Sunday, 21 October 2012

Winter Wonderland



Somewhere in the last two weeks, we skipped fall and went right into winter. This would have been less problematic if I hadn't made weekend plans to go up to Whistler. On the Saturday, I planned to race part of the Whistler 50 relay with the VFAC open women's team. On the Sunday, I planned to get in a 4 hour trail run. The weather network planned for snow, flurries, and rain. As the week progressed, my weather forecast checks became more and more frequent. Unfortunately, my efforts to mentally will two days of bluebird skies and sunshine failed miserably. Thursday night, to a backdrop of torrential rain, I found myself packing gumboots and every layer of merino wool clothing I owned.

dinner discussion
Amanda grabbed me from downtown after work on Friday. We picked up Meghan, our teammate from the sunshine coast, in Horseshoe Bay, then headed up to Whistler. I know Meghan from running trails, where she regularly leaves me wheezing on the uphills. This would be one of her few road races of the year. She was a little nervous.

We met up with Steve and Barry for dinner in Whistler. Naturally, the discussion turned to VFAC workouts. Naturally, it then turned to injuries. I don't think that was quite the impression we wanted to make.

Type A...A means awesome...right?
I was really excited to organize a team for the relay this year. All of the team members were keen, fast, and fun. They were also tolerant of the many e-mails, text messages, and phone calls in the past week. We might not have been the only team with a made-up (by me) cancellation policy. But I think we were the only team with an excel spreadsheet with estimated leg times, start/finish times, and a phone tree.

Due to this, when I woke up on Saturday at 6am, in the dark, to see snow outside, my first action was to naturally send out a mass text to the rest of my teammates, telling them about the snow (in case they decided to not check the weather or...y'know...look out the window). It turns out, as not all my teammates had early legs, the text woke a couple of them up.

However, in my defense, when I receive phone calls from Tara that start with: "...don't panic BUT..." or text messages like: "Do you have a watch I can borrow?" the Type A does start to kick in. Still - resolution for next year - no frantic texting until at least...6:30am!


I have no idea where I am
Brooke, being the awesome 1st leg runner that she is, arrived in the Olympic Plaza 20mins ahead of our planned meeting time. I was supposed to run over, give her her bib number (she needed this to pick up the timing chip), grab her warm clothes, and cheer like hell as she started the leg. This would have all been very simple if I had any sense of direction. Instead, what should have been a 5 min jog turned into a frantic 25min adventure. I somehow confused the Olympic Plaza with the Conference Centre - where I arrived, late and dishevelled, to find exactly nobody. Brooke was not allowed to be given a timing chip until she had her bib number. As a compromise, the race officials let me text her a picture of her bib number (once I think she convinced them that someone with my navigation skills was never going to make it on time). I did, eventually, arrive about 15 mins before the start - enough time to strip off Brooke's ridiculously warm down jacket and put it on (for the good of the team, of course).


Brooke's bib number...yes those are two maps underneath. Yes, I was still lost.

like a tempo, but lonelier
The relay alternated 13k and 7k legs. I did the 13k leg...it was a little odd, running hard but mostly on my own. The snow of the first two legs stopped enough that I got some great views of the mountains...at least I think there was, I was more focused on managing my nausea and getting passed on the uphill by a guy in a rowing unisuit.

with a little help from my friends
I finished my relay leg a bit dazed and very run-stupid. My friend found me wandering at the finish, gave me some water, and helped send me off in the direction of the hotel. I walked into the room that Amanda and I shared to hear Amanda talking on the phone - my phone. While I had been running, she had been organizing: Allison was on her way to the hotel to pick up her bib, and we were meeting Tara and Vicky at the second exchange to drop off theirs. I rinsed off quickly, put on about six layers (plus my "soccer mom" awesome and very warm coat), and headed back out into the wet snow.

Each team who does the relay is required to have at least one volunteer. Brooke generously offered to be our team's. She stood on the trails, for four hours in the snow, directing runners. On our way out of the condo, I got a text from her asking to have a couple things dropped off. Ramsey and I headed off, along the lost lake trails, to find her.



woohoo!
5hours and 47mins later, Vicky crossed the finish line, securing our spot as second female team, and 6th team overall. No one got lost, no one got injured, and there were no bear encounters this year, so the relay was a huge success! Thanks to an awesome team!



Brooke: used her grouse grind skills to rock the big hill at the end of her leg. Finished her leg, immediately ran into 3 people she knew.
Amanda: rolled up and down the hills, helped organize, and was an amazing car-pool-er and roommate! The nucleous of the team.
Shelley: while I couldn't entirely decipher her irish text messages,  her story about finding the landlord of the house where she stayed on the Friday night emerge naked from the hottube went a long way towards improving team morale.
Meghan: someone who doesn't like running on concrete or short races...and exhibited this by finishing 1st overall on her 13k leg!
Tara: with a borrowed watch, socks for mittens, and coming back from a ridiculously fast 1st-time marathon, Tara rocked the 7k (while being on call for work that weekend!).
Allison: cruised to a very fast 13k leg, despite being away travelling for work the week before, and having to leave earlier to finish a PhD grant proposal - the most super physio I know!
Vicky: first race of the fall season while coming back to VFAC - was our team anchor and kept us at a strong 2nd place finish!

shake it like a polaroid picture
Everyone else on the team, except for Meghan and myself, went back to Vancouver on Saturday night. After walking around both the upper and lower villages and visiting about 4 (closed) sushi places, and one place with a 30-min wait, we finally had some dinner. Against what was likely both of our better judgement, we then headed over to the dance, held in the Whistler convention centre.

I have attended a decent amount of accounting parties: post-UFE parties, pre-UFE results parties, Christmas parties, April 30 parties. So I know awkward. So when I say this dance was more awkward than all the accounting events put together, know that I am serious. (to be fair, I also arrived at the dance dead sober - not a state I have ever been in at an accounting event).

Then...as we stood there, looking at the very far from sober people tearing it up on the dance floor...a pretty good song came on. So we got out there, danced, and had a good time....for about an hour, until my legs got sore from jumping up and down (signature dance move) and we had befriended guys who looked about 15 years...so we decided to call it a night.

you are only coming through in waves / your lips move / but I can't hear what you say
We woke up, again, to snow on Sunday. I realized, in retrospect, that it would have been an excellent idea to buy some sort of run jacket before this weekend. Despite the weather, Barry, Meghan and I stuck with our original plan - to run the Comfortably Numb trail, from the Wedgemont trailhead out to the village.




The trail was gorgeous - the climb was runnable, with occasional views of snowy mountains. The trees in the first part had yellow leaves, covered with snow. On the way up, small trees weighted down with snow fell over the trail and directly in our way. We got a bit more of a core workout than planned trying to either shake the snow off, or run over/under/around them. Meghan, who was in the lead, definitely took one for the team, being the first to get huge chunks of snow all over as the trees got moved.

It was amazing being in the snow covered trees, and looking over the valleys when the clouds cleared. After an initial climbed, the trail rolled up and down along a ridge, with great views and soft quiet of new snowfall.

As we climbed, there was more and more snow on parts of the trail. The sky also started to brighten, and we got occasional glimpses of blue through the trees. In true trail run form, we got (a bit) lost, and I got (a bit) injured. I had a small disagreement with a snow-covered patch of rocks: the rocks won, my left ankle lost. Luckily, at this point, we were pretty close to the end of the run.

I'll just hang out here cradling my hot water
Just under 4 hours later, we arrived in the Whistler Starbucks cold, wet, and exhausted. Barry's friend, Amber, generously drove him back to the trailhead to pick up the car. (originally, we had planned to run the 45mins back to the car on a different trail. However, with my sore ankle and general level of exhaustion, we resorted to a plan B). As we waited,  Mrghan and I both got extra-large cups of hot water. We alternated between sipping these and cradling them against us to keep warm.

Barry came back, with the car (and the heat on full-blast!) and took us over to the house he'd been staying with his PRR friends. The house had a hottub. By this point, I was beyond cold. I was too tired to get into a shower. I was too cold to dig through my stuff to find my bikini.

So I went into the hottub in my full running gear (plus toque). It felt amazing. (thanks to my new PRR friends - you guys are really fun!).

some stats:
temperature waking up Saturday morning: -1C
number of minuature cliff bars taken by me: 20 (approx.)
phone calls / texts to tolerant teammates: too many, likely :)
layers I wore to snowy trails Sunday: 3
number of layers soaked through on Sunday: 3



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