Race report: Blackfoot Ultra (Baby Ultra)

slow runnersIt’s an absolutely humbling thing to be running my very first ultra race, knowing I’m at the “baby” level… when that very number of 25K is huge for me.

Amazing runners of all age, shape, speed and ability scampered about the 25K loop in the Blackfoot-Cooking Lake Provincial Recreation Area, completing 100K, 50 mile, 50K and 25K races; not to mention the kids’ ultra. Crazy awesome!

Organization: I heard about the Blackfoot Ultra through Miz N. back in January, but before we could all get out acts together to plan something out, form a team etc. this race sold out.  Two of us got in to the 25K before it capped. Miz Jill and I would be running together!

The Blackfoot Ultra website is informative, and closer to the race, the Facebook page was a bit more lively with details and updates.  The runners who choose to be involved in this race seem to be a pretty tight-knit community. That was pretty clear when we went to pick up our race kits. At the pick up we received our numbers and our baby-pink Blackfoot Ultra-themed arm sleeves.

Out at the Islet Lake Staging Area at Blackfoot, the race folks were super friendly, all the announcements were fun and punchy, and there was no end to the snacks at the start/finish and throughout the course. Families and support teams had all their gear, too: a mashup of little screen tents, camp chairs, coolers, blankets, books, babies, dogs, etc.  You could tell some people had done this before.

Course: The 25K course is otherwise known as “Death by 100 Hills.”  The loop winds through trees, past lakes, along an equestrian path, over hill and dale. Lots of hills!  The trail itself was mostly sproingy and easy on the knees, and wide enough to go two runners deep with a third passing (none of this single-track nonsense). There were four aid stations along the course plus one at the start/finish line.  God bless the organizers for their generosity in keeping us all satiated: bacon & perogies, licorice, salty potato chips, Clif bars, bagels, loads of fruit and more.  At the end, bison dogs and Dilly Bars awaited.

My run: Off we went, with a crowd of 80 or so runners all doing the Baby Ultra.  I had my small Platypus hydration pack from back in the day and a three-litre bladder of water, a separate bladder with frozen watermelon Spark, a handful of lemon gels, a shot of vodka (for emergencies…), my 5 Peaks Buff, and some Clif bars.

Warm and windy, this is the first time I’d ever run with a hat. I wore my Sauconys, which have served me well so far, my workout pants and a silly “suit” technical tee that actually belongs to my husband as part of his Men-in-Black corporate challenge outfit for MacEwan University. I suppose I should really invest in some “real” running clothes! Haha. I had lots of “Well, thank you for dressing up for the run today” comments. Silly.

The first few kilometres were my usual crapshoot of panic.  People! Running! Heat! Eek!  But I settled down. Compared to my first visit to the rec area when everything was brown, grey and frozen, now it was fresh, green and sparkling.  The ultra runners passing us all said kind words like “Good job!” (SO NICE considering we were being passed by super athletes who were on loop 3 or 4 of the very course we were doing once!)

Other than the quarter-sized mozzies, the occasional animal track in the dried mud (cougar?) and the singing frogs (hello my baby…), there wasn’t much sign of wildlife. Yes, no half-knawed leg o’deer left on the trail like our last visit.

My running watch is set in miles, so thus goes my commentary of things I can vaguely recall:

  • ~mile 2.5 – we came to the first aid station and I gave Miz A. a giant sweaty hug for volunteering.
  • ~mile 3 – outhouse stop to end the potluck lunch fest from work the day before (yes, I had one of everything).
  • ~mile 3.5 – my hands totally swelled up so that it was difficult to even make a fist. I blame it on the warm weather.  They stayed like this until I stopped running.
  • ~mile 4 – my left knee: nothing bad, just present.
  • ~mile 6 – kind of settled down into a rhythm at this point.
  • ~mile 7 – finally passed a couple of pink shirts & a runner from Vancouver whom we’d been playing passing games with for far too long.
  • ~mile 9 – came out of Central Alley relatively unscathed to an aid station where I ate a copious amount of potato chips.
  • ~mile 11 – walked briskly for a bit to ease the legs
  • ~mile 15 – met up with some little tyke who was in the kids’ run – he was a sprinter!

We finished the race, unofficially and by my watch, at 3:59 hrs.

Woohoo!  Our parental crew cheered us in, took photos, gave us drinks and chatted for a bit as we watched more runners come in.  To be honest, I was in a bit of a zone, and probably wasn’t very talkative.

I wanted to get into it and eat the bison smokies and Dilly Bars, but I was kinda out of it.  The temperature dipped slightly after 4:30 pm and clouds began to gather.  We didn’t stay around much longer after that, and then headed home.

Kudos to the organizers, though, who were still giving awards, maintaining their upbeat announcements etc, as if they were fresh as a daisy and not having been there since, like, 5:00 am when the 100K runners started….

My husband had more chippies waiting for me when I got home, along with cheddar/caramel popcorn and some supper.  I ate almost that whole bag of Bacon & Sour Cream in the name of running. A bit cheeky, I know.

Highlights of the race:

  1. Finishing in a respectable time (ie. not on a stretcher or crying).
  2. Running with Miz Jill and having fun.
  3. The crusty layer of salt all over my face.  That was cool.
  4. This was my first half marathon and/or ultra.
  5. I logged my fasted trail 10K.

And there it is.

My next officially scheduled run is the 5K Color Me Rad on July 5th.  A little more colour, a little less running.

Race day dawns

go for a runThe big race is almost here and I’m pretty relieved.

Admittedly, to get it DONE. But I mean that only in a good way.

It’s going to be a sunny, warm day; my mom is coming out; my lovely friend is volunteering at the race and hanging out to cheer me through; I’m running with my dearest, darlingest friend and coach; her mom & dad are coming out to take it all in (and, rumour has it, to explore the possibility of beer & wings, post-race)…

That’s all pretty awesome.

Once the race is over, I have another fresh start.

An opportunity to set a new goal.

I’ve decided that I really like running, but I am certainly challenged to stick with a long-term training plan that is almost exclusively running. Running. RUNNNNNING.

In reality, it might be about time in the day. If I was not employed (but independently wealthy – hahahaha) then I could workout all day. Making choices about how to spend your day is another story.

Enough yammering.  Time to go get ready.  To run. 25. K.

 

Plateau, schmateau

change starts with youOkay.

Soooo, a road trip followed by a couple of races and a case of extreme taper training = no weight loss. At all.

My goal of losing 8 lbs for the month of May is kinda shot right now, unless there’s a miracle.  And it’s not like I can honestly say I’ve gained muscle (from what, sitting on my butt?) or lost inches.  Maybe I’ll go with the idea that my body is taking a break after the 12 lbs lost last month.

Boy, when one’s head isn’t in the game, it sure shows.

I started tracking food again today, and saw that I’m actually coming a little too far under in my calorie count. I’m actually not eating enough.  DUH.  All that opportunity to go mental on broccoli, spinach, etc – lost.

The big race is Saturday, and I swear my muscles are seizing up due to lack of use.  I’ll have to get out the roller or sit in the hot tub to loosen those suckers up a bit in order to make that 25K on the weekend. I just want to go, run, have fun, FINISH, and go home.

I put up my Shaun T training poster and set up my workout area for Insanity – The Asylum, but I think I’m going to hold off a bit until my flexibility returns.  Keep your shirt on, Shaun.  I’ll be back in a month.

Instead, I’m rounding up friends to do the 21-Day Fix with me in June.  It’s all about three weeks of getting our shit sorted.  (You wanna hot body? You wanna Bugatti…?)  And knocking me off this stupid plateau.

Rumour has it from others I know who’ve done it…10 lbs + several inches lost in 3 weeks (can this be??) and a meal plan with portion guidance so you don’t fall off the track into nacho heaven…by accident. Haha. Although, nacho heaven can be a nice place, but not if you have like, a class reunion, wedding, or some other social event this summer when you need to be slim n’hot.

Oh yes, this just got all VANITY up in yer grill…

Want to join me?

Time to get on with it – for reals.

Like, summer is practically HERE.

Erg – running hurts

Wish it was easierLately, running has just been so uncomfortable.

With the big run less than a week away, the training plan is in taper mode.  But I’ve already been on my own tapering plan following my 10K and 16K trail runs: my calf hurts.

It doesn’t hurt when I place my foot, but when I lift my foot.

Sooo, I’ve avoided running too much since my last trail race.  Then when I do run, everything hurts. All over. Not just the leg. Aching.  And not the good so-glad-to-be-back kind of ache.  Just a I-thought-we-were-done-with-running ache. Body thought it was over.  Brain is already long gone on that subject.

Googling my injuries is a crapshoot. I could have anything, really. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)?  Tendonitis? Swelling?  Lazy ass syndrome?  Take your pick.

A 14-week training program is really great, but it’s almost like I’ve grown a bit weary of all the constant running and need a break.  I want to try other things (she whined).

Four more days. Will run 25K then take a break from it.  Just need to get it done.

And then, of course, I’ll be all “I just ran 25K – I love this!”   Or something.

 

Sighted: collarbone, possibly shoulder

willpower is a muscleThe other day I caught a rare glimpse of anatomy: my collarbone.  It lives!! Seriously, what the hell? Where has it been all these years? It’s actually kind of sexy.

And then there’s the shoulder. Also present. Two of them. And when I flex my arm the right way and hold it at a very specific angle, I can also see biceps.

These views are often fleeting, but with any luck (aka hard work), they’ll be around more often in the near future.

I still have moments when I’m walking along feeling fantastic and then I catch my reflection in a shop window, and instead of being proud of my newly evolving shape, I just see a fat girl.  Still.  Fat. I have – at the very least – 65 more pounds to lose. It’s such a long journey. Or, as my very good friend would say, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Sometimes that marathon seems to go on forever.

Even worse than seeing your own I’m-still-not-there reflection is the emotional mirror that comes with losing weight. All those issues that got you to 235 lbs in the first place start to surface. Stuff you thought didn’t matter or that had been dealt with…whammo. I’ve got some baggage to address, methinks.  But let’s pull a Scarlett O’Hara and think about that…tomorrow.

On a happier, fitness-y note, my Insanity – The Asylum kit arrived last week. It took me until yesterday to even open the box. One shouldn’t be afraid of a workout DVD, but as I mentioned before, I may have chosen something a little beyond my level.

So, I sat down to watch (not to do…) the fitness test participants are supposed to take prior to starting the program. This establishes a benchmark and best gauges your progress along the 30-day challenge. Well. I got through all the medical warnings at the beginning of the DVD (I’ll take that as an “out” if needed) and proceeded to have my first introduction to trainer Shaun T.

Let me say, I was exhausted just watching the fit test. This guy has all this confidence, and makes shit look easy, and talks to me like I can so dooooo this and that I just need to try harder and lift those knees higher…

The three people Shaun T. had working out were like, uber champions themselves. Two ripped men and a super fit lady. (Whimper) They gave 110% and pushed through that test with some heavy breathing etc. but not to the collapse-on-the-floor point that I’m sure to reach within 7 minutes. Even the warm up looked strenuous.

My first thought was DEAR GOD; the second was that there is no way I can do these workouts in my bedroom space. I may have to move furniture. I need my own workout studio. Garage, perhaps?? But the third thought was … what IF? What if this is the hardest thing ever, but what if I can do 30 days?

So, yes. Am going to try this workout.

Once I get my location established, my workout poster on the wall, my “before” measurements/photos done, and inform the family that THIS IS HAPPENING, then I will start. I’m currently trying to convince my offspring to join me.

So that they can wake me up when I pass out, of course.

Liebster Award for meeeeeee!

liebster awardThe lovely, talented and fast (yes, I said fast) Kris from Canadian Girl Runs nominated my blog for a Liebster Award.

Woooohooooo!

The Liebster highlights new bloggers or bloggers with a smaller following so that they can get a little traffic!

THANK YOU, KRIS!

It’s always nice to get a little shot in the arm and know someone has read – and possibly enjoyed – my ramblings.

Rules for the Liebster award

  1. List 10 random facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the questions designated by the blogger(s) who nominated you.
  3. Place YOUR nominations for the Liebster Award! Nominate other bloggers that have fewer than 200 followers. Make sure to notify them via comment/email, etc.
  4. Make up a set of questions for those nominated bloggers to answer.
  5. Display the Liebster award badge on your blog!

My random facts

  1. I lived on three continents before I was 5 years old
  2. Winter is my second favourite season
  3. I’ve seen a ghost
  4. Can’t drink from coffee cup lids without disaster
  5. I struggle with girly stuff, like getting haircuts, nails done, tanning
  6. The pottery owl on my desk reminds me of someone pretty damn awesome
  7. Lake Louise was my home for 7 years
  8. I worry about my parents
  9. Robin Zander is hot – even now
  10. I could watch Lord of the Rings over & over & over & over…

Questions from my nominator, Kris @ Canadian Girl Runs!

  1. What is your favourite distance to run? For training purposes I feel nicely worked over after a 5-miler.  Right now, I’d say a 10K is my racing favourite.  Mind you, I still have a 25K to meet at the end of the month so my answers could change!
  2. If you could run a race anywhere in the world where would it be? Short term goals – I’m looking with runner’s envy upon the Vancouver SeaWheeze!  I’m going to be on the ball for the 2015 registration.
  3. Who is your biggest fitness inspiration?  I’m inspired by everyday people who make fitness a priority in their lives, whether they are friends, colleagues, or virtual peeps. Surrounding myself with all that positive peer pressure helps me achieve my goals, and push for even greater challenges.
  4. Ten years ago today, what would be the “most played song” on your iPod (or walkman, or mp3, or discman…)? Ten years ago I was living in Dubai, raising two young boys and working insane hours in the hotel/PR industry.  I used to play a mix tape of Brit hits my former boss made for me.
  5. What is your favourite restaurant? I go where there’s goat cheese.
  6. What is the best advice you could give someone who is just starting to get into fitness? Take it easy, set bite-sized goals and you will set yourself up for a solid lifestyle change.
  7. Favourite dessert? Can I say goat cheese?
  8. What is one piece of technology you just CANNOT live without?  I’m pretty addicted – much like a teenager at the dinner table – to my iPod for music, podcasts and the good old Internet.
  9. What is your favourite TV show? Netflix – does that count?  I love Netflix because I can have one night stands with Lost, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Gossip Girl, Downton Abbey, Dexter, etc and then move on to the next binge.
  10. Finally, what made you decide to start blogging? I started blogging about my fitness journey so that I could keep track and hold myself accountable. As well, having a platform to share ideas and motivation. Maybe I could inspire someone else one day.

My nomination
http://summersilence.typepad.com/

My questions for Tiffany at Summer Silence

  1. What/who inspires you?
  2. If you were to host a dinner party and could invite anyone – living or dead – who are your top six?
  3. What is the first thing you check on your phone when you wake up?
  4. Who would you love to interview next on your blog?
  5. What is the veggie dish you love to prepare and share?
  6. What colours are in for this fall?
  7. Thoughts on macramé owls – making a comeback?
  8. What is your favourite piece of clothing?
  9. Where do you shoot most of your blog photos?
  10. When did you know you wanted to blog?

Eating to lose weight on a road trip. Or not.

Never have I been so acutely aware of my food intake than when I embarked on a road trip this past week.

Suddenly, the safe monotony of my home kitchen was no longer available, and I had to be super careful on what to put in my mouth in order to be healthy and to hopefully continue the weight loss as I holiday’ed with the girls.

I normally eat lots of greens (spinach!), protein (chicken, beef, eggs, nuts, seeds), fruit (bananas, cherries, pineapple) with the occasional whole grains thrown in.  Peanut butter is my pre-workout go-to spread.  I also have protein, vitamin and veggie powders on hand to add to morning smoothies (such as GNC‘s veggie mix and Shakeology).

Sounds easy enough to re-create on the road, right? Wellllll…

I brought my blender with me (ha!) for the dual purpose of pina coladas and smoothies, but I only used it once.  I also brought all the ingredients for my current fav salad (spring mix, baby spinach, strawberries, kumquats, almonds, white onion and sweet onion dressing) but that never happened either.  Two bananas travelled more than 1,990 kms and through two international border crossings without being consumed.

So what did I eat? And drink?  (Or perhaps, what didn’t I drink??)

In Invermere, six of us girls stayed in a fantastic loft suite at the Copper Point Resort complete with a kitchen, living room and BBQ on the balcony.  Pre-10K-race, I managed a smoothie and granola bar but for the remainder of the weekend, it was all about sandwiches from the Kicking Horse Cafe (Wink!), delicious homemade guacamole with lots of garlic, cilantro and chunks of tomato (Melissa!) , and creamy, cheesy baked artichoke dip (Cara!) served with pita chips and Tostitos. Mmmm moderation.

Celebrating a birthday (Jill!) on the trip as well, the drinks were always topped up: vodka seemed to be the safest liquor choice there (~75 calories), although when we crashed a golf tourney party straight Jaeger was the only option (that’s 103 cals a shot, but I guess that doesn’t count if it comes back up….).

With stellar service and a delicious menu, Sunday brunch at the Eagle Ranch Clubhouse was amazing.  I started with the daily soup (a roasted potato and bacon with horseradish) followed by a Caesar salad (all while mooching a bit of fish n’chips from another plate…). And then it was on the road, heading stateside.  For all the driving we did, we didn’t have chips, pop, candy or other typical road snacks. Which was good!

From there on in, it was all about TRYING to keep it down to a dull roar.  Nothing was going to be as clean as eating straight spinach. Portion size became the name of the game as we made our way though Whitefish, Lakeside and Bigfork.  Wakeboard Wit ale at the Tamarack; grilled bacon & cheese sandwich at Spinnaker’s chased by Paralyzers made with huckleberry vodka; the massive rancher’s breakfast of eggs, ham, house-made English muffins and huckleberry jam, and potatoes (couldn’t finish it!) at the Pocketstone Cafe

Arriving for a three-day stay at the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, we discovered the dining car to be an unexpected highlight. Chef J’s menu offered carefully crafted dishes using local meats, dairy and produce. We sampled as much as possible during our visit, and often shared our selections.

We didn’t ever have breakfast, but for lunch we tried the Monte Cristo (ham, turkey, Swiss cheese, French toast, huckleberry jam), the Chicken (grilled chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, red onion, cheddar cheese, roasted red pepper aioli) and the Vegetarian (roasted summer squash, zucchini, shiitake mushroom, olive tapenade, herbed goat spread, wheat bread) all with soup or salad. I loved the thick, rich tomato basil soup with wee oyster crackers.

For dinner, I think we started with the “Crostini & Tapanade” every single night (how can one refuse olive tapanade & goat cheese??);  and tried the grilled Caesar, the spinach salad, the buffalo à la bourguignon, the mushroom risotto and the summer vegetable ratatouille.  The only dessert we ordered was one huckleberry cobbler, to share, and then we drank a few different brews, margaritas (research for Project Margarita), and Montana Mules (local whiskey, ginger beer, etc).

After we left Essex, our drive looped along the outskirts of Glacier National Park, and then bent Northward once again.  Crossing the border, Banff became the final holiday destination, driving like mad to hit the 9:30 pm kitchen cutoff for the Bear Street Tavern where I happily indulged in my favourite pizza, the Big Bird (chicken, bacon, spinach, onions, goat cheese, mozzarella, pesto, pizza sauce) served up with honey & rosemary oil.

Wow – that was a lot of talk about food. (Mmmm food).

In the end, I did gain just under 2 lbs – sigh!!!  But I’m back at it now to work it off and streamline the food (and drink!) intake.

It was, of course, all worth it.

PS. If you are ever in Lakeside, MT, go to Spinnaker’s and Ashley will take care of you. She is amazing. Look for our #YEG dollah-dollah bill taped to the bar ceiling.

PPS. In Essex, MT, go to the Izaak Walton Inn’s dining car and make sure Mike is your server. He is knowledgeable, attentive and funny as hell.  Ask him to do the Linus dance for you. Tip him big.

PPPS.  If you decide to stay at Copper Point Resort in Invermere, BC, remember that while the rooms are still nice, the service (from F&B through to rooms) is on the downside of mediocre.  Don’t hope to be impressed.  The only top service in the hotel is at the spa – which is outsourced.