Posts Tagged ‘marathon’

Lucy kindly agreed to write her third guest blog on the Newport Marathon. You can read more about Lucy from an interview I did with her a few months ago at Interview with a Runner: Lucy Chi!

header2014b

On June 4th 2016, I ran the Newport Marathon on the Oregon coast. This was the race I had been training for since January. The goal was to qualify for Boston ideally – or at least achieve a personal best.

In the week leading up to the race, there were a few unexpected obstacles I had to address. One, I had started experiencing an excruciating toothache which was somewhat exacerbated by the impact from running. This was not fun since anyone who has had a toothache knows that you can’t think straight when you have a toothache. Second, I realized I was having an outbreak of rosacea on my body. It rarely happens. In fact, the last outbreak was in 2013. As one can imagine, I was naturally displeased while trying not to be too stressed out about either.

Fortunately, by Thursday, the toothache had subsided somewhat (I did visit my dentist) and the rosacea seemed limited to my torso. Otherwise, in terms of race prep, everything else was on track. I had a terrific pasta meal upon arrival in Newport, 36 hours prior to the race. I also slept well both evenings at the hotel, and the bathroom routine went smoothly on the morning of the race.

I had travelled to the race with my sister, which was also a lot of fun. This was our first race together since the Victoria Marathon 2013. Package pickup was simple the day before. There was no need to show proof of registration. Included in the goody bag were some final race instructions – 1 page, single-spaced and in 10-font. Perhaps my attention span is low these days, but I would have preferred something more concise and in larger font. The instructions did note how the course was measured and that racers would be disqualified if we ran on the wrong side of the road. That made me a bit nervous. What was a surprise was that we would not receive our souvenir shirt until after the race. I guess they really want to make you earn it!

On race morning, we met with fellow Forerunners group leader Judy, and all went to the start line together. The sun was out but the temperature was relatively cool still. On the shuttle bus to the start line, we ran into a former Forerunners friend Stephen with whom I frequently ran several years back. This was a nice surprise. Both of us had trained all winter using the heart rate method and testing with Peak Performance Centre.

The race course itself was an out-and- back course, with the start and finish line located about a 1 mile from each other. It was mostly flat, scenic and along Yaquina Bay. The temperature climbed as the race went on. Fortunately, for the first portion, the road was slightly shaded by a cliff on our left side. However, this disappeared before the 13-mile mark and runners were left exposed to the sun for quite a long period after this point. My pace started to slow naturally. All I could think of was that I wanted to finish this race strong and running. There was no doubt the middle portion of this race was tough for me on this day.

Newport Marathon

The good news in the end:  I did finish the race running and feeling strong again (i.e. no cramps). The bad news:  I didn’t meet my qualifying time nor did I achieve a personal best. However, I was not as disappointed as I thought I’d be. As I watched my qualifying time pass, I realized this race weekend was already great, as I had a lot of fun with my sister and there will be always be other races.

The race medal we received at the end also helped. All half marathon and marathon runners received a beautiful, individually-designed glass medal. It was a medal that one could truly repurpose as a necklace.

Newport Marathon

In addition to the medal and the short-sleeved technical shirt by Alanic, runners also enjoy lots of post-race food such as clam chowder and a pint of beer for free.

Newport Marathon

Overall, it was a well-organized race for a small resort town. For anyone interested in a scenic, fast course in the Pacific Northwest in the future, I would definitely recommend this race. Who knows, I may be back myself in the future for redemption!

Final Results

Chip Time: 3:43:36
Average Pace: 8:33 min/mile
Place Overall: 116/502
Age Category Place: 7/52

********

Congratulations, Lucy! I’m really impressed with your efforts and even though it wasn’t a Boston Qualifier this time, I have no doubt in your ability to reach that goal. Thanks for sharing your experiences! – B.

Read other guest blogs by Lucy:

And don’t forget to read my Interview with a Runner: Lucy Chi (one of my most popular posts ever!)

 

murakami

I dedicate this book to all the runners I’ve encountered on the road — those I’ve passed, and those who’ve passed me. Without all of you, I never would have kept on running.

I haven’t really done much in the way of book reviews since high school, with the exception of the odd comments on Goodreads. But I figured that if I was going to read a book about running, I should write about a book about running.

That book is:

What I Talk about when I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami

Generally, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. My tendency is more towards mystery (a la Agatha Christie) and action/thriller (by folks like Clive Cussler, Ian Hamilton, Steve Berry) – really high brow stuff! But when I learned that one of Japan’s best-known authors was also a runner, I immediately put a hold on the eBook at the Vancouver Public Library.

Haruki Murakami (age 66) is a Kyoto-born author, with a quirky writing style. Some of his better known works are: Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Kafka on the Shore. I’ve actually read a collection of his short stories (after the quake) in the original Japanese. Here are my thoughts on his book about running!

What the book is about

The subtitle of this book is A Memoir. Each chapter is somewhat of a short recollection – excerpts from the ‘present’ (during the time of writing) and reflections on the ‘past’. Murakami talks about his life before becoming a writer, when he owned a jazz bar. One day, while lying on the grass watching a baseball game, he was ‘inspired’ to write a novel – dropped everything, sold the bar, and committed to his career.

This dedication is reflected in his running habit. Once he became an author, he realized that his sedentary life would make him fat, so he started running. And since then he has run every day, averaging 6 miles each day (sometimes more, sometimes less, but hitting his weekly and monthly targets). He has run multiple marathons – probably even more since this book was published in 2007 – and at least one ultramarathon.

What I liked about the book

Murakami has a very matter of fact writing style. He just tells things as he sees them. His description of himself as a non-athlete resonated with me.

He talks about gym class and sports days, and how much he hated them. He says, “I wasn’t good at the kind of sports where things are decided in a flash.” As someone who flinches when balls are thrown anywhere near my head, this makes sense to me.

Murakami goes on to discuss how the competitive aspect of sports makes him uncomfortable, saying that “…beating somebody else just doesn’t do it for me.” As such, he really doesn’t enjoy team sports – and I wholeheartedly echo this feeling. This is one of the things about running that works for both the author, and for me – our motivation comes from focusing on a time we want to beat…or doing our best trying.

Running: “It suits me”

My favourite part of this book was Murakami’s description of his Athens to Marathon run. He decided to run the ‘reverse Marathon’ on his own, just for the sake of doing it. He is accompanied by a photo crew in a van, who are documenting his adventure. He remarks that the photographer is baffled that he actually plans to run the whole thing, since most people just pose for the photo ops, but don’t really complete the course. Murakami is equally baffled: “I can’t believe people would really do things like that.” The best moment, though, is near the end of the run – in his exhaustion, the author is angry at everything: the dust on the road, the photographer in his van, and sheep eating grass at the side of the road. Such great reflections of the pain and misery nearing the finish line!

Also, napping is good!

What I didn’t like about the book

Honestly, if I hadn’t already planned to write this book review, I might not have finished reading. It’s not long – only 175 pages – but it’s a bit of a slog. I suspect that the stilted writing style is somewhat reflective of the translation. It verges on the awkward and unnatural, literal translation. But Murakami’s written word is a bit peculiar, so maybe the English version is not that far off.

And while Murakami is very dedicated to running – it’s an essential part of his everyday world, and he feels regretful when he’s not able to run – there’s a lack of enthusiasm about running. Clearly, it holds value in his life. There are a number of warm, reflective moments about people he’s encountered on his journey, to be sure. But I don’t really feel like he’s having a lot of fun along the way. Maybe that’s just the kind of guy he is – fairly solitary and introspective. Who am I to judge?

Finally, he makes things seem so easy, that things just ‘happen’. He suddenly decides to write a novel, and then he’s a writer. He determines to start running, and then he’s finishing a marathon. While there’s clearly hard work and pain involved, it happens with an almost fatalistic sense of ‘that’s how it goes’. I find that a bit difficult to identify with.

Conclusion

If you’re interested in getting a different perspective on running, this is not a bad book to read. It gave me some food for thought. If you’ve read Murakami’s works, you might find it interesting to learn more about the man himself.

The story about running Athens to Marathon is the best part – just read this chapter, and you’ll have all you need.

Before I started writing, I Googled book reviews. There are many. My favourite is by Lianne Habinek, in Open Letters Monthly – so if you want to read a solid, professional review, click here.

Did you find this review helpful? Would you like to read more book reviews? What’s your favourite book about running?

What_I_Talk_About

blogiversaryWhen I signed up for my first 8km race a little over six years ago, I never dreamed I would end up calling myself a runner. And when I hit ‘Publish’ on my first blog post – exactly one year ago today – I had no idea how much ‘Bradley on the Run’ would become a part of my life.

March 1, 2015 – Many of you have been with me throughout this journey, while others have just joined the party. Please allow me the (slightly narcissistic) indulgence of reflecting back over the past 12 months. I also have to thank a bunch of people, too!

#42for42

I decided that 2014 would be my marathon year, and set my sights on Honolulu in December, just about a week after my 42nd birthday (42km marathon at 42 years old = #42for42). I figured this was as good a motivation as any to check the full marathon off of my bucket list. With a bit of encouragement, I ended up running the BMO Vancouver Marathon as my first (and best), with Honolulu my second. The question lingers whether or not another marathon is in the cards for me…

Processed with Moldiv

Injuries and Excuses

During and after the BMO, I had some issues which I described at the time as ‘groin’-related. I took some time off, did some physio and – most significantly – started going to Pilates. Well, lo and behold, I was healed! Turns out that my problem was not, uh, where I thought it was. My problem was a weak core! Huge shout out to Christie at the YMCA who has helped to make a world of different in strengthening my flabby underdeveloped mid-section.

A Few PBs

I want to brag, just a little bit. In the past year, I achieved personal best (PB) results in 5 distances!

  • Full Marathon (42.2km) – the BMO Vancouver Marathon was the winner here. Much as I enjoyed Honolulu, it was not comparable time-wise to the BMO
  • Half Marathon (21.1km) – just a few weeks ago, I had a ‘perfect storm’-type race in the First Half Half Marathon – and loved every minute of it!
  • 10km – it was a cold and snowy day, but the 2014 West Van Run was a PB in this distance…that is, until today…(stay tuned for an upcoming race report on West Van Run 2015!)
  • 8km – the Modo 8K was a fun and unexpected success
  • 1 mile – this was a distance I had never tackled = automatic PB! We’ll see what this year’s Ambleside Mile has in store!

Huge Thanks!

Although I enjoy writing this blog – it’s one of the things that keeps me motivated in my running – it’s the people who have supported me that make the true impact. An enormous THANK YOU to:

  • Coach Carey and the amazing people of Forerunners – from Day One, I have been inspired and encouraged by this team of athletes.
  • My Twitter followers – for every ‘Like’ and every retweet, those I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person and those I hope to meet someday!
  • All the folks on Facebook, including the many non-runners who visit my blog just because – it means a lot to me!
  • Everyone who follows me on Instagram, Pinterest (still figuring that one out) – and this blog!
  • Kristy (Runaway Bridal Planner) and the amazing new blog-mates I have met through the February Blog Hop, which pushed me to analyze and develop my social media skills over the past month!

Grow Your Blog Image

  • Last but not least – my friends and family, who come out to cheer me on, who put up with my endless running stories, and who wait for me to finish long training runs. You are truly amazing!

#YearoftheHalf

I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store. I’ve designated 2015 the ‘Year of the Half’, when I will focus primarily on the half marathon distance (or shorter). I look forward to sharing more race reports, hosting a few giveaways (look for one coming soon!), networking with a whole lot more bloggers, and making many new connections.

Thank you for celebrating YEAR 1 with me!

– Bradley

What do you enjoy about my blog? Is there anything I could do to improve it? I welcome feedback and suggestions!

Disclaimer: While I generally like to write my race reports immediately following, this race was the start of a 3-week vacation, including both Hawai’i and Japan. I’ve had no access to a computer until now, but that means the time has finally come!

It started on a whim – the thought that I should challenge myself to my first marathon (i.e. 42 kilometres) the year I turned 42. The Honolulu Marathon was to be held just a week after my 42nd birthday, and in January 2014 I got an earlybird notice and was able to sign up for just $50! How could I say no? I ended up completing the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May – a ‘practice’ run – but Honolulu was the true goal. #42for42

We arrived in Honolulu on a direct flight from Vancouver on Friday night. Saturday morning’s errand was race package pickup at the Convention Centre, just a block from our hotel. The expo was extremely organized and efficient – bib pickup in under 5 minutes, and multiple vendors with everything from crafts to pain relief to running gear. I kept my shopping to a minimum but enjoyed myself nonetheless. See for yourself!

honolulu marathon honolulu marathonIMG_5351 mascots

The Honolulu Marathon starts exhaustingly early at 5am. Part of our hotel plan was to be close to the start line in Ala Moana, and we had some stunning views from our hotel balcony. This was the pre-race day sunset:

IMG_5376

I had set my alarm for 3:30am, but awoke even before that. First I checked the weather…um, rain? And then I looked out the window. People were already gathering, lining up for the toilets, and doing their warmups. I made my instant oatmeal, drank some peppermint tea, and pulled myself together before heading out into the dark morning.

IMG_5382 IMG_5383

Oh, the crowds! A total of 21,815 people finished the race, so I can only assume that a few more than that started. I found my spot, watched the crowds, squinted into the rain, and soon it was time to begin – with fireworks! Most exciting race start ever!

honolulu marathon honolulu marathon honolulu marathon honolulu marathon

Because this event is self-seeding, there were no corral restrictions. As such, while I seeded myself in the 3- to 4-hour corral, it was clear from guntime that many runners were not aiming to complete the race in 4 hours or less. Many people were running at a significantly slower pace, or even walking within the first kilometre or two. As such, I expended a good amount of energy over the first 5k dodging people (and puddles) to try to get up to a reasonable pace – I struggled to get below 6 minutes/km until the 4k mark.

The first 10k took us on a loop through Downtown Honolulu – which was fantastic due to all of the Christmas lights dotted through town – and then on to Waikiki. The main strip was remarkably crowded with spectators, given that it was only about 5:30am. There were a few drunken revellers who likely hadn’t been to bed yet (I got a very sloppy high 5 from one of them), but overall the crowd was simply there to cheer us on.

We rounded Kapiolani Park (where we would eventually complete the race) and then started the tough slog up and around Diamond Head – the ancient volcanic cone visible from Waikiki Beach (see photo below). This was probably my favourite moment of the race, and I hope I can describe it well enough to do it justice:  Diamond Head Road curves up and around the crater. All along this stretch were volunteers, mostly high school students, holding a long yellow police tape – one person every couple of metres. EVERY ONE of them was smiling, cheering, encouraging, high fiving – and creating the most positive, enthusiastic race energy I’ve ever experienced.

IMG_5372

Diamond Head from Waikiki during the day.

I chose to put #42fo42 and my Twitter account (@bjcjapan) on a bib on my back. Somewhere around 14km, a guy came up to me and asked if it was my 42nd marathon! I explained my philosophy of 42for42, and chatted with him about his marathon experience (he was from Oregon, currently living in Hawai’i, thought he’d give the race a go). Unfortunately, I never got his bib number, so I wasn’t able to see how he did in the end!

After a few twists and turns through residential neighbourhoods, we found ourselves at the 20km mark on Highway 1 heading east. And that’s when the real weather began – the rain started coming down in sheets, and the wind (from the east!) buffeted us. It was a tough slog. At one point, I thought I felt something really heavy in my left pocket (my iPhone was in my right pocket…), but then I realized it was just my soaking wet shorts slapping against my leg. THAT’s how wet it was!

Even before reaching the halfway point, the lead runners came towards us, on their way back from the out-and-back loop around Hawai’i Kai, a good 15km ahead of me and those around me. Though dripping wet, they looked like they were flying – simply amazing. I love it when a race route allows you to see what the true professionals look like when they’re doing what they do best!

The Hawai’i Kai loop (kms 25-29) took us through some more residential neighbourhoods, where the locals were out in full force, and offering up pretzels, snacks, oranges, and the like. The community spirit was amazing – and while the weather continued to be very damp, I couldn’t help but smile (or grimace? Hard to be sure).

honolulu marathon

Hawai’i Kai – and rainy mountains all around

And then we were back on the freeway – and now we were seeing all the runners and walkers coming from behind. Costumes, great enthusiasm – even a couple who ballroom danced the entire route (it took them 11 hours!) – followed by one of the best rainbows I’ve ever seen! Turning towards the ocean, we ran by some beautiful homes and estates – at this point, a woman approached me about #42for42 – again assuming that this was my 42nd marathon! I guess the Americans can be forgiven, though, as they would see the marathon as 26.2 (miles, of course)!

honolulu marathon

A ray of hope!

At 39k the return ascent over Diamond Head started, and I truly thought I wasn’t going to make it. My reserves were very low, despite having stopped at every water and gel stop along the way. I had long since given up on the idea of improving on my Vancouver Marathon time, but suddenly it occurred to me that I might not make it to the finish line at all. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to bursting into tears during a race, and probably the longest 2 kilometres of my life. At this moment, I determined I would never again run another marathon.

honolulu marathon

And then I was there. Finish line. Cool shower. Puka shells. Sweet treats. Finisher T-shirt. Medal. So happy. Wearing my Honolulu Marathon finisher shirt around town and having total strangers congratulate me – and likewise congratulating others wearing their shirts! This is what it’s all about – and why #42for42 was an unequivocal success!

honolulu marathon honolulu marathon

And will I run another marathon? We’ll just have to wait and see…

Final results

Chip time: 4:14:24
Average pace: 6:01 min/km
Place overall: 2188/21815
Age category place: 259/1302

honolulu marathon

During our run a few weeks back, I asked Bob if he’d be willing to write a guest post for me about his experiences at the 2014 New York City Marathon (NYC Marathon). I’m so pleased that he agreed to share his story!

NYC Marathon
The morning started out at a cool 7 degrees Celsius with a very strong wind. We headed to our respective athlete villages where we could eat, drink and line up for porta-potties. At 10:07 wave 2 began our long 26.2-mile journey to Central Park amongst the excited chatter of every language!
NYC Marathon
Crossing the Verrazano Bridge on the lower deck was a real tough challenge due to the strong winds. All I could hear over the roar of the wind was the constant flapping of the runners’ bibs. The sight of the women’s long hair blowing out sideways was impressive. It was even difficult to run upright or in a straight line. The wind let up a bit after the bridge, so about 4km in I discarded my throwaway sweatshirt but kept on my gloves. The crowd support throughout the race was amazing and it was interesting to see the different ethnicities in the five different boroughs. I ran the whole race along the side high-fiving the women and children mostly.
NYC Marathon
The finish line in Central Park came up suddenly after I noticed everyone in front of me had stopped running. After 4:29:45 the NYC Marathon was over. I just had to endure a long walk to get the poncho amidst the yells of “You’re almost there!” (which I heard all morning). What a great experience!
NYC Marathon
Congratulations, Bob! Awesome race – and such an amazing experience! I continue to be inspired by all the runners I have met through my time at Forerunners!

Chicago Marathon

I’m very pleased to welcome my third guest blogger and fellow Forerunner (and pace group leader) to share her experience of the Chicago Marathon! Lucy – I’m so proud of you! You can follow Lucy on Twitter here: @candyaficionado 

CHICAGO MARATHON 2014

Hello everyone! My name is Lucy and I was invited by Bradley to write a guest blog on my 2014 Chicago Marathon experience. As I am writing this, it is Wednesday morning. I am finally able to walk up and down sets of stairs without feeling as though I require the support of a cane.

Without further ado, here is my full race review/report:

Pre-Race/Race Expo

And what a race expo it was! The organizers had free shuttles running to/from the expo from 3 different locations in downtown Chicago. When we arrived, it was by far the largest and most well-organized one I have been to. Despite the majority of the 45,000 participants descending upon the convention centre, I didn’t have to wait to get my race shirt or bib. They checked me in at one spot and by the time I was re-directed to a second person, they were already greeting me by name and handing me by bib.

Call me easily amused, but I was impressed by the fact that these volunteers were not scrambling to find and cross out my name using a manual list and highlighter. The shirt itself is mediocre. While it fit nicely, the design was somewhat lackluster. Oh well, at least it is wearable and not a crazy neon colour.

Chicago Marathon

Race Day

I woke up at 5am. The first thing I did was throw on some clothes and run across the street to the Starbucks that just opened because my hotel didn’t have a coffeemaker or kettle to make hot water (another story altogether). My pre-race ritual consists of having a cup of instant Maxwell House coffee (not any other brand) and a full PowerBar (the original kind that looks like dog food). I was slated to meet two friends and fellow Forerunners, MH and JH, at an adjacent hotel at 6:40am so I had plenty of time to get ready, go to the bathroom, etc.

At 6:35 am, we walked over to MH and JH’s hotel. They arrived shortly afterwards and after some photos in our pre-race garb, we set out to flag down a cab to take us to the start line. Boy, was flagging down a cab an experience in itself! No one wanted to stop for us. I am still not sure why to this day, maybe because they did not want to drive in and around the road closures? MH finally jumped out in front of a cab stopped at a red light and pleaded for him to take us. The cabbie agreed and less than 10 minutes and 10 dollars later, we arrived at the entrance of the race start line at Grant Park.

The Start Line

After running frantically to get to gear check and going through a few security checkpoints, we finally got arrived at Corral D at approximately 7:15am. I should advise any future Chicago marathon runners that race staff were VERY strict runners being in their assigned corrals. We pretty much saw one runner getting tackled by security after trying to sneak into Corral D from one that starting at 8am instead.

The atmosphere at the start was great. The weather was perfect that morning. It was dry, crisp, with the sun starting to peek out. The starting gun went off at 7:30am. Even though we were in corral D, the flow of the runners moved quickly and we crossed the starting line at around 7:37am (Sun Run, take note). Just as we started running, we ran into another Forerunner, JL! JL quickly filled us in on his pre-race adventures, including a missed flight. Glad to see he made it after all.

I should mention here also that I decided to bypass the port-a-potty at the start as the lineups were huge. Not the best idea since I realized that I did have go after all. Oh well, I thought. Mind over matter for the next 3.5 hours or so.

The Course

The race started. Anyone who has done Chicago will tell you that the crowd support is beyond amazing. The entire city comes out to cheer the runners on and you feel like a complete rock star. Part of me wishes I knew more about each of the neighbourhoods we passed through to take it all in and describe it. I did remember one cheering section in the neighbourhood of Boystown where the a group of men were juggling white rifles up, down, sideways-as though they were tossing around cheerleaders. I was impressed once again.Chicago Marathon

Like described, the marathon route is flat with the exception of a few minor inclines going up to street bridges. Although I am sure it helped me with my final time, I couldn’t help but feel during the race that I was losing momentum at times because it was so flat. There were several times during the race that I had to consciously remind myself to speed up because I would start settling into a slower pace.

The final 7km were tough – as it is in any marathon. I knew I wasn’t far as the skyscrapers were coming into view again, but still another 30+ minutes away. The final 800 metres felt the longest. First, I thought a jumbo TV screen was the finish line from afar. Instead, there was another turn after this, along with small hill that felt like Everest when your mind already thought you had reached the end. I am still convinced that race directors plant inclines purposefully near finish lines.

My final time clocked in at around 3:41:53! Definitely a personal best and I can legitimately say now that I can lead a 3:40 pace group. Oh and I forgot about having to go to bathroom about 10km in. So, it can be done! (But still not recommended.)

Post-Race

Most of us met up to recount our race experience at the Goose Island Brewery and Pub. It was great hearing everyone’s stories. Although we all travelled separately to the race, I had a lot of fun getting to know everyone just a bit better from this trip. From speaking to everyone, no one had any regrets, personal best or not.

That’s it from Chicago for now! Thank you Bradley for asking me guest blog – I hope I did an adequate job!

Chicago Marathon

You did an awesome job – writing and running! You’re an inspiration, Lucy! Thank you!

– Bradley

Remember when I told you that I was a fan of running in the rain? Well, for the first 10k of this morning’s run, I was very much ready to retract everything I said before.

Last week, I asked Coach Carey what my training should look like in the lead up to Honolulu (now a mere 10 weeks away). 27k this week was the answer.

We gathered at Forerunners on Saturday morning – those of us not running Victoria or Chicago. (NOTE: expect a guest blog on Chicago coming soon!) Today was a true hodge-podge, depending on what each individual was in the midst of training for. We had people running all of these distances: 15k, 18k, 25k, 27k, 33k, and 36k. So while I wasn’t running quite as far as some…

Until February of this year, I had never run further than a half marathon distance (21.1km). The first time I ran 27km was March 1, 2014. Each long run after that, leading up to the BMO Marathon, was a ‘furthest run ever’. This spring was truly an era of firsts. But after that first marathon (May 2014), my distances dwindled. So this training run of 27km was, once again, a bit of a first; it was the first time I’ve run 27km in over 5 months. And as part of a comeback from injury, I’m pretty proud of that.

But I digress. We were gathered at Forerunners, getting prepped on the various routes to reach out goals, and the rain was pouring down outside. Not just a light drizzle – coming down in buckets. I had my iPhone wrapped in a Ziploc to keep it dry. It’s true we’ve been spoiled for the last few months with almost perfect weather, but that seems to be over. So off we went, and within minutes my shoes were squishing and I was drenched.route

Our route took us along Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks, up the UBC hill to where Coach Carey was waiting with his water stop and beach umbrella at kilometre 9. To get my distance in, I had to do a loop around the campus, and back to the same spot where Carey waited for us. And somewhere along the way, the sky turned blue. Given that my phone was wrapped in plastic, I didn’t take a photo – but you can imagine a huge puddle on the sidewalk, reflecting fluffy white clouds against a sunlit sky. That’s what it turned into.

For about 15km of the 27km, I was on my own. Because we weren’t a big group, and since everyone had their own goal distance, we were all slightly at different paces. And since I had to make a bathroom break (OK – two bathroom breaks), I was a bit out of sync with the others. I didn’t have any music, and it didn’t matter. I just enjoyed the scenery, thought about this and that – and enjoyed my run.

Happily, I was able to run with Bob for a few kilometres during my UBC loop, and I also ended up with some company on the last 5km or so back to the store, although I had to tack on a couple of extra kilometres at the end to get my numbers. I completed my running drills and finished feeling – energized! Still damp, to be sure, but happy.

And then I bought a Garmin. Stay tuned for more reports on my new toy!

Honolulu, here I come!

garmin

2009runningpic

Early Days – April 2009

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

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

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

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

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

photo 1photo 4photo 3

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

photo 2

Look how excited I am!