Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring has Sprung...

 The daffodils are blooming in the garden and finally spring feels like it is here after a very wet and dreary winter. This winter has been recorded as the darkest winter on record in the Vancouver area  - very few hours of sunshine, no wonder we were so thrilled to see the sun this weekend!
Despite the weather we have been busy with the training. 2 weeks ago we participated in the Dirty Duo event in North Vancouver. Neil did the 50km route and I did the 25km route. We both had good runs although I was a bit disappointed with myself that I didn't sign up for the 50 km event. No worries, this past weekend we both did the 50 km Chuckanut trail run in Bellingham. This was my first ultra I have completed for a bit - it felt great to be back!
Now a little about the 50 km was an early start with the alarm going off at 4:15 am for a 5:15 departure to Bellingham. We always allow a little extra time for crossing the border into the USA. Despite the early hours there was a bit of a line up but we arrived in plenty of time to check in and have a chat with trail friends. It was 10 degrees at the start and a bit drizzly with rain. I felt that I had over dressed in my long tights and my running jacket. Fortunately my jacket has sleeves that come detached. It works on magnets - quite handy! The first 10 km is a flat grind on the Interurban trail. About 10 minutes into the run, Neil realized he forgot his water bottle in the car. There was aid on the course but we are accustomed to the comfort of having fluid to sip on along the way. I had a bottle so we came to the conclusion that we would share and just take a drink at each aid station. Often ultras throw these little hurdles at you and how we respond can make or break an event for you.
The next challenge we faced was the extreme drop in temperature and high wind as we climbed up Chuckanut Mountain. I thought I was over dressed but soon discovered we were a bit unprepared for the colder wet temperatures up high. We had wet snow, sleeting rain and hail. Thankfully Neil had a thin jacket in his pack that I put on as my sleeves that are held on by magnets would not stick and stay on as the magnets were frozen. Frozen too were our hands that could not open pockets, do up zippers etc...I'm sure all the other runners experienced the same frozen moments.
The descent took a bit of a different route than previous years and took us down the Fragrance Lake trail that we had climbed up earlier in the day. I preferred it to the previous route of running down a long steep service road. The finish was also 1.5 km further away than the last time I completed the event. This was a mentally tough 1.5 km as I had myself done a bit sooner! I dug deep and kept moving forward, the 10 km done at the beginning is repeated again at the end, it is much more pleasant on the way out than after 40 km and it commands focus and determination to pull yourself in to the finish line. Once across the finish it was great to catch up with everyone on how their run went that day. There was plenty of chat about the weather up on top and the new route down. I won a draw prize of a new light running jacket which ironically I needed! Someone must have seen my sleeves hanging off on route. We finished the day with a quick shop at REI, a must do for us Canadians when we cross the border.
It's great to be back - looking forward to the next 50 km, Diez Vista - an old favourite, in a few weeks time. Followed by a trip to Zion Canyon in Utah for a 55 mile outing with Team Dodgy, then a few local ultras and then off to Scotland for the 55 mile Cateran Trail Run. ;-)
 Running on the local dykes with Fergus, he's a great runner!
 The snow is deep on the mountains - the Golden Ears Range.
The Pitt River dykes and marsh land. Great flat running with nice views when the skies are clear.