Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Grouse SnowshoeGrind

When Debra asked me if I wanted to join her to do the Grouse Snowshoe Grind Mountain Run, I was hesitant. I mean, a snowshoe race? But then she reminded me that it would make a great blog post, so I readily obliged!

***SPECIAL THANKS to Debra for all of her awesome photos – many of which are included in this post!***

There are three kinds of people:

  1. Those who run the Grouse Grind regularly
  2. Those who run the Grouse Grind once
  3. Everyone else

The Grouse Grind is a three-kilometer hike from the base of Grouse Mountain with an elevation gain of 853 metres (2,800 feet). However, the Grouse Grind is closed for the winter. The SNOWSHOE GRIND is an entirely different thing!

In the days leading up to the run, I got a bit nervous. I’ve gone snowshoeing a few times, though not in recent years, and I’ve certainly never raced in them. I got some sage advice about how to dress from Christina (don’t worry…we ALL get sweaty), and felt fairly well prepared by the night before.

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After a fitful sleep, brought on by more anxiousness about this race than I even had before my first marathon, I groggily got myself ready for a 7:15am pickup by Debra. Light traffic, and after a brief detour we were at the base of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver for bib pickup.

FullSizeRender (1) Grouse Snowshoe Grind

We crammed onto the tram with dozens of skiers and snowboarders of all sizes and ages, and arrived in plenty of time to relax over a coffee and strategize about how to tackle the unknowns of a snowshoe race.

Grouse Snowshoe Grind Grouse Snowshoe Grind

Have you ever snowshoed? It’s not like running on the roads. You need to have a wider stance, and you tend to leap/shuffle forward. There are spiky things on the bottom to help you grip the snow. And we were going to need it…

Grouse Snowshoe Grind Grouse Snowshoe Grind

Once we were kitted out, we scanned the competition (“The one in the short sleeves is going to win…”) and got ourselves pumped up:

And a few minutes later about 120 ‘runners’ headed out onto the snowy trails.

Grouse Snowshoe Grind Grouse Snowshoe Grind

For the first few minutes the trail was a gradual upward slope. I ran a little bit, walked a little bit – felt that my pace was pretty decent. I passed a few other snowshoers.

Then things got steep.

Grouse Snowshoe Grind

This is why we call it a GRIND

For nearly a kilometre, the grade of the trail was between 22% and 30%. This quickly reduced me to walking trudging at a lightning slow pace.

Grouse Snowshoe Grind

Elevation profile

Took a couple of stops along the way.

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Taking a look back (and waaaaay down):

Grouse Snowshoe Grind

Finally, two kilometres in, we reach the top of Dam Mountain – the summit is at 1,318 metres elevation (we started just shy of 1,100 metres or about 3,600 feet). The scenery was breathtaking.

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On my way up, I had been passed by several a whole bunch of lead runners who were bombing down the trail. I tend to be pretty cautious going downhill, and at first I was kind of tip-toeing, and letting others pass me. Finally, though, I got the hang of things and picked up some speed. I passed Debra & Grace on the way by.

Grouse Snowshoe Grind Grouse Snowshoe Grind

Grouse Snowshoe Grind Grouse Snowshoe Grind

See how my jacket is tied around my waist in that last photo? Well, about 5 minutes later it fell down around my ankles and I nearly took a header. Thankfully, I pulled it together and stayed upright.

And then it was over. I was very thankful for a banana and a sports drink.

Grouse Snowshoe Grind

I made sure to stay to cheer both Grace and Debra across the Finish Line!

Grouse Snowshoe Grind Grouse Snowshoe Grind

Feasted on bagels and cream cheese, coffee and cookies, but failed to win any door prizes this time around.

Absolutely knackered after this short but gruelling race. Would I do it again? Now that I know what to expect…absolutely!

Have you ever been on snowshoes? How about running a snowshoe race?

Weekly Wrap

Sharing this race report via the Weekly Wrap LinkUp hosted by HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin – stop by and read stories from other inspiring bloggers!

When I was a kid, my parents used to take me to ‘travelogues’ at the local high school auditorium. These generally involved a couple (or, occasionally, a single guy) presenting home videos of their travels, and providing live commentary. Basically, you were paying to see what people normally used to show in their living rooms to unsuspecting dinner guests. Yet, my parents loved these shows, and I either got caught up in the story of whatever country we were visiting…or I sat on the steps and read a book.

Most of the time, my runs are predictable – they start and finish at home, at Forerunners, or at the office. The sights and routes are familiar. But once in awhile, when I’m out of town, I kind of what to make a ‘travelogue’ of my own – a TravelRun! It’s a great way to explore a new city, and I kind of enjoy having maps on my Garmin from faraway places.  It’s nice to mix things up once in a while!

This past weekend, four of us took a drive to Kamloops, a small-ish city about 4 hours from Vancouver. We were there to see a play written by a good friend of ours, and then we stayed the night. I had brought along my running gear with the intention of doing a run in a town I’d never visited before. I set my alarm and woke up before everyone else, stepped outside, and discovered this:

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There was no snow last night! It wasn’t even that cold! But it was 7am on a Sunday, the snow was still gently falling, and I felt like a kid at Christmastime.

My run took me through the quiet downtown streets (with a friendly “Mornin'” from a guy on his front porch having a smoke), to this curious bridge over the railway tracks:

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Evidently, the bridge was built to encourage exercise, since it’s easy enough to cross at ground level. But I crossed the bridge, reached the riverside park, and ran the path alongside the Thompson River.

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Once I reached the Overlander Bridge, I took a few more photos…

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Then I turned around and headed back to the hotel. As I retraced my route, I reached a point where my footprints were still the only ones…


Just short of 5km, but I felt that I had gained some appreciation for this town. As you can tell from all the photos, it wasn’t much of a run in terms of exercise…but I had a good time.

We drove home after breakfast.

The very next day, I was off to Edmonton on business. It was a full day of conducting interviews, and after dinner and drinks with a coworker, bedtime sans exercise.

I woke up to this:


That’s -17 degrees Fahrenheit!

And immediately decided that a run was not in the cards.

That night, as chance would have it, work took me back to Kamloops. But after a delayed flight…well, suffice it to say that my running shoes spent the entire trip in my suitcase.

Back in the office on Thursday, despite torrential rain in the morning, I steeled myself to finally get another run in. And at lunchtime – no rain! So I took advantage of the reprieve, did my seawall run, and felt happy to be home again.

A few of my favourite TravelRuns:

Do you pack your running shoes when you travel? What about business trips – do you keep running? What’s your favourite TravelRun?

It was one of those dreams where you know you’re dreaming and it’s not even a dream it’s really just your mind on overdrive trying to figure out something but without the rational thought to actually find a solution of what to wear, whether I’ll be overdressed or under-dressed and what if I can’t find a car2go…and that’s how I woke up the morning of the Chilly Chase.


The Chilly Chase Half Marathon is part of TRY Events, which organizes a number of races throughout the year in Metro Vancouver. The Chilly Chase comprises 4 races – 5K, 10K, 15K and half marathon. I seem to have set myself up by publicly declaring 2015 the ‘Year of the Half Marathon‘, so that’s the one I chose!

It was a wet and miserable (yet foggy and mysterious) Saturday afternoon when I went to package pickup…


…which was very low-key, with only 2 other participants there when I arrived. I got my bib, a delightful pair of socks, and my timing chip.

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TRY Events are ‘bare bones’, which is actually rather refreshing – the basics, a few perks, and a small crowd. My only complaint about this race is that there was no course map for the half marathon, either online or at pickup. The volunteer explained that it followed the same course as the 15K, and then continued around the Stanley Park Seawall…and back again. Fair enough, especially since this route is very familiar. But I would definitely have liked to have had a course map with kilometre markers, a bit like this:

Snap 2015-01-25 at 12.35.29

After package pickup, I went to physio. Since the Honolulu Marathon, I’ve been having pretty consistent pain in my right foot. Treatment looked like this:


Electrical pulses & needles

(By end of the race, my foot was pretty sore again – iced it, and will take it easy the next few days.)

Race Day

After the waking dream drama, I got up and ate my oatmeal, relaxed a bit, and easily found a car2go to get me to the start line well ahead of time. A beautiful, warm January morning – perfect weather for a race!


Ran into a few of my Forerunners buddies, and we hung about in the Creekside Community Centre gym. It wasn’t chilly at all (about 12 degrees), but nice to be inside before the race.

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The half marathon gun went off promptly at 9am (the other races followed with staggered starts, a few minutes apart). I spent the better part of the first 10km trying to keep pace with Bob (of NYC Marathon Guest Blog fame). I was able to maintain a pretty consistent target pace for the first 5km, but at that point realized that I may have gone out too strong as my pace slowed.

bob n me

On Bob’s heels



Still going strong…at 3km

I think the toughest moment of the race was the south shore of Lost Lagoon, because we ended up running through mud. And isn’t it always the way? When you splash through a puddle, the water lands squarely on the toes of your opposite foot. Yuck.

We hit the Seawall, and the lead runners were already on their way back from the turnaround point. I started counting them and reached about 40 before heading back myself, picking up the pace again and trying to stay on track. Things started to falter again at 16km, at which point Bob caught up with me again, and we pretty much paced each other for the rest of the race.

I mustered up a wee bit of energy in the final stretch, besting Bob by just seconds! Didn’t quite achieve the sub-1:50 time I was hoping for, but 2015 is still young.

Finish sprint

Bookin’ it at the finish


See…just seconds behind me!


Bob, Gail, Stephen

I realized that after all the focus on last year’s marathon, I’ve been humble-bragging to myself a bit, thinking, “It’s only a half marathon.” But a half marathon is still 21.1km, nothing to sneeze at. And with the First Half Half Marathon just 3 weeks away, I’m going to focus my training a bit more and take things a bit more seriously.

All in all, a great race! Weather, friends, organization, volunteers, swag – everything a race should be!

Final results:

Chip time: 1:50:38
Average pace: 5:14 min/km
Place overall: 41/152
Age category place: 7/17


Have you ever had one of those times when it’s the perfect storm of work, school, family all culminating in so much stuff going on that suddenly almost a month has gone by and you haven’t written a blog post?

Ya, that’s what happened.

2 weeks from today, I will run (or, by this time of day, have completed – I hope!) the Honolulu Marathon. And just to make sure I hadn’t forgotten, this arrived in the mail last week:


But what’s been happening in the meantime?

The Long Run

I probably should have peaked last week, but I got my longest run in about 3 weeks ago. It also happened to be the longest solo run I’ve ever done. It started with an early jaunt to Forerunners, where I joined up with the clinic for the first part of their run. I then continued my loop around False Creek and on to Stanley Park, where I captured a bit of the local scenery.


I’ll admit I also stopped along the way to vote in the municipal election!


After circumnavigating Stanley Park, I finally reached Coal Harbour at 33km, where I stopped for a coffee. The barista said: “Lovely morning for a little jog.” I just smiled and nodded.

Running Barrie

I went back to Ontario for a week to help my dad out following a minor surgery. And for the first time, I took the opportunity to run the beautiful Barrie Waterfront – an out and back around Kempenfelt Bay.


And had intended to get in a long run, but with some housework to manage, plus juggling working from home – I waited too long and woke up to this:

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Winter in Vancouver

I arrived back in BC just in time for…well, no snow yet, but a bit of below zero. Another False Creek/Stanley Park loop, and managed to reach a little more than a half marathon distance. I should have run further, but I ended up at Starbucks instead.

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But then yesterday, winter had truly arrived!


I ended up taking a bit of a tumble en route, but thanks to the cold my glove took the brunt of my fall! I’ve got a bit of a sore hip, too, but no war wound to show off!


So here’s what it looked like yesterday in all my key locales – including my upcoming vacation destinations!


My #42for42 goal is fast approaching – the birthday (on Friday) arriving just over a week before the distance. We’ll then be off to Japan for 2 weeks, where (after some recovery) I hope to run some more!

Stay tuned!

You know it won’t be a typical run when you wake up to snow falling in downtown Vancouver.

But let me back up a bit. Because this is my first official race report, and because I’m especially impressed with this young, up-and-coming 10k/5k (this was its 3rd year), I want to start from the beginning.

A lot of the running bloggers I follow, and who inspired me to start this blog, are somehow connected to the West Van Run. At some point, I connected with @WestVanRun and loved the energy behind the tweets – so I signed up!

Quick pre-race highlights:

  • Great website; engaging social media presence
  • Good communication around package pickup (including a couple of email reminders)
  • Friendly volunteers
  • Awesome West Van Run water bottle (I got the teal), and nice zippered running pack

By the end of yesterday’s 27k training run (yes, I’m working towards my first marathon, but that’s a future post), I knew that today’s 10k was still on the books, but had no expectations of making it a personal best (PB) – which, for a 10k, is 50 minutes on the nose. Some of my running buddies from Forerunners told me I was crazy for doing a race right after a long run…but I wasn’t going to miss out on this one!

Now, about this morning’s snow. When it’s snowing in the city, you know it’s snowing in the burbs. While huddled under a tent near the start line at Dundarave Park, you could feel that winter had reasserted itself yet again!

The Warm-Up

We most definitely needed to warm up! Because this is a small local run, I got myself close to the start line, and had no problem hearing what was going on. With a glitchy microphone, I’m not sure everyone at the back could hear. But when we got a wave going from front to back, there was lots of enthusiasm. We had to wait a few extra minutes for last-minute check-ins, so I learned that the lady next to me was doing her first West Van Run – the 5k. And since this was her typical running route, she was looking forward to the familiarity. I only wish I had paid attention to her bib number, and I would have looked up her results. I trust she had a great race!

The Route

And we were off! I wasn’t at all familiar with the West Van seawall, but the first couple of kilometres took us right along the water to 18th Ave, and then along Argyle Ave to Ambleside Park. By the 1k mark, the snow was coming down and, well, it hurt! Not especially cold, but something akin to hail, making it tough to see. Then there was the slush – oh, the slush. And the puddles. While I will not hold the weather accountable for my results, I certainly needed to shorten my stride while navigating those few kilometres.

The snow finally slackened, but then I started the mid-run reflections: Did I go out too fast, along with all those 5k runners? Um, probably. Was I starting to feel a bit worn out by the second switchback at the halfway mark? Yes. But was I delighted that I was still under 25 minutes at that time? Absolutely!

The second half of the race involved two more switchbacks. I went in feeling a bit uncertain due to my lack of familiarity with the route. But everything was well marked, the volunteers pointed the way, and I kept encountering all those people who were ahead of me on their return (**mentally cheers & shakes fist at the same time**) – so I didn’t get lost.

An interesting element of this run is that at the last 1k, you can see the finish line – and you know exactly what a kilometre looks like. And it’s scary. And far. And snowy.

But at the final turn, I could see the clock and knew it was going to happen. I was going to make a PB! And I did – 30 seconds faster than my 2013 Eastside 10k best…49 mins 29 secs!

West Van Run

Obligatory finish line pose (peace symbol in the mittens!)

Final Thoughts

Will I run 27k the day before my next race? Probably not. And yet I still managed to best my best!

If I could have had my way, here are the things I would have wished for at the West Van Run:

  • A couple of km markers (preferably at 1km and 5km) – I had my Nike+ app telling me where I was at, but it isn’t always accurate
  • A more detailed route map on the website, maybe with turn-by-turn instructions – especially because I didn’t really know where I was going!
  • And nothing else! Because this was a great race!

I think today’s snow just made the experience even better. Plus, I got to meet a couple of folks from Twitter, and I had an even better race than I expected. The West Van Run is definitely one of the most well-organized of the smaller races I’ve attended. I think I’m going to add this run to my regular rotation and look forward to seeing it grow over the next few years!