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!

Riding blahs?

Actually not a bad thing- just a ‘meh’ thing! Rode this weekend, Fri- Oats was actually great. His spookiness from Wednesday was not a thing anymore, and we rode with my trainer. I whooped it up over two very small jumps and had a blast! I even shouted to my trainer- that was FUN! Why isn’t it like that all the time?!!


It was beachtime this weekend! And this is what I look like off a horse ūüôā

She shouted back that it’s because of the pressure I put on myself in lessons- that’s why. HA!

I did even try to grab back from Oats on the approach to the small x-rail and he completely disregarded me and kept going, like a saint. Phew!

Saturday, not quite so fun–we schooled the same small jumps and this time,¬†nailed it to the x-rail, and flubbed it to every other jump. Oats though, is back to his saintly-if-awkward jump style and saved my bacon by doing his chip-jump..every time. Harurumph!

We then schooled a bit of leg-yield and he was having NONE OF IT by the time we got to the right rein. Cue running backwards, temper tantrums, hissy fits, threatening to rear…yeahhh. It was hot, he was pissy, and I kind of had to give up on that. Sweat was running down my face from my helmet into my eyes!

Ahhh well. It was hot, he was tired. Chalk that up to a lesson learned.

Sunday, it was extremely hot. My upper lip was sweating just tacking up. Wow..We are not used to this hot weather on the West Coast. I rode Oats indoors and worked on finding our distance to a very tiny x-rail. We did well to the left, and then absolutely clobbered it- poles flying, etc- on the first attempt to the right. Whoops! I hopped off, and immediately felt like dying…So hot. I was covered in sweat, and felt dizzy.

Fixed the jump up, got back on, and walked. And walked. Finally, I worked back up to canter and we conquered our distance to the tiny x. Did it a few more times both directions, looping across the diagonal, and called it quits…So hot. I even made Oats carry me back up the hill, and he got a good hosing when we finished. PHewwww.

Beachtime after, of course!

All in all, a good weekend.


VIRA Hatley Castle 8k- Race Recap!

Yes I can’t believe we are already on race #4 of the VIRA series…time is flying by! I did not have high expectations for myself for this race, as last year it really took a lot out of me and I found it quite …rough.

See pic below from last year:


Last year it sucked!

This year, I was prepared though! I had done a lot more hill running, so I had a better idea of what to prepare for, and I’d already done it once before. Still, I didn’t really have a time goal other than ‘better than last year’. I was running alone, as my husband and friend weren’t running this year with me, but luckily my husband was there to take some photos- yesss!


This year: still a struggle

At the start, I was kind of mentally kicking myself- I was absolutely¬†frozen, I also seem to have some recurring stomach unpleasantness that I’m sure is related to the anxiety of racing as it seems to crop up often when I have a race, and I was just feeling…blah. I also think the beers the night before may not have been the best idea, but I guess you learn that the hard way.


I like this shot b/c it looks like I am actually running.

The start was quite jammed, and I didn’t get up as close as I should have. We flew past the start (it is a downhill start) and I was immediately stuck behind slower runners, almost clipping their heels, yikes! I did a lot of dodging and weaving for the first km and had to rush to make it up. I was slower than I wanted to get to the first hill, having placed myself incorrectly at the start (again!).

Once having broken out of the pack, I played a bit of leapfrog with a younger racer who I recognized from my MEC 10k race earlier this year (she beat me, and she beat me in this race too. arghhh) and an older gentleman who I passed and stayed past!

The hills didn’t feel tooooo bad, but what I seriously lacked was a good recovery past the hill push. I just didn’t have that ‘oomph’ past the hills…It’s like I got to the hills and was like, phew that’s over! Oh, wait…

There’s the whole rest of the race! Surprisingly the portion in the woods was nice- springy, I was getting good foot feedback from the soft ground. It was still uphill but not terrible. It was very dark though, almost hard to see. There was a coach lurking in the woods cheering us on- yay for this dude! It was awesome.


Dying at the finish part 1

The long downhills were soooo welcomed! I even managed to run them without too much fear–I guess doing those crazy GutBuster runs and MEC runs have made me much braver. I was getting tired though, and once the downhills ended and the flats began, I was so done.


Photo by Brian Domney and a great shot of me getting blasted past at the finish..haha.


Dying at the finish part 2

I kind of struggled to the finish, looking like I was going to puke.¬†Lovely. I got beat by a 12-year old I think? Kid had a crazy rally to the finish, better than mine that’s for darn sure!

The spread at the end of the day was SO good! Hotdogs, an apple fritter, and all the candies you could hopefully want! Yogurts too! Yum!!

12768319_10156608838320077_426109347543798686_o (1)

Photo by Brian Domney: Where I am literally a head shorter than the others. Looks pretty funny!

And how did I do? Well I sure can’t complain- a good for me 37:13 (net) and 37:19 (gun). YES! This was surprisingly well enough to net me 5th place in my AG. That is the best I have ever gotten, and I was shocked. Lucky me eh? Compare that with my first attempt last year at 39:00 and I am a happy camper.



Halloween in many parts: Part 2- MEC’s Grand Banana Half Marathon!

I know, I know, running (almost wrote ‘funning’ yeah it was anything but funny!) a half marathon the day after a Halloween party? Not my brightest move!

Warming up: all photos courtesy of MEC.

Warming up: all photos courtesy of MEC.

However, it is a move I am very familiar with, living a pretty normal and active life, so hey you roll with the punches and just see how the race goes! My goal was not lofty–I was hoping to complete the race with my knee intact, a large goal seeing that I haven’t run successfully around Elk Lake at all since my knee troubles started, and I was really¬†worried.

And they're off! All photos courtesy of MEC.

And they’re off! All photos courtesy of MEC.

But I was also hopeful, my base for running has been improving, so maybe I could get by? I am the first to admit my training has been quite shameful lately- I wasn’t feeling well (see my slow-motion cold, ugh!), had a horse show one weekend, and was at Mane Event and managed to wrangle 1 really boring one-hour run, and my regular sprint work on the treadmill twice a week. So, respecting the distance of a half marathon at 21.1 km, I was not feeling super prepared…

Add on to my fun festivities the night before and I was thinking, finish the race, maybe shoot for under 2 hours and see how it goes?

Beginning: So far, no rain. All photos courtesy of MEC.

Beginning: So far, no rain. All photos courtesy of MEC.

And how did it go?

Surprisingly well! I was very lucky to have my husband join me, and it was great to have company for that long of a race. It can be very hard to stay focused for that long, and he really brings me up when he helps me race!

That’s not to say it was easy. It wasn’t. It was kind of like torture, but the type of torture that keeps you coming back for more…The course had these silly little dog-legs (uphill!!!ARGH) to add more length on to the track, so the course was a hair over standard- 21.2 km instead of 21.1 km, but we are splitting hairs here…But yes, a few more upills, muddy, slippery conditions, dogs, so many dogs…I ended up dodging dogs more than I would have liked! And the best part? It was absolutely FREEZING. It didn’t start really raining hard until the second loop but man, that was enough.

Starting to get wet...All photos courtesy of MEC.

Starting to get wet…All photos courtesy of MEC.

But actually, I was feeling pretty good. Anytime I got too ‘slappy’ with my form and got worried about my knee, I focused very hard on the inner muscle of my knee and tried to really think hard about landing using that muscle, pushing off using that muscle, and trying to make it ‘work’ harder than my outside knee muscle.

Second loops: Things get ugly. All photos courtesy of MEC.

Second loops: Things get ugly. All photos courtesy of MEC.

And I think that type of body-awareness work really helped my form throughout the race.

I was happily able to keep running, my knee held together, even though I was tired, had picked up an unfortunate stomach bug that would keep me near the bathrooms for the rest of the day (gross!!!!) and was feeling quite underpowered and under fueled, but I was DOING IT!

A race to the finish! All photos courtesy of MEC.

A race to the finish! Ian is drenched! All photos courtesy of MEC.

So, pushing through the freezing wind and pouring rain, we ran to a fairly respectable 1:54:17, a 31-second time improvement off our last half marathon. I’d be lying if I didn’t want a faster time, but to be honest with myself, I didn’t put the work in and conditions for me personally weren’t optimal. Next time!

My 'thank god the finish!' face All photos courtesy of MEC.

My ‘thank god the finish!’ face All photos courtesy of MEC.

Many thanks to the fine MEC crew, who braved the absolutely terrible weather and had some really nice snacks, well-placed aid stations (I grabbed a Cliff shot blok and it was orange flavoured- yuck! But I desperately needed energy haha my mistake) and a great cheering section to keep us inspired.

And thank you to my friend, who was unable to run but was with us in spirit. Next time, when you’re recovered from your injury, we’ll do the race right!

Race recap- MEC Race #4- ‘The Best Getter’ 15k

Yep, better late than never?!

I signed up for this one in a flurry of signing up for races- this one and some random trail race happening next weekend.

A photo where it actually looks like I'm running. No recent pics, so you get this old one.

A photo where it actually looks like I’m running. No recent pics, so you get this old one.

Then I ran the Gutbuster, and then my knee got wonky again, and I started dreading my initial burst of enthusiasm…Why was I signing up for this race? What was my motivation? 15K is still a distance to be respected so what did I think I was messing around with?


So, the knee thing. I went back to the knee doctor and he said relapses are normal, and the biggest part of having the knee problem I have is that it is a complete mystery and people often have no problems, until they have a problem. The hard part is the near-constant worry and paranoia about my knee going sideways and me being unable to complete a run. It can take 5 years to resolve, or may never completely resolve.


But, to keep doing what I am doing- knee strength exercises, gait retraining, and do the race. See how it goes. The week before the race my knee was killing me. It felt horrible, shifty, sore, swollen under the kneecap, just really shitty. So, I took time off from doing everything, save riding Oats, to protect my knee and prepare for the race.

Turns out that time off really does a body good.

The day of the race the weather was super crummy. We showed up right on time (aka almost 9 minutes before the start eeek) and started the race. Right off the bat Ian set a fairly assertive pace, and to my surprise I was able to hold it – well for like 1km. Then we settled into a quieter pace and then ran that for close to the whole race! I was feeling actually awesome!

The trail portion of the run had me very concerned- the up/down stuff combined with uneven footing + 15k distance= knee disaster. BUT I got lucky! We held the pace well, and coming out of the two trail loops I still felt quite strong.

That good feeling started slipping when we did an out-and-back to Tillicum. Psychologically it was very difficult to think…”but why aren’t we going home yet” when it seemed like we were so close to the road to the finish.

But we stuck with it (which was great!) but then people started passing us (WTF?). Ah, racing…

I didn’t experience knee pain until the bridge, and then it immediately started feeling unstable. I was lucky to hold out that long, honestly, but I was very concerned with being able to finish with just 3km left! What a heartbreaker that would be!

I grimaced and I leaned on my right leg to compensate, and gritted out the last few kms. They were’t very good. I was trying to protect my knee just to finish, there was another small hill (???? why so close to the end!) and the finish line felt far away…

Then we were on the home stretch! We got passed here by a few people again- gah!

BUT we made our goal- under 1:15 with a time of 1:14:33!!! YEAH!!! That meant I was the 7th woman finisher out of 47, and we were 30-ish out of about 99 runners. Not a huge field but a very keen one.

I’m glad I did it. I may not have been at the time, but at points, I really felt like I knew what I was doing. Maybe there is something to this racing thing after all….

Except out of all the photos, no photos of us. BUMMER!!


Finding a distance: Riding updates with Mr. Oats

Finding a distance: Riding updates with Mr. Oats

Without further ado…Every ride I have on Oats is a good ride. I want to tell everyone that when they ask how my ride went! Yay!

Saturday- Rode during a lesson…Having trouble remembering what exactly we did. Oh, now I remember- raised canter poles on each diagonal. This was interesting for Oats, because it was set up to ask for flying lead changes. Oats was having none of that! He cantered through well, and knocked a lot of them flat. He did get one change though…

Sunday- Worked harder than I thought I was going to! Did some really nice canter work, and cantered over a crossrail a bunch of times. Thought my legs were going to fall off…

Tuesday- Watched a friend ride in her lesson, and she was having a bit of an off day. You know those days, when the ‘never stops’ horse is stopping with you? When you see a great distance…and seemingly forget to ask for it? Yeah, I’ve had those. It was tough, because she is a good rider, and things just weren’t clicking for the two of them.

Rode Oats a bit during, felt kind of blah…And then, when they finished, I asked my coach to drop the rails off a few of the fences so I could play around with them, and it was FUN! We trotted a few, cantered a few, and just had a good time. They thought Oats looked cute (yes, hacking with an audience…not always something I enjoy, but it’s nice to get feedback!!) and then we cantered over one of the haybales jumps that I had my coach leave up. We nailed it!!


So that’s the week so far with Mr. Oats! A friend braided his forelock and he looked ADORABLE. I will have to load that photo up.