Running England - London

We have recently returned from our first ever trip to the UK! (To be completely transparent, it wasn’t my first trip – I’ve been there three times before – but the most recent visit was at about age 8, so I’m considering this an inaugural visit.) In keeping with my usual travels, I took the opportunity to run and explore throughout our visit, and I’m excited to share those experiences. This post is the first of three, sharing my runs and sightseeing in the amazing city of London! It will be followed by posts about running in Yorkshire and Edinburgh, Scotland.

We purchased our airline tickets when WestJet had a seat sale last September, promoting their new direct route between Vancouver and London Gatwick. That’s 8 months of anticipation. But it was totally worth the wait! We departed YVR on Sunday evening, arriving in England at around noon the next day.

London – Day One

We checked in, and explored the neighbourhood (Marylebone) before heading down to the Thames River, where we walked along South Bank and took in all of the iconic sights of London, from Big Ben to Tower Bridge.

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London – Day Two

Waking bright and early on Tuesday morning, I donned my running gear and set off to explore. I was delighted that our hotel was just a few blocks from Regent’s Park – so, armed with a Strava Routes guide for London, I proceeded to follow the recommended route around the Park, including Primrose Hill. It was breathtaking!

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Regent’s Park has been Crown property since Henry VIII. It is named for the Prince Regent (later King George IV), who commissioned the design of the park in the early 1800s. It has several gardens, but is mostly wide open parkland – it also includes a sizeable lake, and London Zoo. Primrose Hill, just north of the park, is only 65m high, but it’s a steep climb…and the view from the top is fantastic – including the distant London Eye and the Shard tower.

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More sightseeing ensued that day: Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey…so much to do! We also went to see the Phantom of the Opera! The highlight, however, was tea with a dear friend we hadn’t seen in many years – so wonderful to catch up!

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London – Day Three

Another amazing day at the Tower of London, the British Museum, the Wallace Collection…followed by dinner with two other friends we hadn’t seen since their visit to Vancouver about four years ago.

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London – Last Day

On the day of our departure, I mimicked my route around Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, except in a counter-clockwise direction. I also detoured slightly along Regent’s Canal.

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And then we headed to King’s Cross Station, to board the train for our next destination. Of course, I had to take a photo of Platform 9 3/4 (for all you Harry Potter fans!)

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Join me on the next part of the journey: Running England – Yorkshire! (coming soon)

Have you ever run in London? What was your favourite route?
What’s your number one sightseeing spot?

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When I did my very first Scotiabank race back in 2009, it was a 5K. It seems that the race wasn’t chip timed, so I have no idea how long it took me to finish. What I can remember – vaguely – is that it was a struggle. It was one of my first races ever. Fast forward to 2016, and I am proud and honoured to be a Scotiabank Half Digital Champion!

Scotiabank Half

And what exactly is that, a Digital Champion? Well, we are a diverse bunch of runners – different ages, who run different speeds, at different stages in our running journey. But what we have in common is our love for the sport, and our enthusiasm for the Scotiabank Half and what it represents and means to us.

You can meet all of the Digital Champions – and Pacers – by dropping by the Canada Running Series West website here. Debra Kato and I especially look forward to representing this event with enthusiasm!

Scotiabank Half

Charity Challenge

One of the things that makes the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon & 5K a truly special event is the emphasis on fundraising for charity. Every year there are a number of featured charities, plus a list of over 70 charitable partners to fundraise on behalf of. Fundraising can be as much or as little as you want, either as an individual or as part of a team. And while the Scotiabank Charity Challenge is an awesome component of the weekend, it’s not an obligation – but for me it holds great value.

I had intended to sign up for the Scotiabank Half in 2012 – and actually believed I had – but discovered just days before the race that I hadn’t registered. I took it as a sign and gave it a miss.

In 2013, I was on the ball early and signed up in January for the Canada Running Series Combo – the Vancouver Spring Run-Off 8K (now the Modo 8K), the Scotiabank Half, and the Eastside 10K. At that point, the thought of fundraising hadn’t yet entered my mind.

Scotiabank Half

BC Cancer Foundation

Late in March of 2013, life threw us a curveball. My mom ended up in hospital with a number of medical issues, and we soon learned that she had cancer. It would turn out to be late stage pancreatic cancer, one of the cancers with the lowest survival rates. Because it often goes undetected until it has spread, it is largely incurable. This turned out to be the case for my mom. I headed back to Ontario to spend time with her and my dad, but two weeks later on April 19, she passed away quietly in hospice.

Scotiabank Half

We spent the next couple of weeks putting affairs in order, planning the funeral, saying goodbye. And then it was back to the real world. I felt helpless, a bit lost, angry and exhausted. Then I decided that the only thing I could do was try and do something positive – and that where the Scotiabank Half came into play.

Deciding to fundraise on behalf of the BC Cancer Foundation, I wanted to honour my mom’s memory. I committed to raising money to fight cancer – and to help fund the research that is still desperately needed.

Scotiabank Half

That commitment has continued – in 2014 and 2015 – and I’m doing it again this year. My goal is to raise $3,000 and bring my lifetime fundraising total to over $12,000. You can visit my fundraising page here:

http://donate.bccancerfoundation.com/goto/bjcjapan

So no matter what your motivation – to run your first half marathon, to join a team, to fundraise for a charity that is dear to your heart – the Scotiabank Half & 5K is a race worth running! Want to sign up? Visit the website here: http://www.canadarunningseries.com/svhm/svhmREG.htm

Scotiabank Half

Mary Alice Cuzen 1934-2013

 

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Facebook informed me that Sunday (May 1, 2016) was the five year RUNiversary of my very first half marathon – the 2011 BMO Vancouver Half Marathon! And it was a great day for celebration! Here’s what I looked like in 2011:

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Over the past few months, I have been running fairly consistently with the #RunVan Club on Thursday mornings at 6:30am. If you know me, you know I’m not a morning person – so this is a big deal. And it speaks to the quality of people I get the opportunity to run with in the early hours! RunVan is sponsored by the Vancouver International Marathon Society and the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel – and led by a group of very dedicated runners.

I hadn’t originally committed to signing up for the BMO Half Marathon this year – but I was so inspired by the RunVan gang that I ended up taking the plunge! I’m so glad I did!

The Expo

HUGE kudos to the Expo organizers!

In recent years, since I’ve run the BMO, the Health & Fitness Expo has been held at the ‘old’ convention centre. There was always a long lineup to get in, the whole bib pickup process was very transactional, and the expo itself was chaos – crowds of people milling about in all different directions.

THIS year, the venue moved to the new Vancouver Convention Centre, and it was sheer bliss! Just steps from my office, my coworker Kyla (who was running the 8k) and I ventured to the Convention Centre, decked out in BMO blue!

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Bib pickup was super-quick – if you didn’t know your number, there was a printed out list on boards at the entrance. While waiting in line, ran into Siobhan (@semcc53) – one of my RunVan buddies, fresh off her Boston Marathon!

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Another RunVan friend, Greg (@gherringer), was manning the course maps.

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Entering the exhibition hall, we were awed at the grandness of it all!

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

In my opinion, the great thing about the layout was that it zigzagged through the hall, allowing you to browse the many vendors, chatting with friends along the way. We spent some time with Debra, who was bringing her usual enthusiasm to the CRS West booth (Debra and I are both Digital Champions for the Scotiabank Half Marathon!).

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Also encourage you to visit the website of Arroyo – a new brand of trail running gear from local entrepreneur and speedy runner, Ben!

Arroyo

There were a few minor complaints from those who didn’t want to linger, and felt the expo flow made it impossible to do a beeline to the t-shirt pickup. However, I’m fairly certain there was an open passage at the edge of the hall.

We picked up our t-shirt, free transit passes – and realized we had spent over an hour enjoying the event! Well done, BMO Vancouver Marathon!

Race Day – Start Line

The Half Marathon started at 7am, and Debra had promised to take some photos at the start line before she ran the full Marathon, which started at 8:30am. I picked her up in my trusty Evo, and we headed to Queen Elizabeth Park in the centre of Vancouver proper.

The sun was shining, there was a slight chill in the air, but it was clear that the day would soon warm up. We ran into several friends – including Caroline, Fiona and Jeannine.

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And after a few quick visits to the loo (yay for men’s urinal station!), off to the corral!

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Race Day – The Course

I’ve run this route a few times, and I think I did a pretty good job of telling its story in my 2015 BMO Vancouver Half Marathon race report. So I won’t go into a whole lot of detail. Here are a few of my recollections of this year’s race experience:

  • The lead wheelchair racer passing everyone on the downhill!
  • Awesome view of lead runners heading down Cambie Street, and up onto Cambie Bridge – with BC Place as the backdrop

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  • Thinking ‘if this were the Sun Run I’d nearly be done’ – on Cambie Bridge at kilometre 4
  • Being left hanging when I tried high-fiving a spectator at the turnaround…she high-fived the guy ahead of me!
  • Wishing I was at brunch as we passed White Spot on Dunsmuir (we ended up going there for brunch afterward, at my suggestion!)

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  • Passing the lead wheelchair racer on an uphill (a couple of times…but I’m pretty sure he finished before me!)
  • I thought Pipeline Road was the challenging hill, but what are all these hills in Stanley Park? Were these here last year?
  • Catching a glimpse of Caroline around mile 12…trying to catch her, but never quite reaching her…
  • That final stretch to the finish line…cheering spectators on both sides…music and announcements and noise and just trying to reach that goal…

Race Day – Finish Line

I haven’t pushed myself that hard in a race for a while. I earned this medal!

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Finally caught up with Caroline (umm…because she had stopped running) – and despite her pre-race protestations that I ‘always beat her’ in races, she bested me by about 30 seconds!

A voice behind me: “Are you Bradley?” Me: “Yep!” Him: “I read your blog all the time!” Me: “Aw, thanks! Let’s take a selfie!” New running buddy Jonathan and me (taken by his wife, who kindly didn’t steal my iPhone!):

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And Michelle, our Fairmont Waterfront rep and RunVan fan!

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Gathered up my green banana (ewww…), a couple bags of chips, a veggie sandwich (that I would eat much later in the day), and off to watch a few more friends finish their race. One more photo…

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

And then brunch time!

Not a PB, but a negative split, and Top 3 out of my 24 half marathons to date! Not too shabby!

Runner of a Certain Age Podcast

I’m also very honoured to say that – along with fellow runner, Kaella – I was featured in a guest spot on the Runner of a Certain Age Podcast, hosted by one of my favourite BibRave Pros, Elizabeth! You can visit the page and download the podcast here. You should subscribe, too!!

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Final Results

Chip Time: 1:46:03
Average Pace: 4:59 min/km
Place Overall: 975/8720
Age Category Place: 83/439

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon 2016 – Quick Review

Social Media: BMO/RunVan does a great job of social media – Twitter, Facebook…they pay attention to what’s going on, follow up and connect. Thumbs up!

Packet Pickup: As noted in my report, this year’s Expo was a huge improvement over previous years – new venue, smooth flow of people, quick and efficient. Plus, a bunch of people I knew!! Two thumbs up!

T-Shirt/Swag: I really like this year’s t-shirt. The colour is kind of a blue-green, something I don’t already have. The design is simple but impactful, and the fabric quality is light but not too thin. The medal is similar to that of previous years, clean design, and solid. Nice!

Course: A great spectrum of what Vancouver has to offer! City streets, ocean views, Stanley Park…what more could you ask for? The one complaint I heard is that because we weren’t running the Seawall during the Half, the views of the ocean were not as spectacular. This was not my experience!

Post-Race: The flow of people at the finish line was smooth. Medals, photos, water, juice and bananas – all delivered by awesome volunteers! Other food was piled high, allowing us to grab what we needed as we went by. Baggage pickup was pretty quick. There was a ‘street party’ nearby, but I made a beeline out to meet friends.

Organization: I really thought BMO organizers did a great job this year. The one glitch (that may have been a technical issue at Sportstats) is that results were slow in coming. There were volunteers with iPads near the finish line, but the informed us the website had crashed. Many folks had Facebook/Twitter notifications popping up about them being on the run…hours after they had finished the race. This problem should definitely be addressed! Otherwise, things went off without a hitch!

Would I run it again? Vancouver’s only marathon, along with a half marathon and an 8k…as well as a marathon relay! Chances are pretty good that you’ll see me on the course in the future!

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Sun Run 2016

Posted: April 28, 2016 in My Story
Tags: , , ,

Sun Run

Celebrated my sixth Sun Run this year! Here’s a quick recap of the last few years:

  • Sun Run 2009 (1:17:23) – my very first race…ever! Finished in a solid one hour and 17 minutes
  • Sun Run 2010 (1:04:58) – trimmed over 10 minutes off my previous race results
  • Sun Run 2011 (1:03:23) – slightly faster, but still room for improvement!
  • Sun Run 2012 (57:39) – finally broke the one hour mark
  • Sun Run 2013 – registered, but had to pull out due to my Mom’s illness
  • Sun Run 2014 – falling the weekend before my very first marathon, I decided to give the race a miss; fortunately, there’s a guest blog!
  • Sun Run 2015 (47:08) – hot on the heels of my 10K PB at West Van Run, set my course record by breaking 50 minutes!
  • Sun Run 2016 (??) – read on to learn how this year’s race turned out!

Just me and 40,000 of my closest friends ran this year’s Sun Run. After all these years, I knew what I was in for – crowds, crowds and more crowds. And, at the same time, lots of smiles, amazing energy in the city, and (yet again) beautiful spring weather. That’s the Sun Run!

I signed up with a large group of colleagues and their family and friends. There were close to 150 of us representing. But in the chaos at the start line, I didn’t run into anyone I knew this year…

THE START LINE

Predictably, I got complacent. The Sun Run start line is less than 15 minutes walk from home. Sure, I went through the usual routine, ate my oatmeal, drank some coffee…and then another cup of coffee. Though we had plenty of time to get to Burrard and Georgia, it dawned on me that the coffee had gone straight through. I lined up for the porta-potties.

And then I waited.

And waited.

What the heck are people doing in there?!

Although I was in and out in a flash, by the time I got to my corral…well, it was full. I had strategically seeded myself in the Yellow corral, the one right behind the elites…but there was no room for me.

Sun Run Sun Run

I crowded into the Green corral, blocked by a fence, and knew that this year would not be a Sun Run PB. Because no matter where you are, they will walk. Predicted finish time: 44 minutes? The walkers will be there. Five across. Holding hands.

ON THE COURSE

The Green corral was released not long after the Yellow corral, so it was a relatively short wait. But here’s the thing about the Sun Run…unless you’re at the front, you will never be nimble enough to dodge the hordes before you. And this happened to me.

The gun for the Green corral went off, and as we shuffled toward the timing mat, the announcer was yelling: “No running! Wait until you cross the mat!” I assume people were being trampled. I kept my eyes forward.

Over the mat, onwards! And then, at perhaps 100 metres, the girl in front of me fumbled, gasped (I can only assume), and dropped her smartphone. And came to a dead stop. Right in front of me. A collision was unavoidable. But I ricocheted off her, recovered my pace, and continued.

A good chunk of the race was a blur. The route is so familiar, one that I’ve run so many times, that none of it stood out particularly. Except:

  • Christina cheering as we ran along Pacific Ave.
  • One team with awesome Star Wars themed shirts…but I only ever saw the back, so I have no idea who they were *sad face*
  • A guy dressed as…moss man? At one point I thought he was beating me, but I definitely finished first!

And, naturally, a whole lot of fancy footwork to avoid being tripped, trampled or otherwise catapulted off the course by many members of the running public!

THE FINISH

I heard someone call my name as I veered up onto Cambie Bridge, just before 9k. Who was it? Rumour suggests it might have been Lucy, but I have no evidence to back that up. And then the finish line…I hear the name of my coworker Lana being called (how random, out of tens of thousands of people!), and I’m done.

Truly done. Hot and sweaty and done.

I waited around to watch a few people finish – a few folks spot me and come by for a chat. Finally, I head indoors, where BC Place is absolutely rocking.

Sun Run

Finally, we join some friends for brunch, and head home. Another Sun Run in the bag.

REFLECTIONS

Now, don’t get me wrong, Yes, I may sound a bit complainy about the challenges inherent with the Sun Run…the crowds, the runners who don’t really know running etiquette, the challenge to achieve a decent time (which, by the way, people do). But, I love this race. It has a special place in my heart since it’s how I began. It’s my origin story, of sorts.

And the Sun Run brings together so many people – runner, non-runners, new runners, walkers, friends, family, coworkers, strangers – and gets them out, on the streets of this amazing city, in a big, colourful, noisy, disastrously chaotic yet incredibly well-organized celebration.

So, really, I’ve got nothing to complain about! See you at Sun Run 2017!!

Sun Run

Final Results

Chip Time: 48:46
Average Pace: 4:52 min/km
Place Overall: 2688/41138
Age Category Place: 197/1667

Sun Run 2016 – Quick Review

Social Media: Organized through my company, there wasn’t the need for too much social media – plus, I knew pretty much what to expect. However, @VancouverSunRun had a pretty active Twitter feed, and engaged with its audience really well!

Packet Pickup: We had a corporate team event that involved free appies, so this was quick and easy!

T-Shirt/Swag: For the first time (in my experience), the Sun Run t-shirt was not cotton, but a legitimate technical shirt in blue and black. A nice souvenir that I can use in the future!

Course: Scenic, as is to be expected in Vancouver. The first kilometre downhill is always a challenge, trying to gain some momentum without going out too strong, and dodging walkers on the way. There are a couple of challenging hills…Hornby between Beach and Pacific, Burrard Bridge, and Cambie Bridge. But I’m pretty familiar with these, so I was prepared.

Post-Race: The BC Place festival is epic. Thousands and thousands of people on the stadium floor, free samples galore (if you’re willing to line up), and gigantic letters so you can pre-arrange meeting places. I didn’t stick around too long this year, but it’s quite an experience.

Organization: Given the scale of the event, I cannot but commend the organizers for pulling this off year after year. Tremendous!

Would I run it again? Oh, you know I will! How can I not?

Disclaimer: I received a pair of xx2i Bermuda lifestyle sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to test and review the xx2i USA1 Pro Racing Sunglasses, and have worn them anytime I’ve run/raced since I got them. Understandably, I was thrilled to receive my new pair of xx2i Bermuda1 lifestyle sunglasses. Given that these are not meant for running, it seemed like a great complement to the USA1 pair, which don’t necessarily go with street wear.

Spring is not the optimal time of year to test a pair of sunglasses in the Pacific Northwest. My new shades arrived, but we didn’t actually see a hint of sun for weeks afterward. And then, finally, the sun came out!

Like the Pro Racing glasses, these ones came in a sturdy case, along with a cloth bag that also serves as a handy lens cleaner.

xx2i Bermuda Sunglasses

My first reaction to these sunglasses is that they looked really BIG. I tried them on a couple of times at home, and was concerned that they didn’t really fit my face.  The colour and design also made me a bit skeptical – is tortoiseshell really my thing?

First sunny day, and the glasses went on. I felt a bit self-conscious walking down the street, wondering if everyone was staring at the guy with the ginormous Audrey Hepburn-esque Hollywood sunglasses. In retrospect, it seems pretty likely that they weren’t. I asked opinions of multiple people, with reactions varying from lukewarm to positive. But as I got used to the feel of them, the concern about what others might think continued to wane. And then my stylist friend gave me a solid thumbs up, telling me that the sunglasses are absolutely fashionable. I’m sold!

xx2i Bermuda Sunglasses

What I have come to love about these sunglasses is the lenses. They’re kind of a reflective blue on the front, but wearing them is a real treat. You get a slight orange-tinted view of the world – and, while cutting the UV and glare of the sun, it actually makes things brighter and clearer. I’m kind of used to my cheap pair, which basically just darken everything. The xx2i are a vast improvement!

xx2i Bermuda Sunglasses

If I had one complaint, it’s that the arms don’t quite lay flat when folded, making them a tad bulky when not being worn. This is a minor design issue in my opinion, and certainly not a deal-breaker.

The clouds and rain rolled in again, so I’ve still not had much occasion to wear the Bermuda1’s – but with summer just around the corner, these sunglasses are going to be a staple in my wardrobe!

Another awesome thing – all xx2i sunglasses come with a 365-day replacement guarantee! Who could ask for a better deal?

Visit the xx2i website and make a worthwhile investment! You can use the discount code XX2iRocks for 50% off, which is absolutely amazing. The Bermuda1 is so new that it might not yet be available online – but will be very soon!!

Platte River Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Platte River Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

When the opportunity to run the Platte River Half Marathon caught my attention, it didn’t take long for me to reach out to my good friend Annmary and ask if she and her family were open to receiving guests in their home in Colorado. Thankfully, they were! We booked flights, scheduled time off work, and waited in anticipation. That was October.

As race weekend approached, I got nervous. What would it be like running at altitude? Would I pass out on the course? The answers to these questions…coming up!

Friday – Acclimatizing

Pre-dawn alarm, train to the airport, one of the smoothest security and immigration checks I’ve ever experienced, and we were in the air before 8am. Three hours later, we landed in Denver, a mile above sea level, and our long weekend had begun! We grabbed our rental car and arrived at Annmary’s place just in time for lunch. We hadn’t seen each other since we lived in Japan – could it be 15 years already? But it was like no time had passed and we were welcomed warmly into the family.

The girls – Meghan and Becca – arrived home from school and decided to join me on my shakeout run. Armed with a bottle of water (I never carry water, but Annmary cautioned me on the only way to prevent altitude sickness) and we were out the door. Half a mile and a loop of the block later, I dropped the girls off at the house and ventured out on my own.

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

The Cherry Creek Spillway is an urban nature trail – I saw prairie dogs, birds, rabbits and deer along the 2 kilometre route, and then extended my run to incorporate the West Tollgate Creek Trail. Ended up going a bit further than planned – 11km. Although I drank my entire bottle of water, I had a splitting headache. I blame the elevation (averaging about 1,700 metres or 5,500 feet).

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

Slept early, after taking a Tylenol.

Saturday – Bib Pickup

Not too early on Saturday, we headed off to Runners Roost (a local Colorado store) to pick up my race packet. In the downstairs community room, I got my bib, an awesome long-sleeved race shirt, and samples from race sponsors nuun and Honey Stinger. It was quick and efficient, and the volunteers were friendly and helpful.

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My only regret: I neglected to stock up on my go-to fuel – PowerGel Double Latte flavour – and despite visiting several stores, no one had it. I bought ‘Orange Dream’ instead. Lesson learned.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent sightseeing in downtown Denver. I probably walked too far, but we had a great time with the family!

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Another relatively early night, since morning would come early!

Platte River Half Marathon

Sunday – Race Day

The Platte River Half starts in Littleton, a small city south of Denver. It took us about 30 minutes to drive, accompanied by Annmary, Meghan, and my better half. After a quick porta-potty visit, I glimpsed a flash of orange and dashed over to meet fellow BibRavePro, Katherine (@MagicofRunning) – moments later, we were joined by Abbie (@AbbieMood). Thank goodness for BibRave orange! This was my first official BibRavePro race, and I was thrilled to represent with these two amazing women! We hugged, wished each other well, and headed towards the start line.

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

A few announcements were happening, and despite being near the front I couldn’t hear a word – some sound system issues? And all of a sudden the countdown was on, and we surged forward into the streets of Littleton. It’s a cute, historic town – we did a loop and ended up back where we started before turning west down a small path (Little’s Creek Trail) until we reached the Platte River.

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For the next 10km, we followed the windy river route, crossing several bridges (5, by my count) before detouring into an industrial area as we got closer to the city.

Platte River Half Marathon

Highlight! The race includes a 3-leg relay – two 5-mile legs, and a final 3-mile leg. As we approached mile 5, a boy of about 6 or 7 was pushing towards the exchange point with his dad. It was obvious he was running out of steam, but a whole bunch of runners started encouraging and cheering him on, and he sprinted towards the timing mat to pass the baton to his older brother. Great inspiration!

The aid stations – and I took advantage of every one of them – were well stocked with water and nuun, and the volunteers were great. I got a chuckle out of how many pronunciations of ‘nuun’ I heard…from ‘noon’ to ‘nun’, and every diphthong in between. But it was excellent hydration no matter how you say it!

We veered back towards the river, now running alongside the highway as we crossed another bridge. The finish line couldn’t be too far away. I resisted the urge to look at my watch, and spent a significant amount of time converting miles to kilometres and back again.

Platte River Half Marathon

One more right turn, we passed under the highway – and then Mount Everest was looming in front of us. OK, it was actually just the 8th Ave Viaduct, but after running a gentle downhill slope for the past 12 miles, it looked insurmountable. It wasn’t, of course, but once I reached the top the bridge itself seemed to go on forever. I started encouraging myself – I think I was speaking aloud: “You’ve got this. Don’t give up. Almost there.”

Down the far side, a quick left, and the finish line was just a block away! I picked up the pace, and pushed myself with a finally burst of energy. Platte River Half Marathon complete!

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Everyone was there to welcome me, and accompany me to the post-race festival. In addition to a nifty mason jar mug, there were lots of freebies and samples. Best of all, I got not one but two veggie burgers from the Buckhorn Exchange, and a beer from Breckinridge Brewery! First sip of beer, and Katherine was there for a cheers and a race debrief!

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Back to Littleton to pick up the car – and the rest of the day relaxing with the family!

Monday – Hiking

Making as much as we could out of this trip, we took an extra day to enjoy Colorado. Annmary took the day off, and we headed south towards Colorado Springs. Not too far out of town, however, we caught sight of some beautiful landscapes, and pulled off into Castlewood Canyon State Park. We intended to stay briefly, but ended up delighted by the scenery and hiking for nearly two hours. Exhausting, but totally worth it.

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Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

We finally reached the remarkable geological phenomena called Garden of the Gods. Striking red rock formations protruding from the ground – simply amazing! It was a bit foggy, and we were pretty worn out – so we just drove around and snapped a few photos before heading back to Denver.

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

Hugs and farewells – and we headed to the airport. Home again after a successful race weekend!

Platte River Half Marathon – Quick Review

Social Media: I engaged very regularly with Platte River Half on Twitter, and was disappointed that I never got a response. In fact, their most recent Tweet (as of race day) was from St. Patrick’s Day. Their Facebook page was kept pretty much up-to-date, however, and they provided few (but enough) emails.

Packet Pickup: Quick and straightforward with some sponsor samples available to try out!

T-Shirt/Swag: Beautiful long-sleeved technical shirt in just the right size.

Course: Scenic views of the river for the majority of the route, and mostly downhill. The foray into some industrial areas was nothing special. The viaduct uphill in the final mile was a killer. The altitude was a challenge, but despite the ‘thin air’ I was happy with my results.

Post-Race/Medal: Excellent after party include free burgers and beer for runners, and a variety of sponsors sampling their wares. Big, beautiful medal – the largest so far in my collection! Plus a Breckinridge Brewery mason jar mug branded for the race!

Organization: With the exception of disengaged social media, the race itself was extremely well-organized. Volunteers were plentiful and friendly, aid stations were well-stocked, and everyone had a great time.

Would I run it again? Colorado is a beautiful place and I’d love to visit in the future. Given the time and opportunity, I would definitely do another Platte River Half!

Final Results

Chip Time: 1:53:15
Average Pace: 8:39 min/mile
Place Overall: 190/540
Age Category Place: 35/75
*Also, from the results page, it looks like I might have been the only runner from Canada!

Platte River Half Marathon

Have you ever run a race at altitude? Did you find it more challenging?

WeeklyWrap

And after a bit of a hiatus, happy to link up again with HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap!

Modo 8K

I want to start this post with a special announcement! Recently, I had the honour – along with Debra Kato – of being selected as a Digital Champion for the upcoming Scotiabank Half Marathon on June 26! Debra and I, along with a group of talented pacers, will act as ambassadors for this awesome race, which puts great emphasis on raising funds for worthy charitable causes. More to follow! Thanks to Canada Running Series for hosting this event, and providing an entry to this year’s Modo 8K!

Modo 8K

Debra’s hair matched the Modo race shirts!

Officially the Modo Spring Run-Off 8K, this event is sponsored by local carshare Modo, of which I am a long-term member. Like all CRS races, the Modo 8K is always well-organized with great swag and awesome door prizes. Another bonus:  if you run all three CRS West races in 2016, you get the fabulous ‘three-peat’ medal. So, if you ran the Modo 8K and you like your bling – make sure you register for the Scotiabank Half (or 5K) and the Eastside 10K!

Modo 8K

Race Day

This year’s Modo 8K happened to coincide with my guy’s birthday – and partly because I got to run the Laughlin Half Marathon on my birthday in December, I encouraged him to sign up. Despite having returned from a two-week trip to Japan just days before, he gamely ventured out on the morning of March 20!

Modo 8K

Debra picked us up in the green monster – and fortunately the race didn’t start until 10am so we didn’t have to drag ourselves out of bed too ridiculously early. It was still raining lightly and a bit chilly when we arrived at Stanley Park. An internal debate raged – should I continue wearing a long-sleeved shirt, or could I manage with just a t-shirt? Standing inside the Stanley Park Pavilion, it was easy to convince myself that it was warm enough, so I stood outside in the rain for a few minutes and decided I could handle it in short sleeves.

Got a few pre-race photos in…

Modo 8K Modo 8K

Then we milled about and socialized with some local celebrities, including Gord Kurenoff – Vancouver Sun blogger extraordinaire. If you’d like to read a more professional review of the race than mine, see Gord’s article here.

My chiropractor had recommended that I not ‘race’ this race, to help with a bit of recovery (don’t worry, nothing serious) and prepare for the upcoming Platte River Half Marathon in Colorado on April 10. So I decided to act as a pacer, and keep the birthday boy company in his first race since November’s Fall Classic.

Modo 8K

Start Line selfie

On the Course

In previous years, the Spring Run-Off took us clockwise around Stanley Park – skirting Lost Lagoon, and following the Seawall to Lumberman’s Arch. However, the race always ended with a short but steep uphill and a fairly sharp turn just before the finish line. This year, the course reversed direction, allowing for a smooth and speedy decline at the start. Inevitably, there was still some uphill at the end, but it was straight and (to my mind, at least) not as steep.

Modo 8K

As the gun went off, the rain stopped and we had pretty much ideal race weather – cool, overcast and dry. The views over the ocean were breathtaking, as they tend to be on the Seawall. Lots of cheering and friendly faces on the course. Although we didn’t stop to take advantage of them, there were two well-stocked water stations with particularly enthusiastic volunteers on hand. The course was fast and flat – and then we were done!

Modo 8K Modo 8K

Post-Race

Lots of goodies – cookies, bananas, yoghurt, Oasis juice boxes – and a medal! The rain started to fall soon after we finished, so we headed inside to enjoy live music, socializing, and awards. There were also some pretty substantial door prizes, drawn from boxes into which we had dropped tickets with our bib numbers. And here is my only complaint – when someone didn’t claim their number, rather than drawing a new number they simply chose the closest number. I didn’t feel this was completely fair, but there you go.

We snapped a few more finisher with friends, including the Kirill from West Van Run!.

Modo 8K Modo 8K

Then we went for birthday brunch!

Modo 8K

A huge shout out to the race organizers, volunteers and sponsors who made the Modo 8K a success yet again this year! I have to say that I loved the colour of this year’s race t-shirt, as well as the totem pole medal design!

Modo 8K

You can read about previous Modo 8K races here: 2015 and 2014.

Final Results

Chip Time: 49:05
Average Pace: 6:08 min/km
Place Overall: 494/962
Age Category Place: 28/39

WeeklyWrap

It’s been a few weeks, so I’m glad to link up again with HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap!