Day #89 March 19 2019

Weather: Sunny and warm with sloppy, wet snow

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Todays run was meant to be a test of my new road shoes, to see if they are better for road training (my ultra in May is a road ultra)

I meant to go for an easy run around the freshly exposed pavement. Well, it went differently.

As I slowed to decide how to navigate the first driveway-pond, I stepped through slush into water over my ankle.

Undaunted, I stomped in the other one, and kept on.

It seems ok to run in them, wet, though they were a bit cold. I hope they dry enough for tomorrow, so I can beat them unfairly again.

Training Tip: Persistence Hunting

This form of hunting has always been inspiring to me as a runner. It exemplifies the merciless, terrifying predator that is a hungry human.

Basically, it is very simple. You run after an animal until you get your teeth on it, then chew and swallow.

The ‘horror’ part comes from empathizing with any animal pursued in this fashion. There really aren’t many ways out of this.

Except maybe running more.

Beautiful friends, on beautiful Rat Lake Trail, with the beautiful ‘Rob Shaft’ (Con Mine) in the background

Day #50 February 8 2019

Weather: Stunt run!

Maybe I should only make notice when it isn’t a stunt run.

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This evening was a shorter circuit, just going around Frame Lake VIA Marylyn Robertson Trail, then back, cutting across the lake by the hospital.

Pretty cold, and the new shoes (Saucony Xodus) are a bit bigger than I’m used to, but grippy and comfortable. Left toes still cold, but at this temperature, they all are.

Training Tip: Athlete to follow – Emily Setlack

Ms. Setlack has earned my respect from several important directions, but first off I have to say, she is generous and kindly with the most valuable resource – her time.

Next I’ll say that she is one incredible runner, having performed some pretty incredible things. One of my favourites was when she ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon, and I missed my chance to see her hubby compete (hubby is another elite runner – Matt Setlack)

I was hoping to see Matt at the Canadian Cross Country nationals, but he decided instead to pace Emily at Philadelphia. Both of them are strangers to me, so I wasn’t exactly hurt, but when I saw their finish, I was very impressed.

Reflecting on that, through lots of my learning about the sport of running, it’s come back to me again and again what a show of respect, affection and support it was. Romantic, even.

This wasn’t the most impressive of Emily’s runs. Probably the one which caught my eye the most was her impressive showing at the Canadian Mountain Running Championships in 2018. She won it, beating out her nearest competitor by more than 2 minutes. In a 10k, with that level of competition around, I was screaming with glee for her. (I think Matt did well, too, but you know… we fans aren’t always reasonable)

Entrance to Dead Mans Slide at the Snow castle last year

Day #48 February 6 2019

Weather: Stunt run!

Water is still hard. Wind is, too. The only soft things out there are the freshly chewed skidoo trails, and the bits of me that aren’t frozen yet.

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Running these trails is very rewarding, in a few ways. I’ve been enjoying watching my seasonal totals build into substantial blocks of work, and seeing substantial shoes pounded into floppy socks.

Season totals are for my heart, not my shoes

Both are featured in the image above. My winter shoes (Saucony Peregrine 7 Ice+) are well beyond the 500km mark, but because of the snow treatment, they look pretty much as they did the day I won them. They are noticeably worn though. At least from the inside.

Training Tip: Athlete to follow – Rhonda-Marie Parke

First off, I want to point you to something she wrote. The best blog post I’ve read.

In that post, she describes what might be the toughest race she has done, but what got my attention was earlier, when she ran the Bruce Trail. 

The whole thing. Over 800 kilometers of craggy, shiggy trail.

She claims that she was sober when she decided to do it, and that sounds a bit unlikely, but the more you look into this athlete’s achievements, the more unlikely things get.

She earned a prestigious ‘DNF’ in the Barklay Marathons, and maybe most impressive, has ran down one Mr. Parke. Ran him down so well, in fact, that she got to keep part of his name.

Another elite athlete I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting. Maybe she’ll be at the Calgary 50k this May…a guy can hope, right?



“If I want to lead this kind of life, I have to trust that people will watch out for me. ” – Rhonda-Marie Parke

Day #41 January 30 2019

Weather: Stunt run!

Not the coldest day yet, by any stretch, but with several centimeters of fresh snow, and more falling constantly, it was pretty tough.

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With the snow blowing, and still falling, this was the toughest run I’ve done yet this winter. Well above 1 beat per meter, but there was a clearer measure.

Going to keep the workouts light for a couple days

Garmin usually recommends less than 24h recovery time. This kind of thing usually means I went hard. With all the snow, it was probably the hardest run I’ve done this year.

This run doesn’t measure up very different from many others, but I am more proud of it.

Training Tip: Frostbite

About a year ago, I had my first direct experience with frostbite. In short, don’t do it. If you want to find out more, read on.

If you are going to risk dealing with it, learn what to do and what not to do. Get that from medical sources. This is just my experience with it.

I was a few kilometers along my usual run, and noticed that my feet were a bit cold. When I ran through some deep snow near coop, some snow stuck to my ankles and legs. I reached down to brush them off, which I usually don’t need to do. My toes were fairly cold, but I thought they would warm up on the 2.5km trail between Coop and the Legislative Assembly.

They didn’t. Usually, the varying terrain has a warming effect on my feet, probably because they have to flex a lot more in response. This time, they were just cold. I got downtown and thought about giving up. My sweetheart has her truck parked just a few blocks away, but I didn’t want to bother her at work. I stopped in the mall to say hi to my Barber (Hi, Jimmy!) and may have even invited him to come running, but I figured I’d be fine, since it was only a half hour home.

I could have warmed up at any of those places. I could have stepped into our Territorial or City government buildings and waited safely for a ride. I could have stopped in any of a dozen offices, as I have many warm friends in the downtown area.

Bah, it’s just a half hour or so.

So when I got home, my toes were COLD. I got in and undressed, warmed as well as I could, and my toes started to hurt. A lot. While trying to warm up, I got in a tub, and could not submerge them.

Later, I got them into slippers and warmed up the rest of me pretty good. Examination revealed a strange kind of colouring. There was pink flesh like normal, but the tips of the affected toes were white, and there was a pretty clear line between pink and white.

Later, blisters formed on the three toes of both feet. The pain got worse, and stayed that way for a few days. I decided that I would not run until the blisters self-deflated.

My research during this time led me to self-treat. As long as things were improving on their own, and there was no ‘black skin’ (indicating necrosis) then I was going to do it on my own. Also I decided that if I needed serious debridement I would go get help with it.

Funny aside – during my recovery time, I got notice from Saucony Canada that I had won their ‘We Are Winter Warriors’ contest on Instagram and was being awarded a new pair of their ‘Peregrine 7 Ice+’ shoes.

The recovery went swiftly. By the third day, I could submerge my toes in the bathwater comfortably, and a week and a half or two weeks later, I was able to go running on them again.

It’s been a year. I’ve run those free shoes well beyond 500kms (I keep using them because they are my warmest) and have run the other 2 pairs they gave me (they gave me 2 other types to try out) out. It was a great prize, but the frostbite was a pretty awful lesson.

It’s a year later now, and those toenails are still a bit weird. It’s like they are thicker. The tips of the affected toes still seem to have more dead skin than others, which builds up and needs occasional debriding.

This is why I developed my sealhide spats, and why I have placed a high value on quality socks (merino wool)

My toes on the left are now more sensitive to the cold than they used to be. They are sort of an ‘early-warning-ache’ when things start to get too cold.

Looks like a dog threw a shoe. Or maybe an off-brand codpiece

Day #27 January 16 2019

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Weather: Stunt Run!

Morning weather report

Today’s route was going to be a bit out of town, with a pal. With the weather as cold as it is, he and I opted for a better day.

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I was texting with a training partner, Joe, who lives in Norman Wells, NWT. It seems he is dealing with very similar temperatures, but a good deal more wind. He has been wearing ski goggles to combat the worst of it.

Joe Caidler wearing it well.

It reminds me gently that Yellownkife isn’t – by FAR – the toughest place to train.

Joe has been an inspiring training partner in part, because of the challenges he faces. Training for him is like being in Yellowknife, except that it’s cold, remote and a small population. He gets it done just the same, and most importantly, seems to celebrate even his most challenging runs.

It was because of Joe that I signed up for this race. I was texting with him one evening and he let me know that he was going to do the 50k race in Calgary, for his 50th year. I liked the idea so much, I signed up right away. I’m looking forward to comparing notes through our training.

Tonight’s run was brutally cold. As I stepped out, thinking everything was covered, I noticed that my forehead was getting very cold. I realized I had left my glasses on, so tucked them in a pocket.

With that heat-sink gone, my face warmed up enough. My left foot was still a bit cold, even though I was wearing my winter runners.

Speaking of winter runners, I usually just use regular shoes, but last year, I won a pair of Peregrine Ice+ 7, from Saucony.ca . They had a contest with the hashtag #wearewinterwarriors and it seemed kind of cut out for me. I really noticed the extra warmth, especially on the coldest days.

The day they announced my win, was my second day of recovery from frostbite. I had burned my toes just a couple days before, by being too ready to go on. Great timing, kind of cemented the lesson.

As I got to Coop, one of my ‘checkstops’, I thought it was wiser to avoid the trail, do the colder lake crossing first. It was cold, but manageable. Even comfortable, once I got a steady rhythm going.

After touring Somba K’e Park, I headed toward the Legislature where I would cross to begin my circuit of Niven Lake. It was still a bit too cold, and I considered going straight back via Franklin (shortest route). It was still not too bad, so I tried the trail.

Should have known. It was warm and beautiful. OK, it was still -30 or -40C, but with the wind cut, and the concrete behind me, everything just seemed better. I popped out of the trail by Coop and checked out the mess by the big leak. Water has flowed almost all the way through the tunnel, creating ice. As I expected, skidoos have been roughing the surface and it is easy enough to run on.

Photo by Staples, since I was thinking about them while listening to my headphones

I’m convinced that the regular paved surfaces are colder on my feet than foot-packed trails. Good news, since I like running in there more anyway.

I’ll still make time for the ice road, of course 🙂

Training Tip:  Wireless headphones – Staples warranty

I have had several pairs of headphones through my sweaty running adventures. Wired pairs quickly failed, usually at the in-line switch. When I got my first Plantronics Backbeat fit, they were a treat. After about a year though, the near-daily sweat/air-dry/charge cycle did them in. I got a second pair, and they died the same way. (an examination showed extensive corrosion of the PCB inside the earpiece on both after failure)

Next, I took a different tack. I went to ask about the warranty they are always trying to sell me at Staples.

It’s great.

I talked to an associate about my preference, and we tried a wired pair. They failed fairly quickly, and we (warranty to the rescue) tried a different pair. They are great, and though they failed later on, Staples just replaced them again. Warranty is worth more than brand preference for me.

I’ll be looking to Staples, and their awesome, local warranty replacement service, for all my electronics. The Associate tells me they sell running watches, maybe they also sell Petzl lights. I mean, mine is good, but I’ve been running and charging it almost daily. It can’t be expected to live forever 🙂

If you look closely, you may see what is affecting my headphones so much