Eye Candy: The Most Fun Pictures

I recently gave a pecha kucha presentation at my work about vision and goals. Naturally, my topic was about how a bit of fun can help us smash goals big-time.

My approach?

I went with my favourite images, pictures that scream fun and just HAD to be shared. I can just talk around the images, I thought.

The images? Well, for my birthday last year we ran an “octopus run” around Vancouver, with a finish line at my favourite classy gay sports bar, which puts onion rings on its drinks. (What’s an octopus run, you ask? Well, it’s eght people strapped to me via fabric straps, in close proximity, while running together. It’s key to training.)

I had such a fun time putting the images together, I pulled an all-nighter doing it, just enthralled, flow state. It felt like I was buiding a silent movie…

All credit goes to the amazing talented Peder Sande.

Okay. I have to share them. Here they are!

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”https://www.slideshare.net/alwoods/pecha-kucha-pez-v3&#8243; title=”Pecha kucha pez v3″ target=”_blank”>Pecha kucha pez v3</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/alwoods&#8221; target=”_blank”>Alicia Woodside</a></strong> </div>

Relax and run: 2013 Deception Pass 50km

The Vancouver+Seattle crew and I looked forward to this relaxing weekend in Deception Pass for quite some time. Sure, we were running Rainshadow Running’s 50km on Sunday, but for us that’s synonymous with good friends, good food, beautiful trails, and fun– and what could be more relaxing?

After a great day of meeting friends new & old and hydrating like a true wino, I go to bed wearing my runsie, race-ready. Getting dressed is always a challenge in the morning, I think. It’s the morning of the race and I’m up at five, super keen to continue working on my creative project. (A pecha kucha on “fun” and goals.)  Ah, dawn… this is when I feel most creative. People start to wake up and wonder where I am in the house, and that’s when I make my way to the breakfast area. Instinctively, I dump maple syrup all over the oatmeal I obtain from the rental house cupboard. But the oatmeal is not tasting sweet this morning, it’s tasting oily / sesame-y. I take a few bites thinking I will force myself to down it anyway, then I momentarily regain self-respect and decide that wasting in this case, is the least harmful option for all involved. I toss the oily oats with confidence. Take two.

Alicia, where are you?! Call Meghan and Tara. (I’m off in a corner, working creatively again.) But it’s time to put the project down for now, despite the creative frequency I’m experiencing. It’s time to turn off my brain and run– athletic playtime.

We drive out to the race start and decide not to pay for the parking pass. (Instead I use my US cash to buy my mom a Tribute to the Trails calendar, which has a lot of my face on it.)

Just as daylight breaks the race begins and a bunch of guys shoot out like it’s a road marathon. I follow in not too far behind like I know what I’m doing. I was curious. Before this race, I had traded formal, structured “training” for simple, fun trail runs everyday to work, and I’m really curious to see how I will fare today on my new “lifestyle” approach to trail running. My hypothesis is that I will do better with this format, and deep down, I’m motivated to validate this new approach today.

Barry is ahead of me and it gives me a reassuring reference point (good, I’m not going too fast!). But before long I am on his heels, which feels weird. Barry is always way ahead, so what was I doing getting so close to him? Next thing I know he’s encouraging me to pass him, and go find his friend John up ahead the snakey trail. Okay, I’ll take the lead for a bit, I think, and tell Barry I will surely see him later.

I keep prancing along, loving the rolling, mildly technical single-track, which is sort of what I’m built for. (I grew up running this sort of trail alongside my dad’s mountain bike on Burnaby Mountain, in British Columbia.) I am running along and having a blast. Angel and Tim give me personalized cheering at aid stations, Aggie plays the obvious choice– Eye of the Tiger, and Dave follows my every step on the bridge with his camera for the race video. (Yikes in advance.) After a while my friend Elliot catches up and joins along, which is comforting coupled with the fact that I’m realizing Elliot’s a liar– he had confided in me that he was so not ready for this race, he almost didn’t start. Ya, right Elliot. Not buying it.

alicia 1

Half-calf socks. So hot right now.

A little while later, I’ve finished about 1/3 of the race and I start to question whether I’ve gone out too hard. I don’t believe in wearing a watch, and one implication of this is you have no idea about “pacing”. You just go. I’ve never run this course, I’ve never really tried running an ultra as fast as I can before this, and I’ve come here off of an experimental new approach to training, with no recorded runs, no tempos, and no intervals except being late for work on frequent occasion. So basically, every variable is uncertain. The only thing I know is how I feel in the present moment, and whether my Bud hat is on backwards or forwards. (Right now, backwards.) I’m feeling good, but I’m not feeling unlimited anymore.

I encounter the first relatively hard climb in this run, which is leading us up to a place called Goose Point. I hope it’s nice. As my legs burn up this hill I’m starting to regret going out so intensely with the top 10 or 15 boys. Just as I begin this sense of hesitation, a woman comes whizzing by and up ahead out of nowhere it seems, she’s so quiet. She’s running by at such a fast, effortless clip that I wonder if she’s even in the race? Maybe she’s some random girl out for a short, fast training run. I reassure myself. But I know better.

When I loop back to the aid station, “2nd place woman!” confirms my suspicion that yes, this fast chick is indeed part of the 50km race. (I meet her after the race, and she’s fellow Canuck Stacey Carrigan.) Ah, well, I think. To salvage my mental state I dig deep to think in terms of teamwork, instead competition, and like usual, my mindset alters with it. Sweet… she can go ahead for us and better the women’s placement! I think. Go! It was like we were the women’s side, and we just got a substitute with fresh legs in the game. We needed a boost! I think.

Angel is asking me all about my favourite beer. Whistler Chestnut, obviously!

Angel is asking me all about my favourite beer. Whistler Chestnut, obviously!

This sort of thinking guides me through the next half of the race in huge comfort and enjoyment. The final mileage covers a 7-mile lollipop twice over, and then finishes with about a mile of road, and then ~ two miles of single track. I get into a crazy rhythm during the lollipops, which are really fun, fast rolling miles around a double-track trail. The cool feature of this part of the race is that you get to interact with everyone else running, and there is always someone to “catch” in front of you, even though it may be your second lap and their first lap. (Elliot later admitted to, while lapping people, pretending he was eating their souls.)

I feel great and open up my stride, running blissfully. This is when I start to feel effortless again, and I re-catch sets of men who were ahead of me earlier in the race. There’s a tiny climb and as I power-hike on the second loop, I hear a cheer from behind, it’s Barry urging me on ahead. I’m not really sure what it means, if it means that I’m close to my female counterpart, but it feels hugely supportive, so I just take the energy and run.

Angel and Tim have been running around the course and cheering like trail groupies the whole time, and now I see them again and they tell me, she’s only one minute ahead of you! We timed it! I consider the new information but you know what? I’ve convinced myself by now that 1st versus 2nd doesn’t matter, and I can’t see her in sight down the trail, so I just carry on without a care. But I would like to catch Elliot…

As it turns out, the carefreeness really works for me, because apparently I speed up when I’m relaxed. I hit the final aid station again and just keep gunning down the road. This is exactly the point that my thoughts start to disconnect with my body. I discover that it’s 3 miles left, and even though that still seems far to kick, my body goes into a really strange mode I’ve maybe never experienced before. I’m running down the road like it’s a 3k race, pretty much possessed. Some guys beside me tell me, Hey! There’s the 1st place female! I shrug them off, this check is looking strong and she’s still 100 meters away, and hey, 2nd is great, right? But somehow, my body is drumming to a different beat, rejecting all of the mental compromise, and I’m running down the road like the possessed, track-loving road marathoner that lurks inside. Is this actually coming down to a road race?! And deep, deep inside, unconsciously the wheels turn, I’ve made a challenge and subsequently accepted. It’s the perfect scenario to validate my new non- training.

Right after entering the lead, the final singletrack!

Right after entering the lead, the final singletrack!

On the road, my legs find a mind of their own and close down the gap from 100 meters, to about 40. We arrive at the final stretch of trail, and I’m not sure if I will catch her. It’s still a good gap between us and my insides are starting to feel gross, I’m entering the anaerobic hell mode I so resist encountering. Then, in the double-track trail there’s a pretty good short hill and my body finds this crazy down-shift, powering me up to an extent I’ve never experienced before. It’s dangerous because I have no idea how much trail is left exactly, but my body does it without thought.Despite the pain, I’m finding a way to go faster than ever, and next thing I know I’m passing beside her, to my own surprise probably even more than hers. I’m not sure what to expect as I come, but she congratulates me and says, great kick! Shortly after we enter the final single-track with me in the lead, and I feel a bit safer. With all due respect to my mind, the mindless approach in just letting my body go created this amazing, unrealistic result, beyond anything I could plan reasonably.

I finish to high-five Elliot and to my surprise, discover I’ve set a female course record out there. That’s news to me! Barry comes in soon after and brings us some yummy beers the instant he finishes, and soon after come my lead female teammate Stacey Carrigan, my buddy Meghan, and a while after, a went-out-too-fast, tutu-clad Tara.

We had so much fun!

We had so much fun!

The one thing that was not a surprise on this day, was the fun race and post-race festival created again by Rainshadow Running. Yummy beers, freshly made pizza, live folk music, and all with inspiring, delightful people I’m proud to call friends. It was an amazing weekend that I’d love to share again in 2014.

Let’s all go back next year and take down this women’s record that Stacey helped me set!

Ultra nerds, here’s more stuff to check out!
Barry wrote a better recap about this race on his blog here.
Elliot wrote about eating souls (running the 50k) here.
The amazing Rainshadow Running series of fun here.
Race website here, there’s a 50k and a 25k.

Awesome pics of the people in this report, courtesy of Glenn Tachiyama:









Meghan - best picture!

Meghan – best picture!

Mountain Run to Work

It’s 2pm. Mid-meeting, I start to feel an insatiable hunger and I wonder if there are any snacks left in my bag. Shit. There aren’t. It’s a sinking feeling and I’m sure you’ve been there, distracted by the hunger for second lunch. So I turn to foodie teammate Brian Pederson and plead,

Brian, have you seen any carbs?!

A typical midnight snack example. Full-fat ice cream, blueberry juice, & red wine for anti-inflammatory purposes!

A typical midnight snack example. Full-fat ice cream, blueberry juice, & red wine for anti-inflammatory purposes!

With nearly 900 people around, we know that birthday cakes are somewhere in the building. Usually in Merchandising, on their high table. Today I’m in luck, Brian tells me that he has dates in the big fridge around the corner, and in between my next phone call I rush around to the fridge in a very primal manner. As expected from Brian, these dates are of the finest quality.

My Dreamy Active Commute  

my favourite bridge view in the world

my favourite bridge view in the world

I did the math in my head today and thanks to my active commute and a growing obsession with lunch yoga and inversions, I spend half of my day in active state. And I have an office job, like some of you.

For a long time, my vision was to frolick on my favourite trails for a good chunk of time every single day. But there was a disconnect; I remember thinking, how do I make this happen? I for sure didn’t want to be a park ranger and I loved my job, which involved inventing as a team everyday. I thought, do I work doing research from a wifi caravan parked woodside? Probably not… It was a lifestyle that I couldn’t quite grasp.

The start of my daily adventure! I live up here,

The start of my daily adventure! I live up here, I work down there… just behind the tall buildings!

I followed my vision and moved to the North Shore of Vancouver– as high up as I could go on the mountainside while still being on the grid. My street is a trailhead, where real darkness emerges for the stars to play, along with some friendly bears. 😉

I get to run the beautiful Skyline every day!

Is this commute for real?! No traffic jams here…

When I moved up to here in August from Kitsilano, my new roommates laughed at my idea of biking or running to work back in Kits. But I’m pretty stubborn, and I knew I would make it happen if I could find the trails to do it. I wasn’t about to drive to work, and bussing to work seemed like nothing exciting. For sure it would be a challenge, but that made it all the more appealing. Why do anything normal if you’re going to be awake before 9am?

So for the past four months I’ve been prototyping my active commute through different strategies:

Strategy 1, August … Road-run both ways to work (approx. 10-12 miles each way)
Result: FAIL after 1 day.
Failure report: This commute was hard on the eyes and even more so on the body. Not feeling fun yet!

photo 4

Strategy 2, September … Road-cycle both ways to work
Result: FAIL after 1.5 months.
Failure report: Cycling every which way was going well, until one day I ran home and my legs got jealous of that experience… for me, running uphill is so much more pleasant than biking up!

Strategy 3, October … Duathlon to/from work
More on this:
I set up a duathlon where I left my bike, helmet, and cycling shoes about 5 miles down the hill from my house at Sian and Ross’ place, then I would run down a nice trail, use their house as a transition zone, then ride in, and do the reverse on the way home.
Result: Fun, alas! But I’m slow at transitions, and then I thought of the next idea and couldn’t contain my excitment…

still getting the hang of mid-run photography. On Capilano Pacific Trail!

Still getting the hang of mid-run photography. On Capilano Pacific Trail!

Strategy 4, November & still going! Mountain Running to work / hitchhiking home
More on this: 
I run my favourite trails to work everyday! I take Baden Powell and Skyline to the Grouse Mountain base, run down Nancy Greene Way then onto Capilano Pacific Trail, over Lionsgate Bridge and then a myriad of Stanley Park trails, before finally hitting a beach run to round out the ~20k. With a heavy pack I take my time and enjoy the scenery. The voyage home at night is all about rest and relaxation, I get to kick back as someone else chauffeurs me (usually the bus). I love it, the way home is optimized for weeknight parties, with no nice bike to worry about getting stolen, and no worries about having a drink or two.
Result: loving it!

Toward the end of my commute in... English Bay on an epic windstorm day!

Toward the end of my commute in I am greeted by a beautiful English Bay on an epic wind storm day!

Back at the office…

the office.

Typical coat rack specimen; the office.

You’ve been eating constantly since I’ve seen you, says Sian.

It’s true. It’s 3pm and when I reflect on the facts, that statement may be true. But if you check out my mileage from November and consider the good times I’m having every day in the forest, you’ll know it’s worth it.