Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hanes Valley

(Hanes Valley)

My boyfriend Peter is one of the reasons I end up doing a lot of the more interesting adventures in my life. He is a true mountaineer, climber of every style, mountain biker, ski tourer, alpinist, and adventure runner. He has all the back country knowledge and if it weren't for his guidance, I would not have been to many of the places I have talked about in this blog over the past couple of years. I find him very inspiring and he just seems to come into his own when in nature. We do a run on the North Shore which we call Hanes Valley. It always starts off in the Lynn Valley Headwaters. You head out past Norvan Falls and turn L at the sign to Hanes Valley. Head up the boulder feild and back towards the Grouse Lodge. Many people end the run there and take the gondola down, however, we always run down old Mountain Highway and dart onto the mountain bike trails, taking us all the way back to the headwaters for a soak in the canyon. This is one of my all time favorite runs and I was stoked when Pete suggested we do it on Monday. This time however, he suggested he do it backwards with a slight deviation.

(We ran into the lovely and ever so pregnant Rachel at the base of Grouse Mountain)

(The first view point on the trail up to Grouse Mountain)

(Having a bit to much fun jumping in the snow)

Our only concern was the snow, but he was pretty sure the snow would be cleared off the boulder feild. We ran from our house to Grouse and hit snow once we reached Dam and Goat mountain. I won't lie and say I wasn't the least bit scared, I was a little, but kept the fear at bay as long as I didn't look down. I was being very cautious.

Peter was ages ahead of me, or at least he could have been if he didn't stop to wait. He even showed me what to do in case I started to slip down the mountain (elbows and knees in the snow)! We ended up going down some pretty steep stuff, and we were making fresh tracks in the snow. The snow was deep and cold (obviously) in parts and my shins were getting a royal thrashing. Of course, Peter, was well protected as he sported his zoot calf sleeves! It didnt take long to reach the boulder feild, which was completly covered in snow. I tip toed my way down, driving my heels into the snow, as I watched peter glisade down the slope on his 2 feet, as if he were wearing ski's! The snow quickly faded at the bottom of the boulder feild and we had a nice run back to the headwaters, followed by a soak in the canyon.

All in all, it was a great day and I can't wait to get out again for this run on a nice, sunny, snow free day!

Warning: Hanes Valley is technically closed and I would not recommend doing it unless you are very experienced in snowy and slippery conditions (I would not have done it if I weren't with Peter). On any given day, you never know what the snow will do, so be cautious if you do decide to attempt it. Do not go alone, and always tell someone where you are going. See you in the trails!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

R2R2R report

I had been looking forward to this trip for months, as I hadn't been on a trip since Novemeber. Peter scored a wicked deal and gave the trip to me as a birthday gift. We flew out of Bellingham at 10pm Tuesday night and arrived in Las Vegas around midnight. Besides my all inclusive trip to Mexico when I was 20 years old, this was the second time the passengers busted out in a full on applause/hooting and hollering upon landing. We checked in to the Hooter's hotel which, for all the slack I gave it prior to the trip, was actually rather nice. We ended up with a smoking room and I was a little weary, but in the end, the anti-odor sprays they use are quite good and you would never have been able to notice. Besides, it was the only room left with a king size bed, something we had been looking forward to!

Peter was eager to go partake in a little bit of gambling, so I changed out of my comfy airplane/travel clothes and into my one 'going out' outfit and we hit the strip. The only shoes I brought other than my runners were a pair of red flats, and thus, I sported those. Last time we were in Vegas, Peter had a lot of luck at the Flamingo hotel Casino, so we made our way there. We only made it a 1/2 mile before my feet started killing me. I guess my feet and ankles had swelled up quite a bit from the flight and due to the shortness of the flight, I decided not to wear my compression tights. Big mistake. I had seen another girl walking the streets bearfoot and although I thought that was pretty nasty, here I was doing the same. It actually felt really good, until I peaked at the bottoms of my feet only to see them jet black. I tried putting my shoes back on once we got to the hotel but my feet would just be on fire from the pressure. All in all, we had a great night and got back in at around 2am. I washed the soles of my feet and we went to bed.
We woke up the next day feeling rested. However, I had 4 giant blisters, one on each pinky toe and one on each heel!!!!! I was furious and couldnt beleive that walking a 1/2 mile in crappy shoes caused this. I drained them immidietly and carried on. We hurried on over to the car rental place and picked up our Nissan Versa which would be our escort for the next 3 days. We stopped by whole foods and grabbed some goodies for the day/night. We went over to a cheap grocery store and bought a stirofoam cooler to keep everything 'cool'. After 4.5 hours, and a drive over the hoover dam, we arrived in the Grand Canyon! The first glimpse of the landscape is stunning and is making me even more eager to get running. I had only ran once (4 hours) in the last 6 days (I was out for 3 of those b/c of my fall) and I just wanted to start! We set up our tent and ate an early dinner and went to bed around 8pm.

The alarm on my watch woke us up at 4:20 and after assembling our things we were on the shuttle bus by 5am and beginning our run by 5:30am.

(I think I look a little dazed and confused/half asleep on the shuttle bus)

We met some nice folks on the bus as well as a 2 guys who were running the R2R2R themselves, however they had made the journey before. Without going into too much detail, we descended 7 miles down the South Kaibab trail. The trail was beautiful and I felt so lucky to be where I was today.

It started to warm up almost instantaneously and we both delayered into t-shirts. I could feel where my blisters had been in my heals and figured I should probably deal with them now before they get worse. We were not even half way down the hill before Peter was helping me tape those up. The tricky thing was I had already sport sheilded (sport lube) my entire foot as to prevent any friction from worsening the once blistered area. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, the second skin had already made it's way down to the bottom of my foot.

We stop again and Peter goes to town on my feet. He makes donuts out of moleskin and uses duct tape to keep it all in place. From there on I felt good to go.

We passed 3 older guys (later 60's) who looked like season ultra runner's and were also doing the R2R2R. We stopped for water at Phantom Ranch which was the first water stop after the descent.

Here they have cabins/dorms where hikers can sleep as well as a mini restaurant. The next couple of hours were my favorite. The terrain was extremely runnable and meanders all along bright angel creek.

The temps were already starting to heat up but the breeze from the creek made it all that much more tolerable. Before long we were starting the big climb up to the North Rim. This was a long climb/hike and by now, it was hot, real hot, and really exposed. We finally made it to the top but the water pump was broken so we ran another mile to a campsite to fill up. I checked on my blister taping and again, it had slipped down. Peter to the rescue, he patched me all back up.

We headed back down the trail and passed by all those we had seen going up. We ran back into the older men that were out for this fun adventure as well. I wondered how they were doing and how long they would be out here today. The run back down flew by in a flash and before long we were back to the 'flats'. The trail seemed way longer going back to the south rim however, and the heat was starting to take it's toll. The heat was getting to Peter a little bit as I think he got a little behind in his hydration. We stopped many times to soak our caps and cool off. I savored every bit of shade that was given to us. I was drinking so much water I almost feared I was drinking 'too much'. Alas, I think it was the perfect amount. I was alternating my fuelling between Gu Gels and Gu chomps and that seemed to be working well. I haven't practiced using the chomps on any long runs but really enjoyed the break it provided from the gels. I think I'll stick with this for western states.

We breifly stopped at Phantom Ranch on the way to the South Rim to grab an ice cold lemonade. I remember reading Devon's blog about her R2R2R experience and the lemonade they had at this same spot. I couldnt help but want one, really bad. As much as I wanted to keep moving, the break was nice, and so was the Lemonade. We continued on along the bright angel trail. Peter was lacking the motivation to run much anymore, and considering the heat, I was happy to power hike. The next climb was long, really long. It's less steep than the initial descent we took at the start of the day but because of that, it's longer, and takes longer. It didn't matter though because the scenery was so stunning. We had layers of giant rock to our left and the colorado river to our right. As rafter's went by, I imagined myself swimming in it, and how good that would feel.

The climb had a lot of water stops, which was great and it broke up the climb really nicely. I couldnt help but continue to stare up at the top of the North Rim, which looked so far away and wondered how we were ever going to get up there.

My nutrition plan got a littler thrown off after having the Lemonade and there was a period of about 3 minutes where I just got cranky and tired. I quickly realized I was bonking and consumed a bunch of chews and came back to life, chipper as ever.

This part of the trail was completly shaded and thank god, because it would have been even more of a slog than it already was. I am not complaining though because it's hard to think negative thoughts when surrounded by this kind of landscape!

(At the end, looking quite fresh I'd say)

I was so excited to reach the top. We both were. We hugged, high fived, kissed, and collapsed. Ok, we didnt collapse, but we did sit. It took us 11 hours (with stopping my watch) or 12 hrs and 26 min (without stopping the watches). My blister dealings made for a slightly longer day, but that's ok, lesson learned. I wore flip flops for the rest of the trip!!!

We had reservations at 9pm (all they had) at El Tavorna, a place that came recommended. Before that though, we showered, and killed some time eating buffalo blue kettle chips and staring out overt the horizon. By the time we sat down for dinner, I was pooped. I could hardly keep my eye's open. I was also very indecisive of what I wanted to eat. I wasn't in the mood for much, although I devoured the biscuits they brought the table before dinner. I managed to get in a salad with goat cheese and a few bites of the mozzerela proscuitto thing I ordered. I'll admit, it was a bad choice. My recovery nutrition was horrible. I had no quality protein in their at all. Oh well, I more than made up for it the next day!!!!!

We woke up super early (5am) on Friday, packed our bags, ate some breakfast and began our drive back to Vegas. We ate lunch at whole foods and sat in the sunshine, sharing a couple beers before dropping our car back off and heading to the airport. We flew back home at 3:15, landed, and immedietly drove to the North Fork, for home-brewed beer and delicious pizza. It was the perfect way to end our trip. On the drive home Peter pointed out how weird it was that this morning we were eating breakfast in the Grand Canyon and now, several hours later, we were at home. It's amazing how we can travel in this day and age.

I ran this morning, and although the legs are a bit tired, and in need of a good massage, I feel great. I am now more than ever looking very forward to western states. 11 hours was the longest I have ever been running/hiking for and the thought of another 8-12 hours (maybe more...) is crazy!!!! The event is a little over a month away and the next few weeks of training are going to be key.

See you in the trails!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

That was pure awesomeness...

After 3 days off of running I took this body out for a nice 4 hour run. I left the house in shorts and a t-shirt and that was just perfect. Last week it was warm, but still chilly enough in the morning to wear arm sleeves and pack a pair of gloves just in case, of course, the sleeves always came off within minutes.

The run was pretty straight forward, home to deep cove and back along the baden powell. I didn't want to think about the route, I just wanted to run, and run I did. My legs were tired at the start but after a while they felt great which was super inspiring for this week's adventure to the Grand Canyon. I had Peter's ipod playlist dancing around in my ear and when no one was around (k, maybe a few hikers) I would bust out some air drums! I love air drumming, however, if you didn't know any better, you would think I had some sort of neurological disorder which causes my limbs to flail...

At one point, a classical song (mozart I think) came on, and momentarily, I actually started to become a ballerina. Yes, I was prancing, leaping, bounding, with my arms spread wide. It was great.

Alright, time to get packing as we leave tonight at 8:30 from Bellingham. Were flying with allegiant air and the cost of our fligt to vegas is $18 and back is $38!! I should mention as well that we are staying at a certain hotel that's famous for it's owls, at the whopping price of $20! Car rental for 3 days is $60. This will be one inexpensive trip.

See you in the trails!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Set backs...they're a part of training

Thursday morning, Peter and I left the house at 6am for a longer run in the woods! It was gorgeous out and not a cloud in the sky. I managed to get away with shorts, short sleeved shirt and arm warmers. A few weeks ago Pete and I moved to a new suite which is much lower down than where we were before. This is great because all of our runs now have more elevation gain and take longer than they used to. We headed up the steep mountain highway ascent, followed by a grunt up Dempsey to Breamar, where we were able to pop onto the trail. We followed the powerlines to mosquito creek and headed up a trail which we have run by several times, however, have never explored!

The sign at the beginning of the trail states "not well maintained"...they were right! But, with that said, there is obviously someone out there that does a little bit of work on it because it was well groomed in parts and the direction to follow is marked. The trail spat us out on the 6th switchback of old mountain highway. We proceeded to run up to seventh secret and down pipeline trail. I had never been on this Mt. Bike trail, which is crazy because it was sooo fun!!!! There was even a teeter-todder that I was a little hesitant to run over but with a little trash talking from Peter, I got the job done.

2 hours and 45 min later we were back at home and ready to take on the day.

Later that night I was feeling great and decided to plug in the ipod and hit the road for a change. I just wanted to get the legs moving and thought an easy road run would be perfect. I was no more than 15 minutes into my run when at the last minute I decided to run along the barkmulsh trail which runs along the highway on 25th street. I was feeling really fresh and as I descended off the barkmulsh and onto the concrete/gravel path, I took a massive bail. I supermanned it large but mostly all on my left side. There are literally scrapes on all body parts- ankle, shin, knee, thigh, wrist, forearm, shoulder, and both hands. Alright time to stop whining!!!

I could have run back home right away but because I was feeling so good, even after the fall, I just rolled with it and finished up the 45 minutes I had intended to do. I dealt with the wounds once I was home and hopefully it won't be too stiff tomorrow!!! There's nothing like a good fall to make you feel like a warrior...

I meant to post this last week, so it is a little dated. Since the fall I have taken it a bit easy. The scrape was very stiff and very uncomfortable and left me with little range of motion in my knee. Today, monday, I am finally ready to tackle a long run, which I missed out on over the weekend. I did manage to sneak in a hike up the BCMC on Saturday to get the leg moving and a hike up to Eagle Bluff at the start of Knee Knacker on Sunday.

Tomorrow Peter and I jump on a plane from Bellingham to Vegas to pursue our Grand Canyon adventure. R2R2R here we come!!!!! I am so excited, it is going to be shockingly beautiful!!!

I'll leave you with this little thought I had the other day. Have you ever thought about the word ENDUREance? I was thinking about it on my hike yesterday- our willingness to endure pain, suffering, joy, bliss, highs, lows, etc. I think that would describe some of the feelings we endure in an ultra.

See you in the trails!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Where did I go??

When I used to write in my journal as a younger kid, I used to start every entry off with "well,...". I am not sure why but in this case, it just feels write (fun play on words) so here I go.

Well, I have not written in what seems like forever. I love writing, it is one of my favorite things. Writing allows me to put all my thoughts down on paper (or computor) as if I am sharing them with the world. Lately however, I just didn't 'feel like' writing. I am sure it has a direct correlation with the way I had been feeling over the last week or so.

There hasn't been very many times in my life where I could say I felt 'down', 'in the slumps', or even 'depressed'. But, last week, I felt almost all of those things. Because of those feelings, I had nothing to write about. I kept up with training and a lot of it, but for some reason, I was lacking any joy/bliss/euphoria from my runs. I kept wondering why I was out there for so many hours and for what purpose. I even started to question my work, and then my future and so forth. It seemed as though I spent the majority of last week confused and very deep in thought. I just kept thinking to myself "what do I really want?". For some reason, this question is really hard to answer.

I have had the travel bug ever since I went to Europe for 3 short weeks with my family back in 2005. That was the farthest I had ever been and I had the time of my life. I loved the people, the culture, the food, the unfamiliarity, and most of all...the everyday adventure.

But then, yes, it happened, I started to get really excited. I started to realize that I have the world at my fignertips and I can do whatever I want to do. I have the power to change anything that I feel is 'holding me back'. I have the power to rearrange my goals. Instead of dreading the future, I got super energized by it.

I went on some fabulous runs, in some fabulous places, with some, yes I'll say it again, fabulous people! I was back! My attitude was back!

The week spent in shitsville sucked, but at the same time, I think it was necessary to re-access the direction I want my life to take. And with that said, there should be some more frequent writing on my blog. Below is just a little recap of last week and some of this week.
Adventeres of last week:

Monday (05/03): Rest day.
Peter's birthday! The body felt good but I really do like taking one rest day a week. Peter and I spend the afternoon climbing at the edge climbing gym. It was a great way to spend his birthday as climbing is his #1 passion. The rest of the day was spent sipping pitchers and hanging out with good friends at the black bear.

Tuesday: (05/04): 2:40
Today I did my usual run up to the top of Lynn Peak and back. This has become a staple run in my week and one I have come to look forward to. My quads were a bit tired today but I really don't remember doing to much quad pounding on Sunday.

Wed: (05/05): 50 min
This was a busy day for me and I squeezed in a short run just before dinner. My legs were tired and I took it easy and just enjoyed being outside.

Thurs: (05/06): 3:15
Peter and I went on an awesome run this morning. We ran from our house near Ross Road, over to Grouse/Misquito Creek, up skyline train (steep) to old Mountain Highway, down Pergint, up to seventh secret, down seventh secret/crinkem crankem/snakes and ladders, and back home. My body felt really good however this run was a little emotional for me as I was deep in thought (not always positive) for much of the run.

Friday: (05/06):
I worked from 5:30am until 3pm and I chose to go climbing with Peter instead of going for a run. We went to Sully's hangout which is a newer climbing craig in Lynn Valley. It was nice to be outside climbing today. However, Peter decided to 'test me' and purposly fell while he was lead climbing and due to my poor belaying position, I was instantaneously airborne and was flung into the rock. I was left with only minor scrapes and bruises on my left thigh!

Saturday:(05/07) 4:30
I went for an awesome run with Jen Segger and Adam Way. I was dying to run somewhere new and Jen was more than happy to show us some of the amazing trails in Squamish. I have only run there once, back in 2007, when I did stormy 50 miler for the first time. The memories of that race all came rushing back and it felt really good to be there. I can't wait to go back! Jen had to go catch a ferry and because Adam had never hiked he cheif we tagged that on at the end of the run. The day was gorgeous and we ended it with an avocado chicken burger at my new favorite spot, the Zephyr cafe.

Sunday: (05/08) 1:00
Today was the Sun Run 10km. There are over 56,000 people who participate in this event in Vancouver. A lot of people don't like it because it's 'too crowded' but to me, the fact that this many people get together to come out and run, is pretty awesome! I chose to run it with my aunt, uncle, and cousin. They did their first running race ever a few weeks back called 'My First Trail Race' and this was to be their second. We are all very close and it was such a pleasure to share this excperience with them. We all went out for Breakfast at Tommy's and enjoyed a great afternoon together.

Monday: (05/09) 4:30
Peter and I were meant to go to Lytton, B.C to run approx 60km but we were feeling a bit sleep at 5am and Pete wasn't up for the 7.5 hours of driving he would have to endure that day. The weather was perfect here and it only made sense to stay local. We did a car drop in Deep Cove and drove to the Knee Knacker start off the Caufeild exit. We followed the TCT trail all the way to cleveland Dam. We were there in 2:45 and I would do that as a run anyday. It was amazingly glorious. There was hardly anyone on the trail and it was so soft anbd lush. We continued to follow the Baden Powell all the way into the headwaters. Pete's ITB was starting to ache a little bit so we cut it short and didn't continue on towards the cove. I was happy with what we had accomplished and my body felt good.

Tuesday: (05/10) 1:45
Just wanted to do an easy recovery run. I went from home to the headwaters, around rice lake, and over to the debris shoot along cedar mills trail and return. It was an amazingly hot and sunny day and I followed it up with a much needed massage!

Wed: (05/11) I am about to head out now after spending a couple hours washing my car!!!!

See you in the trails.