November in Review

puddleNovember is probably my least favorite month.  It is drab and dreary and very uninspiring.  Daylight Savings Time kicks my ass every year, and this year was even worse than usual.   For the first 2 weeks of the month I just wanted to hibernate.  It didn’t help that I was battling a lingering cold that just would not quit.  My daily routine was work/run/eat/sleep. ( not necessarily in that order)

Thank goodness I got out of that rut quickly.   I know others that haven’t been able to shake the November doldrums and I consider myself fortunate that I escaped so easily.

snowyIf October was all about Recovery, then November was all about the Base.  My plans for 2018 include the Hypothermic Half Marathon in February and then an Autumn marathon.  ( I have it narrowed down to 2 possibilities.)   Training will begin in earnest in December, but first I wanted to establish a solid foundation upon which to build. I threw in a few speedwork sessions with short intervals just to keep it fun.  One of my many goals ( I have several) is to improve my 5k speed.  In October I established a base line speed of 30:08 in my #search4speed and this month I  ran it in 30:00.  #gettingbettereveryday

Of course I ran every day in November because that is what I do.  I upped the ante this month by running a minimum of 5k every day instead of my usual minimum of 2k. It went surprisingly well.  I am considering extending this streak-within-a-streak to 100 days of 5k’s. .  We’ll see how it goes.   If my body says “no way” I will stop

DPWM--aVAAA20TYA November review wouldn’t be complete without giving a nod to my Streakaversary.  On November 30, 2014 I started a Christmas Advent Run Challenge.  One thing led to another and before I knew it I was committed to running every day in 2015… and beyond.  It is hard to remember what it is like to NOT run every day. .

Mileage for the month was 136.5 miles (219km) , which was one of my highest totals ever.  I feel like I have a nice solid base now, and will start the next phase of Half Marathon Training next week.

Is Christmas season a good time to start training?  I’ll let you know how it goes…

How are you adjusting to the shorter, colder days of November?  Any special plans or goals for December.

 

 

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Soaking It All In / November

starkAs a runner I am very aware of how the weather is affected as one season transitions into the next.  Right now we are smack dab in the middle of November and are experiencing dreary weather that is typical of this time of year. October was fantastic….. glorious sunny days that just begged for you to don your shorts and running shoes and get out there to enjoy nature up  close and personal.  But then we had to turn that calendar page….

 

snowyShortly after October became November, we were also required to turn back the clocks one hour.  Daylight Savings Time kicks my ass every year and I just want to snuggle with Blankie and Pillow until April.  But there is that pesky business of a Run Streak to deal so every day I choose to unass the couch and take that  first difficult step out the door.

 

 

shoesMany of my running friends have hung up their running shoes and don’t plan to get them out again until April.  With this chilly gray weather I can understand their motives for Not Running and sometimes I  have a fleeting thought that this would be a really  good idea.   But then I remember that I am not ready to end this run streak yet so off I go.  Mostly I am grateful for the discipline of the Streak that motivates me to get dressed  and get out there every day.  Every. Damned. Day.

puddle.jpgThe weather is going to get worse before it gets better.  That is a guarantee.  We can choose to hate it or we can learn to embrace  to it.  I choose to get out there every day and just soak it all in.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to gather some layers for today’s run.   The weather man tells me that it is -7C.

Hey, at least it’s not raining!

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

Word of the Day / Ebullient

Ebullient : Overflowing with fervor, excitement, or enthusiasm

There is a brand new Goodlife Fitness Center in my city and I was excited to check it out.  Upon entering I was warmly greeted by an ebullient  young attendant who gave me a quick tour of the facilities. As we chatted he advised me that they offer a free one hour session with a personal trainer who will outline which training options are available to me.  When he asked what my workout goals were I replied that I was interested in cross training that would complement my running goals, and  that I would especially be interested in meeting with a trainer who was familiar with Running.  He immediately made an appointment for me with Kristen ( not her real name) who happens to be a runner.

Kristen was nearby so she was called over to meet me.   She too radiated ebullience.  When she learned that I was a runner, she said, ” Cool, so you run, like, marathons and stuff? ” I assured here that I did indeed run, like,  marathons and stuff.  She told me that she had just run a local marathon.  When I asked her how it went, she told me that it was great and she finished in 28 minutes.  It was then that I realized that she had done the 5k version of the marathon.  *face palm*

My  training session is scheduled for next week and I am looking forward to spending an hour with Kristen. She is a very enthusiastic individual who obviously loves her job so it should be a pleasant experience.  I am confident that she will be able to teach this old dog some new tricks. And maybe I can convince her to train for the 42.2km version of a marathon.

 

 

 

 

October in Review

DMx4vRXW4AApsQ3.jpgOctober was (mostly) a Recovery Month for me.  My plan was to spend a whole month recovering from September’s Fundy Circuit 50k Trail Run.  But first there was a pesky Cape Chignecto Round the Cape 24k Trail Run to get through on October 8 .  When I registered for this event, I didn’t check  my event calendar and didn’t realize that race was only 15 days after the Fundy 50. This meant that the first week of October was spent trying to find the balance between Maintaining Fitness and Recovery.  Mostly it was short easy runs, with a couple of longer runs thrown into the mix.

As expected, I was not in top form at Cape Chignecto and it took a lot of effort to finish DFL ( Dead Fucking Last) but it was an amazing experience.  If you are not a trail runner, I encourage  you to try it.  There is nothing more therapeutic than embracing nature and feeling it with all of  your senses. But that is a topic for another day.

DL4RVa9VQAAyZCHBecause I am a Run Streaker I run at least 2k a day, even after a tough event. It was no surprise that my first few runs after Chignecto were hard.  In addition to the usual DOMS, I was weary.  My runs felt laborious.  But I kept running because that it what I do.  The weather was beautiful and it seemed a shame to NOT run.  There was a lot of slow running ( and some fast walking)  in October!  And yes, I was beginning to get discouraged because it felt like I had lost my level of fitness forever.

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Oh, and I caught a cold.  The lingering kind that doesn’t get really bad but just seems to go on forever and makes you feel tired all the time.  For the last 3 weeks my days have been a pattern of Work, Sleep, Run, Eat, not necessarily in that order.

By the end of the month it was beginning to get easier and I started thinking about new goals.   I want to work on increasing speed over the winter, specifically 5k distance.   On October 26 I established a baseline time of 30:08 as my starting point.  It’s not nearly as fast as my previous best ( 29:02) but it is the best that I can do right now.  Lol.. it was only two weeks ago that I struggled to do that distance in less than 32 minutes so I am quite pleased with it.

Total mileage for the month was 116 miles, ( 187km) slightly above average for me but they were mostly easy-pace miles just for pleasure.  It was lovely to just get out there to enjoy the warm October sunshine and to crunch though the autumn leaves.  Our warm  weather was a gift, and it would have been a shame to waste it.

I have a couple of stupid-crazy goals for November and I am looking forward to that challenge.

Have any of  you been enjoying a gorgeous autumn?

Cheers! 20171031_184314

 

Race Review – 5 Peaks Round the Cape

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This was my second trail race. The first one took place 15 days earlier when I ran the Fundy Circuit 50k.  This one took place in Cape Chignecto  Provincial Park in Nova Scotia. Like Fundy Park, Cape Chignecto overlooks the Bay of Fundy.  As the matter of fact they are directly across the Bay from each other,  though they are about a 3 hour drive apart.

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I hadn’t planned to run two trail races so close together.  As the matter of fact I hadn’t planned to run two trail races at all. I expected my running season to come to an end after the Fundy Circuit.

My friend Paul is the race director of this inaugural 5 Peaks event.    His enthusiasm was contagious and before I knew it, I was registered for the 24k.   Too late, I realized that it was  a mere 2 weeks after my first Ultra Trail Run.  Oh well.. how hard can it be, right?

22366295_10155478274041140_4256752716183871479_nThere were approximately 70 people registered for the 24k distance.  In a quirky nod to the famed Barclay marathon, the start line was a gate.  Everyone lined up in front of the gate waiting for the cue to start.  I  waited for the ceremonial lighting of the cigarette to signal the race start, but it was merely a Ready, Set, Go! and we were off.

My friend Michelle was also running the same distance and we met up before the race began.  We planned to run individually, as a trail run is a very personal journey.   We did cover the first couple of kilometers together before she started picking it up a bit and pulled ahead.  She is a faster runner than me so I didn’t expect to see her again until after the turnaround point.

The elevation on this course is crazy.. an elevation gain of over 1200 meters.   By the 4k mark, the hills and humidity were playing havoc with Michelle’s asthma.  As I overtook her on a hill I could see that she was struggling and I stopped to ask if she was ok.   We crawled up the hill together and then opted for a slow pace to give her the opportunity to recover. By unspoken agreement we remained together for the rest of the race.

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At 6k was the first water station, located at Mill Brook Canyon. The descent into the canyon is very steep, and we knew it would be a challenge on the way back. I should mention that there are viewpoints along the way to look out over the scenic Minas Basin.  The tide was coming in and Hurricane Nate provided some strong winds and the waves crashing against the cliffs were incredible.  This portion of the trail was mostly single track, with bridges and stairs.  There was never any danger of going off course as the trail was very well marked.

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We paused briefly at the water station to top up our bottles and then we were on our way again. What goes down must go up and that is exactly where the trail went via a series of switchbacks that went on forever.  As we rounded each corner we thought we were at the top, only to be astonished to see even more hill!  Somehow we made our way to the top where we were greeted by superb volunteers at the Arch Gully Aid Station. (8k)

Two tables were laden with food for our refueling needs, including a large bowl of cubed cooked potatoes with a bowl of salt for dipping.  I snagged some potatoes and candy (jujubes, I think? ) refilled my water and Gatorade bottles and off we went.  We were about 4k from the turnaround point, and this part of the trail was a delight.  The wind was howling among the treetops but caressed us with only a slight breeze as we skipped over roots and rocks. This was my probably my favorite part of the trail.  We started meeting runners who were on the return trip and we stepped off the single track trail to allow them to pass.    Several of them spoke encouraging words to us, and  a few of them hinted at an “awesome view” that marked the turnaround point.

The  trail ended at an access road that took us down to Refugee Cove.  Never-ending hills seemed to be a recurring theme on this course, and this downslope was no exception.  Every time we rounded the corner we expected to see the beach but it continued to elude us.  Our Garmins were measuring 12k so we were mentally ready to reach the turnaround point. Finally.. we saw an opening though the trees and knew that we had made it to the bottom.  The view that greeted us was spectacular.  It was nearing High Tide and the waves crashing on the rocks was phenomenal. It is very exhilarating to experience nature so fully.

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A photographer was there taking race photos and she told us that the turnaround point was another 400 meters.  What..?  Weren’t we at the turn around point?  Wearily we trudged the remaining distance before turning around to head back up that hill.  By now we were both weary so we walked / speed hiked a lot during the return trip. My Garmin died somewhere along the way and I had no idea how far we had come, nor how far we had to go. The only thing on my mind at this point was reaching Arch Gully as I suddenly had an odd hankering for potatoes. Finally we caught sight of the red and white Gatorade dispenser through the foliage and gratefully stopped to refuel and rehydrate.  Potatoes and M&M`s might seem to be a weird flavor combination but they really hit the spot.

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Refreshed, we set off knowing that it was all downhill..  and then uphill … from there. The switchbacks were just as tricky going down as they were going up and we were glad to reach the bottom.  And then…. the highlight of the route… Mill Brook Hill. This is a beast of a hill and I can`t even find any words to adequately describe it.  We tackled it slowly and eventually reached the top, stopping several times to rest.  The remainder of the course was relatively easy but we were exhausted so we speed-walked for most of it.

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As we approached the Finish Line we made a pact to stay together and touch the gate at the same time so we could share the coveted  DFL status.   Somehow I messed up and touched the gate a half a second after Michelle so I get sole possession of Dead Fucking Last. Yay, me!

There was only a smattering of people around when we dragged our asses to the Finish Line, but they offered genuine congratulations and made us feel like rockstars before ushering us inside to eat, drink and be merry.  And we received cool Master of Hills Diplomas. Sweet!

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Kudos to the organizers and volunteers who made this event so successful.  I would recommend this event to top level athletes who are looking for a challenging run.  It is also a great run for average people ( like me) who like to push their limits, are prepared to work hard to get to Start Line and are too stubborn to quit.  The cut off time is very generous ( 6 hours to reach 16k) so it is very doable.  It’s not easy, but it is achievable.

Will I do it again?  Six days ago I would have said.. not a chance!  But now I would say..  Absolutely.

Next year there is a 50k option.. Hmmmmm…..

Credit to Race Photographer Elita Rahn who  gave me permission to use her photos. You can see the rest of her race photos here

 

 

Word of the Day – Legerity

Legerity- Alert facile quickness of mind or body

Trail running is not for the faint of heart, nor the clumsy of foot.  One must be constantly aware of the ever changing terrain and be able to react quickly to avoid obstacles such as rocks and roots.

Today I had the opportunity to check out a small section of the Cape Chignecto trail, where I will be running the Round the Cape 24k Event next weekend.  What a ruggedly beautiful trail.  Today I chose to do a 5k Loop, which begins at the Red Rock beach area near the Visitor Center.   You gotta love a route that begins on a beach, especially a Bay of Fundy beach. I should mention that this section of the trail is accessible only at low tide.

At the 1.5 km mark there are stairs that take you up to the main trail. Another 500 meters of vertical climb over roots and rocks requires a certain amount of Legerity if you wish to remain upright.  This technical trail loops through pristine forests, eventually descending back down to the Visitor center.

It is truly a spectacular place and I am looking forward to running here next weekend.

 

Monticule – Word of the Day

Monticule – a small mountain, hill or mound.

Hubby spoils me. He does the laundry most of the time so I seldom have the opportunity to do it. With one runner in the family, there is always laundry to do but I have been fortunate to have one of those Magic laundry hampers. You know the kind I mean.. you toss your dirty clothes in it and within a few days those clothes are laundered, folded and stacked in a neat pile on the bed. Magic!

Hubby is away this week and that hamper has lost it’s magic.  This morning I went to grab a pair of shorts for my daily run, and there were no clean pants to be found.  I checked the laundry hamper and was horrified to see a monticule of dirty clothes inside.  There is only one person in the household this week. How can one person generate so much laundry?

I considered my options…. do laundry or go shopping..? Laundry won.  But first.. I dug out my cleanest pair of dirty shorts and went for a run while the washing machine agitated my clothes.

Laundry done and hubby coming home tonight with a week’s worth of his own dirty clothes. I hope the magic returns to that laundry hamper.

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