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?

Sun Mountain 50k Training Plans

This past Saturday marked 10 weeks out from Sun Mountain training. I don’t know if it’s going to be my “A” race for the year (will I have an A race?) but it’s definitely what I’m focusing on for now.

I haven’t set a serious goal, but I’m loosely hoping to be between 5:30-6:00 (average 6:35-7:12/km).

I’ve never raced anything further than a marathon on my feet (and I’ve only run one marathon!), but doing some longer triathlons did get me accustomed to multi-hour race day efforts. I tried to use some of the things I learned there to build a plan for Sun Mountain. Mostly:

  • I tend to log more miles when I’m with a group and there’s a set plan
  • I need to build in some solo workouts to prepare for how it will feel to be racing on my own
  • I need to listen to my body!
  • I need to practice fuelling.

I’m also trying to consider a few extra things for Sun Mountain:

  • It’s just a lot of time on my feet
  • I have only done a few short races on trail

Long Runs

I decided to build up to the race in parallel to the Running Room BMO Vancouver Marathon clinic. Dave and Greg are leading a big group of people who are running the race, and since Sun Mountain is just a few weeks later (and a few km’s farther), I’ve hopped onto their long run schedule.

This past Sunday was 29km (although a bit short), and I’ll loosely follow the clinic until they start to taper. My plan is roughly: 29 – 32 – 29 (with 21 as the April Fool’s Race!) – 32 – 32 (clinic starts to taper) – 36 – 40 – 30 (race day for the clinic) – 20 – Race!

Weekly Mileage

With those long runs, I’m looking to steadily increase my weekly mileage. For the past seven weeks, it’s been mostly between 65-75 km.

For the next four weeks, I’m hoping to be able to increase that a bit to 75-85 km/week. For the three weeks after that, I’ll look for 85-100k, and then I’ll taper down to the race.

Types of Runs

Since I’m working on the Sunshine Coast, I’ve also been trying to make my runs hilly and looking for opportunities to run on trails. I’m trying to do a bit of speedwork as well!

Fuelling + Listening to My Bod

So. My fuelling has always been something I forget to focus on. I tried hard during marathon training to nail down a strategy and practice it early. On race day, I didn’t end up getting all the calories I planned, but I did get most and I felt really strong, so I called it a success. Lately though, I haven’t been thinking about it as much and I want to make an effort to get back to being strategic. I haven’t fuelled with anything except water and a few gummies for my long runs during this cycle, so that’s gonna have to change.

As for responding to my own cues, I did take an almost rest day 2 Sundays ago – I woke up with a bad cold and decided not to suck it up and do my long run. Overall, I don’t think this made me lose any fitness and I felt great last week, even though I still have the end of the cold.

And that’s it! Any trail runners have some advice for me? 

PS – photos by Jan, except for the blurry cell phone photos I took of Dave’s map + my salad creation

2017 Races

Good morning! I’m writing this at 6:45 am from the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal waiting to head back over to the Sunshine Coast. I have a tiny case of the Monday’s, probably because springing forward this weekend means it’s pitch black out there.

I’ve been pretty quiet here since the marathon, mostly because (1) I haven’t raced (2) I’ve been studying for the CCFP, and (3) I’ve been away working in Sechelt/Wilson Creek as part of a rural medicine experience.

I definitely want to devote a couple of posts to living, running and working on the Sunshine Coast, but this morning my plan was to get organized for my 2017 races. So far, I have a few longer things on the calendar, and I hope to fill in some shorter races too.

April

  • April Fools Half Marathon (Gibsons to Sechelt) – since I’m already living on the coast for a few months, I may as well throw a race in here, right?!

May

  • Sun Mountain 50k – I signed up for my first ultra! And it’s 10 weeks away! More on this coming :)

June

  • Longest Day 5k – My current 5k PR and a really fun Friday evening race complete with post-run picnic

August

  • Seawheeze Half Marathon – this was such a fun race last year, and since it’s my current PR I really wanted to come back and run again
  • Squamish 23km – this race has a reputation for being hard. And, only a week after Seawheeze, it might be interesting ;).

September

December

  • While I’m not actually signed up yet, I was given a free entry to go back to CIM – my first marathon and BQ! If you’d like to enter, I highly recommend the forgiving course. You can use code ALYSSARUNS10 for a discount!

And, speaking of travel, Jan and I are going to be in Australia from April 26 – May 13 (insert happy dance!). If anyone knows of any cool races happening in Sydney around that time, I’d love to hear about it! I’m planning to have my peak week for Sun Mountain the first week that we’re there, so any excuse to get in some extra km’s would be amazing!

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:

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Viewpoint on Lynn Peak looking at Seymour Mountain

 

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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 :).

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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

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As usual, photos thanks to this guy :)

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Cypress Snowshoeing

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A few weeks ago Jan and I decided to go for a quick afternoon snowshoe. We’ve gone up Hollyburn a few times, so we decided to check out the paid snowshoe trails in the Cypress resort. An adult trail ticket is $10, and you can get a season’s pass for $99. The one bummer is that the pass only gives you access to the snowshoe trails – you need a separate one for the cross country skiing. I can definitely snowshoe more than 10 times in a season, but I’m not sure I want to go to the same place 10 times.

So anyway, we headed into the trails to see what they were like.

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Pros: The trails were easy at the beginning. Flat, short, pretty. I would definitely be able to bring my parents, or other visitors who I’m not sure I want to drag up a mountain. As we kept going, things did get harder, but the trails were really well marked (similar to ski trails – green/blue/black etc.) and we knew what we were getting into.

We had snowshoes with us, but another “pro” might be that you can rent snowshoes in the Nordic Area parking lot, which would be convenient. The snowshoes are $24 for the day and include your trail ticket.

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Cons: Honestly, just that there is a cost. There aren’t many great viewpoints in the resort, but the trails do lead to the BC parks trail that sends you up Hollyburn. Considering you can do that (and a lot of other local trails) for free, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to pay. I think the resort trails would be nice for someone who wants to explore a few trails without a lot of elevation gain, or who just prefers marked/groomed trails (though Hollyburn is also marked, and seems groomed because of all the foot traffic).

What do you think? Worth it for the extra $$?