Once upon a hell of a time: MEC race #3 The Pace Setter recap

Even writing this, a day or so later, makes me cringe. Jesus, what WAS I THINKING? Let’s put it this way- sometimes race times don’t tell the whole story. This race was 2:10, my personal worst time, and boy, the worst race I have ever foolishly attempted.

Clearly, my ego has more stamina than my body.

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Background of the race- Hatley Castle. Photos by MEC.

As I mentioned earlier, I made the (stupid and ill-advised) decision to run the half marathon the day after the Sooke Saddle Club, in the heat (hot for here, 28 degrees) with a raging head cold and exercised-induced asthma. I know enough that I just knew this was a bad idea, a really bad one.

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Three friends walking to the race. Photo by MEC.

I was joking around with my husband safely ensconced on our patio the night before with a glass or three of wine that my goal was to just NOT DIE. Newsflash- so I am a fortune teller, because that’s the way I spent the entire race feeling: close to death.

I also drank more wine to chase away my fears that what I was doing was dangerous and stupid and yeah….What could it hurt at this point? (Jury’s still out on that but I still like wine, so). Anyways, I was pretty beat after the horse show. I was jumping off Oats to blow my nose furiously, and overnight had developed quite the hacking gross cough that kept me up pretty much all night too. Lovely.

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Fueling with a gel. I should have known how bad it was going to be…Photo by MEC.

The morning of the race felt warm. Stomach-wise, I was feeling pretty good which should have been a warning sign of impending doom. I drank a bit of water, had some coffee, and met up with a friend running the 5k. I joined in with the warm-up routine and found my legs felt, well…like lead. I had a few twinges of fear but pushed that away, telling myself that it’s always like that and then I settle really well. Um, no.

We were off, and I felt ok for oh..1km? By 3km I was in trouble, and a lot of it. My legs were on FIRE, burning so badly with lactic acid I was wondering WTF was going on with them. I’m used to running pretty regularly??

This is a spectacularly hilly race, it starts off uphill, levels out a bit, and then has uphills on and off until one loooong downhill, to a really long flat section right along the ocean (so picturesque! I wanted to die!!) and then a steep and long climb back to the start, where you do it all over again.

I knew after my trouble at 3k that I was going to suffer, and suffer mightily. By 5k, I was really worried. Even after the downhill, I was telling myself I was walking up the big hill. No worries on that though, because by 8k I was struggling. My asthma started flaring up, I coughed phlegm basically all over myself and was gasping and dramatically clutching my chest.

Yay.

I walked/staggered/jogged my way miserably up the hill, thinking “just make it to 10km” and the miracle of miracles, I did. So, I just…sort of…kept going? At that point, I was fairly sure I was going to collapse. I have fainted this year so I know the warning signs, I just wasn’t sure if it was going to be near a MEC volunteer or not…

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So glad to be done. Photo by MEC.

Stupidly, I struggled on. I couldn’t run at that point- my legs weren’t responding, I was incredibly thirsty and every time I tried to attempt a run up something that wasn’t flat, my lungs were gripped in a clenched fist. So, I did what any dumbass runner who feels like giving up is impossible did- ran/walked the entire rest of the 2nd loop. And boy, did that take FOREVER. Enough time to want to cry anytime I saw a MEC volunteer.

I was in a real hell of my own making, and spending a lot of time in it, too. I couldn’t even run 1km, it was more like 100m of weak jogging, walk for awhile, and then try it all over again. Hell is also hot and doesn’t have enough Gatorade stops.

Surprisingly, I made it to the finish where I dramatically got my puffer from my husband, and felt like crying again. I was SO. BEAT. I wanted to crawl away and lick my wounds in private and pretty much never run, or at least race, ever again. EVER.

I was salty with sweat. I could feel it coating my face, my arms, my chest and my hat. We went home and I showered and slept for 2 hours. No race, ever, had bested me this badly before.

I sat on the patio, drank wine and contemplated my life choices for the rest of the day.

VIRA Race Recap: Comox Half Marathon!

So yeah, this blog right now is just for race recaps apparently. I have a good reason for it- I have been under an insane amount of pressure at work, and starting to crack. I haven’t had any time/inclination to blog because the only things I’d write are about how unhappy I am, and how miserable things are.

So…Please consider that warning for the next, oh, three weeks. Things are not great in my world in one particular area, and it’s killing my motivation, desire and will to live. OH well. This is also time sensitive so hopefully in three weeks I can be happier.

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Me and a Bastion Run Club guy. Incidentally, the photo is also by Bastion Run Club! 🙂

Without further ado…the big race!!!

It was a GLORIOUS day to race. Sunny skies, not too cold, not windy, not raining?!! A lovely day all around. I was so happy to just be out, doing my thing. The volunteers at this race are fantastic- so cheery and fun, and encouraging. I just love them 🙂

I had a pretty significant head cold the entire week leading up the race. I was exhausted, coughing, sinus pain & pressure, ear pressure/pain that kept me from work on Friday even? And just feeling super shitty and blah. Spent most of the weekend either laying on the couch or sleeping. So sick+overwhelmed at work= success?!!

Something like that at least! I swear I wasn’t the only one blowing my nose at the start on the race.

I didn’t really have high hopes for the race. I wanted to complete it, chiefly because you have to race the half marathon to be eligible for series awards at the end of the season. Other than that, I was kind of just hoping to not collapse or something.

Off we went, and I started very conservatively. Very. Like, 4:49 conservatively, ha. And it felt hard…I kind of felt like dying for oh, the first 9km. It doesn’t help that the course is an out-and-back, and the out part is a lot of uphills. Still, I stayed present and kept an eye on people. I wasn’t ready to make any moves yet, but I could see some people who were foolishly tearing out before the 5km marker–I knew they wouldn’t last. It’s a looooong race, guys.

I grabbed electrolyte drink at 7km (bizarrely it was clear) and focused on making it up the hills between 7-9km. It was kind of horrible.

I started making my move after 11km. Then, we were flying downhill and I was feeling ok- not great, but that I could actually do this. Run a competent, solid race. I was making it happen! Fortunately or unfortunately for me, every time I tried to pick up the pace I couldn’t breathe, so it forced me to maintain a very manageable pace instead of flying and dying like I kind of wanted to…

At 18km, I felt like staggering. I couldn’t believe there was so much left. My legs were done! I felt sorry for myself until I passed the runner ahead of me. WHa?

Why is she letting this happen? Letting me pass her at 18? Suddenly I could run again, I was doing ok and making it!!! WOW! I never have that feeling this late in the game.

I cruised up to the finish line with a blistering (ha) 5:00km pace – ok, it felt fast anyways.

And I didn’t even feel that bad! WOAH!

We had the best food after too- chili, with buns and cheese 🙂 YUM!!! Oh and my husband finished with a crazy fast time- he got 1:34, while I got 1:44. I was very pleased with my time too, as this is now my personal best for the half marathon. I have a feeling that I can do better now.

MEC Race #5: The Grand Banana

And so bright and early, I didn’t hear my alarm and woke up in a panic at 7:21, freaking out at my husband. The race started at 8:30am, so I had time, but not a lot of it!

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I am actually not in this pic…And they’re off!

I got a whole lot of sleep (nope) after my two parties…So yeah I was feeling fresh, energized and ready to go (I wish). I had also eaten myself into a bad stomachache, so that was genius planning on my part too, ha. Worth it though, until I had to actually race.

We left the house, and made it to Elk Lake with lots of time. I warmed up- sort of- and it was very chilly out at the lake. Brrrrr! I kept an eye out for my friend, who was making a comeback from rehabbing her ankle over the past year, but I didn’t manage to see her until after the race.

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Faces of pain.

I wore my bunny ears, and had a ‘Playboy Bunny’ style singlet over top of my run gear. Cute eh? The bunny ears lasted…3 seconds and fell into the mud and got trampled immediately. Shoot!!

Once we were off, I was hauling ass – until I checked my watch and I decidedly…wasn’t. First KM was at 4:48, and I was trying for more of a 4:45 avg (newsflash- this was too ambitious and my level of training was NOT there).

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It was a beautiful morning.

It was really tough! I say that about a lot of my races, but here we are a few days later and my legs were just killing me. It was neck-and-neck for awhile with a few other lady runners (Cinderella in particular looked really good) and I got my ass kicked by them and a few other runners too. People were really on their game that day.

I did pretty well the first loop, alternating between feeling great and feeling like dying. I even managed a very brief ‘you’ve got this!!’ mantra, until about 8km, and then I felt so tired, and incredulous that there were how many KMs left??!! How?!!

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Dear god when will it end>!

I made it to the second loop and the wheels started falling off. I felt so tired, my knee was bugging me and I was contemplating giving up. I wanted to give up SO badly. Just…pull off to the side, let this charade go, and take it easy. It would be so easy.

Note to self- not a good mantra.

It was very seductive though…

But I dragged myself up the hilly sections. I recovered my gait after tripping hardcore a few times (yes, fellow runners were concerned and asked if I was ok!! Nice eh? I was fine, just clumsy and tired.).

I charged on, weakly.

I kept going.

I did it.

I did NOT get my ‘b’ goal time (1:45) but I was really close to it- 1:46. I’ll take it. And I will work on giving it another shot for my next half in the spring.

My friend did awesome, and I was able to meet up with her later. Her ankle held out and she ran a really strong race. She felt fresher than I did after, even! Wow!

Kudos to the MEC crew for again running a fun, well-organized race. I heard that over 700 runners were there that day!!! Compared with like, 400 last year?!!

Happy Halloween! (party recap)

So you know how I said last weekend was crazy busy? Well, that was just a warm-up for this PAST weekend. I know eh? How did I get so lucky?!!

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We had the party-  Night Shift at the Museum – on Saturday night, and after that we walked down to our friend’s place, where they were also having a party!! But first, my costume: Tippi Hendren from The Birds. The theme was ‘Hollywood Horror’ and my husband went as Donnie Darko from the film.

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The Birds- Tippi Hendren

The party? Well, I to be honest I was kind of disappointed. It just wasn’t as…flair, or fun, as last time. I was a bit bummed out. The lineups to get a drink were ludicrous, so we didn’t even grab a beer or a cocktail!

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A skeleton pirate at the museum.

The fun events from last year- the cheesy ‘Mad Scientist’ and spooky storyteller, and charms-making- weren’t there. 😦

This year they had an insect in movies talk & video clip show, which was nice, but I was…looking for more? And quite frankly, expecting more.

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Spooky mine shaft scene.

We did get to walk through the new exhibit, ‘Mammoths’ which was very cool.

All in all, I don’t think I will go for a third year in a row. Kinda been there, done that? I was very  impressed with the costumes though, very neat and a lot of effort went into that.

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I wore my famous ‘skull dress’ to work on Halloween- dress made by my mom!

After the party, we left and walked to our friend’s place. While we were walking, we were chatting about horror movies, and I was asking my husband what his fav horror movie was. We talked about ‘The Ring’ and ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’- the original- and I felt something slowly grabbing MY LEG?!!!

I was so close to a huge freakout. I looked down…And saw that the belt on my costume had come undone, and was slowly wrapping around my leg. JEsus.

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Scary pumpkin by me, happy pumpkin by Ian.

We then went to our friend’s place, and I ate SO much candy/chocolate and chips. Ugh, instead of drinking (I had a race bright and early the next morning) I got candy-drunk and boy, I do NOT recommend it…But had a fun time anyways, and my friends had some super awesome costumes too!! 🙂

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Gidget likes Halloween, except for the doorbell ringing…

My alarm didn’t go off the next morning- actually as my husband corrected me, it went off, but the radio was so quiet that we couldn’t HEAR it go of. Genius…

The story of the race recap is to be continued…

Also we did up our house for Halloween and we actually got Trick or Treaters this year! Whoop!

Race Recap: MEC Race #3 The Tape Breaker!

I ran this one solo, no friend, no husband to join me but I was fine with it. The race moved from last year, the Sooke Potholes location. I really loved the Sooke race–I was fairly new to half-marathons, and found it quite difficult and hot, but the track, the scenery, the weather…so gorgeous!

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So when they announced a new venue I was kind of feeling crabby about it.  One of my favourite races was Sooke even though my time kind of sucked last year, just because of the lovely memories of it. So how was Royal Roads going to measure up?

Well! I can say I am very glad this was was changed when I was more comfortable with running the halfs, that’s for darn sure. It was quite a bit tougher, in terms of terrain to negotiate and the hills. Oh, the hills…I assumed it would be hilly but doable, but when you start with 2k of sloping hills, and then run up Wishart Rd–kind of kills your will to live!

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I’m not gonna lie, the first 10k I was feeling pretty surly at myself. My pace sucked sucked sucked, my legs felt really dead–I looked at my watch at the start and it was saying paces like 5:37, 5:40–at the START of a race? WTF was going on? Why so slow? Well, the slow was due to hill running, genuis! hahah.

It was a combination of gravel, pavement, some road running, then hill/road running, more trail running (roots) and back to gravel. A more technical half than I am used to, but you know what? At 12k a volunteer shouted to me–”Hey you’re half way there!” And I smiled and felt instantly better. Sure I am! Funny enough, having to muscle my way up a really long/steep hill made the time pressure much less for me. I was not going to get my goal time that I got at my last half- 1:45. So I might as well enjoy the process!

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And I did! It was still very hard, I was running dead alone for most of it–not many in the middle ground like me, some very fast runners ahead of me, and slower runners behind me, but nobody with me. It could have been very lonely, but I was fine. It was a hot day, I was sweating so much it was splashing off my ponytail 🙂

I made sure to stop at every water station and drink Gatorade too. I wanted my race to feel SO much better than last time, when I felt like dying and it was horrible. And you know what? I finished STRONG! Happy! FAST! *well, you know…

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My time was 1:50 and you know what? That is totally ok. I know I am capable of faster- on a different track- but on Sunday, that was good for me. I ran a race I am happy with. Congrats to MEC for putting on another affordable, well-run race for everyone, and I love the photos too!

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A strong finish. Thanks to MEC for another great race.

I hate everyone this time of year, so I’ll join in. Riding and Race goals: 2016

Darn New Years Resolutioners, you’re the reason the gym cubbies were ALL taken at lunch, and plus all the treadmills! Don’t you know I have training to do? Do you?

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looking forward to more finish lines like this, this year!

SIGH

So, I don’t really like having goals per year, because I find I can put too much pressure on myself (this applies primarily to horseback riding, ha). BUT this year I have some very aggressive race goals. For me, obviously.

For riding, I’m hoping to keep on the positive path I have been on, and this includes monthly counseling sessions with Oats, horse shows as needed, and lots of riding lessons and jump sessions!

For racing….

For my 10k, I am really, really gunning for a 45 minute 10k. This is going to be extremely difficult for me.

For my 8k, I am tentatively looking at 35 minutes, but will also accept my ‘b’ goal of better than last year’s 8k (38:40). Here’s my update: Race time of 36:20 met my ‘b’ goal, which is ok!

For my half marathon, My ‘a’ goal is 1:45 eventually, but I will focus more on achieving my ‘b’ goal right now (1:50).

For my 5k (not even sure if I will end up even running a 5k this year??) I’d want 20:something for my ‘a’ goal, or my ‘b’ goal… will accept better than last year’s time (22:18).

For my 15k, I almost feel like letting this one slide, as I achieved my ‘a’ goal for it in the fall (sub- 15:00, got 14:33). A colleague thinks I can start working towards 1:10, but I know that is going to be a big ‘a’ goal for me this year.

And as always- protect my knee, be careful with it and remain super compliant about strengthening the muscles around it to stay in place.

And I think that’s it! I’m excited, tired and out of breath just thinking about racing. Man, it is so tough, but so worthwhile too? Ha.

And some anti-goals:

I’m not super interested in trail racing. Did it, didn’t super enjoy it. Probably won’t do any this year.

I also don’t think I will take part in the MEC Big Wild challenge next year either…Just too worried about getting seriously injured.

Some horse shows I’m just so ‘eh’ on that I won’t bother.

Also the marathon talk. I know, it’s tempting. But the time, people, the time. Also, I like to use my unreliable knee as an excuse.

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!