Sunday, November 11, 2012

Whistler team 50 mile Relay Run

Flashback: 2011
I tried to get a team together, it fell apart, so I ran the whole damn 50 miles myself. Great personal experience, but I was too tired at the end to go to the party!

2012 rolls around
 I meet MORE great runners and  the "Buntzen Burners"  team came together.  A mish mash of ultrarunners and hill climbers- this speed event would surely challenge!
Now the afterparty... THAT was an endurance event!

Race Morning:
Wake up to SNOW !! ! I'm soo excited! first snowfall of the season. Then my husband calms me down "its only 5am" he says... " but first runner is at 8 !" I say.. soo excited! 

First Runner: 8am -  looking for team timing chip, line up... and CLAYTON  is  off to run on the frozen ground and ice for 13 km !  Trooper!
... He is a blurr in this picture cuz he is running so fast !

Second leg: Our saviour, JILL  stepped up for the team to replace a member and  rock her 7 km section in the freezing cold- so hard on the lungs !

Third leg: Jills husband WARREN  takes her running chip in exchange for their children. ( Who Were our excellent team cheer leaders!) . He ripped up his  13 km section too.  Amazing for a guy who only trains up the Grouse grind! He was just to fast to get a pic!
Fourth Leg: MY husband JIM takes off. for his 7 km run as it started to snow . 
Fifth Leg: He hands off to ROB who also rocked it with a great time on his 13  km run.  We  planned on exchanging his timing chip for my hotel room key  so he could shower after. I changed plans last minute- not too wise mid race. Fun confusion as he handed me the chip and waited for the room key, but I took off! (he got the room key in the end, and thankfully showered)

Sixth Leg: MY 7 km run - so happy nothing cramped uphill- that was all I wanted.

Seventh Leg: I handed off to a smiling MARC who  ripped up a great time of 13 kms  in the SUN  to hand off to his wife at the end.

Eighth leg: JANET-  she kicked butt   to anchor the team to a great finish!

So, just expecting to show up, do my run, go home, done. It was a great suprise to be  LOVING IT ! looking forward to  meeting friends at exchanges, cheering them on, more fun than I imagined!

So  much fun hanging out, recapping the days events .  So many modestly putting themselves down, excuses for their  lack of  performance,  and WHAT !
In the end our 6:28 time set us as 2nd 'open' group... hey , thats against young'uns, 20 yr olds... and were all over 40! Might have to do the 'mixed masters' group next year.
... and then there was a party and dance aftewvards, lets just say, what happened in whistler, stays in wistler ! I certainly made up for the lack of partying the year before.  Double time.
At the end of the day, though we have ran together for hours on the trails, this was a different sort of team bonding experience.  Supportive of everyones individual  performance, and greatful for our volunteer's time. Definately 'feeling the love" by the end.

I reccomend this event for all types of runners, serious and recreational. All levels Where present, and everyone enjoyed! It had more of a team accomplishment atmosphere, than a  Who Wins atmosphere.
Heather V

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Getting away for 80 K, Squamish 50 mile "Holiday"

I've been preparing for my 'random' CRA TAX AUDIT , my SEPTIC is backed up, and a RETAINING wall may be collapsing. With all the stress, I thought it was  the WORST  time to try run a 50 miler.

My mind was NOT on the race,  but in a million different places at once.
I was EXHAUSTED the week prior and barely had the energy to make it through the workday.

I hated to see all that training go to waste,  but planned  to PULL OUT.,

Thats what "FRIENDS" are for: 
Thanks to the support of my wonderful running group, I was given some great words of advice, such as:
" for the well being of your family, who will have to listen to you go on and on, and on ,about your regrets, ---do it ! "
" Just turn your mind off, and let your legs do the work"

So FINE, I showed up at the start line.... with a detailed map of every stage I could pull out.
It was a BEAUTIFUL start in front of the Chief on the oceanfront !

The first 10 Km " Tour de Squamish" stage (these are the names of the relay stages) 
I jogged along, enjoying a lovely visit with a running friend Kristie. Took in the nice trails along the river.

10-20Km  " Up up and away" stage to Alice lake
We hit trail,  and a bit of road going up Debecks hill to 1486 feet. I did not pack much water as I hate packing it uphill, but with the heat of the day hitting already, I went through it faster than expected, and then I met a girl who missed a turnoff and did the hill TWICE! so from then on I decided to fill my hydration pack FULL at the major aid stations.

20-30 Km "Wed and wild" stage  - around the lakes

Lovely single track up and down to about  500 ft. Meeting lots of people, chit-chatting along the way. Hit 30 km back at Alice Lake  easily in 3 hrs. Then, BAM! my left ITB starts seriously paining me. I had calf/glut, and even some old fracture/metal plate issues in training, but never my ITB! suddenly, I could not bend my left knee.
In this pic, I was focusing on ways to land my left foot to avoid the stabbing knee pain.

But still, the photographer Glen Tachiyama makes it look good!

30-42 Km to Quest University

A beautiful portion of trail  up to dead end loop. Ran past a beauty raging river, through peacefull forest, Back up to 1300 ft FUN technical downhill- that I would have normally loved to hammer down but my knee prevented me in doing so.  For entertainments sake I actually started counting how many times I stubbed my left toe on a rock (25 times), because the knee just wouldn't bend to lift it over!  I hit Quest University, a great volunteer handed me my drop bag and I just instinctively grabbed my fuel for the next section and kept going on.

42-58 k "what goes down must go up" stage (Or more like "Down, but not out" for me)
Open road in the heat of the day- woot! (not) I was feeling pretty low at this point. I knew I had to cover this forest service road 3 times, and it really brought me down. I pulled out a sponge that I packed for this section, dipped it in the river, dabbing it on my face/ head,  bragging to another runner  (Downie) " I may not be fast, but at least I'm going 5-star" . So, back up to 2046 feet I go on yet more beautiful singletrack . I loved the trail named 'Freds"  on the way down-woot !

Hitting some beautiful views at the top! . !

By this point, however, the knee was annoyying. I drug it uphill behind me, and held it in front downhill, hopping on my other leg. This obvioulsy slowed me down, and heading back into the major aid station at Quest University, I had decided 'this is stupid' and was going to pull out/ DNF. The FIRST time, such a though has crossed my mind in a race.

But for some  reason, I opened my drop bag and decided for the first time EVER, to take a single Ibuprophen (and rub some topical gel on my ITB).. and kept going, figuring I can always DNF at 60 km.

58-64 Km I'm BACK ! 
Damn road again.  Even though the RD told us multiple times, we go left twice, then right on the third time, my fuzzy mind  had to clarify with a volunteer, who patiently explained it to me yet  AGAIN- thank you!. This  second time after climbing only 1000ft,  we get to cut down some lovely switch-backs  (Pseudo-Tsuga trail) . Hey, I can RUN down this trail, hey, I can bend my knee!  Holy crap, I feel great!  I pop out onto the road for a third and final time, telling the poor course marshall that I am happy I will never see his beautiful face again, and motor up, ready to finish this !

64-72 km+ km "Plunger"
Woot! more singletrack plunging to the bottom, feeling great! (a little too late to feel great, but I'll take it). Lovely run and visit with Judy from Quesnel who tried to make me feel better about my slow time at this point, saying she did  "Stormy in 9.5 hrs, and this is harder".

72 km-80+km "Guts"
Even MORE beautiful singletrack, taking us back into civilization, bypassing rock climbers en route and back down to sea level.  At the last 4 km my right quad cramped. Interesting, that was new for me too- probably from the one legged  hopping previously in the race. I walked it off, took a thermolyte, regrouped, then  I 'gutted it out' , well, more like, casually jogged at a tolerable pace across the finish line.

The FINISH  12 hrs 20 min 
(An HOUR longer than I expected, but it was apparently the same for everyone else too- whew!)
Running toward Gary Robbins voice, I had the greatest sense of satisfaction. My time diddn't matter, my finish did. Although I had my aches and pains to work through (as did everybody), I really felt like I was comming back from a little holiday I went on in the woods that day. I did not think once of any of my stresses, it was like I was comming out of the twilight zone and back into reality. Pure Joy.

My husband, on the other hand, also had his own " endurance event" going on. The RD's set up a fabulous finish line party with beer garden and all. My 'poor' husband had to wait for me in that beer garden all afternoon  on a beautiful sunny day. Lets just say he was more giddy than I was at the finish line.

In the end, this was the BEST time to run 80 K, I totally felt like I got away from the real world for those 12 hours. It was bliss.

 There wasn't even the stress of 'getting lost' as the course markings were amazing- as you can see with this tongue in cheek video below:

Thanks Kerri Ward and Hassan Lotfi-pour for the hilarious video. And thanks Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford for presenting such a challenging, fun, and incredibly well organized event ! The organizers and the Volunteers were all amazing!

My Stats:  51 miles, almost 10,000 feet elevation gain
*Calories- about 1500.  A variety of real food: cliff bar, chips, pepperoni (which was yummy!) ., Carbopro          in my water.Only a couple of gels near the end of the race. Stomach great, brain great the whole race.
*Salt tablets- 7
*Water- a lot, I have no idea, just kept re-filling it and sipping/pouring it over me. The added carbopro doubled as a great hear styling product. Kept my hair in place when it dried.

Till my next adventure.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring has Sprung at the Gorge Waterfalls Run

Is exactly what I said when I crossed the finish line at the Gorge Waterfalls 50 km run.
Going into this 'race' I was worried, that I wasn't worried... only because I was more excited about seeing the views than my actual performance. This attitude served me well. 

I was more excited for two relative 'newbies' who were doing their first 50 Km race. Wow, couldn't have picked a more beautiful course!  The poor race director had to deal with last minute course changes due to snow up to the day of the race... and THEN, he got a  FLAT TIRE en route to the start! It STILL ran very smoothly, with a fun and laidback atmosphere. I highly recommend Rainshadow Running races after this experience. 

CUT TO THE CHASE- Here is a Video synopsis of the course. BEAUTIFUL!

My Race Experience: 
First hill always hits me hard. I started powerhiking it with everyone else. It was a great time to have a visit with Jackie ( a great BC ultrarunner), and Clayton (who stop-started all the way up to take pictures).
We finally hit the downhill, then some rolling hills. Here I met Yitka, who I ran with  for a large majority of the middle section. She was such a positive person to run with. And near the end, with only two miles to go she pulls off this! I could barely step over a log at this point! Huge respect!       Photo: Glen Tachiyama 
There was a short road section,( I would rather forget), a beautiful turnaround at yet more waterfalls. With the out and back it was fun to see the 'Elite' runners ripping it up!! AND High five my great friends including Sarah, Clayton, Ed, Megan, Marc, Janet, and Marianne ! No wonder my arms were sore.  I made it back in similar time with a run/powerhike up the last hill, visiting with my new running mate Bunky (from Oregon) . Then a   fun fly downhill to the end screaming out my token BANCHEE scream  "ay yi yi yi"... and finally end with a rewarding high five from the Race director. Sweet! 
Some guy told me at the end my scream scared the crap out of him and it made him run faster. Glad I could help. 

My Stats (for future reference) 
Time: 5:04  (a PR, but it was slightly shorter than a typical 50 km, but respectable elevation gain-I'll take it)
Calories:  about 900 including breakfast bagel 
First 'mountain'  1:18 on the way out/ 1:20 on the way back  
No name aid station to Yeon Aid station ( 7 miles):  1:03 on the way out / 1:03 on the way back. Weird
Yeon to turn around: 8:53 on the way out, 7:43 on the way back. 
Fun: 100%  (well, except that short road section) 

GOOD TIMES! Its going to be hard to top this one for a beautiful course! 


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Swan Falls Adventure

The gang I've been running with have been training together for a spring 50 km "Gorge Waterfalls 50 Km".  Its been a slog at times, running for 4+ hours in the rain and wind.  With several 4+ hour runs under our belts, and only a few weeks till the 50 Km, I opted for more of an "adventure run/hike" to check out some local waterfalls. The training was done, and  I felt I needed to do a FUN run to keep my enthusiasm up and get me in the mood for some waterfall running.

Here is a quick Video of the hike up to Swan Falls.  We ran about an hour out to the base of the falls, and about 45 min straight uphill, and back totallying about 3:15.  I was suprised at how trashed my legs felt after this relatively 'short' run. Yaay, thank goodness its time for the taper!