Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese


It Wouldn’t Be Vancouver if We Weren’t Talking About the Weather

It rained in Vancouver yesterday, so naturally everyone was all “WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET SUMMER?????” and then I was all “Um, didn’t we have like 2 weeks of straight sunshine? Haven’t we had summer weather pretty much since April??” And then I was like this:

So then I decided to go to the data. According to, this has been our rainfall in Vancouver for the past two weeks:

Rainfall over the last 2 weeks

So we haven’t had *straight* sunshine for two weeks leading up to yesterday’s rainy day – we had a whooping 0.6 mm of rain on Aug 2 and 1.8 mm on Aug 3. And then no other rain in the past two weeks!

And then I looked at the temperatures. According to Accuweather, we had temperatures at or above the historical average for:

  • 28 of 30 days in April
  • 29 of 31 days in May
  • 24 of 30 days in June
  • 27 of 31 days in July
  • 5 of the 10 days so far in August1

Here are the graphs, because all data should always be graphed2!

April 2016 temperatures

May 2016 temperature

June 2016 temperatures

July 2016 temperatures

August 2016 temperatures

Now, I realize that last summer it was even hotter and much, much drier. So much drier that we were on water restrictions due to the drought were experiencing3. But this summer has been warm and sunny here in Vancouver and I’m actually sad that it’s on its way out – sunset is coming noticeably earlier and I’m having to think about whether I need to bring a sweater with me when I go out if I’m going to be out until the evening, which I haven’t had to do for quite some time. But I am glad that we’ve had a long summer and I do plan to enjoy the remaining above average temperatures we have coming for the rest of this month!

  1. With a forecast that we’ll be at or above historical average temperatures from now until Aug 29. []
  2. Note that I didn’t make the graphs – I just took screenshots from Accuweather. []
  3. And as much as I love the heat, I prefer not having all the plants dying and not worrying if we were going to run out of water! []


Art of Spice

On Friday, I checked out this new Indian restaurant. I was a bit hesitant to go there at first because there was no one in the place – which is generally a bad sign for a restaurant – but it’s pretty new, so we decided to be adventurous and give it a go. And it did not disappoint!

We had some veggie pakoras, chicken vindaloo, and palak paneer and they were all delicious. Plus the servings were pretty big, so despite the fact that we were full when we left, there were lots of leftovers. When I first looked at the menu, I thought the prices were a bit steep, but then I realized that the dishes included rice and naan (whereas I’m used to going to Indian restaurants where you have to order the rice and naan separate), so the prices were on par with other good Indian restaurants that I’ve been to.

They unfortunately are still waiting for the liquor license which might explain, in part, the lack of customers, but I think it’s probably also that people don’t know about them. So I figured I’d blog about them, because the food really was good and the people running the place seemed so nice, and I’d hate to see the place go under for lack of people knowing about them1.The restaurant is located at 1355 Hornby Street, so if you are downtown and looking for Indian food, you might want to check them out.

  1. Not that my blog has tonnes of readers, but every little bit helps, right? I also wrote reviews on Yelp and Zomato – those will probably be more helpful! []


I went for a float and it wasn’t of the root beer variety

I-sopod Flotation Tank.jpg

This isn’t the tank that I floated in, but I forgot to take a photo of it when I was there, so I got this picture from Wikipedia to give you the general idea.

My friend Alicia took me for a float for my birthday. For the uninitiated, a float (a.k.a., floatation therapy or sensory deprivation tank) is where you get into a big tank with water that has about 1000 lbs of Epsom salt in it so that you can lie in and, as the name suggests, float. You wear earplugs and you close the lid of the tank so that it’s pitch black. The water and the air are skin temperature, so the idea is that you don’t feel anything. And you just float there – ideally clearing your mind of any thoughts – for 90 minutes. It’s supposed to help you relax and is supposed to be good for stress relief, reducing muscle tension, and all sorts of other things1.

My experience

When we got to the float place, they had me watch a little video on what you need to do. You have to take a shower to make sure you won’t get anything icky in the tank (like hair gel or makeup), then you put in the earplugs, and make sure your face is completely dry. You have to be careful not to get any of the tank water in your eyes because there’s 1000 lbs of Epsom salt in there and omg, that would sting like hell. Then you get in the tank, close the lid, and float! They suggested that you could try different postures – like arms down at your sides, arms up above your head – and that while you didn’t have to worry about your head sinking because of all that Epsom salt in the water, there was a pool noodle that you could put under your neck if it made you feel more comfortable.

When I first stepped in the tank, and before I closed the lid, the thought that sprung into my mind was “This would be a perfect setting for a death in the next Final Destination movie!” But then I thought that visions of the tank rapidly filling up while I panickedly scratched at the door which would inexplicably not open – all with my eyes stinging like a mofo – wouldn’t really lend itself to relaxation, so I dropped the thought.

The actual floating experience was quite interesting. It felt like I was floating in zero gravity (or what I imagine that would feel like, since I’ve never actually floated in zero gravity) and at one point when I tried putting my hands under my head, it actually felt like I was tumbling head over heels2!

Somehow, the time in the tank felt both long and short. My mind was flipping around from thinking about one random thing to another, so I tried using my mindfulness training, which seemed like a logical thing to do on such an occasion. I found that focusing on my breathing was the most effective way to help me clear my mind of thoughts. In the end, I think I fell asleep, as I remember thinking about something and then the next thing I knew it felt like time had passed and I was hearing the music that they play to inform you that your time is up.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. I mean, I won’t be getting a membership and going on a regular basis or anything – I think I get better meditation through running and massage is still my preferred method of working out muscle tension – but I’d probably go back for another float again.

Image Credit:

I-sopod Flotation Tank” by FloatguruOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.


  1. According to the Wikipedia page – the neutrality of which is disputed because it totally sounds like someone who runs a float tank shop wrote it – research has shown that it also helps improve creativity and performance in a variety of sports. []
  2. Even though I knew I wasn’t because (a) physics, and (b) my face would have gotten wet and I could feel that it wasn’t! []


Where Should I Keep My Compass Card?

Compass CardTranslink is in the process of introducing the Compass Card, which is a new fare card system for riding transit in the Greater Vancouver area. In the past, we’ve used a paper-based honour system – you either had a paper monthly pass or paper tickets (that you validated at a machine) and then just walked onto the bus/Skytrain/Seabus – on the bus you either showed your monthly pass to the driver or stuck your single use ticket into a machine to verify that it was good for that day & time – and on Skytrain you just walked on, though there was sometimes Translink staff checking fares either on the train or in the fare paid zone of the station (I rarely taketheSeabus, so I don’t remember if they checked your fare when you got on or if it was an honour system like Skytrain).

Now we have the Compass Card, which requires you to tap your card on a reader on the way in and out of a Skytrain or Seabus station, or just tap in on the bus. The reason for tapping in and out is that there are different fare zones, so they need to know if you traveled in one, two, or three zones to know how much to charge you. If you forget to tap out, they will charge you for the full 3 zones, so it’s really important to remember to tap out. At the moment, we are in a transition period where you can use either the Compass Card or the old paper passes/tickets, so they haven’t closed all the fare gates (as the paper users don’t have any way to getTransLink Compass Card Gate the fare gates to open), so it’s actually easy to just walk through the fare gates and forget to tap out. The buses only require a tap in because it turns out that the system – which cost way more and took way longer to get implemented than they had planned – is too damn slow so if they required everyone to tap out, it would slow the buses down so much that they’d never be able to maintain a reasonable schedule, so they had to make it that buses only charge a 1 zone fare, regardless of how many zones you actually traveled through.

I got my Compass Card on Oct 16 – just a bit before they were released widely to the public – because Kalev told me that you could get one early if you went to a machine at Waterfront Station that is close to the West Coast Express. WCE users were one of the groups that got earlier access to Compass Cards as part of the phased roll out of Compass. I figured I’d get mine there so as to avoid being caught in a lineup once they were released at all the other machine.

One of the nice things about the Compass Card is that you can register it online so that you can (a) get any money stored on your card back if you lose the card, (b) pay foryour monthly pass online (so you don’t have to stand in that giant line up at Safeway (or other fare dealer) at the end of the month), and (c) set up an auto re-load of money on the card if you are just paying per trip, so you never need to buy a ticket – you just always have money on your card!

Compass Card Point (Bus)I’ve been using my Compass Card for two months now and while it’s more of a hassle than having a paper monthly pass, which only required me to buy a pass at the start of the month and then leave it in my wallet and just walk on and off the Skytrain at my leisure, it’s more convenient than having to validate a single use paper ticket every time I went on Skytrain, especially at New West station, where the ticket validating machines are located in such a way that I had to go out of my way to validate them and then double back to go the train. And given that a monthly pass is only worth buying if I’m transiting to work on the vast majorityweekdays – and between September and November I wasn’t, as I drove to work on Wednesdays due to having to go up to Burnaby Mountain to teach at SFU (and transiting up there and home afterwards would take eleventy thousand hours) – I’ve actually preferred having the Compass card asI don’t have to go out of my way to validate those paper tickets for each trip.

However, one challenge I have is where I should keep my Compass card. When not in transit, I keep it in my wallet. But while transiting, I need to take it out to tap it on the card reader and it doesn’t seem worth putting it back in my wallet each time, as my daily commute involves four (4!!) taps – I have to tap into the Expo Line at New West, out of Expo Line at Waterfront, into Canada Line at Waterfront, and then out of Canada Line at Broadway-City Hall. On Skytrain, I’m usually reading stuff on my phone or my eReader, so I generally just hold onto my card with my device, but it seems like I’m going to drop the damn thing one of these days. And once I’m done all the transiting, I end up holding it until I get to my office, as it’s a big rush of people and I don’t want to stop in the middle of all that to put my card into my wallet. I should probably get a case for my phone that has an easily accessible pocket for my card. But I’m curious as to what other people do with their Compass (or similar type transit fare card in other cities). What do you do with yours, dear readers?

Update: I can’t believe I forgot to mention this! When you register your Compass Card online, they ask you to name it. Mine is named “Trillian” (cf. Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car).

Image Credits:

Compass card photo is my own photo.

Fare gates photo posted by Go To Van on Flickr with a Creative Commons licence.

Card reader on bus photo posted by Ian Alexander Martin on Flickr with a Creative Commons licence.


I came here to kick ass and eat donuts – the Inaugural PNE Donut Dash 5k race

PNE Donut DashExcept that I didn’t really go to the race to kickass. Because I was really there for donuts. And cotton candy. And a race medal with an adorable running donut on it.

This morning my friend Julie1, her friend Jen, and I participated in the first ever PNE2 5km Donut Dash. The premise of the race is that you run through the PNE fairgrounds before the park opens and you will “be reenergized with tasty Fair treats throughout the course, including mini donuts, cotton candy and more!” (source). Having now done the race, I would like to contest both the phrases “throughout the course” and “and more!”

Before the race, I wasn’t too sure about the idea of eating a donut in the middle of a run – I find it hard enough to stomach my electrolyte/fuel gummies on a run, let alone having a pile of deep-fried dough in my belly, so I probably shouldn’t complain that there wasn’t a tonne of treats on the race course. Actually, if anything, what they really needed more of was water stations on the route – given that we are in the midst of a summer-long heat wave here in Vancouver, a single water station on a 5 km route was definitely not sufficient. I thought I was maybe going overboard bringing my water bottle belt on a mere 5 km run, but in retrospect I was quite glad I did!

PNE Donut DashThe race started on a track at Empire Field, but you quickly veered off that and onto a pathway, and then it was off through the park. I was originally hemming and hawing about whether I was going to run by myself at a fast pace or run with my friends who were planning on a slower pace with some walk breaks. In the end, I choose the latter and I was glad I did because not only is it nice to hang out with friends, but there were apparently 1300 runners in the race and the pathway was quite narrow for the entire route, so I think if I’d tried to run at a faster pace, I’d have been frustrated the entire time being stuck behind slower runners and walkers.

PNE Donut Dash

It was kind of fun running through the park – I haven’t been to the PNE in ages, so it was neat to see the different booths and rides and games and dinosaurs. Because there are dinosaurs there apparently. There were also bunch of kids dressed up as pirates and mermaids and some sort of showgirl-type thing but with hot pink Converse hightops, all of whom were ready and willing to high-five the passing runners. Somewhere around the middle of the race we finally reached our first treat station – cotton candy! There were people handing it out in plastic bags (see the photo) – I insisted on getting the blue cotton candy, which for some reason seemed much more rare than the pink. Then we didn’t see another treat station until the 4.4 km mark3, where we finally reached the mini-donuts, which were also being handed out in little bags4. And from there it was just over a 1/2 km that we had to carry our haul to the finish line, because seriously, who can eat a donut and also run?

When we came to the finish line, I decided to go for a little “sprint”5. I passed a little boy who was maybe 6 or 7, who then decided he was going to race me! So he and I ran for the finish line and he actually veered at me to try to cut me off! Fortunately, despite being short, I still have significantly longer legs than a 6 or 7 year old and managed to get aside to avoid being run into but it only took a couple of strides to catch up and run alongside so that we ran across the finish line at the same time6.

At the finish line, they were giving out the medals and all of the people holding medals at the start of the line had medals with red ribbons, but I could see the guy at the back had blue ribbons. So, because I do always like to be different, I bypassed all the medal giver-outers at the front and went to the last guy in line and asked for a blue one. I said “Does the blue ribbon mean anything?” and he just shook his head, and handed it to me. Then he ran off because he noticed the little boy who I’d crossed the finish line with had walked right past all the medal giver-outers without getting a medal. So the little boy also got a blue ribbon.

PNE Donut DashAfter the finish line, they had fancy mini-donuts – dipped in chocolate with sprinkles on them – that they were handing out one of to each runner. Sadly, they were a bit on the dry side and we honestly wondered if they were just day olds that they dressed up! The sugar-covered mini-donuts that we were given along the race route were much better. Happily, the cotton candy was delicious! I’m sure it was because I insisted on getting the blue kind.

All in all, it was a pretty fun time and I have now earned 3 medals towards my goal of earning 5 medals this year. Next up: Montreal half marathon – more than 4x the distance of today’s run and significantly fewer donuts expected… though I do plan to indulge in some poutine, a Montreal smoked meat sandwich, and some glorious, glorious spruce beer while I’m in Quebec – just not during the race!

  1. You may recall Julie from the zombie obstacle course race and the Longest Game for CF. Clearly, our friendship is based on doing awesome sporty things together! []
  2. That’s the Pacific National Exhibition for my non-BC readers. For my Ontarian readers, it’s like the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition), except more Pacific. I was about to say “except we understand there is more to Canada than just our city *cough* Toronto *cough*”, but then I realized that it has the word “national” in it, so maybe we are saying we are the whole country expect not because it’s just the Pacific part? Or that Toronto is being redundant because it’s says “Canadian” and “national”? Anyway, my heads hurts now, so suffice it to say that the PNE is like the CNE – a big fair with all sorts of exhibits and games and food and whatnot and this footnote is way longer now than a footnote should be. I think I’m still on a sugar rush for the donuts and cotton candy that I had for breakfast. []
  3. hence my comment that it wasn’t really mini-donuts “throughout” the race course. []
  4. And that was it for treat stations, hence my contesting the phrase “and more!” []
  5. I say “sprint” in quotation marks, as it wasn’t *that* fast, but it was faster than we had been going. []
  6. I was going to let him win, but after he tried to knock me off course, I changed my mind! []


My Latest Fitness Assessment: Fitter, but More Wimpy

Last week I went back to the Peak Centre for Performance to do another running fitness assessment, as it was time to check in on the effects of my new training plan. Unlike my previous test, I didn’t need to measure my VO2max, so I didn’t have to wear the snorkel and breath through the tube. Which I thought meant that I’d be able to run a little bit more at the hardest level, as the last time I found it really difficult to gasp for breath through that snorkel. Boy was I wrong!

As you may recall from last time, I mentioned that people usually keep running to a blood lactate level of 8-10 mmol/L, whereas I gave up at 7.2 mmol/L, which means I am wimpier than average. This time, however, I gave up at a pathetic  5.69! Daniel’s interpretation of this is kinder than mine – he thinks that because I knew that I was running at a faster speed than I maxed out on my previous assessment, I gave up on the test too early, thinking that I couldn’t do any more than, rather than actually having quite because I was too wimpy to take anymore. There might be some truth to that – perhaps next time I should try to ignore what speed I’m running at during the test and focus just on how my body feels. Or maybe I should run until I literally fall off the treadmill!

At any rate, the positive news from this assessment is that my zone 1 training has paid off big time, as I’ve significantly shifted my lactate curve. Here’s the graph of my second assessment.

2015-08-06 Fitness Assessment Results

Then I plotted the data from both assessments on the same graph so that we can compare them:

2015-08-06 Running Assessment compared to first assessment

On this graph, the blue and green lines represent my heart rate results from assessment #1 and assessment #2, respectively, across the different speeds (with speed on the x-axis). As you can see, the heart rate results are virtually identical. The red line represents my blood lactate levels across the different speeds for assessment #1 and the purple line represents my blood lactate levels across the different speeds for assessment #2. As you can see, my blood lactate is lower at each speed throughout the assessment, which is exactly what zone 1 training is meant to do. In zone 1 training, you run at a relatively low level of exertion , a level that would allow you to run all day long. This trains your body to be able to run at faster speeds without producing as much lactate, which means you can run faster for a longer period of time.

On the down side, while I was diligent with my zone 1 training and significantly improved my aerobic threshold, I was a delinquent when it came to my intensity workouts and it showed in the results of my training. This next graphic shows my lactate and aerobic thresholds compare to the limits for these thresholds:

2015-08-06 Fitness Assessment Results - LimitsWhat this graphic shows is that my aerobic threshold occurs at 81% of my speed at VO2max and my lactate threshold occurs at 94% of my speed at VO2max – and I’m basically at the limits. This means that if I continue to just do zone 1 training, I won’t continue to see improvements, because you can’t push your aerobic threshold higher than 80-85% of your max. The only way to improve from here is to increase my max speed, which means that I have to do my intensity workouts. Normally, this would mean doing zone 5 workouts – essentially, running for as fast as you can around a lap of the track, giving yourself a rest, and then repeating that until you can no longer maintain that max speed. But given that my next half marathon is only just over a month away – and I’ll need to taper for the last couple of weeks leading up to it – Lewis suggested that until my race, I should do a zone 3 workout once per week (basically, running at my zone 3 pace, which is where my muscles start to build up lactate, for as long as I can (working my way up to 30 minutes over the next few weeks if possible) in order that I build up my tolerance for lactate (i.e., suck it up buttercup!). I’m also adding some “race pace” to end of my long runs – which I really should have been doing a while ago, but I was discouraged by the fact that my target race pace was in my zone 3 range of my previous assessment and so I just kind of ignored that I was supposed to be doing it at the end of my long runs!

So – will I reach my sub-2 hr half marathon goal in Montreal? Who knows. I might have a spectacular race day and pull it off. I might have screwed myself over by not training to build my max speed and build up my lactate tolerance up until now and now I don’t have enough time to fix it. Only time will tell. But as with my last half marathon, I’m setting a series of staged goals – so even if I don’t make my sub-2 hr goal, I’ll still have some backups to aim for:

  1. a sub-2 hour half marathon
  2. finish my first ever half marathon where I run straight through, with no 10 and 1s – I’ve done 12 half marathons and for all 12 of them I’ve done 10 and 1s (run for 10 minutes, walk for 1 minute, and repeat). This training is the first time I’ve been training on this new system where I run in zone 1, so I don’t need those 1 minute walk breaks. Each week when I do a long run I think “That’s the longest I’ve ever run straight through without walk breaks!” So doing that for an entire 21.1 km will be an accomplishment!
  3. finish – Finishing a half marathon is always worth being proud of.

So, there you have it – I’ve scienced up my running and am now motivated to go out and do my zone 3 runs from now until race day! Wish me luck!


Paint Nite – Take 1

A little while ago I got the idea that it would be fun to get some friends together to do a Paint Nite. For the uninitiated, Paint Nite1 is where you go to a restaurant and they have all the supplies you need to do a painting – a canvas, paint, brushes, smocks – and an artist who gives you instructions on how to paint a particular picture. I emailed around to a bunch of friends to see who was interested, but given that people need to align on available dates, locations they can get to, and taste in art (since everyone is painting the same picture), I didn’t manage to get a group together. I did, however, find a date/place/painting that worked for both me and Cath (this past Monday) and another date/place/painting that worked for me and Amy (late August). And so it was that on Monday after work, Cath and I found ourselves at Nuba2 in Kitsilano wearing smocks and ready to paint!

To set the stage, this is the painting that we were trying to imitate:

Paint Nite

Now, I should point out that the disclaimer on the Paint Nite website notes:

Paint Nite makes no representations or warranties about the quality of your painting or individual experience. Every painting will be unique, and the expectation that your painting will be a facsimile of the painting depicted on the Website is patently absurd. (emphasis mine)

I can only imagine the situation that lead to a frustrated legal writer penning this statement!

At any rate, we were told that the instructor would show us how to paint this painting, but we were free to change things up as we liked.

I feel like things were going OK for me as I painted the sky and the mountain – I decided I wanted to go with a darker sky and a blacker mountain than the original – and even the land on which the trees would sit. I didn’t love my trees at first – the instructor wasn’t giving very clear instructions at that point… he was mostly just saying “Do this with your brush” but not explaining what “this” was.  And then when it came time to paint the water, things went totally off the rails. I had *no idea* what he was talking about and he seemed to be doing it all very fast, so I need up getting, well, this:

Paint Nite

Then things went from bad to worse, as we were supposed to be painting some yellow (i.e., moonlight) on the water, but mine turned out way too yellow:

Paint Nite

Yes, I realize that this looks like I have more of a wavy stream of urine than some moonlit water on the bottom of the painting!

I know that one evening does not a painter make and so I’m not just making excuses here, but I would like to reiterate that the instructor could have been a little bit more effective than he was. I would have appreciated some more specifics and, quite honestly, fewer cliché sentences like “Just feel the tree emerge from the brush”. Also, I know that this is supposed to be a “fun” and “nonjudgemental” good time, but I also could have done without comments like “These all look amazing! You are all doing such a great job!” because that, to borrow a phrase, was patently absurd. My painting is not, by any measure, amazing, and it wasn’t by any stretch the worst painting there. I’m not saying the instructor should tell us that our paintings look terrible or anything, but he just came across as completely insincere by doing that.

Anyway, I don’t think we did half bad for two people who haven’t picked up a paint brush in decades and, as Cath pointed out, we each reconfirmed that we made a good career choice in becoming a scientist.

Paint Nite

Cath and her masterpiece

Paint Nite

Me and my masterpiece

And, most importantly, we had a blast! I’m looking forward, to Paint Nite 2, The Repaintening. I’m hopefully that the instructor is a little better at the next one, though I think I’ll check out some YouTube videos on how to paint before then just in case!

  1. As per usual with blog postings where I talk about companies, I have no affiliation with Paint Nite. I paid for the event like everyone else, so I’m not receiving bribes to blog about it! []
  2. I also have no affiliation with Nuba. I wish they would give me bribes – their food is delicious! – but alas, I paid for my own drinks and dinner there. []


Vancouver: The Big Smoke

So yesterday I got up to go for my run, figuring I’d make it a morning run while it was still relatively cool, given that the forecast was calling for yet another 30+ degree day. When I looked outside I saw what I thought was a foreboding storm cloud – angry and grey – and thought “That’s strange, it isn’t supposed to rain today. It’s supposed to be sunny. I wouldn’t mind a bit of rain on my run, but that cloud looks like it would cause a torrential downpour!” And then I headed off to Burnaby Lake, as I needed to run a 10 km and the route around the lake is just that distance. And in Burnaby it was clearer, though I noted that it seemed rather humid. Or, as it turns out, it seemed like it was humid because the air was thick with smoke from about eleventy billion forest fires raging around the province!

It’s weird that Burnaby was clearer than New West, as the closet fire was atop Burnaby Mountain:

But the smoke covering the Lower Mainland isn’t just from that (relatively small) forest fire. There have been fires all over the Interior, in Pemberton, and on the Island. At the time I’m writing this blog posting, the most up-to-date stats ((That link will take you to the current stats, so unless you read this right when I post it, there will be different stats on there. I couldn’t figure out where to get a permalink to today’s stats!)), which cover from April 1 to July 5, 2015, state that there have been 865 fires with a total of 221,455 hectares burnt. There are currently 103 “fires of note and/or fires larger than 10 hectares1.

After my run, I headed out to Ladner and as the day progressed, it just got smokier and smokier. I’ve never seen anything like it! Apparently people were even finding ash on their cars!

Now, if you haven’t been in the Lower Mainland in the past two days, you might think I’m exaggerating, so here’s a side-by-side photo comparison of what Vancouver usually looks like and what it looked like yesterday:

Forest fires suck  :(

The sun looks like this these days:

Sun Rise over smoky Vancouver City

And here’s a photo of the smoke invading the city:

wildfires smoke invading Vancouver, 08:21 on July 5th, 2015

It’s quite surreal have your city covered in smoke2. I’m getting away pretty easy, health-wise, as it’s really just irritating my eyes when I’m outside or if I have my windows opened (which I need to do because it’s so hot!), but for anyone with lung issues, this can be really dangerous. And the forecast doesn’t call for any rain in Vancouver until next Monday3!

Image Credits:


  1. Ibid. []
  2. And I can’t even imagine what it’s like for the people who live near these fires and the people who are fighting these fires. []
  3. And forecasters are notoriously bad at predicting our weather that far in advance, so who knows! []


Half Marathon #12 – Crushed It!


Me, pre-race.

I’m am *so* glad that I set a three-tiered goal for my BMO Vancouver half marathon because I am genuinely proud of my personal best finish of 2:02:24 (goal 2), despite not quite getting to a sub-2 hr finish (goal 1). In fact, when I thought about it after the race, I realized that I’m much happier with a 2:02 than I would have been with a 2:01 or 2:00:301. 2:02 is far enough away that I can’t kick myself for, say, slowing at too many water stations, but quick enough that I’m legit proud of it.

I started off the race quite strong (the 3 km downhill *really* helped) and was well faster than the pace I needed for a 2 hr finish, which gave me confidence that I would at least a have a shot at it. My strategy was to listen to my body and try to find a balance between pushing myself to do my best but not so hard that I would completely run out of gas or, worse, get injured. I started a mantra of “Run *your* race”, which I repeated to myself whenever I started to feel tired or sore or had to run up a hill or I got distracted by other people passing me. It worked surprisingly well to keep me balanced and keeping my legs pumping. I also would use it as a reminder to pay attention to my running form – stand tall and relaxed, hips over feet, arms pumping.;

I was on pace for the first half, reaching the halfway point at 59:07. But, though I’m in the best shape of my life, it wasn’t quite enough to keep up that pace for another 10.5 km. I started to slow. Muscles started to hurt. First it was a tight right calf. After I managed to loosen that up, it was a tight right glut that made my right knee angry. Then my right calf was all “heeey, don’t forget about meeeee!” Then there was a right shoulder thing, just to keep me in my toes because I’ve had a sore left neck for a few days, so wasn’t expecting right shoulder pain. But every time these things reared their ugly heads, I said “shut up body!” And then I’d refocus on form and say to myself “Run *your* race, Beth. Run your race.”


Personal best.

As I got closer to the end of the race, I realized that I was slowing at a rate that was not going to allow me to finish in 2 hours. On my last walk break (I do 10 and 1s2 ), I saw that I was at 1 hr 50 mins and I had 2 km to go and I knew I was not capable of a 5 min/km pace, but then I though about my three-tiered goal, because I was able to say to myself “You knew that 2 hours was going to be a stretch – if I were sure that I could do 2 hours, it wouldn’t be a good enough challenge for my top goal. But I am going to make my personal best, as long as I continue to stay focused on giving this my all. And so why don’t I focus on making the best possible personal best that I can make right now.”

As I crossed the finish line, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. I was glad I could stop running, because I was tired and hurting. I was happy with a personal best, but then as I took my medal from the volunteer, I nearly came to tears because I was sad and disappointed and mad at myself for not breaking two hours. But then I remembered that a personal best is a totally legit goal and this is the best I’d ever done. I gave it my all and that is worth being proud of.

After the race, I did some stretching, ate some post-race food, talked to some friends who I ran into after they finished the race, enjoyed a well-earned cappuccino, and then went to the finish line to watch Daniel finish his full marathon with a personal best 3:18.


Another medal for the collection!

After a couple of weeks of recovery, I’m going to do a fitness assessment3, which will help me to construct a training plan to go after that elusive sub-2 hour half marathon finish time. I have you in my sights, sub-2 hours, and I’m coming after you in Montreal in September!

  1. Or, heaven forbid, a 2:00:01, which one of my colleagues did last year! []
  2. i.e., 10 min run, 1 min walk, and repeat for 21.1 km. []
  3. VO2max and blood lactate. []


Watch me run!

Speaking of my upcoming half marathon, if you would like to follow along with my race on Sunday, you can do so through the magic of the internets!

Just go to: and enter my name.

There are four timing points that should show up in the “results” section of that page as I cross each of the timing mats: Start Line, 5.5km, 10.5km, Finish Line. The half marathon starts at 7 am Pacific Daylight Time, but since I’m in the third corral1, I won’t cross the start line until all the runners from the first (white & yellow) and second (blue) corrals go through.

I thought there was going to be a live video feed of the finish line, like they had at the Victoria marathon, but searching through the race website, I don’t see any mention of that, so you’ll just have to make do with seeing my results!

Or you can always come out and watch the race live. Here’s the route:

2015 BMO Vancouver Half Marathon route

Note the elevation map at the bottom: hooray for that nice long downhill at the start!

  1. The third corral in this particular race is called the “pink” corral. I’m not sure why it’s the “pink” corral, but I guess it at least matches my hideous, hideous running shoes. []