3 minutes from a Plaque

Ran the 29k Seaton Trail today.


I knew it was suppose to rain, but when I drove into the school
parking lot (after a wrong turn, regardless of the fact that I’d been
here 2 weeks earlier, ugh) it was pouring rain. I guess long tights
and sleeves was a good idea.
It was 4 degrees, pouring rainy and really windy. Fun fun fun.


I ran in the building to get registered. Then I wondered around
chatting with people trying to decide whether to take my pack or not.
I really didn’t want to be carrying a pack that would be soaking wet
in 5 minutes and just weigh me down.


Saw this guy sitting on the floor, looking a little lonely. So I said
“Got the game face on, eh.” He laughed and we began to chat. He is a
roadie and was doing this for training for the Mississauga 1/2
marathon. I’m sure he was kinda kidding. Anyway, he had me convinced
not to take the pack. And I told Justin if I dehydrated it would be
his fault.


On my way to the car I saw Brian (a mudpuppy I did the measured course
with 2 weeks ago), and he too said don’t take the pack.


So I dropped the pack off in the car and headed back to the building
for shelter before the race.


Announcements were done inside and then we headed out to the field.


Shiver, shiver….Go!
And we were off. Well, Justin, Brian and Dave Hitchon and a load of other people were off. I
set my eyes on a women ahead of me wearing blue. That only lasted
less than 2k.


At 2.5k I got to the river crossing with Brian. It wasn’t as high as
I thought. My feet did feel like pins and needles after but only for
10 seconds or so. Brian and I stuck together for a couple of


The first 20 minutes for some reason felt like 3 hours. Luckily that
feeling didn’t last and I settled into my own pace and enjoyed the
mud, rain and scenery.


Through the twists and turns, ups and downs I ran a good steady tempo.
I noticed a female in a white jacket running behind me. It didn’t
really push me to go harder. I knew I had a lot more to go and needed
to keep it steady.


Got to the first aid station. Hollered, “Number 235, in and out.”
The Brit and New Zealander I met at the bike show were volunteering
yelled, “Looking strong.” And I felt it.
I was really all smiles. Yelling encouragement to runners and lots I
knew by name as they did the 50K, Kathy, Chetan, Chris (High Park
Running Room marathon coach). I was having so much fun.


Crossed the bridge and headed towards the next aid station. That is
what was in my head each step was small goals. Get to the aid
station. I think reading “Running for My Life”, by Ray Zahab inspired
me a little. 🙂


More trees, mud, hills and fun until I ran through the playground to
the second aid station. At this point I needed a gel. Had one and
downed a cup of e-load and water and run off. White jacket was there
and 1/2 way through her gel gunned it when she saw me running. Oh
dear, I thought there is gonna be a chase. It started to push me a
bit and kept my tempo up, but steady.


This was the last 3.5k to the turn around point. One big up and then
a couple small downs or stairs and flat to the turn around.
As I was running I started to notice some of the lead 29kers heading
back. I started to notice the females turning back and realized I was
in 3rd. Only could I hang on to it. I kept getting ahead of white
jacket during the downs and flats, but she always managed to catch up
on the ups. Unfortunately, in these conditions my downs weren’t as
strong as they usually are. Oh well just try and keep it.


Got to the turn around point got some water and headed back. I
couldn’t see white jacket behind me so felt good. But knew I had to
keep it up if I wanted third. I be honest I could taste it. I really
wanted this. I never win races like this. Granted I’m new to the
sport, but I just never thought I could be competitive. I go out to
enjoy the trails, the people and just to finish. But now I had a
shot. I tried not to think about it or else I would jinx it.


Just around that moment I started up a set of stairs on my way back
and from the top the stairs I heard, “Good race.” I looked up and
saw Funderstorm. That gave me some encouragement to keep pushing.


Then I caught up to and passed Justin and Brian both walking the
trail. I gave them a little peep. I know how that helps but tried to
keep my lead, as small as it was on 3rd place.


Got to the bridge and the playground. Grabbed and eload as white
jacket caught up and started eating a gel. I decided against my gel
and started running. The chase was on.
But after about a 2k I could feel myself slowing. Damn, I should have
taken a gel.


I kept thinking could I strike an alliance with her like on survive.
Could we make a pact to cross the finish line together. Then I
thought she may not even realize we are racing for third. As I was
mulling this strategy over in my head white jacket caught up, and
said, “Why don’t we run together. For safety.” I didn’t quite
understand the safety part. I felt pretty safe. But I was intrigues
and now had an opening, so I said with a smile, “Why don’t we just
cross together?”
She said, “We could. I don’t care about the being in third.” Ah, so
she did realize were gunning for third.
She went on, “I’m not competitive. You can have it. But it is a
race. And you pass me on the flats anyway. So why don’t we stick
together until the creek crossing and than race. I know we are
racing, but I don’t want to race now.”


So we stuck together. Chatted a bit. Her name is Sara.
This chatter started to wear me out more than her. She noticed,
commented and we stopped chattering. Expect for shouts of
encouragement I never talk when I run. Just never built the skill.
Maybe I should start.


At this point I had slowed down. Whether is was the chatter, not
pushing to get a bigger lead or just plain fatigue, I don’t know. But
I was just able to keep 2-3 strides ahead of Sara.


At the last aid station Justin had caught. He looked good, but tired.
He joked that the trail was kicking his butt as he sucked down a gel.
That was the last I saw of Justin. No he didn’t die. His tail will
be told at the end.


Last 7.5k to go and one really ugly, muddy climb.
At the bottom of the climb about 5k from the finish, I found Brian
again and lost Sara. I don’t blame her, if I could have run that
climb I would have, but I had to walk it. My lower back start to kill
and my gut went nuts. I felt like I had to take a serious dump. I
know TMI.
I tried like heck to catch up on the flats, but couldn’t keep it up.
My dream of a third place finish was gone. But I was still racing my
race. So off I went at my best pace.


That’s when I saw the lime green lady that was in first. She was
walking. What?
Could I be in third. Seriously, I was stoked. Although, I coudn’t
move any faster, and no way could catch Sara. I just wanted to make
sure no passed me before the end.


Crossed the creek. It was higher and so much faster than 3+hours ago.
2.5km to go. I chatted to the volunteers and almost fell in the
water. New Rule. No talking during water crossing.


Brian was with me and said 1k left. It felt good to know that, but
that was one long kilometer. My legs were filling tight. I could feel
an inch of mud inside my shoe, which felt like I was carrying cement.
I wasn’t so smiley during that last kilometer until I hit the field
and heard the cowbell.


I got to the top and the end was a run around the track. Seriously. Too funny.
Sara run up to me, “Sorry I didn’t wait at the creek crossing, my
husband caught up to me. We are only about a minute apart.” (We were
actually 3 minutes apart I found out later).
“No worries.” I said, “I had a great running and pushing with you.
It was great!”


I finish my loop of the track and got to the finish only to Andrew
Reeder waiting for Funderstorm to come back from here 29k run. Andrew
gave me a shot of ginger ale. Oh joy! I love seeing a friendly face
at the end of the race. It just makes it all worth.


I left it all out there. I couldn’t even run to the car.


The amount of mud in my socks was ridiculous. Felt good to be clean,
warm (relatively, I was still chattered a bit) and fed.


There were some causalities though. Once I got my change of clothes
from the car and ambulance came. Apparently another racer saw this
racer only wear shorts, leaning on a tree. The guy said was okay, but
clearly he wasn’t. It was close to the finish so the guy finished his
race, told the volunteers to get help, while he grabbed an emergency
blanket and went back for the guy. Wonderful!


As for Justin. Well I was about to leave, when I realized I hadn’t
seen Justin. So I went back to the cafeteria where the results were
being posted and saw a DNF by his name. What? I asked the guy next
to me and he said Justin went home in the ambulance. Michael Buble’s
doppleganger when home in an ambulance. I couldn’t believe he motored
the first half. Goes to show steady is important, just like Brian
told me in the beginning of the race.


At that I saw that I was in third for the female category. So I
stayed for the awards.


Unfortunately, although they called my name plagues only go to the top
2. I was 3 minutes away from a plaque.


But I am pretty happy with the finish.
It may not have been the time I was hoping for, but I was just hoping
to finish and this was even better.


I must say I love trail running. I smile…almost…the whole
time, and the people you meet are always the kindest more encouraging
I am sure that is what draws me most.

I am just so happy about this race.   Maybe it was just the field of people out there or the weather.  Who knows.  But for me to even come close to the top is so encouraging.  I do AR and trail races because I love being out there, but never thought and not until today have ever been near the top.

At least I can say it happened once.  🙂


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