Hatley Castle 8k- Race Recap!

This past Sunday was the Hatley Castle 8k- a fun and challenging race in the VIRA Island Race Series. Notable for a very hilly course, scenic views, and tasty hotdogs for the participants!



It was also freezing. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground, and the gravel was slick and icy. A windstorm was currently raging in Victoria, luckily we only got hit with it at Royal Roads when we ran along the water at the start. Anyways, it felt pretty lousy.

I didn’t have very high hopes for the race- not that this was bumming me out, but that I’m focusing more on building more Km’s into my week and not taking a lot of time off during the week= deader legs. I know this going in, so I am not using these races for goal races, I’m realistic about what I can accomplish.

But…I’m also improving. I am getting faster, even with not-so-fresh legs supporting me.

Logistics were pretty smooth, lots of parking, hit the port-a-potties early so no lineups, and I felt pretty chill (haha, I was frozen). We warmed up, I stupidly kept my fleece on for the race b/c I was frozen, and when we hit the start line, I fumbled trying to zip it up. I couldn’t! We were going too fast. I also hit my watch ‘START’ and it didn’t. So my recipe for success:

  1. Run with your jacket flapping like Superwoman. Yeah that’s not annoying at all!
  2. Watch doesn’t start. Notice 1km in.
  3. It is so cold my exercise asthma was kind of flaring but not badly so.
  4. ….
  5. Success?

We ran up the first hill, I was getting passed like crazy but I had a feeling like- nah, I can do this. I will wait. I will bide my time and then I will go.

To be honest this ‘zen’ mindset is more to keep me from freaking out and trying to run faster when I am getting passed early. That’s a quick way for me to ruin a race. I have to run MY race.

So I hung on, lost a bit of speed and enthusiasm up the longer hill and we hit the flatter gravel section. Now it’s flat but also gravel….slippy. The guy running ahead of me slid pretty dramatically around the turnaround but he didn’t fall! Came damn close though.

I plugged along, not running great but kind of looking forward to the forested trail section. We ran for awhile on the gravel and then turned into the woods. Yes! My time to shine! (sort of). I was able to tackle the hills well here, played leapfrog with another woman runner up to the top of the hill. By then, I was able to pass her and stay past. I had been getting passed by her consistently up until then. Sweet!!

Then the loooong downhill. Ouch my hamstrings.

Flat section, some more gravel, and a slight downill again. Use it! Free speed.

And…the long leadup to the finish. I didn’t really sprint (ha, yeah like I could) and my hamstring was feeling really cranky…

But I am happy with my time: 36:39 and good enough for 1st in my AG women’s 30-34. First time ever!

(also for context: This time last year would have netted me 6th place. Ha).

Thanks again for the volunteers, race directors and VIRA for putting on a well-run, smoothly executed race despite some weather challenges!


Family Day long weekend: Doing ALL the things!

We had a long-anticipated long (ha) weekend and boy, did we cram it full of things to do!


The day was PHENOMENAL! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

I even got up early-ish both Sat/Sun to be able to get stuff done. So what did we enjoy this weekend?


  • Got up, had a great breakfast (pancakes!) courtesy of my husband, and then up and off to ride Oats. Great ride, someone left a bunch of jumps up to a reasonable height (small verticals) so we schooled those.
  • Trimmed up his mane and then rushed home, to run my long run. It took forever.
  • Got home, took Gidget for a walk, showered and rushed downtown to do a happy hour crawl with husband. It was GREAT!
  • We started at Table 21 for $5 prosecco, (their food isn’t really great, and not a good deal), and then went to Perro Negro for their awesome $6 charcuterie platter and $4 glasses of wine, and then to Famous Original pizza for their fantastic pizza deal- can of PBR and a slice for $6. We got another slice each after that!!


  • Get up early for my riding lesson with Karen Brain. It was tough to get up that early, but my friend was at the barn and brought me coffee!! Sweet!
  • The lesson was awesome- I was really happy with Oats’ efforts, and minimal drama from him too. A focused and good lesson.
  • Got dressed at the barn and ran hills on my way home. PHew. My legs were fried!
  • Got home, and collected husband and Gidget and we went to check out Oak Bay for a change of pace. Grabbed some candy, bought raspberry hot chocolate and cruised around. We saw three otters swimming in a pack! So cute.
  • Husband made a great shepherd’s pie for dinner. Yumm.


  • No early mornings here! Waffles thanks to my husband, and we packed lunch to go hiking up Mt. Wells, near Goldstream.
  • It was a good trail- I am not a skilled hiker, so I find it tough but it was quite fair. Lots of steep climbs though and great views to round out the experience. Gidget loved it! The weather was soooooo good. Cold, but sunny and so bright 🙂
  • Ate sandwiches on our way to the barn after the hike, and a quiki ride on Oats. Some minor lateral work.
  • Home, and the climbing gym for husband, and the couch and Baileys for me 🙂 Chores to round out the evening and some TV.

I LOVE long weekends!!


Race report: VIRA Cedar 12k (er…11.9k)

This was an exciting race because at the last minute the course had to change! A car hit a hydro pole, so crews were out at work on-course the morning of the race. The host club- Bastion Run Club- had to work fast to re-route the course and save the race!


From the start line- photo by Lois D’Ell/Ceevacs Roadrunners.

They did a fabulous job. The re-route was slightly short- my Garmin read about 100m short, so not certified. BUT it was a lovely route, along some farms, quiet road and very scenic. Slight rolling hills but nothing compared with the prior BIG hill the Cedar 12k usually features, so times were indeed faster this year (well also it was short).

I wasn’t interested in racing this one balls-to-the-wall because I wanted to run during the week and save my race efforts for some other races – and quite frankly I am still riding the high of reaching my 10k goal at Cobble Hill, natch!

So, my husband ran with me (he was also not racing hard for this one) and we worked on some pace strategies. I want to try to see if I can maintain a 4:30/km in a race scenario longer than a 10k. Could I this past Sunday? Not quite! I was at 4:32/km which is close and I was pretty happy with that. It felt hard, and my legs were tired, but it wasn’t an insane gasping-for-breath pace that a tough race effort would be.


At the turnaround: Photo courtesy of Ross Palfrey.

My next goal is to try and take that pace longer- for a 15k. Can I do it? Maybe? Not sure!

The volunteers kept us safe on the new course, the scenery and weather were FANTASTIC and a great day was had by all!

I finished the race with a fairly respectable 54:24, which was amazingly good for 2nd place in my AG. This is the best I have ever placed in my AG! It was a softer field for sure, less entrants. I felt pretty gleeful about that, whoop!

We had some great snacks afterwards, the awards went pretty fast and we had time for a beer at Chemainus’ Riot Brewery-score!!! 🙂

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.


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?


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.


An important part of racing is rest.


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!

And just like that…It’s over. Cedar 12K Race Recap & VIRA Series Finale!

Wow. Six weeks. Six races in a row. It’s done and wrapped up as of yesterday.


Photo by Lois D’Ell with Ceevacs. The awards line-up at Cedar 12k.


This season has been extremely challenging- I struggled with breathing very early on, experiencing exercise induced asthma, and then got a mystery foot injury that made running very difficult at the Cobble Hill 10k. And then, a series of colds that culminated a pretty nasty chest cold last week/this weekend to top off the season! Not my most shining season, 2017, at all. This sickness affected a whole bunch of races- the Sooke 10k, my half marathon, the Port Alberni 10k, the Cedar 12k (I was feeling fine for the MEC trail 10k but it wasn’t a fast one for me).


Photo credit to Neil Gaudet.

However, at the outset my goal was clear- finish. FINISH. ALL of my races. And did I achieve that goal? You bet I did!!


Basically sums up how I feel about finishing 6 races in 6 weeks. Photo credit to Neil Gaudet.

I even placed the same as last year (5th) for the VIRA Series year-end awards. Whoop!

The Cedar race for me this year was significantly slower (58:3?) compared with 56:14 last year. Ouch!!! But, my primary goal was to try and finish it without coughing out my lungs/collapsing, so did I achieve my goal? Yes I did! We tried to pace very responsibly, and even with a pretty quiet pace, I found it quite hard. My legs were aching and exhausted, but luckily my breath kept going and I did it. I even found enough energy to surge forward in a few moments, something I thought would NOT be happening. And, I was pleased to pull out a strong finish, assisted by my husband. A great end to a very tough season.


Muddy shoes after the MEC 10k.

The food was great, I won a doorprize>!! And the volunteers were fantastic. Cedar 12k is a really well run race, so I would highly recommend it.

Though it’s easy to look back to last year and feel bummed out. It is VERY humbling and kind of anger-inducing to think of what a freaking trainwreck this run season has been for me, particularly after I was looking forward to it all summer/fall, but you know…I am uninjured, relatively healthy after being sick for so long, and that’s all I can take right now.


Big wrap up for the season at Riot Brewery in Chemainus.

Turns out living with extreme pressure and stress just destroy your capabilities to recover, run well, manage your health and wellness and sleep–and I learned exactly how important that was this year. Live and learn!


Enjoying a beer at Gladstone Brewery in Comox after the half marathon.

I must thank my great husband for supporting my runs, coming with me, and best of all- taking me to try new breweries after many of our races! We went to the Sooke Oceanside Brewery, the Riot Brewing Company, and Twin Cities Brewery- all brand-new! How lucky were we??


Ian at Riot Brewery post-race Cedar 12k.

We also visited Category 12, which he really enjoys. I like beer- I don’t love it, but I do love the social aspect with it (much like wine…).

Here’s to a good season that challenged me in ways I never though possible. I am looking forward to a break, and I thank the VIRA organization for putting on another great, competitive season that I always recommend to other people! YAY.

VIRA race: Sook River 10k recap!

This was a very oddly timed race, chiefly because in past years (this is my third year with the series) it was run as the last race in the series & the series awards was hosted after it. In late April, so it was always quite warm and downright hot sometimes! I have very fond memories of wearing shorts and tank tops to  run in.


For example, this was Sooke last year.

This year, it was moved originally to early Feb., and the race awards series was moved to Cedar 12k in later April. That didn’t work out so well, as our weather this year has been absolutely nightmarish and it snowed too much! The race was rescheduled to March 12th instead and I am happy to say, went off without a hitch!


Splashdown! They sure weren’t kidding! Photo credit to Run Vancouver Island.

Sooke River 10k is a funny race. Lots of hills, ups and downs, and this year it featured a ‘water obstacle’ of a 14ft ankle-deep flooded section of the road. So yeah it always is an exciting race. The organizers did check the water carefully and warned us to bring extra dry socks and shoes, they weren’t kidding about it and it really was that deep, that big and we had go to through it TWICE! ha.

Splashdown! They were not kidding about the puddle!

This photo was taken by Run Vancouver Island.

I wasn’t feeling well last week, with a sore throat and swollen neck, so I wasn’t overly surprised when I woke up on Saturday AM with a head cold. Lovely.

That meant that I was going to have to be extra-good about sticking with my goal for this 10k- run conservatively, don’t blast off the start, and run paces you can focus and breathe at. Since my head felt like it was stuffed with wool, a sore throat and pressure building in my ears & sinuses, this was going to be tough but if I stuck to the plan, doable.

And it was~ It felt weird at first to be going that slow at the start. And then it got tough. And then we splashed through the puddle at the turnaround and my feet (soaked) started to feel like blocks of concrete…

Not gonna lie, I kind of dragged ass the last 5k. My feet were doubly soaked and I felt tired. However, my pace was fine (if conservative) and it allowed me to maintain quite well throughout the course.

I sprinted sort of to the finish, and that was honestly the worst go of it I had. I went through the finish gates and immediately had trouble breathing, gasping and struggling. I did take my rescue inhaler before the race, but my lungs were doubly compromised by my head cold and WOW that did a real number on them with my ‘sprint’. Bad idea- I couldn’t breathe, it felt like my lungs were clutched in a tight fist.

I walked a bit, gasping, and then it released.

It made me SO glad our 5k (which went really well) was last weekend. There is  no way I could, or even should, be sprinting when my lungs are compromised this badly.

It was an important lesson for me, and I got to feel what a real, if very brief, asthma attack feels like. Scary!

Anyways, post-run pancakes were great! And I bought a bunch of stuff, haha. The Victoria Marathon Society is now hosting the race, and for a fundraiser they were selling New Balance gear- technical t-shirts, 3/4 zip-ups, for a FANTASTIC price. I bought everything they had in XS, they had very limited selection but it was so cheap! A long-sleeved technical t-shirt for $10, and a 3/4 zip up for $20. Steal of a deal!!


Me in the awards lineup with my New Balance 3/4 zip. I love it! Photo credit to Ceevacs Roadrunners.

And my finish place for the race? Not bad! There were a lot fewer race entrants this year, so my time of 47:22 netted me 5th out of 16. That is my slowest time ever  on this course, but hey I will chalk it up to training, and my health being impacted. Plus I have to save my energy for next weekend.