Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Amazing Luc...2 days on the Western Uplands 3rd Loop

Yup, the dog that just won't quit.

So Luc, our German Shepherd Dog (with a probably bit of Border Collie, but we don't know...he's under 50lbs though and full grown) is now 13 years old.  Geriatric by any measure, and 3 years past the average lifespan of both GSDs and Border Collies.

A few health issues (hypothyroid and laryngeal paralysis, which can lead to heat distress) but he's in good shape.  We think he's got a wee bit of arthritis, but who wouldn't at his age?

A couple of weeks ago Toby said 'Hey!  I have July 30 and 31st off!' so I said 'Let's go camping!'.  Car camping was all booked up (long weekend) so I suggested we go backpacking - Frontenac was fully booked, we didn't look at Killarney as we were going to be doing the drive Saturday morning before backpacking and it's just too far away.

The Western Uplands trail in Algonquin still had sites available on the third loop, so Algonquin it was.  I was able to reserve Pincher Lake North, which is still 20k from the trailhead, though does feature 8k of mostly rail trail near the trailhead.

Still.  Gulp.  Luc is old, and it's been awhile since he's hiked that far - still does 14, 15k hikes, it's just been awhile since he's done a 20k hike, let along B2B 20k.

But he's a tough guy.  Heck, he's done the lower two and part of the third loop of Western Uplands as a non-stop 60k hike, but he was 5 years old then.  Not 13.

But hey.

We got up SUPER early Saturday morning and hit the road by 5:30 am in an attempt to beat long weekend traffic.  So tired.  Steph had said to me Friday that she'd sleep in the car and I told Toby that, and that 'I don't really/can't sleep in the car anymore'.  He laughed at me all the way up because I kept falling asleep.  SOME OF US DON'T DRINK COFFEE

We got to the permit office uneventfully, though I may have been very sleepy.  All checked in, Toby picked up a cool hiking tshirt, and then we drove to the trailhead/access point  (Rain Lake) only getting confused once (well, I got confused, Toby had the right idea).  Got to the access point, searched for a parking spot (thank goodness we got there by 9 am, it would've been worse later on as we discovered when we left on Sunday).  Hit the trail by 9:18 after changing into our boots/futzing around.

After the first 800m, the trail leaves the rail trail for a short while, which I didn't realize, so I was confused, but checked the map and saw it did indeed leave for a brief burp plus it was marked.  The rail trail was more grown in then expected, and more technical than most rail trail (keep in mind that relativity).  It had trees and roots growing across it, plus rail ties or whatever they were that were handy for navigating wet spots and not getting your boots muddy but otherwise a bit annoying.

(The rail ties or whatever were off to the side in that pic but for parts were not)

Still, we made good time.  We got to where the rail trail ends for a brief bit at an old/broken off bridge, and descended off to the side to a small log bridge (Luc wanted to keep on going...I was like 'You idiot, you'll fall 20 feet into a lake and you're scared of the water'.  He figured it out eventually but we had to yell at him).  Saw some people we'd seen at the trail head talking to another hiker with a dog - they took off, and we talked to the hiker with the dog, who was heading out after 8 days on the trail (but she only did the 2nd and 3rd loops in EIGHT DAYS...I'd be bored at those short distances, but then, I'm easily bored).  She said 'My dog is 9.5 and can't do what she used to...doing this with her while she still can' which is an amazing attitude, and how we feel about Luc, who, incidentally, looked better than her dog did despite being 3.5 years older.  Smug owner moment, me, very nice.

She did however point out the momma and calf moose feeding in the water!  I thought the picture didn't turn but it's not half bad, though how well it will show up in the blog I'm not sure.

After this little descent the trail popped up to about another km of rail trail before heading onto real trail (get it?  Rail versus real).  We had a good climb that left me going 'Oh man, I haven't done this portion of the Western Uplands, I hope the rest isn't like this!!!!'  But it wasn't, it was mostly rolling after that.

We had lunch at the first campsite on Islet Lake, after hitting the trail split.  Wouldn't want to camp there, as the trail literally ran through it (what is with Algonquin campsites and that?  Brutal).  Still, a good spot for lunch and to fill up the dog water bottles.

Then we kept hiking, along Islet, Weed, Stammer, and Stutter.

After Stammer and heading towards Stutter there was a big downhill that had our knees complaining (our packs were 25lbs and under with food and water, what can I say, we're ultralight failures, but we had lots of luxuries).

My Oregon (handheld GPS) was measuring way off from the map distances, whereas Toby was using his 920xt and it was accurate.  I was using the Oregon because I thought it'd be more accurate, but I think it's 7 or 8 years old so old technology.  And I haven't updated it in a few years oops.  I used my 920xt for mapping on the return home.

We got to Pincher Lake North.  I'd read that the second campsite was the nicest, but wanted to check out the first one we passed so we went down the side trail - it was okay, I guess, but no real good spot for swimming and it seemed a bit buggy as was in a bit of a bay and didn't have a lot of breeze.  We headed to the second site (also off the trail down a side trail), which was empty (yay) and it was nice.  Good spot for the tent, nice cooking area with two benches and tables, and a rocky area extending into the lake that was perfect for swimming and sitting with your feet in the water - nice after 20k/5.5 hours on the trail!

I wasn't super impressed with the fire pit - it looked like it was on top of some roots - but neither of us cared about having a fire so for our purposes it was fine.

We got set up then lay in the sun for a bit before going in for a swim.  At first we were just cooling our feet then I said 'Nope, I'm going in!' so Toby came too.  The water was fairly warm, but still refreshing, it was perfect.  After our swim we sat in the lake some more.

It was a truly lovely afternoon around camp.  The campsite faced east so we lost the sun and layered up.  The dogs mostly just snoozed.

For this trip, we used the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL3 - it's bigger than my 3-man Tarptent, which is a nice feature of the Big Agnes with two adults and two dogs, and it is very comfortable.  Plus, while I wouldn't call it ultralight ultralight, it's hardly heavy.

Toby was using my Big Agnes Insulated Double Z sleeping pad - the height of luxury - and as I suspected from my last trip in June, it for sure has a slow leak - Toby woke up in the morning with his hip in the ground.  I should be able to exchange it at MEC though.  I used the Thermarest Z-Lite Sol sleeping pad with my Gossamer Gear torso pad which was also nice to place over the wooden benches for extra padding!  Anyways, I digress.

But devolving into gear talk...we used two packs this trip, my custom ZPacks pack (dyneema, with carbon fibre stays and the torso pad as a 'frame') and the ULA Equipment CDT, which was carrying a lb or two over suggested weight.  I carried the ULA the first day, as it was lighter, Toby hated the ZPacks as he found it cut into his collarbone, we switched day 2 and evened the loads a bit more, and Toby loved how comfortable the ULA pack was.

Anyways, after some lovely relaxation, chocolate, and a pot of tea (well, I had it, Toby doesn't drink tea really) we made dinner.  Toby wanted to have freeze dried meals from MEC, which I like, but I find soupy at the bottom, which irritates me to no end.  These were both excellent, but soupy at the end, and in our commitment to LNT principles we packed out the liquid, so the food pack didn't lighten as much as you'd think by the second day.  The package says to use 500ml of water and we measured, think we'll try 450ml next time.

We were full enough we didn't have our chocolate mousse!  Poop!  Next time!

About 8:45 we took the dogs for an evening constitutional down the trail to the 3rd campsite to check it out (nobody was staying there).  Man did it ever suck large.  I've made nicer sites on crown land.  It seriously sucked.

Our neighbours at the first site (they'd arrived about 8 pm) were still going strong, but it was getting buggy so we decided to retreat to the tent (bug spray was hung with the bear bag...there was a perfect branch, and I love backpacking with Toby, because he can get the hang in one throw...talent).  We had the Fenix CL20 (I think) camping lantern from MEC and planned to stay up for a bit but I fell asleep pretty much right away.

Toby had the gall to say I (and the dogs) snored!  The dogs, sure, but me?  I DON'T SNORE IT'S NOT LADYLIKE.  And lord knows I'm ladylike hahahaha

I did have a sore throat in the morning though, so clearly I snored a fuckload.  I slept really well, and didn't get up to pee until 6:30ish.

Toby didn't sleep well - he was comfortable, he just couldn't fall asleep (no melatonin) so I got up at 7 and puttered, making some tea and taking down the bear bag etc, and then Toby got up at 7:40.  We enjoyed our oatmeal then hit the trail just before 9am.

We had considered doing a loop on the 3rd loop - using the portage shortcut at the bottom - but that would mean about 24k on the day and we thought Luc seemed a little stiff in camp the night before.  He was fine, so we would've been fine, but in the end we just did the out and back for another 20k day.

Toby's knee bothered him this day - he had Neb both days, attached to his waistbelt, and Neb can really pull and going up and down stuff - well, yeah.  Toby is physically stronger than me but I trail run so I think all the little intrinsic muscles around my knees and ankles are stronger than his.

We hit the big up that we'd gone down the day before - offf.  But we made good time and stopped and had lunch at the same spot as day 1.  Shortly after lunch I took Neb which helped Toby though of course we'd already done the bulk of the day and most of what was left was rail trail, so it's not as helpful as it seems.

In keeping with Neb's theme when he backpacks on the Western Uplands he found some poop and ate it - SO GROSS.  That dog, I tell you.  That's okay, Luc stepped in some.  Sigh.  Our dogs.

Anyways, we were on trail for about another 5.5 hours.  My feet hurt - my plantar was sore (I can't get orthotics in those boots and fit my feet in, and yes, I take out the insoles) and my left ankle was sore on the outside from the boot pressing against it - it's now swollen!  A lot!  What the heck!  I'm getting new boots, sheesh.   I may not be doing my long run tomorrow grrrr

It was nice to get back to the car, the dogs promptly flopped down.

When we got to Kearney (where the permit station is) we stopped and checked out the festival on Main Street.  Not sure exactly what it was, but there were races on the waterfront in canoes (no paddles...some people swamped their canoe LOL) and we saw a few people portaging cardboard boxes...perhaps like the flotilla on the Ganaraska?  Not sure.  We met some nice dogs and eventually popped back into the car and headed for Huntsville, where we stopped for food at Westside Fish and Chips (Toby: fish Me: grilled cheese oh yeah) and ate on the picnic tables with the dogs.

We had a great trip!  The next one isn't until October sadly though we do have some car camping planned before then.

And I'm so, SO proud of Luc.  He keeps defying expectations - I think he probably could've done further than 20k/day, but good to not push too hard at his age.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dirty Girls Six Hour Run

Well, here's the race report.

I was really wondering how this race would go.  Forecast of 40C with humidity, forecast of sandy, technical trails with some hills, forecast of 'I haven't run further than 25k in a year and that was two months ago...'.

As I said in my preview, what could go wrong?

I'm the master of race prep, shall we say.

The race started at 8am, which was nice as I didn't have to get up until 5am.  After checking that April and Mel got their car started, I picked up some ice for the cooler (need cool Gatorade and beer!!!) and hit the road.

Got to Mansfield Outdoor Centre, picked up my race kit, saw April and Mel, found Tanker and K and got my chair set up with them, Robin B was there too, whoo hoo!  Relaxed, then went and found Joe who was running the 24 hours and hey!  Francesco is here!  He was running the nighttime 12 hours in prep for a fat ass 100 miler later this year.

I started at the back and FINALLY got to meet Robin W.  Joe and I ran together, though he got a bit ahead of me on the first 8k loop.  I caught up to him and we ran the second and third loops together.  I slowed down a bit but it was fun to run with Joe, and I was hurting - that's what I get for running while overweight and undertrained, oof, everything hurts.

Going into the race I had said 'I have to run at least 32k' but by mid-way through the second loop I was like 'Oww, maybe I'll call it at 3 loops' and then I said 'Don't be an idiot!'  I just kept plugging away, ran behind Joe for the 2nd loop and part of the third before I took the lead.  A tree fell on one of our loops and perhaps it was because we were there to hear but believe me, when a tree falls in the forest, it's loud.

Ran with Kelly B and Kelly W for a bit, which was really nice.  Always great to see them.

On the...third? loop Mel and April both lapped me, at different times, looking good.  By the time the fourth loop started I knew I'd finishing at least that.  I tried to pay attention to how long it took me to get to the 2k marker as I thought I'd probably have time to do a part felt like it took bloody forever!  I swear, that two k is ridiculously long.  The first 4k of the course felt way longer then the second 4k, go figure.

At some point I accidentally dropped Joe.  I'd figured if I was going a bit slower running with him that's okay because we're running buddies and I would be pacing him at Haliburton, so good practice.  I may not be good pacer material, because I looked behind me, and was like 'He'll catch me' but he never did, he was gone.  Oops.

My stomach was upset, I stopped after the first loop and otherwise held it until the end of the fourth loop.  I thought 'Do I have time to go out for another 2k to get to 34k on the race?' but math is not my strong suit while running and decided I didn't, I felt like I was moving really slowly.

So I stopped at 5:23:06, 32k.

Of course, looking at my Garmin data after, I had a huge amount of time to get to 34k.  Sigh.  I shouldn't talk myself out of these things.

Oh well.

It's funny, I was all proud of myself for only getting lapped by Mel (who was also running the 6 hour) once but she ran 52k so she obviously lapped me twice and we just didn't notice each other.

I thought I'd missed Joe going back out when I was otherwise occupied in the toilet, but after a long time wandered back towards the start/finish and saw him by his tent sitting in a chair - he was done, after 32k (though he never crossed the mat so he's only credited with 24k).  Talked with him for a bit, to Mel, cheered on April and K running the 12 hour, hung out with Tanker and drank beer in the sun - it was a great time!  Robin had a strong 6 hours, she got to 40k, very impressive.

I think - THINK - I was 29/41 starters.  Not a strong showing, but given how little I've been running and how heavy I am - I'll take it.  No complaints here.  I had a GREAT time - such a fun course, lots of sharp turns, stumps, a couple of nice long hills (one that just went on forever....).  The rumour is 2016 is Dirty Girls' last year which is sad if true.  The volunteers and aid stations were amazing - this is a really great race and course.

One change this did make to my season - obviously Joe is not prepped to run 100 miles at Haliburton.  So instead of volunteering during the day and pacing at night at Haliburton, I'm running the 50k (what could go wrong hahahaha I predict my slowest-ever 50k), and then volunteering overnight.  Looking forward to it, should be fun!

Monday, July 18, 2016

What could go wrong?


I continue to struggle with training motivation - I'm doing a better job at short/mid-length runs, not so good on my long runs.  I'm psyching myself out.

To that end, I had planned next weekend to go to Dirty Girls Trail Races to cheer on K (#illadvised) in her first 12 hour race and keep Tanker company as he wonder sherpa'd.  Joe is running the 24 hours and as it turns out Mel registered for the 6 hours and April for the 12.

So lots of people to cheer on!

Sunday is my niece's birthday at the cottage near Awenda Provincial Park, so I thought I would have to get up SUPER early, run for 5-6 hours, then go to her party and hopefully make it in time for cake.

...if only there were a way I could run on Saturday...

So I registered for the 6 hour race at Dirty Girls.  I'll hang out with Tanker when I'm done.

Of course, I haven't run further than 25k this year, and I did that about 2 months ago, at Sulphur.  This weekend's conditions look to be similar - 32C, feels like 41C - so I'm just going to take it easy, walk lots, and not fuss about distance.  It's an 8k trail loop.  Should be interesting, I've never done a timed race before.

Then I will go to the cottage Saturday night, rather than coming back to Toronto, do a nice normal-length run Sunday morning at Awenda and have lots of time to celebrate Elizabeth's birthday.

So what could go wrong?  After all, I have such solid training.  Well, my training is better than it was for Sulphur.  I'll be fine.

July 30-31st Toby has off, so I suggested we go backpacking.

What could go wrong?

Well, as we booked rather late, all the sites in Frontenac were taken - I didn't check Killarney as we aren't going up Friday night, and who wants to drive to Killarney the same day of a 2 day trip????  So Algonquin it was.

We're on the Western Uplands trail, third loop.  Going in at the Rain Lake access point.

To North Pincher Lake.  Approximately 20-21k on Saturday.  Toby is of course more than equal to that though he likes laid back trips...and Luc hasn't hiked that far in awhile.  21k with a geriatric 13 year old German Shepherd in forecasted 27C before humidity...what could go wrong?

Naw, we'll take breaks and be fine.

We may do a loop and go out the longer way on Sunday, for 24-25k.  We'll assess how the dogs and everyone feels once there and decide.

But I am really excited for it.  I think I'm starting to irritate Toby I'm so excited!

That Monday I head to Frontenac to run the perimeter (approx. 50k) - THAT should be a challenge.  What could go wrong?  LOL.  I may hike large swaths of that.  Oh well, it's all time on my feet.

While I've been psyching myself out of long runs Dirty Girls and Frontenac Perimeter are 'events' that I'm excited about, so I'm not concerned.

Dirty Girls will be a chance to assess Joe's fitness before Haliburton.  Should be interesting.