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.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

The Year That Was 2020


Top 9, that I don't think accurately represented my 2020.

I reached my goal of 2020 miles almost 2 months earlier than years past. I am currently working to reach 3600K by NYE. 

In person races: 2

Badges: 4 (Thames Valley, Grand Valley, Elgin, Lambton Shores) Bonus: Speed River E2E, no badge available. 😓

Ultras: 3 (Elgin Trail, TVT, Adrenaline Dawn Breaker 106K) - not counting GVRAT 1000K, Yeti 24h Challenge, or the 43K I ran on Tally in the Valley day.

It was my goal to run 3x100K this year to prepare for my first 100 miler in 2021, I will have to settle for a distance PB at Dawn Breaker and my annual mileage PB as adequate preparation.


- being present at the finish for for THREE awesome friends' first ultras. 

- running 42.2K for my 42nd birthday.

- exploring unmarked but local trails when the main trails were closed during the spring lockdown.

- having wonderful support with pacing and crewing for the 106K.


- tripping on a washed out hole on a suburban gravel trail, eating shit, and spraining my ankle in all directions. I don't think my ankle will ever be the same again.

- getting my legs really stuck in a swamp on a solo run somewhere on the GVT. 

Goals for 2021: 100 miler! Currently working on at least 1 Bruce Trail club winter E2E. First winter ultra. I'm afraid to make more solid plans beyond that, with the uncertain future.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Lambton Shores

Way back in the days of yore (2019), I saw a FB post that showed the largest collection of non Bruce Trail badges that I had ever seen. I have been working on collecting all those same badges since. 

The Lambton Shores trails are different in that there are 7 short trails to run, and 7 questions about each trail to answer. The map is a bit misleading in that it looked like it was possible to connect all 7 trails by foot, but upon Googling, it would probably be at least 50K of road running, so we drove, a much wiser choice. The easy/moderate/difficult ratings are from the brochure.

1. Mystery Falls (moderate/difficult)


The falls was very close to the parking lot, and the gorge was accessed via a rope down the muddy bank. All singletrack, somewhat hilly and muddy made this a slow go.

2. Forest Trails (easy)

Very very easy rail trail. Not much to write about. There's no forest, that's the name of the town.

3. Ipperwash Dunes and Swales (easy)

This was my favourite, with flowing singletrack through magical pine/cedar forests and multiple boardwalks across the swales. I guess we were busy running because I don't have a picture from this trail! The beach was just down the street and I did take a picture of gorgeously blue Lake Huron.

4/5. L Lake Management Area/Forested Dunes Nature Reserve (easy) << HECCIN LIES

These two trails shared the same street address and I thought they would be on the opposite sides of the road, but turns out L Lake is a very short loop and Forested Dunes branches off at the top of the L Lake loop. Forested Dunes is the red trail in the green boundary, which I promptly described as "sperm shaped".

The first couple kilometers were uneventful, leaf covered fairly flat singletrack. Then all of a sudden the trail vanished and we were in a hell of branches, brambles, mud, and murky puddles.

We were screaming non-stop F bombs at this point.

Bushwhacked to a bamboo grove that led to nowhere and tried to find our way out only to find that we had gone in a circle (the "sperm head"). No way out except back through the muck.

There is no trail.

6. Lambton County Heritage Forest (easy/difficult)

There were three trails here that were impossible to do all of without adding on a lot more distance by doing some out and backs, so we devised a route by running the outer perimeter. The parts that were easy was flat singletrack, and the difficult parts involved fairly major climbs up a ridge and then lots of rolling hills at the top of the ridge.

Carvings from a teaching circle near the trailhead.

7. Ausable River Cut Conservation Area (easy/moderate)

We headed to the final trail, that was only 2K long. Lori didn't bother carrying her pack and I switched to my short run Orange Mud pack. The first kilometer was really flat and we said, "this is not moderate at all!". It was the golden hour and the colours of the river were beautiful.

We saw a boy trying to push his bike up a huge sand dune and we were really glad that the trail stayed flat along the river. Then it happened.

With less than 1K to go, there was a ridiculously steep climb up a sand dune. I would say with the soft sand, and the angle of the hill, it was one of the most difficult climbs I'd ever done. Fortunately there was a chair to rest and enjoy the sunset for a few minutes before heading back to the car.

📷 Lori

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

I did it all for the cream puff

(with minimal apologies to Limp Bizkit)

I did it all for the cream puff
Come on
The cream puff
Come on
So you can take that cream puff
And stick it up your, yeah!
Stick it up your, yeah!
Stick it up your, yeah!

I signed up for The Bad Thing right when it opened at midnight, I heard that the race was sold out by 12:07. Crazy to think this is the last in person race of the year. Two major changes was that the race started at a park in Auburn instead of the hall, and would be out and back instead of point to point. I should have reread my old blogs more carefully, because both times I wrote that the worst part was between 30-35K on the p2p course and I trained crazy hills to prepare for this. Before the race, I talked to Hellen, one of the RD's and she said, "it'll be much easier without the up-and-down parts!" 

There was a socially distanced kit pickup, stayed relatively warm near the fire pits and was motivated by really loud AC/DC. The louder AC/DC is, the more motivating it is, because science. There were also two waves for each distance, and being a sloth runner, I was in the final wave. Before I knew what was happening, the first water crossing was there.  The water was so cold, it took my breath away. I made sure to wear shoes that drained quickly, and wool socks, so thankfully my legs and feet had feeling again after only a few minutes.

There was quite a bit of rain in the days leading up to the race, and the trail was quite soggy, so I kept my eyes down. After about 3K, I turned onto a road that was unfamiliar and also had no flags, but I figured it was a straight shot so maybe that was the reason for no markers? I probably should have backtracked, but DID NOT and came to a T where there were flags in both directions, so I turned right to keep the river on my left and to get back on course. Later, I suggested to one of the RDs that maybe a big arrow sign could be put at that junction and he said, "Patty, you've been running trails long enough and done this race enough times to know you should be following blazes." That was a nasty burn, but he was 100% right.

I reached the turnaround point at 13K, maybe the wrong route that I took was longer, or maybe it was trail math, doesn't really matter. 

There is a row of apple trees that usually bear glorious fruit, but this year was slim pickins and thankfully I wasn't relying upon them completely for my race nutrition strategy.

In the second water crossing, staring at the fast moving water under my feet made me really dizzy. To top things off, I must've rolled my ankle on the rocks but couldn't feel it due to the icy water. I definitely felt it as the feeling returned to my legs and feet in the last 100 metres of road to the finish. I enjoyed this year's finish, as it was much less hilly and mostly downhill instead of the usual road grind.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Aravaipa Running Adrenaline Dawn Breaker 106K

Of course Sulphur 100K got postponed, I have kept up training for the race because I was planning on doing the distance no matter what, because I feel it necessary to gain more experience doing 100K+ before attempting 100 miles in 2021. Then as things usually happen, I saw the perfect virtual race. Adrenaline Dawn Breaker 106K. What's 6K more?!

I chose Wildwood Conservation Area because a) it was open and b) I enjoyed running there during Rugged Raccoon. I did the first 6K solo, out and back in the other direction than the main loop. It was not difficult to convince people to come out to keep me company.

 Socially distanced hello to Bogdan. 📷Lori 

Lori, Bogdan and Dan came out for loop 1. We took the Field of Burrs loop, which made the loop a bit too long, so I didn't do it again.
📷 Lori Me, Bogdan and Dan
Refueled with a lemon-lavender donut from Lady Glaze.

Lori stuck around for a second loop, and Agnes and Delano joined us. I had had a poor sleep the night before, and I started feeling very tired. Salty snacks helped a bit to revive me. 

Tired enough for a trail nap. 📷 Lori

Towards the end of loop 2, we passed a man, who teaches Lori's son, we had passed him at the beginning of loop 1 and he seemed fairly impressed by my goal, but this time, he asked Lori why I was so slow - big talk for a guy who didn't finish 23K in 8 hours and without the balls to say it to my face!

A GVRAT1000k new tradition: pose with yellow gates.
A changing of the guard for the evening. Steve had paced me from 60-80K at Sulphur 2017 and offered to bring it home this year. We made sure to bring headlamps, warm clothes and headed out into the night. The night was filled with critters: bounding deer, worms sneaking back into the ground at our footsteps, a weasel fighting with a mouse, carp, turkeys, June beetles (gross!), mysterious eyes staring into the headlamp glow, and flappy things (birds or bats?) unseen but flapping very closely overhead.

Before loop 3. 📷 Lori
It would have been so easy for me to call it quits after 3 loops, I told Steve not to let me quit. Slowly the darkness began to lift.

My first time seeing a second sunrise.
My watch showed low battery for the 2nd time and immediately died before I could attach the charger, so I had to start a 2nd run. I was sure the watch had read 98 something when it died, so Steve and I had a disagreement with how much there was left to run.

When I got home, it was an ISH run, according to my watch.

During this run, I achieved new PBs in 50 mile, 100K, longest distance run, and highest weekly mileage. I ran 106K in less time than it took me to run 100K in 2017. I am feeling confident in running 24 hours at Tally in the Valley, whether the race happens officially or not. I am proud at having organized such an epic event on my own. I am immensely grateful for all the people who came out to support me. ❤💕💖❤💕💖