Magical Day Hiking to Boom Lake.

Summer to winter in Alberta seems to go by in about two weeks max. We get a brief glimpse of gorgeous fall colours and then, BAM, it’s gone. Edmonton has had frost and a bit of snow here and there, but nothing that has stuck around, so by heading to the mountains this weekend it felt like we were jumping straight into winter. The mountains have been dusted with their first blanket of snow and with the blue sky hovering above and making everything look magical, it was the perfect day to head out to Banff National Park with my dad and brother. We were in Calgary for a family weekend… so we politely excused ourselves for part of Saturday to go hiking!

There are so many trails I have yet to visit in Rockies, so usually I start with some criteria in order to narrow it down. This day we were working with limited hours to get out there, hike, and get back before an early family dinner. We were prepared for snow, but not excessive amounts and likely wouldn’t have the gear for icy summits. I, personally, wanted to wander the forest and not do as much climbing as I normally do. That led us to Boom Lake, a 10km roundtrip wander through the forest with just 800ft of elevation gain, leading to a gorgeous mountain lake. We couldn’t have picked a more beautiful shoulder season day to take on this hike.

IT WAS INCREDIBLE. Soft snow blanketed the trees, surrounding us for just over 5km through the trees as we headed to Boom Lake. It took us just over an hour to reach the lake. We chatted (me, to myself), and sang (me, also to myself), and followed moose tracks in the snow as my dad, my brother, and I wandered along the trail. We were the first car in the parking lot at around 10:00am, and by the time we were on the return we passed well over 30 people and came back to a full parking lot. I am always grateful for trails to ourselves and the peace of the wild.

It was a cool day, hovering below -3C for the entire day on the trail but the sun shining left us warm as we hiked. Reaching the lake we encountered some wind coming off the lake and paused long enough to take photos and eat snacks before we turned around and headed back to the parking lot the way we came. I would have wanted to stay at the beautiful lake longer but the chilly wind left us wanting to get moving to stay warm.

We even had some adorable company while we snacked. This guy was all too eager to join us for lunch and check out what we were having.

As we returned along the trail, my brother kept his camera out and we took photos as we hiked back. It was pretty much my dad walking at a steady pace along the trail and my brother and I trying to do random photos in the snow and then racing to catch up to him. It was just a wonderful day to spend with two of my favourite dudes and I am so grateful for the hours we were able to spend together. Even if my brother and I just spend 3 hours quoting The Office and Buzzfeed Unsolved videos.

It took us about the same time to get back to the car, as the fairly flat hike is a lovely out-and-back. There is a turn-off to Taylor Lake about 2km from the parking lot so I might need to head back and get to that lake as well. Close to the parking lot there is a magical little bridge that crosses a tiny creek. How cute is this!

A few hours in the forest has more health benefit for me, not just physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, than any other possible form of indoor exercise. You just can’t leave the snow, fresh air, and mountains, without a smile on your face. It’s impossible. We jumped back into the car to head back to Calgary, thankful for how close we are to these incredible places.

Photography throughout the post is by Stuart Kevin Murray.

TransRockies Run Training Recap: Weeks 5-8!

I remember when I first started working with my absolute favourite supervisor a few months ago and we were drafting our work plan. We started by talking about how a lot of our work is challenging and scary and has a lot of potential, so to do it justice, we needed to set BHAG, or “Big Hairy Audacious Goals.” Jim Collins writes about the concept here, but the idea is that setting a vision should be both terrifying and exciting. This is the exact feeling I get when I think about the TransRockies Run in August. It’s both terrifying and exciting and that’s what makes it such a great goal and vision to have as I set out to train for it.

September was officially the first month with the Aerobic Power crew. Until our official training program begins, we will partake in monthly seminars related to running and more specified as we get closer to the race. This month was an introductory presentation on the TransRockies race from the Race Director himself. The goal was to answer questions from those who were either signed up or thinking about signing up. He talked about what the race is, why we should do it, and what to expect. It was super informational and made me ecstatic that I was already registered and heading there in under a year. The presentation was unfortunately on the day that huge and devastating changes were announced at work and I wasn’t in the greatest head space to stick around for beer and socializing after but I’m glad I went to at least hear more about the run.

I feel like I was just writing my recap for the first four weeks of training. The past few weeks were consistent with running and hiking, though there was absolutely zero speed work or structured workouts. I was thrilled to be able to have so many wonderful autumn runs that I spent my time enjoying the scenery and listening to podcasts instead of doing sprints or intervals. I had one of my scariest running experiences EVER during these four weeks, where I ran into a bison, and I’m working to balance teaching spin class and running in order to add a dose of strength training as well through the winter.

Here is what weeks 5 to 8 looked like for me!

Week 5 – September 11 – 17, 2017 – 33.12 miles

Monday: 60 minute spin class

Tuesday: 60 minute spin class

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: 6.42 mile run (9:09 min/mile)

Friday: 6.0 miles (8:58 min/mile)

Saturday: 10.5 trail miles (~10:10 min/mile)

Sunday: 10.2 miles (9:29 min/mile)

Week 6 – September 18 – 24, 2017 – 26.03 miles

Monday: 60 minute spin class

Tuesday: 60 minute spin class + 4.0 miles (9:18 min/mile)

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: 6.0 miles (9:23 min/mile)

Friday: 12.16 miles (9:24 min/mile)

Saturday: Fisher Peak hiking 3.87 miles (2402 ft. elevation gain)

Sunday: 3.0 mile walk

Week 7 – September 25 – October 1, 2017 – 30.83 miles

Monday: 60 minute spin class

Tuesday: 60 minute spin class

Wednesday: 7.0 miles (8:48 min/mile)

Thursday: 4.3 miles (8:30 min/mile)

Friday: 4.45 miles (8:32 min/mile)

Saturday: 12.08 miles (9:31 min/mile)

Sunday: 3.0 miles (8:46 min/mile) + 30 minutes strength training + 30 minutes stairmaster intervals

Week 8 – October 2 – 8, 2017 – 32.75 miles

Monday: 60 minute spin class

Tuesday: 60 minute spin class

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: 4.01 miles (9:17 min/mile)

Friday: 6.04 miles (9:02 min/mile)

Saturday: 16.28 miles (9:42 min/mile)

Sunday: 6.42 miles (8:36 min/mile) treadmill hill pyramids

CURRENTLY…

Latest gear purchase: “Soul Pancake” by Rainn Wilson. Okay, so not technically a gear purchase but it is something that has helped me connect my soul back to running and why I enjoy it so much so I can practice not losing that.

Favourite fuel: GFB (Gluten-Free Bites) in Dark Chocolate Coconut

Proudest moment: Safely escaping the bison.

What I’m working to improve: Strength training that doesn’t leave me sore for days

Feeling about TRR: Cautiously confident about how I managed to have a solid four weeks of consistent running.

Thanksgiving & A Loooooong Run.

Doesn’t it always seem to feel like long weekends go by just as fast as regular ones? I was able to get just the right amount of procrastination and lazy mornings in before tackling the chores I’ve been avoiding, as well as spent a ton of time with wonderful family, friends, and new fur friends. It was a crisp and windy weekend in Alberta, but with only a skiff of snow, we avoided the usual chaos weather that tends to occur on this long weekend.

On Saturday I wanted to tackle a bit of a bigger distance than what I’ve been running lately. Most of my runs during the week were short and after another stressful work week I was ready to put my headphones in, lace up, tune out, and just go. I attempted to stay in the river valley for most of my run so I could stay sheltered from the wind and enjoy the last few whispers of autumn colours that were adorning the trees. It was a tad cool and I needed a wind breaker and long tights, but it was the run I needed.

I had lots of podcasts queued up and I was able to let my mind wander as my legs put in the distance. I felt my hips stiffening up as I finished out the last three miles but for the most part I felt really good. It was nice and slow and I had my jacket covered my watch for most of the run so I didn’t even feel tempted to look at how fast I was running. I just didn’t care. I have been switching up my Asics 1000s and my Brooks Ravennas because I can’t decide which ones I prefer (I need a new pair and can’t decide which to invest in) or if I should continue to rotate and enjoy the change-up. They’ve both been pretty good to me, but I’m leaning towards the lighter, wider Ravennas after having such a successful long run in them.

I genuinely can’t remember what I did the rest of my Saturday.

Must have been good.

On Sunday I ventured to the gym, away from the blowing snow, and did 10km on the treadmill, completing pyramid hill repeats. I did a warm-up at 0%, then did a minute at 1%, then back to 0%. Next I did a minute at 1%, a minute at 2%, back to a minute at 1%, then return to 0% for a minute recovery. Then, 1-2-3-2-1, 1-2-3-4-3-2-1, and finally, 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1. I wasn’t breaking any speed records but it helped pass time on the treadmill to give myself the challenge of the hills.

After showering up from my gym run I drove to my parents’ to pick up my brother and we followed our parents’ out to a family friends’ farm over an hour outside of Edmonton. We spent the afternoon relaxing by the bonfire, snacking, laughing, and VISITING KITTENS. The farm had two cats that had recently given birth to a total of THIRTEEN kittens. They were so tiny and adorable! I am not really a cat person but not even I can resist the cuteness of tiny little kittens. While the feast of a Thanksgiving dinner was being prepared, my brother and I wandered around the farm and he documented the one time this month I put on lipstick.

After eating far too many of the pumpkin donuts that my brother made (yeah, you read that right… be jealous) and spending a lovely evening at the farm with family and family friends, my brother and I hit the highway home.

On Monday I tackled a strength workout and forty minutes on the stairmaster to give my body a tiny break from running. Forty minutes on the stairmaster is 39 more than I need to break a sweat. That thing is killer. I love it. Well, I hate it, but I love it. I’d like to think that the guy on the stairmaster next to me was checking me out or something but I think he was genuinely concerned by how much I was sweating. I showered after my workout and headed out to my boss’s house to visit because he’d truly be ever-so-disappointed if he didn’t get to see me all five days of work this week.

Just kidding.

HE HAS PUPPIES. He casually mentioned last week at work that he had seven chocolate and black lab puppies at his house that were just weeks old. If anyone is looking to win a popularity contest in any setting, I recommend you tell people you have lab puppies. He invited me and a couple of colleagues out to his house to see, cuddle, play, and hang out with the puppies. SIGN ME UP. As my colleagues bailed one by one due to family commitments (I know… lame) I wound up being the only one to visit but that just meant more puppies for me. My boss, his wife, and his kids are absolutely wonderful and we spent almost two hours in their front yard chatting and playing with the puppies. By the end of the afternoon I had four of them sleeping my lap.

My foot fell asleep. One of the puppies peed on me. Quite possibly a second one peed on me. My butt was wet from sitting on the ground. IT WAS SO WORTH IT. I wish there was a puppy program where you can just spend a few hours a week playing with puppies. I would be so much less stressed out. They were just adorable and it was so fun to basically be their chew toy for a couple of hours.

Kittens, puppies, and running, oh my! Tell me about your long weekend?!