ScotiaHalf

My role as Scotiabank Digital Champion culminated in Sunday’s race – the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon AND my 25th half marathon or what I’m referring to as my ‘silver’ half!

With 24 half marathons under my belt and a few years of experience, you’d think I’d be ready for this significant race. And yet, race day arrived, and I felt almost as unprepared as I’ve ever felt before a half marathon.

Let me reflect on this:

1) Two weeks in May pulled me from my regular training as we (very happily!) toured around the UK. And although I continued to run (in London, Yorkshire & Edinburgh), those runs were tempered by a good dose of sightseeing / stopping to take pictures. Plus beer. So not exactly dedicated training!

2) Work has been nuts! I generally try and squeeze in some runs before work or at lunch, in addition to my weekend long runs. Since returning from vacation, however, it’s been pretty much non-stop. As a result, I slept later and worked through lunch, and training was the collateral damage.

3) My Dad is in town! This is absolutely the best thing! And since he only arrived a few days before the race, I can’t allow that to be an excuse for feeling unprepared. But perhaps I was feeling some pressure to perform, to make him a proud papa! (He is, anyway, but you know…) – plus, more beer.

Race Expo

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Dad joined me on Friday to pick up my race package. We didn’t linger too long, but did run into Debra – so, of course, we got a few photos! Since we went fairly early on Friday, there was no line-up, so we flowed through pretty quickly. My only disappointment (though I didn’t let it show on my face) was that the men’s small shirt was once again far too big.

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Race Day

It kind of snuck up on me, even though I knew it was coming. The night before, I slept terribly – tossing and turning – and the cat jumped on me at 4am. It was tough to drag myself out of bed and get my EVO so I could drive Kristin and Ron to UBC.

ScotiaHalf

I corralled myself where I could keep an eye on Mike, who was leading the 1:45 pace group. This was my goal. I’ve never actually broken 1:50 at the ScotiaHalf, but I was determined to do so this year. Mike’s enthusiasm was unquenchable, but even that made me feel like I might just not be prepared for the race.

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Went out feeling strong, and kept up pretty well with the pace group, particularly when we hit the downhill. I could hear Mike cheering at each kilometre right up until about 11km. Then I started to flag. The heat was getting to me. Nothing compared to last year, when I felt like I was melting into the pavement, but still pretty warm.

Thankfully, on Jericho Hill, Emily was there to cheer me on. That gave me the burst of energy I needed to reach the top…

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…and cruise down 4th Avenue. However, as I turned onto Alma around 15km (3/4 of the way!), I really began to struggle. Each step seemed to suck my energy. How was I going to make it?

And then – there they were! The Forerunners cheer station! Familiar faces, people who knew my name, providing that psychological push required to keep going. And freezies! (Thanks to Lucy for the photos!)

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A few twists and turns through Kitsilano, a few little hills to tackle. Making the turn toward the final challenge – Burrard Bridge – and there it was:

Three very familiar kilometres left. I was wheezing. Andrea passed me with an encouraging word. Finally downhill, and onto Pacific. 20 kilometres. Nearing the final stretch.

Dad was there taking a video! My guy was snapping photos madly! I high-fived a stranger and pushed hard!

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Only a kilometre left so I gave it everything I had…passed a few folks heading into the finishing corral, and passed the clock.

Final time: 1:47:09. A course PB! Not what I had hoped for (though Mike was there to high five me as I arrived), but perhaps better than expected.

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Greeted a bunch of folks, including my coworker, Chris – who kicked my butt in this, his first ever half marathon, with a time of 1:42:29. Amazing!

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Brunch. And home for a nap. And then an afternoon in ‘East Village’ doing our own little brewery tour!

Big congratulations to everyone who ran the ScotiaHalf! I was so happy to have the opportunity to represent and be part of this fantastic race!

Fundraising Results

AND I am very pleased to announce that I reached my fundraising goal of $3,000 in support of the BC Cancer Foundation! Thank you to everyone who contributed, and helped make this a reality! (You can learn more about my motivation to fundraise in memory of my mom here.)

Final Results

Chip Time: 1:47:09
Average Pace: 5:04 min/km
Place Overall: 703/4825
Age Category Place: 73/271

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Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon 2016 – Quick Review

Social Media: Newsletter updates are consistent and informative – not too many, not too few. The @RunCRSWest Twitter handle is fairly active, and #ScotiaHalf got a lot of attention during race week.

Packet Pickup: I took my dad along with me, and the process was smooth and straightforward. Upon entering the Convention Centre, bib pickup was right there. Following the lead of the BMO Marathon, you had to wander through to get to t-shirt pickup, and then wend your way through sponsor booths to the exit. We went around noon, so things were pretty quiet.

T-Shirt/Swag: Unfortunately, ‘ShirtGate’ reared its ugly head again this year. The men’s small shirts are simply too large. Like last year. This is disappointing because I like Asics shirts, and because I KNOW they can make smaller sizes. These are RUNNERS – we don’t like big baggy clothing. Can anything be done? The finisher’s medal is lovely and iconic Vancouver – the only thing I found funny is that it features Science World…which is nowhere near the race route. No matter – glad to have it!

Post-Race: Because I was meeting up with family, I didn’t hang around for long afterwards. There was nourishment, there were booths and photos, there was music. Had I not been so eager to get to brunch, I would gladly have hung about for a while.

Organization: The CRS West events (including Modo 8K and Eastside 10K) are consistently well-organized. I have nothing but positive things to say about the planning and setup, the volunteers, the announcements, the aid stations, the race organizers…bravo! Well done, once again!

Would I run it again? Yes, absolutely. I haven’t decided yet on what my race plans are for 2017, but it’s more than likely that Scotiabank Half will be on the calendar in the near future!

Running Scotland

This post is the final segment on our visit to the UK – read more about Running London and Running Yorkshire.

After departing York, we arrived late Sunday evening in Edinburgh, and upon exiting Waverley Station we were astounded by the amazing views of the old city. We settled in comfortably at our guest house, after some dinner and good Scottish ale.

Scotland – Day One

As planned, I set out early the next morning to do my running tour of the city. Right across from our hotel was Calton Hill, and I started running up the hill before slowing to a crawl up to the peak. The views from Calton Hill are famous – and rightly so. It’s breathtaking. To the north, the Firth of Forth and beyond, to the west and south are Edinburgh Castle, the Old Town, and Arthur’s Seat & Salisbury Crags (more on that later).

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Making things up as I went along, I weaved through a cemetery, passed the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the new Scottish Parliament, and reached Holyrood Park. Not wanting to attempt Arthur’s Seat at that point, I climbed as far as St. Anthony’s Chapel Ruins.

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Upon my return, we spent the next several hours sightseeing – starting with a visit to Edinburgh Castle. We had lunch with a dear friend we hadn’t seen in several years, and her adorable son! Then we ventured further afield to Craigmillar Castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots spent some time. The weather was perfect.

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Next on the agenda was a climb to the summit of Arthur’s Seat – an extinct volcano cone that dominates the city. One would assume it is named for King Arthur, but its etymological roots are unclear. However, what is clear is that the views from the 251m peak are amazing. And the mountain itself is covered in bright yellow gorse, which has a delicious floral aroma.

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We definitely earned the pints we enjoyed that evening!

Scotland – Day Two

The next day was an amazing tour to the Highlands with Rabbie’s Trail Burners (highly recommended!), which included a whisky tasting. No running involved. But we had a fantastic time, and our driver guide, Jade, was brilliant!

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Dunkeld Cathedral

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The Hermitage

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Queens View

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Pitlochry

Scotland – Day Three

Our final day in Edinburgh, I was up early and – despite some pretty intense wind – decided to return to Holyrood Park. I skirted Calton Hill once again, retraced my steps from a couple of days earlier, and then headed up the steep path called The Radical Road.

This route follows the foot of the cliffs called Salisbury Crags. Being literally the only person on the side of this mountain, with views over the Edinburgh, was a moving experience. I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland (again, as an adult) – and finally I was here. And having the opportunity to run in this ancient city was a significant part of it.

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Wended my way back through the park, snapped some photos of Holyrood Abbey, and started another day of sightseeing.

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We met another friend – someone we hadn’t seen in at least 15 years – and enjoyed a sushi dinner together. Wrapped up the evening with a pint of my new favourite beer – Deuchars IPA – a local Edinburgh brew from Caledonian Brewery.

UK – Final Day

An extremely early flight took us from Edinburgh to Gatwick, where we had a several hour layover. We decided to take advantage of the time and took the train to Brighton, visiting the beach and the Pier, and enjoying a tasty English breakfast.

Running Scotland

And then, we had to bid farewell to the UK. For now. We will be back!

Have you ever spent time in Scotland?
I’m considering the Edinburgh Marathon for a future visit…

Lucy kindly agreed to write her third guest blog on the Newport Marathon. You can read more about Lucy from an interview I did with her a few months ago at Interview with a Runner: Lucy Chi!

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On June 4th 2016, I ran the Newport Marathon on the Oregon coast. This was the race I had been training for since January. The goal was to qualify for Boston ideally – or at least achieve a personal best.

In the week leading up to the race, there were a few unexpected obstacles I had to address. One, I had started experiencing an excruciating toothache which was somewhat exacerbated by the impact from running. This was not fun since anyone who has had a toothache knows that you can’t think straight when you have a toothache. Second, I realized I was having an outbreak of rosacea on my body. It rarely happens. In fact, the last outbreak was in 2013. As one can imagine, I was naturally displeased while trying not to be too stressed out about either.

Fortunately, by Thursday, the toothache had subsided somewhat (I did visit my dentist) and the rosacea seemed limited to my torso. Otherwise, in terms of race prep, everything else was on track. I had a terrific pasta meal upon arrival in Newport, 36 hours prior to the race. I also slept well both evenings at the hotel, and the bathroom routine went smoothly on the morning of the race.

I had travelled to the race with my sister, which was also a lot of fun. This was our first race together since the Victoria Marathon 2013. Package pickup was simple the day before. There was no need to show proof of registration. Included in the goody bag were some final race instructions – 1 page, single-spaced and in 10-font. Perhaps my attention span is low these days, but I would have preferred something more concise and in larger font. The instructions did note how the course was measured and that racers would be disqualified if we ran on the wrong side of the road. That made me a bit nervous. What was a surprise was that we would not receive our souvenir shirt until after the race. I guess they really want to make you earn it!

On race morning, we met with fellow Forerunners group leader Judy, and all went to the start line together. The sun was out but the temperature was relatively cool still. On the shuttle bus to the start line, we ran into a former Forerunners friend Stephen with whom I frequently ran several years back. This was a nice surprise. Both of us had trained all winter using the heart rate method and testing with Peak Performance Centre.

The race course itself was an out-and- back course, with the start and finish line located about a 1 mile from each other. It was mostly flat, scenic and along Yaquina Bay. The temperature climbed as the race went on. Fortunately, for the first portion, the road was slightly shaded by a cliff on our left side. However, this disappeared before the 13-mile mark and runners were left exposed to the sun for quite a long period after this point. My pace started to slow naturally. All I could think of was that I wanted to finish this race strong and running. There was no doubt the middle portion of this race was tough for me on this day.

Newport Marathon

The good news in the end:  I did finish the race running and feeling strong again (i.e. no cramps). The bad news:  I didn’t meet my qualifying time nor did I achieve a personal best. However, I was not as disappointed as I thought I’d be. As I watched my qualifying time pass, I realized this race weekend was already great, as I had a lot of fun with my sister and there will be always be other races.

The race medal we received at the end also helped. All half marathon and marathon runners received a beautiful, individually-designed glass medal. It was a medal that one could truly repurpose as a necklace.

Newport Marathon

In addition to the medal and the short-sleeved technical shirt by Alanic, runners also enjoy lots of post-race food such as clam chowder and a pint of beer for free.

Newport Marathon

Overall, it was a well-organized race for a small resort town. For anyone interested in a scenic, fast course in the Pacific Northwest in the future, I would definitely recommend this race. Who knows, I may be back myself in the future for redemption!

Final Results

Chip Time: 3:43:36
Average Pace: 8:33 min/mile
Place Overall: 116/502
Age Category Place: 7/52

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Congratulations, Lucy! I’m really impressed with your efforts and even though it wasn’t a Boston Qualifier this time, I have no doubt in your ability to reach that goal. Thanks for sharing your experiences! – B.

Read other guest blogs by Lucy:

And don’t forget to read my Interview with a Runner: Lucy Chi (one of my most popular posts ever!)

 

Longest Day Road Race

Through my relatively short running career, I’ve come to realize that I’m not a short distance runner. Yet, when the opportunity presents itself, I can’t help being lured by promise of finishing a race in under 30 minutes. Sooner to the finish line, sooner to the food! And while the Longest Day Road Race didn’t start out on my priority list in 2016, I decided to throw my hat in the ring before the final price increase!

One of the other things that attracted me to this race is its role in two BC Road Racing Series: the Lifestages Lower Mainland Road Race Series and the BC Super Series (by BC Athletics). By running a minimum number of qualifying races, runners have a chance to compete in these age-group based series. And while I’m by no means fast enough to place, it’s kind of cool to be ranked against the speediest runners in the province!

I’m not going to lie, I had a pretty rough week. By the time Friday rolled around, I was cranky and disinclined to do anything but sit on the couch…let alone run a race on a Friday night. And with the promise threat of rain, my resolve started to waver. However, Kristin to the rescue! She offered me a ride – and some delightful company. So I rushed home after work, did a quick change, and we were off to the race!

The Good

Having only done the 5k once before (in 2010), and participated in the dreaded double-loop 10k last year, I was glad to have Kristin to point us in the right direction to the start line (which was not at all where I had expected it to be!). There were lots of familiar faces – my peeps from Forerunners, the West Van Run Crew, and a few folks whose names I don’t know but whose faces I’ve seen at many local running events.

Longest Day Road Race

Forerunners galore!

I won a prize! But since it was a gift certificate for a women’s clothing and jewellery store, Kirstin was the lucky recipient.

The race itself went reasonably well. There was a slight uphill at the beginning, a short, steep slope at about 2k, and a very brief incline to the finish. Otherwise, it was pretty much flat or downhill. I’ll talk about results shortly.

Post-race, there is a BBQ. Lots of food, including (lukewarm) veggie burgers (or meat burgers for the carnivores), veggies, fruit, brownies with ice cream, cookies, drinks, pudding…pretty much anything you could ask for. And since the weather turned out to be quite ideal for an evening race, we enjoyed it all while sitting on the grass in the sunset.

That’s right…sunset! No rain at all!

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The Not-So-Good

Generally, I’m quite positive when it comes to my race reviews, and try to give the benefit of the doubt when things don’t go as well as expected. But having participated in a fair number of races in the past few years, I’ve become a bit more…discerning. And, unfortunately, there were a few things about the race organization this year that left me wanting.

Setup – Although Kristin beelined us handily to the start line, things unravelled a wee bit at that stage. Weirdly, the entrance to the race area was through the finish line…there didn’t really seem to be any other option, with fences and whatnot. We started looking for bib pickup, and wandered around for quite a while before finding it rather hidden amongst a bunch of other sponsor tents. There were no signs or volunteers pointing us in the right direction. I was confused.

Longest Day Road Race

Gear Check – To be fair, we may have dallied before heading to gear check, but we gave ourselves about half an hour. There were just two stalwart young volunteers at the gear check, fielding request/demands from some of the 1,000 runners attending the event. They desperately needed help, but no one was around. Although we got our bags checked in time for the race, we left a long line behind us, and I suspect others weren’t as successful. I saw a few folks running with backpacks, which I don’t imagine was their intention.

Start Line – The Start Line was down the hill about 100 metres, and the only way to get there was by walking through the Finish Line…just as the Kids’ 1k was finishing. I found this exceedingly odd, and the poor kids were dodging hundreds of adults heading in the opposite direction. Unlike last year, when the 10k started about 15 minutes after the 5k, we all started together. Crowded in and unsure how far forward to be (I mean, the 5k-ers might want to head out faster, right?), there was an unassuming cap gun – no announcement, no warning, and a minute before the scheduled start time – and everyone was off.

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…And within metres of the Start, an SUV heading down the road towards us. Because, somehow, they ended up on the course. No worries, they stopped, but we all had to flow around them. Something went wrong.

Rubbish – I’ve already mentioned the BBQ. It was great. Food. Yum. And then it was time to go and nary a garbage can or recycling bin in sight. Seriously, it wasn’t a huge space, and we wandered about for almost ten minutes carrying our trash, trying to find somewhere to put it. In the end, we had to go against the flow of people who were still picking up their food, to find the one bin at the end of the food line. It made no sense. I was frustrated.

The Race

In the end, for all my whining and complaining, I enjoyed the race. I had very low expectations for my own performance, having done very little absolutely no speed training in the past month. But as I approached the Finish Line, my running hero Rob Watson was there shouting ‘Sprint! Sprint!!’ and I did and I surged uphill and passed at least three people and got there sooner than I imagined I would. It was not my best time, but it was not the flattest course, and I was pleased with my results. And it was all over in less than 30 minutes!

Longest Day Road Race

Longest Day Road Race

Rob Watson giving me a thumbs up!

This race has been around for at least 10 years. It’s a good race, great local representation, and good food. I was disappointed this year…but I believe with some small tweaks it can be made better. Last year was better. I trust that next year will be better, too.

Final Results

Chip Time: 24:05
Average Pace: 4:49 min/km
Place Overall: 168/715
Age Category Place: 38/104
(I mentioned this last year, too…rather than 5- or 10-year age groupings, I was in the 40-59 category!)

Longest Day Road Race

*Special thanks to Debra Kato for pretty much every photo in this post!

Longest Day Road Race 5k – Quick Review

Social Media: There wasn’t a lot of social media activity, but regular email updates kept us abreast of the event as it approached, and the pre-race instructions were quite detailed.

Packet Pickup: Although there was package pickup at the Running Room on Thursday, I just went to the pickup table (once I found it) on race day.

T-Shirt/Swag: You could get a t-shirt for purchase – but I have more than enough race shirts, so no need to buy one! No swag or medal for this race.

Course: A fairly straightforward loop of the UBC campus – slightly uphill at the beginning and end, and briefly in the middle. Otherwise, a substantial downhill in the first kilometre, with everything else reasonably flat.

Post-Race: A great BBQ with loads of good food, music, festivities…quite a good bit of fun! Draw prizes, too!

Organization: As noted in more detail in the full report, this year’s organization left a lot to be desired. The ‘festival’ setup was extremely confusing, bag check was understaffed, and the start line was chaos. I really think there’s some room for improvement, with just a few tweaks.

Would I Run It Again? I’m kind of on the fence. While I’m glad that I ran the 5k after 5 years, the rushing from work to get to a race kind of stressed me out this time around. Let’s give it a solid maybe.

WeeklyWrap

A bit late in the game, I’m joining the Weekly Wrap-Up with MissSippiPiddlin and HoHoRuns!

ScotiaHalf

Another year has passed, and the summer is fast approaching…and it’s hard to believe that in just three weeks I’ll be running another Scotiabank Half Marathon <– click on that link to sign up!

I’m excited about this year’s #ScotiaHalf for a few reason:

  1. I have the honour of representing the race as a Digital Champion
  2. My dad will be in town to see me finish the race (read more about my dad here)
  3. This will be my silver anniversary half marathon – yep, my 25th half marathon ever!

So, what have I been doing to prepare for my next half marathon? Well, probably not as much as I should be…but I’m doing my best!

At the beginning of May, I finished the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon – it wasn’t a PB, but it turned out to be in the TOP 3 of my half marathons, so that’s not too shabby.

Unfortunately, my ‘training’ was impacted by the very burdensome task of taking an overseas vacation…(in case you missed it, that statement is dripping with sarcasm…)

During my vacation, I continued with my runs – although I admit that they were not long or especially speedy, and involved a few stops along the way for scenic photos. (Read more about Running England, should you care to see a few pics from London and Yorkshire – in total, I ran about 42km in the UK!)

Back home in Vancouver, I started out running 17km with the Forerunners gang – in torrential rain. Seriously, we had perfect weather in England and Scotland, and this is what I came back to! Never been so wet in my life. It took three days for my shoes to dry out.

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A few days later, I happily joined my dear friend Debra and fellow Digital Champion, along with other Scotiabank Half supporters, for a Pizza Training Run sponsored by Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria! Numbers were down slightly due to the threat of rain, which we laughed off…only to be drenched during our 5km loop in East Van. (On the flip side, I got to #fanboi on one of my running heroes, Rob Watson!)

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This weekend, I ran the Ambleside Mile – part of the West Van Run family of races! I tacked on an extra 14.5km to make sure I was keeping up the distance because, you know, the Scotia Half is just three weeks away!

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I’m also very pleased to report that fundraising on behalf of BC Cancer Foundation is going well. At $2,664, I’m just over $300 shy of my $3,000 goal for 2016 in memory of my Mom. Should you be able to support this cause, please donate here.

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Mom & me – I’m running in her memory!

Look forward to seeing you at the Scotiabank Half Marathon on June 26!

I’m also going to jump back in and join the Weekly Wrap-Up with MissSippiPiddlin and HoHoRuns!

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Ambleside Mile

I’ll be honest. I hadn’t planned to run the Ambleside Mile this year. Having just returned from a couple of weeks in the UK – you can read about my running & sightseeing adventures in London, Yorkshire and Edinburgh (coming soon) – I really hadn’t done anything that could be considered ‘speed work’. But since West Van Run is the organizer, and because a bunch of my running buddies were going to be there, I decided to register.

Like the race itself, this will be a pretty short post!

Debra picked me up and we headed over to West Vancouver. Full disclosure: all of the photos in the post are thanks to Debra!

The sun was shining, it was getting hot. Debra and I did a wee warm-up run around the block, and then caught up with lots of our West Van Run Crew buddies.

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We gathered at the Start Line and, after a quick countdown, we were off.

Ambleside Mile

The route differed from last year, which started with a long downhill. Instead, we were running a loop, the same as we did in 2014. It’s a relatively flat course – starting with a very gentle decline (which is repeated at the end), and a short slope at about one kilometre in.

I started out too fast. I knew the almost right away. I was struggling, and felt myself slowing down to a more manageable pace. I held this pace for most of the race, but as I approached the Finish Line, I just didn’t have the strength to kick it up a notch. Corinna blew past me at the end (achieving second in her age group!), and I crossed the timing mat a few seconds later.

Ambleside Mile

No PB today. It’s all a difference of seconds in a race like this, and my speed just wasn’t there today. But it was a respectable time, and I know what I need to do to get faster. Train for it!

After the race, I joined the West Van Run Crew for a 5km run along the Seawall to Dundarave and back. Then, I accompanied Corinna and Adam for a run back downtown over Lion’s Gate Bridge.

Ambleside Mile

A beautiful day, and another race in the bag!

Ambleside Mile

Final Results

Chip Time: 6:39
Average Pace: 6:35 min/mile (HA! That’s 4:05 min/km)
Place Overall: 49/109
Age Category Place: 5/8

Running England - Yorshire

Following an absolutely splendid trip to London (read all about Running England – London), we ventured into the countryside of West Yorkshire!

Yorkshire – Day One

A dear friend of ours lives in Mirfield, West Yorkshire – so we spent the next few days visiting with Anna. We arrived at Mirfield Station early in the afternoon and, afternoon a spot of tea, headed out for some local sightseeing at Oakwell Hall (c. 1583) – and got our first taste of the English countryside.

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Yorkshire – Day Two

With guidance from Anna, my first run took me along the Calder Valley Greenway, a very peaceful run that included the Calder & Hebble Navigation Canal. There were cows. It was perfection.

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We spent the rest of the day sightseeing further afield around Leeds, at Harewood House and Kirkstall Abbey (ruin dating from c. 1152).

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Yorkshire – Day Three

My friend’s stepmum, Ann, graciously acted as a running guide for me the next morning. As a local, she took me on a very scenic tour of the area, that also included some fascinating commentary and historical notes. It wove through the lanes and bridleways of Lower Hopton, and the streets of Mirfield. We conquered a few hills together, and had an absolutely delightful time!

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A bit more sightseeing at Black Dick’s Tower (no joke!) in the afternoon. That evening, we visited the Rams Head Inn – a 450-year-old pub that is perched in an isolated spot on the Pennine Mountain range. It was a stormy night, too, so just right for a cozy beer with friends.

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Yorkshire – Last Day

We bid a tearfully fond farewell to our friends, and made a stopover in York. We spent the day touring around the town with yet another friend we hadn’t seen in many years. It’s such a scenic place, and I wish we could have stayed on longer!

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Tune in next time as the adventure continues on into Scotland!

OH! And I almost forgot. Here’s a token picture of Yorkshire pudding:

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Have you ever had the chance to run in the English countryside?