Tag Archives: coulees

Lost Soul Ultra 50km

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While this is a bit delayed (2 months….)It’s official.  I completed my first trail ultra marathon!  On Saturday, September 7th, I trekked out into the infamous Lethbridge coulees on an adventure.  I felt prepared enough, I suppose, but I didn’t really get as much trial running in during the summer as I had hoped.  However, my training and completing of Totem to Totem in July must have helped as my legs felt better than expected.  And my result was better than I could have asked for.

The last two years, the weekend of Lost Soul has been HOT and smoky.  Forest fires over in British Columbia were the culprit.  On Friday, when the 200km, 100 miler and 100km runners started it was cool, overcast, and even drizzled a bit of rain.  On Saturday morning the temperatures were comfortable and great for running.

The course is split into 6 different sections, or legs.  There are also three aide stations-Headquarters (HQ, where the start and finish are), Softball Valley and Pavan Park.  Each leg varies in length and difficulty.

I had done *just enough* training this summer that I felt confident going into the race.  I had ran on legs 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 before during training.  I was not able to attend the leg 4 training night-Leg 4 is on private land and is only opened once during the summer for runners to explore and then again on race day.  I made a general race plan that I gave to my friend Aaron, who would be my crew captain for the race.  Well, he was my only crew person to be exact—I didn’t want to have to rely on Dan with Andy, because if Andy gave him any grief during the day, they may not be at a required spot when I needed them.  Aaron’s job was to meet me at each aide station around the times I was hoping to get in, provide me with any food and beverages I needed at that time, fill up my water, and then also keep Dan in the loop.

This was the general plan I gave Aaron to follow:

LSU GOAL of SUB 7 HOURS with Time of Day to LEAVE Aide Station

Leg1 -South Loop 7km, goal of 45 min, no stop at aid station T.O.D 7:45 am

Leg 2-HQ to Softball Valley 8.4 km, goal of 55 min, 2 min stop at aide station T.O.D 8:42 am

Leg 3-Softball Valley to Pavan 9.6km, goal of 1 hour 15 min, 5 min stop at aide station T.O.D 10:02 am

Leg 4-North Loop 16.4 km, goal of 2 hours, 5 min stop at aide station T.O.D 12:07 pm

Leg 5-Pavan to Softball Valley 6.6 km, goal of 55 min, 2 min stop at aide station T.O.D 1:02 pm

Leg 6-Softball Valley to HQ 6.2 km, goal of 50 min T.O.D 1:54 pm

Total time—6 hours and 54 minutes

 

RACE TIME! (My “actual times” are found on the Aide Station breakdown results from the LSU website.  I believe these are the times I came through the aide stations)

Leg 1

I knew I couldn’t get caught up in the hype.  I took it easy and paced myself off of someone I knew.  Not really much to say about this section except I did start off fast just so I knew I wouldn’t be stuck behind people on the first narrow hill climb.

Goal time-7:45 am    Actual time-7:43 am


Leg 2

I ran though the first aide station at HQ like planned.  This is also a section I was familiar with.  I have done this section many times as it is easily accessibly from our house.  The weather was still nice and cool so I focused on not pushing too hard (since it was still comfortable) and just focusing on the goal.  I also made sure to hydrate and get some calories in, even though I wasn’t hungry or thirsty yet.

 

Goal time-8:42 am     Actual time-8:39 am


Leg 3

I met Aaron at Softball valley and got a few bites of watermelon.  I also walked a bit through the station before running onward.  I didn’t have a need for a bathroom break so I decided to keep moving.  This leg was one that I had a bit of experience on the first half of it (Gun range hill, Ryan’s hill) but not as much experience in the second half as you head to Pavan.  As I was getting further along on this leg I was definitely starting to feel hungry and a bit tired.  I was also looking forward to getting to Pavan so I could go to the bathroom before hitting the North Loop.

 

Goal time-10:02 am    Actual time-9:53 am


Leg 4

This is where I will definitely need to find room for improvement.  The fact that I had no first-hand visual of what this route looked like was a mental struggle for me.  It was also starting to get warm and we were pretty spaced out on the course.  I felt very alone on this long segment.  I did not realize how many late-in-the-first-half of this loop coulee climbs there would be.  I think there were at least 3 that I didn’t expect to happen.  My stomach was bothering me and I was crabby.  I really thought I would be falling being my goal here and I was starting to come to terms with it.  As soon as I realized we had crossed the bridge to the other side of the lake and were heading BACK to Pavan, my spirits were lifted.   I also found a fellow runner who was training for NYC Marathon with us on the weekends, Steven, and we ran a bit together which was nice.  It was also a huge mental boost coming in to the aide station and seeing Dan with Andy.

 

Goal time-12:07 pm    Actual time-12:05pm


Leg 5

Apparently, I looked like hell when I got in to the aide station.  I think I spent a solid 10 minutes or more going to the bathroom, getting ice, drinking fluids and eating watermelon.  I couldn’t stomach any other solid foods other than watermelon or gummi chews.  I got my body heat cooled down and headed out.  With this being a shorter leg than the last, I knew I could focus on the fact that I wouldn’t be out there as long as the North Loop.  And, the first part of this loop had shade!  I tackled it the best I could, and as I head in to Softball Valley for the final time, I was feeling a burst of energy!

 

Goal time-1:02 pm    Actual time-1:07pm


Leg 6

I didn’t even stop for Aaron at Softball Valley.  All I did was ditch my hydration backpack and I didn’t even take the water belt.  I knew I could get this last leg done efficiently.  It is the easiest leg on its own, but after doing 5 prior it could still be a challenge.  I had a goal and I was going to reach it.  I had planned on trying to do this leg in 50 minutes….I ended up crushing it in 41 minutes!

 

Goal time-1:54 pm    Actual time-1:48 pm


 

I BEAT MY GOAL!  Holy shit it was a ride.  And to be honest, as I finished, I felt like I could have run another 5 km.  With the strategy of ultra running being a mix of running on flats and downhills, power walking on inclines, my body actually felt incredibly good.  Aaron was there at the finish line with my single tall-boy can of Blindman Longshadows IPA on ice.  Dan and Andy were not there immediately because they didn’t think I’d be there by that time!

I ended up finding out that I placed 3rd in my age group!  I knew it would be close, but I did in fact place 3rd in the 18-39 female category with an official time of 6:48.11.  I placed 3/17 in my age group, 5/61 women and then 15/137 overall.  The coveted LOST SOUL ROCKS were awarded to all finishers this year, as it was a special 20th anniversary year.  However, I earned a special age group rock which I received sand-blasted about a month later.  This means so much to not only finish this bucket-list race, but also earn an age group award!

 

Will I do this again?  YES!  Now that I have a baseline, I would love to try and beat my personal best.  I think with more trail training and experience, I could definitely break 6:40, and maybe head down to the low 6:30s.  I have a lot to learn on the trails, especially work on my downhill descents, fueling, stomach issues, and just overall trail experience.  I don’t know if I will be out there in 2021, as a lot revolves on a possible 2nd foot surgery, but I will be back!

Volunteering at the Lost Soul Ultra

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Copyright LostSoulUltra.com

For all the races I have ran in over the years, I had yet to volunteer at an event.  Until now.  Each September, Lethbridge is home to a well-known ultra marathon event-The Lost Soul UltraMarathon.  This year’s event fell on the weekend of September 9-10th, and offered three different race distances: The 50km, 100km and 100 mile.  The race winds it way through the challenging Lethbridge coulees, taking you way up on ridges that overlook the river valley, and then down along the river bottom.  The course is not just full of basic climbs and descents—it is filled with grueling hills, single track madness and rough terrain.  It is not for the faint at heart!

I signed up earlier this summer for two volunteer shifts.  I would be volunteering at the headquarters, which was located behind Lethbridge Lodge.  This is the starting and finishing point for all events, plus a transition area for different legs of the 100km and 100mile.  I would be working from 4-8 pm on the Friday evening and then a few hours later, the graveyard shift of midnight-4 am.

The Lost Soul committee put on a nice volunteer BBQ a few weeks before the event on August 29th.  We got to mingle with other volunteers, receive our shirts (I was able to get a long sleeve shirt since I signed up for two shifts) and basic information.  On race day, I reported to headquarters and found Lorelei, our station captain.  The only runners on the course at this time were 100km and 100 mile runners, as their event began at 8 am that Friday.

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Finish area by headquarters

The timing of my first shift ended up being a crazy time at headquarters.  Lots of runners from both distances were coming through transition area.  As a volunteer, we were to help these runners at the aid station.  Whether it was fetching their drop bag (all runners could leave drop bags or boxes with their race number at each aid station) or finding them food or water in the aid tent.  The aid tent was unreal-at my first shift, there was a gentleman manning the grill making bacon.  Lots and lots of bacon!  The runners needed their salt!!!  He later on made burgers for the runners.  There was hot chicken broth, various fruit, sugary candy, chips, coffee, water, pop, and a whole lot more.  Runners had to check in with the timers as their entered the aid station, and could stay as long as they needed.  We then would put their drop bags back and send them off.

I was able to see quite a few runners that I knew during this time as they came through the aid station.  It was great to cheer on friends and people I knew from marathon club.  During my first shift I even got to see the 100km lead runner crush the course record and finish in around 10 hours and 55 minutes!  My friend Bob was helping crew him, so I got to hang out with Bob and his daughter Abby as they waited to see him come in and take the title.

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Shift 1 done!  Also now sporting my Lost Soul buff I received for volunteering

I headed out to dinner with a friend after shift 1, tried to take a nap (but failed) and came back at midnight.  It was a lot quieter at headquarters then, as far as runners go.  The runners have gotten more spread out, and the amount of runners coming in to the aid station at the same time had dispersed.  But that doesn’t mean that headquarters was boring.  There were lights and music, lots of happy volunteers to keep the runners’ morale up, and more food being served.  The later shift was a lot of fun because most of the 100km runners that came through were finishing.  Some of these people were seasoned vets, and some it was their first 100km race.  My friend Aimee came in well under her goal finishing her first 100km race!  She ran the race with her Dad, who is a veteran of these types of events!  I also got to meet a lady also named Andrea, who was also from Wisconsin!  She came all this way to do this race!  I had brought some Sprecher Soda with me to the midnight shift, so I gave her a taste of home by handing her a Puma Kola when she was finished.

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Aid Station at Headquarters between midnight and 4 am

 

Volunteering was an awesome experience, and I wish I had done it sooner.  It felt great to give back to the local Lethbridge running community, as it has already given so much to me.  Honestly, running races in Lethbridge and finding Marathon Club at Runners Soul really has kept me sane as I transitioned from a Wisconsinite to a Canadian.  I have met lifelong friends.  I have been able to reach goals I never thought would be possible. Everyone who runs in races should try to volunteer at a local race to pay it forward.  I am happy I did and I know I will again.

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Lost Soul Ultra is a premier ultra marathon ran in Lethbridge, Alberta, each fall.  Runners from all over North America make it out to western Canada to tackle our beautiful coulees and river valley.  For more information about this prestigious event, go to Lost Soul Ultra

Moonlight Run 2016

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On Saturday, March 19th, I participated in my fifth Moonlight Run 10km.  Moonlight Run, as I have written about before, is the marquee running event in Lethbridge.  This year, they maxed out on participants in the 10km and 6km, with 2800 people registered!  I first did this race in 2011.  My race times in the 10 km from my first four years were: (OA=Overall, G=Gender, AG=Age Group).

2011: 51:43—148/607 OA, 52/350 G, 9/61 AG (25-29 y/o)

2012: 54:25—210/587 OA, 74/350 G, 11/47 AG (25-29 y/o)

2014: 47:27—45/540 OA, 4/305 G, 2/42 AG  (25-29 y/o)

2015: 43:37—34/526 OA, 5/292 G, 1/55 AG  (30-34 y/o)

What would this year bring?

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As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I am having trouble with my foot.  This race would be the true test to see how it held up, as while it is only a 10 km distance, it involves a vertical drop of about 204 feet in the first mile.  Then, you are in the dark river bottom winding around sharp curves and more gain/loss of elevation.  And the final mile includes a gain in elevation of 267 feet back to the downtown core of Lethbridge.  It is quite the course indeed!

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Flat Andrea all set!

I was hoping to run something close to my time last year, as that was when I was in top shape and feeling strong.  With this being a night race, I did my packet pickup on the Friday and was able to sleep in Saturday.  Sleeping in is great.  Waiting around the rest of the day for the race is not.  I was so antsy that Dan and I headed to the race start area around 7:00 PM.  Getting their early enough allowed for a great parking spot, and I had time to roam around and chat with people.  The student volunteers were our WCHS kids (where I work) so being able to see them and have them as supporters on the course helps a lot.  A familiar face always helps!

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Husband & Wife pre-race

The race is a self-seeded event, so I positioned myself about three rows deep from the start.  I knew I wanted to be careful the first mile, as last year I went out very fast.  Last year, mile 1 was a 5:32.  This year, it was a 5:47.  (Remember, we are barreling down hill! The +/- differential here was +15 seconds this year.

I felt strong in the river bottom, even though my throat was dry.  At about mile one and a half, a lady I didn’t recognize passed me.  I knew at that point I was 3rd female, so I wanted to keep it that way, and maybe gain ground.  After doing the out and back down the nature centre trail to Tollestrup, it gets pretty lonely.  With the curves of the trails and the trees blocking the sky, you can’t really see much.  And, I don’t want to look behind myself much because that would just slow me down.  Miles 2-5 in 2015 were 6:35, 7:01, 7:16, and 7:27.  I fared better in this segment this year, running 6:33, 7:00, 7:07, 7:12.  The +/- differential was -2, -1, -9, -15.  I was right now ahead of my 2015 time by 12 seconds!  

Mile 6 is the kicker.  It’s the hill.  That damn hill.  By the time I got to the base of hte hill. I really couldn’t see anyone directly within striking distance.  My legs were feeling heavy, my mouth was dry, and my glutes hurt.  I started trying to catch up to a gentleman ahead of me, but seeing him start to walk in parts didn’t motivate me much to push.  It honestly made me want to start walking myself.  While I didn’t walk at all, I knew I was going slower than in 2015.  I did see the 2nd place woman in the distance, and while I didn’t think I could catch her, I tried to keep an eye on her as motivation.  Before I knew it, I was past the dreaded switchbacks and back onto the main road.  Mile 6 was 8:36 in 2015, and a slower 8:48 in 2016.  12 seconds slower.  So, even though I didn’t know it at the time…I was at the exact same race tine in 2016 as I was in 2015 when I hit mile 6.  

I had no clue how far any women were behind me.  I didn’t look back.  I pushed my tired legs the best I could down the final stretch and into the finish line, with a chip time of 44:10.I was slower than the year previous, and my GPS watch said I had ran a 6.25 mile race.  In 2015 I somehow managed to run the tangents a bit better or pay attention to the curves more, because I had ran a 6.21 mile race then.  Regardless, I was ecstatic.  Why?  While this wasn’t my best 10km time, or my best Moonlight time, it was my best Moonlight finish—3rd place female!

Post race at Moonlight brought lots of pictures, eating and chatting with friends.  Dan finished sooner than I had expected, finishing in a 54:37, a 9 minute improvement from last year!  He did no training, so please don’t give him applause 😉  We both waited for awards, got more pictures, and off we went.  Another successful Moonlight in the book!

So how were my stats in this race compared to 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015?

44:10—28/525 OA, 3/289 G, 1/48 AG (30-34 y/o)

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that any day of the week!  Can’t wait until next year!

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Moonlight Run 10km 2016 Complete!

Moonlight Run 2015 – 10km Race Recap

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The Moonlight Run in Lethbridge, Alberta, is the largest running event of the year.  They offer a 6km and a 10km event-the 6 km had  1739 participants and the 10km had 526.  The unique factor about the race is in its name—it starts at 8 pm at night and you run down in the river bottom with the light of the moon marking your path.  This year would be my fourth time running the Moonlight Run, and I had set some high expectations for myself.  Ultimately, I wanted to beat my previous Moonlight Run time from last year (47:27) but I also wanted to place well.  While I wasn’t training specifically for a 10km, as I am now right in the middle of my Vancouver Marathon training, I had been getting in lots of speed work and was feeling strong.  Only time would tell.




I was nervous and anxious all day.  That’s part of the trouble with a night race—-you have all day to think about it and get worked up!  I had my clothes picked out even the night before, and I was getting antsy by 6 pm.  I even attempted a nap earlier, but I just laid in bed and played on my phone.  My husband was also going to participate in the run (he said this was to show his support for my craziness) and I somehow managed to get him to leave the house around 7 pm.  We live a whopping five minutes from the race start by car, so we got there real early (but at least had a great parking spot!). I wanted time to calm my nerves—I would find some of my running friends from marathon club and chat, and I would also find students and teachers from my school who were at the event.  Our music department volunteers every year at Moonlight Run and the kids do a great job at the tasks they are given!  I also needed to find the kids who had signed up to run, as while I was nervous and anxious, I knew they would be even more so!

I eventually did my warmup and got settled into the starting corral.  It was self-seeded so I wormed my way up to the second row of people…right near the front.  I knew I wanted to head out strong and by being at the front this would help out.  Plus, your gun time would be used for placings, so I wanted to be near the starting mat.




After the national anthems, the horn went off, and the 10km had begun.  The first 1/4 of a mile was a blur, as I just had my focus finding my pace and finding a space in the pack.  I knew I was going out pretty fast, plus this first mile stretch was all downhill.  Hopefully this wouldn’t come back to bite me.
As we headed down Wendy’s hill, the firefighter pipe and drum band was playing.  This is an awesome thing to witness as you are running down into the dark river bottom!  At the bottom of Wendy’s hill, after a loss of 203 feet in elevation (according to my Nike app) I hit mile one.  I ran my first mile in 5:32….what the F$&K?!?   Ok, granted, this was downhill….but this is the FASTEST I have EVER ran a mile in my entire damn life.  My high school best in the 1600 m (mile run) was a 5:47.  Yes, that was on a flat track….but still.  Holy crap.   I was screwed.  At what point in this race would I fall apart?  
The next mile heads out towards the bridge and to Tollestrup construction.  As I headed out north before the turnaround, it was very easy to find your spacing in the pack.  No one was next to me, you had room to move your elbows, and the darkness didn’t really take a toll, as there was lots of open space and the sky was clear.  Mile 2 was hit partway down this path and I ran it in a still ridiculously fast 6:35.   The fact I was able to keep up a faster than normal pace after barreling down a deep incline was a shocker to me.  There had been a small elevation loss of 66 feet during this stretch, so negligible compared to the first mile.  At the turnaround, it got to be a little tougher as now you aren’t running alone on the path.  All the other runners in the 10km who are behind you are heading north as you head back south towards the bridge.  Many have headlamps that are shining bright in your eyes, so you must look down at the ground.  And some people aren’t aware of the runners already heading back so they take up 3 people across the path.  I was sure my time would slow greatly at this point, expecting somewhere in the 7:30s.  I managed to get to mile 3 in 7:01.  I was nearly halfway done and already had a personal record breaking 5km time.  I needed to keep it together.
Since mile 1 I had been placed as the 5th female.  I knew this for sure as I counted the women ahead of me at the turnaround.  During mile 4 I had wanted to gain some ground on runner 4.  This proved to be tricky, as while I am knowledgable of this part of the course, it happens to get quite darker in this section.  The tree coverage is greater, it is harder to see the sky, and the path has many “gentle” rolls in it.  I made some ground on about three or four men, passing them while no one passed me, so that felt good.  We were heading toward Whoop Up Drive basically blind, and I was trying to move as quick as I could without freaking out in the dark.  By getting to Whoop Up there would be lights on the bridge to illuminate the sky above.  I ran mile 4 in 7:16.  
Mile 5 was when I knew I had to keep it together.  While the hill would be my last battle, this would be where I could either keep it up, or lose it all.  My body was feeling great, so I knew this would be a mental battle.  I moved on to the next turn around, near the water treatment plant, where then the runners looped back on a gravel/paved road section.  This is relatively well lit and would take us to Fort Whoop Up, and the path we needed to take back to the finish.  My feet start to feel heavy as I am on this gravel/paved/stone road.  I needed to keep it moving but was starting to get worried.  I knew I was on pace to get a personal best, and I was scared to lose that.  I was running with no one immediately in front of me or beside me…but then I heard a familiar trot behind me.  It was my friend Glenn from run club.  Glenn has a very distinctive cadence in his run, and Glenn, I mean this kindly, I think it is because you are so short that it is so obvious.  I mean, I am short too so I am sure my plodding is distinctive.  But I knew it was Glenn coming up behind me as we neared mile 5, and this gave me a huge push.  Glenn is a seasoned runner, a veteran, who qualified and ran in the Boston Marathon last year.  He works hard and trains hard.  We mumbled a couple things to each other as we approached mile 5 (which I ran in 7:27). I knew I needed to “race” Glenn up this mother of a hill for the last mile in order to achieve my goal of a personal best.
Having someone who you know is faster than you at a 10km race run next to you is some motivation, let me tell you.  This last hill is adjacent to the steady main road we headed down during mile 1.  The 10km runners got to run up this wonky, almost-too-cruel bike path that has so many pitches and switch backs that if you saw it in daylight you would laugh.  Every time we hit an incline, I powered my short-ass legs up, passing Glenn each time.  I think I pissed him off each time, because then he would pass me when it would level out.  This cat and mouse game went on for about three or four cycles as we climbed up this beast.  Eventually, Glenn surpassed me once we got to the top and away from the steep inclines, and off he went. I powered all the way up and made it to mile 6, which was right next to Galt Gardens, in 8:36.  Not too shabby for doing a 268 feet climb in elevation.  The 10km runners were now side by side with 6km runners as we headed to the finish.  I again got into a runners’ haze and didn’t pay attention to any faces around me.  I rounded that last corner and finish in my personal record smashing time of 43:47.45…beating my Moonlight personal best by nearly 4 minutes 30 seconds, and beating my regular 10km best by 1 minute 50 seconds!

I had never been able to catch any of the women ahead of me.  I closed in on number 4, but 1-3 were way too far ahead.  While my time this year would have gotten me 1st for women in this same event last year, that was not the case.  I placed 5th out of 292 women and 34th out of 526 overall participants in the Moonlight Run 10km 2015.  And while I could have been upset about that, I was nothing but ecstatic.  I was mainly in a state of shock when I finished, as I couldn’t believe how I ran that time.  I then found out shortly thereafter I placed 1st out of 55 in the 30-34 female age category!  An age category first place in this big of a race is a huge accomplishment for myself! 






I found some of my runner friends after finishing and we were are able to congratulate each other on our accomplishments.  I wasn’t the only one who hit a personal best, as Bob and Jeremy also achieved ones of their own.  Of the 8 of us who are part of our Waterton to Glacier Relay Team (100 mile relay from Cardston, Alberta, to East Glacier, Montana) 7 of us were at the race that evening.  Julia did not run but was an awesome volunteer yelling support as we reached the top of the hill.  The other six of us ran the 10km and 5 of us placed in our age categories.  Also placing in their age groupings were two of my students, who medaled in the 6km event!  They placed 4th and 5th in the 16-19 female group!




Moonlight Run was everything I had hoped it would be and more.  Will I run an epic personal best every year at Moonlight?  Probably not.  But will the race itself keep being as memorable of an evening?  I definitely think so.  Moonlight Run is a top-notch running event in my “new” hometown, and I look forward to it every year.  This was the 28th running of the Moonlight Run and I can only hope that I am able to run in the next 28 Moonlight Runs! 

The Next Big Three Weekends!

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Sorry that I have been absent the last bit. I have not had a race since my Stampede Road Race in July, and after that event I went and enjoyed some vacations, like every teacher should! I went to Walt Disney World with my mom, and I just returned from an epic trip with my husband, to St. John’s, Newfoundland! We had never gone out that Far East in North America before, and holy cow—-it was beautiful. Great people, great food, great music, and as you can see below-great wildlife! Photo credits below go to Richard S. who managed to capture the Humpback Whale breech while we were on our DeeJay Charters boat tour! I didn’t have my camera ready!

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Currently, I am on a “stay-cation” but have the company of my best friend Ali. We have been friends since 1991! She now lives in California, and this is her first visit here. A lot of people have asked her “Why the hell did you come to Lethbridge?!” Well, she came to see me…I just happen to live in a random place. But we have been going on some adventures since her arrival on Sunday. Some brewery detours in Montana, hiking in the coulees, a little tubing down the Oldman River yesterday, and tomorrow we will be heading to Crowsnest Pass and the British Columbia border.

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But the big adventure this week is the Calgary Spartan Sprint. It is a 5 km obstacle course race held in Calgary for now the third year! Ali has never done a Spartan Race, and she is also a beginner runner. I can quote Ali in saying she “hates running.” However, she has been doing Crossfit for over a year. (shoutout to Crossfit 310!). Ali has an awesome coach, Kris, at her Crossfit gym that has built running into her workouts in preparation for this Spartan Race, and also for the longer distance she will be doing at the end of the month.

On Sunday, August 24th, I have my big Edmonton Full Marathon. I will be running side-by-side with my husband’s cousin Erin as we attempt the elusive Boston Qualifying time. My knee has been acting up some in the past week, and I’m trying to keep an eye on it and not push myself too much before the race. This course is fast, flat, and easy to navigate. The elevation in Edmonton is a lot lower than Lethbridge, so that gives me extra confidence.

I mentioned Ali has a longer race distance later this month. I mentioned in earlier posts that I convinced (well, forced) her to sign up for the Disneyland 10km. We signed her up, and immediately she knew she wasn’t going into it half-ass. She started her running in around March, then followed a program beginning in April. She has worked her way up to 4 miles, which is fantastic because last year at this time she could only do 200 metres and want to collapse (her words!)

We will be doing the 10 km together, and enjoying every second of it! The nice thing about the route is the first 2 miles are on roads outside of huge park, and the last 4 miles are all around the Disneyland Resort. I will be participating in the Disneyland Half the next day, thus completing the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, and earning my Coast to Coast medal, since I will have completed a RunDisney half marathon distance or longer on both the west & east coast in one calendar year!

I will be writing race recaps following all three of these weekends, and you can bet there will be lots of pictures included! Thanks for continuing to read and follow my blog—-I had originally intended it to just last until after my Dopey Challenge in January 2014, however, I found I really do enjoy writing and sharing my experiences with running. If you have any suggestions for me, please don’t hesitate to write in the comments below or send me an email!

“…Tell us Where You’re From….”

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This is a post about identity. Who we are. Who we think we relate to. And it may change over time. And my post may not have a closure. It may loosely tie to racing. It may loosely tie to my dad. Really, it is just a pondering of thought I have had since Saturday…

When I fill out race registrations, I have to put in my address and phone number. So I naturally enter Lethbridge, Alberta, as this is where I live. I am now coming up on my 5-year Canada anniversary (December 2nd) and it is still crazy to think of this whirlwind I have been a part of. My dad was born In Quebec City….moved to Beloit, Wisconsin around age 2. Lived in Switzerland. Back to Wisconsin. Raised a family. Daughter moves to Alberta. What the……?!? Anyway, while entering an address in a race entry form may not seem to be a big deal, the first time it really sank in for me was this April, when I ran the Waukesha Trailbreaker Half back in Wisconsin….but I was entered as a Canadian.
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This past weekend I ran a 10 km in Lethbridge, Alberta. I am now calling this area “my turf” and felt strong going into it. I am use to the weather, the elevation, the surroundings, and the trails. With all that on my side, I rocked out a PR of 45:37 and got 1st overall out of 55 females. Erin from Runners Soul also mentioned me on the microphone before the race as a “strong local runner to watch for in the women’s 10km.”

So I am a Milwaukee girl, born and raised, who lived there for 24 years….and now I am 5 years into being in Lethbridge and am finding my place. But I am still struggling with that question “where are you from?”
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Anytime anyone asks me this in a basic conversation, I say “Well, I am from Wisconsin, but live in Lethbridge, Alberta.” If someone within the province asks me where I am from, like when I went to Banff with my mom this summer, I answer straight with “I am from Lethbridge!” But then they question me because of my ridiculously heavy Milwaukee-esqe accent (trust me, it’s a thing), knowing I am not a since-birth Canadian.

And when I was interviewed by RunDisney last week, they asked me to say my full name and say where I am from (presumably to look me up before adding me into the final cut). I said my whole name and simply said “Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada”
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I know there’s tons of people out there who have been from everywhere under the sun….maybe born overseas on a base, then back to the US, moved around every couple years….so they may be laughing at my post and think I am an idiot since I am FROM one distinctive place but now LIVE in another. But the thing is….Lethbridge is my home and future. Milwaukee is my hometown and my roots will always be firmly planted there. I will always have a ridiculous connection to Milwaukee….it has made me who I am today. Lethbridge is just beginning to experience what Milwaukee created.

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Race Recap-Coulee Cactus Crawl, AKA the Hardest Race I Have Ever Ran

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June 1st marked the fourth race weekend in a row, with myself previously doing the Spartan Sprint, Woody’s RV Half Marathon and the Calgary Half Marathon.. So naturally, I thought it to be a good idea and run a 20+ mile trail race in the coulees of Lethbridge. Yes, I did know what I was getting myself into—-the coulees and landscape of Lethbridge is extremely cross country and challenging. But I figured I was up for the challenge.

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I went into this race telling myself this was for completion, not time.. I was fine with that, as looking at previous years’ results, there were many DNF (did not finish) results in the solo categories. You can enter this race as a solo runner, or as part of a relay team with up to five runners. The way the five legs were set up created a few repeat areas in the course, as relay transition areas were located on flat areas at the top of the coulees. These spots also had water, which I used to refill my hydration belt, and a good resting point, which I took advantage of for a few minutes each time I reach a peak.

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The weather in Lethbridge had been questionable all week and inconsistent—some days reached 80 degrees, and other evenings we would have a hailstorm. The weather at the high noon start time of the Coulee Cactus Crawl was in the mid 60s, reaching the 70s, with very little cloud coverage. For a short 5k, this would have been fantastic. The cloud coverage didn’t show until about 3.5 hours in. But, regardless, the race started at Fort Whoop Up at noon, and away went all the first relay members and all the crazy solo runners.

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I felt pretty strong the first leg and ran all the hills, until I hit the incredibly cruel climb to the college parking lot where relay exchange #1 was located. No exaggeration, but this incline was about 50 meters at a 75 degree angle of elevation.. Once to the top, you checked in with the volunteers, who recorded your time (no chip timing). People in the exchange area then realized how much of an idiot I was, because my bib had a black number that was between 1-30. All relay e members had red numbers greater than 100. Runner #1 checked her sanity level, got some water, and barreled down the hill to continue on leg 2.

The long and short of the race was that as I moved on, I knew for my own survival and wellness, I would need to walk up any steep-grade hills as I felt necessary. Some I could run the first time I met them, and then later, I would have to power walk. Yes, I had done some of these “obstacles” before on marathon club runs (the wooden stairs by the Sugar Bowl are a bitch) but there were some very narrow, unstable areas that I had to be cautious around, mainly because I wasn’t use to these extremes. I did see some fantastic areas of south Lethbridge that I did not know existed. I plan on using these trails in the future with my husband and dog, as the views were gorgeous and breathtaking. I have a new appreciation for individuals who call them selves trail runners, as it takes a different level of athleticism to complete this type of course competitively!

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By the time I finished, 4 hours 56 minutes and some odd seconds had passed. The course totaled 21.5 miles, as told by my Nike+ GPS watch. If you are curious of the route, elevation, and craziness of this route, click the link below, as it shows my turtle-like paces through the terrain:

Andrea’s Coulee Cactus Crawl Run-2013

I ended up not finishing last, which was fantastic. I was one of four women to run the race solo. I even got a medal for finishing 2nd in women under 40! (There was only two of us, but hey, I will take what I can get!)

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This race was a great experience, and I am happy I registered and mustered on through.. I got to see parts of the city I live in that I never knew existed. I gained a new appreciation for runners who partake in trail running and ultra-race events. I also want to thank Runners Soul for putting on this fantastic event, as the concept of being able to do a relay race through this beautiful landscape is fantastic. Also, the chance to run it as a solo idiot is fantastic too 🙂

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