This past weekend was my final race of 2015…the Banff Winterstart 5 Miler!
This race is a great excuse for a weekend away in Banff. Neil and I drove out to Banff after work on Friday and checked into our favourite hotel, the Fox Hotel and Suites. We decided to try someplace new for dinner on our first night, Park Distillery.
Park is a brand new restaurant that features campfire inspired cooking and distills its own spirits. The food was delicious! Saturday morning was nice and lazy as I was able to enjoy coffee and catching up on blogs. Then later in the morning I made my way out to Elevation Place in Canmore for a swim coaching session with some fellow Team Tri Life athletes. Since I swim solo it is really great to get some feedback on my swim stroke to find areas for improvement!
Back in Banff it was now time for lunch! Neil and I went to the Bear Street Tavern. The pizzas here are delicious but I was feeling hungry for a sandwich today. I also decided to not take my earlier advice and I ordered a pre-race beer. When you order a stein of beer here there is no messing around!
The Lake of Bays 10 Point Pale Ale sure was delicious! After lunch I wandered around downtown Banff a bit. It was drizzly out and the mountains were hidden by clouds unfortunately.
As the afternoon wore on and we got closer to race time Neil felt a bit hungry. I dressed for the race, then we killed some time at Chili’s so Neil could have a beverage and munch on some chips. It is really hard to stare at a bowl of yummy tortilla chips and not find that one or two sneak their way into your mouth. Oops.
We left the restaurant and made our way to the start at the Banff Caribou Lodge. Before long the parking garage went from slightly empty to teeming with people.
I decided to skip my pre-race gel since I felt a bit full from those tortilla chips. I found my friend Tara and all of a sudden it was time to line up for the start!
The drizzle from earlier in the day had died down and it was still fairly warm out (for November in Banff) at 2C. I decided to just run in my long sleeve Birds of a Feather top (similar) over a tank, plus full length Oiselle Go Joggings.
Tara wanted to run together as much as possible and I was happy to have the company/someone to chase. Last year I started too far back and wound up dodging around a bunch of people. This year Tara and I lined up right near the front and while I felt a bit worried I was too far near the front I just went with it.
Banff Winterstart Race Report
Parts of the road on the way out of town were pretty slick so it felt difficult to get into a good rhythm in the beginning because I was worried about slipping and falling. My legs were not feeling very peppy to begin with either. I hadn’t done any kind of warm up before the race so no doubt that had something to do with my slightly heavy legs.
When Tara and I turned to run up Tunnel Mountain she took off. She has her own rhythm to tackle hills and I have mine. Plus those tortilla chips were sitting heavy in my stomach. I kept looking up and ahead as the light from my headlamp bounced off the bits of reflective accents on the runners ahead. Every once in awhile the road would flatten out slightly and I’d feel a bit better so I’d pick up the pace. I hit the turn around at 2.52 miles and 25:40 on my watch so it looked like the course would be much closer to 5 miles this year.
At the turn around Tara was waiting on the side of road for me so we once again fell into step beside each other. Normally I love running down the hill but I was so nervous that the road would be slick on the way down. I tensed up, slowed down and lost Tara. As I slowly made my way down the hill I watched the people around me bomb down the hill. Eventually I gained enough confidence that I wasn’t going to slip and fall and I began to pick up speed.
Tara and I met up at the bottom of the hill and it was now time to push to the finish line. We had a headwind and it felt tough out there! I just kept telling myself that the faster I ran the sooner it would be over. I’m proud of how hard I pushed. I honestly felt like I was going to toss my tortilla chips as soon as I hit the finish line, if not sooner. Those tortilla chips were a really bad idea!
As soon as I could see the light on the edge of town I focused on that, then I knew there was not much left to go. If I just kept up I could possibly finish in under 50 minutes but I could not let up. Just keep pushing and deal with the fallout from the tortilla chips later!
We turned the corner to finish and Tara waved hi to her husband, kids and Neil. I was just focused on the finish. All done in 49:24.
Luckily as soon as I stopped my stomach settled. I had done it…I had run a personal best at the Winterstart 5 Miler by a little more than 2 minutes!
After the race Neil and I popped into the post race party in the parking garage to meet up with friends, but before long I started to feel very cold! We made our way back to the hotel where after a hot shower, some cozy sweats and dinner at Chili’s I felt back to normal.
All in all, a great weekend in Banff and a great race. There might be times when you feel crummy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still push through and race strong!
- Chip Time: 49:24
- Overall: 653 out of 1675
- Women 30 – 39: 124 out of 467