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Race Recap: MEC North Vancouver 10K Trail Race

Race Recap: MEC North Vancouver 10K Trail Race
Race Recap: MEC North Vancouver 10K Trail Race

Last weekend, I signed up for my first MEC race and completed the North Vancouver 10 km trail race.

Early Saturday morning, Alyson picked up Alyssa, Jan, and I and we drove to Inter-River Park in North Vancouver for the race start. We joined the long line to pick up our bibs. This was my first time running an MEC race. I was initially drawn to it because of the low $15 entry fee and the JJ Bean Coffee served at the finish line! I loved the opportunity to try out a new-to-me trail in North Vancouver and really enjoyed the positive and welcoming atmosphere pre-race.

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My friends Alyssa, Alyson and I ready to race. Photo credit: Jan Heuninck

After a 10 minute pre-race yoga warm-up lead by Jeff Grace of Excel with Grace, we made our way to the start line. It was very informal. The race announcer encouraged anyone who planned to win the race to head to the very front. That group went off first and 2 minutes later the rest of us started. In hindsight I would have started closer to the front. Within minutes we reached a serious bottleneck on the trail.

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And we’re off. Photo credit: Jan Heuninck

Fortunately, after the bottleneck we hit a wide dirt and partly paved road and racers began to spread out. Then it was back into the forest for plenty of climbing on the Sea to Sky Trail. The total elevation gain for the race was 300m. I found the course easier than the 5 Peaks Cypress Mountain Trail Race. The trails were less muddy, not as technical, greater variety of terrain, and more runnable. I was able to pick up the pace on the road, gravel, and soft dirt sections. I was not the biggest fan of climbing so many sets of stairs during the race but at least all of my group personal training workouts are paying off (stairs are a regular component of our morning workouts).

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I don’t know if it was all my running leading up to the race but I was starving by mile 3.

This has never happened to me before during a race. I had a Vega gel in my back pocket but stupidly hadn’t carried any water with me to wash down the gel. Luckily, there were two aid stations on the course and the first was at mile 3. I quickly stopped at the aid station to grab a cup of water, scarf down the gel, and get back to racing. I felt a lot better after eating it.

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A few 100m from the finish line caught by paparazzi Jan Heuninck hiding in the bushes.

It has been fun and interesting doing other races while training for my goal race. I don’t usually go in with any sort of time goal or grand ambitions. However I do want to look back at the race and ask myself if I gave it everything I could at the time.

Racing more frequently is helping me deal with race anxiety and the mental challenges of racing.

One of the biggest lessons I learned during my first marathon training cycle was getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. As I run harder and longer, I am becoming better at dealing with that pain and not freaking out about being in discomfort.

I was reading a post on the Oiselle blog by elite runner Kate Grace. I love her thoughts on becoming a “discomfort master”:

The idea is that discomfort, when experienced in a performance situation, is normal. Discomfort doesn’t mean we are about to perform badly. It’s our fear response to this stress that causes all sorts of issues and poor performance under pressure. If we are able to train ourselves to not perceive performance discomfort as a threat, then we minimize our body’s fear response. We can actually practice this skill. 

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That finish line happiness. Photo credit: Jan Heuninck

After plenty of climbing, the final few miles of the race were gentle rolling hills on soft dirt trails and downhills. I love running downhill these days! It is a lot of fun to fly down the trails, fling your body over the roots, and hope that you don’t fall. Yes my idea of fun has become a little warped.

With 1 mile to go I could hear a runner gaining on me and I was constantly trying to stay ahead of him.

He caught up with me on the last big downhill and I laughingly told him I didn’t want him to run past me. The last 0.5 mile of the race was good practice in balancing pushing hard without dying out before the finish line – an ongoing fear of mine in hard workouts and races. I wasn’t going to let this runner beat me and I am pleased to announce he didn’t. I crossed the finish line only a few seconds ahead of him.

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Photo Credit: MEC North Vancouver

To my surprise I finished 10th female overall out of 103 women. Final time: 1:05:59.

Congrats to my speedy friend Alyssa who came in 4th female overall and our friend Alyson who did a great job in the 5 km. She did her first ironman 2 weeks before! Post-race we snacked on free organic bananas, Kind Bars, and JJ Bean.

Overall, the MEC North Vancouver Race was well-organized and an enjoyable course. You don’t receive a medal or any race swag but I am happy to forgo that for a low race entry fee. I hope to do another MEC race soon.

What is your favourite post-race food? Do you like chasing after runners in a race? 

6 Comments
  • Alyssa says:

    Woo hooooo! Such a fun way to kick off the weekend. Post race I love coffee and anything with a sweet+salty combination. I love chasing people! I think it really helps drive me forward in a race. I love that you talked about practicing discomfort – it’s one of my reasons to enter smaller races as well.
    Congratulations on an awesome finish! Looking forward to more fun running together.

  • Saw your post on Canadian Girl Runs’ linkup. Congrats on a great race. Looks like such a beautiful trail!

    Post-race food – I typically race for the social aspect with a bunch of friends and my favourite thing to do after is go for brunch!

    • daniellemleroux@gmail.com says:

      Thanks for coming by to read! I love going out for brunch with friends post-race too, or even coffee just to debrief and talk about the race!

  • Nellie says:

    What a great way to think about discomfort, I need to become a discomfort master–at the current time I am a discomfort wimp. 🙂 Beautiful race photos!! Post race food is either an apple right away but brunch is really my favorite 🙂

    • daniellemleroux@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Nellie! My friend Jan takes some fantastic photos of our races! And yes… reading that quote on discomfort really helped shift my perspective but it’s definitely a work in progress.

  • […] 8 was my highest mileage week yet, a great trail race, and quality workouts. Apparently, it all caught up to me this week. I skipped runs, had terrible […]

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