Monday, April 18, 2011


 First, I just want to say how great it is to have every other Saturday off from work. This new schedule is working out really well. My day is longer, but I get more done in that day, and the Saturdays are a like a bonus!

That said, this Saturday was my day off but I was still working. I went to the CHFA (Canadian Health Food Association) show with the store's owners, and it was well worth it. I wasn't obligated to go, but I really wanted to see what such an event was like.

The photo shows all of the samples I came home with. I also received too many brochures and price sheets for company specials.

 There is so much available for vegans now it's remarkable. Most reps at the booths know what vegan is whenever I asked about their products, or they saw my pass and the name of the shop and would stop me to show what they had suitable for vegans.

We didn't even get to all of the aisles and we were there from 10 am to about 4:30. It was tempting to go back on Sunday for more samples, but I think we covered enough ground to take advantage of the show specials and find out about some new possibilities. Plus, the show's guidebook has all of the exhibitors listed along with their websites, so I can shop around that way as well. It was definitely a learning experience and I felt a bit like a rookie and an easy target for someone to pitch their products to me. There's definitely an art to getting the info you need and getting away quickly.


 Sunday db and I decided to start hiking the trail that I will be running at the end of May for the Tender Knee event.

I did my run in the morning on the inlet trail the runs along the water and is a 3 k distance when you run from one end to the other. I did that a few times to get in my required time for the week, and the went home to meet up with db.

We drove to the North Shore and the parking lot where I started the last trail run (My First Trail Race). We found the Twin Bridges trail, which is a wide double track road that winds down towards the Seymour River.

Along the way I noticed this area cut into the hill that looked like wood grain, but we assumed it was rock. I took a picture of course. db touched the surface to reveal that it's actually clay. It was very dry and crumbly underneath.
 Seymour River. There's a trail that runs for many kilometers along the river called the Fisherman's trail. I expect it's very popular, and we did see a couple on bikes (the trail is quite bikeable) with paniers and fishing poles strapped to their racks on the back.
 Twin Bridges trail. It's nice and wide for the start of the race to sort out the different paces of everyone before we hit the narrow trails ahead. Just an aside, there are no twin bridges. They once existed, but only this one newer bridge remains. However, the name remains.
 Mystery Creek trail. Here's more of what I expected of trail running. We left the Twin Bridges trail and headed straight uphill.
 Mystery Creek trail is fairly steep and has a few switch backs, so I expect I can run sections of it and break it up with walking. It comes out at the powerlines. From there we head straight up a very rocky narrow path along the powerlines. It's a steep and rough climb. db and I took several breaks and we were just walking it. I don't think I will be running much of that climb since it's far too steep. However, I think I can probably hike it in about 20 minutes. I'm being very optimistic!

db and I never actually went all the way up to where it meets with the Mushroom Trail, but will save that for next time. It was getting late in the day and I really just needed a good sense of how steep these climbs are. They are steep! They're as steep as any trail I've hiked before, and I realized that I need to did a little more training on similar terrain. Fortunately, not far from us is a powerline trail that goes straight up to Eagle Ridge. It's not far from where we use to live, and is always populated with people out for some exercise so I'll feel safe to do that on my own. I'm going to have to start training on that trail if I want to have better success for Tender Knee.

So db and I headed back the way we came and took the Fisherman's trail to the Homesteaders trail. It was nice to be on level ground and walking along the river.

 The skunk cabbage is coming up everywhere. This was such a nice patch!

 Salmonberry flowers are also abundant right now. This one looks closed, but they are open all along the more open trails like this one.

Finally, up we go again along the Homesteader's Trail. It's another wide path that provides quick and easy access to the Seymour River. I was really lagging behind db by this point because my legs were done after that power climb and my morning 10 k run.

Today, my achilles is a little sore. I've put some Traumeel on it (free sample from the CHFA show!) and so far the pain has eased. I'll keep applying and keep doing my calf raises to try and keep it from injury. I'll make sure db has some at the finish line!

Next week we'll cover another section of the trail...probably the Mushroom Trail and the Baden Powell section of the route. I'll have to keep my eyes out for morels too. pw informs me that it is morel time here! Burn morels come later in the season, but morels are definitely out there to be found. I'll be checking every pine cone just to be sure. Ha!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Blue Trees

 While summer is my favorite season, I do love the flowers' spring arrival.

I didn't plant bulbs last fall, but I still have many from the previous year, and am happy to see the daffodils out, and the tulips well on their way. I've also noticed that almost all of my lilies are about 6-8 inches tall. It was such a mild winter, I'm not surprised they're doing so well.

The cherry blossoms are stunning. The trees look laden with a pinkish tinged snow.
In front of the library the cherry trees round the driveway and are in full bloom.

Currently the trunks and underside of the larger branches are painted blue. This is part of "The Blues Tree Project," an international installation where an artist (Konstantin Dimoploulos from Australia) is painting select trees to bring attention to them and their importance in our lives both aesthetically and environmentally.

It's quite striking with the cherry blossoms.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Run Vegan Run Up and Down those Hills

My next trail race is called the Tender Knee. I just registered for it sealing the deal I have to keep running trails. It's 12 k of fun, running up and down.

On Sunday I did a short run in the pouring rain, but did not care since I was on trail. I was actually happy to be out and running, which isn't unusual for me, but sometimes when I have to run in the pouring rain I do find myself just trying to focus on the road ahead and the small landmarks to keep me going. On trail it's all new and very refreshing for me. It does hurt a little more (the day after), but as long as I keep going, it will get easier and the recoveries better.

Here's a description of the route for the Tender Knee that runs from the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve to Deep Cove:

•    Find path in parking lot beside bathrooms. Twin Bridges Trail
•    Run through parking lot, follow “chute” beside construction fence.
•    You come to Twin Bridges trail (wide, looks like a road). (Water station here.)
•    Go RIGHT, down Twin Bridges Trail to Twin Bridge.
•    CROSS the bridge and follow Fisherman’s Trail to Mystery Creek turnoff.
Mystery Creek Switchback
•    Find the post marker for Mystery Creek. Take a sharp LEFT and head straight up.
•    After approx. 800 m, Mystery Creek Trail comes out onto the BC Hydro Powerline.
Powerline to Mushroom
•    Turn RIGHT along Powerline.
•    Cross the Mystery Creek Bridge, go straight up.
•    Think happy thoughts as you power hike to the Historic Mushroom Parking Lot Trail intersection (marked). (Mountain Madness Aid station will be here!)
•    At the Mushroom Trail POST, turn RIGHT to continue on Mushroom and it eventually becomes Baden-Powell (post).
•    Keep straight on Baden-Powell.
•    At the intersection of Old Buck (post), turn LEFT and then almost immediately RIGHT to get back onto B-P. (Do NOT go down Old Buck.)
Mount Seymour Road
•    Cross Mount Seymour Road and enter the B-P trail on the other side.
•    Start gradual descent with some uphill sections. Indian River Road
•    You come out on Indian River Road; turn LEFT (marker indicates 0.5 km to trail) and take the road.
•    500 meters later, find trailhead on the right. Marked as 2.6 km to Deep Cove. (Aid station will be here.)
Baden-Powell to Deep Cove
•    Follow the B-P markers. Some steep ascents and descents and bridges.
•    Come out between two houses on Panorama Drive (2501 Panorama Drive). Turn right to return to parking lot.

Um...a little confusing. I'm going to try to squeeze in the organized orientation run before I go to work on the 23rd of April. Also to prepare, db and I will hike sections of it up until the event using these directions to guide us. Since it only goes in one direction and is not a loop, we'll have to find other road access points. I suppose since we'll be on a few different trails, there will be access points for us to park the car and pick up the trail (I didn't even know there was a trail called the Mushroom Trail! I can't wait!).

Today I feel a little bit crazy having signed up for this event, but I'm sure as I get more trail running under my feet (so to speak), I'll still feel a little bit crazy but at least I'll be better prepared.

I remember talking about running with my physiotherapist (who is an ultrarunner -- that's those 50 k distances), and thinking she was crazy with her enthusiasm to run trails. I'm starting to get a taste of how she felt. I've definitely taken a turn in my running career, and feel like I've embarked on a new journey.

Monday, April 04, 2011

My First Trail Race

My first trail race (the event is also called this) was so much fun.

I was so nervous about this event because a) I'm not a trail runner, b) I haven't had much time to run on trails, and c) I really had no idea what to expect. The map of the course didn't tell me much so db and I went to walk the trail the day before and saw that it had already been marked out with pink tape; we could follow the trail easily. I realized later that we had walked it backwards, but that didn't matter. I'm glad we walked it because it took away some of the anxiety I was having.

We had home-made pizza the night before (good pre-race meal I think). I got up around 6:30ish to have my Vega smoothie and make sure everything I needed was packed into my bag. A full change of clothes seemed like a good idea because during our walk the day before it had rained a little on lower Seymour even while it was sunny and clear in North Van. I also packed extra shoes because even though my beloved Cascadias dry really fast, I was worried about a downpour and being really damp and miserable at the end. Packed and fuelled, db and I headed out the door around 8 am for the 9 am race start (I wanted to be there early for the warm-up as well).

It took us no time at all to get there (a lot faster on a Sunday morning with no traffic), but the more I sat in the car in the parking lot, the more nervous I got. Would I be able to do this? I know it's only 5 km, but it's 5 km of trail some of which is roots and rocks, a long descent on stairs and a serious uphill towards the end. Would my legs seize up after all of the ups and downs? Would I come in last? Would I trip over a rock and cut myself? These were all new fears, but it was kind of fun to be facing a bit of the unknown. Don't get me wrong, I do love the road races as well, and the challenges of endurance and mental strength that those events ask of me, but trail is a whole new game.

I put on my hat and gloves (it's chilly at those higher elevations!), and joined in the warm up with the rest of the participants (there's a 100 person limit total to this run for the 5 and 10 k), which was fun and it relaxed me a little.

Then we lined up at the start. It was a pretty relaxed atmosphere. I didn't feel like I needed to get out in a flash, and I didn't want to be stuck at the back either, so I hung around in the middle somewhere. And then we were off and it started like every other running race I've ever done: we were all bunched up together and then there was a bit of jostling for position as we all sought our own pacing. As we opened up onto the double wide track, I found my spot pretty quick, and got into a groove fast because you have to when you're only doing 5 km. 

By the time we hit the single track trail, I already had a few people marked as ones I wanted to keep pace with, and I passed them at one point and they passed me at one point. There isn't much room to pass on the trail so you have to think quickly and make decisions about where to step. It was so much fun. It's a bit like an obstacle course while you run, and I don't think I felt much of the ground at all. I was so focused on trying to listen to my body and when I needed to slow and speed up, that it really did all fly past so quickly. When I faced the big hill near the end, it didn't take me long to figure out that I needed to walk it. I looked around to see that everyone was walking it. There's no point in burning yourself out on a steep climb, leaving nothing for the top.

Then the finish line was in sight and I saw db taking a picture on my way to it. I crossed it and felt great! The times were posted right away, so I could see that I had run the 5 km in 29 minutes. Much better than I thought since trail is much slower than pavement.

So here's the breakdown:

time: 29:23 -- actually it was really 29:13 because it took about 10 secs for me to cross the start line :)
place: 24th (that's out of 66 of us in the 5 km category)
category: 2nd (that's F40-49 and there were 9 of us in that age group)

Not bad for a first timer. Can't wait for the next one! I'm researching them now to see what else I can do.