Friday, July 30, 2010


It has recently come to my attention that coconut juice is thought of by some as a leading beverage for hydration. By all accounts too, it makes sense. They say when you're stranded on a "deserted island", you should drink coconut juice to keep hydrated. Hey, why not, when in Rome, right? This isn't the coconut milk you'd put in a Thai-curry stir fry. The product I'm talking about is sometimes referred to as juice, but the best stuff I can find is labeled coconut water.

A quick internet search reveals that coconut water is hot right now. Everyone is promoting it's benefits and stores like Whole Foods, Price Mart, and Save on Foods are selling it in droves.

Web sites claim it to be more healthy than regular milk and orange juice. It has fewer calories than both and the added bonus is a long list of vitamins and minerals. Among the most important to the ultra runner is it's high levels of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and respectable levels of sodium and chloride - in comparison to other sports drinks that are too high in sodium, chloride, and sugar. It is lower in fat and lower in sugar than other beverages, which we know can upset our stomachs when we run long. Some folks even claim it to ease digestive processes as well. This is great news, along with the claim that it can help slow the onset of fatigue too.

One study dating back to 1979 claims that regular coconut water taken directly from the source, doesn't have enough sodium or chloride to adequately hydrate. They wrote that the addition of table salt would help to provide the necessary balance. The tetra box of passion fruit I'm enjoying presently indicates it has added sodium. Most probably do. I wasn't able to read the entire study, but I think the important stuff is just that. The following is another decent article on it's benefits.

For the health food nut and frequenter of Whole Paycheque it is claimed to be natures fruit and therefore entirely organic, but you know as well as I do that oranges, bananas, lemons, kiwis, etc., are all naturally occurring, but are still regularly over processed.

For many, I think the jury's out on this one still, but I'll tell you - I'm a believer for sure. Thanks Brad DeAbreu, I've had several longer runs with this stuff and my performance has received a boost after consumption. As well, I watched the Lazy Trail Runner drink this super hero beverage during Knee Knacker, in which he ran smooth, consistent, and recovered impeccably.

I'm sold and without question I'll be relying on Coconut juice during Stormy next Sunday, August 8th. My favorites so far are Mango and Pineapple, but check'em out yourself and try Vita-Coco.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taper Baby!

I am very excited to be tapering, baby, but the title of this blog post actually refers to the birth of my little girl, Saje, during this taper time for Stormy and ultimately, Trans Rockies. Saje Mary-Jane Craik is my Taper baby.

About three weeks ago I had the realization that Saje could possibly arrive before my last big brick weekend of five and four hours. No decent father would take off for nine hours just after the birth of his child. A couple hours maybe, but not nine. That in mind, I knew her arrival could impact my conditioning and preparation for race day. I struggled with wanting to meet her early and wanting her to go full term and to train long one last time.
Of course I made it through the big weekend and was starting to taper when she arrived. I NEVER run with my phone, it defeats the entire trail running purpose, but on July 23rd I did, for obvious reasons. I was coming down Mosquito Creek, by Mont Royal, at about 1 hour and 45 minutes, when the phone rang. It was on! I flew home and in through the door like Kramer and off we went to Lion's Gate. By 11 pm I had a daughter.She's home now and outstandingly beautiful. I couldn't love her more and getting out the door to do my last few runs has been a challenge. Not only do I not want to leave Lara alone with our little bundle of work, but also don't want to leave Saje. I was in the middle of a run Sunday and nearing two hours when suddenly I stopped, bid Coo and Holland farewell, and darted home to be wrapped around my little girls finger.

She's here now and what perfect timing with only a few short runs to go before Stormy on August 8th. There's nothing I look forward to more than seeing her little face and uncontrolled limbs at the finish line of both Stormy and Trans Rockies. Aaaaaaaaahhh, Taper Baby.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"der is a bear, over der"

"der!, der!", a family of Japanese tourists were saying, while I was out running this morning. "

"what is it?", I ask.

"der!, der!", the one with the over-sized camera says.

I look into the woods and I can't see anything. I keep looking and a huge spot of black starts moving across an old growth log covered in mossy green.

"see!, der!, der!, der!", he says again. That's when I realize he's been saying "bear!, bear!"

9 years I have been trail running across the North Shore and I've never seen or heard a bear. The odd deer has startled me and I've seen plenty of steaming, grassy, berry-filled ugliness, but never a bear. Thanks to those tourists for pointing it out. Had they not been there I wouldn't have even noticed it.

It makes me wonder how many animals I have passed in these last 9 years. And how many have watched me run by. I sometimes feel like I'm being watched, but who knows what that is. Cougars probably. Both types.

Anyway, I have seen my first North Shore black bear. It was huge and I'll happily keep the same 25 foot gap for my next encounter.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Runner's Education"

For those of you who aren't from around North Vancouver you wouldn't know the Knee Knacker was this last weekend. You might event wonder what that is. It's not the guy who Tanya Harding hired to bash up Nancy Kerrigan. It's a 30 mile trail run over some of the most technical and steep trails North Vancouver has to offer. It's super fun and incredibly well organized. I think they say there are two volunteers for every racer.
Like many ultras these days, there's a lottery to get in. My name wasn't pulled from the proverbial hat this year, but I really enjoyed the race in another way. First of all, I volunteered to mark the first quarter of the course during pre-race week. I just wanted to part of it. On race day however, I saw a side of the Knacker I'd never seen. Bouncing from aid station to aid station I was out to crew for Captain Duncan Coo - The Lazy Blogger, or the Lazy Trail Runner.

It was a blast. Watching the racers come through each aid station, the diverse interactions each had with volunteers, the emotions some carried, and the cheers of other spectators. People are so nice to each other. It takes an incredible kindness to sit in the forest all day so that runners can eat, drink, and feel supported while they run. What a commitment? Not all racers recognized it either. To be quite frank, some runners were right out rude. They didn't say thank you, give a quick nod, or even make eye contact to imply some silent gratitude.

One runner that exemplifies respect for the volunteer and the heaps of work that goes into races is Gary Robbins. He approached each station with a huge smile and so much genuine gratitude. This guy runs happy. Very happy. And I mean the whole way. Every time I saw him he was smiling and he took the time to interact with the people around him Maybe it's because he has helped organize races and understands the behind the scenes? Maybe it's because he's becoming an icon in the community and being a jerk is a bad idea? I believe it's the former in addition to the fact that he's a genuinely nice guy.

On that, maybe everyone should have to experience the bigger picture behind racing. How it is organized? Who gets it done? Perhaps working at an aid station would change the perspectives of those less grateful runners? It's a huge project behind the scenes. While racers tie up their shoes and run, others are stuffing bags, marking courses, buying aid station food, registering, getting prizes, seeking out sponsorship, securing permits, organizing timing, organizing volunteers, putting together an amazing banquet, and...well the list is huge.
Let's call it "Runners Education", the idea that runners should partake in more than just being a participant in a race. It's not just understanding ones own gate, stride length, splits, shoe choice, nutrition, etc. To be fully "Runner Educated"one must view running/racing in a more holistic way. The educated runner would recognize the vast amount of planning and community participation behind running by being involved in alternative areas. This recognition would come from volunteering at races, and/or supporting a friend or stranger who runs.

My thinking is that runners who take the time to be "Runner Educated" may view volunteers and race planning in an entirely different way the next time they race. Let's face it, a quick smile and a thank you to those around you never ruined anyone's race. Try it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Laugh at the Ultra Runner

Fellow Flight Crew member Adam Campbell posted this spoof on ultra runners and it's a must see for any runner. Take the seven minutes and have a giggle. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Adam.

ULTRA RUNNER from Cedar Wright on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Knee Knacker - A Course Marker's View

Just back from three hours of marking the first quarter of the Knee Knacker and I am thrilled to report phenomenal conditions. This first quarter is usually the section that presents the most amount of trail adversity with the years of snow and mud. In light of this weeks forecast the drying will continue and the snow will melt away and we might see a renewed race course record.
The climb up out of Nelson Creek is still steep and worth a slow start, but very dry and still loamy as ever. There are no surprises here until after the bluffs atop Black Mountain. Racers should take a short look out across the city, over Bowen Island and into Georgia Straight, but be prepared for the mud hole. About 5 or 10 minutes after entering the forest, there is a true mother of a hole that will certainly bring you to your knees without permission. It got Tundra, the dog we ran with tonight. Other typically muddy and snowy spots are quickly drying and melting as I write this. For those racers on the social racer's program, Cabin Lake is entirely melted if you wish to stop and swim. The decent down into Cypress Bowl is still a painful and ugly rock path and it will likely be dry enough to cause some slip style falls.
Dry, dusty, and loose rocks are never your friend. Beware!

This is as far as we ran before Glenn pulled out the beers and Ms. Vickies', but Brent and Rick, who also marked the course assured me the course from Cypress to Cleveland is in terrific shape. They told me the snow across Hollyburn is pretty much gone and the ripper down through the chute to the dam was dry and ready a couple weeks ago when I ran it.
I'm not going to start picking race favorites and pretending I know enough to predict times, but I have suspicions that we'll see course records in the men's and women's fields. We may even see the first woman ever to run under five hours.
I was disappointed not to race Knee Knacker this year, but I have been reassured by many that I'll be Okay in Stormy, my first 50 miler. Knee Knacker is great event that I am proud to have helped with, even a little bit last night.

This years course is fast and I can't wait to be out there playing Crew Manager for Duncan Coo, the Lazy Trail Runner, this weekend. Those quads have a secret. Letchford: Vitamin "I" and a Terry Fox type gate gets the IT through anything. Tran: You're ready. Start slow, eat and drink well, and look forward to checking this off your list.