Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sulphur Springs 25k race report 2014

I really, really wasn't sure I was going to make it to the start line of this race. The hip injury I got in the last 2k of the marathon has been lingering like a bad smell, leaving me really uncertain about how this would go. Even the day before I was debating with myself whether it was a good or a bad idea to run 25k in the woods, even though the plan was to run it easy and just have fun with the whole thing.

But I woke up feeling good, got my stuff organized, and headed out to meet my carpool to the start line. It was downright chilly out so we were all pretty bundled up as we got ourselves organized and prepared to start the race.
Photo via Kim. Pre race, bundled up and cold. Bridget (whose name I'm pretty sure I'm spelling wrong), Nicole, Sam, Kim, me!
Literally 5 minutes before the start time it felt like the temperature went up 10 degrees and we all started stripping off our outer layers. Fortunately since Kim was running the 10k she wasn't starting yet and was able to play sherpa for our stuff. Thanks, Kim! We would all have regretted the long sleeves about 3 minutes into the race if we'd kept them on.

Before I knew it we were off and running down a very very very very long hill. I tried not to think about how we would be running back up that hill twice (Sam kept claiming three times, but we all know what Sam's sense of direction is like, right? we figured she was probably thinking of one of the other giant hills on the route).

Nicole and I totally dorking out heading down the first hill. Free race photos meant we went full on #runnerd every time we spotted a photographer.

The field of runners quickly spread out and we settled into a good groove - mostly running, then walking the steeper uphills. Trail running is way too much fun, even when crossing what looked like a nice grassy field but was actually a well disguised lake. Soakers for everyone!
Ugh will you look at this hill...

OH SHIT PHOTOGRAPHER! FREAK OUT! That's better! Even if Sam is totally hogging the whole picture. NICE, Sam.
I won't recap the race in typical fashion - trail races are just different, especially when you are running for fun. Your GPS isn't trustworthy so if you don't know the course you don't really know how far along you are anyway, and this day wasn't about speed. It was about having fun.

Nicole: I'm taking a picture, everyone pretend to run for a second! Us: Can we stop yet?
And fun is what we had! Up steep hills, down steep hills, saying 'holy shit look at that' when spotting some gorgeous scenery, admiring the trail run aid stations (well stocked with both candy and toilet paper), saying fuck it lets walk for a minute when confronted with a particularly calf-busting climb.

I'm just going to leave this course elevation profile here. LULZ.
Did I mention there was just a little bit of mud?

I swear none of us are as princess-y as our high pitched screams every time we had to run across a muddy patch would suggest.
My lack of running since the marathon did really hit me at around 15k - clearly the grand total of 26 km I ran in the three weeks after the marathon wasn't ideal conditioning (although I have managed 100+ km on the bike, so it's not like I've been lying around eating bonbons) (I have also been lying around eating bonbons). Fortunately a caffeinated gel gave me a bit of a second wind, and overall the 25k wasn't as much of a struggle to finish as I had feared (helps that the course gives you a nice long downhill before the final epic climb to the finish).

This looks like an editorial in a running magazine. Possibly my favourite race picture ever. Although I will admit that right after we passed this photographer we were all 'well, we got some good pictures...and now we walk'.
It was a total blast, and weirdly my hip flexor thing feels better today than it did before the race, so maybe a 25k romp through the woods was what it needed? Hell if I know, I'm not going to question it right now.

Heading up the final hill to the finish. It's a really big hill. Really, really big.

After Sam & Bridgette TOTALLY DITCHED US, Nicole and I pretended to run up the hill to the finish.
Just one shot of Nicole and I heading for the finish together would have been nice here. Oh well, at least you can see her hand?
We finished in 2:50, which was fantastic. I had no goal going into this, but I think that's a pretty reasonable time given my extreme lack of training in the last couple of weeks.

It was a fabulous way to spend a morning, and I would definitely recommend Sulphur Springs. Just pure fun. It also makes a great choice for trail newbies, I think, because it isn't too technical but has lots of hills and scenery to keep you happy. Plus you get to cross paths with the 50 and 100 mile runners and admire how freaking crazy they are.

This does solidify my desire to do the Run for the Toad 25k this fall, and maybe check out a 5 peaks race over the summer. Trails are just such a great way to remind yourself about how fun running can be, and I want more of them! Plus there are miles and miles of the Bruce Trail near my house to explore. Can't wait.

Muddy shoes and medal. /artsy


  1. Even if I know that it's better for me not to run trails because I am such a klutz, the race reports like these make me insanely jealous. Happy to hear that you all had a great time!! Way to go!

  2. Congrats on your first trail run. The 5 Peaks series is them. Sulphur is a beautiful course for sure. It's a great event. Nice work out there on the trails and glad you had fun!

    1. Thanks Robin! Was actually my third trail race - I did the Toad relay and another short trail race a few years ago. By far the longest one I've ever done, though, and I now totally see the appeal of trying for 50k. Kind of considering that instead of a marathon next spring, in fact.

  3. Great job and awesome report!

  4. Yeah I don't know why I thought we ran that crazy hill three times? Thank goodness we didn't!

  5. So much fun! So great to run together and actually be able to talk (unlike Chilly! HA). Can't wait to do it again!

  6. I seem to remember this from a recent post: "Goal 1: Recover. Fully recover. Take it easy until the end of May. Don't go doing anything stupid. Let the body heal up and relax."

    Oh well. Looks like you guys had an awesome time! I love that you guys "dork" out for every photo!

    1. Ha, you don't think a 25k trail race is easy and relaxing?

      Kidding aside, I did have the all clear from the sports doctor, and I was fully prepared to bail out if anything felt off after the first 5k, when the course went back through the start area. And my hip continues to feel better now than it did before the race, so I'm glad I did it.