VIRA Comox Valley Half Marathon: Race redemption?

We had our first half marathon in over two years on Sunday and WOW I was ready to go!! It was up island, so quite a few hours drive away for us, but luckily our in-laws moved to that region so we could go up Saturday and stay overnight. That was particularly nice due to the time change (spring forward…) and I still feel tired and am not sleeping. Love that…

And they’re off! Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

But yes, the race. I like saying I have unfinished business with the half marathon. With any distance right now actually, as I enjoy a burst of newfound speed. (Seriously, who am I????). I was a touch apprehensive going into the race as I did feel a bit undertrained, two 8ks aren’t really cutting it and I wasn’t able to get up to the distance/mileage I might have wanted but hey, them’s the breaks eh?

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camillieri.

I was a bit worried that it would be pissing down rain on race day but we got lucky- just gray skies! Yay!

It was chilly but not freezing, ideal weather some would say for a race. I wore shorts and a long sleeved shirt, and felt warm enough to unzip it about halfway through. We warmed up fine, and I ended up chatting with a run guy I know, who also does race announcing- it was nice to see him again ๐Ÿ™‚

Off we went, and they actually had pace ‘groups’ for 1:30, 1:45 and 2:00 so you could align yourself with your ‘corral’ and I lined up with 1:30 feeling VERY ambitious. We started and I ran with the 1:30 group- kind of unofficially- for as long as I could hang. Turns out I could hang for about 8-9km and then not at all, lol.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

I felt quite comfortable but was very aware that I hadn’t had much time on my feet lately and not raced this far and at 10-11km, it SHOWED. Woof. I immediately felt worse and while I wasn’t struggling, it wasn’t as smooth and easy feeling as up to 9km had been. Goodbye, pace group!

I ran alone for awhile, which was ok. Did some creative math that always equaled out to me finishing a shorter distance instead of the full one, that was boiling my brains a bit. I didn’t even get water? I just felt like if I did, I’d never be able to regroup my legs. My left hip felt pretty miserable, I guess from the road cambering. I felt like I handled the hills ok for my level of conditioning but I never really got better at pacing through them.

Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

But I was trucking along. The only real killer time was the loooong 2km stretch before the final turn to the last 1.5 kms. All a big lineup of trucks, diesel exhaust and just so blah. An uninspiring finale on what is a very picturesque course.

Yes!!! Under 1:30 ๐Ÿ™‚ Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

And then it was the finish! And I was running alone, just like Rocky hahah. I felt quite triumphant and not even like puking or anything?! Yes!!! My time was 1:29:23, good for 7th woman overall and 3rd in my age group. It is a small but fairly competitive field. Ian did amazingly as well- right behind me at 1:32:51. With no training?! HOW?? I just know I personally would just die instead, ha.

Enjoying a post-race beer at Gladstone Brewery.

The volunteers were excellent, and did a great job wrangling all of the recalcitrant runners. We had some chili after that was great, and I picked up my award. After, we had a beer outdoors at Gladstone Brewery. I was pooped!! It was chilly out but a pretty decent day all around.

No training at a 1:32. How?!!

Working Equitation Schooling Show at Wildwood Stables!

Wow now where to begin- we took the horses (mine, and my WE coach Shelly’s mare Heidi) up island this weekend to compete in a schooling show for Working Equitation, which was also a fundraiser for the Comox Valley Therapeutic Riding Society ๐Ÿ™‚ And it was a pretty intense weekend for 1 major reason- RAIN. Holy god, it was basically a monsoon for two days.

Oats was definitely a trooper and managed better about the rain than I thought, but me? Yeeesh, it was pretty rough haha. A good experience all around though, so I won’t discount that! I took Friday off and we loaded up the horses at 1pm, and headed up Island. It was so balmy out that we were wearing t-shirts, which was the last nice day we had, hah. We took the horses to the hosting stables, Wildwood out in Courtenay. It’s a great place with a coverall indoor and a really big outdoor. Too bad the outdoor was basically a swimming pool all weekend!

The horses settled in nicely and I had made 1 major mistake- I grabbed the wrong hay by accident and Oats HATES the barn hay. He gets really nice mega $$$$$$ hay and I …mixed it up and brought the wrong stuff. Shoot. He then kind of had me freak out this weekend wondering why he wasn’t eating much of the hay (ok he got hungry and had to eat) but not much and then was fussy about his grain (because I had his pills in it…) and I was worried! Plus I think he wasn’t drinking water- it is well water and he can be weird about drinking, because I saw him drink heavily from one of the huge puddles?! And he drank from it all day?! Sheesh, horses…Giving me heart attacks…

Anyways, drama aside, I also had bought Good as Gold calming paste, as he’s been a bit of a nut at shows lately. Getting it into his mouth turned into a big humongous fuss where he broke a crosstie off the wall and ran backwards into another horse. I finally wrestled him into his stall and managed to sort of finagle it into the corner of his mouth, but I think you can guess that this weekend I wasn’t Oats’ favourite person…

And in the morning (Saturday) I got out there super early to feed and wrestle with him/pick out his stall, and then I immediately went back to my in-laws because it was pitch black out and HAMMERING rain, allllll day lol. I cooled my heels for a bit enjoying the warmth of indoors and then went back to the show to warm Oats up. Newsflash: It didn’t stop raining, ugh.

He was hot to trot in the outdoor, pretty amped and was trotting around with his head on a swivel, charging around. I decided not to risk an explosion by cantering him like that, so I borrowed a longe line (I have one, but why do I never think to bring it?!!) from the barn owner and longed him first. He had zero explosions, just a few head tosses and then settled nicely. Phew, good to go!

I hopped on and he was ok, but tight throughout at the trot. His canter was better but yeah, he felt a bit stiff and resistant.

Finally our dressage test, it felt like forever to get there! I was completely soaked, hahah. Wet tack, gloves, helmet, boots, horse, argh. I wasn’t super thrilled with the test, he was still tight through his back and not coming through nicely. It’s a bummer, because we have SUCH NICE dressage lessons and they do not translate to horse shows, at all. Well, he did have a year off, so it’s a process to come back I guess??

Anyways, moderate griping aside, he was very compliant and well-behaved. He did have a look at the judge’s stand, but held it together nicely and gave me an honest, if not thrilling, ride. The judge (who I know pretty well) agreed and I got hammered hard on the scores, but with the understanding that she knew we could accomplish a nicer ride. I totally get that, and I think it was fair- we just need to get to a place where we see the work translate better at shows! ๐Ÿ™‚

And stay tuned, Sunday was the exciting stuff- Ease of Handling, and Speed Round. My faves!!! Ok, speed round is my absolute fave ๐Ÿ˜‰

Take me with you: Long weekend at the Kingfisher Spa~

That’s right, while I am currently dealing with a shit-ton of work (ARGH reality sucks), I am able to reminisce about the lovely long weekend I just enjoyed at the Kingfisher Spa in the North Island (Courtenay-Comox).

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Now, it’s pricey. Real pricey. So it was a splurge for my husband and I to go, and stay for 3 nights and treat ourselves to the hydropath session ($95/ea, so it’s not like we’re going to go often, or ever again, ha). But it was so neat!

The weatherย sucked out loud. It was cold, chilly, rainy grey and just so blahhhh. But, since we had our dog – Gidget the Terrible- with us, it was pretty convenient because then we didn’t have to worry about her overheating on us. So, sort of a win eh? We got up there in the evening on Friday after work, and enjoyed a beer at the new to us Mt. Arrowsmith Brewery, where we unfortunately sat next to the loudest, most wildly obnoxious people I have had the misfortune to be around in ages. I moved inside, and complained (yes I am THAT person, ha). Oh well!

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Gidget the Terrible

Food was good and the beer was great! The next day, we plotted out a longer-run route along the chlorine gas pipe that ran next to the river, and friends, let me tell you- BERRIES GALORE! OMg. I know why bears are hanging around ๐Ÿ™‚ It was good! We then went back to the resort, showered and picked up our dog to go cruise around downtown Comox. It was very quaint, some mega $$$ stores, and very, very busy. Crammed with folks. I enjoyed a very unique chocolate bar (coconut/lime) and we shared a buffalo-milk-yogurt & blueberry ice cream. So good!

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We went swimming in the evening and generally relaxed. Which was good, because the next morning we zipped off to Cumberland to get some of their famous doughnuts! And surprinsgly, since the last time I tried the doughnuts a few years ago, I wasn’t thrilled. They were pricey, ok tasting and no real selection. Overhyped and overprice.

We took our overhyped doughnuts with us to go hike at Mt. Washington’s Paradise Plateau. It was really nice, and lucky for us the fog wasn’t on the plateau, it was just covering the mountain. Phew! We had sandwiches, and hiked and fed whiskeyjacks. So cute! So bold…

Headed back to the spa because then it was time for our hydropath session! This was very cool and very relaxing. It had a little bit of everything- massage jets, salt scrub, mineral baths, jets, a sauna…Ah….

And for dinner we took a chance on the only restaurant nearby us that wasn’t the mega-pricey Kingfisher restaurant: Ol’ Roy’s Towne Pub. It was excellent actually! We listened to the open mic night, shared a pizza and a huge, and seriously bad-for-you salad. AND a espresso mud pie dessert. Glutton here…

On our way home on Monday, we stopped by Moringstar farm (they make cheese AND wine AND you could wander the farmyard, pet bunnies, pigs, cows, baby cows, oh soooo cute). We tried the wine, and bought some cheese to eat, and for a gift. Delicious! A very generous cheese sampling policy as well, which is a big thumbs-up from me ๐Ÿ™‚

And we stopped in Ladysmith so I could get a cinnamon bun from the bakery, featured yesterday in my blog. HUGE reasonable, delicious and so, so so mouthwatering: This is definitely NOT hyped enough, in my opinion!! Go and buy one. For $3.50 you can do a lot worse, and the muffins are only $2.50 and HUGE. YUm. I am still drooling…

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VIRA’s Comox Half-Marathon Race Recap!

Wow, where to begin? I was definitely gunning for a better time at this race. My previous half-marathon in the fall showed me I am capable of more (I ran a trail half at 1:40), which very much surprised me. I was coming out of my year-long racing funk and things were looking up!!

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Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

I haven’t traditionally had great times at the Comox Half-Marathon. Our first time running it, I was so new to the distance we raced it at over two hours! Crazy eh? (2:05 as I check back with Raceday Timing). It hurt, it was hard and I wasn’t sure about this longer distance at all.

But, things improved. Piece by piece. The year after, we ran it at 1:45, which was HUGE for me. Wow! But that’s when things started to plateau/actively get worse for me in my body. I struggled last year with my breathing. For some reason, my VO2 Max seemed to get a lot worse and I was frequently gasping for breath. It felt like someone was squeezing my chest. I couldn’t get enough air, and almost collapsed at a pretty horrible race, in what felt like the penultimate bad decision…

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Real close up to the finish- Photo byย Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

Anyways, so my times at Comox last year reflected this, somewhat. I raced at a 1:44, which to anyone looks like success eh? Well, numbers don’t show everything, do they. I wasn’t happy about it, but then my Halloween Half Marathon with MEC showed me that hey, I was getting over this bout of weirdness!! Yeah!

And now…how did this race go? The big one?

It went GREAT!! I started cautiously (relatively…It still feltย so fast to me) while I ran the first 9km between 4:30-4:45 at the worst end on the longer hill). People who I typically race around took off like a shot! I felt anxious about this. I couldn’t even see them anymore…Yikes.

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Very determined to the finish.ย Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

But, the half is a much longer race, so I had time. So I hung on, and carefully watched and ran conservatively. It was amusing, because in my ‘careful’ pacing I ran with several other runners who were maybe at their max earlier…And I could hear them plotting to catch up to and pass me. And they did! But…I kind of knew they weren’t going to be able to hang on to that and it was at like, 2km. Soooo yeah, slow down guys. It’s a long race ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I am a crafty person.

So I kind of laughed to myself and focused more on running a strategic race. It came to a head at 9-10.5km/the turnaround, when I was playing a bit of leapfrog with a runner who was starting to irritate me (well, and me to him probably). Iย knew I could outpace him, but I wanted to push him a bit, see where this was going. You can guess, he ran up, passed me, I dogged him a little…He clipped my heels when I managed to make another pass, I let him go ahead, and then dogged him…And then around the turn I blasted off!!

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Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

Goodbye! I wasn’t running at my maximum at all!

I did not see this runner again. But now it was my turn to really max out my race. It was also a very long downhill stretch (my right knee is NOT GOOD today because of this….yeesh). But I could use it, and I sure did! I clocked km’s at 4:17 and 4:12, which shocked the hell out of me. Wha? I can and am doing this?

I started catching up to the runners I usually race with. They had been so far ahead I hadn’t even seen them the whole race and here I was, coming up behind. It felt really good!

I rocked the ‘faster than usual for me’ pace up until oh, 17-18 km which is traditionally a real dead zone for this race. It’s flat, lots of cars (an open course) gravel, and just…soooooooooo long.

My pace faltered a bit, but you know what? I didn’t stress and fuss. I picked off another few runners coming up the last few KM’s, which again surprised me. Usually I am getting passed at this point.

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Ian and my ribbons. The couple than runs together ๐Ÿ˜‰

I was wishing I had grabbed another Gatorade drink at the 17km marker. It was really nice out, warm, sunny and I was getting hot and thirsty. Oh well! I came over the bridge, lost some momentum doing that, and then began the long run to the finish. I was so happy, people were calling to me ‘Go girl, get it!!’ ๐Ÿ™‚ YESSS!! I got it!

I finished smiling, with a 1:34:55 for my personal best in the half, good enough for 5th place in my age-group and 11th woman finisher. A great race, well-run with over 100 generous volunteers, good cheering sections and the best food around! I enjoyed the chili and cheese and bread very much.

Run recap in photos from Cedar 12k

I found a whole bunch more photos, courtesy of some runners at Cedar 12k. Annd…thought I’d do a wrap up of the photos, as a sort of reminisce from my crazy-insane season of 6 races in six weeks, culminating in 10 races for the season total. The distances ranged from 5k to a half marathon, trail to road, and BOY was it a challenge this year.

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Yeeahhh a solid 9th place finish for me. HA.

Right now, I’m on a race hiatus which feels pretty nice actually. (sort of a lie right now because I did inadvertently sign up for a trail 29k on the Sunshine Coast and then forgot I signed up for it, and found out we got in on Sunday…and it’s this weekend so I had to cancel.

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But I did finish in 5th place overall for the series!

The reality is Mexico+booze+holidays+sun+home renos+back to work+decompressing from the insane stress of months and months= no go for me. Sorry Marathon Shuffle, I will try next year! I bet it’s fun!

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Looking sharp

Our stairs and bedroom look great though, so the home reno thing is going nicely.

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Had to miss my Tuesday dressage lesson to pick up family from the ferries, so rescheduled that for next week but I still have my jump lesson tonight to look forward to!

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A fun bonus- this is from the Comox half marathon.

Oats on the other hand, has been enjoying his vacay from me a bit too much and came back into work on Sunday a tad grudgingly. Ha.

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At the turnaround. I have never had so many photos from one race!