Rainbows and Unicorns: 2013 23km at Squamish 50 recap

If you’ve read my ramblings for any length of time you have probably noticed that I’m terrible at recapping events within a suitable amount of time. Sometimes it’s because I’m lazy. Sometimes it’s because I’m busy. Sometimes a race is too personal of an experience to really want to share (ahem, Ragnar Northwest Passage). However, I’m a firm believer in “better late than never”. Now is as good a time as any to recap my experience at the 2013 23km Squamish 50 race.

Fair warning now: this is a long point-form brain dump!

1. Colin and I both ran the 23km race. It was highly recommended to not let this be your first trail race. It was our 2nd. And about twice as long as the first…
2. The sunrise along the Sea to Sky highway was really pretty.
3. We made a pit stop at the McDonalds in Squamish before finding parking/shuttle. We lost each other between the car and the bathrooms. And wasted time never being in the same spot at the same time.
4. Drove out to the race parking lot and assumed that we were in the correct spot judging by all the other cold runners standing around.
5. Bus trip to start was a bit disorganized, but zero race expectations equals no stress. Eventually got on bus – which is WAY more fun as a kid when 3 to a row isn’t insanely squished – and chatted with a few other people. I think they were from Texas.
6. Bus got lost. Should have gone straight at roundabout to Quest University. A left meant a really tight three point turn!
7. Immediately got into portapotty line. PB4UGO!
8. Made Colin take awkward selfies.
9. Tried not to freak out just before start.
10. Knowing my place, lined up at back. Still got passed immediately!
11. Yay little downhill! Crap, uphill so soon? Walk. Already.
12. Another runner asks if my Nuun tattoo on my shoulder is real. No. However, I was quite proud of my placement as I figured most people would pass on my left and therefore see it…
13. Head off road and into trail. I read trail description, but have never run there so was very thankful for LOTS of flagging.
14. Walk some more. Switchbacks! Try not to play the mind game of being too slow. Hyperventilating and running doesn’t work.
15. It’s already warm.
16. Started bunny-hopping with Dave from Kelowna, who came down with a few friends, but wasn’t running with them. We decided it was easier to just run together.
17. Attack of the mofo wasps! Like many that day we were victims of the wasps. I’m new to trail running so didn’t even think what I was feeling was a sting. I had my bib on my leg and, thinking a pin got loose, stopped to adjust it. That’s when Dave yelled that he go stung on the ankle and yelled at me to run! We sprinted for a little bit and then stopped to inspect. He flicked a wasp off his sock. I discovered that a wasp had actually flown under my bib and not only stung me, but did so twice. I later found out that the nest was virtually on the path.
18. Fire road to first aid station. Thankfully a volunteer was guiding the way and let us know not to do the extra loop the longer races had to do.
19. Could have had cream for my stings, but figured the dull pain was better than dropping my pants.
20. DOWNHILL!! One of my favourite parts of the whole race. Super fun – and probably lucky I didn’t tumbleweed down…
21. Uphill? Darn it. Walk. It’s faster.
22. Caught up to twitter friend Diana. Felt bad that I didn’t get to run much with her, but it wasn’t her day and she urged me to run ahead.
23. I think this was the clearing next. It was warm, pretty, and I had no idea where I was or what direction I was going in.
24. Played catch up with Dave. As long as I knew he was just ahead or behind I didn’t feel like I was lost.
25. Proved my “be safe” skills were warranted. Came across a girl who had fallen and hurt her ankle. She was with a couple of friends, but I left her with the foil blanket I had in my pack so she didn’t get too cold.
26. Downhill some more! Then fire road, drizzle (?), mucky road, dam (didn’t look down – it made me queasy), little uphill, gel stop due to dust cloud caused by logging truck, meander, aid station.
27. Foolishly didn’t have flat pop at aid. Thought it would mess with my stomach, but Colin said it was the best thing ever.
28. Back into the woods. Passed by a mountain biker. Meander along.
29. Hear music from Squamish Valley Music Festival.
30. Hot. Very thankful I put Nuun in my pack.
31. Pretty paths.
32. UPHILL?!?! WTF?
33. Mountain of Phlegm. Says it all. Hiked to top. Pretty sure the path up was solely so they could get good photos. Thank you, Rob, for only posting the one of me walking, not pulling a really ugly face…
34. Decided to tell Dave I’d see him at end. Shamelessly really wanted to beat him. Downhill!! A little steep, but fun!
35. Civilization aka a park/trails with people on them.
36. Passed a portapotty knowing a) I only had about 3km left and b) if I stopped I would never start again.
37. Felt a little lost. Got to highway and assumed I was going right way, but concert traffic control wasn’t hugely helpful. And very friendly lady was misinformed as she told me I had 5km left.
38. Pathway along river. Windy. Nice, but secluded. Oddly felt more uneasy being alone here than alone on trail.
39. Road. Almost done. Longest kilometre of my race.
40. Finish line! Fully expected Colin to be waiting, but I was a bit faster than I anticipated so I was yelling for him as I came in. He got a couple of pictures, but they really aren’t that good…
41. Done! 4:05:58. Probably could have broken 4 hours, but no expectations was way more fun.
42. First drink at finish: pop!
43. Got changed, drank beer – this never happens, cheered in friends (23km/50km), ate cupcakes, ate fish tacos, ate cabbage rolls (please invite them back, and ask for them to have perogies in 2014), sat, visited.
44. Dinner in Whistler with new friends. Happened upon a Mother Mother concert prior to so it was kind of a date night!

Here is why this race is one of my favourites: it wasn’t hard.

Before I catch flak for that let me explain. I have had a year of “hard” races and runs. Ones where I collapse mentally or where I feel like I’m the slowest person in the world. Races like BMO Vancouver marathon where I wanted to quit at 14km. I was quite sick and tired of having “character building” runs. The reason I had no time goals for the 23km was because I didn’t want the pressure. I knew going in that I might come in close to last. And I was fine with that.

So, yes, the 23km was physically challenging. But I had a fantastic experience and, for that reason, it wasn’t hard.

And it’s the memory of rainbows and unicorns that made me sign up for the 50km race this morning.

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