Compare & Contrast: 2016 to 2019

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VIRA Race Recap: Port Alberni Paper Chase 15k!

A new one to the series and I’m glad to see the return of the 15k distance, though my legs may not necessarily agree 😉

Last year this was a 10k and I found it challenging. Rolling hills took a lot out of my legs and my season last year was full of difficulties, so it equalled out to a really tough race. How would an even longer race this year fare?

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Photo courtesy of Lyndon Cassels Photography.

Ha. It was TOUGH.

Rolling hills galore! It was tough to maintain any semblance of pace. There was  neat trail section that took runners through the historic MacLean Mill site, which was pretty cool though I was running and staring at the ground for most of it! Missed on me, haha.

So yep, first off I got passed by pretty much everyone- flew past me like I was standing still! It’s hard to start races like that, but I knew I had to run ‘my’ race and be careful about pacing. It was going to be hard.

Mentally challenging start for sure, and my pace kind of tanked, even though I felt like I was trying really hard to ‘run’ if that makes any sense?

At the turnaround just before the Mill section of the run, I was like whaaa?? This is so hard!  Luckily the Mill part broke it up, though my pace dropped hilariously (over 17 seconds lost there, hahaha). Oh well it was pretty!

The run back I was kind of in a funk, but not quite a deep a funk as I started with. I had a goal- how many KM’s can I get at 4:30/km? It was a game I played with myself, ha. As soon as I hit a hill though it fell apart. Another young runner and I played rabbit on and off, with each of us running neck-and-neck. It actually really helped me stay on my game, and I ended up passing her in the final KM or so. She was right on my heels!

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Photo courtesy of Lyndon Cassel Photography.

The finish is on a slight uphill that is an absolute pace killer, ha! I charged up it though and ran to the finish. Done! My time was 1:08:20 good enough for 2nd place in my age category. Sweet!

The food was SO good after too- candied salmon chowder, foccacia bread, fruit/veggies and milk and yogurt. All my favourites! Delicious! A big thank you to the great volunteers and chefs handling the day. A well-run and very safe race. I do recommend it if you are looking for a tough 15k to challenge you. 🙂

After the race, my husband and I checked out the Port Alberni Brewery Twin Cities. I tried the pineapple-coconut sour beer and it was SO GOOD! We bought a growler of it to bring home. Highly recommend!!!

Cobble Hill 10k VIRA race recap!

Ah, the 10k. Last year it was the bane of my freaking existence. I was actually contemplating the (kind of grim?) idea that my days of progressing and getting faster were completely over.

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So, you can see I was running a tight pack most of the entire race and I got passed right at the finish too. Ha. Photo by Neil Gaudet.

I was struggling- a LOT. My breathing sucked, I was sucking air even on ‘easy’ runs and had some truly frightening race moments where I thought I was going to collapse. I think now it was me dealing albeit poorly with allergy-induced asthma, but at this point who knows??

It was just kind of a rude awakening because I’d been getting progressively faster (ha, well fast for me) and seeing some good 45-minute or so 10ks (45:23 was my best)…and then bang, the bottom dropped out and I was clawing on to 47-something minute 10ks wondering wtf was going on?

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Photo by Lois D’ell. Me gaining on the pack…Yes I can do it!

Anyways as I am learning I was deep in a plateau. Like, a year plateau. I kind of mentally gave up last year’s lousy race season and did whatever I wanted running-wise for the summer/fall. I ran a 10k in …Sept? And it was pretty blah. I was terrified I was going to stop breathing, we ran it and it was a 47+ minute ish one. I didn’t have any trouble breathing! Maybe I could trust myself?

But..it still felt hard. I still sucked at it.

I ran a half at Halloween and blew it out of the park!! It was the first race where I felt GOOD!! I was high-fiving, smiling, having a rockin’ good time. Turning the corner on my sad-sackery? Maybe…?

I still felt kind of ambivalent about the 2018 race season. Given how shitty my last one was, I sure wasn’t holding my breath (ha). The 8k I ran two weeks ago shocked me- I was running faster paces than I ever even tried. And it didn’t feel bad?

But, you know the 10k is a different beast.

The drive up to the race saw it just pouring rain, hammering down. Victoria had a windstorm. I was feeling kind of grouchy…Not another blasting wind/rain pain race?!

But you know what?  I ran the fastest race I have ever run. YESSS!! It did NOT feel easy- it felt hard. But, it was a hard I could do! I had to let go a bit of mentally beating myself up in the middle sections, I was starting to struggle, worry, and think that I couldn’t get it.

But then I could. And I did. And I waited, saw my chance and hauled ass!

I wasn’t sure if this was going to be my day, but it was!! I ended up with a very respectable 43:09 gun time. Good enough for 4th in my AG and 13th woman overall (a smaller field). I am BEYOND happy with that effort! 🙂

The food was also great after the race, and the volunteers were very cheery and kept us safe on the course, as it is an open track with cars on the road.

Run.Rest.Ride.Repeat

An important part of racing is rest.

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Wish it was summer and we were enjoying the good life…Oats takes his rest very seriously.

Now I just need to tattoo that to my forehead, backwards, so I can learn my lessons haha. I am on the opposite spectrum of most – taking it ‘easy’ or days off can be very psychologically challenging for me. Therefore, the week before a race is often fraught with worries about lagging, feeling heavy or slow.

I make an attempt to scale back the week before in a big way.

What does this look like this week? Well things vary, but ideally…

  • Monday- light gym workout with pushups/stretching.
  • Monday night- like, a 15 minute ride on Oats haha. I was tired!
  • Tuesday- Not running to work this week! No treadmill run at the gym and light stretching only, with my rehab exercises.
  • Tuesday night- No dressage lesson. Light ride on Oats.
  • Wed – Not running to work, and I might do some weight machine work with stretching/rehab.
  • Wed night- day off riding! Bathroom cleaning and TV watching night.
  • Thursday- Day off working out and going out for lunch. Go me! I almost never do this. As a creature of habit, it makes me feel uncomfortable when I deviate from my routines.
  • Thursday night- jump lesson!
  • Friday- Light barbells work with stretching/rehab exercises. No squats/cardio warmups. 5k total jog to Dr’s office for foot treatments in the AM.
  • Friday night- drinking wine 😉 Day off riding.
  • Saturday- Light ride on Oats, and no hills or any other runs.
  • Saturday night- no wine. Boo!

So that’s my plan and I am sticking to it!

Race Recap: MEC Race #3 The Tape Breaker!

I ran this one solo, no friend, no husband to join me but I was fine with it. The race moved from last year, the Sooke Potholes location. I really loved the Sooke race–I was fairly new to half-marathons, and found it quite difficult and hot, but the track, the scenery, the weather…so gorgeous!

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So when they announced a new venue I was kind of feeling crabby about it.  One of my favourite races was Sooke even though my time kind of sucked last year, just because of the lovely memories of it. So how was Royal Roads going to measure up?

Well! I can say I am very glad this was was changed when I was more comfortable with running the halfs, that’s for darn sure. It was quite a bit tougher, in terms of terrain to negotiate and the hills. Oh, the hills…I assumed it would be hilly but doable, but when you start with 2k of sloping hills, and then run up Wishart Rd–kind of kills your will to live!

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I’m not gonna lie, the first 10k I was feeling pretty surly at myself. My pace sucked sucked sucked, my legs felt really dead–I looked at my watch at the start and it was saying paces like 5:37, 5:40–at the START of a race? WTF was going on? Why so slow? Well, the slow was due to hill running, genuis! hahah.

It was a combination of gravel, pavement, some road running, then hill/road running, more trail running (roots) and back to gravel. A more technical half than I am used to, but you know what? At 12k a volunteer shouted to me–”Hey you’re half way there!” And I smiled and felt instantly better. Sure I am! Funny enough, having to muscle my way up a really long/steep hill made the time pressure much less for me. I was not going to get my goal time that I got at my last half- 1:45. So I might as well enjoy the process!

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And I did! It was still very hard, I was running dead alone for most of it–not many in the middle ground like me, some very fast runners ahead of me, and slower runners behind me, but nobody with me. It could have been very lonely, but I was fine. It was a hot day, I was sweating so much it was splashing off my ponytail 🙂

I made sure to stop at every water station and drink Gatorade too. I wanted my race to feel SO much better than last time, when I felt like dying and it was horrible. And you know what? I finished STRONG! Happy! FAST! *well, you know…

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My time was 1:50 and you know what? That is totally ok. I know I am capable of faster- on a different track- but on Sunday, that was good for me. I ran a race I am happy with. Congrats to MEC for putting on another affordable, well-run race for everyone, and I love the photos too!

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A strong finish. Thanks to MEC for another great race.

Track Meet #2 Race Recap

This past weekend was also my second attempt at racing on the track at the Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run Series.

Was I ready? Hmmm…not so much. It was hot, and I was feeling pretty lazyyyy….Literally the polar opposite of last track race, where it was freezing and I was so cold my teeth were chattering.

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I am a winner! (of nobody in particular)!

We had gone to Thetis Lake with floaties and got fro-yo and I had ridden that morning, and just, yes I was feeling entirely warm and very mellow to get up and gear up for a race. Nevertheless we were going to do it!

We checked in, got our bib numbers, and waited and waited. We had an opportunity to watch the elites race and WOW…They are astoundingly fast. Phenomenal. To compare what I do and what they do is like watching a camel vs a gazelle. No comparison.

I registered for both the 3,000 and the 1,500m but only ended up running the 3k because they were running both back to back and my lungs were KILLING me. I couldn’t stop coughing! So, yes the best option was to leave gracefully on the 3k and go home haha. The 3k went okay–I went out way too fast. My fastest kilometre on record- 3:45! And then I immediately bombed it. My pace was too fast, my lungs couldn’t keep up and I rode the struggle bus allll the way to the finish line, finishing with a really bad 4:21- which is a km that I would normally finish a 10k at. HA!

BUT since I was the only young woman racing in this race- I race in the slow people category because I sure am no elite! I still won first place and received a medal and some lovely flowers, that I am extremely allergic to and had to keep them outside on my patio.

I’m glad I went, but I wish I had run a little bit smarter. Each race teaches me a bit more about myself and about racing. Last race I learned not to try to pass on a corner, and this race I learned – again- not to go out too fast in the first KM, no matter how tempting it feels and how good you think you are!

Also because I only ran one race, my lungs were rotten all night and I was coughing like I had serious emphysema, but then the next day they were recovered way faster than my first track race–success!

Go us! 🙂

Weekend recap: Running my legs off~ (But Mr. Oats gets off easy)

Oats only had 1 ride this weekend, as my poor knees just couldn’t take it on Sunday. Saturday, we had a crazy windstorm, complete with rain. Oats is quite well behaved during wind, but he did have one big spook- a chair blew over and a door blew open, just as we were riding by! I couldn’t really blame the guy.

We worked on some flatwork, and then trotted through a line of poles (that definitely weren’t set for him, oops haha, but he is a little fairy pony with clever feet, so he didn’t have a problem with them!).

After lunch Saturday, my husband and I ran approximately 19km (not entirely sure how long it ended up being, because we parked further out from the 1km start and ran from there!). It kind of sucked out loud. My legs started aching immediately. You know that feeling, when you’re not ‘feeling it?’ Yeah, that.

So, I kind of spent like 19km complaining heartily that my legs hurt. I even broke it down:

  • 6km. Seriously? Only six? Whaa?
  • 7km. Maybe we should turn back here.
  • 8km. Or here. HOW did it take like 50 minutes to get here?
  • 9km. I guess we’re doing it.
  • On the way back: my right leg hurts more than my left leg. Why is that? My left knee is my bad knee?
  • Oh, there it goes. My left knee is in on the action too.
  • Everything hurts. How is the wind changing direction to blast in our face this way too?
  • My left calf is threatening to cramp up.
  • My ankle hurts now too.
  • Annnddd done!

So yeah.

We got a beer after, and it was more like a grim beer, not a ‘celebratory’ beer. 19km feels like more of a kick in the teeth than 15km, that’s for darn sure! My husband even got some real under-arm chafing going on. Yes, this is serious business guys.

So, Oats got a brief longe outdoors on Sunday while I gingerly hobbled around in the rain. He was less than impressed. ”You want me to go where? It’s raining. I’ll get wet!”

He did get some peppermints I had bought, to see if he might like them as a treat! He does, so good. Oats now has an official treat that isn’t candy canes.

And takes me to this week: My knees!!!!! Ahhhhhghhh…..I am taking it easy this week- no stairs, no elliptical, no sprint work and maybe taking Wed off from the barn too. Yeah, easy means easy (which I actually have a really hard time sticking to!!).