Tag Archives: trailbreaker

“Run the Trailbreaker” Recap

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Back in 2013, I “Ran the Trailbreaker” when I was home for Easter.  It was the start of my racing season, with my ultimate goal being completing the Dopey Challenge in January 2014.  I was surprised at that race when I beat my former personal best, running a 1:52.53.  Little did I realize at the time (I am still realizing it now) that this race lit some fire under my feet and I’ve been pushing ever since.

It was great to be back for Easter in Wisconsin this year, and even better that the Trailbreaker fell on the same weekend I would be leaving.  While I knew catching my flight would be tight, I still signed up for the 9:30 am half marathon start.  What was even better was that two of my close friends, Melissa and Gretta, would be running also!  I was able to meet up with them the night before the race, back in our childhood homes, but also got to see them race morning.

The week of Easter was actually pretty nice weather.  However, Wisconsin weather has a mind of its own and it decided that a snow/sleet/hail/rain combo at barely above freezing would be smart.  Thanks a lot!  So, race morning was less than desirable.  I have admitted before I actually like running in the cold…but the rain and wind and then slushy melting snow on the paths is nothing close to fun.

before race

Looking out to my mom’s driveway at 8 am race morning

I really didn’t know what to expect from this race, as I had eaten and drank too many Wisconsin indulgences over the course of me being home.  In my mind, I had a lose goal of breaking 1:40.  (My personal best is a high 1:35, which I ran last year at the Calgary Hypothermic Half).  I ran a mile warm up and realized it would be slippery.  I knew I didn’t want to fall or do anything stupid, which would then ruin my ability to run in Boston, so I thought that maybe just taking it easy and being in the mid 7:30s-7:50s may be best.  Either way, 9:30 hit and I was off.

group pic inside

Staying inside before the last minute of race start with Melissa & Gretta!

hail in eye

Immediately after the National Anthem, we shot this gross selfie.  Note the hail in my left eye.  Gross

The first mile wound us through downtown Waukesha and then we were eventually on some pathways.  The bridges were so slippery!  Almost every picture that was taken catches me looking down on a bridge as I was scared to fall.  It is an out-and-back course, that takes us on to part of the Ice-age trail.  For it being a nasty day out, and a relatively small race, there was still great support from both friends, family and volunteers.  Lots of volunteers were located at any and every confusing intersection or turn.  The first 7 miles there were always a handful of runners around me, either passing, me passing, or us interchanging positions.  I ran respectable times of 7:30, 7:52, 7:51, 7:56, 7:47, 7:48 and 7:50.

By this time the turnaround was near…or maybe I had hit it.  Either way, I knew I was third female, but 4 and 5 weren’t far behind.  The way back was going to be much easier, in theory, as the sun was starting to try and come out and the wind would be with us.  I started realizing I had gas left in the tank and I may as well push and get this thing done.  I did have a plane at 3:00 pm to catch after all!

cold AF

Yes, I run in pink socks as much as possible!  My feet were soaked here.

I started pushing, and slowly my splits started getting near to where my goal half marathon splits are.  I held on to 3rd female, and even passed a few males in the process.  I ran miles 8-13 in 7:24, 7:29, 7:31, 7:19, 7:23, and 7:37!  This was the reverse of my disaster back in September at the Lethbridge Police Half, where I went out very fast and had a near meltdown in the river bottom!  And the best part of this was that I ran a 1:39.37!  3rd female out of 98, 2nd in my age group out of 17, and overall I was 11th out of 168!  

I didn’t have much time to rest, as I really did have to get on the messy roads and drive the 35 minutes back to my mom’s house.  My whole body was shaking, and some weird muscles in my leg that I didn’t know existed kept twitching.  Either way, I was beyond pleased.  I hit my goal time, I ran negative splits, I was able to see my good friends, my ailing foot held up fine, and I was able to run in my home state of Wisconsin.  A fine way to end the Easter Holiday! 

race swag

Southern Alberta Summer Games 10 km Recap

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As a teacher, I have summers off. But every summer even since I was a kid, my summers consisted of family vacations, going to camp, working at camp, and then going on my only vacations with my friends and my husband. I usually take off quite a bit during the summer, so my training plans fall through, and I never stay consistent with my running. I mean, two years ago I went to Disney World for 16 days….in August….how was I going to keep a stable running routine while there?

Summer 2015
…turns out I am not flying anywhere, or doing much of anything. No week long trips home, no gigantic trips to Disney, no nasal surgeries, no binging in Newfoundland….nothing. So I needed to keep a training plan and have some goals to keep me motivated. My training plan from Dean (who did my Vancouver Marathon plan!) has me training for a pipe-dream time at the Disneyland 10km Labour Day weekend of 40:30. I need a challenge, might as well shoot high?! I had ran a 41:30 in the Rattler Run 10km back in April (right at the peak of my marathon training) so this seemed within reach.
In the midst of my training calendar I had the Southern Alberta Summer Games 10km race, which was held on Wednesday, July 8th. I had heard about the event from a friend, Danny, and he has done different running and cycling events in prior years. The one thing we have in common, other than running, is that we are adults. Why does this matter! Well, in my head I just always picture these provincial summer games to be for middle-college aged kids…not me. But, sure enough, they have age categories every 10 years up to 60+. The event would be held in Claresholm (45 minute drive) and since I am a teacher and have no work on a Wednesday morning in July at 9:45 am, I figured signing up was a good way to spice up my training routine!
Now, I said I wasn’t going anywhere or “doing anything” this summer. Sort of a lie. My Wisconsin mom is currently here and six days into her three week visit. I had also thought this would be fun for her to come watch, as she hasn’t been to many of my events before. I wrote about my first half marathon she ever came to here, where I did the Trailbreaker Half in Waukesha, Wisconsin, during Spring Break 2013. This would be a good day outing for us. I didn’t really know what to expect with this race, not the same way as I do with others. She asked me the night before “how many people are in it? How many are in your age group?” I was totally left in the dark. When you do a summer games event, in particular when you do a solo summer games event, it appears you don’t know who is showing up until you show up yourself.
We headed out to Claresholm at 7:30 am. My event wasn’t slated to start until 9:45, but registration would begin at 8:00 am. My first comment to the organizers is that they should have had the 10km be the first event. It was supposed to be a mass start of the 2.5/5/10km all at 9 am, but a week or so ago I noticed on the site it was changed to the 2.5 km beginning at 9 am and then the 5/10 km beginning at 9:45. A 9:45 am start for a 10km in early July? Eeeeee…..that makes me nervous.

Arrived and was happy to see Randy and crew from Racepro as the official timers!
Yay! I went and checked in, received my race number and timing chip, and then I had plenty of time to relax and warm up. Saw my Lethbridge School District cohort Todd on site as a volunteer. He informed me that the route for the 10km would start as paved road but for about 2km you would be a fresh gravel.  Also met up with my friend Danny, the one who told me about the race.  He would be doing the 5km.



I had peaked at the entry list numbers just to take a look at how many were in my 30-39 female category. There was a number 4 listed there. Ok. I got this. We lined up at 9:45 for the mass 5km and 10km start. The weather felt comfortable standing at this point, with a slight breeze, but I could tell the heat was hiding. We started and I felt strong my first mile, settling in to a 6:45 mile one. Right on where I wanted to be. Then, we had turned onto the never ending rural road. This was still paved but it was one of those cases like when you are on the Vegas strip and you say “it’s right there….it’s just a short walk!” And it isn’t. I slowed my second mile split to a 7:03. Still in a good place.
The 5km runners had already hit their turnaround so now it was me and a high school kid in the middle of this country road. He was slightly ahead of me and I drafted right behind him. At the turnaround for the 10km, Todd was handing out water, which I took, but slightly slowed down. He yelled at me to catch that kid. So, I drank the water (oh man it tasted so good) and kept my eye on this kid. As we ran back on the same route that took us out to the turnaround, I counted all the people behind us. There were only 11 other runners. So 13 total. Small turnout indeed. The shade on this course was non-existent, and the gravel made my feet feel like they were sinking. It was pretty fresh gravel, so there were not any substantial tire tracks sunk in. I kept weaving back and forth trying to find a track to run on, but really just got stuck kicks up more gravel. My mile 3 & 4 times were 7:15 and 7:39. I was going downhill, figuratively.

At approximately mile 4 I did gain enough ground on the teenager and passed him. As much as the heat and terrain were getting to me, I think it was getting to him worse. I steadily increased my distance from him the last two miles of the race, despite having no “rabbit” in front of me to go after. And also, despite my last two mile splits being slower than some of my full marathon splits in Vancouver. I ran mile 5 & 6 in 7:49 & 7:45. I finished in a time of 45:55.

They did the award presentation about 25 minutes later, after the final 10km runner finished. There turned out to be only 2 people in my age category in the end. I also saw a bunch of race bibs not picked up. I wonder how many people were supposed to be in the event? I picked up my gold medal and got a picture with Danny, who also earned gold in his male 30-39 category of the 10km running a time of 19:32. His goal was for under 20 so that’s awesome!



Would I do the Southern Alberta Summer Games again?
Depends. Location makes a difference. I wouldn’t drive all the way out to Medicine Hat for it, but 45 minutes or less sure. They really don’t advertise the event well at all or promote it. It would be very easy for the organizers to make a single page brochure to place in race bags at local Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and area races.  Really, as far as the City of Lethbridge team goes, they just need to not just focus on the elementary schools, but other area athletic organizations who have athletes 18 years or older.  So, not just running….but biking, basketball, etc.  The City of Lethbridge is the biggest in Southern Alberta so there is no excuse as to why we shouldn’t have the most competitors, points, and medals in these games! I’m at the point now that when I run races, I need to be pushed, so the low entry numbers was huge negative.  I’m not confident enough that I can just cruise at a my fastest race pace every time if there is not someone  for me to chase after.  I also wish the start time was earlier for the 10km. July has been ridiculously hot and we are fortunate it wasn’t any worse this morning. I know they have to make sure things don’t overlap with any of the track events happening, but I wish there was a way to make this an earlier start.

So yes, I finished the race first.
But with a less than stellar time. Between the heat, no shade, gravel, small field of runners, and how early it is in my training….I should just be happy with how I did. And I pretty much am. It puts it all into perspective on how trusting your training makes a difference, and that training works. I trained for 16 weeks for Vancouver Marathon and set a new personal best in a 5km, 10km, half and then full when I qualified for Boston at that very race. I kept trucking through the month of May and capped it off with my first ever 50km. Took two weeks off and am now back in the grind, in a way starting from one of the very bottom steps. This just means I have more work to do in order to be where I want to be.