Tag Archives: trail running

Taber Tuff 12.5km

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Saturday, July 13th, marked the inaugural “Taber Tuff” trail race. Taber is a small rural community east of Lethbridge, about 45 minutes away. In my mind, all I think about when I hear Taber is CORN. I don’t think of much else at all. And I definitely don’t think of a tough trail race. So I was very interested to see what this would be like.

The race was held at the Municipal campground in Taber. Once you get into town, you make a turn and head down the road for about 3km. What you end up at looks completely different than the town of Taber itself. The campground has lots of trees and is nestled along the water. The coulees that we are used to in Lethbridge, while not the same here, are prominently located past the trees. It was a nice surprise to see this landscape.

The race had two distances-12.5 km and 25 km. I was registered for the 12.5 km. If you chose to do the 25 km, you did the 12.5 km loop twice. The 25 km runners started at 8 am and the 12.5 km runners started at 8:15 am. This allowed for runners to get pretty spaced out which made it easier if you came up to any 25km runners and needed to pass on the single track.

It was already a very warm morning when the race started and I was happy that I was only going to be doing the 12.5 km. Heat is not my friend. Once they started the 12.5 km, I got myself set as lead female. I had no idea if I was going too fast or too slow. I was just going to try and listen to my body and see how it all played out.

The first 5 km were what I would call “deceiving.” What I mean by that is that it was pretty easy as far as trails go. You start by entering into some wooded area and then get some basic rolling coulee hills. Nothing tricky. This was going to be easy…..

Then it all started to change. In my opinion, the challenging parts of this course were between miles 4-6. This was where there were often holes in the ground or sketchy single wide paths on the face of a coulee. There was loose sand and lots of areas with erosion. For me, being someone scared of heights, I was freaked in some spots. I had to really slow my roll in order to comfortably tackle some of these areas.

I also hit some GI issues around mile 4. I honestly have no clue why my stomach got upset, as I was actually more careful than usual leading up to this race with my food and drink intake. I totally felt ready to go in the morning, and didn’t do anything weird with my fueling routine. I am putting this problem I experienced due to the heat but I also noticed that if I really coasted my way downhill fast, the jarring motion in my stomach seemed to bother me and that’s when it got more upset. These are all good things to find out now at a small 12.5 km race so I can work on them in preparation for Lost Soul 50km. Many times I had to literally stop and take some deep breaths before continuing on with my run.

You looped back to the campground at 10km and followed some cones through the campground. Lots of little kids were sitting in their camping chairs cheering us on. The last big climb was a paved path with then a nice descent back to the rivers’ edge, a stroll through some shaded area, and back at the campground base area.

I ran in a time of 1:33.36 and finished 1st female and 3rd overall. There were 27 finishers in the 12.5km race. I think if I was able to do this same course again on a different day I could break 1:30. But, between my stomach issues, the unexpected sandy and scary areas that I am not used to, and my upcoming marathon this Saturday, I couldn’t push as much I know I could have. I am pretty proud of my time though, because I did step out of my comfort zone a bit with this race. Every trail race I do now is a step in the right direction. It’s a new way of thinking and running for me and it’s going to take time to get used to. Maybe I’ll eventually get used to the heights?!?!?!….

Oh yeah. I also won a sweet Igloo cooler in a draw prize! And we needed a new one !

The Lone Wolf-Team “Lammers & the DILF”

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Father’s Day weekend 2019 was spent camping in beautiful Fernie, British Columbia….and running the trails of beautiful Fernie, British Columbia! The Lone Wolf, put on by Stag Leap Running. This was the second year the event was put on, with last year being the inaugural running. We did not participate in the inaugural event, so I cannot speak to how this was compared to 2018. But I will say that overall I was impressed!

These type of trail events seem to be a trending thing: last man standing style. For The Lone Wolf, you could either enter as a soloist or as a team of two. The idea is that every hour, on the hour, runners leave “The Den” to attack an approximately 4 mile loop. On the odd number laps, you would run clockwise and then on the even number laps, you run counterclockwise. You must finish your lap in the one hour, otherwise you are eliminated. It’s up to you or your team how much you want to push it on each lap. Run balls out on your laps, you’ll have more time to rest in between. Run slow and steady, and you won’t have much time before the next lap starts. Also, if you are a team you can decide how you want to split up the laps between you and your partner (more on that later).

Race photos from Raven Eye Photography

Before getting into actual race day, I want to say that if you are into camping, booking a campsite at the Mount Fernie Provincial Park campground is ideal for this race weekend. We are relatively new to the camping world, but I researched and found out I could book a campsite in mid-February. On the day booking opened, I had full selection of campsites. I chose one that I thought would be close to the Nordic Centre that the race would be located at. We came to find out that we were about 1/4 of a mile away! This was awesome for us, as we would be at the race with our 20 month old son and we knew we’d have to be going back and forth for various things. For example, in the evening once my husband was done doing his laps and threw in the towel, he took Andy back to the campsite to feed him dinner, and then he was able to return to the race site before I finished! There are lots of other hotel accommodations very close to the race, but I would strongly recommend booking early so you get exactly what you want.

Happy camper!

Race package pickup was at a hotel near downtown Fernie. It was a quick pickup, with waivers to be signed. We got our race bibs and our shirts. I really love the shirt colour and design, and they are also very soft. We headed back to the campground and were able to get a really good night’s sleep-Andy slept like a champ! With the race not starting until 10 am, we didn’t have to worry about getting up super early. If you are staying at a hotel or Airbnb you would want to get there relatively early and/or carpool as parking is at a premium. We had our friend Nick come to our campsite at 9 am and he parked his car there.

The race staging area is very large and there’s lots of spots to set up your own personal area. We had a group of us from Lethbridge put a couple of those four-sided shade tents together and had camping chairs, coolers and Andy’s pack-n-play set up in the shade. If you have a group that wants to be near one another, also get there early enough to make sure that happens.

So on to the race. Dan and I chose to do this as a relay because 1.) we aren’t skilled enough trail runners to want to try it solo and 2.) we needed to alternate who was watching Andy during each lap. Since we could choose who ran on which laps, I decided to start us off and always run the odd number laps. I can’t even remember who I paced myself off of the first lap, but I ran a conservative 51:10. What I learned during the first lap is that it was approximately 1/2 a mile from “The Den” to the base of the mountain. Then you’d get up the mountain to its peak at just over mile 2. It was then a descent all the way back to start/finish area. Knowing how long it took to get up to the peak would be helpful in later laps, because you could then know if you were going too fast or too slow.

As Dan and I alternated our laps, there was a great selection of food and beverages for the runners. Funny thing is that these items had to be relocated at one point because when I was out on lap 7 a fucking bear came right up to the finish line. It would not move away, even with bear spray and noise. The parks officials came and got it out of the way but holy shit, had I been at the group area and this occurred I would have told Dan we were quitting and done!

Racers could drop out at whatever point they chose. Obviously, soloists generally stopped before teams. The rule was that whenever the final soloist stopped, the teams must stop too. I don’t know what our true tema goal was, but since I’m competitive with my husband I knew I just wanted to run more laps than him (stupid, I know). Dan had had some back issues the week prior so he wasn’t even sure leading up to the race how he was going to feel. After his fourth lap (lap 8) he said he was done. This was at 6 pm. It worked out pretty well because I went out on lap 9 and Dan took Andy to the campsite. I was running with our friend Dylan, who was actually very injured, but it was comical at least. He didn’t want his team to quit yet. When we came after lap 9, Dan wasn’t back yet. Our friends said he was fully expecting me to run another lap. Also, had I stopped at that point I would have felt obligated to go back to the campsite and help out, when really all I would want to do it sit down and have my free finisher beer. So, I had some snacks and headed out for lap 10 with Dylan’s teammate Mark.

With lap 10 finishing at just before 8 pm, I felt like the smart thing to do was stop. I was STARVING and even though my legs felt fine for a lap 11, I knew I would probably pass out from hunger. Had I been able to get out there for lap 11, we could have placed 3rd in our mixed team category. In the end, there were 4 teams that completed 10 laps. They then calculate who ran the 10 laps the fastest to determine placings. We were the slowest of the 10 lap teams, and in the end we placed 6 out of 9 in the Mixed Under 40. The team that won were a couple who sat right near our tent. The husband was running 4 laps and then the wife would run 1. He was training for the Canadian Death Race and yeah, I think he could have lasted all night if the soloists didn’t stop.

We will definitely be back next year. It was so much fun and a really unique experience. I do have to give a special thanks to all our friends from Lethbridge who were there. They really stepped it up and helped out with Andy quite a bit. Andy is so used to everyone from all the other events we do in town and we are so lucky to have these friends who are like family. The race weekend wouldn’t have been possible had they not been there with us.

Coulee Cactus Crawl

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I ran this as an unexperienced soloist in 2013, then as a last minute team member for leg 2 in 2018. This year, my husband and I opted to run as team “Danada & Miss America” for the 25th anniversary event. This event was now lengthened from 20 miles to 25 miles in length. You could choose to run the 5 legs of the race however you want between you and your relay partner(s). The interesting thing for this race that since there are 5 legs to it, you could have a relay of up to five people. Dan and I decided two would be the way to go, and I am very happy with how it all went!

I was nervous the day before the race, as the smoke from the wildfires up north had travelled south to our area. Not nervous just for us as runners, but nervous for Andy as a spectator. He would be outside with us all day at the race, as we would be trading him off at each relay checkpoint. Thankfully, the smoke cleared and all we had to battle through was the heat.

Before the race

We had originally planned for Dan to run legs 1 & 2 and I would run legs 3-5. Dan started off what with what seemed to be a conservative pace. About 20 minutes into the leg, my phone rings. It’s Dan. WTF….you should be running….He said “be ready to run leg 2.” With that statement I had no clue what type of shape he would be in coming to the transition area. He came through in a decent time, and actually had us 2nd in our category (mixed relay <40 years old). I headed off to the 2nd leg.

Playing around at the transition area for leg 2

I had messaged him before heading off stating I would run leg 2 & 3 and hope he could do 4, and then I would do 5. This is what ended up happening. Dan was recovered by the time it got to leg 4 (which was just leg 2 in reverse) and his main issue was the pressure the water belt was putting on his stomach. At the end of leg 2 we were still in 2nd place, but then during leg 3 (when presumably other teams had a fresh runner take a spot) I slid our team down to 4th place. This was the longest and most challenging leg, and I was happy to have a little break.

During these breaks we were basically just shuttling Andy and ourselves to the different transition areas. Andy was a CHAMP! It was hot out, but we kept him under umbrellas and in the shade. With the help of our friends who were also running as teams or spectating, we had such a great crew surrounding us. It’s awesome to have a random selection of people to pass your kid off to when you have to use the bathroom before heading off on your leg of the relay!

My pale-skinned men waiting for me during leg 3!

So Dan made up some epic time in leg 4. We were in 4th in our division when I came in after leg 3. When Dan tagged me off for my portion of the race he had climbed back up to 3rd place. With our friend Nick on the team in 4th place, I knew my burnt out legs (which had already ran 10 miles) would have some work to do in order to stay ahead of his fresh legs (he was running his first leg of the race).

Andy fell asleep finally during leg 5 and the post race celebration

I somehow mustered to hold on, bringing our two-person relay in with a time of 4 hours 23 minutes even. I was really proud of how Dan and I adapted the race on the fly given how he was feeling, and how we were able to hold on and place in our division with just two of us! We had so much fun that day with each other, our friends, and with Andy. We are looking forward to our upcoming race weekend in Fernie, where we will be doing another relay together. This one is a set two-person relay, and thankfully a lot of our same great friends will be out there too. Hope Andy does as well as he did here!

Post race beverages and fun!

2019 Race Plans

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The kid is napping, I finished my Sunday chores, so I am going to try to push out a blog post!  It’s early February, and I will say that the last month has been tough on me for running.  With the holidays and the year end of 2018, I was getting my daily runs in for the December Holiday Run Streak that our local store puts on.  But other than that, my physical activity was going downhill.  Work has been tough, and managing work with being parents and wanting to still do the same level of running and training I did before Andy is even tougher.  And it’s not even the ‘before Andy’ that is the most challenging.  It’s the now being a working parent.  Maternity Leave was a godsend and I was probably close to the best shape of my life by mid July and August of last year.  I ran my best 5km ever, was feeling strong AF and also felt like a pretty bad ass mom.

Now, I just feel like a mom trying to swim upstream.

I am still doing the Runstreak, and have been running at least a mile a day every day since December 1st.  My first 2019 goal is to continue the RunStreak for one whole year.  It’s not a mileage goal, or a race time goal, but it gives me something to focus on every day and it something that I know can be attainable even when I am feeling overloaded with work and everything else.

As 2019 creeped into existence, I knew I needed to get back in control of my diet and exercise.  It wasn’t awful, but in the last months of 2018 I started buying chips and salsa again for at home.  And I was drinking more beer than my ‘lack of running’ body should be consuming.  The husband and I both went in for body composition appointments at Kinetic at the beginning of January.  My weight was actually better than I expected.  But, weight is a funny thing.  It’s a number to not take too much to heart.  I weighed in at 135 lbs.  The measurements for the body composition though, however, were frustrating (but expected).  I didn’t completely fall of the wagon, but comparing the results to what I had back in June at the end of the Mommy “Time 4 Me” challenge was frustrating.  My body fat percentage had gone up and my measurements had increased in total inches.

This was all expected because I 1.) Wasn’t running as quality of workouts 2.) It’s winter and not race season so I wasn’t in the training mode for anything in particular 3.) I am not able to go to boot camp anymore (damnit, I wish I was still on mat leave!) 4.) our diet had started to creep back into the higher carb amounts.

Husband and I have decided to tweak our eating habits, using the tools I learned during the Time 4 Me challenge.  Lower carb, higher protein.  We’ve also greatly cut the beer intake, and have generally switched to red wine (except I am drinking a beer as I type this……).  I’m not making myself go crazy with this, but we are going to do another body composition early March to see what has happened in two months with some small changes.

The bigger thing is that I have my second goal of getting back into racing shape and loving to run.  I contacted Dean Johnson, who did my race training plan for Vancouver in 2015, and asked him is he’d make a plan for me for this year leading up to my big race in September (more on that later).  If someone makes me a plan to follow, I automatically make it work in my day.  It was also key that I gave him which days work best for me to fit in quality workouts (Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and then have the other days as just my minimum mileage for my runstreak.  I started this Thursday with his set workouts and even though the cold and snowy weather is absolute shit, I have to say I’m already feeling better about myself and the race season ahead.

I know I can’t necessarily have crazy time goals for my races this year, but I need to have some goal.  If I just register for random local races but don’t have a new big race or plan in sight, I’ll get into a rut.  My 2019 race schedule is shaping up to look like this:

-Moonlight Run 10KM in March

-Some local 5km races (possibly with Andy in the stroller) in April and May

-Red Deer Half in May (goal of sub 1:37, depending on how training goes!)

-Lots of trails in June (Coulee Cactus as a relay, Lone Wolf in Fernie as a relay with the husband)

-Haida Gwaii Full Marathon in July (would like to run at least faster than Berlin, with the dreamy goal of sub 3:30…but its a very small race and it’ll be mentally challenging for me).

-Lost Soul Ultra 50km in September (My first trail ultra….more on that in a much later post)

-Police Half Marathon in October (would like to beat my time from this years’ race which was 1:37.39)

-New York Marathon in November (run with the husband and just generally have a blast)

How the next two months go will determine how those 5km’s and Red Deer half goes.  Will I be competitive with the field, or even with my own times?  I’m sure as hell going to try.  When June rolls around and I start playing with trail races, I have the hope that this ignites a new fire in me.  I am really looking forward to July and August, as I will have off of work and Andy will still have daycare Monday-Friday.  I can use those days to follow a trail training plan in preparation for Lost Soul.  As that approaches, a reasonable goal for the race will be determined.  Or maybe not so reasonable.  I have one in my mind, but it may be a bit lofty.

Anyway, with second semester in full swing and a new training plan to follow, I have high hopes for the coming months of running.  And bonus—kid is still napping!

First Run of 2015-Not What I Expected

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My 67 day RunStreak ended January 1, 2015. I am happy that I kept with it, because I like staying with goals I set, but I was also glad to wake up New Years Day and not run! I had ran the night before at the Red Deer Resolution Run 5km, a nationwide run put on by Running Room. It is not a chip-timed event, and the draw is mainly to get in a final run before the new year. You also get a really nice jacket as part of your registration fee (I’d say the registration fee basically just pays for the jacket). The weather was VERY cold, barely in the teens (Fahrenheit) and the race started at 6 pm. I had forgotten my head lamp in Lethbridge, so I was hoping someone in the group of 150 plus runners would be near me with a lamp. Well, we took off and three guys sped on out ahead. In retrospect, I could have maybe been able to stay with them given the proper footwear (more in that later) but I stuck at a comfortable pace and ran pretty much solo (well, not pretty much, I was alone!) for all 5km. I finished in a comfortable 24:25 and was the first female to finish. I was happy with how I did, especially since the Bower Pond trails had negligible lighting. The thing, though, that I took away from this event was how at peace I was with myself.

Now, I am not going to go on and on about how I had some crazy-ass personal revelation on the year 2014, or how 2015 is going to play out, but as I approached mile 1 and realized I was alone….I smiled. I was in a “race” but I was pushing just myself. With no one nearby, I couldn’t see or hear anyone ahead or behind me. The sun was long gone, the moon was behind a hazy, cloudy sky, but the bright white snow of central Alberta lit the path. The sound of feet moving through this crunching snow was mesmerizing. Occasionally, runners would hit turnoffs up onto sidewalks, but then would be led back onto the trail along the river. Whenever I was along the river, I was alone…but so incredibly happy. When the race finished, while I didn’t have anywhere close to a personal best, I was happy.

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So I took two days off after the Resolution Run. We were back in Lethbridge after a whirlwind of holiday travels. It felt great to be back in our own house. I knew I wanted to head out and run Saturday morning, but it was COLD, not just cold, but downright miserable. It was -1 F or so when I woke up, and by the time I got set to go on my run around noon it was a mere 2F. With four inches or so of snow freshly fallen in Lethbridge, which was on top of some older snow and ice, I decided to try out my new INOV-8 X-Talon 212 trail shoes. I had ordered these shoes in Amazon in November after Ali told me how awesome they worked for her during the Rugged Maniac obstacle race. I wanted these for Spartan Races. But, I knew I could use them on the trails in Lethbridge.

I drove over to Bull Park Trail on the Westside with the goal in mind to run down into the valley to the bridge and back. With it so cold out I didn’t know if my phone would cooperate when I wanted to take photos. I packed it away deep in my pockets and set out. As I jogged from where I parked my car in a nearby neighborhood (wasn’t sure if my car would make it into the not-yet-plowed trailhead parking lot) to the trai, I could tell right away these shoes were different. I was just running through snow, but my feet were flying. I hit the trail, which has shale below the snow, and was still moving so fluidly. These were great! The wind was quite cold on my face, but my body felt good and my feet weren’t even cold.

Before descending into the river bottom, I had to watch my footing as I could see ice below the snow, especially noticeable in areas where drifts had occurred. But the shoes gripped these areas so well too! Even descending into the river was easier than what it would have been had I worn my New Balance!

I made it down to the river and could see foot prints. I was not the only crazy person out there running today. I did never actually see anyone on the paths during my jaunt, but I knew people had gone the same route as me! I headed north in the trail with the river parallel to the trail. Roughly parallel, actually, as this path is more of a goat trail. I have done this path before, and it is now probably my favorite stretch in Lethbridge. Running it in the snow, in these shoes, was a completely different experience. I stopped for a bit (didn’t bother stopping my watch whenever I stopped) to try to get a photo. Frozen. Well, not frozen, but it gave the “extreme temperature” message. I putzed with it a little more, but ended up putting it in my sports bra (heat against my body would help???) and went toward the bridge.

I had to stop and pause and take in the surroundings as I reached the bridge. While I had seen Lethbridge from this vantage point before, I had not seen it covered in snow and almost frozen in time. It was awesome.
As I headed back, I checked my phone again. It cooperated! I stopped a couple spots to take photos before heading back up the coulee. Below are some of the shots I was able to get. These were all down in the river bottom, as once I headed back up the coulee, it stopped working again.

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By the time I made it back to my car, I had completed a cold, yet extremely satisfying, 4 miles. Extremely satisfying doesn’t even begin to hit how awesome it was. Yes, I stopped a lot to take in the sights and did not run 4 miles hard, per say. But I felt like I was running in a cloud when I was moving. Much like my run on New Years Eve, I had a smile on my face. I also realized part way through this run that if it had been two years earlier, I would have never set foot outside in these conditions, in this cold, in this snow, in this river valley. But now, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. That is good enough for me, and I call that a successful first run of 2015.

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And So Begins the Taper….

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In a week from tomorrow, Dan and I will be sitting at the Calgary International Airport (most likely at Chili’s Too enjoying some beverages) waiting to board our red eye flight to Orlando. In the next week I will be writing up an overview on this year and everything I have done to prepare for this culminating event, but it is so crazy to even think that we will finally be heading down to Disney for the Dopey Challenge!

The last week has been a whirlwind of Christmas celebrations and holiday cheer. Dan and I headed to Red Deer, Alberta, last Saturday for a whopping six nights. In those days, we became Godparents for our niece Norah, met up with some dear friends who now live in Vancouver, went to the Pottage family Christmas in Edmonton, had 12 meatless Ukrainian dishes at my brother and sister-in-laws on Christmas Day, went shopping on Boxing Day, and slept 10-12 hours each night. In those days, I also spent next to no time looking at crap related to RunDisney. I have had that consuming my daily thoughts the last few months, and it was a good break to get away from being anxious for Dopey. But while we were away, I did manage to get some training runs in….some more successful than others….

Saturday, December 21st was miserable. Absolutely gross in Lethbridge (cold, brisk wind chill) and even more gross in Red Deer. I attempted to start my 20 mile run in the morning before we hit the road, but I ran a whopping 0.68 miles before I realized frostbite was a legit possibility. So we hit the road. Red Deer is three and a half hours north of Lethbridge, smack dab between Calgary and Edmonton, so you can imagine what December may feel like. I went to the Collicut Centre in Red Deer that night to attempt 20 miles indoors. While the track was more favorable than the one in Lethbridge (a 300 meter track vs. 200 meter) I just couldn’t do it. At mile 11 I just hit a wall and had to stop. I did 9 miles on the bicycle and called it a night.

Two days later I bundled up and hit the trail system in Red Deer, where I did manage to do 6 miles. It was a good confidence booster after my failed long run on Saturday. But I knew I had to get a long run in before I started my taper. 6 wasn’t enough.

I had planned on attempting a 20 miler on Saturday, December 28th, but when December 26th rolled around, I knew I had to go for it then. Weather in Red Deer was a few degrees above freezing and the sun was out. And there was not an ounce of wind. Dan and I went on our annual Boxing Day shopping spree with his Grandma, and then at 11:15 am I head out from Bower Mall to conquer 20 miles. I am familiar enough with Red Deer to not get lost, but as far as how their extensive trail system links from piece to piece…..I’m a novice. I have ran the Red Deer half marathon three times, so I am familiar with that route. Also, we did a Spartan Race in September up there, and this covered 8 miles over on the opposite end of town. So with these routes mashed in my mind, I went and winged my 20 miles.

I knew I needed to complete a successful 20 mile distance solely for my own state of mind. I have done a ridiculous amount of training all year, and while I know I could run a full 26 miles on the day of the race, I was psyching myself out. I haven’t ran more than 20 miles since the Coulee Cactus Crawl in Lethbridge this June when I did a painfully slow 21 miles in the dreaded coulees.

The nice thing about the trail system was that much of the snow was packed down, which made it easier to navigate and run on. I even went off to some smaller footpaths that offered absolutely breathtaking winter views underneath the evergreens. After running the trails by Kerrywood Nature Centre, I found my way down the Red Deer River over to Heritage Ranch, which was the site of the Spartan Race. I went down some gorgeous cross country ski trails and spilled out by Bower Pond, where TONS of families were ice skating. Music was piped in outside and the energy was fantastic. I looped back on the other side of the Red Deer River and extended my route a bit farther past my end point to reach my goal. After 3 hours 19 minutes and 21 seconds I had completed 20 miles.

Finishing that 20 was a huge weight off my shoulders. I can now officially start to taper and slow things down. It has also fired me up and gotten me even more anxiously excited for Dopey Challenge. Right now, all I can say is BRING IT!

Race Recap-Grizzly Ultra Run Relay

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On Sunday, October 14th, I participated in my first ever relay trail race, the Canmore Grizzly Ultra Marathon. I actually had never intended on running in this race, until one day in September I received a message on Facebook from a Dopey Training Crew member who lives in Calgary. Saskia and I had talked online after realizing we both lived in Alberta and had joined the same Dopey Challenge training group. We even met up at the Edmonton Half Marathon in August. So when all of her relay members for the Grizzly Ultra started bailing on her, she got desperate and asked a random girl (me) who lived in Lethbridge, loved to run, and who she sorta knew.

I said Yeah! and she signed me up. After some discussion, we decided I would run the first leg of the 50km relay, which was a 14 km portion. This leg was described as a “fast, non-technical leg for runner’s with lots of endurance.” The difficulty was 3 out of 5 claws. (Get it….claws….like grizzly claws….yeah).
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I went to Calgary the night before, as Saskia let me stay over for the night. I almost didn’t want to come, however, as Friday night I slept for a solid 12 hours because I had started coming down with a cold. And Saturday, even though I had a race the following day, I was suppose to do 7 miles easy. I just couldn’t. I took a 3 hour nap instead. I was feeling in rough shape. All that sleeping and then trying to go to bed early in preparation for a 5 am wake up call didn’t add up well for a great pre-race nights’ sleep. I think I woke up every hour.
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We headed to Canmore at 6 am Sunday. We had all sorts of camping gear packed, as we needed to set up a base camp area outside the Nordic center for when we were done/waiting for our legs to start. Trish, our leg 5 runner, drove out with us to the Nordic center. This would be her first race….ever! I didn’t find that out till later during probably Adele’s leg 3, but it was very cool to know we had a total race newbie. Adele and Greg, the leg 2 and leg 3 runners, were meeting us there. Saskia would be doing leg 4.

I have to say, once we got to Canmore, I got a little nervous. The only other previous trail race I have done was my Coulee Cactus Crawl. I was very thankful to be the first leg, as it meant my pre-race prep would be the same, and I wouldn’t be sitting around for hours after the official start for my turn. I had studied the diagrams of elevation for my leg of the course, and I had a positive attitude about being able to handle the terrain. When the 9 am start came, I was set…off I went with all the other Leg 1 runners and soloists!

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The other nice thing about being the first leg of the relay was having people surrounding you during the whole 14km. It started to spread out more by around 6 km in, but I always had people directly in front or around me. This helped with my pacing and also pushed me. The leg I ran was a wide double-track course and only occasionally did the terrain become rocky and rough. There was only one hill that slowed me down quite a bit, but then we hit a turn around and going back down it was awesome!

Since there are no mile markers on the trail, I kept referring to my GPS to get a better idea of how much more I had to run. Being in the woods made it interesting, as you had no real idea to where you were in relation to the finish line….there was no way to see through the trees! I could sense, though, when we were getting on the home stretch, as we ran back on pieces of the beginning of the race. I could hear commotion and announcements through the trees, and soon we hit the paved main road….I was almost done!

I pushed my way through to the finish in a time of 1:13:20! I was pleasantly surprised with my time, and I definitely think that Erin telling me I could get the 14 km done in under 1:20 really pushed me. It was a little chaotic finding Greg in the relay exchange area, as I had to stop quickly and was a little disoriented. Soon he had our timing chip and was off, and I got my finisher’s medal!

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The rest of huge day was spent going from inside to outside and trying to stay warm as we waited for all our runners to run their legs. I felt fantastic during the run, but the hours that followed led to an extremely runny nose and an overall feeling of garbage. I tried to keep my mind off of the fact I was starting to feel petty sick by watching for our runners coming back and also keeping an eye out for Erin as she came through for each leg.

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In the end, our team finished with a time of 6:13:24. It was awesome. Seeing all our runners come in at the end of their legs and then our next runners head out to start their leg, but it was especially cool to see Trish finish for us, since it was her first race ever! This race was organized very well and the scenery was next to none….beautiful! I would definitely recommend this race for runners looking for a change of pace an a challenge! We are all already talking about doing it again next year, and now we all wouldn’t be strangers!

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Race Recap Part 2—Spartan Sprint Sun Peaks

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In continuation of my last post, I am now going to talk about day 2 of my British Columbia Spartan Race weekend! So where did I leave off…oh yeah….Erin and I drive 10.5 hours to Sun Peaks Resort, run a 3 and a half hour race in rain, sleet and blizzard conditions, attend an after party for too late, get about 4 hours of sleep….and now it’s Sunday at 7:45 am.

And we have the 8:30 Sprint heat. WTF were we thinking…..?!?

Well, again, we weren’t. But, we signed up for the Sprint because we figured since we were already out there, we might as well do both races. And Erin needed this race for her Trifecta Tribe race, so I decided to do it with her.

Weather was a lot better this morning than Saturday. It was very quiet at the starting area, and not until 8:25 did they start calling our heat into the chute. And before you knew it, we were off! The race started off on the same route as the Beast….but it hurt ten times more today! A handful of others around us were Beast competitors the day before, and they were feeling the pain too. I was also feeling the dehydration due to too many sponsored Coors Lights on Saturday…
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The obstacles and routes were pretty much the same as Saturday, though some terrain had changed over night, due to foot traffic and weather conditions. All the mud obstacles were especially gross, like the cinder-block pull, as the blocks were sunken into the ground and so were the ropes.

Erin and I were trying to bust through this course the fastest we could, so we could shower and be on the road. Sheer utter over-tiredness took me by storm at the barb-wire crawl, because at the end of it I laid in snow angel position and yelled “BLAH!” I had reached the end of my Spartan rope.

We did, however, accomplish some things today that we couldn’t the day prior. Both of us made it on the Traverse Wall, and we both successfully completed the Monkey Bars! Helped when they are not full of frozen rain!

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IWe finished the race strong, with a time of 1:32:14, and later found out the course was actually 7 km and then some, not the advertised 5km! Either way, we completed two Spartan Race distances in two days. And day 2 was as well-organized as day 1. The crowd and volunteers were outstanding, the workers were fantastic…and they brought us better weather the second go-around. Keep in mind, we also drove 21 hours in two days. And still had one of the best weekends of our life. Until next time…AROO!

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Red Deer Super Spartan-Race Recap. “Have I Gone Batshit Crazy?”

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My husband and I headed up to his old stomping grounds of Red Deer, Alberta, on Friday, September 6th, for the Red Deer Super Spartan which would be held the following day. The weather report was grim—-rain, showers, clouds, unseasonably cool weather. As we drove from Lethbridge to Red Deer, we could see the clouds making faces at us, and the lovely downpour that greeted us between Airdrie and Red Deer made us a tad concerned how we would fair the next day.

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We headed out to Heritage Ranch at 8 am Saturday morning. I have ran near here during the Red Deer Half Marathon, but never through all the horse trails. Heritage Ranch was a short 10 minute drive from Dan’s parents’ place, and it is quite an odd location—-we came in through a newer neighborhood and parked on the street, walked to where the check-in would be and it was all RIGHT THERE. Imagine if you looked out your bedroom window and you saw half-naked, spandex-clad soon-to-be-muddy people, heard ridiculously loud belongs-at-a-crossfire-gym music, and witnessed mass confusion of mobs of people at package pickup….that was the Red Deer Super Spartan at 8:20 am.

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Dan and I had never been to a Spartan this early in the morning, and the area was so congested that it didn’t help the situation. We met up with his cousin Erin and us three waited in line for about 25 solid minutes. Some times it was very frustrating as you saw volunteers not being able to check people in or find their names….there was no packet pickup offered the night before so I think that was most of the issue. Once we had our bibs and packages, the rest was pretty smooth. We took turns going to the marking station to get our number put on us in marker, while the others held line for bag check….got to use the porta potty once…check out the finish line area (where they put the rope climb as basically the LAST obstacle! Ugh!) and then it was only ten minutes until our 9:30 start!

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Because of how Heritage Ranch is set up, you literally could only see the start and finish area of the course, and you had no clue what to expect on the course. When the countdown finished and we set off, we barreled through some very narrow horse trails. Some of the first obstacles we hit were the over/under/through wall, stacked bales of hay that we had to crawl over, buckets of soil we had to load and carry, and even some naturally occurring horse poop!

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My biggest achievement in this race was finally being able to complete the monkey bars. My last two Spartan races I slipped off almost immediately, and pretty much psyched myself out of being able to do it. Since Dan scurried across real quick, Erin and I stood there a moment before starting. Erin is not tons taller than myself, but her arm span is ridiculous. She started and got her momentum and went three bars at a time! I started and was just doing one at a time, but once I saw her ahead doing the three, I got some momentum myself and double-barred it to the end. I was so pumped when I jumped off it just fired me up!

The trail running was challenging, but having Erin be our leader most of the race was really helpful. She thrives during trail races and is used to running with the exposed roots, rocks, uneven surface. You couldn’t see any obstacles from inside the thick covering of trees so every time you spilled out of the woods, you were greeted with a surprise. One of the surprises was not just muddy water to walk through, but a 40 foot body of water we had to swim across, which I would describe as a cross between a creek and a small river. It was fairly calm, but the idea of not having your feet be able to touch the bottom was new! They did have life jacket provided if someone needed it. Dan opted to use a regular front stroke, while I just doggy-paddled across. Erin got a little freaked out once submerged, but then made her way over.

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Sooner than we expected, we had reached the finishing obstacle area. The mud wall to climb over was extra tough this time due to the ropes being absolutely covered in sludge. Erin and I both had to do burpees at the rope climb, so when Dan finished it successfully, he told him to finish ahead of us. He did not have to do burpees as an obstacle punishment at all this course, which is a first, since he usually fails the spear throw. Erin and I finished together with a jump over the fire, finishing with a time of 1:27:46, covering a distance of 13km!

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We really enjoyed this course, and had a fantastic time running it. The longer distance was an advantage for me over Dan, since 13km is a normal distance for me to run. This allowed there to be larger spaces and breaks in between obstacles, so I was able to get into a good stride multiple times. So what is next? Well…Erin and I are 99% sure we are registering for the Spartan Beast in Sun Peaks, BC, on September 28th. We have gotten addicted…some may say we have drank the kool-aid—and upon completion of the Beast, I would join the Trifecta Tribe. Have I gone batshit crazy yet? Maybe. But I am having the time of my life!

Diagnosis—Race Envyitis

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My husband’s cousin Erin came down to Red Deer, Alberta, from Edmonton this weekend to participate in the Super Spartan Race with us. She wasn’t registered for the event until early last week, but she knew for some time I was. Reason why she ended up signing up for it, in her words, was RACE ENVY!

If you have run lots of races, or just are getting into racing, you may have experienced Race Envy before. Race Envy is when you are jealous of someone else running in a race you haven’t been able to do yet. It may be a race you never even considered running before. It may be a distance you never have ran yet. The point is, someone you know is running in an event that you aren’t, and you want part of it.

Erin is a long distance trail runner who has participated in some crazy runs, like the Grizzly Ultra and Sinister 7. She also has run two full marathons, and qualified for Boston at the Red Deer Marathon by just getting under 3:35:00! I wrote about this in my race recap of the event, and you can read about it here: Red Deer Race Recap. She had never done a Spartan Race before, but heard all about mine and Dan’s experiences down in Montana in May and in Calgary last month. She got jealous and had to take part.

I’m glad she did get that hot case of Race Envy because having her run the 8 mile (13 km) with us really pushed me. I will write up about the race soon, once I have all the race photos, but her trail racing experience really helped kick it up a notch for Dan and I. And Erin had a great time too!

After the race, I started thinking more about her statement about having Race Envy. I thought back to everyone running the Disneyland Half Marathon last week and all the Dumbo Double Dare runners. I definitely had race envy then, because I realistically could have gone to run it if I had thought of it soon enough, as I wouldn’t have missed any school. I am already thinking of registering for it next year, as I am envious of the Coast to Coast medals. Since I am doing Dopey Challenge in January, if I want one of those prized Coast to Coast medals then 2014 is my year.

Last night we hung out with my brother in law and sister in law. She also did the Spartan Race that day and we started talking about doing a Spartan Beast next year, which is 20km or more. Then we started talking about making sure to do a Sprint, Super AND Beast in 2014, so we can earn the Trifecta medal. And then, maybe because I was about 7 beers into the evening, I started conjuring in my head if I could possibly get to Sun Peaks, British Columbia, on September 28th to do the Beast there and get my Trifecta medal this year. This Race Envy is also a mix of Bling Envy, and those two combinations are deadly.

I’m sure I will have a case of Race Envy again myself, and I am positive Erin will too. Us runners are always wanting to try something new and different, earn a sweet medal, run a race no one else we know has tried, or even be the first of our core group to complete something. Have you ever had a case of Race Envy, or are you recovering from Race Envy?