The hiatus is officially over. Truth be told, there was never meant to be a hiatus. But sometimes life gets in the way of plans. And work. And running. Or maybe it was work and running that got in the way of other plans…
Regardless, here I am, back after an extended end-of-year break – in which I was busy running some of my best races of 2017. I actually have a post ready, written back in early September about my second-place finish at the Trail des Chambarans (and my fourth place in the Challenge Vercors-Chambaran trophy series), but it seems a bit ridiculous to post a race report almost six months later!
In October, I returned to the Festival des Templiers, where I bettered my time from last year by nearly an hour on the Marathon des Causses, a 38km/1850m race in which I came in 35th female (out of 235, I think). I was pleased with my race, but particularly fun was experiencing it with my running club friends – since a group of twenty of us made the 3.5-hour trip to Millau for the weekend.
And I rounded out the season with my longest distance of the year and the 65km Austragale Trail at the first ever Hivernale des Templiers event in Roquefort, France (yes, named after the cheese – which sponsored the event!).
Then 2017 ended and 2018 began. I took up skate skiing this winter and have developed a love for that too. I also turned 40… And I signed back with Uglow as a brand Ambassador for 2018, a partnership I’m thrilled about as there are some incredible new products in the works!
On the first Saturday of February, the 2018 race season officially kicked off with the Trail du Grand Echaillon, a 12.5km “nocturnal snow race” in the nearby Vercors mountains. I almost didn’t attend this race as 12.5km is a little too short for me – don’t get me wrong, I don’t always run long distances, but in a race setting the pace tends to be a little too quick for my liking (think all-out, red-in-the-face panting). But everyone seems to agree that this type of race is good specifically because it forces you to push yourself a bit and get out of that comfort zone.
So off I went, knee-deep in 50cm of fresh snow which fell on the Friday and Saturday morning. I ran into a girlfriend at bib pick-up and expected her to zoom past me in the first meters of the race. But before I knew it, we were through the first uphill climb and about 2km into the grit of things when I heard a marshal tell me I was second female… What? A few minutes later, I was informed again of this surprising fact. I looked around and Marion was nowhere to be seen.
I’m not used to being “out front”. And it’s strange the things that start to go through your head when you have the pressure of knowing you’ve got people on your heels. I kept reminding myself not to get excited, that a lot could happen in the following kilometres. As the race wore on, night fell, so it was pretty much impossible to see the other runners other than their headlamps in the distance. I knew the same two guys had been on my tail since I passed them about 5km into the race – and they stayed there pretty much until the end. At one point, I called out to one of them (who was annoying me with the shadow from his headlamp), asking whether he wanted me to let him pass. He said that he “would die” if he passed me, which I guess was kind of a compliment – and he thanked me at the finish line for being his carrot throughout the race, also a form of compliment, I guess?
It’s amazing how a satisfying finish can change your outlook on “short races”. I still (by far) prefer long distances in which I can breathe and chat with others, but it was actually a lot of fun to dash around for 12.5km in the snow – and I won some nifty prizes, too (mostly yummy edibles, plus a sleeveless vest and a free ski pass!).
This was a perfect way to kick off the 2018 season. I’ve got a pretty exciting race year planned, with new distances and new race formats that I’m looking forward to exploring. Lots of goals and good resolutions, too – starting with keeping this blog updated more regularly!
Postscript: I wrote this post before leaving on a two-week vacation to visit my parents in Florida. Now, after spending two glorious weeks in the sun, I’m back to chilling temperatures in the Vercors – minus 12°C here this morning! And all the more reason to think fondly back on the fact that two weeks ago today I was running my second race of the year, an impromptu 5km race on Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas where I was 3rd female. It’s pretty awesome to finish a race and head straight to the beach…and even run into Olaf along the way!