I woke up very excited about this trail race. Although this is the first time I was truly running in a 5 Peaks trail race, this is not the first 5 Peaks event that I've participated. Last summer, due to injury, I walked 9 or so kilometres with a friend in the sport course at Fish Creek Park (Race #4 in August). It was very enjoyable and I had a first hand experience of what a trail race was like...without actually having to run the race. The trail running community was small and friendly, the sponsors were generous and visible, attentive to providing goods and services to the trail running community.
I was so glad not to be training for any half marathons this year, and that I decided to focus on trail running. I wanted to see what this trail running was all about; and of course, I wanted to see for myself how well I could do.
I trained by running a few times in Fish Creek Park, though not so much on trails, since I was not familiar with the single track trail system, or in fact with much of the Park. I was fortunate that I had friends who do regularly run in this Park and I could join them for a run there. My training on trail runs have mostly been limited to a few times running up and down McHugh Bluff, one trail run with the Strides Running Store through Bowmont Park (which I nearly thought was a mistake for me, considering my fear of heights - a story for another time) and the Wed night orientation run organized by Amy Golumbia at 5 Peaks.
|The view of the Bow River upstream at Bowmont Park. Strides Urban Trail Running.|
The orientation run was a great way to learn about the race course itself, especially for someone like me who hadn't even run many trails yet. The differing terrain, the hills, the ascents and descents, the scenery, and the people who chose to show up at this run was great. I was so fatigued during this run, bc I had just run through Bowmont Park with a very fast (to me) group the day before. However, it got me thinking about how I should strategize my run on race day. I know it sounds a bit like overkill for a 5k trail race - but hey! - I knew I wasn't going to be fast at all, yet anything to help me run a tad faster than before and also enjoy the race would be useful!
|This Instagram photo from 5 Peaks shows me and my new running friend Greg at the orientation run.|
On race day, due to limited parking, I made sure to show up early....so early, the registration tables had not been set up yet. In fact, half of the "limited" parking was still empty! However, I was still glad to be there and see the entire race being set up. It gave me time to go over my things again and again to make sure I didn't miss anything for my race, yet at the same time, not overpack for the short sport course race. In addition, I saw a few running friends: Jenny, Tina (a 5 Peaks Ambassador), a number of people from the Run Club at the Eau Claire Running Room, and others, some new buddies from the orientation run on Wednesday night!
|The situation when I got there: just setting up.|
|Kids on the run - 1 and 3 km Kids' Races|
The beginning of the race starts off with this big-@$$ hill (which I am sure the more seasoned ones though it was nothing). I slowly but doggedly ran up that hill. It was tough slogging. After a bit of a flat section, there was a descent that seemed a little steep to me, but a lot of runners took it in stride as if it was a continuation of the flat. As you can see, my fear of heights may have hindered me from going any faster than I would have wished. However, once past the wooded descent, it opened to some open fields of single track, with the occasional paved pathway to follow. I felt pretty good, although I had to pace myself, going out to the turnaround point where the water station was. I followed this one lady for the longest time until she just couldn't keep up the pace anymore, and then I had to figure out how to motivate myself to keep going at whatever pace that lady had run. It was even more difficult, since I forgot my Garmin and was basically running naked (with clothes on).
In any case, after the turnaround point, it was getting a bit tough bc all along the single track both approaching and leaving the turnaround, the faster runners were already there, and often I had to step off the single track to let them pass. Not that I minded it; I most certainly did not want to be in their way. However, it did make me tired - perhaps bc running alongside the single track in the taller grasses and the like was not contemplated by me and made it tougher going. That said, I was so appreciative of a number of those faster runners who still encouraged as slower ones, even as they were racing to their speedy and perhaps podium finishes. They inspired me to encourage the slower ones I approached after I had passed the turnaround point. This kind of goodwill is rare to see at a road race but was so awesome to encourage at this trail race.
The "steep" descent, on going back, because the "steep" ascent for me. This was probably the most discouraging part of the race for me, bc I was so fatigued that I could only walk up the hill, slowly. How do I know? I had all sorts of people run past me up this ascent...and then I even had people WALKING up the hill faster than me!!! At that time, I was pretty tapped out and just could not put any more effort into my slow shuffle up the hill. Once I got past it though and recovered with a slow jog, then I was able to pick up the pace to the finish. It required a run along the ridge before you could run down to the finish, and it was picturesque.
Once I got to 50 metres from the finish, I sprinted it and came in at 42:44 chip time...on a 6.3k race route. I had expected with the terrain and lack of trail experience that my pace would be 7 mins/km plus...turned out to be around 6:47. I'll take that!!
The post race food was really good, although I must really remember to bring my own plate and cutlery. Chips, fruit - esp the strawberries! - muffins, water, gatorade and coffee was simple but excellent to recover. I tried the Muscle Milk which a lot of people enjoy as a recovery drink...unfortunately, not the thing for me. However, many of my running friends were happy to enjoy it and I was happy for them too. Clif bars had an excellent selection of bars, both for fuel and recovery and I did enjoy many of their flavours.
Altra Running Canada was there as well as CEP Canada, which made me very happy. As I had just bought a couple of pairs of Altra Lone Peaks already, I didn't feel it was necessary to be buying shoes again...however, I did make sure to buy orange CEP compression socks. Originally I bought it to colour coordinate with my orange Lone Peaks as well as a new pair of Brooks running shorts and Asics running tank top, but it turned out that the main colour for the 5 Peak races was orange as well LOL!
If the weather is right, I will be SO colour coordinated one of these races...you wait and see!!
|Not so colour coordinated this race...but soon!|
All in all, a great experience at my first trail race; I'm looking forward to the rest of the 5 Peak races. I even signed up for MEC's Spring trail race, which is their first ever trail race that they've organized. June 6, I'll find out what it's all about.