Cabot Trail Relay Race 2006 (CTRR)

Well, I should be working, but try concentrating on so little sleep and energy! Leg 14 Highlighted below

CTRR! What an event.

My weekend started with a small hitch, when my daughter’s childcare centre called to send her home sick, while their father was on exercise in the field, and impossible to track down (believe me I tried), after many fruitless efforts to contact a back-up for childcare (my most reliable source, was of course, on her way to CTRR as well, as soon as I could get my crap sorted out!) Finally after no success I managed to drop the girls off with a friend outside town, and leave a message for their dad, with the childcare centre, for when he showed up to get them at the end of the day. Scadian was just a few minutes later than the hoped for 13:00 timing, so my little crisis ended up being the hold-up, but only by about half an hour or so.

We hit the road, but I did not relax until I got the call and knew that the girls were about to be picked up by their father. I hung up the phone and hollered, “My weekend has officially begun!” Scotty cranked up the music and we all sang and “chair-danced” for much of the trip to Baddeck!

We made it in time for the 20:00 timing for the team dinner, having missed the team meeting. As it turned out, we had a long wait for food, and arrived very late at the ceilidh later on!

When we walked in to the restaurant, there were hugs all around. Finally, we were meeting the rest of our team, in person!!!

The music at the ceilidh was a little disappointing, and the atmosphere wasn’t as “ceilidh-like” as hoped. We were missing a kitchen sink and counter to lean against 😉 LOL … and too many people were sitting down! (Not our team though!) We got a few dances in, and when the music breaked, many decided to move on, catch some zzzz’s, etc. For the NB crew, it was time to find the campground in the dark! After a few failed attempts driving up and down a small stretch of highway, we had success! The cabin was clean and warm, and small, but would suit the four of us just fine (one double bed for S & K, and bunk beds for me and for J). Time to unload and crack open a few wobbly-pops! We had our own little ceilidh, and did a cramped warm-up “Leg 16 water-stop dance”.

Morning came and I was awake as usual by 6am (even after a late night of partying with friends). I showered and eventually we all got up and made some breakfast, before meeting up with nick for our post-team-meeting “team meeting”.

We got to support legs 3 & 4, unofficially before we became the official support vehicle for legs 5, 6 & 7. It was great to see Brendan and Kiza on the course and coming in to the finish. I wish I could have been there for every leg! I have since learned that the seven-month-pregnant-woman on Brendan’s leg who was the first woman in (and I believe ahead of Brendan – but I’ll let him confirm that! 😛 ) IS in fact the sister-in-law of one of my best friends! I had been told just three weeks ago that she wouldn’t be racing this year (due to her pregnancy), but would be there in support of her team. She has run this race for many years and never misses it. I don’t know how she ended up running, but to have those kinds of results, with what I expect was little training, since it wasn’t intended… all I can say is WOW!

Supporting Scotty, James and Kara was so much fun. It was nice to be able to provide that support for them, as they all have done something to support me, in one way or another, during my training in the past months! (Kara was my LSD running partner almost once/week since we completed Run for the Cure in October; Scotty accompanied me on my longest LSD ever before I completed the Half, and James lent me his Garmin so we could measure it! They all provided me with encouraging words and great support during my first race ever! And I got to return the favour!) It was priceless when James put on his clown costume to support Scotty, then Scotty put on his and the two of them clowned while supporting Kara! I was so proud of Kara, knowing what she’s been through in the past months re: training! Way to go Kara for a great run! You looked so happy to cross that finish line!

We had a long foggy drive to Cheticamp after Kara’s leg. I had missed the “bus” to the motel when they were tired and left earlier than anticipated. I just COULDN’T miss supporting Kara and seeing her finish! After the long foggy drive, we got supper at a family restaurant. I got the motel at about 9:30 or so, was in bed at 10pm, and got back up at 11pm, when Brendan et al got back from leg 9. I was restless and disturbing the girls, so I attempted to close my eyes on the couch, but sleep would not come. At 1:45, I got up and dressed for my leg.

A light pre-race snack of water, a bagel and banana. We got to Leg 13 early enough to support Lisa for a while, then got to my leg about 20 mins prior to start time. Heather kept me company, took a couple pre-start photos of me in the Pitch dark with my reflective gear on.

Going into this race, on short notice, only two weeks after my first Half Marathon, I had set no goals other than to complete the leg. However, knowing that I felt so good after my half, I was CERTAIN I could push myself a little harder. The leg I was running was just 1.3km shy of a Half, so comparable in distance. I confessed to Brendan my new goal of beating my overall pace a few hours prior to my leg, and he looked at me with concern and reminded me that this course has hills, unlike the flat Freddy Marathon course (we’d agreed my mantra would be “COMPLETE, not COMPETE”, when I took on this new challenge a short time ago). Well, I thought, I run a flat riverside course much of the time, but I train on the base trail which has a couple of hills, one is a pretty good one, and I know from the description that these “hills” can’t be as big. I KNOW I can do this!

Go time – 03:37
James lent me his Garmin, which I proceeded to forget to turn on prior to the race (I got distracted at just the moment I thought of it), so it didn’t track my full race results, missed about .75km, I believe). I didn’t exactly have a goal pace, I just wanted to run a pace that felt good (but a little but challenging), and would definitely be below my Freddy HalfM pace in the end.

Once I started running, and feeling pretty good, I decided to skip the intervals again and walk the water stations. This time they were 5km apart (last time 3km). It would be a stretch but I wanted to give it a shot. I started running in the back of the pack. There may have been a few others behind me; I didn’t look back in the dark to see. Once we got moving I felt like everyone ran off without me. After about 1km I passed one woman. She passed me again after about 4km. I didn’t get that usual stiffness in my calves during the first 4km. I didn’t really warm-up, so I don’t know what was different this time.

At about 8km I lost sight of the woman ahead of me (well I lost sight of her glow stick, and her reflectors when cars would pass). I heard no one behind me. I felt completely alone. I focused even more on my splits to distract myself from that feeling of being all alone on the course. Seeing those support vehicles every couple of km’s sure was a help! The water stations were also very supportive and a welcome sight.

It was at about 8km that I began to feel dehydrated, my head was getting fuzzy and I had to really concentrate on getting to the water station soon. I should have brought water with me, but didn’t want to carry something for 19km and have never used a hydration belt before now. As soon as I could see their flashing lights, I started getting a gel ready too. I chose to use the one with caffeine in it, which I’d never tried before, simply because I was running on zero sleep.

My splits were looking good, I thought I was averaging
about 6:35, and that included splits during which I walked an interval! I knew I was on track, if I could keep it up. I prayed that I hadn’t pushed myself too hard.

Once it was light out, I was running through the valley next to a little town/village with many little farmhouses and a river running through it. There were beautiful apple trees in bloom along the highway. I LOVE apple blossoms!

I came upon a guy walking, and asked how he was doing. He started running along side me and complained of his stomach bothering him. He kept up with me for a few minutes, but eventually fell back. I wasn’t sure if he’d finish, but it looks form the stats like everyone on my leg did.

Once I passed the third water station, and had less than 4km to go I was doing great! I knew I didn’t have long left. At approximately 2km I passed Chuck and Nick again. I told them my legs felt like lead. I was avoiding another walking interval for fear of my legs seizing up and refusing to run anymore! At about 1.5-1km (I didn’t see a 1km pylon) I couldn’t do it anymore, I needed that interval – I prayed my feet would start running again when it was over. They did! That finish area was a welcome site! I was so glad to stop running! (The “Don’t F&*%$#@ Stop!” line from Sherry’s banner went through my head many times in the last 2km!)

This race was far less emotional, and far more about the running this time around. I met my goal; in fact I blew it out of the water. I shaved 23 seconds off of my overall pace from 6:53 to 6:30 on a more difficult course!!! My finish time for 19.81km was 2:08:39.

Oh and as it turns out, I wasn’t last, or second to last (since I did pass the one guy), but there were six runners that came in after me!)

I have to say, one of the hard parts about this relay is doing the support after your leg is complete. There’s really not enough time for a proper cool down or stretching before being piled into a vehicle and off and cheering. Also after running in the dark, I was layered in sweaty clothes and it was still relatively cool outside. I was hot, then cooled down and felt very uncomfortable in all those wet things.

We supported Angela’s leg a little, but had to rush through to the leg 16 5km mark for the water station before getting caught in a lock down of traffic. The water station was a blast. It appeared to be a hit with runners as well as support vehicles.

After the water station, we supported Kristi’s leg and saw her finish, then headed back to camp so I could shower & change and the others loaded up the van. I can’t remember when a shower and dry clothes ever felt so good! We missed Heather’s finish, but saw her cooling down when we arrived in Baddeck for the banquet.

The support from other teams and the start/finish line set-up were incredible! This is a fantastic event to experience the camaraderie of a great sport!

We had a relaxing gathering of the clan (or should I say cult?) at the motel while others got showered and changed, then headed over to the banquet. Everyone was wiped, but we managed a few smiles for a team photo (I hope someone posts that soon, I didn’t get one on my camera!) The NB crew headed out first. With the six hour drive and three of us working in the a.m. it was important to make an early start back.

We listened to the RM Nation CTRR soundtrack and talked about the event, much of the trip back. I attempted to get some sleep finally, with no success. Needless to say I am completely worn out, but in a very good way!

These guys rock! Thanks for a fabulous weekend, I look forward to more in the future!

And a special thank you to qmp and nick for all of the logistical work. 🙂

About Trish

family legacy curator, social justice advocate, blogger, amateur photographer, reader, cyclist, runner & swimmer, mom of two

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Trish McCourt
17 years ago

I haven’t decided yet Deb. Have some other stuff to deal with this week. Will look at the event schedule for NS /PEI/NB more seriously in a week or so. I’ll let you know!

17 years ago

btw, what’s your next race? 🙂

17 years ago

well done trish!! sounds like you guys had a great time!!

Trish McCourt
17 years ago

Thanks Dani! I appreciate that. 🙂

Dani Diamond
17 years ago

Congrats Trish. I know what it means to accplish things like this. I am proud of you. You have courage and grace. I am envious… 🙂