Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Run Guinea Pig, Run!

I am a product tester / guinea pig for Garmin products in Cochrane. Since March 2009, I have been going 1-2 times per week to the Spray Lakes Sawmill Track to run laps and do what they need me to do. So today was my first day back to it after a few months break from it.

Today, the run involved 4 x 1 lap walks, 4 x 2 lap jogs & 4 x 1 lap runs. Run a lap, stop, push some buttons, repeat. It’s inconsistent intervals, but I don’t mind. I found out my 1 lap running pace is well below the 3:00/km (fastest was 2:44/km) and my average jogging pace is 4:30/km. If I can get that jogging pace under 4:00, I’ll be able to try for my sub 20 minute 5km run. 

Run data can be found here.

2010-08-30 (1) This is the track. The outer lane is 232m long per lap. Not sure what the inner lanes are cause I never use them. So it comes out to 4.3 laps per kilometre and 21.5 laps per 5 km.

2010-08-30 (2) It is a fantastic facility as it has a gymnasium…

2010-08-30 (3)…windows to the outside where I like to be…

2010-08-30 (4)  …an indoor soccer field, also used for lacrosse I believe…

2010-08-30 (6) …and a gymnastics center. Often there are young kids there being taught gymnastics and it is so cute to see.

So the payoff for all this running that I do for them? I get free Garmin gear. Anything that sports the Garmin logo I can get after certain amounts of running.

I have also spent time in the pool testing stuff there and much running outside. Sometimes, I’ve got 4 or 5 watches on while I run, plus foot pods duct taped to my feet and ankles. I do really enjoy it as it keeps me involved with running and gives me days where my focus shifts from getting through a run to gathering data. Right now, I’ve got a watch that I need to wear for the next week as it collects data all throughout the day. Maybe they’re spying on me, maybe not. I’ll never know.

There is one older gentleman who is always walking at the track when I am there. Today he looked at me and said “Wow, you sure are tall. You must be REALLY good at basketball.” I told him I am probably the worst basketball player ever. He replies, “Well, then you must run like hell.” The guy who conducts the testing then says: “He sure does.” Made me smile.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Attempt and a PR

This morning I thought it would be great to go and run the Big Hill Spring Trail, only 10 minutes from my place. My wife and I (and our kiddo too) walked it a week or so ago and I thought it would make a good loop for technical running as there are roots, rocks and some inclines to deal with.

Off I went at 530am… in the pitch black… Usually, dawn starts just before 6am, but as August crawls on, dawn is slipping past the 6am mark into more of a 7am type. With low cloud cover, I got to the parking lot and there was just a hint of dark blue in the sky. I started the run, ran/walked for about 5 minutes then realized I was dumb for trying.

First of all, I didn’t have a bell, and I guess there is always a chance of bears being in the area, especially if they know delicious joggers are there. So that’s the first problem.

5006727t_v1_m56577569830722378BUY ONE OF THESE MISTER! $1.75 from MEC.

Second of all, it was dark, and I had no headlamp. As much as I would like super night vision, dawn brings about weird tricks on the corneas. That’s the second problem.

e99-pi_1One of these would be good too, $80 MEC.

Thirdly, roots. Lots of roots and rocks. In VFF’s, that can lead to stubbed toes / slips and falls. So after pussyfooting for a few minutes, it was best to head back to town and try out for a 5km test run. Not much I can buy to prevent stubbed toes, except “normal” runners, but that is a discussion I will not have for today (if ever).

127 Roots… lots of roots.

I drove back in to town and the light was becoming more and more. By the time I started my run, it was light enough to see everything well. I wanted a new PR for my 5km (currently 23:something), so I headed down to the river paths, which are flat and happily non-rooty, and gave it my best.

Run data can be found here.

YES!!! A new personal record for the 5 km. 22:47! Pretty decent too as I haven’t trained at all for a 5k pace in, well, a LONG time! I’m hoping to get under 20 minutes, and not on a track, but on trails. Soon enough!

So after yesterday’s trail run and various other escapades that I have done, and not to mention conversations with Barefoot Neil, I’ve added an item to my want list. It is called a Contour HD, and it is a one-button HD camcorder that you can wear! Great for motorcycling, paddling, snowboarding (when I do), running, biking, etc… And at $299, it’s actually a decent price!


With Christmas only 116 days until Christmas, this is on my wishlist. That is only $2.57 a day, or Tim’s coffee (which I don’t drink but you may) per day. Also on that wishlist is a rugged camera for photos. My camera is GREAT outdoor photo quality, but when it comes to where I go, it tends to get wet and dropped and beat up and scratched and dropped again and dropped again. So I’ll have to do research on a decent rugged camera. I’m sure they’re out there.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just How Hardcore are you feeling?

That was the first question I asked N after we exchanged formalities when I met him this morning for his inaugural trail run in the Powderface parking lot. It was the first time I’ve met N after chatting back and forth on Facebook and Blogger, and now I have found a barefooted cold weather kindred spirit runner.
“Well, I like to run in minus 35 degree weather, so I’m good to go!” was his answer.
That was all I needed as persuasion to start our cold, wet and absolutely unforgettable run on Prairie Link Trail this morning. The forecast called for drizzle and cold and drizzle and cold is what we got.
GPS data can be found here.
2010-08-29 (1)The drive out to Prairie Link Trail in Kananaskis. Rainy, chilly, wet, and snow at higher elevations. But the adrenaline was surging and I was hoping N was still up for the run.
2010-08-29 (4) Obviously he was up for the run, so we headed up the steep initial section of the trail.
2010-08-29 (8)N showed up decked out in KSO’s and black ninja pants, injinji socks, gloves, toque, rain gear, etc… I showed up in smartwool, polar fleece and shorts and VFF Sprints. He took one look at me and said I was crazy (or something along those lines). Regardless, barefoot runners tend to get that a lot.
2010-08-29 (10)As my initial drive in to the Kananaskis forecasted, higher elevations turned rain in to snow. No big deal though as running kept me warm and the cool air kept my adrenaline surging throughout this run. The part I love about barefoot running is that in cold weather the initial 5 minutes are cold on your feet, but since all the muscles in your feet are being used while running, your feet warm up and stay warm thereafter. It’s an amazing feeling, weird as that sounds.
2010-08-29 (11) Well armed with bear spray, bells and a realistic dose of caution, we tried to avoid the great hooved grizzlies of the area. Telltale signs of their presence were obvious.
2010-08-29 (14)There was one unmistakable tree on the path that I’m sure everyone stops to look at. N saw it as a stripper pole, I saw it as a seat (see below).
46482_1168961961192_1742274482_318029_4370340_n Comfy nature seat? I think not! More like upside-down question mark!
2010-08-29 (15) At the high point of the trail. I think elevation gain was 275 meters (900 feet or so).
2010-08-29 (16) See, elevation of 5857 ft, although that does not prove that the parking lot is 900 feet below.
2010-08-29 (19)N let out a couple of WOOP WOOP’s on this downhill section. You can also see that the snowfall picked up at the higher elevation.
2010-08-29 (20)I rode this trail a few years ago on my mountain bike, and this used to be a creek fording. Now they’ve built a bridge. The old path was still there which fords the creek (to the left), which we did.
2010-08-29 (22)Look at this guy. Running through a creek AND taking photos of his feet. You can tell he’s proud to be a barefoot runner!
2010-08-29 (23) Post fording foot shots. Look, they’re wet! Even with shoes, they would still be wet! But alas, we are not wearing shoes, we are wearing VFF’s. So proud to be wearing them.
47794_1168962201198_1742274482_318031_2309883_n Again, the advantage to outings with other people! Not only can I see photos of myself, I can also analyze my form and running gait. I think it looks pretty good!
2010-08-29 (25)The great part about running with other people is you can get some great shots of them in action. Good form N! Figure 4’s!
2010-08-29 (27)Ah, kindred spirits, both in running and in footwear :-) My squirrel friend who works for cashews and happens to be on every outing with me took this photo.
47794_1168962241199_1742274482_318032_1543809_n N couldn’t resist this VFF shot. Probably going to end up on their FB fansite.
47794_1168962281200_1742274482_318033_4266175_n More barefoot running technique. Figure 4’s!
2010-08-29 (32)This is such a fantastic trail, and I recommend it to anyone and EVERYone who likes being outdoors. The views are fantastic and the scenery is incredible, even with the low clouds, snowfall and greasy mud!
2010-08-29 (33)Coming out of the trail on to the main highway. The last time I was here I was halfway through my half marathon! This was the end of the run for us today, and it deserved a well earned high five!
47794_1168962481205_1742274482_318038_6350245_n Not sure if I will or N will post it, but this is post-run VFF shot for the Facebook fansite. Their site has many of these shots, each one telling a story of the individual’s own escapades in their 5’s!
All in all, a fantastic run! The cold weather keeps you moving while at the same time slows dehydration and keeps the adrenaline surging! At the same time, I felt I could have run for hours, and I think I owe that to the spirit that N brought along with him on this run. This was N’s first trail run (and hopefully not his last), and I was happy to lead him on it! If anyone is ever out in K-country and needs someone to hit the trails with (or with WHOM to hit the trails), look me up and I’ll be there!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Scrambling Something Bald

Ok, a bit of delay in posting this, but here it is. Sunday, August 15th was my first scramble of the year. I had intentions of doing one scramble per month from May on, but raising my kid and taking care of my wife was my priority. So now that things are settled, I organized a scramble and off I went.

Here is GPS data, if you want to get lost like we did.

This scramble brought along new friend and dude I work with who just moved from High Level. Woop! Another northerner! His girlfriend came along as she was visiting from Saskatchewan. Also, an old friend came along as well. So four of us trudged out to Mt. Baldy on a Sunday afternoon.

2010-08-15 (2)This was the view looking from the road. The summit there is actually West Baldy, attainable through a traverse from the summit ridge, but we never made it to there. But I’ll say we did.

2010-08-15 (5)The ascent was actually a nice hike through the woods along a dried up stream bed. Overlooking us the entire time was the ridge to the north. For some reason I thought we were supposed to be ascending via the ridge, but perhaps we’d get there in time.

2010-08-15 (9)We quickly ascended and gained some elevation. The pace at first was quite quick, but we slowed down as the grade become steeper. It was also at this point that I realised we were ascending the descent route. We were supposed to ascend via the ridge as I had originally (and the guidebook said) thought.

2010-08-15 (14)The trees quickly gave way to a scree slope, which is fun to descend, but tough to ascend. You can see the summit ridge that goes south west to West Baldy summit.

44705_10150235639355694_864070693_14287363_7968469_n The push for the summit ridge along the scree slopes. Always a challenge to climb this stuff.

2010-08-15 (18)I really liked this shot, as it shows the entire ascent. You can see the road way down there and Barrier Lake across the road. It also shows the ridge to the north that we should have ascended.

2010-08-15 (20)There was a good spot for a photo, so as I hiked out there I asked fellow scrambler to take photos. Once I got there, however, my batteries died, so no hero shot.

40527_10150235639720694_864070693_14287383_5107531_n I was happy that someone else got the photo cause it turned out well!

41010_10150257064935503_531250502_14412835_5800535_nThe views to the east toward Calgary were fantastic as Baldy is on the front range, so you’re way above the rest of the landscape. BTW, I was handing a camera to her, and I didn’t even know this photo was being taken.

44550_10150257065690503_531250502_14412842_2767828_n There was one spot with some technical scrambling, and I really enjoyed it! I love spots like this.

46143_10150257065285503_531250502_14412836_6243666_nI know, I know… so many photos of me! But again, the advantage of climbing with other people who enjoy taking photos!

2010-08-15 (30) Ah the summit! Such a perfect day for climbing.

2010-08-15 (31) The best part about the ascent is eating food while at the top!

2010-08-15 (33) This was their first scramble, and Barrier Lake provided a fantastic backdrop for a rather photogenic couple!

40190_10150235640530694_864070693_14287410_5740237_nThe nice part about scrambling with other people is that they take photos, and every once in a while, a nice hero shot comes out! This was totally unplanned!

2010-08-15 (56) Along the descent, we found a Flintstone couch which provided a great group photo op! I really like this photo!

2010-08-15 (61)We came down this slab, and unfortunately we came down the wrong side of this ridge. We should have come down the other side of the ridge which would have kept us on the main path. But alas, we lost the trail on the descent and had to bushwhack back to the road.

2010-08-15 (65)And when I say bushwhack back to the road, I mean it! A few game trails, but pretty much steep moss and loose sticks. No biggie, we made it!

So yeah, I finally got to climb Baldy. A good climb, but perhaps I will take the ascent route next time! I’m hoping to have time for at least once more climb this year before the snow flies! Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Calgary at the Gates of Dawn

So I haven't blogged lately cause I work too much (sorry my dear). Therefore I shall blog now. This morning I had some business in the northeast of Calgary then Airdrie, so I figgered I'd go bike Nose Hill, right smack dab in the middle of Calgary. 14.19 km, not too bad.

GPS data can be found here, in case you get lost in Nose Hill.

Yeah, so driving south from Cochrane to Springbank, there was the MOST spectacular sunrise ever. So me goes out and takes a photo while driving (always a safe thing to do) in hopes of capturing dawn in it's beauty. And what do I get? A blurry, smeary inside of my driver window. At least I tried.

The "trailhead", if you will, is located off of Shaganappi and Edgemont Blvd. Not as scenic as K-country, but on the way to work, so it's got my vote. This photo doesn't make it look too urban...

...but if you turn to your right, you get this. At least those condos have a nice view.

Almost as if you are in a serene meadow in the middle of nowhere. But the serenity was betrayed by the skyscrapers that are being built downtown. I could photo shop those out of there, but that would be lying about Nose Hill Park.

The trails are either loose gravel or paved! Last time I was there (about 2 years ago), there was no pavement. Not a very challenging ride, but I didn't care. I was out to have fun (as always).

The view out east was fantastic. Well, this is sort of north east. I could tell it was going to be hot day today because there were waves of heat blowing on me while I was biking. Yep, gonna be a stinker. That means hot in ellornean.

There is some single track in the park, but it is pretty well worn down from being in such an urban location. No biggie though, there are places you wouldn't even know you're in a city. It's really a beautiful park. I think it is the largest "in-city" park in North America. Take that Central Park...

It's kinda cool looking down at downtown. I always think of the poor executives in their leather chairs looking out at Nose Hill wishing they could be frolicking in the grass like I am doing. Haha, suckas. That being said, my goal in life is to never be an executive or have to wear a suit (aka. fabric coffin) to work. How did I get talking about this?

Turn your back to the road (14th street) and you get some nice rolling hills. Believe it or not, I actually bailed on my bike on a flat section at the top. I was just biking along when my back tire obviously slipped on something and I found myself on my duff. Weird....

A view out to my beloved mountains. I will be out in K-Country this weekend with fellow blogger and barefoot runner Neil Z, assuming the rain is not a pourin and the bears aren't too hungry. I am sure there will be a blog from the both of us regarding the trail run. Now you get to see BOTH sides of the story.

BTW, props to whoever can decipher this blog post title. I'd have giveaways, but I have nothing to give away other than being a riding buddy or running partner.

Also, I did a scramble of Mt. Baldy 2 weekends ago, and I promise a blog about that one. Hang tight!