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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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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Half Marathon #5 – COMPLETE!!

So, remember how I was aiming for 2 hr 15 mins half marathon?  I finished today’s half marathon in 2:07:23!!

My previous best time was 2:19:03, which means I managed to shave off 12 minutes and 20 seconds from my best time (and 16 minutes and 30 seconds off the time of the half marathon I ran just three months ago). A-mazing!  And it was a most enjoyable run too – I was in the zone for much of the run and while I was vaguely aware of the fact that my body was getting tired, I was in such a positive mood and knew that I could keep up the extra fast pace I was running, even though my body was telling me otherwise. I usually run my long runs around a 6:30-7:00 mins per km, and I ran this race at a 6:03 mins per km pace, so by the time I got about 12 km, my body was saying “I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up!” and my brain said, “Shut up, body! No one asked you! We can do this!!”  When I hit the 1/2 way mark, I checked my watch and I’d only been running for 1 hr and 2 minutes, and I was totally shocked! I mean, I was aiming for a 2:15 finish and here I was on pace for a 2:04! I knew I was pushing it and there was a stretch near the end where you were running by the water and there was a very strong headwind that was tough, but I kept telling myself, “I know you can do this!!” When I’ve run half marathons in the past, where I’ve not been trying to achieve a certain time, I’ve always had some fuel left in the tank and managed to speed up for the last 1-2 km. This time, it took everything I had to keep up the pace I was running, until I was a few hundred metres from the finish line, and once I saw that word “FINISH” in big white letters, I dug down and found the energy to make a final sprint to the end!  And it felt sooo good!  Also really good, the chocolate milk that we grabbed at the food tent. Best. Chocolate Milk. Ever!

Post race!

Alicia and I after the Victoria Half Marathon! We are teh awesome!

Special props to my running buddy, Alicia! She also ran a personal best today, obliterating her previous record as well.  She’s the one who suggested we challenge ourselves with a goal this time and she inspired me to push to my limit! This is her second half marathon since her baby was born and her baby is only eight months old! You rock, Alicia!

Thanks also to Simmi & Rummi, who drove us from the ferry to Victoria, put us up at their house last night, and then drove us to the race this morning! You guys are awesome!  Also, props to my parents, my sister, and Kalev who all watched the live stream of the race hoping to see me cross the finish line. I’m sorry that they kept moving the camera so that all your watching was for naught! But it’s the thought that counts and I very much appreciate it!

And thanks to Danielle, who came out to cheer us on, picked us up after the race, let us use her shower, drove us to the ferry, joined us for the ferry ride and with whom I then spent an enjoyable afternoon hanging out in the sunshine at the ferry terminal until she headed back on the ferry with another friend who was doing some holiday weekend traveling. You are an amazing friend, Dani!

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The Grouse Grind – A New Personal Best!

Day 72

Yesterday, I did my first Grouse Grind of the season!1

I was supposed to do it with my friend Lianna, but some work came up for her and she couldn’t make it. And since when has a little thing like that gotten in my way? As I was all mentally prepared to Grind, I decided to do it by myself2. I’ve never done the Grind on my own before – I usually drag unsuspecting tourists with me, which means I take a nice leisurely pace, chatting the whole way and, since chatting takes up a surprising amount of energy, I usually clock in somewhere in the 1.5-1.75 hour range.  My previous personal best time was 1 hr 18 mins – and that time I was hiking with a season’s pass holder who I tried to keep up with and couldn’t, so I said, “go on without me! I’ll meet you at the top.”

So I decided to just start hiking while listening to my running playlist on my iPhone and see how fast I ended up going.  And a weird thing happened – I actually *liked* the hike.  I mean, I usually enjoy the company I’m with, but I go through the following stages of love/hate:

  1. First 2 minutes: “Yay! We are doing the Grind!”
  2. From 2 minute mark until 1/4 way: “zomg, this takes forever!”
  3. From 1/4 mark to 3/4 mark: “WTF am I doing this for? This is the stupidest idea ever!”
  4. From 3/4 mark to top: “I think I can, I think I can”
  5. At the top: “Hooray! We did it! We are the bestest ever! I love the Grind!”

But today was different – at no point did I hate the hike.  I felt good the whole way up!  Man, I don’t know what’s happening to me – first I’ve started enjoying my hill runs and now I like the Grind?  Who *am* I?

Some random interesting stuff about yesterday’s hike:

  • Just last week, a new record was set for the Grind – 23 minutes 48 seconds.  For me, that’s about how long it took me to get to the 1/4 way mark3!
  • Along the way, I passed a woman who was carrying her 15 lb, six-month-old baby on her back. She said she’d been doing the Grind regularly carrying her baby in a Baby Björn, but this was her first hike with her in a backpack carrier, as she’s just too big for the Björn now. I have enough trouble finishing the hike as is – I have *no idea* how anyone carries 15 lbs with them!
  • I also passed a man who looked like he was about 90 years old. His calves were covered in dark purple (almost black, they were so dark) veins and he was walking about as slow as one could walk without being stopped. But he was doing it. I was in awe!
  • Lest you think I passed everyone on the mountain, there were many hikers who passed me!  Some of them had calves so chiseled you had to wonder if they were made out of mountain!

In the end, I managed a personal best time!  My time was….

…. drumroll please….

1 hr 13 mins!

I have to say, I was pretty pleased with myself.  It’s no 23 minutes, but I think it’s a pretty respectable time4.

  1. Yes, I know it’s September. Your point? []
  2. now *that* sounds dirrrrty! []
  3. it was actually 23 mins 15 seconds for me at the 1/4 mark []
  4. Sure some guys came up shortly after me going “40 mins. Not bad for an out-of-shape guy like me.”  But I didn’t let them rain on my parade! []