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: 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 🙂

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: 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.

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 🙂

 

VIRA Hatley Castle 8k race recap: In a slump? Beginner’s luck?

As always, thank you to the volunteers and organizers that make a fun race happen. It couldn’t go on without their work! I love the series so much. Do VIRA races, support the local race community!

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So, this was me last year. When I actually…ran well.

I’m going to preface this possibly whiny post with the fact that I still enjoy running and my training has been going awesome! I had a great long run last weekend and felt fantastic after.

So, why then does this not translate? My races have been dumpster fires, mostly.

Now, this one wasn’t bad- I enjoyed the race, my mantra/goal for the race was ‘control’ as I wanted to run very carefully and ‘in control’ throughout the whole race.No getting run off my feet, no pushing a pace I couldn’t keep, frantic breathing, gasping for breath and choking on phlegm, dead legs. No pushing my body past what it can do.

And did I do it? YES! I ran a solid race, was paced very fairly in a good pack of runners. I even ran confidently at the slower, more controlled pace. I trusted my legs, my breathing was better (not great, but better at a slower pace) and I even felt fairly relaxed during it.

The last 1km or so was still kind of horrible and I was gasping and ready to hurl, but hey…always is eh?

And how did this controlled, focused approach do me for time? Ha. a minute and a half slower than last year. Last year I ran it in 37:19, and felt rough but doable. This year I ran it in 38:44 and felt rough but doable. What gives?

Why am I backsliding so badly this year? I’m really struggling with my races, where last year I was running faster more confidently. I want that ‘old me’ back.

This race I didn’t give in to my ‘give up’ temptation, that horrible voice in my head that eggs me on to give up, drop out, just walk. I didn’t even feel that need, because I was running a race I felt comfortable doing.

So, that was a big win. But, the nagging question for me- Why so slow?

Possibly I had beginner’s luck last year, and was running pretty great times kind of on a whim. Lucky me, then. But it’s bad because I keep wanting those times, and quite frankly expecting to get them. And I’m not.

So, I am having a tough time with it, but I am still enjoying training a great deal. I still like running, and I hope I can either turn this season around, or find a better way to measure progress, as it’s just not happening the way I wanted it to.

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!