On Saturday, April 25th, 2015, I participated in the Medicine Hat College Rattler Run 10km. This is the second time I have ran this event, the first being in 2013. Back in 2013, I set a personal best of 48:39. I remember being so elated at that moment of setting this time, and being able to place 1st in my division. Since then, I have been able to bring my 10 km time down to a 43:47 at the Moonlight Run in Lethbridge this past March. I was anxious to run this race in Medicine Hat, as I was familiar with the course, and hoping for another personal best.
This day also held importance to me going into the race as the 11th anniversary of my dad’s passing. When I registered for the event a few weeks prior, I knew it was fitting to be running a race on this day. I would have him in my mind all day and be running this race in memory of him. I stated on my Facebook page the day prior to the event how the event’s motto is “I Run for Me” and to promote healthy and active lifestyles for everyone. My dad lived a healthy and active lifestyle and was a fitness role model for myself, and while I would be running this race for ME, I was more so going to be running this race for HIM.
Medicine Hat is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from where I live in Lethbridge. I have driven this distance before for races, usually to Calgary though, but the unique thing about this race is that the start time is 11 am. I could sleep ‘in’ to a normal time, and still do the drive and make it to race packet pickup and warmup with plenty of time to spare. I made it to Medicine Hat College at around 10 am. Packet pickup was a breeze and it was of course great to see Randy and the crew from Racepro working the timing! I also had enough time to do a good warmup, so I headed out for a 2 mile warmup at an 8:34 average pace.
The events offered on race day were the 10 km, the 5 km and the 3 km distances. The 10 km would begin first, with the 3 km following shortly thereafter, and finishing with the 5 km runners. I was getting anxious at about 10 minutes prior to race start so I just milled around aimlessly outside doing skips and high knees. When the announcer called for the 10 km runners to assemble, about 5 minutes before start, I headed right up to the front to get in good position. I actually ended up standing next to a local runner from the Lethbridge area (Taber to be exact) Billie-Jo. She recognized me and then I immediately recognized her. It was great to chat before the race start and she left me with the words to “Go chase those boys!”
We were off and I headed out with the mindset of trying to get a 6:45-6:50 pace per mile. With my interval running I had been doing lately, I knew this was possible….if I was on flat surfaces, with no hills and no wind. I held a 1st place female position for the first mile, which took us over an overpass and onto the trail system. The trail system is VERY curvy and lots of ups and downs! The “Ups” were never that steep, and the “Downs” weren’t either, but there was enough of them to really get you! At mile 1, a female runner passed me. OK, I thought….since I was not in Lethbridge, I did not know who this runner was, so I really had no idea what she was capable of. I kept her in my sight for the next mile and I was able to overtake her by the end of mile 2. I kept telling myself to never look back, and to only wait until the turnaround to see how close she really was. I could hear her breathing pattern initially, and then when I couldn’t hear her breathing I knew I was far enough ahead, for now. I just would keep on trucking. I ran mile 1 in 6:34 and mile 2 in 7:08. I did not like that 7:08.
The turnaround was near mile 2.5 and I was still in the lead. 2nd place female was not far behind, but there was a pretty good gap between me and three. Since this next portion was just heading back on the same route, I knew what was coming ahead. It was motivating running towards other runners and seeing people I recognized from Lethbridge races. I ran miles 3 and 4 in 7:01 and 6:52.
By this time, we were back to the overpass, and instead of heading back where we started, we looped around the backside of the college. This was a very sparse area of the course, with no spectators and no other runners heading past you in the opposite direction. I knew I just needed to keep pace. There was an aboriginal gentleman who I was running behind the whole race who I caught up to, and stayed about a few steps ahead. His cadence was the same as mine, so I decided to keep with him. The crazy thing about this man, though, was he was running the event in SANDALS! Very thin sandals with a strap around the heel and then through the toes. I don’t know if he normally trains barefoot, or just always with sandals, but it was a sight to see!
I was able to keep pace for mile 5 and then I knew I wanted to kick it in for the last mile. We were heading towards people finishing the 5 km and would be hooking up with them for the final straightaway. Seeing more runners ahead motivated me and I was able to push hard for that last mile. I also never looked behind me to see where that 2nd place female was, which I will never know if that was a good thing or a bad thing….but it doesn’t really matter….because I finished ahead of her in a time of 41:30! My final two miles had been 7:03 and 6:45….it was just what I needed! I stopped shortly after the finish line and was shaking, grabbing my quads….I turned around and saw female #2 finish right after me. She was right on my tail! Turns out, my chip time only beat hers by 9 seconds! Gun time was only 12 seconds! I thought she was farther back, but apparently not. I had won the female division in the 10 km—-a first for me!
I was so excited about this win but I knew I needed to keep moving so I didn’t tighten up. I ran a 2 mile cool down at an 8:55 average pace to total my mileage to 10 miles that day. Heading back in to the college, a nice spread of post-race refreshments were set up. I immediately zeroed in on the chocolate milk and bananas! I had brought clothes to change in to, as I didn’t want to be sitting in disgusting race clothes during awards and more importantly, my drive back to Lethbridge. They held the awards in the College cafeteria, which was a great setting for the 10 km awards (which were last) but it seemed a bit crowded for the 3 km and 5 km awards, as there were a TON of young kids there and their families. It emptied out quite a bit for the 10 km awards, which made it nice for us runners, as before it was too hard to hear or see what was going on.
I sat with the Lethbridge contingency of us who were out at the race, which was nice since a few of us were called up for awards….so we had a cheering section! I first went up when they called for the 26-35 age group for women (I know, weird age groupings!) and then again at the end when they announced overall in each gender. This was my “Olympian” moment I guess, as I have never earned a 1st female overall in such a large event…I think this is my third 1st female overall ever, with the last two being from smaller 5 km races. I am also really proud that my time was a personal best….not just by a little, but by a lot. So I know personally I worked as hard as I could! If I had been able to get 1st overall with a time slower than my personal best, I wouldn’t have honestly have been as proud. Another sweet thing was the prize money—-$200!!! That cash is coming with me this weekend when I fly to Vancouver for my main event!
Would I do this event again? YES. It is extremely well organized and well worth the commute to Medicine Hat. If you are looking for a competitive 10 km, this seems to be a good one, for both the male and female divisions. This is also a unique event in that the whole family really can participate….if one parent wants to do the 10km, an older kid do the 5 km, and the other parent and small child do the 3 km, that would totally work. The registration was also very reasonable. The early bird pricing for race registration was $20 for race registration, and the late registration (after April 7th) was $30. You could also pay with cash day of for $40. This was the same price for ALL RACE DISTANCES! This did not include a shirt, however-a shirt would have cost an additional $15. The Rattler Run was in its 35th year, and I totalled the finishers in the 10km, 5km, and 3 km by looking at the Racepro.ca website- there were 754 participants. This race reminds me much of Lethbridge’s own “Moonlight Run” in that it is a “tradition.” Albeit, smaller in scale, but still recognized in the community, appreciated, and thriving. This was a great event for myself, not just because of my personal accomplishment, but because of the significance that the date April 25th holds. That date does not need to be a sad day; it needs to be celebrated. And I am more than grateful that I could celebrate by doing something my dad would have been proud to watch me do.