Monday, September 21, 2015

Older but Wiser ! FROSTY 50 Km

Frosty 50 km was my FIRST 50 K  in 2009.  I've waited 6 years to do it again. For various reasons, I would register, but could not make it.  In 2009  I was in significantly better shape, and was much more serious about my training than I am now. Years later,  I'm a little OLDER , a little HEAVIER, and a little more INJURED ... but WISER !  RESPECT the first climb.

The weather was perfect 7 deg C and dry. I was totally relaxed, looking forward to playing on the trails in Manning park.    (vs. 2009- super nervous !)

And a climb it was ! I went up for a good 2.5-3 hours. Took my TIME because:
a. I 'm just slow
b. My calf cramps if I go too fast at the start - my 'governer'
c. I have RESPECT for the first climb because in 2009, my husband and I rocked it in under 3 hours, but he bonked on the second half.

The road went up forever, thankfully, it went right into a beauty singletrack up into the alpine and out into the exposed mountaintop. I took the time to stop, look back, and take in the views after climbing some odd 4000 feet.

  By the top, I was  dizzy/nauseaus, and couldn't eat due to the altitude at 8000 feet. I lost sight of the markers in the mist  ( that's the other peak you can't see in this pic)  and was feeling a bit lost & confused. So I stopped, got my heart rate down, forced myself to eat and got my head back. Still couldn't see the flagging, but figured, I should probably just go UP ! Scrambling over rocks, I find the flagging again and make it to the top- whew !
 BOMBED back down with a couple of fun girls. I hit the bottom in about 4 hours- a whole HOUR slower than before. BUT I felt GREAT.

I caught up to Rick, a guy who just did a 200 mile run FIVE days prior to this race- crazy. He was super strong, powerhiking  the uphill switchbacks. I could not run as fast as he could hike ! Of course the switchbacks went on forever till the next aid station. Then I tackled the infamous skyline hills where no one knows how many there are because we are all delirious by that time. But I had it together- I KNEW there were 4 !

  After finishing the 4th, I was confused to see ANOTHER climb. Hmmm, maybe they don't count the first? I was already second guessing myself when I hit ANOTHER climb ! argh. By this point, my  right hip flexors were spazzing & shut down so I grabbed my leggings to lift my leg on the steep climbs. It worked well.

By the meadow, I caught up to some fellow runners Scott, Liam, and Marc. It was nice to see some familiar faces! Fellow "Buntzen Burners"  .  I enjoyed having  "down time" running  down off Skyline with Marc. So proud that I finished two decents without falling ! and then I hit the FLAT  and freakin' FELL ! really? clothes torn, number flew off, gear from my pack splayed everywhere.  Gathered myself together, joined back up with my friend Marc and ran/ walked our way back through the last flat 7 km.

FINISH ! 6 years later, & only 4 min slower. Marc hamming it up at the end ! apparently I'm annoyingly happy.
What is cooler than finishing a 50 k? finishing it with FRIENDS at the end ! Compared to 2009, where just hubby n' I finished, this time  there was a huge group of friends cheering us in. The ultrarunning community is so supportive!  Oh my, and then there was the 'after party" - that's a whole other story.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


 3 weeks post race, I still look back at FATDOG  with fondness and joy in my heart. I love to record my memories before they're forgotten... and as the races get longer ( and I get older) , it gets harder to remember!

My husband wanted to  FINISH a 50 mile run the year he turned 50 and we accomplished this goal together spending a day in paradise! With over 10,000 feet elevation gain (climbing 7000 ft in the final 20 miles), Jim picked a tough one.

LEARNING from our DNF 
Looking back to our Bryce 50 mile attempt (and my first dnf) , I now realize one of the  MOST important things we got out of that DNF was that we TRAINED HARDER  for  fatdog- we had a new respect for the distance-and an increased focus on high mileage weeks and  powehiking hills.

We start at  Cayuse.  I insist on setting the pace for my husband the first 2-3  hours, pulling him back  as he often succumbs to his starting adrenaline rush. I know it killed him to start so slow, watching others pass.    There was a pretty undulating  dewdney trail above the highway. We already ran into some 120 milers and were already in awe of them!


We get to  Cascades aid station where they handed us some safety vests for a short road section.
 But first, an out n' back, where we had to tear a page from the RD's "juicy novel"  (to prove we did the full distance). I actually read the page- it was juicy!  Then finally onto the road . It was actually kinda neat to see all the hubcaps and old wrecks  off  the treacherous corners of the highway.

This is Jim doing his "FORREST GUMP" impersonation. ------>>>>>>

TO SUMALLO 16 km  and SHAWATUM 33 km

Into sumallo grove we went,. Jim downed some pizza, and headed over the bridge onto beautiful skagit trail running along the river.   We found our happy pace and were essentially running ALONE already! 

 This beautiful trail took us to centennial trail. A long flat trail that seemed to go on forever. Several runners were questioning if we passed the next aid or not , even smelled the food! Mmmm. Grilled cheese, must be there soon! Well, it turned out to be a waft of food that worked its way 30 min down the trail. Such a tease!  Finally, we hit Shawatum aid station  and I ordered up one of those cheese tortillas ! After the out 'n back from that aid station, we hit the trail again.


 The heat was bearing down and Jim's big engine was overheating, so he slowed to a powerhike- which was the right thing to do except the mosquitos were relentless at this point . Seemed like I got bit every 5 seconds!  (and thats with bug spray!) Next time I will wear a bugnet cuz they really wore me down. I was
 F-bombing so much , my husband started to question who I was! We  hit skyline aid station seemingly quickly.
.....and an ANGEL  arrived before us;
"Anyone want a fruit smoothie?"  - hell yeah!
We spent some time here, changed our socks and stuffed our vests with food in  preparation for  what would be a grueling long  uphill powerhike with NO  more major aid stations for the next 6-7 hours.


Like a tank, Jim pulled me up the skyline switchbacks. This was definately his strong section.

The views were starting to arise and we were really getting into the beauty of it all !

Just my luck, I get a hole in my favorite pair of socks at the heel. obviously, since they were my favs, I wore them too much. I stopped at camp mowitch  to apply some moleskin. Jim wanted to enjoy the peacefullness on the mountaintop so he asked if we could let a couple of girls pass us so he diddnt have to listen to their chit chat (as us girls do) or their bear calls. I gladly conceded and the rest of the run was almost romantic!

Leaving camp Mowich- cool 'basin'  ------------------>>>


Off to my favorite section- Skyline II & I  . Epic 360 degree views!

 Roller coaster up n' downs , we just kept powerhiking the hills as they popped up before us. We watched  the sun slowly set on the mountains as we ran.

As darkness fell on skyline I , we could see the sun still setting mountain ranges away! .

 I asked Jim to KISS me, but we forgot we had headlamps on and temporarily blinded each other. Once the spots were gone from our eyes, we continued on until the descent down skyline. (K, this is a photo of someone else, but it was exactly like this! )

FINISH ! 80 km 
Bombing down skyline in the dark was fun. Thank god for Jims  superpowered headlamp ! after a few hours in the dark, we were shot out into glowstick heaven. Looked like a carnival! . A little run around the lake and over the finish line in 13:20.
WE DID IT !!! 

1. Changing socks is wonderful ! 
2. Your 'good old socks' are just that- OLD- get a new pair of your fav's before a race. 
3. Listen to the Race Director. If she says 'put more bug spray on at the aid station' -do it ! If she says " carry an extra handheld" do it ! I was happy I did ! 
4. Training and racing together is challenging for a relationship, but it builds stronger bonds in the end. 
5. Beer tastes really good after 50 miles. 

Friday, June 20, 2014


I had my FIRST DNF last weekend  at Bryce 50 mile and am rather STOKED about it !
I am not encouraging people to DNF- a  point of ultrarunning is certainly  to push yourself to your limits.
I am encouraging those who DNF to EMBRACE  it for what it is ! Do NOT HATE yourself (as I saw so many runners do) - such a waste, when you pay for the race/travel etc !

Here's the story; 
28 miles in, my husband got ill at the high altitude and could not eat/drink without throwing up. He spent 2 hours trying to regroup, but just could not. The hardware in my old tibia fracture was giving me greif, and I thought it wise to pull out with him too. That aid station was more like a MASH unit with many people sick/bleeding noses/ etc at the altitude.  So anyways, we ended up spending time with others  at the remote aid station, waiting for a ride.... and this is when it occurred to me.... there are actually some....


1. You get to hang out at the aid station and graze,  get into the vibe and people in the same situation.
2. You get to reminisce on the beautiful parts of the run. 

2. You get to STOP and take in the views at that aid station (views at 27 mile- Nice! ). Too bad Jim diddn't see this, as he was busy being nauseated.
3. You get to be a SPECTATOR and watch others come in, cheer them on- or help them if they fall over!
     ... It was great to cheer people on! but I held back trying not to be too 'perky' for those who were ill.

4. You get to MEET people who are also DNF ing and hear their stories ! It felt like a 'support group' .
     ... one guy, who reported to have done several 100 km/100 milers made us feel better by saying ;
          "pfft, I DNF all the time ! " I guess he just picks and choses to finish when he feels good- nothing wrong with that !

5. You get a COOL 4X4 backroad  ride home from your remote aid station, with some crazy driver.
     .... Seriously,  the next day my NECK was more sore from hitting the roof of the car than my legs were!

6. You  have ENERGY  the next day to GIVE BACK to the race !  We went to the finish line and drove 100 milers back to their hotels. They GREATLY appreciated it, and it made us feel much better!  I frown on people who DNF and just go home to pout- what a selfish  waste !

and my FAVORITE !!! .... 

7. You get to RECOVER  faster, meaning you might even be able to hit a cool run/hike in the area, over the  next couple of days! an And we CERTAINLY did ! Bryce canyon ROCKED ! ... literally.

So Don't hate yourself, LEARN from the experience, make the MOST of it... besides,  there is always ANOTHER RACE ! 


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mesquite Canyon 50 km.


This was a run of many FIRSTS: 
1.We actually booked the holiday BEFORE  I found the run (as opposed to booking a holiday around a run)
2. My husband and I ran together as a TEAM (and not competing against each other) 
3. First HOT run for me in the desert - ever. 
4. First time I threw the 'competitiveness' out the window and planned to just FINISH ! = stress free fun!

So, I summarized the run into this short video. Unfortunately, I could not video some of the more  CRAZYFUN TECHNICAL parts cuz, well, I was busy trying to not kill myself. Ha ha ! 


Stats for the run: for my future reference: 
Calories- about 1000. Larabar, chips, honeywaffle, carbopro
Salt Tabs- about 7 
Water- 7 liters ! yikes! and only pee'd once ! das hot! 
Time- 7 hours 
Funny: Hubby asked me to "let him win - by a second", I did. But apparently we got our bibs switched and I ended up beating him by a second! ha ha ! 
Post run- felt great, no headache/nausea, still married . Good recovery. 

Place:  Me:  1/5 age- ha! only 5 crazy ladies like me! , 12/21 Females, 43/79 OA  
           Jim:  13/23 Age, 32/58 M, 44/79 OA 

Monday, August 12, 2013


I EXPECTED Gary Robbins to make it a tough course, and he EXCEEDED expectations!
9000ft (2700 m) Up/ 9500ft (2900m) down , and like, 98% technical trail, and in 30 degree heat.
= CONQUERING a new level of discomfort!!!!

 Race summarized by my thoughts:

Start: " My calf is cramping already? Gotta slow down"
            .... " Is that an old lady and her grandchildren passing me?"
9 Km: " oh GOOD, a hill, I can powerhike and maybe get the feeling back into my foot"
13 km (and 800 m, 2600 ft up): "when will the hill stop !!, I'm STILL going up ! Up, up, up "
14 km: " Yaaay Down !!!"... Yaay, wa hoooo... hooo. hooooo..., "
20 km: "yoo hooo! hoo..oooh, OK, still going down here..still down...more down will it ever end?
             "Achilles is going to snap off anytime now. I'll pull out at 23 km aid station.
             Good idea. I'm a Physio, I know its the smart thing to do. "

25 km: " why am I still running? , IDIOT"
                                            .... Oh yeah,  THIS IS why ( Pic below ) I want to see more!

26 km:  "Its freakin' HOT up this hill !  "I... don' eat "

              " Bar?- ugh!, try a gel?-double ugh!thank god for Carbopro or I'd fall over"
             "what, bra chaffing too? , and why are my socks falling off? anything else?" Bring it !

28 km: "This hill looked much easier in the elevation profile"

             "Thats it, I think I've passed out and I'm in a nightmare of neverending switchbacks"

30 km: "Finally, downhill to the next aid station, I'll pull out the lube for the chaffing.
   ( I  look down)-->toe grab, FLY  foreward over an embankment!!
             but my inner monkey kicked in and  I grabbed a tree mid-air and 180 swing myself back   onto the trail! Impressed with myself, Feelin' pretty cool at that point, but knowing my shoulder is gonna hurt later.

33 km:  " That was the longest 5 miles  I've ever ran in my                life" (between 15-20 mi aid stn, 400 m up)
             " Soo HOT in the back valley here! The sun is relentless, not even a breeze-thats it! I'm
                        never doing a desert race  ... take me back to the trails!"
              - I could wring the sweat out of my shirt at this point, just drenched!
              -My ears clogged up and it felt like I was running in a tunnell, ...and I find out later this is due to decreased blood volume(dehydration) affecting the inner ear fluid.  K, duh, drink more! but I was already drinking almost double normal and was afraid of that old hyponatremia fear... Still learning obviously.

 34 km:

 " what? ANOTHER HILL ? Gary Robbins (course designer) is a Very Very BAAAD MAN".   Nice guy, but starting to think he is a SADIST!" Oh, look how sweet  and happy he looks in this pic on race day... but if you look DEEPER, there is a Glimmer of evil in those eyes.

Only those who run his races, truly know that glimmer.
40 Km:" Oh, starting to cramp up- grab more trusty salt tablets... what! they fell out! really?
               ( I held myself together by sucking the salt off my pretzels.)

43 km: " Quads cramping BAD... but they look kinda cool
                   .... really muscular...wish I took a pic. " 
                  But it FELT like they looked like this   ----------->>>>

44 km: " I thought we DESCEND into Squamish, why am I STILL going UPHILL? "
             " I got Nothing, I'm walking up the hills"
- Looking at my splits, this last  10km was super slow. I guess the heat/cramping got to me and  'the wheels fell off ' at 40 km. Could only march up the hills, even walked some flats. Ran out of Drive.

46 km: "Finally, Down to the finish"
49 km: (on the road, into town) " Thats it, I've lost interest, its too hot,
               I'm going to DNF now"(joking)
       So, I start walking, then Mr. Jason Louttit (amazing runner) see's me walking, gives me crap and says 'its only 400 m away, run it " Fine, I ran it in, only cuz he told me to.

I felt like the 'running gods' threw the book at me this race. So many running issues I never experienced before  ALL happened on this day. Maybe it was the 30 deg heat, the tough course, or maybe just a bad day for me. In the end with my 8 hour finish time was my slowest 50 km time ever,I should be mad,  strangely,  I'm very  pleased with a  new milestone: overcoming pain, nausea, cramping etc. I've done several 50 kms, but this one is the first to really PUSH my limits, really, thinking " I can't go anymore" ... but I did, I FINISHED !!!  and learned so much!

Kudo's to the Race directors of Squamish 50, if it wasn't for their great organization,  aid stations/volunteers, and beauty views to keep me going,  I probably would not have finished the  super challenging, technical course they presented.

-You'll conquer a new level of 'discomfort'
- You will be challenged! your limits will be pushed!
-Fabulous trail markings... you will NOT get lost
-Amazing view's
-Great Race directors, they have it ALL covered.
-Excellent aid stations. Even a suprise Freezie station!Loved the freezie guy.
-Beer gardens at the finish.
-Nice Swag bags
-Meal ticket at the finish line .
-Beautiful medals

So, if you're in for a Sadistic, Punishing,Challenging 50 km, where you're safely taken care of, sign up for this next year:  August 9, 10, 11 for 25 km/50km/50 mile... or all 3!

Heather V.
As I get more pics of the race, I'll add them. I tried to add Mr. Robbin's athlete site, but it appears to have been hacked, will try later.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sunny Day at Sun Mountain 50 K



First off, the scenic drive through the North cascades  and methow valley was absolutely amazing! Beautiful views everywhere I looked, but the best was yet to come....



THE FIRST STAGE  ( to 8 mi aid stn) started  at 10 am with beautiful rolling trails alongside   lake then tucked into a cool creekside trail.


I had a nice visit with my friend Sara, but as the hill grew steeper, I couldnt keep up with her , so had to temporarily "unfriend" her as I struggled up the long incline.  I also had a brief chat with my training partner Lara as she passed, and  then met several others on route. Up I went, through fields of beautiful yellow flowers, looking back to the valley views below. As usual, my calf siezed up, then my foot went numb. I kept run/hiking, pondering "if it was circulatory would my toes fall off if I kept going?"  Thankfully , I got my feeling back on a nice flat section. Another little hill, then the first aid station! It was well used as the heat of the day came down upon us earlier than expected.


THE SECOND STAGE (to 17 mi aid station) started off on a hot, dry  road, ugh... Thankfully it tucked back into a little hilly trail that led me out to a knoll with amazing vistas up TWO valleys! The knoll, the valleys, the flowers- I broke out in song "the hills are alive with the sound of music". With pure glee I barrelled down the fun single track, wahooing away, feeling at one with nature, folicking in the woods. At the bottom of the hill, about 14 miles in, my legs were telling me to stop having so much fun and slow down or they'll blow up. So, I took it easy to the 17 mi aid station, where I spent an extraordinary amount of time reuelling, refilling my pack and dousing myself with water as I was feeling the heat at 1 pm. Spring training in Vancouver did not prepare me at all for the heat the  day.


THE THIRD STAGE (to 25 mile aid station) had a very enjoyable single track trail undercover and out of the sun. It seemed to go down forever at a nice decline I could just relax into. Occasionally I would get an open flower filled section that would remind me how hot it really was. Then i'd get a reprieve back into the forest. The happy down didn't  last forever,  I was slapped back into reality powerhiking up a series of switchbacks under the blaring sun.  it was pleasing to know we got to do 2 loops, meaning I'd be back in the happy forest again. After the second loop, instead of going up, I followed the usual exceptional marking along the side of the mountain, the sunny, HOT north east side.  I was running through beautiful hillsides of flowers.

 Not only huge yellow flowers, but purple lupines, and some white cactus type flowers. Of couse cactus type flowers, cuz it was so HOT, and there was no cover.  The heat was getting to me, literally, as my quads started cramping. Yikes, I've never cramped in a 50 km, let alone only 3.5-4 hours in! So I started taking my salt tablets every 1/2 hr instead of hourly, simply because I would cramp up every half hour.  After pushing through one of the many cow gates, and climbing over a fence using  some man made steps, I was getting that real cowboy feeling of Winthrop!

 FRIGGIN' 4TH STAGE ( the last 5 miles) included a lot of F-bombs in my vocabulary. The volunteers at the third aid station were most helpful, sending me off in good spirits for the final leg. After running 25 miles, the RD added to the "Fun" by having us crawl UNDER  a barbwire fence!. I felt sorry for the tall guys trying to get back up again. I headed off into the sagebrush, heading up what I thought was the final hill.  It was so hot on this section of the

trail, even the flowers were wilted and curled up! Rounding the corner, I see runners comming down a steep hill and signs for an out and back. Argh!. Too steep for me to run,  and feeling a bit woozy,I concede to powerhike it. It was one of those relentless, character building hills,  where you think you're summiting it only to see the next wave of people getting smaller and smaller as they go up into the distance (Insert more F-bombs here). 

Finally, THE TOP ! worth every step with its 360 degree views- AMAZING !  I had a brief "I'm the king of the world" moment, then, "oh, gotta go back down now". 

I let gravity pull me down the hill as fast as I could control! Essentially a controlled fall.  Hitting the road at the bottom was like, well, hitting a road... and Wading through thigh high pavement. Meeting some friends and family on the road was a huge boost...amazing how things like that pick you up. On the 1 mile trail to the finish I chose to run in the sun, walk in the shade.   Crossing the finish line in 5:20, I exclaim "wheres the lake!".

As per usual, Rainshadow running put out a beautiful, well marked course with great post race festivities,  laidback supportive atmosphere, and pre dravvn prizes.  I've done 2 of his races and highly recommend his series!

It was so great to reconnect with so many other ultrarunners at this  event !


Heather V

Friday, April 12, 2013

Staying Inspired

How to Stay Inspired

My first 'Burnout' 

I started with a 5km, then 10 km, worked up to 50 kms, and a few 50 milers ....usually finishing midpack to top 10.  I  was super keen initially, but I realized that to REALLY excell at running  and 'place' I had to make MAJOR committments. Plus  I did not want to continue to give up my  entire weekend  training  for longer distances at the expense of my family/social life, and... just so many OTHER things I want to do in life. why run if I'm not aiming to 'place"?.. get points, maybe even a $2 medal ? why run if I'm not going to conquer new distance limits or get faster?

This lack of direction in addition to  a few nagging injuries resulted in a lack of motivation and/or what one would call 'Burnout'. 

Now, how did I wrap my head around things to get back into it?  This is what worked for me:  

It was always a PUSH. More, longer, better, faster.... You name it.  For the first time in years, I have STOPPED pushing.  This does NOT mean I have stopped TRYING ! It means I have STARTED ENJOYING even MORE !

Anyone suffering from burnout, should SERIOUSLY volunteer. 
You get to stand outside that fishbowl and look in. You truly appreciate how hard it is for the elites, as much as the last place finishers.. AND you have EQUAL respect for them ALL !  I shake my head at how I was once hard on myself for a not so great run, when I've seen people go thru tougher times and still finish, sure, not top place finishers, but top notch runners! 

As an added bonus, you get to meet other GREAT people with a similar mindset!


a)Just to run:
 Just running aimlessly seems so, aimless.... and a kid in
the woods... and isn't that wonderful!
b) To Enjoy the scenery  Somehow in my maturity, I can now accept however I finish in a race. I
can have either  a good day, or a bad day, it doesn't really bother me anymore, cuz,  I was just slower that day for whatever reason...maybe I took more time to take pictures, enjoy the scenery and meet other runners !  This is me running with camera in hand at the Gorge Waterfalls run, ended up with a great video at the end ...and one of my more enjoyable runs

c) Use your fitness to enjoy life !
Using the fitness worked on for years to adventure through life and enjoy its splendours!
             running from Palm Springs to Pines ... that other people take the tram up to!
             Running 10 miles barefoot on the beach in Maui ! (tho my calves hated me later)
YEAH , I want to do MORE of THAT !

d) My Friends !

 They are the reason I'm still running. It is really the only time I get to visit (AND get a workout in!)  On occasion, I might even have time to go for a coffee (or beer afterwards) ... in case I diddn't get enough visiting in over the 4 hour run ! lol !

My friends also INSPIRE me. Some have gone through tougher times than myself, some are newbies
that are not afraid to push their limits, others truly enjoy their  races, taking their time to take pictures and FULLY experience what the race has to offer!

4. CHANGE IT UP ! ...
Signed up for a few half marathons to scare the crap out of me, ! Maybe even a triathalon.... hitting the bike ( but having a hard time getting to swim). M ust admit, the change of intensity and type of training has been beneficial to muscle balancing, dissolving some old nagging injuries.

On review of my past events in prep for this blog , I realize that in the last 2-3 years, I've entered almost
EVERY race with either a life STRESS ( tax audit, family death) or a personal ILLNESS before  the run or INJURY during the race. I realize a large percentage of the OTHER ATHLETES , are probably going through the SAME  thing!! So we should just accept there there will ALWAYS be something going on, but  NOT use it as an excuse ! 



Those in training think of microcycles, leading to macrocycles, periodization, B-races leading up to A-races, points, you name it.  In all this scheduling, what is forgotten is the BIG PICTURE ! (I guess you could call it the "MEGACycle")

... and the only way to accomplish this is to take care of yourself and STAY FIT !

Excellent, I'm Psyched... time to go for a RUN !!!!