Snow Capped Adventures Apr05

Snow Capped Adventures

As with all post vacation energy, it seems as though my body is in need of another rest as soon as I come back from the holiday, usually due to the large amount of adventures Han and I seem to try and squeeze into the time we have available when experiencing our getaways. And so, not wanting to break from tradition, our last few weekends have been action packed as our diaries grumble and creak at the adventures we pen into them. T+16 hours after landing on Canadian soil from Hawaii, we found ourselves in a car with friends and luggage abound on a weekend trip to Manning Park with our running club, Pacific Road Runners (PRR). Every other year the club organise a trip out to this beautiful national BC Park to relax, drink, snow shoe / run / ski (as you see fit) and generate that bonding and club atmosphere that all good clubs seem to exude. Being located roughly in the middle of Vancouver and the Okanagan (3 hours East from Vancouver), nestled cosily in the heart of the Cascade Mountains, and lying directly on Highway 3, Manning Park is not only within easy reach for us Vancouverites, but also a wonderful place to experience some of what outdoor Canada has to offer. Our group were staying in the impressive 36+ bed ‘lodge’, which offered us plentiful space to cook, create, play and relax, and is just a mere 5 minute walk away form the main resort bar, restaurant and swimming pool. We had a wonderful couple of days snow shoeing up and around the main ski resort mountain to Poland Lake, before settling in for some hot tub action, poker tournaments, and beer drinking entertainment. I even managed to find time to throw in a few impromptu balloon modelling workshops. Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery It was a great post-holiday holiday, and really did recharge the batteries ready for ‘normality’ back in our home town. Thanks a ton to the organising committee of PRR who do such a great job of arranging, booking and coordinating all these things. However next weekend, not wanting to let the constant drip of weekend adventure come to a halt, we hit up with a double dose of adventure; not only had we planned to hike to Elfin Lakes and camp over in a desolate lodge with our good friends David and Julia, but it was also Han’s birthday on the Sunday. Elfin Lakes is located near Squamish, about an hour on the road North to Whistler, and the trail starts at a car park 20mins off the main highway down double dirt tracks. We had researched the trip quite extensively over the previous few weeks as we knew that this was not going to be a simple case of hiking, be welcomed at a cosy warm lodge with our own rooms, before settling in for the night and making the return trip, and thus we felt we were aptly prepared for the weekend. The camping lodge is actually located 11km from the start point, over often steep, dangerous, avalanche risk terrain, and operates on a first come first served basis with 30 wooden bed frames and slats available to hikers. Although the lodge had a couple of gas stoves, you need to take your own rollmats, sleeping bags, food and drink and entertainment on the hike, and thus it was the four of us started off at 8am laden with full backpacks and a small niggling thought of “what happens if we don’t get a bed”. But as trailpeak.com quotes “Few hikes put you in such exceptional terrain so quickly”, and a couple of hours into the hike we had passed enough people to feel relatively comfortable that a bed would be available, and started to really enjoy the snow hike through the winter wonderland that was opening...

Brain v Legs, The Never-ending Battle

It was only a week before that I crashed out of the Orcas Island 50km ultra-marathon trail race before I found myself stepping toe to toe with the some of best at the start line of the Vancouver First Half Half-Marathon last weekend. The week before I had thrown myself in for only my second (and determinedly not to be my last) 50km trail race, over on the scenic, beautiful, sun-shining Orcas island, only to find myself screaming in agony in an ambulance at the 32km aid station, and thus was a little trepiditious and nervous pre-race only a week later. My calves felt fine and I knew I was in good enough shape to not find myself placed among the DNF’s, but with my local running club supporting along the way (in-fact they organised the whole thing), and a PB of 1:22:59 only 1 month earlier, the usual pre-race nerves were finding themselves in unusual good spirits, unlike my usual joviality and throw-away nature which were lacking in humour. Luckily, as I found out later, resolve and stubbornness were also here for the party, and they were most welcome guests come finish time! I hoped however that as soon as that gun went off I could relax (?) into a good pace and grit on through to a good finish time. I was aiming for somewhere inbetween a 3:40 – 3:45km pace to start, knowing that it would give me a slight barrier for a 3:50-3:55 worst case scenario in the later part of the race and still hit my hopeful 1:21 – 1:23 finishing time. Double check of my shoe laces, re-tie for no other reason than nerves, re-check the watch, settle up behind Barry for the start, triple check the watch, pretend to know the Canadian national anthem, and ‘BANG’ we were off. As with all my races I get a little carried away in the first couple of km’s, the problem being that I can run 3:20 – 3:30 pace for a little while, and so it was after a couple of k, that I found myself on for a 3:35 average pace, knowing I was being a naughty runner, yet enjoying the space, freedom and speed that this pace gives. At mile 1 we passed the start line again and I waved to my adoring fans (ahem?), momentarily ran backwards for the camera (read – Han, Steve, Susan, Julia, David and other PRR members) and woke up to reality. “Ok Nick calm down, relax, being slower is just fine, you’ll appreciate me telling you this later on” noted the reliable, sensible brain. “But I feel fine right now, lets carry on like we are .., wahey look at me go, I’m flying man” responded the amnesic race legs. And so it was for the first 3-4 km that I battled between the physicality of the race, and the mental knowledge of what was to come. By km 5 though one of my fellow PRR running buddies, Barry Young, was pulling away sufficiently for my competitive nature not to get caught up in a race I couldn’t win, and I started to hit that race-pace that I hoped I could sustain for another 16km. By km 7 my hopes of staying in touch with Ellie Greenwood were dissipating as well as her ultra-trail legs pulled her onwards away from sight, and so it was that any runners I knew were gone from my vision and I could concentrate on my own pace, and my own race. A lesson I suspect I need to learn, and one alone that experience will hopefully teach me. The next 8-9km were fairly normal and uneventful (as half marathons go) as I found myself settling behind ‘Mr Light Blue Top’ and probably thoroughly annoyed him as I let him lead me on a 3:45-3:50 pace without ever taking the brunt...