Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Grand Canyon R2R2R Double-Crossing

This trip report is from Salomon West Vancouver shop team runner Jeff Pelletier. Read the full report on his blog.


The Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim (R2R2R) double-crossing is an amazing 46-48 mile journey, depending on your route, with over 11,000′ of elevation gain in temperatures varying well over 70 °F (21 °C).

It’s on many an ultra runner’s bucket list, and for good reason. The incredible views and beauty this route offers at every turn are hard to beat.

I recently had the chance to do the run with two friends. Read my trip report including a video on my blog.

Monday, November 18, 2013

5 Peaks Ugly Sweater Holiday Trail Run!

Brought to you by the same organizers as the Halloween Glow Run that was hosted at the store last month, we're happy to promote the 5 Peaks Ugly Sweater Holiday Trail Run coming up Saturday November 30th! 

Saturday November 30th

8am - 12pm

Learning Lodge, LSCR, North Vancouver.

$20 cash

3-5KM (route to be announced) loop, as many or as few time as you'd like, in the 4 hour allotted time period. Build your own custom run in terms of total distance and speed. Not a race, but a fun holiday socializing event!

Refreshments - homemade baking, hot chocolate, apple cider, coffee, etc to be enjoyed between loops.

Baking contest - test your favorite holiday recipe against your peers!

Special holiday souvenir for all participants!

Amazingly talented photographer Robert Shaer will be capturing our great event as well!

Prizes, prizes, prizes - stay tuned for exact details, but expect lots of swag!

Grand prize of a full 5 Peaks Season's Pass (all 5 races) will be drawn from all registered 5 Peaks runners that attends the event!

Collecting warm donations for the homeless - jackets, sweaters, toques, gloves, scarves, etc - please help build our pile of donations!

Going to be the holiday party that you are NOT going to want to miss! 

ALL details can be found on the blog post at http://www.solanaleigh.com/2013/11/08/5-peaks-ugly-sweater-holiday-trail-run/

Thursday, October 31, 2013

VOKRA-BEAR 100 Running for KITTENS Shoe Draw

Happy Halloween! It's time for a treat for a couple of winners.

Last month I ran Bear 100 and decided to do so to fund raise for Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association. VOKRA is a wonderful non-profit organization that helps rescue cats and kittens throughout the Lower Mainland. They coordinate foster homes for rescued cats where they monitor each one's health until they can find them forever homes--teammate Jeff Pelletier got his cat from VOKRA and very recently, my friend Shannon got her new Alfi from them. They also help spay and neuter feral cats in a capture and release program. If they capture a pregnant mother, they will care for her through the birth of the kittens and then care for the kittens so they might be adopted out. If the mother cannot be tamed, they spay her before releasing her again, but they continue to provide some food and water and some health care. They do all of this through the help of donations.

I love animals to a ridiculous degree. My Twitter feed will often have a new photo or video that I can't handle from the cuteness. If ever I need a pick me up, I'll run certain routes in my neighborhood I know to be extra dog friendly because doggy antics and dynamics always puts a smile on my face. I baby our pets and would do anything for them. Roxy definitely gets away with a lot more now that I'm in her life and Shazzar pretty much gets away with murder (much less so, however, now that she's an indoor kitty). To get an idea and in honor of Halloween, this is my most favorite thing where my love for animals and books collide into one mass of adorableness: Animals in Bookish Costumes. As you can guess, raising money for VOKRA was an easy decision. Animals bring so much joy into so many people's lives. There are many of them who need our help and I was ever so happy to do what little I could.

I want to thank everyone who donated. Overall, I raised about $700. I didn't have a goal because I didn't know what to expect, but this does make me very happy and will help a lot of very sweet little kittens get the care they need. I love our community!
Shazzar, not sure what's about to happen.

Now, the shoes. West Vancouver Salomon Shop donated two pairs of shoes to help me encourage donations. For every $5 a person donated, their name went into the draw, so if you donated $20, your name went in 4 times. I printed off all the names and cut them out into small pieces of paper. Shazzar was my assistant in the name draw. I put them into a little cup and decided I'd rain them down on her and see if she'd play with any particular pieces and if so, they would be the winners. Well, it didn't work exactly like that. I rained them down on her and she bolted, but quickly came back to find out what the heck had happened to her. I grabbed the pile from the floor and threw them up over her. Again, she bolted, but this time, two pieces stuck to her fur as she ran off. I followed her and picked up said pieces when they fell off and here they are, your winners!

David Papineau and Jennifer-Anne Meneray! Congratulations, you two! I'll be emailing you both with details of how to claim your shoes.

There, you see! Two pieces!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bear 100

Bear 100! This was a race I’ve been wanting to do for years, ever since a stress fracture caused me to withdraw my name from the entrants list back in 2008 and since I paced Jamie Kiezer in 2009 and saw its incredible scenery. I signed up this year as a way to train my way through wedding planning and well, to ensure I’d look fit for our photos. I’d think it worked.

While in Hawaii the week prior to race day, I thought I was getting in some great heat training. Bear’s tagline is “36 Hour of Indian Summer” and has typically hot weather during the day. At night, it’s frigid. I packed to run warm during the day and then as though it was winter at night. By the time my plane landed, I’d received several emails from Gary and our friend, Luke Nelson who lives near the course saying it had snowed and it was calling for more over the weekend. Well, crap. Pacer/bridesmaid/bestie Kelly Bolinger and I hit REI in Salt Lake City to panic shop for warmer things. I bought some Salomon tights and an Arc’teryx hat that bonus, was super cute and apparently called Hepcat, which makes me love it even more. We also scrounged up some Yak Trax and mega-sized hand warmers.

Kelly in her moose hat and gloves, which she sadly for me, didn't wear to pace.
Deb McInally on the other side of me, fellow PNW'er and 9th woman.
It was freaking freezing. My lungs were not ready for that. I don’t think anyone’s were. Even if I’d come from Vancouver rather than basically Honolulu (where it was at least 80F/25C), my lungs would’ve been breathing 60F/15C air and now suddenly it was 30s/0 in the day and as low as 23F/-5C at night. Add to that the fact the race starts at 4800 feet and only drops back down to around 5000 feet twice with most of the climbs going over 8000 feet and two up to 9000 plus. After mile 60 or so, we stayed over 7000 feet until the final descent after mile 95. That’s a lot of thin air for this sea level living lady. I was coughing with a tight chest by mile 25. By mile 80, I’d started wheezing. By 85 or so, running felt impossible. Every time I pushed myself I felt like I was either hyperventilating or having an asthma attack. Later on we heard from others that they’d experienced the same thing. Owen Connell hit his inhaler over and over thinking it was his asthma. We passed a guy who was coughing up blood in the last three miles. Not good.

Our REI trip proved to be wise. I used every hand warmer I had available, putting one set on the inside of my hands and the second set on the outside while I pulled my fingers into my gloves to keep them even more protected and to wrap them around those little packets of heat. Kelly had some down her tights, which created a few odd-looking lumps and giggles from me. For the daytime, I wore a short sleeve shirt with a long sleeve over it and my Salomon Starter Jacket. At night, I added a second jacket, a rain jacket from last year's Salomon line. My hat and gloves stayed on for about 30 of the 33 hours I was out there. I wore a thin buff around my neck and put it over my face whenever the wind picked up. At night, I added a fleece buff to that, which helped keep my face from getting numb. My cheeks and nose, however, we were still wind whipped by the end. We left the Yak Trax in a drop bag because we didn’t want to carry them, breaking one of my rules that if you think you even might need something, bring it. I’d slipped several times on icy down hills before I picked up Kelly at mile 61 and knew we’d do so again, but my mental wherewithal was too fatigued to insist we make room in our packs. I regretted that decision for the rest of the race. Kelly became the gopher who would walk ahead of us each time the trail looked icy so that my tired legs wouldn’t have so much to navigate. A few other runners figured this out and we had a few tip-toeing parades going on behind us.

Photo by Willie Roberson

Kelly also saved the day a few times finding course markings. Bear is sparsely marked. For the most part, it is enough, but at night there were a few times when we wished for more. I know in the past, Bear has dealt with local hunters who get angry that a bunch of runners are traipsing through their hunting fields and so they’ve removed markers, causing people to get lost and confused. I did hear gunshots at one point and someone behind me remarked, “Runners are in season.” We also saw a big truck driving out with a moose strapped on the back (sad face), so I’d argue that we small runners aren’t doing much to spook game out there, at least not any more than their trucks or the ATVs that go zooming by. Anyway, my suspicion is that the markers are set up to be just enough for us to find them, but not so much that they’re super noticeable to people who aren’t supposed to be looking for them, like hunters who might mess with them. As such, we did a little circling from time to time to make sure we were going the right way. During one of our parades. Kelly and I let a group of guys pass us up a climb. When we hit the top, that group had dispersed in all directions looking for the next marker. Headlamps were pointed everywhere and it was an oddly amusing sight. We stopped in our tracks and Kelly looked down and to her right and called, “It’s here!” She was everyone’s hero.

Something that was unnecessarily frustrating were my contact lenses, which started bothering me as early as mile 30. I’d be interested in hearing from other contact wearing runners if they ever experience this phenomenon. Every now and then in a race, my lenses will feel dirty and it will be difficult to see through them, which seems like a reasonable thing to happen. This time, however, it felt like they were fogging up, like a car window does on a rainy day. Were they freezing on my eyeball? I don’t know. I can sometimes blink this kind of thing away, but nothing doing. I usually carry eye drops, but damn it if that wasn’t the one thing I forgot to get. Kelly was only able to crew at mile 19, so I couldn't to ask her to pick any up for me and I didn’t see her again until mile 61. I found some eye drops at the mile 45 aid station and that helped for some time. I had to stop a couple of times and risk putting a lens in my hand and cleaning it with water from my pack, which I know isn't the safest, cleanest thing to do. But really, I'm mostly glad I didn’t drop the lens or rip it. By the time Kelly and I were almost to mile 75, it was dark and I felt like I was running behind my own personal fog. Thankfully, this aid station had saline solution and said I was the third person to come in with this complaint. I cleaned one lens in the saline bottle cap and then the second. The second lens didn’t want to stay in my eye and so I tried putting it back in the cap. And then it was gone. Holy hell. “Nobody move!” someone yelled. Everyone froze and started looking on the ground and my lap and Kelly took the cap from me. “Found it!” It had folded itself up and was on the wall of the cap. I put it in my eye and it stayed clean until almost the end. Miracle of miracles, I could see!

Which was wonderful because this was a spectacular course, just stunning. It is definitely the most beautiful 100 mile race I’ve done and possibly among the top most gorgeous of all the races I’ve done. Given the time of year, the trees were turning their fall colors—red, orange, yellow all mixed into green. The tops of the mountains were dusted with snow, which only added to the glory. I would come around a corner and be greeted by a big rock face that was not just grey, but oxidized and lightly painted with blues, greens, yellows and purples. Even chunks of rocks on the trail looked this way. Every climb and every labored breath was worth these views.

And I would be remiss if I, of all people, didn’t mention animals--which was pretty much just cows. When I thought I was full fledge into a low point, I rounded a bend and saw a group of cows, who also definitely saw me. Four mama cows, one blonde teenager (who in my mind was a punk teen who’d probably bleached her hair to be different) and one baby all perked up with nervous eyes when they saw me. I thought I was going straight and would miss them all together, but then I noticed they were standing on course markings. I had to make a right turn and potentially run right through them. We had a conversation and I explained my intentions and they skittishly moved on out of my way, so as not to upset or offend me and I swear I heard them saying "Oh dear, oh me, so sorry, we'll move, oh my."

Throughout the race, I’d occasionally hear cows mooing off in the distance, which was a strange sound after the sun went down. As Kelly was pacing, she stopped ahead of me and asked, “What is that?” She sounded nervous and said she was sure it was an animal. I looked ahead with my headlamp and saw two, widespread, bright, shiny dots aimed back at me. It looked unreal and it took me a moment to understand it was cow eyes. It looked alien and very creepy. Once I told Kelly what it was, we realized we had another right next to us off to the right. It’s disconcerting, being surrounded by cows in the middle of the night. I don’t know why. I announced to the cows that we were walking through and reminded them that if they got nervous, Kelly eats them and I do not.

As much as I love cows, cows unfortunately mean cow patties and huge ones. Huge. I avoided what I could and tried not to think about the ones that had mixed in with the mud or whatever I might’ve hit during the night. That mud, that shoe-sucking, slippery mud came from the ice that we slipped on after it melted in the almost warm sun. Not fun, especially not in those last 15 miles when all I wanted was to be done. Although, I don't know how I'd have felt about running on frozen mud either. I know I probably say this about every race’s finish, but those last 8 miles really were terrible and the longest of my life. Muddy and steep to start and then steep down with very loose rocks. It didn’t help that at this point, my breathing was labored and painful, so any chance to run was cut short and made me very frustrated to the point of tears and cursing. Thankfully Kelly was there to tell stories about bunnies and kittens to help pull my spirits up. She knows how much I love bunnies and kittens.

And if that didn’t work, the glimpses of the finish area sure did. Breath-taking, literally and figuratively. Bear Lake looked massive and bright blue, surrounded by all those fall colors. It was a great thing to focus on and felt like it had a gravitational pull. I somehow got there.

Kelly and me just a few miles from the finish. Look at the view!
Photo by Willie Roberson
I do these runs for so many reasons--to test and push myself, to look great in wedding photos, to be surrounded by what the world has to offer, but my favorite thing is getting the chance to meet so many incredible people. I ran with Scott Snyder who was finishing the Rocky Mountain Slam, having already done Big Horn, Hardrock, Leadville and Wasatch 100s. I spent some miles with David Fuller who was running as a celebration of his marriage and his wife’s recovery from a long-time illness.There was Willie Roberson, who was very gentlemanly and gave my father-in-law a momentary thrill when he thought I might be running with the guy from Duck Dynasty. And John Sharp, aka Texas, aka the loudest person I’ve ever met. He definitely kept me entertained. I ran with first timer and local Trent Poulson for hours and hours and met his entire family, from his little kids to his siblings to his mom Patty who paced him for those last horrid 8 miles in her cute track suit and sparkly sunglasses with a huge smile of pride on her face. Trent’s determination was impressive. He’d only run one marathon and one 50 miler before this race and fought his way through leg pain, fatigue and didn’t let low points mess with his decision to finish. All of these people were out there with the same goal and same love of the challenge, regardless of their motivations. That’s what keeps me inspired.

I had two mantras out there. 1) I’m a machine. This was derived from both a conversation I had with Heather “Anish” Anderson about her speed record on the Pacific Crest Trail when she said after about 10 days her body clicked into machine-mode; and from Gary’s best man, Mark’s wedding speech when he stated that one machine, Gary had married another machine, me. Whenever I felt myself fading, I said this and it made sure I took care of myself and did whatever I needed to do to keep me working. 2) I’m doing it for the kittens! That’s right, kittens. This was so much more motivating that I ever could’ve imagined. I said this before and during training runs when I didn’t really want to be out there. Imaging kittens needing me, their little fuzzy faces mewing and their tiny paws reaching out for me always put a smile on my face and kept me going. Yes, I am that girl. I’ve been doing races for over 10 years and never run for charity. I felt it was high-time I did so. After a joke with Sophia Ballezza about how I could raise awareness (whatever that means) for kittens, I got to thinking that I could probably find a charity and actually do some good. I found Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) and began to fundraise. West Vancouver Salomon Shop has generously donated two pairs of shoes to give away. There’s still time--you until October 20th before I draw the winners. Every $5 donation puts your name into the contest. Help me help those kittens! Donate here.

Allison Moore, me, Kelly and the legendary Hans-Dieter Weisshaar.
Look him up, if you don't know who he is.
Photo by Owen Connell
Buckle and Plaque
Turns out I was actually 119th place. Should I get my money back?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Salomon West Vancouver is teaming up with the 5 Peaks Ladies of the Trails to bring you a special Halloween Event on Friday October 25th! 

It's a glow in the dark night time trail run (about 8kms), starting and finishing at the store, with an after party of exclusive shopping until 10pm, with special discounts, as well as tons of prizing for random draws, costumes contests, and more!  Refreshments provided by Bremner Food's and Cariboo Brewing! 

5peaks - Halloween 8k Fun Run

What : A fun night time trail run through the trails at Capilano.  Headlamps.  Glowsticks.  Costumes.  After hours exclusive shopping with 10-15% clothing and shoes at Salomon West Van!  Prizes!!  Warm Blueberry Pie from Bremner’s!  Gingerale & Root Beer from Cariboo Brewing!  Treats!
Who : The 5Peaks Ladies of the Trails are hosting this event, it’s open to anyone and everyone who’s wanting to embrace their scary side in the woods!  For this event, men are welcome as well!!!  We just ask that they embrace their inner lady to join the group!  Yep, we’re asking that the guys come dressed in drag!  And from the response we’ve gotten, you guys are just looking for an excuse to wear a skirt, so why not?!
How much : $10 cash.
When : Friday October 25th.  The run will start at 7:30pm, and the store will be staying open until 10pm for us.
Prizing : We’ve got tons of prizing and swag from our sponsors, there will be costume contests, and a grand prize raffle, with all participants in the draw for a 2 person cooking class, with wine pairings, at the Wellbrook Winery on Monday Nov 4th.  Over $120 value for this prize!!
What else do you need to know : You will need a headlamp for running on the trails.  We will not be providing headlamps, so please bring your own.  Right now, Costco has 3 for $10…just saying…
Anything I’ve missed??  It’s going to be a blast, and you’re going to be sad if you miss out on this!  Please let me know if you have any questions.  Hope to see many familiar faces out, and some new faces too.  We’re very friendly, welcoming, and we’d love to meet you!
Oh, and things might look a little like this…
Except with a ton of glowsticks, costumes, and maybe even a rainbow tutu…

Sounds like a blast right??  This is definitely an event that you don't want to miss!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Meet Your Maker Relay Race Report

This race report is from Salomon West Vancouver shop team runner Jeff Pelletier and originally appeared on his blog.

The Meet Your Maker 50 Miler claimed to be an “absolutely stunning course, up, down and through the Whistler Valley” and it certainly did not disappoint.

The course is actually 53.46 miles (84.04 km) with 3,736 m of elevation gain and loss, and it can be run as either a solo or as a relay of up to 7 runners. The race was only started in 2012 but saw a pretty big jump in popularity this year, with many runners returning for a 2nd attempt after having been beat by the fairly aggressive cut-off times.

I knew quite a few people from the local trail running community who were running the solo and as always was feeling like I was missing out. But having just run Waldo 100k last month, I thought I’d be best to just go up to spectate and possibly crew instead. When a last-minute opportunity to run the relay with Team Salomon Flight Crew presented itself I figured it would be a perfect way to get involved.

Pre-race briefing at the Hilton.

Our Team

The Salomon team was pretty stacked: Phil Villeneuve and Duncan “Munny” Munro, both accomplished Nordic skiers and trail runners, and members of the Salomon Flight Crew; my Salomon West Vancouver Shop Teammate Gemma Slaughter; local speedsters Ashley McMillan and Arden Young; and Micki Rivers from Salomon’s marketing team.

The plan was to have Ashley lead, then Phil, myself, Gemma, Arden, Munny, and Micki to cross the line – beating the other relay teams (and possibly the solo racers) including Team Helly Hansen who were victorious last year.

Leg 3 (Base 2 to Peak-to-Peak)

I won’t go into detail on the other legs of the race, since I haven’t run the whole course myself. But I can summarize my leg in one word: Upness.

Leg 3 starts at the base of Blackcomb, gaining 1153 m before losing just 93 m over 10.36 km to end at the Peak-To-Peak chairlift.

For some reason, I really love to climb and I consider it a relative strength of mine. I can open it up when I have to, coming from a road running background, but I find the technical descents particularly challenging so I put in an early request for leg 3 (and for anything but leg 4).

The Race

The race got underway from Rebagliati Park at 5am and Ashley managed to complete the technical (and dark) first leg of the race in 45 minutes for 2nd place. I didn’t see the hand-off to Phil but we heard that Ashley was almost 15 minutes ahead of schedule so we rushed to the next hand off point at the base of Blackcomb so that I could warm up and get ready for my leg.

At around 7:46, three figures emerged from the forest and came barreling down the mountain, neck and neck. It looked to be Adam Campbell in 2nd place after Jakub Sumbera but turned out to be Phil, with Jason Loutitt in third. I grabbed the timing chip from Phil and started making my way directly up the ski run in 1st place with Jakub 100m or so behind me.

The climb got very steep pretty quickly so I switched to more of a fast power hike which is something I’ve practiced a lot of this year. Instantly anaerobic, increasingly lactic, I settled into a heartrate of around 180 bpm and decided I’d try to keep it there.

I managed to hold on to the lead for quite a while and I was definitely running scared. It felt great to lead a race for the first time – it might be a while before that happens again.

Somewhere near the top of the climb as the trail transitioned back into road and became more runnable, I was surprised to see solo runner (and eventual overall winner) Jakub gaining ground and looking strong. I tried my best to hang on and keep him in view once he passed but I lost him as soon as we hit the technical climb through the trees – out of sight, out of mind. Fortunately, I still seemed to have a pretty good lead on third place.

View from the top of Blackcomb.

We finally hit the alpine trails and were rewarded with some pretty amazing views through the last couple of kms. I think we took a few people by surprise being there so early, but Robert Shaer managed to grab a great pic (top of this post) before the chair and aid station came into view below me. I could hear Gemma cheering as I tried to give it my all down the final descent. I made the hand-off and started coughing up a lung.

The rest of the team killed their legs and Munny actually won his overall. Our team came 1st with a new relay record of 7:57:49 (guntime). But amazingly, we were beat by two solo runners: Salomon runner Adam Campbell who finished in 7:46:07 and Jakub Sumbera who set a blazing fast new course record of 7:38;19.

Flight crew runner Tom Craik's personal cheering squad.

The Aftermath

I continued to cough (up phlegm) for the next day or two, evidence of a little exercise-induced pulmonary edema. I suppose I’m used to spreading out the suffering over a much longer distance, not sprinting up mountains in short races like this. But it was well worth it and I’m looking forward to doing it again at 5 Peaks Buntzen Lake in a few weeks!

Congrats to teammate James Marshall who finished his first 50 miler, and to Salomon Flight Crew runner Tom Craik for an impressive performance as well. Special thanks to the team at Salomon Canada for having me and to Salomon West Vancouver for their on-going support!

Gear: Salomon Sense Hydro S-Lab Set, Suunto Ambit2 Sapphire (HR)
Clothing: Salomon Trail Short, Salomon Trail Tee, Salomon XR Visor II
Shoes: Salomon S-Lab Sense

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

5Peaks Whistler - Race Recap of Enduro Course from Solana Klassen

From my blog at www.SolanaLeigh.com :
My 17th race of the year, was the 4th of the 5Peaks 2013 series, the Whistler – Blackcomb Mountain edition on August 24th, 2013.
Adam Campbell, the eventual winner of the Enduro course absolutely killing it out there!
Spoiler alert :  I struggled.  Similar to my last 5Peaks race at Cypress, I struggled along, didn’t feel great most of the race.  This time though, I was able to finish with a PR on this course of 3 mins faster then in 2012, so that’s definitely a positive.

Check out my full recap & some fabulous pictures, like the one above, from the very talented Rob Shaer!

I love the 5Peaks Whistler race.  It’s been a favorite, and a staple of my calendar since I started running trail races.  It was also Jay’s favorite course, and a couple years when the didn’t run the full series, he would only do Whistler, because it was that good.
I knew going into the race, that I was most likely going to suffer and feel slow.  The 2 weekends prior with over 80kms of racing was bound to affect me.
We are SUPER lucky to get to stay with family friends in Whistler every time we visit, and this just makes our Whistler 5Peaks weekend that much better.  Friday we had dinner with our friends, chatted, caught up, and I even got to be the first person ever to try out their brand new hot tub on their deck!
We are spoiled.  In the morning, we had expresso’s, made eggs, and had delicious homemade green smoothies.  Mmmm!
This race starts later than all the rest in the series because of having to get up to the top of Blackcomb Mtn.  We drove to the village, parked, and were uploading Whistler around 9:40am.  We then took the Peak to Peak across to Blackcomb, arriving just after 10am.  As we got off the gondola, the skies opened up, and it started to piss.  Yuck.  We ran inside to find shelter, and our friends.
We chatted away the rest of the morning, and only came back outside with 5 mins till race time.  I should mention that Chloe Jr was running her first ever trail race on Saturday!  She decided to go big or go home and signed up for the Enduro (yes, she’s got some beast inside of her!)
The youngsters were still doing their race, so we huddled to wait for our race to start.  While we had been hiding inside, the rain had stopped, and it was just cloud cover and chilly at the start.  During this time of hanging out I got to visit with so many friends, and got to meet a couple of readers too!  Which is always a favorite of mine to get to chat with people who are reading this blog.
The funny part of the morning was that James forgot shorts.  He always volunteers and helps with set up before a race, and his normal clothes for this are khaki shorts, which would be pretty difficult to run in.
We tried to find him a spare pair, and found a random guy with sweat pant lulu shorts that were soooo tight on James, but the guy was willing to lend them to him, no questions asked.  Amazing, the type of people trail runners are.  Right before the start, we noticed James was wearing black shorts, so he’d obviously found something!  We found out later that our friend Joel had a pair for after the race that he had lent him.
Jay and I pre-race :  Brrrrr…
2013-08-24 10.58.12
It was a bit weird not having any of my usual starting line peeps with me.  Jay went into the first wave, and as much as it went into single track right away, I knew the first wave was too fast for me.  I started in the 2nd wave instead.  I really missed having Steve there to pace myself against!
The start of this race is KILLER.  It starts straight uphill and the air is noticeably thinner on top of the mountain, so you’re sucking air right from the start.  I was glad I started in the 2nd wave, and found a pretty good spot for me pretty much right away.
Heading out it’s all single track, rolling hills, and I was thankful that I had chosen a good spot, and didn’t have to worry about passing a ton of people, or on the flip side, having a ton of people pass me.  I didn’t feel great, and I didn’t feel terrible, I just attempted to run and enjoy.  I was sad to see Mike Murphy hiking back to the start line after twisting his knee off a rock and having to DNF.  Wishing Mike a speedy recovery, and hoping he enjoys a break from running while riding his bike!!
James leading a train of runners through the single track :
The first bit of this race always seems to fly by, and before I knew it, we hit the Enduro turn off, and started the massive climb.  Last year, I felt like I really improved during this climb, and felt so much stronger on it.  This year, not so much.
I counted how many people I passed (2), to how many people passed me (14!!), and that was a bit disheartening.  It also didn’t help to have the fellow making disgusting noises, heavy breathing, choking back puking, and actually pulling off to the side to puke, before jumping back in and continuing to climb, and be disgusting behind me.
I’m a pretty easy going trail runner, but this was beyond gross, and really this guy should’ve pulled off the trail, WAY off the trail, got his life together, before exposing all of us to his disturbing ways.  This really rubbed me the wrong way during the race, and still a few days later, sticks in my mind as being totally bad trail etiquette.
Anyways, I definitely struggled up this climb, and definitely felt like a very heavy hippo while climbing.  I mentioned the other day that I’ve put on a couple lbs, and it was really obvious during this “shorter & faster” race.  Thankfully, the climb ended, and while it was killer for a shorter course, it was nothing like the climbs I’ve been facing in recent races (ahem Knacker, SQ50, or FatDog).
The downhill after the big up I remember loving, but this time, I found it quite difficult, and found my body to be fighting me.  All sorts of little aches and pains were coming out, and my body just felt dead.  On top of babying my “not quite healed but ok to run on except when I twist it weird ankle”, I’ve also been having some sharp stabby pains in my knee which seemed to be highlighted during this hardcore downhill.
I ran with a man behind me during this section, and we seemed to get into a rhythm after the descent, where we were working together.  We caught up to and passed a couple people, and every now and then we exchanged a few encouraging words.
I felt like I was pushing my pace a bit being in front of him and couple other guys, but I knew that if I let my body off the gas and let them pass me, that I’d probably lose them.  We carried on together for a while, but after walking a couple of the rolling hills, we got to 1 hill that I had to walk, and they decided to run, so off they went.  And I was right, I couldn’t stick with them.
After passing the last aid station, I caught up to and passed a few more people, and I had a fairly good idea of what was to come, so I tried to keep a good clip while climbing.  As we leveled off a bit, I saw Rob in the distance, and wasn’t about to let the person behind me ruin a good picture opportunity, so I pushed past him in the front (obviously struggling).
On the last little dip climb, I was passed by the lady behind me, and coming up to the ski run, I knew it was a downhill finish.  My body didn’t want to co-operate at this point, but I looked at my watch, and saw that I’d be pretty close to last year’s time, and kicked up the pace a bit.  Nothing like some competition with yourself when you’re not quite feeling enough pep in your step to compete with and catch the other runners ahead of you.
I came down the hill, rounded the last corner, and was surprised to see James standing at the timing tent at the finish line.  I hadn’t seen him out there the entire race, and normally we’re pretty darn close, with me usually having the upper hand.  Turns out, we started in separate waves, that’s why we hadn’t seen each other, and his time was 30 seconds faster than me.  Coincidentally, Greg actually started in the wave behind me, and I never saw him out there, but we ended up with the exact same finishing time.  Funny.
Thankfully, the rain held off the entire run, and there was a bit of sun coming out after the race.  We hung out for awards, and then headed back down to the village for a group lunch. On the way down, I insisted our crew do the touristy thing and take a group photo at the Inukshuk.
2013-08-24 14.46.13
Love these peeps.  Even the random guy I just met that day!
Some other shots that Rob took that I just love!
Adam :
Gemma :
Jay :
These are some of my favorite shots from Rob – he’s so talented, you just never know what’s going to show up next!  I can’t wait to see the rest of the pictures from Saturday!
My official stats :
1:29:21 – 9/16 women 20-29, 116/210 overall

All results can be found here.
One thing I don’t like about the new timing company – RaceDay Timing, is that they don’t break down the results into overall male & females, just your age category and overall.  Kind of annoying to have to count all the males and females manually.
And now, for the nitty gritty race info/critique :
Overall, how would I rate this race?
Terrain/Course/Difficulty : A+. It’s a tough course!  The hardest of all the 5Peaks races, but also the most beautiful, and most rewarding.  There isn’t just peek-a-boo views, there is stunning views the entire time.  And the single track is rolling, and amazing.  It really is my favorite of all the 5Peaks courses I’ve run.  Definitely worth the trip up to Whistler!
Affordability and Value : B+.  All 5Peaks races are priced the same, and when signing up for all 5 in a year, you receive an extra discount as well as a Salomon shirt.  I think the pricing is always quite affordable and reasonable for the value you receive out of a 5Peaks race.  Our race day souvenier for this race was a towel!  One of my fave gifts we’ve received!  For this race, the uploading is done at an extra $13 cost to racers, which is way cheaper than just taking the Gondola & PeaktoPeak, a good deal for sure!  Also, Vega and Kicking Horse samples are available when checking in.
Organization : A.  SO many fantastic volunteers marshaling the course, absolutely everything was ran smoothly.  I really enjoyed everything about this race.
Overall, 5Peaks races have a system, and they are run so smoothly, and so efficiently, that it’s always going to be a well organized trail race, that you are going to enjoy.

It wasn’t exactly a beautiful day on the mountain, but it was still fantastic!  Although I had a sub-par race personally, it’s still a morning of running on top of Blackcomb Mountain.  How can you complain??  Especially when I get to spend time with old friends, new friends, meet readers, and get a workout in??  You just can’t go wrong.
But, I’ll be honest.  I’m looking forward to having a few weekends off of racing coming up.  My next race is 5Peaks Bunzten Lake on Sept 28th, and I’m really looking forward to going into it with a pair of fresh legs!!
Also, the 5Peaks Ladies of the Trails evenings are in full swing, and we are having a blast on Tuesdays – feel free to come out and join us – we are meeting at 6:30 at the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve Parking Lot until October 1st!  ANDDDD exciting news (details to come!!) we are going to be having a Ladies of the Trails weekend DAY on September 14th at Buntzen Lake, running the same courses that the race will be running!  The best place to stay up to date on info is on our Facebook page – join it here!