Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Half Marathon #12 – Crushed It!

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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.”

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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.

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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. []

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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: http://www.sportstats.ca/display-results.xhtml?raceid=25175 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. []

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Rock’n’Roll 10 km – PB Accomplished!

As you may recall, I’m addicted to race medals. Sure, I love to run because it’s great exercise (good for your health both in terms of fitness and as a stress reliever), it’s a way to challenge yourself, and races provide a great sense of community, fun, and accomplishment. But really, I’m in it for the medals. Well, on Sunday not only did I add an awesome new medal to my collection, but also Daniel surprised me with this awesome medal hanging rack that he made for me:

Rack to hold all my race bling!

You know you are jealous.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Sunday morning, bright and early, we found ourselves running the 10 km race at the Oasis Rock’n’Roll at Stanley Park. My primary objective was, as previously mentioned, to obtain the beautiful race medal. But I was also on a mission to set a personal best (PB), as I’d come within 17 seconds of doing so at the recent Night Race. To remind you, my previous personal best was 58:48 and I decided that my goal would be 58 mins1. I’d been somewhat diligent about keeping up my running since the Night Race, including a few longer runs (12-16 km range) and had been improving my time on my shorter runs. The week before the race I ended up not doing any running, which was a combination of being too busy at work to fit in lunchtime runs, experiencing some back stiffness/groin strain that I figured I (a) shouldn’t exacerbate and (b) should spend my limited spare time working on stretching, and thinking that maybe there really is something to the idea of tapering before a race2.

Well, all of this paid off, as I totally smashed my goal, finishing the 10 km in 56:16!

This put me:

  • 40th out of 307 people in my age/gender category (or 87th percentile).
  • 240th out of 2056 women in the race (or 88th percentile)
  • 511th overall out of 2808 (or 82nd percentile).

And here is my beautiful medal to commemorate this feat:

Rock'n'Roll 10 km medal
So shiny!

After the race came the second best thing, next to medals, about racing: post-race brunch! And after the delicious brunch and much needed coffee3 at Scoozis, the lovely staff there gave us a free dessert because they saw our medals and knew we ran a race!

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Medals, the reward that keeps on giving. Giving us free dessert in this case.

And then after the race, Daniel gave me the medal hanging rack that, did I mention?, he made himself! I’m so spoiled!

Post race

Thanks, Daniel, for pacing me and yet again helping me reach my goal *and* then making me a present! So spoiled!

  1. As my PB was 7 years and ~15 lbs ago []
  2. And, the horrible rainy weather last week may have also contributed somewhat to my decisions that maybe I should taper. []
  3. I never drink coffee before a race because it makes me need to pee, which is not something you want on a race. But I’m addicted to caffeine, so by the time the race is over, I really need a coffee! []

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Night Race 2014!

Friday night was the Night Race – a 10 km run in the dark around Stanley Park where all the runners wear head lamps. Or should I say a nearly *11 km* race that they tricked us into believing was a 10 km race!

When I run races, I usually don’t pay too much attention to the route – I take a quick look at the map to figure out where the start line is and to get a basic sense of where I have to go, but beyond that I figure I can just follow the crowd, the kilometer markers, and the volunteers yelling and pointing in the direction of any turns you need to make. If there’s an elevation map, I’ll look at that so I’m forewarned of any major hills. But given that the Night Race was around Stanley Park, I knew the route would be flat and easy to follow.

However, if I’d really been thinking when I looked at the route map:

Night Race 2014 so-called 10 km route

I would have noticed this very important fact: the route didn’t just go around Stanley Park. It started inside the park at the Pavilion and you had to run down to the seawall, all the way around the park, and then back up to the Pavilion. And since the distance around the seawall is 10 km, a route that goes around the seawall plus some other stuff must be >10km! Yet I didn’t put this together, even as the race started and we ran down the path to the seawall. It never occurred to me during the entire time around the seawall. It did not occur to me when I saw the 9 km mark. And it absolutely did not occur to me when the GPS told us we were at 9.8km and started a sprint into the “home stretch”. Which, of course, was not the home stretch – it was just at the point at which we had to turn to go back up the path to the Pavilion. The path that was all UPHILL for nearly an extra 1 km! Which was really difficult to do given the fact that I had just used up the last of my energy and the last of my breath to do that sprint to what I thought was the finish.

And even at that point, my brain wasn’t doing the math to really get that this route was not a mere 10 km1. As I crossed the finish line, I checked my time and saw that I came in at 1:05 and I was very disappointed, because I’d felt like I’d been running fast enough to meet my goal of being under 1 hr. And then it was pointed out to me that we’d run significantly more than 10 km, so I really did break the 1 hr mark!

Night Race 2014

In fact, if you look at my splits:

Night Race 2014 - splits

you can add up the times to run the first 10 km and see that I ran it in 59 mins and 5 seconds – nearly a minute quicker than my goal of 1 hr!

Sadly, there was no acknowledgement by the race that the route was significantly longer than 10 km and they didn’t have a chip sensor at the actual 10 km mark to tell you what your real 10 km time was2. They are only reporting out the time you crossed the finish line, a full 0.85 km longer than 10 km, so the official race results say I finished in 1:05:063. Happily, I was tracking the run so I know the truth!

Much thanks to Daniel who paced me for the race so I could reach my goal, even though it meant running much more slowly than he normally would!

Night Race Vancouver 2014

Look at those awesome headlamps!

Now, as you know, I’m a big nerd and like calculating things. Since the race publishes the results of all the finishers, I was able to do some calcuation-y goodness and found that:

  • I came in 238th out of 673 runners in the race4, or 65th percentile (i.e., top 35%).
  • I came in 95th out of the 437 women in the race, or 78th percentile (i.e., top 22%).
  • I came in 30th out of the 131 women in my age category (30-39 years) in the race, or 77th percentile (i.e., top 23%).

Not too bad if I do say so myself!

Now, as you also know, I’m slightly addicted to race medals, so you may be surprised that I even ran a race where you don’t get a medal5. I did, however, get that headlamp that I mentioned, which is like a medal, only more functional. So I’ve hung it up with my race medal collection!

Collection of race medals

And speaking of medals, I have officially registered for the Rock’n’Roll 10 km race in October, which has one of the most beautiful medals I’ve seen for a race:

vancouver-reveal-885x500

Importantly, I’ve also looked more closely at the route map and it appears that the Rock’n’Roll 10 km is, in fact, a 10 km race:

Rock & Roll 10 km Route 2014

When I was on my spreadsheet to calculate my percentiles, I noticed that the Night Race was my second best time for a 10 km – my personal best is 58:48, which I did in the 2007 Pacific Spirit Run. The math-y among you will notice that this is a mere 17 seconds better than the Night Race – so I’m thinking that setting a new personal best needs to be my goal for the Rock’n’Roll.

  1. In my brain’s defence, it really wasn’t getting any oxygen at that point! []
  2. When I ran the 8 km race at the BMO marathon in May, the route was also slightly longer than the advertised race length, due to the logistics of trying to have an 8km race where the runners join up with the half and full marathon route in the middle of Stanley Park in such a way as to be able to share the finish line. But they had a sensor at the 8 km mark to record you real 8 km time and then another at the finish line. []
  3. I just looked at the race results now to look up my official time and I notice that they are now listing the race as a 10.5 km race. []
  4. When I say “in the race” here, I’m talking only about finishers. It’s possible there were others in the race who didn’t finish, but I don’t have those numbers. []
  5. Well, the top three male and top three female finishers in each of the 5 km and 10 km races got a medal, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen for me! []

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Walk for the Kitties!

Nearly 8 months ago, I adopted my kitties, Watson and Crick, from VOKRA – the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association. VOKRA is a volunteer-run organization that has been rescuing kitties who are abandoned or surrendered – more than 1800 per year! – and finding them safe and loving “forever” homes for 14 years. It takes a lot of money to do this work – they provide vet care for sick kitties, food and litter for kitties living in foster homes while they await adoption, and they had to create a new intake centre because they have so many kitties coming in that they couldn’t keep operating out of the president/co-founder’s basement. Hence, their fundraiser – the 5th Annual Walk for the Kitties – coming up on Sunday. Unfortunately, I can’t do the walk myself, as I’m already double booked that day, but I encourage all kitty lovers to check it out. And even if, like me, you can’t participate, you can always donate!

WatsonCrick in the tub

Watson and Crick thank you for helping kitties just like them to find their own forever homes!

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Theatre Goer

Apparently I’m really into theatre all of the sudden, as last night I saw Red Rock Diner at the Arts Club Granville Island Stage.

Here the trailer:

The show was great – great music performed by an incredibly talented cast. I am always in awe of people who can sing (and boy, could these guys sing), but then to throw in super energetic dancing pretty much non-stop for 2 hours – well, I just have no idea how that is humanly possible.

*spoiler alert* {Don’t read any further if you don’t want to read spoilers!}

To say that this was a play about “five teens coming of age” is a bit of a stretch. The first half was basically a radio show – song after song after song, punctuated by Red Robinson’s crazy radio antics. Then the second half was a high school talent competition hosted by Red Robinson and in which, you guessed it, there was song after song. That is to say, there was pretty much no actual plot, let alone one about anybody coming of age. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it – it was very entertaining and, as I said, the cast was super talented, which was totally worth watching on its own. But perhaps they could do a better job of their description of the play.

There was some added excitement in the second half where they dragged people up on the stage to join them in their dancing. And can you guess who was the very first person they pulled up on stage for some dancing? That’s right – me! And I am nothing if not an attention whore, so I had no problem with it, though the little girl who got dragged up on the stage next looked like she wanted to be anywhere by on that stage. I’m pretty sure that they chose me because I was wearing my fabulous red dress that I bought in London as it’s not the first time that I was chosen by performers to join them on stage for some dancing while wearing that dress. Actually, now that I look at those photos from Ireland, I see that I was also wearing that dress when I got voluntold to be an whiskey tester at the Jameison factory. I think we can conclude that this dress is an attention getter. Because I have three replications. Hooray for science!

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah – the show. It was tonnes of fun and I totally recommend you go there1. Apparently they extended the show, so it’s now running until August 23.

The audience was told that we weren’t allowed to take photos during the show, but in the but that we’d be able to get photos of the show off their website. However, when I went to the Arts Club website to look at them, I found the link to their Flickr account and all of the photos are up as “all rights reserved”, rather than as a Creative Commons license, so I can’t legally use any of them on this posting. Instead you’ll just have to read my words and then you can go look at their photos on Flickr if you like.

  1. As per usual, I have no affiliation with the theatre company – just recommending it because I like it. []

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Half Marathon #11 – A Belated Blog Posting

This post is ridiculously overdue. I wrote most of it on the plane to (or possibly from) San Francisco, and haven’t gotten around to posting it until just now, what with all moving and traveling and unpacking and various other goings on in my life. But better late than never, right?

In amongst the moving and traveling, I also ran my 11th half marathon, which I haven’t had time to blog about yet1, what with all the moving and traveling and running half marathons.

The half marathon in question was the Scotiabank Half Marathon in Vancouver. I’ve run this twice before – once with Alicia (2010) and once with Kim (2011). It’s a really lovely route that starts out a UBC, where you run around the campus for a bit before heading by Jericho Beach, over the Burrard Street Bridge and then finishing up in Stanley Park. The day was also lovely – it was hot, to be sure, but not insanely so, and there was a bit of cloud cover so that you weren’t running in direct sun the whole time.

Scotiabank Half Marathon Route 2014

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon route for 2014. Note the elevation map – specifically, the lovely net downhilledness of this race!

The one thing that wasn’t lovely was that I was sick. For the third time this spring :S I’m pretty sure that I must have picked this cold up when I was in Ontario2. I was coughing up a storm and I’m pretty sure it was sapping my energy – at least, that’s what I’m blaming my slow finish time on. I finished at 2:15:05 – more than 5 minutes longer than the Hollywood Half in April and a reversal of my trend where I’d been improving my time my last few half marathons (remember, this is finishing time, so shorter is better!):

Half Marathon Finish Times as of June 2014

I ran the race with a couple of friends from work. Geoff was running his second half marathon, having done the BMO half in 2013 and Christina was running her first ever half! I had photos that Christina took of us, but I think she must have texted them to me and then I lost them when my phone went insane and I had to restore it to factory when I was in Toronto. Anyway, great job, race buddies!

After the race, we headed back to UBC on the shuttle bus to get Christina’s car and then we went to Trafalgar Bistro, where we had the most delicious brunch in the history of brunch: eggs benny, but instead of being on an English muffin, it was on a potato latke. O. M. G. D. E. L. I. C. I. O. U.S.

After having done two half marathons in two months, immediately following the running study that I was in, I’m feeling like I need to change things up from just running. I think I want to find a triathlon to train for next – if anyone knows of any good ones in the Vancouver area in the fall, hit me up!

  1. Funny that I wrote that when I typed this up on the plane – more than a week ago! []
  2. Damn you, Ontario! []

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BMO 8 km – Another Day, Another Medal

Today marked the first time since before my MBA program started that I *wasn’t* in class during the BMO Vancouver International Marathon. Since I just ran a half marathon less than a month ago, I didn’t think it was wise to run another half marathon so soon, and thus I registered for the 8 km race instead.

photo 4

Also, as you may recall, I discovered that by running the 8km race at BMO, you get a nearly identical medal to the one that the half and full marathoners get1, but you only have to run 8 km! So for running only 38% of the distance of a half or 19% of the distance of a full, I can get practically the same medal. Clearly, it’s a much more efficient choice.

The way the 8 km was set up this year, we started in Stanley Park along the half marathon route such that we ran the last 8 km of the half marathoners’ route. But the actual start line was on a side street that joined up with their route, so our race was actual 8.15 km, as we had 0.15 km along that side street first. The finish line was over by Burrard and Cordova and that’s where the gear check was, so they had shuttle buses to take the 8 km runners from the gear check to the start line. The last shuttle bus was at 8:30 am and our race wasn’t until 9:30 am, so it meant we had to start around for an hour waiting for the race to start. In the pouring rain. Had it been a nice day, I might not have minded, as standing in Stanley Park on a sunny day cheering on the half marathoners as they ran by would be fun. Standing around in the pouring rain and cold was less fun. But eventually our race started and by that time it wasn’t raining that hard any more, so for our race, it was actually just a gentle rain, which is actually quite nice to run in.

My partners in crime for today’s event were two of my coworkers, Geoff and Christina. Here we are before the race – looking surprisingly happy for three cold, wet people!

PH Observatory Race Team - 8 km - before the race

The race itself was pretty good – the route is mostly through Stanley Park, so it’s quite beautiful and once I was running, I totally warmed up. I was pretty happy with my finish time:46:522! It’s my second best time ever for an 8 km race3. Other fun stats:

  • I came in 24th in my age/gender category (out of 168), putting me in the 86th percentile
  • I was the 151st female to finish (out of 1291), putting me in the 88th percentile
  • I was 357th overall (out of 1858), putting me in the 81st percentile overall

Day 301Not too bad if I do say so myself!

Here are my co-workers and I after the race, proudly displaying our hard earned medals!

PH Observatory Race Team - 8 km - after the race!

Good job, Observatory team4! Congrats also to my friends Candace and Julie, who both ran the half marathon this year. Great job!

After the race, Christina, Geoff, and I went to Forage for brunch. I’ve always said that post-race brunch is the greatest thing that you will ever eat in your entire life, and Forage  did not disappoint!

Next stop: Scotiabank half marathon!

  1. The only difference being that it says “8 km” instead of “21.1km” or “42.2km”, but that’s barely noticeable! []
  2. That’s for 8 km. They also recorded your finish time for the full 8.15 km of the race – that was 47:39. I’d signed up so that BMO Marathon could live tweet my result, but it tweeted that I took 48:15, which was not only my 8.15 km time (despite saying that I “completed the BMO 8 km” race, which is misleading enough), but gun time instead of chip time. For the uninitiated, gun time refers to the time from when the starter gun goes off until you cross the finish line. But since I’m never right at the starting line when the gun goes off – I’m further back in the crowd, I don’t actually start running until my part of the crowd gets to the start line, at which point your own personal timing chip registers your start time. In this case, it actually took me 36 seconds before I got to the start line. []
  3. Mind you, this is only the third time I’ve run one. []
  4. I work in an Observatory, but not the kind with a telescope. It’s a long story. []

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How to be a Vancouverite

You’ve probably already seen this, but that last posting about stand up paddleboarding totally reminded me of this video1. If you’ve already seen it (which I’m sure is pretty much everyone), feel free to move along. If not, enjoy:

  1. Which Alicia first introduced to me when we were talking about going stand up paddleboarding for her birthday. []

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Paddleboarding!

So this posting is very, very overdue. Way back in the days of yore – i.e., September – a bunch of us went stand up paddleboarding for Alicia’s birthday1. Our guide was Kathleen from WazSUP Stand Up Paddleboarding and Surf Shop2. She taught us the safety rules and the basics on how to get around and then we set off from Yaletown and paddled all the way to English Bay and back!

Here’s Alicia, starting out first on her knees:

Paddleboarding for Alicia's Birthday 2013

Here’s the group of us starting out:Paddleboarding for Alicia's Birthday 2013

And here we are standing:Paddleboarding for Alicia's Birthday 2013

Once we were all standing, we managed to group together and hold paddles to form a group so we could listen to Kathleen tell us about more advanced stuff, like turning:Paddleboarding for Alicia's Birthday 2013

And off we go:Paddleboarding for Alicia's Birthday 2013

It was very cool being out on the water – the water was calm and it was very peaceful floating along like that. Also, it was an interesting experience to be going along False Creek on the water, as Alicia and I often go running along the paths on either side of False Creek – the Kits side or the downtown side – where we run and look out on the water, but with this we were going along the water and looking out onto the path – quite a different perspective! We also got to see a baby seal… or was it an otter? I can’t remember – this was a long time ago, after all. But I do remember it was a baby and it was barking. So cute!Paddleboarding for Alicia's Birthday 2013

Paddleboarding for Alicia's Birthday 2013The fearless crew of paddleboarders!

Thanks for much to Kathleen from WazSUP for being such an awesome guide and taking us out for such a fun trip!

  1. You might remember Alicia from such adventures as the Fall Classic Half Marathon 2013, the Edge-to-Edge Half Marathon 2013, Victoria half marathon 2010, Scotiabank half marathon 2010, Vancouver BMO Half Marathon 2009, and surfing in Tonfio 2007. []
  2. I only just now as I was writing this post clued in that the “SUP” stands for “stand up paddleboarding.” []