Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Coming into the finish!

Around the Lake Giv'r take is one of my favorite races of the year. It consists of 30 glorious kilometers up, down and around Cultus Lake, where the race starts and finishes. The race is organized by a few folks from the Vedder running club and they do a hell of a good job. The entry always includes a great hoodie and the volunteers all bring food for afterwards. The food is really what makes the race as there is delicious warm soup, meats and cheese plates, and enough home baking to feed an army! I am such a sucker for home baking so maybe that is the reason I really love this race. I have done this race twice before and have been fortunate enough to have won and taken home the greatest prize ever: A hand carved walking stick.

Kerry, myself, and Dirk, the overall winner post race!
As per usual, it was a grey rainy day but I was very excited to get out running. This is a race I always go balls out and give it my all. The course begins with a short loop  around the residential area near the water which spreads the field out before we get onto the single track trail. At this point you head straight up and climb steeply for a while. I usually run this entire section as my hiking skills on steep trails is just not fast enough. Today was no different and I ran whatever I could. Peter was right behind me pushing the efforts, however he was hiking steadily while I ran. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the road before we get to go downhill and I am always incredibly relieved and ready for some fun. I had Peter pushing me from behind and stayed motivated to run fast through this section. We leap frogged with a guy who was very strong on the short uphills here but we would quickly pass on the downs. Eventually we got out onto a flat gravel section and Peter said "have a good day" and then I was all alone.

To make a long story short, the 2nd half was awesome and if you are not climbing your going downhill. There are only 2 longer climbs of about 10 minutes each and everything else is undulating and fun. I managed to catch all the other women who were doing the relay and pass a few more guys doing the solo. In the end, I finished 1st female and 2nd overall behind my good friend Dirk. I was a bit off my old course record but could not have gone much faster on the day. I had such a blast! Dirk you are one fast 46 year old mofo! I salute you!

I was stoked to add another hand carved stick to the collection. Thanks again to the Vedder running club organizers for putting on another fantastic event. Rain or shine it's always fun. Thanks to all the volunteers who cook up the best spread of post-race goodies! This is a race to put on your fall list for sure.


- 1 ultimate direction handheld bottle (my favorite)
- La Sportiva team shirt
- La Sportiva crosslites
- Defeet socks
- 3 cliff gels (vanilla)
- La Sportiva Headsweats Hat

See you in the trails!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The weather we are having in Vancouver/BC is just craziness. It's reminding me of my time in Australia where I woke up to sunshine everyday. Even though this streak is coming to an end later on this week, I can look back and say that I have taken full advantage of it.

Lot's of changes have occurred/or not occurred over the last couple of months- the biggest one being that I decided after 2 days of massage therapy school to "drop out".  Yup, it only took 2 days in a classroom to realize that this is not where I should be. I followed my guns and have no regrets. For some reason, I only saw going back to school (again) as a means of closing a lot of doors versus opening new one's and it's hard to want to be somewhere with an attitude like that. I wouldn't say that is my attitude with most things so I took it as a sign that it wasn't meant for me at this time.

Some of the fun things I have gotten up to lately are:

- Howe Sound Crest Trail: Five years ago, I began a journey with the love of my life and we decided back then that our anniversary was the day that we first did this run. It also happens to be one of the first long adventure mountain runs I ever went on. On this day, the weather was terrible, and there was not a view to be seen. To this day however, out of the 5 times I have done this route, this one is by far my most favorite. Sometimes it's not about the views, but about the adventure and I definitely got my fill of it that day. Peter and I do it every year (usually with some close friends) on Sept 16th to celebrate our anniversary (corny I know).

- Coliseum Mountain to Burwell: A week after doing the HSCT, we made out way up coliseum and over to the peak of Mount Burwell. It was a foggy Sunday morning and it was hard to believe that there was no one on the trail. As we climbed higher and higher it was hard to tell if we were going to be rewarded with any views at all. As we got above the trees however, we got above the clouds and were blessed with the most amazing view I have ever seen. All we could see were pillows of clouds with peaks popping up out of nowhere. Slowly the cloud burnt off and this underworld was revealed. It was just THE BEST!

Juan De Fuca: I had a few days off for the thanksgiving weekend and decided I wanted to head out for an adventure (what else is new?). I called up my friend Jenni and asked if she wanted to go run the JDF. As someone who likes to get out and play as much as I do, Jenni excitingly obliged. We drove up Saturday and set up tent in the parking lot. After a good night sleep, we were off and 47 beautiful km's later we were at the finish. Peter asked me what the favorite part of my run was and I had to say the sound of the waves crashing. There is something so calming and about being next to or near the ocean. To top things off it was a bluebird day and the trail so heavenly dry, as usually it is very muddy. We hitchhiked back to our car and the mission was accomplished.

There have also been some amazing mountain bike rides and climbing adventures thrown into the mix.

I have taken advantage of every lake swimming opportunity that has been presented to me since I have been back from my travels. I had this huge sense of disappointment weighing on me because I didn't do more of this while I was away in NZ/Aus. I passed up so many opportunities on some of my adventures there because I wasn't prepared with a towel or a bathing suit. Now, I just don't care and deal with being wet or just go dipping in my skinny. This way, I have no regrets!

I have been so inspired this year by so many people (especially you mom!) and it has really driven me to get out there! Keep it coming!

As Brooks says- Run Happy!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012


My boyfriend and partner in crime, Peter, has been working his ass off the last couple of months getting our local running shop, North Shore Athletics, back up and running.  It went into receivership a few months ago and to make a long story short, he worked there for 10 years, there was a hiccup with the owner, Peter left, just shy of a year later the store went bankrupt, and eventually was bought by new owners (Kintec) who hired Peter back as the manager (smart owners!) and kept the NSA name.

I think he and his co-workers have done an amazing job thus far and it is so great to get back in the place where my running career began. Peter has thought up a few neat ideas and one of them has been the local FKT's.

What is an FKT you say? Well, FKT stands for 'fastest known time' and essentially it's a speed record. There is an official website where people can post their FKT's for well known routes such as the West Coast  and Juan de Fuca Trails. Together, we have decided on a few local routes that we love and have posted them on a white board in the store. We have 5 routes right now but we do foresee this list growing in the future. This is totally done on the honor system and meant to be something fun for the running community to take part in and perhaps mix up their speed training routines. I should also mention that there are spots for both Female/Male and Masters Female/Male FKT times. There are also descriptions of the routes in the store where you can get exact start and finish locations for each route.

Peter and I have always run together but in the last couple of years that has fallen off as he took an extended break from running after completing the Western States 100 in 2010. We used to do the majority of our speed work together an often got into a cat and mouse kind of game together out on the trail. Since his leave of absence from our training partnership I have done little to no speed training and it's so nice to be doing this again. However, I am not very motivated by intervals at the track so these FKT's are a pretty fun way to get in some speed/tempo work. We threw down the first Short Lynn Loop one's today but both of us are recovering from being sick so I think these times might be a bit soft....good starting point for some challengers!!!!!

I look forward to seeing these times fall and to see who comes out to challenge them!

See you in the trails...

Monday, September 3, 2012


All I can say about this experience is: AH POOP!

I had a pretty relaxing week leading up to the race and was excited to run the first ever Meet Your Maker 50 miler in Whistler. After reading the course description I just couldn't imagine not doing it. Peter was also doing a leg on an NSA/Kintec relay team so we both would get to run. We packed up, drove to Squamish and did a climb up the Chief, which was really nice as I hadn't been climbing in forever. After that we went up for package pick-up and got to chit chat with some friends before the pre-race dinner at Merlin's Bar. Totally tasty. Then quickly off to bed.

Morning came way too soon with a 4am alarm and a 6am start time. The start was a bit chilly and was eager to get going. I started out with Kathy McKay and Marieve Legrand but quickly backed off the pace just a tad as I new this was going to be a long day. Within no time Kathy was out of sight and I wouldn't see her again until I watched her come into the finish, 1st female! Before long I was running with Marieve and we stayed within eye sight of each other for quite a long time along Comfortably Numb. I love Marieve, she is such a rockstar and it is always such a pleasure to be running with her. Comfortably Numb is one of my favorite running trails. I ran the entire thing hoping that it wasn't going to tire me out too much.

My body felt a bit off from the get go. My quads felt tight and I developed a pinch in my groin which I could feel all the way along comfortably numb. At this point my mind started to get a bit negative but I brought music which seemed to defuse the negativity. I reached the 3rd aid station at base 2 of Blackcomb and saw Peter where he aided me by filling up my camelbak as I darted off to the porta-potty. I didn't say a whole lot to him as I wasn't in the best mood and quickly left. I felt pretty bad as he had just ran 30km and I didn't even think to ask "how was your day" until I had left the aid station. I moved pretty well up Blackcomb and ran everything that I could. There was quite a bit of hiking which helped alleviate the groin discomfort. You start the climb with a straight up grunt up the ski hill which then switches into a gradual and mostly runnable climb up the gravel access roads. Once we got to the 7th Heaven chair we started hiking up a beautiful single track trail which then switched into a stunning and scenic rocky train that took us all the way to the Peak to Peak chair. There were so many hikers but they were all so incredibly polite. They'd see me coming and yell "runner" and then step aside so I could pass. Every single person I saw did that. It was unreal. Then I got the most warm welcome into the aid station as everyone was cheering at the top of their lungs.

I was pretty stoked to be at the top (in 2nd place for the females) and after a quick stop at the aid station I eagerly boarded the Peak 2 Peak gondola. There was one other couple and a family of 4 in their with me and I think they must have thought I was pretty weird as I kept moving (mostly stretching) the entire time, while everyone else sat down and relaxed. I had been wondering how the following descent down Whistler was going to feel after having stopped running 15 minutes prior and I can tell you, pretty much from step one- it felt awful. The trail was very steep and with every step it felt as though someone was stabbing the sides of my knees. Now, I love downhills, they are why I run and I was pretty disappointed to be in so much pain. I was forced to walk a bunch of it and spent the entire timer wondering if I should continue on. I got to the aid station at the bottom of the hill and quickly told peter that my knees were in a lot of pain. He suggested I stretch them and keep moving. I had been stretching my ITB and hips on the gondola but that didn't seem to do a whole lot so I think I just grabbed some water, food and fled. Peter told me it was only 8km to the next aid station so not too far.

After about 1 km the pain went from pretty painful to debilitating and I could no longer run. In hind sight I should have gone back to the last aid and called it a day but I was hopeful that maybe I could massage it out and it would come around. In the end, it never did and I just walked it out to the next aid station, which ended up being 12km instead of 8km. It's a shame because that section of trail really suited my running style. It was hard watching everyone go past and asking what was wrong. I definitely had a few teary moments but in the end, what could I do. I dropped out with only 19km to go but it was a pain I could not push through and I am not one to resort to pain killers. At the beginning walking didn't hurt and I was enjoying the hike but by the end of the 12km, I could hardly walk without pain. Thankfully Peter had been told about my state and came out to find me on the trail so I had someone to walk with for the last km or so.

In the game of utlra running-you win some and you lose some. Some days your body feels great and some days it doesn't. I could tell I was probably still fatigued from Transrockies and the training I did after it as I kept nearly biffing it repeatedly in the first few hours (a sign of fatigue). I was still totally stoked to have run 60km because the terrain was just stunning and so fun. I would most definitely come back and do this race again and would recommend it to anyone. It is a challenging course and the finish times are much longer than most 50 milers but the trails and the scenery are next to none. AND you get to ride in a gondola (which I am still debating whether or not that is a good thing)!

Huge congrats to Kathy for such a steller performance. I am so impressed and inspired by your achievement considering you had also just raced transrockies and it was your first 50 miler! Congrats to everyone else who was doing this as their first ever 50 miler- you chose a gooder! Thank you to the race directors, volunteers, and NSA/Kintec for the entry. There were so many amazing volunteers out on the course marshalling and manning aid stations. There is no doubt that I will be back!

See you in the trails...but maybe not this week :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Shauna and I celebrate our 2nd place finish!
 Finally, the last day has arrived. I am not sure how the body just keeps going and going when it's tired and sore but some how it does and mine just felt better and better the closer we got to day 6. All we had was a supposed 19 miles, which as it turned out got extended to 23. I remember this stage well from 09' even though it ended up being a tad different this year. I remember feeling good and running a lot of the hills.

We started with 3 miles of road from Vail to the trail. The start was changed because there was a Grandfondo happening at the same time. When we finally reached the trail it was just as I had remembered...a ton of switchbacks and many of them runnable. I love this section and had a blast hanging on behind Shauna for the first while. We were moving pretty good and I was thinking how 3rd place would have to be moving pretty good to catch us today. But then I thought I saw another open women's team behind us. Once I could get a better look, it was just a guy with a pony tail! We eventually got onto a steep trail that climbed straight up for quite some time and it seemed like a the aid station was getting further and further away. It was supposed to be at 7 miles but one guy's GPS said 9. something and we still hadn't seen it. I was out of water at this point and getting hungry and really just wanted to see it and be done with this climb.

We hit it moments later and refilled out packs and away we went. We had seen 2 of the open mixed teams there as well and after asking what the hell they were doing way back here, they said they got lost and took a detour. I remember noticing a fork in the trail where if you weren't looking up, you would've easily missed the flagging to go right, which is exactly where they got off track. Unfortunately for them, the trail went straight down and they had to climb all the way back up!

Again, I loved the downs....just always so fun, especially single track! This next section was rolling and flat at times which was a bit mentally challenging but we soldiered on, walking when we had to. Then we descended a very narrow trail which was very rocky and you really had to pay attention as it would've been very easy to roll an ankle. After passing through a small tunnel, we ended up on the road again, where we would remain for another 3 miles or so to checkpoint 3 in Avon. The road sections were hot and all I wished for was some cushioned runners at this point! I was still feeling good though and we ran pretty much everything from here to the finish. I just wanted this thing done and knew that it would just drag on if we didn't run in it. Shauna had no issues responding and we finished this stage in the same time as the day before. A big hug at the end signaled the finish of 6 long amazing days together.

Jenny and Pam celebrating their win at the finish. Nice outfits ladies!

Shauna was the best partner I could have ever asked for. Her laid back personality makes her really easy to be around and we shared a lot of laughs out there on the trail. I pushed her and she pushed me but for the most part, we just worked together. There was never any drama- simply good times. The finish banquet was fabulous and it was amazing getting to sleep in a real bed again!

We drove for 2 days and got home on Tuesday night, just in time to see the birth of my brother`s son. I can`t believe the timing! Thanks Jess for waiting for me.

Carston Mathias Gildersleeve!
Thanks again to the guys at La Sportiva who were so generous over the course of the week. It was great to meet the guys behind the scenes as well as some of my other teamates who came out and raced as well as volunteered. TRR is such an amazing event. I know I said I`d never do it again while I was running but now that it`s over and I totally want to go back.

It`s great to be back on Vancouver soil and back running in the sick single track on the North Shore Mountains. It`s nice to be able to run up hills without feeling like my lungs are going to explode!

Next up: Meet your Maker 50 miler in less than 2 weeks time if the body allows for it!

See you in the trails!


Day 5 is always a tough day mentally for me. My body is tired, sore, and it's just a long day out there with quite a fair amount of elevation gain. I believe today's stage was 23 miles and you begin with 8 miles of steady climbing up a logging road. We had a nice crew to run with at the beginning but eventually parted ways once we got into the single track. Again, Shauna pulled me up the mountain as I was just lacking energy and having trouble eating. All I could do was put my head down and put one foot in front of the other. Shauna also thought she saw the 3rd place Go Go Girls which had me running scared. The views today are also stunning and all that climbing was worth it in the end to be surrounded by beauty.

There was a camera man up near the top who was looking for some fancy dance moves, so I busted out everything I knew hoping it would make the final cut! I brought a camera today but sadly I think I only took one photo...how terrible is that! My favorite part of today was of course when we got to go back down the mountain into Vail. It seems as though the only time I feel good, is on the descents. The year Peter and I did the race we ran down the entire road...something like 8-9 miles of it which was pretty hard on the quads. Today however, we got to run down an actual single track trail and a mtn bike trail called Fred's Lunch before finishing right in town. We finished this stage in 4 hrs and 41 minutes with the same guy (Matt) we finished the day before with.

Immediately after, we ran to the creek to soak our legs! God it felt good! I spent the rest of the day relaxing under the La Sportiva tent, chatting with the rest of the team and checking out next years clothing line! There is some super cute running wear coming out by La Sportiva so look out for that next year! The dinner they put on in Vail is also a step up from the other days. They bust out some BBQ's and roast fresh veggies and pineapple, do a prime rib, and some amazing salads we didn't have on the other nights.

Another memorable thing about tonight was that there was an outdoor concert literally right across the road from tent city. The genre sounded like some serious R&B music that went pretty late. When we selected our tent location Shauna was all concerned about being close to some rowdy foreigners but I had to laugh because after the concert started, I think they were the least of her worries!


Today was another short day- 14 miles. However, whenever there is a short day, there is usually always a big climb. We started where we finished yesterday and had another 2-3 miles of logging road to start the day. It was great to see Everett and Jonathon, 2 great guys who work for La Sportiva out of Boulder Colorado out running today. After the road we got onto a wide trail that just went up and up and up. I remember this hill very well from last time and its just a grunt to get to the top. Once at the top however, you are rewarded with beautiful views!

It wasn't too long before we made our way back down the hill towards Redcliffe where I could just taste the margaritas and Fish Tacos that awaited us! The descent was fun and steep. I bailed once, right after thinking to myself how great it was that I hadn't fallen yet on this trip. A few people were trying to help and offer me assistance and band-aids but of course being the angry faller that I am, I just got filled with adrenaline, kept my head down, said no and ran away. I had to apologize to those afterwards.

A relaxing finish to the day back at Nova Guides
 We ran through a ton of creeks on the way down, which was very refreshing, and were joined by 2 others as we rolled over the finish line in a 4-some. Minus the fall, today was super fun and we managed to keep it consistent by coming in 2nd place in our category again. I didn't feel terrible but I can still notice how the altitude is holding me back. Nothing that some alcohol and fish tacos wouldn't fix! Team La Sportiva sat down to enjoy a nice lunch together, under the sun at Mangoes before heading back to Nova Guides to hang out for the rest of the day. I finally made time to do some rolling and stretching which I watched everyone else get massaged!


DAY 3: Leadville to Redcliffe

Today we started from downtown Leadville. It just so happened that Todd (one of Peter's best friends), his wife Kristen, and their brand new baby Lucy Pepper, were in town from Revelstoke crewing one of Kristen's friends in the LVT100. Todd and Lucy came out to the start line and it was SO great to see them! The race starts with about 2-3 miles of road and then you begin running on the longest fire/ATV/logging trail of your life. It just seems to go on and on forever and Shauna did a great job dragging my butt through this section. Eventually though we got onto some sweet single track and my legs just opened and I was able to get into a nice rhythm. We finished the 24 mile day with 2.7 miles of flat logging road and it wasn't long before we cruised out way into the finish at Nova Guides.

I was pretty happy to have the longest day of the race over with and after grabbing a chocolate milk (Vanilla flavor) it was right into the small lake that was next to the finish to soak our tired legs. We came in as the 2nd open female team again and a fair distance back from first.  Pam and Jenni were just crushing it!

Shauna and I went into town today to do some laundry and afterwards we went on a nice 24 mile detour on the 91....oops. 50 miles later and we were back on the 24 en route to Nova Guides, where we were to camp for the next 2 nights.

Shauna and I at the start in Leavdille

Shauna with the Donnelly twins!

The highway on route to the trails

As always dinner was great and the awards, speeches, and slideshows are always super fun to see and watch. Shauna and I even mustered up the energy to sit at the campfire tonight and listen to some live music. Besides feeling pretty sore at the end of day 3, it was a great day.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Day 2: Up and over hope pass- 14 miles

Shauna and I on Day 3 (not this day)

This stage is always a tough one for me, well half of it anyways. I can remember when Peter and I did it in 09’ and I slogged up the hill, however we kicked ass down the hill, finishing in 2:05. I think then though the stage was only 10 miles.

The day was blue bird, so gorgeous! I had a really bad sleep the night before and I just had dead legs to start the day. I guess I wasn’t the only one feeling like this however because we were leading a train of about 8 men behind us. We “power hiked” the entire way up and I was so happy to reach the top. The air was thin up at 12,500 ft but the views were breathtaking. There were even some llamas at the top!

The downhill was just as fun as I remember but I ran it a bit slower today. Shauna was the powerhouse today and led the way from start to finish. I had a really tough time nutritionally as well and found it hard to get in enough calories. I find the altitude makes it a little bit harder to eat. In the end, we came in 2nd in our category in a time of 2:58.

Gordy, (invented the 100mile rune) and I

Ryan Sutter, for anyone who is not familiar with this guy, is the winner of the first ever bachelorette. And, he is the only winner still with his mate. This was many years ago but I watched that entire season , so I am very familiar with who he is. He and his TRR partner were with us most of the day but I didn’t even realize it was them. We ended up soaking our legs in the lake together and I had to tell him how I had watched his entire season, plus the TV wedding! Soaking the legs was great and this one guy dove in and it just looked so refreshing, so I did the same. Heaven!

The open womens top 3
Shauna and I spent the day in Leadville and had some awesome pizza from high mountain pies. Dinner was scrumptious as usual and it was great getting to see all the video and photos from the day. Hopefully my legs will feel better tomorrow…after all the food I’ve consumed today, I better hope so!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


We made it! And in one piece! Which is surprising because I pretty much learned to drive standard on the drive to Colorado. I can now say that I am a pretty competent Manual driver and proud of it! Too bad it took me this long.

Our first day we drove 12 hours straight to Idaho- Shauna's first time here! We were going to camp but had the energy to just keep going through the dark and ended up at some random cheap motel. $40- worked for us!

The next day we wanted to shake our legs out so we went for a nice run along a river in some small town. However, it was at 12pm and it was really hot, so we were pretty happy to get back to the car and get going again. We drove another decent day today, however, we were for sure camping this night so we made sure to get our tent set up before dark. We ate dinner at the Olive Garden which was tasty! After checking out an RV park off the highway we settled on a nice camp site in a state park next to the Colorado river. We set our tent up just in time because it started to rain about 5 minutes later!

We went for another shake out run this morning and again had perfect timing as it started raining about 5 minutes after we packed our tent away in the car! We made sure to go running in the morning when the temps were lower. We didn't have much to drive today so we took our time getting to Buena Vista. The drive to Leadville is just so pretty as you twist and turn, winding your way up to 10,500 ft! We made sure to stop off in town as I wanted to pick Peter and I up sweaters from Malanzana. If your ever in Leadville, you have to stop there. They make all their fleeces and what not in store. Shortly after we checked in at the Transrockies package pick-up and we headed off in search of a camp site. We were tipped off about some free camping by the river which is where we ended up. Such a great spot. We set up and headed back for the dinner banquet. There we ran into all our North Van contingent and some familiar faces from races I have done in the past, as well as other La Sportiva teammates. We got briefed on what to expect all week and were sent on our way. It had rained a little while we were eating dinner but once we were in our tent it was very cozy and before long, I was sound asleep.

Race day morning was finally here! Stage 1 here we come! We got up at 6:30, packed up our tent and headed off for breakfast. MMM oatmeal with greek yogurt, raisins ans banana...just like at home. Before long we headed off to the start. We lined up behind Pam Smith and Jenny Capel, who are my teammates with La Sportiva. I ran into Shaun Blanton (run bum) who is always very entertaining. This stage is 20.8 miles and is typically a very hot stage. I remember doing it with Peter in 09' and it was scorching. I could feel the altitude right away and just focused on running easy and steady. We walked the majority of the hills as running them just out my HR into a whole other level. The downs felt great though and the terrain is super fun. A lot more double truck than I would normally enjoy but the views were nice. The last 4 miles are on a flat paved road and seem to go on forever and the road is really exposed so the heat for sure plays a role in how your energy levels.

I am super happy with how we ran, even though at points it felt like a death march. We ended up coming in 2nd in the open womens category behind my teammates and we are super stoked to have  made the podium tonight! Hopefully we can repeat that tomorrow as we go up and over hope pass which is over 12,000ft. Peter and I had a really good run there in 09', so I am really looking forward to it. Ok, time to go and shower and get ready for dinner!

See you in the trails!

Friday, August 10, 2012


The inspiration is just flying high right now. Gotta love summer for that...

Last night I watched "Unbreakable" the ws100 movie by, JB Benna @ NSA for their grand opening event. Ellie Greenwood was also there chit chatting away about her training/racing experiences and signing posters. I saw the first 3/4's of the movie while I was in New Zealand this past spring (our spring, their fall) and was dying to catch the rest. The first 3/4 was just as inspiring and exciting as the first time I watched it and it just got me so amped to get out there. Transrockies is a mere 4 sleeps away now and I can't wait to hit the road with Shauna and get this thing started!

Last week I was fortunate enough to head down to Schuswap Lake for the 5th year in a row with my boyfriend Peter's wonderful family. They have rented the same cabin on the lake for the past 15 years or so and it's just such a great place to go to get some much needed R&R and enjoy some good ol' recreational activities. This year we watched some of the Olympics to as my cousin was competing in the men Beach Volleyball, so I couldn't miss that! Here are my favorite things to do:

- Play Tennis
- Go hiking and running (Balmoral Trail Head and steep bike trail behind the house)
- Water ski & Tube
- Bocce and board games!
- Eat delicious fresh food, especially the local peaches & blueberries!
- Swim in the lake. After watching all the swimming for the Olympics I was always so jazzed up to get in the water.

Peter, me, Angie, Flora, and Kathleen on a gorgeous hike in Shuswap!

Icing my Calf, as it was acting up a bit!

Peter with Angie's dog Rooney

After a wonderful week here I was supposed to go run the West Coast Trail in one day over on Vancouver Island. I have wanted to hike this trail for years and was really excited to do it. There was an awesome group of 4 people heading out: Pat M. Kerry Ward, and Ellie Greenwood. Unfortunately, Ellie had to bail and so did I after my calf started to bug me again. It was the same calf issue I had in New Zealand, however not to the same severity but I was worried it would get to that point if I went and ran 80km on it in one go. With Transrockies happening shortly thereafter, I couldn't risk letting down a partner and jeopardizing her trip.  Sounds like Kerry and Pat had a wicked time and this is one adventure on my list for sure.

On Sunday, Peter and I headed up to Skagit Valley for some trail maintenance and flagging for the Fat Dog race. It was a beautiful and warm day and we hiked from the Skyline 2 trail head to camp Mowhich. The trail is only 13km to get their but it's pretty much all uphill. There were quite a lot of overgrown shrubs so we had out work cut out for us as we switch-backed our way up the mountain. The bugs were terrible but were more tolerable once we got above the tree line. In the end, everything is worth it because the views are AMAZING! We filled up 120 L of water for the racers which will be at the Camp Mowich aid station on race day and ran all the way back down. 


Well, that is all for now. I leave for Transrockies tomorrow and it starts on Tuesday. My partner, Shauna and I, are just so jazzed up! I come back on the 22nd and have taken the remainder of the summer off. I start Massage Therapy School in September and will be a pretty busy be for the next 20 months! I am confident however that I can work training and racing into my schedule because I don't really want to miss a beat. I might also be an auntie by the time I get back or shortly thereafter as my brother is expecting a beautiful baby boy!  So many wonderful things to look forward to. 

See you in the trails!


Saturday, July 21, 2012


 (Me, all smiles having reached the top of Black Mountain. Photo By: Randy Atkinson)

When I first started "racing" or entering races, I used to start out pretty conservatively because I had no clue how to race as well as no expectations. I'd start out conservatively and then pick it up from there if I felt good, which I often did. AND I HAD A BLAST! I also performed well. Somewhere along the way however, I started to push a bit more from the start and co-incidentally this is around the time when  racing became not as much fun. I have still done well but my mental state throughout the races has been pretty shitty.

My last 2 races, Knee Knacker 50km last weekend and 5 peaks 14km today (the following weekend) I started out fairly easy. In fact today, I seated myself in the 3rd heat which meant that I left the starting gates 1-2 minutes after the lead packs.When you start a bit further back, you don't get caught up in the pack. Also, sometimes you end up going a bit slower than normal and if the trail narrows and you get stuck behind people. This isn't such a bad thing at the beginning. If it's too painfully slow of course you politely pass and carry on. Today I just gained momentum and had legs to run every single hill. Pretty much everyone around me (men and women) were walking the ups and I wouldn't blame them, the trail was like stairs but for some reason I just didn't stop running. I eventually caught up to the lead female with 2 km to go and hammered it on home. Thanks "Money" for getting me into the race!

I had SO MUCH FUN running today. My body didn't feel 100% going into (so I had low expectations) it but while I was running I felt like Heman! It was great. It feels so much better passing people at the end than being passed and I think there is something to this whole starting out slow thing. So far it seems to be working and racing has become super fun again.

Woot Woot. Good luck to everyone racing this weekend. There's a lot of people both biking and running 100 miles!

See you on the trails!

Monday, July 16, 2012


I DID IT!!!!! FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 4 YEARS, I GOT TO FINISH KNEE KNACKER!!! I was starting to believe I was cursed considering the last 3 years I have entered but injuries in June have kept me away. I told myself not to enter this year but I just couldn't stay away, it truly is my all time favorite race and not simply because it was my first ultra. However, I was just getting over another foot injury that occurred in mid may (while I was in Australia) and kept me out till mid June. After a month of not running. I knew I had lost a lot of fitness because running even 30 minutes or the minor-est incline felt like I was running at 10,000ft. Some serious oxygen deprivation going on! But, I got back to it and did 3 interesting adventures: 1) Rode my mtn bike from North Van to Squamish (2) Hiked Hanes Valley from Grouse to Lynn Headwaters and (3) a 2 hour road/trail run. (without foot pain) Ha, so not too much serious training going on.  
  (Coming into Cypress, happy as a clam! Photo by: Ken Blowey)

Physically, I knew finishing would be possible, however competing would be out of the question, or so I thought. I did quite a few fast Grouse Grinds with Peter which kept my uphill form in good shape but I hadn't run downhill in ages. I simply thought I was going out to enjoy running the Baden Powell Trail. Which I did... In the morning I was a bundle of joy. So happy to be at that start line with so many awesome friends and familiar faces. I started super slow. People were commenting on why I was so far back. I told them that was because that's where the party's at, and that no ones having fun at the front! My Transrockies Run (TRR) partner, Shauna, and I ran together for the first bit and shot the shit and had a blast. We discussed our TRR running outfits and got fashion ideas from other racers before deciding it would be best just to run in our underwear. Then we started to ascend and I just put my head down and got into a flow, naturally right behind Sasha Brown. Every year that I have run this race so has Sasha. She is a great hill climber and somehow I just seem to always tuck in right behind her going up Black Mountain. The day was amazing, just so clear and warm. The view at the Bluffs was sensational. Tons of mud that i took my time to dodge and only minor amounts of snow.

Before I knew it I was coming into the first major aid station of the day- Cypress Mountain. I immediately looked for Peter who had some gels for me and as I re-filled my water he put drops of Elite (electrolye solution) in my h20 bladder. Apparently at this point the leaders were 10 or so minutes ahead and I had no idea what position I was in, which was perfectly fine with me. Again, goal was to finish. I took my time through the Cypress section, going at a consistent pace, not pushing, just letting the body do it's thing, whatever that was to be. I felt like a was tip toeing my way down the cross country trails and the Hollyburn shoot but still managed to pass a couple of people. Last year, I ended up cranking my ankle coming down Hollyburn and had to pull out so I did not want to have that happen again. Normally, when I am fit and trained up, this is the section I look forward to all race because it's just so fun to bomb down. I came into Cleveland Damn feeling pretty spent. My energy level was fine but my legs just felt like jelly, which is to be expected with no downhill training whatsoever! Someone with a clipboard told me I was in 5th, which was a pleasant surprise and 4th (Marieve) was just up ahead of me. She left the aid station moments before me so I had her in sight the majority of the way up Nancy Greene. Marieve and I are friends and I was dying to catch up with her for some companionship. My body wanted to walk so bad but my mind just told itself to run, so I did. Eventually I caught up to her and we chatted all the way up the the top of the climb.

Before long I was running by myself. Apparently 4th place was a girl named Astrid. The only person I saw throughout the Grouse section was Curb Ivanic. Again, I really took my time through here, walking a lot of the uphills and taking my time on the downs. I'm pretty sure I passed Astrid at Mtn Hwy, but wasn't really sure. Not long after I ran into Kerry Ward and Ellie Greenwood who were pre-sweeping the whole course. It was great bumping into them and we chatted for a bit. They told me I was in 3rd, so I figured it must have been Astrid back there. I couldn't believe I was in 3rd and only a couple minutes behind Brooke. Clearly this whole not racing thing was working out for me. I saw Peter again at the Gazebo aid station and we filled up my Bladder. I couldn't believe it was already 3/4's the way done. I couldn't believe on so little training my body was still moving the way it was. I made my way to Hyannis and was so happy to see my good friend/client Irene! She was volunteering and I gave her a big hug and got soaked down with the sponges. Oh lord those felt great! I think someone told me that Brooke was about 4-5 minutes ahead and I think I made some comment like "Good, she can stay there!" as I really had no interest in racing. Right after that I saw my good friend Tom Craik with his little girl and she gave me the greatest high 5 ever!!!!

On and on I went, every step getting me closer to the finish. After reaching the top of Seymour grind I knew it was pretty much all downhill from there. Body was still feeling good but my right quad was starting to feel really tight and I knew pushing it into the finish was just not a good idea so I continued to go at the same consistent pace I had been going all day. Again, at the last aid station someone told me Brooke was 2 minutes ahead and unless she actually came into my line of sight, I wasn't going to do anything about that. I don't think anyone can really understand how excited I was to finish on this day. It had been 3 years since I was healthy enough to finish. This was a race I wanted to run every year since my first and it was starting to feel like I was cursed. Well, on this day, I broke it and prove to myself that miracles can happen! I am not sure how I ended up 3rd but I sure do feel embarrassed for sandbagging to all those people I talked to before the race. But its funny you know, I told people I was just going to have fun and not race and to be honest, that is exactly what I did. I finished in a time of 6:11, behind 2 ladies that I highly respect.

Congrats to everyone who finished and to all the volunteers and race organizers who put in so many hours making this event my favorite of all time. Last but not least, thanks to Peter for being my little lucky charm all day and having someone to look forward to seeing at the finish!
- La Sportiva headsweats Hat
- La Sportiva Green Layer Jersey
- Steed Cycles Defeet socks (no blisters)
- La Sportiva Crosslites

- Cliff Vanilla Gels x 4
- Honey Stinger chews x 2 packs
- Elite electrolyte solution
- Coke off the aid stations - honeys donuts post race!

Next up, Transrockies run Aug 14-19th!!!!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Back in the Swing!

Helloooooooooo! I have been back at home a month now! I was warned about how hard it was going to be being back to "regular" life after having been away travelling. To be honest though, I live in such a beautiful place that coming back has been nothing but joyous! The day I got back I went straight to my Sports Medicine Doctor, Dr. Bovard, and he assured me I did not have a stress fracture but rather a tendinitis of my peroneal tendon. That was great news to me as I was hoping to not be sidelined for 6 weeks! The weeks following I enjoyed a variety of activities including Moutain Biking, Hiking, and outdoor climbing and It was almost 2 weeks before I got back into running. I think yesterday was the first day I felt like I wasn't running in Colorado at 10,000ft. Honestly, I had been moving so slow and was feeling very out of breath even on the littlest of climbs. That feeling has passed however and I am starting to feel like my old self again. My runs have not exceeded an hour and am building back up slowly. I decided not to head down to France in August to run UTMB. Eight weeks just isn't enough time to feel ready for this beast of a race. But, on the bright side, I will be doing Transrockies with Shauna Connaughton, one of my best friends and running partners. This should be one hell of a good time. I did this event back in 09' with Peter, also having just come back from an injury, so I know it is manageable. This fall I am heading back to school to become a massage therapist. This decision was many years in the making and I couldn't be more excited. I have talked with handfulls of RMT's and I have yet to meet one who doesn't absolutely love their job. The program is 20 months and from what I hear, it's pretty full on. I am hoping that undergrad in Human Kinetics makes it all a little bit more manageable. The Knee Knacker is next weekend. I plan on starting and hope to finish this year. I have been registered the last 7 years but have only been able to complete the first 3. The last 3 I ended up being sidelined with injuries, so I need to break the curse. I am totally prepared to just head out and have a great time at the back of the pack. See you in the trails! Nic

Friday, May 25, 2012

The last days...

(The Opera House, Sydney) My time in Australia has come to an end. I depart in just a few hours back to Auckland for the finals days of my trip. The last couple of weeks have been relaxing and I am ready to get back to life in North Vancouver. I am over joyed to be seeing Peter and my family again. Really looking forward to that pancake breakfast Jules! The last time I wrote I was heading back to the Blue Mountains with Gretel and her mom Greta, for the North Face 100km. This is probably Australia's largest (in #'s) ultra marathon with around 1000 people taking part. You can do the whole thing solo or do it as a relay, 50km per person. I got to see a lot of familiar faces from back in March when I did the Tarawera 100km.
(Me, Amy, And Vicki, the 3 podium girls from the Tarawera 100km) Many were racing and I couldn't help but think about what it would have been like if I were in fact healthy enough to toe the line this day. However, I was here for Gretel and was more than happy to be making her the focus of the day. Over the course of the weekend, we had the opportunity to spend some relaxing time wondering the streets of Leura and Katoomba, 2 beautiful little parts of the Blue Mountains. Both these small communities have amazing window shopping and a large selection of cafes. Sadly, Gretel ended up getting sick quite early on in the race and pulled out around 40km. I know this was a big race for her and she had big expectations and was very dissapointed to be pulling out. However, she is such a champion and we both spent the rest of the day cheering on her Salomon teammates. I am really looking forward to following her success over the summer and into the fall as she has some amazing races ahead.
My running has been consistant, perhaps a little too consistant. I seem to have done something to my right foot...again. The feeling feels all too similiar to when I fractured it 2 years ago. It all began when I decided to run to the zoo during my stay in Manly, which took about 80 minutes and after I was done walking around the zoo for 3.5 hours, it was quite sore. I thought it was sore from having been on my feet the whole day. However, when it was still sore the following day, I knew something was off. It seems as though every summer for the last few years I have been faced with injury and it is becoming increasingly all too familiar and quite frustrating, especially when I'm on this awesome trip! It's hard to imagine why this has happened over here because although I have been running most days, my runs hardly exceed an hour. Luckily, I have an appointment scheduled with my sport med doctor the day I get back and hopefully I figure if it is indeed a stress fracture or not. In the meantime, this will give me the chance to get back on my mountain bike (when I get back home) and do some much needed cross-training! Thanks again to the Fortmann family for letting me stay at your amazing residence for the last 3 weeks. I am going to take so many amazing memories away from this experience and time spent here. Thea, Gretels younger sister, taught me how to make Cinnamon raisin bread and oh my it's delicious. In fact, I have loaf in the midst of rising right now! In Auckland, I am going to be stay with a couple, Andrew Howse, and Amy Campbell. Amy came in right behind me at the Tarawera 100km and I think Andrew came 6th overall. They have generously offered up their home to me and I'm looking forward to visiting my favorite little organic bakery in Parnell, which is where they live. I hope this blog posts finds you all well and safe travels to Gretel as she heads to the Czech Republic today to live & work with Jan, her boyfriend, for the summer.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Alright, so apparently it's catch up time as it was ages ago that I was in Hamner Springs. After I departed Hamner, I spent one night in Kaikoura. I went for a nice sunset walk, had dinner, and was gone the next morning. I ended up hitchhiking to Picton which is on the North end of the South Island. Along the way I saw baby seals and simply enjoyed the amazing coast line. Picton is home to the Queen Charlotte Track which is one of the great walks. Once there, I quickly made plans and departed for the track the next morning. The great thing about this track is that there was a boat that brought me my bag with all my food/clothing to my pre-booked accommodation so all I had to bring was a day pack (or running pack in my case). I got dropped of at Ship cove and hiked and ran about 30km the first day. The track was stunning and the views were amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better day. This night I stayed at a homestay with a lady named Noeline, who is this 81 year old wonderwoman. She houses people (up to 6/night) for 9.5 months of the year and uses all the money she gets from that and travels for the other 9.5 weeks. The next morning was just as beautiful but I decided to get off the track this night instead of staying another night. I did about 55-60km of the 71km track and was very satisfied with the venture. Getting off the track a day early meant I could get a head start on heading to Nelson and seeing part of the Abel Tasman track. Again, I hitchiked to Nelson and stayed at the sister hostel to the one I had just been staying at. The beauty of this hostel and the main selling feature was that they served hot chocolate pudding and vanilla ice cream every night. Wow! Simply heavenly I tell you! The Abel Tasman track was the closest I have ever been to Paradise. There were so many white sand beaches with turquoise blue waters and it was just one WOW after WOW. Words can't describe the beauty so I will leave it at that. I ran a lot of the track today and it felt so good to let the legs go. I just did 28km of the 55km track but I don't think I really missed out on much as the scenery is pretty similar all the way along. The following day I took a bus to Christchurch and I would be on the bus for the majority of the day. There was a drunk guy on the bus which made the ride very entertaining, until he got kicked off. My friend James, who I meant weeks prior in Taupo, came and picked me up and I stayed with him for the next 2 nights. He took me all around Christchurch the next day. I got to see the "red zone" which is what remains of the city center- nothing- complete destruction. It's really sad what happened over there. However, it was Anzac day (public holiday) and it was nice to see people out and about, smiling, laughing and having fun. I would fly to Melbourne the next day. I landed safely in Melbourne and before I knew it I was letting myself into my cousins flat in the CBD (central business district). This flat could be described as the ultimate bachelor pad and had a killer view. I quickly went for a run to get my barrings and before I knew it I was at a free yoga class at the local lululemon. It was nice to finally have a home base for more than a few days and it was great getting to catch up with my cousin Jordan. On the weekend we took a trip over to Philip Island where we went Go Karting (I drove like an old lady), saw the most amazing little wild penguins, went to a wicked Italian restaurant and finished the night off with some bowling. Jordan is training for a marathon at the end of the month and having joined him on a few runs, I think he is more than ready to kick the Ottawa marathon right in the mouth (anchorman). I then took a train to spend the next 3 weeks with my good friend Gretel. I have been fortunate to call her family home my home and they have been such a pleasure to get to know. Not only is her family incredibly full of character, they are loving, and cook up some amazing food! Most mornings are spent with a morning run, followed directly by an ocean dip and a great cup of coffee at the local coffee shop. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to spend time with them in the Blue Mountains my first weekend there as Gretel's parents had rented a house in Blackheath. Gretel and I went for heeps of runs, hikes with the fam, ate like queens, and embraced some R&R. I saw my first python which was lying beautifully on a rock wall next to the trail. This snake was not poisonous but I was more than happy to move quickly passed it as snakes are just not my thing! After saying goodbye to Gretel's boyfriend Jan, who sadly had to go back to the Czech Republic, we took off to Thea's (sister) boyfriend's family's farm. This was a real treat and I did/saw a lot of new things here. The first day Nick took me into the fields and showed me all the wild kangaroos that hang out there. There is just nothing quite like a kangaroo and it's just mind blowing to see them hop about. The next day I got to shoot my first rifle- I think my brother would be proud :) And lastly, on the last day we picked grapes straight off the vine (with Nick's family) which they will send somewhere to be made into wine. Nick, Thea's boyfriend is Lebanese and we got to sample a lot of traditional Lebanese style foods. We arrived in Manly, a surf/beach town near Sydney yesterday because today ,Gretel had a Salomon meet and greet/gear testing with Ryan Sandes and the Australian Salomon team. It was fun to take part and meet a lot of new people. Thanks to Gretel's aunt and uncle for letting us stay at their house here in Manly! Gretel has since gone back home and I am staying here in Sydney for a few days solo to explore the CBD and the surrounding area. This weekend we will head back up to the Blue Mountains where I will crew Gretel for the North Face 100km race. Another noteworthy thing to add is that the weather here has been extremely phenomenal- it's kind of blowing my mind. With everything said though, I am really looking forward to being back home in North Vancouver. I miss everyone dearly and can't wait to catch up with friends and family very soon! See you on the trails!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dunedin, Catlins, Invercargill, Te Anau, Christchurch, Hamner Springs

It seems like it has been a while since I have last posted and I have gone to quite a few places since Queenstown. I have to say again how much I loved Queenstown, although a lot of travelers will complain about how touristy it is. I guess they don't get out into the outdoors much where there is hardly a soul to be seen!

I took a bus to Dunedin and spent 2 nights there. I went into the local running shop and got the local beta on where the trails were. My legs felt good energy wise and I just sort of climbed up and up and up. I found myself following some spray painted arrows, from a race I guess, and they took me all the way to flagstaff point. It was awesome and some steep running in parts. I found out later the run was the 3 peaks challenge or something along those lines. It was super cloudy and misty at the top so I just headed back down afterwards but there was a ridge up top that looked equally as juicy. However, my calf was not feeling 100% so I thought I better call it a day at 2.5 hours for the trip. I had a great massage after that but man, my calf (close to the back of the knee) is super tight and clearly is a bit strained. Bummer. The next day I couldnt even think about running it was so sore. I settled for a little workout in the park instead. Other things I did in Dunedin: checked out the university, went to the cinema and watched the hunger games, and walked through all the 100's of shops. Back at the hostel I met a nice guy named Grant and he had a car and was heading in the same direction as myself so I jumped on his band wagon and settled in for the ride.

We started off walking up the steepest street in the world. Sounds touristy but I was there, might as well go see it! After that we cruised over to tunnel beach which was just simply amazing. The coolest coastal feature I have ever seen. Everything from that point to Invercargill was pretty crappy as we were driving in what seemed to be one big cloud. We went out to nugget point but there was nothing to see because we were sopped in. We finished the driving in Invercargill and I had my first real dinner out. I ordered the muscles and wow, I have never had muscles that big before. Meaty! The next day we were off to Te Anau and arrived a couple hours later to sheer beauty. Our hostel was right on the lake and it was a blue bird day. From here there are a many options- 1) Milford Track or Cruise (2) doubtful sound cruise (3) routeburn track (4) Kepler track. All I really wanted to do was go run each of the tracks in a day but with my calf the way it was, sadly that was not going to be an option. I walked into the DOC office and got on The Milford Track with a last minute cancellation. I would set off the next day and by pass the first hut and just spend 2 nights instead of 3. Doing this hike seemed like a big decision because it cost $265 to do. I can't say I have ever paid to go hiking and it seemed like a lot but it's just one of those things I had to do.

I had to be at Te Anau down's at 10am and I opted not to get a bus the 28km out to the downs. I had planned a ride with grant but he ended up changing his plans and was unable to drive me. I attempted to hitchhike but cars just kept passing by me. After an hour or so I started to get panicked becaused I couldnt miss the boat! I eventually walked in to an RV park and asked the first car I saw (asian family) leaving the park if they were going to Milford Sound. They said yes and uncomfortably agreed to drive me. Of course, within minutes we had hit it off and everything was good. I made my boat and before I knew it, we were off. I met a really great family from Melbourne and their kids were so nice to me. They were telling me very excitedly about their time in Doubtful sound. They invited me to come stay with them in Melbourne if I go. People are very nice here in NZ!

I couldnt have asked for a more perfect day and walking the first 21km of the track to the 2nd hut was magical. I didnt see a single soul on my entire hike because I would be the only person that day walking to the 2nd hut. Most simply walk 5km to the first hut. That's how it works as it's very controlled- only 40 hikers can start per day. There is also no hiking on the track. Words can't describe the beauty and I am sure neither can the pictures but the experience was great. I met a lot of very nice people in the hut and we would share many memories over the next 3 days. Most people had booked this trip over a year in advance, so I felt very lucky to have this opprtunity.

The 2nd day was not as nice weather wise however. It was raining and windy and cold. I really was not prepared for the weather to be comfortable but managed just fine. All my clothes and items were stuffed inside plastic bags- that $8pack liner would have been nice. I was the first one up and over Mckinnon pass. As I was by myself I could walk at my own pace and had no one to wait for as most were in groups. Unfortunetly, the views were not there but in seeing pictures, I could imagine what it would have been like. Luckily, on the descent off the pass, it cleared up somewhat and the rest of it was quite enjoyable. Apparently, Milford Sound has 200 days a year and I think if it hadn't of rained I wouldnt have experienced all that Milford Sound has to offer! Plus, it makes for a greater adventure and memories! The great Sutherland Falls is one of the key attractions on this day as its the worlds 5th largest waterfall. A popular thing to do is go stand behind the falls- you get completetly drenched. I had met this lady named Jill and she would be aruond my mothers age and the only reason I did this was because of her. Fearless! Back at the hut I did some yoga with my bunkmates, who were all in their 60's. Awesome people who got into trekking later in life.

The 3rd day is 18km of pretty flat terrain with a few nice views. I couldnt help but think how nice this would be as a 1 day run with a bunch of friends. Would be cool to do one day! The boat ride back at the end was amazing. The Sound is just stunning. Even the drive back on the bus is stunning. A worth while investment indeed. The minute I stepped onto the track I immedietly forgot about how much I spent to do this and have not thought about it since.

The next day I got up and ran to the Luxmore hut on the Kepler Track. I was surprised at how good my legs felt and I was able to run the majority of the long climb up. It wasn't until I was on the ridge that I could feel my calf tighten up and I decided then to head back down and not continue on, however I was prepared to run the whole thing. This run would prove to be my last one for a week as I really did a number on it this time. The day though was stunning and no regrets getting above the treeline and seeing yet another wonderful perspective.

Believe it or not however, I was destined to run the routeburn- 37km- how hard can it be. But, you run from point A to B and the way the bus's worked I had to do it in 5hrs 15min. I booked a bus for the next morning but didn't sleep very well. I could feel the tightness in my calf and knew what I was doing would be the worst decision I could make and potentially put me out for even longer. In the morning, luckily, I was able to transfer my bus ticket and went to Queenstown instead. I ended up being on the bus with one of my hostel mates in Te Anau and we would go on to spend the next 6-7 days together.

The next 2 days in Queenstown were low key. I had some physio, baked some cookies, ate at furgburger again, went for a nice hike with Mariana and then boarded a bus to Mt. Cook. We spent 1 night here. The first day we went on a great walk (3 hrs return) to the Hooker Valley. At first Mt. Cook is not in sight but eventually as you meander around, it just appears and was stunning. So were the ice burgs you come across in the lake at the end. The next day would be my birthday and I couldn't have asked for better weather, nor a prettier place to wake up. I went for an amazing 4 hr return hike up to the Mueller hut. The first bit goes to the Sealy tarns and you literally walk up stairs. It's a good thing I often do the BCMC or the Grind so it wasn't too bad. The remainder is a rock scramble to the hut. Each section offers expansive views of the area and the closer you get to the hut, the closer you are to the glaciers. I even got to witness an avalanche- a signature of good luck right!? A very memorable birthday indeed. However, the rest of was spent on a bus to Christchurch but the bus driver was very entertaining and talked almost the entire way about the surrounding scenery. He even sang us a song to which we gave him a standing ovation.

The destruction in Christchurch is crazy and it's pretty sad to see. We only spent one night here in a pretty skeezy hostel and left as early as we could in the morning. We ended up hitch hiking to Hamner Springs. Hamner Springs is a beautiful place to come and relax and enjoy the surroundings. There are great hikes and mountain biking if you are into that. There are also natural hot springs you can pay to go in. Since we got here in the afternoon we just walked around and checked out the small town. Our hostel was amazing: free real coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milk, apples, spices, oil, and ice cream! The next day, Mariana and a german girl Kristina, and I went for a hike up to Isobel Peak. Again, we had a bluebird day and it was a great way to spend the morning/afternoon. We even got to pick some blackberries! I am a big fan of this place. I didn't realize however that there was a shuttle to Kaikoura this day (monday) which is where I am giong next and the next one is not until Wednesday. I guess I have a day to relax and read and maybe do some more baking or go enjoy the springs.

The pictures aren't uploading sadly, so hit up my FB page to see them.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Taupo, Wellington, and Queenstown.

A few days after the race I decided to make my way down to Taupo. I travelled here with one thing in mind- to do the Tangariro Alpine Crossing. I had met many others along my trip who highly recommended the journey. The bus from Rotarua to Taupo was only an hour and before I knew it, I was here. The weather had taken a little turn for the worse and I got off the bus to rain with sideways winds. Needless to say, I used this as a catch up day and parked my butt in a coffee shop and dealt with emails and chatted to loved ones back home :)

I finally made my way to the Rainbow hostel where I would stay for the next 3 nights. This was such a wonderful cozy hostel with a huge kitchen and lounging area which made is really east to meet others. I inquired about the bus that would be taking people to the crossing and the hostel owner said it wouldn't be running for about another week because the long range weather forecast looked so bad. The bus is really the only way to get there unless you have a car. Uh oh! I sure wasn't about to stay here for a week just to do the crossing. However, I quickly made 4 friends and one of them was a volcanologist and recommended we rent a car and drive up, go half way to the lake lookout and come back down, if the weather was ok. One of the friends I made was only in NZ for 8 days! His only goal on this whole trip was to do the crossing so he was very eager to get out no matter what. It was really by his determination that we made this happen.

(Nick, Martha, Parvin, and I on the Tangariro Crossing).

The day turned out to be fantastic, a bit windy, but wonderful and I can't imagine why the bus would not take people up here. I guess it is the mountain and weather can change at any time. We were very lucky! So lucky that one of the guys that came with us had already done the crossing. He came half way and then offered to drive the car to the finish and pick us up so the 3 of us could do the whole thing. I was super stoked by his offer and we gladly accepted.

(The crater)

The rest of the hike, after the 1/2 way point, was pretty much downhill. The trail switchbacked all the way down and I couldn't help myself and ran much of the way down. Perhaps not the smartest thing to do while in recovery mode from the race but I felt good so I went for it. That night we all had a wonderful time with many celebratory beverages!

The next day, 3 of us packed up and boarded a 6 hour bus to Wellington. I stayed in a hostel the first night but stayed with my friend Emily Solsberg and her husband for the next 4 nights. They are both runners and we enjoyed many fine runs together. They are both talented runners as well as fine people.

However, at some point a little bit of something flared up on the medial side of my right knee (but below the knee). It's kind of been bugging me on and off since then and I can't say I am too happy about it, being on vacation and all. It's really hard to rest when there is so much to see. I had a physio treatment which seemed to help for a bit but it's not completetly healed. Wellington is a great city and the museum is really cool as well as lot's of great shops and cafes. Emily, you were the hostess with the mostess and it was really great getting to know you better.

Another cool thing I did in Wellington was meet up with Dylan from Vibrum who hooked me up with a pair of 5 fingers. I won them from the Tarawera 100km race. He is the worlds nicest guy and we had fun chatting about barefoot running and racing etc. I got a pair called the Speeds, which are more of a casual shoe. I have never figured out why they are called the speeds but their pretty all the same. Since I do so much random walking on this trip I figured they might come in handy.

(Queenstown, NZ)

(Running the ridge off the Ben Lemond Track)

I was going to slowly make my way down to Queenstown but after seeing some running shots of Anton K, Anna F, and Mick in Queenstown/The Remarkables I decided just to book a flight there. Plus, Cathy was going to be starting work as of April 6th and I thought it would be best to visit before then. So here I am! My friend Cathy moved here with her Kiwi bf Dave and they have such a wonderful place here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tarawera 100km race report

I just need to start off by saying how awesome this race is and what a great job the R.D Paul has done growing this event down here in NZ.

I arrived in Rotorua on wednesday afternoon. I'll admit, I sure didn't want to leave Raglan as I truely fell in love with the place but there was a race that had to be run! My host lady, Robyn, came and picked me up at the bus station and so generously invited me into her home for the next 5 days. Robyn, you were such a great host and I thank you so much for all your generosity over that time.

I felt kind of guilty for just bumming around in Rotorua over the next few days. Besides walking around town I really didn't do a whole lot. I had a blast running on the trails for the 7.5km "Fun Run" Paul hosted in the Redwoods forest on Thursday evening and there was a great turn out of people. I'll admit, it was a pretty hilly run and I defintly worked way harder on that run than I had in the last days and was cursing him a little bit as if he were trying to tire us out before the race!

The run was followed by a showing of the Western States 100 movie 'Unbreakable'. We watched it in a beautiful outdoor sitting area in the redwoods forest. I was just smiling from ear to ear watching it as it was fimled the same year that Peter and I did it. Even though I knew how it all unfolded, it was pretty awesome watching it happen all over again. Friday was pretty uneventful. I went for a short 20 minute run and eventually made my way over to package pick-up. I was pretty stoked that our race shirts were going to be Ice Breaker shirts. They are awesome.

The next morning, I woke up at 5am, did my thing, ate some breafast. Actually, normally I have toast with PB and banana but my whole trip I had been having oats with seeds and raisins, banana, PB, and yogurt and I decided to have it that morning as well. Wow, I had such great energy levels at the start (and throughout) of my run that I think that combo is a keeper!

Ok the run...The first 60km of this run are unbelievable. You run on the most amazing single track and I couldn't help but compare it to trails back home in North Vancouver. They were technical and unlike North Van, were super flowy as they winded their way along and around lakes and rivers. A lot of people were pretty slow going along the technical stuff but that is where I know my strength lies and continuously passed others on these sections as well as going downhill. It's always a back and forth game as I do get passed going back uphills. There were so many people running in the Vibrum 5 fingers and minimalist shoes. Not a single Hoka one one found here! I even saw a guy running in crocks...and he came 3rd male in the 60km!

Early on in the race, we ran through some pretty flooded trails and my shoes filled with sand and rocks.

(One of the flooded sections)

I stopped once to empty them but I ran with sand in my socks for the entire race. I was actually surprised my feet were not in worse shape. It was hard to tell what distances people were running as out bibs all looked the same. However, from very early on I was the first woman and I held on from there. I felt amazingly good for the first 60km.

(Tarawera Falls- The only time I purposly stopped to take in the scenery)

The next 40km however, I will admit I was not looking as forward to it as I knew it was all gravel road. Mentally, it was very challenging. However, my body responded better than it ever has to fuelling. Normally, it a race this long I start rejecting my fuel plan but I was fine. I drank a lot of water and I am sure that helped. Everytime I filled my camelbak I put in about 45 drops of elite (a liquid electrolyte solution) and I had no cramping issues all day. My hands didn't swell at all and I was just stoked that I finally found something that worked for me.

In this race, if you feel good, if you were registered for the 60km you could carry on keep going, doing either the 85km or the 100km. Similiarly, if you felt like crap, you could choose to drop down as well. I did have thoughts of how nice it would be to stop at the 85km but once youve done 85km, your pretty much there. When I had 10km to go I pretty much jumped for joy! By this point however I was only consuming coke and watermelon. I'd choke down the odd honey stinger chew but those werent going so well anymore. I thought a lot about my family and Peter and the words of encouragement they gave me before the race. Tips to keep me lifted when I start to feel low. I didn't have a pacer in the end but managed to stick pretty close by another guy and his and that helped heeps. Also, having Robyn there with my fuel at the aid stations made for very quick transitions.

In the end, I finished first women, 9th overall, in a time of 10:26. I took 63 minutes off the old course record and I really couldnt have been happier with my performance out there. I was convinced that the 100km was not my distance having only completed 2 in my last 4 attempts but this was an exceptional day. The course only had about 9,000ft of elevation gain which suited me well as I am a stronger runner than I am mountain climber. My body felt great all day and I just seemed to be able to maintain a really consistant pace. I met so many great people over the course of a few days and everyone has been super awesome. I have had more than a few invites to come check out their home town here in NZ and run on the trails.

(Awards at Abracadabra)

There was a really great awards brunch the next day at Abracadabra- yummy food! It was great catching up with people and hearing stories about their day. I won a free day at the Spa to hang out in the hot pools and took advanatge of that, that day.

I had loads of people wondering what kind of shoes I was wearing. You don't see much La Sportiva shoes down here. It was great to chat about La Sportiva as I am obviously a big fan. The combo of Crosslites and the Defeet socks have proven to be a killer combo for my feet and I only had but one tiny blister which I will blame on all the sand in my shoes. This might have been a good race to have worn my hot pink dirty girl gaitors!

Now I am in Taupo. The weather here is pretty bad. Yesterday it was sideways winds and rain and today it's just windy. I'm off to explore the huka falls!

Thanks again to Paul and all the amazing volunteers that made this event extremely memorable! I am sorry if there are any spelling errors as I had no internet time to proof-read (sorry mom)!