Lake to Lake Half Marathon: Shawnigan to Glenora

Ah yes, forgot that I ran this one of a few busy weekends ago (Sept 11?). It’s quite a small community fun run, and it is unique in that it offers two distances: the full marathon, and the half. It is not chip-timed – and as I learned when I ran it- not quite a full distance either, hah. 😉

Lake to Lake!! An eerie glow…

There was a small crowd as we started slightly after the full marathon folks, and it’s a point-to-point, so you do have to be aware of getting back to your car. They do offer a shuttle, but luckily for me Ian wasn’t running so he could pick me up afterwards! Yes!

The weather was fantastic. It’s been an incredible fall, no rain, just sun and warm weather days. I love it! I was a tad chilly in the morning, but that burned off pretty quick. Speaking of burned off, there was also smoke- due to forest fires from WA. Luckily for us, the smoke in the air didn’t get too bad until later in the afternoon and I was finished fairly early, so not bad.

I started up near the front, as it was quite a small race. I hung out for awhile with another guy, cognizant of not wanting to blow up my pace (this was supposed to be a practice run for training, NOT a real race). Did I actually do that? Well…sort of. I got pretty into the idea of racing quick 😉 and mistakenly thought I was KILLING IT!! A new world record for me!! (newsflash: This did not happen. You merely rise to the level of your training, not above it.).

So, I jogged along, beat the one guy and had a few fasties ahead of me. I hustled and caught up with them…and then started feeling tired. The aid stations were a bit odd, not very evenly spaced and we had one right off the bat where we didn’t need them, and then 1 at about 12k? And then one at the finish, lol. Guess they were more important for the marathoners hahaha. The gravel was ok to run on, but I think the fatigue of training caught up with me and I started feeling pretty chewed up.

Cute participation medal eh?

I lost the fasties and kind plugged along solo for awhile. Wish I had some pictures actually!! And then it was the finish- at about 20.60, we were definitely a touch short. Oh well! I came in with no fanfare and my time was around 1:30:?? which is fine for a training run for sure, but again- course was short. I believe I was second female but not quite sure as there’s no awards or anything unless you win!

Waited around for Ian to come, he didn’t so I decided to just go and tackle the rest of my long run rather than waiting for the smoke to get worse, and for my legs to start stiffening up too much. That part was a SLOG lol. I did see a lot of other marathon runners so I cheered them on, hah clutching my participation medal because I didn’t know where to put it haha.

I finished that in about 1.5 hours, jogged back to the staging area and ran into Ian again. We wrapped up the day by going to Stillhead distillery for a spirits tasting (so good!!!) and then we went to watch the finishers of the Finlayson Arm Ultra (50k/100k day) and then went riding. A good day all around! 😉

I would recommend the Lake to Lake Marathon for a fun training opportunity that is supported and quite reasonably priced, it’s a beautiful course and very fun. Not a serious race, in my opinion but that makes it more fun!

Hatley Castle 8k Race Recap

Wow- two years since I last raced this series, and almost two since I raced- period! I did two little races this fall, to whet my appetite to get back out there 🙂 and I can tell you by this race, I was READY.

Pretty much dying, ha my neck is straining so hard! Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

We missed two of the VIRA races- the first one was cancelled due to snow/ice, and we were in Mexico for the second (oh what a hardship eh??) so I was feeling eager for this one. I know Hatley is a tough course, kind of a heartbreaker for people hoping for a good time due to the rolling hills, steep hills, and gravel/trail sections but no matter we were racing again!

The weather was SO nice. Like, amazing. Too bad it’s absolutely miserable right now, lol I am dying it is so cold. Last week the sun was shining and it was around 10 deg? We didn’t need to dress warmly for Hatley, which is funny b/c I swear every photo I have from that race there is snow on the ground, or ice, or it’s hailing and we are frozen.

I know it looks like I’m walking, but I swear it was hard!

We started a bit late hilariously because the main gate was still locked, so they had to go get big snippers to cut the lock off!?!

So good thing it was so warm.

The start is very congested- I started fairly close up, but was still bouncing off folks for a good…1km. Ouch, that does hurt your time a bit. When you pass 1k and start heading to the first out-and-back hill, it thins out greatly. I was passing/getting passed a fair bit until kms 3-4, where I just got…passed, ha. I was running in a bit of a ‘reach’ pace I think, particularly for my inexperience in racing over the past two years (and no hills…and a serious injury…lol). But I kept at it! It felt pretty horrible but, a horrible I could maintain.

Something fun- this time I was ahead of Ian. So when we had two out-and-backs (km 2-3, and km 5-6) he waved to ME this time! 🙂 Now that’s a first!

I had to add this one b/c it makes me laugh. Photo by Lois D’Ell.

I thought I was running pretty well through the trail section but I was definitely slowing down. The transition from the trail to the ridge, and then the loooooong downhill, was much longer than I recalled/wanted. I hit the downhill and immediately felt like I was one step away from face planting most spectacularly, yiiiikes! I am not used to running fast downhill and it was freaky.

Then it was roughly 1km to the finish, and I did…Not run super triumphantly, ha. I was straining, it was rough. BUT then there was the finish! 🙂

And I did it! Gun time was 34:13, and that makes a 2 minute personal best for me on this course. I was really happy with that, not shabby at all. I, of course, coughed my lungs out for the next three days…Racing is extremely hard on my lungs, quelle surprise!

Ian finished shortly after me, and we cruised up to get our snack bags and surprise! Sweet swag in it. An Endur hat AND I won a door prize- a super soft t-shirt 🙂 how awesome is that?!!!

A gorgeous day and a good race. Life is returning to normal (at least sometimes).

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!

IMG_0471

Yum!

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!

Slightly derailed

HA. True!

HA. True!

After my last post ‘a good stretch’ I was rudely reminded about how being smug about your horse can immediately lead to an abrupt comeuppance!

The dude. Photo courtesy of Natasha K.

The dude. Photo courtesy of Natasha K.

Oats was good in my dressage lesson- that’s true.

But…My jump lesson yesterday had more than a few bumps in the road. In fact, I kind of got off track entirely and the wheels fell off. Bummer! This was the lesson I had planned to do a counseling session before it, so I could feel more ‘in tune’ and ready to accomplish things during my lesson. So, not so much this time. Oh, horses. They have a real way of getting you out of dreamland and abruptly on your feet, unfortunately.

Oats was great for the counselling session- he was quiet and calm and we worked on some great relaxation. I was so sleepy feeling! It was really nice.

We then tacked up, and my facilitator stayed to watch my lesson. I’m glad she did, because when the train went off the track, if I hadn’t had a ‘witness’ haha, I very well may have wanted to bail on the lesson entirely. That being said, I definitely do NOT regret staying with the lesson and sticking with it- it was just kind of a discombobulating experience.

Oats looking cute in Feb.

Oats looking cute in Feb.

We warmed up fairly well, but I kept saying that Oats felt different- a bit head-bobby. It wasn’t noticeable really when we moved forward in the trot, and nothing at the canter so we kept going. Nobody on the ground could feel it at all. BUT..

We went to trot over our warm-up x and he was immediately head bobbing, dragging his feet?! Nicole went to check his feet for rocks, and he did have a few big ones wedged in there. OUCH!!

So, rocks picked out, we kept going and Oats got really dramatic and head bobbing. We pulled up, checked for stones again and he was a-ok. So…We made the decision to push through it, and get him trotting forward on both reins, and then moving to the jump. He felt better – got past the really obvious head bobbing- but he still felt…funny to me.

We moved on to the coursework, and I had lost my groove. He was moving ok but still felt weird to me, and I was complaining that he felt strangely. Nicole and my facilitator said he looked fine, but it was just one of those things, you know?

That unsure feeling led to me basically bombing my coursework and I just felt like I wasn’t clicking at all. I know it all started when he picked up the rocks, but I couldn’t get my head back in the game. We had some SUPER awkward chips, some I pulled to, some Oats generously ‘gave’ to me…My bad habits were back in full force: Pumping my upper body to the fence, sitting too much, crop on the neck, pulling for a distance, motorcycling around corners, leaning up his neck too, arghhh…

Some were ok, but I’ve just been so spoiled lately with really nice, relatively flawless jump rounds, so this unsettled me a lot, and I felt quite out of sorts. We did the course twice, the second being better than the first, but I couldn’t let go of that nagging feeling.

Oh well! I did notice Oats holding his right front hoof up in the cross-ties and he was also shifting a lot more than he normally does. So, maybe he did get a bang on his hoof or a bruise from the rocks. He is a very sensitive-hoofed horse (god, you should see him on gravel…mincing) despite having rock-hard and very good feet. That does baffle my farrier!