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).

 

Do you like pain?

Oh man this weekend! So many things, ups, downs, just everything all at once.

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I’m also going to miss these sweet jumps…Goodbye! 

Friday I had every intention of going riding…BUT my parents were moving out of the city and I was invited to their going away dinner at a really nice restaurant. So I did that instead, still planning on riding after//yeah so that definitely did not happen.

We had a lovely dinner, I went back to my parents rental to take some stuff from them that they couldn’t bring, and it was MONSOON raining. Like, tornado winds with just hammering rain. Yikes. So it was like 8:30 pm, and torrential rains. Nope, not going to ride. It was a very bittersweet parting. Like…I wish things had been different, you know? But they aren’t.

Made it home and it was pretty rough, yeesh. I also found out that a friend was leaving the barn, and I just felt really bummed about that. I felt like people are all leaving me, that I’m being abandoned, and all alone. It was not a great feeling, even if it’s not necessarily true, it’s just how I ‘feel’ it right now. SIgh…  I was glad my husband was back in town. That way I didn’t feel so sad and lonely.

Saturday we woke up to find a ton of places had flooded. The indoor arena has been flooded for months, and Saturday was like half the arena. The rains were no joke. It was also crazy windy alllll day…Gusting, slamming wind. The horses were all totally psychotic at the barn, except for my dear Oats of course! The vibe was super negative and tense though, my shoulders were up near my ears the whole ride! Thank GOD Oats is so trusty. He takes care of me. My other friend said she was going to leave the barn too, and I just felt really sad and that ‘everyone is leaving me’ feeling just took over.

I came home and just could NOT with the day. I felt anxious, restless, tense, and just…I needed something to work through my emotions. I went on a long run, and I wanted something to trigger my emotions for me, so I could ‘feel’ them… And it did! Funny enough it was a security guard yelling at me, so whatever- it worked! 🙂

The rest of the evening was uneventful (thank god), even though I almost fainted in the shower (damn you vasovagal syncope and my love of hot showers!) and we even made pizza! And my other friend decided to stay put for now. Phew!

Sunday I had an equestrian biomechanics course put on by the chiropractor that sees Oats! I learned a lot and I found the breathing exercises particularly challenging, ha. I then hopped out to the barn to ride 🙂 Oats was great. I love my boy.

We will see what new challenges this week faces us with.

 

Cobble Hill 10k Race Recap!

So this is exciting- we had a new start/finish line this year! Previously we had to jog about 700m to the start/finish, from the staging area. Not a big deal but also kind of a pain in the ass, haha.

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Heading to the finish! Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

Apparently this would also make the course flatter/faster?! Would it?? Time would tell for me 🙂

I was fresh off of feeling super irritated about my efforts at the Harriers 8k. It just…sucked. I did get proactive about it, and sought treatment for my asthma (now I am the proud owner of two inhalers- 1 rescue inhaler to use before/after racing, and 1 daily inhaler for maintenance), plus this race I made sure to take an extra half dose of my daily allergy medication just in case (wow, I sound super high maintenance these days…). So I was all set!

I also did not have great expectations. Lately my legs have felt super flat, dead, achy left knee, bad lungs/breathing…Yeah, you got the idea.

I was talking with my friend’s husband about the Harriers race and he too had a tough race- though he is VERY fast. So, it wasn’t just me riding the struggle-bus. That made me feel slightly better.

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A few of the winners- I am the shortest by a head, again. HAh!

The morning of the 10k dawned nice and warm, and what’s that? SUn? It was crazy warm for us! I was regretting wearing my long-sleeved run shirt. Now, I never regret dressing warmly, ha. It was just a gorgeous weekend! We warmed up, I took my inhaler, and we were off to the start! It was a very congested start- only half the road, so everyone was crammed to the left. I left 5 seconds on the table with that start, yikes.

We were off, and I was kind of struggling. It felt hard, definitely not easy, my legs felt tired immediately and heavy, and my breathing- despite my multiple efforts- wanted to seize. But you know what? I felt like, oh ok well this is how it is going to be then…A repeat of the 8k…And I just grimly kept running.

And it kept kind of sucking, up until about 5k. Something just CLICKED! In my body!

I felt solidified, I felt energized, I was doing it, by god!!  I gathered together my energy, and I started really running, and I mean it. I was actively racing! I honestly haven’t felt that kind of ‘try’ in my body for over a year. It was really exciting 🙂

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This photo is courtesy of Lois D’Ell. 

And I ran, and I ran. I was finally doing it!

I was running a race, rather than being run off my feet by it. I quite literally found my stride. It felt so good, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I felt to be running a race that I felt like I could actually run, rather than struggling or suffering.

I wrapped up and my time was fine- I got the same time last year and was mad, but this year, I have been trying to manage so many other health issues that to be quite honest, it made me happy! Am I back?? Maybe too soon to tell, but I felt good about it.

Chip time was 43:32, gate time was 43:37, good for 5th in my AG and 14th woman. YEah!!  A lovely day with some AMAZING food- pretzels from True Grain!!

Prairie Inn Harriers 8k Race Recap: When the problem is you

Yeah it sounds like a grim title, and it isn’t really that terrible BUT I raced on Sunday (ha before the snow really started flying!) and I wasn’t pleased with my body, my results. The race itself was fine, the volunteers are excellent and I even had pizza and cupcakes after! YEah! But during the race, I had a hell of a time trying to breathe. It felt like someone was squeezing my lungs. My throat was on fire from straining to suck in air. I was red-lining the entire race, at a pace that shouldn’t be a problem or issue for me. It was also quite windy, and we faced a real headwind and cold blowing air for a bit of the race. Fun times!

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I got passed by everybody at the finish. Wow that was humbling! 

I was just totally fried. And after the race, my damaged lungs were like, filling with fluid or something? I coughed and coughed and coughed all afternoon/night, horrible racking sounds with a deep chest rattle. I honest to god sounded like a 90 year old person with COPD or something. It was extremely unsettling and really alarmed me. In a moment of desperation I dug out my old inhaler and used it, and was finally able to breathe normally before bed.

Now, this struggle with asthmatic breathing isn’t new to me- in 2016, almost all of my races were shitty and I had some really scary incidents where I thought I was going to pass out because I couldn’t breathe- at all. Finish lines, etc. When I was running the track series, I would cough ALL night.

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I’m a fairly experienced long-distance runner with lungs that are apparently ‘superhuman’ when they were tested two years ago, so really WTF is going on? I had my lung capacity tested, stress-tested (off the charts..), and heart checked with an echocardiogram. All perfect. I ended up getting an inhaler, and regular allergy meds (I have a terrible, year-round allergic cough), and also iron pills for my extremely low iron. That seemed to fix it?

Even now, my throat feels scorched from the efforts on Sunday- and it’s Wednesday. And I still have a sort of cough.

The race was very disappointing, primarily because it felt like my body betrayed me. I tried as hard as I could, and I felt like death, for a minute slower than last year. Ironically, I ran that race with a nasty chest cold, and when I finished I coughed so hard I pulled a muscle in my ribs. ??????

It’s annoying to try so hard and get nowhere. I feel like I am going back in time, to 2016. People tell me that I need to be kinder to myself, to my body. I feel like I can’t sometimes- I want to push, to punish, to try harder, force myself, challenge myself, make myself do it.

That’s not the answer, but it has been my answer- and it worked in the past. Races are really all relative though, so who knows?! Athletic performance is always a bit of a crapshoot, haha.

So my next steps? Get a new, not two-year-old expired inhaler. And then we will see!

We all want the same things: Comox Half-Marathon Race Recap!

Alternate title: (nothing hurts like a bruised ego part #2 and a visit to physical therapy the day after a race).

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Second in my age-group, and I picked up my missing Cedar 12k gold medal too. Ian won a sweet door prize- a growler & fill from Forbidden Brewing Co.!!

So yeah I am in a world of hurt today, AND also my race on Sunday up Island in Comox was…Less than glorious, haha. I wasn’t super optimistic about it, given high stress levels for the past few weeks, absolutely heinous allergies (ongoing), and just feeling kind of beat-down. Nothing glaring, just not feeling super optimal. And I was kind of right, haha.

It was very much a sub-optimal race. I remembered last year and was thrilled with my time then- it felt GREAT!!! And I was rocking it!! I tried to keep that in mind and things just sort of started…Falling apart. It was weirdly warm- much warmer than I thought it was going to be. I immediately started sweating heavily and thought, ‘oh great I’m hot already…’ Unusual for this time of year and I was wearing shorts even- that NEVER happens!

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri, featuring the gentleman that matched me and kept my pace honest at least! 🙂

The first few KM’s I ran fast, but not ‘super’ fast…I recalled the ongoing rolling hills to the turnaround at 10-11km, but what I didn’t remember was the entire way up from like 4-9 is also rolling hills, so I kind of went up and up and up! Hm.

My pace started kind of sucking and I thought well, that’s ok. If I can hang on now, I can make it up on the back end (newflash- I couldn’t).

Went around the turnaround and thought ok here it goes!!! Big burst of speed!! Ahahahaha nope. In my mind I was running fast, in reality, I wasn’t even making up what I had lost. It was kind of demoralizing. I felt hot and kind of nauseous the entire way back. My stomach was churning- not terribly but I just felt strange and not dialed in. We ran to about 16-17KM and the wheels started falling off for me. I felt lightheaded and my legs felt so tired, so heavy. No matter what I was doing, I couldn’t go fast?! I grabbed some E-lite drink and choked on it for a good few minutes. Shoot!

I was running neck and neck with another guy and he even waited when I was choking, to see if I was all right. Hahah nice eh? We were both pretty deep into the pain train…

At 18km I thought yes here ‘s the big push! Andd….flat legs. Each Km was about 5:00/km, which was far slower than I wanted or expected (here’s the ego part again). It clearly wasn’t happening for me yesterday. I tried as hard as I could, and I didn’t have it. I was gasping for breath, and just couldn’t do it.

We finished at 1:36:28, which was far slower than last year but again, I think many of us had the same race and were riding the struggle bus too. I placed 2nd in my age group (which is funny because I was 5th last year with a better time!). And my stomach was just miserable after, took me awhile to settle long enough to enjoy the fantastic chili and snacks that they had on offer. I still think Comox has the BEST after-race spread, hands-down. 😉

Many thanks to the fine volunteers, cheering squads and food servers- they really make this race something special! Even with all my whining and moaning, it was a gorgeous and warm day, and nice to be outside. Today hurts though, and to add the pain I had a great idea to get some active release done on my hip injury and glutes…Woww. Let’s just say I’m glad THAT is over. Yeesh.

 

 

Burn me: Race Recap Pioneers 8k!

To be completely honest, I did not have great expectations

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At the start. Photo courtesy of Ceevacs Lois D’Ell. 

leading up to this race. I felt exhausted, beat down from near-constant coughing at night and in the morning. *It was truly horrendous just ask my husband, yuuuck.

Anyways, I was tired, feeling wimpy, coughing my lungs out and just…tempered my goals for this race. I couldn’t really even remember what my time was last year, just that I remembered it being a pretty decent time on the new course, during heinous rain and freezing temps.

Well, I am happy to say after a weekend spent coughing my lungs out and basically sitting on the couch/alternating with taking my dog out on walks, I was ready to race! The weather was GORGEOUS!! Oh man, polar opposite of last year in every way. Sunny, warm, no wind, not rainy, just amazing. I was so happy with that, I kind of figured ehhh we’ll see how this race goes.

My cough had somewhat subsided a bit to a low irritating hack every so often sooooo success?!! I trawled my way to the start and waited with my husband in the squish of other runners. It was pretty crowded, a bigger race attended by quite a few local elites and Olympians. We were off, and I zipped off. I definitely got lulled a bit by the pace- because there are so many fast runners, I didn’t realize how fast I really was going- everyone was sticking super tight. In other races, I tend to lose runners/get passed/some give and take. In this one? Boxed in for close to the entire race, at a pace that I am definitely ‘not comfortable’ at.

My first KM was ridiculous, and I misread my watch (I thought it said something like 4:56, instead it was 3:56..yikes). So I thought ok either way I’ll hammer through (people were sticking to me like glue by this point so I figured it wasn’t that fast). My next was something like 4:16? Ok ok…I see where this is going. Fast.

I lost a lot of impulsion (ha using horse terms here) on a very slight rise going up to 4k and the turnaround, leading to a 4:24 or so. The turnaround came up and I felt pretty darn good!!

And then hit a very gentle hill and lost all of it again, ha. 4:32 for that one. Ahhh well.

I held it pretty strong until like 6km..and then I felt like I was dying. I couldn’t believe how rough those last 2kms felt, oh man. My cough was dormant, but I had this sneaking feeling that if I breathed too deeply or started coughing, I would not be able to stop. As it turns out, I was right about this!

I hung on by my freaking fingernails, knowing my pace in the early parts of the race were indeed too fast and boy was I paying for it! I got passed- a lot. My finish was weak, and as soon as I stopped I couldn’t catch my breath and felt like I was going to puke. Instead, I started coughing horribly and couldn’t stop for oh, and hour or so. Lovely.

We had some awesome pizza and chocolate milk as our after-race snack (thank you for hosting, Prairie Inn Harriers!) and I was coughing my lungs out the entire time. God. As it turns out, I pulled an intercostal muscle in my ribs from the coughing and am now in a fair amount of pain when I cough, sleep, move too much, ughhhhh.

I just hope my next few races aren’t this rough, jesus! I haven’t had a smooth race in quite a while, haha. Injury, illness and now a mild injury part #2. Shit!!

Oh well, that’s life I guess. I was happy with my time though! 🙂

Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t we?

Still feeling a tad put-out and grouchy about other situations, but I didn’t have time to linger/dwell on that too much as I had a TRACK RACE last night to focus on!! The series we do is called the Christie-Phoenix Victoria Run Series and they offer four track races for elites and community-level ‘all comers’ for me, the slow poke!

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Battling the wind! 3,000m and 800m last night.

That’s right, back on track!

It was insanely windy, so much so that when I stepped out of my office building a gust of wind blew my sunglasses off my face and my earbuds out of my ears. WTF? It was horrible. I called my husband to pick me up, because I didn’t want to be literally fighting my way home for 40++ minutes (gag) getting blown around.

So yeah, the track meet…

Was insanely windy. It was ok on the long side, but coming up to the finish line and around the corner from the finish was so bad, it felt like I was running in slo-mo. The wind threatened to blow my hat off, etc.

My times sucked! I ran the 800m and the 3,000m (was planning on doing the 1,500m but showed up too late and came as they were running it! Whoops!) and my 3,000m was over a minute slower that what I ran last year, hahahaha.

I enjoyed running the 800m as much as one can enjoy a good lung-bursting run, and in the 3,000m was dismayed to see my times stalling and dropping. Apparently, me, a girl who has run a descent 10k in the 4:30s now cannot even sustain that for 3k? WHAT IS GOING ON?

Anyways, my decent into pure mediocrity continues (yes, I know that thing about feeling sorry oneself, hahaha) but I enjoyed my track efforts last night, and I am looking forward to challenging the track again next week! The only thing I can really do without is the incessant and really heinous sounding coughing I get after racing. I cough and cough this awful chest-rattling cough alllllll night after running.

And it’s confirmed that I do not have asthma, so what gives?