Friday, July 15, 2011

Coast to Mountains

Two Canadian Girls on the Run hit the road for their first road trip last weekend.  Sarah and I both had to work on Friday so we didn't arrive at our hotel in Vancouver until 9:30pm on Friday night.  First thing I did was go 'tuck in' Stephanie and Erica who were running Knee Knacker 50k the following day.  Knee Knacker is a 30mile trail run from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove and covers a total of 16,000 feet up/down.  Not only does the distance and elevation make this race a challenge... it is on some seriously technical terrain that can either take your mind of the pain in your knees and quads as you focus or make tired legs turn into carnage if you can't pick them up in time ;)

(an example carnage... yes, our poor Stephanie did take a fall with 1hr left to go.  She cleverly wrapped her cut hand in her arm warmer and carried on to STILL get herself a PB this year!  Way to go Steph!  Then I drove her to the walk in for stitches ;)

Sarah and I ran from the Grouse Grind on Saturday.  We hunkered up the grouse to get some quality elevation in a relatively short amount of time.  Then in an effort to avoid all the perfume, jean skirts and cowboy boots that the tourists wear on their journey up - we took the BCMC Trail down to the Baden Powell where we continued towards HWY MTN before turning back.  Our goals was two-fold.  To get a 4.5hr training run in while coaching and supporting our k-town crew who were out running the race that day.

We decided to test our TransAlp gear and wore matching Icebreaker shirts and shorts. (insert cheesiness here) 

I am so impressed with the quality, durability and comfort of Icebreaker.  Their products live up to their marketing campaign... 'Merino - A Miracle Fabric'.  Not only that but I have finally found a pair of womans shorts with a liner that is comfortable and actually stays 'in place'.  So I bought 3 pairs for Europe.  I figure it's all I need... I can wear each pair more than once because the merino does not stink and the materials dry so fast.  (yes, I have tested my 'no stink' short theory and they were still good to go after 3 long runs in a row)  These shorts are my new favorite and I think everyone should run in comfort like this.  Especially for endurance runs of 2-6hrs!

Sarah struggled on Saturday in the sense that her body was 'off'.  Having said that, this girl is as tough as nails and still pushed through a long day and lots of elevation without giving up.  We covered 5500 feet and none of it comes easy when running the north shore.  I was impressed with her ability to hunker down and work through it.  It was a potential 'typical Alps Day' for us.  When one person feels awesome and the other person struggles for whatever reason.  This is what really tests a partnership and requires the most amount of work on stage races.  Its not when things are going well that is matters most.  It is when the wheels come off and how well you support each other and work through it together.

It helped that we got to see Erica, Stephanie and Jennifer out on the race course and to run with each of them for awhile and see how they were doing... offer some support and encouragement before we finished our run and drove to the finish in Deep Cove.  Andrew was already done by the time we got there so we listened to his play-by over a infamous doughnut and then watched the others as they came in. 

We later celebrated over a burger and beer at a pub in Lynn Valley.

Sarah and I had to detach from the relaxation of the pub to continue our training journey that weekend.  Our next stop was Hope.  Yes... (ugh) Hope.

After stocking up on pastry, pepperoni, pb&j and chips - we laid out our gear and got our snacks ready for an epic day 2 in the mountains at the summit of the Coquihalla.  Another early rise would earn us one of the most rewarding and bonding experiences of our Trans Alp partnership yet...

My husband and good friends David & Alison met us at the base of Needle Peak and we hit the trail before 7:30am.  We were blessed with blue bird skies and near perfect conditions as we made our way to the summit of the NP.  David and Trent lead by example as their mountain goat like reflexes made the scrambles look effortless.  Lunch at over 7000 feet was the highlight and the descent was fun with 'ski like' conditions on our way down.

We refueled and then crossed the hwy to take on Yak Peak next.  This climb proved to have more challenges once we made it up the forest trail.  Well, let me clarify... Dave, Trent, Ali and Sarah were all very relaxed and took on what I felt was 'challenging' with ease.  We made it to the base of the summit before heading back.  There was so much snow and conditions weren't safe to continue, so we had a snack (a.k.a. lots of chocolate) before making our way down.

It was another good day with over 8hrs on our feet and close to 6000 feet elevation.  Both Sarah and I felt good energy/muscles wise and the best part of the whole day was the company shared along both trails.  Oh!  And the post hike creek-pops and chips that Alison brought.  Only a true mountaineer remembers to pack salt and beer for post summit celebrations ;)

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