If you have read my blog for any length of time you’ll know that I don’t run a lot of short distance races. That all changed on 3 June. I was fortunate enough to be an ambassador for Earth Run and ran the 10k at Jericho Beach in Vancouver (there was a 5k as well). This was the perfect race to be re-introduced to the distance. There are a lot of larger 10k events in Vancouver – like the almost 50,000 strong Sun Run – but a small event has huge advantages.
1. Mellow Atmosphere. A small crowd means less opportunity for race day jitters. I knew that I just wanted to go out to complete the distance in a decent (for me) time and not having huge crowds made it so much nicer. It’s definite a family friendly event. There was a small expo with about 6 tents – some vendors, some beneficiaries. The Vancouver Aquarium and Young Naturalists’ Club of BC booths had Spud occupied for ages.
2. Small Race Field. If I was a faster runner this would be the race I’d want to go to! Such a great chance of placing since there were only 71 finishers in the 10k and 48 in the 5k.
3. Easy Package Pick Up. Considering there was really just the chip (on a returnable ankle band to be no-waste) and shirt to pick up it didn’t seem like there was much of a wait. I had a bit of an awkward moment when I had to find the race organizer to say I wasn’t on the list (my contact wasn’t present). He was understanding and gave me my items. My shirt (a unisex small) went to Colin, who’s quite happy about it. The only problem with not being on the list is that my result is just a comma since there was no first or last name. Oh well, I know it was me!
4. No Crowds. The course was on an open park path and having fewer numbers was totally beneficial. There was never the feeling that we were in the way or people were in our way. It was an out and back along the ocean and, since the weather cleared once we started, there was a gorgeous view of the mountains.
5. Affordable. The race is $25/5k and $35/10k. In Vancouver that is a great price. Generally 5k’s start at the 10k price, so that’s really something that they have going for them!
6. Plentiful Post-Race Snacks. I know this seems like a silly point, but it’s nice to roll into the finish line close to the end and know that there will still be stuff waiting for you! Oranges, bananas, water, and an energy drink were enough to tide me over until I could get to lunch. Since the race aims to have a low to no environmental impact even the cups were recycled cardboard.
All in all I had a great time at Earth Run! I was quite happy with my time (1:05:31) considering I really hadn’t done any sort of faster training. I ran/walked it, but was completely fine with that. I was breaking in my Saucony Mirage’s at the time too… My watch did say the course was just shy of 10k, but there were two variables that could account for that: I started my watch a few seconds late and user error on the flour-marked gravel path (I’m sure I didn’t run the exact same path as measured)! I think my favourite parts of the race were the atmosphere, the view, and having Colin and Spud waiting for me at the finish line.
Thank you Earth Run for letting me represent you online! I had a fantastic experience and I’m sure Colin and I will come back next year to run!
The Half Corked Marathon in Oliver, British Columbia, Canada is not as it seems. It is not a marathon. It isn’t even a half marathon. However, it is 18-ish kilometres that’s run through vineyards and wineries and filled with a lot of wine. It’s also a really good time!
Colin and I heard about the race last year through friends of ours who had participated. Seeing as we were just getting “into” wine – Colin’s parents moved into those parts and wineries are something fun to go to while we are up there – we didn’t sign up. This year, though, we were on the ball! We made sure we signed up to know when the registration date would be. We made sure that one of us (Colin – I was at run clinic prior to dropping out) was home at the odd opening hour of 7pm on a Tuesday. And we breathed a sigh of relief when we confirmed that we’d be 2 of the 600-some-odd runners/walkers. I say it was a relief to get in because it sold out in 3 minutes!
At the end of May we packed up our bags and headed to my in-laws. Conveniently it was my mother-in-law’s birthday the day before the race so we got to give her the “gift” of spending time with Spud the day after… We had anticipated making a sneaky escape from the house race morning, but Spud had other plans. He refused to go to sleep the night before unless we promised to wake him up before we left. Of course, he was sound asleep come morning, but we knew he’d be upset if we didn’t keep our word so we got him up, settled him on the couch with cartoons (because the grandparents weren’t up yet – it was 6:20am), and said goodbye.
It was about an hour’s drive to the race and we thought we’d see a ton of wildlife on our way because it was so early, but we were disappointed. After seeing 3 bears, a couple of deer, and a kamikaze mouse who almost bit the dust under our front tire on the way up, all we saw was a marmot sunning him/herself on the side of the road. So, a pretty uneventful drive.
In order to get to the race start we had to board school buses and be driven about 15 minutes to the start, at Hester Creek and Gehringer Brothers (they shared a driveway). It was quite comical to ride in a bus full of costumed adults (yes, it’s definitely that type of race!) who obviously hadn’t been on a bus in a very long time. There was a lot of shrieking from the back when we went over bumps!
Colin and I signed up for the first of three waves, mainly to beat the heat in the early afternoon. Temperatures that day ranged from 17C/63F at 9am to close to 27C/81F by 1pm so we really wanted to get done as early as possible. Of course, that’s relative since we finished in just over 3 hours… We hung out at the start and critiqued the costumes – Colin was “a runner” and I was “a runner in a sparkly skirt”. The race started fairly on time (not that it really mattered) and we ran down the drive and onto a dirt/sand path. Thankfully I didn’t get a shoe full of sand at any point! I had dusty feet, but nothing blister-inducing.
I forced Colin to Colin and I decided to run together at this race since it was just for fun. In the 3 years we’ve been running it is the very first time we have run a race together. And, quite honestly, probably the last until next year!
Our first winery with a wine/water stop (no wine at/drunks before the start) was Inniskillin. This was fun for a bunch of reasons:
- We love their wine.
- We got to sample white and red wine – don’t ask about types for any of the wineries as I didn’t even think to look – at 8:50am. It’s apparently never too early…
- They had snacks. Carrots, fig newtons, alphabet pretzels, and Timbits! Really, a sommelier’s nightmare, but breakfast for us.
- Wine tasting wasn’t a requirement, but it was obviously encouraged. 98% of the runners went in. The 2% who took the road past instead got booed.
Next up was Road 13. The good part was that we got to try their Rosé wine. The bad part was that we had to run up a hill to get it. I walked. Colin ran. After that quick jaunt it was back down the hill and over to the next winery (sense a pattern here?).
Rustico Farm & Cellars was pretty fun. After being greeted by 2 cowboys (who apparently wrangle grapes, not livestock) it was another hill. I forced myself to run up this one just to get a hill repeat out of it (I’m training for Ragnar…). The guy in the “Running Sucks” t-shirt gave me a good laugh. At the top I got a sheriff badge button that would give me a discount later in the day – good marketing, that! Had the requisite white, red, and water. Also had the added bonus of cocktail weenies. It’s amazing what you’ll eat on the run when finishing is the ultimate goal.
After Rustico we crossed the highway (thank goodness for traffic controllers – stop & go people – so we didn’t get smucked) and had a bit of a run til the next break. It was along a shaded path and across the Okanagan River. You can’t really see it in the left sign, but it says “The Drowning Machine” in reference to the weir.
Church & State was our 4th winery of the day. It was a little bit of a climb up to it, but well worth it. Another of our favourites. Colin commented that he was looking for the fullest cup so the girl brought over the bottle and gave him a good half cup (think red plastic cup size…). Goofed off a little, was thankful for the port-a-potties at each stop, and headed on.
I started to feel pretty tired at this point. I am still breaking in my Saucony Mirage’s (they’re a 4mm drop if you’re a #runnerd) and this was my longest run to date in them. When I stopped to walk on a very tiny incline Colin asked if I was doing okay. I replied that I was “lazy”. And then got an earful. So I revised it to “my legs are fatigued…” Back down the hill we went and along the river for a good while. The shade was very welcome!
Silver Sage was probably my favourite stop on the route. They had quite a few wines to choose from and it was really shady. It was quite a busy stop! They also had a lot of food – mini quiche, fruit, freezies, crackers, etc – which was greatly appreciated. We were hungry by then!
After Silver Sage it was up to Stoneboat (another walking hill…) and their citrus granita.
We may or may not have had multiple servings of that! Their part of the course was really nice since we got to run through the vineyard. I made Colin take pictures of me for my blog – here’s my favourite:
Oliver Twist was awesome too. Mainly because they had grapes in their wine and apple fritters to eat. I definitely shouldn’t have had 3 pieces since I cramped up not long after, but it seemed worth it at the time!
The stretch after Oliver Twist was a little rough. Not only did I have a food rock in my stomach, but I realized that I’d neglected to drink water at the last 2 wineries. Oops! Good thing refreshments were close at hand (unfortunately, though, coming right before a monster hill). We were treated to Sangria and cucumber gazpacho by Tinhorn. Again, not runner fare usually, but so welcome. I made sure to drink plenty of water as well. We ran a little bit more together until Colin told me he had itchy legs. I guess that’s what happens when you run slower than usual. Not that I’d know. So he took off and horrified all the people who elected to walk up the hill.
We met up again at Desert Hills. I had something white (Viognier? Gewurztraminer? Chardonnay? Don’t know.) and a lot more water. Colin stayed with me this time, but we got passed by a couple dressed as a hot air balloon and anchor. Only slightly embarrassing, but more so for Colin than me.
It was a pleasant surprise to find Nk’Mip (in-ka-meep; no, I had no idea the first time either) at the top of the hill with ice cold Reisling!
After that we only had one more stop at Quinta Ferreira before the finish. They were at the bottom of a hill because I felt speedy running down to them!
It was nice to get back down into Oliver and know the finish line was near! I didn’t make Colin cross the line holding hands (I should have) and we finished in just over 3 hours. Honestly it was the slowest, most relaxed, fun race we’ve done. After finishing we got commemorative wine glasses instead of medals (we also got a bottle of wine with each of our race packages) – with drink tickets for more tastings from wineries not on the route – and a decent bag lunch of a sandwich, salad, fruit, and dessert. We met up with our friend Laurie to eat and to catch up. Since it was getting pretty hot we headed our separate ways.
We got changed and hit up a few more wineries on the way home.
And went to bed at 9pm.
Here is the reason that this race report is so late: All I wanted to write about it for the last 2 weeks is “I ran; I finished; everything went according to plan, but my body decided to rebel; I’m still not over it.”
I guess that I should preface this with:
- Yes, I’m glad I ran my 2nd marathon.
- Yes, I’m proud that I finished my 2nd marathon.
- No, I’m still not happy with the result (and probably won’t be until the next let-down. Then I’ll look back fondly on this race). Look how long it’s taken me to write about it!
- My parents kindly offered to switch houses with us so that Spud could sleep in his own bed. This was great. We got to there place in the early evening and could just relax.
- But we didn’t. Colin was trying to figure out how to get his iPod to work on my dad’s computer so he could adjust his playlist. I was watching the Canucks game.
- Apparently you can’t do any iPod stuff like that if it’s not on your own computer (or without massively messing around with someone else’s) so Colin was frustrated for a good couple of hours. The Canucks went to 2nd overtime and lost. Both activities were a total waste of time.
- Set out stuff for morning. I was very impressed that I pinned on my bib and didn’t have a mini-meltdown over it. I refused to fiddle with it once it was on.
- Couldn’t get to sleep in a different house. Probably fell asleep closer to 1am and we had a 5am wake up.
- Colin discovered his backpack’s bladder leaked out all night from a cracked lid. Cue rush around to find duct tape.
- Made it to Skytrain before 6am to get downtown. Not dressed warm enough so stood with our butts in the car idling on the other side of the platform. I’m sure that the people in control wondered what we were doing…
- No one on transit that early who wasn’t going to the race. We all looked tired.
- Shuffled down to the race site to check our bags. Easy peasy – stick your stuff in this clear garbage bag, label with your bib number, hand over to volunteers.
- Colin got (according to him, gross) McDonald’s coffee – love that they sponsor a race – and wandered off to find friends. Unfortunately meet up place is under construction so we never did see any one.
- Pre-race bathroom break. Thankfully not too bad in the port-a-potties. The lines were as long as I expected them to be, but the addition of sectioned off urinals for the guys cut them way down. Please note that the mesh they used to block them off was one way see through. Colin could see all sorts of people on the other side who had no idea that they were behind the bathroom…
- Self-seeding “corrals”. Not loving so much. I stayed way in the back so I wouldn’t get caught up like I did in Victoria. Is there a reason so many people start running quite a bit before the start line? It’s chip-timed! There’s no rush!
- Out and back away from the water with a little loop through Chinatown at the start. It’s just along one of the main streets. It isn’t particularly exciting, but I liked it because I got to see a lot of my friends. Of course, they were on their way back as I was going out… For some reason didn’t see Colin at all. There was a little square block we had to do at the turn around so I must have missed him there.
- Saw friends who came out to spectate (thanks Tamara, Fabiola and Christian!) and take pictures. I didn’t figure out who was yelling at me until I’d passed them.
- Saw the race leaders. Holy fast! I was at 3km when they were on their way back at 9km.
- Saw a guy in a monkey suit. Looked really uncomfortable.
- Saw a slightly crazy lady kind of dancing along expending all sorts of energy.
- A guy in the 8km race that ran along the same route who was wearing an over-sized crown. Again, looked uncomfortable.
- I felt okay during this part. I was keeping to my slow pace and doing pretty well.
- A little reverse loop through Chinatown and then up to the Dunsmuir viaduct. Kind of cool since you aren’t ever allowed to walk up there.
- Nice older neighbourhood. Didn’t realize it was quite so much of a hill, but I plodded along just fine.
- Got to a water stop and the volunteers were yelling “no electrolytes.” In my head I was thinking GU2O, but they meant gels. I was carrying my own so it didn’t matter. Sucky for those who weren’t though.
- Should have stopped for the bathroom here, but there were only 2 port-a-potties and a pretty substantial line up. Note to self: you’re not breaking any records so stop if you think you need to!
- Ran through the Downtown Eastside. If you know Vancouver you’ll know that this is pretty much the poorest neighbourhood in Canada. However it was sunny out, there were lots of spectators and I thought it was really pretty. It doesn’t always look like that though…
- Ran out through Coal Harbour and could start to see views of the inlet and mountains.
- Body was starting to hate me for missing the last stop.
- Funniest moment of the marathon: traffic was really backed up coming out of Coal Harbour. Not sure if people were misdirected or if they just didn’t pay attention to signs. The police were out doing the best they could (I started thanking all of them after this). There was a priest 3 cars back (who I’m assuming was late for Mass) who was yelling really loudly at the officer. Something along the lines of “this better not happen again next year!!!” to which the cop replied, very calmly, “please take it up with the city sir.”
- Another water stop, but they were giving out doughnuts. If it had been closer to the end of the race I totally would have taken them up on the offer.
- Didn’t stop at bathroom for same reason as before. Note to self: STUPID!
- Started running around Stanley Park. Really pretty especially since the weather decided to cooperate. Made me realize how much I love Vancouver and how much I should appreciate living here.
- Finally hit up a bathroom. Thankfully a real one this time, but there were still lines. Tried to appease my body with drugs.
- Half way point! Woohoo! No gels again. What? This is what happens when the half and full share stations. There was a really pretty mosaic of GU tops on the ground though that would have made for a cool picture.
- Hit the little hill in the park (no were near as bad as the halfers had it). I’d done the route before so I knew what to expect.
- Starting to get kind of warm so start to utilize all water stations even though I was packing my own.
- Water station in park. No cups! What?!? Had volunteer pour directly into my mouth. Had next volunteer pour water on my hands so I could wash my face… Wasn’t smart enough to keep a cup like my friend did.
- Begin use of all remaining bathrooms. This was turning into a “character builder.”
- Ran out of park and then along Beach/Pacific Avenues. Nice view of the water. Unfortunately also the mental killer of seeing where I had to run to (Jericho) across the water before I could turn around.
- The Burrard Bridge. Dun, dun, duh… Really not as bad as it sounds. Way worse at 40km on the way back. My mental game started here because I was seeing friends who were on their way back. Rough!
- Running through Kitsilano was good. Nice beach views. Stations that had an abundance of GU (started stock-piling). Rolling hills, but nothing unexpected.
- Our friends Sean and Brenda came out at km 30 to take pictures. We knew they were going to try to make it, but weren’t sure where they’d be so it was great to see them.
- Started seeing more friends on their way back. I knew that I was pretty much bringing up the rear.
- Took GU Chomps when they were offered just to give my stomach a break. They went down fine, but I remembered why I don’t take them. Ugh. Definitely a personal preference.
- Finally to the turn around! I had to force myself to run to the water station. It wasn’t much of an uphill, but enough of one that I was dying at the top. At this point (9km left) my hamstrings, quads and hip flexors were screaming at me. I chugged as much water and GU2O as I could. A bit sloshy as I left, but better than being dehydrated.
- Return trip! I don’t know when I’ve ever been this happy in a race before. I was feeling really good about how I was running the race, but I knew that I was going pretty slow.
- Saw a poor guy laying on the ground in the middle of the road with 2 medics attending him. He must have had massive leg cramps because they each had one leg and were stretching him out.
- Hit up final 2 GU stations for extra gels. Didn’t need them at all, but if they were 6 people deep offering them I wasn’t going to say no. Those suckers are expensive! If I could have run with a whole box for 6km I totally would have taken one.
- The route went through residential at this point to get down under the bridge. I’ve shown it before, but fake it till you make it.
- Right as I was running out of this area my knee did a little pop/slide thing that had me hop-running for a couple of steps and freaked me out. I can handle aches and pains, but I’ll never mess with my knees. Thankfully I had an Advil so I popped it then.
- Coming under the bridge my knee gave me heck a couple more times so I walked for a little bit just to help it out.
- Here’s my favourite shot of Colin. He’s coming under the bridge and I totally think he looks like a celebrity about to kick a paparazzo’s ass for taking his picture.
- Coming up to the Burrard Bridge I knew that there would be the Lululemon cheer station (their offices are across the street). They were such a help. When you are a slower runner it means so much to have people still out there supporting you.
- Power walked up the bridge. I so wanted to run, but my knee was worse on up-hills. At least I was still passing people.
- Here’s the difference between a faster runner (Colin) and a slower runner (me) coming off the bridge:
- When you are fast there are other people around, you look focused and your feet leave the ground. When you are slow you get the photographer to yourself, you look happy because you have to distract yourself from the pain and you shuffle like an 80 year old man with a walker.
- It’s all downhill from here. It’s also a lot longer than you’d think it would be.
- I distracted myself by thanking volunteers (so many highschoolers looking for volunteer hours as a part of graduation requirements!) and police officers.
- I knew that I wasn’t going to hit sub-5 hours. I was trying desperately not to lose it before the finish line.
- I totally chicked a guy. Granted that it was a dad running with his daughter and that we’d been out for over 5 hours, but I needed the little self confidence boost.
- I still cheered for myself at the finish line.
- Saw the rest of my friends after getting my medal. Nice to at least say hi.
- Found Colin and promptly fell apart. He wouldn’t even tell me his time at the start because he got a 20 minute PR, but I forced it out of him.
StolePicked up lots of food at the buffet. Got to say the bonus of being near the end is that there is still lots of food and no lines. They gave us a handy drawstring bag when we came into the food area so I took advantage and loaded up.
- Got changed and walked over to Yaletown for pizza and drinks with friends. A few of us were celebrating and a few of us were drowning our sorrows (me in pop, but it felt the same).
- Walking to lunch and then to the Skytrain really helped with recovery. As much as I wanted to just sit around and do nothing it was good to have to move. The stairs down to the car kind of sucked, but in a good way.
- Picked up Spud and went home to lick my wounds.
presents for him to open each day we were gone. Once we were on the road it was a quick 45 minute drive to Tsawwassen to catch the boat.