Friday, February 28, 2014

In like a Lion?

Last day of February...and one of the coldest days/weekends of the year ahead. But isn't there a saying that if March comes in like a lion, it'll go out like a lamb or something along those lines? Well tomorrow is March 1st and this is the forecast here in Calgary Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 26. Extreme wind chill minus 44.

I always like to think, at least it's sunny here when we have temps like this. I read somewhere that Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada...phew, I knew I lived here for a reason right? It averages 333 sunny days a year. If you're not obsessed with the weather channel like I am, you might wake up thinking, wow Calgary, it's a beautiful day out there! Then open the door and get punched in the face by Old Man Winter.

If I wasn't a runner, if I didn't love the mountains, if I didn't care about being outdoors...then it wouldn't be such a big deal now would it. I'd just hibernate. People have already started asking me if i'm hunkering down this weekend and just staying inside. I laugh, oh yeah definitely. But I really hope that is not the case - I crave the weekends after long weeks of work. Come Monday morning I already start planning where I want to run or hike the following weekend. So while tomorrow I think I might just stay inside and make dear friends with my treadmill for a few hours...Sunday I vow to get the hell out there. It looks slightly better of the two days so I'll be happy if I get one beautiful day out in the mountains!

In other news, check out page 85 of Canadian Running magazine and you will get to see my lovely face grinning back at you. Unfortunately it's not for any running achievement and will likely be the only time you see my face in a magazine again :) I was lucky enough to join my friend Alan and Mark on a beautiful trail run in Kananaskis about 5 years ago - Turbine Canyon was it's name.

Yes, I took a picture of myself in a magazine...

Anyway, they were looking for pictures for an article on the Turbine Canyon trail run and these were submitted. Pretty cool.

Here's a couple of more pics from that awesome run.

Jumping Turbine Canyon

Standing atop, looking down into the Canyon

Running has been going pretty well lately and i've been getting in some solid workouts - mostly on the treadmill except for the weekends but i've been making the best of them and doing some great speed and hill workouts on there. Last weekend was cold (what a surprise) but did get out on Saturday for a boring 32km run around Calgary that quickly turned miserable as the sun disappeared after only 10km and it got cloudy, colder and windier. I was so angry by the end, it was hilarious. Once home, I immediately sat in the hottest bath I could handle for about an hour trying to warm up. But hey, I guess it was a good mental training day if anything!

Sunday was around -20 but a beautiful sunny day (surprise surprise) so I decided to just head out to Banff for a quick trip up Sulphur Mountain. I was hurting as it always kicks my ass but it was a great training run for sure. And just as I got to the top, I caught up with my friend Leslie and Mike who live in Banff! I haven't seen her in a long time and was awesome to catch up as we bombed back down the trail. I like running into friends on the trails (pun intended!). I definitely spend too much time running alone!

Ok wish me luck on this frigid 1st weekend of March ahead!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Long Weekend Bliss

This weekend past was a long weekend here in Alberta - it was family day weekend, wahoo! I intended to get a good block of running in and really beat up my legs. And that I did :) My quads are pretty trashed this morning and I like that feeling. They've got to get used to this for the epic summer ahead. I was reading about the course for the Yakima 50km race I have coming up in Washington on April 20. So yeah it may only be 50km...but there's 10,000 ft of climbing involved in this race! Eek! There's a reason why the fastest women's time is 6 hours. Crap. It's never taken me that long to run a 50km trail race...usually it's under 5 hours. So you can see why I welcome the trashed feeling in my quads...they really really really need to get used to this in the 2 months I have left before this race!!

Anyway, I wanted to get a longer run done in the City on Saturday so left my house and ran up to Nose Hill for some trail running and to get some hills in. I finished with 29km and about 1400ft of climbing. Yup, not much climbing but still better than running on the roads around Calgary. Just dang icy up at Nose Hill right now is the only problem.

Sunday I headed to Kananaskis to tackle Prairie Mountain. Every year, I forget what Prairie Mountain is like and how hard it is. I thought yeah, maybe i'll do 2 or even 3 repeats of it. Nope, I did one. I was sucking wind like nothing else, it hurt, it was steep...did I mention it hurt? A couple of of trailrunners i know did the Prairie Mountain quad on Friday...4 freakin times. I did one. Yeah, I was not pleased with myself....

 It was a beautiful and fairly warm day but windy as hell. As soon as I could see the top and the fewer and fewer trees ahead...I could hear the wind just howling. I hadn't anticipated quite how windy and cold it would be up there and I was throwing curses. But I made it. Phew. It was only 7km but included almost 2300 ft of climb so I was happy with that....even if I only did it once :( So yeah, I should have sucked it up and gone up again.

I woke up Monday with fairly sore legs from the past 2 days but I really wanted to beat them down again :) It was supposed to be snowing in the mountains and I didn't want to drive out there if that was the case so I stuck around town and decided to do stair repeats next to the curling club. Again, being overly optimistic I thought maybe I could do this for a couple of hours lol. Then I quickly realized after a couple of trips up that since I never do stairs, I should reduce my goal and try for 10 loops - so run up the stairs, along the ridge at the top and then bomb down the path to really hammer the quads :)

10 loops was plenty for my first time out! I was completely beat after that workout! The whole run ended up being 14km and only about 800ft of total climbing. It felt like about 5000ft after the whole thing was done. I have to try and do this at least once a week. It's a good one! :)

So yeah, I'm not moving around too good today but I'm back at work anyway. I'm trying to decide if I should take the whole day off or just get in a sloooow easy run after work. We'll see how I feel. I'm pleased with the weekend of running but definitely need to get more more more elevation in these legs damn it!

Until next weekend....

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Olympic Mania!

Is anyone else feeling extra inspired and motivated now that the Olympics has started? Saturday morning had me glued to the Olympics until finally I hit the record button so I didn't miss a second and got my butt out the door! Saturday's jaunt up Sulphur mountain was just ok. I mean I had a blast, but it was only ok by my expectations I had for myself. The whole thing is super runnable, but half way up had me sucking wind and taking breaks. I decided to blame it mostly on two things (and not because i'm out of mountain running shape) 1. It was -23C, and my lungs hurt to breath. I wasn't cold as I had the perfect amount of layers on, but breathing so hard running up there did hurt my lungs. 2. I did a serious leg workout the day before so my legs were burning way earlier on this run than expected.

Top of Sulphur Mountain

However, I had a lot of fun. Especially when I turned around and started flying back down! The trail is still nicely packed but Kahtoolas were ideal so I wasn't sliding around at all. I finished up my 10+ km run with 2225 ft of climb in 1:20 and knew I should turn around and go back up. But I was hungry and talked myself out of it saying this is a good job for easing myself back into things. So I treated myself at starbucks and drove home.

Sunday I knew I had to get at least 25km of running in but the thought of doing it on a treadmill had left me with low motivation. It was -25C, but a sunny and beautiful day out there, so I added layers and layers and layers of clothes to the point where I was sweating before I left the house. I brought ski goggles along which were definitely helpful when I was running into the wind and I cranked out a painful slow 26km. It definitely wasn't pretty and I think it was more mental than anything to keep me going. But with thoughts of Miwok 100 in the back of my head, I pushed on. I have a lot of training ahead of me and realizing where I am right now, it's kind of scary. My long races don't generally come until mid to late summer. And i'm trying to train for a 100km right now. Shit, what was I thinking.

Let's not think about that and concentrate on having fun in the mountains instead :). Coming up is a long weekend for Alberta family day and I plan on making the most of it. I'm going to head back to Sulphur Mtn for another go and force myself to do a double go of it. I suspect the second trip up will be mostly powerhiking and I think i'll break out the poles for that to get up there as quick as I can. I'll probably try to get another longer road/Nose Hill run in, in the city. And then another trail run somewhere - likely Pneuma or Prairie. We shall see. The forecast is looking mighty fine and warm this weekend. We're finally breaking out of this cold snap. It seems like we've been in one since I got back from Mexico and i'm so tired of putting on so much clothes to go outside! I'm always happy once i'm out there but man, this is getting old!

It's only Tuesday but really looking forward to getting after it this weekend!!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

It's no Polar Vortex...but the Arctic Mass has arrived!

Well we've made it to February! And started it off with a lovely cold snap - one that I can't seem to get warm in. The mornings in my office are ice cold and i'm usually found wrapped in a blanket sipping away on coffee, tea and/or hot chocolate. This building has serious heating/cooling issues. My lunch workout usually warms me up and i'm good for the rest of the day!

I've even managed 2 evenings of trailrunning at COP this week and it was a blast. I think the trees helped and masked the fact that it was so effing cold out. The first night I took Logan for a run as  I knew he'd have a blast in there and brought my running snowshoes along. I wasn't sure what the conditions would be like. Also, they've been missing for a month and i finally dug them out of a deep dark high shelf in the basement. Since we have a gear room i have no idea why they were tucked away down there and I was stoked to use them! Logan and I had a complete blast - me with my Petzl Nao headlamp which is proving to be just perfect for night running, and Logan with his own headlamp around his neck. That's more so I can find him although it probably helps him too! The second evening I went on my own for a bit of a longer run and this time ran in my Kahtoolas since the snow was so well packed in there. You could easily run without any traction device but I found these ideal and it was nice to be flying around on the trails and not just plodding along. Since I'm also still recovering from knee issues, the spikes really help with stability.

Also for the first time ever I ran in my Patagonia down sweater...freakin awesome and I have no idea why it has never occurred to me to use it before. I was toasty warm for both runs and the only thing I could have improved on was my face situation - have yet to find the perfect thing for that. I find the balaclavas i've tried are too restricting and those that cover my mouth are hard to breath through etc. I'll keep looking for the perfect one....

Last week I was in Cozumel, MEX for a wedding. It was my first ever all inclusive vacation and was a lot of fun. I did a whole lot of nothing and relaxing at the pool which I actually really enjoyed. I found the humidity exhausting and not something i'm used to at all. However, I did manage to run each day on the treadmill to keep up with some kind of activity to battle all the eating and drinking we did :) I wasn't brave enough to venture outside as Mexico is a little nuts to be honest :)

But I gotta say, despite the insanely cold conditions right now, i'm super happy to be back and ready for some adventures this weekend. Gotta make the most of my weekends, regardless of the weather! I'm still trying to figure out where i'm going to go. I think i'll give running up Sulphur Mountain a go and see how that turns out. I may attempt a double if I'm feeling good after one trip up, but seeing as how it's winter and i'm low on mountain running kms, I might be dead tired after one trip up lol. I'm not sure if i'll head to the mountains both days or if one day might just be up trotting around Nose Hill. I was also thinking about heading up Pneuma trail in Kananaskis. I'm thinking that because it hasn't been snowing much lately and there are a lot of people riding their fat bikes on the trails this year, it should be well packed down.

It's been a really hard week back at work focusing on anything. All I want to do is go play. Now that Thursday is here, i'm getting stoked! See you out there!