Inspired Running Day-Terry Fox Tribute Run

I had honor of participating in the Terry Fox Tribute Run this past Saturday April 12.  Most of us Canadians are familiar with the Terry Fox Runs that take place in September that raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation.  This run is a little different in that it is not a fund-raiser, instead the organizer’s are lobbying to have April 12 named Terry Fox Day.  From their Facebook page;

“On April 12, 1980 Terry Fox dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean, starting on his historic Marathon of Hope. Terry called on all Canadians to carry on his dream in the event that he couldn’t finish.  Every April 12, runners from every province and territory in Canada will run 42.2 kms, carrying Terry’s flag, in honour of Terry Fox’s life and legacy. This is not a race, not a fundraiser or endorsed by the Terry Fox Foundation.”

Our running buddy Cameron was the representative from Ontario and invited Dan and I a long.  I met up with Cameron at 7am for breakfast and met Glemena, the organiser for the Ontario run.  She had planned the route so that we would start at Toronto City Hall and run north up Yonge Street to Richmond Hill and turn around at Ransom Park, where a monument to Terry Fox will be unveiled in September 2015.  I wasn’t really planning on running the whole way, but after chatting with Glemena over breakfast I decided I had to at least try.

Like many Canadians Terry Fox is a hero of mine, we learnt about his inspirational feat in school and participated in his run every year, I always thought he was “bad-ass” and would’ve wanted to meet him.  Well I got the next best thing in Glemena, she ran with Terry Fox from Toronto to Perry Sound.  I was enthralled and inspired by the stories she told us over breakfast and the pictures she had to show us of her and Terry, she is an amazing inspiration herself and I just knew I wanted to spend the rest of the day in her company.

After breakfast we met at City Hall to start the run.  Glemena and her friend Anthony would be supporting us in their truck as we ran (it was the real deal, the truck had flashing lights and signs warning of runners ahead, and lot’s of Terry Fox stickers!), it was awesome as they had a cooler full of water and snacks, and when ever we ran out of sidewalk we felt safe running in front of the truck.

Start line. Cameron, Me, Mitch, Bill, and Dan

Start line.
Cameron, Me, Mitch, Bill, and Dan

The only catch with the run is that we had to run with the Terry Fox flag at all times, which isn’t really a catch at all, until you try to run with a flag.  It’s harder than it looks.

Our group at our largest.

Our group at our largest.

Dan carried a flag for the full 15km he ran, and the rest of us took it in turns (admittedly I was lucky enough to not have to carry it all that much but the bruise on my right shoulder would argue otherwise.) It turned out to be such a fun and inspiring day.  I met other great runners, including Sam who I’d seen at some ultras but will now be hanging out with at ultras and Bill, an awesome runner who is training for his first ultra (100km!), GO BILL!!!

Corner of Yonge St and somewhere

Corner of Yonge St and somewhere.

Eventually there were only 4 of us who would get to the turn around and back, but our spirits were always high, as were our flags!

Entering Richmond Hill, I was now closer to my childhood home than I was to my adulthood home.

Entering Richmond Hill, I was now closer to my childhood home than I was to my adulthood home.

It was amazing people’s reactions to us.  We heard a lot of honking (although sometimes I think that was at the slow-moving truck in front of them), people would stop us to ask what we were running for then give us a “good job”, people would cheer and high-five us, and at one of your break stops a man bought us a case of water, how sweet.

Ransom Park, for our photo shoot.

Ransom Park, for our photo shoot.

At Ransom Park two media outlets came to take pictures and interview Glemena.

Finished! Anthony, Me, Bill, Sam, Glemena and Cameron

Anthony, Me, Bill, Sam, Glemena and Cameron

Thanks Cameron, for inviting us along.  Thanks Glemena and Anthony, for taking care of us. Thanks to all the runners and support we received, and to Bill for passing along some pics!

I’m sad that I’ll miss out on doing this again next, but Dan and I have decided that no matter where we are next year on April 12 we are going to run a marathon and hopefully it will be Terry Fox day!

The air, it hurts.



That pretty sums up my winter of (very little) running.

So instead of bitching about our horrible winter, I’m going to go ahead and complain about our lousy spring.

It was team effort but I went for a 25km run on the weekend. It was the first weekend of April and it was snowing. By now we are usually in shorts, but sadly I had to dress in fleece paints, long sleeves and a jacket! Yes, headband and gloves were required.

Thankfully the snow stopped as we headed out to meet Mitch and Geoff. Sadly we hadn’t realised there was a 40km/hr wind coming from the west (its temperature making it feel well below zero) we of course had to run straight into this blustery mess for 4.5km, at one point I was actually getting blown side ways into Dan (and it wouldn’t be the only time) by a gust. By the time we met Mitch I was ready to quit, but the silver lining was that now we would head north (briefly), sweet relief!  Except there was no relief the wind was still relentless and then we turned west again. I gave up trying to wipe away the stream of water from my eyes, as we crested the hill near the entrance of High Park we noticed a large amount of runners and cleverly figured out that a local road race was on (I’m quite sure no course record were broken). Finally we met up with Geoff and headed into the Humber River park where it was still windy but after Mitch had joined us I had started drafting off the boys, now I had 3 wind breakers in front of me, things were looking up.

Hmm, now what?

Hmm, now what?

Then we discovered the “ice jam”. Dan and Mitch bravely charged on, Geoff and I being the slightly more clumsy runners tentatively started to pick our way through.

Brave Mitch

Brave Mitch

Then Mitch fell, myself and Geoff quickly retreated and bush whacked around the ice field, I was exhausted and now my feet were cold from the icy water.

Geoff and I did find this cool teepee in the woods though.  Would love to know who built it and why.

Geoff and I did find this cool teepee in the woods though. Would love to know who built it and why.

On we went, still into the wind, parts of the trail were still quite ice-covered which slowed our progress but at least we all stayed upright.

Once off the trail and onto the street we finally had our backs to the wind. And after a brief comfort stop (where I found myself hiding behind a sign to stay out of the wind) I finally started to feel good running. Like, happy and elated, I haven’t felt this in months! That is mainly because I have been wimping out and staying inside where it safe and warm, but I can’t stand the dreadmill so I now have a new appreciation for rowers.

I wasn't the only one taking shelter behind a sign.

I wasn’t the only one taking shelter behind a sign.

But now it is April and I have a 50 mile race at the end of May so I have no choice but to go out and run. As a side note I had almost signed up for 100km race that took place this past Saturday and was relieved that I didn’t when I started reading about it on Facebook, you can read our friend Alex’s account here, all I can say is that if the hunger games are mentioned in a race report than I glad I gave it a miss!

So other than a crappy run on the weekend I don’t really have much more to say, oh other than I quit my job on Monday and we are going to travel for a year starting June 1. Check it out here.

Where does the time go?

It’s been about a month since my last post and feel like lots has happened since and I also feel like nothing has happened. So I’m just going to give a quick run down of events.

Dan became a Canadian. And just in time too, dude holds everyone up crossing borders this should make life a little easier.

Dan charming the judge at his swearing in ceremony.

Dan charming the judge at his swearing in ceremony.

We sold this:

Our trusty car.

Our trusty car.

And bought this:

A truck makes so much more sense in the city...

A truck makes so much more sense in the city…

I was temporarily laid off.  Not a huge deal (except for the whole not getting paid bit) but unexpectantly stressful and scary for me. I’m lucky, I like my job and where I work, job security has never been a concern but we got new owners this year and everything work wise has been turned on its head. However, I tried to use this time wisely so I ran most days in the daylight, which was nice.

It's nice having the trails to yourself.

It’s nice having the trails to yourself.

Which way do you think I went?  Both! It's a short trail and I had the time.

Which way do you think I went? Both! It’s a short trail and I had the time.

Random ribbon tied to a tree.

Random ribbon tied to a tree.

You'll have to take my word for it but there is an owl in the tree.  I sat and watched it for a few minutes, but then a train went by and it flew away.

You’ll have to take my word for it but there is an owl in the tree. I sat and watched it for awhile it was beautiful.

Some people live in the woods in the city.

Some people live in the woods in the city.

And I caught up on some other hobbies too.

Made a skirt.

Made a skirt.

And some reusable gift bags.

And some reusable gift bags.

There was lots of yummy food cooked and baked, I could really get used to the stay and home wife thing except when it came to the paycheck.

I tried to run and race and it sucked. It was a fat ass half marathon called the Marquis de Sade put on by a local running store. Not being an official race meant no course markings, not being from the area meant carrying three sheets of paper that didn’t really help us. We somehow got separated from the group we were with and then proceeded to get lost. I think all my running while being off caught up to me too because the whole right side of me from the hip down felt like junk. I had niggles at ever joint, even my toes hurt. I gave up after 14km.

We started out as a group.

We started out as a group.

Here are the 3 sheets of paper, it was also very cold and windy that day, not a good day for trying to read maps.

Here are the 3 sheets of paper, it was also very cold and windy that day, not a good day for trying to read maps.

Then I didn’t run for 10 days. That wasn’t my intention, at first it was a few days to let my body rest and then I just didn’t feel like running. I suspect I was a little burnt out so the rest actually did me good. My runs since the break have been fantastic and I’m just taking it easy since I’m not really training for anything. Which leads me to…

Not being apart of the lucky 6%.  The 100 miler I did this year was a Western States qualifier and won’t be going forward so I threw my name in the lottery since I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to qualify again. Honestly I’m kind of relieved. This race is iconic but expensive and far away and with me not working it didn’t really make sense. That being said…

I’m back to work full-time which I’m happy about. I miss running in the daylight but that’s what the weekends are for.

I guess all that’s left is to figure out what’s next.

Batawa Fat Ass Trail Race 2013

This has been our last race of the season for the last 3 years.  And once again it did not disappoint.

Just to re-cap Dan and I spend a lot of time from May – October running on this course (and the trails around it) when we visit the family cottage.  Dan decided to run the 10km race again (watch less, since he forgot it at home) and I opted for the 17.5km distance.  Our friend Mitch was also running the 17.5km and was astounded by the fact that we knew no one at this race-it’s not an ultra so most of the familiar faces and friends we’ve made the last couple of years are absent at this event.

The plan; I didn’t have one.  After my DNF at Mogollon, I hadn’t been doing all that much training.  I wasn’t as bummed about it this time as I was the first, but I kind of felt like running and I needed a break, so yoga and I started hanging out, and then this race snuck up on me.  I’m in the middle of an inspiring fell running book (Feet in the Clouds), so I decided to race like a fell runner, which seems to be – run like hell and hope you can hang on.  Maybe not the best plan, but I had nothing else going for me.

The race started at 10am under very ominous skies that thankfully never developed into any real weather, it was cool but our motley crew still rocked our shorts.

Last race of the season, because a race any later in the year would require long pants.

Last race of the season, because a race any later in the year would require long pants.

The first 500 meters or so there is a little spur around the drive-way/parking lot, I like to boot this bit and get out in front of as many of the hill walkers as possible, it’s too easy to start walking when everyone around you is.  As I started to head up the ski hill, it hit me how little hill running I’ve been doing of late, my legs were burning as were the lungs, but you know what, it was exhilarating.  A little voice in the back of my mind reminded me that I would “pay for this later”, I told that voice to “shut up and let me enjoy this please!?!”.  Finally making it to the top I was sucking wind, but I refused to slow down, I love the single track at the top of the hill, and the decent I’m usually scared of on the backside I just bombed down like I had nothing to lose.

Dan waiting for the start of the 10km

Dan waiting for the start of the 10km

Next section is single track along the bottom of the hill, I settled into a slower pace, mainly because I was getting tired (oops only 3km in!) but I love me a challenge.  I blew through aid the aid station wondering why people wearing CamelBaks were stopping for water, the next section just kind of rolls, it’s part single track and part ATV track, we hit the first “water challenge” about 5km in, I giggled watching people trying to go around.  When this course is wet, there is no going around, so I plowed straight through, receiving a few complaints for “splashing” but hey “I’m on the other side now, come get me!”, yeah never saw them again.  What people need to realise is that even if you make it around the “water challenges” the track following is usually wet and very slippery, your feet will get wet and dirty (I actually heard someone complain about the dirt on their shoes), the track is sort of clay so the kicker is that all the mud sticks to your shoes and your feet feel about 10lbs heavier when you hit the rail trail.   The rail trail is a nice section to open things up so I took the opportunity to scoot by a few people, then back onto ATV track to the bottom of the hill, its single track back up to the top with a few log obstacles thrown in to make sure you’re paying attention.  On my climb back to the top of the hill I had to switch to a hike, I was feeling like I was going to barf, but thought it was still a little too early in the race for that.  I bombed back down the front side of the hill and ran straight up to the water station and stopped for a glass of water, was it me or was it getting warm?  Nausea has a way of messing with your core temperature.  Anyway first 7.5km done in 43:34, now it was time for the 10km section.

Look at that form! Yes, I'm a heel striker and no I'm not trying to change it.

Look at that form! Yes, I’m a heel striker and no I’m not trying to change it.

I love the first 5km, they are pretty flat and I needed that, what I had forgotten about was the water.  Water, water everywhere.  I watched as some people nimbly danced along the edge of the water and the brush, but took my usual route of right through the middle.  To people reading this and thinking about doing this race I should warn you that my way is not necessarily the best way, some of the water sections are deep (past my knee at one) and some are long (so long that there was a real threat of losing my shoe and I seemed to pick up a lot of silt) but I’m not a graceful enough runner to not end up falling in.  First 5km down in 29:39, now to the last 5km, which would see some more hill action.

Mitch has a lovely gait, but I still kicked his butt (I have to while I still have the chance)!

Mitch has a lovely gait, but I still kicked his butt (I have to while I still have the chance)!

There is a small out and back on this section so, there were (10km) runners coming at me as I started out, it’s always interesting to see who will yield to whom on this section, since I was still utilising my run through the water technique I didn’t encounter any of that awkwardness.  As I was running up the hill that “never looks that bad” but somehow always kicks my ass, my old friend from last year caught up to me, Jim, he is probably approaching 60 and so so much faster than me.  He humored me for a bit letting me lead through the fun downhill single track (side note: if it takes two runners screaming at you to let them by, your music is probably too loud, and I don’t mean just for this race, I mean in general), once we hopped the drainage ditch and hit the ATV track he waved good-bye and went back to kicking my butt.  I spent the rest of this section picking off runners who had gone out too hard (apparently I wasn’t the only one doing this) and misleading people through deep puddles of water.  I chatted a bit to a young guy who was running his furthest distance yet, he was happy for some company, it’s weird for me to see people down in such short races, but it’s all perspective, and it was his longest run ever, I told him he should be celebrating, he was going to set a PB, the smile that came across his face when he realised this is why I like running.  We finally popped out onto the last bit of road back to the finish, he of course sprinted away from me (after saying thanks) and I pretended to sprint after him (I still have zero kick) to finish in 1:47:57, good enough for 8th female (and yes there were more than 8 females), not too shabby for an under trained and out of shape ultra runner.

Post race was delicious as usual with chili and cookies, also all you could drink McDonald’s coffee from a coffee truck, which brings me to my next point, man has this race grown!  Nearly 700 participants this year, there is definitely some growing pains happening (mostly that people are being pains and complaining).  The spirit of this race is no frills fun, which is what it delivers, the website makes it very clear that you will be covered in mud (duh, it’s a trail race) and there is an award for “most lost” so no, the course markings are not every 5 feet.  I have no fear that the awesome RD Sandy will keep this race true to its roots and if people are look for a 5 Peaks Race, then that is what they should run.  I for one can’t wait to see what next year will bring.

Mogollon Monster 2013 Race Report

My second stab at the Mogollon Monster took place on Saturday, in Pine AZ.   Dan and I flew to Phoenix on Thursday, only stopping in Phoenix long enough to pick up race supplies (we only flew with carry on) and headed to Pine.  We stayed at a fantastic homestay/B&B right in Pine, about a mile from the start line.  Lorrie and Bill, the owner’s of TwoJ’s were wonderfully hospitable and very excited about my race.  Unfortunately on the drive up to Pine (approx 5500′) one of my ears wouldn’t “pop” and I was battling a bit of a sore throat that I picked up after running a charity run on Saturday in the pouring rain.  I wasn’t too stressed though and figured a good nights sleep would have me feeling good to go.

Our home for the weekend.

Our home for the weekend.

Me and a sign.

Me and a sign.

Friday I woke up with a sore throat, a still not popped right ear and runny nose but still I wasn’t worried, we spent the morning getting my gear and drop bags ready, then we decided to visit the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.  It was beautiful, the weather was fantastic, and my ear finally popped on the steep drive down to the bridge!  We walked around the trails and decided to hike right down to the bridge, it was a pretty easy walk, but on the way back up I felt really winded.  I mentioned this to Dan and he (lied) and told me that he felt winded too.  I chalked it up to the altitude, I’ve never had issues with altitude but there is a first time for everything.  We went to get my bib at around 6 pm and had a great evening catching up with other runners and race organizers/volunteers.  I wasn’t sure why I sounded like I’d been chain-smoking all day, but something was definitely up with my voice/throat, however I didn’t feel too bad, maybe a little tired, but mostly just really excited.  I was so ready for the Monster.

Visiting Tonto Natural Bridge.

Visiting Tonto Natural Bridge.

Saturday morning my 4:30 alarm came too soon, I did not have a great nights sleep.  That’s not too unusual, what was different with my lack of sleep was the coughing fits that were keeping me awake (usually it’s just nerves/excitement).  I told Dan that I thought I had a cold, he agreed.  There wasn’t much I could do about it at this point.  I didn’t really think it would affect me much, I kind of hoped I’d sweat it out in the first few hours.

It was cool at the race start, lot’s of dancing around to keep warm while Jeremy ran through his last minute instructions, but Dan pointed out that it was great running weather (just not great standing around weather).  I was excited I was ready, I found Elise and Margaret at the start, I had the pleasure of running with these two amazing women last year and I hoped that we could run a bit together again this year.

It was a tad cool at the start line.

It was a tad cool at the start line.

Finally it was time to go, 44 braves souls set off up Pine Canyon, my goal was to stay relaxed.  My ultimate goal for this race was to finish, my race plan had me finishing in 35 hours and I truly believed that I was going to the finish this year.  Margaret and I set off in a pleasant pace up the first climb, after this climb I heard a strange wheezing noise, it took a few minutes but I began to realise it was coming from me.  As I wheezed away my voice also started to disappear, I figured it was the altitude, Margaret was a little concerned but there wasn’t much I could do about it, I told her she’d have to do all the talking!

As we traversed above the town of Pine I was smiling and taking in the stunning views, still amazing a year later, it’s amazing the things you forget though, like the rocks, I remember rocks, but not that many.  A new twist this year was that there was a lot of rain so the brush on the side of the trail was really over grown and there were lots of trees down, but it was still fun and beautiful and I was going to do this.  Up the climb to the top of the rim (and the first aid station) my wheezing got a little louder and runners around me started to comment that they could hear me coming.  I told myself to stay calm and that it would wear off, I was still moving really well, talking on my calories.  I came into the Pine Canyon aid station about 15 minutes ahead of schedule.  Dan was there and I told him about my wheezing, but at this point I was laughing about it, I thought it was kind of funny, but still felt it was going to “go away”.

On top of the rim, wondering why I can't breath.

On top of the rim, wondering why I can’t breathe.

The next section to Dickerson flat aid station is very runnable so Margaret and I had a quick walk break to eat some food and so I could blow my nose, I was alarmed by the colour of my snot, it matched my day glow yellow shirt!  But I felt so much better now that my nasal passage was clear (for the moment) and we set off.  Margaret quickly pulled ahead of me and I happily let her set the pace, as we hit the road section I started to find it hard to keep up and my wheezing was back with vengeance, for the first time I was beginning to think that what ever this was it wasn’t going to just go away.  As we hit the aid station (manned with fantastic volunteers I might add) my voice was gone again, I had to hand signal what I was after!  After reassuring everyone that I would be fine off we went to go back down the rim, I was hoping that the descent would help my wheezing.  I have to add that this is a stunning descent especially as the sun was just hitting some of that canyon walls, my breath was being taken away by the views for the moment.  After navigating the technical downhill we hit the trail and I stopped to use the bathroom, when I stood up from this I was dizzy, in the stumbling around way.  I ate some more food while I tried to catch back up to Margaret but I didn’t feel hungry and I’d been staying on top of my calories and hydration, worry started to creep into my mind.  We finally reached Geronimo aid station, Dan was there and swapped out my bottles, I told him I wasn’t feeling to hot and that I couldn’t catch my breath, he assured me that I would be fine.  I was still 15 minutes ahead of schedule, I re-applied sunscreen as I was heading out for 9 miles of the Highline Trail, which doesn’t have much shade, Margaret set out just ahead of me, but I just couldn’t catch up.  I watched as she got further and further away.  I couldn’t run.  At all. I let this get me down for a bit, but I realised wallowing wasn’t going to get me to the next aid station any quicker, I put my head down and walked/hiked as fast as I could.  I was supposed to arrive at Washington Park at 2 pm and that became the focus, to get there as close as I could to 2.  So “just keep moving” became my mantra, and it worked for a while, but then I had to blow my nose (more radioactive looking stuff) and then I developed a bit of a headache, oh and then there was the chest pain.  Finally I knew I was getting close to Washington Park because I could hear it, but I was still (what felt like) really high up, eventually I descended and arrived at the aid station.

Stunning, my pictures really do not do this area justice.

Stunning, my pictures really do not do this area justice.

There I was met by Dan, as well as our B&B owners (a fantastic surprise) as soon as I tried to talk to Dan I started to cry, I was panicking as I was now 15 minutes behind schedule and I still couldn’t run, and my voice was gone again.  Dan did a great job of calming me down, I told him I didn’t feel well and just to prove it I started to have a coughing fit that ended with us both staring at solid yellow “thing” in my hand, tears started coming back to my eyes and Dan shook my arm so the “thing” would no longer be in our view.  I had some soup which really soothed my throat and chest, thanks to the volunteer who made soup for me at the hottest part of the day when all the other runners wanted ice, I really appreciated it.  After 20 minutes of sitting and eating, I put on my pack and left.  I just wasn’t quite ready to give up.

Leaving Washington Park, my legs are saying "lets go", my face is saying "why are you making me leave".  Photo curtasie of Lorrie Johnson

Leaving Washington Park, my legs are saying “let’s go”, my face is saying “why are you making me leave”. Photo courtesy of Lorrie Johnson

I had 6 miles to the next aid station, my plan said it should take 2 hours and I was about 35 minutes behind schedule although somehow still ahead of the cut-offs, as I wondered off from the aid station I formulated a new plan, it was to get to the next aid station without coughing up anything solid.  First 2 miles of this section is all up hill including a section that has a 45% grade, but then you end up on the rim road, which in my head was totally runnable, that memory was wrong!  I settled in for some serious power hiking and some serious view absorbing, as crappy as I was feeling the views helped to make me smile and remind me how lucky I was to be there.  Then a car drove by kicking up dust and I was back to coughing.  When I could I would run until I couldn’t and just kept repeating that pattern, and just when I thought I had to be almost at the aid station, Dan drove by.  This was odd as he was not supposed to be meeting me here, in fact I was pretty sure that he quite possibly risked life and limb to beat me to this aid station (by car it was much further than 6 miles).

Up to the rim road I go, it's only 2 miles...

Up to the rim road I go, it’s only 2 miles…



Finally I made it into the Houston Brothers aid station and broke into a fit of coughing.  I did not feel good, I plunked myself down in a chair.  I asked for some tissue and was given some, I was also offered to have “medical” come and look at me, I hesitated for a moment but then agreed.  Danny (who finished the Monster last year) was working this aid station with his wife along with Noah and John, so I was surrounded by familiar friendly faces and my mind raced with the potential consequences of being “looked at by medical”.  I was eating some soup when John the Medic arrived on scene.  He was really friendly and started asking some questions, I was truthful and even admitted to having some chest pain earlier (Dan did not look pleased that I had kept this tidbit from him), John had a listen to my chest and noticed “diminished breath sounds on the right”.  Hmm, basically I had a choice I could go on, he wasn’t going to pull me but, I would have to sign a waiver saying I was continuing against medical advice.  I looked at Dan, he looked at me, I did some math in my head and thought about the next section of trail, and realised I didn’t want to be that jerk who needs to get rescued when they should have known when to stop.  So I quit.

This is the first time I’ve quit, I could’ve sat in that chair and timed out, I could’ve asked the Medic to “pull me” but that wouldn’t have made it any easier, my race was over.  I’ve had an x-ray since being home and it turns out that I have bronchitis, mostly in the right lung, the radiologist I work with was impressed that I managed to run 33 miles with all the inflammation in my lungs.  I’m at peace with my decision because ultimately had I gone on I was not going to finish because I was not going to magically get better and I really hated the idea that I had I gone on I could have put other people at risk if something did happen to me.  Am I bummed?  Hell yeah, but it’s just running, there will be other races.

This was posted on the Mogollon Monster Facebook page courtesy of Michael Miller. If you zoom it you can see that the word "rough" is written beside my bib number (#21), I was a marked women

This was posted on the Mogollon Monster Facebook page courtesy of Michael Miller. If you zoom it you can see that the word “rough” is written beside my bib number (#21), I was a marked women.

Since Dan was there I didn’t have to wait for a ride which was nice, he was happy I stopped too since he was worried and he thought my mother, and maybe his, would’ve killed him had he let me sign a A.M.A waiver.

It also meant that we got to hang out and watch all the finishers (of which there were 23!) on Sunday (well not all, Steve Moore the winner was finished at 3am, I was in bed) and talk to some more of the wonderful people involved in putting on this race.  Not to mention all the runners whose races ended at various parts of the race. Unfortunately Margaret had to drop at 70 miles with stomach issues but Elise made it to the finish, I am so happy for her and I was so happy to be there to witness it!  I met so many inspiring people over the weekend it’s hard to be too upset with the outcome of my race.

I’m just going to finish by saying that this is an amazing race, put on by amazing people, if you’re looking for a challenging race with that “old school” vibe do this race. You wont regret it, and hey isn’t there a saying about “third time’s a charm”?

I love my mug, but does any know if it's dishwasher safe?

I love my mug, but does any know if it’s dishwasher safe?

My chest x-ray. (Well a picture I took of my chest x-ray, honestly the image quality is much better than my phones!)

My chest x-ray.

Haliburton Forest 50km Race Report

So the plan for Hali was that we would  be heading out of the city at 1pm getting up there with plenty of time to set up camp and catch up with people before the pre-race meal and meeting.  Isn’t there a saying about best laid plans?
We ended up arriving at the Haliburton Forest at 6pm just as dinner was to start.  We quickly grabbed our race kits because they had our meal tickets, but even that took longer than expected as Dan threw everyone for a loop by announcing that he would like to drop from the 100 mile to the 50km.  I was surprised but completely understood where he was coming from.  Once we got that sorted out it was off to get some grub (as usual I was starving).  Having never run this race before I loved sitting at the big tables in the chalet style restaurant listening to everyone’s excitement.  It just so happened that we ended up at the same table as Carolyn, who I’ve run with a bunch of times now, and her running partner Yves, of all the tables!  As dessert was being served a microphone started being passed around the room and we were all asked to introduce ourselves and say what race we were doing, etc.  I’m not going to lie, I was not excited at this prospect and wondered how long this was going to take, but I very quickly got swept up and enjoyed listening to all the comments and I finally got to put some names to some faces!  After saying lots of hello’s we figured we better go and find somewhere to camp, but as luck would have Dan’s friend Mitch,who’s in-laws have a trailer in the reserve, invited us to stay with him, that was awesome.  The downside was that he was stuck in traffic, so we’d have to wait for him.  Well he didn’t turn up until just after 9, then it was a 25 minute drive to the trailer, then we had to make up beds (Cameron, who was traveling with us slept on the kitchen floor!).  I tried to get myself as ready for the morning as possible but with no space to spread out it was tough, plus I just wanted to get to bed because as it was rapidly approaching 11pm and we were going to be up at 4:30, I was mostly bugged by the fact that I couldn’t tape my toes up and new I would end up paying for it.  Despite the trailer being toasty and our bed comfortable, I had a terrible nights sleep.  I heard every trip to the bathroom, woke up to find Cameron standing over me causing me to scream, scaring Cameron reaching for a pillow over me, making him scream, it wasn’t good.  I was staring at my alarm willing it to go off for what felt like hours, it finally did and it was comical to watch us all dancing around one another trying to get ready.  We somehow managed to get out the door on time.
I’m glad we made it to the start on time because Helen said a lovely prayer and then we had a piper march us to the start line.  I ran around the start line hugging my friends heading out on their first 100 mile attempts (ok maybe one or two second attempts as well) including Alex, Carolyn, and Joe, saying a silent thanks that it wasn’t me.  There was a count down and we were off!  The 6am start included the 100 mile, 50 mile and 50km racers.  It was a little dark, thankfully enough people had planned for this and their lights helped to lead the way, it also helps that the first few kilometres are on the road.
I didn’t really have a plan going into this race, I had only run 10km of the course (10km that was not in my race!) but I knew from that run that this was going to be a challenging course.  After looking at the previous years times, I figured if I finished between 7 and 8 hours and be happy and firmly mid-pack (just the way I like it).  The course is an out and back with a loop in the middle, it sounds and looks confusing but the race organizers did an amazing job of marking the course and letting us know about when we needed to pay attention.
I really struggled with the course looking at this map but once explained and I saw the flag placement it made complete sense.

I really struggled with the course looking at this map but once explained and I saw the flag placement it made complete sense.

Dan and I settled into a nice pace, by the time we hit the first trail section the runners had spread out enough that there was no conga line issues, something I did start to take issue with was the prevalent use of bear bells.  Okay I get that this is bear country (but so is Limberlost and I’ve never heard a bell there), but seriously bears are way more afraid of you and there is no proof that they work (this article quotes an expert who says you may end up attracting them)!  If you want to scare off a bear then get a bear banger, or at least get a bell with a magnet so that it doesn’t jingle until you need to make noise.  Ok rant over, where was I?  Yes I was finding myself irritable.  I think it was the lack of sleep, but I felt down right grumpy and anti social all of a sudden.  I’m sure Dan was wondering about my short one word answers, and the fact that when we passed people I only said hello instead of asking their life story as usual.  To be fair the course is stunning so I was distracted taking in the beautiful sights (and kicking myself for not bringing my camera).  It’s also gnarly, constant up and down, roots, rocks, moss, log bridges, everything and anything, so I was trying not to fall over, there wasn’t much soft ground to fall on.
After A.S.#4 Dan and I were pretty much on our own (no more bells!), he was leading and we were running some runnable trail, when I could hear two woman chatting behind us, and that was it, I passed Dan and just took off.  I just wanted to be alone in the quiet in this beautiful forest, me and my foot steps (and panting).
Running fast was therapeutic and I loved every step, in the back of my mind I knew this wasn’t sensible and that I would be miserable and cranky if I blew up but I didn’t care.  At 20km the lead runner passed me in the opposite direction, moving crazy fast, he had 10km on me!  Seeing people on their way back to the finish only made me move quicker, the lead lady went flying by looking amazing, I passed through A.S.#5 and headed to the turn around, I didn’t know how much beyond the aid station it would be (much further than I thought!) people already turned kept telling me I was almost there, finally I came up to a sign that simply said “50km turnaround”.  I stopped and stared at it.  I was on my own and was confused that there wasn’t an actual person checking off runners, to be sure I shouted “hello?!”  no one answered so I turned and headed back.  Only in ultra running would there be an honour system turnaround!
It took me 3:11 to traverse 25km and now I had to go back the way I came.  I saw Dan just as I was approaching A.S.#5, he gave me a high-five.  He looked pretty good for a guy who had hardly run in 6 weeks, a bit warm but otherwise not too bad.
At the aid station I ate some oranges and filled my water bottle.  I had made a small error in the morning, because I was cranky and being a brat and I couldn’t find my camera, I decided to just run with 1 handheld, threw some Justin’s PB in my waist belt and figured I’d be fine.  I have no idea why I thought that, I’m always hungry and 1 bottle of Vitargos was not going to last me for 50km!  I even had some in a little bag that I could have brought with me and mixed at an aid station since I only wanted carry 1 bottle, but no I was left with no choice than to eat at the aid stations and hope my tummy co-operated.
As I headed back out on course I caught up to a man and we chatted a bit and then he made some comment about running like a girl and took off.  I was left wondering what the heck he was talking about as I walked up a big hill eating my hazelnut Justin’s, so tasty.  And then the 26km runners started to pass heading to their turnaround.  I made sure to great everyone, I didn’t always receive a reply which quite frankly is just rude.  Then I noticed that I seemed to always be the one getting out of their way, and well that annoyed me so I started charging straight at everyone unless they were looking like they were going to share the trail (and I know I shouldn’t enjoy doing that, but I was running further so get out of my way!).  I caught back up to the man who had run away from me earlier and he started to tell me about all his injuries and why he was going to let me go today….let me go?  What, you’re sure you could beat me any other day? Dude get over it, a girl passed you there is no shame in that, there were lot’s of ladies ahead of you.   Anyway I told him he should just run his own race and left him in the dust this time.
Speaking of running their own race, I was starting to wonder where our friend Mitch was.  He was doing the 26km and this would be the furthest he’d ever run, it’s so exciting watching someone get into running.  Next thing I knew he popped up over a crest, I made sure was alive and told him he was doing great.  He wanted to know when I dropped Dan :)
At the next aid station I made the mistake of having some Heed, that stuff just touching my lips had my stomach flipping, thankfully the sweet volunteer saw my near vomit and swiftly took the cup away from me replacing it with water, she just smiled and said “a lot of people have that reaction to Heed”.  It has to be said all of the volunteers were amazing.  I mean fantastically amazing.  Just awesome.
Back on my way, I wondered how my brother-in-law’s 12km went.  This guy doesn’t train and is fast, my sister feels he’s part gazelle.  This was his first trail race though and I thought it might humble him, it didn’t, he was 4th male and was hanging with the winner for the first 5km!  Well done Steve.
As I came into A.S. #2 I actually saw Steve, and it took me a second to realise he was done and back to cheer us on.  What a boost, my Daddy, Sisters and best of all my 3.5month old nephew!  (Cutest little guy, aid station ladies agreed with me!)  With 12km to go mentally I felt the best I had all day (although I give my family credit for that boost) but my body was beginning to feel the hard effort and the constant terrain changes, I reminded myself that sometimes it hurts and to get on with it, I’m going to be in pain for much longer in a couple of weeks at Mogollon.
I managed to pass one man the whole Normac loop, he was lovely and tried to run with me telling me how he’d run the race 15 years prior in 4:15, he said this hurt more (we were over 6 hours now).  He finally had to walk but told me I looked great and to keep going it’s the easy road stretch, no excuses.   And that I did.  The road is rolling and had a funny slant so I was running in the middle where I was sure I’d be hit by a car, but I promised myself no stopping until the finish.  Back into A.S.#2 I was shocked to see the family still there and hugged them all again, handed off my hand held bottle and headed to the finish.  Of course it’s still 2km from there and there is hill (not steep but long), I ran every step.  Passed a guy in the 26km race who told me he pulled his groin…ok boys, seriously enough of this!  I was too happy to be finishing to worry about his ego. The final stretch is through the gate and I lucked out that a nice man was coming through and he let me through before closing it (other runners had to go around the outside of it).  I didn’t have a kick (never do so this shouldn’t have surprised me) so I stayed steady for the finish line, of course 30 meters out pulled groin guy decides he can now sprint and blows past me.  All I could do was laugh, the people on the sidelines were all commenting on what a jerk he was and good job on my finish.
Finally finishing a race happy!

Finally finishing a race happy!

All said it took me 6:46:11 and I placed 8th female and 21st overall.  Not a bad effort for what I thought in the first 10km was going to be a horrible day.
Another one for the pot!

Another one for the pot!

I have to say again that this is a fabulously run race, even at the finish someone was straight over to me with water in hand calling me by my first name (I know it’s written on my bib but it’s the extra effort to actually use my name that’s touching).  I was given a “brown bag” lunch which I wolfed down because (surprise surprise) I was starving.  Then put on some warm clothes and waited for Dan and Mitch to finish.  Mitch did great and has already signed up for another race in November (I think we’ve got him hooked).
Dan finally sauntered in, smiling and happy to have finished a race!  And that made me smile for the rest of the day.

Ultra Truths


To say that this summer has not really gone to plan with regards to racing would be somewhat of an understatement.  My training for the most part has been spot on, clicking off the distances I had prescribed for myself and over all feeling great, ramping up when I felt good and enjoying ‘bonus” runs with friends, and on the days where I wasn’t feeling at my best I would dial back, but on average always hitting the KM’s.  Races however have been a different story….

I came into the ultra season feeling strong, my winter training was focused on speed and shorter races.  With each week and each race, PB’s seemed to tumble with easy, 2 mins off a 5k, over 20 mins off a 30k, my basic 5k track workout was faster than my previous PB.  The transition to an ultra training program was smooth, factoring in more trails and adding in a second long run on Sundays.  The first trail race of the season was PYP 25k this too went great, and then immediately after racing went south….

Some of this will be a rehash so apologies, but as much as anything else I want this posting to help give me some much needed introspection.

Next up was Bear mountain, a race I had been thirsty for all winter, I had some lofty ambitions about improving on the previous years performance.  But the week before I was struck with a random injury, stepping out of bed I had shooting pains radiating from my foot to my hip, this subsided somewhat before the race but my foot was still in pain, still I decided to toe the line, quickly it became apparent that the goals I had set were not going to be realistic and I timed out at the first hard cutoff.  Now here is something that I have not discussed with anyone to this point including Heather – I was in pain, I did sit down and wallow in self-pity at an aid station gathering my thoughts, I was happy to have missed the cut-off, but here is the thing I have not admitted to myself or anyone else, I could have made that cut-off maybe not by much but I could have done it, I let myself be timed out of that race.  The pain was a factor, worrying about more damage that I could have caused also factored in there, but more than anything there was over riding sense of vanity and entitlement.  I did not want to go on if this wasn’t going to be the race I had planned, I deserve better, I will get the “planned” later, but will address the deserve now.  Quite what gave me the delusion that I deserve a given result or time is beyond me, I am still a relatively inexperienced ultra runner, but what strikes me the most as I look at this, is the notion that the race owed me something rather than the other way around.  I owe the race and myself my best effort; the race owes me nothing (well a tee shirt is nice).  I wouldn’t have finished this race and ultimately stopping was probably the right thing for my leg, but I could have maned up made that cut-off and called it quits having pushed as hard as I could to that point, leaving the best of what I had on course, instead I let the clock tick down to take that decision out of my hands.  Key Lesson = Vanity has no place in ultra or any other type of running.

Next up was the Niagara Ultra.  Here again I went in with an expectation of what I was capable of.  However this is a good news story, I set out to sub 5 hour this, despite being on pace up to around the 30k mark the heat kicked my ass, and I ended up far far slower.  The difference here was I acknowledged that I am not a good heat runner and was able to adjust my expectations.  I realigned my goals mid race, resetting my watch and in essence starting a new race mentally.  I crossed the finish line, and didn’t give a toss that my goal time had been chucked out of the window, I was happy to have adapted.  Key Lesson = Mental strength and adaptation = medal.

Limberlost, “lost” being the key part of this race, so a few things went wrong on this one.  Physically I was A-ok but I did get lost on lap one and later lost my race bib, these things added a few kilometers to my race.  After getting lost on lap one I automatically gave up on the race, I decided I would lounge around wait for Heather and then go out for a lap with her and call it a day.  I waited the better part of an hour for H before we went out together, then after some miscommunication I lost her half way around, I came in from that loop and flopped down, justifying that with my detours I was not that far off 42k anyway.  The reality is I had hours and hours to do one more lap, but again it wasn’t going to be the race “I wanted” so why bother.  So here is that vanity again, but also I think it shows a lack of respect for the people who did finish the marathon in 8 hours,  somehow I put myself above them, yet they were the ones with a medal at the end of the day not me, so who is the better runner? Key Lesson = Respect the race, respect the racers

Dirty Girls, now this one is something different again (look at me learning lessons).  The 24 hours at last years race was my A race, I loved it I got my first belt buckle and my first hallucination, so was excited to hit up this race again.  This time was the 12 hour race, run over night, I love night running so it was going to be a good time.  As we know I had a slight mishap putting a hole in my knee that required stitches and subsequently got infected.  For the infection I was given a 10 day course of antibiotics, which I was told may upset my stomach, I explained the race to the doctor and he suggested I stop taking the antibiotics the day before, I hadn’t explained it was a night race so I figured I could just stop taking them 8 hours before the race.  The running felt great and I had some great company but by the third lap I had stomach cramps and some kidney pain, I called it quits at 24k.  This time I absolutely did the right thing stopping, I was putting pressure on my body that it wasn’t up for, in essence I had done my best.  It did not however feel that way, especially not as I was shivering in the car under a picnic blanket, with thoughts of not toeing the line at Haliburton or reducing my distance running through my mind.  What I should have been doing was acknowledging on this day under these conditions I had given my all that I could/should give and far from being a bad thing that was something I should celebrate.  What more can I expect than my best on a given day. Key lesson = My best is good enough.

Acknowledging these short comings is, I believe, essential for my growth as a runner.  The entitlement and to some extent arrogance I have shown in these races has led me to feel far too much pressure which in turn means that I have not enjoyed the races, which is a shame as they are all fantastic courses run be great RD’s.  Also accepting that the people who finished and finished slower than my planned time still achieved something I did not, to the trail gods I apologise for this lack of respect.   Another question I had asked myself was around my mental toughness, am I softer than I think? The answer I came back with is probably I am, but I am tough enough to run 120k at Dirty Girls and 50 miles at Bear Mountain, so I was tough enough to have run all of these races.  Whats more is I am mentally tough enough to run a 100 miles?

Haliburton race strategy is as follows, run without a watch, run by feel, keep it simple, run happy and stay on course until I either finish or they drag me off.