On Saturday, ten of us we headed to beautiful as always Banff for the Ekiden Relay. Ekiden is one of those great relays because you all start and finish from the same point. This gives ample time to change, eat, take pictures, or oops, not hear your team number called and have to dash out to start your leg. The two teams finished within minutes of each other and I think we can all say we enjoyed the race. The only thing for want was coffee. We've decided to take full advantage of the outlets next year and bring a perk. Think they'll mind?

Group Shot
I love relays. Relaxed, fun, good food - thanks again Chris for your amazing cookies. It's great to catch up with people, have ridiculous car conversations, and plan for bigger days to come, like the Sinister 7 next July. I have decided I'm only about going longer than 21.1 if it involves mountains. While not a realy, I read in a back issue of impact (here) about the Tor des Geants in Italy. Antipasti, wine, yes please; 25 mountain passes and 330 or so odd kilometers, bring it. This is a race I dream of going on with a few close friends - crazy like me friends. Italy however is a few years away so I should get back to the present and tell you more about Ekiden.

This year I did leg two, 13.8 scenic kilometers down Tunnel Mountain and through Banff Springs golf course. It was another one of those fantastic runs for me. My mantra as of late: 'this is your run'. Not getting caught up in those around me allowed me to focus on running consistent and at a pace leaving me sure of a sub-2 finish in Vegas. Running at 300m (985 feet) higher than what we run in Calgary, I was happy to clock a 5:40 km average pace without a side stitch, without walk breaks, but not without a quick trip to the ditch. Thank goodness for mountain conifers for protection. I think the general consensus was that everyone had a great run. There's scenery to distract you and the fresh mountain air gives you a lift.

Passing off to Rebecca
Ekiden is good and bad for one same reason, the final hill. All five legs finish up a fairly long, steep hill. I recently listened to an "Another Mother Runner" podcast about hill running. In it Dim talked about transferring 80% of your energy to your upper body. As the course had a few ups and downs, I practiced on the smaller inclines first knowing I'd have to try something, anything, to get me up the monster at the end. My conclusion: I killed the hill! Never before have I enjoyed hills and here I was, running, up a friggin' beast. Yes by the end I still wanted to keel over but... I was upright, breathing (barely), and elated. From what I consider to be the bottom it is about 65m gain over .85km, from the corner where they radio your number up, it's a 55m gain in .6km. So about a 9% grade. Mean nothing to you? Ya, me neither. Rather, I think Tricia's face sums it up much better.


Friends, with out them relays wouldn't be fun. Without them we'd be bored out of our mind running on our own. Without them we'd have no one to hoot and holler for us or make fun of us. Without them we'd have no one to push harder with or pull energy from. Friday nights will soon be a mainstay for a few of us as we head indoors to train and do speed work together. I think Saturday was a great lead up to that to get us hyped about training together consistently and knowing a glass of chocolate milk and goodies will await us post-workout.

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