(Written Sunday, February 3rd)
I just got home from my best run in a long time. This morning after dropping Keith off at the airport I headed out to the West Bragg Creek day use area to log some km’s.
West Bragg is this awesome area right on the edge of Kananaskis country with about 50 km of cross country ski trails and 50 km of snowshoe/hiking trails. There is a nice big parking lot separating the two so that walkers don’t trample the ski trails, and even though there isn’t always great snow there, there is always someone out enjoying the area. It’s also only about 60km outside of Calgary which makes the area nice option when you don’t want to spend 2+ hours in the car in order to get to Canmore/Banff/Lake Louise etc.
When I got there I was the fifth car in the parking lot. I got my shoes on and loaded up my pack and hit the Telephone Loop – a 16 km snowshoe loop (in runners). It was +4C (holy smokes – awesome for February!) and the snow was just softening up. At the beginning the trail was well packed but by about 3 km it was a slog. Sinking in every single step is hard, but I was determined to forget about how fast I was going and just enjoy the beautiful scenery.
While it’s not quite full on mountains, West Bragg is definitely in the ‘bigger’ foothills, so there is lots of rolling and you never quite feel like you’re on the flats. Over the course of the 17 km that I did I climbed about 500 metres in total.
With about 4km to go I decided to change my course and head up a different trail that went up and up and up until there was very little snow on the ground. And I had an epiphany! You know how over the last couple of months it has seemed like running is so hard? Like every single run (even when it’s short) has taken so much effort but even still it’s nearly impossible to meet speed targets and time targets? Well I remembered why!
When I hit the first patch of snow-less-trail I thought it was a fluke. Everything got easier for the couple of minutes I was on dirt, but I thought for sure that it was just a matter of it being flat or something. But sure enough patch after patch after patch I hit I sped up! Just like in those videos games where you hit the thing that fires you ahead really fast! (Ok, can you tell I can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve played video games?). It was so awesome!!!
I guess in my head I knew how hard it is to run in snow, even when it’s just snow on pavement, but my heart didn’t really believe it. I’ve been really struggling with my training lately having trouble getting it all in, feeling more tired than usual and just in general being frustrated with running. But I finally totally believe that the snow does in fact slow me down and that I can stop beating myself up about it! On this run it was particularly obvious as I was averaging about 7 minutes per kilometre (8 km and hour) and normally on my long runs I average about 11km an hour.
It was such an epiphany and I felt really spoiled running on dirt even if it was just for about a kilometre or so. When I got back to the parking lot, I was so surprised. As I was coming down a really muddy/icy hill that was taking all of my attention, I could hear some voices and figured that there were a few more people who had arrived at the trails. Boy was I wrong. There must have been over 100 cars in the parking lot!!! Snowshoers, skiers, bikers, hikers, and even a horse! It was madness! And so so so amazing to see! It warms my heart when I see other people out enjoying the weather and the beauty of our world and this number blew me away.
So I guess I can’t really Bragg anyways, because so many other people were out there too;)!