Ultra #2 is now under my belt. And wow, was it different from Ultra #1! By different I mean WAY WAY harder.
Rundle’s Revenge is a TransRockies Event held every year at the Canmore Nordic Centre. I participated in half of the event (the first half required mountain bike skills. I’m not afraid to admit I don’t have ANY of those).
The days leading up to todays race were wet. Rain, sleet, rain, a bit of drizzle, and…oh yes, more rain. So I knew it would be muddy and I can’t say I was overly excited about that. But something I’ve learned in my training runs (including running in SNOW in June!) is that you typically get more out of the tough runs than the easy ones.
Rundle’s Revenge is 4 laps of a 12.5 loop, totalling 50km. 400m of climbing per lap. The lap set up was an interesting experiment. I wasn’t sure if I’d love it (because each lap would be familiar) or I’d hate it (because you know exactly what is left…and sometimes that’s just the worst thing ever).
The mud was certainly abundant, but hey – I didn’t sign up for this to stay 100% clean and fresh. I ended up covered in it.
Here is my race in a nutshell:
Lap 1: Usual start crowdedness. Stuck behind Guy-Wearing-Old-Spice cologne. Quite possibly the worst thing to follow in a race. Desperate push to pass: successful. Lap time: satisfactory.
Lap 2: Foot gets stuck in mud. Energy levels low. Self doubt and why-the-hell-am-I-doing-this thoughts abundant. Hiccups start.
Lap 3: Hiccups continue. Hate for running at a high. Mistake squirrel for bear (momentarily).
Lap 4: Hiccups stop. Energy returns with a vengeance. Speed through final lap and finish under predicted time. Boom.
It’s (again!) a learning experience. My final time was 6:48 and I have to say I was pretty pleased with it. My goal was to squeeze in under 7 hours and thanks to my final speedy (well…sorta speedy) lap, I managed to make that happen.
First of all, and most importantly…six months ago, it would not have even crossed my mind that I could handle nearly 7 hours of running. Not even close. My feat of finishing a half marathon under 1:45 was something I was quite proud of. It is absolutely insane to me that I can do this. And I continue to do this. It’s crazy. And I’m proud.
Secondly, this was a good lesson in recovery. My second and third laps were painful, and I contemplated stopping. I hated running, I hated mud, I hated rocks and roots. My body hurt. The hills were getting steeper as the kilometers passed. But then….lap #4. It was like I was given a completely new body. My stomach recovered (well, sort of), my hiccups went away, and I felt energized. I felt like I was flying, I passed 8 people (yes, I counted) and finished strong. I have to remember this in the future. Sometimes your body recovers if you stick it out. Sometimes it just gets better.
Finally, without sounding like an incredibly huge cheese ball….life is good. At one point – as I slugged up a long steady hill – I heard water flowing and glanced to my left: I saw a powerful river flowing by, a giant misty mountain towering over me, and nothing but greenery around me. Self-imposed suffering in these surroundings? Not too shabby.