The air is crisp, but the weather is very nice for a November Sunday morning. I’m with my Love, walking briskly down Mount Royal park to “the statue”, everybody’s meeting point. The ultra runners have already started doing 11-km laps up and down the mountain.
I have been injured and off training for over 4 weeks now, with a still undiagnosed, weird ailment that affects my left knee with a pain very similar to IT Band Syndrome, without being just that. Sports therapist told me I had a weak right gluteus, while my osteo said I’m too anxious about my big event and run too stiff. No matter who’s right, the fact remains: I haven’t been running in what feels like ages.
We meet Geneviève and LP, who just came down to support the runners. It feels wonderful to see them again, and the hugs abound. We have only a couple minutes to chat before the first runners start coming down the last stretch, ready for another lap.
Josée quickly shows up, with no else than the great Pierre Lequient by her side. Pierre is one of the people responsible for my jump into the ultra marathon world last summer, as he inspired me while running his first-ever 100K like there was nothing to it. Another round of happy hugs.
And, just like that, Pierre is on his way and my Louise and I tag along with Josée for her next lap. We have about 5,5K uphill, a quick turnaround and another 5,5K downhill to complete a full loop. Louise is nervous, because she never ran more than 10K. I am nervous, because the last time I tried to run anything, I had to quit before the 3K mark and limp my way down to the office.
The pace is slow and friendly and the spirits are high. I haven’t seen Josée for a bit now and we have lots of stuff to catch up on. She looks awesome, with her cheeks blushed by her first loop. She shuffles effortlessly and fills me in on what happened in the running world while I was busy being miserable, and I’m just happy to be there. Every time I turn around to look at Louise, she is smiling and breathing in the beautiful autumn air.
Things went really well. We trotted up and down the mountain, slow and happy. My fear of feeling my knee give in slowly faded away, and I even tried a couple faster strides to see just how that would feel. Even the downhill was a breeze.
It’s obvious that the weight-lifting and the exercises my coach gave me during recovery were a tremendous help. My running form has improved. I feel stronger, I stand firmer and my legs have a better turnover, even more in downhill. My foot fall is brisk and light and I don’t seem to have lost too much cardio.
We decided to get wise and call it a day after one loop, reluctantly leaving Josée to her happy trails. It was a great long run for Louise, and a fantastic comeback for me. Having been away from the sport I love for what felt like an eternity, this run was the breath of fresh air I had been longing for.
I got up this morning and didn’t feel any pain or soreness. I have other slow comeback runs planned this week, and I just can’t wait. I feel incredibly well and happy. I can start daydreaming of my trip to the Canyons and how my run with the Raramuri and Mas Locos will inspire my running for years to come.
I now have hope.