04 April 2012

New Place, New Name

I have made the migration (kinda, sorta) over to Wordpress.  It's a work in progress as I try to get things the way I want them so please bear with me! 

If you've made the move, too, please give me any hints/information that you think is useful!  I was pretty good on Blogger so figuring it all out again somewhere new is a bit daunting...

You can find me at my new site - a real .com, no less:

And at Twitter:

27 March 2012

Who Am I?

Don't worry, this isn't some philosophical rambling about deeply meaningful feelings...  It's more, where did I get this desire all of a sudden to really "get into" my running/fitness?  Not that I wasn't before, but I've started doing a couple of things that kind of put me at a different place than I was.

1.  Spin.  So I was scared of going, but once I was there it wasn't that bad.  Which I knew to begin with.  I guess I just don't like doing new things by myself.  Who am I kidding?  I know I don't like doing new things by myself.  Doesn't matter if it's a new job, new activity, or meeting new people.  I get all nervous and pukey feeling.  Anyways, spin was fine.  It was seriously my first attempt at cross-training!  I know that I didn't push it as hard as I probably could have, but I was getting a feel for the whole deal.  Something to work on next time.

Reason it's not me: It's cross-training.  I've avoided doing anything other than running like the plague.  I gave up on Jillian Michaels after one time as it hurt too much.  

But in this case it really is: I actually like/love the 6am class.  That is a huge shocker because I am not a morning person at all.  I'd far rather stay up exceedingly late then go to bed at a normal time.  However, there's something kind of cool about seeing the sun rise (and over the mountains to boot).  Yeah, the studio I go to has a view!

2.  Treadmill.  After my less than stellar blood lactate test results we rented a treadmill.  It sits in the corner of our bedroom and has not turned into a laundry dumping ground.  That's for the chair that sits in front of it when it's folded up - baby steps, people!

Reason it's not me: I swore that I'd never be a treadmill runner.  It just never appealed.  Why run inside when I live in such a beautiful city?  

But in this case it really is: Well, because I have to teach myself how to run again.  And it's been a godsend.  There's really nothing more demoralizing than knowing your running speed is about the same as most peoples' brisk walking speed.  Running at home only allows me to only compare me to me; which is kind of what I need right now.  

3.  Minimal Shoes.  asked for got a pair of Vibram Bikilas as a Christmas present.  I love the idea of Vibrams and, with my love of Injinji socks (both items freak Colin out as he doesn't like things between his toes), really wanted to learn how to run in them.  I've heard/read great things about them, but knew that it would take a while to figure them out.  For the last couple of months they've been sitting in a corner of my living room and have been used intermittently as slippers.  

Reason it's not me: I am a pronator.  As such, I am firmly committed to my Asics.  So much so that I am loath to change my shoes.  I have never been injured because of my shoes.  I am scared to try anything that might change that.  

But in this case it really is: Regardless of my comments above, I have been trying to be more mindful of how my feet strike, even in the Asics.  And I think that I've kind of trained myself to be more of a midfoot/forefoot striker.  I decided last week to actually wear my Bikilas for a walk on the treadmill.  And it was great!  So on Sunday I ran in them.  Again, my running is slow.  Which is perfect!  Slow in Vibrams = no pain in legs.  I was so happy after Sunday's 5km steady that I did a 6km tempo (w/1km warm up and cool down) today.  I'm wearing my compression socks just to be on the safe side, but so far I'm cautiously optimistic and will most likely be wearing them for all but my long runs.  I'm looking to get a pair of the Brooks Pure Cadence with my birthday money so I'll have another minimal option soon.

19 March 2012

It's On Like Donkey Kong!

It's here, it's here!!  

Jump up in sheer excitement and put your thinking caps on! 

Nuun is now accepting Hood to Coast applications!

You must be:

You must have:
An active blog

You can find out all the details HERE.

You have until 9 April 2012 to get your submission in.

Go.  Do it.  Now.

09 March 2012

I Need Your Help!

Please help me win a trip to Seattle!  

BMO Vancouver Marathon is holding a "Running Ritual" contest and I've obviously entered.

All you need to do is click on the link (http://ow.ly/9yY6xand like the photo on Facebook.  

Easy-peasy - the contest closes 19 March and the photo with the most "likes" wins!

My run ritual is wearing my Nuun visor on every run.  

And my race ritual is wearing my Team Sparkle skirt 
(who knew I'd like being "that girl in the skirt"?)

Thank you so much for your help!!!

07 March 2012

Wordish Wednesday: Who Knew...

...That you can rent treadmills?  

So it's not pretty, and might have a bell and a whistle if I'm lucky, but it will do exactly what I need it to: help me keep to my slow pace.  Zero excuses from here on out - at least for the next 3 months.  The hardest part will be convincing Spud that it's not for him and his toys...

05 March 2012

BREAKING NEWS: I Wanna Run {Again!}

HUGE {semi-secret} announcement from Nuun...

They are sponsoring team(s) for Hood to Coast 2012!

Application process to be announced mid-March.
Be sure to follow on Facebook {here} and on Twitter {@nuunhydration}!

Just a reminder of how truly awesome it was:

* I would have loved to have kept this to myself, but it'll be out soon enough (and everyone else is talking about it, too).  You can bet that I'll be applying again - not sure how I'll up the ante this time!

27 February 2012

The Kübler-Ross Model As It Pertains To Running

If I've been a bit quiet on here lately it's due to the fact that I had my blood lactate test done last week at Peak Centre Vancouver.

I actually thought that I did pretty well.  I ran until I couldn't and was proud of not falling off the treadmill.  And then I got my results.

First, a little bit of an explanation.  Now, I fully understood going into the test that I would be told to run my long runs slower.  Heart-rate based training is a pretty exact science if you get tested.  You run on a treadmill and, in my case, blood is taken every 3 minutes.  Eventually you "voluntarily" quit and where you top out is where your maximum heart rate is determined.  Your blood is then tested to determine how fast you accumulate lactate.  Obviously the less lactate the better since that's what makes you feel like you're dying when you run.

So here's why I haven't posted.  I've been processing.  And I have to admit that they way I've dealt with the results is a lot like grieving.  Hence, the reference to The Five Stages Of Grief:

Denial:  What?!?!?!  They want me to run my zone 1 how slow?  That's a walking pace! (Note: pace is personal.  My standard for slow is slow to me.  It may be way slower than yours or you might think it's super fast.  For that reason I will not be discussing my actual paces.)

Anger:   WTF?!?!?!?!?!?  Here's part of a fb email to my friend (who understands as she's been tested too): I'm going to be walking my effing long runs.  I did my run yesterday entirely in the middle of zone 2.  And that felt ridiculously slow.

Bargaining:  Maybe I can just sneak in a few kilometres in zone 2.  That won't make much of a difference, right?

Depression:  I can't do it.  I paid good money to get tested and they're telling me to freaking walk?  Why'd I even bother?  Another excerpt: Anyways, sitting here bawling my eyes out.  Maybe I should just drop down to the half.  

Acceptance:  I know how much this will make me a better runner.  I will follow it religiously so that I don't get stuck where I've been for the last couple of years.  I've seen how it's benefited those friends who've stuck with it.  It will be hard, but it will make me stronger.  

Luckily I experienced all five stages in one day.  I'd kind of sucked it up after writing the top part of this post.  I just wanted to make sure I got it down while I was feeling that way...  I'm still pretty emotionally traumatized by the whole thing to be honest.  It felt/feels like such a blow to my running "career".   I know it won't last forever, but, with an "it'll probably be 6 weeks until you see improvement" philosophy, it will seem that way!

Here's a quick and probably insufficient explanation of heart-rate based training*:
  • When you run you produce lactate.  Lactate produces fatigue.  It's that fun "I feel like my lungs will explode and legs will fall off" burning feeling.  You want to train your body to run longer before feeling that way!
  • Generally in distance running you want to stay within your aerobic threshold (zone 1) which feels like you can run all day.  
  • Heart-rate based training helps you increase your aerobic threshold by teaching your muscle fibres to eliminate lactate more efficiently.
  • We have slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibres, as well as intermediary fibres.  The more zone 1 training you do the more you train your intermediary fibres to act like slow twitch fibres.  Peak's example is of a sink: the fast twitch fibres produce lactate to fill up your sink and the slow twitch fibres are the drain.  The more you train your slow twitch fibres the better they are at removing the lactate - it's like widening the drain so the lactate leaves your body more quickly.
  • Intermittent zone 3 and 5 work, which are higher intensity work, will help elevate your lactate threshold. 
The best news that came out of my test is that I have a lot of room to improve!  My massive zone 2 range means that I can increase very well as long as I do the runs correctly.  

About 90% of my running should be done in zone 1 to increase my aerobic threshold.  The rest of my runs (10% or once a week) should be in zone 3.  It'll take a while and a whole lot of discipline to get there, but I know that I'll see results eventually.  I'm going to have a kick-ass marathon in October!

Anyone else out there had this test done?  How'd you feel about your results?  Does it get easier/better?!?  

*This information is how I understand what I have been told by Peak.  I am not a doctor, lab tech, or scientist.  If anything is incorrect the error is mine.  

15 February 2012


So, yeah.  I was a little shocked to see that I haven't posted anything since 2 February.  Not that I believe for a second that any of you were sitting there every day waiting, but that's way more of a break than I expected to take!  There hasn't been too much to report lately other than "went for a run; it was okay."  Here's a quick look back at the last two weeks since there has been some good stuff in there.

1.  We are all signed up for the Half Corked Marathon at the end of May.  

It's really close to Colin's parents' place so we have a built in babysitter for Spud.  It also falls on the same weekend as my mother-in-law's birthday so here's the present of spending time with your grandson...  

We were lucky to get in.  We knew, from friends who ran it last year, that it is a fun "race" and that it sold out quickly.  We made sure that we knew the on sale date/time and were prepared.  Colin was ready at the computer last Tuesday night.  The early bird rate (only 10% of tickets) sold out immediately.  The entire race sold out in 3 minutes!  Our friend, Gina, had a scare because in the time it took her to phone Colin and ask if we were adding the pre-race dinner as well (we're not) she ended up on the waitlist.  But I guess other people couldn't complete their registration(s) within the allotted time because a few minutes later she was notified that she was in.  

Anyways, the reason it's so popular is that it's a 17-19km course through up to a dozen wineries.  I love this sentence from their FAQs: "If you're planning on setting a record, this might not be the race for you."  No kidding.  The water stops are actually wine/appetizer stops.  If you can't finish (re: are too tipsy) you can catch a ride back to the post-race lunch.  Finally, it's a race Colin and I can and will run together!

2.  I'm officially a Nuun Ambassador for 2012!  

I wasn't sure if I would be selected for 2012 since my 2011 selection was due to Hood to Coast.  To be given the opportunity to represent them again is a total honour.  My real-life friends can attest to the fact that I promote it all the time.  Or at least tell you that I seem to have my visor and water bottle surgically attached.  I've even gotten 2 of them hooked (but that could have been the free tubes I gave away...).

3.  Mel (Tall Mom) posted today about a new way to stalk find bloggers: 2 Slow 4 Boston's Running Blog Database.  

You can add your own blog or blogs you like (thanks whoever entered me!) to the database.  As Mel said, it's a great way to find local bloggers or people you want to hit up for a room meet at races.

4.  If you live in Vancouver, BC, please know that there is a new running store in town!  

Distance Runwear carries specialty running brands like yurbuds, VIVOBAREFOOT, and, my personal wish-list brand, Oiselle.  Colin's already been - peanut butter GU, anyone? - and I'll be going with birthday money to buy this lovely item:

02 February 2012

I Get To Play Too! {Revised}

Just when I thought no one would invite me to play along Tasha at Healthy Diva tagged me!  So here's the gist of the latest blogging world equivalent to a chain letter:

There are rules to this fun game that are as follows:
1. Post these rules.
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people. 

I'm going to do rules 1-3.  4-6 have been done to death by almost everyone else out there.  I don't really want to nominate 11 people who have already posted this and I never have been good at forwarding on letters/emails/etc that are in this vein.  I'm sure that my luck is horrible and I will never become rich, but so be it...

11 Random Things:

1.  Apparently I cannot follow directions.  That or I can't read.  I'm amazed that no one called me on missing this section yesterday

2.  I am a pack rat.  So it's probably a good thing that Colin is a purger.

3.  If I went back to school I would study to be an archivist.

4.  I'm scared of ladybugs.  

5.  I love kids toys, but find that I tolerate Lego only this much more than trains.  It's not so much the building that bothers me, but the constant hovering and "helping" from a certain almost-5 year old that does me in...

6.  I could not live without pasta.

7.  Favourite boozie drinks: Crown Royal and Coke, Strongbow, and frozen Bellinis.

8.  I picked out my wedding ring.  Colin got to decide how big the diamond would be.  

9.  I still have my first stuffed animal.  It's a rabbit that my dad bought for me the day I was born.  Her name is Bunna and she sits on my bedside table.

10.  We have a giant pine cone that we got off of the side of the road in California.  I'm sure with the creepy-crawlies that came out of it there was no way we were supposed to bring it back across the border.  But it's over a foot tall!  

11.  I'll take CFL over NFL any day.  And I don't even watch the Superbowl anymore because the half-time shows aren't that good and we don't get the commercials up here until after the game is over.

Here are the questions Tasha asked:

1. What is your favorite recovery drink?  Depends.  I usually have Nuun after a run - mainly because I have some left in my bottle.  I'll drink chocolate milk if I can have it super cold, but we don't have it in the house very often because Spud would want to drink it all.  I've been known to have a glass of Coke after really long runs.  The last time I did that it was with my sausage and egg breakfast at the pub with my running group.

2. Love the treadmill or hate it?  I've never been on one.  Fear it.

3. Name your favorite cross training exercise/routine.  Cross train?  What?  I've dabbled with core work and weights, but haven't fully committed to it yet.  Really should get on that.

4. Favorite book read within the last year?  Running Through The Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon by Neal Jamison.  If you felt like running barefoot after reading Born to Run then reading Jamison's book will make you want to run forever.  

5. What type of dessert do you like to indulge yourself in?  I'm a sucker for pretty much anything.  Chocolate cake (specifically the one my mum still makes for my birthday), Colin's homemade apple pie, Swedish Berries, and Hot Tamales are all favourites.  And, yes, candy can be considered a dessert.  I'm fairly equal opportunity where diz is concerned.

6. What motivates you to get through a tough workout?  If I'm honest there are some days where I'm not motivated.  Usually it's that I know that I'll feel good if I do it.

7. Favorite race ran?  New Year's Day Fat Ass 50.  You can read my report here.

8. If you had to eat fast food, which would you prefer? In-N-Out Burger, hands down.  Unfortunately/thankfully the closest one is in Redding, CA, which is 1170km south of where I live.  I should admit that, prior to having Spud, Colin and I camped out way down the coast with the sole intention of driving inland to get a burger.  1 sketchy campsite, no A/C, and the hottest day they'd had in years led to an excellent lunch!

9. Favorite childhood memory?  Going to the same place for summer vacation every year.  We've gone to Tofino, BC, every summer (I missed 2 times - when Spud was born and last year) since I was 12.  There's a lot of outdoorsy stuff to do, but once you've done it a couple of times you don't really need to again - unless you love it, of course.  Eventually our days looked like this: wake up, coffee/tea while shell-hunting on beach, brekkie, read/go into town (all 3 stop signs) after fog rolls in, lunch, read, play cards, walk on beach/people watch after fog burns off, dinner, read, bed, repeat.

10. Runner’s World or Running Times or both?  RW sometimes, but it's expensive.  We don't get the cheap deal up here.  Usually Canadian Running.

26 January 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.  Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  I'm the last one standing in a house full of sickies.  Colin and Spud both caught the flu over the weekend so it's been really quiet around here.  I haven't run all week either out of fear that it'll tip whatever immunity I have over the edge.  Working really hard here not to get sick!

2.  I (finally) signed up for a lactate analysis.  I'm pretty sure I run my fare share of junk miles due to being in the wrong heart rate zone.  Peak Centre came out to my clinic and did their talk, which I've heard before, and, since I was waiting for the group discount, I put my name on the list.  I've been wanting to do this for about a year and a half so it'll be nice to know how I should be running.  My main fears, though, are a) running on a treadmill - I've never done that and am scared of falling off - and b) being told that I'm extremely inefficient.  I'm already slow and I have a feeling that I'll have to start off even slower still!

3.  I'm going to be a race ambassador!  Late nights and wine sometimes lead to the best ideas...  Earth Run is a local run that "promotes awareness and raises money for various environmental organizations and initiatives" while having a minimal impact.  This year's theme is healthy and sustainable oceans.  They're rolling out a Virtual Run this year so be on the lookout for posts about that!    

16 January 2012

Monday Musings

Hope you're all doing well - marathon training season has begun in earnest for many of us with spring races looming on the horizon.  Expect a lot of talk about that over the next 4 months.  Until I get some news-worthy runs in here's some of the random crap that's been floating around in my head lately.  Nothing conveys random like a list:

1. Snow.  It has finally started snowing in Vancouver, BC.  Yes, it's January.  Yes, we're "up North."  But you need to understand that I live in the little pocket of Canada that doesn't usually experience legitimate winters.  There's an ad on tv right now that has all sorts of "true Canadians love the cold" sentiments and I just can't identify.  Yes, I'll wash my laundry in cold water, but if I can stay inside with a book instead proving my worth by walking outside without a jacket I'll take it!

2. Sunday Run.  Speaking of snow - I had to run in it on Sunday.  Thankfully it wasn't actually snowing, but it was freaking cold (again, bear in mind it was cold for here).  I think it was about -5C/23F when we started.  The bonus to the clear skies was that the sun popped out at the end to warm me up a bit.  The problem with Vancouver snow is that it turns to slush fairly quickly.  It was warmish on Saturday so the snow got quite lumpy.  Which would have been fine had it not frozen over night.  I had to constantly check my footing on my run so I wouldn't slip and injure myself.  The roads were fairly clear so I ran on them when I could, but wasn't 100% comfortable running in the middle of the right hand lane.  Between the potential threats of slipping, turning an ankle, and getting hit by a car (always remember that you can react faster than they can when it's icy!) concentration was the key!  

3. Jillian Michaels/Yoga/Spin/Indoor Running.  Look!  4 bandwagons that I'm (probably hopefully) going to jump on.  My run on Sunday made me realize one thing.  I am weak.  I've proven that I'm stubborn mentally strong.  However, my legs are only good at moving forward.  My stability muscles are pretty darned weak.  My legs just ache from working to keep my footing.  It was like being on a balance board, but more dangerous.  Obvious targets will be glutes and hips as they've given me issues in the past.  But I need to work on overall cross-training too.  

My plan is to do one of the Jillian Michaels workouts at least once a week.  I think I'll be starting with 30 Day Shred, but picked a couple of other ones too.  Let me know if you have your favourites - keep in mind that I can't do anything "jumpy" like pylo since we're on the 2nd floor and my neighbours wouldn't appreciate it.  For yoga I went with Rodney Yee's Yoga Conditioning For Athletes.  It had decent reviews and I think I can convince Colin to do it with me.  He balked at me getting the one titled "Essential Yoga For Inflexible People."  I'd probably do this one on Mondays so I can stretch out after my Sunday long run.

Spin.  Ah, spin.  I've heard nothing but favourable things, but have yet to try it out myself.  I'm so intimidated by it!  Probably because I haven't been on a bike (of any sort) in over 15 years.  I know I can't fall over, but I hate being at the low end of the "suitable for all levels" description.  Yet here I am seriously considering it because a local studio - that some of my running friends go to - is having a deal.  60% off an unlimited month, which is so good that I'd want to buy it even if I wasn't interested in trying it out!  Their Thursday 7pm spin/yoga class would fit in really well with my schedule.  I still have a day to buy it so I need to stop waffling.

Lastly, there's an indoor track that's close by that I want to use to get in a 4th or 5th run per week.  I'm terrible at going out with Spud.  I'm terrible going out in inclement weather.  I don't run on my own at night in the dark.  I know that I need to step up and get in as many additional runs as possible so this would be a nice option to have.  The bonus, for me anyways, is that it's not a treadmill run.  I'm not sure how long the track is so I might end up feeling like a hamster, but I'll just have to keep telling myself that it's only 8km steady and it's a run I probably wouldn't have done otherwise.

4. Expanding Dinosaurs.  Santa brought Spud some dinosaurs in his stocking that grow when placed in water.  It took a couple of days, but it did get quite a bit bigger.  It's grossly slimy.  And starting to shrink.  Which is getting funnier by the day since it's ridiculously disproportionate.  

7. Cat Came Back. Spud has fallen in love with this Canadian National Film Board classic.  If that song doesn't get stuck in your head I don't know what will.  Please don't curse my name if you find yourself humming it during a run. 

8. Angel Food Cake.  I made one.  From scratch.  Not only because I have a ton of eggs to use up, but because Colin bought me this for Christmas.  Love.  It.

10 January 2012

Tempo Tuesday

Today marks the first (real) week of training for my next marathon.  I went to clinic last week, but, seeing as I'd run a 50km two days before - have I mentioned that? - I decided a 6km tempo would be a bad idea.

I have a 6km tempo (plus warm-up/cool-down) on the schedule for tonight.  I haven't done any sort of speed work since May 2011 and it's definitely showing.  I may or may not explode my lungs this evening.  Here's hoping the positive attitude I have right now sticks around...

On another note, running an ultra can completely kill your shoes.  Mine didn't have close to the usual end-of-life mileage, but they are done.  I tried to run in them on Sunday and made it a measly 5 out of 10km.  My knees told me that it was time to pack it in.  Thankfully I have a loving husband who picked me up a pair of my standbys while I was at work. 

Asics GT-2160
This is the 3rd pair I've had of this exact same shoe.  

And I'm thinking of mixing it up a little, which terrifies me.

Let me explain.  I have been wearing some version of the Asics 2100 series for years now.  I have had very few problems (fingers crossed/knock on wood).  They have served me very well. However, I've started to consciously make the effort to not heel strike quite as much so I think that they aren't the best full-time shoe for me anymore.  I'm still willing to keep them around for long runs - as a friend at the running store said, I'm more likely to need the cushioning at the end of long runs when I'm tired and not so focused on form.  

I'd like to get a second pair of shoes that are more suited to a midfoot strike while still providing some sort of pronation control.  I would use these shoes for my shorter runs.  I put the question out there on Twitter and got a couple of answers back so far.  I'm not 100% brand loyal - I'll get the one I can find at work or for cheapest. 

Here are my options so far:

As suggested by Asics - Neo33: 

As suggested by Melody (a Brooks rep and HTC teammate) - PureCadence: 

I still want to see what the comparable Saucony and Nike shoes are as well.  

Any thoughts?  If you run in either of these shoes how do you like them?

06 January 2012

And The Tortoise Wore Sparkles

Alternate titles could have been:

How Do You Spell D-F-L? - This was a serious contender...
Slow And Steady, Wins The Race Gets You To The Finish
Slow And Steady, Wins The Race Is Slow And Steady
I'm Already At 40km.  What's Another 10?
I'd Rather Crawl Than Walk Away Now
Yes, I Do Need To Kiss The Fire Hydrant

A funny thing happened on 1 January 2012.  I found myself toeing the "line" at the 19th Annual 2012 Vancouver New Year's Day Fat Ass 50 Run and Freeze Your Fat Ass Swim.  Funny because it was 50km.  Funny because I hadn't really told all that many people.  Funny because it took me almost half a year to really want to enjoy running again.

A bit of a history:

I ran the Vancouver marathon last May and, while my race plan was sound, my result was a huge disappointment.  I made it to Hood To Coast with Nuun and had an amazing time, but crashed (physically and emotionally) at the end of that too.  

Fake it till you make it!
Not sure I'll ever top this!
By the end of the summer running had pissed me off enough that I was done.  I burned out.

Due to time constraints and a huge lack of motivation I dropped out of my half marathon clinic that was supposed to get me through the summer months.  I wanted to get back into running, but not be dependent on a schedule.  I found that I could run while Spud was in playschool twice a week and that helped me get back into it.  I still wasn't loving the runs, but I needed them (physically and emotionally).  

After a while I was really craving a goal.  I knew that there was no way I wanted to do a half in October.  I wouldn't be prepared.  It would be added pressure that I didn't want and added costs that we really couldn't afford.  Now the proper thing to have done would have been to sign up for a shorter distance race.  There are some good 5km and 10km races later in the fall.  However, I have a hard time spending $40+ on a short race.  If I want to run for half an hour I can do it by my house for free...  Anyways, I digress.  I've been thinking about ultras for a while now - participating in a 200 mile relay kind of gets the mind dreaming.  The reason the Club Fat Ass event was on my radar is because it's not really a trail ultra.  Yes, there are trails, but they aren't too technical and are all within the limits of city parks.  I was really familiar with the road portion as well so I didn't feel like I'd get lost.  

When I made my decision to run I kept it a secret.  A big secret.  So much so that I didn't really have anything to blog about.  How can you blog about running a lot when you "aren't training for anything right now"?  I told a whopping 4 people about my goal; 3 in person and 1 online.  I figured the less people knew the less pressure I would feel.  And I was right.  I found a training program online for another 50km run that was based on time.  It seemed much more attainable than one based on mileage.  I didn't train as much as I should have (typically me) however, I was able to get in a couple of relatively long runs.  I had no illusions as to how I would place in this run.  I knew that I would be out of my league and probably come last.  Surprisingly, that didn't bother me in the least.

The Big Event:

While I'd love to start the actual run recap with the quintessential "the day of the race dawned bright and early" I can't.  It'd be a lie.  Yes, it was early, but not so early as to be obnoxious.  And it was dark.  Thankfully it wasn't pouring rain - which Environment Canada had convinced me it would be.  I got up at 6:30am so I could get some breakfast and make sure my stomach wasn't going to revolt on me.  My friend, Laurie, was picking me up at 7:40am so we could sign in around 8:30am.  Every race should be like this.  Seriously.  I wasn't nervous.  I only felt a little silly in my Team Sparkle skirt, mainly because I was meeting a group of total strangers.  There was no pressure.  Not from anyone, especially myself.  

                                                                                                                                                       Me ↑
After a quick briefing that covered Club Fat Ass' rules - no fee, no aid, no wimps* - we started at 9am.  The local media was out to film us as we are apparently odd enough to get coverage along with the polar bear swimmers.  It was clear from the get-go that I'd be on my own.  I kept up (and by that I mean within sight) with the group for a while.  I was mostly concerned about getting lost in Stanley Park as I don't think I've ever actually gone on the trails there other than the seawall.  It's really pretty in the park.  Definitely not something I would do on my own for safety reasons - it is smack in the middle of the city - but I'd go back to run them with Colin.  I caught up to another runner - Sybille, the Chief Exec of CFA - for the last bit of the park before she headed back to the start.  My friend Gina surprised me at that point and took some pictures.  I knew she'd be coming out to help crew for me (take pictures and provide moral support), but I didn't know when and where she'd show up.  It was nice to see a familiar face.  

Once I got out of the trails I was on the part of the route that I was comfortable with.  I could stay on the seawall for a few kilometres before I had to take the stairs (later the bane of my existence) up to the Burrard Bridge.  If you've been reading for a while you'll know that the bridge was my nemesis during the Vancouver marathon when I had to go over it each way, the second time being at 40km.  Thank goodness they changed the route this year and I only have to do it once!  Anyways, after the seawall it was through some fancy residential neighbourhoods all the way to the beach.  It was nice to zone out running along there - my iPod was on the radio just for noise and I though about how much time Colin and I spent down there when we first met.  I got to where I thought the next trail started and it wasn't as far as I expected.  I had to call Gina because I wasn't sure if she was meeting me there or not.  Unfortunately we missed seeing each other a few kilometres back!  I added the .73km here - extra distance is a rite of passage at a CFA event so I wasn't too worried.  

It wasn't quite this sunny, but the view was still nice
The third section was all trail again.  Some of it was narrow and muddy.  I was thankful that it hadn't rained as it would have been a total mess and I'm sure I would have landed on my butt at some point!  The bad part was that there were a lot of stairs and my legs were not to happy about them.  They weren't regular stairs, but at a height that was just too high to be comfortable.  I turned left at the next trail and discovered that, while wide and covered in gravel, it was a hill.  And it was long.  My knee was starting to hurt so I walked a lot on that part.  About 5km from the turnaround I saw the first of the runners coming back towards me.  The guy who "won" - and was honoured with a brass pig - finished in 3:48!  I kept plodding along through the trails.  I had my directions (written, not a map) in hand and checked frequently to make sure that I was still going the right way.  It's not like it was wilderness, but I didn't want to tack on more distance than absolutely necessary.  Pacific Spirit Park is another park that I've been to, but never really explored.  The trails were beautiful.  You know it's an urban trail when the signs say "weekdays, dogs on leash; weekends, leash optional".  I got a few "good jobs" and "nice skirt" from runners who had already turned around and one was kind enough to tell me that I was really close.  Such a relief!  

Pacific Spirit Park trails
I was looking forward to seeing Gina again and I knew that Colin would be there with my food too.  Gina walked a little to meet me - and tell me that Colin had his camera out.  Usually my pictures aren't great, however, Colin is talented and I was running much slower than usual so I wasn't the colour of my jacket.  When I met up with him I immediately sat down and fished the tiny stones out of my shoes.  They'd been driving me nuts for a couple of kilometres.  After that I had a few salty tortilla chips - stroke of genius to bring those, let me tell you - and some of my kona cola Nuun.  I finished the first half in roughly 3:30 which I was quite pleased with.  

Here's where I should be honest.  I probably should have stopped at 25km.  My knee was sore.  Most likely the changes in terrain and the distance were wearing on my shoes.  If I'd had a second pair it would have been nice to have some more cushioning.  My quads hurt from the hills/stairs.  But the weather was decent - brisk, but not cold, and not raining - and I signed up for 50km.  I at least owed it to myself to see how far I could go without taking the easy way out.  Time wasn't (never was) a factor so it was simply seeing if I could do it.

Colin kindly reminded me that I probably shouldn't doddle.  He was right.  I waved goodbye and continued my walk/run back the way I came.  As is usually the case, the run out of the park didn't seem as long as the run in.  I (kind of) knew where I was going - and I had my trusty directions.  I wasn't much of a fan of running on my own, but the headphones were out and I was being attentive.  It wasn't dark - yet - so not really a concern.  I don't run on my own all that often when it's that solitary.  A different experience to be sure.  I definitely enjoy running where there's more people or with people I know.  At one point I met up with Laurie again which was quite a surprise.  I'd asked Colin if she had turned around as expected at the halfway point.  He assured me she had, but I hadn't seen her on my way there so I was a little confused.  Turned out that she had missed a turn and had to go the long way around.  After a quick pitstop - the bonus to an urban race is that there are real bathrooms - we ran together for about 15 minutes before she left me in her dust (with my blessing!).  The hill back down was as unfun as it had been on the way up.  Usually I'd love it, but my knee was still giving me heck so I was taking it nice and slow.  The stairs were no fun going down either and I did sort of a sideways left-foot-down-right-foot-down on each stair.  Colin met me at the end of the trail and would have taken pictures, but his battery died.  Boo.  I dumped some more rocks out of my shoes, grabbed more chips, and told him that I'd see him soon.

Soon, apparently, is relative.  I really didn't have that far to go before meeting up with Colin and Gina again.  But it seemingly took forever.  Wait, it actually took forever!  Run, walk, hobble, run, walk, hobble, ru-nope hobble still, run...  You get the picture.  It didn't help, either, that I was going past concession stands and the smells were taunting me!  I was very happy to see my crew.  Our friend Dan was there as well, having biked out of downtown, and I jokingly asked if he was there to pace me.  He probably would have fallen off of his bike if he'd tried as I was going so slowly!  I was especially happy that Colin had my gloves.  Why I'd given them away I don't know.  It was a short stop.  Mostly I figured that if I'd already hit 42km (on my watch) I might as well finish the darn thing.  I knew that I could walk the rest of the way if necessary and still finish.  When I left them it was a bit of a hill - not much of one, but enough after that amount of time - and my leg just wasn't wanting to work.  Every step sent pain up under my left knee cap.  I knew that my shoes were done for the day - it was the same thing that happened at Hood To Coast.  The foam looks like it's good, but it's like having wooden soles.  So I did what any stubborn runner would do and poked around at my knee until it felt "better".  

I might have felt like crap, but at least the views were distracting.
Again, wasn't this sunny, but not raining either!
I walked across the Burrard Bridge because at that point I didn't feel like running up and over it.  I walked down the stairs - fearing I would turn into a tumbleweed - back to the seawall.  I ran past the last few crazies (different from CFA ones) who participated in the annual polar bear swim.  The route back to the start wasn't through the woods, but past Lost Lagoon and back to the other side of the seawall.  There were a lot of people out which was nice, if not a bit annoying.  If the split bike/pedestrian path is only wide enough on the pedestrian side for 4 people, please don't walk 4 across!  At least it was entertaining to pass them rather closely and surprise them.  I was beyond being curteous at that point.  It was getting dark as I made my way past the Nine O'Clock Gun and under the Brockton Point Lighthouse.  I popped up to the bike path where there were more lights since I wasn't entirely sure where the road was back to the start.  There were only a few people around at that point - including one person coming towards me.  I wanted to make sure that I was aware of my surroundings and just pass them by.  That was until I discovered that it was Colin.  He'd come to wait for me so that I wouldn't have to be alone in the dark.  Funny now that I thought my husband was some potential creeper.  I checked my watch and determined that I would be able to finish before the next hour struck!  

Moon wasn't out, but this was one of the last views from the seawall
Lion's Gate Bridge - it actually was this dark, but it's not my picture
It was a little incline up the parking lot to the finish.  There was no line to cross, just a fire hydrant to kiss.  I'm sure that there were all sorts of germs on it, but there was no way I wasn't going to kiss that sucker!  

Colin came out to finish with me

Checking my time
Proof I actually did finish!
I finally finished in 7 hours, 54 minutes, and 41 seconds.  I was tired, sore, and my shoes squeaked.  I was almost an hour over what I would have liked to finish in.  I was last.  I didn't care.  Colin, Gina, Dan, and Laurie (who finished her first 50km race in 7:07) were there to celebrate with me.  I wasn't willing to do the celebratory Freeze Your Fat Ass Swim though...

And then Colin and I went and got the tastiest bacon and cheese hamburgers ever on the way to pick up Spud.

* Club Fat Ass rules:
No Fee. I understand that there is no such thing as a free lunch. I agree to not whine about how a free CFA Event is organized and promise to enjoy it for what it is rather than grumble about what it is not. I don’t expect a finisher medal, souvenir t-shirt, draw prizes, a loot bag or any other stuff to take home after I finish a CFA Event other than my dirty laundry and, possibly, some bragging rights.
No Aid. I am an experienced endurance athlete so I know how to dress for the weather and to pack what I need to eat and drink. I agree to not whine if I suffer as a result of my screwing up and not being adequately prepared for a CFA Event.
No Wimps. I understand that a CFA Event may be physically and mentally demanding. I agree to suck it up and not whine regardless of how tough a CFA Event might be.

04 January 2012

Wordish Wednesday

The bonus of a self-supporting ultra marathon is that you can bring your own crew (which, yes, is also true of a sanctioned one...).  The extra bonus is that if your husband's hobby is photography you end up with amazing pictures even if you don't look so great!  This is the turnaround at 25km on 1 January 2012.  Recap to come soon!


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