Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon event review and race recap!

I need to start by praising the organizers for the fantastic pre-race communication. Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon info emails started rolling in ten days before the race and I’d received five, including this exceeds-expectations weather update, by the Friday before!

much appreciated! The forecast was for 36 celsius!

On Friday I drove to Terrace to fly to Vancouver, then on Saturday morning I picked up my rental car and hit the road to North Bend!! Including picking up the car and the wait at the border, it took four hours. Easy.

Package pick up was at the Nike factory store. It was easy to get to and a quick process! The actual bag we got is sweet and was perfect for a gear check bag. It zippers closed with another smaller zipper pocket and a Jack & Jill logo. Runners also received a race buff, which I think is the greatest thing ever! The race shirt is a unisex-style tank (see later in a finish photo) and it’s NICE! There were pace tattoos (which proved to be extremely valuable) and I grabbed one from the 3:35 pile. I was given a small ziplock bag for my tunnel flashlight and my bib number was written on it for me. Other than that, there wasn’t a bunch of random stuff to recycle like at big expos, just a little race pamphlet with info and maps. One thing I forgot was to get a B12 shot, which were apparently available for free! Dang. There was race clothing for sale outside of the store too, but a buff and tank is more than enough for me.

I was in and out and then headed to my AirBnB! It was just a few minutes away from the factory stores, and also just a three minute drive from Tollgate Park parking lot, which is where runners park before getting on the shuttles to the start line. Joan’s place, was perfect for race weekend accommodation and you should stay here! She was great!

I was avoiding “stuff” – I seem to become more of a minimalist with each marathon. I decided against headphones, which also meant I didn’t need to carry my phone. I opted for no sunglasses (good choice, not needed πŸ‘Œ) and I committed to walking through aid stations to take full advantage, therefore eliminating my worry about whether or not I should bring a handheld water bottle. My Nakd bars and Endurance Tap gels fit in the SpiBelt and I was good to go.

I wore my Altra Escalantes for this race, which are a pretty minimal shoe. I’m telling you this because the organizers advise to wear something more substantial, but I didn’t have a second thought about my favourite shoes while running the marathon! No issues at all.

Since I had a pretty late lunch, for “dinner” I had bananas, Nuun, a sea salt bagel and a chocolate protein shake. Then it was bedtime! Time for some fake sleeping!

My alarm woke me up at 3:30, I ate my oatmeal and raisins, drank a bunch of Nuun and geared up. A long-sleeved throwaway shirt was totally sufficient but I’m glad I brought it – it wasn’t that warm yet pre-race! My shuttle time was 5:05 (assigned on the bib) and I left the house around 4:40 for the very short drive to Tollgate Park. The parking situation seemed totally under control. It was dark but there were tons of volunteers with flashlights directing us and I was parked and getting on my bus within five minutes.

Our driver wasn’t sure where to go once it was almost time to exit the freeway towards the starting area… I still don’t actually know if he was joking or not but we all knew which exit and how to proceed thanks to pre-race emails!!

Twenty porto-potties (Honey Buckets πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚/😷😷) plus the actual park restroom facility made for lots of toilets, but more would have been better. Close to start time, the lineups were pretty long. That being said, there was lots of bush everywhere to squat in if it came down to it as we were in a park in the forest, after all.

my bus companion, Paul from Wisconsin! It was his birthday!

I planned to use the Race Screen app (data screen) in miles so I could manually lap at some of the mile markers. The tunnel is known to screw with GPS so it was the perfect solution for that, plus not running the tangents ideally has messed me up in the past with overall pace, and this would help with that too! Except that my Garmin went haywire and changed back to kilometers without telling me! I tested it the night before and it was doing everything I wanted!

So, I was running with a screen that showed distance in kilometers, but pace (over the last 30 seconds) in minutes/mile, giving me split times in minutes/kilometer, but on all other data screens showing the distance in miles!!! Ya I’m confused even trying to explain that. The old me would have lost it, but I really couldn’t have cared less!

The race started after the American national anthem. We ran for less than a kilometer on an uneven and loose gravel stretch, and then right into the tunnel! It was dark, cool and echoey.

the Snoqualmie Tunnel!

The ground inside was much better – solid with just a few puddles here and there, but runners called out to those behind them to watch out. Because the floor of the tunnel is kind of domed, it was only really suitable to run about three across. This was perfect because it wasn’t too squishy and there was room to pass if needed. The tunnel felt really short to me but in reality it was over 4km long! So cool! Near the end, it got light enough that I was able to put my flashlight into the ziplock I was carrying long before it was time to toss it into the light collection bucket. Perfect.

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It was in the tunnel that I discovered my watch was being a freak. I decided to run by feel with those around me (we started around where the 3:35 pacer would have been..if there was one..) and then just see what happened once we were out of the tunnel. I had my pace tattoo if my watch fully betrayed me anyway!

Once out of the tunnel, the pacing on my Garmin seemed a bit erratic, but the kilometer split times made sense. I trusted it, but I also consulted the tattoo at every mile marker, comparing it to the “time elapsed” screen on my watch. This is the first time I’ve ever used a pace band and it was awesome! I am sold.

The rest of the course is a very mild downhill on an old gravel road which is the John Wayne Trail and the last part, the Snoqualmie Trail. The surface wasn’t bad at all but it’s worth noting that there were some parts that were fairly loose and rocky. I spent a lot of time with my eyes down, watching where my feet would be landing. But, when I wasn’t looking at the ground, the course was GORGEOUS!!!

not my pic, snagged from the race’s FB page

I had forgotten to switch my wedding rings to my silicone Qalo ring, but instead of letting that bother or worry me, I used it as a way to monitor hydration even closer than I would have and it really worked out for me! When I’m dehydrated my fingers majorly swell. It’s so uncomfortable, especially when wearing a metal ring, so I stayed perpetually aware of my hands and stopped at every single aid station to drink at least one full cup of water, sometimes two. This race is definitely the smartest I’ve ever been with respect to fueling and hydration.

There was an aid station with at least two volunteers every two miles after we came out of the tunnel, just before or after the odd mile markers. I found this to be perfect. More are always better, but there was no time where I found myself thinking they were too far apart. This race was very well aided!

At half way, I was almost two minutes ahead of the pace band. I had been monitoring my stomach and it was a good time to stop at a washroom. There aren’t many toilets along the course because there is no way to get them on to the trail. Like I said before though, in an emergent situation you could probably hide and squat anywhere along the entire course. I was quick and kept going, happy and thankful my gut wasn’t cramping up like it often does post-pit-stop.

After 16 miles, I now had to work harder to focus and stay in it. I’d already been stopping at every aid station to hydrate, but in the last third of the race I definitely had to divide and conquer my way to each station and stopping for water was also a rest. I had packed a tiny vial of peppermint oil inside my top and when I remembered it was there I was pumped. I rubbed it all over my arms and collar bones and the cool tingling seemed to keep my mind and body connected.

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My main mantra for this race was “Fluid, Focused, Fearless” but I also tapped into many of the other things that I pre-planned to focus on when it got more difficult. I thought of:

  • my friends at Ironman Canada in Whistler that same day
  • my friend Anthony who I met at the CIM expo, my friends Laura, Jeph, Steph, Karmen & Adam, and my Rupert Runners crew
  • Coach Andrew reminding me that racing is like boxing – we don’t give up from a couple “hits”. During multiple hard parts I thought, “that was just a little slap” or “one shot to the head can’t take me down“, etc.
  • the strong 10k I ran at the Tyhee Triathlon, when I was very tired, hot and my legs felt like wood
  • my favourite pro, Jordan Hasay
  • the author of Beyond Grit, Cindra Kamphoff
  • the Haida shield that I won the previous weekend, which was in my pocket!
  • my friend Owen and our favourite scene from Schitt’s Creek , which I added on to my mantra, now making it “Fluid, Focused, Fearless. Fold it in!!” HAHAHAHAH.

Why am I telling you all these things? Because it matters. A marathon is a long fuckin race and we need to be armed with perspective shifters, motivators and contingency plans!

The last ~8k of the race were very hard for me, but marathons are hard. Duh. At this point I knew I was too off pace to finish under 3:35, but I was well within breaking 3:40! Ladies and gentleman, the purpose of subsequent goals! I walked for a few seconds multiple times and pep talked myself to keep moving forward! A women who I saw many times (we kept passing each other whenever the other was regrouping) encouraged me and I’m so grateful for that! There was also a spectator who shouted at me in the final stretch “ALRIGHT OISELLE, SWING THOSE ARMS AND FINISH IT!” and I listened!!! Hell yeah, the power of the VolΓ©e team gear! Thank you, random man!

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My last mile was strong! Got back to goal pace and finished it off. Crossing the finish line, like in any marathon, was pure joy!

Cold wet towels were handed out right after medals were hung around our necks and those were heavenly! It was so sunny and beautiful out (and VERY hot by now) and it was such a fun vibe at the finish area!

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There were mini computers to sign up for next year’s race, screens to check chip times, race apparel for sale, snacks, hydration, photo opp spots, plus the super easy gear check retrieval. The volunteers who got my flashlight and gear bag for me were kids and they were so sweet!

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of course I wish I could have also held up the BQ sign, but I will eventually!

The finish line is a bit further than where we parked at Tollgate Park. There was a shuttle back to the parking lot and it was easy, short and fun.

I loved this event and I honestly couldn’t even think of any feedback to send when they requested it by email. Bus driver school? The organizers are obviously doing a great job, this race runs on both Saturday AND Sunday because of the popularity!

Although I missed the BQ by two and a half minutes, I am not disappointed in any way. I couldn’t have asked for more on this day! The weather was great and the temperature manageable, I ran what I’d consider my second strongest marathon (after CIM), I had fun and didn’t hit the wall or go to the dark place! Also, I discovered some new things about myself as a marathoner! I can:

  • efficiently utilize aid stations instead of carrying an annoying handheld
  • handle unexpected things like a cray Garmin
  • effectively use a pace band
  • coach myself into pushing for the B goal when the A goal has slipped away

PUMP up the JAMmie is not over. This training cycle was fantastic! Coach Andrew has helped me take over AN HOUR off of my first marathon time from May 2016, which was 4:40:50! I’ve been asked if I’ll try again to BQ before the 2019 Boston registration opens in September, but the answer is no. It’s time for a break, and then to continue my journey with Lifelong Endurance! Boston 2020 will be mine!

Conveniently, my qualifying time for Boston 2020 changes to sub 3:40. I will be thirty-five come Patriot’s Day 2020! I’m still going to chase a sub-3:35 though. Keep ya posted!

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2018 Tyhee Lake Triathlon!

This was my second time taking part in the Tyhee Lake Triathlon, and my second triathlon ever. Last year I completed the sprint distance and this year I came to tackle the Olympic distance. That day last year, I decided this was the best endurance event I’d ever experienced in Northern BC, and this year that decision was totally solidified!

The Tyhee Lake provincial park is AWESOME. Some may not think that camping is ideal for race weekend accommodations, but the campsite is beautiful, well-maintained, and there are showers and some flush toilets as well as standard outhouses. It was so nice to be staying AT the event.

On Saturday morning I woke up at six and saw that Erin was already awake. Immediate excitement!!! We ate breakfast right away (I had granola, a Happy Planet chocolate protein smoothie and a banana with peanut butter) and then started to get organized and go to the bathroom 500 times. Check-in/bike check was all going down from 7:45-8:30 and then the Olympic distance event started at 9:30, so we had lots of time.

Triathlon morning, I’ve come to learn, has way more stuff than running race morning! I gathered:

  • goggles, cap, earplugs
  • wetsuit
  • sunglasses, SpiBelt with a Clifbar and an Endurance Tap gel
  • water bottle with Skratch Labs powder
  • helmet
  • bike (duh)
  • runners, socks, hat, BodyGlide

On my body I was already wearing my new Smashfest Queen triathlon shorts (LOVE), sports bra and Garmin, which would go under the wetsuit for the swim and then stay on me for both the bike and run.

Erin and I went down to the event area (giant parking lot) with just our bikes to check-in, get our race numbers and swag-bags and then line up for the mandatory bike check. I got a fresh new bright yellow swim cap since I’d be wearing a full wetsuit and the number written on my arms and legs wouldn’t be visible until after the first transition. I love free shit ahahaha.

After our bikes were given the once-over we found a spot on the racks in the transition area to hang them up. Then we went back to our site to get the rest of the gear and set up our towels beneath our bikes with everything needed after the swim. A helpful tip I remembered from last time was to put my sunglasses and SpiBelt inside my helmet so forgetting them couldn’t happen.

At 9:15, I got into the lake to swim around and try to get the initial nerves out. I put my face in and blew bubbles slowly, swam a short distance out and back and just hung out in the water for a bit. I really didn’t want to have the swimming anxiety today!

the Piranhas

Ali, the amazing race director, did the countdown on the mic and we were off. I didn’t feel nervous and was prepared to start slow and get into it. No freaking out was happening and I wasn’t hyperventilating or anything, but I couldn’t seem to swim more than a few strokes without needing to breast stroke and try to slow down my breath and heart. Maybe it was just adrenaline. Anyways, I wasn’t worried and just kept going forward, and once I reached the second buoy (500m) I felt almost normal. At the completion of the 750m triangle, we had to stand and go around a cone before continuing for the second lap. Here, I knew I was good to go.

The second 750m went by in the blink of an eye and it was fun swimming hard and confidently in the final 250m!! 1500m33:09

Wearing silicone earplugs seemed to really help (thanks for the tip, Rheannon) because normally when I get out from an open water swim I am SO dizzy and nauseated. I got up the grassy hill to the transition area without issues and saw my friends from Telkwa cheering along the way! Wetsuit removal went smoothly and into my bag I chucked my cap, goggles and earplugs. Quickly dried my feet, threw on my socks, shoes, sunnies and Spibelt, fasted the helmet and un-racked my bike. Wooooo!

I don’t do a ton of cycling, that’s for sure and forty kilometers felt kinda long. It was very tiring, but it was so enjoyable! The bike course is gorgeous. It’s a rolling road and you can see the lake, cows and beautiful countryside. I ate a Clifbar immediately and then stuck with my bottle of Scratch for the rest of the ride for fuel and hydration. Quite a few people passed me on the ride, but I didn’t care; I was already stoked for the run! Sorry to the girl who I told my vagina hurt πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Coming back to the transition area upon completion of the bike segment is great because it’s downhill. 40k1:35:18

After I re-racked my bike and removed my helmet and belt, I grabbed an Endurance Tap, threw on my hat and got back out there for my favourite part! I don’t have the clip-in cycling shoes so didn’t have to do a shoe change. I’ll get those eventually..

My legs felt better than last year, that’s for sure! After spilling half my Endurance Tap down one leg, I told myself to just get the first kilometer done before making any judgements about how I felt. The first split is ~25m gain (the big hill that was so lovely at the end of the bike), which is brutal coming out of the transition!! I saw Corey on this hill and we agreed it was a cruel joke ahaha. After that, I felt okay and kept chugging forward. I took water at the first two stations and again at the third where there were sponges as well. I stopped for a sec to properly drink a cup of water and get a sponge. This was somewhere in kilometer four and I had to tell myself to suck it up and do this.

I wasted some time in kilometer four…

Erin and Shannon both passed in the opposite direction before I reached the 5k turnaround and it was so uplifting to see my friends!!! I started to feel really good and even though it was hot and sunny, I realized I did not give a F.

I passed a couple of people, including some burly men and it was pumping me up. At the turnaround, I got another sponge and got in the fuckin zone.

I passed more people in the second half of the run and was feeling like a million dollars, running on gumby legs or what Shannon calls meat sticks lololol. My legs were moving fast underneath me and my arms were swinging. I felt great!!! I saw Jessie and Matt too: all Piranhas accounted for!

I caught up to Shannon and her flowing hair and we crossed the finish line together, under three hours!!! What an amazing feeling!!!! My time for the run was actually the fastest women’s run time!! 10k (though my watch shows it a bit short..) : 50:48

reunited with Erin, who got 2nd place in our category and 3rd overall for women!

also reunited with Corey!

Cheryl got 3rd place in her category for the Sprint distance!!

Pippa and Ellen came for an impromptu duathlon! Ellen WON!

fking love this woman

This event is amazing! It’s so well-organized with great communication from the director. There is so much support on the course, especially for the swim and the run. The location is perfect and so is the vibe, it’s relaxed and not hard-core and intimidating. The swag bags are unreal! Afterwards, there is a delicious barbecue, tons of prizes and a beautiful lakefront to hang out at with friends/family while listening to the awards!

I’m so grateful that my friend Breeann encouraged me to take part in my first triathlon here at Tyhee lake just one year ago. I now LOVE triathlon! Seriously, I love it as much as I love running I think! Ironman 2021 (when I’m done school and can train), mark my words!!

I highly encourage you to consider participating in this event next year if you live in the area or will be nearby. There are various distances, including the “try-a-tri” which includes a 300m swim, 10k bike and 3k run.

This was one of my favourite days of my life and I’m thirty-three years old! I think it’s safe to say that the Tyhee Lake Triathlon is FANTASTIC!!! Thank you, Ali and all the volunteers who make this happen!

Scotiabank Vancouver Half & 5k!

I’ll start with the fact that I really LOVED this event! Since the week prior I was sick as a dog, I wasn’t too sure how it would go, but by the time race day came around I felt a lot better and my Friday and Saturday runs felt good. I wasn’t worried.

Bib/shirt pick-up was fast and easy at the Vancouver Convention Centre and the expo was very small. We were in and out within just a few minutes. I actually like the t-shirt and will wear it in real life after I take it in at the bottom. Why do shirts flare out at the bottom!?!?! It’s pretty plain but I love me a white t-shirt!

In the afternoon I managed to get in a SOLID nap. For dinner, we went to a Japanese restaurant and I stuck with a safe meal of edamame, tofu and rice. I also avoided sugar all day with the help of Karmen. Once I laid out all my gear for the next day, it was early to bed.

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By morning, I decided to go with minimal clothing. My fear of being hot is very real ahaha. I love the new Tracksmith crop that Karmen picked up for me when she was in Boston for the marathon, but it needs a bra underneath and two layers on a warm day was terrifying! It was Global Sports Bra Squad Day anyway, so I stuck with just a Lulu Energy Bra. I’m so glad I didn’t wear a shirt, I would have actually died.

I was up at 5:20, then left the house around 6:15 to meet my buddy Kelly (who killed his first half marathon in under two hours) and share a cab to UBC. The starting area is by Thunderbird and it was an easy place to get dropped off, as well as a really good area for a race to start! I managed to get in line for the bathroom before it got crazy. In my opinion there weren’t enough toilets. They were in small groups in different spots here and there I think? Anyways. So many great places to warm up like along Main Mall! I did a jog, drills and strides. Today I felt relaxed and calm about the race.

I got into the red corral around 7:20 and saw my friend Thai and some of his November Project Vancouver crew while waiting for the race to start. Then we were off! Here’s the profile:

My general plan was to run the first 7k at ~ 4:59/km. After 7k is when the giant downhill starts happening. I was a tiny bit fast at first in the initial 3k downhill, but I held back, and then a little slow on some of the following uphill splits for the next 4k. It didn’t matter, it all evened out and I was at a 4:59 average pace after 7k!

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I felt very patient and relaxed and tried to keep my heart rate in check. People around me were huffing and puffing and wheezing after just a few kilometers! It was already getting warm.

The next part of the plan was to run kilometers 8-12 around a 4:57/km pace. I tried to stay in the shade and felt VERY thankful that I decided to bring my handheld Nathan. Still, I took water at every aid station except the first. Somewhere in kilometer 8 I took a gel and it sat fine.

At times I had trouble running that ~4:57 pace. It felt easier to either relax into ~5:05/km, or to pick it up and flow around ~4:50/km; I couldn’t seem to find the middle. If it had been cool out, I would have taken a chance and just ran in the low 4:50s. But it was warm and I was afraid of burning out. Regardless, this 5k section went well!

My next section was 13-17k. Another 5k chunk that I wanted to run around 4:56/km. In kilometer 13 there is a short hill from Marine Drive up on to 4th and it was hard! I also didn’t want to send my heart rate buckwild. A downhill followed and I regrouped. Aside from the split with the hill, good section!

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having fun!

This next part of the course I just wanted to put forward my best effort until reaching the crest of the Burrard Street Bridge, which counts as home free in my books. Turning up Maple Street was challenging; I was now hot and tired, but the end was near! It was time to tackle the bridge. I saw East Van Run Crew at the turn off of Cornwall onto the bridge and ripped open my mocha Humagel hoping to add to the boost of seeing them. The bridge didn’t feel hard back in 2016 during the Vancouver Marathon, but I wasn’t running that race with any goal but completion. This was tough! It’s about a kilometer long, uphill with zero shade! I ignored my watch, swung my arms and smiled, and I might have been running with my eyes closed LOL.

The crest of the bridge is at 19k. Two kilometers left. I told myself every second counts and to run 2000m on downhill/flat with heart and caffeine. I was hurting and definitely didn’t have the best energy, but I was able to spin my legs for a 4:40 and 4:38 in 20 and 21, respectively.

At the 21k marker I had a thought..“fuck, am I gonna be that person who hits the deck in the last hundred meters?” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ WTF brain!?!?! But I saw Karmen and Adam and thankfully made it! Thirty-three seconds shy of my sub-1:45 goal, but still a personal best!!! I can’t wait to run a cold Fall half marathon!

Kilometer 21!

I’ve always said I hate and suck at running in the heat. Not today mofo.

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Official time: 01:45:32. Good old Strava tells me that for 21.1k, I ran 01:44:29. Too bad tangents are a thing haha. I’ll get my real life sub-1:45 soon, I know it!

After crossing the finish I switched bibs (thank you, Adam!) and jogged the 5k race for a cool down and some extra mileage.

I also wanted another medal. Look, they’re big!

Karmen, Adam, Jess and I found each other and then we ran into Steph, who won the 5k! Quick pic, retrieved my gear bag that I checked at UBC, and then it was time for a shower and FOOD. We walked home along Pacific and got to support the half marathoners who were still coming in. This is also a section of the Vancouver Marathon and it brought back memories of 2016!!

Epic meal time today took place at the Twisted Fork on Granville. Banana-stuffed french toast with syrup and whipped cream? Yes fking please.

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half & 5k weekend was AWESOME!!! Yes, it’s bound to be hot, being a late June event, but the course is awesome (yet a little misleading at a glance) and I friggin LOVE running in Vancouver! This course is beautiful! The scenery is amazing and even though the Burrard Bridge is one of the hardest parts, it’s so gorgeous running over bridges!!! I would have liked to see at least a couple more water stations, especially considering the history of the weather at this event, but the aid stations were by no means scarce. I just think a few more would make a huge difference. There was some great spectator support and the finish area in Stanley Park is fantastic!! Sweet medals, decent shirt, and perfect start and finish areas! You should run this race next year! πŸ™‚

I’m just over four weeks out from the marathon. Yes, a faster half marathon time would be a huge confidence booster, but I still feel very happy that I wasn’t affected by warm temperatures the way I thought I would be. Also, it’s comforting to keep in mind that I am running a downhill marathon for a reason; to support my goal. I feel good and I’m excited!!!! Peeaaaace.

2018 BMO Vancouver 1/2 Marathon!

Wooooo!! What a sweet weekend!

First of all, no travel delays! Yay for spring! I got to Vancouver on Friday around five and after some catching up with my BFF, we went for ritualistic Thai food with Becca and Tanner. And laughed our balls off.

On Saturday I got out for my pre-race run, which I love! Lifelong Endurance always schedules 20:00 of easy running followed by strides (I did four). This always leaves me feeling fresh and ready to run at pace.

Later that day I went to the expo at the Convention Centre and it was BUSY. I was surprised I had to wait in line just to get into the exhibitor area. If you get to Vancouver before Saturday, go to the expo earlier! I believe it was open since Thursday. It took about twenty minutes in the line, and once inside I was efficient and grabbed my bib/packet, went through the chip checker and then straight to the race shirts. The shirts have a sweet course map on the back! Too bad the little volunteer accidentally gave me a men’s, but I will chop it into something I like. I went to the RUNVAN booth because they inboxed me on Instagram that they had a surprise for me! A $50 gift card to Mahoney’s!!!! So grateful! This expo is sweet! If I had been in the mood for shopping around and expo’ing hard, this would have been a really good expo to do so! Before I left I grabbed a free transit pass (best thing ever for race morning) and the famous blue BMO gloves!

At 3pm myself, Jess (@forminfocus) and Rita (@chopsticksdiary) were hosting the WeRunSocial meetup just outside the Convention Centre at the Olympic Cauldron. We were there for about forty-five minutes and got to chat with a dozen or so people about what they were racing the next day and how stoked everyone was. I wish we took our photo before some of the others had to go!

the R balloon blew away before I even got there!

Next, back to home base (Sarah’s) for hard chill time. Got my kit ready for the next day, ate way too much food (dumb) and went to bed early. Look at my number! Anyone who knows about yoga will love it! The weather was supposed to be warm (so for me, hot) so Volee crop seemed appropriate.

I got up on race morning at 4:15, ate my quick oats, drank some Nuun and got dressed. I skipped coffee this time to see how that would go. Around 5:30 I headed out on foot with my gear bag and transit pass and jogged to the Round House Skytrain station from Sarah’s in the West End. I packed a long sleeve, hoodie, toque (just in case) and protein bar. Half marathoners are instructed to get off the train at King Ed station and then volunteers tell everyone where to go. I joined the sea of people walking towards the start in Queen Elizabeth Park and stayed relaxed along the 10-ish minute walk.

Once at the start, I checked my bag right away at the UPS truck that corresponded to my corral colour (indicated on the bib), hit the porto-potties and got to my warm-up. I did ten minutes of easy jogging around the parking lot at Nat Bailey Stadium, then drills and strides, and lastly some light stretching and leg swings. Then it was time to go to the corrals!! I was a bit thirsty and forgot my Nuun bottle at Sarah’s when I left, so that had me a little irritated but I promised to take fluids at every single aid station and moved on with my life. Lol.

While walking to get into the corrals I look over and I’m basically walking with my friend Mary. She was like, “hey” as if we’d been together the whole time ahahah! We had a hug and a good luck, and parted ways. I found out later that Mary killed her first half marathon!!!

In the corral I felt nervous. I saw Steph (@anygivenrunday, who’s fast as lightning) and immediately thought, oh my God why am I in the yellow corral? But then I thought, shut the f*ck up, brain. I’m in this corral because it corresponds to my estimated finish time, and I am ready to run faster than that! (Registration was months ago, I wasn’t sand-bagging, my fitness is just better than it was when I signed up!)

Ditched the throw away shirt and it was go time. The first 3k of this race is a huge downhill. Everyone seems to run fast. My race plan corresponded to an A goal of 1:44:xx and a B goal of 1:45:xx (plus other subsequent goals), and the 1:45 AND 1:50 pace bunnies were running way faster than me and I could see them up ahead. I told myself to not get sucked in anymore than I probably already was and run my own race.

Once crossing the Cambie Street Bridge into downtown, I could have done a better job of dialing it back. I still stayed present and aware of my body, breathing and heart rate, but I should have slowed down a tad. After the section by Science World and the little out-and-back was done on Quebec Street, it was time to make the left turn onto Pender through China Town. I was reminded that even though that hill isn’t massive or anything, it’s still significant. I slowed down and tried to keep things under control, then once the hill came to an end I picked it up a bit. It was already getting challenging to keep pace and I was only around 8k.

I took my first gel and registered that what I considered “section one” was done. Right on. At the 10k mat it was starting to feel harder than it should, and my legs just did not want to run faster than 5:05-5:10/km so I did a little surge to jog their memory and it seemed to help. Once we got into Stanley Park the shade was great but I was once again reminded that running at effort on those hills is very challenging. The last time I ran this was back when I didn’t have much experience and I definitely didn’t have an eye on pace!

Anyways, I definitely felt my lack of sleep (I don’t think I slept well for at least a week before this) and this is where I really had to start negotiating with my mind. Keep pushing!! Fight for what you want! Around here is where I planned to take a second gel – the caffeinated one. I literally forgot! I didn’t even remember this until like an hour after the race!!! Such an unfortunate mistake, it likely would have helped SO much!! No wonder I was fading.

When we got out of Stanley park back onto the Seawall and into the sun, there were 5k to go. I commanded my body to just get uncomfortable and find a rhythm. It kinda worked, with some ups and downs, but I was running out of energy. Missing my gel probably had SO MUCH to do with it! Argh! Live and learn.

The transition from the Seawall back to pavement is on a path, and I vividly remember running this part of the race in 2014, where I got a huge energy boost. I dug as deep as I could, and it really helped to see my Volee teammate Annie and the East Van Run Crew at the 20km marker!!! I forced myself up Denman and around the left turn onto West Georgia. I am almost done!!!!! Slight left on to Pender…and then…I saw on my watch 1:43:xx…OMG! Go, go, go!!!!! I FORGOT THE FINISH STRETCH OF THIS COURSE IS SO. FUCKING. LONG!!!!! First I thought, get there for 1:44!!! But then I realized how far I still was from the finish arch and it wasn’t possible, so I said GET THE 1:45!!! This was the first race I can remember where I had nothing left for kicking it to the finish. I could NOT run faster. But I made it!!!! 1:45:49!!!! OVERJOYED! Someone had SCREAMED my name as I was coming down the fan zone and I later found out it was my old buddy Joe! Spectators are unbelievably motivating!!!

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I saw Steph almost immediately after getting my medal (and then again after getting my gear bag). She nailed her race! The medals are awesome and have the same course map on them as the event t-shirts. Love! I got a juice box, water and a banana and doddled my way out of the finisher’s area to the half marathon gear pick-up. I was tired, but felt fantastic! Should have grabbed a bag of chips, too.

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Eventually, Sarah and I found one another and had the best slow-walk back to her place in the sun, planning our brunch and beach day with my cousin-in-law Hannah.

The rest of the day was spent eating, lounging and then meeting up with my old boss, the legend Serge, for dinner on the Mahoney’s patio! Sarah and I took the Aqua Bus back home across False Creek and that was pretty much the perfect day.

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I wish I had made it back to the finishing area to cheer in the full marathoners but my legs and problem ankle were not willing. Congratulations to everyone who ran the 8k, half marathon and full marathon!!!!

Here’s how I made out:

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BMO Vancouver Marathon weekend is the shit! Vancouver is spectacular as it is, and the courses for each distance offered are beautiful, scenic routes. The expo is big and exciting, the swag is great and the entire event is extremely organized. It’s easy to get to the starting line via the Canada Line, which is key. There are more than enough aid stations, great crowd support and an exciting finish line and street festival! The medals are always cool, too! I haven’t run the 8k before, but both the half and full marathon courses are great; some challenging hills but majority flat or rolling.

I had a great day this Sunday, and an awesome overall weekend. The plan is to be back again next year to run one of the races, depending on what’s happening in my running and school life at that time!

What does this mean for Operation: PUMP up the JAMmie? It means I’m on track! Coach Andrew says we’re right where we should be at this point. Now for twelve weeks of very hard work! Thank you, Lifelong Endurance! Next check-in race: the Skeena River Relay on June 2nd with my team, the Gooeyducks! Talk soon.

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The 2018 Tenacious Ten!

Wooo!!! You probably know that I love being part of the Oiselle VolΓ©e. If you don’t know what that is…

“The VolΓ©e is a global community made up of women with diverse running backgrounds and competitive goals. We work hard to raise the bar in terms of how women support other women, fostering strength and leadership – not just through healthy competition, but in daily actions big and small. Our mission is to continue to build our sisterhood: one that is strong, supportive, passionate, and all in on a woman-up world.”

The Tenacious Ten is the like the biggest sisterhood gathering ever, and that’s one of the reasons I love this race! Of course you don’t have to be a member of the VolΓ©e to run the race, but a TON of the birds show up for this plus many other amazing women and men. Other reasons I love it are the beautiful and fast course, including the start and finish in the breathtaking Gas Works Park, and that it’s in Seattle. I friggin LOVE Seattle! I felt so ready for this race, thanks to Lifelong Endurance, and I was ready to run well and restore the faith after that gut bomb of a half marathon two weeks ago.

Packet pick-up was both Thursday and Friday from 11am-7pm. Bailey, Crystal and I hit the Watertown Hotel on the way into Seattle before going to our AirBnB. It was easy, fast and not busy. This year they had a Momentum Jewelry table, too. The race shirts are a red version of the Flyte tank, which is a top I already own and love. The hat for this year’s race is also sweet; it’s the same as my Oiselle baseball cap and I like it far more than the trucker version from last year. We got Picky Bars (yum, first time trying them) and the girls bought some Momentum stuff, and then we got going! Thursday night: Mexican food and chill. Friday morning: November Project. We spent the rest of Friday going to Pike Place and eating lots of food, before more food at a little Volee Canada dinner!

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On Saturday morning Bailey and I were drinking our coffee (black for me, no risks) by just after five. The others started to wake up and everyone started getting pumped, eating our preferred race-day breakfasts and suiting up. My final decision was black VolΓ©e crop, big blue new Portman shorts, Gibbler PROs, New Balance FuelCore Rush runners and Goodr sunglasses. This time around, I stuck to my quick oats with raisins and NOTHING else for breakfast.

I wore a warm jacket on top of my throw away shirt, plus some $1 gloves and planned to check them in my gear bag once it was time to warm up. It was surprisingly cold. Cold wind was blowing plus it was only 6:30 am when we left the apartment.

The event site opened at 6:30am and we were there by 6:45 for the eight o’clock start of both the 10k and 10 mile races. It was sweet because the porto-potties (or HONEY BUCKETS, as they call them there…gross!) had been locked overnight with zap straps and they were just clipping them off when we arrived so we got fresh toilets ahahah. Win!

The music started up and our lady crew met up with the rest of the Canada Volee, some of whom we’d also met up with the previous evening at JOEY University Village for dinner.

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wild Friday night!

Gas Works Park is so cool! So happy we all found one another easily in the morning! This race isn’t tiny like our local races at home, but it’s definitely not big. I think there were less than two thousand runners and it wasn’t difficult to find familiar faces.

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Just like last year, it was quick to check a gear bag early, but later on the line-up was long, so ditch your bag early! I checked my bag with my jacket and toque. My mitts I kept, and I’m glad because it was cold warming up and I ended up wearing them for three-quarters of the race.

I did five minutes of easy jogging and came back to the main area where we all joined in the warm-up led by Kinetic Sports Rehab. Then we had a short dance party to stay warm. Sally, the CEO of Oiselle, wanted in on the action with the Canadians.

I went for another five-minute jog (AND SAW KARA GOUCHER AND GOT A HUG) and then hit the grassy area between the start and finish chutes to do strides and stretches. By start time, I was warm and ready to run. Really, really glad I took the time to get my strides in! I ditched the long-sleeve up on some random old piece of gas plant equipment and was pretty sure it would still be there after the race (it was), but didn’t care as I brought it for a throw away.

This race doesn’t have corrals, but it does have a few pacers with signs based on pace/mile, not finish time. After the national anthem, Erin and I shuffled up towards the 8min/mile sign and it was almost time to go! I found my GPS signal with the new Garmin Forerunner 35 that I’m using as a back-up (no problems, great watch), and it was time to race!

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Lifelong Endurance gave me a fairly specific race plan as I requested and I was determined to stick with it. Here is the course we were working with; basically flat with a couple minor hills, mostly at the beginning.

The plan, as I mentioned in my training recap of last week, was:

  • First 5k: controlled (~5:04/km)
  • Second 5k: apply a little pressure (~4:58-5:00/km)
  • kms 11, 12, 13: tighten the screws (stay under 5:00/km)
  • the rest: progress to slay-mode (werk)

Never in my life have a stuck to a plan the way I stuck to this one! I am so fking proud of myself for being patient and mature from start to finish. I ran the first few hills super easy and made up for it during the rest of whatever kilometer I was in. I held back and stayed present. So good. Here’s how the splits went:

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I felt good the entire race. When it started to get more difficult to hold pace after about 10k, I stayed present and even said a few funny inside jokes from our girls’ weekend under my breath and it made me smile and remember how much I love this shit. Every once in a while I felt a bit hot so I unflapped the gloves I was wearing to let my hands get some air, but other than that my crop, shorts and compression socks turned out to be the perfect gear for the temperature and weather. Sunglasses were smart and helped me keep my face relaxed. I took water at all stations (I think I remember three or four?) and took a mocha HumaGel around 11km for a caffeine boost and it sat well. There is an out-and-back portion of the 10 mile course. Many people, including me, aren’t fans of out-and-backs, but just like in the BMO 1/2, this one is pretty short and it’s flat. I enjoyed seeing the leaders, including Kara Goucher, fly by in the opposite direction, and I also got to see most of my friends on course at one point or another! High fives and energy boosts.

right around the 9 mile marker! One mile left!

Once I’d run 13k it was time to turn it up, and then when I was on the Fremont Bridge with just one mile to go I really stepped on the gas. My patience was paying off. There were so many volunteers from November Project on course, and one lady who we met on Friday morning was at the final turn back into the park and she was just screaming and it was SO awesome ahah!! I passed a ton of people and literally flew across the finish line. Fuck yeah!

As soon as I finished I got to see Whitney! She crushed her first sub-1hr 10k! Nola also destroyed her 10k and was already done. Then in came the rest of the crew! Everyone met or surpassed their goals for the day! We all got our COWBELL medals (so sick), took pics and hugged the shit out of everyone!

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YEAHHH!!! My watch showed me a time of 01:19:01, which I was overjoyed about, but I was also hoping that the official chip time might be just under, and it was ahahah!

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So happy with this!!!!! And can’t believe I ran kilometer sixteen in 4:25 yahooo! Back in the area where we warmed up with Kinetic, there were donuts, apples, water and tunes. I met up with more friends from home who were down for the race, plus various Instagram buddies, including Jess (@forminfocus) who I’m hosting the We Run Social meetup with at BMO Vancouver in two weeks!

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Once I got my gear bag (the line wasn’t too long, I waited about five minutes in line) and got my warm clothes on (plus my throwaway shirt that I retrieved), I had lost my crew. My phone died too, so I just took my time walking back to our AirBnB in the sun with the cowbell jingling around my neck and feeling happy with my new 10 mile PR. LOL.

The Tenacious Ten is fantastic and I highly recommend this event. Oiselle creates a very energetic, fun and inclusive vibe. The location is unreal, with a scenic course and perfect start/finish location. The swag was great, with a new colour of a tank top I already liked enough to buy in the past, and a hat that I will definitely wear. The logistics were easy, the value was worth it, and Seattle is such a great city. I will be back next year, already planning to drive down from Kelowna where I’ll be for school at that time!

Relating back to Operation: Pump up the JAMmie, this race is good news. My goal marathon pace, come Jack & Jill, will be 5:00/km, so I’m working on holding paces around or faster than that for longer and longer. Ten miler: in the bag; next up is another shot at the half marathon. Then the workouts are going to get longer, faster, and two-a-days are coming my way as well. Lifelong Endurance and I are doing this. Stay tuned.

Talk soon from Week 3!

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Prince Rupert 1/2 Marathon!

Ahhh. Hi. I am sooo disappointed about today 😦 but, one thing that’s way worse than plain disappointment, is being disappointed in one’s self, and that I am not!

Today was very painful for me, literally. Nothing went as planned after about 6k, and I definitely don’t have the cushion of confidence I was hoping to be sitting on going into marathon training (tomorrow), but what can ya do? It was still a beautiful sunny day and an awesome crew always comes out for this event. I am glad I got to be there, regardless. Here’s how my morning went:

Had a decent sleep, got up, had the usual oatmeal and coffee, got ready and then went to set up my portion of the course with husband. Felt a tiny bit hungry between course set-up and heading to the race, so I ate a blueberry muffin. After talking with Coach Andrew, I realize this was probably the worst idea ever because of the sugar, but who really knows.

I felt great and did my very legit warm-up of a light jog, drills, stretches and a bit more easy running. The race began and I felt pretty good, though my breathing was not under control. This happens sometimes on this course since it starts on an incline, plus I was so excited, so I didn’t worry about it. Everything felt decent for the first 6k aside from the fact that I couldn’t seem to get my heart rate down, but at 7k I was like, fuck, I have to go to the bathroom. (I wasn’t like, fuck, I have to go pee…) Runners talk about poo all the time and if you don’t like it, this is not the blog for you. Having to go poo in a race is THE WORST. Especially when you already went at home!!!

I picked up the pace to give myself some time for the pit stop, was quick, and came back on to the course. It felt like my stomach was caved in like when you’re so hungry your belly button is touching your spine (LOL) and my energy took a dive. I knew a big downhill was coming, so I kept at it and told myself I’d regroup on the decline and get past this. As I continued to run my stomach went absolutely haywire and I had a really brutal stitch under the ribs on both sides and a stabbing pain in my lower left side.

Stomach cramping isn’t something I deal with often, but when I do it’s usually pretty minor and I know how to breathe through it and make it go away. Not today. Holy hell. I was in so much discomfort going down that hill that I actually got a bit scared. It kept getting worse and as I got closer to the halfway point where volunteers were I was considering my first DNF. DNF means “did not finish”.

Made it to half and stopped, and I was pretty sure I couldn’t keep going. I felt emotional about it, since the thought of not finishing a race made me really sad, and my throat closed right up and trying to breathe was really scary. Sorry for freaking anyone out and thanks for being so nice to me. After resting for a minute, I decided that it was okay to accept that what I wanted to do today was NOT happening, but dropping out was not okay with me.

Going back up that big hill I mentioned earlier (the course is an out-and-back) even really slowly, hurt so badly. I walked a lot and tried to stretch my sides but nothing was helping. It felt like I had the strength and posture of Monty Burns and like there were knives stabbing into my abdomen. I’m laughing really hard about this now because that description is perfect and really funny, but it wasn’t funny at the time. Once I got to the top, my friend and race director Kathy was at her spot manning an intersection and again I thought, this hurts so fucking badly and I can’t even breathe in all the way, I’ll just stay with her and cheer.

Then my very special friend, Kerrie, came up the hill and she said now was the chance to run together. It was her first time running the back half of the relay. I love this chick so much and she lifted my spirits. I love you Kerrie! AND I still kept thinking about how heartbroken I would feel if I didn’t finish the race. So I joined Kerrie and we plugged away at the remaining 8km together, I walked quite a few times but caught back up, and wondered if I had appendicitis. This also makes me laugh, but I was legitimately wondering that and having visions of an ambulance coming to get me.

I am so proud of Kerrie, she fucking owned her half of the relay and she pretty much saved my life. Sorry for fucking swearing so much. ahahahahahah

I said I was disappointed, but not disappointed in myself, and I mean it. Diarrhea attack and feeling like I was getting stabbed in the gut like Arya Stark got stabbed by the waif, that was terrible. Refusing to DNF when it very seriously crossed my mind two or three times, that makes me feel so much better about this shitty run. I physically could not run any more than I was, let alone any faster.

Tomorrow is a new day, and the official start of a huge adventure with Lifelong Endurance. Pump up the JAMmie, week 1, day 1. I can’t wait for the 10 miler at the Tenacious Ten in Seattle with my badass lady gang in two weeks, and for another shot at the half marathon on May 6th at BMO Vancouver. This is random but I find sometimes it helps to say really obvious things out loud so here are a few:

“I can’t change the way today unfolded, so I’ll move on.”

“I will not eat anything except oatmeal before a race, just in case that muffin was a contributing factor, and if I feel a little hungry, just be okay with it.”

“I still fucking love running and I know what I’m capable of.”

As I’ve said before, YODO. You only die once, and it wasn’t today. Congrats to everyone who had an awesome run! Many of my friends PR’d and placed! I am so proud of you all and I’m so glad we had a beautiful day and a very organized event!

love you all! Congratulations everyone ran so well today, THAT makes me happy!

my girl Jess, 3rd place in the 8k!

Kerrie with her relay partner, awesome job you guys!!!!

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