28 June 2010

Race Report: Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon - 27 June 2010

Race day dawned bright and early on Sunday 27 June.

After dropping M off at his aunt and uncle's for a sleepover (thank you!) Colin and I went home with every intention of going to bed early after we packed up our race gear. Totally didn't happen. There was always just one more thing to do: hunt and gather laundry for post-race, tie on chip timer, re-tie chip timer two or three more times to get it just right, add music to iPod/figure out playlist, etc... It must have been force of habit, along with having a kid-free house that kept us up until 11pm. So when the alarm went off at 4:30am the best we could do was roll ourselves out of bed and blearily get dressed and fed.

We met up with our carpool (the wonderful Herb, who drove us even though he was injured and no longer running, Allison and Laurie) at our local running store at 5:30am. It was about a 45 minute drive out to the race course and we had our fingers crossed that the rain shower we passed through would turn back to drizzle. We got a fairly close parking spot on the street and got our stuff together. We all look cheerful, but that was more race-day anticipation than anything... it was cold. As we were heading to the starting area we met up with James and his wife and commiserated about the weather - and, yes, James, I did say that my legs looked like plucked chickens (I had a severe case of goose-bumps)!

Colin, Laurie, Allison, and Me getting ready.

Now you can see us all!

Once we were on the race site we decided that it would be best to check out the porta-potties. Thankfully there were lots, but, as is usually the case, the lines were ridiculous. They were set up in a triangle so all of the lines were getting crossed. We didn't have to wait long, but there wasn't much order.

A nice group shot after our bathroom break... see how much happier we are!

Colin and I decided to go for a bit of a warm-up jog and stretch at this point. We didn't go very far, but it was nice to get moving and calm my nerves a little. At about 10 minutes prior to start they announced that the corrals were "self-seeding". I was a little confused since I had been assigned a start group - it said so on my bib. Essentially it meant that you could start where ever you pleased. I stuck to the middle of the pack since I'm neither fast nor slow, but I'm sure there were people in totally the wrong spots. Colin and I shuffled around a bit trying to get our GPS units to "find satellites" and then the race started.

And that's when I noticed that my HRM didn't display the right screen! Aarrgghh!!! It had been fidgety on my last run and I didn't think that it had carried over, but it had and that meant that I only had my heart rate and time. NO PACE! Thankfully it was programmed to beep at 1km intervals, but I'd have to base my pace on that. Since I couldn't stop to fiddle with it I kissed Colin goodbye, wished him well and sent him on his way.

I tried not to get caught up in the quickness of the pack. I have a pace that I know I keep relatively well (6:18/km) so I made sure I was going a little faster than was usually comfortable. The first kilometre and a half were good and then I started to feel my left sock. I don't know if it was because these socks are getting old or what, but it had slipped down on the inside of my heel. It was totally bothering me and I didn't want it to actually come off so I had to make my way over to the side, stop and pull it up - frustrating! Getting back into the race was fine (lots of shoulder-checking involved) and it was nice to see Herb at the 3km marker. I saw him first so I yelled out to him and he took this awesome picture:

See how relaxed I am early on...

The next couple of kilometres were pretty average. A bit of a downhill then a straight out and back (on the other side of the median). I saw Colin when I was at about 4-1/2km - he was on the other side heading back already - so I yelled at him and generally made a spectacle of myself. Since I knew that I wouldn't see him again until the finish I felt it was my wifely duty!

I was keeping pretty good pace and making sure that I was fueling/hydrating well. Even though I didn't use the water stations (I had my pack) they looked like they were well manned - there were lots of volunteers. At about 9km I got to the main downhill (+/- 75 metre elevation drop) and tried not to put on the brakes too much. I didn't go all out, but felt like I made up a little bit of time. I hit 10 km (by my watch) in almost exactly 1 hour. After the hill it was a nice run alongside the beaches - I ran with Darren, my half clinic instructor, for awhile. Normally he'd have been long-gone, but he ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May and was taking it a little easier for this race. At about kilometre 13 he went on ahead and I slowed down for the uphill.

This is when my race started getting a little sucky. Murphy's Law states that "if anything can go wrong, it will". And it did. Suffice it to say that GI issues hit with a vengeance (any other mention is TMI). I thought that I was in luck - I was sure that porta-potties were just around the corner at kilometre 14. After all, that's what the website had said. I had faith that it was true... and all I found was a water station. Crap. I kept my hopes up as I passed into a residential neighbourhood. Kilometre 15 - no luck. I passed some lovely volunteers who actually took the time to read my name and cheer just for me. I tried really hard to appreciate their effort! Kilometre 16 came and went with nary a little grey box in sight. I passed a little park with lovely water views and *gasp* A TOILET! Hooray! Or not. It was locked (I assume since it was city, not race, supplied). I was having no luck. At the 17km water station I finally found the bathroom. And promptly wasted 3 valuable minutes. But all was good with the world afterwards and I ran along happily until I came upon the Burrard Bridge.

I have driven over this bridge probably thousands of times in my lifetime. I even walked over it a couple of times during the Olympics. However, I have to say that to run over it - on the roadway - is daunting. It doesn't look that steep. I learned that looks can be deceiving. After running 3/4 of the race on mostly flats or downhills it was a bit of a shock to the system to have to go up again, especially since it was only kilometre 18. I started playing games with myself to get up and over it. I told myself that it was just one hill and I'd done hill repeats so that meant it was nothing. I played "pass the runner" and picked people off just so I could feel good about myself. I let myself get distracted by the cheering spectators (as I should have). Soon I found myself on the home stretch with only 3.1 km left to go.

Once I was on Pacific Boulevard I started to get a little excited. I knew that I still had a ways to go so I couldn't push too fast. My watch told me that I was on pace to beat 2:10. My original time goal was a realistic 2:15 (only 1:58 faster than my first half in February) so when I saw that I could potentially come in 5 minutes faster I really started to focus. At about 20 km I saw my friend Christine and said hi, but didn't slow down for long. I could see the 21 km marker and needed to go.

Just as I shouldn't have believed the website about the porta-potties I also shouldn't have taken the elevation graph as totally accurate either. It shows a nice decline into the finish after the bridge. However, at about 20-1/2 km the road starts to go up again! Aahh! My legs were burning already and I kept checking my watch for time and I had a small hill thrown at me - not good. I really had to dig down deep to keep my pace. I passed the 21 km flag (silly me, I thought I was done since I forgot the .1 km) and then just booked it. See picture below:

Sprinting to the finish!

Colin told me when he found me after I finished that he called my name and cheered for me, but I was in such a zone that I didn't hear anything. I have a feeling that my official finish line photo is going to be either really awesome or really scary - I'm voting scary. All I wanted to do was finish. My watch was telling me that I finished in 2:08:49, while clock (official) time was 2:13:07. Chip time turned out to be 2:11:38. Take which ever result that you want: they were all PRs!!! I knocked almost 5-1/2 minutes off of my time in February so I'm super proud of myself. I'm also really proud of Colin. He dropped his time by 12 minutes (1:55:07 in February and 1:43:08 this weekend).

I crossed the finish line, received my medal, found Colin and we met up with Herb again. I went to get some food - banana and a cookie - and then found everyone else.

James, Laurie, Allison, Colin and Me.

After a couple of pictures we made our way to the van and Herb surprised us with champagne for a celebratory toast (which we then turned into mimosas - healthy juice and all that). Allison, Colin and I all PR'd at this race! It was great to be able to share the experience with Colin as well as new friends - they are all from my marathon clinic.

Laurie, Colin, Allison and Me.

Herb, Colin, Allison and Me.

It was pretty much the perfect day (minus the issues listed above). The weather was just right, the course was beautiful, I had fun with friends and I got a PR. As we drove away from Stanley Park to find breakfast Herb put on Queen's "We are the Champions"... it can't get much better than that!

Monday Brain Exchange

Jill at Finishing Is Winning posts a question every Monday and then lets others chime in with their opinions too. This week's topic is "Give-A-Ways: Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?" It's especially appropriate since I just found out that I won one (my 3rd!).

Question: What are your thoughts on give-a-ways? Do you enter them often? What entices you to enter or turns you off from entering? Have you run your own give-a-ways?

My Answer(s):
  • I like give-a-ways. I started entering them pretty much as soon as I started blogging and here's why: I felt like I owed it to the people whose blogs I was stalking. The least I could do was let them know that I was actually reading their stuff. It was easy to sign up as a follower (usually the #1 requirement) and who doesn't like getting running gear?
  • I enter them often enough. There are usually a few on my sidebar - it depends on how many people are hosting them and if I'm interested in what's on offer (see below).
  • I'll enter contests that have a product that peaks my interest. I go for running products over other things, but sometimes I'm picky about the running stuff too - example: I'd rather have a Road ID than a magnet.
  • I like ones that have simple rules. It's helpful to know if it's open to Canadians otherwise I waste my time and theirs.
  • I tend to enter contests on the blogs that I read the most. I don't go too far out of my way to find them. Sometimes I'll check out contests that are posted on other bloggers sites, but tend to skip entering if I'm not really interested in their blogs.
  • I don't mind the whole social networking aspect (sign up to be a fan of ... on facebook, etc), but I'll only do those parts sometimes. Since those are usually only for extra entries I do them if I feel like it or if I really like the product.
  • I haven't run my own give-a-way (yet). I'm sure that I will in the future, but I want to have some good stuff to put up for grabs. I think the main reason I would do so would be to get more followers - I love seeing my numbers go up! Even if most people who entered didn't read religiously I'd be happy knowing that maybe one or two did.

27 June 2010

One Race: Three Finish Times

I PR'd today! The best part is that all 3 times (gun, chip, and HRM) were PRs... Personally I'm taking my own time as my PR. The chip time doesn't account for the 3 minute pit stop at Km 17...

  • Gun Time: 2:13:07
  • Chip Time: 2:11:38
  • Polar HRM Time: 2:08:49
  • Placing: 2539/3812 overall; 1196/2124 gender; 212/362 age group

Here are a couple of photos taken by Herb, our designated carpool driver/photographer/marathon clinic leader (who, unfortunately, couldn't run due to injury), which I shamelessly stole from facebook:

3km in - looking good...

Sprinting to the finish line - I was in the zone!

Herb brought us champagne and OJ to celebrate!

Race report to follow once I get some more pictures and relax a little.

26 June 2010

Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon - Preview

Race day on Sunday! Here's what I'm up against...

I think that it's going to go well. I've driven the route and it's all good, but it's that last uphill on the Burrard Bridge that I think might kill me - it's a nice long, steady incline. My mantra is going to be, "I AM the hill." Race report to follow... but if you want to check my time you can look on the race website in the afternoon; my bib is #96.

21 June 2010

"It's Round, It's Squishy... It's My Sponge!"

This is what M said to me last night after he lifted my shirt up to lay his head on my bare stomach. Wow, now there's a reason to do a core workout if I've ever heard one! Good thing that I was thinking of this already or I would have been really offended... Kerrie over at Mom vs. Marathon mentioned that she was doing this workout and it looks totally do-able. I like the fact that it covers pretty much everything and is only 15 minutes long! Now I just have to get myself an excercise ball (or steal one from Mum and Dad - hint, hint, if you still have yours).

Other fun stuff and ramblings about my weekend:
  • I found out today that I won another giveaway! And it's another Bondi Band! Sarah at Running Mama hosted a giveaway to celebrate having over 100 followers and her husband chose my name out of a hat. I'll get one of the two shown below, but I have to wait to find out which one. There was another winner and she gets first choice. I think that it'll be nice when the weather is a little better - my running hat is starting to smell look a little worse for wear.

  • I had a really good run on Sunday. I was supposed to be tapering for my half marathon that's coming up on the 27th, but ever since I missed my 10km tempo last Wednesday (see last post #6) I had been craving a run. Now, this has never happened to me. Usually if I miss/skip a run I don't feel the need to make up for it. However, I just HAD to get out on a longer run. Thankfully C was very understanding; though I would have understood if he hadn't been given that it was Father's Day and I left him at home with the boy. We ran 13km over a fairly hilly route in about 1-1/2 hours. It was great! Lesson learned for the day: Gu Roctane is no better for me than regular Gu - for half the price and better flavours, I'll stick with what I already know.
  • C and I have started doing his strength/stretch exercises from when he was in physio. I'm pretty sure it's starting to help (or else it's just being hopped up on extra-strength ibuprofin). As long as I fix whatever it is that's bothering my leg right now - here's praying it's only residual from bad shoes, not ITB issues - I think I'll be fine. The only part that bothers me is that it takes over 30 minutes to complete. At least we can do it together - now that's romantic!
T-Minus 6 days to the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon!

17 June 2010

Oops, it's been a while since I wrote something!

My last week went a little like this:

1. Got C to pick up my new shoes.

2. Wore/broke in new shoes on 20km run. The trail around Burnaby Lake is mostly boardwalks and pea-gravel, so it was pretty and decently shady. However, the ground was not level and in a few spots it was so soft you could tell that there was probably mulch underneath which was BAD FOR A KNEE THAT WAS ALREADY HAVING PROBLEMS! You know you aren't having a stellar run when it takes you 15km to "get into" it. I've been doing Colin's physio exercises ever since...

Ended up with re-blackened toenail - that sucker has been in various states of purple since OCTOBER. Enough already... and it didn't even come from running. At least this time it seems more like a badge of honour. Also have an awesome blister on side of my right big toe - good thing my callous is "protecting" it. I won't post pictures out of respect for your eyes, but let's just say that I won't be going to get a pedicure anytime soon.

3. Took M to a commercial shoot on Monday and Tuesday. Long days with a 3 year old, but he was paid handsomely for doing squat diddle playing in the backyard.

4. Ran on Tuesday evening - 6km tempo. Leg felt like crap at 4km. Kept saying that I wanted to quit, but somehow ran through it and my last 2km were around 5:15 per/km = SCORE! Total run was about 36 minutes. Awesome for something that felt like it wasn't going well.

5. Read some more "Run Like A Mother" - the chapter on mental toughness was really appropriate (see #4). I am loving this book - it's even better than everyone says it is.

6. Skipped scheduled 10km tempo run to take M to hospital for "Nursemaid's Elbow" (read: partial dislocation). Awarded self "Worst Mother" trophy for having pulled him up too fast and caused injury (it's really common, but still...).

7. 2nd Thursday night clinic. Went out for a 7.18km steady run. At 6.23min/km average - 45:50min total - it was a little quick for our pace group. I blame the run up the tree-lined river for the speediness... none of our GPS units were keeping reliable pace. It was a good run and it helped that it was on the cool side tonight (I actually pulled out the hoody, which was only overkill by a little bit). I'm very happy that I'm coming up to my half marathon taper run this Sunday. 6km will be a nice change from the 20km I ran last week.

T-Minus 10 days to the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon!

12 June 2010

Awesome Possum!

I had two great running-related things happen to me today:

1. I got new shoes! Yay! I would have preferred to buy them online and have them shipped to Blaine, WA, but I needed them NOW. So C called around and found a place locally that had them $30 cheaper than anywhere else. It's unfortunate that my work won't have them in until August as that would have saved me a bundle, but I'll remember to buy a pair to put away when they come in. We'll see how my 20km long run goes tomorrow - lots of Body Glide for the feet - but if I had to choose between blisters and not being able to run due to a wrecked knee I'd go with blisters every time.

2. I checked my email when I got home from work and discovered that I won a contest! Yay again! Christine at Sticky Fingerprints did a review of Bondi Bands and had 3 to give to her blog readers. I will receive one of the following designs:

I have to say that I'm super excited to have finally won a Bondi Band. Lots of other blogging runners swear by them and I've entered tons of contests to try to get one of my own. It's nice that random.org finally got it right!

10 June 2010

One Thursday Down, 17 More To Go

Today was my first marathon clinic night. I was anxious, jittery, and basically felt like I was going to throw up. I showed up 15 minutes early just to make sure that I wasn't the last one there. When I got there I got my name tag, sat down and waited. A few more people arrived up and then we started with the introductions.

I'm very thankful that I was one of the first ones to say hi. My goal - to finish The Marathon, time TBD - seemed a little sad after hearing everybody else. Now I know that I can't compare myself to men and women that have run longer races. It's just very hard to sit there and think you have an attainable goal when 4 out of 12 in the group have BQ'd.* It's also hard to hear that some of them have run 10+ marathons. I can't help but feeling extremely intimidated, even if the more experienced runners are the pace leaders and they are there to help the rest of us out. Now it's not that I don't think I can do it. I do. Everyone is really nice and I know that they'll be supportive too. But really. How can I not feel a tiny bit discouraged if I'm one of the only ones running their first marathon? It seems pretty far away still. (And, Mum, even though I say this I won't drop out...)

The good thing about the night though was that I've slotted myself in with a pace group. We did a 6.7km (4ish mile) steady run and I totally kept up - about 46min total. As long as everything goes well during training my goal at the moment is 4hr 15min. So I'm happy with how things went and am looking forward to doing my training runs. Everything starts off nice and slow for the first few weeks - but since I'm training for a 1/2 I kind of miss those runs - and then we get into uncharted (for me) territory. It's not too long until I start long runs that are past the half marathon distance. I'm still a little out of my element right now, but after meeting everybody and going out tonight I'm a lot calmer and, dare I say, a little more enthusiastic.

*For those of you who aren't up on the lingo (and I wasn't a month ago) that means they have qualified for and have run or are preparing to run the Boston Marathon, the Holy Grail of Running. I'm just looking for a PR (personal record, also known as PB or personal best) which I will have even if I have to crawl across the finish line.

Today is gonna be the day...

...that I start training for a marathon. The first thing I thought of when I typed that was Oasis' "Wonderwall" - sing it in your head if you remember it, it works! Then I thought about how old that made me since it came out 15 (!) years ago... Anyways, that's the news of the day. I'll do another post tonight or tomorrow recapping my first day feelings... until then here are the things that make my feet happy and a couple of "wants" for down the road:
Asics GT-2140: Loved these shoes, especially this colour. Was very disappointed when I had to replace them with the ones below. Same shoe, but the navy/pink combo make me feel like I have old-lady shoes on.

Asics GT-2140: current pair - trying mightily to give up the ghost. I can't afford to buy new ones yet so will wear them until my knees tell me otherwise. Not the greatest choice, but there it is.

Injinji Micro Toesocks: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! I've never had a blister from these socks. And I'm wearing them right now.

Asics GT-2150: Upgraded model of the ones I have now. Will be getting these next. I was hoping to wait until August to get them cheap at work (in this colour too), but if I have to buy them sooner I'll definitely get the turquoise blue ones.

Injinji Ex-Celerator Compression Toesocks: I figure that if I want a compression sock - and I'm pretty sure I'll need them once I'm running 32km training runs - I might as well go with the ones I already like.

07 June 2010

4 Days Until My Marathon Clinic Starts!

My marathon training clinic starts Thursday! I'm not sure if I should be excited, anxious or sick to my stomach... I think I'm all three, but right now more anxious than anything.

However, I came across a quote today on another runner's blog (thanks Mel @ Tall Mom on the Run) that I'm pretty sure will be my inspiration for the next 18 weeks:

Don't let what
you cannot do
interfere with what
you can do.
- John Wooden

I think this will help me get through all the fears I have and hopefully overcome the mind-games I'm sure that I'll play with myself. It's getting posted on my bulletin board and anywhere else C might let me put it up as soon as I'm done here!

02 June 2010

Happy National Running Day!

Okay, so it's an American invention, but I can't imagine anyone caring if I hijack it and bring it over the border, so to speak. I'll be celebrating by going on a 10km tempo run this evening with C and M. Let's hope the little bit of sunshine that's out now sticks around... I don't think I'll be so happy if I have to run in the pouring ran; especially since M doesn't like his stroller's rain cover any more.

Completed my 10km run and it didn't rain! Yay! We watched all the rain clouds move north as we ran and even saw the sun for a little bit at the end. Many thanks to C for pushing up the last long, slow incline since he knows that I don't do anything close to a tempo pace when I have the stroller! Quite proud of myself for completing it in 1:03:13 at an average pace of 6:19/km.

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