Week one.

Tonight concludes my first week of official training for Black Canyon and though I was initially intimidated it was pleasantly perfect.  Training wise, not day to day life wise.  I’m going to try and recount the week without giving too many specifics on my training plan, without making it way to vague. 😜

Day one – Into the gym, which isn’t new for me.  I really love lifting.  I really believe that strength training is an incredibly important aspect of running.

Day two – A variation of hills followed by some easy running.  Lara joined me to try and keep me from running faster.  I’m working on zone training so she was my “pacer” to keep me slow!  It was great, even if I felt silly about how slow I was moving.  I also had my friend Dylans dog with me which was great.

Day three – Bike ride!! I just got a new bike, so anytime I get to ride it makes me really happy.  I was sweeping for the Bell Joyride ride.  It started off with a talk at Tantalus Bike Shop about suspension set up, and then progressed onto the trails.  Our group rode up Panda climb, to Half Nelson and then finished with Pseudotsuga and onwards to the pub for nachos and beer.  It was amazing being surrounded by a group of rad ladies for this fun ride!

Day four – rest rest rest.  Except, it wasn’t very restful because someone broke into my car while I was at school.  They smashed my back side window and rummaged through my things.  I should keep my car cleaner, but in all honesty I didn’t think that garbage and running clothing were that inciting.  They didn’t take anything, but I had to replace the window which isn’t great on a student budget.

Day five – Strength and speed.  Time to get fast. Lara also joined me for this because she’s the best.  It makes speed work fun if you have someone to do it with!  I’m optimistic about getting faster, I think its time.

Day six – A long run, which turned into a weird outing.  I had to drop my car off to get fixed, so I figured I would run from the mechanic, up the dirt road between the golf course and Quest, upwards to the Legacy climb and then back down.  While I was going up the dirt road though some guys kind of followed along with me and gave me the creeps massively.  I turned around and ran out super fast after the 3rd time I saw them and then Lara picked me up and took me to the end of Perth where I continued my run into the Alice Lake area.  I was playing in zones, it was interesting.  After I emerged from the trails I went to Capra to visit Solana, and then continued back to pick up my car.

On this run, I actually ate which is great!  I’ve set my watch to do 30 minute interval beeps so I remember to eat every 30 minutes.  I think it’ll be like Pavlov’s dogs eventually where every time I hear the beep I’ll start immediately wanting food.

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I’m proud of this HR graph because it shows I was sticking close to my target!

Day seven – Hill repeats!! I guess I had never done hill repeats properly before.  These were weirdly fun, but also really tiring.  I’m really excited for how strong I feel like I’m going to get off this coaching.  I went out near the Mamquam river hydro plant.  I enjoyed myself and my day of procrastination leant its hand to a beautiful dusk temperature.

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I think its about time to retire my Altra Lone Peak 2.0 from trail, they are my second Altras ever and I LOVE them. They were with me for my very first 50.😥

Now to repeat!

On a different note I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped me out with my MS fundraiser, my goal was $450 and I raised $655 with your help!

For Black Canyon I am moving my fundraising goals over to support Squamish Search and Rescue which I think as a trail runner and other recreational user is a really important cause.  Help our amazing volunteers have more resources to support us in the need of rescue.  The link is in my fundraiser tab above.🙂

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Howe Sound Crest Trail! The 30km that takes longer than a 50km.

Okay, so I had written out a huge blog post and then my computer decided the internet wasn’t good enough to save anything.  So here we go… round two.

In the spring my beautiful friend Nadine (who makes really rad leggings) introduced me to a girl named Lara who was training for her first 50km!  The rest is really history.  Lara is now one of my best friends and now my favourite person to adventure with.  She has been dubbed my run bestie and is the most supportive, positive, forcer of eating food I have ever met.  When I first told her about my goal to run a 100km, her first response was, “DO YOU NEED A PACER?!?! I’LL BE YOUR PACER!!”  Oh course I said yes!

In the spring Lara suffered a pretty terrible ankle sprain which doused her plan of running the HSCT for her birthday, but it didn’t stop her from rocking it out, recovering strong and running her first 50km.  I was really stoked to be at the finish line for her coming through. It made me heart feel so full.

She also since being recovered had tried to find a partner for the HSCT on more than one occasion, but you know… life happens.  After so many failed attempts, I knew that if I had the opportunity to step in and be the partner she needed then I totally would.  After all, she’s flying to Arizona to run with me!  Even though I was only going to be 10 days out from Volcanic 50, on dead legs I decided to be that company.  I don’t regret it one bit.

So this finds us prepping our required supplies on Tuesday night. Approximately 13hrs worth of nutrition, a first aid kit, water filter, emergency bivys, extra clothing, headlamps, a knife, fire supplies, sunscreen, the works.  Laughing and getting really excited about the day to come the next day.

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Wednesday, 5am my alarm goes off.  I instantly text her.  I can tell through the text that theres so much excitement.  I gather my last things and head out the door to meet her and her wonderful husband at Porteau.  He woke up super early, just to drive us to Cypress so we could be spared the headache of shuttling cars.  How great is that?!  EVAN YOU ROCK!

We get to the parking lot just before 7, and head out on our way.  I am nervous because I remember hating the first climb.  It takes me about an hour to be sufficiently warm, and at that point we are nearly at the first summit.  We hit the summit of St Marks, giggle a whole lot, eat some food, take some selfies, bounce around and then head out on our way.

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Bright eyed and bushy tailed at 7am

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St Marks Summit views

Next up.. Unecessary and all of its damn false summits.. “OH WE’RE AT THE TOP” “OH JK, WE’RE NOT EVEN CLOSE”

 

Up next… the Lions.  Lara had told me that she was scared of the section where you traverse between the two mountains but she definitely handled it like a rock star this time around.

Then after a boulder filled descent, comes my most despised part of this trail.  The relentless, scrambly, steep ascent of James peak, the rope traverse in between the sub summits and then a descent down into a small meadow, which I’ve been lucky to use as a water source twice now.  The water here is sometimes dried up though, so it isn’t a reliable source.  On the way off James peak we found a bunch of garbage, at first it was just a couple pieces scattered around but as we went down the trail it was a collection of gel wrappers, mountain house dried meal bag, used antiseptic wipes, baby food pouch and a bag of grapes.  We were disappointed, but collected it all and packed it out.  COME ON TRAIL USERS, WE’RE NOT YOUR #@*%ING PARENTS PAY A LITTLE MORE ATTENTION TO YOUR KIT.  We all need to do our part to keep our wild spaces wild, and practicing no trace is super important.  I hike out a lot of garbage on my runs, and it makes me pretty sad that some people are clueless enough to let this happen.  We decided that this was likely a mistake rather than intentional, but still… pay more attention to your zippers, store your garbage more securely.

If you read this… and you recognize this garbage… you are welcome, Lara and I hiked it out.  We carried your disgusting antiseptic wipes out, and I got your fermented grape juice all over me while running.  Thanks!

Now, we climb up, up and away over David Peak, the last big climb of the day.  The views from the top are stunning, we sign the register and zip down the fun descent with lots of ropes and technical bits and head over to Magnesia Meadows. Another water stop, a buff dump and a soak the singlet break there and we continue on our way.  The second half of the trail ends up having similar amounts of giggles, more photos, some T Swift and the theme is fun loamy descents, beautiful lakes and stunning mountains.

After Deeks Lake… the descent… Oh jeez, talk about quad burning.  With 4km left to the parking lot I definitely wanted nothing to do with that downhill.  At that point it juts out onto an old logging road and my brain lost interest on being there.  All the stunning views were behind us, and all that was up front was tired legs.  Except, that wasn’t true… in the car we had cider, chips and watermelon waiting for us!! My legs decided to push through just a bit further.  Then, with 800m left we feel the cider calling us more and zip out of the trail head to the car, where a bunch of construction workers cheered us in.  It was really great.  We laid by the car, drank our recovery drinks like good girls, ripped open the bag of chips, tore off our shoes and then cracked our celebration ciders.

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All done!

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Sometimes parking lot “naps” are a must.

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Lara being all cute and stuff with her cider.

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The best tan is a dirt tan

Thats all she wrote!  Afterwards we popped by Porteau cove to put our feet in the water but the tide was too high, so drank cider by the ocean and then headed to the brewpub to eat.

I highly recommend this trail to people who are prepared to do it.  Its not a walk in the park, its an extremely technical trail, with limited water sources and bail out points.  I’ve learnt from experience that the bail outs on this trail are worse than finishing for the most part.  The trail gains nearly 1700m of elevation in the first 15km and then drops nearly 2600m throughout the whole thing  Its important that you take everything you may need to survive for a night or two if you get lost, and always take a buddy… also pack out everything you bring in!!  And, if you see other peoples garbage, do everyone a favour and pick it up.  We can all do our part to keep our parks pristine.

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On another note, today was the first day of coached training for my 100km!  I’m being coached by Jen Segger who is a total badass and I am excited to be working with her.

I’ll report back at the end of the week to see how week 1 of directed training goes.

xoxo

-Kenz

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Volcanic 50 race report.

In May at the finish line for the Lost Lake 25km in Bellingham, I was chatting with a loverly lady named Lena.  She asked what my next race was, I replied with having nothing lined up.  I returned the question and she mentioned about being registered for Volcanic 50 and proceeded to explain it.  I had known about the race, but wrote it off as being a 50 miler and didn’t feel ready to run a 50 miler at that point but when she told me it was a 50k, I just had to check it out for myself.  A couple days later I was registered.  How can one turn down the opportunity to run supported around this remote and stunning (active) volcano?!  I also took this race as an opportunity to raise money for multiple sclerosis, if you would like to donate the link is here, it will be open for donations for about another week.  At the time of writing this I am happy to say I have raised $560 towards research.🙂

This race was absolutely surreal, and I am really happy that I was able to toe the start line.  The following ramblings are somewhat of a race report, written in a half asleep post race glow, which I am still in two days later.  Thats how good it was.

So here we go,

September 2nd rolled around, I got to leave class at noon, proceeded to pick up some last minute gear in the city at Distance Runwear and headed south.  All was fine until Lynwood and then it was stop and go traffic all the way to JBLM which is south of Tacoma.  This is nearly 60 miles.  On the drive down it gave me a lot of time to jam out to the radio, and reflect on how poorly I was feeling due to catching a bit of a sickness earlier in the week.  My throat was sore and my hamstrings were achey.  I was worried about how race day would go.  I left Vancouver at 12pm, pulled into the parking lot at Marble Canyon Sno Park just after 9pm.  From there I scrambled to get my pack a bit more organized and pulled out my awesome sleeping platform, made by my friend Stephane.  Had a beautiful sleep in my car with my alarm set for bright and early for package pick up.  In all the fuss I managed to forget to eat dinner.

Race day, Sept 3rd 2016

My alarm goes off at 5:30, I do a check in to see if I’m still feeling sick.  Everything surprisingly seems okay.  I scramble to awkwardly put on warmer clothing in my car… I drive a kia rio5, its tiny.  Then collect my pack to get my mandatory gear checked (light jacket, emergency blanket, whistler, 40oz water capacity) and pick up my bib number (222, how easy is that), grab a couple stickers and head back down to finish organizing my gels and needs for the day and get dressed in my running gear.  For some reason I thought the start time was 7:30, so managed to also not eat breakfast. 0/2 at this point.  Shoved a honey stinger waffle in my mouth at the start line, not ideal to start my day of fuelling but it seemed to be fine.  It was overcast and slightly rainy, my perfect race conditions.

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My humble abode

The countdown begins, and the race starts.  It starts with an incredibly steady climb, plateaus out into a boulder field and then drops towards the first aid station.  Somewhere in this zone I bumped into Lena who recognized me from Lost Lake, we would yoyo for a good chunk of the race and it was amazing to have a familiar face show up at the perfect times.  In the boulder field I met Dikesh, another Canadian.  Our paths had crossed at FatDog when he showed up to my aid station with a big bag of chips clothes pinned to his running vest, it had made my night.  We chatted for a bit, ran together for a couple km and then yoyo’d for a good portion of the race.  After aid station 1, the trail drops significantly into aid station 2.  I LOVE DOWNHILL, so I was a smiley, prancy lady the entire way down through the most beautiful forrest with massive old growth trees.  The time frame between station 2 and 3 though felt like it was forever.  I didn’t have the distances written down and in my head I had decided that they were all 10km apart.  That was not true for the 3rd one, but when I got there I was pleasantly surprised.  The entire aid station crew was dressed like astronauts, dancing and  laughing in the middle of nowhere, it was amazing.  From there on, another massive climb up steep, rocky, loose footed slopes, some flat and undulating terrain weaving towards the 4th and final aid station.  A mere 4 miles, but the climb at the start made it feel a bit longer.  I happily made the cut off time with an hour to spare.. ecstatically knowing I was going to finish I bounced out of there.  The last 12kms were a mixed bag.  A beautiful mixed bag.  Steep, sandy sections, beautiful loam blanketed forest, another massive boulder field and a sure footed descent to the finish line.  At the finish you are handed a pint glass, and directed towards the beer… which even at my scenic pace was still flowing!! There was also a bbq and a huge spread of food.

 

As for my personal overall feelings during this race, more for an account for myself for the future…

I’ll start with the bad because there wasn’t really much of it.
1. About 10km my right adductors (inside leg) started to feel off, I’m thinking I must have done something to it in the boulder field, being a bit too excited. It nagged the entire way, but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t deal with.
2. I ripped off a callous, and got two insanely bad blisters on the inside of my heels. Didn’t notice the left foot until 42km and then the right foot until about 48km. They both popped, it was incredibly painful but then since they weren’t there anymore they were fine!! A little bit of tape fixed the ripped off callous.

Now for the rest.
Other than the two issues mentioned above, everything felt great. Head to toe. My low back and left foot tend to give me issues after about 30km but yesterday they were all great. Muscles felt solid, everything was grand!  I was wearing Altra Olympus’ for the first time on a long run and I think my feet enjoyed the stack height.  I had absolutely no gut problems, and I was able to stay sufficiently hydrated. I did slack on nutrition a bit, but solely because I couldn’t get myself to chew. I tried my best to take in as much as I could, and while it likely wasn’t enough… it was enough to sustain my pace and needs at that time. A good learning experience and I think I’ll have to switch to liquid calories in future, or at least have them for an option.

I was still running flats and downhills of this race all the way to the end. I tend to power hike a lot, but this race I felt strong.

Emotionally, I didn’t hit any big lows. I tend to get into a low spot where I question what I am doing, and doubt my ability to finish. I didn’t get there in this race. Anytime I felt myself slipping down that road I reminded myself that I was running around a friggen volcano and that it was amazing! What an amazing opportunity. I also thought of my fundraising efforts, and running for those who can’t run which gave me even more power. All and all I was 99.9% smiley and happy the entire day.

I highly recommend this course to anyone (although the pre req is a prior 50 because its remote and tough) and if it fits into my schedule for next year I will definitely be back, and if not next year then in years to follow.

There is something really special to be said about the trail running community, it is a beautiful, supportive group of people from all walks of life. I met some amazing people at this race.  I would like to throw out a big thank you to Lena for telling me about this race, Dikesh for the good chats at the start, Grace for yoyo’ing with me for a good chunk of the race and then realizing we had Lara in common, the man I believe named Kevin for your distance PR and putting up with my chatting with you every time we passed, all of the amazing volunteers, the race directors and all of the support from friends and family I am honoured to receive.

Heres a dump of photos.  Details about them are viewable by hovering.🙂

I have 2 more races this year, leading up to my potentially over ambitious goal race in Feb, Black Canyon 100… but hey… go big or go home right?

Thanks again, and please enjoy all these photos! I didn’t take a ton.. and the summit didn’t come out to say hi but the clouds were very welcome. 

 

Notes to myself : Bring a camp chair… you’ll want to sit down at the finish and the ground is too far away :p, start training with liquid calories just incase you can’t chew anymore, also start training with eating more solid foods while running, moleskin these problem blister spots at the start, or right as they begin to develop.

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Well, this past semester at school has been brutal to say the least.  I haven’t had much time for a lot of anything.  A few things happened between now and may… mostly signing up for a couple more races, doing an all womens enduro bike race, and volunteering at a handful of races.  Oh, also a spur of the moment unsupported 50km.  I’ll try and compile a better post of photos and write ups though.

For now, next up volunteering at Squamish 50 and then racing Volcanic 50 on sept 3rd.

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A homage to where it all began.

May 31st, 2014 I stepped up to the line of my first trail race ever, Coast Mountain Trail Series – Survival of the Fittest.  Super excited, super nervous and very curious I set off at the count of go and from that point never looked back.  I became super enthralled in trail running and totally in love.  I finished that day exhausted, hardly able to walk in a total of 1:54:45, somewhere closer to the middle of the back.  It was a very sunny day as well!

That brings me to today… May 28th, 2016, nearly two years after the fact.  It was wet this morning… oh so wet, it was initially hard to get motivated in the morning until I remembered “Kenzie, you LOVE running in the rain.”  and then jumped out of bed, drove to the start line of what was, all that time ago my first ever race.  The run that brought me to where I am now.  I was still excited, still nervous but less curious.  I think I was nervous because for the first time at a race I actually set a time goal.  Normally I just focus on finishing happy and strong, but this race I decided that I needed to beat my time from my first race ever.  Out of the start gates I had pretty unhappy calves… but once I passed the 5km mark and the trail became less constant uphill and more fun technical, muddy goodness they got happier.  I had an amazing time flying over roots and rocks, and splashing in mud puddles.  I truly do love running in the rain.  I felt all and all pretty good on trail today other than being a tad hungry due to a breakfast that was kind of lacking.  I’m still figuring out my nutrition on trails, its been a rollercoaster.  I came through the finish line at 1:48:06, got a massage and then headed home for a shower, then pizza and beer. All and all it was a great day.

I didn’t feel like 6 minutes PR was much, but I was gently reminded that 6 minutes over 13km is actually pretty decent!  I’ll take it! Besides, not only did I get 6 minutes faster, my legs feel awesome and I can run 50km happily now… So I’d say thats a big improvement from that first race back in May 2014.

I’ve slowly been learning how to create a balance in my life that focuses on the things I love but also my responsibilities… like being a good student.  This is making me super optimistic for things to come!  I have some massive goals on my horizon, but I don’t want to say anything until I’ve actually registered.  For now, my summer looks like lots of fun training runs, an enduro bike race in July, volunteering at FatDog and Squamish 50 in August.. then running around Mt Saint Helens in September!

So excited!!

L: Amber and I at our first race, May 2014. R: Me at the finish line, stoked but exhausted.

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Spring and I after finishing May 2016 rocking our rad Pokosoha tights.  Muddy and happy.

I like when my Strava looks like this… PRs all around, mostly!

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Exhaustion.

Between being mentally stimulated all day with school or studying, 3 days a week in the gym and a handful of days out on the trails my body is exhausted.  My brain is exhausted.  Just everything is exhausted.  I’ve been toying around with theories about why I feel so tired and I think it is a combination of being constantly stimulated through school and studying all the amazing things I get to learn, but also ramping up training after a fairly sleepy winter season of resort days and ski touring as well as fighting off some unknown illness as I have fairly swollen lymph nodes right now which I will be getting tests done for soon if they don’t go away.  The heat lately doesn’t help for energy levels much while out on trails either.  That is something I will need to be working at!

I personally believe that rest is one of the most important things you can do for your body in life and in training.  If you are tired, if your muscles are sore, if you hurt anywhere its important to let your body recover properly.  So sleep!! Chill out! Eat some good food!  I’ve had to shorten my runs this past week but am still getting out with decreased hours on trail and less intensity.  I had been one of those people who went insane with training and it landed me with a severe injury in my neck because I wasn’t listening to my body and it needing some time to chill.  The result from that was me being unable to continue with the sport that I loved so dearly, and continues up until this day.  I honestly don’t know if I will ever feel healthy and pain free on a bike again.  The moral of that quick story?  Please rest when you need to rest.  I know it is beneficial to be training and then running on fatigued legs but when you are so exhausted you can barely stay awake, your heart rate is out of control or you just aren’t recovering as fast… you need to rest.

Because of the energy depletion, this week has been a struggle of doubts about upcoming races because of how terrible my body has felt.  I get into my head on trail when I’m tired like this and think “should I even sign up for that distance? If 10km right now feels terrible how will 100km in February feel…”  I know its a terrible mind set to be in so I then talk myself down from that ledge knowing  it will pass, it always does and I always try to remind myself that todays feelings does not depict tomorrow.  I am strong and capable, I am just in a rut.

In other news, I’ve been working with a coach to make my running gait more efficient.  Right now I feel like a colt learning to walk or like a prancy pony as my friend Lara said during our run this evening.  It feels super weird, but it is lightening my foot strikes, encouraging more of a forefoot landing and definitely seems more efficient.  My pace has slowed a bit but I think once I don’t have to focus on the exact movement and maintaining it I will be able to pick up the speed.  I was already running with a forefoot strike but it fell out the window on descents and when I got tired.  Our run tonight was a majority of downhill and I stayed in the strong efficient gait while running down through technical sections and noticed less hard slapping of my foot to the ground and felt really strong and balanced.  I will say though, it is scary committing your weight forwards on the downhills, but it is so much better for energy consumption.

Oh… and highlight from my run tonight?  WE SAW AN OWL!   He was pretty darn cute.

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Lost Lake 25km

A friend gently pushed me towards this race and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.  He was to race the 50km distance and I figured why not join in and run the 25km distance.  Another friend decided to join me for the 25km distance as well so that was awesome!  The race consists of both a 50km, and a 25km run on the beautiful trails of Larrabee State Park in Bellingham, Washington.  I had planned on taking more photos to showcase the beauty of the area but was having too much fun running to stop and take photos.  So… I only managed to snap one on the actual course.

Sneaky ocean view on the back half.

The 25km started at 10am, but we met at 9:30 to catch a shuttle bus to the start line which was also the half way point for the 50km racers.  The course started with a pretty ruthless uphill climb.  My poor cold muscles were not too happy for the first 3.5ish kilometres which daunted us with a good 1400ft or so of climbing.  As I was going up here, my friend was running down in 1st place for the 50km race with a pretty hefty gap and looking really strong.  After that it mellowed out and was perfect, undulating and the right amount of technical.  Then it drops into a very very runable section, which is where I struggle the most.  I have a pretty slow pace on flat ground, I really need to work at this but I’m sure it made others pretty stoked!  Eventually this ended up at the first aid station, about 7 miles (12km) in.  I stocked up on some more gels, swigged some coke and then headed out on my way.  The next little bit traverses beside a lake and then drops down for quite a while and back onto a very runable pathy section again.  My 50km friend passed me again at this point still in first and still looking incredibly strong.  After this flat section though the course sends you so close to the finish line but nope… you’re going up this massive hill and then going to run down a road to the finish!  This destroyed my legs and made the last 4km of downhill a bit of a struggle.  I popped through the finish line, feeling strong at about 3:34.  While the time wasn’t the fastest, my body felt really good and I managed to actually ingest food during the race (my biggest struggle while running is being able to keep down the calories I take in).  I am pretty happy with this since its pretty much off the couch!  I will definitely be working on my speed a bit though for longer races to not be cut off stressed.

Afterwards, we partook in a beer at the finish line and I met a girl who put me in the direction of the Volcanic 50… which I may or may not be registered for now.  After hanging out around the finish line we headed towards Aslan Brewing Co in Bellingham to be rewarded with more beer (my favourite being the ginger beer, its so refreshing and delicious)… and grilled cheese… and waffle fries.

All and all it was a really great day.  The course is beautiful, the people are amazing and I can’t wait to go back and do it again next May!  I think this one will be a repeat yearly.  If you’re interested at all I really suggest to check it out next year.  Here is the website!

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Finishers get a little coin.

Also, I ran in my new UD Ultra Vesta (last years) in a tank top and had ZERO chaffing.  This vest is actually the best.  Here is a link to this years… I think its worth it.  I’m also in no way affiliated with UD, I just really love this vest and want to share the love.

Next up… Survival of the Fittest from Coast Mountain Trail Series on May 28th.

 

 

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