Monday, July 11, 2016

So Far So Good

That is how I would describe summer running so far - it's been SO GOOD!

I had written previously about my plans to run the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon on June 26th and then spend the rest of the summer focusing on running shorter distances and building speed. The Scotia Half wasn't to be treated as a "race" with a time objective, but rather a fun event with the goal of completion with minimal discomfort and cramping. Races from then onward would be shorter and about pushing myself to see what I'm made of. I am happy to report that we're on that path.

I didn't get a chance to write a blog post right after Scotia because of the busy-ness of the final week of work and preparing for our first summer holiday which we just returned from a couple days ago. After Scotia, I ended up running a second race, the Canada Day 5K on July 1st, and there was even less time to report on that. So I thought I'd quickly summarize both here today; both events I am very pleased with the outcome.

So yes, if you haven't guessed, the Scotia Half was my 3rd half marathon of 2016 and another attempt at running without cramping. I was not entirely saved from this experience, but I never got myself to the point of pain as I took the entire race easy-does-it, took all pressure off myself as best as I could, and walked as soon as I felt the first signs of what was to come. I walked likely about 2km (if one were to combine my breaks), but was able to run across the finish line strong and with a smile on my face. I was a good 27-odd minutes slower than my best finish time, but somehow I couldn't be happier with the outcome because there wasn't that familiar discomfort I have grown accustomed to.

The race was also a really fun time as I got to run with two girlfriends, Patti and Sigrid. Neither of them were in it for time either, so we ran the majority of the race together. We had an understanding though that we weren't committed to running the entire thing together, and if at any point someone needed to stop or slow down, the others could run ahead.

At the start line with my girls!
Patti needed a break around the 10K mark and Sigrid and I continued on. But I couldn't keep up with Sigrid at a hilly section shortly after this so I let her get ahead of me and she went on to finish strong while I ran alone a while. Patti eventually caught up with me and we continued to run together until the base of the Burrard Bridge. We were quite close to the finish at this point with about 4km to go but it was at this point where I felt the first signs of cramping. I knew if I continued running, it would be trouble for me but Patti was feeling good and we both wanted her to continue. So at this point we parted and as a result finished a few min apart. I brisk walked up the bridge to stretch out my legs, and after a bit of jog/walk, I found the ability to run again continuously with a decent pace when there was about 2km to go. I am positive that having the company of these girls made for an easier run. And there were other friends I just happened to bump into on course. It's so much easier to forget the effort you're giving when conversation and company are this amazing! Running really can be like a party!

Impromptu action-shot selfie with my friend, Karen. We just somehow bumped into each other on course!
So I finished this one in about 2:27. I don't care to look up the exact time, because really it's not important to me here. Again, it's far from the finish times I'm used to clocking, but I couldn't be more pleased with how the event went.

With our earned bling!
So after the Scotia Half, came the Canada Day 5K. It was hard to know how to prepare for this one in the days between events, as there was only 4 days sandwiched in between. I decided to skip any speed work in those 4 days as I had some tightness in my glutes, hammies, and quads. I just did some light recovery jogs on the Tuesday and Wednesday with loads of stretching and rolling. I trusted in the speedwork I had been doing up until then. The Run Canada Day event is really a great run. It's all in the trails out at UBC at Pacific Spirit Park where I almost never run because of the distance and remoteness of the trails (and my lack of navigational ability in these trails). So running there in an organized event suits me just fine. The event is a great way to kick off celebrating Canada's birthday too as everyone dresses festively in their red and white and there is a great BBQ and Canada Flag cake at the post-race party. It's not a competitive race, although some solid runners do show up to play for sure. With the run being on soft undulating trails though, nobody's finish time reflects their true ability. You can't propel yourself in the same way without being able to bounce off solid ground. I think everyone sees a couple extra minutes on their times, but we can't let the ego get in the way. 

I ran it at my hardest 5K effort, you know the "oh my this sucks" kind of pace the whole way. Knowing it would be slower than it felt, I kept my eyes off my watch and just at who was around me. I tried to let no woman pass me unless she looked significantly younger than me :-) If anyone looked close to my age, I would do all I could to keep her behind me. You see, it feels good when you can do well relative to your age group. I won't win a race, but if I can see I am doing well for my age, then I know I'm achieving something extra awesome (as in beyond the awesome already given for just doing the event). 

I crossed the finish line feeling like a gazillion bucks. It's those hard heart-pounding kickass high-intensity paced 5K races that give the strongest runner's high and perhaps that's part of why I love these races. Minimal recovery and maximal rush. And I felt even better after chatting with some fellow runners at the finish line, guys who are super speedy but also saw a minute or two of added minutes on their finish times because of being slowed down by the trails. I had to take off and not enjoy the party in order to get ready for the next item on my Canada Day festivity plans, so I didn't notice until I got home that I actually finished very well. Like I hoped, I came in as the 18th female overall and 3rd in my age category in a time of 28:55. And this was a 10-year category, F30-39. Feels good to know I did that well even though there were young 30 year old punks in my group. This old gal is comin' for ya ;-)

Runner's high at the end of the race (parking lot selfie).
So what's next? There's the Summerfast 10K this weekend. I'm not sure how it will go as running last week was minimal while we were out of town, although I did get in a killer track workout. I'm excited to see how it goes!

I'll be looking for other races to do this summer, but otherwise my plan is to run lots, hike lots, and just be active in general. I'm coaching a 10K clinic at the North Vancouver Running Room too, starting July 21st! Perhaps you'll join :)

Otherwise, I'll see you here soon!


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