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My Letter of Condolences Has Arrived - The Barkley is a Go!

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My Letter of Condolences Has Arrived - The Barkley is a Go!

And on Feb 29th no less, that's gotta be a good omen on some level.

"dear gary;

it is my unfortunate duty to inform you that your name has been selected for the 2016 barkley marathons, to be held on april 2-4, 2016, at frozen head state park, in the state of tennessee, usa.

it is anticipated that this enterprise will amount to nothing more than an extended period of unspeakable suffering, at the end of which you will ultimately find only failure and humiliation. at best, you might escape without incurring permanent physical damage and psychological scarring, which will torment you for the remainder of your life.

you may, if you so desire, spend the intervening months between now, and april in a futile attempt to perform sufficient training to enable yourself to cover a greater distance before your ultimate demise. however, it would probably be better to spend this time putting your affairs in order...

update your will, visit with friends and relatives, and otherwise tie up any and all loose ends.

should the unfortunate mental condition which led to your application for the 2016 barkley marathons improve, you might still escape by simply writing me and asking that your slot be passed along to some other unfortunate fool. there are many other unfortunate fools suffering from the delusion that they *want* to participate in this hopeless endeavor.

otherwise, please respond with an acknowledgement that you indeed wish to participate, and (if you are not already on the barkley mailing list) write to NOT TELLING YOU to request to be added. this is the medium thru which I will pass along any information related to the race. please do not pay any attention to information from anyone other than myself on this list, as the barkers of the past may have been mentally damaged during their attempts to run the race, and are no longer reliable.

in order to protect your privacy, we will not announce your entry to the race on any public forum. this way, you may be allowed to fail quietly, without anyone ever knowing. however, if you wish to make any public statement about your acceptance into the race; that is your choice... if you tell the world that you will be running, do not be surprised to find your heirs requesting that you bequeath them favored items among your possessions, and making inquiries about the location of your valuables.

may your god go with you;

laz"

If you don't know Barkley, here's the wiki link and more importantly here's a great way to kill 90 minutes by viewing the highly entertaining recently released documentary, "The Barkley Marathons, The Race That Eats Its Young", which was recently released to Netflix for FREE!

The Coles Notes (Google Coles Notes if you didn't exist before Google)

-Absolutely one of the toughest physical challenges on the planet.

-There have only been 14 unique finishers in 30 years! Two runners have finished twice. 

-130 or so miles in length, though no one knows for sure / 210km

-60,000ft of climbing and an equal amount descent, as in 120,000ft of change! 18,300 meters!

-60 hour cutoff

-5 laps long. If you finish 3 laps they call it a "fun run" finish. I am not going for a "fun run".

-Never has there been a Canadian finisher of the event.

-The "race" is limited to just 40 runners. Yes, more than 40 people apply for this "privilege" :)

-This is the most quotation marks I've ever used in a blog posting :)

-HURT was a training run for Barkley, and so was this, just yesterday as I knew my letter of condolences was imminent. 

 

-There are no course markings at Barkley and no aid stations. You get a map, some coordinates, and you go find hidden books in the forest and pull out the page that matches your bib number to prove you found the checkpoints. Lose you pages and you're out of the race. Seriously, watch the documentary :)

-You are not allowed GPS, you are not allowed an altimeter, just map and compass.

-Each time the course is completed in its entirety the course is changed to make it harder the following year. No one finished in 2015 so the course does not change for 2016.

-Apparently 2016 will see the deepest field they've ever hosted as the initial announcement was that four previous finishers and eight previous fun run finishers were returning, and apparently a former Olympian (no idea what country of what sport it was) is in as well.

-There is no race website and they do not publish a starters list. It is up to the person if they wish to openly admit that they are attempting this. 

I applied as you are supposed to back in December and was not amongst the initially drawn entrants, but I did find myself at #8 on the weight list, yes they like to mess with words and they call it a weight list instead of a wait list. One by one I watched people climb the weight list whilst knowing full well that I was high enough to eventually get in. Barkley has been my focus and my big race goal for the better part of the last year. If I did not get into Hardrock, which I didn't, I was focussing on Barkley. This is not to say that HURT wasn't my absolute race goal in January, it was, but Barkley happens on April 2nd this year and as such you'd better be logging race specific mileage through at least December, January, February and March. If I were finally going to apply for Barkley, it was going to be in a year where I was also doing HURT as the training for both is so complimentary. 

A brief summary of my history with the Barkley. I've been dreaming about this day for the better part of seven years, maybe eight. I did come from an expedition adventure racing background into ultrarunning, so I learned of this impossible race early in my ultra career. If I didn't end up injured for all of 2011 I would most likely have applied that year, for a hopeful 2012 inclusion. 

In November of 2012 after working my fitness back from a lost year in 2011, I found myself in a room with two Barkley finishers and a third person who then went on to become a finisher. 

Andrew Thompson - 2009 finisher

Jonathan Basham - 2010 finisher

Travis Wildeboer - 2013 finisher

I brought up the Barkley and of course passionate discussion ensued. I took a lot away from that day but mainly this, you can't prevent the suffering, no matter how hard you try, and sometimes simply trying to prevent that suffering is to your own demise. Jonathan or JB as he's known summed it up best, while throwing his arms out wildly to the sides,

"You know how you finish Barkley, you've GOTTA WANT BARKLEY!"

Plain and simple, Barkley isn't an afterthought, it isn't something you just tack onto a racing calendar, it isn't something to be taken lightly and if you want to finish the damn thing you'd better be prepared to live for it for months and even years on end. This is where I've been for the last few years now, until I finally applied, knowing that there can never be excuses in getting the training in and ensuring I'm as prepared as possible come the day of reckoning. 

That workout shown above, or displayed in this image capped off a week in which I managed 42,000 feet of climbing, while also directing my first CMTS race of the season. It was a busy week and come Sunday the weather was the nastiest it had been in sometime. It was a miserable day with high winds, at time sideways rain down low and blowing snow up high.

All in all I would have preferred 101 other ways to spend my Sunday, but I knew I was eventually, maybe even that day (yesterday) getting into Barkley, and as such there are no excuses, only actions. I fought tooth and nail against quitting before I had even begun and ten and a half hours later I'd logged the biggest vert training day of my life, and by a decent margin. That's why I signed up for the Barkley to begin with, because I know that come race day it will challenge me in new and unforeseen ways, and that in the months leading up to the race, it would force me to be a better person, a better athlete, and that it would force me to challenge myself in new and creative ways. Yesterday was about doing something that not that long ago was beyond the realm of possibility for me, 20,000ft in 31 miles / 6100m in 50km, as a training day.

April 2nd is about facing the greatest physical and mental challenge of my racing career and indeed my life. 

The Barkley is a go, the training is right on schedule, now to figure out how to read a map and use that damn compass :)

GR

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How To: Auto-sync / mass upload all old GPS files via any service to Strava

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How To: Auto-sync / mass upload all old GPS files via any service to Strava

For far too long I've desired to amalgamate all my old run data onto Strava, but the task seemed far too large to tackle during race directing season. With the series finale of the Coast Mountain Trail Series in the books as of October 10th I am finally able to focus a bit of energy towards other projects, and this was near the top of my list. 

I started on the onerous path of downloading and uploading a single file at a time. It was taking me approximately a minute per file or thirty minutes per month of archived training. I set in on a tackling two months per night at the end of my day, and after two days I finally stepped back and said out loud "there has to be a better f-ing way than this."

Of course there was a better way and a simple google search will answer this for you, as it did for me. I am not here to tell you anything more than is already posted on the ole interwebs, rather I'm going to briefly describe how GD easy it was for me to accomplish this once I landed on the service that seemed the easiest and cheapest to use. 

Tapiriik at https://tapiriik.com/

There's a donation button that starts at $5. Apparently you can contribute as little as $2 but I figured if this thing actually worked that $5 was a near theft on my part. 

You simply login each of your respective accounts, hit sync and voila! Done and done! In my case I had over 800 files on my old Garminconnect account that I wished to upload to Strava. You can choose to sync in any direction, between 13 different service providers, or basically every service but Movescount (insert sad face). No biggie though, all my data was synced in a matter of hours.

Quick tip: Most of my Garminconnect files were listed as private, so they initially wouldn't sync. I scrolled through over 800 files to change the setting from private to public and then it synced instantly. Of course immediately after accomplishing this I hovered over the Garmin box to see a settings button appear. Clicking on this button allows you to mass select "sync all private files too". Damn. Oh well. 

For just $5 Tapiriik automatically added over 800 files with over 1400 hours and 8600 miles to my Strava files. I can now look back through 2009 to view my entire training history and it's proven quite insightful, through my lost year and subsequent comeback after twice breaking my foot, to the correlation to race day successes via consistency in training over months and even the full year leading into an event. It's nice to host everything in a single space (or multiple spaces if you sync all your services) and no one can touch Strava for how they display and present your data. 

So there you have it, if you've been considering updating your Strava account with your historic GPS data, it's as easy as $5 and five minutes. Have at er!

If you hadn't already noticed this is my new website, I hope you like the layout. I haven't delved into it too far just yet and will get to that in the coming months, but I figured first things first, it was time to post a blog for the first time since August 8th. Typically at this time of year I attempt to catch up on the things I can't stay on top of during event season and this year is no different. I'm hopeful to maybe even get a few race reports and/or trip reports posted in the next few months as well, just don't hold me to that :)

GR

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Not Quite Ready to HURT

It's never easy to decide against doing a race when you are healthy and fit. Harder still is pulling the plug on one of your absolute favorite events that you've had nothing but success at.

It's taken me quite some time to come to terms with this, but I won't be lining up at the HURT 100 in just under one month's time. If you follow me on any training sites such as Strava or Movescount you've probably been thinking "what the hell, is he not posting his workouts right now" (I realize none of you are paying that much attention but let's pretend).


As a quick visual reference above, I gave it a solid shot upon returning from South Africa on December 1st, but by December 10th I was questioning my decision in pursuing HURT in such a close time frame to the Salomon Skyrun (the triple on the 7th is actually a double in which I stopped my watch early).

I've struggled mightily with motivation over the last ten days so I went ahead and got blood work done to ensure I wasn't facing any base line issues with ferritin (iron) or anything else for that matter. I received my results yesterday and my numbers were up across the board, as in it was the best baseline blood work I've actually had in many years, at least since I started training harder. I was kinda hoping for the opposite in which I'd be able to see what was causing my fatigue, and really in the end, that told me all that I needed to know. It's time for a break right now. Thankfully there are no injuries and no baseline blood indication of issues, so those two things are to be celebrated I guess.

Through further assessment I realize that I usually take scheduled downtime in the fall and then ramp up for HURT through a huge mileage push in December. The fact that I somehow hoped I could pull off one of the hardest 100km races out there in the Salomon Skyrun (a difficult 13h46m effort) and then turn around and tackle one of the hardest 100 mile races out there just 8 weeks later was a bit of a pipe dream.

The hardest part about this is that I'm confident I could show up in Hawaii and still have a very good, even great race, just piggy backing off of my current fitness. However, I no longer make race to race, month to month decisions like I used to. I step back, assess a year or more, and ensure I'm taking care of my body and my mind/soul/heart in all that I do. My mind needs this more than my body, and in the end the mind gets what the mind wants. You take the good with the bad and the strength with the weakness. There are a series of cheques and balances that need to be met, and I'm currently tapping into my overdraft. It's there, it works, but it's never a good idea to do so.

On the bright side, MORE WINE, MORE BEACH, MORE FUN, LESS STRESS...hey, wait a sec, why haven't I thought of this before?

Merry Christmas to each of you, I hope Santa is good to you this week.
GR

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HURT 100 - Follow Along

If you're interested in following along during this Saturday's HURT 100 here are a few useful links:




My Twitter Feed that Linda will update through my first 80 miles (she'll be pacing a friend after that)

My 2013 Race Report via IRunFar

My 2010 Race Report

Personally, I'm busting at the seams a little bit right now. I'm excited to lay one out there this weekend and I feel like even though I came down with a chest cold at what I thought was the absolute worst time, right at the end of November, I managed to get past it at just the right time, near the end of December. My training through the back half of December and into the first week of January was flawless and going into this weekend I am 100% fit, healthy, rested and without excuse. It's time to race!

A few of my favorite pictures from the last few months of playing outside


















GR

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Finding Motivation

The rains are back in these parts and with that comes decreased motivation to train along with the coinciding increased personal guilt trips to get my body to move out the door.

Today was the first truly wet run that I've embarked upon in months, in fact I struggle to remember the last real weather challenged run I had to overcome. Off the top of my head it was likely a pre-UTMB exploration in France, though there was no lack of motivation to run in the Swiss Alps on that day.

So the question I'm posing is, where do you find your motivation? What are the most challenging days and/or weather conditions that you have to overcome to get your sweat on?

One of the biggest things I've learned over the years is that lack of motivation can come in many different shapes and sizes, though the vast majority of a lack of motivation exists entirely in our own heads. Being mentally fatigued is far more difficult to get past than simply being physically fatigued. As an example, if you're fired up for a run, let's use the Grand Canyon as an example, you're going to make that run happen no matter what your body might be physically telling you. If however you find yourself at the peak of your health and fitness but are not excited by the terrain you're covering that day you're run is going to be a challenge to complete. The mind controls what the body will and will not do more so than the body controls the mind.

Back in 2005 I was training for my first ever expedition adventure race, that being the 2006 Primal Quest, Utah. I was then residing in Squamish, BC, the aptly named "Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada." I was months into my training for a goal that was so daunting that the fear alone got me out the door each and every day. I wasn't feeling necessarily physically beaten down, but everything just became more of a challenge to complete. Day in and day out for weeks on end was an absolute slog. My motivation was nearing zero, I wasn't having all too much fun and I started to wonder if I was experiencing some underlying health issue.

Seven years on I forget what lead me to the following recognition, but as I assessed my training routine I came to terms with the fact that it was exactly that, a routine, completely repetitive. On my scheduled three hour ride day I'd take my mountain bike out on the three hour route I knew. On my two hour paddle day, I'd lug my kayak to the river and paddle down into the sound and back. A two hour run was always completed over the same known two hour route. There was a 90 min loop, a 60 min loop, etc. The adventure was gone and the whole reason I had even been enticed by the sport to begin with was because it was called ADVENTURE RACING.

I metaphorically threw out all of my known, set routes and went about exploring and embracing the unknown wilderness surrounding me. Like an overdose of caffeine, I was wide awake again within days. I started paddling the waters further south of town and quickly discovered hundreds of years old native rockwall art on the sea exposed cliffs near Furry Creek. On foot I found a whole new access point to get up The Chief via a gully scramble. On my mountain bike I learned new trail linkages and started discovering old logging artifacts. I couldn't wait to get out the door and to see what I'd find next. I had to remove the structure to do so though. I had to embrace the unknown and keep the adventure within what I was doing. I met one of Canada's most experienced adventure racers at the time and I was asking him for some training tips, he responded with,

"Training? I've never trained a day in my life."

"Excuse me?"

"I play everyday, but I never go out to train. I go outside to play in the woods and to interact with nature. When I stop enjoying it like play then it becomes work. Work, no matter what form it may take, will always feel like work."

So as I sit here after a successful run on a day that's calling for 80mm of rain it is with an awareness that I consciously went onto a trail system I am less familiar with. I woke up early and was struggling with the mental image of where I wanted to run today. I started rifling through areas in my head and as soon as I thought my way to a trail access point that felt like it excited me I packed my bags and headed straight there. My run, and day of play was salvaged because of this.

Tracking back to the point of this posting, here are a few things I realize I use to motivate me when I know it is nothing more than my own head that's preventing me from getting out the door.

1) Remove The Blinders: The aforementioned day of exploration. Remove all expectations from your day and simply take every new trail turn you can find. Your current favorite routes were once completely unknown to you. Never lose sight of that.

2) Socialize: Training partners are great at keeping you honest. Like most I embrace running as a primarily solo pursuit, but there's nothing better than a planned group run to prevent the snooze button and to make the miles fly by underfoot

3) Mission Possible: In the true doldrums of our longest months which contain the least sunshine I create mini-missions for myself. Taking last winter as an example, we experienced an early and unexpected low snowline that refused to recede. One of my mini-missions was to grab my snowshoes and run from home to the snowline on Mountain Highway. I'd then start snowshoe running up to the tracked high point in the snow and go about breaking trail for 1/2 - 1km further uphill. The snow usually being hip deep while doing so. Once I completed my mission I'd turn around and retrace my steps home. By the end of this I'd have been on my feet for multiple hours, climbed 5-600 meters in elevation, and most importantly not once thought about the run itself. Creating a mission for yourself removes pace, distance and elevation expectations and allows you to go through the motions without over-thinking the going through the motion process.

4) Music, Podcasts and Audiobooks: My necessity for noise distraction to overcome lack of motivation goes in this order. A) no noise, I like to run in my own head as much as possible B) music, nothing distracts my mind on the 'I'm about to over think this running in the rain' days quite like music C) podcasts and audiobooks, on the days when I know I need an entire distraction of the mind to get out the door I fire up a good book or my favorite podcast. I haven't looked for research saying so but my own anecdotal experiences tell me that having to actually listen to a voice and process what it is saying, rather than just humming along to a song, takes the mind into a deeper state of distraction and concentration. My worst weather training days have a great audiobook on standby to conquer them. It has yet to fail me.

5) Dream Big: Throw down for that big race you've been dreaming of. Just because you aren't fit enough to attempt it today does not mean you can't and won't be ready to do so in eight or nine months time. A big-ass scary-as-shit goal will make short work of your alarm clock. I used to be the captain of the under-motivated, then I signed up for the biggest adventure race in the world in 2005, for the 2006 event, and my life has never quite been the same for it.

6) There's More To Running Than Just Running: IE cross-training. Having recently gotten past some neck and back issues I'd been dealing with I've really attempted to get to know some of other sports that I love once again. Primarily this involves gym work, squash, skiing and likely some hockey again, albeit the floor version instead of the ice version, but I find all of this exciting, and fresh and familiar all at once. This guy had it right, way back when.

There are very few people who can train in such repetition so as to pound out the miles five, six and seven days a week, week in and week out, month after month and not suffer through injury in doing so. Personally I am fortunate to be able to log heavy mileage without the standard issues a lot of people attempting high mileage may encounter, however there is not a single one of us who wouldn't benefit from cross training in the form of gym work, cycling, etc. You know that guy Kilian who seems to be a pretty decent athlete, he uses a road bike as cross training, in fact most European mountain runners spend a decent amount of time road cycling. It's interesting to me that we don't see that same mentality on this side of the pond. When you're mind and body start to feel the impact of the pounding of repetition, mix it up, stay healthy and continue to get stronger instead of being forced to the sidelines.

7) I Do Not Want To Suck: For me at least, I find motivation in competition. This is touched upon in five, but that's more in reference to the fear of not being able to finish a certain goal. Whether your goal is a podium finish or a personal best time, competition can be a great motivator. I attempt to pick the most competitive races I can find so that it keeps me honest. There is nothing quite like day dreaming about the best ultra runners in the world and how hard they themselves train to help me get past my rolling mental excuse list.

8) Talk It Out: Conversations ongoing in my head;

"I don't wanna." and be sure to say this in the most childish pout mouth you can.
"Why not?"
"Cause it's wet outside."
"You've gotta be kidding me."
"It's weally, weally wet outside." an Elmer Fudd voice will suffice here
"Yeah that's called rain, it does that here sometimes."
"It looks poopy outside."
"Listen are you injured or severely fatigued here?"
"No. It's poopy outside."
"Yeah, I'll pack a diaper for you, get you're ass out the GD door you pansy."
"But, but, but...."
This is where I put myself in a headlock and it becomes incredibly violent until the stick a soother (Salomon flask bottle) in my mouth and get on with it.

Giving it a voice can give it meaning. Most of our excuses not to do things are entirely trivial and they feel even more trivial when reviewed internally or even spoken out loud.

9) Give It Twenty: That's it, give it twenty minutes. That's my only rule on the days where I'm really in doubt of if running is a good idea. By the twenty minute mark things usually make sense again and I can't believe I fought so relentlessly with myself to begin with. I think in all the years I've been enforcing the twenty minute rule I've only turned back once at twenty five minutes. That day it was the absolute right call, but the other 100 times I've instituted this rule on myself I've ended up with some of my best, some of my longest and certainly some of the most rewarding days of my year.

10) Give It A Rest: Seriously, shut it down for scheduled maintenance on an annual basis. Training/playing creates stress on your body. As runners/athletes we become incredibly efficient at dealing with this stress and seeing it as positive stress. On a cellular level though your body is just dealing with stress and trying to keep you healthy. Your body does not differentiate between what we know to be healthy and unhealthy stress levels, it just knows a stress response.

Ultra running specifically has grown into a twelve month a year pursuit for many runners. With large money events now taking place in September and December there is little downtime to be had unless it is specifically structured in at the beginning of your year. In 2013 I lined up for seven ultras, three of which were 100 miles in length. All but one of those races went as close to 'according to plan' as could be suggested. When I sat down to plan my year I structured in the downtime and then stuck to that plan. Following each of my three hundred mile races I enforced three weeks of near downtime. Doubt the validity of my statement? I've posted all of my workouts this year to my MovescountStrava feeds. I was not injured following any of these races, I was embracing forced recovery.

Following each of HURT, UTMF and UTMB I shut it down in a big way compared to my regular training loads. Even following UTMB in which I only made it twenty miles I shut it down following the event. Why? The physical and mental stress of the training leading up to a big race is what really takes it out of you. In a five week span while training for UTMB I logged over 1,000km, almost all on trail and while averaging nearly a vertical kilometer of gain per day. Whether I made it to mile 20, 50, or the finish, my mind and body needed the break. Without structured downtime the best of the best have two years in them. By the third year there's inexplicable issues that arise either through injury or over-training. Schedule in downtime and enforce it or your body will do so for you, and it won't coincide nearly as nicely with your personal racing goals.

Newton's first law of motion, though not scientifically applicable certainly rings true when jigged to state that 'objects at rest tend to stay at rest, and objects in motion tend to stay in motion.'

The less you do, the less you'll want to do. The more you do, the more you'll want to do. So get out and do something and make it habitual. Whether your goal is to win a race, to finish a race, or you're just attempting to get/stay healthy, your body desires movement. Don't let your head get in the way of that.

My challenge to you. Go and run a completely new route this week. Take one day, one run, one hour and find something new out there. You'll be thankful you did.

GR

So how do you motivate yourself to get out and get after it?

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About Hanes Valley - Safe Backcountry Run Travel


I had the good fortune of completing one of my favorite local routes yesterday, the Hanes Valley traverse. This typically makes for a great trail running adventure around mid summer. You can create a full loop via either Grouse Mountain or Lynn Valley. My preferred direction of attack is Lynn Valley as you get to start out with the relatively flat warm up out towards Norvan Falls first. Once you crest the backside of the mountain and come through Grouse Resort you are then left with a plethora of options to return back to your can in Lynn Headwaters with the easiest and most direct being a jaunt down Mountain Highway.


I have always loved the wild feel of this route yet always desired to link it into a bigger outing. Yesterday I did just that by adding in an additional mini-climb to the Top of Grouse after contouring Dam Mountain, then a descent of BCMC (17m30s) followed by a return to the Top of Grouse via Jetboy/The Cut. I then proceeded down Mountain Highway to intersect with a climb to the top of Fromme, followed by a descent down Peer Gynt to Mountain Highway, to Lynn Headwaters, and then a climb up to the first lookout point on Lynn Peak to hit my goal for the day which was to acquire over 10,000ft / 3,000m of climbing and descent. It was my best training day in many years and happy making all around. I've since posted the pictures to my FB athlete page (where I host all my running content and photos now) and am getting numerous inquires about the route, and rightfully so of course.


Here's what you need to know before attempting the Hanes Valley circuit though:

This is not a beginners route. There is some rock travel and a minimal amount of navigation involved. The route looks to have been freshly flagged last year but there are still mini gaps in the flagging which could send you off route if you're not familiar with proper route finding.

There is still a sign up once you cross the suspension bridge at Norvan Falls saying this area is closed. It's there for a reason even though many experienced runners/hikers have started making their way through there already.

There is a heli-pad in the valley. It's there for a reason.

There is a permanent North Shore Search and Rescue cache in the valley. It's there for a reason.

This was probably my sixth time doing Hanes Valley and the first time I've done it completely solo (without at least Roxy as a companion). You will feel how isolated you are on this route because you really are in the backcountry. There are consequences if something goes wrong while in the backcountry and if you're not prepared for this possibility than you shouldn't be back there to begin with. Hanes feels safer than it really is because it's flanked by two of the more heavily trafficked areas of our local trail system, those being Lynn Headwaters and Grouse Mountain. Once you cross that suspension bridge at Norvan and until you find your way back down to Grouse Mountain Resort on the far side however, you are on your own. If something goes wrong out there it's going to be a lengthy and challenging extraction that will likely involve a helicopter ride. From experience, though it looks like and is certainly fun for the limited time you are in the air, waiting for the helicopter to arrive and dealing with the aftermath of a serious injury will be low lights of your year. I can guarantee you of that.

Snake bite kit not needed in these parts thankfully
Hanes Valley should be enjoyed by every experienced trail runner and I'd highly recommend the route, with a few caveats. If you've never been through there before, don't attempt it until all the snow has melted out. There is still a decent amount of snow on the high point around Crown and Goat mountains. If you lose your footing on this stuff you're sliding all the way to the bottom. You're not going to die but the propensity to injure an ankle or foot in this circumstance is high. The lingering snow also blurs out the route and can make navigating the area difficult for those who have never been through before. The safest time of year to enjoy Hanes Valley is still a good 2-3 weeks away. It'll usually a mid to late July opening.

Trip Plan: Even though you're only 'off the grid' for an hour or two while back there you are completely off the grid as there's little to no cell phone reception. I left a full trip plan in place with Linda which included exactly who to call and when should I not check in with her by our specified time. I would never go back here without leaving a trip plan because if something does happen to go wrong you can rest assured that people know where you are and are coming to help you within a few hours. You could sit tight and confidently wait for help to arrive vs the highly stressful task of attempting to get out a call for help and hope that someone finds you before nightfall.

Safety Gear: I brought a lightweight jacket, a space blanket, sunblock, a knife, a whistle (you will never be able to yell as loud or create as shrill a sound as a whistle will. If you fall off trail or down a slope a whistle can literally save your life), a fire starting kit, and a spare battery for my phone (in case I did get signal I would prefer to have access to two full phone charges vs just one). If it were later in the season or I had left it later in the day I also would have packed along a lightweight headlamp. Everything all in weighed next to nothing and packed into a side pockets on my Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5L.

There is simply NO REASON to ever venture back into areas like Hanes Valley and Coliseum Mountain without these bare essentials. On longer routes like the Howe Sound Crest Trail I pack additional supplies such as an emergency bivy sack. I pack my phone on every single run that I do, whether I expect cell service or not, after watching the unfortunate passing of a trail runner on a group run a few years back after taking a wrong turn. In that circumstance a phone would have been his greatest survival tool.

Enjoy these summer routes as they are truly spectacular, and another reason why North Vancouver really is one of the best trail destinations in North America.

Think before you head out there though, as you'll never regret the extra few ounces of gear should something actually go wrong, and in the end, on bigger routes, it might just save your life. Know the Ten Essentials, own them pack them down into a small carry sack and have them ready to go at a moments notice. I have effectively crammed all of my emergency supplies into the stuff sack that comes with the emergency bivy, including of course still having the bivy in there. *If you've ever had to spend a night under a space blanket you've been left longing for an emergency bivy instead*

Stay safe, play safe, and get out there and explore your backyard this summer. It's truly one of the best playgrounds in the world!

What say you? Any other suggestions? Any piece of kit you won't venture into the backcountry without?


Run link on Movescount
GR

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Up To Here (PhotoBlog)

The last six weeks have gone really well. Though I've wanted to blog a bunch and I have numerous postings written in my head, the untold story of being a race director (especially of multiple events now) is that you just generally spend a lot of time working on your computer. Given that I've never held a desk job or anything remotely close to a job that forced me to sit down for any extended period of time, it's been quite the adjustment. I have found that spending so many additional hours working online has effectively quelled my blogging and other 'online for pleasure' ways...ummm, that can be read many, many different ways...being online now for five, six or seven hours a day is effectively three, four, or five hours longer than I'm used to. The motivation to then sit in front of a screen afterwards is lacking to say the least.

March was a great month of training. With a late push of 123 miles in the final week I ended up with a 402 mile month.

I raced the Chuckanut 50k to a 10 minute PR in the middle of this. Though I was pretty happy with my 4h02m run time, as I was shooting for sub 4hr, I just didn't have my climbing legs with me on the day. My leg turnover held up throughout the race on the faster stuff, my descents were solid as always, but my climbing legs evaporated within the first mile of the first climb and I just had to slog it out and stick with it. I found myself with a pack of runners with about ten miles to go and in the end I finished 14-15 minutes ahead of this group, as the climbing was effectively behind us. It was rewarding to have felt terrible very early on and yet to have stuck with things and plodded through to a respectable result. A result that I can actually celebrate, especially when DNF thoughts nearly overwhelmed me from miles 7-15. I wasn't having my absolute best day but to fight it out and still be satisfied with my overall result made it very rewarding.

Last weekend, the week following my 123 mile effort, I managed to shave five full minutes off of my Diez Vista 50k course record from 2010. A race report is imminent...I hope.

From my last blog posting up to here, in pictures;

How much is that doggy in the fence?

Another day atop Dam Mountain. A favorite local route

The Green Room

A weekly endeavor, Dam Mountain ascent

Sometimes in a slightly different light,
you end up seeing things in a completely different way

A section of my new race The Cap Crusher 8k/13k

Ben Gibbard at WWU

Awaiting our annual training terrain melt out

The logo for our new race held on 03-23

Running on Chuckanut with Linda

A three bridge training run

Linda on the more technical bits of Chuckanut

BCMC a weekly route for me

As much as running in the rain can be challenging,
it also leads to some of the most beautiful runs

Colinoba birthday scavenger hunt in Seattle

Cougar Mountain outside Seattle

Logo for our next Coast Mountain Trail Series Race,
Buckin' Hell on May 18th

Happy Pi Day!

My Chuckanut PR

Happy Saint Paddy's Day from the Diez Vista trail

Another Dam ascent

Starting line of Cap Crusher

No gold

Dam Mountain

Grouse Mountain Snowshoe Grind,
ie Dam Mountain

Cleveland Dam with The Lions in the distance

A surprise gift, the new glow in the dark Canadian quarters!

Hiding on a trail in Squamish

The Dream Wizards are responsible for all that is great in
the Squamish trail networks

View from Survival Of The Fittest course in Squamish

Dam Mountain

A 50k PR on a training run

Dam Mountain with Adam Campbell

A city turned upside down in the ocean

Happy Easter!

Squamish

Roxy testing her new gear

Linda with sunshine coming out of her bum

Logo for Coast Mountain Trail Series race,
Survival Of The Fittest 13k/18k

View of Garibaldi from Stump Lake in Squamish

Congrats from Salomon West Van on DV CR

A new course record

Coming up quick!!

A trot in Stanley Park

Where the sun eventually broke through

How to get noticed at Whole Foods

A walk in the city after an all you can eat sushi
night entertaining friends from out of town
We fly out for Japan and UTMF in just four days time!!

GR

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Music To My Ears

I was recently interviewed for Talk Ultra and it went live on Friday. Here's the link with full podcast details. As it lists in the Show Notes I pick up the mic at around 2h30m into the show.

I've never been one to train or run with music, though I love music, strive to discover new artists on a regular basis and attend at least five or six live shows a year. Music is a big part of my life, yet it has never effectively made it into my running on anything near a regular basis. The main reason behind this is that I've simply never had success in any of my running with music experiments. The last time I recall running with music prior to 2013 was during the final 20 miles of my WS100 2010 run. The music made a huge difference in helping to block out the pain and I do believe it allowed me to close out stronger than I would have otherwise, yet my setup was still marginally frustrating and it never migrated into my regular running routine.

Heading into the HURT 100 last month I really wanted the ability to zone out over the final 20 mile loop and I knew from experience what an asset music could be in this regard. I started searching through online running with music forums and write ups and sure enough there has been a slight technological shift in how you can effectively run with music these days. My primary issue in the past has always revolved around the wires and how to effectively cut down on the annoyance of the bouncing and frustration of the tangling.
Though we don't yet have hoverboards in our daily lives the integration of bluetooth technology has slightly revolutionized the listening experience. After a few hours of disseminating information I made the decision to break the golden rule. I was going to purchase new items that I wasn't going to get a chance to train with. I was going to effectively trust in the reviews I'd read and head into my final lap at HURT with a completely new system that I had yet to properly test. (it arrived the day before we departed for Hawaii and I ran with it for a total of 30 minutes in advance of the race)

The Jaybird Freedom bluetooth headphones promised a lifetime warranty against sweat, but more importantly they offered up to 6 hours of battery life and cost less than $100. The reviews were pretty much unanimous that these were leading the way in the bluetooth headphone charge.
I didn't want to simply carry my bulky smartphone, so next I sourced the smallest bluetooth enabled music player and it didn't take long to settle on the brand new iPod Nano, even though I had recently happily migrated away from Apple based products. At $149 for 16gigs it seemed reasonably priced and it was incredibly compact and exactly what I was looking for.

I rather blindly trusted that my own research combined with the manufacturer claims, along with the reviews I'd read, would be accurate enough to at least get me through my final HURT lap without any major issues. Sure enough and thankfully so everything performed amicably on race day and I got away with my breaking of the cardinal rule in ultra running.

Since HURT it's been a bit of a treat to incorporate music into my personal running experience as I've always  desired to do. Typically right now I'll use music on one or two of my runs a week, usually on days where motivation may be lacking, or on days where I'm looking to run at a hard pace and where I know music will help push me along.

Today I got to listen to my first Talk Ultra podcast while running and it worked perfectly as a distraction tactic to help me focus on my twenty mile run more than the shitty-ass weather of the day. I was almost an hour into my run before I even looked at my watch or processed that I was already sopping wet with a few hours of running left to go.

Music and podcasts are a highly effective way to keep motivation high or help bolster motivation when it may be lagging far, far behind you.

So I'm curious, do you listen to music or podcast when you run? If so what kinds of music or podcasts and what type of setup do you use or prefer?

I hope you enjoy the interview. I really like what Ian and Talk Ultra are doing for the sport and it was an absolute pleasure to get a chance to tell my story a little in front of what I know is a very diverse international listener base.

As a side note, some other long term ultra running goals that I failed to touch on near the end of our talk include:

-FKT attempt on Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier
-A possible larger volcano based multi day running journey in WA State
-FKT attempt on entire Pacific Crest Trail which stretches from Mexico to Canada and finishes/begins in the park where Linda and I are getting married later this year
-FKT attempt on the Stein Valley route in BC north of Whistler
-Hardrock 100
-Tour Des Geants in Italy
-Grand Slam of Ultra Running


GR

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My New Mantra

New for 2013, Salomon Sense Mantra - my favorite!
A mantra I started using in late 2012 was 'fight'. That's it. Just that one word. Fight.

I started using this for the first time during the Mountain Masochist 50 miler in early November. It was my third time running the race and there were some climbs that had forced me into power hiking during my previous two times on the course. I knew I was trained and ready to race, and that I should be able to finally run the majority of those climbs. My goal was sub 7 hours which I feel I would have run had there not been snow on the course, and of course had I not detoured for almost six additional miles. Anyways, during those climbs I still had to fight my tendencies towards power hiking. I still had to convince myself in those moments that I had it in me to run terrain I'd never run before.

I simply chanted in my head "Fight, fight, fight...fight, fight, fight" and low and behold I forced myself up and over the steepest parts of the course faster than I'd ever done so before. It wasn't easy, but it isn't supposed to be. Fight.

I've never been one for mantras, but for me, this simple word sums it all up perfectly. It was a long few years fighting through injury. It was difficult to fight through the lack of confidence in my own abilities after being down for so long. I had to fight day in and day out to stay motivated during my own training and to believe that I would get back to where I once was.

When you line up at a race you're out there to fight against the course, against the weather conditions, against the competition, and most of all against your own internal dialogue and weaknesses. You have to fight through all of this to stay focused if you want to get the most out of yourself come race day. For me recently, it's come down to simply reminding myself that it's not supposed to be easy. To achieve your absolute best, you're going to have to learn how to fight, and the hardest battle we all wage is against ourselves and right inside our own minds.

"The mind is weak. The body is a machine. Control your mind and your body will be forced to follow."

One other Mantra I've acquired recently has already lead to happy feet and fun times on our local trails. My favorite new shoe! The Salomon Sense Mantra.

Here's A quick video review on competitor magazine

I had my very first run in these shoes today, and I absolutely loved how they hugged my midfoot while giving me ample room in the toe box. This is known as ENDOFIT which is a Salomon exclusive technology. It's an internal fit sleeve designed to hug the forefoot and improve feedback and foot wrapping. Along with this the drop is but 6mm, which I'm a big fan of. 16mm in the rear and 10mm in the front. This is not a minimalist shoe but I'm not a minimalist runner.

The Mantra is based on the S-Lab sense that Kilian wore during his 2011 winning run at Western States.

"The Mantra adds only a few essentials to make it friendly for everyday running; a little more cushioning, a little more protection, and a longer OS tendon to return more energy.
Natural motion construction for running has a lower heel drop, supporting a midfoot or forefoot-oriented stike, better enabling muscles to absorb more shock instead of joints and ultimately building greater balance and overall running efficiency."

My debut in the Mantra via STRAVA. A brand new shoe for 2013 and it already owns some of the KOM's on The North Shore:)



GR

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Hibernating 101

After three full weeks away from running I'm chomping at the bit to get back at it again.

Why three full weeks off this early in the season you may ask?

Well basically my season breaks down to HURT which happened on Jan 19th, then UTMF which at 156km is all but 100 miles, on April 26th, and finally UTMB at 168km on August 30th. My goal is to do well at all of these races, to stay healthy throughout the year, and to learn from past mistakes.

After HURT in 2010 I went straight back into training the following weekend as I was riding the high of a successful race. Within the month however I got sick, and I stayed sick for the better part of four weeks. When I recovered from that flu I hit it hard in preparation for the 2010 Miwok 100km on May 1st. I was unknowingly well on my way to my first ever DNF and a forced month off of training as I was suffering from over training symptoms and iron levels that were border line anemic.

Tracking back further than this, while trying to establish a pattern here, in 2007 after my adventure racing team returned to Canada from a successful expedition race in Baja, Mexico, where we'd slept just 90 minutes in 72 hours before snagging an unofficial 2nd place overall (a much longer story as to the unofficial part). I was also riding a high from that experience and I got back to serious training within days. Three weeks later and I was so sick that I ended up with bronchitis which seriously compromised the following two months of training and impacted my entire summer.

As I sit here closing in on the end of my forced three weeks of downtime I am indeed fighting a minor head cold, though minor being the main word here. Had I not scheduled in this downtime I would surely have ended up decently sick for a month or more. I can't afford to lose time to illness this year, just as I can't afford to lose time to injury. Dare I say that I might just be learning from past experiences here.

Following HURT my body surprised me in the fact that it was definitely the best I've ever felt post 100 mile run, heck I didn't even lose any toenails this time, which I was almost looking forward to:) I very easily could have gone about training within six to seven days and though I know better I could have successfully raced the Orcas Island 50km race on Feb 2nd, where I decided to volunteer and drink beer instead. 

Jamshid showing off the greatest ping pong table ever made

The view from atop Mt. Constitution

Starters shot

In the 19 days since my 100 I believe I've run a half a dozen times, and 50% of those have been with my run clinic that I help coach at NSA on Tuesday nights, which is to say I didn't have a say in the matter:) My longest run has been all of five miles and my total mileage is probably 30 miles...actually it's less than 30 miles, wow. All that to say, I ain't kidding when I write that I've effectively shut it down for the better part of a month.

I am confident I've made the right decision though, and for a few reasons, predominantly because I'm pretty fired up to get back to training again. As of Monday Feb 11th there will be exactly 75 days until my next 100 miler, the UTMF in Japan. I'll likely start off with a 50 mile week to ease back into things and follow that up with 60 and then 75-85 mile weeks depending on how things progress. All in all I feel great right now and am somewhat impressed with myself in the fact that I put a plan to paper, in terms of scheduling in this rest period, and I've actually stuck to it without issue. 

It's time to get back to work again though, and I couldn't be more excited about the path that lays ahead. It's time to start dreaming about racing in Japan!!

GR

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The Numbers Don Lie V2.0

Back in Sept I posted a blog called "The Numbers Don't Lie". It ended up being more of a self justification as to why I hadn't done better at UTMB, and throughout 2012 in general. I seemed to find resolve in reminding myself of just how little I was able to run in the nearly full year that I was sidelined.

Through further reflection however I realized that I was also making some race day nutritional gaffes along the way. I've since addressed these via the handful of races I've run since Sept. Primarily this involved not consuming enough electrolytes during my races. Yes I've heard of Tim Noakes, yes I've read his electrolyte theory, yes he's much smarter than me, and no his theory does not work for me in particular.

After returning from UTMB in early September I was carrying a bit of a hip/glute med injury around with me that pretty much shut down my running for the better part of three weeks. I was however able to hike, and since the fall in the Pacific Northwest is usually the best time of the year we enjoyed plenty of stunningly beautiful treks. Such as this:


and this:


By October, and thanks to Moveo, I was finally back to running again and I've been on a bit of a constant progression since then. In fact this December goes down as the single biggest running month of my entire life, and by a decent margin. Factor in that we had some of the earliest low level snow that I've ever experienced in my nine years on the coast, and a decent chunk of the running was completed on microspikes and/or snowshoes.

As I sit here tapering for the HURT 100 miler in just two weeks time it is with an air of confidence that I simply have not possessed in three full years, since exactly this time in 2010. There are of course absolutely no guarantees with racing, especially 100 milers, but I've put in the work and I'm ready to wear my result come race day. 

By the numbers. I ran over 1000 miles / 1635 km between October 1st and Jan 1st.

I managed to eclipse 3000 miles for the year, with a very late push. 

After the first five months I had covered less than 1000 miles as I was strategically worked my way back from injury.

In December (well technically from Dec 2nd till Jan 1st) I managed over 450 miles / 730kms. Included in this were two 50km races. At my first, the Deception Pass 50km on Dec 8th, I managed my first ultra victory in nearly three years. I ran under four hours in setting the new course record, during a 92 mile week. I was very happy with that. 
Photo Credit Glenn Tachiyama
To close out 2012 I knocked down 300km / 185m of running in just nine days time. From Christmas Eve until and including New Year's Day. 

I ran the NYD Fat Ass 50k, a 'fun run' that always seems to draw a pretty fast crowd near the front. Again I was very happy with my run as I shaved the better part of thirteen minutes off my best time at this event with a 3h47m06s effort to snag 3rd place. 

In 2012 I was only allowed to run 10k on NYD. In 2011 I 'ran' 10k on my crutches. In 2010, leading up to HURT Hawaii, I ran 3h59m55s after knocking down 300km in ten days. I really like where I'm at right now. I haven't felt this strong in, well...ever.
Photo Credit Mike Palichuk
The numbers don't lie and hopefully this means what I think it means come race day on Jan 19th.

2012 as a whole

Running 
x 320 individual runs, not running specific days, of which I have no real idea
4835 kms / 3005 miles
661 hours
168,000 meters / 551,000 feet

Biking 
x 68
1650 kms / 1025 miles
78 hours
25,000 meters / 115,000 feet

Running by month

Dec - x 31 / 730 kms / 80 hours / 24,000 meters - feeling fitter than I ever have before
Nov - x 27 / 490k / 68h / 19,000m - feeling like finally back to peak fitness
Oct - x 24 / 415k / 64h / 17,000m - getting back to good again
Sept - x 31 / 300k / 68h / 12,000m - hip injury forced mostly hiking
Aug - x 23 / 461k / 76h / 21,000m - utmb
July - x 24 / 261k / 52h / 10,000m - sick + back to back dnf's
June - x 34 / 650k / 73h / 22,000m - one of my best ever mileage months
May - x 27 / 376k / 48h / 15,000m - allowed to start back on mountainous terrain
Apr - x 25 / 363k / 36h / 10,000m - still following strict mileage limits
Mar - x 30 / 361k / 45h / 9000m - building consistency
Feb - x 23 / 265k / 33h / 6000m - slow controlled build
Jan - x 21 / 163k / 18h / 3000m - fresh off of injuries

GR

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BCMC Descent FKT - 15m52s

It's rare that I have a run where I celebrate it like I've just won The Stanley Cup. Today was one of those very special days.



With perfect conditions on the local BCMC trail, which is listed as a 3.3km / 2 mile trail that loses 853 meters / 2800 feet over an average grade of 25-35%, I leaned into it and held on (stayed upright) all the way to the bottom in less than sixteen minutes.

Just last week I ran a 19m29s descent in which the conditions were a bit more complex, and I commented afterwards that I thought I could break nineteen minutes. That was my goal today. That was all I expected to see when I clicked the lap counter once I'd reached the gate at the bottom. Seeing a time of 15m52s sent me into a flurry of leaping around like an idiot.

Now this run will certainly have to be noted as a snow assisted descent, though you still have to cover the terrain underfoot. By perfect conditions I mean that there is a decent snow pack over the top portions of the route so you can really stride out over what is normally very technical terrain. The mid portion however is a bit of a slushy slip and slide and my downhill ski experience certainly contributed to keeping me upright as I slid as much as I ran through this section.

The bottom was a mix of snow, ice and then the normal rocks and roots. I managed to rip my microspikes off my feet in about six seconds flat and refused to pause my watch for any reason as I didn't want to compromise the GPS file.

I pretty much turned myself inside out on this run. I made but two missteps in the snow which cost me a few seconds and had just two hikers who refused to relinquish the trail and forced me into the knee deep snow on the sides of the trail. All in all people were incredibly accommodating, and I attempted to give them as much heads up as possible with friendly "hellos" as I approached. The run really couldn't have gone any better. My only regret is that I wasn't wearing my GoPro for the whole thing:)

What really makes this an extra special run is that I've been training my tail off in preparation for my first 100 miler in two and a half years, that being the HURT Hawaii on Jan 19th. With 115 miles / 190km in the last six days I don't get much more tired than I've been as of late, but thankfully the body has stayed strong and my mind is simply being strung along for the ride right now.

Enough blogging, it's time to convince my mind that it wants to go for yet another run already.
GR

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Another 100k On The Bike, and I Attempt To Run...



On my return drive from The Callahan after Thursday's skate ski, I could focus on but one thought, the road is completely clear of snow and ice! It's about 105-110km of riding from Squamish to The Callahan and back, and I decided that Saturday would be the perfect day to give it a go. I managed to grab another local rider and good buddy Dwayne Kress for the ride and at 9am we were off. The local weather forecast said there was a chance of flurries for the afternoon, but after deducing that it was too warm for that to occur, and that our local weatherman is on crack, sorry Russ, we departed in minimal rains. The rain seized shortly thereafter and we ended up with a perfect overcast day of about eight degrees or so. The elevation difference between Squamish and The Callahan is about 3,000 feet, but with numerous ascents and descents thrown in I'm sure total climbing on the day would exceed 5,000 feet.

Riding with Dwayne is great because his slowest speed is equal to most people's fastest...actually let me rephrase that, riding with Dwayne sucks because his slowest speed is equal to most people's fastest! By the time we had crested our first significant climb out of Squamish it felt like someone had punched me right in the I.T. Bands (glute area of butt). I knew I was in for a pretty intense ride and simply tried not to 'blow up' out there. We reached the turnoff for The Callahan in 1h45m and I believe our climb to the parking area was about another 25-30min. I was having difficulty with my shifter and ended up changing gears by simply hauling on the cable itself. Too much road gunk over the previous few days and not enough T.L.C. on my part. When we pulled into the parking area for the Nordic Venue we were greeted with some rather intriguing looks. As if timed we walked right into our buddy Munny and after a twenty minute chat and refuel we were off again.
(I find this pic hilarious because we all stuck out our tongues for some reason and I didn't even realize it until I downloaded it!)

As we were cresting the final climb of our ride the sun shot through the clouds and the temp quickly jumped up to 10-12 degrees! We quickly stopped for a photo at The Tantalus Range pullout and then bombed down the descent into town. After one final climb up into 'The Highlands' area of Squamish we stopped the clock at exactly 4hr of riding.

I remember just last year hearing some competitive riders talk about how many 100k days of riding they were logging in the month of March. It seemed insane to me to ride that far, that early in the season. In fact I vividly remember in the summer of 2005 that I commuted to Whistler for work on my bike a few times. The distance is 65km with about 4,000 feet of climbing and would take almost exactly 2hr. That 2hr ride used to absolutely destroy me! To even think about doing a 4hr ride was out of the question, my body could not handle it. So to sit here in Feb 08 having logged 2x 100k days in the last eight days alone, is to really put in perspective for me how far I have come in terms of training. Now if only I could run I might actually feel fit again...

I refueled again at home and stared out at what was now a flawless afternoon where the temp was up around 13 degrees. I had already rode 105km and was done with biking for the day, there was no way in hell I was going into a gym, and I could not run...or could I?

I figured it was time. I am potentially racing the Dirty Duo Duathlon on March 1st, a race consisting of a 25k trail run and a 30k mtn bike. I want to win it, period. Justin Mark has a three year win streak going, and Wendy Simms is always right on his heels. I managed to squeak out my first ever win in the 50k ultra run last year and there's no way in hell that I can pull of a 50 while still recovering from my injuries, so the Duo it is.

I asked Roxy if she wanted to go for a run, she had not done much of anything all day and after but ten seconds of excitement she simply rolled over and tried to go back to sleep! I asked a second time and again the same response. She had not had a big week, at least not in terms of what she normally covers, and I was wondering what was up? She answered my query immediately after I grabbed my running shoes,

"OH...YOU MEAN AN ACTUAL RUN, WITH YOU ON YOUR FEET! I thought you meant yet another sprint session of me chasing your bike for ninety minutes. A run, following you, that's easy, I'm totally down with that!"

I guess all the biking was taking it's toll on her! She was rearing to go and we were off. I told myself to not exceed thirty minutes. This was just a quick test to hopefully start getting back on my feet again.

Here were my thoughts as they happened:

-Oh God I miss this! Man I love running!
-Oh bit of foot pain, not too bad, seems to be gone.
-Huh, things are jiggling a bit more then I remember from a few weeks ago, that ain't good.
-This is nice, I'm loving this. I want to run for 3hr.

After thirty minutes I was feeling great and told myself that an hour should be alright. I'd need to be able to run at least an hour now to even contemplate racing 25k on my feet in a week! The afternoon was simply amazing, I brought my camera along and without any pressure of a pace, distance, or time, I stopped a few times to take it all in, snap some pics, and realize how much running really means to me. I would be lost without running, it's my first love in the endurance world. In fact when I first got into biking I wondered if I'd ever really 'love' biking at all! I was on the verge of selling my bike and focusing 100% on running at the end of the 2005 season. I had a string of bad races and realized that I either had to take the biking as seriously as the running, or simply give up on pursuing adventure racing competitively. Then came the Primal Quest phone call in mid September and the rest in history. Biking falls only minimally behind running as my absolute favorite thing in the world to do. It took some time to get there, but I could no longer imagine being a one sport guy.

After 1hr15min of an easy paced run, and absolutely no calf pain, I very reluctantly headed home. No need pushing things now, the day was already a success and to push now could do nothing but potentially set me back again, and besides Hockey Night In Canada, the couch and some beers had my name all over them!

Sunday, man are we totally getting spoiled with this weather, another perfect day, it's unbelievable! There must be some catastrophic weather system building out over the Pacific because the last ten days have been better than most of last summer. The forecast for tomorrow is 15 degrees, I might wear shorts to work! Anyways, I grabbed the bike and a reluctant dog and headed out for an easy paced 2.5hr ride. It was a mix of incredible riding on completely clear trails, and reviewing my knowledge of four letter words while hiking my bike through heavily snow covered routes. At least I now know where to and not to go for the next few weeks.
I managed to drag my ass to the gym, as the sun was setting, and put in a solid workout that will leave no doubt in my legs that tomorrow is indeed a rest day!

I have a friend visiting from Banff all week, should be fun. She asked me to repeat myself when I gave her the list of gear to bring along,
-Downhill skis
-Touring gear
-Trail runners
-Road bike
-Sun block
-Bathing suit...I threw that one in there for the hell of it! Who knows, my former racing partner and best bud Mark Fearman (now living in OZ) and I jumped into Alice Lake after a trail run in March of 05. We regretted it for about six hours, but we did it!

In all seriousness though, just one more reason why I love Squamish is that during my ride today I witnessed people partaking in the following sports,
-Running
-Biking
-Rock Climbing
-Golfing
-Returning from skiing
-Kayaking and
-Kite Boarding (look it up if you are not familiar, it involves water and wind!)
That's just what I witnessed, and I know there were snowshoers and x-country skiers out there as well today!

This place is like no other. Squamish Rocks!

GR

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