Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ET Full Moon Midnight 51k Aug 20/21, 2016

Race packets have been collected and after some panic trying to get lights strung around our packs (and an alien attached to mine) we leave The Palazzo at 8:30pm.  It's crazy busy downstairs, a billion people everywhere all dressed up for a night out. They have all the drinks.

It's an easy drive out up I-15, but after we turn off onto 93 the weather goes insane and there's lightning across the entire sky. Is that rain?  Holy crap it's raining hard.  This is worrying, the forecast was clear for Rachel, I don't even have a long sleeve top.  Apocalypse!  Happily it stops by the time we join the ET Highway.  That was too close.

And we're here, there are cars pulling into the side road past the former mailbox site so we follow along and park.  It's 10:30pm.  The buses aren't here yet so there's plenty time for bathrooms and photos and general hanging around in the dark.  It's a lovely warm night.

Here they are, I think there's 7 buses and it's suddenly quite busy.  I don't really want to talk or think about the race, just get myself moving out onto the course.  Joyce (RD) is a frenzy of activity, organizing people back onto buses and getting the marathon and 51k started.

It feels awkward starting a run in the middle of the night so for the first few miles I focus on following a pair of legs.  After glancing at my Garmin I can see I'm pretty slow, so I stop looking (problem solved).  I've taken off my headlight as it was bothering my forehead and I'm running with it in my hand. That will work for the whole race. It's very warm and the occasional cool breeze is welcome.  At some points the wind is hot.  I love the desert, so different.

I focus on getting each mile done, for the first 13 they are all uphill.  Every time I pass a marker I shine my light on it and take a moment to be happy about how far I've come.  Little clusters of light signal aid stations at various intervals in the dark.  Those are the best, a runner's midnight oasis.

At mile 7 we pass the Half start and the uphill gets steeper.  I'm trying to have a Shot Blok every mile.  Miles 11 through 13 are much steeper but the scenery is changing as we climb which is interesting.  The moon is quite bright and it looks misty in some parts.  I manage to run most of this section, albeit slowly.

Coyote Summit marks the top!  Hurrah!  There's a magnificent aid station with PB&J sandwiches.  Brilliant.  The next 7 miles are downhill toward Rachel.  At 18 miles we see the little lights twinkling below.  I'm really enjoying this part.  I pass a runner with a radio, I wonder if he's trying to pick up broadcasts from Area 51?  I pass the halfway point (25.5km) at 3:45.

I head into the 20 mile aid station at Rachel with the back of the half marathon field, the finish line is right there but I'm going back out toward the 51 turnaround.  That's okay.  Around this point I realize I've really had enough of Bloks and Tailwind, I'm wishing I had water in my pack.

At mile 21 I pass Kevin who's on track for a good PR.  His goal is to finish the race before dawn. There's a hint of light now so I focus on getting to the marathon turnaround then my own turnaround before the sun appears.  I must have missed a couple of markers as 25 pops up to the side.  I didn't really notice the marathon turn point.

The one thing I do notice is how quiet it is.  Where is everyone?  After I get round the cone (before sunrise - victory) I only have to make my way straight back to Rachel.  The sun is rising off to the left.

I still feel good at 26.2.  Let's take a dawn selfie.

Okay, less good now.  I can't face any gummy synthetic food or sports drink so I ask the volunteer at the marathon turn to get my coke out of my pack.  Yes, it was worth carrying it all the way around for this.  I've been doing very crappy run/walk intervals for the last little while and the coke gives me energy and settles my stomach.  I've caught up with the marathoners and slowly pick a few off.

I turn around to get a shot of a mile marker, my constant companion through the night. I'm actually past 28 now.  My Garmin starts complaining about low battery.  Shut it!

Still making painful progress toward Rachel, aaaand there's the sign.

This one is my absolute favourite!  Morning light in the desert is so beautiful.

Here's the last little stretch before we turn sharp right and would you believe it I've remembered how to run.

Done!  7:31. I have to sit.  We have time to check out the Little A'le'inn, then I hear my name called for some reason.

I would like to thank the aliens for abducting the rest of my AG.

The last bus heading back to Las Vegas drops us at the black mailbox to collect the car.  It is already pretty damn toasty out.  This is the new 'shrine' (ie. mostly a heap of crap) at the mailbox site.  The original and famous mailbox was abducted in 2015.  You can see it in our 2014 race photos.

Friday, August 26, 2016

ET - Beam Me Up!

ET51k 2016 is complete. This race became all about the journey, as it should. Very helpful when you're out there for 7+ hours. The picture was taken shortly after the 51k turnaround when I basically had the entire road to myself. Last time I don't think I captured the feel of that magical post-dawn painful beautiful stretch.

A long race gives me a full mental recharge, it's awesome. Tough physically but so worth it.

3 outstanding years and 107km of ET Highway!

Race report will be happening soon!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

My Fat, the Cat and Some Other Stuff

Hey everyone, it's Thursday!  I'm linking up with Amanda over at Running with Spoons to set all the random crap in my brain free, read the original post for more details and join us.

Huge weight loss fail.  I've managed almost 2 of an initially hopeful 7 lbs before Vegas. I'm going to stop stressing over it and get on with the running and the training and get my races done.  No matter what I'm doing the weight isn't really shifting.  Meh.

Pic in case it never happens again

Our small fuzzy family addition is doing just great.  She's been free to roam the house since Friday and though there's still hissing she's doing okay with her new kitty friends.  She's decided to start sleeping in the cat tree and we haven't noticed her hiding under the bed much.  Fingers crossed it keeps going well.  Last week she clawed me in the head then the next day jumped into my lap and fell asleep.  Because she is a cats.

I'm watching Mad Men on Netflix, it's fascinating.  Smoking, everyone, 24/7.  I remember going into restaurants as a kid and seeing all the smoke.  We're lucky that's not a thing anymore.  How can that ever have been okay?  Do what you want by all means, but not in my face.  My face will tell you to fuck off.

Did you know we have had a ridiculous amount of rain and thunderstorms in July and now into August?  Every weekend in the mountains we've either been rained on or dodged storms.  This is not typical of our summers at all.  It keep things interesting though, we've descended off ridges really fast lately, good training?  That being said, if it could please stop now that would be great.

It occurred to me that we're heading to Vegas in November just a couple of days after the election.  WON'T THAT BE INTERESTING?

Here's a thing someone sent me.  You're welcome.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Pre-race Post for ET51k 2016


I'm past my longest mileage week and in less than 2 weeks I'll be standing in the desert at midnight waiting to run 51k. That's exciting!

My training has been a lot of time on feet on mountain trails with elevation alongside increasing road distance.  I've been hill and strength training but not speed training. It would have been easy to disregard roads during all of this but I would have regretted that.  I'm not the best at trail running and I think it's important to keep my distance and running in a good place.

The main purpose of the 50 is training for the 100. Having said that I still have goals.  Here they be:

C - finish the race within the 8hr cutoff
B - finish close to my last time 
A - run a PR (under 7:15)
A+ - under 7 hours

The first 13.1 miles of uphill is challenging, then the out and back from 20 miles to the finish can be deceptively long.  The sun rose over that portion when I ran in 2014 so it was staggeringly beautiful. That helped!  Getting past Rachel and not turning in to that alluring finish line at 20 miles is important. The entire course sits at elevation higher than Banff in the Rockies.  

The experience of this race is amazing, running through the desert at night with the full moon above you. Kev will be running his own race this year so I'll have to try not to drift off into traffic.  I'm happy he'll get the chance to see how the course feels at his own pace.

Most of all I think it's pretty cool that I get the chance to do this stuff.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lake O'Hara Alpine Circuit

               Lake O'Hara Alpine Circuit     13 miles      1161m elevation gain     8 hrs (bus back out)

Lake O'Hara sits at the end of an 11km fire road. This year reservations for the bus were available online for the whole season (rather than by phone with gradual date availability).  I still missed the entire thing but honestly it's a nice trek in and you add a jaunty 11k and 430m to your day.

The forecast was for potential storms with rain likely at 3pm so our plan was to conquer the fire road as quickly as possible and ascend right away from O'Hara to Wiwaxy Gap (500m gain over 2km).

Lake O'Hara.

We sat for a few minutes then it was up, up, up.  The advantage to such a steep climb is the view constantly unfolding below.

There was a particular shot I wanted on this trail and I was hoping we'd get the sun for a few minutes since it seemed the clouds were rolling in.  Just as were climbing away from the view, the sun finally hit Lake Oesa.  Yes!

It's hard to capture how stunning this was.

The thunder started rolling as we hit the high point of the ridge so we descended fairly rapidly.  It became clear we were only going to get the edge of the storm as it stuck to the next valley south.  By the time we reached the Oesa overlook it was actually sunny again.

Since things were looking lovely on the weather front we crossed the Oesa outlet stream and picked up the next section of the Alpine Route - Yukness Ledges to Opabin Plateau.

This immediately rolled in to the north of us.  More thunder and lightning.

Somehow it stayed in the valley to the north.  Opabin is a lovely mix of trees and lakes.  We decided not to continue along the All Souls Route as the dark clouds were closing in rapidly.

Our weather luck finally ran out as we descended to O'Hara.  We sprinted to make the 4:30 bus through the pouring rain.  Luckily there were seats for us, though both buses were full after the campsite pickup.

It was a magical day.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Elk Lake and Petain Falls

Elk Lake/Petain Falls     19.5 miles      850m elevation gain     9.45 hrs (7.15 actually moving)

Never trust the weather in the mountains.  The start of this trail was very cold, grey and windy, then sun and rain mixed through the afternoon which was pretty much the opposite of the forecast.  Pack everything.

I hated the first hour or so until I warmed up, then we reached Fox Lake and things got better.  I mean how could they not?

As you descend to Elk Lake there are various avalanche runoff chutes which makes for flowery meadows.  I love these purple flowers.  Everything was soaking wet from recent rain on quite an overgrown trail so that added to the chill a bit.

Usually we cross a little bridge then follow the lakeshore near M6 but this area was taken out by the 2013 floods so there's a new trail (in purple) and brand new bridges further along.

The new route adds a bit of distance and elevation, but it felt like an adventure.  Upper Elk Lake is so peaceful and blue and bonus, we had the entire place to ourselves.

Curve into a valley after leaving the lake to find this view.  You can hear the waterfall quite a bit in advance.

We are surrounded by waterfalls, the ones on the left are coming straight off Castelnau glacier.  It's very hard to capture the scale in a photo.

Once again we are alone in the valley, so we explore a little further to the base of the Falls.

I like to refill my water about midway through, especially if there's a fast flowing river or waterfall (I add Aquatabs before drinking).  The wind blew the water right at me this time and I got soaked. Kev has a video which he thinks is funny.  I'm not posting it.

It was much warmer from this point on.  Unlike a lot of trails, you have to climb on the return but it was nice to split elevation between out and back.

After Fox Lake the trail crosses back into Alberta for the last little bit to the car park (downhill and great fun to run).  See you next time BC!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Race Distance Change

We're all booked for Las Vegas in August but I've been delaying registering for the ET Half. Why? Well it's pretty clear looking at the current training plan the 51k just fits right in there.

So as of tonight that's what we're registered for. Officially.

Ultra #3. I'm between excited and wondering what the bollocks I've done. Either way, bring it on!