Sunday, July 17, 2011

Race Report: Lacombe Half Marathon 10K

or...the technical trail race from hell...

Ok - maybe it wasn't that bad.  It was definitely tough for me, though.  I should rewind a bit...

Last night was a rough night.  The girls just wouldn't settle down and at midnight, we were trying to get them back to sleep.  Then Allergy Hound started to scratch and scratch and scratch...loudly (is there really any other volume?)   So, when the alarm went off at 6am...I wasn't feeling it.  When I dozed to 6:30, I still wasn't feeling it.  Finally, at 7, I hauled my butt out of bed and stumbled to the kitchen for breakfast.   Then, feeling like molasses, I gobbled down my bagel and chugged 2 bottles of water.  Somehow all of my race clothes got on the right way and hubby and I headed out the door.  We were initially going to run over to the start line from my parent's house but we were already going to be late for the half marathon start (and I had so wanted to see Susan off)

Here's hubby and I in the car before heading to the start:
Ya - I did take a nice one without the tongue...but our eyes were closed...


So we milled around the athletic park until my start at 8:30.   It was a teeny race...only 45 or so people in the 10K.  We lined up at the smallest start line I have ever seen (you know - in my vast experience of a year and a half :P)  and then we were off.  For the first kilometre, I was actually in 3rd place.  Two guys were in front of me and I was somehow holding a pace of just under 5 min/k.  I knew that wasn't going to last, though, and soon people were pulling in front of me as we were leaving the bus lane at the schools.   Then we hit our first hill.

Now, when I say hill, I don't mean mountain in this case..it was just a slow steady climber in the hot, hot sun.  It was scorching out and it was killing me.   I was drenched in sweat by the second kilometre and was aching for some shade.    I knew we would be on the paths around the lakes soon and naive little me was dumb enough to believe that they would all be paved and lovely.

Cutting through a residential neighborhood, we were soon directed to the Elizabeth lakes trail...and the flooding had caused a second route change so what we were actually on was a single track trail cut out of the grass. and that quickly progressed to single track dirt and bark mulch trail.

It has been alot of years since I spent any sort of time wandering around Lacombe.  I haven't lived there in 16 years and when I go back, it tends to keep me in the more populated areas of town.  I had never been on these trails before.  Heck - the town didn't even come anywhere near Elizabeth lake when I lived there!   I found the highly technical trail hard to pace myself on.  The downhills and switchbacks were really hard on my legs and I found my knees burning more than a little.   But I carried on.   Huffing, puffing and sweaty - the shade didn't help me much.  

I will give the race this much, though, they had excellent volunteer turn out.  They had said something like 50 volunteers for this little race. They were enthusiastic and encouraging.  The route weaved through the town and the volunteers were always there at each turn to keep us on track.  So a HUGE hats off to the volunteers!  You did a great job!

Anyway..back to the race report.   The part of the race course that scared me the most was where it came out at the university.  I remember my brother snowboarding on the hills behind the sportsplex and I didn't want to run up THOSE!  But someone was thinking and the course steered us around so we came out to the street at a more level plain.   Here, there were 2 volunteers squirting water on us with spray bottles.   I tried to discourage them from hitting me but I was too late.   I hate being sprayed with anything anywhere (I had a bad experience at the cosmetics section in a dept store years ago with an overly enthusiastic perfume lady...and my allergy to perfumes...) so this water squirtage was a HUGE pet peeve to me and made me quite grumpy.   They are just lucky I was distracted by the hell hill I was about to encounter...they actually made me run up that street into the college from Rosedale...the steady climber that never ends.   It was here that I said "well, screw it...no PR for me" and walked up the hill.

Then it was around a corner and back into more nasty technical trail...this time boggy from the recent flooding.  There was even one are where they had laid down construction pallets to get us through it.   I plodded on and on.   Then we were done with the trails (YAY!) and onto gravel road.   I was feeling ok as I approached the turnaround.  I thanked the volunteer there for coming out and she smiled and said she was so happy to be there.   It really made me smile.

At this point, the course overlapped with the half marathoners so I was on the lookout for Susan, hoping to cheer her on...but didn't see her.   As I came out of the gravel road and onto the homestretch at around 7.5K, a lovely wind kicked up...against me as I was running up another never-ending hill. Around a curve and then it was downhill....wheeeeee

We wound through another residential neighborhood and then it was onto the familiar Cranna Lake trail that I used to wander along in my school days. Up past my junior high and then into the last half a kilometre to the athletic park and the finish line.  The approach to the finish was across a grassy field.  As I came through the gates and lined up to the finish chute, I finally saw Susan.  She was right there at the finish to cheer me across.   She snapped a great picture of me there too :) Don't I look fast?


I crossed the finish line in 1:08:09.  My second slowest 10K time. 



Hubby was there to greet me at the finish line and then we walked over to say hi to Susan.  Turned out the race day had been tough on her too and she had ended up pulling out at the 5K mark.   I truly believe that every runner has a DNF in them at some point and hope she's feeling better about it tonight (I actually had a dream this weekend that I DNFed in an Ironman 70.3 - something I NEVER intend to try to do LOL).   Hubby snapped this pic of us:

Then we wandered over to stretch and hubby and I thought we'd partake in the free breakfast but my stomach couldn't handle the smell of those pancakes.  So we headed home.

It was a very enthusiastic race.  The committee was very enthusiastic.  The volunteers were very enthusiastic. The radio station commentating was very enthusiastic.  But I just didn't enjoy the race.   I didn't like the technical trail.  It wasn't advertised as a trail race and I made some assumptions about the course that were kind of to my own detriment.   Cranna Lake was always paved and I expected the rest of the lake trails in town to be the same.   This was a course that I should have worn trail shoes on (that might give me an excuse to BUY trail shoes, hmmmm).  The weather today was hot and humid and gross.   I was uncomfortable and just grumpy.   I thought the registration was a little too expensive for what you got out of it (though, admittedly, the race does raise money for 3 causes).  I liked that it was chip timed and that that chip went on my shoe :)   Bib chips might have made this one a complete miss :P   Oh - I did like that they gave out running socks instead of race shirts.  That was really cool.  Unfortunately, they just slapped a lacombe half marathon tag on some plain socks so it wasn't like they were anything special. Will I run it again next year?  No, I don't think so.  I guess we'll see.  Maybe next year, I'll really want to do trail races and will try it again with full knowledge of what I'm getting into. 

As of today, however, I don't plan to run it again.

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