Now that I am in marathon training and my goal race is so much later than all of my friends running Calgary, I have been looking at ways to run with a variety of people and paces on my long runs. To try new trails and pathways and start pushing myself again.
I had been reading Leana's recent posts about her XC races with a fair bit of envy. I've been kind of flatlined on my running lately and my mojo needed a bit of revving - so I got in touch with her to see if maybe she'd be up for some company this weekend...and she invited me along to check out the Nose Hill XC course she ran last week. Two loops would get me the 8k I needed for my training schedule...and it would also give us a chance to finally go for a run together.
We met up just before 10 at Nose Hill Park and, along with Leana's other friend Tara, we were headed out by 10 on the nose.
Leana had recommended that I wear traction aid to help on a few icy patches she'd encountered, so I broke out my Costco specials (the Due North ones I bruised my feet on a couple years ago) and hoped for the best.
Luckily, on the snowy trail, I couldn't feel them pounding into my feet so I started to feel a bit more optimistic about them, though still not quite ready to trust.
The first part of the trail headed straight uphill (and uphill and uphill). Tara (the speedier of us) headed up ahead a bit and Leana and I plodded ever upwards. It had been pretty windy in the parking lot, but on the way up the hill, we hardly noticed it. That all changed when we got to the top and the tree cover vanished.
and the wind pushed us around. It was crazy strong. I kind of wish I had stopped to take a video of this one off-leash sign that was up there - the wind was ripping it back and forth so forcefully that it looked like it might fly out of the ground at any minute.
I mean, just look at what it did to all 3 inches of hair on my head.
But it was so pretty up there...all mountains and sky for miles and miles.
It was better when we turned east onto a side path. The wind at my back actually helped my pace considerably and I was able to keep up with the other ladies much easier.
Note to Banff Marathon organizers: please arrange for the wind to be at my back the whole race.
When we turned south again, the wind battered us from the side again and I fell back. Not far back, but far enough that the wind deafened me and I couldn't have followed a conversation if I tried. So I stayed as close as I could. Then we turned off the main path, across the snow and into the trees. This was my favourite part.
We wove through the trees and lost some altitude. Then we were ejected onto the main path again and it was time for loop two.
Second verse...same as the first....well - not quite the same. While that wind was cold and deafening - the sun was warm and while we had been running the loop - the sun had been melting the snow and ice and the wind had been re-freezing it. I found the second loop much slicker than the first. Areas where the snow had been crunchy - it was now slick. I was still having trouble trusting my cheapo traction aids (I think today proved I can justify a pair of microspikes)
Before we headed into the trees again - we stopped for some group photos.
and then we headed for the trees. In the time since we'd last run through there - the wind had completely covered over the approach with snow. And it was pretty deep - much deeper than what we'd run through the first time.
I'm so glad we did the two loops - that bit through the trees was every bit as fun the second time. And didn't last nearly long enough. Soon, we were out on the main path and heading back to the parking lot.
That brought me to exactly 8k. Leana still had a bit more to add on, but I was pooped and decided to cut out and go run the errands I needed to do before I headed home.
One last photo
Thanks Leana for letting me tag along today. I had so much fun and it was great to mix it up. I hope we'll have more opportunities to get out together in the coming months.