Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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And now we taper

It has been 14 weeks since I started training for the Montreal demi-marathon. BlissThis training has been quite a bit different than my previous training sessions. Differences include:

  • Over those 14 weeks, I’ve run all my runs straight through – no more 10-and-1s for me.
  • I’ve run the majority of my runs in my zone 1 heart rate zone and done a few zone 3 runs – though not nearly as many as I should have. And I’ve done some zone 2 (which is the zone I’ll run my race in) at the end of some of my long runs, but, as with zone 3, not really as much as I should have.
  • I’ve been alternating between two different pairs of running shoes

One thing that has been similar to my previous training session, despite using a different training plan, my weekend long runs have still increased in distance each week, save for a few recovery weeks where the “long” run got shorter. Yesterday, I ran my last really long run of this round of training – 20 km. Which means now the tapering begins!

Tapering is where you decrease the volume of running you are doing to allow your body to recover from the training you’ve done so that you are in tip-top shape on race day. You don’t get to slack off completely – the schedule I’m using calls for a couple of runs this week where you warm up for 10 minutes, run as fast as you can handle for 30 minutes and then cool down for 10 minutes. Next week it goes to 10-20-10. And next weekend my “long” run is 14 km – so less than this week’s 20 km by a fair margin, but still a long run to be sure!

As you can tell by the photo of my foot – yes that is a blister on top of a blister which has a blister inside of it! – my poor feet sure won’t mind running a fewer kilometers for the next two weeks!

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The Florida “Virtual” Half Marathon

As most people who know me are aware, I have a bit of an addiction to race medals. I think it’s the last vestige of my pack rat-ness, which I’ve worked very hard to overcome over the year, combined with liking shiny objects. It allows me to satisfy my pack rat nature of wanting to hold on to physical items, but since I have to work to earn them, I can’t accumulate them too quickly. Also, shiny!

One of my favourite of my race medals is the one I got from the Hollywood Half Marathon – it was, in fact, being told that the Hollywood Half Marathon medal is a big blingy star that inspired me to do that race in the first place1. Apparently the Hollywood Half Marathon had a sister race in Hollywood, Florida, in 2012, but they discontinued it and, I’m guessing, had a bunch of medals leftover that they wanted to unload, so they set up a “virtual” half marathon where if you sent in a link to a running tracking service (like Runkeeper or your Garmin/Polar/Nike GPS watch data) that showed you had run at least 21.1 km (and you paid a nominal fee), they would send you a shiny Hollywood Florida Half Marathon medal. I hemmed and hawed about it for a while, but in the end I couldn’t resist the lure of the shiny object! Plus it got me one medal closer to achieving my 2015 goal of Add 5 new medals to my collection, so really, everybody wins2!

Florida Hollywood Virtal Half Marathon medal

  1. Well that and the fact that it has a flat course! []
  2. Where by “everybody” I mean “me” []

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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!

IMG_0126
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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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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Half Marathon #10 – Milestone Achieved!

I was stunned as I crossed the finish line of the Hollywood half marathon yesterday – I finished in just under 2 hours and 10 minutes! As you may recall, my hope going into the race was to beat 2:17 my time from the Fall Classic – and so I was thinking that I’d be really happy with a 2:15 finish. Though my training started off strong with the running study from Nov to early Feb, my training over the last month left a lot to be desired, thanks to darkness, snain and having the plague, to the point that though I did all the long runs, I really didn’t do much in the way of speedwork or hill training. But it turned out to be fantastic conditions for running, a great race atmosphere, and I guess I hadn’t lost all my training from the running study after all.

My race bib

The race started at 6 am yesterday, so after we arrived in Hollywood on Friday, we took it relatively easy – walked around checking out some sites, had some lunch (at what turned out to be a rather lacklustre pub), walked around some more, noticed that The Book of Mormon was playing at the Pantages Theatre, so we popped in there and were able to score tickets for the Saturday night show, went to the race expo to pick up our race packages and take advantage of the free massages1, walked around some more, went for dinner at the Hard Rock (where our waitress was an aspiring actress from Montreal2 – and so recognized that we were Canadians when she saw Alicia’s CIBC Visa card3!), found our way to Trader Joe’s4 where I got some dark chocolate dipped marshmallows (made in France) and, if you can believe it, maple cookies (made in Canada!)5.

Barry Manilow's star on the walk of fame

Mom, I took this photo for you!

Then we headed back to the hotel to get to bed at a reasonable hour – and we set 4 different alarms just to be sure we’d wake up early enough to have some breakfast and get ready for the race. Fortunately, our hotel was about a 3 minute walk to the start line, so we didn’t need to get extra early for travel time, and we didn’t even have to check any gear. With a 6 am start, we were lined up before sunrise, but I decided to wear running shorts and a T-shirt, as I figured once the sun did come up, I’d be pretty warm given all the running. I was a bit concerned that I might be freezing before the race got going, and though it was only 12 degrees C, it didn’t feel that cold and I was very glad that I didn’t have long sleeves or pants once the race got going, as it was reasonably warm and I was pretty sweaty by the end. The race was packed and we were in corral 8, so it was a nearly 15 minutes after gun time start that we actually reached the start line.

Alicai and I before the race

The quality of our pre-race photo is subpar because the sun hadn’t even risen yet and iPhones don’t take very good photos in low light. But here we are, ready to go!

The race was so packed that the first ~5 km of the race involved a lot of looking for gaps in the crowd and trying to squeeze through them. Pretty soon into the race, my GPS pinged off something far away, so my Runkeeper app thought I had run much further than I had and since I use Runkeeper to tell me my pace, I had no idea how fast I was running – as it was calculating my pace based on the wrong distance. I knew I was running faster than I’m used to – which has been about 7 mins/km for the last several long runs – but was pretty sure I wasn’t doing a 4:23 minute/km that it said I was doing. We did notice that were we well ahead of the 2:15 pace bunny, but I thought that she must have been mistiming her pace, because I didn’t think we were that much faster. I mean, I felt like I was running faster than normal – we were concentrating on running strong and in order to focus our energy on running, we weren’t even talking to each other like we usually do on our training runs and in many of our races, but I didn’t feel like I was on pace for a 2:10! I actually felt great – the sun was out, there were lots of bands playing music along the course, and lots of fans on the road side cheering on the runners, I felt strong and had a big smile on my face. There were a few points where I started to feel like I was slowing down a bit and had to dig a bit deeper to get my speed back up, but then I’d hit a small downhill stretch or band playing a great song and I felt good again. As got to what I think was around the 16 or 17 km mark6, I decided I needed a bit more help, so I turned on my music7 and it totally gave me a burst of energy to keep up the pace for that last 5 km. As I sprinted towards the finish line, I saw that the clock said ~2:24, and I thought, “Yeah, that 2:15 pace bunny (who was still quite a ways behind me), must be wrong,” as I figured it had taken us maybe 10 mins to cross the start line (there was no clock at the start line – or if there was, I didn’t see it). But immediately upon crossing the finish line, I stopped my Runkeeper app (though the distance was wrong on it, I knew the time would be correct) and was flabbergasted to see my time was just under 2:10! My best time ever was a 2:07:23, followed by a 2:10:48, so instead of just my hoped-for slightly-better-than November’s 2:17, I shave SEVEN MINUTES off my time and registered my second best of my 10 half marathons! I’d been starting to think that a 2 hour half was just out of my reach, but now I’m questioning that. I think that if I drop the remaining 8 lbs to get back to my pre-MBA weight8, and did some serious speedwork and hill training, a sub-2 hour half might just be possible for the Scotiabank half marathon in late June!

Hollywood Half Marthon 2014 medal

The really nice thing about a race starting at 6 am is that it gives you the entire rest of the day to do other things. After collecting our beautiful blingy Hollywood star shaped race medals and some delicious, delicious post-race food, we strolled leisurely back to our hotel9, where we showed and got prettied up and then headed out for some sightseeing.

Alicia and I after the race!

I think we look pretty good for having just run a half marathon!

We decided that we wanted to check out the Santa Monica pier, which was about 50 minutes away by bus. That turned out to be a perfect amount of time to rest our legs and see the sights along the way – we went through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and a few other places that I can’t remember at the moment. By the time we got to Santa Monica, we were pretty hungry, so we were delighted to discover that they had way more – and much better – restaurants than were available around our hotel in Hollywood. We decided on a French bistro where we had a cheese board that was to die for and one of the best eggs benny I’ve ever had.

Post race brunch in Santa Monica, CA

Enjoying a well-earned post-half marathon brunch in Santa Monica, CA.

Fully satiated by this, we strolled down to the beach and walked on the warmest, softest sand you can imagine. I think that walking on a warm, soft, sandy beach might be the best thing ever after running a half marathon! After that we checked out the pier, then did a bit of jewelry shopping, and I think it was quite possibly the most perfect, leisurely afternoon in the history of ever. We headed back on the bus and then stopped off at a Target for some of the most efficient shopping ever. Like with Trader Joe’s, this was the first time I’d ever been to a real Target (the Targets in Canada are really just Zellers with a different logo). I picked up a new briefcase-ish bag for work, a new wallet (as mine was falling apart) and a birthday present for my nephew! Alicia also got a new bag, plus a bunch of stuff for her kids. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was almost 6 pm and since we knew we had a 30 min walk to the theatre, we quickly changed into our theatre-appropriate dresses, touched up our makeup, and decided on which our many jewelry purchases from Santa Monica went best with our outfits and headed out to grab some dinner before the show, which started at 8 pm. What we hadn’t counted on was that our walking speed would be considerably slower than normal, given the half marathon plus a full day of walking after that, so it took us about 45 minutes to get to the theatre. Happily, we found a nice restaurant where we could get seated right away and had appies (spinach and artichoke dip, plus truffle parmesan fries!) for dinner, so we got to the theatre with time to spare.

Tickets to Book of Mormon

The show was absolutely amazing. Both of us had heard that The Book of Mormon was great (and, really, they don’t give 9 Tonys to a bad show, right?), but didn’t really know anything about the plot. The show really did the live up to the hype – the songs were fantastic, the cast was unbelievably talented (I could not believe the range of the guy who played Elder Cunningham) and the entire thing was so freaking hilarious. Absolutely worth every penny! After the show, we grabbed a cab back to the hotel (the theatre was pretty much where the finish line of the race was, but our legs really were done and it was rather late and we had to get up early to catch the shuttle to the airport), quickly packed our bags, and hit the hay (again setting four different alarms to make sure we wouldn’t oversleep!).

When going through security at the airport, my race medal caused a bit of consternation in the xray. I could see that a few people were looking puzzled as they examined the xray of my bag and I knew immediately what the cause was. So they had to search through my bag to try to find it and, of course, since I’d hastily packed the night before I couldn’t remember exactly where I’d put it. After emptying my whole bag10, they eventually found it inside the bag I’d bought at Target! So it all went through the xray again, this time with the medal in its own plastic bin and then finally we got to be on our way.

All in all, it was pretty much a perfect trip and I think Alicia and I now have a taste for destination half marathons. At brunch we discussed several options – Rome, Paris, Hawaii, and Iceland were ones that came up, just to name a few. But that won’t be until next year, so we’ve got time to think about it.

Also, for the record, my official finish time was 2:09:57.3, making me 162nd out of 607 in my age/sex category – that’s the 73rd percentile11. Not too shabby!12. And as you can see, this new addition to my graph of half marathon times looks pretty awesome (remember, it’s race finish time, so shorter is better!):

Graph of half marathon finish times as of 5 April 2014

  1. The race expo was fairly small, given the size of the race, and didn’t have much in the way of free samples – which was disappointing as power bars from races is how I stock my earthquake preparedness kit. Also of note at the race expo was something that you’d never see in a race expo in Canada – in addition to booths for other races, sportswear, and hippie foods, there was booth where you could buy stun guns and pepper spray. *Pink* stun guns and pepper spray. I mean, just because you are fending off a would-be assailant does *not* mean you shouldn’t be coordinated, ladies! []
  2. So, yes, the aspiring-actress-as-waitress is totally a thing. Similarly, on our shuttle from the airport there were people from Vancouver who were heading down to some industry event and talking about having scripts they were going to be shopping around. I think we may have been the only people heading to Hollywood who weren’t trying for their big break. []
  3. She was actually the second person to recognize us as Canadians based on this! []
  4. Believe it or not, that was actually my first trip *ever* to Trader Joe’s! I’ve had tonnes of stuff from there before, as friends and co-workers are always popping down to the one in Bellingham and bringing stuff back to share, but I’ve never actually been before. []
  5. I was standing in Trader Joe’s, deliberating on how ridiculous it would be for a Canadian to buy maple cookies in the US, but another shopper told me, “Buy the cookies. I’m from Canada too – these are really good! []
  6. I’m not exactly sure as they only had mile markers, not km markers, and they weren’t very noticeable, so I probably only saw half of them. []
  7. I figured since Alicia and I weren’t chatting anyway, I may as well listen to some tunes! []
  8. I gained 15 lbs in the first 5 months of my MBA program and have only managed to lose 7 of those. []
  9. The finish line was further from our hotel than the start line and we’d originally thought we’d be too tired for that much of a walk after the race, so planned to grab a taxi, but the weather was so nice and it turned out to be really nice to stretch out our legs with a walk. []
  10. Hope everything in LAX enjoyed seeing my bras and underwear. []
  11. I.e., I ran faster than 73% of people in the race. []
  12. I also came in 2,098th out of all 5,726 people who finished the race (63th percentile) and 843rd out of 3,371 females in the race (85th percentile). []

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Half Marathon #8 – a.k.a., who put all these hills here?

This will be brief, as I have a ridiculous amount of homework to do this week, but I thought that a blog posting to let you all know that I survived the Edge-to-Edge half marathon was in order. And I do mean survived, as this was by far the toughest half marathon route I’ve even experienced!

Alicia and I headed over to the Island on the ferry on Saturday morning and spent the afternoon enjoying the sights of Tofino & Ucluelet and, most importantly to a women with two small children and a women doing an MBA, we took a nap. A glorious, glorious nap.

Beth & Alicia, on the ferry

Alicia and I on the ferry, on our way to the race. So unsuspecting of the insane hilliness that awaited us!

I may also have done some homework and Alicia may also have enjoyed some uninterrupted reading time, powering her way through the book “Born To Run”. We are so extravagant! We then headed to the “carb loading” dinner and, since Tofino & Ucluelet apparently shut down everything by 8 pm on a Saturday night, we just enjoyed the sunset by the water and made it an early night.

Ready for my race!

Me, right before the race. Still completely unaware of the evil hills that awaited me!

We knew that there would be some hills on the route, given that we drove a chunk of it on our way from Ucluelet to Tofino and saw that there were hills. But driving the hills makes them seem so much less than they are when you have to run them. For 2+ hours. Also, we didn’t know that the hills would start almost immediately and continue non-stop for pretty much the entire 21.125 km.

Edge to Edge half marathon route
The race map. See that elevation profile at the bottom? Apparently you are supposed to pay attention to that!

There was about 4km of the race that was in the Wild Pacific Trail, which we’d not been in before, but we discovered upon entering it during the race, with the faint hope that maybe, just maybe, the horrible, horrible hills of the past 14 km would be over, that it was not only superhilly, but also was a rocky trail, so you had to not only run up and down hills for 4 km, but you also had to be super careful not to fall and break your neck on loose rocks! Oddly, this was actually my favourite part of the race1 – it seemed to go by much faster than the parts on the road and you got the occasional glimpse of the ocean, which was spectacular.

All told, according to my Runkeeper app2, we did a total of 362m of climbing on this race. To put this in perspective, that’s like running up nearly 1/3 of Grouse Mountain or 65% of the way up the CN Tower!

I should also mention that my IT band has been really tight of late and even the drive from the ferry to Uclulet resulted in my IT band feeling like burning3. And since hills are what seem to aggravate it the most, it made the race that much worse, as ever time I ran up a hill, my IT band would scream at me. Several of the hills I had to walk up, just to make it bearable. So I feel completely justified in blaming the evil hills and my evil IT band for my terrible finish time of 2:22:35. Not my insufficient training nor my insufficient stretching and foam rolling to keep my IT band in check or my extra 15 lbs of weight I’m carrying around. Nope, definitely the fault of evil hills!

Half marathon finishers!

Alicia and I with our finisher medals. Proof that we did, in fact, finish the race!

However, I do have to remind myself that I set out with a simple goals of experiencing a new race, finishing the race (without actually being too concerned with my time) and having a nice time hanging out with Alicia for the weekend, so really, it was mission accomplished. Also, race day would have been my Dad’s 68th birthday and I like that I got to do a race on his day.

In related news, Alicia and I were chatting with a lovely couple from Santa Barbara at the carb-loading dinner who told us about the Hollywood Half Marathon. It’s a flat course and you get big sparkly Hollywood star-shaped medal at the end. Sounds like a pretty fantastic way to celebrate, say, someone being done an MBA, doesn’t it? April 5, 2014 – who’s in?

  1. Where by “favourite” I mean, “the part where I least wanted to die”. []
  2. Which was slightly off, since it only registered me as having run 20.64 km, when I did, in fact, run 21.125 km. Nevertheless, it was pretty close, so I’m confident that the climb amount is close to correct. []
  3. I guess holding my leg in the same position on the accelerator for 3 hours wasn’t the smartest idea. []

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Half Marathon #8 – I Have My Eye On You!

Edge to Edge marathon logoI put it on my list of goals for 2013 and, after much procrastinating and hemming and hawing, I have finally registered myself for the half marathon at the Edge to Edge in Tofino/Ucluelet in June, along with my friend Alicia! I started a bit late on my training and I have really only been doing about one run per week – but I’ve managed to do the scheduled long runs for the past 4 weeks. It’s week 11 of the 17 week training plan that I usually follow1, and I figure that now that I’ve registered I’ll be sufficiently scared motivated to do another run or two per week, in addition to the long runs.

This will be my first time doing the Edge-to-Edge and I’m really starting to look forward to it. For the uninitiated, Tofino/Ucluelet2 are on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which will mean the route will provide beautiful views of beaches and the Pacific ocean!

Here’s the description of the half marathon route:

It will be a Half Marathon filled with incredible scenery – crashing waves, beautiful views, beaches, and wildlife… expect it all!

This course will wind its way through the seaside village of Ucluelet with a portion of the course running on the spectacular Wild Pacific Trail! The trail is hard-packed and nicely graded with the most amazing views of the Pacific Ocean — absolutely breathtaking!

The course will start on the road and paved bike path for the first 15km of the race and then slip onto the Wild Pacific Trail for approximately 4km and then a 500m stretch along Big Beach (gravel path). Then it’s back on to the road thought the streets of Ucluelet for the final 2 km!

Now to find a place to stay in Ucluelet. Any suggestions?

  1. Where by “follow” I mean “I do varying levels of the proposed runs in said plan, but always the long runs. []
  2. You may remember Tofino from my 30th birthday surfing trip. I actually have not been back there since then! []

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Half Marathon #7 – Complete!

Given my complete absence from the blog since the day before the half marathon, you are probably thinking that I collapse in a giant heap along the route. Well, I am happy to report that this was not the case1! I did, in fact, complete the Victoria half marathon on Sunday, the seventh time I have accomplished such a feat2!

Victoria Half Marathon 2012

Given my limited amount of training3, I went into the race with a goal of just finishing, rather than trying to have a really stellar time. And so I wasn’t close to my personal best or anything, I did manage to finish in 2:18:01, which is respectable enough, if not anything to write home about.

Also, despite it not being my best race every performance-wise, it was one of the best races I’ve had enjoyment-wise. The day was sunny and warm – which is pretty much a miracle for Victoria in October – and the route of the Victoria half is absolutely gorgeous. I mean, it’s been gorgeous the two times I’ve run it in the rain, but running it in the sun was out of this world. I spent pretty much the entire race with a giant grin. My legs had a mind of their own for the first ~14 km – they just ran and ran and ran without me thinking twice about it. After that point, they kind of felt like lead, but I didn’t care. By that point, my brain was in full “let’s get this thing done!” mode and anytime I noticed myself slowing down, I just concentrated on my stride and kept on going. I didn’t have as much left in the tank at the end of the run as I usually do, but I managed a sprint for the last 100m or so.

Victoria Half Marathon 2012

Devon also ran the race, and he would have easily beat me if not for his pesky IT band, which decided at ~the 16 km that it didn’t want him to run anymore, so he limped the last 5 km. I’d seen him earlier in the run at a place where the route doubles back on itself, so you see some of the runners who are ahead of you4 and he had a giant grin on his face and looked like he was having a blast. Then I passed him at ~19 km where he was sadly limping along and looking much more grumpy. But he still managed to finish in 2:22:14, so I’m sure the next race he’ll kick my butt. In my defence, he is almost an entire foot taller than me.

Two other things of note from this race:

  • before the race, I saw a women who was about 8 months pregnant getting ready to run the half. She had a headband that said, “Suck it up, cupcake!” When my legs started to feel like lead, I just reminded me self of exactly that!
  • some lawyer from Victoria set the world’s record for the fastest marathon run in a business suit, finishing the full marathon in 2:35! I saw him running at a point where the marathon route and the half marathon route merge and he was in about 6th place at that time, which is where he ended up. 6th freaking place running in a business suit! I may have started cheering for him as he ran by. I really need to learn how to do a wolf whistle for exactly this type of occasion.

Victoria Half Marathon 2012
I’m addicted to race medals!

  1. You are probably sick of hearing me whine about being too busy to blog, so I’m only putting the whining here in the footnote. Footnotes are smaller and, thus, less annoying! []
  2. Well, technically it’s the 8th time I’ve run a distance of 21.1 km, because one time when Alicia and I were training and set out to run our 20 km run, we got lost and ended up running 22 km! But it was the 7th time I’d done it in an actual race. []
  3. And the extra 15 lbs that I’m carrying around with me and just can’t seem to lose. []
  4. And then later you see the runners who are behind you. []