Monday, October 31, 2016

Adding in, Adding on - GPS Notes on Frontenac Challenge

I wasn't aware when planning my Frontenac Challenge that there was a new option this year of swapping a non-official park loop called Moulton Gorge with the standard Little Salmon Loop. I thought of this when, late last week, zooming into my GPS tracks from the confusing second day of Trail Trek for Judy where Carolyn and I did 5 loops, I realized there was a 500m section of Tetsmine loop along the top of Lynch Lake that I somehow missed! I couldn't believe it, and was bummed and mad at myself. What we did was actually longer, but still, that piece got missed. But then I realized I still had an open window until Oct 31 to get out and do that little strip of trail, so Carolyn and I teamed up again and ran a route yesterday that gave us that missing link, plus Moutlon Loop, plus the three remaining loops that she needed to do the challenge, Arkon, Arab and Doe. Without that missing piece I never would have been motivated to do this additional 4.5 hours of running this weekend in the park, so it all worked out just great. I'd been feeling some post-goal blues all week, and this run helped shake that feeling off, so it was especially helpful. Derrick did a big run of his own while we were there, so we had fun afterwards comparing our outings. Between us we covered 8 loops that day!

Here's a link to the run. The short out-and-back at the top is the missing section of Testsmine Loop. The straight line is where I paused the watch while we drove between trailheads. 

Without having a GPS track to come back to, I never would have noticed this and would have happily continued assuming it was covered. Admittedly that would have been an easier way to go, but I'm glad to have a backup and know for sure that I did the entire challenge. I did this challenge in honour of my mom, and I needed it to be done right. (Fittingly, the yellow challenge sign for this loop referred to GPS use in the park. We had a good laugh about that.)

Speaking of GPS, I did a post a few years ago on GPS tracks being able to be modified, but never really addressed the accuracy of the tracks to begin with. It is always interesting to see the differences in our stats when Derrick and I run the exact same route. He has a newer model of Suunto Ambit, presumably with a more sensitive receiver, and he routinely gets distances that are longer than mine, especially on single-track trails that typically wind around a lot. 

Derrick's tracks versus mine for days 1 and 3, where we ran every single step the same. Very different stats for both distance and altitude. (Click images to enlarge.)

Derrick: Day 1

Sara: Day 1

Derrick: Day 3

Sara: Day 3

For comparison, here is the SPOT track for Day 3. Not very useful under such a thick tree cover and only trying to get a read every 10 minutes!

Birch Lake Trail

Friday, October 21, 2016

Trail Trek for Judy

From Oct 16-18 I ran my Trail Trek for Judy version of the Frontenac Challenge, and am very grateful to everyone who has donated to Myeloma Canada and helped me surpass my fundraising goal. 

I put together this short video to show a bit of how it went out there. I hope you enjoy it! 

If anyone is interested in the maps and data, here are the Movescount links to each day. 

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

For more information:
CanadaHelps page

Donation window is open until November 30th. Thank you to everyone for your generous support!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Race Goals versus Projects

The first running book I ever read was Jeff Galloway's Book on Running where he introduced the idea of an evolution that runners go through, from beginner through competitive stages, to latter stages where racing against time or others isn't nearly as important.

At the time I read his book, I was quite taken with improving my race performances and working hard to do the best I potentially could in that respect, so I couldn't imagine a day when I would not care as intensely. But now, some years later, I admit that race goals don't motivate me like they used to. However for me, the simple purity of getting out there for the sake of it doesn't always fully give me enough motivation to run as much as I feel good doing either.

I need goals, but I don't always want them to be confined to the narrow realm of races. Happily, trail running offers a wide range of options for alternative types of goals and projects. For example completing a new trail or network of trails, fastest known times, running streaks, running vacations, volunteering at a race or even race directing, to name just a few.

This fall I've created a running project called Trail Trek for Judy for Myeloma Canada, in honour of my mother who passed away last October. For me it is a very different type of goal altogether because of the fundraising element, but it allows me to use my running in a way that resonates emotionally while doing something of use, and that feels good right now.

I may get excited about some race goals again soon, but in the meantime there are plenty of options as different interests, moods, or life stages come and go and we evolve as, hopefully lifelong, runners.

A project-within-a-project: discovering new trails while training for TTJ