I crawled out of bed at 6am on a dreary morning and drove through a rainstorm on my way to Whistler. And although he rain let up before I got there, it was a chilly morning, so I took advantage of the early start. That dreary start turned into perfect running weather. Overcast, cool, but dry. Amazing!
I had also discovered the night before that instead of an absolute 800m gain like I thought it was, it was actually a cumulative 800m elevation gain. The absolute gain was only 400m. Boohyah!
The trail starts out on some old logging road, but quickly ducks into the forest. It pops out again on another stretch of logging road with warning “grade exceeds 18%”. That hill was worth walking – and it was pretty much the only time I walked during the entire race!
So far so good.
The real quickly jumped back into beautiful forest – the other women I was running with commented on how good the pine needles felt underfoot. I had to agree. Soft, spongy, forgiving. It was absolutely delightful.
Well… Somewhere around the 10k mark, we popped out above the treelike on what appears to be an old volcanic flow. The trail became solid rock. It wasn’t too bad, and I quickly reached the emergency aid stations at the mid-point, and helped myself to a few shot blocks. Physically I felt strong, but mentally I just wasn’t feeling it.
I was beginning to wonder why I race? I don’t like getting up early. I don’t like running in shitty weather (although that wasn’t the case this time round). I don’t really like running alone – and I was beginning to miss having a friend to talk to. But the thing with a point to point race is you can’t just bail half way through. So onwards I went.
I was buoyed by the thought that the trail would soon drop back down into the forest.
Several kilometers later, I was beginning to wonder if I was running in circles, because I was still up on this ridiculous volcanic rock. Turns out I should have taken a better look at the map. The course actually does make a big circuit around the top of the mountain before going back down again.
Finally we began to descend. Unfortunately, it never did turn back into he beautiful soft trail we came up. Instead there was rock. Bedrock and loose rock. And more rock. I was SO glad I decided to wear my old shoes with the rock plates, but my feet were still getting pretty beat up. And of course my quads were getting trashed having to carefully pick my way down the rocky slopes.
How anyone can run down them I don’t know. It’s certainly not part of my running skill set.
Down, down, down. It seemed endless. But eventually there was a sign: 1km to go.
The finish line was a sweet, sweet sight.
So was my sofa when I go home 😉
I think I spent the rest of the day napping and eating. I definitely woke up with some sore muscles the next day. Quads for sure, but hips, back, calves, feet… pretty much everything. After all the miles and elevation I put in in training, my only explanation on why I hurt so much was the amount of rock. All my training has been on dirt trails, so I guess it makes a difference?