September is now in full swing but I am still reminiscing about my amazing summer. Hikes and orienteering in Alberta, kayaking on the lake at our Quebec Cabin, and hardly a run on pavement to be had. But just because I wasn’t on pavement doesn’t mean I wasn’t running. This was a summer of trails for me, particularly in August. After running the MEC Camp Fortune race, followed by the i2P 50k race in Gatineau Park, I finished the summer race season with the Mad Trapper’s Power in Pink Trail Race.
Like all Mad Trapper races, this was a low-key event in that there were no medals, no official timing company and no pressure to “race”. It was, however, a fundraiser to raise funds for the Princess Margaret Hospital and cancer research. It was also a women’s only event – and noteworthy that many of the women were new to trail running. Race options were a 3k hike, a 5k loop or – my choice – a double loop for the 10. Runners would be met by three handsome guys serving mimosas. O.k, I’m biased but come on, they all look good in bow ties, don’t they?
Race director Mike Caldwell gathered participants together to go through logistics and to encourage shout outs to the race sponsors, Bushtukah (did I mention great prizes?) , Bytown Catering (yes, there was a full lunch provided!) and Salomon shoes (free shoe trial anyone?). The biggest shout out was for Trish, Mike’s friend, cancer survivor and inspiration for the race. Best wishes from all participants were sent out via video as Trish recovers from surgery. (You continue to inspire, Trish!!!)
With that, we were off. I think I am safe in saying there were more than a few shocked women when they saw just how a Mad Trapper race starts. If you need some flat ground to warm up on, sure – no problem. Will about a 100 metres do you? Because after that my road running friends you start going up a single track technical trail. I’ve done this hill several times and to be honest it kills me EVERY time. I sort of breathed a sigh of relief when everyone ahead decided to walk it; it actually meant I did not feel light-headed or ready to puke by the time I was 500 metres into the race!
I am hoping some of the first time Mad Trappers or trail runners are reading this because I do want to give you some words of encouragement. If during your race you thought, “This is (insert your own swear word here) crazy and I can never do this again”, you are only half right. It is ($%*#ing) crazy but you CAN do it again. As you have probably already learned, you simply have to adjust your expectations. Walk when you need to, let your pride go and pull over to the side when you hear, perhaps repeatedly, “Passing on the left”. Focus on the fact that you were running this:
Seriously, your body can do that? How awesome is that??? What, you had to hike parts? You thought about crawling? You considered taking up knitting as a hobby rather than running? Who cares! You were seriously amazing out there, wear that Power in Pink shirt with pride.
As for my run, I actually felt amazing for the first loop. I even felt kind of fast. When I checked my Garmin it dispelled that idea pretty quickly but I was totally enjoying the run and was happy to head out for the second loop. There were only a few women who chose to do the 10k so I was out there on my own (not at the front, sadly). I often end up somewhere near or at the back at Mad Trapper races and have become quite used to having the woods to myself. However, once on my own I don’t necessarily watch my route as carefully as I should. So I was more than a little surprised (but probably shouldn’t have been) to realize after about 2k that I was about to run through the horse paddock – the same horse paddock that was at the start of the 5k loop and would lead me back to the finish, though from the wrong direction. Prior to the race we were told we women were smarter than men; we would be able to stay on the leaf blown trails. Yeah, apparently I blew that one. I ran to the start/finish line, reported in and said I would be a while, I was going to head out to try the 5k loop again. Little did I know that if I had only backtracked a short distance when I was approaching the horse paddock I could have quickly fixed my mistake. Instead I started again, meaning I climbed that stupid (insert another swear word here) starting hill that I hate so much for the THIRD time. And needless to say, by adding another 2k onto the 10k race I was last. Really last. Last as in everyone had had their lunches and the auction bidding had been done. But I still got my mimosa, my lunch and, always the best part of a Mad Trapper race, my brownies. So it was sort of a lose/win/win/win situation 🙂
Hope to see some of you at the next Mad Trapper race on October 15th. And if you found the trail running relatively easy, I dare you to come out and try the snowshoe races this winter! For those who know that won’t be easy come out anyway – I am always happy to have company at the back (though I’ll fight you for the last brownies!)
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