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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Winterstart Weekend 2011

After solving my stolen licence plate issue (6 voicemail messages, a business card, phone call with an office from the major crimes unit and a call first thing Friday morning to the original officer responsible for my "case" later, the bad guy was caught, but my plate is now evidence - trip to AMA solved the problem, as I now have a new plate) and getting caught up (a bit) at work, I left at 4pm, intent on having a fabulous weekend!

So happy to go to boot camp.  It was only one class that I missed, but it irks me that I had to miss it in the first place.  Anyway, it was Tabata Friday, and we really worked out.  HARD!  Left feeling great, although I did have to swing by the house to pick up Mr. Garmin before heading out to my favourite place in the world.  The WORLD!  Banff, Alberta, Canada or Heaven.

It had snowed on Friday and yet, shockingly (insert sarcastic tone here), everyone in the city of Calgary appeared to forget completely that is a normal occurrence for November in CANADA, and freaked out with over 350 accidents!  There were even rumours that the highway to Banff was closed (NOOOOOOOO!!!!) but it was dry and fine when I drove on it at 7pm, albeit one section that was a little wet and slick, but all us wise drivers slowed down accordingly.  No mayhem...odd that.

It didn't even really look like winter, as the actual "storm" was quite light (an inch of snow??) and it wasn't even that cold.  Well, not for a hardy Canadian like myself.   In the 20F range, but to me, as long as the sun was shining, and the mountains looked like postcard cut-outs, it was perfection.

Dear Lottery Gods:
I want to live here.  Forever.  See what you can do about, 'kay?!
Your Faithful, Patient Fan

After arriving and checking in, I met up with another running buddy Friday night at the Banff Avenue Brewing Company, I had a dinner of stout (their version of Guinness...not bad.  Best "copy" I've ever had, actually) and a salmon/veggie sandwich (only ate part of the bread) and green salad.  Then another friend showed up (she is staying the jealous), and we enjoyed a couple of pints and some laughs.  Walked back to our hotels (Banff is very walking friendly) but loved mine, as it's a block from "downtown".  C's was at the far end, and quite a walk after a pint (or two).  I know...I've stayed at practically every hotel in Banff at some point, and have walked the walk many, many times!  Drunk, sober, winter,'s all good.

Woke up Saturday, after shutting the alarm off at 8 (I am on "vacation" after all), and dozing off again at 9m, just after 10am.  Met up with C. and wandered over to Melissa's for a late breakfast.  Eggs, toast, shredded hash browns (it's before 3pm), bacon (small strip) and pancakes.  Trust me...this was lunch too!  Then we wandered about town, before meeting up with the rest of the gang who arrived that day for the race as well.  I'm pretty sure I knew at least 20-30 people running this 5-miler.  Such a great group of people to hang with!

Did nosh on a Guinness (the real stuff!) and some tuna "nachos"...basically sashimi tuna, with avocado and stuff on wonton "nacho" chips.  The good news is they were an appi, and it was a very small portion.  The bad news...wonton nachos!  aka deep fried.

After more laughter and frivolity, we split up to get ready for the race.  Seems our group was spread out over 5-6 different hotels in town! 

It was cool, with a bit of a breeze, but I was more worried about the walk back to my hotel after the race (I'll be wet from sweat then) than during the race.  I went with:
long pants
technical long-sleeved, tech T over top.  Lighter jacket over top that and a windbreaker shell over that.  Toque and gloves (which came off about 5 minutes into the race).  And tons of glow sticks.  It's not Winterstart 5-Miler without glow sticks!!

Pretty walk to the race start (about a km or so from my hotel).

It was very crowded, as there were 1,500 people registered to do this run (it sells out every year, but I think more so for what happens AFTER the race!).  Queuing up at the back, with M., S, MS and J., we shuffled our way to the start mat (it is chipped) and we were off!  Down the main road out of Banff (it is 7pm, and dark) for a mile and a half.  The lights end about halfway, and then all you see are blobs of glow sticks in various colours and reflective stripes dancing in the air in front of you.  So cool!  After the 1.5 mile mark, you hang a right, and then you get to run up hill.  For ONE MILE!  Deep breath in, and here we go.  I was really, really, really proud of myself, as I managed to get about halfway up before I walked (to the fast count of sixty) before running again.  After one more walk "break", I reached the turn-around point and connected with the gang (they were waiting to cheer me onwards and upwards...MS is a MACHINE on hills!), and then it's time to run DOWN.  I love, love, love running downhill.  Even in the dark, in the mountains, after a snow storm and on icy patches!  Smoked down that part.  Back onto the flat main drag, and the last 1.5 miles to go.  I was doing a good pace, although I did fall behind the ladies.  To which, echoing down the line came "Carol??"..."right behind you"...every 5 minutes or so.  J. decided to emulate Trainer Josh with a "Carol, Move IT!!"  The strangers running beside me said "are you Carol?", to perform!  I was all in the best of spirits, as I know my crew has my back!  Back into the lights of Banff, and then a sudden right turn for the finish line.  My time was 54:38, which is a good 4 minutes faster than last year.  Felt AWESOME!

Cheered some more across the finish line, waiting for the rest of our peeps to complete, before we head down for the best part of this race.  The beer party in the parking lot!!

Yes, all the runners end up downstairs, crowded into what is normally a hotel parking garage, where we get the usual post-race grub (oranges, bagels, water) and the not so normal BEER and cookies!  The beer was most delicious.  Much craziness abounds!!!

After much silliness, we made plans to meet up later, and took off to our respective hotels to clean up and head out.  Because I was about a km away at this point, and I was soaked to the skin, I ran back to mine!  Literally!  One couple yelled jokingly " you look great", to which I answered "have you seen the finish line?!"  It's a runner thing...I thought it was funny!!!

After a hot shower and changing into dry clothes, we were back at the Rose & Crown for more beer and some food, and then dancing.  Sadly the band was a heavy metal wannabe, but by the end of the evening, we didn't care.  I'm not much of a fan, but danced away or did my best "young street punk mosh pit attendee".

I know...too happy looking!

After shutting down the bar, and being ever so grateful for the daylight savings fall back, we all wandered back to our hotels to sleep.  Much needed, most glorious sleep!

Woke up with a bit of a headache (shocking) but nothing a gallon of coffee and some food wouldn't cure.  Then a bit more wandering in the beautiful, crisp fall mountain air, before returning to reality.   Boo...


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