Sunday, May 30, 2010

To Give or To Receive

After working the finish line handing out medals at today's race, I am not sure which is more rewarding, to receive a medal or to give onel!

I arrived at Murdock Park around 6:40am and walked around to see if I could see any of my friends to wish them well before the start. Then headed to the finish line to start work. Once the work started at 7:00am I didn't finish until 1:00pm. We spent the first hour hanging all the medals which there were thousands off. They were all color coded to match either the marathon, half-marathon, relay, 10km or 5km.

Around 8:00am, an hour after the full and half started, the organizer asked me to hold the ribbon for the first half-marathon to brake through as he crossed the finish line. Well, that just made my day right there! It didn't matter what happened after that, I was on top of the world. Once he crossed, then I loaded my arm with half-marathon medals to present.

I saw a few of my COC friends complete the half marathon, Amin, Trevor, Ron all with excellent times. I got to award some with their medal. I saw my blogging friend Kelly and awarded him his well deserved medal. I even got to see a co-worker finish with his wife who was running her first ever half marathon.

Once the marathon runners started to arrive, I then loaded my arm with the white ribboned medals. These runners amazed me! There were a couple of people I was paying close attention for and was so happy to greet them as they crossed, give them a medal and a hug. My hiking friend Derek did absolutely amazing for his first ever marathon, as did my blogging friend Barb who I had never met until that second. They were crossing the finish line fast and furious and there was never a dull moment. Some asked for hugs which I gladly gave and others looked like they needed a hug but didn't have an ounce of energy to ask for one, so I volunteered one and they were pleasingly accepted. Others near brought me to tears! I have been in their runners, so I know what that second is like when you finish. After some time, I recognized a face and a shirt, then positioned myself to award a medal to Martin Parnell. Today was Marathon #94 of the 250 he plans to do this year.

Once the runners thinned out, I had a moment to get a photo. At this point, I stayed for another half hour and called it a day at 1:00.
This was truly a fulfilling experience! I definitely want to work the finish line again another time! I may not have a voice come tomorrow and my back may hurt from standing on pavement for six hours. I still feel chilled to the bone and I'm working at warming my toes. The early start to the day and standing in the rain, snow and cold was well worth the pay off!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Finishing Lines

Did you follow our home town boy, Jamie Clarke, on his expedition to summit Mount Everest? I did! They reached the summit on May 17, 2010. While standing on top of the world was their goal, their "finish line" was when they all made it back to Base Camp safely. The video of them celebrating on the summit of Mount Everest was out of this world, but it was the video of them reaching their "finish line" that resonated with me! You can check out the video on his Facebook page.
They crossed the "finish line" on May 19, 2010. On May 28th he let us know he is back in Calgary. On May 30, 2010 another kind of "finish line" will come into play. This one will not involve Jamie directly, but me and a few thousand others.

Sunday May 30th, 2010 is the 46th anniversary of the Calgary Marathon. A few thousand people will be going for their own Everest, whether its the Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10km, 5km or 1km race. I won't be running but will be volunteering at the "finish line" where I will see the smiles, the hugs and hear words that will evoke emotion!
While there are vast differences between summiting Mount Everest and crossing the "finish line" of a race, there are many similarities! In both cases everyone has set a goal to aim for and to train for. They have made changes in their lifestyle for a period of time. They have had great training days and days when they felt like packing it in. In both cases, they realized a strength within that allowed them to overcome any doubt and accomplish their goal. Everyone is living their passion!

One similarity I never expected, would be weather related! While the amounts are vastly different between Everest and here, nevertheless, it is snow! These are not the weather conditions you would expect or hope for, for the end of May in Calgary on a big race day.

I wish the best for everyone tomorrow as you live out your passion and conquer your summit! I look forward to being at the "finish line" to celebrate with you!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Giving Back!

SOLD! To a 40 something year old male! Because transfers are not permitted for this race, he has to run as me. It will be my name that is called out over the loud speaker as he crosses the finish line! I'm sorry it has to be this way for him!

I feel on the sad side that I am not running and really wanted to be a part of this great race! I can still be a part! I signed up to volunteer! I will be working at the finish line area. A task I did once at a smaller race, yet a job I always wanted to do one day at a big race! This is my opportunity! The finish line is a hectic, busy place but hey, I can handle that! It is mostly a happy place, a fun place, an exciting place and a rewarding place even for volunteers!

I will be watching for all my friends who are running and maybe my job will be to clip of your chip, hand you your medal, provide you with a blanket or just yell out congratulations!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Overcoming Obstacles

The first time a few weeks ago, when we set out to summit Old Baldy Ridge, we had to call it an "attempt" because we were not successful. The "danger" sign that greeted us at the trailhead was a sign right from the start. Today we were greeted with a different sign! A lucky horse shoe!
Luck doesn't always come handed on a silver plater or with its stars aligned. Sometimes it takes work to make luck happen. When you have a crew who is passionate about their playtime in the mountains, about adventure and reaching summits, then no obstacle thrown their way can stop them from achieving the goal they set for that day!

We spent just over 9 hours on the trail today, more than any of us expected or were prepared for. Our very first obstacle came early on in the trek when one of the crew traced the trail back looking for a lost camera. Quickly taking off on their own, which never should have happened. We hunkered down in a sheltered area waiting and waiting and waiting. After quite some time, two other crew members went back to search only to return without a third person. Concern set in, we all returned in search and finally, after 1.5 hours, we were reunited! Camera still lost though! Speaking for myself, I am not so sure our concern was appreciated. Speaking for myself, concern is mentally fatiguing. We put this incident behind us, we were now 1.5 hours behind, time to forge on, on a long day yet still ahead, to face what other obstacles we were beginning to realize.

It is the May long weekend in Alberta, so of course we should have expected snow. What else is new! It was that crystally snow, thigh deep, which doesn't support weight. We had a boulder field to climb up and another one to face us on the way down. I'm not sure how many kilometers we bushwhacked down through a steep dense forest. On top of all that, nearing the end when our legs and feet were tired and heavy, we had to climb over a field of downed trees. Mantracker's words for these trail conditions would be "all this shit"!
Just before reaching Old Baldy Ridge, we stopped at this cairn to admire the scenery and for photos. Thank you to Adventure Designer for "shooting me" as I did my admiring. Notice my patches of honour on the top of my backpack.
After a few more minutes of ascending a steep, snowy, slope, we reached Old Baldy Ridge.
We worked hard for our rewards today! Every step was worth it when you have views like these. This is the tarn! It was suppose to be our lunch spot but we had lunch long before we reached this point. The risk looked high for an avalanche on that side anyway.
Two very different mountain colors and formations!
A portion of the ridge was covered in a brand new snowfall from the night before.
We could see the Kananaskis Golf Course far below us.
In May, I would have thought all the cornices would be gone but they are still hanging in there. We followed the ridge top along side the cornice for a little while before beginning our descent. You can see Nakiska Ski Hill in the center.
Our descent took us over the steep long rock field which is called Flat Creek and through an even longer dense steep forest which we had to bushwhack our way down through. After more then 8 hours, we reached the bottom and still had to follow a real trail for a few kilometers. We were on the home stretch though, as were these folks. At this point, I would have preferred this mode of transportation.
At the beginning of the trail when we spotted the lucky horse shoe, one of the crew stated it was upside down so the luck had ran out. I choose to dismiss his comment and believe luck was on our side. Luck was on our side but we sure had to put in a full day of work to realize it! Yet, it was worth every second and every step!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Doing something because I want to......

....not because I have to! I biked today because I wanted to and that makes it enjoyable. I haven't been feeling that way lately with running. The time I would spend on longer training runs I plan to now fill with bike rides or hikes.

I liked that I could sleep in this morning and then putter around once I did get up. I didn't have to race out the door to be somewhere at a certain time. I packed a lunch, took extra layers just in case and, of course, brought my camera. I had a plan with taking photos! It is a plan I copied from my friend Biker Babe B! She doesn't know I am calling her that! On one of her rides, she stuck to a photography theme which was "numbers". I wasn't sure what my theme would be today but hoped it would jump out at me as I went along!

Well, lots of things jumped out at me so no theme on this ride! I love biking this time of year. It's so colorful and spring aromas fill the air. The color in these flowers jumped out at me!

I rode wide circles around this family and zoomed in to get the shot. The parents are very protective of their young. I know that, because a Mom jumped out at me once when I got too close.

My ride takes me along the path by the Calgary Zoo. I am always curious what animals I might see each time I go by. I'm glad this fellow didn't jump out at me!

I rounded up and told a few friends I did 50km! It sounds better!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

From Bryce Back To Zion (May 12)

On the Wednesday morning, I was up bright and early to drive the Bryce Canyon scenic route before heading back to Zion. I wasn't up bright and early to see the sunshine but early enough to beat most of the other tourists along this route. It was 18 miles one way and I stopped at all the pullouts along the way gradually working my way in elevation to Rainbow Point which was as far as you could go.
It was very scenic and they say on a clear day you could see all the way to New Mexico.
I was scenery watching and this little fellow was people watching!
I completed the route and then made my way to the highway to head south to Zion. The further south I went, the higher the temperature got and by the time I reached Zion, it was sweltering. It was only noon, so I had a quick bite to eat, changed into summer cloths, packed my pack, hopped the shuttle and aimed for the park with a few smaller hikes in mind.


This was a lush gorgeous area and very refreshing. I followed the bridge over a creek that led to the Weeping Rock. It was a short walk of about 10 minutes.
I stood under the lip of the ridge to gaze out at the scenery and watch the water drip over the edge. My camera isn't fancy enough to get fab shots of this but I can share the colorful wall with you.
There are even rock benches to sit on and just relax and enjoy!
I rode the shuttle and got of at a couple of stops just to have a look around before heading on to my final hike for the day which started at the Visitor Center.


This is about a 6km round trip and they suggest a nice evening hike. Late afternoon would be fine for me to do this. The trail started a short walk from the Zion Visitor Center which is at the entrance to the Park.
I would highly recommend this hike for the variety of trail conditions and scenery. The flowers were in full bloom and colorful.

The trail led you high above Springdale where you had views of the little town and far off in the distance. With only 100 meters of elevation, that was all it took to get views like this.
This was a really long day and time for me to call it a day. That is after dinner and a beer and time on my patio. Tomorrow is a big day and my last day of hiking so I need a good night sleep.

Peekaboo and Queens Garden Trails (May 11)


On the Tuesday morning I drove northwest to Bryce Canyon National Park.  It was a two and a half hour drive.   My intentions were to hike Peekaboo Trail this day and Queens Garden the next.  Once I got hiking I couldn't stop and ended up completing both.  If you check the google earth map below, you will see I did a figure eight.  That meant I only had to climb back up out of the amphitheatre once.  

I started at the Sunset Trail parking lot and hiked down the switchbacks to the bottom to start the Peekaboo Trail.  I read reviews that it is easier to go down this then to come up it.  
The colors were amazing and like nothing I had ever seen before.  This is the only place on earth where the scenery looks like this.
The trail meandered all over and around and through these pinnacles and pillars.  There were a few arches to peek through and others you hiked right through.
Even though the summit is at the top before you even start hiking, I still wanted a victory shot.  I was actually summiting mentally.  I criss-crossed paths with the same folks a few times and at one point a fellow patted me on the shoulder and said you are always smiling and that is great.  I guess my mental summit was obvious!
At the four way junction I stopped for lunch.  I met some nice people and chatted for awhile.  We were all really enjoying the day.  One loop down, one to go!  The Queens Garden was next and folks were telling me to make sure I don't miss it!  It was worthy of royalty!  You can see the trail wind around the base of the pinnacles.
The trail above was leading to an arch.  The window gave me a gorgeous view of the gardens beyond.  After taking the photo, this was an arch I could walk through.
The Queens Garden offered views far beyond the amphitheatre.  
Of course, I have to have a summit shot from this trail too!  
After just over 4 hours and 11.5km later, I completed both trails.  I sat on the rim for awhile taking in the beauty.  It was spectacular!  I then headed to Ruby's Inn, checked in and hung out.  The plan for the next morning was to drive the Bryce Canyon Scenic Route before heading back to Zion.