Tag Archives: ultra

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 !

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

Spartan Ultra Beast 2015-A Race Like No Other…

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Since January 1st, 2014, I have participated in one 5 km race, four 10 km races, three half marathons, one full marathon, one 50 km ultra-marathon.  In addition to these traditional races, I also did two Spartan Sprints (5 km each), 2 Spartan Supers (14 km each) and 1 Spartan Beast (21 km).  I was in the shape of my life when I ran the Vancouver Marathon in May and qualified for Boston.  I placed in my 50 km race in Calgary in my age group and won a trophy!  I won other races, made personal bests in all the standard race distances:  a 20:42 for a 5km, 41:30 for a 10km, 1:35.41 for a half marathon, 3:24.56 for a full marathon.  So I naturally thought signing up for the Spartan Ultra Beast in Sun Peaks, to be held on September 26th, 2015, would be a logical next challenge.

I just did not know that this challenge would be my first ever DNF.

DNF is a running term for “Did Not Finish.”  No one plans to run a DNF.  No one wants to run a DNF.  Many people have, and for those people that race will always hold a sour note in their mind.  Sure, it will be a learning experience, and everyone’s reasons for DNF’ing will vary, but it’ll still hurt.  Even if it was the right thing to do.

My husband Dan and I drove out to this race on Friday, September 25th.  It is a 10 hour drive from Lethbridge.  We left early, made good time, and I felt excited at packet pickup.  I had been feeling a bit sick earlier in the week, so I have been going to bed quite early.  Like 8:00 pm early.  But I felt ready.  It was very exciting to be back at Sun Peaks-I not only ran the Sun Peaks Beast in 2013, but Dan and I celebrated our honeymoon here in January 2011 while attending the Winter Wine Festival.  I got my bags set for the morning and headed to bed.

Sun Peaks Village

The morning weather was a lot better than the “Snow Fest” that was 2013.  It was cool and overcast at 7:15 am when I headed to festival grounds.  My heat of the Ultra Beast began at 7:45 am.  All 175 of us crazy enough to register for this event that would be double the length of the Beast (two loops) began at once.  I was geared up with supplies and ready to go.  The first hour of the race was a lot of switch back climbing through single track trails, which eventually brought us up to where the chairlift let spectators off at.  There were a few obstacles during this time: a wall, Hercules hoist, log carry.  Once hitting the chairlift (an important spot for me) you did the monkey bars.  Nailed it!  A few more obstacles later and we kept climbing.  And climbing.  To a section I never was at before.  “The Top of the World” was closed to us in 2013 due to the blizzard.  But I made it here this year!

Top of the World

Top of the World

It was after this section that I really started to have fun.  There was a lot of downhill running in open areas and on single track trails.  The main thing was I actually could run.  I was staying hydrated with my water that had Nuun, fueling myself with carbs in the form of HoneyStingers…Feeling great.  I got to obstacle 16, the Wall of Sparta, and still felt like a million bucks.  I was the 2nd place Ultra Beast female at this point in the race, and I even asked a volunteer what kilometer we were approximately at.  She said 17km….alright, if this is a double Beast (21 km) I am getting really close to my first loop!  Podium dreams danced through my brain.

But then a close to 1.5 km hill climb came.  Wow, that burned.  Straight on up.  Forever and ever it seemed.  Eventually we got to a tire flip at the way top and then there was a split off point-The Ultra Beast Runners had to go to the left and the regular Beast runners went right.  Apparently the regular Beast runners had the rest downhill.  We had a teaser of downhill for about 4 minutes and then hit our extra obstacle:  a burlap sack carry.  This in itself was not too hard, but we had to go up a stretch of ski hill and back down.  And then had to run (or barely walk) back up another stretch of hill (MOUNTAIN) to get on back with the main course.

sandbag

While I was still feeling positive, as I still held 2nd position, I was getting weak.  I failed the parallel bar obstacle, I fell off the stupid balance beam (which I NEVER fall off of), missed my one-chance spear throw and then just didn’t even attempt the rope climb.  120 burpees total.

I came in after loop 1 under the cut off time, with the 3rd place woman coming right in with me. No 4th place female in sight at all.  We got in to the transition area somewhere between 4 hour 30 minutes and 4 hour 40 minutes.  Dan was waiting with some now luke-warm soup for me.  He was almost laughing in disbelief at how long it was taking me, considering I guessed a first loop of 3-3:30, based on how it was 2 years prior and the better shape I was in.  Holy shit this was a hard course.  I ate my soup, had a fruit bar, refilled my water, and checked out of transition.

That’s when it started to crumble.

In retrospect, I should have spent more time fueling and getting mentally prepared while in the transition area.  Maybe finding someone else leaving transition who seemed to be in a good place mentally and physically and sticking with them.  I ran off and before I knew it I was on these ski and mountain bike trails alone.  No other runners around me.  Just the forest.  And bear poop.

Other runners would catch up and fall back, but we all looked worse for wear.  Looked like we were part of a zombie apocalypse.  My foot was burning with pain where my bone spur is.  Any time I went downhill and landed on even the smallest of rock, if it was on the ball of my right foot it felt like it would shoot through the top of my foot.  I was soaking wet and cold with mud encrusted on me.  I neglected to change my clothes in the transition area because I knew getting my compression socks off would be hard enough.  I was starting to cough and sneeze.  While the weather at the start of the race was pleasant, we had ran into rain, sleet, snow flurries, sun, and repeat during that first lap.

I started thinking more about if completing this race was worth the potential risks.  At this rate, I would be alone in the dark with no headlamp at some point.  My body was hurting, my mind wasn’t in the right place, and for the most part I wasn’t enjoying myself any longer.  Yes, I had ran a ton of different races this year with grueling distances and circumstances, but I was always having fun…even if I was in pain.  This race, the pain wasn’t quite maxed out, but if I had kept going on I was worried what could happen to my body and effect my upcoming events.  Boston kept going through my head.  One wrong land on my foot could have immense damage and possibly nix my ability to compete in the marathon I have always dreamed of.  When I registered for this Spartan Ultra in December 2014, I registered for it because I knew I would have been training for other events that could help me out with it.  I was not training specifically for it, so my weight training/cross training was lacking to non-existent.  But my training I had done did pay off and help me make my goal of qualifying for Boston.  I didn’t want to ruin Boston.

At that chairlift, round 2, I borrowed a volunteer’s cell phone and phoned my husband at the bottom.  This was an hour after I had left the transition area.  I asked for him to come up on the chairlift and get me.  I sat in the chairlift lodge and Spartan Race workers came over to check on me.  I wasn’t wincing in pain, I wasn’t hurt, and I wasn’t breathing ridiculously hard.  I was just done.  A lady gave me her tea, and when I talked to these workers the tears started flowing.  I just felt defeated at that moment, and while the course was literally steps away and I could have gotten back up, I just knew the right decision was to pull.

Dan got up there about 15 minutes later.  We got on the chairlift down (which he said I would hate since I hate heights) and I just put my head on his shoulder.

“I feel like such a fucking loser.” 

“Losers don’t qualify for Boston”

After making it to the bottom, retrieving my bag, taking a shower and a nap, I knew we had to make the most of the night.  It wasn’t worth staying in the room sobbing about it.  We went out that evening and had a hell of a time (probably spent a bit too much money).  During that time I ran into a few people who had similar, yet different, fates on the course.  Two girls didn’t even make it to the transition area in the cut off time (over an hour late) so they weren’t allowed to continue on.  They own a gym in Red Deer, so they were definitely in excellent physical shape.  Another guy we sat by at the bar had his hand all taped up.  During the Beast, he fell during an obstacle about 2 km out of the finish.  His hand gashed open, blood everywhere.  He had to pull from the race and go to the hospital to get it stitched.

I found out yesterday of the 175 that started, only 55 finished.  Only 3 of those 55 were women.  The fastest time for a male was 7:02:04 while the fastest female was 9:59:59.  It also said in the email the course for the Ultra Beast, including the extra loop with obstacle, was 52.87 kilometers….that is over 10.5 km more than I thought we would have!  I know Spartan Race wanted to make something challenging, and I by no means am trying to say that I would have completed it if it was without that extra loop, but that extra loop really wasn’t necessary to make it that “Ultra.”  Hell, I may have even bailed if that loop hadn’t been there but the extra loop just must have taken more out of me.  And I am sure a lot of others.

Will I be going back again in the future?  Not really sure.  I always did Spartan Races as my ‘fun-filler’ around my other races that I put my training focus on.  I think my husband and I will continue to head down to Montana each May for the race weekend, as it is a close enough getaway for us and an awesome time.  But other than that, I may be putting Spartan Races on the shelf and focus on my recovery from all the other races I did this year and then my training for the 120th Boston Marathon.

This is Supposed to be Easy……

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I have hit a roadblock.

After the Vancouver Marathon on May 3rd, I still kept up with my training for that month, as I had the Spartan Montana Beast and the Calgary 50km Ultra. I mustered through those (pretty decently too) and forced myself to take a solid 15 days off. No running at all. My body needed some recovery time. Near the end of that rest period, I contacted Dean Johnson and asked him to make me a summer training plan, with my end goal being to get a sub 41 minute 10km at the Disneyland 10km Labour Day weekend. Training for a 10km…easy enough, right?


Well, last week Tuesday I started the plan. My first run went well, although I may have pushed myself a bit too much. On Wednesday, I was really sore and my hip flexors were in pain, but I did an awesome hill workout. Thursday, though, it started to fall apart. I opted to take off on Thursday (could take off or do 40-60 minutes easy) as I thought I would feel better come Friday. I went out to attempt my Friday run of 60-70 minutes at easy pace. Mistake 1 was doing this at noon. Holy hell it felt like hell. The heat is not my friend. Mistake 2 was trying for the lower end of the pace goal (8:15 minute miles). I should have aimed for 8:45 from the get go. I held it together the first 4 miles, but by mile 5 I had an 8:58. Then I self destructed and ran a 9:43 for mile 6. I ended up running 6.68 miles in 60 minutes and felt like garbage. This weekend, I skipped my 90-105 minute long run and took off both days. I am not even a week into this plan and I am already sliding.

The plan was supposed to help motivate me to achieve my goal of a personal best 10km time. But right now, I’m in such a weird place and having a hard time getting back in to running. Maybe it was the 16 weeks of intense marathon training this winter and spring that just has me burned out. I mean, it probably is. I guess I just thought getting back in to a rhythm would be easy, as I had such a successful first 5 months of 2015. I got my best 5km, 10km, half and full marathon times in that time frame, and I also ran my first ever 50km. I have been on Cloud 9 and flying high! But now, it’s month 6, and I am a proverbial pile of shit.
If this summer is going to be successful “running-wise” I need to get out of this funk and back in the game. I need to start establishing a routine again. Having the framework of one, with my training plan, clearly isn’t enough. I need to be getting up before work to do my runs, as if I wait until after it is too hot out. And if I run when it’s the afternoon sun blazing down, I get crabby. And frustrated. And even after this last week of school, I need to be setting an alarm each morning so I am up and have a normal breakfast and out the door doing my run by at least 9 am. If I can get into this consistency, the rest should fall in to place.

“…there are no shortcuts or paths of least-resistance on the road to reaching something worthwhile.”-Dean Karnazes “Run!”

Calgary Marathon Weekend-50 km Ultra Race Recap

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I participated in the Calgary full marathon, half marathon, and full marathon (again), in 2009, 2013 and 2014.  Calgary is only 2 hours away from Lethbridge, so the ease of access to these events is fantastic.  I didn’t want to drive up there and do the same thing again….so when it was announced that they would be having the 50 km Ultra for a second year in a row, I decided WHY NOT?!?!  I mean, I would have been only a month off my Vancouver full marathon training, so my body would be set, and I had never done an ultra.  And what’s an additional 8 km anyway?  So I registered for the race, and put it in the way back of my mind, since Vancouver and qualifying for Boston was what this year was about. I had been so busy with school and coaching in the month of May, that this race weekend snuck up on me.  I will be honest—after Vancouver, I didn’t properly keep training for this event.  My body was exhausted, and it needed recovery.  I did keep up some running in between Vancouver and the Ultra, but it was no where near what it should have been if I was training for the Ultra as my goal race.  I knew I would be able to finish the race come Sunday, May 31st…I just wasn’t sure how ugly it would be.

I headed up on Saturday morning and went straight to the expo.  The expo is at Stampede Grounds.  It is easy to access, with free parking, but the expo itself is small and nothing outstanding.  I was able to pick up my race essentials, and purchase a cute tank top, all pretty quickly.  I then headed to my hotel to check in.  I opted to book on Priceline and got a steal of a deal by ‘naming my own price’ for a 4 star hotel.  I lucked out and got the Westin for only $75!  They offered a shuttle to the start line on race morning, which was a nice perk.  I also took advantage of the rooftop pool later that afternoon.  Dan’s best friend Chris lives in Calgary with his girlfriend Ashley, and I walked a measly 3 blocks to meet them for lunch.  We threw back a few beers, had some great food, and I lamented how I didn’t really care how tomorrow would go.  When we parted and they headed out to a friends’ party, I was sad to be going back to my hotel alone.  I wanted to go out, not run!  Oh well, I would finish this race some way, some how.

race swag

I got up around 4:30 AM, and was on the shuttle at 5:30.  I was only about a mile and a half from Stampede grounds, but having this shuttle was a nice bonus.  I did my bag check, did my pre-race rituals, and was set to go for the 6:30 am start.  The half, full and ultra would all be starting together at 6:30, and the 10km event would begin at 7:30am.  There was also a 5 km that would run at noon!  So lots going on in the morning!  It was comfortable outside right before the race began, but you could tell it was going to get ugly out later on.  Ugly as in HOT.  I tried not to think about it, and when the race began I was off.  I had told myself to try and pace an 8:15 minute mile, as I did 7:49 in Vancouver, but my first mile was just that…7:49.  I knew this was too fast for this hilly, high elevation course. I decided to ease on up and just try and enjoy the race.  By 10 km, I had to go to the bathroom.  Maybe the beer the day before wasn’t a good idea.  This would be 1 of 3 bathroom stops on the course.  The later ones were more so for also having time to hydrate and eat something.  Also around this first bathroom stop I ran into Todd Myers, a teacher at Chinook High School.  He was also doing the 50 km, but he has done crazy races before.  My goal in my mind was now to just stay ahead of Todd. 

start line

A little bit later, a lady was running next to me and chatting away.  She looked very intense….I could tell she knew what she was doing and was no rookie at this.  I come to find out and realize that this is Dennene Huntley.  Now, you may not know the name, I didn’t know the name on paper…but holy crap this woman is impressive.  She had come back from doing this 24 hour championship in Italy where she ran 193 km in 24 hours.  SERIOUSLY!  And, the funny thing about running into her, is that in Edmonton last year I actually ran into her at the end of the race.  When I was struggling to finish that full marathon, she came up behind me with her friend and paced her friend in to beat me.  She recognized me because I was wearing the same thing I wore in Edmonton, and she had told her friend to ‘catch the purple skirt!’  Her friend was in a similar situation as I was at that race—was trying to qualify for Boston, but didn’t.  It was a heartbreak, much like it was for me.  But her friend, the one who didn’t qualify last year….she qualified this year.  Much like me!  Anyway, Dennene and I ran most the race with eachother from about 14 km on.  We’d lose eachother for a kilometre or two, but then be back together.  She helped me tons complete this race and it was a pleasure getting to know her.  Turns out she knows a lot of the same people as me….my run coach for Vancouver, Dean Johnson….she knows him very well!  It was great hearing her stories as we ran. I could talk about every mile in this race and what happened, but that’d be boring for most of you.  I wasn’t racing this for a record or anything, I was just now on track to really enjoy the experience.  The weather was getting progressively warmer, and the sun was shining super hard.  If there wasn’t the breeze, I would have had to walk for stretches…I hate the heat!  And I have to add, the aid stations saved me this race!  There were tons, and since you do a couple loops past the same spot as you head out and back, and do the extra loop for the 50 km turnaround, you pass some of the stations a couple times.  They had cold water-soaked sponges at a lot of them, and these were amazing.  I think I doused myself in a sponge about 20 times.  I was soaking wet by the time I was done!

east village

I felt fairly in control most of the race until the last 10 miles.  My right leg started to tighten up, especially near my hip flexor and my hamstring.  I wanted to keep on moving because if I stopped, I didn’t know if I would be able to start again.  After I had done the second loop of our turnaround, I had rejuvenated energy, as I knew I was on the home stretch.  I also had no clue of my time after 27.5 miles because my watch died.  We looped back into the city, through East Village a second time, and into the Stampede Grounds.  I was sore, warm, sweaty, tired, and numb…all at the same time.  I was able to cross the finish line in a time of 4 hours 40 minutes and 34 seconds.  The sun was beaming down and I just felt other exhaustion!  I also could barely feel my fingers….it took about 5 minutes to do so, but I am not sure why that happened!  They were bloated and shaking…..nice.  I had put my body through hell and back.  I initially had the thought “never doing that again” but we all know how that pans out….

50 km finisher

….because a while later I saw the official results and was surprised to find out I took second in my age group!   As they would say on “A Christmas Story”…..I WON A MAJOR AWARD!  Ok, it wasn’t major…but it is my first trophy ever!  Makes me feel pretty bad ass.  And It also makes me want to do better at it another time.  And how did I celebrate?  I found Todd in the beer tent, found out he had placed 2nd in his age group, and we toasted our personal victories!  And oh yeah….I beat him!

todd and andrea

The Best Medicine….

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News Flash—-I have been ridiculously busy since the start of this school year. Yeah, I realize most people in the work force are, but this school year has really been a busy one. Our school day runs 8-3 each day, however, I am usually there by 7:40 AM, and have been staying until 6:00 PM or later each night. Planning for my new classes and staying ahead has been a priority. As for running. I have been able to do three runs a week after school with the Cross Country kids, but other than that, I haven’t been doing anywhere near what I was doing last year. My long runs tend to now just be when I have an event (Lethbridge Police Half, Bare Bones Half) and I am not really sure I am liking this. While the rest on my body is much needed, the consistency I was used to and valued the last year and a half is not there currently.

Yesterday, we had parent teacher interviews from 6:00-9:00 PM. This was after a morning of teaching, and an afternoon of professional development. A few of us went to dinner beforehand, and a friend of ours (who is not teaching this year) met us. We made a comment on how tan she looked. She hadn’t been tanning, but made a comment on how she has been going on walks mid day while the sun is out. What a rare concept for us locked in a building all day-outside…..fresh air…the sun! Today, during round 2 of Parent Teacher Interviews, a colleague came and sat down by me to ask how my running has been going. I lamented on how I am not going “as crazy” as last year but have some good events coming up, and that cross country with the kiddos was awesome. We chatted about my upcoming half marathon back in Milwaukee and my Spartan Races in January. I even mentioned how I am contemplating some crazy winter races in February. My best friend Ali, who is now a glorified runner in her own right, sent me a text from the Rock n Roll 5km expo in Los Angeles—she found a head band to buy me and wanted to share it. And later today when I went to the wine & scotch tasting at Andrew Hilton, Max (the owner) randomly started talking to me about my running, asking me what distance it is I usually compete in. He had been well aware of my RunDisney events, but he wanted to know more about what I do in the local area.

All this talk of running made me feel guilty of not having a plan at the moment, calendar wise. All during my RunDisney, Calgary and Edmonton training, I had a meticulous calendar with my runs planned out, whether they were long or short, speed work or easy. I have been sort of half-ass been going forward through the motions. I have been so worn out from work that after my short runs with the cross country kids, all I want to do when I get home is shower and collapse on the couch. That was my plan for today too, as I was beat from the full day of work and interviews all night and morning. However, I decided that perhaps the best medicine for this case of the blues was to just go out there and do what everyone knows I do-Run.

I changed into my running gear, threw on my Fitletic belt, and went out with the mindset of running more than 4 miles. I knew I needed to go someplace different, to get me motivated. I decided to run out of our neighborhood over to Whoop-Up Drive, where I took a paved walking path to Bull Park Trail. I have been on this red shale path before, but not in the recent future. I did my first mile in a powerful 8:20, flying with the wind pushing my forward. I headed onto the shale path with the plan to head down to the river bottom and come back up. However, when I made it to the bottom, I decided to go off the beaten path.

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I was adjacent to the Oldman River, but on the opposite side of where I usually would run. Fort Whoop-Up and the paved trails were East, while all I had in front of my was a grey shale path. I followed this path for some time until I got to a fork in the road—stairs up, or a foot path towards the bridge.

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I decided to go for the foot path. And it rejuvenated me. If I had been walking this path I would have been having a mild case of vertigo, as this was narrow and dropped off to the river. But, I was feeling alive, running in the cool 50 Fahrenheit wind, with the fall leaves crunching at my feet. For a bit of time while on this path, I felt like a crazy-ass Ultra runner…one of the 50km participants in the yearly Lost Soul Ultra. And I was loving it. I was snapping photos every chance I could with my phone—the scenery was uplifting.

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I stopped right next to Lethbridge’s icon-The High Level Bridge. I have taken photos of the bridge before, but not from this spot. I didn’t even remember to stop my watch as I snapped photos and took in my surroundings. This was what I needed.

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At this point I was already over 4 miles into my run. I needed to turn back. Instead of doing the same route back, I opted to run through the tunnel under Whoop Up drive to the path that heads up to the University. I ran up to the university, weaved through the parking lot, and headed through Nicolas Sheran Park. By the time I reached home, I had clocked in 7.3 miles.

I hadn’t planned on running 7 miles today. All I had planned was to shower and collapse on the couch. But, I opted to head out there and muscle through to see what was possible. This run woke me up, made me realize I was in fact alive. While I have been running the past 11 years, and while I have been going crazy with races and training the last year and a half, this simple solo run was an morale and confidence booster that I very much needed. It reminded me why I love to run.

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