A Successful Fail!

Hello Everyone,

It’s been quite some time since I actually wrote something.  So sorry about my neglect but I’ve been a tad bit busy these past few months. In my efforts to beat a running challenge that my friend set me up on, 10 km in 55 min, the majority of my year has been focussed on running.  Thanks Barry.  There were numerous races that I’ve already written about and several more since the Canada Day race that I haven’t written about:  the Vancouver Night Race, the Granville Island Turkey Trot and most recently (this morning) the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Vancouver Half Marathon and Cunningham Seawall 10 KM race.  There was a running clinic with the Burnaby Running Room that was successful, yet not – not enough people for a proper running clinic, but a wonderful clinic leader that still gave great advice and ran with me on our scheduled days, even when it was just the two of us.  Thanks Scott for all your help and advice.  There was running in the rain, see previous post; running in cold weather, 6 degrees C for the Cunningham Seawall 10 Km; and running in heat and humidity, think back to the fantastic summer weather that we had!  I just need a little snow and ice and I can call an end to my running season, speaking of which, I have one last race coming up in November, the Vancouver Historic Half.  I’ll be doing the 10 KM race, not the half marathon.  I had considered trying the half marathon, but as one of my other friends pointed out, the challenge is actually till the end of the year, not till the Cunningham Seawall 10 KM race.  Thanks Nicole, I think?  I was all set to admit to a successful fail.  But as I was thinking about how to write this latest post, and I reviewed all my training logs, I realized that it is not a failure.  Yes, I did not meet the challenge, and realistically, I don’t think I can bring my race time down to 55 min for 10 Km, at least not in the very near future, 30 plus days till the Vancouver Historic Half.  I’ve been averaging 1hr and 13 min for all my 10 KM races.  I was ready to call it a season and admit defeat.

But is it defeat?  I’ve been running.  Consistently.  And a lot.  As in 23 KM a week, a lot.  That’s like 83 KM + per month for the last three months.  That is a lot of commitment.  That’s a lot of running.  That is a successful fail.  And the thing is, even after the year is over, the running will continue.  I’m already signed up for a race in January of 2015.  And I’m in the January half marathon clinic with the Burnaby Running Room as well.  A successful fail.  I’ve never been more proud!  Except when I hiked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in under 7hrs!  Nothing will ever beat that.  Sorry!  Got distracted.  Running!  This has been the best failed challenge ever!  And yes, I know there is still one more race to go.  Just let me prepare for the worst and then be pleasantly surprised when I finish the race, with a fantastic time!

I’ll try to get in a blurb in the near future about the three races mentioned at the start of the post.  I do have a few things to say about it.  But right now I need a nap.  10 Km races really take a toll in an Aunty!

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Lighthouse Park Revisited

It’s been over a year since I’ve been to this park.  It was one of the very first hikes I did when I first decided to go on my New Zealand adventure.  And what a difference a year makes.  I remember back then the final trail, Beacon Lane Trail, to be a brutal hill before reaching the parking lot.  And now, I had to wonder where it disappeared to.  It hasn’t disappeared of course, but it just amazes me how our mind can make “a mountain out of a molehill”.  Yes, my fitness level has improved a lot in all this time, but I remember it as being a never ending, brutal and cruel way to end a hike back then and this time, it was just a minor hill.  I returned to Lighthouse Park, even though it’s listed as “Easy” with minimal elevation, because I was returning with Nicole.  It is the start of the hiking season for her and we figured it would be a nice way to ease back into hiking.  Both of us sported new footwear, me with a new pair of hikers and Nicole with a lovely pair of trail runners.  My old pair of hikers has been retired and for sentimental reasons, I haven’t actually disposed of them yet.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with my old hikers, but I don’t want to toss them just yet.  I’ll figure it out eventually.  We both were not as prepared for the weather as we would’ve liked.  It was raining off and on all morning but it wasn’t cold.  It was actually kind of muggy.  We did not follow the trail suggestions that were listed on vancouvertrails.com.  Instead, we went the opposite way.  Like I said in my first post about Lighthouse Park, make sure you grab a map before you start in on the trails.  Without the map, you could easily get disoriented.  We chose to head out on the Juniper Loop and head out to Juniper Point.

Juniper Point

Juniper Point

DSC_2134-2DSC_2138-2Afterwards, we headed south along the Seven Sisters Trail towards the Lighthouse Viewpoint.  For the most part the trails were quite nice, even in the rain, the paths were mostly dry but do be careful on the rocks and the roots that are exposed to the rain.  I slipped a few times and actually did land on my butt at least twice.  But it’s all good.  At the Lighthouse viewpoint, you see the lighthouse with Burrard Inlet just behind it.  It’s nice for a picnic stop, if it’s a nice day, but in this dreary weather, we turned around fairly quickly and headed down to the Phyl Munday Nature House and the other buildings in that surrounding area.  Head behind the Phyl Munday House and you’ll actually get closer to the Lighthouse.  If the gate is open, you can head closer to Point Atkinson and get a better view of the lighthouse.  But you’ll never actually get right up to the lighthouse, which is too bad.  Please be respectful of the property as you walk closer to the lighthouse.  They have a very nice garden for you to admire.

This is as close as you can get to the Lighthouse.

This is as close as you can get to the Lighthouse.

Just behind Phyl Munday House.

Just behind Phyl Munday House.

After snapping a few pics, we headed back up the driveway and walked around the buildings.  It was at this point that Nicole saw the “Stop” sign.  So of course, instead of stopping, we had to explore.  Why did they want us to stop?  What was beyond the stop sign?  Well, that would’ve been East Beach.  The tide was out so in addition to the lovely smells of the forest, we had the distinct smells of seaweed and other briny seashells.  After a little log hopping and then rock climbing, we found a different view of the lighthouse.  I’m sure in sunny weather it would’ve been quite an impressive sight.  But this time, I was more drawn to the low hanging cloud and the oil tanker.

All in all, it was a nice easy hike, which is what we both needed today.  There are a lot of other trails in this park worth visiting.  I remember Eagle Point was quite impressive and there was a nice view at the Summit as well.  From what I can remember, Salal Loop was also a nice trail to walk.  We will have to do this again, hopefully on a nicer day and other than the mugginess of the day, it was an enjoyable hike.

True Patriot Love!

Happy Canada Day Everyone!  I hope everyone had a wonderful July the First!  My day started bright and early and at 20 degrees C.  And that was still a whole hour before my 10 KM race.  By the time we actually started the race, it was 22 degrees.  All I can say is I was so thankful for the breeze and for the shady trail.  Yes, this race was on a trail.  In Pacific Spirit National Park actually.  This is a very nice park.  And the trail was very nice to run on.  Super soft compared to pavement.  I like running on shady trails.  And my knees were very appreciative as well.  But even with the shade and breeze it was still very hot.  Pacific Spirit Park was actually on my list of hikes to do last year, but then there was a string of assaults happening around the UBC area and then there was a runner that was killed there a few years ago and so for me and Nicole, that made it a no-go zone.  I’m glad I got to run in the park.  I’m glad I got to see what the trails were like.  Because it’s back to being a no-go zone again.  Sorry.  But until the killer has been caught and the person(s) committing the assaults have been caught, I won’t be venturing into the trails.  This is the second race I’ve done out at UBC and I think this is a great area for races.  It’s certainly much more built up since the days when I used to go to school out there.  I really enjoyed this run, even though the heat was tough and even though there were a lot of uphill sections along this run.  I completed this 10 KM in 1hr and 15 min.  Yes, I know.  It seems like my time is getting longer rather than shorter.  But considering how hot it was today, the number of uphill sections and the number of times I actually went from run to walk, I was actually surprised my time was this good.  And Yes, I think this was a good time.  I am quite pleased with it.  IMG_3020This is my first time running on a trail and out of all of the races of I’ve done so far, this has by far been the hottest day as well.  Am I using this as an excuse?  I don’t think so.  I’m listing factors that I have to take into consideration for my next race i.e.  Train on hills!  Train in hot weather!  Run the route at least once, unless you make it a no-go zone!  I focused on my breathing for most of this run.  And I was actually able to stop thinking about the distance I had to run, mostly, but that was only because I kept thinking that I had to keep up with the pack, or my “chosen” pacer.  Because I had never run this route before, I actually wasn’t sure which way to go, so I picked someone to follow.  Since returning from New Zealand, this has been the fifth 10KM race that I’ve done.  And I thought I’d share some of my thoughts that ran through my head while on this particular run.  Please don’t think less of me if you were expecting insightful dialogue while on this hour long run, ’cause I’m really just talking to myself!

Don’t start out too fast!  Stay in the middle of the pack!  Pick someone you can follow so you don’t get lost in the park!  Don’t get lost in the park!  Breathe!  You’re Breathing too hard!  Thank goodness for the shade!  Wow the forest smells great!  She’s got a purple shirt!  I’ll follow the purple shirt!  The sign says watch out for the rocky section!  Rocks!  Breathe!  In, 2, 3, 4!  Out, 2, ,3 ,4!  Rocks!  Water station!  Downhill!  Yay!  Breathe!  Where did purple shirt go?  Uphill!  There’s purple shirt!  This hill just keeps on going!  6km marker!  Uphill means there will be a downhill!  Hot!  Gotta walk!  Breathe!  Look up!  Run!  Pavement!  No Shade!  Boo!  Trail again!  Yay!  Downhill!  Yay!  Wow I’m going fast down this hill!  Is there another uphill?  Breathe!  Gotta walk the hill!  Breathe, 2, 3, 4!  That’s a big pile of pooh!  Hope that came from a dog!  Dumb dog walker’s didn’t clean up after their dog!  That was a big pile of pooh!  I wonder if there’s cougars in this park?  Purple shirt is running again!  Don’t lose sight of purple shirt!  I can do this!  3 km marker?  WTF?  We’re sharing the route with the 5 KM runners!  OHHHHH!  That mean’s only 2 KM left!  That’s 5 laps around the track!  I can do this!  OH MAN!  Their packing away the route signs!  Was I really that slow?  Too many walk breaks!  Well at least I finished!  Finish strong!  I hate that saying.  I can finish strong!  I’ll just do better next time!  Hey!  I think that clock said 1:15:09.  NICE!!!!!  I need coconut water!

I started the day surrounded by a sea of red at the beginning of the race.  The sea of red all sang the national anthem in English, French and English and then we went on a race through a gorgeous park with unknown animals dwelling within!  I finished the race amongst a sea of red and as I went in search of my much needed coconut water, I was greated with a hot dog, watermelon, and birthday cake!  A fantastic birthday party for a great country!  Happy Birthday Canada!IMG_3023

Slacker or Relaxer

I once read an article about how some guy ran two marathons back to back i.e. Saturday and then Sunday.  That’s 84.4 KM in 48hrs.  I ran two 10 KM races in two weeks and with all the training I was doing I was irritable, antsy, tired and achy to the point where I woke up in the middle of the night because I was so tired and achy.  Who knew that aches could actually wake a person up in the middle of the night?  I don’t know why anyone would think it’s a good idea to do two marathons on a weekend.  I will never do two races in a span of two weeks ever again.  Well most likely never or at least not in the foreseeable future or at least not in the remaining year.  If the Longest Day Run and the Run for H2O is always going to be a week apart, I may have to give one up.  But that’ll be an issue for next year.

So this week, I was forced to relax.  But I felt more like a slacker.  The day after Run for H2O, I went and got my hair done.  I haven’t had this indulgence since just before Sister P’s wedding last year.  I spent four hours at the salon.  Not by choice, not exactly.  My hair stylist is a perfectionist and he’s never on time.  But I was prepared.  I had a book with me.  It’s been ages since I sat down and just enjoyed a book.  And knowing how Simon works, it was a the best time to start and almost finish a book.  I forgot how nice it was to immerse oneself into a semi-plausible sci-fi world – Jonathan Maberry’s The Dragon Factory.  I liked his other book, Patient Zero, better.  And knowing how Simon works, I was also smart enough to get something to eat before stepping into the salon.

This was the start of my slacker relaxing week.  So on Monday, I arrived at work with curlier hair and Simon’s version of a “subtle shade of red”.  I didn’t plan on slacking this week.  I did make it out to Monday spinning with Sister C and Nicole.  And I did intend on going to Kickboxing on Tuesday.  But my friend Tamara convinced me to go see my favourite singer that happened to be playing Tuesday night at the Vogue Theatre.  Royal Wood was opening for Jill Barber.  I love Royal Wood.  I have three of his albums from iTunes and I’ve been listening to him since before my trip to New Zealand.  Forced relaxation.  Tuesday was not a good day at work.  It was either take out the stress during kickboxing class or go to see my favourite singer.  Since I could not give Tamara a convincing reason why I should not go see him sing, other than I would have to miss out on kickboxing, I went.  And I am so glad I went.  Royal Wood is a fabulous singer.  And it doesn’t hurt that he is really good looking and he’s Canadian!  Hurray Canada!  I actually listened to him quite a lot while in New Zealand and sang along to his stuff while driving from one place to another while on vacation.  So I can definitely say that he is an absolute favourite of mine.  So why was I reluctant to go see him live?  Forced relaxation.  I don’t know how to relax anymore.  Somewhere along the way I forgot how to enjoy myself.  Maybe it’s because for the last six weeks I’ve been working in the office on my own and the only people I got to speak to were the irritating clients that called on the phone.  I had my wonderful friends every morning to get me for coffee but a good portion of those six weeks always ended with me wanting to cut the phone cord.  Maybe it’s the running challenge with my friend Barry?  Somehow the challenge has expanded, which I won’t get into here.  And the day before the H2O run ended with me wondering what I was getting out of this challenge.  I don’t know and I certainly don’t want to make any lame excuses for my feelings and behaviour.  I just know that the week before the H2O Run would’ve been bad for anyone who crossed my path.  Sorry!  So, Forced Relaxation.  Seeing Royal Wood perform, and Yes that’s his real name, was the best thing that happened this week.    It made for a long day and a late night but it was so worth it.  I even got a signed copy of his newest CD, though I have to admit, I already had an iTunes copy of his album, The Burning Bright so I really didn’t need a hardcopy CD.  But how often does a person get up close and personal with their favourite singer?  Afterwards, I considered heading home, but I decided to stay to the end.  I like Jill Barber.  I already had a few of her songs downloaded from iTunes so it’s not like I didn’t know her.  She’s Canadian as well!  Hurray Canada!  And is also based in Vancouver.  Hurray Vancouver!  But her style is more Jazz and I’ve never really considered myself a Jazz fan.  But I guess there are various styles of Jazz and I have to say I really enjoyed her performance.  I still can’t say that I’m a Jazz fan, but I think I can say now that I am a fan of Jill Barber.  In fact I have one of her new songs playing on the background as I write this post.  “To the Last” from her newest album Fool’s Gold.  She performed this song that night and I was quite taken with it.  So Thanks Tamara for forcing me to go see my favourite singer, Royal Wood, and helping me add a new favourite, Jill Barber!

A small intimate setting.  Perfect for a performance by Royal Wood and Jill Barber!

A small intimate setting. Perfect for a performance by Royal Wood and Jill Barber!

Wednesday was an unintentional slacker day as well.  I made it into work that morning but I was ridiculously tired because I got home late after the show and I couldn’t fall asleep immediately.  I think I only had 4 hrs of sleep.  Still worth it to see Royal Wood, but that just made for a write-off of a day on Wednesday.  I managed to make it out to the track afterwork, but I didn’t run.  Instead I had my Nikon in hand and I shot photos of the co-ed kickboxing class.  Luckily for me the weather was nice so I could shoot outside.  Most of the students know to put up with me pointing the camera in their direction and it helps that Faraaz has shouted at them that they would get their photos put on Facebook.  But there was one student who was very reluctant to get her photo taken.  I understand.  I saw the photos of me from the Run for H2O and there is one of me crossing the finish line and all I can say is “OMG!  I hope no one ever gets a hold of the photo.”  Bravo to the Professional Photographer though.  His photos of the run were really good, and after seeing that photo of me as I crossed the finish line, it has reminded me about another rule for me when doing these races:  Remember to smile as you cross the line!  Even if the only thing your thinking about is sucking in air to keep from passing out or puking!  So, I understand when people don’t want me to take their photo.  But when Faraaz shouts at me to shoot your photo, I will shoot your photo.  But I will not put it up on Facebook.  I will leave that to Faraaz.  I can also promise you this, I will never tag the photos but that’s more because I don’t know your names and even if I did know your name, I still would not tag the photos.  I will always leave it up to you to re-post, and tag at your leisure.  So as the evening came to an end, Faraaz spoke of a surprise.  And what a pleasant surprise!  The ice-cream man and his musical truck came rolling into the parking lot.  This was definitely a pleasant way to end the class, even for me since I was told I could not refuse to enjoy this surprise as well.  When Faraaz says you’re getting ice-cream, you get ice-cream.  Thanks Faraaz!  And photos should be up on the other blog soon depending on how the remainder of the weekend goes!

A Sweet Surprise!

A Sweet Surprise!

Thursday was probably the most slackest relaxed day out of the whole week.  I took the day off from work.  Big Sister Z was graduating!  From Pre-school!  So, as one of Auntie’s four favourite nieces and nephews, I had to be there, with camera in hand, along with all the other children’s mums, dads, and grandparents.  It was the cutest little ceremony ever.  The children were dressed up in their cap and robes and they sang us these wonderful songs before being presented with their Pre-school diplomas and little presents!  Then it was off to lunch and shopping with the kids and then my night ended with a retirement dinner for one of our managers.  But it wasn’t just any old dinner.  This was an East Indian Buffet dinner.  Fish Pakoras, Chicken Tikki, Butter Chicken, Palak Paneer, Naan, Roti, Chai Tea, Mango Ice-cream and Ras Malai.  All of my favourites!  I haven’t eaten real Indian food in over a year!

Finally I reached Friday!  Anymore relaxing and I wouldn’t know how to get back into the swing of things.  Work was chill.  No appointments.  No phone calls.  I was no longer alone in the office and I now have someone I can talk to throughout the day, should I ever feel the need to talk to a person, rather than to myself and as much as I enjoyed having an office to myself for a full six weeks, where I could play my music a little louder than usual, where I could actually sing along to the songs out loud, I missed having company in the office and after I’ve had force relaxation all week, I could see that being able to run the office on my own, though I know that I am capable of doing it, is not so enjoyable.  So I ended the week well.  A thirty minute run just before my kickboxing class!  Yay Muay Thai!

I now have to decide if I want to do the Grouse Grind tomorrow morning.  There is a 60% chance of rain in the morning.  Or I could skip it and do a run in the evening when the sun is out.  I have a race this Tuesday, and as much as I enjoyed the week of force relaxation, I haven’t really done any kind of training this week for the Canada Day Race.  I’ve got to remember to spread out my races better.  Or I could just look at these races in a different light as in which ones do I want to have meaning (time wise) and which ones can be looked upon as part of my training.  Oiy!  I think I just felt a slap on the back of my head and I heard Faraaz!  I think too much!  Time to relax and listen to Royal Wood while I finish reading my book.

What Makes a Great Race?

When I first signed up for the Run for H2O race, I thought it was a timed race.  I don’t know why, but I just did.  And I think had I realized it at the time that it wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered but what’s done is done and I’ve ran the race.  And I have to say it was probably one of the most enjoyable races I’ve been to.  I can’t say that I truly enjoyed the route.  A good portion of it was on not-so-scenic road.  The last 5 KM was on the trail along the Fraser River which I did enjoy.  The weather was fantastic!  Maybe a little bit too hot for a mid-morning race but it’s the first day of summer!  It can’t be the first day of summer without glorious sunshine!  The volunteers were great.  Each one of them had a smile and a cheer as you ran by.  Thank goodness for all the water stations!  At one point, I thought I would need to stop at a first aid station, since my knee was bothering me but I persevered!  I got a high five from a complete stranger, just as I crossed the finish line and then a bottle of water.  So that was super nice, about the high five.  And what truly made this the best race so far, was at less than 200 m to the finish line, I was greeted with cheers from my two biggest fans:  Big Sister Z and Little Brother Z!  I was so surprised to see them that I think I almost stopped.  I think I might’ve at least slowed down because I vaguely remember Sister C waving at me and telling me to keep going.  And with that enthusiasm and hearing the kids shout out for Aunty, I had renewed lungs and legs to push me on to the finish line.  And even though I finished this 10 KM race at 1hr and 14 minutes, it was still the best race I’ve been to.  And what made it even better was when Sister and Brother Z ran around the bend chasing after me and gave me a great big hug, thereby preventing me from getting sick and passing out.  I love you guys!  Even better was when they told their mom that they wanted to run in the 50 m Toddler Dash.  I was so excited when they got their bibs.  Gosh it was so cute.  Watching all the little toddlers race across the grass to their own little finish line was just so great to see.  All these little athletes!  Everyone was a winner.  Stickers Galore!  Better than bananas, chia bread and chocolate milk.  Well maybe not better than chocolate milk.  And all these kids loved it so much, they ran it a second time!

So I didn’t beat my time from the previous race, in fact I added an extra two minutes to my time, but it’s still the greatest race I’ve done so far, mainly because of the volunteers along the way, the other racers that cheered you on in the end and because I had two unexpected little enthusiastic racers cheering me on to the finish line.

Proud Mamma and her two little racers!

Proud Mamma and her two little racers!

These are my two best reasons why this is the best race ever!

These are my two best reasons why this is the best race ever!

Winners!  Every one of them!

Winners! Every one of them!

I'll be number one next year, when my legs are longer!

I’ll be number one next year, when my legs are longer!

I ran like Gandalf told me to!

I ran like Gandalf told me to!

These legs were built for running!

These legs were built for running!

Still the best race ever, even if I did add an extra two minutes to my 10 km time.

Still the best race ever, even if I did add an extra two minutes to my 10 km time.

The Longest Day Road Race

This was an aptly named race.  After an 8hr day at work, most people return home, cook dinner and putter away the rest of the evening.  On a friday, perhaps people head out to celebrate the end of their work week.  Usually on a friday evening, I am in a kickboxing class but on this particular friday, Friday the 13th with a Full Moon, I decided to go for a 10 KM race.  The Longest Day Road Race.  Location? Thunderbird Stadium out by UBC.  It’s been ages since I’d been to Thunderbird Stadium.  In fact, the last time I was here was with Sister W to see the Lilith Fair concert back in 1999.  I don’t really have a reason to come out to UBC so returning after 15 years, much has changed and yet, not.  It was a good course, with several hilly sections.  I gotta work on my hills more.  I had examined the map of the area before hand, but I had forgotten those hills.  But still it was good.  I have to say that out of all the races I’ve been too, and it’s not many, this race has the best post-race party by far.  You have to get a meal ticket but it’s only $10 and for that piddly amount, you get food.  And I mean real food, not just bagels and bananas.  There were bananas, but also watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, cucumbers, carrots, peas, hamburgers, hotdogs, a whole variety of chips and Subway cookies, a whole slew of drinks and then there was dessert.  There were four dessert tents set up.  Yummy Dessert!  There was a WhiteSpot dessert tent that was serving up very large strawberry tarts with whip cream.  Sadly by the time I got to the front of the line, they had just run out of tart shells, so I just had strawberries and whip cream!  Yum!  Seriously I would do this race again, just for the WhiteSpot dessert!  And if you are all about food, I would also suggest that you do the 5 KM run instead of the 10 KM because there’s more food for you since you’ll run a shorter distance.  If you’re a 10 KM runner like me, it’s not that you’ll get the left over, picked over food.  Oh no, it’s nothing like that.  There are volunteers at all the food stations that serve the food out to you, so no one sticks their grubby paws into the food.  So it was very sanitary.  But you are allowed to go back for seconds and I guess the drinks tents were very popular.  By the time I was done my race, there were no more drinks, so I had water.  And I was fine with that, but it would’ve been nice to have at least one drink.  I didn’t even get a chocolate milk!  But I did get a chocolate pudding from the dessert tent to wash down the WhiteSpot strawberries and whip cream.  But that’s not the point!  Anyway, water!  Water was still good, because there was regular water and then the fancy water that had lemon and mint? and then there was water with orange and something else green in it and then there was cucumber water and another one which was even fancier.  So I really mean it when I say that I was happy with water.  But for anyone finishing after me, who was looking forward to Coconut water or Chocolate milk, they would’ve been quite disappointed.  So again to reiterate, if you like food, then do the 5 KM race.  Or you could use the food as incentive to make you run the 10 KM faster.  I think I will use it as incentive.  I finished the 10 KM in 1 hour and 12 minutes.  Same time as my Sun Run time.  So no better and no worse.  I’m quite happy with my time.  Yes, I am still in the challenge with Barry, but this race has taught me a few things for the next race:

  • Make use of the complimentary bag check.  I don’t usually bring a lot of stuff when I run.  It’s just a waist pack to hold my wallet and keys.  I don’t even carry water when I run since I know where all the water stations are.  But if there’s a bag check, you can leave warm clothes behind to change into after the race.  And it’s complimentary!
  • Clothes – Stick with the same running outfit, if possible.  I wore the same top and bottom that I wore for my last race.  It was the same shoes but it was a different pair of socks.  And it’s not like I’ve never worn these socks before to run, but I’ve never worn them to run for such a long distance.  I didn’t get blisters, but my foot did feel something at the start of the race.  And then my long sleeve top was different as well. not wool this time, but some other synthetic sporty material.  Stick with wool.  Remember Icebreaker is my friend!  And if you make use of the bag check, bring an extra cover up or light sweater and gloves for the post-race chills.  Please don’t tell me you don’t get post-race chills, because that will just freak me out!  Thanks!
  • Remember to stretch after your run!  One day later, I am now being punished for my thoughtlessness.  Stretching is your friend.  Especially for my calf muscles!  A soak in an epson salt bath is not enough!
  • Focus on how to Breathe!  It’s weird, I know, to have to think about how to breathe, but it works.  Faraaz gave me tips on how to breathe during my running.  I tried it out on Wednesday during my long run and it was kind of weird but I definitely felt a difference while I was running, like it was easier.  So I decided to follow the technique for this run.  It worked, until I started thinking.  And then I heard Faraaz in my head, yelling at me to get out of my head and then the run became better as I focussed on my breathing.
  • Practice running on grass.  The last hundred meters or so to the finish line is on grass.  And even though it was just a tiny part of the race, it’s the most important part since it’s the final part.  I’ve only ever run on the track and on the road.  Grass is super soft and unpredictable as in unforeseen dips and holes.
  • Practice running hills.  I mentioned that already, but the final part of the race just before the grass, is a small hill.  Big or small, a hill is a hill and after running 9 point something kilometres, ending it by going up a hill…well, that kind of sucks, until you see the finish line and then you make an all out sprint on the grass to beat the girl in front of you that’s been making stops in the middle of the road instead of moving over to the side of the road, like any courteous runner should!

So, I still have a ways to go before I can beat the challenge time, but the summer is just getting started.  I have another race next weekend.  Run for H2O.  I don’t know if it’s a timed race or not, but that’s alright if it’s not.  I will have my little iPod timer to help me out, even if it’s not as accurate as a chip timer.  I’ve already driven a section of the route so I know what to expect on the road part.  Tomorrow, I will run the section that doesn’t allow cars, which is right along the Fraser River.

Final thoughts on this race?  I liked it.  I will run this again next year.  I saw my old campus all new and shiny and I forgot how nice it was down there.  I even bumped into one of my former bosses along the route.  He was volunteering as one of the route marker people!  Sorry George to leave you hanging!  I couldn’t stop long enough to identify myself to you for two very important reasons:  it’s a timed race, and I needed all the little bits of breath to bring in oxygen to my legs.  Maybe I’ll see you again next year, if not for the race, then certainly for the food, specifically the WhiteSpot dessert tent, which will make me run faster next year.

The volunteers were cooking up a storm!  Smelled so good just before the race!

The volunteers were cooking up a storm! Smelled so good just before the race!

Fruit and Salad tent!

Fruit and Salad tent!

Cookie and Chips Tent!

Cookie and Chips Tent!

Dessert Tents!  Specifically the WhiteSpot Dessert Tent!

Dessert Tents! Specifically the WhiteSpot Dessert Tent!

Is there enough condiments?

Is there enough condiments?

Thunderbird Stadium!  Hasn't changed in 15 years!

Thunderbird Stadium! Hasn’t changed in 15 years!

Enough about food!  It's time to race!

Enough about food! It’s time to race!

The clouds came in just as I finished my race!

The clouds came in just as I finished my race!

10 KM in 1 hr and 12 min.  I like it!

10 KM in 1 hr and 12 min. I like it!

And the food was pretty tasty too!

And the food was pretty tasty too!

Was This View Worth It?

Nothing but cloud!

Nothing but cloud!

You bet your ass it was!  I went up the Grouse Grind in one hour and 44 minutes.  I can still hardly believe it!  I actually thought my new little iPod was malfunctioning for a moment.  I didn’t just shave off a few minutes.  I chopped off an arm and a leg!  Well, maybe just an arm.  But what a difference a year makes.  The last time I hiked up the Grouse Grind was last year on July 13, 2013.  And I did that in two hours and 23 minutes.  I cut of 39 minutes.  Holy Crap that was hard!  It took me about 20 minutes to get to the 1/4 mark and this time around I did find the 1/4 sign.  In fact, I managed to see all the signs.  I had anticipated finishing this Grind in about 2 hours, same as with the BCMC trail last week.  The one difference with this hike was the time crunch.  I had a 4 year old’s birthday party to attend.  But even then I wasn’t actually rushing.  I had timed it just right that even if I finished with the same time as last year, I’d still be able to make it back home in time to shower and get to the party.

I had actually planned on hiking this yesterday but I think I semi-injured myself, or maybe injured is too strong of a word.  I semi-made-myself-too-sore after my run and kickboxing class on friday so I ended up taking a couple of ibuprofens with a sleep aid and, well, I slept really well.  So well that I slept in on Saturday so there was no point in going, plus my legs were still sore so I decided to wait and see how I felt this morning.  And I woke up feeling good.  So off I went!  And I am so glad I went.  One hour and 44 minutes!  I don’t like to brag, but I never ever thought I’d get a time that was less that two hours!  Even with the new and improved sections on the Grind, it was still hard.  After hitting the 1/2 mark, I had to stop and snack on a granola bar.  Even my jaws were tired.  But I couldn’t head back down.  But while I sat there slowly chewing on the most difficult granola bar ever, I heard someone say that the longest part was done, that the next two sections were the shortest, but also the hardest.  Shortest?  I liked that!  Hardest?  But it’s short.  I could live with short and hard.  He wasn’t kidding.  It definitely was hard.  And I actually have to agree, it was short.  Short and hard.  Thankfully I had my trusty iPod and my playlist and funny enough as I was struggling towards the 3/4 mark, Jakob Dylan’s Everybody’s Hurting started to play.  Very fitting!  And amazingly perfect timing since this was probably the most difficulty section of the Grind.  I still have to agree with last years assessment.  I prefer the BCMC trail.  And given a choice, I will stick with the BCMC trail, even though I only cut off 25 minutes from my BCMC time compared to 39 minutes for the Grind.  I actually don’t quite understand how that could be. I found the Grind much more difficult and yet there is more time cut off with this hike than from last week’s hike.  Oh well.  Perhaps when I do the BCMC again, I can cut off a little bit more time.  Either way, I’m very pleased with both times for both hikes.  But as I said, I prefer the BCMC and it is for the exact same reasons as last year.  The Grouse Grind is all stairs, whether it be man-made stairs or roots and rock stairs, it is still stairs.  It is less natural than the BCMC.  And the Grouse Grind really has too many people on it.  So it’s not as enjoyable, especially if you encounter people pushing passed you.  The least you could do was say excuse you!  And Passing is on the LEFT hand side!  It was only one person but even so, How Rude!  But there was lots of other people who were quite inspiring.  There were the dads with with kids on their back and then there was Grandpa who was making his way up passed everyone, including the rude girl.  You Go Grandpa!  And Grandpa was polite too!  If Grandpa could do it, then so could I and perhaps he had some more influence than I thought since I didn’t just shave a few minutes from my previous time…

I chopped off an arm and a leg worths of time!  I don’t know if I’ll be walking or hobbling tomorrow, but it was so worth it!

My trusty hiking shoes got me up the Grind!

My trusty hiking shoes got me up the Grind!

Run for Fun?!? Who Knew it Could be Possible?

IMG_2905

Lovely Evening for a Run!

So today is National Running Day, in the USA only.  Huh?  Why not in Canada?  That’s weird!  But then again, do we really need a “Day” for running?  I didn’t really give it much thought until I remembered that just last week in Vancouver was Bike to Work week.  And starting off that week was Canada’s very first annual Bike Day.  Hmmm.  So why don’t we have a Running Day?  Running is very healthy for you.  If you can’t run, you can at least walk.  And now with this wonderful weather, it would be great to have a Running Day.  And you can run rain or shine and you can run just about anywhere.  If we had a Running Day, with events like a race, it could be used to promote health as well as safety such as sharing the road with cars!  I don’t know.  I’ve jumped on the “running” bandwagon rather late in life so perhaps there are already events that promote the health benefits of running and safety aspect of running on the road with cars.  Since the challenge with Barry, I’ve been looking at any available races and booking things that I think are do-able without over doing it.  I’ve been reading magazines, and books and chatted up people at the Running Room and even been tempted to join in their Wednesday and Sunday runs, but I like running by myself.  At most I’ll run with my sister or with one other friend, but I like the solo journey.  Weird, I know. I’ve been obsessing over my calendar, trying to figure out when I can go running without giving up my other favourites.  Spinning will never go away.  And throughout my readings I’ve discovered that cycling (spinning) can be incorporated into my running program as a cross training day.  Yay!  Kickboxing will never go away.  I don’t know if it can be considered part of my running program.  I’m sure if I do more reading and research, I’ll find an article that says it can be considered part of my running program.  Even if I don’t find anything, it’s not going away.  I love kickboxing.  At most I’ll just add a run before the class, which I already do before my Friday class anyways.  As per my previous post, my summer hiking season has started.  I’m going to also consider it as part of my running program.  I’m sure there is an article out there somewhere that will agree with me.  I have found a hill for me to practice my hill running.  I call it the “Kerr Street” hill.  The goal tomorrow is to run it once.  I keep my goals realistic.  Seriously, you haven’t seen this hill.  That will be tomorrow’s run.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  And today, on National Running Day, but not in Canada, I ran the track and finished with sprints.  Not exactly a formal training program, I know.  But at least I’m out there running.  And enjoying the sunshine.  And it’s got to be working, since my run times seem to be getting better with each run event.  Actually with all the stuff I do, I need more than just one National Running Day.  It should be National Running Day at least twice a week, every week.  Maybe that’s why Canada doesn’t have a National Running Day.  Once you take up this sport (is it a sport?)…Once you take up running, all you want to do everyday is run.  Shame there’s only seven days in a week.

Happy National Running Day!

A New Hiking Season!

The summer hiking season has started!  Hurray!  My first hike since returning from New Zealand, took me up Grouse Mountain via the BCMC trail.  I think this was a good hike to start the season with.  It hasn’t changed much at all since last year.  It was still mosquito free which was a relief.  However due to the time of year, it was a little muddier, the rocks and roots were a little more slippery, but luckily, there was no snow on the trail.  I only saw one patch of snow and that was very near the top of the trail and it was just off to the side of the gravel road at the top.  I was so looking forward to this day.  I knew I would be going on a hike, I just wasn’t sure which one since I didn’t know if I’d have company or not.  I didn’t have company this time.  So I chose the BCMC.

If you are planning on hiking the BCMC trail, please remember to stay focussed.  About 3 quarters of the way up the trail, a lady in front of me fell down a few steps and onto her back.  I don’t know quite what happened, since I was focussed on the roots in front of me, but I heard her cry out along with her friends.  When I looked up, she was on her back and her friends were supporting her.  Her friends waved me on when I offered to call for help.  In this day and age, everyone has a cell phone so my offer was unnecessary.  But they thanked me and I kept on going.

It is still just as difficult as I remember.  I still had the heart pounding and the pulse racing and the sweat dripping.  I was probably not a sight to behold.  The hike certainly made me think I was unhealthy and out of shape.  And yet, it actually didn’t feel as bad after I was done.  Even better was when I reached the top and saw that my time was 2 hours and 2 minutes.  I was super pleased, since the last time I went up this trail, it took me 2 hours and 25 minutes.  However while headed up this trail, my iPod nano that travelled with me throughout the last year on all my hikes and all the way to New Zealand with me, died on the the trail.  First the music stopped playing, but the stop watch function was still working so I wasn’t too worried.  And when I got to the top, it was still working but by that time I got back to the car, it was dead.  And not because it had no batteries.  It was not functioning.  Buttons weren’t working and when I plugged it into my computer it was not recognized by iTunes.  Oh, my trusty little iPod.  You were so helpful during all that training and you were a great little companion throughout my travels in New Zealand.  Now I have to send you to recycle heaven.

Sorry, back to the trail.  Like I said, it hasn’t changed.  Unlike the Grouse Grind, where new steps were put in and sections of the trails were improved, there was no such improvement for the BCMC trail other than a few downed trees that were cut up so that the paths were free.  There was one sign that I noticed, but I don’t know if it’s new or not.  I just don’t remember it.  But it had me stumped for a minute.  The choice was to go left for the Pipeline or right for the Sun view.  I chose left, only because I remember following a pipe to the top.  But next time, I might try out the Sun view.

When I got to within two minutes of the top, I saw about half a dozen men headed down the trail.  Fire Rescue.  Oh dear.  I guess the lady couldn’t continue up.  I do hope she is alright.  When I reached the top, I got a high five from a complete stranger.  I forgot how friendly hiker’s were.  I am so going to enjoy this season.