By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey
Running Comfortably Numb…this was the plan for my Saturday in Whistler with a great group of women. As a triathlete, I know the importance of cross training but so often, the other things like strength training, yoga, TRX, and trail running get shoved aside because the focus needs to be on the swim, road bike and road run. There is only so much time in the day or week so it is already challenging enough to get in the 3 swims, 3 rides and 4 runs needed for long distance racing never mind adding in the luxury of something different or new.
Off to Wedgemount we went on Saturday, down to a party of three instead of five for various reasons. The weather was perfect as it was just a bit cool with some cloud cover and the promise of sun. We ventured complete with trail shoes, GPS watches and hydration packs stuffed with bars and gels to run this beautiful point to point trail. It is advertised as 800m up and 799m down over about 23km. Ultra-runner Marieve knew the way and was our leader for this adventure; Suzanne and I were newbies to this trail and followed along like ducklings.
I have been working on my run speed and cadence on the road and used to really enjoy the trails before triathlon came into my life. I have not run in the trails regularly for a while so it was such a great reminder of the pleasure of running on softer surfaces in the absence of vehicle exhaust and stop lights. Fast feet or quick cadence is a benefit in the trail as it twisted and turned, went up, down and around, over rocks, roots, mud and logs. Periodically we had incredible views of Green Lake, Rainbow Mtn and other snow topped hills. Before long we had gained 500m elevation and were powering through gels and water. At 80 minutes it was time for more fuel and a mental check in on my energy. We still had another 300m elevation to gain and were not at the half way point just yet. This had been a big volume week for me as I had raced a half-iron the previous Sunday and had done long swims, rides and runs already in the days leading up to this trail run. The trail was not technical in North Shore terms; living in North Van you are introduced to some amazing trails that can be challenging in terms of elevation gain and run-ability, but it was long and I was averaging a much slower pace than what I run on the road. Those hydration packs are a necessity on long trail runs as you definitely need more than water – you need a smorgasbord and mine included peanut butter and chocolate Hammer gels and bars.
I was channeling my inner goat to keep up with Marieve and Suz although for most of this 23km run, all I saw were their backs! This trail was kicking my butt. It was called Comfortably Numb; however, I am not so sure it was appropriately named – very few bits were comfortable and the promised numbness never really came! It was great cross training though and a great reminder that it is ok to be uncomfortable as it is only temporary. My enjoyment of trail running has been re-invigorated so I think you will find me venturing out into nature a bit more often and becoming a stronger runner because of it.