Fake it ’til you take it: Port Alberni 15K Paper Chase Race Recap!

In the midst of this madness…We actually had a fun Sunday! We hoofed it up (of course on Daylight Savings minus 1 hour of desperately needed sleep) to race in Port Alberni. This is the fourth race in the VIRA race series, and it is relatively new- only a few years in existence. You should have seen the sweet-ass medals we had at the first one, niiice!

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Trotting through the Mill site. Photo courtesy of the Port Alberni Chamber of Commerce.

It is a challenging course, and each year I remember getting a 15k ass-kicking. Was this year any different? Ha, not really! I felt horrible all week (thanks, severe asthma and allergies), and was just generally feeling miserable. I did not have high expectations for this race. It was really chilly when we got up at the crack of dawn to drive out there, and the beginning of the race was super cold too, but it cleared up and was pretty darn nice after!

The race is a smaller one- the drive is pretty long for folks- but it has a very generous start line, not congested at all. The vibe was pretty cheerful! 😉 Love the run community.

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Trying to get more air by like, craning my neck?? UGH! Photo courtesy of Lyndon Cassels.

It also starts going up hill, and boy…By KM 3 I was like, is this some sort of sick joke? Jesus. I was gasping, coughing up tons of phlegm and just…Kind of struggling. Like I have been every day, ha. It’s a race that has quite a few rolling hills, and then the turnaround is good, and then into the McLean Mill! You run for just over 1 KM I believe, and it’s through the woods, mud puddles (wasn’t too slippy though), and then back to the road.

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I call this one- faces of pain. Photo is courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

I struggle-ran the entire way out, and through the Mill, and then was like, hey you know what? I CAN turn it on! I am running this race, it isn’t running me! And I could pick it up. I was still gasping for breath, and in the photos you can see my neck straining mightily to breathe. That’s just my life right now, breathless, constantly. It sucks.

I felt ok though, and picked it up until the last oh, 2km? We then hit more hills that slowly dragged out my will to live… I needed some go-button help here. My husband helped me finish pretty strong though. I was happy with that! (we still got passed at the finish like we were standing still, ha.). My time was fine, good even for how shitty the week was/breathing/sickness- a 1:07:31.

I, of course, grouched that my time last year was over a minute better, but I checked again and I was wrong- my time last year was like 30 seconds better. So, fine  with all things considering. I need to be friendlier to myself and my efforts, sheesh. I finished second in my AG and 9th woman.

We had excellent chili for post-race refreshments, and everyone was in a good mood~ The sun was out, so we decided to also cruise to the Quay and check things out in good ol’ Port Alberni. We got doughnuts – they were GREAT! So fresh, great flavours and selections, and the price was right- $6 for 6, even. Steal, right??

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Maybe a silver, but I got excellent doughnuts, so who’s the real winner here??

We wrapped up the lovely day by going to a new brewery, and they had patio seating open. Sunshine, a few beers, a 15k race. What more could a girl ask for?

(ok, well a sound horse, no allergies, no injuries, a non-pandemic…but this isn’t reality).

 

Race Recap: Port Alberni 15k Paper Chase

Ouch this one was also kind of an ego-crusher. Not because I had a really poor performance, or surprised myself with a bad race, but because it was just really hard and I was surprised at how often I got passed, particularly throughout and at the end of the race. I had no rally, apparently. Shoot!

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A beer for me after~ the best part of racing is the chance to try far-flung breweries.

I guess each year I forget how much of a killer the ‘rolling hills’ are in this 15k, and just kind of expect things to go…Well? Spoiler- they don’t really, hahah. My legs were feeling kind of trashed- 3 races in 3 weeks is a lot for me, and my legs were not responding well to the schedule. Plus I had a riding lesson the day before, also unusual for me.

I started off pretty well, optimist even! And then kind of started dreading the rolling hills…And then kind of ground it out to the turnaround, and then slowly started getting passed, steadily in fact! Ha. I just could NOT rally my legs. They were hurting, and getting tired.

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Photo by Lyndon Cassell Photography from Port Alberni. I was starting to walk away at this point, which is why I look awkward…

My goal was to stay under 4:30/km, which I kind of did? If you can count my ratio of a km at 4:22, the next one *up a hill* at 4:36, and then 4:25, and then 4:37,..and on and on. For the entire race…

I had a really bad Km at around 12…Just so uphill. I was tired, wanted to walk. I mentally gave up on that one. Rallied at 13-14, and then kind of just trudged it home and got passed within 500m of the finish line. HA. It was a stark contrast to my pretty good feeling 12km last weekend, even though I tried to catch up with some runners and they blew past me…I still felt pretty good about my efforts/finish. This race? Nah not so much.

But anyways, it was my fastest 15km yet! I ran it squeaking just under at 1:06:57. Yeah!! First in my age group (again like Cedar 12k it is a very small race, I am under no illusions that I’m some sort of super-athlete). My legs are still tired today, ha. Also it’s daylight savings and damn, it is killing me! Sooooooo tired this week.

A not-so-progress weekend

We all have these I guess. The grey days, in a funk, blah rides. Though check out this pic- even on his most blah days, Oats is a cutie! Taken on Saturday:

Mr. Handsome- photo credit to Hannah R.

Mr. Handsome- photo credit to Hannah R.

Also, Oats got his vaccinations on Friday and he felt really ‘off’ on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday, his canter felt terrible. He was scrambling, couldn’t keep the gait, felt like he had about 10 legs going at once, and was very unbalanced. I was like WTF? After our fabulous rides this past week, I was quite disappointed to have such a lousy ride…

Then I clued in that he most likely was feeling sore and out of it. Fair enough, Oats.

I let him graze for about an hour in the outdoor arena while I worked on it, digging up grass clumps. I do think he had the better part of the deal though!

I went for a fairly good 15k run with my husband on Saturday after I finished riding and working in the outdoor. In retrospect  I was running on legs that were already feeling tired. I was complaining on Friday that I felt tired, really tired. Like, I came home and lay down- on a Friday?! I was THAT tired, I guess.

So, running on Saturday after riding and digging in the arena was probably a bit much but it felt pretty good. AND I saw a seagull fish a crab out of the ocean and start smacking it around. The poor crab didn’t stand a chance, even when the seagull dropped it a few times!

Sunday, I tried again with Oats and he still felt very ‘eh’. His canter was improved, but his trot got worse. He could.not.bend.right. for the life of him! I tried everything, and he cranked his leaning to the left.

It was frustrating…And yet again, I figured it was stiffness due to the vaccination. I guess it was just hitting him harder than usual? So, two days of me feeling like I don’t know how to ride my pony, and don’t know how to run anymore either. Positive progress? It’s a bit of a game of snakes and ladders, haha!

Oats had Monday off, and so I did I. We normally take that day off to decompress, and give he and I, a fresh start to the week. We have our dressage lesson today and after the weekend, I am not sure what I’m going to be getting from him…

Merville 15k race recap!

Yup, time for another race recap. We haven’t raced since our run in Comox at the half-marathon, so I was curious about how this one would feel. I’ve never raced a 15k before, in fact, only trained to run 15k once! (While we were building up our mileage for the half-marathon, actually). So…I went into this one cautiously optimistic, but still wanting to be realistic.

15k and done!!

15k and done!!

You may be asking, where is Merville? Good question! Merville is a tiny collection of houses and farms (TONS of horse farms, to my delight!) about 15 minutes north of Courtenay/Comox. It is also sort of the same area as my favourite berry winery, Coastal Black, in the Black Creek area. It is approximately 3.5 hours from Victoria, so it was a bit of a trek for us, and included an overnight stay at my in-laws farm, which they have been very gracious about.

It's true

It’s true

We met at the Merville community centre, which is tiny! The race itself started down the road a ways, which kind of meant we had a mandatory warm up, and at the end of the race, cool-down, to get back to the community centre (food!!).

The course was good: Flat, the road wasn’t too slanted, which is what gave us trouble during the half-marathon, and we managed to get out ahead of the slow crowd fairly quickly. I felt good, strong and fairly ‘floaty’ for 5km, and then between 5-9 still felt fairly good…But at around 10-11km, my left knee started twinging VERY unpleasantly. I have a super-wiggly kneecap, and when my legs get tired, they stop supporting it and let it fly off to the left- and yes, it is as painful as it sounds!

My legs were getting tired, the pavement felt like it was starting to drag down my feet (running in quicksand??) and bam! My knee was starting to let me know it was not ok.

From 11km-15, I was cursing and sort of starting to limp and just hoping hoping hoping I could finish. I was so close, I could almost taste it! This is also when the course started devolving into an open road, and the traffic situation was getting a little…hairy!

I somehow (on a prayer basically) managed to make it to the 100m sprint lined by a alleyway of flags!! It felt very special haha. I was gasping and heaving by the end, it was not a pretty sight. They had port-a-potties at the end (thank GOD! I had to pee the entire race gahhh!) and water, oranges, bananas and gummi bears. I grabbed a bunch, and we made our way back to the community centre for a delicious lunch.

The soup they offered was sooo good- I had beef/barley, and Ian had butternut squash. Yum! We ended up leaving shortly afterward to hit up the Cumberland Brewery for a post-race beer (and they were so awesome, I highly recommend visiting that brewery if you’re up-island. Good beer, great folks, nice place!!).

Post-run beer at Cumberland Brewery

Post-run beer at Cumberland Brewery

And the best news? This was not quite as competitive a race (fewer runners) so I placed 10th out of 21 with my time of 1:17:34 (chip, not bib time) and Ian placed 5th out of 7 but his sprint was 8th overall- out of like 275 runners! Crazy eh!!? The biggest zinger for me was that I got beat by the 9th place runner by 1 second?!! Oooooh!