Earlier this season I signed up for the i2P trail event at Lac Philippe, and selected the 23km course. I also coerced a friend, Emma, to come with me. A lot of coercing it took, and the morning of the race, as fear and doubts fastened her feet to her driveway, I had to practically kidnap and force her into the car.
When we arrived, I had the sinking feeling we showed up for the wrong race. As I looked around sheepishly, I realized this was certainly a different breed of people than one would sight at triathlon or half marathon. First, I was awe-struck by the physical presence of Dave McMahon, Lise Meloche, and Ray Zahab. I mean, these guys have hundreds of thousands of kilometres of trail running under their belts. They rank up there with superheroes and Greek Gods. And second, it seems we did not have the proper attire. If one wishes to at least look the part, one must know what to wear. Hopefully this saves someone else the embarrassment:
1) Camel Pack hydration system;
2) Any type of colourful, cool-looking shirt that says something about trail running;
3) Knee-high compression socks;
4) Flashy trail running shoes;
5) A normal amount of body hair – including beard (culture shock for me, as I am used to the absence of body hair on the triathlete male species); and
6) A bandana.
We were warmly greeted by the organizers. We checked in, got our printed maps and directions, and waited for Dave’s instructions. And off we went. And how exhilarated and free I felt while running through the woods. Emma was no longer with me, she chose the 15km course. As I ran along I realized that this is what my soul had truly been aching for. The feel of soft ground under my feet, the quietness of nature, the fresh air filling my lungs. At some point during this state of bliss I lost sight of the group ahead of me. The group behind me hadn’t caught up. I came to a fork. The thought of becoming some hungry bear’s morning snack crossed my mind. Pulled out my map and directions. “You can’t get lost!” said Dave earlier during his welcome speech. Haha, sure. Map says to keep right at this particular fork. Off I go.
Ok so I lied. I didn’t really run the full 23km course. My Garmin indicated that I only covered 22km. I somehow got lost on the way back, found a shortcut, made it to Breton Beach, and saved myself a kilometre. How? I have no idea. But this I know: I revelled in every moment and, looking back, would do it again in a heartbeat. Emma was waiting for me at the finish line. Contrary to me, she completed her full 15km course without shortcuts. Grinning ear to ear, she was a different girl than the one I had picked up that morning: self-assured, and beaming with pride. We both left Lac Philippe slightly changed for the better. The only thing we regretted was not bringing a bathing suit and towel for the after-race cool down. A memorable experience for both of us.
P.S. See this link if you’re looking for photos of the event in question, courtesy of Ian Hunter.
-Elizabeth Sousa is a local runner and age-group triathlete. She is one of the ECinc-trained athletes and is seeking bigger goals next season while training pain-free and with a smile on her face!