This was a spontaneous weekend of running.  When a long weekend comes around, we always fit in some long runs with friends, but this event was started by an email from Wendy.  She asked who was interested and then proposed 4 days worth of running routes.  Come for one or come for all.  No racing and no pressure.  Just fun on trails with friends.  With all the planning done, it was a no-brainer.  I love it when someone else tells me where and what to run.

It wasn’t until mid-way through day 2 that I decided to make this a 100 km weekend.  I started to tally up the km from the first two days and I could see that the numbers could approach 100km.  This number is not huge compared to some of the running bloggers I follow – but it is huge for me.  Anything with back-to-back days is a challenge for me.  And since I have so few miles in my legs this year (and no races yet), I really was keen to make this weekend worthwhile.  Waldo 100 is in the books and always in the back of my mind.

Day 1 – 14.5 km

Wendy, Bruce, Janet, Peter and I met at the top of North Rd to run a loop of SFU.  We were the run hosts for the day, so we led the others on a few of our favourite trails.  We had recently discovered the trail building going on up from the velodrome, so our route included that big climb, but mostly it was runnable single track trails.  We didn’t plan on a long day of running, but simply a day to get together and catch up.

Day 2 – 40.1 km

Wendy, Bruce and I headed out to the UBC Research Forest to run a loop we fondly call the Smart Ass Fat Ass.  Traditionally, we run this loop on New Year’s Day with options to run short (28+km) or longer (40+km).  Today we were looking for a nice long trail run to put some miles into our winter-weary legs.  We parked for free at the research forest and directly headed into Golden Ears Prov Park by way of old decommissioned gravel roads.  We waged our bets and headed through a washed-out section of trail that we thought was impassable.  Luckily, it has had some use of late and a trail is re-emerging, giving us a longer, more runnable route up to the top of Incline Hill.  It was here that we came across the course of one of the 5 peaks races.  We arrived in time to cheer on some middle-of-the-packers and chatted a bit with a course marshal before heading down the Eric Dunning trail.  We came across an aid station at the base of Menzies Trail and they offered us water refills and clif shots, which was an unexpected treat.  We climbed up Menzies to the lookout and from there began our out-n-back section.  We followed Menzies as far as Gold Creek campground.  It was all runnable, save for a few steep sections, and I was always able to keep those two rabbits in my sight – even on the return trip, which seemed to endlessly climb for about 6km.

Once we returned to the lookout, we bounded downhill, across the parkway and joined onto the Alouette Valley Horse trail.  I always forget how long this section is.  I began to lose sight of B and W here.  There is nothing like a gentle flat-rolling trail for carrying B and W away.  They sure can move when they run!  Despite my slower pace, they never let me fall too far behind and soon enough we were at the horse corral.  We made a sharp right turn and headed up, up, up to Mike Lake.  My memories of this climb were  hazy, since usually when we run this part, the new years hangover is taking its toll, but today it was nasty and I will remember it as such for all time.  It is really only 3 pitches up, but the footing is really sketchy and the steepness is more than I can take at 30 km.  I learned later that B ran the entire climb!

Once at the top, the rest of the day was in the bag.  We ran up from Mike Lake, which was the final climb, and turned back onto the maintenance roads of the research forest.  We were back at the car in 5 hours and 31 minutes, which included a lot of stops to chat and enjoy the beautiful sunshine.  The key memories of this day were the warm sunshine at the lookout, the dappled light through the new green leaves and the vivid colour of the moss at the sides of the trail.  Oh – and that nasty horse corral climb.

Day 3 – 29 km

Wendy has been working on completing all the sections of the Trans-Canada Trail in the lower mainland.  Section by section, she has worked her way from Horseshoe Bay out to Fort Langley.  Today, B and I were invited to run the next section with her – from Matsqui back to Fort Langley.  We met in Ft Langley and shuttled one car out to Matsqui Trailhead, under the Mission-Abbotsford bridge.  We parked and began our run west, back to Ft Langley.  This section of the TCT is mostly on paved country roads, which really freaked me out!  The run started out on the river dyke and we rocketed along.  Soon enough, the trail left the river and began undulating through the Matsqui reserve.  We hadn’t been running for more than 20 minutes when I went into full-bonk mode.  I had to suck back a gel and take it easy for a while before I felt okay.  I think the quick start pace and the 2 previous days’ runs had suddenly hit me.

Soon after I started to feel better, we arrived at Olund Road, the beginning of pavement.  As a rule, the route would head north for a few miles and then turn west for a few miles and then north and then …..  We were on quiet roads with little traffic, but there wasn’t much of a shoulder and it wasn’t safe to run close together.  Usually, I ran about half a block behind the other two, lost in my own world.  They would slow up when I got too far back and I would tell them to pick up the pace whenever I got near.  I think we were all running about the same pace (my pace!) yet I was never able to bridge the gap between us.  The route was well-marked (mostly) and we only got off course once – which added about 1 km to our total distance.  We ended up in the heart of Ft Langley, which was busy with post-church Easter Sunday revellers.

Running on pavement is mentally challenging.  There is so little to distract you from the constant leg-turnover and I notice all sorts of tweaks and pains that I wouldn’t notice on trails.  I find it difficult to look a mile down a road and be inspired about getting to that next stop sign.  I would much rather be constantly occupied by that root, that rock and that bend in the trail.  I found that I was searching for things to think about to distract me from the road in front of me.  This is never the case for me on trails.

Day 4 – 22 km

The plan was to run a loop of Hayward Lake.  Peter was keen on finding the 49 new geo-caches on that trail and we were keen on a slower pace that geo-caching would allow.  But then the rain came down.  And as we settled into bed, the pouring rain made us rethink a day of being wet and miserable.  As it turned out, Wendy wrote an email revealing that she was up for the award of Super-Mom 2011 and needed to spend some time at home with her son.  With that, B and I decided to stay at home.

In the morning, we settled onto the couch to read, sip hot java and watch the birds dodge the heavy rain.  Cinnamon buns were served and it looked like the 100 km goal was a wash-out.  But the goal of 100 km was my goal and I decided that I had to complete it.  At 10: 30, I laced up the shoes and headed into the local watershed trails.  We have a 1 hour loop which we regularly run totalling 12 km.  I decided that I would run that loop in the forest and then head out on the sidetrack trail which parallels the train track to River Road, which would add another 10 km.  It was rainy and cool, but I was determined.  I ran the whole time, stopping only for a pee break.  I even pushed the last mile, timing myself to see how slow my ‘fast pace’ really was.  I was surprised at how good I felt today.  No leg pain or soreness.  Just that good feeling of over-use!

Summary

4 days – 105 km – 12 hours 51 minutes (wouldn’t that be an awesome Waldo time!!)

5 great friends – 3 sunny days – 3 easter chocolate chicks – 2 new brewpubs – 1 small blister – 1 new route – no snow – no falls.

All in all, a great weekend of early season running.  Thanks all!