Didn’t You Pass Me Already?

“Didn’t you pass me already?”, asked the distracted hiker with the enormous camera and off-leash dog.

“Yes. And this is my last loop”, I said.

What I didn’t say was that I had passed her 5 times already on this 2 km loop and that I had done the loop 3 times before that.

Not many people notice us “loop-ers” but I love seeing their confusion and then their amazement when it dawns on them they they have been lapped.

Last year, as I was on hill repeat 10 out of 20, one casual hiker asked how many I was doing. When I said I was working on 20, he was truly inspired and decided to join me. I don’t know how many repeats he did but by the time I finished my 20 he was still going strong. Maybe he was proving something to his girlfriend, but I was happy to see I inspired someone.

Today on my 1 km city trail route, I saw a commercial grass cutting crew on maybe 5 of my 8 laps. On each of my laps I saw most people at least twice – several dog walkers, girl out for graduation photos, grandmother out for a smoke break, and a few other runners. I hope my running has inspired some of them to kick it up a notch even further.

No matter how much or how little our running effort seems to us, it can be a huge inspiration to someone else. Or they can think we are just loopy.

Keep running. Keep inspiring.

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In a Pickle

I have gotten myself in a pickle and I need some help.
I am working with 3 teen girls (13-15 years old) to train them to run a half marathon. They are doing amazing with their training and they all want to run the same race. The problem is that they all want me to pace them, even though they are different speeds. 
You have 2 options if you choose to accept the challenge to help me.
A) Pace one of these three fast, gritty teen girls on the half marathon in Calgary on May 29.
B) Encourage me (i.e. sponsor me, or at least cheer for me) as I pace, encourage, have my ears chatted off, keep up with, and keep looping back to the three teens of varying speeds on the 2+ hour race.
Can you sympathize? Sponsor me here 
We are raising funds for Engineering Ministries International so they can help facilitate housing construction in northern Mexico.
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Collapsing on another finish line as we train for this half marathon

Well, that did me in!

Alternate Title: Thrashing my Quads

After spending two weeks in Africa doing very little exercise and a lot of time on airplanes, I needed to quickly get over my jetlag to get back into the swing of things. What better way than to go for a run. And runs usually work very well for me to speed up up the recovery process. But the run I ended up going on, was apparently WAY too much.

My wife was going out for a hike with her friends the day after I landed so I went out with them to the trailhead and ran from there. One of the reasons I was so excited about this run was that it seemed like such a long time since I had gotten into nature and seen mountains or any other amazing view. A a long time since I had been on a trail run.

From the parking spot, there are many different directions to run. Some are mostly flat, some are not so flat, most are rugged trails, and all are epic. However, I chose the steepest trail to get to the highest elevation as quick as possible hoping for the most epic view of the valley.

All the local trail runners know Prairie Mountain. It is a 700m elevation gain in 3.5km (20% grade average) on very technical trail (roots and rocks). The mountain is used for training by many runners. One ultra-runner I was chatting to judges the difficulty of an ultra-race by how many “Prairie-Mountains” you needed to do in a row before you are ready for that race. For a local 125km ultra she said “To make sure you are ready for that race you need to be able to do at least two Prairie-Mountains back to back and not feel sore the next day.” It’s a serious hill.

Not very much of the uphill is runnable, and the whole downhill is spent with serious “brakes” on. Expect your quads to be hammered. Last summer I tried doing it with very little tread left on my road shoes and quickly regretted it because of all the sliding I did.

Anyway, I was feeling fairly confident to be able to do okay at it because twice last summer, I had done the mountain twice in a row. However, I didn’t appreciate that 8 months is such a long time when it comes to quad conditioning.

I drastically underestimated where I was at physically this Spring. I got to the top okay but by the time I was half way down I knew it was going to hurt significantly the next day. Near the bottom my legs felt pretty wobbly, and I couldn’t trust them very much. It was a slow finish as I wobbled back to the car.

I still had a couple hours until the others were going to be back at the car, so I took a bit of a rest then decided to recover my legs with a flat run. Well, two hours later (3.5 hours total) I hobbled down to the river to cool my legs off and then collapsed in the car.

You can imagine my pain the next day. It was like my first marathon all over again. My quads were thrashed. I needed the railing to get myself down the stairs. I dreaded having to get up to pee at night. And my family and co-workers were not-quite silent in their laughing at my expense. But I probably deserved it.

One of the terrible things about it was that I mostly couldn’t run for nearly a week. I was counting on using the coming weeks to jump straight into a full-on training season. But that had to be put on hold because I could barely walk, let alone run. If only I had not jumped straight into that crazy tough run, I would have been able to slowly ramp up. As it is, I am now already a week behind. But on the bright side, I’m probably wiser for it. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it again. But wisdom doesn’t always factor in when deciding about where and how far to run.

When there is epic-ness involved, wisdom is often thrown out the window.

Prairie Link Loop – Places to Run

I have run this 12km loop once before, maybe 5 years ago but I had run it clockwise. When I ran it last week, I decided to do it counter-clockwise. Well my memory wasn’t quite as good as I thought and I was second-guessing a little too much. I had neglected to take a photo of the trailhead map since I was sure it was on my phone somewhere. But when I needed it I couldn’t find it. So I was within 100m of turning around at the half way point when I came across the bridge to assure myself I was still on the right trail. There weren’t many people on the trail to ask, and definitely no direction signs. That was very close to a disappointing run!

Then within 500m of the bridge I missed the next turn even though there was a trailhead map right there. So I did an extra 1.5 km in the wrong direction before my brain kicked in with its internal GPS to override what looked right on my actual GPS.

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I love these bridges

So going counter clockwise, in mid-April I found some ice on the trail at the very end for several hundred meters near the parking lot. But overall, the trail was very dry, especially for April. I don’t remember any mud. We’ve had a very dry winter / spring.

There were maybe 10 others on the trail that I ran into over the 2 hours out there, on a weekday morning. On the weekends, it is full of mountain bikes and there can horses too. But this was a great time to be out there. I don’t get many weekday mornings to get out there.

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Hoping there’s no bears or cougars around the corner. The bear spray is buried too deep in my pack for that kind of surprise.

 

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Rocky Mountains as a backdrop
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Unfortunately, all the sections of trail that were this smooth had incredibly steep or were long hills

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Now that’s a cold river but it felt great on the feet (for the few seconds it took to take the photo).

 

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Can you tell where I lost the trail? Yeah, I didn’t read the sign and assumed I knew the way. Good thing my internal GPS kicked in eventually.

To get there from Calgary, head through Bragg Creek to Kananaskis Country, and park at Elbow Falls. Before mid-May the road is closed beyond this point but it is only 500m to the trail head. In the summer you can drive right to the parking lot for Powder Ridge Trail. That’s an amazing trail too. So is Prairie Mountain. So much to hike and run from this one parking spot.

Praire Link Loop – 15km with the wrong turn (12km otherwise), 360m elevation gain

The Run Commuter

I just chanced upon a website and it has inspired me again to pick up commuting to work by running. I know it sounds like a crazy idea, but sometimes when you need to get all your mileage in on a busy week, these crazy ideas seem to crop up.

Many of the articles on the website are on the logistics such as the No Shower Cleanup – Mens Edition (lots of steps but it would seem to be very comprehensive and would leave no one guessing that you had just run to work). Unless you want people to know you ran to work, then you just have to skip a couple steps.

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And of course there’s women’s edition too but I don’t have an opinion on how well that one works.

There’s articles on how to get in the right frame of mind to run to work in the morning.

There’s how to plan a route which is important if you want to incorporate it into your training, or you want to skip the traffic fumes.

And of course there’s lots of advice and reviews on clothes, lights, backpack, bringing your clothes to work wrinkle-free, etc.

Check it all out at http://theruncommuter.com/

As this site says “Live to run, run to work

And we’ll see you (maybe) running on the road or trail commuting to work.

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.

 

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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