The name of this snowshoe race says it all. If you want to snowshoe up and down hills, take note of this race for next year – you will get exactly what you asked for!
On Saturday my husband and I headed northward for another snowshoe race at The Ark. Once again there was a choice of a 5k or 10k race, this time taking advantage of every possible hill. If you have ever travelled north of Wakefield you know that the terrain is anything but flat. The race loop meandered through the woods with lots of significant elevations changes – which played a major part in my decision to treat this one as a more of a hike than a race. Since I had already done 3 runs totalling almost 40 km in the previous 6 days (including hill repeats!) I did not feel any need to push myself on this one. I know, excuses, excuses… but I am trying to remember that my main goal is to stay fit and injury free for the upcoming Prague Half Marathon.
There were close to 50 participants registered, many of whom didn’t seem to mind the idea of running the 5k course twice. I can tell you that there are also some serious snowshoers who participate at these events. These people are fast; I would love to know what kind of pace they run at when on a flat road. There is definitely not, however, any pressure to be fast. These events are for the challenge and the fun, and of course the beer and the food at the finish line. In truth, some of us (me!) may be there more for the food part than the challenge part.
If ever there was a time for me to just relax and not worry about timing, this was it. It was a perfect winter’s day and a beautiful scenic route. I am new to having to participate in a single track event and still find that a little stressful. I worry that I will be too slow for the person behind me or i will step on the snowshoes of the person in front. I positioned myself near the back though and very quickly had the trail to myself. If I was feeling competitive that would have been enough to panic me a bit. Let’s face it, the only time in a race that it is usually good to be all by yourself is if you are so far in the lead that you can’t see the rest of the pack. At least I assume that must be a good feeling, I have never actually experienced it. There just wasn’t one iota of competitiveness in me though. In fact, for the first time in ages I felt like I had a runner’s high (or runner’s zen as I like to call it) without the running part. Maybe it was a fresh air/gorgeous views/reasonable amount of excercise without killing myself type of high instead. I hadn’t had any beer yet so I can’t attribute it to alcohol!
But having a place to myself on a quiet wooded trail was magical. Sure I can do it any time on my own rural property, but it is much different when you are on trails you don’t know. The silence and the views at the tops of the hills were just beautiful. If it weren’t for the fear that a search party might come out for me I would have just stopped and plunked myself down in the snow to take it all in. But instead I continued on and ran when I felt like it (meaning the downhills) and walked when I wanted (meaning everything else). The only slightly stressful part was having to finish on a downhill. I had visions of me very unathletically falling and sliding down to the finish line. I made it down safely though and finished in about 1 hour and 5 minutes, 20th out of 25 runners. Yes, you read that right, it took me that long to finish 5 km and I honestly didn’t care And for the record – I was once again passed by the fast 10k finishers!
Once again the food was awesome – amazing lasagne, cookies, chips and of course beer and brownies. We didn’t walk away with any draw prizes this time but it was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. We are hoping to hit the next race on February 21, with a 5k course that is said to be flatter and faster. Maybe I will run a sub one hour!
Just in case this wasn’t enough for us we decided to mix up our running even more and head out Sunday morning for a practice orienteering run. Orienteering Ottawa put out an email noting that a few people would be meeting in Kanata to run part or all of an approximately 15 km long map run. We knew the boys were going through a little orienteering withdrawal, so off we went in -23 degree windchill to run a pretend course. Controls were labeled on the map for practice without actual controls being set up on the course. We left it to the kids as to how much of the map they wanted to complete, as well as how much running vs. walking would be done. In the end we “found” 13 controls and covered just over 7 km in about an hour. If you are interested in getting your kids to run, orienteering is definitely the way to go. Our boys had no idea they had covered such a distance, they were too intent on finding the next control. If it hadn’t have been so cold in the wind I think Evan could have kept going but we figured it was time to call it a day.
Running half marathons continues to be my favourite running event. But I have to say mixing in snowshoeing and orienteering is helping me mentally. I think I am in a bit of a rut in my training. I am getting the job done. In fact I am even a little ahead of my Running Room training schedule, but I’m not loving it at the moment, nor am i feeling particularly confident. It was great to take a weekend off so to speak and not specifically train but still be out running in one form or another. If you want to change up your running check out Mad Trapper Racing and Orienteering Ottawa for a change of pace.