Posted by: Karen | January 23, 2005

12 Mile Coulee 8k XC

Yesterday my husband dropped off Dawn and I in Tuscany, a newer neighborhood not far from mine, where we registered and then walked about a km to the race start. We donned our Yaktrax and visited with other racers while we waited for the race to begin. I never did see Yo-go at the start, but I had hoped she would make it. She (and PurpleGirl I think) are the Penguins’ only hope for an Ironperson (ALL the races) award this year.

It was a lovely day, a balmy 6C/43F and overcast with hardly any breeze. Despite the mild temperature, the crusty ice and snow wasn’t melting yet, which also boded well. Ice gets slipperier when there’s a slick melting layer on top. Sticky melting snow… it sticks to ice gear and weighs one down. I was feeling particularly light, with only one layer of leggings and a turtleneck, wooly mitts, light toque and ear warmers, in case a wind came up. I ditched my windbreaker by the timing table as the race started.

We started out on the top of a ridge and headed south on a fairly flat dual track prairie trail. There were some dips in it, and it gradually descended down into the coulee. Down 🙂 I like down.

Nancy and I ran together through the first loop, dipsy-doodling along a single track alongside a frozen creek bed at the bottom. The bottom course is kind of like a little roller coaster where you gain speed on little downs and try to get back up the other side before you run out of momentum. Sometimes it worked.

I was running well and tried to only walk on the big uphills. I didn’t really slip at all – it was a perfect course for the Yaktrax. Lots of hard, crunchy, not-too-slick stuff to dig into. We had to climb up a big, steep, lung-busting hill, run along the dual track we’d come along already, and then plunge back down in the coulee again for another jaunt on the bottom before hauling our butts back up another similar monster. Up on the dual track between the big hills I met the skinny-fasts already heading back on their second loop after their second hill.

I was working hard and feeling pretty good about it all until it finally sunk in somewhere in the middle of the second nasty hill that I had to *do it all over again*! And this time I wouldn’t have so much company. The girl in front of me turned off at the 4k option and behind me as I crested the second hill I heard Nancy bidding me good wishes – she was doing the 4k too. Right at this point the first skinny-fast racer lapped me – darn it, I thought I might make it before getting lapped today. I checked my watch – 29:43.

As Volunteers Barry and Nadine gave me the 8k-right, 4k-left option I muttered something about crazy masochism and headed right, back down the dual track. Doobie doobie down down down down dowwn, wa wa wa wa-ah… Yes, when I run alone there’s always a song in my head.

I met some more skinny-fasts coming back on the ridge between their hills and Jen held out her open hand with a “good work Karen!”. It was kind of cool getting to see the other faster racers twice at the top like that, without having to make room for them on the single track below. I cheered on the ones I knew and made mental notes to get to know a few more.

By this time I was quite warmed up, and pinned my mitts to my shirt. Once I got down off the ridge I stuffed my toque into the back of my leggings and wrapped my ear things around my arm. I didn’t do this lap quite as fast, but I carried on well, and was very, very happy to see the finish in about 1:01.

Yo-go had made it after all, had done her 4k and was there cheering me in. Yay!

We caught a ride to the hall with Karin and tucked into soup, sweets, and conversation.

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