Category Archives: race recap

A belated recap: #Racegiving weekend 2013

By waiting until now to post about my Thanksgiving, I can almost pretend I did it on purpose to be closer to American Thanksgiving, right?? I’m not quite sure how I decided to turn my Thanksgiving long weekend into a three-race weekend, but somehow it happened. This is what my #Racegiving weekend looked like.

Friday, October 11 – race 1 – ElectroDash 5k

I hadn’t even heard of this run until Tommy asked if I wanted to join him and Alastair. It was a fun untimed run similar to Color Me Rad (and I think put on by the same people). It was not as much fun as Color Me Rad, which we’d done the weekend before. I’m glad I got a discount on my registration, because I think I would have been disappointed if I’d paid full price. The highlight for me was probably the ridiculous glowstick extravaganza we had on the sidewalk beforehand, putting together the bracelets and necklaces and all that nonsense.

Saturday, October 12 – race-free day

All I did on Saturday was travel to Victoria with Pippa, hang out with her puppy, go for a walk on the beach, eat greek food and watch Up. It was delightful.

Not a bad view!

What a beautiful day to travel!

Sunday, October 13 – race 2 – GoodLife Fitness Victoria 8k Road Race
We got up bright and early to make it downtown for the 7:15 start. We hit the bathroom, waited until the last minute to check our warm clothes, and then headed to the start line. Pippa and I always start races together, even though we don’t wind up running together for more than about 30 seconds. After we crossed the start line I said good luck to Pippa and set off. I didn’t really have much of a goal for this race, other than to finish in one piece, unlike last year. I was pretty confident that I would beat last year’s time, so I just wanted to enjoy it. 
Pippa's all ready to go!

Pippa’s all ready to go!

The course is beautiful, it goes out along Dallas Road to Beacon Hill Park and back. You’re running just as the sun is coming up and it starts to get light out. The temperature is pretty perfect (though both years I’ve been there it’s been dry, I’m not sure it would have been as wonderful in the rain). These are some of the reasons I’m hoping to make Victoria my first marathon next year.

I met my goal of finishing pain free and came in at 45:15, 5 and a half minutes better than last year’s time. After collecting my medal, I collected the next most important thing – snacks! And then my sweatshirt. Then I ran into my friend Steve, who was there supporting various family members – their Thanksgiving tradition. I didn’t even have time to eat my pudding before it was time to go back to the finish to see Pippa, who shaved a similar amount of time off her previous year’s 8k.

I love this medal!

I love this medal!

The next priority was brunch – a delicious eggs benedict (my absolute favourite post-race meal) – and then it was back to Pippa’s mum’s house for a shower, and before I knew it I was back on a ferry again. I ran into a girl from my soccer team on the ferry and got a ride back to Port Moody for dinner with the family. I managed not to drink too much wine or eat too many potatoes, which I think is probably some kind of miracle.  I made it home at a somewhat reasonable hour and was able to get to sleep with not too much trouble.

Monday, October 14 – race 3 – Granville Island Turkey Trot 10k

When I woke up on Monday, my body was definitely tired. My achilles was kind of sore, so I put on my brace/sleeve thing and promised myself I wouldn’t push it too hard. If it hurt, I wouldn’t run.

The first 5k felt pretty darn good. In the next 2 I started to get kind of sore. And then around 7.75 km it changed from sore to pain. So I called it. I would walk the rest. I rethought that decision for a moment at the 8k marker when I realized that even at a very slow run I could still come in under an hour. I tried a few more steps at a run, and quickly realized it wasn’t meant to be.

I did pull off a sort of half-jog step for this photo op though.

I did pull off a sort of half-jog step for this photo op though.

As someone who looks like they should be able to finish a 10k running, I sure get a lot of funny looks when I slow down to a walk. One kind older gentleman even shouted encouragingly, “You can still break 60 if you push the rest of it!” Which some days, might have been just the push I needed, but that day I was proud of myself for being smart enough to walk.

I did run the last 40m or so, which resulted in one of my favourite race pictures of all time.

That's some serious pushing through pain right there.

That’s some serious pushing through pain right there.

It’s even better when you zoom in!

I'm so attractive.

I’m so attractive.

So after collecting my medal (which was a total surprise, I wasn’t expecting a medal!) and sampling some of the delicious food, I hobbled home and spent the next several days in compression socks. Luckily all my achilles really needed was some rest and some paying attention to how I was adding mileage.

November 20

Blog post: Yet another one
Run: I was reluctant to leave the house at 7:30 pm on a cold, dark November evening, and if it weren’t for the #beaststreak I probably wouldn’t have. But I had an AMAZING 5k run, so I’m really glad I went.


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A very belated race recap: Disneyland Half Marathon 2013

I wrote about the beginning and the end of the trip here if you’re so inclined.

Sunday, September 1 – RACE DAY

3:45 came really early, but I can honestly say I’ve never been so excited to wake up that early. Three of the four of us put on our costumes: Tinkerbell, Peter Pan and Mike Wazowski. We were laughing about the fact that we’d all picked characters that involved green outfits when Mirae emerged from the bathroom in her green t-shirt – totally unplanned!

Tinkerbell is ready to rock!

Tinkerbell is ready to rock!

We left the hotel at 4:30 for the short walk to the start area. There were runners everywhere! So many awesome costumes! So much energy ALREADY! We found a nice spot in the crowded corrals and tried not to think about how warm we already were (it was about 20C if I recall correctly). Before we knew it, it was 5:30, the fireworks had gone off and we were crossing the start line.

We ran down Disneyland Drive, turned onto Katella (“Hey, there’s our hotel!”) and onto Harbor Blvd. At Disney Way, we turned in towards the back of California Adventure. The road was lined with Disney staff cheering for us and some neat props. We left Mirae at some point around here. She had told us that she wanted to run most of the race on her own. We assured her that she wouldn’t slow us down, but she said she preferred to do her own thing. Tommy, Alastair and I wanted to run together, and we weren’t sure how that would go, but we figured we’d give it a shot.

We entered California Adventure from Paradise Pier and they had all the lights and fountains on. Lots of people stopped to take photos. I snapped some blurry ones while running. We ran through Cars Land, which looked super cool with all the neon, and then back across by Soarin’ Over California. Tommy called a bathroom stop, so the boys used the bathroom while I fixed my hair. I had grossly underestimated how tightly I needed to secure my Tinkerbell bun situation. I’m glad I got a chance to fix it though.

Then we left CA and ran through the plaza and into Disneyland. As cool as it was to run through California Adventure all lit up, coming down Main Street USA was the part that felt the most magical. After that, we hung a left into Frontierland and took Big Thunder Trial around Thunder Mountain. At one point there is an ever-so-slight incline on this part and we laughed hysterically when one woman said to her running partner, “The hill I trained on is, like, four times this big.” What?

We waved to lots of characters as we ran through Fantasyland (including Peter Pan!) and pretty soon we were approaching the back of the castle. As expected, the traffic went kind of wonky at this point as everyone slowed down or pulled over to get their photo taken in front of the castle. We just kept moving. We ran through Tomorrowland and past It’s a Small World – I slowed down to snap a blurry photo of Merida as I ran by her. At this point we knew we were heading out of the parks pretty soon and tried our best to soak in as much Disney atmosphere as we could.

As we came up into Toon Town, a shirtless dude with a GIANT camera asked me if he could take my photo for Team Sparkle. Sure!

Thanks Team Sparkle guy

Thanks Team Sparkle guy

We ran out the back of Toon Town and along a lane. More Disney cast members cheering, more neat props to look at, and even some horses! Then we headed north on Disneyland Drive and turned left on Ball Rd, which took us up and over the I-5 (about 7 km in). The sky was starting to get brighter and it was slowly starting to get warmer. (My handana was already drenched, but I’m so glad I had it.)

The next 5 km were the toughest for me. The heat was definitely affecting me. Alastair’s knees started to really hurt (which was not a surprise, he has terrible knees and knew it was going to be brutally painful). We started walking through all the water stations (and a little bit longer afterwards). At just past 10k we celebrated Tommy and Alastair’s farthest runs ever.

To make up for the super boring Anaheim streets you run through at this stretch, they have lots of folks out there to entertain you. I remember seeing some tiny and adorable Mexican dancers. I think there were high school bands and cheerleaders along this part. But the coolest bit was where they had the classic cars lined up along both sides of the road and their owners are all out there cheering you on. Lots of them were offering candy and snacks, but the best thing I saw was the woman with a roll of paper towel she was sharing with sweaty runners. (We were so sweaty.)

We were also running due east for a lot of this part, just as the sun was coming up over the horizon. I had decided against sunglasses, because when I sweat a lot I find that they slide around or fog up or both. I stared at the pavement a lot.

Things started to get interesting again as we approached the Honda Centre (home of the Ducks). Then we turned and ran about a kilometer on a gravel trail along the Santa Ana “River” – I’m pretty sure it was totally dry. This was a really nice change of scenery. When we turned up away from the river again, we had arrived at Angel Stadium! I’m not a baseball fan at all, but I’d heard really cool things about this part of the race.

From the moment we entered the parking lot, the course was lined by people. People with signs, snacks, noisemakers of all kinds. It was really cool. And then we ran into the stadium. WOW. They invite local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to sit in the stadium and they spend hours just cheering for runners! The feeling of running into a stadium of people cheering was REALLY cool. It totally surprised me how much I enjoyed it.

Coming out of the stadium there were a whole bunch of cheerleading teams and bands again. Pretty neat. Then we ran back towards the I-5 and along sort of a frontage road. Not the most interesting stretch. At this point I had to walk a little bit more frequently than we had been. Poor Alastair though was actually in more pain walking, so I tried to keep it to a minimum. Tommy seemed to be doing okay, just very quiet. I still can’t believe how well he did for his first half marathon with his longest ever previous run being a 10k, and his “training” totaling about 10-15k per week. (Stupid boys.)

Finally we crossed under the freeway (thank goodness we didn’t have to go up over an overpass at this point) and were back on Disney Way heading right for the park. At about 19.5k crossed Harbor Boulevard and ran back into the Disney grounds where we’d run already on our way into California Adventure. (“Hey, we’ve run here before!”) This time we stayed outside of the park and made our way back to Downtown Disney toward the finish line.

Another one from Team Sparkle

Another one from Team Sparkle

As discussed, we crossed the finish line holding hands triumphantly. (Which doesn’t show up in the race photos. Tommy and I are there, but Alastair’s arm is cut off.) We got our medals and water and cold towels (my goodness was this ever amazing) and took a few photos. Then it was straight to the medical area to get some ice for Alastair’s broken knees. They had bags upon bags upon bags of ice, plus rolls of tape to affix them to your aching body. It was pretty cool.

I stood watch over the crowd going by and managed to somehow miraculously spot Mirae as she came in, only a few minutes behind us. We wrangled our gimp and went back to get a group photo with all of us (not facing the sun this time!) We found some space (by the porta-potties) and stood/sat around for a while eating snacks, stretching, etc. Then it was time to wander back to the hotel for breakfast, ice baths and other such recovery.

Alastair was captain of team ice bath. We discovered that the runDisney bags they give you for gear check are the perfect ice transporting devices. I think he made 3 or 4 trips to the ice machine with that bag. Watching someone take their first ice bath is priceless. Both Alastair and Tommy braved the bath for 8 minutes. I was planning to take an ice bath too, but I didn’t last longer than about a minute. I don’t know if I got in too fast or if it was just the shock of going from being so warm to being so cold, but I kind of panicked as I got in, and then was hyperventilating? It wasn’t a good scene. I got out.

Bag of ice!

Bag of ice!

After we all showered and had some breakfast and coffee, we packed up our beach stuff and walked (very slowly) 15 minutes down the road to Budget to pick up our rental car. We picked up some lunch (my first In’N’Out burger!) and drove to Huntington Beach, where we had a lovely afternoon sitting on the beach and playing in the waves. (Spending half an hour in the ocean is way more my speed when it comes to ice baths!)

Rocking our race shirts at the beach

Rocking our race shirts at the beach

We wandered around Downtown Disney in our medals that evening, and then had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory again. Our intention was to order cheesecake for dessert this time, but we were all so full by that point that we didn’t.

My stats for half marathon #5 (the slowest one yet!)

Finish time: 2:20:44
10k split: 1:08:52
Overall Place: 3567/15872
Gender Place: 1517/10017
Division Place: 142/837

(You can see my fun race results page here)


November 14

Blog: The other half of the Disneyland story
Run: Evening 4.4k with the run clinic

November 15

Blog: You’re looking at it
Run: Early morning (!) 3k. In the rain. Yuck.

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A very belated race recap: Dublin Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon

Alternate title: The onions in Dublin are making me cry

Here’s another race recap that I’m only getting around to posting now!

On race morning we woke up, got dressed and were downstairs waiting when they opened breakfast. I had some toast with Nutella and some water. (Not too much of a departure from my normal pre-race breakfast. Would have loved to have a banana too, but that’s okay.) Our hostel was only a few blocks from the start, so it took us less than 10 minutes to walk there. The buses were on strike that weekend, so most people were turning up on foot.

We hung out in the start area for quite a while, went to the bathroom, took some pictures, and I began to worry about how little I’d been running in the last little while. I started doubting my clothing choice (shorts vs the capris I usually wear), my food consumption the day before, my choice not to bring my Garmin watch, and many other details that it was way too late to worry about. I tried not to let my worry show too much because I didn’t want to freak Pippa out.

Pre-race at St Stephen's Green

Pre-race at St Stephen’s Green

Eventually we got all settled into our corral and before we knew it we were off. After we crossed the start line, I said goodbye and good luck to Pippa and told her I’d see her at the finish. (And I think I almost cried.)

The course left from St Stephen’s Green and we quickly made our way down to the River Liffey. We ran along past St James’s Gate (aka where the Guinness comes from!) and then crossed the river as we made our way into Phoenix Park. We ran along a road with a wide grassy median that went gradually uphill. As we made it to the crest of the hill, we turned to the left and came down a winding road out of the park. The views at this part were amazing! Somewhere on our way down the hill we passed the 10k mark and timing mat.

Still looking pretty happy at this point!

Still looking pretty happy at this point!

My plan had been to do 10-and-1s for this race to make up for the fact that I would probably attempt to run at a pace that was faster than I was fit enough to run. Somewhere around 10k that turned into 9-and-2s. After a few of those, there started to be more walk breaks. My lack of training (or really any recent running at all) was starting to catch up with me.

I can’t really describe where the rest of the race went, and I can’t seem to access the map on the website anymore. The second half wasn’t as scenic as the first half, but it was still really cool to be exploring a new city on foot.

As the race wound back into the main part of the city, there were more and more spectators out, which was awesome. But I was getting more and more tired and really not feeling motivated to finish strong. I think part of the problem was that the race was never really about me. I was excited to be there, and to be part of it, and to get the medal at the end, but mostly I was so excited that Pippa was doing it. I was so focused on Pippa’s race that I kind of forgot about my race.

The last part of the race was full of all kinds of twists and turns as we approached the finish. Over and over spectators would yell, “You’re almost there!” I usually know exactly where I am on the course and can avoid listening to that advice (because what do spectators know), but because I was without my Garmin and there were so many turns and I was so ready to be done, I kept believing them! I would turn a corner all ready to see the finish line, just to see more runners heading around another bend ahead.

When I finally came around the last corner and saw the finish line, I was so relieved. I was very happy to cross the finish line and receive my sparkly medal.

I love that it sparkles

I love that it sparkles

I grabbed some water, chocolate milk, a banana and all that usual stuff and went to see what was happening at the post-race “party” because I knew I had about an hour until I was expecting to see Pippa. It turned out to just be a band playing on the stage and a few places to buy coffee and snacks, so I decided to walk back to the finish line to watch other runners.

This is when the onions got me. I am assuming there was some sort of well-known Dublin onion factory right near the finish line, because I spent most of the next hour crying. First I had a little moment because I was exhausted and it was over and I was kind of disappointed in myself. You know, typical post-race emotion. (I mean onions!)

The clock was at about 2:40 when I started watching finishers come in, and as more and more spectators saw their runners finish and went off to greet them, the crowd on the sidelines started to shrink. But I think we all made up for it by getting louder and louder. And the finishers made up for it by being more and more awesome.

One of the first guys I saw come in got to about 20 m before the finish line, pulled over to the side, and stopped. The two announcers saw him and commented that he wasn’t done yet. The guy gave them a wave to let them know he was okay, and continued standing there. The announcers said he must be waiting for someone and carried on announcing other runners coming through the finish line.

I tried to keep clapping the whole time, stopping only when my hands needed a break. I cheered extra loud for people in costumes, people who got really excited about the finish, people I could tell were Canadian, and anyone who looked like they needed the extra boost. There was another guy and his young son standing right near me (I still have no idea if they were waiting for someone in particular or just there to cheer) and we cheered like crazy for quite a while.

At some point after the 3:00 mark, a couple (probably in their 60s) came running in, and you could tell the man was struggling. Suddenly he took a funny step and then stopped dead in his tracks. His wife stopped with him. You could see him holding his knee and moving his leg gingerly as if to test whether or not he could handle moving it. They stood there for probably a minute or two before they put their arms around each other and started walking again. The man was walking with a very serious limp, and it didn’t look too good. The man next to me obviously didn’t think so either, because as soon as they started trying to walk, he leapt over the fence to help. He got as far as putting his shoulder under the man before he was waved away. This man was going to finish this race, and finish it under his own steam. The pair of them hobbled towards the finish line and the crowd started going nuts. And with about 15 m to go, that man picked up his pace and crossed the line at a run. It was amazing. (The onions were definitely in the air again at that point.)

You may recall the guy who pulled over at the finish line earlier – he’s still there. He’s been there for 25 or 30 minutes by now. Whenever there’s a lull the announcers have been talking about him, wondering who he’s waiting for and where they are. And then finally he sees who he’s looking for. Two women (I would guess his wife and her friend or sister?) with HUGE grins on their faces spot him waiting for them and speed up to get to him. The three of them crossed the finish line holding hands. So cute. More onions, more crying.

Actually from this point on, I was a mess. I’d barely get myself together when someone else would do something triumphant and the waterworks would start again. Between the tears I was scanning the horizon for Pippa coming around the corner. I’m glad we wore red, because with the green race shirts, and the trend towards neon right now, red was both uncommon and easy to spot. After several false alarms, I spotted a red shirt that was Pippa-shaped! Cue the onions!

As she got closer I started cheering harder and harder. Then she ran over to the fence where I was standing and gave me a huge hug. I could tell the onions were affecting her too. The crowd had cleared enough that there was space for me to run alongside her on the outside of the fence, so I did! I found my way back into the finish area so I could give her another big hug and we could get a photo taken together.

Kirky and Pippa post-race
Kirky and Pippa post-race

Getting to see Pippa cross the finish line of her first half marathon was so amazing. I saw how hard she trained to get there, and I was so glad to be there when she finished it! I’m so glad that I suggested the half marathon and that she was game. It was a really cool experience, and so much more cool to do it together.

Okay, let’s wrap this puppy up before the onions get me again.

My Stats for Half Marathon #4

Finish time: 2:16:43
10k split: 1:03:04
Female 18-24: 71/154
All women: 1357/2730
Overall place: 3621/5467

November 10

Blog post: here it is!
Run: a lovely “long” slow mid-day 7.2k run


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Dublin race recap: the pre-amble

When Pippa and I rolled into Dublin on Sunday, August 4, we were on day 11 of our trip and we’d already had so much fun, but one of the most exciting parts of our trip was just ahead of us.

We returned our rental car to the airport, and having heard about the bus strike on the radio, figured out how to take a private bus into the city. We found our hostel without too much trouble and checked in. Our little private double room was pretty much perfect – cheaper than a hotel, but we’d have our own space for pre-race prep and post-race relaxation.

I wonder if this is where the expo is?

I wonder if this is where the expo is?

We walked to the race expo, which was about 25 minutes away. That part of the city seemed to be filled with runners! The expo wasn’t huge, and things were moving pretty smoothly, so it didn’t take us long to get through. We were disappointed not to get our requested shirt sizes, but not much you can do about that on day 2 of the expo. We figured since the expo was in a hotel, it might be a good place for us to get a late lunch of something carbalicious. But the fancy restaurant wasn’t open, and the bar didn’t have any pasta on the menu. The concierge wouldn’t give us any ideas, so we started walking and figured we’d find something eventually.

Fun fact: at 2:30pm on a Sunday, just about everywhere in Dublin is serving brunch (if they’re open). While I’m sure a Dublin Sunday brunch would have been DELICIOUS, we really just wanted something simple. After probably an hour of hangry wandering, we found a place that had spaghetti on the menu! The place was full of families with kids, which is a good sign when you’re looking for simple food.

Mmmm, spaghetti!

Mmmm, spaghetti!

We had a lovely and leisurely plate of spaghetti each and a whole bunch of water. I also had a beer. After our meal we headed slowly back to the hostel, wandered around Trinity College on the way. We spent most of the rest of the evening reading in bed and went to sleep super early. After a huge late lunch, we didn’t really have a proper dinner, just snacked, which I think wound up hurting me.

All ready to go

All ready to go

Next post will be the race recap, I promise!

November 8

Blog post: I posted the story of how Pippa and I found ourselves running a half marathon in Dublin. Read it here!
Run: A lunchtime 3.5k (and a trip to lululemon)

November 9

Blog post: This is it!
Run: Quick 3k  run this evening. I spent all afternoon on the couch instead of getting out in the daylight, but whatever. I got it done.

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A very belated race recap: Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon 2013

I think it’s probably time to get caught up on some race recaps that I missed out on posting in my blog hiatus. First up, the 2013 Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon.

In January 2013 I started my first ever half marathon running clinic with the Running Room. The goal race for that clinic was the BMO Half Marathon at the beginning of May, but shortly after signing up for both the race and the clinic, I found out that our family trip to Disney World would be at the same time. Unfortunate timing, but hey – trip to Disney World!

I still completed the running clinic and I’m SO glad I did. I learned a lot and it kept me motivated to run. I can tell it worked, because I followed the training schedule and then left on vacation as they tapered, and by race day my legs were BEGGING to run. That day we had a day off from the theme parks, so I spent my morning on the hotel patio in the Florida sunshine living the race vicariously through runners and spectators on Twitter!

These legs wished they were running!

These legs wished they were running!

When I got home from Florida, I had just under 7 weeks until my race. I asked one of the clinic instructors for an idea of what to do between the end of the BMO training schedule and the Scotiabank race. She gave me a very lovely training plan. Which I pretty much ignored. I didn’t run enough in those weeks, and my race definitely suffered.

On race day my lovely roommate offered to drive me to UBC for 7 am, which was amazing. I had plenty of time to use the bathroom, find my friend Angela (who was running her first half) for a photo, and take in the atmosphere. By the time I settled into the corral for the start, I had managed to find not one, but TWO women from my running clinic. We said hello and took more photos and wished each other luck and then it was off!

I found Angela! (And then stole this picture from her Facebook.)

I found Angela! (And then stole this picture from her Facebook.)

Now, I have to tell you about my goal time for this race. Partway through the clinic, some of us were chatting with one of the instructors about what he thought would be good goals for us. He told me he thought I could run 1:50. I told him he was crazy. But after a few more weeks of solid training, I started to think he might not be too far off. So I put that number in my head and planned to try for a 1:50.

Remember when I said I didn’t run enough between BMO and Scotia? Yeaaaah… The 1:50 might have been achievable when my training was in tip-top shape. If I’d run BMO, I may have come in fairly close to 1:50. On June 23rd, I should have known that 1:50 was not the right goal for that day. But that number was stuck in my head and I couldn’t let it go.

I took off almost right at goal pace, and kept it up for the first 10k. It was probably around 8k that I started to really wonder if I was going too fast, but I told myself to suck it up. PRs aren’t easy! They’re supposed to be hard. I sucked it up for another little while (the lovely downhill portion of the race) and hit the 10k mark at 51:19 – slightly ahead of my goal pace. And then in kilometer 11, I fell apart.

Luckily, at that point, I had the sense to let go of the 1:50 goal. It was time to accept that it wasn’t going to happen and make a new game plan. I did the math and realized that I could still run a PR if I kept my average pace under 5:52/km. I wish what I’d done was settle into a nice steady 5:50/km pace and finish the race nice and easy, but instead I yoyoed between 5:27 and 6:47 (there was some walking) and it just felt awful.

Looking back at the garmin data, it looks like I pulled it together for the last 2 km. I love the last part of this race, where they have all the charity groups out cheering. (I also ran past the Boathouse, where I had reservations for my post-race crab cake benny. I think that helped too.) I knew my Dad, sister and Pippa would be somewhere near the finish line waiting for me. I found another gear and gave it everything I had left.

I was scanning left and right looking for familiar faces. Then I spotted my dad, standing right behind one of the official photographers (so an excellent spot), camera in hand, looking the other way. I waved, I think I yelled (but probably yelled Dad instead of his name), and he totally missed me.

Well, the race photographer got a great photo of me waving...

Well, the race photographer got a great photo of me waving…

I crossed the finish line pretty sure I’d finished ahead of last year’s time, so not the result I’d hoped for, but still pretty good. Official results would confirm a 20 second PR!

I eventually found my dad, who couldn’t figure out how he’d missed me. He’d been standing there since the winners finished! Pippa, Laurel and Ian missed my finish looking for parking. Overall, not a fantastic morning. Good thing the next stop was breakfast. It’s impossible to go wrong with brunch from the Boathouse.

While I wasn’t 100% pleased with my race, it was a fantastic learning experience. I learned firsthand the lesson about not starting out too fast. I learned how to re-evaluate my race partway through and set and meet a new goal. I learned that I should tell my Dad what colour to look for. And best of all I learned that on a good day I’ll definitely be able to run even better than 1:56! (Looking forward to that day.)

My Stats for Half Marathon #3

Finish time: 1:56:12  *PR!
Overall pace: 5:31
10k split: 51:19
Female 20-24: 72/259
All women: 521/2287
Overall place: 1409/4077

November 6:

Blog post: Check!
Run: 3k after work
Movember ‘stache: finally some progress! I won Krista‘s Schwings giveaway and I will be receiving a sweet pair of mustache Schwings!

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PMC Science Fair Fun Run 5k

This race is in its 14th year, but I have to confess I’d never heard about it until I received a few emails from the Running Room about it. Two weeks ago I looked into it in more detail: $40, 5k, supports science fairs in BC, includes a shirt and admission to Science World. It’s for science?? SOLD!

I ran this weekend’s 16k long run on Saturday and planned it to end at the Broadway Running Room, where they were doing the package pickup. I had an amazing run in the sunshine – it was just one of those runs where everything clicked (and you spend the whole next day wondering what you did right).

I picked up my race number (lucky 1011), t-shirt (a very plain red shirt, not my favourite ever, but okay) and learned that the timing chips had to be picked up the morning of the race. Wish they’d made that clear beforehand…

My no-fuss race morning was made a little bit more exciting by having to wake Pippa up when she slept through her alarm. We got out of the house fairly quickly though, and made it to Athlete’s Village around 8:25. We met up with two more friends, grabbed our timing chips / ankle monitors, checked our bags (complimentary, yay!) and enjoyed the abundance of adorable children.

The race started on time at 9. It was a pretty small crowd, so we were over the line in no time. I turned around to shout good luck to Pippa, Ari and Lucy and then took off in search of a new 5k PR. I immediately regretted not paying more attention to recovery after Saturday’s 16k. Legs like bricks. Oh well, live and learn.

Pre-race picture! (Where am I looking?)

The huge number of kids in the race (it being a “Fun Run” and all) made for lots of dodging in and out of traffic, but also added a lot of energy to the race. There weren’t a lot of people out along the course, but the people who were out were very enthusiastic, and there was a youth pipe band, which was pretty cool. (I love pipe bands.)

I don’t have a whole lot to say about the run itself, except that it felt good (and also terrible) to push myself past my comfort zone and prove I can do it. I’ve been feeling nervous about trying for another big PR at the Scotia half, so it was good for me to get uncomfortable!

My previous 5k PR was from the 2012 St Patrick’s Day 5k. I’ve become way speedier since then, but the only 5k race I’ve done was this year’s St Patrick’s Day run, which was immediately following my being sick for three weeks. (Inner ear infection, labyrinthitis, couldn’t be upright for more than a few minutes at a time. Not good for the running…) So I was definitely expecting a decent improvement, but I was aiming for closer to 25 minutes. I certainly didn’t expect to shave 5 minutes off and come in under 24 minutes!

Chip time: 23:26 (previous PR 28:29)
Pace: 4:24
Division place (F20-39): 9/210
Sex place: 14/485

After the race I grabbed a banana and some Arrowroot cookies and watched lots of really excited kids sprint for the finish line while I waited to cheer in the other three. (“FOR SCIENCE!”) We stuck around for the awards and prizes before grabbing coffee and second breakfast at Terra Breads. Then it was off to Science World to take advantage of our free admission.

All in all an excellent Sunday morning (for science).

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Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon RACE RECAP (Part II)

Check out part one of my recap if you haven’t already.  This is the excruciatingly long recap of the race itself.

SUNDAY (continued)

We crossed the Start line about 2 minutes after the gun. I had three time-keeping devices on me, but didn’t really plan to consult them during the race. I had Nike+ recording the run on my iPod nano in my pocket and iMapMyRun recording it on my iPhone in another pocket. I also had my watch on so that I would know what time it was and could get a rough estimate of my time, but I didn’t want to be worried about time down to the minutes or seconds. I just wanted to run.
[Sadly, iMapMyRun failed to record the splits (it’s never done that before) and my nano recorded the total distance as 19.2 km, so those splits aren’t accurate. I’m kind of choked. Time to get a Garmin…]

Kilometers 1, 2, 3

We took off at a fairly good clip, with Keara pushing the pace. I was momentarily worried that I’d started too fast, but it still felt pretty good when I passed the 1 km marker, so I kept it up. The first two km weave through parts of UBC campus that I’m super familiar with, so it’s kind of nice to be back in my old ‘hood. (Though I don’t really miss the concrete bunker they call the Civil & Mechanical Engineering building at UBC.)
Just after we passed the 2 km marker, right before we made the left turn onto SW Marine Drive for the short out and back portion, I followed Keara up onto the sidewalk to pass some slower runners and stepped on a pinecone. I felt my ankle start to roll and somehow managed to recover. I yelped (seriously, the sound was gross), but after a few ginger steps I realized I was totally okay.  Good thing, as I don’t know what I would have done if I’d had to quit after two kilometers with a sprained ankle.
Here’s the map/elevation profile for reference. (I don’t have any race photos yet to share, so this long post is EXTRA dry.)

Kilometers 4, 5, 6

I think it just after we passed the 3 km marker that we saw the first of the elites coming back the other way on the other side of the median. We all gave them a clap as they blew by us, and Kelsey and I joked that Keara should be over there with them. Shortly after that, the first woman flew by, so we cheered her on too. This stretch is always really funny because it’s where people really start to settle into the race. You see people readjusting their hats/glasses/footwear/etc, taking off layers, slowing down to walk because they started too fast. My favourite was the guy in a thick-looking long-sleeved zip-up saying to his companion, “Man, I’m sweating!” Why are you surprised?!
The turnaround for the out-and-back is at 4.5 km, and only then do you realize that you’ve been cruising gently downhill for the last 2.5 km. Well, that’s when I realized, anyway. (Which is stupid because I’ve seen the elevation profile, and I’ve run this route before, but whatever.) I think this is where Kelsey fell behind us a little bit, but we’d agreed to not worry about each other, so Keara and I kept up our pace. (Well, Keara kept up the pace, I just kept up with Keara.) I took my first water at the water station at the 6 km mark.

Kilometers 7 & 8

This stretch takes you into the shade of some pretty gorgeous trees as you run along NW Marine Drive behind the Totem Park, Marine Drive and Place Vanier Residences. I used to run along here when I lived at Marine Drive in 3rd year. For some reason the volunteer standing at the top of the stairs down to Wreck Beach stands out as being really sincere: “Wow, you guys, you’re off to such a great start. I’m so proud of you!”
I think it was along here that a guy ahead of us darted off into the bushes for a quick midrace pee and the woman next to me said (to whoever was listening), “Man I wish I was a dude sometimes.” True that, sister. No portapotties for him!

Kilometers 9, 10

After passing the Liu Institute, the Museum of Anthropology and the Chan Centre, NW Marine takes a left turn and heads down towards the water. This is the famous 2 km of downhill that people either love or hate about this course. I fall firmly in the love category. The spectacular view of the ocean down this stretch is probably what does it for me, but letting gravity do the work for a while certainly doesn’t hurt either.
I was so taken aback by the view that I decided to take a picture while I cruised downhill. (I don’t know how all those other bloggers whose race recaps are full of photos do it; I think this is probably the last mid-race photo I’ll ever take.)
Trust me, this picture does NOT do the view justice.
The 10 km mark (and timing mat) lies right at the bottom of the hill as you come out at Spanish Banks beach. At this point I allowed myself my first peek at my watch, just to see where we were at. The time was 8:26, so I knew that we were definitely under 56 minutes. Keara’s response was, “Awesome, I thought this pace felt good.”
Official 10k split: 0:54:15. (Faster than my 10k PR. Really must run a 10k that’s not the Sun Run.)

Kilometers 11, 12, 13

After cruising down the long, glorious hill, a long flat stretch is kind of disheartening. I suddenly had to expend a great deal more energy just to keep up the same pace, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I lost Keara. This is the part of the race where I regretted not eating a slightly larger breakfast and not taking any GUs or Shot Bloks with me. But I knew I only had to make it to 14k for a PowerBar gel, so I sucked it up and grabbed a Gatorade at the water station at 11k and was SO happy that it wasn’t red!
Tangent: When I had mono in 2008, there was a 48 hour period where my throat was so swollen I couldn’t eat anything and could barely force liquid down. The only thing I consumed in that time other than water was half a bottle of red Gatorade. (I don’t think of Gatorade having flavours, just colours.) My throat was so sore that swallowing saliva (which we don’t really think about most days) was unbearable, so I had kind of a spittoon going, and most of that spit tasted like red Gatorade. I can’t drink red Gatorade anymore, and at last year’s SVHM that’s all they had! And gagging is not part of a successful race hydration strategy!
I don’t have any distinct memories of this stretch along the beach, other than it feeling slow and a really excited old guy cheering us on. As I suspected, just before the 13 km marker, Keara started to pull away from me. I watched her blonde braid bob away as I slowed down.

Kilometers 14, 15, 16

That hill up from Jericho beach to 4th Avenue was a major slog for me, but I remembered walking it last year and decided that running at all was enough of an improvement, so I shouldn’t worry about how slow I was running. Right at the top of the hill, “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis came on my iPod. Though it’s the much-hated goal song of the Chicago Blackhawks and a bit of a sore point among Canucks fans, it’s been a staple on my running playlist for years and can totally pump me up when I’m feeling down. I’m pretty sure it got me right back up to Keara pace, and kept me going until the 14 km water station, where I got my much-needed gel. Chocolate flavour, I might add, so I was pretty pumped. (I’ve discovered that while the fruit flavoured ones make me want to gag, the chocolate ones are totally okay because they’re kind of like pudding.)
Just after I turned the corner onto Alma, I saw a former Spark and her mom at the side of the road cheering runners on, so I yelled their names and gave a big wave. That was the first time I’d ever seen anyone I knew cheering at a race, so even though it was more me yelling at them, it felt fabulous!
For some unknown reason, I’ve always hated running the stretch of Point Grey Road between Alma and MacDonald, so kilometer 16 was kind of rough. But there were lots of people out in their front yards to cheer us on, so I focused on the people watching. There was a guy running just ahead of me named Pete who seemed to know everyone along this stretch, so I had fun following him. And then I came up behind a guy with a prosthetic leg. Nothing like someone else’s triumph over adversity to make you say, “What’s my damn excuse?!” So thanks to that guy for helping to push me a little when I needed it, hope he had a good race.

Kilometers 17, 18

This is where the spectators started really being out in full force. The witty signs pumped me up again and I felt pretty darn good for these two kilometers leading up to the Burrard Street Bridge (which I was trying really hard not to think about just yet). My absolute favourite was “You trained for this longer than Kim Kardashian was married!”
Somewhere in this stretch I checked the time again, because I’d told P that I’d be crossing the Burrard Street Bridge sometime after 9:00. It was 9:04 and I hadn’t hit the bridge yet, plus even without doing much math I was pretty sure I was on track for under 2:06.

Kilometer 19 (The Bridge)

My beautiful art deco nemesis. (Source: khocott on flickr)
This kilometer sucked. A lot. I’m really glad I included it in a couple of training runs, but running it after 8k and running it after 18k are entirely different beasts. For some reason I found that I liked running way to the right of the lane, just feet from where cars were whizzing by me in the other direction. I think the wind made me feel like I was moving faster? I’m not sure; mid-race logic is iffy.
The 19 km marker comes just after you turn onto Pacific after coming off the bridge. You’re recovering from the bridge and you know there’s only a little bit left, and it’s mostly flat. Coming up to the sign I was itching to check my watch, but wouldn’t let myself until I physically passed the marker. Subtracting 6 minutes per kilometer from my goal time for the last two told me that it should be around 9:24. A few minutes after that would be fine, since we hadn’t started right at 7:30, plus I’d be able to push myself a little bit in the final 2k. Imagine my surprise when I finally passed that flag, looked down and saw: 9:17 AM.

Kilometer 20

I spent the first hundred metres or so of kilometer 20 going, “Wait, what? What? 7 minutes ahead of schedule? Probably more? Even though I’m not with Keara? What?” And then I did the math and realized that 2:06 minus 7 is under two hours. And I freaked out a little. And then double checked my math, and then I sped up even more. I held this pace until I got to the 20 km marker, where I slowed down to grab a cup of Gatorade (still not red!), which I figured would fuel my push to the finish.

Kilometer 21

Gatorade was a bad choice! It sloshed something fierce in my stomach and I momentarily thought it was going to come back up, but I hung on. Just past the marker and the water table I found my P (and her friend) with a sign! I wish I had a photo, it was awesome! I yelled “I love you!” and kept going. There was no way I was slowing down here. 
The whole stretch is crawling with spectators, including all the volunteers from the partner charities. Those guys are pro, they’ve got whistles and cow bells and pom poms and all kinds of great stuff. Partway through the kilometer there’s an ever so slight incline, and at this point in the race it feels like Everest. I pushed crazy hard to keep my pace up. At this point I realized that my family (who I had told to show up at the finish by 9:30) was probably going to miss me. Oops, underestimated myself!

The Finish

The 21 km marker happens at about the same place you can see the finish line for the first time and where you can first hear the guy calling out names and times. I heard him announce a few names and times, and say something about records set for some of the masters age groups. Then just as I was trying to decide how much I had left in the tank and much of a sprint I had left in me for the finish, I heard the words, “sub-2” and “thirty seconds.” And I just gunned it.
Just after I started my sprint I heard my name from the left – my mom and sisters had made it! I think I might have said hi, but I’m not sure. I was on task. I looked up as I crossed the finish line to discover that I had made the sub-2 gun time – by a minute and twelve seconds. Evidently I missed some words between “sub-2” and “thirty seconds.”

The Aftermath

Way to centre the photo, MOM.
Between the late Gatorade and the sprint and the complete and utter shock of having come in under two hours I forgot to stop my timing devices for a minute or two, so the only thing I knew was my approximate gun time. Which was unbelievable enough.
I found Keara, found some water, a banana and a Gatorade Recover (um, yuck). Keara’s gun time was 1:54:xx. Holy freaking crow. We found our families, then found Kelsey (over 2 was all she knew). We milled about for a while, eating free food and wondering whether Mason Raymond was actually there.
Eventually we found Kelsey’s mama (who hadn’t spotted our Canucks crush either) and we all headed off towards the Boathouse for some brunch. I was surprised to hear from T (who had been unsure whether he would make it to brunch by 10:15 the morning after his birthday celebrations) that he was at the restaurant already.
Several huge glasses of water, a crab cake benny and a mimosa with friends and family sure hit the spot. I could not stop grinning. I had run a half marathon (my second ever) in under two hours.
My grin got even bigger when I found out my official results later that afternoon:
DOUGANS, Kirsten
Category F20-24 Category place 67/220
Chip Time 1:56:31.6 Gun Time 1:58:47.5
Pace per KM 5:32 Pace per Mile 8:54
[Keara’s official time: 1:52:32. Kelsey’s official time: 2:06:12.]
Let’s review my goals for this race:
a)      Finish – check
b)      Beat last year’s time – check – by 19:44
c)       Finish under 2:06:36 (6 min/km) – check – under by 10:00
d)      No injuries – check
e)      Have fun – SUPER CHECK!
Now the only problem will be managing to get a PR in my next half marathon (which I think will be the GoodLife Victoria Half Marathon in October). I won’t have Keara for that one, so I’m going to have to work hard on learning to be my own pacer and pushing myself.
Did anyone read this far? Mad props if you did!
Have you ever had a PR this significant? How did you motivate yourself to continue to improve?
Has anyone ever run the Half Marathon in Victoria before?

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