July 24, 2015

The Great Climate Race!

Most of my blog posts tend to be about races I've run or training updates, but this post is an all out promo of a new 10k (and 2k fun run!) that will be held in Vancouver, BC this coming November.  There are two main reasons that this is a race I'm super happy to support and try encourage you, the reader, to run!  Firstly The Great Climate Race is being organised by my friend Ben West.  Ben was a participant of the Kintec/ NSA marathon training group that I helped lead this past winter.  The first evening the group met on a dark and cold December evening there was a mass of excited runners.  But as is typical with these groups, each Sunday and Tuesday there seemed to be a few less folks, or folks who would only show up once in a while.  But each and every week (or actually two times a week) Ben would be there come rain or shine; despite this being his first marathon Ben had already fully grasped the fundamentals of training and a successful race day - consistency!  It was super to see him succeed after much hard work when he completed the BMO Vancouver marathon in early May.  So Ben is a runner and friend which is good enough reason to promo 'his' race but the even better reason is that The Great Climate Race is not just any old 10k race on the Vancouver seawall, but it is one with an environmental awareness and fund raising goal, specifically around solar power.

The Great Climate Race (10k and 2k) will be held on Sunday 8th November, starting at Second Beach in Vancouver's beautiful Stanley Park.  Full details of the event, and how to sign up, are here.  And to keep up to date with race happening and news, follow their facebook page here.

The event intends to increase public awareness of climate change while raising funds for local solar energy projects.  A portion of all registration fees go to one specific project (this year its for the Stanley Park Ecology Society) and all participants also have the opportunity to raise funds for additional projects through our peer to peer fundraising platform on our website.
There is more information as to why The Great Climate Race is focusing on solar power here.

In Ben's words, "We want our event to give everyone an opportunity to do something meaningful at the local level and give folks a sense of connection to viable climate solutions. We are hoping this event will help expand climate awareness and action beyond the "usual suspects" who take part in rallies and protests".

If you'd like to learn more there is a great article about November's Great Climate Race here.

Hope some of you can join The Great Climate Race on November 8th for a fun and fast (if you want it to be!) event with a great cause at its heart!

July 7, 2015

Stumbling from one race to the next. Now let's regroup :)

About 10 days ago I ran the Mont Blanc 42.2k.  Wow, it was a stunner of a course!  Bluebird skies, warm temperatures, glistening glaciers and flower filled alpine meadows.  It really could not have been more beautiful, but man oh man was my 4th place finish, in just over 5hrs, ugly.  Mont Blanc was just four weeks after Comrades so I knew it was unlikely to be a great day but I had hit as much trail time as I could to build some climbing and descending legs, and I think this helped ... but not enough.  It's a course that I think I could do well on (runnable sections and then some great powerhiking and semi-technical descents) but I'd need more focused training and fresher legs.  Wanting to fall asleep just 4k into a race never bodes well for a good day, but it's been a busy spring with travel, coaching work and ongoing hand rehab (from my bike accident back in March) and I did what I could.  I was so grateful to share some miles with Albert of Salomon Spain who motivated me along and I was very grateful for the crewing of my Salomon folks - Arnaud and Philipp especially.  And I must admit, misery loves company so when I saw that Blake (Salomon Australia) had dropped part way it made me feel better that I was not the only one having a bad day - sorry Blake, get better soon!  Mind you, Max King rocked the course for 3rd and he'd run Comrades too - so I don't really have any excuses.

The day after Mont Blanc a bunch of us Salomon folks headed to Font Romeu in the French Pyrenees for the week to prep for Kilians Classik 25k and 45k the following weekend, and generally spend sunny days talking shoes and gear, hanging out at 1800m and having fun as a team.  It was a super week despite the fact that is soon became evident that my niggling tibialis anterior was really not at all happy.  I spent more time with physio Arnaud than I did running, but I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to do that and I still got to see some great places and spend time with super people.  A huge thanks to Greg Vollet, our Salomon manager, for a super week and for supporting me when I was not able to run much.  Kilians Classik itself is a great celebration of trail running, and I at least managed the 10k fun run and the kids race on the Sunday (though I will admit I was happy to sweep the kids race rather than try stay ahead of some very fast kids!)

After a whirlwind 12 days in France I am now back home in North Van and have had to concede that I won't be racing Leadville 100 miler in late August.  This year so far has been very bumpy in terms of training due to general niggling pains and the bike accident.  Now I have to accept that Leadville is less than seven weeks away and I am semi-injured and not especially fit - not a great combo to head into a tough 100 miler at altitude.  Leadville will be there another year and it is still very much on my bucket list but for now I need to not think about races and trying to squeeze in training, but instead think about rehab and fitness.  Hopefully I can have a better second half of the year.  In the meantime, here are some nice pictures of fun time in France.

A bientot
Ellie x
Mont Blanc finish - no way I was going to walk over a finish line even if it was uphill!  Credit: Drew Pattison.

Strong Salomon ladies atop a Pyreneen peak.

10k easy run - just happy to run.  Credit: Jordi Saragossa.

Silly celebrations with Martina Valmassoi.  Credit: Jordi Saragossa.

Mont Blanc: Misery in beautiful surroundings.  Credit: Jordi Saragossa.

My buddy Jan.  Great fun times, just don't mention that I'm old enough to be his mother (Salomon is taking good care of the future of trail running!).  Credit: self.

Yes, that is Mo Farah.  Yes, I was like a giddy school kid.  Credit: Jordi Saragossa.

Not bad for a race finish line after about 2700m of climbing and 1600m of descent.  Mont Blanc marathon, Chamonix.  Credit: self.

Remi, Blake, Martina and Jan cheering in Kilians Classik 45k runners.  Credit: self.

Yes, I went down this at slug pace on a dodgy leg, no - it was probably not a good idea :)  Credit: self.

Font Romeu wild trails.  Credit: self

Kristina, one of my coaching clients, rocked the 80k for 6th at Mont Blanc and then cheered me to the finish of the 42k the next day :)  Credit: Drew Pattison.

French food - mmmmm :)  Credit: self.

Leading out the kids race at Kilians Classik.  Credit: Jordi Saragossa.

Chamonix: stunning.  Credit: self.

Tiptoeing on a short walk on dodgy leg :)  Credit: Jordi Saragossa.

June 7, 2015

Comrades, Oh Comrades

Comrades, oh Comrades.  It's pretty hard to have a bad Comrades day because it is such an amazing event.  Did I run fast?  No, not really.  Did I place well?  No, not really.  Am I glad that I raced?  Yes, absolutely.

For how my race went down, head over to the wonderful website that is iRunFar.com by clicking here:

Otherwise, here are some photo memories of another great trip to South Africa.  Big thanks the my main sponsor Salomon, their X-Series road shoe was ideal for a race like Comrades, and big thanks to my South African run club, Nedbank, for their super hospitality, support and friendship as always.  Needless to say, a fair few Clif gels were consumed in the 88km between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and my stomach stayed happy all day.  Huge thanks to Sundog Eyewear for their supper sunnies and financial support in getting me the rehab I needed after my broken hand in March.  And thanks as always to Flora Health, to keep me healthy and recovering well, and to Petzl, who always light the way :)  I couldn't do all this racing and traveling without the support of my sponsors, so please excuse the commercial plug!  Now back to those photos ...

Salomon X-series loving the South African hills :)

Just some of the Nedbank elite men

Sunset over the Durban soccer stadium

Some of the Nedbank elite

Live TV interview with SABC pre-race

Team Scotland!  With Joasia Zakrzewski

Sharing early miles with team mate Charne Bosman, Charne went on to finish strong in 2nd

Durban sunrise over the Indian Ocean

Max & I hobbled along for a fun Salomon photo shoot the day after the race :)

Smiling sunrise

Early miles in the dark.  Photo: Kelvin Trautman/ Salomon Running

Fun times at the Salomon store in Umhlanga/ Durban pre-race.  Photo: Kelvin Trautman/ Salomon Running

Salomon team mates!  With Max King.  Photo: Kelvin Trautman/ Salomon Runnning
Oh so relaxed the afternoon pre-race :) Photo: Kelvin Trautman/ Salomon Runnning

Pre-race radio interview at the race expo

TV finish, yes - the whole 12 hours of Comrades is broadcast live on national South African TV!

With Jackie of Salomon Running, thanks for being such a great host!

Motoring through the (55) miles

Nick & his Nedbank ladies.  We took 7 out of the top 10 positions :)

May 4, 2015

Testing times

Having got the green light from my surgeon a few weeks ago I asked myself the question, 'Can I train for Comrades 87k in seven weeks?'  Well, and lets' be honest there those seven weeks included any sort of taper so in realty, I had far less than seven weeks to put in a solid bunch of hard, but sensible, graft.  It was time to start ramping up the miles, but also time to be mindful that if I leapt back into too much too soon then I might end up injured or just plain over worked.

First focus - just go out and run.  A few days after getting the 'ok' to run I did a 33k road run, usually this would be nothing to write home about but man oh man, I ended that run feeling beat like after my first marathon some 13 years ago.  Hmm, this was no boding well.  But it seemed that with each and every run my body very quickly remembered the usual paces that I put it through and I soon was ramping up the miles, adding quality and recovering much quicker.  Muscle memory and rested legs are two very wonderful things!

I was also very keen to race BMO Vancouver Marathon, which was this past weekend, afterall it was four weeks pre-Comrades so why on earth would I go for a long solo training run when I could join in race fun with many friends, all of which knew I had been injured and thus possibly not in the best shape of my life?  Everyone said I would be fine, but I went into 'race' day with 110kms in my legs from the 5 days prior - not exactly the usual taper.  Those 110kms included my first attempt at a tempo and a speed workout, so they weren't all easy miles.  But I had to remember that BMO was a stepping stone and not a goal race in itself, there wasn't the luxury of time to taper for this, and afterall - it was destined to be a hard training effort, not a race.

All in all BMO Vancouver Marathon yesterday was a huge success on many fronts:

- I had talked myself into the belief that a 3:00:00 finish might be realistic.  But I have the benefit of more than 50 marathons/ ultras so when I opened in a 3:55/km rather than the planned 4:15/km I ran on feel, and ended up with a 3:56/km average - pretty good pacing.

With Helen, Anne-Marie and Kristin, just some of my super VFAC team mates.  Photo: Guy Smith

- 2:47:23 finishing time, with a negative split to boot (I passed half way in 1:24 something - still not sure of the official split).

Cruising at the half way mark.  Photo: Dave Burroughs

- Whilst I not surprisingly lacked that extra gear (no taper, heavy legs) I didn't slow at the end - yes, there was no sprint finish but in my final 5kms I maintained my steady pace, good enough.

Focused in the closing kms.  Photo: Rita Ivanauskas

- I'd arranged to have a friend meet me at the finish line to go for a 10k cool down, after a quick awards ceremony (I placed 3rd female overall), off we trotted for a blissful, easy 50 minute run in the hilly Stanley Park trails.  Were my legs fresh?  No.  Could I easily run that 10k?  Yes.

So I now have one more week of really solid training and then it will be gradually reduced volume to prep for Comrades.  I am so excited to be heading to South Africa again, and whilst I might not be in tip top shape and perfectly prepared, BMO was an excellent benchmark of fitness that shows that I should be able to post a respectable showing at The Ultimate Human Race on May 31st :)  I'm excited, motivated and keen to just race as best as I can.

Pumped with my time, how good I felt, and that whilst my hand is still in need of much therapy - at least I am back running.  Photo: Salomon Store West Vancouver

April 2, 2015

A Bumpy Flight

My oh my, how did April 2nd happen?  The year so far seems to have just flown by, though to be fair it has been a bit of a bumpy flight so far!  Firstly, please excuse if there are a few typos in this post but two weeks ago I was commuting on my bike to get to a massage therapy appointment when 'bam!'  A car abruptly cut in front of me, I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting them and before I knew it I was flying over my handlebars, hitting the tarmac and going in an ambulance to ER to find out that I had three broken bones in my hand.  Left hand typing is hard!  Darn, I never did make it to that massage appointment but I did make it to surgery four days later for a whole bunch of metalware to be put in my hand as it turns out the breaks are pretty severe.

Not conducive to running!
I LOVE my bike!
This week I was meant to be in Mallorca for Salomon Advanced Week, but instead my surgeon made me stay home for some follow ups and hand therapy.  Boo :(  But do check out Salomon Running on Facebook to see some awesome pics of what my team mates are up to and what cool new products they are testing.  I'm so honoured to be part of this team and looking forward to Advanced Week 2016!

Salomon Advanced Week

Before the injury, I started out the year as I often do with the Fat Ass 50k here in Vancouver.  Having not run much in December (end of season down time) it was a bit of a slow sufferfest of a day but I had the company of great friends Kim and Sammy, who refused to let me drop back and so good chatter was had great times shared.  Thanks guys!

with Kick Ass Kim and Super Sammy

January was then all about build up and return to speed and at my run club workouts I sometimes found my groove, and I sometimes didn't.  But I've been running long enough to know that I just need to keep plugging away and so that is what I did.  VFAC interval workouts are a guaranteed sufferfest, but shared with great friends we all smile at the end and come back every week for more.  In mid February I raced the Pacific Road Runners First Half Half Marathon and was reasonably happy with my 80min finishing time, slower than the year before but good enough and a great workout to progress my fitness.  Once again Sammy and I found ourselves side by side, and then around 15k we picked up our friend Dave and he jumped aboard our little pain train to the finish line.  There is nothing like running the last 5k of a half at your absolute fitness potential to know what suffering is about :)

First Half (credit Jay Klassen)
post speed interval workout with Tim

Of course with the current state of running (none until my surgeon gives the green light) who knows if the Comrades will be a-go in less than two months time.  I am not naive enough to think I can win with this interruption to training but the Comrades has never been about winning for me.  I love the Comrades with an absolute passion and if I feel I can put on a respectable performance on May 31st then I it will be an honour to represent Salomon and Nedbank through the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

with Amy after Comrades 2014

I will be participating at the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 3rd in one form or another.  On April 30th I'll be speaking at the race expo (about the Comrades), on May 2nd I'll be hanging out at the Clif Bar booth at the expo, and on race day I'll either be running, cheering my Kintec/ NSA clinic runners, or helping out the race organizers.  Keep an eye out of my Facebook page for details, I'm looking forward to chatting to many runners over the race weekend.

And one final note - I have a great deal if you are looking at buying some sunglasses.  My super sponsor, Sundog Eyewear, are offering 25% off sales on www.sundogeyewear.com until April 30th if you enter code ELLIE25 (US & Canada only).  They will also provide me with a 15% kickback from any of these sales which will be a great help for medical costs associated with this darn broken hand.

Kristin and I wearing our Sundogs whilst we are a mobile aid station for our clinic marathoners-in-training

Oh, and one very final note - a huge thank you to all my sponsors and friends, who have been so helpful and understanding when I can't run :)  Ok, time to sign off now - that was a long post for typing with my 'wrong' hand!

Happy trails,

"Embrace your biggest disappointments, build on your greatest achievements, keep your head held high and you cannot help move forward".

March 11, 2015

The Joys of and the Reasons why Anti Doping control in Sports is a must

Congratulations!  Your prize for winning the IAU World 100k is US$2000 and the pleasure of being added to the WADA Whereabouts register!  Woo hoo!  So the IAU World 100k was back in mid November and last week I was advised that I need to report "Whereabouts" as of next week, but I've still to receive the prize money (I'm told that it is on it's way!), I guess in the grand scheme of thing I do agree with this order of priority because trying to keep doping cheats out of athletics as much as possible is absolutely essential for the whole reputation and well being of our sport.  I know that I for one don't want to watch races where I am looking at competitors and being suspicious that they are using 'a little extra' to help them perform to their best, because then it's not their best, it's some artificial best that is cheating clean athletes of the accolades, the recognition and the earnings that they deserve.

So what is the "Whereabouts" register?  Basically it is a system where an athlete has to submit online, in 3 month installments, their overnight address as well as a 60 minute time slot every single day (between 5am and 11pm) until at some time in the coming years when the athlete will be advised that they are being removed from the register.  An athlete also needs to report the dates and locations of all their competitions and there is encouragement, but not requirement, to report regular activities such as training sessions, regular gym workout locations etc.  Once that information is submitted then an anti-doping officer can show up at any time to perform doping control (a blood and/ or urine sample).  It is essential that an athlete is at their daily 60 min slot location as if they miss an anti doping officer showing up for this slot then this is recorded, and there is only the 'chance' to miss three such visits in a year before it is classed as an anti doping violation and the athlete will be banned from competition for two years!  In all other slots (regular activities, competitions etc) the athlete must provide a blood/ urine sample if an anti doping officer shows up, but if the athlete is not at these locations when they said they would be then this is not classed as a missed test - phew!

All this information is submitted on an online system, which is fortunately quite easy to use, and can be updated at last minute either by going back onto the system, using an iPhone app or text messaging new details to a specific phone number.  Given most athletes travel a certain amount and often don't have regular schedules the ability to adjust submitted "Whereabouts" information is essential.

Of course it goes without saying that the whole concept of anti doping control is to test an athlete for banned substances which could potentially increase their athletic performance, so from now on there will be no random medication popping for me, instead I will need to check before I take any medication to see if it is on the 'banned list'.  If a medication is banned then the first port of call is to try to find a similar medication that is not banned, and failing that an athlete needs to obtain a therapeutic exemption before they can take a substance that is on the banned list.  I'm just hoping that I stay healthy :)

The whole World Anti Doping Association set up works within the frame of the events that are under the banner of the IAAF.  Hence a runner can win any number of trail races such as UTMB, Western States, TNF50 etc and they will not come under the radar of being added to the "Whereabouts" register, but as soon as an athlete starts choosing to compete at IAAF events then there is the 'risk' that they may get asked to submit 'Whereabouts".  If an athlete is asked to submit "Whereabouts" information but does not want to then the only way out is to officially retire from competing in IAAF events in the future, and I think even if someone such as myself did that, there would be a cloud of suspicion around that athlete (and rightly so) and even non-IAAF events would likely not be keen that that athlete competes in their races.  Equally I think it is important to say that I 'chose' to compete at an IAAF event, because if any athlete really does not want to potentially be added to the "Whereabouts" register then they can simply not compete at those events.  It's rather along the lines of 'if you don't like the rules then don't play the game'.

Of course I am not overly excited to have been added to the register; it's time consuming and extra admin I'd prefer not to deal with, but it is the price that we have to pay to maintain the integrity of our sport and keep the cheats out, and so for that reason I'm happy to comply with the necessary procedures (though ask me that again when I first get tested as my usual 60 minute slot will be very early morning when I am sure to be at home ... and in bed!)