Grand to Grand Ultra: the BIG Day

Day 3 – the LONG DAY

Certainly lots of excitement and nerves today. There was talk around camp that if you could complete Day 3 then it was very likely you’d complete the entire event. This also put in to perspective how hard today could be. Today’s cut-off was 34hrs, with 85km’s to complete. This stage would consist of canyons, caves and lots of sand dunes!

Day 3 - G2G

Again, the beginning of this day started with a serious climb. From the start, I found myself focusing on one check point at a time. There were 8 check points between the start line and finish line with each being approximately 10km’s. Today it was obvious that some people were showing the effects of the previous 2 days.

Some of the issues runners were facing:

  • severe blisters
  • chaffing
  • dehydration
  • fueling issues
  • overheating
  • exhaustion (physical/mental)
  • physical pain (imbalances/injuries)

Starting at check point 1, I believe the first runner of the day pulled out. This continued throughout the day. It was sad to hear about another person pulling out as there is so much sacrifice and effort that goes in to getting to the start line that you want to see everyone get to the finish!

As you can imagine, with 85km’s to cover there would be a variety of terrain that we would be crossing. Each section between check points was spectacularly different!

A glimpse into all the beauty of the day

FB-0927-Stage3-125a

FB-0927-Stage3-118d

FB-0927-Stage3-100

FB-0929-Stage4-145a

 

 

 

 

 

FB-0927-Stage3-118b

The terrain for this day consisted of 75% sand! In addition to that we ran on hard packed gravel road, 2 highway crossings, packed sand with rocks, sandy tracks, paved road, and trails.FB-0927-Stage3-118a

Part of our run today brought us through the Best Friends Animal Society. This is the largest animal sanctuary in the US and provides shelter and care for over 2000 dogs, cats and other animals. They work nationwide in outreach programs with shelters and other rescue groups promoting pet adoption, spay and neutering and humane education programs.

FB-0927-Stage3-145b

So much sand!

FB-0927-Stage3-143a

It was difficult to train for all the sand I had heard we’d be running on. We just do not have sand like this in Ottawa, Canada!

My coach was not concerned though. He said it needs to be experienced, you “feel” how you should run, land, respond to the sand. He believed I would succeed.

Sand as far as the eye could see!

Sand as far as the eye could see!

FB-0927-Stage3-140b

IMG_2294

Gary and I managed to run together again today and I think by now we figured we worked well as a team.

Starting at check point 6 through 8 there were 2 tents set up to allow people to sleep if they wanted to before heading out to the dunes. At check point 6 we picked up another running buddy who’s team members had dropped out earlier (Matt). We also connected with another Canadian woman (Crystal).

Before we could change our minds the four of us headed out into the dark to get this day finished! Matt was back for a second time as he pulled out of the race at this stage in 2014. Crystal was back for a second time as she wanted to experience the sand dunes at night (her previous go at G2G she slept at this stage and headed out to the dunes during the day). Gary had ran G2G in 2014 with a large group that had a completely different experience for him. My plan before arriving to G2G was to run through continuously, regardless of when I arrived at the dunes.

this is all we could see

this is all we could see

My coach Ray Zahab instructed me on making my own shoe covers to protect my feet from sand (and of course that meant minimizing blisters). Seriously, not one ounce of sand got in my shoes with this set up!!

my DYI shoe covers with Inov-8 gaiters!

my DYI shoe covers with Inov-8 gaiters!

Crystal taking it all in!

Crystal taking it all in!

Capturing as much as I can! Spectacular Night Sky

Capturing as much as I can! Spectacular Night Sky

Once we finally made it through the sand dunes, we hit more sandy track! Then we hit some pretty nasty dense vegetation that ripped into our legs. Thankfully Gary took the lead here and I tucked safely in behind him when I could. This proved to be quite entertaining for me!! It was in this area that we spread out and eventually it would be just Gary and I again.

24+ hours into the day

18+ hours into the day

There might have been some whining happening here, it was my turn to take the lead ūüėČ

I believe somewhere between checkpoint 7 and 8 we managed to catch up to Matt. The three of us stuck together for the last 8-10km and decided to run in together!

I gained some energy near the end and went ahead slightly but stopped and waiting for the boys because we had endured so much together!

final push!

We did it!! Day 3 Completed

We did it!! Day 3 Completed

You would think I would have been exhausted and crashed for hours but I really couldn’t sleep. Instead I ate and cheered on others coming in. Every check point we found out someone else (sometimes a few people) had dropped out. At night they posted names of those who decided not to continue. Today that number was high. I guess statistically this might be common but it made me sad knowing many had to stop.

Day 4 (which is when we arrived back to camp) was a day reserved for relaxing and recovery. Te race organizers surprised everyone by bringing in Coke and ice cream!!

Camp Day 4

Camp Day 4

I hoped that with the lack of sleep and pure exhaustion that had now hit me I’d sleep hard tonight…..music would be blaring again for a 6am wake up.

Photo Credits: a mix of my own personal photos and the official photographer for Grand to Grand Ultra.

fb-0927-stage3-118a

Let’s Get This Started – Grand to Grand Ultra

How do you start a 273km run? Just like any other run, one foot in front of the other ūüôā It seemed like forever to arrive at the start line and then suddenly Day 1 was here!

Day 1

what became my corner in the tent

what became my corner in the tent

I think most of us were awake before the 6am music started playing. This was our first night and morning adjusting to sharing a tent with strangers. There was snoring, rustling mattresses, zippers opening for middle of the night bathroom needs, etc. ¬†We were awake, trying to be polite and discrete as we tried to get organized to run almost 50km’s for Day 1.

myself, Lisa and Gary

myself, Lisa and Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jar of Hope - Team Jamesy

Jar of Hope – Team Jamesy

I had arranged to meet up with 2 runners, Lisa and Gary, to see if our pace allowed us to run the day together. There was such an energy at the start line, lots of excitement and nerves. This is where I was first introduced to Jar of Hope and why this team was running. I listened to James share about how he was literally running to save his sons life. I was inspired by his story, in his fight and would later connect with James to get involved.

warming up - first km of Day 1

warming up – first km of Day 1

Back to the start ūüôā ¬†We headed out from a remote location on the north rim of the Grand Canyon (altitude 5344 feet). Before we could think about it,139 runners set out to complete the 49.6kms required for Day 1. Previous Grand to Grand competitors shared that the first day could be brutal: it was flatter, a lot of the same terrain and full on sun, oh and consisted of a cacti minefield! They were not wrong. The temperature was actually not that bad, with a high I believe of 24¬įC, but with no shade to be found it was certainly hot!

cacti1

The cacti were a tad sneaky! I’ve never seen such a variety of cacti before. Some could be avoided but there were some little ones that were difficult to see and if you stepped on them it could go through your shoe. At one point I had one leap out from behind me and attach itself to my leg (or at least that is what it seemed like ūüôā ). It must have been loose on the ground and got kicked up by my foot. Thankfully, it did not really attach and was easily removed.

Canadian Gal Pals

Canadian Gal Pals

There were 24 countries represented with the 139 participants, 11 Canadians. Yvonne and Crystal were fellow Canadian gal pals with whom I had the privilege of connecting with on the course periodically.

 

 

 

There were a variety of challenges on this day, however, heading into camp stands out. We were still dealing with cacti but now there was a barbed wire fence thrown in for what seemed miles. Instinctively, I wanted to grab hold of this fence to help me, to offer some support, this seemed particularly cruel to me! ¬†I was tired, hot, not thinking clearly and now had to remind myself continually to not grab hold of that convenient fence beside me ūüôā

so many times I wanted to grab the fence!

so many times I wanted to grab the fence!

...Don't doubt it, don't doubt it Victory is in your veins...

…Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in your veins…

 

Lisa and I managed to stay with Gary the entire day, until the end, where we ran ahead listening to Katy Perry’s “Rise” on speaker as we crossed the finished line.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2

Remember the cacti? Well arriving into Camp after Day 1 it was obvious that we would be sleeping on top of many cacti! This made me nervous sleeping as I had an air mattress and heard that in previous years some had been punctured. I did not sleep well at all and woke up numerous times afraid to puncture the mattress (even though I had a tarp down to help provide an extra barrier).

Day two: climbed out of Camp 1 and ended up down in Camp 2

Day Two: climbed out of Camp 2 with a big decent to Camp 3

This morning we would spend a good portion climbing. The reality of what we were in for began to set in. I found Day 2 to be extremely hot and hoped my plan for fueling and hydrating was going to work!

These views though!!

These views though!!

2016-09-26_23-31-14_richardsonThe landscape was truly spectacular, like nothing I had ever seen before. Gary and I had decided to stick together for another day and had started to fall in to a bit of a rhythm. We were figuring out our strengths and weaknesses and how to push each other. We started seeing “regulars” at check points and running periodically with other runners who we would pass and then they’d pass us again later on.

2016-09-27_02-40-23_richardson

Day 2 Completed!

Although no one had dropped out on Day 1 (a first for G2G), today 5 competitors had decided to not continue. For all the competitors participating this was not good news, we really did want to see everyone finish.

Resting up, so I can start Day 3

Resting up, so I can start Day 3

Coming up….Day 3 and beyond…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand to Grand Ultra – Getting to the Start Line

The Grand to Grand Ultra (G2G) surpassed any thoughts or expectations I may have had about this adventure.

Its been about a year since I first heard about G2G. I was ending 2015 with a sincere desire to inspire others to chase dreams and to not limit themselves. My desire to run G2G was to demonstrate that we can dream big and choose an outrageous goal, make a plan and work hard to achieve it. This race was beyond my comfort level and certainly outside of any experience I had as a runner.

No sleep but all smiles!

Day 2 of BBU

Participating in the Bad Beaver Ultra (BBU) and the 100K i2P Run proved to be 2 of the best training events I could have done. The BBU gave me the confidence of running a multi-stage semi-supportive ultra. I also gained experience with having an extremely bad run day followed up by an incredible run day. This helped me realize that I could push hard and get through a difficult day, rest/sleep and and do it all over again.

i2p night runJust two weeks after the BBU I attempted my first 100km run (i2P). The goal of this race was to gain experience running at night (the first 50km), but I had every intention of completing it. During the night portion of the run I experienced an upset stomach from about 5km’s on, and extreme knee pain for at least the last 25km’s. ¬†I took off to start the next 50km’s before my coach could talk me out of it, after all we accomplished the primary goal. The pain was so bad during the next 23km’s I had to limp going downhills, eventually it was continuous pain. I chose to pull out at 73kms (after some tears) as this was intended for training and was not my goal race (perhaps I’m maturing??) ¬†I had never experienced this kind of pain and was concerned about an injury preventing me from running G2G. This race gave me incredible mental training and confidence that I could keep going even if I experienced pain.

Both of these races were in August, so by the beginning of September, I was struggling to get out for my long runs. I mentally was feeling exhausted and my life was incredibly busy. I managed a few more quality runs, but not as many as I would have liked. I worried I wouldn’t be ready, began to doubt myself, my training, etc..¬†It came down to making sure I was mentally in a positive place, so I focused on getting my head ready!

I headed down to Kanab, Utah on Monday to get acclimatized to the altitude and adjust to the dry heat (race start was the following Sunday). Runners began arriving throughout the week and it was nice to connect with others who were about to experience this amazing race.

little shake out run

little shake out run

Some I ran with during the week to loosen up and explore, others I had either lunch or dinner with. To my surprise, there were many ¬†first time stage racers. Of course there were many experienced and elite runners as well. I loved hearing everyone’s stories as to why they were taking on this challenge, it put me at ease.

My Gold Sticker!

My Gold Sticker!

The Grand to Grand Ultra is a self-supported race requiring you to carry everything you need for the 7 days, including food. A tent and hot water was provided at camp every night (and morning) but everything else was your responsibility. The mandatory gear check-in was Friday afternoon, runners were given a gold sticker if they had everything necessary.

My bag weighed in at 23.2 lbs, I believe 10lbs of that was food ūüôā Many of the people I was chatting with had bags weighing approximately 13-16lbs. Of course, this caused me to second guess my gear/food and I wanted to eliminate more weight but I had crazy light gear and I was sure I needed the food ūüôā I purged a little more and think I came back starting around 22 lbs. Turns out the average weight for bags was just over 19lbs.

My coach called me and gave a big pep talk and told me to trust the plan and follow it! He convinced me that I would be happy I didn’t get rid of things and would need the food to fuel properly to get through the event. So, I did what I was told and more than once I said to myself during the race, “Ray, you were right”!

Friday evening was the welcome dinner and a chance to meet all the runners, volunteers and of course race directors. It was a fun evening, but I think we were all extremely antsy to get started! We were given our race bibs, tent mate list, race booklet and other essentials for the race. Much to my surprised I was sharing a tent with my fellow Canadian friend and 5 men! I had a chance to meet so many runners but none of them were the names listed as my tent mates, with whom I’d be sharing a tent with for 6 nights. Honestly, by this point, everything just became all part of the adventure. I guess I would meet them eventually ūüôā

There were 139 racers heading to the start line from I believe 24 different countries.

First van out!

First van out!

It was a long drive so of course there was a mandatory pit stop for a bathroom break.

Bathroom break - boys on one side; girls on the other

Bathroom break – boys on one side; girls on the other

img_2152

Arriving at Camp 

My home for 7 nights

My home for 7 nights

Dinner was catered (and delicious), last minute guidelines and rules were given and before you know it we were heading off to bed for hopefully a good nights sleep.

Dinner - What a view!!

Dinner РWhat a view!!                           pc: Grand to Grand Official Photos

 

pc: Grand to Grand Ultra Official Photo

Goodnight Moon                                      pc: Grand to Grand Ultra Official Photo

Music blared on speakers at 6am sharp to get everyone moving, hot water was ready. Let’s do this!

Stay tuned for the journey after crossing the start line…..

 

 

Prepping Continues – Grand to Grand Ultra

Gathering Up The Gear

Things are moving very fast suddenly with only 38 days to go before the start of the Grand to Grand Ultra (G2G)! I am flying out early so really I have less than a month to finish getting everything organized.

I have been slowly gathering the mandatory items required by for G2G. Testing out all my gear last weekend in the Bad Beaver Ultra (BBU) had me reconsidering some things.

Things that are working for me:
  • My shirt: ¬†I’ve settled on the Lululemon¬†Swift Tech Shirt.¬†It is moisture wicking, light weight and antimicrobial.
  • My back pack: I had to try out a few to find the right fit for me but finally settled with the Osprey Rev 24. I’ll admit I’m concerned about getting everything into my pack but my coach will have the final say of removing things ūüôā
  • Eyewear: I was concerned about this as I have had some eye issues over the past few years when wearing contacts for more than a few hours. I now only wear them to run BUT given we will be running multiple days for hours upon hours this could be an issue. I tested out daily contacts for BBU and had them in for 12+ hours every day and I forgot I was wearing them! No infections so fingers (and toes) crossed ūüôā I will be using my favorite Sundog Sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses are also an option but I’m running out of time (and money)!
  • Shoes: Inov-8 Race Ultra 270 is my shoe. It’s the one my coach recommended to me when I first started trail running. If it isn’t broke why fix it!
  • Sleeping Bag: Check (light weight and very compact)
  • Whistle: Check
  • Lightweight Down Jacket: Check
  • Headlamp: Check (need two with spare batteries)
  • Red Flashing Light: Check (worn at night)
  • Meals: breakfast and dinner is worked out, most snacks but working on in race fuel.
  • Medical Clearance Certificate:¬†My doctor doesn’t get it but has cleared me ūüôā
What I am now tweaking,  re-evaluating or still need to do:
  • Sleeping Pad:¬†As the G2G is a self-supported race, I will be¬†carrying everything including my sleeping bag and sleeping mat. I had planned on using the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Mattress but there are some people that have experienced their mats being punctured on the dessert floor. So the other option is carrying the Solite Sleeping Pad, which is extremely light but bulky and would need to be attached to the outside of my pack.
  • GPS Watch: My faithful (but old) Garmin has served me well but is not as reliable to charge lately. It has a max. of 12-13hrs. battery life. I’ve been looking at a new watch as I will need one in the future but adding this expense before my trip doesn’t seem like a true necessity. During my BBU experience I chatted with an experienced runner who only uses a watch to track time on his stage races. This seems like a more practical option, as I do need to know how long I am out and keep cut-off times on my radar. I have an old Timex Ironman Watch that might do the trick. However, still considering the Suunto Ambit 3 Sport Watch.
  • Fuelling/Hydration: This has not been a big issue for me but after my experience in the BBU, with the duration of being out and the heat, I realize I have missed the mark here. After speaking with my coach, we have a plan in place and will test it out this coming weekend at the i2P Run.
  • Shorts:¬†I have been training with the same shorts since Spring and have loved them, however, with the duration of the time out for BBU and the extreme humidity I was chaffing by day 2. I ended up wearing my sleeping capris on day 3 to avoid being uncomfortable. ¬†That sent me on a search for shorts that would be a bit longer to avoid chaffing. Although the temperature will be hot in the Grand Canyon it will be a very dry heat. I do not know if I’ll have an issue of chafing but I do not want to be dealing with it if I can avoid it by adding 1.5 cm to my shorts. I ended up finding a pair from Under Amour and gave them a test run this week. The big test will be¬†at the i2P run coming up this weekend.
  • Patches: I need to have my Canadian Flag and i2P patches put on my pack and my shirts. It is mandatory to have your countries flag on the left sleeve of your shirt(s). The i2P patch is because I’m a very proud supporter and I’ve been working hard to raise $5,000 for the youth ambassadors heading off to Death Valley in September (they will be running during the time I am running, kind of cool as they will be in my heart)! You can still help me by donating here.
  • Gaiters: I have two options here and I am still torn as to what to do ūüôā This will be my priority after this weekends run. It is a matter of deciding and then fitting the shoes accordingly.
  • Compass: need to purchase and get some basic training!
  • Signal Mirror: min. 6cm diameter still need to purchase
  • Knife:¬†min. 5cm blade –¬†need to purchase
  • Emergency Blanket/Space Blanket: min. requirement 1.4mx2.2m (turns out mine is 1.3mx2.1m *sigh*)
  • Blister Kit: almost complete
  • Precscriptions: I have the prescriptions (required to deal with nausea/diarrhea and pain) but still need to get them filled.
13921100_10157245662100414_3328331827719054754_n

photo from Nia’s facebook ūüôā

I have to say this has been an incredible journey since January of this year. I have felt from the beginning that this journey was meant to be and I still feel very strongly about that.  I had the honour of meeting and running with 3 of the i2P Ambassadors that I am fundraising for.

Although the money raised will go directly to support i2P, ¬†when someone gives it’s a special message to me that says, “Leanne, I believe in you and am so proud of you”. I’ve taken it to heart and am so thankful!

Next up the i2P 100K! The focus is the 50km night run to get some training in for running through the night but if I can make the cut-off times and feel like I can do it, I will continue and run the 50km day run.

If you have tips or suggestions to help me finish my check list I’d love your input!

Chasing Dreams…..

May Madness

The month of May brought about some crazy weather, crazy training runs and crazy emotions! I am continuing to learn more about who I am during these training runs. Each one bringing more awareness of what I am truly capable of.

The beginning of May brought unusual temperatures here in Ottawa. One weekend training in long pants, t-shirt and sleeves the next shorts and a tank top! Certainly keeping things interesting.

I was finally able to pick up my new back pack and test it out. It is the Osprey Rev 24. So far it is working perfectly, my only concern is that it will not be big enough. It’s hard to imagine carrying EVERYTHING you will need for 7 days on your back! The other options I’ve been testing out are 25L (seems larger somehow) and 34L (love this one as the top rolls down and can be adjusted nicely). However the other two packs do not fit quite as snug as the new Osprey Rev 24 (24L) and fit is so very important.

So now that I’m testing the pack out on my weekend runs, I am needing to find the perfect top. I have always ran in tank tops in the summer, however for Grand to Grand Ultra¬†(G2G) I will need to be running in a t-shirt as it is mandatory to wear your country’s flag on the left sleeve. I’ve picked up two to test out over some long runs. One is from¬†Lululemon and one is from MEC. So far both seem to be doing a good job. It’s important that they are fitted and do not bunch up.

IMG_0941

the bear that was likely 10ft. away from the trail I was on, I took this as he wandered off

I’ve been doing back to back long runs on Friday and Saturday. For Victoria long weekend I added a third long run, making it three in a row. Each run ranged from 2.5hrs. – 4hrs and was 22-27.5kms depending on the duration I was out and how many hills were included ūüôā

I’ve had 11lbs on my back for most of the training runs. For the triple in a row I had 14lbs (including water). I’ve also been going out on new trails where navigating is part of the training, this can slow me down a tad! Running in to my first bear on the trail was also a unique experience.

part of the ski hill I had to run up

part of the ski hill I had to run up

Mentally, it was also a tough month, I began to feel discouraged about my fundraising results. I’m doing okay, but with a minimum requirement goal of $5,000 US and with the exchange rate, it’s not where I would like to be.

Discouragement had begun to settle in and I found myself having to encourage myself to not take things personally. I realize that there are many very worthy causes that are very important to people. People just cannot give to everything! However, knowing that your friends and family believe in you and support you can go a long way. The support I have received has come from some surprising places, and I am very thankful <3

IMG_0850

Back to running ūüôā I have never been a fast runner, and I knew going into training for this event I would likely be in the back third of the participants for G2G. ¬†My coach insisted that I participate in the Bad Beaver Ultra to help give me experience in a stage race, but also to build my confidence for G2G. I’m now realizing that I am very inexperienced with trail running (although I love it!) and I will likely come in LAST at this event. That is humbling….

Wasn’t that why I chose G2G though? To take on something that is beyond my comfort zone, that stretches me completely beyond what I would ever think I could do. I’m not a seasoned trail runner, I’ve never ran a stage race, I’m taking on a huge event to demonstrate that with a plan, hard work and an attitude to not give up, you can accomplish your goals. ¬†As individuals we need to look past what we think we are capable of and begin to allow ourselves to dream BIG for our lives. Make a plan, commit to the process and work hard to achieve whatever goals YOU have!

IMG_0813

I have resolved to not give up, even if it means I may come in last. To continue to work hard and to do whatever I can to make this goal a reality.

What about you? Do you have a goal that you want to accomplish? Are there steps that you can take to begin to work towards that goal?

 

Bags and Hills

So thankful to see the temperature rising!

Making the decision to tackle a huge stage race, completely out of my comfort zone, was for a reason. If I wanted to inspire others to dream big, then I had to believe I could accomplish a big goal for myself.  Read my previous blog on Bringing Together My Two Loves for One Grand Adventure for more information on who I am running for.

Wishing does not accomplish much, you need to commit to¬†working¬†hard for your goals/dreams.¬†Training for Grand to Grand Ultra (G2G)¬†is so very much more than the event itself (although I’m sure it will change me forever), its about the journey getting there.

Once your application is accepted for G2G you are invited to join a private facebook group. The members of the group are¬†either previous¬†G2G¬†participants or current¬†participants training for the¬†race coming up.¬†Grand to Grand Ultra 2016¬†will be the events 5th year and as a way to celebrate, many past participants have been invited back to run it again. It’s hard¬†not to feel intimidated knowing that there¬†will be very experienced runners¬†way ahead of you on the course. However, ¬†I can imagine that these faster runners will be great cheerleaders for the middle and back of the pack runners, on the course hours longer ever day.¬†Just as intimating¬†is knowing that, like previous years, there will be some who will not complete the race. For some it might be lack of training, but I think for most, there are things that can happen outside of our control.¬†Regardless of why, anyone who does not finish would likely be devastated.¬†There are months and months¬†of¬†training required and sacrifices that need to be made to put long runs in week after week.¬†There is also the cost involved, registration, flights, hotels, etc.

I could not imagine tackling this kind of race without a running coach.¬†I had no idea when I first met my coach that I would be even considering anything like this. My goal¬†when I hired Ray¬†was to have an experienced coach take my running to another level.¬†I’m pretty sure neither one of us could have thought that I’d be training for G2G just 16 months later.¬† Less than a year ago the thought of an 80K was on my radar, although just barely and that¬†for me is¬†a challenging goal. The way¬†this race came together was bigger then ourselves, and I knew I had to go for it!

Okay, so update to my ¬†training!¬†Ray agreed to the big goal of G2G if I made the commitment to run a local¬†stage race¬†coming up the beginning of August. Bad Beaver Ultra will introduce me to stage racing and¬†Ray’s¬†¬†goal for me¬†is to¬†build my confidence for G2G. This is the first year for this race and he happens to be one of the organizers. Currently our focus is getting prepared for this 3-day stage race covering 150km in Gatineau Park.

Another focus, is figuring out the right back pack, this¬†has been a wee bit of a challenge. It appears Ottawa is limited in trail running packs, so I’ve had to order online. Obviously this is not ideal as you cannot test it out beforehand. As a Canadian runner participating in an International event I was really hoping to find and use a red pack, I know silly but hey why not. The Inov-8 is a great pack and met that silly ideal, however it only comes in one size/unisex.

I’m only 5’3.5″¬†and do¬†not have¬†a very long torso so¬†playing with the pack and figuring out just how it can fit right is challenging, although likely can be custom fit¬†if¬†required by making some adjustments to the pack and the straps.

I recently¬†tried an Osprey Hornet 32 and it worked pretty good, but again seems a bit large and I have most of the adjustments on the smallest setting.¬†My coach and I were searching for a women’s specific fit to try out and think that it might be worth trying the Osprey Rev 24.¬† Most of the packs recommended to me can only be purchased online, so tracking a Rev 24 here in Ottawa was amazing!¬† I managed to get the very last one and put it on hold so I can go retrieve it.

My favourite spot on the loop I'm running.

My favourite spot on the loop I’m running.

Training now includes a lot more hills to help build up strength and no doubt mental toughness!¬† We’ve changed my double long run dates,¬†giving me Sundays off completely.¬† I’m loving this!¬† It gives me a day off to relax and enjoy before a new training week and work week¬†commences.¬† Mondays and Wednesdays are now easy runs (for now),Tuesdays are all about hills and¬†Thursdays are¬†off.¬†¬†Friday and Saturday are back to back long runs with hills throughout the run, increasing the distance on both days every weekend.¬†I’ve only completed two weeks of this and am¬†amazed at how encouraged I am.¬†I feel like I have nothing left at the end of my runs and then I get up and do it again the next day.¬†I’m also encouraged in the improvement I’m seeing in my ability to tackle hills.¬† Hills that used to be daunting to me no longer affect me the same. It’s not that they are no longer tough, but I view them, or go at them with a different mindset.

I am now entering a stage in training that is new for me. Like when I was training for my first marathon, every weekend promises new challenges but with it new reward.

What about you? Are you experiencing anything new in your training? Are you continuing to challenge yourself with your goals?