Wednesday, December 30, 2009

been so long...

I will start this blog off by saying that I have not skied for a total of 13 years. That to me sounds like an awfully long time. In that amount of time, a child was born, become a teenager, and is starting their first year in high school!

I skied incredible amounts up until grade 7. That was right around the time when skiing was not considered 'cool' anymore and I learned how to snowboard. I enjoyed snowboarding but was nowhere near as adventurous as I was on skis. Eventually, I just stopped going up the mountain all together. I don't think I have snowboarded in 4 years.

Peter's mom and dad invited us up to Blackcomb on Monday along with Pete's sister, husband, and 2 rock star skiing children (5 and 7 years old). I was able to borrow some downhill gear from someone and and was off to the races. I was really excited and nervous that I would totally forget how to ski and fall flat on my face.

To my surprise, I pretty much got the hang of it immediately after stepping off the very first chair lift. I was shocked and horrified by how well I was (or thought) I was doing. I managed not to fall once! I also remember being pretty cold most of the time while I boarded but I was able to keep quite warm. It was also a spectacular day without a cloud in the sky. I am super stoked to have found skiing again and can't wait until I can afford to get me a set of my own!!! Bring on the fun!

Peter and I are heading up to Seattle tomorrow morning. We are going to see a concert at the Moore Theater and through a hook up we were able to get a room at the Fairmont. The Fairmont is a far stretch from our usual Motel 6, so I am excited. We are going to see the band Cake. I don't know if anyone remembers them but they had that hit "I want a girl with a short skirt and a loooooooooooooooooooong jacket". Before I started dating Peter I had never heard any of their other music. He has a bunch of their CD's and they have some pretty awesome stuff. We always listen to it on road trips. Here is a song that is a kick ass running song for your IPODS.

New Years Day will see all of us Gildersleeves together for our annual Polar Bear Swim and bonfire on the beach! I can't wait...

See you in the trails!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas and beyond

Powell River was a great time but the festivities were far from over! We celebrated Christmas in P.R on the evening of the 23rd. We had a fabulous dinner followed by an evening of gift unwrapping. It really was a treat getting to spend 4 nights with my Mom and Jim.

We departed on the 24th and with a hop, skip, and 2 ferry rides later we were back in North Vancouver. I managed to get an hour run in and quickly and then we darted off to Peter's sisters house. They have a Christmas Eve tradition that involves eating Lobster! I watched Peter (from a distance) grab the live suckers as they struggled to resist being taken into the dark abyss of the boiling pot of water. Fifteen minutes later, we were digging in and enjoying a delicious supper. That was followed by a trip over to my Uncle John's for drinks and a little balderdash. The best word of the night was Flibbertigibbet...anyone know that one?

The next morning Peter and I managed to sleep in. Well, technically it wasn't a sleep in at all because of how late we went to bed but normally 9:30am would be a sleep in. Normally we would cook up something special but because we were away and had no time to shop, we settled for toast and yogurt. We had a great time opening gifts. I was spoiled once again and I now have a lifetime supply of running gloves!

Christmas day was a gloriously sunny day and there was no better way to spend it than hiking with Peter and my Dad. We decided to hike up grouse to the top of Dam Mountain. The view was magical and it was amazingly warm. Perfect.

Peter and I came home and wrapped gifts for all his family and then went over to his sisters house again for dinner. His nieces and nephews all looked so good in their Christmas formal outfits. Another great evening with great people. I tried my first bite of Christmas pudding! Conclusion: not too shabby. It was over to my Aunt Julie's for desert and Gilder Games. This year we ended up playing a new game called Catch Phrase. It was pretty hysterical as we all got quite into it. We left around 1pm and watched the second to last episode of the first season of Dexter. We only have the season finale to go and I am dying in suspense. I can't remember the last time I stayed up so late so many nights in a row. I'm always dead tired at 8:30pm and if I ride it out to about 10pm I always manage to get a second wind.

Today, I went for my longest run since MMTR50. It was 20km and took about an hour and 50 minutes. I felt no pain, which makes me one extremely happy girl!

Alright, I am off, time to clean the house and go by some food! Sorry for the lack of pictures, my camera is dead and I need to charge the batteries.

See you in the trails.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Delicious Apple Muffins

The last time I was in Powell River I made the best blueberry muffins. I found the recipe in one of my dad's cooking magazines. I searched high and low through all of them but I came up short. However, I was found myself still longing to bake something warm and delicious. Where do you go when you want something you know will taste good...the food network website (well that is where I go!). If you are interested in the recipe for Apple Muffins , just click away!

Today, I also managed to get out for a 30 minute tempo run. I don't know exactly how it turned into one but Peter and I just started and the pace soon quickened. I decided that since the run was going to be a shorter one, I would forgo the walk portion of the walk/run. The ITB felt great!

Alright, back to Dexter!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Powell River Adventures

It wouldnt be an annual Christmas trip to Powell River without some kind of excitement and adventure.

Peter and I picked my brother up in Lions Bay just before 1pm on Sunday afternoon. We boarded the 1:20 ferry to Langdale. It was raining, and we only visited the top deck breifly, to feel adventerous. We had checked the ferry schedule and knew that we had to get to the next Ferry for a 3:20 sailing. We loaded off the Langdale ferry at 2:15pm, which gave us a scant hour and 5 minutes to catch the next one.

Unfortunetly but not surprisingly, we got stuck behind ferry traffic, even after taking the 'short cut'. We finally entered a passing lane and went by a few cars, until the road went back into single lane traffic with no opportunity to pass. We were stuck behind 2 cars who were barely holding the limit. We were all clearly headed to the ferry and we knew that at the speed the lead car was driving, no one was going to make it.

We arrived there exactly at 3:20 with a small line of cars. Hmm...we thought, maybe the ferry was late. We asked the ferry traffic controller what time the ferry was at and he said "4:25". We had been looking at the wrong ferry schedule, mistaking the powell river ferry from Saltry Bay for Earls Cove on the Sunshine Coast side. We felt pretty stupid, not only for our mistake but for all the cursing of the vehicles we had in front of us!

That night we settled in for a lovely Roast my step dad, Jim, had cooked up. It felt great to be back here.

The next day Peter and I went for our traditional run around Inland Lake. We felt as though we were running through the lake because the whole thing was like a giant puddle. Once we embraced it however, it became quite the playful adventure. Running, yelling and screaming through puddles. I have been instructed by Jennifer Keefer, my Physiotherapist at Village Physio, to get back into running through a walk run program (5 min run, 30 sec walk). It took me a while to embrace it, but now I actually look forward to that 30 second walk break. Hey, I'll enjoy it while I can! We finished the 13km in the same time as last year, so the walk breaks can't be such a bad thing.

That afternoon found us in relaxation mode, watching the first season (disc 1) of Dexter on DVD. Gary and Tamsin haven't stopped talking about this show since they first rented the DVD's and Peter and I thought this 4 day vacation would be the perfect opportunity to give it a go. I must say, it is a pretty awesome show. We have only watched the first Disc and there are 3 more to go (12 more episodes)!!!

We made Fajitas over at my Mom's house and retired for the evening watching another episode of Dexter. Jim showed Peter a map of the Powell River trail system last night. He studied it well and found a great run for us to do only a short drive from our house.

The next morning we headed off and drove up a logging road and parked right infront of the trail head. It was clear that it had lightly snowed the night before as there were snow dustings on the trees. It was beautiful. The trails were magnificant and ever so plush. It was like running on pillows. We passed by a few smaller lakes and one that was simply stunning. This one had a narrow wooden ramp leading you to a dock that was perched up from te water. I wished then that I had brought my camera to have shown you all, but for now, it will remain an intmate image in my brain. This run was just under an hour and a half, my longest one to date since MMTR50!

It's funny, it was only 6 or 7 weeks ago that I ran a 50 miler that took me over 8 and a half hours to complete. Now, an hour and a half seems long! The beginning of the season always feels this way.

We have fresh clams and oysters (cooked, not raw)on the menu tonight, which we hand picked ourselves off the beach in Okeover at 11:30 pm on Sunday night! That's right, Peter, myself, my brother and step-dad, put on our rain gear, grabbed the shovels and buckets, and went 'clamming'. Peter's new Petzl headlamp guided the way that night. If you are not careful, you might mistake it as a motor vehicles high beams, it's that powerful.

Alright, time to go finish some last minute shopping, while the boys are out golfing. Golfing in December, who knew? Last year, everything was covered in snow. Gotta love the weather gods!

See you in the trails!!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Back....again....did I say that already?

I hope I am not speaking to soon when I say that I AM BACK BABY!!!!!!

....and it feels sooooo good!

My boyfriend Peter just walked over and laughed at me because apparently I have written about being "back" a million times. He made me scroll back through and I called bullshit, and saw nothing. The only thing I said I was "back" about was coming back to training after taking 2 weeks off after Mountain Masochist.

So, with that said, I will continue...

I ran Tuesday for 40 minutes pain free....woohoo, Wednesday 35 min pain free, and today for 55 pain free. I should probably take a day off running but man it just feels so dam good. And the best part, Peter and I have been going in the dark w/ our headlamps (it gets dark at 4:30pm). It feels like we are all alone in our forest trails but there have been a couple other headlamp flashing runners.

Anywho, I am heading to Powell River to visit the parents on Sunday until Thursday. Powell River is a great place with a wide variety of places to run. We usually run around Inland Lake which is 13km around and dead flat. Last year it was covered in snow which made for a fun time. BC Bike race is heading over there next year for one of their stages. Apparently they have amazing mountain bike trails that I have never seen or heard of. Looks like we have some exploring to do because wherever there are mountain bike trails, there are killer running trails.

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all enjoy time with family and friends, good food, and a whole lot of running (with all that extra time)!

See you in the trails!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dutch Christmas...

I am very proud to be Dutch. When I was a little girl, I used to tell everyone that I was. Then I realized I was only half Dutch, until I found out I was really only 1/4 Dutch. In the end, I guess I am not that Dutch...

I have been celebrating Dutch Christmas for over 25 years! Every year my Gildersleeve family comes together for one monstrous day of fun, good food, and a lot of laughs. I have 7 aunts and uncles, 18 cousins, and lot's of significant others. My uncle John and his beautiful wife Carolynn always host the party and I am blown away every time. The food is to die for, tex mex fritatta, stratta, proscuitto wrapped poached eggs, land of knods, delicious chutneys and cheeses, fruit platters, salads, ceciles, brakka, and it wouldn't be a Gildersleeve event without uncles Mike's famous brownies.

How do we stay so fit after eating all these glorious goodies, with the Gilder Games of course. I come from a very athletic (and tall) family and my uncle rented out the Sutherland High School Gymnasium for us to run around in. Volleyball was the game of choice today and with my brother as well as 5 uncles/cousins being over 6'4, I was a little nervous. In the end, it was a lot of fun and we even managed to get in 2 great games of Basketball.

As some of you know I played basketball for Capilano College. I consider myself retired as I haven't played in over 3 years but it felt great to shoot the ball again. My shot came back effortlessly and I was knocking down 3's like it was nobody's business. AND...My ITB didn't hurt at all after all the running/sprinting!!!

My Oma used to write the Christmas Letter from Sinter Claus and Black Peter. She died a few years ago now and my brother and cousin Jordan have picked up where she left off. This letter is a rhymed poem and each family member gets mentioned in regards to what they have been up to over the year. It's creative and fun and I always look forward to hearing it.

Ping pong is a large tradition in this family. My Opa and Oma had a ping pong table in their apartment and as kids we would always end up playing it for hours. My brother has since acquired a table and he brought it all the way over from Lions Bay in the back of his truck. They set it up in the back yard and it was played all day long. However, the only pong I played last night was Beer Pong in - (minus) degree weather.

I was ready to brave the elements, decked out in a toque, gloves, scarf, and down jacket. It was a blast and with frost on the table, my cousins invented beer curling. You can even use the paddle as a broom!!! HURRY HARD!!!!

Anywho, thanks again John and Carolynn for once again hosting such a wonderful day of fun. I'll be posting pictures soon. I have a bad habit of not bringing a camera wherever I go!!!

See you in the trails!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Never fear, FAT DOG 100 is here.

The Western States lottery has come and gone...

If you were one of the million runner's to apply and were not selected, consider yourself lucky! Now you can attempt the most spectacular 100 mile event in Canada!

FAT DOG 100 mile, 100km, and relay. Put this race on your calender for 2010. It's going to be epic, trust me, I have run much of the course. If I wasn't doing Western States myself I would have done it 100%.

I will be there volunteering at the best aid station known to man. It will be a 24 hour dance party and I promise the station will lift you up and brighten up your spirits no matter what state you are in!

Hope to see you there!!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

ITB syndrome...WHAT!

The last few weeks have proven to be a little difficult in a good way and bad way.

BAD: I have been suffering from a bit of IT Band syndrome ever since Mountain Masochist. What went from a fun 2 weeks break from running, has turned into a month...sort of.

I had been seeking treatment from Dr. Paul Wiggins and Dr. Jenn Turner and they were making my IT feel amazing after every session. Then of course like anyone else would, I tried running the next day. The run always felt wonderful except for maybe the last 5 minutes, where I could only slightly feel an inkling of what could be discomfort. Not enough to keep me from running the next day! Of course, that next run always felt like crap and I'd end up turning around after 20 minutes. So, I would go back to get treatment and then again, the next days run felt awesome, but the run following that one would not.

It took me a couple weeks to realize that this cycle of treatment, run, treatment was not going to work. Seeing as how I have no real racing goals until February, I have convinced myself not to run until it is better. I have spent the last week or so, hiking, yoga, strength training and snowshoeing. I am not to sure if hiking is any better for the old ITB but it honestly keeps me sane. So, I ask myself sometimes, would it be better to just swim and bike indoors and go insane, or keep my sanity and enjoy the great outdoors? The weather has been crazy beautiful and all I want to do is go play in it, and play I have. Yes, the first choice would probably heel my injury quicker, but the latter brings my life so much satisfaction.

This week I am trying to bite the bullet (since last week I had a bit more fun). I will roll on my foam roller frivolously and get as much ART as possible. I have dedicated 2 hours of biking tonight while I watch the biggest Loser Finale!!! O, I am such a dork!

See you in the trails...walking for now, but running soon I hope!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Back to my grass roots!

This morning I had the pleasure of speaking in front of the North Shore Athletics half/full marathon run clinic on Lactate Testing. Even though I had laid out what I was going to say the night before, I was truly nervous. There are about 200 people in the clinic but I don't think they were all here today. Before I was introduced to speak, my heart was actually racing in my chest, and I didn't know how I was going to talk slowly when my heart was beating a mile a minute.

Days prior I had started thinking about what I was going to say. I clearly took this very seriously! I even laid in bed wide awake one night because I couldnt stop thinking about what I was going to say.

I started to get a little emotional thinking about my own journey with North Shore Athletics (NSA). In November 2004, I started training for my first marathon, The Vancouver marathon in 05'. It was only 5 years ago that I was in the position of all the people who were watching me today. My life changed the minute I started training for that marathon. For the first time in my life I had a really big goal and nothing was going to stop me. My life revolved around this goal. I was working at a restaurant at the time and I purposely worked on weekends so that I wouldn't go out partying and was fresh and ready for my Sunday long runs. I had been a poor student (not motivated, played sports) all through high school and in my first year at College. It just so happened that while I was training for the marathon, my grades started to improve. All of a sudden I learned about time management. I learned about setting priorities. I spent my time, studying, working and training for the race. I also had developed loads of confidence. My life took an upward spiral and I felt on top of the world. I have never looked back.

It's hard to beleive that in 5 years I have not only finished a marathon, I have completed 5 marathons, 7 x 50km's, 3 x 50 milers, and one 100km. Not to mention the countless 25km and half marathons over the years. That first year, veteran clinic members kept telling me I was going to get addicted, and I utterly and completely did! The crazy thing is, I can roll into NSA any Tuesday/Thursday night or Sunday morning for run club and I can always find a familiar face in the crowd because the same people keep coming back year after year. North Shore Athletics has created an amazing family of runners and I am very proud to be apart of that community.

I am stoked to be working with the clinic members and I honestly think they will all benefit from getting tested. Nothing is better than knowing how your own body works because we are all so unique. You are leaving everything up to chance when you use an equation to estimate your training zones. This test takes out all the guess work! I have been training off HR for years now and I rarely run or race without my HR monitor.

If anyone is interested in Lactate Testing or has any questions, please feel free to contact me. Email:

See you in the trails!!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A perfect rainy Saturday

This morning a girlfriend of mine, Darlana, and I went on a glorious, rainy, and snowy hike up the BCMC. We used to play basketball together in College and it had been ages since we had seen each other. She is from Victoria but is going to UBC to get her teaching degree. She will make one amazing French Immersion teacher.

She had warned me that she is 'slow' and that she may 'hold me back'. I kind of laughed because every time I try and get someone to come do something active with me, they laugh out loud stating that they will 'slow me down', amongst other things. I then proceed to express that I would never invite someone to come adventuring with me and then leave them in the dust. Sometimes, I just want to hang out with a friend whilst doing some physical, instead of just chatting over coffee (which is also great to) or going solo. I like showing people from out of town our local mountains and the quick hikes we have at our disposal. I also wanted to get up in the snow and bask in the glory of the winter wonderland we have up high.

She was having a hard time at the start and yes the pace was slower than mine. BUT, I am in a recovery phase of my training and I could care less if I was walking a mile an hour or moving quickly. Today was all about just getting out and being in nature. It was about taking someone somewhere they had never been. She was feeling a bit dizzy and was stopping every few minutes. I told her to 'keep moving forward' just like I would say to myself in an ultra. After a while, she felt better and recognized that when she stopped less, she felt better. Hitting the snow line seemed to help as well!

We got to the top, smiles on our faces, wet and happy. We got some hot tea and made our way back down the gondola back to the car. It was a fantastic way to spend the rainy day. Thanks D!!!

See you in the trails!!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Inspired by the Average Joe

I know I have said it before and I'll say it again...I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MY JOB!!!

I am a personal trainer and run coach. I work with all types of people of varying fitness levels. I love being able to work with people and push them beyond their known limits. I enjoy teaching people about health and wellness. There is so much false information out there and it is important to be educated.

If you don't know, The Biggest Loser is one of my favorite TV shows. I tune in every Tuesday to watch it (it's the only show I sit down to watch).

Last night was a surprise (to me) episode called "where are they now". This involved showing past seasons participants in their own environment to see what they have been doing since leaving the show. Most of the participants had kept the weight off. Most finished the show at a bit of an extreme and had put back on 10-20lbs to be at a maintainable weight. They looked great and it was truly inspiring to see their transformations and what they were doing now to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Many of them quit their jobs and became trainers while others became motivational speakers. Many are paying it forward by reaching out to those in the community and helping others achieve what The Biggest Loser helped them achieve. Many of them will say that the show 'got them their life back'. During the show, one contestant (who had never done this before the show) really found a love for running and has since completed a few marathons. She decided to plan a 5km run in her community. She thought she might get a 100 people out. She ended up getting 500 people out which in her community she said was unbelievable. She just wanted to get people moving and she did! Hundreds of runners came up to her after the race to tell her how much watching her on the show inspired them and how they had lost over a lot of weight because they decided to get off the couch.

Unfortunately, the winner of the first season (8 seasons ago), who had lost over 200lbs on the show, had put it all back on! Bob the trainer went to see him at his house. His reason for the weight gain was because he had worked so hard to get it off, it was even more daunting a task to maintain it. He kept saying, tomorrow, tomorrow I will change...and never did. I bet we can all relate to that. I's sure I am not the only one at one point or another to have said "I'll start on Monday" and never did. He told Bob that he knows he has to go back to the "strict way" to lose the weight but Bob was not agreeing. It's not about having to go from one extreme to the other, it's about finding balance that's going to work for you day to day. That contestant knows how to eat healthy, he knows how to exercise, he just needs to do it everyday and keep it consistent. Exercising over 6 hours a day (like they do on the show) and eating a very limited amount of calories is not realistic in the long term. One thing Bob kept telling him was that it was 'OK'. It is OK that he gained all the weight back. What's not OK is to do nothing about it.

Here is a crazy stat: 4.4 billion dollars is spent every year in the U.S on gastric bypass surgery. An unforeseeable amount of money is spent because there is an overwhelming amount of obese people in North America. It's actually cheaper to be Fit!!!

I'm a little too passionate on the topic and this could go on forever so I'll nip it in the bud. I see it as my life mission to help educate as many people as I can on how to be happy, healthy, and fit. I don't mean crazy ultra runner fit. I mean general fitness. You do not have to kill yourself to be fit. That is a misconception. Find something you enjoy and stick with it!

The biggest thing I have told you and will reiterate here again... keep it consistent. Exercise most days of the week (5-6x) even if that means getting out for a walk. And the second most important thing is to fuel up on nutritious whole foods. Think about the foods your are putting inside your body and how they are going to help fuel it optimally. Just think, a donut is going to do absolutely nothing for you, in fact, it will put stress on the body. A handful of almonds and an apple on the other hand will give you energy, increase your good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad (LDL), and provide you with important vitamins/minerals. So next time your hungry and in need of a snack/meal, think about what you are choosing and how it will affect your body. You always have a choice, remember what your goals are and make a choice that will help support your goals.

On that note, I am off for a run!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mountain Running in the Canadian Rockies: A Book Review!!!!

I have always wanted to go run in the Canadian Rockies. The word "Rockies" in itself just sounds epic.

The other day I had a realization. I spend so much of my time thinking of all the places across the country I want to go run when in fact, I haven't even really explored what MY OWN country has to offer. And then POW...3 days later I stumble upon a book which so happened to be called "Mountain Running in the Canadian Rockies". I was stoked because now I have my own little guide to take along with me! A guide to all the best mountain and trail running in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

I can't beleive I have never got my butt out there to run when I have run in the Colorado Rockies twice in the last 2 years!

The author, Bob Walker, has done an exceptional job with this book. It just came out in 2009 and thus is extremely up to date. It contains classic routes, new routes, long distance runs, epic adventures, and short trails. If you are new to trail running/adventuring there is a quite a few pages on what you might need in terms of food, gear, and travel. Also, other topics discussed: Solo travel, getting lost, injury, animals, and weather and climate. Those are all important things that are easily overlooked.

Each route is complete with a map, GPS tracks of all routes, distance, elevation, estimated time, directions, route description, amazingly gorgeous pictures, and overall route quality. For anyone who is environmentally concerned, this book was printed on recycled paper.

I am sooooo incredibly stoked to go check out many of these runs this year. And thanks to this book, I can pick the best of the best!!!!

See you in the trails and THE CANADIAN ROCKIES!!!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Back in the game!

Alright! It's officailly time to get back at er'! I spent a wonderful weekend at Mt. Baker with good friends, lounging, snowshoeing, eating, and drinking. I am dying to run again. My body is just not the same without it. I love it, I miss it, and I am ready to get in the best shape of my life.

Last year I did a lot of running and not a lot of anything else. I kept trying to throw things in (the gym, yoga, crossfit) but I was never consistent with it. That's the key to success...consistency. I have been going to yoga 2-4x/week and that is something I want to keep up as well as strength training 2x/week. If I start now, and stay consistent, I am hoping to keep it going at a maintenance level throughout the running season instead of just stopping. Once I stop, it's a lot harder to start all over again.

Keep your eyes open as I am hoping for some amazing snow adventures to come. I am determined to learn to ski tour this winter. I have not skied since Gr.7 which was back in 1997, so this should be an interesting learning curve. Hopefully an easy one! I loved skiing, it was my favorite winter sport but snowboarding became all the rage and I switched. I never really enjoyed it as much and pretty much stopped going up the mountain all together because of it (and lift prices).

The last 2 weeks I had been dealing with some tight muscles (calf, IT-Band, and hip flexor). A little A.R.T seemed to clear that up and I am ready to take on the world.

See you in the trails, hopefully with a little dusting of snow!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mountain Masochist 50 mile race report

This past weekend I flew to Lynchburg Virginia to run the Mountain Masochist 50 miler. I chose this race because it is part of the Montrail Ultra Cup and top 2 males/females get an automatic entry into Western States 100 miler, June 2010. That was the goal!

Tamsin Anstey, Gary Robbins and I drove down to Seattle at 5:30am on Thursday morning. We got there pretty early as to avoid Seattle traffic. We filled the time however, playing a tedious little game my dad taught me when I was 7 years old. It's called 'the box game' and I won! Before we knew it we were on a flight to Atlanta and not too long after that we hopped on another plane to Virginia. We arrived in Virginia at 10:00pm, and were greeted by the race director himself, Clark Zealand.

(Left: Old RD David Horton, Right: New RD Clark Zealand)

We adjusted our clocks 3 hours ahead, which made it 7pm our time (i.e dinner time). I would normally be carbo loading this night with a big plate of pasta but it was to late and nothing was open but a grocery store. It took me forever to figure out what was going to do the trick. I had even thought about buying a microwaveable pasta but just couldn't bring myself to do it. What I came up with was some granola and yogurt and a couple rice cakes with peanut butter and banana. Sad I know. We did manage to eat some baked potato from Wendy's in the Atlanta Airport! It was soon time for bed, although I had a difficult time falling asleep because of the time change.

I woke up Friday morning feeling awful. My throat was sore and I had a pretty bad cough. I thought for sure going into this trip that I was starting to really feel better and was confident my cold symptoms would be gone by race day. I tried to drink a ton of liquids and downed some Ricola throat lozenges, which seemed to help. Peter was very kind and sweet and put me up in my own room (he wasn't there). I guess he didn't realize it when he booked the room online but he chose a smoking room (all they had available at the time). In fact, I think the entire floor was a smoking floor because it reaked when I went up there. I walked into the room thinking perhaps it would smell better than the hallway but it was worse. They obviously tried to mask the smell with cleaning spray and the mix of that and smoke was horrible. Anywho, the lovely lady at the front desk switched my room and I was good to go. I just can't beleive they still allow smoking in hotel rooms!

The 3 of us went for a little 'get the legs moving again' run. I quickly realized I wasn't breathing all that well and my throat hurt to inhale. I wasn't really maintaining pace with Gary and Tamsin and decided to run back to the hotel, while they kept going.

The Hotel was starting to fill up with runners. Package pick-up and the pre-race pasta party/pre-race briefing was going on at the Kirkley Hotel that evening. It was great to meet some new faces as well as the famous David Horton. I could write an entire blog on David alone.

(David Horton speaking at the banquet)

What a character! His energy is amazing and I was blown away by his presence. The 3 of us opted out of the pasta dinner and made our own from items we bought at the grocery store. I normally have chicken breast, potatoes and broccoli. The best we could do was by organic canned chicken (like tuna), a microwaved potato (came in plastic which was supposed to be left on to steam it) and raw broccoli, which we microwaved in water. All in all, a decent meal. The banquet was filled with good energy. Geoff Roes came and sat at our table. He is a super nice guy and I must have asked him a million questions. He has broken many course records this year (Wasatch 100, The Bear 100, and a couple others) and was going for the CR at this race, which was previously set by Dave Mackey (6:48). It was going to be tight with all the fast guys who came out to compete (Gary Robbins, Lon Freeman, Valmir Nunes). Valmir holds the world record for the 100km (6:15) and broke the Badwater 135 mile CR! It was going to be a good show down.

I left the banquet a bit early and hit the hay around 9pm.

I woke up at 2:45am and started to get ready. Ate, changed, and packed up again. I was waffling between using my camelbak (which I always use) and a hand held water bottle. There were going to be 16 aid stations. It was either go fast and light and stop more often or go with what I always use and skip most of the aid stations. Although it is heavier, the camelbak allows me to keep my hands free. I also don't have to stop as much and it holds all of my fuel. The one downside is that there are no outer pockets, therefore I need to take my bag off to get something out of it. To solve this problem however, I had pockets sewn onto my shorts, where I stashed my gels and salt pill container.

For some reason, I wasn't nervous. For this race, I found I was more excited to just go do what I came to do. In my mind, Tamsin and I were going to be dooking it out with Justine Morrison, who was last years winner. I didn't care to beat Tamsin. For all I cared, she could have won (which she did), I could have won, or ideally we could have crossed the line together.

There were 5 buses that shuttles us to the start. It was dark and cold but those buses kept us very warm.

(the Jiffy John line up. You don't see this at many ultra's. The ironic thing is that there was forest in every direction and Horton was telling everyone to hit the bushes!)

The 3 of us went for a warm-up run 30 minutes before the start. Being warm made the start of the race a bit more manageable. Tamsin, Gary and I lined up near the front. I slowly inched my way back as I didn't want to get caught up in the lead men's pace. I scanned around for Justine to see where she was but it was really dark and without knowing what she looked like, it was challenging. Gary met her last year but he couldn't find her in the crowd either.

(The start line at 5:30am)

With a 5,4,3,2,1, countdown from Clark, we were off. Tamsin and I ran together and kept a comfortable pace. A really nice local girl named Heather and another guy kept close behind us. The first section is an out and back along a concrete road. I scanned the runners coming back to see if there were any other women in the pack, but there were not. This meant Tamsin and I were leading the woman's race. Just after an hour had passed Heather says to me, "I wonder how far ahead Justine is? She usually starts out really fast". I told her I never saw her at the start and that I didn't see any other women in front of us on the out and back section (It wasn't until Aid Station 4, that someone told us we were in 1st and 2nd place. Heather and I went back and forth a few times in the first hour. She passed me on the first few small climbs. It didn't take long for me to realize I was a much better down hill runner and I took advantage of that to put a lead on her early in the race.

Tamsin and I ran together for the first 3 hours. I was feeling good in terms of my body but knew I was sucking wind a bit in my chest. I was coughing quite a bit at one point and Tamsin asked how my throat was feeling. It was the last thing I was trying to think about so I gave her a pretty short answer, and said, "it is what it is". We got separated when I had to take my second 'potty stop'. She didn't get to far ahead of me and she came into the halfway aid station only 3 minutes ahead.

(The beautiful Blueridge moutains)

Those 2 'P-stops' early on started to suck my energy. I could feel myself starting to fade. I have always dealt with the same issues and haven't found a solution to it yet. Sorry to get personal here people but it's frustrating when you are constantly trying to replace the calories that are coming out the other end. It's also dehydrating. As much as gels work for me and provide me with energy, I think they might also do the opposite at times. It seems after 5 gels or so I need to make a pit stop. Anywho, I have learned to deal with it and be as efficient as possible with my stops. I will work on finding a solution for next season.

I am not to sure what happened to me after the half-way mark but I just started to feel horrible. My legs were ok, a bit sore, but not bad. I had ran everything up until that point and came into the halfway 20 minutes before I thought I would. I gradually started to feel really nauseous and I lost the ability to take in food. Normally I can stomach gels up until the last hour or so of the race but today I was 4.5 hours from the finish when that happened. I ran/walked up to the loop aid station.

I was running around a guy wearing an Orange shirt. I told him how I felt and he said, "there is a lot more challenging terrain up ahead. You are a good downhill runner, take advantage of that, and keep moving". I came up to the only section of single track on the entire course. Both Peter and Gary said this was the place where Tamsin and I should really start to lay it down because this is our kind of terrain. I came into this section in the most negative head space. I couldn't eat and I had lost the energy to run. I thought for sure I was done and all I wanted to do was drop. I was however, still in 2nd, and that drove me to keep moving.

This was the one time I pulled upon my DNF at Miwok. I knew that DNF would come in handy at some point! I thought back to that day and how I felt after I dropped. I did not want to give up. I thought, as long as I was still in 2nd, even if I had to walk, there was no reason to drop. I thought about how mad I'd be if I dropped and later found out that the next women would have come in hours behind. So I walked all the hills and some flats and ran all the downhills. The loop actually went by so fast and I still came out 10 minutes before the split on my arm said I would! That lifted my spirit a bit. Even though I walked the majority of that 5 mile loop, no one passed me. I kept looking over my shoulder wondering when all the people were going to come, and no one did! So, I changed my game plan. I knew it wasn't my day so I was going to do what I needed to do to get it done. I came out of that loop with 12 miles to go and I remember thinking, ok, I can do 12 miles.

I just want to mention how enjoyable it was to have 16 aid stations. Each one had a sign saying what aid station it was and how far to the next. It was rare for aid stations to be separated by more than 3 miles. I found it uplifting to think to myself 'alright, only another 2.5 miles to the next, and 1.9 miles to the next. Those aid stations broke the race down into tiny little increments and gave me something to focus on.

The trouble came when I started dry heaving! This started somewhere around the6.5- 7 hour mark. What was happening (I think) is that my throat was so dry/sore that my salt pills were almost getting stuck there. Every time I had one, I never fully thought it was going all the way down. Anywho, I started dry heaving. I must have pulled over 6-7 times to do so. 4 of those times I hacked up a little something plastic in my mouth. But, every time it happened, I felt 100 times better. It was the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me in a race. So now, not only was I not eating anything, I couldn't take it any electrolytes. I did not eat a single thing for the last 3 hours.

Knowing this was how my day was going to be, I needed a plan. If I can't eat, what can I consume for energy? The answer: COKE!!!! I got to aid station 14 and asked them if they had a bottle I could put coke in. A lovely man went to his car, got me a plastic water bottle, and I filled it to the brim. This drink became my savior and took me into the final miles of the race.

All the guys around me were power hiking the hills and I had no hesitation in following suit. I could run downhill just fine, flats were a slog, and uphills were a hike. I had no problem hiking. No other women were in sight so I just kept moving. I got to aid station 15 and there were a whopping 4 miles to the last aid station. This section was nice and undulating and I found a steadier rhythm here. I had somehow come out of my negative head space and the closer I got to the finish the more excited I got. I was just so damn happy that I had beat the mental beast! I knew that there were only 3 miles of downhill to go once I reached aid station 16, and that was my focus. If I could hold off Heather until then, I had this in the bag.

In the last 3 miles I was starting to get pretty tight and felt a calf cramp coming on. I didn't want to risk taking a salt pill and continue this saga of dry heaving but I also didn't want to cramp and have to stop running. I decided to take the pill. Boy did I suffer for that one. The dry heaving started all over and again it didn't stop until I dislodged this little piece of plastic. I was literally sticking my finger down my throat to initiate the gag reflex to get that thing out sooner, allowing me to carry on with the race.

Those last 3 miles seemed like forever. The terrain consisted of runnable switchbacks that weren't that steep. I still had to put forth a lot of energy to get down the hill. I just kept moving and eventually the terrain got steeper. Yippy!!! The trail popped out onto a road and then I noticed something on the ground. It said '1 mile to go' in pink spray paint. I was so excited. I was so happy for this day to be coming to a close.

It got super hot and I had tied my shirt up like we used to do in elementary school. I must have been delirious because I started playing around with my hat. I thought it might be interesting to tilt it sideways to have a more comical effect when I crossed the line. Then I changed my mind and had it backwards only to change my mind one more time and went back to the sideways look. I wish someone could have been filming me during this time, it would have looked very odd. Nonetheless, that decision making process made the last mile go by pretty damn quick and there it was...the mighty finish line!!!! I crossed the finish line in 8:39:55 and posed with flexed arms with a sideways cap and my shirt tied up to the side.

Gary came over and gave me a giant hug and told me how the guys race turned out and how tamsin finished up. I found myself in a state of Blah. I felt no emotion. As happy as I was inside to be done, I felt pretty beat up both physically and mentally.

In the end, I am happy I went and experienced another character builder. It just proves to me how tough we are as human beings. You can be in such discomfort and mentally torn but the body just keeps moving.

Big shout out to Tamsin Anstey who finished in a time of 8:09, which is the 5th fastest time ever. What a great finish to an awesome season for you! Congrats to Gary Robbins for taking over 20 minutes of his previous best time at MMTR50. He wanted to break 7 hours and he ended up finishing in 7:00:28 (pretty damn close).

To finish off the night, there was a post race banquet dinner back at our hotel. They gave out many awards and it was nice to exchange and share stories. We went to bed shortly thereafter. We had to be up at 4:15am because we had to catch a flight at 6am the next morning. Traveling is hard the very next day after a race. Holy crap am I sore. Tamsin can hardly walk. All I had to say to her was, "welcome to the wonderful world of ultrarunning". Thank god for handles in washroom stalls that allow you to brace yourself so you can sit down slowly!

(7 of the top 10 women)

(The Canadian Contingency)


- Brooks Cascadia trail shoe

- Brooks epiphany short (which I added pockets to)

- GU Just Plain

- Thermolytes, electrolyte replacement

Alright, that brings the season to a close. It has been great and I learned a lot this year. I had my first DNF (miwok at 80km) and my first injury (broke my cuboid bone). I also had a lot of good races that I am very proud of. As much as I am looking forward to the break, it wont be long before I am back out on the trails.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The day before...

Today is the day before I leave for Virginia! I am excited. I am also a little bit concerned. It all started with a sore throat about 4-5 days ago. After about 2 days it went away and the sore throat was replaced by the sniffles. And just like Tamsin said it would, the sniffles lessened and were replaced with coughing and sneezing. She said that coughing and sneezing was the bodies way of releasing the virus/cold. I took Monday and Tuesday off and today I ran for 30 minutes. It felt alright, but my heart rate was a bit higher on the hills and I could feel myself wheezing a bit through the chest. I rarely get sick but I often do when I am tapering.

I am trying to stay positive and I know the less I think about it, the better I will be come Saturday. Today, a client of mine (the mother of a high school friend of mine) told me that the best basketball game she ever saw me play in high school, was a game where I had the flu!

I know I can rise above and even if I am feeling lousy the morning of the race, I will tow the line knowing I did everything in my power to get there fit and ready to rock out. Laisez Fair!

Gary, Tamsin, and I are leaving for the Seattle Airport at 5:30am! Should be a nice quick drive. I bought a new book to read on the airplane. It's called, "Creating Magic: 10 common sense leadership strategies from a life at Disney.

I had an interview with the owner of On the Edge Fitness on Monday. She asked me a question I have been asked a lot in previous interviews with employers. What makes a good leader? I always find this answer really tricky. I think back to previous employers or people in my life to find the answer but I always come up short. I've realized that I haven't ever had that one person who I can say I 'looked up to' or was my 'role model'. I have taken bits and pieces from those around me but I can't say that there was ever one person who showed me the way. I have always had to do that on my own. So, when it comes time to explain what characteristics I think leaders possess, I am usually at a loss for words.

In jobs, I always find myself moving up the ranks and employers wanting me to be in leadership positions. It's definitely something I do naturally but also am intimidated by. I have always been told I have a lot of potential, but no one has ever figured out, including myself, how to get me there. I don't think it is up to someone else to get me to where I want to be and I certainly do not like to be told what to do. I need to want to do it and I need to want to be the best I can be. Although, a little direction can always help!

The one thing I find when I am on my way to reaching my potential (in work), is a loss of balance. I have figured out over the years that I can't work 12 hour shifts day in and day out. I need to sleep 8 hours a day or else my body shuts down. I remember this one time I was working double shifts at Innovative Fitness (back in 08). I think for almost 5 days straight (starting on a Monday) I was up at 5am, working by 6am, had my last session at 7pm, and home at 9pm (with little breaks here and there throughout the day). Of course, I had to eat dinner and wind down when I got home and I wasn't getting to bed until 10-1030pm. Thus, not getting my 8 hours of sleep. At the end of the week on Friday, we had a team challenge to run the 'figure 8' which was a run around the facility in West Vancouver. I think it was only a 6-8 minute run depending on fitness level. My boss told me and my co-worker Justine that he expected us to run under 6 minutes. It was 5:45am and I was tired. I shot out at a pretty fast pace and after about 100 meters I just burst into tears. I broke down. I was tired and my body and mind were telling me so.

That was not the last time I cried. There have been many times when I have been running with Peter where I have burst into tears. And every time I've been under a great deal of stress and have not been getting enough sleep, and he starts pushing the pace. It's as though, pushing my body past it's current limit, sends it into emotional overdrive. It's not until that point do I ever admit to myself how stressed or overworked I am. Since I have been self employed and in complete control of my life, I don't think I have cried once on a run. I am sure most of you think I am crazy for even having burst into tears running but it's the truth.

I left Innovative Fitness last Christmas to figure out what it was I wanted, both in work and in life. I loved working there but work, running, and my personal life was a juggling act. I found that I was tired all the time and my workouts weren't quality and neither were my relationships with others. So I quit. With no plan. I had lots of customers telling me I was crazy to quit when the economy was so bad.

"There are no jobs you know", They'd say.

It didn't matter. My life was going to be run by me, not the economy. I have a very special Uncle who lives in Montreal, Uncle Steve. We got to chatting when he was down last Christmas. He was in a similiar position as myself and had left his job (or cut back work). He gave me the best piece of advice. He said, "Nicola, follow your bliss". That is exactly what I have been doing ever since. I have been the director in my own life. Making my own choices in business, life, and play. I must say however, I took these last 9 months all for me. I had enough work to live and travel and I had more time than most to spend with my family and friends. For the first time in a long time, I wasn't working 2 jobs, while going to school, to pay for school. I was never that kid who took summer off to go play and travel, I couldn't afford it! This was the first time I had ever taken time for just myself.

I learned a few things in that process. 1) I like to be busy (2) I like being around others (3) I like variety. When I left Innovative Fitness, I left behind the 24 hour dance party. That's what it felt like. I had been around 100's of people all day long and then suddenly it was just me and maybe a couple clients. It took me a couple months to get used to it but eventually I stopped missing it. I grew into my new life. I had time, not just for me but for others. I had time to have amazing runs in the trails for hours. I had time to grocery shop and make myself and Peter healthy wonderful meals. I grew my love for cooking. To compliment my training gig, I went back and worked at North Shore Athletics and Tommy's restaurant part-time and I had variety back in my life. People kept telling me that I was moving in reverse because I was back working at NSA. Someone actually said to me "why are you working at Tommy's when you have a University degree?". To this day I still fill in shifts for both those companies because I genuinely love working there. I do what makes me happy and that did. It was like having time to volunteer for your favorite charity, although I was getting paid, which was nice as I built my clientele. I even had the time to extend my education and get certified as a Lactate Tester. That was something I always wanted to while working at Innovative. For whatever reason it never happened and it was one of the first things I did when I left. And I love it!

My last race of the season is on Saturday. I am looking forward to it. I am also looking forward to the journey that lies after it. I will keep following my bliss and I know it will lead me in the right direction because it is guided from the heart.

So let's see where this 'potential' takes me next. For now though, I hope it takes me to first or second place at Mountain Masochist 50, gaining me an automatic entry into Western States 100, June 2010!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just thought I'd mention that I honestly only had the intention of writing the top 2 paragraphs and somehow it all just flowed right out of me!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Not much left to do...

All I have left to do is relax...

The official relaxation part of the taper has begun. Although, I don't know how relaxing cramming 5 days of work into 3 days is going to be! My vehicle decided it wasn't going to start on Friday. Maybe it was bad Karma telling Gary Robbins how amazing my $700 car has been so far. It almost lasted a whole month without any problems, I was hoping for longer. Maybe this is a sign I should really import a beautiful new Mitsubishi Delica!!!!

The kicker
...wait for it...this morning I got a tow truck to take it down to the mechanic. I didn't bother to try and start it as it didnt start on Friday or Saturday. The mechanic calls, he got it to start first try! WOW...lesson learned there! Attempt to start your car before paying $50 for a tow.

Saturday I finished my last long run of 2 hrs 40 minutes with the Mountain Madness Trail Clinic. It was nice to run with good friends all training for the Phantom Trail Race (12km,19km, 24km) which is going on November 14th starting/finishing at the LSCR.

That afternoon Peter and I drove up to my family cabin at MT. Baker. It was great to get away and actually relax, play a crap load of backgammon (we have a somewhat friendly competition going to which I am losing), make an amazing dinner, and finish the night off with a movie...well part of it because I fell asleep 20 minutes later. It wasn't exactly the most exciting Halloween but I have been feeling under the weather and just needed to sleep and recover! And sleep I did, almost 12 hours thanks to daylight savings!

NEW AND EXCITING NEWS...Remember those secret trails I keep talking about and frolicking in, well, the time has come for them to be revealed. I introduce you to...

(Fat Dog 100 Logo- the name came about because it is a trail in the area and it's badass!)

Check out this website Fat Dog 100 for more details and to see some amazing photos of the race. This one is for sure on my list to do, whether its this year or next! I am already familiar with 50 miles of the course and I can tell you it's beautiful, challenging, and unforgettable.

Alright, here's to more relaxing and patiently waiting in excitement for Saturday's race.


ps- I picked up my car from the mechanic with only a minor bill and it seems to be working great! I got my Percy Wheels back!!!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In the Zone

Just got back from such a great trail run. It started out really odd in that I felt a little disconnected from my body. Maybe I was just light headed, I don't know, but I carried on. I focused on my breathing, my heart rate, and keeping a nice even pace. Then as I approached the longest climb of the run (it's only like 10 minutes) I got really deep in thought. So much so, it wasn't until I was at the top of the hill that I realized I had just run up the entire climb without noticing. It was effortless. There is even one steeper climb and I didn't even notice my breathing change. Maybe it didn't. Anywho, it tripped me out.

I am definitely a run thinker. I think of everything and anything when I run. The best part, I am unstoppable in my thoughts. I could be thinking of something so outlandish, but I am so confident while I am running, there is no reason in my head it can't happen. I remember thinking once that Global Television (Canadian TV network) would love to help me out in my traveling endeavors/expenses (because they must have so much money) and I should ask them for sponsorship. Of course I would make it worth their while by writing articles for them or something but it totally seemed legit in my head. Obviously I never followed through with that one when I stopped running and realized that may be a little far fetched. The moral of that story is: Running gives you confidence to take on the world, running makes you think, and running can take your mind off even the toughest climb of the day (hill or life).

I toe the line in Virginia in 9 days for Mountain Masochist. I hope each hill feels as effortless as the end of my run today.

See you in the trails!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tortilla Soup

Alright, I know this has become more of a running blog, but, there is way more I'd love to share with you all other than running. As an athlete, and I am sure most you can agree with me, I love to eat. When you eat as much as an ultra runner, you need to find ways to keep it interesting. Luckily, I have a lot of patience and do not mind cooking myself great meals, even if they are just for 2 or sometimes 1.

I first had this soup at a friends house a few months ago. The recipe comes from an amazing vegan cook-book called Rebar, a restaurant based out of Victoria, B.C. As neither of the couples that night are Vegan, they added chicken to the soup. I did it a little different and added shrimp instead. Although I enjoyed both variations, i find the shrimp a little bit easier, as you simply just add it to the soup at the end.

Tortilla Soup w/ avocado, corn, and asiago

Serves 8 (you can cut the recipe in 1/2 to serve 4, but if you make a lot, you can freeze it for a rainy day!)

8 cups vegetable stock (I have used chicken and it tasted great)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, finely diced
1 tbsp salt
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp minced oregano
4 jalepeno peppers, seeded and minced
3 cups corn kernals, fresh or frozen (I used canned)
2 large red peppers, seeded and finely diced
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (I didn't use this but if you have it, go for it)
2 tsp chipotle puree
*** Puree contents of 1 7oz (198g) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Now, I was a bit lazy and just added some hot chili sauce, which gave it a nice kick)
4 corn tortilla's, yellow or blue (make sure you get real CORN tortilla's)
2 avacado's, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, stemmed
asiago cheese, shaved with a potato peeler (I grated aged white cheddar instead, as I had it in the fridge)
1 lime, cut into thin wedges
*** Prawns, peeled (optional)

1. Heat the stock and keep it warm on the back burner while preparing the soup. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat oil, over medium heat. Add onion and 1 tsp salt and saute until translucent. Stir in garlic, oregano, half of the minced jalapenos and another 1 tsp salt; saute 5 minutes.

2. Pour the hot stock into the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer 20 minutes. In the final 5 minutes, stir in the corn, red peppers, remaining jalapenos, the remaining salt, liquid smoke, and chipotle puree. Simmer until the corn is tender. Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. ***If you want to add prawns, do this at the very end, until cooked.

3. To make tortilla strips, slice each tortilla into long strips 1/4" thick. Toss gently with a light coating of oil, a pinch of salt and chile powder (optional). Spread the strips out on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F oven until crisp (5 minutes). Remove from the oven and let cool until ready to serve.

4. To serve, ladle the broth into bowls and divide the diced avocado, cilantro leaves, asiago shavings among the servings. Arrange 8 tortilla strips in a teepee in the center of each bowl. Serve immediately with a bowl of lime wedges on the side.

I hope you have as much as I did making this soup and even more fun eating it. It really is yummy and it was hard to say no to seconds (which I didn't of course!).

Now, go running and get cookin'!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An over-competetive pre-sweeper

Today was the Hallows Eve 1/2 marathon and 10km. I first did this race 2 years ago and boy was it tough. There is a shit load of stairs and lot's of climbing with some pretty rewarding downhill and flat sections to recover. My boyfriend Peter is the race director and I helped him out by pre-sweeping the race course with my friend John Foy. A pre-sweep essentially just runs the course before the race starts and ensures all the flagging is still in it's place. People who walk the trails regularly sometimes do not take kindly to random objects thrown into "their" forest. Last year, I swept the course after the race had finished, so I thought it would be nice to change it up.

We set out around 7:30am. It was a beautiful crisp morning and I was happy to be running as the sun came out. I was glad to see that all the flagging had remained in place, making our run that much more enjoyable. After 90 minutes John met up with his girlfriend and her daughter and we parted ways, and I finished up the last section solo. As I came into the Gazebo aid station I saw a few familiar faces. The Mountain Madness gang were all dressed up as Pirates. They looked awesome! Tom Skinner was also there dawning a girl's costume with red head pigtails and all. I saw the first 10km runner come through and it was my friend Dylan Gant. I got excited and decided to run with him, which lasted about 10 seconds. Not to far behind was the 2nd place male. He came 2nd last week at Around the Lake Giv'r Take 30km. I saw 2 other speedy 10km runners and I cheered them on as they passed swiftly. I was now running back to the start/finish, which is the same trail you run along for about 5km when you start. There were at least 50 10km runners dressed up in their creative Halloween costumes. I cheered them on as they worked their butts off coming up the stairs. I saw many familiar faces from Innovative Fitness, knee knacker runs, mountain madness trail clinics, and the local trail community scene.

I finally made it to the top of Baden Powell before the flats (diamond trail) going back to the finish. Mike Hilleger always volunteers there, so I took a little break and chatted with him. A few more male 10k'ers passed. Then I saw the first female coming up the climb. I politely told Mike I had to go and set out for a random little tempo run back to the finish. My competitive nature kicked in and I wanted to see if I could hold her off. Yes, she had just been working her butt off for 7km, and I am sure her HR was through the roof but I had been out there for 2 hrs 15 min and had done 18 km. Ok, so maybe that was a slow 2:15/ 18km but whatever. So I take off and catch up to this guy dressed as a girl, wearing Lulu lemon pants and a tank top. It was hot. He was keeping a good pace and I was only barely closing the gap. I thought this would be good speed work in prep for mountain masochist, although I hope I don't have to run this fast there. Volunteers kept telling me I was the first woman, and I felt pretty bad and had to keep saying I was "just the sweep". We were coming into the final stretch and everyone is cheering and the announcer says "here is the first woman coming into the finish". I know the announcer quite well and had to go back and explain myself, telling him I am not racing, I am just an "over competitive pre-sweeper". All in all, I really enjoyed the run and seeing all those familiar faces. The running community on the North Shore is an amazing group of people and I am glad to be apart of it.

Thanks to Peter for putting on the race. I saw first hand how much time he put into this event. For the last week, he has left the house after dinner to go back to work, spending hours on the last minute details of the race. I reminded him yesterday that all his hard work will pay off and tomorrow it will all be over and his email inbox will be filled with wonderful race comments from participants.

This week has been pretty random. I took 1 day off after my race last Sunday, doing nothing but a light Hatha yoga class. Tuesday I did a flow Yoga class at YYoga and I lead a running clinic through some downhill eccentric (quad muscle lengthening) repeats but took them easy letting everyone else do the work (hey, I was recovering)! Wednesday I went for a run and felt good so I went for 2 hours. These days, I never know if I'm going to feel good or tired. I thought to myself, if I feel good, go longer because tomorrow I could feel the opposite. On Thursday however I had this little ache behind my knee cap. I thought something might have been bugging my hamstring tendon but was unsure of what was really going on. I decided to take a day off and rest it. Friday, I set out for a nice long hill run but 12 minutes in realized it just wasn't going to happen today. My "knee pit" (that is what I call the back of my knee) was bugging me again and I just knew running on it would irritate it even more.

I went to see a Chiropractor by the name of Paul Wiggins. This guy is unreal and every time I go see him I am amazed at his knowledge and understanding of the human body. I don't go to him for adjustments, I see him for his impeccable ART skills. ART is a technique whereby a trained physician massages out an area as they lengthen the muscle, moving it through an active range of motion. It's very specific and highly effective. He identified that it was actually the head of my gastrocnemius
(A.K.A- Calf) muscle that was very tight. He worked it out through ART and I left feeling pretty good. I almost forgot, he also did one more thing. I had this clicking in my knee pit whenever I fully straightened my left leg. It doesn't hurt and so I never really thought to ever get it looked at. I mentioned it to him and he fiddled around back there and presto, the clicking was gone. I went to a hot yoga class that night and I left feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the weekend. The next day I went for a 2hr 20minute run pain free. There was absolutely no pain or discomfort in my calf. It was the best $40 I ever spent.

2 more weeks until Mountain Masochist. I can't wait! I feel good and ready to rock.
I am hoping I feel like this at the finish!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Around the Lake Giv'r Take 30km Race Report

At last! A race report I am super excited to write about. I can honestly say, I haven't felt this good about a race since Iron Knee (late May). With my injury taking me out for 2 months of the summer, this is the first time in a long while I felt like I was fit enough, to go out and give everything I had. I was able to execute all the things I have been practicing over the last couple of months in training. And, I was finally able to have fun again pushing my ass to it's limits. All the hard work has paid off. I was third overall and I set a new woman's course record by 6 minutes and took 8 minutes off of my own time from last year. All this considering the conditions out there were less than favorable. It rained like hell and the mud was horrendous...but SO MUCH FUN!

Even though this race is not an 'A' race of mine, I came into today knowing I was going out there to give it all I had. In the days leading up to it I kind of threw out to Pete that I should probably just tempo it because Mountain Masochist 50 miler is in 3 weeks. I had already ran 5 hours in the 3 days leading up to this event. I really wanted to do this race so I could test out my fitness. As I had done the race last year, I had something to gauge my fitness from. Last year however, I walked a lot of the uphills. That is something I have been trying to avoid ever since I realized how inefficient power hiking is for me to do. Today, I pretty much ran everything. There were only a few moments where I put my head down, had my hands on my knees, and had to grunt it up the hill. I even ran the steepest of hills today, something I would have never even thought about doing a year ago!

The race begins by circling some flat road and rounding out back along through the start/finish area at Cultus Lake. Immediately thereafter, we start the first climb of the day. This hill goes up relentlessly for about 4 km. There are a few breaks in the hill but only enough to let you catch your breath before heading straight back up. I am pretty sure my heart rate reached 187 on this part. That would be my max! Even though everyone around me was power hiking, I just wanted to see what would happen if I ran. My breathing was under control and the legs were only slightly starting to burn but not fatigue. I think I was in 8th place or so before we hit our first downhill.

Hallelujah!!!!!!! A chance to recover!!!!!!! WOOOHOOOOO!!!!! I immediately passed 2 guys I had been working so hard up that hill with. They ran with me for the next 10 or so minutes and then I never saw them again. I passed one more along this downhill. It was super muddy and you were slip sliding everywhere. Its not a very wide trail and there is pretty much a mini ditch smack dab in the middle. You either have to run in the ditch or pick a side. Going to the outside was a tough call because it was so muddy, you risked sliding right off down the hill. I did a combo but ran a lot in the middle. There were puddles everywhere and I just prayed that when I stepped in one, I wouldn't roll and ankle from hitting a hidden rock. Thankfully, nothing happened, just 2 very wet feet. The downhill I must say is my favorite part of this race. You get to go down for quite a while. The trail has lot's of turns and keeps you well engaged throughout. The trail levels out and widens before going down once more. I passed 2 more guys on this section and was feeling amazing. Eventually it spits you out onto this big open field of grass. It was here that I saw Matt Sessions. I don't know why I have such a hit out for this guy. We have raced each other a few times now and he has become a good racing acquaintance. He has beat me a bunch of times and I have beat him as well. It's always close and it's usually not until the very end of races that I catch him. He's always motivating me (secretly in my head) to finish strong.

He was holding a great pace going back into the tree's. Shortly after, the trail spits you out onto the road. You run down a hill, flats, and then uphill until the 1/2 way aid station at 15km. I couldn't catch him on the road section. We were pretty much running the same speed so I wasn't able to get an inch on him. Once we started up the hill, he was gone and I wouldn't see him for a while. Meanwhile, I had a guy in a blue shirt chasing me down which kept me focused. I blazed through the aid station without stopping because I had a camelbak full of water, enough to last me the entire race. I also had gels stuffed in my shorts pocket, glove, and bra.

This next section is very hilly. You climb up some switchbacks for a while, descend slightly and then undulate for quite some time. There is enough overall descending to recover and the undulations make for some good running. The terrain was making me work. The guy in the blue shirt caught back up to me on one of the ascents and we continued to go back and forth a few times. I was trying to keep up to him on the hills and he was making me work to keep up. There no doubt about it, I was pushing myself. Sometimes when your alone in ultra's, it's hard to push yourself beyond your limits. I was thankful he was there, even though he was kicking my butt.

I eventually passed him again on the down and then we started up our last climb of the day. Thinking back from last year, I really couldn't remember how long this hill was. We climbed for a bit and then these motivational signs popped up. Although they served as a good distraction, there was one that said "you are almost at the top". I turned to the guy in blue, who had passed me again at this point, and said "I really hope they're not lying". Every switch back we crested I kept wondering if it was the last one. The sign said we were almost done, so this has got to be it. I don't think we reached the top for about 10-15 minutes after that damn sign. Whoever wrote it, should have put it a hell of a lot higher up the hill!!!!! Sorry, I'll stop whining now. We finally got to the top and blue was out of sight. I ran as hard as I could to catch him and I finally saw him up ahead. It took me a while to get to him as I am sure he wanted to stay ahead of me. By the time I had caught up to him, he had caught up to Matt Sessions. It wasn't long before I passed them both with only had 3km to go.

The trails spit you out one more time. I was now in 3rd place and really wanted to keep it that way. I had Matt and Blue behind me and was running scared. I ran along the road one more time and Peter was there and told me I was on pace for a C.R. I really didn't care at that point and just wanted the race to be over. The road section was short and before long I was on my last km along the beach at Cultus Lake. I kept looking behind me to see if Matt was on my tail but for the majority there was no one. I tried to run as fast as I could. That last km seemed to take forever but the finish line came into sight and I was done. I finished in 2:29!!!

I was really happy with my finish. I gave it my all and that is all I could ask for. I pretty much ran every single hill and that was my main goal coming into today. I congratulated Matt and Blue for pushing me up those hills and quickly jumped in the Lake to soak the legs.

This race is awesome. I am surprised it doesn't draw more people. I think the rain kept a lot of people in bed today. The organization is great. They must have given out a hundred draw prizes and the overall winners receive handcrafted walking sticks. The food is amazing because they get all the volly's to bake. There is always homemade pie (and a plethora of other treats), meat and cheese platter, and soup/chili...YUM!

I must say, I really needed this day to happen before Mountain Masochist. I needed a solid hard effort day out on the trails and something to confirm my fitness. There is still 3 more weeks until the race and I am looking more forward to it than ever.

See you in the trails!