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half marathon

Perspective – A BMO Vancouver Half Marathon recap.

It has been a long time since I set a new PB (Personal Best) in the half marathon distance. Over 2 years to be exact.

It feels like it has been a long time since I set a PB at any distance.

After my last attempt at a half marathon, in March at Comox,  I was a woman on a mission.

In the 4 weeks before Comox I ran a total of 53km, thanks to the injuries I sustained in that nasty fall I took in February.  In the 4 weeks before BMO I ran 153km.

I felt strong, I felt confident. I felt ready to run a PB.

1:52:something was the goal.  1:40something was the dream. And in the week before the race, I thought it was going to happen.

Then the weather forecasts started to talk about the coming heat.  We were going to have a record breaking weekend.  And I was going to try and run my fastest half marathon ever?


The morning started off well.

I woke up at 4:45 am, at the home of the parents of the incomparable Jess.  I had my clothes laid out, and everything ready.  I got dressed and headed down to the the kitchen were Jess had already started the kettle boiling for my breakfast.

Her awesome dad got up at 5:15am on a Sunday to drive us, along with Jess’s sister, to the start line of our respective races. Paisley was running the 8K, I was running the half, and Jess was tackling the full. We had the entire event covered.

We got to the start area, checked my back and headed over to my corral at the start line. Jess hung out with me for a little while, before she went off to check her bag and get ready for the start of her race.

For some unknown reason, I was in the first corral. I was at the front of the thousands of runners who were lined up.

Knowing my pace, I found myself a spot near the back of the corral and started chatting with another runner.

The race started 25 minutes(ish) late, and for those of you who know how I am about timing my food before my races, you can imagine how annoyed I was getting.   (I will never understand why race directors feel the need to waste our time with aerobics instructors leading a warm up. No one wants to do something new on race day. Don’t waste our time, just start on time!)

The majority of the race is a blur. But I’m going to run down the parts of it I remember.

I remember the first stretch was down hill, and I had talked about this with my coach, and other runners who had raced this course last year. I knew what to expect and I had a game plan.

Hold back.

Don’t get out of control and run too fast on the downhill, it will kill your legs for later.

I checked my pace on my Garmin regularly in the first few kilometers, to make sure I wasn’t going too fast.  I stayed comfortable.  Down the hill, across the bridge, past BC Place & Rogers Arena (and the old finish line), then over toward Science World. A hairpin turn and back where we came.

Out and backs are some of my favourite parts of races. On your way out, you see the fast people who are way ahead of you, and on your way back, you see the people who think YOU are one of the fast people.

Pretty soon it was time for the first up hill of the course. We went through the gates China Town and climbed a hill.  I remember this hill being on the full marathon course back in 2011.

After that, we twisted and turned through Vancouver, and I was starting to get hot and tired.

Plan A was to aim for about 15km before taking a walk break, Plan B was to make it until at least 10km.

My first walk break happened just before the halfway point.  I needed to slow down, get some fluids in and gather myself together.

By this point we were in the west end, nearing Stanley Park.   I was hot and tired, but still on track for a 1:52:00 half marathon.

Between 13 & 14 kilometers, I was having a hard time choking down my fuel. Warm Gu can be a little hard to swallow.  At this point we were winding our way through Stanley Park and it was getting hot.

Around the 15K mark, I really started to feel the impact of the heat. It was draining. And it was clear to me that others were feeling the same.  It was around this point I started to see runners going down.  Some of them slowly realizing they were done,  others just coming to a sudden stop and sitting down, and a few who were already flat on the ground before I passed them.  The last 6km of the course kept the medical volunteers busy!

It was also at this point I saw one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen at a race.

There was this guy running to my right side, and every now and again, he would reach his had out for someone I couldn’t quite see who just just behind me.  He would say things like “come on, we’ve got this” and “just 3 more K, that’s less than 20 minutes”, or “you’re so close to the finish now”.  He was pacing (who I assume was his) girlfriend through the race.

I had realized back at around 17k that I wouldn’t be making my goal. The heat had taken too much out of me so, I jokingly said to him “I know you’e saying that to her, but I’m pretending it’s for me too”, to which he replied “well now I’m doing it for both of you”.

After that, he talked the both of us through the last 2K.

With about 1km to go, we exit the park, and head down the last stretch of downtown streets to the finish line.

This year, you could see the finish line in front of you for about 800m, which was a bit difficult. But between the encouragement of my newly adopted friends, and the cheers of the crowd, I managed to push though.

I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:55:57,  about 2:30 slower than a time that I would have been happy with. But, just on the other side of the finish line, after the volunteers handing out the medals, my new adopted friends were waiting for me to share a post race high five!


Now this is where the perspective comes in.

If I had written this post in the hours after the race, it would have been angry and disappointed about not making my goal. But in the days that have passed, I have realized that, as much as I want to set a new half marathon PB, sometimes you have other victories on race day.

This year, at the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon I only took 3 walking breaks. I ran the first half of the race without stopping, then I only took 3 breaks int he second half.  That is a HUGE step towards my goal of running a half without any breaks in the near future.

The heat really took a lot out of people at BMO this year, and that is one of the reason I don’t like spring races. I don’t like training in the cool, dreary winter weather, then racing on a warm spring day.  Weather is a HUGE factor on race day!


I have another half marathon coming up soon, about 2 weeks from now. It’s much closer to home, so I will be able to sleep in my own bed the night before. Hopefully the weather will be cooler and I will be able to give 1:52:something another shot.  I’ve run this race 3 times before, with my course best being 1:55:28, so wish me luck that I can shave 3 (or more) minutes off of that on May 26th.












Doing it because I can.

I know, I know, long time no write.

Life has been busy! Taking on a 3rd WeightWatchers (long-term temporary) meeting, and covering for coworkers when the need arises, plus working a full time day job, while training for a half marathon goal race has sucked up a lot of my time. And on top of that I’m trying to make it a priority to be social and spend time with friends.

So somewhere, something had to give, and unfortunately it was the blog.

Last time I posted, I said I would be back once the bandages were off of my hand and I was able to type better.  Well, the bandages have been off for almost 3 weeks now!

So why were the bandages there in the first place?

Back in February, I was out for an evening run with one of my coach‘s other athletes when I took a nasty fall.   We were running at night, in the dark and I guess my toe caught some uneven side walk, and the next thing I knew my jaw was hitting the ground and I was laying there, arms extended fully in front of me, wondering how I ended up on the ground.  To make a long story short, I ended up with a sprained ankle, both of my shoulders sprained, a bruised knee and a bruised/swollen/sprained baby finger.

All in all, the fall resulted in a lot of missed, or cut back runs, and a lot of pain and stiffness.   When I saw my chiropractor after the fall, he said it would take at least 6 weeks to get back to normal, that was 5 1/2 weeks ago.

Since that fall, I haven’t run longer than 13K. I’ve been listening to my body, taking it easy and letting myself rest when I need it.


Comox Finish


Yesterday I headed up to Courtney for the Comox Valley RV Half Marathon. This is(was) a favourite of mine because it was my first half marathon 4 years ago, on March 22, 2009.  I have a love affair with this race because I remember the sense of accomplishment I felt when I crossed that finish line! (2:07:32) I have a funny little tradition when it comes to running Comox, I wear the same outfit each time.

The thing about Comox is that it is fun course. It’s an undulating out and back, with the out being mostly uphill, but the back being mostly down hill.





In 2011, I set my current half marathon PB at this race. (1:53:41)

The 2011 Comox Half Marathon also has the distinction of providing me with my WORST race photo ever! I mean seriously, what kind of cruel photographer hides out IN the finish chute to catch the look of pain on your face as you push as hard as you can to get across that line?






2012 was the year Team #yyjrun took on the Comox Half as a group.   Speedy Damian led the team, then came back out on the course to cheer on those of use still out there.  Skye came up, even though she wasn’t racing, and jogged out on the course to meet Kat and run her in.

Afterwards we had delicious home made Nanaimo Bar Cupcakes and had a good time hangin gout as a ‘team’ watching the awards.   2012 was really a fun year!



I have such a great connection this race, it is(was) one of my favourites to run regularly. I’ve now run this race 4 times, which makes it second only to Bazan Bay, which I have run 5 times.

Every year I go in to it with high hopes. I know the course so well, I think I could go up there and run it without the marshals there to direct me.  I know the ups and downs, and the turns, like the back of my hand. This is a good thing, and a bad thing.  It is good in the fact that I know what to expect.  It is bad in that in can lull me in to a false sense of security, a false sense of “ease” with the race.

Yesterday I went up there with a ‘celebratory’ attitude. This race isn’t about setting a new PB, even though it is always in the back of my mind that it would be nice if everything went my way and I did mange to set a new one.


This year, this race was about enjoying the fact that I CAN run a half marathon.  4 years ago I ran my first, yesterday I ran my 16th, and that is a big deal to me. Every time I run a half marathon, it is a big deal to me.

The race started out well enough. Although I know I was going a little fast and my neck and shoulders were just not comfortable.  I’ve always run long runs using the 10 & 1 method (run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute) but this time around I ran straight for the first half hour, before taking a walk break.  After that I only took walk breaks if I needed them. If the alarm went off on a down hill, I skipped the walk break!  I’m not going to waste the assistance of gravity by walking!

My plan was working well until just after the 15K mark.   Somewhere after 15K, I was letting gravity do the work, and enjoying a down hill stretch when my left foot hit some uneven pavement and gave me a good jolt.  I kept enjoying the downhill stretch for a while, until my next walk break. At this point I took a walk to take in some Gu and was faced with every distance runners worst nightmare!  My bladder was screaming at me!  MUST PEE NOW!

When the walk break was over, I picked up the pace again and managed to get a good rhythm going, until I started to notice that my left leg was angry after that jolt.  It just wasn’t moving smoothly.  I kept pushing myself, but it was getting uncomfortable, so I took an unscheduled walk break, only to be greeted with my screaming bladder again.

Somewhere around this point is when I started to notice that my left shoulder HURT.  My posture was falling apart, my gait was uneven, and my bladder was screaming.  But hey, at least it wasn’t a goal race.

In the last 3K I was out of sorts and feeling defeated, and with about 2K to go, Jess  caught up to me, and was quite concerned about the fact that I was walking. She slowed down to walk with me and informed me that she had bonked at about the 8K mark and had been struggling ever since. (Something about a 30K training run 4 days earlier!) So for the last 2K we ran, we walked, we laugh, we complained, we cussed, and then we did it all again!

When we finally crossed the bridge and made the final turn towards the finish, I just remember Jess saying “Where is the finish? I can’t see it, it’s too far away”.  We pushed, we knew the time on the clock wasn’t going to be what either of us wanted, but we finished, side by side and we had a BLAST! A grumpy, whiny, complaining BLAST!


It may not have been my best half marathon, and it certainly wasn’t my worst, but it was my SIXTEENTH half marathon, and THAT is worth celebrating!


After the race I thought about it, and it is clear that my body just wasn’t ready for the distance yet.  It was the furthest I’ve run since the fall, and clearly I am not quite 100% yet.

Now it’s time for a couple days rest & a trip to the chiropractor,  then it’s back to training for my goal race, The BMO Vancouver Half Marathon!

Life After Cupcakes!

Well, it was just over a week ago that I announced that I am giving up cupcakes and today was the first day someone actually questioned me on that pledge!

Aisha says:
*cupcake count this week?
Kirsty says:

That’s right, I said ZERO CAKE! Not only did I avoid cupcakes, but I avoided all cake.

And it’s not like there wasn’t temptation. There was a stop at Starbucks on my road trip… and those cupcakes they are carrying lately are amazing!! There was also lunch at this little cafe in Tofino  where the desert case was right inside the door when you walk in with these huge cupcakes staring me in the face… and I didn’t give in. At all.But seriously, why are there cupcakes everywhere these days???

When my birthday finally gets here in November, I want a cup cake birthday cake… okay? so who ever is in charge of my birthday cake this year, just get me one of those ‘cakes’ that is make up of a bunch of cupcakes on a fancy stand!!! I can tell you where to go get it.

I had a great road trip, and I wasn’t too fussy about what I ate, but I did notice myself paying attention to my hunger signals, and making healthier choices where available. There was a  delicious lunch that I would have normally cleaned the plate on, and I only ate half and took the other half home for dinner. I had a pizza for lunch one day too… but then I made dinner that night and we had salad with chicken breast. So all in all, I balanced it out. Hopefully the choices show on the scale next week at weigh in!

I also got out and walked a lot… even in the rain. But the scenery was amazing, so it was great inspiration to get out there and enjoy it.

I wish I had run while I was away, my legs were not happy with me when I went out for a run last night.  But then again, I was running a pretty challenging route in preparation for the half marathon I am running on Sunday.

I have to say, having a race in the near future makes it easy to make healthier choices. Cupcakes aren’t even remotely appealing in the week before a race! Plus, I KNOW that I run better when I have been eating well, and drinking water in the days leading up to the race.  Hopefully, the fact that I, on Tuesday, am going to be starting to train seriously for a personal best half marathon in October, will help me keep things in line over the next few months!

I’m looking forward to summer arriving soon, so that I don’t have any excuses for not running. I can come up with a million excuses not to run in the winter/spring when the weather is bad, but nothing seems to stop me in the summer when it’s nice out. I’m also looking forward to getting back up to Ucluelet when the summer arrives so I can take more amazing pictures like the one you see here.

So, I have a Half Marathon on Sunday, and then that’s it for racing until October. It’s time to buckle down and get serious It’s time to pay attention to my hydration and my nutrition! If I truly want to run my best ever half marathon in October, then I have to put in my best effort!!!

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”

15 seconds.

As those of you who follow me on twitter know, I ran a half marathon last weekend.  What you may not know is that I was not happy with my time.

You see, I am very competitive. Mostly with myself.

I’ve been hovering around the 2hr mark for my time on a half marathon for the last year, and I was SURE that last week was my time to actually break that mark.  I was wrong I came in at 2:00:15.

FIFTEEN SECONDS??? are you kidding me??? Man, was I pissed. Seriously. I spent the next few days going over the race in my head trying to figure out where I could have picked up speed, where I could have pushed a little hard, where I could have done better.  I was beating myself up over 15 seconds.

Then it hit me.

3 years ago I couldn’t run.  Heck, I could barely walk any distance of significance.  2 years ago, I spent 2 days in bed vomiting for dehydration and exertion after a 10K. And 6 days ago, I ran a half marathon comfortably. Yes, it was my 4th half marathon, but it is still hard work. Yes I struggled at times, but I was comfortable out there. I wasn’t in pain, I wasn’t gasping for air, I wasn’t taking more walking breaks than planned. I was comfortable. I even ended up with one of my best mid-race pictures I’ve ever seen. (that’s me in purple)

The thing is, when I look back at the number of runs I had to miss because of work in the month leading up to the race, I realize that I didn’t train hard enough to deserve a sub 2hr finish.  That is the simple fact of the matter. I didn’t train hard enough.

I also realized something else.  I realized I am a fit person. I realized that I ran a 2hr half marathon comfortably without proper training leading up to it.  That in itself is an accomplishment. I have so much to show for myself with allt his running I’ve done. My body feels (and looks) amazing. I have so much energy now. I can do things I never could before. And I have a really cool collection of souveniers and medals from the races I’ve run.

I may not have broken the 2hr mark this time. But there are more half marathons this year, and there is more time to train.  So I’m going to set my sights on 10-10-10 and the Half Marathon at the Royal Victoria Marathon and I am going to break that 2hr mark convincingly.

But in the mean time…I’ve realized that it is a waste of energy to be mad about 15 seconds, when I could be celebrating the fact that I have another half marathon under my belt and they are all getting easier!

I guess that’s the whole point here. It gets easier No matter what  your physical activity of choice, the more you do it, the more you practice and train, the easier it is going to get. You just have to get out there and do it.  Whatever it is, just do it. It’s worth it.

Remember, “The miracle is not that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start”.