Pre-Race Rambles in Banff
Last weekend Neil and I went to Banff for the Winterstart 5 Miler. This race feels like the perfect excuse for a getaway. Banff is such a beautiful town in the Rockies and I feel lucky we live so close!
Neil and I decided to make a weekend out of the race and drove out on Friday after work. Being the creatures of habit that we are we went out for dinner at the Grizzly House for some delicious fondue and meats cooked on a hot rock on our first night.
I was up bright and early on Saturday morning as I had a long run of 90 minutes to knock out. It was cloudy, cool and drizzling out but it still felt great to be out for a run.
By one of the wildlife gates on the Legacy Path heading out of town.
Running past the race start at the Banff Caribou Lodge. I love the brightly coloured shoes hanging up for decoration!
Bear in the area? I think I’ll go a different way!
Overlooking the Bow Falls.
As soon as I got back to the hotel I made sure to drink some chocolate milk, warm up with some hot coffee and a shower and get some compression socks on. I needed to focus on recovery between my long run and my race! We headed in to town for lunch at the Bear Street Tavern. A couple of slices of pizza with veggies and chicken did the trick!
The rest of the afternoon was fairly low key until race time. I made my way over to the Caribou Lodge about half an hour before the race and had just enough time to chat with friends and grab a few pictures.
Banff Winterstart Race Report
Then it was go time! The race heads out of town for a mile and a half on fairly flat ground, then you turn and run up Tunnel Mountain for a mile before turning around and making your way back to where you started. By the time the race gets going it is completely dark out.
Prior to the race I had reread my old race reports and I noticed a common theme. I’d often faded in the final mile and a half to the finish and would stop and walk quite a bit. My goals for this race were to run the entire route (including the entire run up the mountain) and to finish strong. I unfortunately made the mistake of starting a little too far back in the pack. There were a lot of racers and not a lot of room to move ahead so that I could settle into my own pace. I wound up thinking that the pace I was running felt pretty comfortable and that caused me to give my head a shake and to pick things up. This was a race after all!
Earlier in the day I had attempted to grab a photo of the climb up Tunnel Mountain but it really doesn’t do to hill justice.
As we started our trek up the mountain I stayed to the left and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I kept repeating to myself over and over that it was my goal to just keep running. A quick glance at my watch and I realized that the turnaround point was past the half way mark. Oh well, there wasn’t much I could do about it but to keep on running! Finally I hit the turn around point and it was time to run down the mountain! I think my Garmin read 2.68 miles? I was a tad cautious on the downhill as it was still drizzling and it was cold off. I didn’t want to hit an icy patch and take a spill!
When I hit the flat road back to town I knew it was time to push hard. I was running just ahead of a group of girls and they were chatting loudly about a boy they really didn’t like. I needed to move away from that discussion. I thought my legs were working hard but I’d have to find a way to push a little harder. I thought of something my friend Tea had written recently…you always have another gear. I repeated that thought to myself and forged ahead.
My legs were screaming but I was not going to let up. If I felt like I was relaxing into my pace I kept telling myself that I still had another gear. As I made the turn to the finish line I heard Neil yell out some encouragement and I think I barely gave him a wave.
I crossed the finish line in 53:42 with 5.36 miles on my Garmin. Apparently most of my friends measured the course long too. I hit the 5 mile mark on my Garmin in 50:33…a time that would have been a personal best on the course. I definitely left it all out on the course and gave it my all. I was really proud of my race!
Neil and I didn’t stick around the after party at the Banff Caribou Lodge. Instead we met up with friends for dinner at Chilli’s in the Fox Hotel.
Did you know that their tacos come with a side of awesome?
The next morning I went out for one last run in Banff, a nice and easy recovery run. The mountains were still hidden behind clouds but the town is beautiful no matter what.
And that was my final road race of 2014! It has been a pretty incredible year of racing and I’m happy my final race of the year was so strong! Now back to Goofy Challenge training…