We’ve been very busy and therefore tiered this week so enjoy Sunday’s post a few days late this week. I’ve been trying to stay up late and write but bed has just been calling my name louder lately. Don’t worry I’m as upset about missing a post as you are!
This is the third year I think for this race and I’ve really wanted to give it a try every year since it started. Kind of because it’s a trail race but also because it claims to take place in my home town. It doesn’t really which is important read on for that. It’s also pretty expensive all things considered ($65) and here’s the big one (for me at least) there’s no medal! However once a race is on my radar as something I might want to do someday it’s really only a matter of time before I bite the bullet and do it. It was my first legit trail race, I have done races on the trail but this one was really a trail race and I did fall down, but just a little. Also we got our first snow of the year the night before but overall that turned out to be a great thing.
A bit about the race: I don’t have a whole lot to tell you about this one other than it is part of the Nova Scotia Trail Running race series. It’s the last race of the year for them and now I’m really reaching here. There isn’t a whole lot of information out there on the race. A short blurb on the NSTR website and a bit more on race roster. I don’t think there is any charity involved but I could be corrected. One important point though, even though the address says it’s in Black Point on the race pages it’s not. We’ll get into that in logistics though.
Parking and weather: We’ve been slammed at work for about 6 weeks now and since I signed up for this one at the end of August when that was not the case this one went pretty atypically for me. Which is to say I dropped everyone off at work, packed my running clothes with me and then took the BIG, new-ish work truck to the race. We had had our first dusting of snow the night before and the roads were pretty icy. I was a bit stressed arriving since I was taking the truck out of 4WD before getting on the highway for the first time. Also it’s giant and I wasn’t sure I could park it and unpark it without embarrassing myself. So I was way more nervous than I have been lately at the start line of a race recently. I parked in a pickup approved parking spot outside the gate but when you arrive rest assured there is more ample parking at the race start just a few meters inside the gate. Also you can turn around in there.
It was -2 c (28 f) with a light dusting of snow and a brisk wind in open spots. I had considered buying new trail shoes since mine aren’t very aggressive but I held off. That seemed like it might be the wrong choice as I was pulling up. It ended up the snow was a first time trail runner’s best friend though because it made it easier to follow the twisty course through the woods looking at the path in the snow. It also didn’t make it as slippery as I’d thought.
Course: Due to the snow I’m pretty sure I traveled the course directly but it came out about a km longer than advertised on my GPS. I know for a fact I went exactly where everyone in front of me went. It was pretty well marked overall with pink flags for the most part and some flagging tape here and there. When I was looking up and thinking about it, which wasn’t often, for the most part you could see the next flag as you were passing the last. One of our customers is a serious runner and he said this was a great one to start with and he would know more than me about that for sure! Virtually all of the race was a barely there path in the woods (AKA single track bike trail). It was crazy twisty and hilly with a few steep loose hills.
It’s an out and back, with a loop around a lake at the end most of the course is pretty travel-able with lots of roots. Around km number 4 I was thinking okay I’m getting used to this now, and then people, faster people started running back towards me. I just did what the person in front of me did and pulled over and stopped for them. Seemed like the right choice. There are some hills, some rocks and some loose sketchy bits but not a whole lot. I’m guessing based on a fellow trail runner’s recommendation that it is a good first one it’s either pretty standard or a bit easier, but I have nothing to compare it to so…
Cheer Squad: Ummm just me… so… However I mentioned at check in that it was my first trail race and when I finished the race director asked me how it went and congratulated me which was super cool!
Logistics and support: This might be old news to seasoned trail runners but there were lots of first timers there that day and there are even more on the internet as a whole. First off you have to run from flag to flag and follow the tape. I lucked out and just followed the snow path so that was easy. One thing you should know is that even though there was a water stop you hit at km 4 and 6 but it’s a cupless race so be prepared to refill your own bottle. There were very few volunteers out on the course I think in only one spot to point you out a turn but you do see them twice. Other than that lots of trees to grab on to when you need some support.
The address says it starts in Black Point but that’s not true, it starts in Tantallon. However if you put the street address into your GPS it will take you to the right spot. For locals in the know it starts on the other side of the 103 of the Tantallon Mersey. It’s much closer to the Tantallon exit than the Ingramport one. You’ll have to access the street line from the 103, ideally making a right turn after just passing the Tantallon exit. There is a road that connects to HWY 3 however there are 2 gates on that stretch that are most often locked.
Nail polish rational: I wanted to paint my nails this really cool forest green glitter because you know trees, but it was all dried up and crusty when I opened it. It would have been perfect for demo this week too since everyone knows glitter polish is the toughest. So I went for my next greenest color which was sort of a teal really. Didn’t matter though since it ended up being a gloves day.
Swag: Not much really a shirt and I won a capes 100 hat as a door prize. I also got two free samples of crystal packets that are hydration drinks. Oh and muddy sneakers that made me feel like a real trail racer!
Shoes: Asics Gel Trail 6
How it went: Unless it’s a longer race I don’t usually do a breakdown by km but this one took me a long time and it changed a lot through the race.
Km 1-4: Around the 1 km mark I fell very, very gently on my bum descending a hill. Actually it happened right after I thought, wow this is steep someone could fall here. Overall the route was tighter and less defined than I thought it would be but by 4 km in I was starting to get the hang of things, actually looking up and a few people let me pass as I went along. I did however trip a few times before I figured that out. I did notice that overall I was ‘running’ only a hair faster than I could walk the course when the people in front of me would take walk breaks and I would end up taking one too.
Km 4-6.5: After passing the lady who had been in front of me for some time I actually spent a good portion on my own which was unsettling at first but really relaxing after a while. I got to go at my own pace and there were a few really technical sections through here. By the 7th km though I was starting to get really tiered and I was taking a walk break here and there. Since I was on my own and no one was forcing me to go at a particular pace I did end up going a bit faster though. This was the section where the fast kids started running back towards me on the trail.
Km 6.5-10: I had stopped at the aid station the second time around to refill my water bottle and a lady behind be passed me at the road crossing. She was going very slowly and since we had just come from a big, steep loose hill I decided to hang out behind her for a while and take a rest for half a km. She was walking 80% of the course and would only run for short bursts. This is also when for the most part people stopped running towards me and I started running towards other racers. After a short break I resumed running and thought that she would let me pass. That didn’t happen though and I didn’t know how I was supposed to ask. I tried making my presence known but it didn’t work so after a km I just chilled and walked behind her. She seemed to know all the volunteers on the course by name so I don’t think it was also her first time out there. It was only about half a km from the end that she pulled off the course, bent over and took a good rest that I got to resume running after I passed. While I welcomed the slower pace for that first few hundred meters for about 3 km there I knew I wasn’t living up to my potential time for the race.
Looking back: I would do this race again but I think that 10k was a bit ambitious for me for a first trail race. I would like to do a few 5k’s in the future to learn a bit more of the ropes. I’ve since googled and saying ‘passing on your left’ seems to be what I should have done. PLEASE tell me if that’s not right! I knew it would take me a lot longer than a regular road 10k and I knew it would be harder. I was thinking about 1.5x the usual effort but even had I not had the long walk break it probably would have still been a bit more than that. I might also have started up some from the very back of the back. Not a whole lot but some. PS the winner was in around an 1:03:00 and he’s usually in the high 30’s for a 10k on the road. I was a bit sad not to get a medal so that might factor into my decision to do it again. However noting my disappointment honey ‘made’ me one from a chain and a medallion from one of his watches. I did hang it on my medal board though so I say it still counts!