Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yakima 50km Race Report

I met Leslie Gerein 4 years back at Transrockies. Her and her wonderful hubby Keith were doing it together. The following year I went and stayed with her in beautiful Banff, Alberta and ran my butt off in the 4 days I was there. I was training for Western States and a weekend away with amazing women who loved to run was just what I needed to keep the stoke alive during what seemed like a very long training season.

The start. Photo By: Seth Wolpin
 Leslie messaged me a few months ago and told me she had signed up for the Yakima 50km (which she did the year before) and had a van full of ladies coming down. Having already signed up for four 50km races already, I was a little hesitant. However, not long after James (race director) invited me down and I just couldn't refuse. My co-worker John had already signed up and it wasn't long before there were 5 of us making the trip down to Ellensburg, WA.

Tons of wild flowers. Photo by: Seth Wolpin
A long and winding road! Photo by: Seth Wolpin
 We set out at 6am Saturday morning and made a mandatory pit stop at Avenue Bread in Fairhaven. Oh my, they make up the most amazing English muffin breakfast sandwich. My favorite is the Italian but I am sure they are all wonderful. We rolled into Ellensburg around noon and checked into the prestigious Motel 6. We got some groceries and then went to the start line to check out what lay ahead of us tomorrow. The wind was blowing but the sun was shining. We ran into Shauna who had driven down with Salt Spring Dave (who filmed the event) and we enjoyed a beer at a picnic table.

The concierge at our motel recommended we check out the university campus, so we took some time to walk around there. We then sat down for a nice pasta dinner and before long were passed out in bed!

The temperature was pretty nice in the morning but I still started with my wind breaker on. I took it off within a mile or so but I would use it later on in the race and am glad I wore it! After a 10 second count down we were off to do a little 400m out and back to spread the group apart as the trail narrowed quickly after we crossed the bridge. Immediately we started up the first climb. I was happy to see that there were some running breaks amongst the power hiking. After feeling so beat up (energy wise) during the Diez Vista 50km, I began to hit the Iron Supplements (Floridix) hard. I could totally tell the difference this day as running felt a bit more effortless like it used to. There were 2 women ahead of me and I couldn't help but want to catch up! Shauna was also right behind me and we ran pretty much 30 seconds apart until the 25km turn around. Part of me just wanted to run with her so I had someone to talk to but I just settled for doing my own thing. However, we did run together for a bit after the 2nd aid station. I got to chatting with the girl who was leading (Alicia) and turns out she is from Vancouver and we knew a lot of the same people, which was pretty cool.

Johnny O, our fearless leader!
The amazing Mark Grist!
The scenery was spectacular! Beautiful wild flowers and views of the winding Yakima River down below. With so many hills around I really had no idea where I was going as I looked off into the distance. The terrain was very rocky which made it quite technical in parts. The hills are steep and it was hard to just let the legs go on the downhill. I guess that is why I am feeling it today! Having rolled my ankle really bad a couple of years ago, I didn't push it at all on the descents. Rolling an ankle would have been pretty easy on parts of the trail and it just wasn't worth it to me to risk that.

Shauna on one of the many descents!
 There was a lot of sage brush and it almost felt as though I was dancing in between it as the trail tightly twisted and turned. We were told to watch for ticks and rattle snakes and luckily I saw neither. There were 5 aid stations, 1 every 5 miles and the volunteers were amazing. All were super cheerful and willing to get you whatever you needed. What else can I say? The climbs were tough and often when you thought you were at the top, it twisted and winded even higher. I seemed to always be around a few people so I was never alone for that long. Racers were all super respectful as they stepped aside for those in the lead and everyone was cheering each other on. Whenever someone told me I was the first lady I couldn't help but think about the white house.

The wind got a little crazy and at one point it was so strong my hat flew off my head. Shauna a few meters back didn't feel a thing! I was in my own gust of wind bubble. I kept a pretty steady pace the whole race and overall felt pretty good. I ran where I could and power hiked everything else. Out of all the Rainshadow races I have done, this is at the top of the list. I like that the hills are steep so your forced to power hike (I'm so lazy right!?) but there was enough running to mix things up. Time just seemed to tick by and I loved that we got to finish downhill. I finished in a time of 6:21 and James awarded me with a hug and a wicked framed print of the race logo. Very stoked! Then it was on to beer and handmade pizza from the hippies! Both went down very well.

Thanks to La Sportiva for providing me with the best shoes! Again, the crosslite worked like magic and I had no foot issues! 

The aid station personnel were amazing!
Where we had the post race festivities!
I finally got to catch up with Leslie and Nicki from Banff and cheer on my friends who came in shortly after me. Everyone in our crew did super awesome.We left when the kegs ran dry!

That night we all went out to a steak house and then crashed pretty hard as I was beat! Sunday was super mellow and pretty uneventful as we made the trip back home. On the way home we stopped back off at Avenue Bread for my favorite breakfast sandwich (for lunch), Trader Joe's, and Edelaine dairy for a soft serve cone. So good. For the most part I feel pretty good but my quads are definitely sore!

Mark with not one but two eggenues (breakfast sandwiches)!!!!
 Next up, Vancouver Marathon which takes place a week and a half from now. I haven't done it since 05' and I will not be tapering so it should be buckets of fun (insert sarcastic smiley!). No honestly though it should be fun to get out for a fun day with a lot of people and see what these legs can do.

Run Happy,


Thursday, April 18, 2013


This passed Sunday I turned 29! Yup, only one year left in the 20-29 age category and then winning my age group will become much much harder! I must say that 28 was a good year. It had it's ups and downs but I learned a lot. For the most part I listened to my heart and can't be happier with where I am right now.

The weekends festivities were fun. On my actual birthday I went for a great 23km run from Grouse to Deep Cove with one of my best friends, Shauna, and my boyfriend Peter. Right before I was about to leave home she suggested I pull out the pink spandex. I did that and raised her a Victoria Secret Lingerie outfit over top. It was silly and I had fun with it. The day was beautiful and we saw familiar faces all run long. We did a car drop in Deep Cove earlier on in the morning as I wanted to jump in the ocean and then grab me a Honey's Donut. Yum! The dip in the ocean was cold, very cold but there is something about dunking myself in water on my birthday that makes me feel reborn and ready for the next year ahead. I love it.

Shauna and in the headwaters, Photo by: Peter Watson

Peter and I at Quarry rock. Photo by: Shauna C
The short and sweet of the rest of the day is I went shopping, which I never do, at a shop called Anthropologie. I first discovered this store in Palm Desert a few years ago and was stoked to find out there was one in Vancouver. However, it would be a couple years until I actually made it out. Boy, was it worth it! I just feel like the clothes there were made for me :) I never seem to have trouble finding anything to buy. We were going to drive but because it was such a beautiful day we took public transit and it was really nice to rely on the good ol' seabus, skytrain, and bus all day. After our one stop shop, Peter and I took the bus over to Main street to have dinner and drinks at The Foundation which is this brilliant vegetarian restaurant that serves up world class nachos. The nachos are perfectly layered with tons of cheese, black beans, and corn. I highly recommend trying this place out.

The next day we took it pretty easy as we were heading up to Squamish in the afternoon to do the first 1/3 of the Garibaldi Neve Traverse with our good friend Mark Grist. Of course, I made sure to stop off at the Zephyr for a coffee and muffin before we began this mission. We dropped Mark's car off at Garibaldi Park and drove ours to the Diamond Head trailhead. It was a gorgeous evening and we took our time getting to the Elfin Lakes hut. Once there we made dinner and played crib. Last time I was there we slept on some benches because it was full. This time there were only 2 other people, which was really nice. It wasn't long before we were in bed as we had a 4:30am wake up coming the next morning. I slept pretty good however my watch got messed up when I was setting my alarm the night before and my watch said it was 3:30am when it was really 4:30am! It's a good thing I am a morning person and I was able to roll out and up pretty easily. I forgot to bring breakfast so I shared a few granola bars with Peter.

Mark and I as we start the day. My his pack is much larger than mine! All Photos by: Peter Watson

Park Rangers are all tree hugger's at heart!

We began in the dark with our headlamps lighting the way. I could tell it was going to be a beautiful day with blue bird sky's, and it was. Mark was leading the way as our tour guide as he had done the Traverse twice before. Peter and I were both Neve virgins. The snow was perfect for skinning, we barely sunk down at all.

The 5km flat lake section. It felt like it was never going to end!
We had a 3km hike out in ski boots!

Finally back at the car!

The adventure for me was epic. The scenery was beautiful. I can't really put into words how beautiful it truly was. We really could not have asked for a better day weather wise. What made the adventure epic was the last 8km where we switch backed our way down to the parking lot. The trail was narrow and very icy. To me, it was survival skiing at it's finest and it was the section I hated the most. However, it did make the trip that much more memorable. My feet have a few sores on them from all the friction back and forth in my boots but overall they held up pretty good. My muscles are a bit sore but hopefully that eases off as I am running the Yakima 50km this weekend.

I am really looking forward to all the new adventures that are coming my way. So far, 29 is looking pretty good.

See you in the trails!


Sunday, April 7, 2013


The week leading up to this race my legs were feeling DEAD. It was weird to because I hadn't done a long run that past weekend and took it REALLY easy the week leading up to the race. Nonetheless I was going to run no matter what fully knowing that it was probably not going to be a "RACE". This was going to be my 4th ultra of the year which is the most I have ever done this early on, let alone perhaps in a calendar year. I guess that explains the fatigue I have been feeling?

Berry Young and I coming into the finish. Photo: Peter Watson

I started out relativity fast with some of the other leading ladies but it become apparent on the first hill that my legs were just done. I pulled back the pace for the rest of the race and just ran in a place that made me want to continue. In fact, at one point I almost dropped out but then I saw my friend Barry Young, who I finished Chuckanut 50km with and kept going. After the half way mark I was walking most of the climbs and Barry and I chatted away as we ran.

Dennis B breaking through the "finish tape" Photo: Peter Watson
This one goes down in the books as not a great race (obviously) but it was awesome "mental" training. There are for sure going to be a lot of low moments in Western States 100 come June and I am that much more prepared to put one foot in front of the other and just keep moving. There are always lessons to be learned from Ultras and I continue to learn with every one I do.

Dennis B and I at the finish. Photo: Peter Watson
 It was so awesome to be surrounded by familiar faces all along the course. The course was so well marked and the post race BBQ was delicious.

Congrats to my co-worker and good friend Dennis Begley who decided out of nowhere to sign up for his first ultra. He had done but one 10km event before taking on this challenge. Having struggled with some ITB issues 6 weeks before the race, Dennis bravely toed the line and finished!
His courage and will to get the job done definitely kept me motivated while I was out there. No matter how much I wanted to stop (mentally) I knew he would be out there hurting much more physically.

Thanks to La Sportiva for making awesome shoes (the Crosslite is my go to) that keep my feet in great shape all ultra long!

See you in the trails!