Hello winter!

My 7th semester at school finished up on the 16th of December, and now on January 2nd I go back to finish my final one!

This semester is going to be an exciting one.  I get to review and incorporate all the things I have learnt in the past 2.5 years, and do a case study of my choice to research an ailment and the response to massage as treatment.  I haven’t picked one specifically but am leaning towards neurological pathologies.

Alongside the learning I’ll be lining up for my first 100k and then finishing off the semester with Gorge Waterfalls 50k.  With a lot of skiing in between.

I have also been given the opportunity to create a talk for runners about avalanche safety.  I am really excited to present this.  Its going to be a short talk and social night aimed towards creating awareness in the mountain running community about snow safety.  Some of the topics I’ll be running over are the different types of avalanches including size classifications, terrain choices for travel, wind loading and cornice formation and how to utilize resources that are out there such as trip planners and avalanche forecasts.  Also a list of organizations that are available to provide entry level courses into avalanche training.  This makes me really happy as I love sharing the knowledge I have acquired through formal training and backcountry experience with everyone.

Alongside this talk in January, I am taking out a free avalanche awareness tour every Thursday at 12:30 on Blackcomb Mountain.  If you happen to be skiing, these tours are run daily (my days are Thursdays) from the Avalanche Awareness hut at the top of Solar Coaster.

Also, a quick little recap of the past few weeks and my injury.  It has been responding well to skiing and runs up to an hour.  I have had very minimal discomfort and my coach and physio are ramping up my volume.  We have had an insane amount of snow in Squamish lately though so have been more on the ski side of things than actually running, but thats okay with me!  I am feeling mentally tough, and 80% good physically for Black Canyon.  At this point I will be lining up for sure, and I will push as far as I can without severe pain.  Fingers crossed that its all the way to the finish line!!

 

PS… I signed up for the Squamish 50/50… 50 miles on Saturday, 50km on Sunday.

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I’m still alive!

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, but I might as well have with how busy I am.

I am heading into finals over the next week, and then will throw out a better post.

My injury is settling itself, and I am starting to be able to go out on runs and ski tour which is great!  Just over 2 months until my first 100k!  EEEEEEEEK!

Some exciting things are in the mix as well with an opportunity to bring avalanche awareness to runners.  Stay tuned for more details 😀

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On anxiety and running.

Hi, my name is Kenzie and I have pretty severe anxiety, I also like to run long distances.

I am also injured.

In the past few weeks I have had some pretty bad luck.  A car break in for the second time in a month, a lot of my gear stollen, school stressors, my car breaking down entirely… and an unresolved knee injury that is keeping me from being active.

Through all of this, it has made me realize how much a part of my anxiety management running has become.

I suffer from high functioning anxiety.  I can look very calm and collected on the outside, but for a few select people they know how bad I can get.  These people are pretty much just my parents.  I don’t really let a lot of people into this part of my world.  Growing up even the smallest of things could trigger these attacks, but as I have grown older I am slowly learning how to manage them myself.  Over the past few years (notably since I started running) I have noticed my stress and anxiety levels decreasing, to a point where almost nothing sets me off, aside from awkward social situations and the occasional scary car maneuver if I am a passenger.  I don’t use medications to manage my symptoms or attacks, I have managed to decrease them almost fully through long beautiful hours spent on the trails.

These past few weeks with everything noted above have been an incredible learning experience and eye opener for me.  I have been forced to rest, and deal with these problems head on instead of getting to run my worries away.  It has made me appreciate running and everything it has given me so much more and I will always cherish all of my days where I am able to be active and outside to the fullest.  The worst days out there will become the best days because even though I might be having a hard time, I will be able bodied and enjoying nature.

I have to say, though, even with my inability to melt the stress away in the forrest, I have handled these set backs fairly well.  No tears, no hiding away, no total melt downs.  I have accepted that things happen, there is nothing that I can do to change them and that there is always tomorrow, and tomorrow is a new day.

If anyone is struggling with anxiety, or depression please feel free to reach out to me.  I am here to lend an ear, a shoulder, distract you or give you as many hugs as you could ever need.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
― George Bernard Shaw

 

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Carkeek 12hr race report

I don’t even know where to start with this race.  Its such a great time.  Now, most people might be scared off from running a 1.93mile loop for 12 hours, but you shouldn’t knock it until you try it!  Now I am the girl that refuses to run races that are loops… but thats only if those loops are big loops.  I’m okay with the little ones.

Vancouver -> Seattle.  I drove down to Seattle after class on Friday.  Traffic was actually really great for once and I arrived at my friend Stuarts by a reasonable 8pm.  His roommates and him fed me a delicious dinner of soup and slaw, I got my things in order and headed off to sleep.  It was a pretty choppy sleep, but that is to be expected for me right before a race.

Race day!  

Stuarts house -> Carkeek park.  Luckily he lives 2.5 miles away from Carkeek!  It made it a nice and short drive there at 5:20am.  I followed him there, checked in, got changed into my costume and anxiously awaited the go command.  There I trod, off into the trails in the dark, as a train goes past, in a long blonde wig, fishnets and a jean jacket.  Half way through that lap I am united with Gretchen in her bacon/angel/bunny costume (what?) and enjoy a loop with her and Kim.  Stuart is waiting at the start and gives me a big high five before we start off on lap 2.  I stayed with the girls through this lap as well, it was a great way to start the day in the dark on the new to me trails.

After a couple laps the sun began to rise, and the rain began to pick up.  I was still running in the full costume, waiting until Glen was out to take photos.  Eventually he was out and snapped some photos and I then removed most of the costume after about 20km.  I have to say fishnets and jean jackets aren’t the most comfortable thing to be running in.  I’m by myself at this point, listening to podcasts and happily plodding around in the forest.  The loops aren’t bad they are hilly and technical enough to be engaging.

Robin Sparkles – Photo by Glen Tachiyama


Around 27km my knee started to hurt.  I’ve been having tracking issues with my knee cap and while its getting better its still hurting after a bit of distance.  So from then on I was reduced to a walk.  This was hard for me.  I had an insane amount of energy in the tank, everything else on me felt really great but this tiny 2 inch section below my knee was excruciating if I tried to run.  So I trudged on, staying out of pain as per my coach and physiotherapists request.  I took every slow step and agonizing mental pain as training for longer distances where its a such a mental battle.  At some point Stuart and his girlfriend came and dropped me off medical tape, doughnuts and a large peppermint tea.  I definitely did a loop while drinking the tea, it was glorious.

Soggy wet on loop… who knows!


After 15 loops of the 1.93 mile course, I was almost ready to call it quits because of my knee, the rolling of the course made it really hard to continue due to pain.  I was happy with that distance I had gone, but then decided to hop onto the short one with a bit of gentle coaxing from Matt.  I believe it was .58 miles.  I’m happy I did this because it put me over my goal of completing my 4th 50km.  The short course pretty much just went straight up and down, but since it kind of had stairs on the descent it was easy for me to descend without pain… because of this I ended up doing 7 little loops, and 15 big loops.

This race is special.  Matt and Kerri are amazing, and their races are fundraisers for the trails.  They have a low key atmosphere, potluck aid stations (the best) and the laps are kept of by stickers on bright colourful poster board.  They’ll encourage you to keep going, but be understanding when you want to stop.
The bibs are decorated by hand, the raffle prizes are funny (I won a copy of beetlejuice) and the metal is a ring pop on a piece of plastic string.  It is because of these special little things that I will keep on coming back to this event and any other that I can in the future.  I am excited to see what I can do next year with a healthy body.

Hand decorated bibs and ring pop medal!


Carkeek 12hr definitely gets a 10/10 in my books.

A total of 53.53km and an elevation gain of 2222m.  I am extremely proud of myself for getting this far with how I’ve been feeling the weeks leading up with all of the knee issues.   I am realizing now I pushed myself a bit over the edge for completing that distance, but I am optimistic in my recovery process because I have a great team standing behind me.  The way the rest of my body and mind felt during this run makes me less worried about my 100k other than the knee things.  However, I will be off running until the 16th of November, but it gives me time to decrease inflammation and start incorporating more focused strength training to help the muscle imbalances in my right leg.

Next up…

Black Canyon as I had to drop Deception Pass due to my knee. Fingers are crossed I can rehab it in time!!!

 

 

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Week 5/6

Late to the game as we’re half way through week 7, but week 5 was business as usual and week 6 was a taper into my October race Carkeek 12hr.  It was glorious.  Watch this space for my race report!  I’ll be putting it up very very soon, I just need to get some more photos in order!

 

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Week three/four

These two weeks posed some challenges for me, but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and I believe that with ultra running our ability to let go and realize we need rest makes us stronger in the long run because it is such a mental sport.

Week three

Monday – Rest as usual.

Tuesday – Strength, my last day at crossfit.  Bitter sweet, I’ll miss walking into the box and seeing all my lovely 6am people!  I’ll be back one day, but I just don’t need the membership with coaching.

Wednesday – My long run this week consisted of sun showers, rainbows, three adorable dogs and a stunning fall day.  Zone training makes me laugh sometimes.  Especially when I accidentally end up at a hill but am supposed to be in zone 2.  I just picture what people would think if they saw me barely shuffling up the hill, which totally doesn’t matter because I don’t care what people think… but it must be funny!  I think I’m already seeing value in this style of training though.  I’m happily running up hills for up to 15 minutes at a time, and my flat pace is getting consistently faster.  This day I was out for 4:40, went just over a half marathon distance.  So, a fairly slow pace but when you are playing in different zones for specific amounts of time it takes a bit longer to go as far!  I started having some issues with my right knee, but am seeing a physiotherapist to get it sorted.  I believe the tracking is just off for my patella… it happened when I was 20, but hasn’t been bugging me for 7 years.  Of course as soon as I start getting serious into my training, even though I haven’t increased volume and have actually decreased intensity it has started to bug me.  Damn you knees.

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My puppy crew.

Thursday – Hill repeats into tempo… I think I made it to 4 reps before my knee started to kill and then tried for the tempo… it didn’t work, I ended up limping back to my car and calling it quits.  I also went to physio at Squamish Integrated where Will did all sorts of fun assessments on my legs.  We came to the conclusion that my posterior chain is tight tight tight, and while my legs are both strong, my right side where the pain is happening is weaker.  He gave me some exercises and pretty much said he wasn’t too worried.  We caught it early enough.

Zen looking majestic in the fall colours.

Friday – Strength day, at a new gym.  I’m now going to Mountain Fitness because they have a wicked student deal.  Its a bizarre world outside of a crossfit box, this was so uncomfortable for me.  I did my training at 5:30am, headed to school for the morning and then was met by Dave and Dianna to head south to Yachats for the Rainshadow Running Oregon Coast 50/30km trail races.  It was a long drive, but the company was great.  We picked up Sawna in Portland and checked into the hotel in Yachats around midnight.

Saturday – I was supposed to do a mellow run to shake out the legs and see how my knee felt.  I ended up doing timing all day, and then was asked to sweep part of the 30k course on the Sunday so skipped my run.  It was really awesome to be at a finish line and see all the amazing runners come through.  It just made me love this community so much more.  It was also Coltons birthday so we had a little party for him which was great.

Looking North at the Coast

What a scenic finish line.  Oregon Coast 50/30k

Sunday – Swept a 11km loop of the Oregon Coast 30k course.  It was AMAZING, such a beautiful trail.  Really runable, super green and I had pretty great company.  My knee didn’t hurt at all and I felt like I was flying in some sections which makes me excited to see how far I’ll come.

Sweeping views.

People and material sweeping.  Thankful for not a ton of signage.

Week four

Monday – Drive home from Yachats, its long.  Luckily no programming so its my rest day.

Our welcome home sunset.

Tuesday – Strength of course.  I skipped it in the morning, and I knew in the back of my head that I would have little to no motivation to get it done in the evening after massaging all day.  I know for the future so always force myself out of bed.  Anyways, I went and was slightly more comfortable at the gym.  I’ll learn to love it slowly but surely.

Wednesday – I went swimming.  I am not good at swimming.  Good thing I am a runner and not a swimmer or triathlete.

Thurdsay – 2hr run.  I went on the trails behind my house in Valleycliff.  I had requests by some people to take photos of the barbies nailed to trees up there.  Lets just say its not the best place to be starting off your run when you’re supposed to be in zone 2.  I also lucked out and managed to go out in a rainless patch during the day.  My knee didn’t hurt, I had two dogs with me and the trails were stunning.  I was stoked.

New hat matches my vest! By accident.

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One of the barbies.

Beautiful fall colours.

Friday – Strength.  I found the oly platform and I think it will be my little zone of solace.  I am excited because no one seems to use it.  Free weights? What are those?!  I’m not complaining though, more fun lifts for me!  I also totally rocked a practical exam today.

My happy corner.

Saturday – Rainy rest day.

Sunday – Bike ride!

Thats month one done!! Just over 4 months to go! Eeeek!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been asked why I run a couple times.  I think I’ll write a post in the next few days dedicated to that.

I am fundraising for Squamish SAR, the link to donate is under the fundraising tab.

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Week two.

I’m not going to write much about this past week of training, because it was a small one.  I ended up heading to Bend, Oregon to be a part of my beautiful friend Ashlai’s wedding.  What a beautiful bride.

On my way down to Oregon I stopped in Seattle where my new friend Stuart (met at Volcanic 50) took me in for the evening… Thanks again!! The next morning I woke up bright and early and headed south.  I had suggestions from a few friends to run the Eagle Creek trail out to Tunnel Falls.  I was only slated to run for 2hrs, and at nearly 19km round trip that would put me over the 2 hours of programmed running.  I absolutely love waterfalls though, so I was “bad” and went over by about 45 minutes.  This trail is stunning, it is really unable with so many beautiful waterfalls along the way.  Makes it hard to go fast because you’re always taking photos!  It was a perfect way to break up this long drive!

The next morning in Bend, I ran from my new friend Monica’s place and did some speed work.  In typical trail running fashion I migrated from the road onto a gravel trail I found as soon as it came across my path.  Later that evening was the bachelorette party.  I won’t dive into details about that, but lets just say I won’t be drinking for a while.

Day 3 in Bend, hung over, I took Ashlai’s dog out for a recovery wander in zone 1, tied up some lose ends and went for a couple coffee outings.

Day 4… wedding day!! Not much to say other than these two are the best and I love them to pieces.  I didn’t drink and just enjoyed all the shenanigans while level headed.

Day 5 = time to drive back to Canada.  I did the push from Bend to Vancouver, BC in one push with a stop in Bellingham to do another recovery zone 1 wander.  Big thanks to Riccardo who once again took this weary wanderer in for the evening, and a shout out to his new lady Kat who is super lovely… it was nice to meet you. 🙂

Day 6… school, studying, life things and rest.

I’ve decided I will start my weeks on the normal day of Mondays from now on instead of randomly midweek.

And, thats it thats all.

Next week will be a bit more eventful because training ramps up, and then I will be heading to Yachats for the Rainshadow Running Oregon Coast 50&30k races.  If you are there, on Saturday I will be at the finish line doing timing, and Sunday I will be selling merch.  Come say hi!!

Once again I’d like to mention that I am fundraising for Squamish Search and Rescue.  Please donate a couple bucks if you have the means too. 😀

 

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