The Rocky Mountain Soap Women’s Walk/Run

One of the items on my 40 Things To Do Before I Turn 40 list is to cross off three more provinces in my long-term “run a half marathon in every Canadian province” goal. I got British Columbia and of course Saskatchewan done before I turned 30, and I think that three more is reasonable in the next ten years. This is a goal that obviously will take some time and planning to accomplish, and I decided that getting Saskatchewan’s two neighbouring provinces, Alberta and Manitoba, done while my kids are still fairly young was the best plan. Once they’re older and able to stay on their own I can plan to travel more for other races.

I decided 2015 would be my Alberta year. I started to investigate Alberta half marathons and found several that I deemed “worth travelling for.” Each one had a scheduling issue for me – too close to the end of the school year (I knew the kids would come with me and would have to miss a couple days of school, but didn’t want to chance them having to miss their year-end field trip or other activities), during the heat of the summer, same weekend as my hometown Saskatchewan Marathon, during seeding, during harvest, etc. After discussions with my husband, we decided that seeding was the easiest time for me to disappear for a couple days.  I don’t do field work on the farm, and I could pre-make some meals to leave for him while I’d be gone. The Rocky Mountain Soap Company Women’s Walk/Run in Canmore, Alberta became my race of choice. I talked to my husband about it at least three more times before I registered, in fact I hesitated so long the race almost sold out before I reserved my spot. It’s a big deal for a farm wife to leave during seeding! He assured me he’d be fine and said “GO!” Okay!

I registered for the race and my Mom agreed to come with me to help with the kids, especially while I was running. We found a hotel with a loft apartment style room that could sleep five people plus a room in Calgary for one night (we planned a zoo trip for the kids the day after the race). I asked my prairie children if they wanted to go on a trip to see the mountains and they were thrilled!

The Rocky Mountain Soap Company is a small business turned big time. They believe that products you use on your body shouldn’t have any chemicals in them, and so make 100% natural soap, lotion, lip gloss, deodorant and every other bath and body product under the sun. Of course their products are mostly targeted at women, so creating this women’s running event was a no-brainer.

We headed off on the highway towards Calgary bright and early Friday morning. The kids were thrilled to see their 7:45 a.m. school bus speed past our house and felt quite smug that they were going on an adventure instead of going to school. At ages 5, 5 and 7, real life experiences are just as important as school, in my opinion. A couple days away to see the breath taking Rocky Mountains was well worth it.

After a quick stop in Drumheller (the area of Canada where the most dinosaur remains have been found) to look at some dinosaurs and fossils, we carried on towards Calgary. My Mom had printed off maps of our journey for each kid, and they loved following along as we drove. One of my twins especially became quite the navigator and loved telling us which highway to take.

In the mouth of the world's largest dinosaur in Drumheller

In the mouth of the world’s largest dinosaur in Drumheller

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We made it through Calgary just before rush hour and were in Canmore in time for supper. The kids’ reaction to seeing mountains for the first time made the long drive well worth it! They were completely in awe.

We checked in to the hotel, picked up my race package, ate, and then drove to the start/finish line to check it out. The course route description was fairly vague and a lot of the run would be done on paved trails, so I couldn’t really drive the course like I wanted to. It was still good to check out the start area though, so Mom could figure out her strategy for dropping me off in the morning and getting back to the hotel afterwards. It also allowed me to realize that the start/finish was halfway up a mountain…. Obviously I knew a race in the Rocky Mountains wouldn’t be flat, but I guess the “moderate hills” description on the website and the fact that this was presented as a walk/run for people of all abilities made me think the course might be a bit easier than it was! I guess a prairie girl’s idea of moderate hills is different than those who live in the mountains!

Ready to run!

Ready to run!

The  next morning we got up and Mom and the kids dropped me off at the start area. The race expo/festival was setting up and I wandered around looking at the various booths (all women’s products – jewelry, clothing, handmade home décor, etc.). The pink porta-potties each had a bottle of RMSC de-stress mist in them, and the scent of tea tree and lavender was in the air all around us. This definitely was a women’s event!

What a beautiful place for  race expo!

What a beautiful place for race expo!

Welcome to Canmore!

Welcome to Canmore!

A woman led an enthusiastic warm up, which included a humorous bit about self-breast exams, and then we were off. We spent the first five kilometres running a twisting downhill route through paved trails near the Canmore Nordic Centre. With my target race being just a week later, I had strict instructions from my coach to run this race VERY slowly. I was allowed a quicker 5 km in the middle, so after slowly warming up through the first 5 it was fun to pass some people in the second 5. I gawked at the mountains, the river, and the huge houses along the riverfront – what amazing views they have!

For my last 10km, I was to slow down again, which was difficult at first. Runners I’d passed passed me back, and then we started up and up and up. Oh my goodness. The last 5km especially almost killed me! I was glad that this wasn’t a goal race, that I was simply there to have the experience. I walked and looked at the scenery, ran some more, walked some more and finally finished in 2:06:47. I was actually pretty happy with that, considering how tough the course was, and the fact that I hadn’t pushed my pace at all, being very conscious of the target race I had coming in just eight days. Mom and the kids were at the finish line cheering, and I accepted my medal and finisher’s bag of RMSC goodies – what a great race perk! There were also cool, wet aromatherapy towels available to runners.

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Finisher's goody bag: over $50 worth of Rocky Mountain Soap Company products

Finisher’s goody bag: over $50 worth of Rocky Mountain Soap Company products

A full lunch of pasta, with meat and vegetarian sauce options and salad awaited runners. One of the race’s goals was to have zero waste, so someone was carefully monitoring the recycling bins, educating us that our plates were compostable, and utensils were recyclable.

We headed back to the hotel so everyone else could have lunch while I showered, and then we headed out on a hike. Mom and I discovered that giving three kids three choices of hiking trails and instructing them to choose one wasn’t the best plan. Another time we’ll choose one and not give them options to argue over! The hike was enjoyed by all, and I was impressed by how well the kids did.

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Mountain climbers were busy on this day, and helped the kids understand why I kept saying NO when they asked if they could climb a mountain!

Mountain climbers were busy on this day, and helped the kids understand why I kept saying NO when they asked if they could climb a mountain!

The next morning we headed out early towards Calgary and took in the zoo, then headed home on Monday after a quick trip to IKEA (Saskatchewan doesn’t have an IKEA location, so this really is a novelty for anyone heading to Alberta!).

The penguins were our favourite at the Calgary Zoo!

The penguins were our favourite at the Calgary Zoo!

Overall, I really enjoyed this race. The experience was great (scenery, expo, Rocky Mountain Soap Company finish line goody bag, cool towels, finish line food, a bright pink medal, and overall female focus).  The cons for me were the difficulty of the course, late start time (9:00 gun = hot by the time we finished), and the size of the medal. Yes, I’m one of those. I like a big medal! I would really recommend this race for someone looking for a trip with some girlfriends, or as an experience event. If you’re chasing a PR, don’t plan to get it at this one! (I actually ended up crossing several items off my list on this trip: #18: Calgary Zoo and #26: Take the kids to the mountains, as well as being one third done #8: Run half marathons in three more provinces.)

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Congrats on the run! What a great “to do” list! You picked a great race. I love Canmore!!

    Reply

  2. I love the “zero waste” goal too. More races should do that. We’re such a wasteful lot!

    Reply

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