Last year when I went to Seattle for work I decided if I ever got the opportunity to go again I’d spend a few extra days there. That opportunity came with a bonus, due to back-to-back work events on the west coast, I was there for the weekend!
I was really excited and did plenty of research on the nearby trails and look around for running groups I could meet up with. Through Facebook I learned of the High Heel Running Group, a local group of women who meet up to run every Saturday morning at Cougar Mountain which is the closest set of trails to downtown Seattle. Perfect! Sunday I left a bit more opened with a few possibilities for trails to hit and leaving it opened to potentially connect with someone from the Saturday group.
Before hitting the trails on the weekend, I was able to get out for a few runs during the week in the city as well. Once again Seattle did not disappoint!
Saturday morning came and one of the leaders of the group graciously picked me up from my hotel and drove me out to the trail head! Such a great gesture that really spoke to how the rest of the run would go. It was a fabulous group of women and the trails were amazing! They area had recently received a dusting of snow so the trees were gorgeous but the trail itself was untouched. Such spectacular scenery and conditions to be running through!
I was a bit worried going into the run that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the climbs. Sure Ontario has hills, but its hard pressed to find a hill longer than 600m. What would I find in the mountains? Fortunately given that Cougar Mountain is near the start of the mountain range, the elevation changes were not much different from home. Also the pace of the group was great and I was able to keep up just fine.
It was an amazing run, I highly recommend hooking up with the High Heel Running Group to any ladies who find themselves in the area!
Unfortunately the weather was not on my side for Sunday. It had gotten even colder and snowed even more. I found out online the trails I was interested were pretty deep with snow. I’d also hoped to summit a mountain but with the high amount of overcast the visibility would have been non existent. And most of all it just would not have been safe to make the journey out there.
In the city it was raining and cold, and this suburban running was growing a little weary of downtown running so I hit the treadmill at the gym. But hey! They did have the fancy ‘trail running’ machines!
I definitely plan to return to the Seattle area one day, just maybe in the summer next time ;).
Having done Moraine Adventure Relay the past couple years, I am a huge fan of relay style events. I love being part of the team and cheering teammates through their legs. With relay races it’s less about running and more about your team. When it comes down to it, very little of your time is spent running, most of it you’re supporting your teammates or just hanging out and bonding over the shared experiences of the day.
When Ragnar announced their trail event for Barrie I like many others took interest. I liked the idea of it being held all in one location instead of point-to-point like Moraine, very key with a race that takes over 24 hours to complete (Moraine is 10-13 hours). But with saving to buy a condo this fall, I knew I needed to be very frugal with any races I took part in this year. I had already turned down another event that same weekend for that very reason. And with a race already planned for September, I let the idea of Ragnar go.
That is until about a month before the event I was presented with the opportunity to join the Get Out There Magazine team. Naturally I jumped up and down at the chance and was thrilled to join this team of women (and our token male). It was a team pulled together through various friends and acquaintances, on our team of 8 I knew only one other woman and even her not very well. I really like that about our team, the most people anyone knew before this were 2 others so we’d all get to spend the weekend getting to know each other.
We got together a couple weeks prior to the event to discuss some logistics and our plans for the day. We then kept in contact in a Facebook chat and planned everything out through a Google Sheet. So race morning we were ready!
The race officially began at 9am with our team schedule to start at 10am. Ragnar assigned each team a start time based on average pace times we’d submitted at registration. They had small groups heading out all day long with the fastest teams starting in the evening.
Since we were starting at 10am we wanted to be there early to get our campsite set-up before the race. I carpooled out to Barrie with 2 other ladies, and of course we got stuck in traffic. We’d aimed to be there around 7:30 but got there just after 8. We unloaded our stuff, brought it up to our campsite, then headed over to registration to watch the instructional safety video. Once checked in we headed back to camp and started getting the tents set-up.
Once that was done we headed down to the transition zone to take our team photo and get ready for our start. I was to be our kick off runner and get it all started, I was pretty excited! It was a chilly morning but would be perfect for the run.
Ragnar is set-up with 3 loops, Green (easy), Yellow (medium), and Red (hard), each runner would get to run each loop once for a total of 24km. As the first runner my order was Green, Red, Yellow. So 10am I head out on the green loop with all the other 10am start teams.
The green loop was my favourite, I was able to run every single hill and it was full of flowy single track mountain bike trails, so much fun to run. I ended up running the entire loop with 2 other ladies. We were a silent group focused on the trails and pushing each other to keep going. It wasn’t until the last km when we finally spoke and I learned 1 woman was up here from Tennessee, they’d brought 3 teams with them (whoa!), naturally, Tennessee, trail runners, Barkley is discussed. I learn the other woman is from Toronto and we discuss the upcoming screen of Gary Robbin’s film, Where Dreams Go to Die, which we both got tickets to.
Finishing my lap I hand our bib off to team captain Diana and she heads out on the Yellow loop. The team was all there to cheer me in/Diana off and after we all head back to camp. They’d been busy finishing off the campsite decorations while I was running so everything was all set-up and awesome!
Ragnar had ‘one mile to go’ signs on each of the loops which we started using to warn the team we’d be coming through soon so the next person could get ready.
At 1pm there was free yoga being hosted and we all thought, why not? Well I’ll tell you why not, for someone who only sporadically practices yoga, and does no other strength training, a 1 hour flow class will tire your legs out! By the time my second lap came around at 6:30 (you know red, the hardest one) my legs were feeling the yoga! Suffice it to say my second lap went pretty terribly. It was lots of rolling steep climbs and descents my legs had not interest in running.
The red loop had this plank walk element to it, there was a plank and about a foot and a half drop to the ground. As we knew some of our team members would be running this loop in the dark we warned them of this part so they wouldn’t just step off and crash on their face. So apparently we warned them too well of this drop and they were all expecting they would have to dive off into the abyss. So they laughed at our apparent exageration and we justified it since no one fell on their face!
After I was done my second loop I put on some warm dry clothes then headed to get some dinner which was provided by Ragnar to all participants as part of the entry. Was I ever impressed! A massive spread of chicken parm, pasta, warm veggies, grains, fresh fruit and amazing cookies. They had big pieces of bread too so I made a chicken parm sandwich and made the rest of the team jealous since they failed on the geniusness.
Most of the day and night was spent at camp chatting with teammates. A pleasant surprise was learning many of them were swimmers, and I found out me and Mauro (our token male) knew a lot of the same people. Small world this running community.
At some point I decided I’d try to get some rest. Figuring it would be a restless sleep I didn’t bother setting an alarm. Lindsay was in my tent and she was running right before me so I assumed I’d wake up when she started moving around and all would be good.
Well that didn’t happen.
I ended up getting woken up 30 minutes before I had to run. Alex who ran right before Lindsay was getting her ankle wrapped (she’d twisted it on her leg :() so she was late getting back to camp to warn me. Mauro had tried calling me, my phone was right by my head but I was so dead to the world asleep I didn’t notice. So 30 minutes to go before run time, I throw around all my stuff getting dressed and then trying to locate my water bottle which my headlamp is in. Stumble out of camp run to the bathroom and I’m set to go with a couple minutes to spare before Lindsay comes through.
With a slap to the butt I’m off on my last loop, this one yellow. Being 3:30am I have zero idea what the loop was like. There were some hills, there was some boardwalk. There was an open area which was FREEZING. I took my time as I’m not good with unfamiliar trails in the dark. Nor am I very use to night running without a whole crew of headlamps to help light up the place. When I do solo trail runs in the winter they’re normally early evening so there’s still a slight glow of sun lingering and close to city lights so it’s never completely dark. The first bit of the run was kind of isolating but then I started coming across people and as you get deeper into the trails you start seeing headlamps all over the place of other runner which is kind of really spectacular to see. I would have loved to see a drone shot of the event at night.
The last 1km of each loop was identical as all 3 joined together. I really enjoyed that aspect as you got familiar with the trail it helped you bring in a good final kick. It also had a perfect gentle downhill finish you could really fly down. The end of my second lap was solid for that. For my third less so since it was dark I was less sure of my footing and wasn’t able to kick it up as much as I had hoped.
Done all my laps I ran back over to camp (had to run it was COLD and I was in only a thin sweaty long sleeve). Put on dry clothes and bundled up. My phone was ready to die so I headed back down to the transition area where they had a charging area. While I was there, Patty (the only other one I knew before this event) came down to get her phone charged up before her last loop (she was after Diana). I chatted with her while our phones charged and then sat by the fire for a bit to get warm. By this point the post-run chill had set in. As the sun was rising I cheered Diana in and Patty off and then headed back to camp. The rest of the crew was getting up by this point and we spent the rest of the morning chatting and tearing the campsite down.
When Lindsay was close to being done we all headed down to cheer her in and so we could all run across the finish line together.
We then got out medals, took our team photo, and did the last shot Diana needed for her review for the magazine.
Afterwards we got the cars packed up said our goodbyes to an amazing weekend and headed home.
I didn’t really know what to expect going into Ragnar, and I was really blown away by everything. I suppose since they do so many of these all across North America they really have it down pact. But I was still really impressed by how smooth everything was. It was more about the experience and being with your team then running a race and I really enjoy that.
Also they kept the fire going all night and the s’more supplies so I ate about 5000 graham crackers for breakfast and have zero regrets about it.
Huge shout out and thanks to Diana, Alex & Get Out There Magazine for this experience!!
Check out Diana’s video review below from Get Out There Magazine, she does a much better job of summarizing the events than I do!
Even before last year’s Sulphur Springs Trail race I knew I would not be able to participate in this year’s race. My friend had already claimed me for the weekend as I was to be a Bridesmaid in her wedding. I knew with a wedding on the Friday night, a race on Saturday would be out of the question but I would happily volunteer in the afternoon and help support whichever Burlies would end up racing.
Then in the fall when the 200 miler was announced one of the Burlies decided to take on the crazy challenge and I told him I would help in any way I could.
Earlier this year as plans settled out with my friend’s wedding knowing I’d need to head out to Cambridge Thursday evening I decided I’d take Thursday off work and help out at the race. I would then be in Cambridge/Waterloo until Saturday when I would head straight back over to the race until it was over.
4 days, 2 very big, very different events.
The 4 days kicked off Thursday morning as I made my way to Ancaster for 8:30, the Burly Trail Runners had been granted space by our friend and Sulphur Springs co-race director Tim to set up a tent for the weekend for David, our 200-miler, and any other Burly to drop their stuff. We set up the tent and hung our banner then I headed over to the registration tent to check-in for my volunteer duties. Pretty easy gig to start off I was helping with registration with the other volunteers, with only 28 registered it was a pretty lax time.
The 200-miler breakfast was also under the tent so we got to listen to their instruction and then enjoy the food afterwards.
So most of the morning was spent chatting with the other volunteers (mostly all Burlies – go us!) and the 200 milers who were all looking very calm and ready to go. About 15 minutes before the start I headed out onto the trail for my marshall spot about 2km into the race. It was then I discovered the coat I had on while plenty warm for the weather, was not a waterproof as I thought, and the rain was coming down pretty steady, and I had no umbrella. I was out there for close to 15 minutes after the race started before the first runner came through and within a few minutes they’d all gone by and I headed further down the trail to where I knew there was a covered bench. I’d wait here until I saw the first runners headed back and then go back to my post. When David passed by I told him I might be back up at the tent when he finished his first loop (the 200 milers would be doing 16, 20km loops). The 200 milers hadn’t gotten too spread out yet by that point (about 11km in) so I was back at home base well before he came through.
I stayed by the tent ready to help with anything he needed coming through, still early in the race he was gone in a flash but he asked to have his extra bottle filled up for his next lap. After he was gone I went and finally changed into some dry clothes and an actual waterproof jacket. Knowing we had about 3 hours before he would come through again I hung out with the other Burlies there and started assisting with kit stuffing and pick-up for the other races. We got about a 5 minute warning before David was heading up to the finish thanks to Dan who was filming the 200-milers and keeping an eye on the hill.
He was through the tent quickly again, this time grabbing his lights incase he needed them at the end of the next lap. He also mentioned he was behind on food already and took some to go. Jenn was also there with me and we wished him well as we’d both need to leave and wouldn’t be there for his next laps. We were a bit worried as no one was stationed to be there to crew him that night but found out another Burly (Steve H) there to crew another 200-miler would keep an eye out and help him with anything. We got his bottle ready for him for the next lap then I headed on my way to Cambridge.
For the next 48+ hours I was able to follow along with his progress through Facebook. Vince texted me in the evening wanting to help in anyway he could, I suggested he bring him some soup which he did and then ended up staying there while he slept and got him ready to head out on his next lap with a group of other runners.
I got back to the race around 12:30pm Saturday and was happy to be able to see Jenn come through between lap 3 and 4 of her 50 miler as well as Steve F. between lap 3 and 4, Patty between lap 2 and 3 of her 100km, also saw Grace come through a lap on her 100km, not sure what lap she was on actually, might have been 3. Also saw many other people I knew in various stages of their race. David came through with Liz during all this and we got him set-up for his next lap with Michelle. At this point we know he’s behind schedule and know we need to start pushing him.
Soon after Shaun, Cody and Bogdan came through the finish of their 50km, the 3 of them had run the whole thing together. Steve F. also came through I almost missed him and cheered from the back of the tent. I had some warning before Jenn came up for her 50mile finish so I was able to get the flag out and wave it for her, she killed it!
It’s then a waiting game for David to come through again. During this time Gemma took a look at his schedule and the time left. He’d have to stay under 4 hours per loop in order to have 1 hour of play time to come in on time. Not a lot to work with so we immediately know he’s not getting the nap that was originally planned between laps 12 and 13.
Patty comes through finishing her 3rd lap while we’re waiting. Steve F. is still hanging around from his 50miler ready to hang with Patty through her next lap. Just before 7 David comes up, about the same time Scott, his overnight pacer, shows up with fresh food. We don’t waist too much time getting him ready but his quads are bothering him so he does head over to a friend for a quick massage before I head out with him on his next lap.
Having never paced before I was nervous for this. He’d told me a few days previously I’d need to stay ahead of him. Michelle also told me to run ahead when we’re close to one of the aid stations to get food ready for him. So with that in mind got ahead of him and we made our way down the hill. He was not happy with the downhill but once at the bottom he started to jog. I then spent the loop trying to stay a head of him but not too much. I’m not very chatty so I was worried about this, but hoped he realized going into it. I updated him on the other Burlies and would shout out anything else I could think of every so often. He was directing me on parts of the trail which I found funny, but having gone through it 12 times already he knew which sides of the trial was better for the mud.
I ran ahead to the first aid station and asked them to get food ready. They mentioned they also had tortellini now after confirming it was nut/soy free I ran back and asked if he wanted that. He did so I ran back got that for him, he ate that there and then took soup for the road. He was making great time on this first half. I ran ahead once again as we were heading back to the first aid station, he said he wanted tortellini and had enough of the soup. Unfortunately they only had sauced ready which had nuts in it so one of the volunteers scooped up just the noodles from the soup and I gave that to him instead. His quads were still bothering him and the lady who’d massaged him before the loop suggested child’s pose. One of the volunteers had a yoga mat for him and he got down into child’s pose. It didn’t look much like child pose by that point so I asked if he wanted me to push on his back. He did and asked me to count to 10 and then do it again. Got him up and then carried on. We were heading into the tougher part of the course but were making great time. We started the lap after 7 and had cleared the first 10k by 8:59. I was determined to get him through the second half in under 2 hours. He sent me ahead again before the next aid station, he wanted to do child’s pose again, no one had a yoga mat but we got a box set-up instead. I also checked what food they had, they didn’t have anything warm, the best they had were some pirogies but they didn’t have the package anymore so I didn’t want to offer them to him unsure if they were nut/soy free. After child’s pose he picked at some fruit and carried on. I was hoping I could push him through the stick of the lollipop since he’d slowed a bit with the rollers through G. Donald & Reforestation but with all the mud it was down to a hike for most of it. We did pass a ton of runners through here including Steve and Patty once again (who we’d passed near the start), which I think helped him a bit, even though it was dark by this point and we couldn’t tell who was who half the time, he tended to pick it up a bit whenever we came across others.
He was really strong on uphills right to the end so we came through the 3 sisters pretty well but they tired him out a bit and we hiked a lot of the top portion but I did get him to eat some of the food he had on him. He then told me he wanted to start running again once the terrain flattened out and then run the downhill. I knew by the pace he was doing on the other downhills they must have been bothering him so I was surprised by this but ready to run down with him. Getting out of the stick we meet Scott at the aid station. I had texted him earlier while running ahead to that aid station to see if he could bring down a yoga mat but the reception is spotty there so he didn’t get it until later. He tossed off some encouragement to David and then headed back up the hill ahead of us to get ready for his turn.
Though he had slowed a bit in the second half his pace was still good and I was able to get him through the lap before 11. He wanted another massage before heading out again but we couldn’t find her so Gemma did what she could while he ate. Scott asked for any advice I had. I told him about the aid station with tortellini, pushing down very lightly for child’s pose, that he was strong on the uphills but slower on the downhills and to run all the flats.
Once they were off I headed back to my car and took off in search of food. I’d completely forgotten to eat before my loop with him so at this point I’m a bit out of it from lack of sleep (only got about 5 hours after the wedding) and lack of food all day. Ended up at McDonalds, I ordered an extra burger and fries incase David wanted them later. I then headed back to the race parking lot and napped in my car, nearly missing his next lap – cozier than I thought in there! The burger came in handy as he requested one to Scott when they were only a few k away, without much time Gemma sent out a desperate message on FB after not hearing from me and when I woke up I came running over saying I had one.
Saw Greg was also at the tent, he was waiting for Patty to finish. David came up and we quickly got him ready for his next lap. While that happened Greg had disappeared so I chatted with Tim while waiting for him. He finally re-appeared, Patty must have texted him she was close as he’d run down to meet her. He’d come up to the finish ahead of her to get a photo. I hung around for a few minutes after her finish and then I headed back to my car for another nap.
Up around 6am I got changed, getting ready to head out for his final lap. I was out of clean clothes by this point and the only light-weight stuff I had was still wet from my lap with him early. Long sleeve hooded shirt would have to do.
We had a whole crew of Burlies ready to come out with him for his last loop and more that joined him along the way. I was holding back tears pretty much the whole lap thinking about how awesome the Burlies are and about how David was going to finish this crazy thing and under time. Like the night before, David was really strong on the first half, at one point running so strong the rest of us were kind of like whoa okay, we are RUNNING. His mind was sharp the whole way too, even though there were parts he wasn’t talking much, he still managed to give Matthew the finger when Matthew said he was tired from his 25k the day before, great moment. He had a bunch of fruit at the Martin Rd aid station and we gave him a straight pack of sugar which helped a lot it seemed as we actually got some full sentences out of him soon after, so we kept feeding those to him.
Still strong on the uphills he got through the 3 sisters quickly – after a mild panic with some unleashed dogs. The hardest part was getting him down the lollipop as the downhills were really bothering him by this point and the poles weren’t being of any use. Down and out of the lollipop for the last time we reward him with more sugar.
Finally back onto the road and that’s an emotional moment as he makes his way toward the hill for the last time. At the bottom of the hill we get him in front of us so he can lead us all up. We see Dan 1/3 up with his camera recording the climb he’s on a lookout and comes down to meet us to get some closer shots. About halfway up the hill you can see the cheer section and they start going crazy once they see us coming around the bend. Someone has the Burly flag out waving him home. Right near the top he hands off the poles ready to run through the finish.
An incredibly emotional journey we all let our the tears we’d been holding back all morning. I was so proud to have been there to witness this amazing accomplishment and to help and cheer on all the other Burlies. And I’m so proud of my entire crew in everything that went on this weekend and the amount of love and support that came out of that tent. I shared this on the Burly Facebook page after the race.
Just want to say how proud I am of everyone who was at Sulphur this weekend, whether you raced, paced, crewed, volunteered or all of the above. The amount of support coming out of that tent was amazing. I witnessed so many people 100% there for others, even those they never even met before. You should all be so proud of what was accomplished this weekend. Now let’s take a nap!
Well it’s been over a week now since I ran Seaton Soaker 50k. I’ve been putting this off, I kind of just want to move on from the race. It started off really well and I had a great first half of the race. And then it fell a part, and I let it happen, and it just got worse and worse and worse. My second lap took over 45 minutes longer than my first lap.
If that’s not a disastrous second half I don’t know what is.
The irony of this post is all my photos I’m super happy and exited. All the photos shown in this recap are from the first half of the race. There were no photographers out my second lap, I doubt I would have been able to even fake it for the camera by that point even if there were. So while I had a really awesome first half and everything was going great I was feeling optimistic and positive. I had a plan for the second lap that I could only walk the hills that I walked in the first half and I was going to stick to that.
I can’t even pin point what went wrong I left for my second lap in good spirits. I knew I had a 1km section of road ahead of me but was fine with that. The sun had come out which I wasn’t happy about but I was still thinking it’d be fine once I got onto the trail. But the trail wasn’t very shady for the first few kilometres and I started to worry I’d get a sun burn.
My legs were a bit tired but nothing hurt. I just wanted to be done. Onwards I went.
Got to the first aid station filled up my water, off again. Feeling even lower. Just focused on getting to the next one. The next one was about halfway through the out and I asked if they happened to have any sunscreen. One of the volunteers found some in his car and another helped me put it on the back of my shoulders (this aid station in general was amazing such amazing people all of them, there was also a Burly at this station). I also ate some fruit and finally felt ready to run again. Of course there’s a big hill soon after this. I came across a friend at this point he was coming down the hill on his way back, he asked how I was I said I was feeling better and he gave some encouraging words.
By the time the trail had levelled out again any of the positive vibes I’d gained at the aid station had fizzled away. I focused on just getting to the next aid station which was the turn around telling myself I’d feel better then because then it was really almost over.
I’m at the back of the pack so runners are really spread out so there wasn’t much activity at the turn around point. I was relieved to be there had some fruit and chips and headed back.
But things didn’t get any better and my mood dropped fast. I thought I’d feel better and I don’t so I’m starting to feel really upset and sad. I think I spent about half that trip back on the brink of tears. I wanted cookies and ice cream to drown my sorrows. Back at the mid-way aid station they had brownies, those would do. I ate a couple and some fruit then took off walking up the road hill (which I’d run most of on the first lap) eating brownies.
I know at this point there’s about 7.5k left hoping this would motivate me, it doesn’t. I continue on the run some walk some trot of sadness I’d been doing for most of the second half. I just wanted to be done and I have no reason for why. Something in me just gave up and didn’t want to do it anymore.
At the last aid station I can see the water crossing crew walking by all packed up with their gear. This just brings me more sadness as this is taking me so long even the crews are leaving. So I make the water crossing with no rope to hold on to upset and annoyed and feeling very very alone. I have less than 3k to go at this point but I’m still struggling with getting myself to run continuously. I’m at the point where I can accurately figure out how much longer this will be, telling myself times I can make if I just get running continuously. But it doesn’t help, I’m already too upset with myself for how much longer this took than it should of and how I had no excuse. I didn’t think there was any chance this would take over 7 hours yet here I was, well over that.
Eventually I cross the finish line and have 2 friends there waiting for me to cheer me in. I was just so relieved that its over. They don’t even know what I was feeling but both say exactly what I needed to hear to help some of the disappointment wash away.
It wasn’t all bad, like I said the first half was great, and it really was. I had a great time and had fun seeing all the other runners out, seeing friends along the course, meeting and chatting with a lady from instagram I’ve been following for years, I felt great and happy. I don’t know how it all fell a part so badly, nothing hurt, physically I was fine – or fine enough, but I just couldn’t get past my head. At least I didn’t give up, at least I finished.
It’s been over a week, I’ve started to move on from the disappointment and started to focus more on what I accomplished and on the positives of the race and my experience. The awesome free photos I got help!
I am relieve to say though that my next race is a 25k (Chase the Cayote in September), maybe I’ll seek a 50k redemption but for now I’m really happy to get back to a mid-distance race and focus more on getting some speed back and feeling really comfortable with 20-25k runs. I’m done with running over 30k for awhile!
Gear: Burly Singlet, Asics capris & hat, Wrightsocks, New Balance Minimus 10v4, Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta
Fuel: Nuun Plus x2, 1 Honey Stinger Waffle & oranges, watermelon, chips, veggie straws, brownies from aid stations.
This hasn’t been a great month, things were going pretty well, and then they weren’t. I started having trouble with my lungs again, I went to the after hours clinic but the Doctor there wasn’t to sure, he gave me an inhaler and sent me for a chest x-ray. It helps sometimes but feels more like a bandaid. I do really need to get in to see my own doctor since I trust her much more than others but that’s hard to do when you don’t get sick days and your doctor is in a different city from your office.
And then 2 weeks ago I’m feeling like my hormone levels suddenly went crazy, everything was fine and then out of nowhere I put on a bunch of weight within about week. I thought maybe my PCOS was flaring up but so far no obvious trouble there for this month. I also started feeling incredibly tired and I’m way more sore after workouts then I should be. So it’s been hard to get myself out there particularly on the weekends since I’m so tired and laziness just leads to more laziness for me. Think I may need to make some diet adjustments and maybe cut out sugar again to see if that helps kick things back in place.
Despite all this it hasn’t been the worst training month, I’ve gotten all my long runs in, the only one I missed was the weekend my lungs were really bad and last weekend I rested a lot more than intended since I’d been so tired but still got out for my long run thanks to it being a long weekend.
This weekend is a scale back weekend for me so I’m taking it easy again and hoping I can kind of reset everything. Yesterday I did Polar Rush with another Burly which was a lot of fun but a struggle in the snow. They had a lot of snow up there (Barrie) and with the mild temperatures the snow was not the good kind for running in. Most of the course hadn’t been well trampled yet since we were in an early wave and we also had to try to manoeuvre around deep foot prints that had been made some time before the event when the snow was fresh. Made for a slow slog through the snow but a fun time. We were going to go for a run after but with the conditions we’d just gone though we were not eager to check out the rest of the trails around the resort so we headed back home instead.
I’m feeling positive about March being a better month, I’ve been a bit isolated this month socially since friends have been busy so I’ve been spending a lot of time alone which is never good for me and hasn’t helped my situations. But my best friend should be around again also it’s my birthday month! And my birthday is on a Friday this year so that’s awesome. I may see about taking a half day or maybe even the day off and getting in a run :).
Oh Long Run. My problem isn’t the long run itself. How could it be with the distances I run? The long run is, and always has been my favourite run. I doubt I’d still be running without it. Early on I quickly switched from my 5k at a time to a long-run style plan. Granted at the time my long run wasn’t even at 10k as I built up my base. There was still something very peaceful about the mindset of a long run. You’re just out there, enjoying running, and there’s something so relaxing about exhausting yourself. When you’re done you feel like you’ve really accomplished something.
My problem with the long run is getting myself out the door. Despite how much I love being out there for hours. There’s that little lazy side of me that wants to put it off 5 more minutes. This happened last weekend. I had the opportunity to run with some friends, and don’t get me wrong I love long runs with friends, some of my favourite moments from the past year were during some crazy long run with a couple friends, you can have a ton of fun out there. But last weekend I just wanted to run alone, I wanted to be out by myself for a couple of hours in the trails.
So Sunday morning, I set an alarm because I know how I am. This is how I am, the alarm goes off and morning self thinks, nah, I can sleep more. So I sleep in. And I’m not at all a productive person when I sleep in. It puts me in a very lazy mood and I just want to continue laying around all day. So this is how my morning goes, eventually I do get myself out of bed, but I start thinking, I don’t need to get going immediately, I can take my time, eat some breakfast, hey I got time, I’ll watch a movie. And another, and another. Until it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon and I’m thinking ‘shoot! I need to get going!’ Somehow I still take my time getting ready and so by this point there’s no way the long run will happen. Largely because there’s not enough daylight left and I had no interest in running in the dark that day and also because I had to be at our New Years family dinner. And so a planned 20-22k run became the 7k I could fit in before dinner/sunset.
Luckily I had the next day off and was able to do my long run Monday instead. And again we had a repeat of Sunday, but slightly more successful as I was outside at 1pm and had the time to get in my full run. About 3 hours later than I’d planned, but I had a lovely time while I was out there and it was exactly what I’d been wanting and needing.
When I plan to run with people, none of this happens. I wake up and get myself out the door immediately and I’m usually early to show up as well. I set that alarm and get up when it goes off because I have somewhere I need to be. I wish it would work the same when I’m running alone. I even try taking the same approach, I want to be at x location by x time. But morning comes and I’m thinking, oh what for I can sleep a little longer…
I need to figure out a way to get myself out there on days when I just want to run alone. Im thinking of some ways to use people to do this. Buddy up with someone I know doesn’t want to run as long so we meet, I run with them for their run and then continue on for the rest of mine. Or I find a friend in the same situation, who feels the same, they’re I’m need of a solo run, but they know they won’t if they don’t have that obligation. So we agree to meet at a location at a certain time. And then we go do our own runs.
A video posted by Burly Trail Runners (@burlytrailrunners) on Dec 31, 2016 at 9:27am PST
The year didn’t start well for me with a chest infection and winter all arriving together I had some tough runs physically that started a domino of mental struggles that lasted until May/June. I held on and I pushed through and I spent the summer building myself back up.
It was around August when I really started feeling great again, it was then I realized I was not only back to where I was with my running, but stronger. I did a ton more trail running this year than last so all those hills have really helped me gain strength and paid off on the road too as a nabbed a Half marathon PR at the Oakville Half despite limited speed work.
And as mentioned I ran my longest distance yet (45.5km) in November at the Fat Ass Badass 6 Hour run and got Top Female Badass at the race for being first place female. One of my proudest moments of the year as it really caps off how far I’ve come since the start and I was so happy to have some Burlies there to share it with.
Outside of running I got to watch my oldest friend get married, welcomed some new members into my family – a sister-in-law and a puppy nephew. Travelled around Scandinavia with my best friend. And mostly just had a lot of fun! On the trails, in the pool, on my bike, on my SUP, with the Burlies, with other friends, it was a good year for me!
Had never really considered one before, mostly because of the mud bit. I mean I’ll go play in the mud I don’t mind that. But, I don’t want any in my eyes. So therefore I don’t consider it. Also I’m going to pass on monkey bars.
So, why now?
Because it’s a winter one!! No mud all snow HOW FUN!!!
Some of the obstacles are actually just sliding down a hill on a tube/carpet. YEAH I’LL DO THAT!
I’ll just conveniently forget that I’ll likely have to do some kind of monkey bar-style obstacle.
12 obstacles over 5km should be a lot of fun! I signed up for the timed event because why not.
This all actually ties in nicely as I’ve decided to commit to rock climbing this winter. Climbing is something I’ve done sporadically over the past 5 years or so as I’m forever loosing climbing partners. But now, after once again loosing another climbing partner (they keep moving away!), I’ve decided to put on my big girl pants and just go solo. Which means a lot of bouldering in my future, something I’ve never actually done before tonight. I always stuck to top roping.
So bouldering is a lot harder than top rope. I’ve never once felt the need to use chalk while top roping. Within minutes of bouldering tonight I was thinking how helpful chalk would be, my grip was the first thing to weaken tonight, I was expecting it to be my forearms since aside from 2 weeks ago I haven’t been climbing in a year. But it was my hands this time. Doesn’t help that with so little climbing and gym time in the last couple years the calluses I’d built are all but gone. So now I have new ones being born all across my hands.
I have a few passes left on my clip card then I think I’ll buy a 3 month membership to get me through the winter. The gym I go to also has yoga so I’ll have a studio again. I left my old studio last spring since I wasn’t going much and wasn’t a fan of the new owners. I’ve never been to the yoga at the climbing gym but I do know a couple of the instructors so that’s good.
So, that will nicely take care of my cross training for the winter and get me will prepped for my 50k I’ll be training for. Still haven’t settled on what 50k yet, I’ll get that finalized in January probably. It’s not big deal at the moment. I know I’ll do one and don’t need to hyper target my training plan for a specific date since I’m already trained for the distance. I’ve taken the past couple weeks since my 6h pretty easy but am starting to slowly ramp back up now.
On Sunday November 13 I participated in my first proper trail race, the 6 hour BadAss run part of the Fat Ass Trail Race in Batawa, ON. This is a 6.5km course you run as many times as you can in 6 hours.
(I’m sorry this report is long I tried to trim it but failed, I like details okay!)
I first heard about the race from a Twitter friend (@erinmcdougall)when I was tweeting about wanting to find a 25k trail race to run in prep for a 50k next Spring. It wasn’t one I had heard of as it’s a small race located in a small town. I was instantly intrigued as it was the only local(ish) trail race that had a date that worked well for me. Also, since it was still a ways out in terms of training, the 6hour was looking mighty tempting.
I put out the word on the Burly Facebook group about this race to see if anyone was interested, quickly had a few people commit so I knew I’d run this, it was just a matter of picking between 25k and 6 hours. 25k seemed like a smarter choice but 6hours was real tempting. What finally pushed my decision was when the race organizers announced the first 30 to sign up for the 6hour would get a free hat. I needed the hat.
Flash forward to Saturday, myself and the 4 other Burlies who were registered to run carpooled out for the 2 hour drive to Quite West. Our first stop was Tri & Run Sports in Trenton where we picked up our race kits. Myself and two other Burlies would be running the 6hour run the next day. Our kit was a black BadAss scarf, a Fat Ass soup mug, a GU gel, travel Dove body wash, a piece of halloween chocolate and of course, the BadAss hat!
The two other Burlies who would be participating in the distance races had registered with the no-swag option (only 20 bucks!), otherwise they would have received the same soup mug we got.
Done at Tri & Run (after lingering to look at everything, and pet their dog!) we decided to make a stop at the ski hill before heading to our AirBnB. Two reasons, so we could check out the hill, and so we’d know our route the next morning.
We got to the ski hill and after consulting the Strava of runner from last year were relived to learn we would NOT be running up the actual ski portion of the hill. That thing was STEEP. We found the trail path up to the side of the ski runs which looked much less like we would die. Relief.
We then drove over to the AirBnB, checked the place out (bedrooms and bathrooms galour!), got our stuff inside and chatted for a bit before heading back to Trenton to get dinner. We had a reservation at Tomasos where we would be meeting up with Erin from Twitter along with his wife, and 2 neighbours one of whom would also be running the race the next day.
Tomasos is an Italian restaurant which worked perfectly for me as it meant I got to have my now traditional pre-race chicken parm. I then decided I also need apple crisp for dessert, yum.
After dinner we headed back to our AirBnB and got ready for the next morning before heading to bed.
I was a little worried heading into this race as I didn’t feel as rested as I should have on Saturday morning. I think it was lingering result of maybe pushing it a bit too hard up some hills on my run the Sunday before. I headed to the pool Saturday to see if I could shake that out, after 500m I felt like I needed to stop and headed into the hot tub to try to relax and stretch out the stiffness. It did the trick and I felt fine afterwards!
So Sunday I woke up just before 6 after a decent sleep, got ready, had my two slices of toast with peanut butter which I’d been eating through this cycle and then had a banana just before leaving.
We got to the ski hill just before 7 and headed inside to stay warm and listen to the pre-race announcements on how the day would go.
A few minutes before race start we headed outside to the ‘start line’ which was a tent where the aid station was set up. The morning actually felt surprisingly nice, temperature was only at 4C I believe but it didn’t feel cold at all. I had my thin wind breaker on but decided I didn’t even need to bother starting with it which I was glad to do since it meant 1 less thing to worry about after a lap or two. I did decide to keep my gloves on though but those are easier to take off than a jacket under a pack.
At 7:30 we were off making our way across the base of the ski hill, almost immediately I noticed no other women were in front of me and only a few men. Well this is different, I’ll be getting passed a lot now. We quickly made it to the base of the hill, I started walking immediately, I had zero plans to run this hill (or any hill) at all. A few of the men made an attempt to run up some of it but soon everyone was hiking up the hill. We rounded the bend in the hill, yeah it kept going. Aand continued to go up a little bit as we rounded the next bend onto the single track.
Finally at the top, things got interesting. We had a pretty late fall here so the trees have only just lost their leaves (and some are still hanging on) this meant a lot of fresh leaves on the trail. A lot of fresh leaves on some technical trail. They were doing a fabulous job of covering all the rocks on the trail. Oh boy this isn’t going to be fun later. This section was a slow gentle downhill until we got to the major downhill. A treacherous path made all the more treacherous by knee deep leaves. Stumbling our way down that I was so shocked I didn’t completely eat it on the root ‘steps’. We’re then into an opened gravel/grass trail before heading back into the woods. Much less rocks through this section, yay! There was a slight incline through here but nothing much, I would later take that incline as a walk opportunity but didn’t really notice it the first go. We were then back out in the grass/gravel. sliiight incline I’m pretty sure I didn’t notice at all the first time or two (definitely did by lap 5 though!) then we round a bend and head down (yay!). Can see the aid station from this point, once down the little hill we round another bend and head straight towards it. I ignored this aid station until lap 5 when I decided I’d try some Coke and see what happens (nothing did so I kept at it!) but the volunteers were amazing and quickly learned who we all were, fun!
Past the aid station we head back into the woods, hill here, I walked this one from the start, then it immediately goes back down. On either lap 2 or 3 I almost had an epic fall. The down had some roots and my foot got caught on one and then my other food got caught on that foot. Panic. Race. Falling. Downhill. Luckily a foot got free and caught me before I face planted and rolled downhill. And even more luckily it was a safe catch and not one that resulted in more pain than a fall would have caused.
Down the hill out of the forest we hit some ATV trail which were dry but made from some careful footing as the ridges were deep. Ran along here for a little ways then hit some flat rocks which signalled that my favourite stretch was coming up (NOT). After rounding a bend you hit a long, straight gravel stretch of boring. Single row of small evergreens on each side line the trail. There was also these little tiny rolling waves for part of it I knew right form the start they would be damn annoying later (and also had me thinking they would be run to bike through). On and on and on it went and I can see the end of this stretch pretty much the whole time, NOT GETTING ANY CLOSER.
Finally out, round a bend and then we’re going up a little hill which I ran up the first loop and decided that was stupid and I was never running up it again. At this point we see the same aid station again and they direct us to a trail on the right instead of going straight which would be back the way we came from. This little trail leads back into the forest, yay! and back to more hidden rocks and roots, boo!
Here we hit one hill, then a section of very large roots that are VERY easy to trip over. Then it’s time to climb back up the other side of the ski hill. Oh boy. First time up this was actually the worst of them all. Everything hurt trying to hike it, even my back. And there was rocks under the leaves my feet would slip on. It’s long, its steep, it gets steeper, it flattens out and then nope it’s steep again. At the top there’s the chair lifts, run by them and then start heading down the hill. Woo downhill! Decent downhill here, a little steep and its got some small loose stones but I don’t feel like I might face-plant like on the other side. Once we’re down the hill we cross in front of the ski hill by the start line aid station and do it all again!
Something to be said for the small loops. It didn’t get boring, it was actually really nice. While the first lap felt terrifying through the rocky sections, after a couple laps you know where everything is and don’t really even think about it anymore. Oh yup stick to this side of the trail there’s no rocks and less leaves. Stick to the far left on that treacherous downhill you avoid most of the trouble there. Oh there’s the fallen over tree hole. Nope I’m good for water, thanks though! There’s a root here that’s what caught my foot that time. This is the straight flat part this still sucks, just keep running. Hill here remember we’re walking this from now on. Hi bearded man, nope still good on water-did you say chips? Up this hill okay now careful watch out for the roots. Okay up the ski hill, lets try the left side, yes the left side is way easier to get up. Yay top! Downhill and another lap done!
I was also really happy when I determined on my 3rd lap I would be into my 4th lap before the distance races started. This meant when they reached me they’d already be spread out. I did not enjoy the 4th lap though. Well I did the first 1/3 because I chatted with another runner a bit through here (found out he’s race buddies with a woman from the Monday MEC runs, guess this is a small community!). But once past the aid station for the first time I started to feel tired. And then all the passers. Also stressful because I knew no BadAss woman had gotten in front of me yet by this point and was pretty sure none had been ahead of me at the start (though I would doubt this through the whole race). So every time I hear someone behind me I worried it was another BadAss runner. So I was real happy to start lap 5 and have that be done with. Of course lap 5 was my worst lap time-wise as the fatigue set in good through here. This is when the desperate ‘sure I’ll have some coke’ came in. The chips I brought for this race weren’t very salty so my nutrition was a bit off as I was craving salt more than usual, luckily I had Nuun on me. I had to keep reminding myself to eat too. I think because I wanted salt I didn’t really care to eat my sweet waffle cookies.
Lap 6 and 7 were better as adrenaline started to kick in, being pretty sure I was in first kept me going and got me from walking too much. I think I probably should have walked a bit more in the first couple of laps. Minus the ski hills the rest of the course was a lot flatter than I’m use to training on and generally in training I only walked when there was a hill or I was eating (even then I tried to plan eating for the uphill walks). So less hills meant I ran the majority of the loops taking less walk breaks than normal, which is why in later laps I took the opportunity to walk even the smallest of inclines.
At the second pass of the aid station on lap 6, I’m not entirely sure how much is left of the course, 2k? (It’s less) and we’re closing in on 5 hours which means I’m telling myself I’m going to have the haul ass to get in lap 7 in time. My goal for the race was 7-8 laps so I’m of course laughing at myself during this moment because I must have been crazy to think 8 was an achievable goal (not really, would have depended on the course but, race brain). I cross by the start again with I think 57 minutes to go. I’d remembered checking my watch partway up the skill hill and having 4:11 at lap 6. This meant I’d done it in about 55 minutes (did it in 53 per race results). This had me stressed, so of course lap 7 went pretty well. Freaking out that I’d miss the 6 hour cut off, freaking out another woman would come up and pass me, take first place AND I’d miss the cut off. Freaking out because I’m a terrible judge on distance and didn’t make mental marks on anything throughout the course. How much is left from here, 5k? OMG I ONLY HAVE 30 MINUTES TO RUN 5K!? Wait no, that can’t be right… And then also excitement of, this is the last time I climb my way down this, THIS IS THE LAST TIME I HAVE TO RUN THIS STRAIGHT FLAT PART, KEEP RUNNING! This is the last time I’ll see bearded man, awww! Last hill climb! Last hill climb!
I’ve done it! I’ve done it! I’ve run over a marathon! I just have to run down and then I get to turn to the finish! And I’m under time!
I was a bit choked up coming down the hill for the last time – closest I’ve ever come to crying during a race. But all the Burlies are done their races by this time so they’re there cheering for me so I cross the finish with a jump! I’m all happy I just finished my longest run ever and have friends there cheering for me and then the RD comes over and hands me my plaque!
I had done it! Top Female BadAss!
I don’t think I’ll ever cherish a race item more. This one means a lot to me. First real trail race, first time over the marathon distance, first time winning overall. The thought of that plaque kept me going through the end. Leading up to the race Burly mates kept saying I’d take it and I was convinced they were dead wrong, I was convinced they were dead wrong even while in first throughout the race. I thought there was no way there had to be someone in front I’d missed and there would definitely be someone behind me who was much better as pacing themselves and would come up and pass me. I’m shocked and amazed I won it. I don’t care how small the race was, it’s still something I achieved. The second place woman came in 5 minutes behind me, she could have easily taken it if I hadn’t kept pushing in the last couple laps. While running the race I didn’t feel like I deserved a top overall at this point in my running career, but I was going to fight for it. You can’t spend an entire race holding first and then not fight to hold on to it until the end no matter what you feel. So I guess I did deserve it!
Now the race is done and I can confirm the trail marathon does hurt far less than a road marathon. I’m still stiff and feeling like I went up and down a ski hill 14 times but I can walk around and go up and down stairs almost as well as a normal person. I was both sad and relieved during the race that I wouldn’t have a chance of hitting 8 laps for 52km. I’m really proud of what I accomplished. My first trail race on unfamiliar trails I knew ahead of time 8 laps would be a stretch goal and after running the course once I knew there’d be no chance, not with those 2 giant climbs, hadn’t done quite enough hill hiking for that.
I’m looking forward to my winter training cycle and researching 50ks I can run in the Feb-April time frame, looking at USA races right now. There’s A LOT, it’ll probably take me awhile to pick one but that’s fine, plenty of time. I’m going to do some recovery this week and next then just maintain what I’ve built/do whatever I feel like for a little bit.
7×6.5km – 45.5kms in 05:52:15
1/14 women, 7/27 overall
Lap 1: 00:45:53
Lap 2: 00:48:32
Lap 3: 00:48:16
Lap 4: 00:50:56
Lap 5: 00:55:10
Lap 6: 00:53:04
Lap 7: 00:50:24
Shoes: Merrell All Out Crush
Clothing: UA Heat Gear long sleeve, Burly Sugoi singlet, Old Navy capris, WrightSock Double Layer Coolmesh II, Chaos Tubular Headwear, Lululemon run gloves (for 2 laps)
Pack: Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest
~750ml Nuun Lemon Lime
~1.75L of water
2.5 Honey Stinger Gingersnap Waffles
2 Apple Cinnamon Carbo Boom Gels
1/2 snack bag of kettle chips + few BBQ flavour
2 red Jube Jubes
4 Dixie cups of coke
Thanks to the race directors for putting on such a great race! And special shout-out to the aid-station volunteers I’m sorry I over-packed my pack and didn’t interact with you all more! And big thanks for the post-race massage!
Ran a little over 250km in total for the month, which is pretty close to what I ran last August while training for a Marathon. I’m actually doing higher milage right now than I did last year, just different long run schedules skewed the totals between this year and last.
So lots of running, lots of running 6-days a week. I’ve adapted really well to it I’m actually really impressed with how well it’s been going. I had a recovery week in there too, which I did not run 6-days for. And it went super well in that I actually felt really recovered (and quickly) after it which I don’t often feel. By Thursday I was ready to run all the miles again but forced myself to cool it remembering I needed to be taking it easy and not do silly things like add another 3k on to the 9 I’d just run to make it 12 (which I super wanted to do).
In August I also went to a free local track series. It was 4 weeks of track works which got progressively tougher which worked really well in to my training. The first week we did 200 and 400m repeats and a bonus 800m. Then it was 400 and 800m with bonus 1200. Then we did 1200m repeats with 2 bonus 1600m. And the final week was a 5k. All of these were on some pretty tired legs and I still put in some solid efforts so I’m pretty happy with that.
The 5k wasn’t actually that great but I did what I could. The route we did had a slight uphill out which my calves haaate and so they were screaming the whole time so I had to stop and stretch them out for a minute. But then the back was downhill and they cleared up.
I also maybe missed a long run. Last Sunday, I ended up sleeping in way late and then struggled the remainder of the day to get myself to do anything but continue to lay in bed, eventually managed to get myself out in time to squeeze in 12k but definitely not the 22k I had planned and in the main reason I didn’t surpass last year’s August milage. All and all not a too bad! There was another Sunday the long run didn’t happen but that was because it was so hot my run buddy and I decided to push it to Monday night because we’re crazy like that.
So now I’m in my final peak week of training for the Oakville half and I’m honestly so relieved, I just want this half over with at this point as I’m not excited about it all anymore. I want it over with so I can do my long runs on trail again, pretty sure I’ll be doing that 6h run I mentioned in my previous post (Batawa Fat Ass) and as long as I’m home from a work conference in time I think I’ll do the 25k at Vulture Bait in October!