Saturday, October 31, 2009

More Banff

The second half of our time in Banff just seemed to get better and better each day.

On Monday while Sara was busy doing her presentation at her conference, I decided to take off on a slightly longer run to test out my knee. I still had hopes of possibly running the OT100 on November 7, so thought this would be a good chance to see how things felt. We had picked up the book ‘Mountain Running in the Canadian Rockies’ by Bob Walker which is a must get for any runner visiting the Banff area. Upon consulting with the book, as well as with Leslie and Magi, I eventually decided to do Sulphur Mountain.

In the book it recommended running in a counterclockwise direction which would make for a more gradual climb and enjoyable downhill. I somehow got turned around when I started the run though and spent an hour touring around the bottom of the mountain not sure if I was on the right trail. I ended up getting frustrated and decided to run straight up from the gondola. I knew this would be a more difficult climb, but the switchbacks, unlike the ones in the Adirondacks, allow for a more gradual ascent. Once again, the footing was good at the beginning of the run, but I eventually needed to switch into my microspikes to get good footing with the ice and snow up higher.

Once I made it to the top of Sulphur Mountain, I was treated to absolutely no view. It was very cloudy and I couldn’t really see a damn thing. The immediate area around was nice enough and I just had to imagine how spectacular of a view it would have been if it had been clear. With the summit being at 7,415 feet, I had 2,300 feet of climbing in addition to the extra climbing that I did during the first hour of my run. My knee wasn’t very happy with me today, but this was just a great run and what my soul truly needed.

On Tuesday, I arranged to do a run with my friend Magi who is the Marketing Director at the Canmore Nordic Center. The Nordic Center is a beautiful facility that hosts miles and miles of incredible trails. This is where many of the national cross country ski team train. They are already skiing on snow. In addition to this early season skiing, they have 6km of lit xc ski trails and a paved 10km loop for roller skiing during the off season. I was amazed when Magi told me that they actually harvest snow during the winter season and store it in a shaded area, and then cover it up with wood shavings for the summer. They can then uncover this snow in the fall and build a small track so that athletes can get in some early season workouts on snow. Remarkably, if my memory is right, they only lost about 30% of the snow that was harvested. The Nordic Center also hosts mountain biking and mountain running races, including the Canadian Mountain Running Championships.

During our run, I was shown all of this incredible facility, while running in ankle deep snow the whole time. The trails were rolling and beautiful, with the mountains always in view near by. Magi also took me on some new single track technical trails that they had recently made. It was a great run in such an amazing place. Thanks again for the tour Magi.

For our final day in Banff we decided to take Leslie’s advice and run out Lake Minnewanka. Leslie had told us that there were great views the whole time and that it got very remote early on. We were certainly not disappointed and were treated to one breathtaking view after another. We knew this was going to be a great run, when we arrived in the parking lot to see 3 adults mountain goats and a baby. We weren’t sure what to make of them, but they only wanted to lick the salt off of our car. They were very interesting animals to see up so close and weren’t at all scared of us.

Once again, we were running on snow most of the time for this run. This seemed like a pretty wild area after only a few kilometers. We weren’t too concerned about bears in this area due to the time of the year and climate, but we were a little nervous when we noticed some cougar tracks in the snow. Our run started with bright blue skies shining over the high peaks and reflecting off of the equally bright blue lakes. Just an amazing view. The terrain was quite rolling in places with a few long climbs and technical trails more like what we are used to in our beloved Canadian Shield around our home. It was very difficult to turn around as we kept just wanting to go around the next corner and then the next. Our goal is to come back sometime and run the entire trail point to point.

On our return trip, the weather changed dramatically and the clear skies were replaced with cloud and heavy snowfall. Ah, winter is here even though we won’t be running on good snow back home for another month or two. Lake Minnewanka was certainly a highlight run of our trip and was a perfect way to end our vacation.

Returning to Ontario was a little disheartening and left us feeling a somewhat hollow. The mountains can have such an impact on a person and leaves you longing to return. Arriving into Toronto was a bit of a culture shock. The hustle and bustle was just too much for us. How can people live in a city like this when there are pure places like Banff that exist?

The first day of returning home was the toughest; however we quickly got back into our regular routine and had a nice outdoor dinner in our firepit, while sharing a beer with the dogs. My heart was still in the mountains, but it was nice to be home...for now.

View, or lack of, on Mt Sulphur...Canmore Nordic Centre...
More friends...
Lake Minnewanka...

Check out Sara's report and photos

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cataraqui Trail work

Work will begin soon on parts of the Cataraqui Trail near Camden East, Newburgh and Sydenham. Portions of the trail may be temporarily closed while trail surface improvements are made, advises the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority. The trail management board and the Lennox and Addington Snowmobile Club are spending $36,000 and $22,000, respectively, to complete the work. Fifty per cent of the money has come from the National Trails Council; the remainder was raised locally. The work, to place a stone surface on the trail, will be done on a 12.4-km stretch of the trail from Hogan Road to the Boyce Island Bridge on the north shore of Sydenham Lake and on the 3.2-km stretch from Curl Road west to Camden East.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hello From Banff....sell our stuff!

We've been here since Thursday and are having a great time. Sara's conference doesn't start until Monday, so that's given us lots of time to enjoy the sights, get some nice runs in and visit with friends (who have provided us with great tips and great food!).

Sara and I are unfortunately both fighting some frustrating injuries right now, so are not running as much as we originally had planned. We've been making the most of it though and searching out unique runs in areas that expose us more to the off the beaten path gems. Words don't describe it here and our pictures do not do it justice. Truly magnificant and majestic.

After about 5minutes of pondering once we arrived, we've decided to stay here. So, please sell all of our stuff and come visit;) You'll find us somewhere in the mountains with big smiles on our faces:)

Here is a sample of a few of the things we've seen so far.

Lake Louise from partway up Little Beehive...
Downtown Banff...
Running up Little Beehive...
Running into Johnson Canyan and the Ink Pots... Rugged wilderness into Bow Glacier...Peyto Lake...
Bow Lake...
Making friends with the wildlife...
Truly Canadian...
Sara will be busy with her conference over the next few days, but is still hoping to get out on the trails and in the mountains as much as possible this week.

Thanks very much to Keith and Leslie, Gene and Sue and Magi for great food, great company and great trail tips. Oh, and Phil too for some good tips as well even though we missed him on our trip.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sydenham Fall Trail Run - La Sportiva Report

La Sportiva posted a great photo of Jodi Wendland's final sprint to the finish to get her course record (and bonus) at the Sydenham Fall Trail Run. For report and photo, please click here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sydenham Fall Trail Run - Record Field and New Course Record

Congratulations to everyone who took part in the 5th Annual Sydenham Fall Trail Run held on Sunday, October 18, 2009.

A record number of 250 participants competed in the 8km trail race along the north shore of Sydenham Lake on the Cataraqui Trail. The weather was perfect and the fall colours were at their peak.

Defending champion Jodi Wendland had the performance of the day breaking her own course record by 5 seconds in winning the woman’s race in a time of 30:45. Wendland collected $100 cash for the win and an additional $50 for the new course record. Margarita Sviajini finished second in a time of 32:47, followed by Nancy Coke in third in 33:49.

2008 men’s champion Paul Chafe also successfully defended his title winning the men’s race in a time of 26:52. Chafe was followed by Rick Hellard in 28:31 and Clive Morgan in 30:22.

A huge thank you to all of our sponsors for making this race possible:
Spafford Health and Adventure –
Dion Running Snowshoes –
La Sportiva Trail and Mountain Running Shoes –
TD Canada Trust – Bayridge Plaza
Stonehaven – Handmade items from Napanee, Ontario
Debbie McKeown Travel and Adventure Writing –
Sydenham Veterinary Services – Sydenham, Ontario
Running Room –
Trailhead –
Hillside Coffee Company –
Hansler Smith Ltd -
Loyalist Kids of Steel Triathlon –
Clearwater Massage Therapy – Sydenham, Ontario 613-572-2106
Peter Montgomery Studio –
Get Out There Magazine –
The Water Store –
Costco –

For complete race results, please visit

Thanks again for a great day and we look forward to seeing everyone again next year.

Derrick Spafford and Sara Montgomery
Race Directors
Sydenham Fall Trail Run

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week of Oct 12-18

Training Summary:
~ A frustrating week of running. My knee hasn't really improved as the week progressed. I had hoped that I would be feeling better going into a week in Banff and then into the OT100, but I'm certainly feeling a little less than confident.

I've been seeing Greg Lehman. He feels that the knee irritation is triggered from my hip which makes sense as it tends to be tight from time to time. He found a reduced range of motion in my hip initially. Also found a pretty big imbalance in my right quad being considerably weaker compared to my left (this is also the foot that pronates more and has a bunion). He did ART and loosened up hip a lot. Gave me exercises to do, which were the ones I have always done to keep me healthy, but neglected since Haliburton and my build up to training again (Go figure...I'm stupid!). Also wants me to roll the hip a lot to keep it loose. He also taped my knee to allow better tracking and take some of the stress off my knee. Seemed in less pain after treatment/taping when doing a single leg squat. We'll hope for the best.

Total # of hours this week: 4:27
Total # of runs this week: 8
2009 total # of hours: 504:37
2009 total # of days: 297
2009 total # of runs: 378
Streak: 7236 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Friday, October 16, 2009

New iRun Blog: David Grant's Up To Speed

iRun Magazine has started up a new daily blog on their website. David Grant's Up To Speed Blog features training tips and general information on a variety of running topic.

In addition to daily posts, each Tuesday David will feature a different workout recommended by a Canadian running coach. I am pleased that David chose one of my workouts for his initial ‘Tuesday Featured Workout’ post. Click here to view my Treadmill Uphill Tempo Workout.

Be sure to check back regularly for other recommended workouts. I have a number of other workouts that will be featured in future weeks as well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Canadian Thanksgiving

The Canadian Thanksgiving was this past weekend. Thanksgiving to me is more than just about food. I’m thankful for a number of things in my life each day especially health and happiness, so don’t really need one day just to celebrate. Not surprising, all of my favourite Thanksgivings have involved being outdoors. I have some great memories of a number of Thanksgiving Day trail runs with some of the Murphy Bros. (and Joe T) or Sara, and this past weekend had a great trail run with Keith on Saturday (we also shared an incredible Thanksgiving dinner at Keith and Jenn’s on Monday too. Thanks again guys).

While Sara and I didn’t spend Thanksgiving with family this year, we did celebrate it a week early with my parents and Brennan and Heather. Our day consisted of sharing ‘our’ trails at Frontenac Park with them. We went for a really nice 2 ½ hour hike in the woods. The weather was perfect and the views awesome. It was just a wonderful day to be outdoors.

Impromptu things always seem to happen when we go on hikes. Things got a little competitive when we came to a rock that Brennan had tried to climb in the past, but had been unsuccessful. We weren’t leaving this time until Brennan had made it to the top and spent a full 30 minutes taking turns trying. You can watch the videos below to see the results. It made me laugh at the competition between Brennan and Heather. Listen closely and you can hear Heather whispering at Brennan to ‘fall, fall, fall’, while Brennan is being Mr. Nice guy and trying to show his sister how to get to the top.

The day was topped off in normal fashion with a good old campfire in our backyard. The plan was to cook quesadillas over the campfire, but we eventually got rained out. Oh well, it was still a very memorable day.

Video of Brennan and Heather bouldering...

My awkward attempt (hey, I never told La Sportiva that I was a climber!)...

Click image for more photos from our hike at Frontenac Park...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Week of Oct 5-11

Training Summary:
~ I felt pretty good about my training last week with a solid 4 hour long run, a brisk 3+hr run with Keith at Frontenac Park and a few good 2hr runs. All in all, things felt great. I have a slight twinge in my right patellar tendon, plus have been fighting a cold for the past few days, so will be taking it pretty easy this coming week. I knew this was going to be the case anyhow since we are organizing the Sydenham Fall Trail Run this coming weekend. With things being pretty hectic this week I know that I’m not going to be able to get as much time to train or as much rest as normal.

Total # of hours this week: 17:04
Total # of runs this week: 10
2009 total # of hours: 500:10
2009 total # of days: 290
2009 total # of runs: 371
Streak: 7229 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ozark Trail 100

Well, I'm back into a regular training routine again and have already decided what's next.

I've signed up for the Ozark Trail 100mile race on November 7 in Missouri. This is a first year race that is on a point to point course. They drop you off at the start line and then you run on the Ozark Trail for 100 miles (101.5 miles actually) of single track trail until the finish line. The course looks hilly and technical...yummy!

I decided to do another 100miler this soon as I felt like I recovered relatively quickly from Haliburton and I really want to see how my body responds to another one so soon. It looks like there is going to be a very deep and competitive field, so it's going to be really tough holding back early on. While I had some clear set goals going into Haliburton, I honestly don't have any for the OT100 other than to run relaxed, enjoy the experience and learn from it for the future. I can't wait as the course looks incredible.

It's going to be pretty strange at this race as I will be totally on my own. No crew and no pacer. There aren't many drop bags available either, so I'll have to carry more food, water and gear with me along the way. Should be quite the adventure!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sydenham Fall Trail Run - Sold Out!

Less than two weeks to go before the Sydenham Fall Trail Run. The race is now full at it's 250 runner capacity. Thank you to everyone who has registered and we look forward to seeing you on race day.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week of Sept 28- Oct 4

Races of the Week:
A couple of big races this past week...

Run For The Toad:
Run for the Toad is the biggest trail race in Canada. Over 1000 runners racing at either 25km or 50km. Taylor Murphy had a great ultra debut in winning the 50km in a new course record of 3:23. Canada's top marathoner Reid Coolsaet won the 25km, also in a new course record of 1:28. The third course record of the day went to Ellie Greenwood in the women's 50km, smashing the old women's course record in a time of 3:54. Great races!
>>>Complete Results: click here

Grindstone 100miler:
A very gnarly 100miler in the southeast U.S. that is the brain child of Canadian Clarke Zealand who is currently living in Virginia. La Sportiva Mountain Running Team member Karl Meltzer made the trip from Utah and picked up yet another 100mile win this year in a new course record of 18:46.
>>>Complete Results: click here

PEC Marathon/Half Marathon:
While the PEC Marathon/Half Marathon is not a trail race or ultra, I just wanted to say congrats to friend and neighbour 'Barefoot Clive Morgan' for winning the Half Marathon overall. Clive ran the half in a great time of 1:22 and raced the entire way barefoot. This is the longest race he has done barefoot on the roads to date. (Note: No thanks Clive, I'll stick to the trails and grass for my barefooting!). It should also be mentioned that Clive is 50years young! Great job Clive.
>>>Complete Results: click here

Training Summary:
~ It felt good to get back into a somewhat normal training week. Early in the week I felt a little sluggish, but felt great as the week progressed. Looking forward to the next few weeks of training and then off to Banff for a fun filled week of Mountain Running during Sara's conference.
Total # of hours this week: 12:57
Total # of runs this week: 11
2009 total # of hours: 483:06
2009 total # of days: 283
2009 total # of runs: 361
Streak: 7222 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Friday, October 2, 2009

This Is Our Home!

This is a great song by Mike Plume that has been in my head all week.

I was thinking about it during my run and the fact that Canadians, by nature, sometimes don't tend to be as patriotic on the surface as we should be. We live in the best country in the world and there is nothing wrong with shouting it from the mountain tops from time to time.

I dare you to check out the video and tell me that you don't get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. A great song, by a very patriotic Canadian.