Race recap: Cowichan Autumn Classic ‘Run now, wine later’

I ran this race last year and quite enjoyed the autumnal, small and cozy atmosphere of it- the fall colours, the winery, everything! So I signed up as an early bird this year and promptly forgot that I had signed up…Literally falling two weeks after my marathon debut. NOT great timing I guess?

But it took only about a week for my legs to stop feeling like total mush, and for my blisters to heal over and I felt fairly confident that it was going to be ok.

And then I got really sick…and dealt with a strong emotional blow with Tucker, and struggling with the after effects of the COVID+flu shot. Do not recommend, at all. Basically knocked me on my ass Thur/Fri/Sat. And race on Sunday? Yikes.

I slowly started feeling a bit better, but now it’s even Friday after having a cold and things for over a week and I am STILL snotty and nose blowing/coughing up stuff. WTF? My sinuses hurt man.

So last Sunday was not really an auspicious day at all but I’d signed up, felt reasonably ok but not great, and we did it! Ian signed up for the 5k just for something to do. When we drove up island, it was absolutely freezing, with frost on the ground. I was in shock. Two weeks ago we had a heat warning for the marathon, over 20 deg, and now frost? Damn! Luckily I planned ahead a little bit and brought my run gloves, but otherwise was in for a real slap to the face. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr… Plus we were running kind of late, we forgot how long it really took to get up there (an hour, apparently) and I was like arghhhh!

But, all worked out for the best! We hustled and got our bibs, raced to the bathrooms (not long lineups, thank GOD), didn’t have time to put our bibs in the draw 😦 and jogged to the start of the 5k. I was racing both 5k and 10k in a combined race ‘the combo’ where your times are added up and the fastest time wins.

We started and Ian and I were easily right in the leaders pack. I was pacing myself to a reasonable not great time- I didn’t really have the lung capacity to race super fast and my legs were frozen. Plus I wanted to be careful about not killing my lungs for the 10k. Burnout isn’t fun and when I start coughing, I really can’t stop!

It’s a super hilly course- up and down, with the downhill sections being very steep! There is also 1km section through a bit of trail, which is flat but very pitted with potholes, haha. So you went up-down-up-down on that part. I was reminded, with relief, how short a 5k is.

I cruised to a 22:?? and felt good about that. Hard effort but not killing myself. It still felt extremely cold. I then hung out for a bit waiting for the 10k to start. Ian finished ahead of me with a 20:?? which is a great effort- this isn’t a fast track by any stretch of the imagination!

Then the 10k- I learned my lesson from last year and started at the front. Last year I basically ran as hard as I could for the 5k and jogged the 10k…which was a mistake, b/c the combine the times and my 10k was just so.slow! Hit the middle for both, that’s the way to go.

We had more trail sections in the 10k course which was pretty good, but I am always surprised by how slow gravel feels compared with pavement. It is an excellently- marked course, very clear course markers and safe. Still damn hilly, haha. I didn’t really pass anyone, and nobody really passed me much.

It finally started to warm up (well, my body heat was going nuts haha) so I could take off my gloves the last 2-3 kms. A guy running ahead of me shouted that he wished he had my gloves earlier in the race 😉 I was SO thankful I had them. Lifesavers.

I tried to pull myself together for a stronger finish but kind of…blaaahhhhed my way. I felt strong, but nowhere near the lung capacity I could potentially have. That’s ok! I was done within my goal range (45 mintues) just squeaked under 46 hahah.

And it was good for 2nd place women in the combo race, Ian tied me with a 2nd in his 5k for the men’s, and we even got to do a complimentary wine tasting at Zenatta winery! Win-win eh??

This is a fun local race, quite small but well run with excellent and safe courses marked, good volunteers (thank you!!) and nice post-race snacks.

Before you fall apart

Things have been really nuts lately. Had a very challenging week last week that culminated in…

A lousy cold, that I STILL have this week

Getting a COVID booster and flu shot in the same arm, same day (terrible idea)

Putting my poor rabbit down

And this week, I ran out of my allergy medication and thought I’d be ok. WRONG. Immediately had flu-like symptoms yesterday (chills/body aches/sore and swollen throat/crazy phlegm) and today was woken up by insane sinus pain. So bad that it woke me up!

So I tried to get a renewal, only to be turned down by the pharmacists because they couldn’t be arsed. Thanks, guys. You are freaking useless. And I KNOW you can renew prescriptions now! God.

Basically, the entire weekend was a write-off, starting on Tuesday essentially with a sore throat…I should have known. It’s a shame, because the month was going so well.

We enjoyed beer events, wine tastings, races, horsey events, and great weather. It all came crashing down last week, and the weather joined in too- we are not in a drought any longer, rather it’s dropped to 10 deg and blasting wind/rain? Well, I know we had it coming but ouch, this stings. 😦

Onwards and upwards though as we prepare to leave on our big sabbatical. Only 6 days left- can you believe it? Then it’s adios, amigos!

Saying goodbye

I had to say goodbye to my bunny, Tucker last Wednesday. A rabbit of distinction, he was an engaging, curious, funny and cute little dude. He came into my life when my other rabbit, Buster, passed away. I wasn’t ready for another and yet, there was Tucker- in need of a new home!

He had many health challenges that made life very difficult, as he was so sensitive. He was a tough old bunny though and always made it through. Putting him down made me feel like I had amputated a part of my soul. I still look for him. It was excruciating and I would NEVER wish that for anyone. The emotional pain still lingers greatly everyday.

You always remember your first: Marathon recap!

So, I did it. Like any good runner, you turn into a cliche: The marathon runner. SIGH!

Looking fresher than I felt…

I held out for a long time, chiefly because I couldn’t stay healthy enough to train, let alone race, that type of distance. I got a few stress fractures (when people talk about shin splints, they have NO IDEA how bad they can get. Source: me) and I wasn’t able to walk very well so goodbyeee race plans! And then a pandemic, and then another set of stress fractures, and well you know the whole story!

So, this was my time to shine- clearly.

I did train fairly well with a ridiculously ambitious training plan (for people aiming to get under 3:30, and I can tell you the plan was NUTS and clearly designed more for people trying to get closer to a 3:15, in my opinion!).

But…the bugaboos are always there. The gerbils were running wild in my head, I was so anxious. It’s not a joke of a distance and I was aiming for an aggressive time. I chatted with a few runners I knew at the start and told them my time goals and they thought they were agreeable, but when I was pacing with a guy we chatted too and he was surprised that my time goals were that ambitious for my first…So I was kind of knotted up in uncertainty. Go big or go home??

I had a lot of nightmares about the race leading up to the day. Two back to back nightmares about missing the start? Hah. Weird.

The morning was anticlimactic. There was a heat warning for the race, as we are having an incredibly unseasonably warm October- this was the warmest this race had ever been, at just over 20 degrees when we were running! This added to my freakout…

We jogged to the start (a huge bonus of doing a hometown race. Zero travel!) and got into position. The wheels in my brain started to churn- there was NO pacers. None. I was really counting on one, given I am a newbie…And kind of left the idea of pacing to someone else. Big mistake!

But no time to worry, time to focus! We started and it was very congested and very slow. The half marathon started with us, and many racers (half and marathon alike) pretty much went to the front and started…walking. I spent a lot of time and energy weaving, because I am an idiot.

Looks better than it felt

I felt tired right away- good omen eh? The first 10k were uneventful, I had some candy in my pockets and I ate those. It was hilly and winding, very congested. We wouldn’t lose the halfers until about KM 14 I think?

Because of how dangerous the heat could be, I made sure to stop at every.single.water.stop. No skipping- not even one. I don’t normally even go for water in a half, but I knew that could literally kill me this time. I respected the heat warning, and in fact got so hot I started grabbing multiple waters (one to drink, one to dump down my chest).

I was so thirsty. SO thirsty.

My pacing (despite not running tangents due to crowds) was fairly even up until the half way point. I caught a few too fast KMs (4:23s) and toned it down. I’m still so green at this distance…I know it can mess you up badly. By the time we got to the half way point I was hanging on, but also starting to feel concerned…and like maybe this was a bad idea… The tightness in my right hamstring really started to call out to me.

Hah, joke’s on me. It only gets worse from there on!

At around Km 33, the wheels in my brain fell off and I wanted to

a. cry,

b. leave the course immediately and probably

c. get hurt so I wouldn’t have to finish.

Sweat was pouring off me, my core temperature was going crazy and I just couldn’t think straight. I ate a few more Xact Nutrition bars (clumsily, with sugar crystals coating my face, the bar a mushy mess in my mouth) and just tried to hang.

I bounced around with one of my friends until I thought he left me in the dust. I was feeling lightheaded and hot, so hot. After KM 36 or so, it honestly felt like time was slowing down. Everyone was moving in slow-motion, arcing in front of me but still going too fast for me to catch up. My legs, arms, body wouldn’t go faster.

I also tossed an almost full water cup straight into the chest of a volunteer (sorry!) who was standing in front of the trash cans and didn’t move when I was mumbling excuse me as I ran by. There was someone running in a full rhino suit- can you believe it!! It was SO hot man. Woof.

It was pretty funny in retrospect!

I had this thought: Get to KM 39 and THEN you can fall apart.

But then I got there, and the finish seemed so close!! (until you realize it’s still like 3km of winding). Any small amount of hill that normally wouldn’t bother me seemed like Mt. Everest. I wanted to walk so badly, I even stopped at the final water aid station (2km left) to drink in hopes it’d power me further. On a regular day no way would I stop that late in the race!

Clearly I was desperate 😉

Ian was going to watch me and I planned to spy him, but when it came I was so zonked out that I couldn’t do anything but stare straight ahead, and breathe with my mouth open. Hah. He did the half marathon (and got a very solid time!).

My time! Finally! It was good too, 3:17:38 (chip)

I jogged weakly through the finish, saw a chair and sat in it for a bit, then got up and got my medal. The snack volunteers were like: You want a banana or an apple? And my brain was so destroyed that I couldn’t figure out wtf they were asking me. So, I ended up with a banana and then went to the next volunteer and got the apple bag- hah.

I hung around waiting for Ian, and when I couldn’t find him decided to start walking home gingerly. I spotted him in the field of the Legislature and I was soooo glad because then I could lean on him to hobble home! We got home, I couldn’t take my shoes off so I sat on the stairs so Ian could take them off. The aftermath was prettttty hideous. But I hopped in an epsom salt bath for 30 mins and listened to a podcast (Gidget kept coming in to check on me!! ha she is so sweet) and then we were up and walking back downtown to beer festival. Crazy eh? It was SO GOOD!!! I loved it! It was amazing.

Ouch. Still healing these bad boys today!

And then I walked home feeling pretty drunk but probably just tired and lay on the grass for awhile. Good end to a good day. At that point I told Ian I was NEVER going to run another marathon ever.

We’ll see ??

Well earned 😉

A plant-based extravaganza with House of Boateng and YAM!

Ian and I were incredibly fortunate to win a fantastic 10-course tasting experience with Chef Castro at House of Boateng, thanks to YAM Magazine!

A great event!

It was a few weeks ago, but things have been SUUUPER nuts lately, so only now I am able to sit down and write all about it- it was lovely!

I bought us a few drinks (glasses of wine, that we both turned out to be incredibly allergic to unfortunately and made for a very challenging next day, ugh) and the dinner was set!

We started with a simple riff on caprese salad with tomatoes, and moved on to a tasty soup (was supposed to be served chilled, but it was served warm- which I was thankful for, I was absolutely FREEZING for the night, hah).

Roasted chilled white beets were good, but I was kind of getting concerned…so small…and I was so hungry!

The jalapeno that was stuffed was hilarious- apparently there is a lot of variability, mine was fine so I chowed down, while almost everyone sitting at the long table with us was freaking out it was so hot!! HAHAH.

The mushroom wrap was lovely, kind of like a green taco?

And who doesn’t like a hot dog (vegan!)

The squash noodles were lovely as well…

But the real standouts were the roasted white yam- AMAZING and complex flavours. Fantastic! A depth I never thought was possible with plant based!

And so was the finale- the King Oyster mushroom- very steak-like, tons of umami flavour. Delish!

Dessert was hilarious- literally carrots?! Not sweet at all- but worked with the cashew cream and balanced the sweet meringue nicely. A great way to end the (super long, omg we got home after 11am!) night. 🙂

Am I now a plant-based convert? Nope. It was very fun and an amazing way to try a huge variety of chef-specialties, but I did find myself missing the mouthfeel of cheese or meat. I did think the menu ‘built up’ better in vegan than meat-based, but it also leaves you hungrier, hah. We had to definitely eat all of the 10 courses to feel full.

Thank you to Chef Castro and YAM- amazing opportunity!!

Double the fun at Fairlawn Stables!

We took the opportunity to do a field trip on the weekend to try out our dressage trainer’s amazing new footing at her farm, Fairlawn. It’s also a gorgeous facility, so huge and spacious and bright so why not !?!

The ponies were…less than thrilled to see the trailer pull up again (Two WEEKS in a row?) but got onboard when we were there 🙂

And I said: Let’s do something FUN! That’s all I want to do now, lol. I only have less than a month left here, so let’s make the most of it and really enjoy ourselves, so that is the lesson we got- a pas de deux lesson with the two dudes!

And they are so cute together, I think they’re really figuring out how to rate with each other!! And Becky and I only forgot where we were going once or twice I think 😉 The horses picked it up faster than we did.

We then enjoyed a little cruise around the fields after, as they have a lovely little pond you can ride around. The boys were very well behaved, and it was just such a fun and chill atmosphere. Can you ask for any better? Plus the weather has been amazing lately…chilly today, but far, far above the seasonal temps for Oct. We’re stuck in the groundhog day of my dreams…An endless summer!

My reviews: A superlative ranking of ice creams!

Superlative ice cream rankings as we say goodbye to summer and I only have FIVE WEEKS LEFT!!! (and boy, I am so over everything ).

A few weeks ago I was telling my husband that I probably shouldn’t be the one to go to the grocery store, because no matter what, I come home with like three ice creams, two bags of marshmallows, yogurt, Cheetos Flaming Hot, and Funyuns. And no actual food, because I am a garbage person??

He agreed but also hinted that someone has to be the junk food buyer and someone has to be the responsible buyer, and it looks like that is now my role sooo…. I bring to you the best ice creams I have tried this summer, and likely all bought at the same time, hah. Hey, the freezer is there for a reason- ice cream and frozen pizza. You may be shocked, even surprised to learn: the winner was NOT chocolate peanut butter!! I know, blasphemy! BUT stay with me.

The winner of this year’s best grocery store ice cream is…. Western Family’s Signature Double Chocolate Cupcake!

I know, I was surprised myself but this ice cream is so incredibly rich and it has these lovely little sprinkles providing fun pops of colour throughout without being trite or tired, kind of like the Americans weird love of sprinkles called ‘Funfetti??’

Plus unlike peanut butter cup, the flavour appears to be evenly dispersed soooo to all of you mining for a rich vein of peanut butter cups, or peanut butter…You don’t need to! The taste is all in it, you don’t need to dig through half of the container seeking the one interesting chunk. That, to me, is priceless. Friends, get yourself this ice cream. You will NOT regret it.

I love product innovations and will seek them out because I think companies should be trying harder. On that note, bear with me on this rant but: I hate buying shards of pretzels jazzed up to make it seem like ‘hey great new product!!’ NO. I am buying YOUR mistake. Bring back the whole pretzel, you cheap bastards!

In other news, I still buy them because I like pretzels and they don’t seem to make whole ones in the fun new flavours these days.

Moving on to second place is Ian’s favourite and a pretty fun new flavour buuttt the quality is very much of the ‘frozen dessert’ mediocrity that is Breyer’s and the like. (I see they are calling it ‘light ice cream’ which is a pretty nice spin there, Breyers. Want a job at GCPE?) Try out the Nanaimo Bar ice cream as one of their ‘taste of Canada’ flavours and prepare for an interesting textural but still very on-the-note of Nanaimo bars.

It has flakes of coconut, mixed in with a fairly rich and delicious ice cream base that is marbled yellow/chocolate just like a good ol’ fashioned Nanaimo bar. Now, it’s not punching above its weight at all- that is reserved for actual ice cream, not a fakey one, however it’s a really nice take on something Canadian and a fun eating experience. Give it a try!

Third place (I couldn’t give this ranking to peanut butter cup- I just couldn’t do it to my truest love) so I am springing on you a new ice cream altogether. Enter the dairy-free offering from Coconut Bliss. I tried the Madagascar Vanilla Bean (by accident, thought I was buying chocolate peanut butter), and the Sea-Salt Caramel Chocolate. I actually really enjoyed the Madagascar Vanilla Bean once I got over the fact it wasn’t chocolate but it does have a pronounced and unsurprisingly heavy coconut flavour, so if that’s not your gig steer clear. The Sea-Salt Caramel Chocolate I like a bit less, and that did surprise me a bit, possibly because it still have a very heavy coconut base flavour that doesn’t mingle amazingly well with predominantly caramel flavouring? And I also expected it to be chocolately with caramel, but it’s the other way around- caramel with chocolate bits. So…yeah. Not a big hit but not bad either. If they go on sale (I found them for 2.97 a pint at Country Grocer) then give them a go!

As we bid adieu to a summer that seemed so very short, I also have a message to the ‘mother’ that got in my face to yell at me after her child ran into me when I was jogging on the Breakwater: I hope you NEVER get to enjoy another ice cream again, you ass. Also when you yell at a person about ‘why would anyone think they can run here’ and ‘this is a PUBLIC place’ I guess to cover her poor parenting, when there are about four other runners also enjoying a lunchtime run on the Breakwater, well hate to break it to you but die mad about it.

End scene.

South Island Riding Club Gymkhana #2

Another fun day! Wow this fall has been sooo busy, I can’t keep up! This is a new club and I am loving their ethos- low key, supportive and fun 🙂 Oats and I are NOT fast but as English riders, we are welcomed and having a blast.

Yessss keyhole!

We did barrel racing (our weakest), pole bending, keyhole, surprise class and stake class. They were such fun and I borrowed hoof boots so Oats would be comfy this time. He was still very unhurried, lol, but he’s a solid citizen and very safe to show at this venue. Also, the Western horses all had a meltdown about the miniature x-rail in the keyhole lol so that was Oats’ time to shine!

Friends!

We won the keyhole and might have won the surprise class (holding a lacrosse stick with a ball in it, you ride the stake pattern and on the way back, you deposit the ball from the lacrosse net into a basket!) Oats was a superstar about it 🙂

Love my boy! We also had our friends come, including Oats’ leasor, and it was really awesome to see everyone out again on such a gorgeous day.

On our way, Oats didn’t even try to kill everyone in the trailer this time!

Lake to Lake Half Marathon: Shawnigan to Glenora

Ah yes, forgot that I ran this one of a few busy weekends ago (Sept 11?). It’s quite a small community fun run, and it is unique in that it offers two distances: the full marathon, and the half. It is not chip-timed – and as I learned when I ran it- not quite a full distance either, hah. 😉

Lake to Lake!! An eerie glow…

There was a small crowd as we started slightly after the full marathon folks, and it’s a point-to-point, so you do have to be aware of getting back to your car. They do offer a shuttle, but luckily for me Ian wasn’t running so he could pick me up afterwards! Yes!

The weather was fantastic. It’s been an incredible fall, no rain, just sun and warm weather days. I love it! I was a tad chilly in the morning, but that burned off pretty quick. Speaking of burned off, there was also smoke- due to forest fires from WA. Luckily for us, the smoke in the air didn’t get too bad until later in the afternoon and I was finished fairly early, so not bad.

I started up near the front, as it was quite a small race. I hung out for awhile with another guy, cognizant of not wanting to blow up my pace (this was supposed to be a practice run for training, NOT a real race). Did I actually do that? Well…sort of. I got pretty into the idea of racing quick 😉 and mistakenly thought I was KILLING IT!! A new world record for me!! (newsflash: This did not happen. You merely rise to the level of your training, not above it.).

So, I jogged along, beat the one guy and had a few fasties ahead of me. I hustled and caught up with them…and then started feeling tired. The aid stations were a bit odd, not very evenly spaced and we had one right off the bat where we didn’t need them, and then 1 at about 12k? And then one at the finish, lol. Guess they were more important for the marathoners hahaha. The gravel was ok to run on, but I think the fatigue of training caught up with me and I started feeling pretty chewed up.

Cute participation medal eh?

I lost the fasties and kind plugged along solo for awhile. Wish I had some pictures actually!! And then it was the finish- at about 20.60, we were definitely a touch short. Oh well! I came in with no fanfare and my time was around 1:30:?? which is fine for a training run for sure, but again- course was short. I believe I was second female but not quite sure as there’s no awards or anything unless you win!

Waited around for Ian to come, he didn’t so I decided to just go and tackle the rest of my long run rather than waiting for the smoke to get worse, and for my legs to start stiffening up too much. That part was a SLOG lol. I did see a lot of other marathon runners so I cheered them on, hah clutching my participation medal because I didn’t know where to put it haha.

I finished that in about 1.5 hours, jogged back to the staging area and ran into Ian again. We wrapped up the day by going to Stillhead distillery for a spirits tasting (so good!!!) and then we went to watch the finishers of the Finlayson Arm Ultra (50k/100k day) and then went riding. A good day all around! 😉

I would recommend the Lake to Lake Marathon for a fun training opportunity that is supported and quite reasonably priced, it’s a beautiful course and very fun. Not a serious race, in my opinion but that makes it more fun!