December 28, 2010

Snowflakes and Smiles on the Road to Recovery

Today I ran for 9 minutes, walked for one. I repeated that 3 times. I am ecstatic! It was a dark and snowy run. It was about minus 5 as I headed out after work and ran listening to the crunch of the snow under my feet and seeing the street lights reflect off the bright white snow. And I ran for total 27 minutes!! Yes, you are reading the right blog, Ellie the ultra trail runner is ecstatic with a 27 minute road run :) Since getting injured (SI joint) about a month ago I have not been able to run at all until last week. Instead it has been regular physio sessions, twice daily physio exercises and the stepper and recumbent bike at the gym. It's been easier than it would have been at any other time of year as I had planned to take December as an easy month anyway but to go from running almost daily to no running at all has not been fun! Skiing has been my saviour to at least somehow be able to get outside and enjoy the mountain air.

Last Wednesday, about 30mins after getting the ok from the physio, I was trying my first run on the treadmill. 1 minute run, 1 minute walk. 5 times. It was slow, it was painful and it was frustrating after all the work I had put in to heal fast. But having stuck to my run schedule I am seeing I can now run 27mins in less pain than I could run 5 minutes in just 7 days ago - yay! After my first attempt at running on the treadmill I have done all my runs outside, at first I thought this would be frustrating to head out of the door for a run to come back less than 30 minutes later but at least it seems like a real run rather than a painful treadmill session.

So if all things carry on going well then I hope to be running for one full hour in a weeks time! Of course, I am sure there will be set backs and there is still some pain when running and it is hardly at a killer pace but at least it is moving in the right direction. My first race of 2011 is a half marathon in Vancouver in mid-February. I had hoped to get some short fast work outs in the try improve my half marathon time, and there is still some chance of that, but if not it will be a race for the fun of it and I'll just be glad to be back racing!

My 14 day schedule, of which I am now on day 7, has been:

Day 1 - 1min run, 1 min walk, x 5 = 10mins

Day 2 - rest

Day 3 - 2min run, 1 min walk, x 5 = 15mins

Day 4 - 3min run, 1 min walk, x 5 = 20mins

Day 5 - rest

Day 6 - 4min run, 1min walk, x 5 = 25mins

Day 7 - 9min run, 1min walk, x 3 = 30mins

Day 8 - 9min run, 1min walk, x 4 = 40mins

Day 9 - rest

Day 10 - 14min run, 1min walk, x 3 = 45mins

Day 11 - 20min run

Day 12 - 9min run, 1min walk, x 5 = 50mins

Day 13 - 14min run, 1min walk, x 4 = 60mins

Day 14 - rest

December 10, 2010

Ellie's Gear of the Year 2010

In 2009 Montrail's Mountain Masochist won Gear of the Year award from Outside Magazine, and ever since then has consistently left the shelves of Canadian running stores and hit the trails within days of arriving in the store. I know lots of friends who always stock up on Masochists each time they visit the States as they are like gold dust in Canada. Well here are some of my picks for Gear of the Year from the Montrail and Mountain Hardwear line ups from 2010 (it's a hard job to have to test out awesome gear but someone has to do it ....)

Run Jacket
I LOVE the geist jacket. Small enough and light enough to stuff in a pack or tie around your waist, yet warm enough to keep out a chill and block out the wind. My go-to running jacket for a wide range of temperatures. Great reflective pattern that is subtle yet higly visible. Nice ventilation and pockets to keep the essentials safe.
Trail Shoes
The Rockridges are a super all round shoe. I happily wear them on road to get to the trails yet they'll take a fair amount of abuse from some pretty gnarly trails too. Light weight, roomy toe box and you forget you are even wearing them (a sure sign of a good shoe). Can handle lots of miles. If you like these, look out for the Montrail Fairhavens for Spring 2011, another great all rounder that is designed for both road and trail, and lets face it - we all have to run on a bit of tarmac from time to time!

Run Tights
It can get pretty darn chilly in the Canadian Rockies so winter running in shorts is just not on even for the toughest of runners (please, I don't want anyone to try prove me wrong!) I love MHW's Super Power Tight as they are snug without being too skin-fitting tight, they have good length so no chilly ankles come popping out and they are basic and black, which to be honest, might not be exciting but let's not bring attention to ourselves when running in spandex!
After Run Jacket
It's so pretty! It's so cosy! It's the MHW Nitrous down jacket! The Nitrous is not a heavy down jacket but ideal for those slightly chilly days when you need something quick to warm up in after a run. It packs down small so I often take it in my pack in case the weather turns nasty mid run. And it looks great for everyday wear too!
So there are my favourite run peices of 2010, maybe a few ideas of what to buy your favourite runner for Christmas!

Happy trails,
Ellie x

Socks: the Worst Christmas Gift?

Socks are typically one of those Christmas gifts where you think someone is seriously lacking in imagination if they buy them for you. But not all socks are created equal and I think I will be finding this out more in the next few months of running as I test out all the various types of socks in the Drymax range. I had the chance to get some samples and as they fell out of the package that arrived in the mail yesterday I wanted to get them right on and test the Cold Weather Running ones out in the snow, just too bad I'm injured right now! So maybe instead I'll hit the stepper or the recumbent bike in the gym and try out a pair of Hot Weather Running socks or Running Lite Mesh socks...there are just so many different sorts tailored for every running environment possible I'll have to be doing lots of runs to try them all out.

I used to wear any old socks I found in my drawer but as I moved to one or two favourite pairs I realised that this meant not all socks are created equal. On moving to Banff I certainly learnt that you can't confortably run in the same socks all year round - minus 30 to plus 30 and even the feet feel the difference. I'm particularly looking forward to trying the Drymax Cold Weather socks after I got frost nip on my ankles when running the other week in snow (with the wrong socks on). I'll also be keen to try out the Maximum Protection Running socks which are specifically designed for us ultrarunners: I'd never thought of the importance of different socks for different lengths of run until I wore the Team GB kit issued socks at the Worlds. Initially I thought I wouldn't like them as they were to thick - but after 100km of tarmac pounding I was so glad of that extra cushioning to help protect my all important toes.

Anyway, if you are looking for Christmas gift ideas this year for that hard to please person....maybe some Drymax running socks will be the best gift they could receive! Click on their link on the right hand side of my blog to learn more...

Next blog post for you Christmas shoppers will be my favourite Montrail and Mountain Harwear pieces of 2010!

December 6, 2010

Skipping a race, riding the recumbent bike, it can only mean one thing........Injured!

This past Saturday was TNF Endurance Challenge 50 miler at Marin Headlands in California. With a $10, 000 pay day for the win and not bad earnings for 2nd and 3rd place either the sign up list soon become an all star role call of North American, and some European, ultra runners. Given I was racing the World 100km roads 4 weeks prior TNF would not be a key race but I couldn't resist signing up to pit myself against some serious competition and to hit some new trails.

After Worlds I took a full week off running, I was in the UK with family and friends so plenty to do and I squeezed in one awesome hour road run in Tower Bridge area of London before jumping on the plane back to Banff. Within 2 days of being back in Banff winter and flu season hit with avengance. It was minus 35, I had a cough, a runny nose, I ached and had headaches and an unsettled stomach. It was all I could do to stagger into work, sit at my desk and stagger home again. On a few better days I began gym season and got some good short runs in on the treadmill, some elliptical work outs and even did some swimming and weights, which I notoriously avoid. I got over the worst of my cold and got some hill work in - a trip up Sulphur mountain in the snow and some steep inclines on the treadmill.

The weekend before the race I decided to do another trip up Sulphur - nice and easy but just get some hill memory back in the legs. I hiked/ ran up to the base of the trail from my house and began to feel a nagging pain in my SI. I had felt tiny (and I mean tiny) twinges once or twice the week prior but now it was much more intense. Having had this injury before and it being the only injury that has ever stopped me from running entirely, I relucatantly made the call to head downhill and home. Downhill hurt more so it was a long slow walk home (and I was super glad to have stuffed my MHW nitrus down jacket in my pack!)

As soon as I was home I messaged two Banff friends both of whom recommended the same physio and I got an appointment for the Monday, 2 days later. Until Monday I couldn't walk the 10mins into town and got the bus instead. I got a taxi to my physio appointment. This wasn't looking good. Hugh worked wonders and sent me away with some exercises and optimism that I shouldn't cancel race plans yet. Wednesday saw another physio appointment and on Thursday I flew to San Francisco hopeful I may still be able to race.
Friday was a fun day spent at the Mountain Hardwear offices in Richmond with other Montrail runners. It was great to meet more of the team and talk about exciting Montrail and Mountain Hardwear product developments (ssshhhh, it's secret!) In late afternoon Ryne, Jackie, Kristin and I headed iout to the hostel which was right by the race start. Before we headed out to pick up groceries I decided I better see if I could run for 5 minutes, afterall it's one thing to drop out of an ultra but I'd look damn stupid dropping out only 5 minutes into a 50 miler! I ran on the grass , first on the flat and then testing a very short incline as I suspected that downhills would be the worst. After less than a minute I knew I couldn't race. Ryne told me to run 20 feet without limping, I focused on my breathing but I couldn't run without a limp. I contemplated running on the toe of my right foot but then figured this wasn't really feasible for 50 miles. I considered side stepping down hill, but again figured that this method would be far too slow! Basically I so wanted to race I was willing to consider anything but I shook Ryne's hand, gave Jackie a hug and agreed not to race.

The next morning I woke at 3.30am as Jackie was racing the 50 miler and Kristin the 50km. Just to be sure the vitamin I of the night prior had not performed supersonic miracles I went out to try abother run. It was 4am, it hurt, and in the pitch black with my headlamp and few sounds. I knew that more than wanting to race I just wanted to run. 8 days with no running and I was craving a run.
What can I say? I am disappointed, Ryne (who was ill) and I hiked up to Pirates Cove to cheer on runners and then went to offer any aid to our friends running through Bootjack and just glimpsing the trails made me want to go explore the course. But I am putting this in proportion - lots of other runners were ill or injured too so this made a bitter pill easier to swallow (Devon C-H & Tracy Garneau didn't start, Krissy Moehl dropped) as I was not the only one on the sidelines. I have had a stellar year beyond all my expecatation so I have a lot to be very happy with! When I once talked to Gary Robbins, whining about my constant aches and pains, I so remember him saying, 'Ellie, we are all running that tight rope betwen training as much as possible and being injured'. Let's just say I have fallen off the tight rope at the moment, but I will be climbing back on just as soon as my body allows.

It was a lot of fun to see the race from the sidelines, Montrails Geoff Roes and Dakota Jones lead a strong mens race until Miguel Heras blew by them in the closing stages. Geoff finished 2nd, Dave Mackey 3rd and Dakota was 4th. In the womens race I was cheering for fellow Montrailee Joelle Vaught but also fellow Brit Lizzy Hawker. After Lizzy's 3rd place at the Worlds I so wanted her to find redemption and win in Marin, but she finished 2nd (behind NZs Anna Frost) - an outstanding effort given Lizzy was fighting a serious cold/ flu. Joelle came bounding over the finish line, smiling for her 4th place, and to top off the Montrail results Luanne Park placed 4th in the 50km (rocking her new Montrail Rogue Racers).
And Bryon Powell of probably ran more miles than anyone in covering the race on his website and twitter. He really got the buzz going around the race, so check out
Happy Trails, whether they be snowy or muddy!