Seawheeze 2017 Race Recap

You know how I get nervous for races? Seawheeze makes me totally crazy! I wish I could channel my inner yogi but I’m a nervous nellie all the way. I’ll cut to the chase and say I had a really successful race, and this will be a bit long. If you only have two seconds here’s the short version: I had a blast and ran 1:30:42 (an almost-four-minute PB)!

I’m thinking a few things I did the week before this race made a difference. First, I barely ran all week. I was busy with work one day, feeling a bit off another day and before I knew it, I was picking up my package on Friday afternoon and thinking that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to go for a run 12 hours before racing.

there is no hiding from the camera in this house

The second thing I think I got right was nutrition during that week. I’ve been learning more about carbohydrate loading and how it only really works if you deplete yourself first. So, during the week I used myfitnesspal and cut WAY back on carbs (prob why I was feeling “off”). The night before the race, I ate sushi (salt and carbs?) and some extra oatmeal. The morning of, I was accidentally out of oatmeal (great planning on my part) so I ate plain zucchini bread. In the 24 hours before the race I tried to really decrease my fat intake.

I had a harder time falling asleep that night but eventually did. The race starts at 7, but the start line is a few blocks away and I wasn’t checking a bag, so I rolled out of bed at 5.50, paced nervously for 30 minutes, and got dressed :). I took my now-traditional pre-Seawheeze nervous selfie. I also wore my lucky socks… I know this is crazy but I have PB’d in every race I wore these and there must be some magic in there.

Also NOTE TO SELF: french braiding my hair was perfect.

Jan walked me to the start line, and I jogged back and forth for a short warm up. We headed over to the start line, and saw Danielle (who also ran a big PB! Woohoo!) there as well. Seawheeze is a huge but not super competitive race, so I jumped into the first corral (Under 1:40). It was pretty surreal to be standing on the line of a 10,000 person race (next to Nic, who came second overall, Kristina, and a few other local running celebs).

Pretty soon the race was off and I just tried to settle in. Last year, Ben gave me the really good advice that I should run a race by feel – just go as fast as I think I can hold for that distance. I think that this stops me from seeing my pace and freaking out, and also has taught me to be more tuned in to my bod.

Initially, I was thinking it would be awesome to break my previous PB (1:34:17, set at the Fool’s Half earlier this year). This past week, I also wondered if I was maybe fast enough to do 1:32? Between very few structured workouts and not looking at my watch, I really didn’t have a plan other than “get in front of the 1:35 bunny and don’t get passed”. So we went off and little did I know I went through the first 2 km in 7:48… averaging 3:54/km.

splits from strava

I do have to say that just before 2k, we went over the Dunsmuir viaduct and through the Ride Cycle Club cheer tunnel, which was epic. I was running way too fast and grinning ear to ear. Turns out that in the first half of this race I set a 5k and 10k PB as well.

photo from lulu facebook page

We rounded the corner off the viaduct and hit the Main/Keefer/Carrall loop. I felt pretty bad at that point and from 3-8k was definitely a rough patch in the race for me. I tried to remind myself that all I needed to do was hang on until I just couldn’t anymore, and if I eventually fell off the pace that would be ok. Thanks to marathon and ultramarathon training, I was very sure that I would get through 21k, no matter how slowly I had to do it.

Eventually we got off that part of the seawall and went up the hill on Bute and I willed myself not to barf. I knew Jan would be around the foot of the bridge but didn’t see him until he captured some really candid photos! From where I saw him it was only 500m to the peak of the bridge, and the downhill. was. amazing. Suddenly I felt so much better. I turned onto Cornwall and saw Yasuyo, who cheered and jumped about 30 feet in the air and powered through to the turnaround.

pure joy. Thanks for the photo Yasuyo!

When I started running back, I realized that part of feeling so good was a tailwind! Oh well. I knew I’d have to dig a bit and get over Burrard from the tougher side. I ran a 4:35 km (my second slowest of the race) and then hit the west part of the seawall. I also saw some more friends on this stretch, including Meghan, Nic, Yasuyo again, and Danielle (best thing about an out-and-back). From there I really did zone out – it seemed like every step was hard, but also suddenly I was at Siwash rock, and then Lion’s Gate, and the Vega cheering station and boom! I was turning into the park.

 

Once I was back on the Coal Harbour seawall, I started to think about my breathing and focus. I knew I’d be done running in 5 minutes, and I really didn’t want to throw up. Sometimes at the end of a race I get excited, and my heart rate spikes just thatmuch more, and that’s all it takes give me the barfs. With about a kilometer to go, I heard someone’s Garmin tell them out loud “20 kilometers. One hour and 26 minutes”. I literally did not believe it. My immediate reaction was that there was no way I was running that pace and they must have started their watch late. It was only at the 400m mark that I saw Jan, and he yelled that I was going to run 1:30.

I rounded the last corner and couldn’t sprint – too much tummy trouble. I still saw the 1:30 on the clock and couldn’t resist throwing up my arms. It was a huge breakthrough! I’ve been running 1:34-1:35 for the past year.

thinking about how much awesomeness this city has brought me in the last two years

Post-race I got a shiny medal and lots of goodies. Of course pre-race lulu sends out a pair of their special Seawheeze-branded, exclusive print shorts, and then when I picked up my timing chip on Friday I also got a bag, water bottle, package of Nuun, and JJ Bean coupon for a free coffee. There were free manicures, temporary tatoos and foam rolling in the Plaza, but I didn’t line up for any of it. Maybe next year!

 

I also didn’t wait in line for the exclusive Seawheeze store – too much $$ already spent on this for me! I think people really liked the stuff though, so if you’re in town for the race and don’t mind waiting it might be fun.

After getting the medal, I continued on towards the plaza and was given a Bearfoot Bistro brunch box. It had banana bread, chia pudding and an apricot. I wasn’t feeling up to food at that point, but it did get eaten later this weekend! In the plaza, I got an aromatherapy kit from Saje with Peppermint Halo and Muscle Melt (both of which I already loved) and a sample of vega smoothie. We took some photos and I let it sink in that I HAD JUST RUN 90 MINUTES!

Of course I hadn’t thought to bring any warm clothes, and it really wasn’t the warmest morning (which helped!) so we headed home pretty quickly. After a shower and a whole foods almond milk latte I was feeling great!

We took it easy for the rest of the day and met up with some friends at the Sunset Festival that night. Lulu puts on a big outdoor concert as part of the race, so we relaxed with friends and listened to the music. When we got home around 11, I had a huge snack (turns out running is hard) and totally crashed.

It was a great day!

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5peaks Mt Seymour/Golden Ears

I’m finally caught up on race reports! It seemed like I was barely racing at all and then all of a sudden they were back to back. I decided to race the 5peaks Mt. Seymour race as a bit of a last minute fun race – it’s kind of a long story.

Back in May, we went to a fundraiser for some of our running friends. They’d been chosen to represent Canada at the 50k World Championships. It was held in Italy this year, which was super cool and super expensive (flight, hotel, food, etc).

So anyway, the run club they (and sometimes we) run with hosted a big fundraiser. It was a really relaxed evening at our friend Jess’ studio (early childhood education by day, runner hangout by night). We first did a mellow 5k run, then ate a bunch of pizza, had some drinks and hung out. There was a silent auction and a raffle, so of course we had to get in on those, too.

Jan and I both ended up winning raffle prizes (hat + bag + water bottle for me, and shoes for him) but I also entered the silent auction and won… this race!

THEN, we found out that there was still so much snow on Mt. Seymour on race weekend (June 17th) that the race had to get moved to Golden Ears (where I actually raced last year!). So long story short, I found myself driving to a race at 5.45 am, less than 12 hours after a 5k road race, with Jan, my parents, and the ever-adventurous Moira, who agreed to come race as well.

The race itself was classic 5peaks – low key, well organized, really friendly and beautiful scenery. Also need to say that the race director, Solana, was really nice about helping me squeeze Moira into the race (it was sold out and I emailed her the night before begging for an entry!). Seriously, they are so, so great. Definitely recommended if you want some fun trail racing!

I think I was a bit in my head about being tired, and I probably told myself for the first 3-4 km that I needed to just settle into it. I was in third place or so (thanks to some long slow climbs that were very non-technical) for the first half but got caught on the more technical downhill. I finished 5th female overall in 1:18 on a 13ish km course.

It was a fun day overall! Definitely made me think more about being confident heading into a race instead of having to convince myself that I’m fit while I’m on the course. Also note to self for next year/other races- I really don’t need to carry that water on a run <20k… I don’t end up drinking anything!

On a side note, I was SUPER tired last week and took a few days off from running. I was able to hold a faster pace for my long run on Sunday, so hopefully that’s over! Also tried to add more meat/protein and sleep. We’ll see!

Any tips? (Besides sleep more :-) Have you raced 5peaks?

 

Another Race! Longest Day 5k

If you’ve been reading along for the past week or so, you’re probably wondering how it’s possible that I’m posting another race recap. I promise there’s just this one and then one more and then I’m caught up!

The Longest Day 5k is one of my favourite Vancouver races. It’s almost more about seeing running friends than it is about running fast (but also it’s always a bit about running fast ;).

The race is always on the Friday before the summer solstice, aka the longest day (June 16th this year). It’s out at UBC, and there is a 5k and 10k option. It’s the only 5k I’ve really raced hard in Vancouver, so I’ve been taking the opportunity to test my fitness whenever it comes up. Afterwards, there’s a huge barbecue and everyone hangs out on picnic blankets in the late sunshine.  Last year Jan paced me through the first 3k and I ran it in 20:32. This year I was really hoping to go under 20:00.

This year, my Mom and Dad were visiting so we brought them along to watch. Jan stayed with them while I ran, so no pacer for me. Going into Sun Mountain I didn’t do much speed work, so I wasn’t sure how my time would compare. I had already been at UBC for the day for work, so I just walked over to the start line to get my bib when I was done. After a while, Jan and my parents arrived. I was feeling a bit nervous so I waited til the last minute to get rid of my layers and head to the start. This also meant I didn’t do a warm up, even though Jan tried hard to get me to!

Also, since I came straight from work I’d packed everything that morning anddd… I forgot my watch! I put my phone in the pocket of my shorts so that the run would still be on Strava (crazy, I know) but I didn’t know my pace at all.

The first km turns almost right away and then goes slightly downhill before levelling off. I tried to stay with the little pack I was in but it felt SO FAST. Turns out it was 3:40 – is that my fastest km ever? Might be.

My usual thought process for a 5k is 1 km of running really fast in the beginning, 3km in the middle of just trying to hang on and one more km of oh-my-god-the-finish-line-is-right-there-don’t-barf-its-only-a-few-more-minutes. This race also has a harsh little uphill right after the 2k mark that I really felt.

I did back off on pace a bit for the middle 3k (4:05, 4:18, 4:12) and then used my last bit of gas to run a 3:57 for the final km. I was so glad to be done! There was a tiny bit of barfing (TMI? Sorry.) at the finish line but I got it together pretty quickly and felt a lot better once my HR came down. My mom was a bit shocked – I think for her the line of pushing too hard is way before it comes to that! My final chip time was 20:15… far from my goal of under 20 minutes but significantly faster than last year without much specific work put in. I was a bit annoyed at first but overall am really happy with the new PB.

Of course, the BBQ after the race was awesome (burgers, tons of veggies, ice cream, chips, cookies, and more!)and I more than refuelled from a long day. We went home as the sun started to set and I was in bed by 9.30 – possibly asleep before I was fully laying down! We had an early morning planned – stay tuned for more on that!

As for the race – another fun year! See ya in 2018!

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

Sun Mountain 50k Training Plans

This past Saturday marked 10 weeks out from Sun Mountain training. I don’t know if it’s going to be my “A” race for the year (will I have an A race?) but it’s definitely what I’m focusing on for now.

I haven’t set a serious goal, but I’m loosely hoping to be between 5:30-6:00 (average 6:35-7:12/km).

I’ve never raced anything further than a marathon on my feet (and I’ve only run one marathon!), but doing some longer triathlons did get me accustomed to multi-hour race day efforts. I tried to use some of the things I learned there to build a plan for Sun Mountain. Mostly:

  • I tend to log more miles when I’m with a group and there’s a set plan
  • I need to build in some solo workouts to prepare for how it will feel to be racing on my own
  • I need to listen to my body!
  • I need to practice fuelling.

I’m also trying to consider a few extra things for Sun Mountain:

  • It’s just a lot of time on my feet
  • I have only done a few short races on trail

Long Runs

I decided to build up to the race in parallel to the Running Room BMO Vancouver Marathon clinic. Dave and Greg are leading a big group of people who are running the race, and since Sun Mountain is just a few weeks later (and a few km’s farther), I’ve hopped onto their long run schedule.

This past Sunday was 29km (although a bit short), and I’ll loosely follow the clinic until they start to taper. My plan is roughly: 29 – 32 – 29 (with 21 as the April Fool’s Race!) – 32 – 32 (clinic starts to taper) – 36 – 40 – 30 (race day for the clinic) – 20 – Race!

Weekly Mileage

With those long runs, I’m looking to steadily increase my weekly mileage. For the past seven weeks, it’s been mostly between 65-75 km.

For the next four weeks, I’m hoping to be able to increase that a bit to 75-85 km/week. For the three weeks after that, I’ll look for 85-100k, and then I’ll taper down to the race.

Types of Runs

Since I’m working on the Sunshine Coast, I’ve also been trying to make my runs hilly and looking for opportunities to run on trails. I’m trying to do a bit of speedwork as well!

Fuelling + Listening to My Bod

So. My fuelling has always been something I forget to focus on. I tried hard during marathon training to nail down a strategy and practice it early. On race day, I didn’t end up getting all the calories I planned, but I did get most and I felt really strong, so I called it a success. Lately though, I haven’t been thinking about it as much and I want to make an effort to get back to being strategic. I haven’t fuelled with anything except water and a few gummies for my long runs during this cycle, so that’s gonna have to change.

As for responding to my own cues, I did take an almost rest day 2 Sundays ago – I woke up with a bad cold and decided not to suck it up and do my long run. Overall, I don’t think this made me lose any fitness and I felt great last week, even though I still have the end of the cold.

And that’s it! Any trail runners have some advice for me? 

PS – photos by Jan, except for the blurry cell phone photos I took of Dave’s map + my salad creation

2017 Races

Good morning! I’m writing this at 6:45 am from the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal waiting to head back over to the Sunshine Coast. I have a tiny case of the Monday’s, probably because springing forward this weekend means it’s pitch black out there.

I’ve been pretty quiet here since the marathon, mostly because (1) I haven’t raced (2) I’ve been studying for the CCFP, and (3) I’ve been away working in Sechelt/Wilson Creek as part of a rural medicine experience.

I definitely want to devote a couple of posts to living, running and working on the Sunshine Coast, but this morning my plan was to get organized for my 2017 races. So far, I have a few longer things on the calendar, and I hope to fill in some shorter races too.

April

  • April Fools Half Marathon (Gibsons to Sechelt) – since I’m already living on the coast for a few months, I may as well throw a race in here, right?!

May

  • Sun Mountain 50k – I signed up for my first ultra! And it’s 10 weeks away! More on this coming :)

June

  • Longest Day 5k – My current 5k PR and a really fun Friday evening race complete with post-run picnic

August

  • Seawheeze Half Marathon – this was such a fun race last year, and since it’s my current PR I really wanted to come back and run again
  • Squamish 23km – this race has a reputation for being hard. And, only a week after Seawheeze, it might be interesting ;).

September

December

  • While I’m not actually signed up yet, I was given a free entry to go back to CIM – my first marathon and BQ! If you’d like to enter, I highly recommend the forgiving course. You can use code ALYSSARUNS10 for a discount!

And, speaking of travel, Jan and I are going to be in Australia from April 26 – May 13 (insert happy dance!). If anyone knows of any cool races happening in Sydney around that time, I’d love to hear about it! I’m planning to have my peak week for Sun Mountain the first week that we’re there, so any excuse to get in some extra km’s would be amazing!