When I moved to Whistler back in 2012, the May long weekend was notorious for being a total gong show. High school seniors from the city (more accurately, the city’s suburbs) would come up and let loose, causing chaos around town that ranged from mild but annoying (pulling up freshly planted tulips on municipal grounds) to intense and devastating (stabbing one another to death).
However, over the past few years, the town has rallied together to make the weekend more family friendly and less, well, murdery, through GO Fest, i.e. the Great Outdoors Festival.
One of the activities during this year’s GO Fest was the Whistler Valley Trail Run. This is a small, community-oriented 5k and 10k race through the trails of Lost Lake. The race has been going on for something like 26 years, but I think this is the first time it’s been part of GO Fest.
I actually ran the race back in 2013. At the time, I wasn’t much of a trail runner, but I did like to get out and run the roads. I remember that at about 5 different points in the course, I thought I was rounding the final corner – but the course just kept on going and going. I ended up finishing in 57:14, which placed me at 27/51 overall and 14/31 in the women’s category.
The course has changed a little since I ran it in 2013, but I wanted to see if I could beat my time from four years ago. On the one hand, I am now used to running much more technical trails and for longer distances. The trails on this particular run are green and not very technical, so I was hoping they’d feel easy. On the other hand, I’m used to pacing myself and walking on uphills – not charging through as fast as I can, as I had been back in 2013.
The morning was perfect: sunny and not too warm yet. A small crew gathered in Ross Rebagliati Park in the heart of Whistler, and then we were off.
Unlike my race last weekend, I was running this one solo. For some reason, I felt kind of nervous – and the feeling lasted all the way through to the end of the race. I was even nervous crossing the finish line. Why?!?!
The first 2.5 k were pretty low key on a wide, relatively flat trail along Lost Lake. I tried not to book it because I knew it was still early in the race. Then, the 5k runners split off and the 10k runners ran some more mellow trails to the turnaround point by the disc golf course. The course was very well marked with pink ribbon flags and volunteers at key intersections.
After we hit the disc golf course, the trails got narrower and a little more fun to run. The third quarter of the race varied between flat and gentle (totally runnable) uphills, then it was flat and downhill for the last few k.
My goal was to run as quickly and consistently as I could without burning myself out. I haven’t actually tried to run 10k fast and non-stop since my marathon training last summer/fall, but I have done some speed type workouts on the treadmill, so I was hoping that would sustain me. I tried channeling my competitive spirit, which is virtually non-existent because I am a very non-competitive person. I had a little back and forth going with another girl – she was faster on the uphills, but I had her beat on the downhills. I had a bit of a lead on her towards the end, but the course took us slightly uphill back to the finish and she passed me within the last 500m. She ended up beating me by 11 seconds.
But my real competition wasn’t with the random girl – it was against myself, circa 2013. DID I DO IT?
No – I crossed the finish line in 59:56.8, putting me at 30/43 overall and 18/25 women. Although it was satisfying to have sneaked in under the one hour mark, I was disappointed at having run the race almost 3 minutes slower than I had four years back. But I really did give it my all, and I felt totally spent at the end. My legs are even a little sore today!
Now I have some motivation to pick up my legs a little faster on my trail runs. 2018 Magee is going to come back with a vengeance – I feel it.