Exploits of a Mid-Packer
Updated: 1 min 40 sec ago
The morning started almost exactly like it had two years before. An alarm went off at 4:30am and the 50-mile runner in our group was getting ready. I was groggy in my corner of the hotel room and when Ryne drove Stacie to the race start I tried to catch a few more precious hours of sleep before my own race. I tossed around for about an hour before fears of oversleeping forced me awake for good. I began to eat my breakfast, giving my stomach a chance to digest. I hoped the 'Goodluck Granola'
would rub off on me.
By the time Ryne came back to pick me up, I had stretched out, eaten and was in my race gear. Let's go. We pulled up to Snoqualmie Elementary just in time to see the relay runners head out. We said hi to race director John Dickson at the start line and then the countdown began. 5...4...3...2...1...GO!
Ryne and I took off down the street with one other male and female runner. Ryne and I joked that we were stiff and this was not a good start, man, we really ought to just go back to sleep, who's idea was this anyways?? Down the main drag, over the river on a one-lane bridge, down a short hill and then back across the river on a coverted railbridge. There, now we were on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, our path for the next few hours. Annie Thiessen and I ran together for the first few kilometers and we chatted away. She has the course record and can easily run Mt. Si in sub-4hours, so I was glad to run with her for a bit, but knew it wouldn't last for long. Soon enough I was running solo and in second place. I put my game face on and ran the first 10km hard. This is the flat section before the trail slowly winds upwards at a train-friendly grade. It had begun to rain shortly into the race and continued on and off throughout the day, but was refreshing, not cold.
(Photo Credit: Takao Suzuki)
As the trail climbed upwards I too slowed gradually. I was trying to hit the Rattlesnake Aid Station between 1:18 and 1:22. I came up a bit short in 1:23. I was packing gels and blocks so I stopped only briefly to take a swig of energy drink. I knew I had a bit of a lead, but wasn't sure by how much so I simply kept running. After Rattlesnake, you switchback up through a short forested trail and then come back out onto a wide trailway. I actually really like this section. There are two big steel signs, one where the race first joins the trail that says "Cedar Falls", and a few kilometers from our turn-around that says "Ragnar". I like to imagine the stops these used to be on the rail line; a cluster of houses perhaps? or maybe a logging camp? Anyways, I was puttering along here, clearly losing my focus and my game face. I knew this was happening and could see that my pace was slowing. I willed my legs to turnover faster, but they weren't responding. The current onslaught of rain was thick and heavy. I kept trucking along and all of a sudden a chipper, energetic voice pipes up behind me, calling out hello. And then she was gone. Down to third place. Determined to not lose any more spots, I hit the "mean-downhill" turn around, filled my waterbottle and grabbed another sip of energy drink before power-hiking back up to the trailway. 2:16 to the 25km mark. On my way up, I saw the fourth and fifth place women. Darn, they were close.
I tried to keep a steady rhythm and pick up the pace on the now-downhill, but to no avail. Oh, I was faster than the way up and not slow, but certainly not as fast as I should have been. Especially since downhill is my specialty. It was a relief when I again saw the "Cedar Falls" sign. Again the little switchbacks and then back into Rattlesnake Aid at 3:18. I knew I didn't have time to stop, so I pushed right on through.
I enjoyed the downhill out of Rattlesnake, but again didn't feel like I was getting the leg speed I knew I had. The upshot was there are several long straightaways here and so I could look back to make sure nobody was behind me. I hit the flat stretch and knew at this point I had 10km to go. 3:40. I was going to have to kick it into a new gear if I wanted to beat my previous Mt. Si time. I gave myself a quick and stern talking to. Ok Kristin,
I said to myself, it's go time. Suck it up for an hour, lay the hammer down and you can take the rest of the day off. It'll all be worth it, I promise.
So I did. I was able to get my focus back and put the game face back on. I started clicking off the kilometers. Now I was running under the freeway overpass, 8km to go. Then the relay exchange in North Bend, 5km to go. I checked my time constantly. I was puffing away, using my breathing as a tool to maintain my concentration. I looked ridiculous, gritted teeth and a firm brow, but hey, it worked. Now the golf course, 3km to go. Then the rail bridge, 1.5km to go. I checked my watch, I could make it, but I needed to keep it up for another 8 minutes. I crossed the second bridge and came into the town of Snoqualmie. I rounded the corner and hit the road. I kept on strong and the saw Ryne cheering me from the sidelines. He did a time check and said I was good. I rounded the corner and curved into the homestretch. 4:34:04!! John came out to meet me and presented me with a really neat glass finisher's medal and I gave him a hug. I was so happy to have come full-circle. I not only ran a new 50km PB, but secured a third place podium finish and was second in the open women's category (for which I got a ribbon). I was also 7th overall, which was pretty cool.
My winnings :P
This race was redemption for me. I had won it back in 2011 in 4:37:12. It remains my first and only win. Last year, when I went back to defend my title, I had to pull out at Rattlesnake (16km) due to injury. So this year, while there was no pressure, I knew I needed to prove to myself that I still had the leg speed and running talent.
If you've been keeping up with my previous posts, you'll know I've been running more than ever before. 375km in March and on target for the same if not more in April. I revelled in the fact that I had increased my mileage but hadn't had any injuries or niggles. Well, the last two weeks before the race day I starting getting some posterior tibialis issues. I worked with my physio and had four rounds of IMS, but had to cut back on the running. Luckily this all happened during my taper, but it did have me worried for race day. And not a niggle during the race! Oh, my body was, and is sore, but nothing specific, thank goodness.
A huge congratulations to both Ryne and Stacie for their amazing races! It certainly was a ahppy car ride home.Gear:
-Balego running socks
-Nike 2-in-1s running shorts
-Columbia "Anytime Active" shortsleeve
-Moving Comfort "Charity" sports braGrub:
- 3x raspberry Clif shots
- 1 package wildberry Clif bloks
To continue on in the vein of my last post, I am running more than ever before and I'm feeling good!
Yesterday was the culmination of a 111km week; my longest ever! It was enough mileage to push my yearly total over the 1000km mark; something I have never achieved this early on before (usually it takes me till the end of April or early May). While my legs are fatigued and sore, I am not injured or hobbling down the street. I may not be improving my speed, but I feel like my endurance is leaps and bounds better than it has been before. I was even saying yesterday that this may be the year I finally toe the line of a 100km race. I just may have the endurance for it nowadays! To that end, any suggestions on runnable 100km races in the summer/fall/winter would be appreciated.
To ensure that I can keep up with these high mileage weeks, I have been taking care of myself with the diligence of a prima ballerina. I have become committed to my post-run stretch; taking a good 30-45 minutes to stretch out my muscles and flush away any lactic acid build-up. I make a point of getting on the foam roller, focussing on any trouble spots or knots. I'll often do some self-massage techniques as well, using Traumeel cream (containing arnica--a natural anti-inflammatory) on sore areas. I often wear compression socks or sleeves to aid in my recovery. And a couple times a week I'll relax in an epsom salt bath. Oh - and I consider yoga to be a part of my running routine. I attend a yoga class at least once a week to keep me limber. All these things in combination help keep me from becoming injured and reducing the general muscle aches that come part-and-parcel with high mileage. I've learned that you can't skimp out on yourself; you really need to take the time to recover and heal.
Well, after this morning's Easter Sunday run, I have officially run more this March than I have ever run before in a month. 375km. For me, this is a lot of running! I ran 26 times in 31 days, totaling almost 39hours of running! The best part is that I am feeling great. Tired, true, but strong and healthy. I haven't been plagued with injuries like last season and I am feeling in better shape than I have in a long time. I'm having fun and am especially enjoying the weekly long runs with my running clinic.
With the Easter long weekend I am doing back-to-back-to-back long runs. I'm thrilled with how I feel because for a while now I've been toying with the idea of trying a multi-day stage race. This weekend, with the hope of running 100km over 4 days gives me a good idea of how I would feel in such an event. I'm looking forward to my upcoming races (namely Mt Si) and am exited to be training hard and feeling great!
Here's to April! Happy trails!
Well, after a tug-of-war between the winter rains and the spring sunshine, I think spring has finally arrived!
The days are getting warmer and longer, the sun is shining and the spring flowers are starting to bloom. Everywhere I look I see daffodils and crocuses gracing people's front lawns. In the woods, the salmon berry bushes are starting to bud and the wildlife is waking up from their respective winter's sleep. I have seen mamma deer with little fawns in tow twice now. The birds are chirping merrily away, singing spring in. And while running around the seawall the other week I saw two otters! Wild sea otters in Vancouver; quite the sight and certainly a coup for the endangered species.
Here's to the world waking up around us and new beginnings! Happy trails!
Chuckanut 50...take 4.
I am so thrilled with last weekend's running of Chuckanut!
Instead of staying down at Sammish Lake with friends for the weekend (nobody in our crew was racing this year), Ryne and I decided to simply drive down the morning of the race. It made for an early morning to make sure we crossed the border in time. It all worked out though and we were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed by the time we rolled into the parking lot at the start/finish area. We picked up our race bibs, chatted with Krissy and Ma Moehl, and caught up with all sorts of friends while waiting for the start gun.
Soon enough the race started and us runners funnelled through the narrow starting line and were off on the Interurban Trail. Since the start/finish has moved from Fairhaven Park, this is an added 1.5km rolling section of the Interurban. It meanders along Paddon Creek and at one point you run underneath a beautiful old bridge. Then, with the exception of a little dipsy-doo into Arroyo Park, it's fast and flat along the Interurban until the first aid station 11km in. I felt strong all along here. Ryne and I ran together for the first 5km and friends would run alongside for a bit here and there. There was a great community vibe as everyone stretched their legs and caught up on happenings since the last race. Some friends I expected to pass me didn't, and I felt light and speedy. Krissy and Kathleen cheered me on from the aid station and I grabbed an orange segment before heading off again.
Up, up, up we switchbacked along the Fragrance Lake trail. I really like this section. It felt more runnable than last year and I felt confident that I was making decent time. I love cresting the rise with the Fragrance Lake sign before you jiggy-boo down and around Fragrance Lake itself. I always feel like shouting out "weeeeee!!!" as I weave and wind my way down the singletrack. It definitely kept me smiling. There were some noticeable changes to the trails as some serious trail work had been done since last year's race. The torrential downpours the week before the race had left lots of mud and muck to play in.
Weeeee!!! Down I come into Fragrance Lake - Aid Station 2
(Photo Credit: Glenn Tachiyama)
Cool black & white shot coming into Fragrance Lake
(Photo Credit: Dave Svensson)I filled my bottle at the Fragrance Lake aid station and stocked up on some goodies, knowing I'd need them to tackle the incessant uphill that is Cleator Rd. I actually ran most of Cleator Rd this year. Okay, I power-hiked some of it too, but it didn't feel as breath-clawing, quad-numbing, back-breakingly steep and unabating as it has in previous years. Before I knew it, I had rounded a corner and there was the third aid station and Linda cheering me on.
On to the ridge section. I had a little difficulty here for a couple of reasons. First, it was muddy and slick and I didn't feel as confident in my footing as I have in the past. The reason I didn't feel confident was, surprisingly, my shoes. I was wearing my go-to Mountain Masochists that I know and love. However, this was an older model that I'd scored, heavily discounted, at the outlet mall (shhh!!). It was the version with the leather on the medial side of the shoe and the mesh on the lateral side. I hadn't been entirely thrilled with it from the beginning, but figured they would be fine to race in. Unfortunately, because of the leather, my foot felt offset in the shoe and I began to develop what felt like sizable blisters. I could feel my foot sliding front-to-back and side-to-side and ran the ridge and down Dan's Traverse with caution; treading my way carefully so as to minimize the slippage. (Note: they no longer make this version, with the leather. I still love the Masochist and it is my favourite trail runner. I've never before had an issue and doubt I ever will again.)
I chugged along the Lost Lake trail with a couple of guys who kept up a steady stream of banter. They kept trying to convince me to take the offered shot of whiskey at aid station 4. I politely declined, but it was all I heard about for at least twenty minutes. It was quite entertaining as we dodged the quicksand-like mud puddles. For the first time ever, I almost felt my shoes being entirely sucked off. Thankfully, they hung on! The time flew and again, I felt strong. I slowed a bit during the descent into aid station 4, again because of my shoe-slippage, but pulled in and took a quick breather. I had begun getting some L groin pain, so I asked for a tylenol just to be sure it didn't get worse. I grabbed some energy bloks and homemade energy bars and started the climb up Chinscraper. Actually, I stopped, untied my shoe laces, tightened the heck out of my shoes, and re-laced them in triple knots. I knew I would need that for the downhill after Chinscraper.
I have come to realize that Chinscraper is my absolute weak point on the Chuckanut course. It may have felt shorter and easier, but it certainly didn't go by faster time-wise. By this point, I was four hours into the race and it had begun to monsoon. I am not exaggerating. It was coming down in sheets of driving rain. Chinscraper is one of the more exposed sections and it is always the coldest part with the breeze off Chuckanut Bay. Well, it definitely gave me goosebumps this year, in only a short-sleeve running shirt and capris! That said, I'm a Westcoast girl and I really do love the rain (I know, I'm crazy!). I couldn't stop smiling, I was just having such a blast. Poor Glenn, by the time I reached him he looked frozen solid! What a stand-up guy, braving the elements just so us crazy runners can get some paparazzi shots. Thanks Glenn!
Action shot! I almost slide back down Chinscraper
as I hit a muddy patch!
(Photo Credit: Glenn Tachiyama)
To the top of Chinscraper and then down to the road, past aid station 3 again. In years past the course would jump onto Fragrance Lake trail for a bit before coming out onto a forest service road that took you the 6km down to the 1st/5th aid station. I used to run at break-neck pace down this road, bombing along and passing people along the way. This year; instead of jumping onto the road, we stayed on Fragrance Lake all the back to the Interurban Trail; retracing our steps from earlier in the day. I was interested to see how the course changes would affect my race. I found the changes a lot more fun. It was awesome being on double- and singletrack, right in the thick of the woods. There weren't many people along here, or at least, most people were spaced far enough apart that passing wasn't a huge issue. However, where the changes made the course more fun, I also think that the course become overall a touch slower. All those switchbacks to slow down around instead of an open road straightaway. Ah well, change is good. I hit the last aid station and knew I had 11km left to go. I wanted to break the 6 hour mark again this year and would have my work cut out for me to do so. I put my head down and went for it. I passed about a half-dozen women here; slowly raking them in as I powered on ahead. I kept waiting for things to hurt; for my legs to blow up, but I felt good. I hit the turn-off for last year's finish at Fairhaven Park and knew I had just over a kilometre left to go. I gritted me teeth and began the final sprint. I crossed the finish with a chip time of 5:58:55. Oh yeah!
I repeat: I am thrilled with this year's running of Chuckanut. I felt strong almost all the way through and
really didn't have any pain or discomfort. I was able to get a sub-6hr time for the second year in a row and improved my place by two spots from last year. To top it off, I ran 11km the day after Chuckanut and 16.5km two days after. I have never before been able to run that soon after or that far after an ultra. This was my 15th ultra finish and I feel as though I am in better shape than I have ever been and really look forward to the 2013 season. It should be a good one!
Thanks again to Krissy for another awesome Chuckanut. Huge thanks to the volunteers and the friendly faces along the course. Thank you for standing out in the pouring rain to help me achieve a goal. A huge congrats to all my fellow Chuckanut friends, both new and old; Mel, Ryne, Sarah, Stacie, Jackie, Wade, Dom, Chad, Gary, Nicola and Shauna. And a special congrats to Ermin for running and finishing his first ultra. Here's to the passion and addiction of ultra-running!
-Montrail Mountain Masochists (old-school version)
-Smartwool PhD running socks
-Asics Performance Run capris
-Columbia "Anytime Active" short-sleeve
-Moving Comfort "Charity" sports bra
-2x Strawberry Clif shots
-9 clif bloks (various flavours)
-homemade energy bar
Last weekend we headed down to run Lord Hill. It is part of the Evergreen Trail Runs
series. Ryne and I both ran the 50km last year and while he was game for the same, I didn't feel up to running a third 10-mile loop, so registered instead for the 20 Mile race.
Race morning was cloudy and mild. What a difference from last year's rain! I felt mentally a lot more prepared for the race and, by literally knowing what was around every corner, knew what I was up against. Not having a 20mile split from last year's race, I was looking for a decent 20mile training race to prep for Chuckanut
We started out in the mud and slop, literally jumping across a creek before making our way up and around to the aptly named "Oh Lord Hill". Let me put this bluntly; it is a beast of a climb! It is a 100m long climb that climbs something like136m in elevation. It pretty much knocks everyone on their butts. The ever-smiling Glenn Tachiyama was on hand to capture each and every runner's gritted teeth as they crested the hill.
Grin of relief after Oh Lord Hill
(Photo Credit: Glenn Tachiyama)
After the hill you run along the power lines for a bit before hooking right into on of my favourite sections. We turned onto a singletrack trail that skirted Temple Pond. I really do wonder about all the
ponds in Lord Hill Park because they all have these eerie tree stumps standing starkly in their waters. It can be quite peaceful on a calm morning, but it almost looks as if these trees have all been raptured or something.
The trail meanders around the lake before hooking onto a wider, more frequented trail. This leads to a little out-and-back to the aid station. Situtated mid-course it acts as aid for each loop. It is also a nice way to see the runners ahead of you. I saw Ryne and Mel Bos looking strong on their way back out.
After you leave the aid station you turn onto a cool 'homemade' trail called 'Wayne's World'. It is rough singletrack and you dodge several swampy areas and cross log-bridges here and there. It's really fun and one of my favourite sections. It's only about 800m or so, but it makes you feel lost in the wild.
Last year I positively hated the loop that followed; a long lollipop out on fireroad followed by a
rollercoaster singletrack around another weird tree-stumpy lake. This year though, I felt strong. There was a murmuration of starlings chattering away happily and I almost felt as though they were cheering me on. Either that or they were wondering what on earth this strange being in bright colours was doing in their midst.
From here it was down a long straigtaway, gathering speed and making up time before the last lollipop. Glenn had moved here to get different paparazzi shots and it was a pleasant surprise to see a friendly face.
(Photo Credit: Glenn Tachiyama)Down the last little section which shoots you downhill on fireroad and then has you go straight back uphill alongside a muddy creekbed. Again, this section defeated me last year, but it felt totally do-able this year. Up the creekbed I went before the homestretch along the powerlines and down Oh Lord Hill on an adjacent switchback trail. Finished lap one, on to the second and in my case, final lap.
I was really happy with this race. Everything felt better than last year; each little loop and section felt shorter and easier. I knew what was coming up next and what to expect. My body felt stronger physically, and mentally knowing I only had two loops total made things seem more manageable. The weather played a big role too; no rain, just overcast, but mild. I was really interested to see how my opinion of the race would change simply by changing my race distance, training and then the uncontrollable weather. I ended up having a great time. The race is very well-organized and extremely well-marked (I don't know how people get lost!), the volunteers were friendly and helpful and it was overall a great event.
I finished my last loop strong and was able to come in 10th woman overall with a time of 3:45:29. Pretty good for a training race! Now on to Chuckanut....
-Montrail Mountain Masochists
-Smartwool PhD running socks
-Asics Performance Run capris
-Asics Performance Run longsleeve
-Moving Comfort 'Charity' sports bra
-2x Raspberry Clif Shots
-5 individual Clif Bloks
Yesterday was the First Half half-marathon put on by Pacific Road Runners here in Vancouver. It was a beautiful morning and as Ellie, Mike and I drove across the Lion's Gate Bridge into downtown Vancouver, we had a beautiful silhouette view of Mt. Baker. We pulled into the Roundhouse Community Centre and were met with the chaos of 2000 runners and their people in the midst of their pre-race rituals.
I dropped my bag off at bag check and meandered about. I ran into some friendly faces and whiled the time chatting away. After killing some time, it was finally time to line up at the race start. The gun went off and away we went.
The course starts with a 3km loop around the stadiums before heading back out towards and onto the seawall. I was so happy to get back out on the seawall. When I used to live in Vancouver proper the seawall was my training ground; I prepped for my first marathon (BMO Vancouver Marathon) on the seawall. It is one of Vancouver's gems; 22km of paved path alongside the water. It starts in Coal Harbour, wraps around Stanley Park, along English Bay and into False Creek, around Science World and out to Kitsilano. I have logged many miles and have many running memories on the seawall. So we hooked onto the seawall and ran along Sunset Beach. Past the start area the crowd disappeared, but there were still clusters of people cheering us runners on. It was nice and laid back. I started to warm up along this stretch and took off my gloves; I was ready to simply cast them aside but then I saw Mike and Sukhi on the grassy slopes of English Bay and tossed my gloves to them instead. They cheered me on and away I went. Before long I saw Ermin, who snapped a photo and cheered. Down we went in towards Second Beach Pool but then veered towards Lost Lagoon. This nearly 2km stretch spans the isthmus between English Bay and Burrard Inlet. I was feeling really great. I felt speedy but relaxed. I was running with my iPhone; I use the Nike+ Running app which uses GPS and updates pace, etc. I don't have a head for numbers and am terrible at calculating splits and pace and such from a basic watch. I find this much more helpful and used it to touch base to see my speed. I was running at a pretty fast pace and given that I've really just gotten back into things in January, was quite pleased.
I kept on around and saw Ward who was whooping and hollering at Brockton Point. I passed the 10km mark in 47:27. I was feeling great! I then made the decision to put my iPhone away into my waterbottle. I kept on, under the Lion's Gate Bridge and towards Siwash Rock. The North Shore mountains were snow-capped and golden in the morning sun. The water was calm and everything seemed peaceful before the rush of recreationalists later on in the afternoon. It was easy to lose myself in the rhythm of running. I lost count of the people around me and felt myself just grinning from ear to ear. I was so enjoying my surroundings. Honestly, everything I run, rollerblade or bike the seawall I fall in love with Vancouver all over again. It truly is one of the world's most beautiful cities. But I digress...
Coming back along Sunset Beach
(Photo Credit: Ermin Pagtakhan)We past Third Beach and rounded Ferguson Point before heading back towards Second Beach. Here we made another loop of Lost Lagoon. I saw Ran both in and out of the loop here and got the requisite high five. Lost Lagoon was filled with quaking of ducks and waterfowl; the swans and Canada geese oblivious to the crazy humans running alongside their murky waters. I completed the loop and then it was back along English Bay and Sunset Beach. Just before heading up the Granville St grunt I saw Ward again. He whooped and hollered again, shouting "you've got in the bag!". I burst up the hill and then down Pacific Ave to the homestretch. Ryne had come to the finish and I saw him just before I started sprinting across the line.
Coming down the homestretch
(Photo Credit: Ryne Melcher)
I feel both a little silly and perfectly happy about this race at the same time. Silly because Ryne took a look at my splints and after seeing that I ran the first 10km in 47:27 asked what happened? I had been on pace to run a 1:38 half and definite PB. But I didn't...ha! I just slowed right down and took it easy. Who knows if I had kept my iPhone and been keeping track of my pace, maybe I could have held on to it. But that's conjecture. In any event, I had intended all along for this to be a 'training race'. It was an excuse to run flat and fast along my old stomping grounds. To mimic race day and mix up my usual weekend run. So I was still happy with the run.
Besides, Ryne and I went out a couple hours later and did another 11km on the trails! :P Let the Chuckanut training begin!
All done! Gear:
-Mizuno Precision 12's-Sole sport socks-Moving Comfort 'Charity' sports bra-Asics longsleeve-Asics running capri
I started running ultramarathons four years ago, and had only done one marathon and one half prior to that. While I had to pre-register for the half- and full-marathons long in advance, the ultras were another story. I could run and "train" and if I was feeling up to it, sign up for a race that was occuring the next weekend. Heck, when I won the Mt. Si 50km, I literally signed up a few days before, for a "fun run"! Gone are the days.
As the sport of ultramarathoning grows in popularity, more and more races are filling up. Not only that, but as you've no doubt experienced yourself, many races are turning to a lottery system to sift through the bevy of applicants. This has it's pros and cons. While it is wonderful that more people are discovering the ultra scene and getting out to be active, it also makes race planning that much more important. Now runners need to commit to a race schedule well in advance, and prep and plan accordingly.
I've generally eschewed this mindset; or at least, not set things in stone, even if they are in my head. However, to not miss out on certain races, I've had to come up with a rough outline for 2013.
2013 Race Schedule
-First Half Half-Marathon - Feb 10 - Vancouver
-Lord Hill 20 Miler - Feb 24 - Seattle
-Chuckanut 50km - Mar 16 - Bellingham
-Mt Si 50km/50 Mile - April 28 - Seattle
-Copenhagen Marathon - May 17 - Copenhagen, Denmark
-*Crew* - Western States 100 - June 28 - Squaw Valley, CA
-Run for the Toad 50km - Oct 5 - Paris, Ontario
My race calendar always seems quite spring-heavy. I honestly haven't looked far enough ahead into the summer and autumn to plan anything there yet. Again, some of the above may be cut, but so far, this is the plan. I still would love to attempt my first 100km or 100miler as well. So I'll be taking a look into that and hopefully a race or two will work into my current race and work schedule. Suggestions are gladly accepted!
We had a lovely visit with George Sarson last night. He and his wife Peggy are the race directors for Canada’s largest trail race: The Run For the Toad
, which, incidentally, will play host to the Canadian 50km trail Championships this year.
Anywho, George was in town for a work and we were able to have dinner together before he left. We went to Heirloom, a wonderful, upscale vegetarian restaurant that opened last fall. The food is thoughtfully prepared, beautifully presented and delicious to both look at and eat. You leave fully nourished, not stuffed.
Understandably, our conversation turned to food and the importance of good food. I put myself through university by working for Fairmont Resorts during the summers. I worked in the fine-dining rooms and while my family will occasionally complained it turned me into a food snob, it in fact made me appreciate a well-prepared, lovingly-made meal. Even if I only served the food, rather than prepared it, I learned that one should take pride in preparing food. Even more important, one should take your time and enjoy the art of eating.
In my first year Fiction class, we read the novel “Like Water for Chocolate” by Mexican author Laura Esquivel. It was written in the style of magic-realism. The main character, Tita literally pours her emotions into the food she prepares. In doing so she makes people fall irreversibly in love, catch fire from lusty heat, weep from unimaginable sorrow and so on.
I really took to this idea; that one could cook with an emotion and transfer that feeling on to your diners through the food you had perpared. I love cooking, it is my downtime; a stress-release after a long day. I would much rather make something from scratch than buy it ready-made or frozen. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to know exactly what goes into my food and into my belly. When I started playing around with ‘cooking with emotion’, I thought of luck. I have what my Swedish heritage would call “lycka”. You could translate this as luck, but it is more than that; it is good fortune, it is the goddesses of fate weaving my happiness. Things turn out for me, and I know and trust that they always will.
So I decided to pour some of my “lycka” into my homemade granola. What better way to start the day than with fate on your side? I was manifesting luck for the eaters of my granola. Over the years I have perfected the recipe, tweaking it here and there, so that now it feels exactly right. I have given my “Good-luck Granola” as a gift and have been asked for it and the recipe by family, friends and strangers time and again.
I give it to you now. Good luck with the preparation and enjoy!
(Photo Credit: Kristin O.P.)Kristin’s “Good-Luck” GranolaIngredients~
-6 cups whole rolled oats
-1 cup chopped raw almonds
-1 cup chopped pecans
-1 cup pumpkin seeds
-1 cup chopped apricots
-½ cup dried cranberries
-½ cup flaxseeds
-¾ pure maple syrup
-½ cup cocunut oil
-1 tbsp ground cinnamon
-1 tbsp ground ginger
-1 tsp cardamom
-1 tsp sea saltDirections~
-Preheat oven to 225° F
-Combine oats, nuts, seeds (except flax), and seasonings in a large bowl.
-Heat maple syrup & coconut oil in a saucepan until just warmed. Drizzle over oat mixture and blend together using your hands or a wooden spoon.
-Spread mixture onto rimmed baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, stirring often until crisp and dried. Remove & cool before adding dried fruit and flaxseeds.
-Serve with plain yogurt, applesauce, or organic milk. Enjoy!
Well the first two weeks of the year have been a fabulous start to 2013!
To start; the sun has been shining and it has been clear, if crisp. For Vancouver, where winter more often than not equates to rain, this has been glorious. Everyone is in a better mood, and it makes getting outside so much more enjoyable.
The creek that runs near my work
(Photo Credit: Kristin O.P.)Work has been slow; people are still recovering from the holidays and getting back into the swing of things. As a result, I’ve been able to take the occasional extended lunch, or even leave early. I’ve done a few 5 and 10k runs during lunch; I layer appropriately and hit the Spirit Trail. This winding paved path is flat and fast, running you alongside neighbourhoods, parks, and commercial buildings until you join up with the Ambleside seawall. It’s quite a nice jaunt, mostly away from traffic but still on the road. It’s even nicer with the sun shining on your face; a much-needed elixir of warmth and vitamin D.
I’ve run 14 of the 2013‘s 17 days. Not too shabby. Granted, some of those have been as short as 5km, but I have run our ‘trail half-marathon’ loop three times. So I’m slowly working up my mileage. In fact, I’m on pace to run about 300km this month. For me, with all the other activities I do outside of work, that’s pretty darn good. Back in the fall I signed up for the First Half half-marathon. It’s a race I’ve been wanting to do for awhile;it follows the seawall along the water and around Stanley Park. It’s Vancouver running at it’s finest and very much what my typical runs were before moving to North Vancouver. I’ve no illusions that I will get a PR, but to be honest, I just want to get out and enjoy myself. That’s really my goal for 2013. Keep things fun. Keep a smile on my face. To that end, I will be running my 4th consecutive Chuckanut 50km this March. It is such a great start to the year, a reunion with the ultra community, and a good benchmark of fitness.
Snow-laden trees at Hollyburn
(Photo Credit: Kristin O.P.)With the mountains snow-covered and the sunny weather making things all the more inviting, I’ve taken advantage of our backyard here in North Vancouver. I’ve been snowshoeing and skate-skiing several times. A true Scandinavian, I feel right at home on the snow. There is something clarifying and soulful skate-skiing around the Hollyburn trails. The snow deadens any sound but the rustle of your skis and the trees seem to wrap around your shoulders like a cloak. The view over the city is stunning and I’ve seen some stirring sunsets from its heights. I practically grew up on the Hollyburn trails and the Lodge, with it’s warped floors and rough character, is an enchantingly rustic place for a steaming hot chocolate and inner peace. It’s my winter home.
Summer sun or winter snow, give me the great outdoors and a trail underfoot and I am sure to have a smile on my face.
Skate-skiing at Hollyburn
(Photo Credit: G Ohm)