Posted by: Karen | March 9, 2008

Fish Creek XC Race Report

A lot of times in my workouts I make little deals with myself to push a little harder. Thursday I told myself that if I ran 6 hills instead of the usual 5, I could take it easy on race day Saturday. The term “take it easy” didn’t give me an excuse to lollygag, it just meant I didn’t have to run on the edge of my perceived limits the whole way.

This one was also the most technical course I’ve done since maybe 12 Mile Coulee ’06. Technical, meaning tricky footing, involving serious focus on balance and “where- the- heck- am- I- gonna- put- my- feet- next” planning. The ice wasn’t as much a problem as the shifty slush on top of it through the single track paths on the north slopes. This was a bring-your-brains race, and you had to use them to keep them where they belong.

I had left my Yaktrax in the car (couldn’t find ’em before, found them afterwards), but I think they would only have been of minimal help on that stuff. Others I ran alongside were complaining their trail spikes weren’t long enough. The good thing about the slippery parts was that I had a great excuse to slow down and catch my breath as I picked my way through. The course was well marked. Every time I had a chance to look ahead I could see flags showing me the way.

The hills seemed monstrous. 15 minutes into the race, at the top of the first climb, my legs were screaming at me, but I told them to shut up and that we’d be fine in 5 more minutes. 45 minutes later when I climbed it a second time (double loop, more than one of these monsters) I had to tell myself the same thing. Up and down, slush and muck, mud and steep nasty hills. The puddles weren’t as big as last year, but there was enough mud to make up for it.

I kept myself going with a couple of songs I’d been listening to on Youtube that morning; The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Silly, I know, but the “Owimoway”s held a good cadence). By about 50 minutes I had managed to change the song in my mind to Build Me Up Buttercup which made me think of Nancy and her bike.

On my second trot through the valley (I’d been running about an hour by then) my muscles finally stopped complaining. Either that or they went numb. Whatever. I caught up to Dawn on the last climb and pushed her up it before we finished together.

One of the fun things about the Calgary Roadrunners Grand Prix XC series is that it’s never the same race twice. This race (8.8k with massive hills) took me over half an hour longer (at 1:16:39) than the last XC two weeks ago (7k with gentle knolls, at 44:12). We meet at the same parks, with many of the same people, but the weather and the terrain change every year, and often the courses change to accommodate the conditions.

Well, that’s it for this year’s series. Now I have to keep myself in shape until we can begin it all again next fall.



  1. Good job Karen!! Fish Creek was my fav this year, nice and technical to keep your mind occupied, lots of mud to have fun getting dirty đŸ™‚ and no big ice puddle this year to dread on the second loop. Great job on another Iron Person award, this will be my first one.

  2. Congrats Karen! Sounds like a tough race, and you killed it. Great job!

  3. I wish we had XC races like that around here. Good job!:lol:


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