Posted by: Karen | February 20, 2005

Weaselhead 8k XC

I woke up early yesterday morning, and even though my race wasn’t until noon, I breakfasted and had everything packed up and ready to go by 9:30.

“Everything” included cold weather gear, a change of clothes, water and a banana for Little Miss Princess too, as she was coming along.

“Everything” included my camera, correct change for my race fee ($7), my Yaktrax, mitts, fleece maple leaf hat, jacket, wind pants and jacket, full spare set of clothing including underwear and shoes, and brownies for the pot-luck table after the race.

“Everything” included money I owed a friend, my club registration cheque I’d forgotten to hand in two races before, pictures of my Tampa experience, and my 15k medal to show our running friends.

I was organized! I was enthused!
I was a ditz.

I had managed to get Princess into the van with HER backpack, pick up Dawn and her stuff, and then realized as we arrived at the race that I had left my running bag at home. Thank goodness that my organization had extended to arriving at the race an hour early! I quickly called my sweet, amazing husband, my knight in shining armour, who drove across the city to bring me my gear with 10 minutes to spare before the race.

Ah, what’s a day without a little drama!

Yaktrax on, mitts and favourite cold weather race hat donned, I even managed to snap a few pics of Penguins huddled together in the nasty wind at the race start. The temperature was only moderately cold, about -9C/16F, but the wind off the reservoir was blowing right through us.
Sylvie Yolanda Pam Dawn
Thanks for taking a pic with me in it, Sylvie!
We headed straight into the wind at the start, and it was a good kilometer of running in variable, sort of hard packed snow before we got to the trees. Within 5 minutes I couldn’t feel my knuckles, and wished for wind-proof mitt shells.

Once in the trees there were a few more random blasts of bone-chilling wind and then we settled into focusing our attention on the roller-coaster of hills winding westward. By about 10 minutes my core temperature warmed up and my torso began to slowly share it’s warmth with my extremeties.

I had been running with Nancy and before I knew it she was turning back at the 4k turn-off point. She’d been great behind me on the first few uphills. When I groaned, she chanted positive mantras “Stronger. Faster. Small Steps.” She was a big help in reminding me to be positive. In another way I was glad to see her go – I realized we’d been running at a punishing pace and now, alone, I could relax a little. Now that I was racing alone, I hauled out my camera a few times and snapped some occasional shots of the beautiful, treed path.
Part of the Rabbit Trail
Up, down, down, up, down, down… I met the first skinny-fast heading back at about 20 minutes – about standard for my pace. Within a minute I met 4 or 5 other guys with various stages of nosicles (nose icicles), trying to catch him. The air was chilly enough to freeze facial moisture, yet by now I was carrying my mitts, as my hands were hot and sweaty.

My calves were not very happy with me. When was the last time I had run hills, eh? They sounded like Mark’s Gretchen, “Vas is dis HILLS! You have not been training, you viny vimp! Ve are hurting you because you haf been running too much FLAT, hey? No more of dis! Up you go!”

I met up with a couple of early starters plugging along; Jim, who’s 35 years my senior and starts the 8k early so he doesn’t worry about keeping the volunteers out too long, and Derek, my coach’s hubby (and kind of my coach too), walking under doctor’s orders, due to recent eye surgery. As Derek saw me crest a hill with gasping lungs on wobbly legs, he took that precise moment of weakness to suggest maybe I should be coming out to the track for speedwork, hmm? Touch?!

After the volunteers at the loops I saw not a soul until the finish line. Lots of time to sop up the scenery and push myself along as well as I could.
Philippa makes sure I don't miss a turn
Down and around the first loop (ah, a flat stretch, how nice), then up and over a second loop, and I was back on the same path I’d come out on again. I have done this race what, 5 times in the last 5 years? and every single time it takes forEVER to finish.
Where IS everybody?
Up, down, up, up, down, up up up, down… I knew I was getting close, because the wind off the reservoir was blasting through the thinning wind-break of trees, making me put my mitts on again. Still I followed the rabbit trail, trying hard not to feel like the late, very, very late rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.

Finally, I emerged from the maze through the bushes and out onto the blustery, flat, finishing field. It was covered in 4 inches of sugary, variable-depth-and-hardness snow. Finishing on this field is like running through deep water in a dream. You can SEE the finish; it’s just so darned hard to GET there! I don’t think it was my fastest time, but it wasn’t my slowest, and I’d put in more than a good, solid hour of hard work. Yay! Done!

I chatted with Derek by the clock and discovered that even though he WALKED it, he still beat my time (guess who’s doing speed repeats this week). The last two 8k racers, Lloyd and Janet (father and daughter) came in, I cheered them in heartily, and we all headed towards the clubhouse.
Janet & Lloyd - Usually THEY beat ME

Princess daughter gave me a BIG hug. I changed out of my sweaty gear, and tucked into soup, goodies, and conversation.

I’ll try to put my pictures up tonight, when I’m back from snowshoeing. For now, it’s TO THE MOUNTAINS :)!



  1. Great race, Karen! I love the drama in your descriptions. And your rendition of Gretchen! 😀 I can’t believe you are going snowshoeing the next day. Wow!

  2. Sounds like the wind and the hills really made for a challenging race – great job!!

  3. haha! gretchen is a tough task master, no? great race report! good job on a hard race!

  4. Wow, you rock! You must feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment after you run in conditions like that. I’m such a wimp with temperatures and inclement weather– I admire you!

  5. Thanks everyone! I started the outdoor weather stuff out of desperation – I hate gyms and it’s cheaper and healthier to get outside. It’s really a matter of choosing to embrace my circumstances – I either whine and stay in or get crazy and have a bunch of fun in spite of or even because of the challenge. When I do it with other crazy people it even creates a “bonding experience”. Rewards > drawbacks!


%d bloggers like this: