Monday, August 6, 2007

Smell the Flowers

Never be afraid to stop and smell the flowers - it's good for you!

After 15years of living in the Bow Valley, I've suddenly realized how many great escapes are accessible directly in my backyard! This may sound a bit odd from your perspective but you have to realize that since I moved here in 1995, I've been absorbed within the nordic world, either as a full-time racer or with Team As a ski racer, you tend to stay close to home and focus on 'quality' workouts and quick recovery - skiers tend to be anal like that. Sure you get out and and have opportunities to check out the local 'tourist' sites (when your parent's come for a visit or) on a long run but for the most part, you don't stray too far from the comforts of home.

As for the last few years since my retirement, I blame my lack of local sightseeing on my obcession with trying to get up and running. Honestly, the nordic world (like many other amateur sports) is hard to 'sell' - sure the business side of the program is easier now after 7 years, but it also demands constant attention or you can quickly lose any forward progress.

The bottom line is that you actually need to take control and make a conscious decision to explore and play in the mountains...otherwise, you find yourself quickly falling in a nasty rut of work, work, work, sleep (a bit) and more work. It's nice to finally add a bit of play in the grand scheme of things and start taking advantage of the amazing terrain that surrounds me.

As I continue to train for the TR-Run, I decided to focus on volume for the past few days. On Friday, I killed my still tender legs (from Canmore Challenge) with a hard intensity session with Devon Kershaw (NST). I got worked, big-time...and after a hard 2-hour run, I was back home nursing some now stiff (and tender) quads. On Saturday it was Ivan's turn to push me as we ran/power-hiked up Grotto's (true) summit and back in 4hrs. Grotto is a bitch of a climb - it really does suck, BUT, if you're looking to gain lots of altitude in a short distance, I guess it does serve that purpose...

To cap of the weekend, Bob (old roommate/crazy adventurer) and I ran the reknowned Rock Wall Trail from Floe Lake to Paint Pots. For those of you that have taken the time to hike/run this know what I'm talking about. I'm told that this is one of the 'classic' hikes in the Rockies - most hikers camp along the way in 2 or 3 days. the beauty of this loop is that you have pull-out options ever 20km or so. The loop we completed was just under 40km but included a whopping 2,000m of climbing, reaching beautiful high alpine meadows at 2,400m.

Bob-bing on a great single-track - the first part of the trail cruises in some of the remnants of a huge fire that plagued HWY 93 South a few years back. Wicked scenery.

Fireweed in full bloom - invade all the avalanche chutes

Our original plan was to do the complete the largest of the Rock Wall loop which included going up to Helmet Falls, but as we reached the last fork at the 4-hour mark, the sign to HF indicated another 27.5km - which meant we would be adding on another 3-4hrs of running/hiking minimum...for a total of 7-8hrs. After a quick soke in a glacial run-off, we decided to abort and take the fastest exit back, another 12km or so back to the parking lot. After 5 1/2 hours of steady running and hiking, we were quite happy to have skipped the last detour.

Bushwacking in bear country (that's why I let Bob take the lead here!)

1 comment:

Mike said...

Great post Phil,
I agree with you that there is so much amazing stuff to take in around here.
Last year was the first year that I really got into running some of the backcountry trails and this year has been amazing as the distances increase. I couldn't possibly run 5 hours on the road but 5 hours on crazy trails just seems to happen without thinking.
If you haven't hit Lake O'Hara (in the summer) you absolutely must. The alpine routes up there are incredible. We ran some of it this last weekend and plan to go back in to run all of it.
I love the fact that you can cover in a day something that heavyweighted hikers take several days to do. It's got nothing to do with thinking I'm better because of it but simply the joy and freedom that lightweight running brings.