Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Canadian Mountain & Trail Running National Championships Race Recap

Canadian Mountain and Trail Running National Championships Results:
1:18 for 1st female (woo, what?)
15 min w/u, 15 min c/d

Sutton, Quebec
I'm sitting on the front porch of the Auberge D&K just after 7:00 am on Saturday morning, June 1. I've just gulped down two plates of fresh fruit and french bread with butter and jelly. The free continental breakfast served here is fit for a King and I believe haven't eaten this good in a while.
I'm cradling a cup of coffee in my hands while enjoying the morning sun against my face. I'm asking myself what in the world I am doing here; Just 48 hours ago I booked my flight to Sutton, last minute out of frustration with my back problems this spring. I've really just arrived, flying into Vermont last night and renting a car to drive across the border. Yesterday I was in Memphis and I plan to head back that way by 1:00 pm after the race (the awards ceremony is scheduled at 1:30 pm, I didn't intend on getting an award so I didn't plan on staying.)
The Auberge D&K. 
I head back to my room to prepare for checkout and then drive 8 minutes up to the top of Mt.Sutton. I park in the open lot and look around. I'm feeling really out of place now. There are people running around with water packs and serious looking trail running gear. I look down at me feet, I have a pair of Brooks PureGrits on, that's the extent of my preparation. I freak out a little and spend 30 dollars on a running water bottle (later I would throw this bottle into a tree and forget about it). I'm not to sure what I'm doing but I know the race starts at 10:00 am so I proceed to warm-up.

By  race time the sun is blaring, much the way I remember the Canadian summers growing up in Alberta. I am not wearing sun screen and I will pay for this later. The gun goes off, I feel a bit flat (perhaps from yesterday's travel) and go out some where towards the back. I take a quick look behind and make sure I'm not last. These ladies are serious, we are flying somewhere around 5k pace. I continue to run in the back, I can't risk going out to fast. I have no idea what to expect here.

About 400 meters into the race we begin to climb and I begin to pass people. I offer words of encouragement as I pass as the other runners.... I am trying to be nice, somewhere I convinced myself it was good karma. I quickly find myself in third place.

"I'm in third? Maybe I should slow down."

The trail becomes narrow, enough for one runner, and we begin to really climb. I push past more men and one more lady. I am still feeling quite relaxed. It takes me a few more minutes but I pass the 1st place lady. I don't hesitate as I go by, I am feeling pretty good about my pace.
11.8km Mt. Sutton
We really start climbing now. The incline is somewhere in the neighborhood of 18%, but it feels like 90. There are sections of the trail so steep that I am using my hands. I am still running, but people all around me are walking at a fast pace. My calf starts to cramp up and my chest feels like it might explode, I feel my sock slowly slide back into my shoe and by now my Pure Grits are caked in mud. I know I'm putting distance on myself and the rest of the other ladies so I continue to run while others continue to walk.

We climb...and climb...and climb some more.

We climb for over 30 minutes, and I begin to question my sanity. Just when I feel like the climb could never end, the trail flattens out and we start rolling again. Men start to fly by me (they are jumping and hurdling the short banks) I've considered myself a pretty good down hill trail runner, but I am slow compared to some of these men. I focus on a man in front of me in a yellow jersey. I figure I would do my best to stay with him as we continue to jump trees, dodge rocks, and climb up short stair-step like hills. We get to 50 minutes in and I am still in first. I still don't believe things will finish this way.

Things get really strange for me here. For one, I misread the website so I think this course is going to take me an hour (it doesn't, it takes me nearly 80 minutes). I feel like we should be finishing any second now but we are not. I start to panic, I convince myself I went the wrong way (this is crazy by the way, the trail is very well marked and there is no way I went off course). There are less men around me and the ones I try to talk to all speak french. I see someone with a bib number on for the 21k, I convince myself I took a wrong turn.
Me and my teammates going to Poland. Sarah Bergeron-Larouche & Shannon Penway.
I pass a race official and ask her how much longer and she LAUGHS at me. This freaks me out even more. How on earth did this happen? I keep running regardless. Then I stop. I wait for another guy to pass me, and ask him if we are in the right race. He looks at me like I am crazy (I am). I continue to chase after him.

Eventually the course opens up and we are spit out into an open section of road for about a quarter of a mile. Someone yells "Premiere femme." I know this means first female and I start to feel better. I continue to run and ignore the craziness going on in my head.

Somewhere I convinced myself that there is no way I could win this race.

More time passes, maybe 15 minutes (I'm not keeping track anymore) I turn a corner and a boy yells at me "Premiere femme! Un kilometre!" I start really moving. We turn a corner, I start to hear people cheering, we turn another corner, I can see the finish at the bottom of a sharp hill. I kick like crazy, pass someone (I don't remember passing them but I was later told I did) I keep running through the line.

DONE! From
I feel pretty good, but I'm still not convinced I won. I turn to the guy standing next to me and ask, "What place did I get...did" He looks at me,"You won, good job!"

"OMG!" I walk away in disbelief. People talk to me but I make zero sense, all I can do is babble, I am speaking words but I don't know where they are coming from. I can't believe it happened and therefore, don't seem overly excited. I walk to the car and call my husband.

Houston: How did it go?
Me: "Well, it was more technical then I thought. We climbed for over 30 minutes. I need to prepare a little better for that. And, well, I won."
Houston: "WHAT?"
Me: "Yeah, I won...and they say I get to go to Poland."
Houston: "OH @#$%!!"
Me: I know!...I still don't believe it...

I go back to find my teammates, Sarah and Shannon, and head for a cool down. We talk about the race and have a few good laughs. These ladies are awesome! I am instantly grateful for them and for our future travels. We run somewhere around 15-20 minutes (I once again forget to start my watch). Then head back to the lodge.

I find Adrian Lambert and break the news to him that I didn't actually intend on staying for awards (a few minutes later I would get a phone call from Houston where he starts threatening me to stay.) He is so pretty cool about it, shrugs his shoulders and says, "Hey they are actually at noon so you'll make it. Really, if everyone is around we can just go ahead with them." AWESOME. He tells me that they are actually engraving my name in a plaque right now. Later I would get two plaques, one that actually has my name scrolled in a rock that reads "CHAMPION 2013." Keepsake for sure (I promise I will post a picture). I also get handed an envelope with $150 bucks in it! I had no idea there was money in this race and who doesn't love winning money!

A few minutes later I jumped in my rental and drove 20 minutes or so across the border to Vermont. I didn't have time to shower, I stopped at a Gas Station to wash my face in the sink and change (apologize to those sitting next to me on the plane). With three flights and 4.5 hours of driving, I made it back to Starkville just before 3:00AM.

It was all totally worth it.

I must say this again, I really had no idea that I had a chance to win this race. I am tired of this S.I. problem. Its been 12 long years battling it. I have completed some AMAZING workouts this spring, but the locking up in my hips during a race has not allowed me to see any results. In the back of the mind, I have always known that (eventually) I would need to make a transition to the trail (or in this case, Mountain). I'm not saying I am giving up my marathon goals, or even the half-marathon, however with World Mountain Running Championships in Poland in September, and NACAC in New Hampshire next month, I am putting my marathon on hold until October. I want to do my very best to represent my country at Worlds!!

Here I go! Run Happy!

Press Release
Trail Article

(I've got more pictures from the trip, I plan on posting them soon.)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Canadian Mountain Running Champs Short Update

This is not an actual blog (sorry, no time) just a brief update. Recently I got so fed up with my S.I. joint problems that a booked a last minute flight to Sutton to Quebec to participate in the Canadian Mountain Running Championships. Like I expected, my back didn't bother me at all, and quite unexpected, I actually won the race....qualifying for the World Championship in Poland and NACAC in New Hampshire. It was also a relief to finally run a race and not lock up in my hips and get a chance to show my true fitness.

More on this later. For now, here is a short press release: