VIRA Prairie Inn Harriers 8k Race Recap feat. NEW COURSE!

For the first time in oh, 38 years the 8k was at a new venue.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri. Also why do I look like I am going in slow motion? Jeesh.

I was kind of grouchy about this…I really liked the Saanich Fairgrounds venue, it had lots of parking, wasn’t too far to get to, and the start/finish line was – right- there. The new venue had some logistical nightmares as per me. It was just like…arghhhh.

First off, the weather was HORRENDOUS. Pounding rain, blasting wind. Like, the entire time.

Parking was also kind of a nightmare…Busy race with 500 registrants and not a lot of parking available.

The bathroom situation looked crazy but turned out fine.

The jog to the start line was far. Very far. You had to go up over an overpass, and go close to 1km from the clothing dropoff at the school to the start, in absolutely nightmarish weather. Lovely. This also meant that you had to jog 1km back from the finish, which was ok but mannn I was soaked.

I know a few people that showed up late to the race because they came to the school, only to realize that it was quite a hike to the start! Whoops! Luckily we clued in that there would be some hoofing it, so we were fine, albeit very cold and wet.

The start was kind of tough, very narrow road and we were all crammed in. I didn’t seed well (I am not fast enough to start too close to the start, but I am faster than where I ended up) and we were all sardine-like at the start…Very slow. I wasted some time/energy and my gun/chip time took a big hit due to it.

My loose goal was to try for my reg. 10k pace and see how it felt. I wasn’t feeling spectacular so I was kind of like ehhhh…I’m freezing, soaked and just want this to be done with! My goal was then 4:30 or what I could cling to.

My first KM was quite fast- like 4:12. I was like, oh ok..well, let’s see. I immediately plummeted to 4:26 and was like, hmm…Hope I can cling to this.

My next few KM’s bounced a bit between 4:30 on the money, and then slowed to 4:33, making me feel a tad concerned. The scenery on-route would be beautiful (all farms! Horse farms! One I even recognized!) if it weren’t so god-awful. The left turn to the airport and eventually the turnaround was just soul-destroying…Blasting wind, rain scouring your face/ears…Wow.

But there was a sliver lining. That miserable rain/wind combo was at our backs, with a gentle assist on the way home. I picked up, splashing my way through the puddles with wet soaked feet and shoes, and I felt GOOD. My times improved, with mid-KM’s at 4:10 and 4:17. Who is this girl?

I wasn’t dying (though the last KM was hard) I was doing it!! 

My thanks to the volunteers who must have been totally miserable. You guys are the real troopers! The food was great after too- chocolate milk,  pizza! Brownies with salt on them, bananas and yogurt. Yum yum!

I finished my 8k with a time of 34:41 (chip) and 34:53 (gun) for a respectable 8th place in my age category. 🙂

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Jusu 1-day easy cleanse. My review!

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Full disclosure– I do not believe in cleanses or detoxes (that’s what your liver is for, and maybe less drinking and/or eat more fruit and vegetables). I also bought this at a charity silent auction for $30, so for that value for money it’s a fun thing to try out. Full price is $60, so your view may vary on whether it is worth it or not!

The easy cleanse is made up of 6 juices:

Must Be Nuts. A really fun one to kickoff the day and also their highest calorie juice. It tastes vaguely chocolately, and slightly gritty but not unpleasant. Quite tasty and a real treat! I had this around 9:30 am. I didn’t feel hungry after this one, even though I went through my usual routine (gym at 11am) and found my mouth watering watching Rachel Ray cook a turkey on TV when I was running on the treadmill. Weird, because I don’t really like turkey and I wasn’t particularly hungry.

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Emerald City. Very low-calorie veggie juice, quite ‘cucumber-forward’ and tasted to me like a very zingy gazpacho. A slow sipper, but nice to drink and quite light. I had this around 12:30 pm as my ersatz lunch drink. It was a bit difficult to smell people’s food in the microwave at this point but not that bad.

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The Classic. This one tasted much more ‘fruity’ and was a very vibrant burgundy courtesy of the beets. Relied heavily on ginger and apple for strong flavours. This was around the time my stomach started feeling very acidic…I had this one around 2:30 pm. Also there was an art show opening on our floor that had two-bite brownies, cookies and banana bread. Sorely tested my willpower, but I managed to move on.

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Green Machine. Very ginger-forward, hints of parsley and a bite of lemon.  At this point I still wasn’t feeling hungry BUT I also didn’t want to drink juice anymore. My stomach felt really ‘sloshy’ and quite acidic with minor heartburn and I was FREEZING. I drank this one around 5:00 pm and finished it driving out to the barn for my jump lesson. I brought my fifth juice with me in the car but…yeah.

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Didn’t drink this one, still in my fridge: Hawkeye. It looks cool, but after riding the idea of drinking any more juice made my stomach recoil and I had pretty bad heartburn after too. GAG.

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Double Jointer. Now this one I drank with pleasure- after skipping Hawkeye I thought this one might help settle my stomach and it did! It’s another fairly high-calorie drink, very smoooooth almond flavour, not quite as gritty as Must be Nuts and a pleasant and mellow way to wrap up the night. This one did not bug my stomach, it was really nice to drink. I drank this one at 8:30pm.

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Pros: I actually woke up with abs this morning. I can say that has happened basically NEVER. So….bonus?

Cons: I spent the entire night running to the bathroom to pee every hour on the hour. Water weight anyone?

Basically, the juice cleanse is a fun idea and an interesting way to test your willpower. If you’re like me and spent the week eating kind of regretfully (dinner at Bao with friends on Monday, dessert at Olo  too, Premier’s Awards Dinner on Tuesday with cheesecake and wine, Wednesday candy buffet/bingefest with the candy curated by yours truly so you know it’s good…) then this is a fun way to ‘test’ yourself and see what you are really capable of. Does food entertain you, keep you from being bored? This might help change your perspective if only for a little bit.

Of course, the only true cleanse is moderation in everything and fruit/veggies. But yeah, you knew that!

 

 

Arcade Fire and a weekend in Vancouver

Spent the weekend (another long one, lucky me!!) in Vancouver going to see the Arcade Fire show at the Pacific Coliseum. It was GREAT! We sadly showed up super late (arghhh) because we wanted to grab a beer at Parallel 49- an East Van brewery first. So we did, and it was crazy packed, and then when we went to catch the bus to the venue, no bus came…

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And we waited…and waited. UGH!

Finally it showed up and we had missed the opening act (Phantogram) and at least two songs by Arcade Fire. Bummer!! But the show itself was really amazing. The light show was super technically well done, and kept the audience riveted. They also played very heavy from Suburbs as well as Funerals so I was very happy with that!

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We stayed at the Sutton Place hotel (love it, don’t love that they charge $14+ for wi-fi!!) and we ate, oh boy did we eat…

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Nuba- La Feast. Highly recommend!! So much food and so great.

Brunch at Chambar– I had the Belgian waffle with milk chocolate lavender sauce, as well as a rosewater-orange-pistachio mocha, and fruit, yogurt and granola. YUM! So filling too.

Snack: Soft Peaks Chocolate Mudslide with Tim Tams.

Drinks: Beer at Parallel 49 and more beer/cocktails at the Alibi Room. Very cool!

We had a great weekend, the weather was cold but nice on Sunday. Everything went very smoothly with my dogsitter thank GOD and the ferries and Oats, and well, all of it! A nice time to get away. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. I was a bit bummed at first, because I was DYING to go to the Turkey Trot schooling event at High Point and nobody was going and I didn’t have a ride up there 😦 so I couldn’t go…But when it dawned rainy and kind of blahh, I was like, ok fine.

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View from the top

At least I had the chance to school Oats at High Point earlier in Sept. Win win!

And then the weather cleared up beautifully- just in time for my husband’s excellent race at the Victoria Marathon (running the half marathon in a shocking 1:29. MAN!!!) I would kill for that time haha.

It was a great day, so I went riding and then we shared some wine at the beach and read and relaxed in the sun. Ah…. Our Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t turkey- I am not a big fan. Instead we had salmon and mussels! Yummy!!

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The Monday I rode Oats in the field very briefly, just to jump a few things and then we went up on a hike to Mt. Finlayson at Finlayson Arm, so Ian could show me his route during the Finlayson Arm 28k. It was….long. But so picturesque!~ His legs were tired and so were mine though, a busy and very physically active weekend. That evening we capped off a great long weekend by making won-ton soup. It was GREAT!

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I wish I could have a three-day weekend every weekend. Man…

Apple Day at Sea Cider

Despite the absolute horror that was the end of the week with Oat’s near-death experience, I managed to have a pretty nice weekend.

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Saturday, Oats and I had a very low-key dressage lesson. This was also when I noticed his cough was pretty terrible, so I tried to keep it very light and not hard for him. I was very pleased with his work though, he likes having a job (mostly).

We then zipped up island to my in-laws farm, to pick pears and plums! It was great, and there were SOOO many. 100’s of lbs of plums and pears! Overwhelming! They also showed me the lovely plaque they made for Buster Bunny, to mark his final resting place at their farm. It made me feel sad, but also very appreciative of them as a part of my family.

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Sunday was another busy day- I had every intention of running before meeting the girls at the barn for the Apple Day event at Sea Cider, except I ….didn’t get up and slept in. Ha. We had a fabulous time and really enjoyed ourselves. The cider was great, we even got to try fresh-pressed apple juice!! Food was phenomenal- standouts were the squash risotto, pork belly with potato/cauliflower gratin, apple toffee bread pudding, and octopus on bannock. YUM.

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I then rode Oats out in the field, to see if a non-dusty environment would improve his cough. Spoiler: It didn’t. His cough was TERRIBLE. 😦 I started getting quite concerned, so I called the vet on Monday and had him check out Oats. Good news was that all his vitals were fine, but to give him time off (the week) to recover and monitor him.

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By the time I got home after Sea Cider and riding, it was after 4pm! Time to get ready for our first time out to Sult Pierogy Bar, where they were holding a special tasting event with Parkside Beer. ‘Dawn till Dusk’ event and it was SO GOOD. Not cheap- $45, but so much food, two full cans of beer?! Lots of samples pairing with some really outstanding dishes- trout with lemon buerre blanc, smoked tomato bisque with grilled cheese pierogy ‘sandwich’, cherry smoked duck breast on top of the hottest pierogy I have ever eaten…Oh man.

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I am definitely going again. Thumbs up!!! 🙂

And now for this week, I am going out to the barn to monitor Oats,  handwalk/graze him (he loves it) and take his temperature. All lessons cancelled, horse show on Saturday cancelled. OH well!

Snickers vs Mars vs 3 Musketeers

In the showdown between candy bar giants, who was the winner? (sidenote: US seems to prefer candy bar to our more regional ‘chocolate bar’)

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Clearly Snickers was the winner, with a balanced palate of salty/sweet (but not cloyingly sweet) and a pleasant texture of nougat/caramel/chopped peanuts, that appealed to most in the office. It has the added bonus of protein from the peanuts, so it is practically a health food. Maybe even a vegetable, if we want to go US-style here. Seasonal variations on Snickers bars include almonds and dark chocolate!

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Second place is kind of a toss-up between Mars and 3 Musketeers *I wanted to write 2 Musketeers, I mean it only has nougat (more marshmallowy) and chocolate so what is the third element here?

Mars lost ground in this round due to the overwhelming sweetness of the whole bar. A stiffer nougat chew was nice, but it’s so sweet it makes all of our fillings ache. Caramel is a good touch but again, just too damn sweet. Plus, no peanuts so…It seems overwhelmingly bad for you. I can’t even justify it really. Their seasonal variation at one point was Mars Maple, available only in…drumroll please…Canada. It’s just a Mars. What more do you want??

3 Musketeers also failed here due to its marshmallowy texture and no added fun features like nuts or caramel. A bland marshmallow bar? I would eat that and I still really like them (and the internet says 3 Musketeers has experimented with strawberry marshmallow nougat and also dark chocolate, so they have some intrepid fans for sure)…But here it just got lost in the wishy-washy sweetness and no backstory.

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Also this might be in our future too if we keep this up past Halloween! Thank you to my colleague for providing the chocolate bars for our taste tests.

Guest post: Finlayson Arm 28k 2017 Race Recap!

Courtesy of my husband who bravely undertook this insane race last weekend! Without further ado:

The good memories of the 28k Finlayson Arm race are overshadowed by my evolution through intensifying stages of discomfort. This constant pain was punctuated by bursts of sunlight piercing magically down between treetops, a stunning vista or two and little reminders that this amazing network of trails is in my own backyard. There was also the reminder that I had volunteered for this little jaunt through the woods and that no one would sympathize with my agony.

A few weeks before the race, I had decided that four hours was the longest it would take me – the rough number to beat. I figured that was setting expectations so low that I was sure to finish with a smile. There was even some pre-race training for me, complete with my brand new water-bladder on my back and getting lost for an hour or two in the trails behind Thetis Lake. I felt sure-footed and strong. This was a race I could do. All I needed to do was power through some tough hills and keep moving. In a sense, that’s exactly how things turned out.

It was a chilly morning when we set out – cool and clear over night – but the forecast was sunny. The 50k and (suicidal) 100k racers had finished the day before in the rain. As if their punishment was not enough. I went quick off the start as I anticipated getting bottlenecked later on the narrow single-track. After a kilometer I was established near the top 10. Then we hit the creek. Anyone who has been to Goldstream Park will notice how a four-lane highway rips through the middle with no safe way to get from one side to the other. You either need to dodge cars or get your feet wet (and maybe your legs and maybe your ass depending on how nimble you are). A rope strung across helped the crossing not be complete madness, but it was a gritty way to start a race.

With wet feet I carried up through the rolling side hill on the west side of the highway. This is a really nice section of trail that I will have to remember to check out when I’m not racing. It was a time to flex out your legs, find your pace and your seeding, a bit of a free pass before you hit the real hills. Looking back I wonder if I went too fast in this section, maybe blowing too much gas.

About five kilometers in, we were back under the highway (luckily through a dry stream bed this time) and through the main park, eerily deserted in the still early morning. I already had a pain in my leg, a nagging injury that I’m learning to live with, so I started to run a bit more cautiously.

Next it was on to the main event of the first half of the race, up the face of Mt Finlayson. There’s a slow build to remind you that this is a serious climb, to check your pace and your ambition. Then it gets steeper. Then the trail kinda takes a break and you start scrambling over rock, open to the sky. I should mention at this point all the volunteers and signage to keep you on track. There is plenty of both and I always felt like I knew where I needed to go. They seemed to anticipate in these early sections where you might go astray and had people there to point. On the mountain there were more guides. It’s the kind of climb where there is the very real possibility of running off a cliff into thin air so I’m glad they were there to point the best way.

At the top of the hill I felt pretty good. Well, not good. My legs were burning. But there was a lift in getting over what I knew was the hardest section of trail and I had kept my pace and not been passed. It was this feeling that propelled me down the backside, not too steep (which was nice) and into trail that I had never seen before. Just before we popped out on asphalt (a surprise) I was passed by someone with a bit more lift than me, but I stayed on his heels as we ran along the short section of road towards the first aid station.

The station could not come soon enough. Almost two hours into the run, I suddenly felt depleted. I wanted to stop and sit and eat some cookies, but my new nemesis just cruised on through. I grabbed a cookie and a banana piece anyway and set off on the next leg, back into trail. This is where my memory of the route got a bit hazy. What kilometre were we at? How far to the turnaround? Basically, the race had moved solidly into ‘not-fun-anymore’ territory and I was doing some mental math on how much longer I would have to move. At two hours the footsteps behind me turned into people passing me. I tried my best to make sure they weren’t increasing their lead on me, but I found myself slowing on every little hill, my flow completely evaporating.

There is a long hill in this section that, mentally, nearly did me in. Where was the bloody turnaround? The trail was also quite technical, with loose rocks and big steps up in places. Then I saw the front runners coming back down and couldn’t decide if I was elated or destroyed. It meant the end must be near but also put the necessary route back home into perspective. At least they were giving shout outs to keep me going: “Almost there!” I hoped they were right. Finally there were more people coming back down towards me – people I recognized! Hey, you’re only a bit ahead of me! And there were the volunteers, a photographer snapping a picture of my grimaced face, and the end of the ‘out’ – it was time for the ‘back.’ (Side note: one of the volunteers or spectators or whatever was announcing ‘halfway there’ and I thought that was a bit cruel. Maybe most didn’t hear or didn’t care, but I was a believer for a moment. Could this truly be only halfway?)

I was so happy to be heading home (and downhill to boot) that I even passed who I would later find out was my trail buddy. I swung my bag around and took out my gel pack. Time to take in some energy and get going. Things were looking good. Now it was my turn to dish out enthusiasm to those still on the grind to the top – “keep going,” and “almost there” I kept saying even as it became less true the further I went. And there were so many people behind me. I was doing well! Then all of a sudden I wasn’t.

I was coming undone, step by step.

After three hours of “running” I did not have the strength to keep my pace, or any pace. I was passed, then passed again. I knew the aid station would be coming back up again but I needed it now. As I popped out of the woods back into the daylight I was passed by another three. But I had to take a moment. I grabbed another gel pack, a banana and squashed a cookie in my mouth. The volunteers were asking if I needed to fill my pack, something to drink. I shook my head and imagined the madness in my eyes. I muttered something about wanting to use up what I had. Maybe I had filled my pack too full as well. Then I was off for the final few kilometers and my once measured race became an unhinged stumble to the end.

The return route did not go back over Mt Finlayson, but skirted along one side. It was a rolling bit of trail that took a lot of focus. Right in front of me was the aforementioned Trail Buddy – temporary companions in suffering. It felt reassuring to keep pace with someone. Those who had passed us seemed to have extra energy to tap and were pulling away, but we were hanging in there, moving forward. I knew the end could not be too far off, but looking at my watch I began to wonder if I would get in under four hours. More importantly, would I be able to stand on my feet for that long? We rounded the mountain and rejoined the steep trail up from before – this time heading down. My legs – knees, shins – could not handle the steep downhill. I grimaced with every step. Up or down would not do; I needed flat, please.

Down and down we went and we were passed again. My world got smaller as I narrowed my focus on foot placement without collapsing or catapulting downhill.

Next was a split off to the left, in the direction of end/start. I could hear the highway again. I was picturing a mental map of the park and where we were in relation to salvation. The end could be around any bend, I told myself after every bend. Out of nowhere this guy in his sixties came up on us, hooting and and maniacally urging us along. “C’mon boys, let’s give ‘em hell” he shouted as if we were heading over the top of the trenches or storming Normandy. I put on a face and groaned some more. The crazy old man disappeared whooping and skipping along. Maybe I imagined the whole thing.

Then at about the same time that I decided my legs were finished, I spotted spectators ahead. There was a volunteer with a clipboard, calling ahead with my number, the sound of fans and a PA system blurting out names and congratulations. And then I heard my name, a mix-up, before I shot out onto the grass and over the finish, some prize pack thrust into my hands, the buzz of activity all around. There was my run buddy (he beat me in the end) with a high five and then food, glorious food.

For the next 45 minutes or so, I paced around in agony in between vigorous stuffing of burgers and beer. I could not decide whether to sit, stand, walk, or crawl into the bushes for a little nap. It was agony, but I had done it. And I never had to do it again.

I stayed on to cheer some others as they came across. A seventy year old, a guy who had finished the 100k yesterday was doing the ‘double-double,’ some others who I recognized from races past. Were they fast, was I slow? Did we all do “alright?” I cared a little. As much as this race was an experiment, you want to do well. Or well enough for your expectations.

I got in at 3 hours and 51 minutes, somehow just inside my (soft) target. I might as well have run a marathon. It’s the slowest 28 kilometers I’ll likely ever run yet certainly one to remember.