Events

The marathon countdown is on

Indy & me hiking up Mt. Kobau in Osoyoos in the summer.

24, 26, 30, and 32 down without a single blog post. I thought I was supposed to be blogging about my marathon training?

Maybe I didn’t because those longer runs were draining any desire I had to write about running. When you spend 2.5+ hours running on Sundays, the last thing you want to do is go home and relive it in a blog post. Not that I didn’t have some interesting runs.

I ran a 26km after work once with a backpack full of clothes, work shoes and lunch containers, into a strong headwind along part of the marathon course and then down the Goose. I was going away for the weekend to see a concert in the states, so it was then or never. I felt surprisingly good, although my upper back felt buggered.

I ran a 30km on the hottest day of the year. I ran Elk/Beaver Lake three times (was supposed to be doing a 32km that weekend), and I was so hot and dehydrated I jumped in the lake with my clothes on when I hit 30km (shoes and Garmin removed, of course). Just didn’t have it in me to go on.

Last weekend, I finally ran 32km. The plan was to do it the weekend before, but I ended up racing the Lands End Half Marathon that weekend (more on that in a minute). I went out the night before and had a few glasses of wine, so it took awhile for me to get going. I didn’t end up leaving until 4pm. When I set out, a group of Langford’s finest were stumbling their way to the Luxton Fair, beers in hand. One of them decided to run alongside me, much to the delight of his friends, as I made my way to the Goose. He was stumbling and struggling to keep up, saying something like “slow down, I’m spilling my beer!”, so I ran faster. He gave up after only 20 seconds!

After that amusing episode, I headed off down the Goose to Swan Lake and back. I felt great, took a bunch of walk breaks and made it about 25-28km before the leg cramps started. I ended up having to wait over 10 minutes to cross Sooke Road thanks to a broken cross walk button, which didn’t help the situation. By the time I reached 30km, my muscles were seized up and I had slowed down to about a 7:00 pace. Ugh. I overshot my kilometre estimate too, and finished my 32km still one kilometre from home. I hobbled home in the dark and ate my weight in pasta that night.

So here I am on the taper. I have a 1:30 run to do today. I did I 10km yesterday plus a workout DVD, which probably wasn’t the best idea, since my butt, legs and thighs are screaming at me right now. I need to ease up a bit with my workouts and wine consumption if I want to finish the marathon in an upright position.

More on Lands End: Kirsty and I both ran half marathon PBs at Lands End. So glad I gave up my Beerfest tickets for that weekend…I don’t think a PB would have been possible if I spent 6 hours drinking beer the day before.

It was pouring rain and the course was up-and-down, but I managed to finish in 1:45:46. About half of my kilometres were sub-5:00; crazy, since my usual training pace in 5:30-5:45. It’s amazing what your body can do when your racing.

Kirsty ran it in 1:56; a new PB for her after running the Nanaimo Half Marathon (and setting a PB there, too) the week before. Two consecutive halfs in two weeks; not even I would do that! She’ll be running the half at the GoodLife Victoria Marathon; a sense another new PB for her there, too!

I promise I’ll update more. Now with less time spent running, I’ have more time to write. The countdown is on.

Hitting the Great Wall

The Great Wall Marathon - Photo from www.great-wall-marathon.com

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t laced up my running shoes in 12 days.

In fact, I haven’t done any physical activity besides packing boxes, moving furniture and going housewares shopping.

I’ve tried everything to get out there for a run: setting my alarm clock for 4:00 am (didn’t work – went back to sleep), Tweeting my running plans for the day (never happened), putting on my running clothes as soon as I get in the door (I end up taking the dog out then looking up matching bedroom sets online).  Pathetic!

But I do have to give myself some slack. With the puppy and moving and my boyfriend working 15 hour days while all of this is going on, I haven’t had much free time. I feel guilty for not spending my free time doing something productive, like cleaning or unpacking, but then I also feel guilty for not running.

I bought four running magazines yesterday. I find they are the best inspiration when I’m in the rut like this. Reading about the tips, tribulations and triumphs of running always gets me out the door. If a new mom or someone going through chemo can find time to run, surely I can suck it up and find time. Or make time, if I have to.

I find nothing gets you more motivated to run like a goal race. Sure, I have my first marathon coming up in October and I haven’t run farther than 21.1 km yet…but that doesn’t seem to be enough.

So I have a new goal now, one that was planted into my head by my best friend the other day on Facebook. She has been living in Montreal for the past four years for school, and is coming home to Victoria soon. After graduating highschool and before university, she and I went backpacking in Thailand and New Zealand for two months, and we promised each other we would travel again after university. Well, she’s done, and I’m almost done.

 Yesterday she made the mistake of writing on my Facebook wall that we should run the Great Wall of China.

 Turns out there is a marathon there in May, and if funds are available, we’ll  be doing it.

Can’t think of a greater goal to get me psyched about running more than the Great Wall.

The Fort Rodd Hill Historic hills, rain, fire, delays & baby ducks Half Marathon

Early morning fire that shortened the half-marathon route. Photo credit the Dale Langdon from the Times Colonist website

When I crossed the finish line today for the Fort Rodd Hill Historic Half Marathon in roughly one hour and 49 minutes, I wasn’t super excited or feeling like I could take on the world – the way I usually feel after completing a challenging half-marathon, let alone getting a new PB.

I felt too good to feel accomplished.

My legs felt great, for starters.  When I stopped to lift my foot to have my timing chip removed, I didn’t strain to find my balance and the muscle power like I usually do. I casually walked over to my parents, who were patiently waiting for me to cross the finish line in the rain, and gave them hugs instead of staggering around zombie looking for chocolate milk and a place to sit.

During the race, I kept up a great pace – I started slow and picked it up to a 5:17 – 5:20 pace, and I didn’t breathe hard except when I ran up the hills.  I crossed the finish line with a PB of 1:49:17, but I knew I was a little slower than that.

An early morning fire destroyed part of the Colwood Plaza, and I guess they shut down the portion of the Galloping Goose Trail that we were supposed to run on.  After a half-hour delay, we ended up running all the way along Sooke Road instead of taking the Goose Trail.  Since I knew this would shorten the route, I knew my time was going to be off.  Not knowing your exact distance and time can be an issue for some runners; I know it is for me. Sometimes races or PB goals come down to the seconds, so accuracy is important.

As soon as I got home, I mapped out both routes using Walkjogrun.com.  My best guess is the race was shortened by about 400m.  According to my pace running a 20.7 km race, I should have come in around 1:52, which is still my half-marathon PB by two minutes.  So why wasn’t I completely elated when I crossed the finish line like I was at BMO?

I think the combination of not knowing my exact time and not feeling totally gassed at the end made it feel like just another run.  It was also a small event; maybe 200 runners or so.  Everyone was fairly spaced out on the road, so most of the time I didn’t see other runners; I just felt like I was out on a long Sunday run on the Esquimalt Lagoon loop.

Or maybe I’m just becoming more efficient, and should start to step it up to the marathon distance?

It was a great run, though.  The jazercise at the start was quite amusing, and it was a well-organized race.  The scenery was great, too; the lighthouse, the old historic forts, and the lagoon are definitely the highlights.

Other highlights for me included seeing my friend Meghan watching out of the window of her house, then coming outside to cheer me on when I ran past.  It was also kind of cool seeing the damage from the blaze, although I do feel bad for the owners of that property. I got to meet Kirsty, which was great, and see her come flying down towards the finish line in great form! I also saw some cute baby ducks waddling along down on the beach at the lagoon – all in a day’s run!

So what did I do right this time as opposed to my last half-marathon? I think the constant excercise and running the week prior had a lot to do with the condition of my body during the run.  I’ve also been doing yoga three times a week to stretch and breathe, which I think helped a lot. 

So what’s next? I would like to do two of the GutBuster Trail Running Series runs, and will be adding kilometres to my Sunday runs to build up to the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon in October.

But for now, it’s time for feet up, rolling-pin, lap top and food!

Constant state of taper

I’m going to try something different this week.

For the past few half-marathons, I’ve been taking it pretty easy the week before a race.  I might do two runs, one 10k and one 20-minute easy run, 30 minutes of yoga and maybe free weights.  The week before the Oak Bay Half, I did one 30-minute run and one 20-minute.  The problem is, I’m training for a marathon, yet when I sign up for these half-marathons, I feel like I’m in a constant state of taper.  I think to myself, you have a race next week, you can take it easy… but really, I should treat these races as part of my training, since they are not my goal races. 

Or maybe I’m just using that as an excuse to be lazy?

Not this time.  I’m filling my schedule this week with normal workouts – 30-, 45-, 30-, 30-, and 20-minute runs, free weights twice this week and at least three 30-minute yoga sessions.  Friday will be my rest day.

I ran the Fort Rodd Hill Half-Marathon loop once, minus the portion down by the lighthouse.  It’s about a 10km loop, and I ran it in about 55 minutes.  Let’s see how my training schedule will affect my race on Sunday!

Well, it’s been a month

Remember how I said no more half marathons for at least a month? Well, it’s been a month (almost), and next weekend I’ll be running the Fort Rodd Hill Historic Half Marathon.  How could I not run a half marathon in my ‘hood?  I used the Esquimalt Lagoon loop route as part of my training for the Bear Mountain 10K.  I decided right off the bat that I would not be going for any time records here, since this route involves a HUGE hill, one comparable to some of the hills on the Bear Mountain course.  According to the route map, it looked as if we would be running up this hill; however, after Kirsty pointed out to me that the elevation map showed otherwise, I might try to go for a decent time – decent in the sense of around the two-hour mark, considering my lack of training in the past two weeks. 

I’ve been a bad runner.

I’ve done maybe four runs since the Oak Bay Half, and a handful of workouts.  I’m just transitioning to a new job for the summer (a really awesome job by the way, one where I get to write and blog about travel and get paid for it!) so I’ve been busy and haven’t figured out my workout schedule yet.  It’s okay, though.  I have about four-and-a-half months to train for the full RVM, which, by the way, is now known as the Goodlife FitnessVictoria Marathon. I can’t wait to dust off the ‘ol bike and take the Goose to work again – lucky for me my work has change rooms with showers, so I don’t have to sit there with helmet hair all day.  It’s nice to mix up the running with a bit of outdoor biking now and again.

No more half marathons…for at LEAST a month

 

Me running the Oak Bay Half

Running the Oak Bay Half, trying to keep up with Mere (to the left). Photo credit Yan Lyesin

As I shuffle around in pain in my condo today, I will think about the do’s and don’ts of running half marathons.  The first being, don’t run races two weeks apart until you become a running machine; you will hit the wall a lot sooner than you expect.  The second is, you know not to start out too fast, so don’t do it.  I could blame that on the fact I saw a friend at about kilometre three and I wanted to run with her, so I kept up with her pace of about 5:05 for 13kms.  We ended up running to the halfway point at about 54 minutes, four minutes faster than my last race in Vancouver.  I told her I was going to hit the wall, probably to excuse myself if she left me in the dust, which was another mistake.  By running too fast and getting myself in that mindset, I got a cramp, my legs got heavy, and I watched her fade into the distance.  The rest of the race after that was a slog; I got cramp after cramp, and my legs didn’t want to move.  It was interesting reading Tori’s post about her Oak Bay Half experience, because I read a similar article in iRun magazine about your brain telling your body to quit before it’s ready as a mechanism of preservation.  I kept trying to tell myself my legs are fine, but the nasty hills in the last few kilometres told me otherwise.

I actually ran a decent time of 1:56:18, which I would have been elated about two weeks ago.  But when you run a faster time two weeks prior, running a slower time is disappointing, but at least it made me learn a lesson: listen to the  advice from training programs and running magazines, it really DOES help.

BMO Half Marathon: success!!

I can’t believe I set a new half-marathon PR in Vancouver, considering the three glasses of wine I had the night before and sleeping for roughly four hours on a sagging fold-out couch in a small room with four other people.   Oh yeah, it was also cold and started to pour as soon as the gun went off, despite a gorgeous – but windy – day prior.

My boyfriend Tyler and I headed to Vancouver early Saturday, did some shopping and met up with my friend Laura and her husband Jordan later on.  We signed up for the race because Laura wanted to try her first half, and I thought it would be fun if we all went along.  Laura ended up injuring her foot and couldn’t run, but we all went anyway – I was excited to run in Vancouver, but Tyler and Jordan probably wouldn’t have been upset if we cancelled the trip altogether.  I actually thought I may have been the only one running, considering the three pitchers of beer they consumed the night before on Granville Island as we watched the Canucks pulverize the Black Hawks.  But surprisingly, they all managed to get up on time on race day.

One thing I didn’t expect for the BMO Marathon was the hills.  Heading through town, I felt a little slow through the up and down sections, and I saw Tyler pass me a few times; I tend to slow down a lot on hills and fly down the other side, but the rain made the downhill sections a bit slippery so I avoided going too fast.  The rain really started to pour around kilometre four, and I tried my best to avoid manholes and grates. 

It was really neat running through town in the rain; to pass the time I pretended I was actually running the NYC marathon.  Homeless folks stood scattered on the sidewalks on Hastings; some of them were cheering, others pretended to jog alongside on the sidewalks, but most just stood watching (probably thinking, why would you want to run that far in the rain?!)

There was one part near the beginning where you enter up on the bridge, and you could see all the rest of the runners snaking down from the starting line, a sea of spandex bobbing along the road.  Runners stayed fairly close together for the whole race; there wasn’t a lot of space to pull ahead until you reached the downhill section in Stanley Park. 

Ah yes, Stanley Park. 

I did not expect that long, drawn-out hill.  It felt like one of those dreams where you are trying to run, and you think you are moving your legs, but you aren’t getting anywhere.  At that point I was thinking to myself, there is no way I am going to beat two hours.  Just before that point, I crossed the halfway mark at about 58 minutes.  I thought maybe if I can run the last half faster, I’ll do 1:56…but not after that hill.  I saw some lady powering-up ahead of me, all muscular and fit with her hydration belt on, pull over to the side to throw up.  Oh no, I thought, that’s not a good sign! Thankfully, what goes up must come down, and I forced my legs to make up for lost time by flying down the hill, not caring if I slipped and fell. 

After a Cliff Shot, I felt loads better and kept up a good pace, refusing to check my watch until 20km.  One thing that I really appreciated was the frequent water stations; the plastic cups sucked, but it was great to have water every two-and-a-bit kilometres.  All of a sudden I was at kilometre 20, and my watch read 1:48.  No way! I saw the dome of BC Place (or was it GM?), blasted Hall and Oates “You Make My Dreams Come True”, and crossed under the clock at 1:55.  My chip time: 1:54:16. Beat mt PR by almost 6 minutes!!! I really was getting faster! I also beat my boyfriend by four minutes, which was a first as well.

The elation I felt after beating my PR turned to pain and suffering as I stood freezing in the pouring rain for 20 minutes waiting for Tyler, Jordan and Laura in our designated spot.  The food tent was too far away and I could barely walk.  When they finally found me, my hands had turned white (I have Reynolds Syndrome, so even the slightest bit of cold is extremely painful), and I was moving at a turtles pace.  After we all had a laugh at my boyfriend’s bleeding nipples and my corpse-like fingers, we slowly made our way to the SkyTrain to get back to the hotel.  Laura had to help me up on the counter to put my hands and feet in the sink so I could soak them in warm water to get my blood flowing again.  We were all total messes for the rest of the day; I didn’t even bother changing! 

Right after the race I was thinking, why did I sign up for the Oak Bay Half on May 16?  Now, even though I’m still very stiff, I’m excited for it.  People can run marathons consecutively, so I should be able to run another half two weeks later, right?

51:24 10km PR!

Had my first TC10K experience yesterday. I didn’t break 50mins, but I did beat my 10km PR by about a minute, so I was happy!  Despite waiting in the cold and the throngs of people, it was a great run.  My boyfriend, his friend and I made our way up to the 40-49 category because we noticed a bunch of 60+’ers where we were standing; I had never run this race before, but my boyfriend told me it’s slow going at the start, so if I wanted to run it fast we should probably move up.  And slow-going at the start it was!  Thirteen thousand runners made their way alongside Beacon Hill Park and out onto Dallas Road.  It’s funny where you run in a crowded race – I had no idea where I was until we hit the turnaround around the 4km mark.  The runners spaced themselves out a bit, but it was honestly shoulder-to-shoulder right until the last 2km.   I did manage to stay within a few metres of my boyfriend the whole way, until the last km when he decided he wasn’t going to let me win this time; he only beat me by about 15 seconds though!

The run itself went great; I managed to keep a 5:40 pace for the first few kms then picked it up to a 5:15 half way through.  After the hill at Cloverpoint, I ran about a 5:00 right until then finish line.  I actually ran a negative split, which I can NEVER seem to bring myself to do.  I usually want to gun it right off the start, because I’m afraid I won’t have the energy to finish strong if I’m too slow at the start.  But I did it (mostly because you couldn’t even move fast through the crowd of people  even if you wanted to), and it worked.  I’m definitely going to try it for the half in Vancouver next week.  I didn’t feel at all fatigued by the end, although my knees started to bug me a bit.  If I didn’t have the half next week I might have pushed myself a little harder, but I’m happy with that time for now.  Overall it was a great race, and I can’t wait for next year!

“Don’t think ‘I have to run’, think ‘I get to run'”

I think it was this past Halloween when a friend came up to me in a bar, both of us in costume (me as a cat, her as a Greek goddess), and told me that I was an “inspiration” because I ran a half marathon.  It was funny because we were on a pub crawl, well on our way to inebriation, and running was the last thing on my mind.  But it was on her mind, and we must have talked (or slurred)  for a good 20 minutes about running; how she used to run but kind of lost interest in it, and how she wanted to get back into it and I inspired her to try it again.  I was flattered, of course, since I didn’t really consider myself a ‘runner’ at that point.  I only really got into it last summer, and the RVM Half was my first event ever. I would post updates on my Facebook page about my run times, and get the “Likes This” thumbs-up from the majority of my girlfriends, my Greek goddess friend included.  Six months later, she is about to compete in her first 10km, and it’s my turn to give her the thumbs-up – I couldn’t be prouder that she stuck with it.

This upcoming TC10k event will be my first TC10k – I’ve wanted to do it forever but I’ve always had to work on Sundays.  I know I shouldn’t be racing, since I have the BMO Half to do next weekend, but I want to be out there with everyone – from the fast and sinewy elites to the nervous and excited first-timers.  I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, and I wish everyone (including my fresh-outta-the-running-clinic girlfriends Ashley and Kristy) good luck and a great run!

1st Half Marathon – 1:59:52

My body was *this* close to quitting on me last week.  On Wednesday night, I started to feel very ill, and woke up the next morning with some sort of food poisoning.  I called in sick to work, missed classes, the whole shebang. Thankfully, the stomach problems only lasted 3 days, and I was able to eat normal food again and go for a quick 20 minute run the day before the race. 

 This was not part of my training plan for the week, which consisted of a 13km, a 10km and some intervals. Instead I lay in bed and ate crackers.  I bet if that didn’t happen MAYBE I could have run faster? I am happy with my time, though – my goal was first to run it in 2:20, which turned into 2:15, then 2:07, and finally I decided that if I ran it in under 2 hours, I would be happy.

My first half was an awesome experience.  I actually got really jittery and nervous heading downtown at 6:30am for the race, jumping out of my dad’s car and into the street while stopped at a traffic light (we couldn’t really get any closer) to join the throngs of people excitedly heading down to the Parliament Buildings.  My feet were numb, and I ended up spending about 20 minutes in line at the porta-potties, JUST making it out about 2 minutes before the gun went off.  The course was packed with runners for the first bit; it must have looked bizarre to anyone facing down Johnston street to see a wall of people in spandex heading towards them.  I started out fairly strong, then lost momentum on Johnston street, only to regain it again heading down Cook.  Heading into Beacon Hill park, the lead runner was making his way out with a police escort; he must have had a good 3km lead at that point. 

After exiting Beacon Hill, I found my pace (and my 45 minute running track, which I thought got erased and panicked because I love it).  It was so great to see people out on the street watching and cheering you on.  I was a little confused when people were yelling “Go Bri!” – I would look back thinking maybe my friends had come to watch, but I didn’t recognize the people at all.  Everyone was so supportive and awesome up through Oak Bay, and at the turn around point I had a second wind (or maybe the Cliff shots kicked in) and ran at a 5km pace.  Coming up Clover Point, I began to hurt a bit, but was distracted from the pain by watching the wheelchair racers, the first pack of the marathon runners heading out onto Dallas road, the folks dancing in ’50s-style garb, the “coach” in his plastic Elvis hair, the strange man standing alone watching in a fedora and trench coat I noticed earlier (creepy), and the encouraging signs near the end telling me that “hills are my friends”.  I was looking at my watch every two minutes by this point, and was kind of unsure where the finish line was; I saw flags, but nothing that said “finish”.  It was only until I was 100 meters away that I realized I was almost done.  I looked at my watch one last time, 1:59:36, and sprinted as fast as I could over the timing mats.  I ran under the clock at 2:00:36, so I knew it would be close.  I thought I might have passed out from running so hard at the end, but managed to shuffle along to get the timing chip removed and have the metal placed around my neck.  I spotted Tyler, (my bf) who was beside me for one second at the start of the race until he took off and ran a respectable 1:44:02.  

Tyler said he won’t be doing that again, but I think he will.  I know I will – what a great experience.  The volunteers and race organizers were amazing and did a spectacular job.  Next year I’m going for the full 42!

I’ve already signed up two more races: the Bear Mountain 10km in November, and the Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon in Maui in January.  I’m going there anyways for a holiday, how could I not do it!  I’m hoping to run it in 1:50, although I’m concerned about training in the cold and snow and racing in the humid, hot sun.  I’ll be spending a lot of time on the treadmill this winter, I guess.

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