This was a girls’ trip out to Banff, and four of us were running the 10K at Melissa’s Road Race. My friend DGB picked me up in the morning and we all set off to the mountains. The race didn’t start until 10:30 and we made good time out there, although it took us a bit of time to negotiate the town and find a parking spot. We arrived at the race start with fifteen minutes to spare – enough time to pick up our race shirts, check our bags and snap a picture before the race started.
I wanted to try and push myself from the get go and see how well I could hold up along the way. I’m a big fan of running comfortably and I need to push myself into the uncomfortable territory to start seeing some more pace improvements. The race was pretty crowded from the start so there was a lot of dodging people, but I didn’t want to get stuck behind someone slightly slower than me and back off the pace. I was in front of DGB and our other two friends, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before DGB shot out in front of me. As we crossed the bridge on to Banff Avenue we saw two runners that were late for the start running in the opposite direction. Oops! On Banff Ave a girl tapped me on the shoulder to say hello and ask how I was doing. At first I didn’t clue in to who she was, but as she sped away I realized that she’s one of my tri teammates! Apparently my brain is not good at recognizing who people are while I’m running… The first mile clicked off in 9:04 (+14 ft).
At the start of the second mile we started climbing up Tunnel Mountain. I knew this was going to be a long climb for almost the whole mile and I didn’t want to stop and walk at any point. I saw DGB up ahead and managed to keep her in my sights for most of that uphill slog. My pace slowed down, but I knew I just had to keep going and make it through this uphill section. We gained 214 feet over 0.71 miles and then we were rewarded with some fantastic downhill. Second mile, 10:10 (+71 ft).
My goal for mile three was to just keep the momentum going and not slow down the pace at all. I could still see DGB…unbelievable! Mile three was done in 8:56 (-92 ft).
As I was running along Cave Avenue I heard someone call my name. It took me a moment to register who it was, and it was my coach! She asked me how I was feeling and we chatted for a few seconds before she sped ahead. Mile four done in 9:30 (+40 ft).
From this point we were running along the trail to Sundance Canyon and this is where a lot of people falter on the race. The trail narrows and you run an out and back along it. Heading out is mostly downhill. I really wanted to take advantage of the downhill momentum and people in front of me were just a tad too slow and I really wanted to get past them. There wasn’t a lot of room to pass, so for the most part I’d hop off the trail into the mud to keep going. I hit the turnaround just a few seconds after DGB and we high fived. At the turn around there was a guy standing off to the side who looked like he was about to toss his cookies. My stomach wasn’t feeling all that swell either so I turned around as quickly as possible and sped out of there. Mile five clicked off just past the turnaround in 9:14 (-39 ft).
Now it was time to run uphill along the trail towards the finish. I didn’t want to look at my watch to see what my pace was, or what my time was, I just wanted to keep focused on running. A lot of people walk up the hill and there isn’t any more room to pass on the uphill than there was on the down. I weaved through a lot of people and ran off into the mud on the side just to keep going. Frayed Laces has this great quote that she uses to help her power through tough workouts – “There will be a day when you can no longer do this…today is NOT that day.” I just kept telling myself over and over that today was not the day to walk. Finally I was up and out of the trail and heading back down towards the finish. Mile six done in 9:09 (-1 ft).
After that it was time to kick it in for the finish. I crossed a chip mat so the announcers could call in the finishers as they were crossing the line. My name was called but I was so focused on the sprint for the end that I didn’t hear it. According to the gun time we were all just within the window to make it in under an hour so the announcer was encouraging the crowd to really cheer for us so we could make it in. I hit the finish and stopped the Garmin. Done in 57:49 – a new PR by 7 seconds!
DGB had made it in just ahead of me so we congratulated at the finish line then moved off to wait for our friends to make it in. We were all within a few minutes of each other and everyone was feeling great about their race. I grabbed my stuff from the bag check so I could throw some sweats on since I was cooling off quickly. I ran into coach to let her know how I had done – I had accomplished my mission of running hard. She exclaimed that there were no more 5:11 marathons for me! After making our way through the food line we decided to head on out and grab a real lunch. We settled upon the Elk & Oarsman. My stomach was feeling pretty iffy during and after the race, but somehow or other I managed to scarf down a delicious elk burger with a green salad and sweet potato fries. After lunch we wandered around Banff a bit, then made our way back to town.
This race was ultimately a big deal to me. Like I said before, I wanted to see if I tried to run hard would I be able to do it the entire way, or would I blow up or throw up? Well, definitely no blowing up, and although my stomach was not so happy for most of the day I didn’t throw up either. I know that I need to work on my anaerobic capacity (more details on this later) so this race was a chance to see what happened if I pushed myself into that zone and tried to stay there the entire time. I always qualified my previous PR at the Ryka Iron Girl in Seattle by saying that it was very flat and at sea level. I hadn’t been able to break an hour in a 10K since then. Melissa’s is one tough course in the Rockies and to PR it feels great! It was also a fantastic trip out to Banff with good friends!
- Overall Time: 57:49
- Overall Place: 848 out of 2707
- Females Overall: 343 out of 1760
- Females 30 – 39: 130 out of 673