Who says you can’t go home?

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of the town I grew up in.  I had some good times there, but there were some not so great times.  Once I left I realised how little it had to offer, but 12 years later I’m might just be reconciling with my home town.

Grafitti Runners?

Graffiti Runners?

I ran my first half marathon in May 2003, I ran it with my Mommy.  We trained together and if it hadn’t been for the company I never would have made it.  I remember her and I driving in large squares trying to map out 18km and 20km routes (long before “map my run” was on the scene).  Of course because we were using a car’s odometer we ended up on dreary main roads in the area, and to be honest there was really nowhere else to run.  Mommy and I grinded out many kilometers on sidewalk-less four lane roads, with cars honking at us, drivers throwing things at us and of course if it was wet, a never-ending stream of “puddle spray”.

With Dan and I now in the final stages of planning our “great escape” my running has been very sporadic, add to that living between Toronto and Newmarket, and never being sure where my running clothes are it was inevitable that I would eventually need to do a long run in Newmarket.

Thankfully things have changed a lot, and Mommy pointed me in the direction of the Tom Taylor Trail.  I decided to head out north on the trail and ran all the way to its official finish.

On the bridge at the end of the official trail, although it looks as though there are plans to carry it on.

On the bridge at the end of the official trail, although it looks as though there are plans to carry it on.

It was a lovely day for a run

It was a lovely day for a run

From there I  decided to continue on a well trodden path I spotted.  That got interesting when a) I realised I was running through a field that some of my friends and I used to go and drink in and b)  there was bloody construction.

End of the trail

End of the trail

 

Or is it?

Or is it?

I didn’t feel like going back around, so I just bush whacked along the fence to get back to the main trail.

Out I came, clearly not the first either.

Out I came, clearly not the first either.

Back on the main path I headed south, which took me past Bayview Park where all my elementary school cross-country meets took place.  It’s changed a lot but still brought a smile to my face thinking of all the fun times I had running through the muddy park.

 

They even have cute lights along the trail

They even have cute lights along the trail

 

Very creative trail distance markers.

Very creative trail distance markers.

I decided to turn around when I hit some more construction, but was able to run back up the opposite side of the river back to the exit point closest to home.  The best part of the day was yet to come when Mommy (and Dad) took Dan and I out took a new locally owned restaurant.  I always detested that we only had chain restaurants to choose from in Newmarket and was pleasantly surprised to be shown the revival of our downtown.  And most importantly, they served good beer.

At Hungry Brew Hops Pub, Main St Newmarket

At Hungry Brew Hops Pub, Main St Newmarket

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Where does the time go?

It’s been about a month since my last post and feel like lots has happened since and I also feel like nothing has happened. So I’m just going to give a quick run down of events.

Dan became a Canadian. And just in time too, dude holds everyone up crossing borders this should make life a little easier.

Dan charming the judge at his swearing in ceremony.

Dan charming the judge at his swearing in ceremony.

We sold this:

Our trusty car.

Our trusty car.

And bought this:

A truck makes so much more sense in the city...

A truck makes so much more sense in the city…

I was temporarily laid off.  Not a huge deal (except for the whole not getting paid bit) but unexpectantly stressful and scary for me. I’m lucky, I like my job and where I work, job security has never been a concern but we got new owners this year and everything work wise has been turned on its head. However, I tried to use this time wisely so I ran most days in the daylight, which was nice.

It's nice having the trails to yourself.

It’s nice having the trails to yourself.

Which way do you think I went?  Both! It's a short trail and I had the time.

Which way do you think I went? Both! It’s a short trail and I had the time.

Random ribbon tied to a tree.

Random ribbon tied to a tree.

You'll have to take my word for it but there is an owl in the tree.  I sat and watched it for a few minutes, but then a train went by and it flew away.

You’ll have to take my word for it but there is an owl in the tree. I sat and watched it for awhile it was beautiful.

Some people live in the woods in the city.

Some people live in the woods in the city.

And I caught up on some other hobbies too.

Made a skirt.

Made a skirt.

And some reusable gift bags.

And some reusable gift bags.

There was lots of yummy food cooked and baked, I could really get used to the stay and home wife thing except when it came to the paycheck.

I tried to run and race and it sucked. It was a fat ass half marathon called the Marquis de Sade put on by a local running store. Not being an official race meant no course markings, not being from the area meant carrying three sheets of paper that didn’t really help us. We somehow got separated from the group we were with and then proceeded to get lost. I think all my running while being off caught up to me too because the whole right side of me from the hip down felt like junk. I had niggles at ever joint, even my toes hurt. I gave up after 14km.

We started out as a group.

We started out as a group.

Here are the 3 sheets of paper, it was also very cold and windy that day, not a good day for trying to read maps.

Here are the 3 sheets of paper, it was also very cold and windy that day, not a good day for trying to read maps.

Then I didn’t run for 10 days. That wasn’t my intention, at first it was a few days to let my body rest and then I just didn’t feel like running. I suspect I was a little burnt out so the rest actually did me good. My runs since the break have been fantastic and I’m just taking it easy since I’m not really training for anything. Which leads me to…

Not being apart of the lucky 6%.  The 100 miler I did this year was a Western States qualifier and won’t be going forward so I threw my name in the lottery since I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to qualify again. Honestly I’m kind of relieved. This race is iconic but expensive and far away and with me not working it didn’t really make sense. That being said…

I’m back to work full-time which I’m happy about. I miss running in the daylight but that’s what the weekends are for.

I guess all that’s left is to figure out what’s next.

Batawa Fat Ass Trail Race 2013

This has been our last race of the season for the last 3 years.  And once again it did not disappoint.

Just to re-cap Dan and I spend a lot of time from May – October running on this course (and the trails around it) when we visit the family cottage.  Dan decided to run the 10km race again (watch less, since he forgot it at home) and I opted for the 17.5km distance.  Our friend Mitch was also running the 17.5km and was astounded by the fact that we knew no one at this race-it’s not an ultra so most of the familiar faces and friends we’ve made the last couple of years are absent at this event.

The plan; I didn’t have one.  After my DNF at Mogollon, I hadn’t been doing all that much training.  I wasn’t as bummed about it this time as I was the first, but I kind of felt like running and I needed a break, so yoga and I started hanging out, and then this race snuck up on me.  I’m in the middle of an inspiring fell running book (Feet in the Clouds), so I decided to race like a fell runner, which seems to be – run like hell and hope you can hang on.  Maybe not the best plan, but I had nothing else going for me.

The race started at 10am under very ominous skies that thankfully never developed into any real weather, it was cool but our motley crew still rocked our shorts.

Last race of the season, because a race any later in the year would require long pants.

Last race of the season, because a race any later in the year would require long pants.

The first 500 meters or so there is a little spur around the drive-way/parking lot, I like to boot this bit and get out in front of as many of the hill walkers as possible, it’s too easy to start walking when everyone around you is.  As I started to head up the ski hill, it hit me how little hill running I’ve been doing of late, my legs were burning as were the lungs, but you know what, it was exhilarating.  A little voice in the back of my mind reminded me that I would “pay for this later”, I told that voice to “shut up and let me enjoy this please!?!”.  Finally making it to the top I was sucking wind, but I refused to slow down, I love the single track at the top of the hill, and the decent I’m usually scared of on the backside I just bombed down like I had nothing to lose.

Dan waiting for the start of the 10km

Dan waiting for the start of the 10km

Next section is single track along the bottom of the hill, I settled into a slower pace, mainly because I was getting tired (oops only 3km in!) but I love me a challenge.  I blew through aid the aid station wondering why people wearing CamelBaks were stopping for water, the next section just kind of rolls, it’s part single track and part ATV track, we hit the first “water challenge” about 5km in, I giggled watching people trying to go around.  When this course is wet, there is no going around, so I plowed straight through, receiving a few complaints for “splashing” but hey “I’m on the other side now, come get me!”, yeah never saw them again.  What people need to realise is that even if you make it around the “water challenges” the track following is usually wet and very slippery, your feet will get wet and dirty (I actually heard someone complain about the dirt on their shoes), the track is sort of clay so the kicker is that all the mud sticks to your shoes and your feet feel about 10lbs heavier when you hit the rail trail.   The rail trail is a nice section to open things up so I took the opportunity to scoot by a few people, then back onto ATV track to the bottom of the hill, its single track back up to the top with a few log obstacles thrown in to make sure you’re paying attention.  On my climb back to the top of the hill I had to switch to a hike, I was feeling like I was going to barf, but thought it was still a little too early in the race for that.  I bombed back down the front side of the hill and ran straight up to the water station and stopped for a glass of water, was it me or was it getting warm?  Nausea has a way of messing with your core temperature.  Anyway first 7.5km done in 43:34, now it was time for the 10km section.

Look at that form! Yes, I'm a heel striker and no I'm not trying to change it.

Look at that form! Yes, I’m a heel striker and no I’m not trying to change it.

I love the first 5km, they are pretty flat and I needed that, what I had forgotten about was the water.  Water, water everywhere.  I watched as some people nimbly danced along the edge of the water and the brush, but took my usual route of right through the middle.  To people reading this and thinking about doing this race I should warn you that my way is not necessarily the best way, some of the water sections are deep (past my knee at one) and some are long (so long that there was a real threat of losing my shoe and I seemed to pick up a lot of silt) but I’m not a graceful enough runner to not end up falling in.  First 5km down in 29:39, now to the last 5km, which would see some more hill action.

Mitch has a lovely gait, but I still kicked his butt (I have to while I still have the chance)!

Mitch has a lovely gait, but I still kicked his butt (I have to while I still have the chance)!

There is a small out and back on this section so, there were (10km) runners coming at me as I started out, it’s always interesting to see who will yield to whom on this section, since I was still utilising my run through the water technique I didn’t encounter any of that awkwardness.  As I was running up the hill that “never looks that bad” but somehow always kicks my ass, my old friend from last year caught up to me, Jim, he is probably approaching 60 and so so much faster than me.  He humored me for a bit letting me lead through the fun downhill single track (side note: if it takes two runners screaming at you to let them by, your music is probably too loud, and I don’t mean just for this race, I mean in general), once we hopped the drainage ditch and hit the ATV track he waved good-bye and went back to kicking my butt.  I spent the rest of this section picking off runners who had gone out too hard (apparently I wasn’t the only one doing this) and misleading people through deep puddles of water.  I chatted a bit to a young guy who was running his furthest distance yet, he was happy for some company, it’s weird for me to see people down in such short races, but it’s all perspective, and it was his longest run ever, I told him he should be celebrating, he was going to set a PB, the smile that came across his face when he realised this is why I like running.  We finally popped out onto the last bit of road back to the finish, he of course sprinted away from me (after saying thanks) and I pretended to sprint after him (I still have zero kick) to finish in 1:47:57, good enough for 8th female (and yes there were more than 8 females), not too shabby for an under trained and out of shape ultra runner.

Post race was delicious as usual with chili and cookies, also all you could drink McDonald’s coffee from a coffee truck, which brings me to my next point, man has this race grown!  Nearly 700 participants this year, there is definitely some growing pains happening (mostly that people are being pains and complaining).  The spirit of this race is no frills fun, which is what it delivers, the website makes it very clear that you will be covered in mud (duh, it’s a trail race) and there is an award for “most lost” so no, the course markings are not every 5 feet.  I have no fear that the awesome RD Sandy will keep this race true to its roots and if people are look for a 5 Peaks Race, then that is what they should run.  I for one can’t wait to see what next year will bring.

Beer Mile Race Report 2013

Dan

Heather’s stipulation for the 2nd annual beer mile was that under no circumstances must Molson Canadian be the beer of choice. This resolution however quickly faded, as is tradition with the beer mile we provide beer for anyone foolhardy enough to enter, that mornings hung over (Heather not me for once) run to the Bleasdell Boulder left H somewhat spent, so the thought of travelling further than our local rural LCBO was decidedly unpalatable. This is how the field once again ended up with Canadian, to my mind whilst a vile beer a great choice for a Canada Day Weekend beer mile. Heather however was bound and determined to find an alternative that would fit within official beer miles rules, this is how she ended up with James Ready 5.5’s, I can only put this choice down to her lack of experience with bucka’ beers.

Having made a few more friends in the ultra community I have encountered more benchmarks for what constitutes a good beer mile time. In particular the Boultbee sisters sub 8 mins. Now in a normal race those ladies can kick my ass, but surely where beer is concerned and the mechanics of drinking said substance in abundance and quickly I had to have the advantage. I stand around 8 inches taller and out weigh them by the better part of a 100lbs. Non the less their time was over 2 mins faster than my previous years effort, but last year was my first effort at this and in general I have become a faster runner in this last year, perhaps this increased speed was to be the foundation of a beer mile legend…

Our motley crew of beer milers.

Our motley crew of beer milers.

We had several returning competitors, including Heather and her cousin Alex both seeking redemption, last year Alex avoided the lap of shame by the narrowest margins, finishing with hampsteresque cheeks full of vomit, and we know that Heather was the sole participant in the lap of shame.  Alongside these veterans we had a few newbies, not least of all Blake the younger brother of the previous years ladies title holder. Blake lined up in little more than flip-flops but from the go he was snapping at my running shoe clad heels. Don’t get me wrong dude looks like a runner, but damn he could put those beers away too.

Where'd everybody go?

Where’d everybody go?

But as Blake and I were duking it out a quite interesting fight for third place was brewing. Last years runner up Brandon was being bested by Alex, by his own admittance Brandon had let his running slide over the last year, but was Alex really going to be able to maintain this drinking pace?  It seems that in the last year Alex has spent as a student has strengthened his constitution, but surly he was punching out of his weight class.

Also new to the race we had Geoff who in his own right is a beer drinking champ but on this hot day the combination of the running and drinking led him to bow out after finishing the first loop in a respectable third place.

One of the biggest shocks of the race is reigning Masters Champion Dalton blowing a gasket after just 2 beers, this was blamed on the short duration between lunch and the event, and he is my father in law so what he says goes ;-). He then bowed out of the remaining race.   Last years runner up in the men’s masters took top honours in that division, congratulations to Neil.

Meanwhile I was 2 beers in with Blake still just seconds back, this bit of fun was all if a sudden feeling like a race, we trotted in for beer number 3 still with seconds separating us we each watched the other chugging at their beer neither of us wanting to go to fast and risk a technicolor explosion and at the same time not wanting the other to take the advantage. As we left for our penultimate lap I passed Alex still in third place and still with enough spring in his stride to high five me as he bounded by (our course is a 200m out and back).

Having a bit of fun before realising how close those legs were behind me!

Having a bit of fun before realising how close those legs were behind me!

Meanwhile in the ladies race Heather was the only returning combatant, going head to head with her was her mum Cathy and older sister Laura. The latter were both running with modified rules Laura chugging diet coke and Cathy an unappealing combination of cider and diet coke.  Both finished ahead of Heather but under beer mile official rules that leaves only Heather to take the official female title in a time of 19:50 mins, with no lap of shame. However there was copious post run vomiting.

Alex was the only one brave enough to go near Heather.

Alex was the only one brave enough to go near Heather.

Alex held on to his third place beating Brandon into fourth although I am not sure if he held onto his beer as he seemed to disappear into the woods for a long time post race.

As for Blake and me we came in for that final beer still only seconds apart, it was here however that I was able to pull away as Blake struggled a little with his last beer. I finished up just over 9 mins, would have been under had I not stopped for another beer forgetting to actually finish the race. I am bewildered at how much faster people can run this.

I did make a couple of errors that slowed me down, the long training run completed an hour so earlier probably slowed the legs down a bit. However the biggest mistake I made was making the beer ice cold, it actually hurt to chug it, maybe that is just because my British taste buds are accustomed to somewhat warmer beer.

When all said and done it was a blast, and if Blake trains as he was threatening to do I think next year I will be handing over my title.

Until next year my friends, stay thirsty!!

This and That

Where has the time gone?  Hard to believe that it’s been over a month since Sulphur.  We’ve been busy, somehow that always seems to happen in the summer, so here is a quick update.

1. It took me 10 whole days of rest before I could run after Sulphur.  I might have been able to try sooner but I didn’t want to push anything and I’m happy I took the rest.  I only lost one toe nail even though right after the race it looked more like I was going to lose whole toes.  After the swelling went down in my feet and ankles I noticed a small lump on the tendon running up from ankle.  Working in health care has its perks.

Sagittal view. The black oval shouldn't be there.

Sagittal view. The black oval shouldn’t be there.

Axial view.  My lovely tendon, with a cyst on top.

Transverse view. My lovely tendon, with a cyst on top.

Turns out it’s just a ganglion cyst.  It most likely developed from the tongue of my shoe rubbing my ankle.  I remember my tongue bugging me and telling Dan about it but I don’t think we did anything to fix it, so now I will wait and see if it goes away.  On the plus side it doesn’t hurt anymore.

2. Dan and I explored some new trails at Rattlesnake Point.  I like running here, lot’s of ups and down and more technical than what we usually run on.

A flat bit, finally.

A flat bit, finally.

There is a big rock.

There is a big rock.

3. Saw some wildlife.

A butterfly

A butterfly

This turtle was laying eggs in the driveway at the cottage.  Not the smartest place.

This turtle was laying eggs in the driveway at the cottage. Not the smartest place.

4.  Took a newbie out on the trails, cousin Alex, Dan tried to kill him and I chicked him.  We are such fun people to run with!

Good thing we took the photo before we ran.

Good thing we took the photo before we ran.

5. Dan’s parents arrived from England for a visit and their first half marathon at the Niagara Ultra.  Dan ran the 50km, and I dropped down to the half so I could keep my mother in law company and throw water on her head.  Turned out to be a pretty hot and humid day, something that in-laws had not been used to running in (ever apparently), so the heat caused some havoc for them but they soldiered on.

At the start of their fist half marathon

At the start of their fist half marathon

Mummy-in-law at the turn around.

Mummy-in-law at the turn around.

Dan returning from his hot 50km

Dan returning from his hot 50km

A family of medal hoarders

A family of medal hoarders

6.  Dan and I ran to the Bleasdell Boulder.  Dan has passed the sign for the boulder for the last 7 years and decided he just had to see it, I’ve passed that sign my whole life and have never been all that fussed.  Now we can both say we’ve seen the large erratic.

It's not small.

It’s not small.

It was Canada Day that weekend so we stopped to look at some decorations in Batawa on route to the boulder.

Batawa dressed up for Canada Day.

Batawa dressed up for Canada Day.

There may have been a beer mile and a fastpacking adventure in there too, but I’m hoping to get my act together and write more detailed posts about those.  Next up is Limberlost this weekend, I can’t wait for a hot 56km on my favourite 14km loop.

Left Unsupervised

While the cats away the mice will register for 100 mile races.

Little does she know

Little does she know

So Heather left for a final training run on the Sulphur Springs course where she will be running a hundred miles in a few short weeks.  Leaving me behind to do the exercises prescribed to me by the Physio and clean the condo. However as I have a lot of pent-up energy from not running this week I was able to dispatch with these tasks at warp speed, leaving me with time on my hands, and what does a guy do when he has time on his hands and it is too early to crack a beer? He registers to run a hundred miles obviously.  Oh and incase you are wondering how H will have found out about this? She just read it!

Bahahahahaha

Bahahahahaha

Don't mind if I do

Don’t mind if I do

100 will do nicely

100 will do nicely

So where and when will this adventure occur?  I will be running the Haliburton 100miler on Sept 7th. Learning from Heather, I have chosen a local race, so no travel pressure, also it is not a mountain course, I am not kidding myself I know there is still plenty if elevation gain to be had and technical trail to navigate but Heather is the mountain goat not me. The biggest fear factor other than of course running a hundred miles is that I am going to be doing it with no crew and no pacer, not going to lie I am as much excited by this prospect as I am worried.  More to follow on how I plan compensating for the lack of crew.

Oh bugger, I actually just did this!!!

Oh bugger, I actually just did this!!!

I have also included my training plan, any thoughts or insights are gratefully received.

Tell me what you think, modeled off Bryon Powells  training for 100miles on 50 miles per week.

Tell me what you think, modeled off Bryon Powell’s training for 100miles on 50 miles per week.

In the mean time will carry on with my Physio and get back out running next week, I do believe two weeks today I have 40k of pacing duty.

Damn still too early for a beer, wonder what else I can register for….

“What does the other guy look like?”

“What does the other guy look like?” is a question I have been asked over the last few days.  It always takes me by surprise.  Although I do get some pleasure watching people try to hide their disappointment in my answer.  Don’t worry I didn’t break my face again.

I didn't punch anyone, I promise.

I didn’t punch anyone, I promise.

This was taken the day of the incident, today the wounds have scabbed over nicely and are a nice dark red.  But I think if I’d punched someone the wounds would be on or closer to my knuckles.  Anyway no fighting for this girl and I have no idea how this happened, but it happened at the same time as this;

Road rash

Road rash

Road rash and a bruise, how lucky can a girl get?!

Road rash and a bruise, how lucky can a girl get?!

Again these pics were taken last Friday (5 days ago), somehow the wounds look worse now, but I’m too lazy to take any new pictures (it’s just too sad for me).  So obviously I didn’t get these marks from being in a fight, nope, graceful being that I am, I fell. On pavement.  While running sort of fast.  At kilometer 14 of a 38km run I hit the deck hard.  Of course there were witnesses, nobody laughed, at least not to my face.  I still have no idea what happened, one minute I was chugging along enjoying my run and the next I was looking up at the sky.  The lady whose car I fell next to just happened to be getting ready to vacate her parking space, I think I scared her a little, she came rushing over offering to call 911.  That freaked me out because I actually felt okay but she thought I needed an ambulance, was there something wrong that I couldn’t see?  I did a quick check and decided that I did not need an ambulance and asked her to hold off.  I used the fire hydrant that I was beside me to pull myself up (I guess I was lucky I didn’t somehow impale myself on that), had the full on “Bambi legs” thing going on but managed to get myself to a small retaining wall at the end of someone’s yard.  There I sat and decided that I was in fact okay just a little shaken up.  With that, the Good Samaritan left (I think she really wanted to call 911) and I set about cleaning myself up.  I wasn’t a Girl Guide for long but I do like their motto “be prepared”, so I always run with some wet wipes in my pack and a small tub of vaseline.  With that I wiped up the blood and all the other crud that gets on you when you roll around on the sidewalk, then dabbed with the vaseline to stem the bleeding and tried to decide what to do.  I also always carry a transit token with me and realised that if I walk about 300m I’d be at a bus stop that would get me to the subway and take me home, but it was so nice out, and I still had 24km to run, and it was so sunny, a perfect long run day.

So I did what any sane and rational person would do and walked to the bus stop, but I couldn’t see a bus coming.  So then I decided I would run to the nearest subway station but gently. By the time I got there I was feeling pretty good, so I finished my run.  Did I mention it was really nice out?