Stretching My Legs

Heather

Hello? Does anyone still run at this blog site?

Well, yes and no.

Let me get everyone up it speed since my last post. I ran very little, although I did do a 25km race that I may or may not get around to writing a report for.

I was kind of busy getting stuff done for mine and Dan’s adventure. So now that we are on said adventure have we been running? Yes and no.

We didn’t at first but have finally gotten into the swing of things and been able to get some runs under our belts. Mostly short(ish) (around 10km) but we did attempt a 20 km that ended up being cut at 14 km because we couldn’t breath – we were at 10, 000 ft. above sea level. That’s really high for people who usually run at 130 ft above sea level, but this is what happens when you are in the mountains.

We’ve been doing an incredible amount of hiking though and sometimes we run a bit during those, our weekly mileage is around 70km, so lots of time on our feet. I don’t know how well that will translate to our ultra running but at least we are moving.

Anyway I wanted to share a particularly fun run that we did in Grand Teton National Park on the Two Oceans Lake trail. We chose to go from the South side around to the North, it was 10km with 400 ft of gain, so blessedly flat.

Below are some picks, oh yeah we were 7300 ft above sea level here, so it was still slow but hopefully we will start to acclimate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Lake and the Tetons

The Lake and the Tetons

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Love the wild flowers

Love the wild flowers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful trail

Beautiful trail

 

Who says you can’t go home?

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of the town I grew up in.  I had some good times there, but there were some not so great times.  Once I left I realised how little it had to offer, but 12 years later I’m might just be reconciling with my home town.

Grafitti Runners?

Graffiti Runners?

I ran my first half marathon in May 2003, I ran it with my Mommy.  We trained together and if it hadn’t been for the company I never would have made it.  I remember her and I driving in large squares trying to map out 18km and 20km routes (long before “map my run” was on the scene).  Of course because we were using a car’s odometer we ended up on dreary main roads in the area, and to be honest there was really nowhere else to run.  Mommy and I grinded out many kilometers on sidewalk-less four lane roads, with cars honking at us, drivers throwing things at us and of course if it was wet, a never-ending stream of “puddle spray”.

With Dan and I now in the final stages of planning our “great escape” my running has been very sporadic, add to that living between Toronto and Newmarket, and never being sure where my running clothes are it was inevitable that I would eventually need to do a long run in Newmarket.

Thankfully things have changed a lot, and Mommy pointed me in the direction of the Tom Taylor Trail.  I decided to head out north on the trail and ran all the way to its official finish.

On the bridge at the end of the official trail, although it looks as though there are plans to carry it on.

On the bridge at the end of the official trail, although it looks as though there are plans to carry it on.

It was a lovely day for a run

It was a lovely day for a run

From there I  decided to continue on a well trodden path I spotted.  That got interesting when a) I realised I was running through a field that some of my friends and I used to go and drink in and b)  there was bloody construction.

End of the trail

End of the trail

 

Or is it?

Or is it?

I didn’t feel like going back around, so I just bush whacked along the fence to get back to the main trail.

Out I came, clearly not the first either.

Out I came, clearly not the first either.

Back on the main path I headed south, which took me past Bayview Park where all my elementary school cross-country meets took place.  It’s changed a lot but still brought a smile to my face thinking of all the fun times I had running through the muddy park.

 

They even have cute lights along the trail

They even have cute lights along the trail

 

Very creative trail distance markers.

Very creative trail distance markers.

I decided to turn around when I hit some more construction, but was able to run back up the opposite side of the river back to the exit point closest to home.  The best part of the day was yet to come when Mommy (and Dad) took Dan and I out took a new locally owned restaurant.  I always detested that we only had chain restaurants to choose from in Newmarket and was pleasantly surprised to be shown the revival of our downtown.  And most importantly, they served good beer.

At Hungry Brew Hops Pub, Main St Newmarket

At Hungry Brew Hops Pub, Main St Newmarket

Pick Your Poison 25km 2014

Dan

Every busy schedule needs some respite. In years past that rest has been in the form of breaks from running, however the past 6 months we have been more than a little preoccupied preparing for next big adventure (read www.jfdioverland.com) so running has actually become the break, the pro of this is that any long run feels like a treat, the con is that I have turned into a rolly Polly tub of lard trundling down the trails.

So with the stress of condo rental, insurance, truck mods, route planning, and what bloody social media outlet is the most engaging and interesting for people, oh and not to mention how to pack my personal gear into a 62L tote, put to one side for the weekend (well a Saturday morning) it is time for my first race of the season, Pick Your Poison.

This is how I found myself driving a motley crew of Cam, Mitch, Ben and myself to Horseshoe ——- with Geoff meeting us there. We arrived to find the hill shrouded in fog and still covered in snow, conditions obviously weren’t going to be quite as conducive to a fast run as they were last year, that combined with getting fat over a cold ass winter and all reasons/excuses for not getting a PB were in place. Now don’t be thinking that this is one of those under dog stories where at the end I triumphantly dip at the line to shave a second off last years time, I didn’t, in fact I added several hundred seconds to last year. Ok there, that is out of the way, so I can continue and any of you reading won’t have false expectations.

It was great seeing all our trail buddies coming out of hibernation, it was unfortunate that Heather had to work, however Mitch and Geoff were keeping me suitably entertained. Mitch had decided to throw down the gauntlet and declare that he would be pipping Geoff to the finish on this day, Mitch is an aspiring ultra runner, where Geoff is much more of an ultra veteran, still I thought this may be an entertaining dual as Mitch has been training hard in preparation for Sulpher 50k his first ultra. Geoff was a little taken a back by the challenge but more than happy to take up this whipper snappers challenge.

The race started at pretty gentle pace, the trails certainly were going to be challenging. I got to catch up with a few more friends on that first loop. Just after the first aid station I decided to look back and see how the Mitch-Geoff battle was shaping up, I saw Geoff was a minute or so behind me so I waited for him to catch up, we chatted for a while and established that Mitch was just behind. Mitch caught up and we cruised together for a while with me chastising Geoff for his decision to sign up for a Tough Mudder. Near the end of the first lap I pulled away from the boys on some long up hills.

At the start of the second loop I was going to wait for the guys and run some more with them and watch their battle unfold, but at the first aid station I got talking to a girl I had been running just behind during loop 1, and we ran together for half of that second loop having a good old natter so time just flew by. The only slight hiccup of our time running together came when we were taking about work life balance, as the word balance left her lips she tripped and hit the deck hard, fortunately the irony did not escape her and we had a good laugh about it after she had dusted herself down. I had put some distance between myself and the boys but had been able to catch glimpses of them as the trails switched back and forth. I saw that Geoff had built a lead over Mitch but couldn’t really tell by how much.

The trails were enormous fun, I actually really enjoyed all the slipping and sliding, then to cap off a great race I got lapped by a 50k runner a couple of minutes from the finish, not normally a bonus, but it was Simon Donato from the TV show Boundless, we had a brief chat and I was a little star struck.

I happily collected my socks and settled in to wait for the boys battle to pan out. To my surprise Geoff game blasting in just a few mins later, he must have turned on the afterburners in the later half of that last lap. Mitch came in not too long after, but I made sure to be fully changed for when he did just to psych him out, young grasshopper needs the odd slap down. Mitch was delighted however this was only his second time running this distance on the trails and he had taken the better part of an hour off his previous time.

The rest of the morning was spent chowing down on the awesome post race food, and waiting for our 50k friends to finish up.  Shout out to Melanie who took third female in the 50k.

The only low point of the day was the near 3 hours it took to drive home.

Only two more races before we head out on our big trip.

www.jfdioverland.com

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

Finished!
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.

Why

 

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.