Monday, 9 September 2013

2013 World Mountain Running Championships

I woke up before my alarm as almost every racer does with a race this big, but luckily I slept pretty well! I only woke up once or twice durin the night so that was good! Right from the get go I knew it was going to be a good day. The sun was shining, my shoes were shining and my face was shining! I had a breakie of the hotel's yogurt and cereal with dried fruit and of course some mochas for a lil caffeine kick.. I love coffee! Our team was looking ready to go but all coming in at different times with varied levels of sleep. You could feel the anticipation in the room, that excited vibe that today was the day! We soon headed up to our rooms and got ready to warm up down on the dirt road before heading up the gondola to the race course. It was great to warm up with Mel and Sarah. This trip has sure made me try to understand a bit more French! BAHAHA most of our team is French-Canadian so there's lots of fun and enthusiasm!! It was exciting to be chauffeured onto the gondola by the workers as we were the elite athletes being brought up! And let me tell you were there ever a lot more elite athletes on too of the mountain for us to join! It was so amazing to be surrounded by such lean, muscular running machines!! Spandex, polyester and sweat were the articles of clothing to be worn! We were soon brought into the call area which was fenced off from the others.. It felt a bit like a cage keeping the tigers in at the zoo. All the women paced, sprinted, high kicked, lunged and stretched back and forth in the pen. Leg slaps and words of encouragement showered the ears and the feeling of anticipation continued to build! Some of us took it with a smile and broke out into a dance party... Okay maybe it was only the Canadian girls who did that! Lol.

Soon we were summoned up to the inflated arch to line up country by country . The next thing we knew a gun shot off and the race was on!! I was feeling strong but could feel where my comfortable pace was and tried to find that balance. We stormed up the hill to wild cheers and fast footwork! Just as your legs started to scream we hit the peak and tore down the dirt road with all those loose rocks I mentioned earlier. Luckily I knew the right hand side had a bit of a path with less so I tried to get over to that side right away! 

These girls are amazing! I consider myself pretty fast at running downhill but I found myself getting passed and had to have a talk with myself, to continue doing what felt right for me and to run my race! After all that's all we can do at the end of the day! It's the best talent in the world! I felt good and was running hard flying down the road, making the sharp corner and heading into the forest! 

Aye yaye! That's where you beg as plead for your eyes to adjust faster so you don't trip or roll an ankle on hidden rocks roots divets and drops Hidden in the shadows! I passed some people here and got passed too! It was a free for all with the thought In your head that not only was the uphill comin but we had to do this twice. I felt pretty solid with my placing up until the ski hill came. I knew this was going l be brutal for me. Uphill like that is HARD! Wow! I struggled up the hill losing places but pushing and pushing running and power hiking and was relieved to see the summit and water station! Grabbing a cup of water I thought I was going gulp down the most refreshing water but it hit my throat and I thought I was going to throw up! It was carbonated mineral water!!!! Why oh why would they do this?! Yuuuuck!! The bubbles and taste was the last thing your body wants when it's red lining! Fortunately I didn't puke and continued on my way up the single track. It was harder than we thought but I persevered and continued the trudge uphill smiling with every tiny flat or downhill slope as I tried to catch a deep breath. 

The last hill up to the top of the course was hard but I could hear everyone and the announcer calling out names and countries and tried my best to keep those feet turning to run that corner and start round two! It was then I found out that Mel was right behind me and I was happy to hear that! Sarah took off ahead and strongly from the start and Meggan made a great pass by me on the ski hill! It was so encouraging to know we were all running strong! 

Lap two was much of the same thing but even harder as I had already been pushing so hard for what felt like so long. My legs felt weak on a few corners as quick slopes where I had to slow myself down but nothing to do but to do it and I ran ran ran!! One girl got injured on course and required the medics to come attend on their 4x4, it was brutal to see a race end like that for someone but I had to carry on my way as it was my race too and I knew she'd be looked after. Fortunately she was limping with another runner so I didn't feel obligated to stop. I continued on and pushed up the hill alternating places with a great girl from Australia. Mel came by us with her strong legs from biking and I was happy to cheer her on as I gasped for air! Hahah. It was so brutal but so epic to be racing up this challenging hill. 

I couldn't find the energy to thank people or even smile as I Climbed the uphill but knew I had to keep my strength. I made a final pass of the girl ahead of me and settled that place then saw the last hill to the finish in sight! I was exhausted, lungs burning, legs on fire and so hot but I knew I had to finish that line strong! I made it up the slope fighting every step then saw our team manager Adrian Lambert ahead and was able to ask him which way to turn, left or right, once I got to the top! Hahah the worst thing would  have been to run the wrong way!! Luckily he caught my drift and pointed to my left and I ran into the finish line as they announced my name and country! It felt so good to finish but wow was I tanked!!

My legs shook, I tried desperately to gasp at air, and fought the urge to puke and pass out! All while taking in more awful mineral water and being congratulated by teammates. I left it all out there and couldn't be happier! I placed 57th out of 82, minus the 3 that DNF. Better than last year and with a great time!!! I'm so happy! All our Canadian women placed under 60th position which is awesome!  I'm so proud of everyone!! We had such an amazing team and I couldn't be more grateful for this experience as opportunity to represent my country.


Of course, after I regulated my body temperature, breathing and regained some strength back it was all back to smiles, laughs and.. ninja jumps. Obviously.


We watched the senior men race, who all kicked major butt!! So proud of all of them!! Then Calum, Sarah and I then went on to do a two hour run as we took an adventure in the Polish mountain side before we had to head back home to get ready for our closing ceremonies. Which were much to our surprise outside.. followed by a dinner trough style feeding frenzy which we happily bypassed for a great restaurant that was serving up fresh pizzas, pastas, salads, ice cream and beers all with live music! We had a blast and ran home to catch the last bus like Cinderella!

Some of us continued the party on in the hotel bar playing pool and hanging out after. What an amazing day!!! This has been another incredible experience and I couldnt be more grateful for all the amazing love and support from my family and friends. It wouldnt be the same without you all and i appreciate every minute of it!! Big thanks especially to my family, my amazing Joel, and my best girlies (you know who you are!!) I didn't run with duck wings Lauren, but I think I went fast enough! Hahah!!

Love, smiles, laughs and sore muscles,

Shanny!


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