First time: Running the Oak Bay Half Marathon

Now, this is a combo of typical ‘big race’ and ‘community race’ I think. I’m not generally a fan of big races, it seems like more of an opportunity to spend more, and get wayyy less. This race is no exception, but it is very well organized, with a whole army of excellent volunteers, so I am very thankful for them and the organization! It is a very nice, leafy course and one of the most scenic ones in Victoria I think.

And then in two minutes I wanted my sweater back…

BUT…

It is a fairly large race, there are no race awards for age-groups, and it is more ‘everybody gets a medal’ day ie- you get a race medal for completion. I am not a fan of participation medals, basically at all, unless you’re at marathon distance. (Ok I know there is some innate snobbery here, but I just don’t need medals myself unless I won them, is my thinking. Not meaning to rob someone of their joy here.).

So, last weekend’s race was much more lucrative for me, hahah. Oh and also that the run scene here is EXTREMELY competitive. Like…Olympian-fast. So you can take the overall placings out of your dreams, hahah because it ain’t gonna happen. That is the only reason I am able to place in races elsewhere, basically!

Also I had to get up early for this one, which is a hard sell for me, argh. 8am just isn’t…friendly to me and it was absolutely freezing that early in the morning. Lucky for me Ian joined me so he could park the car and take a video 🙂

Whee!

We started off and it’s a mass start- 10k and half marathon all together, with relay participants. It’s a bit of organized chaos, as we run with the 10k’ers until they turn around. Now, I do think I owe my last half marathon personal best to having some unofficial pacers to follow until they dropped my ass at like 8k, so I was feeling a bit lost and apprehensive about being with 10k’ers. Like…who do I follow?
Well, it was fine. Maybe I came out a bit quick, but you run for so long you give that up pretty damn fast, haha. We were with the 10k’ers until just past 6km, and they turned around, and we kept climbing.

No lie, this was much hillier than I expected. I guess I thought Oak Bay was kind of flat? Also the wind was pretty nuts, gusting up to 60k/hr and we did so many twists and turns…straight into the headwind every time. It was never really at our backs, at all. My hat kept blowing off my head, so I took it off and held it. Boo!

I was apprehensive for up until oh, 11km and then I high-fived a spectator, felt good and kept GOING!

The only thing I was really struggling with was getting a solid, pounding rhythm …could get it great on the flats, and then we’d hit another hill and I’d lose my awesome pace. Then get it…and immediately hit another hill.

My legs felt awesome though, no troubles at all there. So good in fact I just wanted some flat sections to really test how fast I could go this late in the game! But the last 5km was just hills and a wicked headwind 😦

Wrapped up by charging past some of the walkers finishing the early start, not super inspiring because you’re alone out there again, racing past walkers. Finished with a not too shabby 1:31:39. Slower than my last one, but truly it’s a different race, so I am pleased with consistency. That was enough to net me 5th overall and 2nd AG (but no AG awards, sigh) and that’s it!

So would I do it again? No I don’t think I will. It is nice and scenic, when the weather cooperates it’s a fun race but I just am not that into more ‘fun runs’ really. I would recommend it for people looking for something new and interesting, but challenging. Don’t expect a personal best here.

Bazan Bay and series finale with the Vancouver Island Race Series

Last weekend we had the final race of the series, the 5k and the series wrap up! 🙂

Heading back. Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

I was kind of dreading the 5k- I just find it so tough, and I feel like I am pretty weak at getting any top end speed but I figured I could probably hang well enough for a sub- 20:00 with the fitness I have right now.

And it was FREEZING out. We have had a really miserable spring- super cold, wind storms every other day, it was a blizzard last Monday?! The race morning it was 0 deg, and by the time we were racing, I think it crawled up to a measly 4 deg? Anyways I was frozen, wearing gloves for the last race of the season and cursing our luck. I guess we should have considered ourselves lucky that it wasn’t snowing (it was on the Malahat and up Island all day…) and the brave runners who traveled here definitely had to contend with a really tough go to get to the race.

Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

Weather gripes aside, the race itself was fine. I did get annoyed when I saw some older, non-elite runners head to the start. Guys, that’s a good way to get really hurt. Of course, when we started everyone blew past them and they got elbowed a lot. That’s life when you try to hang w/the pros… Do better!

I was hung up in a few packs throughout the race but nothing too tight, which was nice. I forgot my watch so didn’t have that pressure 😉 at least!

At the start. My lungs didn’t love the extra-cold weather. Photo by Lois D’Ell.

It was tough, Ian blew past me like I was standing still which is always irritating! Lol! Wish I had speed if I didn’t train- how??? That will always confound me. My breathing was fairly labored and I did feel like I was at my max for speed. We hit the turnaround and zoomed back. As always, the finish loomed just out of reach for muuuchhh longer than I ever want…

About 1.5 kms to the finish, a guy was telling us we’re getting under 20:00 and I was like yes my dude, I know that, but I’m not gearing JUST for under, you know? I was running hard!

Second place in the series! Photo courtesy of Joseph ‘Crazy Legs’ Camillieri.

And luckily I did get under 20:00 by a fair margin- gun time was 19:22, chip..can’t remember haha. Good enough! I got 5th in my AG, and then we had the series awards. It was confusing at first because none of the 5k times were loaded so nobody knew what they had placed in, and the placings did have an effect on the series end awards. I was in 3rd place, until they called out the placings and I – in a big upset lol- moved to 2nd?!

Yeah!!

$50 gift card to Frontrunners was all mine, baby!! 🙂

And the race results never did get loaded, so a few days later we saw them. Ha, my AG was quite competiive this year, phewww!

Grateful to have a good racing season, nice weather until the last race (how??) and lovely to see my run community buddies and enjoy some excellent post-race snacks. Until next time, racing!!! 🙂

You were my favourite (until you weren’t)

We attended the Global Run Day festivities at our local Frontrunners downtown yesterday and had a BLAST!!! We went for a 5k shake-out run, and then back to the store for tacos and beer, by La Taqueria!!! It was so good 🙂 And the best part? Costs nothing!!

The event was sponsored by Saucony, and they had a rep there to demo shoes, and bonus- swag items like hats, bags, stickers, beer cozies, bottle openers and some prizes!!  Can you believe it?

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My swag!!! And I had a great beer too- Sun Setter peach/wheat. 

I had a great time 🙂 I 100% recommend!

 

No, the end is not near

Had a very busy weekend! And tried to ignore the fact that it was martyr’s day (cough, mother’s day…) not a great day for those of us experiencing strained mother-daughter and parental relationships…UGH! Enough said.

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I am feeling dressage-inspired! 

Anyways, my best solution is to grey-rock them (don’t buy into drama, be boring). It works ok, but I’m also a terrible grey-rock person- prone to outbursts! Ha. Oh well! The weekend itself was pretty good, Friday my husband and I signed up for a ‘5k Happy Hour Run’ with local running store Frontrunners, sponsored by New Balance and Sheringham Distillery. It was so fun, and the weather was fantastic! Sunny, warm, just a great day to be alive.

You had the option to demo a pair of New Balance shoes, go on a nice little 5k shake-out run through Beaconhill Park, and then back to Frontrunners for a sweet-ass cocktail, a Moscow Mule shaken up right there by the bartender! And we got to keep the nice copper mugs too! Yeah!

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Poor Gidget got sick this weekend. 

And then we got home and Gidget was sick, puking. Nooooooooo…She threw up on Ian’s arm at 3am that night. 😦 Gross. Poor dog. Luckily that seemed to be it for her. We were up and Saturday was a super nice day again, at least everywhere not in James Bay. Sunny, warm, beautiful. We went to check out the Oaklands Garage Sale block party. It was nice! I didn’t see anything I really wanted though, so didn’t pick up any garage sale scores.

Off to the barn and enjoyed a ride in the sunshine in the outdoor arena with Oaty. Then I came home and it was just freezing in James Bay. About 12 degrees and wind gusts of oh, 70km/hr? I went on a run and was grimly cursing the entire time. It.SUCKED.

Sunday I was up early to go audit the Cesar Torrente dressage clinic for the day at my dressage trainer’s fabulous stables, Fairlawn. It was really cool! Highlight of the day- watching Cesar instruct a high-level rider/horse partnership, currently competing at Prix St. Georges. It was just stunning to watch, and I was really engaged in it 🙂 How neat! I felt inspired to go ride my little nag after that, hahah.

So we did! Zipped out to the barn after lunch at the clinic and I rode in the outdoor, trying to keep in mind Cesar’s teachings at the clinic. I can get very complacent and lazy when I ride on my own, unfortunately. I feel like I’m not the only one with that bad habit though? Oats was good, we worked on picking up the counter-canter down the long side on the quarter-line of the arena. I was FROZEN though, brrrrrrr.

Moved some jumps around after, ugh I was exhausted. Drove home, contemplated going for another sad-sack run in the freezing wind and cold and just…couldn’t. Ha.

Rode yesterday and it was cold, but still ok to ride in the outdoor with a buddy. Let’s face it- the barn is my social life! 😉 And I am still feeling inspired by Cesar. Let’s hope that propels me into some more effective, focused rides.

End of the season: Bazan Bay 5k Race Recap!

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Faces of Anguish: The 5k… Photo by Lois D’Ell.

Ah man, as I write this- I’m struggling with weird crushing fatigue and muscle weakness/exhaustion. It’s not a good feeling, and I felt dizzy; had nausea and lightheadedness at the work gym on my lunch break today. Lovely. I had this last week, sort of on-and-off since I got back from Mexico. What is with travelling and me getting sick and/or facing crushing exhaustion?? Anyone have ideas?!

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Bazan Bay last year. This is my last year in my age-catgory, sob!

Anyway on to the race- I took Saturday VERY easy (see week of exhaustion/fatigue and a cold), so I was feeling sort of fresh but also with some strange muscle fatigue happening (I am finding it hard to type, my fingers feel tired and I am struggling to make a fist?!?).

I have been taking my iron pills and b12, as well as magnesium, but I’m really wondering what is going on…

So yeah, the race. Last year I had a really fantastic rally, and managed to break 20:00 minutes for the 5k. This year? Ha, nope. My ego was slightly bruised by this, but not by a lot- I still ran a very respectable 20:09. So, close but no cigar. Better than I likely had a right to run, to be honest, with the craptacular way I have been feeling this past week and now week!

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Faces of Anguish II: the finish of the 5k. Photo by Lois d’Ell. 

I started pretty quick and immediately it felt hard. My second Km was slow- too slow at 4:06…Shit. I bounced off another girl as I got boxed in pretty badly. Hit the turnaround and my previously cocky feeling of ‘this is ok, I can do it!’ evaporated. It was getting hard, really challenging. I was breathing hard, and starting to suffer.

In a weird sense of deja-vu, a girl who was racing this year was shouting and gasping and screaming, just like last year. It was bizarre. I think if each year you sound like you’re dying, maybe the 5k just isn’t…for you.

I saw some other runners who usually smoke me, HARD, and I passed them and they did not catch up. This surprised me- the 5k is a weak distance for me, and it sucks. I was running alone with a few men, and kind of wished for a woman to really spur me on! Like usual, the finish line was so far away and cartoonishly stretched further when I was running to it- I was freaking wiped!

I finished and briefly contemplated puking, like the guy I saw on his hands and knees throwing up after the race. Yes, it’s that fun! I got my breathing under control, found my husband and we trudged back to the gym. Damn, that was difficult. Weather was pretty good though, not too windy and not raining. It’s been pretty lousy these days so I’ll take what I can get!

The ceremony after was great though, I got third in my age category (this surprised me, it’s not a very competitive time for a fairly competitive race), and I was first in my age-group. PLUS I was able to get a chiropractic treatment from my chiropractor, because they were there as the sponsors of the race and were providing treatments. Score! Nice eh? It’s a very well run race, safe with great volunteers, snacks and treatments. I do highly recommend people trying their hand at a fast, brutal 5k to do it here- it’s a personal best-type course.

Sad to see another season go, but each race season teaches me something about myself. Isn’t that always a good thing? I age up next year, so I bid farewell to my age-group buddies 🙂 Felt nice to make a connection this year with some lovely ladies.

 

 

Final race of the 2018 VIRA Season- Bazan Bay’s 5k Recap!

It feels weird to write this, because earlier this past week I was like oh man, I am soooooo over racing! But then when I was at the race, I was thinking, boo…I want to race every weekend! Mixed emotions much?

I am having the race season of my LIFE! Each race, I am meeting the challenge and overcoming it. It feels incredible, to be completely honest. Wow. How lucky am I, that my body is responding to the increased demands in such an awesome way?

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Series award, Frontrunners gift cert & bronze in my AG. What a weekend!

All that to say- my goal for the 5k was to get under 21 minutes. It felt like a stiff goal to me, as my weakest distance is the 5k for sure, and really any shorter distances. I just don’t have the power.

So I mentally wrote off this race as a ‘for fun’ race and a way to cap off the season of good racing. I was even asking Ian AT the race what my splits should be if I wanted to get under 21, and he said around 4:10/km. Yeesh, that seemed way too fast for me. So yeah I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. My eye is on a bigger prize.

At the start, it was quite warm! I was wearing shorts and a long-sleeved Lululemon run shirt and kind of wishing I was wearing a t-shirt. Crazy eh? We were packed in close and the start was hairy- I watched someone almost smoke a small child that was up too close. Yikes!

We bustled and battled it out for 200 metres or so, and then things smoothed out. I felt like I was running pretty hard in that awkward ‘legs haven’t caught up to my lungs’ way. My first KM was about 3:56 or so? Phew, so I have some room.

We kept running and I had my eye on a few runners who I typically race with, as they have similar pacing and strengths to me. Next KM- 4:07. Ok, that I can work with, but I’d have to really watch to make sure it didn’t creep up….

KM 3- this is when I started catching runners. Not gonna lie, it felt AWESOME. Usually KM 3 is when the wheels fall off, but I just felt stronger. I ran this one at 3:50 I think? Between 3-4, I started really breathing hard, Jesus when was it going to be over? I started staring at my GPS watch, ha. A girl I caught up with-and-passed was gasping and breathing really horribly. It made me feel a bit concerned. Her coach or parent was on the sidelines telling her she had to ‘ make a decision…’

I ran a bit faster to put her behind me- it was very distracting.

And I could see the finish line- almost there! I was running as hard as I could, even though I did get caught up by a few runners who had a better sprint that I did. I could see the clock and couldn’t believe my eyes- 19-something?? Wha?

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Photo courtesy of VIRA. Third place age-grouper.

I ran down the clock and staggered around trying not to puke. Long time racer Gary Duncan saw my finish and came over to give me a hug and congratulate me. I had just raced under 20 minutes! 

Whoa! My chip time just squeaked under 20, at 19:58 and my official gun time was 20:04. I couldn’t believe it! That amazingly was good for 3rd in my age group. We also had the year-end series awards and I got FIRST in my age group! That came with $100 to Frontrunners! 🙂

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Series-end awards. Breeches are probably the least flattering pants around…Photo courtesy of VIRA.

Ian placed really high in his age-group too- 4th! Not too shabby! He is much faster than I 😉

Thanks again to VIRA for a fantastic race season. I’m floating on air, ending on a very high note. YES!

A very good weekend: Run, ride, party, tennis, eat!

I had a lot of fun this weekend, and it wasn’t because I had anything big going down, it was just really fun!

I was feeling really crummy- sore throat, very fatigued, sinus headache- but I didn’t let that bring me down, no way! Saturday, I was up very early (gah, 7:30am) to get out to the barn to meet the saddle fitter. Earlier than I would prefer for a weekend but heck, when the saddle fitter comes out to your barn, you MAKE IT HAPPEN!

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We are finally matching!! I love it, even with my trainer’s big saddle.

Long story short, needed air in my air panels as they went completely flat, and some re-flocking and tree adjustments are in order- he has my saddle this week and fingers crossed I get it back soon! Whoop!!

I am still borrowing my trainer’s saddle and she said I could try her dressage saddle, so I saddled up Oats on Saturday and wow, I did not enjoy that experience. It felt so…strange. I was very behind the motion, kept losing my stirrups even though I bumped them up 7 holes?!! And just, iick. Clearly I was not meant to ride dressage. If I do try it again, it will be in the indoor- it was just too jarring to ride in it in the outdoor ring, perhaps my biggest mistake.

Oats was kind of annoyed with me, fair enough.Sunday I moved back to the jump saddle (it is a very nice saddle, just too big for me).

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No photos! Damn paparazzi!!

I got home and jogged some stairs as as quick-ish workout and I forgot how hard stairs are. Bring me a hill any day!

Saturday night I had a series-end awards party at Rustik Bistro for the Christie-Victoria Insurance Run Series. I had a BLAST! $10 a ticket and it’s a silent auction, and awards with beer/wine and appies and squares–and they were so tasty, I was stuffed!

There were also draw prizes, and my name was in the draw prizes for the 5 pairs of running shoes (people who won series awards got all their names in a draw to win 1 of 5 pairs of running shoes) and I WON A PAIR! Lucky me eh?? I got gold in my age group (30-39) and that gave me a free seasons pass to next year’s track series, and a chance at winning running shoes.

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Lucky me! I would highly recommend checking out this track series- friendly, inviting, low-barrier!

Wow!!!

I also bid on some silent auction items- got outbid on a bunch- but also made out with a hair cut and a subscription to Canadian Running magazine. Yes!!

A great night.

Sunday, I was up and out to the barn to ride in jump tack again. Rode in the indoor as it was raining on and off, and it is not my saddle= no way I am getting it wet. Oats was very good if a bit lazy, and we schooled some tiny fences. I kept getting left behind? How? He was forgiving for that, good pony. A fun ride overall.

Zipped home and met my mom, who gave me this amazing pie: The roses took her 3 hours to do! It tastes as good as it looks!

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My mom made the world’s greatest pie. Looks and tastes amazing!

And we walked my dog along the ocean- I really like the proximity to the water, 5 minutes and you are there. My mom left, and when my husband came home, we played a bit of tennis–and wow we are soooo bad at it. Terrible actually, but it was really fun, silly and gave Gidget quite the workout chasing tennis balls everywhere!

Then we suited up and went out for a run- 8km for me and 6-7km for my husband. A very lovely day, and I wanted to spend every second of it making it count! And we sure did! That, friends, is how you enjoy a great weekend. I hope everyone else’s was as enjoyable as mine.

“I wish I could recommend the experience of not being killed to everyone” Gut Buster Mt. Washington Race Recap!

And another quote by the esteemed Tim Kreider.

Yes I'm wearing my barn jacket. My other one was soaked through!

Yes I’m wearing my barn jacket. My other one was soaked through!

But on to the race!

The Gut Buster Mt. Washington…dun dun dun!

Yes, this one was not recommended by my husband, and I deliberately avoided talking about it at work or to anyone because I knew they would tell me I was making a bad decision. I have a bad kneecap and it gives me trouble and running down a suicide hill would definitely count as making a terrible decision.

So, I just didn’t mention it, and I ran it on Saturday.

And was it a bad decision? Nope! Would I do it again? Very debatable…

It was tough. It was rough. Am I glad I did it? Hells yeah!

The first inkling of trouble was when we got to the ski hill and it was absolutely freezing, pissing down rain and blasting wind. I started shivering immediately and my teeth were chattering. I signed up for this? WTF? I felt sorry for the poor volunteers at the registration tables, those folks looked absolutely frozen. It was, according to the Mt. Washington sign, 11 deg at the base of the mountain. BRrrrrrr.

Keeping in mind it is August, and everywhere else it was 20 deg and if not sunny, then only mildly rainy. Jesus.

The race director- who is a total moviestar- spent a lot of time warning us about the hazards on course…slippery rocks, lots of rocks, rain, wind, steep conditions, ”scrambling” sections, oh and the course that was going to be 6km is now 8.5km- yayyyy…????? In my mind I was like oh god, there goes my pride and all of my bones right now. What kind of stupid impulse made me sign up for this freezing torture?

Anyways, before I could back out, we were out and running up the hills. For awhile I was feeling ok- I was passing people, feeling good, kind of smug really about passing even though I started at the bottom of the pack. Then we all kind of had to backtrack because everyone got lost immediately and missed the first of the flags. Whoops!

So, on we went until we reached 3km of the supposedly 5km uphill- that’s when the bad boys really started, and everyone was walking/trudging grimly uphill. This is when it started feeling less like a race, and more of a trudge, ha.

We got to a peak (note- I said ‘a peak’ not ‘the peak’ or ‘the summit’) and I was thinking oh yeah great, this is going well! Until we kept going and I noticed we weren’t going downhill. We were going up again…to the next peak.

Uh oh…

I gamely jogged across a really bizarre foot path of sorts made of huge boulders -slippery- and then trudged up some truly difficult scrambling sections. I was using momentum to heave myself up the scramble, wedging my foot in a rock, grabbing for a chunk of root or juniper bush to crawl up higher. At one point my foot slipped and I almost fell butt-first into the face of the guy following closely behind me. Phew, close one!

Then I felt good, ok that MUST be it!

We were even going a bit downhill…And then..back uphill?

Yeah, the run wasn’t done with me yet. At the brief downhill section, I got passed by everyone. I suck at going downhill, and rock at going uphill. And now we were really and truly heading to the summit. Cold wind and rain blasted us tirelessly, and we were socked in fog. It was a eerie experience, and I was all alone. It felt like I was the last person left on earth, running through a frozen apocalypse!

I kept going, and kept my head to the ground. I couldn’t see well because the rain was fogging my eyes, and the wind was making me tear up. That was when I missed the pink flags and cruised for awhile on a road. I enjoyed the cruise downhill until I noticed a suspicious lack of flags. Curses! I saw a guy quite a way away to my right running through a meadow and I shouted to him if he saw the flags- he yelled back yes!

I had to backtrack to the meadow, and I picked up the flags again. And I got passed by a few more people…Darn those downhill sections, I have to be the only person that can’t deal with it!

I jogged, walked and slipped my way down the mountain. Lots of small slippery rocks made it tricky, there were a few little boards over running water, and some logs just waiting to grab your ankles. Still, I was keeping at it.

And then, I cruised the final small gentle rise and headed down to the finish line. It was in sight! I have to say, this was the first race I’ve had enough energy to wave at Ian when I ran through the gates, haha. Cold, soaked and happy, I was glad to be done my first and only trail run up a mountain.

We both finished with respectable times, Ian finished 7th and I finished 4th in our ages groups. Ian even won the last door prize- a really sweet Nike running shirt!