I had a really good run the day of the Okotoks XC race, November 24. The coulee at the Strathcona Tweedsmuir School was dressed up beautifully with snow, but it was warm enough to enjoy it.
We ran the loop clockwise twice for the 8k. I started near the back as usual, and sorted out my place in the pack in the first kilometre.
The single track course through the trees was filled with a mix of crusty, hard-packed, and sugar snow, with occasional patches of ice. This terrain challenged our balance and resolve, but we hadn’t chosen to run trails because it’s easy.
Near the beginning I hopped in front of Yoshi, a trail newbie who’s been running with the marathon group. Half way through the first loop I settled in behind Roger, a world record track champion. Neato. He’s usually not within my reach, but today – did I mention I was running well? I passed him on the last ascent out of the coulee in the first loop, but he passed me back, up top on the flat.
We turned off for the second loop and around we went again. I like double loop trail race courses because I know what to expect in the second loop. Usually as a slower runner I’m without much company on the second loop, as most of the racers at my pace opt for the shorter distance.
This time I had company – really close, really motivating company! Yoshi was right behind me breathing hard, and we caught Roger again in the sugar. He stayed close though, and I knew if I didn’t kick it on the level, hard-packed ridge path he’d pass me back again. Those world champions are competitive, eh?
On the ridge we closed in on Mary, who usually is much faster than me, but maybe she’s recovering from something. I was on a roll, so I passed her too, and we headed down into the coulee. Whee! She passed me back and we hoofed it back up a steep hill on the other side to greet Kathy’s big camera lens at the top. I quipped “It’s Kathy! Quick, look like we’re running!” and we had a little chuckle before I passed Mary back again.
I was less cautious with the twists and turns on the back side this time and worked my way through the icy single track like a mouse through a familiar maze.
I got tired, sure, but I had competitors to hold off, and it made pushing myself hard more fun. I finished the race with a great whoop and high fived others as they came through.
We visited the timing table and headed into town for soup and dessert. The curried pumpkin soup was awesome, the brownies I brought to the pot luck table disappeared quickly, and it was fun hearing about others’ adventures.