Friday, November 20, 2009

st george

monday morning we got up and drove over to bryce canyon. en route, we cancelled our reservations at the lodge, and caps' wife managed to change our hotel rooms from kingman to st. george. problems solved again! it was still a little chilly when we got there, so we bundled up before heading out. after about 20 minutes, digger realized he had forgot to lock the van - DOH!! no worries - run back - check it out - lock it up - run back in.

this place was amazing - like nothing i'd ever seen before. kind of like the backdrop for a coyote/roadrunner cartoon, or a dinosaur movie. and because it was end of the season, we pretty much had it all to ourselves. check out the blue sky!

we were out for over 3 hours, and as the sun started to drop, we made our way to st. george and the best western. as a change from burgers and pasta, we treated ourselves to a great mexican restaurant. lots of burritos and cerveza. wanting to burn off the meal, we walked the streets of st. george. a few cars were honking at us, and we couldn't figure out why. later we were told it was because it was so cold out, and one of us was wearing shorts. but it was 15* ???? okay ??!!

our plan for tuesday was to visit zion national park. before starting out, me and digger sampled a buffalo burger - not bad! digger rated his an 8 - good, but not quite as good as the one from planet hollywood. we hiked below for awhile, and then drove up through the mile long tunnel. at the top, we climbed on foot and came out to a spectacular view of yet another canyon.

after a bit of scrambling, we managed to get our 'pylon album cover shot'. pretty cool!

wednesday morning, me, captain, digger and onions went for a run and some 'sploring. cap had us climb this insane hill right off the bat, and that almost killed me! once up, we found the t-bone and the rim trail. we kept noticing all these little holes in the dirt, which me and digger agreed were tarantula homes. eeeeep ! glad we weren't running at night. we also noticed on either side of the highway, that the trail area was surrounded by one foot fencing. what the hell?? oh wait, it had to be to keep the turtles in. haha! it was a really cool place to run, and what started out being only 40 minutes, turned into almost an hour and a half. so after a quick shower, and some last minute packing, we were on our way back to vegas and the airport. beave got nailed at security for trying to smuggle in a bottle of scope! and when we decided to play our leftover change on the slots, he then won $10. lucky beaver! the rest of us came up empty handed. oh well! the flight home was pretty uneventful, and we finally made our way out of the toronto airport just after midnight.

this ends another exciting pylon adventure!

arches and the big kerfuffle

sunday we woke up to 2" of snow on the ground - thank goodness the race was yesterday!!! in true firefighter fashion, captain and digger cooked us up an amazing breakfast - eggs, bacon, pancakes, toast, beer . . . what a great crew to travel with! after that, on to arches national park for some sightseeing and light hiking to stretch out the legs.

silly onions !!!
silly pylons!

and so after at least a half hour of climbing straight up, we made it to the arch. light hiking my arse!

after another hour or so of stomping around, we headed back to the condo for our 'day-later-steak-dinner', bbq'd courtesy of the beave.

it was round about this time that the 'right kerfuffle' started. the original plan was to drive from moab to flagstaff on monday, stay overnight in a best western, drive to supai on tuesday, hike 3 hours down into the grand canyon, stay at the havasupai lodge, hike back up the canyon on wednesday and drive to vegas for our flight home. what could go wrong? hmmmm. glitch number one - we have to be at the airport at 2pm - the drive from supai to las vegas takes 8 hours - the hike up takes 3 hours. therefore, we'd have to start hiking at 3 in the morning. not good. okay, so we change plans and drive direct to supai on monday, hike down, stay overnight, hike back up tuesday, stay in kingman for tuesday night and drive to vegas on wednesday. this might work! captain got on the phone, and 20 minutes later had our reservations changed, while digger had us moved at the lodge from tuesday to monday. what could go wrong? hmmm. glitch number two - drive from moab to supai takes 11 hours, hike down takes 3 hours. assuming it gets dark at 5pm, we'd have to leave moab at around 2 in the morning to avoid hiking with headlamps. not good! so now what!? 6 pylon brains started churning and the room filled with smoke. after a few suggestions, it was decided that we drive to st. george, hitting bryce canyon on the way, and stay there for the next 2 nights. woo hoo! problem solved. wait a minute - we have to change reservations again and cancel the rooms at the lodge. argh! over big bowls of chocolate reindeer track ice cream, we decided to worry about it in the morning.
tomorrow - we're off to st. george

Thursday, November 19, 2009

to moab and the ultimatexc

with a visit to vegas out of our system, we got up early thursday and headed to moab - but not before digger locked himself out of his hotel room. we stopped at a walmart for water and promptly lost onions. we thought we might have to tie a helium balloon to his belt for future shopping trips. saw lots of beautiful scenery along the way.

on route to moab we passed through beaver city, and of course had to take advantage of this sign for a great photo opp!

we pulled into moab and our condo after dark - and after missing the turn a couple of times! here's a view the next morning from the front of the condo.

dinner that night was at the moab brewery. digger had a half-pound burger, with fries, more beer, and rated it an 8.5.

on friday we drove to arches national park to try and find the start of the race. we paid our $10 to get in, only to find that we weren't even close - doh!! after lengthy directions and a few maps, we made our way over to the right one. getting there involved manouvering down kane creek road, which was an adventure in itself. digger was driving and he almost killed us! the shoulders were really soft, with crumbly gravel, and there were tons of switchbacks and hairpin turns. we thought for sure we were going over more than a few times!!! we then made our way back to the town, where digger had hot chicken wings (and more beer) for lunch. we eventually picked up our race kits, and the cap put together an awesome spaghetti dinner to get us loaded up for the next day. once full, we each tried to determine tomorrows' finishing order in a 'top secret pylon pool'. it was a toss-up between beaver and cy, with the general consensus being me last (including my pick!). digger topped the night off with a few more beer before we all tried to get some sleep.

above is a picture of beave and digger getting ready for the start. check out our cow faced drop bag. at 8:30, race director dan counted down and we were off. we climbed up 500 feet on the pritchett canyon jeep road for over 5 miles before reaching the first aid station. from there we hit some single track and ran along the top of hunter canyon. note the 500 foot drop !!

the next really cool part was a one mile 'hike' up the 'scorched earth wall' jeep road - climbing 1000 feet to the hurrah pass. this seemed to go on forever, but the views were spectacular once again!

and yet another great view of the colorado river as we came down the jackson trail single track.

once through the aid station at the start/finish area, we had to head back out for another 10 miles or so. they first made us go up this ladder which was tied to a cliff and ended in a patch of cactus, and then climb up a short cliff using a rope to get to the top. good grief!! after a brief road section, we climbed 1000 feet up to the moab rim along a slab of slickrock. it was really steep! once at the top we had to go just past the jeep before turning around. yes, there was a jeep at the top!!!

the rest was pretty much downhill, including another creepy descent using those stoopid ropes again. and of course my foot just had to cramp as i was trying to figure out where to place it so i wouldn't skid to the bottom. argh! i came up the last little sandy hill to the finish, where the rest of the pylons were waiting to cheer me in. my time was 7:18 and i was really happy with that. the upset of the day was digger, winning the supermasters division with a time of 5:48!!
beave was next with 6:05, followed by cy (6:12), onions (6:22) and the captain (6:51). we were a very happy group of pylons!

once digger received his medal, we got ourselves into the van and went into town. me and cap went for the traditional pylon post-race milkshake, while the rest of the guys settled for beer. in the end, cy won the pool, having best guessed the order, and his own finishing time. we tried to order a pizza later that night, but the driver never showed up, claiming the roads were bad!??? so me and beave drove back into town and picked up 2 large yummy all-dressed for some well-deserving runners.

in all, it was a great race. the course was extremely challenging and the views were spectacular. i would recommend this to anyone who loves an adventure!!!

more stories to follow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

we arrived

so the caledon limo - aka the vents mobile - picked me and onions up at 5:45 and dropped us off at the airport at 6:30. the toronto contingent - captain, digger, cy and the beaver - had already arrived and were checked in at this point. onions bought a $9 sandwich from starbucks and we settled in to wait for our departure.

they announced that the flight was 'almost' full, but me and cap managed to score an empty seat between us! we buckled ourselves in, and cap surprised me with a backpack full of yummy snacks. we had just opened a huge pack of black licorice, taken a piece each, and were offering some to cy who was across the aisle, when this woman walking by sneezed right into the open bag!!! cap was stunned and i couldn't stop laughing. there went that bag of licorice. so we got into the box of pecan butter tarts next! i think the nachos came later. the rest of the flight was uneventful, and we landed in vegas a good half hour ahead of schedule. from there, we grabbed our rental van and drove to the best western.

that evening, cy and the beave went to see cirque de soleil, while the rest of us cruised the strip. i'd had enough by about 9, so we made our way back to the hotel. onions stayed out a bit longer, winning over $100 at craps, but we can't tell lucy. digger's burger report for the day: planet hollywood earned a solid 9, while dennys was a 6.5. beer glasses collected: 2. tomorrow, on to moab. will post more pics later.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

the pylons do moab

so it was way back in march, while we were in virginia, that the captain and digger informed us we would be doing a road trip to moab in the fall. something about a 50k on the mountain bike trails. we would fly into vegas, spend the night there doing whatever, and then head to moab the next day. the race is on saturday, and once completed, we would drive to arizona and run down the grand canyon. we'd stay overnight at havasu falls, and run back up. what could go wrong?

well, let's see.
  • first of all, we read the following on the race site: 'BEWARE: no baby allowed. most of our distance advertised are wrong. for instance our 50km was in reality a 56km.' okay.
  • then i read: 'the ultimate xc moab edition 50km is considered as one of the hardest 50km on the planet.' interesting.
  • and further: 'most of our participants will attest that this is as hard as a 50 miler.' hmmm
  • i then checked out the elevation: total gain = 10,174 feet
  • finally, we received this update about a month ago: 'november is unpredictable and therefore you could have rain or even snow on the ground. therefore if heavy rain or snow is part of our lives on race day, we will have to dramatically change the course as some of the section that you will be racing on would send you to a sudden death. No this is not a Joke.'

and so, on wednesday, november 11, me, captain, digger, cy, onions and the beaver are boarding a plane for las vegas.

like i said before, 'what could go wrong?'

Sunday, September 13, 2009

long may you run

my friend and running buddy - you will be missed. you left doing something you loved. may the spirits keep you safe, and i will think of you everytime i run through the forest and see a wildflower.

matt tatham
september 12, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

haliburton forest - just a training run

our weekend started with the captain picking me up at the treehouse friday after lunch, and then heading over to west guilford and the haliburton forest. onions was meeting us up there later. we stopped on the way for gas, and started our carbo loading - i had a fudgie-freeze, a bag of peanuts and some red licorice. cap had a big bag of chips and 2 of those nasty licorice cigars. ha! remember those things!!

we got to base camp around 4:30, where we met up with the incredible helen malmberg (race director) and grabbed our race kits. we then headed over to the silver maple motel, which was right in haliburton. after registering, we went to the room and captain called first bed . . .

and i called second . . .

hmmm, where was onions going to sleep?

as an afterthought, we did flip a coin, but unfortunately he lost out again. besides, there is a pecking order in the pylons, and i've been around a lot longer than him!

so anyways, me and cap decided to take a little stroll through the village and check out a place for dinner. while walking the street, we noticed a sign that said 'homemade buttertarts'. good grief! i talked him into getting one, and so we sat on a bench by the water and resumed our pre-race carbo loading. they were soooooo good! onions finally arrived, and we quickly wisked him off to the restaurant before he could check out the sleeping arrangements. we had a huge meal of spaghetti and monster meatballs. then onions got the bright idea to surprise me with a chunk of chocolate cake and the entire staff singing happy birthday. argh! i was so full i could hardly move! good cake though! as for the next incident, all i can say is, don't use a plastic cup as a candle holder and then forget about it. luckily captain spotted the small blaze before it set the shower curtain on fire. stoopid onions!

we got up at 4:30am, did what we had to do, and left for the start. on the way there, me and captain spotted a whole flock of moose on the side of the road, even though onions said it was just one deer. once at the camp, we were greeted by the sound of what sounded like dozens of wolves howling - very cool! after our pre-race prayer, and the wheezing of bagpipes, we walked over to the start - basically a line drawn in the dirt. onions was 'in the loo' at the time, and almost missed it. finally at 6am, still quite dark, we counted down the last few seconds, and began running down the road. we hit the single track just as the sun was coming up - it was going to be a beauty day. i ran with jeff cooper and a couple of other guys for awhile, and then ended up pacing a guy doing his first 50 miler. as i got close to the turnaround, i saw onions coming back towards me and he was easily in the top 10 - and looking great! i met up with captain at the water station, and the lead female. oh crap! now what happened next was robbies' fault. he always loves running when there is a 'rabbit to catch'. NO, i said to myself, just run your own race, it's not even a race, it's just a training run. well, that lasted all of 10 minutes, as i caught up to and passed her on a hill. and again, not my fault, but pylon rule #27 states that once you pass someone, you can't ever let them catch you. stoopid pylon rules! i then saw the captain. now there is no way i should ever have been so close to him, so i asked if he was okay. at that point, i noticed the mud and blood running down his legs, and the ripped race bib, and the blood on his singlet. good grief! he apparently had a spectacular crash in the biggest bog on the course. i couldn't believe he was still running! i hesitated to pass him, but pylon rules prevailed, and i went on my way. they kept telling me at the water stations that i was first place female, and the approaching 25k runners were saying the same thing! ack! i'm not used to this ! i just kept running and not looking back. finally, as i saw the finish chute, i allowed myself a quick glance over my shoulder, and came in with a time of 5:42. i couldn't believe it! this slowrunner had placed 1st in the female division.
captain came in just after me, and we got a better look at his injuries!

here's a pic of the 3 happy finishers. onions managed an awesome 7th overall.

and i won this really cool hand crafted stool, with the race name and distance burned on the top. special thanks to helen for such an original award.

on the way home, me and onions stopped and grabbed the traditional pylon post-race milkshake. we also scarfed down a box of blueberry and chocolate timbits. in all, i can't think of a better way to spend my 49th birthday. in the forest with my friends, winning a 50k, and eating junk food while singing (badly) along with songs on the radio on the drive home.

thanks guys! it was a great training run!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

i've never been to texas . . .

well, it's happened again. this time it started while i was emailing with my friend georgie in dallas (whom i met at the transrockies run last summer - part of the team knucklehead duo).

that's him on the right beside christine.

we were talking about getting together at some point, and jokingly i said, 'gee, maybe you could find me an ultra down there.' well, that got me to thinking, and then looking up races on the interweb. i found a couple and forwarded them to georgie. what followed was a flurry of emails, a phone call to my friend tone, who didn't even TRY to talk me out of it (remember him from the whole sinister 7 kerfuffle), and then georgie swearing on his marguerita, and me on my sauconys', and KABOOM!

by 8:35 last night, i was registered for the rocky raccoon 100 miler in huntsville, texas, AND georgie was registered for the 50 miler. GOOD GRIEF!!

so now i have to hope that it doesn't snow before february, so i can get in some decent long runs. and, hopefully georgie can figure out the whole blog thing, so he can add his comments and training in the preparation for our next adventure!! what could go wrong??

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

miss pugsley

so as i'm running back through the trail from k2 this afternoon, i started thinking of one of my clients. her name is erika, she's a figure skater, and i've been training her since december of 2007. i remember when i was first approached to train her. me, train a figure skater - you've got to be kidding! well, believe it or not, i could throw the odd axle in my younger days (before i started playing hockey), and decided, 'what could go wrong?' she walked into the gym on december 18, i'm sure looking at me as if to say, 'you've got to be kidding me - this person looks like she trains rugby players!' after a few sessions, and a meeting with her coaches - i'd never seen a snowflake hat before - we got down to business. she was a real trooper, putting up with a lot - straps snapping clear across the gym, the dreaded balance board pushups, the sound-barrier-breaking hip pops, the neanderthalls and their imitations, and literally thousands of inner thigh exercises. i am happy to say, that by the end of our training, miss pugsley was successfully landing her triple jumps! i managed to see her skate on a couple of occasions and it was beautiful. i could see that she truly loved being on the ice.

on monday, miss pugsley is off to university. i will truly miss training her. i am so proud of everything she managed to accomplish while working with me. and if nothing else, i hope i've instilled in her the ability to believe in herself.

and so miss pugsley, if you're reading this, i leave you with a picture of me doing what i love - hanging out on a trail just enjoying life. i also leave you with this lyric i heard while running today:
"forever trusting who we are, and nothing else matters" (metallica)
all the best my friend, you are awesome

Friday, August 28, 2009

thursday, august 27

i love late summer/fall running. it's my favorite time of year for sure. had some time between clients on thursday, so i threw on my pack, my ipod and my new injinji sox (thanks digger), and headed over to humber station.

aren't these cool?!!

i made my way on the palgrave sidetrail over to k2 and glenn haffy. on the way back, i just had to stop at my favorite bench and soak up the scenery. the horses were way over in the other field, so i couldn't catch a pic of them.

once i got past the gore, i just had to stop and grab a shot of the haunted forest creek.

life is good

Thursday, August 27, 2009

change islands

so i decided to take a 'non-racing' vacation for a change. can't think of the last time i did that. seriously! i booked a flight to change island, newfoundland, and went out to visit my kindred running spirits, dave and tone, for a few days mid-august. after a right kerfuffle trying to get to the airport (homeys' alarm didn't go off), i managed to check-in and get to my seat, AND with enough time to buy a starbucks. the weather leaving toronto was in the 30's. when i landed in gander 5 hours later, it was around 10, and it was raining. i think i was the only idiot getting off the plane who was happy with this! tone met me, and we headed to the nearest thrift store to grab me a couple of long-sleeved shirts (almost cheaper than the starbucks). after a cool 20 minute ferry ride, we were in the small fishing community of change islands. dave and tones' house is right on the ocean.

here is a view from their kitchen window

after sitting most of the day, i really needed to stretch out my legs. so we threw on a couple of layers, and took off for the squid jigger trail. only 6km long, but absolutely beautiful. lots of sweet technical sections, and almost always a view of the ocean - with the accompanying sound effects of course!

and so after a great run, and some fresh salmon and homemade soup for dinner, i crashed for 11 hours. guess the sea air was good for sleeping!!

the next morning was kind of rainy so we decided to do a little tour of the island. trekked down a dirt/grass road and checked out a neighbours place that was being restored. LOTS of wild blueberries everywhere!! did another run/hike on the squid jigger in the afternoon, and hit a house party later in the evening. no, i didn't get screeched or kiss a cod!

here's dave and tone

here's tone picking blueberries!

thursday was a beauty day, so we packed some food and headed out for a hike. we parked at the united church cemetary and started out along the coast from hawkins cove. it was soooo beautiful. one of the things on my list was to go skinny dipping in the atlantic. which we did! it wasn't actually that bad - refreshing as dave put it (we made him go in first). we explored along black long point, bishops cove and ended up at deep cove. after losing tone, and then doing some minor cliff climbing, we eventually made it back out to the highway 5 hours later. what a perfect way to spend time with my 2 bestest buddies!

our skinny dippin beach

black long point

deep cove

thanks for an amazing vacation guys! it was really hard to leave.