Race day started very early, as my running buddy and I hitched a ride out with volunteers who met in Bragg Creek at 6:30 a.m. His race (29 km up & down Moose Mountain) started at 8:30. I snapped a few pictures as Race Director Jen sent 50 marathon and 29k racers off on their adventure.
My 16k loop didn’t start until 11, so I rested and chatted with volunteers and other racers until then. I connected with a woman about my age, who hadn’t done this course or much trail running in general. I described the course to her, and upon hearing her usual 10k time, told her I’d be right behind her all the way. We laughed together, but I was mostly right.
I started off at a steady, very manageable pace on the first two kilometers of rolling dirt road. Most of the racers went ahead and I just let them go. I know my pace and am confident in it.
Once I got to the single track my trail legs woke up. Trail legs are kind of like sea legs. Once they learn how to flow over the terrain it’s easier to keep upright momentum.
My steady pace reeled in about three people in the third kilometer. Around then I decided that my mantra would be “stay focused”. This meant just keeping my attention on the path right in front of me – no thinking about other racers or bears unless they were in my way or I was in theirs.
I thought the roller coaster hills at the end would suck big time like they had when I ran the route six weeks ago, but I hiked the steepest ups and actually felt stronger on the descents and puddle-jumping in the last 40 minutes. Yes, there was mud. My shoes and legs got a spa treatment 🙂
I passed three more people and managed to stay ahead of one close behind me, but I tried to just keep running MY race, not in comparison to theirs. One of those I passed was the new connection I’d made before the race. I cheered her on to keep up. Keeping my focus was difficult, but good. I didn’t trip, and I didn’t run out of energy to finish well.
For the first time in years, it actually felt like I had trained well for a race. Yeeha!
I had hoped for a time around 2:10 and was happy to finish in 2:08. Friends cheered me in and I cheered in others. I felt pretty good afterwards but likely will be stiff by Monday. My running buddy finished his race in around 3:53 and was pleased but achy.
We warmed our rears on somebody’s truck tail gate while we refueled with veggie soup, chips, and cookies. Friends shared their race stories and we cheered in marathoners while waiting for our ride to come back down from the aid stations on the mountain.