Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Lakes are Open

And by open I mean closed; as in, frozen over so we can run on them. Every year in November and December I go about disliking the cold and darkness of winter along with just about everyone I know. Then, usually sometime around mid-January I'll have a run that changes everything. One singular, unexpected run that reminds me in spectacular fashion that oh yeah, I'm a winter lover. Winter is prickly and difficult and takes effort to get to know, but with that one run I remember why we're friends and always will be.

This year it happened last week, on a weeknight run just around dusk. Derrick and I ventured out on a local lake just in time to watch the fading sunset. It was a still, serene night, and the sky turned a rich, deep blue above the orange of the last rays. A crescent moon hung right above the horizon, with bright Mercury underneath. The silence on the lake added to the profoundly beautiful evening. It fills me with gratitude for all the best things about our lives on this earth and a longing that I can't explain and bitter-sweetness that I can't put into words. It diminishes trivialities and takes me far away from everything and everyone with just a few steps onto a frozen land under a vast universe.









Experimenting with Vert Panos:









Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Snowshoe Season 2015 Underway

The past two weekends have seen the first two races in the Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Series take place.

First up was Dion Ignite the Night, in Morrisburg, Ontario at Upper Canada Village. This was an evening race put on by Summerstown race director Gilles Parisien, where we had the treat of running through the village lit up with holiday lights. I decided to race the 10k, 2 loop course, and I was so glad I did as running through the festive village was incredibly unique and magical. It was a cool night with a brisk wind off the St. Lawrence River which quickly drifted in our tracks on the more remote section of the loop. The contrast between running through the bright village and the dark, windy outer part of the course made it so interesting and fun.

The turnout was huge, at 144 racers, and when we started it was crazy and fun with snowshoes and people everywhere. It was a fast start, but I settled in to a comfortable pace and tried to save energy for the second loop. I was among a small group nearby which traded places a bit, but otherwise it felt strange to have no sense of where the pack was in the darkness. Coming back into the village at the start/finish area I felt comfortable, so I tried to push more on the second lap, eventually hitting an even split and feeling very satisfied with that.

 






Next up, this past weekend was the Dion Frontenac race, where I changed gears and helped Derrick out with registration, timing and course marking and tear down. It was a mild day and everyone was in good spirits. I enjoyed my part of the day and felt good about how it went.

Setting the course the day before

 


Race day, waiting for the racers

Photo Credit: Sean Scally/ScallyEventPhotos.ca

 Next up is the Dion Brighton Snowshoe Race on January 31st, the third race in the series.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Back to Batawa

A few weeks ago I ran the 25k race at Batawa for the third time. This year they added a Bad Ass 6 Hour race to the mix of other Fat Ass distances, which was somewhat tempting. Maybe next year.

As usual I really enjoyed the trails in this area, and the event ran extremely smoothly this year despite a huge crowd showing up for the various distances. Well done to Sandy Musson of Tri and Run Sports. Thanks to all of the organizers and volunteers.

My race was fairly uneventful. Remembering last year's painful experience of starting way too hard, I kept it mellow and ran by heart rate. The trails were a quite wet on the back loop which made for some fun negotiating of deep puddles and slick mud. My C-Lites were great in the mud as usual and my feet were happy the whole time.

It was my slowest time here which was a bit disappointing considering I ran it smarter, but it wasn't by much and I wasn't too far off the two women who finished ahead of me. Plus it was a good stamina-building session as always. All good, and by running it at a better effort throughout I wasn't very sore or beat up. Part of that is that I added back plyometric training into my routine the past few months. It doesn't take much to be a big help, and I definitely felt the difference on the five big climbs and descents on this course.

Past years' race reports here (2013) and here (2012).









Same-same. Left is this year, right is last year.

On another note, I can't get the pictures from the last two days of our Provincial Parks tour because my camera died. If I ever retrieve them I'll post them. As a replacement camera, I recently inherited Derrick's hand-me-down iPhone so I opened an instagram account: instagram.com/saramontgo


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

Provincial Park Tour: Day 2 Bon Echo

Bon Echo Provincial Park is home to the famous Mazinaw Rock with its steep cliff and pictographs. We ended up going to the west of Mazinaw Lake to the Abes and Essens Trail, a gorgeous backcountry trail of approximately 17 km. We were lucky to have a spell of warm, clear weather to enjoy the fall colours.















Friday, October 3, 2014

Provincial Park Tour: DAY 1 Algonquin

For a late September holiday this year, we decided to do a number of small, relatively nearby getaways. We ended up running in four different Ontario Provincial Parks, enjoying the vibrancy of the woods, better running temperatures, and the lack of deer flies.

The first park was Algonquin, where I finally got to see a moose. We ran a total of 3 hours, on the Centennial Ridges Trail and then after a short break went up to a beautiful lookout on part of the Highland Backpacking Trail via rail trail along Lake of Two Rivers and then a steep portage. I can't wait to go back and see this entire trail.

Next up, Bon Echo.