And just like that…It’s over. Cedar 12K Race Recap & VIRA Series Finale!

Wow. Six weeks. Six races in a row. It’s done and wrapped up as of yesterday.

17917971_1317005468383162_267115409136982754_o

Photo by Lois D’Ell with Ceevacs. The awards line-up at Cedar 12k.

Crazy.

This season has been extremely challenging- I struggled with breathing very early on, experiencing exercise induced asthma, and then got a mystery foot injury that made running very difficult at the Cobble Hill 10k. And then, a series of colds that culminated a pretty nasty chest cold last week/this weekend to top off the season! Not my most shining season, 2017, at all. This sickness affected a whole bunch of races- the Sooke 10k, my half marathon, the Port Alberni 10k, the Cedar 12k (I was feeling fine for the MEC trail 10k but it wasn’t a fast one for me).

33905885246_c166c448e8_o

Photo credit to Neil Gaudet.

However, at the outset my goal was clear- finish. FINISH. ALL of my races. And did I achieve that goal? You bet I did!!

33560107010_f448ba515f_o

Basically sums up how I feel about finishing 6 races in 6 weeks. Photo credit to Neil Gaudet.

I even placed the same as last year (5th) for the VIRA Series year-end awards. Whoop!

The Cedar race for me this year was significantly slower (58:3?) compared with 56:14 last year. Ouch!!! But, my primary goal was to try and finish it without coughing out my lungs/collapsing, so did I achieve my goal? Yes I did! We tried to pace very responsibly, and even with a pretty quiet pace, I found it quite hard. My legs were aching and exhausted, but luckily my breath kept going and I did it. I even found enough energy to surge forward in a few moments, something I thought would NOT be happening. And, I was pleased to pull out a strong finish, assisted by my husband. A great end to a very tough season.

IMG_0119

Muddy shoes after the MEC 10k.

The food was great, I won a doorprize>!! And the volunteers were fantastic. Cedar 12k is a really well run race, so I would highly recommend it.

Though it’s easy to look back to last year and feel bummed out. It is VERY humbling and kind of anger-inducing to think of what a freaking trainwreck this run season has been for me, particularly after I was looking forward to it all summer/fall, but you know…I am uninjured, relatively healthy after being sick for so long, and that’s all I can take right now.

IMG_0123

Big wrap up for the season at Riot Brewery in Chemainus.

Turns out living with extreme pressure and stress just destroy your capabilities to recover, run well, manage your health and wellness and sleep–and I learned exactly how important that was this year. Live and learn!

IMG_0099

Enjoying a beer at Gladstone Brewery in Comox after the half marathon.

I must thank my great husband for supporting my runs, coming with me, and best of all- taking me to try new breweries after many of our races! We went to the Sooke Oceanside Brewery, the Riot Brewing Company, and Twin Cities Brewery- all brand-new! How lucky were we??

IMG_0121

Ian at Riot Brewery post-race Cedar 12k.

We also visited Category 12, which he really enjoys. I like beer- I don’t love it, but I do love the social aspect with it (much like wine…).

Here’s to a good season that challenged me in ways I never though possible. I am looking forward to a break, and I thank the VIRA organization for putting on another great, competitive season that I always recommend to other people! YAY.

Advertisements

VIRA race: Sook River 10k recap!

This was a very oddly timed race, chiefly because in past years (this is my third year with the series) it was run as the last race in the series & the series awards was hosted after it. In late April, so it was always quite warm and downright hot sometimes! I have very fond memories of wearing shorts and tank tops to  run in.

12931102_10100532848156046_7509336395775593645_n

For example, this was Sooke last year.

This year, it was moved originally to early Feb., and the race awards series was moved to Cedar 12k in later April. That didn’t work out so well, as our weather this year has been absolutely nightmarish and it snowed too much! The race was rescheduled to March 12th instead and I am happy to say, went off without a hitch!

puddle

Splashdown! They sure weren’t kidding! Photo credit to Run Vancouver Island.

Sooke River 10k is a funny race. Lots of hills, ups and downs, and this year it featured a ‘water obstacle’ of a 14ft ankle-deep flooded section of the road. So yeah it always is an exciting race. The organizers did check the water carefully and warned us to bring extra dry socks and shoes, they weren’t kidding about it and it really was that deep, that big and we had go to through it TWICE! ha.

Splashdown! They were not kidding about the puddle!

This photo was taken by Run Vancouver Island.

I wasn’t feeling well last week, with a sore throat and swollen neck, so I wasn’t overly surprised when I woke up on Saturday AM with a head cold. Lovely.

That meant that I was going to have to be extra-good about sticking with my goal for this 10k- run conservatively, don’t blast off the start, and run paces you can focus and breathe at. Since my head felt like it was stuffed with wool, a sore throat and pressure building in my ears & sinuses, this was going to be tough but if I stuck to the plan, doable.

And it was~ It felt weird at first to be going that slow at the start. And then it got tough. And then we splashed through the puddle at the turnaround and my feet (soaked) started to feel like blocks of concrete…

Not gonna lie, I kind of dragged ass the last 5k. My feet were doubly soaked and I felt tired. However, my pace was fine (if conservative) and it allowed me to maintain quite well throughout the course.

I sprinted sort of to the finish, and that was honestly the worst go of it I had. I went through the finish gates and immediately had trouble breathing, gasping and struggling. I did take my rescue inhaler before the race, but my lungs were doubly compromised by my head cold and WOW that did a real number on them with my ‘sprint’. Bad idea- I couldn’t breathe, it felt like my lungs were clutched in a tight fist.

I walked a bit, gasping, and then it released.

It made me SO glad our 5k (which went really well) was last weekend. There is  no way I could, or even should, be sprinting when my lungs are compromised this badly.

It was an important lesson for me, and I got to feel what a real, if very brief, asthma attack feels like. Scary!

Anyways, post-run pancakes were great! And I bought a bunch of stuff, haha. The Victoria Marathon Society is now hosting the race, and for a fundraiser they were selling New Balance gear- technical t-shirts, 3/4 zip-ups, for a FANTASTIC price. I bought everything they had in XS, they had very limited selection but it was so cheap! A long-sleeved technical t-shirt for $10, and a 3/4 zip up for $20. Steal of a deal!!

17218354_1285222831561426_1520293937832780180_o

Me in the awards lineup with my New Balance 3/4 zip. I love it! Photo credit to Ceevacs Roadrunners.

And my finish place for the race? Not bad! There were a lot fewer race entrants this year, so my time of 47:22 netted me 5th out of 16. That is my slowest time ever  on this course, but hey I will chalk it up to training, and my health being impacted. Plus I have to save my energy for next weekend.

Race recap #2: MEC The Best Getter

Yep that’s right, what better than moving, racing on Saturday, and then racing on Sunday? NOTHING! That’s what!

29214762540_e51efbe8c5_o

Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria–I love this shot!

I had originally signed up for the 15k, as I did it last year and 15ks are surprisingly hard to find these days, but because I was a lazy slob on holidays in Brazil and didn’t do any runs or knee workouts, my chronic knee injury (patella instability/subuluxation) flared up bigtime as soon as I started running again at home (yeah, I make great decisions).

So, I downgraded-ha- to the 5k. Let the games begin!!!

28878688684_4869ce199a_z

I have no idea what I was doing here- a really funny high-five?

I also liked that the 5k started at 9am. I really didn’t want to get up too early, so sue me–I haven’t been sleeping well in my new townhome for some reason. Maybe because it feels so different and strange?

28878693174_f08afdf0a6_z

More high-fives!!

We got there smoothly, it was no problem at all. We even had time to warm-up, which is something I pretty much never do, for some bad reason. I was a bit concerned with my knee issues and the fact that I had run up Mt. Doug the day before, but was also interested in giving it my all and seeing how I could challenge the 5k. And wow, I was challenged!!

28881430523_bd2f1b68d9_o

And they’re off!

I made sure to start near the top of the pack, and held a ridiculous pace for all of…1km (4:08, hahahah yeah no way). I was immediately out of breath, gasping. My next km plummeted to 4:32, which is what I typically run 10ks at, and it still felt really HARD. I bounced between 4:21-4:33 for a few kms, until the last km that I just.couldn’t.make.it.happen…and fell to 5:00. Wooow…not good. I got passed by two runners in the last km and I couldn’t make the time up at all.

I was gasping for breath, coughing up stuff and just, gross. I know 5ks are among my weakest distances, but I was still a bit bummed about how tough it felt for me.

29214760090_7d81cb715f_o

Leading the pack for a short time.

And how was my time? Surprisingly pretty good–22:15, and my previous 5k time was 22:17. So technically, a new personal best in the 5k–something I can’t complain about given how I had abused my legs running Mt. Doug the day before, and was generally exhausted from moving that week. I’ll take it, 5k…I’ll take it.

29214766110_00cedb1d83_o

Faces of pain…

I still kind of hate that distance though. I was feeling jealous of the 15k runners.

Kudos to the MEC Victoria team for putting on another well-run, super affordable, safe and friendly race. I will always support them for the fabulous effort they put into these race series–consider me a fan!!

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!

27912986876_8a5f19f47c_z

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!

27842505162_ab86364a71_z

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!

27845714852_33b19cfccf_z

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…

27843082052_03ca5e95f1_z

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!

27954518541_8369b04129_z

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

Merville 15k race recap!

Yup, time for another race recap. We haven’t raced since our run in Comox at the half-marathon, so I was curious about how this one would feel. I’ve never raced a 15k before, in fact, only trained to run 15k once! (While we were building up our mileage for the half-marathon, actually). So…I went into this one cautiously optimistic, but still wanting to be realistic.

15k and done!!

15k and done!!

You may be asking, where is Merville? Good question! Merville is a tiny collection of houses and farms (TONS of horse farms, to my delight!) about 15 minutes north of Courtenay/Comox. It is also sort of the same area as my favourite berry winery, Coastal Black, in the Black Creek area. It is approximately 3.5 hours from Victoria, so it was a bit of a trek for us, and included an overnight stay at my in-laws farm, which they have been very gracious about.

It's true

It’s true

We met at the Merville community centre, which is tiny! The race itself started down the road a ways, which kind of meant we had a mandatory warm up, and at the end of the race, cool-down, to get back to the community centre (food!!).

The course was good: Flat, the road wasn’t too slanted, which is what gave us trouble during the half-marathon, and we managed to get out ahead of the slow crowd fairly quickly. I felt good, strong and fairly ‘floaty’ for 5km, and then between 5-9 still felt fairly good…But at around 10-11km, my left knee started twinging VERY unpleasantly. I have a super-wiggly kneecap, and when my legs get tired, they stop supporting it and let it fly off to the left- and yes, it is as painful as it sounds!

My legs were getting tired, the pavement felt like it was starting to drag down my feet (running in quicksand??) and bam! My knee was starting to let me know it was not ok.

From 11km-15, I was cursing and sort of starting to limp and just hoping hoping hoping I could finish. I was so close, I could almost taste it! This is also when the course started devolving into an open road, and the traffic situation was getting a little…hairy!

I somehow (on a prayer basically) managed to make it to the 100m sprint lined by a alleyway of flags!! It felt very special haha. I was gasping and heaving by the end, it was not a pretty sight. They had port-a-potties at the end (thank GOD! I had to pee the entire race gahhh!) and water, oranges, bananas and gummi bears. I grabbed a bunch, and we made our way back to the community centre for a delicious lunch.

The soup they offered was sooo good- I had beef/barley, and Ian had butternut squash. Yum! We ended up leaving shortly afterward to hit up the Cumberland Brewery for a post-race beer (and they were so awesome, I highly recommend visiting that brewery if you’re up-island. Good beer, great folks, nice place!!).

Post-run beer at Cumberland Brewery

Post-run beer at Cumberland Brewery

And the best news? This was not quite as competitive a race (fewer runners) so I placed 10th out of 21 with my time of 1:17:34 (chip, not bib time) and Ian placed 5th out of 7 but his sprint was 8th overall- out of like 275 runners! Crazy eh!!? The biggest zinger for me was that I got beat by the 9th place runner by 1 second?!! Oooooh!

Race recap: My first 5k at Bazan Bay.

Yes, funny enough I’d never raced a 5k- ever! Went straight to 10ks (honestly, because my work was paying for it one year and so I decided to give it a try and was kind of hooked), but never the 5ks.

Beautiful day to run

Beautiful day to run

This year though, has been a year of trying new distances. So far I’ve done a fun 8k, a good 10k, and a brutal 8k. Now to conquer the 5k. Sort of…As I was complaining about vigorously earlier last week, I have a head cold that seems bound and determined to ruin my life, I’m still coughing up grossness, sinus pain, weird pressure in my ears that makes me feel like I’m living in an echo chamber, incredible fatigue, joint pain…You get the idea.

So, ideal for a faster race, right?

Not so much. Nevertheless, I was aiming for a good time- 22 minutes I figured was doable.

I was still coughing and the pressure in my ears was driving me NUTS but oh well! Off to the start we went, and some girls shoved in front of me (rudely) but hey we’re all friends here…I just didn’t love the ‘bro-talk’ that they had going on. Posturing and stuff- leave it to your own brain, thanks. I don’t need you going ‘I’m gonna PB this one!’ or ‘I’m gonna crush it!’ or, looking pissed off, ‘Can you get OVER this?’ Which I kind of figured they were less than impressed at having to shove past ‘slow folk’ to get where they were in the lineup…Hello, I passed them like 1km in, jeesh…

The only time I'm taller than Ian

The only time I’m taller than Ian

Anyways, the start was SLOW. UGH. I rebounded off about 3 people accidentally because they just weren’t picking up the pace at all. Got my stride, and coincidentally had this song playing in my brain the whole time, just to keep me motivated: Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride.

Feeling good up to 3k, and then at the turnaround I started losing my good feelings, and started feeling like I was going to cough up a lung, or maybe have a heart attack, or maybe just collapse instead.

I passed a few people, but just never felt like I could get into the slower rhythm speed that I had in my longer races, it just felt a bit too frantic, too fast. So, I’m learning that the 5k is a tougher race for me, because I can’t seem to push it for that long. I get tired, coughing, and lose my mojo.

I didn’t really finish that strong (more like a crawl) with a time of 22:26 (chip) 22:17 (net). So I didn’t quite achieve my goal, which is a bit of a bummer. Oh well! Better luck (and health!) next time.

Bazan Bay gets thumbs-up for a great bathroom situation and a decent snack table, but they didn’t have chili or hotdogs (that I LOVE!).  And a shout-out to my husband, who raced in the top-10 again, and my friend, who definitely kicked my butt too.