Ultramarathon! Sun Mountain 50k Recap

“show me your bib!”
nervous smiles at the start line

I feel like this is going to be a doozy of a post! It’s also wayyy overdue: the recap for Sun Mountain 2017, my first ultra! Grab a coffee and settle in.

On Friday May 19th (6 days after we got home from Sydney), I met up with Jan and our friends Greg and Martina after a quick morning at the office. The four of us piled into Martina’s car and drove across the border to Winthrop, Washington. Our final destination was the Sun Mountain 50k for me, and 100k for Greg (!).

In few weeks before this, I finished my rural placement, wrote my CCFP, and traveled to Australia. It didn’t give me one spare minute to get nervous about this race, which I think was a really good thing, because it was the farthest I’d ever run, and pretty much the longest I’d been on my feet. (My only longer races were tri’s).

We stayed in a big house with some other Fraser St. Run Club folks, which was the best combination of advice from awesome trail runners and really good vibes. We arrived at the Air BnB a bit late (I was late leaving work + we had a long border crossing + Trader Joe’s stop) and made a quick dinner of stir-fry veggies and quinoa.

labeling drop bags

After eating I laid out my clothes. The weather was calling for 21 and sunny, with an 8 AM start in the mountains. I went with singlet (super old but tried and true) + Flow Y bra + Nike shorts, and a lulu long sleeve to start in. Add my Garmin, latest trail shoe choice and hat (Bondi beach souvenir trucker hat!) and I was good to go.

last minute race outfit pic!
drop baggies

The race had three aid stations: mile 8.6, 17 and 25.2 (km 13.8, 27.4, and 40.5). The website didn’t have a lot of info about what would be stocked there, but people had told me that Rainshadow events are always really well done. I made sure to have Nuun in the second two bags (the heat!) and tossed in a few other things I thought I’d like to eat. FYI: The aid stations were great, and had watermelon, bananas, pretzels, PB+J rollups, chips, water and sports drinks.

I wrote out my nutrition plan on the plane from Australia – colour coded because what else are you going to do with 16 1/2 hours? The main strategy was to get 90-150 cal/h, using foods that I already knew I could handle (not gel). Along the right hand side of the page I noted things I wanted to have available from my bag at the aid station (extra hair ties, chapstick, etc). I ended up not putting in the fig cookies, but I did have some banana bread in there instead.

So Martina (who was 4 months pregnant and an actual superstar) got up early to drive Greg to the start line for their early 5.30 am start, then came back to the house so she could drive me to the 8 am start. I was nervous at that part – it was chilly and I was just overall a bit shaky.

checking in

The race got started in such a quick way! Everyone was kind of standing around (like in the photo above), while the race director, James, did a mini safety briefing. But then, in the same breath, he was like “ok and 3, 2, 1, go!” People just standing around the start line were all “yikes ok!”

For the first bit of the race I was just thinking “omg I’m running 50 kilometres today”. I did a bit of “omg what am I going to think about for the next 48.5 km?!” and a lot of looking around until I settled in around 5k. I came to the first aid station absolutely dying to get rid of my long sleeve. It was around 14 deg at the start line and probably overkill even to have worn it in the first place.

I knew Jan didn’t have access to a car and would only be able to see me at the halfway point and the end, so at the first station I found my drop bag, grabbed some food (another waffle and shot bloks) and ditched my top. This is probably where I made my biggest mistakes of the day. Early that morning, Kat (speedy trail runner, also friend) had told me to get calories in early. She knew that in the heat and hills I wouldn’t feel like eating late in the race.

Feeling great running along at halfway

To make a long story short, I didn’t eat much at all (2 waffles + half a package of chews) in the first part of the race. Things were going so well at the 25k mark that I thought I’d be fine. In the last 10k, I got nauseous and focused on getting fluids, but wasn’t really able to take in a much food.

From about 28-30km, I felt medium –  until 45k, when I really just wanted to be done running. I was tired, hot, and my feet hurt. I really think that a major reason why I faded so hard was nutrition. I just didn’t get enough calories in. So, lesson learned! Eat early!

I don’t think I’ve ever really hit a true “low point” in a running race before. At 46ish k, I really just wanted to sit down on the trail. I was tearful and not thinking at all clearly about how I only really had 20 mins of running left to do. I couldn’t even recognize myself bonking a bit!

such an emotional roller coaster – from tears to smiles in a few steps

Jan ran out to keep me company for the last 3km, and seeing him really helped. I was so ready to have my first ultra done!

“can I dump some of that water on my head?”

I finished in 6:03 (23rd F). I think I’m capable of something closer to 5:45 if I train harder in the trails and figure out nutrition, etc. It’s taken me a full five weeks but I’m starting to think that it’s maybe something I would attempt again :).

At the race, you don’t get a medal – it’s a stainless steel beer cup! It says “Sun Mountain 50 km 2017”. I totally love it – way more useful and cool than a medal.

the crew watching the 25k finish line on sore legs!
driving through a still-snowy pass on the way home

The rest of the day was tiring but fun – we hung out at the finish line and ate amazing wood stove pizza + tons of snacks, beer, coffee and water. We waited for Greg and eventually ran with him to the finish line of his 100k race. I slept pretty well (I don’t usually after a hard race/workout but 65000 steps in one day will do that to you) and we watched a bit of the 25k race on Sunday morning before driving back home.

I’d definitely race this one again! Thanks for a fantastic first ultra experience Rainshadow!

PS I also got a really cool t-shirt as a souvenir, but no photo of it! Might be able to find it here

MEC Trail Race 3

too sweaty to open my eyes! sorry in advance for the iphone photos – no fancy camera today!

While we were in Australia, my friend Moira emailed asking if I wanted to join her for one of the upcoming MEC trail races (“Trail Race 3“). Of course I said yes!

Side note: the MEC races are so great because they have all the things you need for a race (timing, well-marked course, coffee at the start line and snacks after) but none of the extra bells and whistles (participation medals, t-shirts, etc.). This means they can be SUPER CHEAP but still well-run, challenging and super fun. 

This race was hosted by MEC North Van and was 15$ for a 15k trail race. There was also a 55k option, but it was only 2 weeks after Sun Mountain and even a 15k race sounded hefty. The race was on the Capilano-Pacific trail, which is mostly wide and non-technical, but also very beautiful!

Moira also got friends Jen and Travis to register, and Jan came along for moral support ;). We drove out to Ambleside Park, where the race started. They had coffee and water and we grabbed our bibs. Excel with Grace was there to lead pre-run yoga (when did I get so stiff?!?!).

I lined up near the front of the pack. I didn’t really know what to expect from other people there, but Jan is always telling me to start up front. There were a few layers of men in front of me but I didn’t see too many other women. They ended up going out pretty fast and when I saw us hit the first km in 4:20, I knew I needed to be a bit more conservative. I let the lead pack, including the first woman, go.

At this point I was running with only one or two other people. The race would go slowly up towards the Cleveland Dam before coming all the way back down, so I focused on running the uphills as much as possible, so I could put more distance between me and any other chase groups. I’m still so much better going up than down! I had some doubts in the early kilometers about racing so soon after Sun Mountain, but I reminded myself it was supposed to be a fun, no-pressure day and just went for it.

On the way back, I saw the others (the joys of an out and back course!) and started to feel good, especially with the downhill. I ran the last 7k significantly under a 5:00 pace and finished in 1:18:28 for 2nd female.

It was a pretty warm day, so I wore an old lulu swiftly tech tee and speed shorts, plus my Flow Y sports bra and a random pair of socks. I’m still rocking the New Balance Vazee trail shoes (a departure from my beloved Saucony!) and quite liking them. I had both of my trusty Garmin’s (steps and GPS tracking) and that’s about it! I carried my Ultimate Direction handheld but this was prob overkill – I didn’t drink on the course.

It was great to get a post-race massage, banana, muffin and coffee! We spent the rest of the day hanging out and getting ready for the week – a perfect Sunday in my books :)

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

California International Marathon Race Recap – Part 2: RACE DAY

Earlier this week I posted about the start to the marathon weekend, and the day before – time to talk about race day!

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At 4am on Sunday, my alarm went off and I was instantly up. I covered myself with BodyGlide to ward off any chafing (more on that later). Then, I got dressed (I wore a lulu bra, tee, socks and shorts. My watch is the new Garmin ForeRunner 902XT, and my shoes are Saucony Zealot ISO. I carried my handheld bottle and added a trusty pair of BMO Vancouver Marathon gloves). I tucked my phone and headphones into the back pocket of my shorts, just in case I needed some mid-race motivation (spoiler alert: didn’t need it!)

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CIM is a point-to-point race, and we stayed in a hotel near the finish line in Sacramento. The buses to the start line in Folsom left at 5am, so I added more clothes (lulu warm up pants(old), throwaway sweater, and puffy jacket), and we headed out to the bus. I was trying really hard to eat, which just meant that I was carrying my breakfast with me. It’s a cup of black hotel coffee, and two blueberry toaster waffles with peanut butter and banana slices.

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We got to the buses and after a good luck kiss goodbye from Jan, the Belgian went back to bed and I sat down. I chatted with other runners while we rode to the start line, and was SO grateful for the distraction of meeting new people. The ride felt LONG and we finally got to the start line by about 5:45. I waited on the bus until about 6.30, when I decided it was now or never.

I got off the bus and got in a longggggg line for port-a-potties. LESSON ONE of the day: line up earlier. By the time I was done it was 6:58. I threw my jacket and pants into my gear bag, threw the bag onto the gear truck, and hustled to the start line. I slotted myself next to the 3:28 pace group just as the national anthem started. In the end, I think this actually helped, because I didn’t have any time to get more nervous! At 7 the gun went off and boom! I was running a marathon.

FYI: Instead of doing the traditional pace groups every 5 min (3:30, 3:35, 3:40, etc), CIM does 2 min before that to help people who want to BQ. This is because in the past couple of years, you have needed to run under the actual qualifying time to actually run Boston.

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I went out and tried not to run too fast, because everyone (Greg, Dave, Jan, Alyson, Danielle, etc. etc.) had told me I would easily be swept up in the excitement of the start and I should just chill out and run. Around km 3, I came up to Laura and Jess. Jess was running her first marathon as well, but pacing Laura. They were planning to aim for under 3:30, and I figured it would be nice to have some buddies, so I joined in.

Thank goodness for those 2! The three of us ran together, sharing water and chatting. The first several miles absolutely FLEW by, and I found myself feeling good at the half (1:43). It was rolling but way more downhill than anything else for the first half of the race.

In the second half, we all started to feel it at different points. Poor Laura was looking for a big PB but had sore legs and an upset stomach, so we both talked to her a lot. I think all the positive talk really helped me feel like I was in better condition than I was! At 36k I decided I didn’t want to risk losing time, and started to pull ahead. I could hear the girls behind me for most of the way, so I knew they weren’t far off the pace.

By km 40 I had had about enough. I told myself I would run one more km (to 41), enjoy the last one (42), and push for the final 200m to the finish. When I saw Jan cheering like crazy at km 41.5, it suddenly hit me that I was ALMOST DONE my first marathon. As I turned towards the finish, I saw the capitol and the gun time, which was ticking towards 3:29. WOOHOOOO! I ran in with the biggest smile on my face.

Chip time: 3:28:13.

During the race, I had planned to eat 5 HoneyStinger waffles. Overall, I managed to eat 1.5 toaster waffles + PB + about 2/3 of a banana and 400mL of black coffee for breakfast, and 3.5 HoneyStingers during the race. I didn’t want the last 1.5 waffles, but since my pace was holding I didn’t force my stomach. I drank water from my bottle until after the half, when I started refilling it with Nuun from aid stations. I’m not sure how much more I drank because I also shared with Laura and Jess, but I felt fine hydration-wise.

The course was totally beautiful – no wind, 7 degrees at the start line, rolling hills with plenty of down and awesome crowd support all along the way. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

After the race, I grabbed some super hot oatmeal from the Whole Foods truck (yes there is a Whole Foods truck and yes it might be enough to get me to move to Sacramento). The post-race food that CIM offered was chips (no, thanks, I didn’t need salt that badly) and a banana (also no thanks). I saw some people also handing out KIND bars, but after our YYZ adventure, I’ve had enough kind bars for a long time.

Once I crossed the finish line, I stopped running. Someone put a medal on me, and a space blanket. The problem started when I tried to walk again. I took my first step and immediately realized how sore my legs and joints were going to be. Ouch!

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We hung out at the finish line (and I rang the BQ bell!!), we grabbed my gear (and I realized how hard it was going to be to put on my pants) and finally started to head (hobble) towards the hotel.

On the way there, I noticed SCOTT JUREK leaving with his family. I stage-whispered to Jan “OMG THAT’S SCOTT JUREK”. Jan laughed and told me to ask him for a photo, so I did. He was so nice! His wife just ran her first marathon since having a baby (badass) and he ran as well. Total fangirl moment.
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img_0194Once we were back I FaceTimed my parents, who had been following the race online. My Dad was excited for me to have run so fast, and my Mom was in true mom mode and wanted me to sit down. I told them I was sore but feeling good.

I then began the project of taking a shower. First of all, I could barely take my own clothes off. Then, I sat down to pee (tmi? Sorry. I was actually hydrated!) and decided I might never be able to get up. Then, I actually got into the shower and realized that since I’d carried my phone in the back pocket of my shorts, I’d given myself some really beautiful chafing along the back of my hips, just above my butt. Cool.

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Once I’d finally showered, I threw my hair into a bun, put on real clothes and began the next project: walking down the stairs. This was not pretty :).

Eventually, we made it to brunch to meet up with friends Ben and Brian and fellow marathoners Nick, Kristina, Lissa (7th woman overall!!), Corri and Geoff. I wasn’t super hungry and ate some eggs and waffles (serious theme of the day) for brunch, and really enjoyed a Moscow Mule.

After that, we walked around to flush my legs, went back to take a look at the end of the Finish Line, and relaxed at the hotel. We had a semi-early dinner around 6:30, but my appetite wasn’t 100% back yet. I ate salad with chicken and also had an awesome glass of white wine from California.

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By 10:30, I was totally wiped and went to bed with a big smile on my face. It was a great day and I couldn’t be happier with my first marathon. I felt great during the race, nailed my nutrition/hydration, and BQ’ed by just under 7 minutes. I’m so grateful for all the Cambie RR people, RunVan, Danielle, Alyson, and of course Jan for helping me get there! When is the next one??

California International Marathon Race Recap – Part 1

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Guys, I had the best weekend. I think it would be too much to cover it all in one post, so I’m splitting it into Saturday (expo, shakeout, nerves) and Sunday (marathon, food, sleep).

Jan and I flew in to Sacramento on Friday night. I get nervous flying, and it was a windy trip, so by the time we checked into our hotel at 10:30 I was wiped. We both fell asleep watching Friends. 

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I found my name in the “R”!

On Saturday morning, we decided to hit the expo and then get brunch. I was hungry in the morning and figured I should carb-load, so I ate one of the small muffins that I’d brought.

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The expo was fun to wander around, but I brought everything I needed and didn’t end up having to buy anything. We did score some free HoneyStinger waffles (which I used to fuel my race). We also picked up my bib, gear drop bag, and course info. img_0055

After the expo we ate brunch. I had most of my spinach omelet… when we were walking around I felt ok but any time I tried to eat on Saturday I would realize how nervous I was.

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Is it a stack of waffles or a big mac?!

We rested for a bit at the hotel and watched the Food Network… we got pretty invested in an episode of Cupcake Wars. Ha! I got my waffles out of their packages and tucked them into my water bottle so they’d be ready for race day.

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chicken arms everywhere
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the finish line is right in front of the state capitol!

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Around 4, we decided it was shakeout run time. We went to a park near the hotel for strides, then jogged around the finish line area. Oh boy. I also managed to eat a Picky Bar (ah, fudge nuts flavour, obvi) somewhere in here.

After the run it was time to get some dinner. Thank goodness Jan had made reservations at the local pasta restaurant, because it was crazy in there. I got spaghetti with meatballs (usually I don’t eat red meat, but I wanted to get the simplest pasta) and ate about 2/3 of it. I also tried really hard to get some fluids in, so I had 2 big glasses of diet coke (better than nothing, and I just didn’t feel like water).

On the walk back to the hotel, we stopped to pick up a banana for me to have on race morning. It was COLD at night (around 3 degrees) and I was a little shaky. I couldn’t tell if it was because I was cold or because I was super nervous. We went to bed and I tried to calm my brain down. My heart rate is usually in the low 40’s before bed, but Saturday night it was 65! I laid awake until around 2, when I think I fell asleep for a bit.

Next up it’s race day! Stay tuned!

Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon Race Recap

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Post race – definitely needed a little help to stand up

This is a continuation of my Seawheeze race weekend post, where I talked about my lead up to the race, plus the Seawheeze expo.

I woke up at 5 am on Saturday (who are we kidding? I also woke up at 2, 3, and 4). I had planned to eat a banana, but the only thing I could handle was a blueberry toaster waffle (my long-time nervous-tummy cure). I watched a bit of Olympics for inspiration, then got dressed and ready for the race.

I wore my lulu free to be bra, water bound singlet (old but I love it), speed shorts, and speed socks. I also put on my trusty Saucony Zealot ISO’s (the only shoe I’ve worn post-fractures). On my right wrist I had my Garmin Vivofit2, and on my left, my Garmin Fenix 2 (not pictured).

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EXTRA nervous am selfie

Ok. So I don’t get nervous about many things, but multiple choice exams and goal RACES drive me bananas. We left the house around 6.30 and I jogged for a bit and met up with Jan for the walk to the start area. The atmosphere, in hindsight, was really great – there were tons of volunteers, balloons, music and people everywhere. I lined up at the front of the first corral (basically everyone under 1:45) and waited for the race to go off.

Soon enough – BOOM! There were fireworks and cheering and off we went. For the first few k I just went out and tried to run by feel, like everyone had suggested. One thing that struck me at the start line was how warm it was by 7 am – I’m almost never comfortable wearing just a singlet and I was totally fine, temperature-wise.

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The course winds through downtown, onto the Dunsmuir viaduct, into east Van, then onto the False Creek seawall. From there it’s an out-and-back up and over the Burrard bridge and down Cornwall, back over the bridge to continue on the seawall around Stanley Park to the finish line. Strava data HERE.

I saw lots of people cheering for me, including Martina and Greg in Olympic Village, Julie on the seawall and Pacific, Dimitri at Cornwall and Burrard, Yasuyo on Cornwall (thanks for volunteering!), and Jan in a bunch of places (start line, Pacific, Burrard bridge, finish).

This was the first race that I have huge gaps in my memory. It took me the first 10k to finally settle down and feel ok, so I was really thinking about my breathing and checking in with myself. I honestly don’t remember a few parts of the course.

There were AWESOME cheering stations (ride cycle club was set up on the Viaduct, and Clearly lenses had a big station on the bridge), which definitely helped. The out and back was tough (looking at the GPS data, it’s probably because I was running under 4:20 per km/6:55 per mi). Around 11k, I saw Jan on the bridge and knew that I needed to get rid of the singlet and this was my one chance. So… yup after all the photo taking and sherpa-ing he already did, he ended up getting my VERY sweaty singlet tossed to him as well.

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The first mile is fast because the GPS is off downtown – I’m pretty sure this is a tiny negative split!

Finally, FINALLY when the course hit Pacific there was shade and I was starting to feel better. The Stanley Park seawall was lonely cheering-wise (and the race had spread out) but I have run it so many times that I was comfortable.

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Trying to smile at Jan with less than 500m to go

After the park we came out on the Coal Harbour seawall, right where Jan and I live. I rounded the final corner and saw the finish line and the clock, which said something like 1:34:40. I was very done, but I though HELL NO I did not run this hard to go over 1:35 and so I picked up the pace and crossed the line RIGHT at 1:35.

Luckily, I’d also started a tiny bit back, and so my official time was 1:34:58. I ran the whole thing by feel and didn’t look at my watch once. This is a big (almost 5 minute) PB and I’m so, so happy with it. Based on how good I felt after the race and over the next few days, I know I had more gas in the tank.

Other details: there were several aid stations, and I took a sip of water at 5 or so. I didn’t eat anything, but I was carrying a Gu (flavour: Espresso love, obvi). I did NOT barf at the finish line (another huge win).

After the race, I got a giant medal and a COLD TOWEL (this is genius people). As I continued down the finish chute, I was also handed a cold water bottle, which I immediately poured down the back of my neck, a lulu finisher’s hat, vega samples, saje recovery massage oils, Nuun, and KIND bars. I picked up a brunch package, which was a vegetarian breakfast sandwich, sour cherry tart, and extra cold grapes. I wasn’t hungry for any of that right away, so I saved it and sipped on a vanilla Vega smoothie and more water instead.

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Here are the splits – pretty even GAP, except for miles 8, 12, and 13. Seawheeze is not a super competitive race (their focus is making running fun) – the female winner (the very fast Kate) ran 1:21, and I came in as 95th overall and 40th female.

I didn’t get a chance to check out the Sunset festival because a) I was tired and b) I had to go to the hospital for call. I hear it was awesome, though!

So – a great day and a shiny new PB in the books! Couldn’t ask for more :)

AND – thanks to the lovely Jessica, there’s a little bit of a Seawheeze link up happening! PR’s everywhereeeee

Angela (So much deliciousness on her blog)

Christina (training for an ultra!!)

Kaella (behind the new-to-me blog Kaella On the Run.. can’t wait to read more!)

Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon

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This past weekend I ran the lululemon seawheeze half marathon! Omg what a great race. Everything about the execution of the whole event (and it was an event) was so well done. I’m going to break this up into 2 posts – a “pre-race” post (this one) and a standard race recap, to keep things from getting too long!

I’ll back up to last Fall to start – I had just started seeing Jan, and mentioned to him that I was hoping to sign up for Seawheeze. The race sells out super fast every year, so I was thinking I would have to figure out a way to get to a computer at work. Jan was planning to register as well and offered to sign me up. By the time he’d completed my registration, the race was sold out.

So I had a lot of advance notice about the race, but it was way in the back of my mind. A few months after registering, I received a package in the mail – race shorts! Instead of finisher’s shirts, lulu sends all their runners shorts. Since I’m totally crazy, I didn’t put them on – it’s bad luck to wear the shirt before the race is over!! Spoiler alert though – I’ve now worn the shorts and love them (they’re Lulu speed shorts, which is mostly what I wear anyways). My favourite things are the comfy lining and the zip pocket at the back.

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So the shorts went into my drawer and the race stayed at the back of my mind.. I ran the Rock n Roll half in October (1:41), and then the First Half in February (1:39). The First Half PB was definitely a surprise to me. Through the winter and spring I mostly ran shorter, faster runs during the week and long, slow runs on the weekend. I considered using a training plan, but the chaos of a resident’s schedule seemed to make it more stressful than it was worth.

Somewhere along the way, I started thinking about a goal time for this race. I thought for a while about aiming for 1:35, mostly feeling like it would be ambitious. Sometime in early July, I started saying it out loud, and all of my usual running buddies were more than happy to tell me to go for it. The other piece of advice they gave me, which I LOVED, was don’t look at your watch – run by feel.

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Race weekend came up fast. On Friday afternoon, Jan and I wandered over to the Convention Centre in downtown Vancouver to get my race package. It included my bib, a bike bottle, sunglasses, and a pack of Nuun tabs (not pictured) all packed in a Seawheeze duffel bag.

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The expo featured Nuun, KIND bars, Vega protein, Saje wellness products, and JJ bean coffee. It was fun to wander around in the sunshine!

From Jan's Insta
From Jan’s Insta

Friday evening, I did a little shakeout run (like 15 mins), and got a manicure and massage. The idea was to be as relaxed as possible because ohhh boy was I nervous. We walked over to Denman to get some pasta for dinner. We went to Nook first, but the hostess would barely give us the time of day! (and we go all the time). Lame. Instead, we ended up having a SUPER yummy meal (+1 glass of prosecco for those nerves ;) at Tavola. Win.

We walked home and I went to bed around 10.30, knowing I’d have an early start the next morning.

Check out part 2 here!