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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

2009

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.

 

 

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2011

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

2012

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!

3 seconds is still 3 seconds, right?

Ah January, you have returned, and along with you comes the start of the new year of racing.

In my neck of the woods, we always start the year with the Island Race Series, a series of races every second weekend from January – April with distances varying from 5K to half marathon.  The series starts each year with the Pioneer 8K, a fun, friendly, race just outside of Victoria.  It’s a great start to the year!

After a disappointing race in 2012, I was ready to take on the course and set a new PB (Personal Best).

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This was my 5th consecutive year running this race, so I’m pretty familiar with the course, which I think was definitely a benefit to my race plan.  In the days leading up to the race, I would visualize the course and how I was going to tackle each kilometer.

Start line, down hill, hold back, don’t go too fast, left turn, slight downhill, keep holding back, right turn, flat, stay consistent, right turn, smallish hill, don’t slow down, around the roundabout, right turn, keep pushing to the crest of the hill and ride the downhill to the halfway point.  Then a slight up hill, keep it up, your legs will be tired by now, don’t let them win, past the start line, left turn, this is where it gets hard, keep going, right turn, hairpin turn, left turn, straight with a slight downhill, keep pushing, right turn, finish line in sight, it’s up hill, keep pushing, don’t let the hill win, right turn, uphill finish!

The plan was in my head, I knew where I had struggled in the past, so I knew what I had to push through.

2 years ago I set my 8K PB, finishing this same race in 40:14. I knew a new PB could be possible, but I also knew that I had missed a few runs leading up to the race, and I hadn’t done everything I could have to prepare.  Then there was the fact that last year’s time was over 3 minutes slower than 2011. On top of that, I hadn’t run a time ‘short’ distance race in 8 months! I went in to the race having no idea where I stood, or what to expect from myself, all I knew was that I was going to give it my all!

I set a goal for this year, I actually set 3.  The ‘BIG’ one was to break the 40 minute mark, second was to set a new PB and third was just to be faster than last year.

I am really pleased with how I ran the race.  I stuck to my plan, and for the first time in the 5 years I’ve run this race, I did not stop to walk once. Not on the hill, not through the water station, not when my legs were tired.  I did not stop to walk at all!   I knew that I was going to blow my #3 goal out of the water before I even got to the half way point, but I would have to wait until I crossed the finish line to see if I beat my #1 & #2 goals.

It turns out that breaking the 40 minute mark wasn’t in the cards, but I did set a new PB.  I started my Garmin as I crossed the start line, and stopped it moments after I finished. It showed a time of 40:03.  The ‘official’ race time is ‘gun time’, which is the time elapsed from the gun, to when I crossed the finish line. That means since it took about 8 seconds to cross the start line, my official result was  40:11.  Not bad, I guess, 3 seconds faster than my previous PB, but PAINFULLY close to my #1 goal of getting under 40 minutes.

I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to race times, so I have to admit that I have spent some time contemplating where I could have pushed harder to make up the time I would have needed to get under. But the thing is, when I look at the bigger picture, I am happy with how I ran, I am happy with how I raced.  I made a plan,  I stuck to that plan and I performed well.

#LetsGetPhysical - Pioneer 8kmAnd speaking of people who performed well, I want to give a shout out to my friend Nikki! This race was her very first timed race, and she rocked it.  Seriously, you guys should go on over to her BLOG and read all about it!  And I have to tell you, I am in LOVE with this collage she made to celebrate!  Look at all the support she had on race day!   And rumour has it that she’s got the racing bug now and is considering a HALF MARATHON! Go Nikki!

All in all, I think this was a great start to the 2013 year of racing. I had a blast hanging out with my #yyjrun  crew, and I am so proud of everyone for getting out there and kicking some 8K butt!

If you want to win something, run 100 meters.

If you want to EXPERIENCE something, run a marathon.

It’s with that quote in mind that I start on a new year in my running career. A year in which I plan to win & experience.

I love running here on Vancouver Island.  You start the year fresh on January 1st with the Resolution Run at Running Room, and then it’s straight in to the Island Race Series.  8 race, every second Sunday from January to April. The races vary in length, there are a couple 8Ks, a couple 10Ks, a half marathon & 1 each of a 5, 12, and 15K race.   One day I’d like to compete in the full series, but this year there is only time for 4 races in my schedule.

So far I have run 2 of those races & I’ve won.  Okay, maybe I didn’t come first, but I won. For the first time in the 3 years I have been running these races, I placed in the top 10 in my age group.   In the Pioneer 8K on January 9th, I set a new 8K PB. I came in at 40:04, well over 3 minutes faster than last year & good enough for 5th place in my age group.  Then, in the Cobble Hill 10K on January 23rd, I came in a 49:48, knocking over 2 minutes off of my previous 10K PB, my first sub 50 minute 10K & good enough for 6th place in my age group.

In my time running, I have collected a few medals.  But there is a difference.  When you run a half marathon or a marathon, you get a medal. Everyone who crosses that finish line gets a medal. Hundreds/Thousands of people get that medal. In the Island Series you have to earn your reward.  10 people get acknowledged. You have to compete against the rest of your age group.  So yeah, they may only be ribbons, but man, do they ever come with a sense of acheivement. An acheivement  that is different than the one that comes with the (half)marathon medals.

After getting these two ribbons, I was really tempted to run the entire series & see how many races I could place in, but unfortunately the rest of the races don’t fit in with my training schedule. And I’ve set myself another goal.

 

I’ve registered for my second marathon.

I’m not sure how it came about. Was it peer pressure? Was it Jealousy? Was it insanity?

Yes.

The peer pressure has been present for a while. There have been a few people that have wanted me to run the marathon in Vancouver on May 1st, but I was managing to do a pretty good job staning my ground and saying no.  May 1st is a bad day for me to run a marathon, since the busiest day of the year at my job is April 30th.And to top it off, with April 30th landing on a Saturday this year, that means the deadline will be bumped to Monday, May 2nd. So that means I will have to be back at work bright & early, Monday morning, after running a marathon!

The jealousy was what broke me.  It was so hard watching all my running friends chatting on Twitter about their plans to run the BMO Vancouver Marathon. I felt left out. I felt like that kid on the playground that nobody wanted to play with. I felt like all the cool kids were doing the cools things & I was the lonely loser watching from the sidelines. I love running, but more than that I love racing & challenging myself, and the marathon is the ultimate challenge for a runner.  I had to do it. I had to go play with all my friends!

The insanity comes with the territory when you are talking about distance running. You have to have a bit of insanity in you to want to commit the time & energy it takes to get your body ready for the challenge of the marathon.The insanity isn’t in what happens on race day, the insanity is in the hours of work that go in to getting ready for race day!

I’m really looking forward to training for this marathon. I have a frame of reference this time. I’ve done it once & I have an idea of what to expect. I also know how much more work I have to to put in this time around to improve on my time from last time. It’s going to be an intense 3 months, and I hope to bring you all along for the ride with regular updates.

91 days & counting.

 

Happy training all!