Posts Tagged ‘eastside 10k’

Eastside 10K

Disclaimer: I won 2 free entries to the Eastside 10K from Modo Car Coop from their #ModoMobi contest. I appreciated the opportunity to run, and to invite a friend!

Now in its fourth year, the Eastside 10K remains one of my favourite Vancouver races. In addition to the charitable component, supporting the Downtown Eastside, the race winds through some of the most historic parts of the city. It’s well-organized, and I always run into a bunch of familiar & friendly faces on race day.

Except this year…those faces were really, really wet.

Flashback to 2015 – a rainy Eastside 10K. I thought we had it rough. I was wrong.

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The summer of 2015 – one of the driest and hottest on record in Vancouver. And as you’ll learn from my 2014 Eastside 10K Race Report, last year’s race was also sunny and dry.

This year – not so much!

It wasn’t a surprise. The weather reports have been consistent all week – the weekend would be wet. True, we were told the rain would be heaviest Saturday night and Sunday morning…but I guess it arrived early. I woke up to this:

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And the pitter patter of rain on the window.

I probably got up a bit too early, and arrived at the start line a bit too early. I was bundled up in my WestVanRun gear! I stayed warm and dry as long as I could, but finally had to strip down, check my bag, and head out.

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At least arriving early gave me a chance to connect with some of my favourite running peeps! (Special thanks to @DebraKato and Pat Cheung for these photos!)

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I made it to the corral. And yes, for the moment, I was still smiling!

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This is the third time I’ve done the Eastside 10K. Since the inaugural 2013 run, this race has grown in popularity from 1200 runners to nearly 2300 (registered) runners this year (I suspect the rain may have kept some people home)! And I understand the appeal – it’s well organized, the medal is unique and very cool, it’s the only race that runs through the impoverished Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES) – and there’s a big fundraising component supporting the less fortunate living in the area. Registering this year was a no-brainer.

The Course

My feet started to get wet within the first 500 metres or so. And then I just stopped caring. I’ve run races in the rain before, and at least today was mild – not the soaked and chilled-to-the-bone feeling I’ve experienced. It was actually quite refreshing, and didn’t really affect my run…

…until the halfway mark. We turned around and headed back the way we came. I knew what to expect – the hills, the puddles, the terrain. The rain seemed to be coming down harder – it actually hurt a little bit (not really, but you know – it felt sharp?). But most annoying of all was that my shorts started to slap against my thighs. They were completely water-logged, and I felt like I was getting heavier and bogged down. At this point, I wished I had worn my Brooks split shorts that I wore for the Vancouver Spirit Run – they make me feel a bit exposed, but at least they wouldn’t have been so heavy!

So I hiked up the shorts – actually folded the waistband over and pulled them higher – and kept on.

I knew enough about the course to save some energy for the final push. The last kilometre starts with a significant uphill onto the Viaduct (I pondered what would happen to this race route if/when the City of Vancouver demolishes the Viaduct…). I pushed to the top, and then stuck to my guns in not letting anyone pass me during that last kilometre. I set my sights on individuals ahead of me, caught up, and passed them.

A little kick at the end. They told us to smile, but I’m fairly certain I had my grimace/race face on. Crossed the finish line, high-fived a few folks and thanked a few others who I had been pacing. Got my medal and told a damp selfie. Turns out that while this was not a personal best for the 10K, it was a course PB – a minute faster than last year!

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Changed my clothes and got a close-up of the medal:

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And cheered on some runners at the finish line:

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By this point, I had lost track of my team. I was wet and hungry – I headed first to Starbucks for warmth and coffee:

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And then home for a well-earned nap!

Final Results

Chip Time: 48:31
Average Pace: 4:51 min/km
Place Overall: 367/1720
Age Category Place: 39/98

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RACE REPORT

Overall
If CRS West could control the weather, I would have asked them to cut back a bit on the rain. But since they can’t – I have nothing but good things to say about the Eastside 10K 2015!

Packet Pickup/Expo
Dropped by Queen Elizabeth Theatre for package pickup. Forerunners had a display with a selection of running gear, but otherwise it was a simple affair. Grabbed my bib and t-shirt, and I was on my way (with a photo, of course!)

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T-Shirt/Swag
The t-shirt design is great. One of the cool things about the Eastside 10K is that participants have an opportunity to vote online for both colour and design! I love the interactiveness! It’s made of polyester/cotton, so I’ll likely use it for the gym (or general wear) rather than for running. But I like it!

The dog tag design of the Eastside 10K medals are always cool. This year features the ‘Gassy Jack’ statue on the reverse – a landmark we pass en route.

Course
The course is out and back, with a loop at the end. It runs through the poorest parts of Vancouver, as well as the touristy, cobble-stoned streets of Gastown. Due to the weather, there weren’t many people out to cheer us on. The race starts and finishes near Stadium/Chinatown Skytrain Station – which means a nice downhill at the beginning, and a tough hill at the end. There are several small hills which are alternately helpful and hurtful, depending on the direction you’re going!

Aid Stations
I think there were 2 aid stations, with Gatorade and water – and we passed each of them twice. I didn’t stop, but they looked well staffed with energetic volunteers – cheering and encouraging in their plastic jackets and garbage bags! Awesome!

Post-Race
Good selection of stuff from PowerBar and Oasis juice, plus raisins, bananas, mini bagels, yogurt, cookies…and more great volunteers! We also got nice recovery jackets. The bag check was in a parking garage, so at least there was a bit of shelter for changing and congregating. But I didn’t linger, what with the rain and all…

Race Management
Canada Running Series races are always good. Well-organized. Good volunteers. I have no complaints. They also had a men’s urinal station, which gets extra props in my books! Kudos to all!

The Silvah Lining
Also – linking up with Jessica at The Silvah Lining for her Race Recap Linkup #TuesdayTales!

When I ran my first half marathon in 2011, it was the BMO Vancouver Half. My finish time was 2:15:36.

Two years ago, due to family circumstances, I hadn’t planned to run. I flew back from Ontario two days before the race, so I figured I might as well give it a go. My finish time was 2 hours and 9 seconds.

This year was…something else.

BMO Vancouver Half 2015

For my ‘objective’ race report, scroll down. But if you want the full, subjective story…read on!

RUN VAN – Start Line

As a point-to-point race, the BMO Vancouver Half (and Full) Marathon, starts in Queen Elizabeth Park, a bit of a jaunt from downtown. I’m used to walking to the start line. But I got myself out of bed at 4:45am, had my coffee and oatmeal, and found a nearby car2go and got myself where I needed to be.

Unlike last year’s marathon, with torrential rain, the weather today was perfect. Best weather imaginable. Here’s a  comparison of ‘START LINE SELFIE’ 2014 vs. 2015:

The plastic bag lookStart line BMO Half 2015

A lot of my Forerunners peeps are running Eugene next week, and another bunch were running the full this morning, so I didn’t see a soul I knew. No matter. 15 minutes before gun time, I took a single EnergyGel (Double Latte), and got to my corral just as the national anthem was wrapping up.

Start Line

In keeping with the ‘Run Van’ theme of this race, each neighbourhood we toured through was appropriately signed. I think this is especially great for visitors to Vancouver, who might not otherwise know where they are. So, I’ll stick with that theme in my report!

RUN CAMBIE

Run Cambie

Exiting Queen Elizabeth Park, the first 3 kilometres are a solid downhill. I knew this, and made a concerted effort to pace myself accordingly, to avoid tiring myself out. I knew my goal pace, and I kept myself solidly on track.

People always hold up some great signs during the race, but I saw my favourite right at the start:

All toenails go to heaven

 

This made me smile as I recalled it throughout the race, and even heard a couple of girls mention it ages later.

At the foot of the hill, we headed up over Cambie Bridge. I thought to myself, “If this were the Sun Run, we’d almost be done.” Then I saw a couple of guys holding a big sign that said:

GO DAN

 

But with my terrible eyesight, I could swear it said:

GROAN

Cuz that’s kind of how I felt.

RUN CHINATOWN

Run Chinatown

Just past the Chinatown gate, there’s a surprise uphill. I’ve walked it many times, but it has a whole different degree of ‘slope’ on days like today.

Favourite sign #2:

Run like someone called you a #jogger

RUN YALETOWN

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Rounding a corner, the PowerGel station caught me off guard, and I didn’t move myself into the right lane in time to grab one. My reflexes aren’t very good.

And then there was Mr Swishy Shorts. I actually noticed him near Science World. He was wearing some nylon shorts that swished with every step. EVERY STEP. The sound reminded me of ski pants. It occurred to me that he’d better be wearing some long skivvies, or he’s going to have some pretty nasty chafing. Later on, I thought of calling him Captain Swishy Shorts, but only if he passed me. He never did.

RUN WEST END

A very familiar part of town, along the water by English Bay. And also the halfway mark. And I was on pace. Just where I wanted to be.

RUN STANLEY PARK

Run Stanley Park

Beautiful, right? Did I mention it was a perfect day? We were coming up on the 14km mark (2/3 mark!) – and that goal time was still in sight. And I still felt strong. Could this happen today?

Favourite sign #3:

Find a cute butt and follow

There’s another nasty hill heading up Pipeline Road through the park to the Seawall. Killer. One of my slowest kilometres. But I knew the end was…if not in sight, at least within reach. I didn’t let it stop me.

RUN COAL HARBOUR

As we rounded Brockton Point, I caught up with this guy:

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That’s right – the 1:45 pace bunny. Did I mention that my goal time was 1:45? That’s right. So I decided to stick with him for awhile. You can’t see it really well, but he’s doing the Running Room ‘Run 10/Walk 1’ approach. So when he slowed down for his final walk…I kept going.

RUN DOWNTOWN

After the Sun Run, I was convinced that I hadn’t ‘given my all’ at the end, that I could have had a stronger finish. With 1 kilometre left, I kicked it up a notch. With 500 metres left…I pushed as hard as I could:

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And that was all it took!

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I’m proud to report that the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon was a PB! A 3-minute PB actually. I actually beat my goal time – and managed a negative split!

Final Results:

Chip time: 1:44:24
Average pace: 4:56 min/km
Place overall: 824/7850
Age category place: 85/426

RACE REPORT

Overall
The BMO Vancouver Marathon/Half/8K is arguably Vancouver’s premier race. It’s actually the only full marathon in town. And it’s in Vancouver – the best running city!

Packet Pickup/Expo
I can’t comment on this year’s expo, since someone else picked up my bib for me. If it was anything like previous years, there were long lineups. And a lot of people at the expo. Decent swag and some free samples.

T-Shirt/Swag
I liked the t-shirt this year. Nice medium grey. Saucony brand. Definitely an improvement over the see-through yellow shirt from last year.

I think this year’s medal is the best yet. It’s bigger than previous years, and has a nifty cut-out Vancouver skyline.

Course
Since I’ve outlined the course above, I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say, it starts out with a downhill, has a few short by painful uphills, but it’s a mostly flat course. And beautiful. As expected.

There was a bit of entertainment along the way – a few bands and singers.

Aid Stations
I had prepared ahead, with a couple of PowerGels and a glucose tablet (grape). I felt well hydrated. I only used one of the water stations (just a few sips around English Bay), but there were plenty en route (8 in total, according to the map).

Post-Race
The announcements at the finish line, giving us directions, were loud and clear. I heard someone say it sounded like the end of the world – very ‘big brother-ish’. I even heard someone it sounded like the end of the world. Straight after the medals and photos, volunteers were handing out juice, bottles of water, and sports drink.

The food included a banana, SunRype Okanagan Energy Bar, Kettle Chips, and a half sandwich from Bread Garden (including veggie option – but a little dry). If anything could have been improved, I would have wanted a bit more food variety – and maybe a bag to put it in (although that does go against my inclination to avoid waste…)

I was anxious to get to brunch, so I didn’t stick around for the Street Festival. I saw where they were selling souvenir items – but as a local and a returnee, I didn’t feel the need for retail therapy.

Race Management
Excellent! Well organized, solid social media presence, good communications and updates, everything running smooth and on time. Great volunteers, top notch across the board.

BMO Vancouver Half Marathon medal

Did you race this weekend? How did it go? Have you ever run Vancouver?

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I usually don’t sleep well the night before a race, and Friday night was no exception. I tossed and turned, and woke up on Saturday feeling anything but refreshed. I downed some coffee, forced myself to eat some oatmeal (I don’t love eating in the morning), and found a car2go nearby to get me to the start line of the Eastside 10K.

This was my second Eastside 10K – I participated in last year’s inaugural race. But while 2013 was chilly and foggy, 2014 was bright and sunny – ideal weather, really. I’ve participated in two other Canada Running Series events this year: the Modo 8K in March and (my most recent race) the Scotiabank Half Marathon. And while the package pickup for the Eastside 10K was mildly chaotic, I find these races to be some of the best organized and most fun!

I decided to try something new for this race – I intentionally ran ‘naked’. No, nothing like the Underwear Affair; I simply chose to forego any technology – no iPhone to play music or tell me my pace, no Facebook cheers, no watch with a timer. To be fair, I had my iPhone in my pocket to track my overall race, but I had no earphones and resisted glancing at it during the race.

You may recall the slight trauma I experienced during the BMO Marathon when my iPhone quit at kilometre 30, and I was forced to run ‘naked’ the rest of the race. That was unintentional and unexpected. This race was deliberate and an experiment in self-discipline and self-awareness.

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The energy at the start line was great. Although Forerunners was one of the sponsors of this event, I unfortunately didn’t see anyone from my running clinic – so I was on my own. I also wore my race t-shirt – I know there are different schools of thought on wearing event shirts the day of, but something about being one of the 100s (or 1000s or tens of 1000s) dressed in {insert theme colour here} just makes me happy. This year, as you see, it was black. I washed the shirt Friday night, and it was dry and ready to race when I woke up.

At 8:30 sharp, we were off. Running without music is new for me, and it’s amazing what you notice when you don’t have familiar songs and beats to distract you. This is what I experienced:

The amazing sound of hundreds of shoes on concrete. As we ran across the Dunsmuir Viaduct the first kilometre, that really was the only thing I heard. Sure, one or two people cheering, others chatting – but that surge of energy from the feet of athletes propelling themselves forward – kind of amazing.

The guy making duck sounds. Because the Eastside 10K takes is through the poorest neighbourhood in Vancouver (the Downtown Eastside/DTES), and maybe because the race is smaller (about 1700 participants), there weren’t as many spectators or people cheering us on. So those that were out there stick in my memory. And just after kilometre one (and, on the return, just before kilometre 9), there was a guy with a duck sound thing – it made me smile. And if I’d had my music on, I would have missed it.

Phlegm guy. My experience in almost any run of a distance greater than 5 km is that you can easily get fixated on one particular thing – the weird gait of the person in front of you, a tweaky muscle, or a badly tied shoe. In my case, it was phlegm guy. Around the 3km mark, two guys ended up in pace with me, just behind and to my left. They were chatting away, but one of them kept coughing up phlegm and spitting with unusual energy and force. And he did it over, and over, and over. At one point they overtook me, and I got a look at him – just an average guy with excess mucous. But then I was anxious that I might end up in the firing line, and I pushed ahead. And for at least 2 kilometres, every 10-15 seconds, dude was hawking and spitting like a maniac. Dozens and dozens of times. I thought, Should he really be running? Is he sick? And then, after one particularly forceful iteration, a girl behind me said, “OMG, I’m gonna take that guy out!” And I knew I wasn’t alone. It was almost like water torture – or a dripping faucet – when was the next one going to come?

See how much I wrote about him? Seriously, for like a third of the race, phlegm guy was my obsession! But somewhere around the halfway mark, I blessedly lost him.

Lots of ‘Ohayo!’ and ‘Ganbatte!’ as we ran past the Japanese Language School on Alexander Street.

Not a sound, but a sight. Because this was my first post-recovery race, I hadn’t set a specific time goal – nor was I pacing myself. But as we approached the turnaround point in Gastown, I found myself behind the 50 minute Pacer – wearing bright yellow, easy to spot in the sea of black shirts. Was 50 minutes (my 2013 result) a realistic goal? I lost sight of her shortly thereafter, and stopped thinking about time.

The cheers (or maybe jeers?) of some residents of the tent city in Oppenheimer Park. One lady yelled out, ‘Nice fancy clothes!’ – not sure if she was complimenting or mocking, but I shouted out a thank you anyway!

The strangely annoying noise of my bib bouncing against the pins holding it too my shirt. Hard to explain, but when my surroundings were quiet it kinda bugged me – like change jingling in a pocket. But I got over it.

Lovely music from a singer/guitar duo at Heatley and Alexander.

Interlude:  It wasn’t until somewhere between 6km and 7km that I thought about it – my injury. The pain that kept me from running for the entire month of July. The thing that nearly made me decide to give up for #42for42 plan and skip Honolulu entirely. I thought about it – and realized there was no pain! Things are truly looking up… 

Two adorable little boys cheering for us around the 7km mark.

My own breathing. The last kilometre is an uphill onto the Viaduct, followed by a long stretch of ‘I’m never going to make it’. My breath was getting raspy, and I was making little groaning noises. Do I usually do that? Normally I can’t hear myself – a bit embarrassing! But I’m pretty sure everyone else is focused on themselves – no one is listening to me!

Then the finish line was in sight – and the number on the clock was still 49! I had a chance to better last year’s time! I heard the announcer say, “If you can see the clock, you can still get in under 50 minutes.” So I sprinted (at least in my mind) over the finish line.

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Fantastic dog tag style medal. Good quality warming jacket. Excellent spread of food. Beautiful weather. And a time just 5 seconds short of my 10k personal best (achieved earlier this year the the West Van Run). And I experienced it all without the aid of any technology, and I think I’m better for it. What more could I ask for? See you next year, Eastside 10k!

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Final results:

Chip time: 49:36
Average pace: 4:58 min/km
Place overall: 380/1461
Age category place: 35/87

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Early Days – April 2009

When I started running back in 2009, things got off to a pretty slow start. I didn’t have my Nike+ gear back then, so I can’t say for sure what the numbers were like. However, I’m pretty confident in saying that it took me at least a few months to reach my first 100km. Perhaps it took the whole year. Looking back over my Facebook posts, I can track the gradual progression of my races between April and August: the Sun Run (10k), the BMO 8k, the Scotiabank 5k, the Underwear Affair (10k) – but I suspect my training was scant at best. Those were the early days, the start from zero. It was the time when people commenting on my race updates still said things like: “I didn’t know you were a runner!”

February 2010:  I bought my Nike+ timing chip to connect to iPod (this was before my iPhone, before GPS). My runs averaged about 3.6km in length, and I would sometimes go for 2-3 weeks without running at all. Based on my historical stats, it took me nearly 4 months to hit 100km. But something about having that little timing chip really made all the difference in inspiring me to continue.

Fast-forward to 2014: My marathon-induced injury in May forced me to cut back on my running significantly. I managed to train enough to endure the Scotiabank Half on June 22, but that was followed by a full month without a single kilometre run. As a result, starting up again in July honestly felt like I was doing my first 100km all over again from scratch. What has added to the challenge this time is that I’ve been through it before, so although I know what I’m capable of (which is motivating), I’m also highly aware of the fact that I’m slower, and that it’s harder to achieve shorter distances (which is frustrating).

Today I clocked my ‘first’ 98km. It has taken just over a month to get to this point. With my target Honolulu Marathon fast approaching, I know I’ve got to step things up. However, I also don’t want to aggravate my injury or cause some other problem – so there has to be a balance. Push myself hard enough, but not too hard. And how easy is that to achieve?

I’ve been focusing my runs on Stanley Park, for a couple of reasons:
1) It gets me off the pavement, cushioning things a bit and arguably making recovery easier.
2) It gets me away from the maddening crowd. On days like today – a sunny Sunday – the Seawall is a zoo. Tourists and locals alike converge with kids, dogs, strollers, wheelchairs – and the odd wayward bike ridden by someone who either doesn’t care or doesn’t know where they’re going. Today, for example, I ran nearly 10km in the trails. Several times, I went for 1-2km without seeing another soul. A few scenes from Stanley Park:

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Within the next couple of days, I’ll have completed my first 100km. This excites me! It’s a fresh start, a new beginning, and a different perspective on being a ‘novice’ runner. Between now and December I have two scheduled races – the Eastside 10k and the inaugural Vancouver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. All part of my #42for42 master plan! Bring it on!

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Look how excited I am!