Melissa’s Road Race didn’t start until after 10 a.m. so for once in our lives we got to sleep in and relax on race day morning. The Banff Boutique Inn includes a complimentary breakfast buffet, and it was perfect as our pre-race meal. Their breakfast buffet that morning included bread, home made cookies, home made granola, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, juices, coffee and more. The home made granola and cookies were delicious and also a perfect start to the day. The breakfast room was comfortable and I enjoyed watching other people. One thing that I noticed was how trusting people are. I saw many people leave their purses and iPads at their tables as they went up for food. We were sitting in a separate room from the breakfast buffet so that meant they left their valuables in a room full of strangers and went to get food. Anybody could have walked by and taken something. Fortunately nobody did but I’m still always astonished at how trusting people are. Maybe I’m just jaded or paranoid, but I would never leave my valuables on a table in a room full of strangers to get food. Anyway, back to the race.
After breakfast we walked to the start/finish area. It was only about a two minute walk and they were just setting up the timing mats as we approached. We had plenty of time to stretch and warm up and take in our surroundings. It was beautiful and there were mountains everywhere. I was so excited to run this scenic race. John Stanton, the founder of the Running Room was the announcer for our race so we walked over to where he was sitting. He and Dan were wearing the same jacket so Dan called out “Hey John Stanton! I like your jacket!” and John Stanton said “You clearly have very good taste in clothes.” Someone even asked me if I worked at the Running Room because I had so much Running Room gear on. I explained that I was doing my marathon training program with them and since we meet at the store every week it was hard not to go shopping. Also I love their gear.
The 22k race was set to start shortly after the 10k race. We went to the start line and watched the 10k runners take off. Since my marathon was less than a month away I planned on using Melissa’s Road Race as a training run. I saw the 2:30 pace bunnies wearing tutus but decided to run with the 2:25 bunny. I told Dan I’d be happy with a time between 2:20 and 2:30. Our pace bunny was named Dennis and he said that he was running a 6 min/k pace and doing 10 and 1s. I wasn’t sure about running that pace at that altitude, but decided to try it out. The altitude in Toronto is approximately 75 metres to 250 metres above sea level. Meanwhile the altitude in Banff is 1,463 m to 1,630 m above sea level. That’s quite a difference! Having never run at that altitude before I wasn’t sure how I would do.
When we started, Dan had fun chatting with Dennis and hearing about all of the different marathons that he’s run in. He’s even run in the Great Wall Marathon, which is one of the runs that I hope to do someday. Usually when I run I feel a little out of breath for the first kilometre or so and then my body adjusts and I get into a groove. This time I felt out of breath for the entire race, so I’m pretty sure it was due to the higher altitude. It was ok though because the route was scenic and beautiful with forest, mountains and trees. It more than made up for my breathlessness and I couldn’t stop looking around as we ran. About halfway through Dan and I stopped and took a picture. We tried to catch up to Dennis and the rest of the group but I realized that I couldn’t, so I told Dan to run ahead. After that I took the rest of the race easy and stopped to walk when I had to. I couldn’t stop looking around though and it was definitely one of the most memorable races that I’ve run in. Towards the end there was a series of hills and while many people walked them, I proudly ran up them. I had been doing hill training with my marathon training group and I kept thinking that I didn’t do all of that hill training for nothing! There was an out and back section near the end and I started looking for Dan. I saw him and screamed his name and he waved at me. I knew I was almost done. When I crossed the finish line John Stanton said my name and I was overjoyed. I managed to finish between 2:25 and 2:30, which made me happy considering it was a training run for me. Dan finished in about 2:21 or so. This race didn’t have finishers medals but we got a nice long sleeved cotton t-shirt with artwork on it. I was happy with that and because the race was so beautiful I didn’t think it need a medal.
After the race we stuck around for a while to see if we had won any prizes. We didn’t win anything and we ended up getting very cold as our muscles cooled and we started to feel the wind. The after race bag they give you is full of food and I was really impressed. We went back to the Banff Boutique Inn to have a snack and warm up. I wanted to go and run another 10k since I was supposed to run 32k that day for my marathon training. Dan was originally going to come with me but when he unzipped his jacket back at the hotel he screamed. I looked over and it turns out his left nipple was bleeding! I don’t have a picture because we were both so horrified, though I couldn’t stop laughing at his reaction. It turns out he had put our hotel key in his chest pocket so it had rubbed against his nipple. After that he decided not to go back for a run. I headed out on my own and soon felt cold again. I decided to run the Marsh Loop but it wasn’t what I expected. It was a wooded area and it was so quiet that I started to get paranoid about black bears. Brown bears I can handle but I didn’t know what I would do if I saw a black bear or grizzly bear. After a while I turned back around and went back to the Inn. I only got a few extra k in but later on I googled bear sightings on the Marsh Loop and discovered that there had been black bears there the month before. I think it’s better that I went back considering I was by myself without any bear spray.
After a hot shower and a nap we went to Melissa’s Restaurant for a late lunch. It seemed fitting since we had just run Melissa’s Road Race and we also had a coupon from the Banff Boutique Inn for the restaurant. I had an Alberta Big Rock beer and tried to order the prime rib but it wouldn’t be ready for another hour. Instead I ended up getting a rib eye with a salad because the waitress recommended it to me. Dan had a pizza. The rib eye was delicious and the salad came with two types of dressing to choose from. I was impressed by this. The waitress asked us if we ran Melissa’s because I had my race shirt on. We proudly told her that we ran the 22k and she told us that she had been out volunteering today and was now due for along shift at the restaurant. Since we were there we decided to buy Melissa’s Road Race socks. I love those socks and still wear them. We finished off our dinner with a piece of home made apple pie. Like everything else, it was delicious.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped and got Beaver Tails. For the entire race I had thought about eating Beaver Tails, so this was a nice treat. I got my favourite, which is cinnamon and sugar with lemon. I love the combination of the sweet with the little hint of lemony sour. It was one of the best Beaver Tails that I’ve ever eaten and I felt very Canadian with it. We went back to the hotel and relaxed.
Dan was in rough shape because he raced so hard at Melissa’s so he was done for the day. He went to bed without dinner and I had my leftovers from the Old Spaghetti Factory. It was the perfect dinner. At the hotel we had access to the fridge, microwave, bowls, cutlery etc., which made it possible to reheat my spaghetti from the night before. Feeling tired we called it a night and I checked off running my fifth half marathon (in my third Canadian province). Melissa’s Road Race is a beautiful, scenic race and I highly recommend it to anyone. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still picture the mountains and the peacefulness of the route.