I am not sure if it’s the photos from my adventures, the grin I normally have from ear to ear when coming back from the trails or the involvement that Randi and my sister Lou had at the Squamish 50. Whatever it was, I am happy to say that Randi and my sister Lou are now joining me on the trails and it is awesome.
I am not knocking road running as most of my years leading up to my move to Canada were road miles, the odd fell running whilst living in Scotland, some track and field. I think for a while it was a means to end; I liked competing and you had to log the miles, so I guess I was logging miles out of necessity to hang out with friends and to race.
Trail running I feel is so different. I admit I log miles to train for races but the miles I log are fun as I find new trails; I slip or fall; I get covered in mud, snow, smelly creek water; I meet new trail buddies; I feel closer to nature; I get to mountain peaks. It just really feels like a different world to road running. I still road run to get some training runs in, but really my heart belongs to the trails.
So with all of the above being said, how amazing would it be that your significant other would embrace the trails, and even though Randi has been fighting CFS for 4 years, she is pushing herself beyond her limits to hit the trails with me and do her first race next April. This fills me with pride as to what she is accomplishing and makes me so happy that I can include her in my passion.
So on top of Randi joining me on the trail, my sister Lou has decided to enter a race next year and has been hitting the trails too. I will admit that me and my sister are like chalk and cheese, which is fine as everyone should be happy to be who they are and do what they want to do. So I was surprised following Squamish that my sister suggested she would race the 23km race at Squamish in 2017. I have to be honest and thought this was quite brave as it’s a hard 23km as your first 23km and she may not follow through.
I was then surprised when Lou wanted me to go trail shoe shopping with her. She started asking my advice and after one trail run, I have now lost count on how many she has done. Possibly up to double figures now. I was quite happy when I managed to do a trail run recently with both Lou and Randi, being able to share my passion and both them beginning to share the same passion.
I cannot wait to share more trail fun with Randi and Lou as we round out 2016 and head into 2017.
You know how some things just really seem like a great idea at the time; well my 100 miler in March was a great idea at the time. But the thing is you need to be smart and work out the planning and logistics of it all and to be honest, I got carried away in the moment and thought solely of the race and not how I would get my training to peak for that time.
To be honest I should have realized that having a big year of running, racing and adventures may call for some sort of break, but I just jumped right into training for my 100 miler. The thing is life gets in the way and rest and recovery are also are part of training. So I jumped in with both feet, and first issue to hit was moving to our new home and my training hit the skids for a couple of weeks. Me being me, I tried to jump right back in even though the move and stress involved had worn me down. I plowed on, got sick and of course tried to train through the sickness and eventually ended up with a chest infection and was forced to rest.
As if the move coupled with the illness had not knocked my training sideways, when several weeks of snow and ice hit the coast sure did. The weather impacted my running and so distance wasn’t being racked, so I tried to do some double ups and the change of camber due to snow and ice and increase in distance meant taking a week off for some shin issues.
I was hoping to be doing some 50-60 mile weeks with only a couple of months till my first 100 miler, but it seems various things have hit my training and it’s unlikely I will attain this sort of mileage. I’m not one to give up and I have committed to my 100 miler and I will go ahead with it even if I’m undertrained rather than over trained and injured.
I'd imagine I am not the only person who is overly critical of myself and full of self doubt. My running buddies seem to think, I have a good running base and I should not worry. But who knows; doubt creeps in with such a big goal as my first 100 miler.
I have done some research and there are people that have done 100 milers on marathon training mileage numbers that is 25-30 miles a week. I think if I can at least get back up to some 50 mile weeks and build on my strength training and on my mental preparation then all is not lost.
I think for sure in 2018 I will plan some short spring races to start my training and winter 2017 I will just keep up my base fitness and just have fun and not worry about what mileage I put in. After all I run because I enjoy it and I do not need the pressure that this has a hold on me right now.
So 2018 will be all about summer and fall races, unless something makes me change my mind lol.
I have decided to really up my race calendar for 2017 and after having done a 50k and 50 mile race in 2016, I kind of feel now that what may seem impossible is not necessarily impossible. I just need to put in the training and need to get my head in the right place as with longer distances, it’s your mental state as well as the state of your body that dictates if you will succeed or not.
So my motto for 2017 is going to be as per the blog title “Go Big or Go Home. I wont of course risk my health or safety to reach my goals but nor will I take the easy route, if it’s just temporary aches or I’m feeling a bit meh, because that happens in longer events and you just need to be able to push on through.
For 2017 I am going to try and fit in some more cross training so that will mean more rides logged on my bike. Hopefully more cross training should help build strength and prevent injury. I did start adding yoga to my training but that fell off a little during the recent months with work, commute and moving etc, so I need to add that back in and try to stick to it.
A few people I know use tires as part of their strength training and also to replicate the strength it takes to go uphill, so I am looking to get a tire and add that to my routine. Now with a longer commute due to us moving to the Coast, I am going to have to be adaptive to try and fit my training into my schedule. So I will look to add some runs and rides to the ferry and back; maybe some running on the deck when spring/summer is back as running on the top deck right now might be a bit challenging with lack of light, high winds some days and all the rain we get in fall and winter in the PNW.I may look to add some runs on my lunch break and maybe if I need something from the grocery store I might ride there to add some training in where I can.
I may add some smaller races in during next year, but for now my goal races are Lake Martin 100 miler, Diez Vista 100k and Squamish 50/50.
To help me get through to 2017 I have help in the form of being sponsored by Spidertech Tape, a Canadian based Kinseo Tape company; Hill Sound equipment, a Canadian based crampon and Gaiter Company. Also InReach Canada has helped me out by providing me with a discount of my monthly plan.
If you have time please check out Spidertech tape, Hillsound equipment and InReach. It means a lot to me to be supported by these great companies and when you buy a roll of tape from Spidertech or let your friends know about Hillsound or Inreach it would help these great companies and help me too.
This is straying a little from the original thoughts, I had for this blog post but I had to put it out there. I was on Facebook today and another member of a running group I am in, gave me an opinion on something but dismissed himself by saying, he was not at the same level as other members of the group. I said you’re a runner! it doesn’t matter if your front of the pack, middle of the pack or dead last! You’re a runner and we are all part of the same running family, so never dismiss yourself and like me aim high for 2017! Do your first 5k, do your first 10k and if running’s not your thing find something you love and embrace it and never be put off.
Go outside and just enjoy life, because you never know what could happen tomorrow or the day after or the week after and so on. Embrace life ☺
If you are not a runner or involved in sport then you may have seen some sort of taping applications on TV at the recent Olympic Games. This type of taping is called Kinesio tape application method. So what is Kinesio tape and what is it used for?
Kinesio tape, kt tape, kinesio taping, taping, athletes tape and athletes taping are some of the variations of names used to describe this type of tape.
The story behind Kinesio tape began in Japan. Dr. Kenzo Kase first developed the Kinesio taping method in 1979. He is a chiropractor as well as a licensed acupuncturist and moxibustion therapist. Dr. Kase realized that manual therapy (i.e. massage therapy, chiropractic care, and physical therapy) were extremely effective for treatment of different ailments, but often the effects were temporary. He wanted something for his clients to use between appointment sessions to increase efficacy of manual therapy for lasting results. The Kinesio taping method was introduced to the United States in 1995 and then Europe in 1996. So it may surprise you to know that the Kinesio taping method and Kinesio tape have been around for over a decade, but it has only been recently more well-known due to media coverage and amateur athletes adopting it.
So what does Kinesio tape do and what ailments does it cover? Kinesio tape, if properly applied, can be used for virtually anything from chronic pain to menstrual cramps. For my purposes, I will specifically talk about athletes and tape usage.
Kinesio tape can be a huge asset for athletes. Kinesio tape can be applied in the middle of workouts or in case of sudden injury. Kinesio tape is extremely strong and can be applied with different tension strengths. Different tension strengths and techniques can be used to allow the muscles and ligaments to have “help” when injury occurs. The tape essentially stabilizes an area, for example the knee, to prevent any further damage.
The great thing about Kinesio tape is that it still allows for range of motion, just not so much that you are likely to injure yourself further or re-injure yourself. Kinesio tape can help to stabilize an injury just like a band aid etc but it cannot cure the cause of injury and so you should always consult a physician, RMT or similar health practitioner.
For rehab Kinesio tape can be a great tool for athletes. Many times athletes experience that after a competitive event their body is exhausted or broken, or it may be that a non-competitive athlete has overtrained, but in either case rehab is needed. Manual manipulation is important to rehabilitation.
Using Kinesio tape after a manual manipulation session can increase efficacy of your treatment more so than without Kinesio tape. The tape can help open up fascial tissue to make manual manipulation easier. It helps athletes after manual manipulation in that it gives a continuous amount of stabilization to the affected area and gives muscles and ligaments a chance to rebuild and restore by taking the pressure off of those areas that have been worked on manually.
Kinesio taping method also helps with alignment. If you have a tendency to slouch or have an area of the body that is not properly aligned, Kinesio tape can bring the body back into alignment and help an athlete sense how this feels in the body. Having correct alignment can decrease pain and help the joints recover from activities.
In respect to pain, Kinesio tape also decreases pain in certain areas of the body that may be bothersome. Most athletes tend to have lower back pain. After manual manipulation, Kinesio tape can be placed on the affected area (using a different method or style of taping depending on the area) to decrease pain and discomfort. If there is bruising or swelling, there is a taping method that helps drain fluids into the lymphatic ducts to decrease swelling and help rid the body of bruising.
One more area that may interest athletes is that Kinesio tape can be used before a sporting event. Most athletes tend to know if they have rolling ankles or patellar tracking issues; just to name a few ailments that Kinesio tape can be put on the affected area to prevent injuries if the athlete plans to do an event. Using Kinesio tape before an event can save the athlete from future surgeries or ailments after the event itself.
Your body is important to your athletic career so take care of it by going to professionals such as massage therapists, physical therapists and chiropractors.
Just a brief overview now of Spidertech tape who is my sponsor for training and the coming years races. I had used a number of Kinesio tapes and then a friend recommended Spidertech tape as it is reasonably priced, affective and it sticks well. So I started using Spidertech Tape and loved it and approached them to sponsor me and now they are on board as one of my sponsors.
SpiderTech tm is innovative and easy-to-use elastic Kinesiology tape providing 100% drug free relief for all your minor aches and pains. Designed to provide the greatest variety of solutions for a myriad of different issues, in a clinical environment or in daily use, SpiderTech tm is the most complete range of quality therapeutic tape products.
SpiderTech tm supports the body’s natural physiology to deliver pain relief as well as provide support for joint instability, sprains and muscle strains. SpiderTech tm Kinesiology Tape provides support in three key areas: Pain Relief, Prevention of Further Injury & Performance Enhancement.
By now you may have read my account of my first 50 mile race, and you will have noticed that things did not go to plan. On the plus side I was able to turn things around and avert disaster. As it turned out a number of my trail running buddies also suffered and took a lot longer on the course, and so although my race hit the skids at aid station 5; pretty much most runners had a tough day out there.
So what did I learn from my first 50 miler? Well, firstly my plan to get in as much distance as I could before the sun kicked in, was perhaps not the best idea. I have discussed my strategy with others following the race and I’m not the first to try this crazy idea, but the issue is that if you go out too hard and too fast, then your core body temperature is hot before the sun gets you hot. That then leads to a hot runner getting even hotter.
So basically I set myself up for a double whammy of being too hot from running and then increasing the heat from the 35c plus temperatures out on the course. Add to that mix, lots of climbing and technical descents, it’s just a recipe for disaster. That’s why I was a hot disorientated mess when I got to aid station 5. But the whole thing about running, racing or indeed any sport is. you will make mistakes but you need to learn from them.
My next mistake was not testing my nutrition thoroughly enough and I will explain this. I have used Lara bars on various runs. But never have I tried to eat them, when I have gone all out in the heat and that’s my problem in that, I tried as best as I could but I just had so much trouble chewing them.
I got to aid station 5 and I just really could not continue with the Lara bars. I was tired and did not want the additional weight of them, so I handed over my bars to my sister who was crewing me at that aid station, and decided to just use what was provided at aid stations.
Another lesson learned was my use of Tailwind as an electrolyte and calorie intake. I had used it in the past on my runs but usually had water too. I normally used sachets on long runs prior to my 50 miler. They say never use something untested but to save money, I got a large bag of Tailwind and made up portions of powder in zip lock bags to be used at each aid station. The issue was, I was carrying this extra weight with the powder and it was a hassle to mix up the powder, and an adding too much to one softflask (running bottle that folds flat when empty) meant the dilution was super strong. I had started with two bottles of Tailwind but that became too much, so I switched to one softflask water and one Tailwind, but as I said that meant the one softflask had the entire tailwind in it and was super strong.
At aid station 5 I gave up on the Tailwind from a weight perspective and mixing perspective and thought I would use the Ultima electrolyte at the aid stations. It tasted ok and didn’t cause any issues, but I found out at the end of the race, it has zero calories and so I now know why for the back half of the course, I felt like I was permanently running on empty. I did take gels and chews from each aid station but I think this may not have been enough bearing in mind the Ultima had no calories.
I also found on the Galatic trail descent heading towards aid station 4 that I ran out of electrolyte and water before I got to the aid station. Maybe next year I will have water purifying tablets so that I can get some creek water and keep myself going.
As mentioned earlier in this blog post, I went out fast and hard and I recall just getting fluids and grabbing one quick item at aid station 2. I skipped aid station 1 completely, so I think next year when I go back I need a different strategy.
I have done plenty of descents on long runs and it's been ok but I found some tough on this race, so I think some weights and core work may help with the race next year.
But I made it and in a good time as everyone times increased due to heat and some people even dropped, so I am proud of my race and getting it done. But certainly there are lessons for me to take away for my next races.
As anyone who has been following us through our page or Instagram will know, I have been building up to my goal race of running a 50 miler ultra trail marathon. This weekend was my race day and the culmination of months of training, effort and the odd injury had lead me to the start line of the Squamish 50.
This is a bucket list race for many trail runners; perhaps not a bucket list event for people that aren't as crazy as myself or others I know in the trail running community. The Squamish 50 is known to be one of the toughest 50 mile races in North America.
At this year's race there were runners from Australia, Hong Kong and Mexico, just to name a few of the far flung countries that runners travelled from.
We arrived on Friday afternoon and met up with my sister and nephew who had come to cheer me on. We checked into the hotel and then worked out where to go get my race package, and where to find the local running store as I needed to get a collapsible cup as the race was going to be cup-less.
As an ultra runner, you carry your own hydration but at aid stations, a favourite is normally coke. The coke gives you some sugar and energy, which can be really helpful and so the collapsible cup was for coke at the aid stations.
We got to the package pick up location and I got my race pack and bib. Whilst there I managed to get to chat with some friends, who were volunteering for the race and happened to also be helping out with the check in and race pack pick up.
We went to Capra Running on the way back which is a new trail running store in Squamish. It was set up by three trail runners who wanted to offer a specific running store. It's a great store and they have some good stuff, so if you are in Squamish, please check them out.
I had gone in to Capra for a collapsable cup, but then saw buffs in there (buffs can be used like a scarf or used as a hat or on the wrist to mop your brow). The day of the race was supposed to be 30c plus, so I thought the buff would be a good option to dip in water and keep my neck cool.
We then went and grabbed food at Boston Pizza as I wanted to carb up and grab some pasta. We met up with Eileen, a fellow ultra runner, whom i had chatted with through an ultra running online forum that I frequent.
It was great to meet Eileen and to have a nice chilled out evening meal before the race as I was very anxious with it being my first ever 50 mile race. We chatted and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel for last minute preparations and to try and get some sleep.
When you have a big race, you always try to sleep but it's usually hard to come by. I just could not get any sleep and before I knew it, it was 4am and time to get ready and get to the start line. I managed to get to start line without getting lost which was a good thing to settle my nerves.
At the start line there was the opportunity to leave one or two drop bags. The beauty of this is, if you think you may need some extra items or maybe some blister plasters etc, you don't have to carry extra items and weight which would make the race harder. I assumed I wouldn't need much in a drop bag or indeed two bags, as I had never used a drop bag in a race before. As this was a longer race I did not want to tempt fate and so used one drop bag as a just in case measure.
The race started at 5.30am and it was mandatory to wear a head torch due to lack of light at that time. By about 30 minutes in to the race, the sun was nearly up and the need for the lamp was unnecessary.There was a bucket at the second aid station to drop your labelled head torch in and you could then pick it up after the race.
I had originally thought of trying to complete the race in ten hours, but that was not to be and I think that was being over optimistic. I had wanted to try and get a good portion of the race done before the sun really kicked in, as i knew trails plus high temps would make it tough.
The first 10k is flat gravel trails and I got carried away on this flat run. The first 30k I was only 40 minutes behind the second and first pace runners so way too fast for an amateur like myself and for my first 50 mile race.
The real killer was a trail called Galactic. It's just over 5 kilometres that's pretty much straight up and it really pushed me together with the heat. I ended up running out of both plain water and electrolyte drink and I kept going and kept hoping the 4th aid station was around the corner and it seemed as if for a very long time, I was running on empty. I'm sure it was not that long.
I then had to get to aid station 5 to get to my drop bag, if I needed anything and to meet up with my sister and nephew who had agreed to crew me at that aid station. By the time I got there, I was very hot and a bit disoriented. My sister and nephew got to work trying to help me and the volunteers were super awesome. I got into the shade, got ice in my hat, in my running vest (some runners use light weight running packs called vests) and started to relax and take on fluids and take in food.
By aid station 5 I had worked out my strategy to take in calories by eating Lara bars and to drink Tailwind, a calorie and electrolyte drink mix. It was not working as it took too much energy to eat the Lara bars and I was going off the taste. The tailwind was too much hassle to mix at each aid station. So I emptied my vest as much as I could and took chews from the aid station, the aid station pre mixed electrolyte drink and headed back out after 30 minutes at the aid station.
It did cross my mind to drop at the aid station and my sister, nephew and the aid station crew were very supportive with whatever decision I made. I decided, I would head back out and try to push myself to the next aid station and see how that went.
It was a struggle but no matter the shape I was in, it seemed others were suffering too, and I actually ended up passing some other runners. Even though I was hurting and running on empty, I made it to the next aid station and got more ice and fuelled up. I decided if I had pushed this far, I could get to the next aid station.
I pushed on and the painful legs and the feeling of running on empty did not decrease but I was determined that I would get my goal race done. Throughout the race I met a whole bunch of other runners and I just love the close community that you get with trail running.
I managed to get to the 7th and last aid station and I thought I'm nearly there. One last climb and then back down into Squamish, but it was actually like a roller coaster with ups and downs before the final climb. At the top of the final climb a trail running friend of mine, Kenzie, was one of the course marshals. We hugged and then she gave me the good news that it was 4 kilometres to go which renewed some of my spirt.
I headed down with a bunch of runners and then we got to a point where there were 4 sets of stairs to go down, and when your quads feel like you are on fire, some swearing occurs when you see stairs. But we pushed on and I even managed a sprint at the 100 meter point so that I came in at 12 hours and 24 minutes; 60th position in a field of over 200 racers. It was so tough, 50 runners dropped out.
Other interesting things which happened during my race was getting my sister to rub Deep Blue rub onto my dirty and sweaty feet and legs. I think I owe her a few beers for that. Getting a freezie to eat between aid stations from an impromptu mini aid station being put on by Nesters Markets (one of the race sponsors). I am not totally sure but I think one of the volunteers at aid station 5, who helped me was Ellie Greenwood. She is an elite ultra runner originally from the UK and lives on the North Shore.
While I was out on the race course, Randi was helping out with the food at the finish line and met some cool people, and she got to hang out with some of the cool elite ultra runners.
Randi, Lou (my sister) and Ezra (my nephew) made sure I was taken care of at the finish line; that is after I got my hug and high 5 from Gary Robbins. Gary is such a nice guy. He is an ultra runner and one of the race directors and he hugs and hive fives every finisher.
Volunteers really are the backbone of any race and they were amazing with their commitment getting to tough places to set up, getting up early, staying out late, making sure all the runners had everything they needed from fuel to support and encouragement. At the finish line Josh, a Toronto resident and PT, helped sort out my cramping and painful legs for free. He was at the race, as his girlfriend was racing, and he offered his services.
I really can't highlight how much I love the trail and ultra running community. It feels like an extended family and I hope at some stage I can volunteer and give back to this amazing family/community.
Following the race I was sore and racing was far from my mind, but this morning I made up my mind to go back to race at Squamish next year and race what they call the 50/50. You run 50 miles on Saturday and then 50k on Sunday. Its going to be tough but then I thought 50 would be tough and it was, but I amazed myself with how far I could push myself.
I'd like to thank the race directors, Gary and Geoff, for putting on this amazing race, the many volunteers for their hard work and to my sister and nephew for being my crew. Also my partner Randi for volunteering and supporting me at the race and during my training before the race.
Check out Squamish 50 on Facebook for details of the race.
I have to be honest that sometimes it can be tough out there training or racing but then if it was not a challenge, then it would be easy to achieve a goal. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy running but sometimes it can hurt and you suffer. But you come out the other side and all the hardship is worth it.
So why all this talk about hardship, pain and suffering. Well that's because this past weekend was not easy but it was fun and it gave me some great lessons to move on with.
This Saturday just passed I took part in a Spartan Race at Mount Seymour in North Vancouver. I will be open and honest here; I did no obstacle training whatsoever and that was a big mistake! Sometimes I just go with the flow and fly by the seat of my pants.
Some people have training plans and are very meticulous with training, kit and nutrition. I have always gone by how I feel and what I feel, I need to do for training. It is an approach that has worked in the past, when I ran marathons, half marathons, 10k's and my 50k this year and so I stuck with it.
With the Spartan Race there was a lot of upper body work like going over walls, cargo nets, monkey bars, moving sand bags, going under barb wire. In all there were 23 obstacles and so it was a hard work out for sure, and somewhere along the course I strained my shoulder.
My shoulder didn't give me too much grief immediately and I think that was the adrenaline of the race. Later that day it was giving me grief, and Randi suggested maybe I shouldn't do my long run in Squamish the next day. I'm a runner though and I thought I would be fine and could run through it.
Sunday morning rolled around and my shoulder was super sore, but I was damned if I was going to miss out on my run. The run started and it hurt a lot, but I gritted my teeth and kept going. The only thing is, I was concentrating on the pain and missed a marker, and I took the wrong turn and did 5k extra than everyone else.
It was a hot day and it was 32, maybe 33 out on the trails, and so heat, pain and extra distance all added up to the suffering. In fact it was so hot, I ended up one point bonking. Bonking is what runners call it when you just run out of power. I stopped and ate and drank and managed to get myself going again.
I did manage a 3rd in my age group for the Spartan race and even through my run on Sunday was tough, I still managed a reasonable time, and I know I can push myself really hard and I know that's what I need for my 50miler.
So where did it all begin?
Why do I run now and what started me on to a lifetime of running?
It all began at school and from an early age I realised I did not really fit in and I suppose other kids noticed this. This led to me being bullied on a fairly regular basis up to high school when by some strange occurrence I was befriended by one of the toughest kids in the school.To this day I'm not sure why he befriended me, but it made high school a lot easier.
I found that bullies are bigger and not always that fit. I found out I could run reasonably fast and far. Therefore when trouble was going to strike, I decided to make a dash for it.
I found I enjoyed running even if it was to escape something in life. After school I joined Boys Brigade kind of like Scouts and so I ended up running outside of school time.
It started as sprinting and track work, then I ended up doing cross country and even some assault causes during my stint with the army. I kept my running up through adulthood, but it was not until my thirties that I decided to tackle my first marathon.
I found the training and the long runs were a great escape from adult life like running was as a kid. I suppose escape may not be the right word, but I find running clears the stress, takes the edge of the day; it's like my version of meditation.
So in my thirties I did three marathons and a whole host of other races and really enjoyed it. I joined a couple of athletic clubs and even ran a steeplechase race (never again). It was great to race and push myself and have a goal.
Turning now to the current date I will have turned 40 a couple of months before my first 50 mile race. I am having, for want of a better word, a renaissance as I head towards my forties. I have embraced trail running and I'm loving running all over again and pushing myself even further.
I had decided last week that I would go for a long run with a lot of elevation to prepare myself for my 50 mile race in August. I'm a member of a Facebook group for local runners called the Buntzen Burners and posted my plans in the group to see if anyone wanted to join me.
As it was a weekend long run and people have plans I arranged to meet Neelam and Gabriela at 7am at the first parking lot at Sasamat lake. Sunday came and I met with Neelam and Gabriela who I had not met previously but that's how it goes with trail running; you meet new people and make new friends.
I had heard about Neelam from one of the other runners I met from the group and knew she was running at the Squamish race aswell. I had tried to run with Gabriela before but the timing didn't work.
Neelam had invited along Reza whom I had run with before. He is a similar level of endurance and speed to myself but he is in his sixties so he really impresses me.
My original idea was to run a half lap of Sasamat lake and up the Sugar Mountain trail and then up and over the Diez Vista ridge to the north end of Buntzen lake. As I was not running solo, I asked the others what they preferred and Gabriela suggested, she did not want to go up Sugar Mountain and wanted to go straight up to Diez Vista via another trail.
We missed that trail and which ended up being the first wrong turn of the day. So we skipped the half lap and ended up going up Sugar Mountain anyway. We had a good run at a conversational pace and it was nice to run and chat. Getting to know other runners is all good fun.
We ended up at the dam at the back of the northern end and northern beach of Buntzen lake. The plan was to go up the Swan Falls trail and around the Lindsay lake loop and back down and back over Diez Vista.
The run would be 4-6hrs approximately... well that was the plan but things don't always go to plan. Plans can change or things can go awry and in hindsight, I'm glad I packed plenty of fluids, nutrition, a cell phone and a map.
There are a number of trails that form part of the Halvor Lunden trail system, named after a Norwegian guy who moved to BC and had a great infinity for the amazing natural wonders we have here, and put together the amazing trails around Buntzen.
So I spotted a sign for the Halvor Lunden trail and assumed it was for the Swan Falls, but it turns out we had turned too early. We ran down a service road/track and part way down I felt something wasn't right and made me recall looking at my map the night before.
Part way along this service road I mentioned to the others that I thought we had taken a wrong turn and suggested we maybe should double back. The general consensus was to keep going and try the trail, we would get to along this service road.
We came to the bottom of a trail called Dilly Dally. We started up and it was very technical, difficult and steep elevation but as ultra/trail runners, we were determined and power hiked up. I think maybe we were the first to tackle this trail for the season as there was a lot of fallen trees to get over or limbo under.
In parts there was some asphalt, tracks and even a ladder and some timber laden trails, we assumed it was perhaps once an old logging route?
Due to 3 creek crossings, limboing trees, trying to find the trail markers and the steepness of the trail it was tough going and it took us about 5 hours or so to get to roughly 900mtrs.
At that point we felt that as the trail was so tough to get up and so technical, it was worth trying to push on to the summit which was about 1250mtrs so about another 350mtrs.
Perhaps not the best plan but it was a plan and one we all agreed on. It was at this point that we spotted the first patches of snow but it was not too much of an issue at that point.
At 1000mtrs the snow was high, slippy and heavy packed. It got very tricky but we couldn't face the route back and wanted to summit the peak and head back down the trail which would be Swan Falls which was the one we should have taken in the first place.
We pushed on to about 1100mtrs and the snow got even harder packed. We didn't have gloves or crampons but being the sort of runners, we were, we wanted to push on. I went ahead to see if I could find further markers and whether the snow was covering them, but I couldn't see them.
It was make or break time; risk going up and find the other trail back down or risk being stuck up on the peak and have to contact search and rescue. We got the map out but I have to be honest, I'm not the best at map reading. We decided to try to get hold of someone at search and rescue to determine if it we could summit or best to go back down.
We ended up getting a girl at the Coquitlam RCMP who thought we were in North Vancouver and not in the Tri Cities. She said we should go back down, didn't connect us to anyone, didn't take our details and didn't seem to be all the concerned. Neelam, when we got back down, was less than impressed with the call.
We took a vote and decided to head back down, as it turned out it was tough going but not as hard as the way up and we got down quicker than we thought. As a precaution I called Randi to let her know where we where and what had happened and that we were ok.
On the way up and on the way back Reza had slipped on the same creek crossing hitting his tail bone, but he just kept going. We shared our nutrition and hydration and by the time we got to the bottom we were able to joke about the ordeal. The others had come up with some new names for the Dilly Dally trail. I also found out later from a member of the local search and rescue that it's one of the toughest trails in the area.
Our cars were still parked at Sasamat so Neelam used my cell to call her husband who picked us up at Buntzen and dropped us back at our cars. In the end its was a 9 hour hike. It was certainly an adventure and I think, we will be firm friends now.
People don't come right out and say it, but you can sense from their reactions or from what they say that they pretty much think I am crazy.
I hear things like I don't drive that far or similar, but I suppose some people don't run, others run shorter distances or perhaps don't get that I have a drive to push my limits.
So what made me decide to take on the challenge of running an ultra trail race? I think it's the fact that I have ran and competed at different race distances and felt I had achieved what I wanted to. My current personal best for the marathon is 3hrs30. I have been told I could get under 3hr30 and possibly 3 hours but maybe when I am ready I might try again.
For now I am happy with what I have managed from 5k to the marathon and I want to push the limits of what I felt my body was possible of doing.
It's surprising what you can achieve and a prime example is this past April I toed the line at the Diez Vista 50k trail race. Three weeks before the race I managed to roll my ankle whilst out training on the trails. The typical runner that I am I rolled it at 20k and thought it wasn't a bad roll and continued to run another 10k. I discovered when I got back to my car that it was pretty bad and I could not put weight on it for serval days.
I iced and applied a rub which is infused with therapeutic-grade essential oils on my ankle and after a week or so's rest, I started training again but just smaller runs. Add to that I picked up a virus two days before the race and you could say I was not in optimum shape to do any race, but me being me I decided to toe the line and drop out at an aid station if it became too much.
Well as it happened, I surprised myself as I pushed on through right to the finish line with a time of 5hrs59, a top 30 finish and my first ever ultra trail race and 50k firmly under my belt.
So I had eyed with fascination the Squamish 50 mile race before me and Randi had made the move from the UK to Canada. So in December of last year after having been in Canada for just a little over two years, I thought the time is now; I'm going to register and go for it.
I suppose another reason for heading into the ultra marathon scene is that I'm no elite athlete and I'm unlikely to get much quicker, but maybe I can go longer, further and have some fun along the way.