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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:

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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.

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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.