Marathon Experiment #1 – Garmin Courses

So as I posted yesterday I did a little experiment with my Garmin on today’s long run.  I’ll post the process I took to get the garmin course loaded onto my Forerunner 405 first, and then I’ll talk about how it went.

First I was inspired to try this out from THIS post by DCRainmaker.  It turns out though that his post is from a couple years ago and a few things have changed.

Step 1- Create a route

Just like he posted, step 1 was to create a route on .  I went through and mapped out a 29 km course along the Bow river for Lori, Danielle and I.

Step 2 – Export the route

Then I went to export the route as a Garmin/CRS file, but this option no longer exists on mapmyrun, so after googling a bit more, I found that I could export it as a GPX file.  To do this, click on ActionsExport Map.  It’ll then give you an option to save a GPX file to your hard drive.



Now unfortunately the Garmin Training Center doesn’t recognize the GPX file and needs a CRS file, so I found a web page that would convert it.  I went to THIS page, and linked in my GPX file, and it popped out a CRS file for me.  Easy, right.. 😉

Step 3 – Import the route into Garmin Training Center

Now if you’re like me, you probably don’t use Garmin Training Center much anymore… well I tried to do this via Garmin Connect, and quite easily made a Course from within Garmin Connect, but couldn’t find any way of exporting it to my Garmin… which I thought was a little weird and pointless, and maybe I’m missing something?  Please clue me in if I am!

Anyhoo, I used Training Center.  I opened it up, clicked on the Courses button, then on File Import to current user accountCourses, and then selected the CRS file I had created above.  It then uploaded the course into Training Center.

Step 4 – Upload the Course to Garmin

So last but not least, I uploaded the course to my Garmin.  This was easy, there’s a little button in Training Center, if you hover over it it says ‘Send to Device’.  After this I went and looked on my Garmin, under Menu, Training, Courses, and then I could see the new course I had created.

Those were the steps I went through last night to get my garmin ready to run! Phew…

Then this morning when we started our run, instead of just pressing START and taking off, I had to go into Menu, Training, Courses, find the course, select it, and then select Do Course.  I had created the course with a pace of 6:10/km and by setting a Course my Garmin automatically turns on the Virtual Partner, and tells you how far ahead or behind the partner you’re running.  I wasn’t really concerned with whether we hit this pace, and was just using this as a test, so picked a pace off the top of my head.

As we started running it all looked good, we quickly went off course in the very beginning to use the bathrooms at Edworthy, and then as we were heading west towards Bowness we passed the ‘Finish’ of my course, and my Garmin played us a little song and congratulated us on our workout… umm ok, we had only run 300 m’s at that point.  Then we kept running, but most of the run it actually didn’t think we were on course, the online maps of the Bow River pathway system must be off of where the paths really are, and my garmin didn’t register us as following the course.  It didn’t affect it’s tracking our distance, pace or time as usual, but the virtual partner was useless and didn’t function when we weren’t ‘On Course’.

I don’t think I’ll be using this Course function again, it didn’t seem to work, and it was a lot of effort to actually get the map onto my Garmin.  I will try the virtual partner again though, and just set a distance and time or pace goal, and not use a map.  I’ll try that next weekend and report back!!

Marathon experiment #1.

There’s nothing like running a marathon that makes you over analyze details is there? C’mon, you’ve done it too, right? What pace should I start at, what should I do the first half in, what should I use for fuel, what should I wear??? Well all these kind of questions have been starting to go through my head lately. My marathon is feeling closer than ever lately! I have 3 big long runs left and then it’s taper time.

My big question today was on pacing. I was hitting up some of my favorite running moms for advice on pacing today and the discussion got me thinking. Maybe I should use some of the fancy features from my expensive GPS that I run with. How many of us went out and paid $200+ for a fancy device that can do everything but run the race for us. If you’re like me, then you’ve used about 10% of it’s features, basically just tracking distance pace and time. That leads me to experiment #1. I’ve made a course for tomorrow’s long run (29 km’s) and have uploaded it to my garmin. It has a pace associated with it (6:10/km) and a map.
So that’s the experiment. I will report back tomorrow with how it went, and I’ll also do a detailed post on how I got the route onto my garmin.
Have you used any of the fancy features on your garmin or gps watch? What are you currently obsessing over?

Grizzly Ultra Relay Race Recap

This past Sunday was the Grizzly Ultra 50k (Relay for us).  It was held at the Canmore Nordic Center about an hour west of Calgary.  We ran it with a team of 5, Lori, Danielle, Myself, Sheila and Alison.  It was a blast, and our team did really well – especially considering that other than Lori and I, the other ladies really didn’t have a lot of trail experience.

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The morning started fairly early.  The race organizers had held package pickup out in Canmore on Friday and Saturday, but since none of us live out there, or would be staying out there before the race, we opted for race day pickup.  They had asked people to have their race packages picked up by 7:30 am on Sunday morning.  That meant leaving Lori’s house around 6:15 to ensure we were there on time.  Once we were at the Nordic Center, package pickup was super smooth, we got our shirts, bibs and the shared team timing chip.  The first leg started at 9am, so we had some time to hang out, use the bathroom, etc.

It was a beautiful morning in Canmore, we were happy to see that the leaves hadn’t fallen, and that there wasn’t any snow on the ground.

Lori ran the first leg, it was 14 km’s long and had an elevation gain of 309 m’s.  She completely rocked it finishing in a time of 1:15:44  (that’s a 5:12 / km pace!!).


Danielle was next.  Her leg was 12 km’s long, with an elevation gain of 385 m’s.  It’s listed as just slightly more difficult than the first leg because of the added elevation.  She also was super speedy with a time of 1:11:33.

Awesome form Danielle!

I was third.  My leg was listed as the most difficult (lucky me 😉 ).  It was also 12 km’s long and had 510 m’s of elevation gain.  My official time was 1:16:53.  (More details below…)


Sheila was fourth.  Her leg was 7 km’s long and had 272 m’s of elevation.  It had quite a bit of single track and is a more difficult leg than the 7km’s would lead you to think.  Her time was 57:03.

Could she be having any more fun??

Last but not least was Alison.  Her leg was 5.7 km’s with 215 m’s of elevation.  She had never run on trails before, and totally brought it home with a time of 38:25.

Alison was cruising in to bring it home!!

Our team ended up being 8th of 36 all women teams!  Pretty darn good IMO!!  Especially since we weren’t going into it with any desire to compete, just to have fun, not break any ankles and do the best we could.

Here are our final stats:

Pos#59 Bib#576 Team Marga-Relay-Ville Time: 05:19:35

So as for my leg’s report:  I went into this slightly petrified of one little section – the coal shoots.  When we did our practice run of this leg, they had us running DOWN the coal shoots.  They are an extremely steep section of path where the ground is ground up coal, when we did the practice run, we were literally grabbing onto trees to keep from sliding down it.  There were more seasoned (read: brave) runners that threw themselves down it, but we were much more cautious.

Here’s a pic I found of the coal shoots online… ps there is no way in hell I’d be riding a bike down them!?!?!

As I started running on Sunday, I thought, wait a sec, we’re running this backwards… WHAT!?  YAY!?!  That means I just have to climb up the coal shoots, NOT go down them!  This set my mind at ease, and I really could enjoy the first few km’s of running.  So the coal shoots are almost at exactly halfway through the leg.  The first 6 km’s are mostly downhill, and mostly single track.  It’s a blast to run, I turned on the gas, and felt like a kid again running these trails.  My splits over the first 6 km’s were: 5:40, 5:18, 6:02, 6:21, 6:02, 6:16.  I think my total time was around 35 minutes at this point – which I was totally thrilled with!  The bottom of the coal shoots is the lowest elevation point that you reach on my leg though, so it slowed down a lot from here.  I walked up the coal shoots, and continued on, running the flats, and the slight uphills, but walking power hiking the steep ascents.  I will admit that I didn’t go 100% all out on the second half.  I’m in the middle of marathon training, and I kept reminding myself that I was heading into a 75km week of training!  I wanted to push it and do well for my team, but I didn’t want to completely bag my legs (or even worse, injure myself).  It was a continual climb and push up to the highest elevation on the route before I finally got to run my final push to the transition area as another bit of down hill.  My second 6+km splits were: 7:50 (walking up the coal shoots), 6:23, 7:10, 6:35, 6:17, 5:16 (downhill!! yay), and the final 320 m’s at a 4:28 pace.

Overall the race was a blast!  It was really well organized, with great food and support at the transition area.  If you’ve ever been to the Canmore Nordic Centre, you know that there is a complex network of trails that are used for hiking, running, mtn biking, xcountry skiing, etc.  It would be VERY easy to get lost!  Each leg was labeled very well, and it was always easy to tell where you were supposed to be going, and to know that you were on the right track.  Cudos to the organizers, and trail markers!

Super nice shirts!
And the bling!

There is talk about Lori, Danielle and myself doing the full 50k next year (EEEEK!)… I’m not committing to anything at this point, but I’m certainly considering it, and would love to come back and run this in some form next year!  For some reason running (not racing) a 50k on trails is not as intimidating as racing a full marathon (which I’m doing in a couple months)… so maybe!!

Have you ever run an ultra?  Which one?  What did you think?

Freezer to slow cooker meal 2 – Orange Beef

We tried the second meal of the frozen crockpot dinners tonight, Orange Beef. The recipe is on a blog post from a few weeks ago when I prepped these meals.

I took the zip lock out of the freezer last night and defrosted it over night. Then this morning I popped it into my slow cooker and let it cook on low for the day. I was home today, working on cleaning and organizing the house, and it smelled divine!! I also ran tonight, and don’t like to eat dinner before my evening runs, so had to wait even longer to try it. It looked great bubbling away in the slow cooker.

My run tonight was cold, it was raining and barely above freezing. I could hardly feel my hands when I got home, so this bowl of piping hot stew totally hit the spot!

My kids also loved it. Olivia gobbled it up, but really she gobbles everything up these days. The real test is Maiya, she’s not picky for 3.5, but she’s much pickier than she used to be. She wasn’t excited for dinner until I told her that supper had juice in it! Kids are funny, she loves juice and it’s the biggest treat for her so the suggestion of juice totally had her hooked! I was out running but my hubby reports that she ate her whole bowlful of dinner. Victory!!

What? It’s October?? September in review!

Well September just flew by…  I have hardly posted here, even though I’ve meant to.  There have been a couple of races and a LOT of running to post about, but it just didn’t happen.  I don’t have a lot of time now either, so I’m going to type as fast as I can and post what I can in 25 minutes of writing.  Hopefully I can write coherently enough so that you all don’t run away!

Races:  I did 2 races in September.

On the 7th, Lori, Dianne and I drove out to Olds and did a mud run there.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this race.  It was a long drive out to Olds, and a lot of arranging my training schedule to go do a 5k run through mud and obstacles.  I’m happy to report that it was a blast!  I’m really glad I did it.  I’m not very good at relaxing and having fun, I take way too many things way too seriously, so this was good for me, and a lot of fun.


September 21st was the Blitz Duathlon in Bragg Creek.  Lori and I had decided to sign up for this race in hopes that it would get us out on our bikes this summer.  I did get out on mine a fair amount – on average once a week for 20 km’s.  It was a run-bike-run, with both the run’s being on trail and the bike being on road.  Lori and I met out in Bragg Creek before the race and car pooled out to the start line together.  We got our bikes into the transition area, and got as organized as we could.  Neither of us had done a duathlon before, so we were just guessing on how we wanted our clothes/gear/etc organized.  It was also a very cool morning in the foothills (frost on the ground).  I was in my tri shorts, a tank and arm sleeves.  I wondered at the start it I’d regret not having a long sleeve top, but it was too late for that, so I just went with what I had.  I also had decided on my hand held water bottle for the first run portion (7 km’s).  The more seasoned racers (and skilled cyclists) most likely refrained from carrying water on the run portions, and opted to just drink on the ride, but I’m still not super confident on my bike and didn’t know how I’d feel about only drinking while riding.  I ran the first 7k in 41:xx or so, and had pushed hard, passing a few people.  I got to the transition and had a hard time getting my running shoes off (I had double knotted the laces because the laces on my trail shoes tend to come undone).  It took me a few minutes but I was off and riding on my bike.  The ride was supposed to be 18 km’s, but my garmin tracked it at almost 19 km’s, and I got it done in about 45 minutes.  The first half was slightly uphill, and I was passed by a lot of people (all the ones I had passed on the run I’m pretty sure).  There were a few large rolling hills and it felt tough, especially after pushing on the first running leg.  After the bike, I switched back to my running shoes (faster this time) and headed out for the final 3 km’s of running.  My legs felt like lead, which was difficult on the trails, I pushed as hard as I could and tried to not fall on my face.  I passed a number of the people who had passed me on the bike, and pushed hard to the finish line in about 1:46:39!  My stats on race day were 3rd AG, 9th woman, and 42 OA, but something changed when they posted the results online, and I was listed as 5th AG.  There were no AG awards other than #1’s, so it didn’t matter either way.  I was thrilled with my time and standing however it went down, especially with the lack of experience in transitions and on the bike.  I would love to do this race again!


In addition to those 2 races, I trained hard throughout September, clocking 256 km’s (160 miles), getting my long run up to 30 km’s and keeping the injuries and niggles at bay.  I also, just last night, finally registered for the Seattle Marathon!!  So our flights are booked and I guess this thing is happening!  I’m excited for October, we are running the Grizzly Ultra as a relay team on Thanksgiving weekend, and have 2 32 k (20 mile) long runs ahead!  Plus the weather is just gorgeous, the leaves are turning, and the temps are cool, it’s a great season for running!