Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon Week 3 / 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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



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…


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

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.

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.

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.


218 Days / 1 Day

And just like that my 2013 A-race is set! Extremely excited to #RunVan again. Goals coming soon, but I have a half to run on Sunday first.

Recap: Half Corked Marathon {27 May 2012}

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:

  1. We love their wine.
  2. 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…
  3. They had snacks.  Carrots, fig newtons, alphabet pretzels, and Timbits!  Really, a sommelier’s nightmare, but breakfast for us.
  4. 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.

Winging It

That’s right. I have no race plan for Sunday. It feels weird and liberating at the same time.

Any other training cycle would have found me printing off pace bands and stressing about where I would be when. This time I’m just winging it. I don’t mean that I’m coming into the race totally un(der) prepared running wise. It’s just that my training has been kind of unorthodox and I have no idea what to expect. After my heart-rate test I completely changed the way I was training. The vast majority of my runs have been on a treadmill. Most of my runs have been zone 1 with only a small amount of zone 3. I haven’t done hill training – although I know spinning has made my legs stronger. I did a lot of runs in my Vibrams and now my Asics feel so different (and I will be running the marathon in them). BMO Vancouver marathon is no longer my A race for the year. To be honest if I hadn’t already paid for the entry I probably would have sat this one out.

So here I find myself, three sleeps away from race day, with no clear idea of how I’m going to tackle the route. For once I don’t have a time goal. Yes, part of me wants to PR. But I don’t think I’ll have the same huge letdown that I did last year if it doesn’t happen. In the past I’ve done run/walk of 20:1. I know I’m not up for that this year. So do I do 10:1s? 5:30s? Walk at the aid stations that are every mile? Walk when I feel like it? It’s a quandary.

It sounds blasé, but I really think that I’ll be making it up as I go along. And, oddly, that seems to suit me just fine.

On The Road

Off to the island – race on Sunday.

Check back on Sunday morning for details on how to follow me (and Colin) during the race!
Good luck to everyone else racing this weekend! Can’t wait to read about your experiences!

Race Report: Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon – 27 June 2010

Race day dawned bright and early on Sunday 27 June.

After dropping M off at his aunt and uncle’s for a sleepover (thank you!) Colin and I went home with every intention of going to bed early after we packed up our race gear. Totally didn’t happen. There was always just one more thing to do: hunt and gather laundry for post-race, tie on chip timer, re-tie chip timer two or three more times to get it just right, add music to iPod/figure out playlist, etc… It must have been force of habit, along with having a kid-free house that kept us up until 11pm. So when the alarm went off at 4:30am the best we could do was roll ourselves out of bed and blearily get dressed and fed.

We met up with our carpool (the wonderful Herb, who drove us even though he was injured and no longer running, Allison and Laurie) at our local running store at 5:30am. It was about a 45 minute drive out to the race course and we had our fingers crossed that the rain shower we passed through would turn back to drizzle. We got a fairly close parking spot on the street and got our stuff together. We all look cheerful, but that was more race-day anticipation than anything… it was cold. As we were heading to the starting area we met up with James and his wife and commiserated about the weather – and, yes, James, I did say that my legs looked like plucked chickens (I had a severe case of goose-bumps)!

Colin, Laurie, Allison, and Me getting ready.

Now you can see us all!

Once we were on the race site we decided that it would be best to check out the porta-potties. Thankfully there were lots, but, as is usually the case, the lines were ridiculous. They were set up in a triangle so all of the lines were getting crossed. We didn’t have to wait long, but there wasn’t much order.

A nice group shot after our bathroom break… see how much happier we are!

Colin and I decided to go for a bit of a warm-up jog and stretch at this point. We didn’t go very far, but it was nice to get moving and calm my nerves a little. At about 10 minutes prior to start they announced that the corrals were “self-seeding”. I was a little confused since I had been assigned a start group – it said so on my bib. Essentially it meant that you could start where ever you pleased. I stuck to the middle of the pack since I’m neither fast nor slow, but I’m sure there were people in totally the wrong spots. Colin and I shuffled around a bit trying to get our GPS units to “find satellites” and then the race started.

And that’s when I noticed that my HRM didn’t display the right screen! Aarrgghh!!! It had been fidgety on my last run and I didn’t think that it had carried over, but it had and that meant that I only had my heart rate and time. NO PACE! Thankfully it was programmed to beep at 1km intervals, but I’d have to base my pace on that. Since I couldn’t stop to fiddle with it I kissed Colin goodbye, wished him well and sent him on his way.

I tried not to get caught up in the quickness of the pack. I have a pace that I know I keep relatively well (6:18/km) so I made sure I was going a little faster than was usually comfortable. The first kilometre and a half were good and then I started to feel my left sock. I don’t know if it was because these socks are getting old or what, but it had slipped down on the inside of my heel. It was totally bothering me and I didn’t want it to actually come off so I had to make my way over to the side, stop and pull it up – frustrating! Getting back into the race was fine (lots of shoulder-checking involved) and it was nice to see Herb at the 3km marker. I saw him first so I yelled out to him and he took this awesome picture:

See how relaxed I am early on…

The next couple of kilometres were pretty average. A bit of a downhill then a straight out and back (on the other side of the median). I saw Colin when I was at about 4-1/2km – he was on the other side heading back already – so I yelled at him and generally made a spectacle of myself. Since I knew that I wouldn’t see him again until the finish I felt it was my wifely duty!

I was keeping pretty good pace and making sure that I was fueling/hydrating well. Even though I didn’t use the water stations (I had my pack) they looked like they were well manned – there were lots of volunteers. At about 9km I got to the main downhill (+/- 75 metre elevation drop) and tried not to put on the brakes too much. I didn’t go all out, but felt like I made up a little bit of time. I hit 10 km (by my watch) in almost exactly 1 hour. After the hill it was a nice run alongside the beaches – I ran with Darren, my half clinic instructor, for awhile. Normally he’d have been long-gone, but he ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May and was taking it a little easier for this race. At about kilometre 13 he went on ahead and I slowed down for the uphill.

This is when my race started getting a little sucky. Murphy’s Law states that “if anything can go wrong, it will”. And it did. Suffice it to say that GI issues hit with a vengeance (any other mention is TMI). I thought that I was in luck – I was sure that porta-potties were just around the corner at kilometre 14. After all, that’s what the website had said. I had faith that it was true… and all I found was a water station. Crap. I kept my hopes up as I passed into a residential neighbourhood. Kilometre 15 – no luck. I passed some lovely volunteers who actually took the time to read my name and cheer just for me. I tried really hard to appreciate their effort! Kilometre 16 came and went with nary a little grey box in sight. I passed a little park with lovely water views and *gasp* A TOILET! Hooray! Or not. It was locked (I assume since it was city, not race, supplied). I was having no luck. At the 17km water station I finally found the bathroom. And promptly wasted 3 valuable minutes. But all was good with the world afterwards and I ran along happily until I came upon the Burrard Bridge.
I have driven over this bridge probably thousands of times in my lifetime. I even walked over it a couple of times during the Olympics. However, I have to say that to run over it – on the roadway – is daunting. It doesn’t look that steep. I learned that looks can be deceiving. After running 3/4 of the race on mostly flats or downhills it was a bit of a shock to the system to have to go up again, especially since it was only kilometre 18. I started playing games with myself to get up and over it. I told myself that it was just one hill and I’d done hill repeats so that meant it was nothing. I played “pass the runner” and picked people off just so I could feel good about myself. I let myself get distracted by the cheering spectators (as I should have). Soon I found myself on the home stretch with only 3.1 km left to go.

Once I was on Pacific Boulevard I started to get a little excited. I knew that I still had a ways to go so I couldn’t push too fast. My watch told me that I was on pace to beat 2:10. My original time goal was a realistic 2:15 (only 1:58 faster than my first half in February) so when I saw that I could potentially come in 5 minutes faster I really started to focus. At about 20 km I saw my friend Christine and said hi, but didn’t slow down for long. I could see the 21 km marker and needed to go.

Just as I shouldn’t have believed the website about the porta-potties I also shouldn’t have taken the elevation graph as totally accurate either. It shows a nice decline into the finish after the bridge. However, at about 20-1/2 km the road starts to go up again! Aahh! My legs were burning already and I kept checking my watch for time and I had a small hill thrown at me – not good. I really had to dig down deep to keep my pace. I passed the 21 km flag (silly me, I thought I was done since I forgot the .1 km) and then just booked it. See picture below:

Sprinting to the finish!

Colin told me when he found me after I finished that he called my name and cheered for me, but I was in such a zone that I didn’t hear anything. I have a feeling that my official finish line photo is going to be either really awesome or really scary – I’m voting scary. All I wanted to do was finish. My watch was telling me that I finished in 2:08:49, while clock (official) time was 2:13:07. Chip time turned out to be 2:11:38. Take which ever result that you want: they were all PRs!!! I knocked almost 5-1/2 minutes off of my time in February so I’m super proud of myself. I’m also really proud of Colin. He dropped his time by 12 minutes (1:55:07 in February and 1:43:08 this weekend).

I crossed the finish line, received my medal, found Colin and we met up with Herb again. I went to get some food – banana and a cookie – and then found everyone else.

James, Laurie, Allison, Colin and Me.

After a couple of pictures we made our way to the van and Herb surprised us with champagne for a celebratory toast (which we then turned into mimosas – healthy juice and all that). Allison, Colin and I all PR’d at this race! It was great to be able to share the experience with Colin as well as new friends – they are all from my marathon clinic.

Laurie, Colin, Allison and Me.

Herb, Colin, Allison and Me.

It was pretty much the perfect day (minus the issues listed above). The weather was just right, the course was beautiful, I had fun with friends and I got a PR. As we drove away from Stanley Park to find breakfast Herb put on Queen’s “We are the Champions”… it can’t get much better than that!

One Race: Three Finish Times

I PR’d today! The best part is that all 3 times (gun, chip, and HRM) were PRs… Personally I’m taking my own time as my PR. The chip time doesn’t account for the 3 minute pit stop at Km 17…


  • Gun Time: 2:13:07
  • Chip Time: 2:11:38
  • Polar HRM Time: 2:08:49
  • Placing: 2539/3812 overall; 1196/2124 gender; 212/362 age group

Here are a couple of photos taken by Herb, our designated carpool driver/photographer/marathon clinic leader (who, unfortunately, couldn’t run due to injury), which I shamelessly stole from facebook:

3km in – looking good…

Sprinting to the finish line – I was in the zone!

Herb brought us champagne and OJ to celebrate!
Race report to follow once I get some more pictures and relax a little.