My eyes are locked on my friend ahead. She’s moving at a steady pace up another $#!%&! coulee. All I want to do is stop and smell the cacti (i.e. catch my breath) but there’s no time to take a knee.
It’s the final day of our somewhat spontaneous two-day training camp in Lethbridge. When Rachel Crocker and I signed up for the Lost Soul 50K, we planned to make tracks on the course before the big day in September.
I’m the type of runner who likes to visualize running on the course.
By knowing what’s in store I am able to zone out and simply run. That’s my mental strategy going into any race. Reading course maps online mean nothing to me. My sneakers need to touch the dirt.
Rachel lives in Okotoks so we often meet in West Bragg Creek to train for our various races. It’s a bit of a drive but the scenery makes up for the time behind the wheel.
Rachel is a powerhouse runner who is always cleaning up in 50+ age group in the 5 Peaks trail races. I am lucky to train (and try to keep up) with her.
However, my pal is slightly anxious about the race.
I don’t blame her because I have been whining about my 2014 race for the last two years.
Chances are if you have run with me, you have heard about the scorching heat, the relentless coulees and especially my puking episodes.
It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for the fall ultramarathon.
Last weekend, we met in Lethbridge — exactly two months out before the September 10th ultramarathon.
It was perfect timing.
I needed that extra push out the door as my training days and motivation begins to dwindle.
Most runners will tell you it’s easy to let your training slide when the race day is months away. Excuses and justifications come easy.
Running the same routes or attacking the same workouts can get seriously boring. Life gets in the way. I can always make up for lost training (Um …. not an option).
I was really looking forward to taking in parts of the Lost Soul course again. Most of it is a complete blur.
We lucked out in finding local runner Greg Dyck who acted as our trail guide. Greg is an accomplished ultra runner who jumped at the chance of showing two out-of-towners around his trails.
We ran/hiked/crawled on roughly 35K of the 53K route over two days. (Yes it’s called a 50K race but there’s a “bonus” 3K thrown in for good measure.) Part of the route is on private land, which is only accessible on race day.
Extra push? Got it in spades.
Running in the heat and the steep coulees was challenging but I didn’t feel like the race would be impossible to finish.
I will finish and I have a time goal, which is different from Rachel, who simply wants to finish.
My training has been going well. (Knock on wood). I’m not injured. My running is consistent and I feel strong.
Our mini-training camp answered one key question.
Yup, I still have work to do.
But I will trust in my training and the belief that hard work pays off in the end.
That’s all we can ever do, right?
Find Running with Rhyno on Facebook and @CrystalRhyno on Twitter. Send your column ideas, photos and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.