Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Paths and Trails

The end of April is so close I can almost taste it but you would never know by what I had to wear running along the path today. Pants, long sleeve shirt and gloves and I was still chilly! I wore my Police Half Marathon shirt and I felt as strong as I did the day I ran that race! I like that my pace is gradually improving. Today it was 6:05 min/km over 6.29 km in a time of 38:17. I paid for my second month of gym membership yesterday. I already know I want my last run before the big one to be May 28th and then it will be good-bye gym, good-bye paths...

...hello trails! Another adventurous plan is coming to fruition! We have reached a point in time where we are able to start getting all the ducks in a row. This picture is called Iceberg Cirque and the one in my countdown clock is called The Garden Wall! Beautiful hey! We are lining up all the ducks with the help of "Adventure Designer" for five days of hiking in Glacier National Park in Montana! I can hardly wait but it's too early to start counting sleeps yet!

P.S. I don't really mean good-bye paths, I can't give up running!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Calgary Police Half Marathon

Not only did I accomplish my primary goal of finishing upright and healthy with a smile on my face, I also accomplished my secondary goal of beating last year's time of 2:15:50 by crossing the finishing line this time around in 2:09:58! The weather turned out being perfect! Thank you! I was scared to look out the window this morning when I woke because the forecast when I went to bed was ugly! My light pants and long sleeve shirt worked for me. This was the first time I ran a race wearing my Forerunner 305 and I loved it. My plan was to run a pace of 6:30 min/km but I had a hard time doing that and eventually I said the heck with it and just found a comfortable groove and went with it.
I saw Kelly well before start time, we chatted for a bit and extended well wishes for a good race. I'm sure he will have his story to tell, so be sure to drop by and check it out. I lined up more towards the back and just waited to go. It's hard not to go out too fast and I paid attention to what my 305 was telling me and tried to take it easy! Couldn't do it though! I just ran, and I noticed the km signs seemed to be passing by quickly. I didn't pay attention to the scenery, I usually do. I didn't think about much, I usually have lots to work out in my mind. I just ran!
I got ready for the hill! I had my gel, slowed down somewhat before hand and then at the base, I went for it. I saw Karen on the way up. She was giving us encouragement to conquer that hill. I felt strong the whole way up. Those bagpipers were at the top! They always get me going! The hard part was over with and it was just smooth sailing from here on in. I still felt strong and noticed my pace was still on the quicker side. So, I just continued doing what I was doing. It was working for me!
I still had gas in me coming down the home stretch! As usual, I put the pedal to the medal to get it over with quick! I think I smiled at the finish line. I know I was healthy and upright! My arms were upright too, in victory as were my fingers making the victory sign. Here I am with my medal about 5 minutes later. I went inside to get some food and ran into Leana! We chatted with a co-worker of mine who ran the race also and got him to take this shot. She had a Personal Best so be sure to check out her race story. I'm happy with today's results! I was 49th out of 117 in my category. All the going up and down mountains just about every Saturday since January 1st has paid off. I feel confident going forward with the balance of marathon training now, with these numbers giving me a boost!
Distance: 21km Time: 2:09:58 Pace: 6:10 min/km

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pre Police Half

Have Bib Will Run!
I'm ready for Sunday! I'm always excited to see what the shirt looks like so picked up my pack as soon as pick-up opened. I really like the shirt and it fits this time around. No chip but something called a D-Tag which I am glad they included "attach to sneaker" directions. It's that orange strip stuck to my bib.

So far, Sunday's forecast is snow/rain/2 degrees for a high! If this stays true then it will be a light pants, long sleeve shirt, hat with a brim, kind of day. If it doesn't warm up, we could be in for icy patches too. Three of the four months of training this year have been in snow and on ice with lots of cold so I am almost a pro for attacking this Sunday's type of forecasted conditions! Heck, I remember last year on the tree-sheltered downhill icy section where the police bike patrol were patrolling, a few of us veered off the ice into the edge of the bushes until we passed that part. With all my bushwhacking experience snowshoeing, I could possibly make up time here if the same situation presents itself this year!

My main goal as always is to finish upright and healthy with a smile on my face and my secondary goal is to do better than last year's time of 2:15:50.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lead Foot

There was no quality to be found anywhere in today's run! I hate when that happens, especially so close to race day. Lead foot usually refers to someone who is going fast, when they are driving, I felt like I had a lead foot when I was running and it didn't make me go fast. I was dragging my feet, dragging my butt, huffing and puffing, sweating, hunching over. I could not keep an even pace, heck I had to walk a few times for a few seconds. On the run back to my gym, I usually try and pace it so that I hit green lights, today I tried my best to hit red lights so I could just stop and stand and not move. I wanted this one over with and to wipe it from the record books but when I looked at what my 305 recorded, I will add it to my record book!

Time: 39:50 Distance: 6.2km Pace: 6:24 min/km

It doesn't look that bad compared to my other runs but, geesh, it felt the pitts!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Captured the Heart!

There's a reason this mountain is called Heart Mountain, as you can see! Looking at this mountain range from just the right angle, you see a heart! To me, it's "heart mountain" for others reasons. The steep continuous climb, the adrenaline rush from smoking the chimney and unbelievable scenery kept my heart rate up much of the day! This is what kept me occupied on Saturday! When I finally reached a place where I felt comfortable with standing up right without feeling like I was going to fall off the mountain and then turning around, this was the view! This is a portion of the highway I have been on many times passing by Lac Des Arc on the way to Banff. I always looked up at Heart Mountain, wanting to be there one day.
I was on such a natural high after smoking that chimney, I felt like I was on top of the world and could conquer anything. There you go, just like on Friday's run, the warrior within was winning.

After three hours of climbing and scrambling, stopping for lunch on the top of Heart Mountain to relax and rejuvenate then continuing on with some ridge walking, we finally reached the highest peak.
It's called MacEwen Peak! 2185 meters! My highest yet! I wrote a note and secured it within the capsule. If you are ever up there, be sure to check it out!
We always take time to play, no matter how serious the adventure! Time to get a little weight lifting in as I do my pull-ups with a full backpack on.
On the descent was where we first encountered any amount of significant snow. There were tracks we could follow to a certain point then somehow we got caught up in scenery and coversation and ended up heading in a direction we should not have. A few of us attempted to descend but it was looking somewhat out of our league.

Our adventure designer took a lay of the land, scouted about then came back to regroup and to report we would be taking a longer route because it had a gentler slope. We still had 290 meters of elevation to go down plus daylight hours were not in our favour. We had to pick up our pace quite a bit. We reached bottom as the sun was setting and still had 2 km back to the trail head. 10 Hours and 11.7 km later, we arrived back at the parking lot. I was tired, had wobbly legs, a few scratches and bruises and quite thirsty and hungry yet still feeling on a natural high like I was "on top of the world"!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Those Rolls Around My Waist!

Those of you who know me, know with my stature, I can't be talking about "those" rolls around my waist!

Due to the weekend warrior within me, I had to attack my long run today to free up Saturday and Sunday. I hit the path about 8:30 and was pleasantly surprised at the number of runners running on Friday morning! I always check the forecast for the next couple of hours before heading out the door and prepare accordingly. One thing I added to my routine before walking out the door, was a practice of what I had planned if need be! It worked in practice so I knew it would work if need be!

It needed to be! An hour into my run around the Shouldice Field on my return from the Shouldice Pool area, I stripped off my pants and shirt and tied them around my waist! No worries, I had a short set on underneath! With the sun trying to break through, the bare legs and arms felt most comfortable. I didn't particularly care for "those rolls around my waist" from my shirt and pants but they were light, wicking, and didn't cause too much discomfort.

I was plugged into my IPod the whole way and I found that to be a distraction from my pace which turned out being a good thing. Thanks to the spunky "Great Big Sea", the spirited "Corrs", the vibrant "Abba" and the rockin "Excellent 80's" I was able to pack a punch to my run and knock my pace out of the ring. I landed with a solid outcome of:

Time: 2:31:53
Distance: 23.8 kms
Pace: 6:22 min/km

Here's hoping the rest of my weekend activities are warrior like! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Proof is in the Pudding!

I was told by a running guru that when you run at lunch time, you will find what bothered you at work in the morning will not bother you in the afternoon after your run! Today it only took 32:20 over 5.2 km at a pace of 6:13 min/km to prove that true! I love what running does for my frame of mind!

This week I will only have 5 sleeps between my long runs! Usually it is 6 or 7 but I have to do my long run on Friday instead of Saturday or Sunday. You see, I will be attempting my first ever official scramble on Saturday! What I will be doing Saturday is one of my 50 New Year's Resolutions from 2008. This will be all about the "heart"! Do come back now, you hear, to read all about what part the "heart" plays in this! I can't run Sunday cause I'll be enjoying my first bike ride of the season! I know some of you can do both in one day, I'll be there mid summer maybe!

Hey! Could I be considered a tri-athlete? I'm doing three sports spread over three days!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

If I had to...

...I could have! Back in January when I committed to train for and run the Calgary Marathon on May 31st, the doubts that I had at the time whether I could do it, were ditched by the way-side today! If I had to run the 42km this morning, I could have! It may not have been in the 4:30 which is my goal but I could have got the job done. What a confidence booster it was to complete the 34 km and feel fine and happy with the effort.

When I hit the start button on my 305 at the "Y" it said 7:33am. For a couple of these long ones I want to start at 7:00am and simulate race day by going through the race morning routine. I was glad I wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt under my long one, because the long one came off after an hour.

My favourite flavour of strawberry-banana gel was sold out when I went shopping yesterday so I had to mix it up and went with one new double latte and two of the strawberry-banana I had at home. What a nice treat! My new favourite flavour, double latte!

In the early 20kms, I ended up in some park out past the Shouldice Pool, not quite sure where I was but backtracked some so not to get lost. That added on the distance I would need so I could finish back at the "Y" at the 34km mark without having to do extra loops.

At the parking lot by 10th St., a fellow was practicing on the bagpipes! I love the bagpipes but I hated hearing them this morning because it brought out some emotion in me, I guess I was feeling a tad fragile at this point. It felt like I lost some energy when the emotions took over. I knew I had to get by there quickly, out of hearing distance, out of mind!

At around 11:30am, I landed back at the "Y"! I walked around for about 20 minutes then went to my car to get my recovery drink, stretch and then head home. I finished the balance of my recovery drink with my feet in ice cold water. It felt so good!

I'm happy with today's run and the boost of confidence it gave me! I feel a smile come over my face when I look at the stats:

Distance: 34.3 km
Time: 3:51:17
Pace: 6:44 min/km

Happy Easter! Happy Spring! Happy Happy Everything!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

On The 6th Day She Rested

I can't remember when the last time was that I wasn't racing out the door first thing in the morning whether for work for running or for heading to the mountains. I knew for awhile that today would be a day to luxuriate and I was looking forward to it and counting down the days to today.

After a season finale snowshoe yesterday, I wanted to have a good rest today in preparation to run 34 km tomorrow. My day included lots of visits with the sofa, stretching, napping, snacking. Got to do some TV watching, map reading, blog posting, a little laundry and sock darning.

Seeing as playing in the mountains seems to be taking on a life of its own with me, I'm going to include countdown clocks for planned treks just like I do for races, on the sidebar of my blog. I added the first one today! Lake O'Hara has intrigued me for many years and finally I have the opportunity to hike there. It's a process to get this chance! On July 4th Sunny "D" Light, Adventure Designer, Ms"D" No Stoppin' Me, and myself will be going where many would love to but are not as fortunate. Thanks to Sunny "D" Light for the rigors she went through to obtain this chance of a lifetime. We have some other interesting adventures in the works for this summer! More on those later!

I'm keeping my figures crossed that I receive a special call or email this coming Friday! It's the first draw to pick torch bearers for the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. The second draw takes place July 22nd. Talk about opportunities!

Almost time to wind down even further and call it a day!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday? NO! Great Friday!

Taylor Lake is my last snowshoe of the season! Springtime snow can make for quite the challenge with its stickiness, heavy feeling, and sinking feeling. Spring was noticeable everywhere today: long shadows, creeks appearing through the disappearing snow, dust and needles covering the top layer of snow, melting snow giving way to hanging icicles and my most favourite springtime sign of all, a large, low, full, sun in a clear blue sky, giving off heat! The trail was a gradual continuous climb up through a tall forest! We started out with our snowshoes on our back as the trail seemed hard packed at first but as we ascended and the sun warmed the snow, we quickly experienced that sinking condition where one foot would break through and then sink to your knee, your lower thigh then sink to your upper thigh! It was time for snowshoes! Even then the sinking still happened! Not as frequent though! This was a challenge and it took awhile to reach the top. My breakfast and my drive up snack had warn off and I realized I was becoming delirious when I was imagining things, like this animal in the forest!
My 60CSX told me we didn't have much further to go! When we reached this flat area, I sensed there was something spectacular on the other side of those trees.
I was not disappointed! There is was, Taylor Lake nestled in the base of the beautiful Rockies! When I saw this scene, I knew this would be a place I would want to come back to in the summer. We set up our dining area facing east and had some fun time and sun time.
The trip down was quick for some who just went ahead and a few of us lingered back, taking photos, chatting, not wanting today to end. We covered just over 13km in about five and a half hours with a significant elevation gain of approximately 570 meters.

My snowshoes, my Pelican Snow-Flite and heavy boots are now in the basement until maybe November or December. It was a wonderful winter filled with tonnes of tremendous times and lots of laughs and meeting fun folks.

Today was a fine way to turn "Good Friday" into "Great Friday"!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Parks and Packs

Today felt like Friday at work! It was a crazy busy four days which seemed like five! When it came time (shortly after 11:00 am) to head out the office door for my Park run, I himmed and hawwed and wained and waffled...I did not want to go! I felt exhausted before I even went! Or was it my imagination looking for an excuse! I thought to myself, I paid my dues so I could do this over the lunch break and I know, yes I know, once I get out there, I will be so thankful I went for it! And that I was, I was so thankful I went for it! Once again in shorts and short sleeve shirt I hit the Park and put in a quick easy one. A quick and easy one for me tallies up to this:

Distance 5.07km Time 30:20 Pace 5:59 min/km.

After dinner, I packed my pack! My new backpack that is! It's the Osprey Exos 34! I am sensing that my future holds some serious hiking adventures so it was time to hang up the old pack and upgrade to one that has all the bells and whistles. This one does have an actual whistle in the breast bone buckle. Hopefully I will never be in a situation where I have to use it! My new pack is very light, has greater capacity and the back, waist belt and shoulder straps are ventilated.
We're off to the Park tomorrow, to the Castle Junction area of Banff National Park to be exact. It will be an opportunity to test my new pack on my last snowshoe trek of the season. I can't say I will be sad to retire the snowshoes to the basement. I had some great times on them this year and I wonder if tomorrow will be another great one to add to the list!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hills in the Heat

I bared my legs today! My arms too! For the first time this year, I ran in shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Although the temperature only read +9C, it seemed warmer than that as I felt the heat when I hit the hills. The plan was to do four and as I finished the fourth and started to head back, I made a snap decision , turned around and up the hill I went again to make it a quintette! Although, some of the times were slower then last week, I felt strong and I'm pleased when I look at the peaks and valleys here. Not only do I feel my hiking and snowshoeing are great cross-trainers for running, now I'm thinking running these hills should be great cross-training for hiking and snowshoeing! I would have to say, I have the best of both worlds happening!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back to the Backside of Blueberry

For me the most exciting thing that happened today was to see this lynx off on the side of the road. The photo was taken from the vehicle by J in the front seat using S's camera. I usually keep my camera with me but today packed it in the truck. This was today's topper along with the fantastic weather and the main destination.Just what my legs needed today, an easier, shorter snowshoe to stretch out my muscles! A small portion of this trek was a repeat of one I did back in February. I was back at Blueberry Hill but this time not only did we bushwhack down, we partially bushwhacked up too! The destination was the picnic table on the mountain top. That's where I am in this photo with the Upper Kananaskis Lake behind me. Here's a full photo from the picnic table. No gloves, no jacket, no hat and loving it! Only one shirt too!
Along the way, we saw where an avalanche had occurred earlier! I like the distance between us!
The sun shone for the whole four hours we were out there covering just over 7kms. Here we are, four of us admiring the lonely little tree. We were wondering how little it actually was when you take into consideration the snow depth.
It was a fun light easy day, just what I needed after Saturday's long long long run. It's back to reality tomorrow only to dream of what's next and wish for the work week to fly by! I had a great weekend, I felt like I was "on top of the world" with my run and my snowshoe!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Surpassing Goals

A goal is a goal is a goal! Passing a goal whether big or small, by a little or by a lot is "A-One" in my books! I rate me "A-One" on this morning's run!

I planned to hit the path by 7:30 am, when I hit the start button on my 305 it said 7:21 am! I was surprised at the number of people out running at that hour of a Saturday morning this time of year. But then again, this time of year is when lots of folks are running long runs as marathon dates are approaching.

I planned to run 29km, when I hit the stop button on my 305 it said 30.01! I was surprised how quick the 30km had passed and how good I felt. At the 25km distance, I saw Runner Leana running with her friend. She was doing an easy 14km today, saving herself for tomorrow's IceBreaker 10km. I misjudged how far out I was when I turned to come back and left myself 2km from the end so ran the extra one and then walked out the last one. When I got to my car, my recovery drink of banana, milk and yogurt was waiting for me. I downed it, drove home, now I'm ready to have lunch and then visit my sofa for a couple of hours!

This is "A-One" for me:
Distance 30km, Time 3:16:39, Pace 6:33 min/km

Friday, April 3, 2009

Finding a Clear and Safe 29

I'm looking forward to the 29km that I have to attack tomorrow! I enjoy the LSD! The only issue will be finding a route that covers that distance where it is clear of snow and safe to run early in the morning by myself and without doing double takes over the same areas. When I did my marathon training before, safety was not an issue but Calgary is a different city now. I will still head out from the Prince's Island area and take it from there, listening to my intuition!

Yesterday's lunch run was speedy for me! I have much more energy mid day then I do at the end of the day, so I am able to fit in quality runs. Quality for me looks like this:

Distance: 6.46 Time: 38:27 Pace: 5:56 min/km

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Runners Carry Me Through

Here we again, another Thursday! You know what that means! It's Runners' Lounge Take It and Run Thursday with this week's theme being "Ode to My Running Shoes!" Today we get to share why we love our running shoes but there is a catch! The words in our story has to equal the number of dollars our loved ones cost! In my case, I have to tell you in 119 words! Starting now:
I am a tried and true New Balance girl when it comes to running treats for me feet! New Balance 85_ series to be exact! The one and only pair of runners I tried on back in 1997 when I first started to run were New Balance 851. They fit perfectly and worked for me right off the bat. I have worn the 852, 853, 854, 855, 856, 857 and now I am on my second pair of 858. I have never once been tempted by others! New Balance captured my heart and soul and for that, I truly remain devoted! I have a Guardian Angel attached to the lace who watches over me every step of the way!