Monday, 24 August 2015

Black Spur Ultra Race Report

We are driving to Kimberley, BC and I start eyeing the elevation graphs on the BlackSpur website. I mean really studying them, since I will be running the 3 legs in less than 24 hours. I knew the race would be challenging, but I don't think I had a realistic idea of how challenging this 50K run would be.

The race can be run as a 50K or 100K solo or as a relay team for the 100K and takes place at the Kimberley Alpine Resort in Beautiful British Columbia. The transition areas for all 3 or 6 legs are at the base of the mountain, which makes it nice for drop bags and for people crewing and cheering and especially for soloists that are self supporting. 
At the pre-race meeting, Brian tells us just how challenging this course will be and that it is actually over 52km, not 50K. I am actually good with this news! My sick mind would rather over than under ;) He also explains that there are some areas that are not even trails, but just rock that he has marked. He mentions all of the single track on course. I am more excited than ever! 
The night before the race we had mice in our trailer that kept us up all night. Between racing dreams, dreaming of the new chameleon kit from INKnBURN (seriously!)  and the mice, I probably slept less than 2 hours. This did not however damper my excitement!
Ready to run on a very chilly morning...

Leg 1 was amazing! With tons of single track as promised, cushy running on moss and twigs and "rock climbing" it was my favourite leg! I love the twisted mind of Brian Gallant and how he made this course! 
I felt powerful on this leg, being in what I consider my elements! Climbing and running downhill. Approximately 16km and over 1000 meters of elevation gain, left me feeling strong coming into the transition area. 
Yup, that is the trail ;) The rock in the middle of the trees...
And yes. More trail there. Really! Up the middle of the trees :-)
Leg 2 was also pretty amazing! I kept going strong drinking water and fuelling with Vitargo. So many  amazing views on this leg as well! I wasn't sure where I was sitting in the standings at this point, but figured I was likely top 10. I was happy thinking this. Leg 2 saw me running over 17Km with an elevation gain of 935 meters. 
This was my favourite part of this leg :) Amazing!

Dipper Lake. My next favourite part of Leg 2.

I came in to the transition area to find my husband, kids and puppy had joined my sister and my parents. I love seeing them at my races! Chris helped me load up my bag with fresh water and Vitargo and helped me to get back out to finish the last 18Km and 842 meters of elevation to gain.
I did decide to change my shoes at the transition, as my feet hurt. I also decided to have an Ensure, just because. I feel both of these may have been mistakes. But I guess I will live and learn.
I went out feeling okay. Just okay, as the ensure was not sitting well with me. I started the climb up, and within minutes I started feeling extremely nauseous. Moments later I started dry heaving. I was not sure what to think. I had never experienced this before! I took some tylenol for my foot pain. Stopped at an outhouse to pee, and then found myself more in the trees. I slowly started to feel a little better. Not great, but better. 
I was still not sure where I was "in the pack" but decided it was not worth it at this point to stress out about it as I was sure there were a lot faster than me. I felt low, and I was letting that bring my run down. I was hoping for a top 10 finish, but really didn't care at this point! 
I reached some single track with lots of technical running! My favourite! This brought me back some energy! I caught up to a young girl that had passed me at the start of the leg. I passed her when I first caught her, but like any true competitor, it lit a spark in her and she passed me. I started talking was she passed me, and we ran down a long double track to the checkpoint together. It was nice to chat to someone. Just about nothing really. Ultra running, Sinister 7, where we were from. Just small talk, but it was nice. 
At the checkpoint there was a familiar face waiting to offer me goodies. Abi Moore (my idol and friend) was volunteering. It was so great to see her, but I was feeling quite low and really craving pop (which they didn't have), so I didn't stay to chat much, and out I went as her hubby (Mike) yelled that I only 9km more! 9Km! I can do this! And so began another climb up.
The views on Leg 3 were like no other! With mountains and valleys. It was Gorgeous! 
I hiked up the hill, as the young girl ran up by me. I thought to myself "WOW! Good for her!" I have always hiked up the hills since Ultra running. Well, especially when I am running more than 20K. I enjoyed the views and took my time to hydrate and refuel. Once I got to the top I was able to jog again. My Garmin had died, so I turned on my Nike Run app so that I had some idea how far I had run of the 9km left (probably 8 at that point). I took my time and enjoyed the run. Passing some having a hard time, and another passing me that was a strong relay runner.
I was feeling pretty okay by this point. tired, but okay. I was happy to be finishing my first 50K of the year. I came down the hill to the finish line, everyone cheering and my family waiting for me. I crossed, and my husband says "4th female!" I was the 4th female to cross, and 9th overall! I was 4 minutes behind the young girl that I ran with briefly who placed 3rd. I felt great! I was hoping for a top 10 finish, but 4th! I am pleased with that!  

Feeling great approaching the finish line!

The volunteers were all so great! They were congratulating me on my job well done. Grabbing me my pop :-) and offering watermelon and more. Everyone loved my Run or Die kit from INKnBURN and payed many compliments. 
I will say this is now my favourite 50K race! The views and trails were stunning! The race was well organized. And the country is beautiful! Well done Brian Gallant and team!
I would also like to congratulate everyone that ran this past weekend in Kimberley. My brother in law Erik and his sister Michelle for finishing her first Ultra! Majo did amazing and placed 2nd, running the entire 100K in his Luna sandals! And to Joanne for finishing 1st as a 100K soloist! It was so nice meeting new people and seeing their amazing talents on the trails! Well done Black Spur racers! I also need to thank fellow racers for sharing pictures on Facebook! I cannot take credit for most of these pictures, because for the first time, I think ever, I only took one picture in 50Km! :o
I look forward to seeing you all again next year! This is definitely a race worth repeating :)

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Found My Running Mojo!

Hi there Friends!!!
First, I would like to apologize for the very long break from blogging! It has been far too long, and I have missed it (and you) very much! I thought about it often, but just didn't get around to it...
That being said! I would like to announce that I feel as I have gotten my running Mojo back!!! After my injury and many physio treatments for the same, I would like to say that I finally feel good about running again! It did take a lot to get going again. Anyone that has experienced an injury might be able to relate to the pain and the depression that I went through over the past 8 months. I think we just need to be stronger (mentally and physically) to overcome it all.
I started by signing up to pace the Woody's Half Marathon. I figured that this would get me running after I finally started physio and healing. It was definitely a good start...
Next, I signed up to take my cycling designation and my group exercise courses to get my AFLCA certification. These were very busy weekends, with about 5-7 hours of workouts each day, but wow! Was it ever fun! And absolutely worth it! I feel like I learned so much. I am very excited to start teaching fitness myself :-)

Once I finished my exams and all of my courses, it made it easy to concentrate on running.

The biggest thing that helped me to get back to running and feel great about it was visiting the Rocky Mountains in Sparwood and the Crowsnest Pass the first week of July! It sure is easy to be motivated when you wake up each morning and know that you have childcare (Gramma) and mountains calling your name :-D

We arrived Sunday night and first thing Monday morning before the kids swim lessons began I arose to sun and mountains! I managed to get in 18K that day. Each day after that was any where from 6K-12K. Every moment was absolute joy and we managed to get some hiking in with the kids too!
I had not planned on running at Sinister 7 this year, just volunteering and helping cheer and crew for my brother in law Erik. I did however bring extra trail shoes just in case a team needed someone to help them out ;)
And sure enough! I found a team to run leg 2 with. This would have been an easy and fun run for me! It is my favourite leg of Sinister, and I could have ran a few extra miles to meet my training needs. The team Chicks on the Fly were able to help me out with that too, as they asked me 12 hours before the race if I could also run another Leg. I happily agreed, so long as the legs were close together. So it was decided, with less than 12 hours before the race, that I would run legs 1 and 2. Not only did have a blast running it, but it helped build my confidence again. I had not run 32.5km in quite some time, and this felt amazing! I have it! I found my running mojo!

Once I returned home on my runners high, it made it easy to keep up the training! I was able to get out on the cross country ski trails in Red Deer, as well 40 kilometres in Banff.

I feel better than I have in months and with just 3 more weeks until Deathrace I felt strong and capable. Gosh I am happy in the mountains! I miss them so much. I am so grateful that I grew up in them and now get to visit and explore frequently :)
I would like to thank my Mom and Dad for helping with the boys! I would like to thank the girls from Edmonton for allowing me to join their team! And I would like to say it is thanks to them, the mountains and a few races that helped me to find my running MOJO again! Hooray!!!
I would also like to take this opportunity to Congratulate my brother in law Erik Byman on his strong finish at Sinister!!! What an amazing accomplishment to run 100 miles! I know what I feel like to be awake for 29 hours! And he ran for almost that long, plus was awake before and after the race! Well done Erik!
Stay tuned for my Deathrace report...

Sunday, 12 April 2015

My Revolution Is A Fun Ride!

Today I had the opportunity to try out a new spin studio here in Red Deer. My Revolution is the first of its kind here in Central Alberta. This weekend was a free weekend of spin to help celebrate the opening of the studio. There were full days of spin Saturday and Sunday that were open to everyone and anyone. This weekend was all spin, but there will also be yoga there in the near future.
Upon entrance to the studio it appears bright and clean. The friendly staff were not there right away, but it was because they were all inside with clients helping to set up their bikes. Once they saw us at the entrance they were there right away, smiling, and ready to assist us.
Shoes are mandatory as the pedals are clip only. Shoes are available to rent for $1 or you can bring your own.

The studio itself has quite a few bikes (28, I think) and the staff were great at assisting us all to set up our bikes. I have known the class instructor (Linzee) for a number of years, and she did not disappoint! She is fun, full of energy, experienced and easy to understand and follow.
The spin class is not like your usual spin class. It is done in low lighting, with loud music. The "Revolution" class is set to the music and each set was different, depending on the song. One of the sets even incorporated weights.
My final opinion....
It is always great to try new things! This studio is fun and energized and I will definitely be back on a regular basis.
You can visit their website for class times and prices
Have a great ride!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Running on Snow and Ice

It is definitely well into the winter season here in Alberta! My training season officially started in January and this means that I am needing to run on snow and ice and also on the treadmill.
I have compiled a few tips to hopefully help us all survive the winter running trails.

1. If you don't own a pair now, invest in a pair of trail shoes. I already own many trail shoes as that is my main focus, but I definitely recommend investing in a pair if you plan on running in the winter at all. They provide extra traction on the snow and ice and they also are somewhat water proof. The alternative would be to buy a pair of Ice Grippers. Not my choice, but might be a more economical choice.
2. Choose fresh snow over ice or packed snow. If you have the choice, fresh snow will reduce your chance of slipping as there is more traction on freshly fallen snow. Do watch for snow covered cracks and holes.
3. Shorten your stride and keep your feet lower to the ground. You will run more efficiently and reduce the risk of falling, slipping or straining muscles.
4. Slow down. Throw your planned or usual pace out the window! When you attempt a fast or quick paced run on snow and/or ice you risk slipping, falling or worse. I like to treat my winter running as endurance training rather than distance training.
5. When in doubt, walk! If you see sections on the road, sidewalk or trail that appear icy, walk, take caution and take it easy for a moment.
6. Relax and focus on the road ahead. Keep your eye on the goal and on the physical road ahead. It is easier to avoid icy areas if you see them before your next stride.
7. Remember you might be sore in muscles you didn't even know that you had. Running on snow and ice will activate stabilizers in your legs and feet that have to work twice as hard to keep you upright.
9. Try snowshoeing. If you can run, you can snowshoe. It is a great cardio and muscle workout that might get you outside enjoying some fresh air. There are companies that rent snowshoes, but they might be a worthwhile investment.
10. If it is snowing, wear a hat with a brim. The brim will keep the snow out of your face which will make running a little easier and more enjoyable. You may need to wear a toque or fleece headband under the hat to keep your head and ears warm.
11. Dress for the temperature! If it is cold, wear extra layers! Extra socks, double gloves, and double layers on the top and bottom. If there is an extreme windchill, it may also be a good idea to cover your face in vaseline.
12. Stay inside. It may not be ideal, but if it is cold or icy, it might worth it. There is always the option of running on a treadmill or the track instead of risking frostbite or injury.
I hope you all enjoy these tips and that you stay safe and warm this winter season! Happy running!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

2014. The Year I Became an Ultra Runner.

Happy New Year Friends!!!!
I cannot believe how quickly 2014 has come and gone. This brings us to 2015 and also the time of year that I get to brag about my year :)
2014 started off with me signing up for Deathrace and also joining a running group here in Red Deer. Running with the marathon group was the best thing I did! It kept me going and got me out running even when it was uber cold and snowy.
I followed my training plan pretty accurately, and my (many pairs of) running shoes saw about 2000 kilometres.

My race season started off in March with the Hypothermic Half Marathon. When I signed up for this run I didn't actually plan on getting Hypothermia, but the temperature was -36C (-47C with the windchill).
In April I discovered yoga while running! This was an amazing experience for me. Not only was this a relaxing time for me, but also it was wonderful for stretching and for flexibility.
May was my month of crazy!!! I felt confident that if I could survive this month, then I could achieve anything. May long weekend I ran Woody's full marathon in Red Deer, AB. It POURED rain the entire 4 hours, but I finished. And I felt good :) My goal was under 4 hours, but I did it in 4:04 (the exact same as the previous year). I will break a 4 hour marathon ;)
The weekend after May long I ran my first ever solo Ultra! 50K at the Blackfoot Ultra. What an amazing feeling! Finishing 50K! I placed 36/108 and it took me 5 hours and 45 minutes.
The weekend right after Blackfoot found me in Grande Cache, AB for the Deathrace training camp. Three days to run and bike all 125km was just what I needed for training. This was an amazing weekend that gave me the mental advantage I needed.
June was my 2nd 50K race. What a beautiful weekend away in the mountains! Rundles Revenge in Canmore is held at the Canmore Nordic Center every year in June. I had high moments and low moments during this race, but nothing beat the feeling of being called up on to the podium for 3rd open female. I got to stand on the podium with one of my running heroes (Abi Moore).

You can actually see my admiration for Abi! :) I was overjoyed!
In July I had the privilege of running Sinister 7 as a team of 3. My good friend Robyn ran leg 1, I ran legs 2, 3 and 4, and my brother in law (Erik) ran legs 5, 6 and 7. I am so proud of us all for completing this phenomenal run in the mountains of the Crowsnest Pass.

Sinister 7 was also another race where all of these Ultra marathons start to become very surreal. Michelle Barton (an INKnBURN elite) ran Sin7 this year! I was not expecting her to be there, So you can imagine my excitement when my sister texted me to tell me she saw her at package pickup. It was an amazing experience to run with her on the trails and chat with her.

Ok. August. This is what my entire year of training was for! The Canadian Deathrace! 125KM in the mountains of Northern Alberta. Most of you have read my previous blog (so I won't talk too much about my experience). But I finished!!! Not only did I finish, but I crushed my goal of 22 hours. My final time was 20 hours and 3 minutes. I finished 5th overall female and 2nd in my age group. I was so proud. I am pretty much still glowing in my accomplishment.

The kids Deathrace was another super proud moment of the summer! My son (Nathan), my niece (Katie) and my nephew (Ethan) all ran the 5K kids Deathrace with Chris and Matt. Nathan and Ethan took 10 minutes off their time from last year! And Matt and Chris had ran legs 2 and 1 the day before. I ran the kids Deathrace last year. It is tough!!! :)

It took about a week for my legs to recover after Deathrace, so August and most of September saw me running shorter distances until I ran Melissa's half marathon.
Melissa's is held in Banff every year and is always a blast! This year was no different. It was a tough a half, but I managed to maintain my record of always running a half in under 2 hours :)

And finally, to end my year, was the Grizzly Ultra 50K in Canmore, AB on Thanksgiving weekend. I signed up for this run while still on my Deathrace high and I am so happy that I did! It was a super fun run and a great way to end 2014!
I would like to thank all of you for your cheering and words of encouragement over the past year! I would especially like thank my husband and children! 2014 has been amazing and tough and I could not have done it with out all of your support! Also deserving thanks are my parents, sister, in-laws, brother in laws and their families, who were with me every step of the way!
I would also like to send out special thanks to INKnBURN for allowing me to wear their amazing gear as an ambassador! It has been such a fun year and I look forward to proudly representing INKnBURN again in 2015!
I have made a lot of fun discoveries over the past year (such as Vitargo energy and recovery drink). I still have a lot to learn, and I feel as though my Ultra running is a work in progress. I still need to find the perfect shoe ;) and I will have a lot of fun finding the perfect diet to fuel my body.
2015 will be another busy and exciting year! I have big dreams and plans and I hope that you will all follow me on my journey.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Couch to 50K- Grizzly Ultra Race Report

Two months ago I was on a runners high after running Deathrace. It was during this week of recovery that I decided to sign up for a fall Ultra Marathon.
The reason I signed up for the Grizzly Ultra Marathon was to help get me past the post-runners depression. I had every intention of keeping up my kilometres. I started off right, running 1 week after Deathrace and starting back to my regular gym routine. A lot happened (or didn't happen) and this is why I call this run my couch to 50K. I ended up with a really bad cold for weeks, and weeks. I actually still have the cough. But all of this means that I was not able to train like I planned. Every time I would attempt a long run I would have to stop because I was short of breath. I would always have to stop at about 10K.
Ok, enough whining from me. Lets talk about the race...
The Grizzly Ultra Marathon is in the mountains of Canmore, AB. It is based from the Canmore Nordic Center and is 50.7km (though my GPS said 52km). The run is based on 5 legs varying in distance and difficulty. 
Leg 1 is 14km and is labeled the 3rd most difficult. It was completely non-technical and very wide double track.
Leg 2 is 12 km and is labeled the 2nd most difficult. Also not technical at all, but extremely difficult with lots of elevation change.
With view like these, how can you do just as the sign says :)

Leg 3 is rated the most difficult at 12km. This was the leg I found to be the most fun. I give it 5 grizzly claws on the fun factor. It started off quite easy and then turned into winding, technical running. This is why I love trail running! 
Leg 4 is 7km and the 2nd easiest. This was the 2nd most fun! Also single track and a lot of fun to run!
All of the signs that were related to wild life and Grizzly bears was really fun and entertaining.

Leg 5 is 5.7km and is the easiest leg. It is the shortest leg and it also means I was almost done running for the day. It seemed as though there was lots of hills, but it was all double track and still pretty fun to run. It gets 3 claws from me on the fun factor.
Overall there is 1691meters/5548feet of elevation gain. Knowing all of this ahead of time, I was not expecting much from myself. With my lack of training and my new nutrition I was trialing my standards were not set high.
To my surprise, I felt pretty amazing the entire race! I was testing out a new energy/carb drink that claims it is good fuel before exercise, during and after. There is no protein in it, so I brought along some trail mix to much on while running too. But that was all that I had while running for 6 1/2 hours, and I felt great! I felt I had lots of energy and I had no GI upset at all! Vitargo is fuel of strength and power and claims to be worlds best carbohydrate. I tried the grape flavour and it once I got used to how thick it was, it was pretty great. I honestly felt more energized whenever I drank enough of it. I look forward to trying it again in the new year on my long distance runs.

So. The Run. The first 2 legs went by smoothly. They were double track and it gave me time to get into my groove. The 3rd leg is where the winding single track began and where the fun really began. I honestly did not even notice how difficult the course was or was not after this point. I just found it a lot of fun! This was definitely my favourite race of the year! Deathrace wins, just because I have dreamed of running it for years. But for organization, scenery and overall fun factor I think the Grizzly Ultra wins for 2014.
There was one point that I feel like I should be honest about. After leg 2 my right knee started to hurt. This is something I have not experienced before. I took Tylenol immediately and I felt good the remainder of the race. This once again proves that there are 2 amazing feelings when running a 50K race. The moment the Tylenol kicks in. And the moment you cross the finish line.
I even felt strong on the last 5.7km of leg 5. My hamstrings most definitely felt tight, but nothing I could not run through. I even passed team runners that were only running this final leg. (That feels pretty good :)
I am sure you have all also seen my amazing outfit I sported during the race. How much fun! Running as a pirate! INKnBURN always makes amazing and attractive gear, but I have never run even close to this distance in the capri pants. I must be honest. I was a little nervous and had my shorts packed in my running bin. They pants were fantastic! Not only did I receive hundreds of compliments, I also had no issues with chafing, blisters or discomfort! I am so happy to be part of an amazing company that can make gear that we can be comfortable in for 10K, 50K, or 160K!


With my sista.
In retrospect, I am so happy that I ran this race. The swag was pretty great! And the kids had a blast running the kids race. It was a beautiful sunny day in the mountains. I had my entire family there supporting and cheering me on and I ran into friends that I have not seen since Deathrace and/or Sinister. I would like to run this race again next year! But I will definitely try to train a little harder over the summer after any big runs I have. I would love to break 6 hours on this amazing course ;-)
I would also like to see what my GPS says. This year it said I actually ran 52KM! :-)
The proud little INKnBURNers...

Captured by my Mom the very second I crossed the finish line.

With my Mom and Dad right after the race.