Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vollie at Dirty Girls

Okay, here is how my logic worked during the DG weekend...  I think a lack of sleep played a role.  After hiking the Tour de Mont Blanc, we spent a few days in Annecy, a tourist town on the east side of France.  To avoid confusion (this also played a part), I'll keep all times in EST.  We woke up in Annecy, France at 01:30 AM on Friday morning and drove to the airport in Geneva Switzerland.  So far, so good.  The flight was longish at 11 hours, with a stop in Montreal.  Just long enough to debark, get our luggage, clear customs and board the same plane we had been on 90 minutes before!

We left Pearson airport in Toronto circa 7:00 PM and drove home.  Just a quick note - I finished unpacking 4 days later, when I had a few moments.  After a few chores and some unpacking, it was 10:30 PM and time for bed.  For those trying to do the conversion, it was 4:30 AM Saturday in France.  I woke up at 04:00 AM Saturday, showered and drove to the DG race, which is 10 minutes from my house.  Not sure if you see where this is going, but I had only 5.5 hours of sleep in the last 28 and my day was just starting!

Volunteering at an aid station keeps you busy.  I had a wonderful time supporting and cheering on the 24 and 48 hour runners.  The day just flew!  Next thing I know, it is 5:00 PM and I am getting very tired.  I figure (this is completely wrong) that I would get to sleep early and show up at the race site at 02:00 AM Sunday, the point where most vollies and runners are starting to have a really tough time.  I went home, did some chores (we had been away for 2 weeks) and got to bed at 10:00 PM...  I woke up at 02:00 AM Sunday morning and was at the race site by 02:30 AM.  Anyone keeping track of how much sleep I was getting, because I didn't!  The race finished at 08:00 AM and I broke course.  Someone was nice enough to help, so I only had to pick up the flags, tape, signs and garbage for half the course, or 4K.

For no apparent reason, I was tired at work for the next 4 days!

I'll post again soon, but that's it for today.  On my run this evening, I was stung by a yellow jacket wasp.  Almost the exact same spot I was stung last year.  Seriously!  Within meters of the same spot on the same trail!  I hate wasps!  The insect.

35 weeks until retirement...

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Busy Month

Embarrassment:  Having to read the previous entry in order to determine how for behind I am in posting...

My last entry was July 18, about the UCC.  Since then, I have:

July 29 - August 9:  Hiked the Tour de Mont Blanc
August 10 - 11:  Volunteer at Dirty Girls 12/24/48 hour race
August 17 - 18:  Crew and paced for Lee Anne at the Beast of Burden 100 mile race
August 24:  Assistant race director for Creemore Copper Kettle Dash
August 25:  Start cutting firewood (a few months behind on this task)
August 26:  That would be today

Options are to write a brief summary of each event, or to present a rambling discourse on the events, as I see fit.  Guess what!

Tour de Mont Blanc

If I were to assume the stance of a pampered, stereotypical North American, I would mention that I complained to the tourist information kiosks in France, Italy and Switzerland that they should pave some of the steeper sections.  Lee Anne and I (subsequently known as "we") climbed upwards of 4 hours at a time!  The Mont Blanc massive (a grouping of mountains) is very hilly.  Makes the CVC look flat.  On day 3 during the first 4 hours of a 9 hour day, we climbed 1600 meters.  Think of Blackcomb out west and you have a reasonable grasp of the task.  I should mention that we did not take any lifts to get to the top of the col...

The views?  Outstanding!  The food and wine?  Please - a moment's silence.  Describing food in Italy is like trying to explain how beautiful Lake Louise is to someone who has never seen the mountains.  And the coffee, the coffee.  A work of art!  One sip and the hassle of getting to Europe evaporates.  Forget that it is mindlessly expensive.  We had 2 thimbles of coffee in the Geneva airport (I think "thimble" is the correct descriptor in this case) for $13 CAD.  I was a bit shocked after doing the math (after paying), but one sip later, felt it was a bargain.

We did what Macs Adventure calls the "Tour de Mont Blanc in Comfort".  Before you start snickering, I don't like camping.  Technically, I do like camping, but my back and neck do not.  I cannot sleep in a tent.  I have not camped for 12 years because of this.  One key component of the Tour de Mont Blanc is that most people use the Refuges (really really lousy hotels) or camp during the trek.  Macs Adventure put together a package where we hiked most of the TMB, but stayed in hotels.  One night, we stayed in a Refuge, but otherwise, it was a fantastic meal followed by sleep in a real bed.  Perfect!

We got lost on our first day.  Technically, I got us lost, but no one told me there would be more than one col on any given climb.  We got to the top of the col, figured out we were lost, asked some locals for guidance and the one older gentleman said it would be impossible to get where we needed to go today.  I was tempted to tell him we had night gear and could hike the entire night, but figured it would break something in his psyche, to figure out that we could go further than him, if needed.  By climbing over a mountain (not really what I would describe as a shortcut), we managed to get to our destination in 9 hours.  Tough first day!

Hiking "most: of the TMB" in 6 days is a workout.  The problem with staying in hotels is that they are "way down there" and the trail is up around 8000 feet.  A typical day was:  Hike up to the tree line, hike along the tree line, hike down to the next town.  Repeat for 6 days.  But if conditioning is not a big factor, try this one!  The scenery, views, food, wine, experience is incredible.

We have a sobering idea of how hard the Ultra (UTMB) would be.  Considered the toughest ultra in Europe, it would be no walk in the park.  Although the TMB trail does not summit Mont Blanc, 100 people die climbing Mont Blanc every year.  4 people died the week we were hiking the TMB.  I would love to do the UTMB!  I doubt I ever will, as the 166K race has a 45 hour cut-off.

I'm going to break here, but will be back to update from DG to CKD very soon.

Run many, fall down few!