I've been volunteering at almost every 5 Peaks Trail Running Series race in Southern Alberta (although the website calls it 'Central') for the last 7 years (I took a few races off during 'the year of pain' aka 2009). This past weekend was the Canmore Nordic Centre Race #1 and I was volunteering again at the registration table.
Some years I run some races, some races I don't run any and just volunteer. Although I wasn't sure about being able to race the almost 6 km loop, I thought I'd ghost the race (run the course without a race number). I'm so glad I did because it was such an awesome course with amazing weather!
I started the course two minutes after the last people passed the start line. I was at registration until after the first wave of runners went through and then I got to use the washroom (finally :) ) and change for the race, hence the late start. I ran in my inov-8 Bare-Grip 200s because I knew the course was muddy in sections (my spouse had set the course markers the day before the race).
I couldn't see anyone ahead of me when I started so I was all alone in the beginning. After the first dip and corner, I saw my spouse course marshalling, I gave him a quick kiss and went in search of other runners. It wasn't long before I caught up to some race walkers and passed them. Then it wasn't long before I caught up to the tail end of the last wave of runners. We were in the trees by this point so I called, "On your left" and passed them, too, and finished with a "Thank you." Then I repeated these words for a good 10 minutes straight dodging trees and runners. I thought I passed about 50 people during the course of the race but it was closer to 100!
I very recently started wearing a heart-rate monitor again when I'm running. I found that with the new running form, my heart rate goes pretty high and I've been trying to keep it between 155-170 BPM on training runs. I wore it for the race for my time and to keep an eye on my heart rate. Sometimes it goes into the 190s when I'm racing and I didn't want to run THAT hard this time.
Turns out I ran the course in exactly 41 minutes. According to the results, that would have placed me 135th overall out of 238 runners. The only reason why I was curious about where my standing would have been is because when I used to run these races (back in 2008 and earlier), I placed no better than 5th to last EVER. Therefore, my conclusions are thus: either I can run faster now (kudos to Lee Saxby for teaching me the new running form) or the racing crowd at 5 Peaks has grown much bigger and therefore there is a broader range of runner speeds, or both. I don't care which, really. It was AWESOME to run that course and very motivating passing people as it really hasn't happened to me that often in my racing experience.
In addition, the Bare-Grips were an AWESOME shoe for the race. I had absolutely NO problems with grip or traction on even the slipperiest, thickest mud. One guy even said to me, "Those like like cleats, they're performance enhancing." To which I replied, "No, they're just shoes." I saw another racer wearing the same shoes and I asked her how she likes them and she said, "They're fantastic." I couldn't agree more.
So it was an incredible day overall. Long but still incredible. We woke up at 4:30 AM and wasn't done race stuff until 5:30 PM. It was a great course. Running was amazing fun and I had a smile on my face the whole time!