Saturday, November 12, 2011

LESSONS LEARNED from my first 50 mile run:

Having a week to process this, I thought I would make note of "things I learned" from my first 50 mile run for future reference:

Lesson  #1. YES, you CAN do more than you think you can !!
Lesson  #2. Pains will come and go, and you can run through most of them... but keep a mental list of those areas needing work. For me thats ITB stretches (with supportive glut med strengthening) and upper body strength.  Tired arms------>>>>>
Lesson #3. If you have EXTRA supplies, PACK them. You never know what you'll lose in the excitement  leading up to the race. In my case it was the mandatory headlamp. Lucky Whistler sold them !
Lesson #4. NOT everyone wants to play and socialize on a run like I do. Some are much more serious. Some enjoy the 'slog'

I need to pick up on that and respect their serious attempt for a 'time' or 'place'

Lesson #5. ICE baths WORK! I had mine day 2/day3(when inflammation peaks) and no muscle soreness at work on Monday.

Lesson #6. Careful planning of calories/salt tabs, water etc prior to the race pays off at the end when  you are not exactly thinking straight. I had care packages each loop that gave me nutrition for each lap, in addition to some sort of 'treat' to look forward to.
Lesson #7. If you usually wear ie. a size 7.5 shoe, but the salesman insists you are only a 7- Get the LARGER size, your toenails will thank you.
Lesson #8. Those long runs are NOT a waste of time.  Even if  the race you trained for is cancelled, the  endurance base accomplished seems to have some staying power... how long? I don't know, but my last long run was 8 weeks prior to this one. I was able to tap into my summers work for a fall run... Hay in the barn baby!

Heather V.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


If this run was a hotel, I would call it a" 5 star". It was very luxurious running. Great information,  organization, trail markings, aid stations, volunteers, and even port a potty heaven- you name it, you were well cared for. Being a newbie to the 50 mile distance, I highly recommend this run.

I have trained for two 50 milers this summer- both cancelled due to funerals etc. By Sept I was frustrated with 'wasting my time' doing all those long runs and decided to put together a team for the Whistler 50 relay (formerly H2H). I shortened my runs, trying to pick up speed... but kept  up with mini doubles 2 hr/3 hr sat/sun runs with my husband. Well, the team fell apart.

Instead of being frustrated again, I decided to be positive and ACT on what I wanted to do.... I signed up for the Whistler 50 mile run anyways, but as a SOLO.  Two birds with one stone !  Run in whistler AND do my first 50 mile . Attending to unfinished business.

Being raiseed on a farm, thats what I hope I had. My last 4 hour run was 8 weeks prior to the race...maybe it wasn't a 'waste of time' ? . I was inspired by a friend of mine who just pulled off a 30 km with little training- if she could do that, could I pull off an 80 k ? right?? 
My big concern was that this was generally a flat course and I haven't ran more than 8-10 flat miles in the last 2 years!

 Expecting my first 50 miler to be a grueling, complicated experience, it turned out to be a pleasantly simple experience that I would summarize into positive and negatives for each 21 km lap.

Lap 1:  17 km

+ ve :  6 am start, beautiful, peaceful run thru the trails. Great trai l markings, lots of runners... no worries. Enjoyed pulling back from the pack to run alone in the dark. Pristine !  

-ve : Left tibial plate and screws from an old fracture immediately started to ache. grrrr- it eventually settled and went away. This was my stumbling block that I felt would limit my distance past 50 km.

Lap 2: 21 km
+ve :The sun rises, I  get to see the beautiful full course. Paved trails thru golf courses, homes,lake, and Whistler village. Running with a guy who did leadville 3X, a woman who did death race, and another woman who did transrockies...meanwhile " hi , I'm Heather, of this is my first 50 miler"... feeling out of my league ! Big Time !

- ve: The metatarsal pain starts. 2nd toes, both feet burning from the pavement pounding. I'm thinking 'lovely, I got another 8 hrs of this' But that too passed....

LAP 3 : 21 km
+ve: I now know the course, and am feeling  like the the aid station attendants are old friends. I most looked forward to seeing Gottfried Grossier (organizer of several great local runs -including my FIRST 50 kilometer 'Frosty 50 k"    I was ahead of schedule.  I guessed 10 + hr finish time. I was a bit confused when I  checked the time to see I was only 6 hrs in ... was I only on lap 2 ? no, I was on lap 3 as I had 3 elastics on my wrist to mark each lap when I picked up my goodies from my drop bag from each lap. Being a nerd paid off.
Only 21 Km to go- would I finish in 8 1/2 hours? really? am I hallucinating?

- ve: Now its time for the ITB to kick in. All my other aches and pains are gone, now I get to enjoy  the results of having  my womanly hips. Lovely.  The commings and goings of aches and pains are actually becomming amusing.

Lap 4 : 21km  ( The final 60- 80 km )
+ ve:  I finally get to feel the push PAST  a 50 km !!! Woot woot !!!  
 Felt suprisingly fine until about the last hour where I think I did a great impression of what MR BEAN would look like if he started running- Tee hee ! 
My nutrition etc. was dialed in, I  thought I was lucid ... except for the part where I called my husband:
" I've got 4 kms to go to the finish ... it should take me 45-50 mins (thinking in miles)" Meanwhile my husband has visions of me crawling to the finish.
-ve:  Yup, a new entertaining pain. My ARMS ! wtf ! both biceps aching, I can't hold my arms up any longer- had to rest my thumbs in my waistband and literally run like a cowboy !                                                                                                                         

DONE !  8:04 ! 8th woman, 4th age group.
A couple of women sprinted past me on a downhill in the last 10 km, but I diddn't care. I wasn't  racing, I was just finishing, just enjoying my first 50 mile run .  And dammmit, it was actually enjoyable.
It was great to meet my husband and 14 yr old daughter at the finish line. Best hug ever !

And lets not forget the recovery drinks:

Heather V


Monday, October 17, 2011

Summer in a Snap!

Summer 2011 is now over. Here is a summary in a few quick snapshots.

This summer was very slow to start- pretty crummy weather till about August, but we managed to squeeze out a few adventuresome weekends  around B.C. in spite of it all.

 I managed some great training this summer, but was disappointed as I was not able to apply it to 'my first 50 miler'.  I trained for two of them, but never ended up making it to either one !  (funerals, etc). I could imagine how disappointed someone would be who put all the training time in for say, a 100 miler, then ends up not going. Oh well.


                Long, flat, dry, hot Run .....

                                                      Skaha Lake. Memories of this should get me through the winter.

LOCAL HIKING AROUND BUNTZEN (Polytrichum, and Diez Vistas)

(and a great 4X4 drive on FSR to get there)

                                      Super peaceful -no boats, few people
Waterfalls - love them                                                                                Picnic on a quiet FSR road

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Burke Mountain Dennett Lake

I don't know any trails on Burke mtn... but my friend Marc does!
So, he leads the adventure.

Up the gravel road we go... up, up , up.
Then we shoot off to check out some old Burke mtn cabins- many still inhabited. I can not believe people packed the wood and supplies this far up a mountain! years ago. Much respect!
  BEAR !

Then the BUSHWACKING began !.... we went over logs, thru brambles....questioning our location, but frequently reminded with flags and signs we were on track . Picture on the left was ALL that I could see for a good hour ! It got pretty boggy too.

So, this was all I could see- but my 6 ft 3' husband thankfully could see ABOVE the brambles to guide us.
I was seriously doubting my husband, and Marc, who was going on MEMORY  alone (from some odd 30 years ago! omg) but as we crested the top, and came around to beautiful Dennett lake- IT WAS ALL WORTH IT !!!!


Jim even went for a swim !! It was BEAUTIFUL!.... not a picknic spot due to the black flies, but totally worth the trip.

You would think it would be SMART to take the SAME route back! but noooooo, my husband decides to try a different way... and his friend is keen to do the same. I've been outvoted. grrr...
Well, lo and behold, the trail back was much nicer, with less bushwacking. We went past some cute lakes (including twin lakes) and thru yet more mud.  Its so fun running round the mountaintop!

Yup, apparently there used to be snow on Burke mtn, and my friend Marc, has fond memories of learning to ski at the ski- hill here. Hard to believe now. The old lodge was burnt down, and there is only a little evidence of a ski hill. As usual, there is garbage left from what I assume is 'stupid teenagers'. We popped out onto harper road and booted down the gravel road.
Views from the 'ski hill'  and sign  prooving it existed.

Marc took us down the 'elevator'  even had buttons ! loved it ! Great single track home

Thanks Marc for the wonderful adventure!
... I wish I had my GPS watch with me, but I figure we did a loop harper road to the cabins, up the southwest side of the mountain, to Dennett, then back down the much better marked trails on the north side of the mountain to harper hill again. 


Monday, July 11, 2011


LAST year I had something to PROVE- I wanted to make a 'time'. Mission accomplished !
...but in my efforts to run fast, I was frustrated with the difficult course and was angry for half of the run.

THIS year I had something to PROVE- to HAVE FUN! and actually ENJOY the course.                                               
 GPS of the course-horseshoe bay to deep cove:


To stick to my mission,  I showed up at the start line with NO watch.
As usual, I start cramping up at the start of the run... then after encouraging words from Peter Watson, I wind down, relax, and loosten up. Thanks Peter!

The first 'hill'.
Me= fun !
Dirk= Funner
Sean dude (in yellow) = Funnest ! Great attitude!

THE FIRST HALF (0- 25 km)
Up Black Mountain:
"Yaay, the scree slope, my favorite part" I announce, and subsequently got a lot of groans from the guys behind me.  I cautiously climb the boulders as earlier I dislodged a very large rock that bounced down the switchbackes, picking up speed. People were diving into the bushes to avoid injury. Ooops,...

Hitting the top (and probably a 170 heart rate), the expansive view is magnificent on such a clear day! Got a bit of vertigo there- not good when climbing on a cliff so eyes went back to the ground.

To Cypress and Hollyburn:
I was so worried about the snow reports, I actually had a nightmare that I was lost running in the snow. Why did I worry- the snow offered a new level of FUN !  It took mega focus to watch my foot placement.  I saw a guy shoot one leg down a 'post hole' with the other one still on top of the snow- Ouch. Another poor soul "ran though" a puddle, only to sink in thigh- deep ! So I went around that  'puddle'.

Hats off to the trail maintenance- they really had to dig deep to get to a bridge. We even had to climb a rope to get back up on the several feet of snow. Golden shovel award.

Sipping, sliding, and skiing- omg, the 'skiing ' down the hills in trail shoes was a blast! I must admit, by the time we hit hollyburn chute, after over an hour of running in the snow, the ankles and back were getting pretty fatigued.  It was such a pleasure to finally hit dirt.


Cleveland dam to Seymour Demonstration

Pretty much a blur to me.  I just remember going up/down , up/down. Power hiking on the hills, running wherever possible.  I did go off course a couple of times, but quickly re-routed thanks to hollers from other runners.
Amidst the blur of running off the miles, what stood out most on this section was all of the enthusiastic volunteers! Plus there were so many people I have gotten to know from the great trail running community, I felt like I was circled with friends!
Thank you JENNY for keeping me company, and pushing/pulling me (and sharing chips after ) .
Thank you dude in the Stormy shirt (waving in pic above) for the company while you catch me/lose me (and repeat)

Seymour Demonstration to Finish

5 hours in, I got my first sense of woosyness/weakness and started to question if it was ;
        a) my nutrition,
        b)a psychological barrier to cross as I haven't  trained past 5-51/2 hours (racing excluded)
To address (a), I popped a gel, and grabbed a cookie and chips from the aid station as I was craving fatty stuff at this point for some reason. To address (b), well, I just kept running to see what happens-what else can you do.

6 hours in, I got a second wind! I actually started feeling better that I did in the middle of the race .  It actually freaked me out a bit, wondering if I was  losing my mind ! The descent into Deep Cove was a blast- Waaahoooo! flying down roots, steps and rocks. Ripping across the bridges. Weaving in and out of people and dogs like its a videogame. I even ran all the last hills, which was pleasing as last year I could barely run this final section at all.  I owe it all to the great training runs with my friends.

I Cross the finish and see my time: 6:45  !
Only 2 mins slower than last year  AND I had FUN !
Considering the hours of snow running, and how great I felt after, it was a good  'pat on the back' for my spring training.

My Stats (for future reference, cuz I'm a freak, like many other trail runners )
Position :  Overall at 1/2 way point:  76th     position at finish  51st/205 . 12/67 women, 4/26 age. 
Pleased, as there were some amazing athletes attending.
                                                                           AAAHHH the post race soak in the OCEAN!
Water: 3.5-4 L
Coke: 3-4 cups
Carbopro- 2X200 calories=400 cal
Gels- 2                             =200 cal
Fishy crackers (for variety)= 100 cal
2 cookies                          = 100 cal
Handfuls of chipsX2          = 100 cal
Total - 900 on run + 300 breakfast bagel = 1200 Calories (about 170/hour)

Some pics from the race. $ for purchase went to North Shore Search and Rescue- great idea! Its neat to see the VARIETY  of terrain we got to run through in one day- SNOW, SINGLETRACK& GRAVEL ROAD .

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jim's Comeback Race

9 Months Post Pulmonary Embolism.... Not many people would go into a 50 Km race- But Jim did!
4 Months of Running ....Not many people would be ready for a 50 Km race- But Jim was !
He trained hard, got his nutrition downpat and was feeling confident.

Jim decides to do "SCORCHED SOLE" in Kelowna. He heard it was  "EASY"  previous years.
The race director this year decided to make it much more difficult- giving it about  a 2850 meter elevation gain, in the Kelowna desert heat, with no cover!  Thats about 400m more gain than Knee knacker.

7 hours in I'm expecting a   finish line call... no calll. Hmmmm. Finally, 10 hrs  pass and I get a call from his training partner who just crossed the finish line without him. Now I'm worried. At this point I would rather be running the race than waiting!  Apparently, elites who take 5-6 hrs to finish  a race took 7-8 to finish this one.
And wait....
I get random calls from other friends they dropped down from the 50 mile to 50 km as the trail had so much bushwacking it was difficult to run in. They saw Jim at an aid station, sitting in a chair  with reports of  back spasms. They figured he planned to DNF.

"Thats what she said"- Being married to a Physio, one would think he would work on his CORE. But nooo, he did not.  Apparently he was running great till it broke down on him, then every step hurt. Chair!

Impatience is a virtue?
Jim waits in the chair for about an hour and 1/2  with a group of people also thinking of DNF'g . He was told he had to wait until takedown to get a ride back. He is not a patient man, so he got up, and  gutted it out to the finish line.  Everyone was suprised to see him cross 11 hours later!!


It was HOT,
It was LONG,
It was STEEP
It was a lot of BUSHWACKING.

A lot shorter than my race reports!-. A man of few words.  He did later say how beautiful the area was, so he did manage to enjoy the journey :-)
Jim was proud and happy that he finished and he served as an INSPRATION to me. If he can gut out 11 hours in a 50 km with only a few months of training ... could I pull off a 50 mile ???

I ask : "So, has this turned you off from 50 Km's forever? "
His answer: "No, eventually I will forget and go in another one"
Don't we all. ....Dont' we all !