Sunday, January 31, 2010

Running & Blogging & Summary

Sunday morning means running for me! From the looks of things this morning, it means the same for hundreds of folks. It didn't matter that is was -12 C with a -19 C windchill and icy flurries flying about, we runners are tried and true. Not only were the flurries flying but we seemed to be and so was time! By "we" I mean Karen! She has been a Facebook Friend and Blogging Buddie for a couple of years and this was the first time we ran together. Blogging has been fun, I have learned lots from others and it seems like therapy at times. It's even more rewarding when you get to share face to face time with those you blog with. Thank you Karen for your company this morning! We met at Edworthy and did a back & forth, out & back covering 10km which was the plan. 1:11:43 later we completed the task. We had lots to chat about and going at a pace of 7:09 min/km it was easy to say what we wanted to say.
A month of 2010 is over already! Where did the time go? Well, I can show you where it went for me when it comes to my activity pursuits. Here it is!
I won't have anything to report on biking for a few months yet. I'm just not into winter biking. I am happy with my hiking and running. The snowshoeing kilometers will come but when you get the opportunity to hike in January you just have to go for it. It makes the winters seem shorter. I need to work on finding time to skate.

I'm looking forward to February!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

No Need For Guns a Blazin

I arrived at the the trailhead of Gunnery Mountain prepared to have all my "guns a blazin" because I was going to get to that summit come hell or high water! You know when someone tells you not to do something it just makes you more determined to do it! Advice from supposedly those in the know was that this would be an unsafe place to go during winter months. Heck, there was no hell and there was no high water! There was no snowshoeing or scrambling either. It panned out to be a fairly easy mountain hike. Yet still, a most enjoyable day!

The weather was warm but cloud cover hoovered over us all day. It made for an eyrie experience! The area had been totally burned by a massive forest fire many moons ago. Signs of that still exist! The mountain scenery wasn't there today but was replaced with unusual tree growth which caught my attention.
Could those folks who are supposedly in the know and deemed this place unsafe, have been talking about being spooked by what lurks during a full moon? We did sight numerous cougar tracks and other undefined large animal tracks which appeared to be more deer-like than cat-like. Every now and then, I did sense an eyrie feeling when I saw scenes like these!
Even though there were signs of a massive forest fire, regrowth did exist! We saw bits of color here and there. Although, the brightest color today came from everyones' hiking attire. We lit up the place, where the sun didn't! Gunnery Mountain is alive!
I certainly felt alive! I'm thankful others are game to go where even others would not dare! We didn't have to take chances. There was absolutely nothing to deter us, to scare us or to put us in danger. We climbed trees and even played in the trees. We had fun in the deep snow at the top and we even accomplished a little bushwhacking which always delights my heart.
So, no guns a blazin for Gunnery! This mountain is open for business! When we finished up around 3:30, I felt sad that it was over but realize this one has to be over so I can start the next! I can hardly wait until I get that opportunity again to feel like I am "on top of the world!"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Aid But Not For Running


There I go, solo running again! But that is O.K., it was an out the front door of my home run. This was my first evening run in the neighbourhood this year. I went prepared with my Spikys on but was surprised to see the sidewalks were mostly cleared of ice and snow. After 1 km, I ditched the Spikys. Not only did I not need them, they were affecting my gait and compromising the springiness in my runners. I could really feel it in my legs. What I have to show for my first neighbourhood run of the year is 5.2km in a time of 32:51 which siphers out to an average pace of 6:25 min/km.

I am officially entered in the Centaur Subaru Half-Marathon on May 30th here in Calgary. Early bird entry comes to an end on January 30th and it is filling up. No marathon for me this year. I will see how I am after the Police Half in April and the Calgary Half in May before committing to any more races.

First Aid

This is the First Aid kit I carry in my backpack for emergencies that could crop up in the back country. I purchased it many many moons ago and thought it would be sufficient if ever needed.

That was until Saturday when I saw the kit a hiking buddy carries! I have work to do on mine. My "out there" seems to increasingly be more and more "away out there", and for that reason, carrying a more complete First Aid kit would be a smart thing. I found a few websites that suggest items that would come in handy. It's better to be safe than sorry!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In search of my way... running way that is! I have been struggling with motivation and direction for some time now when it comes to a running routine. One of my resolutions for 2010 is to be a social runner. I use to be a great one! The past two years it has been predominantly solo. I'm questioning if solo is what works best for me!

Yesterday I met up with a new group for my Sunday 10&1 run. I picked the slower group to run with which was suppose to be over a 10 minute mile which would be a 6:10 to 6:20 minute kilometer. After all, this is suppose to be my LSD (long slow distance) as I start to build for the Police Half Marathon the end of April. I started off with the slower group and kept up with them for maybe a minute. That was about it! They bolted like there was no tomorrow. After a few minutes I caught up with them, I was curious what their pace was. It was an 8:50 minute mile which equates to a 5:30 minute kilometer. Holy! To non runners it may not sound like much of a time difference between an 8:50 minute mile and a 10:00 minute mile, but believe me, it is significant! Very significant!

I could not keep up and I didn't want to keep up. I decided I needed to do my own thing if I wanted to be capable of going on. I ran my pace and can keep it very consistent which is easy to do when I'm wearing my 305. The pacer for the slower group ended up waiting up for me and running with me and didn't mind sticking with me when I said I don't mind running alone and I didn't want to hold him back. I ended up being the pacer for him and I.

Today's run was 7.8 kms in 49:02 with an average pace of 6:17 min/km which is about a 10:04 minute mile. This was my intention for today's run right from the get go and what I had thought would be the slow groups pace. I am not sure if this group is the route to go for me but I may try it one more time. I am very particular about my pace and may find solo will be the route.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Attacked an Outlier and Won

It appeared menacing! It came across as unapproachable! It was gigantic! It looked scary! It intimidated me! I'm not talking about some kind of animal but of North Kent Outlier! I have been on mountain tops, reached peaks, hiked along ridges and even stood on a col. This was my first attempt at an outlier. In simple terms from the dictionary, an outlier is something (as a geological feature) that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body. This is it! The star marks North Kent Outlier, our destination for today.

We snowshoed for the first portion of the trek.  Once out of the trees and onto the wide open space, we dropped the snowshoes and put on our traction devices.  These suited the conditions of lightly snow covered loose rock slabs.  This is the closest I have ever been to a cornice. In simple terms from the dictionary, a cornice is a horizontal molded projection that crowns or completes a building or wall. When it comes to winter in the mountains, the snow is the projection over the edge. What a learning experience today was! This is as close to the edge as one should go. At one point along the route, we could see the fracture line in the snow of where the mountain ended.

The distance to the summit was only 3.3 kilometers over 741 meters. Such a steep ascent was another first for me. Our average pace ascending was 1.3 km/hr. Scrambled Legs led us to a perfect dining spot on the summit which we reached after 2 1/2 hours.  I admire all my friends' mountain knowledge and skills.  We spent some time here enjoying lunch, the scenery and taking photos.

We had blue sky, at times, we had crystal-like snow falling that sparked and even when there was total cloud cover, the view was still amazing. All these conditions made for great photo opportunities.

This was another graduation day for me! I graduated when I went to serious Stynger hiking boots and when I didn't cry after falling down Tent Ridge. I only whispered "I'm nervous" once today. I asked for a spotter on the way down but didn't need one. As you can tell from all my photos, this Outlier was all show! It didn't beat me! I beat it and I won! My summit shot is my proof and I'm smiling!

I need to have a little more faith and confidence and not second guess. My original intention was to pass on even attempting something like this. Adventure Designer seems to be in tune to my limits more than I am and I'm thankful for being encouraged to come along. Today was an Everest for me and when we reached that North Kent Outlier Summit, I felt like I was "on top of the world!"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Brush with the Olympic Torch Relay

Today I ended up in the right place at the right time! My only intentions were to find a place where I could see an Olympic Torch Bearer run by and come away with a few snap shots. I checked out the scheduled times and routes and found a place that would work for me. I took this photo along the way. Gosh our city is growing and look at that blue sky! Perfect!

I found a good spot and just stood my ground, socialized with others and waited. Someone pointed out this was a torch bearer change over spot. Perfect! CTV showed up, parked their vehicle, got out and milled around and I thought, somebody who is a somebody, must be gonna show up if CTV is hanging out here. Perfect!

The excitement starts with police vehicles paroling, the 2010 official vehicles driving by, Hawks flying overhead and people yelling, waving flags and beating the tambourines handed to us by RBC. Yes, I was beating mine! Perfect!

The estimated time of arrival of the Olympic Flame was 11:21. Approximately 10 minutes before it was due, the Van carrying the Runners stopped beside me and who should jump out but Stephen Ames. He was all decked out in a Torch Bearer uniform carrying a torch. We exchanged pleasantries and then I asked to have a photo taken with him. As you can see, he obliged. I didn't get to hold the torch but I did get to touch it. Perfect!

It was time to move aside and watch what I will probably never see happen again in my lifetime, the torch bearer running along, meeting up with Stephen Ames then passing along the flame to light the torch.  I am having issues downloading my video to blogger so this is a still from the video.

I applied to be a torch bearer but was not picked. This has got to be the next best thing! This turned out being much more then I expected. Like I said before, I ended up in the right place at the right time! How perfect is that!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

All in a Day's Work

When you are asked to show up with a smile and to come ready to explore, you have to know you are in for some kind of adventure!  This was what Adventure Designer asked of us and we delivered and she delivered!  We headed southwest of the city in the general direction of Longview which just so happens to have a wonderful playground starting at the Sentinel Day Use Recreational Area.  Just 500 meters down and across the road we began our adventure up Grass Pass towards Bull Creek Hills. 

I picked the title of "All in a Day's Work" because at times it felt like work.  Although, you can't really call hiking in mid January in Alberta with a temperature of +5 degrees Celsius, work! While enjoying the heat from the bright sunshine, we did have some attacking and conquering to do.     

I certainly worked up an appetite and was very thankful by the time we reached a high point, with views where we could see forever, as our choice spot to dine.  We all needed to refuel for what work was still ahead.  Although our work, and our attacking and battling and conquering was nothing like other battles that obviously took place on this playground.  Or should I call it a battle ground!

When you come out the winner on a day like this, I can't help but jump for joy.  I still need to work on getting physically higher off the ground.  My mind was certainly at the right height though.    

How could you not be on a natural high when you are surrounded by scenery like this!  We could see Holy Cross Mountain, Banded Peak and Mt. Head plus other ranges off in the distance.

Today's adventure took a full six hours with the last few kilometers finding us scurrying, bushwhacking, slipping and sliding to make sure we were out into the clear before the sun set.  Every one delivered today, us, Adventure Designer and even Mother Nature.  In this part of Kananaskis, the mountains are not the highest but that didn't make any different because I felt like I was "on top of the world!"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Revisit to Rawson

I can't let a season go by without a visit to Rawson Lake! Along with each season comes a different mode used for our movement. Although the trail was packed pretty firm and we could have conquered it wearing hikers or icers, today we went with snowshoes. That's what winter is all about anyway! Rawson is not the most challenging trek out there but it felt like loads of work for me which tells me I am not quite up to snuff on my fitness yet.

My last vist there was in September, just a mere four months prior. I thought it looked pretty spectacular that day! Wouldn't you agree?

In my opinion, I thought it looked quite amazing today! This is what I love about living in Western Canada. Spring and autumn can bring totally different looks then these. One place! Four looks! These are just two!

Every now and then, I took a detour off the beaten trail to feel the deep, soft, spongy snow. I tried to get others to follow but they were reluctant. Near the end I did convince a few to live on the edge with me. I hardly ever keep my eyes on the trail in front because you never know what you might see and I don't want to miss a thing. Sometimes it is the scenery peaking through the trees and other times it could be something lurking in the bushes. If you let your imagination run wild, you can spot some sights. I see what others don't! One of my buddies said its like in that movie The Sixth Sense where the character says "I see dead people!" Well, I saw a horse today!

On the return trip, with about 500 meters to go, we meandered off trail and followed the shoreline back to the trailhead. I'm glad the others came with me because we got to share in watching this fellow whiz across the frozen Upper Kananaskis Lake. I would love to try this one day!

This snowshoe trek was a short and sweet one and we had enough time to go for drinks and snacks afterwards to celebrate before driving back to the city! We had sunshine, no wind, the temperature hoovered around -3 Celsius which all contributed to what I forecasted to be a fun and fabulous day!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Amazing Race

It was an "amazing race" because it was an amazing time! In a fun way the time was, not in a speedy way. For a few years now I have wanted to try one of the Calgary Roadrunners cross-country races and it finally happened today! Thank you to Karen who is a member of the Calgary RoadRunners for keeping me posted on the events and sending along invitations.

This is where the race started which is near the corner of Beddington Blvd and Beddington Trail. How fitting my first X-C race begins at a birth place, because I see today's event being the birth of a new found interest.

I got there early so I could register and then check out a portion of the route to see what I was in far. We were in wide open spaces with no protection from the chinook winds. See the Chinook sky behind me? Chinook winds are suppose to be warm but they sure didn't feel that way.

I felt intimidated looking around me at the start line seeing the gear on some folks and the footwear too. I realized I should be near the back of the pack, so back I went. I was thankful I wore my Spikys. We ran through snow, slush, over ice, up slippery hills and down the other side. It was a true cross country! I didn't need to be as far back in the pack as I thought because I was able to pass numerous others along the route. I learned not to necessarily follow the fellow in front of me. I wanted it to be as true cross country as it could be and I did cross over one creek but missed the second one. The fellow I followed preferred the bridge route instead of the creek route. I will know better the next time!  Thank you to Dawn Henry and The Calgary RoadRunners for getting a shot of me in action.

It was hillier than I expected and I had to walk up a couple of the bigger ones. I am sure once I am back on track with my running and snowshoeing then the hills will be a breeze.

The options for today's race were 4km or 8km. I picked the 4km as my ice breaker. My 305 measured a distance of 3.79km and it took me 30:49 to cover that distance. I'm not surprised at the slower pace, you would understand if you saw the route and the trail conditions. My average speed was 8:07 min/km and my best speed was 4:31 min/km. I know where that occurred! I'm not sure of my finish placement but that should be posted soon.

It felt so right to be running cross country! It felt like home!

Nose Creek X-C

High Noon today!

Stayed Tuned!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Happy Award

On Thursday I was presented with the Happy Award from my friend Raw Hiker aka "Ms D No Stopping Me"! Thank you, it could not have come at a more appropriate time!

As a recipient, I am now suppose to list 10 things that make me happy. While my list could go on forever, I will share things that are have worked their way to top of the list. Hold on, here goes:
  1. when the stars align for me
  2. my morning coffee
  3. anticipation
  4. sunshine on my face
  5. crossing the finish line of a race
  6. getting a great deal on sporting equipment
  7. a good night sleep
  8. when my photos turn out amazingly
  9. summiting
  10. Fridays that are payday and sunny
My next duty as a recipient of this award is present it to someone else. The official rule is to choose 10 worthy people but I will bend the rules and choose a blogger friend in another part of the world who I think would probably have a lengthy list too to choose from.

And the winner is: Fit and Fabulous after Forty.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Two "Rs"

I put my money down on the Calgary Police Half Marathon so I am officially entered.  Now to put a plan of attack into place to train for the race.  One of my New Year's resolutions is to run with others.  The majority of my training over the last couple of years has been solo running.   My plan of attack will include being social.

My new book arrived!  Another New Year's resolution is to read more.  Folks share their adventures of living on the edge, via short story style.  Be sure to come back later to check out my book report.

Happy Running! Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thoughts of Running

This morning the thoughts of running turned to reality! I have been feeling down about not running. I felt lazy, didn't want to go out in the dark and cold, that's about it for why I have not been running. I felt something was missing in my life and I knew it was the lack of running but I just couldn't get myself out the door.

I have been thinking about it lots lately and this morning I finally bit the bullet and went out in the cold and the dark and got the job done. It was slow! It was short! But nevertheless it was! I racked up 5.12 km in 36:07 which is one of my slowest paces ever at 7:03 min/km. It's a start!

I have decided on a few races that I would like to do this year and listed them to the left here. I have a lot of work to do but I know I can do it! Missing from the list is a full marathon. After running the Calgary Marathon last May I was positive I would do another one. I changed my mind and that is my prerogative! I just feel lazy about committing the time and energy.

I found a fun way to keep track of the ground I will cover this year. Between my 60CSX and my Forerunner 305, I'll be able to keep tabs of all my kilometers. Here's my chart so far!

So far I'm off to a good start and I hope I can keep up the momentum!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Skate Capades

Time to mix it up a bit and stretch some different muscles yet not overdue it with the cardio.   I put on my own capades today.  With a few little dips here and a twirl or two there, I etched out quite a sketch on the ice canvas.  I get dizzy looking at this!
I came prepared with my camera, warm cloths, newly sharpened skates and my IPod full of fun tunes my favourite being the Black Eyed Peas song I Gotta Feeling.   I would love to be a part of a mob dance one day.  My preference is to arrive on the early side at the Bowness Lagoon skating pond so I have a smooth clear canvas to work on. 
Me, along with about six to eight others skated in sunshine, warmer then expected temperatures with no wind.  The area is so large, it still felt like I had the place to myself.  The water man was completing his run around the pond and a few times I veered to the sides to let him go by.  During one veer, this caught my eye!  Yes, it was a large, sunny day!  Also, I have been told in the past that I have long legs, I guess I still do!
After one hour and eleven minutes, I covered 10.5 kilometers.  That has to account for something.  Although I don't feel it in my legs right now, I am sure I will tomorrow when I try to run for the first time in many, many weeks.   With my sketch finished , I sat by the fire, not because I was cold, but just because it was there.
Just like a hot chicken soup, or a chunky stew, the crackling fire was comfort for the heart and soul.  I let it warm my insides before heading home feeling proud of myself for finding my confidence again on blades!  I think I will have to add skating to my collection of fun activities for this winter.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Short New Beginning

I was determined to start 2010 off on the right foot!  Well, in a way I did but it was the left foot that started first.  The forecast for Canmore was 10 degrees warmer than Calgary so I knew it could be a good day.  I was a little nervous about hiking by myself but was told the Grassi Lakes Trail would be a fine one to be on your own on.  I wasn't nervous about bears but scared of cougars.  They show up every now and then in the Canmore area.  I kept looking over my shoulder but a lot of good that would do if a cougar was stalking me.  It all turned out fine, in fact, it was a great day!  The Grassi Lakes are so pretty!  Who would have thought there would be lakes not frozen at this time of year in this neck of the woods.

Portions were frozen and that created quite the effect as you can see.  I'm really pleased with the quality of photos from my 9000.  I didn't play with macros or panoramas today but did lots of close ups.  

I picked this hike because of its shortness, about 4.5km round trip with minimum elevation. This is all I can handle right now.  What it lacked in quantity, it made up for in quality.  I liked that it was lacking in people while I was there.  I met a herd of folks coming in as I was coming out.  The scenery was amazing too.  The mountains seemed so close.  I had many great views of Ha Ling Peak.  My friend Scrambled Legs is up there today!  No, not in the plane, he is bagging the Peak!

Portions of the so called "strenuous trail" were iced over so I had to maneuver around that.  I was thankful for my icers today.  At times I thought I was being stupid attempting some of the areas by myself but I took extra caution with foot placement and kept at a careful slow pace.  You can see how icy it was in areas.  I was expecting to see ice climbers but they must have had great New Years celebrations into the wee hours.

The hike only took two hours which was perfect for today.  I had my lunch with me so found a picnic table in the sunshine facing the Three Sisters and enjoyed my hot chocolate, sandwich, mandarin orange and chocolates.  This was my way of ringing in the New Year!