Sunday, February 28, 2010

Running Away From February

I'm happy that I can end the month of February on a good note by having a great 14km run. I wasn't so sure starting out that I would be able to feel that way at the end. I felt stiff from yesterday's hike, I started my run on two cups of coffee and I could not decide how many and what weight of upper layers I would need today which lead to changing 10 times before I went out my front door.

Before even starting my run at 8:00 am at Edworthy, I visited the ladies room. I headed west for 1.5km then turned around and headed east and making another visit to the ladies room before I proceeded with the longest part of my run. Note to self: one cup of coffee next time! I also quickly stopped by my car and ditched my hat and gloves. Smart move! My choice of a long sleeve technical shirt (2009 Police Half) over top of a short sleeve tech top proved a wise choice. I was now feeling comfortable, getting into the groove and just motoring along.

I could feel the sun on my face! My mind drifted and I was thinking it is time to prep the legs for running in shorts. It felt like spring was in the air. I even thought maybe it is time to replace my skates with my bike. Heck! That could be possible! I know I have spring fever! Geesh! Even the Canada Geese were all in pairs! Yes! Spring fever!

When I came back to reality, I was finishing up my run! The final results were 14.5km in 1:35:30 at an average running pace of 6:25min/km and an overall pace (running&walking) of 6:35. I am very pleased with my splits today.
I'm also pleased with what I have to show for my time in February! My running kilometers should be higher and I will work on that. This chart shows accumulation for the year so far. This could be it for my skating kilometers until next winter! One thing I know, I'm getting around!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Here! There! Everywhere!

When my friend put the suggestion out there that he was experiencing mountain withdrawals, I was quick to say I would accompany him on a hike to help cure him of his symptoms. We picked Hailstone Butte/Sentinel Peak as our destination. Violet marks the lookout on the Butte. Looks doable!
I suspected I might be in need of bricks in my pack but as it turned out, stones would be sufficient. It was breezy, not gail force winds like I experienced last year. We worked our way behind and up, enjoying the scenery along the way and also assessing the trail and conditions.
As we got closer, we spent a little more time assessing, going a little slower and less time enjoying the scenery. Trail conditions changed from lightly snow covered grassy gentle slopes, to those dreaded steep snowy slippery slopes. There were two ways to attain the Butte summit but both looked sketchy. One was to traverse a steep snowy slope that looked like it had potential for the snow to give way and slide or the other way was to scramble over a rock face then climb over a cornice overhanging the ridge to our destination.
Once G-Force stated the options, I was quick to reply "I'm not going, I want out of here and right now!" His normal come back would have been "it's doable, you can do it, come on let's at least give it a try" but this time, no words were spoken, he turned around and was out of there quicker then I was with me saying "wait up"! I trust his judgement and then felt like I had a little bit of mountain savvy myself when I realized I made a smart call. With only .46 kms to go over an elevation of 70 meters to the top, it was hard to swallow pride. Now the sun was starting to beat down and heat up, we could already feel the snow conditions changing on our descent.

To add a little fun to the descent, we worked our way over to a safe forest area then explored and bushwhacked our way down. Along the way, we also found an open area with amazing scenery to stop for lunch and make another plan.
Another plan was put in place!  We would work our way back to the vehicle, drop heavy stuff then carry on up and explore the Windy Peak Trail.  What a difference in trail conditions from one side of the road to the other.  On this side, instead of snow that was thigh deep at times, here it was only ankle or knee deep but most of the time no snow at all.   The sights were different over here too!
I couldn't help but notice today's cloud formations!  I was thankful for these because the sun got down right hot at times and I have the pink nose and cheeks to prove it.  It is time to add sunscreen to my pack.
We carried on to another high point and decided we should call this our summit for the day.  We spent some time here admiring the view.
If you have reached this far in my post, then you like me, and saying this is a large post.  It was a large day and I don't want any of the experience to be diminished! We were:
As we were nearing the end our adventure, I knew G-Force was cured of his symptoms but may have developed other symptoms!  I could see his bright pink face from the sun, the cut he got on his head was hidden by his hair and the soon to be stiff legs from all the ups and downs will no doubt show up tomorrow.  I am sure though, he is thinking it was all worth it! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Photography Practice

With everything in life, practice makes perfect, at least we try to perfect through practice! With some things how perfect it is can be measured by distance, or time, or pace, or height, or quantity like speed skating, or hockey, or ski cross! Where as others, beauty is in the eye of the beholder like ice dancing or photography. I thought it timely to relate this to Olympic events.

Today a co-worker and I passed our lunch hour practicing our photography skills at Prince's Island Park. This is what I came up with!





I don't own the fanciest, danciest camera so options are somewhat limited. I am open to allowing my eyes to be caught by what I perceive to be unique or photo worthy. I do have IPhoto and Photo Impression which I can use to perk up the pictures. I am open to helpful hints and ways to improve.

Running and Hiking

Following a plan and making a plan, that's what has been occupying my time recently!

My running is going just fine and now it's time to make my evening runs a tiny bit longer and that should be easy with it staying lighter longer and the sidewalks becoming clearer and clearer. I found a hill close to home that is dry and would be perfect for hill training. I do realize it is still just February and this is Calgary but I can't help it, I have spring fever! I was happy with my average pace of 6:09 min/km yesterday.

I was reminded on my run last evening that drivers don't always see when they look to the right when making a right hand turn to merge into traffic coming from the left. I thought I made eye contact and started to run into the cross-walk only to realize that I thought he saw me but must have seen through me! He scared me and I scared him!

I have been having a wonderful year so far with hiking and snowshoeing. With running I am following a plan and with hiking I am making a plan. Well, the plan is made, I am working on the details. I have my hotel room confirmation number and my money is down on a place ticket to hike in Utah in May. Now I just need to arrange a vehicle rental, pick what hikes to do and then as time gets closer, start a count down on number of sleeps!

This hiking trip comes smack in the middle of two half marathons that are a month apart. I have no intentions of running in Utah but I have always found that hiking is a great cross-training activity, although that has never been the reason I hike.

I love the anticipation of plans and when plans work out!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Early 12

I was finishing up my 12km this morning as most runners were just getting starting! Yes, I was out there as the sun was coming up and mine was the 3rd car at the Edworthy parking lot. I headed east and at 6km turned back to cover my tracks and call it a day.

My pace was quicker, no chatting today. I missed Karen, she has life happening for the next couple of weeks. Even though I still felt fine going at the quicker pace, I still prefer a chat to go with the slower pace.

I came prepared to head off to Bowness to skate 5km after my 12km run but it didn't happen. I came home, cleaned up, ate then had some one on one time with my sofa and TV!

This is how I chalk up today's run: 12:05km in 1:21:19 at an average pace of 6:44min/km. Looking at my split times, I think I do very well at keeping pace.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Water & Ice

Spring and winter in one day! That's what it felt like when we hiked into the Ink Pots where it was sunny and bright and took a detour to see the Upper Falls where it was icy and chilly.
We started from the Moose Meadows parking lot and followed a hard packed trail with gradual elevation up through the trees. It was -5 Celsius but felt cooler in the trees and it wasn't until we reached the fork in the trail to veer off to the Ink Pots that we shed a layer. I have been to this area before and I was excited for what we would see as the sky was blue and bright and I knew the views would be gorgeous. As we got closer, I quickened my pace, I could hardly wait to get there!
It felt like a spring day feeling the sun beat down and seeing the pots not frozen over. The benches were even vacant of snow which made for a great dining spot and this was our lunch time view.

As you can see above, I wore my icers to this point along the hard packed trail but now it was time to strap on my snowshoes and explore the area. A few others came along. We had to cross a bridge to get to the other side of the partially frozen creek to where we had a wide open playground.

We explored, played, admired the views, took photos and took turns breaking trail! It was untouched snow that was above my knees when I did sink through. For us few, this added on about another kilometer to our day.
Spring turns into winter! On the return trip, we carried on past the fork to see what has happening at the Upper Falls. Near the ice, in the shade, it felt like winter. We watched the ice climbers for a short while as did the raven. See the raven in the upper right photo!
The scenery was amazing today! What a difference a large blue sky can make. I couldn't stop smiling the whole time and these seemed pretty happy too!
With the added exploratory trip in the valley, and myself and a buddy taking two trips to see the ice climbers, the total distance tallied up to 15.2 km, which was more then I was expecting but when it came down to getting near the end, I wanted more! I wasn't ready for the day to be over. Yet, for now, today has me feeling "on top of the world"!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Prairie Girl

I was so indecisive on whether to hike up Prairie Mountain today, right up until the moment I took my first step towards the trail. I wanted an easy, short day with mountain views.
I got the easy, short day but no mountain views. The reasons for being indecisive were first of all the weather was not looking that great. I just finished reading that vehicles were broken into in that area on Saturday. I was soloing! I had hoped there would be a few cars already there which meant folks would already be ahead of me on the trail and that, in fact, was the case. Although I ended up passing them as they were slip sliding all over the place and smart me had icers on. I was long gone!

The sky was totally overcast with a few flurries flurrying around. Like I said, I had no views. But once up top, I had the mountain to myself for awhile. Thankfully it was warm. Once I reached the summit, I carried on down the backside for a short stretch as you can see in the photo on the right. Being alone, I didn't want to venture too far but I'm curious to know how far one could go.
I came back to the cairn to get my summit shot and by the time I got there a soloing fellow and his dog showed up. He took this photo. He didn't stick around long. He took my photo and was gone, running! Yes, running, him and his dog!
I sat on the edge of the mountain to dine where I had somewhat of a view of Canyon Creek down below. This was as good as it got for me. I'll take it! I think sitting on a mountain side like this with hardly any view still beats laying on my sofa with a fantastic view of the TV.
There is something to be said for solitude on a mountain top! I thoroughly enjoyed it. As I started my descent, the sky began to clear so my timing was off for weather. But, during my descent, I met half of Calgary ascending. So my timing was right for finding solitude. The total trip took 2:48 and that includes stops for photos and for lunch. I was pleased with myself for just going ahead and doing it and would definitely consider hiking that one again solo. I was surprised at the number of solo hikers I met as I was heading down.

It's been a busy, active last few days! My extra long weekend is coming to an end. It's back to reality tomorrow but just for four days!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Running & Photography

I'm working on my running and I'm working on my photography!

I met Karen for the 3rd Sunday in a row to do a 10km, slow, 10&1s run. The stats show we are getting slower, although it doesn't feel that way. Time: 1:14:11, Distance: 10.05 km, Pace: 7:23 min/km. This may have to do with us taking a few moments along the way to acknowledge Mother Nature and my watch not stopping like it should. A couple minutes passed when I realized so then I did a manual stop. The distance just flies by and the run is over before you even know it. That's the way it feels to me! I'm looking forward to the longer ones gradually getting longer now. I like that the number of daylight minutes are gradually getting longer too!
Seeing that our run was over with early and I was home before 11:00, with the weather being nice and still having energy to spend, I drove out to Cochrane just west of Calgary to work on my photography skills. I love how the hoar frost looks on the trees along the Bow River and Cochrane was the perfect place to see it. I was happy with how these turned out.

I took 112 pictures and only kept 17 of them. I guess this is the norm for photographers. I need to practice more with the macro function, position of me in relation to the sun and how to capture running water. I spent two hours taking photos and covered 6 kilometers. That was quite a workout itself!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday Skate Instead

I had all intentions of another Solo Saturday hiking up Prairie Mountain but when I woke to frosty, foggy conditions I changed my mind.  I hiked Prairie Mountain on November 11th in a blizzard and would like to do it again when there is a view.  My instead was still a solo!  A solo skate bright and early this morning at the Bowness Lagoon.   This was my view as I started out! I had the place to myself!  What a canvass!  
The conditions were perfect, both ice and weather.  Lady GaGa, Black Eyed Peas, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry,  Coldplay and The Weather Girls showed up and kept me company the whole time.
The sky was quite grey which made the trees stand out even more.  As I was finishing up my 14km, the sun was trying to burn through.  I was amazed at how this photo turned out!  I am loving my 9000 even more.
My legs felt heavy and tired near the end which I am sure I can contribute to yesterday.  Just over 14km on my blades in 1:15 was a great cross trainer and proof that I did it is right here.  

Friday, February 12, 2010

Our Own Olympics

February 12, 2010 is a very special day in Canada, the opening of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games!
It's also a long weekend in Alberta with Monday being "Family Day". A few of us arranged to take Friday off work to make an even extra long weekend. It felt like it was a Friday to celebrate with my snowshoeing family of friends. What better way to celebrate with friends, doing something sporty in recognition of the Olympic Games. We had our own games!
Crazy Carpeting
Taylor Lake
Making Waves
Sunny D Light
Adventure Designer
Ms D No Stopping Me
Stealth MD

Our games are a fun and friendly competition! Yet, like all athletes, there is that drive within to compete against our selves. My goal was to beat 26.9km/hr which found me in 3rd place at the last race. I wanted to do better today. When I glanced around at my competitors, I knew there were a couple I could beat. One though, I was suspicious about! Stealth MD showed up with a black carpet (equal to a black belt in karate) and he lived up to the name Stealth! He was long gone never to be seen again until we reached the finish line. I think I may file a grievance as there was talk he may have treated the bottom of his carpet with furniture polish. Like "doping", I am not so sure "polishing" is allowed!
As you can see, our equipment comes in many different colors and also there are many different carpeting techniques. We are fortunate this is not an expensive sport! Carpet= $4.99, Venue Rental=$0.00, Transportation to Event=$60.00/4, Experience=Priceless!

The race took place over a 6 kilometer stretch on the trail leading down from Taylor Lake. The course was narrow with lots of curves and steep drop offs in sections. It was a challenge to stay on course which most of us did most of the time but there were occasions when we needed help being hauled out of tree wells and pulled up slopes to get back on the track. My speed was no where near what I had hoped for. My maximum was only 12.9km/hr, as you can see in the following chart.
Final results are as follows:
Stealth MD-Gold
Adventure Designer-Silver
Making Waves-Bronze
Sunny D Light/Ms D No Stopping Me (a tie)

In my books, we are all winners!

Note: Stealth MD may be stripped of his Gold medal if the results come back positive for "polishing"!  Another note: Be sure to check out my snowshoe report for Taylor Lake leading up to the competition which is below this one.