Showing posts from 2015

2015: A Year Measured in Adventures

How to reflect on the incredible year of running I've had? If I look at 2015 by the numbers, I've logged over 2300 km and, according to Strava, gained almost 57,000 m of elevation in 237 hours of running (this is an under-estimate, because my GPS watch dies on runs over 5 hrs, of which I did quite a few!). These statistics, though, don't really tell the story of what I achieved in my running this year. What can possibly capture the milestones and moments I experienced over the course of those 2300+ km?

Let's try another summary method ... If you're on Instagram, you'll have noticed lots of "best nine" posts recently - a collage of your nine photos that received the most "likes" in 2015. Here's what mine looks like:

These images inspire me to reflect on the amazing year of running experiences I've had, and to realize how different my 2015 was from the previous year. 2014 was about dealing with challenge after challenge - I was in surviv…

Lady of Fire: Circumnavigation of Mount St Helens

The Loowit Trail is a 50k loop around Mount St Helens that winds, climbs, and descends through incredibly rugged, diverse landscapes, gaining and losing 2300m of elevation over its course. This circumnavigation allows you to experience all the after effects of the catastrophic 1980 eruption of the volcano, and to witness the tenacity of the vegetation and wildlife that is slowly returning to the denuded environment. This past weekend, I went with three girlfriends to run this trail in one day. Organized by the incomparable Alicia, our adventure would have us camping overnight at the June Lake trailhead and striking out for the Loowit Trail at 8 a.m., carrying 2 L of water apiece, plus headlamps, clothing layers, emergency supplies, and LOTS of calories in various forms (from gels to Clif bars to Subway sandwiches to salty wasabi peas). We knew this was going to take much longer than your average 50k due to the technical and rugged nature of the terrain.

Starting at June Lake allowed u…

Getting Off the Road: My 5 Favourite Things About Being a 5 Peaks Ambassador

The 5 Peaks racing season came to an end last weekend with a race on beautiful trails around Buntzen Lake in Port Moody. I've spent the last year acting as an Ambassador for 5 Peaks, which has been a tremendously rewarding experience in many ways. I thought that I would devote this blog post to reflecting on some of the reasons why this has been such a great gig (in no particular order):
1. The amazing race courses. I ran in three of the BC races over the spring and summer, at Golden Ears Provincial Park, Alice Lake Provincial Park, and Mt Seymour. All of these offered challenging, beautiful trails that were a joy to run on. (I also managed to race the three that had perfect weather...lucky or just good planning?). Racers had to cross streams, leap over and duck under fallen trees, navigate technical rocks and roots, and grind it out on steep climbs and descents. In short: they are perfect trail races. 
2. Witnessing people run their first trail race. What an inspiring thing to be w…

Squamish 50k 2015: Overcoming Obstacles

Just in case running 50k isn't challenging enough, it seems that the Squamish 50 is determined to throw additional roadblocks in the path to achieving my goals. Last year I had to undergo surgery 2 months before the race and take a subsequent 6 weeks for recovery - which meant I went into the race very undertrained. I did it anyway, with a decent time and a solid 11th place finish, but I was determined and excited to do better in 2015. I've worked so hard this year to overcome last year's health setbacks, and by the end of June was feeling fit, confident, and poised to have a major time breakthrough on the course. And then...
When I broke my wrist and banged up my knee last month in a bike crash, I was instantly worried that I wouldn't be able to run. This race is no walk in the park: with a course that has 2500 m of elevation gain and 2750 m of descent, runners are guaranteed to be either running up or down technical mountain forest trails for the entire 50 kilometres.…

Taking a Step Back to Move Forward

It's been quite the weekend, and it's hard to know where to start this story. How's this: Yesterday was the Canadian National Mountain Running Championships at Cypress Mountain, which I was thrilled to have qualified to run - but I didn't run it. 

How could I pass up an experience like that? 

It boils down to something quite simple: I'm exhausted. For the last ten days, my body has been asking me in subtle ways to back off my running and rest for a while. I've been mostly listening, too - I've only run about 50km total in those 10 days, and have taken many more days off than normal - but I am now certain that this is not what my body means by backing off. On Friday I made the tough decision to not race Nationals, and take a full 7-10 days off running. My #1 goal race for this year is the Squamish 50k in 5 weeks, and I wanted to do everything I can to get to that start line healthy, fresh, and ready to go.

So I went for a casual mountain bike ride yesterday mor…

Taking Things in Stride

One year and a couple days ago, I wrote a blog post about having just been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is almost hard to believe that a year has passed, and equally hard to fully process everything I have experienced in the last 12 months. It is amazing how much my mental well-being is tied to running - I think I have always known this on some level, but never fully appreciated it until being forced to take so much time off over the last year while simultaneously dealing with so many uncertainties and unfamiliar situations. I often refer to running as "my happy place"; it sounds cutesy but is utterly true. I am so grateful to have been able to log over 1000 km already in 2015 (with 22,000 m of total elevation gain!): the more time I spend on these trails, the more at peace I become with everything else in my life.

In that 2014 post, I was getting ready to run the Loop the Lakes 21k trail race - which I just ran again this past weekend. This race last year was my first fo…


I wish that I was writing this blog post with news of a fantastic marathon today. I wish that I could say I ran a PB and crossed the finish line smiling. Hell, I wish that I could say I crossed the finish line.

Today was not the triumphant return to marathoning that I had hoped and trained my heart out for. I have never felt this fit in my marathon build-up before and, as I publicly stated in my last post, I was fully planning on gunning for a personal best time. So what happened? Well, a week before race day I started feeling twinges in my left hamstring when running - nothing major, but enough to change my stride a bit. I thought it was just part of those mystery aches and pains that always crop up during the taper, so I didn't worry too much about it at first. By Wednesday, my entire left leg was aching constantly and the hamstring pain was actually preventing me from running. I went to a couple desperation acupuncture treatment sessions, where it became clear that the nerves fr…

Achieving Goals: The Cake, and The Icing

I'm running the BMO Vancouver Marathon in 8 days. All the work is done until race day: now the focus is on tapering my mileage and run intensity in order to recover from 3 months of hard training, and to get back what I like to think of as "bouncy legs". I am a goal-driven person, so what gets me through the training - aside from the fact that I just really love running - is knowing what I am working towards. I always have goals for races I am heading into (assuming I have some experience with the distance and/or course); these are essentially based on what time I really want to be able to run, tempered by how my training cycle has gone. I was at a bit of a disadvantage coming into this training after a 3-month layoff, but I am pleased with how my fitness has progressed. 2 weeks ago I ran my highest ever mileage week (91k), and my pace-specific workouts have mostly gone well - with a couple inevitable exceptions when I had less-than-stellar days out there.

So, what are my…