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Canmore Quad with Liz

This was my 4th Quad - nuts, I know. With the new Ha Ling trail, it’s a touch longer than before at around 58km, with close to 5000m vertical. Liz did a stellar job finishing in just over 12 hours. Of all my quads, this one felt easy, probably because I wasn’t pushing for a fast time, and boy, was the weather fantastic!! Enjoy the photos below!

Lady Mac ridge

Lady Mac ridge

Grotto

Grotto

East End of Rundle

East End of Rundle

Ha Ling summit

Ha Ling summit

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Running & Knee Arthritis

From my Crag & Canyon Newspaper Column

Hey Doc, will running wear out my knees?

As a sport medicine doc in the Bow Valley, I see a lot of knees! I haven’t looked at the numbers lately, but I would guess that around 50% of my patients on a daily basis have some sort of knee problem. A lot of the knees that I see in clinic are acute injuries - caused by twists, slips and skiing mishaps - meniscal tears, ACL ruptures, MCL strains and the like, but I also see a lot of atraumatic knee problems - pain that comes on more gradually, and without any obvious injury. Sometimes these are overuse type problems - tendinitis, for example - caused by doing repetitive activities before your tendons and soft tissues can handle it. These tendon problems are often caused by training errors - doing too much too soon; a lot of my patients with atraumatic knee pain, however, will have have osteoarthritis, a completely different issue.

Osteoarthritis in the knee occurs when the smooth articular cartilage lining the ends of our femur and tibia bones, begins to deteriorate, causing pain, swelling and stiffness, especially during and after strenuous weight bearing activity. If you’ve had an injury to your knee in the past, or are overweight, then you would be considered at increased risk for the development of osteoarthritis. There is also a genetic component, and some people just seem to have cartilage that is more prone to wear out at a younger age. 

A question I get all the time is whether running is bad for the knees, and whether the presence of osteoarthritis means I shouldn’t run. It’s a great question, and there’s nothing I like more than to talk about running! Fortunately, experts have done a pretty good job of getting to the bottom of this question!

Firstly, there is really no good evidence that running will ‘wear out’ your knee cartilage in the first place. Studies of recreational runners, in fact, have found that running may well be protective, and sedentary individuals were actually at higher risk of developing arthritis. I recently read a study showing that when non-runners begin a running program, their cartilage thickness initially did decrease, but if they keep up their running, by one year they had thicker cartilage than they started with, as measured by MRI! If you do bicep curls, you’ll get big muscles, if you run, it seems you’ll develop more resilient knee cartilage. There is definitely a misconception out there that cartilage is inert, and slowly wears out over time, but you have to remember that it is a living structure, that can adapt and respond to the stresses it experiences.

If you already have established knee osteoarthritis, then the news isn’t all bad either, as studies again have failed to show that moderate joint loading, such as occurs with jogging and walking, does not lead to deterioration in articular cartilage thickness. That doesn’t mean to say that you should throw caution to the wind and sprint down Ha Ling, but it should give those of you with mild arthritis in your knees some reassurance that recreational running is unlikely to do your knee any harm, and may in fact help preserve your knees.

If you are new to running, have a strong family history of knee arthritis, or are overweight, then start slowly and very gradually increase your running volume over several months; and if your knee doesn’t seem to tolerate running, have a chat with your doctor or physiotherapist, as there are lots of interventions that can be helpful.

See you on the trails!

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Dirtbag runners looking after their knee cartilage!

Gravel…..

A new activity to spare the knees and get to the trailhead, more importantly.

Kona Rove with custom B&S frame bag.

Kona Rove with custom B&S frame bag.

STRENGTH IS KING! (Crag & Canyon column #2)

EXERCISE FOR LONGEVITY & HEALTHSPAN. WHAT’S BEST?




In my last article, I discussed the benefits of regular exercise, and why moving more should be a priority for all of us. As many of you will know, I’m an avid runner, but I’m also the first to acknowledge that for many of my patients I see in clinic, running may not be the best activity for them, and may not be the first choice for many of you reading this. Strange though it seems to me, running doesn’t make everyone tick. Here are some basic guidelines, and some facts that you may find surprising.




All adults should aim for 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week. Broken down that’s basically half an hour on 5 days of the week. You may also be surprised to hear that the benefits are not lost when those 30 minutes per day are broken down further into 10 minute bouts. It’s my strong belief that even the most time-crunched type A workaholic can find 10 minutes here and there throughout the day, to get a little sweaty, to get a little breathless. Brisk walking, an easy jog, riding your bike, hiking, swimming, tennis, XC skiing, snowshoeing are all great options. 

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In terms of intensity, you need to get a slight sweat going, and you need to struggle to complete full sentences, but it doesn’t have to be an all out sprint! Some people need to build up to this, and of course, make sure you’ve checked in with your family doc to ensure your heart and lungs are up to it if you’re completely new to exercise. If you’re a total novice start with 2-3 times per week, and build up. And for goodness sake, find something that’s enjoyable! This is supposed to be fun, and should leave you feeling invigorated and looking forward to the next session.




In addition to your aerobic activities, I recommend twice weekly resistance exercise. By that, I mean lifting weights, whether that be free weights, or body weight exercises (pushups, pullups, sit ups). The wellness industry has for decades promoted the benefits of cardiovascular exercise for health, but recently, increasing data suggests that if you want to live longer, strength is king! This is somewhat of a paradigm shift for most of us! 




A Hawaiian study with 44 year follow up, showed that for middle age adults, those in the highest 30% for cardiovascular fitness, were only about 10% more likely to live to the age of 100 years. Of those middle age adults, if they were in the highest 30% for strength (as measured by leg and grip strength) then, incredibly, they were 250% more likely to live to see 100 years. These numbers are mind-blowing and several subsequent studies have confirmed the findings; the results appear to be accurate. 

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So, it seems that improved cardiovascular fitness reduces the risk of cancers and Alzheimer’s disease, but doesn’t increase lifespan, whereas strength training gives you longevity. The best recipe - include a bit of both as described above. If you’re going to the gym, aim to lift heavy, as that will promote big gains in strength; and of course, be sure to get some advice if you are new to lifting.



On that note, I’m off to hit the gym for a few deadlifts and squats; I’m not all run, run, run…..

EXERCISE IS MEDICINE (My Crag & Canyon column #1)

EXERCISE IS MEDICINE (My Crag & Canyon column #1)

My name is Dr Andy Reed, and I am a sport and exercise medicine specialist working in Banff & Canmore. This is the first of hopefully many columns I will be writing for the Crag & Canyon on the topic of sport & exercise medicine! Hopefully you will find these articles informative, interesting and motivating. After all, exercise is medicine!



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The health benefits of regular physical activity are really almost too numerous to discuss in a lot of detail, but we have proven beyond doubt that regular exercise can not only help you to look and feel younger, but can extend your life span and your healthy or disease-free life span. 




All-cause mortality (ie dying from anything - accidents or illness) is reduced for adults of all ages. We know that heart disease and stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure, are all less common in regular exercisers, and if you are already affected by one of these conditions, you can improve the outlook, and in some cases completely ‘cure’ or reverse your condition.




Many cancers have been shown to occur less frequently in those who exercise regularly, including breast, colon, kidney, bladder, stomach and lung cancer. Of course, other lifestyle factors may contribute, such as smoking, but exercise is a big part of living a long, healthful and vigorous life, and if regular physical activity becomes part of your routine, then you’re less likely to want to smoke, more likely to consume alcohol in moderation, and less likely to consume fast food, all of which contribute to a disease free existence.




In older adults, especially frail older adults, we see a reduced risk of Alzheimers dementia, and better brain function overall (cognition), as well as less risk of falling and suffering a hip or other fracture. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, regular physical activity can dramatically improve your symptoms, improve your sleep quality, and decrease the need for medications to treat these conditions.




Regular exercise makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight, and even if you don’t lose weight when you begin to hit the gym or the trails, you are improving many of your health outcomes, regardless of what happens on the bathroom scales.

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Many of us in the sport and exercise medicine world now regard questions about your exercise routines as important as checking your oxygen saturations, your blood pressure or heart rate. It’s the new vital sign, and physicians and other health care providers are hopefully asking you about the amount of time you spend on physical activity. If you are living in the Bow Valley, then you really are living in paradise, and the possibilities to get outside and be active are endless! I really hope you’re making the most of it.




In my next column, we’ll discuss how much and what type of exercise is best.

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Other Non-Racing 2018 adventures!

Aside from racing which is really what makes me tick at the moment, we've had a few stellar mountain adventures this year. A few pics below with comments.

 

Dirtbagrunners Bow Valley continues to be a regular Thursday night fixture.

Dirtbagrunners Bow Valley continues to be a regular Thursday night fixture.

My mum and dad were over to visit - took my dad up onto the Old Goat glacier

My mum and dad were over to visit - took my dad up onto the Old Goat glacier

With Martine & Saira on Big Sister

With Martine & Saira on Big Sister

Ski touring on the Icefields Parkway with Emily & James

Ski touring on the Icefields Parkway with Emily & James

Ripping down from Yamnuska - with Devon Featherstone

Ripping down from Yamnuska - with Devon Featherstone

On Northover Ridge with Gary McGough #garysfirsttime

On Northover Ridge with Gary McGough #garysfirsttime

Crewing for Gary at Sinister 7, his first 100 miler. Almost as tiring, and definitely a rewarding experience to see him dig deep through the lows.

Crewing for Gary at Sinister 7, his first 100 miler. Almost as tiring, and definitely a rewarding experience to see him dig deep through the lows.

A quick trip to Red Rocks for some climbing at Spring Break. Stayed in Trump Tower!

A quick trip to Red Rocks for some climbing at Spring Break. Stayed in Trump Tower!

….and now it’s snowing again so ski season isn’t far off!

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Dirtbag Runners

What an inspiring crowd. Every Thursday join us at 6pm in Canmore for an hour long workout, typically an interval or fartlek style session. All abilities are welcome and it’s very sociable! Check out plans on Wednesday evenings on Facebook. Just search up Dirtbag Runners Bow Valley and join the group!

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ALL KINDS OF RACING 2018

Well in true form I’ve been completely tardy in keeping the site updated. I pay squarespace every year to keep this thing up and running, so I guess I should probably post an update once in a while!

In many ways 2018 has been my best year of racing to date. Thinking back, I haven’t had a bad race. The year started well with a great block of training leading into Black Canyons. It’s a Western States golden ticket race, so attracts some top competition. I thoroughly surprised myself by sneaking into 9th place, on a course that I didn’t think suited my style of running. I think of myself perhaps as more of a mountain runner. I lack the top end speed and leg turnover that seems to excel in fast runnable races such as Black Canyons. I trained specifically with more long 30km runs on flatter terrain (Spray road out & backs), and that likely paid dividends. On race day I felt prepared and strong and sneaking into the top 10 was a bit of a surprise. I had a beer mid race which seemed to help!

Next up was Yakima 50km. This was my second go round at Yakima. I was 4th here in 2017, finishing behind a couple of top runners in Jeff Browning and Jeremy Wolfe. I hit the last climb in 2nd but faltered a bit on the long ascent, getting past twice and finishing in 4th overall. It’s a great event, my favorite of the year, and I was determined not to finish 4th again (it’s become a bit of a joke that I always finish 4th ie just off the podium, in a lot of races!). This year I hit the turn around in about 7th or 8th place and quickly moved up into second place. I held second behind Mike Wolfe into the last climb. Feeling like I was running well, I was surprised to get caught and overtaken on that last long climb, but determined not to be 4th again, I held on for the 3rd place finish. I looked at my watch as I crossed the line, for the first time, expecting I’d be at least 5 mins faster than 2017, but laughed when I saw I’d beaten the previous years’ time by a mere 40 seconds. Overall, I paced a bit better, with more gas in the tank for that last brutal climb. We had a stellar Canmore crew down there racing and cheering, and it looks like 2019 will be no different!

After Yakima, it was off to Squaw Valley, California. I was pacing Devon Featherstone at Western States, so decided to jump into the Broken Arrow Sky Race 52km race the weekend before Statesmas. My good buddy Ethan Veneklassen, who crewed for me in 2016 at States is the Race Director, and he puts on a top notch event. There’s a VK as well as a 23km option in addition to the ultra distance. ….and boy is this race stacked. A lot of big name talent lines up on the start of this one, so I had no lofty goals at all, expecting top 20 would be a decent effort. So as I hit the final descent in 6th ahead of Mike Foote, Jorge Maravilla, Mike Versteeg, I was on cloud nine. I came in just behind Megan Kimmel to take 6th in the men’s field and 7th overall, possibly my best result ever.

Western States as usual was a total spectacle. Devon suffered in the heat but hung on strong for a comfortable sub 24 hour finish, despite the heat, with temperatures of 43C at the American River crossing at mile 78 early in the day. Jim Walmsley finally nailed his 100 mile race taking down the course record in an incredible show of strength and determination.

I took a break from racing in July, and prepped for the Canadian Death race in early August. At 125km it has a big reputation. I ran well, and got another third place behind young talent Jayden Dalke and Alex Petroski - a multiple winner of Sinister 7. It was quite the showdown. Jayden had trained on the course and ran intelligently, pacing himself well and finishing with about a 12 minute lead. Alex and I duked it out all day, and we in the same boat at the 100km river crossing. Alex was feeling good and was off to hunt down Jayden over the final miles. I was in a bit of a lull, so said goodbye and watched him run off to catch Jayden. I mustered all I had and jogged it in, until I caught alex on the final climb about 1km from the finish. I think we exchanged positions 4 or 5 times in the last few metres, but Alex was able to dig a little deeper and find a little more leg speed in the final 100m. He beat me by 12 seconds. I thoroughly emptied the tank on that one, and despite finishing around 9:30pm, I was unable to get up off the ground until 2am. Completely spent, I don’t think I’ve been such a mess at the end of an ultra, although my wife may disagree!

2 weeks later and I lined up at the start of TranSelkirks. It’s a second year event, put on by the Transrockies crew. It’s a 5 day trail race, covering 100 miles and 10,000m of climbing, based out of Revelstoke. Aside from a short section of day 1, these were all new trails to me. I raced with my great friend Emily Compton in the Open Mixed category, and we had a lot of fun in winning the overall, and taking each stage outright. Winning never gets old! What a stellar event. I cannot speak highly enough about this one. Amy and Jacob have put together a world class event, on world class trails.

 

 

I finished TranSelkirks feeling as strong and as fit as I’ve ever been, which was where I wanted to be heading into my A race for the year IMTUF 100. More of that in a bit!

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Yakima up next!

It's almost Yakima time! One of my favourites from last year. Training has been solid, though the snow is lingering on our trails. I've put a few nice tough hilly runs together though over the last month since Black Canyons, changing from runnable 'dirt road' terrain to more hands on knees, grunts! Specificity is key. Last week in Red Rocks was a welcome respite from the cold and snow, and the feeling of running quickly on dirt in the heat was refreshing and very welcome. Fingers crossed for Yakima! I'm excited to race against Mike Wolfe and Yassine Diboun!

 

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Black Canyons ultra 100km

It's rare for it all to go to plan on race day, and in all honesty this race was simply an early season long run, and a WS100 qualifier which I needed after my Chimera debacle and DNF. I had no expectations going in - maybe that's the key. No pressure, no real idea about how I would stack up against a strong field. I didn't know the course, and I prefer tougher, more mountainous and technical grunts! Runnable courses tend not to suit me. I'm not fast, and our local terrain isn't always conducive to training for runnable and flatter courses.

But I ran strong all day. I paced well. I used Stryd to keep the effort in cheque in the early miles. Fueling was great - water, Vitargo and GU octane. 1 red bull late on. No solid fuel. No gut issues. 1 beer at mile 40 or so to top up the carbs, haha - PBR of course.

I surprised myself with 9th place, and 1st master in North America's biggest 100km field, and a competitive field at that! It's been a while since I felt like I put together a damned good race effort, but this was it! Now if only I could reproduce this every time.

Liz Halleran and I were interviewed on the Ramblings from the Rockies podcast here (https://skiuphill.ca/blogs/news/podcast-ramblings-from-the-rockies-episode-1) - we talk, amongst other ramblings (!!) about Black Canyons and running around Canmore. Enjoy!

The early miles involved a lot of descending

The early miles involved a lot of descending

Really happy with my race and top 10 finish

Really happy with my race and top 10 finish

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Skiing 2018

Ski season is full on with a few really great trips already in the bag. I even dabbled with some skimo racing, which I have to say is the best way to get a 2 hour balls-to-the-wall workout!

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Frosty Faces

Dirtbag Runners Bow Valley goes from strength to strength. And arctic temperatures don’t seem to put folks off....a few recent photos.  

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Mt Rae

I haven't really explored the Highwood area a lot, but it looks to have a whole host of gems, and hopefully I can get back here this year before the winter snows really fly. Yesterday Saira and I extended our gentle hike up to Ptarmigan Cirque, reaching 9800ft on Mt Rae via an unexpected little scramble! Quite a bit of snow up high put paid to a summit attempt - no micro-spikes or poles! Definitely one to get back to to settle unfinished business. 

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Sinister 7 - from the sublime to the ridiculous

I’ll try to keep this one short. For starters it happened an eternity ago. There’s no such thing as an easy hundred miler, and this summer’s choice of races proves that point. What the hell was I thinking signing up for 2 of these brutes, especially as S7 cones a mere 3 short weeks after Bighorn. Bighorn was a suffer fest of mud and rain - my slowest finish yet; time to redeem myself and nail this distance, I thought as I accepted Stoked Oats’ generous offer to race as their guy.

Here’s what goes down.

HEAT: I’ve run Western States but this was brutal. Somehow the brain is psyched and prepped to be fried in the canyons of the American River. I’m not ready for the heat of Crowsnest Pass. Should’ve been in the sauna more, and should have treated the conditions with more respect. I don’t drink enough early on, and you know how that goes...schoolboy errors.

PACING:  Evertone knows this. It’s all too easy to go out full gas at the start of 100 miles. I should know better. This was no. 7. I’m a veteran, no? There was a lot of big talk from runners who shall remain nameless as to who was going to do what to such and such a course record. Unfortunately what you plan to do and want to do, don’t always come to fruition. I have my own goals, but I’ll keep them to myself pre-race. I was hoping to step on the podium, to run strong in the second half and finally break the curse - jeez, how many times have I finished 4th or 5th now - just missing out on a podium spot in a 100 mile race - it’s getting a bit silly, really! Mmmm, poor fuelling early on, and a pace a bit too fast a bit too soon after Bighorn...you live and learn. Good bye podium finish.

HALLUCINATIONS OR NOT:  70 miles in I come into an aid station - ridiculously dry, nauseated but thirsty, lightheaded and woozy, I lay down for a few minutes. I try to chug down some lemonade - it looks good but tastes barf-worthy (is that a word?); still it’s better than the lukewarm water on offer everywhere else. I sip a bit, lay down with my feet up - trying not to pass out. Yup, definitely dehydrated and low on BP - I need to get moving otherwise I’m done, and what will the crew chief say; so I stand, stagger and shuffle my way down the trail. A minute later I dash into the bushes and empty the guts. A brief reprieve from the nausea but wow, that’s not good. Woozy as anything I lift my head ....... a clown stares down at me. “Yard Sale” is emblazoned across a sign he is holding. A full sized circus clown with a yard sale. Good grief I’m hallucinating.....that’s a first - I chuckle and stagger off down the trail wondering if it’s time to pull the plug.

THE TALK: Donato has paced and crewed me before. Saira - aka Crew Chief - knows the scoop in 100 mile racing. Wise words like “you need to HTFU” have been whispered in my ear at Leadville. “You are not gonna teach your kids it’s OK to quit” - she knows how to get me moving. Unless there’s a bone poking out, there’s no way to quit on her watch. After a miserable 20 minutes at TA5, during which time I attempt to eat a donut (spitting it out of my bone dry saliva-free mouth after an eternity of chewing), consider drinking a Radler beer (I should have) and then drink everyone’s coffee from Timmies (man, I love coffee), Donato in his infinite wisdom informs me that the pain of dropping will be with me for a long time, and that another 5 or 6 hours on the trail won’t be that bad. Crew chief tells me I can’t quit.  Hell you have enough time to walk every step to the finish. OK man I’m off. With a renewed vigor (short lived) I head out.

SLEEPY HOLLOW: Stage 6 sucks. It sucks bad. It is steep and loose and never ending. I’m dehydrated and hypoglycemic. An aid station materializes in the darkness. There’s a comfy looking thermarest over there with some kid asleep on it. He grumbles as the Aid Station captain drags him off to make room for me and I sleep. Timmies obviously doesn’t have much caffeine in it I think as I drop off. First time ever in a race - I’m sleeping -  that’s another first. I startle after 30 mins. Time to move on - dropping here means a long descent back to TA5. Much easier to pop over the pass and drop at the next aid there I’m informed. Mike Hamilton passes me looking strong. I no longer care about placing (funny how the goalposts are always moving). I plod on - so much for the ‘power-hike’ - ha. 

RECOVERY and CLOWNS AGAIN: The recovery comes. It always does. I’ve learnt this much. Slowly at first, creeping up on me like that creepy clown in the bush. For me it’s always the same. It seeps into my legs and belly, almost unexpectedly. I’m thirsty. I’m hungry. Man, that gel was good. Vitargo tastes great. I love running hundreds. I gotta catch those lights ahead. The night is still and I am enjoying this dark vista. I crest the pass then down, down, down, it seems to fly by. Quads are good, I’m running. I can switch off from the pain in my feet. Oh - look, it’s the clown again. He’s pretty creepy at this ungodly hour, but he’s real. I chuckle again, and keep chugging along. 

I FINISH: the finish arrives, sweet as always. I feel like I’m flying down the final stretch of pavement - Strava disagrees. RD Brian and my crew cheer me in. I stop running and that’s it. Another one in the bag. I always find it’s a bit of an anticlimax - except the States finish of course. I sit, grin, and chat to my supporters. The sun is coming up - it’s going to be hot; glad I’m done I muse. The buckle is sweet and bigger than the Leadville Sub 24 buckle. The bottle of Red is a nice touch with my name and time on the label - I’ll enjoy drinking that tomorrow. Man, that was tough, I hate hundreds; still the record is intact, 7 finishes, all sub 24, no podiums - 4th or 5th again I think...wonder which one I’ll do next......

Early miles - too fast! 

Early miles - too fast! 

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Starting leg 4. Baking. 

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Donato pep talk - start leg 6 - feeling good, but it didn’t last! 

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Bighorn 100 - World's Toughest Mudder?

Two words sum up the Bighorn 100 2017 edition. 

Mud

Lots of it. 

Heavy and sticky mud - that clay-like mud that quadruples the weight on the end of your already hard to lift legs. Slippery mud - like ice - that made me thankful I can ski, and thankful that I run on snow and ice for half the year. Mud that started about 5 hours in, and only abated with 5 or 6 miles to go.

Rain

Not just drizzle.

Not spring showers.

Heavy, torrential sideways rain.

Soaked to the core almost immediately.

I was dry and warm at the welcoming Footbridge Aid station 30 miles in. Spirits high, feeling strong in the top 10, but maybe I’ll grab another jacket, you know, just in case. Truth be told, Saira forced some extra clothing on me. The skies look grey, so maybe throw in a buff and some gloves too. Best decision ever. Best crew ever.

I ran well, but 18 hours of soaked skin and macerated toes wears thin. Grabbing trees, and grass for traction it became an exercise in willpower. How bad do I really want this? My crew were stalwarts though; never a doubt.

“Sit down…change your shirt.” 

Warm dry jackets and fresh gloves. At Jaws, almost 10,000ft, the rain and wind were intense. Just above zero degrees C, it was freezing, icy rain. I changed, ate and drank then jumped back into the maelstrom outside, quick to get moving lest I change my mind.

Getting up there was a challenge, getting back down was, well, laughable. You could call it running, but it didn’t look much like anything resembling a run.

Slip, slide, curse, fall. Repeat.

Look for some grass, look for traction. Wish I had poles! 

The moods of those I passed after the turnaround were at two ends of a spectrum. Joanna Ford looked happy and strong a few kilometres down the trail, but most were in a battle to keep moving. Many were unprepared, with next to no protection from the elements. One fellow grunted “You’ve gotta be kidding, this is a joke right” as I slithered down a steep pitch and grabbed a tree before I slid into him. 

It got dark on the way down from Jaws. I don’t remember much more of the descent once daylight faded, encased in my own hooded little world, alone with my thoughts, a small circle of light my only point of reference. I remember I laughed though. Either that or cry, it was becoming an ordeal!

Soon, I’m back at the Footbridge. Saira is there; the experienced crew chief, she knows me too well.

“Get this broth down….here, an egg mcmuffin.”

Never a question I would finish this one. There was no doubt. Emily paced from mile 66. A bad spell for me, I felt sorry for her; this was supposed to be a jaunt through some beautiful country! Instead she had a miserable partner, huffing and deep breathing, fighting the urge to vomit, trying to keep the legs moving. Climbing the wall, nauseated and fatigued, it was hard to remain positive.

Emily: “How you doing back there?” 

Me: “Good……ish” I lied; more like bloody awful, but who wants a pity party.

Emily: “See that light up ahead - next aid station - only a few hundred metres.” She lied too.

Moving slowly but steadily, we ran into pre-race favourite Bob Shebest. He looked bad. Shivering and shaking in a tiny tent at the side of the trail, he had half the clothes I had. The small electric heater in that tent made for a haven that was hard to leave. Bob dropped ultimately, the warmth of that tent proving too much it seemed.

The temptation to stay there was…… "Let’s get going again” said Emily, so we did. Back into the dark and rain, growing tired of this now. Without a pacer, I’d have struggled mightily to get back out. I owe you Compton.

At Dry Fork aid, Ruchel joined. After the monstrous climb with Emily, I was starting to feel good again. Strange how that happens. Roch Horton famously said "It doesn't always get worse" and he was right. Food was going down. Vitargo was tasting good again, and even a vanilla gel slid down easily. And it was getting light, lifting my spirits further. A quick coffee, maybe three, and some broth, then time to get ‘er done. It was still pissing down though.

Grabbing poles I knew I was in for one hell of a descent - Ruchel can descend with the best - but first, more climbing. And now I was running again. 85 miles in and I was running the ups. That doesn’t happen very often, I mused. Then soon we were dropping. The final descent - a brute - 4000 feet - steep and slippery, enough to finish off a few toenails. It felt fast, really fast - the third fastest split of the day (strava disagrees about the ‘fast’ part, I’ll add, but a good split nevertheless). Ruchel looked to be having a blast, no doubt glad to be moving after a long day and night of crewing in miserable conditions.

(CREW=Cranky Runner, Endless Waiting).

Ruchel's mood was contagious - it always is; and I think I may have managed a grin. Ankles and toes now blackened and bruised. Heels rubbed raw, but the finish was within reach. It was still raining, but easing a bit. One final steep drop on rocky single track, and onto the gravel of the Sheep River Canyon Road. Time to bring this one home.

The final 4 miles of road are a sting in the tail. Quads now trashed, and energy sapped. “I wish it would stop fucking raining..” More climbs, in reality small speed bumps. I’m overheating now, all these clothes on. It’s warm down here, and I suspect the weather is looking brighter.

The final turns through town. Half a mile to the finish….

The clouds part, the sky turns blue, and the sun comes out. 

“You really have got to be kidding”

The crew on route to Wyoming

The crew on route to Wyoming

 

 

***I’m proud of this one. Only 47% of the field finished. 18 hours of torrential rain. I placed 7th, in 23h 03m, my slowest 100 miles yet, but one I’m really proud of. The lead four guys ran it in together, having lost the desire to push and race. This one hammered home the importance of a crew and pacers. There’s no doubt I wouldn’t have finished without them. Huge thanks to my awesome all girl crew - Saira, Emily, Ruchel.

 

Pack more stuff than you think you'll need - one day it will pay off

Pack more stuff than you think you'll need - one day it will pay off

Dry fork outbound - still dry

Dry fork outbound - still dry

Emily coaxing me in the final miles

Emily coaxing me in the final miles

BVGT+1

BVGT+1

I did

I did

Master's podium - second to Paul Terranova

Master's podium - second to Paul Terranova

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Stuff I like right now

A few things I'm enjoying currently. 

If you haven't listened to Tim Ferriss' podcast, or checked out his newsletter, I can recommend a look. I don't like all of his stuff (definitely some 'woo' in there), but his Friday newsletter is good. He posts a few things he's enjoying every Friday - from tech gadgets, to music, to books and quotes. This is my early 2017 version.

 Best Gadget: Stryd footpod - www.stryd.com - running with Power - basing my interval sessions on wattage rather than HR or RPE seems to help me keep the intensity dialed in a bit better.

Books: Listening to "The Mindful Athlete" by Mumford and Jackson. Not my usual genre, but interesting, and despite being a bit 'touchy feely' the discussion of 'Flow' state is good. I'm also listening to "Bowerman and the Men of Oregon" on Audible, and it's a great long listen if you're into that sort of thing. For fiction, I'm just getting into "End of Watch" by Stephen King - the final part of the Mr Mercedes trilogy. Narrated by Will Patton on audible, this trilogy is a classic. 

Podcast: Liking "The Forward"; this is Lance Armstrong's podcast. Good guests, and I like his interview style - didn't think I'd like it, but it's entertaining. I liked the recent Malcolm Gladwell episode a lot - lots of football talk. The Michael Morton episode is absolutely riveting.

Apps: Workflow on iOS. A great way to automate a few multi-step tasks. If I see a tweet linking to an article I wan't to read later, a quick tap will send the link into Omnifocus (the mother of all task managers); I can convert any article, webpage, or photo into a PDF document and save to Dropbox, creating a link that is saved to the clipboard. I can immediately post to IG the last pic taken. These are just a few examples of time saving workflows. The app is $3.99 on the App Store I think.

Gear: I have some Compressport tights (full length and 3/4 ) on order - they look great - review later. Other than that, the Salomon Agile 250 belt is a snug little belt, big enough to hold the monstrous iPhone 7+, and a thin jacket/gloves.  I'm using it for most <2 hr runs, when the weather looks stable.

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March Madness

March started off with some fairly darned stellar running conditions. The trails were dry and the school track was even starting to look half usable. Volume has been increasing steadily and I've been trying to lengthen the interval sessions to get in some 15-20 minute tempo sets. The theory of reverse periodisation would stress increasing specificity as race season approaches, so that's what I've been trying to do, with the first race of 2017 a mere 6 weeks away (Yakima Skyline 50km - I should probably post this years planned races here at some point!). The weather this weekend has not helped however! Snowmageddon hit again late Friday, so it was back to hours of plodding yesterday! Still, I look at these as being character building and strength enhancing! Been in the gym regularly - deadlifts and squats mostly, but these long uphill slogs are another form of strength, plus they are mentally tough when the weather is seriously crap. EEOR yesterday with Piotr Babis was a bit of an ordeal but we got 'er done! The traverse through the rock band (snow band) was particularly sketchy. 

 

Today was cold and the forecast doesn't look much better for the next week, but that can always change. Roll on Spring Break and a week in Moab, I say!

 

Weekly summary: interval session Thursday with 8 x 3 mins and 8 x 10 sec sprints. 

Friday I did 21 km with 2 x 15 mins at tempo power. 

Saturday Long run (mostly snow slog) EEOR summit from home - 1448m climbing, 18.5km

The rest was easy zone 1/2 running. 2 rest days. 

 A few pics.

 

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The new Stryd power centre charts are great at showing progression in volume and intensity week to week. 

 

Interval session as shown on the Suunto Spartan Sport watch. 

Interval session as shown on the Suunto Spartan Sport watch. 

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What a difference a few days can make. EEOR summit yesterday. Stormy Saturday. 

What a difference a few days can make. EEOR summit yesterday. Stormy Saturday. 

Heading up EEOR in some deep snow. 

Heading up EEOR in some deep snow. 

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Long weekend and mixing it up

I think as a trail runner it's way too easy to get caught up in that one thing that we love to do, running! Last year, we had a lousy winter, but it did make for great early season running on dirt - and that was perfect leading into Western States; this year, by contrast, it hasn't been so easy to get out for long runs, as it's been cold, and definitely more snowy.

I'm still running 4 to 5 days per week, but making a conscious to mix it up a little, and the running focus early season has definitely been more on quality rather than quantity. As far as mixing it up goes,  XC skiing and a bit of skimo have been great cross training. 

The Thursday run group goes from strength to strength, and the interval sessions I arrange are making everyone faster! On the weekends I try to do another quality workout - last night for example I did 2 x 20 mins at tempo intensity, a 'double day', with an easy hour jog in the morning. Friday I didn't work but had a great day out on the planks at Bow Summit; 4 hours of non stop ski touring - 1000m + of laps with Adam, Laura and Donato, so to be able to get in that workout last night is encouraging. It's a long weekend, so I'll try to get in something longish today and see what tomorrow brings!  Life ain't bad!

A few random pics below to go along with my babbling this morning. 

 

XC skiing at CNC doesn't get much better that's this - 3.5 hours of classic last Saturday. 

XC skiing at CNC doesn't get much better that's this - 3.5 hours of classic last Saturday. 

Thursday night 'Dirtbag Runners Bow Valley' - headed to Indian Flats road for some suffer. 

Thursday night 'Dirtbag Runners Bow Valley' - headed to Indian Flats road for some suffer. 

Greasy powder at Bow Summit, and all the terrain to ourselves

Greasy powder at Bow Summit, and all the terrain to ourselves

Adam putting in the up track

Adam putting in the up track

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Saira organizing the kids mid-run yesterday morning. 

Saira organizing the kids mid-run yesterday morning. 

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Early Feb 2017 - back in the deep freeze

This has been a chilly winter so far! As I write we are back in the deep freeze, highs forecast around -18C for the next few days. I still managed to get out today though - a jaunt up Ha Ling (2407m) with the dogs. I kept the intensity down - hiked up, jogged down. Pretty chilly up top - thank goodness no wind or it would have been brutal.  Feeling pretty flat this morning - a long work week, probably less sleep than I should have had, and some decent interval sessions over the last couple of weeks are catching up, so time to have a couple of easier days! Thursday we did the Deadman's hill - "1 mile hill" x 4, followed by 3 x 30 second sprints. Really cold, so we bailed after the 4th interval, despite planning 5. Still a quality session.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to brave the weather for a long day - maybe try Grotto - which would be a 3-4 hour grunt I expect with the recent snow. Alternatively, I may look for some skimo action, but we'll see.

Looking at January Movescount numbers, I'm down on last year, but most of that looks to be ski touring related - just haven't had much opportunity to get out for those long ski days. As well, I've been focusing more on the intensity, which naturally leads to shorter, though quality, sessions.

 

JANUARY 2017 28 sessions (missed a few strength workouts); 34h 38m; 270km; 8700m ascent.

  

Ha Long summit - frozen face

Ha Long summit - frozen face

Not many folks up here today

Not many folks up here today

Run buds - always happy to be out

Run buds - always happy to be out

Thawing out with some post run strength

Thawing out with some post run strength

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