Thursday, August 2, 2007

Full Steam Ahead

It's been another long day...After 10hrs of sitting on my ass in front of the laptop, I'm finally calling it quits to escape on the trails and recharge my brain (and body).

This past week wasn't the best for training as I was once again burning the candle at both ends (I'm getting good at it...), trying to stay on top of my TR job, all while taking care of the last details of the Canmore Challenge Trail Race, another one of my ventures...

This year, I thought I would be well ahead of the game by hiring Magma, an event marketing company co-owned by my friends Magi Scallion and Marion Worm. These girls had the task of getting all the event details from me, managing the website (check it out: so that they could organize all the race day logistics. I, on the other hand, would be limited to designing the course - piece of cake...right? As it turns out, transfering all the data from my head, let alone my files was a bigger task than anticipated. Overall, the organization went well but it inevitably proved more transitional work than I had originally planned. As race day approached, I wanted to get the jump on the course marking so that I would actually be rested for the way! No matter how well you prepare, you always end up going around the course a few times because you forget a key arrow (sign), or you ran out of staples, ribbon or some other equipment failure. I think I probably ran, biked and drove around the 6km and 12km courses 3 to 4 times each to get it perfect - 'Settling' for not-so-perfect is NOT an option in trail running. Runners tend to be the worst at following (myself included) directions so the need to get it perfect is imperative. Getting lost on course is probably one of my worst pet peeves...I hate it - so you can imagine how anal I get about my own courses...

Long story short...I finished marking the course on race day, 15min before my race start...good warm-up! And then the fun began...I can't say I was too pleased with my race considering the lack of preparation. The 4hrs of sleep the night before didn't really cut it. I remember thinking I should sit this one out (as I did last year) - "Too tired" I told myself, "What's the point?" Then that sadistic little creature that lives on your right shoulder says: "You're such a wuss, DO IT! It's good training for the TransRockies Run, you think you'll be feeling spry after 3 marathons in a row?". I guess that settled it. Off I went to the start...

Overall, the event was a success. Most of the comments started off as: "Phil, you bastard..." or "Holy %#&! killed me!" Luckily, the comments were quickly followed by "...but great course!" I have to admit, I was cursing myselft on the first climbing section back up to the top of the course.

As a course designer, it's always difficult to find that fine line between pushing someone to their limits and pushing them beyond having fun. This is important because otherwise, my registrations would drastically be reduced next year. The trail running business is not easy - you don't do it to get rich, you do it because you love it...and because you get a chance to make people push their limits!

With that said, I'm off...time to go burn some carbon! This weekend I'm going to plan a 2 to 3-day long distance combo. One of my goals is to run the other 'Canmore Challenge' which involves the 4 local peaks: Grotto, Lady Mac, Rundle and Chinamans (in that order) - I figure about 10hrs...anyone interested?


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