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 🙂

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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.

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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!

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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!!

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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.

Have you tried, trying? Cobble Hill 10k race recap!

Man, this one is hard to write because it kind of caps off whatever weird gloominess I was feeling about racing. It’s hard to be positive (even though there are TONS of things to be positive about!) when all I feel now when I am racing is how hard this is, how much I want to give up, and how shitty my times are given the sheer amount I am struggling.

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And they’re off! I am at the far left.

But, without further ado, my race recap!

Warning: it has a lot of gripes.

First gripe: Pouring effing rain. From the sun-soaked Saturday to a just-soaked Sunday, my husband and I were shocked out of our skins at how crummy the weather was for the race. I thought it was going to be grey out, but how cold and how WET everything was? UGH. Just UGH. I didn’t want to go outside, I didn’t want to stand at the start line, just nothing.

And I was just thinking about me, I wasn’t even thinking about all those poor, hearty volunteers! That is a rough day for them.

And to top it off, I injured by foot in a strange series of events the previous week, and by Saturday could barely walk on it. I jogged to the start line on Sunday with some serious apprehension- I had to jog because walking caused too much pain?! Oh no.

We made it to the front, and huddled under shelter with all of the other freezing, soaked runners. I grumbled about how I might pull off the course.

We started and as per my current ‘losing’ strategy, I blasted off and ran my first two KMs too fast- 4:05 and 4:16/km. That is not a sustainable strategy for me, and I should know better. I get excited, and just blast off! I also do this right now because last week, when I started off slower, I ran even slower and still kept struggling! So, that showed me that even when I start off slower, my body isn’t keeping pace and my breathing/stamina is seriously compromised.

So, start slow= stay slow. Start fast= go slower but still have a buffer? I am struggling, no doubt. And I can’t seem to find the answer.

This would then set the theme of the entire race. Slower, slower and slower. My per km pace dropped drastically between 4-5km, and then kind of hovered for awhile. I was exhausted- no energy. My legs felt like lead, and I couldn’t get my head in the game at all. I got passed a ton.

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Fierce

My foot didn’t bother me greatly until about 8-9km, when we ran on gravel. Then it definitely hurt. But I was kind of beyond trying. I was stuck in a tunnel of pain-misery and I can’t figure out why I am having SUCH a hard time this year. I’m in even better shape than I was last year, so why the physical disappointment?

I just feel like my body is letting me down, and I hate that feeling.

But, because I am proactive- I have a doctor’s appointment this week to try and figure out if there is indeed something physical going on–because I know I’m capable of better.

And I sort of weakly sprinted to the finish line, with a mediocre but not totally pathetic time of 45:54 gun and 45:51 chip time. So, I am back in the 45’s but just barely. Last year I was able to run a 45:23 and I actually felt way better. So, wtf is going on this year?

The food was fantastic, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. No ribbons for me this year, as I  placed 11th (boo just missed 10th!) but my husband placed 7th in his category with an absolutely smoking time- sub 40. WOW.

And I am limping this week, as my foot is now swollen and close to being unwalkable. Joy of joys…

Summer of high hopes

Weekend update, and as typical of my weekends- I did a LOT~ And really enjoyed myself for the most part.

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Great day out with the girls!

Friday night was a quiet one in, I had a residual bitter-hangover from the week and it was freezing. I felt antisocial and kind of isolated. It was fine though, because I had a lot to look forward to- Saturday my in-laws came for a visit and we went for lunch after I was out riding  Oats. Oats was great, we had a lovely little ride (it was freezing out), and my lunch was good- mac’n’ cheese at The Bent Mast. It was a very chilly walk out though!

Later in the afternoon we had a bunch of errands to run (Old Navy, groceries, hardware store), and I invited a girlfriend over for wine in the evening. We caught up for hours! I missed her so much, I was really happy to share time with her. I truly love visiting with my buddies, and I feel so much happier when I can. 🙂

Wine until 11am sounds like a great idea, until…The alarm goes off at 7:30 am and we were up and out for our race at 9am. It was FREEZING. I felt horrible – not hungover at all, but just tired and frozen, and stiff.

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Good food, good cider and great company.

My race recap is coming tomorrow, but let’s just say it was an extremely disappointing race.

But I did get the chance to see some more buddies at the race and they enjoyed their races, so whoop! Way to go! Afterwards I zipped home, showered at light speed, and put on my nicer clothes because we were off to Sea Cider for their annual Wassail party! I love it out there, it’s a great opportunity to try some ciders, sample some great snacks and just chill out and talk. I had a lovely time with my friends and time just flew by. The sample tix are $2/ea, and you can have 1 cider sample with 1 ticket, and many of the food varieties are 1/ea, some of the bigger options are 2/ea but I didn’t end up having those. So I had a great chance to try veggie curry, chicken curry, puff pastry with goat cheese X2, date-bread sticky pudding,  YUM!

We got back to the barn, and I changed clothes again and rode Oats. I realized I was very tired so our ride was quite short, but decent enough. Got home around 4-ish and was bone tired and chilled thoroughly. It was NOT warm out yesterday or the whole weekend.

That is about to change though- warming starting today! I already feel more hopeful. That being said, I hope this week doesn’t bash my good spirits into the ground…It might.

Rust buster for real: Prairie Inn Harriers 8k race recap

First off, thanks to the volunteers and race organizers. This is a VERY smoothly run race, and I absolutely loved the post-race food options (great soup, hot dogs! pizza?! wow!!). A super effort by all involved and made my recovery that much more fun.

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7th place!! Photo is courtesy of the Prairie Inn Harriers.

Now for the race recap: Wow, this was a lot harder than I felt it should have been, and it was 100% my fault- I went out FAST in the beginning (first downhill km at 3:55? No way can I run that fast, and I was just getting caught up and silly). It was then a strugglefest for the rest of the race, thanks to my poor planning.

My next km was still very fast for me- 4:16. Then I dropped rapidly and started losing my will to live…

4:46, 4:35, 4:39…eeeeek.

Basically my race was a textbook example of poor pacing efforts, combined with another perfect positive split. So, don’t do what I did- ha. I honestly felt like I would have paid someone to let me quit midway through, it felt that rough.

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Well deserved (until I fell off Oats shortly after).

I wanted to puke, pass out and collapse. I had the distinct pleasure of getting passed right left and centre all throughout the race, which made it tough to ‘run my race’ instead of feeling like I was getting caught up and passed constantly. The ‘hurry scurry’ feeling just never left and I couldn’t achieve that ‘flow’ that I try to during races.

Maybe it’s because I’m out of practice for taking a few months off racing, and the 8k, while a fine distance, is just not my distance.

It was a very chilly day and it actually started snowing like crazy when we finished. Thank god we missed that though- a stroke of good luck. I was happy with my time (36:06 net, 36:11 gun time) which is a slight improvement from last year (36:20), but I do still feel like if I ran a better, more competent race I would have fared wayyyy better. hahah.

At the finish, I wasn’t sprinting, I was struggling. I was huffing and puffing and trying to catch my breath, reeling and staggering at the end. I sat down on a retaining wall and felt dizzy. Yuck!

I was coughing heavily for the rest of the day, thanks to my incompetent lungs being slightly damaged- yuck again.

With my time I received 7th place AG, which is fine for a fairly competitive race.

And after the run, my husband and I enjoyed a very nice beer taster at Category 12, which is nearby, and then we headed to the barn so I could get a quick ride in on Oats. He spooked during my ride, and I promptly tumbled off. Not my day I guess? I was fine, landed on my feet and hopped back on and continued but yeeesh, I guess I was just tired, and not ‘with it’ haha.

Oh well, a lesson to learn for that day.

I am stiff as heck today though!

 

 

 

Cedar 12k race recap: VIRA race #3!

This weekend didn’t start off badly actually, it was only as we finished our race that I heard the terrible news of my friends family.

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Photo courtesy of the Ceevacs. I swear I am running…

I have coverered that though, so this post will be about the race this weekend. Race #3 on the VIRA race schedule, of #7 total. This one took place in Cedar, a few hours away from Victoria. It was a 12k on ‘rolling hills’ and I had never run this one before, as last year we were in Hawaii that weekend (I would kill to do that again, actually…).

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More photos- courtesy of Bastion Running Club photographers. And that guy, totally eyeing the camera…

It is a smaller race, under 400 runners I believe. The organizers are super, clean up and bib pickup was SO fast. The race itself was…a challenge. The start was good, busy though and it led up a small hill. It was a fast field, and I was hoping to maintain at 4:45/km but secretly wanted to go a bit faster, so started off fast (4:33/km) and was trying to keep it under 4:45/km if I could.

Turns out I can, except on the way back where the big hill we trotted down suddenly became Mt. Everest on the way up…

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The turnaround, rear-view.

My breathing kind of sucked. I felt like I was struggling a bit (well at that pace, I am struggling in general) and then the hills…oh, the hills…just killed my pace. I went from a fairly reasonable and fluctuating 4:38-4:40 to a dead 5:15/km. Yeeeeesh.

And I didn’t really improve at the top, either! I just kind of ‘blahhhhed’ my way through the last 3kms.

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A really unflattering finishing. Oh well! Photo courtesy of Bastion Running Club’s Neil Gaudet.

We finished by running through the field of the elementary school, and yeah running on grass felt like I was running through Jell-o. Punishing. I was not sprinting, I can tell you that and I did get passed by a bunch of people then too. I felt like I was going to puke at the end and had to walk it off for a bit, hahaa.

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Photo courtesy of Bastion Running Club’s Neil Gaudet.

Food was good, sadly there was a glitch and no Milk 2 Go protein drinks (that I love!!) but they said next year they will have some.

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Triumphant striding to the finish!

And my time? A very respectable 56:06 (net) and 56:14 (gun). I really do have to get smarter about being near the front, I know, I know…

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The shortest, yet again…

And that placed me in 7th in my AG, and my husband placed 5th in his. Wow, so speedy!!!!

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7th! Hard earned AG.

 

Race recap- MEC Race #4- ‘The Best Getter’ 15k

Yep, better late than never?!

I signed up for this one in a flurry of signing up for races- this one and some random trail race happening next weekend.

A photo where it actually looks like I'm running. No recent pics, so you get this old one.

A photo where it actually looks like I’m running. No recent pics, so you get this old one.

Then I ran the Gutbuster, and then my knee got wonky again, and I started dreading my initial burst of enthusiasm…Why was I signing up for this race? What was my motivation? 15K is still a distance to be respected so what did I think I was messing around with?

ARGH.

So, the knee thing. I went back to the knee doctor and he said relapses are normal, and the biggest part of having the knee problem I have is that it is a complete mystery and people often have no problems, until they have a problem. The hard part is the near-constant worry and paranoia about my knee going sideways and me being unable to complete a run. It can take 5 years to resolve, or may never completely resolve.

Greeatt….

But, to keep doing what I am doing- knee strength exercises, gait retraining, and do the race. See how it goes. The week before the race my knee was killing me. It felt horrible, shifty, sore, swollen under the kneecap, just really shitty. So, I took time off from doing everything, save riding Oats, to protect my knee and prepare for the race.

Turns out that time off really does a body good.

The day of the race the weather was super crummy. We showed up right on time (aka almost 9 minutes before the start eeek) and started the race. Right off the bat Ian set a fairly assertive pace, and to my surprise I was able to hold it – well for like 1km. Then we settled into a quieter pace and then ran that for close to the whole race! I was feeling actually awesome!

The trail portion of the run had me very concerned- the up/down stuff combined with uneven footing + 15k distance= knee disaster. BUT I got lucky! We held the pace well, and coming out of the two trail loops I still felt quite strong.

That good feeling started slipping when we did an out-and-back to Tillicum. Psychologically it was very difficult to think…”but why aren’t we going home yet” when it seemed like we were so close to the road to the finish.

But we stuck with it (which was great!) but then people started passing us (WTF?). Ah, racing…

I didn’t experience knee pain until the bridge, and then it immediately started feeling unstable. I was lucky to hold out that long, honestly, but I was very concerned with being able to finish with just 3km left! What a heartbreaker that would be!

I grimaced and I leaned on my right leg to compensate, and gritted out the last few kms. They were’t very good. I was trying to protect my knee just to finish, there was another small hill (???? why so close to the end!) and the finish line felt far away…

Then we were on the home stretch! We got passed here by a few people again- gah!

BUT we made our goal- under 1:15 with a time of 1:14:33!!! YEAH!!! That meant I was the 7th woman finisher out of 47, and we were 30-ish out of about 99 runners. Not a huge field but a very keen one.

I’m glad I did it. I may not have been at the time, but at points, I really felt like I knew what I was doing. Maybe there is something to this racing thing after all….

Except out of all the photos, no photos of us. BUMMER!!