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

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