Running the city

Nice long run on Friday after work. The sky was threatening rain but it was the wind that worried me most. But I think it was stronger against my back on the way out and it must have calmed down by the time I turned around.

I ran along the top of a ridge so I got some nice vistas of the downtown. 

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On one residential block we counted 47 pumpkins on people’s porches. The decorations are definitely out in full force this Halloween. Unbelievable how much time people put into decorations. But then again it is unbelievable how much time people (me included) put into running.

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This one was 15 km mostly on river pathways.

One Year of Blogging (& Running)

I love sharing photos of the places I run, hoping to inspire others to keep up this crazy addiction we can running.

Over this last year I have enjoyed sharing my running adventures and along the way I learned a lot about blogging and writing in general.

It has also been a good record of my running journey. Keeping track of it this way is a whole lot better than just a bunch of stats of my times and distances.

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Here is one photo from each of the 12 months of blogging that was taken while I was out running. It was pretty hard to pick out just one good one.

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August 2015 – Ironlegs 50 miler, Kananaskis, Canadian Rockies
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July 2015 – Lots of hills training in the Rockies

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Blogging stats for year one:

8000 views on WP over the year plus the unrecorded “tons” of viewers by email, rss feeds, Facebook and G+

By far the most popular post 328 views – Surviving the whole half which was my race report of the half marathon with my 14 year old daughter

Second most popular 240 views – Trail Running in the Canadian Rockies. Places to run. Inspiration for anyone who lives the mountain trails.

My first blog post (short and sweet) that kicked it all off: Too Many Trails, Too Little Time.

Running while blogging: 3300 km over 12 months in 4 countries

Thanks for joining me on this journey. We’re not done yet.

Lost in Griffith’s Woods

Trails with NO HILLS!  That doesn’t happen very often around here.

Griffith Woods is a city park in Calgary with lots of trail types but notably no elevation change. It follows the wetlands adjacent to Elbow River so some trails can get wet.

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The entrance to the park seemed a little ominous to me with signage like this. Especially on the week before Halloween. Good thing it wasn’t getting dark yet.

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I intended to stay off the paved trail and this was possible. And then I determined to stick to single track. That’s where it got a little wild since the single track seemed quite aimless in direction.

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I got lost here. Well not exactly lost but the trail didn’t go in the direction I wanted. I should have stayed to a more main trail. There was this linear pond that I was trying to get around and there was only a deer trail along the waters edge. Lots of thistles too.

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The route I took was not very direct as I noticed from my Strava map after the run. It ended up being 10k taking just over an hour.

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Lots of other walkers out on the main trail but I stayed off that.

Overall it was a great run and I will have to head that way again.

Adding Some Spice into XC

Today we introduced 4 youngish (middle school) runners to the world of cross country. Sure they had run cross country in middle school, but this race put much more “country” into the racing. There were live creek crossings where you seriously got wet. And there were some serious hills you had to slog up. It was a relay so we were all in it as a team instead of the pressure of individual efforts. They all came out of it with with huge smiles and promises to do it again in a couple weeks. That’s what we were hoping for.

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Building running confidence into these kids can hopefully fuel a life long desire to keep challenging themselves to see what they are made of.

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Trail Feature – Nosehill Park Circuit

Nosehill park is a mainstay of trail running in Calgary. The view is very open as you can see in these photos but in one run the terrain can vary significantly.

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I don’t very often get out here since it is not quite close enough to home.

I like it because on a clear day you can see both the snow peaked Rockies and the downtown towers. And you can always find a lonely trail.

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It really is an odd park in that it is this huge expanse of prairie surrounded by the suburbs. It is not even close to the edge of Calgary anymore. In the 70s it was decidedly outside the city but not anymore. This city is exploding.

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On my one run today I ran on so many types of trails but mostly on single track packed dirt. There are some gravel pathways and a paved pathway around the whole thing.

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A trip around the outside of the park is at least 10km long depending on your route. My route today was 12 km with 250m of elevation gain.

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I don’t think there are moose in the park anymore but there are definitely deer and coyotes. Unfortunately I didn’t see any today. The weather was much too nice and the were too many dogs out on and off leashes.

It is a great place to almost forget you are in a city and to get a great trail run in.

Running in Calgary and the Rockies

Are you a runner just visiting Calgary and wanting to know what Calgary and Banff has to offer for runners?

Or a Calgarian just getting into running?

Well, have we got a running scene for you. From trails to pathways, big events to wild remote places, running groups to solitude, flat long runs to epic peaks to conquer. This place is amazing for runners.

Where to run

In Calgary

Calgary is full of great running spots. The valleys along the Bow River and the Elbow River offer countless opportunities to experience the trails, and pathway systems which seem to go on forever. Lots of people start downtown and run along the beautiful rivers. Morning, lunchtime and evenings, it is packed with runners, in both summer and winter. And don’t discount actual real hard core trails inside the city limits.

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Continue reading “Running in Calgary and the Rockies”

September is Race Month in Calgary!

The race calendar is packed full this month! September is always busy for running races. Not only is school starting again, everyone is back from vacation, but people are setting new goals. Get going on those fitness goals by signing up for a race. Maybe it’s not a goal race, but it could be a tuneup race, or your first time out there to test yourself.

Whether you’ve been running all summer, or are starting up again with new goals for the Fall, September is a great time to see what you’re made of.

And if you happen to be in Calgary or area, check out my list of Upcoming Calgary Races this month. More race details and links here.

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The weekend is almost here. Are you signed up yet?

Trail Feature – Ranger Summit to Strange Brew

Starting in West Bragg Creek in Kananaskis are a ton of trails. If you go on a Tuesday night like we did or a Saturday you will realize that the mountain bikers just love these trails. Well, the trail runners do too.

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A long way up
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Whizzed past this rest area on the way down
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A maze of trails

Our group of 25 trail runners started up Ranger Summit. This is about 5k mostly up hill. Maybe half of it is runnable, the rest is runnable if you really push it. At the top you can go longer going down another hill, or your can double back along Strange Brew. Strange Brew is almost all downhill. It is fun downhill. You can go really fast. And there aren’t too many roots to trip you up. But there are a few as the runner behind me found out the hard way with scrapes and blood to tell the tale.

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Fast, curvey trails
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No wet spots today
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Snow shoe trails in the winter

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Tonight the bikers were mostly going our direction. So we passed them in the uphills, and they whipped past us on the downhills. They were having a lot of fun too.

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10k loop

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This was a 10k loop with about 350m of elevation.

Lots of fun for an after work run with friends from the Calgary Trail Runners Meetup group.

Trying to Smile for 50 Miles

Well we found the start line easy enough even in the pitch dark. We just had to find all the head lamps lined up listening to the final instructions. There seemed to be lots of nervous energy, me included.

The start of the Ironlegs 50 Miler race was in the rain and it rained for much of the race. It made for some parts to be very miserable but luckily rarely was it a down pour. Despite the weather, there were smiles and joking everywhere, throughout the day. Everyone was in the same boat (or maybe in the same flood).

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We only needed head lamps for the first 5 minutes of the race so many of us just relied on other people’s head lamps for that first bit. It made for a tentative slow start with everyone bunched up but it spread out soon enough. When there are so many hours to go it is not worth getting stressed out what part of the group you are in. Within several kilometres the amount of passing slowed down considerably as we found our place and as our legs woke up to the realization that this was going to be a long day.

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At first we were dodging the puddles until someone chided us that our feet were going to be sopping wet pretty soon any way. What were we doing? We had lots of creeks to cross yet. And yes there were a lot of water crossings and puddles throughout the day. And we soon remembered that getting wet when you are wet already is a lot of fun. And it didn’t take long until we couldn’t get wetter.

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Those of us who had done reconnaissance on the trails at least knew what the views were supposed to look like without the fog and rain. I felt sorry for those who hadn’t seen the area before that day. They missed out on a lot of mountain scenery.

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The hills were relentless. They just kept coming and coming. On average, half the race was 10% uphill and the other half was 10% downhill. That’s 4200m up and 4200m down over 87km. It felt like it would never end. There’s a reason it is called the toughest 50 miler in Canada.

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Well it did end. 13.5 long hours later. I came in 20th overall out of maybe 80 runners. So I am pretty proud of that. I didn’t smile all the way, but it is pretty amazing to be out there and to prove to yourself that you can do this.

Thanks for the amazing volunteering and aid stations in that drizzling rain all day. And my amazing family who came out to a couple aid stations and to steady me after the finish line.

Don’t ask me if I am going to do it again. The pain is still pretty fresh and the couch will be aiding my slow recovery for a while yet.

Running Reconnaissance in the Mountains

In the last 2 months I have run most of the sections of the 87k trail race that is coming up next week. It is helping my confidence knowing that I can visualize most of the trail. I think there is only about 25% of the trail that I haven’t done. And the parts that I haven’t done aren’t a big mystery – I think they are similar to other nearby sections.

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Elbow River
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Powder Ridge Trail

Just the training for these races helps me become an expert of the local trails. I can now talk with confidence about trail names such as the ones on the Ironlegs route: Sulphur Springs, Elbow Trail, Powderface Ridge, Ford Creek, Pneuma, Moose Packers, Moose Mountain, Ridgeback.

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Knoll / Ford Creek
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Sulphur Springs Trail
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Base of Prairie Mountain
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Moose Mountain

I don’t know what it would be like if the race was further from home where you can’t do any reconnaissance.

As long as the weather holds, it should be an amazing route. And stunning views. Stay tuned.

Ironlegs.CA in beautiful Kananaskis country in Alberta

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