We all want the same things: Comox Half-Marathon Race Recap!

Alternate title: (nothing hurts like a bruised ego part #2 and a visit to physical therapy the day after a race).

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Second in my age-group, and I picked up my missing Cedar 12k gold medal too. Ian won a sweet door prize- a growler & fill from Forbidden Brewing Co.!!

So yeah I am in a world of hurt today, AND also my race on Sunday up Island in Comox was…Less than glorious, haha. I wasn’t super optimistic about it, given high stress levels for the past few weeks, absolutely heinous allergies (ongoing), and just feeling kind of beat-down. Nothing glaring, just not feeling super optimal. And I was kind of right, haha.

It was very much a sub-optimal race. I remembered last year and was thrilled with my time then- it felt GREAT!!! And I was rocking it!! I tried to keep that in mind and things just sort of started…Falling apart. It was weirdly warm- much warmer than I thought it was going to be. I immediately started sweating heavily and thought, ‘oh great I’m hot already…’ Unusual for this time of year and I was wearing shorts even- that NEVER happens!

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri, featuring the gentleman that matched me and kept my pace honest at least! 🙂

The first few KM’s I ran fast, but not ‘super’ fast…I recalled the ongoing rolling hills to the turnaround at 10-11km, but what I didn’t remember was the entire way up from like 4-9 is also rolling hills, so I kind of went up and up and up! Hm.

My pace started kind of sucking and I thought well, that’s ok. If I can hang on now, I can make it up on the back end (newflash- I couldn’t).

Went around the turnaround and thought ok here it goes!!! Big burst of speed!! Ahahahaha nope. In my mind I was running fast, in reality, I wasn’t even making up what I had lost. It was kind of demoralizing. I felt hot and kind of nauseous the entire way back. My stomach was churning- not terribly but I just felt strange and not dialed in. We ran to about 16-17KM and the wheels started falling off for me. I felt lightheaded and my legs felt so tired, so heavy. No matter what I was doing, I couldn’t go fast?! I grabbed some E-lite drink and choked on it for a good few minutes. Shoot!

I was running neck and neck with another guy and he even waited when I was choking, to see if I was all right. Hahah nice eh? We were both pretty deep into the pain train…

At 18km I thought yes here ‘s the big push! Andd….flat legs. Each Km was about 5:00/km, which was far slower than I wanted or expected (here’s the ego part again). It clearly wasn’t happening for me yesterday. I tried as hard as I could, and I didn’t have it. I was gasping for breath, and just couldn’t do it.

We finished at 1:36:28, which was far slower than last year but again, I think many of us had the same race and were riding the struggle bus too. I placed 2nd in my age group (which is funny because I was 5th last year with a better time!). And my stomach was just miserable after, took me awhile to settle long enough to enjoy the fantastic chili and snacks that they had on offer. I still think Comox has the BEST after-race spread, hands-down. 😉

Many thanks to the fine volunteers, cheering squads and food servers- they really make this race something special! Even with all my whining and moaning, it was a gorgeous and warm day, and nice to be outside. Today hurts though, and to add the pain I had a great idea to get some active release done on my hip injury and glutes…Woww. Let’s just say I’m glad THAT is over. Yeesh.

 

 

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The one to wait: Sooke Saddle Club Dressage Show and Tell #2

Going into this show (only a mere month since the last one) I had a goal of riding a cleaner, more competent test. I wanted Oats to be more through his back, balanced and listening. I didn’t want his tense, head-flaily test of last month.

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From the last show- photo courtesy of Lois Burton.

And the scores? Yeah, well those can wait. We have other fish to fry.

I had a dressage lesson on Thursday instead of jumping, so I could prep our mindset for the show- and it went quite nicely. I was very pleased with how Oats was responding and felt like maybe this was a good omen for the show? A softer, listening and more responsive horse? Could be!

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Also from last show- happy to say there was improvement this time! Photo by Lois Burton.

Saturday the show was hot hot hot! I, in my infinite wisdom (thank god, b/c it usually only goes one way with me, ha) had decided to only sign up for 1 test. Good idea, me! Oats warmed up okay…But his canter was resistant, high-headed and draggy. I wasn’t super impressed with it, and quickly got annoyed. I asked Christina, who hauls us and is an experienced dressage rider at third level, for some advice.

She suggested I throw in some shoulder-fore at the canter to really work on more straightness and solidify the half-halts. So that’s what we did, and wouldn’t you know…it worked! Got him off my hands, listening better and more engaged. (Note- he sometimes flails into a flying trot while doing this exercise, but hey, baby steps).

We went into the test and wouldn’t you know, it was awesome!! Things we mucked up- my 15-metre circles were WAY too big, and my lengthens did not show enough differences…But otherwise, a really solid test and an improvement for both Oats and I, markedly, from last time. I could feel it!

The judge was very complimentary- she said didn’t I tell you to move up last year? And I said, but I did! This is my move-up! And we had a laugh at that. She ran us through the circles a few more times to work on my geometry, and we did a few lengthens in the canter- very exciting!

And then get this- she ran us through a Level 2 test! Just for fun, to play around with what is being asked at a higher level. It was hilariously bad, but super enjoyable to play with it, and see what happened! It made me feel fired-up and excited 🙂 Even though we kind of sucked at it. And our score for the level 1 test? A very generous 70%!!

Everything at the end of everything: Sooke Saddle Club Dressage Show’n’ Tell recap

I feel like each year I do these, my first show is very ‘blah’ and I’m not overly thrilled with my test riding/Oats’ performance. This year was no exception. It’s like we need an outing to kind of be crummy/not exceptional to figure out what needs to be fixed.

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Last year. 

This season we made our first ‘First Level test 1’ debut though! And I was happy with how the test rode generally, I wasn’t pleased with the level of cooperation and roundness I got from Oats in it. He was quite resistant, balancing off my hands, his canter was quite high-headed (to say nothing of his canter lengthenings..ha.) All in all NOT our best work.

We also rode our Training Level Test 3- and a brush fire had started in the Metchosin hills, so in the middle of my test a fire siren started BLARING from the fire hall! WHA? Oats is apparently a saint, because he didn’t blink an eye at it…It freaked me right out, and shattered my concentration. Soooo yeah, that test. Ha.

Oats however did spook VERY hard twice at ‘A’. Silly pony! In my first test he also stopped to poop at A and then spooked at it later. ARGH!

I really liked judge Melanie Houston’s take on Oats and agreed with her on the points that needed to be addressed.

So like, yeah it was fine. A nice day, tests rode ok, but I’m honestly at the point now where ‘ok’ doesn’t cut it? Our next show and tell is in July and I have higher expectations for us by that point!

 

VIRA’s Comox Half-Marathon Race Recap!

Wow, where to begin? I was definitely gunning for a better time at this race. My previous half-marathon in the fall showed me I am capable of more (I ran a trail half at 1:40), which very much surprised me. I was coming out of my year-long racing funk and things were looking up!!

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Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

I haven’t traditionally had great times at the Comox Half-Marathon. Our first time running it, I was so new to the distance we raced it at over two hours! Crazy eh? (2:05 as I check back with Raceday Timing). It hurt, it was hard and I wasn’t sure about this longer distance at all.

But, things improved. Piece by piece. The year after, we ran it at 1:45, which was HUGE for me. Wow! But that’s when things started to plateau/actively get worse for me in my body. I struggled last year with my breathing. For some reason, my VO2 Max seemed to get a lot worse and I was frequently gasping for breath. It felt like someone was squeezing my chest. I couldn’t get enough air, and almost collapsed at a pretty horrible race, in what felt like the penultimate bad decision…

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Real close up to the finish- Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

Anyways, so my times at Comox last year reflected this, somewhat. I raced at a 1:44, which to anyone looks like success eh? Well, numbers don’t show everything, do they. I wasn’t happy about it, but then my Halloween Half Marathon with MEC showed me that hey, I was getting over this bout of weirdness!! Yeah!

And now…how did this race go? The big one?

It went GREAT!! I started cautiously (relatively…It still felt so fast to me) while I ran the first 9km between 4:30-4:45 at the worst end on the longer hill). People who I typically race around took off like a shot! I felt anxious about this. I couldn’t even see them anymore…Yikes.

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Very determined to the finish. Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

But, the half is a much longer race, so I had time. So I hung on, and carefully watched and ran conservatively. It was amusing, because in my ‘careful’ pacing I ran with several other runners who were maybe at their max earlier…And I could hear them plotting to catch up to and pass me. And they did! But…I kind of knew they weren’t going to be able to hang on to that and it was at like, 2km. Soooo yeah, slow down guys. It’s a long race 😉 And I am a crafty person.

So I kind of laughed to myself and focused more on running a strategic race. It came to a head at 9-10.5km/the turnaround, when I was playing a bit of leapfrog with a runner who was starting to irritate me (well, and me to him probably). I knew I could outpace him, but I wanted to push him a bit, see where this was going. You can guess, he ran up, passed me, I dogged him a little…He clipped my heels when I managed to make another pass, I let him go ahead, and then dogged him…And then around the turn I blasted off!!

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Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

Goodbye! I wasn’t running at my maximum at all!

I did not see this runner again. But now it was my turn to really max out my race. It was also a very long downhill stretch (my right knee is NOT GOOD today because of this….yeesh). But I could use it, and I sure did! I clocked km’s at 4:17 and 4:12, which shocked the hell out of me. Wha? I can and am doing this?

I started catching up to the runners I usually race with. They had been so far ahead I hadn’t even seen them the whole race and here I was, coming up behind. It felt really good!

I rocked the ‘faster than usual for me’ pace up until oh, 17-18 km which is traditionally a real dead zone for this race. It’s flat, lots of cars (an open course) gravel, and just…soooooooooo long.

My pace faltered a bit, but you know what? I didn’t stress and fuss. I picked off another few runners coming up the last few KM’s, which again surprised me. Usually I am getting passed at this point.

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Ian and my ribbons. The couple than runs together 😉

I was wishing I had grabbed another Gatorade drink at the 17km marker. It was really nice out, warm, sunny and I was getting hot and thirsty. Oh well! I came over the bridge, lost some momentum doing that, and then began the long run to the finish. I was so happy, people were calling to me ‘Go girl, get it!!’ 🙂 YESSS!! I got it!

I finished smiling, with a 1:34:55 for my personal best in the half, good enough for 5th place in my age-group and 11th woman finisher. A great race, well-run with over 100 generous volunteers, good cheering sections and the best food around! I enjoyed the chili and cheese and bread very much.

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!!!

Race report: VIRA Cedar 12k (er…11.9k)

This was an exciting race because at the last minute the course had to change! A car hit a hydro pole, so crews were out at work on-course the morning of the race. The host club- Bastion Run Club- had to work fast to re-route the course and save the race!

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From the start line- photo by Lois D’Ell/Ceevacs Roadrunners.

They did a fabulous job. The re-route was slightly short- my Garmin read about 100m short, so not certified. BUT it was a lovely route, along some farms, quiet road and very scenic. Slight rolling hills but nothing compared with the prior BIG hill the Cedar 12k usually features, so times were indeed faster this year (well also it was short).

I wasn’t interested in racing this one balls-to-the-wall because I wanted to run during the week and save my race efforts for some other races – and quite frankly I am still riding the high of reaching my 10k goal at Cobble Hill, natch!

So, my husband ran with me (he was also not racing hard for this one) and we worked on some pace strategies. I want to try to see if I can maintain a 4:30/km in a race scenario longer than a 10k. Could I this past Sunday? Not quite! I was at 4:32/km which is close and I was pretty happy with that. It felt hard, and my legs were tired, but it wasn’t an insane gasping-for-breath pace that a tough race effort would be.

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At the turnaround: Photo courtesy of Ross Palfrey.

My next goal is to try and take that pace longer- for a 15k. Can I do it? Maybe? Not sure!

The volunteers kept us safe on the new course, the scenery and weather were FANTASTIC and a great day was had by all!

I finished the race with a fairly respectable 54:24, which was amazingly good for 2nd place in my AG. This is the best I have ever placed in my AG! It was a softer field for sure, less entrants. I felt pretty gleeful about that, whoop!

We had some great snacks afterwards, the awards went pretty fast and we had time for a beer at Chemainus’ Riot Brewery-score!!! 🙂

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.