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.

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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).

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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??

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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.

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VIRA Race Recap: Comox Half Marathon!

So yeah, this blog right now is just for race recaps apparently. I have a good reason for it- I have been under an insane amount of pressure at work, and starting to crack. I haven’t had any time/inclination to blog because the only things I’d write are about how unhappy I am, and how miserable things are.

So…Please consider that warning for the next, oh, three weeks. Things are not great in my world in one particular area, and it’s killing my motivation, desire and will to live. OH well. This is also time sensitive so hopefully in three weeks I can be happier.

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Me and a Bastion Run Club guy. Incidentally, the photo is also by Bastion Run Club! 🙂

Without further ado…the big race!!!

It was a GLORIOUS day to race. Sunny skies, not too cold, not windy, not raining?!! A lovely day all around. I was so happy to just be out, doing my thing. The volunteers at this race are fantastic- so cheery and fun, and encouraging. I just love them 🙂

I had a pretty significant head cold the entire week leading up the race. I was exhausted, coughing, sinus pain & pressure, ear pressure/pain that kept me from work on Friday even? And just feeling super shitty and blah. Spent most of the weekend either laying on the couch or sleeping. So sick+overwhelmed at work= success?!!

Something like that at least! I swear I wasn’t the only one blowing my nose at the start on the race.

I didn’t really have high hopes for the race. I wanted to complete it, chiefly because you have to race the half marathon to be eligible for series awards at the end of the season. Other than that, I was kind of just hoping to not collapse or something.

Off we went, and I started very conservatively. Very. Like, 4:49 conservatively, ha. And it felt hard…I kind of felt like dying for oh, the first 9km. It doesn’t help that the course is an out-and-back, and the out part is a lot of uphills. Still, I stayed present and kept an eye on people. I wasn’t ready to make any moves yet, but I could see some people who were foolishly tearing out before the 5km marker–I knew they wouldn’t last. It’s a looooong race, guys.

I grabbed electrolyte drink at 7km (bizarrely it was clear) and focused on making it up the hills between 7-9km. It was kind of horrible.

I started making my move after 11km. Then, we were flying downhill and I was feeling ok- not great, but that I could actually do this. Run a competent, solid race. I was making it happen! Fortunately or unfortunately for me, every time I tried to pick up the pace I couldn’t breathe, so it forced me to maintain a very manageable pace instead of flying and dying like I kind of wanted to…

At 18km, I felt like staggering. I couldn’t believe there was so much left. My legs were done! I felt sorry for myself until I passed the runner ahead of me. WHa?

Why is she letting this happen? Letting me pass her at 18? Suddenly I could run again, I was doing ok and making it!!! WOW! I never have that feeling this late in the game.

I cruised up to the finish line with a blistering (ha) 5:00km pace – ok, it felt fast anyways.

And I didn’t even feel that bad! WOAH!

We had the best food after too- chili, with buns and cheese 🙂 YUM!!! Oh and my husband finished with a crazy fast time- he got 1:34, while I got 1:44. I was very pleased with my time too, as this is now my personal best for the half marathon. I have a feeling that I can do better now.

VIRA Race recap: Bazan Bay 5K

Ah the dreaded 5k- probably my weakest distance and the one I dread the most. It’s funny, but people who are inexperienced in this distance and in road running always ask, “why do you hate 5ks? Aren’t they so easy? After all- they’re short!”

Yeahhh…

Short like a swift kick in the throat.

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So, in 2015 the weather was WAY NICER. My first Bazan Bay 5k.

But this year, my overarching goal for the winter run series (VIRA and MEC, some overlap) was simple: To DO IT. Run all my races.

And so I was running the 5k this Sunday, at Bazan Bay (I have skipped this race in the past) because I can usually find something better to do than run a lung-busting 5k, haha. But this year no wimping out!

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Wish it was that nice again…This year has been the WORST.

I’m not lying- I was NOT looking forward to it. Work has been out-of-control busy, my husband and his dad spent all Saturday replacing flooring in our townhouse – it looks great but he was not in great shape to run on Sunday! And I felt creaky, aching and stiff. So, bonus. Also it was snowing the morning of the race. Snow, in March, in Victoria. WTF???!

So yeah the stars were aligning and things were going to be a huge success *sarcasm*

We got out there, delayed going to the start as long as possible due to the snow, and then grudgingly shed our layers and jogged out there. We jogged back and forth trying to stay warm. At the start, I huddled with the other runners, enjoying their shared warmth. Too bad I stayed so far from start though, as it definitely cost me chip vs net time as I got boggled right down badly in the beginning. ARGH.

We started and it was kind of rough- I bounced off a few people, and then got in my first KM quite fast- 4:04/km. Hmm..I knew I couldn’t maintain that, but it’s also only 5k so maybe this strategy works for me?

The next KM plummeted- yikes. 4:29/km. Ouch.

Running the ‘out’ section of the ‘out and back’ was fine. Turning around, however…Rain/wind/ice pellets pelting us in the face the whole time. I could only thank GOD that it was a short race. We were grimacing, grim, eyes closed and desperate.

My next two KM’s were ok- I rallied at 4:22 and 4:23 (good). The wheels fell off the track for my last km at 4:29 again, but it was ok. I was dying!

I looked up at the clock and saw my time- and it shocked me- I was going to break 22:00? How on earth did I do that? I weakly sprinted, coughing and feeling like I was going to puke. Went through the finish line and staggered around reeling for awhile. I couldn’t figure out if I was going to faint, or puke first. But I DID IT! My bib time was 21:59 and my net time was 21:54 (that was where getting held up at the start bit me bigtime).

No chance of ribbons at 11th place- this is the second time I’ve gotten that placing this year, haha. BUT the best time I have gotten in a 5k, and quite frankly, a huge bonus for me as I was not expecting to do well.

Thanks to the volunteers who braved the horrible weather, and the fine folks at VIRA for putting on a great run series. We were stopped on our way back to the Mary Winspear centre for snacks/post-run and a few ladies asked us about the run series- I said I really liked doing them, and that it was a fun series that was very affordable and full of good runners 🙂

 

Oceanside Mother’s Day 10k: Race Recap!

Now this is a hard one to recap. To sum up: It sucked. It sucked out loud!

Last year running the course.

I did feel ready for this race too. My training has been pretty good, I’ve been enjoying my training- short runs, long runs, hill runs. My last race in Sooke was decent on what was considered a fairly challenging course, even after I drank and went partying the night before, showed up late to the race and had 5 minutes to pin my bib on and sprint to the start, and having to pee the entire race…

So the stars were aligned, relatively speaking, for a great race this weekend. I was rested, except for my shoulder and back killing me from when I crashed through the jump on Saturday. And then I completely BOMB this race. What the eff?

Last year I was unfairly rewarded with a first and a 2nd overall with a pretty mediocre time. This year, my time was better and I didn’t podium! Ah, Karma…

It was very windy, with a wind warning in our town. We started, and my first KM was ludicrously fast- 4:11/km. Very unsustainable for me. I slowed it down, and when I do this I usually take it to 4:22 or so…Imagine my horror when I felt like I’d taken it down to that, and checked my watch and it was at like 4:38/km WTF? How did I slow down that much? I still felt like I was running my lungs out???

It was surreal. The harder time I was having to run, the worse my times were getting. I was literally dragging myself along, and my legs felt like lead. Lifting them seemed like a huge struggle.

I watched my times bounce around each km between 4:34-5:00km/hr. Yes that’s right, FIVE. WTF? I think I maybe went that slow running up a hill at Sooke but that was after a good pace of 4:14-4:30 the whole race. What was GOING ON?! I wanted to give up so hard.

I was gasping for breath, and my times sank lower and lower. I struggled over the gravel section in a very picturesque section of the race. I wanted to enjoy it more, get that ‘flow’ feeling I love so much when I get in the groove racing, but it NEVER came to me. Not one. Every kilometer felt like a major struggle to breathe, make my legs go.

I was feeling exhausted, beat up, burned out, sore shoulder, out of breath, and breathing so hard my lungs and throat burned. I was working way too hard for so little.

It was a very discouraging race. I got passed by everyone, and only managed to pass 1 runner on my way to the finish. I finished with a decently strong time of 46:34 (for this course, not for me), but I wasn’t happy with the way the race ran. I failed, it hurt, I just never had that good, ‘pure’ race moment I run to find. I can blame a few factors: terrible allergies that my prescription meds stacked with over the counter antihistamines can’t even begin to touch, a very strong headwind, some mild injuries from the fall the day before.

The good news? My pre-race stomach issues were pretty much NOT a problem this time and I was able to eat breakfast (yesss!!) AND even enjoy the super generous spread at the finish!! Here’s to that keeping going in the future, whoop! I normally struggle with eating on race days, both in the morning and after the race.

Thanks again to the volunteers who put on a very safe and fun race, who were very encouraging and hosted a super awesome spread of snacks after. The best one yet! And I liked the ice cream at the end too. 🙂 Yeah!

Oh and last year? I would have loved this time. So funny, how perspective changes everything eh.

 

End of the VIRA race season: Sooke 10k race recap & finale!

Wow, this one did NOT start off well. How poorly? Well, I would describe it as an absolute shitshow.

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Don’t let it fool you- it was a heck of a stressful race! 5th AG though!

I went out with the horse girls on Saturday night to celebrate a birthday, with dinner/drinks at Swans and then some cowboy dancing at Duke’s and we had a blast!! I was good, limited my number of drinks, did some dancing, and had a nice time. They had live music and it was actually pretty fun- I am not a country fan at all and I enjoyed it.

I had my husband agree to pick me up as my designated driver and when he did, the car was lurching and jerking all over the place. EFFFFFFF!!! Not again. We have an appt to get the car looked at on Tuesday but my race was on Sunday. Would we be able to make it out to Sooke??

I worried about that all night, and I was squabbling with my husband about what time we had to leave. He said 30 minutes will be more than enough, and I was worried about the time, the car issues and we had to get gas. All of these things= takes time. A lot of time, as it turns out…

We got the car started fine, but it was jerking and lurching to the gas station. We filled up and got on the road and by that time it was like 10:18am. The car drove pretty well to Sooke but time was not on our side…We hit traffic in Langford and before we knew it, it was 10:45am and we were NOT at the school yet. I was biting my nails and freaking out…We weren’t going to make the race! I am not listening to my husband about this again! I was pretty mad.

We literally pulled up about 500 metres away from the school (the road was closed for the race, and at this point, FULL of runners at the start!) and I leapt out when the car was still rolling and sprinted to the gym. It was not close. I ran into the gym and tore over to the bib pickup guys, who were all very friendly and like heyyy what’s your rush, you’ve got 5 minutes, do you want to put your jacket down? hahaha.

Yeah, five minutes!!! 

I frantically pinned my bib on, and jogged to the start which luckily was close. I started my watch and waited for 3 minutes to race…I had to pee too but that was NOT happening.

And they’re off! I started close to the front and started quick for me. The first KM was at 4:15…Faster than I can maintain. But, this course was practically designed to positive split- all downhill in the beginning, and all uphill back. Yikes!

I watched my times bounce between 4:22-4:30 or so until I hit the 5k turnaround and then the plummeted–4:45, 4:37, 5:00!!! That was a particularly long and devastating hill. I was fairly out of breath from the speedy beginning, so I focused on controlling my breathing and bringing my pace down (ha ha, yeah like I could go any slower even) so I could manage the hill better.

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To the finish!

It sort of worked- my times were kind of a killer, but I felt more focused and in control…Not just running balls-to-the-walls. That approach meant my form was better too, and I was able to come in to the finish feeling much stronger than I thought. I kept thinking- the sooner I am done the sooner I get to use the bathroom!

The finish line was so inspirational- I love it!! There are flags for the finish chute and everyone is lined up to watch. It feels so awesome to run through it, and I have to say it’s one of my favourite finish line moments of all the race series.

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Loving my new run shorts.

My time was good but it was also the slowest 10k I have raced all year, by 10 seconds haha- gun 45:44 and net 45:40. But hey, I have had a VERY consistent season, and so I was very pleased with my effort, given how much stress and anxiety there was the evening before and morning-of.

I trotted to the bathroom straight away. And then met up with my husband and dog, and enjoyed all of the snacks Sooke had to offer. They are the best! They had sushi (?!!!) sandwiches, the most amazing brownies, #1 cookies (first place I’ll get all year haha), and Milk 2 Go.

And best of all? I checked my results and I had placed 5th/22 for my age group. YEAH! That is the best I have placed in my 10ks this year. Woop! It is a smaller race, and yes those are my time to shine….Hahaha.

Thanks to my husband for taking pictures and thanks to the VIRA folks and Sooke for putting on a fun race!

 

VIRA Hatley Castle 8k- Race Recap!

Yes I can’t believe we are already on race #4 of the VIRA series…time is flying by! I did not have high expectations for myself for this race, as last year it really took a lot out of me and I found it quite …rough.

See pic below from last year:

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Last year it sucked!

This year, I was prepared though! I had done a lot more hill running, so I had a better idea of what to prepare for, and I’d already done it once before. Still, I didn’t really have a time goal other than ‘better than last year’. I was running alone, as my husband and friend weren’t running this year with me, but luckily my husband was there to take some photos- yesss!

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This year: still a struggle

At the start, I was kind of mentally kicking myself- I was absolutely frozen, I also seem to have some recurring stomach unpleasantness that I’m sure is related to the anxiety of racing as it seems to crop up often when I have a race, and I was just feeling…blah. I also think the beers the night before may not have been the best idea, but I guess you learn that the hard way.

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I like this shot b/c it looks like I am actually running.

The start was quite jammed, and I didn’t get up as close as I should have. We flew past the start (it is a downhill start) and I was immediately stuck behind slower runners, almost clipping their heels, yikes! I did a lot of dodging and weaving for the first km and had to rush to make it up. I was slower than I wanted to get to the first hill, having placed myself incorrectly at the start (again!).

Once having broken out of the pack, I played a bit of leapfrog with a younger racer who I recognized from my MEC 10k race earlier this year (she beat me, and she beat me in this race too. arghhh) and an older gentleman who I passed and stayed past!

The hills didn’t feel tooooo bad, but what I seriously lacked was a good recovery past the hill push. I just didn’t have that ‘oomph’ past the hills…It’s like I got to the hills and was like, phew that’s over! Oh, wait…

There’s the whole rest of the race! Surprisingly the portion in the woods was nice- springy, I was getting good foot feedback from the soft ground. It was still uphill but not terrible. It was very dark though, almost hard to see. There was a coach lurking in the woods cheering us on- yay for this dude! It was awesome.

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Dying at the finish part 1

The long downhills were soooo welcomed! I even managed to run them without too much fear–I guess doing those crazy GutBuster runs and MEC runs have made me much braver. I was getting tired though, and once the downhills ended and the flats began, I was so done.

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Photo by Brian Domney and a great shot of me getting blasted past at the finish..haha.

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Dying at the finish part 2

I kind of struggled to the finish, looking like I was going to puke. Lovely. I got beat by a 12-year old I think? Kid had a crazy rally to the finish, better than mine that’s for darn sure!

The spread at the end of the day was SO good! Hotdogs, an apple fritter, and all the candies you could hopefully want! Yogurts too! Yum!!

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Photo by Brian Domney: Where I am literally a head shorter than the others. Looks pretty funny!

And how did I do? Well I sure can’t complain- a good for me 37:13 (net) and 37:19 (gun). YES! This was surprisingly well enough to net me 5th place in my AG. That is the best I have ever gotten, and I was shocked. Lucky me eh? Compare that with my first attempt last year at 39:00 and I am a happy camper.

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Ribbons!

World’s Okayest Runner: VIRA Cobble Hill 10k race recap!

Yes, three races in three weeks! My legs are feeling TRASHED today, ha, and I had a coughing attack walking to work. Such is the price to pay for glory??

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Me- on any given race day.

So, last week was the MEC 10k, and the weather was god-awful. This weekend was much sunnier, and it was the VIRA Cobble Hill 10k. This is a race I vaguely recalled running last year, where I set my first 10k-related goal (the vaunted, hard-to-achieve time of 49:29 as Facebook reminded me today!). Wow, how things have changed eh?

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Photo courtesy of the Ceevacs run club.

This time, my time goal for the 10k is sub- 45:00, which I know is going to be extremely challenging to get. And that wasn’t necessarily my goal for Cobble Hill–I kind of wanted to see what I was capable of, coming off a 10k last week? Sound reasonable?

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My new fav run photo- courtesy of my husband!

I mean, if i got sub-45, I was going to be very happy, but I also realized that realistically in running, ‘wishing and hoping’ isn’t very well going to make it happen!

Newsflash: I didn’t get sub-45. But I got a time I was very good with!

The race itself felt like a slice of special Hell. I set a very good pace at the first km (4:19?!) and the immediately realized I could NOT sustain it, as I set it running down a slight incline…Whoops. My allergies were going insane and I could hear my breathing through my EARS every BREATH was like this weird echo of a loud person breathing in my ears. It was making me feel really crazy.

I started gaining time…from that fast pace to 4:29, 4:37,4:39, and then it got really ugly and I was gasping and starting to feel sorry for myself…4:44! I had thoughts like: I see Ian and his dad, I wonder if I could just pull out now, and end this?? Would anyone notice? How does it feel to quit mid-race? How did this feel easier last week?

Let’s just say 4km and I are not friends.

The race was also super super busy. It was packed! I wasn’t passing anybody. They were all passing me haha. I went around the turnaround and started mentally slapping myself. Only 5k left! Sharpen up! Focus! Pick yourself up! No feeling sorry for yourself!

The mental slapping must have worked, because I started to regain more control of my breathing (it still sucked, but sucked a bit less), and worked my pace down to 4:26. I then flip-flopped between 4:26-4:3-? until the last KM, and I ran my 9th km at 4:23, which I was VERY pleased with.

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Photo courtesy of Ceevacs. I swear, I thought I was sprinting…

I was not so pleased with how terrible I felt during, and after, the race. Jesus.

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Award ceremony! Photo courtesy of Ceevacs.

I staggered through the finish and sat down on the crumbling steps of the school. I couldn’t catch my breath well enough, and I felt dizzy. I walked back to the school/staging area with some nice runners and my calf seized up–I was dehydrated.

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Kind of Halloweeny eh? I actually tied for 8th, but ended up in 9th for some reason? (milli-seconds??).

So, I was very happy with my time (a not-shabby 45:23) I was not super glad about how it actually ran- it was ugly, it felt horrible, and man, it was just…extremely rough.

But as always, there is another race, another day, and my effort was good. Thanks to the Ceevacs running club, the volunteers, race director, photographers, course marshals, food staff (!!yummy chili!) and photographers (my husband included) for making the day a real one to remember. 🙂