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.

VIRA Sook River 10k: Unfinished business?

Ah, our first 10k of the season. I wished I had run a 10k or something a bit longer before the half marathon to be better prepared but I had to wait my turn until this past weekend 😉

Photo by Joe Crazy Legs.

The course is a bit more challenging than the other 10k that is on the VIRA race roster (Cobble Hill, we missed that one) so the times do tend to be a bit softer in general. That being said, I have run this one well and very poorly in the past. I was a bit concerned about the hills- not big ones, but lots of rolling terrain and I am finding hills to be an absolute killer recently, guess they’re my weak points!

The weather was SO nice, oh man it was gorgeous. I wasn’t expecting nice- it’s been really crummy, cold, wet, rainy, windy and so blah lately. I went back to wearing gloves and vests I was so cold last week! Hence, I definitely was a touch overdressed for this race.

Running with a pack: Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell

We got there in good time, had a bit of a snafu with the race bibs running out of safety pins haha but I had extra from home so I was golden. We warmed up, and joined the start. It was a fairly non-eventful start except for one very fast runner who got tripped up and fell pretty hard. She was bleeding from quite a few scrapes! She rallied really well though. I saw another runner at the start wearing a regular bra (??) loose hair and generally didn’t look like she should have been at the start, more to the back. I was right about that…She walked about 2k. I saw her on the turnaround, well behind the packs.

Despite those, I had a good start and not much weaving.

Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

My first few KMs were quick, relatively fast paced but I did have some trouble focusing. All I could think about was the turnaround, and how many hills we were going to face on the way back…Yikes.

We headed up to the turnaround and I held the pace ok, but it was definitely really wearing on me. The hills on the way home were rough, not gonna lie. My pace dropped off and I started getting passed, a lot. I ran in a pack pretty steadily the entire way until I got passed around KM 7-9. Ian even passed me! How dare he?! (I think the real mystery is how he can run such a solid race with NO training. Man, I can’t even!!? I’m jealous).

My breathing was a bit ragged and I was sweating heavily, but happy to see the finish.

Finally the finish, wish my eyes were open! Photo courtesy of Joe Crazy Legs

I definitely didn’t rally as well as I could have (or should have??) but I know hills are my weak spot right now so fair enough Sooke, you win. I am happy with my time though! I am clinging desperately to the mirage that is under- 41:00, hahah. My chip time was 40:58, and my gun time was 41:01. Not too shabby for a girl who couldn’t break 43:XX to save her life a few years ago eh?

And that was good for 2nd in my AG and 8th woman overall. A fairly competitive field I think this year.

Best of all? CINNAMON BUNS as a post-race snack AND pizza. What a great day!!! 🙂 Lovely race, good folks, fun to catch up with everyone at the end and enjoy my (second) cinnamon bun even if I did drop it in my car and Gidget ate the rest of it hahah.

Race Recap: Port Alberni 15k Paper Chase

Ouch this one was also kind of an ego-crusher. Not because I had a really poor performance, or surprised myself with a bad race, but because it was just really hard and I was surprised at how often I got passed, particularly throughout and at the end of the race. I had no rally, apparently. Shoot!

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A beer for me after~ the best part of racing is the chance to try far-flung breweries.

I guess each year I forget how much of a killer the ‘rolling hills’ are in this 15k, and just kind of expect things to go…Well? Spoiler- they don’t really, hahah. My legs were feeling kind of trashed- 3 races in 3 weeks is a lot for me, and my legs were not responding well to the schedule. Plus I had a riding lesson the day before, also unusual for me.

I started off pretty well, optimist even! And then kind of started dreading the rolling hills…And then kind of ground it out to the turnaround, and then slowly started getting passed, steadily in fact! Ha. I just could NOT rally my legs. They were hurting, and getting tired.

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Photo by Lyndon Cassell Photography from Port Alberni. I was starting to walk away at this point, which is why I look awkward…

My goal was to stay under 4:30/km, which I kind of did? If you can count my ratio of a km at 4:22, the next one *up a hill* at 4:36, and then 4:25, and then 4:37,..and on and on. For the entire race…

I had a really bad Km at around 12…Just so uphill. I was tired, wanted to walk. I mentally gave up on that one. Rallied at 13-14, and then kind of just trudged it home and got passed within 500m of the finish line. HA. It was a stark contrast to my pretty good feeling 12km last weekend, even though I tried to catch up with some runners and they blew past me…I still felt pretty good about my efforts/finish. This race? Nah not so much.

But anyways, it was my fastest 15km yet! I ran it squeaking just under at 1:06:57. Yeah!! First in my age group (again like Cedar 12k it is a very small race, I am under no illusions that I’m some sort of super-athlete). My legs are still tired today, ha. Also it’s daylight savings and damn, it is killing me! Sooooooo tired this week.

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!

VIRA Hatley Castle 8k race recap: In a slump? Beginner’s luck?

As always, thank you to the volunteers and organizers that make a fun race happen. It couldn’t go on without their work! I love the series so much. Do VIRA races, support the local race community!

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So, this was me last year. When I actually…ran well.

I’m going to preface this possibly whiny post with the fact that I still enjoy running and my training has been going awesome! I had a great long run last weekend and felt fantastic after.

So, why then does this not translate? My races have been dumpster fires, mostly.

Now, this one wasn’t bad- I enjoyed the race, my mantra/goal for the race was ‘control’ as I wanted to run very carefully and ‘in control’ throughout the whole race.No getting run off my feet, no pushing a pace I couldn’t keep, frantic breathing, gasping for breath and choking on phlegm, dead legs. No pushing my body past what it can do.

And did I do it? YES! I ran a solid race, was paced very fairly in a good pack of runners. I even ran confidently at the slower, more controlled pace. I trusted my legs, my breathing was better (not great, but better at a slower pace) and I even felt fairly relaxed during it.

The last 1km or so was still kind of horrible and I was gasping and ready to hurl, but hey…always is eh?

And how did this controlled, focused approach do me for time? Ha. a minute and a half slower than last year. Last year I ran it in 37:19, and felt rough but doable. This year I ran it in 38:44 and felt rough but doable. What gives?

Why am I backsliding so badly this year? I’m really struggling with my races, where last year I was running faster more confidently. I want that ‘old me’ back.

This race I didn’t give in to my ‘give up’ temptation, that horrible voice in my head that eggs me on to give up, drop out, just walk. I didn’t even feel that need, because I was running a race I felt comfortable doing.

So, that was a big win. But, the nagging question for me- Why so slow?

Possibly I had beginner’s luck last year, and was running pretty great times kind of on a whim. Lucky me, then. But it’s bad because I keep wanting those times, and quite frankly expecting to get them. And I’m not.

So, I am having a tough time with it, but I am still enjoying training a great deal. I still like running, and I hope I can either turn this season around, or find a better way to measure progress, as it’s just not happening the way I wanted it to.