Holy Hannah...what a day what a day! I knew going in that this was going to be a tough race and it did not disappoint!
I left my house at 6am for the 45 min drive to Kananaskis Country where the race started at the Station Flats parking lot. I run into my friend Alan on arrival and hang out and chat in the parking lot for a while and get introduced to some people and some other people that are also doing Transrockies this year. Good times. It's probably 40 mins before race start and there's already people all ready to go and i'm sitting there yawning my face off and waiting till the last possible moment to get changed and ready. It's not that cold...around 10 degrees...but when I wake up in the morning i'm always freezing no matter what the temp and it takes me a while to get over it! While I'm in line for the bathroom a guy turns around and asks me "Are you Deb?" I'm like, yeah! (that's never happened to me before haha). Anyways, he knows a friend of mine and also ended up finding and reading my blog! Cool beans! It was great meeting you today Jason, great race! :)
About 10 mins before race start we have a pre race meeting and are told that due to a wildlife incident our route is going to be detoured about halfway through the race...we have to go off the trail and down to the dirt road to run on for about 3km to the midpoint aid station. Hmm...interesting...bear siting? I dunno what it was...but we're told later :)
So...the race...what to say...I don't know a lot about the details of elevation other than the start of the race was at 1410m, the highest point of the race was at 2025m, and we had a total elevation gain for the day of 1858m. What can I say...the first 10km was hard! I had a feeling there was 3 girls in total ahead of me and I had been following behind 1 of them for the first 5 km. At about 5km came aid station #1 and I ended up leaving it quicker that her. She had been running really well and I was actually thinking she would come back and pass me pretty quick but this didn't happen. The next 5km was pretty fun and had a lot of fun downhill leading to aid station #2 at about the 10km mark.
This is where I met the guy just infront of me - Jeremy - and we left the aid station together. It was especially nice to have the company as the second 10km was harder and mentally exhausting as well. It helped take my mind off of how I was feeling. There was a lot of steep climbing that we walked and he chatted away and I cursed to myself how easy he was talking while I gasped for air with my responses. Damn you lol! This is where I really was not feeling well at all...I was not happy that I was already feeling this way at about 13km in! These hills were tough!! I expected Jeremy to quickly move on but he was content to stick with the pace we were going. Finally we got to some great downhills again and he was a superstar while I'm still learning to go fast on them. I was actually super impressed with myself on the downhill sections today as I'm trying to get used to just letting myself go and stop holding back all the time. There were many crazy sketchy spots where I could have seen myself tripping and flying in the air halfway down the hill.
At about 18km or so we break out onto the dirt road for the detour and reach aid station #3 at about 22km. We hear that we're 12th and 13th overall and I am infact the 3rd female. Cool stuff. We leave that aid station and after having some banana and orange slices...i'm feeling like a rockstar! Fewf! The trail is nice and rolling and we fly along chatting away. At about 26km I notice 3 guys come out of nowhere from up ahead just standing there...huh? As we approach I realize it's my running friends Al, Garrath, and Erich and they high five me and cheer me on. It was awesome seeing them and it definitely brought a huge smile to my fast and gave me a boost!I had no idea they would be out there today!!
The rest of the run up to aid station #4 around the 32km mark was fun and I felt really good. I knew there was still some tough stuff to come but didn't want to think about it and just enjoyed the run! We start catching up to half marathoners at this point as they were doing an out and back route. I didn't expect to see so many at this point as it should have been pretty late into their race...they were supposed to start 2 hours after us...but apparently they started about 40 mins late as there was a bear on the trail. Aid station 4 is a bit of craziness as we're coming in and half marathoners are everywhere. Leaving the station it climbs up and we run the same route back that we did on the way out for the last 10km. As we're climbing up on this rocky section I don't know if I should be moving out of the way for the people going downhill or if they should move for me?...mostly they moved but I felt bad and the first time I tried to move...i kind of step off the edge of the trail and stumble somehow and total wipe out...so yeah I end up screwing up the people coming down and the people going up...very nice Deb, nice work. Come on though...did you doubt this would happen? Every trail race i've run so far this year i've totally bailed on.
Anyways, from about 8km on my long 22km run with Jeremy ended as I was feeling pretty good and I guess he wasn't and slowed down a bit...however, his longest run in preparation for this event was 26km up to this point so he was doing a pretty kick ass job! I kept going and fully expected him to appear out of nowhere. 8km left and I felt awesome!!! I come to this weird section that looks like it used to be a river with big round rocks...I should have slowed and walked over them but did I? No. I tried to run through it and ended up falling HARD onto both knees and getting a bit of a nasty gash on one of them. Oh my. What a surprise...Deb falls again...shocking I know. It definitely didn't feel good but I was more angry than anything for being such a dumb ass!
Anyhow, I continue on and began to realize that we had come down some crazy downhills a few hours ago to get to that last aid station...which means there's some fun climbing to come...damn! All i'm going to say was that the next 4km were tough...tough! And while i'm cursing the hills I look back and see these 2 guys catching me pretty quick...shit balls! Relief hits when I see by their bib that they're half marathoners...saweet. But I also notice this girl farther back down the trail power hiking and moving pretty quick...to me she looks like the girl I passed over 25km ago! That instantly gets me moving quicker and finally i'm into the last 4 km which is pretty much flat or downhill...running scared! I can't get caught when I have 4 km to go!!
And I didn't...yay! I finished a long day in 4:39 and managed to get 3rd place overall female. Unfortunately I heard throughout the second half of the run that I was only 2 mins behind the 2nd place woman but i never saw her! I had trouble believing that but it's true...first place was Doone Watson (also heading to Transrockies) with about 3 mins on me and the second place lady was about 2 mins on me. Honestly, I couldn't have given anymore and was pleased with my finish! And it turns out that it was a half marathon female that I had been running scared from so I should say thanks to her for motivating me to pick up the pace!
After the race, my friend Alan (who also finished about 3-4 mins ahead of me) and I drove a few mins down the road to get to the glorious river to soak our legs...damn that glacier fed stuff is cooold. I could only manage to get in just passed my knees...i'm kind of a wimp that way! We spend the next couple of hours waiting around for the awards and chatting with everyone about the race. I was happy to discover a lot of people had also bailed and looked worse off than me with their cuts and scrapes :) However one guy that ran the half marathon ended up falling and having a stick go completely through his hand...poor guy was rushed off to the hospital!
For my third place finish I got a sweet ass SmartWool long sleeve zip merino wool shirt...it fits perfect! Great prize! Oh and remember the "wildlife incident" that caused the detour and the race being a bit shorter finishing at about 41.3km? Apparently there was a cougar kill on the trail that a grizzly was now enjoying. Yikes. Pffft...and Alan called me a rookie for running with bear spray...whatevs, if it wasn't for Jeremy i would have spent almost the whole day by myself and it's Kananaskis Country...bear country people. I feel safer with it...bears freak me out!
So yeah, this was definitely the hardest race I've ever done and I'm damn sore! I wore my skins in the race and i think they really helped a lot and now i'm recovering in my zoots which are a bit tighter...feels great. I'm actually thinking about buying a pair of compression tights for Transrockies for recovery each night. My quads and hamstrings are super sore and if they feel like that after each stage then I'll definitely want them!!
It'll be interesting to see how I make out on my run tomorrow. Tonight i'm chilling and watching more of le Tour...can't get enough :)
Hope everyone is having a great weekend!