Tristars Sooke 10k- Race Recap!

Yes that’s right, the day after we flew back from Mexico (got into town at 11 p.m. on Saturday) we were up and ready to head to Sooke to race a 10k! We did plan it this way, because the VIRA races don’t start until 11 a.m., thank god. Even then, we had a pretty tiring journey home, complete with ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ type of mad, harried scramble, so I was pretty exhausted.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

But we got up around 9 a.m. and trekked out to the race! I didn’t have real expectations- Sooke is a rolling, hilly course and I think my best time on the course was last year, with a 44:?? Can’t quite remember what but something like that. I had my watch but it was dead, haha. So, it was freewheeling!

And I have to say, there’s something to that freewheeling. I ran by feel, started pretty quick, slowed a bit on rolling hills, played rabbit with a few other obliging runners (I passed them, then they passed me, and then I passed them again), shouted encouragement to a friend in my age-group who was running well, and just kept going.

My husband ran with me, he hurt his foot in the half-marathon so had to take it easy= running with me.

We hit the turnaround and I was still feeling pretty darn good, considering I was tired and my legs felt like freaking jell-o when I got up that morning! I cruised on, and my breathing started getting a touch more labored. I fought the urge to check my (dead) watch… We hit some more rolling hills, with a steeper incline between 7-8km that really killed my pace, BUT I still had some zip in my legs!

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

There was a bit of a headwind, but nothing terrible as we rounded 8km-9km…Homestretch here we go! I was feeling pretty confident! Best of all, my husband was able to cross the finish line with me 🙂 and I didn’t get passed at the finish chute, sometimes that happens and it is a killer, haha.

I finished with a time of 43:17, which seemed unusually fast for me, I thought the clock said 43:30 or something, maybe even 44:00- my eyesight is not great. Many thanks to the fine volunteers who kept us safe on-course on a very busy day and road. Great turnout too, and I was third in my age group 🙂 And I’m not going to complain but rather comment that the snacks selection was a tad limited and emptied out really quickly, unfortunately! The first race I have been to that had that happen. There were some really good power-balls but again, went fast.

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Hatley Castle 8k: Race Recap! (redemption run?)

To preface- my Garmin read this race as short, but I know they certify it, and I have had trouble with this area reading my Garmin correctly, soooo…But anyways, I got myself a shiny new personal best! Whoo!!

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Best of all: A finish line photo where I don’t look stupid or exhausted! YAY! Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

After the ego-crushing of last race, the much-awaited Cobble Hill 10k, I was kind of not super feeling this one. I thought it was quite frankly going to be an ass-kicking of a race, and not a fast one for me. It is VERY hilly, notoriously so, and just…Not fast. Gravel, mud, some ice and snow leftover from our incredibly lousy February (which continues..), and you know the drill= run for conditions. And I did!

I didn’t tone down for this race because I had missed running due to all the snow and ice. Which, in my defense, I really enjoyed running again so at least it felt worthwhile? But between that, and my adventure on the Saturday with a lesson with Sam at Fairlawn, my legs/body were tired.

The morning of the race my legs felt tired walking upstairs. Greeeeeeat. Oh well! I got to the race nice and early, and it started snowing. Ahh..Shit. It was very cold, and I was dressed fairly conservatively, with long sleeved zip-up, long race tights and gloves. I was shivering at the start though! Yikes! This weirdly would change about midway through the race, when the sun came out and I got hot? Hah.

We were off though, and I tried to balance between going fast, and not burning myself out. Up and over the first hill and I was kind of stuck in a pack of people going slower than I wanted. ARgh! Down the hill and over the next hill, things started evening out a bit better. I played rabbit with a few runners, which was cool!

The hills weren’t feeling too bad, I think my legs were a bit used to them or at least they weren’t complaining too hard. I was seriously out of breath though, just gasping. I was annoyed, thinking it was my allergies but in retrospect, it was probably just because I was hauling ass and breathing hard.

I slipped, hard, a few times. Once on the snow and ice, and another time in the mud. I am not that agile and pretty clumsy, actually. However I didn’t fall! Yes! Victory!?

We were up and around the hill, and then pelting downhill for awhile. This was great, until there was more mud, and then it was scary. I was afraid of slipping again! I kind of skipped/slid over it and then we were on the flat gravel straightaway. It’s not that quick, but you can still make a good show of it. I did…Sort of.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

I ran through the finish and done! A time of 35:36, for 5th in my age group and maybe 13th female finisher? And best of all, a minute faster than my time last year! 🙂 I wrapped up the day by chatting with a few other runners, and grabbing a hot dog and M&Ms. Yum! Thanks again to the VIRA organization, Frontrunners for hosting the race, and the volunteers who put up a brave front in the face of snow/ice and freezing temperatures and wind!

MEC Race #3- Royal Roads- a half marathon with a reputation!

Not gonna lie, I was less than enthused about running this race. Last year it went really horribly for me- I was struggling with mystery asthma symptoms (struggling to breathe, felt like something was crushing my chest and I was gasping) on and off that whole year and hill running made it worse… So that race was hot, horrible and I thought I was going to collapse during it. I walked, a lot which psychologically is kind of tough.

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At the start. Brrrr. Can you see me? Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

My time last year? 2:10 or so. Ha. It’s a hilly and quite technical half, with very steep uphill climbs and downhill ‘jaunts’ that are just murder on your legs. My first time running it (it’s a quite new race, only three years now) I ran it in 1:50 and was kind of shell-shocked, haha.

It’s not a true trail race but there are lots of trail sections, and a loooong flat section (2km) along the Lagoon that is good on paper but a total mental dead zone when you’re running, complete with a pace-killing headwind the whole way.

Soooo yeah, I was not thrilled about this race, particularly since I was wrapped up in a crazy busy weekend with absolutely no downtime. But we picked up our bibs on our way to Hopoxia and it was ON! The race started at 8:30am and it was freezing at Royal Roads. I was shivering and wearing my jacket zipped up to my neck and didn’t want to take it off until we actually started. Ian took it from me (his race started at 9am).

And we were off! Started a bit late due to technical difficulties. I saw some people jump around and generally just waste energy (in my cranky opinion) do a quick fade out at 1km. Oh yeah and the start goes pretty much straight uphill, ha. It’s a pace-killer for sure.

Still, I thought let’s just see how this goes… I ran conservatively, but with the hills, you pretty much only have 1 choice- run conservatively or die.

I cruised up on a few women runners, saw one on the out-and-back at like 2-3km that I thought looked strong (she passed me shortly before the out and back) but I figured if I ran well I could catch her.

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Finishing strong. Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

After that, I just didn’t worry about it. I spent a lot of time worrying about the really steep hill climb after the Lagoon though… I paced with this one runner for close to the entire race, haha. And he was a big guy! We’d play a bit of leapfrog up and down, but I lost him at the second loop at the big hill. Too bad, because I was impressed at his stamina.

I generally just kept running and didn’t think too much about anything. It was cold and windy, we had to jump over a downed telephone pole, the hills made my legs feel weird (like, they were kicking out wildly when I was going downhill and I wanted to shout at my legs ‘hey get with the program!!’) and I think that was just because going from uphill-downhill was straining the leg muscles.

I passed the other girl at like 5-6km? And then it was just a run where I had to keep my legs and my head in the game, haha. I didn’t let myself walk up the big hill- BOTH times I kept running (so slowly it was like walking, ha). My right knee this time was bugging me BIGTIME. I was worried going into the second loop, no lie. The downhills in particular were bad.

At the finish I felt quite strong, though my legs hurt quite a bit and felt super stiff and sore. We did it! My redemption race, in full colour.

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The winners! It was freezing though. Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

With a respectable time of 1:41 I placed second woman out of a small field (this half doesn’t tend to attract the numbers the other MEC races do, and particularly not for a half this nasty). 38? Women I believe finished the race. But it’s not really the placing that matters to me–it’s that I managed to do it, and ran a strong race for me. That’s the biggest joy of all! 🙂

 

 

VIRA’s Sooke 10k Race Recap: On the homestretch!

There are 8 races in the VIRA Race Series and we wrapped up race #6 on the schedule- the infamous Sooke 10k. It’s a bit infamous because it is hilly. Not a technical race (none of the VIRA ones are, they are all road races) but has gentle rolling hills that can be a bit of a pace-killer. It’s not known for being a fast 10k, but can net some fast times with the speedier racers.

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And was I one of them? Ha nope. BUT I had a lot of fun running it, and my goal of meeting 45 minutes was more than achieved soooo it’s a win all ’round here! I was very pleased with my efforts. No complaints here.

It was a very busy week for me- ran the Comox Half Marathon on Sunday, then got into my regular schedule of running/run-commuting to work for the week & preparing Oats for the horse show on Saturday.

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Ian was my pace rabbit for this race and he netted himself another 6th place!

I was very anxious about the horse show, not so much for this race, haha.

The show went SO AWESOME then I couldn’t relax because I was so excited with how Oats and I did! But I realized I had to quiet things down to get ready (physically and mentally) for the race on Sunday. Back-to-back races are very hard on your body, and I knew I was not setting myself up for success by horseshowing on Saturday as well. But I couldn’t resist!

Fortunately the weather was great, sun was shining and I didn’t have to get up early (phew). We warmed up and I knew this was going to be tough on my poor tired legs. At the start, after about 3km I was struggling a bit. My right quad was SO TIGHT it seized up most unpleasantly and I started to wonder if I was going to be able to run on it.

Lucky for me, the suffer-fest only really continued to about 6-8km and then I was able to turn on my ‘afterburners’ and start really racing. Funny how my leg didn’t really bug me for that? I felt pretty good and started really going. I don’t know why the most of the first half/onwards of the race were so crummy but hey, I was going to do it!! And boy I did!

I finished strong, feeling good physically and emotionally for a fairly respectable 44:30 time. This netted me a second-place age group award. Crazy eh??? From a fantastic horse show to a really solid race, this weekend had me riding in the clouds! 🙂 🙂

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It says ‘fart’ hahaha

I am going to savour this feeling forever. It feels amazing.

We then went to have a post- race beer at a new brewery in Sooke, called Sooke Brewery (imaginative ha). It is a snazzy brewery with some solid, but not too imaginative beers. I did enjoy the Belgian Lager though! Felt nice to have after a tough race.

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!

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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!

VIRA race recap: Port Alberni Paper Chase 10k!

An exciting new race for me, and for the VIRA Island series, them bringing back an older race that hadn’t been in rotation for years- the last Paper Chase was in 2002. This made up race #5 for my husband and myself, as we had a series of MEC and VIRA races all stacked up against each other.

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My first VIRA medal. And probably my last, ha. Photo courtesy of Ceevacs Roadrunners.

We prepared for the haul out to Port Alberni and the weather was fabulous! Chilly but blue skies and sunshine. A welcome change from the kind of drab grey misery/constant bone-chilling wind we seem to be having this ‘spring’…

I was starting to feel sicker though. Another cold was brewing pretty strongly in my head and now, chest. I feel HORRIBLE as of today, Wednesday April 5. But on Sunday I was just coughing a lot and had sinus congestion, nothing too bad, so I figured I could race but it might be a bit rough. Oh, it was.

The course description was a tad misleading- as fast. Ha, maybe the downhill parts! It was also a lot of rolling hills, and the up parts of those hills just killed me. Phew, I kind of wanted to quit at 4km again and found it very challenging to get into the rhythm. My paces were lousy on the uphills and decent on the down.

I resigned myself to running ‘my race’ and let ideas of pace go. And, I actually managed to enjoy myself in between ragged breaths for KM’s 7-8. KM 9 sucked, but 9-10 was quite good! I even felt pretty warm at one point, with sunlight blazing down on us.

The race was a small one, with just over 250 people registered and only 15 in my age category- not often that happens! And as it were, I placed third in my age group with a time of 47:09. I wasn’t super proud of that time, but you know? This is me right now. I’m struggling more with head and chest colds, chronic allergies, exercised-induced asthma and fatigue/exhaustion, so I have to be fair to myself and with the effort I am putting out. Me last year is not the same as me this year.

I am fighting with feelings of ‘why isn’t this year as good as last year’ but you know what, who cares! I am doing it and that is what matters.

The volunteers are fantastic, the food was the BEST- candied salmon seafood chowder and two types of chili- I had the seafood chowder myself and it was great! We had yogurts, Milk 2 Go and muffins, buns and cookies, with fruit and veggies.

I’d highly recommend checking this one out- smaller turnout, tough but doable course and great food at the end. We also checked out the brand-new Twin Cities Brewing, in Port Alberni, for a post-race beer 🙂

MEC Race #2: 10k trail run at Thetis Lake

Now, this one truly took me by surprise. I came into it very nonchalant…I wasn’t going to even wear my watch (I did) but I certainly wasn’t going to fuss or stress about the time. Trail races for me just aren’t competitive- you can’t go fast enough, reliably enough. I also kind of thought I was aware of the route, and BOY that was a surprise too~

You want to run a half marathon, but can’t commit to the distance or time? Well I have a solution for you- run this race and trust me, it will FEEL like a half marathon by the time you’re done 🙂

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First lap- looking good! Photo credit to MEC.

It was tough.

I’m not complaining though. You get your time, effort and money’s worth for sure! My only complaint is that for a trail race, it was SUPER congested. Packed with people, impossible to find parking, waits for the porta-potties and bag check. UGH. That’s what happens when over 700 people show up, I guess?

We were almost late too, eek! Darn MEC races, I am always almost late or late to them.

We made it to the start by, oh 2 minutes. EEEK

Off we went, and I found my first km fairly slow- 5:40 or so. Ian was ahead of me by a bit, and he finished in around 58 minutes.

Hm, that is slow. Little did I know that was going to be my fastest KM! HAHAH. Next, it was hills, hills, hills. Then, some winding single-track in the mud. THEN we had to clamber through the mud, and hop past a log- or straight over it. I pussyfooted all of the mud stuff and was super slow clambering downhill. Trail racing is fun, but I can’t afford to injure my knee or ankle at this point, for a silly trail race.

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Second lap. Getting tough…Photo credit to MEC.

People BLASTED past me in the mud, splashing, etc and tore downhill. That was ok, I watched, waited and bided my time…to pass them on the final loop (the course was two loops of the 5k course). It did range from fairly easy and straightforward, to technical single-track and very muddy, slippery and tricky. My shoes were soaked with mud, I landed hard and bent my right ankle three times in a row (shit).

The loops ends with a series of hills- like, 3. Ha. Then we ran past the beach to start the second loop. In the first loop, when we reached the hills, my breathing was terrible. I felt sick, and hyperventilated a bit. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, that I was struggling to breathe, that I had a weight sitting on my chest. It was kind of horrible…I couldn’t seem to calm down?!!

By the time I started the second loop, my body seemed to figure out the breathing thing and I completely forgot about my panic and nausea. Weird eh? I kind of fell into a better rhythm by the second loop and was chugging along.

I was soaked in sweat and pretty exhausted, but the volunteers kept it very safe, watching the risk points that were really slippery or technical. I felt cocky going in and very humbled finishing!

I finished with 1:04:33 good enough for 5/24 in my AG.

Not shabby, and it was fun!

It was also FREEZING when we finished, so glad I packed a toque. WTF Victoria, get with the program and I don’t know, warm up or something for spring? I changed into my breeches and rode right after the race. Thetis Lake is actually like 5 mins from my barn so how is that for timing?! HAHA. Horribly cold though, ouch.