Thursday, October 23, 2014

Race Recap: Banff Ekiden Relay 2014

WARNING!  This post is very long and very photo-heavy...but I wanted to get it done up before I leave for Vancouver tomorrow...

So, without any further is the fun of Banff Ekiden 2014!

We had a few changes to the roster for 2014, but the Little Bloggy Bluebirds flew again and rocked this relay in style!

The day started early for us...and I am sure the team wanted to kill me for it, but since I was driving - I said we needed to be early.  Especially since last year we were cutting it incredibly close.  I was on the road by shortly after 5am and picking everyone up at 6 at Tina's place.   First stop was coffee...we just happened to get to Starbucks before they opened...just a bit...

With coffee in hand and the excitement of the day ahead, we hit the road.

Photo Credit: Tina

and arrived in Banff just as the sun was fully up.  It was already shaping up to be a beautiful day.  Since we were so early, we had our pick of parking spots and were able to park just across from Eric Harvey Theatre which made it nice and easy to go back and forth to retrieve our things.   The early arrival also meant we had our pick of comfy chairs and tables to set up Bluebird Central.

We had plenty of time to fill out our waivers and fetch our bibs before the lineups formed.  In my eyes - it was PERFECT!  I hate to be rushed.


This race is light on swag, but what you get is good.  Mizuno long sleeve tech shirt and a nice catered lunch after.

This year the shirts were sort of a mustardy yellow.  They are unisex and I forgot that and ordered mine too big.  It'll be good for hanging out at home with but not really a look or colour I'd want for a run...

The Costume

This year we went with a rainbow theme that sort of evolved into rainbows and unicorns...

Photo Credit: Tina

and, once again, we were the only team in costume!  C'mon people!  Get with the program - life is more fun when you sparkle it up a bit!

Michelle made us headbands.  Tina ordered us unicorn rainbow socks and bondi bands.  We each chose a different colour of sparkle skirt...we were to be the most colourful team out there (spoiler: we succeeded)

and Michelle also made us a rainbow tail we affectionately named the "Unicorn shart".

We also had an underlying theme of "Bitches be Runnin'" That we had a lot of fun with...and several requests for the stickers we wore on our shirts.

and a very special cheerleader in Donnie Wahlberg - after Sock It To Me sent an old skool NKOTB trading card in with our order...our spirit unicorn was named after him...

The Race

I'm not going to spend time recapping my teammates legs in the race because those are their stories to tell - I'll just link them here after they post their recaps to their own blogs.

Leg One: Susan
Susan was our first runner.She was running the same leg as I did last year.  You will be able to read her recap soon on her blog.

She finished her leg in 48 minutes even.

I helped run her in:

Leg Two: Lindsay

Lindsay took the longest of the legs and was gone like a flash with the unicorn shart tailing behind her.   You can read her awesome recap here.

Photo Credit: Tina

Lindsay finished leg two in 1:10:19

Leg Three: Moi

This was a pretty significant race in my own little world...even if it was just another fun 2014 race to everyone else.

This was my comeback race.  My big and official return to running post-stress fracture.  I was half excited and maybe a little more than half nervous as hell.

Ok - so I was waiting in the handoff area for Lindsay to arrive.  I had already witnessed the changeover between Susan and Lindsay and because I wasn't going to wear the unicorn shart (not for lack of a fun spirit, but more for wanting to minimize the number of things that might bug me on my first run back), I wasn't going to be in need of the NASCAR pit crew.  I was ready to grab Donnie the Spirit Unicorn and run.

Lindsay came into the chute and I took the unicorn and just started to run.  What I didn't realize was that my team was still swarming Lindsay so they weren't taking pictures of me heading you won't find any triumphant start off pictures here.

But here's one of Donnie...pep talking me from my belt...

Leg three begins straight uphill.  It is a slight hill toward Tunnel Mountain Road and the a sharp left and you climb a mountain.   My race strategy was to run 3 mins, walk one.  As soon as I started up that hill - I had to walk.  I was far too out of shape from my 8 months of no running and nursing a stubborn fracture.   So I power hiked it.  Up up up, I climbed.   At least I was out of sight of the start line so no one could witness my huffing and puffing.

But then...then it starts...that GLORIOUS downhill.  I flew down the mountain.  I was free!  I felt great!  The scenery was amazing.

I changed my strategy to "walk up, fly down" and ended up running most of my leg on this strategy.

At three kms, I sent off a blast on Instagram to let my team know I was at 3k and feeling good.  NO PAIN!!!!  Ok - going under the assumption that this was a 4k leg - my team should know to expect me soon.

After I flew down the mountain - I reached BASTARD HILL!  The uphill torture that ends every leg of this relay.  I made sure they caught my right bib number so my team would hear the announcement at the top and I started the power hike to the top.

As I rounded the last curve on that hill - something was missing.   There was nothing cheering on the hill.  Certainly nothing sparkly.   My team was nowhere to be seen.

No worries, I thought, they must all be waiting at the handoff area.  I powered through, ready for some fanfare to celebrate my triumphant comeback...and hit the handoff area in about 32 minutes.  4.5k in 32mins.  Not too shabby.

But no fanfare.

In fact - no birdies.  Not a single member of my team was in that handoff area - including Michelle - the leg 4 runner!

SAY WHAT!!!!!!!

Kourtney saw me come in and quickly yelled "Where's your bitches?"   I had no clue.  That kind of became the catchphrase for the day.

They should have had plenty of time to get out there.  So I was standing in the handoff area wondering if I should just head off and run leg 4 too, but knowing that I could not physically do that without risking my leg.  So I stood there with the hoardes of people staring at me in my costume, holding the stuffed unicorn and looking lost.   They announced my team one time.  two times.  Still no bitches.  Finally on the third announcement - I saw Tina, Susan and Lindsay come flying out of the Eric Harvey Theatre....

...but no Michelle...and they didn't know where she was.  They ran back in to check the washrooms and returned with Michelle who, full of apologies, took the unicorn and started her leg.

Photo credit: Susan
I finished leg three in an official time of 35:49

And since it's been a good long while since y'all saw any geekery from me (other than the kind involving the TARDIS or stationery supplies) - here you go...

I was full of mixed emotions as I headed inside.  As a final note on my leg...this one on expectation management and lessons learned.  It is a really big issue with my brain.  I get it into my head that things will go one way and I get crushingly disappointed when they don't...but I am really bad at actually sharing my dreams with anyone.

You see -  I was really nervous and really excited all at the same time for my big comeback.  In my eyes - it was HUGE!  I had been off running for pretty much the past 8 months.   I have had more turmoil and pain in those months than I EVER want to endure again.  I don't write about everything here and I spent more than enough of that time Debbie-Downering the hell out of this space...but I wanted - nay, NEEDED - a bit of a celebration.  And I didn't say anything.  I never let my wishes be known. So, when I came up that last hill on my leg and there wasn't anyone to cheer me home...I was crushed.  When my team was 100% missing for my triumphant finish - I was devastated.  Yes - I did happen t lock myself in a bathroom and cry...but it had nothing to do with my had to do with me...beating myself up for not sharing how important this race was to me.  I'd like to say it is a lesson I learned and will be able to do better on next time, but I know that's not the case.  I have a problem asking for what I want and I just need to do a better job of communicating it.  Funny that THAT is my issue - since I WORK in communications!!!  The only thing I need to come away saying is that I never saw my experience in my finish as a fialing on my teams part...I saw it as a failing on my own...and one that I should know better how to handle by this stage in my life.

Ok - on to Michelle...

Leg Four: Michelle

Michelle had the next shortest leg, since she was running a marathon the next day. She unnecessarily felt bad about missing the handoff so she blasted through her leg without any walk breaks.  Her recap can be found here.

Michelle rocked her leg in 40:11

Leg Five: Tina

Tina was soon on her way and despite having some issues with the unicorn shart, she rocked her leg, which was the second longest of the bunch.  We heard our team name called so we rushed out to cheer her home, but I think they must have called our number by accident because it was a long time before she actually got there after we had the 500m warning.  Unfortunately, Sue and I were waiting by an inflatible finish line that was quickly losing steam and were trying our damndest to hold it up so she would still be able to run under it...we tried and failed and in the end, it was deflated when she got there.

But she brought us home and Ekiden was done for another year.  You'll soon be able to read Tina's recap on her blog.

Tina wrapped up leg 5 in 1:28:02

We finished the relay in a total time of 4:42:19

After the race, we headed out to find the food that we had missed out on last year.  They had an assortment of cookies, squares and buns as well as veggie and meat chilis.  Since we were continuing the tradition of heading to nourish Bistro for our post-race meal - we nibbled on some of the goodies and then headed out for a real meal.

And I continued the team tradition of giving everyone handmade medals...this year I found shrinkydink inkjet plastic and made us custom medals from the graphics I created for the team.   My friend, Leann, is a jewelry designer and she had a bird design pendant that I had her make 5 copies of especially for us. (if you like them, I'm sure she would make more...just email her through her etsy store - her prices are really reasonable)

and then, after lunch, we grabbed coffee for the trip home and hit the road...

Bye-bye for another year, Ekiden.  You were super fun once more.   I definitely needed those laughs.

Here's I will leave you with some more random fun from the day....
Photo Credit: Tina

Photo Credit: Tina
Photo Credit: Susan


  1. Congratulations on your triumphant return to running Cori. I'm gut-wrenchingly sorry that things didn't go as swimmingly as planned and I'm mortified that I let you down. You put so much into planning everything for us. Your thoughtful creative medals and stickers and goodie bags and driving and more are what made this event so special. I appreciate every thing you did. Please tell Leann how much I love the copper birdie necklace. I'd love to check her out on Etsy... Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay running. XO

    1. I'm not sure why you think you let me didn't. Shit happens in a relay - it's no biggie. As I wrote up there - I let myself down...simple as that. It's no ones fault but my own and I certainly don't view it as a failing on anyone else. So let it go and don't let it be a weight on your shoulders.

  2. It was such an awesome day, and your comeback was epic. EPIC. I particularly enjoyed our 100m dash later on in the mall. How in all hell you managed to organize 4 women so effectively I shall never know but it came together beautifully.

  3. Great recap of the Bitches in action Cori. There were so many elements to our fun filled day I found it difficult to explain them all but you accomplished that perfectly in this recap. Congrats on your come-back, by how quickly you ran and how good you looked after I would never guess that you've been injured for 8 months! You still got. I'm so sorry about the finish to your leg and can completely understand the disappointment. I'm glad that you shared your feelings. Thanks again for all your organization, creativity and personal touches. This was my first experience with a relay and clearly t he bar has been set very high! Have a wonderful weekend in Vancouver.

  4. Cori, congratulations on your triumphant return to racing! It couldn't have happened at a better event...Banff...Ekiden...rainbows and unicorns! Love the team spirit and fun costumes!


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