Get L.O.W. (Part 1)

Hi! Hello!

For those of you who follow me on twitter or instagram, you may have noticed that I have been rather silent (spare for the past three days). That is because last week I went for a much needed social-media detox while on vacation. Where was I, you may ask? I was at the step-family’s cottage on Lake of the Woods, Ontario. It was a marvelous, relaxing week of fishing, reading, running and relaxing.

Lake of the Woods is HUGE. It’s full of islands and peninsulas, so while you’re on it it’s hard to grasp its size. But I suppose if you had a big enough boat with enough fuel, you could roam this lake for quite some time before you see it all.

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The cottage was located way up on the top just west of Kenora, nestled into the Canadian Shield. I have little experience with rural Ontario (aside from my uncle’s farm), so I was thoroughly impressed. Being a Rockies’ girl, this was almost like being in the Rockies (forested, rocky, hilly) without any mountains and much warmer lakes. Something I can live with.

The water was unusually high this year, causing most of the boathouses and docks to be a bit under water. This didn’t have any impact on our enjoyment however, and everyone managed to avoid eating shit while navigating the wet, algae-y submerged dock.

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Don’t be fooled by the British Columbia flag, this was most definitely in Ontario.

The photo above is of the boathouse, where we’d spend most of our afternoons alternating reading, napping in the sun and cooling off in the lake. Most would jump off the boathouse. I would not, because I greatly dislike jumping off things.

photo 20photo 19If you look closely in the reflection in my sunglasses, you can see the book I (finally) finished while on my trip. It’s Joseph Boyden’s “The Orenda“. What a powerful book, and definitely not an easy read. It haunted me for several days after I finished. Yet it was the perfect book for the trip. It’s set in the early eeeaaarrrllly days of Canada (before it was Canada) so I could easily imagine the characters set in a surrounding similar to my current location. Very good book. Much recommended (but not for the faint of heart).

In the early mornings and evenings (actually, only evenings for me) we’d take the little power boat out and go fishing. I caught three fish! Two walleye and one bass, all released. Here is me and my bass:

photo 2The sunsets off the boat were stunning:

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hi Dad!

Hi Dad!

We (collectively, not me) even caught a couple keepers that turned into lunch/dinner. I am grateful for these fish providing us with delicious sustenance.

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Dan and our lunch

photo 17A couple days we drove into Kenora and both times had lunch at the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company. BEST FRIES and tasty beer. They also have a shop where you can buy growlers, apparel, skatedecks, etc. Their logo is cute so I bought a mug and sweatshirt.

Tasty things here.

Tasty things here.

Running wise, I did a few runs on the road leading the cottage, which were hilly, hot and humid. On the Saturday, I found some trails in Kenora to explore while Dan checked out the skatepark. More on that later, as it was a really cool experience that I’d like to go more in depth.

From my run on Tunnel Island, to be continued!

photo 13 From my run on Tunnel Island, to be continued in part 2!

Unless you live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, it seems that this area of Canada is fairly unknown. It’s a wonderful place to go if you like fishing, nature, and general relaxing (who doesn’t). It’s not difficult to get to, just a straight two hour drive East from Winnipeg, and it’s an interesting drive at that as you see the prairies morph into the Shield.

I returned from this trip feeling refreshed and relaxed, which is new for me. Usually I’m so busy doing things that I need another vacation after my vacation. But we rested, exercised and ate healthy so I felt great. I had three days at work and I’m off tonight to Vancouver with my best gals to run the SeaWheeze half! I can’t believe it’s actually here. I get to also meet some Oiselle birds from Seattle and have dinner with some other bloggers and the Vega team. Hoooly. So much stuff.

See you on the other side!

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Glenbow Ranch 5Peaks Enduro Race Recap

As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous posts (and in great detail in the post that got deleted, grr) I’ve been dipping my toes into some trail running this summer. There are a few reasons for this:

1) It’s a great way to develop yourself as a run and prevent some of the overuse injuries that plague road runners by the variations in pace and terrain that trails provide.

2) I have some friends who are into trail running (and ultra running) and it looks neat. Ultra running has recently started to intrigue me since I’m always looking for new ways to inflict pain on myself.

3) Because I live in Calgary and have all this basically in my back yard:

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This summer we’ve had some great weather and I’ve been taking advantage of it and getting out of the city almost every weekend. It may mean that my apartment is messier than usual, but so worth it.

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Last year I did a couple 5Peaks races, and loved the courses and general vibe. They’re perfect for those looking to get into trail running since they are relatively short, and have at least two race lengths for each event. This year I decided to try the longer of the two courses, the “Enduro”, for my next two 5Peaks. A few weeks ago (July 19) one was held at the Glenbow Ranch, just Northwest of Calgary outside the town of Cochrane. It was to be my maiden voyage in my Oiselle Flock singlet, and to commemorate the occasion, Ashes helped me lay out my race outfit.

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This was going to be my longest trail race yet (13.5km, a mere drop in the bucket for trail race lengths) and I was nervous so I convinced my mom to come along and cheer me on. That Saturday morning, we drove out together to the Ranch.

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The Glenbow Ranch is located in the Bow River valley and full of beautiful rolling hills and a few trees.

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As I was checking in, I said hi to Tina and Angela who both volunteered and ran the Sport (shorter) distance. Another benefit to the 5Peaks series are the amount of Cliff Bar samples and various other tents to check out while you wait to run. We hung out for a bit and snacked on mini Cliff bars.

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Rocking the Oiselle Stride shorts, Nathan pack, ProCompression socks, Saucony Trail Kinvaras, and Thrasher hat.

After the kid’s race, we lined up for action. Tina, Ange and I started together then soon lost one another.

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The course was lead us up a paved pathway and up a hill before we dropped down a rocky path through the trees and back into the valley. I ran (slowly) up this hill, but planned to walk most of the other hills, especially during the first loop (of two loop course).

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The course was a mix of paved trail and gravel path, which made it less trail-y than other 5Peaks, but still had some seriously hills making it just ask challenging. While walking up a hill, Ange passed me but I shortly caught up again and we ran most of the first loop together. This was nice because it was quite exposed and hot, and we both wanted to focus on taking it easy and enjoying ourselves. Neither of us were out to prove anything that day. We walked the larger hills and talked about our cats. The final hill, before the Sport people head back down to the start line, was an intense switchback in the hot sun. Ange left me and I was dreading running the whole course again.

Just ask she took off, my mom appeared! She walked along the course with me for a while as I complained about how hot and hard this was and munched on a gel. When we arrived at the gravel downhill again, she let me go and off I went for lap 2.

Thankfully, it clouded over slightly and I got my head into the game and a good rhythm. Lap 2 was generally peaceful and comfortable.

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Walking hills means you have time to take pictures

photo 1A tall guy and myself kept passing one another, and he commented on how speedy I would get on the downhill. We were close at the end and walked together up the switchback. Coming back down the hill leading to the finish he had more gas in the tank (and significantly more gravity-aided momentum) and left me in the dust. My mom cheered me on and took photos as a nearby child threw grass on the pathway.

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And I crossed the finish in 1:36!

As the awards started, it clouded over and started raining lightly. My mom and I made motions to leave, but Tina convinced me to check out my placement just in case. And turns out…

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I got second (out of 3, still counting it)! Maybe if I didn’t stop and walk after Lap 1 I could’ve gotten 1st (we weren’t too far apart), but it was worth it, I needed a little mental break with my mom.

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3rd place left before the awards, I swear.

So there you have it! 5Peaks, always a good time. In fact, I’m running another one tomorrow! 16.5k, crap. Wish me luck!

Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area

I know I know, I still owe you guys a race recap, but while that’s in the works, I’ll leave you with another little running adventure I embarked on last week.

I’ve been enjoying my post-race recovery and have really only been running if/when/and for how long I feel like. As most marathoners know, this is a valuable time to get caught up in the other stuff in life. But by Thursday last week I was raring to go and did a quick 20 min run on the treadmill at lunch hour. I had little desire to run on hard pavement, so I decided to seek out some grassy trails to run on.

I had heard of the Ann and Sandy Cross area outside of Calgary and have been eager to check it out. Located in the foothills south-west of Calgary, it’s not far away and promised many-a rolling acres of open and wooded land.

Sandy Cross is the son of A.E. Cross (one of the Calgary Stampede’s “Big Four”) and Helen Rothney Macleod.  Sandy started purchasing land south of Calgary in 1945 for what would become Rothney Farm and eventually the Cross Conservation Area. In 1987, Sandy and his wife Ann donated nearly 2,000 acres of their land to the Province of Alberta. At the time, it was the largest private land donation in Canadian history and was operated by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.- source

Due to my natural ability to procrastinate, I left home later in the afternoon and battled the 4pm traffic (what the hell, Calgary?) out of the city. I arrived at ASCCA around 5:30 and knew I had about an hour before sunset to get my run in.

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From the parking lot there was a nice view of the city to the north-east, and the mountains straight to the west.

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Hi Calgary!

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Hi mountains!

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I had planned to aim for the 8.8km Pine Creek Trail, but was ok with seeing how I felt and taking a shorter turn back if necessary.

By the time I registered my vehicle in the log, paid my $2 donation, retied my shoes and went to the bathroom, it was 5:45. There was a short walk from the parking lot to the start of the trail and at that point I saw these lil guys.

2013-10-19 17.47.40I took off to the right of the gravel trail, following the Chevron Aspen Trail mostly downhill through some trees.

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At the base of the downhill I reached the bathrooms and it started sprinkling rain. I kept on going towards the junction of Chevron Aspen and Pine Creek, pondering for a moment if I should towards the longer route. My stomach gurgled. I was getting a little hungry, I didn’t have any water, it was raining a bit, and the sun was close to setting. I was alone and defenseless against any wildlife that I may encounter. I thought about the “DANGER: COUGARS MAY BE IN THE AREA. DON’T HIKE ALONE” sign I saw at the parking lot. Then I decided to keep going up the long, lonely uphill path to Pine Creek.

This uphill continued for a while, and gradually whittled down my desire to keep going. The residual exhaustion still hanging out in my legs due to the marathon I ran six days prior became a little more intense. And I kept thinking of all those things from the previous paragraph. I reached what I thought was the top of the hill and saw a little downwards dip, then more uphill. Fuck this. I turned around and went back to the junction and decided that I’d run one or two of the smaller loops, time and energy permitting.

The trail rose up out of the trees onto a grassy hill and connected with the Fescue trail. The intermittent rain provided some dramatic skies to contrast the tall grass.

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Evidence of the area’s previous life as a farm was located throughout as well.

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I rounded a hill and descended into a valley towards the Racher’s Trail. The picture doesn’t do justice, but it was pretty. The downhill was a nice slope which tricked me into thinking “Hey! I should just continue on the longer Fescue trail instead!”

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But then I started the inevitable uphill and decided that the shorter, smarter route would be the way to go. I finished the Racher’s trail on some serious incline that I had to walk up. Oh trail running. You kick my ass every time.

When I got back to the start, the same deer were still hanging out and stared at me.

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Somewhere at the start. I can’t remember where this fit but I figured it’d be a nice one to end on.

I really enjoyed running in this area and I look forward to returning back with some running companions and challenge the Pine Creek trail (earlier in the day). I also think it’d be great for snowshoeing (if you didn’t already know that I was into snowshoeing, now you do!). Most people think of Alberta as flat prairies with a skiff of mountains at the edge, but there is the whole foothills range that is absolutely gorgeous and worthy of exploring. If you live in Calgary, it’s quicker to get to than the opposite edge of the city, so you really have no excuses.

Next on my calendar of adventure… A VACATION. A pure, enjoyment, non-running focused (not that that’s not enjoyable) vacation. I’m traveling out east to Toronto and area to visit my uncle and friend. I’m hoping to do some horse riding, relaxing, winery visiting, and girly things with some pals.

So till then, ciao! Maybe I’ll even have a race recap for you. Maybe.