Posts Tagged ‘Forerunners’

Forerunners Half Marathon

With the cancellation of the First Half Half Marathon due to inclement weather (snow and ice, to be exact – read the whole story!), many folks felt they didn’t have the chance to ‘earn’ their medal. But two weeks later, the folks at Forerunners made it possible!

Forerunners Half Marathon

Thanks to Karen & Peter Butler – the fantastic owners of Forerunners Vancouver for 30 years – and Coach Carey Nelson, the Forerunners Half Marathon became a reality!

Social Run – the Forerunners Half Marathon

The run was promoted to the local running community – a free supported half marathon to ‘make-up’ for the First Half. It coincided with our usual Saturday training run, so it was a great opportunity for us to see familiar faces, as well as some new ones!

In order to get in my full training distance, I started out by running from home – a 4km training run. As such, I got in a full 25km!

Forerunners Half Marathon

We gathered, as usual, at Forerunners on Fourth Avenue. The store is not used to seeing such huge crowds, so everyone was crammed in prior to the beginning of the run. Fortunately, the owners of Double DD Pizza – next door to Forerunners – opened their space (and bathrooms!) to accommodate the masses of runners!

Forerunners Half Marathon

Karen Butler

Forerunners Half Marathon

Mayling aka I *Heart* Running!

Forerunners Half Marathon

Coach Carey provided an overview of the running course, and then we gathered across the street before heading out on our 21.1km jaunt.

Forerunners Half Marathon

The course is a familiar one, since many of our training runs take us in the same direction. We ran west along 4th Avenue, before cutting down to Jericho Beach. We ran along the water, taking in the views of the mountains in the distance, and the cloudy skies. The snow and ice which had frustrated our running in the past few weeks was no more – back to the usual Vancouver, a few puddles, and a little bit of rain.

Our first stop was at the 5km water station, set up just as the road started sloping upwards toward UBC. Some Gatorade, and some music to pump up our energy.

Forerunners Half Marathon

Upwards and onwards until we reached UBC – and then proceeded to loop around campus. But not before reaching our second water stop (and bathroom break) at the halfway point. Thanks to Christoph, fighting an injury, for stepping up to support us en route, along with Coach Carey.

Forerunners Half Marathon

Ben Kotanen / Peter Butler

We completed the loop back at the top of the hill, and started back downwards. Anyone familiar with the Scotiabank Half Marathon will know this part of the course well! Our first water stop doubled as our third water stop, and we were again greeted by smiling faces and some much needed refreshment – thanks to Peter Butler and special guest, Ben Kotanen!

Retracing our steps, we ended up back where we started…at Forerunners! Special shout-out to our group leader, Kristin, and to Laurel…who kept me motivated to finish this run!

Forerunners Half Marathon Forerunners Half Marathon

Post-race refreshments were provided at Double DD – juice boxes, brownies, bananas, and chocolate milk – all thanks to Forerunners! And with that, the Forerunners Half Marathon was complete!


First Half Half Marathon

Since I started running in 2009, I’ve completed nearly 90 races of varying distances, in all sorts of weather conditions. When the organizers of the First Half Half Marathon alerted us to the possibility that the race might be cancelled due to weather, I found it hard to believe. But then, mid-morning on Saturday (the day before the race), it became a reality. Because of conditions caused by record-breaking snowfall in Vancouver, the 26th annual First Half Half Marathon was officially no more.

We ran anyway.


Steveston Icebreaker 8K

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Steveston Icebreaker 8K as part of being a WestVanRun Ambassador. Don’t forget to register for the West Van Run (5k / 10k) on March 4 & 5, 2017. Use the code ‘bradley‘ for 15% off!

*Also, special mention to Shannon Banal for the amazing race photos in this post!

With bitter memories of my most miserable race of 2016 swirling in my head, I ventured out for my first race of 2017 – the Icebreaker 8K in Steveston, BC. And whereas last year the weather involved a cruel combination of wind and rain, and I was suffering from a lingering man-cold, this year there was a chill in the air but the skies were clear. And if this race is at all indicative of what is in store for running in 2017, I’m not going to be disappointed! (more…)


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.


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!


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


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!

Longest Day Road Race Longest Day Road Race

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.

Longest Day Road Race Longest Day Road Race

…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.


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

Lucy Chi

Lucy Chi is a social worker by profession, and one of the inspiring athletes I have the amazing opportunity to run with at Forerunners. I’ve always been curious about Lucy’s background, and how she got into running. Lucy has previously written two guest posts for my blog:  sharing her experiences from the L.A. Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. I recently sat down with Lucy at my local Starbucks before one of our Monday night speed clinics to learn more!

This post is the second in a regular series profiling local Vancouver runners and their accomplishments. Stay tuned for more! The interview has been edited for clarity, and slightly condensed for greatest impact!

Lucy Chi

Lucy running Fairhaven, WA in 2014

QUESTION: How did you get into running?

I got into running when I was 12 or 13 – and to be honest I got into running because I wanted to lose weight. Looking back, I wasn’t seriously overweight, but I was a teenage girl and I thought I was a little overweight. So I thought, “What should I do?” and I started running!

I started running in preparation for the mini-Sun Run, about 2k…and I thought I had to train for months and months for it. That was my first race, and ever since then I’ve been trying to run on a regular basis. I ran throughout high school, I did cross-country and track – I was no star athlete but that carried over. I took a break during university because of all the schoolwork, but I got into marathon running around 2010.

Q: Do you remember that first race? How did it go?

Yes, my sister came with me – Vivian – she took me to the race and waited for me at the end. I thought it went by really fast. I remember getting to the end and there was no one there, and there were so many goodies – I stocked up on water bottles – it was my first post-race experience!

Q: What happened in 2010 to change you direction, to get you into marathon running?

I think one of the things was that my friend did a marathon the year before. I was like, “Oh, I should try doing it, but it seems like a different ballgame”. I did a half in 2006, but I didn’t do much between 2006 and 2010 – I don’t think I was running any races. But in 2010 I thought I’d try doing a marathon. I’d been running for a while and I just needed a new goal. So that’s when I joined Forerunners and we had the program working toward the marathon – it was sort of perfect. And that’s how I got started.

I wanted to go somewhere where people showed up consistently, I didn’t want to look around wondering if the run was going to start or not – something about this group made it seem like people were consistently committed to it. And that really turned out to be the case.

Q: Tell me about the training for your first marathon, and your first marathon experience.

I think I just had a goal like, “Oh it would be nice to get under 4 [hours]”. So I ran with the group and I don’t think I had any expectations. I think I ran in the same [pace] group as I do now – I’m pretty consistent. It was fun, it was social – and I was just getting to know people then. People were super-duper nice at the run group. That was 7 years ago and I’m still coming back to the same place. I feel like I’m getting something out of it…

My first marathon was Vancouver and it was a good experience. My sister did it too – we both trained together, she came to the clinic with me. She actually sold me out on the first day, she was supposed to come to the first session and she didn’t show up so I was really mad about that!

We both ran the race and my dad actually came out and watched us which was really neat, because he doesn’t usually come out and do things like that. We saw him along where the Roundhouse is, which is about 2k from the finish line…and I know my sister was all emotional about it. I was OK, but she was all, “Oh, it was so good seeing Dad out there cheering us on!”

About the race itself…I don’t remember it being a terrible experience, I don’t remember suffering or anything. Whenever I say that it makes me think I should be running harder [laughs]…it was good! I knew that you’re never going to have your first time again, so I knew I’d PB so I was going to enjoy the race. I looked around and took it all in.

Q: Did you reach your goal?

I think I got 4:04 – not under four, but I was OK with that…I tend to give myself a lot of leeway. I should probably push myself a little harder!

Q: What has kept you running? What motivates you?

The group is definitely a big part of it, there’s a social aspect to it. More so now than before, especially in the last year. We’ve gone on running related trips.

It’s a health thing as well…I feel like many runners are internally a little bit obsessive in a way – I want to be healthy, keep my same weight, eat what I want…and it’s a good balance to what I do for work…when I ran my first marathon it was a good divider between work and weekend life.

When I came out to the run Thursday night speed work I’d be all stressed, but once I did the run I’d forget all about it because you really couldn’t think about anything else when you’re running, and working out really hard, and breathing really hard. So I think those are the main reasons because the work can get really challenging at times.

Lucy Chi

Lucy and me at a Monday night workout

Q: Can you tell me about your training regimen?

My regimen? I’m trying something new… prior to this year I’ve been doing three or four runs a week, I don’t really do more than that. Speed work, tempo and a long run…Carey’s schedule [ed. Coach Carey Nelson, who manages the Forerunners run clinic].

I just got tested at Peak Performance – threshold testing…what I learned from it, and what they tell a lot of runners, is that you need to do more training at your Zone 1, which is doing your easy runs. What ends up happening is a lot of people end up running at their Zone 2, and they call that ‘junk miles’. You’re running faster than you need to for a training, an easy run. Their advice to me was to do four runs a week, and do three of those runs at a very easy pace – and one tempo run once a week. And that would result in showing improvement.

Q: Is it making a difference yet?

I think it’s too early to tell. The first week it felt amazing, I felt super well-rested. The only thing I can attribute it to is running in accordance with that program….I’m hoping it will pay off by May or June. Is it worth it? I’m only going to know when I see the results, but it’s nice to change things up. I’ve been doing the same thing for 3 or 4 years, I feel like I’ve plateaued…just mixing it up has been kind of fun.

Q: What’s the most unique race you’ve ever run?

The Hood to Coast Relay! We’re doing it again this year – we did it for the first time in August 2013 and basically it’s 200 miles [ed: it’s 198 miles!], from the top of Mount Hood to Seaside, Oregon. You’re with a team of 12, and you basically alternate legs that range from 7 to 10 kilometres, continuously, until you reach Seaside. So that means running during the day, running at night…you run three legs, and you’re stuck in the van with 5 other people so it made for an interesting experience overall.

Lucy Chi

Lucy at the Hood to Coast Start Line

One of my legs last time was running at 1 o’clock in the morning, and I think we fell behind because we missed one of our exchanges….so I was essentially running alone in the middle of Oregon…it was kind of scary, but looking back now that I’ve survived it it was kind of neat, it’s that layer of nostalgia that happens when you look back on things. The person who put the team together in 2013 is putting the team together again this year, so I want to take another stab at it. I would recommend that!

Q: What’s your favourite race ever?

We did the Big Sur in 2012, and that was really fun. Since then, it’s been impossible to get into that race… It’s a marathon in California that takes place in April and you don’t do it for time. It’s a point-to-point along the Central California Coast from Big Sur to Carmel – you run along the Pacific Coast Highway. You reach Hurricane Point and there’s a piano player on the top – it’s super scenic, really hilly, rolling hills, but super amazing in terms of the scenery when you get to the halfway point…the piano player playing Chariots of Fire or whatever inspirational song he’s chosen. And that was really cool because my sister came and we had a lot of fun.

Lucy Chi

Big Sur Marathon – amazing scenery!

Lucy Chi

Lucy and her sister, Vivian – Big Sur finish line!

Q: Would you do it again?

Ya, if i can get in!

Q: Do you have a bucket list race?

It’s going to sound kind of cliché, but probably New York or Boston because, like with Boston, you want what you can’t have. It’s not easy to get into…and plus I’ve been to Boston and it’s a nice city and I’d like to go back, and I’d know that I’ve earned a spot in the race, which I haven’t yet. New York would just be kind of cool – I haven’t been there in over 10 years so I’d like to make a trip out of it with my husband. It would be nice to see the city from the perspective of a runner, through the five boroughs!

Q: Do you have tips for when you travel for a race?

I think the biggest thing is making sure you bring your food with you…I try to make sure we’re situated by a supermarket so we’re not eating out, we can find healthier food. It saves money, and ensures you’re getting good, nutritious food beforehand. I try not to walk around too much, but it’s hard because you want to sightsee. And I try not to arrive on the Saturday, but arrive on the Friday so I don’t feel like I have to rush.

A hard thing to get down is the bathroom routine…is this OK for an interview? [laughs]…you go at a certain time and when you travel it kind of throws it off. There’s been times in races where I’m like, “What do I do?” but…mind over matter! I try to make sure I go beforehand…it happened to me in Chicago and a bit in L.A. but…what do you do, right? I can’t be slowed down by a porta-potty! It’s a real distraction…

Lucy Chi

Don’t let this slow you down!

Q: Have you ever experienced injury?

I’ve been pretty lucky. In the first couple of years I had runner’s knee, and I’d have to stop during a training run. I used to pack Advil in my hydration belt, but I don’t have to anymore. But one thing is that I make sure I roll on a regular basis, use trigger point rollers – I’m pretty religious about that because when I had runners knee I’d literally have to stop. And it really seems to help….that’s my tip, definitely roll!

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve had from another runner?

Probably just making sure the runs are about quality, not about running fast all the time for all the runs, because that doesn’t necessarily translate into faster times or great race results. That’s just recent advice…it’s a hard thing to wrap your head around…but being disciplined pays off.

Q: What’s advice you’d give to a runner just getting started?

Don’t miss your workouts. Go for a run even if you don’t want to. You have to make it a habit – if you make it a habit, you don’t even have to think about it. That’s what the Saturday run has become for me. It feels weird not going on a  Saturday morning. You feel guilty not going. You have to go when you don’t want to go…you can’t think about it, you just have to go. It’s easier said than done, but it can be done! Make it a habit, even if it means being a bit obsessed…a healthy obsession!

Q: Looking back, what advice would you give to a younger Lucy?

I should have tackled doing the marathon much earlier. I was put off because I thought I’d be training 5 or 6 times a week, “Oh I can’t do it I’m so busy,” like I’m so special. Doing it now, it’s like a habit…it’s not earth-shattering difficult, you just have to make time for it. I would like to tell me to tackle the marathon earlier so I could have had a longer time to qualify for Boston! I’d like to qualify before I make it into the next [age] category…but if I don’t get it this year, I’ll aim for it when I’m older.

Q: What’s your marathon PB?

3:38 – in Skagit. And the qualifying time [for Boston, for Lucy’s age category] is 3:35.

Q: What races are you looking forward to in 2016?

A few of us from the clinic are going to Berlin, that’s in September. Maybe I’ll try to qualify then!

Thank you for asking me to do the interview – I feel very honoured – and hopefully some of the information I shared will be helpful to somebody out there!

Lucy Chi

Lucy and me – West Van Run 2016!

You can follow Lucy on Twitter: @candyaficionado