Posted by: Karen | September 10, 2006

Moose Mountain – 16k Details

I picked up Dawn bright and early and we got to the race a good 90 minutes before the start. I wanted to make sure I had time to get lost, pick up my race packet, eat a snack and apply sunscreen, etc. We didn’t get lost, and everything else happened as planned in that regard. I ate a peanut butter, nutella and banana sandwich at about 10:15.

Heck, I even had time to visit. I greeted a nice german woman, who’s husband was already racing in the 29k that had started earlier. Calgary Roadrunner Karin G. (who has german relations) showed up and I introduced them. I said hi to a couple of Gregs and David. We met a couple from Scotland, as well.  Dawn and I chatted about how long I expected to be, and I said “Oh, a couple of hours, maybe.” 

Dawn took this photo aOff we go!s we started off. I’m the one framed by the two ladies in leggings at the back. I was already too hot for a t-shirt by the time we started.

The course started out nice and wide like this, but soon shrank to single track and snaked up and down over roller coaster terrain that Dawn likes to call “dippity do”.  It continued like this in shady trees on the north side of the slope for the first 4 miles or so. The trail was dry dirt pounded down with rocks and roots sticking out of it. It hadn’t rained much lately, but you could smell the sweet moist mustiness of the late-summer forest.

I trotted along with my usual trail strategy: keep a fair clip on the rare flat bits, walk up steep hills, and run as much as I could on the rest.

I was on my own after the start, except for the two leggings ladies. For the first 15 minutes, they discussed how terrible a head cold was making one of them feel. Finally head-cold-girl convinced her friend to leave her, and decided to walk back. The healthy one then promptly passed me and I was left to my own thoughts.

Shortly after that I caught up to Amy, who was very steadily managing the same uphill speed as her downhill. How do folks do that? Very admirable, and probably safer than my sporadic method. I leap frogged with her for awhile. 

Another Roadrunner, Karen Ch., showed up from nowhere behind me around the same time. I chided her gently for coming late (as she often does), by asking her how much of a head-start she gave me this time. She smiled and said “I don’t know – we’ll have to see at the end!” It’s kind of fun when Karen Ch. starts late. It’s the only time I get to see her racing on the course.

My watch beeped at 40 minutes and I thought of Liz. I didn’t think I could do the whole race thinking of Liz – the race is too technical, but for that moment I gave Liz some of my steps. I took a drink of my Ultima, looked forward to breaking for a gel at 50 minutes, and tried to keep up with Amy.

Eight minutes later, as I was heading down one of the last rolling, shady, rocky, rooty dippities, I lost my balance on one of my bounds. I found myself hurling through more space than I’d intended. I landed awkwardly very hard on my right foot, which happened to be under an outstretched, locked straight knee (note to self: BEND). I remember hoping desperately that it would not bend in an unnatural way. I felt lots of conflicting pulls as I landed on the locked leg, but nothing snapped, or felt like it tore.

I have images of the rest of me sailing OVER the locked knee and then my memory cuts to me rolling on my back in soft dirt at the side of the trail with knees up. Somewhere in there I lightly scraped my left knee, but nothing else. By some miracle I avoided landing on rocks. My hands only got a little dirty and aren’t bruised. Elbows didn’t even touch the ground.

As I was on the ground, on my back, still rolling, Amy, who was ahead of me on her way up out of the dip shouted to me “Oh! Are you okay!” I realized I was not bleeding or broken and shouted back “Yup, I’m fine! Go ahead!” I could always hop out one one leg if I had to…

It shook me up, but I was back up and walking within the same minute. I sucked up my chocolate powergel and then ran gingerly and sporadically between long walk breaks.  Thank goodness we were now on the Homestead Flats, a series of sunny, small, pretty flat meadows. There was still some elevation to gain, but not so much rocky roller-coaster.

Within about 10 minutes I’d just about caught up to Amy again. She left the half-way point water station just as I was getting there. Even though I was kind of injured, the rest of me was still high on adrenaline and I was still excited to be racing. I drank a couple of cups of water, had them fill up my half-empty bottle, and carried on.

I realized that eventually that the adrenaline might not carry me the whole second hour, so I took the two Advil I’d stashed in my pouch earlier. My confidence was still a little shaky and the bravado I was putting on took a lot of energy. For the next 30 minutes or so I’d try running in short bursts, a little longer at a time. I went over some boggy bits, but it was mostly just soft, grassy dirt. I avoided the muckier areas, not wanting to have to balance any more than I needed to. I did splash in one or two small puddles, just for fun.

I was alone for this; of course I had no hopes of keeping up to Amy now. And yet, there she was, coming into view ahead of me. A cyclist came up behind me at the same time, and we exchanged pleasantries. He reached Amy before me, and gave her some water from his camelback. She wasn’t carrying anything.

I breezed by, offering her some of my drink, or a gel, but she just waved me on. She had crashed. She was just going to walk it in. Alrighty then.

The last half hour of my race was very encouraging. Maybe it was the long, sandy, ever-so-gently descending meadow paths. Maybe it was the warm, cheery sunshine. Maybe it was the delightfully assertive breeze lifting the heat and tiredness from me. Maybe the Advil had kicked in.

Two km before the finish there was a creek crossing.Here I come! There were rocks strategically placed so that I could have walked across dry, but I just walked right into the clear cool water. I stopped for a moment to cool my feet and calves, and rinse my dirty, sticky hands. Aaaahhh. I looked up across the stream to see a volunteer grinning at me and pointing the way home. Thanks, Roger!

The rest of the way back was a rolling gravel road. I ran it. I knew I could, and the knee didn’t have any problems running on the even surface. I worked to get the heart rate going as fast as I could maintain to the finish. Keep going. One foot, other foot. Onefoot-onefoot-onefoot-onefoot…

There’s DAWN! Woohoo! She snapped a couple of photos and then hightailed it back to the clock.Steady goes it... I crossed the line in 2:08 ish. I was happy for the chance to have run for a couple of hours on a mountain. There were other Roadrunners happily munching around the food table, and they cheered belatedly Go Karen Go! I looked at the other two Roadrunners with my same name and happily cheered back Go Karin Go! Go Karen (Ch) Go! Dawn handed me a chocolate cookie, yum.

Karen Ch had fallen, too, and was sporting three bandages. A big one on her knee, and one more on each elbow. The heels of her palms were bruised and sore with embedded grit. She was going to see about stitches for one of the elbows.

I kept moving, because I knew my knee would not be happy once I stopped. We went and listened to the awards. I had some soup while wandering around. I sat in the cold mountain stream to cool my muscles. Gotta love streams.Legs? Meet Stream. Ahhhh, Streeeeeam...

Dawn and I packed up and we talked all the way home. You’ll have to go read her behind-the-scenes account later, when it’s up. It’s comforting to have a buddy along to a trail race. If something worse had happened and I couldn’t drive, she would have brought me home.

After I got home and showered, I poured myself a glass of my darling husband’s homemade peach wine and propped my ice-packed knee up on a pillow. I worked on a nice, safe sudoku puzzle with a nice, quiet t.v. show about Canada’s Greatest Ride playing in the background. Hubby had been out buying supplies for our new deck, but came home shortly with a Peanut Buster Parfait for me. What a sweetie.



  1. […] I waited and checked my watch hoping Karen would be along soon. Finally I spotted her and “Yahoo’d”. She yelled back. I snapped a few photos and headed back towards the finish so I could get her final photo. You might want to pop over and read her race report for how it was out on the trails. […]

  2. Heh, they put it up. Your picture with links both here and to my site are this week’s Photo of the Week. Congrats on this and a great race!

  3. Congrats on a great race – it sounds like fun. Your picture on Complete Running looks good, too!

  4. Congrats again on the great race, Karen. A tough tumble to take but it sounds like you are healing. Rough country out there.

  5. 16k? And how far of it did you run AFTER falling? Wow.
    I really love the pic of you sitting in the stream. Glad there’s no visible blood!
    You know, I really liked that peach wine of your husband’s. Have another glass! 🙂

  6. I showed up for promised belly tires…there are no tires..LIAR. Your fall sounds scary. you canadians are brave.

  7. […] Due to the scarcity of my June and July long runs, I won’t be tackling the 29 km distance over Moose Mountain, as originally planned. I do, however, look forward to gleefully bounding around the Telephone Loop 16 km portion once again. […]


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