Posted by: Karen | February 10, 2007

Snowy Splendor at Cross Country Race

When spiky little bushes have their branches swollen with snow, they look like sparkling white coral. I got to run past 8 km of God’s beautiful snowy tree art today at the Nose Hill Cross Country race.

I thought it was going to feel very cold out at -10C/14F, but there was no wind and the sun shone brightly up on the white plateau. I left my neck tube and even my jacket at the starting line. I still had on two long sleeved shirts, leggings under windpants, a fleece hat and mitts. My earmuffs rode along on my arm but I didn’t need them.

The 8 km route is a very challenging race, with 2 big hills and then a third that felt like a mountain to climb. I ran a little of the uphill, but on most of the reeeealy big ones I just hiked as fast as I could. As long as I was moving steadily forward, breathing fairly hard and the backs of my legs were burning, that was enough. I swang my arms for momentum and lung-expansion.

The first downhill stretch was steep enough to have me leaning back on my heels in the ankle-deep snow. The next two were slightly gentler descents, and I enjoyed just flo-o-owing down them.

After cresting the top of the second hill I caught my breath and was just starting to run again, when I saw Jason the volunteer cheering me on. Then he turned and cheered someone else on coming from the 4 km route – Dawn! We laughed and hugged in slow-motion, coming-thru-the-rye fashion, before carrying on through the route.

The snow underfoot today looked and felt like corn starch. It hid bumpy, icy paths, and I often found my feet going in different directions than I’d planned. Somehow I managed to keep my balance, though I can feel now which different body parts I used to keep myself upright, especially my ankles. 

Alan clapped me up the last part of the 3rd mountain. Hoo, cresting that hill was quite something. The volunteers seemed all happy and warm in the sunshine today. I chuckled as saw Rob S. making a snowangel as I went by. It was a great race to just BE in the moment. Happy, happy.

This course has the most exhilarating final stretch. The first up-hill of the race is quite the climb, but we get to run all the way back down it at the end. I never run as fast as when I’m running down that hill. What a rush! Wheeeeeeeeee! As we walked back to the hall, Karin G. and I agreed that the final hill is so fun, it makes you forget how hard you worked to get there; kind of like holding the baby after labour.

I managed to finish in a little over an hour – hooray!



  1. Karen, you are making me so jealous! You seem to really enjoy your runs and not be so serious about finishing first and I like that. Unlike you, I fear downhills because although I sometimes feel like you do, I am afraid my knees will buckle! I always feel rather meek and mild-mannered when it comes to running downhill. Maybe one day we can get together for a run but I can’t make any plans right now. Are you interested in 5peaks? I am seriously considering NOT doing a marathon this year and registering for 5 – 5peaks races instead, including Canmore in September. It’s just that I feel the ING Marathon in Edmonton will be so boring. I am determined to do the Avenue of the Giants in 2008 as my first marathon.

  2. I love the opening line — such imagery. And from your description and photos, it looks like a true winter wonderland. I’m almost jealous.

  3. Congratulations!! Love winter runs like that!


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