Lost on the Muddy Trails

Our treat on our Saturday trail run was to see a moose come check us out and then cruise away. Those guys can sure run fast.

These trails are inside the city limits of Calgary so we really don’t have to go far to get this nature. We feel pretty lucky.

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The trails had frozen solid overnight but were thawing quickly by the time we got there at 11. So we had a lot of mud, both the sloppy kind, and the frozen kind that was filled with footprints from the hikers (and moose) the previous day. The deep frozen footprints were pretty tough to run without twisting ankles. The ice patches kept us guessing whether we were going to break through any given section and get wet feet or if we would slide out of control.

But mud can be fun. We had fun splattered all over us.

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Yeah, we couldn’t see the trail here either

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We got lost a couple times and did one of the loops twice. Good thing we had a gps map to consult

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12 km in Weaselhead flats along Glenmore Reservoir in Calgary

We love these trails. And they are only 20 minutes from home.

As spring comes these wet areas become mosquito havens making it almost intolerable. So this season is definitely the best for these trails.

Rain on National Running Day? Who’s in charge anyway?

I tried to get up this morning to run to work. I was expecting sun but it was cloudy and grey out. I should have gone. I delayed to 6:30. It started to rain a little. I should have gone then. I delayed until 7:00. It was raining harder. So I took the bus to work. But of course it was barely wet outside during the bus ride. I should have run to work.

I was going to run at lunch. It was dry out. I delayed until 1:00. It started to rain a little so I delayed some more. At 1:45 I changed and went outside for a run. Of course, that’s when it started to pour really hard. I put in 0.5 km before I turned around fulled drenched. I should have gone earlier.

Now it is pouring like crazy out there. I want to run home from work, but it looks pretty daunting. I will probably take the bus. Bah humbug.

Maybe I can run after dinner, wet or dry.

Surely we can pick National Running Day to be a dry day. Like yesterday, or next week. Who’s in charge of this day, anyway?

#NationalRunningDay #HappyNationalRunningDay

Hamilton Lake Trail – Don’t do it in May!

Tip: When running a lonely mountain trail, google it first! Check out the trail conditions before committing.

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I didn’t Google Hamilton Lake trail before I ran it last weekend. If I had, I would have found out that it was at least 2 weeks too early in the season to try to get up there. I was post-holing up to my knees for the last 500m (i.e. very tough slogging). At the top I discovered that the lake was still frozen over and not much to look at, let alone soak your feet in. This was May 30th. But the backdrop was amazing, making up for the tough conditions.

Hamilton Lake is a tiny mountain lake located near Emerald Lake which is a popular tourist stop in Yoho National Park, adjacent to Banff National Park. Emerald Lake is a must see, and Hamilton Lake is a tough hike from there.

I should have taken one of several obvious hints to do this trail later in the season:

1) The hand-made sign at the bottom recommended snow-shoes and bringing a buddy for the steep avalanche area. The sign looked legit for winter conditions, but it sure didn’t look like winter conditions at the bottom (900m lower). When I saw it, I felt the sign should have been taken down long ago.

2) I was trying to figure out if that many spiders would build webs across the trail in the middle of the day after the on-rush of morning hikers. As it turned out, there was no rush of hikers that morning, or who knows how many days before that. I was the first in a long time.

3) The snow peaks had fresh snow on them, but I thought it unlikely this trail went that high. Wrong!

The touristy trails at the bottom were packed on this amazing Saturday afternoon, but my trail was VERY quiet (i.e. absolutely no one for 2 hours).

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The inspiring view at the bottom of Emerald Lake makes you forget it might still be winter way up there.

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The first glimpses of snow, but by then I was 600m up. No turning around.
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View of Emerald Lake from half way up.
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3/4 of the way up
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500m to go
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Post-holing knee deep for the last 500m
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Hamilton Lake – Frozen over, but beautiful backdrop.

Just as I turned around at the top, I suddenly sunk to my waist and nearly lost my shoe at the bottom. Crawled out, with blood streaming down my legs from the ice slicing my knee.

Then I saw fresh bear tracks on the snow-covered trail.

Then I left in a hurry making sure my bear bell was loud and clear.

1.5 hours up, 0.75 hours down. 11km round trip, 900m vertical

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Long May You Run

Sneezing, spider webs, mosquitos, sun burns, and mowing the lawn. All the things we forgot about when we were wishing for Spring.

But woohoo for long-lasting days! The long runs in the morning and well into the evening that do not require head lamps.

Long may you run! – Neil Young. Click here to hear it again and go down memory lane. It’s a pretty slow tempo to listen to during normal runs, but maybe while you’re collapsing on the couch.

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long-may-you-run

NEIL YOUNG VORLAGE (2)

 

 

One gel too many – Vancouver Marathon recap

Vancouver is a beautiful place for a run no matter the distance. 70% of the marathon route is along the ocean. For a guy who lives 13 hours from the ocean, this is a big deal.

We had amazing weather this weekend with no rain or wind which is definitely not a given in early May in Vancouver. The first 3/4 of the race went very well but I am trying to forget the last 1/4.

I had two full days before the race as a tourist desperately trying not to walk too far even though it was so nice down by the waterfront. I rented a bike for a few hours to see Stanley Park and joined the throngs of cruise ship tourists who were in town. I biked along the seawall to see what the route would look like. This portion was the end of the race route so I wasn’t sure I would be appreciating the view at that point in the race. And as it happened, at that point in the race I was not appreciating anything.

The first half of the route was much hillier than I thought it would be. However, I came through the first half thinking the hills hadn’t affected me too much. I was still on track to meet a sub 3:10 with minutes to spare. Even at the 30k mark, I was feeling good.

But then I had my second gel and within 1km I felt like throwing it up. I was reduced to frequent walks and much slower running, feeling dizzy and nauseous. It probably didn’t help that I also likely had too much sports drink on the route and not enough water. I will blame that on too many well stocked aid stations that just want to give you stuff that is hard to refuse.

The route was dead flat by this time but I had lost my momentum. So the last 10k was a nightmare. When the 3:15 pace bunny passed me at 38k I was suddenly utterly deflated. The last 4 km was the slowest by far and included a lot of walking and moaning (But I was not the only one moaning out there by this time).

But I got it done in 3:24 and am proud of finishing in the top 6% overall. The last 10k split was 16 minutes slower than any of the previous splits. You would think that after 12 marathons that it would get easier. Well, it doesn’t. It is still a long ways to run when a lot of things could go wrong.

I hobbled back to my hotel like everyone else and crashed for the afternoon. My stomach finally returned to normal just before dinner. Then I treated myself to all you can eat ribs. Mmm! Great way to end the weekend to help forget the pain. Now to hobble home and set my sights on something new.

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Fly with the wind

Fast doesn’t just happen.
Fast is no days off.
Fast is leaving nothing in the tank.
Fast is born
@NBRunning

Ending off the weekend feeling fast.
I have run faster but this time it just felt fast. Well half of it felt fast. The part with the wind. Yeah I guess those gusts were pretty strong. But I sure was cruising. Especially on the downhill with the wind at my back.

Just don’t ask me about the first half of the run. With the gusts whipping in my face. No fun at all.

But I choose to remember the fast part. That was fun.

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Another weekend, another race

It was a good day for a race. The sun was out and the wind kept away until after the race.  Very well organized.

The second half was very fast since it was unrelenting downhill with 6-8% slopes for most of 3k straight. Of course that meant the first half was miserably slow. 4k up, 7k rolling hills, 4k down. 200m vertical over 15km.

The setting was our massive city park which is mostly grassland, and is the highest point in the City so we had amazing views of the Rockies on this clear day. 

I paced my daughter to her longest run ever.  So proud of her. She can sure stick to something if she puts her mind to it. At 14, she was the first / only under 19 out of several hundred runners. 1:28 for 15k. My 12 yo came in second in the 10k (in her age category). Amazing kids.

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Calgary MEC Run Series

Season of fewer layers!

It must be getting warmer out there. I am wearing fewer layers and am staying comfortable without a hat most days.

Also I have been sweating out a lot more, creating more laundry, and needing more water to re-hydrate after.

Next we need the blossoms to spruce our running photos.

Yeah for spring!

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Bring on the Mania – Racing Season is Almost Upon Us

Spring is always full of running races. Make sure you try out at least one this spring and earn some bling. March and April races fill up quickly as warm up races for the May and June season of racing mania.

Get off that treadmill, get outside and race. Spring feels like it is just around the corner.IMG_20141231_122705742

Calendar of events in the Calgary area:

  • March 14th – Diakonos St. Patrick’s Day Race
  • March 15th – Original St. Patrick’s Day Race
  • March 21st – Run for L’Arche
  • March 29 – Glencoe Icebreaker
  • April 11th – Light it up
  • April 11th – MEC Race Two – The Hill Climb
  • April 19 – Spring Trio
  • April 25th – Transplant Trot
  • April 26th – Calgary Police Half Marathon
  • …LOTS MORE…
  • May 31st – Scotiabank Calgary Marathon
  • …LOTS MORE…

roadrunner

Happy trails!