The Bruce Trail: Short Hills Provincial Park

I am ramping up (more like ramping down) for the Laura Secord Memorial 100k.  Last weekend I spent 6 hours and 30 minutes running in circles on what is known as the “Hydrocut”; I like to call it “The Cut” (see Petersburg Regional Forest).  It is a trail system that gets used throughout the winter by dog walkers, mountain bikers, and runners.  This year we have had so much snow that only a few of the trails actually got packed down enough so that you could keep running on them.  I spent many long runs trying to pack down another trail (Adam’s Run) only for it to snow another 30 cm so that the following weekend.  Like groundhog day, I found myself doing the same thing all over again.

With the race coming up and to help my coach help me formulate a race plan, I decided to head out of the comfort of the The Cut and run on the part of the Bruce Trail of which the race will cover.  The start of the mission has me encouraged.  In Waterloo, an apparent hour and bit drive away, we are still suffering from massive, albeit diminished snow banks.  Here in wine country, it appears that the winter has been a little kinder.

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While running in the winter can be fun and exciting (I know I just said that), there comes time in the season when seeing snow sends you into a downward spiral of depression and self loathing (maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much!). Every day you wake up with the hope and optimism that today will be the day that it is warm and sunny, that finally winter is over.  But as you force yourself out of the warmth of your bed and your vision clears up you look outside and realize it’s -10 C with a windchill bring that to -20 C.  Your heart sinks.  Even worse is when you look outside and its snowing, AGAIN!  With the last shred of hope you pull out your BlackBerry (or other smartphone) hoping to see a warming trend on the horizon.  Your passion for life is squandered when you realize that there is no hope and the 14 day forecast and there is nothing but misery on the board. The Ides of March has come and gone, where is spring?

When it comes to running, I love the freedom and simplicity of shorts, shirt, and shoes.  I make sure I have the right nutrition to keep me going and head out.  When it comes to winter running, there are so many things you have to remember.  A toque, mitts, jacket, the right number of layers, etc.  You wake up and check the weather network and open the door and guess what you need.  Is that one layer or two, perhaps three?  How windy is it? Should I cover my face or not? Did it snow, should I wear these shoes or those?  Sounds simple, but these are REAL problems that add at lest an hour to my routine.

I digress.  My running pal and I started out this past Saturday morning and we were very much encouraged since there was very little snow as compared to the Cut.  We ran along the Bruce till we got to Swayze Falls.  A point in the trail where we undoubtedly took a moment to soak up the scenery.  A small reward for getting out on the trail is that you get to see these wonders of nature.

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As we continued our run, we splashed through mud, very hard packed snow and slid over ice patches.  There were times where the terrain covered by an ice patch made for trickiness that required a bum bounce.  It is a painful way of moving forward and little less efficient than staying on your feet.  That said, a good bum bounce is key to keeping your pace up and keep you from looking like your standing still.  To this I say, train to bum bounce effectively, quickly, and with as little pain as possible.

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Our run was over in two hours.  In that time we managed to cover 17 km.  Since we effectively ran out and back we saw 8.5 km of the west side of the course.  While that didn’t give me the full picture of what the race will be like, it certainly was a welcomed relief from running the obnoxiously stinky Cut in Waterloo.  While running in the Cut is convenient (proximity to my house), I am conceiving a new challenge:  Run the whole Bruce trail, from Niagara to Tobermory.  Wanna join me?

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