Friday, April 21, 2017

Spring in my step

I had an enchanting Easter weekend. Good Friday was spent hiking with Tanker on the Bruce Trail through Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, testing my legs out a bit to see how they'd react to some elevation change.

With a stop by a lovely waterfall

Thankfully, everything seemed to hold up fairly well, so on Saturday we hit the market and scarfed down some brunch before heading to Puslinch Tract for the afternoon.

For a bit more elevation change

It was the first real hot, sunny day of the year, and I took things super easy. I walked every hill, stopped whenever I saw something interesting, and just enjoyed being back out on the trail.

Along with the spring wildflowers just starting to appear

While I felt ok during the run, things got rather tight and sore afterward - I actually resolved on Saturday evening that I wouldn't run the next day. I didn't want to push things too hard with Pick Your Poison and Sulphur Springs mere weeks (or less) away.

This seemed tough to top for a run finish anyway.

Sunday morning, though, I felt 100% fine getting out of bed - I guess a short evening walk, a hot shower, running cold water over my left foot & ankle, rubbing down my sore muscles with arnica creme and sleeping in compression socks did the trick!

Or maybe just getting a decent amount of sleep for once..

It was a windy day with some rain showers blowing through, but another warm one. I decided it was time to knock the mud from my adventure through Hockley Valley off my older trail shoes, so popped them on and headed out to Crawford Lake Conservation Area to try a loop of the Iroquoia Trail Test course.

On some ever-so-slightly more technical trail.

It was there that I discovered my caution and rehab work had paid off - I was able to power-hike hills again without pain!

Ok, maybe not all the hills..

I also found I was more comfortable running on the very rocky sections than I had been last summer when I actually did the race, so perhaps all my time spent on technical trails in the past year has finally made a dent in my natural clumsiness. I didn't even mind the bit of rain that fell as I hiked my way out of Nassagaweya Canyon, and I had a lovely walk on the boardwalk around the meromitic lake with Tanker after I finished.

I've remained cautious, sticking to just a lunch run on Monday and Tuesday, but other than my inviolable Fridays off I've been able to run every day since the 6 day break I took near the beginning of the month. I'm incredibly grateful: for the gorgeous weather we've had, the beautiful & challenging roots and rocks of the trails I've traversed, the flowers and buds on the trees that speak of renewed life, and the health to enjoy it all.

It would be such a shame to miss out on this.

With almost a thousand kilometers in the bank year to date (996.7 as of yesterday, to be precise) and almost 60k in just the last 6 days, I know that I have the training in the bank to carry me through, but I'd like to make one last push if I can. So, the plan for this week is to keep building, culminating in the Pick Your Poison 50k next Saturday before a few days off to absorb the work and some light running just to keep things moving before Sulphur.

If anything feels off, I'll shut it right down in favour of rest and recovery, but I'd like to get one last big week in. I'll be taking things slow and easy, though, and you bet your arse I'll be stopping to smell the flowers along the way!

Or at least take a photo.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Happily hopping

Last week was a pretty dark time. Acknowledging multiple injuries this close to race season was wholly disheartening, but I was diligent about doing rehab exercises and even - mon dieu! - took Friday completely off from everything.

Seriously. I didn't even walk or do a single stretch band rep. Total rest, despite the sunshine.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny, with the temperature climbing into the "spring" range. With Tanker the Wonder Sherpa hot on my heels on his mountain bike, we set out along the Royal Recreation & Downtown Trails in Guelph to test out the effects of 6 days off running. Being fairly flat and well-groomed (and with my sweetheart along to keep me from dodging into the gnarly singletrack that parallels parts of it), it seemed like a good choice to keep things easy to start with.

Even if a bit of it was underwater.
You bet your arse I splashed right through that calf-deep puddle!

 It went ok - my ankle felt great, but there was still a bit of tightness in my hip and quad. I did get about 12km in, though, so felt it was a pretty good day.

Like any day I get to spend with this guy.
Sunday brought another sunny day with even milder air, so after a fun afternoon spent on my motorcycle I headed out for another 8km (which actually turned out to be 9km - whoops) on the Mill Run Trail.

More flat, groomed trail.

I ended up pushing the pace a bit as I hadn't brought a headlamp and the sun would set just after I reached the turn-around in Hespeler. Ordinarily I wouldn't mind too much, but the spring thaw had rather swollen the Speed River, and I didn't really want to try this bit near the 401 after dark:

There is supposed to be gravel trail to the right of the rocks, rather than being a test of my practically non-existent agility.

 Fortunately it all went fairly well, and I was even able to run on my lunch on Monday. I didn't try a double run, partly because I don't want to push things too hard yet, and partly because the wonderful Rhonda Marie Avery - badass ultrarunner and massage therapist extraordinaire - had graciously agreed to see me Monday evening to try to sort out some of my lingering issues.

I didn't cry. I didn't scream. There was, however, some rather pointed grunting.

I left with some newfound mobility in my left hip and some recommendations for stretches, yoga poses, and myofascial release. I've been a good girl and kept up with the rehab exercises, nixed a swim on Tuesday in favour of a bit more sleep to help me recover, and have tried to keep my running as easy as possible as the signs of spring begin to flourish on the trails.

Buds and shoots and green things - oh my!

So far things seem to be holding together, so I have hope that I'll be able to make it through Pick Your Poison without wrecking myself for Sulphur Springs. All I really wanted from the time off was to be able to run consistently again, and that's happening, so I'm happy and grateful that my body is cooperating. While I'm still feeling some symptoms of adrenal fatigue, I may even venture out onto some not-too-technical singletrack this weekend to see how the ankle feels on more technical terrain, and try climbing some moderate hills. I just really want to be able to get lost in the woods for awhile!

Besides, who knows what I might see out there?

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, April 7, 2017

April Fooled

Saturday, April the 1st was a lovely day - the first one of the year where Spring started to feel like it was almost in reach..

Sunshine and green things!
I'd gone down to Shade's Mills Conservation Area to run around in circles for awhile, since it was the first sanctioned training run for Conquer the Canuck (which I raced last year) on the new course for 2017. I might see some other people out, the course would be marked, and I could easily get in the 3 hours or so of running I wanted for the day.

With a bit of elevation to boot.
It very rapidly became apparent that it was not, however, going to be my day.

I'd taken what I thought was a pretty easy week or two since plowing through a bunch of training leading up to the end of the Slowtwitch 100 runs in 100 days challenge, but in retrospect I didn't really cut my mileage down the way I should have. My "easy week" ended up being over 65km despite the extra day I took off (during which I hiked for 3.5hrs with Tanker at Hilton Falls Conservation Area), and culminated in a 4.5 hour grind through the ice and mud of the Bruce Trail in Hockley Valley that included over 1,000m of elevation change. It was beautiful, but left me ragged - my quads were destroyed from running sharp downhills on dirt roads, and I was simply exhausted from the effort of hauling my butt up a trail that doesn't seem to believe in switchbacks (I'm looking at you, Hockley Heights Side Trail!) after all the running I'd done in the prior 8 days.

Almost 40km on the Elora-Cataract Trailway. Back-to-back double run days in the 72hrs directly afterward, without enough sleep. I knew I was heading for trouble - there aren't enough carbohydrates in the bloody world to hold me together when I'm running myself into the ground.

Even if it's lovely and sunny..

I took things a bit easy after the Hockley Valley run - just a ~6k lunch run on Monday and Tuesday (no double run Monday evening), and I didn't add any distance to my ~12k run on Wednesday, but I still wasn't sleeping enough, and because of time constraints I wasn't taking my weekday runs at an easy enough pace for my recovering legs. My poor, damaged ankle was complaining, my left hip and deep gluteal muscles were tight and sore, and on Thursday morning I felt something twang unpleasantly in my left thigh on my 8th burpee of my morning strength workout. Like a good little soldier I headed out into the massively gusting winds on Thursday evening, and (having decided not to go to the pool so I could get a bit more sleep) extended my run a bit longer than usual despite the pain in my quad.

I told myself: Friday is rest day. Friday will make everything better. I will be fine on Saturday. I got 335km of running in the bank in March, never having done more than 293km in a month before. I am strong. I will be ok.

I was not ok.


Overloaded from the downhill running at Hockley Valley and given insufficient time and resources to repair the micro-tears in my quad muscles, I started to hurt within the first few kilometers. Despite my left leg deteriorating into pain and weakness with every additional hill I climbed, I still refused to cut the run at Shade's Mills short of my originally intended 3 loops - I even added a bit at the end to go see the trails on the other side of the beach, which have been cut from the new Conquer the Canuck route but are very pretty. While over there I encountered two women walking dogs off-leash, and while watching them scramble to grab collars I stepped on a root and rolled my damaged ankle again. By the time I met Tanker back at the car I could barely even walk, let alone run. My entire left leg was nothing but pain from just behind my toes to the top of my hip.

Bu-bu-but it was sunny and warm!

I didn't even bother setting an alarm for Sunday - just slept as much as I wanted (nearly until noon), then tried to get my head straight about what I'd done to myself. Less than 5 weeks from the Pick Your Poison 50k and under 9 weeks to the Sulphur Springs 100k, and I was incapable of even walking up a set of stairs without pain.

I had originally resolved to just spend the day lazing around, but it was sunny again and even warmer than the day before - it felt like mid-May, not the beginning of April. So, I hopped on my bike trainer in the basement to see if I could cycle without causing any more problems for my sore hip, quad or ankle. Everything seemed to go smoothly, so I aired up my poor, neglected mountain bike's tires and prepared to go for my first outdoor bike ride of the year. I knew I might not make it off our street and resolved to shut it all down at the first sign of pain, but I actually ended up having a lovely hour-long ride with my sweetheart.

We went for a stroll on a nice, flat trail afterward, enjoying the sunshine and warm air even as the sun set along the river.

It's hard to complain about getting to see this..

I still haven't run since. I'm trying to be a little smarter than I was last week, and realise that pushing things now would be the worst possible thing I could do for my race season. While Pick Your Poison is just intended to be a supported training day, I need to come through it healthy enough to recover in the 4 weeks between it and Sulphur Springs if I want to have any hope of finishing the 100k without messing myself up badly.

I know I am strong enough to push through pain. Right now I have to be smart enough not to do so.

Instead, I'm taking the opportunity to make some improvements. I've finally got serious about doing some rehab for my chronically damaged ankle - that has been ongoing since at least August of last year - and giving my legs some real rest and recovery time.

I'm still clumsy, though.

The quad seems to be responding to the rest - it feels almost completely fine now - and my ankle is definitely in the best shape it's been in months. Even my terrible balance is improving! I have been on the bike trainer and to the pool a couple of times, but I've only done one walk this week. I've been trying to get some more sleep, and do the right things nutritionally to help things along: sipping bone broth and eating gelatin with vitamin C to try to encourage my ligaments and tendons to heal, plus having a bit more healthy fat to try to get my overloaded endocrine system back on track. The issues with my hip and glutes are proving a bit more difficult to resolve (and may actually span a couple of years..), but I'm recruiting the help of the best ultrarunning RMT I've ever met to help me with that.

In short, I'm trying not to be such a fool in April.

If all feels 100% tomorrow - when Spring is supposed to put in another appearance after a fairly nasty week of wintry wind and even a blanket of snow that fell last night - I'm going to try a short-ish run on a flat, non-technical trail. If anything feels off or hurts, I'll shut it down and wait for another day. I have a ton of mileage already in the bank - 885km and 4 runs of 4+ hours in duration - so the goal is just to get back to running consistently and without pain. It will do me no good to try to push mileage if I can't even make the starting line at Sulphur Springs healthy and ready to rock!

No matter how much I want to go play in the sun.

So, wish me luck at getting myself back to fighting fit, and maybe being just a little brighter with my decisions.

Friday, March 31, 2017

I wasn't a Girl Guide..

..but you'd never know it from the way I pack for a day of trailrunning.

Straight talk here, folks: I'm clumsy and stubborn, and will go running by myself on singletrack trails in terrible weather where it would be difficult for help to get to me if I got into trouble.

Not ambulance-friendly, but so very pretty.

So, I pack along an emergency kit (apart from any traction aids, trekking poles or spare clothing I deem necessary for that particular expedition), and I'm going to show you what I keep in it. Yours might differ in appearance and the actual items you bring along, but if you're going for a trek through the woods on foot (or xc skis, or snowshoes) I highly encourage you to have one. If you make it small and light - my basic kit is under a pound - you'll have a much better chance of coming out of a nasty situation with just a great story to tell your friends if you have a few basic tools for your health and survival.

Say hello to my little friends.

Trail Running Emergency Kit

Loosely based on the Ten Essentials, I have tailored my kit to my own needs while on the trail. I don't need to worry about food & water, as those are already accounted for on any trip I take into the woods, whether it be an hour or a week. I'm more concerned here with the "what could go wrong" scenarios - specifically dealing with a situation that makes it difficult or impossible to get myself off the trail to safety. Note that I did not receive any compensation for any product mentioned below, nor do I get any commission from any of the links I've provided. I'm just trying to see you all safe here, folks - that's all the reward I need!

Just a few helpful items.

I already carry a headlamp if I'm going to be out near sunset (or before sunrise, though I can't ever remember that happening..), but batteries can be a fickle thing - even more so in cold weather. So, I carry a full change of batteries for my headlamp. I specifically pack lithium batteries for three reasons: they're lighter than alkaline batteries (which is a minor point); they actually contain more ampere-hours than alkalines (i.e.: will power my light longer), and most importantly they're a dry cell with no liquid electrolyte to freeze. If your headlamp dies on you on a cold run, the last thing you want is to fumble new batteries into it only to find it only produces a weak glow!

A small zipper baggie keeps them all together and protects from moisture

Now, having spare batteries is all well and good, but it's impossible to change your headlamp batteries by the light of your headlamp. So, I bring along a 10 gram solution that can even be considered a backup light source if my main light fails completely due to some kind of damage: a simple glow stick.

I got 3 of them for a dollar just after Hallowe'en.

I wouldn't want to try to run by the light of one of these things after dark, but it should provide just enough illumination that I could hike my way out carefully in a pinch, and would certainly give enough of a glow that I wouldn't be railing in frustration over being unable to get my spare batteries into my headlamp.

Navigation stuff

Being able to light the way is fine, but you also need to know where the heck you're going. When possible I do bring maps along, but not all of the trail systems that I run have published maps. I have a compass app on my phone, but if its battery is low or I'm trying to conserve it, a simple magnetic compass only weighs a couple of grams. I use one that's not liquid filled since I don't want it freezing up on me, and I add a couple of metres of biodegradable trail marking tape in case I go somewhere like Dryden Tract where the trails seem to be designed by M.C. Escher. Going in circles never helped anyone find their way to safety, and Tanker knows that if he finds red trail tape along a route, I'll be somewhere in that direction. I do not advocate using this in anything other than an emergency, though - take only photos and leave only footprints!

Hopefully no blood trails..

As I said before, I am a clumsy oaf. That means I'm at pretty high risk for some manner of damage when I'm out gallivanting in the forest, so I bring along some stuff to patch myself up. The Aventure Medical Kits Ultralight & Watertight .3 is a pretty good option since it's self contained in a sturdy, water-resistant pouch and has most of the things I'm likely to need. Apart from the list shown below, I add a couple of lengths of kinesiology tape that I can use to try to hold a damaged muscle or joint together long enough to get me off the trail, and I write my emergency contact information and health insurance information on the outside in case I am unconscious or unable to communicate.

I do carve it down so I'm only carrying 1 of each supplied item.

Of course, the medical kit only works if you have some idea of how to use it. I have taken numerous first aid courses throughout my life, and I strongly advise anyone - whether you spend a moment in the outdoors or not - to do so as well. They're often offered for a very low cost (sometimes even free - check with your employer or community centre to see if they provide a course), and everyone benefits when a majority of people have the training to handle emergency medical situations.

Getting a bit more esoteric here..
So far most of the things I've detailed are pretty common-sense items, but these might come a little out of left field. I keep a spare shoelace on hand because I won't be able to run - or even hike properly - if one of mine breaks and I'm unable to tie it back together again. The adjustable strap can serve multiple purposes: if my headlamp strap breaks it can act as a temporary replacement; it can be employed as a tourniquet, or secure a couple of branches to act as a splint on a damaged limb. Unfortunately I don't think Backcountry Research makes this ultralight version anymore, but Zpacks has something similar.


If you've been active outside and then stop, you're likely to get cold. If you're dressed for running in anything other than hot, summery weather, you're almost certainly under-dressed for standing/sitting still in the outdoors. Thus, I keep a stash of warming products in my emergency kit, because hypothermia really sucks.

Starting on the left is an emergency blanket, a.k.a. a "space blanket". This particular one is sized for up to 2 people, which means I can wrap more of my body in it than one of the 1-person size. It's the usual silver on one side but blaze orange on the other, so it's more visible in the woods if rescuers are looking for me. It can also be used to rig an emergency shelter if I'm stuck out overnight.

The chemical hand warmers are pretty self-explanatory. I was brought back from a hypothermic state at the inaugural Steaming Nostril in 2013 by slapping a couple of these on my chest, enabling me to finish the race. These can also be used if I just find myself under-dressed when I'm out running - popping one or two in my sports bra can make a huge difference if the temperature drops suddenly on me or if I get unexpectedly soaked.

On the right we have a zipper baggie with a box of waterproof matches and a couple of firelighters. If I really am stuck out in the woods somewhere in cold weather, the space blanket and hand warmers aren't going to cut it. A flint and steel sounds like it has more survivalist cred, but if I'm cold and tired and scared I'm not looking to piss around with a method that can be difficult even in the best circumstances. The firelighters will help even wet wood catch, and then I can use the space blanket to reflect the heat of the fire so its warmth surrounds me. I hope never to find myself in a situation where I need these, but they do provide peace of mind when I'm traipsing snow-covered singletrack in solitary silence.

Tools for the job.

I carry a Leatherman Micra mostly as part of my medical kit, but it serves other functions as well. The scissors will cut open the hand warmers, space blanket or glow stick packaging if my fingers are unable, and the screwdrivers, small blade and tweezers can handle some minor repairs on the trail. It's a fairly robustly built little thing that's lightweight while actually being a useful size.

That's not candy.

These are a bit of a frill, but small and light enough that I bring them anyway. Sometimes called "coin tissues", they're highly compressed cloths in blister packages that will - with the addition of a bit of water - expand into about a 10" x 10" sturdy towelette for wiping anything and everything. I picked up some packs of 10 for about 50 cents each at a local surplus store, and just cut off two from one end of the package. If I drop my phone in a pile of snow or a mud puddle, these will clean it up. If I fall in the mud I can do an initial clean-up to see if there are any wounds that need attention. They're also a backup plan in case my digestive tract is having a rough day and I've already used up the zipper baggie full of toilet paper that I'm pretty sure every single trail runner already carries. It's only a matter of time..

Just put your lips together and blow..

A whistle should be part of every single emergency kit. Its sound carries further in the woods than a human voice and is much more sustainable - you will grow hoarse and unable to yell for help long before you are incapable of blowing a whistle loudly. Three sharp blasts is a universal distress signal that will alert anyone in earshot that you need help. The Fox 40 Classic is a near-perfect emergency whistle as its pealess design has no moving parts to fail, it will work perfectly in the rain or sub-freezing temperatures, it is quite loud (estimated 115db) and both cheap and plentiful. I attach mine on a length of lightweight cord to the zipper on my kit so it's easily located if I need to signal for help in a hurry, and won't fall out and be lost if I'm fumbling around with cold hands.

One bag to hold them all..

To contain all of these wonderful items, you might choose a zipper baggie, but I go with the Eagle Creek Specter Quarter Cube. The lightweight ripstop nylon is a bit more durable than a baggie while still providing a bit of water resistance, and it's sufficiently translucent that I can still spot most items inside it. The bright red colour means it should be hard to misplace, while the webbing handle on top means I can easily hang it by my hydration packs to grab quickly, or hang it off a branch if I desire in the woods. I write my name, emergency contact and health insurance info on the back in case I'm found unconscious or unable to communicate.

The whole kit and caboodle.

As I stated in the opening, all of this kit together weighs in at less than a pound - 0.92lb or 14.67oz, to be exact. I wouldn't carry the extra weight while racing, but training is all about getting stronger, so why not train a bit heavy when it could make such a huge difference to your safety?

As packaged, this kit slips easily in the main compartment of any of my hydration packs, one of which I will certainly be using if I'm going for a run of 90mins or more. I also carry the same kit even when just out hiking in the woods with Tanker, because there's always a chance one of us could be hurt or the weather could turn on us. None of the contents are very expensive or difficult to source, and of course you can tailor it to your own circumstances by adding, subtracting or substituting items that are best suited to the kind of outdoor activity you prefer. It doesn't hurt to be prepared!

Even as signs of spring begin to appear..

There's one other item that you may have spotted above that I haven't discussed yet, mostly because I don't always carry it and I do consider it a frill. However, I've had to use it a couple of times and will generally carry it if I'll be out for 3 hours or more.

I love multifunctional gear

This puppy is a combination light and powerbank, with enough juice to give my phone a full charge. I like to take a lot of photos if I'm out running somewhere pretty, and that drains my phone's battery fairly quickly - especially in cold weather. I was caught out once on very technical trails as fog and darkness were descending - my headlamp stupidly forgotten, and before I started carrying my emergency kit. I had hoped to use my phone's flashlight to guide me out, but I'd also needed it for navigation, as I had gotten a bit lost. The combination of having taken a bunch of photos, messaging with Tanker (who was out hiking), plus trying to use Trailforks and Google Maps to find my way back to our car meant that I had no battery power left to use for light. This gadget would have helped with both of those problems, since I can plus my phone in to the standard USB port in its base to charge it, and it's also a really bright light on its own!

These photos do it no justice at all

On the left is the low power white setting, which is still brighter than my headlamp. The centre photo is the high power white, which will light up an entire area.

If, say, you just happen to want to have a bit of a brew up in the woods in the dark.

It also has both a constant and strobing red, plus an SOS pattern flashing red setting. You cycle through the modes by the simple expedient of pressing the textured rubber-sealed button on the end, which gives a very positive response and doesn't seem to turn on accidentally very easily. One final press from SOS mode turns it off, and a blue LED will flash to show you how much battery life is left. The whole unit is IP68 waterproof rated and will withstand being dropped from about 2m/6' off the ground without issue. There are more specs available here, though the brand name is different than the one I have. For under $25, this is something I'm delighted to have available to use - it may make my glow stick a bit redundant, but I can easily plug my phone in with the provided USB cable and stick it in the pocket of my hydration vest to charge, which will take about 30-45mins depending on how much I've drained it.

It's fairly lightweight, too.

So my entire emergency kit including the powerbank and cord comes to 551g (or 1.21lbs / 1lb 3.4oz) - just over the weight of half a litre (a bit more than one pint) of water.

While none of these items are a substitute for a bit of sense and good judgement, even the best-planned outdoor adventures sometimes go awry. Hopefully I've given you enough reasons to start packing along a few supplies that could help get you out of a nasty situation, if not actually save your life. Yes, I make Tanker the Wonder Sherpa carry his own emergency kit when he's out hiking while I run - I want him back safely, and I'm sure there's someone who wants you back, too! I'm also very keen on keeping myself healthy enough that I can continue to venture into the woods to find the pretty places you just can't see by road.

Even if it's all covered in ice.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Building blocks and re-purposed socks

My last long run of meteorological winter was on Saturday afternoon, and after a couple of bitterly cold outings in the days beforehand all of my warm socks that are long enough to meet up with the bottom of my tights were in the laundry. If you have long legs (I'm about a 32" inseam standing at 5'8"), you know the battle of trying to keep your ankles from getting frostbitten in standard running kit. There seems to be a dearth of crew-height wool socks suitable for running, too, which just makes things all the more challenging.

The struggle is real.

Since I was heading out to do a nearly 40km point-to-point run on a trail I'd never experienced before, with temperatures around the freezing mark and rain or snow predicted, I wasn't leaving my poor ankles undefended. Even my gaiters couldn't quite bridge the gap reliably, so I was left scrambling to figure out a fix - with my left ankle being damaged I was keener than ever to keep things warm to promote mobility and prevent further injury, but I'm really fussy about my running socks 'cause blisters suck. Finally I remembered that Tank had a pair of warm, wooly hiking socks with holes in the soles and asked if he minded if I stole them, with the caveat that they'd be totally wrecked for him to ever wear again. He said he didn't mind, so I grabbed them and had at them with my sewing shears.

I cut right along the lower edge of the heel seam, hoping it would help keep them from unraveling too much either while I ran or in the wash. Then I pulled them on over my socks and tights, facing backwards so the heel of the sock settled over the top of my arch.

Dorky appearance aside, this would help keep the tendons that run down the top of my feet extra warm as well. I threw on my gaiters and shoes, then took these puppies out for a spin on the Elora Cataract Trailway.

All sealed up.

Starting from the East end

There was snow falling, as promised.
All of the sections with coniferous trees were snow covered as well, sometimes with ice underneath.

There were pretty little streams running under the trail.

And wide open, windy spaces as well.

Over four hours later - with a stop in Orton to meet up with Tanker for a water re-supply, warmer gloves and a jacket - I arrived at Belwood Lake Conservation Area (home of the Belwood Tri - one of our favourites, now sadly defunct again) in failing light and turned off the trail toward Fergus. 39km for the day, and my ankles were lovely and toasty!

Belwood Lake was not.

Getting changed in the Fergus Tim Hortons bathroom - such a glamorous life!

The ankle warmers had worked perfectly - the gentle elastic held them up nicely and I had no chafing or discomfort. The gaiters kept them in place on this run, but they stay put just as well without because of the heel portion of the sock can be tucked under the tongue of your shoe to hold it in place.

I've since washed them (or rather I should say Tanker has - he really is a Wonder Sherpa!) on delicate cycle & hung up to dry with no ill effects. They shed a few bits, but are structurally perfect. The natural antimicrobial properties of the wool keeps them from smelling bad, so they can be used multiple times in between washes without instigating chemical or biological warfare on your household. I'd been meaning to make myself a pair of these for awhile, and I'm happy I finally did!

Bonus: you can use the foot portions that you cut off as emergency mittens
Though in this case they may have extra breathability..

Meanwhile, that run on the Elora Cataract Trailway was the start of my final 6-day block of training during the Slowtwitch 2016-2017 100 runs in 100 days challenge. The leaderboard may change a bit as people log their final runs as this is actually the 100th day, but my totals will remain the same since I don't train on Fridays.

As of 3pm I've dropped to 47th place, but I don't really care.
It's about the work, not beating anyone else.

99 days from December 15th to March 23rd saw me run 90 times for a total of 947.45km in 101 hours, 32 minutes and 34 seconds. I've been participating in the 100 in 100 challenge for several years now, but I believe this is the first time I've ever managed more than 85 runs and it's certainly the most mileage I've ever put in during the winter. From Saturday's trek on the rail trail to last night was my biggest 6-day block ever: 91.8km / 57.0mi, putting me at 799.5km for the year so far. Since I'm already over 276km for March, I do believe I'll top 300k for a month for the first time as well. These will - I hope - be the foundation for a successful finish at the Sulphur Springs 100k.

Yes, I did two doubles in the last week, too.

I did, however, do some more damage to my poor left ankle on Wednesday. While doing my usual pre-run dynamic warmup at my office prior to a post-work trot, I managed to bang the damn thing off my desk chair. It feels fine when running, but gives eye-popping flashes of pain at other times, especially when using the clutch in our car. So, I might even take Saturday off as well, depending on how things feel. I've not taken more than a single day off running since January 12th, so I suspect an extra rest day won't be the death of the fitness I've built.

If I can just avoid the temptation of the trails..

So now that I've shared my little trick to staying warm in wintry conditions, let's bring on the spring!