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Headshot of Alicia Woodside



Written by FBC Social



Meet #TeamFBC member, Alicia Woodside – ultra-runner, pastry-lover, and adventure-mom extraordinaire.

Having grown up in the suburbs of Vancouver, Alicia thrived on city life until she discovered trail running in University. As her love for the sport grew, she developed an insatiable thirst for life in the mountains, eventually relocating from the heart of Vancouver to her current home next to a trail head in Squamish.

Living her dream, Alicia now works a 9-5 in local government, spending her days off smashing out long distance runs throughout the mountains in her backyard. If life isn’t adventurous enough already, between long days in the backcountry and volunteering with Squamish Search and Rescue, things are about to get a whole lot more exciting as she prepares to welcome a baby in the New Year.

So grab a blanket, pour yourself a beer, and read on for a chat with Alicia about how she’s navigating being pregnant, while continuing to pursue a passion for outdoor adventure.



FBC: We’ve noticed you’re a big ultra runner – when and how did you get into that?Woman running in the woods

Alicia: How did you notice? Haha, kidding! I’ve been a runner my whole life in some shape or form, except for an experimental year of no sports in university – which did not go over well! I grew up running track & field and cross-country. For years, my family and I would essentially camp out at track meets every weekend, which was really fun because we got to travel all over BC, and eat concession stand snacks!

During the beginning of University, I lost my way with sports and the outdoors. I thought that it was time to grow up, time to quit my pastimes and just focus on school and career. I have to credit the Vancouver Sun Run 10km for getting me back on track. My ex-boyfriend and I ran it, and it was such a struggle that I was sick for a week after. It was a real wake-up call. I decided I needed to get my butt into gear, and signed up for a half marathon, giving myself the summer to train for it.

As time passed and I put in the work, my competitive side got curious, and I noticed that there was a Varsity University Team for the marathon. If I could run a half marathon sub-1:30, then I could run with the team! I walked on the team, was the worst runner, but by the end of the season I met the standard and got to run the marathon at the NAIA Championship. I started doing more marathons, and just loved the feeling of being able to run so far.

I discovered ultras through my running club, Vancouver Falcons. One of our members was Ellie Greenwood, who is one of the best ultra runners in history. My friends and I had no clue what we were doing at the start, but all took the plunge together, and over time we learned so much!


FBC: What do you love most about long distance running, and where are you go-to spots for it?

Alicia: I love the simplicity! All you need is running shoes, maybe some water, and snacks. You can get to some really incredible, remote places, and you don’t have to pay anything or use much gear to get there. To me, that’s one of the biggest appeals. Also, it doesn’t matter whether it was a big mountain run or a 10k training run, you feel amazing for the rest of the day after running. It’s also a really warm and welcoming community. I think that because there is not much need for gear and it’s something you can do year-round in any weather, you tend to get people from all walks of life together, and that’s pretty rare and special.

When I’m at home in Squamish, on work days I do a lot of trail runs in the awesome mountain bike trails behind my house, which are soft and flowy, with big trees and some views of Howe Sound. On weekends I love doing bigger mountain runs when I can – there’s infinite objectives between Squamish, Whistler to the North, and Lions Bay to the South. Honestly, today I wanted an objective and decided to run to the best local donut shop in town for my long run! It’s really fun how creative you can be with it.


FBC: Sounds like you’ve done your fair share of exploration! Things are about to get even more exciting for you though, as you’re expecting! How’s that adjustment been?Alicia on a run in the woods

Alicia: Yes, it’s been wild! So far, a very fulfilling journey…

Although I was planning on this pregnancy, there was definitely an adjustment period for me at the beginning. I mean, I found out there was a human growing inside me! There was a lot to unpack and understand at the start. I was anxious about fears around how this would affect my career goals. I was also terrified about what would happen to my body, as the outdoors and athletic goals are such a meaningful part of my life. Meanwhile, there was this never-ending list of prenatal rules, and I perceived a lot of expectations around the role of the mother as a caregiver. For example, I assumed that I must breastfeed, I must take a year off work, I mustn’t do any real training or racing while pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love kids, and I’m so privileged to be in a position to be choosing to enter this adventure of raising a kid of my own. Still, it was all overwhelming!

Over time, I realized that I really don’t have to do things according to a set plan made by someone else! My husband Julien really helped me see that. We made up our own plan that felt good to us, guided by what makes me happy, and what works for us as a family, and it’s been so liberating. Even fun! Navigating the journey together and being intentional with how we want it to go has been really satisfying.

These days, I’m enjoying the ups and downs. There’s definitely more emotion than I’ve ever experienced, and I’m learning to appreciate that it’s just part of the process, and actually laugh about it. At one point during a hike in Italy I experienced crying and laughing at the same time! It was crazy, I started crying for no reason, and then realizing it made me laugh, but I still couldn’t stop crying. Then I laughed at how I was randomly crying. Two minutes later, I was smiling again!


FBC: It’s been so amazing following you along as you navigate this new journey! How were you summer adventures, with all the big changes going on in your life?

Alicia: Considering I’ve been growing a human, I’ve had an amazing summer – better than I could have ever imagined. I used to always think that pregnancy meant that there would be no adventures, and was I ever wrong! This summer I ran 4 ultras (3 adventure runs and 1 in a race, at Black Spur Ultra), I got to do all my favourite mountain runs from the Coast to the Kootenays with awesome trips to Fernie and Kimberley, I visited four new backcountry peaks in the Sea to Sky (Currie, Price, Gillespie, Seed), and I even squeezed in a mountain running and via ferrata trip in the Italian Dolomites at the very end of summer!

My summer was also really special, because I got to join Squamish Search and Rescue this past spring, and in between adventures I got to help out with the team’s incredible rescue operations as a new Member in Training. I got to attend 10 calls this summer, practice ATV and e-bike handling, and eat a lot of great snacks in cool places. That’s been the most inspiring thing for me lately, getting a front row seat to see the selflessness, dedication and teamwork of Squamish SAR.


FBC: Wow, you’ve been busy! How’s it been maintaining your athletic endeavours with a baby on board?

Alicia: I’ll start off by saying that everyone has a unique experience, I’ve been really lucky with my pregnancy.

I believe that your activity and abilities during pregnancy is a function of what you did before, plus a healthy dose of luck and good fortune. Before starting on the parenting journey I knew it would be really important to have high iron levels, which is my achilles’ heel. I made a diligent effort to have really strong iron, and I also happened to be at a really high level of fitness from many years of ultra running, and a winter of ski touring and running. I think that starting from such a high gave me a lot of leeway to continue with all kinds of adventures while pregnant.

With running, I’ve been taking it day by day and week by week, just seeing how I feel and being grateful for every new week I can continue to run and adventure. I’ve been extremely lucky in that I’ve been able to very happily run and hike to my heart’s content, which is not what I was expecting. It’s been a gift that way, I no longer take things for granted. I really enjoy every outing, every mile, as though they’re all sacred and special. Which they are, more than ever!

I also got to race Black Spur Ultra 54k in Kimberley when I was 19 weeks pregnant. Racing while pregnant was extremely rewarding, and I would totally recommend it to those who are considering it. For me, the Black Spur race was perfect for a few reasons. First of all, timing was great. I’d heard that the second trimester was a good time, as most people stop feeling nauseous then, and the weight gain isn’t extreme at that point. (I found this advice to be spot-on.) The course was also ideal: it was scenic and on fun trails, but it also had lots of options to bail if I suddenly didn’t feel good. After all, I only wanted to do the race if I felt great! I also liked the way the race was grassroots and not a hyper-competitive event, as my motivation was to race for myself, not focusing on my position or ranking. Finally, I know the Race Director, Brian, and I knew I would be in good hands at his event.

To prepare for the race, I was more consistent and diligent than usual, thinking that the race may be harder as a pregnant athlete. The strategy really paid off. I had a great run, really exceeded my expectations with the time I’d take, and was just totally joyful the whole time. I may have actually learned proper training (and pacing!) during pregnancy! The only downside was the lack of a Finish Line beer, but that’s okay. For every beer I don’t get now, I tell myself that I get 2 Fernie brews in 2022…

For those who are interested in the details, I have made lots of really small adjustments that have been really helpful to keep me going, and all of these things were low effort. For example:

  • One of the biggest things I’ve noticed, is that I need to drink an insane amount of water these days. When I used to carry 1L for a mountain run with lots of rivers, I now carry 2L.
  • I take way more pee breaks and have learned to just be patient — when I did Black Spur 54k a few weeks ago, I went pee like 6 times!
  • I make a point to get a lot more rest! I typically get an extra hour of sleep a night, and I take more time to chill after runs than I used to. I never knew how to rest properly before pregnancy.
  • I’m always a big eater, but even more so these days. On long runs and in the ultras I’ve done while pregnant, mini energy bars don’t cut it. I need full-on European meat & cheese sandwiches, or pastries! When I did Black Spur Ultra I ate a cheese & honey sandwich every 15km, along with so many other items. I spotted a Costco-style box of pastries under a tent at one point and tried to obtain them, but they belonged to another runner and were not up for grabs. 😂
  • I started booking proactive physio appointments every 6-8 weeks, just to make sure everything is in order while all the other changes happen, and to encourage me to stretch more often. I’m booking these appointments with an awesome sports physio, so not a prenatal physio, and so far it’s working really well— I’m still happily running and hiking 80-100km per week! I also went for one appointment with a pelvic floor physio to get some baseline evaluations done, and to learn the daily exercises that will help me continue to stay active. Alicia eating a post run donut
  • I’ve also switched to mostly only doing my primary sport (running), when I would normally also gravel bike, paddle board, and hike/scramble more. By doing the same thing every day, my body is slowly adapting to the changes with regular stimulus.
  • I decided to opt out of any interval training, mostly just because I thought it would be less fun to run in a time-based manner, and I wanted to mute my expectations around time and pace. Instead I’ve been spending my running miles on the trails just doing enjoyable base miles, and when I feel like it, sometimes I do up the pace when the mood strikes. Trail and mountain running has been perfect… it’s all about being in the present, enjoying your surroundings, and it rewards a slower, steadier approach.
  • During the earlier stages when I felt a bit nauseous, I just ate whatever I could without judgment. Sometimes it meant going to White Spot for lunch and eating a Pirate Pack by myself by the ocean! (I ate the ice cream first.) Sometimes ice cream was the perfect appetizer to help me get more of an appetite. When I was in Fernie in July, all I wanted to eat was Big Bang Bagels. And that’s totally fine and actually really delicious. I gave myself grace to just get the calories in!
  • I started doing these “first trimester specials” where I’d leisurely hike up 1,000m to work away the nausea feels, and by the top I felt great and was in the mood to run down. Maybe not the cure for everyone, but for me the fresh air and the longer, slower runs in the mountains were perfect.
  • Post-run FBC has become post-run coffee for now! Preferably fancy espresso drinks served with cake just like in Italy!

Alicia at a lake on a run


FBC: Seems like you’ve had so many important realizations you’ve had! Any words of encouragement for all the other adventure mamas or mamas to be out there?

Alicia: Everyone is so different with how they respond to pregnancy, so trust yourself and trust your gut. Don’t be afraid to carve your own path, and just like usual, listen to your body along the way as the ultimate guide. Surround yourself with people who will empower you and build you up, and spend less time with people who maybe give you negative unsolicited advice. (This includes your medical team, find someone who is willing to get to know you, and who you like!) It also applies to the content you read – limit the information you consume to content that makes you feel good, there’s a lot of negative stuff out there that you just don’t have to bother reading. (Personally, I don’t read internet articles- I just talk to my doctor, and I get advice from old-school parents, like my mom and dad, and my extended family.) There’s a lot of pressure to be perfect when pregnant, with so many rules and best practices. As you figure things out, I’ve found it really helpful to not worry about being perfect. Give yourself more grace than usual, there’s a lot happening, and you’re sharing resources!

As an overly eager goal setter, I’ve also found it to be really motivating to continue to set running, career, and personal life goals, for during pregnancy and beyond. I still set ambitious short term goals, but I have fewer expectations for myself in the short term— they’re more for me to reach toward. Overall, I’d say, have fun with the process and make it your own! Keep finding ways to do the things that make you happy.


FBC: Speaking of the short term, do you have any exciting plans for the winter? Any adventure plans for when the baby comes? Alicia running in the forest

Alicia: You will laugh but I plan to be the world’s most pregnant skier at Whistler Blackcomb. I also plan to have many, many long-overdue Fernie Brewing beers commencing in January! I have my favourites stashed away in hiding and will start chilling them the week of my due date! In between beer-tasting sessions, I’m planning to start a hiking club with other new parents, and I anticipate that this will be really fun and hilarious. I can already envision the places I will attempt to bring a stroller and likely fail!

I think solo time will also be really important as a new parent. I’m hoping to do lots of short fitness ski touring outings in the local backcountry to get back into the groove, and I’d love to be able to ski our local iconic peak, Mount Garibaldi at the end of April, if recovery goes well! But we’ll take it day by day.


FBC: Haha, well we wish you the best of luck with those goals! Before you go, can you paint us a picture of your perfect day…

Alicia: Obviously it’s a Saturday, I get out of bed at 6:30am after a 9 hour sleep, then have a ginormous breakfast of fresh sourdough, coffee, oatmeal, and coffee (Rooftop Coffee!). After a leisure breakfast my absolute favourite thing would be a 4-hour mountain run or ski tour with a close friend, then the early afternoon would be spent lounging with my cat Bartholomew, snacking, and “reJulienating” (my husband’s name is Julien and he made that up! It basically means chilling at home as a family.) Then I’d help with a search and rescue call, then maybe an evening walk at dusk, and a beer on the patio?!


Sounds epic (and delicious)! Thanks for sharing your #FernieStoke with us Alicia – and for all of your awesome advice for all the moms there!

To follow along with Alicia’s exciting pregnancy journey and all the adventures to come, check out her Instagram page


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