26 May 2011

Insanity Is For Crazies

And I, for one, am not one of them.  Oh, I'd like to be.  I'm just not quite there yet.  There's also the pesky little fact that living in an apartment is not conducive to doing a lot of jumping around type exercises.  I'm pretty sure that our downstairs neighbours would complain and it would also freak their poor little high-strung Jack Russell terrier right out!

That said, Colin and I aren't just sitting around twiddling our thumbs every night.  Colin decided that he would start using hand weights - I'll follow, but need to buy some 3lb "baby" weights.  I thought that I could do okay with the 5lb, but failed miserably.  I shouldn't fear dropping one on my head!  In addition to that, I have forced encouraged him to join me in doing the following programs:

They actually mean crunches and admit that the image doesn't represent what you are supposed to do.

These programs are exactly what they say.  They train you to be able to do the set number of exercises in one go.  It sounds kind of daunting, but it takes 6 weeks to build up the strength to do it.  

The training is set up so that you start with an initial test and then pick which of 3 levels you should be training at.  I've chosen to start in the middle with all 3 (so has Colin, except he isn't doing squats because they're hard on his knee).  After 2 weeks I do another test and see if I need to move up, down or stay where I am.  I only have to do this 3 times a week so it doesn't take up too much time.  You wouldn't think that 4 sets plus a set to max out would be hard, but I was done at the end of last night, especially with the push ups. 

The whole reason I am making Colin do this with me is that I need the accountability!  It's way harder to skip your workout when someone else is ready to do it with you.  Hopefully in 6 weeks I can tell you that I've completed the program and that it's actually done something for me.  There will be before and after pictures à la P90X, but I'm way too self-conscious to post the "befores" prior to having something to compare them to.

24 May 2011

That Last One Really Was The Last Hill

I ran my first EVER trail run this past weekend!  A friend suggested we run around a local lake on Monday, which was a holiday here in Canada.  The distance was going to be between 8km and 14km depending on if the trail was still closed due to flooding.  I've been there before, but it was a very long time ago and I had only ever hiked one side of the lake.  Perhaps I should have looked at the map and read the description prior to going...  I knew that it was going to be hilly, but really?!?

Here's the official description:

Portions of this trail are very steep.  Providing an alternative route along Buntzen Lake’s western shore, this trail follows the Pumphouse Road from the main entrance gate, then connects with the transmission line heading north before slipping into the dense forest that enfolds Buntzen Ridge. The trail ends where it joins the Old Buntzen Lake Trail near North Beach.

Okay, that first part would have at least been a little nice to know about.  Then I could have been slightly more mentally prepared.

There were 3 of us (+1 dog) running; my friend Gina, her friend Ivana and I, plus Gina's dog Parker.  We started out about 8:30am.  The weather report called for sun, but I thought that it would be fairly cool since we were in a forested area so I dressed in a couple of layers.  The first little bit of our run was down a paved road before we accessed a "closed to drivers" area and the trailhead.  This was the path I was familiar with however I seemed to forget how rolling it is.  It wasn't too bad, but I was starting to bring up the rear and realizing just how much I need to continue to train on hills!

See Map #1:
The path near the North Beach isn't all that steep, but I was having some troubles.  These were made even better once my mind started to play with me.  I slid back into all my self-doubting ways and started to question why I'd even come along.  It was obvious that I was holding the other two back and it sucked having to make them wait for me at the tops of the "hills" (I didn't know what hills were yet).  It's always fun to start to hyperventilate when you're running.  I figured it was better to do that then to break down crying 4km into the run.  At least I was making weird noises and hopefully keeping the bears away.

We crossed over the north end of the lake at a little suspension bridge and confronted my worst fear: a stupidly steep hill.  See Map #2.  It had to be steep because it was joining 2 trails, but my quads were screaming at me and we still had a long, long way to go.  I was getting ridiculously sweaty from exerting myself on the hills so I lost my long sleeved base layer and stuffed it in my backpack.  

The next too many kilometres to count (See Map #3) were a combination of switchbacks, ups and downs.  I kept being promised that there weren't going to be any more hills, but after a while I stopped believing Gina and Ivana.  It's not their fault though.  They hadn't run the route in over a month and didn't remember it being as bad as it was.  Here's what the trail looks like:

That's not me there... if you'd passed me I would have been the one with my hands on my hips huffing and puffing whilst walking up the hills.  After a while I didn't even try to jog up them.  I was just looking forward to being DONE.  That said, however, I do like trail running.  I'm just more of a downhiller than an uphiller.  

Eventually we got to a point where we were pretty sure it actually would be mostly downhill.  Unfortunately we were also at a point where Gina and Ivana were sure they'd run, but not 100% sure.  It's not like you can really get lost if you stay on this trail so we just kept going rather than turning back to the point where the upper and lower trails paralleled each other.  

Once we got down the hill we came out at the service road (See Map #4).  This wasn't bad just boring.  It's wide due to vehicle accessibility so you can see what's coming.  Again I was assured that it would be flat from there to the end of the run, but friends lie forget.  After running for ten or so really challenging kilometres even the slightest of inclines was like a slap in the face.  I made no apologies for copping out and walking.

Finally we got back to the car.  It was pretty warm out and I'd run out of water with about 2km left in the run.  Oops!  I didn't think I would be working so hard and I only brought 1 (out of a possible 2) litres.  Thankfully I had thought ahead enough to bring a protein bar with me for the ride home.  I was super hungry!

Overall Thoughts:
  • Totally willing to do it again!
  • Thankfully it wasn't muddy.  There were a few mushy spots, but nothing that actually made my shoes too dirty.  Rain would have made this run miserable for me.
  • Probably would have been nicer not to have been thrown off the deep end, so to speak, since it was my first trail run.  The elevation gain was 150m which sounds okay until you convert it and discover it's 492ft.  
  • I'd ask for fewer hills, but around here this kind of was fewer hills.  Anything less is a gravel multi-use path.
  • Wouldn't mind a pair of trail shoes.  Conveniently Asics makes a trail version of the GT-2160 so I wouldn't even have to search.  Of course, this is a want not a need and will only happen if we ever have surplus cash.  Reality: probably not till next year.
  • I'm not quite ready to say that I want to be a hard-core trail runner.  I like it, but I have a lot of work (ahem, leg strength) to do before I can commit to actually racing in terrain like this.

19 May 2011

The Latest, Longest Race Report EVER!

Here is the reason that this race report is so late:  All I wanted to write about it for the last 2 weeks is "I ran; I finished; everything went according to plan, but my body decided to rebel; I'm still not over it."  

I guess that I should preface this with:
  • Yes, I'm glad I ran my 2nd marathon.
  • Yes, I'm proud that I finished my 2nd marathon.
  • No, I'm still not happy with the result (and probably won't be until the next let-down.  Then I'll look back fondly on this race).  Look how long it's taken me to write about it!
I know that everyone is extremely supportive and I totally appreciate it!  However, if you are a runner you've probably had races that you aren't happy with.  Yes, I've learned a lot of stuff from this race (which I'll regale you with in another long post).  But, for right now, you know where I'm coming from.  

Race report: BMO Vancouver Marathon - 1 May 2011

Saturday 30 April 2011:
  • My parents kindly offered to switch houses with us so that Spud could sleep in his own bed.  This was great.  We got to there place in the early evening and could just relax.
  • But we didn't.  Colin was trying to figure out how to get his iPod to work on my dad's computer so he could adjust his playlist.  I was watching the Canucks game.  
  • Apparently you can't do any iPod stuff like that if it's not on your own computer (or without massively messing around with someone else's) so Colin was frustrated for a good couple of hours.  The Canucks went to 2nd overtime and lost.  Both activities were a total waste of time.
  • Set out stuff for morning.  I was very impressed that I pinned on my bib and didn't have a mini-meltdown over it.  I refused to fiddle with it once it was on.
  • Couldn't get to sleep in a different house.  Probably fell asleep closer to 1am and we had a 5am wake up.
Sunday 1 May 2011 - Pre-Race:
  • Colin discovered his backpack's bladder leaked out all night from a cracked lid.  Cue rush around to find duct tape.
  • Made it to Skytrain before 6am to get downtown.  Not dressed warm enough so stood with our butts in the car idling on the other side of the platform.  I'm sure that the people in control wondered what we were doing...
  • No one on transit that early who wasn't going to the race.  We all looked tired.
  • Shuffled down to the race site to check our bags.  Easy peasy - stick your stuff in this clear garbage bag, label with your bib number, hand over to volunteers.
  • Colin got (according to him, gross) McDonald's coffee - love that they sponsor a race - and wandered off to find friends.  Unfortunately meet up place is under construction so we never did see any one.
  • Pre-race bathroom break.  Thankfully not too bad in the port-a-potties.  The lines were as long as I expected them to be, but the addition of sectioned off urinals for the guys cut them way down.  Please note that the mesh they used to block them off was one way see through.  Colin could see all sorts of people on the other side who had no idea that they were behind the bathroom...
  • Self-seeding "corrals".  Not loving so much.  I stayed way in the back so I wouldn't get caught up like I did in Victoria.  Is there a reason so many people start running quite a bit before the start line?  It's chip-timed!  There's no rush!
Sunday 1 May 2011 - The Race:

Km 1-10:
  • Out and back away from the water with a little loop through Chinatown at the start.  It's just along one of the main streets.  It isn't particularly exciting, but I liked it because I got to see a lot of my friends.  Of course, they were on their way back as I was going out...  For some reason didn't see Colin at all.  There was a little square block we had to do at the turn around so I must have missed him there.  
  • Saw friends who came out to spectate (thanks Tamara, Fabiola and Christian!) and take pictures.  I didn't figure out who was yelling at me until I'd passed them.
  • Saw the race leaders.  Holy fast!  I was at 3km when they were on their way back at 9km.
  • Saw a guy in a monkey suit.  Looked really uncomfortable.
  • Saw a slightly crazy lady kind of dancing along expending all sorts of energy.
  • A guy in the 8km race that ran along the same route who was wearing an over-sized crown.  Again, looked uncomfortable.
  • I felt okay during this part.  I was keeping to my slow pace and doing pretty well.
Km 11-17:
  • A little reverse loop through Chinatown and then up to the Dunsmuir viaduct.  Kind of cool since you aren't ever allowed to walk up there.
  • Nice older neighbourhood.  Didn't realize it was quite so much of a hill, but I plodded along just fine.
  • Got to a water stop and the volunteers were yelling "no electrolytes."  In my head I was thinking GU2O, but they meant gels.  I was carrying my own so it didn't matter.  Sucky for those who weren't though.
  • Should have stopped for the bathroom here, but there were only 2 port-a-potties and a pretty substantial line up.  Note to self: you're not breaking any records so stop if you think you need to!
  • Ran through the Downtown Eastside.  If you know Vancouver you'll know that this is pretty much the poorest neighbourhood in Canada.  However it was sunny out, there were lots of spectators and I thought it was really pretty.  It doesn't always look like that though...
  • Ran out through Coal Harbour and could start to see views of the inlet and mountains.  
  • Body was starting to hate me for missing the last stop.
Km 18-27:
  • Funniest moment of the marathon: traffic was really backed up coming out of Coal Harbour.  Not sure if people were misdirected or if they just didn't pay attention to signs.  The police were out doing the best they could (I started thanking all of them after this).  There was a priest 3 cars back (who I'm assuming was late for Mass) who was yelling really loudly at the officer.  Something along the lines of "this better not happen again next year!!!" to which the cop replied, very calmly, "please take it up with the city sir." 
  • Another water stop, but they were giving out doughnuts.  If it had been closer to the end of the race I totally would have taken them up on the offer.
  • Didn't stop at bathroom for same reason as before.  Note to self: STUPID!
  • Started running around Stanley Park.  Really pretty especially since the weather decided to cooperate.  Made me realize how much I love Vancouver and how much I should appreciate living here.
  • Finally hit up a bathroom.  Thankfully a real one this time, but there were still lines.  Tried to appease my body with drugs.
  • Half way point!  Woohoo!  No gels again.  What?  This is what happens when the half and full share stations.  There was a really pretty mosaic of GU tops on the ground though that would have made for a cool picture.
  • Hit the little hill in the park (no were near as bad as the halfers had it).  I'd done the route before so I knew what to expect.
  • Starting to get kind of warm so start to utilize all water stations even though I was packing my own.
  • Water station in park.  No cups!  What?!?  Had volunteer pour directly into my mouth.  Had next volunteer pour water on my hands so I could wash my face...  Wasn't smart enough to keep a cup like my friend did.
  • Begin use of all remaining bathrooms.  This was turning into a "character builder."
  • Ran out of park and then along Beach/Pacific Avenues.  Nice view of the water.  Unfortunately also the mental killer of seeing where I had to run to (Jericho) across the water before I could turn around.
Km 28-33:
  • The Burrard Bridge.  Dun, dun, duh...  Really not as bad as it sounds.  Way worse at 40km on the way back.  My mental game started here because I was seeing friends who were on their way back.  Rough!
  • Running through Kitsilano was good.  Nice beach views.  Stations that had an abundance of GU (started stock-piling).  Rolling hills, but nothing unexpected.
  • Our friends Sean and Brenda came out at km 30 to take pictures.  We knew they were going to try to make it, but weren't sure where they'd be so it was great to see them.
  • Started seeing more friends on their way back.  I knew that I was pretty much bringing up the rear.
  • Took GU Chomps when they were offered just to give my stomach a break.  They went down fine, but I remembered why I don't take them.  Ugh.  Definitely a personal preference.
  • Finally to the turn around!  I had to force myself to run to the water station.  It wasn't much of an uphill, but enough of one that I was dying at the top.  At this point (9km left) my hamstrings, quads and hip flexors were screaming at me.  I chugged as much water and GU2O as I could.  A bit sloshy as I left, but better than being dehydrated.
Km 34-40:
  • Return trip!  I don't know when I've ever been this happy in a race before.  I was feeling really good about how I was running the race, but I knew that I was going pretty slow.
  • Saw a poor guy laying on the ground in the middle of the road with 2 medics attending him.  He must have had massive leg cramps because they each had one leg and were stretching him out.
  • Hit up final 2 GU stations for extra gels.  Didn't need them at all, but if they were 6 people deep offering them I wasn't going to say no.  Those suckers are expensive!  If I could have run with a whole box for 6km I totally would have taken one.
  • The route went through residential at this point to get down under the bridge.  I've shown it before, but fake it till you make it.
  • Right as I was running out of this area my knee did a little pop/slide thing that had me hop-running for a couple of steps and freaked me out.  I can handle aches and pains, but I'll never mess with my knees.  Thankfully I had an Advil so I popped it then.
  • Coming under the bridge my knee gave me heck a couple more times so I walked for a little bit just to help it out.
  • Here's my favourite shot of Colin.  He's coming under the bridge and I totally think he looks like a celebrity about to kick a paparazzo's ass for taking his picture.
  • Coming up to the Burrard Bridge I knew that there would be the Lululemon cheer station (their offices are across the street).  They were such a help.  When you are a slower runner it means so much to have people still out there supporting you.
  • Power walked up the bridge.  I so wanted to run, but my knee was worse on up-hills.  At least I was still passing people.
  • Here's the difference between a faster runner (Colin) and a slower runner (me) coming off the bridge:


  • When you are fast there are other people around, you look focused and your feet leave the ground.  When you are slow you get the photographer to yourself, you look happy because you have to distract yourself from the pain and you shuffle like an 80 year old man with a walker.
Km 41-42.2:
  • It's all downhill from here.  It's also a lot longer than you'd think it would be.
  • I distracted myself by thanking volunteers (so many highschoolers looking for volunteer hours as a part of graduation requirements!) and police officers.
  • I knew that I wasn't going to hit sub-5 hours.  I was trying desperately not to lose it before the finish line.
  • I totally chicked a guy.  Granted that it was a dad running with his daughter and that we'd been out for over 5 hours, but I needed the little self confidence boost.
  • I still cheered for myself at the finish line.  
Sunday 1 May 2011 - Post-Race:
  • Saw the rest of my friends after getting my medal.  Nice to at least say hi.
  • Found Colin and promptly fell apart.  He wouldn't even tell me his time at the start because he got a 20 minute PR, but I forced it out of him.
  • Stole Picked up lots of food at the buffet.  Got to say the bonus of being near the end is that there is still lots of food and no lines.  They gave us a handy drawstring bag when we came into the food area so I took advantage and loaded up.
  • Got changed and walked over to Yaletown for pizza and drinks with friends.  A few of us were celebrating and a few of us were drowning our sorrows (me in pop, but it felt the same).  
  • Walking to lunch and then to the Skytrain really helped with recovery.  As much as I wanted to just sit around and do nothing it was good to have to move.  The stairs down to the car kind of sucked, but in a good way.
  • Picked up Spud and went home to lick my wounds.

12 May 2011

Three Things Thursday: Slacker Edition

1.  I still have not done my race report for the BMO Vancouver Marathon and it happened almost 2 weeks ago.  I keep finding other things to do and when I sit down with enough time I just don't have any desire to do it.  I want to write about it, but I'm still a mixed bag of emotions.  Obviously I'll have to do a separate post on that.

2.  I haven't gone out for a run since the race.  The marathon was on a Sunday and I thought I did really well helping my legs recover.  I wore compression socks a couple days before the race, had on my sleeves during and was back in socks for a couple days after.  Unfortunately by last Tuesday or Wednesday I was having some pain in my right shin.  All of my consulting with Dr. Google determined that I probably gave myself shin splints during the run due to the road cant and the stress of running on concrete/asphalt the whole time.  It's been better the last couple of days, but I've yet to get the motivation to get out the door.  

3.  Okay, nothing to do with being a slacker, but I need to complain about my other race-induced injury.  I have a black toenail.  Not that it's a big deal or that it's my first.  But I went the whole training cycle without one.  I was so proud of myself.  And it's the stupid one (right foot, next to baby toe - would you call that your ring toe?) that I couldn't get rid of for a year before due to re-injury.  AARRGGHH!!!  I'm not even sure how I did it.  It's not the shoe - I know that for certain since my running shoes are one size larger than my regular size.  I'm banking on it being from walking around town after the marathon.  I was probably shuffling and every time I took a step I unknowingly rammed my toes to the end of my shoe.  I was in so much pain that I didn't notice anything different!  

04 May 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Race Photo

This photo was taken on Sunday at roughly 37km (although I was running about +1km by my watch so 38km).  I am smiling in ALL of my pictures which was totally on purpose.  I wanted to make sure I didn't have any oh-my-gosh-I-hate-this-why-am-I-here-I'm-never-doing-this-again shots.  

Photograph obviously belongs to MarathonFoto
I may look like I'm having the race of my life here, but I was so miserable!  My hip flexors, quads and hamstrings were extremely unimpressed with me; my digestive tract was unimpressed with me (see Mum?  I can be discreet) to the point of severe chafing; and about 1/2 a kilometre later my knee started to pop/give out on the uphills.  I figured if I forced myself to smile for the cameras I couldn't break down and cry (I saved that until I found Colin and then bawled like a baby).

So the lessons learned here were:
  • Fake it till you make it.
  • Smile even if it feels like it will kill you because it will look like you had a great race.
  • When you are a slower runner you get better pictures.  If I'd been faster there would have been other runners in the shots.  However, when you're pretty much on your own you have the photographers' full attention.

01 May 2011

Marathon #2 Results

Marathon #2 done!  5:11:29 chip/5:14:09 clock.  Had I not had to stop for a total of 8 minutes in pit stops I would have PR'd with 5:03:25.  You guess how I'm feeling right now... it's going to take a couple of days to decide that today was okay after all.

On the other hand, Colin finished with in 3:52:53!  He achieved a HUGE PR, beating his old time by 19 minutes and 20 seconds!

Now to decompress with grilled cheese, chardonnay, neopolitan ice cream and a viewing of Run Fatboy Run.

Congrats to Neil Z. for being closest to my time!  Send me your address to running42km[dot]blog@gmail[dot]com and I'll send out your prize when I decide what it will be.

Full race report in a couple of days.  

"Watch" Us Run!

Live tracking is up on the marathon website and you can follow along if you'd like.  Click HERE or HERE and follow bib #1571 for me or #914 for Colin.  Race starts at 7:30am PST.

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