Monday, August 12, 2013


I EXPECTED Gary Robbins to make it a tough course, and he EXCEEDED expectations!
9000ft (2700 m) Up/ 9500ft (2900m) down , and like, 98% technical trail, and in 30 degree heat.
= CONQUERING a new level of discomfort!!!!

 Race summarized by my thoughts:

Start: " My calf is cramping already? Gotta slow down"
            .... " Is that an old lady and her grandchildren passing me?"
9 Km: " oh GOOD, a hill, I can powerhike and maybe get the feeling back into my foot"
13 km (and 800 m, 2600 ft up): "when will the hill stop !!, I'm STILL going up ! Up, up, up "
14 km: " Yaaay Down !!!"... Yaay, wa hoooo... hooo. hooooo..., "
20 km: "yoo hooo! hoo..oooh, OK, still going down here..still down...more down will it ever end?
             "Achilles is going to snap off anytime now. I'll pull out at 23 km aid station.
             Good idea. I'm a Physio, I know its the smart thing to do. "

25 km: " why am I still running? , IDIOT"
                                            .... Oh yeah,  THIS IS why ( Pic below ) I want to see more!

26 km:  "Its freakin' HOT up this hill !  "I... don' eat "

              " Bar?- ugh!, try a gel?-double ugh!thank god for Carbopro or I'd fall over"
             "what, bra chaffing too? , and why are my socks falling off? anything else?" Bring it !

28 km: "This hill looked much easier in the elevation profile"

             "Thats it, I think I've passed out and I'm in a nightmare of neverending switchbacks"

30 km: "Finally, downhill to the next aid station, I'll pull out the lube for the chaffing.
   ( I  look down)-->toe grab, FLY  foreward over an embankment!!
             but my inner monkey kicked in and  I grabbed a tree mid-air and 180 swing myself back   onto the trail! Impressed with myself, Feelin' pretty cool at that point, but knowing my shoulder is gonna hurt later.

33 km:  " That was the longest 5 miles  I've ever ran in my                life" (between 15-20 mi aid stn, 400 m up)
             " Soo HOT in the back valley here! The sun is relentless, not even a breeze-thats it! I'm
                        never doing a desert race  ... take me back to the trails!"
              - I could wring the sweat out of my shirt at this point, just drenched!
              -My ears clogged up and it felt like I was running in a tunnell, ...and I find out later this is due to decreased blood volume(dehydration) affecting the inner ear fluid.  K, duh, drink more! but I was already drinking almost double normal and was afraid of that old hyponatremia fear... Still learning obviously.

 34 km:

 " what? ANOTHER HILL ? Gary Robbins (course designer) is a Very Very BAAAD MAN".   Nice guy, but starting to think he is a SADIST!" Oh, look how sweet  and happy he looks in this pic on race day... but if you look DEEPER, there is a Glimmer of evil in those eyes.

Only those who run his races, truly know that glimmer.
40 Km:" Oh, starting to cramp up- grab more trusty salt tablets... what! they fell out! really?
               ( I held myself together by sucking the salt off my pretzels.)

43 km: " Quads cramping BAD... but they look kinda cool
                   .... really muscular...wish I took a pic. " 
                  But it FELT like they looked like this   ----------->>>>

44 km: " I thought we DESCEND into Squamish, why am I STILL going UPHILL? "
             " I got Nothing, I'm walking up the hills"
- Looking at my splits, this last  10km was super slow. I guess the heat/cramping got to me and  'the wheels fell off ' at 40 km. Could only march up the hills, even walked some flats. Ran out of Drive.

46 km: "Finally, Down to the finish"
49 km: (on the road, into town) " Thats it, I've lost interest, its too hot,
               I'm going to DNF now"(joking)
       So, I start walking, then Mr. Jason Louttit (amazing runner) see's me walking, gives me crap and says 'its only 400 m away, run it " Fine, I ran it in, only cuz he told me to.

I felt like the 'running gods' threw the book at me this race. So many running issues I never experienced before  ALL happened on this day. Maybe it was the 30 deg heat, the tough course, or maybe just a bad day for me. In the end with my 8 hour finish time was my slowest 50 km time ever,I should be mad,  strangely,  I'm very  pleased with a  new milestone: overcoming pain, nausea, cramping etc. I've done several 50 kms, but this one is the first to really PUSH my limits, really, thinking " I can't go anymore" ... but I did, I FINISHED !!!  and learned so much!

Kudo's to the Race directors of Squamish 50, if it wasn't for their great organization,  aid stations/volunteers, and beauty views to keep me going,  I probably would not have finished the  super challenging, technical course they presented.

-You'll conquer a new level of 'discomfort'
- You will be challenged! your limits will be pushed!
-Fabulous trail markings... you will NOT get lost
-Amazing view's
-Great Race directors, they have it ALL covered.
-Excellent aid stations. Even a suprise Freezie station!Loved the freezie guy.
-Beer gardens at the finish.
-Nice Swag bags
-Meal ticket at the finish line .
-Beautiful medals

So, if you're in for a Sadistic, Punishing,Challenging 50 km, where you're safely taken care of, sign up for this next year:  August 9, 10, 11 for 25 km/50km/50 mile... or all 3!

Heather V.
As I get more pics of the race, I'll add them. I tried to add Mr. Robbin's athlete site, but it appears to have been hacked, will try later.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sunny Day at Sun Mountain 50 K



First off, the scenic drive through the North cascades  and methow valley was absolutely amazing! Beautiful views everywhere I looked, but the best was yet to come....



THE FIRST STAGE  ( to 8 mi aid stn) started  at 10 am with beautiful rolling trails alongside   lake then tucked into a cool creekside trail.


I had a nice visit with my friend Sara, but as the hill grew steeper, I couldnt keep up with her , so had to temporarily "unfriend" her as I struggled up the long incline.  I also had a brief chat with my training partner Lara as she passed, and  then met several others on route. Up I went, through fields of beautiful yellow flowers, looking back to the valley views below. As usual, my calf siezed up, then my foot went numb. I kept run/hiking, pondering "if it was circulatory would my toes fall off if I kept going?"  Thankfully , I got my feeling back on a nice flat section. Another little hill, then the first aid station! It was well used as the heat of the day came down upon us earlier than expected.


THE SECOND STAGE (to 17 mi aid station) started off on a hot, dry  road, ugh... Thankfully it tucked back into a little hilly trail that led me out to a knoll with amazing vistas up TWO valleys! The knoll, the valleys, the flowers- I broke out in song "the hills are alive with the sound of music". With pure glee I barrelled down the fun single track, wahooing away, feeling at one with nature, folicking in the woods. At the bottom of the hill, about 14 miles in, my legs were telling me to stop having so much fun and slow down or they'll blow up. So, I took it easy to the 17 mi aid station, where I spent an extraordinary amount of time reuelling, refilling my pack and dousing myself with water as I was feeling the heat at 1 pm. Spring training in Vancouver did not prepare me at all for the heat the  day.


THE THIRD STAGE (to 25 mile aid station) had a very enjoyable single track trail undercover and out of the sun. It seemed to go down forever at a nice decline I could just relax into. Occasionally I would get an open flower filled section that would remind me how hot it really was. Then i'd get a reprieve back into the forest. The happy down didn't  last forever,  I was slapped back into reality powerhiking up a series of switchbacks under the blaring sun.  it was pleasing to know we got to do 2 loops, meaning I'd be back in the happy forest again. After the second loop, instead of going up, I followed the usual exceptional marking along the side of the mountain, the sunny, HOT north east side.  I was running through beautiful hillsides of flowers.

 Not only huge yellow flowers, but purple lupines, and some white cactus type flowers. Of couse cactus type flowers, cuz it was so HOT, and there was no cover.  The heat was getting to me, literally, as my quads started cramping. Yikes, I've never cramped in a 50 km, let alone only 3.5-4 hours in! So I started taking my salt tablets every 1/2 hr instead of hourly, simply because I would cramp up every half hour.  After pushing through one of the many cow gates, and climbing over a fence using  some man made steps, I was getting that real cowboy feeling of Winthrop!

 FRIGGIN' 4TH STAGE ( the last 5 miles) included a lot of F-bombs in my vocabulary. The volunteers at the third aid station were most helpful, sending me off in good spirits for the final leg. After running 25 miles, the RD added to the "Fun" by having us crawl UNDER  a barbwire fence!. I felt sorry for the tall guys trying to get back up again. I headed off into the sagebrush, heading up what I thought was the final hill.  It was so hot on this section of the

trail, even the flowers were wilted and curled up! Rounding the corner, I see runners comming down a steep hill and signs for an out and back. Argh!. Too steep for me to run,  and feeling a bit woozy,I concede to powerhike it. It was one of those relentless, character building hills,  where you think you're summiting it only to see the next wave of people getting smaller and smaller as they go up into the distance (Insert more F-bombs here). 

Finally, THE TOP ! worth every step with its 360 degree views- AMAZING !  I had a brief "I'm the king of the world" moment, then, "oh, gotta go back down now". 

I let gravity pull me down the hill as fast as I could control! Essentially a controlled fall.  Hitting the road at the bottom was like, well, hitting a road... and Wading through thigh high pavement. Meeting some friends and family on the road was a huge boost...amazing how things like that pick you up. On the 1 mile trail to the finish I chose to run in the sun, walk in the shade.   Crossing the finish line in 5:20, I exclaim "wheres the lake!".

As per usual, Rainshadow running put out a beautiful, well marked course with great post race festivities,  laidback supportive atmosphere, and pre dravvn prizes.  I've done 2 of his races and highly recommend his series!

It was so great to reconnect with so many other ultrarunners at this  event !


Heather V

Friday, April 12, 2013

Staying Inspired

How to Stay Inspired

My first 'Burnout' 

I started with a 5km, then 10 km, worked up to 50 kms, and a few 50 milers ....usually finishing midpack to top 10.  I  was super keen initially, but I realized that to REALLY excell at running  and 'place' I had to make MAJOR committments. Plus  I did not want to continue to give up my  entire weekend  training  for longer distances at the expense of my family/social life, and... just so many OTHER things I want to do in life. why run if I'm not aiming to 'place"?.. get points, maybe even a $2 medal ? why run if I'm not going to conquer new distance limits or get faster?

This lack of direction in addition to  a few nagging injuries resulted in a lack of motivation and/or what one would call 'Burnout'. 

Now, how did I wrap my head around things to get back into it?  This is what worked for me:  

It was always a PUSH. More, longer, better, faster.... You name it.  For the first time in years, I have STOPPED pushing.  This does NOT mean I have stopped TRYING ! It means I have STARTED ENJOYING even MORE !

Anyone suffering from burnout, should SERIOUSLY volunteer. 
You get to stand outside that fishbowl and look in. You truly appreciate how hard it is for the elites, as much as the last place finishers.. AND you have EQUAL respect for them ALL !  I shake my head at how I was once hard on myself for a not so great run, when I've seen people go thru tougher times and still finish, sure, not top place finishers, but top notch runners! 

As an added bonus, you get to meet other GREAT people with a similar mindset!


a)Just to run:
 Just running aimlessly seems so, aimless.... and a kid in
the woods... and isn't that wonderful!
b) To Enjoy the scenery  Somehow in my maturity, I can now accept however I finish in a race. I
can have either  a good day, or a bad day, it doesn't really bother me anymore, cuz,  I was just slower that day for whatever reason...maybe I took more time to take pictures, enjoy the scenery and meet other runners !  This is me running with camera in hand at the Gorge Waterfalls run, ended up with a great video at the end ...and one of my more enjoyable runs

c) Use your fitness to enjoy life !
Using the fitness worked on for years to adventure through life and enjoy its splendours!
             running from Palm Springs to Pines ... that other people take the tram up to!
             Running 10 miles barefoot on the beach in Maui ! (tho my calves hated me later)
YEAH , I want to do MORE of THAT !

d) My Friends !

 They are the reason I'm still running. It is really the only time I get to visit (AND get a workout in!)  On occasion, I might even have time to go for a coffee (or beer afterwards) ... in case I diddn't get enough visiting in over the 4 hour run ! lol !

My friends also INSPIRE me. Some have gone through tougher times than myself, some are newbies
that are not afraid to push their limits, others truly enjoy their  races, taking their time to take pictures and FULLY experience what the race has to offer!

4. CHANGE IT UP ! ...
Signed up for a few half marathons to scare the crap out of me, ! Maybe even a triathalon.... hitting the bike ( but having a hard time getting to swim). M ust admit, the change of intensity and type of training has been beneficial to muscle balancing, dissolving some old nagging injuries.

On review of my past events in prep for this blog , I realize that in the last 2-3 years, I've entered almost
EVERY race with either a life STRESS ( tax audit, family death) or a personal ILLNESS before  the run or INJURY during the race. I realize a large percentage of the OTHER ATHLETES , are probably going through the SAME  thing!! So we should just accept there there will ALWAYS be something going on, but  NOT use it as an excuse ! 



Those in training think of microcycles, leading to macrocycles, periodization, B-races leading up to A-races, points, you name it.  In all this scheduling, what is forgotten is the BIG PICTURE ! (I guess you could call it the "MEGACycle")

... and the only way to accomplish this is to take care of yourself and STAY FIT !

Excellent, I'm Psyched... time to go for a RUN !!!!