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?

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Race Report – 5peaks Golden Ears

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On Saturday morning I ran the 5peaks Golden Ears Enduro race – my first trail race! It was an interesting day and I think I learned a lot about trail running and how I respond to it. Of course, I also had a lot of fun out there :). I posted earlier this week about the morning of the race and what I brought with me, if you’re curious.

The summary: I ran the 13k course in 1:23:30, placing 4th in my age group and 16th female overall. Not a bad start!

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This was a bit of a last minute race for me – I saw it online on Wednesday and just decided to go for it. There were two options – the Enduro course is 13 km, and the Sport is 8.5. I’ve been running a little more mileage lately, so I chose the Enduro and hit register.

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The race was at Golden Ears Provincial Park, about an hour away from Vancouver. Jan and I zipcar-ed there bright and early, since the race started at 9. We picked up my package, which included some coupons and a 5peaks buff. I was a little nervous at the start of the race, because I always am, but this was different because it didn’t feel as serious. Everyone was having a great time.

The start of the race was self-seeded corrals, and I stuck myself in the third one (seemed like there were 4-5?). Decided I definitely didn’t belong with the elites in Corral 1 and there looked to be some speedy people in Corral 2. In hindsight, I would have been fine in the second.

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The race started and I headed into the trails. It was already hot (25 at least?) so I was grateful for instant shade. The first part was mostly a gentle uphill, so I just focused on keeping a steady pace and passing people when it flattened out a bit. There was an aid station around 3 and 10 k, and it looked well stocked with water and sport gummies. Since I was holding my water bottle and had a gel in there, I didn’t stop.

I didn’t end up taking the gel, although if the course had been 2k longer, I think I would have needed to. I had told myself “this is a race, and I never walk during races”… HA! At about the halfway point, I turned and found myself facing a steeeeep incline, which most people were trudging up. Ok, then. I used momentum to run up the first bit and then alternately hiked and jogged the rest.

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Once at the top I smiled, looked back briefly to appreciate the climb, then headed back down! This was definitely the part I need to practice… I have no idea how people can bomb down hills with rocks and roots everywhere but they did! I was careful – I could totally see myself snapping an ankle. With 2.5ish k to go we crossed a stream with a waterfall! So awesome I wish I’d stopped to take a photo.

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A little after the last water crossing I saw Jan, who was tucked into some bushes taking photos on the course. I crossed the finish line and felt really good.

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For the rest of the day, we hung out, did some errands and then spent the evening celebrating a friend’s birthday. On Sunday morning, I met my long run buddy Alyson for 20k in Vancouver. During the run I felt fine, but when I ended I was a bit, well, cranky to be honest. I felt a bit better after eating but was really tired all day Sunday and Monday. I really think I underestimated how trail running would affect me. It’s been a long time since running has made my muscles sore and made me so fatigued!

Race Recap – Pacific Road Runners First Half

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Hello! I’m still here :) I took a bit of an extended hiatus from posting through the winter and busy holiday season, but last weekend the racing season kicked off with the PRR First Half, so I’m back!

My photos from this race are a bit limited because it was cold and rainy, but I’m really happy with it for a few reasons:

1)A PB! (By 2:03) – my previous half marathon PB was 1:41:41, set at the Vancouver Rock n Roll Half in late 2015. Here, I ran 1:39:38.

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I wasn’t sure how to feel going into this race. I’ve definitely been running fairly consistently, around 50 km/week, but I definitely haven’t been doing any speed work, track workouts, or tempo-ing on a consistent basis. A few weekend call shifts also meant that my “long” runs have been sporadic and limited to only 10 or 11 miles (and don’t get me started on how many runs have been on the treadmill!) So, I felt like my fitness was suboptimal and tried to keep an open mind as I headed to the start line.

I was surprised when I came around the last corner, only ~250 m from the finish, and saw the clock below 1:40!

2)Even splits!

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Since I don’t think I’m in the best shape, I decided not to stress about my pace. I wasn’t planning to run with anyone (Jan sat this one out) and didn’t have music with me because of the rain. At the start, I hit my Garmin and then tucked it under the sleeve of my shirt. I could feel it buzz the miles (most were marked, anyway) but I couldn’t see the pace. I’m really pleased that I could run so consistently by feel. The slow mile at the end includes a decent uphill where I was feeling nauseous!

3)High cadence

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This is just something I’ve been trying to be more conscious of while running… more steps per minute = more km covered per minute! My usual “I’m not thinking” cadence hovers around 168, so 173 is a nice little bump for me. I’ve been going back and forth with a niggling left hip flexor, but it seems to have been fine.

The race itself actually went by pretty fast. The course was mostly very flat, along Pacific and the seawall from Yaletown to Stanley park, then around Lost Lagoon, around the park itself, and back to the finish line at the Yaletown Roundhouse. I started to feel a bit uncomfortable around mile 7, but I just told myself “it’s only a 6 mile run from here. You run 6 miles all the time”. Pretty soon that 6 became 5, and so on, until I just had to get through the last mile.

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It was a great start to the day, and I felt really good on Monday! First time in a long time that I have been able to run >2okm and not have any residual soreness the next day!

Up, Up and Away

IMG_3898I’m at the airport again! This time I’m heading to Europe for some fun cycling and then – FINALLY – ITU WORLDS! At this point, I’m recognizing that I’m fairly undertrained for this race (not something I recommend) but I know that I’m fit enough to do it safely and that I need to have reasonable goals for it.

Firstly, I’d like to have fun and soak in the atmosphere of competing at an international event. I’m so pumped to be wearing red+white, and I promise to show you all the Team Canada goodness here (and on my instagram!) in the coming weeks. Secondly, I’d like a strong, well-paced bike, and thirdly, consistency on the run, even if it is slower.

In the meantime, here’s a really mediocre recap of how training/life has gone over the past week or so that I’ve been in Vancouver (9 days). I haven’t tracked my training as well as I usually do, but I have been pretty conscious about getting it in. The swimming took a bit of a hit, but other than that, I’ve been pretty good! I’ve been cycling a bit on my bike but mostly at the spin studio around the corner from me, Cyklus. The workouts are killer and the people are great. I also headed out for a run with the 8th+Cambie Running Room folks, which was a great way to see some of the Seawall on Sunday morning. My other runs have been solo but really nice. Add a bit of yoga (you know, carrots are nature’s candy), and I’m feeling pretty good.

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Evening views from my apartment – on this night the North Shore mountains are just visible

Two of the things I noticed immediately about living in an urban setting (with no car!) are that 1) bikes are a hot commodity (I can’t reply to Craigslist ads fast enough!) and 2) I walk A LOT. I’ve been easily taking over 20,000 steps every day that I’ve been in Vancouver, which doesn’t really count towards training but definitely tuckers me out.

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So far the best thing by far about living here is all of the fun outdoor stuff to do. On Friday I paddled out with a friend and we caught a bunch of crabs! It was pretty easy (especially when I didn’t have to do too much prep work ;) and such a fun day.

IMG_3895The other great thing about living here? The BEACH! Most people who’ve read this blog for more than two minutes know that I’m a total beach bum but I’ve never really lived close to one (except for a few months in high school). So I keep pinching myself that I LIVE HERE. These are regular views on my runs. 

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Finally, I spent the last day or so re-packing some stuff to head to Europe. Remember if you’re packing for a destination race (or a cycling trip like the one I’m doing first – reviews to come!), you can find my handy checklist here. I have an awesome 70L pack from MEC that has been with me everywhere (Europe, Africa, South America). I don’t think they sell the backpack anymore but here’s a similar one. Above is one of my favourite packing tips for when I’m traveling with my backpack. I pack outfits in 1L ziploc bags (stuff sacks from MEC are great, too, and more environmentally friendly). Then, I label the bags with the date, and easily grab the right one in the morning! If I’m going on a trip with a less rigid itinerary, I just label them “beach”, “city”, “hiking”, etc.

That’s it! See you in Europe!

A Weekend of Racing – Waterloo Half Marathon Recap

13 hours and 53 minutes after I crossed the finish line of the EndurRace 8k in Elmira, the starting gun went off for the Waterloo Half Marathon. Originally I had planned to race this and test my fitness a bit, but my early season legs weren’t having any of it after a lot of running mileage this week. So, I ran the half this morning mostly for fun and also to work on running with tired legs.

A few of the Koala’s were running this race, which is always a lot more fun than racing on my own: Koach Rob, Jakob, and Simon all came out and had great runs today (shoutout also to Steve, who raced the Paris to Ancaster 70k, and also to Jill for the cheering and photography!). We met around 7:45 to pick up race packets, get ready and warm up together. Since this race had a relatively “normal” start time of 8:30 am, I went back to my usual nutrition gameplan – oatmeal with honey at 6ish, then a banana and half a black coffee from Starbucks at 8. Have caffeine, will run :).

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I wore crops, a lightweight tee, and arm warmers. I also tucked my hair into a ponytail under my cap – a go-to for longer runs because it does double duty of hair and sun control :).

The race started on a bit of a narrow path and I pulled ahead a bit just to get out of the traffic. I found the 1:45 pace bunny and hung out by him for a bit when the other guys caught up. Jakob and I were at a pretty matched pace, so we started running together and let the pace bunny pull ahead and Rob and Simon fall back a bit. At this point, I wasn’t fully warmed up, so I let Jakob pace me and we chatted. I was a bit worried about how my legs were feeling but really settled down by mile 5.

Mile 1: 8:11

Mile 2: 8:35

Mile 3: 8:29

Mile 4: 8:30

Mile 5: 8:35

Miles 6-10 are a bit of a blur. We held a really comfortable pace, and I don’t really remember anything remarkable about them – the half wasn’t a big race and so there weren’t tons of other runners around us. We tackled a few hills, but nothing crazy. Every once in a while Jakob or I would look back to see Rob and Simon about a minute or two behind us, and our conversation kept things from getting too monotonous. At the end of mile 10 there’s a little section of the course that’s a blind out and back, which I wasn’t really a fan of – obviously it was just added to get the distance right, but whenever I do that I find it makes my body remember I’m not just running for fun and it feels more like work. No biggie, though.

Mile 6: 7:58

Mile 7: 8:36

Mile 8: 8:36

Mile 9: 8:13

Mile 10: 8:31

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mile 10-ish. Thanks Jill!

Around Mile 11 Jakob pulled ahead towards the finish, and I thought about going with him but I decided that I would just keep an even pace. Simon passed by not too long after, and again I considered a little more effort but held back. I was feeling good and with the first half ironman of the season only three weeks away, I didn’t really want to push. I came towards the finish with a lot of energy left to open up a bit and I felt SO strong at the end – I’ll take it as a good sign.

Mile 11: 8:21

Mile 12: 8:07

Mile 13: 7:59

Last 0.1: 6:15

Final: 1:49:42 (6th AG, 12th female overall)

I negative split the race, but I would have liked to see top 10! whomp whomp. Overall, it was a great day for running. I took gatorade at every aid station (definitely not my usual but I think it worked well) and ate a salted caramel GU over about half a mile (6.5-7). That was definitely helpful, and I think it’s something I’ll start to do more often, even though I don’t normally like gels.

When I think about my take-homes from this race, I think I realize how even though I love running longer training runs, I’m pretty inexperienced racing half marathons. This was my third ever, including the one I did as part of the Barrelman half ironman last year. I probably need to practice pacing and the mental side of racing a longer distance.

My hips and ankles are a bit sore this afternoon, but I’m sure I’ll be back to normal by tomorrow. Time to hit the foam roller and then the books! #medicineproblems

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standard car selfie on the way home

Day in the Life

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Hey guys, happy weekend! One of the most common questions I get from people, whether they’re total strangers or my own parents, is “how do you fit it all in?” Some people are skeptical that it’s possible to be an endurance athlete while you have a full time job, and others are just downright surprised. I’ve seen a few of these “day in the life” posts floating around the internet, so I thought I’d give one a try and show you what a typical Thursday looks like around these parts.

6.45 am My cell phone alarm goes off. I take 30 seconds to find my phone in the sea of pillows (yeah I fell asleep with it in my bed last night, oops) and hit snooze.

6.54 am 9 minutes later, the alarm goes off again and I get up and turn it off. I showered last night after a late pool workout, so I skip a shower this morning.

7.15 am Once I’m dressed and ready for work (happily wearing scrubs today since it’s an OR day), I take my usual vitamins (multivitamin, Calcium/Vitamin D, magnesium) and sit down at my kitchen table to have breakfast (pumpkin oatmeal with a scoop of almond butter and lots of berries) and catch up on blogs/the news/my email/whatever else I need to read before the day starts. I put a simple lunch together, with lots of snacks.

IMG_3062the necessities – notebooks, laptop, coffee

8.00 am I leave for work, stopping to pick up a coffee on the way.

8.30 am I get to work, check the OR list for the day, meet the first patient, and get into the rest of my operating outfit (scrub cap, shoes, ID badge off, etc).

9.15 am We start the first case.

Now I’m scrubbed in and not wearing a watch, but at various times I retract/help suture/generally assist with surgeries. At some point, my preceptor gets tired of asking me hard questions about anatomy and makes me a coffee while we chat about triathlon (he’s a cyclist).By this point in my training, I’m familiar with the idea that surgeons don’t stop for silly things like lunch or pee breaks, so I grab a few bites of snacks between cases.

IMG_2978having a great time on plastics even if I am always hungry :)

5.00 pm Finish work and drive somewhat quickly (but also carefully :) to Laurier while scarfing down an apple. Boogie to get into the pool on time to start the Koala’s workout (still 5 mins late).

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6.00 pm Swim done. Chat with the rest of the team for a few minutes before heading to the treadmills for speedwork.

7.00 pm Run workout done. Normally I would stick around to stretch with my coach, but I have dinner plans so I need to get out the door.

7.15 pm I stop at my sister’s place to check on her because she’s been feeling sick with a cold, and at the LCBO to get a gift for my preceptor since tomorrow will be my last day on plastic surgery.

8.00 pm I arrive back at my place and go straight from the front door into the shower. While drying off, I sort out laundry from the workout and my day, tidy my shoes and decide on an outfit to wear to dinner.

IMG_2493threw this on because I wore it a while ago and liked it! also I couldn’t think of anything else :)

8.25 pm I’m done getting ready and running a tiny bit late, so I pick up the zucchini-banana muffins I made last night and get back in the car to make it to dinner at my friend’s house for 8.30.

9.30 pm After dinner we decide it’s early enough to have a glass of wine (it’s almost the weekend, after all) and watch some TV.

11.00 pm I’m fading fast, so we say goodnight and I come back home

11.15 pm I’m in my pj’s, and I sit on my bed with my computer triaging emails, reading up on cases for tomorrow, write a card to go with the bottle of wine I bought, and finish this blog post.

12.30 am Done with the important things so it’s lights out! I think I’m asleep before my head hits the pillow.

Tuesday Musings: “30 Healthy Habits”

I often see articles on Pinterest, other blogs, and news media about healthy habits. For some reason, though, I don’t often think much about them. I guess I assume I lead a pretty healthy life! But I thought I’d go through this Women’s Health post, which popped up in my email a few days ago, and see if I really am as healthy as I think. The article is a list of 30 health choices that all women should make by age 30. I’m almost halfway through my 20’s (gah!) so I guess it’s time to see how I’m doing. Since it would take a while to go through all thirty points in one post, I’m breaking it up over the next 3 Tuesday Musings posts.

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1. Find a workout you enjoy I’ve definitely done this over the past 18 months with running. I had run here and there, but my habit really started in November of 2012, when I decided I’d run 100 miles in 1 month. Since then, with a few blips here and there (travelling to Kenya, really busy clinical days) I haven’t looked back. Totally, completely agree that this is a key element of health.

2. Drink more water This is definitely something I still need to work on. I’ve never been the kind of person that sips water during the day. For a while at the end of high school I got into the habit (and actually felt great) but it’s been a while. Even on/after longer runs I often drink only a few sips of water.

3. Quit smoking Check! Never started :)

4. Stand more Hmm. I would say that these days, medicine has me standing a lot, if I happen to be in the clinic or OR. However, on days off, I spend a lotttt of time sitting and reading. I’m not sure how to be more conscious of this, but I like the idea and still think it’s something I could really benefit from doing. I think I get a 0.5 on this one.

5. Find the best birth control for you I kinda figured this one out early. In my late teens and early 20’s I tried a bunch of types of the pill, and hated all of them. I was bloated, I felt nauseous, and I constantly had this weird taste in my mouth. Plus, I felt more emotional and just less like myself. Two years after I started, I stopped taking it, and feel so much better. I’ve thought briefly about an IUD, but the idea of more hormones is just too off-putting now. Is this TMI? Sorry :)

6. Drink only in moderation In the first year and a bit of medical school I definitely drank more than I did in my undergraduate years, but still definitely didn’t drink “a lot”. I think as long as I’m well under the recommended <7 drinks/week for women, I’m fine with this.

7. Get health insurance Also check! Thanks Canada!

8. Love your body For me, this is the hardest item on this list. I think everyone has parts of themselves that they wish they could change or “fix”. Loving myself just the way I am is a bit of a work in progress. Gonna go with 0 on this one.

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9. Schedule regular friend dates Luckily, I see a lot of my friends all the time around school. But, there are lots of friends from other times/parts of my life that definitely get neglected. And now being in clerkship means that seeing school friends is a lot less guaranteed. So while I’m doing okay in this area, it would be easy to make some changes to do a lot better. 0.5 again.

10. Learn to cook at least a few healthy things This I can do! Growing up cooking lots means there are a bunch of easy, healthy foods in my arsenal. If you want to see a few of the newer things I’m trying lately, check out the “recipe” and “yum” tags!

So, that leaves me at 7/10 on the first set! How do you stack up?