Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To the Summit of Brunswick Mountain

Monday was a very special day for me. Why you ask? Because I had the pleasure of going on a gorgeous hike with my Dad. My dad and I (and usually my big brother) spent most of our childhood hiking and camping together. My brother lived with my dad and when I did spend time with him, we were always adventuring in the outdoors. Just to name a few, I remember camping at Spetch Creek, hiking up above the treeline in Whistler, and looking for golf balls in the ferns at Gleneagles.

Then my teen years happened and it seemed I spent most of my time playing sports. Weekends were filled with basketball or soccer tournaments and hanging out with friends. Adventuring with my dad got put to the weigh side. Because I lived with my mom and step dad, I really didn't see a lot of my dad through high school. It wasn't until I was 18 or so, I started this Sunday tradition of going to my dad's for pancakes. Although, I don't go over to his place every Sunday, our entire Gildersleeve Family get's together every few months for a big giant breakfast of Blueberry pancakes at my aunt Julie's. I cherish these mornings with my family and there is nothing I would rather be doing. I always manage to fit in my runs before hand, even if that means getting up at 4:30am! Back then I would pack in like 6-7 pancakes, now I am lucky if I can pack down 3! Although, I remember not being able to eat for like 8 hours post (6-7) pancakes.

Over a year ago, during winter, my dad and I hiked up the BCMC. That was the first hike we had done together in over 10 years. I loved it. I remember him huffing and puffing, he was working hard. I was taking it pretty easy. It was a special moment and one I wanted to continue. But, of course, life gets in the way and we haden't made it back out until Monday. I was about to exit the doors after my shift at Tommys Cafe and in walks my dad. He is building the new deck that some delinquent ran into and destroyed. We sat down and had a coffee and caught up on life. Then Peter come's along and somehow we get to talking about the epic Brunswick Hike. We all said it is something the 3 of us should do soon and then Peter says "how about tommorrow?". My dad and I being self employed, changed our schedules and it was a done deal. That's how me and my dad work, if it's going to happen, it's going to be planned last minute, with no time to back out.

My dad set a blistering pace as we started up the logging road. Peter and I were quickly falling back. I was under the impression that this was going to be more of a leisurely hike because the last time we hiked together, he was breathing heavily behind me. This was not the case, as he had a lot of pep in his step. Peter and I just looked at each other confused and let him go up ahead.

Peter said not to worry, that once the trail started to get steep, he would fall back. I was weary of that comment but to my surprise, as the trail got steeper, my dad had a tougher time keeping up. He is a carpenter and has strong hamstrings but lacks the strength in his quads and calves. Peter and I are used to the steep terrain, my dad however is not. The change of grade allowed us to catch up and maintain a normal pace going up the climb.

(The second view of the day)

The trail just got more beautiful and the view just became larger and larger. Mountains in one direction and oceanic views in the other. The higher we climbed the more unreal it became.

(My dad up top heading to the Summit of Brunswick)

This photo above captures the beauty of what we saw from up high. I could of stayed up there all day long. I never got bored of the view, it only became more spectacular. We sat up there and ate lunch and went even further, as there were a few small summits. There were some raven's flying around and my dad made a face with a banana peel to lure them in. My dad is a professional artist (can't you tell).

(Mr. Banana Peel Face)

(Peter and I at the Summit)

Over and hour and a half later we started to head back down. My dad once described his method of getting downhill as the downhill slalom. He basically jumps with both feet like a kangaroo down the hill. It's hilarious and highly efficient, although, he didn't keep it up. We had a lot of fun and he was a machine going downhill.

We went to the Lions Bay cafe for a bite to eat after the hike and reminisced about the beauty of the day. Thanks dad for the amazing experience and sharing that with me. I look forward to many more. I should mention that my dad is 60 and is a machine. I'm always impressed.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Frosty Mountain 50km Race Report

(Me coming into the finish)

After hearing so much about how spectacular the scenery was at the 1st annual Frosty Mountain 25km/50km trail ultra event in 08', I felt compelled to check it out for myself. I had already been to Manning Park on Monday to run 35km and there I was back again, only 4 days later. We stayed in this cute little cabin with 3 others, and we slept in bunk beds no less. I haven't slept in a bunk bed since I was a little kid. I can still remember the many nights I spent fighting with my brother, just to sleep on the top. I asked Peter what he wanted 'top' or 'bottom', he said top, and I was glad because I actually wanted the bottom...funny how that changes. There was a whole bunch of people at the cabin when we got there. It was nice to relax, enjoy a beer, and wind down before going to bed.

I slept like a baby and was up at 5:45am to do my thing and eat some breaky. The weather report in the days leading up to Frosty forecast a chance of scattered showers, and pretty sunny and nice for the most part. I must say I was surprised when it was pouring down rain. I was hoping it would clear up because I didn't bring a jacket for the run. I really need to realize that the weather gods aren't always right and pack for every situation that could come at me. Anywho, Peter lent me his vest and I was good to go. We got there, picked up our packages, and sat in the car until 10 minutes from the start.

I was a little nervous going into it. I have only been back for 6 weeks now and haven't really put in a race pace effort. I don't think I was mentally there yet to go giv'r for near 6 hours. But, nonetheless, I needed to get in a long run and I might as well come run somewhere new. I started out near the front, running with Tamsin Anstey and John Foy for the first 15 or so minutes. The trail was pretty flat and we tempo'd quite nicely, nothing extreme. I was starting to get hot in my vest and the rain was hardly noticeable, I stopped to take it off right before we started up our first ascent of the day. By the time I got back to running, they were gone and that was the last of them I would see on the day. This hill was long and my goal was to run the entire thing, which I did. I did it, even though others around me were walking it. Sometimes when other's are walking around me while I am running, it plays on my psyche, but I didn't worry about it, I just did what I knew I could do. I took it slow, nice and easy, and ran at a pace I knew I could sustain for a long time. After about 45 minutes of climbing I was stoked to get to some flats right after the first aid station. I got into a rhythm and kept a nice smooth pace. The trail was nice and you could see a few views but nothing spectacular yet. I wouldn't see much for the rest of the day because the cloud, fog and mist from the rain was covering everything. I was pretty into the run up until we started up some super steep climb to get to the top of Frosty Mountain. I had to slow right down and got into a power hike...a weak power hike at that. I just didn't have it in me to really push on this section. A couple of guys passed me and I was struggling to hold on. The weather had turned to shit and it was starting to get really cold. This whole situation was starting to remind me of the weather I experienced at this years Miwok 100km. From the start of the race we pretty much went 17km up to get to the peak of Frosty Mountain. I had been running so well and as soon as I was forced to walk, I mentally checked out. I stopped having fun. I started having negative thoughts about dropping out. The first 25km takes you back to the start finish area so dropping there would have been easy. I just kept thinking that I wasn't 50k race ready and that I didn't want to be out here. My heart just wasn't in it. I had also thought about waiting for Peter at the 1/2 way point and running with him. Then I thought about what he might say and the fact that he may have been feeling really good and would just blow by me anyways.

(John Foy, coming into the final aid station)

(Tamsin Anstey, coming into the final aid station)

Once I got to the top of Frosty Mountain, I started descending. It was steep and one wrong step and it could be over for me. I passed all the guys that passed me going up and that made me feel a bit better, although I still was battling with negative self talk. I wasn't gunning the downhills like a normally do. I haven't really done that for a while. It's been a long time since I have raced and I couldn't even remember what gunning a downhill at max speed felt like. But, I just kept moving, passing a few more along the way. As I ran downhill I started to come around mentally. I told myself that everything would be ok. I could just take the next 25 km easy and just enjoy it. I was in second place and not all was lost. I really wanted to enjoy myself, so I changed my mentality and race plan to make that happen. The last thing I needed was a DNF. The funny thing is, I didn't really end up changing too much, I just wasn't out there killing myself. This wasn't an A race goal or anything, I was just here to run, without expectations. I got rejuvenated after seeing the volunteers that I knew at the 1/2 way mark. I switched up my bag and kept moving.

The second half was flat for about a few km's and then back up another giant/long runnable hill. Again, I ran the entire thing, while the guy quite far back walked. No one passed me and I kept a nice smooth pace. It eventually got steeper and I was forced to walk. The next section consisted of 5 mini peaks. To get to he top of each peak, you needed to power hike relentlessly. There was no running up these. Whenever I thought that the peak I just went up and over was the last one, there would be another. It was brutal. But, I had a passed a few more guys and was feeling really good. I was having fun and didn't let any of it get to me. Once I started downhill I was loving life. I honestly wasn't pushing it but I was moving down at a good pace. Again, I chased down a few more guys. I ran out of water here and I really wanted to be at the last aid station. I probably ran for over 20 minutes without water. I needed to eat and I needed to take a salt pill because I was starting to cramp in my right calf and left hip. I kept moving and finally reached the last station. But, to my surprise, there was Peter, cheering me on. I asked him if he had rolled his ankle or something and he said no. He just didn't feel like running anymore. He seemed cool and content with his decision. There was apparently 8km to the finish. I was excited for it to almost be over. I was secretly hoping they lied or calculated the course wrong and there was really only 4km left to go! In the end, it was only 5km and so, what I thought would take about 40 minutes, took 25 (Yippy). I came in 2nd female in 5:45.

That course was one of the most challenging 50km's I was ever done. A lot of people compare it and their times to Knee Knacker 50km. I personally think the course is a lot harder. It's way hillier. It doesn't suite my strengths very well but hey, not all races will. I am sooo glad I didn't drop out. I am happy I talked myself out of the negative head space I was in. It's good to go through those tough times because they do happen in races, and if you have been there once and dealt with it positively, then you know you can do the same in another situation. Congrats to Tamsin for an awesome win and time (5:25!!!). Also, congrats to Chris G.T Downie for the overall win in 5:01. He also just recently won Sinister 7 (new course record) and Stormy 100 Miler in August. I once asked him a long time ago what the G.T in his name stood for, and he said "good times". So now I pretty much just call him 'Good Times Downie'. His girlfriend, Martina, won the 25km.

After a quick soak in the lake with Tamsin, I grabbed a Hot Dog and some corn on the cob. I hadn't had a hot dog in quite some time and I must say it was a delight. The race director and master baker, Godfried, had baked some homemade pumkin pie. It was killer!

I am glad to have that race out of the way. It was a great experience in preparation for Mountain Masochist 50 mile. It made me realize that I need to work on my power hiking, for some of the stuff I won't be able to run.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Interview with Ellie Greenwood

I have had the pleasure of knowing (but somehow never competing against) Ellie Greenwood for just over a year now. We seem to keep missing each other in a lot of big races. Or we do the same race, just in different years. I have always been impressed with her running and this year she just tore it up. She won Chuckanut 50km, Knee Knacker 50km, Stormy 50 miler...and more! I look forward to chasing her at Rubble Creek 26km on September 27th! She will definitely be hard to keep up with that's for sure.

Ellie Greenwood:

When did you get into running and even further, into trail running?

I had always run for fitness and enjoyed running some cross country at school but wanted to have a goal so decided to sign up for a half marathon, the Great North Run in the UK, the biggest half marathon in the world with 50, 000 runners! I loved it and then when I moved to Vancouver my boss was training for his first marathon so I jumped on the band wagon with him and raced Victoria in 2002. I’ve not really stopped since then. I remember seeing people running on the North Shore trails when I hiked them in my first summer here and thought it looked like a lot of fun but didn’t know how to get into it. A friend then introduced me to Club Fat Ass and from there I had an immediate group of welcoming and encouraging trail runners.

You are originally from the U.K, when and why did you decide to move to B.C?

I came to Canada for a year out after university in summer 2001, I got a job I enjoyed working with UK skiers in Jasper, AB and that then led to promotion and relocation to Vancouver (with a few summers in Norway and Switzerland in between!). I just ended up keeping coming back and eventually never leaving.

You have had a sensational year so far, even with the injuries you had in the middle of the season. How did you manage to come back from that?

Simultaneously, a painful SI joint and a ruined hamstring have been the first injuries to literally stop me in my tracks. I have had injuries I could run through before but this knocked me for six and I had no choice other than to take a total rest and invest in serious physio and massage (to which I am now a total convert). I eased back in slowly and cut back race goals dramatically, setting long term goals and took each day as it came. I spent more time in the gym doing any cross training that didn’t hurt than I care to remember, I even tried pool running (awful!) and I learnt to be (a little) more patient!

You seem to have a lot of close running friends here in Vancouver; did you find it easy to meet other runners?

There are so many great groups to run with in Vancouver, be they social road runners, competitive track runners or the crazy ultra girls and guys! I got out there and was up for any run – new distances, new terrain, new people - and so it was easy to make lots of friends. Runners, as a general rule, are a pretty welcoming bunch.

When did you run your first Ultramarathon?

Club Fat Ass New Years 50km, January 1st 2004. My friend bailed on me due to the weather but I was determined to run anyway. My boss was clearly worried I would not show up for work 2 days later so he drove me to the start, leant me his wife’s cell phone and then offered to run the last 25km with me – but I was too fast for him and he sneakily ended up getting a taxi to the end!! It was then probably in 2005 that I started racing other local ultras like Dirty Duo and Diez Vista.

You won one of North America’s most challenging races- Knee Knacker 50km AND you had the 4th fastest time ever for a female! What was your strategy going into it and how did you train for it?

I know that hills and steep climbs are not my forte yet I knew these were a major part of Kneeknacker so I worked like crazy on running what I had previously power hiked and powerhiking what I had previously crawled. I threw in Grind and BCMC repeats to work on speed on the hiking sections. Also, I got to know the race route like the back of my hand – I tried to make every Wednesday and Saturday training run so I literally knew every root and rock on the trail, and talked through race strategies with many of the awesome locals who have run this race for years on end. I had hoped I could sneak in under 6 hours so to run 5:36 on race day was a stellar result for me.

What does a typical training week look like for you?

This year I have done far less road running than usual (due to injuries) so typically I will do one long trail run – say 4hrs or so on the weekend, I will then throw in at least one other 2hr or so trail session in the week. On these I don’t worry too much about distance, more about time on the feet. I usually make it to the gym twice a week – for weights and core exercises but also at least an hour of cardio each time. I will then do a tempo style road run of about 12 – 14km and intervals on easy Stanley Park trails. I truly believe that road running and intervals help my ultra trail running – it keeps the leg turn over up and teaches you how to kick when you need it.

What are your future running goals? Any plans on running a 100km or 100 mile distance?

100 miles is a distance that still kinda scares me and right now I’d prefer to work on being faster as shorter (say 50km and 50 miler) distances. I’m targeting my first 100km race next year (training in Banff in the winter permitting!)

Not only did you break the Stormy 50 mile course record, you PB’d by over 50 minutes. What was different from last year?

2008 Stormy was my first ever 50 miler so this year I got the start line at least knowing what I had let myself into. I also think that my Kneeknacker training had vastly improved my running on the hills. But most important of all was that my stomach held so I could carry on fuelling properly right to the end of the race. In 2008 I pretty much stopped eating 5 hours into the race as my stomach was so churned up, and needless to say my pace dropped off dramatically. This year I was also fortunate to play cat and mouse with Adam Lint for most of the race so we really pulled each other long and the company was a great boost.

I know you are moving to Banff for work, can you tell us what you do? Also, Is Banff a permanent location for you?

I work for a UK tour operator that specialises in ski vacation packages. This summer I have been doing airport meet and greet but this winter I am back to being behind a desk, general admin, operational planning, contracting with hotels and ski resorts etc. The job move is permanent so so long as I can survive running in Banff year round then in theory the move in permanent. I will miss Vancouver and the BC running scene tones and I’ve never lived in one place for more than 2 continuous years, so who knows if/ when you’ll see me back!

Do you have a training buddy?

I have tones of training buddies! Friends at Pacific Road Runners keep me honest on my tempos, VFAC friends kill me on weekly intervals and my friend Mike is always up for a long run on the trails; he puts up with my ranting, raving and moans which is incredible and pushes me to the limit. There is nothing like a bit of friendly competition and it’s great to have a buddy to target the same races with. I also love to go on a girls trail run with my awesome friend Jackie as often as I can. The list could go on and on....

What was your favorite run of 2009 (doesn’t need to be a sanctioned race)?

Oooh, very hard question – all races/ runs have their merits. Running the Juan de Fuca 47km trail on Vancouver Island with a group of friends this summer was a lot of fun – awesome ocean scenery, magical forests and fun camping times.

Name one thing most people don’t know about you?

I have a degree in history – specializing in early medieval European social and religious history! Somehow I managed to end up working in Canada in tourism.

Can you provide any advice for someone attempting their first ultramarathon?

A 50km is only 8kms longer than a marathon, most people don’t run the full 42kms before marathon race day so don’t obsess with 50kms being some insurmountable distance. Link up with fellow ultrarunners, focus on getting training time in even if it’s slow. Oh, and practice what you will eat on race day – you can’t skimp on nutrition on an ultra (well, not if you want to enjoy it!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Not my usual Posting but a delicious one instead!

(This was taken off Google images...although it does look similar)

Not really a big deal but a reason to celebrate none the less. It was Peter and I's anniversary yesterday and usually we go run the Howe Sound Crest trail. We had already done it once this year and since were doing Frosty 50km on Saturday, we opted for a night in instead. I really wanted to make us something nice for dinner. My step dad was over from Powell River this weekend and he let me borrow his new cooking magazine. It was filled with amazing recipes and the best part, they were all designed for 2 people. That was fantastic because I am only ever cooking for Peter and I. Although, we do eat a lot and I am sure there is many a day where we could eat a meal designed for 3-4!

Tonight's menu:
Starter: Tomato and Bococcini Salad w/ fresh Basil topped with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Main: Seafood Risotto
Desert: I would love to say the strawberries and dark chocolate we bought, but it ended up being an evening out for desert- Gourmet Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Fudge Brownie w/ Caramel!
Drink: Can't forget to mention the wine- Los Finca's Malbec

The Risotto was absolutly to die for and I honestly can't wait to make it again!
I loved it so much I will share with you how to do it.

Seafood Risotto (alla resistance)

1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (8oz) bottle clam juice
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 small onion minced (about a 1/2 cup)
Table salt and ground black pepper
2/3 cup Arborio rice
Pinch Saffron Threads (expensive but worth it)
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 oz medium shrimp (41 to 50 per pound), peeled and deveined
6 oz sea scallops, muscle removed, quartered if large and halved if small
1 tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped fine
2 TBSP chopped fresh basil

1. combine the chicken broth and clam juice in a large microwave-safe measuring cup, cover, and microwave on high until hot, 1-3 min; set aside
2. Melt 1 TBSP of the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/4 tsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-5 min. Stir in the rice and saffron and cook, stirring often, until the ends of the rice kernels are transparent, about 2 min. Stir in the wine and cook until it has been completely absorbed, 1-2 min.
3. Stir 1 cup of the hot broth mixture and continue to simmer, stirring every few min, until the liquid is absorbed and the bottom of the pan is almost dry, 7-9 min.
4. Stir in 1/2 cup more broth mixture every few min as needed to keep the pan bottom from drying out (you may not need all of the broth mixture) and cook, stirring often, until the rice is al dente, 10-12 min.
5. Vigorously stir in the remaining 1 TBSP butter until melted, then gently fold in the shrimp, scallops, tomato, and basil. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and cool until the seafood is cooked through, 6-8 min, stirring once halfway though cooking. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

There you have it. Try it yourself! I served it with an Artisan multigrain loaf and it was killer. So was the french toast Peter made us for breakfast with the same bread.

I think I forgot to mention that I went to the Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, and Sarah Mclaughlin concert on Saturday. It was so much fun and I had such a good time. I was there with my step dad, brother, aunt and uncle and Peter. The artists were 'ON' and I couldn't have asked for a better venue than Ambleside Park. Simply spectacular. We didn't take many photos but here is one to set the mood.

Up for this weekend- Frosty 50km. Should be amazing and I do hope the weather holds because the views (I've been told) are amazing. This will be a good race for me to do leading up to Mountain Masochist. Tamsin Anstey is coming down to Mountain Masochist as well as Frosty. I suspect I will be chasing her down in both races, so it will be good practice. We are both hoping to gain a spot into Western states if we coming first and second female at Masochist. As long as were in the top 2, we will both be happy campers.

See you in the trails!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Secret Trails

Sunday night, Peter and I drove up to an undisclosed location because a good trail running friend of ours was putting us up in a hotel. She is planning a 100 miler for next year, somewhere in B.C. But before she can, she has to make sure all the trails are in good working order and that she can get all the necessary permitting. It's looking good but not 100% confirmed and therefore I can't disclose the location (upon her request). The weather was great overall but a little foggy in the first few hours. The section that Peter and I did was 35km. It is very runnable, although I can't say that for the rest of the event. It is almost completely single track and I am pumped to do this race myself if it does end up happening.
Some stats:
- The max altitude 7050ft
- The min altitude 2665ft
- The avg altitude 5595ft

Total climbing in the 35.4km 2520ft up with 6480ft down.

Enjoy the pics!

(Our friend had hiked in and wrote Peter and I's initials and wrote 3km with an arrow pointing in the direction we needed to go. It was fantastic!)

I have bought my ticket to Virginia. I am Mountain Masochist 50 miler bound!I am excited to go run on some new terrain. The race is November 7th, 09. Should be awesome. In my last blog I had thought about skipping it to do Haney to Harrison but the flight was cheap and I really wanted to try something new.

See you in the trails!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New adventures just around the corner!

I love this time of year! I don't know why really, but, I always seem to fall in love with it. Perhaps, it's the cooling of the air and the fact that the rain starts to fall once again. Luckily, the temps have been warm on those rainy days, thus running in the rain has been most pleasurable. I always find myself with new goals coming out of the summer trail season. Usually, they involve a little road running. I am unsure why the start of fall brings me back to the road, but it does. It's always a hard transition running on the road again, but I simply plug in my Ipod and I am good to go. I'll have to get a new one because I foolishly left it on the plan to whitehorse. I put it in the pouch in front of my seat, but got distracted chatting to the man who didn't talk for 17 yrs! I'll blame it all on him!

I was planning on doing Mountain Masochist 50 miler but I have checked out the prices for plane tickets and unfortunately, I think it may be a little out of my budget. I was hoping to place in the top 2 female category, scoring me a spot into Western States but I think I'll just try the old fashion way...applying! Also, there are about a thousand races I'd like to do, which are a little closer to home. I was just away for a month and it's time to get back to work and save for the upcoming race season/travel. I have my sights set on Haney to Harrison 100km. I ran well last year but I think I could do a lot better this year. Considering it was my first 100km and how much I suffered/slogged the last 21km, I think I have a shot at going sub 9 hrs. The better I do, the better shot I have at qualifying for Team Canada at the World Cup 100km in Gibralter, Spain (Nov, 2010).

(Me at Haney to Harrison coming into the finish, 2009)

A lot of people dislike the Haney to Harrison 100km. It may be due to the fact that it's all on pavement, it's usually horrible weather, and there are no aid stations. I honestly and surprisingly really enjoyed it. There is something soothing and almost meditating about being pretty much alone for 100km on a road. The only people you see are other racers crews waiting for them up ahead and cars driving along the highway. There are a crap load of relay teams that start 2 hours later but I only got passed by a few teams in the last 10km last year. Anywho, it's not 100% but I am thinking about it. Last year I swore I would join a relay team just so I could stay up late enough (8pm) to go to the famous after party but given enough time, it's so easy to change your mind. It's like I know I can always do better and there's that competitiveness within myself, telling me that I can do better than last time.

(Me and Haney to Harrison, 2008)

I asked Peter and he said he would crew for me again. He was the best crew person I could have asked for and kept me moving and fueled every mile for 100km. I look forward to what the fall brings in terms of racing. Up next is Frosty 50km, Rubble Creek 26km, and perhaps Victoria Marathon. Just over a month ago I biked to Powell River to visit my parents. Along that ride, I couldn't stop the thought of how fun of an adventure RUNNING to Powell River would be. If I do Haney, I think I will do it as my peak run 3 weeks out.

For now, I am heading to Manning Park this weekend to run the Heather Trail. I have never ran out there and am most excited to explore some new territory.

See you in the trails!