The weekend came fast and furious and I was spent! Since I was going to be racing both Saturday and Sunday, I was under strict orders by the coach to not do the Friday track workout. Stress was winning last week. I started to feel overwhelmed by the idea of participating at the World Track and Fields and stubbornly decided to not listen to the coach and do the 400M repeats with my team.
Many who follow my posts, knows what happens when I don’t listen. My coach often reminds me “Even Wonder Woman needs to rest.” In my head some days, I think Wonder Woman is a slacker. Why I thought I could do 400M repeats and then complete a full weekend of racing is completely beyond me. So this is what happened next.
I finished the 400M repeats, feeling mostly good, but pretty thirsty. I headed straight for the fizzy drink section of the grocery store and bought several bottles of Kambucha, because at the time, this made sense.
I drank these bottles and went to bed. The next morning, well I was feeling a little unsettled. Coffee will fix everything, so I got my coffee, jumped in my car and headed for the First of the 5peaks race in Ontario at Terra Cotta conservation area. I met Jess and we went for a slow warm up. My legs felt tired, weird; my stomach felt toxic, pretty odd. The race started and 3km in my stomach was complaining. I was pretty sure at the pace I was holding I was going to vomit, so I slowed up a bit and instead of going on to run the 10km race, I decided to run the 5km race. Pretty sure I was behind everyone, I learned, I was 1st to finish. Well I accidentally won a 5km, but my stomach was not impressed. I let it settle for a bit then saw Jess across the field and decided I would run easy with her (she was not at all racing). The rest of the run was so much laughing and mud up to our knees. I was happy I made the call to cut the race short and realized in order to complete my goal in August; I can’t pull these jackass moves with my coach.
Lesson: Kambucha is not a good pre-hyrdating drink for any sport let alone trail running.
5peaks Race #1: Terra Cotta
The race was fantastic! There were so many new faces and the vibe was just as I remembered, a place for everyone to just have some fun. The course was, as promised muddy, but in trail running mud just means fun. Terra Cotta is the perfect entry course, It’s not overly technical and doesn’t disappoint in the elevation department. The trails are pretty open making it easier for you to get comfortable in your space. With my summer plan: train on track, recovery on trails, I’m excited that the trail season has finally kicked off. Remember if you are interested in doing any of the 5Peaks series: sign up at 5peaks.com and use my code MICHELLE for a discount.
After the 5peaks race, Jess and I had to head to the Paris to Ancaster expo to pick up our race kits for Sunday’s bike race. This was in itself an adventure. It was here at the expo after much discussion that I decided to have a moment of sanity and bump down from the 70km bike race to the 40km race. As much as I was looking forward to doing 70km, my coach’s voice kept shouting in my head that this is not the ideal thing to do a week before a race. So with a few modifications I was in the 40km race.
Paris to Ancaster turned St. George to Ancaster:
Jess and I met at the finish and then drove our cars up to the start line. With only 30 minutes to spare we realized we were racing experts now, and come prepared for everything. Clothing was the biggest question mark for me. I don’t’ like being cold and I don’t like being hot and it was the kind of temperature that could either way. I stuck with my gut. A base layer under my Paris to Ancaster jersey, bib shorts and legs warmers. It was the perfect combo. I was never too hot or too cold. The race started and I really wanted to hang out with Jess, but I was riding a cross bike and she was riding a mountain bike; two different beasts and two very different speeds. After we got separated in the first mud shoot, my Bianchi and I started to catch some speed.
There was definitely a moment where a switch flipped and the moment of sanity was just temporary. I will admit, I got a little kamikaze. I was flying over the mud and grinding up the hills. The harder it got, the better I felt. The bianchi was amazing, and I suddenly began bonding with this bike.
Sunday was the perfect day for Paris to Ancaster, it was pretty dry, the winds were low and the volunteers were amazing. Since mud is a tradition at this course, there was of course some mud, lots of mud. In the chutes the mud was so thick, but since the chutes are short, the fun was over too quickly. The best approach for this type of mud is to pick up your bike and just run. There were a few people who kept trying to get on and ride through it, those people I saw later on trying to fix their bikes.
I continued to gain speed anxiously anticipating the last 1km climb to the finish. Out on the course I saw every kind of bike you can imagine. Fat bikes, cross bikes, mountain bikes, single speed. It was so fun to see this variety.
Let’s discuss drafting now. Every single time I have ever done this race, drafting was my only issue. DUDES!! If you are going to draft behind a small girl, take your turn at the front. Every time I noticed my speed getting heavier, I would check my shoulder and sure enough, I had a pack of guys drafting behind me. Instead of disputing this, I just picked up the pace and headed for the back of the pack in front of me.
I finally get to THE hill. I take a deep breath, determined to crush this next 1km. I get into the right gear straight away and I just start climbing. To my surprise, I’m not getting slower, I’m actually gaining speed. Instead of the courteous “on your left” command, I just started yelling, “GET OUT OF MY WAY”. I was weaving and sprinting to the top. Everyone started cheering for the Bianchi, and as I crested the hill, I smiled all the way to the finish line. Mission accomplished!
I waited on the hill to cheer some of the others, got to meet some twitter friends and push some friends to the finish. I can’t say enough how much I love this race. The finish area is the best. John the organizer has thought of it all. A bike check, a charity bike wash and even a foot wash. With my shoes caked in mud, the foot wash was my favourite part.
After a quick change of clothes, and birdbath in the sink, Jess and NEEDED coffee. We put some rumble drink in our belly to get us through the line up and then sat down to talk about how much fun we just had. Just as we were about to collect our cars, I said, you know we should just check the results. She didn’t seem to care much and I didn’t even think we had a hope in hell of winning anything, but it’s just the thing you do, to see how you placed. So we finally got some wifi and checked online at timingrace.ca and to our absolutely surprise we both placed in our age group! I actually came 4th place overall and had I known I was even that close, I would’ve actually raced! Yes we didn’t do the epic 70km race where all the elites are, but for Jess and I this was a big deal. We are runners, not cyclist. We just wanted to have fun and we both rocked a weekend of racing with huge smiles on our faces.
The weekend was like no other weekend I’ve ever had. It was exactly the way I needed to start off the race season; relaxed, smiling and with best friends. I was smart, listened to my body and learned so much about what I’m capable of and how much I love my sports and the people I get to meet because I participate.
With race season officially in full force, I have one more start line to toe next weekend. After next weekend, I get to go back to training and focusing on the main goal. I’m so excited and proud of Jess. She accomplished so much in only 7 days! Without her, this weekend would’ve been gruelling and not nearly as fun.