Pre-Death Race

I’m in Grand Cache right now. It is blazing hot. And tomorrow is looking worse.
Tomorrow, bright and early, I start the Death Race. I WAS feeling fairly confident, but now, not so much. It is very hot, with a plan for 31 degrees tomorrow. That is higher than the melting point of . The orientation didn’t make it sound any better.
I’m trying to formulate a plan of how best to finish tomorrow. I think I have to acknowledge I won’t be as fast as last year. I’m just focussing on finishing for now.

Runner’s high

It was a nice run today. It got started early enough so it wasn’t hot yet. Plus it was a short 10km (tapering!) I had to do a lot of it alone; Most people going that short a distance are too slow and I would injure myself trying to keep pace with them. So I joined a longer group and then left them when I thought it would be appropriate.
The finish was spectacular though; A Flash mob was there cheering runners coming in, acting as if everyone was finishing a marathon. It felt like Disneyworld all over again. So I tried to make my finish as good as possible. And I won a trophy, nominally for being the most into the event. It does look more like a curling trophy though; Reuse centre apparently.
Honestly though, through a complete fluke, I found out about the event beforehand. So I made sure to show up and be supportive of the supporters.

In this economy, the banks must have lowered their standards

At work today I got a phone call from a blocked number. That probably should have been the first clue that it was a telemarketer, but I bit anyway. Turns out it wasn’t.
It was someone from Visa. They were concerned about the security of my card. Had I received my last statement? They confirmed my name and address, and then wanted me to tell them the expiry date to confirm I was who I said I was. That sounded suspicious. I told them “No”. I didn’t know him from Adam!
It was hard to understand him because he had a thick East Indian accent. (Or Nigerian?) But it sounded like he was getting threatening. Apparently if I didn’t tell him, then they would consider my card to be at risk and it would be cancelled. I would need to go to the bank to reactivate it.
By this point, my co-workers had overheard what was going on and were listening in. On their recommendation I asked to speak to his supervisor. His accent wasn’t much better, and I didn’t get any different information. He did tell me his name, gave me a phone number to call once I had the information, and a website.
The website looked like it was slapped together in FrontPage.
I phoned the telephone number on the back of MY Visa card. It took a few minutes to talk to a human. Apparently there are no issues with my card. I relayed everything that had happened. I think she was amused at how laughable an attempt this was to get my credit card information. But it is scary to think that this must be working on some people, otherwise they wouldn’t keep doing it.

The odyssey of Mount Temple

Over the weekend I was part of an expedition to summit a mountain in the Bow Range, far to the south of here. (Mount Temple. The same one we climbed last July.) In the course of events we lost half our party. We were forced to deal with avalanches and inclement weather. One foolhardy climber broke through the ice into rushing water. There were injuries and equipment falling from our grasp. It is a wonder any of us made it back to tell the tale.
We set out that day with fourteen brave souls. Two hours in we had already lost three men to the Minnestimma Lakes. (Actually, three women who had decided to only go that far and then turn back.) The remaining members continued on, assaulting Sentinel Pass. There, we expected the wildlife to set upon us, but once that caught sight of our countenance, they wisely hid. (The squirrels that usually demand to be fed were already full and didn’t beg as much. So we couldn’t get any cool pictures of hand-fed rodents.) However, here we lost two more people to grievous injury. (Two people who had only intended to go this far. The girl twisted her ankle on the way back.)
From here the fight to the top became more treacherous. We were going up, and we had to make our own trail. Still, us nine climbed. But three started to falter, falling further and further behind. Eventually these stragglers could no longer keep up and were losing the trail. They were forced to admit defeat. (Yeah, someone didn’t handle altitude change very well and had to turn back. His two friends stayed with him. Those friends were really ticked off back at camp. The overindulgence in alcohol may have exasperated that.)
With half our party gone from our sight, it became harder to keep our spirits up. The path up became perilous. A route through a crack in the wall, that was previously passable, had come undone; The rock of ages had fallen apart above us. (It is actually interesting to see that a mountain can change in a year. There was a crack in the mountain that we used to climb through to get past some cliffs, but this year, the crack was gone, and the rock/boulder that was part of it could be seen on the scree below.) We were defiant, and persisted. We removed our packs and formed a human chain to pass them up the cliff. But calamity! Our parties’ water supply was not secured and fell from our grasps down the side. (A water bottle fell out of a side pocket. It dropped a few meters where one of us picked it up and passed it back.)
With supplies running low, we stopped for nourishment. I noticed some of my provisions weren’t fairing that well in the upper atmosphere. (My airtight sandwich bag had ballooned from the air pressure.) I decided to save that consumable for later and to instead indulge in liquid courage (AKA Boost.) But cruel fate! My victuals proved poisonous and I was distressed. (Don’t chug a bottle of Boost. It will give you a stomach ache for half an hour.) Still, I would not admit defeat.
Up we climbed! Our numbers spread out further apart, but above we could see our goal. Our destination!
Then the ominous rumbling could be heard. Was it stormy weather coming to assail us? Nay. An avalanche! (On another mountain. There were several of them. Cool to see. Glad they didn’t happen on this mountain.) Luck was on our side and we avoided the worst of it, and all hands survived. Despite the snow we persevered, and forged our way to the very peak. To the heavens themselves. And there we let our presence be known to all. (I, ahem, “marked my territory”. Plus I could get cellphone reception, so I called a few people to crow about where I was.)
Our battle to reach the top was done in a mere six and a half hours. (An hour faster than last year!) We enjoyed the fruits of our labor for half of an hour before the grim realization of what awaited us became clear. To prove we had conquered, we would have to return from whence we came. Our ordeal was not over.
We steeled ourselves and descended away from the firmament. Truly this was easier, but still it could not be done lightly. Our muscles were pained, and the slope was slippery. (Knees hurt when you are pounding down on them.) At times our way was blocked by drifts of snow. We laughed at this attempt to sway our resolve. Instead we used it to our advantage and gamely slid down them. (Sliding down on our butts. You can go faster than you would like, and it looks comical to the people who aren’t doing it.)
But all was not a walk in the park. (Technically it was, in a literal sense.) Ways that had been clear and obvious in years past were not so anymore. (It was better last year. Back then the scree was easier, or there was a more obvious path. But we seemed to get lost in an area where that seemed impossible. Like getting lost in an open field.) We were blocked by a river of water, rushing through the ice. (Actually a small stream of meltwater.) After searching we were able to find a ford, before it descended under the snow and ice. With no idea where the deceptive water was hiding, we returned to the honest rocks. But one of our party was not so careful. He, in memory of our previous encounters with snow, decided to once again slide down this one. Tragically, he fell through into the rushing water. (Well one leg broke the ice and got scraped up a bit; In the hole he had made he could only hear rushing water. It didn’t deter him and he continued to slide down the snow all the way to the bottom.) With this lesson learned, the rest of us stayed on the rocks until we had returned to the relative safety of the Minnestimma Lakes. (We had misheard him yelling that he had gotten waist-deep in water, so we didn’t follow.)
From here the path was clearly marked, but the heavens opened up and tried to drown our commitment. (A light sprinkling of rain. Eerie, because you could see it hitting one part of a lake, but not the other.) But with the end in sight, we continued on. And soon we had reached civilization. Broken and weary, but together and triumphant. (It took us four hours and forty minutes to get down; Forty minutes longer than last year. I guess we really did get lost on the way back.)

Mountain of pressure

Today was rather exhausting, emotionally more than physically.
I’m going with some friends to climb Mount Temple this weekend. This morning though I found that my ride had decided to leave early with his new lady friend instead. Luckily I was able to find a replacement ride. Slight abandonment issue. I was not looking forward to the idea of driving all the way back down to Banff after my long trip last weekend. (It probably would have been more plausible if I had cruise control.)
Yesterday I got a therapeutic massage. Today I noticed that my knee was hurting on stairs. I would have thought the former would have prevented the latter, instead of exasperating it. I do not want to have a weak knee if I’m going to be using it climbing a mountain. I decided to skip my evening run to give my legs more recovery. I thought I would do orienteering, but the inclement conditions stopped me from doing that as well.
Instead I went and picked up a new lens for my camera. The photography course I had taken had turned me on to the idea of a polarizing filter. I thought it would be a good thing to have for the mountain climb. Unfortunately, it makes the camera too big for the case, so I’ll need to store it separately from the camera. I tried to find a case just for the lens, even going to WEM to pick one up, but finding that it was way too big and unwieldy for my needs. Now I’m trying to figure out what to store it in that I can take it up a mountain with.
Best option seems to be my dice bag.

Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

I was dong my annual training run at my parent’s place today. Basically I start from their home, run west on the highway towards the mountains until I run out of road, and then I turn around and run back until I’ve accumulated 50km. My father is nice enough to accompany me in the car. He spends the time reading, listening to news, and enjoying the scenery.
This time was slightly different. I got up very early today, and was able to set off at around 5:30 in the morning. I told my family I would have enough water for three hours of running, so why don’t they sleep in. It was nice and cool out, good for running. I was a little concerned that in the distant mountains it looked like it was raining, but that was a problem for the future. However, ten minutes in, I noticed that my back was getting rather wetter than sweat should allow. Even accounting for the slight drizzle.
I checked. My water backpack had sprung a pinhole leak. I figured that I would just ignore it and drink the water quickly before it all drained away. That sounded like a reasonable plan.
Five minutes later there was a waterfall going down my legs. That small leak had ripped open into a gushing torrent. I was quickly out of water, and it had gone all over my shoes.
Wet feet are not something you want as a runner. It is a recipe for blisters.
In the end however, everything worked out. I was wearing new socks that seemed to do a good job of blister prevention; I finished the run without any. My father arrived twenty minutes after I had finished my Gatorade bottle so I had liquid again. I did the run, and ended it feeling strong and vital. I could have kept running, but I chose not to.
We just finished watching Run Fatboy Run. That is still a great movie.

I am Canadian

There are times when I don’t feel Canadian. I am one. And I am very proud of my country. But I don’t have a real connection to it. While driving to Calgary today I listened to a Vinyl Cafe podcast from Remembrance day. It was a very touching story concerning a family who had lost a grandfather to World War 2, but at the end I felt I couldn’t relate.
I think the issue is that my family doesn’t have a lot of background in Canada. I am the first one in the family to be born here, and we’ve always been separate. We don’t follow hockey. I don’t say ‘eh’ at the end of sentences. These are stereotypes to be sure, but they form part of the Canadian identity.