Race recap – 5 Peaks Terwillegar

Finisher 5 PeaksWhhhyyyy do I do this to myself?

I really don’t like this course, but I knew I needed a swift kick in terms of getting off the road and onto the trails.

Trail running is so incredibly different than road racing, and 5 Peaks guarantees that you’re going to get a course that is a big fat twisty single-track adventure when you run at Terwillegar in Edmonton.

Organization
5 Peaks seems to be experiencing a bit of a growth spurt – the first race in the 5 Peaks Northern Alberta series was  sold out!  The race had vendors, snacks, package pick-up and a social media-driven car-pooling initiative going down.  All smooth, all good.  The location is the same as in years past, at the Terwillegar dog park.

Course
Let me just say… I hate this course. I hate it because it kills me every time. Which means I should really love it because I need to conquer it.

It starts innocently enough with flat double-ish track for a few kilometres or so, and then boom!  Up through the trees on a single track along the river where you find yourself running on what appears in the normal-person-world to be a hiking trail.  This twisty trail of fun continues through the trees with a descent, and then another section of undulating hills hugged closely by trees.  After you survive this bit, the path widens out and heads back down to the finish line. But wait, if you’re an idiot and signed up for the Enduro (14 km) course rather than the Sport (7 km) course, you get to do another loop of this foolishness.5Peaks Terwillegar course

My run
I seeded myself in the 3rd (final) wave of the start for the Enduro runners, and was in full panic mode as I covered the first few kilometres. WHY I was freaking out, I can’t tell you. Probably the same emotional rage range I experience when going to the dentist for a little drilling of the teeth. I knew what was coming. I knew it would be challenging. And everyone who signs up for these trail races are just so EPIC!  (Eeeek! Intimidating!)

Once I hit that hiking trail (yes, I will continue to call it a hiking trail) my legs turned to concrete and my heart was pounding right out of my chest.  Adrenaline carried me as my body went into WTF mode.  As we all navigated the steep, rooted trail, I played tag with a couple of ladies running together. I passed them, they passed me.  They rested, then I rested.  It was comforting to always have a someone (anyone?) in constant view. I managed to keep up an acceptable pace but soon enough the duo disappeared ahead as the real hounds caught up to me.

Released from the start gate, the Sport racers were already running up from behind. Total beast mode! I took advantage of their speed to catch my breath by stepping off the trail to let them pass, me cheering and clapping – because it WAS damn impressive.  During this time, I encountered the Enduro sweep who informed me exactly what I was: “the last one.” A little disheartening. Nonetheless, I stepped, cheered, ran, stepped, cheered ran – repeatedly – the next several kilometres as waves of runners came dashing through the woods.  AND I was also completely lapped by the leaders of the Enduro as well!  Freaking amazing!! These guys rocked.

By the time I reached the end of the first loop runners in front of me were veering off to the right, towards the finish line, and I couldn’t see a soul in front of me on the track starting the second loop. I’d lost the pair of ladies who were around my speed.  That first half of the race truly took the guts right out of me, and I was feeling rather alone in my great trail running baptism of 2016.

And that’s when I began to cry.  It was hot. I was tired. It was stupid, really. But it was overwhelming. I felt terrible and dumb and sad. Even the sweep wasn’t running at that point, as she’d stayed back to chat with volunteers.  And cheese and crackers, WHY do I do this to myself?? Why didn’t I just run the short course??  Well, because I knew I needed practice on a long trail run, that’s why.

However, at this point, “logic” didn’t stop the heaving, blinding, pathetic sobs.  I stumbled up the small rise at the beginning of the second loop, and when I was out of sight from the start/finish line and all the happy people, I sat down on a park bench and sipped some water. I sucked back a gel.  And then I got myself together.  Crying was NOT going to miraculously catapult me to the finish line.  I had a long way to go.

So, I kept going. I sucked air all through the hiking trail part, heaving as I climbed up the short, steep inclines, trying to make up time with fast descents. On the next part, a nice volunteer caught up to me.  He was busy plucking the markers off the trail behind me as I either ran or walked.  (Note: he could walk as fast as I “ran”)  He was retired, and we chatted about all sorts of running-related things. He didn’t start running until his 40s, and it cleared up his knee problems as his legs got stronger over the years.

The next trail angel I encountered was heading back to the finish after hanging out at an aid station post-race, and he walked/jogged with me. He gave me good advice on all sorts of trail-related things, including a walking gait to adopt that allowed me to walk faster while still being soft on the knees and providing recovery time mid-race.

My painfully clenched calf muscles (poor calves – shocked to have worked so hard!) had begun to subside by that point, but being a punk and feeling sorry for myself, I continued to walk the remainder of the course.  Every now and then I would trot, and the calves would protest, so I slipped back into walk mode. I figured last was last, and that’s all there was to it – no need to hurry.

As he and I power-walked monkey-style down the final stretch, we could hear the 5 Peaks announcers and the remnants of the crowd.  He told me this was my time now, and I needed to go ahead.  He told me to run and to throw my arms in the air as I crossed the finish line, because I’d earned it.  That made me feel both grateful and silly, mostly because I spent most of the race feeling sorry for myself. And I’m not sure I earned some fabulous finish.

Off I went, trotting across the finish line with a Forrest Gump wave to the poor volunteers who were waiting to go home.  Everyone was so kind, and they clapped, and the race announcer even gave me a Timex running watch along with my commemorative 5 Peaks pint glass for finishing the race. Awwwwww. Thanks, 5 Peaks!

The food table folks brought out a bowl of bananas they’d put away, along with a sleeve of cookies and a half bottle of diet cola. All the other snacks were gone, and as a little kid hanging out by the table lamented, he didn’t get pizza, either – lol.  I took what they could offer and went to sit and watch the dogs play in the dog park as I cooled off.Terwillegar 5 Peaks my run

Lessons
All in all, this race was a great way to get back on the trails and remind myself what work needs to be done = train for the terrain.

When I got home, I scrolled through the online race results and discovered that the ladies who’d been around my pace during the first quarter of the run had only finished about 6 minutes before me. Six minutes.

On the flip side, boy, I was whiny.  I need to – again – get out of my own head, and work on the positive self-talk.  These races are learning experiences and part of the process. I mustn’t get so discouraged!

I was super grateful to run into those trail angels who offered me advice, with no judgement. It’s amazing how far a kind word will go, you know?

And lastly – oh jeez. I’m striving to gain a little more running maturity (ummm there’s no crying in running??).

5 Peaks last place

 

 

 

 

 

Just a volunteer – Hypothermic Half recap from the other side

Hypothermic Half volunteerI had THE BEST time today being a course marshal at the Hypothermic Half in Edmonton.

I’m almost willing to give up being a registered runner for being a registered volunteer at races.  Seriously.  You are thanked, you are treated so well, you are fed, and the best part?  You fill your own bucket with all that cheering, encouragement and loooove you’re showering on other people.

I truly adored seeing all those runners giving 110% in the three waves of half marathon starters this morning.  There were the stunningly fit rock stars who just bloody well lead the pack. There were the groups of buddies, and the solitary loners pushing through and the pairs of men and women soldiering on.  There were a couple of older men and ladies running who would undoubtedly kick my ass.  Some runners just stuck out due to their appearance: the guy in the Superman t-shirt, the ladies in the matching pink jackets, the woman who ran like a prancing pony.

We cheered and hollered and boosted morale as best we could.  The four of us at my station were in a lucky spot – we got to see all the runners four times each, as we were close to the turnaround point plus the finish line turn off.  The weather was nothing near “hypothermic” at all and we stood in the sun, virtually and literally.

It’s an interesting perspective to put on a pair of volunteer shoes in a place where you’re typically on the other side, and see where those sneakers take you.

 

(Long) weekend update: cookies & running. And more cookies. And maybe rum.

The beauty of a long weekend…perfect excuse to eat every delicious BBQ food in the WORLD.

It started quite innocently (let’s invite cousin Matthew & Martina for dinner) and ended in a new BBQ purchased, eighteen thousand full-fat side dishes to accompany chubby cheddar smokies, and pina coladas made with our fancy-dancy new blender thingy from Air Miles… (Bacardi makes pineapple and coconut infused rum. Just for the record.) Oh – AND – the baking of some crazy good (read: addictive) cookies. To eat with ice cream, of course. A few raspberries thrown in to avoid scurvy.

I mean, who doesn’t want Dulce de Leche Stuffed Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies?  Hello? Besides, it was an excuse to go buy a jar of dulce de leche… and try something new. I came across the Wright Family Table blog via foodie pic posts on Instagram and HAD to try these cookies. Yum.

Hot chocolate cookies

So, as you’ve guessed, the weekend tear through BBQ food world was delicious but not exactly on track.  My hands were even swelling two days later. (Sodium?  Lack of rum?) Training, however, was actually decent, and am quite proud of sticking to my little workout schedule leading up to my 10K run this Saturday.

Last week’s training plan and results:

MON: Easy run (30 min) = DONE. Ran outside for the first time in a year, and it was an all-singing, all-dancing panic attack. Every muscle in my body seized up and it was the hardest run in the world hitting the pavement in my neighbourhood.  I did get a high-five from a toothless guy having a smoke outside a local bar. That kept me going for two blocks, and then I had no choice but to keep motoring because the ladies on the next corner, like, OWN that corner and I am not permitted to stop.  In the end, my legs were rock and I could barely lift my feet. I counted the seconds until the 30 minutes were up.

TUE: Yoga – P90X2 “X2 yoga” (67 min) = mostly DONE. Beachbody on Demand streaming died two-thirds of the way through, and I could only hear Tony Horton, not see him. And then the stream kerplunked all together, so I surfed around in BOD looking for alternative stretchy clips. Found some “classic” (aka cheesy) old ones to do.

WED: Tempo run w/ speed intervals (30 min) = DONE and AWESOME. Went inside on the treadmill and calmed down (compared to Monday’s run) and got ‘er done. This was after a 0500 hrs workout and a night of stair walking in the River Valley. #crushedit

THU: Cross training – 21 Day Fix “dirty 30″ (30 min) + T25 “lower focus” (25 min) = DONE, mostly. Did the Dirty 30 but not the Lower Focus. I was beat after yesterday’s workout extravaganza.

FRI: Rest day – walking YEG river valley stairs at lunch time = RESTED. Needed it. Got in a short walk outside but that was it.

SAT: Long(er) run (4.5 miles/~7KM) = DONE, mostly. I had aimed for 4.5 miles, but managed 4 miles at my mellow, “easy run” pace on the treadmill. It took an hour…I am not winning any prizes with my pace, but I know if I keep up the training, my easy run pace will slowly increase over the next few months.

SUN: Easy run (20 min) + Sunday morning Yoga (Meadows Rec Centre) = DONE! The yoga instructor at the Meadows on Sunday is AH-MAZE-ING. She teaches so many lovely lessons about body and life throughout her yoga flow hour.

10K pop-up training plan (aka I forgot I had a race)

Just had that runner’s moment…

seawheeze shortsMy Seawheeze race shorts arrived in the mail on Friday, and I was all “Woohoo, I still have 3 months to train and fit into these size 12 shorts.” (Kinda nice that you get ‘free’ shorts as part of your race registration fee.)

Then today I realized…I should check my calendar…

And HOLY CRAP I have a race in two weeks.  It’s only a 10K, but when one has done strength training and not a lot of actual RUNNING for the past few months, this is kind of a challenge!

So, yes, I’m a little worried I will be miserable or screw up my knees, therefore I’ve developed a pop-up training plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel:

Week 1

MON: Easy run (30 min)
TUE: Yoga – P90X2 “X2 yoga” (67 min)
WED: Tempo run w/ speed intervals (30 min)
THU: Cross training – 21 Day Fix “dirty 30” (30 min) + T25 “lower focus” (25 min)
FRI: Rest day – walking YEG river valley stairs at lunch time
SAT: Long(er) run (4.5 miles/~7KM)
SUN: Easy run (20 min) + Sunday morning Yoga (Meadows Rec Centre)

Week 2

MON: Easy run (40 min)
TUE: Pilates/Yoga – PiYo “drench” (45 min)
WED: Run w/ hill intervals (40 min)
THU: Cross training – 21 Day Fix “cardio fix” (30 min) + T25 “lower focus” (25 min)
FRI: Rest day – walking YEG river valley stairs at lunch time
SAT: RACE DAY! (10K)

And – promises of rolling out the muscles and stretching really well every night.

I checked my Nike running watch and the fastest 10K I’ve ever pulled off is 1hr 11min, and that was part of a longer run. Mind you, last year was about survival, not really about excelling at anything.  Given that this is my first race of the season, and that I’ve been a sloth and not gotten the training miles in properly…I don’t have high hopes for nailing any personal bests. I will consider this run a “training run” unto itself. (Is that a cop out??)

I apologize in advance for not training more to the good people at Rocky Mountain Soap. While it’s my first time participating in the Rocky Mountain Soap Co.’s Women’s Run & Walk, I’ve done a 5 Peaks trail run in the same location, the Canmore Nordic Centre…and it started with 2K of UP and required a canister of bear spray.  Doh.  I think this run is a little more gentle??

Looking forward to a great weekend in the mountains for the race – just need to earn it now…!  Pop-up training plan is a GO!

 

Planting milestones for 2015

Almost two weeks into the fabulous NEW YEAR and I’ve discovered that oh yeah, I’m still me.

It’s like when you get married. Or have a birthday with a zero at the end. And everyone’s like, “Do you feel different??”

Well – I’m still me. Disorganized. Like beer. Love sugar. Need to think a little more highly of myself. And other vaguely endearing traits. But traits that aren’t winning me a kick ass new body so far this year.

That is, after all, what I’ve decided my goal is for 2015: to be, like, uber fit. Yes, the scale will always haunt me and I’ll keep standing on the damn thing (aka I want to lose 50 lbs) but overall, the idea is that I get FIT. Reduce fat, increase muscle. Look awesome. Be strong.

Measurables? Erg. Yes. This is the hard part.

Well, let’s start with some milestones. January: weekend in the mountains full of winter sports, including snowshoeing (yep – another trip out to Skoki Lodge, but this time only one night, so that’s 11 kilometres, 2 mountain passes and a bunch of elevation times two.  Just enough time in between to eat and get a good nights sleep).

May: trail racing! The trail racing season will kick off in the Spring and I’m already signed up for a 10K, with a few others in the pipeline. June: Epic (oh yes, very epic) National Three Peaks Challenge = flying to the UK with my girls to hike the highest tippity-top mountains in each Scotland, Wales and Britain…all in 24 hours. WOOT.

July: Running a half-mara, trail style in the mountains, Powderface. Hiking the West Coast Trail with my most awesome blood relatives who are dear enough to put up with me and give me rides to all the very best trailheads. August: More Rocky Mountain hiking and a half-mara road race in Van, Seawheeze.

Oh, and I did sign up for some online “run 2,015 miles in 2015” thing, too. But they’re PURPOSEFUL miles, not just all my FitBit steps.  Let’s just say, I’m currently a little behind on that goal.

Did you catch all that blank space? Sort of between February and May? That’s gonna require some serious training….However, my KNEE (and I’m so sorry that I’m going to go on and on about this to the point of boredom) is killing me.  The doctor says to go get orthotics and new runners.  Apparently my issues are due to the fact that my feet turn in.  The rehab guru gave me 10+ boring but important exercises to do to strengthen the glutes.  Apparently my issues are due to the glutes not firing…putting pressure on other parts of my legs.  Soo.. being a good girl I’m just doing it all.

new shooze

I need my knee back so that I can walk, run and hike.

I suppose in many ways getting an injury is beneficial. It gives the opportunity to learn more about your body and be more careful. It’s also upping the ante right now, making nutrition my #1 star, not sweaty workouts.  Insert sad face = I LOVE sweaty workouts.

The shock of going back to work (no more 8-hours-a-night) has made me all lethargic.  Last week, I only made dinner once, and left the family to fend for themselves.  We all ate poorly.  One day, I think I ate nothing but carbs. It was so weird.

With that top of mind, on the verge of a new week, I decided to ensure that THIS week was not going to be a nutrition disaster.  Today was BEAUTIFUL out = sun + blue sky. I was dying to go for a snowshoe or over to the winter festival…but I promised myself that I would go shopping (Costco!) and prep meals for the week.

Meal prep January 2015

Now, this meal prep actually took me HOURS. The sun set and I was still prepping!!! Maybe it’s because it was my first time to really do it on a grand scale?? I hope this gets shorter…!  I made 5 lunches + snacks for myself based on the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan, then a set of grab + go snacks for the boys for lunch or after school. Then, I started in on the meal prep for suppers. I posted the menu on the family blackboard, so I’m sticking to it.

MON – Shredded chicken tacos & salad
TUE – Shepherd’s pie & broccoli on the side
WED – Caribbean beef stew
THU – Turkey quinoa taco bake & salad
FRI – Pasta w/Sicilian meatballs & Caesar salad

All of these have healthy and not-as-healthy options. I’ll go heavy on the greens and light on the optional carbs on most of these for myself.

The good news is that in this process I re-discovered what was in the depths of the freezer, and another goal is to use up what we have before buying new stuff.

Now, it’s like, bedtime, and no snowshoeing, no frolicking outdoors…etc.  Sigh. But I think I did the responsible thing… Until next time, some snowshoe shots from LAST week 🙂  Have a fabulous week out there!

Snowshoe awesomesauce

 

Down with moderation – and other 2014 reflections

“It’s better to burn out than to fade away” ~Neil Young

TOTALLY have mixed feelings looking back at 2014.

Love love love love all this:

  • Two amazingly awesome incredible this-is-so-me/can-I-do-this-forever backcountry hiking trips with my coz
  • A 25K trail run, a half-marathon road race, and a handful of smaller trail races
  • A winter snowshoeing backcountry adventure; a crazy road trip to off-season Glacier National Park in Montana; an #unexpecteddrive to Alberta’s badlands = all with my girl, J.
  • Losing 30ish pounds

Not so in love with this:

  • ONLY losing 30ish pounds (it should have been more)

But now I just sound greedy.

Last year I wrote: “2014 is about getting fit, and getting outside.  Losing weight is the icing on the cake + the foam on my beer, but the ultimate goal is to be healthy and fit.”

Anyway, I DID GET OUTSIDE which was my main goal for 2014.  And I had SOOOO much fun.

But I think in my heart of hearts, I didn’t JUST want to get outside. I wanted to be in crazy good shape, have muscles, no body fat and of course, continue to explore the mountains and weigh a whole lot less.  So – I think I need to revamp my goals for this coming year to reflect those thoughts!

If that’s what I really want, I’m going to have to work really hard and be super committed for #LeanMean2015.

[insert whine here] I was really trying to do that “everything in moderation” stuff in 2014 and balance the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of my life, but oddly enough when I stopped going balls to the wall with the weight loss in around June and just followed a ‘program,’ my results were not as dramatic.  True? False?  Hm. Or did I get lazy?

Down with moderation!  Go big or go home.  Will this work in 2015??  WE SHALL SEE.

Game plan to follow!!  Have a DELIGHTFUL New Year’s Eve.

Detox Day 3: 3-Day Refresh

I had to go to work on Day 3.

It was a Monday.

It was a little bit of a drag. I got to smell all sorts of delish lunches being warmed up in the kitchen. Lunchtime was over in 30 seconds for me (slurp, crunch, done) so I went for a walk.

Lots of energy again today – efficient, effective, etc. Crazy how despite the vague feeling of hunger, I was sharper and more aware of a lot of things, if that makes sense. I prioritized, got things done, had some clarity and vision on other topics. Hm.

When I got home, the family was all in the kitchen making their dinners, and I was blending mine. My love affair with food was on hiatus essentially. Food plays so much more of a role than just “fuel” for me. Hard to break that train of thought.

Monday was super hot in the city again, and despite going to bed at a reasonable hour, I couldn’t sleep. By 1:00 am I shuffled downstairs where it was much cooler. And because it was past midnight (3 days done in my books), I ate a wrap with ham in it. I was SO HUNGRY.

Fast forward to the next morning – for (ta-dah) —–> the RESULTS!

I was down 5.5 lbs and 2 inches from my waist. Feeling lighter on my toes MENTALLY, above all.  Was the junk in my system slowing my brain down?

Would I recommend this refresh?  Ya.  I’d do it again, I think, maybe after Christmas or a holiday.  It really re-sets you. It was an annoyance for me though.  It showed me what a huge role (beyond just being fuel) that food plays in my life. I’m slightly obsessive.

I think my biggest take away is “What am I going to eat next?”  It’s not the pizza or the gooey brownie from the Italian Centre (you know, the one where you literally feel the sugar coursing through your veins = so good) that I was kinda secretly planning on. Instead, I’m feeling very careful in my decisions.

The next day, I spent 15 minutes in Sobey’s staring at the Greek yogurt section debating whether or not I wanted to add dairy back in after the refresh.  I did buy a container (I love it to pieces) but then I didn’t enjoy it as much.  I just felt like it wasn’t right. (Is it possible to be brainwashed by vegetables in three short days?)

Now two days later, I know for sure that I’m going to give dairy a break, remove all processed meats from my diet (so long, deli ham!) and keep my coffee treats to green tea treats.  (Not terribly excited about this, but it just feels right – does that make sense?)  The hardest part is not knowing what to replace things with.  I need to check my protein lists again, review my carb options, get some recipes…so that I’m better prepared.

And that’s the 3-Day Refresh!  Give it a go. You can buy it here with a 30-day supply of Shakeology so you can maintain your kick start results: 3-Day Refresh challenge pack.  Or you can just buy the three day kit on its own here: 3-Day Refresh base kit.

Would love to hear if you do this detox – post your story and results!

Or if you’ve done other detoxes, what were they like?