Jeannie and I are here in Whistler to support April and Dave on their Ironman Canada race (also racing are our other Port Alberni buds Russ, Rod, Gary and Colin – they are all on their bikes as I write this!). Jeannie found there was a 10k trail race the day before Ironman: the 5 Peaks Whistler-Blackcomb trail run. We’re here anyway… so of course we entered!
Short runs are not my thing, definitely not what I am good at. I can go for hours and hours, but I am just not fast. But now that my various injuries and illnesses seem to be at bay, I am motivated to get faster – so I figured this race would be good training for me. Especially considering that the whole thing took place between 1900 m and 2300 m elevation (6,000 to 7,500′) and had 645 m (2,100′) of climbing/descent compressed into those 10 kilometres.
Jeannie and I met for the gondola ride up – first up to Whistler Mountain, and then taking the Peak to Peak Gondola across the valley to Blackcomb Mountain. That was fun! Jeannie’s been up there skiing in winter lots, so she was excited to see what it looks like in summer, and I had never been up there ever!
I thought I had gone overboard with all the warm clothes I had brought up with me “just in case” (I get cold really easily) – but thank goodness I had them. It was so cold up there that jeannie and I bought hats to wear running… there was not much selection in lightweight tuques, so we ended up with matching ones. Yay team!
I had originally planned to run with my camera, but I am glad that I changed my mind. There were a lot of runners (most of them faster than me) and it was single-track, so there was nowhere I would have really been able to stop. In fact, I barely saw any of the scenery at all… the few times I dared glance up from the trail, though, it was beautiful: mountains all around, glaciers, little lakes, alpine flowers… but for the most part I just kept going, trying to find places to step aside when I heard someone coming up behind me.
The route had three big climbs and descents, of which the second climb was by far the longest and steepest. Although people had been passing me on the flats and the more gentle climbs, I was glad that I held my own on that steep ascent: all those hills I have been climbing have definitely paid off. While several runners passed me on the second descent, I caught nearly every one of them again on the final climb.
The last descent was on a rough gravel road. I know my quads are totally up to running fast downhills, especially if they are not overly technical, so I accelerated into it, and… my eyes teared up from the cold wind! I tried to slow down, but not in time… blinded, I tripped on a rock and went skidding down the hill on my hands and knees, smashing my left knee hard on a rock. I walked a bit after the crash, not yet sure how much damage I had done to my knee – but it didn’t seem too bad so I accelerated again and actually had a good run down to the finish line.
I was glad to see both Jeannie and Dave waiting for me there. Jeannie had a good race – she’s still fairly new to trail-running, and was a bit freaked out about the downhills, and how fast some of the really technically good runners go on them (she had started in a faster wave than me), but she finished in 1:33, which is a great time for that course.
I finished in 1:48 – a time that I am actually quite pleased with, considering I really do not ever do short fast runs, and considering my fall.Bummer that I crashed – but I was lucky in SO many ways:
- That I had got cold on the last ascent and had put my gloves on.. otherwise I would have had gravel embedded in both palms.
- That I didn’t hit my face as I slid down the hill
- That my knee – which is the knee that I have a history of cartilage problems with – doesn’t seem too bad. It was very tender yesterday, and I was worried that I had re-damaged the cartilage. I picked all the gravel out last night, and today it’s not too bad – I don’t think I have done anything too serious.
I am actually feeling really good today, considering. The best thing is that none of my muscles are sore at all! So, even if I am not fast (yet!) I am actually feeling in pretty good shape… with a great endurance background, and ready to focus on my speed a bit more.