Sunshine Coast April Fool’s Half Marathon – Race Recap!

On Sunday I ran the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool’s Run presented by Coast Cable. It was a really beautiful day, lots of friends were on the coast for the run, and I actually ended up running a surprise PB! Here’s how the day went:

I’ve been living on the Sunshine Coast for the past 8 weeks while working at St. Mary’s Hospital and the Upstream Family Medicine Clinic. On Saturday, our friends Greg, Martina and Greg’s brother Jeff took the ferry over from Vancouver to join me and Jan in Sechelt for the weekend. We had a late lunch at Shift Kitchen, and then drove to Smuggler’s Cove Provincial Park for a short hike. We didn’t attempt anything too intense, since Greg, Jeff and I were running the half the next morning. On our way back, we grabbed some groceries and made an awesome dinner of steelhead, quinoa salad, risotto and grilled asparagus. Martina also made this really awesome guac that we ended up eating with lime-flavoured tortilla chips..the best.

almond milk + coffee + nervous Alyssa = must be race day

So Sunday morning I woke up early with my usual pre-race nerves. After scrolling through Twitter for Barkley Marathon updates, I decided to just get up. I ate a bowl of oatmeal with a little bit of almond butter and chocolate chips. I also drank about 1/2 a mug of decaf coffee with almond milk. It was so nice to have Jan, Greg, Martina and Jeff to chat with! Really helped distract me from the race.

time to boogie! Greg 1.0 , me, Jeff and Greg 2.0

 

Since the race is point-to-point, we left one car at the finish line and all piled into Martina’s car to head to the start. There, we met Alan, Greg B., and Dimitri (also saw Julie and Steph!). We all grabbed our race packages, put on our numbers, and did a quick warm up.

It was sunny and clear, so I went with shorts + singlet + arm warmers and gloves for the race. I think it was the right call! I would have been warm in a tee-shirt but I was glad for the arm warmers. #ventilationFTW! The race goes off at 9.17 am, and around 9 the volunteers started corralling us all to the start line. I went to the bathroom one last time and gave Jan my joggers and hoodie.

Before I knew it, the race started and I was over the timing mat. I was trying to run by feel for the first little while. The last time I raced a half marathon was in August – Seawheeze! This was also my PB, and while I knew I’d gotten stronger since then I also didn’t feel like I was in that kind of shape. I didn’t taper into this run and I’m in the middle of a 50k training cycle, so I thought “ok, let’s just see”. My best guess was that I’d run around 1:40.

So we start the race and I just try to settle in. My first three km splits were 4:19, 4:13, 4:17 (averaging 6:45/mi) and while my initial thought was “whoa too fast”, I also thought “but I feel really comfortable”. I decided to just go with it and see what happened.

still feeling good at 6k

The first 10k of the race flew by. This has never really happened to me. I felt like km markers were just coming up so quickly. I’m not sure if it’s because I was enjoying the rolling hills, or because I’ve gotten used to much longer runs, but I found myself thinking “How are there only 10km left in this race?!”

With every km I checked my watch to see how far off of 4:30 pace I was. I wasn’t planning to push myself for anything faster than that, but the plan was to try to use it as a benchmark. For every km under 4:30, I just felt like I was putting seconds in the bank – and I ended up needing a bunch of those to get up the hills in the next part of the course.

there’s the pain face!

I ran with a few small groups until this point in the race, occasionally drafting in the headwind or pulling one or two runners (mostly men) with me. I took a cup of water at every aid station (there were four) but none really made it into my mouth. One I splashed on my face, another down my neck and I think I got a tiny sip out of the third or fourth. I didn’t have any food for the race (this is pretty standard for me in a half).

At km 15-16, I was running totally alone, and came to the start of the large hills on the course (Marlene road up to the highway, which continues up). I really had a moment coming up Marlene when I thought I’d burned all my matches and just about died, but then I settled back into a rhythm and the highway seemed like no big deal. At this point the race was really spread out – I could only see one or two other runners ahead of me.

chasing down 10th place!

The hill crests at km 18, and from there it was just get to the finish! I saw Jan and Martina at a few points (the start, 6km, 12ish km, and the finish, plus driving from point to point) and that was a big boost. I saw Jan with his camera just before the finish, and turned to sprint home. I passed one woman in the chute with only a few metres to go!

I have fast friends :) Alan and Greg were already done and demolishing bagels!

Ultimately my official time was 1:34:17, 10th F overall and 5th in my age group. This is a 41 second PB over Seawheeze on a tougher course, so I’ll take it! After the race we all came back to my Sechelt place for a family brunch – the best way to finish a race :).

Jan and I also took a quick afternoon drive/walk to Porpoise Bay, just up the road from where I’m staying. It was so pretty but so windy! Towards the end of the evening I got a really bad headache. I tried everything (caffeine, fluids, rest, a shower) until I realized I probably needed salt (I had already eaten oatmeal, then pancakes, fruit salad at brunch and then a salad for dinner). I literally put some margarine on a piece of toast and dusted heavily with salt and magic! 30 minutes later I felt like a different person.

What did you do this weekend? Anyone else a very salty sweat-er? 

All photos by the wonderful JAN except the one with the Fool’s Run banner, which is thanks to Rick Horne

Monday Workout Recap!

Happy Monday! Last week was a bit of a drop-back week in terms of mileage for me but good for intensity. I ended the week with a half marathon on Sunday! Stay tuned for the race recap soon, but for now, here’s how the week went!

Monday Normally I rest on Monday’s but since I was racing at the end of the week, I wanted to squish some mileage into the beginning of the week. I ended up doing 40 minutes (8k) feeling SUPER tired after the 33km from the Sunday before.

Tuesday I had planned to go out for a tempo 12k, but after 6k I wasn’t feeling as good as I’d hoped and took it a little easier on the way back. I averaged 4:28/km on the way out and 4:51/km on the way back. This made me a little bit unsure about my plans for the race on Sunday.

Wednesday I woke up early to do an easy trail run before work. It was SO rainy. Originally I’d planned to go for 17-18k, but called it at 15 since I was drenched. Coffee earned!

Thursday I did a short little run in the early morning on Thursday. The cumulative fatigue from the week was catching up with me, and my work schedule meant I could only run from 6-7 am. 6.5km in the trails was perfect.

Friday Off! This was amazing! A much needed rest day.I didn’t even hit my usual 12,000 step goal, which didn’t bother me at all.

Saturday I had planned a shakeout run (the calendar says 30 minutes easy) but we ended up going for a hike at Smuggler’s Cove, which was low intensity and easy and just what I think I needed.

Sunday Stay tuned for a full race recap later this week, but I ran the Fool’s Half Marathon here on the coast! It was finally sunny and I had a really great day. Spoiler alert: taking a few days off is magical!

Total for the week: 63 km 

How did your week go?

Almond Butter Cookies (Gluten Free!)

I like to think of myself as a generally levelheaded person. However, every once in a while, something (like an EXAM maybe?) sends me totally into orbit.

Over time, I’ve learned that the natural answer to this is taking a mini-break. I’ve already gone for a run today, and the late-night studying had me craving something sweet. Since I’m still working in Sechelt, there aren’t any grocery stores open at 9 PM. I decided to try making healthy-ish cookies with what I had on hand – here’s what I came up with :)

Almond Butter and Oat Cookies

Makes 14 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats (in hindsight these are a little oat-y, so if you want to decrease the oats that’s probably fine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon (I like more!)
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Depending on your oats quantity, you might need to add some flour to thicken the batter – you want it to be pretty thick! If you want to keep the cookies gluten free, I think almond flour would work really well!

Combine everything in a bowl. Bake at 350 deg F for 10-11 minutes. Cool and enjoy! 

 

 

Race Day Checklist – Road Race Edition

This Sunday is the Sunshine Coast Fool’s Run. It’s a half marathon from Gibsons to Davis Bay. Since I’ve been working on the Coast (only 2k from the finish line!) I’m excited to run here.

Last weekend I was in Vancouver and needed to figure out what I’d bring back with me. I grabbed a few things to wear to work this week, then ended up going back to my marathon, trail race and triathlon packing posts. I figured it would be good to make one for a simple road race!

General

  • phone
  • wallet
  • keys

So I used to carry some of these things with me during a race, but ever since chafing at Seawheeze from having my phone in my back pocket, I’ve stopped. It’s not like I used it anyway!

Race Gear

  • shirt
  • sports bra
  • shorts
  • arm warmers
  • gloves/hat
  • socks
  • shoes
  • hair tie/headband/bobby pins
  • sunglasses
  • tape
  • number and safety pins
  • watch
  • heart rate monitor
  • Body Glide (I really can’t explain how important this is. Trust me.)

Some of this stuff will be different if you are racing in warm vs. cold weather. The forecast for this Sunday at the start line is 6 degrees and a 25% chance of rain. That probably means running in shorts, a singlet, hat, gloves, and arm warmers. No sunglasses and (happily!) no tape needed this weekend. I haven’t been running with a heart rate monitor lately (but might get back into it… more on that later) and I won’t need to carry anything for a half marathon.

Pre-Race

  • coffee
  • warmups (remember to factor in if these will be thrown away or checked!)

Post-Race

  • warm/dry clothes

Nutrition

  • hydration: race belt (or handheld bottle/vest) – prob only for marathon or longer
  • gels/fuel (What is my plan this weekend???)
  • post-race snack (my favourite cookies!)

And that’s it! Seems like a long list but it’s really not that much. Plus, on a warmer day/shorter race, you can get away with less!

What do you always bring? Did I forget anything?

Workouts this Week


I feel like I barely made it to Friday night this week – finally walking into our place (and seeing my Belgian) after a packed clinic, ferry delays and bridge traffic was the best feeling.

On the running front, I felt a bit of fatigue this week as well, so it’s a good thing the next one will be a bit of a drop-back! Here’s what I ended up doing:

Monday Friday/Sunday call shifts and run last weekendI always rest on Mondays! I think I still had some sleep debt from the , so I went to bed early.

Tuesday Easy 11.5k to the Kinnickinick park trails with Alexa, a med student who’s also staying in Sechelt this month. The run to the park is super hilly, so it felt like a good workout even though we kept the pace (mostly) conversational. I noticed I didn’t have as much pep in my step as I often do on Tuesdays.

Wednesday I ran with one of the docs, Simon, at lunch for a zippy 4.5k at 4:20 pace. After work, I did another 12.5k in the trails at a much easier 5:30ish pace. I had planned to do 14, but cut it a bit short because of timing.

Thursday This was supposed to be 12k of hill repeats, but after 8.5k I was really fatigued, so I ended it there. 2x Field Road hill (138m/450ft of elevation)at 4:43/km.

Friday I skipped my run in favour of trying to get home earlier, but traffic and the ferry delay made it a major fail. In hindsight, I probably needed the rest day anyway. When I got home Jan and I ate sushi and watched The Office. 

Saturday I met Alyson for an awesome, easy early am run around the Seawall. It felt SO good to be back in my usual neighbourhood, waking up in my own bed. We did 5:30/km and ended at Whole Foods – honestly amazing.

Sunday We met up with the usual RR crew bright and early for a 33km long run. It rained the WHOLE TIME! I was very cold but very glad to finish. I tried a fasted-ish run (oatmeal an hour before, then water + 1 shot block during, for a 2350 calorie deficit) and actually felt really good.

Total mileage: 80.6km! Even with the rest/cutting off a run or two I’m still happy with the mileage and happy for the chance to listen to my body.

Snowshoeing Hollyburn Mountain

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In January, Jan and I took advantage of a perfect holiday Monday and snowshoed up Hollyburn Mountain. The views were bluebird! Here’s a recap of our day and the hike up:

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The trail is free, and starts from the alpine area of Cypress Mountain. It’s a left from the main road as you head towards the ski parking. At the base, you can rent snowshoes or get passes to go into the groomed Cypress trails. The Hollyburn trail is marked by red poles, like the one in the photo above.

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The first part of the trail is one of the steepest, and I always find myself de-layering here :). Eventually, you move away from the power lines alongside this trail and into a more forested section.

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After 2.8 km of meandering up (sometimes climbing, sometimes more level ground), the trail turns up to the left towards Hollyburn peak. Several times when I haven’t had time for a long snowshoe, I’ve called it a day here.

This time, though, we had the whole day and it was so beautiful, I knew we had to get to the peak.

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At about 3.6 km, the trail starts to wrap around the mountain. Here, it’s easy to go exploring “off piste” if you have good visibility and the right conditions. Make sure you take the usual safety precautions that you would in the backcountry!

We explored a bit – my favourite is the trees that are covered in snow!

The snow is deep – I would definitely recommend snowshoes (you need more than just boots or spikes, at least in January/February).

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Eventually we stopped goofing around and made it the final few hundred meters to the peak. The views were unreal!

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2017-01-02-snowshoe-hike-hullyburn-mountain-038We took in the sights, ate a snack, and headed back down. Our total ascent time (with lots of playing around/stopping for photos) was just under 2 hours. We took our time going back down as well, with lots of photo stops.

Quick stats: 8 km roundtrip | Dec-Mar | 3 hours roundtrip | Parking and snowshoe rentals ($15) at Cypress Alpine Parking lot | 590 m elevation

Photos all thanks to Jan