Ever heard of Seek the Peak before? Probably not, and if you have… Well you might think I was crazy for signing up for it. Hell! Even one of the volunteers today, when I thanked him for being out there said he always wanted to see what crazy runners looked like.
Seek the Peak is crazy. It’s 16km of roads and trails with a 4100 foot gain that takes you from Ambleside Park up to Grouse Mountain, up the Grouse Grind and then you have another little 3k up and down jaunt you do. I am not going to lie, it’s tough. And hellish. Something that both mentally and physically can knock you on your ass. Some people complete this whole course in under 1:30. I can’t even complete the Grind portion in that!!
My goal today, my ONLY goal was not to be last. I am not Speedy McSpeederson, I am ok with that. But I wanted to not be the last person on the course. So I looked at the solo times for last year, and figured as long as I was under 3:50 I was good! I could do that right? Of course I could.
I got up at 4:30am, cursed and muttered, almost losing my last contact which would have been a disaster. I headed out to get Jen so we could hit the mountain for 6:30 and catch a shuttle bus down to the start. It was rainy out, and I figured a long sleeve was the way to go, as I tend to run cold.
We met up with Candice, Hilary, Dave, Lisa and Cory at the start. And yes, for at least 30 minutes Jen, Candice, Hilary and I were in the bathroom just to stay dry. I mean why get wet when you don’t have to?
Jen and I stuck together for the first 10k, until we got to the Grind. Everyone else was way ahead, and I appreciated her hanging back with me for that relaxing first bit. We chatted, took it easy, and I had to (again) make an off course pee break. It’s starting to become a theme with me and trails lately.
All was good mentally for me until we hit the roadway up to the grind. We passed my car, and I wanted to crawl in it. I won’t lie, I was NOT looking forward to the climb up the grind. I’d been shitting bricks over it for a few weeks wondering why I signed up for this. But I kept trudging away, one foot in front of the other.
Jen pushed on at the Grind and I just kept moving. Left foot, right foot, very minimal swearing (and for those that know me, running and hills that’s unheard of) but lots of mental struggles. I had people pass me, I passed people and at times really wanted to just throw in the towel. I did say over and over I would never do this again. I would never be this stupid to do this stupid idiotic race.
One lady said to me, after she told me it was her 7th year in a row doing the climb, that we all know someone who had breast cancer. And that what would I rather do? Sit in a chair having chemotherapy or do this race to help raise money. I understood what she meant, and it was a valid point. But at that moment, once she passed me, I muttered under my breath “I never want to do this race again.”
By the time I got to the top of the grind I was about 3 hours into the race. I knew I still had a hell of a climb coming up from what friends told me, and I knew that really the worst was over. I plugged away, running the parts I could and walking when I needed to. I was bagged. When I got to the part where the climb started, the volunteers jokingly said for $20 they would let me skip the hill and go to the finish. I thought about it and then said nope. I’m not someone who gives up. So I kept on going.
Luckily it was at this point I saw Cory coming down the hill. We hooted, cheered, high 5’ed each other and Cory told me he had already quit 3 times. I was proud he didn’t give up, signing up last minute and under trained he ROCKED that race. I kept going, chatting with a lady who I was pacing myself up the hill with. Thankfully she was there because on the way down I started going in the wrong direction. Whoops!
I ran the hills the best I could, taking it easy with the steepness and knowing my knees were not going to be happy with me. As I got near the bottom, I saw Wendy, a lady I had met on the grind who was struggling. I ran across, hugged her and said that yeah the climb sucked but she was going to finish. I hope it helped her out.
When I came back to the volunteer who said I could bypass for $20 I asked him if I got that for not giving up. He laughed and told me no way in hell, so I said worth a try, and kept on moving. I ran, albeit slowly the rest of the way, and was so happy to see the finish and Jen waiting for me! She got some awesome shots of me crossing the line.
What was really cool and unexpected was we got medals. Apparently this was the first year? We popped into the lodge, grabbed a quick snack to go and left. All I wanted to do was get into dry clothes and go home.
In the end my time was 3:33:40 and I was not the last person across. My time for the grind portion was 1:32:36 which made me so proud!!! My best time on fresh legs is 1:23:33 so this was incredible. Jen held up a sweater so I could strip on the side of the road and get my wet pants off and away we went.
Everyone who completed this race did amazing. It’s one that is not for the faint of heart, and no matter your time, completing it is the most amazing thing ever. My ONLY complaint is…. How the hell did I get mud all the way up to my knees AGAIN?