After months of preparing and getting excited, the day was here – the 1/2 marathon had arrived! The forecast was grim, but my spirits were high as I awoke yesterday at 5:30 am to get ready for my race. I laid out all my race swag the day before (one perk of entering races is the fun free stuff!) and had my clothes waiting for me in the darkness of the pre-dawn.
Mikey finally crawled out of bed (thanks for dealing with not sleeping in on a Saturday and being such a great supporter, hunk!) and we hit the road by about 6:40 am, headed on the highway through the fog to Canmore. The drive was breathtaking…as Mikey slept I sang along to good music and watched as we descended into patches of thick fog and then ascended to clear breaks, getting glimpses of the mountains towering in front of us.
Around 8 am, we arrived at the Canmore Nordic Centre and my nerves got a bit more fired up. It’s been years since I’ve run a race and been in that environment; it was a blast to walk around the booths and drink in the exciting atmosphere that seemed to bubble with fun anticipation.
After the race briefing and a warm up jog, I huddled near the starting line, feeling eager and nervous but mainly excited as it seemed so right to be back in this arena of racing – why do I not sign up for more races?! 🙂 At 9 am, the runners were out of the shoot, and I bounded off, knowing that the first almost 3 km were totally uphill (gulp).
The course was tough. If you remember from earlier posts, I had wanted to do more training runs on hills and trails since this was a hilly trail race (makes good sense!), but around our house the only trails are paved and even down by Fish Creek Provincial Park the places to run are nice and flat. I had been feeling fast and knew I could have cruised to a PR (personal best time) on a flat, road course, but a hilly trail race with roots and mud and rocks and trees? That was another story…but it turned out to be a GREAT run! The first lap was a long 11 km full of huge hills, steep descents, and lots of fun single track trails. (I am definitely a converted trail runner!) I finished the first loop in about 1:19, staying on pace with two men (one behind, one in front), and came to make my loop around towards the front of the pack, much to Mikey’s surprise.
The good news? I was the third girl! Mikey was snapping pictures and saying “you’re the third girl!” with so much excitement that I started feeling great again…until I saw up ahead of us a huge cloud of runners – the sport race (6 km) had taken off just as we rounded the corner and we were running the same loop as them. Unfortunately, I spent the rest of that hill picking my way around runners and eventually walking down the trail – it was a HUGE traffic jam! I wasn’t worried about time though, and was completely enjoying myself, so I just enjoyed the break and took it easy…sort of. Truth be told, I was trying to keep my pace and get around everyone and slid down the side of the trail! I bounced back up and kept going strong…laughing and apologizing for flailing as I fell!
The hills got tougher but I continued to keep pace with the guy in front of me as we chatted about running on trails and his upcoming move with his wife to Calgary from Edmonton (chatting on the trail while running is great! We really kept each other going). He kept saying, “This is the last push,” so we went for it. With all my effort, I came in through the line finishing in 2:04:19. Although my loose goal was to break 2 hours, I was thrilled with my time considering I hadn’t run on hills, trails, and had walked due to the high traffic of merging with the other race. All things considered, I was one happy finisher!
And one of the best surprises of the day? I did indeed finish as the third woman overall and second in my age group! I even got a medal, a t-shirt, and a $20 gift certificate to a Huskey gas station!
All in all, it was a great race and I can say that I’m proud of my performance and most of all just enjoyed the beauty of running outdoors and the chance to do so with a body that can move. I’m grateful for health, I’m grateful for a supportive husband, and I’m grateful to live in such an incredible place. Here’s to more trail races where the numbers and time don’t matter as much as getting off the roads and getting dirty! 🙂
If you’ve been wanting to run a race, I encourage you to just sign up, pay the money, and start training. It’s just making the commitment that’s the hardest part – from there on out, read up on tips for the race distance you’re running and give yourself grace with your goals and expectations. There’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment after running a race – regardless of your time – if you leave it all on the course (as my dad used to say) and try your best. What have you done that you’ve been proud of lately? What athletic, creative, culinary, or personal accomplishments have you achieved? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and let’s celebrate health of all kinds (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional) together. Live well and be well!