Thursday, March 20, 2014

NACAC- Race Day

See Part 1 here

The next morning Sabrina and I slept through breakfast and woke up at 9:30am. We headed over to the course to jog it as a shakeout as it was supposed to be fully marked and we wanted to see the proper course. We opted to jog most of it and walk the uphills. Legs again felt not too bad. It was warm out but a little cloud cover and constant breeze was okay. We then went and relaxed, had lunch and then more relaxing. 

Pre Race Shakeout with Sabrina Wilkie

Just when I wanted to have an afternoon nap, it was time to get ready for the race. 

We headed over and found out the junior girls started 10 minutes early, which worried us and we altered our plan to start warm up an hour early instead of the planned 50 minutes. The junior women set the bar high, finishing 1-2-3 (Jamie, Jillian, Claire) and taking Team Gold. The junior men were up next and just after their start, we began our warm up. Junior men (Ben) took silver and also Team Silver. 

Junior Women Podium

They then held the junior awards while we finished warming up. Again it was warm but not too bad plus the junior women who ran 4km said it wasn’t too bad out there. Once the awards were over, we actually started our race a few minutes early as well (shortly after 4pm instead of 4:10pm). 

The race was held at the golf course on the property of the hotel. It started out flat and then went downhill before making a sharp left turn through a rooted section with tree coverage. From there it went out and did a somewhat short loop around that specific hole. 

When we turned back, we were running on a sloped surface where the left was higher than the right. This entire section was slightly uphill before we veered off left again through another rooted and treed section and a slight downhill. Then the course popped out on another hole and had another slight up, before a slight down and then a nice steep climb. As Lynn said “it’s short and sweet” though in actuality it wasn’t THAT short. Short enough to not kill you, but long and steep enough to hurt. 

Up the top of the hill we turn right through a rooted section and then a sharp left slightly up and then down again across a green. We had a somewhat flat loop at this section which eventually looped us around to the right and back towards the start/finish. At the end of the loop was another slight up and then briefly flat before we hit the longer steep downhill. Once we hit the bottom of that we veered to the right and climbed up either toward the finish or up towards the top green to start another loop. This was where they had water, which mostly was just tossed over my head or down my back. No mud of course, unlike Vancouver Nationals, but definitely enough hills to make it more challenging.

So now you know about the course, I assume you want to know how the race played out. Well initially the race went out fast (like any race) down the first downhill and then settled down for a bit. The first loop was fairly easy and the pack was pretty close together. 

At the start of the 2nd lap people started to make moves. I could see out front that I believe my teammate Jessica and Kellyn Johnson from the States had taken the lead. I continued to plod along and push the pace and didn’t feel too bad. 

Down the first hill

First loop

The 3rd and final lap though, I just wasn’t aggressive enough. I never attempted to pick up the pace and instead just cruised. Big mistake. It was hot and it was humid and during this lap I think is when I really started to notice it. As I said, I did take a water bottle on every lap, taking a sip for my dry mouth then dumping the rest over my head and down my back. The big downhill crushed me each time though I did my best to let go as best as I could and let the legs fly. My teammate Sabrina passed me not far into the 2nd lap. She gapped me a little bit throughout the race but never too far. 

Short Sweet Hill

Down the final hill she gapped me slightly more and then on the final uphill towards the finish I was catching her again; however, I simply ran out of time. Not a big deal for team points though, as we get the same points no matter if I finished in front or if she did. In the end, Rachel was 2nd, Jessica was 4th, Sabrina was 9th, I was 10th and Leslie was 12th

Finish (little bit tight in the shoulders apparently)

After the finish our coaches threw cold towels over us. A few of the girls were just spent at the finish; however, other than being a bit hot I felt fine. Instantly when Leslie finished I said “where is Jodi, I thought Jodi was the next Canadian behind me.” I looked around at my teammates to make sure I hadn’t missed her and I was right. Word got around that Jodi fell on the final downhill. Our therapist Paula started to run towards the hill where she fell, when someone yelled that Jodi was coming up in the golf cart. This is where things took a scary turn. Jodi didn’t just “fall,” Jodi collapsed on course with less than 500m to go.

I watched as they transferred Jodi from the golf cart to the medical tent and she was limp. She was unconscious. I ended up giving her my cold towel and medics through ice all over her. She was thankfully breathing but after 5 minutes, no one could get her conscious to even take any fluids in. The decision was made to send her to the hospital, so off she went with 2 of our staff. It was pretty scary to watch and we all worried about her health after that but we figured she would be in good hands and likely just needed some hydration. 

Rachel Hannah and myself

 Senior Women (minus Jodi)

Senior Women with Coach Lynn

The mens race after was delayed as they announced they couldn’t start until an ambulance was on scene. You see, for the junior races it was slightly cloudy and somewhat cooler; however, once we started to race the sun came out and gave little to no reprieve. It remained hot for the guys as well. During the mens race we women did our cool down running around the course cheering. Uh oh, my legs felt fine compared to what I was hearing around me. Lesson learned, maybe I didn’t quite push hard enough? Easy to say after, but based on my legs I felt like I could run for hours.

In the end our Junior girls took 1-2-3 and the Team Gold. Our Junior men took silver in the race plus Team Silver. Our Senior women took bronze in the race and then Team Silver and our Senior men took Team Silver. We all hung around after taking team photos and pictures of the sunset. We then took off from the course and hit the beach for a quick swim just as the sun went down before dinner. 

Senior Women Podium

Senior Women

 Senior and Junior Women

 Cheesy trophy shot!

Senior women with Barry and Saheed

The rest of the trip was spent just hanging out around the hotel where I spent some time with Team USA and was told I fit the typical stereotype of being “Canadian” which was basically being super nice. Well then those senior men and women could be Canadian too as they were super nice, if it wasn’t for some of their silly accents. ;)

We got up the next morning and went for an hour run at 6:30. I don’t think I was supposed to run, but honestly I couldn’t turn down another run in the sunshine and warmth, especially knowing that it was freaking snowing back home. We left the hotel at 9am and headed back to the Tobago airport. Ryan, Thomas, Jessy and I had a flight at 10:40am to Trinidad whereas the rest of the team had flights at 11:10. We all met up in Trinidad though for the flight back to Toronto.

Overall the flights were uneventful and I even caught some sleep on the way home. In Toronto we all said our goodbyes as some groups were heading back to Vancouver or Calgary and others were heading out around Ontario. Us island people (Ryan, Thomas and myself) spent the night in Toronto due to no connecting flights out of Vancouver that night. It sounds like it was good too because both the Vancouver and Calgary people ran into problems with delayed and oversold flights so they got home much later than planned.

We instead went out to dinner with team manager Kristine and had a nice sleep before the boys caught their 8am flight back to Victoria and I caught my 10am flight (where I am currently in the air right now) back to Vancouver along with Chris who was our physio and stayed the night at friends). I get into Vancouver in about an hour (around 11:30am) and then wait until my 2:50pm flight to the island. Hopefully I can sneak onto an earlier flight.

This trip was amazing. The way everyone got along made it even more fun and I honestly am going to miss everyone. It is amazing the way runners can bond in just a few days. Both the race and experience have taught me lessons, given me experience and have made me extremely hungry for the future. The dreams are growing and getting bigger. I can’t wait!

Post race sunset!

Sunset selfie with Rachel!

Full Senior Women's team with Jodi! 

 Myself with Lynn Kanuka

Back home to a foot and a half of snow =(

Within 36 hours I went from running in this....

 .... to running in this

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

NACAC 2014 - Pre Race

Team Canada 2014

Here I sit starting this blog while on the plane from Trinidad toward Toronto. I will be honest, I don’t want to go home. Sure I miss things at home, but being away is almost like living the dream and being away from the real world. I have said the same thing when it comes to being in Flagstaff before. Heading home means going back to the real world (aka regular life/work). This trip has been amazing, such a great experience and one that I will never forget. I hope that this is my first Team Canada trip and it has left me with the drive to want to improve even more.

It all started on Wednesday morning. I left Nanaimo on the 10:30am ferry for my short little 15 minute flight over to Vancouver. From there I met up with the West Coast Team Canada, which included Sabrina Wilkie, Theo Hunt, Ryan Cassidy, Thomas Getty and coach Lynn Kanuka. We all gathered on our flight then from Vancouver to Toronto which left at 12pm and arrived at around 7:15pm Eastern. There we met up with the rest of Team Canada, which really is too many to name right now. We had about 3 hours to relax before we were off on our 10:30pm flight from Toronto to Port of Spain in Trinidad.

Catching the last bit of the Canada vs Latvia game at YVR
I kept myself awake on the Vancouver to Toronto flight with plans of sleeping on the Toronto to Trinidad flight; however, I quickly found out I was unable to sleep. I was sitting with coach Rob and Lynn and I don’t think any of us slept very much. We arrived in Trinidad sometime between 5am and 5:30 (can’t remember the exact time) as they are 1 hour ahead of Eastern and 4 hours ahead of Pacific. Another few hour layover and around 7:30 we were off on the flight from Trinidad to Tobago finally arriving around 8am (I think). I might add that it wasn’t until this short flight that I finally felt I could fall asleep; however, at this point it was too late. Go figure!

Killing time in Trinidad

Hello Tobago!

We had a bit of a wait outside the airport for our bus, but thankfully it was in the shade so we weren’t overheating. Plus the breeze in the shade made it kind of nice. Finally the buses came and we were off to the hotel with quick pit stops on the way at a grocery store and a fruit stand. We arrived at the hotel, checked in and a bunch of us immediately got ready to go for our run. 

Luggage Transportation

The legs were certainly feeling the effects of the travel (basically 10:30am Pacific to 4:30am not including the waiting at the airport and stops along the way to the hotel). It also didn’t help that we followed the route the boys too which resulted in us climbing a pretty steep hill (more like mountain) for quite a while. We made it to the top and it started to go down the other side. We went down slightly and then opted to turn around as we didn’t want to have to run back up.


In the end we chose to run on the busy road. We had been warned not to run on the road due to crazy drivers (they drive on the left) but it turned out to be alright. In fact, us girls were honked at quite often and not in any mean nasty way. They were friendly honks, waving and hollering coming from the cars, even the police and fire that went by. I guess they enjoyed seeing a group of white girls running in sports bras and shorts! I got in a nice and relaxed 45 minutes that day.

We got back and showered, had something to eat and then most of us opted to go on the Team Canada excursion which was to go out on a boat snorkeling. I am not a huge water person, but I figured I would give it a try as I didn’t want to end up regretting not going. The water was simply beautiful. I love a good beach with nice blue water. The tour ended up being pretty neat, the snorkeling however, yeah that wasn’t for me. 

Heading to the boat

The Boat

A few of us didn’t last very long out there. Unfortunately I am not the strongest swimmer and they didn’t provide us with any floatation devices or even flippers. Man flippers would have made things WAY easier. Instead the water was choppy, I along with many others swallowed too much salt water (which is nasty as can be) so we ended up calling it a day. I think we lasted 5 minutes? No more than 10 for sure.

The ones who didn’t snorkel spent the time enjoying the boat and keeping an eye on the ones in the water. They certainly had fun. Damn them water babies! We stopped at an island party that appeared so random; however, it probably wasn’t. We even joined in a massive conga line until we had to head back as our time was up and the bus would be waiting. Overall it was a fun day and even though the snorkeling wasn’t the best experience for a few of us, I think we all could agree that we are glad we at least tried it.
 Rachel Hannah and me

Team Canada on a sandbar 

The rest of the evening was spent having supper and then relaxing. I attempted to catch the VIU Mariners Men’s Volleyball team play in their provincial championships; however, the wifi at the hotel was so spotty and crappy that I only caught bits here and there between the screen buffering. Unfortunately after going down 2 sets to 0, VIU rallied back to tie it 2-2 but lost in the 5th set to end their season. I head to bed after that and for the first time in ages I felt asleep right as my head hit the pillow. That NEVER happens with me. I guess being up for something like 36 hours with minimal sleep had something to do with that, but man was it ever glorious not to spend at least an hour tossing and turning.

The next day though, I woke up pretty groggy. In fact, I felt more awake before I went to sleep the night before. Weird how that happens. Friday was spent mostly relaxing. Some team meetings, lunch and at 4:30pm we headed over to check out the course. Most of us did our run on the course, though it wasn’t fully marked so we had to go by the coaches memory as to which way the 2nd half of the course went. We ended up ultimately getting the route wrong (ours was too long) and they changed the course slightly anyways. I got in 40 minutes plus a few strides that night and it wasn’t too bad. They legs felt better than the day before. 

Course Tour
Headed towards the shorter steeper hill

Long steep downhill near the end of the loop

Selfie with Leslie Sexton, Claire Smith (junior) and myself

Team Handshake?

Sunset post course tour

That night was dinner and relaxing, chilling with some of Team USA and simply hanging out until bed. I didn’t fall asleep quite so easy that night, but it still wasn’t as bad as when I am at home. 

Finally got the live stream Canada vs USA game in the 3rd period.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in the next day or 2 (hopefully)! It is written, I just have to add photos!

Senior women plus Jessy! (L-R) Jessy, Sabrina, Rachel, Jodi, Myself, Leslie, Jessica)

Senior women plus coaches Lynn and Rob

PS. Shout out to Jaimie Phelan and Athletics Canada for some of the photos I used!