2016: the gift of TRIBE

I have sat on this post for days, unsure of how to formally close off 2016. Then this morning, I opened up my laptop to a perfectly articulated post by the amazing Rene Unser:

“2016 started out as one of my toughest years, by far.  I struggled with how much to share about it and truthfully, I didn’t know how to write about it without sounding negative or drawing unwanted attention to it…in retrospect, I regret not being more open about all the events that took place throughout the year.  I am actually really proud of how strong I was, how positive I remained and in the end, 2016 turned out to be one of the best of my life…this is life’s way of teaching us sometimes and I “woulda, shoulda, coulda” can become a great motivator for the future.  After all…a strong mind looks forward, not back.”

2016 taught me Grit. Perseverance. Vulnerability. Authenticity. But the greatest lesson and gift was the unwavering strength and support through tribe – our allies on life’s journey:

“Our tribe members are those people who accept us as we are without reservation and gladly accompany us on our journeys of evolution. Among them, we feel free to be our imperfect selves, to engage unabashedly in the activities we enjoy, and to express our vulnerabilities by relying on our tribe for support. We feel comfortable investing our time and energy in the members of our tribe, and are equally comfortable allowing them to invest their resources in our development.” – MT

When my life exploded, it was my immediate and ultra/trail family that executed the muskox circle defence when others chose to look the other way. They reached out to keep me moving forward and keeping the faith. Without my trail tribe I wouldn’t be staring down 2017 with the same hope, stoke, determination, and gratitude. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Find. Your. Tribe. Because they may just one day save your life.

So here is to kicking 2016 out the door and to going big in 2017!

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“Fear will be there, that’s just part of the deal. Keep going anyway.” – Travis Macy

 

 

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stay TUNED

A new training cycle is starting up soon, stay tuned…in the mean time, get your runspiration on and check out some swaggy goodness coming soon under the ‘Yukon Mountain Runners’ banner. Like the YMR group on FB for updates!

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Awesome YMR design by Liz Sutton. Thanks Liz!

SQ50 – i just felt like RUNNING

“This is an exceptionally difficult course made tougher still by the technical nature of a majority of the terrain. Throw in the fact that the back half runs much more difficult than the front half and you have yourself a nice little day of suffering.” – Squamish 50 Miler

On race day, a lot of people asked me why I chose to run SQ50 and I was caught off guard when I didn’t have an answer. I guess it really just boiled down to many different takes on the same reason: I just felt like it.

It feels good to get after things that at first seem really challenging. Things that require patience (NOT my forte), persistence, and perseverance. And things that we achieve based on our own effort and merit. Endurance running is one of those things…there are no short cuts – either you put in the work and run strong or you don’t.

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Running is my thing. But as I take some downtime from this blog to transition to some fall/winter cross-training, I challenge you to get after your thing. I chose to run 50 smiley miles, and got ‘er done  – all while completing a second degree, working full-time, and keeping up with a largish family. I found my  smooth and I know you can too! Find your tribe and chase your own adventure! Because if not now, then when?

Below: What fitting in a year of training and 3 races (26.2, 30, 50 miles) looks like in 3.5 minutes.

HUGE sweaty hugs to everyone who was along for the ride – you know who you are 🙂 

BE GREAT!!

train HARD, win EASY …

…or so the Kenyan expression goes. I downplay the mantra to make it more achievable for mzungu mortals like me  – “TRAIN HARD, RACE EASY.”

My early years were spent in Kenya…with lots of running around. So when talking to my RMT earlier this week about downhill running (through deep focused breaths as he kicked the snot out of my legs to nip DOMS in the bud), it really struck a chord when he said, “…just run like a Kenyan.”

John Carson, RMT, is one of the founding members of Run For Life. John began running as a kid and continues to share his passion as a coach and volunteer.  He has run 2:29 marathons and has competed twice in the Hawaii Ironman competition. But what’s super rad about John, other than his kickass playlists (I’m sorry, I can’t do the flute and waterfall soundtrack), is that each winter he takes off to Kenya’s Rift Valley where he operates a high altitude running camp and volunteer resource centre – The Rift Valley Resource Centre.

People from around the world come to train in rural Kenya, a region that is home to Olympic and big five Marathon champions from the past three decades. Visiting runners at the Rift Valley Resource Centre get to work with some of the region’s many coaches (including Steeplechase legend Consenslus Kipruto!) and enjoy stunning sunrise runs, tough intervals, and grueling hill workouts – all at 7400ft of elevation!

Every March the Centre stages a marathon, half marathon, and four person relay. The Rift Valley Marathon, scheduled for March 18, 2017, takes runners through the dirt roads and trails surrounding the town of Mosoriot, Kenya. The 21.1 km loop west of Eldoret has a variety of shaded paths, tough climbs, and roads that weave through rural Kenyan villages. The rolling route – the training grounds for some of Kenya’s most accomplished distance runners – includes spectacular vistas at 7000ft elevation.

Now fast forward to yesterday…. I camped out at the Old Crow (Yukon) airport, waitlisted and on weather hold, dying to get home to spend the weekend with my family. I was pretty disappointed when I couldn’t make the flight (turns out every Inuvik resident was flying to Dawson for the music festival!), but when I saw the poster above on a community board – “Train your mind to see the good in every situation” – I decided to fuel up and hit what the town calls “the mountain” so that I could practice some of John’s Kenyan downhill running tips.

The food mail had just arrived but the shelves weren’t stocked yet. With insane cravings this week for protein, fat, and sodium-rich foods (probably still in deficit from last weekend’s 50k), I settled on nuk’em junk (at least it satisfied the sodium/fat craving!). The total irony is that I am sitting here with BEAUTIFUL fresh Chinook salmon by my side and am resigned to Hungry Man TV dinners! Somehow though, I think the diagnostics lab would notice if my samples were missing a few fillets!

So with some calories down my throat, chased back with a nalgene of Nuun, I climbed up to the top of the mountain then ran the downhill, like a Kenyan child clutching his school books to his chest, letting my core do all the work while my legs settled into a fast, easy turnover all the way back down to the river.

Like so much in life, I was reminded that what I love most about running is the community and the constant opportunity to learn something new. I know I’ll make it back to Kenya one day – when our youngest child, a natural-born runner, is a little bit older. Until then, I’ll continue to live vicariously through John Carson and will continue to find creative ways to run like a Kenyan here at home!

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#RiftValleyMarathon #RiftValleyRun #RiftValleyResourceCentre #RunForLife #OldCrow #RunThePorcupine #BeGreat #GetAfterIt

got my GOAT on

Broken Goat 50k | 8,600ft ascent / 9,910ft descent

“The Broken Goat 50k is an incredibly challenging trail running race in Rossland, BC, one of Canada’s highest cities.  This race is not recommended if this is your first ultra as 50k participants must be prepared for a long and strenuous journey in remote alpine terrain…”

Hmmm…not recommended as your first ultra eh? Ok, I’ll do it!

I had the incredible opportunity and pleasure of running this race yesterday and absolutely LOVED every mile. I ran totally unplugged (didn’t even start my watch!) so I don’t really have course photos to share and am not sure I could actually do a race report justice anyway. But there were some great reminders along the way that may resonate with other trail nerds…

The 50k point to point route takes place on the beautiful “7 Summits” high alpine ridge trail while accessing several peaks & ridges via short, steep side trips along the way.  The race proceeds along the peaks and ridges in the following order:  Mt Plewman (2241m/7350ft), Old Glory Mtn (2376m/7800ft), Unnecessary Ridge (2100m/6,888ft),  Record Ridge (1760m/5,772ft) Granite Mtn (2036m/6700ft), and finishes by climbing the Broken Goat Vertical Climb on Red Mtn  (1591m/5218ft).

1. ATTITUDE. It is pretty amazing what we can get after with the right attitude. My only goals for this race were to run smart (I was running on two injuries) and happy. It was pretty great to hit both goals: my IT band and ankle didn’t whine once and my head was definitely in a happy place for all 50k.

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2. FUEL. Good nutrition definitely made all the difference. I ran primarily on Tailwind Endurance Fuel (which is SO great on bellies) and grabbed some fruit and coke at two aid stations.

3. SALT. After blowing out pretty hard coming down off one of the peaks, my hamstring started to cramp. The guys that peeled me off the rocks stuffed salt tabs in my vest. I popped those pills for the next 6 hours – total race saver! I am a salt tab convert!

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4. TWO WORDS – LEG PRESS. Climbing mountains all day felt pretty great and it was on the uphill sections that I was able to pick off runners. The 10,000 ft elevation descent, however, trashed my quads. I am looking forward to focusing on some good downhill training.

5. TRIBE. Between the most amazing family support, the best run buddy ever, and incredibly inspiring endurance coaching and trail running community, I feel pretty blessed to be surrounded by so much love and great energy.

Alright – nap time for this goat. See you back on the trail next week….be great!