We took the opportunity last weekend to zip over to the Sunshine Coast for a change of scenery, some training and the April Fools half marathon.
In the days leading up, my motivation was waning, I was tired and the forecast looked dismal. So dismal that I packed the trainer, anticipating a Saturday morning cranking out indoor miles… albeit in a new setting.
Regardless, I loaded up the ‘burb and the boys got to skip an afternoon of school which, right there, made the trip for them. Picked up Lizzie and Henry, drove onto the ferry and we were off.
Because nothing says quality training weekend like 2 moms and 4 kids!
Nothing to see here.
They hate it here.
View. ‘s ok.
Lo and behold, the place we got on Airbnb was awesome (I’d give you the link but that’s like giving away a good babysitter’s number so, no.) and the weather ended up being sunshiny pretty for the entire weekend.
Saturday we left the littles behind to forage for crabs on the beach and rode our bikes for a while…
The next morning, we had the best laid plans for the half. You know, healthy breakfast… good sleep… solid warm up.
Instead, we ate nutella, got some broken sleep and showed up with just enough time to win the bathroom locator race (again).
We took off on tired legs, a bit unsure on how it would all go. My goal was to have fun, say thanks to all the volunteers and try not to have a disaster of an outing. Plus, we were wearing matching shirts aka our license to go at whatever pace we feel like.
1:36 and change. Mission accomplished on all fronts!
That guy though…
She got me… this time.
We hunted minnie down.
Lizzie looking for snacks
Backdrop to the finish line!
While I was desperately trying not to pass out from stomach cramps, I fed the kids lots of refined sugar
Lizzie’s wee little trophy
Can’t wait for next time!
They didn’t forage for crabs alone. I’m not *that* irresponsible.
If we are social media pals, you may have noticed that I broke all kinds of posting rules a few weeks ago by bombarding my feed with pictures of Liz and I on a training trip to Sunny Southern California.
I was going to write up some kind of recap of the week but Liz did a WAY better job than I ever could, and you can read about it here. I will, however, bombard you with more pictures and my own race report.
Inspiration Point overlooking LA
If there’s a beach, there’s a handstand attempt
This is my artsy attempt.
This was hanging on the door to our room. The irony was not lost on moi.
Meet Joey. Joey grosses me out. Apparently Joey ‘likes to meet new people’. Uh huh.
Incapable of hiding my glee
Cutest. Human. Ever.
This swim started 4000m ago in the pitch dark. I survived.
I’d like to say that this is the aftermath of something. It’s not.
Not unlike Liz, my level of caring about this race was hovering somewhere between “F&^ it” and “Can’t I just stay in bed?”, particularly when we got up in the morning, in the desert, to the sound of pouring rain on the roof. Do you know what rain in the desert after jamming Instagram with pics of sunshine is? This is what it is:
thegoodorbademanationsfelttobegeneratedbysomeone or something:
So anyway, yeah. It was raining. Hard. Oh well. We hearty Canadians squeezed into wetsuits, high-fived and got it done. Here’s how it went down for me.
Swim: I do believe that while my swim is improving, I still swam like an inebriated eel. The saving grace is that I got through transition quickly and out on the bike efficiently.
Bike: The bike was totally flat, which usually puts me at a bit of a disadvantage, what with my huge size and all. I much prefer a course that has big hills on which I can pass all those big boys. No matter, I put my head down and pedaled my gradually freezing self to the transition. I didn’t race with a watch or a bike computer, so I didn’t really know where I stood. I just know that no girls passed me, so that was good.
When I got back to transition, lo and behold, there were no other bikes there. Neat! I fumbled to take off my helmet and shoes and off I went with frozen feet and hands.
Run: Also totally flat, also not my fave. I was off in lala-land for most of it, picking people off and focusing on moving my frozen feet. I finally warmed up for the last 3kms, passed Bobby within sight of the finish line (sorry, Bobby!) and managed to win my age group. So yay me!
There was no loitering post-race. We had one mission and one mission only in mind: In n Out burger.
It’s a lot easier to write a post about a race that goes totally sideways than it is to write one about a race that goes well. What am I supposed to say? “Blah blah blah I ran well, felt good, it was sunny, set a great big PR, go me.”
Boring, right? Plus, that pretty much sums it up.
Therefore, please allow me to share 2 elements of my race that I feel I really nailed.
1. Pre-race bathroom location
I believe this is a personal best for me in terms of timing and lineup brevity. I really surprised myself here and will refuse to divulge the location of this bathroom for fear that it will ruin things for me should I ever run this race again.
2. Race outfit
In my humble opinion, it’s extremely important to wear all of the colours available to you when toeing the line in a race. I feel like I preformed well here, with the exception perhaps of socks. In this case, I sacrificed colour for fit but in the future, screw it, colour wins because no matter what I wear, my feet hurt anyway at the end. Also, my hair clashed with my sunglasses. Something to work on in the future.
Lastly, you know that when your training partner/race pacer /bestie crosses the line seconds behind you and whispers “F— you”, you know it’s been a good one.
Bring it on, 2015!
The lighting fails to really capture the brightness of this outfit.
She with the longest arms takes thy selfie
I call this “hey guys! wait! wait for me! hey guys!”
I could also have titled this post “Foreshadowing”.
I was so excited for this race. We’d put in a few really “fun” training runs in terrible weather, the kids were going to be with me and I wasn’t the least bit nervous. I love a good challenge, and the Hallow’s Eve Run certainly seemed that it would live up to expectations. I didn’t really look at the course map – since I’m unfamiliar with the trails in North Van, it would have been pointless, anyway. I knew it went up and down. I knew it was going to be wet. Did the rest really matter?
Early wake up, coffee, kiss the kids goodbye and off we went. It was grey but not raining and the runners were in costumes – except for me. I’m lame like that. We were happily cruising throughout the lower part of the trails and I was trailing Heather, watching her feet and chatting away – as we do. In my world, trail time doubles as girl time and cheap therapy. She popped off a little drop and as I followed her, my left foot rolled over and heard (and felt) that sickening ‘pop’.
You have got to be kidding me.
I was less than 4km into a 42km adventure. I never roll my left ankle, always my right. Gah. I told myself to shake it off, the nausea will pass and I’ll just be careful. *More foreshadowing*
I caught back up to Heather and I did a decent job of being careful for the next little while. We chatted, laughed and sweated for a good chunk of time together. Her family met us at the top of a climb and it was so fun to get a hug and a high-five mid-race, right before a killer climb.
As I was essentially crawling up this trail (can anyone actually run this? Serious question here – it was like going up a vertical river bed), I was on my own and so I put my music on because I didn’t feel like suffering in silence anymore.
Fair warning: I have notoriously terrible taste in music when it comes to getting me going on the run.
The first song that started to play was “Try”, by Pink. Well, I thought. This is a propos, because I AM TRYING, dammit. Trying to get up this hill!
“Just because it burns, doesn’t mean you’re gonna die”. Huh. Pretty sure she was referring to my burning legs, at that point.
As I finally got to the top of the hill, we crested into in a driving wind and rainstorm. The kind of storm you have to turn your back to in order to put a jacket on and not fly away. The kind of rain that pelts your eyeballs.
The next song that played was “Between the raindrops”. Well. I’d like to be between them, but that ain’t happening.
As we ran along the roads back down Grouse Mountain, Heather caught me and I briefly voiced my concern about my ankle. It was pretty sore and I was toying with the idea of dropping out. The problem was that a) I didn’t really know where I was; b) I didn’t have a phone to call someone to come and get me c) I don’t know anyone’s number by heart anymore — technology!
This is where “Warm day, cold warm” came on. I was NOT warm. I really wanted to be and had a short daydream about going back to Maui.
At this point, I remembered that the kids were with Lizzie and I didn’t want to let them down by not finishing the run. So off I went, back into the trails in pursuit of Heather.
Kilometer 18 or so… I went down again and this time I knew it was waaaay worse that the first time. I sat in the mud, had a little pity cry until a runner dressed as William Wallace – kilt and all – came by and hauled me off the ground. He made sure I was ok, and I sent him on his way with my thanks.
So what does one do in the forest with one good leg and no clue where she is?
She keeps going.
And plays Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off” on repeat. And ponders the world. And talks to herself.
Jenny caught me and we had a good bitch fest and speculated on how much longer we had to go. I told her to get going, and that I’d see her at the finish, no matter how long it took.
A couple of kilometers later, Lizzie – AKA “Voice of reason” – met me at the aid station with the kids. After a good dose of “dummy, just stop. The truck is over there”, I pulled the pin and limped to the truck.
And despite having an ankle that looks like something out of “Misery”, I’ll live to run another day.
Sunday morning – on our HOLIDAY – we got up at 3:10AM to go run the Maui Half Marathon. I’d say it was somewhat easy because I was still on Pacific time, but that would be a total lie. Getting up at 3:something to do any kind of race is just silly and it sucks no matter how you spin it.
We piled into the car, in the pitch black and headed out the start on the other side of the island. Standing on the start line, shortly before 5AM, was not unlike standing in the middle of a human sauna. Foreshadowing: maybe I should have been a little more concerned with fluid loss considering I’d yet to start running and was pretty much already soaking wet.
We took off in the dark, admired the stars and ran somewhat blind for the first hour or so of racing. It was dark enough, in fact, that I nearly ran head first into the first guy coming back from the turnaround. I paid slightly closer attention to where I was going after that near miss.
I think it was also around this point – roughly mile 6 – when I started to become aware of the fact that while I was cooking, temperature-wise, I wasn’t sweating that much and I was chilly and covered in goose bumps. Not ideal. I figured it would pass if I could get some water down and on me. And believe me, I tried.
This wasn’t the most riveting course in the world, so I was more than a little relieved when I finally crossed the finish line. I was rather wobbly, but 2 big guys grabbed me and gave me little choice about heading straight to medical. Some IV fluids and some chocolate milk later, I was fine.
In the end, good enough to win my age group and finish 7th overall. And then, of course, hit the beach/pool/post-race beers.
A few days post race, Liz and I decided “Hey, there’s a volcano. Let’s go ride bikes up it!” Or something along those lines.
Actual conversations held during the ride:
Me (squealing as something flew at me): “What the hell was that? Did you see that thing?”
Me: “I sure hope this volcano doesn’t explode on us.”
Liz: “Shut up, cheeseburger.”
Needless to say, we made it. It was pretty epic. 10’000ft of epic. And really freaking cold.
Common sense dictates that yes, we did also lie on the beach, nap, lie by the pool, talk, read books, hot tub, watch sunsets, drink lots of coffee and many, many other beverages, dance, laugh and generally have a very above average holiday. An excellent kick off to this 24th, er, 40th year, I’d say.
About 2 weeks ago, somewhere in middle of a long trail run up Whistler with a bunch of great girls, Liz and I decided that it would be a good idea to sign up for the Half Iron at Challenge Penticton. Never mind that it was less than 2 weeks away, that we’d done essentially zero “formal” training or that I was running Squamish 23 the weekend before. This sounded like a great idea.
A couple days of swim/bike/run later – and foam rolling like it was my job, post-Squamish – we got to Penticton on what has traditionally been one of the busiest weekends of the year for them. And it was… ghost town. Weird.
Anyway. We checked in to our place, did all the pre-race crap you have to do and set ourselves up to have decent races by essentially deciding we were going to do so and not be so damn grumpy. I think we were able to do just that because we were staying close enough to the start line that we knew we didn’t have to get up before 5:30. Excellent.
So. Race day. Here’s how it went.
Goal: Sub 00:36 (look out, Michael Phelps). Actual: 00:36:56
I did something I never do. I started on the front line, right behind Liz. I figured “What the hell. What’s the worst that can happen?”
Editor’s note: DROWNING, that’s what.
It was fine. A little rough at times, but I felt myself being pulled along so that was kind of neat. I think I swam about as straight as a line as a puppy running through the forest, but at least I aimed for all the buoys.
Goal: Sub 3:00, catch Liz. Actual: 2:52:54, no Liz.
That bike course was no joke. Some really good climbing combined with pavement that was teeth-rattling rough, it was going to be hard. And it was, but in a good way. A bit lonely at times but I was able to keep my head down and not lose focus too badly (“SQUIRREL!”) and enjoy the full-body shaking caused by the iffy pavement.
Goal: Sub 1:50 Actual 1:45:15
I can’t believe I am typing this but the run was fun. I liked the course, it was hot and my body mostly cooperated. When I finally caught Liz – who’d lost her nutrition on the bike and was paying the price for it on the run – she told me to get a move on, I was in 4th.
I suppose when I saw the lead bike out of transition, I should have paid a little bit more attention to what was going on.
I ended the day 3rd woman overall, and since I pretty much never look over my shoulder when I’m racing, I didn’t notice the pack of balloon-wielding kids who chased me to the line. That’ll teach me.
All in all, a pretty fun day of racing. I endured the usual post-race nausea and misery for a few hours, but some Gravol, beer and pizza fixed me right up.
As Liz pointed out, you’re only as good as your last race. I guess that means it’s on for Maui, right?
How long have I been racing? Lots of years, lots of sports and lots of distances. Lots of mistakes made and lots of lessons learned.
You’d think that I by now I’d have figure out how to seed myself appropriately at the start of a race. Sunday, 30 seconds before the start of the Squamish 23K run, I looked around as I was chatting with Christine and fiddling with my gear and realized not only was I near the very back of the corral, I was behind a girl wearing those shudder-inducing 5 Fingers and another wearing birkenstocks.
Not ideal. If I intend on doing anything that resembles racing at these races, I need to be up front near the bearded dudes who opt to run shirtless and the scary, sinewy women. Alas, it was not to be today and off I went.
I spent the first 10kms faintly bleating “On your left…. On your left… On your left…” And yeah, I got around 5 Fingers and Birky pretty early on.
My terrible planning aside, this run is a must-do for anyone keen to do a hilly, challenging trail run. The course is awesome, tough, hilly, technical and oddly quiet when you end up running the back half alone.
I successfully stayed on my feet, I didn’t deplete myself, won the mental battle when I
started to get chills – there was no way I was putting myself in the hospital again – and finished feeling happy and good. Plus, I got a big, sweaty bear hug from a tired GR. A great way to end my race.
I had the foresight to park about 4 feet from the finish line so I immediately hopped in the truck (which my hips are making me pay for today), drove home and collected various children from various locations. We finished off our Sunday with a bit of Slow Food Cycle and some time at their favourite place, the beer garden.
No seriously, it’s their favourite place.
And now for 1 day of recovery, 4 days of taper and then Challenge Penticton! This ought to be interesting.
I haven’t DNF’d a race since I was racing mountain bikes in 1999-ish. I broke that streak on Sunday when I pulled the pin on the run portion of the Victoria 70.3. I wasn’t at all happy with having to make that decision, but when I got off my bike and hobbled through transition to rack my bike, looking for all the world like a human leaning Tower of Pisa, I knew that it was the decision to make. That was me, being mature and all that.
I may or may not have shed a tear of frustration, disappointment and yes, even a little embarrassment. I guess deep down, my heart just wasn’t into hurting myself for the sake of running around the lake twice.
Still, it sucks.
On the bright side, I had my fastest ever 1/2 iron swim (not fast by fast standards, but who cares. Fast for me. And if you tell me the swim was short, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear you.)
My bike was very average and the indicator that I wouldn’t be running started to become apparent to me when my leg went numb and my back flared up again. I told myself I’d pull out of the bike after the first loop but as I rode right past the turnoff, but I guess my stubbornness kept me going. My internal dialogue at that time went something like this:
“Hey, aren’t you turning?”
“Nah, might as well go ’round again.”
“Ok. But still. Ow.”
“Oh shut up.”
Let me tell you, I’ve see suns set faster than the time it took me to ride that 2nd loop. Sheesh.
So now, time to heal this crooked body of mine and really try to figure out what’s wrong. Being injured just plain sucks.
My partner-in-crime and I decided on a 2 week “don’t-sign-up-for-anything” period to prevent the whole “that was awesome, let’s do it again/that sucked, I need redemption” thing. This does not stop me from googling races and planning out adventures. A girl needs something to look forward to, ya know?
Big, huge thanks to my brother for coming with us and holding down the fort as I rolled out of bed at 4:30am for this silly hobby… Big, huge thanks to Liz for always being up for anything… Big, huge thanks to Steph and Chrissy for the pep talks… Big, huge thanks to the kids for being exhausting humans who make me laugh/want to tear my hair out.
Last weekend, I was on the start line of yet another race, but this one was a little different. Rather than the usual swim/bike/run or girls trip of late, I lined up behind Will and Rory as they prepared to run the Loop the Lakes 8k in Squamish.
Race mornings for me tend to be somewhat methodically planned out – at least mentally. Not so when trying to usher 3 sleepy little people out the door by 7:15am. It was more like “I have a coffee, everyone has clothes on and a sandwich, let’s go!” The rest would somehow fall into place.
We arrived at the start, signed in and then spent the next 20 minutes before the start trying to keep the boys away from the food table. No mean feat since the offerings included donuts.
We started together and as we crested the first hill, Will took off and that was the last I saw of him till we crossed the finish line. He would tell me later that he had lots of fun high-fiving people, passing whoever he could on the uphills and drinking the blue Gatorade. He did also mention that he got a little lonely in the woods at times…
Rory and I played caboose and it was awesome. He went in fits and starts – as you do when you are 5. Sometimes he went fast and laughed and jumped. Other times, we held hands and talked and walked. “Mama, I have a crank.” Cramp? “Yeah, that’s what I said. Crank”. He got pretty tired at the end but magically recovered after eating 2 donuts.
As for Talky-Talkerson? She was pretty mad I wouldn’t let her do the 8k with us. She and I did the 1K and “Mama that was so fun, I am pretty fast eh?”
I can confirm that wrangling between 3-6 kids (we went with friends who also ran with us) to start a race/put on that number/come here!/ where’s your brother?/ Have you peed yet?/come here! combined with not eating properly (or at all? Who can remember) and running at a pace that is vastly different from your own is pretty damn tiring. I was punched at the end of the day.
They played soccer till dinner.
Lest you think I push my kids to do these runs, the opposite is true. I mentioned it in passing to a friend, and they overheard me. “Can we do it, too?” I said I’d think about it and ask them a few days before to see if they were still keen. They were. Given the alternative of spending the day at home or “an adventure in the woods”, the adventure wins every time. I never set the pace or push them. I remind them to watch where they are going and leave the rest to them.