Sunday, February 26, 2012

CDR Training Week One & Two - Slow Jaunt Into The Abyss

A view of Grande Cache from one point of the Death Race

The training has begun, its kind of funny, I have never been one to dedicate my life around training for anything. But for some reason this is different, I have a goal that a few years ago I would of been rolling on the ground laughing if somebody said I would be doing. I have been running for going on two and a half years now, and it all started because of beer. Yeah you heard me beer was my motivator to start running, and now 2 1/2 years later, I am still running and still enjoying my beer. Anyway that is a topic for another day, this is all about diving into the training regime that I am planning for the up and coming adventure called 'The Canadian Death Race - 2012 Edition'.

Now, in case you did not pick up on the name of this blog, we are from Winnipeg, Manitoba, our biggest mountain (*cough*-hill) is a old garbage dump located within the city limits, affectionately known to all the runners around here as 'Garbage Hill'. Even though it is not high, it does have some steeper sections that can be used for some basic hill training. Now yes, being able to go up is very important with all the grade increases, but the one area that everybody seems to forget is the 'down'. Running downhill is in my opinion the more complicated of the two and the one you need to prepare for the most as this is the area where you can either win or lose a race (or in my case, finish or not finish). To give you a perspective from someone that is not comfortable going full out down a hill, unlike Nicole who loves the downhill, these are the reasons that you need to develop this skill.
  • First of all, running downhill puts the most stress on your legs of any type of running. From your quads, to your knees, to your ankles, running downhill will work all these components and if they are not ready for it, you are asking for trouble. Basically your legs take a pounding and without your legs working at full capacity, you could very well make an early exit from the event, and no one wants that.
  • Running downhill on technical terrain is mentally challenging as well, you focus more intensely to ensure you miss that loose rock or not step into that hole or ground crack. I would hate to see someone lying on the trail writhing in pain with a snapped leg or broken ankle, because first of all their race is done and I would have to stop to help because that is just the way I roll.
  • If you cannot properly make your way down a big hill or incline, you will waste valuable time and energy that could make the difference in finishing or not. I would hate to be pulled from a race because I didn't make cut off due to taking to much time going down a hill. I would never forgive myself.
Don't want to look like this

would rather look like this

Not so sure about the socks though.

With this in mind, and with the help of some previous Death Race participants, I have found this great blog from Andy Dubois's: Mile 27 Personal Training on training for the Downhill. It is full of great information and also includes a great training insert from his regime for one of his 100 milers. I will be using this as a supplement so I can tackle Leg 4, and kill it. As this is Winnipeg, we will be tackling a lot of stairs over the next few months. A great thing is that Dan works for a company that has a office tower, so we will be doing quite a few sessions in the 21 storey building exit stairwell to get those quads fine tuned.

Another drill that I will be using is utilizing a tread mill at a 7 to 10 incline while walking backwards (thanks to Kevan Rapley for the idea). This is another great way to get those quads working with a similar effort to running downhills. I will be starting this a couple times a week at the YMCA, and will report on how it is working. I expect a whole bunch of weird looks from the people around me, but that's ok I run in socks on the treadmill too, so what's a few more looks.

The last and my absolute favorite (can you hear the sarcasm in my typing) is lunges, lots of lunges. Front lunges, backwards lunges, lunges with weights, lunges with a slosh tube, lunges, lunges, lunges. I will be doing so many lunges that Carolyn my trainer will be pleading me to stop trying to do lunges while she is getting me to perform a plank.

Hey why am I wearing shoes and what happened to my hair.

 As I noted training has begun, I am currently ramping up my mileage (with the help of the 120 day challenge), working on speed and tempo runs with City Park Runners (thanks Erick, Cheryll, Wayne and the gang) and of course my running partners (Ramona, Judy, Anita, Sarah and Stephaine - yes they are all women, and I would not have it any other way, so much more fun then running with guys). Core training is being handled by Carolyn, beer drinking is being developed with the WH3 (Winnipeg Chapter of the Hash House Harriers). Of course the running push is also being brought on by Mark (a solo runner of this years CDR), who is also helping me push along a little quicker on Saturdays and will partake in a few training runs to the Whiteshell this summer. The CDR training camp is in the schedule for all of us, to give us a first hand experience of the course prior to the big day. We are well on our way, but there is lots of training to do ahead of us, because I really want to see this sign: 

 and Nicole to see this one:

and all of us to see this:

That time would be nice too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ice Donkey 2012 From The Perspective Of A Mother

I am posting this link to another blog that Gail writes, it has her accounts of the race that was Ice Donkey. I am doing this because I think there is a story to be told and read, of the mother who watched and supported her daughter through a difficult race with all the emotions that go along with it. I believe it is a fantastic telling, and I hope you will enjoy it as well.

Kudos again to Gail and her daughter.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Canadian Death Race 2012 - A Family Affair

When we started this adventure, Nicole and I were planning to make a family vacation out of the trip to Grande Cache. This of course would include our eleven old son T and our soon-to-be 5 year old boy C. Of course the logistics of not only watching our kids but also keeping them entertained while mom and dad ran their designated legs of the race was going to take some serious planning and coordination.

Even though we have not completely got all the kinks out yet, two things have been determined so far, first we have finalized our pit crew for the race (with the help of the mom or dad that is not running at the time) our boys are going to be involved in the transition areas to not only ensure the next runner gets out but is all prepared for the leg that they are running. Involving the kids in this will not only keep them occupied but will also give them that feeling that they are part of the team as well. I am not completely sure how this will work yet, but I am almost positive that both the boys, especially the youngest will be all over this. Thus the training will begin for the boys on what they will need to do, including making sure packs are ready, water bottles or camel backs are full, headlamps have new batteries, etc. The biggest issue I see is convincing C that he cannot run with the runner when they head out, but I do expect a lot of cheering and excitement, because who doesn't like a cheering squad as you head out on a hard run.

This is where the second item comes into play, the boys are all signed up for the CDR Kids Race, a great little event held after the main event has finished. I just have to include the promo write up that is on the website, I think it not only clever but gives you a good indication of what fun they will have:

'THE KIDS RACE: Never Too Young to Cheat Death! '

'This the best way we know to introduce kids to the sport of adventure racing. The Kids Death Race takes place on the Sunday of each August long weekend, and is one of the highlights of the weekend. The course is approximately 5km long on wilderness trails, with one big mud pit, which everyone must wade through, and one big hill that comes near the end of the course. Anyone making the cut-off time (90 minutes for 5km) is a winner and will receive a Kids Death Race finisher’s medal! The course is closely supervised by adults.
Parents may accompany their children on the wilderness portion of the trail, but kids are required to carry their own food and water for the entire race - there are no aid stations. Children must start and finish the race to the greatest extent possible on their own, although some very young children and kids with special needs may need parental assistance. Over the years the kids’ death race has become quite popular and very, very competitive. Parents be advised that smaller, less competitive, or slower children must go to the back of the starting line. We provide the barf buckets, but parents... please use common sense when fueling your little racer before the event! Check out the family fun happening at DeathFest over the weekend!'

Although I do not expect to have to help T out during this race, especially when he finds out there is a cool t-shirt and a medal at the end for bragging rights. I am on the other hand, expecting that I will be running beside C, even if he doesn't want it, just in case. I know he will be going full out trying to keep up with his brother, who will be going full out trying to keep up with the other kids, just a vicious circle. The mud pit is going to be interesting, I am fully expecting C to go head first in, not being able to give the opportunity to get dirty, and T will be a little more tentative looking for a potential way to avoid going in. This is going to be an experience that I hope they will never forget, and will hopefully spur them on to run for the love of running. What kid would not want to tell all their friends that they ran 'The Canadian Death Race' and they didn't even die, check out my cool shirt and medal with the skull on it.

So it is set, this is going to be a fun and crazy summer for the family, Nicole and I will be treading into territory not previously entered, the boys will have a experience that I hope they will remember for a lifetime, and we will grow some more as a family.

The only question unanswered and we will have to see how it pans out is,

will C run barefoot like his dad, or will he put shoes on for this endeavour, only time will tell.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Canadian Death Race 2012, All Signed Up and Ready To Roll

I have never really been one for nicknames, yes I do have a hasher name and a lot of people have affectionately started calling me 'Barefoot Bob' or 'Barefooting Bob'. But the one nickname that has intrigued me over the last couple of years is 'Death Racer', I don't know why it just sounds like a really cool moniker to put after your name, "Barefoot Bob - Death Racer", or the affiliation, Barefoot Bob D.R. (the letters should go after the name don't want to be confused as a Doctor or something) . It just oozes cool, right. I thought so.

If you are unfamiliar with the moniker, then what hole has your head been stuck in for the last 11 years (just kidding your head could of been stuck in a paper bag too I guess, I am not out to offend anyone here). The 'Death Racer' is the moniker given to the few who have ran one of the hardest ultra marathons in Canada, 'The Canadian Death Race', a 125km trek through the mountains around the sleepy town of Grand Cache, AB every August long weekend. This race consists of extreme mountain trails, three mountain summits, 17,000 ft of elevation change, one major river crossing and the ever constant possibility of encountering wildlife in their natural habitat (including grizzly bears, cougars, etc), remember we are entering their domain not the other way around. This run is a premier event and will test the best of the best to their limits, and has been on my bucket list as a 'One Day' since I started running. Well, that 'one day' has happened, Nicole and I along with another friend (Dan) have signed up for the relay event this summer. It's kind of a interesting story how it all transpired, two weeks ago, I never would of guessed we would be planning our trip to Grand Cache this summer to take part in this awesome event.

It all started last week when Nicole mentioned that it would be fun to see if we could put a team together for the CDR relay, now I will admit at the time I did not take her to seriously because the Death Race is a huge endeavour to undertake without a lot of commitment. Of course, I said yes we should look into that, half thinking that the idea would dissipate in a few days, but to my surprise Nicole kept bringing it up and there was obvious research being done. Suddenly by the weekend, I was picking the brain of a friend who had partaken in the event last year, we were making arrangements for my parents to watch the kids while we attended the training camp in June on Monday, we were scheduling vacations around June and the race event in August by Tuesday, crap this was turning into more than a possibility the anticipation was becoming pretty intense. Suddenly Nic and I were frantically trying to find some more crazies who wanted to get in on our little adventure lined up. I'm not sure whether the majority thought we were kidding or something because we did get some interest then they researched a little further and the maybe's quickly became no's. This was kind of expected, it not easy to get past the thought of running this event with all the challenges that you would face, but then I got a message from a fellow hash house harrier, with a short and sweet, "I'm in". I did a double take, and quickly sent a response back to Dan to confirm if he was serious, he was, and suddenly we were three. With this confirmation I jumped to the computer and the application process was on. Hoping that we would get another interested party prior to me sending in the application and making payment to round out our team, but not really expecting it, I felt we could not wait any longer, because there was only limited spots and I didn't want to miss out on getting in.

So on Wednesday night I signed us up as a team of three, called "What Were We Thinking?", consisting of Nicole, Dan and myself. It was a good thing I did not wait to long, because low and behold Thursday morning early the run was sold out, now all that remained were some lottery spots, and we did not have to leave it to chance, cause we were in. Now the funny thing with all this, was once you are registered with the numbers of your team you cannot change the numbers, so our team of three could not add a runner, nor can we delete a number. This was ironic because I was contemplating signing up a friend who I did not hear back from before I hit send just in case but figured it would not be a good idea in case he did not want to run. I didn't want to be stuck with three members in a registered four member team. Of course as luck would have it, I hear from our friend the next day and he wants in on the race, not only him but I hear from 2 other friends that would like to run it as well. Crap, wouldn't you know it, I was stuck telling these guys that they were two late, maybe next year. I felt bad, but honestly not for long as the smile grew onto my face once again, I'm going to run the Death Race.

Go Death Racer, Go.

So here we were three runners from Manitoba, going to tackle one of the hardest Ultra Marathons in Canada, no pressure. The description of the legs as defined by 'The Canadian Death Race Website is as below, as for the sequence of runners it follows:

First leg, 19 km: The Downtown Jaunt
Approximately 6 km of pavement initially, followed by trail and 3.5 km of gravel road. It includes a net elevation loss of 500 feet, rolling hills with flat sections, several creek crossings and one significant downhill. The course will start in downtown Grande Cache and the race officially begins at the 5 km mark, after passing the Grande Cache Saddle club. It then continues past Grande Cache Lake and Peavine Lake, mainly on quad trails and including a section along a ridge with a spectacular view of Peavine Lake and the mountains of Willmore Wilderness Park. After crossing Washy Creek and skirting the north end of the CN rail yard through a deep mud bog, enter the first full aid station and relay exchange zone. Cut off Time: 12 Noon

This leg will be ran by me, I will be running this barefoot at least that is the plan as it stands.

Second leg, 27 km: Flood & Grande Mountain Slugfest Includes about.1 km of pavement. The rest is dirt trail with rocky and swampy sections, and approximately 6 km of hard packed dirt road.. Net elevation gain is 500 feet, but the total elevation change is well over 6000 feet. This leg of the race is characterized by long sustained climbing with about 3 km of very rough terrain and two creek crossings. The trail from the summit of Flood Mountain to the summit of Grande Mountain is the roughest piece of trail in the Death Race. The power line down the front of Grande Mountain leading back into town is the most dangerous part of the entire course. This is due to the steep, rocky drop-offs and unstable footing while running downhill. The Slugfest is the most technical section and is rated the second hardest leg of the Death Race (although many rate this leg as the hardest of all). Cut off Time: 6 pm

This leg will be ran by Dan, he will be our anchor to get Nicole to the downhill portion.

Third leg, 21 km: Old Mine Road (or “City Slicker Valley”) Includes 5 km of pavement: the rest is dirt road with several creek crossings. One creek runs right down the trail as you descend the first part of the Mine Road., making for very slippery, rocky terrain for 30 meters. This section passes through the lowest point in the race, hitting the very bottom of the Smoky River valley floor, with knee deep water for 25 meters. (If it’s a wet summer, it's worse.) With a net elevation loss of about 1000 feet, this section is the fastest and easiest of the race and one of the most beautiful, offering stunning views of the Smoky River valley. Cut off Time: 7 pm

This leg will be ran by Nicole, with the expectation that she will be able to pick up some time on the downhill portion, because I am going to need it for the next leg.

Fourth leg, 36 km: Hamel AssaultThis is mostly dirt trail and hard packed gravel. While the net elevation gain is zero, the total elevation change is well over 6500 feet, which comes practically all at once. The ascent of Mount Hamel (elevation: 6,986 feet) is broken into two very long climbs, with one small reprieve as you gain the shoulder of the mountain at the mid-point. You will pass the Hamel Escape station where racers can bail out if they've had enough. At the forestry tower on the summit of Mount Hamel runners check in and then continue toward the spectacular cliff bluffs at Hell's Canyon, where they must retrieve a prayer flag as proof they have made the turnaround point. The descent is strewn with boulders and deep ruts. The downhill is not that technical, but any falls will be on very unforgiving ground. (Read the waiver section about being in remote areas and not being rescued in time to prevent serious injury or death.) This entire leg is fantastically scenic. Cut off Time: 4:15 am

I will be tackling this leg, I love running hills, it tests the core to no end. Now I know this is a mountain and not just a hill, but I will be running this with a smile from ear to ear. And yes, I will be wearing shoes for this one, probably a pair of Minimus (I am going to throw some plugs to some friends to see if I can get a pair to test, shhhh don't tell anyone).

Fifth and final leg, 24km, The River CrossingIncludes 1 km pavement, 6 km gravel road, and a river crossing. The rest dirt trail, grass, and single track. Net elevation change of over 2500ft. This section runs from the Northwest end of the Hell’s Gate Access Road southward to the Sulphur Gates Road, across from the Hell’s Gate emergency aid station. It crosses the Hell’s Gate road and heads down to the Boat Launch road . Runners will be ferried across the Smoky River. There is an emergency aid station on the west bank of the river. From the raft crossing, racers will proceed up the east shore of the Smoky River and follow the trail to the Sulphur Rim trail. The course passes the Firemen's park, heads up Firemen's Park Road and continues to the Finish line in the Grande Cache town square. Please note: For most runners this leg will be completed in darkness with much of the trail under a heavy canopy of trees, so eye protection is required. Although this section is well marked with reflective markers, flags and signs, we recommend you bring a halogen headlamp with brand new alkaline batteries. Daylight training on this part of the course is highly recommended.
Last boat: 6 am End of Race: 8 am Course closes: 9 am

The last leg is going to ran by Nicole, she really wants to do the Smoky River Crossing, my only concern is she will be running this at night. But I know I will be so proud of her when she crosses that finish line.

Just to give you a true picture of what the elevation changes are like take a look at the following:

Doesn't it look fun.

Anyway, training for this run is going to be very important, we are going to need every advantage, so we are also signing up for the Death Race training camp in June, so we get a first hand look at what we are getting ourselves into. Over the weekend we will see every inch of the course either with mountain bike, running it or hiking it. All valuable knowledge, because to come not prepared to a race like this is a recipe for a DNF. While just being involved with the race is going to be great, I am not going to settle for anything less than a finish time, because that is just how we roll. Look out Grande Cache we are coming to see ya this summer.

Also want to send a shout out to another Winnipeg runner, who I had the pleasure to run with last summer. Mark will be tackling the Death Race solo, how about that, and you thought we were crazy. This will be his first visit to the Death Race, I know he is going to kill the course.

On that note, I want to leave you with some outtakes from the 2010 race for your viewing pleasure. This will be a prelude to the pictures and video taping I hope to be doing throughout the race. I am hoping to borrow a friend's strap on video camera for the race, and if I can manage it I hope to take some good footage along the way.

Happy Running and

Go Death Racers!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


My Ice Donkey Race Report

This is going to be a bit different today, because today was a bit different.

Wow what an incredible day! Today I took the opportunity to join some friends and run (and bike, snowshoe and skate) Ice Donkey! An awesome event put on by some great race director/ and officials, and how do I even begin to tell you about the volunteers? Maybe I should mention that we were the very last team out there, we did not make the finish time, in fact by the time we finished we were 45 minutes over what the posted time was; and they were still there!(SMILING!) There was some thought of closing the course, but they chose not to after seeing how much work and effort this team was making. They let them finish. The team was made up of two strong, young ladies (12 & 13 years of age!)Their team was called ‘Young Pups’; they were followed along by ones’ father, ones’ mother, and a friend.  When the event was finished by this team and they finally made their way into the area of the forks where the awards had been held, a crowd was there to greet these young ladies with applause for their finish. It brought tears to their mothers’ eyes! What an awesome day! (This is one of the things I love so much about running, the heart of other runners!)

In following this bunch I was amazed at what lessons I learned! Today I was a student being mentored in many things by both the parenting skills of my friends and undertaking of this event by their children. Here are a few that stand out to me:

1.       When you fall down, get back up!  Every time! (After a display of this skill I also had the chance to put it into practice! Yes, I practiced several times)

2.       Perseverance,…. Keep going, sometimes it is just one foot in front of the other, until you are done

3.       Endurance; the thesaurus says- staying power, survival, fortitude, continued existence (I saw every definition of these words on display today as I watched the parents and the girls provide an awesome example of this)

4.       Encouragement; I watched two parents encourage their children down a very difficult road (covered in ice, and snow) with grace and elegance, putting their own competitive spirits on hold to let their children feel out their abilities and find their own competitive spirit

5.       Patience as their children were discovering their abilities

6.       How to have fun with your children

7.       How to coach your kids, and then let them find their own way!

8.       Wind breaking. Did you know that the one, who rides their bike first in line, breaks the wind for those behind? Well I do now, great job parents! Apparently it also works for skating I found out later in the morning!

By the way, when it was all done, that was 16 miles these young ladies pulled out of their hats, and they only signed up last week!

Later I will get into the race itself, you know, the funny stuff… like the comment, ‘I don’t ever look at the map in the city race, there’s always someone to follow’ hahahaha. The grueling stuff…. Biking on snow and ice?! Oh, and the burrs! (You know those round prickly seed things that stick to you when you’re in the forest) The touching stuff….. Seeing the parents encouraging their children to an awesome finish.

I would like to send out a HUGE thank you to all who organized this race and all who volunteered. A great and amazing job you all did.

Have a great day; you never know what you’ll learn if you’re heart is open to it.


The 120 Day Running Challenge - A Focus on Healthy Exercise

120 Days of Consecutive Running
Challenge - 2012 

Nothing like starting off the new year with a different type of challenge, typically it has been all about the mileage or getting ready for an event. This one on the other hand is more to ensure that I get out and get a little bit of physical activity everyday. Now, I know its not like I am a couch potato or anything but there are days where I would rather just do nothing at all. I am also using this opportunity to get others moving as well, so far quite a few people have jumped on with the idea, and I think that is great, with all the technology these days it is really hard to convince some people that they need to get out and partake in life in general. In short, they do not know what they are missing, and life will pass them by.

Now I was not the originator of this little idea (I am not smart enough for that), I first heard of this through some online friends of mine, Vanessa, Shacky and Jason, who were taking the ball and running with it so to speak. It is kind of interesting how it developed, first it was run a mile for 30 consecutive days, then it was a mile for 90 days, which finally developed into 1 or 2 miles for 120 days. Now I have never been known to shy away from a challenge, so of course I jumped on board with the high end of things, because that is just how I like to roll (go big or go home), we will see how smart I was by the end of this.

With the intent of getting people out and moving everyday, and this being for fun the rules are pretty loose, running, walking, biking, swimming, martial arts, weight-lifting, cross-fit training, pushups, burpees, yoga, hey even rolling down a hill will work (I would not recommend this for a mile or two though, I would be so sick from being dizzy, woooh). You can break it up over the day, take your kids or the dog (or if you are my mother the iguana) out for a walk, whatever you want as long as you get out and get your butt moving.

Have you seen a 60 year old woman walking
a 6 foot long iguana?

The important thing is to just get out there and partake in some physical activity. Obviously running, walking, biking is easy to measure your miles of completion. The others will take some creativity on your part for the measuring aspect. Just remember if you want to do more, go for it, nobody is going to chastise you for being the eager beaver now.
Nicole and I have 8 days in the books with  111 to go as of end of day Saturday (one of my days included 2.2 miles of mountain bike riding as I tested out my new ride, pretty sweet with disc brakes for those big downhill runs).
New Mountain Bike for my CDR training.
Gail is well on her way as well, with I believe 5 days in the books as well. So come on join the challenge and get your family and friends involved as well. It means less video games and more experiencing of life, which to me is a Win-Win situation.

For all you Facebook Users, there is a group called the 120 Days of Consecutive Running which has been formed where you can post your daily mileage and how you achieved it with optional entry in the form of a haiku (believe me some of them are pretty interesting and worth joining the group for). Please be warned, this group is all about fun, so sometimes the language is a bit off the wall or colourful, but if you go in with a open mind, you will laugh with the rest of us.

Happy running everybody, and I hope you achieve your goals.

On on.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

5K Virtual Run for Sherry Arnold

  Here we are at 6 am in -36C temp in front of the stainless steel Agassiz ice sculputure at the entrance to Assiniboine Park. Nicole said a nice  biblical verse (Hebrews 12:1-3) in the car before venturing out.

 Running for Sherry. Courage. Strength. Grace. Nicole and I often run in the early morning or late at night, not because we are crazy but because we are moms who find this is often the only free time we have. Sherry's last run was at 6:30 am. We imagine she was trying to fit in a run in her busy day.

I think we both tried hard to stay positive on this run and do it with grace.

It was not too cold to stop and get the chocolate I stashed in this plant a few weeks ago.

 Except someone beat us to it.

Just as we were running by a lady opened up the gates to the Leo Mole garden and said we could run through it.
Finished with a quick warm up by the fire place before heading back.

We were honored to do this run in memory of Sherry Arnold. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Virtual 5K Run saturday February 11th

We will be doing a 5K run at Assiniboine Park in memory of a Montana woman who was murdered near her own home while out on a morning run. We'll meet at 6 am at the Agassiz sculpture at the Portage Ave entrance to Assiniboine Park. See Shut Up + Run blog in our blog list for further details. I have been following this woman's blog ever since coming across a ridiculous picture of her in a swim cap and a Speedo with granny undies sticking of the legs of the suit ( she is a gifted runner and very funny writer). It is this woman's cousin that was murdered. we encourage you to check out her site, print out a bib and join us.