June 3, 2017- Squamish, BC
Following last year’s amazing experience sweeping the RLAG “Be Fearless” Trail 21.1 km and 11 km, I was beyond stoked when my friends Hailey, Dayna, and Courtney at RLAG announced that this year they were adding a 42.2 km distance to the mix! YAAASSSS SIGN ME UP!!!!!
I had just returned home from 10 days in Hawaii the day prior. I was confident that running in 90% humidity and 30 degree celsius weather everyday on vacation would ensure that I could handle any heat that Squamish could throw at me. Well, I guess the heat training worked because I was FREEZING my butt off when I arrived to the start line at Alice Lake! I was extremely thankful for my brand new RLAG hoodie to keep me cozy until the absolute last second before the race started (I actually considered running the race wearing it, but decided to save it for after instead).
It was wonderful to arrive at the start early. I got to say hi to my RLAG buddies and help a bit with set up and watch as all the other runners filed in. I absolutely love this community of runners that Dayna, Courtney, and Hailey have created. Everyone is welcomed and supported. It is an extremely encouraging and empowering group to be a part of. I am so thankful to know such amazing individuals and be able to have this community in my life! THANKS YOU GUYS!!!!
The weather, though cold at the start line, was perfect running weather! Especially for this particular course, with its long exposed sections. Following my kidney injury, I have to be extremely mindful about heat and hydration to keep myself healthy and happy, so I was definitely relieved that it was not a super hot day.
I quickly crammed a banana and a bagel into my mouth and lined up at the start with all the other full marathon runners. We all huddled and broke out in a few impromptu dance parties to keep warm! I was thankful to my friend Jason for lending me his Norvan jacket to wear for the start, as my heat- trained body was in shock with the Hawaii- Squamish temperature change!
We began the race and headed through the Alice Lake campground and quickly found ourselves on the 4 Lakes Trail, which is one of the best trails to warm up on. It is soft and undulating, and so much fun to run! The trail winds around Stump Lake and over to Fawn Lake before it meets up with a trail called Manboobs (gotta love MTB trail names).
Manboobs is where the climbing starts- it takes you up to the first aid station (and to my favourite part of last year’s event), where amazing volunteers are waiting to feed you and give you hugs and high fives. My buddy Ward was there and shoved some chips in my mouth, put my jacket in my pack, and sent me off again with a huge “waaahoooooo” which got me to pick up the pace enough to catch up with my girl Linda.
From the aid station, you head out on a loop of MTB trail and fire road that takes you up Ed’s, Made in the Shade, and Dead End Loop, down Rock n Roll, and back up to the same aid station again (hooray, more hugs and snacks!) By this time I was feeling great and the temperature was perfect. I had fallen into a nice comfortable pace alongside Linda and we cruised through Rob’s, Cliff’s and Lower Corners (super fun pump track type trails under the power lines with a nice breeze on the face and soft dirt kicking up behind). Said hello to Jason and Kat out on course rocking their marshalling spots, ran past Adam Gilbert Ciuk one of our wonderful on- course paparazzi, and headed down towards aid station 3, where my buddy Kyle was stationed.
After all the fun flowing descent we then headed out on wide forestry road that climbed gradually for EVER (just kidding, it was totally fine, fairly runnable, but Linda and I were too busy talking about Hawaii to push pace). I always joke about how I will run the steep technical sections, and then walk the easy flat stuff, so at least I remained consistent.
Following the fire road we ended up on trails I have never been on before! Tinder and Your Mom yielded epic views and fast and technical single track all the way back down to the parking lot where we were greeted by tons of awesome bikers who cheered us the whole way through.
I need to stop for a moment and just appreciate how well flagged the course was! Not once did I ever question my route, and it was so awesome to just enjoy the course without worrying about getting lost and eaten by wildlife! Also can I just say how stoked I was to have had Linda there to run with the whole race! I usually end up racing on my own so it was wonderful to have another mother runner to share the experience with!
This point in the race the course hits the pavement and circles around the beautiful Quest University campus and through the residential streets. Again, for most people, this would have been a nice reprieve from the technical stuff and an easy stretch for the legs. Linda and I felt differently however, as we shuffled our way up the never-ending street, only picking up the pace when we knew the aid station could see us!
Thankfully aid station 5 had chips and coke and salt tabs! It also was our gateway back to the trails. We quickly found our mojo again and frolicked our way through the forest along Lumberjack’s. Then we hit In N Out Burger- which required us to become billy goats and scale up a massive rock slab on all fours, while James Frystak our other race paparazzi giggled and snapped pics of us from the top. Gotta love a good leg burn 32 km or so into a race!
We paused at the top to enjoy the view and watch a few other runners shrieking their way up from the bottom. We showboated around for a few photos before beginning our super fun descent down Penthouse Slap and Icy Hole of Death.
Our legs were feeling the distance by the time we hit Jacks. We were getting excited to again run into our buddy Kyle at the 39 km mark. In our excitement, we both forgot we still had a climb up 50 Shades of Green and 50 Shades More. Oops. We got to work and climbed our butts off.
We were beyond pumped when we got into the final aid station and were greeted with big hugs and WATERMELON! They filled our tummies and our hearts and off we went on the final 3 km (ish) of our race, which was around the lake and back through the campsite to the finish. It was great to turn the corner and see the finish line chute and see our friends there cheering us on. Hailey, Dayna, and Courtney- thank you for the finish line hugs! Sorry about the sweat!
Before I forget- the swag! We were given custom BE FEARLESS technical visors at package pickup and beautiful finisher medals designed by my lovely friend Brie. We were also given cool keychain charms!
I am so grateful to RLAG for creating such a wicked course and for how well organized and supported it was! This will definitely be back on my race calendar for next year!