So coming off of a marathon PR high, what else does one do? Run a trail race, of course!

I had plans to do a couple easy runs last week but being so zapped from my race I wound up with a cold. By the time I was ready to hit the road again I was feeling pretty crappy and decided to rest a couple more days instead. It was the right call but that meant my trail race was my first run post-marathon! Oops.

It was going to be a great day first run back or not, so despite the pouring rain and my sniffly nose I dragged my still-tired marathon legs out to Golden Ears Park to do my first 5 Peaks race of the year.

I was excited for this race for many reasons:

  • It would be my friend Solana’s debut as the new BC race director for 5 Peaks
  • My other friend Marisa would be coming along and running her very first trail race
  • Practically EVERYONE I know was doing it or volunteering. Fun times.

When Marisa and I got there we bundled up in our rain coats and went off to check in and what do you know, a bunch of friends were running the registration tables. We got signed in and received our awesome limited edition 5 Peaks Buffs. Buff Canada is their new title sponsor so we gathered for a photo showing all 12 ways you can wear a buff…

Buff Canada

The package says you can wear a Buff 12 different ways but there are so may more… (Photo: Rob Shaer)

After visiting and catching up with friends we made our way into the starting chute and got ready to run. Last year when I did my first trail race I barely knew 2 people in the crowd. At Golden Ears I looked around the chute and had good friends in every direction. It was pretty cool.

Pre-race selfie with newbie trail runner Marisa!

Pre-race selfie with newbie trail runner Marisa! (and photo bomb by Melissa!)

The group was roughly divided into waves by the volunteers (pace bunny Candice and Langley friend Jen!) and group by group we headed out. From the parking lot we headed down to the edge of Alouette Lake and off into the trails. It wasn’t too long before we came across our first water crossing…

First crossing of the day, still trying to keep my feet dry...

First crossing of the day, still trying to keep my feet dry… (Photo: Rob Shaer)

I have to laugh when I look at that picture because I look so prissy balancing on the rocks. The funny thing is that seconds after Rob snapped the shot I slipped right off the rocks and into the water anyway. Let’s just say I plowed right through every crossing after that.

Being so stuffed up I wasn’t feeling terribly energetic but Marisa and I were keeping a good pace. It felt great to be out running again after a week of rest and the Golden Ears trails are just lovely. Not terribly technical but the moss under the trees was really pretty.

I love how the mossy ground just glows under the trees even on a gloomy day like this was

I love how the mossy ground just glows under the trees even on a gloomy day like this was

For the most part the route was pretty flat. Kind of undulating, a few inclines but pretty good running. Marisa and I kept going and I dictated our stops by when I either felt like a drink or needed to blow my nose! We eventually got to a point where the sport and enduro courses split and sadly, the sport course I was doing went straight up a big hill! Yuck.

We started to climb and it wasn’t so bad. However, that darn hill just never seemed to end! It got steeper and less steep in spots but it just kept going and going. I hear the enduro course had a much worse climb so I really shouldn’t complain but let’s be honest here, my pos-marathon legs didn’t like this part.

What better way to break up a big climb than take a picture!

What better way to break up a big climb than take a picture! (Click to see the whole pic!)

The hill eventually ended and we carried on. I gave up on trying to keep my feet dry because we had run through quite a few muddy sections and many more crossings. I had to encourage my friend to jump on in though and she eventually did!

C’mon Marisa, just run through it!

C’mon Marisa, just run through it!

It’s always hard to jump in and get your feet wet the first time on a trail run but once you do, the mud and the crossings are a big part of the fun! In fact, the cold water felt kind of refreshing later in the run when I was getting hot and tired.

Two thumbs up for wet feet!

Two thumbs up for wet feet! (Click to see the whole picture)

For the most part I felt pretty good through this whole run (except for that darn hill climb which made even my tummy feel yucky). I went in without any major goals, which is typical for me at trail races. Yes, I want to improve and get better on the trails but at this stage of my trail running ‘career’ my main goal is to just finish without getting hurt. I was hoping to finish higher than my 3rd-from-last-place I bagged a couple times last summer and I felt pretty certain I’d at least done that.

Rob takes the best race photos… (Photo: Rob Schaer)

Rob takes the best race photos… (Photo: Rob Shaer)

All of a sudden we popped out of the bush and found ourselves back at Alouette Lake. Marisa pulled ahead for a sprint to the finish but I just carried on and enjoyed seeing my friends at the finish line.

Buffy the Trail Slayer is the new 5 Peaks mascot this year...

Buffy the Trail Slayer is the new 5 Peaks mascot this year…

Official results say I finished in 1:06:40 which I was definitely happy with. Turns out I wasn’t 3rd-from-last this time either, more like a cool 71st-from-last so that was pretty cool too. I’ve loved my last place finishes just as much as my PRs but it’s always nice to see improvement since the only person I ever compete with is myself anyway.

I was happy to see that Mountain Equipment Co-op was there with chocolate milk after the race, however, I forgot my cup so had to wait a little while to have some. Oops. Kudos to 5 Peaks for going green at the start/finish line but boo to Nikki for forgetting her cup.

Chocolate milk, my favourite!

Chocolate milk, my favourite!

This turned out to be such a fun day with so many friends (old and new) and I’m so glad I got to be there for Solana’s first big event as race director of this awesome trail series. Last year I tagged along with Solana to a 5 Peaks event and now here we are and she runs the whole she-bang. Crazy. I think we’re in for a pretty exciting year ahead and I can’t wait to run and volunteer at more of these fun events.

Good job Solana!

Good job Solana!

Do you have 5 Peaks trail races in your area? Have you ever run one?

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  1. Leigh    

    Congratulations on a great race especially so close to your marathon!

    1. slowfastnik    

      Thanks Leigh! My legs totally didn’t feel like doing it but I’m glad I did. It’s hard not to have fun splashing through mud and rivers!

  2. patti schmidt    

    I only discovered your blog a couple of months ago. I really have enjoyed your story and race updates. Congratulations on your BMO results. You sure have a lot of positive energy, you are always smiling. But I also appreciate your honesty you don’t seem to sugar coat your experiences. I am quite new to road running and I am looking forward to attempting my first trail run next month at Alice Lake. I will probably take your place in the almost last category :).

    1. slowfastnik    

      Thanks so much Patti, that means a lot! Running is tough and a lot of hard work so I figure if I smile my way through it then it will seem a bit better on those hard days. And I always value hearing about how other people struggle (in addition to their triumphs of course) because then I don’t so feel so alone when I have crappy days. Anyhow, I hope to see you at Alice Lake! I’ll either be there running or volunteering so please try to come over and say hi!

  3. Lisa Whelton    

    Next time I will come cheer you on and take some photos of all you crazies. Trail races still terrify me. Hiking even terrifies me.

    1. slowfastnik    

      That would be fantastic! However, you do realize that if you come as far as coming out to cheer, we WILL make you run through a stream or mud puddle or something, right?

  4. Ange @ Cowgirl Runs    

    I think I’m going to have to move to Van just to take part in these awesome trail races! Amazing!!

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