Thursday, March 21, 2013

Friends on the Trail

Don't leave your friend behind.
A friend will follow you anywhere.

A friendly break.

Remembering a friend missed.

Telling your friend where to go.
Can you spot the friend?

Two good friends.

The support of friends.

A friendly place.

Lots of friends live in here.

Can I be your friend?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A New Season

Winter is gradually winding down and training is ramping up. After snowshoe racing season I'm feeling in a good place to hit the trails this year. Actually, I'm hitting the roads too - running two half marathons this spring, sandwiched around the Bear Mountain 50 Miler in May.

Spring coming up means my Mom is soon facing a serious medical procedure, which is going to be a test for her and for my entire family. In May she is undergoing a stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma, which she was diagnosed with a few days before Christmas. When someone you love is hurting, you feel some of their pain in a way, almost like it is radiating from the ache in your heart. Maybe this is part of the reason I am increasingly throwing myself into running right now. It could just be I'm simply trying to distract myself, but partly I want to make myself hurt with my Mom. It makes no sense, and it is likely presumptuous or patronizing or some other unintended thing, but I can't help it. Because pushing myself feels better than doing nothing. Because not being able to do anything is the hardest part of all. I just wish it could somehow unburden some of her own - real - struggles. The good news is my Mom is a lot tougher than I am, and the better news is that she and my Dad and her medical team can, and have been, doing a lot. Mom has been taking great care of herself and responding very well to treatment, and my Dad is part-super-hero/part-angel looking after her better than ten normal people could.

Sometimes running teaches me about life, and sometimes in return life teaches me about running. When a race is going well, it is all so easy to just keep chugging happily along. But when things fall apart and get too tough, I used to say it's just a game and ask what's the point anyway and sometimes even quit. I've come to realize that there doesn't have to really be a point except to appreciate each day, or each mile. If we're truly lucky, that's what we get. It is enough, and I'm grateful.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Series Wrap-Up

Well, we certainly had a fantastic winter for snowshoeing this year, which allowed each of the five races in the Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Series to go ahead as scheduled. I was starting to think our years of having any significant amount of snow in this region were over, but happily this year proved me wrong.

It was fun to be a part of the races this year in different capacities. The three races I was able to run - Summerstown, Westbrook and Frozen Ass - were very satisfying from a participant point of view; and the other two - Frontenac and Red Barn - were fun to volunteer and spectate at. The best thing about the series was that so many people came to multiple races, so it was like a little reunion each time out. We very much celebrated that fact with a special gathering at Red Barn to wrap it all up last weekend. 

I was fortunate to be able to have some consistent results and win the women's series. Congratulations to Joe Turner for winning the men's series. 

Some of my favourite memories:

Summerstown Forest
- A super quick lead group of runners set an impressive pace on the beautiful trails. With soft snow and a back loop that was surprisingly hilly, it wasn't an easy course at all. 
- Gilles Parisien did a fantastic job with this first year event, and it will definitely get even bigger and better in the future. 
- It was awesome to do my first snowshoe race in two years. I had forgotten how much effort they take!

- Derrick had to scrape together a modified course, as unfortunately this was the race which had the least amount of snow. Still, we were fortunate to able to have it go at all, and hopefully next year we can route people back into the lovely single-track. 
- It was cool to have Mihira and Dean from Canadian Running there to do a video report on the race. 
Sebastian Warner running in shorts....again!
- One of the finishers made me choke up at the finish. I love that.
- John McAlister's joy at finally getting a pair of coveted Gramma Rosie socks was about equal to having won the race.

- Oh the snow! So much snow the day before, and a perfect, sunny February day to race.
- Marco Smits and the gang at Westbrook Golf Course showcasing their beautiful property and putting on a delicious chili lunch for us
- Keith Iskiw learning his lesson about going out too hard at Summerstown and putting together a win this time.
- The conditions suited me well and I was able to pull out a win too. Always fun.

Frozen Ass
- Sandy Musson and her crew know the trails up in Batawa better than anyone. I love the course, which is fairly flat until coming upon a huge hill, which they take full advantage of by having us run completely up and over it before turning around and doing it again on the way back. It's a challenging course, and with the hard-packed snow this year it required some fast gears. 
- Rebecca Turner toying with me the first half and then pulling away for the women's win. The most impressive part was she didn't even seem tired at the end. 

Switzerville Red Barn
The Turners rounding into fine snowshoe-translated-from-road fitness in time to dominate the Red Barn race, both having convincing wins.
- Keith and John finishing together after running each other into the ground (er, snowbank) early on. On the starting line I told them 'don't kill each other out there', but they didn't listen to me.
- Nephews Matthew and Michael entertaining in professional style.
- Hanging out around the fire with family and friends.

Snowshoe Racing is FUN!
Next up: Bear Mountain 50 Miler in early May. And for some strange reason I went and registered for a ROAD half marathon in April. I thought I only talked about doing crazy shit like that.