Melissa's Road Race (2011)

Race Status
When (Finish Line)

Melissa's, Take Three

I don’t know that you’d call it a win, but it was definitely a finish.

The annual Melissa’s Road Race took place in Banff, Alberta this last weekend, and I went out for my third time running in the event. 

In 2009 I had run the 10K course, completing the race in a decent-for-me just-over-an-hour time, not exactly expecting to place in any way, but simply rewarding my summer efforts (having trained for my first half-marathon that summer) with an easy end-of-the-season jaunt through the mountains. I remember it being quite awesome, particularly rocketing down the Tunnel Mountain hill at a full on sprint wondering how likely it would be that I’d misstep and go rolling instead.

Last year, in 2010, I took a stab at the full 22K run, lacing up for an epic dash through the scenic mountain landscape, narrowing in on an awesome finishing time, and honing my speed… until about the 15K mark. Somewhere around or between 15 kilometers and 17 kilometers, I rolled or gunged my ankle, somehow. I still don’t know what happened. I was on track for a solid 2:15 time (great for me) and then: wham! Something twinged. And I rolled in thirty minutes after that anticipated time.

A year of healing and recovery later — and still occasionally feeling that sore ankle even today — I’d puttered my training down to a dribble, registered in the 10K once more, and contentedly settled for a time a couple minutes slower than my 2009 time. I finished four minutes slower than in 2009 and was just happy to have been able to run the thing after last year’s injury and the past year’s training grumbles about the same. Claire joined me for the final few steps of the race, running alongside me in her pink Crocs as we crossed the finish line.

Not bad. Not amazing. But full circle.

To top it off, the route was a little more daunting this year. They had changed the course slightly from what I remember running in 2009. Instead of running most of the way up the single, long climb of Tunnel Mountain, this year’s route wrapped around the mountain’s North-side Tunnel Mountain Road proper, crested the hill, gave us a short break with about a quarter click of descent, then made us re-climb the lost elevation to crest the mountain pass one more time before dropping us back into the all-downhill-from-here return to the finish. I should have checked the website, of course, and had I done so I would have seen the info.

For interest sake, I’m including the elevation graphs as a comparison: in the above image, I’ve hacked together an overlay of this year’s race (greenish) with an elevation graph of the 2009 race (brownish). You can see that the max elevation was pretty much the same (at least according to the graphs), but in this year’s race it was that camel-back dip that did me in. 

To be fair, the 2009 route did include a bit of a climb at the 8.5K(ish) mark as the loop up to the hot-springs and back that wasn’t included in this year’s route. You can see that little hump on the graph if you look. But then, a small hump after you’ve had twenty minutes of downhill recovery is nothing compared to a similar climb after cresting a mountain a few minutes prior.

Of course, we spent a couple days in and around Canmore in the days following. It’s beginning to be a bit of an annual get-away for us.