Most beautiful places I’ve run – what about you?

In three weeks I’ll be heading to Cape Breton for a family event (YAHOO Nick & Trace). Like most runners, I enjoy different scenery and challenges, so this got me to thinking: where is the nicest place you’ve run?

Voted one of the best Islands in the world (and #1 in Canada) by Leisure + Travel magazine readers, I’d have to say that the most beautiful place I’ve ever run is Cape Breton.I grew up on the island so I do happen to feel quite biased in this decision, but I’ve run on other islands and this one is by far the most beautiful; bursting with colour and personality. (And of course, great people.) 

Of the 276.33km of the Cabot Trail, I’ve run 66.88km. Of course, not all at once (I wish.) For several years I participated in the Cabot Trail Relay – a 17 stage relay race through the trail. The race itself was a ton of fun and the camaraderie of runners has been unmatched anywhere else (at least for me.) The challenge of the trail, the jovial spirit of the teams (or most, anyway) and the milestone of being able to say “I ran part of the Cabot Trail” is well-worth the ups and downs of training. Now, if Westjet would lower their prices for flights going West to East, I would be one happy camper and make it out there annually!

I’ve also participated in the first Race to the Sea in Port aux Basque, Newfoundland. I can truthfully tell you I absolutely HATED every minute of this run. The scenery was beautiful and the people were wonderful, but I did NOT enjoy my run. I ran leg #8, which was a 12.4 km run from the ferry terminal to a cemetery. I mentally blocked a lot of things during the race (like not drinking any water)…but I do remember being at the base of  a hill and a onlooker told me that the finish line was at the top – he lied! I still had a bit of ways to go – and hills. It was hot. And muggy. And they were so lucky it was a free bar (sponsored by I don’t know who, some beer company) because I was fit to be tied. I had an awesome team (despite them trying to scare the shit out of me by lying & telling me to watch for moose up ahead)! And other than the running part, the team + celebratory drinks were the best! We also got screeched in, which was hilarious! And then met one of the Canadian Idols. It was a cool race.

And as much as I complain about the difficulty of running in Alberta, there are some pretty beautiful places to run. In the next few weeks I’ll be running hills in Springbank. YAHOO! The icing is that despite being pretty steep, the view of the mountains is incredible. When I first moved to Alberta it was January and Calgary was experiencing a Chinook. At the time I thought it was the strangest thing in the world (I had just left the cold, damp eastern Canadian winter.) But I put on my shorts and went for a run. It was so bizarre! I do remember it being harder to breathe, but I guess over time it’s gotten easier.

These are the three nicest places I’ve run.

Where’s the nicest place you have run?

Beer running: not just a beer run

So I’ve always been curious about whether having a beer (or two) the night before a run, would help or hinder performance. Back in my heyday, I remember having a few beer at the local Yacht Club when I agreed to run a 10K the next morning. Of course, I woke up feeling like crap and was hoping the other person was either just as hungover or worse-off but then my phone rang. Mentally I knew there was no possible way I could do a 10K on a hot July morning but incredibly, I did; quick to boot! We left shortly after lunch and finished in less than an hour to my amazement – I have no idea how I made it through. I definitely don’t attribute that success to having had beer the night before; coincidence and a lot of luck. But I do wonder: if you have a pre-run routine that includes beer, does it really have any effect on your run?

When I started researching it, I came across a few important facts. Some research shows that there may be some health benefits to drinking beer in moderation. Apparently, the B vitamins and chromium found in the malt and hops; others from the flavinoids that may actually reduce the risk of heart attack and cancer. Obviously there’s lots of controversy, but here are a few points:

(1) despite joking about drinking beer as carb-loading, due to the way alcohol is metabolized in the body most excess carbs are actually stored as fat; ironically you’re actually fat-loading (as if I need any more of that!)

(2) alcohol is a diuretic, so it can leave you dehydrated (no, drinking more won’t help!) so if you decide to have a beer, make sure you drink water before and after.

(3) alcohol slows the recovery rate, makes you less coordinated and reduces body heat

I think the list is pretty common-sense, but I do often forget how much booze causes you to become dehydrated. I also think everything is okay in moderation.

Along the same lines, I’ve always wanted to do one of these Beer Mile runs. Heard of them? The Hash House Harriers call themselves “a drinking club with a running problem.” (My kind of people) The group has spread all over the world – even here in Calgary! Hashing is a non-competitive cross-country run through varied terrain and every Monday the crew gets together and follows a trail set by the “Hare.” They claim that “Hashing is to competitive running what slo-pitch is to major league baseball.”  Some of the rules are pretty interesting, for example: if you mention the word “race” or “marathon” while among Hashers, and you have to chug a beer! Since I don’t consider myself competitive, I probably wouldn’t have a problem with the rules. However, I bet that lady from the reservoir today would roll home afterward.

If you want to read more about it, there’s a good article in the Globe and Mail. Very interesting as they talk to long-time runners about rigid training (like me) and I tend to agree with everything they say. I fully intend on trying this out, but not until I’ve managed to make it through my half-marathon training. I know, I know… the dude from G & M says to have fun first, but I’m sure he’s already run a half, so I’d like to attain that as well!

View of Glenmore reservoir from recumbent trike ride – amazing.

Okay – saw this video while googling the reservoir. Looks like fun. Do you think the dog is having a good time or wants to jump? I now want one of these trike things… F & I could get up to a lot of shenanigans!