Monday, March 26, 2012

The 10 before 10

A few weeks ago, I discussed my fundraising progress for the Ride to Conquer Cancer with Jeremy and Doug at Speed Theory and we agreed that it would be fun to do one of ST's hallmark group rides, the 10 before 10, with a little twist...for a $10 donation, with proceeds benefiting the Ride.

The 10 before 10 is very simple:

10 laps of Stanley Park, ridden before 10am.
5am alarm.
Dark and minus one with windchill.
100 kilometers of riding.
1,000 meters of elevation.

For the uninitiated, this sounds a bit sadistic...not only in terms of the distance, not only because you have to ride Prospect Point hill ten times, but also because you have to be on the road damned early to get it done!

But I put this in perspective.

35 amazing people.
Nearly $900 raised for the BC Cancer Foundation.

Pretty incredible!

Even though this week was the first week of spring, I was really nervous that the 6:15 am ride time coupled with unseasonably cool temperatures would be enough to ward off even the hardiest of riders.  Yet, even despite a frosty (albeit dry) early morning start, the turnout was fantastic!  In the pre-dawn darkness at the starting point at Second Beach, there were nearly 30 riders ready to go, bundled up in winter gear and full of (perhaps espresso-aided) enthusiasm.  One rider (whom I've never met) happily came over in the darkness to hand me his donation -  he had heard about the ride the night before at the pub and just thought it sounded crazy enough to join in.

The first "neutral" lap around the park was surreal - the pace line of riders was marked by dozens of blinky lights.  As we rounded the point for the first time, dawn was breaking and the calm beauty of the park made a huge impression on me - it was an extraordinary moment to me and I did actually tear up a little (I blamed it on the cold weather of course).  I was incredibly touched not only by the incredible outpouring of support for my cause, but by the camaraderie and friendship that the early morning was filled with.

The rest of the morning was a little different for everyone.  Some raced, some chatted, some jumped in for a few laps.  The stories were fun to hear after.  Grossi, we did not lap you ("really?!  seriously?!  Oh, C'MON!!!) and we are glad you didn't go to Horseshoe Bay after all.  Geoff, we know damn well you were trying to lap that we understand this strategy you can be assured that next time it is game on.  Don, thanks for your 200% improvement on last year.  Gregg, I know you wanted to stop to go to the loo again and I admit I pretended not to hear you. :)

For every incredible person that came out on Saturday, thank you.  Whatever your reasons were for riding, I am touched and moved by your support.  It was a truly fantastic morning filled with so many things that light me up - friends, riding, sunshine and the stunning scenery of Stanley Park.

Thanks in particular to Jeremy, Doug and Murray at Speed Theory for getting up early and opening the shop to us (and for letting us inundate your shop after!), my "Oss-some" teammates at LifeSport and to the Leading Edge triathlon group.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rave running in Stanley Park!

Today was a nasty winter day in Vancouver.  Wind, sleet, rain - it was that humid west coast winter cold that just bites you and hangs on.  And of course....I went for a run.

A few times a week, I break up my workday by going for runs mid-day.  It is quick, efficient, and gives me an opportunity to run with friends and colleagues that work downtown.  It enables me to enjoy a shred of daylight on long work days, and puts me back in the office for the remainder of the work day with a clear head and happy heart.   I am also so very fortunate, because one of the best places to run in Vancouver just so happens to be within striking distance of my office.  Stanley Park!

The ubitiquous seawall run is a pancake flat 8.8k...NOT 10k as many people think.  So if you are ripping around the 'wall in 45 minutes and then shocked to realize your 10k race time is actually well in the 50's, well, this would be why :)  And while the seawall certainly has its charms, particularly on sunny and calm days, you are missing out if you've never sought out what else Stanley Park has to offer.

It is amazing to me that so few people know how much of a gem Stanley Park is for running.  For the past two years, I have done every kind of run workout imaginable in the park....and still surprise myself at the versatility of its trails.  Here are some of my secrets!

Hills, hills and more hills.  You want to get stronger?  You run hills.  And there are some lovely ones in the park to choose from.  The last section of Bridle for repeats is fantastically evil.  Do 6 x Bridle and your legs will be begging for mercy.  Prospect Point on the road is also character building - up one side, down the other.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Want to practice descending over rolling terrain?  Try Merrilees.  And there are also nice gentle inclines, like North Creek and Rawlings.  Whatever your fancy, you can find a great location for hill repeats.

The trails that criss-cross the park are perfect for low-impact, recovery runs (like today), and particularly when the weather is nasty, you can find an oasis of calm rainforest inside the park.  Don't know where you are going?  Not a problem.  There is water on three sides of the park...eventually you will land on a trail that will lead you out!

Even the dusty, gravel track at Brockton oval can serve as a place for a speed workout in a pinch (I have been known to run 400's at noon here).  However, there are two better and more unique places to do speed work that can put a bit of variety into your routine.  The circumference of Beaver Lake?  One kilometer.  The circumference of Lost Lagoon?  One mile.  You got it - fantastic places to run repeats!  Last week I did mile repeats around Lost Lagoon under the watchful guise of Hank the Heron and his harem of ducks.  Just be careful and don't step in any goose bombs!

The tourists do tend to look at you a bit funny after the fourth or fifth time you've passed them in a full-out sprint (as they feed the raccoons timbits...grrrr), but it is all part of the fun.  If they ask what you are running from, look them straight in the eye and tell them bears.  Big ones. ;)

With a little ingenuity, you can pretty much fashion any kind of run workout within the confines of the peninsula. So the next time you find yourself aimlessly running the seawall....take the first turn into the middle of the park.  You'll be pleasantly surprised at the running wonderland that awaits!