I was going to go for the title "So what's the Swedish for "redemption""?", but that had too many biblical connotations and frankly the cold meds and wine is not a combination to start a theological discussion. Or maybe it is? No, wait.. it isn't..
Sorry it's taken so long to get the race report up, but shortly after the race, I ended up being "Sick Mamma" and then "sick Mamma with sick kid". I need to know, sick kids are meant to lounge on the couch, groaning, only moving to switch on a new TV show, right? Okay, need to send mine back to the Supermarket I brought him from; there's something wrong. I never known someone with that sort of temperature, causing so much destruction!
So last Sunday, I pulled myself out of bed at the usual stupid time of 5:30AM to run another trail half marathon. The second trail half in less than a month. I am not sure why I felt I had to verify my "trail-runner" status? I am not a competitive person as such. I run races for the atmosphere and personal achievement and not for the fact I beat X,Y and Z. I think I felt betrayed by my previous performance. As if, the race had phoned me up, drunk, at 11PM on a Friday night, to say, "You aren't the trail runner you think you are, *burp* oh and you're lousy in bed". It could also be the fact it was called "Rubber Ducky" and it was cheap. Actually that probably is closer to the truth..
So anyway, "yadda, yadda,.. etc", I got out of bed, ate breakfast, got changed and pulled the wine out of the fridge. The trail course this time was a LOT easier. No horrible mountains to climb, just a nice gravel trail to run around. Saying that, I am coming to the conclusion I hate gravel. As a minimalist runner, it's... well... painful. You can't avoid the rocks and no matter how hard you try, at some point your form will fail and you will swear louder than a sailor who has just reached port and found the women have gone on holiday.
I had decided that this time I was going to run the race in "kittyK" fashion. I wasn't going to get wound up. I was going to skip, prance, sing badly, play air-drums, check out everybody as much as possible and at the 16K mark, drink wine. I wasn't going to look at my watch, I wasn't going to worry about everyone else. I was going to have fun.
The race itself is around Burnaby Lake in BC. It's a natural lake, partially wooded, partially boggy, enclosed in the usual urban squall. It was also incredibly foggy. I would love to describe the vistas, the atmosphere, the imposing presence. However, all you are going to get was that I could see some way in front and at some point around the 15K mark we could see the sun!
It was also bitterly cold. I made the decision that I wasn't going to wear my winter tights. I knew it was going to be cold, but mentally I still wanted it to be summer. I have forgotten how cold 2degC (about 36degC) is after the summer. By the time the race started, (about 10 mins late), my feet were frozen, I was shivering and I swear I had a little frosty moustache. I knew I would warm up eventually, but the shock that summer is finally over was a little sadness to the start of the race. I did have a bit of brightness, as I saw someone else with frozen feet. Another VFF wearer. Seeing anyone wear anything else other than conventional shoes is such a surprise that you cling to them like a man-overboard grabs a life-bouy. You become overjoyed that you aren't the only freak, that somewhere in this "toe-enclosed" place there is someone who is willing to bare his tootsies... I seem to have gone on a bit of a euphoric rant there. Anyway, his name is Kai and he was cool..
The first 6K or so were rather uneventful. I started at the back of the pack, so after a few dances between other runners and a lot of air-drums to "Arcade Fire" and other rocking tunes to get warmed up I eventually managed to get to a place where I could chill out and relax. This is the point where I marvel at the other runners and see how dedicated they are. Checking their watches for designated walk breaks. Checking their Garmin for pace results. Taking in water and fuel. Wearing sensible, conservative clothes. Whenever I go to races I always get blown away at how unconventional I am. Not in the shoe department but in other things too. I look at my shocking pink plaid running kilt skirt, the thermal top I painted pink the night before and my the sharpie tattoos on my arms and legs, and realise that NO-ONE is dressed like me. I look at the focused faces and the determined forms and I realise that no-one is playing airdrums whilst they run, or in fact smiling. I look at the other runners and I honestly wonder how much fun are they actually having. From where I am standing it 'aint much! These are the times I am thankful I don't give a *cough*..[fill in any appropriate swear word you can think of]
At about 12K I was inbetween packs. I had passed the slower runner/walkers and was starting to chase the more dedicated runners in front. I had about 3-4K where I was on my own. Usually this is a low point for me, but this time I realised despite being alone physically, mentally I was with a lot of people. At this point the song , "The Cave" by "Mumford and Son's" ,came on, and I immediately thought of my friend AngieB who was running her first marathon that day. I then thought of Shelly, also running her first marathon, and I wondered what it would be like if we were running together. I thought of Larry and if he would appreciate the pancakes at the end. I then thought of my friend Jesse, who at that point had probably completed his first marathon and imagined him next to me as we shouted obscene words at the wildlife. Life as a minimalist or Barefoot runner can be a bit lonesome. The liklehood of meeting anyone in real-life, that understands why you run the way you do is small. However, virtually, there is a close knit group, connected by the quirkiness. It's cool, because no matter where you are running there is always a virtual pacer just waiting to be stupid with you. I have been a virtual pacer for a lot of people before. It was the first time I think I actually felt them running with me. So to you all 'Thank You', oh and Jesse, that was a fantastic burp at 13K!
At 16K I decided to pull out the wine-iskiate, and then in a moment of uncharacteristic thoughtfulness decided to hold off for another 1K or so. I remembered from my first loop that there was a section of very thick gravel coming up and perhaps I needed be sober for that stretch. I tell you, I think that 1K was the fastest stretch of the course for me. I finally understand the power of "incentive" when wanting to perform faster, better and stronger.
After the thick gravel I had hit the back of the front pack. I was still probably a long way from the winners - heck, they had probably already finished. However, I was back with civialisation and again had the opportunity to check out the competition. My "checking out" had more to do with "TMI bum" and seeing how serious they were but we all have to take our pleasures somewhere! It was this point, "National Express" by "Divine Comedy" came on the iPod. It's like an hilarious show tune. I defy anyone not to want to do Jazz hands, tap steps and sing loudly to this. So here I was, in a group of serious runners (well serious by their standards probably), literally singing and dancing my way through the course, with a flask of wine in hand. I have now officially earned my "non-runner" status. :D
I was getting close to the finish and I suppose I should have concentrated on that. The dancing and singing were done. My airdrums were put away and my wine was drunk. Oh, I forgot, the "TMI Bum" watching. As if to make my run complete, in front of me was a lady with a very hypnotic arse. If I had any competitive spirit, this arse would have killed it. For the last 2K I followed behind in admiration. It wasn't until the grass field we had to sprint across to the finish, did my mind come back to the present and I realised I had enough energy to sprint to the end. (Secretly I think my soles were just glad that the gravel was finished and they were enjoying the squishy, soft, "non-ouchy" ground).
I finished with a time of 2:03 and some seconds. I think I came 16th in my age/gender group, but as I don't know how many runners were in the group this could mean ANYTHING! I collected my funky race medal and went to thank "women in front" and apologise for running directly behind her for 2K. I don't think admitting I was admiring her arse was a good idea, but you have to give credit when it's due.
The pancakes were great, the complimentary foot massage was wonderful and as a local race it is something I would do again. It was for a local charity the WRA, and as an event it was well handled and friendly.
This race has wiped out the poor performance in my last trail half. (Yes, I know the course was easier). Mentally though, it was like I phoned up "trail running" after being dumped and quietly told him how he was missing out (I mean I am very bendy - this has to be a plus, right?). As always, "trail running" came crawling back and apologised! ;)