Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Run to the Snow!

Today we started our run at the Mike Lake parking lot and headed up the Incline trail which is a steep climb for about 12 minutes. We passed a hiker who was about 80 years old and I stopped to tell him how impressed I was he was up there. He proceeded to tell me of all the great places he has hiked, climbed over the years. He took an interest in where we were going today and did we do this often? Once to the top of the Incline trail we headed up the Alouette Mtn road, we ran into snow where the trail intersects the Mtn road. We took the trail that pops you out onto the road again and then ran in the snow to the Look Out. I did several "post holes" in the deep snow which means running along the snow surface when your leg suddenly "falls" through the snow up to your hip! The snow/ice scratches your legs and it scares the daylights out of you. We headed back down for a total time this AM of about 1hr 45min. The afternoon was spent gardening and chores in the barn before we headed out for run # 2 today on the trail side of Hayward for 45 minutes. Nice to lighten the mileage this weekend and add the double runs. Another 50km next Saturday! Looking forward to the event!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tuesday - Saturday Good Running!

This week after the 50km event on Saturday, the 10km on Sunday and the 14km on Monday, we ran Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Today for the Saturday run we started at UBC Research forest and ran to Mike Lake and then went up the old fire access road. Unfortunately they decommissioned this trail a couple of years ago and it is a complete mess for a couple of kms before you can break into a run. Once through the rubble it opens into a perfect grade for up hill running. Neil and I both noticed how much we were sweating today, lots of humidity in the air! We made it to the top of the Incline trail and decided to carry on up the Alouette Mtn road. The trail up Alouette Mtn has been covered in snow until just recently so we were quite surprised to see how far we could go up without seeing any snow. We turned around cognisant of time as we had plans to meet Marla for coffee around noon and we had other chores to do at home this afternoon. It was a good 3 hour outing. It sparked our interest to continue to go up the mountain to find the snow line. This is the plan for tomorrow's run. How far can we get before we hit the snow? This run is such a good trainer. Neil and Randy did it routinely the year they did Western States...glad the snow is gone so we can incorporate it into the weekly routine. We enjoyed catching up with Marla over coffee. Chad went sailing for 2 days with Pat this weekend. Neil was considering going as well but could not give up 2 days due to other commitments in life! Tonight after Neil did barn chores and I made a trip to the Garden Center for the Geraniums to plant in the window boxes we managed to head out for another short run of 40 minutes to Hayward Lake. Double running is something we will aim for when we can to "up" the training for WHW. This week I learned that I have been accepted into the Masters of Public Health Program at Simon Fraser University. Exciting...but now I need a plan so I can balance work, school and of course ultra running! I hear there are some great trails at the University as it is situated on top of a mountain. Lots to think about...thankfully I run to have the time to work it all out! Picture is taken from the top of Alouette Mtn (last year).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring is Finally Here!!

Tonight we had a great run at Hayward Lake, 14km. It was the first spring evening that I have worn short sleeves! The air was full of the many smells of spring such as fresh cut grass, broom in bloom and skunk cabbage. Another sign of spring...the Bears are out! Yes several fresh piles to hop over along the trail. We also spotted some cougar scat. Locally, there has been a report in the news of a man missing for several weeks whose car was found at the side of the Hayward Lake trail. Several searches have found no signs. Prior to this another body was found; I find myself looking over my shoulder and scanning the slopes and gullies. It is a strange feeling. We have now completed 75km in 3 days. I think we will sleep well tonight!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Diez Vista - 50km - My 21st Ultra

Yesterday Neil and I participated in the Diez Vista - 50km run. This event was my very first Ultra a few years ago. I have now done it 3 times and Neil has completed it 6 years in a row. It brings out a similar crowd every year and it was great to catch up with so many trail friends. The terrain is quite rough, steep and technical in sections. As I was carefully making my way down a very steep technical section I commented to Neil that it would have been good to do a training run on this terrain at least once before the event! His reply was; when we get down this we will have to get a move on! I think he was suggesting I was a bit slow. Another comment he made was at Aid Station #5 he asked the "captain"...are we last? Which we were not by quite a few people! Overall the event went very well and I was most impressed with not having any concerns of the distance and I felt really good for the last 20km. It was a great feeling to feel so strong in the last 20k. I ran sections of a hill that in the past I have dragged my butt up in this event. It was not a PR on this course but a personal best for how I felt. That was my 4th Ultra in 2009 with another 50km coming up in 2 weeks. It feels like the training is all coming together for the big one in June! Today we had friends come for lunch so did not get out for a run until later in the day. We were both yawning as we drove to Golden Ears to do approximately 10km on the Valley Trail. We were stiff when we started out but soon got the legs rolling. Still lots of trees down from the storms this winter. Some of the trails are a mess. Good mileage again this weekend with plans for 3-4 mid week runs this week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend

We recovered well from AR50 this past week. We ran Tuesday/Wed mid week and Friday/Saturday/Sunday. Our longest run was on Saturday where we started at Sasamat Lake and ran over to Buntzen Lake to the Lake View Trail and then back to Sasamat making it 3.5 hours. It was a good training run for next weekend's Diez Vista 50km run. Neil and I are both signed up. Before Saturday's run I was planning to not do the event due to the really rough terrain. Somehow I have managed to change my mind and plan to participate. How does that happen? Neil has done this event 6 years consecutively and I have done it 2 times previously. We enjoyed the extra days off this weekend and had friends Marilyn and Ron over for Easter Dinner. This afternoon we had good intentions of a run but got caught in a terrible storm that produced snow, hail and lightening. We sat in Neil's truck waiting for the storm to pass but it never did and we didn't even have a hat with us! Oh day! Plans are to run Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday this week. Rest Friday...50km Saturday!

Monday, April 6, 2009

American River 50 Mile Endurance Run

We left Thursday AM and it was snowing in Whonnock, California here we come! We had 2 short flights to take us to Sacramento. It was warm, clear and windy when we arrived. We had pre-ordered a GPS with the rental car as we have a bit of history in Sacramento for getting lost! Funny thing, it was the same lady working at the rental car counter who was there when we rented a car in 2007 for Western States. We were wondering if she remembered that we cut the key chain to separate the 2 keys. :) Checked into the hotel, great place, perfect for our needs with a kitchenette and continental breakfast layed out in the morning. We located a grocery store to load up on some essentials for the room. At the recommendation of the concierge we went out for Mexican Food downtown Sacramento. Excellent Salsa! Friday AM was package pick-up at a local running store. There were plenty of people swarming around the sale bins and picking up their race day packages. We both found some bargains! One item they were handing out was a sample of a body wash to use post-run to wipe off the toxins from the Poison Oak that we will encounter! That's a first! Another first was the warning of rattlesnakes (and they weren't kidding!) I guess that's why one of the aid stations was named Rattlesnake Bar. When we were finished with the running gear bargains we found a mall with a Nordstrom's and Macy's to do a little more shopping. It was a beautiful day so we thought the State Capitol and Gardens would be a must see before heading back to the room for the packing of the drop bags. We opted to not attend the pasta dinner and information session and went out to a quaint Italian restaurant that supplied us with enough food for our post-run meal as well! The alarm went at 4AM for breakfast and last minute preparations. We were close to the start and found a place to park the car (the event finishes in Auburn). It was really cold and the line up for the portable toilets was long! We both found a spot behind a bush and then headed over the foot bridge to the start line. It became apparent that we really don't know anyone else here! It was dark and cold when the gun went at 6AM. We ran on a flat "dyke" like road along the river bank and then looped back towards the start before heading out to run to Auburn. I now know what an American bike trail is! A miniature asphalt road with a yellow line down the middle! We ran on this path along the river with an occasional rise for 50km. (in trail shoes!) I noticed that many runners around us appeared to have a run/walk plan for this flat section. After an hour of running I said to Neil should we be taking walk breaks? His reply was, at the aid stations...which amounted to about 3 strides as I drank a cup of water. Overall I was really pleased how this first section went as we headed into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada's for 30 km's of trail. The trail was spectacular with wild flowers blooming every where. The views of Folsum Lake were picture perfect. There were many snake skins and lots of Cougar scat on the trail. The trails were narrow and lined with Poison Oak just as they warned us. At times we were so careful putting one foot in front of the other with arms in the air to make sure not to touch the foliage with our skin. The aid stations were well stocked and of course despite the careful packing of the drop bags we did not require them. (which is good!) The last 10 miles were tough. A mile is so much longer than a kilometer! I was so looking forward to 6 miles to go, as that would be 10km, a distance that seemed measurable. I wore my iPOD for most of the journey and it was so helpful in moving me along and blocking out the sounds of the "rattles" in the brush. Neil commented on lots of "rustling/rattles" after the event. Mile 48, 49 and 50 were a steep uphill for 3 miles. I was power walking and passing many people, I thought I was going good! Neil was now pumped for the finish and kept encouraging me to run it. All that kept going through my mind was that 3 miles was 12 laps of the track and I really didn't think I had that much run left in me, especially at such an angle! I think I shocked him as I started to shuffle up the hill catching him on the last corner. The finish was in sight...but was it really! They made us go around the corner, over the grass, another left and there it was! 11 hours, 6 minutes...DONE!
After crossing the finish line an official came up to us and asked how do you train in CANADA for a 50 mile run? I was with him momentarily reflecting on the snow and ice we have had this winter. The next bit of business was to secure a spot on the 1 bus that was taking runners back to the start in Sacramento where we parked the car. After careful, diplomatic negotiations we payed $15 each for the 1.5hour ride on the yellow school bus. The noise level was incredible with all the post-run endorphins flying! The funniest sight was the runners hobbling to their cars after getting off the bus! It was a march of the Zombies along University Ave. After rubbing the arms and legs with the "Poison Oak" detox cream we showered up and enjoyed the evening in our room with pasta, wine and reminiscing of the day! The flight home was delayed coming out of Sacramento but I took the moment to recharge as the photo above reflects. A great weekend away and a fantastic ultra. Next time I might be more prepared for 50 km on the road (by wearing road shoes) and then change into trail shoes for the second marathon of the day!
Thank-you Neil for being such an awesome running partner!