Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Welcome to my first 2014 posting. I hope all of your running has been going well and that you are excited for the upcoming season wherever you may be. Perhaps some of you are going to try your first ultra and others will be looking to complete their first 100 or check off a bucket race that they've always wanted to compete in. Whatever your goals and plans I hope you achieve all of them. 

2013 was a busy ultra season and come October I took a  much needed rest. My plan to enter the winter 100 mile Beast of Burden (BoB) did not work out. A month and a half of rest is a long time and when I started training I found it tough going. I felt so slow and building up took time. I was not getting in quality runs or good mileage. I'd complete 20 miles in one week, then 30, then 15, etc. and then I'd pull a hamstring, then get a cold and it was one thing after another. I reconsidered doing the BoB 50 mile instead but realized I would probably do miserably in it also and in the last week got a cold so that made the final decision for me. My ultra friend Steven Parke won the race and I'm really happy for him. All his training paid off and he is going to be very strong this summer. 

During the winter I found two US races that really appealed. One was the Lake Tahoe 200 mile inaugural race - I'm DEFINITELY doing this some year. The scenery looks incredible. They chose a lottery system and I did not apply but this is an ultra I have to do! Another US race is the Eastern States 100 [link]. It is a 100 mile point to point course and has about 20,000 feet of elevation gain. There are a few Ontario ultra people entered and in the winter it was already sold out so I signed up on a long waiting list and recently got accepted so that one is in mid August.

I then looked at the OUS (Ontario Ultra Series) list of races. My friend Diane (organizer of the Dirty Girls 12/24/48 hour) has put together another incredible ultra which is first on the OUS calendar called the Laura Secord Memorial 25 and 100 km (A Civilian/Military Ultra Trail Race to recognize the role of women in defending Canada[link]. A new event this year, it begins inside Short Hills Provincial Park and takes you East along the Bruce Trail, and then returns to Short Hills and goes out West to Beamsville and finally returns to Short Hills where you finish. 

The start is located 20 minutes from me. It is mostly single track and it is not for the faint-hearted (then again, any ultra race is not for the feint-hearted but that's why we do it) but it is beautiful. Now, many of you will know some of the history of Laura Secord, a famous figure in Canadian history. This race does not re-trace the route she took which is about 25 miles in total and is now very urbanized. The total elevation gain is 2,257 so not huge by mountain standard races but for Ontario it's pretty good and we go up and down the Niagara Escarpment a number of times. The race is April 5th which is coming up quickly.

Another race which I have entered is Sulphur Springs in May and while I considered the 100 miler as I've done the 50 mile last year, in the end I decided to do the 50 miler again. Whether I can improve on my time I don't know at this point but I feel more comfortable with the idea of doing the 50 here and ramping up the training for Eastern States. At this point those are the only races I've committed myself to. 

One other commitment I've made this August (a week after Eastern States) is to help one of our fellow ultra runners on a quest she has to run the entire Bruce Trail from it's northern most point in Tobermory to Niagara. I won't be doing the entire route with her but will help her over either 1 or 2 days once she gets down this way. Her name is Rhonda-Marie Avery. She'll be aiming to run up to 50km a day and will start at 4-5am each day over 20 or so days. The Bruce Trail is close to 900km in length! This would be a big enough feet (intentional spelling mistake :)) on it's own but Rhonda is legally blind. I first met Rhonda last year at the Dirty Girls 48 hour race. She had a guide runner during the day but at night ran on her own. I learned there are rod receptors in the eye that focus light - anyway, I'm not that technical but the rods that help her see at night work better and so she actually sees better in the dark - which is why she wears dark sunglasses during the daylight (she's not just a fashioneista). She will have two guide runners with her each day of her trek and I'm really happy she asked me to be one of her guides. She has a blog and the journey she has named 'Envisions' [link]

Training over the last 4-6 weeks has been good with a high of 83 miles but I need those types of weekly miles and long runs for about 20 weeks and there is now only 1.5 weeks left - gulp! Anyway, I'll do what I can. There are allot of good runners coming to this race and I'll be happy to see familiar faces and look forward to hearing what they think about the course. Of course I'll give you a blow-by-blow after the fact but thought I'd give you a quick update about my winter training. The usual hip problems are still there and Voltaren Gel manages the discomfort. My speed is not what it was but has improved since I got back into regular 5-7 days a week training.

I'm sure everybody living in Ontario is SICK TO DEATH of all the snow and icy temperatures this winter. The trails still have ice on them and so it is a guess at this point whether we'll have icy or muddy trails. I got a new pair of running shoes which were sorely needed. My two others have seen far too many miles. For the first time ever I've gone for a new company after hearing some good things about the cushioning, if not the looks. I'm talking about the Hoka One One Stinson Trail shoes. Everything prior was always Asics for me but I'm frustrated by the ankle problems, blisters and hot spots I seem to always end up with. I have tried them twice so far. One time was a 10km in the Bruce Trail and it was icy but the grip was excellent and they handled well and the other was a 10 mile road run and again no issues. I'm going to take a chance and wear them on the 100km so I'll let you know if I survive without issues.

Look back soon and I'll give you a blow-by-blow of the Laura Secord 100. Good luck to all of you and I hope I see some of you out there giving it your best :) I have no time expectations. I want to finish it in good spirits and enjoy the race. Maybe I will enjoy it more if I treat it as an experience rather than a race and maybe that way I'll pace myself better. Still no GPS watch but intend to start slow. Take care everybody and wish me luck :)