Where It’s At
2016, the year of…. Good weather? I thought no better/Canadian way than to start a blog talking about the weather. I recently moved to Vancouver to train for the winter. It is a wonderful place to train. It is such an active, health-forward community. It seems like people are always out taking advantage of the beautiful trails, beaches and views. It seems like everyone (and their dog) is out on the trails sometimes!
Moving to a different province to a city where I don’t know more than a handful of people has its advantages and disadvantages. I’ll leave those for another time. It’s been wicked living with a very welcoming person, who speaks her mind, my open-minded housemate – Natasha Wodak. Oh, did I mention she can hold her own on the track and road races!
For starters, I am surrounded by active-minded people and am sharing an apartment with a person that calls me on my procrastination. Yeah, I hear “you haven’t ran yet” almost every morning. I guess I have more of a Usain Bolt mentality when it comes to training than others she knows. I like to make sure my body and mind are ready for all runs. That could be an easy 8km or a long, hard training session!
It has been great training out here with such talented runners. I have had a chance to run a speed session (relatively speaking) with some of the fastest middle distance guys in the country and in the same week go out for a long run or distance-based workout with a couple of the best marathoners in the country. It’s such a blessing to be able to run with and spit training ideas off these people. I have picked up a pile of neat workouts and training ideas from these fellas.
I have been able to take advantage of different sessions with different training groups. I have lucked into training with some of the best marathoners (Dylan Wykes and Rob Watson) and some of the fastest guys in the country (Chuck, Luke and Justin Kent). Oh and how can I forget, getting buried in a progression run by Natasha and Rachel Cliff! I have just tried to hang in there during the sessions and get motivated by those guys ripping up the road or the track!
The interesting thing about Vancouver is that it isn’t very windy, but damn it’s hilly! It gets the legs really strong from running up long hills everyday. The other wicked thing about Vancouver is you never have to use a treadmill. Sure it rains, but it beats the ice and snow any day of the week.
Who knew that when you aren’t training for a marathon you can enter a lot more races?!? I am taking advantage of this open season and getting in some 5k, 10k and half marathon races. I am starting the season tomorrow with the First Half (Vancouver). It is a scenic course that is supposed to be tricky because you run around the outside of Stanley Park (the seawall). I will give you more details of this later in the blog.
The second race this season will be the St. Patrick’s 5km race – March 12 (Vancouver). I have only heard great things about this one. Looking at the times, it’s a speedy race or at least the top 10 tend to be pretty quick!
This will be followed by the world famous Vancouver Sun Run 10km (won by my housemate 2x –impressive). This will be a very focused race to get the legs and system ready for the end of May.
I might see if I can hop into the BMO half marathon as my swan song as I will be leaving the beautiful, free-spirited city that is Vancouver. This race is one that will be gearing me towards running my best at the Ottawa 10k – the national championships for that distance.
First Half Marathon
The training had been going really well. Really, I had only one workout that I was worried the wheels were starting to go off the tracks. It was a session just 9 days before the race, so I was concerned that I had been pushing the limit too much and I was burning out. Steve had to assure me that these things happen and not to overthink it. We would just have a harder taper week than we were anticipating. It’s all good: that’s how she rolls sometimes. After the lighter week, the legs let me know they were ready to go!
Woke up on race day like I always try to do now – a few hours before the gun goes off to make sure the stomach, mind and body are ready to do battle, sometimes with itself! I went through the same process that I always do, but added a new and very enjoyable part to the prep, I took the bus. It is a very easy way of travelling around the city and it is very calming. I can see why Mike “Red Rocket” Bonner did it before his games in Toronto!
My housemate had mentioned to me that the course isn’t the quickest (but hell it’s very beautiful!) and to follow Steve’s guidance of getting locked in on a pace and just stay on it until the train goes off the tracks, then ride that pain train until you have nothing left.
Bang the gun goes off (haha, a couple of seconds after the race marshal had told us to go!). It was pouring rain and below the usual temperature we had gotten used to. The energy of being around the other competitors was very short-lived. I was in a “no man’s zone” between the contenders (Rob Watson, Eric Gillis and Kip Kangogo) and the rest of the race. Those guys were rolling something fierce because they all wanted to keep their position or make their way onto the team heading to Wales to compete at the World Half Marathon Championships. I knew early I was going to have to stay true to the plan and not try and make something of the race, just stay true to the plan and let it ride. I can always tell early on if I am going to have a good run. If the hip and calf are in it, the legs and heart will always be able to do the work. I ran solo for the first 12km keeping pretty true to the pace and effort I wanted to at this point.
As I entered the seawall area (hallelujah point area), I saw a runner ahead of me. I was hoping it wasn’t someone out doing their Sunday long run. Actually, it was one of the competitors falling off. So, for the position and for the helluv it, I joined them– someone to run with and feed off of. I kept progressing towards the moving target. At one point I asked someone if it was another runner in the race. His response was “yup, you are looking good, go pull him in.” That was all that I needed to put a little gas in the legs. I caught up to Kip around 12km and we rolled together. At times, too close to one each other. I was worried we would accidently collide when I was dodging puddles putting one of us in the ocean!
We got to a fork in the course where you have to head back to Lost Lagoon (the irony is almost laughable). There was to be a police officer at the fork directing runners to turn left and not continue straight. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day and he didn’t want to get wet, so he was in his car. We passed by and ran 100-150m the wrong way before he said “Oh no, you guys were supposed to turn.” So we headed back and got back on course. Kip and I were not pleased. We were sent along the sand of the Lost Lagoon. Then, we ran into another point where we had to make a choice; get off the path or head onto the paved part. There was no one to guide us, so I made the call (me being 20m ahead at this point). I had lost all confidence in where to go at this point. So I got on the path and stopped. Yes, dead stop. I turned to Kip and said, “F**k, Kip, I am sorry! I really hope we are doing the right thing!”, and then just continued on. I have a lot of respect for Kip and didn’t want to sabotage his race. After we got out of the Lagoon area, it was pretty smooth sailing to the finish line.
Actually, the legs didn’t feel too crushed and I only had to get on the pain train for the last 600m. I ended up running a 68:21, which was off target, but it was a great learning experience.
Hope everyone is having wonderful winter training wherever you are! Hope to put out new blogs every…. Well more regularly!