Sunday, 23 September 2012

Why I keep bailing on road running plans

This weekend's run adventure started off with an amazing weather forecast for Whistler. Katie and I floated the idea of running up the Black Tusk to some friends, and sent out an email to our trail running list, but for some reason. takers were thin on the ground. Our trail friends, who had been up for Squamish run adventures, early morning grouse grinds, and falling down rooty trails, were now wrapped up in road marathon season.

Luckily, our friend Meghan, an amazing trail runner and mountain biker from the Sunshine coast, was game for a Black Tusk expedition. At the last moment, we were also able to recruit my kneeknacker training partner Brooke into joining - even though she had to be at work at 2:15 that day.

Katie and I had to catch a 6:14am bus Sunday to get over to the north shore, where Brooke would pick us up. We would then all drive to the ferry terminal to meet up with Meghan, who was taking the first ferry over from the Sunshine coast. No buses left from Kitsilano early enough Sunday morning, so Katie slept over at my apartment.

I tried to be as good a hostess as I can be with a tiny bachelor apartment, an inhospital couch, and no blankets. Despite my offers of freshly washed sheets, Katie was firm that she was in no way sharing a bed with me. Instead, she curled up under a spare bedsheet, with a fleece robe on top of her. (I told her: "it turns into a blanket!" but she was unconvinced.)

getting there

a picture of a cat on a paddleboard
 In true Alex style, we arrived at the bus stop excessively early. Then we arrived at the ferry terminal excessively early. Although the weather forcast was still good, the morning was cloudy and grey. Then we arrived at Galileo's coffee (still early), saw a picture of a cat on a paddleboard, and knew that it was going to be a good day.

Every long run has high points and low points.

low point - warming up takes forever
We put on armwarmers or long-sleeved sirts and started to powerhike up from the Rubble Creek parking lot, in order to warm up easily. Within fifteen minutes, everybody but me had de-layered. The powerhike up the gradual swtichbacks became a run in most sections. Somehow, Brooke, Katie and Meghan were able to keep up a conversation as I wheezed along in the back.

high point - breaking out from the rubble creek switchbacks to see gorgeous fall colours
The clouds had burnt off by the time we hit the first great views. We smelled baking pine needles, and a cool wind came down from the mountain.

low point - work time
Two hours into the hike, just as the views were becoming truly spectacular, Brooke had to turn around to go back to work. I was sad to have my powerhiking buddy leave. (Even though she would have been diappointed with the number of walk / gel breaks we ended up taking)

high point - summit!

2:45 after starting the slog up the Rubble Creek switchbacks, we were surrounded by mountains. It's the kind of view that goes on inspirational posters.

medium point - scree love and Katie on snow
To avoid the increasing number of hikers coming up the trail to the Black Tusk, we took a shortcut - down a very steep, loose scree slope. Meghan described the technique for running down scree: "just bounce down." I preferred the "sidestep awkwardly while filling your shoes with pebbles" technique. A solid technique.

To get a photo op, Katie attempted to slide down a patch of snow. she gained more and more speed, then went onto her butt, then managed to self-arrest just before the snow ended in very large, pointy rocks.

hiker friends and wash break
On our way down to Garibaldi lake, a group of hikers made a "bridge" by joining arms above us. They cheered us on as we ran under. On the downhill, I also learned the literal version of: "eat my dut", as following Katie and Meghan meant running through increasingly large dust clouds - just in time to do a rinse-off in the lake.

signature Alex thumb picture

how to meet guys
At the lake, we ran into some guys we had seen earlier making their way down the Black Tusk. They recognized us, cheered us on, and made some comment about "crazy runners." We asked them if they had dayhiked, or if they were camping. They replied by confirming that yes, they were camping - and invited us back to their campsite. As appealing as the offer was, we figured anyone who didn't run up that day didn't have enough cardio for us to be interested. We kept going.

some tunes
To keep up morale on the last 8k back to the parking lot, we started to sing songs as we ran. We did a pretty good version of "What do you do with a drunken sailor", a decent "American Pie"...but started to run out of steam by the time we got to "50 ways to leave your lover."

Meghan taught us a new run term: "superman". It means to wipe out, face first, with your arms in front. After performing such a wipeout, she bounced back up and immediately got back to running downhill at an alarming pace.


post-run effects
Being in the mountains for over five hours, on amazing trails, with the sound of the creek and your own footsteps as background - it does something to you.

For me, it gave me a sense of calm and peacefulness I rarely get. Apparently, I even talked at a normal speed.

For Katie, it gave what we call "trail tourettes." This is exhibited in unexpected physical contact (body checking, body checking while soaking wet after an dip in Alice Lake - from someone who refuses to share a bed with me) and giddyness.

some stats
- 29k
- 1700m -ish elevation
- 5.5hrs (including all breaks)
- 2 newfie sea shanties sung only by Katie
- 1 wipeout
- 3 pairs of running shoes that smell so bad, they should probably be taken out and shot

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! I've been wanting to do this hike/run for a while - only ever gotten up to Garibaldi Lake. Looks like a blast!

    I'm a local trail runner myself, you can check out my blog at