It’s a Wrap – July

July has been a monstrous month of vertical and distance. And there is good reason I am anxious for this tapering to hit full swing next week. Both because I am exhausted, and because I have chores to catch up on.

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Single-track Trails within City Limits: 20 runs (trails of any sort have obviously been my focus)

Mountain Trails: 7 runs (vertical, vertical, vertical)

City Paved Pathways: 2 runs (speedwork hasn’t been a thing this month)

393 km (I have a few hours left in July, should I make it an even 400?)
Update: I couldn’t help myself so with a couple hours left in July I bumped it up to 402km.

11,000+m Vertical (this may sound like a lot for a month, but they do this in one race for the Hardrock 100)

Longest Run: 50km (I didn’t do any extra chores that day. Utterly exhausted)

Shortest Run: 3.8km (short ones can be a lot of fun too)

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That should mostly wrap up the big running months for the year.

Sideshow Bob – Trail Running in the City

Some of the seldom-travelled trails in the city are definitely worth trying out. I ran these trails on the banks of the Bow River in Bowmont Park in Calgary with my kids last night and thoroughly enjoyed them.

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We saw some beavers, ate lots of saskatoons, heard rustling in the trees (deer and squirrels, I hope), huffed and puffed on the steep uphills, and awed at the river at sunset. We didn’t have to get out to the mountains to experiene the amazingness of creation.

I don’t think I have ever seen the name “Sideshow Bob” on any map or trail head anywhere, but I’ve heard it among the trail runners in the area. Even the mountain bikers like this trail, although seldom is anyone on the trail at all.

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We even got a sunset over the Bow River as we were finishing up.

Moose (Not Mouse!!) Mountain

Mouse mountain? I don’t think so. My legs told me it was definitely bigger than mouse-sized. My auto correct in Strava changed it from Moose to Mouse Mountain. I didn’t see this understatement for several hours and then quickly changed it. However even though my friends thought I had climbed a mouse-sized mountain they still kindly gave me ‘kudos’. Thanks guys for the encouragement.

Moose mountain is a significant climb and a beautiful view from the top. You can just make out Calgary 50k in the one direction. And facing West, you can see we are on the doorstep of the Rockies.

A forest fire warden station is at the very top (with a friendly real live warden who sometimes comes out to chat with the climbers).

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The morning was overcast so it never got too hot and bonus that we didn’t get wet.

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And it would not be a trip up moose mountain without seeing a moose or two. Thanks for posing, Mr Moose.

Bladder Troubles (The Plastic Type, Not The Organ)

I’m getting frustrated with my running bladders. I’ve been buying the cheaper ones and they have been springing leaks. The first one a couple years ago was “experienced” (used) and after bouncing around in my oversized pack, it developed a few small holes. After taping, gluing and otherwise trying to patch the holes I bought a new one.

The next one developed a leak from a safety pin rubbing on it. The next one after that started leaking on one of the creases from probably too much pressure from bounching around. I unsurprisingly neglected to always pack extra stuff (weight) in the pack to keep the bladder from moving around when it was more empty. The leaking hasn’t been terrible but after an hour, the whole bottom of the pack would be wet. So I wasn’t losing much water, but it was annoying to have everything in the pack all wet. And when things like your TP gets all wet, you can get very frustrated.

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So just today I went out to get another one. This one is advertised as more durable than the last few cheap ones I’ve had. Also, I’m trying to fasten the bladder a little tighter in my bag and stuff a shirt in that compartment so it doesn’t bounce so much. The material looks more durable (but heavier). And the hose / fittings / opening don’t look as cool as the last one I had.

So we’ll see how this one turns out. First run, in about 10 minutes.

Weekday Vertical with a View

 

I was lucky to head out on Tuesday evening for a weekday evening trail run in the mountains! Prairie Mountain in Kananaskis Country.

It was a beautiful evening on the quiet trails. And the smoke from the recent wildfires has pretty much dissipated making the view that much more spectacular.

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It was a gnarly, rocky, technical, steep trail to the top.

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And you can see forever from the top.

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I love a good hill challenge.

 

If it ain’t broken in yet, don’t race in it

My new shoes, just like any new running shoes I buy these days, need to be broken in. And it always seems my right foot needs more breaking in than my left. With my latest shoes, I have done 3 runs, and on each run after about 20 minutes my right foot has been going numb and tingly. The left a little but mostly the right. On one of the runs, my whole leg went tingly for 10 minutes before I was able to shake it out.

It has been this way with shoes that have a lot of drop and shoes that have only a little. Whether I run on pavement or on trails. And it usually lasts a couple weeks. Maybe I have weird feet that need to distort the soles. Maybe I don’t have much blood flow in my feet to start with.

I guess it is just the way it is. I will have to live with breaking in shoes. A reminder to wear your new shoes a few times before a race so you know how your feet will react.

Running on Less – Money, That Is

I am pretty cheap when it comes to buying stuff for running so I am constantly looking for deals and ways to get things to last longer.

For example, there are recipes to make your own energy gels, directions to build your own gaiters, and modify your shoes with screws to create winter running cleats. You can strap your gels to your pocket-less shorts with safety pins instead of buying a special strap. You can borrow “Runner’s World” from the library either hard copy or e-version, instead of buying it. You can register early for races. You can share a hotel room at a distance race.

If you don’t mind not having the latest fashionable (read expensive) running paraphenalia you can save yourself a lot of money for whatever you do besides running. (admittedly, for some of us, that’s not much)

Here’s a great article from Trail Runner Magazine entitled “12 Cheap Running – Gear Hacks”. It shows can you can create and modify stuff you already have to prevent having to go buy new stuff. Click here for the article.

Another article here about using stuff longer, or finding discounts.

There’s lots more advice out there, just Google some of the blog sites like wordpress.com, or blogger. Look in the blogs for money saving measures, not the company websites because they just want you to buy the latest stuff.

One of my strategies is to let my garage-sale guru wife know what I am looking for (like a prefectly good running bladder or old copies of running magazines) and then she might eventually find it at a steal at some garage sale. It won’t be today or tomorrow, but eventually. Hopefully I haven’t lost patience, given up and just gone out and bought new.

Patience saves money. And it also helps if you don’t mind not having the latest.

Dodging the Rain

I’ve been really lucky with the rain this week. Tuesday I only got rained on for the last 200 meters. Wednesday it was down to the last 50m. Thursday was my day off of running and guess what? It was raining when I got up and rained all day. It looks like rain on Friday too and I could probably use another day off running. Hopefully by Saturday it will clear up again for another LONG run.

But last week I got drenched. On my 12k trail run, we got soaked but had a blast. On my weekend hill repeat run it was pretty lonely out there in the rain. Also, we went floating down the river and got hailed on and absolutely drenched. But at least I wasn’t running that time and wasn’t miserable all by myself – I had my family to be miserable with – that was a lot of fun.

When your schedule makes you run almost every day you have to take what comes. Grin and bear it, but have fun in the middle of it. It’s all part of the journey.

“This is the precept by which I have lived: Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes” – Hannah Arendt

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30 more days to figure this out

One month – 30 days – and counting. Two more massive weeks of training, then two really easy weeks. Right now my legs are looking forward to the easy weeks, and then the 2 weeks vacation immediately following the race.

I need to figure out a few things before my ultra-marathon on August 15th – 80k Ironlegs race:

1) How to get my bladder from leaking (my backpack bladder, not the other one)

2) What food to bring with me. Can ‘man’ live on Clifbars and water alone? Of course there are aid stations, but you never know. There is an aid station every 2 – 2.5 hours or so for the 12 hours duration I am expecting. The previous longest race I’ve done is 6.5 hours.

3) I’ve never worried about salt intake. Maybe I will stash Pringles at the drop points. I’ve never tried salt tablets. Worth a shot?

4) Shoes. I am getting a new pair of shoes in the next week or so. That might be a hard decision. I need to break them in a bit before I subject them to gruelling techincal trails.

5) What do you put in a drop bag? Food, extra socks, tylenol? Anything else?

6) I have a 2 litre water bladder. That is a lot of weight if it is full, especially for 4200m of vertical. Should I risk not filling it all the way up? Maybe I should see how hot it is out first.

7) Audiobooks to forget the pain? Or bask in the sounds of nature for 12 hours? Maybe a combination. My battery won’t last nearly that long anyway.

8) Bear spray? I always bring bear spray on these trails but maybe there will be enough people on the trail to keep the bears hunkered down for the day.

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Yup, we’re going up and over that mountain.

Happy trails!

Running the Land of the Living Skies

Saskatchewan and most of Alberta have skylines that stretch forever. The clouds and colours can be amazing.

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We had all kinds of weather to spruce up our recent camping trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park and day-long excursion to Saskatchewan. Extreme heat, gusty wind, clouds, and torrential rain. All this makes this the “Land of the Living Skies” as  Saskatchewan Tourism boasts.

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A couple of the views had me wondering how anyone living in rural flat-land ever gets into running. For me, running inspiration definitely does not come from roads that go on forever with nary a curve or hill. I sure wouldn’t want to take up any sort of slow mode of transportation when you can’t see the next undulation, corner, road, or even a car, let alone a pedestrian or bicycle. I’d probably be into motorcycle racing or some other adrenaline pumping speed sport.

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While I was happy for our adventure to this huge expanse, I was glad to get back to running in the hills and trees even if that means a little more city to go with it.

Happy trails!