Friday, March 15, 2019


URG takes the slow road to China.
Note: When I first wrote this I really felt that the hiking I was doing daily didn't count as a workout as I wasn't logging my time or distance and I wasn't following any kind of plan. Since then my feelings about my hiking has changed although for some reason I still find it difficult to keep weight off without the speed workouts. 
I stopped running many months ago. I suppose I asked myself at some point, "What's the point?" I had found some new hobbies and wasn't much interested in running fast just for the sake of it. So I went along without running for days, then weeks and now months.

I have to say that I can hardly recognize myself and it's not just the extra few pounds that have changed me. I felt it was a good change at first. No thinking incessantly about running and training and everything that goes along with it. I rode the running merry-go-round for 7 years and then one day I hopped off. What a relief, if I could push back the idea of the "un-conditioning"(loss of speed) that was surely going on. But that wasn't motivation enough. There is something great to be said about NOT HAVING TO RUN!

But alas the lure of the running around in circles is still there, with every running shoe store I pass and every time I think back to a race long past. I'm slowly beginning to remember. I remember the feelings I experienced and it is those which call me back. Not the places or the people or anything else. It's the feelings that go along with all of that which is attracting me again. So what else can I say except that I "feel" like running again.
Note: I did run a 5km back in September on a whim pretty much just to see what would happen and although I was slow I realized that I haven't lost as much as I thought I had and the most important thing was that I still knew how to pace myself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Camp Game Haunts My Running

I wrote this some time ago...
I went to Camp Wasagahaben(something like that) when I was little. My memory was that I was 11ish(may have been 9 or 10). Old enough to want to be away from home but still young enough to miss home an awful lot. Some of the things that happened at that camp still haunt me to this day. This post is about one of those memories in particular but I'd like to share 3 other "hauntings" with you.

Camp Wasagahaben(??) was an overnight camp set in a lovely forested area on the edge of a beautiful lake. It had all the normal activities one might associate with such a camp like canoeing, swimming, tie dying, hiking etc. etc. When you are away at camp your parents are suppose to give, "Tuck Money" that you can spend to get treats at the "Tuck Shop". Well my Mom did not know this and did not include the extra $5 when she paid my fees so I had no credit at the Tuck shop and thus no treats for my entire stay. Not having the nightly ritual of going to the Tuck like everyone else and then having to sit and watch them enjoy their treats when I had none made me feel like an outsider. This was just at a time in my life when I was already feeling different not having a Dad at home and money was tight and going to this camp was a stretch on my Mom's budget to begin with and then there I was with no candy either. I began to feel like perhaps I was undeserving, different, less then those who had what I did not and this feeling has haunted me til this day

The second event that haunts me happened when I got stuck out on the lake during a storm in a boat and could not get back to shore. Another girl and I decided to take a row boat out to an island in the middle of the lake. The counselors laughed and said we would never make it and let us go and I rowed all the way there and rejoiced but was exhausted from the trip. When it was time to turn around the other girl tried to row but said her hands hurt and stopped, so I had no choice but to row and halfway back a storm blew in. They were yelling for everyone to get off of the water and I tried and tried to get to shore but we were being blown away from it and I remember the waves crashing in the boat. I was so tired and the other girl was screaming at me and crying but refusing to help and the counselors were yelling at me to get in and I remember pulling and pulling and going nowhere and the counselors just kept yelling and no one came to help us. I was in desperate trouble and scared and trying my best and they were all acting as though I was defying them and I could not wrap my mind around that and it haunts me.

The third and perhaps most disturbing haunting is about when we were tie dying T-shirts and I guess we were suppose to bring a white T- shirt to camp but again my Mom had missed this point and I had nothing to use. The only white thing I had was a pair of dirty white knee socks and when I handed them to the counsellors they all laughed at my dirty white socks and I was so ashamed I ran away and felt really small and dirty.

So now for the "haunting" this post is all about and you know it will lead back to running so here goes. Every night the campers would gather around the campfire and tell stories and sing and then it would end with a game. You may or may not be familiar with this game but I will explain how it worked as best as I can. A counselor would stand in the middle of the circle and tell a story. He/she would embellish the story using a stick they carried, pointing it, circling it, waving it. The story and embellishments were the exact same every evening and it was a challenge for the campers to get into the circle and tell the story exactly as the counsellor had done. If you were successful then you would be accepted into the, "special group" of people who had also mastered it. I of course jumped up on the first night confident I had memorized it already. The counselor handed me the stick and I did everything exactly as they had done it then I handed the stick back. "Nope, wrong", the counsellor said. No one else tried it that night but over the next week one at a time people tried and sometimes they were right and got accepted into the "special group" but most times they were wrong and were sent back to their place in the circle. I practiced everyday and then every night thinking that I had perfected it I would get into the circle and try again, and again and again. I memorized all the vocal inflections, any nuances of the sticks movement I thought might be the key, the foot positions, the body angle and so on and on and yet others were accepted(even if I found their rendition to be less then my own) into the special group. I knew I must be missing something so I pig-headedly continued to practice and again every night I was sent back, now amidst waves of laughter to my seat in the circle. So finally it was the last night of camp and I only had one chance left. Most others had given up trying but I was now more determined then ever as I stepped into the circle for the last time. The counsellor handed me the stick and I set out telling the story like it was the most magical story every told. Waving the stick, I was precise in my movements and never wavering I knew I had pulled off the best telling that anyone had ever given. I had after all done all and everything that I could do, no one had ever studied it more then I had. Surely there would be a roar of cheering as I was finally granted my place amongst my peers, "Nope!". I remember there was a gasp of disbelief from everyone, then laughter but none of that mattered. I was befuddle, dumbfounded, perplexed. I knew it was too late to be accepted into the, "special group" but I needed to know what the key was, the secret, the trick to it that I had missed so I asked the counsellor to please tell me what I had done wrong. I am sure he wasn't suppose to tell me because if the secret got out then they would be unable to continue on with this torturous practice in future years but after swearing me to secrecy(screw that) he took me aside and handed me the stick again. "Did you see that" he said, "when you are done telling the story you are suppose to switch the stick into your other hand before giving it back". I remember feeling mad and stupid all at the same time. It wasn't really the story telling after all, or how you waved that stupid stick around, it was all about how you handed the stick back. All of that wasted effort practicing the story and the motions when really in the end all that really mattered was how the stick was transferred back. It was not that you didn't need to know the story and the movements, but the real task at hand was all about how you handed the stick off, or the "change of support" of the stick. OK if the analogy didn't just hit you in the head then this is where the running part comes into it because you see I believe there is a trick to running that most everyone is missing. If you master this trick then you will be accepted into the, "special group". Elites have all figured out, fell into or just naturally discovered the trick to transferring the support of their sticks. I believe wholeheartedly that figuring out this trick is the only way to get into that group more then anything else you can spend your time doing.

So how do you learn the, "trick" if you don't have a counsellor take pity on you, swear you to secrecy and whisper it in your ear. Well I am going to tell you right now. The trick has everything to do with how you change support from one foot to the other and not as much to do with everything else you are doing. Yes you can and I am sure do enjoy running not knowing the trick. Everyone at camp had fun(except me) not knowing it and they had fun because they didn't care about the trick so much. I on the other hand could only focus on the trick and that is how I am with my running also. While everyone is out having fun I am trying to figure out the trick. Unfortunately the only thing about the trick is that there is a trick to the trick. The trick to the trick is how you change support without braking. I have a feeling that most people run with their parking break on, I know I have and still do most of the time. Just imagine owning a beautiful car with the most powerful engine then trying to drive it with the parking brake on. It might be the most powerful car on the road but if you keep the parking break on all of that engineering and fuel is going to go to waste. So how do you disengage the parking brake? Well the parking break engages when we try to catch ourselves when we are falling so the trick is to not catch your self but to stay in a constant state of falling. This is what Pose describes but has trouble teaching because once you learn to engage your parking brake it is really hard to convince your body that it can get by without it.

So that is where I am, haunted by a game from my past and also by this running game, I find I cannot move on until I master the trick which I am fully convinced I understand but am having varied success putting into practice. Next Sunday I will dare to step into that circle once again, ready to tell the story with all of my heart and haunted by that little girl who felt like an outsider with her dirty white socks who tried to get to shore and who never ever gave up trying.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Strike a Pose For Sherry Arnold

I ran for Sherry today. I printed the bib years ago when I first heard about Sherry’s abduction and murder. I ran for her but I never pinned the bib on or shared her story. I didn’t know Sherry but she was a runner like me and a Mom and her story spoke to me,
 “Why do bad things happen to good people like her?”
There are no good answers to those kinds of questions but they are still worth asking and reflecting upon.
Note my “Arnold” pose for Sherry Arnold. Her friends and family wanted her to be remembered for her “Courage, Strength, Grace”. That pose now represents those sentiments to me.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Fort Henry Cross Country 5 km

The Fort Henry cross country 5 km was my first race in forever...and it took forever...however... was a fun rolling course on a beautiful sunny day!

...I rather like the pic!!

...and the prize was a nice momento,
I give it 3 thumbs up!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

If Life Gives you Lemons...

A pair of swans "wintering" on the bank of the Rideau River. There was a flock of 100 birds.
 my original photo
A few of the many swans who chose to spend their winter in Kingston, Ontario. Why I wonder?

A hummingbird from an internet photo and a You Tube "How To" course:-)
 Another little hummingbird. He looks so proud:-)
A monarch. I enjoyed studying the finer details.

I took up painting recently. I began with acrylic but I think watercolours and I are a better fit.  Here are my first attempts at paining in watercolour. It will be quite the adventure and will take humility, perseverance and dedication. Reminds me of another hobby I use to practice and hoping to get back to real soon. Take care and remember if Life gives you lemons, reach out and call Lemon Aid:-)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Getting Lost at The Barkley Fall Classic 2015

But I didn’t get lost, I just followed some young bucks in the wrong direction for the heck of it. Pretty quickly I was sure we needed to head back to the correct trail but then they got ahead of me running very fast down the west side of Bird Mountain and I began to get worried they’d get lost. I figured I’d catch them, turn them around and try to make up time after that. But I didn’t catch them until they had stopped at the bottom of the mountain unsure of how to proceed. After professing that we needed to retrace our steps all the way back up they actually somehow convinced me that I was wrong. By then I really wanted them to be right(which they swore they were) because climbing that mountain again was too much to bear. I lead them for a few minutes and told them I was breaking cobwebs so we were definitely going the wrong way. They then concurred that they had been breaking them all of the way down too. OMG!! I immediately took them by the ears (wet as they were) and turned them around, showing them where we went wrong on the map and feeling pretty darn smug about my amazing map reading skills and how I had saved the youngins’ from a night in the woods and Laz a sleepless night of searching. And with that, they were gone like two (insert witty simile here) and I was left alone with only my righteous smugness and withering pride for company at the bottom of Bird Mountain.


PS apparently the bucks made the first cutoff. I got there an hour too late so I was courteously shown the exit.

PSS thank you to those who made my day so wonderful.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My Running Secret

If there was a secret to running and you miraculously stumbled over it, would you tell anybody?

So you've been running for years and have found that no matter how hard you train you just can't break into that class of runners who make it all look so easy. They are the ones who pass you talking glibly amongst themselves as they bound ahead and out of sight while at their "slow" long run pace. That pace btw is your current 5km pace on a downhill course with a tail wind behind you and 3 cups of coffee in you. You have wondered how they do it? Is it how they train, what they eat, their bone structure, muscle fibres, mental cunning, emotional fortitude? Demographics? Genetics? Or maybe all the above or a mixture of some but not all of them? God knows you've done all you could and to no end. Well I suggest to you that it is none of that.

For the most part I have come to believe that it is quite simply statistical luck of the draw. Of course to even consider this argument you have to agree that there are at least two different ways of running and that one of them makes some people much faster then others without added effort or training. So let's assume that there are at the very least two ways to run. The Right Way(TRW) and The Wrong Way(TWW). The right way is how the top 20% of runners run and the wrong way is how everybody else does it. So how did this top 20% of runners learn to run correctly when everyone else did not? Statistically, when they learned to run they would have had a 50/50 chance of doing it right or wrong like everybody else. However their chances of running TRW increased if their parents(who they would model themselves after) also ran TRW. It may also be possible that there are more then two ways of running in which case if there were four ways of running then each person would have a 25% chance of running one of those four ways and again their chance of running one way or another might be further influenced by those they modeled their running patterns after. If it is statistics which determine how we eventually run then statistically I would also assume that a certain number of runners could relearn their running patterns.

In fact of all of the scenarios, relearning a running pattern seems more doable then changing ones bone structure, muscle fibres, demographics or genetics so if you do hope to someday run TRW then you certainly hope that my statistics theory is true. If it was true and you figured out how to run The Right Way one day while charging down a hill and everything just clicked then consider what might follow. All of your dreams suddenly come true. You begin "running like the wind" in all of your races. You win a local 5km breaking your PR by 2 minutes, you win a big National marathon, qualify for Boston and set an Age Group World Record. Then you tell everyone how you did it and they all cheer and thank you for discovering the secret to running. Then what? Well now everybody knows how to run, just like you do and you go right back to being just another runner in the race.

So I ask again, if there was a secret to running and you miraculously stumbled over it, would you tell anybody?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Technical Difficulties Please Stand By

Remember when you use to get your TV signal from an antenna on top of your house. If the picture was a bit off all you had to do was fine tune it and the squiggly faces were miraculously revealed. However if the picture was entirely snowy the fine tuning couldn’t do much to help and a total repositioning of the antenna was called for. So that is where I find myself. I have fine-tuned the hell out of my antenna and still my reception doesn’t amount to much more than a ghostly image behind flickering snow. Certainly it is nowhere near the HD "Elite" quality I have been striving for.

There are many reasons why one’s antenna might not be picking up a good and proper signal. It could be that it was set up incorrectly, or a strong force blew it off course. Perhaps the signal changed position or ceased to be broadcast altogether. In my case I believe that my antenna was set up incorrectly to begin with. No matter how much I fine-tuned it I would never be able to find a good signal because my alignment was off beyond the limits of my fine tuning. In this instance my fine tuning refers to my attempts at conditioning. I could have the best coach in the world(and I did) but no amount of conditioning(fine tuning) could ever bring a clear signal because of the physical limits that conditioning can achieve. Every coach knows this fact. A seasoned coach can pick out of a crowd of runners those that have their antennas in position to hit a crystal clear picture and those that are destined to watch a fuzzy screen no matter how much they fine tune.  

If a coach doesn’t know immediately what a runner’s potential is then a season of dedicated training would surely reveal it i.e. local, regional, national, world class etc. Take me for instance. At the age of 46 my coach told me that I might be capable of a 36 min 8km. This was his best hope for me and at the time I was thrilled because I had only just run under 40 minutes. However, 5 years later and with a 36:56 8km PR I realise that not only was he pretty spot on but that his assessment ranked me a mere regional class runner. On an age graded scale a 36 min 8k ranked me at 72% at 46 years of age. So out of a 100% signal quality the best I could ever hope to receive is 72% clarity.

It is my feeling after many years of this running stuff that most running coaches are indeed “running conditioners”. Give them a local class runner and they will condition them to win local races. Give them a regional class runner and they will work the hell out them and make them top 3 at a regional competition, give them a national class runner and their girl or guy might be top 10 in country. But in no instance can a coach turn a local class or regional class runner into a national class champion. Nope not gonna happen. But Why? They can’t do it because they aren’t running coaches, they are running conditioners. They can’t change the antennas position they are only capable of fine tuning it to within a maximum variation of 10%(of age graded ranking).

I have followed many local runners whose history of training I am familiar with and compiled data from races dating back 10 years from  I converted their results to age graded percentage of world record time on a graph and each runner’s own personal pattern/ranking/signal quality emerges. EM(me) as a new runner had a spike between the first and second year of running, than a gradual rise followed by a leveling off and a decline. Most of the runners on the graph had been running for many years prior to the results I could find so they had no spike in their results. Note AT and AN had a spikes in their later years when they began training with a high level coach who fine-tuned them to their maximum 10% limits. Each runner's ultimate signal quality was revealed as, none as 60% local class, EM, AT and MB as 70% regional class, AN and SM as 80% national class, and none as 90% world class.

So what does all of this mean??? It means it’s time for me to climb the antenna myself and begin some serious repositioning!!

Stay tuned J

I'll Now Resume Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Get Rich Quick Schemes

I just want to admit publicly that I am the victim of a Get Rich Quick Quick Scheme. Actually I have been vicitimized again and again. I wanted to make this admission publicly as I don't want anyone else to fall for these schemes. So beware anyone or any article or any book or any thing that promises to accelerate or make easy the process of becoming a the best runner you can be. The truth is that there are no shortcuts, no shoes or lack of shoes, no diet or vitamin or strength routine that you can take or do that will be more effective in making you a better runner then just getting out there and putting in the time on the road or the trail or the treadmill. It is not that I didn't put in my time, I did but I thought I was using my time more efficiently and smarter then everyone else, that I had a special way to run, a secret way to think, a magic powder energizing me but in the end I don't think that any of that made a difference and that it was just the time, not the shoes or lack there of or the powders or the extra curicular workouts that have gotten me where I am today. It was infact me, all me all the time.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Life is not about how we feel during it, but how we feel at the end of it. If life was a 5km race a perfect plan may be to try to run an even pace and give a bit more at the finish. We may think we are mapping out the perfect life for ourselves but we will never know until the final days or moments when we realize

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Welcome to HELL

Note: this is a collage of art I found on the internet and photoshopped, sorry not sure of the artist.

After my workout last night I now fear that Hell may be a place where Satan sets your treadmill at 10% and makes you run hills into eternity. If that is true then my workout was hell on earth and my coach is "Satan"!!!

So do you agree or do you have another image of your own personal hell(running related that is)?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Is this one of the Hardest Races in the World??

This past weekend I ran along side some brave athletes who were tackling the 100 mile event at's annual snowshoe races in Pittsfield, Vermont. Some quick approx. stats

Finish rates-
125 people in the 10km fun run, 1 loop with 100% finish rate

 125 people in the half marathon, 2 loops, 92 % finish rate

 66 people in the marathon, 4 loops, 58% finish rate

10 people in the 100 miler, 16 laps, 0% finish rate

100 mile race stats required to finish-
16 laps(10km or 6.5 miles x 16)
36 hour cut-off (average of 2 hours and 15 min per lap)
4 finishers on old course with 1200 gain/loss per loop
0 finishers on new course with 1900 gain/loss per loop

100% of course is snow
100% of course run on snowshoes

100 mile race profile-
This year's course  had approx.1900 feet of gain and loss per loop
Recent past years course had 1200 feet of gain and loss per loop
Original course had 1900 ft. of gain per loop
Profile(in metres) of one lap of the 2014 Peaks Races snowshoe course.
Approx. 1990 ft. total gain/loss per lap

Other Hardest Races in the World for comparison(I left the comparison for you to do)

Barkley Marathon's



race name??????

race name??????

So what do you think? Does this course really measure up to the BIG BOYS of Hardest Race in The World Fame?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chasing the Cut-Off at the Peaks National Snowshoe Championship the Peaks National Snowshoe Championship

"Would you like your medal now?", the young guy asked as he held out the finisher medal ready to place it over my head. "No, thanks" I replied for the 3rd time that day, "I'm going for another lap". "Oh?", the timer to the right of me exclaimed, "You'll have to be back before 6pm, can you do that?" she anxiously asked. "We're closin' up at six, absolutely no one can be on course after 6pm", Andy the RD interjected. "Can you BOOK IT?" he pointedly asked me, "You'll have to book it!". "Well, my watch died, what time is it?" I asked of them, "3:15", the timer replied. "So I have 2hours and 45min? No problem", I promised and ran off to replenish my bottles trying not to even think about if I had to pee or change clothes or do anything else because really I wasn't sure if I had the time to do anything else plus make in back in time for the cut-off.

"YOU'LL HAVE TO BOOK IT...BOOK IT...BOOK IT", was all that I could hear echoing in my head as I quickly ran the 50 ft or so from the start/finish to the base of the mountain where I began the arduous 1200 ft. climb to the summit. 2hours and 45min. seemed more then doable at that moment but I didn't know if my body would still be so agreeable to that after another climb up or if my mind would be sharp enough for that during another run down. So in a desperate move to convince myself that it was possible I began a mantra which I continued for the entire loop, "I can do it, I can do it, I can do it".

The unrunnable(for me anyways) incline went on for a good 1km at a 21percent grade it took me approx. 20 minutes. Then there were some switch backs with some short but runnable sections which I had always forced myself to run on my previous ascents. It was so easy to get stuck in the rhythm of hiking on the up parts that when you finally could run, if only for a short section, your legs just didn't seem to want to start up again. I wondered if it was even worth revving up the engine to only have to gear down again after a measly 40 or 30 or 20 ft. when the switchback would turn and begin to climb steeply again. But I chose to run each and every time if only for the sake of sticking to a plan that seemed to be working and would hopefully get me back to the finish before the cut-off of 6:00 pm.

I continued up the remaining 2 plus kms to the top(3km total) and was all alone as I entered an eerie section aptly named "The Labyrinth". Inside the trees grew so closely to one another that they blocked out most of the sunlight and the trail winded seemingly aimless back and forth, up and up. Once deep inside, the temperature dropped markedly from the lack of light and I got colder and colder and soon all I wanted to do was to get out as fast as possible where there might be some warmth to be gleaned from the cloud covered sun that awaited me on the other side. Once I was back into daylight I warmed up quickly and with a few more steep and now familiar climbs I was at the summit and a small stone house called "Shrek's Cabin". There was no one there to greet me this time and I began to feel abandoned when suddenly from behind me a fellow called to me as he practically fell out of the old wooden outhouse with a half moon hole on it asking if I was the last person on the course. "I think I am", I shouted back as he reached for his phone to call down to verify that fact and I imagined that after a long day on the summit he was probably ready to get back to a warmer and more comfortable setting. I found out later that I was indeed the last runner that they had let back on the course and that the RD had let me go as a sweep of sorts. I'd be able to verify to him that no other runners were out there and when I passed the volunteers on the summit it would be their cue to come down. I suppose he figured that once I was in that everyone would be in and that would mark the end of what had been a very long day and successful day.

I had made up my mind while climbing to the summit that I would have to throw caution to the wind and make up as much time as I could on the down side. I had to make sure to be back with time to spare as the last thing I wanted to happen was to finish a 4th lap and have it not count. On my first lap I ran down the 4kms to the bottom at what I would describe as "break neck speed", meaning that if I was to fall I might indeed break my neck or collar bone or an arm or my head, face etc., etc. After finishing that lap however I began to re-think all of the risky jumps and slides and stumbles I had survived and I become more cautious with each successive lap. I'd catch my snowshoe on a root or almost fall on my face or I'd fall on my back and think, "Wow that could have been a lot worse, maybe I should slow down". I also saw a lot of people take hard falls and tumbles and paying for it with broken snowshoes and painful impacts and after experiencing that over and over I began to put the brakes on during the more difficult descents more often as time wore on. However on this last lap it was as though my brake pads were completely worn and my accelerator was stuck to floor and I hit every short steep dip and every long slippery slope the course had to throw at me with complete abandon.

As I was about halfway down I noticed another runner below and a few switch backs ahead of me and I was quickly gaining on him. I hadn't seen anyone for a long time so it was nice to catch up to him and he fell in behind me. We made it to the base of the mountain where on previous years there was a bridge that would lead runners to the finish line. However this year there was no bridge so instead the course designer perhaps decided it would be fun(I use the word "fun" loosely) to send the runners back up the mountain for another 1.5km and an added 700 ft of gain before we would then come back down another 1.5km and to the finish area. It was at this part in every loop where I could "smell the barn" but it seemed to take just so darn long to get to it. Tim and I were not really sure how long it would take us to get to the finish and he calculated that we would be close time wise to beat the cut-off so I began the run back up the mountain...that's right, I said "run up" the mountain.

For the first time all day I decided to not only run the "runnable" stretches but to run the "unrunnables" also. I didn't need to save my gas anymore and was happy to run to the end on fumes if I had to. Needless to say I don't think that Tim was too thrilled with this new plan and suggested that "we should be fine" time wise but I could not take the chance and I kept pushing us up and up and just when I thought the ups were over we'd round a bend and there would be another up. "Oh when will it end?" I thought to myself...out loud. We began to pass people as we charged through "The Stairs" and the "Escalator" trails and it was not until we finally hit the downs that we knew we would be back in time. Only another 1.5km down, one more dicey sugary long slope, a few more switch backs and we could see the parking lot, then the outline of a wooden barn and then the cheers of some volunteers and Andy and the lovely Lady Timer who exclaimed, "You did it!...And faster then you said you would!" Finally, after 9 and a half hours I allowed the young guy with the out reached arms holding the finisher medal to place it around my neck. I had in deed "BOOKED IT", I had chased and beaten the cut-off, running the second fastest loop of my day with 30 plus minutes to spare.

Firstly, a HUGE thanks to my coach Derrick who's training plan got me to the starting line healthy and ready to run further, for longer and higher then I have ever done before or even dreamed possible. As I wrote to him after the race, "Without your training plan I would not have attempted it(the race) in the first place, I would not have had that thread of hope to hold onto in the middle of it and I would not have had that great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment at the end of it."

Also EPIC thanks to the Peak Races organization, RD Andy Weinberg, course designer Matt Baatz and all of the great volunteers who spent the entire day waiting, cheering and making sure that everything and everyone was running as smoothly as possible. This was truly an "EPIC DAY" in every way!!!

Last but not least, thank-you to everyone who shared the mountain with me as we made our way through various portions of the course. Your amazing performances inspired me when your pace overtook mine , your encouraging words gave me hope when you stepped aside for me and when I fell your helping hands lifted me up in so many ways. (a very nice gentleman literally pulled me to my feet when I fell during my first descent. You were so kind. Thank-you so much).

A few facts-
The Race- Peaks National Snowshoe Championship - Marathon / Half Marathon and 10km
Where- Pittsfield Vermont
When- March 1st 2014
Loop Distances- 3 km up, 4 km down, 1.5 km up, 1.5km down (total approx. 10.2km)
Gain- 1900ft per loop(7600ft total according to Peaks)
Grade up- 21% for first 1km, then averaged 5% for next 2 km to the top with switch backs and climbs. Avg. grade up was 10%
Grade down- -6 % for 2 km down, -14 % the next 1km down, then -5% for .5km, then up 7.5% for 1.5 km then down again 4% avg. for 2 km
Total time- 9:35
Lap times on course- 2:01, 2:25, 2:33, 2:15(approx. 9:15)
Time between loops- 3mins, 13minutes, 5minutes(approx. 20 minutes)
Place- 5th Women
Temperature- -15C(morning) to -5C(mid day)
Nutrition/Hydration- 20 oz.(560 calories) of Vitargo, 20 oz. protein drink(100 calories) 1 block(300 calories) per loop(approx. 800-900 per 2 hour loop)
Snowshoes- Dion 121's
Lodgings- The Swiss Family Inn, Pittsfield, VT

A porta-potty closer to the start finish for those of us who don't like to make yellow snow art along the trail. A woman's tent to change wet clothes in between laps.

Pictures can be found here

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

They're just trying to scare me...

Ah, they're just trying to scare me-

"Peak Races Snowshoe Race (3/1) course description: Climbs steeply up Camino de los Muertos before mellowing along a stretch called Valhalla which is always awash in sunlight (when its present). Crosses upper Stonewall to Tweed Cabin then climbing Green Trail, into the Labyrinth. Hooks around Shrek’s Cabin at the summit to Devil’s Throat and some very narrow and technical singletrack. Drops down the double chutes of Upper Bubba before trekking across Bubba. A very steep bushwhack to Middle Ravine which in turn drops down Fuster's Skid Road. Briefly traverses the banks of Tweed River before climbing Stairs and Escalator Trails. Cuts through Noodles Revenge then follows Crazy Mazie to the start/finish. Epic." 
So I rewrote it-

Peak Races Snowshoe Race (3/1) course description: Climbs a large angle to the plane of the horizon up Camino de los Muertos before mellowing along a stretch called Valhalla which is always awash in sunlight. Crosses upper Stonewall to Tweed Cabin then climbing Green Trail, into the Magical MazeCurves around Donkey's Cabin at the summit to Pussy Cat's Tail and some narrow and lumpy built for one person trailLowers down the double channels of Upper Bubba before trekking across Bubba. A very angled frolic to Middle Ravine which in turn descends down Fuster's Slide Road. Briefly proceeds along the banks of Tweed River before climbing Stairs and Escalator Trails. Passes through Noodles Pardon then follows Lazy Mazie to the start/finish. Good Fun.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Eye of the Storm


I whirl around in a long slow cyclonic spiral, a prisoner bound by the nature of a phenomenon I cannot escape and I submit to the powerful energy which now engulfs my very being. I am pulled and pummeled by the vortex of a storm that has just begun to pick up speed. I am afraid, enthralled and curious all at once. I am on a ride and terrified yet I cannot, will not or do not know how to get off. My body is battered, my soul is ravaged, and my resolve wanes yet I am compelled to anticipate whatever is to become of me. A grip of hurricane force rotates me faster, tighter and harder until I am about to break apart from my insides out and as I approach the limits of my humanity I am spit out into the quiet warm calm of the eye of the storm. I have survived, I've made it through the tumultuous wall and now my weary body slumps while my thankful heart rejoices and I am re-energized under the rejuvenating rays of the taper sun. 
-Eliza Murphy