I love trail running. Love, love, love. I pretend to traipse through the forest with speed and ease.
Am I fast at trail running?
Do I care?
Glass ankles, a fear of breaking my face and a general sense of “it so does not matter” adequately describes my lack of desire to push for speed on the trails. I think of Gary Robbins leaping down rooty mountain faces and admire his bravery whilst I hold on to trees, picking my own way down. I watch my friends bound from rock to rock and envy their dexterity. I try to bring my heart rate down as those around me chatter on effortlessly.
I can finally accept that I’ll never lead the pack in a trail race. And the very best part of coming to this realization/acceptance that I kinda suck is that I just. don’t. care. And it’s delightful! How liberating! How good for my ankles!
True acceptance of personal suckiness can lead to happiness. That, my friends, is the hot tip of the day.
Before the trail traipsing.
If not for this girl, I would have walked the whole way.
After! It’s about as warm as Robin looks.
LC: Baby smuggler.
Edit: this in no way reflects on the trail capabilities of those around me during said race. In fact, you folks are the only reason I don’t walk off the course at the first available trailhead. Onwards!
Well, to be specific: I can run, if I so choose. But it hurts. A lot. Like the kind of hurt where the first few minutes your heart rate creeps higher than it should and you break into a sweat, but not the good kind of sweat.
In my usual fashion, I pretty much ignored it and assumed it would go away. Well, lo and behold, it hasn’t. In fact, it’s gotten worse. What-the-what?!
I’m getting old(er).
I haven’t been sidelined in a good, long time. And the reality is, I’m not truly sidelined — after all, I can still bike and swim and walk and ski and and and…
But you know how it goes: the minute you are told you can’t do something, you instinctively want to do it so badly. I watched (online) friends smash some amazing PRs at a race I traditionally do this past weekend and was quite torn between thanking my lucky stars that I wasn’t running in the downpour with them and… wishing that I was.
For once, I’ll let my brains take over my brawn (ha. me. brawny) and listen to the physiotherapist, the coach, the massage therapist, friends and the “I know better than to” side of my brain and rest… and see how quickly I can get back in the game instead of watching it from the sidelines.
Texas is what, 2 months away? Or so? Lots of time.
It’s a lot easier to write a post about a race that goes totally sideways than it is to write one about a race that goes well. What am I supposed to say? “Blah blah blah I ran well, felt good, it was sunny, set a great big PR, go me.”
Boring, right? Plus, that pretty much sums it up.
Therefore, please allow me to share 2 elements of my race that I feel I really nailed.
1. Pre-race bathroom location
I believe this is a personal best for me in terms of timing and lineup brevity. I really surprised myself here and will refuse to divulge the location of this bathroom for fear that it will ruin things for me should I ever run this race again.
2. Race outfit
In my humble opinion, it’s extremely important to wear all of the colours available to you when toeing the line in a race. I feel like I preformed well here, with the exception perhaps of socks. In this case, I sacrificed colour for fit but in the future, screw it, colour wins because no matter what I wear, my feet hurt anyway at the end. Also, my hair clashed with my sunglasses. Something to work on in the future.
Lastly, you know that when your training partner/race pacer /bestie crosses the line seconds behind you and whispers “F— you”, you know it’s been a good one.
Bring it on, 2015!
The lighting fails to really capture the brightness of this outfit.
She with the longest arms takes thy selfie
I call this “hey guys! wait! wait for me! hey guys!”
I tried my best to stick to my training plan throughout the madness of the holidays and for the most part, I was successful. Despite the running around, the juggling of schedules and people and the onset of the dreaded norovirus, I was good (and selfish) about getting out the door and doing my thing.
Sometimes, to make it happen, things had to get sacrificed. Fun things… like sleep. Jen and I had been talking about doing a winter run up to Joffre Lakes at some point, and what better point that sunrise on the last day of 2014?
The trail was perfect, the temps were very cold and the wind was howling. Didn’t matter much since the sunrise over the 3rd lake made the effort worthwhile.
I could also have titled this post “Foreshadowing”.
I was so excited for this race. We’d put in a few really “fun” training runs in terrible weather, the kids were going to be with me and I wasn’t the least bit nervous. I love a good challenge, and the Hallow’s Eve Run certainly seemed that it would live up to expectations. I didn’t really look at the course map – since I’m unfamiliar with the trails in North Van, it would have been pointless, anyway. I knew it went up and down. I knew it was going to be wet. Did the rest really matter?
Early wake up, coffee, kiss the kids goodbye and off we went. It was grey but not raining and the runners were in costumes – except for me. I’m lame like that. We were happily cruising throughout the lower part of the trails and I was trailing Heather, watching her feet and chatting away – as we do. In my world, trail time doubles as girl time and cheap therapy. She popped off a little drop and as I followed her, my left foot rolled over and heard (and felt) that sickening ‘pop’.
You have got to be kidding me.
I was less than 4km into a 42km adventure. I never roll my left ankle, always my right. Gah. I told myself to shake it off, the nausea will pass and I’ll just be careful. *More foreshadowing*
I caught back up to Heather and I did a decent job of being careful for the next little while. We chatted, laughed and sweated for a good chunk of time together. Her family met us at the top of a climb and it was so fun to get a hug and a high-five mid-race, right before a killer climb.
As I was essentially crawling up this trail (can anyone actually run this? Serious question here – it was like going up a vertical river bed), I was on my own and so I put my music on because I didn’t feel like suffering in silence anymore.
Fair warning: I have notoriously terrible taste in music when it comes to getting me going on the run.
The first song that started to play was “Try”, by Pink. Well, I thought. This is a propos, because I AM TRYING, dammit. Trying to get up this hill!
“Just because it burns, doesn’t mean you’re gonna die”. Huh. Pretty sure she was referring to my burning legs, at that point.
As I finally got to the top of the hill, we crested into in a driving wind and rainstorm. The kind of storm you have to turn your back to in order to put a jacket on and not fly away. The kind of rain that pelts your eyeballs.
The next song that played was “Between the raindrops”. Well. I’d like to be between them, but that ain’t happening.
As we ran along the roads back down Grouse Mountain, Heather caught me and I briefly voiced my concern about my ankle. It was pretty sore and I was toying with the idea of dropping out. The problem was that a) I didn’t really know where I was; b) I didn’t have a phone to call someone to come and get me c) I don’t know anyone’s number by heart anymore — technology!
This is where “Warm day, cold warm” came on. I was NOT warm. I really wanted to be and had a short daydream about going back to Maui.
At this point, I remembered that the kids were with Lizzie and I didn’t want to let them down by not finishing the run. So off I went, back into the trails in pursuit of Heather.
Kilometer 18 or so… I went down again and this time I knew it was waaaay worse that the first time. I sat in the mud, had a little pity cry until a runner dressed as William Wallace – kilt and all – came by and hauled me off the ground. He made sure I was ok, and I sent him on his way with my thanks.
So what does one do in the forest with one good leg and no clue where she is?
She keeps going.
And plays Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off” on repeat. And ponders the world. And talks to herself.
Jenny caught me and we had a good bitch fest and speculated on how much longer we had to go. I told her to get going, and that I’d see her at the finish, no matter how long it took.
A couple of kilometers later, Lizzie – AKA “Voice of reason” – met me at the aid station with the kids. After a good dose of “dummy, just stop. The truck is over there”, I pulled the pin and limped to the truck.
And despite having an ankle that looks like something out of “Misery”, I’ll live to run another day.
Sunday morning – on our HOLIDAY – we got up at 3:10AM to go run the Maui Half Marathon. I’d say it was somewhat easy because I was still on Pacific time, but that would be a total lie. Getting up at 3:something to do any kind of race is just silly and it sucks no matter how you spin it.
We piled into the car, in the pitch black and headed out the start on the other side of the island. Standing on the start line, shortly before 5AM, was not unlike standing in the middle of a human sauna. Foreshadowing: maybe I should have been a little more concerned with fluid loss considering I’d yet to start running and was pretty much already soaking wet.
We took off in the dark, admired the stars and ran somewhat blind for the first hour or so of racing. It was dark enough, in fact, that I nearly ran head first into the first guy coming back from the turnaround. I paid slightly closer attention to where I was going after that near miss.
I think it was also around this point – roughly mile 6 – when I started to become aware of the fact that while I was cooking, temperature-wise, I wasn’t sweating that much and I was chilly and covered in goose bumps. Not ideal. I figured it would pass if I could get some water down and on me. And believe me, I tried.
This wasn’t the most riveting course in the world, so I was more than a little relieved when I finally crossed the finish line. I was rather wobbly, but 2 big guys grabbed me and gave me little choice about heading straight to medical. Some IV fluids and some chocolate milk later, I was fine.
In the end, good enough to win my age group and finish 7th overall. And then, of course, hit the beach/pool/post-race beers.
A few days post race, Liz and I decided “Hey, there’s a volcano. Let’s go ride bikes up it!” Or something along those lines.
Actual conversations held during the ride:
Me (squealing as something flew at me): “What the hell was that? Did you see that thing?”
Me: “I sure hope this volcano doesn’t explode on us.”
Liz: “Shut up, cheeseburger.”
Needless to say, we made it. It was pretty epic. 10’000ft of epic. And really freaking cold.
Common sense dictates that yes, we did also lie on the beach, nap, lie by the pool, talk, read books, hot tub, watch sunsets, drink lots of coffee and many, many other beverages, dance, laugh and generally have a very above average holiday. An excellent kick off to this 24th, er, 40th year, I’d say.
I celebrated my birthday last weekend. Contrary to popular belief, I did not actually turn 24. In fact, I’ve officially jumped into a whole new decade, an entirely new age group. When I confessed my real age to Will, the look of abject horror on his face was pretty priceless. Almost worth the price of my confession, I’d say.
You’d think he’d have figured out that I wasn’t 24 when one of his pals said to me “oh, so that means you graduated from high school 5 years ago?”
Anyway, we filled the weekend the best way we know how: with sport.
Sport #1. A 6 year old boy’s birthday party.
Ok, so while this isn’t “technically” a sport, when it was over I felt as tired as if I’d run 2 marathons. Clearly, I did not fuel properly. Maybe I should have backed away from the MnMs.
The noise level was on par with that of a WWF match (I’m guessing here, having never actually been to one). A recovery session was required by all.
Sport #2. Terry Fox Run
The most important run of the year. I’ve done it every year since living on the West Coast and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. It’s very, very important to me and my kids know it. They are starting to feel the same way. Granted, we don’t go far and some of the kids ride bikes, but we are out there supporting a very good cause.
Sport #3. Defeat the Duffey.
Sure, let’s pick an afternoon where it’s 30C to ride straight uphill for 65 minutes. Fun! It was hard and I loved it. But damn if Paul didn’t win for the 3rd year in a row. I have no idea how that’s even possible. I’d call him a cheater if I could figure out a way that cheating is possible.
Celebrations continue this week as I am in Maui with a group of the best friends a girl could ask for. Far be it from us to plan a trip without a race, we’ll be starting the Maui 1/2 marathon on Sunday.
In the dark.
I haven’t run a quick step since Challenge Penticton. This ought to be interesting.
I’d post lots of pictures of what we’re doing here, but that would just be cruel.
How long have I been racing? Lots of years, lots of sports and lots of distances. Lots of mistakes made and lots of lessons learned.
You’d think that I by now I’d have figure out how to seed myself appropriately at the start of a race. Sunday, 30 seconds before the start of the Squamish 23K run, I looked around as I was chatting with Christine and fiddling with my gear and realized not only was I near the very back of the corral, I was behind a girl wearing those shudder-inducing 5 Fingers and another wearing birkenstocks.
Not ideal. If I intend on doing anything that resembles racing at these races, I need to be up front near the bearded dudes who opt to run shirtless and the scary, sinewy women. Alas, it was not to be today and off I went.
I spent the first 10kms faintly bleating “On your left…. On your left… On your left…” And yeah, I got around 5 Fingers and Birky pretty early on.
My terrible planning aside, this run is a must-do for anyone keen to do a hilly, challenging trail run. The course is awesome, tough, hilly, technical and oddly quiet when you end up running the back half alone.
I successfully stayed on my feet, I didn’t deplete myself, won the mental battle when I
started to get chills – there was no way I was putting myself in the hospital again – and finished feeling happy and good. Plus, I got a big, sweaty bear hug from a tired GR. A great way to end my race.
I had the foresight to park about 4 feet from the finish line so I immediately hopped in the truck (which my hips are making me pay for today), drove home and collected various children from various locations. We finished off our Sunday with a bit of Slow Food Cycle and some time at their favourite place, the beer garden.
No seriously, it’s their favourite place.
And now for 1 day of recovery, 4 days of taper and then Challenge Penticton! This ought to be interesting.
Last weekend, I was on the start line of yet another race, but this one was a little different. Rather than the usual swim/bike/run or girls trip of late, I lined up behind Will and Rory as they prepared to run the Loop the Lakes 8k in Squamish.
Race mornings for me tend to be somewhat methodically planned out – at least mentally. Not so when trying to usher 3 sleepy little people out the door by 7:15am. It was more like “I have a coffee, everyone has clothes on and a sandwich, let’s go!” The rest would somehow fall into place.
We arrived at the start, signed in and then spent the next 20 minutes before the start trying to keep the boys away from the food table. No mean feat since the offerings included donuts.
We started together and as we crested the first hill, Will took off and that was the last I saw of him till we crossed the finish line. He would tell me later that he had lots of fun high-fiving people, passing whoever he could on the uphills and drinking the blue Gatorade. He did also mention that he got a little lonely in the woods at times…
Rory and I played caboose and it was awesome. He went in fits and starts – as you do when you are 5. Sometimes he went fast and laughed and jumped. Other times, we held hands and talked and walked. “Mama, I have a crank.” Cramp? “Yeah, that’s what I said. Crank”. He got pretty tired at the end but magically recovered after eating 2 donuts.
As for Talky-Talkerson? She was pretty mad I wouldn’t let her do the 8k with us. She and I did the 1K and “Mama that was so fun, I am pretty fast eh?”
I can confirm that wrangling between 3-6 kids (we went with friends who also ran with us) to start a race/put on that number/come here!/ where’s your brother?/ Have you peed yet?/come here! combined with not eating properly (or at all? Who can remember) and running at a pace that is vastly different from your own is pretty damn tiring. I was punched at the end of the day.
They played soccer till dinner.
Lest you think I push my kids to do these runs, the opposite is true. I mentioned it in passing to a friend, and they overheard me. “Can we do it, too?” I said I’d think about it and ask them a few days before to see if they were still keen. They were. Given the alternative of spending the day at home or “an adventure in the woods”, the adventure wins every time. I never set the pace or push them. I remind them to watch where they are going and leave the rest to them.
We arrived at the start line with plenty of time to warm up and each of us had a good game plan in hand. Unexpectedly, the pack took off quickly and almost immediately splintered. Everyone was feeling strong but we all had different goals and clearly, there were some of us who were better trained than others for this kind of event. After taking an early lead, 2 of the 5 us started to flag and had to take shelter. The finish line seemed further and further away and, personally, my stamina was failing me.
Eventually, our group reformed and we were all able to finish together and compare notes.
Oh wait… that’s not Sunday’s run report… That’s Saturday’s shopping report. Damn it! I always get the 2 mixed up.
April Fools Run. Right. The “real” purpose of this Mom’s Gone Wild getaway! And by wild I mean we went shopping without any kids, had dinner in a adult restaurant, sat in a hot tub without anyone hanging off my neck and I was asleep by 9:21pm. The shopping destroyed me. 5:45am sure comes quickly when you are in a cozy hotel room…
I’ve never run this race before but it’s quickly found itself at the top of my “will do again” race list. It’s a pretty course, it’s hilly, it finishes on the ocean and there were almond croissants at the finish line.
The long and short of my race went something like this: warm up; start. Go up. Go down. Turn right. Go up. Go down. And down some more. Then down really fast. Then up again. And so on and so on until I crossed the line, wheezing, in Sechelt.
I am pleased with my run. 3rd place in my AG secured me some funky mug to bring home for the kids to fight over! (Let’s go ahead and clarify that my time was leagues behind the winner and runner-up in my age group. And that’s ok! Those are some very fast ladies). It didn’t rain and I very nearly PR’d. Guess I shouldn’t have wasted all those precious seconds high-fiving the volunteers.
Oh, who am I kidding. I totally should have. It’s more fun that way.
I have decided that the key to my success is stuffing my face continuously the day before (which also happens to be quite fun). That and running without a watch. And not overheating (no photo evidence available of my translucent legs).
And chasing down some guy dressed as the GingerBread Man. I mean, I’ve been beaten by Minnie Mouse before but the GingerBread Men? Oh hell no.