Posts Tagged ‘half marathon’

SeaWheeze

Anyone who knows yoga knows lululemon athletica. Anyone who lives in Vancouver – yogi or not – knows lululemon. And like it or not, lululemon is part of the Vancouver athletic landscape. Any runner or would-be who likes yoga – or who can’t get enough of lululemon – knows about SeaWheeze.

The SeaWheeze Half Marathon launched in 2012, making this year its fifth anniversary. Previously, all I knew about the SeaWheeze was that there were a lot of women running, and that buying exclusive lululemon/SeaWheeze gear was serious business. Not being particularly brand-driven, and owning no lululemon gear myself (except some running sleeves I got as a gift a few years back), I had never felt the urge to register for this relatively pricey half marathon.

However, when both Debra and Susan encouraged me to sign up for 2016, I decided to give it a go. Why not? And that’s where this story begins…

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San Francisco Second Half Marathon

It was kind of a dream come true when I had the opportunity to run across the Golden Gate Bridge – not just once, but twice – at last year’s San Francisco First Half Marathon. It was such a fun, well-organized race that within days of registration opening for the 2016 race, I had signed up to run the San Francisco Second Half Marathon.

By way of explanation…each year, the San Francisco Marathon also includes two half marathons: the 1st Half, which mirrors (not surprisingly) the first half of the marathon course, and starts alongside the marathon runners, like I did last year; and the 2nd Half, which starts at a slightly different location, but joins up midway through the marathon and ends at the same spot. My motivation for running the 2nd half was two-fold: 1) to visit our friends in San Francisco again, and 2) for a medal – and not just any medal…

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Disclaimer: I received a free entry to North County Wine Run 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!

 North County Wine Run

Two months from today, I’ll be running my 7th half marathon of 2016 – the North County Wine Run in Battle Ground, Washington. I’m very excited about this race for a number of reasons…but before I get into that, let me share a few of the important details of the race:

What? Both a half marathon and – new in 2016 – a 3-person relay option
When?
 Saturday, September 24, 2016 starting at 8:00am
Where? Battle Ground, Clark County – the south-west corner of Washington State, not far from the Oregon border

North County Wine Run

How much? $85.00 for the half marathon (increasing to $90.00 on August 25); $171.00 for the relay (increasing to $180.00 on August 25) – read on for a discount!

OK, now that we’ve got that covered, here they are…

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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.

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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!

ScotiaHalf ScotiaHalf

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.

ScotiaHalf

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!

WeeklyWrap

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!!

roca

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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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!

Platte River Half Marathon Platte River Half Marathon

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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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.

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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!