How do I start this race recap? I don’t know whose idea it was to end a half marathon with a two mile mountain climb, but it certainly wasn’t fun. Ha ha! Over the weekend Cat and I ran in the Rocky Mountain Soap Canmore Women’s Half Marathon. For me, this marked the halfway point of my marathon training and gave me a chance to see where my fitness level was at. And while the website did say this course was more like a trail running course, I was unprepared for the terrain.
This race starts and ends at Canmore Nordic Centre, a beautiful location tucked amongst the mountains.
The first mile was hard for me because it started off hilly right away. The terrain was asphalt which was nice, but my bad calf/achilles tendon took a mile to warm up so the up and down slowed me up and I was in the back of the pack almost right away.
I must have looked crazy to the other runners because I am very good at leaning into downhills and letting gravity take me. There were a couple of steep downhills where I was practically sprinting only to stop immediately and walk up.
At Mile 3, I caught up to Cat who had stopped for a pee break and she and I ran my favourite part together- the downhill part! It was about a mile and half along the main road at a steady downhill pace. While chugging along at this stretch I felt like a rock start! In my head I was like “this is what real runners feel like.” My legs were given ‘er. I was breathing steadily, life was good.
And then at mile 4-ish, we started to head uphill again. And feeling like a badass went away.
So miles 5-8 were actually my best chunk of the run and I attribute that to one single thing- Espresso Gu Energy Gel. I actually had two of them, but one fell out while running downhill. At mile 5 I ate one and within minutes was I ever boosted!
I experienced a flow state for probably the second time in my life of long distance running. We were on a road, running at a slight incline and it was like my legs were moving on their own. It was fascinating. I felt like I was putting in no effort and yet my legs were just chugging along all on their own. It was truly amazing.
By mile 8 that flow was gone and I was back to dying. Part of this had to do with the change in terrain again. Instead of on the road, we were on a riverside walking path that had a lot of ups and downs. Then it was gravel. This was the part where I pushed myself physically. I did everything to distract myself and keep running. I was stopping to walk more and more frequently, so I would try to look out at the river, or pretend I lived in one of those riverside cabins I was running by. Anything to stay focused.
Around mile 9 things were flat so I just focused on chugging along despite the tight hips.
MILES 12- 13
And then the last two miles came up! Actually, I would say it was even closer to the last 2.5 miles- the way back up the mountain. I had done really well at pushing myself to shuffle along until we hit that hill. Then, it took everything I had to put one foot in front of the other.
What a slog! We started going up on a residential street then eventually transitioned to a single track dirt trail. It was hiking, at the very end of a half marathon. I laughed when I came to a spot on the trail with a super steep incline and just as I paused my music began playing “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips. I laughed out loud and told myself “Just hold on” and I made my way down the trail.
When I came around the corner to the last 200 metres of the course, I didn’t have anything left in me to even speed up and have a strong finish, so I slogged over.
But you know what? I was still happy with my race. I finished in 2:49. My first half, Seawheeze, was a flat Vancouver course and I ran that in 12:38. And I ran the Banff half in 2:45. So really, the Canmore half was waaaaay harder and I only ran a little bit slower.
All in all- I am VERY happy with how I did. This also has me feeling better about running in July at the Deseret News marathon because that course is almost all downhill. With no uphills to tackle, i should be able to run pretty good.
SIDENOTE: CANMORE IS AWESOME
On a quick side note, I think Canmore is my spirit town. Everywhere you go, the people are fit, outdoorsy looking folks. The trails were humming with runners, bikers, and walkers. There was a guy on roller skis givn’ er up one of the hills. It’s really a place that attracts fit, healthy, outdoorsy people. I may need to move.