If this Last Year had been Different

July 13, 2016. A date that means nothing to most people. An anniversary date that I hope to forget in time. One year ago on this date. One year that I wish could’ve been different. A car accident. The second out of three actually, in a span of 4 months. July 13 was the worst one of the three. 2016 was crap, to put it mildly.

Hello again. It has been a very long time since I last wrote on this blog. After today, who knows? Be forewarned, this post will be a long one. I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of post this would be: a re-hash of all the horrible, a mix of the good born from the bad, delightfully Pollyanna? Open letter style? It has not been easy figuring out how to write this or whether this would be written at all. Photo blog? Photos were deleted a long time ago. Names? I might be using names in this post. First names only of course. I’ll be winging it.

As the last few weeks and days have been leading up to this date, I have been feeling slightly more anxious but I’m not sure why. The lack of sleep and crazy skipping heartbeats probably doesn’t help. There shouldn’t be any significance to this date, but this was the day everything changed and my normal routine was over.

First off, I am fine now. Physical recovery is at 99%. I am perfectly mobile and able to do almost everything pre accident. Mental recovery is also in the high 90s. There is a lot of self-talk. Mostly inside voice but sometimes the inside voice is too quiet and sometimes it doesn’t stay inside. But I am fine. And I have a new normal.

Very simply, on July 13, 2016 at 8am, I was stopped at a red light when I was rear ended. Pretty hard. I stopped and the driver did not. That’s what I tell people. She said her car couldn’t stop because of a slippery spot. It was a sunny morning with barely a cloud in sight. But I stopped and she did not. She probably hit me around 60 km/hr. SW Marine at the Knight street bridge off ramp is notorious for fast drivers. I stopped. She did not. Her car was crumpled in the front. Maybe 65 km/hr. My car was surprisingly still intact and I was able to drive away. It wasn’t until days later when I brought the car to the shop that they saw the real damage to the under carriage. When the shop called me to tell me about the damage, the first thing they asked was if I was ok. They didn’t ask me that for the first accident in April. When they showed me pictures, I was really surprised that I drove away from the accident. Maybe 70km/hr.

I stopped. She did not, and because of her, I was knocked off the road that I had set myself on for the year.

I wish the last year could’ve been different. Because I had a plan. I always have a plan. It’s my nature to have a plan. I always see the road that I’m on. It was summer. I had races to run. I was training to run a marathon. There were hikes and mountains to be conquered. There was a trip to Ottawa for two back to back races, a 5k + 1/2 marathon. There were so many things I was supposed to do. Instead I walked the races. I downgraded from full marathon to 1/2 marathon and I examined every portion of the Fraser river along the River district because I wasn’t allowed to do hills. Summer turned to Fall and then to Winter. I was still walking, not running. As my physiotherapist likes to tell me, I am on a roller coaster. There are always going to be ups and downs. We both agreed not to use the word setbacks. Detour is an acceptable word but not setbacks. But my road, my plan…I never pictured a roller coaster.

Why did it have to be this roller coaster? The physical pain was bad but coupled with the mental, it was beyond bad. It is hard to explain unless you’ve been there and that is a dark place I don’t wish on anyone. I hate despair. I’ve been there before. But not this level of despair. Seeing no way out. Not understanding why things hurt, not understanding why it was hurting after all those weeks, wondering if it was something that I did that made it constantly hurt. Despair changes how you see things. It distorts every situation. Nothing makes it better. Despair is wondering why your friend and coworker is mad at you for trying to return to work so quickly when she was only concerned for you. Despair and mistrust is when you discover that you are the topic of conversation at the office water cooler. Mistrust leads to the worst kind of despair. Who are your real friends? Who can you trust to listen to you when you need to talk? Despair is when I tell my so called friend that I don’t want to talk about the car accident and she turns around and tells me that I’m going to have to talk about it eventually. Actually Debbie, I don’t have to talk about it ever if I don’t want to and because you’ve said this, I will never talk to you about this or anything else. Despair is when you are so upset, you stop talking, stop verbalizing. When you stop eating because you think that your car is too fat for the road and the only way to solve that is to stop eating so that when you are hit the next time there will be less of you to suffer soft tissue damage. That is despair. Distorted, unreasonable, illogical logic. I hate and fear despair. It is very hard to climb back up through all those layers of despair and there is always that worry in the back of my head that there may be a third time or worse, I hit the lowest level of despair for a final time.

If only last year could’ve been different. But then I wouldn’t have discovered what true friendships really are: there are friends who really aren’t your friends and need to be cut out from your life and there are friends who are more family than family. This kind of friend, the one that you are willing to call your sister, this kind of friend is rare. And I have Despair to thank for it. More like, I have my true friend to thank for it because it was her voice that reached through the darkness and kept me from drowning in despair. Dramatic enough for you? How do I explain this? When you are at your lowest point, people become “well-meaning”. They start talking to you, giving you advice, offering sympathy, telling you what to do and how to make it better. And there are medical professionals and their voices: doctors x 3, massage therapists x 2, physiotherapist, and eventually a psychologist. So many voices. But very quickly they become a jumble of voices. Some loud, some soft, some annoying and some mean and the one voice that is worse above them all is the inside voice that tells you that you aren’t getting better quick enough, that people are watching you, judging you and questioning every decision that you make. It tells you that you should be running and not walking the race. It reminds you of the plan that you are supposed to be on and how you are failing the plan. But there are the voices that are understanding, the voices that let you cry, that just sit with you in silence, that don’t force you to talk, the calming voices that do not judge, that listens when you sound out your thoughts. Not everyone can find that voice, not everyone has that one voice that can help. But I was lucky enough to find two:  Nicole, a friend that I call sister from another mother and father, and Physio Kevin, my physiotherapist who has been with me through all of my car accidents and more.

If this last year had been different, there wouldn’t be Medical Mondays or Physio Fridays. No poking and prodding, no tree pose on the trampoline and no challenges. The one word that will get me to do almost anything. Challenge. There also wouldn’t have been calm voices, quiet understanding and patient prodding to get me into a swimming pool and into yoga. There wouldn’t be floating, snow angels in the water or backstroke. Pool running! Not a great replacement for road running but close enough. There also wouldn’t be fainting in yoga. Hey, it can’t all be good, can it? At least I know. I also know why. I always like to know why.

If this last year had been different, I would’ve run a full marathon. Instead, I got to do the slowest rebound from injury, ever. When I asked Physio Kevin three and a half months after the accident when I could start running again, he said how about next week try 15 (minutes? I’m thinking incredulously. I’ve never done that before!) seconds jogging and 2 minutes walking. Wait. What? 15 seconds jogging? And he actually used the word jogging. We have both agreed to never use that word again. 15 seconds running and 2 minutes walking. I have progressed beyond 15 seconds running since then and if this last year had been different, I would not have rediscovered running the way that I have now. I also wouldn’t have discovered my heart beats to its own crazy rhythm, skipping beats whenever it feels like it. I wouldn’t have met my super cool Cardiologist, who upon first meeting him, called the heart a dumb shit muscle! His words, not mine. I have a cardiologist who swears. A real person!

This last year…has helped me to rediscover running. Not the running that I did before with the Running Room, but running just to see how far and how long. Running and breathing. Running just because I can. Running just to see if I can do better. Running that doesn’t have to involve races. Running like when I first started three years ago, when I first returned from New Zealand. Running just for fun. Running without music. Now there’s a discovery. Try running a ½ marathon without music. If it hadn’t been for this last year, I never would’ve been able to do it. It was an accident of course. I forgot my headphones. Running and meditation, because I forgot my music. Focusing on the breath, thanks to yoga. I never would’ve been able to do that if it wasn’t for this last year. Sadly I was so focused inwards that I actually have very little memory of the course, which in itself is kind of cool that I could be so centered. But running for fun. I had forgotten what it was like.

If this last year had been different, I would’ve run my milestone race.  But I didn’t. Instead there was a heart-to-heart with Physio Kevin, the quiet voice who I chose to listen to, out of all the other voices. This voice who never wanted to give me bad news reconfirmed what was already in my head. That it wouldn’t be very smart of me to run the full marathon this time around.

If this last year had been different, I never would have discovered parkrun nor would I have rediscovered my love for photography through this particular event. I would not have met these really nice people who volunteer their time every Saturday morning at the park so that other people can run and have fun. parkrun, a run for fun, where you race only yourself, where you can meet other people who have the same love that you do and it’s free. How much better can that be?

But it wasn’t like that for me initially. My hopes for a marathon were dashed for the year. I blamed her for that, the driver. My thoughts rarely ever turned towards the driver, but this time I blamed her for this…setback. Even though my head was smart, my heart was not. I wanted to run my marathon. So even though it was something I already knew. Having someone else voice it aloud, even if it was Physio Kevin, it still hurt. Coming out to parkrun was a distraction that I had hoped would improve my mood. At the time I was limited to running only 20 minutes, which was really running 1 minute and walking 2 minutes, and I was also wondering what the hell was going on with my heart and if the near-fainting spells were related. Now here I was watching people running along the river. I was taking photos of their run, their smiling faces and sometimes not smiling faces. I was wanting to enjoy running again but through someone else. Looking at the photos of these people after parkrun and seeing the emotion and remembering that feeling for myself. It was only when it was all quiet at the end of the night, post processing or waiting for Facebook to upload, that’s when the negative voice in my head would start. Why do it? Why put yourself through it, watching people do something that you can’t do? I hate that voice. And for the most part I’m good at pushing that voice down. But there is another voice, the soft positive voice that speaks up a lot more now. Why wouldn’t I do it? I’m pretty good at it. I love running. I love taking photos. If I couldn’t run, then I could take pictures of people running and share it with them. It makes me feel good, knowing that these photos make other people happy. How is that bad for me?

I have returned to my photography and I think it will stay with me a lot longer. I don’t know if I’d call it fate, but it was at parkrun where someone asked me if I’d be interested in helping out with their event as photographer.  He was saying how he liked what I was doing at parkrun and hoped that I could bring the same to their event. The first thing I did was point out that I was not a professional, that I only did this for fun. Not a problem apparently. He went on to tell me about this event, which I had heard about in the past but it never really meant anything to me but it sounded interesting so I said yes. Of course when I got home, I googled the event and then started to wonder what the heck I had gotten myself involved with. This was not just a little parkrun that involved 30 to 40 participants and a 5K stretch of pavement, but a massive event that involved 4000 + riders and 122K of road. Cyclists.  It was GranFondo Whistler. Cheez n Crackers!

We didn’t talk about this, Oliver and I, for another few weeks which was fine. If he had changed his mind, I would’ve understood. But we did have a sit down after parkrun one Saturday. As he was explaining what he envisioned and how I would fit into this event, my friend Dayna, who had been reviewing the day’s photos pointed out one shot that I had taken. It happened to be a picture of him, Oliver. Oli. It was at the start of the run and he was looking off to the side and there was a look. His face was soft and relaxed. Maybe distracted by a bird? I just stared at that photo. I had a hard time looking away. All I could think was, Wow. I did that. I took that photo. I captured a moment, his own quiet moment. It was a good photo and it was my photo. I can do this.

I have been to several cycling related events since then. Most times Oli has been there, working the crowds as I watched the crowds. He has always made time at the end to chat with me which is nice.  He has always been very kind, said very nice things about my photography but it wasn’t until this one event, at the tail end of the party…We were talking about the photos from the very first event. There was thanks and praise and super nice things were said, and then out of the blue, a huge hug. Totally unexpected but most definitely appreciated, because it was then that I started to feel that everything would be okay. Not just about the photography but everything. This one sincere gesture of gratitude…was a kindness to me that I don’t think anyone would understand and I think it’s safe for me to call him a friend now.

I don’t think too much about the last year anymore. I can’t wish for it to be different because if it had been different, I would not be where I am now. My yoga/pilates instructor told me once that all of this crap that I was going through would change me, that I was going to come out stronger and better. I don’t know if I’m stronger or better but I am willing to poke at my comfort zones now, to see how far I can go before the heart starts skipping beats again. KIDDING. Hannah the Hammer Heart, my heart, skips beats whenever she feels like it. Yes I named my heart. And yes I’m still trying to go back to yoga even with the near-fainting spells. And even more amazing? I have a bike now. How about that for pushing the comfort zone?

I was talking to Oli this last week at the most recent cycling event. We were going over how this particular event unfolded and how it could be improved for the next time around and of course we talked about the photos, and as I listened to him talk, I started to hear not just his words, but the sentiment behind the words. I started to listen to his voice. He liked my photos, my photography. Not just him but other people within the company. What I was doing for him was appreciated, more than I realized. And he could see something in me that I could not and it was…heartwarming, because here was someone I barely knew, that believed in me. It is time to start listening to his voice.

I can’t wish for the last year to be different. What happened to me can’t be changed, but it has changed me. I am on a roller coaster and that’s okay. I have more ups than downs both physically and mentally now. I can run again, better than before. I have a bike that I love and although I fell off of her three days after taking her home, I still got back on to finish my ride that same evening. I still get nervous driving outside my comfort zone. So the upcoming road trip will be a real test. But I’m headed to another parkrun in Kelowna so the nerves will just have to suck it up. Anxiety kicks in when I experience stupid drivers but yoga breathing helps to relieve the tension. I still think my car is fat, but whether I am eating or not will make no difference to the size of my car. I am a little more cautious when it comes to making friends, but I think I have found some good people in parkrun and Granfondo. I know what it feels like to feel despair. I know the lowest level of despair and it will always scare me, because at one point, it was so bad that I could not see any other way out but one, and no one should ever chose that way out.

This last year was not a good year but it wasn’t all bad. I am stronger and better than I was because I had Nicole and Physio Kevin. I chose to listen to their voices amongst all the other voices that were bombarding me. Although I see less of Physio Kevin now, I still hear his voice and remember the things he said and did and made me do to get through this roller coaster that I was and still am riding. I am still working on becoming stronger and better because a new voice, a new friend sees something in me that I am only just beginning to see in myself. When I agreed to help Oli with the event, I wasn’t looking to get anything out of it other than to just have a nice distraction from my current place in life. It never occurred to me the he would be the one helping me return to a life that I had forgotten.

During our last conversation, I was telling Oli about my bike and that feeling when riding my bike. I didn’t recognize it, when I first felt it. It was Joy. Child-like joy. I had forgotten what it felt like to feel this way. If this last year had been different, I wonder if I would have found joy. I don’t even remember the last time I felt it inside me. But I think since becoming involved with parkrun, since I picked up my camera again, Joy was slowly making a comeback. I could see it in the photos of the runners. I remember one photo in particular of one of the regular runners, Clare. The look on her face was absolute joy as she ran towards the finish line. I remember how I wanted to feel that again and how happy I was to be able to capture that moment for her. I saw it in all the runners’ faces every time I looked at their photos and I never realized how much I missed that feeling until I was on my lovely new bicycle. Even when I ran my first parkrun, seeing the photos of myself, I can remember the rush of excitement, the happiness of finally getting to run a simple 5k. I was back running and I was on the other side of the lens this time and it felt so good. And there it was in my photo. I had that look on my face, the same look that I always saw when I was shooting their photos.  Joy.

I can’t change what happened these last 12 months and I don’t wish for it to be different. Not anymore. I am who I am now, I am where I am now, because of the last year. I know there will still be more ups and downs on this roller coaster. But I also know that because of this last year, I have a good support network, truly good friends and family that will be there with me on this ride. If it wasn’t for this last year, I wouldn’t have this now. And I wouldn’t have this any other way.

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While I was away…

School came to an end… DSC_3559

Work related training could not be avoided anymore…

Chilliwack Lake to de-stress

Chilliwack Lake to de-stress

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Summer officially arrived…

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Canada had another birthday…

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Quarry Rock called out again for another visit…IMG_3671 IMG_3667

The newest of Auntie’s Favourites came to visit…IMG_3759 IMG_3831 IMG_3850

Someone said I needed a little more colour…IMG_3924 IMG_3919

A couple of my Favourites decided I needed a little more colour, but not so bright this time…

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We had some late night fun at a family wedding…IMG_3990 IMG_4059

Donuts were calling…IMG_3680 IMG_3670

A visit to my newest Favourite was a must…IMG_3784

A three year project finally came to an end…IMG_3897

The Night Race had to be revisited…IMG_4031

As well as the Granville Island Turkey Trot…
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And of all things, who knew that working on this could cause an injury that would hurt more than all my running injuries…IMG_4070 IMG_4081 IMG_4076IMG_4093 IMG_4124 IMG_4102 IMG_4097

But I recovered just in time to run my final 10K of the year…IMG_4127 IMG_4138 IMG_4129IMG_4134 IMG_4150 IMG_4154IMG_4156

And less than 24hrs later, completed my final half marathon of the year…IMG_4159IMG_4166 IMG_4170366576_209662270_XLarge IMG_4176

And there are still two months left before the end of the year…

 

 

Run for Women

So how does a person recover from dehydration and heat exhaustion after running their first 1/2 marathon?  Well other than rest, fluids, electrolytes, and more rest…how about another run?  On this beautiful day down in Westbrook Village at UBC, the Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women was an event not to be missed.  It consisted of a kids 1KM, 5KM and 10KM run/walk.  My friend Deb joined me and we both walked the 5KM route.  And what a lovely route.  It took us into Pacific Spirit Park and as always, it was a really nice set of trails.  We were shielded from the sun’s rays and heat and it made for a very pleasant adventure.

This was a really enjoyable event.  I call it an event because it was more than just a run.  We had several great speakers before the start of the run:  John Stanton, Dr. Hedy Fry and speakers from Shoppers Drug Mart and the BC Women’s Hospital.  All the donations and pledges went to BC Women’s Hospital and I think they said a total of $20,000 was raised.  Amazing.  There were lots of ladies in tutus, rainbow coloured hair, sparkly hula skirts, feather boas and I got quite a few compliments on my rainbow socks!  Rainbows make everything better!  If I do this again next year, I’ll have to find a tutu to go with the socks!  I think this would be a very inspiring race for the kids as well.  There was a fabulous group of volunteers along the route cheering everyone on and a lot of video and camera people at this event.  After the walk, we were awarded these lovely little bracelets, rather than medals and then we joined the line up for a free pancake breakfast.  While we waited for fresh pancakes off the grill, we took turns checking out the other booths and scored some yummy Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cakes from Doughgirls Comfort Kitchen & Bakeshop.  Delicious!  There were banana’s galore!  And thank goodness for that.  Deb and I arrived fairly early and the event started a little late and I ended up scarfing down 3 bananas before the start of the 5KM.  There were also taste samples of granola and Murchie’s Tea.  Instead of juice boxes, we got coconut water and everyone received a lovely little goody bag from Shoppers Drug Mart.  There was an area set up for massages, but you had to sign up early for that.  We missed out.  Lesson learned for next time.  There was also an area for stretching/yoga and a little further away was a bouncy castle for all the kids.  McDonalds was there giving out free coffee, if the coconut water wasn’t cutting it.  All in all a very nice way to start off the day.

I hope everyone had a lovely day today as well and I hope everyone has a Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow.

Luv, Aunty!

My Personal Best

First off I want to apologize to everyone who followed my blog.  It’s been a very long time since I last wrote something.  However in my defence, I haven’t had much to say, or rather, there’s only so much a person can say about training and running before it gets very repetitive.

I last wrote about the Chilly Chase in January, a 10KM.  Since then, I’ve been training for the BMO Vancouver Marathon – the Half Marathon for me.  I never did get around to running the Hot Chocolate 5KM race due to an ankle sprain.  That wasn’t such bad news.  I’ll just look forward to doing it next year.  What was bad was when my doctor said it would take 8 weeks to recover fully from this ankle sprain.  What made it even worse was that I did not listen to my body and actually ran on this sprained ankle for a two full weeks and it was only because the pain was so bad to the point that I could not sleep that I decided I should see the doctor.  This was in the middle of my 1/2 marathon training.  Not good, since I had 10 weeks of training to go.  I had just reached a point in my training where I was going faster and feeling stronger.  We were just beginning our hill training.  I was actually looking forward to hill training.  NO ONE looks forward to hill training.  I can tell you there was a lot of worry for my part about the big event.  There was even discussion about me not doing the 1/2 marathon.  Better to look after my health for future races than to run a race and destroy a running future.   Arghhh!  I went from having a goal of finishing in just over 2:30, to just finishing, to possibly not even doing it.  But after seeing a wonderful physiotherapist and having a very supportive running group, I managed to finish the training clinic and successfully ran my first 1/2 marathon with a finishing time of 2hrs 55 min.  I’ve never been so proud.  During my last two long slow distance runs, it was looking like I would finish at 3hrs.  So when my time came in at 2hrs 55 min, I was super happy.  My first 1/2 marathon.  My first personal best.

I couldn’t have had a better day.  The weather was perfect.  Sunny.  Breezy.  Beautiful route.  Great cheerleaders along the route.  I think the best part, besides the fantastic route, was right at the end.  The spectators lined up on both sides of the street, cheering everyone on as they headed for the final finish.  It was really motivating.  I can see why this is ranked as Canada’s top destination race.  We started in Queen Elizabeth park, went across the Cambie street bridge and into Chinatown.  From there we went through the downtown towards BC Place Stadium and into Yaletown.  Then we ran along Pacific Boulevard by the water and then into Stanley Park.  It was so tempting to stop and take pictures.  This is definitely a repeat race.  The 1/2 marathon.  I am not even contemplating a full marathon.  Running for more than 3hrs straight is probably too much for this body of mine.  I’ve done hikes that have lasted 6hrs + (Tongariro Alpine Crossing) but that’s different from running.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Some reminders for me for the next 1/2 marathon.  Body Glide is your friend.  So is spaghetti and meat sauce.  If you take ibuprofen, remember to take it with food.  In my case, that means more than one PowerGel Blast.  Drink all the water/Gatorade that is on your belt.  And don’t skimp on the PowerGel Blasts.  Oh, and the BMO 1/2 Marathon starts at 7am.  That means get there by 6:15 the latest so you can dump off your gear and use the porto-potties.  And it was a good idea to wear a sweater in the am, just make sure it’s an old one that you’re okay with leaving behind at the start.  Same with the free BMO gloves.  They were free.  Wear them to keep your fingers warm and then dump them rather than carry them when it warms up.  AND because you’ll be at the starting corrals by 6:15 latest, that means eating your banana and two yogurts by 5:15.  And remember! You were hungry by the start of the race.  That is not good.  So learn to eat a bagel and peanut butter in the morning, along with the banana and yogurt.  Or oatmeal.  Or skip the oatmeal.  Good job with the gear check bag.  Changing into sandals was a good idea.  Changing in to dry clothes was even better.  Remember to drink all your water/Gatorade.  And seek help when your start to feel shaky.  There is no shame in that.  Passing out is bad, especially when there is no one around to help.  Remember to book a full on massage after the race.  15 minutes just doesn’t cut it.  However if 15 minutes is all you’ve got, it’s better than nothing.  Also, it’s okay to take more than one sandwich.  Skip the fruit bar thing.  That was gross.

Speaking of food, what does one eat after a 1/2 marathon?  Well this finishing winner decided on a lovely Spanish Latte from Caffe D’Artigiano, my favourite, and then I went home for fish sticks and two soft bowled eggs.  A little lack lustre, however I was feeling kind of queasy after nearly passing out so I was just looking for the easiest thing to make at home and that’s all I had in the fridge/freezer.  Tomorrow will be a better meal, with Eggs Benedict perhaps and then sushi and maybe another Spanish Latte or a Flat White or both.  Yum.

I have one more run/walk later this week, an easy 5K walk with my friend Deb, the Shopper’s Drug Mart Run for Women and then I’ll be taking a break until the middle of June when I start up with another 1/2 Marathon training clinic.  I’ve got to prep for the Oasis Rock n’ Roll Vancouver 10K and 1/2 marathon.  I’ll be doing both runs this time.  Oh what a year this is going to be.  And hiking season should be starting soon too!

 

Vancouver Chilly Chase

It’s funny, the weather in Vancouver.  The last 10KM race I did was back in November 2014.  The Vancouver Historic Half and 10KM run.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day.  The sky was blue and clear.  There was a small breeze and it was absolutely freezing!  And then there is today, where the weather started out nice.  Blue sky and some cloud and then ultimately all cloud, but it was a balmy 12 degrees C.  Tank top and shorts weather!  Well, maybe tank top and capris.  Well, maybe what I was wearing for this race (which was exactly the same as what I wore for my last 10KM race) was sufficient.  At least I didn’t need to wear a woolly hat on top this time.

Welcome to 2015.  I have already celebrated the new year in my last post, but this is my first 10KM race of the year, the Vancouver Chilly Chase.  The route was out and back and it was along the False Creek seawall and it was great!  At this very moment, I don’t know what my finishing time is, only because the official results have not been posted yet and I forgot to stop my watch after crossing the finish line.  It didn’t even cross my mind until I was half way through my banana.  Love bananas.  And I’ve learned to love Orange Gatorade.  I can guess that my time will be around 1hr and 22 min.  And I’m okay with that.  My challenge this year is the 1/2 Marathon.  BMO Vancouver in May – to finish, and then the Rock and Roll Vancouver in October – to do better than the one in May.  Yes.  That’s two half marathons.  And in between I’ll have the sporadic 10KM race and guess what?  I’ll even have a 5KM race in March and a Fun Run in August.  That’s right!  An untimed race, where people will be throwing colour bombs at the participants throughout the race.  I really must be nuts to do a Fun Run!  But really, anything that will get me out and about is a good thing.

So back to the Chilly Chase.  It was a good run.  The Half Marathoners started first, then the 15KMs, then the 10KMs and finally the 5KMs.  As these speedy devils raced passed the 10 KM runners, I accepted the fact that they were very fast.  It’s a 5 KM race for them.  On the other hand, I was all about endurance.  I was running 10KM.  I had a certain pace to stick with to get the specific finish time.  But as I reached the turn around point for the 10KM, I was being passed by the 15KM runners.  Now, that was a little disheartening.  Until I saw a guy standing off to the side with his sign:  “You think you’re struggling?  I’m out of coffee!”  Yes, that is a very cheesy sign, but it was enough for me to put a smile on my face and lift my spirits.  Who knew I could be so easily appeased!  Maybe it’s all the endorphins generated from the run?  And then as I continued on my way, I just looked across the water and stopped thinking about the run and chose to admire the view.  A precarious endeavour when you are on an open race course, as in the seawall was not closed to the public.  There was Granville Island.  Colourful concrete thingys!  There was the Cambie Bridge, A gruelling on-ramp, if you have to run it for the Sun Run in April.  Oi!  Cops!  Wait, I’m just racing.  It’s all good.  And Hey, right across the way is the finish line and the former Olympic Village.  Now I just had to get passed Science World and then down the last few hundred meters.  Vancouver is a beautiful place to run.  Next to the Stanley Park Seawall, I love the False Creek Seawall.  Yes I know they are the same seawall, but it’s easier to identify the sections by the certain parts of the water that we follow.  There were a lot of non racers running on this route as well, so if you are interested in running this race, keep that in mind.  Non-racers, bikers, walkers and tourists and dogs on leashes and baby strollers.  Come to think of it, that’s actually a lot of people to dodge.  But really the seawall is wide enough to share with everyone.  And they were very encouraging as well.  So really, a very enjoyable race.  Will I run this race again?  I don’t know.  Since I’ve decided that I’ll be returning to New Zealand early next year, the timing may not work out.  But if New Zealand wasn’t in the cards, I probably would run this race again.  I liked the route and receiving encouragement from complete strangers is actually very nice.

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Next race?  Vancouver Hot Chocolate Run.  With a name like that, how can I not?

Luv, Aunty!

Super Start to a Super New Year!

Only three days into the New Year and I am already thinking it’s going to be a great year.  Optimism abounds or something extra special was in my Peppermint tea this night.  I’m going with optimism.  Despite the fact that Vancouver is now under a “Winter Storm Warning” where we can expect “Hazardous winter conditions”, I am prepping for my long run tomorrow morning.  Yes, I know, running in the snow is probably not the smartest thing to do, but it’s not like I’ve never done it before.  We’ll see.  It is Vancouver.  The snow may turn into slushy rain the moment it hits the ground.

So why, you may ask, am I feeling like this?  Is it because I started the new year with a 5K Resolution Run that turned out to be little more than 5K, since we went the wrong way and had to turn back to go the right way?  Would it have anything to do with the fact that it was ridiculously cold for January 1, 2015, but not as cold as my coldest run back on Nov 30, 2014, or maybe because it was an untimed run, which I generally don’t sign up for, but I did it just because it was New Year’s day?

It might’ve had something to do with me meeting up with my run clinic leader again, after not seeing him since September.

It could be that I’ve just reconnected with my friend Korri, who I haven’t heard from in a year.  She was one of the greatest influences when I was preparing in 2013 for my New Zealand trip in early 2014.  All those hikes, all those fitness sessions, were so I could climb a volcano and not ‘die’ doing it.

Maybe I’m feeling this way because of the sugar flowing through my system from my nephew’s birthday party today.  Rice Krispies Marshmallow birthday cake with egg free/dairy free icing.  Yummy!  And three colour, three layer jello with optional coconut cream topping!  Sugary decadence!  Happy Birthday to Little Brother N.  I know you love Thomas the Train, but I also know you love Superkid.  I could tell just by the way you tossed him aside, I mean in the air, away from yourself…I’m sure it was to see if the doll could fly.  I mean, why wouldn’t he?  He’s got a cape!

Pattern is from:  Jean Greenhowe’s Little Gift Dolls:  Superkid

Maybe I’m feeling this way because I just saw the final instalment to The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies, and I’m rewriting the Hobbit again.  Again?  Yes, Again!  Don’t worry, I’ll get that out of my system as quickly as possible.  But in the meantime, I’m seriously thinking about returning to New Zealand again.  Possibly in 2016?

Maybe it’s because it’s a brand new year with endless possibilities and I’ve already ‘pencilled’ into my calendar, new races to run.  I have found a new challenge and like I hinted in a previous post, it involves more running, literally more running, such as running a 1/2 marathon, specifically the BMO Vancouver Marathon, but it will be the 1/2 only for me.

But since I’ve almost decided, say 90% decided, that I’ll be returning to New Zealand, to climb a volcano that I could not climb the last time I was there (not for lack of fitness, but more due to injury), that means more hiking again this year.

Which means the real challenge this year is learning balance.  Balancing my running, my hiking and my life and somewhere I’ll fit in work too.

There will be no resolutions made this year.  Resolutions are made to be broken which is why I haven’t made resolutions in years upon years.  People feel bad when they can’t keep a resolution.  But Challenges?  That changes a person for life because the challenge changes as the person changes and I look forward to this year’s challenge and all future challenges!

I think it’s the sugar.

Luv, Aunty!

Happy New Year!

2014, Good Night!  You were the most memorable year that I have ever had in a long time.

To sum it up in a few words:  New Zealand, Adventure, Nieces, Nephews, New Nephew, Friends, Challenges, Running, Racing, Knitting, New Zealand (Loved it so much, I had to mention it twice!)

~

2015, I’ll see you in the morning!  I look forward to whatever new adventures and challenges await – 5 KM Resolution Run at 10 am, January 1, 2015.  Hey! At least it’s not the Polar Dip.  That will be a challenge for another year.  The challenge for 2015?  Undecided.  I still have my running legs and the mountains have caught my attention again.

I hope Everyone has a safe and Happy New Year!

Luv, Aunty

Impending Doom! or the Mad Christmas Rush!

So what does one do when you are finally finished the challenge for the year?  Other than signing up for a Resolution Run on January 1, 2015, this person looks at the calendar, after defrosting from the Vancouver Historic Half and starts to feel, ANXIOUS!  A feeling of impeding…something…impending doom?  Stress! that there’s not enough time!  But not enough time for what?

In past years, the first day of December, regardless of the day of the week it falls on, would be the day I put up the Christmas tree.  It’s a fake tree of course, but it’s what I’ve grown up on.  But this year, I decided to put it off to the first weekend.  And I think that’s what started my stress.  But at the time, I couldn’t pin point the cause.  All I could think of was, This time last year, I didn’t feel like this.  What the heck is going on?  And then it dawned on me that this time last year, I was prepping for a fantastic adventure and I was pretty much in vacation mode by November of last year.  This year, there is no adventure for me to prep for, instead I had this feeling of running out of time.

I was running out of time.  I had 25 days till Christmas.  I had 4 Christmas knits to complete and I was only nearing completion of one project.  Twenty-five days left.  I was running out of time.  Crikey!  I don’t have time for the flu!  Cursed Flu Shot!  Always a guarantee that I’ll get sick from it but to get the full blown FLU!!!!!  I don’t have time for this, but I also don’t have energy to fight it.  Thank you Neo Citron and Tylenol Cold and Flu.  However I should’ve remembered from the last time I had full blown Flu, too much medication and/or a combination of both will give you heart palpitations.  That didn’t help my feelings of stress and anxiety.  Crikey!  Poh Poh has set the date for the family Christmas Party.  I have 11 days left.  Eleven!  It’s a good thing that heart palpitations affects your heart and not your hands.  I could still knit while on medication.  I have 11 days left.  I have two projects to complete.  I was running out of time.  Knitting was supposed to keep my calm.  But I was no longer feeling very calm.  And depending on the project, there was literally blood, sweat and tears poured into these projects!  Well, maybe not into the projects, because that would be gross and I would warn my sisters to wash the projects before handing over to the children.  But there were needles stabbed into fingers, you know, the kind of stabbing where you just stare at the needle in your thumb and think, Holy crap, I can’t believe I just did that.  That’s a big hole.  That’s gonna scar.  That actually really hurts.  That’s a lot of blood.  I need a Disney Princess bandaid!  Maybe two!  There were late nights till 1am for the last seven nights, prior to the party and for the last project, I was still putting on the final touches 15 minutes before the dinner party.  Blood, late nights, stiff neck, hand cramps, lack of sleep, and lots of love went into these projects.  But they were completed just in time to hand over to the kids.  Not to be opened till Christmas morning, of course, but at least they could go home at the end of the party with a gift from their Aunty.

And now time has returned to normal.  I have just finished my final project of the year, to be handed over to Little brother N on his second birthday.  I still have two projects on the needle.  One I started early in March of this year.  Yarn was purchased in New Zealand.  Pattern is a Lord of the Rings inspired pattern.  The other, I started two years ago.  This one has always been my fall back project, the one that I turn to when I need a break from the more complicated projects.  I feel no stress when I knit it and whenever someone asks me who I’m knitting it for, I can honestly say that I don’t know, because I haven’t decided who to give it to.  I do know that I will give it away.  I almost always give away everything that I knit.  Currently, I have kept only 4 of my projects, two shawls and two pairs of fingerless gloves.  And it’s not that I don’t love each and every project, but I love knitting each project for someone that I know.  I just don’t have the right person to give it away to yet, hence it’s been on the needles for two years now.  Well, enough babbling.  Let me show you my objects of stress, anxiety and love, started and completed in 2014!

Pattern is from Sarah Keen’s Knitted Wild Animals:  Monkey

I finished the monkey for Sister P’s first baby, Baby A (Auntie likes to call him Stormtrooper Hobbit) back in June or July so he’s really not part of the Christmas rush.  But he is one of my 2014 knitting projects.

Pattern is from Jean Greenhowe’s Christmas Special:  Christmas Stockings

I thought this was the perfect size stocking for a baby.  And I really liked that Santa was removable from the chimney!  Sorry, there’s no presents in Santa’s bag.  I hope Stormtrooper Hobbit likes the Santa!

Pattern is from Jean Greenhowe’s Christmas Treasures:  Mr. Twizzle

I love it when friends flip through my books and tell me which ones they like, especially when they don’t realize that they are telling me which Christmas gifts to knit for them!  Of course I already knew that Nicole liked snowmen.  Mr. Twizzle can stand on his own.  But he cannot be thrown into the washing machine!  Spot clean only!  And it’s not because of the yarn.  There’s cardboard at the bottom of his shoes and in his hat, to help keep their shape and to allow it to stand properly.

Pattern is from Jean Greenhowe’s Christmas Special:  Cinderella Topsy-Turvy Doll

I can’t decide if this one or Mr. Twizzle is my most prized knit.  Big Sister B is now the happy owner of Cinderella.  However I just found out that Big Sister B doesn’t like the frowning Cinderella, because she’s sad.  I’ve had a request from B’s Mom to change the frown into a smile.  Not a problem.  As long Cinderella is well loved, I don’t mind making changes.

Pattern is from Jean Greenhowe’s Fabulous Fun-Knits:  Mini Sports Car

You would think, being so tiny, they would be the easiest and fastest to knit up.  NOT SO!  For Little Brother N, I had to makes sure these guys were baby friendly.  The pattern calls for googly eyes to be glued on.  For fear of the child deciding it would be fun to pick the eyes off and eat it, I decided to embroider on some eyes.  Everything is secured on so tightly, that there is really no way for any “car” parts to fall off.  Hand cramps!  Needle in Thumb!  Late night knitting while the boy was sleeping on the couch!  Knitting under really crappy lighting for fear of him waking up from too much light!  There was a lot of love poured into these cars.

Pattern is from Jean Greenhowe’s Fabulous Fun-Knits:  Mirabelle the Mermaid and Kevin, the Baby Crab

Big Sister Z is now the proud owner of the mermaid and the crab.  I don’t think I ever mentioned this story, but when I was working on this project, I was still recovering from the flu.  And on one of these days, Big Sister Z was over at our house.  She had just finished school and was in the kitchen getting a drink of water.  And standing from the kitchen, she spotted me knitting away.  Then there was silence.  She looked at me.  I looked at her.  And I knew I had a problem.  She wanted to look.  She came charging at me as I foolishly hid the doll under a pillow.  Clearly I wasn’t thinking properly.  The kid was 5.  There’s nothing hidden under a pillow.  All I could do was rush towards her as she rushed towards me.  It was like football and blocking.  She rushed to the left.  I blocked.  She rushed to the right.  I blocked.  Then she rushed down through my legs.  SMART girl.  And fast.  I had to grab her by her ankles and drag her away from the couch back towards the kitchen as she shouted at me telling me she wanted to see her Christmas present.  I had to use the tickle distraction technique.  It was too funny!  Anyway, Kevin the crab is sitting on Mirabelle’s chair in the photos.  However there is so much stuffing in her tail, that she can’t really sit, so it is Kevin’s chair or Mirabelle’s pillow.  I had a slight issue with the crab’s shell.  Yes, it’s a shell.  But sadly, it kind of looks like a funny hair piece.

Pattern is from Jean Greenhowe’s Dolly Mixtures:  Jake, the Pirate and Bob, the dog

When I was talking to Big Sister Z a while back, I asked her what I should make for her little brother for Christmas.  She pointed to the cover of the magazine and told me to knit the clown.  I asked if she was sure I should knit the clown and she nodded definitively.  And I of course realized that it was because of Bob, the dog, sitting right next to the clown.  In his whole three years I’ve never know Little Brother Z to like clowns, let alone be exposed to clowns, so like all good Aunties, I asked his mom.  Pirates!  Little Brother Z likes pirates.  So the final project before the family Christmas party was the pirate.  And then on Christmas day, I was told that Little Brother Z loves Bob the dog better than Jake the Pirate.  Bob, the dog, who was finished 15 minutes before the dinner.  Bob, the dog who has now been renamed Baby Woa Woa.  Next year, he’ll just get a whole bunch of little Bob, the dogs!  Bob will need little brothers and sisters of his own!

There is one final project to show, but it was completed just the other day.  Since it hasn’t been revealed to the child and to the parents, I won’t be showing any photos until the new year.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, surrounded by all your loved ones.

Luv, Aunty!

One Day a River, the Next Day a Lake

It’s amazing how quickly nature can change your world.  Two weeks ago, Vancouver experienced some serious rain.  Rainfall warnings, wind warnings, ferry cancellations, the works.  And with it came a rock slide.  Some newspapers even called it a “Monstrous” rock slide in the North Shore.  I don’t know what a monstrous rock slide looks like but it was significant enough to have created a permanent lake.  And this lake has now submerged the bridge crossing the former Seymour River (now a yet-to-be-named lake).  The Twin Bridges.  If you follow my blog, I wrote about the Twin Bridges, or rather the trails of the Two Canyon Loop back in September 2013.  The first of the Twin Bridges was built back in 1908 to allow easier access to the other side of the Seymour River.  The second Twin Bridge was built in 1926.  Both were eventually dismantled in 1993 and 2009 respectively.  I don’t know when the current bridge was built, but this bridge that Nicole and I crossed last year, in the rain, that is submersed in the new lake, will most likely be dismantled in the new year.  There is fear of more debris piling up at the bridge and causing more water concerns in the area.  I’ve been looking at the few pictures and videos of the bridge and the area around it and it’s quite…Wow!  The amount of water to fill up the canyon to the top of the bridge is…Wow!  And it’s only because I was in a mad rush to finish all my Christmas knitting and the commen sense of my other friend, Tamara that prevented me from heading out there again with camera in hand.  That and the newspaper article said it was dangerous.  If you’re interested in reading the newspaper article, here is the link.

 

View from the current Twin Bridge

View from the now-submersed Twin Bridge

It’s hard to believe that this view is gone.  That in fact, all these trees are now under water and will eventually die because of rain.  From this photo, I can imagine the rock slide just at the top of the river or just around the bend of the river.  That’s a crazy amount of water to create a lake.

Just a little wet!  But Feeling the Fresh Mountain Air!

The railings are gone, the deck of the bridge is still there.  And very soon, the trees here will be gone.  The Forces of Nature!

It’s a strange feeling to see this photo and know that this bridge is no longer in use.  The blue railings are gone now.  The photo from the newspaper shows the water level right at the bridge level.  Anyone who foolishly crossed that bridge at that time would’ve been sloshing through several inches of water.  I’ve seen a video of what it’s like now, two weeks later and the water level has dropped a little bit, but truly this is a (pointless and dangerous) bridge over a lake now, not a bridge over a river.    And now as I write this, we are experiencing another rainfall warning, with ferry cancellations as well.  I can hear the rain patter against my windows and as much as I love the sound of the rain on the windows, I wonder what nature will do to the world tomorrow.

r…r…r…Run for f…f…f…Fun!

Today was my final race of the year.  The Vancouver Historic Half.  I’m not sure why it’s called the “Historic” half since the website says it the 4th annual.  Perhaps it used be called by a different name.  Or perhaps people who have run this race, 5K, 10K or a half marathon, have made history in previous years?  I don’t think I can say I made history.  But I certainly will remember quite a few things about this race and the days leading up to it.  It’s not often your running route gets closed due to high waves and crashing logs just two days before the race along the Stanley Park Seawall.  Luckily the seawall was reopened the next day and there was no damage, especially since the 10K route would be right along the section that was closed.  This also one of the few races where I actually worried about the weather.  Not that it (the weather) would prevent me from running, but it would require more extensive planning on what to wear.  Snow was ruled out by Wednesday, but the fact that the temperatures were going to dip drastically over the weekend had me thinking about ice.  It had my family telling me to be careful of black ice!  Black ICE!  And then there was the actual temperature on the morning of the run.  Normally, the number I’m most interested in is my finish time (1hr 24) but the number I’m most in awe of is -6.1C.  Holy Cow!  Big Cow.  That would certainly explain why I lost feeling in my fingers 2 kilometres into the run.  It was freakin’ freezing!  And yes, there was ice.  Lots of patches of ice that was easy to run around, except at Brockton Point.  There was no way around the ice.  The entire width of that section was a skating rink.  It was just best to walk, or slide through it.  And of all the luck, to enhance the -6.1C, there was a fantastic windy breeze.  And who knew that shaded areas of the seawall could be so much colder than the sunny parts.  Right now, I don’t know if my forehead is itchy because of minor frostbite or slight sunburn.  Since there’s no colour change, peeling skin or pain, I’m ruling out sunburn.  I haven’t googled symptoms for frostbite, so I’m gonna just say that my skin is trying to defrost a little which is why it is itchy.  Please don’t think too poorly of me.  It’s not my first time running in the cold.  I was dressed properly.  Layers.  Wool.  Fleece.  Toque.  Gloves.  Long winter running pants.  Same pair of running shoes from my previous races.  Wool socks.  My core was warm.  My head was warm.  My nose was cold.  So cold.  And so were my fingers.  Perhaps I’ll have to invest in a pair of mittens.  And a balaclava.  I’ve just never run at -6.1C.  The best I’ve ever done was at -3C.  If I didn’t already read about it in a “Runner’s World” article, I would’ve had a few fleeting thoughts about freezing my lungs!

Oh well.  I’ll know for my next winter race.  However, perhaps I’ll be lucky and it won’t be minus temperatures for my next race.  The name “Chilly Chase” actually doesn’t bode well for my hopes though.  Enough of my hopes and wishes.  The Vancouver Historic Half.  Despite the cold, I liked it.  I like any race that runs around the Stanley Park Seawall.  However this race did not go around the entire seawall.  We started at the Stanley Pavillion and made our way out to the seawall, about 5.5 K along the route before turning around and returning the same way.  It was a beautiful morning, without a single cloud in the sky.  The tide was out, the windy was not crazy, the water was relatively still and if it wasn’t for the temperature, it would’ve been a most enjoyable run.  If the number in the first paragraph wasn’t a good enough clue, my finish time was 1hr 24 min and 19 sec.  Yes, my time increased and Yes I am actually very pleased with that time.  Even though I had optimistic thoughts of, “I’ll run faster, so I can finish faster and get out of the cold faster”, I also knew that realistically, it wasn’t going to happen.  And since this was going to be my last race of the year, I decided it would be okay to stop along the route and take photos.  Seriously, tell me this view was not worth almost 90 minutes in -6C.  I love the seawall.

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Love this view of the Lion’s Gate Bridge!

We almost made it to just under the Lion’s Gate Bridge, and then it was time to turn around and head back to the finish line.  One other thing I need to remember, should I choose to run this race next year, is I need better sunglasses.  The position of the sun in the sky as we turned around, meant that the sun was in our face for the return leg.  Maybe it is a sunburn.  But it’s just my forehead.  Guess I’ll know for sure tomorrow morning.  Anyway, along the return portion, us 10K’ers were seeing the half marathoners on their second leg around the seawall.  And for people who had already run more than 10K, they sure were friendly and encouraging.  I got a couple of high fives as we passed each other and lots of “You’re almost there”s from runners and spectators.  It was a really nice atmosphere.  And yes, there were spectators.

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Another pretty medal!

At the finish line, we all headed for the warmest place in the world, inside the Pavilion.  There was the standard fare:  bananas, bagels…Mandarin oranges? and 2 bite brownies!!!  YUM!  That almost makes this race a potential repeater!  There was water and gatorade.  With time, you too will learn to like gatorade.  All in all, this was a really nice race for me to end the year.  It has been an enjoyable running season and I look forward to the next year.  Now if I could only stop sneezing.

 

 

Admiralty Point

When a trail becomes a National Park, how can you not go?  Admiralty Point and the 190 acres surrounding it has been designated a National Park.  Had I not stumbled upon the article in the Vancouver Sun, I probably would’ve put off this trail for quite some time.  Since all the hiking/training I’ve been doing over the last year and half I’ve been looking for progressively more difficult trails to hike but I’m given a reminder every so often that the challenge is not always about the difficulty level but about taking the time to enjoy the challenge that’s been handed to you.  Vancouvertrails.com classifies this as an easy trail and I have to agree.  There is very minimal elevation in this hike, only at the beginning of the trail and then the last 600 m from Admiralty Point to Burns Point.  And the only reason the last 600 m felt so difficult was probably more because of the rain than anything else.  That and maybe because I haven’t hiked anything since July.  Been a bit busy with the running.  Running doesn’t require carrying hiking back packs.  And hiking boots are heavier than running shoes.  Hmmmm, that’s a few too many excuses for my huffing and puffing.  Oh well.  At least I had good company.  Nicole joined me for this outing.  It is very nice to have company on a hike.  I think I mentioned that before.  One thing I never mentioned before was the colours of the season.  Most of my hikes have been in the summer, whether it be here in the Lower Mainland or in New Zealand, and the colours are beautiful greens, and blues, gorgeous summer colours  But on this hike, we had deep oranges, reds and burnt yellows and with the rain, mossy greens, fir tree greens and mushroom browns.  Really pretty.  Well worth the time and effort.  I do have to mention a few cautions though.  Dogs.  And not that they are dangerous.  The two that we encountered were on leash.  They’re owners were very pleasant.  It was the previous dog walkers, the ones who bagged their dog pooh and then left the bag on the side of the trail.  Really?  You were only a couple of meters away from a garbage can.  And the other dog owner who didn’t pick up their dog pooh.  Thank goodness for Nicole.  I don’t tend to look down too often, so with my luck I would’ve stepped in it.  It blended in with the muddy trail.  Yuck.  So we could’ve, but we didn’t, but still!  Anyway, I won’t say anything else, except that if you get a chance and you want to visit our newest National Park, take a hike to Admiralty Point.  The view of the water is quite lovely and when you return to the start, head the opposite direction towards Jug Island Beach.  It will make for a most enjoyable day.  Rain or Shine.

Thanks for all of these ‘Firsts’!

As mentioned in my previous post, I have a few things to say about my last three races.  But before I get into it, I want to mention a friend of mine that I met during my running clinic.  Scott.  You were the clinic leader but I consider you my friend.  When I first met Scott, the clinic group consisted of two participants plus the leader.  And by the second week, the clinic was down to just the two of us.  And even though we were told the clinics would not be held for a single participant, you still ran with me on the clinic days.  Your encouragement got me through a lot of tough runs and I have to admit, the first two weeks were tough.  You have a pace that is faster than mine and I have a stupidly stubborn streak where I don’t like to admit I can’t do it.  But you knew.  I mean, how could you not?  My breathing was ragged and I turned a couple of shades towards tomato splotchy, something that hasn’t happened since my very first spin class.  But you caught on quickly and slowed it down but only enough for the splotches to disappear.  Thank goodness for tens and ones.  Until the clinic, I didn’t even know what that was.  Who knew there was a whole new language when it came to running.  Thanks for telling me I don’t have to speak, just listen.  I can listen.  I can breathe raggedly and listen.  And listen, I did, because the advice you gave me was invaluable.  Sure, I read some of it in running magazines, but when you hear it from someone who is actually running next to you, it takes on new meaning.  Thank goodness for you during the hills.  Thank goodness you left me to do your own hills so I could struggle on my own.  And thank you for running with me every time on that last hill, even when you had already finished your set of hills.  I spent 10 weeks in the summer with Scott.  Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays were guaranteed days where I would have a running partner.  Thank you for miscalculating the distances and making us run more than what you said we would.  And finally thank you for running with me during our goal race.

The Vancouver Night Race September 26, 2014

The clinic goal race.  This race had several firsts for me.  It was the first time I had ever done a race at night.  It was also the first time I had run without my running music blasting in my ears.  And it was the first time I had ever run a race where I wasn’t doing it solo.  And I really enjoyed it.  This is a race I would do again.  There was a Kids 1K, 5K, and 10K category.  I did the 10K of course.  I don’t know why, but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around running a 5K.  I’ve been running 10Ks for so long now, that the idea of running a shorter distance, well it just seems crazy.  But enough about my warped thought processes.  The Race.  The atmosphere at the start of the evening was great.  The kids ran first, while there was still a little bit of light left.  Every one of them were winners.  All the cheers from the spectators, the clapping and the hollering were for the kids.  And then it was time for the 5K and then the 10K groups.  It was an amazing night for a race.  The rain had stopped earlier in the day so we didn’t have to worry about getting wet, unless you stepped into a puddle, which happened several times.  Everyone was required to wear the headlamp that was given to them as part of the package and I have to say, the most amazing sight that night was to look far ahead of you to see a train of bobbing lights, and not just lights, but people who also wore their costumes, and their own glow in the dark stuff for the run.  And if you weren’t amazed by all the runners with their lights, then it was the sight of the Lion’s Gate Bridge all light up at night or the Sails at Canada Place or the Vancouver Convention Centre.  And if the sights weren’t enough, then listening to the water lapping at the seawall as we ran, just made it a fantastic run.  And like I said, no rain.  And no wind.  It was a perfect night.  A perfect run.  Vancouver is beautiful, but I think it is most beautiful at night, with all the lights.  After the race, the after party looked like fun, but I didn’t stick around for it.  So I can’t comment, but I’ll let you know next year.

The Granville Island Turkey Trot October 13, 2014

This was another very enjoyable race.  Did I have a ‘first’ for this race?  The food at the after party.  At all the races that I’ve been to so far, there has always been the basics.  B & B.  Bananas and Bagels.  This would be the first time that we got something completely different.  But I’ll get more into that later.  First off I’d like to say that I really like the route around False Creek and I always like running over the Burrard Bridge.  I don’t know why, but I like the view from the middle of the bridge, looking towards Granville Island.  I also like this race because parking on the island was free.  That never happens on the island.  I had read about this race several years ago, but I never got around to trying it till now.  It was one of the ones that always seemed to have a nice after party.  And it was still true.  The food was delicious.  But to my confusion, no bananas?  What the heck was with all this other fruit?  Apples?  After a race?  Why not?  Tis the season.  BC apples are the best.  Unless you’re in New Zealand.  Then the New Zealand Envy is my fav.  So, apples.  Then there was more fruit, from a fruit tray.  Melon?  Grapes?  Whaaaa?  Veggie tray!  Banana Bread!  So that’s what happened to the bananas!  Cookies!  Appetizers!  Pita bread and Hummus?!?  They lost me with the hummus but then they brought out more cookies!  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Other than the food, and the nice route, the volunteers were just amazing.  They were the best cheering squad I’ve ever experienced and they made it one of the best runs ever, except for the one kind-of-creepy looking volunteer near the end of the race, but it could’ve been strategic, because he just made me run faster, until I almost ran over a kid (that should’ve been in the stroller).

That was one of the drawbacks experiences along this race.  Strollers were allowed on the course.  The stroller group started after the non stroller group.  On any race, you can always expect walkers.  I’m a walker as well as a runner.  It’s just a given.  So I know all about keeping an eye out for who’s in front of you.  But this would be one of the first where I have to question why strollers are allowed.  And I do realize it’s a family affair but then keep the kids in the stroller.  Don’t let them out to run!  Especially at the finish line!  He was short!  Not within my sight line.  He was a toddler that could barely keep his balance!  I could’ve squished him!  Not really, but kids should not be released from their confines until well after the finish line.  That’s why they have volunteers at the finish line telling us to keep moving!  And if you were going to let the kid run across the finish line, perhaps you should’ve signed up for the Tot Trot category and you could’ve moved over rather then spread out all over and block the entire path.  Sheesh!  Don’t get me wrong.  I think it’s great to have kids involved in races, to get the feeling of pride in accomplishments, to have the joy of running into the cheering arms of the parent at the finish line.  I felt that way when my niece and nephew duo, Z & Z ran their little mini race back in June.  But that was a race for the kids.  The TODDLERS!  Because they TODDLE!  Let them have that joy in a safe environment where you don’t have adults charging towards them on the same route at the same time.  ‘Cause really, there are no winners there, if a kid gets hurt, or an adult who has to veer off the boardwalk and into the crowd, or worse still, an adult who has to slow down or stop before crossing the finish line because they don’t see the kid in front of them.  I think what irks me the most is that ‘stroller’, mom, and toddler took up the entire width of the path so that there would’ve been an inevitable crash into one of the three, if not off into the crowd.  Push the stroller in front of you!  It’s the courteous thing to do!  If the stroller was in front of you, then at least people could run around you!  Funny the things you remember when you start to write about it.  I didn’t think I’d actually get all worked up about it.  But after running for so long and learning from Scott, running etiquette is very important to me!  And here I had it in my head to write how wonderful this race was and then this.  But really, I did enjoy the race.  The route is a new favourite.  The cheering squads were the best ever and the food was great.  Overall a great event, even though I almost ran over a hobbit at the finish line.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Vancouver Half Marathon & Cunningham Seawall 10K October 26, 2014

I don’t think I’ve ever woken up this early for a race.  That would be my first ‘first’ of this race.  The 10K started in Stanley Park at 7:45am.  The last shuttle bus to take us there was at 7:15am at Pender and Burrard.  I was on the skytrain by 6:30am.  It almost felt like I was headed to work.  Except I was decked out in running gear!  And so was a good portion of the people on the skytrain.  Another ‘first’, having to be shuttled to the start line.  I’ve never been to such a large race that it would be necessary to have transportation.  Or I’ve never been to a race where access roads to Stanley Park was closed.  And the best ‘first’?  Running along the seawall as the sun was rising.  That was the best.  Again, I lucked out with no rain and no wind around the seawall.  And again there were people in costumes, and of course the route was beautiful.  And as a good reminder of just how beautiful it was, there were many people who stopped along the route to take selfies.  Thank you for moving far out of the way so people didn’t crash into you.  This was the 44th year for the 10K race but it was the inaugural race for the half marathon.  But since the two races are now linked, there were several bands along the route.  I can’t actually tell you if they were good or not because I was now back to running with my iPod but there certainly were a lot of cheer squads along the route and right around the bands.  I think I counted 4 bands along the seawall route.  It was a very well organized race, until the end when the 10K group went to get their gear from the gear check busses.  If you happened to have a last name between H and O, then getting your gear back was more than irritating.  For many of us in the line up, we had just ran 10K in an hour, more or less.  We were tired, not just from the running but all the stuff that we got in the secure zone.  Full size bottle of Gatorade.  Full size bottle of water.  Juice box.  Three different stands of snacks and cereal.  There’s not enough hands for all this stuff that these people are giving us.  Thank goodness the finisher’s medal hung around our necks with a ribbon.  Thank goodness I had a jacket that I could stuff things into the pockets.  Thank goodness we all got these shiny emergency blankets.  Yes, we were walking propaganda for the event, but amazingly it kept us warm and thank goodness for that, because it was a minimum 30 minute wait to get our stuff from the gear check bus.  Not that I’ve ever had to use gear check before, so I can’t really compare it to anything previous but if not for the food and water and blanket, we would’ve starved, been even more dehydrated and caught hypothermia.  Good thing the medical tent wasn’t too far from the gear check busses.  But seriously, the line had grown twice in size by the time I got my stuff.  It was not funny.  It was one of those days where everyone wished they had a last name that started with X, Y or Z.  Other than this glitch, and I’m calling it a glitch because it is the first time these two races were linked/organized together so they should learn from this and improve, it was a good experience.  The half marathon gear check busses were well organized and had no such issues from what we could see.  And you can see a lot in 30 minutes.  Otherwise, this was an enjoyable experience.  There were bands playing at the finish line but I didn’t stick around for it.  The day was still young.  And I no longer had a shuttle bus to take me back to the skytrain station.  But hey, it was only a 3K distance back to the station.  I just ran 10K.  I could walk 3K.

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Day or Night, the Lion’s Gate Bridge is lovely sight.

My first medal for a race!

My first medal for a race!

The Vancouver Historic Half November 30, 2014

This will be the last race of the year for me.  Another 10K.  And again along the Stanley Park seawall.  The first ‘first’?  It’s in and out.  The route, I mean.  I won’t be running around the entire seawall.  I don’t know what to say about that.  But I’ve got thirty days to come up with something.

Just one more thing, I have to thank Sister C and my good friend Nicole for joining me in my practice runs.  As the nights got colder and as the summer heat turned to cold drizzle and rain and then turned into downpours, you came out with me even when you didn’t want to.  Even though I run solo during the races, I’m not running alone.  Thanks so much!  And just wait till I tell you what my new challenge will be for next year!  You’d better hope it’s not rock climbing!

Luv, Aunty