Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Off season training

So I didn't get into Western States, damn lotto. Looking for something else to race and Pine to Palm 100 looks to fit the bill. In the meantime I am trying to keep the midriff down with some fun winter activities. Here are a few pics.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The North Face Endurance 50 miler

This was my last ultra of the season, and going in to this one, I have to say I was a bit concerned about my form. It has been a long season for me, starting with the Blackfoot Ultra 100km in May, then Sinister 7 in August, a bit of a low point late August at Iron Legs 50 miler, then quite the break until the North Face 50 miler December 3. It's been tricky getting in long runs with the weather, darker evenings, and really just losing motivation to keep running through November when the XC skip trails are opening up!

Dean Karnazes & Mike Wardian at the pre-race Q&A
So going in to this, I was pretty certain I hadn't put in enough long runs, and I was quite worried about my ability to get through 80km and 10,000ft of climbing in the Marin headlands.

I had 4 aims going into this one:

1. Hang with the front group for the first 1-2 km (it was a stacked field, the who's who of North American Ultra running). My son told me to kick Geoff Roes ass in a text as I was leaving! Mmmm, no fear of that!

2. Top 50 in the Men's field (too many fast girls to get top 50 overall).

3. Break top 10 in my age group (the old geezers over 40 class).

4. Catch my wife, who was starting the 50km race 2 hours after me. We figured if I had a great race, and she had an Ok race, I may catch her in the final mile or two.

For starters I'll say, this was an incredible race, on amazing trails, unbelievable scenery, warm conditions, great post race beer tent, and very well organized. If you are looking for a challenging 50 miler in December, this has to be it. And it's a sea level race!!! When you train year round at 6000, this is a total winner, and I was really hoping that the thick air would get me through this one!

The downside was the early start - up at 2:20am to get a taxi from Downtown San Francisco to the shuttle over the Golden Gate bridge, for the 5am start. Still, an early start means an early finish. Why doesn't the Sinister 7 start at 5am?

The race started, as expected, at a ridiculous pace, being cheered out by Dean Karnazes - pretty cool.

We headed out at 4 min/km by headlamp. Yes, I hung with Roes, Wardian, Wolfe, Jones et al for about 1.5km. Hal Koerner passed me at about 1km. Goal number 1, check.

The hectic start
I settled into a steady pace, feeling surprisingly good, sitting in behind top female runner, Krissy Moehl. She kicked my butt in the end, by more than I care to mention, but I was with her for the first 20 miles. The start in the dark was hectic, and as the field spread out on the first long climb, I had to keep a good look out for the flagging tape marking turns. Still, by daylight, and 2 hours in, I'd covered the first 21km and was feeling great. I had decided to go with 1 water bottle, and drink only water between aids. In the past I've had stomach issues and nausea with sports drinks, and the water strategy seemed to work all the way to the finish. Aid stations were every 5 miles or so, so I figured out I could fuel up and drink calories at aid stations.
Saira cranking

As the sun came up the true beauty of the trails became evident with incredible vistas across the headlands to the Pacific Ocean. The trails were never too technical, but continuously up and down and interesting. At about 18 miles we were out on the final single track out and back, and the lead guys and girls started passing us on their way back in. The pace looked incredible, and it was cool to run so close to the big guns.

By mile 25 I was feeling great, though the endless steps on Dipsea were fatiguing the quads somewhat. I had hooked up with an accountant from New York, Ben, and we pretty much ran the rest of the race together. Ben was descending quicker than I was, but I seemed to catch and pass him on every climb, so we were well matched, and the conversation was good.

By the final 10 miles, with a couple go big climbs still ahead of me, I was still feeling incredible for this late stage in a 50 miler, and I began looking ahead for my wife, Saira, in amongst the 50km and marathoners we were now passing on the way back in. She was wearing pink CEP sleeves so should have been easy to spot. Heck, where is she I thought. As it turned out she was enjoying the sea level oxygen saturations as much as I was!

So I cranked the last few miles to the finish as best I could. 8h 42 final time, and my best ultra by far. No nausea, cramps or foot issues.

I finished 60th in the men's field - goal no. 2, fail.

I was 10th in the old geezers over 40 class - goal no. 3, check.

I didn't catch my wife - she crossed the line in her 50km debut in 6h 40, 2 mins ahead of me. Chapeau, to you, Saira!

Thanks to The North Face for such a cool race. Thanks to the weather gods for being kind. Thanks to Ben for the chit chat miles 20-50, and thanks to Grandpa Rutter for watching the kids whilst we were off galavanting in the sunshine!

Posing at the finish
First Ultra, in the bag.

Men's Podium

Ellie Greenwood & Dakota Jones

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Canmore 50km Ultra

Just signed up for this baby.

Check it out at

Gonna scope the last leg by headlamp and moonlight tonight with Tony. Cougar bait!!

Snowshoe season is here!

And I love it. What a blast today up on highway 93. Cold but awesome views and conditions.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Canmore trails are still in great shape

The trails are still in great shape for
running throughout much of the Bow
Valley. The Highline trail this morning was a blast. A bit more snow up high and the snow shoes will be out.

Only one more race this year for me in California at The North Face Endurance 50miler, so I am trying to keep the mileage up. Fortunately the weather is cooperating as I enter my taper period.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Up the Gap

Running up the rough road to Whiteman's Gap from downtown Canmore is maybe not the most enticing sounding of runs, but it's one of my regular runs for a few reasons. The grade is perfect, never too steep, and I can keep a steady pace all the way to the top. The views are great - both down towards Canmore and further up to the peaks along the Spray, and a good up close look at EEOR and Ha Ling. And lastly there is a good choice of descents - a high speed roll back the way you came, a technical single track descent down the Reclaimer, down by the climbing crags of Grassi lakes, and finally from Grassi, under the big pipe and down Riders of Rohan towards the High Line West connector. All are well worth the effort.

The climb can be dusty with traffic in the summer, but this time of year is about perfect! Enjoy the pics.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Took a jaunt with my good buddy Tom Zidek down the Georgetown trail in the Canmore Nordic Centre today. It came with the usual Zidek twist however as we took a sharp turn off the main trail and explored about 4 km of old overgrown single track. This was a lot of fun and would make a great winter snow shoe run from town in a big snow year - here's hoping! We finished with the obligatory Zidek bushwack along the Bow river.

10km, 1h 10m

Saturday, October 29, 2011

High Line West connector

Time was at a premium this morning due to other commitments but fortunately I was able to get in a quick run up the west end of the Highline Trail. It was a beautiful morning and the trails are in great fall shape. Here are a few shots I took along the way.

Total distance just over 8 kilometers. Total ascent 300 meters

Monday, October 24, 2011

What a difference a few days makes.

Last week I ran the Highline trail in Canmore in it's entirety, and except for the occasional muddy patch it was clear and dry. Check out this morning's run. Yup, old man Winter is on his way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Highline trail

Canmore's Highline trail is a total gem, and a regular route. It's a short distance from where I live and there are several variations depending on how much time is available.

My preferred running direction is East to West, as I get a nice easy leg stretching warm up on the flats, running from downtown Canmore to the Three Sisters Area a few km east. If you run all the way to the West end and descend down the Riders of Rohan descent, or the newer switchbacks of the West Highline it drops you out by the dam, a couple of km from the Nordic centre. From there, it's an easy cruise downhill to down town. Around 15-20km depending on the finish with close to 500m elevation gain. It's possible to do this one all winter as it's popular and there's usually a well packed down trench the whole way.

Looking up to Ha Ling
At the top of the East end climb
Looking down from one of the middle section gullies
It's well signed, the whole way, so you cannot get lost!

Mental running

I was in Wilcox Saskatchewan for Thanksgiving dinner this weekend with an old friend. Four days without running was a bit much (though the multiple games of shinny on the ice at Notre Dame school may have made up for it) so I ventured out for a 15 km run before dinner. And it had to be the most utterly boring run I have ever done. Essentially a big square on completely flat grid roads, and a hefty wind to boot. Mental toughness, that's what I kept telling myself I was developing. Sask runners must be tough.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Suunto MiniPod

I got a Suunto foot minipod last week - bought online through I was a little hesitant at first as I had initially thought it was one if these 'measure your stride length' devices and it will then estimate distance, which obviously isn't a great solution for trail/mountain running. However, it actually works by calculating your stride length with it's accelerometer and sensors, so it's a very clever, sophisticated piece of kit.

It pairs up very quickly with the t6d, and out of the box seems very accurate though I have yet to do any 'official' calibration. It seems to work better than the GPS pod which is a bit finicky in the woods, though seems great out on the mountains.