Sunday, 24 February 2013


(Instead of slowing down, I shine brighter) - courtesy of

After 5 weeks or so of physio approved, slow build up back to decent mileage, it was time for a change. My legs had been feeling fresh every workout. Come 6pm, I wasn't a sleepy mess. I even had 3 glasses of wine one night without become a narcoleptic drunk.

All of that changed this past weekend, when I got back in the trail run routine of back-to-back workouts.

avalanche warning
I changed my Saturday plans from the BCMC hike and 10k run to a two hour trail run due to the avalanche warning. I saw it on the news - okay. My triathlete friend texted me about the warning - however, he's had a mortal fear of the BCMC ever since I made him do the Grouse Grind, in snow, in racing flats, without yak traks. So him saying something bad will happen on Grouse in the snow is pretty much any e-mail conversation I've had with him, ever. Then I heard from Barry about the risk. Barry makes a lot more questionable choices involving mountains, so I listened to him. I asked trail expert and local North shore celebrity Brooke for advice. She said to do what I felt comfortable with. I felt comfortable with doing easy routes like the seawall without risk of death and misdirection - so I've been running outside my comfort zone since last year.

I made the executive decision to not die on the snow. Instead, Lucy, Katie and I encountered snow in a less scary setting: slipping around as we ran down the Baden Powell towards Lynne Headwaters. The sunlight shone through the trees, and we were steaming by the end of the run. I ended the run going down skyline back towards the parking lot in the last section of the trail, with a view of the fresh snow on the Lions, sun warming my legs.

OCD runner
Three weeks to Chuckanut 50k race and my longest run to date had been....28k. The plan was to a 27k trail run, plus 10k bonus on flat stuff. I was able to convince Meghan to not only take the 6:30am ferry over from the sunshine coast, but to join me for the entire 37k of awesome. The run was on Sunday. I started planning this run...the Monday before. A bit over-eager.

With the help of Dr. Ramsey, I was able to organize one of the more complicated run plans ever. The organization started Monday. By Friday, there were two potential meeting places, no start time, and some confused participants. And two extra runners who couldn't make the actual run, but wanted to be there for the after-brunch. Thanks to Ramsey's organization, everything came together. We met up with Allison (who was doing her own epic 22mile marathon training run) and ran our first portion: 12k from Park Royal to Lynne and Dempsey (it was supposed to be 10k - distance estimation isn't really my strong suit). From here, we would run the Dirty Duo 25k run course.

getting warmed up
We started the run in the rain. Allison did a great job leading us to the trailhead. (Ramsey didn't really trust me to navigate on my own, so it was nice to have our own personal guide) When the pace we were running along the flat road felt hard, I realized that this might not be the easiest day. 12k and some uphill later, we met up with Brooke, Katie, Sarah, Ramsey boyfriend Donovan? He had asked about my run plans the night before. I told him: messy trails, snowy trails, a lot of climbing, and more mud. Typically, these types of descriptions don't sell people outside of my usual group of crazies. After spending some time researching on garmin connect the night before (due to continued post-Grand Canyon trust issues), he decided that he loved mud, snow, and uphill climbing way more than Ironman training. 

By the time we started the trail section, I was completely soaked. This was helpful, as the trail quickly became a series of muddy puddles. Donovan and Sarah had the idea that they could somehow keep their shoes dry and did a lot of bonus mileage by navigating around the huge puddles on the trail.

second time is the charm
I had done the Dirty Duo race last year. I remember the slick, sloping boardwalks, huge puddles and the last snowy climb. I also remember taking a wrong turn, and ending up back at the top of the largest climb...twice. At this point, the aid station volunteers didn't trust me to to navigate the 200m or so through the forest to the parking lot, and I got escorted to the road. A very nice volunteer picked me up and then drove me back to the finish area. The race director had no idea how I was able to get lost so badly.

So what I'm saying is that I was not left in charge of directions this year.

it's fucking cold
It rained the entire time we were out running. Except for the part where it snowed. I was soaked after the first hour. Sometimes, I feel my search for the perfect waterproof run jacket is like searching for wine that will not make you feel hungover the next day: maybe it exists, but all experience has proven otherwise. The only way I kept warm was to keep moving.

About 3.5hrs into mine and Meghan's run, we started to climb up Old Buck trail. Maybe we just weren't pushing ourselves, because as soon a we hit snow we just got pretty damn cold. At the top of the climb, a (literally) steaming Ramsey gave Meghan his running jacket - and then did it up for her, as her hands were too frozen to operate a zipper. The uphill on snow was the easy part. The downhill was technical: lots of mountain bike ramps, sharp drop-offs, roots, and rocks. (normally - scary but pretty damn fun). When this was coated in a layer of slick snow, it just became scary.

By this point, neither Meghan or I could feel our feet (we couldn't feel our hands either, but we didn't need these for the downhill, so less concerning). At some points, the snow disappeared from the trail - replaced by an icy stream. Meghan is a fellow believer in run mantras. Her favourite one is short, sweet, and to-the-point: "I feel good! I feel GREAT!".

As we creaked our way down the trail, I started to yell it out: "I FEEL GOOD." Meghan chimed in: "I FEEL GREAT!". It might not have helped me to get any warmer, but it definitely scared some wildlife.

Finally, I was chasing a way-out-in-front Brooke and Sarah up Homestead, where the run ended - and dry clothes were waiting.

Dr. Ramsey's running instructions

Four of us girls bee-lined for the one washroom in order to get into warm clothes. It took forever to change, mostly on account of not being able to feel my hands.

The rest of the day I was a bit run-stupid.

The day after...I was just hungry as hell.

The day after that...well, that tempo sure was a bit of a shock.

It's good to be back to training :)

pull along
I was supposed to do the run at a "reasonably hard" effort - basically, find my edge, and see how long I could run there for 4+ hours. On my own, this would have been a pretty big challenge. It was great to run with a group...and ours was a big one, with everyone helping in some way. Somehow, I managed 41k, 1300m, a ton of swearing on the uphills, and NO ROLLED ANKLES.

Ramsey (who had originally organized the run to be him and a lot of females) - in charge of singing Disney songs on downhills AND a very challenging uphill. Also apparently has a built in heater, as he gave up his rain jacket to Meghan on the snowiest and highest section of the trail. Also had the most matching outfit.

Brooke - in charge of leading the run, navigating the run, and also had the most efficient bathroom breaks of anyone on the run ("My hands are so cold I'm not sure if I'll be able to pull up my pants after this."). Powered on the uphills, floated down the tricky descents and somehow was still able to kick it up Homestead hill after 3+hrs of running....and then went to work for 6 hours after. I think North shore people are just a hardier folk?

Donovan - runner up in the matching outfit award. Was worried he overpacked for bringing extras of dry gloves, etc, which he didn't get to use as they were instead given out to freezing females. Went up a tough uphill, discussing the delicate politics of changing lanes in morning swimming class. Totally killed the run...good thing he has two more days to enter into his first love, the kneeknacker lottery.

Katie - my transrockies training bestie not only braved both trail runs with me on Saturday and Sunday - but also my driving on both days! She was so hardcore that she left immediately after the run, took several buses home to just make her 1:45pm pickup for a ferry to the island (and didn't even have time for a shower anywhere in there).

Sarah - Fresh off a debut 1:29 half-marathon, she came out to run in teeny road socks and no discernible food - and totally killed it! The best positive attitude ("this is just a bunny hill!") even with a fairly alarming, bleeding blister/leg by the end of the run.

Meghan - went along with my somewhat ambitious run plan, and stayed tough and focused  I think the 12k on concrete to the trailhead was one of her longer road runs? Now is in charge of organizing a sunshine coast trail trip (hopefully with less terrifying downhill? please?), finishing with an "ice bath" in the beach in front of her apartment!

Nathan and Barry get special mentions for travelling all the way out to North Vancouver for brunch. Nathan's half-serving of brunch also made me doubt some of my own recovery food choices.

Me - I got really bad chafing (I would post pictures, but this is a family website/blog).

1 comment:

  1. Sounds amazing!!! I wish I had as many crazy friends as you do!! I ran with a friend this Sunday in the pouring rain too - except we only did 2:15 on the trails, and were SO wet and cold, so I feel for you.

    Best of luck at Chuckanut!!