A month in the life of a trail runner….part 1
It’s been a busy summer so far, racing, crewing and traveling….so I need to recap it in pieces….so I’ll start from the beginning! This race was June 18, but I’ve been on the road and super busy ever since…hence it’s a little late.
Week 1- Mount Tremblant, Ultimate XC
Earlier this year, I decided I needed to spice up my trail running life with a bit of adventure and thought I might also combine this with some family time since I am an East Coaster. I had heard about a race at Mount Tremblant ( a ski resort 2 hours north of Montreal) and so I decided to research a bit about it. In my reading I discovered that in this 58km trail race there was a 4km section through a river that sounded kind of interesting and somewhat like fun! I was excited about my summer adventure where I could explore new terrain, hang with my sister, brother in law, parents, one of my best friends and my cousin and her family. It also happened to be the weekend of my Dad’s 60th birthday. My family had never seen me race so I thought it could be interesting….especially if I struggled at any point.
So off to Montreal I flew on a red eye Tuesday night, where I arrived jet lagged Wednesday morning and had a mid-day nap to prepare for GAME 7 of the Stanley Cup final…disappointed but happy to have missed the aftermath! Ah well,…onto the next adventure…Mont Tremblant! Charla and I had a relaxed morning and made our way to Mont Tremblant. It was a cute little ski resort town that was a little like Sun Peaks. We arrived, and got ready to go for a run so we could explore the area a little. As we headed out for a short run, we ran into my parents who had made the 10 hour drive without getting lost! I was excited to see them since it had been 6 months since I’d seen them last, we said a quick hello, and went for a little jaunt to explore the area. When we finished we thought we’d hit packet pick up and figure out driving instructions, etc. for race day. We met the race director who gave us some directions and answered my questions and told me the race had the “most well stocked aid stations with everything I could possibly want and when I got to the 44km, there would be duck broth and some sort of spaghetti”. I was excited by the duck broth….it just sounded so gourmet!
Race day, I was up bright and early at 5am all by my lonesome…I had given instructions, my chocolate milk, my turkey avocado and cheese sandwiches and some bags of potato chips to Charla and hoped I would see her and my parents when I got out of the river section. I headed across the street to the race start at about 6:40, and it was a strange feeling standing there with all of these east coast runners and not knowing a soul!! A few minutes later Phil Villeneuve showed up with Jen Segger,…a familiar face from the west coast! We introduced ourselves and had some pre-race chatter about what a long day we were in for….and then, we were off!
A little jaunt around the village and then we were off….I knew the race in sections, there was the river and then 3 climbs and I would cross each section off my mental list as I finished it. I had no idea what the other women runners were like and my goal was to have some fun exploring new terrain, have a good training run, to avoid injury prior to heading to Ireland for the world championships and for my family to see me finish, there was no chance of a DNF today! For the first hour I felt awful, everything hurt and was stiff, I thought I must have spent too much time in sun the day before, and I thought “this is going to be a long day!”.
I thought the north shore was technical, but let me tell you, as we got running on some of these trails, that seemed to be barely used trails…I thought this was pretty comparable and at times more difficult given the slippery leaves and muddy, boggy sections. There was this guy running near me through this section who was highly entertaining, as he was running with no shirt on and each time we went through a boggy, wet section, I heard him say “ewwh” and each time it seemed to be more dramatic, and I thought….did he read the course description, he does know we’re running through a river soon?
And so it came, the river section I’d been waiting for….I had no idea what to expect, but it was about 2 km in and out of boggy river with water at times up to my chest and dead heads and sweepers in the water which made it virtually impossible to run and we climbed over several beaver damns and little mini waterfalls…it was quite the adventure but I enjoyed this section a lot…and then there was about 2km going up a river, which was actually more difficult as we were climbing over slippery rocks and through big culverts and going up the river the whole time, fun,… I was happy when it ended and I saw my Dad standing on a rock taking photos! I had made it to the aid station!! Chocolate milk, change of socks, 1/2 a tortilla, and I was off up the mountain for climb #1. Fun section of climbing, some of it runnable and I thought we were done with the boggy sections by now, but there was still lots of mud and I saw a guy lose his shoe in this section right in front of me. Finally the climb ended and back down to the aid station we went, I was excited for some more chocolate milk and some more of my turkey and avocado sandwich….I passed a woman on the way down the hill, got to the aid station….and my family was NOT there…damn! Oh well, will have to eat from the aid stations, but he said they were well stocked….WRONG….all they had was bananas, oranges and fig newtons…I grabbed some fig newtons and filled my water, had a chat with Phil who told me I was in 4th place but that I was not far behind 2 and 3. Off I went hoping I had enough food to last for climb #2. About 1/2 way up I passed the 3rd woman. The downhill was fun, but seemed ridiculously long, I passed a few guys who said I wasn’t too far behind the 2nd woman and then I felt like I was by myself forever! But I kept seeing flags so I knew I wasn’t lost! Somewhere near the bottom I could see the 2nd woman ahead of me, and I thought just keep steady, you’re catching her and your not pushing hard….but I was hungry, I needed an aid station with some food. I had to duck into the woods, and knowing there was a lot of race to go I thought I best go now and then I could work on catching the woman ahead. So off I went and when I returned I quite easily caught up to this girl, we chatted, I found out she had done this race before, she seemed to be feeling fine….I on the other hand needed food. It seemed to take forever to reach the aid station but finally we got there and she darted off on the climb while I had to stop to fill my water and gather some calories to eat on the climb. I began the climb and I was annoyed with myself as I felt like this girl had killed me on the climb as she was nowhere in sight…I thought I shouldn’t have passed before the aid station as she probably bolted up the hill to drop me…anyhow I had nowhere to go but up, so onwards and upwards. Finally I reached the top of the climb and we hit this nice flowing ridge section where I was having a blast and totally enjoying myself…and all of a sudden I caught up to the woman again! Phew! This time, she seemed to be hurting as she let me pass and I just kept going, gunning it for the finish. I ran the whole section, ran most of the climb to the gondola and then knew it was 9km mostly downhill to the finish….finally! My sister and brother in law met me at the top of the Gondola and apologized for missing me 4 hours earlier and offered me my choc milk and a sandwich, no I said, “I’m in second place and it’s all downhill from here”, as I downed some coke and made my way down the ridiculously technical, rocky, not so easy, end of race downhill…with some uphill mixed in! It was not a fast downhill 9km let me tell you, but I passed a few people in here and made my way down to see my dad standing at a corner to take my photo! Hey DAD, what’s up?!! And then I was rewarded with a downhill finish through the village with people ringing bells and shouting “runner coming” and loads of cheers.
The race took a little longer than I thought 8hrs50 minutes…YIKES….but I felt quite good at the end of the race, like I didn’t quite leave it all out there on the course, I thought 8 hours was probably do-able…but won’t know until I try again!
All in all it was quite an enjoyable race, I accomplished my goal, had a great training run, came in 2nd woman as a bonus, didn’t get injured and my family met me at the finish and handed me a beer!! Highly successful day!!
Thanks to Kintec, smartwool, Hoka, my family and Charla for all your help and support!
I’m trying to attach photos to this but somehow they are too big…so I’ll have to post them on FB.