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The Year in Review

1 Jan

For whatever reason I feel this photo sums up my 2011. Scooting and running.

Here it is ladies and gents! The mandatory running year in review. I’m not jaded at all about this type of post because this is the first year I’ve been serious about keeping records and setting goals for running. So I’m excited to lay everything out. Bear with me.

First off, the cold hard numbers:

Total kilometres run: 1250

Hours spent: 157

Peak month: December, with 176.4 km run.

Lowest month: January and March, tied for last with 0 km run. Glad I got back on the wagon in April.

Number of races: 4, a 5k, 10k, and two halves.

Personal Records Set: 5, for 1k, 1m, 5k, 10k, and Half. Holy.

 

And on to goals set and met:

  1. Improved average pace. A vague sort  of goal, this was easy to accomplish. I effectively cut an entire minute off my average easy pace, which is HELLO uhm a lot.
  2. Ran a half. Done and done, twice! Once for my birthday and once on Thanksgiving. Proud of me.
  3. Consistency. Vague again but not so easy to accomplish. However, since April I’ve run at least 3 times a week, and more often than not, 4-5 times. That is, with the glaring exception of my two-week appendicitis-related break in August.

 

Okanagan Half - October

 

Things I’m most proud of:

  1. Starting the running group for myself and my friends, and sticking with it. I’ve learned a lot about pacing and about how to run safely and teaching others to do the same.
  2. Continually getting my ass out of my bed on dark mornings. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it.
  3. Being patient with my little dog in getting her trained up to run longer distances with me. She’s now a regular little 5k-er and she’ll keep trucking for up to 8.
  4. Starting this blog and getting my thoughts down on virtual paper! I’ve learned so much from fellow bloggers and I think talking with people who understand my love for running has really helped me to stick with it and get excited about new goals.

 

Energizer Night Race 5k - November

And finally, goals for 2012:

  1. Run that marathon I’ve been talking about! No goals for time or anything, I just want to run the whole thing. My plan to accomplish this goal is to stick to my 5 run a week schedule, RESTING on rest days, not doing sprints at the gym, and to listen to my body and taking it easy when I need to.
  2. Remembering to stretch after each run. I used to religiously and actually got a lot more flexible. Then I stopped for no real reason and can’t touch my toes any more. Plus, I’m putting myself at risk of injury! It’s stupid not to.
  3. Run a sub-60 min 10k. I know this is cake for most people but I am slow. This is for after I run the marathon I think.
  4. Finally, continue being consistent.

 

Honestly, looking back on this year, I’m a little bemused about how or why I did it. But I’m damn proud of myself, way more fit and balanced, and 1000% healthier. 2011 was a successful year for me, and I have a feeling 2012 is going to be even better. Until we all die in December, of course.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2012 for everyone! I hope everyone is as pleased with their 2011 as I am. If not, well, there’s only one way to make 2012 better — Go for a run!

Energizer Night Race

13 Nov

Okay so it’s been a while since I posted but I was up to all sorts of cool kid stuff so I won’t apologize.

One of the cool kid things I was doing was the Energizer Night Race, which, hello, was mega-awesome. You can tell by the name. This race was held last night after sundown in Stanley Park (a giganto park next to downtown Vancouver) and was sponsored by Energizer batteries. Not only did we get these stylish neon shirts:

I've always found neon green to be flattering.

But they also gave us headlamps! To wear! It was mandatory to wear the headlamp, which I didn’t mind because as we know, I’m already quite fond of them. Here’s the headlamp:

No unicorns were harmed in the making of this headlamp.

Please notice that it bears no resemblance to a unicorn horn. This I’m both pleased and slightly disappointed by.

Also, here’s me with the Energizer bunny:

There is a man inside that bunny.

That smile is a tad forced. I had an epiphany one day when I realized that there are actual people inside mascot uniforms… and now they just creep me right out. Also:

Stranger Danger!

You’re welcome.

So I organized a group of kids from my Commerce club at school to run the race with me, although… I didn’t really stick with them. But it was nice to get there and back together.

Now for the race. It was just a 5k; I’d wanted to sign up for the 10k but it was full. The route followed the seawall, starting at Second Beach and heading towards Denman and on, then doubling back on itself.

The race went well, although very quickly. I’m used to longer distances where you sort of settle into your pace and join a group that roughly matches you. I had a feeling that many of my fellow runners were first-timers, given that I was passing everyone (unusual, see title of this blog) and that NO ONE would stick to the right hand side. I spent the entire race dodging around people who were going too slowly. Which meant landing in about eighty thousand puddles.

Oh wait I didn’t mention the rain? IT WAS POURING. Like full-on Vancouver downpour. I’m pretty sure I saw some drowned woodland animals but I didn’t look too closely. Now I don’t mind the rain one bit. I don’t even mind puddles. But when I’m forced to slosh through one after the other… I get a little angry.

Of course, the race planners cannot be blamed for the weather. However, I do wish that they had made an effort to make sure everyone understood basic race etiquette. But the headlamp kind of makes up for it.

I checked the results this morning and I beat my PR by 1:15, bringing me below the 30-minute mark to 29:33. Although not very fast, it did land me in the top 100 of 600 racers and 19th (of 86) in my divison, so, uhhhh… suck it.

Cool kids always do thumbs up right?

The only other running-related cool kid thing I’ve been up to? Only starting my marathon pre-training this morning with a nice 7k! HOLY BATMAN. I’m nervous but so excited! It has begun!

Happy trails everybody!

The Day After…

10 Oct

All I can say is owwww. My body. It hurts. Pushing it so hard yesterday is really taking its toll. Luckily, it’s Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada so I can sit around being lazy until it’s time to eat.

No running today.

Tomorrow, I promise, better posts.

BMO Okanagan Half Marathon 2011 Race Report

10 Oct

Okay, as promised, I’ve done the report on the Okanagan half marathon! It really was a fantastic day.

I arrived in Kelowna the afternoon before the race. The expo and both the finish and the start line were located in City Park, which is to the left of the bridge I was coming in on. I drove up with my brother as my support team (although his duties were limited to driving only) so we stopped to check out the expo and pick up my race package. The expo was very small, just a tent with a big space for Running Room gear and a couple other running-related companies. Picking up the race package went very smoothly. The tech shirt they included is very cool but a bit too big… I like my shirts tight when running so we’ll see if I ever end up wearing it. See the picture.

Okanagan Half T-Shirt

We headed over to my Grandma’s who lives very nearby. My Grandma was the absolute best! She declared me princess of the weekend and gave me my own room to sleep in. She told the rest of the family off if they commented on what I was eating (people tend to judge me as a vegetarian athlete…) and wouldn’t let me help out with dinner or anything. See my previous post about everything I ate (because you’re so interested right?). I went to sleep at my usual time, which is 8pm. Yeah… I do that. I woke up also at my usual time at 5 to eat and then did some schoolwork until it was time to get ready.

I wish I’d taken a picture of all my gear and everything but it’s not like it was very special. I had my iPod on my arm because I still like to listen to the music during races. I also used my Nike+ device to record the workout. I was a little nervous that the thing had been overestimating my distances in training so I wanted to compare to make sure. It worked great, only off by 150 meters, which is pretty good.

I prepared a protein shake and banana to have after the race, which made me late. I almost missed the start you guys! The race was scheduled to start at 7:45 but I naturally assumed it would start later. So I got to the park around 7:40, noticed they were getting ready to start, and I still needed to hit the port-a-potties! And you know how long the line-up was! I was in full panic attack mode but some very kind 10kers (who started after the half) let me in front of them. I got in the starting corral just before the wheelchair racers headed out to my extreme relief! I had wanted to get near the 2:30 pace bunny but I was too far back in the crowd. There were about 1500 people doing the half so it was a good size but not too big.

We headed out and I tried to spot the bunny but couldn’t see him at all during the first kilometre. I just focused on not starting too fast and watching out for other runners. The first 10k of the race went through a kind of industrial district in Kelowna that I actually really liked. There were very few spectators but the buildings were interesting. I was still on the lookout for this pace bunny when I saw him ahead of me leading a small group of people. And I realized then that they were going way too slow for me! I didn’t have much of a pace goal but I knew then that I was capable of running faster than a 2:30. So I headed off and focused on staying strong. But you know I needed someone to chase, and I set my eyes on this giant of a man dressed all in yellow. He looked like a gigantic banana running along and I wanted to keep him in my sights. Unfortunately he raced off and I settled on keeping ahead of the group of people that were running my pace.

I don’t know quite what happened but I was feeling great the entire race, never quite like I was topping out. I kept setting my sights on people, passing them, then finding a new person to pass. I was feeling fantastic! I had a little water bottle with me and I had a sip at each water station. I had gels for the 6, 12, and 18k marks. I wish I’d had more space because Gu was handing out free gels and them being my favourite brand, I wanted to stock up!

My one complaint about the organization of the race was that the kilometres for the half were not very well-marked. The kilometres for the full marathon were bright red and easy to see, and though it was nice to pretend I had already run 35 kilometres, it was hard to see where my actual kilometres ticked off.

Around the 10k mark we had circled back to City Park and there were a lot more spectators which felt nice! Our bibs had our names on them so I heard lots of “Go Margaret!” through my music. There was about a kilometre that followed the waterfront that was really beautiful. We then left City Park again for a 10k tour through the suburban streets to the south, which was much quieter. This part I didn’t like so much, because there were very long stretches of running in straight lines through the very well-organized blocks. But it was sprinkling a little and it really helped to cool me off. It was by no means warm out (a solid 12-15 Celsius I’d guess) but I’m used to running very early in the morning.

And you guys, I was still feeling really good. So, around the 15k mark, I just decided ‘screw it, I’m givin er!’ and really picked up my pace. I have no idea what my pace was but I’m sure it was at least 45 sec/km faster than my training pace of 7:15. I was just pushing it and feeling a little bit of that racer’s high when, around 16k, my banana man materialized out of the mist! I laughed out loud and passed him and that set the tone for the rest of the race. I spent the last 5k passing people and trying to maintain a good fast pace. I gave it my all for the last 1000m and ended up with, I think, a very respectable time of 2:17 (roughly).

YOU GUYS that’s 15 minutes off my personal best! I ran a 2:33 three months ago, then went into training just hoping to run maybe a couple minutes faster. Not only did I improve much more than a few minutes, my training was also interrupted by a case of acute appendicitis in August. That put me out for two weeks and then made me work my way back up to the high mileage. So this is a universal SUCK IT world because I’m awesome and good at running.

Okay that’s the end of my bragging. Sorry, but I’ll listen to your brags whenever you want!

The end of the race was fine, not too crowded. The volunteers (who were awesome by the way) handed me my finisher’s medal (see photo) and a water bottle.

Check that badass Ogopogo

The crowds were small and I headed off to the entrance of the park to meet the bro, who snapped this photo:

Yes, I do look good. Thanks

And then we headed home! All in all it was a great day, and I’m so thankful to the organizers for putting on such a great event!

Okanagan Half Pre-Race Nutrition

10 Oct

I have to be honest here; I am no expert whatsoever on nutrition for training or to prepare for races. I’m not even slightly educated in the sense that I feel I could fake it in front of non-runners. I try to eat healthy all of the time but if I’m honest with myself, I probably don’t eat enough carbs. Carbs being the nutrients that even the fatty watching Oprah knows runners need to stay fuelled. I eat a heck ton of fruits and vegetables but I tend to avoid breads and pastas. I do eat pasta the night before my long run once a week and I eat oatmeal and quinoa almost daily. That’s it for grains though.

So I was kind of uncertain how to go about eating in the days leading up to my race. I ate a little more than usual, but no big difference in types of food consumed. The night before, I ate a butt load of pasta with broccoli, spinach, and onions. I tend to mix my food together in a big ol bowl so that mix might sound gross to you but I really liked it. I woke up at five the morning of the race (with a start time of 7:45) to have some oatmeal with a few raisins. This part I was most uncertain about. I had never eaten before a run at all. Ever.  I always run first thing in the morning; rolling out of bed and eating when I get home. This works fine for me, because I usually run about 5 or 6 in the morning. But with this late start time, I knew I needed to eat something. I was real nervous though that switching up my eating the day of the race would be a bad idea; visions of side-of-the-road barf breaks danced in my head. I also had a little caffeine at 7 and left for the race, feeling a little anxious.

But everything turned out just fine! See my next post for the race report y’all!

My Second Half

27 Sep

I gotta tell you, it was tough deciding just what I should discuss in my first real post. I have many comments to make about running, primarily because nobody I know is crazy cool enough to run like me. There’s a lot of pent-up running-related rambling up in this head of mine. Sorry if I spew anywhere near your new Nikes.

I settled on a rather pressing issue, which is an upcoming race I’m facing in a week-and-a-half. October 9th, 2011 y’all. Yes, Canadian readers, that is Thanksgiving Sunday (and by the way, Americans, Thanksgiving in November? You crazy. Wait… Brits don’t have Thanksgiving at all? What a world). And before you get upset that I’ll be missing Thanksgiving dinner, hold your horses folks, I’ve actually worked it out so I’ll get two. Here are the deets:

The BMO Okanagan Half-Marathon:

Does that give you a little hint about where I live? It’s close but not very. This race shall be run in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. It’s a fairly small city right on a beautiful lake. Around this time of year the weather is quite mild and I’m expecting a cool race day. This is my first time running the Okanagan Half but I know the city fairly well, and I also have family living there. That’s how I worked out the double Thanksgiving; one with my grandparents on the Sunday and one back home on Monday.

Find the race website here. It’s one of those family festival shindigs with a kid’s race, 5k, 10k, Half, and full marathon. It’ll run through the streets of Kelowna before ending up at the starting place. There’s little elevation, which bodes well for me, because I can’t avoid training with hills. Races always seem so much easier.

How do I feel about the race? Good, strong, confident. This will be my second time running the half marathon distance and I’m going into it with no expectations. My personal best time is 2:33:18. See the title of this blog? I run slow, get over it.  I’m hoping for maybe less than my PB but I’m really there to enjoy a weekend with my grandparents, the t-shirt, and the crowd feel.

I’ll post my race report within a few days of running it. Look forward to all the gory details!