Thursday, September 19, 2013

Race Report: Vancouver Eastside 10K - Sept 14, 2013

This past Saturday I ran my 2nd 10km race of the year at the Inaugural Vancouver Eastside 10K race. The very moment I heard of this race, I was excited to sign up. An event put on by Canada Running Series, who do an excellent job of organizing first class races across Canada, a race close to my birthday (which became a little birthday party among some of my running friends as a result), and because it is a very different race from every other race I have done in Vancouver. It seems that most races are on the commonly run routes of Vancouver, along the water, around Stanley Park, at UBC, or places otherwise scenic or along the beaten path. This here was in the Downtown Eastside, areas that I have run before but not frequently, an area that many choose to 'avoid' day to day, and perhaps a place people would least expect a race to take place in Vancouver. But this was a run to fundraise for charities benefiting the residents of the area, and a great idea indeed!

I was originally hoping to run this one for a good finish time. I know I am very capable of a 52min 10K based on training and running two solid 41min 8 km races this year. But after the last couple months of minor setbacks (the low iron and the injury), I've had to reframe my goals and reset my attitude and my body. I'm only really getting back into my regular running routine again, getting back into twice a week strength training, and fitting in other activities like swimming where I can. Yup, back to 6 days a week of working out! But it's been a transition and runs are only starting to get longer again.

Knowing my next longer distance run that 'counts' is next month, I said yes to an opportunity to take part in a virtual bootcamp / health challenge this month through Go Fit Gals. I'll write about it specifically when I'm done with it, as the experience has been very positive, but essentially it is a 3-week program with the goal to learn ways of eating cleaner/healthier, and to boost my workouts. This wasn't something I planned on before I signed up for a Sept race. In signing up, I knew it would mean food I'm not quite used to and probably less calories than I'm used to as well, meaning it might not be compatible with having the fuel I need for some of my longer running sessions. No, this isn't a 'diet', but anytime one changes up their nutrition routine, it can and often will impact their training. I knew that I might be sacrificing a good race result here by doing this, but I wanted to take it on to help me reset myself, and because I saw real benefit in what I could learn out of this experience.

So far on the plan, I have shed close to 9lbs. I know I said I didn't feel I needed to do this anymore, but I also don't mind this at all as a little off the love handles has made some clothes look better on me and eventually being a bit lighter might help me run a bit faster. I currently am taking in much less carb calories than I normally would and so my fuel stores that I would normally rely on for those longer workouts are not what they used to be. Don't worry, this is only temporary, and I've been working with Risse from GFG on a plan that'll ensure I maintain these positive results but get my energy levels back where they need to be for the longer workouts that are upcoming. I know it's not the iron anymore because I have a lot of energy and capability in both the shorter and the higher intensity workouts. Also when you lose that much weight in that little time, clearly your body is trying to also get used to itself and a high stress situation like a race isn't going to be easy. So while some of the long workouts have been a slog and I called into question my fitness level, I actually feel very strong and healthy in a way I haven't in months. I believe I'm the lightest in weight I've been now since grade school. I'm wearing clothing I never expected to. Reset successful. Ideal racing body though, not quite, but almost there.

The course was quite flat, and although there were some hills, they were all short and manageable, ones the usual me would power up quickly and get them over with. I started out very strong, on pace for about a 53 min finish crossing the mats at 5km in just over 26 min. The pace I was at felt manageable and familiar. I didn't at all feel like I started too fast, but rather that I eased my way in and found a groove. I was confident I could maintain it and even try for a negative split. My breathing was calm, my legs felt strong, everything felt right.

But at about the 6km mark, the needle on my fuel gauge went straight to zero and suddenly; I progressively got slower and slower until I was at such a slow pace for me that got angry at myself, determined to finish somewhat near what I did at Summerfast this July. But too little too late to get going again, alas, I came in almost a few min slower than that at 57:26, a disappointing time to say the least considering I often complete my 10km training runs in less time than that. I know that this race done again under different circumstances, I could totally kill my finish time. There will be other opportunities to do better in future 10K races and at next year's same event which I now definitely plan to do. And while part of me was running this race for time, most of me was running this race for the benefit of running this race - having fun an enjoying running for the love of the sport, and enjoying a race for the love of the running community.

The race itself was really well organized, which of course, is to be expected of Canada Running Series. I feel it was seamless, which is quite a feat for a brand new race in the community, with so many details to get right. This includes the beautiful finisher shirts, awesome dog-tag style medals, recovery jackets for all finishers, well thought-out course,  perfectly placed aid stations, great volunteers, very little waste, a very capable field of elite runners including Olympic marathoner Dylan Wykes....I could go on and on about all the things that this race did right! In addition, the community we ran through embraced the event - there were people out on the street cheering and encouraging us. A highlight was when I needed a quick walk break to reset my breathing up a hill, and this fellow shouts at me, "Oh c'mon girl, my money's on you, don't start walking now!" I laughed and promptly found the energy for running strong in my legs again. It was a great experience.

But what made this race truly special was that so many of my friends came to join me, knowing that a running race is the way this girl here, the running nut, would want to celebrate her birthday. Running to me is like a party, and a race has such a positive atmosphere.

With Monica at the finish line

Perhaps the most special moment of the race was when my sister, Sabana and her other half, Victor crossed the finish line. Unlike many of the races out there that have a big contingent of race walkers, in this race, they were the only ones. I'm super proud of my sister because she set a goal of completing the walk to just under 2 hours, and they crossed the finish together well under this goal in approx. 1:54. Being the last finishers out on the course, the race announcers rallied everyone to the finish line to cheer them in. My friends and I were front and centre of this crowd and so the personnel at the finish line gave me two medals to present to them when they crossed the finish line. As they approached, I could see the emotion and pride on her face, I got quite emotional myself as I gave them each their medal and hugged them to congratulate their finish.

An unforgettable moment!

So yes, I'll be back next year! In fact, I'm thinking I'll do all three CRS races in Vancouver next year, as the Scotiabank Half Marathon is a favourite of mine I'm eager to do again, and I've never done the Spring Run Off 8km.

In the meantime, I have a bunch of races to come to tide me over for what remains of this year. 3 half marathons, a 5km, and a 9.5km race. Maybe something else will come up too ;-)

And look out for a very special blog post soon about the Steve Nash Fitness Clubs Success Stories contest. I'm sure you may have heard, but I'm this year's winner!!!!!!! So I have LOTS to report! Stay tuned.

Thank you all who ran with me at the Eastside 10K. Let's do it again in 2014!


  1. I really want to get together soon to discuss nutrition, etc. I feel like I'm floundering a bit and I know just who to go to! I love your reports. Thanks so much!

  2. Let's make a date then, amiga! Thanks for the kind words!

  3. Beautifully written! As usual, how you capture the experience of racing and running training is beautifully done. I absolutely love reading this blog xx

    1. Thank you, Monnie! You are a major reason why I keep writing. It's very motivating. We ought to do another race again this fall. What's next on your calendar? My race calendar is up to date on this blog. ;-)