Once upon a hell of a time: MEC race #3 The Pace Setter recap

Even writing this, a day or so later, makes me cringe. Jesus, what WAS I THINKING? Let’s put it this way- sometimes race times don’t tell the whole story. This race was 2:10, my personal worst time, and boy, the worst race I have ever foolishly attempted.

Clearly, my ego has more stamina than my body.

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Background of the race- Hatley Castle. Photos by MEC.

As I mentioned earlier, I made the (stupid and ill-advised) decision to run the half marathon the day after the Sooke Saddle Club, in the heat (hot for here, 28 degrees) with a raging head cold and exercised-induced asthma. I know enough that I just knew this was a bad idea, a really bad one.

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Three friends walking to the race. Photo by MEC.

I was joking around with my husband safely ensconced on our patio the night before with a glass or three of wine that my goal was to just NOT DIE. Newsflash- so I am a fortune teller, because that’s the way I spent the entire race feeling: close to death.

I also drank more wine to chase away my fears that what I was doing was dangerous and stupid and yeah….What could it hurt at this point? (Jury’s still out on that but I still like wine, so). Anyways, I was pretty beat after the horse show. I was jumping off Oats to blow my nose furiously, and overnight had developed quite the hacking gross cough that kept me up pretty much all night too. Lovely.

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Fueling with a gel. I should have known how bad it was going to be…Photo by MEC.

The morning of the race felt warm. Stomach-wise, I was feeling pretty good which should have been a warning sign of impending doom. I drank a bit of water, had some coffee, and met up with a friend running the 5k. I joined in with the warm-up routine and found my legs felt, well…like lead. I had a few twinges of fear but pushed that away, telling myself that it’s always like that and then I settle really well. Um, no.

We were off, and I felt ok for oh..1km? By 3km I was in trouble, and a lot of it. My legs were on FIRE, burning so badly with lactic acid I was wondering WTF was going on with them. I’m used to running pretty regularly??

This is a spectacularly hilly race, it starts off uphill, levels out a bit, and then has uphills on and off until one loooong downhill, to a really long flat section right along the ocean (so picturesque! I wanted to die!!) and then a steep and long climb back to the start, where you do it all over again.

I knew after my trouble at 3k that I was going to suffer, and suffer mightily. By 5k, I was really worried. Even after the downhill, I was telling myself I was walking up the big hill. No worries on that though, because by 8k I was struggling. My asthma started flaring up, I coughed phlegm basically all over myself and was gasping and dramatically clutching my chest.

Yay.

I walked/staggered/jogged my way miserably up the hill, thinking “just make it to 10km” and the miracle of miracles, I did. So, I just…sort of…kept going? At that point, I was fairly sure I was going to collapse. I have fainted this year so I know the warning signs, I just wasn’t sure if it was going to be near a MEC volunteer or not…

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So glad to be done. Photo by MEC.

Stupidly, I struggled on. I couldn’t run at that point- my legs weren’t responding, I was incredibly thirsty and every time I tried to attempt a run up something that wasn’t flat, my lungs were gripped in a clenched fist. So, I did what any dumbass runner who feels like giving up is impossible did- ran/walked the entire rest of the 2nd loop. And boy, did that take FOREVER. Enough time to want to cry anytime I saw a MEC volunteer.

I was in a real hell of my own making, and spending a lot of time in it, too. I couldn’t even run 1km, it was more like 100m of weak jogging, walk for awhile, and then try it all over again. Hell is also hot and doesn’t have enough Gatorade stops.

Surprisingly, I made it to the finish where I dramatically got my puffer from my husband, and felt like crying again. I was SO. BEAT. I wanted to crawl away and lick my wounds in private and pretty much never run, or at least race, ever again. EVER.

I was salty with sweat. I could feel it coating my face, my arms, my chest and my hat. We went home and I showered and slept for 2 hours. No race, ever, had bested me this badly before.

I sat on the patio, drank wine and contemplated my life choices for the rest of the day.

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The truth hurts, so this should be painless

Weekend recap!

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Me this whole freaking weekend.

And what a weekend this was.

I visited TWO hospitals, after a lifetime of not a single hospital visit? (Both were scheduled, one was for a breathing test, the other for a planned procedure). My lovely husband assisted me with both days, and was so good about yesterday- longest day ever- and we even went for burgers at Bin 4 last night!

I had happy hour drinks with a good buddy.

We had girls’ night and played boardgames and sat in my friend’s hot tub for hours! I got home after midnight on Friday night 🙂

I ran hills one day! I ran 14km the other day!

I rode good old Oats three days in a row.

I watched a decent horror movie- ‘the Void’ super creepy, excellent gory special effects, weak-ish and complicated plot but still a fairly solid flick.

I felt happy, sad, jealous, anxious, good, sick, sore and crampy.

I even voted today.

It wasn’t particularly summery, rather chilly and windy except for Sunday (which was gorgeous). No pics from my weekend, but you’ll just have to imagine it, it was a super busy one, phew. Now I am recovering from anesthesia (no joke it affects you for 24 hours and they had to mega dose me b/c apparently I refused to go under?!) and still trying to manage the insanely bad cramping I had all yesterday. Lovely.

But, I’m back at it! Life, I’m coming for you!

VIRA Race recap: Bazan Bay 5K

Ah the dreaded 5k- probably my weakest distance and the one I dread the most. It’s funny, but people who are inexperienced in this distance and in road running always ask, “why do you hate 5ks? Aren’t they so easy? After all- they’re short!”

Yeahhh…

Short like a swift kick in the throat.

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So, in 2015 the weather was WAY NICER. My first Bazan Bay 5k.

But this year, my overarching goal for the winter run series (VIRA and MEC, some overlap) was simple: To DO IT. Run all my races.

And so I was running the 5k this Sunday, at Bazan Bay (I have skipped this race in the past) because I can usually find something better to do than run a lung-busting 5k, haha. But this year no wimping out!

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Wish it was that nice again…This year has been the WORST.

I’m not lying- I was NOT looking forward to it. Work has been out-of-control busy, my husband and his dad spent all Saturday replacing flooring in our townhouse – it looks great but he was not in great shape to run on Sunday! And I felt creaky, aching and stiff. So, bonus. Also it was snowing the morning of the race. Snow, in March, in Victoria. WTF???!

So yeah the stars were aligning and things were going to be a huge success *sarcasm*

We got out there, delayed going to the start as long as possible due to the snow, and then grudgingly shed our layers and jogged out there. We jogged back and forth trying to stay warm. At the start, I huddled with the other runners, enjoying their shared warmth. Too bad I stayed so far from start though, as it definitely cost me chip vs net time as I got boggled right down badly in the beginning. ARGH.

We started and it was kind of rough- I bounced off a few people, and then got in my first KM quite fast- 4:04/km. Hmm..I knew I couldn’t maintain that, but it’s also only 5k so maybe this strategy works for me?

The next KM plummeted- yikes. 4:29/km. Ouch.

Running the ‘out’ section of the ‘out and back’ was fine. Turning around, however…Rain/wind/ice pellets pelting us in the face the whole time. I could only thank GOD that it was a short race. We were grimacing, grim, eyes closed and desperate.

My next two KM’s were ok- I rallied at 4:22 and 4:23 (good). The wheels fell off the track for my last km at 4:29 again, but it was ok. I was dying!

I looked up at the clock and saw my time- and it shocked me- I was going to break 22:00? How on earth did I do that? I weakly sprinted, coughing and feeling like I was going to puke. Went through the finish line and staggered around reeling for awhile. I couldn’t figure out if I was going to faint, or puke first. But I DID IT! My bib time was 21:59 and my net time was 21:54 (that was where getting held up at the start bit me bigtime).

No chance of ribbons at 11th place- this is the second time I’ve gotten that placing this year, haha. BUT the best time I have gotten in a 5k, and quite frankly, a huge bonus for me as I was not expecting to do well.

Thanks to the volunteers who braved the horrible weather, and the fine folks at VIRA for putting on a great run series. We were stopped on our way back to the Mary Winspear centre for snacks/post-run and a few ladies asked us about the run series- I said I really liked doing them, and that it was a fun series that was very affordable and full of good runners 🙂

 

VIRA Hatley Castle 8k race recap: In a slump? Beginner’s luck?

As always, thank you to the volunteers and organizers that make a fun race happen. It couldn’t go on without their work! I love the series so much. Do VIRA races, support the local race community!

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So, this was me last year. When I actually…ran well.

I’m going to preface this possibly whiny post with the fact that I still enjoy running and my training has been going awesome! I had a great long run last weekend and felt fantastic after.

So, why then does this not translate? My races have been dumpster fires, mostly.

Now, this one wasn’t bad- I enjoyed the race, my mantra/goal for the race was ‘control’ as I wanted to run very carefully and ‘in control’ throughout the whole race.No getting run off my feet, no pushing a pace I couldn’t keep, frantic breathing, gasping for breath and choking on phlegm, dead legs. No pushing my body past what it can do.

And did I do it? YES! I ran a solid race, was paced very fairly in a good pack of runners. I even ran confidently at the slower, more controlled pace. I trusted my legs, my breathing was better (not great, but better at a slower pace) and I even felt fairly relaxed during it.

The last 1km or so was still kind of horrible and I was gasping and ready to hurl, but hey…always is eh?

And how did this controlled, focused approach do me for time? Ha. a minute and a half slower than last year. Last year I ran it in 37:19, and felt rough but doable. This year I ran it in 38:44 and felt rough but doable. What gives?

Why am I backsliding so badly this year? I’m really struggling with my races, where last year I was running faster more confidently. I want that ‘old me’ back.

This race I didn’t give in to my ‘give up’ temptation, that horrible voice in my head that eggs me on to give up, drop out, just walk. I didn’t even feel that need, because I was running a race I felt comfortable doing.

So, that was a big win. But, the nagging question for me- Why so slow?

Possibly I had beginner’s luck last year, and was running pretty great times kind of on a whim. Lucky me, then. But it’s bad because I keep wanting those times, and quite frankly expecting to get them. And I’m not.

So, I am having a tough time with it, but I am still enjoying training a great deal. I still like running, and I hope I can either turn this season around, or find a better way to measure progress, as it’s just not happening the way I wanted it to.

So let’s go: Weekend recap

Ride recaps- nothing too exciting since my good jump lesson. But, solid quality rides nonetheless.

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From the last race. Focused.

Sat/Sun, I can barely remember what I did, ha. I do recall working very hard on Saturday about corners at the canter, from diagonal to diagonal. Oats was very sweaty after, and we also worked on some quick steps-collected walk-quick steps. He did find that challenging.

My allergies are out of control despite my daily dose of Singulair, and my nose was running down my face the entire ride. YUCK. I spent the entire day coughing up phlegm or something, I just could NOT stop coughing. My nose didn’t stop running, and I was blowing it so much my ears hurt. Lovely…

Oh and it doesn’t end there either- after my ride, I went home and we went on a longer run, and I stupidly made and ate a salad about 30 mins beforehand. Dumb idea eh? I felt good for about 30 mins into our run, and then after that…Puked.

GROSS.

My stomach was fighting a battle and I lost. Yiiick.

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Probably from when I went out too fast.

My breathing also took a turn for the worse, as I was fighting off nausea and horrible stomach acid reflux, and the ever-present allergies, and when I finished my run my lips and hands had turned blue. Lovely.

My stomach felt shitty for the next two days, thanks to my meal+run choices. God.

And it was FREEZING on Saturday!

Sunday was definitely a bit warmer, had a decent ride on Oats where I schooled a few x-rails, nothing too hardcore. I packed my run clothes to the barn, and headed off to run a few hills from my old neighbourhood straight from the barn. I am a crafty cat!

It was pretty good and I learned my lesson about eating and just drank some iced tea, haha.

Back to the grind this week, with a session with my equine therapist yesterday and a dressage semi-private tonight.

Saturday Jump lesson: Recap!

I had changed my jump lesson from Thursday night to Saturday for my trainer’s birthday (worth it!! so fun) and we rescheduled for 2 p.m. I had kind of an irritable morning–it started off well with Gidget at the park, showing off her new playground climbing skills, and then I felt restless, agitated and anxious….I just can’t do the ‘sitting around’ thing.

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Our internet bombed out, again, so we were just bumming around until I had to get ready to go. I dropped my husband off and there was a massive clusterfuck of traffic…All of this contributed to me feeling even more off that day! ARGH. I got to the barn, and my allergies hit into overdrive–I could manage them, but I had a feeling that my anxious/gaspy, struggling to catch my breath would affect me later- still blew it off, but would later regret it…

During my jump lesson Oats felt pretty ‘meh’ even though he had two whole days off. Lazy pony! We worked on a really fun exercise- x-rail to low-wide oxer gymnastic again, to a small course of 9 fences. I was struggling to catch my breath–and it felt like my heart was racing. What on earth was going on??

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then jumped…Awkardly.

We caught a right drift that Oats was sneakily putting in, and after correcting that, I was quite pleased with his efforts. Nothing fantabulous, but just some good, solid work. I was still struggling a lot with catching my breath, and it felt like with the excitement of jumping, it was triggering an asthmatic response in my breathing. Greeaaat…

It took me much longer to catch my breath after jumping, which sucked and made me feel a bit worried. The good news? It wasn’t the jumps that were worrying me! Oats was a cool pony and he was so honest and good…Nice guy!

I was very pleased with him, and with me in the end for coolly riding out the small gymnastic and courses with minimal nerves. I think there’s really something in it, jumping smaller fences. They just ‘flow’ for me, and even when I boff them up, it’s no biggie!

(It’s never ‘perfect’ though- it’s good sometimes, bad others, and ok all the rest. And I am enjoying the process like never before!). Go Oats go!

Race recap: First race of the season! Prairie Inn Harriers 8k

As part of the 7-run series, Vancouver Island Race Series offered the first race of the season, the Prairie Inn Harriesr 36th annual 8k! We ran this race last year as our first race ever, trying out the series. Before that, I had only run Times Colonist 10ks (twice).

Last year I was impressed! It’s a fairly big race for a ‘small’ local race- between 500 and 600 runners, enough to make it feel fairly competitive and a very fast, international field.

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A race that looked as good as it felt (horrible!!). Photo courtesy of Race Stats.org

I didn’t really train as much last year, and this year I was feeling maybe a bit cocky? I had set some very aggressive time goals- 35 minutes (well, like under 36 more likely). And did I meet my ambitious time goals? a big NOPE on that!

I did run home to a fairly decent 36:20 (gun) and 36:12 (net), which is certainly  nothing to cry about. I feel good that I left everything on the course. I was dying! We held a quick pace of avg. 4:31 (well my race time online said I ran at 4:32 but my watch said 4:31) but it was very fast for me. And honesty time here: I do not practice race pace. I absolutely dislike speedwork and would rather even run hills…And it showed. My breathing sucked out loud.

I was immediately struggling to breathe. I was gasping, my mouth was like, hanging open the whole time and I was coughing and choking on phlegm the whole run. It felt like torture! This really nasty breathing was kind of an eye opener for me. If I had taken it down a notch, I’m sure the really loud, horrible gasping breaths I was taking would diminish and I would be able to ‘catch’ my breath again.

But…I wanted to keep at my 4:30-ish pace. Wanted to, wanted to, wanted to. I had to prove something to myself. So I did, and mannnnnn it was rough. I was running at maximum anaerobic capacity for me. And it showed. I had zero sprint near the end, my lungs physically hurt, my throat hurt and my neck hurt? Funny enough, my legs felt fine?!!

At the end, I recovered fine. The course was well marked, quite busy at first – and that is where I lost quite a few seconds between gun/chip time – lesson learned about getting close to the start line…And the volunteers were great, cheerful and lots of encouraging words~!

The food was great- I had orange slices, pb&J sandwiches, hummus and pita/veggies, and great cookies. They had the protein milk shakes I like best (Milk 2 Go) and yogurt too!

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Pretty ribbon! A big thanks to the Harriers for mailing it to me.

And the funniest thing? I even placed in my age division- 7th!! Woo! That was a surprise, and we left before they gave out awards, thinking we were total no-hopers. Well shoot, I should have stayed after all! 🙂 And thanks to my husband for slowing down enough to keep me on track. It was painful but worth it.