After completing the Sun Mountain 50k, I slowed things down a little, but I did keep up some trail running. I entered a couple races to add to the Squamish 23km race in August including Seek the Peak in June and the Hallows Eve trail race in October.
Seek the Peak was a 14km race up Grouse Mountain via the Grouse Grind with roughly 1400m elevation gain. I hadn’t been up to the grind for a couple years but thought it would be an exciting way to test my fitness. It was tough and hot, but I finished it confidently. Climbing the grind gave me some ideas for the future as an activity to use for training for bigger races. I do however prefer the BCMC as it is less busy and more of a trail than a set of stairs.
Another race I took part in was the Squamish 23km that I signed up to with my friend last year. I had no plan to race it fast, I just wanted to have fun with it and enjoy the day. It was an excellent opportunity to try out the trails in Squamish and see what I may get myself into if I did the 50km race. We both finished together, but I was undoubtedly hurting by the end. It is quite a technical trail with so many variations to the ground, and you also have to travel over mountain biking terrain, which is a combination of wooden and rocky bridges constructed by the local mountain bike community.
As I was approaching the Squamish race, my mind was a little clearer, and I was beginning to think about some new challenges in 2018 and what direction I was going to go in. I was somewhat sure I wanted to look for another 50k race that would be around January or February to avoid the heat but also something far enough away to give me some time to train correctly. There were a couple of options, but I wasn’t able to sign up for anything in the summer as registrations weren’t open. I began thinking ahead and decided to begin some low volume but regular running again.
I started off pretty slow, and I wanted to be far more consistent with my running each week with at least 3-4 easy runs that included a long run. I felt my body wasn’t up for a big volume straight away and started with shorter distances that gradually increased each week with a rest week every fourth.
I decided it was time to purchase a better training plan that I would stick to rather than making things up with free marathon plans that didn’t give you the right direction for ultras. I purchased the ‘My First Training Plan’ from Ridgeline Athletics that focused on the 50km distance. Now I just needed a race to target!
As I was searching further for races during early spring, I found that most races were quite a distance away. I wanted something a bit closer to home. Not really thinking about it I entered the ballot for Orcas Island 50km in February that I managed to get picked for. It was another Rainshadow Running event and boasted a 2500m running course, 1000m more than Sun Mountain! The past race years had a mixture of rain and snow that I’m certainly more used to training in while living in Vancouver. It indeed wouldn’t be easy, and I knew that I would have to train correctly for this one and follow my training plan exactly.
The Hallows eve trail race that I took part in at the end of October turned out to be an enjoyable event with a lot of people dressed up in costumes for Halloween. I wish I had now! It was a half marathon distance and travelled around the trails in Lynn Valley. I pushed myself a little more with this race, and it proved to be a lot of fun.
I got myself signed up to two races during November for next year including the Squamish 50km in August and the Diez Vistas 50km in April. They are both local races that are very well known and organised by Ridgeline Events. I felt they would be the right races to follow on to after the Orcas Island race, but the first two races of the year would be great ways to prepare for the Squamish race that I know will be tough.
It is now December, and so far my training has been going quite well. There have been a couple of weeks where I slowed things down when it felt like I was overtraining a touch, but I have been peaking at around 70-80km per week which is far more than I have done before. The training plan is organised in a way that it doesn’t overload you too much and each week I’ve felt stronger. I’ve also managed to get far more elevation training included around Vancouver combing the BCMC into my long runs and choosing routes with more up and down!
I purchased some winter bits including a pair of snow trail running shoes and some yak tracks. The yak tracks proved quite useful on one hike up the BCMC with recent snowfall. I intend to do more BCMC hikes in the next few months and will certainly need these bits to do it safely as the trail is beginning to build up with snow and ice.
I have been noticing a couple of leg issues with my left leg over the past couple weeks around the hip. My first thought is that it may be my IT band causing these problems so I’ve done some stretching and releasing with my roller and lacrosse ball. I’m playing the rest of my Christmas holiday safe with just a couple easy runs and I have a physio and massage appointment booked for my return to assess the issue and see what kind of treatment is needed. My fingers are crossed only a little bit of work is required to get me functioning correctly and not need to change any plans for the upcoming race!
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was quite shaken after the Sun Mountain race, and it made me realise what it took to run ultras. I think I took it for granted and presumed that having run a marathon I can run a little further to finish a 50k but it’s not as easy as that with the combined elevation gain and course cutoffs that you need to time correctly.
The time over the summer has given me an opportunity to reflect, and I have discovered some better ways to train myself with a training plan that suits my level and an awareness of locations that offer some unique opportunities to build my fitness.
My approach to training has certainly changed and I think now my direction is stronger knowing what I can do and how to tackle more challenges as I set my sights on 2018.