Monday, May 22, 2017

The Cumby 23k Race Report

This is going to be a quick and dirty race report (for real!)- because the sun is shining and there are more adventures to be had!
And we're off!  Great shot of the 23k race start from Kathy Campbell

The Cumby 23k Trail Run

The Cumby 23k fit right into my schedule this year, so I signed up without hesitation, looking forward to racing in my back yard for the first time in a very long time.  As the RD for the Perseverance Trail Run, I have been behind the mic in our local trail racing scene for over a decade and it was a pleasure to be on the other side of the stage as a participant in The Cumby!  I was giddy with the novelty of stepping up to the registration tables in the same spot that I have hovered over as RD for 13 years.  So fun to pin on a bib and get to be a part of the excitement in the trails!

The weather was ridiculously fantastic, with the rain stopping just for the race, it seemed.  The Cumby 53k racers already had 2 hours under their sneakers by the time our sprint race started at 9am and they would still be out there for many hours after we had crossed the finish line.  The Cumby 53k is a VERY challenging ultra course with a surprising amount of elevation gain, so be sure to check it out if you are looking for a challenge!

The race started in a full on sprint with the fasties busting off the line like race horses.  I wasn't going to be able to keep that up, so I quickly settled into my own groove and mentally prepared to follow my personal race plan for the day.  I had a big weekend of training on the books and this 23k was just the warm up.  I was planning to run another 20k after the race and then follow that with a back to back long run the day after.  But...sometimes plans change...

My plan was to run the first 2/3s of the race very conservatively, at my all day, pace, with no heavy breathing and no burning legs allowed.  Then, I would gradually ramp up the pace over the final 7 or 8kms and drain the tank by the time I reached the finish line for a short interval of Z2-3 work.  I had had a big couple of weeks of training beforehand, including multiple track sessions and a big volume of strength work - no taper for me!  My legs were dead tired and my calves were still in knots from a big speed session two days before, so I made sure to do an extra thorough warm up to help my body (and mind!) prepare as best as possible.  5kms and multiple sets of skills and drills later, I was ready to roll!

The race starts up the Davis Lake Main logging road for a hundred meters, and then you get a quick break from the climb and you are off the road and into the single track right away.  About half a km to catch your breathe and find your groove, and then the first of 3 main climbs begins.  The route climbs up Bronco's Perseverance, a lovely grade and comfortably runnable, if you are holding a steady pace.

After Bronco's there is a few metres of flat road before one of the steepest climbs is thrown at you- Broadway trail.  This is one of the original downhill bike trails (built by the ladies aka broads fyi!) but it isn't quite as fun on the way up lol!  A few trekking steps to give the calves a break and switch muscle groups, and we were quickly through the worst of it and running again to the top.  The route then crosses Perseverance Creek via the new (and bomber) Sykes bridge and takes a quick left onto Steam Donkey trail for some fun rolling single track.  Not much excitement going on for me as I was plodding along in my all day pace, trying not to get roped into race mode too early!  It was a lovely run through Steam Donkey and then up Teapot, which isn't so bad, when you aren't trying to climb it on your bike (perspective!).  Then the hardest climb for me, but also short and sweet,  and the LAST big climb of the day, up to the top of Truffle Shuffle.  It was hands on thighs for everyone around me and we trekked our way in a steady rhythm to the top...knowing it was all downhill from there! know;)

Time for Vanilla!  This is why I climb up things!  I climb so that I can to rip down beautiful descending single track like this trail.  Vanilla is a mountain bikers dream with birmed corners and smooth rollers that you just can't help but pop off.  Built to perfection, and meant for flow, I just can't get enough of this trail on my bike!  And on foot it is almost just as fun;)  Especially when you have ridden it before- because you can 'be like a bike" and get into the flow.  Not quite as fast...but pretty darn fun!

At the bottom of Vanilla, the route takes a quick right and the rolling single track continues, down Short Line, Blue Collar, Swamp Monster, Scat and Brat and Crafty Butcher (all classic Cumberland XC trails) before reaching the solo aid station on the course, at about the 11k mark.  I had plenty of water in my flasks, so I just waved to say thank you and boogied right on by.

The second 'half' of the course started with the undulating Two Flats trail before taking a hard right onto the real bit of gravel road in the race,  connecting us to the 'Eastern Block' trail network.  Up up up on a gradual but steady climb we settled into Rapture Trail for the journey up to the final high point of the course, over on Fuji Jim mountain.  The views are amazing on this section of the course!  A wide view of the Beaufort Mountains still covered in snow and a panorama of the Salish Sea, Gulf Islands and even the mainland on a clear day.  One of the best views in the valley is found on that Fuji Jim aka Little Nikkei.

At the top, we were greeted by a friendly man who was offering up strips of maple bacon but the vegetarian in me stuck out my tongue and politely declined;)  A loop on the top and then it was back onto Rapture for the longest continuous flow single track to be had in Cumberland...Rapture never disappoints!

At the bottom of Rapture the work began, as I was pushing my pace and knowing full well that there were still endless mini hills and twisting single track before the finish line.  You are so close but still sooooo far away once you enter the 'Childs' trail network.  Mondays, Wednesdays, Tuesdays...who knows which day, they all blend together and have you begging for the weekend to arrive!  I was zipping along with my tunes by then and had managed to pass a few peeps here and there, moving myself up to 2nd place and still feeling plenty of energy in my legs.  I was just getting warmed up!  Ha! That's what ultra running does to your legs!  Takes at least 2 hours to get into a groove.

Once I saw the BMX track I knew it was only about a km to the finish and a big smile came over my face- wahoo!  Just hold the pace and bring it in I thought.

As I rounded the corner onto the Colliery Line trail that leads to the finish, I passed a very tired looking racer who appeared to have reached his limit just a half a km from the end.  I gave him a thumbs up and encouraging words as I passed him, and then not 10 feet later, WHAM!  My left calf went into a full spasm as my foot touched the ground and I felt a searing pain, that had me stumbling nearly to the ground.  Oh no! Not now I thought!  A calf cramp?  I am so close!  Those ladies are coming!  I thought I could shake it out after a moment of walking but I soon realized that I had strained the muscle severely and I couldn't physically weight bare on the leg.  WTH?  This spasm took me completely by surprise and I couldn't piece it together.  There was no warning of twinges or threats of cramping at any point in the run, I had taken it super easy and I was just holding a steady pace on the flats.  My calves being tight and tired were the only clue, but things didn't add up for me at the time.  The racer I had just passed told me to grab onto his shoulder so that he could help me finish.  'No! I can't do that!  You are so tired!'  But after trying unsuccessfully to put any weight on my left leg, I realized I didn't really have a choice.  I graciously accepted his assistance and we hobbled it in on those final metres together.  I felt terrible, adding to his fatigue, so I opted to try and one leg it for the final metres and with searing pain and a lovely grimace I made it to race central, looking over my shoulder the entire time!  Luckily I had enough of a gap on the next woman, that I held my place and once I saw that downhill stretch to the finish line, I sucked it up and ran in as fast as I could- to make it stop!  2nd female and a time of about 2:15 I believe.  Across the line and the pain returned in full, along with the realization that I had torn something and this would not be a quick fix.  A big hug and thank you to my saviour who half carried me in and then I hit the road, trying to walk it out (still in denial).  Once I realized it wouldn't be letting up and that my big weekend of ultra training would no longer be happening, I climbed in my car and drove out to Comox Lake to numb the pain.  Half an hour later and I was really limping but at least I couldn't feel anything lol!

I have made an awesome recovery in the past week, and it appears that much of the pain was due to spasms and muscle guarding after all.  Looking back I can now put a few pieces of the puzzle together (post 55k Zion Ultra fatigue + big emotional fatigue the month prior = adrenal fatigue + super tight calves = breaking point).  After 4 days on one leg and every treatment known to human kind, the muscles began to relax and I have improved exponentially ever since.  The human body, never ceases to amaze me!  Big thank you to my team for all of the love this week: Dr Kneeland my Naturopath, Michelle at CV Acupuncture, Amber P for Massage at Dynamic Spine, Derek Vinge for laser and ART at Fit Chiro, Jared at Ascent Physio.  I'm gonna be back before you know it thanks to this crew!

Overall I have to say that I LOVED The Cumby 23k course.  It highlighted some of the best single track in Cumberland (and that's saying a lot because we have a tonne!), included a nice mix of climbing, descending and undulating terrain and really made me smile!  The end was just evil enough but not too evil (i.e. no big climbs) to make you feel like you really had to work for it.  The Cumby is a very well organized race, a great community event and a fun way to explore the trails of Cumberland.  BIG thank you goes out to all of the organizers, volunteers and sponsors who made this event happen so that we could go out and play in the trails!

See you next year!

The Cumby 23 and 53k
Fundraiser for the Cumberland Community Forest Society
Hosted by Comox Valley Road Runners

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Dream Cookies

Finally...after years of licking spoons and testing cookies I have created the ultimate...the perfect...the most amazing...the 'Dream Cookie'.

I eat these for snacks, I eat these for breakfast, I eat these just cuz they are delicious and nutritious and just so darn tasty.  Try them out for yourself and let me know what you think!  They can be gluten and dairy free and I have included some suggestions for swaps in the recipe below.  Enjoy!

Looking for more great, healthy recipes to fuel you the right way? Pick up a copy of my cookbook, NRG Foods that will move you today!  E-book or hard copy.

Dream Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

1/3 cup soft/melted coconut oil (put the bowl in your pre-heating oven)
Blend: (I use a magic bullet)
3/4 cup natural peanut butter (sub for any other nut or seed butter you like)
1/4 cup water (up to 1/3 if needed)
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup maple syrup
1tsp vanilla

1 cup oat flour (I blend in the magic bullet before I use it for the wet ingredients)
3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup dried cherries (any dried fruit you like)
1/2 cup (or more!) dark chocolate chips or chunks.
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine everything together in a big mixing bowl, then drop by big tablespoons onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven.  Makes 24 tbs size cookies.

Nutrient Facts
Per cookie
95 calories
9grams fat
17grams carbohydrate
3grams protein

Pretty much perfect for a long run, hike or breakfast on the go!  Good luck eating just one!  I store mine in the freezer so I can't see them;)

Tea time!

Bon appetite!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Zion 50K 2017 Race Report

"She believed she could.  So she did."

It is hard to believe that a year has passed since I was last in the desert, to run 50k. And yet, so much has happened this past year that the Grand Canyon Ultra feels like an eternity away. A year ago, I was just beginning to recover from my crash and whiplash and the timing just wasn’t right for a 50k run. I spontaneously combusted and dropped at the first aid station after running only 5kms and then limping on one leg another 15kms, to get myself out. First time for everything, including a DNF.

Friday, March 17, 2017

How To Become An Efficient (and fast) Runner

Whether it is your first 10k, faster 21k or an ultra adventure, the key to your success in endurance training and racing is not simply adding more miles.  Nope.  The key, to moving faster and further without as much fatigue is training your body to become:

adjective: efficient
(especially of a system or machine) achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.

Friday, March 3, 2017

How To Transform Your Body

Are you ready to roll?
You have body composition goals.  I am here to help.  Step 1: Education.  Step 2: Action.  Step 3: Patience.  Let's get to work on Step 1...

Gaining Muscle

Gaining muscle takes work. In order to build muscle, the body needs an overload stimulus, sufficient calories, optimal protein and carbohydrate macro ratios, nutrient timing and adequate recovery. Gaining muscle not only increases muscle tone and strength, but also improves metabolism so that we are burning a higher amount of calories every minute of the day. Strength training itself also burns a great amount of calories and results in a significant ‘after burn’ of increased metabolism for the hours following a training session. This combined increase in metabolic rate results in an improved body composition (as more fat is lost). If you want to lose fat- don’t underestimate the power of pushing hard in the gym- cardio alone is NOT the best way to do it. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Favourite Winter Gear

I just got home from a long, chilly, hard, sweaty, steep, snowy ultra training run and dropped my kit on the floor in the foyer.  Thump.  'I wonder how much my pack weighs?', I think.  I can't wait until I am running free of the load and the layers and all of the gadgets in my upcoming race in the desert.  But, I sure am grateful for all of the gear I have that keeps me happy and comfortable during winter training!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Weight Management: How to Create Your Nutrition Budget

Imagine for a moment, the feeling of running with a 20 pound backpack.  Then imagine, you slip the pack off and run free from the extra load.  Can you feel the lightness?  The ease and freedom of movement?  I'll bet you can.

This is the same sensation of running with or without an extra 10, 20, 30 or more pounds of body weight to carry with you.  Increased body mass, specifically fat, as it is 'non-functional weight',  increases the workload of locomotion.  It is harder for the muscles to propel you forward, harder for the blood to circulate to greater areas and harder for the body to thermoregulate during exercise when you are carrying a significant amount of extra weight.  All of this increased effort, results in a higher energy and oxygen requirement and the result is a feeling of greater fatigue at any given pace (movement is harder).  This is most evident during running, as there are no toys to assist in forward motion (skii's, boat, bike etc) but is still noticible in all activities.  Those extra 20 pounds above a healthy body weight increase your effort while decreasing your pace...but...I'm sure you already knew that;) 

So how to lose those 20 pounds?  More on that in a moment.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Training Principles: Maintenance

"You can do anything, but not everything." 
- David Allen

You know I believe you can do anything. I really do. Dream big! Shoot for the stars! Rock your goals and claim your vision!

You just can't do everything, at once. My friend, athlete and Journey Coach, Sarah Erikkson says this ALL the time. And I love it!

Enter the Maintenance Principle.

There are many different areas that we want to improve through conditioning: endurance, strength, speed, power and everything in between. But, we cannot improve them all at once. If we try and fill our weeks with everything, then we will not allow for adequate time/volume, to create optimal improvement in any of the areas. A professional, periodized training plan follows the principle of Periodization, which includes different phases of training that allow the athlete to focus on specific components of fitness, while maintaining others and not losing gains in the process.
How? Read on!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Training Principles: Overtraining

You have been rocking your workouts and adding extra training sessions to your week, just because you are feeling so damn great!  You almost feel invincible!  Now is the time to find out what you are capable of and push even further, harder and faster, right?

You have been doing all of your training sessions but you felt slower on your last couple of runs/rides.  Easy pace didn't feel easy and your heart rate is too high.  You couldn't get your speed up to target pace during your last couple of interval sessions.  You are training so hard but your performance is stale or getting worse.  Now is the time to push further, harder and faster, right?

You are beyond stressed out at work and home life is just as crazy right now.  You can't get to bed before midnight but you still have to get up early and do it all again tomorrow. You feel like you are burning the candle at both ends and man, now your throat is a bit sore. You missed your key workouts last week because of 'life' and exhaustion.  Now is the time to make up those workouts and push yourself to squeeze even more in, right?


Friday, January 13, 2017

Training Principles: Overload

 Are you following the same program in the gym and lifting the same weights that you were last year, or the year before last (or not doing any strength training at all??) and wondering why you don't seem to get any stronger?  Or, have you been running the same pace, the same route and following the same running schedule all year, or for many years and wonder why you aren't getting any faster?  Well, folks, I'm here to give you a friendly reminder that the same old just ain't gonna work;).  Results take focus, effort and overload balanced with optimal recovery (and nutrition) and you need a progressive training plan for that.

If you aren't progressing, you are maintaining or regressing.  It's as simple as that. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Minds Eye: 2016 Reflections

9 amazing moments from my 2016.  L-R from top left:  Castlecraig Loop, Comox Lake Bluffs, Brianna at Run BC on the Iceline Trail,  Comox Lake bluffs, again the bluffs (one of my sanctuaries),  Mt. Cokely summit, Landslide Lake, My back 40, Summit of the Golden Hinde, highest point on Vancouver Island.  The worlds most beautiful playground right in my backyard :)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Holiday Fit Gift Guide!

Need some ideas for under the tree this year?  We've got you covered!  Give the gift of health and an experience that will change the lives of your loved ones in a positive way(or yourself!).  Cheers to less stuff and more experiences!  Here are some ideas to get your inner Clause inspired:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

MOMAR Cumberland 2016 Race Report

Image: Dave Silver  - or is that a Bryan Tasaka selfie?

Can I do a short race report?  Let's find out!

Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race 2016
50kms of paddling, trail running, mountain biking and orienteering in the best place on earth- my backyard, Cumberland.  Read on for a little background, my race report and my top reasons why I love MOMAR (and why I think you should do one if you haven't already)...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Story: Magic in the Mountains

Magic in the Mountains

Originally printed in Comox Valley Collective, Spring 2016 issue 

An endless coastline, mild climate, and constant ocean breeze are all part of life on Vancouver Island. Most visitors come to Canada’s lush West Coast isle to stroll the beaches, play in the surf, and get a taste of Island time.

But Vancouver Island hides a wild secret far away from its sandy shores.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Gear Review: 66 Audio BTS Wireless Headphones

How do these things even stay on?  Cool design!

This summer, 66 Audio asked it I would like to test drive their BTS wireless head phones.  Of course I would!  I love testing new gear and was excited to see how these wireless headphones would perform on my various adventures.  I have always been an ear bud person, so I will admit I was a bit skeptical about how I would enjoy the external style headphones.  Here is how my test drive went down...

Summitting The Golden Hinde in a Single Day

I had been there before...but had never reached the summit.  My last trip to the Golden Hinde was a 3 day, solo walk-about at a pace designed to clear my mind.  This time, the pace was set to try and get to the summit and back in a single day.  Of course, it had been done before by many adventurous (and impatient) fastpackers.  But, I hadn't ever heard of a woman's single day time...

"Hey!  Wanna go for the Hinde on August 27th?"  

...And so...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Two Weeks in Iceland

This pretty much sums it up.  If you like the nature, you should just go.
Look how at peace Ms Nicole is here at Skogafoss.

Iceland is a raw land that is full of history, bold contrasts and mind blowing supernatural sights.  I recently had the chance to explore Iceland on a two week adventure and we saw a surprising amount of the country in this short time.  This post highlights our itinerary and my favourite images from our trip to the land of the Vikings.