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. 🙂

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Smoothies of Summer

Ah it’s summertime and the living is easy! Because it’s finally hot here (second week of Van Isle heatwave right here) I am loving making smoothies with fresh ingredients.

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My most recent smoothie- featuring blackberries! 

A couple options that I have been making: Smoothies with frozen blueberries, a banana, lemon yogurt, a handful of spinach, ice cubes and water, and a scoop of Vega protein powder in vanilla.

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This was blueberry-mango with some coconut sprinkles! 

A few other ways to mix it up- I love love love blackberries, so I have been picking them at the riding stables and freezing them. Add blackberries to the smoothie instead of blueberries for a hit of antioxidants and flavour! This usually makes enough for two smoothies, so I share them with my husband unless I’m having a very hungry day then I drink both of them!

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This was a raspberry-blackberry one. So good! 

And some other mix-ins…frozen mango, fresh raspberries and using unflavoured kefir instead- makes it really smooth. And always keep a banana in there! You don’t need to use juice or other liquids if you have yogurt and ice cubes and water. Yummy!

Snack review: Kit Kat Chunky New York Cheesecake!

Feast your eyes…. The newest taste experience the Kit Kat Chunky New York Cheesecake flavour!

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This was kindly procured for me by gym-friend and practically sister Jessica who tells me she found it at London Drugs.

And how was it though? GOOD! With a caveat- if your favourite part of eating a Kit Kat is the wafer, (but I don’t know who prefers wafers, if you do just eat those kind of lame Voortman ones) then this isn’t the Kit Kat for you. It has a quite rich filling of ‘cheesecake-style’ crème on top of the wafer, enough to actually really notice and enjoy it. This tones down the wafer ‘snap’ of the bar.

My one quibble is the quality of the chocolate- it seems significantly lighter and waxier than normal? Like it’s not even milk chocolate anymore, they’re just going with watered down chocolate but mostly fillers? But that’s beside the point- for a novelty flavour this bar is really fun and I thought I would eat a bit and maybe wait to eat the rest but I wolfed it down – who am I kidding- and actually kind of want to pick up another one!

So try it and you won’t regret it. An enjoyable summer treat!

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!

Race recap: First race of the season! Prairie Inn Harriers 8k

As part of the 7-run series, Vancouver Island Race Series offered the first race of the season, the Prairie Inn Harriesr 36th annual 8k! We ran this race last year as our first race ever, trying out the series. Before that, I had only run Times Colonist 10ks (twice).

Last year I was impressed! It’s a fairly big race for a ‘small’ local race- between 500 and 600 runners, enough to make it feel fairly competitive and a very fast, international field.

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A race that looked as good as it felt (horrible!!). Photo courtesy of Race Stats.org

I didn’t really train as much last year, and this year I was feeling maybe a bit cocky? I had set some very aggressive time goals- 35 minutes (well, like under 36 more likely). And did I meet my ambitious time goals? a big NOPE on that!

I did run home to a fairly decent 36:20 (gun) and 36:12 (net), which is certainly  nothing to cry about. I feel good that I left everything on the course. I was dying! We held a quick pace of avg. 4:31 (well my race time online said I ran at 4:32 but my watch said 4:31) but it was very fast for me. And honesty time here: I do not practice race pace. I absolutely dislike speedwork and would rather even run hills…And it showed. My breathing sucked out loud.

I was immediately struggling to breathe. I was gasping, my mouth was like, hanging open the whole time and I was coughing and choking on phlegm the whole run. It felt like torture! This really nasty breathing was kind of an eye opener for me. If I had taken it down a notch, I’m sure the really loud, horrible gasping breaths I was taking would diminish and I would be able to ‘catch’ my breath again.

But…I wanted to keep at my 4:30-ish pace. Wanted to, wanted to, wanted to. I had to prove something to myself. So I did, and mannnnnn it was rough. I was running at maximum anaerobic capacity for me. And it showed. I had zero sprint near the end, my lungs physically hurt, my throat hurt and my neck hurt? Funny enough, my legs felt fine?!!

At the end, I recovered fine. The course was well marked, quite busy at first – and that is where I lost quite a few seconds between gun/chip time – lesson learned about getting close to the start line…And the volunteers were great, cheerful and lots of encouraging words~!

The food was great- I had orange slices, pb&J sandwiches, hummus and pita/veggies, and great cookies. They had the protein milk shakes I like best (Milk 2 Go) and yogurt too!

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Pretty ribbon! A big thanks to the Harriers for mailing it to me.

And the funniest thing? I even placed in my age division- 7th!! Woo! That was a surprise, and we left before they gave out awards, thinking we were total no-hopers. Well shoot, I should have stayed after all! 🙂 And thanks to my husband for slowing down enough to keep me on track. It was painful but worth it.

 

Halloween in many parts: Part 2- MEC’s Grand Banana Half Marathon!

I know, I know, running (almost wrote ‘funning’ yeah it was anything but funny!) a half marathon the day after a Halloween party? Not my brightest move!

Warming up: all photos courtesy of MEC.

Warming up: all photos courtesy of MEC.

However, it is a move I am very familiar with, living a pretty normal and active life, so hey you roll with the punches and just see how the race goes! My goal was not lofty–I was hoping to complete the race with my knee intact, a large goal seeing that I haven’t run successfully around Elk Lake at all since my knee troubles started, and I was really worried.

And they're off! All photos courtesy of MEC.

And they’re off! All photos courtesy of MEC.

But I was also hopeful, my base for running has been improving, so maybe I could get by? I am the first to admit my training has been quite shameful lately- I wasn’t feeling well (see my slow-motion cold, ugh!), had a horse show one weekend, and was at Mane Event and managed to wrangle 1 really boring one-hour run, and my regular sprint work on the treadmill twice a week. So, respecting the distance of a half marathon at 21.1 km, I was not feeling super prepared…

Add on to my fun festivities the night before and I was thinking, finish the race, maybe shoot for under 2 hours and see how it goes?

Beginning: So far, no rain. All photos courtesy of MEC.

Beginning: So far, no rain. All photos courtesy of MEC.

And how did it go?

Surprisingly well! I was very lucky to have my husband join me, and it was great to have company for that long of a race. It can be very hard to stay focused for that long, and he really brings me up when he helps me race!

That’s not to say it was easy. It wasn’t. It was kind of like torture, but the type of torture that keeps you coming back for more…The course had these silly little dog-legs (uphill!!!ARGH) to add more length on to the track, so the course was a hair over standard- 21.2 km instead of 21.1 km, but we are splitting hairs here…But yes, a few more upills, muddy, slippery conditions, dogs, so many dogs…I ended up dodging dogs more than I would have liked! And the best part? It was absolutely FREEZING. It didn’t start really raining hard until the second loop but man, that was enough.

Starting to get wet...All photos courtesy of MEC.

Starting to get wet…All photos courtesy of MEC.

But actually, I was feeling pretty good. Anytime I got too ‘slappy’ with my form and got worried about my knee, I focused very hard on the inner muscle of my knee and tried to really think hard about landing using that muscle, pushing off using that muscle, and trying to make it ‘work’ harder than my outside knee muscle.

Second loops: Things get ugly. All photos courtesy of MEC.

Second loops: Things get ugly. All photos courtesy of MEC.

And I think that type of body-awareness work really helped my form throughout the race.

I was happily able to keep running, my knee held together, even though I was tired, had picked up an unfortunate stomach bug that would keep me near the bathrooms for the rest of the day (gross!!!!) and was feeling quite underpowered and under fueled, but I was DOING IT!

A race to the finish! All photos courtesy of MEC.

A race to the finish! Ian is drenched! All photos courtesy of MEC.

So, pushing through the freezing wind and pouring rain, we ran to a fairly respectable 1:54:17, a 31-second time improvement off our last half marathon. I’d be lying if I didn’t want a faster time, but to be honest with myself, I didn’t put the work in and conditions for me personally weren’t optimal. Next time!

My 'thank god the finish!' face All photos courtesy of MEC.

My ‘thank god the finish!’ face All photos courtesy of MEC.

Many thanks to the fine MEC crew, who braved the absolutely terrible weather and had some really nice snacks, well-placed aid stations (I grabbed a Cliff shot blok and it was orange flavoured- yuck! But I desperately needed energy haha my mistake) and a great cheering section to keep us inspired.

And thank you to my friend, who was unable to run but was with us in spirit. Next time, when you’re recovered from your injury, we’ll do the race right!

Race Recap: Sooke River 10k- and series finale!

This one came hot off the heels of the Merville 15k that I wrote about last week, so I spent a lot of the past week cooling off and not really training. I was hoping to save my poor legs and my wonky knee and just see how Sooke went. We aren’t used to running back-to-backs so I wasn’t sure how things were going to go…

Series finale Sooke 10k

Series finale Sooke 10k

I bought new run shorts (Underarmour) and a summer shirt to race in and boy I am glad I did…it was HOT! A side note about shorts here: I hate them. Hate them! Even when I asked for the best shorts that DO NOT ride up, I ended up getting some crotch chafing that made riding Oats later in the day a mildly unpleasant experience..gRRRRRR…back to the drawing board of maybe running in basketball shorts again!

Friends run together!

Friends run together!

We got to park close to the venue, which is awesome and I really liked. The start was good, and the turnout a bit smaller, as it turns out the Vancouver Sun Run was the same day, so a lot of the better runners were trying their luck out there. I parked myself close to the start because I was darned if I was going to get beat by 1 second bib timing AGAIN!  There is a method to my madness…I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t have a good feeling about the race…

It was NOT an easy run.

I started out fast. I usually start pretty slowly, and to me it felt like I was tearing it up! At a dead run! (not really, but you know, fast). I kept it up and had the dawning realization that to get the time I wanted- the vaunted, unheard of speedy time of oh, 47:50 or so, I was going to have to run gasping for breath pretty much the whole time. That pace leaves you breathless, basically. It was an uncomfortable realization.

So, I ran and ran, feeling like I was out of breath the entire time. I coughed up pghlegm most horribly, and coughed it out on my arm, that ended up smeared across my dratted shorts.

My friend and I ran together, and he was running even faster than me! It was crazy. We got to the turnaround point (it was an out-and-back course) and he was ahead of me by a bit.

On the way back, all I could think about was the hills. Oh, the mild (when you’re not dying and gasping for breath) hills…That looked so innocent from the way down them, suddenly felt like I was crawling up Mt. Everest. My pace died down, I was still gasping and muttering and cursing. My friend opted to walk the hills due to a nagging injury (wise move).

The group that I was catching up with started rapidly being in the distance. They were way outpacing me and I could not keep up. I was all alone, all of a sudden. I was waving at spectators in hopes they would cheer me on a bit more (I needed the encouragement!!!). It was hot, I wanted to stop for water but instead gunned myself on a bit more. Every step felt like I was pulling myself along. All I could think about was stopping. Maybe walking. Maybe never having to run a 10k ever again even??

Finally, after a feeble wave at some spectators who dutifully cheered me on (god, I must have looked like I needed it), the course volunteers were waving me on to the final turn where I ran blindly looking for that 100-m sprint lined with flags. FINALLY!!!

A photo where it actually looks like I'm running.

A photo where it actually looks like I’m running.

I think the spectators really got me going at this point. Some guy who looked like a coach was shouting at me ‘Go girl, get it!!!’ So I (feebly again) cranked it up and went for it!! I saw Ian on the sidelines and gave him a panicked, worried look, haha. I sprint-crawled through the finish line and saw the finish time- 46:52– ME? I got that time? Wha?

My previous best time for the 10k was also this year- at the Cobble Hill race. I was gunning for a sub-50 minute 10k and I got it (49:something) and was totally overjoyed!! And now I was beating my previous PR time out of the water???

After I caught my breath, basically reeling around thinking about grabbing onto a tree or maybe a fence to stop myself from falling over, I was SO GLAD. I really pushed myself, harder than I ever had- and I did it! I was exhausted, my lungs hurt and I was covered, head to toe, in sweat.

Age group winners!

Age group winners!

Great work VIRA- You run good races, fabulous volunteers and the best part? The food! The sandwiches at Sooke were so awesome, and they had my favourite protein drinks, cookies and yogurts. I’m glad to be taking a break for a bit, but I know I’m going to really  miss that rush of racing.

Sixth place! Yeah!

Sixth place! Yeah!

And to cap it all off- I was 6th out of 25 in my age group, Ian was 3 out of 10 and Jared was 8th. A lovely way to finish, AND I won the draw prize for a free entry to the Oceanside Mother’s Day 10k in May. Which I have already registered for! (I guess that promise to myself of never running another 10k was kind of a lie to keep myself going…!).