Posts Tagged ‘cancer’


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.



When I did my very first Scotiabank race back in 2009, it was a 5K. It seems that the race wasn’t chip timed, so I have no idea how long it took me to finish. What I can remember – vaguely – is that it was a struggle. It was one of my first races ever. Fast forward to 2016, and I am proud and honoured to be a Scotiabank Half Digital Champion!

Scotiabank Half

And what exactly is that, a Digital Champion? Well, we are a diverse bunch of runners – different ages, who run different speeds, at different stages in our running journey. But what we have in common is our love for the sport, and our enthusiasm for the Scotiabank Half and what it represents and means to us.

You can meet all of the Digital Champions – and Pacers – by dropping by the Canada Running Series West website here. Debra Kato and I especially look forward to representing this event with enthusiasm!

Scotiabank Half

Charity Challenge

One of the things that makes the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon & 5K a truly special event is the emphasis on fundraising for charity. Every year there are a number of featured charities, plus a list of over 70 charitable partners to fundraise on behalf of. Fundraising can be as much or as little as you want, either as an individual or as part of a team. And while the Scotiabank Charity Challenge is an awesome component of the weekend, it’s not an obligation – but for me it holds great value.

I had intended to sign up for the Scotiabank Half in 2012 – and actually believed I had – but discovered just days before the race that I hadn’t registered. I took it as a sign and gave it a miss.

In 2013, I was on the ball early and signed up in January for the Canada Running Series Combo – the Vancouver Spring Run-Off 8K (now the Modo 8K), the Scotiabank Half, and the Eastside 10K. At that point, the thought of fundraising hadn’t yet entered my mind.

Scotiabank Half

BC Cancer Foundation

Late in March of 2013, life threw us a curveball. My mom ended up in hospital with a number of medical issues, and we soon learned that she had cancer. It would turn out to be late stage pancreatic cancer, one of the cancers with the lowest survival rates. Because it often goes undetected until it has spread, it is largely incurable. This turned out to be the case for my mom. I headed back to Ontario to spend time with her and my dad, but two weeks later on April 19, she passed away quietly in hospice.

Scotiabank Half

We spent the next couple of weeks putting affairs in order, planning the funeral, saying goodbye. And then it was back to the real world. I felt helpless, a bit lost, angry and exhausted. Then I decided that the only thing I could do was try and do something positive – and that where the Scotiabank Half came into play.

Deciding to fundraise on behalf of the BC Cancer Foundation, I wanted to honour my mom’s memory. I committed to raising money to fight cancer – and to help fund the research that is still desperately needed.

Scotiabank Half

That commitment has continued – in 2014 and 2015 – and I’m doing it again this year. My goal is to raise $3,000 and bring my lifetime fundraising total to over $12,000. You can visit my fundraising page here:

So no matter what your motivation – to run your first half marathon, to join a team, to fundraise for a charity that is dear to your heart – the Scotiabank Half & 5K is a race worth running! Want to sign up? Visit the website here:

Scotiabank Half

Mary Alice Cuzen 1934-2013



Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Moustache Miler through my involvement with West Van Run! Don’t forget to sign up for the West Van Run 5K or 10K (or both!) on March 5 & 6 – get 15% off with discount code ‘bradley’.

I hadn’t actually heard of the Moustache Miler before this year, but 2015 was actually its third year (based on the info I could find!). You’ve most likely heard of Movember, and the Moustache Miler is most easily described as a ‘fun run’ in support of this worthwhile cause. Although I didn’t personally fundraise (I concentrate on fundraising for the BC Cancer Foundation as part of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge), a lot of folks put in a lot of effort to raise awareness of men’s health issues, particularly prostate cancer. If you’re interested in donating, my friend Ed has a Movember fundraising page here, and all donations will be matched by our employer.


On Friday, I had committed to doing ‘wear testing’ for Mizuno. This involves trying on 3 different pairs of Mizuno shoes, running 3 kilometres in each, and then providing feedback on the experience. Debra, Pat and I participated back in August, and signed up together to do it again. Debra kindly offered to pick up the race packages for most West Van Run team members at the Running Room, and brought mine to Forerunners that evening. This gave me time to go to Pilates, because improving my core strength is key on my goal list right now.

Jeannine happened to arrive early for her wear testing as well, and we had a great time running together and getting to know each other a bit better! I didn’t get home until 9pm, but fortunately the race the next morning didn’t start until 10:30am!

Moustache Miler

Debra picked me up on Saturday morning, and we cruised down to Brockton Oval in Stanley Park. It was frosty and chilly, but with sunny blue skies.

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We gathered with the members of the West Van Run Crew. We’ve all been involved in a lot of races together over the past several months, but this was the first race where everyone was in attendance!



We had lots of fun mingling and chatting before heading to the start line on the Seawall.


Karin led us in warmups – still looking in tip-top shape at 4 1/2 months pregnant!

Processed with MOLDIV

A quick countdown, and we headed out along the seawall to Brockton Point. As we rounded the lighthouse and hit some shade, the frost on the ground (particularly on the slight downhill) was a bit of a hazard. I won’t blame the slipperiness for affecting my time, but I definitely stepped a bit more gingerly at this point.

Shorter races are funny things. The one miler lasts forever. This was my first 5k in years. I actually thought (and told a bunch of people) that I had only done one 5k before – the 2009 Scotiabank 5k, which wasn’t chip timed, so I have no idea how long it took me. However, I discovered that I had, in fact, done the Longest Day 5k back in 2010. My memories of that race are a bit vague, but I recall it took longer than forever.

Somewhere around Lost Lagoon, we did an out and back, and I cheered for a few members of West Van Run who were keeping pace ahead of me. As we headed back onto the Seawall, I started to wonder how far we had gone – there were no kilometre markings on this route. When my Garmin beeped, I wasn’t even sure if I was at 3k or 4k (it was 4k).

Processed with MOLDIV

After nearly getting bowled over by a guy running with a double stroller – I swear there were at least 3 kids and a puppy in that thing – I was on the final dash to the finish. I could see Karin just ahead of me, but she still finished before me. Give her another couple months of pregnancy, and I’m sure I can beat her!

We got our fun Moustache Miler medals, cheered for all the West Van Run team as they crossed the finish line, and then headed back to the Oval to celebrate. There were snack, coffee, and freebies outside – and upstairs in the clubhouse we got cupcakes and (if you wanted to purchase it) beer.

Processed with MOLDIV

Kirill, our fearless West Van Run leader, not only won the race – he also had a course record (16:45, to be exact). Yep, he bested me by 7 minutes!!

Processed with MOLDIV

The music cranked up and the 80s-themed party started to swing, but it was time to take my moustache and head home.


The best part of this race – in addition to the costumes and moustaches of all varieties – was the chance to run with my peeps from West Van Run Crew. You guys rock!


Final Results

Chip Time: 23:47
Average Pace: 4:44/km
Place Overall: 47/279
Age Category Place: 8/29



Packet Pickup
I didn’t go to package pickup, which was on Friday night at the Running Room. One of the members of my running team kindly offered to pick up packages for most of the other folks. We got a fair amount of brochures, a bottle opening/magnet and a fake moustache.

No swag to speak of, although we got a cute Moustache Miler medal, which isn’t bad for a 5k! Also got a coupon for free shipping on a RoadID – so now I’ve got one on the way!

Scenic loop around the Brockton Point end of the seawall, including the Stanley Park lighthouse. Then we cut through the park, did a short out-and-back along Lost Lagoon, and then back to where we started. The only real challenge was a bit of frost on the route, but at least it wasn’t raining!

Outside the Brockton Oval clubhouse, several vendors were set up with fruit, water, Starbucks coffee, Vega products, and LIFT Bars – lots of free goodies! It was a fun, festive atmosphere. We then gathered upstairs for awards, draw prizes, costume and moustache judging, and cupcakes.

Would I Run It Again?
I would consider it, for sure! Because most of the #WestVanRun Crew was in attendance, I had a particularly good time! And runs in Stanley Park are never a bad thing!

Scotiabank Half

I usually wait until the end of the post for the ‘big reveal’. But I’m really just so happy that this is going to be my opener. For the third year in a row, I have participated in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, raising funds on behalf of the BC Cancer Foundation. I’m thrilled to announce this year’s total: $3,140!

This is a huge shout out to everyone who helped me in this journey, both financially and in the form of encouragement and moral support. I’m so pleased that the BC Cancer Foundation will have a bit of extra funding for their important research. It gladdens me that something positive has grown from the loss of my Mom 3 years ago.

And now we’re off to the race!

But first – a quick note that I’m linking up with Tara at Running ‘n’ Reading for another Weekend Update!

[Tweet “Scotiabank Half Marathon – one of Vancouver’s top races!”]

This is my third Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon, and my fifth half marathon of 2015 – squeaking in just before the middle of the year. In the week leading up to the race, the weather in BC has gotten progressively warmer. The prediction for Sunday was in the high 20s, very possibly a record breaker.

Before bed – with Sunday’s prediction

Package pickup

Canada Place is just two blocks from my office, so I took an afternoon coffee break and popped over to the expo, meeting up with Forerunners buddy Emily. Timing was good, I guess, because there was hardly a soul there. Bib and t-shirt pickup was quick and efficient, and then we chatted with friends at the Forerunners booth and the Timex booth.


Wow, my head is shiny


Canada Place reflected in the Vancouver Convention Centre

The biggest disappointment for me was the t-shirt. I actually love the design – whoever came up with this nifty Burrard Bridge word picture deserves kudos. The colour – bright lime green – isn’t my favourite, but I can handle it.


But the size is ridiculous. At first, I thought I had the wrong size. But no, it’s a small. I asked if they had extra small. No. Just to confirm, I compared my 2013 (red) and 2014 (orange) shirts – and the same brand (Asics) has grown remarkably! In retrospect, I should have tried trading it in for a women’s shirt, but there it is. I ended up wearing the 2013 shirt for the race, and was complimented (by someone ‘in the know’) on how well it fit!

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Race Day

Because the Scotiabank is a point-to-point course, it’s necessary to make the one-way trek to UBC. Last year, I quickly found a car2go and zipped out. This year, I had promised Emily that I’d pick her up – but when I checked my app the closest car2go was nearly a kilometre away! No matter, after water, oatmeal and coffee I did a ‘warmup’ run to the car (and started sweating right away)!

Burrard Bridge

Burrard Bridge – to be crossed later today

Slowed down enough to pick up Emily en route, and when we arrived at UBC it seemed that everyone had had the same idea. There were car2gos everywhere! But we found parking and headed to the start line.

It was the place to be! We ran into my YMCA trainer Lisa, Debra (thanks for the photos!) and Bev. We went for our respective potty breaks – men’s urinal station at this race meant I could go twice – gabbed with a bunch of the Forerunners gang, and then headed to our corral to get the party started!

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The First Half

Emily and I started out together, and I was feeling pretty strong. We got to cheer the elites as they were headed back while we were still going out. It was pretty shady and there was lots of energy, but it was already getting warm. Soon enough, Emily pulled ahead and I lost sight of her.

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I was still feeling pretty strong by 5k, and focused as best I could on cutting the tangents as the road curved toward the Marine Drive downhill stretch. I tried to keep my pace pretty steady, rather than pounding down the hill. Then things flattened out, and the shade disappeared as we ran along the beach.

I crossed the halfway mat at 55:22 – and knew at that moment that the hardest was yet to come, and that this wouldn’t be a PB race!

The Second Half

I swear the second half of any race is when things get interesting. Anomalies aside, the first half is usually pretty uneventful. The second half is real.

Laurel was cheering from the sidelines – I haven’t seen her in ages – and that gave me a bit of an extra boost! But the heat was starting to get to me, and my pace flagged a bit. So hot. And sweaty. And a guy in front of me farted. And the sun continued to shine.

I was ready for Trimble Hill, and one of the volunteers was bellowing encouragement like a boot camp trainer. I saw Steven and Bob as I went by, and pushed hard to reach the top. Another downhill then, with Strawberry PowerGel being handed out. Left onto Alma, and it’s only 14k…2/3 of the race done, but still a long ways to go.

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The biggest shock of my running career to date happened on Point Grey Road. Trying my best to maintain a positive spirit, I saw a single runner headed towards us. Not part of the race, obviously, just out for her usual run. Jovially, I called out, “You’re going the wrong way!”

Her response: “F*** off!”

I’ve censored myself, but this was a full-on expletive. No smile or hint of irony in her voice.

I kind of laughed and I might have said a quiet, “Wow, sorry…” But this single event really affected me in unexpected ways. On the plus side, I was so distracted that I briefly forgot the heat and the pain. A lot of thoughts went through my mind.

Who does that? 

Probably like 50 other people had already said the same thing and she was tired of it. Was I the first one she cursed? Did she continue on down the line? You know I wasn’t the last one to say that!

Was she angry and bitter because she couldn’t run this race due to an injury?

Why didn’t she just move over one block to avoid everyone? How could she not realize there was a race today?

In the end, once the race was done, I tweeted this to the world (having had about 6km to think about it):



This is going to stick with me for a while.

The last kick before the Burrard Bridge was the toughest. On Cornwall, I actually walked while downing some Gatorade. If I can help it, I don’t stop because it’s so hard to start again. But start again I did, albeit slowly. As we rounded the corner by the Molson plant, the digital clock told me it was 9:15, and 20 degrees. Uh uh, no way. Definitely hotter than that!

Up and over the Bridge – according to Strava, not one of my best efforts. Coach Carey was there to cheer us on.

Burrard Bridge

So far to go…

The end was not too far off. It was shadier here, with an ocean breeze that felt good but provided increased resistance in my weakened state. At 20km I increased my speed as best I could.

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The energy and crowds swelled, I did my best my best to not let anyone pass me, and finally reached the finish line with a whoop and a sigh. Done.

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Had a quick debrief with a few of my peeps, grabbed some sustenance – then found a car2go for a quick trip home, a shower, eggs and toast for breakfast, and a well-earned nap!

Final results
Chip time: 1:50:55
Average pace: 5:16 min/km
Overall: 693/3561
Age ranking: 56/172

*My slowest half marathon time in the past year – but don’t worry, there are more to come!



One of Vancouver’s top races. I love the point-to-point with amazing views, excellent volunteers, a positive crowd, and fundraising component.

Packet Pickup/Expo
Quick and efficient. Bib, t-shirt, expo, bib confirmation. Timing was good, so no lineups – smooth sailing. The expo was a little ‘light’ – would like to have had a bit more excitement – but maybe that’s the tradeoff for arriving during a lull.

T-shirt design is fantastic; size is awful. Compared to the small men’s Asics from 2 years ago, it’s like we all gained 30 pounds and grew two inches. One of the volunteers told me that men were declining the t-shirts altogether because they were too big. I’ll never wear mine, which is too bad. This was a major fail (not sure who’s at fault, but there it is) – and my only complaint for this race. Love the medal, especially the lanyard design.

It’s a net downhill, but when you’re not running downhill, it’s like there’s a slight uphill the rest of the time. Painful late in the race, especially Trimble and Burrard Bridge. But scenic as heck, familiar routes. Solid Vancouver experience, especially for those from out of town.

Aid Stations
Excellent – I used every one. I wish they wouldn’t mix it up – Gatorade first, water second…but then water first, Gatorade second. Just keep it consistent. But the volunteers were great, told us what was coming, and had cups at the ready. With today’s heat, a sponge station wouldn’t have been out of line. But solid nonetheless.

Yogurt, PowerBar, bananas, cookies, Oasis juice, bagels – the usual fare. Nothing outstanding, everything required. Also, booths set up for all of the charities…except BC Cancer Foundation, which surprised me. I tried to find someone who could trade my gigantic shirt for a smaller women’s…but no one seemed to have a clue. I gave up and went home.

Race Management
As per usual, CRS West put on a fantastic race. Organizationally sound, from registration to communication (both email and social media), through package pickup to execution. Flawless, with the exception of the t-shirts, as noted above. Nicely done!


How was your weekend? Any races?

Have you ever been cursed at while running? How did you feel? How did you react?



January is traditionally the month of resolutions made.

By February, many are broken.

March, however, has been a milestone month for me. Maybe because I didn’t make any resolutions this year, and decided instead to focus on goals and overall improvements. And while there have been a couple of downs, the overall trajectory has been up!

Here are 5 reasons why March exceeded my expectations:

1) Blogiversary

Bradley on the Run celebrated one year online on March 1. With gratitude to my faithful and supportive readers, the number of visitors for the first 3 months of 2015 has nearly overtaken the number for all of 2014. This humbles me immensely.

March also saw Twitter followers (@bjcjapan) surpass 500! This was quite a psychological barrier to break. I remember hovering around 100 followers for what seemed like an eternity.

2) Cancer Sucks – so do something about it

Commemorating my mom’s birthday for the second time since she passed away in 2013, the BC Cancer Foundation is once again my charity of choice as fundraising for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon, which will be held in June, commenced in earnest.

Pancreatic cancer is insidious – it grows deep inside, often undiscovered until advanced stages. It remains largely incurable. I’m doing what little I can to support research by raising funds and raising awareness. But it’s the support of a lot of people who truly make the difference.

My personal fundraising page is here:


A good friend was telling me recently about her friend, Scott, who is fighting cancer himself – and running to raise both awareness and funds. I’d like to draw attention to his blog as well:

Run Fast. Run Vegan.

Because March is tax season, a lot of people start thinking about charitable donations for the coming year. Focus on the charities that are closest to your heart, and support them as best you can. Everyone can make a difference.

3) 3 Races – 3 PBs

I shall brag a wee bit. I ran three races in March:

All three were personal bests, although the 7 Miler was a bit of a cheat since it was my first race of that distance (automatic PB!)


#Modo8K dramatic pose

4) Miles Not Included Podcast!

Somehow, Brian and Joe – the awesome team at Miles Not Included – found me social media, and invited me to be a guest on their podcast. Such an honour! If you’re interested, you can listen to the episode here:


5) Got me some new kicks!

I’m back to my tried and true Nike Lunarglides in their 6th iteration. I strayed from Nike for a while, running with some stylish Mizunos (my Honolulu Marathon shoes). But they were not right for my feet and started causing some pain. So yesterday I pick up these beauties:


I had planned to break them in today, but it’s been pouring all day and I just couldn’t bring myself to sully the fantastic colour (plus I wanted to stay cozy in my pjs all day, and decided to focus on writing this post instead!)


Finally, here’s some food for thought for comments below:

What were your March highlights? Did your training suffer any setbacks?

Have you got any new running gear that you’re really excited about?

What charities are you passionate about and why?


running for mom

I find posts like this one difficult to write. Not simply from an emotional perspective, but also because it’s hard to tell personal stories in a way that make sense for other people, and so they don’t come off as too self-centred. Some writers are very adept at this, and I don’t know if I’m one of them.

Today – March 8 – was my Mom’s birthday. She would have been 81. Unfortunately, she didn’t get to celebrate the milestone 80th birthday either. But now that her birthday has come around again, I can’t help but think back on who she was and why I miss her so much.


So I’m just going to tell you a few things about my mom.

  1. I love that her birthday coincides with International Women’s Day. Mom believed that everyone should have a voice, and stood up for people who didn’t – or couldn’t – speak up for themselves. She would never have considered herself a crusader, but she really looked out for others.
  2. She made the best grilled cheese sandwiches. Nothing fancy – just the simplest of comfort foods to fill you up. And she would always serve them with bread & butter pickles – no dill for Mom! She also made poached eggs on toast, but she’d cut the toast into little squares before putting the egg on top so it was bite-sized already.
  3. She always insisted on doing my laundry when I was home – and never put anything in the dryer. In the summer, she’d lug everything out to the clothesline in the backyard because it made the laundry smell better.
  4. When I was feeling sick, she’d sit on my bed and rub my back – or my belly if I had a tummy ache.
  5. Because she talked so much, she was always the last person to finish a meal. She didn’t care much for dessert, but would go back for first course if she could! She wouldn’t let servers take away her plate until she had finished every bite. Nothing went to waste!
  6. She was an extremely talented pianist. She could play any hymn or Christmas Carol by ear, changing keys if necessary – no sheet music required.
  7. She worried constantly – about me, my dad, friends and relatives. She was fiercely protective of the people she cared about.
  8. She didn’t take bulls**t from anyone. But she would never curse.
  9. She missed her own parents immensely and cried when she thought of them. She was an only child, like me. I sincerely wish I had known my grandparents, but I never had the opportunity.
  10. She (along with my dad) came to every band concert, play, musical, choir concert…never missed a single one from kindergarten through to university graduation. I’m sad she never got to see me run.

On her birthday in 2013, my mom ended up in hospital. She was sent home after a few days, but ended up getting readmitted. Some of her organs started to fail, and we were told that she had cancer. I flew home to spend time with her. We ended up having just 2 weeks together before moving her to hospice, where she spent just one – but one very peaceful – day.

We didn’t talk about anything specific during those 2 weeks. She worried about who was going to take care of getting sandwiches for church events, she made me promise to look after my dad, and she asked me if I was happy. That reassurance seemed to be enough for her.

Time has passed and I still miss her. My dad and I have grown closer – despite the distance – and we talk a lot. I’m very thankful for this.

And although my mom never saw me run a single race, I have dedicated the Scotiabank Half Marathon to her memory for the past two years, and will do so again this year. I fundraise for the BC Cancer Foundation because the pancreatic cancer that took a bright, caring and passionate woman from this world needs to be stopped.

So I run.

What are your favourite memories of loved ones you’ve lost?running for mom


One year ago today, I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer. She was hospitalized a couple of days after her birthday in March, and was diagnosed a week or so later. Her decline was quick and blessedly free of much pain. While I am thankful that she didn’t suffer much, I can’t help but wish that we’d had just a bit more time together.

Breaking Apart

In the weeks leading up to Mom’s death, and those following, I found solace in my running. Although I spent much of her final 2 weeks at the hospital, I often took an hour or so in the morning to get outside. Unlike this year, the spring of 2013 was relatively mild in Ontario, and I could run the streets of Barrie without worry of slipping on the ice, or needing to bundle up.

A couple of days after Mom was gone, I went for one of the longest runs I had done – heading up Anne Street and north of the city. It was a warm, sunny day and the route was just along the gravel verge of the road. All of a sudden, it hit me that I would never see her again. I started to cry – the kind of sobs that wrack your body – and just kept running and crying and hating cancer and regretting some of the things I should never have said and thinking of things I wished I had said.

Then I couldn’t cry anymore. There was nothing more I could do but turn around and head home.

Pulling Back Together

Although I had registered for the 2013 BMO Vancouver Half Marathon, I had no intention of racing. In fact, when I first learned of my mom’s illness, I asked if I could defer to the following year – a request that was unfortunately denied. But I ended up flying home a week after the funeral, and two days before the race, so I ran it anyway. Not a great time – my training had hardly been consistent – but better than not running at all. My mom was not one for waste, and I think she would have applauded my decision.

A week later I registered for the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, raising funds for the BC Cancer Foundation. I was already signed up for the Scotiabank Half Marathon and, since Mom fervently believed in helping others, I couldn’t think of a better way to honour her memory than to dedicate the run to her. Every penny donated was earmarked for pancreatic cancer research – and with the overwhelming support of family and friends, over $3,700 was raised.

And today I’m committing to do it again. I’ve signed up to fundraise for the BC Cancer Foundation, and to Run for Mom in this year’s Scotiabank Half Marathon.

You can help support me in the 2014 Scotiabank Charity Challenge by making a donation here.

With sincere thanks.


Today is International Women’s Day. It also would have been my Mom’s 80th birthday. I kind of like that they fall on the same day.

A 30km run allows a lot of time for reflection. But hard-core introspection is not something I’m incredibly comfortable with, so I was fortunate to have a bunch of awesome people to keep me company this morning.

Seriously – a 30km training run?

30km is the longest run I’ve ever done. In my life. 3 weeks ago, I did the First Half Half Marathon. My training runs have been increasing in length since then, and as of today I’ve done three additional ‘half marathons’, at least in terms of kilometres run. I’m working towards my first-ever full marathon, the BMO Vancouver Marathon, taking place on May 4, 2014. There’s more to that story, but I’ll save it for another time.

Yesterday, the weather report was calling for a ‘pineapple express’-like tropical monsoon, worrying me enough that I started Googling things like ‘running in heavy rain’. Not that I haven’t run in rainy conditions, I just wasn’t sure if I was ready for the predicted downpour. By 8am today, as we gathered outside Forerunners on 4th Ave, the skies were cloudy but the roads were dry and we set off on our journey.

It’s all uphill from here…and why cancer is a bitch

It’s less than 2km into the run, and we’re headed up the slopes of Alma & Dunbar, an incline that starts at Broadway and doesn’t peak until King Edward (about 15 blocks, for non-locals). “Eyes up, don’t look at your feet, look at your goal” is our pace group leader’s advice. I do my best to comply.

We pick up the pace heading downhill to 41st, and then across to Camosun, aiming for our first water stop. My running buddy and I start chatting about health – a recent medical procedure, people we know who are struggling with their health. I tell her about a young guy in my office who began an unexpected battle with cancer just over a year ago. He recently returned to work and seemed to be on the mend, but just the other day learned that he has to go back in for another invasive surgery, requiring another extended period of recuperation.

Reflecting on that, I recognize yet again how much cancer sucks. How random it is in who is affected. Some battles are won, many are not. My Mom lost her battle last year a mere 6 weeks after diagnosis. My coworker continues to fight, and I want to cheer him on. But it still sucks.

Plodding along

And then we’re headed up another, steeper hill. This is where we hook up with the Vancouver Marathon course, giving me a taste of what I’ll be in for. “Keep your eye on the stop sign!” yells the group leader. What stop sign? I can’t see that far ahead?? But there it is, the climb continues.

reflectionsHeading into UBC campus, there are a few unscheduled pee breaks (those ladies were quick!), and the rains begin. Pineapple express? Hardly. But enough to make me glad I wore a light jacket, and wish I’d worn a peaked cap. It’s warm now, and I really don’t need my running beanie…but if I take if off now my head will freeze. I persevere.

The conversation ebbs and flows – stories about kids and families, pets and partners, all the individuals (furry and otherwise) who affect our lives. I miss my Mom. It’s amazing how much you learn about people while on these long runs. There’s another water stop, I test out an new energy gel (PowerBar PowerGel® Double Latte – not too thick, not too sweet), we do a second loop and somehow we’ve completed a half marathon distance already!

reflectionsThe Home Stretch

It’s mostly downhill now – NW Marine Drive to Spanish Banks, another uphill push at Locarno – and suddenly I’m on my own. A few speed demons in the distance, no footfalls behind me. I wonder what Mom would have thought if she knew I was training for a marathon. She’d probably be worried – she always worried – and tell me to be careful. She might have heard about someone who collapsed doing a race, and warn me to take it easy. I hope she’d be proud. I regret that she never had a chance to see me race.

And then it’s over. 30 kilometres, just under 3 hours. Happy birthday, Mom – this run’s for you.