Wednesday, September 30, 2009

C.P.R.

Two years ago a good friend came to me and said, "I have a great idea! We get a bunch of guys together, no woman, and ride Comfortably Numb, Party at my condo in Whistler and wake up the next day to run Rubble Creek". And thus, C-P-R was born. It sounded easy enough and it sounded fun. The first year we accomplished the ride and the run, but fell asleep long before any sort of party broke out. This past weekend was the second annual CPR and we changed things up by running Rubble Creek Saturday and then riding the Gear Jammer course on Sunday. It was a perfectly gorgeous weekend with some of the best guys in the world.

Saturday morning the Lazy Trail Runner and I met Rob, Bob "the lung", and Dr. Darin, at Bean Around the World on Westview. In two cars, we caravaned to Whistler Creekside, where we would drop our bikes and begin running from Cheakamus Lake. The ascent through loamy pine forest was gorgeous and pictures were a must, until I realized of course, I was way behind. A few pics and the boys had dropped me. Bob "the lung" was setting a break -neck pace and the others followed suit. This wasn't what I had expected, but I put the pedal to the metal and caught up... to Duncan and the Doc that is. Bob and Rob were gone and I didn't see them again until Helm Meadows, where the alpine really begins. I had conceded to taking pictures and ran alone a fair bit. The Lazy Trail Runner slowed up too and we cruised the run through Taylor Meadows and down Rubble Creek switchbacks to the parking lot. The alpine part of this run is second to none. With Black Tusk in the backdrop and blue sky above you can't ask for a lot more. If you run the switchbacks fast your quads pay the next day and I knew how long our ride was meant to be on Sunday. My left ankle was acting up a bit again anyway, so slow was fine with me. When we arrived at the lot we were greeted by Mike Tunnah, who brought cold beers, and had cleaned all the baby stuff out of his van to shuttle us back to our start point.

That night we returned to Rob's condo for some beers, chips and salsa, and great conversation. In the village , we later ate pasta and calamari. What a crew? With sleepy eyes, we downed our food and made our way home to watch a romantic comedy (The Breakup) and fall asleep. Sounds like a date doesn't it? It wasn't. Nobody spooned and everyone went to their own beds...even The Lazy Trail Runner.

The next morning, after a huge omelette at the Wildwood, in Function Junction, we drove to Squamish and hit the trails. Parking at the top of Perth is the best spot ever because you drop into Lumberjack's and everything feels flowy and perfect. There's no other way to start a ride. From there we rolled up Jack's, through Alice Lake, we did Ed's Bypass, flew down Rock n' Roll, Rob's and Cliff's, over to Skookum and Powersmart, and then flanked across to Recycler (Mike coming out of Recycler on right) and Pseudotsuga , and over George's crossing. The gang that hammered the day before were starting to get tired and decided to skip The Plunge, but the best part of the day was yet to come. Mike, who has spent heaps of time riding in Squamish, told us about another trail that none of us had been on..."Word of Mouth". He knew the way for once and we followed like puppies. This trail was incredible. It was super soft, rolly, steep in parts, and slightly technical. After going over the handle bars twice it spit us out above Quest University and we rode back to our cars to head home. All I could think about was a cold Coke. Since China, I'm totally into cold Coke after exercise. Weird, huh?
Anyway, it was an amazing weekend of exercise and friends even though we failed to "party" again. I suppose I'd rather party on the trails than at night over beers. Thanks again to the CPR gang. I can't wait until next year. Maybe Manning or the Sunshine Coast?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

5 Peaks at Buntzen~Diez Vistas

I woke up about 4:00 am to the sound of rain drops dripping off the trees outside my apartment, and my cat hacking up a hair ball on the window ledge, but that's not the point. The sound of rain drops is never a sound you want to hear on race day, unless of course you look forward to puddles, slippery roots, and slick rock, which I did. I quietly cheered and rolled over for a few more hours of shut eye.
This morning would be the final race in the 5 Peaks series at Buntzen Lake. This is a course I have run in the past, but with poor experience. In fact, this location was my first ever trail race and I managed to fall on some nasty roots and bash my right knee in. The scar is still there to remind me. Anyway, I was totally uncertain how this race was going to go. Since Whistler I've put in some decent training runs, but nothing that would tell the tale of race day. All I knew was that this course had the potential to chew me up and spit me out especially under the days conditions.
Coffee down the hatch with a bottle of water, a gel, and some oatmeal, there we stood at the south end of Buntzen Lake, under looming clouds and the Salomon start line. Shoulder to shoulder with Flight Crew teammate Duncan Coo and the count down began. On "go!" I was certain I saw Coo, author of the Lazy Trail Runner , do his impression of Usain Bolt off the line. He was gone and I knew I had to let him go. There was no way I was going to keep that pace, not for 15.5 km.
I started slowly, knowing of the climb to come. I had to let several folks run by, but reminded myself to run my own race. Red lining it too early never works out in running. You never get it back. As racers around me found their places on the 3 km climb to the top of Diez Vistas, I started to feel my legs settling into a very comfortable pace. The top of the climb came quickly and I seemed to have that light, bouncy feeling we all covet while running. It's not often a runner gets that feeling on race day and it helped me to drop the heavy breathing of the racers behind me, just as the sun came out from behind the clouds. I was all by myself the entire distance across the bluffs above Indian Arm. At about kilometer 10 the trail descends steeply and is extremely technical. It was at that point that I rolled over on my left ankle, which I've been nursing for the past few weeks, and my pace slowed significantly. It's interesting what the human body will do in those situations. I managed to continue running by staying on my toe and making certain not to fully load the ankle. What was interesting to me was how I had slowed my pace yet my heart rate and breathing went through the roof. Within a few minutes my body had delivered the appropriate repairs to my ankle and I was ticking over like it had never happened at all. I knew it would hurt later, but the race was on.
As I had planned, I had saved enough energy to really start turning over for the last 5k of the course. This section has fewer long, steep hills than the rest of the course and is primarily pea gravel and non-technical. This was my chance to reel in the Lazy Trail Runner. Hoping he was slowing down because of his fast start this race was on. Over the last couple kilometers the announcer's voice was loud and clear and I was listening for Coo's name at the finish, but nothing. At 1:29 I crossed the finish line and Coo was nowhere. Maybe he went straight to the food, which would be very Coo, or to the bathroom? Just then his name was called and he was ripping across the finish line. Somehow I was disillusioned at the race start and the Lazy Trail Runner told me he had followed me. I was the one who led from the start. He said I lost him on the climb while his legs felt like they were full of sand.
Standing in the sun, while nursing our muscles in Buntzen Lake, we cheered as others finished the enduro, sport and half marathon courses, including good friends Kevin Letchford and Linda (Trinh) Tran, who both had excellent races. It was a great day and both the Lazy Trail Runner and I left with some hardware. We managed third place in the 30-39 and 40-49 age groups respectively, while Coo walked away with second place for the season in his age group. Way to go, man.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Katherine and Mark and all the volunteers at 5 Peaks for an amazing race season. You all put together a brilliant show. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Walk in the Park

As the kiddies ready themselves for school and the long weekend signifies the end of play time, a few of us headed out for a last blast at some fun. Four of us piled into Kev's four wheel sleigh, the Outback, and made our way to Kelowna, my home town.
Saturday was an amazing day of road riding as we meandered through orchards, back roads, and golf courses. This time of year Kelowna is a dream. It's cool in the mornings, the smell of fall burning is in the air, fresh Macs are dangling off the trees tempting you to pluck one and run, and the occasional thunder storm rips through. At about 50k, that's exactly what was about to happen. We saw the storm clouds brewing and headed for home...dry clothes, tuna sandwiches, tea, and Kev's mom's cookies. A perfect end to a ride and a totally reasonable rationale for shortening the ride.

Sunday morning looked perfect. It was to be run day and what better place to go than Okanagan Mountain Park on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake. It's just down the road. Although the morning was sunny, it was clear that a storm was mixing. On our way out we met up with a big black bear who was fixin' to relieve a local farmer of some fresh fruit. That wasn't too far from the trail head so we were left a bit unnerved. I think Linda said it best when she said, "okay, so nobody gets dropped today, okay?"
The trail up the grassy, yellow hillside was beautiful as dark clouds mounted on the west side of the lake. Our decent into Wild Horse Canyon was not steep, but sure long. We noticed the length on the way back as our little legs sucked up what little they could of the dry, Okanagan air. We did end up running through a short thunder storm, but nothing we couldn't handle. A brief stop under a log to keep dry was quickly remedied by the realization that we were getting wet anyway, and a "what the hell?, it's summer in the Okanagan". Duncan coaxed us out into the grass and we continued on through the burned out landscape of the 2003 fire.I wore the S Labs again, easily my favorite shoes these days, and they really performed well. Even in the soaking wet grasslands of Okanagan Mountain Park, the contagrip sole stuck like glue. I'm McLovin'em. I think the picture below really says it all...S Labs are a stand out shoe...and there's a hint of XA Pro 3D back there too.I tried to spare you the entire written story of the weekends run and created a little video. Hope you enjoy the video and that you're all out there playing hard, even though summer is officially over.

video
And a reminder, if you're interested in great Salomon gear for excellent prices, make sure you find time to get down to the showroom this weekend. Check out my previous blog for details.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Salomon Gear...Come and Get It!

11km around Buntzen Lake. "Oh, it's just an orientation jaunt", everyone was saying. "Not to worry, nobody will be running too quickly." Yeah right! 30 or so folks showed up. About 20 went up over Diez Vistas (the Enduro course), and the rest ran the lower loop (the sport course). I helped lead the lower loop and these people were clipping along pretty wicked fast. For an orientation run I'd say it was fast. It was more like people were trying to orient themselves to their competition on the 19th. Whatever it was, it was a highly successful day and I hope we'll try to make these things happen again next year too.

It made sense for people to try out the best of Salomon's trail shoes in a non-race environment and really get a feel for several products. It was so good to see some first time trail runners test out a proper trail shoe and compare it to their road shoe. I'd like to think Salomon helped turn some long time road runners into newbie trail runners.

Newbies or not, runners or not, Salomon will be selling off a heap of their 2009 and 2010 product this coming weekend. I visited the crew in the store last week and there's a pile of great pieces at crazy prices. I've attached the invite and directions below. Hope you get a chance to come out. If not, I hope it's because your running Loop the Lakes in Squamish. Hey, maybe shop Saturday and race Sunday?

2009/10 SALOMON FACTORY SAMPLE SALE

Ski Outerwear * Nordic Apparel * Athletic Apparel

Footwear * Packs * Gloves * Accessories * & More…

Limited Selection of Ski & Nordic Hardgoods

Winter & Summer Product

50% OFF EVERYTHING (TAX INCLUDED)

Saturday September 12th 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Sunday September 13th 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: 320 Harbour Ave, North Vancouver, B.C.

(Just off Main St. on Harbour Ave. beside Canadian Tire. See map below)

** Cash Only **All Sales Final **