Sunday, August 29, 2010

Revelstoke, Lake Louise and Star Chek!

The past 2 years (since graduating from University) have been the best years of my life. I have accomplished more in that time frame than I would have ever thought imaginable. I have been riding this incredible wave, sometimes feeling a little selfish along the way. I have been employing myself as a trainer and run coach, a job that has allowed me the freedom to pretty much do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. A freedom I never took for granted. I can honestly say that for the last 2 years, I have truly been LIVING my life...and to the fullest I will add.

The decision to go back to school to pursue a career as a teacher (long term goal: school counselor) has not been easy. I have spent the last year waffling on this decision. It is really hard to imagine a life without the type of freedom I have come to enjoy. Just as daunting were the thoughts of being back in the classroom or in the library studying instead of out running in the mountains, or playing on natures climbing wall. However, with that said, I have come to realize that self-employment is not for me. I am much more productive when I am busy. Left up to me, I will always choose less work and more play.

I initially went to school to become a Phys.ed teacher. After 2 yrs in the program, a rather brief experience coaching a girls soccer team had me re-thinking my decision. Another hindrance was that I didn't have a second teachable subject, something that is required. I never really found anything but psychology (not a teachable subject) interesting, a subject I was very keen to learn more about. I ended up switching specializations and graduated with a Human Kinetics degree in Health and Fitness instead.

With everything said, I have no doubt in my mind that this is going to be an amazing career for me. I have about 7 prerequisite courses to take in order to apply to the education program for next year. I will also tick off a couple more classes for the eventual master's in counseling psychology I require to be a guidance counselor.

With all of this in mind, I have taken the last week off work (and the week coming up) to really enjoy what remains of the summer before going back to school. Here is a picture album of my latest adventures. Last week Peter and I headed to Revelstoke to visit our friends Todd and Kristen. Worthy experiences to note: climbing in the Begbie Bluffs, summited Mt. Begbie (got my first dose of 'Mountaineering'), and a beautiful run in Revelstoke National Park. After that we headed over to Lake Louise for 2 days of picture perfect climbing with friends Eric and Eileen. However, a day of rain scared us back to the coast to spend 2 days climbing in Squamish. We climbed Star Chek (a multi-pitch on the Chekamus River), a bunch of roots at Rogues Gallery, and finished off the weekend with 3 other couples (+ a dog and 4 week old baby) climbing at 'Up Among the Firs" at Murin Park.

(Gearing up to cross the Glacier- note- cramp-ons over La Sportiva crosslites!)

(On the glacier, at one point Todd put a cross over a snow covered crevasse stating "Nicola do not step here or you will fall to your death")

(Revelstoke down below)

(Finally on the summit of Mt. Begbie at 9000ft, 7000ft of climbing)

(Down scrambling the North Buttress)

(Eric working on his 12.C project at Lake Louise)

(View of Lake Louise from our climbing spot)

(Climbing up Star Chek on the Chekamus River).

The weather looks like it's going to turn on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which means that tomorrow will see us hike/running up to to the peak of Black Tusk, followed by an evening of climbing at Sulley's hangout. Life is so good...

See you in the trails.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

North Gulley Scramble, Hanes Valley, Elsay Lake!

The adventures never stop, and so 'high school' summer break continues. Since my last post I have been climbing more than a handful of times. I even freaked myself to tears last week on a climb called 'Denice the Menace'-That was humbling (Thanks Pete).

Scrambling up the North Gulley of the Chief was something- something pretty amazing. It was supposed to be a rainy day but we managed to avoid it all together in Squamish, although it was a bit cloudy. Some adventures don't wait for good weather! After a couple hour scramble we found ourselves on the 2nd peak of the Chief and made our way down. We had a great lunch at the Zephyr cafe (mmmm to the avocado chicken burger)and decided to finish the day off doing a multi-pitch climb called 'calculus crack'. I really do like crack climbing but I have a whole lot more to learn about it that's for sure.

A day later my friend Kate and I headed hiking up Hanes Valley. I have only ever done this as a run and it was nice to take it a bit easier and take it all in, however we did run back down old mountain highway!

(The bears they kindly keep captive for everyone to see on the mountain)

On Monday, Peter and I took advantage of another beautiful day and decided to try something new - Hike out to Elsay Lake from Seymour Mtn. We had no clue how long it would take but we new it dropped down quite a ways over about 8.5km. The hike was stunning, as were the views. The lake was huge and not another single soul was there. Bliss! I was somewhat dreading the hike back because we had dropped down about 2000ft but every steep section was quickly relieved by a traverse or ridge line that allowed for a change of pace (and rest). It ended up being 2.5 hours each way for a total of 5 hours. Not bad! If we were to have run it, I am sure it could be done in 4 hrs (or less for you fasties).

Tomorrow we leave for a trip to Revelstoke to visit our friends Todd and Kristen. I had the privileged of attending their wedding 2 years ago in Leadville Colorado, the home of the mighty Leadville 100, which Kristen had done herself a month before her wedding! I didn't know them that well then but have since spent much more time with them (although not enough) and I can't say how excited I am to go hang out- they are a lot of fun! After that we are heading to the Rockies to climb and hike/run. I am stoked! Will post pics when I can.

See you in the trails!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cal-Check, Colloseum Mtn,Sulley's and The snake!

Last weekend Peter and I, as well as 3 other friends (Meg, Joe and Nicole) went camping in Squamish with one goal in mind- To climb! And climb we did. Saturday morning, megs picked me up (Peter had to work until 2pm) and the 4 of us went to score a camp site. It was the long weekend and we were in a bit of a hurry to secure one before they were all gone. Luckily, we came at the perfect time because there were 2 left. We set up shop and went directly to the climbing craig in Cal-Check. We did a few nice and easy warm-up climbs and once Peter came, decided to head somewhere new. I haven't learned to lead climb yet but that is on the "to do very soon" list. Not long after we got there, the gods from above started rebelling by unleashing some thunder and lightening. After one more climb we all knew it would be best to get back to the car. We timed it perfectly because just as we arrived back at our vehicle, it started to downpour!

We went back to the campsite but were forced to have a party in the car for an hour or so. We made some dinner as the rained drip dropped from above and went to bed shortly thereafter. Of course, I couldn't just spend a weekend climbing without getting out for a run! Before we set out climbing for the day, Peter and I went for a run on the sea to sky trail, which heads towards whistler. It was an easy, non-technical trail with just enough hills to remind me of how out of "running" shape I am after taking nearly 5-6 weeks off due to injury (after ws100). We spent the day climbing at Murin lake and it was fabulous. It was overcast but the air was warm and perfect. These 2 days climbing with great friends left me incredibly stoked to climb.

The next day peter and I decided to go for a long hike up Colloseum Mtn. It's a hike that starts from the headwaters and goes to Norvan Falls and then heads up and up and up until you reach the most fantastic view at the peak. I think it took us around 3.5-4 hours to get up and a couple hours to get back down. We spent about an hour at the top, eating lunch, napping and ooing and awwing at the beauty we had all to ourselves. As Peter stared down at the city he couldn't help but comment on how there could be hundreds of thousands of people down there and we had this place all to ourselves. Crazy!!!!!

(it looks silly- but it on Buckley's cough syrop!)

(Catching some zzz's)

(munching at the top of Colloseum)

We climbed a few more times throughout the week at Sulley's hangout, which is about 15 minutes from our door. There is this one climb called Lubo (11a) and it just kills me. It has about 4 crux's and the second one has proven to be my nemesis. After many attempts I finally got to the top but not without a few falls. I am determined to do it the next time I am there, without bailing. Yesterday, Peter got off work early and we headed up to Squamish to climb a multi-pitch route called the Snake (5.9), which is a climb on the Apron. I think there were 6 pitches, with the last 3 being a little more challenging than the first. After that, Pete took me up one more route which was the hardest of the day. I think it couldnt have been more than a 5.10a, but the holds were small and the footing was minimal. I have just learned recently how to trust my feet, and it has made a world of difference.

I got out for my longest run since western today, a whopping 2 hours! It felt great though and I had no hamstring/knee pain! I have been running everyday since I was able to get treatment on my injured area which seemed to have solved the issue. It's crazy how running just makes me happy. I am just not the same when I can't run, although I do my best to stay positive. Somehow, it just seems to keep my body and thoughts all in balance. I find it also keeps me motivated. When I am not running, I am just not that motivated.

Anywho, it looks like I am going scrambling in Squamish tomorrow. This should prove to be interesting because I can't say I've done much scrambling in my day. Am I excited though? HELL YA!

I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend and good luck to everyone doing Stormy 50/100 mile today. I will post some pictures of all these adventures very shortly after I get Pete's camera to download them.

See you in the trails!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Re-analyzation- Taking time to think!

I admit, it has been a while since I have written. I am sure part of me feels a bit weird writing about subjects that are non-running related, seeing as how this is a "running blog". However, due to a slight tight hamstring "thing", that was presenting itself on the side of my knee, I have not ran more than a handful of times since Western. This has been more than O.K with me because it has provided me the opportunity to explore a whole new side of myself.

I kind of anticipated that after Western States I was going to take a little bit of a break from "competing". I will admit it and say that I was a bit burnt out. Ever since I was 6, I have been competing in sports and that pressure to perform to my best has always been present.

When I first started running 5 years ago, I did not feel that pressure. Each new distance conquered felt amazing and gave me a new sense of joy and fulfillment. I can still feel the emotions I felt after completing my first marathon, 50km, 50 miler, and now recent 100 miler. I have never had a "first" I did not absolutly love. Looking back, I am sure it is because I never put any pressure on myself to be the best; I just wanted to finish and have fun.

Somewhere in those 5 years, something changed for me. Because I did fairly well at running, all of a sudden it became another thing to be competetive at. Each time I did a distance or a race I had already done, I put more and more pressure on myself to acheive a certain place or time. I put pressure on myself to get in a certain amount of hours on the trail, without really enjoying every minute of it. I just did it because I should and it's what other people do. It's hard not to get caught up in what other people (who are at the top of their game) are doing (especailly when you are not sure of what you were doing!).

I guess what I have realized is that, for me, getting to serious about running, takes away the fun of why I do it. I don't want to think about how many hours I "should" be putting in on the trails, or if I am doing enough (speed work).I want to be out there because I WANT to be out there. I think that is why I am always trying to do something new- because whenever it is a first (distance/race), I go have an absolute blast.

A little while before Western I had decided to take on this more relaxed attitude. This strategy seemed to work for me because it allowed me to really take in the experience. No matter what my training, I will always go into an event and give my best. I simply just become a completly different person. It's the worry and fear before the event that seems to kill me.

In the end, the break is just a way to give my psyche a mental break from the stress and worry about racing and to re-analyze why I do this and what I really love about it. With all this said, my result at Western States, left me feeling re-charged and ready to go. However, after being injured for a few weeks, I thought it was best to settle down.

Now, a break for me doesn't mean not running or signing up for events. At this moment, I have no race goals (except for the world cup 100km in Spain in November
If I get accepted onto the team-I'm the 2nd alternate). I will take everything as it comes. Peter and I have a long list of mountain runs/fast packs we want to check off this summer.

Since then however, I have really enjoyed exploring myself as a climber. My boyfriend Peter has been climbing for 17 years and has taken me out numerous times in our near 3 years of being together. With that said, he has been climbing way less than before we met because we have been persuing our running goals together. This past weekend we climbed with some friends in Cal-Chek, just passed Squamish on the way to Whistler. I had so much fun. Words can't describe how challenging climbing is for me and how rewarding it is to reach the top of a hard climb. It's harder than any of the sports I have ever played and the challenge truly is endless. There will always be something harder. I groan, I moan, and sometimes getting to the top just isn't pretty. Just like running, climbing can take you to some of the most beautiful places in the world.

Our weekends are jam packed with trips to places we have always wanted to explore in B.C. Hopefully, a mountain bike will also present itself in my near future!

To sum, life is good. My hamstring/knee is cured and I can't wait to take my exploration to the next level whether it be by trail shoe or rock wall!

See you in the trails!!!