Glenbow Ranch 5Peaks Enduro Race Recap

As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous posts (and in great detail in the post that got deleted, grr) I’ve been dipping my toes into some trail running this summer. There are a few reasons for this:

1) It’s a great way to develop yourself as a run and prevent some of the overuse injuries that plague road runners by the variations in pace and terrain that trails provide.

2) I have some friends who are into trail running (and ultra running) and it looks neat. Ultra running has recently started to intrigue me since I’m always looking for new ways to inflict pain on myself.

3) Because I live in Calgary and have all this basically in my back yard:

fish creek rundlebanff hoodoos

This summer we’ve had some great weather and I’ve been taking advantage of it and getting out of the city almost every weekend. It may mean that my apartment is messier than usual, but so worth it.

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Last year I did a couple 5Peaks races, and loved the courses and general vibe. They’re perfect for those looking to get into trail running since they are relatively short, and have at least two race lengths for each event. This year I decided to try the longer of the two courses, the “Enduro”, for my next two 5Peaks. A few weeks ago (July 19) one was held at the Glenbow Ranch, just Northwest of Calgary outside the town of Cochrane. It was to be my maiden voyage in my Oiselle Flock singlet, and to commemorate the occasion, Ashes helped me lay out my race outfit.

photo(38)

This was going to be my longest trail race yet (13.5km, a mere drop in the bucket for trail race lengths) and I was nervous so I convinced my mom to come along and cheer me on. That Saturday morning, we drove out together to the Ranch.

photo 3

The Glenbow Ranch is located in the Bow River valley and full of beautiful rolling hills and a few trees.

photo(37) photo(36)

As I was checking in, I said hi to Tina and Angela who both volunteered and ran the Sport (shorter) distance. Another benefit to the 5Peaks series are the amount of Cliff Bar samples and various other tents to check out while you wait to run. We hung out for a bit and snacked on mini Cliff bars.

photo(33)

Rocking the Oiselle Stride shorts, Nathan pack, ProCompression socks, Saucony Trail Kinvaras, and Thrasher hat.

After the kid’s race, we lined up for action. Tina, Ange and I started together then soon lost one another.

photo(1)

The course was lead us up a paved pathway and up a hill before we dropped down a rocky path through the trees and back into the valley. I ran (slowly) up this hill, but planned to walk most of the other hills, especially during the first loop (of two loop course).

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The course was a mix of paved trail and gravel path, which made it less trail-y than other 5Peaks, but still had some seriously hills making it just ask challenging. While walking up a hill, Ange passed me but I shortly caught up again and we ran most of the first loop together. This was nice because it was quite exposed and hot, and we both wanted to focus on taking it easy and enjoying ourselves. Neither of us were out to prove anything that day. We walked the larger hills and talked about our cats. The final hill, before the Sport people head back down to the start line, was an intense switchback in the hot sun. Ange left me and I was dreading running the whole course again.

Just ask she took off, my mom appeared! She walked along the course with me for a while as I complained about how hot and hard this was and munched on a gel. When we arrived at the gravel downhill again, she let me go and off I went for lap 2.

Thankfully, it clouded over slightly and I got my head into the game and a good rhythm. Lap 2 was generally peaceful and comfortable.

photo 2

Walking hills means you have time to take pictures

photo 1A tall guy and myself kept passing one another, and he commented on how speedy I would get on the downhill. We were close at the end and walked together up the switchback. Coming back down the hill leading to the finish he had more gas in the tank (and significantly more gravity-aided momentum) and left me in the dust. My mom cheered me on and took photos as a nearby child threw grass on the pathway.

photo 5 photo 6

And I crossed the finish in 1:36!

As the awards started, it clouded over and started raining lightly. My mom and I made motions to leave, but Tina convinced me to check out my placement just in case. And turns out…

photo 4

I got second (out of 3, still counting it)! Maybe if I didn’t stop and walk after Lap 1 I could’ve gotten 1st (we weren’t too far apart), but it was worth it, I needed a little mental break with my mom.

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3rd place left before the awards, I swear.

So there you have it! 5Peaks, always a good time. In fact, I’m running another one tomorrow! 16.5k, crap. Wish me luck!

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Angus Cattle Run 5k Recap

Don’t you love it when you write a whole post then it doesn’t post and your draft is deleted forever? Me too and that’s exactly what happened the first time around I wrote this post. Then I got lazy and never rewrote it and just neglected my poor little blog. Moving on.

For those of you who don’t live in Calgary and don’t know much about this little metropolis on the base of the Rockies, beside our awesome mayor, the other thing Calgary is known for is its annual week of rodeo and celebration of agriculture (and debauchery) called the Calgary Stampede. I have participated in a wide variety of Stampede activities throughout the years, but having lived three blocks from the grounds for four years, I generally feel like this during this time of year unless I have something fun specifically planned:

kill all humansThroughout town there is no limit of western-themed events, and one particular one is the Angus Cattle Run 5k which happens to be a fundraiser for Calgary’s Food Bank. I was registered to run it last year, but my body didn’t feel like cooperating (re: I woke up with incapacitating cramps. TMI? Oh well that’s a part of life). I figured that since 100% of my race entry had already gone to the Food Bank, I already sort of did my part and stayed in bed. This year the stars (ovaries?) aligned and I woke up bright and early Friday morning and hauled my ass out for a run (I think it’s safe to say that most people won’t do that during Stampede).

I convinced a friend from work to run with me, so Jen met me at the start (Eau Claire Market). We grabbed our “bibs” (which instead of numbers, had facts about the Food Bank and hunger. Clever!) and cowbells.

photo 5This race also marks the first time I’ve run a race while holding a cowbell. Everyone was doing it! It was actually kind of neat running in a group of people with cowbells all with Food Bank facts donned on their fronts. Kind of like they planned it that way. I digress.

Although this was a untimed “fun run”, I still wanted to push it for a few reasons:

1. I have only ever run one other 5k “race”

2. I wanted to see where my fitness was at

3. Because I felt like it

The race began and I crossed the start line 10 seconds after. We were to run west along the Bow River, across 14th Street bridge (a hill), east on the other side of the river, up Prince’s Island bridge (another hill) and down to the finish.

angusMy “plan” (using that term loosely) was to run as hard as I could for the whole thing. So I did. After the first mile passed, the thoughts circulating through my head alternated between “This is hard. Why is this so hard?”, “Don’t worry, it’ll be over soon”, and “I might puke”. You think hills are hard on a long distance race? They’re just as hard on a short one, IMO.

As I came up Prince’s Island bridge, the finish was nearly in sight and I put the pedal to the metal. The clock read 24:17 as I crossed, which equates to a 24:07 finish time, a PR! Weeee!

Afterwards I ran into Tina and we got some quick massages from a nearby tent. There was also a marching band and pancake breakfast (both staples for any Stampede event). Unfortunately I had a dr’s appointment to get to so I couldn’t wait in line to get any pancakes or wait for door prize draws, but I hear they’re both great.

photo 1 photo 3This was a fun event for a great cause, and I will definitely try to keep it in the yearly rotation (they also have a run in December). I suggest you try it too if you’re in Cowtown!

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Lots of other things have happened lately, mostly trail running including one trail race (recap to come) and my dear ladyfriend Chelsea’s birthday! I made her a flower crown. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate how cute she is.

bday flower princess

plastic bag princess (and homemade slip and slide in the background)

I’ll update you on the rest later. Off to enjoy the summer! Peace!

2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon Recap

Well, what to say about this race? It was… hard. Physically, emotionally, mentally. I’m glad I ran it, Vancouver is still my favorite race so far, but this one kind of kicked my ass.

Dan and I drove from Calgary to Vancouver on Friday. Aside from trying to navigate around semi trucks in the pouring rain for the first five hours (in which I got to drive the whole time), it was a relatively uneventful 11 hour drive (unlike last year). That night we stayed with my friend Sarah, ate some tacos and I proceeded to consume a fair number of liquid carbs while catching up with friends at an 88 Mile Trip show (our friend Dave is the lead singer).

Saturday I picked up my race stuff, wandered the expo, and felt a little sad that my mom wasn’t there with me and instead had to get an MRI of her ankle that night. Her name was still up on the Saucony ‘Find Your Strong’ board and she made me promise I would run extra hard for her.

hi mom

I checked into the vrbo we were staying at for the remainder of our trip then visited an awesome little running store nearby called Distance Running. This is the only place in Canada that sells Oiselle, so obviously I bought a few things.

A couple friends and Dan’s sister came over for dinner, pie, and a hot tub. I had borrowed a Polar RC3 GPS (since mine needs repairs) and I fiddled around with it for a while. I tried to set up training pages to mimic how I set up my Garmin for races with distance, average lap (mile) page, and average overall pace. I couldn’t seem to figure it out, and reluctantly decided to just scroll through it’s default training pages to see my current and overall average pace. I did the usual pre-race prep aka pietime (aside from taking a picture of my pie… maybe that’s where I went wrong?) and hit the sack. I had a crappy sleep and woke up a million times.

Sunday morning I woke up on the later side (6am for a 7am start) since I planned to eat a ProBar and hit the road. We stayed ~1 mile from the start, so I thought I would run there for a warm up. Since I knew it was raining outside, I donned one of Dan’s old hats and cut some holes in a garbage bag to wear to the start. When I stepped outside, I realized that it was raining a bit harder than I expected, so I woke up Dan so he could drive me to the start. As if I’m “warming up”. Staying dry as long as possible became the new priority.

At the start I quickly checked my bag, went pee, and found my corral right in time. I tossed the garbage back and embraced the rain. Before I knew it we were off.

I was generally relaxed and optimistic at this point. For the first few km I was exactly where I wanted to be, just a bit slower than goal pace. I realized quickly that although I had set up the watch to lap at every mile, it wouldn’t show the time it took me to run that mile, unlike my Garmins. But I could deal with it.

map

Running down Cambie (start to km 3.5) I basically zoned out and ran through the rain and wind, all a nice gradual downhill. When we crossed the Cambie Bridge and ran into Chinatown. I began to feel a bit of tightness in my abdomen. Of course, stomach cramps. There you are, old friend. I slowed down heading into the out-and-back, watching my average pace dip from 8:13/m to 8:42/m. Thankfully the dull pain subsided and I picked it back up again.

01

that’s me on the left with the minty arm warmers

There was a small hill around Quebec St (~6km), so I didn’t see my pace change much. I switched from average pace view to current pace, and it seemed to fluctuate between 8:00/m and 10:00/m. Keeping track of that was annoying so I switched back to average pace and it stayed at 8:42/m. For the REST OF THE RACE.

I was determined to make the pace on the watch move so I kept pushing. It would not budge up nor down. I gave up and kept intermittently calculating my finish time based on the stopwatch and km markers.

The rain let up a bit for the run through Stanley Park. I kept pushing as hard as I could and forgot about the watch.

The last 3k I tried to focus on intermittently picking up the pace, attempting to utilize some fast twitch muscles as my tired, slow twitch-ers were pretty exhausted.

With 1km left I dug deep and focused on seeing Dan and getting warm again. Soon enough, the finish line was in sight and I gave it all I got. I kept looking side to side to see if I could see my man.

shiftyeye mcgee

shiftyeye mcgee

Then I inevitably crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:55:42. Gender place: 1094/6113, category place: 270/1105.

04 05

Past the finish I sobbed a bit. I was relieved yet disappointed yet proud yet unhappy. Such a mix of emotions. I had really hoped for even just a little baby PR to make me feel like despite the injury, I managed to improve. I ran hard, and gave it my all, but that wasn’t enough.

I needed a hug. So I kept looking for any sign of Dan. I made my way to the gear drop tables and checked my phone. Dan had gotten stuck in traffic, and was just able to park, so he missed my finish. My heart broke. I was wet and sad and alone. I felt so defeated. It wasn’t supposed to go like this. It was supposed to be the day I ran my best full marathon and qualified for Boston, with Dan and our Vancouver friends and my mom cheering for me at the finish, after my mom had run her best half marathon. Not a wet, injured half marathon non-PR, walking towards no one in the finishing chute.

Don’t get me wrong, things could have gone way worse. I’m glad I was still able to run and not run a personal worst. I still had an ok time. But not great. Everyone kept telling me I should still be happy but I couldn’t be. I confessed this to Dan later, and he agreed that I should be allowed to feel sad about it. I had my pity party and I’m now moving on.

I finished the day with food, beer, and hot tubbing with some friends.

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I think watching movies where the unlikely underdog takes the win can give you a false expectation when it comes to your own personal athletic pursuits. I knew I was under-trained going into this. The two weeks prior to the race, I didn’t even really try to taper. I essentially gave up. I didn’t even feel much like swimming or biking, and to be honest, I didn’t have much time to do either. Frustration got the better of me. But, at the same time, I wished and hoped that I could somehow pull off a PR and feel magically better about running again. Clearly that did not happen, and I don’t feel better about running. In fact, we’re on a break right now. Not permanently, no, HELL NO. But I need some time away to regroup and let my body heal.

I only have three other races that I’ve registered for this year: two 10ks and one half (which I am not racing). I am not sure if I will register for any more. Maybe I’ll feel better in a few days/weeks/months, but we’ll see. I’m over being injured and I need this time to regain my strength, however long it is.

Till then, you can find me swimming, lifting weights, eating peanut butter pretzels and watching cat videos, plotting my epic return. I’ll leave you with one to lift the mood of this overly pouty recap (lolz).

 

 

Glencoe Icebreaker 10K

The more races I run, the more I realize that progress is not a linear path. When I had only had completed a few races,  trained for each one specifically and they were well distanced from each other, I saw a small but steady drop in my race times. Now that I’m running races as part of my training, it’s a whole other game. Everything is one piece of a bigger puzzle, and sometimes what you think is the whole puzzle is just a piece of a whole OTHER even BIGGER puzzle (how’s that for an analogy?).

not my cat, but she would do this.

(source)

The past weekend I ran the Glencoe Icebreaker 10k. The running store I work at part-time is a sponsor for it, and ran a Learn-to-Run clinic leading up to this race. In addition to the run group, three coworkers, our manager and I ran it together. We also all accidentally matched one another, further amplifying our team group-ness.

I had been debating through the week if I should do my long pool run on Saturday (before the race) or Sunday (after the race). I wanted to have as fresh of legs as possible, but I doubted that I would make it to the pool after the famous Icebreaker post race brunch. I also didn’t know how my shins would be feeling on race day, so I didn’t know if a PR would be in the cards for me or not. It was a tough decision, but I went for pool running on Saturday morning and aimed to just try my best on Sunday.

Calgary has finally decided that it’s spring time, so we lucked out having some perfect weather this weekend. I put on my current favorite running outfit (Oiselle lux side zip and Go Joggings charcoal leggings, North Face Better Thank Naked t shirt, and an extra old long sleeve race shirt) some CEP compression socks, headband, and my Hokas. The race started only a few blocks from my house so a friend and I walked over together. By the time I reached the start, I was ready to lose my headband and race shirt long sleeve and regretting not taking sunglasses. Apparently I’m not used to this sunny springtime business?

This was actually after the race, but you can see how well we unintentionally coordinated our outfits. And how I had to squint into the sun.

This was actually after the race, but you can see how well we unintentionally coordinated our outfits. And how I had to squint into the sun while holding all of my layers.

The start was right at the Glencoe club, which was convenient as you could stay inside if need be, and bathrooms were plentiful. The only issue with the start was the lack of gear check. I lined up at the start with my two pals, Dave and Tyler. We all agreed that we were aiming for above 45, under 50. I was happy that I had people with me to pace me, even if it was just for a while since I wasn’t confident that I could keep that pace.

Mile 1 (7:45/m)

The race started, looped around and headed out along Elbow drive. Dave, Tyler and I had no issues keeping together and I felt strong. I was in a good mood and was happily bouncing along in my Hokas. I mistakenly assumed I could hold this pace the whole way through. At the end of the first mile we started up Mission Hill, the “big” hill on the race. I knew my pace would slow but I had hoped that I could pick it back up at the top.

Mile 2 (8:56/m)

As we headed towards Mission Hill, I realized I should’ve ditched my lux before the race. I was hot. While on the hill, the steam in my legs already started to run out. The energy I had on the first mile was gone. At the top of the hil I struggled with repinning my bib onto my t-shirt and tying my shirt around my waist, while continuing to run.

Mile 3 (8:51/m)

I had hoped I could recover my pace since the next mile and a bit flattened out and descended down, but heading in towards Sandy Beach for the out-and-back I noticed the all-too-familiar cramping sensation in my stomach. Perfect. I slowed and hoped it’d go away on its own.

Mile 4 (10:30/m)

The pain in my gut kept growing despite my attempts to slow down and just run through it. Eventually I was forced to walk and immediately spiraled into negative self talk:

“My body is totally falling apart. I need to take some time to just let shit get back to normal. Apparently nothing is working these days”

“I can barely hold this 9:00/m pace, I’m never going to be able to break 50 minutes for a 10k, let alone ever BQ. Maybe someday, when I pull my shit together. Maybe not. Ugh.”

“I think I’m going to quit running.”

As I neared the turnaround point, my stomach started to relax and I could start running again. I slammed back some water at the aid station at the 6km mark. I had 4km to make this up, maybe I could do it.

Mile 5 (8:40/m)

As I picked up my pace, slightly more positive thoughts started to push out the negative ones. I knew my legs were not on point that morning, and what was I expecting having done a spin class, weights, and a 3hr pool run before a race? Duh. I also realized I had no shin pain, which ruled. These thoughts/justifications made me feel better.

We went through Stanley park and over some rolling hills. I pushed as hard as I could, but I knew I couldn’t get to the pace I wanted.

Mile 6 (8:44/m)

After the rolling hills we were near the exit of the park. I gave what I could for the last mile through a residential area, although it wasn’t much.

Mile .2 (?)

I sprinted hard for the finish and blew a kiss to Dan who came out to watch me finish. I crossed just over 55 minutes with a chip time of 54:54.

I found Dave and Tyler (who finished before me) and we waited for Lauren (the last of our group). I saw Leana just as she crossed the finish line, and we gave each other a big hug. It was so nice to meet you finally!

After the last of our group showed up we went inside for brunch and door prizes. Both were fantastic. I ended up winning $100 to the Tech Shop (which ends up being more with my staff discount, ha!). Also up for grabs was a trip anywhere WestJet flies, cat skiing trip, two bikes with trainers, Garmin 610s…. they were pretty good.

Overall…

I liked this race. The course was challenging but not overly so, and the general vibe of people there was friendly and happy. The bunch and raffle after was a great addition to the race at no extra cost. The only things that were missing was a gear check at the start and bacon at the brunch.

How I feel about it now…

I did what I could with what I had, and I’m happy that I can run under 55 minutes with heavy legs and walking. I’m most happy with the lack of pain in my shins, which makes me feel like I’m actually finally seeing the light at the end of the shin splint tunnel. What a shitty tunnel that is.

fuck that tunnel

(source)

I would however like some 10k redemption in the near future, maybe for the Calgary Marathon? I’m still undecided which event I’ll do.

I feel more confident about the Vancouver Marathon now, and I’m even considering doing my last long run outside, on a path, on my feet (with Hokas). But I’m not totally convinced that’s a good idea. The longest “long run” I’ve done is ~17 miles (27km), and I’d like to get in 20 miles (32km) if I can. I’ve been pool running. I’m not sure if I should hop into a 20 miler, but I’d like to have some sort of idea if I can even hold it together. It’s my last long one before tapering.

Help me Internet. What do you guys think? Should I do a long run outside?

2014 Austin Half Marathon Recap

Hey y’all! I’m back.

Austin was fantastic. We had some great experiences (that I will share in good time). We arrived on a Saturday late afternoon however our bags didn’t make it past Chicago. In a fleeting moment of intelligence the evening prior I packed my running shoes and race outfit in my carry on bag THANK GOD because our bags ended up not arriving until Sunday afternoon/evening and I would’ve been SOL for one of the first items on our itinerary: Sunday morning’s Austin Half Marathon.

Since I wanted to take this as more of a long run than a race, I decided to leave the Garmin at home and my phone on airplane mode (no Nike app) and just run by feel.

The race started at 7am and I wanted to be at the start line for 6:30 AT THE LATEST. I woke up at 5:30, got dressed and ate some oatmeal. I taped my shins and worked my way into some brand new compression socks, trying not to mess up my tape job, which I counted as my race warm up. I think we ended up leaving the house at 6:30 (cue panic attack) and we rushed to the start.

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Rachelle before her 5K and me before my “casual half marathon”

 

As we reached the start the Star Spangled Banner was being sung, and I had no time to search out a just-in-case pre-race porta-potty visit. I couldn’t decide if I was just thinking I needed to go, or if I actually did. But either way, it was time to run. I tried to make my way up to the 3:50 pace bunny (there were only bunnies for the full marathon), but no luck. The crowd was too huge and it was time to go.

so you can follow along!

so you can follow along!

Disclaimer: Brace yourself for some classic race-face photos.

The race started winding through downtown. It was downhill to start, flattened out, and around the 3 mile mark we head up the giant hill that is South Congress Ave.

right…

During the 3 mile climb up S Congress I continued to doge people. It seemed like whenever I’d aim for a gap between runners, it would close and I’d have to hop to the side to get around. Great for the shins, but I survived.

I'm taking a guess, but this might be starting up Congress

I’m taking a guess, but this might be heading up Congress

Around the 4 mile mark I could no longer ignore the pain in my bladder, so at the next water/porta-potty station I hopped in line. In hindsight I should’ve ducked behind a building because the line took somewhere around 10 minutes to get through, and the porta-potty I went into was the second worst one I have ever experienced. Then I had to retie my shoes so that ate up a couple minutes. Whatever, no big deal. I wasn’t “racing”.

The course turned West then North, back towards downtown along 1st Street (running parallel to S Congress), and it was a nice gradual downhill to the 9 mile mark.

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I look like I’m actually dying

03

… but then suddenly better?

Back on the North side of Town Lake, the course went West along Cesar Chavez to just past the Mopac (freeway?), splitting off from the marathon course just before mile 11 and was a rolling uphill till about mile 11.5.

With downtown (aka the finish) in sight, the last 1.5 miles was a tease of “is this the last hill?” thoughts. Typically the answer was no.

06

face and body posture says everything

07

Finally signs started popping up saying “600m left!” (or something like that) and I knew the end was near! For the first time in the race, there were very few people on the course with me. I cruised down the last hill, around a corner and to the finish, clock reading 2:13:something, chip time 2:06:56. Rachelle was on the side, ready to snap my picture.

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Fun fact: The first men’s marathoner finished just after me.

the view from the finish

the view from the finish

I got handed my metal and a water. I walked right by the food table, grabbing a cookie, taking a bite, decided I didn’t want it and threw it out. Then I spotted what I did have an appetite for.

2014-02-16 09.16.26

Yes. Beer at the finish. Amazing. I was indeed a thirsty goat.

I also paid $3 when I registered for a post-race taco. I ate that and it was also amazing.

Conclusion

Yes, the hills were challenging! But I really didn’t feel like they kicked my ass that much. I generally enjoyed the race. It was spectator mania, and since Austin is known for its weirdness, there were many appropriately quirky folk cheering you on.

Despite finishing over 2 hours, I think I would’ve definitely come in under had it not been for the lengthy bathroom break and I feel good about that fact since I was running pretty casually. I didn’t want to push it, and had I brought my garmin/turned my app on/found the pace bunny I may have pushed it a bit too hard and potentially set myself back a bit, or beat myself up mentally for not keeping on pace.

Would I recommend this race? Most definitely, and not just for the finish line beer and tacos. It’s not an easy course, so if you want a race that will push your limits than this is for you. The volunteers were happy and friendly, and spectators lined the course the whole way. It was a huge field, so points if you like running with lots of people with enthusiastic energy.

Not to mention that Austin is a fantastic city to visit, and you will definitely not lack in options for a post race meal or beverage of your fancy. I will definitely run this again!

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Typically I like talking about what I ate before/after/during my races, but I’m saving those details for an extra special Austin round up post later on! Except for the Honey Stingers I ate halfway. There, you have it. Have a good weekend!

 

 

2013 Okanagan Marathon Recap

Heyyyy everyone! This post has been a long time coming (only a month and a half), but I’ve been enjoying some time off from running/talking about running (jk I still talk about running and annoy everyone with it).

So here it goes!

Thursday night Dan and I loaded up the car and made the trek out to Vernon BC (~7hr drive) fueled by cookies and Lil Jon sing-alongs.

Friday Jamie and Jeff were due to arrive, and on their way in I met them at the Log Barn to hang with some goats. This place was AMAZING. Not only are there goats pretty much everywhere (including walking above the parking lot on a little goat bridge), there are DINOSAURS. My mind was blown and I think I hyperventilated for the first 10 minutes I was there.

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On top of the goat bridge there are some pullies and wheels where you can put some corn in a can below and the goats (on the bridge) will use their goat smarts to pull the food up and eat it. Very amusing. I highly believe in pre-race goat-related activities.

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Afterwards back in Vernon, I went for a quick 2 mile run (avg 7:35/mile) which felt great until the end when I got gut cramps and almost had to find a bush to seek digestive refuge in. Luckily I made it to the house in time and crossed my fingers that this wouldn’t happen on Sunday during the race.

Saturday we drove down to Kelowna to pick up our race packets. The start/finish was located in City Park right along Lake Okanagan and it was a beautiful day. The race expo was small, with a Running Room booth and a couple other vendors. One particular vendor, Torq, was selling some of the typical race fuel (gel, brews, bars) so I decided to sample them. And OH MY FREAKIN GOD they were tasty! The texture was great and left no aftertaste. I bought a few flavors and I can’t wait to try them out on a run.

We strolled around Kelowna for a bit then went back to Vernon for a carby stirfry dinner and followed by the obvious: pie. Actually, this was pie-time on steroids. Three different flavors plus chocolate cake. Oof.

2013-10-12 19.37.13

Sunday morning came quickly. I had a restless sleep (probably due to the pie x 3 and cake x 1 induced sugar rush) and when my 4am alarm rang I sprang out of bed and got my gear on (spoiler alert: I was wearing ALL the colors. You’re welcome, spectators). I went for a little 10 min jog, did some yoga and hip stretches, ate my Pro Bar and a packet of instant oatmeal, filled up my bottle with Kona Cola Nuun and set out for Kelowna.

I was able to park about a block away from City Park, and I stayed in my car (frantically texting Jamie) until I saw some other runners making their way to the start. I hopped out and did the same. It was a pretty chilly morning, but thankfully there was a warm tent next to the start to hang out in.

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Best idea ever.

I went pee about 3 times, and said hi to my friend Morgan in the line up. You may have remembered her from a previous post. She’s fast.

They ushered us towards the start at 7am (15 minutes before the start). I lined up right in front of the 4 hour pace bunny. The crowd was excited and friendly, and the girl next to me wished me luck. The back of her tank top and it said “I am running my first marathon for my mother, my best friend” which melted my heart. I said hi and cheered her on when I passed her later on.

Anyways, everyone sang the national anthem and the announcer said some encouraging words before the gun went off about how this is the accumulation of months of training, and no matter how we do we have achieved so much already (or something of that sort). I got a little choked up (big surprise), then we were off.

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Mile 1: 8:49/mi – The 4 hour pace bunny passed me, but I focused on relaxing knowing they were doing 10s and 1s (aka run 10 minutes, walk one) so I would soon pass them.

Mile 2: 8:49/mi – Passed the bunny, and remained in front. Big sigh of relief.

Mile 3:  8:29/mi – We were well into an industrial area by this point, and ran up one of the only “hills” on the course. I was into it and feeling strong. Despite the industrial surroundings, the scenery just outside Kelowna was hilly and pretty.

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I actually have no idea where this photo was taken so I’ll stick it here. But check out my leg! I don’t think it has ever looked like that before.

Mile 4: 8:36/mi – As I was heading into an out-and-back, I saw Morgan running towards me. We got excited and waved.

Mile 5: 8:42/mi

Mile 6:  8:32/mi – As I was coming back towards the start/finish area, I knew Jamie would be there and starting soon. This got me all excited. I hoped I would see her on my second loop.

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Mile 7: 8:28/mi

Mile 8:  8:41/mi

Mile 9:  8:48/mi

Still a random photo sometime prior to the ditching of the arm sleeves. And again with the leg!

Still a random photo sometime prior to the ditching of the arm sleeves. And again with the leg!

Mile 10: 8:40/mi

Mile 11:  8:33/mi

Mile 12:  8:39/mi

Mile 13:  8:18/mi – I think I was excited to be halfway done.

Mile 14:  8:30/mi – As I was heading into lap 2 of the course, I noticed the 10k runners were on their way back to the finish. Eventually I saw Jamie and we yelled and waved at each other. That was cool.

Mile 15: 9:05/mi – I think the pain started to set in around here. My quads were burning and I was burping up salted caramel Gu. Not fun. I knew the ‘hill’ was coming up but not looking forward to it.

Mile 16: 8:28/mi – As I started up the hill, Britney Spears came on and this gave me a cheerful little push to get myself back in gear and my head in the game.

Mile 17: 8:50/mi

Mile 18: 9:03/mi

Mile 19: 9:07/mi – Heading towards the start/finish area, I saw Dan, Jamie and Jeff. Dan was holding out honey stingers and waffles in case I needed them. I ran towards them, gave everyone a quick semi-hug, threw my arm warmers at them and ran away.

Mile 20: 8:56/mi – You can never underestimate the power of seeing loved ones on a course, and I managed to just squeak under 9 minutes for the next two miles. I went into the last lap with my burning quads and a blister forming on my left 4th toe (due to some sock slippage), but knew this was the last 10k and I could do it.

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Mile 21:  8:58/mi – I started around here to chase people, but one little older lady kept passing me. She must have been under 5′ tall. I mentally cheered her on. I saw Morgan again coming back towards the finish. Damn girl!

Mile 22: 8:22/mi

Mile 23: 8:59/mi

Mile 24: 9:10/mi

I'll throw this one in here because it looks like I'm tired and form has obviously gone out the window

I’ll throw this one in here because it looks like I’m tired and form has obviously gone out the window

Mile 25: 8:57/mi

Mile 26: 9:09/mi – Right before we dipped down under the bridge towards the park I heard my name being called and saw a work friend cheering for me! I forgot she also came to Kelowna that weekend. Nice surprise.

Mile 26.2: 8:06/mi – Bjork’s “Army of Me came on as I entered the park. I rounded the corner to the finishing chute and saw Dan, Jamie, Jeff, and now Dan’s mom and sister at the corner. They cheered and Jamie ran along my side to the finish as I sprinted. The clock read just over 3:51, so I knew I was under that.

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I slowed to a walk crossing the finish line and I guess they had forgotten how to walk because I was wobbling all over like a baby giraffe. The volunteers handed me water and threw a medal over my head, and some guy asked if I needed help. But I had my target in sight.

Dan was standing at the exit of the chute and picked me up as I sobbed with happiness and relief. Jamie and Jeff joined us and we picked up my checked bag and found a spot on the grass to stretch and talk about the race.

Dan’s family and Morgan found us. She came in at 3:20, and first in our age category! Jamie also crushed her 10k PR.

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Jamie and I looking surprisingly fresh after our runs and her bearded beau lurking behind.

I had one blister, on my 4th toe. ONE. My feet are usually a mess after so this is a serious achievement (however pictures are available upon request). THANKS PRO COMPRESSION!

Afterwards we shoved our faces full of mini burgers, salad and poutine, then Jamie and I went to taste wine at Mt Boucherie winery (the Okanagan has no shortage of vineyards) and ended up splitting a case of the Reserve Gamay (saying that makes me feel fancy).

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Later that evening, since it was Canadian Thanksgiving, we had a turkey dinner where I hurt myself for a second time that day. I ate so much I couldn’t even contemplate dessert. I felt like a snake that overestimated how much it could process then gets stuck with an entire cow/child/whatever inside.

Thoughts on the Race

I enjoyed the race. The temperature was perfect and I enjoyed the course. I carried my handheld water bottle, but in hindsight I don’t think I needed to. There seemed to be enough water stations and were frequent enough. Often I found when I got thirsty, a water station was around the corner. Also it was my first time doing a two-loop course and I liked it. The second time around you know what’s coming up and where you are. It’s also nice seeing the same spectators out when you pass them a second time. These people have serious dedication to supporting their loved ones and/or perfect strangers which is nothing to scoff at.

I’m happy I PR’d. Very happy. And although it wasn’t huge, I feel as though it was my redemption for the shitty summer of getting flooded out, injured, and all the resulting stress.  I felt comfortable running, there wasn’t really any point where I started doubting myself or got sick of running (aside from wanting to finish so I could go drink with my pals). I could’ve probably pushed a bit harder and shaved off a bit of time, but I knew I was doing alright for pace and was enjoying myself.

The night before the race my mom texted me saying that she “summoned the Stan angels for me”. The next day I kept this in mind, and every time I would start to get tired I would think of how proud my grandparents (living and passed on) would be to see me right then. I thought about the long lineage of strong, intelligent women on both sides of my family, and that I’m a product of their lives and their struggles. I am who I am due to my genetics and upbringing, and that makes me proud.

I’m breaking up with Gu. I carried exclusively the Salted Caramel flavor for the race, which was delicious, but I can’t handle the Gu burps it produces. And it’s not just that flavor, it’s all flavors of Gu give me the burps and the burps taste artificial and metallic and awful. I’ve tried the Gu Chomps and those gave me stomach cramps. I know they work for some people, but I’ve come to terms with them not working for me. Sorry Gu, it’s not you, it’s me and I need to find a gel that’s right for me. I know the Powerbar Gels work, but they make me feel kind of crappy for a day afterwards. I’m hopeful for the Torq gels I mentioned above but I also want to give the Honey Stinger gels a try, and maybe even plain honey.

I think due to carrying the handheld bottle my upper body was all over the place (from what I can determine from the race photos). Now I’m super conscious of this and I don’t think I’ll race with a handheld in the future. Seriously, I look so wonky.

That hand. WTF.

That hand. WTF.

So that’s that. My last marathon of 2013. I’ll talk more about what’s next in a later post, and promise I’ll try to be better about blogging. I had a good blog-cation but I don’t want to abandon it completely. I have some big goals in the works.

My race in stats:

Gun Time: 3:51:14

Chip Time: 3:50:44

Overall Place: 150/539 (28%)

Gender Place: 48/261 (18%)

Category Place: 13/48 (27%)

Avg Pace: 5:29/km (8:48/mi)

Halfway: 1:53:49

And finally, for your viewing pleasure I will leave you with this….

(Clips were taken at 9km, 15km, 30km and the finish. If you watch closely you can see Jamie running along the side <3)

Drumheller Half Marathon Recap + 2013 Okanagan Marathon is 3 Weeks Away

So here’s the part where I tell you about my last race on in Drumheller and how I got THIRD in my age group!

Drumheller is a little town located in the badlands of Southeastern Alberta and it is a renowned archeological area complete with a fantastic dinosaur fossil museum, the World’s Largest Dinosaur, and lots of hoodoos.

World’s Largest Dino (from Wikipedia)

Inside the Royal Tyrell Museum (from Wikipedia)

Hoodoo you do! (from http://www.trekearth.com)

The whole town is dinosaur themed and they’re hiding out everywhere.

(from Trip Advisor)

(www.machka.net)

(www.dinosaurvalley.com)

So if you’re like me and really a nerdy child living in an adult body, Drumheller is an ideal weekend destination for you!

It is also the location of this cute little run that is gaining some popularity as of late. It’s incredibly well organized and enthusiastic. I ran it last year and enjoyed (most of) it, so this year I brought three friends along who were planning to run the 10k.

We drove out Saturday afternoon and checked into the Super 8 (complete with continental breakfast and waterslides). We missed race packet pick up that afternoon but were able to get it in the morning before the race so we had an early dinner and spent the remainder of the evening in the pool and bed.

I brought pie for all, obviously.

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Sunday morning we drove (the whole three minutes) down to the start line at the Recreation Centre (also the location of the World’s Largest Dinosaur, FYI). We picked up our race packages, ate some honey stingers, accidentally turned on a water feature/spray park thing, and waited for the race to start.

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The 10k and Half Marathon started after together, but I lost my pals soon after the start as we all found our respective places in the pack. The race went through some residential areas, then along a road that lead towards the Tyrell Museum before turning towards the river and along a foresty and winding but paved path.

Everything was fairly flat for the first 40% of the race, then we turned towards the museum, went across the highway and up into the hoodoo area. The path changed from road to gravel, with small rolling hills. I lost some speed in this area due to the hills. The downhills were too steep to gain much speed on them, and sometimes ended in sharp turns. It was reminiscent of trail running, and contained some awesome views (see hoodoo picture above).

After the hoodoo loop was done, we ended back at the river path and ran same direction back to the start with the addition of a switchback in a residential area. The last km (or less) we went under a bridge, and ran along the back of the rec centre to the finish line. I saw my gals (who had already finished their races), pushed hard and attacked Chelsea (who was standing right behind the finish) with a big hug.

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Excuse the little circle in the corner there, this is a screen cap from a video that Jamie took

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I finished in 1:53:26 (avg pace 8:35/m or 5:22/km). Not bad, definitely a PR but not the sub 1:50 I was hoping for. In my defense, due to my bum hip I didn’t push as hard as I would have if this had been a goal race, and I feel like I lost some time running through the hoodoo area because I had been running steadily between 8:00-8:30/m along the rest of the course. Still, a PR is a PR, and it is even faster than my first split in the Vancouver Marathon (1:55), which I was unofficially counting as my best half marathon time (in my head).

The other girls did great too! Amber finished in 1:03 (11 minute PR), Chelsea finished in 1:04 (9 minute PR), and Jamie finished in 1:14 (3 minute PR and met her goal of a sub 1:15!). Everyone was happy with how they ran, and I’m so proud of my girls for how far they’ve come in their running.

BUT THEN. When they posted the official results, I discovered that I was 3rd in my age division (out of 23), and 9th overall female (out of 70)! Which meant….

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I got a medal! I was obviously pretty pumped. This is my first medal for an event that has “marathon” in the title.

Then we all celebrated how goats do, with burgers and beer.

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going up inside a dino

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All in all, it was a great race. Beautiful route, a good mix of challenging and flat, well organized. And I’d like to do a big shout out to the ever-cheerful volunteers who handed us water and passed on words of encouragement along the way. See you guys next year!

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OK 3

It’s been a pretty good week, my hip is finally making some progress. It’s not a tight mess anymore, and I’m keeping up with my exercises (I should share those sometime) and rolling on a tennis ball.

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Speedwork Pyramid + Strength

Jog to the gym + 400m warm up then 200m (0:45), 400m (1:43), 800m (3:32), 1600m (7:40), 800m (3:49), 400m (1:47), 200m (0:46) then jog home. I did 200-400m recovery between each rep.

My goal times (from McMillan):

200m – 0:43-0:48

400m – 1:43-1:48

800m – 3:34-3:44

1600m – 7:41-7:53

So no negative split, but still pretty happy with it.

Wednesday – Yoga

Thursday – Mile Repeats + Strength

1 mile jog, 2 x 1 mile @ 7:52, 7:33 (Goal = 7:41-7:53)

Would’ve liked to do one more repeat, but had some Garmin drama so I had to run home to get my old one.

Friday – Easy 3m/5k + Strength

After my last post my mental outlook has only gotten better. Meeting/beating my goal paces has given me some confidence, and since my glute is behaving I think I could actually push hard in this race. I’m getting really excited! I can’t wait to put everything together and fly, and see the result of my hard work. It’ll be interesting to see exactly how I can pace myself without having to worry about hills, and if I do manage to have a big PR, then it will be great retribution for the silliness of the past few months.

I am going to complete my last big speed and tempo workouts, then guess what time it is…. TAPER TIME. That’s right. The bittersweet taper when I ride the fine line between feeling relieved that I am done my training for this race, and freaking out about every little ache and pain and going stir crazy. I apologize in advance to my mom/dad/boyfriend/friends/coworkers/anyone I come in contact with for those two weeks. But I plan on getting out and doing a little bit of hiking, so that will help keep my mind in check.