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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Time to get serious! And time to avoid the Grizzlies!!!!

It has been wonderful taking time to heal from such a grueling training schedule.  Essentially, the entire month of August has been a training holiday.  Just knowing that a simple 30km/week is okay while recovering was an amazing feeling. The tough thing was having my bones and muscles protest throughout the night, and as I stepped onto my feet in the morning.  I learnt very quickly that stretching out my legs, with damaged knees, is something that has to be done slowly.  It only took me one night where my right leg was straightened and the instantaneous pain in my knee made sure that it would be done very gingerly every night thereafter.  It didn’t matter that I was barely awake.  
Even though it has been a time of healing I still had to get on the treadmill or hit the road , and some days it was tough.  The left knee hurt for a couple of weeks after the race, usually around 7-9km into a run.  My solution would be to slow down my pace so I was not pounding on my feet as hard.  It seemed to work, and by the end of the second week no left knee pain.
The right knee is a different matter.  It still hurts.  After all it took the brunt of the remaining race (38km).  Running throughout August it didn’t feel any worse and certainly it didn’t feel any better.  Being smart I realized that I would need to seek professional help (not of the psychological least not yet).  Plus, Pammie and I made a deal when we were descending Mt. Flood.  It was agreed upon that if I went to a physiotherapist and got my knee checked out she would get her knee checked out.  Which incidentally has been hurting her off and on for a few months.  
Brrr, it's cold in Kananaskis! 
So I made an appointment at Active Physiotherapy in Bridgeland.  I am incredibly happy that I went, and highly recommend it to anyone in Calgary looking for a physiotherapist.  Laura was fantastic.  No surprise I do have issues with my right knee.  She completed a thorough examination, asked many questions, explained what she was doing and why, and then administered some treatment.  The difference in the right knee during the assessment and after the treatment was huge.  Of course I have to go back for more treatments, and I have exercises to do daily.  Thankfully I am still allowed to run.  
I set myself up an appointment for a sports massage at Leela Eco Spa & Studio, which I went to this morning.  The idea was to go the day after my first long trail run, thinking it would be very beneficial.  It was very beneficial but I never did complete my long trail run.
Super Pam denanananana Super Pam!

The plan was to run Turbine Canyon in Kananaskis.  Great, a 30km trail run which meant I could do a couple of easy 5km runs throughout the week.  We arrived at the Upper Kananaskis Lake parking area to find a warning of a Mamma grizzly with her two cubs  are around the area of that trail.  No worries, Grizzlies are scary enough, Sow Grizzlies are way scarier so we changed our trail run.  A nice run around Upper Kananaskis Lake would be fantastic.  Not the distance planned, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.  On the trail there was a big pile of Berry Barf.....ewww.  Heads up, it was fresh.  We kept going, stopping and taking pictures along the way.  Chatting while we ran and the bear bells tinkling.  As we approached the other parking lot, approximately a third of the way around the lake, Pam mentioned that she was struggling.  As much as I didn’t want to be struggling, I was, and I admitted it.  VERY SMART, as it made her start to walk and we talked as we went from the picnic area to the other end of the parking lot.  I would say that Pammie is very intuitive, at that moment she asked “What do we do if we see a bear?”  As soon as those words were uttered we both stopped dead in our tracks.  A male adolescent grizzly walked out from the bushes 25 feet in front of us.  He looked at us, and Pam started to turn around to walk away.  I said, something to the effect of “don’t turn around, back away slowly, not so fast, nice and slow.”  He looked at the bush in front of him and then looked at us.  Unfortunately the wind was howling towards us, so our human scent was being taken away from us and not towards the Grizzly.  Most bears will avoid the trouble of humans, unless startled, we surprised him just a tiny bit.  Thank Sweet Baby Jesus.  He looked back at us, as we kept creeping slowly backwards.  Essentially letting him know that we were not a threat and didn’t want a confrontation.  Since we were not a threat he left us alone.  When we hit the pavement of the parking lot, after getting a picture, we headed to the pay phone and called in a report.  

We let the people in the parking lot know the bear was just on the other side of the lot down the trail, and very close.  They all hightailed it out of there, very smart.  
After the call was made we decided to return the direction we came from, we certainly were not going to head back towards the Grizzly. We walked and talked,  and definitely did NOT run.  Let me tell you it was a long 4.5 km back to the other parking lot.  The heightened sense of awareness was incredible, something I have never experienced before.  The adrenaline crash after we were safely back in my car was something I was familiar with.  
He is actually Big! Just can't tell with this shot :P
It was an incredible experience, one that I don’t really want to experience again.  But when you trail run in Alberta the chances are high that there are Bears and Cougars in the area.  Take note of the signs, avoid areas they have been spotted, and always carry protection.  Well the protection works for a bear, kiss your life goodbye if you are being stalked by a Cougar :P

That ended our day of trail running, so we headed home via the Smith-Dorrien trail and Canmore.  Where we spotted a baby moose.  So cute!   Needless to say my respect for wildlife is enormous, and seeing a Grizzly that close I have even more respect...if that is possible.  I am sad to say that as summer disappears so does my trail running in the mountains.  I will try to get as many mountain runs in September as possible, since my training schedule is finished summer holidays.
Baby Moose on the Smith Dorrien Trail