Showing posts with label FatDog70. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FatDog70. Show all posts

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Runners Tale - When Life Gets in the Way and Doesn't Even Give You Lemons

The last few years have been a rollercoaster of classic 'life got in the way' moments, which I'm sure you've gathered from the fact that our posts ceased to exist after February 2015. This year I've got 100 mile dreams, and I want to be able to share the experience with you! But before I go big, I need to step back and walk you through a thing or two:
1) My introduction to trail running and my glorious 'rise' to a solid middle of the pack runner.
2) The reason(s) why we disappeared in 2015, complete with legitimate excuses for not running a 100 miler sooner.
3) Highlights of some of our recent adventures.
Bonus Track: The injury that has plagued me for years, that I liked to pretend didn't exist.

In 2011, I ran my first ever trail race. It was only 12k. What did I learn? You can fit a surprising number of evil hills in such a short distance! I remember flying down each hill feeling super human, and walking up every hill sadly out of breath wondering "Why on earth am I doing this". I would proceed to cross the finish line, forget the pain, and eagerly sign up for the next race vowing to train more.

For the next few years the pattern was very similar.
1) Sign up for race, planning to train ridiculous amounts
[Optional: 2a) Start out strong, train really hard for two weeks, get injured. Stop running.]
2) Realize the race is in a couple weeks and you really haven't trained. Start taper.
3) Run race, feel pain, vow never to do it again
4) Cross the finish line, feeling elated! That was AWESOME! Forget pain.
5) Eagerly sign up for longer race, vowing to train more...
6) Repeat steps 1-5
That, ladies and gentleman, is how to be a solid middle of the pack runner.

The calm before the pain! MOMAR 2016
By August of 2014, I middle of the packed myself all the way through the Fatdog 70 miler. After completing it, in true middle of the packer fashion, I signed up for the Sinister 7 100 miler in July 2015. In March of 2015 my job took me up north to Yellowknife and beyond, where I worked 12 hour days on a 2 and 2 rotation. It took a bit of getting used to, and my days were typically eat, sleep, work, repeat [insert wicked techno beat here]. My two weeks off went by so fast I rarely got any good training in. By June I knew there was no way a hundred miler was an option. With high hopes of more time to train, I deferred my entry to 2016.
The Bucket of Blood post MOMAR

2016 didn't exactly go as planned either (for me, or a number of celebrities). We decided to try our hand at adventure racing, and got all geared up to mountain bike. Which by the way is TERRIFYING. I mean, I love adventure. However, learning to mountain bike at 26 years old on the North Shore mountains isn't exactly the easiest task in the world. Then I went up north for work again, which means training (as per usual) was nearly non-existant. By the time we got to the race, I had been on the mountains maybe three times (One of which we had a chance encounter with a cute little bear). Three times DOES NOT prepare you for trails named "Bucket of Blood". It does, however, prepare you to become a bucket of blood. Luckily we went with a team of four with various strengths and weaknesses. This meant I could successfully run the downhills with my bike without getting behind... which for the record I DO NOT recommend. I had bruises on my legs for DAYS. Not to mention the bushwacking (orienteering) through thorns to finish the race that added some nice fresh blood to the disaster in the making.

Not all things were bad, I married the amazing man that got me into this crazy trail running madness (On the same weekend as Sinister, so deferred that again to 2017). We went on a glorious honeymoon to Iceland, and would 100% move there if the weather in July stayed all year round...

The real fun, however, came near the end of 2016. I signed up for the BMO half-marathon so that I could run with my brother (Okay, fine I signed up for the full marathon and dropped to the half because I failed to train, yet again). We then took on the Cultus Lake 30k, which I've signed up for for the past two years but conveniently been away for work so never actually had to run it. This race is great. I forgot about all of the crazy hills, and as always was ill-prepared. Halfway through I got a bug in my eye that the lovely aid-station people managed to get out! Thank you! Then my calves cramped like never before and I could barely jump over puddles, or logs, or anything. I contemplated rolling down the hill to the finish. I crossed the finish line second in my category, but there was only a handful of people in my category to start! The Phantom 24k in November went as well as can be expected on very little training. I nearly didn't run the race, and wasn't sure I could even going up to the start line. I figured worse case scenario I drop at half, which is conveniently the start/finish.

This next part of my story is hard for me to write about, which is why I haven't. Here's the part where if you don't want to get to know me too well, you should pick up a novel, or turn on the tv, or go for a run (I love running)! But for someone, somewhere this may be relevant.

So, taking a step back in time to the winter of 2014... I went into emergency at VGH because 'things' were bleeding and I was in a whole lot of pain (excruciating, can't sleep, or move, WHAT HAVE I DONEE?! kind of pain). I know "things" doesn't really help much, and I bet you're sitting there wondering how many places I could have been bleeding from that would take me to emergency. I'll leave you in suspense until we get to the diagnosis in 2016. After all, if I had to wait nearly 2 years, you can wait a few minutes. For now, lets just say this pain led to a team of gynaecologists staring at me, sending Chris out of the room, and repeatedly asking if I was sexually abused.
Dr: Have you been sexually abused?
Me: No, I just run really far and play a lot of sports.
Dr: Are you sure you haven't been abused, this is very typical of sexual abuse victims.
Me: No, I just run really far. Like farther than marathons far. Often.
I basically spent my entire day explaining this to multiple Doctors. At the end of the day I was told to rest and bathe in Epsom salts and to take it easy. I left frustrated that there was no solution or diagnosis, especially considering I had been feeling pain/discomfort off and on before this. The follow up appointment was made slightly more bearable as the Doctor was genuinely excited to meet someone so stupidly active.
Luckily I survived through the rest of 2014 and 2015 running like a wild person without too many hiccups! The only race I had to cut short was my first ever attempt at the Vancouver 100 where I felt great at the 50k mark, but certain 'things' weren't so pleased with the distance.

In the spring of 2016 I was still feeling pain on and off, and by this point the pain had been affecting my running and biking and life more and more. I decided to see what a different doctor at a walk-in clinic thought. She recognized it right away and recommended me to a urologist (yay?) who only had a six month wait (double yay?). When I finally saw the urologist he said I had a urethral carunkle... WTF is a urethral carunkle? (Do NOT google this. You do not want to know.) It's basically a common ailment in older people where your urethral lining is hanging outside where it really shouldn't be. Just so happens that in 2014 it was so inflamed/bruised/bloody that nobody knew what they were looking at (triple yay!). Turns out every time I ran or biked really far in the previous 3 years it would get inflamed and hurt or bleed. So now it's 2016 and we finally know what it is. Phew. Now to fix it. Step one was a rather awkward and uncomfortable cream that did nothing. Step 2 was surgery... AHHH!

Three weeks ago, on December 14, I had surgery to get it removed! I don't wish this on anyone. For the first week after the surgery I couldn't do much other than sit on the couch (in pain). By the second week I could walk, but I am still far from running. My hope is to be able to start training again at the end of January. The best part of the surgery was when they injected the general anesthetic. You can feel burning/tingling/crawling up your arm, and then you breathe it out like fire and fall into a deep sleep. I'm not sure what my super power is yet, but when I figure it out I'll be sure to let you know!

So 2017 brings with it the hope of finally running pain free! A chance to train (or not train) and run some fantastic races that I've put off for a couple of years!

It's time for running to get in the way of life, forget the lemons.

Happy Trails!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Surprise! Bonnevier trail is beautiful

Along the forestry road section!

In doing the FatDog trail race for the last two years, I have never had the chance to see Bonnevier Trail in the daylight. All I’ve ever seen is a bright patch of trail with a pair of feet plodding away up the hill. This weekend I finally got my chance to see just what I’d been up against.
The turn onto Bonnevier Trail

On Saturday, Jenna’s mom dropped us off at the bottom of Bonnevier Trail just east of Manning Park, and planned to meet us up on Heather Trail at the top with her grandma.
Beautiful single track near the top of the false peak (Kandahar Peak)

After the initial forestry road section, we turned onto Bonnevier Trail proper, and, surprise! It’s beautiful! The trail is a nice single-track, that gently winds upward, with a few downhill and flat sections. Having climbed through super dry areas, lush forests and swathes of deadfall, it seems like you’ve reached the top of the mountain. Of course, this is part of FatDog and that would be too easy! So next comes a significant downhill section that drops about 200m over a couple kilometers. The good part is that it’s totally runnable! Too bad I’ve always been too tired to run it.

Gorgeous views of the surrounding valleys and mountains!
After the drop, the trail continues switch-backing upwards, eventually reaching open alpine meadows with beautiful vistas of the Three Brothers peaks and the surrounding area.

View of Big Buck Mountain and the First Brother in the distance
One thing that didn’t differ from the race was how long the alpine meadow section felt! It’s only a few kilometers, but it feels like it goes on forever!
Running through the meadows
Reaching Heather Trail we caught up with Jenna’s family and hiked out to Blackwall Peak, concluding our adventure for the day.
Hiking out to Blackwall Peak with Jenna's family

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Fat Dog's Tale

It's Saturday August 16th at 4:45 in the morning. I wake up to my alarm blasting beside my head, hit the snooze button and snuggle back into my sleeping bag. Ten minutes later my alarm goes off again, I can hear Chris' family drag themselves out of the tent, and I know I have to do the same.
I finally muster up the courage to go out in to the cold and brave the day I'd known was coming for almost a year. I can't believe it's finally race day!

Foggy start to the FatDog70 up Blackwall Peak
It's now 7:00 am and Brad and I are loaded on the bus heading up to Blackwall Peak. It's warm enough outside to be in shorts and a shirt. We're hopeful the weather will hold and it does - sort of. We unload from the bus in the mist/fog/clouds to temperatures that have our teeth chattering, sending everyone scrambling for their jackets. After a short wait, we're off and running straight out into the alpine meadows. Although I know from training runs its absolutely beautiful up there, it was difficult to see more than a few meters away. It made for a pretty eerie start to the race!
I didn't make it far before I was hungry, since I always have trouble eating before a big race. Despite eating constantly, this hunger would plague me for the next 20 miles.
Let me just put this out there now... I'm not a strong starter. The first 20 miles was a mix of excitement that I was finally out doing the race and fear that I would get lost or run out of food.
About 5 miles in I was already on my own. I couldn't see far enough ahead to spot other runners, and I had no idea if there was anyone behind me. Though my legs were feeling good, I was rather tired and a little concerned as I'd already eaten half my food. I slogged through the next 20 miles, running where I could and walking pretty much every slight incline. By the time I made it to the first aid station (Cayuse flats), I had already had dangerous thoughts of failing at least 50 times.
Coming into Cayuse flats was one of the most motivating parts of the race. I had my watch on the minute gps recording intervals, so I came into the aid station 2 miles sooner than expected (according to my watch distance). My race crew (aka my family) was there to get me fed and back out on the course. I'm not sure what changed at that point, but I left Cayuse feeling like a whole new person. There are some nasty hills through the section between Cayuse and Cascade Aid Station that I powered through feeling rather fantastic.
The next section has a lot of aid stations close together, which was a blur of eating all the food I could stomach, and getting attacked by bug spray (thanks mom!). We also got to put on fancy safety vests and run on the highway for a bit which was fun!
Coming in to Shawatum aid station at mile 40
After Summallo Grove comes a flat section with nothing too exciting; I was feeling energized from all of the aid stations so there wasn't much to complain about. At this point the sun was out and it was glorious sweaty running along rolling hills. Though the flattest section before Shawatum aid station seemed to drag on forever, I finally made it back to my wonderful crew who fueled me up and sent me packing.
The next section was the only part of the racecourse I hadn't seen, which had me a little concerned. I'd been out on the trail for 10 hours by now, but I knew in 10 miles I'd have a pacer to drag me the last 20 , which was pretty darn motivating! The highlight of this section had to be the song that wouldn't leave my head, something like "walking on the trail with candy, walking on the trail with candy". Intelligent, eh? When I got bored of singing about my candy, I pulled out my mosquito net.  I was actually digging in my pack for electrolyte tablets, but decided I'd put it on the mozzy net and see if it helped. There were a few mosquitos buzzing in my ear - so it really couldn't hurt. This is when I knew I'd been running for too long, because I really don't know if it helped with the mosquitos, but it sure was a lot of fun. It added a new jungle like element to my vision that spiced things up a little. Though it did make it harder to eat candy.
I made it to the 50 mile mark (Skyline Aid), and was now excited knowing that despite the rather crappy start I could still make the full distance. I picked up my cousin - the BEST pacer in the world - grabbed my poles, and set out up the hill to break things! Yes, break things. But we'll get to that. Up until Skyline Aid I had been ignoring my pace chart completely, but I had the general feeling I was going pretty darn slow. Apparently, I was actually on pace for a 26 hour race (the cutoff being 27, my goal being 24), but thankfully nobody told me that.
I'd grabbed my poles at the last major aid station (Skyline) to help me get up and down the insane mountainous terrain that is the last 20 miles. Lucky for me, about 20 minutes in, the strap on my pole snapped, leaving me with a nice bracelet. A girl needs to feel pretty 50 miles in, right? The pole itself still worked just fine so we kept on truckin'. The next few hours are a blur of climbing uphill and stuffing down candy as darkness descended upon us. After 3+ hours of climbing in the dark we reached the descent into one of the remote aid stations - Camp Mowich.
I sat down to have some broth while the aid station crew filled my pack. A few minutes later I put my pack back on, and immediately tossed it right off. It was soaked! Of course my bladder was leaking. So we pulled out the bladder only to find a lovely little pinhole happily spouting out water. Nothing a little duct tape couldn't fix. A few minutes later I was all duct taped and ready to hit the trail.
And then I fell apart. It was about midnight, I was dead tired, sick of eating, overheating, and I felt like I could pass out any minute. Doing what any sane (ha!) person would do, I stopped and told my cousin we had to go back to the aid station - that I was too tired and I needed to sleep. She wasn't quite as convinced on heading back, as we had already hiked 15+ minutes uphill from the aid station. So she pulled out a garbage bag, sat me on the trail, and got me to eat and drink and recover for a few minutes. Shaking and still feeling like crap, I made the decision to go back to the aid station. So we started to hike back down the hill, stopping every 2 minutes because I wasn't entirely convinced I wanted to go back, and because I was feeling a little better. So after a quarter mile adventure back towards the aid station we again turned around and decided to trek the 8k to Sky Junction, where I could take a nice nap before continuing.
This was the hardest 8k I have ever done! I didn't want to eat, but if I didn't eat I started to feel sick so I had to eat. I battled this the whole race, but the waves of nausea and near loss of consciousness made it that much harder. So I kept moving forward, and eating, and drinking to stay awake. I don't suggest hydration as a means of staying awake, because I was overhydrated for the next 21k to the finish. I have to admit that having to pee every 5 minutes is a rather great way of staying awake on the trail, though its not very helpful for running.
We finally made it to Sky Junction. I had no idea what time it was nor did I care. They asked what I wanted and I said I needed a nap. I can't tell you how thankful I am that Peter (the assistant race director) was at that aid station. He sat me down on a nice ledge covered with a space blanket, handed me a giant can of pringles and refilled my leaky pack. He got me to put my music in, and pretty much just forget about everything. I'm not really proud to say this, but it took me 40 minutes to get myself off that ledge and muster up the strength to continue. If I wasn't getting cold I don't think I would have left. It also helped that it's further to hike out at this point than finish.
Now comes the fun part! It's 2am. I've finally dragged myself out of the aid station, and I'm on the top of a mountain singing - terribly, I might add. My pack is still leaking. It's duct taped, but there's a little too much water in it this time. So I spent the last 13k getting progressively soaked as my pack leaked all over me, and I had to stop to pee every 5 minutes. Have I sold you on how much fun I was having yet? BUT I MADE IT!
We finally came down the last hill into lightning lakes and the trail was lit with glow sticks to the finish line and it was incredible!! I crossed the finish line wet and cold at 4:30 in the morning - 4.5 hours faster than my predicted time after leaving skyline aid station at mile 50! My final finish time was 21h29m55s

Check out my awesome 'Fat Dog' pj's I won!
The most important part of this post is to say THANK YOU! First to the amazing volunteers and people at Mountain Madness who made this an INCREDIBLE race! The course was so well flagged you couldn't get lost, the aid station crews were always smiling, there wasn't a thing I could find to complain about!
Next to Chris for dragging me on all those training runs and never getting tired of me!
My family for all coming out to support me as my crew and pacer!
And of course all of my friends and family who had to listen to me talk endlessly of our running adventures/Fat Dog/how messy our house was!

You are all amazing and I would not be a Fat Dog without you!

J.B. Running

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fat Dog 120 Race Course GPX and Profile

The following links are to gpx files of the Fat Dog 120 race course. I found them super helpful last year using my Sunnto Ambit2 when I wanted to double check that I was on the right course, especially up by Trapper Lake.
I believe they are fairly accurate, though the total distance may be less than 120miles. They were recorded by Ed Sargisson a few years ago, so my greatest thanks to him! The course is split into 6 legs, but I also have it where it's split into 9 legs (for the relay) so let me know if you want me to upload those too.

For those using Movescount, you can search/see the Fat Dog course segments in the Routes section.

Below I've also included a profile with approximate locations of the aid stations, and where pacers are allowed to join. The pacer spots are also places that crew could have access in the latter part of the race - keep in mind Heather aid is 5km from the parking lot.

Leg 1 from the start at Lakeview Creek Campground to Ashnola River Road

Leg 2 from Ashnola River Road to Bonnevier

Leg 3 up Bonnevier to Heather Trail

 Leg 4 from Heather Trail to Cascade aid station

Leg 5 from Cascade aid station to Skyline 2 trailhead

Leg 6 from Skyline 2 to Lightening Lakes Day Use Area

GPX file of full Fat Dog course

FatDog120 profile with aid stations (approximate locations).
*Bonnevier Aid is just before the first uphill section as indicated by the arrow.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our 2014 Race Calendar

After much debate and indecision we have finally decided on a tentative race calendar for the year (or at least until August). We've updated our Race Calendar. and I are both doing the DirtyDuo 50km on March 8th in North Van. It'll be Jenna's first
attempt at this race, and my third. This a two-loop race through some very technical trails in the LSCR (Seymour) area.

We'll then tackle the Vancouver Sun Run 10km on April 27th as some speed work.

The following week will be the North Shore Enduro 6 hour race (a ClubFatAss event). This one is also in the LSCR/Lynn Headwaters area and will feature some tough hills stairs! and a mix of technicality.
From there, our next race will be June 7th when we attempt the Vancouver100 (CFA event) a 100km race from Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay (technically Nelson Canyon Park) and back along the Baden Powell Trail. This will be Jenna's first time at this race and only my second attempt. The consistent level of technicality of the trail and the possibility of snow at Hollyburn and Cypress makes this a difficult race for sure! Plus racers need to be self sufficient or find their own crew. Even then, access points are minimum every 15km for a very dedicated crew, or 25km for a "normally-dedicated" bunch. Nonetheless, lots of fun to be had!!

The next big stop will be FatDog in Manning Park on the weekend of August 15th. Jenna will be attempting the 70 mile option, her longest yet, and I am hoping for some redemption with the 120 miler.

If you're interested in any of these races, want to find out more, help out as a volunteer or as crew, either click on the images above, or send us a message via Facebook or as a comment on here.