Ain’t no secret that I love running. And you would think that by the amount of races in which I have participated, that I loved racing too. Truth be told, I do enjoy racing however I do not enjoy the first 10, sometimes 20 minutes of a race. I know full well that I am trained, I am prepared, I am fueled, but somehow that inner dialog in my mind always has a little something to say during the first 10 minutes. “What are you doing? You don’t need to do this. What are trying to prove? This is stupid.” Come on, I know that I’m not the only one.
It’s right, I don’t need to do it, but kind of want to…because I can, and I am kind of over proving myself…kind of, and yes, in the rain and in Vegas, it is stupid, but it is so worth it when it is all done.
On Saturday I participated (notice I did not say race) in the final 5 Peaks 2012 BC Coastal Trail Running Series race at Buntzen Lake (my race bib would tell you otherwise). Although I had hiked the route twice before (once marking the race route during my days with 5 Peaks, with an 80lb pack on my back, and once with my running friends) and knew what to expect terrain wise, I had never ‘run’ the route and had started to get a little nervous about it on the days leading up the race.
In my mind it was going to be a 10 minute run, followed by a 2km hike up the Diez Vista Trail to enjoy 10 spectacular views of Indian Arm and surrounding areas as I scampered along the top of the tree line, back down to the floating bridge (knowing what to expect I chose not to think about this section) and then a nice 25 minute run to the finish line. With the lack of precipitation we have received for the last 6 weeks or so, I also imagined the trail would be dry.
It rained heavily the night before the race.
We arrived at Buntzen Lake, the ground was still wet, the tops of the mountains still covered in cloud and the temperature was perfect for running. The Enduro race started shortly after 9:00am (the Sport race started at 9:30am, new feature this year) and I crossed the start line towards the back of the pack.
The first 10 minutes were exactly as I had anticipated and served as a great warm-up as the trail splits and we head up the Diez Vistas Trail. No nasty mind dialog either, I think that I may have been too focused on the next part of the run.
Over the course of the next 2km we climbed from approximately 125m to 550m (close to 1400ft) and my run turned into a hike. I could see most of my gang for the climb up and enjoyed catching up with a friend from my 5 Peak days for a good 15 minute section of the climb (yes, I chatted while I climbed).
As we hit the top section of the trail it became very rooty and extremely slippery due to the rain. My feet seemed to catch every root and rock on the trail I ran what I could but for the most part I moved from trot to hike and any time goal that I had before starting had gone off the side of the cliff as now my only goal was to finish as unscathed as physically possible. Everyone I had passed on the climb up had now passed me as well as more. I wasn’t having much fun up there, the quiet little voice in my head was spitting acid and to top it off there was no view, we were in the clouds!
I counted the non-viewpoints as I made my way along the ridge and felt such a sense of relief at the thought of making my way back down. Oh, I have to go back down…SMF.
The trail remained very technical as well as slippery; I just wanted to get it done with. I was starting to come to terms with people passing me, so when I heard them behind me I would just move over to let them go by. I guess I have fear, I also don’t want to get hurt (who does right?), my body needs to be ready to go the next day, which feeds the circle of fear. I couldn’t help but think about how the hell I managed to mark this route several years ago with an 80lb pack on my back. Young and stupid? Too much head drama.
There were several sections which I took sliding down a rock face or a steep section of roots on my backside, at this point I really had no shame, and am not embarrassed to admit (although I should be) that I did let out a few winey sounds.
Towards the end of the descent Soraiya caught me. It was nice to see a familiar face even as she almost took me out as she passed me.
1 hour and 55 minutes after starting the godforsaken race, hike, crawl, whatever you want to call it, I finally made it down to the trail that led to the power lines and to the north beach and I was able to run, really run! It was actually kind of funny being so far into a race and having so much energy left, and why wouldn’t I, I had walked for the last hour.
You know those pictures that you see “what I think I look like when I am running” and “what I probably look like when I am running”, yeah, that was me. For the final 32 minutes and change, I felt like I was flying totally ripping up the trail, and felt like I somewhat redeemed the patheticness of my previous hour on the trail.
My time 2:28:42. Insert eye roll and head shake here. Mission accomplished I guess, with the exception of the beating that my runners, my pedicure and ego took, I came out relatively unscathed. It is what it is.
The best part of the race? Congratulatory tequila in the lake, compliments of my friend Eric. It certainly took the edge off the morning.
Thanks to the gang at 5 Peaks for a challenging race and an extremely well marked course (don’t think that I could have done a better job myself). Thanks to the fabulous volunteers for keeping us safe and giving us that cheer that we needed to keep going. Big congrats to everyone who participated and a special shout out to Bob and my girls Bev and D on their podium finishes.
Conny and I have been running the Hayward Lake trail network for almost 9 years together (as much as I don’t like to think that there was life before me, there was, she has been running them for 13 years) we have NEVER run into any wildlife. We know it is there, we have seen the bear scat, the paw prints in the mud and the warning signs posted on the trail. It was really only a matter of time. Today, time ran out, and we came face to face with Mr. Bear.
Although Mr. Bear seemed a little more afraid of us than we were of him (Conny said it was my shrill laugh that caused him to run, thanks) he was certainly curious enough to stop at a safe distance (from my shrill laugh) to have a good look at us. Fortunately for us Mr. Bear wasn’t a baby (Mommas are never far from their babies) and he wasn’t a big’un either (the sheer size and volume of some of the scat on the trail has lead us to believe that there is something horse size roaming the in area) so after following some basic rules of what to do should you encounter a bear (no tree climbing was necessary) we watched him retreat back into the bushes and up the embankment and we continued our run…but very cautiously.
Sorry, no picture.
Today was a bittersweet day. Today was the first time that we have all been injury free enough to run the loop of Hayward Lake since Thanksgiving weekend last year, but today will also be the last time that we are able to do so for the next 5 years as a section of the trail (which is also the best section as it gives access to the floating bridge) is being closed due to the seismic upgrade of the Ruskin Dam.
Just in case you slept through it, this morning was spectacular, sun, blue sky, warm air and not a glove in sight! Getting to the trail was no easy feat as the lower Railway Trail parking lot had been closed and we weren’t about to hike to the upper parking lot.
We do what we have to do and made it by the first fence only to find another smaller fence, they really didn’t want us to be here. But once we were through we enjoyed the lower section of the trail and the sweet smell of Spring, in some of the less treed areas it felt more like early Summer.
Up the Powerhouse hill and over the Stave Dam and then the work started as we climbed the s-curve hill on Dewdney Trunk Road (or as we like to call it Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver hill). It’s always a relief when this is over as we kick back in the trail for a mostly downhill run.
As we passed the Reservoir Trail parking lot we ran into a friendly BC Hydro guy (with great shades) and he filled us in on some of the timelines. Drawdown of the lake will begin on Friday. The two floats that secure the floating bridge will be removed as will the bridge. He assured us that no matter how stealthy we were (obviously he didn’t see us navigate the fences on the Railway Trail) we would be unable to cross over the floating bridge. He also said that the lake would be on drawdown until August and that the beach area would also be closed. This kinda ruins summer, no beer commercial morning runs, no late Summer afternoon treks to the floating bridge to cool off and no beach. What are we going to do? Lookout White Rock, the country folk will be coming to visit! Although we will not be able to cross the bridge, we will still be able to run the section from the Reservoir Trail to Canoe Landing and to the floating bridge, and then back out still giving a good two-hour run. As well the lower trail, the upper parking lot on Wilson and main parking lot will be open, but it just isn’t the same, especially with the lake on drawdown. Friendly BC Hydro guy almost seemed as sad as we were.
For the next 50 minutes or so my anxiety started to build as I knew what I was going to have to do. We passed my fav spot on the trail, had a little peak, Soraiya suggested that this spot needed “ahhhhhhh” music, over Conny’s near death experience bridge, along the ledge and to Conny’s moss wall, she loves this spot.
We climbed Canoe Landing and then down to the floating bridge, and it was time. When Conny and I ran last week we said that we would take a dip in May, and this being our farewell run, we would be taking a dip today. Oh, that water was going to be cold, I had only just commented that I could see snow on the neighbouring mountains which feed Stave Lake. Pack off, hat off, Garmin off, shoes off, socks off and over the railing we went…
We took a few minutes to say goodbye and finished the last 5 minutes of our bittersweet run knowing that it would be years before we would be able to be here again, sniff, sniff.
Sometimes I wonder why I run. Oh, I love to run, but I hate being cold and wet (and yet I still live on the West Coast). Add hungry to the mix and I turn into a raving lunatic, I would so not make it on Survivor. Just as a quick left turn, why do they not wear rain jackets instead of blazers and flouncy sweaters when they are being dropped off on the island? (Not to mention properly fitted undergarments, the image of Phillip and his saggy raspberry y-fronts is burned in my brain forever, ew.) You know that you will be spending the next 39 days in monsoon season (and in your underwear), I’m just saying.
Anyway, when I was getting ready for my run this morning I couldn’t help but be a bit whiney. I received a text on my way to the trail that said “I am jealous of you hot tubbing”. I followed this up with an immediate phone call to set the situation straight, and when the handsome voice on the other end said “good morning” I in a snappy voice said “you know what I have to run through in order to get to the hot tub”. I know Tuesday mornings suck, poor me.
The hardest step was the first one out of the car. Conny was already in the parking lot, soaked, and there was no putting off the inevitable.
There is a big difference in 2-degree rain and 5-degree rain. Both are equally as wet but one not quite as cold and miserable as the other; the difference between Saturday morning and today. So when I dressed this morning for a mild 5 degree run I dressed using my add 10 degrees rule, and dressed as I would for 15 degrees, and that is almost t-shirt and shorts weather (I did not go with shorts this morning purely because of the rain/chafe factor, poor Soraiya).
Surprisingly after my Saturday morning long run on the dykes and my Sunday morning run for bacon (really I did, I ran to the store bought bacon and ran home with it in my pack, thank goodness we had plenty of eggs) my legs didn’t feel nearly as fatigued as I thought they would and I had a really great run. And yes, the end reward was fabulous, homemade bagels (thanks Sharon) and coffee in the hot tub. I know Tuesday mornings suck.
When something significant happens in your life, where you were and what you were doing is etched in your mind forever. I am also like that with issues pertaining to running.
I can tell you the exact rock that I stepped on last Thanksgiving when I rolled my ankle, the root that I tripped over and had my epic superman recovery, I could never forget Conny’s near death experience bridge or the exact location where I knew that my Seattle marathon training was over. And each time I pass said spot, I can’t help but acknowledge it, even if it’s only in my mind.
My most recent place of injury is different. It is a particularly lovely section of trail, with a spectacular view, a place that I want to continue to enjoy without the reminder of the incident.
So this morning I returned to the scene. I took a moment, had a few words with it and then reclaimed my trail.
On our way to the trail this morning Conny, Colin and I met LaFawnduh. For those of you that didn’t get the reference (myself included), LaFawndah is a character from Napoleon Dynamite who has style, poise and access to sweet mixed tapes.
#3 highlight from this morning’s run was it being over! I will always pick a trail run over a road run, but today should have been an exception to my rule. Running in 8-10 inches of snow for 45 minutes was equivalent to running for 45 minutes flat footed with high knees on unstable ground, and I am going to pay dearly for it tomorrow.
#1 highlight from this morning’s run was the coffee and hot tub that followed! Tuesday mornings suck.
Nothing like a strategically placed water break to enjoy the scenery and indulge in the fruits of late summer! Reason number 29 of why I run.
How can something hurt when you walk but not when you run? It seems to be a bit of a pattern for me lately…maybe it’s this whole aging thing, I don’t recommend it!
I met Conny bright and early this morning, left my aches and pains at the side of the road and ran one of the most fantastic loops of Hayward Lake to date. The sun was shining, the air was warm, the pace was right (except when running through the construction zone on the dam, it quickened to the point that I felt a little left behind), the trails were peaceful and the water was a degree or two above refreshing.
Ahhhhh, I love summer runs.
Dash: to move with sudden speed
Add in a kilt, a mini sombrero, velour leopard print cut off pj’s, 11 obstacles, a lotta mud, several flesh wounds, a nasty bruise, an eye full of mud, 2 trips to the medical tent, loud music, furry Viking helmets all around, oh and a mountain climb, sound like fun? It was the most fun I have ever had in an afternoon!
We converged on Day Area Parking Lot 2 and made our way to Whistler’s (as well as British Columbia’s) very first Warrior Dash. Emotions ranged from nervous to excited, I was a little disappointed that I had not opted for a costume (next year will be a totally different story) especially when we joined at the gondola line-up to take us up to the tube park where the race was being held. There were Smurfs, ninjas, uncle-daddies and auntie mommies, but policeman in bootie shorts was my personal fav.
The line-up and the gondola moved very quickly and we arrived at our battleground in no time at all, and made our grand entrance to “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” (the Quiet Riot version), how fitting. The venue was absolutely massive, tents everywhere, a beer garden, huge main stage and of course the Warrior start line.
Racer check-in was well organized and we breezed through. The first wave of racers was already coming in covered in mud, and I couldn’t wait to get started. The racer bulletin from Friday night had suggested we allow 2 hours to complete the parking, upload and check-in process. Originally some of our group were to start in the 1:00pm wave and the others in the 1:30pm wave, but we were done in just under an hour and decided to join an earlier wave.
The anticipation and the energy at the start line was crazy. In front of us was the steep hill that we had to climb; I was told that when it rounded the corner it just kept going so I was prepared for a good 20 minute grind.
At 12:30 our wave went out and charged the first hill. As I was racing with Heckter, my plan differed a little from the others. We hung towards the back of our wave and hiked the hill at a steady pace. It was tough but completely doable and we hit the top in just over 15 minutes. There was a bit of a bottle-neck at the first water station but the sun was hot and we decided to wait in line for a little hydration.
The first obstacle was not too far away. It was a series of 4’ walls that you had to climb over or crawl under. I’m not sure if the last wall was slightly taller than the previous or that my shoulders were being worked in way that they hadn’t before, whatever the case the last wall required a little more oomph to get me over.
A quick run down the hill and we hit the second obstacle. At first glance, it just looked like you had to run through a mist of water, but when you actually ran through it, the mist was actually being blasted at you and you couldn’t see at all for about 10 seconds, we called it the blinding water and of course the ground was full on mud. I liked this one, and it completely cooled you down, very well placed.
From here we made our way to the tunnel of terror. You had to crawl under a series of 2’ ish beams. I entered in on my hands and knees but after the first rock hit my knee I quickly developed a new strategy, kind of a side scuttle on my hands and feet.
After the tunnel of terror we made our way up and over another little hill and down to the great warrior wall. It was similar to climbing a 12’ wall ladder with every second rung missing. There was even a rope to help you if you needed it…we scaled it.
A second and less busy water station was just steps away, and we took in a little more hydration.
From here we made our way down a very slippery downhill section that lead to a 35’ slip and slide. The marshal said that we could go headfirst or on our butts, I followed Hecktor’s lead and went head first and as soon as my body touched the plastic I knew that it was a HUGE mistake. I made it about half way down and my hipbone went over a rock SMF! I jumped up in sheer agony and hobbled down the rest of the slide. The girl behind me must have followed the same line because she did the same thing. I think that if I were by myself I would have had a little pitty party at the side of the trail, but I put on my brave (grimacing) warrior face, clutched my wound and made my way up the mountain bike trails towards the next obstacle.
We called this one the low cargo net. Still smarting a bit from the slip and slide, I navigated this one very gently holding onto the middle beam and stepping sideways. It was all good until I had to climb out of it, I think I left some profanity on this section of the course.
Next was walking the planks. The planks were narrow a little wobbly and about 5’ in the air. This obstacle was a combined effort from Hecktor and I; you have got to love teamwork.
By this point we could hear the band playing on the main stage and we knew that we were close, and came upon the cargo climb. Note to self for next time to climb in the centre along the beam, the ropes are way less wobbly.
As we rounded the corner we could see the spectators who were cheering us on as we entered the last stages of the dash. Up another wall, and into the homestretch.
We jumped over the two rows of fire, they were small but hot! With less than a minute or so from the finish line we were completely soaked but still fairly clean…but then came the mud under the barbed wire.
I am fairly certain that this was manufactured mud, it was the consistency of pancake batter, the kind of batter that has been left on the counter too long and then mixed with little tiny rocks, it felt like it could harden and solidify at any minute. At this point I was glad that I wasn’t wearing a knee length kilt. I managed to climb under the first few rows of barbed wire without having to completely submerge myself in the mud, but the last one made sure that nobody was coming out clean and I had to climb through on my belly! It wasn’t easy climbing out either but once I was out there it was merely steps to the finish line.
What a total rush! I was absolutely filthy, I had even forgotten about my battle wound for a few minutes but once I remembered it I couldn’t wait to show it off. Turns out I wasn’t the only one!
By the time I finished taking a few pics I could feel the mud starting to harden so made I my way up to the wash station. Here it was all very civilized. We lined up and one at a time we took our turn standing and turning from front to back as many times as we could possibly stand whilst being blasted/power washed with ice cold water from a fire hose…oh and it did the job too.
Once we were relatively clean, on came the furry Viking hats.
Our timing chip also doubled as a free beer ticket. I don’t think that I was meant to ever get a free beer, because although I did remember to bring my ID this time, the line-up was insane and we were all hungry so we decided to head back down the gondola in search of a patio.
I’m not sure what visitors to Whistler must have been thinking as there was a sea of furry Viking helmets roaming though the Village….VICTORY!
A big thank-you to the race organizers, course marshals, volunteers and first aiders – job well done, and congratulations to all of the warriors, big and small.
Who should do this event?
- Anyone with a basic level of physical fitness.
Would I do anything different?
- Dress in costume.
- Not go head first down the slip and slide.
Would I recommend this event?