Training run = success!
The Rocky Mountain Soap Co.’s annual Women’s Walk & Run had a blue-sky day and soaring temperatures for this mountain trot through the woods. A perfect race weekend!
So excited that I managed to run 10K (surrounded by other people) and I didn’t die.
Top three things about this race:
1) the location (location, location)
2) the super nice, easy-going people (organizers, volunteers & runners)
3) the thoughtful touches, like cold aromatherapy towels post-race
Organization: I’d heard about the RMSC’s annual run in Canmore from a friend who’d run it last year and said it was a blast. The event – aimed at celebrating women and in support of the charity “Rethink Breast Cancer” – included 5K, 10K and half-marathon options and was a very open-arms approach to participants of all fitness levels, babies, strollers, etc. I hovered over the keyboard when the registration opened (January 1st!) and signed up right away. The Saturday races (May 23) sold out first, and quite a bit later, the Sunday races (May 24).
The registration process was smooth, and all my questions were answered personally by race organizers over email – nice touch. Package pick up was in both Calgary and Canmore leading up to the race, and then on site the morning of, which was very helpful for us out-of-towners.
Being at the Canmore Nordic Centre, I had confidence in the venue and set up. The sound system was a little squawky at first (during the warm up session my husband complained that even his “heavy metal ears are bleeding”) but it got sorted out fast enough.
The expo had the most I’d ever seen at a run, with a variety of vendors and charity groups. Happy to see the 5 Peaks crew on hand, and they even gave me an awesome cup. After the warm up, we had a chat about mountain animal safety and then boom! Off went the half-marathon runners, quickly followed by the 10Kers – all pretty much on time.
I truly think my only organizational observation on the down-side would be that the aid stations had trouble keeping up with water for the runners. The first aid station was only a few km into the race and there was a bottleneck of runners waiting for water to be poured (keeping in mind the half-mara runners had already gone through, along with many of the 10K runners). Ditto with the second table. The third one was the best in keeping up to the hefty demand of thirsty runners. The volunteers were working as fast as they could – I don’t think they realized how many ladies would be stopping for water…the energy drink provided was not as popular.
After the race, each participant received a delightful cool aromatherapy towel, and a gift bag from the Rocky Mountain Soap Co. full of product! Wow – so thoughtful! The post-race snacks were fruit and Honey Stinger organic waffles, and then inside the Nordic Centre was a buffet of penne and pasta sauces (veg options available), plus a leafy salad and bread sticks.
Course: The 10K track was a double 5K loop with a sufficient number of hills for both testing your mettle and active recovery. It was all on the wide paved paths on the Nordic Centre grounds, hence one of the reasons we didn’t need to carry bear spray in this race. The half marathon runners used the 10K course plus were out running along the road up to the centre – a long, hot slog. Much admiration for those ladies!
My run: My husband came out to the mountains for my race, and it was really, really special to have him there. We actually went into Banff rather than Canmore for our overnight, and stayed downtown at Brewster’s Mountain Lodge. We started the day with a visit to the Wild Flour bakery where I snarfed down a ginger blueberry muffin and a cappuccino. I’d had a banana earlier as well, and sipped my Energy&Endurance leading up to race time.
Out of tradition, I positioned myself near the back of the racers to start. My goal for this race was to be a training run for my half marathons a few months away. Saturdays are typically my “long run” days and even though the training schedule only called for about 6K, the timing was awesome for this weekend. My “easy run” pace on the treadmill is about 13:20 min per mile. I was hoping to maintain that and get ‘er done.
Right off the bat, I could see there were little rolling hills on this course, plus a long slow descent/ascent thrown in for good measure. Last year, my tactic with hills was to walk up and run down. This year, I’m trying to train a bit on hills, so the new method is to keep running (read: teeny jogging micro-steps) up, crest & push through keeping pace, and then letting gravity pull me down. Sounds reasonable, right?
For my first five kilometers, I hung in there always running, but on that second loop, I started to throw in some power walking, especially on that long slow hill in the middle of the course. I was pretty much sucking wind really hard the whole race, but managed to keep moving, and totally surprised to see that my pace was not my usual 13:20 but rather moving between 10:42 and 12:45 min per mile, depending. That’s a big deal for me.
In the end, I came in at 1:16 hrs on my Nike running watch. Very happy with the time, as it’s a benchmark and I can’t wait to work on improving!
Would I do the RMSC women’s run again? Well, since my latest thing is to use running as an excuse to travel and/or get to the mountains, then YES, I would do this one again. May is a great month for me to get back into outdoor races, and I can see this one being a regular.