MOUNTAIN LIFE - Ontario | Winter 2016 - page 55

Tellusabouthowyouendedup inenduranceand
trail running.
I’ve been running since 2009. I picked
up running for health reasons. I used to be a
smoker and I ate the typical NorthAmerican diet.
After I became a vegetarian my family didn’t
believe I would be strong enough to run. So I
wanted to show them I could be an endurance
athleteon a vegetariandiet. Thesedays I findmy
endurance is improving fromdoing a lot of cross-
training, not strictly running. My best training
was the year I did Ironman [Mont Tremblant]. For
a race like that, training is not about speed
endurance, it’s all about slowing the pace down
and enjoying that time outside with people you
want to be with. Or running alone and either
listening to music or a podcast, or just thinking
things through. Youget endurance from spending
the time on your feet.
I started running when I was eight, aping
my older brother. I was out training while other
kids were playing video games. Later on, I
started trail running as training for marathons.
You have softer ground, it’s easier on the body,
more picturesque and more sociable, because
all the challenges in trail running
the routes,
the rocks, the hills
slow you down. About five
years ago I started training for the Comrades
Marathon in South Africa. It’s generally heralded
as the largest ultra marathon in the world. In
preparation for this 90km race I was doing four-
and-a-half hour training runs. And since that
time I find I can get into a groove and just keep
going… and keep going. It’s not really a question
of speed; when I’m running at an easy pace, I
feel like I can go on forever. In competition, on
the other hand, it’s a matter of how fast I can
turnmy legs over.
What’s the toughest event you’vecompleted?
In terms of endurance, my longest is
Ironman [Mont Tremblant], a 3.8km swim, a
180km bike, and after all that, a full marathon
[42.2km run]. Matt and I went with a group of 30
people anddependingonwho you ask, everyone
will have different opinions on how gruelling
it was. Matt and I both wanted to qualify for
Kona [Ironman World Championships in Hawaii]
and place in our divisions. So we put a lot of
pressureonourselves. But a coupleofmy friends
wanted to have fun with it and so they finished
together while holding hands
so they wouldn’t
describe it as gruelling. But definitely Matt and
I would because we tackled it in a different way.
I brokemy foot about twoandahalfmonths
before Ironman
a stress fracture, a small break,
but it meant that I didn’t run until
about two weeks before the race.
So for me the toughest part was
themarathon, especially the second
half, from about 25km forward was
just terrible. I hated every step of it.
The swim was my weakest
event. And the mass start was very
intimidating. Even though I was going out to try
to place and be top-three, I started at the very
back of the swim because how many people
compete in that?
A couple thousand, all getting into the
water at the same time.
And you’re all entering the same body of
water at the same time when the gun goes off,
and I was terrified of that. I held back and when
people started to make their way out I then got
in and foundmy own area. On an Ironman swim
you get punched in the face, you get kicked, you
get pushed
it’s intense. It’s part of the swim.
My family members who were watching
said the lake looked like a washing machine,
with somany people churning through thewater.
You eachplacedfirst in your respectivegenders
in last year’sNorth Face Endurance Challenge 50km
trail raceatBlueMountain. Tell usabout it.
Matt: That hill is really unbelievable. And to have
to run up it three times in the 50km. There’s
a general logic that if you’re doing a trail ultra-
marathon, you walk up the hills because the
energy you expend in running doesn’t equate to
the time you save. But I have a big ego I guess
and I was going to run every single hill. It was
really tough.
I don’t knowwhat was more painful
mental or the physical aspect.
Although the uphills were brutal, my slowest
kms in the Endurance Challenge were going down
the hill, on a very technical section; in the late
stages I was exhausted to the point where I didn’t
trust my footing.
“Wedoa lot ofwork in theArctic, and
thiswas coldevenby thosestandards.”
–photographer JasonVanBruggen
Matt andMindy atopBlueMountain.
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