Saturday, September 24, 2011

Melissa's 22km Road Race 2011

I was eager to run this race again this summer after doing it last year. It's a local race, if you can call a 3 hour drive  from Jasper to Banff local. When living in the national parks there aren't too many races on your door step. So this is local! Plus it was a tough race and great preparation for the Amsterdam Marathon 3 weeks later. 

I went to the race with my Banff buddy Ellie who was running in the 10km race.  The weather was great, really sunny but maybe a bit too hot as the race had a 10.30am start. After watching the start of the 10km, we were off 10 mins later for the 22km.  For a low key race, a large field of 1,300 runners lined up at the start.  Once again, my strategy was to start off steady for the first kilometre and then slowly pick up the pace (like I did in the Mount Robson Marathon).

The plan worked perfectly and I found myself passing runners throughout the whole race and am finding this to be such a great motivator.  I distinctly remember starting too fast last year in this race and really suffering in the second half. 

Pre race smiles with Ellie
Another issue is that Banff is 400m higher in elevation than Jasper and boy did it catch me out last year in this race. I was finding it hard get enough oxygen into my lungs.  So my cunning plan this year was to do a pre-race acclimatisation run the night before the race (I travelled over the Banff the day before the race) and, as mentioned, start slowly!!
My plan seemed to work well and I ran a good race. It did get pretty hot towards the end and there were some issues with lack of water being available on the course but I was very happy to cross the finishing line in 1hr 35mins in 59th place overall.  

Now it's onto Amsterdam Marathon on 16th October:)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mount Robson Marathon 2011

I just knew that I had to take part in this race from the first moment that I saw the advertisement in a local shop window. It was a special 'one off' race as part of the 100 year anniversary celebrations of BC Parks. The race course was an "out-and-back" run on the world famous Berg Lake Trail. The route passed through several different environmental zones and had its turn-around point on the the shores of magnificent Berg Lake. Wow, just awesome!

It just about fitted into my race schedule for the end of summer and I signed up with eager anticipation. Updated my Facebook status with this fact and asked if anyone else fancied joining me. Three of my local running buddies, Stewart, Kim and Cristin quickly took up the challenge too.

I trained both on the road and the trails leading up to this one, I had a road race both before and after Mount Robson, so my plan was to just enjoy this one and use it as a training run too.  Just run it but not race!  Come race day, I lined up at the start with blue skies and big smiles all around.  Then off we went.  My plan was to start at a very steady pace, letting the faster runners get well away from me.  I have a tendency to get swept along at the start, running the first few kms too fast and I suffer for it later on in the race.  My plan worked a charm, I found myself in running the first couple of km's well back and then I slowly began picking up the pace.  I began passing runner after runner as we made our way up to Kinney Lake. The long steep section past lots of water falls then started and it was just power hike and run when it was possible to.  Towards the end of this section, the lead runners were coming back and heading back down.  Very fast runners indeed!!  The competitive side in me had not come out until then, but I found myself counting them as they passed me so that I would roughly know where I was at the turn around point.  There were approx 80 runners competing in the full marathon, so I was surprised to only count 29 runners pass me on their way back down the trail.  Golly, I was top 30 without really trying. 
Super happy with Mount Robson behind me

That was it, no one was going to pass me and I was going to hammer it on the way back down.
I was letting go and really going for it as I descended back down the trail.  I like to think I have good speed on the downhill and was determined to pass as many runners as I could.  I counted each one as I passed them.  Really great motivation when you are counting your position down one by one.  Trouble was that the field had really spread out by this time but still I passed a total of 7 runners and no one passed me. I had a real blast flying back down the trails, some of which were very technical and gnarly but great fun!  I only took one tumble but no serious injuries, just a few cuts and bruises. 

I crossed the finishing line in 4hrs 19mins and ended up 23rd overall.  Best of all, I had a fantastic day taking part in an awesome race. So glad that I had the opportunity to be part of this special event and thanks to BC Parks for making it happen.  

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