Author Archive

Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon Weeks 4 + 5 / 11

02.05.2016
Schedule: 
Strength + Stretch.
Distance: 0km. Did not strengthen nor stretch.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 10km.
Music: N/A

03.05.2016
Schedule: 6.5km run.
Distance: 0km.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 8.5km.
Music: N/A

04.05.16
Schedule: 7 x 400 track intervals.
Distance: 6.75km – ran with friends again; it makes all the difference.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 9km.
Music: N/A

05.05.16
Schedule: 5km run + strength
Distance: 0km.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 9km.
Music: N/A

06.05.16
Schedule: Rest (yay!)
Distance: 0km.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift):
5km.

07.05.16
Schedule: 5km pace
Distance: 0km.
Daytime Distance: 5km. Walked with my son and his school in the local parade.
Music: N/A

08.05.16
Schedule: 13km long run
Distance: 0km.
Daytime Distance: 7.5km split between a trip to the park with Spud and a family Mother’s Day hike.
Music: N/A

WEEK 4 TOTALS

Distance (actual vs scheduled): 6.75km vs 36km
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 54km

*****************************************************

09.05.2016
Schedule: 
Strength + Stretch.
Distance: 0km.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 7.5km.
Music: N/A

10.05.2016
Schedule: 6.5km run.
Distance: 0km. Commute from hell coming home, lost will to run… Sent Colin out instead while I covered Spud’s dinner and bedtime. Wine.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 8km.
Music: N/A

11.05.16
Schedule: 40min Tempo
Distance: 40min with hills instead = 5.5km. Ran the biggest hill all the way without stopping, which is a big deal for me! Total run was actually 6.5km in 47min.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 11km.
Music: Fall Out Boy’s American Beauty / American Psycho album played straight through and then repeated.

12.05.16
Schedule: 5km run + strength
Distance: 5km
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 9km.
Music: Can’t remember if I had my iPod for this run.

13.05.16
Schedule: Rest (yay!)
Distance: 0km.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift):
12km. Also includes hanging out downtown after work waiting to meet up with friends for drinks.

14.05.16
Schedule: 5km pace
Distance: 0km.
Music: N/A

15.05.16
Schedule: 15km long run
Distance: 17km. Ran with Colin and Dianna in Squamish. Completed the Coast Mountain Trail Series’ Survival of the Fittest long course, minus the short downhill/uphill of the start/finish. Since they are in the final taper for their race the distance was short enough that I could finally tag along! I’ll be doing the SOTF short course in 2 weeks so it was a nice preview.
Music: N/A

WEEK 5 TOTALS

Distance (actual vs scheduled): 28.5km vs 37km
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 47.5km

Note: Remember to take your vitamins! The difference in how I felt between Week 4 and Week 5 was night and day once I started taking my vitamins, and specifically my iron, again.


Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon Week 3 / 11

25.04.2016
Schedule: 
Strength + Stretch.
Distance: 0km. Did not strengthen nor stretch. Zzzz.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 13.5km.
Music: N/A

26.04.2016
Schedule: 5.5km run.
Distance: 0km. Made the mistake of sitting in a comfy chair, got hungry, put on pjs. Zzzz.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 10.5km.
Music: N/A

27.04.16
Schedule: 35min Tempo
Distance: 10km slow instead. Didn’t want to go, but did it anyways. Awful.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 9.5km.
Music: N/A

28.04.16
Schedule: 5km run + strength
Distance: 5km + no strength
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 10km.
Music: N/A

29.04.16
Schedule: Rest (yay!)
Distance: 0km.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift):
13km.

30.04.16
Schedule: 5km pace
Distance: 0km.
Music: N/A

01.05.16
Schedule: 11km long run
Distance: 0km. Didn’t work out with Colin’s run schedule and then had errands and a work shift. Oh, well… At least the distance isn’t what I’m worried about.
Music: N/A

WEEK 3 TOTALS

Distance (actual vs scheduled): 15km vs 30km
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 56.5km


Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon Week 2 / 11

18.04.2016
Schedule: 
Strength + Stretch.
Distance: 0km. Made sure I did 10min bodyweight exercises + 5min stretch right when I got home from work. Yay!
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 12km.
Music: N/A

19.04.2016
Schedule: 5.5km run.
Distance: 0km. Too sore from past couple days and didn’t want to over-do it before track session on Wednesday.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 10km.
Music: N/A

20.04.16
Schedule: 6 x 400 track intervals.
Distance: 5.16km, but accidentally shorted myself one interval, only doing 5 / 6. Guess I need a better way of keeping track {no pun intended}.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 10km.
Music: None – had the company of my friend Simone.

21.04.16
Schedule: 5km run + strength
Distance: 5km, kept it slow and surprisingly steady. No strength; Spud’s bedtime and my dinnertime were more important.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 10km.
Music: Fall Out Boy + Deadmau5.

22.04.16
Schedule: Rest (yay!)
Distance: 0km.
Daytime Distance (commute + shift):
8.5km.

23.04.16
Schedule: 5km pace
Distance: 0km. Tired. Nuff said.
Music: N/A

24.04.16
Schedule: 11km long run
Distance: 0km. Was going to run when Colin got home from the Squamish 50 Orientation Run, but the downpour and hail turned me off pretty quick.
Music: N/A

WEEK 2 TOTALS

Distance (actual vs scheduled): 10.6km vs 30ish-km
Daytime Distance (commute + shift): 50.5km


Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon Week 1 / 11

11.04.2016
Schedule: 
Strength + Stretch.
Distance: None. Comfy pants won this round. Way to start the cycle right!
Music: None. See above.

12.04.2016
Schedule: 5km run.
Distance: 5km mall-walked instead while waiting for Colin to pick me up  + 12km walked during the course of my shift = 17km.
Music: Whatever the mall was playing. Nothing memorable.

13.04.16
Schedule: 30 minute tempo
Distance: 6km. I have no current pacing ability. I was all over the place due to a hillier than recommended route. Next time it’ll be flat(er).
Music: Squamish 50mi playlist on shuffle. Highlights were Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam, and White Stripes.

14.04.16
Schedule: 5km run + strength
Distance: 5km + 7.5km during shift = 12.5km. Again, no pacing ability, but faster than I thought I was able to do a steady run. Baby steps.
Music: Pearl Jam, multiple albums on shuffle. Highlight: Jeremy – it played 2 x in a row.

15.04.16
Schedule: Rest (yay!)
Distance: 12km; 4hr shift + walking around for the rest of the day combined.

16.04.16
Schedule: 5km pace
Distance: 0.3km walking around my house because I did nothing but sit on my couch ALL day. It was great!
Music: N/A

17.04.16
Schedule: 10km long run
Distance: 9km long run. Terrible run. Ran from a training shift out at UBC back to Kits Beach. While the weather and scenery were good that’s about the only nice thing I could say about it… (The intramurals including 20 min HIIT session did not help my legs.)
Music: Pearl Jam, because I didn’t remember to take it off of that before starting.


Throwback Thursday: Ragnar Northwest Passage 2012

** I wrote this partial relay recap waaaay back in 2012.  I never quite got around to finishing it {spoiler alert}, as it’s been languishing in my drafts folder for the last 4 years, but it’ll give you a good idea of how much fun relaying can be.  I highly recommend it! ** 

Remember when… I ran a relay in July?  And was regularly blogging?  Yeah.  Me too.  I might as well get back into writing by posting the longest race recap ever.  There will be no breaking this up into separate posts.  You’ve been forewarned.

RAGNAR NORTHWEST PASSAGE RECAP {20-21 JULY 2012}

I think I’ve finally figured out why I have been putting off writing this recap.  I feel bad about having had more fun than I did at Hood to Coast last year.  There.  I said it.  It was MORE FUN.  Part of me feels like I’m being mean saying so.  It feels like I’m somehow negating the friendships I made through HTC.  That’s not the case.  Things changed after HTC for me.  This year I felt like I knew people already – Nuun staff in real life and teammates from Facebook and Twitter.  Last year (even after all the emails) I still wasn’t sure what everyone would be like.  To my introverted self the pressure of meeting new people was a little paralyzing.  HTC helped me get over it a bit so Ragnar was easier.  This year I was more confident in my running abilities and at peace with my pace.  I admit that last year I felt like I was the weakest link in our van.  This year I got over myself.  Comparing Hood to Coast to Ragnar is like comparing apples to oranges; you can try, but they’re just different.  

* The Beginning *

My Ragnar weekend started on 19 July – a Thursday and also my anniversary.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Colin deserves the “Husband of the Year” award for telling me it was okay to spend 3 days on my own (don’t worry… he and Spud had fun too).  After putzing down the I5 we arrived at Nuun HQ in the early afternoon.  It was just in time to join Caitlin as she picked up Holly from the airport.  We had a bit of an adventure trying to buy bagels on the way there, me being no help navigationally, of course, but it all worked out.  This was when I learned that, due to a rental snafu – “sorry, we just don’t have your nice comfy 12 passenger vans, oops – hard work was being done to ensure we’d be able to get around.  We were saved by Good Chevrolet and Michael’s Chevrolet when they each loaned us one van!

Caitlin dropped Holly and me at the hotel and we promised we’d arrive back at HQ for dinner.  Lauren met up with us and we played tourist (disregarding the fact that we were all at RnR Seattle in June), going to Pike Place Market after hitting up a Starbucks.  Might not have been the smartest move to walk, but it was a nice day.  I didn’t end up buying anything though I longed for the cheap, beautiful flowers I couldn’t take over the border.  After returning to the hotel Lauren drove us up to HQ so we could meet the rest of the team.  We sequestered ourselves in the waiting area – love the cardboard couch! – and, as people arrived, we doled out the fun accessories people brought (sunglasses and jelly bracelets to go with the 90s theme).  We sort of felt like we were invading since the office is really open, but eventually Mason and Zoe called us out on hiding and told us to make ourselves at home.

* Wherein I get tipsy and chatty… *

Apparently a Thursday evening hosting bloggers called for a party atmosphere at the HQ (although reading Twitter has lent me to believe that any day is an excuse…).  By party I mean drinks were involved.  Since I was the pariah who doesn’t drink beer I had the choice of gin or vodka.  Since I don’t drink gin, vodka it was.  And perhaps more than I should have had.  Now, this wasn’t entirely my fault.  Yes, I drank it all, but Mason made it for me.  Pretty sure it was 3 parts vodka to 1 part Tangerine Lime Nuun All Day – in a red Solo cup.  If that wasn’t the ratio I am a cheaper drunk than I thought!  Anyways, I get chatty when I drink (and then really quiet if I’ve had too much).  I just realized I’m like Raj on Big Bang Theory, ha!  I was pretty happy to see Italian food for dinner.  Next time I will eat before I drink!  Over dinner we got to know each other, Mason said some nice things I don’t remember, and then it was van decorating time!

When we were done Lauren drove me, Holly, Becky, and Jenny back to the hotel.  We took advantage of the rooftop hot tub – the distant lightning made one question the choice – and turned in relatively early.  Becky and Holly had an early pick up to get to Bellingham for 9am while Jenny and I got to take our time as we were in Van 2.

* It’s Raining.  Aw, crap. *

Usually I can start a recap with “the day dawned bright and early.”  Yeah, no.  The day dawned at regular time and was pouring out.  The extent of my wet/cold weather gear?  My Sugoi jacket and my Vancouver marathon long sleeve.  No extra shoes.  Not even really extra anything.  Tyler and Kim from Nuun picked Jenny and me up at 9am, where we joined Stacie, Dawn, and Megan in the van.  I put in a request for a frontish seat (after having been in the back row last year) and got the first row with Stacie.  We actually kept to our seats for the most part of the relay.  Our first stop was Starbucks/Kim’s house.  We needed coffee and she needed a few things she forgot (and also offered up extra cold/wet weather gear for those who had nothing either).  I grabbed my usual venti tea and scone for breakfast, which turned out to be a poor idea.  That much tea, a tiny bladder, and an underwhelming amount of rest stops = running to the bathroom at our first exchange!  And then running to the port-a-potty because they were free!  Yes, I understand school fundraising, but not to make people pee!!!  Not cool, Bellingham High.  Not cool.

After the drama of finding a place to go we convened back at our van.  We had a while before Van 1 would hand off to us during which we needed to change, attend the safety meeting, pick up various race stuff, and hit up the merchandise tent.  I got a hoody (which I am wearing as I type) before they sold out.  Unfortunately, I should have also bought the pint glass as those were sold out later on.  We decided to find a place to eat and wandered over to a local sandwich shop across from the high school.  I felt really bad for them because they didn’t know about the relay.  Obviously a miscommunication somewhere as that could have been a really good day for them.  It wasn’t too much longer until it was our turn to head out.  Jenny grabbed the snap bracelet from Meghan and we were off!

* Whirlwind *

I’ll be honest with you.  This part is kind of blurry.  Even though I’ve done a relay before it’s amazing how fast it all seems to go by.  Pretty much my recollection is this: Jenny starts, we drive, cheer her on a couple of times (really bummed I forgot my cowbells at home!), get to exchange, Kim runs, we drive, cheer her on, get to exchange, I get out and ready to run.

My first leg was 6.1mi/9.8km along Lake Samish.  I’ve only ever seen the road I ran along from the I5, but it gave me a fair idea of what it would be like.  The weather was cool, but not raining.  I was nervous, but feeling pretty good.  As usual I went out too quickly although I thought I’d be okay.  Not so much.  I got a massive stomach cramp about half way through which I wasn’t anticipating.  It slowed me to a walk as did the hills that I wasn’t quite well enough trained for.  I wasn’t all that keen on the hill coming up to the exchange either.  Mostly because I seem to have blocked it from my memory and didn’t know it was going to be there!  Along the last stretch of my leg I succeeded in scaring the crap out of myself.  There was something in the bushes along a driveway, probably a squirrel or something small that sounded much bigger.  Anyways, I had my iPod with me in my handheld and the cord moved with my arm.  I looked to see what the noise was, got hit by the cord, and jumped a good foot into the air.  Thankfully there was no one else around to see that!  It started spitting rain a little bit when I came in to hand off to Stacie and then I was done.  My final finish time was 1:02:25 – 10:13/mi or 6:21/km – super proud of myself as that was the fastest run I’d run in a very long time.

Post run I got changed back into my neon cheering wear as I was off duty for the next however many hours.  Stacie handed off to Dawn, Dawn handed off to Megan, Megan got pelted by gummy bears, we handed off to Van 1 and it was dinner time in Burlington!  Again, it seemed like people weren’t notified about Ragnar coming to town as Red Robin was hopping with relayers and a local soccer tourney filling it up.  The manager was pleasant, but frazzled as she’d been there the majority of the day.  My adult sized macaroni and cheese was the perfect dinner.

* Late and Stupid aka Seagull Fishing and Lemon Tea *

Funny things happen during relays when you aren’t running.  In reality, and to the outsider, they probably aren’t all that funny.  But to 7 people who have been running/driving/going non-stop pretty much anything is funny.  Or downright hysterical.  After dinner all of us were pretty tired from a long day.  But then the conversation somehow turned to seagull fishing.  Stacie had to explain as all of us gave her “WTF?!?” looks when she brought it up.  Essentially, lay down under towel on beach, put food/bait on top, feel seagull land, sit up and trap bird in towel.  See?  Hysterical!  I can’t remember if this was the same time Jenny made us watch a video of the dolphin midwife, but that was hysterical in a gross way… I know you’re dying to look that one up, but seriously (srsly) don’t.  We didn’t do much more than drive straight to the next exchange and try to get a little bit of sleep.  I managed to get about 2 minutes of sleep as every time I thought I was close to dozing off something would wake me up.  The 2 minutes came right before our alarm went off.  Oh, well, it was to be expected.  We all roused ourselves to see Jenny off on her second leg.  She had a really hilly leg and it was pretty darned dark so we made sure we stopped and cheered quite a few times.  At one point we parked at the top of a hill and had ourselves a little, and rather loud, dance party.  Not sure that the other vans appreciated our enthusiasm, but, meh, we were having a great time!

Jenny handed off to Kim and she headed off.  We made sure to stop and cheer for her as the second half of her leg was unsupported.  More loud dance parties ensued – I think the other runners liked seeing us.  About half way through her run Kim was starting to hurt.  However, she is one tough lady and pulled through admirably and with a fair amount of speed.  And just like that it was my time to run again.  It was 3:30am and, because he is awesome, Tyler agreed to run with me.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the thought of having to run this leg by myself.  It went through a bit of an industrial area and, as I’m not the speediest of runners, I was a little paranoid.  I thought the first part of the path was dirt or gravel, but turned out to be a paved bike route.  It was also fairly well lit.  But there’s safety in numbers and I was glad for the company; especially when we saw the seagulls painted on the path – got the giggles then and wished for a camera.  Unfortunately for Tyler he wasn’t really prepared for pacer/bodyguard duty and ended up running in his safety vest and non-techy clothes.  I know that there would have been many times during this leg that I would have given up and walked had I been alone.  As it turned out I ran 2.7mi/4.35km in 28:24 – 10:31/mi or 6:32/km – which I consider a win since I was going on no sleep!

Once I handed off to Stacie (who took Tyler with her; again, safety in numbers) I went back to the van.  Just before getting there we were somewhat accosted by an official who was very adamant that Dawn know where she was going on her leg as she got to cross the Deception Pass bridge.  I get that he was just being safety conscious, but it seemed like a bit of overkill at 4 in the morning!  Stacie had a ridiculous uphill for her second run.  Since it was early morning things were getting loopy again.  I don’t remember who was awake for it, but Kim, who was driving with Tyler out of the van, started serenading our runners with Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup.”  Essentially there was a promise of a cold drink, dubbed “Lemon Tea” for it’s Nuun-like resemblance, at the end of leg 22.

Red solo cup,  I’ll fill you up

Let’s have a party, let’s have a party

Red solo cup, I’ll fill you up

Proceed to party, proceed to party

This was srsly (another inside joke that I really can’t explain) one of my favourite parts of the relay.


Tomorrow

foolsrun.com


Life and Stuff. And a Race on the Horizon.

So. It’s been a while.

I suppose it’s fitting that the length of time between posts is almost same as the length between my last and next race. I may have been dormant here, but I’ve at least been {moderately} training for a half marathon… that’s next Sunday! It’s amazing how a race tends to sneak right up on you regardless of how long you’ve known about it.

So let’s recap the last few months shall we?

– Post-Squamish 50km I was recovering and trying to prepare for a second 50km race, Oregon Coast. With only 7 weeks or so between them it was optimism, and FOMO, at it’s finest.

– Oregon Coast, while not utterly horrible, wasn’t great. Here’s the mini-recap since I never wrote a post: I was under-prepared. We drove – and drove and drove – down to Yachats, OR, the day before the race; Portland traffic was apparently Portland traffic (re: SLOW). Race day morning was windy with sideways rain. The first 10km were on the beach and I was last from the get-go – I expected this so not much of an issue there. The sweep decided he would stay close enough that I could hear the shwoosh-shwoosh of his shoes on the sand, but not close enough to run with me; this was mentally draining. The sun started to peak out by the time I was off the highway and into the woods. At 16km the short course runners started passing by and I had to urge the sweeps to pass me since I was going to lose my **** on them otherwise. This is where I wanted to quit. It was a mudfest. The downhill is where I started to have fun. I got an awesome race picture taken. Passed the point of no return for the loop portion. Sucked it up and did it even though it was hard. Passed one person (hey – I’ll take it!). Met up with a friend who was having a rough day. Had fun on the downhills knowing I would drop at the next aid station. Actually got cut for time, but was a-okay with it. Ate all the grapes as they were packing up the aid station. Caught a ride back with the drop bags. Watched friends finish the 30km and 50km race. For an off day I at least got in ~36km. Can’t say I’ll ever do it again, but it is what it is…

– Post-Oregon Coast I did nothing. Some fun runs with friends. Some volunteering at races. Nothing taxing.

– Christmas was a blur.

– Started training for a half marathon. It’s a road race. If I’m honest it’s the first road half that I’ve seriously trained for since 2010. And, to be more honest, my training is still mediocre. Not effort, but runs/week.

– Trying to plan out weekends is crazy. Colin and I both run so it’s a lot of “who’s running when?”. Most of our weekends are booked until September!

– Immediately after my half I start training for the Squamish 50 MILE. Since I still haven’t gotten around to getting my training plan (yup, really need to do that!) it’s not 100% real. Except for my name being on the official registrants list. I’ll have one race in July, Buckin’ Hell 15km, but other than that it’ll be train, train, train some more.

So that’s about it. Things are crazy busy, but we somehow seem to balance it out.  

How’ve you been?  

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50 for 50km: Squamish50 {Belated} Recap

As is my custom, this Squamish50 50km recap is overdue and randomness put to page.  I make no apologies.  Enjoy!

  1. Rookie mistake: I forgot my watch.   We were on Highway 1 at Capilano Road (25 minutes from home) before I noticed.  Thankfully it wasn’t our race day and we had left with enough time to go back and retrieve it.  It was on my living room table.
  2. Volunteering for a race (in my case, marshaling the 50mi the day before my own 50km) is a great way to feel bad about yourself psych yourself out be inspired. Colin and I were stationed before the finish line at Smoke Bluffs Park “Turn left, stay left, just over 2km to go…”  We got to see the lead pack come through and, wow, it’s amazing how fast people can run and not look like death.  I’m sure it would be different later in the race, but I didn’t see too many vacant non-comprehending stares.  Just one or two that I kept an eye on to make sure they turned the right way…
  3. Seeing friends (and familiar faces aka “friends” I “know” through online “stalking”) finish their races/journeys was incredible. There were a lot of emotions on show at the finish line both on the Saturday (50mi) and Sunday (50km/23km).  It felt like an honour to have others share how their days went as sometimes events like these are extremely personal.  **probably also why this race recap is a month past due **
  4. Pizza – Margherita, at Howe Sound Brewing, for those wondering – makes a good pre-race meal. However, when you decide that it’s so tasty you should have just one.more.piece, don’t.  It will end up as a ball of dough sitting just at the bottom of your esophagus, refusing to go into your stomach to be digested.  It will cause you to worry that you will have some very private issues out on the trails the next day.  It will mean that Imodium will be your friend.  Just in case.
  5. A 6am start time, with a 4:30am shuttle, means that going to bed late was dumb. Our wake up time was 3-something.  It came very early.
  6. Breakfast was a banana and a Blueberry Boomdizzle Picky Bar.
  7. When you see a person walking down an empty street at an ungodly hour of the morning in the pitch black and you know that the walk to the shuttles is a) still a ways to go and b) axe-murderer scary you stop and offer them a ride.
  8. Riding a school bus when you are an adult is weird. I still have issues with the no-seatbelt thing.
  9. You would think, for the only reason of not having a couple of hundred runners peeing (or worse) in the bushes at a provincial park, said park officials would have remembered to come by and unlock the good bathrooms. At least we remembered where the lesser known pit toilets were and we didn’t have to wait too long.
  10. Group selfies are a must. I love having friends who insist this is a race day requirement.
  11. There’s something fun about an RD who counts down his race standing atop a picnic table and then just yells, “Go!”, to start it off. It’s official, but personal.
  12. I feel a little badly for anyone who camped at Alice Lake on the weekend of 16-17 August 2014. It’s not usual for a few hundred people to run by your tent when you’re probably not even awake yet.  At least we weren’t bears?
  13. Embracing my slowness meant that a lot of people passed me right off the bat. And I caught up to them within about 8 minutes because we bottle-necked into the forest.  Ha!  Not that I saw them again after getting through that, but still.  I’ll take my victories where I can get them.
  14. Forest, forest, roots, a lake, forest, roots, small hill, forest, Ginger Runner, forest, roots, PANIC ATTACK.
  15. Approximately 2.5km into the run I had a full-on, breath into my paper bag buff, wheezing panic attack. I attribute it fully to not having any sort of breakdown during taper aka Taper Tantrums / Taper Crazies.  Next time I will happily freak my crap out prior to race day.  I don’t ever want to be standing on the side of the trail looking like the crazy as other runners go by again.  I really should have just bawled my eyes out and screamed at the trees to achieve some sort of catharsis.  Lesson learned.
  16. I am continually amazed that I won’t run around my neighbourhood by myself outside of standard lots-of-people-around hours, but I will run happily through the woods without too much stress. It probably has to do with the abundance of comfort-inducing pink flags leading my way.  Please read #4 here to get a better idea.
  17. I fell. I would like to think spectacularly, however, no one was close enough to see and verify this for me.  At 5.63km, roughly 52 minutes, into my run I had a stick completely jump out and trip me.  That is the only way I can think it happened as I was running in a flat loose dirt section.  One second I was running along minding my own business and the next I was seeing the ground come rushing up toward my face, my sunglasses go flying off my head, and my buff fly out of my hand into the dirt.  Immediately I checked to see if a) I was broken {no}, b) if Sherwood, my Suunto Ambit2, was okay {yes!}, c) if I was bleeding {no – mostly scratches and what would turn into a few excellent bruises}.  I dutifully hit the lap timer so I could know exactly when I was wronged and carried on.
  18. Hills are {{insert your favourite pejorative here}}.   Especially switchbacks.
  19. Having runners who were out to complete the inaugural 50/50 race – that’s 50mi Saturday AND 50km Sunday – pass you is a bit of a mood killer. Not that I wasn’t proud of perfect strangers for getting out there…
  20. Pit toilets are my friend. Which is why I was so happy to get to aid station 1 and that I knew where the secret toilet was.  Just wish it had had toilet paper.  The little bit that was crumpled up on the side was definitely a no-go.
  21. PLASTIC SCHEISSE & GALACTIC SCHEISSE! MUSIC!! MY iPOD IS A SHUFFLE GENIUS!!!  Roughly 5km of continual uphill called for a distraction.  Amazingly, I enjoyed every single song that played.  Thankfully no one was close enough to hear me singing Eminem’s Not Afraid incredibly loudly and likely very off-key.  I was having a great time.  Note: I am extremely glad I was able to do Galactic twice in training.  It was the one part of the trail that I was scared of.
  22. I ran (hiked?) into Barb on Galactic. I had run with her at Buckin’ Hell – I still haven’t quite forgiven her for dropping distance then… I was so close to not coming in last! – and it was awesome to see a familiar face.  We didn’t talk a ton as I had music in and was huffing and puffing along.  However, we kept pace and kept each other company.  We would end up running the majority of the race together which was great mentally for both of us.
  23. Random moment: as I was descending off of Galactic to Upper Power Smart I decided I was going to put my music away. I asked the next marshal – who turned out to be a guy I used to work with!  It wasn’t surprising that he was volunteering as I knew he was a downhill mountain biker and adventure racer.  It was just unexpected.
  24. Downhills are {{insert your favourite complement here}}.
  25. One of my goals was to make cutoff at Quest University, which was 11:15am. That gave me 5 hours and 15 minutes to get there.  I made it in 4 hours 43 minutes and left the aid station 10 minutes later.  Goal accomplished!
  26. Fig bars. Buy them.  They are, hands down, the best thing ever when running long distances.  I even forgot to peruse the aid station table at Quest for anything else.
  27. When at aid stations, peruse. I really wanted watermelon about 3km after leaving Quest.
  28. The one part of the trail I didn’t pre-run was Climb to Angry Midget. So glad I didn’t.  It was long and never-ending.  Had I known that was coming I would have dreaded it.  Instead I kept my head down and kept going.  I am a bit peeved that my legs didn’t want to let me enjoy the downhill at A.M.  It was the only part of the race that my knees hurt.
  29. Seeing a member of our running group at the bottom of A.M. was awesome. She even had a sign with our group name and the names of all of us who were running that weekend!  It was a huge morale boost.
  30. I finally got my desired watermelon at aid station 4. It was just as good as I wanted it to be.
  31. I don’t pee in the woods. I needed to.  I got stage fright 3 separate times.  Laugh if you want.  It ruined my favourite section of the whole run.  I couldn’t get any flow (pun intended), but each time I even thought about going I’d suddenly not have to anymore.  However…
  32. … Squamish50 will forever be known as “the day Alanna learned to pee in the woods” or, at least, “the day she found a log on the side of a road and peed quickly before the dog walker with +5 dogs came up the path and saw her”.  In true trail runner fashion I have friends who appreciate and celebrate this fact!
  33. Getting to aid station 5 was the best feeling ever.  I had friends there who could give me updates on others.  I knew I only had 10 hard kilometers left.  They had watermelon.  They had ice.  Ice!  They filled my hydration pack with it.  And they gave me a baggie for my buff.  Best friends ever!
  34. Barb and I were still running together. So thankful.
  35. I was on autopilot by this point. I don’t remember much after aid station 5.  Just that when I got to Endo I knew that time was more important to me than finishing.
  36. This race has an 11 hour cutoff. I was starting to calculate splits in my head and it was nagging at me.  I let Barb go.  Not to be mean, but to run my own race.  It wasn’t discussed.  It just happened.  This is why trail friends are awesome.  They understand.
  37. I wish I hadn’t picked up a 50/50 runner at this point. She was using me as a pacer, I think, but I was a bit irked by her stick.  Aside from the fear that she’d errantly hit me with it I was a little torn.  I kind of wanted to turn her in for using an aid – believe me, I could have gone faster, too, with something to lean on – but she was on her 2nd race in two days so I let it go…
  38. Mountain of Phlegm. If you’ve run any race in the Squamish50 weekend you know.  It just sits there in wait mocking you as you make your way there.  You feel like you’re doing well.  You think, “it can’t be too hard“.  Then it rises up and knocks you on your ass.  And it was a freaking hotbed of mosquitoes this year.  I stopped to talk to my friend Ed, who was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (and who would overcome it to finish!), and got about 9 bites.
  39. When I hit the top of Mountain of Phlegm I had 4km left. And about 50 minutes.  By the time I got off the hill with 3km left I had 35.
  40. My mantra from Smoke Bluffs Park to the finish line was “You are not allowed to walk”. Man, did I want to walk.
  41. I was only slightly confused to be yelled at by 2 girls in a car when I was running along the last stretch of road. Turned out to be Candice and Hilary!  Your cheers were so appreciated!
  42. The splits for my last 3km were: 9:06, 8:09, and 7:52. I am as proud of this as I am of finishing.
  43. I briefly registered that Colin and many of my friends were waiting at the finish line, but, darn it, I was sprinting as if my life depended on it to get done and get my hug from RD Gary Robbins. He gives good hugs.
  44. Official time: 10:49:42.1. Yes, that millisecond is important.  Goal accomplished!
  45. I didn’t finish last!!! Goal accomplished!
  46. I had a really good race. There were way more positives than negatives (and, really, any of my negatives were inconsequential compared to others).
  47. Volunteers are amazing. I can’t say enough good things about everyone who pitched in on race weekend.  There were so many people who raced Saturday and volunteered Sunday and vice versa.  The less thinking I had to do the better.  Please know you have my gratitude.
  48. Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford. Thank you.
  49. This picture makes me think things I probably shouldn’t be thinking.
  50. 50 miles – I’m coming for you.

Commencing Freak-Out in 3…2…1…

THIS is happening in just over a week.

Despite the title of this post, I actually haven’t freaked out yet.  Shocking.  I’m waiting for it to sneak up on me like it did before my first marathon when I was pinning on my bib the night before.  Here’s hoping that it doesn’t happen at all or at least, God-willing, not on the 4:45am bus ride out to Alice Lake for the start!

I haven’t been blogging much about my training, which is regrettable since I’ve had a few fun and epic runs up in Squamish with friends.  Those will definitely need their own posts prior to my race recap!  Somehow I missed seeing a bear that was ~12ft in front of me last weekend (don’t worry, Mum and Dad, we were very cautious – and it would have eaten Ed first if it hadn’t been more interested in berries). 🙂

I am actually feeling really good about race day.

* Nutrition: I (think) that I have all the nutrition under control:

Hüma Gel – the best tasting gels I’ve ever had.  They have chia in them.  The mango and the apple cinnamon are my race day choices.

Nuun – double strength tri-berry in the hydration pack and will do half tri-berry half wildberry energy (caffeinated) after Quest.

Picky Bars – race day breakfast will be a Blueberry Boomdizzle bar and a banana.

PocketFuel and Nature’s Bakery – my “just in case I’m hungry and gels aren’t cutting it right now” food.  Real food.  Will either go with Coconut Cherry or Pineapple Coconut (both are almond butter based) Pocketfuel.  Nature’s Bakery makes yummy fig bars and we have the fig, blueberry, and raspberry ones.

* My race day outfit will be the same one I’ve been training in:

Sugoi – hat

Buff – snot rag if on my hand, neck cooler if soaked in stream water

Oiselle – Strappy bra, Scantron tank, and Lesley knickers (and possibly arm warmers depending on weather)

Injinji – socks

Inov8 – 245 trail shoes 

* I’ll have my pretty Nathan Zeal vest to hold all my crap.  

I’ll need to give myself plenty of options in my drop bag so I don’t look at the choices and find that nothing appeals.  Other than that, though, I’m confident I can make the 23km 5hr 15min cutoff at Quest University, which was my one big worry.  I’m willfully ignorant of Upper Climb Trail and Angry Midget, but am okay with the rest of the course as I ran it last year and part of it at Survival of the Fittest a couple of months ago.

So that’s it.  I know I can finish and that’s all I’m really hoping for.  It’s going to be a HARD race.  Good thing my motivating song this training cycle has been Hedley’s “Anything”:

A hundred thousand disbelievers couldn’t keep me on the ground
I’ve invented a momentum that’ll never slow me down
I believe it cause I feel it and I shout it out loud
I can I can I can so

[and the line I use the most when I’m having a hard time]

Uh uh, **** that, I can do anything

 


Buckin’ Hell Race Recap

Because I’m a very lazy blogger – and tired – I’m cutting and pasting my Facebook race synopsis, so apologies if you follow me there…

My legs feel like they’ve been beaten with sticks. That’s what I get for running Coast Mountain Trail Series races. Buckin’ Hell lived up to it’s name (and I may have replaced that B with an F a couple times near the end) and was exactly what I expected it to be. May have come in last, but at least I finished it (21.1km with 4300ft of ascent/descent)!

Here’s the map so you can appreciate my suffering today:

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Thoughts:

– uphills suck. I will complain about this after every trail race. Why can’t trail races have a nice flat 5km warm up?
– downhills are awesome: Forever After and 3 Chop made the run worth it.
– ran with music, which I usually don’t do, but wanted it for uphill inspiration. My iPod is a genius and played the right songs at the right times. Bad Habit by The Offspring (eclectic + old school) had me cursing like a sailor in the middle of the woods, exactly when I needed it – Old Buck I’m talking about you…
– trail volunteers are awesome (Colin and Spud were directing runners and traffic). They genuinely seemed excited for me rather than making me feel like I was holding up their afternoons.

Overall, I am happy with my race.
– My hiking skills are a lot better than they used to be.
– My nutrition was a bit off – should have eaten more, sooner.
– I didn’t fall, however, I tripped a bit on a root and almost fell off the side of a hill which scared me a bit.
– I didn’t cry, but I almost did on the switchbacks up to the lookout as I was sore and just wanted to turn around.
– mentally I’m good. I’m convinced that if you can survive being last (and not for the first time) you can survive anything. Pretty sure some would call that stubborn.

How is your weekend going?  Any races or runs today or tomorrow?  Let me know!

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Survival of the Fittest 13km Race Recap

It is with much surprise that I have actually taken a seat in front of the computer long enough to post a race recap.  Generally, as you’ll know if you follow this blog, I write things well after the fact (or not at all).  Since I’m feeling lazy my recap is going to be one point per kilometer of the race…

Race: Survival of the Fittest (a Coast Mountain Trail Series race)

Distance: 13(.33)km

Type: Trail

Ascent / Descent: 533m / 524m (although the site says 700m for both[?]) measured with my so-fancy-it-should-be-accurate Suunto Ambit2

Weather: Sunny and, at times, HOT (on the Ambit2 was 27.5C at it’s hottest and 22C average)

Finish Time: 2:13:40

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This race runs from Quest University in Squamish, BC, and follows much of the first part of the 23km race that I ran last summer as part of the Squamish50 race weekend.

Here are 13 things about my race yesterday in no particular order:

1.  Switchbacks suck.  Or, rather, I suck at switchbacks.  Maybe a little bit of both.  The fact that this race is basically uphill right off the bat does not play into my favour.  I know that it takes me about 5km to settle into a race so I spent a good long time plodding along.  Having a cold this week and being a ball of phlegm didn’t help.

2.  I’m slow.  My main goal for this race other than finish was to not finish last.  Spoiler alert: Goal Achieved!

3.  A well-flagged course makes a huge difference.  The RD, Gary Robbins, likes his flagging.  This much I’ve learned in the races that I’ve done so far (Squamish 23km and Cap Crusher).  Some – not me – might think it verges on the excessive, but as a newbie trail runner I can say that the sight of those little pink flags is very comforting.  As referenced in point 2 I am not the fastest runner so it’s not unusual that I don’t see people around to follow.  Flags are my friends in the forest.  If I can see flags I know I’m not traipsing about aimlessly.

4.  This course reminds me of Dagobah (rooty) and Endor (mossy).  Seriously, I kept expecting Yoda or an Ewok to pop out and run with me.

Yeah, I am a big nerd.  I also have an almost 7 year old who’s a bit obsessed with Star Wars already.  So, yeah.

5.  I love downhills.  There is an amazing downhill stretch after the aid station where I get that uncontrolled/controlled tumbleweed sensation that I love so much.

6.  Having people you know on course makes it fun.  Colin was a marshal at the point where the 18km racers rejoined the 13km course.  He took our Nuun cowbell and cheered for runners.  It was nice to see a friendly face since I wasn’t feeling completely spectacular at that point.  A lot of our other trail running friends came out as well to volunteer.

7.  I wore my sparkle skirt.  What I can’t make up in speed I made up in style.  I got a ton of complements on it so I was happy that I didn’t self-consciously chicken out of wearing it.  Hopefully the official photo is decent since I didn’t take my camera and Colin left for his spot before I started my race.

8.  Drinking tea on the drive up was a poor choice.  I thought I had enough time to process it (yeah, pee), but it turns out I did not.  I spent much of the first part being sloshy.  It was gross.  I wanted to drink because I was hot, but not because it would mean more slosh.  I’m smart so I hydrated, but definitely could have done without the issue.

9.  Speaking of issues, watch this “Marathon Thoughts” video at 1:57.  That was me for the last 3.5km.  It was unhappy.  Mostly because it was all downhill, which made it feel unbearable, but also because I LOVE downhill (see point 5) and I was disappointed/angry that I couldn’t enjoy it.  Additionally, I had finally passed someone with a yellow bib (13km racer) and was damned if I was going to let her pass me again.  This was a definite character building aspect of the race.  And one I do not wish to repeat.

10.  My race day nutrition sucked.  I didn’t eat properly the night before the race; I had a lemon raspberry loaf slice to go along with my bad-choice tea because it was too early when I left to eat my Picky Bar; I only had 1 gel (mmm, Hammer Apple-Cinnamon) when I should have probably had 2.  I know better.

11.  Colin and I had really good tacos for lunch at Casa Norte Taqueria in Squamish post-race.  I love Mexican food and this was perfect.  One chicken, one pork, and one fish (which was my favourite).  Not sure if they were the food truck I went to after the 23km last summer…

12.  I won a race entry into Buckin’ Hell in June!!  All I had to do was explain what the race was about.  I’m not a public speaker, but no one else was going and this was already on my race schedule so I was happy to get it.  I’ll be doing the 21.1km race – Deep Cove to Seymour Lookout and back.

13.  It never ceases to amaze me how welcoming and supportive the trail running community is.  For me, it’s nice to be able to meet people I only “know” through social media or who are friends of friends.  I don’t think anyone ran by me on the trail that didn’t say hi or comment on my skirt or ask how I was doing.  I tried to do the same with them.  I’m fairly certain the one runner who was injured was tired of people asking if he was doing okay (he would be) – I wasn’t the first or last person to go by.  There is a genuine interest from everyone involved in how you did no matter how fast or slow.  The ability to finish is treated as a feat in and of itself as opposed to simply how fast you went.  That, and you don’t get a high-five from the RD at any old race.  The point is: trail running is different and that’s what makes it special.  Pardon the sappiness…

So there you have it.  My 4th race of the year in a nutshell.  Next up: Buckin’ Hell 21.1 on 21 June 2014.  I’m such a sucker for punishment.

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I Didn’t Cry and I Didn’t Trip

Training for this year’s Squamish 50 race is in full swing in our household as Colin and I are both signed up to run the 50km.  For the most part we’ve been able to hit the trails on alternating days on the weekends and have been fortunate enough to run with like-minded crazies (Colin’s running partner is training for Ironman Canada!).  However, my luck ran out yesterday and, though not for a lack of trying, I wasn’t able to find anyone to run with.  So I did something I’ve never done: I ran by myself.  On. A. Trail.

Let me preface the rest of this post with the disclaimer that I am a bit of a scaredy cat.  I don’t like things that go bump in the night, scary movies, and/or setting myself up to be scared (see: Fright Nights, etc.).  I like social runs and the warm-fuzzies that go along with them.  This wasn’t really my cup of tea – the one sitting next to me on the desk is – but I put on my big-girl capris and went for a run!

Due to scheduling – Colin running to the top of Grouse from the car dealership and Spud attending a birthday party  – I knew my run wouldn’t be starting until the late afternoon.  It was a bit weird waiting all day to go for a run.  I fueled incredibly well with birthday party snacks like watermelon, banana, and popcorn twists.  On my way out the door I grabbed a Picky Bar for the drive there.  I was probably a little dehydrated, but actually felt okay otherwise.

My run of choice was Buntzen Lake loop via Lakeview trail and I started at 4pm.  I had 2 options planned.  I would either run the east side of the lake out to North Beach and return the same way if I wasn’t feeling brave.  If I was, though, I would go Lakeview.  I started out and promptly messed up my fancy watch (Suunto Ambit 2) that I don’t really know how to use so I had to stop it and begin again.  I think it was only a minute so no big deal…  There were a few people out on the trail still.  The sun had come out and it was warmer than I expected.  The section to North Beach is rolling hills with a couple of small switchbacks and is pretty scenic:

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I reached North Beach in half an hour where I decided I didn’t need to pee, laughed (to myself) at the Scout leader trying to talk a group of ~12 year old boys into looking his way for a picture, and crossed the mini suspension bridge since I was apparently being brave and headed to Lakeview:

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Lakeview Trail is my favourite of the Buntzen trails that I’ve run.  It’s just the right amount of difficult for me.  The lower loop is too flat and gravelly and, while Diez Vistas is an amazing workout, I just don’t love it despite the specatular – on a good day – views.  Lakeview I could run all day.  I don’t know if everyone runs the lake counter-clockwise, but I like the warm up the run out to North Beach gives me.  It usually takes ~30min/~5km for me to get into any run so that fits the bill.

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If you’ve run Lakeview this way you’ll know that there is a little steep hill that cuts up to a trailhead.  This hill is my nemesis.  In the 2 years I’ve been running Buntzen I’ve never reached the top actually running.  Usually I’ll stop somewhere, complain about it, and hike the rest.  It’s been my goal to beat it for a while.  And yesterday I did!

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I’m not sure why (repressed memories, maybe?), but I always forget how many switchbacks there are to get up to where Lakeview is runnable.  I’m not a great climber so half the reason I wanted to do this trail was to practice.  I knew that I would be able to power hike better, and likely faster, than running so that’s what I focused on.  Thankfully the hard work at my bootcamp class is paying off because I definitely felt stronger!  Still slow, but stronger…  I think it took about 15min to get to some sort of level rather than just up.  It was quite shady in the forest, but not at all dark (although I did bring my headlamp just in case of an emergency).

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Once the trail stopped climbing I had a good time.  It’s rolling and technical enough that I couldn’t zone out unless I wanted to bail.  I didn’t see a single person on the entirety of Lakeview and that was okay.  I only had the crap scared out of me once – I may or may not have jumped, but I do know my heart rate spiked! – by fallen tree roots that tricked me into thinking they were a bear foraging in the ferns.  I didn’t go back and take a picture, but the trees were silhouetted like this:

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Close to the point of descent there is a little waterfall so I, of course, stopped to take a picture and a selfie:

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By now I was pretty much ready to be done.  I had to make my way down the hill and back over to the lots.  Unfortunately I had 2hrs on the schedule and I was stubborn enough to want to make it at least to that.  I had about 15min to go by the time I reached the parking lots so started running in circles to make it up.  Please tell me I’m not the only one whose maps look like this:

Buntzen 26 April 2014

I ended my run with 2hrs, 12km, and 424m/1391ft of ascent in the books.  Pretty happy overall with how my first ever solo trail run went.  Can’t say I want to do them all that often, but I did gain some much needed confidence.  Ended the day with a couple of selfies and headed home…

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See you on the trails!

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Positive Thinking aka What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

After a good couple of years of mediocrity and probably being a sports psychologist’s dream I think that this might actually be a good running year for me.  The very abbreviated back story (that will probably never be expanded on) is that I had a failed experiment with heart rate training that knocked me so hard on my butt that it’s taken me a really long time to mentally come back from.  When your head’s not in it everything else is on the back burner.  Suffice it to say that I did not love my runners for a while, but I think I’m back!*

I think my turning point was being included in a UBC NIKE study on running.  They gave me a 13 week prescribed running program to follow during a time of year when I would much rather sit on my couch.  Dark, rainy, winter-y Vancouver is not my favourite place to run.  However, a treadmill and a decent amount of accountability kept me running on average 3 times a week.  So what if my runs were predominantly inside?  I’ve actually come to love my treadmill (hopefully the downstairs neighbours do too!).  We had a slightly illegal 10km race at the end and I came away with a respectable 1:05 finish time.  Considering I ran once outside in 13 weeks I’m pretty happy with that!

Another key to me being more optimistic is that around Christmas I got my hands on a downloadable goal tracker from Believe I Am.  I’m not usually one for journals – although I’m keen to get one of theirs when they’re back in stock – as I start and never finish.  But this one made me sit down and think about what I want from running this year.  I want to get faster and I want to finish my 50km race in August.  Voilà!  I suddenly found myself with goals that are attainable.  The other helpful part of the tracker was an outlook calendar.  I don’t usually race a lot, but I wanted to this year.  I’m not wealthy by any means so it’s usually a stretch to get too many races in.  But I found some affordable ones (and ways to get in free, too) and I have about one a month.  This will give me more race and trail experience, which I very obviously need in tackling an ultramarathon.

RaceSchedule copy

I haven’t paid for all of these yet, but they aren’t really negotiable anymore.    

I have goals, people, and I will darn well reach them!!

What’s on the agenda for you this year?  And will I be seeing you anywhere along the way?

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*Notice that I’ve removed the subtitle “Slowly Reconciling With Running” from by blog (and on Twitter, too).  No self-defeating thoughts, please.


TrailCross!

It was only a matter of time.  Between the varied [insert sport here]-cross disciplines that are out there – ski, board, moto, cyclo, etc. – and the desire for runners to have a fun, non-traditional race atmosphere you had to figure that TrailCross would eventually come to be.  I am both excited and terrified to be able to compete in the first TrailCross race in Chilliwack, BC, on 26 April 2014.  

Let me back track a little…  Until last week I had no idea what TrailCross was.  I’ve done fun runs before, but generally stick to the traditional roads and trails.  I like a good get-together as much as the rest of you, but one can’t say that fun runs are generally super competitive.  Not that I’m a super competitive racer by any means.  More back-of-the-packer than anything else.  But I do have aspirations of getting some semblance of speed going this year, even if it’s just a tad faster than last year.  Basically, through that ramble, I’m trying to say that TrailCross has fallen into my lap.  

In the randomness that is social media I was followed on Twitter by @Trail_Cross.  I have to admit that I was immediately intrigued by their race.  Compete in heats over a short distance (1-2km) on trails and runners advance base on placement.  Do this 2 or 3 times until you get a winner.  The bonus – at least to me – is that there is a beginner and an advanced category.  I was seriously considering trying to make it work in my race schedule (I actually have one this year!) and then they offered me entry.  Well, to be honest, I cheekily asked for a mutually beneficial working relationship.*  So now I’m slightly nervous.  As stated above, I’m not fast.  And this race is based on speed and pretty much speed alone.

From the TrailCross Facebook page

So I haven’t figured out if competing in this race – there is no “running” – might be the best idea I’ve ever had, but I am really looking forward to finding out.  

I want need you to join me!  Enter LOVEMYRUN to receive $5 off your registration fee.

Have you ever run a race like this before?  Tips are appreciated – although I think “run like hell” is the only advice that’ll work…

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* Disclosure Statement: I have been given one race entry to TrailCross Chilliwack in exchange for this post.


Bloglovin’

I haven’t been reading blogs for awhile, but the start of a new year seems like as good a time as any to begin again… mainly because I found a new (to me) blog reader: Bloglovin’. I like the look of it and WordPress’ mobile reader was awful. Find me there and, if you have a blog, I’ll follow you back!

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Rainbows and Unicorns: 2013 23km at Squamish 50 recap

If you’ve read my ramblings for any length of time you have probably noticed that I’m terrible at recapping events within a suitable amount of time. Sometimes it’s because I’m lazy. Sometimes it’s because I’m busy. Sometimes a race is too personal of an experience to really want to share (ahem, Ragnar Northwest Passage). However, I’m a firm believer in “better late than never”. Now is as good a time as any to recap my experience at the 2013 23km Squamish 50 race.

Fair warning now: this is a long point-form brain dump!

1. Colin and I both ran the 23km race. It was highly recommended to not let this be your first trail race. It was our 2nd. And about twice as long as the first…
2. The sunrise along the Sea to Sky highway was really pretty.
3. We made a pit stop at the McDonalds in Squamish before finding parking/shuttle. We lost each other between the car and the bathrooms. And wasted time never being in the same spot at the same time.
4. Drove out to the race parking lot and assumed that we were in the correct spot judging by all the other cold runners standing around.
5. Bus trip to start was a bit disorganized, but zero race expectations equals no stress. Eventually got on bus – which is WAY more fun as a kid when 3 to a row isn’t insanely squished – and chatted with a few other people. I think they were from Texas.
6. Bus got lost. Should have gone straight at roundabout to Quest University. A left meant a really tight three point turn!
7. Immediately got into portapotty line. PB4UGO!
8. Made Colin take awkward selfies.
9. Tried not to freak out just before start.
10. Knowing my place, lined up at back. Still got passed immediately!
11. Yay little downhill! Crap, uphill so soon? Walk. Already.
12. Another runner asks if my Nuun tattoo on my shoulder is real. No. However, I was quite proud of my placement as I figured most people would pass on my left and therefore see it…
13. Head off road and into trail. I read trail description, but have never run there so was very thankful for LOTS of flagging.
14. Walk some more. Switchbacks! Try not to play the mind game of being too slow. Hyperventilating and running doesn’t work.
15. It’s already warm.
16. Started bunny-hopping with Dave from Kelowna, who came down with a few friends, but wasn’t running with them. We decided it was easier to just run together.
17. Attack of the mofo wasps! Like many that day we were victims of the wasps. I’m new to trail running so didn’t even think what I was feeling was a sting. I had my bib on my leg and, thinking a pin got loose, stopped to adjust it. That’s when Dave yelled that he go stung on the ankle and yelled at me to run! We sprinted for a little bit and then stopped to inspect. He flicked a wasp off his sock. I discovered that a wasp had actually flown under my bib and not only stung me, but did so twice. I later found out that the nest was virtually on the path.
18. Fire road to first aid station. Thankfully a volunteer was guiding the way and let us know not to do the extra loop the longer races had to do.
19. Could have had cream for my stings, but figured the dull pain was better than dropping my pants.
20. DOWNHILL!! One of my favourite parts of the whole race. Super fun – and probably lucky I didn’t tumbleweed down…
21. Uphill? Darn it. Walk. It’s faster.
22. Caught up to twitter friend Diana. Felt bad that I didn’t get to run much with her, but it wasn’t her day and she urged me to run ahead.
23. I think this was the clearing next. It was warm, pretty, and I had no idea where I was or what direction I was going in.
24. Played catch up with Dave. As long as I knew he was just ahead or behind I didn’t feel like I was lost.
25. Proved my “be safe” skills were warranted. Came across a girl who had fallen and hurt her ankle. She was with a couple of friends, but I left her with the foil blanket I had in my pack so she didn’t get too cold.
26. Downhill some more! Then fire road, drizzle (?), mucky road, dam (didn’t look down – it made me queasy), little uphill, gel stop due to dust cloud caused by logging truck, meander, aid station.
27. Foolishly didn’t have flat pop at aid. Thought it would mess with my stomach, but Colin said it was the best thing ever.
28. Back into the woods. Passed by a mountain biker. Meander along.
29. Hear music from Squamish Valley Music Festival.
30. Hot. Very thankful I put Nuun in my pack.
31. Pretty paths.
32. UPHILL?!?! WTF?
33. Mountain of Phlegm. Says it all. Hiked to top. Pretty sure the path up was solely so they could get good photos. Thank you, Rob, for only posting the one of me walking, not pulling a really ugly face…
34. Decided to tell Dave I’d see him at end. Shamelessly really wanted to beat him. Downhill!! A little steep, but fun!
35. Civilization aka a park/trails with people on them.
36. Passed a portapotty knowing a) I only had about 3km left and b) if I stopped I would never start again.
37. Felt a little lost. Got to highway and assumed I was going right way, but concert traffic control wasn’t hugely helpful. And very friendly lady was misinformed as she told me I had 5km left.
38. Pathway along river. Windy. Nice, but secluded. Oddly felt more uneasy being alone here than alone on trail.
39. Road. Almost done. Longest kilometre of my race.
40. Finish line! Fully expected Colin to be waiting, but I was a bit faster than I anticipated so I was yelling for him as I came in. He got a couple of pictures, but they really aren’t that good…
41. Done! 4:05:58. Probably could have broken 4 hours, but no expectations was way more fun.
42. First drink at finish: pop!
43. Got changed, drank beer – this never happens, cheered in friends (23km/50km), ate cupcakes, ate fish tacos, ate cabbage rolls (please invite them back, and ask for them to have perogies in 2014), sat, visited.
44. Dinner in Whistler with new friends. Happened upon a Mother Mother concert prior to so it was kind of a date night!

Here is why this race is one of my favourites: it wasn’t hard.

Before I catch flak for that let me explain. I have had a year of “hard” races and runs. Ones where I collapse mentally or where I feel like I’m the slowest person in the world. Races like BMO Vancouver marathon where I wanted to quit at 14km. I was quite sick and tired of having “character building” runs. The reason I had no time goals for the 23km was because I didn’t want the pressure. I knew going in that I might come in close to last. And I was fine with that.

So, yes, the 23km was physically challenging. But I had a fantastic experience and, for that reason, it wasn’t hard.

And it’s the memory of rainbows and unicorns that made me sign up for the 50km race this morning.

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Surrey Half Marathon – A Much Belated Recap

First and foremost, my sincerest apologies to the Surrey International World Music Marathon for this oh-so-late recap.  As a marathon blogger I fully admit that I fell down on the job…  Better late than never (right?!).

I ran the half marathon on 29 September 2013 and it was my second year doing this race.  As my last post explained, I was not as prepared as I had originally wanted to be.  I was going to go out and run to finish.  After that post went up my Twitter (now real life) friend, Brandi, told me that she wanted to run the half on a whim.  She was going for sub-2:30 and, as I didn’t have any sort of goal, I said I’d run it with her if she wanted me to.

On race day, Brandi and I met up near the start line.  She was with a couple of other friends, one of whom (Kendall) was running her first half ever, and, after I said goodbye to Colin and Spud, we all huddled in the crappy fall weather together.  Wind and rain is perfect for race day, don’t you agree?  Yeah.  That was a fun treat.  I decided warm and soaked was better than overheating with a jacket, but it was super chilly to begin with.

We started out together with the intention of keeping with the 2:30 pace bunny.  However, after only 1-2 kilometres Brandi and the others were pulling away.  I decided to stick with the pacer and let them go.  In the almost 5 years I’ve been running I have never once run a race with a pacer.  I thought I’d give it a go.  Surprisingly, I was able to keep up for the most part.  I’d lose her a bit on the ups, but catch up again on the downs.  I was surprised to hear, somewhere around 8km, that we were actually running a mid-6km/hr pace (pacers run 10min/walk 1min and accommodate for walk breaks).  I have huge self-doubts when it comes to running fast so it was a nice boost of confidence.  After that there was a long steady uphill.  I power-walked most of it, but the pacer (as well as Brandi et al.) was never out of sight.

Unfortunately, this is where my race – or rather, my shoes – started to crap out.  I knew my shoes were nearing the end of their running life since I’d taken them to Disneyland in the summer.  But, as it was my first pair of Altra Provisioness shoes, I didn’t know the indicator for dead.  In my old shoes it was always my knees.  At 12km I started to get severe hip flexor pain.  I haven’t had that in years!  That was obviously the indicator!  And so, I slowed down, walked when I needed to, and grimaced my way along for the next 9km.

At about 19ish-km I came upon Brandi and Kendall.  They were steady, but both hurting and ready for the race to be over (me too)!  I decided it would be far more fun to finish the race with Brandi, seeing as we intended to run together anyways.  Kendall went along ahead of us, looking strong so close to the finish.  Brandi and I decided it was for the best if we walked when necessary.  We had it figured out that we could walk a large chunk of the last couple of kilometres and still make sub-2:30.  On the last downhill we were surprised to see Solana out taking pictures (and waiting for marathoners Nikki and Krista)!  Brandi went over for a hug and I kept on going, fearing that if I stopped I wouldn’t start again.  At the last corner the 2:30 pace bunny was waiting.  It was such a nice touch that she was around to see some of us finish!

I “sprinted” to the finish, gathering Spud as I went, and we crossed the line together.  I finished in 2:27:08, taking 20 minutes off of last year’s time.

Even though I finished only a few seconds ahead of Brandi it took me a couple of minutes to find her.  But when I did I gave her a huge hug!  While I was happy with my time I was even happier (and super proud) that she got her sub-2:30!!

Totally stole this from Brandi’s blog…

  Oh, and did I mention that the medals for this race are obscenely huge?!


9 Days and Counting

Wow.

This half marathon has crept up on me.  It’s hard to believe that I have a mere 9 days before I am going to run 21.1km.

I must admit straight off that I am under-trained.  This was not the goal, but it is the reality.  I was doing fairly well until life happened.  I’m not using it as an excuse – really, I’m sure I could have put my head down and soldiered on – but August turned into a bit of a break for me.

I ran the 23km race at Squamish 50 this summer.  It was amazing and crazy and hard – yes, I will eventually do a recap – and it wore. me. out.  I took a good week off from any running and that kind of turned into a couple of weeks.  And then we went to Disneyland at the end of August.  To my credit there was a lot of walking, but it wasn’t training by any means.

So, the 29th will be a bit of a test.  I know I won’t be fast.  I know I won’t PR.  I know I can’t be surprised by whatever time I finish in.  But I do know that I will enjoy myself.  I have a couple of friends running it (both the half and full).  I honestly am quite excited about the new route.

You can still sign up if you find you’re in need of a race – they have the full, half, 5k, and kids run.  But do so this weekend.  Prices increase on the 24th!

If you aren’t interested in running or if you have a goal race in October please come by and cheer!  I know I’m not the only one who appreciates a little cow bell!


An Ambassadorship

It’s that time of the running year when training for a fall event is in full swing. And, amazingly, I have a fall race to train for. I have been asked to be a blogger for the Surrey International World Music Marathon! I was a blogger for their inaugural race in 2012 and I’m excited to be invited back.

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Last year I ran the half on a bit of training and, while I had a good time, it was nowhere near to being a PR-worthy race performance. This year things are different. I’ve been running a lot more as well as cross training. I am hoping that I can PR or at least come close! I am also hoping the medal is similar to last year’s 3″ round behemoth!

The course this year has been redone to be less on closed roads and more in city parks. This should be great for the runners! I live close to Surrey, but rarely go over (have to cross a bridge!) so it will be nice to see a bit more of the city.

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If you live in Metro Vancouver I would love to see you there! The race runs on Sunday, 29 September 2013. There is a marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, half marathon relay, 5km, and Kids Fun Run. It is friendly to pretty much all abilities and ages of runners!

If you have other goal races – I know there are lots in October – this is a great opportunity to give back to the running community and volunteer. I’d love to see / hear you out on course! You can sign up here: www.surreymarathon.com/volunteer.

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5 Peaks Cypress Enduro Recap aka Hills Of The Up Variety {ugh}

I’m what you would call a newbie trail runner.  I’ve been on trails.  I have run on trails.  I like running on trails.  But trails inherently have hills.  Therefore I spend much of each run “riking”.  And I’m not much of a fan of that!

Last Saturday Colin and I ran (riked) the 5 Peaks Cypress Mountain Enduro trail run.  It was hard!!  However, if we’re going to tackle the 23km course at the Squamish 50 in August we needed to do this 12km race.

We chose this race because we were both able to get in free.  I volunteered at the 5 Peaks Alice Lake race in June and earned an entry.  Colin had a trail running book that came with one too.

Our 10th anniversary was last Friday.  Since we had a race the next day we celebrated by going to bed early!  My parents had Spud for a sleepover on Saturday night so we dropped him off on the way to the race.  It was about a 40 minute drive to the mountain and it was gorgeous out already.  We parked close to the start, which wasn’t hard since it’s a relatively small race.  Colin had to register and I had to pick up my bib so we left our stuff in the car and headed to the start area.  While it was a sunny day the parking lot was in shade.  I wasn’t expecting so many bugs!  Thankfully the majority were of the annoying, not biting, variety.  We got what we needed, plus free water bottle handheld pouches, coffee and protein powder samples and went back to the car.  Once we gathered everything we headed over to the Salomon tent to meet up with Solana, Nikki, Diana, Mariah, and whoever else was going to show up.

The race started at 9am.  It was self seeded so I tried to convince the others we should line up further back.  I was outvoted, though, and we were in “corral” 4, I think.

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Photo credit: Warren via Jay’s camera

Originally there were 4 of us that were going to try to stick together.  However, Diana took off like a shot, so Nikki, a met-5-minutes-earlier new friend Emma, and I ran relatively close together.  We entered some single track trail right off the bat.  I don’t think we were more than a couple of hundred metres in before a sport course runner bailed in front of us!  I made sure she was okay and continued on.  For some reason my sleeves made my arms really sore around my biceps so I had to take them off pretty quickly.  I think I maybe wore them for too long beforehand and they were cutting off circulation a bit.  That, or my biceps are getting huge from once-a-week boot camp…

There was a bit of uphill before we reached where the two courses diverged.  I walked when I needed to, which wasn’t any surprise as my hill training has been mediocre.  This is where I selfishly abandoned Nikki and Emma.  You see, I adore downhill running.  And I’m pretty good at it (meaning no tumbleweeding).  I couldn’t help myself.  I had to take advantage of some semblance of speed while I could.  Besides, it was FUN!

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Blurry, but that’s the downhill!

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Yup, run under that tree there…

Once I reached the bottom of the hill (well, at least as far as I would be going) I came to the realization that what goes down must go back up.  Ugh.  I don’t have any idea how the fast runners are fast uphill.  I was good to hike it, but there was not a lot of spring in my step…

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Since I had left the other two, I found I was running almost all on my own.  Normally that would freak me right out, but I think that because it was a race it made it less scary.  There were other runners who passed me , and a few hikers too, so that helped.  It was also really pretty!

After much hiking – not even really riking – I came to a small lake. I thought that I might make my one and only pass of another racer, but as I asked how he was doing he replied, “I rolled my ankle awhile ago,” and the first aid team was coming to meet him.  Dang!  I couldn’t count an injured runner…

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Shortly after passing them – and having really zero idea of how long I still had to go – I found my trail running weakness: I drag my feet when I’m tired.  That is not conducive when you have big feet (size 11 in trail runners) and rocks and roots abound.  My penalty for this infraction was falling UP the trail.  I hooked my left foot into a root hole, hit knee-knee-wrist (turned on watch button)-wrist-chest going up some root stairs.  Thankfully didn’t hit my head, but I guess first aid would have found me on their way back…

I finally reached the aid station / where the routes reconvened and stopped for a quick drink.  There wasn’t much electrolyte drink left, but I dipped in a cup and it was fabulous!  I asked how long to go still and was told about 4-5km.  So lovely to find out that the majority was uphill {insert sarcasm here}.  At least the view was nice and there were a couple of other runners present when the friendly guy with the chainsaw walked by…

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I’m at the top of the UP hill.

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Random flowers.

I wasn’t getting particularly sore from the run, but it was hot and I was just tired.  I ran when I could – and ran faster to escape the stalker bees (or possibly stalker horseflies).  Finally I came upon the “1km left” sign and knew I was almost done.  I came into the finish where this awesome picture was taken by Solana’s friend, Warren.

Photo credit: Warren via Jay's camera

Photo credit: Warren via Jay’s camera

I was impressed that they still announced my name even though the awards were going on.  I hadn’t set my watch so I figured I finished in roughly 2:20.  I was a little disappointed to find out the route was short 12km instead of the advertised 14km, but was proud of finishing.  Later that day I was even prouder to find out my 2:20 was actually 2:08!  Not bad for my very first official trail race!

Afterwards we made a trip down to the Salomon store to pick up free buffs.  I’m sure they’ll come in handy!  The plan was to meet at Solana and her husband Jay’s house to have a BBQ / pool party. So that’s where we went.

Photo credit: Jay

Photo credit: Jay

Photo credit: Jay

Photo credit: Jay

A good run and time with new friends was the perfect way to spend most of the day.


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Love

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Riking Diez Vistas – 2 June 2013

After a month of on-and-off running post-marathon, Colin and I decided that we should probably start training for our 23km trail race that’s in August.  We live fairly close to some great hilly trails and felt (unknowingly, foolishly) that Diez Vistas, at about 13km – I think, would be a good starting point.  Colin had hiked it many years ago – sometime around when we started dating in 1999 and even further back when he was 12 and in Scouts.  Apparently hiking is like giving birth… one romanticizes it and doesn’t really remember how bad it was.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a beautiful route.  It was a beautiful, warm day.  We actually ran together as apparently trail running is the great equalizer (at this point anyways).  However, I’m a baby when it comes to hills and Colin hasn’t trained for them since April.  We’re both a bit out of our element with trail running as we’re new to it this year – and we both were breaking in new shoes.

Sorry it's blurry.  There were people coming on the trail and I didn't want to look like the weirdo taking a picture of her shoes...

Sorry it’s blurry. There were people coming on the trail and I didn’t want to look like the weirdo taking a picture of her shoes…

We did the loop around Buntzen Lake counter-clockwise, which seems to be opposite of the vast majority.  We decided to do it this way so we had a decent rolling ~4km warm up before the hills.  It was kind of nice, though, because after we got past the North Beach we didn’t see too many people for a while.  And they didn’t see me cursing the rocks and roots.

Here are some pictures of our adventure:

All in all it was a great day.  Took us longer than we planned (thanks Mum and Dad [who babysat Spud] for understanding!!); we took a left at the end when we should have turned right so did a bit of flagged bush-whacking back to the road/parking lot.  I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus – it’s way worse than after the marathon – but I know it’ll get better the longer I do it.  Who knows, I might actually do this trail again too.

Hopefully I’ll have more pictures of trees and trail runners soon.

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Seek the…whatnow?

The best experiences often begin in the form of a crazy idea and some good old peer pressure…

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A former co-worker posted this on Facebook and I bemoaned the fact that joining his Seek The Peak relay team probably wasn’t in the cards for me, even though it looked cool.  You know, as much as a relay from the ocean to the top of a mountain could be.  Note: people also do this 16km course solo!  But you can see the response.  And all of a sudden I found myself with a race between my spring full and my summer trail race.  Here’s what I thought of it immediately after:

Let me explain the race a little bit because, even though it was free for me to join the team, I need your help!

The year is the 10th anniversary of the Seek The Peak race.  It is a 16km solo or team race that runs from Ambleside, West Vancouver, to the top of Grouse Mountain.  It’s 4100ft of super fun elevation gain!  I’d be far happier running down the route… However, that’s not an option so I chose the longest, but not steepest, leg.  I’m still not entirely sure what to expect.  It’s a little road, a little trail, and some pretty decent uphills.  Not quite the Grouse Grind, aka the way to get to “The Peak”, but enough that I’ll probably curse this ridiculous idea half way through my 6km leg…

The most important detail about this race is that it’s a race with a cause.  Seek The Peak raises funds for the BC Cancer Foundation, thereby assisting the BC Cancer Agency with their breast cancer research within the province.  Since our entry is being covered by our employer (thanks!!) we decided that we should be a fundraising team.  This is the first charity run I have ever done (our goal is exceedingly modest), and I’m an introvert, so I’m not particularly great at asking for help.  But I will now.

To help support our team please follow this link (http://ow.ly/lwNJ7) – you can donate under my name or to the team as a whole.

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Onward and Upward

The shortest race report ever:

I ran BMO Vancouver Marathon on 5 May 2013.

I finished said marathon with a personal worst of 5:59:29 when my original goal was 4:45. I blame wanting to toss my cookies with each step and the stupidly hot day.

I finished.

My feelings/opinion of the day? Meh. It was what it was and I’ve moved on… At least the course was pretty and I had a spectacular meal afterwards.

I have other, (hopefully) not so strenuous, things on the horizon which I shall write about soon.