When Dan and I first started trail running/racing I was afraid of 3 things:
2. Getting lost
3. Losing my shoe/s
Number 3 happened during our first ultra at Sulphur Springs, it happen less than 2 km into the race. I amazed myself by remaining calm, retrieving the shoe, putting said shoe back on and carrying on running. What was I so afraid of?
Number 2 (sort of) happened during the Niagara Ultra. We over shot one of the last turns, we didn’t get far before I realised our error, but it helped me understand why it’s important to know what race markings you’re following and not rely on other people being in front of you!
Number 1, well that happened today. We ran The Limberlost Challenge 14km as our final “prep” race for the Death Race. The course was gorgeous, located between Huntsville and Dwight, in Lake of Bays, we ran alongside 5 different lakes! Since we were only doing 14km I didn’t carry my bag which means no pictures (sorry), thankfully we did carry our hand-held water bottles as it was freaking hot, it was 33 celsius when we set off at 9am. We were the last race to start since we only had to do one loop, there was also 28km, 42km, and 56km distances, I felt for these people, did I mention it was HOT?!?!!
This also turned out to be one of the more technical races we’ve run, meaning that it was all single track (not so good for passing, great for bumping into trees), very root covered and rocky, and very undulating. We like to start at the back of the pack so that we don’t end up starting too fast, but today we misjudged our racing mates and kind of ended up getting stuck for a bit, not that we were complaining it kept us slow and did I mention it was HOT? At the first aid station (3km) the course opens up when you run across a logging road so we booted it to get around the group we’d been following and actually ran the next few kms on our own and it was perfect. But we eventually caught up to some more runners, feeling pretty good, we actually started declaring our intention to pass and people politely moved to the side (there is an etiquette to be followed). We fell instep behind a man whose pace we liked and followed him for a while, but then he took a tumble (after getting him upright and ensuring he was ok we decided to get ahead of him), Dan and I had a few near misses ourselves, but that happens in trail racing.
We refilled our water bottles at the next aid station (9km), it was HOT, and carried on happily through the beautiful forest and then SMACK, fear number 1 realised. I caught my toe (hard) on a root and fell straight to the ground, thankfully I’ve been listening to people’s advice since my last fall, and I actually put my hands out in front of me and kept my head up, the result? I looked like I was sliding into home plate!! But like an
extremely brave experienced trail runner would, I jumped up checked for blood/breaks, saw none and carried on running! A few steps later though I had pain in my left big toe from stubbing it on the root, I stopped for a moment to assess and discovered that I had bent the nail back, it didn’t break, so seeing as we only had 4km left to run stepped down on it pushing the nail back onto the toe bed and once again carried on running. On the plus side the adrenaline gave me a second wind!
We finished strong in 1:42, first page of results and in the first half of finishers, not bad for back of the packers! It was a great run and we both felt so “on”, we hope that this is how we will feel in Grande Cache. The only recourse from my fall are some scraps on my thigh and a sore toe, totally survivable!
The race start/finish area was next to a lake so after our run we went for a dip, it was so amazing, as it was HOT. And then we filled up on chicken souvlaki, pasta salad, potato salad, chick pea salad, water melon, and oranges. My favorite post race meal yet (all that was missing was the beer!) Although this race is a little far from Toronto, I would highly recommend it. But take your swim suit since it’s in July and it might be HOT!