Fake it ’til you take it: Port Alberni 15K Paper Chase Race Recap!

In the midst of this madness…We actually had a fun Sunday! We hoofed it up (of course on Daylight Savings minus 1 hour of desperately needed sleep) to race in Port Alberni. This is the fourth race in the VIRA race series, and it is relatively new- only a few years in existence. You should have seen the sweet-ass medals we had at the first one, niiice!

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Trotting through the Mill site. Photo courtesy of the Port Alberni Chamber of Commerce.

It is a challenging course, and each year I remember getting a 15k ass-kicking. Was this year any different? Ha, not really! I felt horrible all week (thanks, severe asthma and allergies), and was just generally feeling miserable. I did not have high expectations for this race. It was really chilly when we got up at the crack of dawn to drive out there, and the beginning of the race was super cold too, but it cleared up and was pretty darn nice after!

The race is a smaller one- the drive is pretty long for folks- but it has a very generous start line, not congested at all. The vibe was pretty cheerful! 😉 Love the run community.

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Trying to get more air by like, craning my neck?? UGH! Photo courtesy of Lyndon Cassels.

It also starts going up hill, and boy…By KM 3 I was like, is this some sort of sick joke? Jesus. I was gasping, coughing up tons of phlegm and just…Kind of struggling. Like I have been every day, ha. It’s a race that has quite a few rolling hills, and then the turnaround is good, and then into the McLean Mill! You run for just over 1 KM I believe, and it’s through the woods, mud puddles (wasn’t too slippy though), and then back to the road.

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I call this one- faces of pain. Photo is courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

I struggle-ran the entire way out, and through the Mill, and then was like, hey you know what? I CAN turn it on! I am running this race, it isn’t running me! And I could pick it up. I was still gasping for breath, and in the photos you can see my neck straining mightily to breathe. That’s just my life right now, breathless, constantly. It sucks.

I felt ok though, and picked it up until the last oh, 2km? We then hit more hills that slowly dragged out my will to live… I needed some go-button help here. My husband helped me finish pretty strong though. I was happy with that! (we still got passed at the finish like we were standing still, ha.). My time was fine, good even for how shitty the week was/breathing/sickness- a 1:07:31.

I, of course, grouched that my time last year was over a minute better, but I checked again and I was wrong- my time last year was like 30 seconds better. So, fine  with all things considering. I need to be friendlier to myself and my efforts, sheesh. I finished second in my AG and 9th woman.

We had excellent chili for post-race refreshments, and everyone was in a good mood~ The sun was out, so we decided to also cruise to the Quay and check things out in good ol’ Port Alberni. We got doughnuts – they were GREAT! So fresh, great flavours and selections, and the price was right- $6 for 6, even. Steal, right??

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Maybe a silver, but I got excellent doughnuts, so who’s the real winner here??

We wrapped up the lovely day by going to a new brewery, and they had patio seating open. Sunshine, a few beers, a 15k race. What more could a girl ask for?

(ok, well a sound horse, no allergies, no injuries, a non-pandemic…but this isn’t reality).

 

Who you gonna run to? VIRA Hatley Castle 8k Race Recap!

Ok, going in to this race I felt equally hopeful and hopeless- I have kind of been alternately struggling AND doing well this race season. A true microcosm as it were. This is a challenging race, lots of hills, and I know I am not super conditioned on hills this season, since I was injured this summer.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

The day dawned blustery and rainy, cleared up for our drive and them BOOM! Promptly poured rain and blasted wind the entire race. I felt bad for the volunteers- it was sooooooo shitty out, and they are standing out there! Yeeeeesh.

The start is very narrow but I didn’t lose a ton of time there, thankfully (like, 5 seconds). It was cold and rainy, and we jetted off and I felt ok, but not great. We went up the first hill at 2-3km, and it started feeling kind of brutal. My legs and everything just felt really tired, fatigued. This is when I lean into my breathing more, and my lungs and throat are NO help this season- I have been struggling with asthma and coughing up pleghm constantly.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

So… I kind of just battled on. It was’t really great but the way this season is going, none except for Cobble Hill are, so it should not be a surprise to me.

I was happy to get to 4km, and then the out and back gravel section that kind of killed my vibe, ha. It’s just..eh. Not very fast, and I was coughing up phlegm and rattled breathing, all while having wind blasting with pelting rain my face. Lovely.

When we got to the trees/uphill trail section, I was relieved. It felt ok! Not fast, but nicer than the rain. It was quite muddy/slippery. You had to be careful. We made it to the hill (biiiiiig downhill) and I was pretty terrified of slipping and falling, but made it ok!

Then the long flat section had a few too many turns for my liking, and I kind of lame assed it to the finish. I don’t seem to have energy or lung power for a strong finish anymore, at all these days.

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I like this photo, because it shows me that even though I got passed, I ended up passing back! Photo is courtesy of Lois D’ell/Ceevacs Running.

Felt like I was going to puke at the finish, and was soaked and freezing. A good race, hahah. My friends were there too, and had some good runs with good times! My other friend is still injured sadly, which is another lesson to me- I recovered pretty quickly. It doesn’t always happen that way…A delicate balance, and one I have to keep in mind.

We had hotdogs and snacks at the finish, and my time was slower than last year (of course, all of mine are except for Cobble Hill), at 36:19, for 3rd in my AG and 11th woman finisher. Many thanks to the brave volunteers and race organizers, what a miserable day!!

VIRA Cedar 12k Race Recap!

To start off with, I don’t think my time or effort was bad during this race, it just felt… tough. And I fully accept responsibility for that, as I had kind of run a lot in the two weeks prior and didn’t exercise the discipline I needed for rest days (an ongoing struggle for me). I like running and working out! So…That’s what I did. And my legs were definitely a bit flat. Sometimes I can rally and really give it, or not. And this was more of a ‘not’…

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You can see the strain in my neck. Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell. 

The course changed last year for the better! Gone are the two mega hills and the slow, demoralizing trudge through the elementary school field to the finish. Was this a fast race for me? Nope, not really. It was quite cold out, and this year I am really having to manage severe asthma, particularly during cold weather where it flares up badly. I can manage it, but it’s not really optimal.

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At the start. Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell. 

At least I don’t feel like I am going to die!

I can actually see the strain it puts on my chest, neck and lungs in the photos, compared with my racing at Cobble Hill. I am straining as hard as I can through a tight chest, compared with smooth, flowing runs. Interesting! Just something to note.

Everyone started very fast for this race, I started ok-fast for me, but I knew I could NOT rally like the other runners. They started fast, and held it. I sure didn’t. I know my abilities right now and they aren’t there.

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Levitating! I like these pix a bit better, though I had QUITE the unibrow in them (shadows). Photo courtesy of Bastion Run Club. 

I held on for a bit, and kind of just didn’t bother looking at my watch. There is a GPS dead zone, so I knew it would be off anyways.

I kind of struggled with the rolling hills on the way out, and on the way back, perfected my patented ‘pick them off one by one’ move. Note I didn’t really step up my pace, it was just easier on the way back and I could hold it better.

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And across to the finish! Photo courtesy of Bastion Run Club. 

The finish was ok, and my time was ok. It was like, ‘eh’ alright, rather than my really jubilant and triumphant race at Cobble Hill. You truly can’t win them all! My time was ok, 53:19 though I felt it was a lot of effort again for an ‘ok’ time. That is just what I am dealing with this year. Last year my time was 52:49? and felt better too. Good for 4th in my AG and 10th woman finisher.

As always, the food was good- lots of chips! Yummy! The volunteers were excellent despite managing a lot of traffic on a busy, extremely busy main road and parking lots. Keeping us safe 🙂

 

Cobble Hill 10k Race Recap!

So this is exciting- we had a new start/finish line this year! Previously we had to jog about 700m to the start/finish, from the staging area. Not a big deal but also kind of a pain in the ass, haha.

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Heading to the finish! Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

Apparently this would also make the course flatter/faster?! Would it?? Time would tell for me 🙂

I was fresh off of feeling super irritated about my efforts at the Harriers 8k. It just…sucked. I did get proactive about it, and sought treatment for my asthma (now I am the proud owner of two inhalers- 1 rescue inhaler to use before/after racing, and 1 daily inhaler for maintenance), plus this race I made sure to take an extra half dose of my daily allergy medication just in case (wow, I sound super high maintenance these days…). So I was all set!

I also did not have great expectations. Lately my legs have felt super flat, dead, achy left knee, bad lungs/breathing…Yeah, you got the idea.

I was talking with my friend’s husband about the Harriers race and he too had a tough race- though he is VERY fast. So, it wasn’t just me riding the struggle-bus. That made me feel slightly better.

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A few of the winners- I am the shortest by a head, again. HAh!

The morning of the 10k dawned nice and warm, and what’s that? SUn? It was crazy warm for us! I was regretting wearing my long-sleeved run shirt. Now, I never regret dressing warmly, ha. It was just a gorgeous weekend! We warmed up, I took my inhaler, and we were off to the start! It was a very congested start- only half the road, so everyone was crammed to the left. I left 5 seconds on the table with that start, yikes.

We were off, and I was kind of struggling. It felt hard, definitely not easy, my legs felt tired immediately and heavy, and my breathing- despite my multiple efforts- wanted to seize. But you know what? I felt like, oh ok well this is how it is going to be then…A repeat of the 8k…And I just grimly kept running.

And it kept kind of sucking, up until about 5k. Something just CLICKED! In my body!

I felt solidified, I felt energized, I was doing it, by god!!  I gathered together my energy, and I started really running, and I mean it. I was actively racing! I honestly haven’t felt that kind of ‘try’ in my body for over a year. It was really exciting 🙂

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This photo is courtesy of Lois D’Ell. 

And I ran, and I ran. I was finally doing it!

I was running a race, rather than being run off my feet by it. I quite literally found my stride. It felt so good, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I felt to be running a race that I felt like I could actually run, rather than struggling or suffering.

I wrapped up and my time was fine- I got the same time last year and was mad, but this year, I have been trying to manage so many other health issues that to be quite honest, it made me happy! Am I back?? Maybe too soon to tell, but I felt good about it.

Chip time was 43:32, gate time was 43:37, good for 5th in my AG and 14th woman. YEah!!  A lovely day with some AMAZING food- pretzels from True Grain!!

Prairie Inn Harriers 8k Race Recap: When the problem is you

Yeah it sounds like a grim title, and it isn’t really that terrible BUT I raced on Sunday (ha before the snow really started flying!) and I wasn’t pleased with my body, my results. The race itself was fine, the volunteers are excellent and I even had pizza and cupcakes after! YEah! But during the race, I had a hell of a time trying to breathe. It felt like someone was squeezing my lungs. My throat was on fire from straining to suck in air. I was red-lining the entire race, at a pace that shouldn’t be a problem or issue for me. It was also quite windy, and we faced a real headwind and cold blowing air for a bit of the race. Fun times!

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I got passed by everybody at the finish. Wow that was humbling! 

I was just totally fried. And after the race, my damaged lungs were like, filling with fluid or something? I coughed and coughed and coughed all afternoon/night, horrible racking sounds with a deep chest rattle. I honest to god sounded like a 90 year old person with COPD or something. It was extremely unsettling and really alarmed me. In a moment of desperation I dug out my old inhaler and used it, and was finally able to breathe normally before bed.

Now, this struggle with asthmatic breathing isn’t new to me- in 2016, almost all of my races were shitty and I had some really scary incidents where I thought I was going to pass out because I couldn’t breathe- at all. Finish lines, etc. When I was running the track series, I would cough ALL night.

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I’m a fairly experienced long-distance runner with lungs that are apparently ‘superhuman’ when they were tested two years ago, so really WTF is going on? I had my lung capacity tested, stress-tested (off the charts..), and heart checked with an echocardiogram. All perfect. I ended up getting an inhaler, and regular allergy meds (I have a terrible, year-round allergic cough), and also iron pills for my extremely low iron. That seemed to fix it?

Even now, my throat feels scorched from the efforts on Sunday- and it’s Wednesday. And I still have a sort of cough.

The race was very disappointing, primarily because it felt like my body betrayed me. I tried as hard as I could, and I felt like death, for a minute slower than last year. Ironically, I ran that race with a nasty chest cold, and when I finished I coughed so hard I pulled a muscle in my ribs. ??????

It’s annoying to try so hard and get nowhere. I feel like I am going back in time, to 2016. People tell me that I need to be kinder to myself, to my body. I feel like I can’t sometimes- I want to push, to punish, to try harder, force myself, challenge myself, make myself do it.

That’s not the answer, but it has been my answer- and it worked in the past. Races are really all relative though, so who knows?! Athletic performance is always a bit of a crapshoot, haha.

So my next steps? Get a new, not two-year-old expired inhaler. And then we will see!

MEC Victoria Race 3: Halloween half marathon!

That’s right, fresh off a whole three weeks returning to running from a summer++ off, I ran a 10k and then ran a half marathon the weekend after! What am I, totally crazy?

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why am I always alone at the finish? 

Well, yes but that’s half of it. I had already signed up for the MEC half (I normally sign up for all of their race packages, so cheap and well-run, but I won’t anymore because they basically halved the races they offer and cut 2 of my favourite ones, and kept the one I hate and won’t run…soooo nope).

But anyways, I usually like this one because it’s fall, Halloween time and the air is crispy with anticipation! (or frost. Mostly frost). Plus since I traditionally have my summer-to-fall injury, I haven’t been able to run the half marathon in a year or so, and I wanted to this year!

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My kind husband came to support me and take pictures, but they were all blurry. Boo! 

I didn’t have great expectations. Hell, I just wanted to run it, see if I could finish, and then try and deal with the aftermath (injuries don’t mess around). I have also been dealing with nagging health issues, so I’m not really at the top of my game this fall.

Anyways, it went quite well! The first loop felt terrible. I was tired, we had Oktoberfest the night before, and just…EH. My stomach was unhappy, my legs felt like they belonged on someone else’s body…It was rough.

Lucky for me, I’m a strong second-loop runner though! I kind of shook off the annoyed and tired thoughts and felt- hey, it’s a gorgeous day! You’re DOING IT! Look at this! A few months ago, this was only in the realm of ‘maybe’..and I’m here!!! I felt great then, happy to be able to physically run again- and a half, with only a few weeks back into running under my belt? WOW!!

So I picked up the tatters of my morale and just ran. Pure, free, able. Running!

It also helped that I stopped getting passed by literally everybody, ha. Slow running is still kind of new to me 😉 And I felt strong going to the finish. Sure my left hip locked up, and my right foot had a sore spot on it…I was going to do it!

And I did! My time is humbling and slow, but I am happy with my efforts. 1:46 and change. Pretty sweeeeeeeet! As always, the volunteers were great, and the aid stations were well-manned and well stocked. I picked up two Clif gels but didn’t end up eating them, as the Nuun electrolytes were good enough.

I myself am good fortune: Okanagan Sunrype race recap!

Ok you guys, I did it- I made my debut back into running! This weekend was one of firsts for both of us- Ian ran his first marathon (debuting with a smoking-fast 3:15!!) and I was able to heal enough to finish a 10k- my first race in months and first successful long-ish run! Yeah!!

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A really well organized race. One for the books! 

We were at the Okanagan Sunrype Marathon (marathon weekend offered a 5k on Saturday, a 10k, half and full-marathon on Sunday), and we had the BEST logistics. Our hotel (the Prestige) was across from the City Park where the race, bib pick up and start/finish lines/awards were. How amazing is that?!!!

Unfortunately I was not feeling amazing- last week was literally death by a thousand cuts..

Monday- hideous cramping, bloating, bleeding, nausea that ruined an entire day.

Tuesday- stomach not feeling great due to the day before. My ovaries felt like someone had been punching them with knives… Oats decided he would also run away from me after my ride, and spent quite awhile racing outside the indoor arena in the freaking pitch black…Stupid horse!

Wednesday- getting a cold

Thursday- sick

Friday- off, and cramps, and nausea make a comeback along with crushing fatigue and bleeding, and still sick. YAY? Shoot me.

Saturday- cramps, bloating and bleeding, still sneezing and nose running to beat the band. Feeling kind of defeated the day before the race, but luckily our drive up to Kelowna was uneventful. We had a lovely dinner with Ian’s sister, who lives in Kelowna now and will be there for a few months.

Sunday- race day!!! I had ZERO expectations. Ha, none. From feeling completely miserable due to chronic health problems (ovaries), to being sick with a cold, and having oh, a good 2.5 weeks of actual running led me to severely limit my hopes.

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The gang! 

The race was good though! I struggled my way to the front, as the start chute was quite narrow. Some real fasties there, but it definitely thinned out to the front. I started out strong, and immediately passed a few women who were just slightly out ahead of me. I don’t normally pass people that quickly, so I was surprised. I’m more of a slow-burner…And here I was, in front of people at KM 4. Wha?

I reeled in another woman, and then this other guy and I played piggyback, until he definitely passed me at the finish, ha. I had no kick, and I could definitely tell that I was not that fit…It was exhausting! My sinuses hurt and I had a racking ‘run cough’ at the end. BUT I was very happy with how the race itself went, and pleased with my time- 44:32, which is a humble time but I guess ok for this race- I placed third AG and third overall. Sweet eh?

I had time to zip back to the hotel- excellent location! And grab my dog for the awards ceremony. A nice bronze medal for me 🙂

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Look at him go! 

And then it was time to cheer on Ian as he finished- and he did it!! He is officially a marathoner. A good, solid weekend for the two of us, for very different reasons. We then celebrated with a bottle of champagne in the hotel room with his sister, and went on a small ‘brewery’ crawl to try out the many, many breweries that Kelowna had to offer.

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Time to celebrate! 

The only fly in the ointment…The weather was TERRIBLE after the race, ha. Rainy, cold and there was basically a blizzard driving home the next day. Yikes. DO NOT want to repeat that drive anytime soon…