A September of Family Races Part Twofer: 5 Peaks Trail Run & Terry Fox Run

The folks at 5 Peaks were nice enough to let me transfer my race entry for the cancelled Yeti Snowshoe race in February to a race much later in the season.  I picked the Heart Lake event (at the Heart Lake Conservation Area); this was the first year they had used this venue.

What turned out to be a beautiful day was a little tough to dress for, as the day started near single digit temperatures (in Celsius), but the sun ended up beating down to a degree that mid-way through the race I was wishing I had worn shorts.   More on my race later; first, we got both Shark Boy and the Lightning Kid to run the "Children's Challenge" which was a 1 km fun run for the little ones which took place after a timed kids event (probably for slightly older children).

The boys are both #1!

The announcer explained the course and the parents held the kids back until it was time to ready, set, go!  I ran alongside Shark Boy to keep him motivated and running the best pace he could manage, and my wife ran with the Lightning Kid to keep him out of trouble.  The course went out under the start/finish arch, across a field for a bit, then down a big hill to a clearing they called 'the bowl', where we did a small loop and headed back the same way.

Shark Boy descends the hill into the bowl.
We've got a little more work to do about teaching Shark Boy how to pace himself for distance, and he's a chip off the old block for not threatening the front runners for their podium positions, but he gave it a great effort and finished strong and out of breath and I couldn't be prouder.

Shark Boy just before the finish line.

The Lightning Kid just before the finish line.
What can I say about the Lightning Kid? He got some help from his mom on the big hill, but I don't think anyone had ever seen anyone that young and little finish a race like that, never mind with his gusto and enthusiasm.  We have Special Olympics aspirations for this one, but we'd also like him to attend as many sporting events for 'typical' kids as possible.

The brothers with their finishers' medals.
There was about a half hour break between the end of the Children's Challenge and the main race which was a Sport course (7.5 km) and an Enduro (15 km); the latter being two laps of the former.  Racers were asked to self seed themselves in waves, with the first wave being people who had a sincere chance of making top 3 overall.  From the numbers it was clear that some overestimated their abilities (or underestimated the competition), but the race announcers' hinting and chiding had little effect on cutting down the size of that first wave.  In fact, with all the joking around I somehow got it into my head that there would only be two waves, and I would be fine in the back.  After the race was over, I chatted with a guy who was keeping a similar pace than me (and identified himself as more of a 'hobby' runner - like me - than a 'serious' runner - like most of the racers).  Luckily I stood at the back of the second wave so I wasn't as big an impedance as I would have been in the front.

After the first 50 m, the trail narrowed significantly for big downhill drop and the race turned into standing in line at the movies.  We had been forewarned of this and everyone was good-natured about it - it was too soon to have any real effect on anyone's race.  Once the trail opened up a little bit, I started getting passed and as I checked my heart rate on my Garmin, I could see I needed to slow down the pace a bit.  The thing about trail races is they don't give your heart rate much of a break unless you're willing to slow down to a walk.

There were some fun 'obstacles' like logs to jump over including one you had to climb or vault (a hop would not suffice) especially early on - I loved it, but I think they still kept it within sane ranges unlike these obstacle course races that are practically masochistic in nature.  I kept getting passed though, and I began to wonder if I was in dead last when I stopped seeing people behind me for a bit.  It happens to me a little on the bike in triathlon so I don't stress out about it too much.  In fact, I had passed one or two people too.  I took a little video of the trail, if you'd like to get a feel for what the race was like.

I had noticed that the kilometre markers came earlier than my Garmin was claiming, so when 6 km was done, I decided I could try and risk it a little more and really started pushing the pace; driving my heart rate well north of 90% of max.  I passed 3 people who had a similar pace than me, but were making it look easier.  I had a feeling they could and would catch me again before the finish line... and that was when I encountered a bit of funny luck.

The trail veered left and suddenly we were basically facing a wall of dirt.  Imagine the steepest hill you could theoretically climb on foot.  I think the others just stopped and laughed and resigned themselves to walking up carefully.  I, on the other hand, have daily conversations with Shark Boy about Spider-Man, so I hustled up using hands and feet like the wall-crawler himself, and you know what? I wasn't passed again before the end of the race, even though there was another gut-busting climb out of that same bowl we used in the Children's Challenge.  I crossed the finish line with lungs burning in just under 45 minutes.  I had projected an hour to my wife - I think both the course was a little easier than the last time I did a trail race, and maybe I'm in a little better shape.

5 Peaks always has great post-race snacks including bagels, bananas, apples, orange wedges, chunks of power bar (I think), cookies and kettle corn.  The Vega tent also gave out free samples of plant-based recovery drink - I'm glad turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, but it's not something I'd normally put in a drink... They also have Kicking Horse coffee, but I'm never ready to drink coffee immediately after a race, and by the time I get ready, it's all gone. One of the costs of being a back of the pack (14/18 in Men 30-39 which I qualify as for another 3 days) athlete I guess.

And that was our Saturday... on to Sunday!

We got the kids packed up to do the Terry Fox Run at West Deane Park after a pancake breakfast.  I knew I was going to treat the day as 'active recovery' - nothing too strenuous, just jogging.  Unfortunately, I found I had tweaked a weird muscle the day before.  I don't know which muscle it is, but let's just say I'm not willing to put ice there.  It was going to be a little more challenging than I thought!

The Terry Fox run is such a great event for families; there's a bouncy castle, live music, a hot air balloon (that takes you only a little bit up and down, but still), fire engines for the kids to look at, a barbecue, and a great playground.  We were joined by my father-in-law and his wife.

They ended up taking the kids for the most part, while my wife and I did the run according to the planned route.  We did not break any speed records but proceeded north at a friendly pace while stopping to read Terry Fox quotes that were written in chalk on the path.

(I know that one's not in chalk, I should have taken pics of the other ones as we encountered them).  The northern turn around point was only about 2 km out from the start, so I knew we'd end up with less than 5 km if we stopped at the start/finish line.  It turns out the kids and Opa and his wife had taken the southern arm of the route, so we went to meet them, but I confess we did a lot of walking as there was fatigue build up for both of us.

By the time we met them, I had gotten a bit of a second wind, and I wanted to burn off a little extra energy, so I went ahead with Shark Boy to finish the route at a run (with him on his bike). He had wanted to get off the bike and run, but I convinced him to stay on it since it was a little far for him.  Keeping up with him on a bike is speed work (as I learned in Germany), and we had fun racing each other.  Before next week I have to teach him that filling his bike with pretend gas isn't a great idea during a race, though.  With only a few hundred metres left, I could hear the band, and I said I'd carry the bike and helmet so he could cross the finish line on foot.  He doesn't know it, but he did a brick workout!  Bring on next week's duathlon.  

We all met again later and the kids had some good playground time and snacks.  I'm really happy to make this an annual tradition and we even raised a little money for cancer research.

Because we are crazy and insatiable, the kids had swimming lessons that afternoon too.  Our family is what my friend the Pavement Runner calls "That Kind of Crazy".

Did you grow up in a crazy active family?  If not, do you wish you had?

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