Posts Tagged ‘race’

Run Laughlin

Way back in January 2015, I got a private message via my blog from a race director in the US wanting to tell me about an inaugural race he was putting together. Little did I know that the Laughlin/Bullhead Half Marathon would motivate me to tackle the #yearofthehalf – and Run Laughlin became my ‘flagship’ race of 2015!

It didn’t take me too long to decide to Run Laughlin. Mark Villalovos, the race director, was a true inspiration, putting his heart into creating a race from scratch. His enthusiasm was infectious. As the day of the race drew nearer, I got more excited about Laughlin because it ended up being a trifecta of coolness for me:

  • It fell on my birthday!
  • It was my 12th half marathon of 2015
  • It was my 21st half marathon ever (and – just as a reminder, especially if you think in miles – a half marathon is 21.1 kilometres!)

TravelRun

We flew into Las Vegas on Friday, December 4, rented a car, and headed off to Laughlin, Nevada. If you’ve never heard of Laughlin, like I hadn’t – it’s a little spot on the west side of the Colorado River, right at the very southern tip of Nevada. It’s grown into a successful casino town (third most visited, after Vegas and Reno). And it’s pronounced ‘loff-lin‘ (rhymes with ‘cough’).

Run Laughlin

We checked in at the race’s partner hotel, Colorado Belle. A lovely and thoughtful touch was that every runner received a welcome gift, put together by Mark’s wife, Denise.

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Then we went to the little expo to pick up my race package. Although it was small, there was such a friendly, vibrant energy at the event. I was offered my bib and I actually requested a different number…so I got #143 since, as I told the volunteer, I would be turning 43 the next day!

Run Laughlin

I was absolutely delighted to finally meet Mark in person, and thank him for organizing the event.

Run Laughlin

Wandered to a couple of the casinos, and had a great carbo-loading pasta dinner across the street at Tropicana. Bedded down fairly early to prepare for the next morning’s event!

Run Laughlin

The desert gets cold at night, and it was very brisk as we headed to the parking lot of Laughlin Outlet Center. I struggled with what to wear, and decided to stick with just my BibRave t-shirt, along with my BMO Vancouver Marathon gloves! During the pre-race announcements, was able to shout out that I was one of the (few?) folks down from Canada, though someone from Rhode Island had certainly travelled further to get there.

Run Laughlin

Saw a flash of orange and grabbed a selfie with fellow BibRave Pro, Laurel (@RheaCycleHer)!

BibRave

To give you the full race experience, I’m going to try a different approach to describing the race when it started just a few minutes after 7am!

Run Laughlin

Now, run Laughlin with me…

The Hill

You head out along the main ‘strip’ of Laughlin, past several of the casinos. But soon, after about a kilometre, the route turns to the left, and your gradual ascent begins. Remember yesterday, when you arrived in Laughlin? Remember the view from the highway, overlooking the town and the river, and the mountains beyond? That should have been your first clue.

Run Laughlin

For three kilometres, it’s an uphill trudge. Not only that, but there’s a dry desert wind blowing. If only the wind was coming from behind, pushing you forward – but it’s buffeting you from the side, causing bibs to flap vigourously. It’s tough. It’s endless. You’re breathing through your mouth, and your tongue is dry as a bone.

Run Laughlin

Thankfully, you finally reach the peak, and make a sharp turn on the road down towards Davis Dam. There is a water station, which you eagerly take advantage of. Though the elevation is decreasing, you’re now facing a headwind, blustery and persistent. But you’re not a quitter, you forge ahead.

Run Laughlin

The Desert

At the 7km mark, you can see the Davis Dam looming to your right, but the route takes you to the left onto a dirt track. You hadn’t been sure what to expect – maybe in your mind it was a wide open space with scrub brush and cactus lining a long straight road.

It’s not like that at all. The dirt is loose and rocky, and you are surrounded by hills and outcroppings of ancient desert stones. There’s no breeze now in this sheltered canyon. The sun is beating down and you’re glad you decided to forego the long sleeves and run in a t-shirt.

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At one point, you are pursued by a desert bandit after you snap his picture! “You’re not gonna get no reward for me!” he drawls, but you outpace him.

Run Laughlin

At the turnaround, you realize that you’ve actually been going uphill again this whole time. Now you’re heading back, cheering on the other hearty souls who are fighting their way on unstable footing. You even get a cheery ‘Happy Birthday!’ from a fellow BibRave Pro (Laurel!) who knows it’s your special day!

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And you can’t help but admire this woman from Vegas…

Run Laughlin

The Dam

Hey look! Another hill! But this one is short and steep, up to the top of the Davis Dam, holding back the Colorado River and forming Lake Mohave.

Run Laughlin

You’re slightly beyond halfway in the race when you cross the border into Arizona! Not only are you in a different state, you’re also in a new time zone!

Another hill – a kilometre up and another down – with the absolute best water/cheering station waiting for you! You’ve been taking a few photos along the way, but with the view over Lake Mohave you can’t help but snap a selfie before crossing the dam back into Nevada.

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The River to the Finish

Now you’re cruising! You pick up speed on the downhill, and get a fantastic view of the dam you’ve just crossed – twice!

Run Laughlin

There are fewer people around now. You’re running the scenic Colorado River Heritage Greenway Trail – overlooking the mighty river, with Bullhead City, Arizona on the far side. It’s pretty warm now, you’re glad that you thought to wear sunscreen. But you’re not really sweating – it’s weird running with so little humidity. You finally spot a casino in the distance!

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Unexpectedly, the path twists to the right and, oh no! you’re headed uphill again! Just a wee bit, though, enough to reach the beautiful pedestrian bridge that takes you across the highway. Then, you’re back on Casino Drive. Welcome to Laughlin, NV! One more kilometre to go!

The crowd cheers as you sprint to the finish, receive your medal, and celebrate the completion of the inaugural Laughlin/Bullhead Half Marathon! Congratulations!

Run Laughlin

Exhausted!

Afterward

In the parking lot of the Colorado Belle Hotel, everyone gathered for a celebratory awards ceremony. We got food – fruit and a bagel – and there was even a free beer included with race entry! A DJ followed by a live band. Festive and fun.

We stayed around for about an hour, but then decided it was time for my birthday brunch. Throughout the day, I ran into folks wearing their medals and/or I Run Laughlin t-shirts – lots of congratulations going around.

The remainder of the Saturday was spent on some local sightseeing and a bit of casino time. Even the slot machine knew what day it was!

Happy Birthday

Sunday took us into Arizona and some amazing desert driving.

Route 66

Plus one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever witnessed.

Arizona Sunset

Home again on Monday after one of my favourite TravelRuns to date! Thanks to Mark and the entire Run Laughlin team for making the weekend such a success!

Final Results

Chip Time: 1:54:21
Average Pace: 8:44 min/mile (5:25 min/km)
Place Overall: 50/295
Age Category Place: 7/19

Run Laughlin

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RACE REPORT

Overall
From the moment Mark reached out to me about participating in the inaugural Laughlin/Bullhead Half Marathon, I was hooked. In the months leading up to the race, communication (in the form of emails) was excellent, giving lots of info about what to expect both on course and in town. Social media activity – primarily Twitter and Facebook – was consistent and engaging.

In terms of the race itself, the event was well organized, the course was absolutely stunning, the volunteers were enthusiastic and engaged. One of the best runs I’ve done!

Packet Pickup
Held just off the lobby of the Colorado Belle Hotel & Casino, packet pickup was a low-key affair held on Friday evening. Although we didn’t arrive too late, it was reassuring that we could pick up our bibs until 10pm. Given how far we were coming from, I appreciated this fact. The process was smooth and quick, and it was fun to chat with some of the local folks and volunteers on site.

T-Shirt/Swag
Orange t-shirt! Orange gear bag! Orange medal! Welcome gift upon check in! Very happy!

Course
Extremely scenic views of the desert, running across a dam into another state and time zone, the Colorado river. Such a unique environment for me to race in. Also one of the toughest races I’ve experienced in terms of the hills we encountered, the dry desert air and the challenging winds. This certainly impacted my overall performance, resulting in one of my slowest half marathons in nearly 3 years. Nevertheless, it was a great experience.

Post-Race
The post-race party was fun, with free beer (one per runner!) and live music. I generally don’t stick around for awards ceremonies, since I never place. I stayed around long enough for the 5k awards, but was so eager to get on with my day (and brunch) that I missed awards for the half. My only ‘complaint’ is that the awards didn’t move along a bit quicker, but I understand wanting to ensure that most people have finished before doing awards.

Would I Run It Again?
On the merits of the race itself, yes! Although Mark told me post-race that there were a few ‘kinks’ to work out, I thought everything went really well. The factors that would prevent me from attending are primarily my own issues: the time it takes to get to Laughlin, and the abysmal value of the Canadian dollar. But from the perspective of a runner recommending a race – I recommend that you Run Laughlin!

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I don’t much like driving at night. I need to wear glasses, and if it’s raining then I get really anxious. I’m not a big fan of running at night, either. But with the Night Race Vancouver under my belt – I may have to rethink that!

The Night Race was on my calendar a few months ago. I pondered signing up, missed the earlybird deadline and, after committing to several other races in Septmeber (including 5 Peaks, Spirit Run, and Eastside 10k), basically talked myself out of it.

Then, I ended up doing the Terry Fox Run, joining forces with a bunch of my partner’s coworkers. They were tremendously enthusiastic and encouraged us to join the upcoming Night Race. By the end of the day – with the midnight registration deadline fast approaching – both my better half and I were signed up!

About the Night Race

The Night Race is actually a series, taking place in 6 cities across Canada. The Vancouver event took place on Friday night, and involved a 1km kids race, as well as a 5k and a 10k. We ran the latter, a loop of Stanley Park that basically mirrored the Terry Fox Run from the previous week – except it wasn’t pouring rain, and we started and finished at the Stanley Park Pavilion.

Package pickup was held at the Running Room on Denman on Wednesday and Thursday nights. We went down on the first night, and got the race T-shirt (a nice, midnight blue Brooks technical shirt), an Energizer 4 LED headlight (batteries included!), and a bag of magazines and promo materials – most of which I recycled almost immediately. I’ll admit that the headlamp was one of the big motivators for doing this race – that and the novelty of the whole thing!

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I have to admit I was underwhelmed by the social media presence and communications for this race. By the day of, we had received no updates or reminders beyond the initial registration email. Referring to the website, I found it a bit challenging to navigate, and information on race day was sparse. It indicated a 7:10pm start (made sense – sunset being at 7:03pm) – but was that for the 5k or the 10k? Or both? It was impossible to tell. Found it! But it was at the bottom of the ‘Race Kit Pick Up’ page? Not intuitive.

And, as of writing, the most recent photographs from previous races are from 2013. And their last tweet was on September 22 – three days prior to the race itself.

Race Day Night!

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We arrived to crowds and announcements at about 6:45 – and they were telling us to hurry up because things were about to start! Really? Already? Quickly checked my bag (very efficient) and made a potty stop – and it turned out it was the kids race that started at 7:10. This gave me a bit of time to get some fluorescent face paint, and we finally started at 7:25pm.

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The first kilometre or so was a bit of a bottleneck, everyone jockeying for position and getting used to the bobbing headlamps. I decided to pace my partner in crime, taking things a bit slower and really enjoying the atmosphere of the run.

As darkness fell, there were some beautiful views of the city, and a bright full moon above us. I tried taking some pictures, but I yet again proved my lack of skill with low-light photography.

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The coolest part of the race, by far, was looking back along the seawall and seeing dozens of dancing lights. It must have been amazing to see from above! Also, running under the illuminated Lions Gate Bridge was pretty neat.

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One of the weirdest moments: somewhere between Third Beach and Second Beach, a woman. Wearing black, in the dark, carrying no lights and nothing reflective…walking backwards.

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At last, we skirted Lost Lagoon and reached the final (uphill!) push to the finish line, with lights and cheers and neon! We regrouped with our peeps and lined up for refreshments!

What we got was:  Pure Protein bars, King Island coconut water, French fries, veggie (or chicken) wraps, and a bottle of Molson Canadian. We gathered inside – where black light brought some awesome colour to my face paint and bright orange Buff – and enjoyed our food.

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It turned out there were some issues with timing chips. They had these odd overhead timers, rather than mats, and apparently some folks’ times started before the gun even went off. However, by Sunday everything seemed to have been sorted out.

In the end, we went home satisfied, sore and a bit chilly – but ultimately we had a great time!

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Final Results

Chip Time: 1:06:41
Average Pace: 6:40 min/km
Place Overall: 240/399
Age Category Place: 19/26

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RACE REPORT

Overall
I hadn’t heard of this race before, but I understand this race has been going on for a few years. It kind of felt like an inaugural race. Don’t get me wrong – it was good fun – but things just didn’t seem all that well organized. I get that it was a ‘fun run’ but it was also chip timed…I guess I just felt like things could have been a bit more professional.

Packet Pickup/Expo
Table set up at Running Room – quick and efficient. They also had a table with some cookies, which made me happy.

T-Shirt/Swag
The t-shirt was pretty cool – midnight blue with stars and logo. But the best thing was definitely the Energizer LED headlamp – something I’ll most certainly use again!

Course
A counter-clockwise loop of Stanley Park, starting and finishing at the Stanley Park Pavilion. Everyone I talked to agreed that it was slightly longer than 10km – more like 10.4km. But who’s counting?

Aid Stations
I believe there were 2 aid stations with water. Not sure if they had anything else – I couldn’t see! But encouraging and enthusiastic volunteers were there for sure!

Post-Race
A lot of fun! Pure Protein bars, King Island coconut water, French fries, veggie (or chicken) wraps, and a bottle of Molson Canadian. The wrap was OK – kind of lacking in taste. There was a DJ, with decent music playing. We didn’t stay late, but I imagine the party went on for a bit.

Race Management
This is the first race I’ve attended lately where I was disappointed by race management. As detailed in my blog post, the social media presence was quite poor, the website sub-par, and overall there seemed to be a lack of detail and organization. A bit of chaos at the start line. Issues with timing. Room for improvement.

Would I Run It Again?
Hmmm…maybe. Ultimately, it would depend on who else was running. This is definitely a ‘gimmick’ run (in a positive way), so it’s more about the experience than anything else. If I was participating with friends so we hang out afterward, and if I got in for a reduced price, then I’d probably run again. Otherwise, I think once is enough.

 

I’ve linked up with Jessica at The Silvah Lining for her weekly Race Recap link up!

The Silvah Lining

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VanRace 15K & 30K

I’m very excited to announce that Ethan YJ has won a free entry to the inaugural VanRace on September 6! Congratulations!

I met Ethan after the Summerfast 10k back in July – he’s a keen, dedicated runner and I look forward to seeing him kick butt at this awesome race! Ethan has chosen to run the 30k. You can read Ethan’s blog (RainCityRunner) and follow him on Twitter @AvgRunner and cheer him on!

There’s still time to sign up for VanRace 15k & 30k – click to get in on the festivities!

West Van Run

The reason I had this entry to giveaway is because I’m one of the 2016 ambassadors for the phenomenal West Van Run! This race will be held on March 5 and 6, 2016. Why two days? Because this year the 5k will be held on Saturday, with the 10k on Sunday. I’m going to run both – why don’t you join me?

Earlybird pricing is in effect until October 31, 2015 – you can run both races for just $47.95!

Want to get in in the action before March? Join the West Van Run Crew every Saturday at 9:30am for a free, fun run around West Vancouver. The group meets at Cafe Crema (Bellevue Ave & 15th Street).

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Finally, here are some important links for you to follow:

VanRace

twitter facebook (1) instagram

West Van Run

twitter facebook (1) instagram

See you at the start line!

NOTE: I’ve linked up with Erica at Erica Finds for her weekly Giveaway Roundup!

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As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, the West Van Run is one of my favourite local races. In fact, I’m now an official member of the West Van Run Team – promoting the 2016 race! Stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway!

However, that’s not the focus of today’s post. In fact, I’m here to promote a different race. West Van Run has team up with a brand new race in Vancouver – VanRace! And you have the chance to enter and win a free entry!

VanRace 30k/15k Seawall Race: Conquer the Wall!

2015 is the inaugural event – and Vancouver’s newest race! Come out and run with me and other members of West Van Run Team!

Here’s what you need to know:

Date: Sunday, September 6
Time: 7:30am
Start Line: Charleson Park Seawall Walk (south side of False Creek, east of Granville Island)
Distance: 15km or 30km – you can choose!
Website: www.vanrace.ca

What’s the route like? Well, it’s all about the Vancouver Seawall! Here’s a route description:

Both routes start and end at Charleson Park. The 15km route heads around Science World, and continues along the Seawall until turning back at English Bay. The 30km route follows the same route as the 15km, but continues on around Stanley Park, turning around in Coal Harbour, and cutting back past Lost Lagoon before returning to Charleson Park.

I’ve run the Seawall a few times in my day. Here are a few photos of what you can expect during the race:

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Now that you have all of that information, the burning question is:

How do I enter?

Easy! Just click to tweet below and/or comment on this blog post!

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*Contest closes at 11:59pm Pacific time on Thursday, August 20.

What is your favourite part of the Vancouver Seawall?

Summerfast 10K

Summerfast? Not so fast!

I made two rookie mistakes this weekend.

1. Overtraining?

I went to the gym twice this week and I feel like I pushed myself a bit too hard. Not so hard that I was incapacitated, but hard enough to still be feeling the effects of bar squats on the day of the race.

Also, I did hill training on Thursday night. I know I need to do more speed and hill work, but was it the right thing to do two days before a race?

2. I did something different on race day.

I ran out of oatmeal on Wednesday. I had fully planned to get to the supermarket and buy more, but it just didn’t happen. All of a sudden, it was race day and I didn’t have my usual pre-race food.

I went ahead and made a smoothie, which admittedly is something I do almost every day. The big difference is that I don’t race every day! Almost immediately, I needed to spend some time in the bathroom. And I wished I had had oatmeal.

Never mind!

I headed down to Stanley Park for Summerfast 10K!

Almost immediately, I could feel a vibe that was different from most of the races I’ve done lately. This one was serious. The folks warming up were very focused. There was a distinct buzz in the air.

Ran into Jean, and then chatted with some Forerunners folks. Bev and Deb were there, Bev aiming for her place in the Lower Mainland Road Race Series. Debra (@debrakato) was on hand with her trusty camera, and snapped a nice photo of Darrel, Theresa and me.

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Do we look confident?

I also showed off my Tiux Compression Socks – for their first race wearing! (You can still enter to win a pair of these bad boys here!)

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Gathering at the Start Line, I met another Twitter buddy, Steve (@abundantsink), for the first time in real life.

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Matching smiles!

Got a few more snaps:

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Then, someone behind me said, “It must almost be time” just as – without any warning or fanfare – the gun went off.

The Route

I won’t go into a lot of detail, except to mention that the first kilometre was a bit of zigzagging in Coal Harbour to get us to the right distance. The rest of the run is a simple counter-clockwise loop of the Stanley Park Seawall ending where we started, at Second Beach.

Most of the race was in full sun, though much of it was blessedly at our backs. It was hot – but not as hot as the Scotiabank Half a few weeks ago!

I’ve mentioned in previous posts, but at certain points on the Seawall you can see a couple of kilometres ahead. Near the halfway mark, I saw Bev (in her distinctive orange shirt) in the distance. I aimed to catch up with her, but never did.

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Snapped this on the run!

The Finish

Somehow I managed a negative split, with my second half a respectable 5 seconds faster than my first half. I sprinted for the finish but I’m pretty sure the guy beside me crossed the line just a hair before I did. My cap matches the pylons. I planned that.

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Lots of familiar faces at the end. We were all sweaty and happy. I grabbed some water and then some Muscle MLK (vanilla is my favourite)!

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Summerfast is hosted by Vancouver Falcons Athletic Club (VFAC) – they are super fast. The ruled the podium at the Ambleside Mile. One of the best things about this race is that the VFAC members bring home baking! I enjoyed an amazing chocolate brownie and some coconut cake. I tried to take a clear photo, but the crowds were too thick.

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Hanging about, I also got a “Hey, are you Bradley?” from Ethan (@AvgRunner), one of my Twitter followers. I really love it when this happens!

And then, the true highlight of the day, a legit celebrity sighting. Anyone recognize him?

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Yep, that’s Stephen Amell, aka The Arrow (or Oliver Queen). Having chickened out of speaking to famous people in the past, I simply approached him and asked for a photo. He graciously agreed. I asked him how the race went. He told me he had wrapped filming late the night before, but had agreed to do this 10k! A super hero!

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Photo courtesy of DC Entertainment/CW

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Bonus photo of Arrow finishing the race!

The Results

When I finally checked my results, I was sorely disappointed. Generally, I’m a mid-pack runner, and recently I’ve been ranking somewhere in the top third. But despite a decent time, I actually came in second last in my age group!

But I’ll admit there may be a reason for this. Summerfast also happens to be the BC 10K Championship race, managed by BC Athletics. So all the speedsters are out to prove themselves. And the fact that at least one of my friends, who usually places in their age group, came a bit lower in the rankings…well, that was reassuring.

I was tired and hot and hungry, so I didn’t stay around for the awards ceremony. Apparently I should have, because they had lots of door prizes to be won! I’ll keep this in mind for next time!

Final Results
Chip time: 48:22
Average pace: 4:51 min/km
Overall: 164/378
Age ranking: 14/15

Happy to link up again with Tara at Running ‘n’ Reading – Weekend Update style!

weekend-update

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RACE REPORT

Overall
This is a small, straightforward race. No frills. It’s a flat, scenic course – built for speed (except, perhaps, in my case). Summerfast is not a destination race per se, but being a local event I was glad to be there. I would run it again. If you’re in town, it’s inexpensive and it’s beautiful. And there are baked goods!

Packet Pickup/Expo
I walked down to the Denman Street Running Room after work on Friday to pick up my bib. They had a table set up in the store, and that was it. Very straightforward. Race day pickup was also available.

T-Shirt/Swag
This race is not about the swag or the bling. It’s about the run. Enough said.

Course
Seawall around Stanley Park. Flat. Hot. Shared with cyclists, pedestrians, and other runners. This did not cause me any issues.

Aid Stations
One water station at 5km. A second at 8km by Third Beach. I didn’t bother to slow down for either.

Post-Race
A few sponsors were present, including CLIF Bars and Muscle MLK. The best thing, however, was all of the baked goods by the VFAC hosts – yummy!

Race Management
Things seemed to run very smoothly. It’s a simple, no nonsense race. Very professional. An announcement warning us that the gun would go off momentarily would have been a bonus, but since I wasn’t competing by gun time – and therefore not at the front of the pack – it didn’t really matter. Chip time works for me!

Fort Langley Half Marathon

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a morning person. So when my alarm went off at 4:50am today, you can imagine the struggle. Actually, the real struggle was setting the alarm the night before – it truly pained me more than any race. And then the cat threw up at 1:58am, which pulled me out of my restful sleep. That’s how Sunday started.

I hadn’t planned to run the Fort Langley Half Marathon. It was in my calendar as a maybe, I considered it and then dismissed it as too far out of the way, something to save for another time. And then a couple of weeks ago Bob mentioned that he was still trying to figure out how he was going to get there. I said, “Well, if I sign up, I could get a car and we could go together.” And just like that, Fort Langley was a go.

Race Day

I had my usual oatmeal, and blended up a simple smoothie to bring along. My stomach was feeling a wee bit off, but I tried not to let it distract me. I picked up the car, drove over to Bob’s place, and we headed off to Fort Langley. The drive took almost exactly one hour, and we arrived in plenty of time to pick up our bibs and t-shirts – the line was short.

Fort Langley

We lined up for the porta-potty. There were three, and the third was was a bit unstable (Bob gamely took advantage of the fact that it was empty, and I was glad he didn’t tip right over!). About 15 minutes before the race, I took a PowerGel – Kona Punch, which I had been saving since the Honolulu Marathon.

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Fellow Forerunners Mabel and Alex were there. Alex wasn’t running, but this was Mabel’s 20th (?) race so far this year, and her 70th half marathon overall! She’s an incredible runner, with energy to spare!

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The Start Line was not crowded – Bob and I got up pretty close to the front of the pack. At 7:30, the gun went off.

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0-7 Kilometres
The race starts out with a one kilometre loop through residential Fort Langley, so we revisited the start within a few minutes. Then we headed out onto a fairly busy road, running along the shoulder which was paved and easy. Course marshals were waiting at each turn to make sure we were going the right direction. Around 4km, there was a small hill – one a race director might describe as ‘undulating’ or ‘rolling’ – but otherwise the course was fairly flat to this point.

Scenery was typically ‘countryside’ – fields, houses, fields. The sky was blessedly overcast and, although there was definitely some humidity in the air, the temperature was fairly cool. I felt pretty strong.

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8-14 Kilometres
The course description says:

The route will go East on River Road for 700 metres before turning onto Armstrong. The hill on Armstrong will be the most challenging part of the route.

To be clear, ‘the hill’ is a series of three hills, with short reprieves. The photos simply cannot capture the steepness of these hills. (Note the guy in the white t-shirt…he comes into play later.)

Hills

My Garmin tells me that the grades were somewhere between 4% and 6.5%. I don’t know exactly what this means, but it felt steep. Whatever sweat I had been saving up along the way showed up during this arduous trek. My pace slowed significantly. Finally we reached a flat stretch at the top.

After turning onto Telegraph Trail, there were twists and turns and a couple of steep downhills. There were cows.

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I worried a bit about traffic coming around the bend in the road, but this never ended up being an issue. The busiest stretch was the bit past the Thunderbird Show Track, and then we turned a corner onto another quiet stretch.

14-21.1 Kilometres
With the exception of the first couple of kilometres, I had been essentially alone for most of the race. I could see about half a dozen people ahead of me, including Bob – but once we crested the hill(s), he was out of sight. A couple of folks passed me early on, but I overtook them eventually.

One guy with a fairly heavy tread caught up with me twice, but I ended up scooting past him when he paused at a water stop. I also caught up with Bob at the 15km aid station – he groaned when he saw me and I waved as I went by! I had started to gain on him, and this was my chance to take the lead.

***I will pause here to encourage you to check out Bob’s guest blog post – the NYC Marathon!***

We were now in familiar territory, having completed a loop and returning the way we came. I felt confident and strong, knowing there were no more hills (just that one undulation), and I kicked it up a notch. I passed the guy in the white shirt (from the hills) and received a ‘Good job!’ as I went by.

During the last kilometre, I could see literally no one ahead of me. The Finish Line came into view, I pushed to the end, and the race was over!

Medal Medal

I was so pleased to receive a medal! For these smaller (and cheaper) races, you sometimes don’t even get a t-shirt. In this case, the medals were ceramic, homemade, and each one unique. The t-shirts, too, were really cute – vintage style, a really nice blue-green colour. They are cotton, not technical – but a great casual shirt that I’ll wear again.

Bob arrived soon after, and Alex and I cheered as both he and Mabel completed the race.

Bob Mabel

Took advantage of the food provided – fresh watermelon, bagels with peanut butter – and then headed to a local coffee shop for a caffeine boost with Mabel and Alex. The drive home was quick and uneventful, and I made pretty good time. I dropped Bob off. I took a nap.

The Fort Langley Half Marathon is by far the smallest race I have run, with just 100 runners in the half (there was also a 5k, with about 80 participants). But it was also one of the friendliest, and certainly well-organized. A tough course, and a great experience.

Bob & me

Final Results:
Chip Time: 1:51:36
Average pace: 5:17 min/km
Overall: 27/101
Age ranking: 6/12

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Also – happy to yet again link up with Tara from Running ‘n’ Reading for her Weekend Update!

weekend-update

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RACE REPORT

Overall
This is a small, local race. Nothing fancy, nothing posh. Just friendly people, a challenging course, and a great atmosphere. I’m glad to made the decision to make the trek to Fort Langley. Totally worth it.

Packet Pickup/Expo
We had the option of picking up packets on Friday or Saturday, but I would have had to drive to Langley, White Rock or Abbotsford – none of which is close to home. But there was race day pickup, and we waited about 5 minutes to get our bibs and t-shirts from a table under a tent. No expo here!

T-Shirt/Swag
The t-shirt is a cotton Gildan shirt – good quality, great colour, fun vintage look. On the back it says ’12’ – which I’ve been led to understand is because this is the 12th year of the race. I honestly didn’t expect to get a medal, but I was delighted to have this lovely ceramic piece put over my neck as I crossed the finish line. I will cherish this one!

Course
Mostly flat, with about 2 kilometres of significant uphill around 8km. There are a couple of fairly steep declines as well. All of the course is on the road, and only about 3 kilometres had any traffic to speak of. Scenery was typical countryside – lots of fields, cows, trees, fields. The course starts and finishes just outside of Fort Langley, which is a National Historic Site.

Aid Stations
There were 5 water stations on the course (plus one that we visited twice), with friendly and encouraging volunteers.

Post-Race
Low-key, but with water, energy drink, fresh watermelon, and bagels (with peanut butter, jam and butter). Only criticism – one of the porta-potties was quite unstable, which should have been taken care of before the race. Thankfully, someone warned us before we tried to get in!

Race Management
This event is put on by Peninsula Runners. Their website provided all the necessary information, including course description and map. I had one question, and received an email reply right away. Mabel signed up by phone the day before the race. Everything went off without a hitch, and results were posted online by the time I got home (and took a nap). If you’re in the area, it’s a worthwhile race to attend!

 

Longest Day Road Race

The last time I participated in the Longest Day Road Race was 2010. It was one of my earliest races, and I ran the 5k in just under 29 minutes. At the urging of my Forerunners group leader, Lucy (who has been my guest blogger twice – see Chicago and LA), I signed up for this year’s 10k.

The Week That Was

Before I get to the race, I’ll do a quick recap of the week. And also jump in to mention that I’m teaming up with Tara at Running ‘n’ Reading for her Weekend Update linkup.

Monday
With uncharacteristic aplomb, I got myself out of bed before 6am and went out for a run. Not far – just 5k – but I figured it made sense to start the week off right. I was still sore from the gym workout that Jill and I had done the previous Friday, and Jill was delighted to know that I wasn’t the only one who had suffered the curse of the squat.

Tuesday
I had fully planned to go for a run, and even brought my gear to the office. Then I remembered a promise I had made to meet a friend for lunch – a friend I hadn’t seen in nearly 2 years (despite the fact that she lives in North Vancouver). Friendship trumps fitness, and we had a wonderful time catching up!

Wednesday
Jill is going on holiday, so this was our last chance for the next few weeks to get to the gym together. It was a somewhat abbreviated workout, but it invokes kettle bells, some decent upper body work, and the dreaded squat.

Thursday
A double day. Lana and I were joined by Andrea, and we completed nearly 7k around Lost Lagoon and Second Beach pool. And, as I had promised, I got back to my personal training with Lisa at the YMCA. During our lunch run, I told Lana I wanted to work on upper body – in particular, I said, I’d love to have those biceps that fill out the sleeves of a T-shirt. Her no-nonsense response?

Buy a smaller T-shirt.

Nevertheless, Lisa fulfilled my request, and focused on upper body and overall strength. We did back squats, dead lifts, rows, chest press, flies, shoulder raises…enough to keep my muscles burning for the foreseeable future. Commitment renewed!

Friday – Race Day!
The Longest Day Road Race is true to its name – it’s held the Friday before the summer solstice, and is held in the evening to prove that our days are long and beautiful. I was suffering from the various workouts of the week, plus full days at the office. But I had signed up, and this was not going to be my first DNS!

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Longest Day Road Race

The race is held on the campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC), at the far west side of Vancouver. I rushed home from work, threw together a smoothie, and booked a car (see Modo) to drive the 20-some minutes to UBC. Because there was a football game happening concurrently, we were encouraged to park some distance away, and the walk to the start line took about 20 minutes as well.

A few shots of campus:

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What I’ll call the ‘festival’ area included all the food tents, package pickup, a kids play area (with a giant blow-up slide) – all close to the start/finish lines. Ran into Elinor (@goodbyeclutter) and Jean, and then went to grab my bib. There was a giant lineup…but I realized it was for the 5k.

Festival Area

Festival Area

The 5k is popular for a couple of reasons. It’s part of the BC Road Running Series, 14 races held throughout BC. You score points for each race and, if you run 5 or more of them, you have the potential to win a prize.  Also, this race is the BC Athletics 2015 5K Road Race Championship – with accolades and prizes for the age group winners. In short, it’s a big deal.

I had signed up for the 10k, and since I was early the package pickup was quick and painless. I grabbed some free popcorn (which I would later regret), watched the start of the Kid’s Mile at 6:30pm, mingled with some running friends, and lined up to cheer on the speed demons as they headed out at 7pm for the 5k.

5k Start

5k Start

With the 10k beginning at 7:15pm, I gathered in the corral with a few of the Forerunners gang. I was feeling a bit anxious about how I would perform, so it was great to have the camaraderie and encouragement of my team.

start 10k start

The Race Route

The 10k is a double loop. I’m not a big fan of double loops, since you can anticipate the pain that’s coming the second time around. It starts with a downhill, past Thunderbird Stadium (where a football game was taking place = lots of traffic!), around the south edge of the university, and back into the heart of campus – West Mall and then Main Mall. The route is great because you’re running past forested areas, and then looking at the varied architecture of UBC – some of the oldest buildings on campus, and some of the newest. At the very north end of the route there’s a distant view of the ocean.

Lap #1

And we're off!

I started out too fast. My first kilometre was 4:20, which is not a sustainable pace. I could see Lucy’s swinging ponytail and brilliant yellow shoes for the first few kms, and then she was gone. Karen, one of the owners of Forerunners, was cheering us on at about 2.5k, which was awesome. Just before the 3k mark, there is a short, steep uphill – unexpected, and tough. There are also a couple of little out-and-back sections to add on distance, before reaching the 5k mark and starting all over again. I was cheered into the second half by Coach Carey and a few others.

5k

Halfway there!

Lap #2

By now, the crowds had thinned. On the fast lap, we were still catching up with some of the 5k stragglers. This time, it was pretty quiet. Around 6k, a guy came up behind me and, pointing at his GPS watch, said: “This thing lies like my first wife. Just told me a did a 10-minute kilometre!” – which was clearly not the case, as he barrelled past me. The popcorn I had eaten before the race was fighting back a bit, so I didn’t feel great. Karen was still there on the second loop, though, and her encouragement really pushed me forward to that horrible uphill.

My legs felt like rubber. I think all the squats of the last few days were finally taking their toll.

I was just getting ready to push to the end when one of the course marshals directed me down the final out-and-back…I had forgotten about it! Nevertheless, I kicked it up a notch and made it to the finish line. But not in record time.

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The Party

The real draw of the Longest Day Road Race is the food! Included in your registration is a full-on buffet of burgers (including veggie burgers) or hot dogs, raw veggies, salad, fruit, chips, ice cream, cookies, drinks, and even a fudge brownie! I took advantage of everything, cramming it onto the single paper plate, and stuffed myself silly. The burger was cold and I was a sweaty, sticky mess – but it didn’t matter! There was a $5 per drink beer garden, but I didn’t partake. I was exhausted. We walked back to the car, and headed home. What a fun night!

Food

This picture doesn’t do it justice…SO MUCH food!

Final Results
Chip time: 48:42
Average pace: 4:52 min/km
Place overall: 86/403
Age category place: 33/92

(NOTE: the age grouping, usually in 5-year increments, was 40-59 for me this time…quite a spread!)

Saturday
I think about 10 folks from Forerunners participated in either the 5k or the 10k. And we were all there on Saturday morning for our clinic, an easy 15k to Lost Lagoon and back. I’m impressed that everyone was out in force – shows how much we love running!

Sunday
Happy Father’s Day! I actually wrote an ‘Ode to Dad‘ for the blog, and we did our best to not make each other cry when we spoke in the evening. Otherwise, most of the day was spent on the balcony, enjoying the longest day.

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RACE REPORT

Overall
Simple and straightfoward race. Well organized. Fun and festive, with good announcements and decent communication from registration onward. Price is the same for 5k or 10k – just $33 for earlybird, or $38 regular. That includes food.

Packet Pickup/Expo
It’s possible to pick up your package at the Running Room on Thursday night, but it was simply easier to show up a bit early on race day. The lineup for the 10k pickup was short, so it took like 2 seconds.

T-Shirt/Swag
You can buy a tech t-shirt, but I’ve got enough as it is. No medal for this race (unless you actually place).

Course
As described, it’s a painful double loop. Mostly flat, with a nice long downhill at the start and a challenging (but short) uphill at 3k/8k. Scenic and enjoyable, particularly in the cool evening weather typical of the summer solstice time of year.

Aid Stations
There was one aid station at 3k/8k – I think they had both water and energy drinks, but I didn’t slow down to partake.

Post-Race
Great food! Wonderful selection of stuff. I think the burgers would have been fresher/yummier for those finishing early (i.e. 5k runners) because by the time I got there, everything was kind of cold. But it was quick and efficient to get through the line, and I really enjoyed it. There were door prizes, too, but I didn’t win anything.

Race Management
In terms of what I needed and expected of this race, I think it was very well put together. I liked the fact that we got cheap ($4) parking on a campus where it’s very expensive to park – but with the discount code it was reasonable, if a wee bit far from the start line. Volunteers were great. Sponsors were great.

 

Have you ever run an evening race? Do you prefer racing in the mornings or evenings? What’s your opinion of double loop races?