Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Thank You's!

New Years Eve! Wow what a year! Let's recap, I ran 15 races varying in distance from 5km to half marathon. I traveled to Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and San Jose for races, plus my second altitude stint in Flagstaff. I also made Team BC for the National Championships for both 10km and XC. Needless to say it has been an amazing year. 

Runners are obsessed with numbers, I could count up my mileage for the year, but it really means nothing to anyone else. So let's talk about other times, how about personal bests. 2013 was a year in which I set bests in every distance I raced including these highlighted distances! 

5km- 17:57 (2012) to 16:47 (2013)
10km- 36:44 (2012) to 34:42 (2013)
Half marathon- 1:19:57 (2012) to 1:17:03 (2013)

Overall I think running wise it was a very good year. The times I achieved were faster than what I expected. In fact, they were pretty much times I had set as long term goals for 2014. Instead I overachieved I guess you could say reaching those goals in 2013. You know what that means? Even bigger goals for 2014! 

Since the year is about to end I should say a few thank yous. Thank you to Saucony Canada for the past 3 years, it was a great partnership. 

Thank you to both the Bastion Running Club and Prairie Inn Harriers for your continued support, as well as VIRA. Also the Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards where I also took home Nanaimo's Individual Female Athlete of the Year for 2012. All four of these groups have helped fund me in some way towards my goals. 

Thanks to Alan Brookes, CRS and the many race/event organizers and volunteers for having me at your races. 

To my family (who support in person or from afar), friends (both in person and on social media) and to my co-workers (who do their best to get me time off for race/training needs) thank you for your support. I love reading your words of encouragement. Runners are a bit OCD at times and I appreciate you all understanding the everyday requirements of training.  

To Alicia Shay for allowing me to spend 3 weeks in her home the last 2 summers, thank you! I look forward to seeing you again this coming year! 

Of course thanks to the people who take care of me and play a huge role in keeping me healthy. These people include my Chiropractors Dr. Abe Avender who not only puts up with my last minute emergency appointments but ensures my body is ready to keep rolling as well as Dr. Joe Foglia who is also available with his expertise when needed. Between these two I am set though I can't forget my RMT is Yvonne Visser who has magic hands and can work wonders on my tired muscles.

Lastly, my coach of course. Matt Clout and I have known each other for years upon years. He took me on in late 2008 and has played a massive role in getting me to where I am right now. I am proud to have him as my coach and only wish we lived in the same city (he is in Victoria, me in Nanaimo) so that he could assist me through some of my workouts first hand. I look forward to seeing what we can do in 2014!

As I mentioned, I have big plans for 2014, which includes my first National Team where I will run for Team Canada at the 2014 NACAC Championships. See the local news article here.This reminds me that I need to add a thank you to Josh Aldrich from Nanaimo Daily News and his dedication to keeping up to date with my race results.

I wouldn't doubt that I am missing some important people in here, so I may add to this post later! Otherwise, I wish everyone a happy healthy new year!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Canadian National XC 2013

Ahh Nationals. This race always scares me. For some reason I am more nervous when you put me off road onto either the track or trails. I tried my best all week not to think about or stress about the race too much. I had been asked about my goals for the race and I had stated "Top 10" but I truly did not know whether or not I was capable of that. I knew 100% that I was fit, but would that transfer over to the dirt, mud and hills? 

The weekend of the race I was scheduled to work, so I took off both Friday and Saturday by swapping shifts with my coworker. I thought about heading over to Vancouver Friday night, but in the end decided to stay in town and sleep in my own bed. Instead, I spent Friday night supporting a local team (VIU Mariner's Men's Volleyball) in a home game match. Over the last year I have become a fan of the sport, though I won't lie, I totally jumped on the bandwagon last year when the team made it to Nationals and came 4th. I had asked for a 3-0 win so I could get home and to bed, but was still happy they went 3-1 that night (and the next day), but enough about them. 

Saturday morning I got up and thought "Why didn't I go over last night." You see, I normally work 2-10 which means I stay up late and sleep in, so waking up at 7:15 is NEVER fun for me. I knew I could catch a few winks on the ferry though and that I did. Curled up with my blanket in my truck. Ahh the best part of ferry rides. Yes sleeping in my truck on the car deck. 

All week long the weather had been sunny and nice, then Friday night it started to rain and it continued on Saturday. I arrived at the course just after 11am and in time to see the Junior women run their 5km race at 11:15. Great to see Nanaimo girls in the mix, including Miryam Bassett (Oceanside), Marita DeSchiffart and Amy Morris. Right away I could see the course was getting sloppy so the decision was made to ditch my 9mm spikes and go for my 12's. 

The junior men went after, including Nanaimo boys Thomas and Peter Oxland (Oceanside), Sean Miller plus Chris and Anthony Serban. I had to miss the last lap of their race as I raced off back to my truck to put in my spikes and get ready for my warm up. All the kids gave their best effort in sloppy conditions and made me proud of course. 

I headed off on my warm and and while it was raining I thought it wasn't too bad, then after 10' I turned around and hit the headwind and thought "OMG." This was going to be an interesting race. Some drills and strides, a quick visit with my sister who came down to watch, spikes on, more strides, clothes off, whining that it was cold and then we were on the line. 


At 1:50 we were off and the race went off quickly and then settled down as it usually does. There was definitely some jostling at the start to find a good route. I think as we hit the first big puddle at about 850m or so, there was some laughing. I don't think anyone was expecting with just 24 hours of rain to have that much mud so fast. Being the 5th race of the day didn't disappoint. 

First loop just before hitting the first big puddle (photo credit Warren McCulloch)

The route is 1 x 1km loop, then 3 x 2km loops for 7km total. During the 1st 2km loop, I found myself in 10th place. Yes I totally counted, twice in fact to make sure I was right. Alright I thought, hold it here and hang on for dear life.  I fell back from the lead pack and then off from the chase pack where I wanted to be ideally.

Photo credit: Craig Odermatt

 Photo Credit: Rita Ivanauskas

During the 2nd 2km loop I think I picked off one girl, Bevin Kennelly I believe to put me in 9th. I kept pushing along and things slowly started to feel better. Yes, as the race went on, I felt stronger. In fact, when I hit the 3rd and final 2km loop, I was able to pass Jodi Nesbitt and then as we climbed the hill up the back I could see Sabrina had fallen off and she was coming back to me. I pushed the hill and the downhill and was determined to close a gap that had once been at least 100m. I would say in the final 700m maybe (I am horrible at estimating distance), I caught Sabrina and just kept pushing. Over the final little bump and through the mud pit onto the finish where I crossed the line 7th. 

Heading into the final hill section of the final lap (photo credit Craig)

 Final 500m of the race (photo credit Warren)

 Done!! (Photo credit Chris Kelsall)

Overall, very happy with the race. There are always things to improve on, such as wishing I had been more aggressive mid race; however, I came on strong in the end and achieved my Top 10 goal and simply CRUSHED the disappointment of finishing 34th last year. Maybe XC isn't so bad after all? ;) I also improved on my 4th place finish at BC XC to finish 2nd place for Team BC. 

MUDDY!! (and cold!)

Right after finishing, I visited with my sister and former (could be great again) runner Jay plus Craig who had found me and then headed back to get my clothes. By the time I got back to my clothes, I was freezing and shaking so bad. My spikes were covered in mud and I was struggling to untie them so I simply ripped them off my feet. Eventually I ended up doing my cool down in order to warm up while keeping an eye on the men's race. 

From there onto the awards where Team BC placed 2nd for Senior Women. Team BC and Team Ontario actually tied with 27 points but it came down to our 4th place finishers. Team BC had placed one spot behind Team Ontario.

Top Provincial Teams (Ontario-back, BC-middle, Alberta-front)

I stayed in Vancouver to hit the after party, but then in a bonehead move, I realized that I had apparently gone to Vancouver without my driver's license, which was since found in the bag I take to work. Doh! I am sure everyone else had a great time at the party though! I won't make that mistake again! 

The good news is that I placed within the top 10, and as 7th I am the first alternate when it comes to NACAC's in February. That could potentially mean Team Canada should enough girls commit. I have already heard at least 4 have said no, due to the trip being self funded and also due to it being a non World XC year; however, being my first Team Canada opportunity, I will go if enough girls say yes! Stay tuned for that news! 

Results are found here. Congrats to Natasha Wodak for the women's win and Luc Bruchet for the men's win.  

For those who missed my BC XC report that I just posted tonight (finally) here it is. 

BC XC Championships 2013

***So this is majorly delayed. I honestly have procrastinated big time on this, writing most of it not long after the race, but then I put it off until now. Stay tuned for the National XC Race Report! *****

Fall is here, so that means my cross country season has started. I should point out that my cross country "season" has remained at a total of two XC races each year for the past few years. The first being the BC Championships and the second being the National Championships. Let me state though that after finishing 34th overall at Nationals last year I pretty much decided that I was giving up on XC and would not run it in 2013. Here we are in 2013 and I have committed to another season. 

The BC Championships took place at Clearbrook Park in Abbotsford BC last Saturday October 26th. My race wasn't until 2:30pm so I was able to spend Friday night at home and then take the 8:30am ferry over to the mainland. Last year, leading into the race, we had a lot of rain making the course and fields pretty sopping wet. This year was the reverse, very little rains meant a dry course. In fact, spikes weren't really needed and in the end I kind of wish I never wore them! I will get to that later though. 

Having taken the 8:30am ferry, I arrived to Abbotsford real early, probably around 11:30. The 10:30 ferry would have been ideal time wise, but everything would have to have happened smoothly without any delays. To avoid the stress, I opted for the earlier ferry. This allowed me to relax when I got there, see some of the Nanaimo Track and Field kids and other friends. 

I should rewind for a minute and state that for the first time in ages (a year actually) I pulled out my XC Spikes from the closest on Friday night only to find out that I apparently had forgotten to wash them after Nationals last November. Mud caked on but surprisingly they didn't smell too horrible. I washed up both pairs (not sure when I wore the other ones but they were muddy too) and then put newspaper inside them so they would dry. I took out the insoles and wrapped them in paper too. 

Fastforward back to the race, at about 1:10pm (20 minutes before my warm up) I got my gear ready. I had grabbed both pairs of spikes before I left in the morning as I wasn't sure which I wanted to race in. At this time, I decided which pair I wanted to race in and then realized that I had left the insoles at home still wrapped in paper next to the fireplace. Ugh. At least the other ones had insoles in them. Unfortunately I wasn't smart enough at the time to even consider trying the insoles in the other pair of spikes, not until someone else pointed it out right before the race. 

Nevertheless, I got everything ready and then went out for my warm up. It's funny, I was more nervous for this race than I was for racing San Jose earlier in the month. I guess cause so far XC has been my nemesis. 

Eventually 2:30pm came and we were off on our way. My plan was simply to go hard or go home. I had nothing to lose. I went out with the lead pack and stuck with them for most of the first of three loops until Rachel Cliff, Sabrina Wilkie and Sarah Iginlis started to pull away. On the second lap I realized my legs were not really there. Alison Jackson pulled ahead of me and I did my best to hang on. 

First lap hill



Heading into 2nd lap

Finally on the 3rd lap, I started to feel a bit better and gained some ground. I noticed that Sarah had fallen off and I slowly starting gaining on her. With probably 1km left, I passed her and she tried to go with me. Thankfully, she didn't have it and I pushed on to finish in 4th place. That earned me some greatly needed $$ and a spot on Team BC for the National Championships at Jericho Beach on November 30th.


 TGTD (Thank God That's Done) Spikes in hand!

Pretty sure the first things I said when I crossed the line was "I hate XC" and then "Spikes suck" or something along those lines as I proceeded to remove my spikes right then and there. Overall for top 6 it finished Rachel, Sabrina, Alison, Myself, Sarah and then Lisa Brooking. I did a nice cool down while cheering on the men in their 10km and then headed off back to catch the 7pm ferry home. 

 Results are found here

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Canada Running Series

2013 is coming to an end in less than 2 months. Most people are winding down their fall race season which means the planning for 2014 begins! For those with access to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal areas, I highly suggest to include some of these races into your plan! 

I myself have done the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal twice, Scotiabank Vancouver Half once and the Oasis ZooRun 10km twice and have had a blast at each one. 

The races themselves are put on by the Canada Running Series, which includes the ever so awesome Alan Brookes who has been a HUGE supporter of elite running throughout Canada. They even offer combo packs, such as the West Combo pack which includes $5 off if you register for 2 races at the same time or $10 off if you register for all 3 races at the same time. Just think, that is 5-10 bucks that you can put towards a post race beer! What are you waiting for?! I want to see you out at the races! 

Registration for these races is open NOW at www.RunCRS.ca

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

RnR San Jose Half 2013

Another weekend, another trip away. I could get used to this! Some people hate traveling and would prefer to race close to home or somewhere where they can drive to and from. I on the other hand love traveling. I love getting away, leaving reality of work behind and exploring a new place. Ignore the fact that I am generally not in these places very long so there is very little exploring; however, I am still getting to experience new cities and take part in new adventures. 

I had been in talks with Vancouver Master's runner Catherine Watkins since late spring/early summer about this race (Rock n Roll San Jose). The last 5 years I have spent (Canadian) Thanksgiving in Victoria taking part in the Royal Victoria/Goodlife Fitness Victoria half marathon or 8km events. This year, I wanted a change. Don't get me wrong, Victoria is an excellent event and I will definitely go back, I just needed something different. 

Over time, we also heard that a small group from Vancouver was heading down, which included Natasha Wodak, Sabrina Wilkie, Dylan Wykes and Richard Mosely. Plus their coach Richard Lee. While we only were able to see them on race day, it was nice to see some familiar faces down there. 

I headed over to Vancouver on the 10:40am ferry and then took the bus/sky train to YVR. 

One of my cats telling me not to go again

See you Nanaimo

There I met up with Catherine for our 3:25pm flight and we started our adventure. 

Terrible touristy airplane shot!

First up was a short layover in Portland and then onto San Jose were we arrived around 9:30pm. The nice thing about San Jose is the airport is literally a few miles from downtown where the race was being held and where our hotel was. 

Flying into Portland

Mt St Helens I believe

San Jose @ Night

We settled in and called it a night. The next morning we woke up to beautiful sun shine and warmth. We did our pre race shake out and both of us thought "this feels awful." In fact, all week felt lousy for me (and Catherine too apparently). This tends to happen to me when my overall quality and mileage drops. The taper tricks my body into feeling crappy apparently. Pretty sure I am not the only one. After some drills and strides, my legs felt a bit better which was a nice change. 

Pre-race run

Palm Trees!!
The rest of the day we hit up the expo, some groceries, some lunch and then attempted to find a better grocery store as the Safeway didn't have enough options. We became lazy whiny runners when it came to finding the Trader Joe's and everywhere we walked seemed to be so far away. We ended up catching a cab to the store and then also home. In fact, as we waited for the cab for the return trip we were told 5-15 minutes. I swear we waited longer than that and I even began to warn Catherine "I am starting to get crabby" lol. Just as we asked one lady about getting back to town, our cab showed up. Go figure. 


Sharks Suck ;)

After that we relaxed all afternoon and then went out to dinner, which was lousy (Old Spaghetti Factory). The rest of the night, we relaxed while I annoyed Catherine with hockey talk/updates as I watched the game on my phone. The Sharks were playing that night (Canucks game was not on TV) and there were Sharks jersey's everywhere at dinner. The hockey addict in me found it hard to be around! If only we had beaten the Sharks on the Thursday.

We went to bed at a decent time and I spent the night with my usual routine of many trips to the bathroom. I think I fell asleep by 10:30pm and had been up 3 times by 12:30am. The third time I woke up I felt so rested I swore it was almost time for the alarm which was set for 5:45am. Needless to say I was shocked to see 12:30am.

When we did get up, I went to have my breakfast of some bread that I brought from home with Jam only to find a bit of white on the bread. I broke that piece off as it didn't really look like mold so I figured it was just due to flying. I mean I did buy a brand new loaf just before leaving so it should have been good until Monday. I started to take a few bites and I realized that it smelled rather funny. At that point, I threw the bread out. Now what? Well the only thing I had left was a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin, so that is what I had. Not the most ideal breakfast, but it was something. 

Race morning

We headed downstairs to the elite room at about 7am (race start 8am) and shortly after the rest of the crew arrived. A warm up with the girls and I noticed my legs felt pretty decent. Shortly before 8am we were on the line and for once I felt warmed up and ready as I got in most of my drills and strides and did not feel rushed. Today was going to be a good day. 

Race start (I am on the right near Tasha but you can't see me behind some guy)

The race went off and I found myself side by side with Sabrina, in which we have been in pretty much all race since the Sun Run back in April. In fact, I ran most of the race with Sabrina and I will be honest, this was not planned. I had not talked to Sabrina about her plan or goals. I figured we would likely be similar, but I did not know for sure. I knew my plan was to go out at 3:40km's and that would hopefully feel good for the first 10km and then pick it up from there if I could. 


Sabrina and I were pretty much side by side for the first 10km though at one point I looked down at my watch and saw we were running a 3:26km which I said "oh crap" and pulled back. She pressed on slightly in front, but I pulled even again not long later. We hit 5km at 18:27 and then 10km at 36:49. Around 10km I took a gel and for a moment it disagreed with me, so I fell off Sabrina by about 15-20m but thankfully it passed and I pulled her back. 

I missed the 10 mile mat completely and immediately I thought, oh crap, people (my coach and family etc) are going to think I dropped. Sabrina hit the mat right beside me but I was off to the left. So based on her time we crossed 10 miles at 59:11. Shortly after that Sabrina surged a bit and I had another short moment of weakness and fell off again by like 15m. We could see about 3 women ahead (we were in 6th and 7th) who we were slowly creeping back on. I decided to keep it conservative and to stay within striking distance as I didn't want to bring up some mental issues I have had in previous races.

We tracked down a few girls and one of them tried to go with me, but eventually she fell off. I also pulled back Sabrina and was right behind her and another girl named Ramona. We hit what we thought was the final corner and I saw both Sabrina and Ramona start to sprint so I went with them. We rounded the corner and I thought "where the heck is the finish." Turns out we had one more corner. We hit that corner and I heard "You can beat her this time" which happened to be Sabrina's coach Rich. I don't blame him for yelling it as I have out sprinted Sabrina a few times in the last few months. 

I saw the clock for the first time and saw it in the 1:16:3X. I gave it a pretty good kick (my final 200m on my garmin said 2:54/km) and unfortunately watched the clock click over into 1:17 before I could get there. I crossed the line in what I thought was 3rd as my chest crossed the line first, but I saw that Ramona was right there ever so slightly behind me. I was handed the 3rd place award for finishing in 1:17:03 with Ramona right there and then Sabrina in 1:17:06. 

When I saw the results later, I saw Ramona was in some and I was listed 4th in 1:20:03 and then others that didn't list Ramona and listed me in 3rd in 1:17:03. In the end, I was awarded 3rd but was confused what happened to Ramona. I just looked at the results now and see they have put Ramona back in 3rd in 1:17:02. Umm... I thought to myself that I am like 99% sure my chest crossed that line first. Then I remembered, it was a timing tag on the shoe unlike most Canadian bibs where the timing chip is on the bib on your chest. Races are always won by the chest not the foot, so this makes sense. My guess is that I crossed the line with my non timing chipped foot, whereas she must have crossed with her one that had the timing chip. 

Based on the fact that my chest crossed first, I still say and feel as though I finished 3rd, even if the results don't reflect that. Timing chips should be on both feet if that is the case, not one. Come on USA, get with the times. Learn from Racedaytiming.ca and sportstats.ca that chips go on the bib! Chest first! 

The girls and I had a real slow cool down, then Natasha, Sabrina, Dylan, Richard and Rich left for the airport. I stayed for the awards with Catherine before we went back to the hotel and sat pool side later that afternoon. I flew home the next morning and Catherine not until Monday evening. 

Waiting for awards

2nd place Megan Deakins and myself 

Flowers I won that I gifted to a girl at the front desk before I left

Overall it was a great weekend. I am once again 99% happy with the race. I broke my best time of 1:19:57 from last October after a couple of less than ideal half marathons earlier this spring. The only disappointment was being 4 seconds from 1:16:59 where I could have brought home $250. Not to mention 1:16:xx sounds better than 1:17:0x ;) It just makes me hungry for the next one!

Results can be found here! Congrats to Natasha on her win! 

Post race photos

Sabrina, Tasha, Myself, Catherine

Sabrina, Catherine and me

Funny shot of the day. Came out of the hotel and saw this. Being a care aide in a seniors facility, it reminded me of a deceased body.

Various San Jose photos

Morning I left

Flying out of San Jose- BOOOOOO (any idea what that is?)


The pool on the right is the Fairmont. Hello Catherine who was spending the day at the pool!