Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Conquer the Canuck 2022 - Classic Canuck

 I registered for this two day race in the Before Times, thinking that it would be great training for building up to 100 miles. After being cancelled for 2 years, this race no longer had a specific training purpose, but running long on back to back days (with the longer distance on the second day) was still something I hadn't ever done.

Day 1 - 25K

Great weather, cool and sunny. Carpooled with Audrey. I had to resist the urge to bring my ultra bin and All The Food - had to keep reminding myself that it was only 25K and to pack lightly. Ducked off trail to do my business before the race and got about 10 mosquito bites on my face and scalp! 

My first pic with Harry.

The course was 3 loops of 8.33K, I tried not to go too fast to have some gas left for Sunday. 

Finishing the 25K, not DFL. Photo: Audrey

I feel like it was worthy to mention that afterwards, Audrey and I went to Reverence Barrel Works for refreshments. The chef came out and explained that he was developing some snacks, would we like to sample some?

I ate cantaloupe.

and the most delightful mushroom pate.

Then I went home, and spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch with my legs up, and tried to do as little as possible in order to rest up.

Day 2 - marathon

The forecast called for rain, I brought a jacket, but it only ended up raining during the first loop. I got about 10 mosquito bites on each calf, despite wearing compression socks. The race felt as I expected: really shitty for the first 5K, and then a dull ache the rest of the time. I had my special 'cinnamon flavoured sports drink' after loop 2 (of 5) and got a great boost as usual. There was a girl who would beat me out of the start/finish area every loop, but I'd pass her again. The final loop, I assume she had had enough and absolutely took off, I did not have enough gas in the tank to catch her again. There was a spot where there was an out and back, this girl gave me a shit eating grin when she passed me, and what sounded like a faintly sarcastic "good job" at the finish. I don't think I would do this 2 day challenge again, except for training purposes to get some huge weekend mileage numbers in. And I will definitely remember to wear even more bugspray.

Photobomber. Photo: Robin

Monday, 30 May 2022

Mud, Sweat, and Fireball - Sulphur 100 mile relay

 In 2017, I said I wouldn't do another relay unless I had friends as teammates. When Sulphur registration was happening, there was some Burly interest in the relay, but 20K didn't feel like enough of a challenge, so Agnes, Brian, Delano, and I decided to form a team to each run a more challenging distance of 40K.

I got to DVCA just before noon, to see Brian coming in at least 2 hours faster than expected. Temperature and trail conditions were as good as my first 50K back in 2015. I ran a 5K shakeout with Greg on the lollipop and felt bad that racers were saying "great job!" when we weren't doing anything significant and had to stop the photographer from taking our picture.

Gathering of trail friends! photo by Wes.

I was running the final leg, so there was at least 12 hours of downtime. Nothing to do but drink and nap!

I had to cut myself off after double
barreled champagne and radler action.

Agnes naps before her leg.

After Agnes started her leg and the sun set, I lay down in the tent to get something closer to actual sleep. It wasn't super noisy but there was occasional cheers and music was playing constantly so it was hard to fall asleep but I think I did catch a couple of winks. She started just after 6 pm so I was expecting her to finish around 1, waaaay earlier than the 4-5 am I thought it would be! Fortunately the aid station had hot coffee and I had plenty of time to wake up and be ready to start running.

Pass the baton..I mean ankle timing chip!

I'm off around 1 am...and halfway down Martin Road, Steve and Audrey were finishing, so I talked Steve into keeping me company for at least half of the first loop. I'm definitely not scared to run in the dark, but it's nicer with company. I very very stupidly didn't charge my headlamp before the race - I think on some level because I was expecting to start my leg closer to sunrise? Anyways, my headlamp started to die. Did I have batteries and other headlamps? yes, in my bin at the start, not on my person. Steve and I swapped headlamps at the lollipop - he could make it back with my headlamp.

Between loops, I raced as I trained and did a shot of Fireball as a performance enhancer. Yes, it really works if you do it right, and I felt fantastic on the first half of the second loop in the pre-dawn darkness. My headlamp started to die again, but I googled the sunrise time, which was less than an hour away.

It was so quiet and peaceful, and the air smelled deliciously of fresh spring flowers. It was easy to achieve my 2022 goal of actually running at night, by utilizing the "ultra shuffle" that I've been practicing. I started getting sleepy when on the 3 Bitches, but I woke myself up by throwing out my arms and taking deep breaths of that scented air.

Even though technically Team Mud, Sweat, and Fireball was last in the relay standings, I'm 99.9% sure that we were the only team with only 4 runners, which of course makes the race harder.

Teamwork makes the dream work!
(with Fireball bottle mascot)

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Twenty Twenty One (hundred miles)

It is once again time for the annual year in review post. Obviously, the BHAG that was achieved this year was my first 100 miler. Here's another picture of my buckle, because it is just that amazing.

bought from Molly's Custom Silver


As I write this post, I am at 3598.7K for the year. I ran 3612K in 2020, so I am on track to hit at least 3613K this year. I should aim for 3650K in 2022, in order to average 10K daily.


3 in person (Tally 24 hour, 3 Days in the Park, The Leftovers)
2 virtual (Valentine's Fatazz, Tail Chaser)
All ultra distance except The Leftovers.


2 - Niagara Winter E2E, Avon Trail.


- the 100 miler, obviously. Seeing so many friends take time from their busy lives to keep me company really meant everything to me.
- my first winter ultra.
- volunteering at more events than I ever have before. It's not just for karma points, it's SO FUN!

- the great times on and off the trail spent with friends at various events.


- Rolling my already permanently wonky right ankle some more and dooming myself to a life with an ankle brace.
- getting way more aches and niggles despite taking up mobility instead of yoga. Obviously I am not dedicated enough, or age is catching up to me.
- hiding behind a tree in some lady's yard for like an hour, because the shortcut back to the trail was in her yard and she sat out there talking on the phone the whole time.

Goals for 2022:

- at least 2022 miles. Maybe I can hit that goal before Halloween?
- NOT run a 100 miler. 
- I want to work on making myself run more during the night and when I'm tired.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

3 Days in the Park

Loop 1 of 92. Photo by Rachelle.

It's a goal 3 years in the making. On September 28, 2018, I publicly stated my intention to run a 100 miler in the next 5 years. At the time, I had run 1 50 miler and 1 100K. I felt like I needed more experience in the 50 mile+ distances so I ran one more 50 miler and 3 more 100Ks

I was planning on staging my own run to suit my needs: not too hilly or technical loops of between 5-10K, 48 hours, pacers allowed at any time, all trail/no road and in the fall/early winter and not too far from home.

Clay proposed 3 Days in the Park months ago, without major details until it was clear the event would happen. It fit all my needs except one: the course was a 1-ish (1.092) mile loop. I was really concerned that I'd go crazy from boredom, but since everything else was perfect, I signed up.

Rachelle drove me to the race start and ran the first loop (of 92) with me. I was the only person registered for 48 hours, so until Saturday morning at 9, the only registered runners on the course were me, K, Brad from Indiana, and Monica.

The first morning and afternoon were fairly uneventful. I was a little lonely by mid afternoon and messaged Lori that I would love for her to come keep me company, when Wendi showed up as well! 

gifts of food are always appreciated.
Thanks, Lori for the chicken pho!

Audrey was the next pacer for Friday overnight. It had rained off and on all day, but the course was still in relatively good shape. It was my pre-race plan to nap in the wee hours, but Audrey planned to stay until 4, so I decided to hold off on the biggest sleep until after she left, although I had a short 20 minute nap just before midnight. It was meant to be a bit longer, but my legs were aching and I wanted food more than sleep.

I took my hair down, took my shoes and socks off and napped quite soundly until 6. The sound of rain on my tent made it very peaceful and I woke up almost as refreshed as if I'd had a full night's sleep. There was just a couple of loops by myself in the pre-dawn before Brian arrived for the start of his 12 hour and Nina and Delano shortly after.

"Trails n' Tunes" should be a thing - musical geekery with Nina,
my student from looooooooong ago.

mid-morning with Brian, Delano and Xavier, 
thankfully minus the vuvuzela.

People have been asking what I least expected during the 100: I would definitely say it was needing poles for basically what was a flat loop (except for one short, steep hill). After about 50 miles it was very difficult to climb, even pushing on my quads. I put out a call on FB for anyone to stop by my house to grab the poles out of my car...

...but Michele and Wes arrived, with Michele's poles, which were not as light as mine, but a million times better than nothing! She also fed me clementines, as my hands were full. 

Wes: make an angry face!

Celebrating a new distance PB with Fireball shot #1.

Seeing Tank crewing K made me miss Greg terribly. He and B came to see me for just a few minutes. He also brought my poles.

Not dressed to run, but got a big hug.
📷 Kathryn

Heading in to the 2nd night final stretch, I had Rachelle, Josh, Lori and Agnes. The weather was wild in that there were clear skies with a million stars and then 20 minutes later a total downpour. With all the weather changes, and perhaps because of its own brand of magic, the loop never got boring. 
📷 Josh

Rachelle went to sleep and Agnes noticed some discrepancies from what her watch showed, and the official scoreboard (Clay, Andrea and some other helpers manually counted laps). I had lost count of laps before noon on the first morning and obviously was in no state to discuss numbers but Agnes went to talk and they gave me an extra loop based on her evidence.
The temperature was much colder the 2nd night and I put on my warmest clothes, which was adequate. At one point, we were talking about food (of course) and I thought that hot chocolate and Fireball would be a delicious combo. At the end of that loop, I asked for hot chocolate and like magic, it was ready by the time I finished the next loop. That was definitely warming!

I also ate another ramen, and Lori and I headed out, with Josh trailing behind. Agnes had gone to sleep so that she could drive me home after. Josh had brought no pants and his teeth were chattering very hard so Lori and I shooed him back to the warm tent. "no pants, no pacing!"

 Glowing red heaters scare the shit out of me. 

The most embarrassing thing that happened was around 80-90 miles, when I popped a squat on uneven ground, and tipped forward on my knees with my bare butt in the air. 
Josh borrowed Rachelle's pants, and warmed by Weird Roadie Gary's plain noodles in hot water "ramen", plus a candle under his butt, returned for the last loop. We woke Brian and Agnes up with 2 laps remaining, so they could see me finish.

Still not tired of the loop. It was simply beautiful, 
especially at night. 📷 Rachelle

I'm a 100 MILE FINISHER. Damn that sounds good!

All the thanks to Clay for putting together an extraordinary event, my longest distance being the smallest "race" I've ever done. Thanks to the crew for taking care of our every need: Andrea, Gary and the others whose names I didn't get Congratulations to the other runners for their achievements. And most of all, THANK YOU!!!!! to everyone who came out to support me, it really means everything that so many people took time out of their busy lives to help little old me achieve my huge goal. 💖💖💖

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Tally in the Valley 24 hour

 Tally 24 hour was a deferral from 2020. I knew I wanted to do a 24 hour race in preparation for the 100 miler. I think a lot of people deferred to 2022 because this race got green lighted on 3 weeks notice, but I thought I was prepared enough, having run the 108K two months ago.

Because of the short notice, I was only able to peak with a 35K long run. Normally for big races, I have my outfit planned weeks in advance, but I still had no idea what to wear the night before and it made me kind of anxious. Adding to the anxiety was the pressure I was putting on myself to hit a particular distance goal. So I just grabbed the first mint green skirt I saw and packed one more outfit for the next day. The skirt for day 1 doesn't have built in shorts so I wore spanx underneath. From previous experience, I knew the skirt would slide down a lot so I safety pinned the skirt to the spanx.

Agnes arrived to drive me to the race and help set up my new tent. It was really nice not to have to look around for a familiar face and bum some space.

📷 Agnes

The race started, and not too much happened in the first 12 hours. The spanx/skirt combo was NOT working at all, and I was hauling up the whole thing every 2 minutes, very annoying. The weather was great, cloudy, not too hot. Mid afternoon, it started to spit, then escalated to a major downpour. I switched from the Terraventures to the Kalenji shoes with amazing grip as it started to get really slippery on the hills. Aside from a few words with fellow racers, and a few volunteers, I was completely by myself and while I would have liked to have someone to talk to, I wasn't going insane from being in my own head.

The rain had stopped by the time Steve showed up at 9 pm, but the forecast was calling for more rain. My shirt had not dried at all, and felt miserably soggy, and I had chafing in the nether regions, so I changed to my other outfit with much difficulty, trying to wrestle damp clothes while lying on the tent floor. Steve put on his rain gear, a garbage bag skirt that is sure to be the next craze in ultra fashion.

This is a huge problem that I need to overcome, but when the sun goes down I seem to automatically lose the will to run. With the rain coming down hard, I ended up walking 99% of the 7 hours with Steve. I also regretted not owning/bringing a rain jacket, because being out in the pouring rain in the middle of the night is not fun.

video courtesy of Bodyrockintv

At 4 am, I was 13 loops in and needed 3 more loops to hit my BAM goal for the race. Steve did the math and said I could make it at the same pace, if I kept my breaks under 10 minutes. But Audrey was my next pacer, and she would ask me to run an easy downhill here, up to the next flag there, and as the sun came up I found the will to run again.

📷 Audrey

There was just over an hour to do the final 5K, and that made me want to push a bit harder to make sure I hit my goal, which I did, with 10 minutes to spare. There were a lot of friends at the finish, all screaming my name as I crossed the finish line. That was a new experience to me, and absolutely amazing.
📷 Kathryn D.

I didn't make my A goal of 17-18 loops, but I am happy with what I achieved (a PB distance) and with three 100K+ runs in the past 18 months, I feel somewhat prepared for the thick of 100 mile training coming up.

Monday, 31 May 2021

The Why: Tail Chaser Challenge 36 hours

 A number of time based virtual challenges popped up in the last year. In April 2020, I completed the Yeti 24 hr Ultra Challenge, where I ran 6x8K, every 4 hours, for 24 hours.

This year, I went for the 36 hour version of the Tail Chaser Challenge, running 13x8K, every 3 hours. I decided on 36 hours, because that is approximately how long I anticipate my fall 100 miler will take and I wanted to see how well I could handle staying awake for that long.

Drawing from some of the lessons learned from the Yeti challenge, I knew that with less time between runs, going home in between was definitely not an option. I did not start at night, because I definitely wanted to run 2 days and 1 night, as opposed to 2 nights and 1 day!

The original plan was to camp at Valens (yes me, the camping hater!) but of course that went out the window as the stay at home order was extended. I decided on Valens for the first day and move to Hilton Falls for the night/2nd day. 

Loop 1 6 am Saturday

I kept the first loop local, at Bronte, so I didn't have to get up even earlier to drive. 

Loop 2 9 am Saturday

📷 Josh
First run at Valens with Josh. Super windy and cold, although everywhere else besides the parking lot was much less windy and cold.

Loop 3 noon Saturday

My wonderful husband kept me company. I will admit that sometimes I don't enjoy running with him, but I did today. It was fun and relaxed.

He told me that when my parents came over to pick up the kid, they could not understand why I would do such a thing. My whys: Because I CAN. Because I want to challenge myself. Because I feel like I want to do this to train for the 100 miler.

Loop 4 3 pm Saturday

I sat in the car by myself between loops and was really bored, the time in between seemed to move so slowly. I ate, I drank some Coke. My ankle was starting to bother me, and I topped up the ibuprofen.

Loop 5 6 pm Saturday

My lovely friend Audrey (not to be confused with my road bike) came to run with me. There was one trail that I saw on the Valens map that was the only one I hadn't run yet, but we couldn't find it. I went from OK to loopy starving very suddenly, but Audrey had brought me ramen and made me eat it when we got back to the car. 

Loop 6 9 pm Saturday

📷 Steve
Venue change to Hilton and Steve as my night pacer. Kept it super simple with a straight out and back and no ish on the runs. Changed into warmer clothes (capris, wool base layer, vest). I cleared out my backseat before the run so I could finish and immediately lie down. Brushed my teeth and it helped in feeling less gross.

Loop 7 midnight Sunday

I stupidly kept the damp vest on while lying down, and didn't zip up the sleeping bag, and I was C-O-L-D, as the temperature was in the single digits. Didn't manage to sleep at all. I wanted to sleep but was also hungry, so I ate bacon in bed at 2:50 am.

Loop 8 3 am Sunday

I was so much warmer in the car without the vest, I finally figured out how to arrange the sleeping bag so that I was actually relatively comfortable and managed to sleep a bit. I really wanted hot soup at the end of this run, but that would take up precious sleep time, so I settled for eating a handful of chips instead. The worst thought I had before falling asleep was, "I've run 64K and still have 40 to go."

Loop 9 6 am Sunday

Slept again, with the sleeping bag completely covering my head, so I was startled when my alarm went off to see a bright light in the sky, "WTF is that? oh, the sun is up already." Josh rolled up at 5:45 and brought my tired ass a coffee. Finally made my ramen but neglected to bring utensils so I used some coffee stirrers as chopsticks. Innovation! 
 Coffee delivery 📷 Josh

I didn't really feel like running, so Josh and I hiked and enjoyed the beautiful, clear morning.

Loop 10 9 am Sunday

My lovely badass women crew of Lori, Agnes, and Wendi came for the next loop. Enjoyed Wendi's dirty coffee afterwards, and invented a new delicacy: bacon wrapped Timbits. 

Loop 11 noon Sunday

📷 Agnes
Without going into TMI detail, let's just say I had some bathroom issues that kept me from running much this loop. Ate more ramen, more bacon wrapped Timbits, some pickles, massaged my feet and calves, got some weird looks.


Loop 12 3 pm Sunday

Another loop with Agnes. Crunched some numbers to make sure I'd get my distance PB.

Loop 13 6 pm Sunday

📷 Josh
Agnes, Josh, Bogdan and Irina hiked the final loop with me. Josh's friend Rachelle brought me a pizza. 

📷 Josh

Final thoughts:

I'm SO grateful to my wonderful friends and family who came together to make this happen! I couldn't have done it without you. ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Mastering the secrets of mobility

 I recently tried a flexibility class and was discouraged when I was the only participant who couldn't achieve full splits. That led to me googling a 30 day split challenge, and while I am not much more flexible than before, I noticed that my runs felt better, as I hadn't stretched regularly in more than 10 years. 

It me, 2010-2020.

Then I won free access to the Agatsu Online Gym and was determined to make the most of it. There I discovered Sara-Clare's mobility class. The first class I did was hip-focused and greatly reduced hip/lower back pain that I've had for years! I always thought my pain was from stuck SI joints, but I have discovered that it's more from tight iliopsoas.

When I first tried foam rolling, I just did the steamrolling back and forth that is conventionally taught. Later, someone introduced me to Mobility Mastery and then followed by the ideas of Kelly Starrett, where you release adhesions with the pin and stretch method.

Mobility is not yoga. It's not static stretching. It's rolling to release knots, some PNF stretching, some bodyweight strengthening and flows to tie it all together.

Working from the ground up.

As I get older, I realize now that my wonky ankle can have a chance to regain range of motion, my body needs regular maintenance to feel good.