Run for Water: 25K Trail Race

May 27, 2017

My 2nd 25K trail race, a local race, directed by friends!

This race fell only 20 days after the BMO Vancouver Marathon, which was my 1st A-race of the season. I probably highly underestimated how much that would take out of me and how much I’d still be recovering from it at this point.

However, Run for Water was a fabulous race. Super close to home, I was familiar with roughly 50% of the course although while running it, I was surprised to see many sections I didn’t recognize!

I arrived at package pickup crazy early. But it was nice. I got to wander around, warm up a little, get my bearings. And the weather was beautiful. It was fresh and gorgeous in the morning, cool but not uncomfortably cool. It was lovely.

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At the 8am starting line, I hugged out the pre-race jitters, wished my friends good luck and set off running.

The beginning of the race was beautiful flowy singletrack and the sun peeking through the branches turned the forst into a golden green dream.

Despite the beauty, I struggled on those first few km (and to be honest, the entire course!!). For starters, my right foot kept going numb, worse on the uphill, and it felt heavy and sloppy and insensitive on the downhill due to the numbness. I had to pause multiple times to readjust my shoe, which ultimately wasn’t the problem.

Eventually I somewhat settled into the race and found my place, passing a few runners here and there, who would then pass me on the uphill again, meeting new people along the way and enjoying happy conversation whenever I had enough breath left to talk!

The first 8ish km were moderately hilly, quite undulating, and I started to warm up and it got a little easier, just in time for all the big climbs!! Rock Diva was a doozy – quite steep. It was starting to get really hot out – probably nearing 30 degrees, heat we were not at all accustomed to yet. At one point I wondered why my hands were so stiff and realized that I had little sausage fingers… they were becoming quite swollen.

Eventually we ended up at Chadsey Lake which is near the top of the mountain… but not quite, because after running on technical ground around the lake – lots of roots to step over, the trail started climbing again!

The second half of the course was definitely harder than the first half and it seemed to climb forever, and then even when we weren’t climbing there were many roots and rocks to run over and the trail was quite technical. Around km 20, we finished all the major climbing for the race and started downhill. However, the sun and heat had drained me of energy so that even the downhill became challenging and I worried about meeting my goal!

But then I stopped worrying about my pace and put it all in perspective, thinking about those who inspire me to run further, faster and up higher mountains! As a palliative care nurse, my patients are the fraction of cancer patients with intractable symptoms such as pain, who require large doses of narcotics just to turn in bed or hobble to the toilet and most will never experience the joy of a run or even walk freely again.

So no mater how much I struggled on this course, my struggle will never be as hard as theirs! It may be hard but I am healthy and strong and my running is an expression of the great depth of health and wellness and inner strength within me!

So, I found my groove on Emma Peel (one of my favourite trails) and dug deep and pushed through, crossing that finish line with a burst of speed, just under the 4 hour mark. I finished just 6 seconds shy of 4hrs! Talk about cutting it close!!!

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Beer beer beer had become a resounding chorus in my head for the last 5k of the race for sure, and one of my favourite local breweries – Fieldhouse Brewing Co, was providing the finish line beers.

I’d passed a friend doing the 10k a few kms before the finish line so even though that beer was calling my name, I waited til she finished not long after me, so that we could have a drink together!

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I ended up spending several hours at the finish line hanging out with my friends… drinking beer, and just relaxing. So ultimately it was a wonderful day and a wonderful race. And I placed 6th female overall (out of not that many but still!!), and beat my previous 25K time, so I was satisfied with it in the end.

Overall, I loved the race. I ran with friends for most of it. The course is absolutely gorgeous and Sumas Mountain has stunning views from the top of Emma Peel – the last section of trail we ran down to the finish line. That trail is probably one of my favourite trails to run in the valley so I still really appreciated it.

However, there were a few really disappointing parts of this race for me personally in that I really struggled on the very runable sections and the downhill even which is an area that to date I’ve not had trouble with. My nutrition and hydration had been excellent through the race, but I could not get my respirations or my heart rate under control. Usually they both spike initially at the beginning of a race/run but then settle into a rapid but more comfortable rate, but today I felt that my heart just kept racing faster and faster to the point that nurse in me started to get really worried actually. That extremely rapid heart rate throughout the race drained my energy levels and made everything seem so much more effortful – like stepping over rocks and roots on flat sections!

It may have been the heat, or just generally being tired and fatigued, or something else. Not sure. But it was super crappy and seriously impacted my performance!

So, As I’m still so new to this whole racing/trail running business, I learned a few important lessons again.

  1. Don’t book a really tough trail race barely 3 weeks after an A-race, especially a road race that wrecks your body so much more!!!!
  2. Still need to do more hill repeats!!!! Embrace the climb!!!
  3. Stretching!!! Foam rolling!!! Yoga!!! I think my foot keeps going numb because of tightness in a muscle or joint potentially impinging on a nerve. Not good. But something that should be corrected with stretching and rolling and such.
  4. Nutrition outside the race itself is super important (I think I’d not been eating the healthiest or the best for the couple weeks after BMO) and that impacts performance also.
  5. Running in the heat sucks. Heat training??!! Squamish is gonna be hoooooottttt!!

Fun fact… this weekend was my first ever back to back long run weekend and I ran the whole 25k Run for Water course again on Sunday with some girlfriends to deflag the course. It was a much slower pace and a bit of a sufferfest at the beginning as it was another early start and my legs were definitely tired from racing the previous day… but so lovely to do it with friends again and enjoy the views a little more than the day before. We even stopped up at Chadsey Lake near the top to dip in the water for a few minutes too to cool down. It was great fun and the post run beer and grilled cheese at Fieldhouse Brewing Co was THE BEST and so well deserved!!!!

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