VIRA Sook River 10k: Unfinished business?

Ah, our first 10k of the season. I wished I had run a 10k or something a bit longer before the half marathon to be better prepared but I had to wait my turn until this past weekend πŸ˜‰

Photo by Joe Crazy Legs.

The course is a bit more challenging than the other 10k that is on the VIRA race roster (Cobble Hill, we missed that one) so the times do tend to be a bit softer in general. That being said, I have run this one well and very poorly in the past. I was a bit concerned about the hills- not big ones, but lots of rolling terrain and I am finding hills to be an absolute killer recently, guess they’re my weak points!

The weather was SO nice, oh man it was gorgeous. I wasn’t expecting nice- it’s been really crummy, cold, wet, rainy, windy and so blah lately. I went back to wearing gloves and vests I was so cold last week! Hence, I definitely was a touch overdressed for this race.

Running with a pack: Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell

We got there in good time, had a bit of a snafu with the race bibs running out of safety pins haha but I had extra from home so I was golden. We warmed up, and joined the start. It was a fairly non-eventful start except for one very fast runner who got tripped up and fell pretty hard. She was bleeding from quite a few scrapes! She rallied really well though. I saw another runner at the start wearing a regular bra (??) loose hair and generally didn’t look like she should have been at the start, more to the back. I was right about that…She walked about 2k. I saw her on the turnaround, well behind the packs.

Despite those, I had a good start and not much weaving.

Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

My first few KMs were quick, relatively fast paced but I did have some trouble focusing. All I could think about was the turnaround, and how many hills we were going to face on the way back…Yikes.

We headed up to the turnaround and I held the pace ok, but it was definitely really wearing on me. The hills on the way home were rough, not gonna lie. My pace dropped off and I started getting passed, a lot. I ran in a pack pretty steadily the entire way until I got passed around KM 7-9. Ian even passed me! How dare he?! (I think the real mystery is how he can run such a solid race with NO training. Man, I can’t even!!? I’m jealous).

My breathing was a bit ragged and I was sweating heavily, but happy to see the finish.

Finally the finish, wish my eyes were open! Photo courtesy of Joe Crazy Legs

I definitely didn’t rally as well as I could have (or should have??) but I know hills are my weak spot right now so fair enough Sooke, you win. I am happy with my time though! I am clinging desperately to the mirage that is under- 41:00, hahah. My chip time was 40:58, and my gun time was 41:01. Not too shabby for a girl who couldn’t break 43:XX to save her life a few years ago eh?

And that was good for 2nd in my AG and 8th woman overall. A fairly competitive field I think this year.

Best of all? CINNAMON BUNS as a post-race snack AND pizza. What a great day!!! πŸ™‚ Lovely race, good folks, fun to catch up with everyone at the end and enjoy my (second) cinnamon bun even if I did drop it in my car and Gidget ate the rest of it hahah.

Hatley Castle 8k Race Recap

Wow- two years since I last raced this series, and almost two since I raced- period! I did two little races this fall, to whet my appetite to get back out there πŸ™‚ and I can tell you by this race, I was READY.

Pretty much dying, ha my neck is straining so hard! Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

We missed two of the VIRA races- the first one was cancelled due to snow/ice, and we were in Mexico for the second (oh what a hardship eh??) so I was feeling eager for this one. I know Hatley is a tough course, kind of a heartbreaker for people hoping for a good time due to the rolling hills, steep hills, and gravel/trail sections but no matter we were racing again!

The weather was SO nice. Like, amazing. Too bad it’s absolutely miserable right now, lol I am dying it is so cold. Last week the sun was shining and it was around 10 deg? We didn’t need to dress warmly for Hatley, which is funny b/c I swear every photo I have from that race there is snow on the ground, or ice, or it’s hailing and we are frozen.

I know it looks like I’m walking, but I swear it was hard!

We started a bit late hilariously because the main gate was still locked, so they had to go get big snippers to cut the lock off!?!

So good thing it was so warm.

The start is very congested- I started fairly close up, but was still bouncing off folks for a good…1km. Ouch, that does hurt your time a bit. When you pass 1k and start heading to the first out-and-back hill, it thins out greatly. I was passing/getting passed a fair bit until kms 3-4, where I just got…passed, ha. I was running in a bit of a ‘reach’ pace I think, particularly for my inexperience in racing over the past two years (and no hills…and a serious injury…lol). But I kept at it! It felt pretty horrible but, a horrible I could maintain.

Something fun- this time I was ahead of Ian. So when we had two out-and-backs (km 2-3, and km 5-6) he waved to ME this time! πŸ™‚ Now that’s a first!

I had to add this one b/c it makes me laugh. Photo by Lois D’Ell.

I thought I was running pretty well through the trail section but I was definitely slowing down. The transition from the trail to the ridge, and then the loooooong downhill, was much longer than I recalled/wanted. I hit the downhill and immediately felt like I was one step away from face planting most spectacularly, yiiiikes! I am not used to running fast downhill and it was freaky.

Then it was roughly 1km to the finish, and I did…Not run super triumphantly, ha. I was straining, it was rough. BUT then there was the finish! πŸ™‚

And I did it! Gun time was 34:13, and that makes a 2 minute personal best for me on this course. I was really happy with that, not shabby at all. I, of course, coughed my lungs out for the next three days…Racing is extremely hard on my lungs, quelle surprise!

Ian finished shortly after me, and we cruised up to get our snack bags and surprise! Sweet swag in it. An Endur hat AND I won a door prize- a super soft t-shirt πŸ™‚ how awesome is that?!!!

A gorgeous day and a good race. Life is returning to normal (at least sometimes).

Cobble Hill 10k Race Recap!

So this is exciting- we had a new start/finish line this year! Previously we had to jog about 700m to the start/finish, from the staging area. Not a big deal but also kind of a pain in the ass, haha.

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Heading to the finish! Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

Apparently this would also make the course flatter/faster?! Would it?? Time would tell for me πŸ™‚

I was fresh off of feeling super irritated about my efforts at the Harriers 8k. It just…sucked. I did get proactive about it, and sought treatment for my asthma (now I am the proud owner of two inhalers- 1 rescue inhaler to use before/after racing, and 1 daily inhaler for maintenance), plus this race I made sure to take an extra half dose of my daily allergy medication just in case (wow, I sound super high maintenance these days…). So I was all set!

I also did not have great expectations. Lately my legs have felt super flat, dead, achy left knee, bad lungs/breathing…Yeah, you got the idea.

I was talking with my friend’s husband about the Harriers race and he too had a tough race- though he is VERY fast. So, it wasn’t just me riding the struggle-bus. That made me feel slightly better.

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A few of the winners- I am the shortest by a head, again. HAh!

The morning of the 10k dawned nice and warm, and what’s that?Β SUn?Β It was crazy warm for us! I was regretting wearing my long-sleeved run shirt. Now, I never regret dressing warmly, ha. It was just a gorgeous weekend! We warmed up, I took my inhaler, and we were off to the start! It was a very congested start- only half the road, so everyone was crammed to the left. I left 5 seconds on the table with that start, yikes.

We were off, and I was kind of struggling. It felt hard, definitely not easy, my legs felt tired immediately and heavy, and my breathing- despite my multiple efforts- wanted to seize. But you know what? I felt like, oh ok well this is how it is going to be then…A repeat of the 8k…And I just grimly kept running.

And it kept kind of sucking, up until about 5k. Something just CLICKED! In my body!

I felt solidified, I felt energized, I wasΒ doing it, by god!!Β  I gathered together my energy, and I started really running, and I mean it. I was actively racing! I honestly haven’t felt that kind of ‘try’ in my body for over a year. It was really exciting πŸ™‚

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This photo is courtesy of Lois D’Ell.Β 

And I ran, and I ran. I was finally doing it!

I was running a race, rather than being run off my feet by it. I quite literally found my stride. It felt so good, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I felt to be running a race that I felt like I could actually run, rather than struggling or suffering.

I wrapped up and my time was fine- I got the same time last year and was mad, but this year, I have been trying to manage so many other health issues that to be quite honest, it made me happy! Am I back?? Maybe too soon to tell, but I felt good about it.

Chip time was 43:32, gate time was 43:37, good for 5th in my AG and 14th woman. YEah!!Β  A lovely day with some AMAZING food- pretzels from True Grain!!

Prairie Inn Harriers 8k Race Recap: When the problem is you

Yeah it sounds like a grim title, and it isn’t really that terrible BUT I raced on Sunday (ha before the snow really started flying!) and I wasn’t pleased with my body, my results. The race itself was fine, the volunteers are excellent and I even had pizza and cupcakes after! YEah! But during the race, I had a hell of a time trying to breathe. It felt like someone was squeezing my lungs. My throat was on fire from straining to suck in air. I was red-lining the entire race, at a pace that shouldn’t be a problem or issue for me. It was also quite windy, and we faced a real headwind and cold blowing air for a bit of the race. Fun times!

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I got passed by everybody at the finish. Wow that was humbling!Β 

I was just totally fried. And after the race, my damaged lungs were like, filling with fluid or something? I coughed and coughed and coughed all afternoon/night, horrible racking sounds with a deep chest rattle. I honest to god sounded like a 90 year old person with COPD or something. It was extremely unsettling and really alarmed me. In a moment of desperation I dug out my old inhaler and used it, and was finally able to breathe normally before bed.

Now, this struggle with asthmatic breathing isn’t new to me- in 2016, almost all of my races were shitty and I had some really scary incidents where I thought I was going to pass out because I couldn’t breathe- at all. Finish lines, etc. When I was running the track series, I would cough ALL night.

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I’m a fairly experienced long-distance runner with lungs that are apparently ‘superhuman’ when they were tested two years ago, so really WTF is going on? I had my lung capacity tested, stress-tested (off the charts..), and heart checked with an echocardiogram. All perfect. I ended up getting an inhaler, and regular allergy meds (I have a terrible, year-round allergic cough), and also iron pills for my extremely low iron. That seemed to fix it?

Even now, my throat feels scorched from the efforts on Sunday- and it’s Wednesday. And I still have a sort of cough.

The race was very disappointing, primarily because it felt like my body betrayed me. I tried as hard as I could, and I felt like death, for a minute slower than last year. Ironically, I ran that race with a nasty chest cold, and when I finished I coughed so hard I pulled a muscle in my ribs. ??????

It’s annoying to try so hard and get nowhere. I feel like I am going back in time, to 2016. People tell me that I need to be kinder to myself, to my body. I feel like I can’t sometimes- I want to push, to punish, to try harder, force myself, challenge myself, make myself do it.

That’s not the answer, but it has been my answer- and it worked in the past. Races are really all relative though, so who knows?! Athletic performance is always a bit of a crapshoot, haha.

So my next steps? Get a new, not two-year-old expired inhaler. And then we will see!

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, soΒ  how good is this timing? πŸ˜‰

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.Β 

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. πŸ™‚

Cobble Hill 10k- VIRA race recap! (nothing hurts like a bruised ego)

Going in to this race I was unreasonably cocky. I was feeling good for once! No nasty chest cold, no coughing my lungs out, no rib muscle injury from coughing, no groin-tendon pull, it was smooooooth sailing and therefore I was owed a new PR!

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Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell of Ceevacs Running. The face of success! Not.Β 

*newsflash to me* that’s not really how running, racing or life works.

Sadly!

I think because I ran a surprisingly good race at the 8k while still being pretty sick, I indeed thought that a new 10k PR was basically in the bag. HAhh. I ran this race and felt pretty darn good for oh, 2k. And then I started feeling the drag, and it was then a pretty miserable slog for the rest of the race. I just couldn’t get over how much I had to fight for my time- I was working really hard? For what? Jeesh.

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The one time a 43:38 netted me a second place age group. Hah.Β 

I kind of wanted to give up and walk, to be honest. Be a bit of a sore loser. But then I remembered that racing is hard, that the line between a new personal best and getting a slower time than last time is razor thin. It was tough, I was gasping for breath, my legs felt uncooperative and like lead. Just..ugh. So ugh. No sprint, no victorious feelings, no rush no nothing. Just pain train.

So it was a sucky, hard race where I thought I could waltz in and like, smash my record. I don’t really feel that bad today, but my ego sure did hurt yesterday and friend, nothing hurts like a hammered ego!! πŸ˜‰

My tendon injury was also tugging a LOT yesterday and ached last night. Sighhhh love it when that flares up. Oh well, the weather ended up being pretty darn good (chilly but no rain) and the food and snacks after were lovely! Except my rotten dog got sick of me leaving her in the car so she ate some of them. I came back from my cool-down run and found gingersnap crumbs all over the backseat and she had gnawed on a really nice large pretzel. Bad dog!

And a big thank you to the over 60 volunteers who make the run series- and this race- a safe, fun and enjoyable experience year after year! πŸ™‚

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 alsoΒ 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!