July 16, 2011

Powderface 42

After a big-hype race like Western it is always fun to get out to a low-key local race and just enjoy some fun times on the trails with friends and the trail community. That was what Powderface 42 was all about for me today and lots of fun it was indeed! It was just over an hours drive from Banff in the foothills near Bragg Creek, Alberta so I hightailed it out of work on Friday and shared fun time around the campfire that evening with friends. I was totally not in race mode, my legs have been feeling pretty heavy after WS100 and as half of our camping group were not actaully running the race, it wasn't the most motivating atmpsphere for a race - it was just fun times with friends.

With the alarm going off at 6am I was still not in race mode and was wondering what on earth I had got myself into when I had eagerly accepted a spot at the race a few weeks earlier in a post-WS100 high. But of course by the time the shoes were on, a good cup of coffee down (thanks Nadja!) and then off to race start and chatting with fellow runners I was more in the mood to explore some new trails.

And wow - what beautiful trails! It was soon sunny and warm, not a cloud in the sky and the trails were thankfully varied and had great views. Mentally I knew that 42km would fly by (it wasn't even an ultra!) and when I had a little wobble in my positive attitude on the long steep slog around the 18km mark a fellow Brit, Carl Price, who I have met at a few other racersaappeared out of nowhere at just the right time for some friendly company and chit chat to distract from the hardwork.

Coming into aid station 2. Photo: J. Cagampan

By 25km I had hit a groove (clearly an ultra runner if it takes this long to warm up!) and was enjoying the rolling terrain with the big climb well out of the way. I hiked the ups (still not much gas in the uphill legs) but I blasted the downs and cruised along the rolling flats. I also like to think I would have done Nicki and Brenda proud - two of my Alberta running buddies who I have never seen on the trail without a beaming smile of sheer delight and enjoyment on their faces. Fun, fun, trail times :)

But ok, I do admit I got a little competitive and when I saw my buddy Fitzy at an aid station with about 10km to go, I made sure I gave him a friendly elbow out of the way as I stormed up the hill (well, at leat until I was around the corner and could start powerhiking again!) The final 10km or so we passed half marathoners both on their way out and in (they had started 2hrs after the full) which was a great set up for us to all cheer each other on and motivate each other up the final few hills.

And strangely enough it was one of those races where I swear my legs feel better after the race than they did before! Some aches and pains are gone, and sure - they are a little tired, but I somehow feel looser and less lead-legged than I did at the start line. Yay!

Icebathing it post-race. Fitzy, me, Phil & M-J. Photo: Nadja

Nadja & Fitzy all smiles post-race

Sunny fun times on the trails for sure, and a big shout out to the Powderface organisers (Bruce, Doug & team) and vollies who were just excellent for such a relatively small local race, as well Out There store in Calgary, the main race sponsors who made sure everyone went home with a nice goody bag and Mountain Hardwear race shirt.

One final WS100 note: if you really want to hear more about my WS100 race then check out Running Stupid podcast with Ken Mical.

July 13, 2011

And the winner of the CEP compression draw is...

Mel B congratulations! You have won yourself a pair of CEP compression socks or sleeves (your choice). As ever, this draw was conducted by my usual high-tech process of asking a friend to text me a number between 1 and 68 and I them counted down the comment list until I got to the winning number :) Photographic evidence of this draw selection process is below! Mel you were 56th down on the list.

Mel B please email me at elliegreenwood@yahoo.co.uk and I will put you on touch with the folks at CEP for them to mail out your prize.

Happy running and happy recovery in your compression socks xx

July 6, 2011

Compress Those Calves! (and the rest of the legs)

Compression socks. Oh, those stylish knee-highs that either make you look like (a) you are back at school, (b) like you must be a sooper-dooper-fast runner, or (like me) (c) make you look like your legs are really short and this is why you don't play field hockey. But that said, with compression socks having being around the running scene for quite a number of years now they look like they are here to stay, and quite rightly so.

As ever, with these things I will not go into all the scientific surveys that show improved circulation both during and after work outs, and increased blood flow and recovery, but I'll simply say that compression does seem to work. Although I will admit that I am yet to try my own scientific study which would be to run a race in one regular sock and one compression sock and see which legs feels better the next day ;) I'm seriously tempted to do this, except for the fact that I mostly wear compression for recovery rather than actual racing, although I have found the calf sleeves great in longer races as they provide the benefits of compression whilst still allowing me to wear my favourite socks on my feet.

I had tried on various 'compression' socks in stores and was so so on whether they were worth the money. But last year I checked out the CEP booth at Edmonton marathon and finally found a pair of compression socks that seemed worth the investment. Firstly I was impressed that I got measured for them - I mean it only makes sense that you wear the right amount of compression, would you buy a pair of running shoes without getting your feet measured after all? And I can honestly say that I think wearing my CEP compression socks after Comrades and for the 22hrs of flying to get back home after was one reason my legs recovered so quickly after that 87km of tarmac pounding.

So yep, I am delighted to now be on board with CEP and why not check out their site . As well as making compression socks and sleeves, I am excited to soon try out their compression shorts and the very latest product in their line - Clone - a pair of tights designed for recovery that are pesonally tailored for each individual after being measured in something like 41 points on each leg!

And it's always nice to spread a little love, so if you would like the chance to win a pair of totally free CEP compression socks or sleeves please simply post 'compress those calves!' as a comment to this bost on my blog (not on my Facebook page). Entries will be drawn on Thursday 14th June at 5pm MST. Only for Canucks and Yanks, sorry to all others - I'll try have more give aways soon.