Friday, April 30, 2010

Good-Bye April


I have a confession! I have not run since completing the Police Half-Marathon last Sunday and how I feel right now is that I don't care about running or even care if I run again! I have no plans to run on Sunday like I always do, instead I plan to hike. That being said, I am signed up for the Centaur Subaru Calgary Half Marathon on May 30th.

I covered lots of ground in April and here is my chart showing how much I covered year-to-date.
Tomorrow brings the start of an exciting Month! Tomorrow will be the first time ever that I have headed west to the mountains not knowing what I will be doing until I arrive! I am prepared to summit or to snowshoe. We will eye the mountain conditions as we arrive in the middle of them and make the call then!

On May 8th I leave for my week hiking vacation in Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, USA. This is a solo trip! At times I question my sanity on what I have chosen to do and on the other hand I am just so excited that I can barely contain myself. The weather forecast there looks amazing!
I need to make a decision on what to do about the Half-Marathon on May 30th. I have no intentions to run while I am in Utah. Upon my return, I want to bike and hike. I have a weekend day booked to hone my scrambling skills because I want to do more of that! May holds promise for a world-wind month and it all starts tomorrow, 1 minute from now!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

After Just 9 More Sleeps...

...this will be me driving through the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, USA. This photo is courtesy of a ClubTread forum member. Am I excited? You bet!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Calgary Police Half Marathon

This morning I ran the Calgary Police Half Marathon. This race was celebrating the 30th Anniversary and it was my 8th time for running it. The pre-race routine went as routine except for one thing! As I was at the trunk of my car getting my gear in order, I felt someone starring at me. It wasn't a somebody, it was this! It stayed there while I got my camera to take a photo. I took this as a sign, that I would be quick as a bunny today!
My plan was to do the 10&1's strategy, try to stay within a 6:20-6:25 min/km, down a gel 1:25 minutes into the race, listen to every beat the Calgary Police Band played at the top of that Weaselhead Hill, have fun and aim for a 2:15 finish time. My plan of attack went well, it worked for me, but with a couple of klicks to go, something overtook me and I felt like I was ready to pack it in and call it a day! I was looking for a way out, I didn't want to play anymore but finally came to my senses and thought I have to get back to the parking lot one way or another, just keep running. I ended up putting a couple of very short additional walk breaks in near the end. As I rounded the last corner and headed down the home stretch, with all the people yelling I was able to muster up some energy to finish strong. Thank you Leana for that cheer of support, I really needed it!

I crossed the line in a time of 2:16:18. It's not the 2:15 I was aiming for but I am very happy with it. My average running pace was 6:25 min/km. Looking over my stats for the race, I noticed I kept that pace all the way up the Weaselhead Hill, although it felt like I was going slower. It could be that all that hiking up mountains is paying off!
This is the route we ran.
I was curious to see a clear elevation chart so plugged my 305 in and uploaded the stats to Garmin BaseCamp. This is what I got!

I think I will take a few days off and give my legs a rest before I get busy training for the Calgary Half Marathon on May 30th.  I will admire my medal for a few days before I hang it on the coat rack with the other medals.  

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I Had To Do Something!

Today was suppose to be a rest day, saving my legs for tomorrow's Police Half Marathon! I had a great night sleep and woke this morning raring to go. I had to do something! A short drive from home is the Hidden Creek Trail Area and a great place to play photographer! I spent two hours meandering the trails, taking close to 200 shots, 70 of which I kept. Here are a handful!
macro shots
rock formations
man made
That bench reminds me I should be sitting down and taking a load off and that's what I shall be doing for the balance of the day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ready to Race

Three more sleeps then the race is on! Although, I will be running the race not racing the race! I am having an easy week with just two runs, my long last Sunday which was short and an early morning one yesterday. I was very pleased with both and could have done the 21km if needed be.

Sunday's race will be the 30th Anniversary of the Calgary Police Half Marathon and the race pack recognizes that. One issue, just when I thought I had the shirt sizing figured out, they mixed it up again and I should have gone with one size bigger.
The forecast right now for Sunday is mostly sunny, fun, single digit highs and a finish time of 2:15.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Update to Yesterday's Sighting

Thank you to Anatoly for passing along this photo of the grizzly we encountered yesterday on the Mount Lady MacDonald hiking trail by Canmore. He quickly snapped this, as we quickly got into our tight group and before we quickly moved on from this area.  Speaking on behalf of myself and I am sure of my hiking buddies, we do not promote pointing a camera lens at a grizzly bear that is in such close range as this one was at approximately 25 feet away.  We were very fortunate this time!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mount Lady MacBear

That's my new name for Mount Lady MacDonald! We were finally able to hit the Cougar Creek Trail in Canmore to connect us to the Mt Lady MacDonald trail to bag the peak. "Lady Macdonald Hiking Trail, Canmore Area: The wildlife closure of the Lady Macdonald hiking trail has been lifted; the trail is now open. Please note that cougars may still be present in the area as their prey, bighorn sheep, frequent the area adjacent to the trail." This was the notice posted on the Kananaskis Trail Conditions Website on Thursday so that meant this hike was a go. So we went! We remained cautious that cougars could still be in the vicinity though.

We never expected to see what we saw though! Hence, the name, Mount Lady MacBear! There were many highlights for today with the main highlight being reaching the summit and, of course, the scenery on the journey to the summit was spectacular. We had a variety of trail conditions along the way. We started on a groomed trail with a view of The Three Sisters behind us. We rock and rolled over a lengthy boulder field and even had to slosh through snow higher up. Check out the photo of our final push to the summit. If you look closely you will see hikers ahead of us, they appear as dots so this puts things into perspective.
Part way up a couple of my buddies caught a glimpse of a grizzly about 75 to 100 meters away, running away from us. We felt safe so carried on yet waiting until we reached the plateau before calling the sighting in. This is my summit shot from the plateau area. I'm standing on what was to be a helicopter landing pad with a fenced platform behind me where there was to be a teahouse. It was never completed and never will be!
We rested here for a short while and filled our tanks before heading on to tackle the scramble part which would bring us to the summit of Mount Lady MacDonald which is in the left photo just short of the V on the left of the mountain. Adventure Designer also called in our grizzly sighting.
I took a panorama shot showing the townsite of Canmore and the surrounding mountain ranges including The Three Sisters to the mid left.
It was a slow slog for the last push to the summit but so well worth it when we reached it. The ridge was the narrowest I have been on with not much room to maneuver. I desperately wanted a true summit shot and this was the best I could come up with. It is a straight drop in front of me and a cornice behind me with a straight drop. Even though this is a summit shot it is truly a "limit shot"! I found my limit for today! Maybe the next time my limit will be standing upright. This was also a graduation day for me, as we covered close to 1150 meters in total elevation gain, that is the most I have completed in one hike yet. You can see to the left, others much more experienced then me, carried on along what is called the "Knife Edge Ridge"! I can't even imagine the adrenaline rush they must have been feeling. At this time, little did we know this was not the adrenaline peak!
We conquered what we set out to do, now it was time to quickly get back down to the plateau area because we saw a few dark clouds move in and it was best to be on safer ground. We played around for awhile once we were back down on the helicopter pad, taking fun photos, telling stories and snacking.

The rest of the hike ahead of us was the easy part! We shed a few layers and slowly sauntered downwards, winding through the forest portion. A couple of minutes after we moved aside to let two faster fellows pass us, they returned us the favour by yelling "BEAR" to us. This was the adrenaline peak point! They say its just to your right so move to your left. For what seemed like eternity but in reality was a fraction of a second, we stood eye to eye with a grizzly bear about 25 feet away. In her this time serious, yet, as always calm way, Adventure Designer rallied the troops. The bear stared at us then slowly started to move towards us but as we quickly did what was advised which was to bunch together to make us look gigantic, get the bear spray in the aim position then deeply and loudly give it a piece of our minds, it appeared to take off and veer away from us. No more sauntering from here on in, we then went about our business quickly and noisily through the balance of the forest, over the big boulder field, and on to a more gentler slope which was open. Once again feeling in a safe place, Adventure Designer placed a second call to report the sighting. We felt concerned for those who were still far behind us on their way down, and dumbfounded at those that choose to carry on up after we warned them.

It was at this point when we are on the flat, final stretch to the trailhead that my heartbeat settled down somewhat, my pupils contracted back to normal, I could saunter again and take a few final last photos. This photo looks to me like we are heading home after a hard day's work!
Today was a learning experience and a growing one too! Agent X shared some words of wisdom with me that I am very thankful to have learned and will take with me every time I am out in a playground like this. The written words of my friend are very fitting, "Go ahead and top this"! So Mount Lady MacDonald! I pronounce you Mount Lady MacBear!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Last Long! Taper Time!

I completed my last long run before the Police Half Marathon on April 25th. I knocked off 20km this morning and now I am into taper mode. I was out the door early and finished early, back home before 10:00am. My pace is slower than my training pace this time last year, so I am thinking my race time will be slower too. As long as I will be able to finish upright and healthy and smiling and in fine shape to head off on vacation, then I can't ask for anything more. Digits for today look like this!
It was the first long run wearing the HRM and I actually forgot I even had it on. I hear that is suppose to be what it feels like if it is fitting properly. I know now where the rate should be and that it should be steadier and maybe gradually go up a little as the run gets on near the end. But because I do the 10&1s strategy, that could through it off from being more level.
My new runners were at my doorstep when I got home from work on Friday. Running 20km wearing them for the first time wouldn't be a smart move on my part, so will try them out on my next morning run.
These are New Balance 850. New Balance has been near and dear to my heart. I started running 13 years ago with New Balance 851. I have stayed tried and true and gone through the 852, 853, 854, 855, 856, 857, 858, 859 and now its time to start all over again with the newly revamped 850 pair.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Getting High and Dirty!

There is that saying "getting down and dirty", well we put our own twist on it today "getting high and dirty"! A couple of weeks ago I did a hike and along the way I snapped this shot of Mount Yamnuska and stated it was on my to-do list. Today was the day to get that dirty deed done!
I was advised before hand to gear up in older duds because the conditions of this trail could take a toll. I didn't listen! There were lots of places to play along the way where evidence of taking a toll were pretty much non existent, so I didn't know what all the talk was about. These were truly places to play though! We had to smoke a chimney, hang on to chains for dear life and we even got to live on the edge!
We were so fortunate to have a clear blue sky while we played! The peaks looked so prominent as they pointed skyward. These peaks were pretty....
....but these peaks had to be the prettiest!
After roughly 900 meters of elevation, we reached the summit which was at 2239 meters. We stopped for a short period of time to take summit shots and have lunch. Now the real fun begins!
We are high here (and still clean) but now its time to get high and dirty! We have to go down for this and this is what we have to go down. First, we have to traverse and you can see the faint trail we worked our way out to the middle off.
Once we reached the middle, then we faced down the gigantic scree slope and went for it! This is what Mt. Yamnuska is known for, the opportunity to slip and slide and scream in the scree all the way down the steep slope! You can see a couple of my buddies in the bottom photo halfway down the slope.
At the bottom, we checked to see the toll that was taken! I knew there would be dust accumulation, but never imagined it would be to this degree. Scrambled Legs even had damage done to his boots. You can see the sole separating from the body of his boot.
Mt Yamnuska is the very prominent and distinctly looking mountain on your right hand side as you are heading west and you can't miss it as you pass the turn off to Highway 40. It forever comes up in conversation, many have done it multiple times, its known for the chain section and the scree section and in my books there should be special recognition for conquering it! "Yammie"! That's it, those that have scrambled Mt Yamnuska are Yammies! Some definitions of this name that I came across are: scattered and emotional nature, responsible expressive personality, rarely at a loss for words, do not often experience loneliness! Fits me!

The stats for today are that we covered approximately 10km in 5:20 and total elevation reached up to 918 meters. After the deed was done, I felt high and mighty and dirty! I'm very happy to check this one off my to-do list. It has been on my list for so long and was very worthy of being there because as it turned out, it gave me that feeling of being "on top of the world!"

Chains! Helmets!

.....and screeeeeeaming!
Stay Tuned!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ugly! But Done!

I had a 17km LSD on my training schedule for today. I was all gung-ho after a good night sleep and for what seemed like ideal conditions weather-wise. I got out my front door at 7:35am and very soon was thankful for the long pants, long sleeve tech top and gloves. I ran and I ran and I ran and getting into a groove just wasn't happening. Three times I took a turn in the road and headed back towards home but veered away just before I got there and thought just do two more kilometers. Each time I was almost home I said just do 2 more km! At one point I felt like I was going to wolf my cookies but that went away then I thought I was going to have the runs but that went away then I started to see that kaleidoscope effect out of the corner of my eye but that went away. I fought the wind for a large portion of my run. I felt like I was breathing heavy the whole time. With a couple of kilometers to go, I really had to pee bad and also I could feel a blister starting on the arch of my right foot.

The whole run was ugly! I could not find pretty anywhere! I knew I had to push on though, and overcome ugly because on race day, ugly could make an appearance and you need to know how to deal with it. I ended up back at my front door 1:57:23 later after covering 17.4 km.

Now I have the whole day ahead of me. My running schedule is already is place, now I am working on plans for a Jasper Weekend, dates for a Lake O'Hara hike, counting my sleeps until Zion, and dreaming of what other mountains I would like to summit!

I hope everyone is having a Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Tough 36 !

Biking 36 kilometers into the wind the whole way makes for a tough ride, yet I enjoyed every second of it! The original plan was to bike 50 klicks, increasing my distance by 15 over my last ride. I'm not training for any biking event, biking is just for sheer pleasure, so I'm happy with the 36.

I tried out my new deuter pack and it is a keeper! You can see it in this photo. It was very comfortable and held everything I needed for the ride with room to spare in case I needed to pack my jacket. I thought I would have to take a layer off but just like yesterday, kept them all on.
A portion of the route is closed for construction so I had to take a detour. It involved one killer of a hill that I had to walk up. This detour is in effect until July. With any luck, getting into May or June I should be able to ride the whole hill. For anyone that is interested in an Easter Brunch, I noticed this sign along the detour route!
I also noticed the wildlife along the way! Glad to see they are behind a wire fence! You never know what you might see out biking. I know that so I stay aware of my surroundings.
I wonder when the fire was? It smelled very fresh! Calgary is so dry these days! The size of this one was nothing compared to the size of the one we saw yesterday along the highway heading west.
I was spent by the time I got home so spent the balance of the afternoon enjoying some one on one time with my sofa. I have to rest my legs for tomorrow's 17km. That is 17km of running!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Today is Brought to You by the Letter "E"!

My expectation for the first day of this Easter long weekend was that we would summit the Easy Edge of Rundle. That's what I like to call it but really, EEOR stands for East End of Rundle. Mount Rundle is some 20 kilometers long, beginning in Banff and running East to Canmore. The purple Good Friday dot marks our destination with the photo being taken after half of the elevation was completed already.
I had some expectations for today! Not only was I expecting to bag EEOR but I expected I would eventually end up down to my short sleeve Patagonia tech shirt along the way, but as you can see by looking at the bottom photo here with Ha Ling Peak behind me, I'm still in four upper layers. We had fantastic views of Ha Ling Peak for the majority of our scramble. It is located just east of EEOR. Some buddies were bagging it today and I looked for them but no success.
Another expectation was that we would have clear views of Canmore far down below us! The view could not have been more exceptional than this. We're not even on the summit here so it could only get better.
We came across a fair amount of new spring snow which made sections of the scramble a little dicy, so I was thankful to have my stabilicers to strap on. There was more hands on along the route then I had ever experienced before, so I have to call today, another graduation day! As expected, Victory, my pole position says so! I'm on the summit of EEOR with Canmore behind and below me.

Now for the coolest thing! A hiking buddy on the summit with me has relatives in Canmore. They have their super duper camera with a super duper lens set up. With a phone call from the summit to send notification of our achievement, they spot us! It's amazing how technology can bring folks together these days!
I was ecstatic to be on this summit today! Looking around at the smiles of my buddies, the feeling was mutual. On a perfect day weather-wise this would have been a fabulous spot to dine but we chilled off pretty quickly with the cold wind and decided to descent some meters to find a sheltered spot. Once we found a perfect spot, I sat down to take a load off and devour my lunch only to find after a few bites we were loading back up again. With my lunch hanging out of my mouth, we carried on to finish our descent.

The rock formations never fail to catch my eye! If you look closely in the bottom left photo, you will spy a few of my buddies up ahead of me. I like how the cairns mark our way. One day I will erect one of my own! The bottom right photo is what we arrived at upon the end of our descent. The grey/blue on the side reflects in the emerald colored water.
What a way to start the Easter long weekend! Even though this is Easter and not Thanksgiving, I give thanks to be able to experience, what felt to be like a great expedition! Today was rewarding with the gift being, feeling like I was "on top of the world"!