Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 Canadian National XC Championship Race Report

This past weekend I headed over to Vancouver for the Canadian National XC Championships held at Jericho Beach. We had some wild weather in the days leading up to the race and race day was calling for 50+mm of rain. Yay. With ferries being canceled on Thursday due to winds, I was very nervous when I woke up race morning on Saturday to see wind warnings in effect yet again. I was at the terminal waiting for the 7:45am ferry while watching the winds whip around. I was more nervous about the ferries getting canceled and me not being able to make it over for the race, than the race itself. Something wrong with that isn't there? 

Thankfully the ferry sailed as scheduled and I had a nice nap in my car on the lower deck! I had worked the night before until 10:15pm, so I was tired from heading to bed late and getting up early. The peacefulness of the rocking boat put me right to sleep. Not to mention you don't really feel the rocking waves as much when so close to the water. 

We docked in Tsawwassen and I saw the weather was dreary but didn't seem quite as windy was Nanaimo. I made a quick stop at Richmond Center mall as I wanted to hit RW&Co to look for a dress that I saw in Nanaimo that wasn't in my size. They had it so a quick purchase and I was back on the roads to Jericho Beach. 

I arrived and headed to pick up my number. I stood by and watched the Junior girls start and then headed back to my car briefly. I grabbed my stuff and headed to the BC Athletics tent to hijack a spot for my stuff (technically I wasn't Team BC this year due to not qualifying for the team, but I was stealing their tent anyways). I changed my spikes to slightly longer ones based on the suggestions from the Team BC Coaches. Before I knew it, it was time to warm up. 

Tasha and I headed off just after the Junior boys started their race and met up with Marilyn for our warm up. I still wasn't too nervous, which was actually kind of nice. The last few weeks had been a bit rough. The posterior tibial tendon in my inner left ankle had been acting up for 3-4 weeks. It started the week after BC's and at one point was quite painful. I had almost weekly ART sessions with Joe at Island Optimal Performance to keep on top of it. 

Not only that, 2 weeks before the race, my training sessions went flat and I felt like crap. I couldn't get my legs to fire like they had been the week before. A few other issues had popped up as well, but I am not going to get into that. Needless to say I had no idea what to expect. My goal of the race was to run as best as I can and to not come out of the race injured. Coach Matt said, it's one race and not worth the injury.

Our race started at 1:30 and I was actually still on the line fumbling with one of my gloves when the race started. I quickly got that sorted out as the field tore up the grass. Mud was flying within minutes. My first thought was, damn this is a fast start, but we quickly settled in. We ran a 1km loop followed by 3 x 2km loops for 7km total. 

Race start

I think the race went well. I won't lie, it was tough. The effort was way harder than the pace was; however, with each step you didn't know if you would hit solid ground or if your foot would sink ankle deep into a mud patch. I was doing quite a few weird twists at times as I tried to simply keep my balance. 

After the first loop (I think)

Shortly into the first of three 2km loops, veteran Lisa Harvey pulled out right in front of me with what appeared to be her ankle. I found that a bit surprising as she is an amazing runner. I hope everything is okay. I feel as though I held my own, though I really really really suck at running downhills. I definitely have to work on this, but I just can't relax due to bailing so many times on training runs (usually on downhills). I just can't let go. Stupid black eye and almost broken nose, multiple rolled ankles, scraped shoulders and hips. Yeah I am a klutz sometimes. 


I felt strong throughout, other than losing my balance lots and finding nearly every sink hole possible. Unfortunately I got passed right at the finish and ended up 25th overall. With only 46 finishers in the race, I was slightly disappointed with my finish place; however, the top end was stacked with fast girls. Kendra Schaff won it, followed by Megan Brown then Dayna Pidhoresky. They are all amazing! 

Last loop before turning to the finish


Times were so much slower this year than last year, mind you last year was run in hard packed snow and freezing temps in Guelph. I feel as though Jericho is an easier course hill wise, but it was definitely harder in the mud than snow. Kate Harrison won last year in 23:43 and Kendra won this year in 25:00 (Dayna was 3rd in 25:47 this year and 2nd last year in 24:04). So the winner was about 1 minute and 17 seconds slower this year. Most people were slower this year by 1-2 minutes compared to last year. I am proud that I ended up with a 1 minute and 38 second difference, which is faster than many others who ran last year. It definitely bodes well considering how craptastic my year started. Only 6.5 months back into running after my time off and I am feeling almost fitter than pre injury. A good sign for things to come!. 

Results found here

Photos found here

Thursday, November 17, 2011

BC High School XC

Back on November 4th/5th, we took our top 7 girls to Kelowna for the BC High School XC Championships. It was a successful trip. When we arrived, we headed straight up to the race course to check it out. The kids would run a 1 loop course of about 4.4km (I believe). It was a very frozen course with a bit of snow in places as it was up at the Telemark XC Ski Hill. 

From there we checked into our hotel and then I attempted to figure out a place to do my own workout. I had intervals to run and looking out the windows at the hotel showed either the highway or hills. Not ideal. Thankfully one of the parents volunteered to drive me into Kelowna so that I could use the Greenway, which is a nice long gravel trail along Mission Creek. They dropped me off just as the sun was beginning to set. I rushed my warm up and started out. It felt tougher than normal. Still a good effort, but the overall paces felt faster than my gps said they were. Not to mention I was freezing for half the workout and due to limited sun, I cut my warm up short. My cool down was done after the sun went down and it was a tad creepy running through the trail not really knowing the area. In the end I survived and was grateful to get into a warm car for the trip back to Westbank. 

A dinner at Boston Pizza with one of the girls and her dad and then back to the hotel and an early night to sleep. The next day we were up early at 6am as the kids needed to eat. We left at 8 and headed up to the race. Oh my god was it ever cold. I give credit to those kids running. It was a very tough race with tough weather conditions. Needless to say, I was frozen before the race even started. I had hand warmers in my gloves, about 3 layers of pants, 4 shirts/jackets and I even shoved hand warmers into my shoes (they didn't help) as I couldn't feel my toes. 

The race was off and I headed back up to the finish area. Before I knew it the kids were coming in. Miryam ran a strong race to finish 4th (just barely) as our top finisher. Next we had Abigail, Carly, Rebecca, Emma and Rachel. Wait a minute.... that is 6, we are missing one? Rachel asked if we had seen Tkia as she had run by her laying on the ground with someone helping her. The other coach ran off to find her, while I stayed with the other kids making sure they got clothes on etc. Finally, Tkia comes back. She fell within the last portion of the race and hit the side of her head on a rock. Decision was made to head to Kelowna hospital. Thankfully, Emma's parents took me and Tkia to the hospital and hung out with us while we were there. 

Tkia was a trooper as she ended up with 5 stitches (2 in one spot and 3 in the other) and a nice black eye with lots of bumps and bruises. Poor girl. 

On the way to the hospital I was informed that even though Tkia didn't finish (She is usually our 5th scorer between Becca and Emma), we still placed 3rd for teams. This was awesome because we were 7th last year. Definite step in the right direction. I made sure to tell the girls to grab Tkia a medal as I felt she deserved one too. 

I am thankful to Becca for packing up the rest of my stuff at the hotel and to the girls in Tkia's room for packing up her stuff. As far as I am aware I am not missing anything! It is always nerve wracking to have someone else pack your things. 

Now for a few photos

Sunrise from the ferry to Vancouver

Drive to Kelowna! Snow!!

Crazy Mountains

Walking the course the day before

More course shots

Race day
Here they come!

A few of our girls (Carly and Miryam)
Emma and Rachel

Tkia still smiling post race

Waiting room at the hospital
What a sport!
Time for stitches!

Driving home

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2011 BC Cross Country Championships

After the 8km, I set my sights on the BC XC Championships which were being held on Oct 29th in Aldergrove. I ran this course last year and it was a brutal course. It consisted of three 2km loops for 6km in total. I had no idea how this year was going to go, but I decided to give it a shot and see what happens. As the race got closer, the women's starting list grew bigger with faster competitors. Soon my goals changed slightly and I hoped to come top 10. 

I headed over on an early ferry before the race, thanks to Sport BC for the ferry vouchers. I then had the job of locating the race. Last year I carpooled with Lucy Smith and a few other runners. Lucy simply set up her GPS and I paid no attention as to where she was going. It's different when you are in the drivers seat and without GPS. I google mapped the directions at work the night before and unfortunately the route took me along 0 ave (I think) which was right along the border of Canada/USA. It was also a very annoying road with raised intersections ever 400m or so. Although BC's aren't in Aldergrove next year, note to self not to take that road again!

I arrived in plenty of time before the race. The first race (masters men and women) was just starting. I took some photos and hung around, spoke with some of the high school athletes I knew and watched one of my NDSS girls race (congrats Miryam on your age 15 win). 

# for the race

The first hill on the course! Much steeper in person!


They make you run down the side and then up again (behind the trees)
Eventually it was time for me to warm up. Just as I was about to head out, I spotted Lucy and Hilary Stellingwerff. We waited for Marilyn Aresenault and then all went out on our warm up together (also with Sisi Hallam). 

Before I knew it, we were on the start line. 

Surprisingly, I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. I think that was a good thing. It was the same in Eugene back in May 2010 when I ran my 1:21:55 half marathon PB. I wasn't nervous before that one either. I just ran how I felt on the day. Today was the same. I went out with the crowd and made sure it wasn't too fast. The hills the first time felt hard, but still okay. I was sitting in 12th most of the race. 

1st lap


On the 2nd lap, the hills hurt a bit more and I could see one girl (Helen Crofts) falling back from the group in front of me. Slowly but surely I reeled her in, passing her with 1 lap to go. The hills on the 3rd lap hurt. I felt like I was barely moving! And everyone on the hill was cheering for Helen right behind me. Once I finished the hills, I let it fly on the downhill determined not to let Helen pass me again and she didn't. 

Start of the 3rd and final lap

Before the 1st hill

Down the hill

Up the 2nd hill and pulling a nasty face (I think my nose was running as usual)


While initially I thought I was 10th and was happy with how I ran, it turns out I was actually 11th (9th person from BC). Slightly more disappointed, but in the end I am thrilled with how I handled the race. I made an improvement on my time from last year, though the course was slightly different. I held my distance behind some competitors from last year and that made me proud, considering the year I have had.

Mar, Me, Becky and Mel (Post race)

As I stated after the race, I am simply happy to be out racing again. I feel as though I raced the course better than last year and I felt stronger than I have in ages. I felt stronger than pre injury so that was a good sign. 

After the race, we cooled down in a big group and then I booked it off to Surrey for a quick shower and then out to dinner for my brother's (half brother technically) 40th birthday dinner. I had to skip the cake after though, as I then booked it from Surrey to Horseshoe Bay for the 9pm ferry, which was the last one back to Vancouver Island for the night. In the end it was a long day, but very successful. Up next, National XC on Nov 26th. 

Congrats on Hilary on her win. Results found here

Photo credit (Copyrighted ones) to Vid Wadhwani