Sunday, January 12, 2014

Night run to Comox Lake dam

It was raining like crazy yesterday so I didn't go for my usual long Saturday run after my protein powder-banana pancake breakfast. Instead, I headed out early this morning at 5:30 a.m. while it was still dark. Trying out my new Nike dry max running tights, I had my headlamp on, and hit the trail around 6 a.m. leaving from the Fish Hatchery in Courtenay. Following the dirt service road running parallel to the hydro water tunnels I noticed my headlamp wasn't as bright as it should be. It illuminated a small patch of ground up to five meters ahead of me, plus it was lightly snowing, so visibility was poor. The first half hour I found my mind wandering, remembering a long conversation I had with a mountain man in the summer who had had several bear encounters in the area. He always carried a can of bear spray, and recommended that I have some too. I didn't have anything like that. Not even bear bells. The trail is in a secluded area, but it gets steady traffic from dog walkers, and the odd horse back rider. I told myself that all the dogs marking the trail side would probably discourage any predators. I was pretty sure of this. I remembered watching it on one of those survivor shows. I hoped I was right.

Nymph Falls trail from Rob Sargeant on Vimeo.

Running in the dark forest, after reaching the power station near Nymph Falls, the trail twisted and turned. I recognized where I was since I had passed through the trail so many times during the day. But it did seem like a different world. It definitely felt riskier in the early morning, before sunrise. It felt so good to get to the Comox Lake dam after an hour or so. The morning was breaking, but still dim with the clouded skies. I had to keep my headlamp on until I reached Nymph Falls, running on the other side of the Riverside Trail. By the time I reached the trail under the Highway 19 overpass the sun was fully up, its light sparkling off the wet ferns, and evergreen trees around me. Running in darkness has its challenges, but it makes me appreciate running in the light even more.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The highs and lows of 2013

2013 in many ways was an emotional roller coaster ride. The lows were related to the loss of my nephew, Joseph Sargeant, who was born with a heart defect, and wasn't able to get a donor heart in time to save his life. My brother, John-Paul, and his wife Sabina, did everything a parent could do to help a child born with a condition like this. The team of doctors and nurses at Toronto Sick Kids hospital did a wonderful job keeping Joseph alive, and comfortable, as long as they could, for a period of almost six months. Regional TV news coverage on City TV, and CBC, aired stories on Little Joe's plight and the need for a donor. A large prayer chain across Canada was started for him. I ran 60kms in September to raise support for Sick Kids Foundation wearing a photo of Little Joe pinned to my t-shirt.

The highs of 2013 included rich times spent with family and friends, and reaching some ultra-running goals. Olivia and I took a week long summer holiday to the west coast of Vancouver Island to enjoy the amazing scenery around Port Renfrew, and the Pacific Rim National Park. Finishing the Elk-Beaver 80 km Ultra in May, the 24km mountainous Kusam Klimb in June, and the 60 km, ten loops of the Nanaimo, Westwood Lake Trail in September were memorable achievements of 2013. I was also able to join the Heliset Hale First Nations Marathon Team in one of their stages running the length of Vancouver Island, raising support for suicide awareness (see video below).

It was encouraging this year to attend a college art show featuring some of our son, Andre's work (see below). His talents have improved over the years. He was paid to do some illustrations for a soon to be published children's book.

Entering 2014 I'm thankful that I'm not struggling with any injuries. I've started on a 16-week ultra training plan, hoping to improve on my speed and endurance for the upcoming season. I think I'll have more of a focus on trail running this year, as I seem to enjoy that more than pounding away the hours at the roadside. We'll see how things go.