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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mountain Retreat, day 3

Happy, shining faces, despite the early hour (that's me behind the flash...hehehe).
Our goal, after last year of almost not finding a parking spot and then feeling rushed, rushed, rushed, was to get to Banff by 8:30am. We both thought the race started at 10am, but M. thought it started at 10:30. Either way, we wanted to get there with enough time to park, grab a Starbuck's, chill, use a nice indoor bathroom, walk calmly to the start area and get our shirts in our size! The last few years, H. has always lost out to all the other mediums out there...what's the point of picking your size if they never have enough!?
I got up at 6:45, after not a bad night's sleep, but not the best. I can't quite describe it as tossing and turning, but I did not sleep the night through either. But I didn't feel too bad, so I must have rested at some point. After a breakfast of oatmeal cooked in milk with nutella and a banana, a glass of OJ and a quick cup of coffee, we gathered all our gear together and headed out. Takes about 20-25 minutes to get into Banff from where we were, and that's without having to wait at the park gates to pay for a day pass. Thank goodness for the annual pass!! We parked in my favourite place to park in Banff, a free 12-hour parkade. There was still plenty of room when we got there, just after 8:30.

We decided to walk over to the fairgrounds to get our shirts first. It was very busy, as many people leave picking up their packages till the very last minute. And here I thought it was crazy waiting till Friday night in Banff, which H. and I did, and got the hell out of there!! Anyway, we all got the shirts we wanted, which even though they aren't technical shirts, they are nice ones to wear on a crisp, fall day. And silk-screened with original, local artwork. Very nice.

2009 on the right, with the new one on the left.

After getting our shirts, we wandered back into Banff and braved the crowds at Starbucks to get a much needed dose of caffeine. And I do enjoy using an indoor bathroom at events like this. I don't do the porta-potty thing very well! Very weak stomach!!

Back to the grounds, stored our gear and waited...and waited...and waited. Yup...start time was 10:30.
And that was for the 10km group...all 2,879 of them! After the last straggler (many still lined up at the potties when the gun went off...good thing it's a chipped event!), we (1,125) queued up for our turn. This race is capped at 4,000 and sells out literally in hours. But really...running in this?! Can you blame us???
Since H. and M. were treating this as a training run (their marathon is in December) and I wanted to test my racing skills, we split up almost immediately at the start.
I can honestly say, and still say that today, that this was my BEST.RACE.EVER!!! I felt awesome...I felt strong...I felt like I could run all day. I placed myself between the 2:30 and 2:45 bunnies, which I lost sight of almost immediately, and just hit a stride. I decided that I would walk when I needed to, and only for 1 minute at most. Ran past the first water station, and down past Bow Falls to the golf course. It is a glorious hill down, and darn it, I love running down hill! Grabbed a water and a quick 30 second walk at the next water station, and watched as the front runners were looping OUT of the golf course towards the second half of the race. Yes, by the time I hit the 5km mark, the boys who won it were done over 11km and on their way to the finish line. I am still in awe...the guy who won it did it in 1:20. And he had to endure the same gale force winds the rest of us did. Who knows what his time would have been without the wind.
Oh, the wind...this is the third year I've done Melissa's 22km, and I don't recall there not being wind. But this year was downright nasty! There is nothing more unpleasant than running your hardest and being sand-blasted as you run past the sand traps on the golf course! Add pine needles and cones, and your patience is really being tested. But at least I no longer need microderm abrasion on that side of my face!
Once out of the golf course, you hit the first real hill (the one we ran down to get there, Bow Falls). It is quite steep, and again, I decided early on that I wouldn't kill myself on the hills and walked it, knowing I could do that faster than running it, while saving my energy. That seemed to really work for me this time around. After the hill, we then "run the gauntlet" so to speak...we have to double back to the fairgrounds and run past, up to the Cave & Basin area. But timing sucks, as most of the 10km runners are done, have had their munchies and are heading back into town, so it's like being a salmon swimming upstream! But this year the volunteers were quite awesome about getting everyone out of the way. Even had a cute guy give me a shout out but as usual, we were headed in opposite directions at the time! The other sucky part about this section of the race is you really run past the finish line, knowing you have another 7km to go! It is a mental kick in the pants!!
Walked up the hill into Cave & Basin, and then enjoyed the long sloping hill down, really picking up my speed again. Walked through another water station, hit the turn-around point, and told myself "only 4km to go!"...walked and ran a bit at this point, got over the last big hill and then opened 'er up for the end. Twenty-two full minutes off my time from last year. Ya-freaking-woo!!!!
Can you see the wind pushing the trees down behind them? The lady holding this tent in place actually broke her thumb with the force of the wind!!! That's what we got to run into most of the race! But with scenery like this...who cares?!

Did some stretching, cheered some others across the finish line and waited for H. and M., who came across looking as strong as they started. I wonder if M. ever stopped smiling!!

After some more stretching, a little food and watching the final runners come in, we grabbed our gear, threw it in our cars and headed to the Rose and Crown for lunch. Enjoyed an awesome lunch on the rooftop (yes, we climbed a whole bunch of stairs!), hoisted a couple of pints (well, I did anyway), and reveled in the sunshine. It was a glorious afternoon after a glorious run. A little wander around and some shopping (must.keep.moving), we got back in the car and went back to the condo to make dinner.
Tandoori chicken, ala Gobi (oh, please forgive my spelling!), a lentil curry, a chick-pea curry, naan, spinach and bulgar. H. is a good cooker!!!! After dinner, we drove back into Banff and enjoyed a well deserved soak in the hot springs. Ahhhhhh...
All in all, a great day.

1 comment:

H-woman said...

Pretty close with the spelling: aloo ghobi


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