It’s taken the drive home today and a little perspective to put into words what went down this past weekend in Golden, British Columbia. I was committed to taking on a challenge in my 40th year and the Golden Ultra “Half Pint” turned out to be the perfect one. I initially thought I’d do a marathon but I’m a mountain girl at heart, I hate pavement!
Sure, there were a few moments the past few days that sucked, but I was there to embrace that and to see what I was made of. The moments of laughter, tons of sweat, plenty of smiles, a few blisters, numerous mountains to climb, miles of incredible trails, gorgeous views, happy tears at finish lines, and really awesome people made it all worthwhile and then some.
The breakdown: The Half Pint courses totaled 47 km (about 29 miles), with more than 7,000 feet of elevation gain, over 3 days.
Day 1: CLIMB
3 km with 2,324” gain
This course was at Kicking Horse Ski Resort, where we took a chair lift halfway up and then climbed our way to the summit. I actually ran very little of this but was able to meet my goal of not stopping and kept my steady pace. The end was getting painful but in the most glorious way. The views were amazing, especially at the top, and crossing that finish line felt like a true accomplishment. My legs were extremely thankful for the gondola ride back down!
Day 2: CONQUER
32 km w/ 3,828” gain
This has been both my longest run and race to date and somehow ended up being an event with a story of human connection, much like my previous longest race/run.
Without going into a ton of detail, I’m really happy with a decision I made midrace to support another trail sister – that I had the mental and physical ability to do so in a stretch where she needed support and encouragement. This is what trail running is about for me. It’s not the time that counts, those are just minutes, but those moments on the course are where the magic happens, what makes these events memorable.
In regards to the actual running, I’m really happy with how it all felt, especially that I had the fitness and grit to run a solid last third of the event, after already putting in a half marathon’s worth of miles and steep climbs (not to forget the Climb the day before).
Day 3: CRUISE
12 km w/ 920” gain
I woke up Sunday feeling a little stiff and wasn’t quite sure how Sunday would go but I knew I was just in it to have fun and finish, whatever that took. I started running this course and was surprised at how good I felt and that running felt easy. I ran everything I could and power hiked the uphills as I usually do, including another good climb in the middle, and found myself smiling pretty much the whole time. I was really in the moment, enjoying the trails.
Overall, I went into training for this with a few goals: to finish, have fun, challenge myself, push my limits, test my fears (of bears – I didn’t even carry my bear spray!!!), and to not get injured or put my RA remission in jeopardy. I accomplished all of that and more.
I’m most proud of myself for not using my disease as an oppressor or excuse but as a motivator. I can and will continue to challenge and push myself while still honoring my body’s health limitations. Kidney donation also hasn’t impacted my abilities whatsoever. I’ve successfully trained my body to take in the liquids needed to keep my one kidney well hydrated and happy.
It’s not lost on me that this is a privilege. I’ll never forget the days I could barely walk, much less run on challenging mountain trails multiple days in a row. It’s also never going to be a reason for me to give up or give in. I have an amazing support system, including my dear friend Laura and her family in Golden who hosted me and cheered me on at the start and finish lines, that support me, train me and give advice, and are my cheerleaders. For all of this, I live in gratitude.
What’s next? I don’t know. I physically feel great, enjoyed a celebratory dinner and wine with friends, and will take a few days of rest before I’m back at it and planning the next adventure!
If you didn’t see Shawna’s original KDA story, you can check it out here.