MEC Trail Race 3

too sweaty to open my eyes! sorry in advance for the iphone photos – no fancy camera today!

While we were in Australia, my friend Moira emailed asking if I wanted to join her for one of the upcoming MEC trail races (“Trail Race 3“). Of course I said yes!

Side note: the MEC races are so great because they have all the things you need for a race (timing, well-marked course, coffee at the start line and snacks after) but none of the extra bells and whistles (participation medals, t-shirts, etc.). This means they can be SUPER CHEAP but still well-run, challenging and super fun. 

This race was hosted by MEC North Van and was 15$ for a 15k trail race. There was also a 55k option, but it was only 2 weeks after Sun Mountain and even a 15k race sounded hefty. The race was on the Capilano-Pacific trail, which is mostly wide and non-technical, but also very beautiful!

Moira also got friends Jen and Travis to register, and Jan came along for moral support ;). We drove out to Ambleside Park, where the race started. They had coffee and water and we grabbed our bibs. Excel with Grace was there to lead pre-run yoga (when did I get so stiff?!?!).

I lined up near the front of the pack. I didn’t really know what to expect from other people there, but Jan is always telling me to start up front. There were a few layers of men in front of me but I didn’t see too many other women. They ended up going out pretty fast and when I saw us hit the first km in 4:20, I knew I needed to be a bit more conservative. I let the lead pack, including the first woman, go.

At this point I was running with only one or two other people. The race would go slowly up towards the Cleveland Dam before coming all the way back down, so I focused on running the uphills as much as possible, so I could put more distance between me and any other chase groups. I’m still so much better going up than down! I had some doubts in the early kilometers about racing so soon after Sun Mountain, but I reminded myself it was supposed to be a fun, no-pressure day and just went for it.

On the way back, I saw the others (the joys of an out and back course!) and started to feel good, especially with the downhill. I ran the last 7k significantly under a 5:00 pace and finished in 1:18:28 for 2nd female.

It was a pretty warm day, so I wore an old lulu swiftly tech tee and speed shorts, plus my Flow Y sports bra and a random pair of socks. I’m still rocking the New Balance Vazee trail shoes (a departure from my beloved Saucony!) and quite liking them. I had both of my trusty Garmin’s (steps and GPS tracking) and that’s about it! I carried my Ultimate Direction handheld but this was prob overkill – I didn’t drink on the course.

It was great to get a post-race massage, banana, muffin and coffee! We spent the rest of the day hanging out and getting ready for the week – a perfect Sunday in my books :)

Workouts this Week

I feel like I barely made it to Friday night this week – finally walking into our place (and seeing my Belgian) after a packed clinic, ferry delays and bridge traffic was the best feeling.

On the running front, I felt a bit of fatigue this week as well, so it’s a good thing the next one will be a bit of a drop-back! Here’s what I ended up doing:

Monday Friday/Sunday call shifts and run last weekendI always rest on Mondays! I think I still had some sleep debt from the , so I went to bed early.

Tuesday Easy 11.5k to the Kinnickinick park trails with Alexa, a med student who’s also staying in Sechelt this month. The run to the park is super hilly, so it felt like a good workout even though we kept the pace (mostly) conversational. I noticed I didn’t have as much pep in my step as I often do on Tuesdays.

Wednesday I ran with one of the docs, Simon, at lunch for a zippy 4.5k at 4:20 pace. After work, I did another 12.5k in the trails at a much easier 5:30ish pace. I had planned to do 14, but cut it a bit short because of timing.

Thursday This was supposed to be 12k of hill repeats, but after 8.5k I was really fatigued, so I ended it there. 2x Field Road hill (138m/450ft of elevation)at 4:43/km.

Friday I skipped my run in favour of trying to get home earlier, but traffic and the ferry delay made it a major fail. In hindsight, I probably needed the rest day anyway. When I got home Jan and I ate sushi and watched The Office. 

Saturday I met Alyson for an awesome, easy early am run around the Seawall. It felt SO good to be back in my usual neighbourhood, waking up in my own bed. We did 5:30/km and ended at Whole Foods – honestly amazing.

Sunday We met up with the usual RR crew bright and early for a 33km long run. It rained the WHOLE TIME! I was very cold but very glad to finish. I tried a fasted-ish run (oatmeal an hour before, then water + 1 shot block during, for a 2350 calorie deficit) and actually felt really good.

Total mileage: 80.6km! Even with the rest/cutting off a run or two I’m still happy with the mileage and happy for the chance to listen to my body.

Snowshoeing Hollyburn Mountain


In January, Jan and I took advantage of a perfect holiday Monday and snowshoed up Hollyburn Mountain. The views were bluebird! Here’s a recap of our day and the hike up:


The trail is free, and starts from the alpine area of Cypress Mountain. It’s a left from the main road as you head towards the ski parking. At the base, you can rent snowshoes or get passes to go into the groomed Cypress trails. The Hollyburn trail is marked by red poles, like the one in the photo above.


The first part of the trail is one of the steepest, and I always find myself de-layering here :). Eventually, you move away from the power lines alongside this trail and into a more forested section.



After 2.8 km of meandering up (sometimes climbing, sometimes more level ground), the trail turns up to the left towards Hollyburn peak. Several times when I haven’t had time for a long snowshoe, I’ve called it a day here.

This time, though, we had the whole day and it was so beautiful, I knew we had to get to the peak.



At about 3.6 km, the trail starts to wrap around the mountain. Here, it’s easy to go exploring “off piste” if you have good visibility and the right conditions. Make sure you take the usual safety precautions that you would in the backcountry!

We explored a bit – my favourite is the trees that are covered in snow!

The snow is deep – I would definitely recommend snowshoes (you need more than just boots or spikes, at least in January/February).




Eventually we stopped goofing around and made it the final few hundred meters to the peak. The views were unreal!



2017-01-02-snowshoe-hike-hullyburn-mountain-038We took in the sights, ate a snack, and headed back down. Our total ascent time (with lots of playing around/stopping for photos) was just under 2 hours. We took our time going back down as well, with lots of photo stops.

Quick stats: 8 km roundtrip | Dec-Mar | 3 hours roundtrip | Parking and snowshoe rentals ($15) at Cypress Alpine Parking lot | 590 m elevation

Photos all thanks to Jan

Workouts Last Week

This past week felt like a roller coaster of workouts – between weather and odd work hours, I was just glad to be able to fit in the mileage. My mornings felt a lot snoozier (thanks, daylight savings!) but I LOVE having light into the evening hours. It means leaving work at six still gives me tons of time for a run outside, sans headlamp.

Monday I always rest on Mondays! This week I headed to Sechelt on an early ferry, then spent the rest of the day in the hospital and clinic.

Tuesday I had planned to get an easy run in, and it ended up being a little faster than I intended. Sometimes I get caught up in a “get it done” mentality (this directly relates to the length of my to-do list for the day) and an easy run morphs into a tempo. All good, though, since I was feeling comfortable. 12k | 4:41/km

Wednesday So, on Wednesday I worked all day. About an hour before leaving work, the sky turned super dark and it started raining. I tried to wait it out but the idea of running in the dark and rain was not appealing. I decided I probably wouldn’t totally die in the rain and just headed out to run. It did start to thunder towards the end, so I cut it short. 8.7k | 5:00/km

Thursday I ended work a little later and knew that if I went home first, I would lose all momentum. So, I decided to just throw my stuff in the car and run a loop from the parking lot at work. I found these great trails, and even though I got a bit lost, it ended up being a really fun run. 13.9k | 5:56/km

Friday I worked in the clinic during the day and had to head to the hospital for a night shift after, so I just wanted to get a shorter run in to get my blood flowing. The road that the clinic is on is a nice, long uphill, so I did a few repeats of that and called it a day :). 8k | 4:40/km Saturday I came home from the hospital in the morning, ate breakfast, and immediately went to bed :). I woke up around 11:30 and slowly started my day with some oatmeal and reading. Around 1, I knew I couldn’t put my long run off any longer and headed out. When I left Vancouver last weekend, I totally forgot that I would be doing my long run in Sechelt this weekend, and so I didn’t have any of my usual long run food with me (honey stingers and shot blocks, I’m looking at you). Before my night shift I picked up a couple of these Bounce bars at the grocery store. I ate one 16km into the run but it just sat like a rock in my stomach so I didn’t have any more. Another long run fuelling flop. Other than that though, the run went pretty well – a mix of road and trails with some good hills in there for me. 27k | 5:24/km

Sunday After a daytime ER shift, I squeezed in a little trail run to end the week. It was so beautiful and sunny out that I just couldn’t stay inside. 9.1k | 6:16/km

Total mileage: 79 km! How did your week go?

Lynn Peak Hike (Guest Starring Catherine and Silvia)

Longtime blog readers (and, ok, my cousin and her bff) came for a visit to Vancouver last weekend! We had a great time exploring the city, and ended up on a surprise hike. Here’s the story:

Jan usually takes (and edits) blog photos but since this was spontaneous, it’s me & an iphone :)

On Monday morning I had planned to take Catherine and Silvia to Lynn Canyon. It’s my favourite alternative to the Capilano Suspension Bridge (almost as long, way less crowded and free!). We didn’t really have plans for the afternoon, so we got a slow start to the morning. Around 9, we walked to Whole Foods for breakfast and almond milk lattes of course (Silvia got the mac’n’cheese, which ended up being the best decision). Then, we got in the car and drove to Lynn Canyon.

Once you get into the park, the suspension bridge is only a few steps from the parking lot. I thought we’d go across, take some photos, then do an easy hike to Rice Lake and back (total time ~1h max). We did cross the bridge, but once we climbed the stairs above the 30 ft pool, we passed a sign showing the path to Rice Lake. It was an inset on a bigger map, which included the trail to Lynn Peak via the Lynn Loop trail.


We were less than 2k from the base of Lynn Peak, and it was turning into a really nice day. I asked the girls if they wanted to try to climb up, and they agreed. I went once last summer with Brian, Sarah and Moira, so I knew the trail was well marked. I also had a lot of extra food with me, plus most of the 10 essentials (I think we were a little light on clothing but I always pack emergency blankets).



The first part of the hike is a steady uphill along a rocky trail. Since it was a relatively warm day, there was water flowing in some parts. Eventually, the trail changes to packed dirt switchbacks. We made really good time along both these sections (total ~1.5km), and de-layered a bunch of clothing.


At that point, you find yourself on a ridge that goes steadily up. This is where we also found snow. We had decided that if it got too snowy or cold, we’d turn around, but since we still had lots of layers to put back on, and the snow was packed and melting, we carried on.


The trail is deceiving here because there are several false flats – just as you think you are at the peak, it turns and there is another uphill section. There were some steep parts here where poles or spikes would have been helpful (but not necessary).

Along the way, we passed 2 viewpoints: first looking east, then west.

Viewpoint on Lynn Peak looking at Seymour Mountain


Viewpoint from Lynn Peak looking at Grouse Mountain – on a clear day you can also see the Georgia Strait behind it!

After a little more climbing, we reached the peak. I was so impressed that the girls made it up – I was definitely feeling the climb, and I remember thinking the same thing last time I did it. Lynn Peak has been called a less crowded Grouse Grind :).


The views definitely did not disappoint – the pic I took is overexposed but we could see way past UBC and the airport to the USA. Pretty cool! Our ascent time was about 1:15, with a few stops for breaks – total ~1:30. We hung out at the top for a bit, enjoyed the view, ate a bunch of snacks, and then headed back down. It only took us 30 mins to get back to the Lynn Loop trail, and then another 20 to get back along the creek, over the bridge, and into the car.


Total hike time: 0:25 (Lynn Canyon) + 2:00 (Lynn Loop and climb) + 0:30 (summit) + 0:50 (descent and Lynn Loop) + 0:25 (Lynn Canyon) = 4:30. Links to Strava page with GPS info.

After driving back to Vancouver, we stopped for bulk candy and Momo, and these 2 tried their best to stay awake until 9 :) It was a great day!

Snack Attack


I go back and forth on snacking. Usually I try to stick to three balanced meals a day, but I often find that at work, when things get hectic and I can’t sit down for a meal (or when I’m on top of a mountain!), snacks save the day. I’ve also had days when I’m a bit late getting dinner on the table, and I just need something so I can think straight.


A little while ago, I got the chance to try NatureBox, the company that delivers snacks to your door. You can choose from over 100 snacks, and they are always getting new ones. I got a one-time order, but you can also use NatureBox like a subscription service, and get recurring deliveries.


Basically, you log onto the site and select the snacks you want. I loved that you can choose from different categories, like “Best Sellers”, “Nuts” or “Jerky”, and you can also use filters like “gluten free” or “less than 150 calories”. If I’m snacking at home, I usually prefer something like a piece of fruit or half an avocado, but when I’m on the go these are nice to have as backup.


Members get a discount on the prices listed on the site, and free delivery (even to Canada!). Here’s what I chose:


The box arrived a few days later, and so far I’ve broken into the Peanut Butter Nom Noms (like little PB power cookies) and Jan is eyeing the veggie salt and vinegar chips. I think the rest will come to the Sunshine Coast with me for busy days covering the ER or hikes to explore the area nearby.



If you want to try NatureBox, you can use this link to get $20 off your snacks – and since these 8 were only $25, it’s not a bad deal at all.


P.S. Valentine’s treats are also an extra 25% off now with code LOVE17 ;)

Let me know if you try NatureBox! Do you regularly eat a snack during the day? What’s your favourite?

Hiking St. Mark’s Summit


St. Mark’s Summit is a great summer hike that’s part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail. These photos are from two trips up to SMS, about three weeks apart. The first set is in early June (with Jan+Alyson) and the second in late June (with my sister, her boyfriend Mark + Jan). It’s cool to see how much more snow there was earlier, even though both days were pretty warm.

On both days, we did this as a day hike from the Cypress alpine parking lot – a 20 min drive from our place in downtown Vancouver. When we took Dana (my sister) and Mark, we stopped at the viewpoint halfway up Cypress to take in the views – bonus tourist pic!


The trail leads up from the chair lift before it turns into a gravel road. If you keep going down the road, it becomes a trail again. That’s the start of the Howe Sound Crest Trail.


The trail is really nice and quite wide in most sections – it would be a great option for running if you’re looking for a long stretch of runnable trail with some elevation. It’s about 11km roundtrip to St. Marks and back.


If you decide to head up in late May/early June, you’ll know you’re getting close to the summit when you start to have to cross snowfields. Even though I was a bit sweaty in shorts and a tank top, it was surreal to be walking over snow!



Along the way and at the summit, there are great views of the Lions. If you continue on the trail for another ~15km from St. Mark’s, you will go up Mt. Unnecessary and come right up to the Lions (FYI I haven’t hiked to the Lions yet – I really want to this summer – but I have heard this involves lots of scrambling and you need to be very careful).

We had 2ish L of water with us on both hikes (for 3 and 4 adults), and that was more than fine on a warm day. Shoe-wise, it was very do-able in trail shoes as long as you don’t mind getting a bit wet.


When you do reach the summit, the views of Howe Sound are awesome! I suggest bringing some snacks (and, as always, the 10 essentials) so you can relax and enjoy the view. Bonus, if you bring some almonds, I’m sure the Whiskey Jacks would appreciate a snack, too!




Quick stats: 11km roundtrip | (late) May-Oct | about 3-4 hours roundtrip running, 4-6 if you’re walking | Parking at Cypress Bowl | 460 m elevation


As usual, photos thanks to this guy :)