Another Sunny #Runch in Calgary

It felt like everyone had vacated the Calgary downtown towers at lunch today and were out for a run or walk. Me included. The pathways were packed. It’s great to see so many people getting some fresh air, stretching their legs, and getting energized for another afternoon in a cubicle again.

I sure needed the run. I had skipped two days in a row, even with the nice weather because of … well… life. Life just gets in the way sometimes.

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The economy is slow around here so many people don’t have the workload pressures they have in past years. So I guess that means more and longer lunch hour runs for a lot of people. It probably means longer lunches on the outdoor restaurant patios too, but I’m not in that scene. I just whiz past them.

It is a long way from spring yet, but the temperature was up, the sun was out and the ice along the river was melting fast.

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Looking at how many pictures I took on one run, I am now wondering whether it was a hard enough run. But it was a fun run, at least.

This weather, and the thousands of other runners are a great inspiration for the spring races coming up.

See you out there for a #runch sometime.

 

 

How Far are We Running Today, Dad?

Daughter #2 (13 years old): How far are we running today, Dad?

Me: Maybe 4km?

300m later

Her: I didn’t do my long run this weekend. We should run further today.

Me: Well, okay, we could do 5km

200m later

Her: How about we turn around at 3.5km?

Me: Noncommittal “Hmmm”

Her: I really should be running 8km for a long run. Her half marathon is coming up in 3 months and I admit that she needs to boost her consistent long runs a little.

a couple km later

Me: Here’s a good turn around point. It looks like we’ve done 4 km but it will probably be a shorter way back

Her: disappointed “Awww”

at 6 km mark

Me: I’m guessing it will be about 7.5km today

Her: We have to at least make it even. We’re doing 8km.

Me: Okay, we’ll go an extra block here.

at 7km mark

Me: It looks like it will be about 8.4km

Her: We can’t leave it at 8.4km. That would only be 50 minutes. I need to mark down 1 hour because 50 minutes isn’t a round enough number.

Me: We’re not doing 10 km. We were only going to do 4 km and you need to get to bed.

Her: Okay, okay, let’s do 9 km.

Me: Sure, OK

300m sprint finish with me lagging behind

Me: That was a great run

Her: Yeah, but my legs are sore. Oh well. You know, we should have run longer.

total run = 9.3 km in 53 minutes. 

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What have I created? I won’t be able to keep pace for much longer.

Not-quite-Spring-yet trail run

I can’t wait for spring trail running in the mountains so I gave it a shot today. And I discovered that although it was sunny and warm, it is definitely not fully spring yet. This is really not surprising for end of February, but it has been unseasonably warm lately, making it feel much more like April. The ice was treacherous and covered about 90% of the length of the trail, making it absolutely necessary to have yak traks or other ice grips. I had to really keep it slow and walk carefully on most of the up and downhills.

The other indicator that trail running or hiking in the mountains in February is not that popular (or not that safe) is that in two hours of running, I only came across one hiker and his dog. Otherwise it was a very quiet run. I love those quiet runs, but I was wondering if anyone would come across me if I ran into trouble. I was trying not to think about bears waking up from hibernation a couple months early due to the warm weather, or the warning signs about cougars, or the cliffs immediately adjacent to the trail. But alas, it was a quite uneventful run.

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This trail was the Montagne Trail, a single track rolling trail on the north side of Canmore, Alberta. It skirted above the golf course but stayed off the steep parts of Lady McDonald mountain. I will have to head back out here to do the Lady McDonald trail to the peak in the summer sometime.

From what I remember, I think this is a very popular trail in the summer. I have heard it mentioned quite a bit but this is the first time I have been here.

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I had a great view on this sunny day of the mountains across the valley beyond the town site. I was inspired to do some peak bagging just as soon as the trail conditions improve – which is probably not before mid-June.

Just as I got to the car, a storm blew in with new snow. Good thing I didn’t start half an hour later. It would have been pretty miserable. But maybe the trails will be in better condition by the time I have a chance to head back out there for another trail run. Either more snow, or no ice would be great, thank you very much.

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Maybe I will aim for the peaks when summer hits. They look enticing

Montagne Trail in Canmore, Alberta. 1 hour west of Calgary, just outside the Banff National Park gates.

11 km, 1:45 hours – This sounds slow, but the ice made it tough going.

There’s ton’s of trail running in the Canadian Rockies. Check out this post

 

Sun and Ice

After a long weekend of standing on my feet exhibiting at a conference, I was able to get out alone in the woods to be by myself in the quiet and go for a run.

It was a recovery run. Recovery from a weekend of talking, socializing, and people-time.

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Nature, trees, trails. I love the therapy it provides.

And being a Monday afternoon when everyone else was at work or school, I got the place mostly to myself.

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It looks like soft snow, but disappointingly it really is crusty packed ice that is great at twisting ankles. 

 

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The sand over the ice should have made it less slippery, except in the places where I couldn’t tell where the sand stopped and the ice started

Now I need to go to work, even though it is still sunny. And then I need to go on another run.

 

Run your own Race

Run with perseverance the race set before you … not your competitors race.

The first part is taken from the Bible, and the second part is just my addendum to make it relevant to running.

All too often we get caught up in the race, latch onto other runners who we think we should be able to keep up with, forget to check our speed, start out too fast, and maybe take too much at the aid stations.

But the race is our race. We need to follow the plan. If we throw out the plan as soon as the race starts it wasn’t a good plan, or we aren’t being diligent enough.

Stick to the plan. Run your own race. Trust your training. You’ll do awesome.

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5k Royal Flush

A royal flush in my books is 5 consecutive kilometers where each kilometer is faster than the previous. I don’t think I have ever knowingly achieved this. And it is definitely easier to achieve when you are hearing the splits in your ear than if you would just do it on perceived effort or perceived speed.

Well, today I was on an “easy” 5km run and was surprised when I heard my 3 km time as being faster than the previous 2km stretches and wondered if I really was going faster. I hadn’t started particularly slow, in fact my first km was faster than I had run in a couple months. Then I thought I bet I could do the next one even faster. After the 4km mark when I heard that I was indeed still faster, I had to challenge myself to finish this “easy” training run with an even faster last kilometer. I hadn’t run that fast in 6 months or more. But I did already have a good warm up in so I booted on it, risking it a little more than normal on the icy spots. I would normally have slowed a little more on the ice, but there was now a challenge in the works. And challenges are meant to be taken head on.

And I did it!

I hadn’t started out with any particular goal. And I definitely was not planning on speed work. I just needed to stretch my legs. But when you set out a goal, there’s no telling what’ll happen. Either you’re up for it, or it gnaws at you for another whole day.

5:03/km, 4:40, 4:31, 4:28, 4:03/km for an average of 4:33 / km

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Foiled by a blizzard

It’s super cold and windy out there this morning! A blizzard has descended and my outdoor running plan for this morning has been foiled.

I am on a business trip and I evidently didn’t bring all the right winter running stuff. I thought I was ready for Winnipeg winter running, but not quite.

I gave it a shot but didn’t last 5 minutes before turning around.

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I still have the option of a treadmill run but now that I have had a big breakfast I might just be skipping the run. I could try again this evening. But oh yeah, it’s Superbowl Sunday. And I have a feeling my running priorities might be lower this afternoon.

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My Introduction to Mountain Races – #tbt

My second ever race was a half marathon mountain race about 10 years ago. I had just run the Vancouver marathon a few months before and felt the need to keep going with this running thing. The closest thing to a race near our small town in northern BC was the Emperor’s Challenge about 2 hours away on the edge of the Rockies. Someone casually told me about it and as I looked into it, I got excited. It sounded crazy. But crazy was good. Basically it was 600m up a mountain following a creek bed and then back down a mountain road. I don’t remember having a good idea how much 600m is but I knew it was going to be excruciating. And I was going to have to do some hill training and learn how to do trails.

So I set about with hill training. Having grown up and still living in the prairies I didn’t really know what hills were. And trails? I didn’t know where to find them. All my marathon training had been on dead flat roads.

By accident I discovered that one of the dead ends near the river valley had a deer trail down to the bottom. So one day I went down it. Straight down it. Then straight back up heaving like never before. Over a matter of months I upped it to three times in one go. This dead end at the top of the hill was one of the romantic lookouts where cars came to park for a while, so I’m sure there were a few couples who wondered at my sanity. I wondered too.

On the way to this hill, I would run pass one of the farms that housed dog sled dogs. In the summer they trained on wheeled sleds on the adjacent road. As I would pass them, it would be very noisy with all the yipping, but all their training worked to inspire me to train harder.

A couple times, I also ran down the highway on a 5 km downhill stretch that was 5% slope for 5 km. And then I had my wife (and 3 and 5 year olds) pick me up at the bottom. I couldn’t contemplate going back up. She is amazing.

I never really got my trail training in except a couple times while camping, but I did a good effort on the hills.

I didn’t really know what to expect for the race, but now as I look back it was not that abnormal from a trail race. Maybe 100 competitors. Very casual start. Very crowded, confusing first kilometer. I wore too much at the start but was freezing at the top and warm again at the bottom. I wore my road shoes since I didn’t know there was such a thing as trail running shoes.

I was quite happy with my finish. I was very encouraged by being able to pass people even to the end, and even after the 14 km of continuous downhill.

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We had warning that it was going to be a steep one!
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My daughter’s first race, and my second race.

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It was a great introduction to trail running. But oddly that was the last trail race I did for a few years. I’m not sure why, but at first it didn’t stick. It took a couple more trail races before trails got into my blood. And now they are in my blood.  I would love to go back and try my hand at that race again.

The views are spectacular (if you notice them between all the huffing and puffing).

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http://www.emperorschallenge.com/ – Tumbler Ridge, BC – Babcock Mountain

 

Reward yourself with a run. You’ve earned it

Some people reward themselves with chocolate and Dairy Queen. Some people read a book. Some people have alone time. And some people go out with friends for a treat.

But I treat myself by going for a run. The longer the better. If it is by myself even better. The best is on a lonely in the trail in the mountains. If I wake up the next morning all stiff, I know it was a good one.

I sometimes feel selfish when I run so I need to balance life with running.

Others think I’m masochistic but I’m just fueling a need to get out there and go long.

I know I’m not the only one. Go for it. Reward yourself with a run. You’ve earned it.

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Uninspiring, but got’er done

Some runs just aren’t inspiring. They don’t fire you up. You don’t get that kick during or after the run. Some runs are just runs.

But unless you do the uninspiring ones, you won’t appreciate the truly great runs.

Take yesterday. Yesterday was a bit of a drudgery. I ran in a new area in the city so I thought it would be interesting. But 3/4 of it ended up being along sidewalks in cookie-cutter subdivisions. The part that was in a linear park was way too icy to be much fun. I had hoped to stay on this trail much longer but it was taking too much concentration to stay on my feet so back to the sidewalk I went.

And then the battery in my earbuds died. My own thoughts are not that boring but it was unexpected and worse still I was in the middle of a good audiobook.

So I’m trying to turn that run around in my head. There were some really good parts:

  • Daylight running – Winter running doesn’t offer a lot of it except on weekends. And it was a Sunday afternoon.
  • Sun – Yeah for sun! It definitely improves my mood
  • I got my distance in. I was aiming for 15 km and, hit 15.5 km on a looped run in a unfamiliar area without having to do too much guessing

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Sure, it was uninspiring, but I got it done and it really wasn’t that bad. It could have been a blizzard. And the next time I run on the mountain trails, I am sure going to appreciate it all that much more.

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