End of the season: Bazan Bay 5k Race Recap!

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Faces of Anguish: The 5k… Photo by Lois D’Ell.

Ah man, as I write this- I’m struggling with weird crushing fatigue and muscle weakness/exhaustion. It’s not a good feeling, and I felt dizzy; had nausea and lightheadedness at the work gym on my lunch break today. Lovely. I had this last week, sort of on-and-off since I got back from Mexico. What is with travelling and me getting sick and/or facing crushing exhaustion?? Anyone have ideas?!

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Bazan Bay last year. This is my last year in my age-catgory, sob!

Anyway on to the race- I took Saturday VERY easy (see week of exhaustion/fatigue and a cold), so I was feeling sort of fresh but also with some strange muscle fatigue happening (I am finding it hard to type, my fingers feel tired and I am struggling to make a fist?!?).

I have been taking my iron pills and b12, as well as magnesium, but I’m really wondering what is going on…

So yeah, the race. Last year I had a really fantastic rally, and managed to break 20:00 minutes for the 5k. This year? Ha, nope. My ego was slightly bruised by this, but not by a lot- I still ran a very respectable 20:09. So, close but no cigar. Better than I likely had a right to run, to be honest, with the craptacular way I have been feeling this past week and now week!

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Faces of Anguish II: the finish of the 5k. Photo by Lois d’Ell. 

I started pretty quick and immediately it felt hard. My second Km was slow- too slow at 4:06…Shit. I bounced off another girl as I got boxed in pretty badly. Hit the turnaround and my previously cocky feeling of ‘this is ok, I can do it!’ evaporated. It was getting hard, really challenging. I was breathing hard, and starting to suffer.

In a weird sense of deja-vu, a girl who was racing this year was shouting and gasping and screaming, just like last year. It was bizarre. I think if each year you sound like you’re dying, maybe the 5k just isn’t…for you.

I saw some other runners who usually smoke me, HARD, and I passed them and they did not catch up. This surprised me- the 5k is a weak distance for me, and it sucks. I was running alone with a few men, and kind of wished for a woman to really spur me on! Like usual, the finish line was so far away and cartoonishly stretched further when I was running to it- I was freaking wiped!

I finished and briefly contemplated puking, like the guy I saw on his hands and knees throwing up after the race. Yes, it’s that fun! I got my breathing under control, found my husband and we trudged back to the gym. Damn, that was difficult. Weather was pretty good though, not too windy and not raining. It’s been pretty lousy these days so I’ll take what I can get!

The ceremony after was great though, I got third in my age category (this surprised me, it’s not a very competitive time for a fairly competitive race), and I was first in my age-group. PLUS I was able to get a chiropractic treatment from my chiropractor, because they were there as the sponsors of the race and were providing treatments. Score! Nice eh? It’s a very well run race, safe with great volunteers, snacks and treatments. I do highly recommend people trying their hand at a fast, brutal 5k to do it here- it’s a personal best-type course.

Sad to see another season go, but each race season teaches me something about myself. Isn’t that always a good thing? I age up next year, so I bid farewell to my age-group buddies 🙂 Felt nice to make a connection this year with some lovely ladies.

 

 

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Race Recap: Port Alberni 15k Paper Chase

Ouch this one was also kind of an ego-crusher. Not because I had a really poor performance, or surprised myself with a bad race, but because it was just really hard and I was surprised at how often I got passed, particularly throughout and at the end of the race. I had no rally, apparently. Shoot!

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A beer for me after~ the best part of racing is the chance to try far-flung breweries.

I guess each year I forget how much of a killer the ‘rolling hills’ are in this 15k, and just kind of expect things to go…Well? Spoiler- they don’t really, hahah. My legs were feeling kind of trashed- 3 races in 3 weeks is a lot for me, and my legs were not responding well to the schedule. Plus I had a riding lesson the day before, also unusual for me.

I started off pretty well, optimist even! And then kind of started dreading the rolling hills…And then kind of ground it out to the turnaround, and then slowly started getting passed, steadily in fact! Ha. I just could NOT rally my legs. They were hurting, and getting tired.

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Photo by Lyndon Cassell Photography from Port Alberni. I was starting to walk away at this point, which is why I look awkward…

My goal was to stay under 4:30/km, which I kind of did? If you can count my ratio of a km at 4:22, the next one *up a hill* at 4:36, and then 4:25, and then 4:37,..and on and on. For the entire race…

I had a really bad Km at around 12…Just so uphill. I was tired, wanted to walk. I mentally gave up on that one. Rallied at 13-14, and then kind of just trudged it home and got passed within 500m of the finish line. HA. It was a stark contrast to my pretty good feeling 12km last weekend, even though I tried to catch up with some runners and they blew past me…I still felt pretty good about my efforts/finish. This race? Nah not so much.

But anyways, it was my fastest 15km yet! I ran it squeaking just under at 1:06:57. Yeah!! First in my age group (again like Cedar 12k it is a very small race, I am under no illusions that I’m some sort of super-athlete). My legs are still tired today, ha. Also it’s daylight savings and damn, it is killing me! Sooooooo tired this week.

VIRA Cedar 12k Race Recap!

This race was rescheduled from a really bad snowstorm we had a few weeks ago, in Feb. And they definitely chose the right weekend to reschedule- it was cold, but clear and sunny yesterday, making for a really nice race experience.

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Ok I’m a blur but I weirdly kind of like the effect? It looks really cool! Plus the girl behind me placed second in our age group, so  how good is this timing? 😉

This race used to have a pretty notorious set of hills on it, and a slog-slow finish through a playground field for the finish. They re-did the course last year after a car accident forced them to change the course last-minute, and people liked the new course so much that they kept it! Yay! That means the course is MUCH faster, fluid and now allows for a real sprint to the finish. I like it a lot more this way, haha.

Note- there are still some rolling hills, but they aren’t even remotely comparable to what it used to be…

I was going to use this race to see how well I could stick to a under-4:30/km pace. Last time I kind of struggled or didn’t take it really seriously, so I thought I was ready to meet the challenge appropriately. And I did! I got kind of caught up at the start, and my gun/chip time have like…8 seconds of elapsed time. Hah. Oh well!

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They had the best cupcakes! So cute. 

I came off the start fairly behind, but worked to steadily close the gap. I was pretty happy with my consistent pacing (in a bit of a headwind the entire way out…) with some Km’s at 4:30 but mostly under. I worked hard in the first half to maintain.

At the turnaround, I had been passing people pretty regularly. The turnaround was good, I felt fairly strong and able to keep my pace really moving. I caught up to a few runners, ran a ridiculously fast 1km at 10km- like 4:14?? HA. I could NOT keep that, and the runner I’d been matching blew past me. Ahhh hahaha. Oh well!

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Came up fairly strong for the finish, and my eyes were watering like crazy! I was pleased with my time, and felt like it was probably one of the most competent 12ks I’d run. My stomach cramped up horribly after though, UGHH and I didn’t feel great for the rest of the day/evening. Ugh.

A big thanks to the volunteers, VIRA and Bastion Run Club for putting on a lovely race. The snacks, cupcakes and treats were amazing. I just loved them! And because this is a smaller race, the fasties didn’t show up and I got first place in my AG, and was 9th woman finisher with a time of 52:41 chip/52:49 gun. 🙂

Ultramarathoner

So I did something this past weekend that seemed pretty crazy to ‘outsiders’ but pretty old hat for running nutters- I ran a 50k trail race.

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On the homestretch and feeling strong. Photo by Joseph Camilleri.

Now let’s backtrack a little- I didn’t tell anyone I was training for this, except for Ian and a few friends (ok, 1 friend). It scared me more than a little, and I was worried about it. Just completing it felt like a huge task, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. I also didn’t want people analyzing me, or my running, or second-guessing how I was going to do. I wanted it to be personal, for me.

So…I kept it under my hat for months. I signed up for the race in December after deciding last year that if I couldn’t go faster, I would go longer. Of course, then I had an incredible race season that proved that I COULD go faster, so…Ha. But I maintained that this was my main goal- completing the race.

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At the start- the lady with the hat and walking poles is the legendary ultrarunner Ann Trason. 

The race: Prairie Inn Harriers 2:18 Run Elk/Beaver Ultras. Why Ultras? Because they offer multiple distances for the choosy runner (or crazy runner). I raced the most popular distance (50k), and they have a 40k walkers category, and a 100k and 50-miler.

The race is quite small, which surprises me because for a beginner’s ultra it is very race-friendly. Run 5 loops for the 50k- a bit repetitive due to the loops, but VERY safe, easy to stay hydrated and fueled, no need to carry nutrition or water with you, and it’s a flat course with some gravel and some roots but nothing difficult.

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Lap four and going strong! 

So, pretty doable for a first-timer ultra. The race started at 6am, I got up at 4:30am to choke down enough breakfast (hated eating, but I didn’t have a real choice) and get to the lake for the start. I was fortunate enough to have my long-suffering husband come and be my support crew (driving, handing me gels/Gu’s, electrolytes at each checkpoint to mark the laps).

Basically my brain/body was still asleep for oh, two laps or so? I ran pretty slowly and had a hard time getting with it. I felt like I didn’t really ‘warm up’ and feel like running or racing until the second lap. Which I guess, if you have 5 of them, is totally ok! I ran with another runner for the first lap (Steve) and we helped up another woman who went crash landing face-first on the ground. She was ok, but ended up dropping out after that.

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My best support crew ever! 

By the third lap, I was in the groove. I was doing it! It was a beautiful day, I had to use the washroom but nothing bad, and I felt like my fueling/water was right on target. I ate a LOT of Gu’s and gummies. The maple syrup gel I tried out was so gross I thought I was going to puke- gagging sweet. ICK!

I also ate a S’mores GU that basically slurped right down my throat because it got so warm, which was kind of gross but also…kind of ok? Ha. I really liked the Powerbar gummies, yum and great texture. The Clif Shot Bloks were harder to chew than I recalled.

I was getting tired of sweet things- yick, so many sweet things.

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Each lap I ran through the checkpoint to register my bib, and grab a few doughnut pieces to eat while I gulped down water and electrolytes. It was getting hot, my face was prickly with dried salt that abraded my nose whenever I rubbed it.

Halfway through the 4th lap (35k) my legs started howling. Wow, this was getting hard.

I struggled on and went through my last checkpoint- Ian was cheering and encouraging me, and I felt pretty good heading into the last lap. Except my right knee locked up when I started running again, and I limped for close to a kilometer until it got with the program. I was pretty concerned- was this where it ended for me? 40km? But I kept moving and motion is lotion so my knee got with the program and it was ON!

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The aftermath- not too bad actually!

My goal was to basically finish, but I was aiming for around 5 hours or under. I was right on target on my last lap, and I needed to basically pull it together for 10km more.

I felt pretty strong overall, and random older men who were unofficially manning the water stations (ersatz…water bottles left on picnic tables, haha not fancy) were impressed and told me I was looking really strong. YES! I can do this!

I ‘raced’ ok it looked like I was walking but I swear I was running so fast into the final stretch and I couldn’t believe it was over.  I ran it in 4:51 for third place in my age-group. A huge sense of relief, but also …I was expecting more? For it to feel different? For me to feel different?

I chatted with the volunteers, stood around for awhile and then we headed out for brunch- yes!! I did have a hard time scrambling out of the car (low+calves cramping up= can’t move nimbly) but otherwise, my recovery has been pretty fine. Phew!

So I did it. And I feel like if I did it, anyone can. It’s just a matter of putting your mind to a bigger, more frightening goal.

 

Final race of the 2018 VIRA Season- Bazan Bay’s 5k Recap!

It feels weird to write this, because earlier this past week I was like oh man, I am soooooo over racing! But then when I was at the race, I was thinking, boo…I want to race every weekend! Mixed emotions much?

I am having the race season of my LIFE! Each race, I am meeting the challenge and overcoming it. It feels incredible, to be completely honest. Wow. How lucky am I, that my body is responding to the increased demands in such an awesome way?

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Series award, Frontrunners gift cert & bronze in my AG. What a weekend!

All that to say- my goal for the 5k was to get under 21 minutes. It felt like a stiff goal to me, as my weakest distance is the 5k for sure, and really any shorter distances. I just don’t have the power.

So I mentally wrote off this race as a ‘for fun’ race and a way to cap off the season of good racing. I was even asking Ian AT the race what my splits should be if I wanted to get under 21, and he said around 4:10/km. Yeesh, that seemed way too fast for me. So yeah I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. My eye is on a bigger prize.

At the start, it was quite warm! I was wearing shorts and a long-sleeved Lululemon run shirt and kind of wishing I was wearing a t-shirt. Crazy eh? We were packed in close and the start was hairy- I watched someone almost smoke a small child that was up too close. Yikes!

We bustled and battled it out for 200 metres or so, and then things smoothed out. I felt like I was running pretty hard in that awkward ‘legs haven’t caught up to my lungs’ way. My first KM was about 3:56 or so? Phew, so I have some room.

We kept running and I had my eye on a few runners who I typically race with, as they have similar pacing and strengths to me. Next KM- 4:07. Ok, that I can work with, but I’d have to really watch to make sure it didn’t creep up….

KM 3- this is when I started catching runners. Not gonna lie, it felt AWESOME. Usually KM 3 is when the wheels fall off, but I just felt stronger. I ran this one at 3:50 I think? Between 3-4, I started really breathing hard, Jesus when was it going to be over? I started staring at my GPS watch, ha. A girl I caught up with-and-passed was gasping and breathing really horribly. It made me feel a bit concerned. Her coach or parent was on the sidelines telling her she had to ‘ make a decision…’

I ran a bit faster to put her behind me- it was very distracting.

And I could see the finish line- almost there! I was running as hard as I could, even though I did get caught up by a few runners who had a better sprint that I did. I could see the clock and couldn’t believe my eyes- 19-something?? Wha?

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Photo courtesy of VIRA. Third place age-grouper.

I ran down the clock and staggered around trying not to puke. Long time racer Gary Duncan saw my finish and came over to give me a hug and congratulate me. I had just raced under 20 minutes! 

Whoa! My chip time just squeaked under 20, at 19:58 and my official gun time was 20:04. I couldn’t believe it! That amazingly was good for 3rd in my age group. We also had the year-end series awards and I got FIRST in my age group! That came with $100 to Frontrunners! 🙂

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Series-end awards. Breeches are probably the least flattering pants around…Photo courtesy of VIRA.

Ian placed really high in his age-group too- 4th! Not too shabby! He is much faster than I 😉

Thanks again to VIRA for a fantastic race season. I’m floating on air, ending on a very high note. YES!

VIRA Race Recap: Port Alberni Paper Chase 15k!

A new one to the series and I’m glad to see the return of the 15k distance, though my legs may not necessarily agree 😉

Last year this was a 10k and I found it challenging. Rolling hills took a lot out of my legs and my season last year was full of difficulties, so it equalled out to a really tough race. How would an even longer race this year fare?

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Photo courtesy of Lyndon Cassels Photography.

Ha. It was TOUGH.

Rolling hills galore! It was tough to maintain any semblance of pace. There was  neat trail section that took runners through the historic MacLean Mill site, which was pretty cool though I was running and staring at the ground for most of it! Missed on me, haha.

So yep, first off I got passed by pretty much everyone- flew past me like I was standing still! It’s hard to start races like that, but I knew I had to run ‘my’ race and be careful about pacing. It was going to be hard.

Mentally challenging start for sure, and my pace kind of tanked, even though I felt like I was trying really hard to ‘run’ if that makes any sense?

At the turnaround just before the Mill section of the run, I was like whaaa?? This is so hard!  Luckily the Mill part broke it up, though my pace dropped hilariously (over 17 seconds lost there, hahaha). Oh well it was pretty!

The run back I was kind of in a funk, but not quite a deep a funk as I started with. I had a goal- how many KM’s can I get at 4:30/km? It was a game I played with myself, ha. As soon as I hit a hill though it fell apart. Another young runner and I played rabbit on and off, with each of us running neck-and-neck. It actually really helped me stay on my game, and I ended up passing her in the final KM or so. She was right on my heels!

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Photo courtesy of Lyndon Cassel Photography.

The finish is on a slight uphill that is an absolute pace killer, ha! I charged up it though and ran to the finish. Done! My time was 1:08:20 good enough for 2nd place in my age category. Sweet!

The food was SO good after too- candied salmon chowder, foccacia bread, fruit/veggies and milk and yogurt. All my favourites! Delicious! A big thank you to the great volunteers and chefs handling the day. A well-run and very safe race. I do recommend it if you are looking for a tough 15k to challenge you. 🙂

After the race, my husband and I checked out the Port Alberni Brewery Twin Cities. I tried the pineapple-coconut sour beer and it was SO GOOD! We bought a growler of it to bring home. Highly recommend!!!

Hatley Castle 8k- Race Recap!

This past Sunday was the Hatley Castle 8k- a fun and challenging race in the VIRA Island Race Series. Notable for a very hilly course, scenic views, and tasty hotdogs for the participants!

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Yum!

It was also freezing. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground, and the gravel was slick and icy. A windstorm was currently raging in Victoria, luckily we only got hit with it at Royal Roads when we ran along the water at the start. Anyways, it felt pretty lousy.

I didn’t have very high hopes for the race- not that this was bumming me out, but that I’m focusing more on building more Km’s into my week and not taking a lot of time off during the week= deader legs. I know this going in, so I am not using these races for goal races, I’m realistic about what I can accomplish.

But…I’m also improving. I am getting faster, even with not-so-fresh legs supporting me.

Logistics were pretty smooth, lots of parking, hit the port-a-potties early so no lineups, and I felt pretty chill (haha, I was frozen). We warmed up, I stupidly kept my fleece on for the race b/c I was frozen, and when we hit the start line, I fumbled trying to zip it up. I couldn’t! We were going too fast. I also hit my watch ‘START’ and it didn’t. So my recipe for success:

  1. Run with your jacket flapping like Superwoman. Yeah that’s not annoying at all!
  2. Watch doesn’t start. Notice 1km in.
  3. It is so cold my exercise asthma was kind of flaring but not badly so.
  4. ….
  5. Success?

We ran up the first hill, I was getting passed like crazy but I had a feeling like- nah, I can do this. I will wait. I will bide my time and then I will go.

To be honest this ‘zen’ mindset is more to keep me from freaking out and trying to run faster when I am getting passed early. That’s a quick way for me to ruin a race. I have to run MY race.

So I hung on, lost a bit of speed and enthusiasm up the longer hill and we hit the flatter gravel section. Now it’s flat but also gravel….slippy. The guy running ahead of me slid pretty dramatically around the turnaround but he didn’t fall! Came damn close though.

I plugged along, not running great but kind of looking forward to the forested trail section. We ran for awhile on the gravel and then turned into the woods. Yes! My time to shine! (sort of). I was able to tackle the hills well here, played leapfrog with another woman runner up to the top of the hill. By then, I was able to pass her and stay past. I had been getting passed by her consistently up until then. Sweet!!

Then the loooong downhill. Ouch my hamstrings.

Flat section, some more gravel, and a slight downill again. Use it! Free speed.

And…the long leadup to the finish. I didn’t really sprint (ha, yeah like I could) and my hamstring was feeling really cranky…

But I am happy with my time: 36:39 and good enough for 1st in my AG women’s 30-34. First time ever!

(also for context: This time last year would have netted me 6th place. Ha).

Thanks again for the volunteers, race directors and VIRA for putting on a well-run, smoothly executed race despite some weather challenges!