My thoughts on Cryo – once again an amazing experience!
After being part of the pilot group last year I couldn’t resist the call to return to Lac St Jean for the official event launch. The views of the lake, the darkness, the cold and the silence were irresistible. Adding to that we would be raising money for a charity – Sur la pointe des pieds which I hold close to my heart having been involved in many events with them. I didn’t ponder if long before I signed up.
Race day we left early and headed to Roberval. As Samantha and I approached we both gasped at the size of Lac St Jean, me having forgot the immensity of it from the previous year. After a quick power nap we headed to the Village sur Glace, all geared up and ready to go. There was enough time to greet some old friends and get introduced to some of the other runners and see Jean-Charles, the director of the foundation with his usual smile on his face. We jumped in the bus and headed for the hour plus drive to Peribonka. When we arrived we were treated to full sun at the start line. Runners, volunteers and friends and family all mingled and the environment was festive. We had some instructions and some speeches and we were off.
The group was large split 50/50 – snowshoes vs trail shoes with spikes. The previous year spikes were the better call and it’s a bit of a guess what you are going to get in terms of conditions in the middle of the lake. Due to the ease I went with spikes – this would come back to haunt many of us very shortly. We kicked off the line and we were off. It was tough going with soft loose snow and we tried to not burn much energy early and hoped for better conditions further on into the lake. The first aid station was at 3km and by then we already knew that we were in for a long day – burning energy, overheating and struggling with each step. I put my head down and continued on. I slowed down and took pictures and tried to appreciate where I was but each step was a challenge. I tried to focus on one step at a time and keeping it light and easy and accepting that no speed records were getting broken that day. By 10km all of the slipping and sliding had taken a toll on my hip. An old lingering issues that until now was more annoying that anything but was really starting to hurt and prevent me from getting much momentum. I pushed forward into the dark and managed to laugh and smile with some other runners but the hip and the conditions were taking a toll. I continued to push on but maintaining any sort of running pace became nearly impossible and I still had half of the race to go.
At 19km I made the decision to drop. It was a terrible feeling but I knew it was the right thing to do. I wasn’t moving fast enough and was losing heat and shivering and it was potentially dangerous for me to stay out there for the time that would be required to finish the race. I never considered dropping but here I was. I spoke to a volunteer on a snowmobile and told her that I was dropping but I wanted to fight it out to the next aid station at 22km. I hobbled there full of emotions but knew it was the right decision.
The volunteers bundled me up and put me on a snowmobile to head back into Roberval. It was a long and cold ride in. I arrived and was frozen. I sat down on a bench near the finish line and let some tears out with my head in my hands. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
Samantha arrived quickly with a hug and some beers in her purse and quickly got me laughing and smiling again and the moment of feeling sorry for myself passed. Her support and comfort was invaluable and I am so glad she was there. I got up and got my warm jacket on and we headed to the finish line to cheer on other runners coming in. For anyone who set out that day it was an amazing accomplishment. Equally impressive to me was the runners that were at the front of the pack but also those in the back who spent over 5hrs on the ice. It is an amazing feat and having been out there I can attest to how difficult this event was having now run 64km on the lake over 2yrs.
What a day!
Remember this was the first year for this event and $146k were raised for Sur la Pointe des Pieds. Lac St jean was once again spectacular and the experience like nothing else. The organization was top notch from the communications to the volunteers to the race day. Everything was on point which again is exceptional for the first year of an event. The camaraderie was fantastic as well and you could find a better group of people than the runners out on the lake today. I look forward to seeing this event grow and the success continue and thank you to all who contributed to my fundraising and thank you to Samantha for her love and support and to all my family and friends.
What is intriguing about these events is the difficulty and potential to not complete the challenge. Unfortunately Saturday was not my day but if we succeed at everything we try then we aren’t setting the bar high enough. So this weekend the lake beat me but I will be back to take care of unfinished business and as someone pointed out to me the Foundation was the huge winner on the day.
So congratulations and huge thanks to the charity, to Jean-Charles and Katia and all those involved, to the runners and the volunteers. I will see you all on the lake again next year. Come join us. You won’t regret it.