This past Saturday I carpooled with Steve, Myke, Sylvia and David to Salt Spring Island so we could run in the Burgoyne Bay 17k. I had no expectations for the run and had signed up as motivation to get me out and about. I told Steve before the run that I was just there to “run my run”.
The day was supposed to be a nice but as we sat in the truck on the ferry I could feel the cold coming in the window as other runners chatted through it. I hoped I was going to be warm enough in my Frontrunners tank top and shorts. Yes, I am still wearing summer clothes because we have been lucky to have mild temperatures this fall.
Once we arrived at the parking lot we were told by some volunteers that we had a 1km walk to pick up our race bibs. We decided instead of making multiple trips back to the truck that we would just take all of our things with us the first time. It was a nice walk through the trail and the fallen leaves. The trail we were on was also where we would be running for the start of the race. I then saw a sign that said start/finish so it looked like we were ending there as well. As Myke and I walked together we were both huffing a bit going up the hill. I justified it as we were carrying our food bank donations and all of our things so we were allowed to huff and puff. He just laughed.
We arrived at a field with some tents set up in the middle of it and I liked how simple it was. We collected our bibs and chatted with some of the other runners and volunteers. While we were waiting, I was on the verg of hangry. I had breakfast before I left the house and then even had a second breakfast of a peanut butter sandwich on the ferry ride over but it hadn’t made the cut. I was still very hungry. I didn’t have any extra food with me because I thought my second breakfast would have been enough. We were told there would be a BBQ after the run so I would eat something then. I had a GU gel and some Cliff Chews for my run but didn’t want to have gel as a “snack’. I started to worry that I wasn’t going to be fueled for my run if I didn’t get some more food. I asked Myke for a protein bar he said he had but couldn’t find it in his bag while he was out for a warm up run. I then spotted Laurie and she had her homemade chocolate cookies in a Tupperware container. She was handing out some to other runners so I went over to ask her if I could have one. She gave me one and then even a bit of her banana. I felt much better and the cookie was delish!
Before the start of the run we were welcomed to Xwaaqw’um and told a brief history of the land by one of the members of the Cowichan Nation. I took off my last warm layer, placed it on my bag and we were counted down. As we went down the first hill I could feel my heart racing and my legs felt good. I was feeling ready to race and I was happy for this. As we ran down the trail I was passed by Alex. I had seen her at the start of the race and figured she would be a fast runner.
As we made our way to the base of Mt. Maxwell the runners in front of me started walking. The terrain was a steep climb and we still 16km left to go. I followed along in a line that went man, Alex, another man and then me. On my heels was another man and then my friend Lisa. We all hiked up the mountain for about 25 minutes along the single track trail. Once we reached a flatter section of the trail I decided it was my time to break away from the pack and I made my move. I hoped I wasn’t breaking away too early but I was going to give it my best go. I had ran these trails with some other trail runners a month before so I knew some of what I was in for.
As I ran along I caught up to another guy and passed him. I said “good job” and continued on. As I made my way up the side of the mountain I came to some search and rescue guys who were setting up tents for shelter I think. One guy said to me “Your almost there!” and I laughed because at this time I was around 3km into the run. Yes, I was almost to the top but so far from the end. As I reached the top of the mountain I saw two people at the aid station and one person was Steve. He said to me “You’re a freak of nature!” He didn’t expect to see me be at the front of the pack and the lead woman. To be honest neither did I but I laughed and thought what he said was great. I actually called myself that a few times as I went through the trails. I was told that I should get a shirt that says that and I think I just might.
The trail evened out and I was running along the top of the mountain which was an area I recognized. Typically in a race I like the unknown but this time I was happy to know.
I had gone around 7 or 8km when I approached another runner. I followed along with him until the last 2km of the race. Around the 6k mark, he and I were joined by another runner as we crossed the road and ran into a field. It was almost harder to run in the field than on the trail. I could see the finish line on the other side, but we weren’t running in that direction. I had no idea where I was going to be running but followed the orange flagging. I kept pushing myself and telling myself that I wasn’t done until I crossed the finish line.
The last 6k took place on Mt. Bruce. I had never been on these trails so I didn’t know what to expect. We reached a steady climb and as much as I wanted to run it I was walking. It was steep and I could see the others ahead of me walking as well. I kept saying to myself that what goes up must go down and I was right. We reached the last aid station where we were welcomed with a dinner bell. Away I went down the hill and searching for the trail I recognized that would show me the finish line. My quads were burning with the downhill, but I was almost done. I didn’t look back and just kept pushing. As I crossed the finish line I could then say that I was the first woman. I was happy and my body is sore still three days later so I know I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
Once everyone had completed the run Dave called out our numbers at random and we each won a draw prize. I took home a package of Mt. Maxwell Coffee which I am looking forward to trying. After the draw prizes were handed out there was one last thing that needed to be done. Matt proposed to Alex. I have never been part of someone’s proposal but it was nice to see and everyone is so happy for them.
Overall I had a great day with some old friends and made some new ones. I love the running community and how they can energize and motivate you. I will be back to run this event again and I also want to explore more of Salt Spring Island.
Have you been part of a proposal before?
Are you good at running technical downhills?
Do you have a community of that energizes and motivates you?