Well, I’m back. It’s been a busy and rough few years since my last post.
Although, I have been continually racing, life pressures kept getting in the way of me being able to update my blog. This time, I am determined to resume my pathway to improving my running and share my experiences with you.
To start off, I recently ran the Pack Mentality race hosted by the Edmonton Trail Runners group. This experience was new to me, as it was a team based race, where we were required to run and finish together. Definitely worth sharing!
Andrew Snook, Darren Deveau and myself registered as a 3-man team. We didn’t have any set goals in mind, however we wanted to be efficient and run a fast, yet comfortable pace. On top of that, the weather was pretty cold so we didn’t want to be outside longer than we needed to be. On the fun side of things, our friend Warren decided to run on another team, so we were hoping to keep close to their finish time. In a race where everyone starts at their choosing, we had no idea how we were going to place in the rankings. It’s kind of like blind racing.
After we paid our registration and grabbed our race bib (it was actually a little piece of cloth with a number on it), we started our journey at around 9am.
It didn’t take long to realize that I under dressed for the run! As I knew we would be out there for a minimum of two hours, I dressed a little bit too light for the early conditions and I immediately felt the stress of the cold. I thought back to my cold days of running in Fort McMurray and decided to just embrace it.
We kept a good pace as we approached the Alfred Savage Centre to head out to Whitemud Park. We passed a few runners and I noticed everyone had the ice/snow frozen to their face. I’m sure I looked quite funny as well.
We thought it would be a good strategy to take turns leading, so I moved out front to do my part. Andrew decided to do stairs and leg weights leading up to the race, so he didn’t lead very much, although he was a trooper. When we got to the turn around point, Darren regained the front of the pack and never looked back! Our pace was still pretty good and I was happy that my legs felt good and energy was still up to par.
Due to the cold weather, carrying water wasn’t feasible, so we took a short water break as we passed the Alfred Savage Centre the second time around. By now, we were about 8km into the race and I was monitoring my fatigue. I finally started to feel a little bit of soreness in my calves, but I wasn’t worried, all systems good. I noticed we were all alone and it would remain this way for the remainder of the run.
In my mind, the toughest stretch of the race was running through Hawrelak Park towards Emily Murphy Park and back. This is a long boring stretch where the snow wasn’t packed down very well. Also, I knew this is where my legs would start to give out. Luckily, we kept a good pace and got to Emily Murphy in good time and shape. We were about to continue towards the turn around point that was supposedly in the parking lot, but someone yelled at us to turn around at an aid station.
At the aid station, I managed to drink a bit of frozen Pepsi and we wasted no time in turning back to Laurier Heights. Little did I know that we were technically cutting the course short by not turning around at the true turn around point. We trusted the people who told us to turn around, and off we went. This resulted in us only running 24.3 km instead of 25km.
Finally at around 19km, my legs started to felt tired. I was happy to know my training and fitness has held me up, despite weighing over 200lbs still. I’m going to make it!
Darren was still in control of the pace and Andrew started to pick it up as well. That forced me to dig deep and try to keep up. Now, the sun was shining and my hands were getting hot. The next 5km would be the tougher but very tolerable. It was exciting to know that we breezed through this 25km, one of my longest runs in the past few years.
As we climbed up the final switch back hill, my fatigue hit its toughest point of the day. I didn’t feel like running anymore, but I still had enough power to push for a strong last kilometer. We had to finish as a team, so I surged to the front and made sure I wasn’t slowing down the team. I kept a close eye on my watch to see how far we were in. It appeared that we weren’t going to get 25km, but we were close.
I figured that they didn’t measure the course properly, and we came into the finish and noted our time of 2 hrs 8 minutes. I was pretty happy with that time given the cold and snow trail conditions.
We went to Second Cup afterwards and celebrated our solid run. Good times! Winter training is off to a good start.