Thursday, November 1, 2012

Prescription for a happy fall workout

Following is a little write-up we have put together Andrea Lustenberger and myself for the Helios Wednesday night circuit training. I thought this may be useful to share!

Prescription for a happy fall workout

You hear a lot of people say that this time of the year is depressing because it’s grey and raining.  Yes it’s true, we are not getting as much energy from the sun at the moment, but it still is a great time to get out there and play! It has been proven time and time again that exercising is a great way to get energized. While the gyms and indoor facilities are getting busier, there is no need to run inside to get a great fall workout. Here are a few tips that, we hope, can be used both in the fall and in the winter in order to make your outdoor workouts more enjoyable.

1-    Layering: Just like when skiing, layering is key. You will find yourself sweating more than you think, however at the start and at the end of your workout, you will need more warm layers on.  Most of the time 2 layers are enough. A mid-weight long sleeve base-layer and a light windbreaker jacket are more than enough.  The same applies for the lower body. A pair of tight and light waterproof pants can be great especially if it’s slightly raining.

2-    Solid Fuel: As the temperature drops, the body starts to work harder while exercising to keep you core warm. As a result, you may find yourself needing more fuel than usual when exercising. Pack a few extra chewies or maybe an extra energy bar or nuts to sustain yourself during efforts.

3-    Liquid Fuel: Because your body needs to warm the liquid up before absorbing it, it has to work harder when drinking cold liquid. Without putting boiling water in your camel back or bike bottle, starting your workout with warm water in will not only help to keep you well hydrated by making it easier for your body to absorb the liquid but will allow your digestive system to work less to process it, meaning you will have more energy left to actually exercise.

4-    More than just water: Because you will be using more energy in the cold, you may as well add a little something to your water.  Look for natural electrolyte powder like Ultima, Nuun tablets, Vega or Hammer products. I am recommending natural here because powder like, Gatoraide for example, are not only a bit chemical to my liking and full of sodium and sugar and turn out to also be really detrimental to the teeth in the long run.

5-    Who likes frozen toes?!?  I think no one does! If you have ever ridden your bike in the crisp fall days, I’m sure have you experienced the “Scream and Braf” feeling a couple of times. Same thing goes with running. A cheap way to prevent such things to happen is to get a pair of bike booties for cyclists and nice low running gaiters to cover the running shoes. This may sound simple (and some may think it looks geeky) but it makes a world of difference. You can find cheap gaiters and booties at MEC:

7-    What about the fingers? For fall riding and running, a great pair of light cross-country ski gloves helps to keep your hands nice and warm. The usual bike/ running gloves are meant to provide great ventilation in hot summer days so they are not doing much for you when the temperature is near zero.

8-    Dark Days: It feels like we are losing 30 minutes of daylight everyday at the moment. Because you may get surprise by how dark things get in the forest and sometimes you end up exercising for longer than expected, throw a small headlamp in your pocket. If you need it, you will be really glad to have it.

9-    Quick Post Exercise tips:
-Keep a light down jacket in your car: As soon as you are done exercising, the core temperature drops and you will be glad you have a warm cozy layer.
-Keep a piece a fruit in your car for post workout. For faster and better recovery, it has been proven that ingesting natural sugar within 5 minutes of finishing a workout helps replenish your muscles and accelerate recovery.  It will also sustain you until you get back home and can cook a proper healthy meal.
-       Keep an extra water bottle at your car. If you run out during the ride or run, you will be glad you have some liquid waiting for you.

Enjoy Fall! Despite what some may think, it’s a great time of the year to get out and play!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Female Endurance Athlete but Still Female Once a Month

Athlete or not, female have to deal with a monthly roller coaster of hormone levels. While we often forget about the previous month's mood swing and uncontrollable tears, each period comes with it's own thunder and storm. Before we have time to realize what is physically the cause of our anger and sadness, things can get a bit out of control on an emotional level.  Add to that a regimented training schedule and the roller coaster just got scarier!

So this is a little piece on my own experience that I hope can help others. I usually keep the blog posts really general but this one is a bit different.  

-Very low energy just before the start of the female cycle ( making it hard to exercise)
- Strong sadness and mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating on daily tasks
-Strange sleep patterns 
-Cramps and discomfort

Typical Action Reaction:
I got my blood tested, I got all the levels checked,  I started to take supplements... 
The results came back from the lab and of course everything was normal! Western medicine told me that if I refused to take pills, I just had to deal with things the way they were.... well I was not happy with that answer and decided to search a bit further. 

I decided to look towards Chinese medicine. I was thinking at that point, I had nothing to loose. I really wanted to be able to control a little better the emotions but more importantly deal with the energy level changes throughout the month before a busy racing season. 
I went to a first visit at Jade Mountain Wellness and Acupuncture and spent some time with Erin Potter going through a really thorough questionnaire. I was really surprised and amazed by the different approach between Western and Chinese medicine. From the initial assessment,  Erin explained to me what she though was the issue  (Spleen Deficiency in my case) and proceeded to advice me on a list of things to do and some food to integrate in my diet. It was pretty simple! In addition to acupuncture,  Erin gave me a Chinese blend of tea to take multiple times a day to help regulate things out. All the ingredients were quite mild and she took the time to check that it did not contain any performance enhancement herbs therefore would not test positive in any doping test. At first, weekly treatments were set but as things were improving, we reduced the treatments. After 3 months, things have greatly improved. 

Jade Lake,
 Mt Revelstoke Provincial Park
Of course not everything is perfect but  I would say they are under way better control! 
The biggest changes I have seen are no more cramping and discomfort and no to very little mood swings. I can tell when things are just about to happen but no more emotional roller coaster. Energy wise, the difference between the weeks is not as dramatic anymore and by keeping track of the date of the anticipated start of the period, I can plan for a recovery week and hit two birds with one stone! 

I am not saying that Chinese medicine and Acupuncture would work for everyone but if you have been struggling with similar issues and are tired of the "take a pill and you will be fine" response, maybe you should consider an alternative. There are plenty of really qualify, professional and knowledgeable Chinese Doctors our there and in Revelstoke, we are lucky to have Erin Potter and Jade Mountain Wellness & Acupuncture! Endurance Athlete or not, there are ways out there to make the monthly crisis easier to bare!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Beautiful Fall Days = Beautiful Adventures

Since the beginning of september, the weather had been oh so amazing. It's been really easy to get motivated to go play outside.
Images speak for themselves!
Mt Williamson

Jade Lake

Jade's Pass

Mt Rev National Park

Summit Mt Williamson

Frisbee one more time!

Frisbee with a little snow

October Alpine Ride

Spectacular Mt Revelstoke Scenery

Thanksgiving Dinner Guest

Thanksgiving love! Grateful for a beautiful fall

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Just because we could!

Following is an article that just came out in the Fall 2012 issue for the Canadian Avalanche Journal. Back in June, we have been asked Ian Gale and I to speak about our Wapta Traverse in a day adventure.
I wanted to share this article for a couple of reasons. With the winter coming up pretty soon here, I hope by reading this you will get excited to get out there. And secondly, I hope this will inspire people to do similar things, explore even further and move fast in the mountains! Enjoy the article!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Valemount Run and Adventure

This past saturday was the second edition of the Mt Robson Marathon near Valemount BC.  Back in May,  I signed-up thinking it would be a great excuse to go back to the area not only to catch up with my friend Reiner but also get some biking and mountaineering done in the area.

The Race:
It was an amazing event, super well organized and really scenic. The trail up to Berg Lake is nice and climbs gradually all the way to it's 12th km where things start to be a bit more steep. I have to say the views were certainly taking away the growing pain in the leg muscles.
Until the last minute, I was going back and forth between the full and the half marathon but for once, I decided to stop being stubborn and listen to friends/ physio/ trainer/.... and went for the 21.2 kms. The race all the way to Kinney Lake and back was still a pretty nice distance. What a spectacular and special place to run! As it turned out, it went quite well... it must've been a combinaison of having new runners and covering the distance almost the whole way with Igor also from Revy and surrounded by new Valemount friends. I certainly made the kilometres go by faster!
Mt Robson in all it's beauty
 Result of the race can be found at:

The Adventure:
  The race was not over yet that I was already thinking about the adventure to come the following day.
After discussion, Reiner, Ross and myself decided to get up a local mountain: Crystal Peak. The mission involved biking on a new logging road which took us near the alpine and from there, it was a nice ridge walk & glacier walk to the summit! Peter, a friend of Reiner's parents who also did the race decided to part in our little adventure so it made for a really nice group dynamic.
Pictures are better then words so here's a few shots of the day!

Thank you to Reiner, Rudy and Patricia for the kind Valemount hospitality!
And to Ross, Karen, Carla, Bryon, Martha & Yanna  for the great laughters!
The Destination
Pluto Mt Dog



Summit Smiles

Alpine Snack

Summit Box

View from the Peak

Views from the Peak

Monday, August 27, 2012

Parts of August

Blanket From Begbie

August has been really good to us in BC... nice weather and the beautiful alpine now free of snow made for great adventure opportunities. This blog post is for my friends and family who want to know what I have been up too as they may live too far to know and love to see pictures. For the other people who live in similar playground, I hope this will inspire you to get out there and play and give you enough information to do similar adventures!

August Part 1
After spending 4 days in Fernie doing the TransRockies, a few days back at home to recharge and pack and we were on our way back to Waterton Lake National Park.
It all starts with an idea and that one was in Andrew's mind for a long time...Running/Speed walking to as many summits as we could in 3 days.
     Day 1
From the start, we had to change our route plan from scrambling since it was raining. We started at Red Rock canyon carrying the lightest backpack we could for multi day trip (only bivy, dehydrated food and some warm cloths). We took the trail to Goat Lake and gained the first summit of the journey; Mt Newman. We then carried on the Avion Ridge and down to Lost Lake and Twin Lake. We climbed back up a steep trail to the Col and ridge walked to the second summit; Bauerman.  We carried on towards Lost Peak but we started to run out of time knowing we still had 10 plus kilometres to cover before even getting to the campground. We got to Lone Lake happy to put the packs down and the legs up for a night of rest.
 Day 2
From the Lone campsite, we left our packs behind to reach the first peak of the day; Lone Mt. A nice winding trail took us back to valley bottom and then to a nice gradual climb on a shall rock brough us back to the alpine. We finally gained the summit of Mt. Hawkins mid-day and carried on towards Blakiston but had to reassessed our objective as the distance was greater then what we have anticipated. Back on the trail, we carried on to climb Mt Rowe and bush-walked our way to Cameron Lake. As the sun was setting, we started to climb back up towards Summit lake. 4 kms later, headlamps on, we climbed in the dark a nice sidehill trail to get to Carthew Pass. The bright moon was lighting up our steps as we climbed down to Carthew Lake and finally to Alderson Lake. 1 am,...quite a bit depleted, we crawled in the bivy bags for a well deserved rest.
  Day 3
How often do people sleep in till 11am when camping, I'm not sure, but it certainly was a first for me. After 2 solid days, we did agree that getting back to Red Rock was the mission of the day. Back on the Alderson Lake trail, we covered the distance back to the Townsite in no time. Back to civilization,  Waterton was a complete ZOO... A quick snack enjoying some people watching and we were heading back up a trail towards Crandell Lake. Finally, we gained Red Rock Parkway and decided to hitchhike to avoid 5 kms of paved busy road.
 Back at the car, we unfolded and snacked smiling of the opportunity to take off the running shoes! We drove back down to the Townsite, put the canoe on the water and paddle down a few kilometres to Bertha Bay where we camped on the side of the lake.
3 Days of Waterton

August Part 2
 As it was the first Revelstoke Bike Festival, I really wanted to take part on the Criterium. Since it was only at the end of the day, I decided to zip up the Asulkan Cabin from Loop Brook for a nice morning run. After soaking the legs, it was Criterium time downtown Revy. No time to waste, at 5 am the following day, myself and friend Don Robertson were on our way to Kelowna to race in a 6 hours MTB enduro race. It was only 38 degrees in the heat of the day and the 12.5 km loop was super flowy, very loose and fun! We played in the dust all day and completed 8 laps of the course setting the most laps of the day. I felt a bit stupid mid-day when I was thinking I ran 20km the previous day... but the legs held on till the end fortunately!

Dirty Feet Enduro Race

August Part 3

From Biking to Mountaineering
An other brilliant idea from mister McNab brought us to climb a local landmark but in an atypical way... We left town on our bikes with hiking backpacks and ice axe direction Mt Begbie. The road was the most time we spent on our bike as we started to climb the Rec. trail, it became obvious that we would act as Sherpas carrying our bike all the way to the toe of the glacier. Finally there, we traded the bike gear for mountaineering gear and walked on the glacier till we reached the bolted ledge. After getting over the little exposed section, it was a nice easy scramble to the top of Mt Begbie. Back down, boot skiing the glacier was awesome. As the sun was coming down, we got back to our bikes for some gnarly DH action. I won't lie, I walked down lots of section but it was awesome. Back to the road, we rushed back to hit the Nomad minutes before they closed. 9 hours door to door....what a day!
Ledge Mt Begbie

The Begbie Bike Adventure was followed by sunset ride of Frisbee Ridge with friends visiting. Their facial expression at the end of the ride was worth a million! They were simply blown away by the trail, the views and the alpine flowers.
Frisbee Ridge

August Part 4
Tumbeling Creek
Now onto my brilliant ideas... back to back alpine trail runs. I decided to go hangout with the alpine flowers up on Frisbee Ridge. What a beauty..! Steady climb for 10 km and back down. It was only the warm-up for the next day. Andrew tagged-in to the Rockwall in a day plan! We got to Lake Louise on saturday evening and at 7 am sharp, were running from Floe Lake Parking lot. We gained the lake in just over an hour and got to Numa pass feeding from the beauty around us. Alpine flowers, majestic landscape, wildlife,... We ran down to Numa campsite where we took a first break. Then up we went to gain Tumbeling Pass and back down to Tumbeling Creek. One more climb brought us to Rockwall pass and back down to Helmet Creek. From there, it was easier terrain but the legs were getting a bit fed up with the exercise. 14.6km to the highway at that point, we got told we could not get out at Paint Pot so we went all the way to Marble Canyon to find my well stashed road bike for a total of 55km. A 15 km road bike later with no shammy, no helmet and no bike shoes.... in addition to head winds, I finally retrieve the car! Fresh cold veggies and banana bread have never tasted this good!

Floe Lake
Numa Pass

Tumbeling Creek

Helmet Creek

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trans Rockies Experience

TR3 Report
If you are a mountain biker in BC or Alberta, you probably heard of the TransRockies. It’s a classic 7 days MTB stage race between Fernie and Canmore.  In the last few years, the organizers decided to also have a 3 days version and a 4 days version of the race.

Having never done a stage race on my bike before, I was quite excited to sign-in and was really looking forward to the event. Being a bit budget cautious, I decided that the TR3 would be in my price range.  I was not disappointed to say the least! 
Getting into Fernie on the Thursday before the event allowed for a nice mellow recon ride on the Friday. Already the town started to vibrate with tons of athletic dynamic people on the main strip enjoying the warm sunshine. 

Stage 1
Day one was a time trial stage from downtown and onto the trails on the East side of town. Racers were starting at 1 minute intervals.  The stage was starting with a nice long undulating climb in order to spread-out the riders even more before entering the single-tracks. Then it was the real start of it all… the typical Fernie “work for your descent” type riding. Nothing against it really besides from the fact that it makes for hard racing! The first long climb was on a trail called “Hyperventilation” so no need to explain that it was switchbacks after switchbacks all the way to the top of a mountain! But then the reward was a fast super flowy descent! Following was a bunch of super fun twisty trails on a really fun network.

Stage 2
Day two was a mass start. We gathered on the main strip and at 9am sharp, the peloton followed an old fire truck on the highway all the way to a subdivision where we started to climb under another steep powerline. It was wheel to wheel for a little while trying to get into position and keep the head somewhat down to get into the rhythm. Some gnarly culvert crossing on the first descent took people by surprise… it was certainly an interesting start to the race. Then a singletrack, which was very long climb, had us zigzag forever in the forest and finally out of the shade on an avalanche path. The trail at the top was really loose and quite side-hill. Again, when came time to start descending, racers had to be on their game and not look on the downhill side.  From there, we were in for a super long descent on some amazing flowy singletracks! What a blast!... the descent was so long, my hands were almost cramping!  Onto the second half of the race, we had to go up again on the other side of the valley on an undulating trail to a very steep hike-a-bike. Then, another super fun flowy descent later, we were up climbing but this time on the Fernie Resort trails. We were on a Green Run so it was sustain climbing but it sure was not a rest. Finally at the top of the climb, we went down one of the blue runs of the Bike Park! At that point in the race, I was following a European rider (who was biking with me all day…) and he was showing me the line all the way to the finish! What a day!

Stage 3
We knew that day 3 was gonna be a hell of a ride with 1800m of positive gain in 30 kms…but what a day it was.  Day 3 was a mass start again at Fernie Resort. We climbed forever on the ski hill, which allowed for the pack to be well spread before the first descent. We then zigzagged down a green run in the bike pack before more climbing some more then onto a more technical trail down.  On that trail, you certainly had to keep the head up and pick the line.  A creek crossing later, we were onto an old train track trail then a trail full of roots, which made riders work very hard!  Shortly after the 1st feed stating, there it was, the 10 km climb! It started all right with nice kicks on a logging road but it turned into some really steep sections under the blistering sun. A bit of relief brought us a few meters from the finish line but it was not the end… from there, the volunteers were screaming:” one hour… keep it up…!” What?!  And yeah, it was about 1 hour of climbing! On a logging road to start with, we ended up on an overgrown section of trail, which opened up to amazing views of the backcountry.  A long side hill section brought us to the ridge we had to climb and the steepness what not about to let go! A small descent later and we were back on steep singletrack climbing. Looking up, we could see rider a few switchbacks ahead in the alpine which was at time motivating or torturing. Then finally at the top of the mountain, it was time to bring it home. We descended on a hiking trail with super sharp switchbacks and rolling drops. All smiles at that point, it was just a matter of staying on the bike and keeping good speed!  It was quite the drop to Island Lake Lodge where the finish line was. Another gorgeous day, which rounded up the TR3.

It was a super fun event! I think the recipe for a good time is the following:
1-    Be ready to climb a lot cuz it’s steep out there!
2-    Go with amazing fellow racers, rent a nice condo and have a good time!
3-    Have a recovery plan (food, ice cold water deeps & Olympics watching with legs up)
4-    Enjoy the moment cuz it’s temporary…even if it’s pain!
5-    Eat, Race, Eat, Sleep and do it all over again.

Thx for Skookum Cycle and Ski for fixing my bike and providing me with a toolbox of spare pieces! Congrats to all the racers and specially Michael Robinson 8th place in open men  and Tony Routley for his 6th place 40+ category. 

Full results and details can be found at:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Start of mountain bike race season!

 After some exiting spring skiing mission, now is time to but the planks away and get back on 2 wheels! The mountain bike season started a bit on a sour note for me with a small head injury while riding the Salty Dog race course a month prior to the event.  Fortunately, thank you to Amy and Helios Physiotherapy and Massage, the whiplash and minor concussion were addressed so I had enough time to get back on the bike and get ready for the first events of the season.The season started with the #1 Arrow Helicopter XC race put together by the Revelstoke Cycling Association Race committee. Close to 30 people gathered for the event. The course took us through some of the lower trails like Hemlock Grove, Quarry and Yew R Here part of the Macpherson trail network. It was great to see so many people out even in the rain. Thank you to Bart and Chloe for their work putting the calendar together again this year and to all the volunteers behind the event!

Results can be found here:
Arrow Helicopter XC Race
Picture by Kip Wiley

A few days later was the annual 6 hours Enduro Salty Dog in Salmon Arm. As per the previous years, XC racers from all over drove to the South Canoe trail network to take part in the event. While we gather at 6:30 am for the drive on Sunday may 13th, the sun was already out and promised to be shining all day.  Of course, it was the first warm day of spring and god did it ever get hot! After getting installed and all geared up, I met up with my favorite XC racing buddy, Michael Robinson who came from the Coast to race. All racers lined up on a field below the trail network for the start. It was amazing to be part of a group of 400 riders ready to get sweaty and dusty over the following 360 minutes.  The trails were in amazing shape and fellow racers were really friendly, cheering one another especially towards the end of the event.  It was great to bump into Revelstoke racers, most wearing the new RCA kit. It was also super to bump into Michael has he lapped me toward to the end of the event! I had a good race, keeping in my mind the word “consistency” and also being mindful of any dizziness due to the head/neck injury. The upper body was the least of my concern when I started to get massive leg cramps around the 6-7th lap.  I completed 8 laps (same as last year) but 9 minutes faster, which I was happy about.

A particular thank you to: Al from Skookum for fixing my bike and making it race ready

Giant for the sweet Anthem Advance 1

Amy at Helios for being so good at what she does!

Brad at Hammer for providing product to the Ski Mountaineering team, which I found very useful during the race! 

Congrats to all the people who took part in the event. A big thank you to all the volunteers and Skookum for organizing the event (Tom & Greg).  Congrats to all the Revy people! Bart Jarmula, Courtney Rennie, Atsuko Knight, Pete Smiley, Tom Madlung, Richard Mulligan, Rich Hamilton, Rory Luxmoore, Amy Guidinger & Sarah Newton,… I know I’m forgetting a few people here because there was a lot of us out there…Here are some of the results for the Solo Category Solo Expert W

1st  Jenn Schulz (Congrats, I know she was really going for it!)

2nd Mel Bernier

3rd Fernie Fix 

Solo Expert M

1st Michael Robinson!!!! Yeahhh! Good work buddy, you smashed it!

2nd Luke Way

3rd Peter Watson 

Full Results here: Next stop, Nimby 50 in Pemberton on May 26th!