MEC Race #2: Royal Roads Half-Marathon Recap! (and this time, I won!)

I was having a difficult time mentally preparing for this race. I had a really shitty day on Saturday and was having trouble getting my head in the game.

It’s a challenging half-marathon course, two loops and the start is uphill for about 3km, and then flat-ish, and then some rolling hills, and then a looooooooong flat section of about 2.5km, and then .75km or so straight uphill. And you get to do it twice! Yeah! Sign me up?!

I am very familiar with the course, but like any race you run once a year, you kind of …forget…exactly how it goes. For example, I forgot about the uphill start and was kind of kicking myself/bummed about how off-pace and hard I had to work pretty much immediately. Oh joy! I also forgot my watch, so was running by feel. Which worked out ok!

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Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

It was a warm day, no watch, and my friends were at the race so that was cool to be able to see them, cheer them on and say hi! They were also running the half-marathon. I was very careful to stay hydrated and make sure I was fueled appropriately. I have run into real trouble at this race by getting dehydrated and significantly under-fueled, leading to staggering, and walking/feeling like I was going to die during the race. I had waffles, coffee, yogurt and a banana for breakfast, and brought with me a whole package of Clif Gummies (Salted watermelon) that had electrolytes in it. I even managed to eat most of the package before the race- not something I can normally do.

So the race?

I ran it, it ran me, I had some fun high points (jumping over a log! Getting electrolyte drinks, high-fiving the volunteers and hearing them say I was the first lady!!) ๐Ÿ™‚ and some lows (immediately at the start when it felt hard, at the top of the big hill knowing I had to do it exactly over again, struggle-bus time).

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Note no left sock! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

I was sweating like crazy, and I knew I had to beย very good about getting electrolyte drinks and water at every stop. Score one for me!

When I started, my damn sock immediately slipped down to my mid-foot. Shit! I stopped (and this was ONE km in…) and pulled it back up. Got back to running and it slipped down again immediately. Ok fine sock, this is how you want to play it? I ran the whole race without a sock on my left foot. Went ok, have a blister now though ๐Ÿ˜‰

When I crossed the finish line, I was really glad to see my time was even better than last year (note- this is NEVER a guarantee. Never.). I raced at a very respectable 1:38:58, for the first woman! My first-ever MEC win! And then I went straight to the medic tent to get a band-aid for my freaking blister.

And something strange, when they announced the 2nd and 3rd place women (who weren’t around), I immediately knew something was up- I never saw them on-course. And I mean, never. It’s a small race. I was talking to the 4th or 5th place woman, who was confused by her placing…I remembered seeing her a bunch of times, about 1:30-2 mins behind me, but NEVER 2nd and 3rd women, who were apparently even closer behind me, according to the race results.

So I did some digging when I got home, and saw that their previous race times at other MEC races were slow- very slow. Like, 1:40+ for 10k slow. There is no way they ran a 1:40 half right behind me- I never once saw them on course.

I suspect they ran 1 loop of the course, and ran through the finish lines. Whether they had signed up for the 10k and accidentally started with the halfs, or had signed up for the half and decided to cut it short, it seems a bit devious to me. I think that they should own up! It sucks for 2nd and 3rd women, who did really well on a very tough course.

So, some intrigue eh??

I’m curious to see the photos come out- photos don’t lie on a race day!

 

 

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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,ย 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 wasย 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Take yourself with you: Crazy weekend recap~

So yeah this weekend…Wow. I am SO TIRED right now.

And this is with taking Monday off~ Yikes!

We kicked things off with a UVic Young Alumni music bingo event at Moon Under Water brewery. It was actually really fun, and I had a blast listening to all these hits from the ’80s to ’90s. There was free food (and lots of it, and it was great!) and a good atmosphere. We didn’t win at bingo but had a nice time and the night flew by.

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It was colder this year but at least it wasn’t raining!

Saturday I went riding (it was ok) and then we went to Phillips’ Backyard for Hopoxia- and we had a blast! Tried some really cool beers, Tod Creek Cider was there with a raspberry-infused cider. We walked home and took it easy, because the next morning was the MEC half-marathon! I will write about that in a separate post, but it went really well for a quite challenging and hard race.

After the race, we went riding- and I rode in the indoor because the footing was pretty deep/chewed up in the outdoor AND Oats was a total looney tunes- spooking, high alert and bolting across the outdoor when a kid was walking along the fence line. Sheeesh…

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He was ok in the indoor, which was good because we then had to get home and get ready for Ian’s dad’s birthday BBQ! Ian bbq’d some great burgers for all of us (his mom, dad, and sister) and pork tenderloin, and we listened to music and hung out on the patio. It was really nice and for once I wasn’t frozen solid!

I ate way too much, adding to my general sluggy feeling of eating/drinking way way too much this entire weekend. I went to bed pretty early as I was feeling totally wiped after the race, riding and hosting the BBQ.

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We saw a building being demolished!

And that was good, because on Monday I got up and had a riding lesson! It went really well, and we practiced releasing tension. It was a nice ride and for once I didn’t feel stressed or anxious. Just lovely! I ended up waterproofing some blankets and I’m sure I inhaled too much silicone spray, because I had a nasty headache for the rest of the day.

But my ‘weekend’ wasn’t over yet! We had the Stars concert at (WAY TOO LATE) as it turns out…they didn’t hit the stage until 10pm! I didn’t get to bed until almost midnight. Boy am I paying for it today, I feel like total shit. But, the band was amazing, and I loved seeing them again- just a great energy and the lead singer- Torquil Campbell- was on fire! He rocked!!

But yes. so tired. So very tired.

MEC race #4 Recap~10k

Back to the Sooke Potholes for another race! We hadn’t been back since the MEC Race half-marathon was hosted there (since moved to Colwood for two years now!) so it felt good to be back at Sooke, despite a few tricky logistics. It’s further to get to, the race is hosted pretty high up the road so you have to park, hoof it ages to get there or take the bus. We took the bus! And we still BARELY made it to the start, no warm-ups or anything haha.

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Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

The bathroom lineup continues to be basically my nemesis. ARGH. I was also a bit miffed because I thought I had signed up for the 15k and was surprised to find myself with a 10k bib. How did that happen?!

Oh well, guess I’m running a 10k now.

The race was run really well, otherwise. Started on time, not too crowded at all, very reasonable pacing on my part (read: slow) and my breathing wasn’t out of control. I ran very conservatively and was kind of afraid of getting short of breath…

But in the end, it was fine. I am slow now, slower than I would have thought and mannn it sucks. But, this was a decent training race and I always like the opportunity to be back out in Sooke again, running on the gravel trails! So flat! ๐Ÿ™‚

And thanks as always to the great crew at MEC, snacks at the end of the race and the fabulous photos of the race. My favourite part!

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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.

So easy to do, and so easy not to do: MEC Rust Buster 10k race recap!

So yeah this race….

Going in, I had planned to run it at a slower pace and use it as an appropriate training run. I wanted more ‘go button’ at the end, I wanted to be able to breathe/not feel like dying during it, and I wanted to save myself for my bigger race this upcoming weekend.

Newsflash: Basically none of those things happened. It was a huge struggle bus, I let my ego get the best of me, and I kind of hated the whole race.

I was planning for an avg. of 4:45/km, but that started feeling reallyย hard? What exactly was going on? Why was I struggling so badly? It was FREEZING out. Frost covered everything, I was absolutely dying in the cold, and my hamstrings- which don’t normally bother me- were tight as hell and twinging with every step. My legs were exhausted, my breathing sucked out loud- every breath I took in, I choked on phlegm. In short, I was miserable.

A few mistakes I can identify off the top- while I wasn’t overly pleased with my race strategy last weekend at the 8k- it overall wasn’t a bad race and I got my best 8k time yet. That was a tough effort, and I shouldn’t have expected the 10k to go that smoothly…

I expected the pace to feel easier and when it didn’t, I beat myself up.

I was struggling mightily with the cold and never warmed up.

I stayed up late-ish drinking wine with a friend (it was a great time! So sue me haha)

I felt like I was getting run off my feet even at a slower pace- and my ego dictated that I keep trying, instead of just…oh, slowing down? dummy!

I wanted to give up, give up, give up.

And so ends the saga of my worst 10k time in two years- 47:14? Ah…running is very humbling. But, I would like to shout out to my friends who ran VERY good races. One of them is even back to racing after a life-threatening battle against cancer. I’m so impressed by their sheer force of will and tenacity.

It reminds me that any day I can run is a good day! And any race is kind of gamble- either you have it that day, or you don’t. Either way, I get to run ๐Ÿ™‚

And thanks to the volunteers who make the MEC race run so smoothly. I’m always so pleased with the coordination, the ease of bag check/pickup, course is always safe & well-timed and good post-run snacks. Yes, more please!

Better luck next time.

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?!!