by Eric Baudouy, 2014 The North Face Canada Trail Ambassador
The nerves started acting up a few days prior to the event as the realization finally sunk in: "This will be my longest race ever and with life getting in the way, my training program did not go as planned!" What did reassure me though, on the long drive to Bear Mountain was being surrounded by my awesome crew, composed of my girlfriend & partner Velcia, best friend Chantal and mother Stella. The only other person I wished was there by my side, my daughter Summer-Rose, unfortunately couldn’t come along for that trip.
The adventure started with being stuck in traffic as we got closer to Westchester where I needed to pick up my race pack at the TNF store before cut-off time. Finally, made it a few minutes late but was able to pick up my bib and head back to our hotel in Central Valley to unwind, eat, prep my gear, eat, prep my crew, eat ;)
About an hour later, the sunlight started shining magically just in time to admire Silver Mine Lake. Head lights started coming off and I wrapped mine comfortably around one arm so as to avoid undoing my pack. The scenery was worth every mile run even with a vast amount of rocks. Up until that point, this was pretty much single track rolling hills. As Jason Aldean would say “My Kinda Party"
The next 22 miles were a mixture of rolling single track hills, river crossings, stretches of asphalt to link up the trails and a steady supply of intermittent rocks. I got into my cycle of 5:1 and was lost to my internal dialogue of positive thoughts. Feeling invincible, I decided to increase my 5:1 to 6:1. After another pamper fest with the crew at Camp Lanowa, I was off again picking up speed and racers that had taken me over earlier. It was exhilarating!
By the time I got to Anthony-Wayne aid for the second time (40.2miles), I was in such a great space that I told Velcia that I didn’t need pacing. I was pumped, mile 40 compared to last year’s 40 miler was like night and day. And here I was having gained 15 minutes on the 30 I had lost earlier in the day, screaming inside to myself: "Bring it on!!!!!"
These last 10 miles were quite intense, after overcoming the mental challenge, I focused on just placing one foot in front of the other and with every step resonated the words soft…..soft…..soft within myself to comfort my feet on the downhill rock road of redemption as I like to call it now. A quote seen on a T-shirt a few years back came to mind “Ultra Marathons: Mind suffering without a cause”.
As I got into the last 3 miles thinking so close and yet so far, I dug even deeper inside to keep the engine running. Turning out of the mini tunnel from earlier this morning, a familiar face sprung out and ran beside me, Chantal! There she was claiming to the world that she could run faster than me!
And finally….like a never ending mirage, there it was: the finish line that had eluded me for the past 10miles, crossed at 11h35m17s to earn my first 2 points on route to TNF UTMB 2015.