September 7, 2015

It's been an uphill battle

Fair to say that 2015 has been a bit of a disaster in terms of my running so far.  I keep saying that there is still time to turn the year around but now sitting in early September I realise that the pages of the calendar are flicking over fast.  However, ever the optimist I'm determined to keep plugging away.  This year I've had niggling aches and pains and various little injuries here and there for what seems like most of the year and so I've struggled to attain the consistent training required to be in good running shape and racing fitness.  After Mont Blanc marathon in late June I came home to Canada hobbling with a messed up tibilais anterior and was ultimately forced to take a few weeks totally off running, not exactly what I'd had planned for the middle of summer when beautiful mountain trails were calling.  But instead I hit the tarmac of my road bike and like every injured runner in Vancouver - I climbed Grouse Mountain like a demon.  Grouse Mountain has various trails of about 3km in length which climb around 850m, and then there is the delightful gondola which whizzes you back to the bottom - allowing for a tough but very minimal impact workout.  It's a huge old powerhike and I'm not sure I've actually got any better at my poor climbing skills but it was certainly fun just to be on the trails, especially on the Grouse Quadruple Quad Crusher day with my buddy Jer (that's my made up event for completing the Grind, BCMC, Skyline and Flint & Feather trails all in one outing, about 12.5k with about 3200m of ascent).

Thanks to the orange helmet man for going on some very slow bike rides with me :)

Langley Medio Fondo.  88k ride in 3h00, it'll do for a rookie :)

Jer and I on our 4th climb up Grouse, the coffee after the 2nd climb was a life saver :)

A leisurely day above Elfin lakes with some of the most super people ever :)
Barcelona for some Salomon filming.  A manic trip but such fun and squeezed in a few ok runs like this.

But of course I was excited to get off the bike and speed the hiking up to running as soon as I could,  and have been slowly building up in the last month or so.  I've put no focus on running pace other than my weekly trail intervals with my running club, because in all honesty I'm in such a running state right now that even just building steady, easy running will get me in better shape.  A friend at our running club the other night asked me what pace I'm running tempos at,  erm ....  I don't run tempos (well I do, but definitely not right now).

Then a few weeks ago I heard about the inaugural Salomon Valley to Peak race being held in Vancouver - 20k with 1600m of advertised climb (it ended up being more like 1800m) and very little descent.  It seemed like a great fun event and a good race to test my legs on (non-ultra, little downhill pounding) so on Saturday my super buddy Anne Marie picked me up bright and early (thank you for helping me maintain my car free life!) and we drove the spectacular Sea to Sky highway to Whistler.  In all honesty I went into the race with no focus (I'd done 2 hikes up Grouse the afternoon before) but just keen to have a fun day and get my competitive mind set back.  Well, it was fun - once I got to the finish line!  No, I shouldn't say that - it was an amazing event but bear in my that my fortes lie in ultra distance running on flats or downhills - so for me this was pretty much a 2h40 suffer fest to drag myself up a mountain and focus that every km counted as there were only 20 of them in the race!  I think in part I need to learn that powerhiking is ok (and also get better at uphill running) as I just get despondent when I hike SO much.  The bulk of the climbing was done by the 10k mark so then spurred on my a flying glimpse of local trail runner Gemma cheering at an aid station, I then buckled down and blasted any short downhills and tried to push the flats.  It was all going great til the course markings got a little minimal and I took a few very brief wrong turns which knocked my mindset once again.  Adam Campbell (who had already finished the race and come back down the course to cheer) was met with a rather grumpy Ellie some 1km from the finish.  But by then the course was steep and rocky and he told me to 'get my hike on' - well, if Adam is telling me hiking is ok, I'll go with it :)
I don't recall this snow on race day - maybe that means I was actually focusing on running hard.  Photo: David McColm.

Whistler alpine is stunning.  Photo: David McColm

Enjoying a small amount of downhill :)  Photo: David McColm.

Finishing at over 2100m at the peak of Whistler with a bluebird sky day and a dusting of recent snow on the ground it was definitely one of the most spectacular finish lines I've been at, and even worth all that hiking to get there!  I came over the line 3rd place woman, which is really neither here nor there since my aim was simply to toe the start line of a race in a beautiful setting.

With Eric (2nd male), Will, Anne Marie (1st female) and Tom at the finish.

I hardly dare say it but for now the rehab seems to be going well and running progressing slowly but steadily.  As such I'm hoping to keep training sensibly but consistently with the aim of toeing a few more race start lines before years end.

After my finish at BMO Vancouver Marathon back in May (just 3 days after losing a hand cast post hand surgery) my running club coach described me as 'perseverance in motion', so I'm keeping that in mind and will hike and bike as much as needed to maintain the motion whilst I get back to running, but I'm not giving up on this running thing quite yet!

Playing around in the alpine with Tom & AM post race.  Photo:  Anne Marie Madden.

Post race cool down.  Photo: David McColm.


  1. Been sore through cricket since May - groin, and now also calf as well. First marathon 28th November. Furthest training run so far 24km. Gulp.

  2. If you're looking for something that won't destroy you, there's a timed race in Winnipeg coming up in early October.

  3. Aha! There I am in the background examining my awesome XL race tee

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