Magical, shapeshifting, bear cub twins destined to lead the next generation of werecreatures in North America. Rocky is devastated by the news of his Clan brother's death, but he cannot deny the attraction that has never waned for the small human woman who stole his heart a long time ago. Rocky absented himself from her life when she chose to marry his childhood friend, but the years haven't changed the way he feels for her. And now there are two young lives to protect. Rocky will do everything in his power to end the threat to the small family and claim them for himself.
He knows he is the perfect Alpha to teach the cubs as they grow into their power A new take on were animals. I have never read about were-bears and I loved it. It's a must read for sure. Maiden Flight.
A quick scan of Google all but confirmed that I'd somehow picked up this virus - it starts with a sore throat, and the small spots I was getting looked very similar to the photos online. So now I was nervous about racing when I had a virus. I wanted to race but didn't know if I should, and I was worried about overdoing things and making things worse.
As we headed up to Hawrelak Park in Edmonton on race day, I decided to just run by feel and not aim for a time. Originally I'd wanted between 65 and 68 minutes, but that seemed fast - I've only done a couple of 15k races and my PR is only around 63 minutes - so I figured I'd just go with the flow and play it by ear. The race was very well attended and there was something like registered for the 15k alone. I positioned myself a few rows back at the start as I didn't want to get sucked into going off too fast which worked perfectly and I didn't feel crowded at all.
I started pretty well and within the first mile I had taken the lead in the ladies race, hitting 6.
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The morning had started quite cool with a brisk wind, and whilst I soon warmed up and disposed of my gloves later in the race, the wind was hard work and left me breathless. I've always hated windy weather and find it really saps the energy, but today I didn't fight the wind - I concentrated on maintaining the effort rather than pace and it seemed to work as I gradually increased my lead. I stopped at a couple of aid stations during the race to grab a drink - my throat was getting dry and sore again and I didn't want to take any chances - and there was a good climb at around 5km which I tackled with greater ease than I would likely have done in the past.
As things stood, things were going well. I was feeling extremely strong, I felt in the zone, and whilst my lungs were complaining at the faster pace, I was managing to keep it going. At the turnaround point at around 6 miles, I finally got to see how much of a lead I had over the other ladies. I likely had a minute at most, but I was still feeling strong and fairly confident that I could maintain things. I also knew that having ran up that hill, I could now enjoy running back down it, and with me favouring downhill running, I really hit the gas as I dodged the 10k runners that were by now sharing the course with us.
As we reentered Hawrelak Park, there was just over a mile to go. It was the first time I looked at my watch and I saw that I was around 57 minutes. I was gobsmacked - that 65 minute finish was within my reach! Trying to stay relaxed and focused, I pushed on. The last mile was tough. My legs were starting to tighten from the effort and I could see the finish area but knew I still had to run up the road to the parking lot, before making that final turn for a a short downhill stretch to the finish.
It was a great race and I'm so happy with both my time and of course the win. I did feel that it had taken more out of me than I would have liked, but a coffee, burger and a donut soon had me feeling better and I even managed a nice and easy recovery run later in the day. I really couldn't have asked for a better race. I don't know - probably not - but one thing is certain, this race has given me some confidence that maybe I can run a little quicker again, that maybe I can run a little faster even in my ultras.
Of course, it's always great to see friends at these races doing so well, and all of them had outstanding runs in my opinion, so great job everybody! It can be hard being on your own for weeks at a time, trying to keep yourself motivated to perform at your best, having nobody to talk to or pamper you when you get back from a long run, to cook for you and let you put your feet up.
Thankfully though Andy and the pups are always there when it matters, and that for me is the icing on the cake :. Saturday, 23 February Frozen Ass 50km. The start of February saw much of Alberta under an extreme cold warning, and with temperatures dropping close to after the sun went down, I was a little apprehensive about running outdoors with the frostbitten toe still giving me grief. Despite having a membership with the Leduc Rec, I really didn't want to spend every day running indoors at the track or on the treadmill, especially on those days where the sun was shining and the skies were a gorgeous blue!
The extreme cold lasted for a good couple of weeks, and with the Frozen Ass 50k fast approaching, I was conscious that I needed to do some running outside to get my body used to running in layers instead of the comfort of shorts and singlet that I was getting quite used to at the indoor track. Dressed in clothing that probably added a good half a stone in weight to my run, I did run over to the reservoir a couple of times as well as out on the range roads at the back of our house, and with plastic bags and two pairs of socks on my feet, the toe seemed to coping ok with the cold.
I was feeling excited about doing the Frozen Ass 50km partly because it's one of my favourite races and also because I knew I would be seeing lots of friends down in Calgary that I hadn't seen for a while. With heavy snow once again in the forecast, I was getting a little anxious about the 2 and a half or so hour drive down to Calgary for the race and how bad the roads would be, but thankfully the gritters and snowplows had already been out and the roads weren't too bad at all.
We missed Andy who was working away in Italy and Montenegro, but it was nice to snuggle up with the pups and relax for a couple of days. We headed out on the Sunday and had a lovely little walk around Fish Creek, and we spotted the resident eagles and a herd of deer. Tillie went absolutely crazy when she saw the deer, hopping around on her back legs trying to get a better view of them, and barking in excitement as she attempted to chase them.
Race day was on the Monday and I feel so fortunate to have such amazing friends in Glady and Michelle who had agreed to look after Wilson and Tillie whilst I ran the race. They know our dogs so well and I knew that for the next 4 or 5 hours, both pups would receive lots of love, care and attention. On arrival at the Bow Waters Canoe Club, the city was shrouded in mist and temperatures were hovering around degrees. The weather forecast indicated that by lunch time, the sun would be shining which would push temperatures up to around , so I wasn't quite sure how many layers to wear. I also needed to keep an eye on my toe.
Whilst the dead tissue had now finally started to peel off, the toe was still quite sore and I really didn't want to risk getting frostbite again in the same place. I'd made sure to pack a drop bag with spare shoes and socks just in case my feet got wet or cold, but more importantly I was wearing Walmart carrier bags over my feet to keep them dry along with two pairs of socks for warmth. Thankfully I seemed to gauged things correctly and for the entire race, I felt warm and dry The main concern was the cold, and the bitterly cold wind certainly picked up in the latter half of the race which made the last 12km quite tough.
My aim for the race was to run between 8 and 8 and a half minute miling for as long as possible, hopefully giving me a finish time of around 4 hours 15 minutes. My best time on this route was 3. Add to that the snow covered pathways and the much colder conditions, I thought my 4. I started off well and things felt comfortable as I took the lead in the ladies race after the first mile and kept a steady momentum going. There isn't really a great deal to talk about in terms of scenery, but I was very conscious about how bright things were with the snow and I was really wishing I had worn my shades!
I was also very much aware of how much all the layers were restricting my range of movement for running and I had to shorten my stride a little due to wearing two pairs of running tights. I reached the turnaround point in around 1 hour 5 minutes and thanks to Leo who is another good friend, there was a hot cup of tea waiting for me along with Jaffa Cakes both of which hit the spot perfectly! I probably spent too long at the aid station there's a surprise! Being just 7 or 8 miles into the race, this was probably a little too close for comfort, but I tried not to get carried away and instead just maintained my pace which would hopefully keep me ahead.
I ended the first lap in around 2 hours 13 minutes and after a big birthday hug from Gord - yes, it was my birthday too! The gap between myself and second seemed to have increased slightly so I knew I just had to go out there and do the same again to maintain my lead.
I saw tons of friends as I was out on the course but everybody else was really friendly and encouraging too as we were running along. Another cuppa and more Jaffa Cakes at the turnaround once again hit the spot as I hit the 23 miles mark, and as set off for the final 12km still leading the ladies race, I was feeling really happy and positive about a good result. The last 12km really was tough, not necessarily due to tired legs but more because the wind had picked up and it had a nasty chill to it.
For the first time in the race, my face started to get really cold but when I covered it, I found I couldn't breathe properly. My legs were also starting to tighten up - I hadn't really drank much and I actually think it was dehydration - whilst my big toe by now was extremely sore as the socks rubbed at the already damaged skin. The second lady by now was a good 10 minutes behind and I knew that with just 7 miles still to go, I likely wouldn't get caught.
I hadn't really slowed that much but the gap was widening, so I felt pretty confident that unless something went drastically wrong for me, the victory would be mine. I kept my head down and just focused on moving forward, but that final climb over the bridge towards the finish seemed a very long time in coming! The miles were passing by slowly and I just wanted to finish, I passed through the marathon distance in 3 hours 48 minutes - with 5 miles still to go, I knew I wouldn't hit my target time but I figured I could still make it in 4 and a half.
As I made my way up the climbs over the bridge which brought me into the last mile or so, I tried to push on but the climbs were taking their toll on my legs. I glanced behind me for a split second and saw somebody following - it looked like a lady and they seemed to be closing fast, so I tried to pick up the pace - just half a mile to go and I didn't want to lose it now! Thankfully it just turned out to be a dog walker but that surge of adrenaline meant that I pretty much hit my B goal, finishing first lady and sixth overall in 4 hours and 31 minutes.
This was my third victory at the Frozen Ass and I was extremely happy to have come back and won again. I never take anything for granted and really did not expect to win, but it felt good to have another race victory so early on in the year,. We all headed inside to get warm as soon as we finished and to partake in some soup, pizza and cakes, along with a hot cup of coffee, and as other people finished their race, it was great to catch up with so many other friends who I haven't seen in such a long time. And of course, Glady and Michelle were there to greet me with the pups who had apparently been spoilt and had plenty of snuggles having been home with them for a couple of hours.
Of course, I had to drive back home to Leduc after the race but I left Calgary with a huge smile on my face, and feeling very happy and content. The good news is that despite being sore, my big toe had come away unscathed after today's race which is a huge relief - clearly the Walmart bags did the trick. I don't have any more races now until April and that's when I'll start doing a couple of 10k races and a couple of half marathons. I'm still undecided about whether to still race the km at Blackfoot Ultra or whether to do the 24 hour race at the Survivorfest in Edmonton in June.
I still believe that I can run km in 24 hours to make the GB team, but I don't know whether I will be at my peak and ready to settle that score in June or not. I guess it depends on how long the next extreme cold snap lasts, how much more snow we get, and when spring finally arrives! For now though I can't complain about how my racing year has started off and I hope it continues to follow the same path. I'm looking forward to getting back into training again, getting some speed and strength back in my legs, and being focused on this year's goals Tuesday, 29 January Beware of the Winter's Revenge!
Over the Christmas break, we headed out to Jasper for a few nights in a log cabin. It was just what we needed, and as the snow came down and we settled down in front of the fireplace with a hot chocolate in hand and two pups snuggled up on the sofa next to us, it felt extremely warm and cozy. We had a fair bit of snow whilst out that way, but I still managed to get out for a couple of runs, whilst the 4 of us did a couple of low level hikes at Athabasca Falls and Valley of the Five Lakes.
It was nice to be in the fresh mountain air and with the snow and lack of summer crowds, it was so peaceful and relaxing. As is usually the case, the Christmas break flew by and come January, I was back into the swing of things with my running. With the start of a new year, it was time to start planning races for the coming months and whilst I do have things pretty much set out, there may be some changes in May and June in terms of my racing schedule.
This year, the WRVR was a total sellout and I actually took the last spot in the 50k when I decided to enter just a couple of weeks before race day. Such cold temperatures are no joke so I made sure that the kit I would wear on race day would be enough to keep me warm. As it happened, Andy headed home a couple of times throughout the day, and even the dogs had tons of fun as he took them to the dog park a couple of times and made sure they were all warm and dry. For me, it was quite the day in more ways than one and I was just glad to get home to have a hot bath!
The race started at 8am. It was only just coming light, the wind was blowing a gale with snow flying all over the place, and we knew it was going to be a cold day. Thankfully, the majority of the course follows the woodland trails alongside the river banks which provided some shelter from the wind — when we left the trees, the biting wind was terrible and I found myself burying my face in my thermal face cover that I had taken with me.
The first m or so,we battled deep snow as we headed out across the playing field. This was followed by a couple of kilometers on snowy pavements before heading off onto the trails for the start of the adventure. Within the first mile or so, I was already in love with the course as we dropped down into a ravine and followed a frozen creek. As we hit the creek, there was plenty of climbing over and under fallen debris and trees along the route. At one point, we passed a gorgeous frozen waterfall — it was such a pretty route with all the snow and ice and I was loving it!
I hopped out pretty much straight away and warned the following runners, and then a couple of hundred metres later, my other foot went through the ice. I now had two very wet feet and for a fleeting second, I did ponder about the risk of frostbite with a good 2 to 3 hours of running ahead of me before I had access to a spare pair of dry socks and shoes. I was wearing 3 thermal layers plus a waterproof jacket and I had put my backpack under the layers in an attempt to stop it freezing.
But when I tried to take a drink, the mouthpiece was frozen solid and I had to do with out a drink. I was running well and running strong despite the cold. I had no idea what position I was in in terms of the ladies — some passed me on the trails whilst others got delayed at the aid station and as the race progressed and we merged with the relay runners and the 25km runners, I really had no idea who was who!
The route carried on in pretty much the same vein — steep climbs, icy descents, weaving in and out of trees and snowy trails, but we had been warned that the last 4km were tough and were probably going to be the worst 4km we have ever experienced. They weren't wrong! Having left the final aid station on loop one, we made our way over the bridge and were then directed down to the river where we followed some wonderful single track and were greeted by some wonderful wintry views.
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But as we progressed, the path narrowed further before entering a tree covered area. It became really difficult to run due to how narrow it was and how low the branches came, and at one point, we had to literally crawl on hands and knees to get through a particular section. However, the worst was yet to come. Otherwise known as Fireball Ridge, trying to get a grip was nearly impossible and a couple of times I found myself sliding back down and making little progress. Unlike the earlier sections, there were no trees here and I found myself trying to cling to clumps of grass and the occasional root and with all my strength, trying to pull myself up whilst my feet and legs scrambled to get a grip.
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Even with Kahtoolas it was hard work and it took every ounce of effort to make that climb. It was probably about 50m to climb and on reaching the single track again, we continued along the ridge where shortly afterwards we had to go down. This time it was just a sheet of ice and the trail sloped slightly towards the river. I slammed by Kahtoolas in the ice as best I could to control the speed at which I was sliding, and thankfully just about managed to maneuver myself to get safely to the bottom of that hill.
I felt extremely relieved, but I knew that I had to do it all again, and next time would be worse on tired legs, along with a much more slippery surface having had more people slide down the slope in the meantime.
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On finally reaching the end of the ridge, we headed back up the hill through the woods which brought us back to the start and finish area where Andy was waiting to check all was well. I headed inside briefly to change my clothes — they were extremely damp from sweat, condensation and the cold air, and I desperately needed to put on something warm. I also dropped my backpack as the tube was still frozen and I had carried a full pack for nothing — I swapped it out for a handheld instead which worked much better although slushy Gatorade sure takes some getting used to! I knew I needed to change them, but although my feet still felt wet, they did not feel cold, so I decided to head out on lap two.
Lap 2 was an eye opener. I lost my footing once again in the ravine and my feet got even wetter than before. I seemed to be running more of the hills on this lap, but I had quite obviously slowed a little. I also seemed to catch up with more of the other runners and having spoken to them during the race, it sounded like we had all taken a wrong turn at some point on lap one. It was on the second lap that I realized that I too had gone wrong on the previous lap and I had actually missed the crazy climbs after the second aid station which appeared to have been a common mistake by the other runners.
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These climbs were also extremely icy and snowy and I was using tree trunks and branches to drag myself up as I tried to grip in the snow — my weak runner's arms were aching but it really was an adventure! With about 10km to go in the race, I noticed that my left foot had started to go a little numb. My fear about frostbite came to the forefront again and I started to worry that maybe my toes were in the process of falling off.
I was wearing two pairs of thermal socks but the soaking in the creek had done me no favours, and looking at my shoes, they appeared to be frozen solid. I passed through the final aid station, grabbed some chicken noodle soup and a hot chocolate to warm myself up a bit, and then proceeded to do the horrendous climbs along the river again, conscious all the time that I really needed to get back as soon as possible as I really needed to look at my toes. The second time along the river was just as scary and just as dramatic, and as I bounced down the icy hill, I could feel my buttocks bruising along with my hips and things!
Soft snow would have been fine, but solid ice on a bumpy trail is no fun! The slog up the cliff face seemed easier this time - maybe because more people had made small ledges with their footprints in the snow - but I honestly think I was running on adrenaline as the concern about the lack of movement in my foot had me going in to semi-panic mode. Andy wasn't there but thankfully he had left my drop bag and I knew I had some dry shoes and socks in there.
The concern about my toes really started to set in when I had difficulty removing my left shoe.
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My socks appeared to be frozen to my shoe, they were solid ice, and try as I might, I could not get the shoe off. Eventually the shoe came off and I saw that my big toe was just a wrinkled mess of dark purple and black. The toe nail was also black and I thought perhaps that it was just bruising from the shoes and wearing Kahtoolas all day, but when I touched my foot, it was like a block of ice.
Unfortunately, the medics only knew basic fist aid but they said it did look like frostbite although it could just as well be a blister. If it was frostbite, it would really hurt when the skin thawed out and I should go see a doctor just in case of infection. For the next two days I anxiously waited for the pain to kick in, but nothing came. My toe remained very dark purple, and the blood blister underneath my toe nail did nothing to alleviate the discolouration of my toe.
By Monday, the toe had started to go red and shiny so I eventually bit the bullet and went to the doctors. The tissue will eventually die on the tip of my toe, but I could still run and I would be ok for Frozen Ass 50km in February — phew! I found out late on the Saturday night that I had won the ladies race which I was extremely surprised but very happy about. I haven't yet heard anything from the organisers to say how I go about claiming my prize but then it did take a couple of days to verify the official results due to the number of people that took wrong turns.
Happily the final published results still had me as first female so I am just waiting to see if anything arrives. I'm not the sort of person to chase a prize as I personally run and race for fun and I guess that's enough for me The WRVR is a great event, the course is excellent and the volunteers amazing, especially given they sat out in the cold for as long as they did. I have to say that being out there for 7 and a half hours for "just" 50km was challenging even for me, but at least I know for next time.
But then I have to ask myself — if the course was easy, if the weather had been perfect, would I have felt the same sense of achievement? In terms of the frostbite, my toe is still there but as others warned me, it does seem to be more sensitive to the cold right now. Yesterday I did another 50k run, this time just a training run, and the weather was milder which meant a lot of snow melt and slush.