So, I sort of suck at trail running. I have only two gears; really, really slow and falling down. The latter I actually do quite quickly and with troubling regularity. But I am not prepared to give up on trail running. Instead I will continue to plod along – literally – and enjoy the ride. I would love to say I also get to enjoy the view but the fact is if I take my eyes off the rocks, roots, mud and fallen branches, I will simply fall down again.
This past Saturday was the Mad Trapper Transition Race at The Ark. In a real winter it would have been a snowshoe race (which, by the way, I also suck at), but in this bizarre mix of early spring/late fall weather there has not been any snow to talk of, so the snowshoes remain in storage.
One of my favourite things about Mad Trapper races is the fact that you choose your distance the morning of the race. I opted for the 10k race knowing I needed a long slow run for the week. Trust me, 10k at The Ark is a loooong run due to the constant elevation changes. Since it was a double loop course though, I knew there was an option to call it a day at 5k and get inside to enjoy some lasagna and brownies.
I was hit with a cold prior to the race and was not feeling my best. As soon as I started running I could tell that my breathing, heart rate and legs were all going to cause problems. I started towards the back and then let people pass. I still feel like a newbie at trail races, slightly (maybe more than slightly) intimidated by those fearless trail runners who charge along the hilly single track like it is a flat stretch of highway. The first couple of kms found me in a bit of a negative head space. Most of my mental conversations revolved around one question – why can’t I be a faster trail runner? Another form of that question popped up – why is everyone a faster trail runner than me? But, alone in the woods (which is what happens when you are slow, and is in my opinion an advantage of being slow), I started a different conversation. I was out there for me, for my fitness, for my happiness. I got out of bed despite not feeling well with a plan to run 10k. How long it took me to complete the goal was irrelevant, it just needed to be done. So while early in the race I considered stopping at 5k, I knew as I approached it that I would continue on. I was going to be last, there was no doubt about that, but I also knew I was going to finish what I set out to do. Once I changed the conversation in my head I was excited to take on the second loop. I hiked when I needed to and ran when I could and finished happy.
So how “last” was I? Only my husband was waiting for me at the finish line while everyone else was inside enjoying the awesome food that Mad Trapper races are famous for. Since this is a low-key, hand timed race, my time didn’t even make it on the results page :). I can tell you there would have been a time in my life when that would have mortified me. But then again there was a time in my life when just the idea of lining up at a start line of a small race would have been out of the question. Let’s face it, the big races offer some anonymity as a safety blanket. But I think I am too old for thinking like that now. I just want to be out there and hey, as long as there is a bit of food left at the finish line all is good! I even requested a prize for being in last place and proudly accepted it in front of all those faster runners! I could argue that the fact I wasn’t feeling well could have been part of my slow time. I’m sure if I hadn’t had a cold I would have shaved a few minutes of my time, which would have put me in… yep – last place. So I am owning that last place with a smile on my face and the knowledge that it will probably happen again.
To everyone out there who finished last (or even back of the pack) lately, here’s to us! And if you would like to have some company in that final position, why not join me at future Mad Trapper races – we’ll grab the last of the brownies together!
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