When I lined up at the start line for this years Epic Canadian Maple Leaf 10k I was pretty hopeful that this would be a PR race for me. The weather was absolutely perfect! The skies were overcast and it was just cool enough. I was beginning my warm up stretches and a lady pulls in beside me and she says "Are you ready for the hills?" ACK! Why is that a 4 letter word? HILLS? You mean there are HILLS on this route??!! Every single time I hear that word before a race my butt cheeks tense up and I get inside my head. That part of my head that says "you know you're going to bomb this right" Well, I didn't. I took 13 minutes off my last 10k time! Yep I sure did! This race was totally EPIC! Hills and all!
There is something about hearing the national anthem play. It warms my heart and I can feel tears start to form at the corners of my eye. I mean, how blessed are we to live here? Any time you get out for a run in the Spring or Summer and even Fall and Winter, you can honestly praise God for our many blessings that come simply by being born in this Country. God Keep our Land! There was plenty of excited chatter at the starting line, but when that anthem began to play, not a peep could be heard, not an engine started and every man in the crowd removed their caps. It was an amazing sight. All standing at attention to pay respect to this Nation. Glorious and Free. Happy 150th Canada! The horn blasts and we're off.
This race is a delightful mix of road and trail. It is not a double loop or a full out and back, it's a circle. I love races like this and there is a very specific reason why. You don't go back the same way you came so it keeps you engaged. You are treated to new scenery around every corner. There is plenty of room on the road for racers to space themselves and the pavement and trails are very forgiving on old decrepit joints like mine. We began our journey down past Lake Banook and up around Sullivans Pond. I'm not going to lie, the whole time I could hear that woman's voice in my head "are you ready for the hills?" I was of course, I mean, really, we are runners and we run in Nova Scotia, can anyone tell me of a route where there 'aren't' hills? Everyone talks about hills like they are to be feared, those poor hills have a bad reputation and it's my aim today to remove that stigma surrounding them and stand up proud and strong for those hills! YOU GO HILLS! (ok, maybe that was a bit over the top). Seriously though, hills are EPIC and here's why. Only 1/2 of them are up. I mean that pretty much sums it up doesn't it? Think about it. Going up, you are giving your butt a serious workout. I love hills for the Kardashian butt it gives me. The whole time I'm climbing a hill I'm thinking about how great my butt is going to look in those jeans. That gets me to the top! Once I crest the top then it's down! There is always a down! It's the down where I find my groove! I can turn on beast mode and kill the next 1/2 a kilometer all because I was able to turn on the down hill after burner. I can't imagine a run without hills to be honest, how boring would that be? 10 km of flat nothingness? No burst of energy? No recovery mode, just 10k of flat boring blah. Go on a race down a train track, if that suits your fancy, if you want to KILL a run and feel great doing it, then I say do the EPIC Canadian!
After turning the corner from Sullivans Pond, we continued on up towards Mic Mac Mall. The route from Mic Mac Mall to the Shubie trail system was amazing! All down hill! I really got my spring in my step and it felt awesome!
Heading into the Shubie Trail System was a wonderful surprise! I had no idea when I started this race where the route would take me, I have never been very good at reading maps. I was so surprised to see that I was going into Shubie Park! I love this trail! My only regret is that I didn't stop to take any pics along the route, I will have to do this route again someday because it truly was fantastic!
All along the route, we were treated to kilometer markers that had pictures of EPIC CANADIANS on them. Nice touch and I really wish I had have stopped to take a few pics of those, but once I get in my groove it's hard to stop, that and well, the skies opened up again and I really didn't want to bring my phone out in the downpour. I remember the 1km marker was Gord Downie and the 9k marker was Mike Meyers!
At around the 8k mark, we were on our way out of Shubie and heading back to Lake Banook. With only 1/2k to go, we were treated to a huge Canada flag hanging above our heads and numerous other Canada flags marking our last 1k to the finish. I was losing a bit of steam around the last k, but just seeing the Canada flag and realizing I was running in an EPIC Canadian race for Canada's 150th birthday was enough to push me into beast mode and I finished this 10k a full 13 minutes faster than my last 10k! This wasn't a PR race for me, believe it or not, but it certainly was a great one and I cannot wait to do it again!
Huge congrats to race director Tim Chestnut on a fabulous event! Happy Canada Day!
I began my running journey in March of 2009. I began my journey of faith in September of 2012. Running releases stress from my body while my new found faith releases stress from my mind.