Posted by: Karen | March 8, 2009

Last trail race of the 08/09 series

It was brutal. The wind howled, which made it feel much colder than the forecast high of 2°C. I’ve worn shorts at one other Fish Creek XC race, but not his year.

The terrain was a nasty, unpredictable combination of hard and soft, deep and shallow sugar/ice, which late in the race softened to the consistency of a snow cone. It was nearly impossible to know whether my next step would be soft or hard until I landed.

I made the most progress while trotting lightly on my toes, which was really hard for the first 20 minutes, because I couldn’t actually feel them. I tried to lean forward and keep my heels up, a trail running strategy I believe keeps me from tripping.

Thinking light, so as to stay on top of the snow

Thinking light, so as to stay on top of the snow

There one small bit of mud on the course, precariously perched on an unavoidable ledge. I could not even tackle the downhills with abandon, as it was hard to tell if I would end up on top or stuck knee-deep. The fear of hyper extending a lower extremity hampered my usual momentum.

The brutality of it all did not stop me from opting for the second loop of the race, because the weatherman was forecasting even more horrific conditions the next day (which have since come true). I wanted to do a 90 minute run this weekend for my peace of mind in training for a late-April half marathon. Since I was already out there, and the first loop had taken me over 40 minutes to complete, I might as well keep on going.

I was on my own much of the race, so I made sure my eyes scanned for course markers as well as terrain changes. There were a few stretches of time in which I was able to relax and just glide step by step, breath by breath, through my bubble of space.

I hate to say it, but I lapped Dawn 72 minutes into the race. I stuck with her as we climbed through the woods up the second last hill. When we came out on top we could see the finish. It was so tempting to just leave the last down-and-up of the course to cut across the top! Dawn’s sore leg was giving her trouble, so that’s what she chose. No shame in tending to injury. Better that she survives to run another day.

I hadn’t come that far into the second loop to be disqualified for it, so I gave her my best and carried on through the last part of the race. As I came around the bottom of the cliff I could hear Derek cheering me on from above. Les came down the hill part way and Dawn was there, telling me to sprint up the final hill. Yeah, right.

The hill was a monster! The photo below shows only a quarter of it.

Final Hill

Final Hill

I walked some of it at the bottom and the mustered a run towards the top. When I got to the finish line I made everyone laugh by crawling across it.

Crawling over the finish line

Crawling over the finish line

As always, our volunteers are very accommodating of all types of racers. Rob was kind enough to make sure I got my timing stick by holding it low enough for me to see it.

Done. All photos in this post except for the butt shot (by Dawn Henry) were taken by Kathy Taerum of the Calgary Roadrunners


All photos in this post (except for the butt shot by Dawn Henry) were taken by Kathy Taerum of the Calgary Roadrunners.

I was last. Yet, thanks to the magic of Age Groups, I was also second.  It was worth it.


  1. Congrat’s on a great finish, even if you were last and second! I see Derek still sports those fabulous colors too.

  2. Way to make last count. You could beat me every single time. I can’t believe you run cross country in those conditions.

  3. holy moly ya’ll are crazy pants!!


  4. That’s my girl! You come from hardy stock.

    Remember your Great Grandmother came from Northern Norway. She and my Grandpa raised fifteen children, during the depression, on the farm. Grandma sewed, knitted, even spun the yarn, and they grew a BIG garden, often cooking dinner for 25 people on Sundays. Imagine doing the Monday wash (the girls wore white dresses to church). I guess they all helped, eh? I know Aunt Pearl did, and she lived to be !00.

    That last picture of you is a hoot! I am proud of you.


  5. What a nice post from “Mom’!

    I adore the cup photos on the left here!

    Thank you for the post on my blog! The new header is about a month old. Time now for a new spring one!

    In the photo of the animal tracks, the print would have been a little bigger than my fist. Other’s seemed to think it may have been a cougar! The tracks were all over the place!

    Hope your training for the Police Half is going well!

  6. […] the 8k. I was thinking there can’t be too many of us left out here. Hmmm bet I get lapped by Karen on this […]


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