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Finally the big day!  Melissa’s Road Race!   My weeks of running finally put to the test.  Would I make it through my 10K??

The late September morning started overcast and chilly.  We changed into our running gear and headed downstairs to the lodge cafe for a quick bite.  My light breakfast consisted of some toast and a bit of cereal.  After breakfast, we went back to our rooms to pack our bags.

We arrived at the Banff Recreation Grounds to festivities and a dynamic group warm-up session.  As 10:30 am approached, the marshalling call for runners to make their way over to the start line came more frequently.  N was already on her way to the start line while I waited for big sis.  I took some photos while waiting.

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The start line (red) seems so far off, yet the finish line (green) is so close.

The start line (red) seems so far off, yet the finish line (green) is so close.

It took a while to funnel all the people past the start line and on the race/run course.  Big sis and I eventually made it past the start line and ran at a leisurely pace.  After standing in the chilly weather for so long, it was good to be running and keeping warm.  We were running the 10K route.   It was exciting to see all the people on the side cheering us on.

Soon enough, we were running on Banff Avenue and crossing the bridge.  We ran through part of the town centre and I felt sorry for the motorists who were stopped at the intersections.  Maybe no one warned them that it was the annual road race…?  We weren’t the earliest in the group to run by but we were far from the last.  In fact, the 21K people were set to start after the 10K racers were out of the gates. They were not too far off behind us but there was a big group of them.  At least, that’s what I thought until my sister mentioned that the 21K people shared our start and finish line but they had a different route.

As we left the main road of the town centre and turned up some streets, the slope was getting steeper.  I could feel my body struggling to keep moving.  Big sis was really good as she did not push me to run faster but rather let me set the pace.  Unlike the Sun Run where I ran 10s and 1s (run 10 minutes and walk 1 minute), I decided to just keep running until I had to stop and then walk while catching my breath.  It worked out well.  I ran until we were on our way up the first steep hill (mountain?) and walked for a few minutes to catch my breathe.  We also passed by a water station and I accepted some water as we went by.  When I was refreshed and ready, we started at a light jog again.

Up the mountain was tough but soon enough, we were running downhill.  I took advantage of the downhill slope and let gravity take control of the run.  Thankfully it wasn’t raining and I did not have to concern myself about slipping on wet pavement.  Running down the hill felt awesome.  I kept running until we were heading uphill again.  A bit of jogging, a bit of walking and a bit of admiring the scenery helped get me through the uphill stretch.  And like before, getting past the worst of the uphill meant we were rewarded with another downhilll slope.  The best part was running downhill, rounding the bend and seeing a beautiful view of Banff Springs Hotel and the river.

We were on a timed race but since I was not too concerned about my finish time, I wanted to stop and take a photo of the beautiful scenery. We slowed down and I prepared to pose when big sis realized that her cell phone was out of battery.  Oh well, I guess that’s a sign that we should just keep running. Sigh..

The last few kilometres became more difficult and as we ran through the footpaths (that was still okay) and to Bow Avenue, I could feel my energy level decreasing.  Although it was nice to run beside the river, I didn’t like the narrowness of the Bow Avenue area.  In fact, out of the entire 10K route, that was my least favourite part.  I don’t like the feel of someone on my heels or people are too close to me or that I’m holding up the crowd behind me.  Crowdaphobic?

After what seemed like forever, we were finally back on Cave Avenue and running the last kilometre back to the finish line.  Just as we were approaching the turn off to Sundance Road (the road that the race started on), I noticed some guy running past us.  He looked as though he was running at a leisurely and consistent pace (unlike myself where I was practically dragging my heels…) As we approached the track, we heard the announcer say that the first guy from the 21K was nearing the finish line.  Yup, the 21K guy finished before I could drag my sorry self to the 10K finish line.  Sigh…

But, unlike the 2013 Sun Run where it was a painful run to the finish line, I was re-energized as we hit the track.  My niece had promised to be close to the side lines (before the finish line) to give me a high-5 so  I searched the crowds for her pink coat.  Lo and behold, I saw her standing with Jehfu and N.  I dashed towards her as she cheered for me and gave me a high-5.  That was definitely the highlight of my run!!!  In the blink of an eye, we ran past the finish line and were cheered by the many volunteers at the finish line.  It didn’t matter who was out there but what mattered the most was that I finished my 10K run with big sis and got a high-5 from my dear little niece.

We hung around the festivities for a little while and watched as people received awards for being top in their category.  The patch of blue sky was just starting to emerge but it was still quite chilly.  Unable to withstand the cold, we decided to leave the grounds and look for some lunch.

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It was N’s first trip to Banff.  In addition to finding some food, we wanted to take her for some sight-seeing.  We stopped by The Fairmont Banff Springs for lunch.  We wanted to find a sit-down restaurant to enjoy a nice post-run lunch.

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We stopped by the Bow Valley Grill.  Lucky us!  They have weekend brunch buffet on Saturdays and Sundays until 2 pm.  We arrived at 1:45 pm and just made it in before they closed.  The hostess assured us that the 2 pm cut-off was for seating but the chefs would continue to replenish the food.

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Our late brunch was fantastic!  The buffet rush was already over and the restaurant was only half full when we were seated.  I loved having fewer people in the restaurant as that meant no line-ups, no mad dash to get food and I could eat quite comfortably. (Definitely a better buffet experience than that on the cruise ship from the week before!)  Of course, the quality of the food was fabulous!  Although I wasn’t able to try everything, I made sure to try a bit of all my cravings.

plate #1

plate #1

plate #2

plate #2

I really enjoyed the Salmon Eggs Benedict, the roasted vegetables, seafood salad, smoked salmon and prawns.  There was also brie baked in filo pastry that was very tasty.    The Earl Grey Tea was perfect and I think I drank half the pot by myself.  I was in buffet heaven!  What a great way to celebrate after our 10K run!

I thought about going back for more seafood (I love prawns and smoked salmon..yum, yum) but decided to save some space for dessert.  The spread looked pretty good and I made sure to try some.

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my dessert plate

my dessert plate

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It’s been years since my last visit to the brunch buffet but it tastes just as good.  I really enjoyed the meal and this late brunch buffet filled me up for the rest of the day.  No kidding, N and I didn’t eat dinner that evening!

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After our delicious meal at the buffet, we spent some time walking around the hotel and exploring the various rooms. A beautiful hotel indeed!

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Before heading back to Calgary, we also stopped by to see the Bow River and the Banff Town Centre.

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Bye bye, Banff… Until next time!!

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