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:

fish creek rundlebanff hoodoos

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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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!


Breakdown and Rebuilding

HAYYYOOO. How are you guys? I am well.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about running. And not because it’s going bad, mostly because I was feeling pretty “meh” about it.

Since we (I) last spoke, I have kept up with weights and cross training while easing myself back into running. While rebuilding my mileage base, I’ve focused doing so on trails. This gives me a softer, more variable surface to train on, gets my head out of the pace obsession (because trails are MUCH different), and will get me set up for future trail races (which I’d like to do more of). All this and I get to take advantage of all the beauty my province and city have to offer. Like Nose Hill Park, a short 20 minute drive from my house:

nose hill

Lived in Calgary most of my life and have never been here before this day. Whooops.

Not Alberta (I was visiting my grandparents in Saskatoon at the time), but still a trail

Not Alberta (I was visiting my grandparents in Saskatoon at the time), but still a trail

Upper Kananaskis Lake. A flat yet exciting 16.5km trail complete with a river crossing due to a washed out bridge (thanks flood)


And since I’m on the trailporn roll already, here’s a couple hikes I’ve done recently:

Ha Ling peak, which overlooks Canmore.

Ha Ling peak, which overlooks Canmore.

And last weekend’s trip to Elk Lakes Provincial Park (hiked from Alberta to BC, camped and did a little fishing at Lower Elk Lake)

elk lake 2elk lake 3 elk lake 1 elk lake 4

Aside from all that, SeaWheeze training is going fine. Like I said, base building and keeping it mellow. I was fine with it for a while but started to feel like something was missing.

Sunday night when we got home after Elk Lakes I had a little meltdown. While I had just hiked 20km between two days with a weekend’s worth of provisions on my back, the mental toll of dealing with injury and other problems resulted in me feeling overly conscious and upset with my body. Through my injury I kept up my fitness, and since I have been working on increasing it, but I was feeling a little scared of pushing myself again in fear that I won’t be able to achieve the results I want (running wise), or that other parts of my health will take a toll. I felt frustrated, helpless and confused.

I had a good cry, a good meal and a good sleep. The next day the idea of running an October marathon started blossoming in my head. It would be enough time to train, and it just so happened that MEC is putting on their first full marathon this year, on October 19th. Their races are great because while they’re well organized and draw a good group of people, they are CHEAP and not a qualifier for anything so the pressure that I like to put on myself to run/get a specific time would be completely off. So I went for it.

mec race

And that started a chain of events…


13.5km of trails…

fish creek

16.5km of trails…!

And a little 5k this Friday, because why not?

And a little 5k this Friday, because why not?

After I was done signing up for all the races, I got anemail from Oiselle regarding a new branch of their team called the Flock. It’s a first come, first serve membership in which you pay a fee which goes towards their athlete development fund, and in return receive a singlet, special deals, and a spot in their team. I jumped on this, obviously.



And while I honestly had my sights set on joining the Vollee team (which they are not expanding this year), I have zero problem in helping them support their elite athletes. Travel costs are expensive, and Oiselle is a small company doing great things for women’s running. I have already connected to so many other amazing women running with the Flock, and if you’re reading this, I’m looking forward to getting to know you and following your journey!

My attitude from last week to this week has done a complete 180. I had to look deep and take some chances (long trail races, marathon), but setting those goals have given me some purpose and something rewarding to look forward to. In my experience, if you’re unhappy it is 100% your responsibility to make the moves to change the tide, and nothing has ever been changed by self pity.

I’ll leave you now with my new favorite song from my new favorite album:

And this one because it’s weird and I like weird:


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 Stampedeā€™s ā€œBig Fourā€) and Helen Rothney Macleod.Ā  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.

2013 Okanagan Marathon is now 4 Weeks Away….

OK 4

Hi Friends! I’m back from my little hiatus.

Nothing super crazy going on, I just needed a bit of a break from pouring all the details out of my training regime onto the internet and deal with some brain thoughts I’ve been having.

This summer and it’s training cycle has been sort of a roller coaster ride. And I don’t like amusement rides. But with the date of my next big race creeping closer there is no time like the present to pull my head out of my ass and focus on getting my brain in the game for October 13th.

Between starting off this training cycle with the flu or whatever, then the flood, then the hip injury, it’s not hard to spiral into frustration and doubt. But it IS hard to get my head back to where it was prior to the Vancouver Marathon. And to be honest, I sort of forgot what that mindset was. But today I remembered. I was excited! I knew the course, I knew I liked it and at the least I’d have a good run and be around good people who supported me.

So realistically, I don’t know how the OK Marathon is going to end up (do we ever really know?). But here are the things I do know:

– It’s a new race (to me), and it is FLAT

flat course is flat

– I know I can complete the distance, and at least at the same pace as before, if not faster

– My best friend will be running the 10k and cheering me on

– My boyfriend and his family will be watching and waiting for me at the finish

– My own biggest cheerleaders (Mom and Dad) will be there in spirit forever supporting me

– Old friend of mine (super fast ultra trail racer Morgan) will all be there chasing a BQ and I’m so excited for her!

– There will be wine after (helllooooo Okanagan Wine Country!)

So really, it will be a good time, regardless how fast I cross that finish line. I plan on getting a good playlist going, plugging in, having a great run and hopefully finding/keeping up to Morgan on the course (yeaaah we’ll see). Also, I have a lot of opportunity to get a BQ before registration opens for 2015, so I’m not worried. I’ll get there when I get there.


This past week has been a pretty enjoyable one. I took it pretty easy early in the week as recovery from the half marathon, did 4 x 800m sprints at an embarrassingly slow pace (I blame the heavy leg weights I did the day prior) on Wednesday, then an easy run Friday.

I ran another 5 Peaks trail race (7.5km) in Canmore on Saturday morning, followed by a hike with Jamie in the afternoon.


I finished the race in 46:53 and placed 9/23 in my age category. Not bad! Definitely an improvement from last time. I’m excited to run more of the series next year. Trail racing is such a different beast from the roads and 5 Peaks holds excellent, well organized events. In the two I’ve gone to I have definitely noticed a strong sense of community. They also have great snack tables full of watermelon, bananas, chips, bagels with various nut butters, and Vega products.

After lunch we went for a half day hike up Windtower (along Spray Lakes Road across from the Reservoir). We got a little lost (twice) but the view was amazing and we survived so it was worth it. It was Jamie’s first hike and to say she was pretty into it would be an understatement. She also did great in the whole getting-lost drama, and is responsible for us getting back on track and avoiding bushwacking the entire way down the mountain (we still did some).

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Sunday I did an easy 10 mile/16km run. I finished Tina Fey’s audiobook “Bossypants”. It was hilarious and entertaining. I’m sad it’s over because she made a great running buddy. I wish we could be friends in real life.

I have my last long run this weekend, and fast Morgan and I are planning to run together. However, her long run pace is more like my race pace, so we’ll see how long I can keep up for. But maybe I’ll surprise myself and be able to! WHO KNOWS?! No harm in trying, right?


2013 Okanagan Marathon Training – 12 Weeks Out

Heeeeyyy so we’re back.

So as you can figure out from the title, I am 12 weeks away from marathon #5. I like counting down to my races as opposed to counting how many weeks of training I’ve done already. So that’s the way we’re going to do things ’round here.


This week my Mom and I went to Emerald Lake near Field, BC for a weekend of eating, drinking, and mountain goat-ing (aka hiking). No cell service, no internet, just nature and good times.

not bad

not bad

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Emerald Lake

Sometimes I don’t wear running apparel. Sometimes.

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Monday – Cross Training

I’ve decided now that Monday is my cross training days. So this week I dusted off my ~15 year old boxing gloves (yes, I used to take Muy Thai Kickboxing as a teenager) and joined my Mom at WTM for a boxing class. I had done one with her during flood-time to burn off some steam, and I really enjoyed it so I joined her again for a class.

On Sunday I tripped over a stool and bruised my shin, so doing hard kicks to the bag felt less-than-awesome. I also learned how much you use your shoulder muscles for punching (it’s a lot).

Tuesday – 5km easy run

My body was too tired to do any sort of strength work today, so I did an easy 5km with my pal Chelsea. After trying on about five different kinds, I finally decided on some trail shoes (Saucony Kinvara TR).

shoeziesWednesday – Hills

5 x 1 minute sprints up what I decided to call “Bunny Hill”. It’s a steep hill, probably about 300-400m long (I didn’t run to the top, but will next time), and it leads to a cemetery and the Monastery of the Precious Blood, or something strange like that. But anyways, there is an infestation of tiny, adorable bunnies all around that area. It’s a cute distraction to the hills.

Thursday – Strength

Just did some upper body and core work today. I opted out of any lower body work as I was hiking, trail running, and running hills this week.

Friday – 8 mile Steady State Run

This turned out to be a 6.5 mile/10.5km trail run, sort of steady state-ish effort. I ran the loop around Emerald Lake in Field, BC twice. It was glorious. I also hiked up to Emerald Basin with my mom, which was about 10km return trip.

sweat post trail run

sweat post trail run

I landed on a couple rocks with my left foot while running, and that got nicely aggravated while hiking.

Saturday – Hike

Mama Goat and I hiked up Mt Stephen the trilobite quarries. It was fun. We met some great people and heard a lot of new geology words that we don’t understand. This was about an eight hour hike and ~800m elevation gain.

mt stephen

At the trilobite quarry, poking around and looking at fossils

Me, Mom, and a trilobite

Me, Mom, and a trilobite

Sunday – Rest

Visited the Natural Bridge, Takkakaw Falls and canoe’d around Emerald Lake. Didn’t want to leave.

sask and trail 010 sask and trail 008sask and trail 009——————————————————————————————————————–

I’m considering doing my 16 mile long run today, but my foot is still kind of sore and legs are stiff from all the hiking. I’m trying to decide if Saturday’s day long hike qualifies as a long run. If anyone could justify that it does/kick me in the ass and tell me to make it up, please speak now.

When I have a big race (ie marathon) in mind I tend to forget about the other shorter distance races I have planned. This results in me not taking them as seriously, not being mentally prepped, then being disappointed with my performance.

In two weeks, I am running the Invermere Half Marathon, then in six weeks I have the Drumheller Dinosaur Half. I want to bump up my half PR, so I plan on approaching these two differently, and a bit more like how I’d mentally approach a full. Time to get my head back in the game.

Goats do Saskatoon and Trail Races

So it’s been a month post-flood and I’m happy to report that life is generally back to normal. I am still without a parking garage or camping supplies, and the lobby of my apartment is a mess and I won’t have a parkade until maaaaybe September but I am home now and running is getting back to normal so I’m happy.

It’s amazing what stress can do to the body and how it can affect my running performance. For the past month, pretty much EVERYTHING hurt when I ran, and I had no mental capacity to handle that. Luckily however, I have been gradually getting back on pace and into a marathon training routine again. I am able to push myself again instead of struggling.

I could bore you with the specifics of my marathon training the last couple weeks, but since I’m in catch-up mode in everything with my life, I’ll keep it to a couple major things and get all run-nerdy on you next week.


Two weeks ago my Dad, his lady and I went to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to visit my grandparents, aunts and uncles. My aunt is a part of Epilepsy Saskatoon, an organization to raise awareness and funds for Epilepsy. The weekend I was in town they held their second annual E-Race Fun Run so I decided to participate in the 10k, and Mimi (dad’s gf) ran the 5k. I came in second! I was close to coming in to first, but I started getting lower abdominal cramps about 3k which slowed me down and allowed the girl behind me to close the gap. She passed me around 6-6.5km and while I chased her for a while, I lost steam (had a hard tempo run the day before, didn’t have a ton to steam to begin with) and wasn’t at any risk for anyone to steal my second, so I just finished the race and was happy about that. My time was around 56 minutes, but I’m pretty sure the race was over 10k (according to mine and several other people’s garmins). Oh well. It was fun and for a good cause.


Race Face. I’m glad I don’t normally look like that.


My 100000 year old Garmin. Don’t judge.


Standing in the rain and explaining something to some other girls.

The rest of my weekend was spent having quality time with family, and of course, eating.

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sask and trail 002Another nice run I went on. Saskatoon is pretty.

This past weekend I ran my first ever trail race! It was one of the 5 Peaks Race Series in Sundre, Alberta. I have been telling myself that I’d like to try trail racing for a while, so when I received a complimentary race entry for any of the 5 Peaks races through work, I jumped at the chance. And it kicked my ass.

The previous night I packed up a picnic for Dan and I to enjoy after the race, and at 6:30am Saturday morning I poured him into the car where he slept the entire drive and through the race (poor guy worked until 4am but still came out with me).

This guy haaaaaated me ;)

This guy haaaaaated me šŸ˜‰

I arrived in Sundre at 8am and registered for the Sport course (6.6km/~4 miles) race. I got my race number and swag, which was literally some Kick-Ass coffee (which is also kick ass by description) and a handheld water bottle sleeve.

sask and trail 009I had a snack and a little nap in the car (the race didn’t start until 10am), and jogged up and down the dirt road a bit to get used to the Saucony Exodus that I had borrowed from my mom (a no-no to some, but we have very similar feet and I don’t own anything heftier than Adios). I felt they were pretty heavy for me, definitely compared to the racing flats that I normally wear, but I was thankful for the grippies and protection they had.

sask and trail 007The first bit (~500m?) of the course was a grassy path leading behind a hill that we would then run up. The hill was gradual and easily runable. After the hill leveled out, we had a quick downhill on a single track path (I think where the dotted line is on the map) which was a bit scary. Lots of people took this opportunity to pass, and there was a steep downhill on the right side and I wasn’t able to make room for those passing me, or even to pass those I was stuck behind. So I waited it out, and once we got back onto a wider path I picked it up and was able to pass some people.sundre map

My garmin beeped at 1 mile, and it was around 9:30-9:40ish. I was happy with this, considering most of that first mile was a hill and I wasn’t pushing hard. The second mile was quite hilly, and lots of people started walking on the hills. It was a hot and sunny morning, and being in the trees made it quite humid. I felt the heat and the hills catching up to me and my stomach and lower abdomen started to ache. Then the dreaded cramping began. I tried my same method as the Saskatoon 10k of slowing my pace and hoping they’d just go away, but no. No such luck. I didn’t double over in pain like previously, but I had to walk for at least 10 minutes. Either mile 2 or 3 was completed in 13:xx/miles (can’t remember which one, don’t have my garmin with me and it doesn’t really matter anyway).

On the plus side of my big walk, once the cramps subsided and I was able to run again, I had enough energy to run up the remainder of the hills, and seriously power down the downhills. Flying through the woods and mud puddles felt great. It was freeing. I had no music, I was connected to my surroundings, and before I knew it, I was at the final bend before the small descent towards the path to the finish.

As I was cruising down the last hill, I felt something hit my foot from above. I felt the pocket on my leg where my phone was hanging out (as it has for many runs without incident), and felt nothing. FUCK. I turned around and jogged a bit up the hill to see if I could find it, and when I had no luck, another runner told me that it would be retrieved after the course was swept. Whatever. After that happened, I wanted off that course and just wanted to cry (which made for a pretty awesome finish line sprint, to the point that the announcer even pointed it out). I had hoped Dan had woken up from his car nap, but no luck.

Feeling extremely defeated, I approached the announcer and told him about my phone, and was informed that it was already picked up. So that was good. Dan was back at the car, waking up, and comforted me. We hung out after the race and had some coffee and snacks, and I started feeling better about the whole situation. My final time was 40:43 (5/6 in my age group), which really isn’t bad for going into a run with zero expectations and walking for a good portion of it. I generally enjoyed the run, it was a nice change to road running.

sask and trail 006After the race Dan and I found a spot by the river for a picnic. Dan went swimming in his underwear and I took pictures. It was a beautiful sunny day, I tried something new and caught the bug for trail racing. Sunday morning, I woke up and signed up for the 5Peaks race in September in Canmore.

River Dan

River Dan

This week my Mom and I are leaving for our yearly weekend of hiking. We’re doing one big day of hiking the Burgess Shale (which I’m very excited about) and maybe an easy hike the other day. I’m thinking I’ll try out a trail run around Emerald Lake on the easy day, so this week I’m going to get a pair of my very own trail shoes. I’m leaning towards the Saucony Kinvara TR, but I’m going to try a couple others tonight as well.

Do you run in trail shoes? Which ones? Done any good hikes lately?