Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Crewing Cascade Crest 100

Cascade Crest 100! I have to say, this was THE most fun I've ever had crewing. No exaggeration. I mean this, holy crap, this was nuts, absolutely nuts. Ben Gibbard, combined with either Justin Jablonowski or Max Ferguson (@WoodpeckerMax), it was the perfect combination of hilarity and intelligent conversation. Our quiet moments were few, but even then, they were comfortable or excitingly intense based on the situation. I felt perfectly at ease with a rock star sitting next to me all day. We had Ben do the driving in his beat-up Prius and he was totally cool with Roxy in the car and any time he would scrape or bump something, he would make a funny comment letting us know it really didn't matter to him. He'd lean way forward over his steering wheel, as though that'd get us somewhere faster. He was so into it. I wish I could just tell you word for word every bit of every conversation all of us had and all the times we laughed at something. It just flowed effortlessly and was continuously back and forth. No one dominated and everyone was interested in everyone else. All of us kept spontaneously saying, "I'm having such a blast!" Best. Team. EVER.

As for the race, man, it was good. Going into it, Gary was concerned about his energy level having just spent the prior week doing all things Squamish 50. His fatigue definitely showed for the first 35 miles or so. He came into the first crew spot at mile 23 not looking good at all and saying "This isn't the start I wanted." I think he was 5th at the time. By the time he got to 33, he looked haggard, pale and defeated. He said his legs had been seizing and cramping for the entire run. He insisted on sitting down and Ben, for some reason, brought over the lowest chair he could find. Who knows why, but we made fun of him all day for it. I crouched in front of Gary and then Ben, Justin, Rich (one of my bffs and the RD) all semi-circled around him. James Varner of Rainshadow Running came over in his coconut shell bikini and grass skirt and gave him a talk about salt tabs and made him take a few and I kept telling G that all I wanted was for him to get out there and enjoy his day--to forget about course records or placement, but to finish the race and try to enjoy the adventure of it. Then local legend James Kirby (who paces Jamie Gifford at HURT and everywhere else, they're besties) came over and flat out asked Gary if he wanted to finish the race. Gary said he did--that he felt like shit, he didn't know how he would do it, but he'd walk the entire way if he had to. Finally, Justin suggested that he take a poop. Then Rich said he should probably try taking a poop. Then Ben did and then I did and then it seemed like everyone in the vicinity started saying taking a poop would make him feel better. "F**k you, guys," Gary smiled and then got up and left.

We rushed off to Meadow Mountain, mile 42 and figured we'd have lots of time. Gary had slipped into at least 8th, if not farther back since he'd let so many people run by when he'd sat down (aid stations kept track of times coming in, not out). Seth Swanson came casually running through, patted Roxy’s head and I impulsively blurted to him that his daughter was beautiful. Seriously, like impossibly beautiful. I'd seen her squeal-giggle at the last aid station and I thought there was no way she was real and not a cartoon. He'd placed his hand on the back of her head so as to see her pretty face better, then kissed his lovely wife and quietly ran on. I kept saying, "He's so nice." To which Ben would respond, "But we will crush him" or "F**k Seth Swanson."

Anyway, 2nd-4th came through and we thought we had more time when all of a sudden, I hear Gary's Woooooo! Roxy perked up and oh my god, it was Gary! Yesss!! He was rallying. He ran right in and congratulated the aid station captain, Ultra Pedestrian Ras on his latest "thingermabob" and then starting inhaling the watermelon. Ras was seriously beaming at Gary and I loved that G had even remembered that Ras had just done some massive self-supported hike. Ras told me later it was his favorite congratulations he'd received. Gary asked for soup, and then more soup, then more, and on the 4th cup I asked if he could just take the whole pot, but thankfully Gary was ready to continue.

Now we had some time to reorganize. We took Justin and Roxy back to the cabin our friends Eric and Kelly had rented right in the middle of the course, so they could rest. We eventually made our way to Hyak, mile 52, where we met pacer 1 of 2, Max Ferguson. Max is the perfect level of adorable nerd and very funny and very fast. He's had a rough year, and just dropped out of Squamish 50 miler the week before, but he seemed pumped and excited to go with his pacer bib folded to read ACE. He fell right into step with the team dynamic. 

Hyak always does a Christmas theme. Local mainstay, Eric Barnes even grew a short gray beard (which he claims is Gary inspired) to go with his Santa costume. Ben, Max and I had just put our chairs down across the pathway from one of those giant light-up, blow-up Santas people put on their lawns when all of a sudden, some drunk ~25 year old slams into the thing and falls to the ground, effectively flattening it. He gets up, laughing and starts walking away. Eric Barnes yells Hey and then the kid bolts. Well, Eric has a history of chasing criminals (long story of finding someone in his backyard who the police were chasing) and so Eric, in full costume, chased him down, grabbed him by the hoodie and yanked him to the ground. By this time, Rich had pulled up and was just in time to call Eric off (the actual quote is "Eric, disengage!") and they managed to get the kids, who'd dared the guy to karate kick the blow-up thing, to fork over $50 for it. 

In the meantime, Seth had already sauntered through and we saw 2nd, 3rd, 4th and then GARY! He came in pumping his fist in the air and ready to get rocking. He took less time here than at previous aid stations, gathered some more clothes and he and Max and took off. Things were getting exciting! Rich was seriously jittery with stoke over seeing Gary so revitalized.

As I was gathering up our supplies, Ben walked over to me holding a water bottle with gels stuffed into its pockets. "Is this Max's?" he asked. Oh shit. It was. Max had left without his bottle or nutrition. Thankfully, they weren't too far away and there was a short cut through a field. Ben bolted off and caught them just in the nick of time. Disaster averted!

Ben and I went back to the cabin to gather up Justin. We had a bit of time and Roxy was all over me and I couldn't figure out why. She'd been fed and had snacks, but she kept bumping into me asking for attention. When it was time to leave, we started heading for the door and Roxy, thinking I was following her, very enthusiastically bounced to the bedroom. She thought we were going to bed and she was so excited about it. She'd been begging for us to go to bed. Such a sweetheart. I tucked her in and told her I'd be back later.

Kachess Lake is mile 68 and generally fairly busy as it's often where people start pacing. The previous-to-Rich RD, Charlie Crissman was there, so we got to catch up for a bit, and then Rich showed up again. Seth was in and out with little fanfare and then 2nd came in, then 3rd and then GARY! Gary was in 4th! Max came in ahead of him and barely even acknowledged us, he was all business. Gary was ready for some more clothing and there was a quick panic as we couldn't find one bag that turned out to be stuffed inside of another bag. I told Gary he was looking awesome and that he was in 4th now and he gave me this look with a full-on twinkle in his eye. My heart skipped! At that moment, I knew he was on the hunt. Then, Gary was ready to go. He did a final visual sweep of his Josie and the Rhino drop bag (a la Kelly, everyone get one!) when his headlamp blinked. F**k. We weren't scheduled for a change for another 1-2 hours and this one had only lasted 2 hours. Not good. But at least good that it happened at that moment and not 10 minutes later when he wouldn't have access to a lamp change. He grabbed his fresh lamp and I had to switch out batteries for our next meet up.

This next stretch of trail is known as The Trail From Hell. Rich now calls it the Trail From Heck. It used to be covered with downed trees and was very technical. A lot of those trees have been cleared and some of the trail, from what I understand, has been graded and made more passable. Most people take between 2-3 hours for this 10k stretch. The last 3 guys to break the course record have all done it in 90 minutes. I'd told everyone this was the trail Gary had been waiting for and even if he did nothing else out there, he would eat up this bit like he does a box of popsicles. Gary did it in 79 minutes, the fastest ever during the race, and that was with a casual walk up the hill drinking soup. 

The drive between Kachess Lake and Mineral Creek, mile 74-ish, is about 40 miles. We knew it was going to be tight. Ben was laser beam focused and dealt with the highway construction's odd placement of their orange barrels like a champ. The drive takes you through Roslyn, of Northern Exposure fame and even the race's directions mention that it's a speed trap. We were stuck behind a very slow car when it finally turned right, Ben started to accelerate and in an instant, red and blue lights started flashing. Justin said he saw that we'd only been going 24mph in the 25mph zone, so we knew nothing was wrong. The officer put his face into the window and said Ben had a light out in the back. He took his ID and registration and Justin pointed out that the officer was obviously sniffing us out to see if we were drunk. The cop came back and said, "You all with the race?" This struck me as odd because we were one of maybe only three or four crews that had driven to Mineral Creek. Most people skip that spot because it is such a tight turn around. When we finally got to the spot, I told this gal we know in someone else’s crew that we'd been pulled over and she says, "Me too! He said I was speeding, but then let me go because he also said he really was just making sure I wasn't drunk. I told him I was with the race." It all made sense.

Mineral Creek is a quiet spot, since, as I said, most people skip crewing here. We hung out with one woman who was crewing who'd never been so far out of the city before and couldn't stop talking about the stars. The other crew belonged to Salomon Flight Crew member, Andy Reed of Alberta. His wife, Saira had her boys turn out their lamps and we all quietly stared at the universe. It was a lovely moment.

Jeff Hashimoto came through in 2nd. He's a local favorite as he's the cross country coach for a nearby high school. Again, a super nice guy who was hard to root against. But Gary was right on his heels. Gary, however, wanted a few minutes to sit. This time, we gave him a decently sized chair and started feeding him and putting more clothing on him. Within minutes, Gary was shaking from cold and we had to boogie him out of there. I made him drink some hot coffee and then Justin and he were on their way. I wish we had a photo of what Justin was wearing. He had on some crazy patterned tight spandex shorts, his SQ50 shirt and the wig Gary wore to pace me at Grindstone, all Justin's idea. It was awesome.

There wasn't much else for us to do now. Just wait and see. Ben had brought Red Bulls for us because as he said in an email, "They give you wings and whatnot." He and I had slammed Red Bulls together at Mineral and we were both regretting it as we'd compromised our ability to sleep with all that whatnot. Ben, however, fell asleep as soon as he hit the couch. Max, too. We got into the cabin and he disappeared, melting into a couch before anyone knew he’d gone. Me? No dice. But I rested for a few hours and then woke the fellas up to get going again.

Everyone was noticeably tired. Roxy tried to not come with us, but we all stumbled to the car and our energy started coming back. We had one last stop before the finish line. Silver Creek is mile 96 and pretty much a place where people drop all their things and go. Seth had already won in a smokin' new course record of 17:56, beating the old record by over 30 minutes. We set ourselves up and Roxy barked at a far off dog who was barking at her. Pretty soon, Jeff came flying through and barely paused at the table. Gary was about 15 minutes behind him. He wanted soup, which the aid station hadn't even started yet, so he side stepped like a crab looking at everything on the table and in his bag before he grabbed some chocolate and shot out of there. 

We ran back to the car and rushed to the finish line. We saw Jeff come in, looking happy and proud. Gary made 5 minutes up, so was only about 10 minutes later. He ran that last section in only 34 minutes, which would’ve been another section record if Seth didn’t exist with his 29:50 minute split.

I gave Roxy the word and she rushed out to greet Gary in her loud, hilarious style we’ve all come to know and love. Gary came barreling through the finish line and ran straight at me for a huge hug, almost knocking me back! He was so pumped and so amped! He started thanking everyone and congratulating Jeff and Seth and was speaking faster than he was running and so loudly! I think he scared soft spoken Seth who I witnessed take a step back from Gary when he was babbling on. I reached out and did my "turn the volume down" arm brush and Gary glanced at me and laughed because he realized what he was doing. Then he started hugging everyone with great enthusiasm--big armed bear hugs. I told Seth to hurry out while he had the chance (he and his wife needed to go get their kids). Oh, it was so fun to watch! 

Since then, we've both been catching up on rest and odds and ends regarding work, Trail Running Canada and Coast Mountain Trail Series. It's been a busy week with brains that just want to shut down and sleep. Every day is a bit better and I'm grateful we had the last couple of days off. Long weekends mean neither of us gets many emails. Gary's been living in his Cascade Crest blue hoodie (so jealous of it) and periodically picking up his buckle to admire it.
CCC Crew with Ben way in the background
driving back to Seattle
Proof Ben Gibbard was there...
...at least with Laura Houston
Photo by Laura Houston

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Knee Knacker Goals - LBR

Knee Knacker North Shore Trail Run is this Saturday (!) and I’ve been inspired by Salomon Flight Crew member Tom Craik to put my race goals out there for the world to see. However, my motivation is a little different. You see, my husband Gary Robbins won this thing last year. I will not. I do not want there to be any confusion as to why my performance out there pales greatly in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, running the entire Baden-Powell trail end to end is no small feat. I just won’t be doing it at the same kind of blistering pace as Gary did. Not even close.

Please note: This is GARY winning and NOT ME.
So what are my goals? I tend to break my goals down into A, B and C goals. A: An easy, approachable, sure to make me feel like a success kind of goal. B: A push me a bit and keep me honest kind of goal. C: A “reach” goal, one in which if everything were to go completely perfectly, I’d be thrilled and almost shocked to achieve.

A: My primary goal of any race in which Gary and I have both participated is to not double Gary’s time. So far so good on this one in races past, regardless of distance, although someone named Ryne Melcher could possibly fact-check me on this. Last year, Gary ran a 4:41 which gives me a luxurious 9:22 to finish. The cut-off time is 10 hours and I’m not generally a cut-off chaser, so I feel pretty confident that I’ll make this goal. But on the off-chance I’m just not having my day out there, this gives me a nice cushion of time to relax, slow down and ensure that I continue to have fun. My general rule has always been if I’m not having fun, I probably need to slow down a bit and I definitely need a snack.

B: Around 8 hours. This goal will keep me in check and make sure that I’m not dilly dallying out there too much. I’ve run a fair number of these babies, so I have an idea of how hard I can push myself without doing anything too stupid, but I’ve also been known to get caught up in conversation and forget that I’m actually in a race. This is a time goal that I feel is reasonable. It will make me push, keep me focused, yet not completely crush me.

C: Around 7:30. Ultrasignup has me finishing in 7:25. I’m kind of flattered by this because most of the time I see the Ultrasignup prediction and I’m appalled at how slow it thinks I’ll be. As an example, it has me finishing my next 100 miler, IMTUF in 42:51 where there is a cut-off of 36 hours. C’mon. Although I have a basic understanding of the algorithm Ultrasignup uses to predict finish times, the full explanation is a thecret only Thad knows. I try not to put too much weight on this prediction for KK, but given how well my training has been going and given how often I run on the Baden-Powell, I’m feeling like if everything goes right, this could actually happen. And as my eventual crew member, training partner and other half of Linda Squared, Linda Wong said, “They’ve put so many boardwalks on the trail in the second half, you’re bound to go faster than you think.”
Doing a KK taper run at Rubble Creek with half my crew, Linda Wong.
Side note: USA! nails
Overall, I'm pretty excited for this day. Gary will be down pacing and crewing for Adam Campbell at Hardrock, so Linda Wong and Kat Chong have offered to be my support team. I'm pretty low maintenance and I don't think I've ever had crew for a 50-ish-k, but I'm absolutely looking forward to seeing these two smiling at me and giving me hugs in spite of sweat and grime.

I'm especially looking forward to participating in the oldest 30 mile race in Canada, one that is virtually in my backyard and means so much to my adopted Canadian trail running community that has so wonderfully accepted me into its fold. It's so fun to see everyone get all hyped up and nervous for this event and I'm positive this energy will feed me all day. Let's do this!

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!