how can I improve on my next race. I went out hard, held on, and finished strong. I do think that if I held back a bit at the start that maybe I could have been able to keep up a more consistent pace throughout the entire race. Instead, my heart rate was super high to start, settled in a little bit and slowly kept going down as the race went on. Ideally, I'd like to to stay similiar throughout because that means I'm able to maintain my pace. Every race is a learning experience. I have to constantly remind myself that I am 24 years old and just a baby in terms of running. I have so many years to grow and get better. I tend to be a little impatient and want to be the best runner right now.

To sum it up- an amazing and well organized race. The food after wards was great and the massage therapy they provided was unreal. My quads were hurting for a few days.
That night Peter and I went to the Auburn house Brewery and had ourselves a delicious and refreshing pint that they brew there. I was unable to really sleep that night because I couldn't stop thinking about the race. I wish I had my computor so I could have written this while it was all still fresh in my head. The next day we drove to Joshua Tree for a certification course and some relaxation. I'll write all about it in my next blog.

Brooks Epiphany shorts
Brooks Cascadia's
Hot Pink Dirty Girl Gaiters
Gu Gels

See you in the trails!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Good Luck DD Runner's

This Saturday will be the 10th Anniversary (sort of) of the Dirty Duo race .

It all began in 1999 (wow that seems like a long time ago) when 4 runners set out to participate in MFRR (Mike's fun run race). There were 3 runner's doing the 27km run and 2 (including Mike Wardas) running 57km. In 2000, the MFRR grew to a whopping 16 participants and out of that, 3 of them were doing the Ultra. In 2001, the Dirty Duo was born! 10 did the solo (bike/run), 42 did the 25km run, 19 did the 30km bike, and 19 did the 50km ultra. That year they had a total of 90 participants and today there are well over 200.

Mike Wardas gave up his race directing days and sold the race to Heather Macdonald and she has done such a fantastic job. She has her own company called Mountain Madness and through this she puts on a number of trail running clinics and races. The clinics are an amazing and fun way to get familiar with the trails and meet like-minded people. I have been a volunteer now for the last 2 years and I have met a lot of unique and inspiring people from all walks of life. For many of them, it is their first race and its a pleasure leading them towards their goal every Saturday. The picture below is the lovely Heather "H-Mac" Macdonald.

Peter and I volunteered at the North Shore Athletics aid station last year (and we will be this year), which is located at the junction of Twin Bridges and Fisherman's. It's a great spot because we get to see all of the racers, some of them twice. It's especially great for the biker's who have to ride up twin bridges to Lilloet Road. After the they come off the bridge, they climb all the way up Twin Bridges. The first hill is steep and if a rider stopped at our aid station for fuel, they seemed to struggle gaining any sort of momentum to get up the hill. Last year Pete did such an awesome job at grabbing hold of rider's seats and throwing them up the hill.His strategy was to grab on, run and push, while riders peddled as hard as they could and they seemed to fly up that hill with ease. He got a lot of thanks for that effort.

In a lot of longer races, 50 mile-100 mile trail races especially, you see themed aid stations. They are always a blast running into and they always seem to brighten my spirits. Many of the volunteers at these aid stations have been doing them for years. They get their friends out for an all day affair and have a blast. This year Peter and I have decided attempt this ourselves. I had a thought, if I was a runner/biker in a race where the air was still cold and snow was still on the ground, what kind of aid station would I want to run into. A light bulb went off in my head and an idea was created. It will have to remain a secret and any racers out there will have to wait for Saturday to see what it is we came up with. BUT I AM EXCITED!!! I do love themes, especially anything that involves spandex and bright colors. However, I was shut down on that idea and we went with idea #2, sorry guys. The hot pink spandex will have to wait for the Hallow's eve trail race.

GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE and I look forward to seeing you all out there. The Mountain Madness crew are going to rock it considering all their training was in the snow. It should be an epic year, and to anyone who complains about the weather, all I have to say to that is...SUCK IT UP BUTTER CUP!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Let the games begin and the TAPER!!

Last week, was my biggest training week of the season, and thank goodness for 'down weeks', I don't know what I would do without you! The taper begins for Way Too Cool. It is exactly 12 days away and I am getting pretty excited. I have spent some time dorking out on the internet, looking at my field of competition, and figuring out what it is I need to do to pull off a top 3 female finish. So far I have concluded that I am going to have to run the perfect race. The field is strong, fast, and most importantly- experienced. I do enjoy being the under-dog.

Yesterday, peter, Jurgen and I ran out at Sasamat/buntzen lake and Diez Vista area. The trails out there are stunning, runnable, and fun. It is a nice change from the North Shore mountains. The views of Indian Arm from high up on the ridge were breath taking. I left my camera in the car thinking that it would be too foggy up high, but I was wrong, so the picturesque view shots will have to wait. Pete and I ran 5.5 hours. I felt really strong throughout the entire run, especially the end. I feel that I have done a good mini-peak and the next 2 weeks will be maintenance miles to keep the legs fresh.

I had a 2 hour massage today (my aunt is the best massage therapist in the world). It was painful and it took all of my strength not to cry! When I quit my job In December, I left a wonderful world of medical benefits behind. I have not been receiving the weekly massages I was getting used to. I can definitely notice a difference and will be going more consistently from now on. I truly beleive it is the one thing that keeps me injury free. I always feel like I have a brand new body after massage and I get all the power back in my legs. I have struggled using the foam roller. There is something about self inflicted pain I don't do well, but I can tolerate pain that is inflicted on me (by a massage therapist). At least I know that the pain I may feel during the race won't feel any worse than my massage!

The week of training looked something like this:

Monday- FREEDOM (off day)!!
Tuesday- AM: 25 min run/ 1 hour strength session
PM: 6 x hill repeats + tempo back to start= 1:17
Wednesday: 2 hour trail run
Thursday: 1 hour Strength + run/walk home
Friday: AM: 1 hour road run/ PM: 1 hour trail run
Saturday: 1 hour trail run
Sunday: 5.5 hour trail run

See you in the trails!