i’m back from my trip to jasper and reflecting on the amazing time i had there! as i mentioned the week before, i was headed to jasper for their first ever half marathon to run the 10k. i honestly could not think of a better place to have had my first marathon experience. it was truly a memorable weekend and, for myself, a huge accomplishment in my fitness journey.
the drive to jasper is one of my all time favourites. the scenery is something else. i was also pretty excited for my boyfriend to see the drive as he had never been to jasper before! we took our time driving up and made a couple stops – one being the columbia icefields (which is a must if you’re heading that way). it had been a really long time since i’d done that drive so it was a serene 5 hours for me. i was a little worried when we hit snow about an hour outside of jasper, but it quickly disappeared the closer we got and turned into a beautifully sunny day. the whole time leading up to the race, i struggled a bit to get my head prepared. it didn’t feel like i was going to be running 10k in a matter of hours and i think i was maybe a little distracted by all the beautiful scenery surrounding us (not that that was a bad thing).
i had never stayed at the fairmont jasper park lodge but as we drove in, i knew it was going to be spectacular. even stepping into the main lobby, i was pretty blown away by the whole place. not to mention the views we had from our room. for 2 mornings this beautifully teal lake and mountain tops greeted us. the hotel is pretty unique with all of the rooms looking like cabins from the outside and then beautiful rooms on the inside. oh, and the beds are seriously the most comfortable. ever.
i was honestly a little nervous the morning before the run. i kind of just wanted to get started, but the race didn’t start until the afternoon so we had an easy, calm morning. we ate an amazing breakfast at Orso, a restaurant in the JPL, where we had also enjoyed an amazing dinner the night before. after a light breakfast, we drove out to see some of the surrounding area. i was grateful in the end to have that time to calm my nerves and get my head in the right space. to prepare mentally, i really just tried to embrace the calm that i was surrounded by and listen too everyone who told me i could do it. i’ve always been so connected to nature and so at peace when i’m surrounded by it, just one more reason why this was the perfect place for my first race experience.
watching the 21k runners pass the starting line, i felt excited for whatever i was going to experience over the next few hours of running. i’ve mentioned it before this year, but i’ve committed to fully to releasing the need for expectations in any area of my life. i have always felt like there is really no benefit to expecting something to go a certain way – it will either disappoint or be absolutely nothing like what you expected, so what’s the point? this mindset has actually amazed me so far and it’s become a big part of my yes year! going into the 10k, i held zero expectations of what i would be experiencing and feeling. i think that made it even more exciting for me.
the first 1k i felt really great, my knees were solid and my energy was up. by around the 3rd kilometer mark, i started to get shin splints, which are THE WORST. by the first water station they thankfully disappeared and i was back in action. the rest of the run felt really great. the weather was really perfect – not too hot and not too cold, and the route for the run was absolutely stunning. i played the “mind over matter” game when i started to get sore or tired and told myself that any pain was just temporary, which kept me going.
my favourite part of the whole race was probably the tunnel right before the finish line. it was totally hidden and such a beautiful way to end the race. it was such a special moment having my boyfriend snapping photos, running alongside me to finish the race. the feeling after pushing yourself physically and mentally is truly an amazing rush. i usually get a bit emotional with these kinds of things, given my fitness journey, and this one was a pretty big milestone for me. i held no expectations of my finishing time, i really just wanted to finish, but i crossed the finish line at 1:10 and was pretty stoked on that time for my first run ever!
after the race we were surprised with some goodies in our room, enjoyed a steam in the steam room and a dip in the hot tub and then it was off to the banquet dinner. the food was seriously amazing and it felt great to sit and reflect on the day with the awesome people we met over the weekend!
the next morning after another delicious breakfast at Orso, we took our time heading back to calgary and stopped at a ton of spots along the way. my favourite was probably the athabasca falls. the sound of rushing water never gets old! we had a ton of fun getting different pictures and throughout the trip kind of became a little obsessed with panorama shots (sorry not sorry for all the panos i’ve been sharing : P ).
in true spirit of it being a weekend of firsts, i saw my first bear(s)! leaving jasper we saw a black bear on the side of the road, which was super intimidating, but such a cool experience (and i can say that because we were safely in the truck). then later on on our drive we saw this grizz!
we ended the drive with a stop off in banff at one of my favourite restaurants, Park. to top off an amazing weekend, our last hour of the drive was surrounded by this breathtakingly beautiful sunset.
overall, i had such an unforgettable experience in a short 3 days spent in jasper. i’m super grateful to have been a part of the first ever half marathon in jasper! i would highly recommend this race to anyone who loves beautiful scenery and unique marathon experiences! i have to say, i think i’ve been bit by the running bug and plan to incorporate more of it into my regular routine. maybe even go back and do the full 21k next year! do you guys have a favourite marathon experience? share it with us!
big thank you to Teresa and the JPL staff for making this such a great experience for us! *please note* this post is sponsored by Jasper Park Lodge. all thoughts and opinions are my own.