Along with her recent charitable work, Alicia Woodside of North Vancouver, B.C. has several tips for trail and ultra running. From equipment to nutrition to fitting in fitness, Alicia is clearly a dedicated woman of the great outdoors.
iRun: What is Dash for Dogs all about?
Alicia: Dash for Dogs was a 5k and 10k in Stanley Park, in support of the British Columbia & Alberta Guide Dogs. It was a unique format in that it was an e-race, so participants could use the RunGo App to guide them along the 5k or 10k route. We hosted 150 runners and raised $2,800, of which 100% was donated to the Guide Dogs.
iRun: Tell us about the RunGo App.
Alicia: RunGo is the cool local tech company where I’m currently working. We make an app for iPhone and Android that gives you directions for road and trail runs so you won’t get lost. It uses GPS and a custom voice system to tell you the next time you have to turn, so you can explore some really cool routes without worrying about getting lost. A great thing is that it’s just GPS so it doesn’t use data or wifi to guide you. Using it on the Howe Sound Crest Trail helped me finally do that trail without getting lost. for the first time ever! Anyone who knows me understands that this is quite a feat.
iRun: What is your involvement with Girls Gone Wilderness?
Alicia: Girls Gone Wilderness came about to help make mountain sports accessible to young women through fun social outdoor experiences. We wanted to create something that would be super approachable to all young women, something that anyone can join something fun, light, and accessible. To do this we decided to create a welcoming and inviting social gathering that was immersed in nature; we hosted a “trail party”— a fun point to point hike, with 45 people! It was so much fun. We took a school bus to the trail, complete with music, pizza, Vega energy shots, and sweet MEC prizes.
Along the hike we hosted a limbo contest, gave out electrolyte jello shots, and we even had a surprise hot chocolate station and goodie bags at the end! We were so surprised— despite the horrible downpour conditions, we sold out and got tons of happy hikers!
iRun: Describe the training process you go through for ultra distance racing.
Alicia: I run in places I love, with people I love, in the style I’m craving that day. Some days I crave a long, chill trail run, other days I crave a balls-out tempo run with Vancouver Falcons Athletic Club (VFAC) and there are some days when I’m just strapped for time and I solve that by run-commuting. (I should admit I live near Grouse Mountain so it becomes a solid 10 mile trail run. Running with the laptop sucks though!)
As I got into running ultras, my Sunday long runs became weekend “adventure runs”— instead of distance and pace, it became about a destination, a journey and a fascinating place that inspired us. It’s really freeing. Except, we tend to get home in the dark, all the time. I also find that now, everything can be considered training. Ate too much before a run? Perfect ultra training! Sleep deprived? That’s also great. It’s kind of awesome, now there is always a positive spin to something that could be negative. (No, I am not drunk right now.)
iRun: In terms of nutrition, what is your eating plan when you’re training?
Alicia: I’ve learned to eat lots of variety. I never would have thought I could eat a quesadilla while running, with all that cheese and stuff, but I was introduced to that at Cascade Crest 100, and that was the only thing I could eat! I’ve tried everything from savory baby food to pop tarts; those experiments were sort of gross. Because I’m running for such a long time, it’s really important to me to try to eat some real, healthier foods; otherwise I would be eating junk all the time. These days, I sometimes make my own granola bars, which I adapted from an amazing volunteer at the HURT 100 race last January. They’re full of real foods, things like berries, nuts, peanut butter, oats, and a bit of salt. I’m also on the Bremner’s Race Team now so I’m hoping to start downing lots of organic blueberry products on the run!
iRun: As an ultra runner ,what one item couldn’t you run without?
Alicia: Socks! Ouch, that would suck! Also clothing…I wish I had it in me to do the Bare Buns Run, but I don’t think I do! More seriously, I wouldn’t run on trails without my favourite flashlight. I heard from North Shore Search and Rescue that not having a light is the number on reason why they have to rescue people. Having it gives me peace of mind to carry it and allows me to extend my run if I want without worrying.
iRun: Whats next for GGW?
Alicia: Our first event went really well, so we’re going to bring it back and make it even better than before! We’re hosting a summer kick-off party on June 19th – 21st, and again there will be a school bus and a fun social experience outside. This time we will also introduce a really fun follow-up, with mini workshops held on the Sunday of the same weekend, where all of our new friends can come back and practice intro mountain biking, all-levels of trail running and hiking, and Stand Up Paddle boarding. Again, prices will be really accessible, gear and equipment will be readily available, and transportation will be provided. We’re facilitating everything that a young woman needs to start falling in love with mountain sports. We will be posting details about our Summer Party soon on our website, at www.girlsgonewilderness.ca.
iRun: What’s your next race?
Alicia: I was really lucky to qualify for the World Trail Running Championships in Annecy, France, so I get to go and run my favorite style of race— a beautiful mountain 85k run with tons of climbing, overlooking Lake Annecy— and I also get to represent Canada! It’s a huge privilege that I live a life where I get to invest so much of my free time to run and race around the world! And, my sister lives in Europe so I get to spend some amazing time relaxing with her in the French Alps after the race!