by Chantal Chlala, FitU Master Blogger and Trail Runner
This whole adventure started in the fall of 2013, when I proposed that for FitU’s fifth participation at the Festival Ultimate XC, we should unite as a team and raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. As I had already taken part in the 13km cross-country and 11km trail runs, I decided that it was time to up the challenge by registering for a longer distance. Well that was great marketing to promote and exceed my fundraising goal, but it also meant that I had to actually run that distance come race day!
In fact, my trail running adventure started exactly 5years ago when I participated in my first ever athletic event of any kind at that same Festival Ultimate XC which was held in Mont-Tremblant at the time. The "Non-Runner, Urban Shopping Martini loving Girl" in me was lured by the promise of a weekend gateway in a lavish mountainous resort. I should have seen the warning signs: "Pack work-out clothes and trail shoes for a little fun trek" Eric said! Well, all of a sudden am standing in Tremblant Village under a huge inflatable start/finish banner waiting for my race to start...MY WHAAAT?!!
Gradually, I went from “I will NEVER run” to “Maybe I’ll run just a few minutes to go faster”. And so, here I am again for the fifth time, about to run 21km at what has since become a FitU must event.
(Perfect time to pull out my collage of the last 4 Ultimate XC official race pictures)
Runners are on the move, I launch the timer on my watch and here we go. Very slow pace at first as we start on an ascend entering the forest. Slowly by slowly, the pace quickens as runners start to take their position. My goal is keep Velcia in sight at all times. I manage to do that for about 80% of the first 8km. The times I lost her, I would then find her waiting for me at a plateau or shouting out “straight ahead!” which meant pick up the legs and run!! Very few downs on the way, very few opportunities to just let the legs go loose, constant attention due to numerous rocks, branches and roots. This was way harder that I had imagined, yet I was still moving and telling my legs how awesome they were…so glad they believed me!!
Around 9km, we hit a gravel road that I was anxious to get off of as the ground was hard and the sun blinding. This stretch seemed to go on for ever and I kept increasing speed in hopes of reaching the end! At that point, I knew we were nearing the start of the 11km trail course, the race I ran last year knee deep in mud. We finally reached an aid station where we freshened up with cold water, grabbed a few oranges and headed out to defy “La côte de l’enfer”! That was definitely the toughest part of the course where I had to will my legs to keep moving up, up, up and yet more up what seemed like an endless hill in blistering heat. There were a few times during that climb when I just wanted to lie down on the ground and let the sun consume me…but that seemed like it would hurt even more so I kept moving. FINALLY….ooh no, just another little plateau F%$$!!
Was the view at the top worth it? ABSOLUTELY!!!!
Did I regret forgetting that gel pack Eric gave me the previous evening? ABSOLUTELY!!!
The rest of the course was on nice soft ground of rolling hills and mostly downs. I was slowed by a painful inner thigh cramp at 15km while navigating through enormous piles of mud which I am certain Dan had lots of fun mixing to ensure was real deep and slippery. We finally came out of the mud with both shoes still on and headed out on the last 3,5km stretch of gravel road, alternating walking & running with a last sprint dash to the finish line, but not before I made sure to pose for the official picture. “Smile V, my fifth picture needs to be awesome!!” Do you notice how it seems I was the only one running the mud ;)
Thank-you Velcia! Thank-you Eric! You both believed in me even when I didn’t believe I could do it. You pushed me out of "my way too comfy" zone into a world I had never taken the time to appreciate. Without your invaluable encouragements, support and training, I would never have started running yet alone accomplished 21km...ooh no 22,5km!
AND I couldn’t possibly end this blog without mentioning that Team TNT FitU inspired by our FitU Mentors, Eric and Velcia, raised over $9,000Cad for the LLSC and all completed their respective distances with big smiles and strong legs.
A special mention goes out to Julie our top fundraiser and to Stella our role model, who ran her longest distance at 13km.
FACEBOOK PHOTO ALBUM