Saturday, May 19, 2012

2012 Oak Bay Half Marathon Race Report

A somewhat last minute decision saw me line up on the start line of the Oak Bay Half Marathon this morning (Sunday May 13th). After the disappointment in Montréal I wanted another half; however, I knew Oak Bay wouldn't be that fast half I was looking for due to the rolling nature of the course and many hills. At the same time, I didn't expect my end result to be as slow for me personally as it ended up being. 

I was up shortly after 5 after my usual night of waking up multiple times. I was out the door and on my way to Victoria by 5:30 and made great time arriving in Victoria at the race site in Oak Bay by 6:40. I found a driving partner on the way down who I followed all the way to Victoria. It was a gorgeous morning and it definitely made the drive nicer considering it was light out and the sun was rising over the trees. 

I found a place to park and picked up my race number. Eventually I found Care Nelson and we did our warm up together. Before I knew it we were on the start line. 

Photo Credit Jeremy and Julia Phillips

Top women for the race would be Care, Claire Morgan and myself (we finished in that order). The race went out quick due to the initial  downhill start. Soon Care and I settled in; however, by 3 I think I started to fall off. 

Care and I shortly into the race
Photo credit Jeremy and Julia Phillips

By 5km I knew I was in trouble but hoped that the awful feelings in my legs would pass. Unfortunately that is not the case and I entered survival mode. 

Myself with unknown runner. This guy was funny. Around this point he said "F*cking hills" At least I think it was this guy.
Photo credit Jeremy and Julia Phillips

I can't remember exactly as I tend to zone out during races (I am amazed by those who can remember km by km what happens), but I think Claire caught me around 8km? Anyways, I gave her a quick shout out and tried to follow along, but it clearly was not my day. 

Claire and myself shortly before she passed me and never looked back!
Photo credit Walter Cantwell

I went through 10km in upper 39 I believe and thought (wow... nearly 2 minutes slower than Montréal, wonderful!) and hit the half way mark in 41:36.

Things got worse from there. I slowed so much in the last half of the course. My legs had nothing in them. I couldn't make them go faster, my form went to sh!t and I was doing all I could just to hang in there. My km's slowed, especially on the hills and I even yelled at coach Matt on the way back that I was in survival mode. His response "you are almost there." I believe that was at like 16-17km and unfortunately my thought at that point was "not close enough." 

On my way home. 
Photo credit Kirsty Sheldon

In the end I hung on (just barely) for 3rd place female and first in my age group in a finishing time of 1:26:28. Honestly, I think if the race was any longer, I wouldn't have hung on. 

So unbelievably glad to be finished
Photo credit Jeremy and Julia Phillips

Top women myself in 3rd, Claire in 2nd and the awards presenter (missing Care in 1st)
 Photo credit Jeremy and Julia Phillips

Simply it was not my day, but other than being embarrassed by my time (no offense to anyone as I know 1:26:28 is considered awesome, but when you run 1:20:53 it isn't as awesome anymore) I am okay with the result. While I thought my body was ready to race again, apparently it wasn't. Matt doesn't think I am fully recovered yet from Montréal only 2 weeks ago. This is the first time I have raced another half so soon after the first. 

It was a hard lesson to learn, but I will take that lesson and move on, hopefully never having another experience like today again. Saucony has a slogan "Find your Strong." I love this slogan and today my strong was simply finishing. I could have dropped out and trust me when I say those thoughts definitely crossed my mind, but instead I fought until the end and finished. Now I ask you, what is your strong?

Big thanks to Dave Milne at Peninsula Runners Victoria for the late entry into his race and to Mark Nelson at Race Day Timing/Frontrunners Westshore for also taking part in that entry. Congrats to Care and also Claire (new PB yay).

Full results found here.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy 1 year Anniversary

May 13th marked my 1 year return to running post injury last year. I started out with 15 minutes of running. I looked at my Garmin history and thought that May 27th was my first run back; however, something told me that I had started back earlier than that. I looked up my training records and saw that I initially started May 13th. 

How did I celebrate? By running my worst and most slowest half marathon in many years. A race report is going to follow shortly. It's mostly written, but I want to throw some photos into it. The results of that race have now resulted in a short break from running. It is hard because the weather is so gorgeous, but I know that my body needs it and it will be a good thing in the end. I haven't had much of a break in the last year. 

Enjoy the sunshine/trails and roads for me. Stay tuned for the race report as well. =)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

2012 Canadian Half Marathon Championships Part 2

 Race Day!

Race morning came early, as my roomie Meggan Franks was up around 5:30. While this is actually 2:30am at home, I didn't feel too bad considering I had fallen asleep before 9:30pm, so still about 8 hours sleep with waking up about 2-3 times as usual. It was still slightly early for me, so though I was awake, I stayed in bed until nearly 6:30. 



I then got up and had some breakfast and water before getting dressed and down to the lobby for 7:45 to take the shuttle to the race site. It was a beautiful sunny day, but still somewhat cold. The wind had toned down from the last 2 days, but was still there. The weather report stated it was supposed to increase throughout the day. 

We were on the shuttle and arrived to the race site shortly after 8:30. We were led into the elite room where they had cots set up. I ditched my stuff and then took a quick walk around and down to the start and finish area to take a closer look. Took a few picture along the way and simply distracted myself. By the time I got back my hands were frozen and as I was told my nose was red. 

Race Start and 4km

Race Finish

Soon after, I headed off on a warm up with Kate Bazeley, Erin MacLean and Leslie Sexton. Along the way back we ran into Josiane Aboungono. My legs felt pretty good in the warm up, except my right groin/hip area was a bit off.

By the end of my warm up I didn't notice it anymore though. A stop in the elite room to drop some clothes and then off to the start line for some drills and strides. Before I knew it, we were on the line with a few minutes to go. 


Just after the start a thought went through my head "Crap, I forgot to put my gel into my pocket." I knew they would be handing out power gels at 11.5km so I would have to make due with that. I went out slightly fast but the legs were feeling good. We hit a dirt path just about 1km in and I suddenly found myself running on a ledge of dirt. I quickly moved over as I didn't want to risk rolling my ankle on such an uneven surface. 

We did a loop around and hit the start again at 4km (15:01) and I was still feeling good. I had settled into a pace. I think at around 7km I started to feel as though I was slowing, but I kept plodding along. I hit the 10km marker at 37:55 which was right on pace. A few points up to this point had been in the wind, but never for too long. 

That is when everything went downhill. Throughout the race I found myself with a slight headache and in the later stages my upper left calf (right below the knee) and my left hamstring started to tighten. At 11.5km I grabbed one of their gels, thankfully grabbing vanilla (a flavor I could handle); however, due to the liquid consistency half of it slopped all over the side of my face (YUM). I grabbed a water a short time later, but lost nearly all of it, except 1 measly sip by the time I got it to my mouth. 

By 15km I wanted to drop out. I was hurting, my pace was slowing and I wasn't having fun mentally. I don't remember which spots were exactly in the wind, but at times it seemed like it was swirling. One spot I would hit it head on and then when I switched directions and thought it would be a tailwind, it would be a headwind again. I do know I felt it around 3-4.5km 9.5-11.5km. Again from 15-17.5km, 18.5-20km. 

At just over 17.5km I had some man start drafting behind me. At this point I was frustrated with the wind and the fact that had been in no mans land alone to battle it. I was not going to have this man draft off me so I made a sharp move to the side, he passed me saying something in french and I continued on my way. I apologize now to the man, but at that point if I had to battle the wind alone nearly the whole race, then so could he. 

Near the end of the race (mentally "frustrated" by this point)

My slowest km came from 19-20km where the gusts of wind nearly stopped me in my tracks. I was in survival mode for the last 5km. I crossed the line in 1:21:38 and at the time I was completely unimpressed. I was disappointed in myself because I felt like I was ready to break that 80' barrier going into the race. Not meeting that goal, disappointed me. I could not see the fact that in tough conditions I ran only 45 seconds off of my best time and that I also ran my 2nd fastest half marathon. In my mind at the time, it was 80' or nothing. 

Finish (finally!)

Post race
I did a short cool down with Josiane and Meggan and then waited around to watch the winners get their awards. 

Roomie Photo Op (Meggan and myself)

Waiting for awards (Leslie, Joasiane, Erin and myself)

Kate won, followed by Leslie and then Erin. Anne-Marie and Josiane rounded out the top 5 Canadians. 

Top 5 women (Anne-Marie 4th, Erin 3rd, Kate 1st, Leslie 2nd, Josiane 5th)

For the men, Olympian Eric Gillis took top spot, followed by Matt Loiselle, Rejean Chaisson, Giitah Macharia and then coach Matt Clout took 5th Canadian spot. 

Top 5 men (Giitah 4th, Rejean 3rd, Eric 1st, Matt L 2nd, Missing Matt C 5th)

I picked up my age group award as I wanted something from the event (I was 3rd in my age group 30-34) and after I got my medal they proceeded to tell me I had won a 2nd one. They then gave me a masters medal. I was confused.... masters? I am 30. They explained that they recognize pre-masters starting 30. Well that was new to me. It certainly made me laugh though. 

We then grabbed the shuttle back to the hotel, a quick shower, packing and then thankfully due to Meggan staying another night, I didn't have to leave at the 3pm late check out. We hung out until around 4pm and then Matt and I headed off to the airport for our 5:55pm flight. 

That flight didn't leave until about an hour after the original scheduled time. This time I thankfully got a window seat thanks to the lovely couple that had booked the window and aisle seat hoping that the middle would be left empty. No such luck on a booked solid flight. So they gave me the window and I killed time taking photos and watching movies. 

Leaving Montréal


Let me just say flying back after a race was rough. My legs just wanted to move and sitting on a plane for 5+ hours was not ideal. We arrived to Vancouver just after 9pm. Matt's flight to Victoria left at 10pm and mine left finally at 10:45pm. I flew back into Nanaimo at about 11:05pm. I figure by the time I got to bed, I was up for 22 hours. 

My thoughts on the race? Likely would have been faster without the wind. I feel as though the overall effort was actually harder than my 1:20:53 at First Half in February. I do believe if the conditions were different, I would have at least had a PB and been closer to that elusive 80' mark. I am glad I went and had a great experience. It will happen, I just have to wait a bit longer until it does. Patience right? 

Special thanks to VIRA, Bastion, BC Athletics and CRS for making this trip happen. Also thanks to Saucony for shipping some AMP PRO2 Recovery tights to Montréal so that I had them for the flight home! LOVE compression! 

Full results found here

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Canadian Half Marathon Championships Race Report Part 1

After the success and excitement of the Vancouver Sun Run, I was looking forward to competing in the Canadian Half Marathon Championships held in conjunction with the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal. My training had been going decently well since being sick and I felt ready to go sub 80 or at least take a good run at it. 

I took Thursday evening off work due to the fact I had to fly out of Nanaimo at 7:40am. Thursday was spent running errands, getting a massage and coaching the NDSS (Nanaimo District Secondary School) track practice. Before I knew it, 8pm rolled around and I hadn't even started to pack. I was in bed later than I had hoped, but at least it wasn't too late. 

At the airport shortly after 7am. I squeezed 4 x 100ml yogurts into their little "liquids" airport bags as I was determined to keep them. I may have stretched the bag a little, but they let me take them through. 

Leaving Nanaimo (overlooking Cedar)

It was only a short little 20 minute jaunt over to Vancouver, arriving just after 8am. From there, I bought some liquids for the travel and headed over to the gate for my connecting flight to Montréal. I kept look out for Anne-Marie Madden who was also heading to the race, but we never connected and it turns out our seats were not next to each other either. I did see her on the flight though. 

Killing time in YVR


Speaking of the flight, wow.... turbulent. I think we had our seat belts on for the first half of the flight. Of course when they went off, mega line ups for the toilets. I ended up sitting beside a nice lady who was going to meet her son as he was finishing up his first year at McGill. We chatted and as it turned out, her husband had recently gone through bunion surgery and was unsure whether he regretted it. I shared my experience and the fact that I did not regret my two surgeries that I had done in 2006. 

Perfect way to kill time on the flight there!

We arrived in Montréal shortly after 4:30pm local time and headed to the shuttles. My coach Matt Clout had also just landed shortly before us and we had tried to meet at the shuttle location; however, things didn't work out and we ended up catching 2 different ones. The race organizers put us up at the Sheraton Aiport Hotel which was like 1km from the airport and in the middle of nowhere. A very nice airport, but we found a lack of restaurants etc within walking distance. 




I settled into the hotel and went on a brief shake out run with Matt and his roommate Giitah. A short run in COLD and WINDY temperatures. I think it was like 2 degrees. A shock to my system after coming from the west coast where we were hitting mild temps!

My roommate Meggan Franks told me ahead of time that she would be arriving late. So that night I went to dinner with Matt and then spent part of the evening hanging out with fellow Saucony athlete Kate Bazeley and her roommate Leslie Sexton (the two favorites to win the race I might add). 

I was in bed watching the hockey game (Kings vs Blues I think) and drifted to sleep around 11pm before waking shortly after. I turned off the game but then couldn't fall back asleep right away. Meggan arrived around midnight. She settled in and we went to bed.

We slept in somewhat the next day and around 10:30 Meggan, Matt and I headed out for an easy run. Another WINDY day. Like windy where it hits you sideways and pushes you over. I think we were all praying that the wind would calm down in the next 24 hours. After the run we hit breakfast in the hotel and then simply chilled for the afternoon before the elite meeting at 4pm. 

That night was pretty uneventful. I went out to dinner with Kate and Leslie to some Italian restaurant a short cab ride away (we all wanted out of the hotel). Then it was simply relaxing for the night. Surprisingly I found myself falling asleep around 9pm so I turned off the hockey game (thanks to Meggan for putting up with me constantly having the games on) and we passed out for the night. Not bad considering it was only 6pm back home. 

Stay tuned for part 2.