Race Review: the California International Marathon 2017!

In 2016, after I ran my first marathon and guzzled the runner Kool-Aid, I took note of this hashtag that I continuously saw on Instagram: #runCIM. What is that?? It didn’t take me long to figure out that it was a very popular, fast, net-downhill marathon in Sacramento, California which claims the be the “fastest course in the West”. It seemed like a LOT of people thought very highly of this CIM, and lots of people went there with hopes of a PR or BQ, so I added it to my very long list of marathons to run some day. Then, I discovered my coach was running CIM 2016. So were other people on my Instagram feed. I WANTED TO RUN CIM TOO!! So I registered for 2017! ahahaha

Fast forward two more great marathon experiences (Victoria and Disney), two other disappointing ones (Calgary and R’n’R Seattle) and a SOLID sixteen week buildup, and it was time to head to Sacramento!!

I arrived around 10am on Friday morning after a very early alarm in Vancouver and two flights connecting in Seattle to get me there. This was of course after my initial travel from home to Vancouver on Thursday. The joys of living in the middle of nowhere 🙂 My new friend Nancy and I split a cab to downtown and it was about thirty bucks USD between the two of us. I had awesome luck right off the bat – there happened to be a room available for me at 10:30am when I got to the Holiday Inn Sacramento Downtown! Check-in was 3pm and I went there just intending to drop off my bag, get lunch and then hit the race expo at noon, but I ended up with a way better situation which was shower, nap, Starbucks, expo, lunch. YES.

The location of the Holiday Inn (one of the host hotels) worked out really well for me. It was about a mile from the Convention Centre where the Expo was held which made for a nice walk to stretch out my plane legs.

Also, bus pickup “B” (runners are encouraged to take the free busses to the start of the race) was like fifty metres around the corner at 3rd and L Street, but more about that later.

The CIM Expo was sweet! The giant C I M letters immediately after entering was a sweet photo spot, as well as the race course map and the giant poster with each of the thousands of runners names on it. (Mine and Karmen’s names fit in the same photo!)

Bib pick-up was by last name and it was quick and easy. We were also given a nice reusable CIM bag, CIM ankle socks, a runner’s belt thingy, and a buff-style headband. All of this swag is very legit. I like all of it aside from the belt thingy, it’s just a little fanny-pack’ish for my liking but I’m sure some people would find it very useful!

Around the first corner, going with the flow of the sea of people, were a bunch of tables for the relay runners, so I continued past to the race shirt table and was given my shirt. IT’S WICKED. If you know me, you know I loathe 99% of race shirts. Always too short or flared out at the bottom, or with a choking neckline. But this shirt! A long sleeve half (maybe quarter?) zip, navy blue top that wasn’t short or flared out at the bottom! Finally. I even wore it on the trip home. #runnerd

I cruised around and discovered that I didn’t have to go to Fleet Feet Sports to find the Goodr Sunglasses I’d been wanting because they were selling them at the expo! The Flamingos on a Booze Cruise are finally mine!

I visited the Oiselle booth where Hannah was holding down the fort, and then I checked out the event merchandise which was pretty awesome, but not so fantastic that I had to further break my shopping freeze. After a lay down at the hotel, I suited up for four easy kilometers around my area and over the Tower Bridge.

Bedtime was seriously like 6:30pm and I am so glad I went in bed at that time because I somehow managed to sleep pretty solidly for like ten hours!! Friday is sleep night, and sleep night was a success.

Saturday morning was the CIM Shakeout Run!! It was nice having the ten minute jog to the convention centre to wake up a little, and it really did wake me up because it was cold that morning! Around 4°C I believe. Perfect for running once warmed up, in my opinion. In the lobby where everyone met, I met Steph (@runstrongrun), Amy (@runaissancewoman) and Vanessa (@vancesa) and we chatted for a while before it was run time.

The route was simply loops around Capitol park, each lap being about a mile, and runners could do as many loops as they wanted! There was a big group pic outside and I got to say hello to Elyse (@milestomedals) and have a huge hug.

I linked up with Amy and we got to know each other on the jog and she told me this would be her first marathon. Solid crew at this shake-out!

I went back into the expo after the jog, chatted with Dr. Lesko at the Oiselle booth and browsed around for a second time.

The afternoon consisted of candy from Andy’s Candy, PIZZA at Pizza Rock with my friends Karmen and Adam who were both running the marathon as well, and then more naps, pad Thai from Lotus Thai, and early to bed for some classic “fake sleeping” that I specialize in on all race eves. LOL.

My alarm was set for 3:45am, but since I wasn’t sleeping anyway I got up just before 3:30. This gave me more than enough time to make my oatmeal with hot water from the Keurig, eat my rice from the Thai restaurant, get my race kit together and layer up with throwaway clothes.

My check bag I had packed the day before. I left the lobby at 4:40 and was in the lineup for the school busses by like 4:43. The bus situation was so easy and organized, but I was also there a good fifteen minutes before the 5am scheduled departure to Folsom. My new buddy Eric and I chatted on the whole ride to the start area, which took about 45 minutes if I remember correctly. He was running his first marathon and had bought a brand new BMW the day before but got his dad to drive it home. His finish celebration would be driving his new car!

Once arriving at the start line, runners are allowed to stay on the busses to keep warm, or get back on any time. I ditched my check-bag right away (fast and easy), went pee in one of what looked like thousands of PortoPotties, and then got back on a random bus for a bit because it was pretty cold. At 6:30 I went to the corner by 7-11 for the #WeRunSocial meetup and by the time we were done visiting and taking a group photo it was time for me to go find the 3:52 pace group!

 

Kim ❤

But I had to go pee again!! By now the porto lines were LONG and slow. Since I am Canadian and don’t give a F, I peed behind a bush with a bunch of men (LOLOLOL) and then jumped into the starting area with the 3:52 pacers, Clark and Carolyn. There’s no way I’d have been able to use one of the toilets in time before the gun so good thing I’m a free spirit.

Go time!!! It was chilly and I kept my long sleeve Disney 10k shirt on for the first few kilometers before I ditched it. It was such a beautiful morning though! The first part of the race is in a pretty rural area and people were having fires in their front yards, holding signs and ringing cowbells. It’s also pretty downhill for the first mile which was really nice for a warm up. It was pretty congested and I tucked in tight behind Clark and Carolyn and rode their rhythm as I warmed up and enjoyed the “holy F I’m running a marathon today” energy. Our pacers were amazing and so great about reminding us to fuel and hydrate often and early. I started on my first Nakd bar around 6km, and hit the first water station with no spilling, even though I had my Nathan handheld. My plan was to drink from all stations that were easy to get at plus from my own bottle whenever I felt like it, eat my bars and also take the Cliff shots from the four fuel stations since I have lots of experience with that brand. I needed to get plain water from the stations since I had Nuun in my handheld. I am really glad that I had it because some of the hydration stations were SO crowded!

A lot of my run was a blur, that’s just the way it is. I was just focusing on staying calm, relaxed and present, and trusting the pacers to get me to at least half-way before I would break off on my own. I truly believe I saved SO MUCH valuable energy by running with them because I didn’t look at my watch once until probably 25km, and I didn’t have to obsess about my pace on the hills. Speaking of hills…

This race is a net-downhill, and yes there are lots of glorious stretches of mild downhill, but there are also a lot of rollers and tons of flat. It made for excellent variety and using all different muscles, and it also provided the opportunity to take an inventory of running form and breathing because each hill was always followed by a mild downhill to recover. I LOVE THIS COURSE SO MUCH!!!!!!

The section through Old Fair Oaks Village around kilometers 15 and 16 was a nice boost, it felt like I was at Oktoberfest or something, lots of bands and spectators and such a cute little area! The turns through that section of the race obviously weren’t helpful for GPS distance, but it kept it interesting and was a nice distraction since the majority of the course runs in long straight lines. I honestly don’t even really remember much between that village and getting to the half-way timing mat. I know I took note of some really pretty trees, and talked a little with a woman from San Diego who was running with the same pack. The last short, steeper hill that I recall was just before half-way.

I remember I felt really good, like so good it was almost scary, up until like 32-34km and even after that it never got bad, just regular marathon feeling.  Even so, I felt the pace group was a good idea to stick with for a while beyond the half marathon mat. There was a stretch somewhere between half-way and “the Wall” where we ran up a long but very gradual hill that seemed to last for a really long time. But, each time there was a hill that had me starting to feel fatigued or less in control, a gradual downslope would follow and give me time to regroup and lower my heart rate. I felt strong running through “the Wall”, which I swear was further along than the 20 mile marker but maybe I just can’t recall properly. There was a big cowbell crew at one spot that I initially thought was Oiselle and something hit me and I got all choked up ahaha. Crying while running a marathon is awesome. So emo!!!! I took note of passing the 30k marker since Clark was making fun of me for being Canadian and running in kilometers, and soon after that is where I started to run without being latched on to the pace group. I looked straight forward and kept steady. Kane had told me to think of him during kilometer 32, and I did,  and continued to remind myself that it was now time to just simply run a 10k. I also knew that aside from some bridge around 35km, the rest of the course was very flat. Divide and conquer. Get to the bridge. Laugh at the bridge. Run on pancake-flat to the State Capitol! I passed many people on that last tiny bridge hill (which doesn’t feel tiny when you’ve been running for over 3 hours..) and then I said my inspiring runner friends names, my husband’s name, coach, and told myself “I can run 5km. I can run forward. Running is faster than walking. Moving forward will get me there sooner than if I stop.” My feet were on fucking FIRE and I was ready to be finished.

The actual Oiselle cowbell station was so loud and awesome and I choked up again running through them around mile 23. So awesome. Once turning onto J street (my hotel was at 3rd & J) after that bridge, the street numbers start to countdown all the way into downtown, from 57th street. I knew there was another left-right turn onto L street, where then there were 20ish blocks to run until the sharp left on 8th, and left again onto Capitol Mall (the finish stretch) towards the Capitol building! RUN TO 8TH STREET JAMIE. Later-fun. Later-fun. Later-fun. There was a drum line, and tons of spectators, the energy was awesome! I picked out a guy in a bright yellow shirt and rode his pace for a bit, then did the same with another runner. FINALLY I was at 8th street!! I was running right where Amy and I had run and chatted during the shakeout run! Almost there!! Hung that sharp left, kept pushing, and just as I was making the final left turn into the finish chute, I heard “JAMIE!!!!!” and I saw Karmen and Adam shouting for me! F*CK YES!!!

where’s everyone else? ahaha

I put forth my best effort kick to the finish, which I don’t think was my fastest ever, but that’s good because it means I was finishing on empty, the last piece of the plan!

I crossed the finish and got my medal, which is massive and SICK!! I was in a happy daze and put on the cloth jacket given out to each runner and got a stranger to take my pic in front of the Capitol. I felt like I was on drugs I was so woozy and weak but so so so happy!!! I nailed my “B” goal of 3:51:xx for a twenty minute improvement on my previous 4:11 personal best! YASSSSSSSSSS!!!!

I found a sunny patch of grass once I (very easily) retrieved my checked-bag, and took my time changing into some warm clothes, chugging water and eating a banana. Karmen and I texted a bit, she’d had a good day and Adam a GREAT day!! We didn’t find each other though, I find after the race I’m too stunned for much. I hung out and chatted with other runners and once more looked at the race merchandise (and refrained) and then walked like a snail along the final stretch of the course along L Street cheering before I hit up Starbucks for a venti white chocolate mocha with extra whipped cream. Then I zombie walked to my hotel in bliss, texting coach Andrew!!!

The California International Marathon is the best marathon experience I’ve had, so far! I’m sure this has at least a little to do with the fact that I had a near-perfect day, but aside from that, the logistics and energy of this event plus the fantastic course makes me understand why it has such a great reputation. High fives to the Sacramento Running Association for hosting a bang-on event! The expo was great, the swag impressive, shake-out run super fun, start-line transportation was stress-free, the course was great (I wouldn’t call it scenic, but just great) and the medal is gigantic and beautiful!!!!

Before the CIM, there was only one marathon I’ve run so far that I really want to run again, which is the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Now, I have two. I plan to run CIM again in the future and I encourage you to check it out because it lived up to its reputation in my books!!

 

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the RUNVAN Fall Classic 1/2 at UBC!!!

I always love visiting Vancouver, but this time was extra awesome because my best friend is back in the city after a year of teaching in Hong Kong! We hadn’t seen each other since my wedding in August 2016!! Sarah happened to move right back to where she lived before she left the country, so we picked up where we left off in the West End. Love!!

The Fall Classic is a run I mostly wanted to take part in because it’s a perfect three weeks out from my fall goal race, the California International Marathon (CIM) on December 3rd, and because it’s in Vancouver. I love Vancouver! Ten years of my life were spent living in this fabulous city, and it is also the most accessible city to race in for those of us living in Prince Rupert. Perfect.

On Friday the weather was spectacular and I had an easy 6.5km to run in the morning along the Seawall which had me reminiscing about my first marathon, the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May 2016, which is also a RUNVAN event. That marathon is epic, and I try not to use the term epic. But it is! Run it. I plan to again one day!

My friend Becca and I went back to our old hood on Main for lunch at Slickity Jim’s and to browse around (currently on an unofficial shopping freeze) and then grabbed my bib and RUNVAN gloves from the package pickup at Forerunners! The gloves are awesome and SO MUCH BETTER than an ill-fitting race shirt!! Next up, Sushi.

pardon the shitty pic

On Saturday after a day of brunch at the Score on Davie and browsing around downtown, I went for a little jog and some strides (east on the Seawall this time) and then Sarah and I had one of our ritualistic Thai dinners before a lazy evening. Flatrunner and chill.

The University of British Columbia is where I got my degree and it’s a REALLY beautiful campus. And hilly. It was so nice to go back there as a non-student on Sunday morning to go do my favourite thing ever! The weather was supposed to be pretty rainy but not very cold, or for me, borderline warm at 8 degrees haha. I decided on long sleeves and shorts, tall Sac Stripes Procompression socks, no mitts and free ears, but a hat on my head for a rain forcefield if necessary. Turned out to be pretty bang on choices.

I went into this race with a few options, one being to really go for it if I felt good that day, OR, to practice my goal marathon pace for CIM if it wasn’t feeling like a day to run a hard 21.1km. If I did feel good, the “A” goal was of course a PR, ideally 01:49:xx, since my current half PR is 01:50:48 but a sub 1:50 would be soooo nice! After coach Andrew and I checked out the course on Strava, we both kind of felt that it would need to be a super best-case scenario, based on the profile and the fact that I wasn’t really resting up for this race, but running it as a tune-up for CIM.

dang, UBC!

He entered a ballpark perfect-day-goal on Training Peaks of 01:50. I went in without much of a taper, feeling strong and healthy but with lack of sleep, and my main priority was to do my very best, not “cook myself” on the first hills, and to flex my mental muscle in this dress rehearsal for CIM.

Car2Go was my transportation of choice and I left the West End just after seven on Sunday morning to arrive on campus, park and walk over to the Nest by 7:30. The half marathon start was at 8:30 am and runners wanting to utilize the free gear check (me) were advised to arrive at least an hour early. Apparently like twenty volunteers were late from their volunteer meeting and the gear check wasn’t ready to rock until closer to eight but this didn’t cause me a single problem. It was quick and easy, plus the AMS Student Nest (the new, fancy and massively improved SUB that didn’t exist back in my day) was the start and finish venue, so all of us runners were warm and dry with real washrooms and lots of room to hang out!

There weren’t corrals, but this race is pretty small, so when it was 8:25-ish I went into the starting area and found a spot somewhere between the 2:00 and 1:45 pacers. We started on time and it was time to run a half marathon!

The first three kilometers were super downhill and I ran by feel, faster than my goal average pace, but not pushing, just running controlled on the significant decline. I remember hearing UltraThai from November Project congratulate everyone around us on a good job up the first hill, I think that was a little after 3km. I was thinking, sweet, that was child’s play. Then came another downhill all the way to the turn around point of that out-and-back portion. The long (longest) uphill after the 5km turn around wasn’t too bad, it was definitely long but not steep. Since this course is almost two exact loops, all hills were run twice, and the short but steep hill in kilometer 10 shortly before the timing mat, and then again in kilometer 20 was just mean! LOL. The second time I even walked a few paces, I just felt so heavy and my heart rate was cray. MY SEVEN SECONDS wahhhh why did I do that?? By the time I was finishing up loop two, the hills had added up and I was ready to be done.

It was awesome running the big downhills a second time, shortly after crossing the 10k timing mat, and it was also wicked to finish on a short but significant down slope back to the Nest. My pace for the last 350m was like 4min/km! I wanted a PR SO BADLY!!! It was hard to tell by my watch since I ran 21.35 km in total, so my average pace wasn’t going to be accurate for 21.1. Maybe I should start manual lapping.

Alas, I came up seven seconds short, but I am SO HAPPY! That course was not easy whatsoever! It really tested my mental strength. All those hills accumulated and had me feeling pretty cooked around 17-18km, but I repeated “later-fun” to myself and had some really great runners around me reminding us all that we didn’t have far to go now! I finished REALLY strong, and had I run the tangents better I’d have gotten my sub 1:50, as Training Peaks tells me! My official chip time was 01:50:55 and I’m PUMPED on that and so was coach Andrew! I also know for a fact that I were were to run a half marathon on a fast, flat course at this point in time, I would get that official sub 1:50, no questions asked!

A medal was handed to me seconds after crossing the finish line, and then I caught my breath and found the snack table. Juice boxes, oh hell yes. There was tons of other food too, but I wanted to get inside. I chatted with a girl who was near me during the last section of the race and then made my way indoors. Included in our registration was amazing food on top of all the bananas, juice and other snacks outside; a food tag on the bottom of the bibs gave us the choice between pizza, sushi or chili inside the Nest. If you know me, you know what I chose. ‘Zaaaaaa.

It was so perfect to have a big, warm, beautiful building to go into immediately and use a real toilet and not begin to freeze. So grateful! By this time it was raining pretty hard. I easily got my checked bag from the covered area just outside the entrance I initially arrived through on University Blvd, changed into dry clothes and destroyed a slice of pizza. I found a Car2Go less than 500m away and was ready to head back to Sarah to spend our last afternoon of the weekend together. I left UBC super impressed with this event and with a great sense of accomplishment from pushing through that course. Many times it felt really hard and more than once, for a split second, my brain tried to trick me into changing gears to full marathon pace. But I didn’t. Yahooooo.

Post-race epic meal time: BANDIDAS, bitches. We drove over to Commercial Drive (another one of my old hoods, nostalgia overload) and had the best meal possibly of my life!!!! We were ravishing, as Sarah would say (*ravenous) and the tortilla soup and Wolf & Goat tacos were to die for.

Fall Classic weekend was a success!! I already knew that RUNVAN knew how to put on a good event, having run the BMO Van Marathon last year, but they impressed me again with the Fall Classic! Well organized, great swag, fantastic start/finish venue and although very challenging, A GORGEOUS course!!!! Thank you, RUNVAN!

Six-day [Sober] Trip to Montreal!

I love going on trips now WAY more than when I was a booze-hound. I feel like I can do like, one hundred things each day (if I want), I remember everything, I’m present and experience everything thoroughly, and as a bonus, I feel way less guilty spending money shopping and dining. Since the cost of alcohol, everywhere, all day and night, is no longer a thing, I don’t feel like going on trips drains my bank account the same way it used to! This was the first time I’ve gone away for longer than a weekend in a while, and it was exceptional. I am so glad I didn’t get pissed the whole time and come home feeling like it went by in the blink of an eye, like I needed time to recover from the trip, or like I didn’t do any of the things I’d hoped to! Here is a recap of my trip and some of the things I noticed or felt grateful for while I enjoyed it alcohol-free.

The trip started with a full travel day, which is fairly standard for someone who lives in Prince Rupert if going anywhere further than Vancouver. But, since planes and airports are awesome and not having a hangover is also awesome, I enjoyed my nap on flight number one, my solo breakfast at YVR, Starbucks, and another long nap on flight number two. Although sleeping on a plane is far from comfortable or good quality, it is fucking fantastic compared to what I used to do on planes, which was cry on the inside because I forgot a water bottle, had low blood sugar and was clinging to life, and then proceed to go partly unconscious with cotton mouth and hope I wouldn’t twitch out and smack my neighbour. Gross ahaha.

I arrived in Montreal after midnight where my sexy husband who was working there temporarily greeted me, and we took an Uber to the apartment near downtown which cost $36. I seriously don’t know what I did before Uber. Where we might go out that night didn’t even cross my mind – I was exhausted from the long day. This is interesting to me because before, when I was obsessed with partying, I would somehow power through my exhaustion because the thought of going to bed early was unthinkable and I’d torture my body, forcing it to stay awake and drink and socialize with whoever, when truly I should have been sleeping!

Saturday morning we were up early and stoked for our first day together in the city. Up early on vacation? It’s a thing. Back in the day this was a foreign concept to me, but now I prefer to capitalize! We went for a half-hour walk to assess the lineup at an apparently very popular brunch place called L’Avenue on Ave du Mont-Royal E, but the lineup was like the Roxy so we found another spot along St. Denis. Nothing to write home about but regardless, summer weather with my love, no hangover, food and coffee and I was happier than happy. I already loved Montreal after that first morning of walking around. Everywhere I looked there was a park or some sort of street art, and I love parks and street art!

We did some more exploring, and then eventually made our way down towards Parc René-Lévesque to pick up our bibs for the 10K race the following day. Of course I found a race during the visit!

Such a beautiful area, and I was excited to go back there to run in the morning! Anywhere with a water view is my kind of place.

Before dinner I went for a short run around our neighbourhood which happened to be the general area of the Montreal Mural Festival that took place in June! I think exploring alone is so exciting and I was honestly overwhelmed by how much I was enjoying this new place already.

I found some neat art down back alleys and along the sides of buildings. Street art is so cool. It makes me mad that I never used to appreciate this sort of thing, but I’m glad I do now.

Later, we relaxed at an outdoor patio on Rue Sherbrooke, ate paninis and had a beer (alkoholfrei German wheat beer, for me), people-watched and then called it a day. It was a long day and we needed to be up early. Either way, going to bed early on vacation is UNDERRATED!..even when it’s hotter than you’re used to and roll around all night sweating.

Sunday we Uber’d to Parc René-Lévesque and it was so nice out already! A bit too hot for me for racing (northern BC spoiled brat in the running world), but a beauty day and the event site for the Demi-Marathon Bonneville de Lachine had a fun energy right off the bat. The warm-up in the start chute was awesome and kind of funny for us non French speakers (not that it was exclusively Français) and the course was GORGEOUS. I highly recommend checking out this park, event or no event! Wish I had more pics.

Do run this race, though, if you’re around for it! Ten kilometers for breakfast, check!

Our anniversary was off to a good start, and we were both done running before 9am. So much day left!

After some time at the finish area we took a walk along the Lachine Canal (love) to get away from the busyness of the race area and call a ride, but we came across a bus stop that would take us to a metro station. Transit adventure! Going on transit is tolerable when you don’t have a headache or nausea! It’s worth mentioning that I found the transit system, especially the metro, very easy to use in Montreal! I went all over the place with no problems whatsoever.

After a quick regroup at home it was time for standard procedure after any race: epic meal time! We went to Chez Jose on Duluth for brunch, and so should you! The hot sauce. Yum. And what a cool, funky spot! Going for brunch as a sober person is something I place a high value on. I remember brunching back when I lived in Vancouver and I always felt like (and looked like) shit, praying for a refill on my water, guzzling Caesars to try and feel better and then having yet another really expensive bill because alcohol is so effing expensive. Then the day would turn into “Sunday Funday” and I’d feel like shit on Monday morning. So over that!! Food tastes so much better non-hung, and so does coffee. I also find I can eat my meal instead of just a few bites. Hmm. More food, a better experience and more money to go shopping after and not feel guilty.

We waddled towards the river and came face to face with the fantastic Montreal pride parade along René-Lévesque Boulevard! Seriously such a party. I didn’t know that Fierté Montréal was during my trip and it was such a fun surprise!! We walked for hours it seemed, after a long parade detour, and then it was time for more food, so we hung out and ate nachos on Rue de la Commune after finally making it to where we wanted to go after breakfast. More coffee in the sun in a gorgeous city.

I am obsessed with the Old Port.

After a late afternoon nap I went for a short jog to shake out my body and then had another early bed time. I stayed up late from like 2001 to 2015 so now I really like sleeping ahahaha.

My Monday morning began with a sweaty flow class at Moksha Yoga Montreal! I can’t even tell you how happy it makes me to go to any Moksha studio (Moksha is where I got my 500hr RYT) and the Montreal location was fabulous. I think you should go there and check it out! I left there in a bliss trance and walked home, then spent the rest of Monday basically running around everywhere, checking things out along the way. I never thought I’d be going to yoga at 7am on a Monday on a holiday. Or being a daytime warrior.

Parc La Fontaine

Got myself a new Ciele hat from the Mile End Lululemon, saw many more amazing murals, picked up some totally necessary glow in the dark Vazees from New Balance on St. Catherine, then had solo lunch and coffee near the Old Port and explored the quays.

We went to the AMAZING Cafe Parvis on Rue Mayor for dinner once husband was done work. The girls at Lulu recommended it and I loved this restaurant! It’s a romantic little cafe with a unique, fresh menu. Love the string lights and flowers on the patio! I also love how most of the restaurants we went to on this trip, Cafe Parvis included, have kombucha on the menu. It’s an interesting non-alcoholic option. Not drinking doesn’t mean just having water wherever you go!

Tuesday I was up early as usual, and after breakfast at home I took the metro from Place-des-Arts to Papineau and ran across the Jacques Cartier bridge into Jean Drapeau Park.

Cool spot definitely worth checking out, in my opinion, since I am a freak about parks! Thank God there are drinking fountains in this park because it was humidddd. If I’d had even a lick of a hangover, I would have actually died.

After my planned 7km I took a rest/figured out where exactly on Île Sainte-Hélène I was, and then ran a few more kilometers along Pont de la Concorde, past Habitat 67 (not as cool as I thought it might be, but still cool to see) and back into Montreal towards the Old Port. The views today were unreal!!!

I came back to home-base area and had myself a massive classic poutine at Dirty Dogs on Boul. St-Laurent! Oh and a huge milkshake. YUMMMM.

I digested as quickly as I could because husband was almost home from work and we were going to Orange Rouge in China Town for dinner. This place is seriously awesome and my favourite place that we had dinner on my trip. It’s mostly share plates and we sat at the bar and had a really good experience there with awesome service! I am like drooling right now thinking about the duck confit dumplings and the quail. Go there, you won’t regret it! I pay attention to the food I’m eating so much more these days. YUM.

As I was about to go to sleep I realized tomorrow was Wednesday. Wednesday is a November Project morning in cities that have a tribe. EFF YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, I got up extra early and was at Nelson’s Column (the monument at Place Jacques-Cartier) by 6:29 am where NP MTL uses the Old Port as a sweaty playground.

I follow NP quite closely on social media and have been a fan for a long time, but I can’t say enough good things about my first actual experience. Do you think I’d have made it to something like this, something so up my alley, if I were out super late partying the night before, and dehydrated and dead tired when the alarm went off? Unlikely.

#justshowup

If you don’t know what November Project is, Google it and familiarize yourself and then hit up free fitness and a hundred new sweaty friends next time you’re anywhere that has a tribe. Trust me.

After the workout I had a 10k tempo run to complete for Coach Andrew, so I got that done along the Promenade du Vieux-Port and down by the clock tower. Gorgeous place to run! You may think I’m crazy but this was truly my IDEAL morning. How the times have changed gahaha.

Next on the to-do list: TATTOO. Well, first a gigantic baguette sandwich, and then Tatouage Electric Ave. Located on Rue Beaubien E, I picked this shop after lots of research through blogs, Instagram and portfolios online. Arno was my man and he did not disappoint. Mark my words, I will return to Montreal to get more art from Arno!

Something worth mentioning is that while I was getting tattooed, I didn’t feel like garbage or put my body into an even more traumatic situation by showing up to my appointment hungover, shaky, dehydrated or run-down. This is probably the tattoo that has healed best for me, and I’m confident this is because I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’ve had some tattoos in the past that took so long to heal. Like overly sore in the scabby phase and just felt like a gross owie for too many days. Not this time. My body healed this tattoo like a boss.

In the evening we headed to Little Italy for husband’s birthday dinner at Il Piatto Pieno, a place highly recommended by one of his co-workers. It seemed like a nice place, and the menu looked delicious, but there were only a few people there when we showed up (around 8:30 pm, not super late or anything) and the service was bush! The server asked us to order as soon as possible and tossed a basket of bread on the table. The appy and pizza we ordered looked like someone threw it together in the dark and the pizza was most definitely not finished baking. Lol. Good thing we aren’t too sensitive! Whatever, win some, lose some. Little Italy seems like a wicked area with a million restaurants and I wish we had time to go back! Next time.

Thursday (rest day) we slept in and then made it back over to L’Avenue and since it was a weekday, there wasn’t a huge line!! This place was worth waiting for. I definitely recommend. I had sweet and salty eggs benny, it was served on sweet and crunchy french toast and I almost died and went to heaven. Go there!! It was loud and busy and great, and I totally understand why there was a lineup down the block when we tried to go on Saturday!

We ventured up and down Mont Royal (once we could move again after breakfast) and that is something you must do in Montreal. The walk (I wouldn’t call it a hike by any means) was easy but nice and the view spectacular. This is not my pic, I didn’t have my phone!

The rest of the day was spent having coffee, returning to the Old Port (again!) in the evening to be touristy and just cruisin around on foot enjoying our last evening.
Friday morning came early and once again, I was reminded of, and felt grateful for the simplicity of waking up to a non-hangover on holidays and, despite being tired, not needing to survive the day of travel. I felt so fulfilled by the six days spent in Montreal; it actually felt like I was there for more like two weeks! Of course there are things I didn’t do due to a lack of more time, but I didn’t feel like I ripped myself off once in any way.

I could have gone back to work right away feeling totally okay with that, BUT I’m still off til after Labour Day so time for another adventure where it feels like there ARE enough hours in a day, and I don’t need ANOTHER week off afterwards to recuperate 🙂

a First-Timer’s Triathlon recap! and how it relates to CONFIDENCE

Endurance sports are so addicting. To push the body, brain and spirit and see what, as a trio, they’re capable of is so friggin awesome. If you know me, you know I’m pretty in love with challenging myself physically, but I also try to get out of my comfort zone often and test myself mentally and emotionally. This wasn’t always the case, but after working with Suzanne Fetting off and on for years, plus a lot of other growth in the last five-ish years, I have a very different perspective on trying new things that scare the crap out of me in one way or another! BUT, that doesn’t mean that this kind of stuff comes easy. I’ve come a long way in the confidence department, but I’m still human and trying brand new things makes me feel vulnerable and nervous! So here’s how the whole process went down, and if you decide to do a triathlon or any remotely related thing that’s new to you, I hope this will help you!

The Tyhee Lake Triathlon is an event I’ve heard about for ages, long before I became a runner, and I always thought of triathlon as something that other, cool, hardcore people did. Not me! Last year, my good friend Breeann participated and I was so inspired by her hard work and courage to accept such a cool challenge that I saw as extremely intimidating. In March when she suggested I come join her at it this summer, I didn’t think twice and just said yes immediately; I once knew how to swim quite well, I can ride a bike and I’ve been running consistently now for years. Then I proceded to ignore the fact that I had agreed to do a triathlon and I pushed it to the back of my mind for a couple months because it was too uncomfortable to think about. LOL.

Once spring marathoning wrapped up it dawned on me that I might want to get my ass in gear. I swam at the pool quite a few times (a challenge in itself) and was happy to learn that I still knew how, but I was VERY suprised at how extremely difficult it was from what I remembered from my childhood and adolescent swimming lessons.

I went to spin class two to three times a week for about a month and a half, borrowed a road bike from a friend, and then a couple weeks ago did a sort of practice-tri with a bunch of girls. We biked 20km out to a lake, swam approximately 800m (the opposite of fast, and with rests..but I felt I could survive the 750m distance) and then ran a 5km out-and-back before biking back home.

AWESOME. I knew I could do it! I did one more practice swim in my wetsuit* the weekend before in a different lake, and that was it. Triathlon was going down! AHHHHHH.

*The reason I bought a wetsuit (after much research) instead of borrow is because I want to do more swimming at the cabin whenever I can, and I knew for a fact I wouldn’t invest in it and only end up using it once. Don’t think you need to buy a wetsuit! It wasn’t even mandatory in Tyhee Lake because the water temperature was warm enough. If you are interested, however, I got the BlueSeventy Sprint full suit from a Canadian site, triboutique.ca

The week before the race, I started to really question myself. Sure, I can swim, bike and run well enough, but I didn’t have a clue about the logistics. Triathlon seemed way too hardcore for me. Why do we decide we aren’t good enough for something we’ve never even tried? What do I do with all the gear? What are the rules?? What do I wear under the wetsuit??? I am going to screw up and look dumb for sure. Breeann, who my sister and I were going to visit and stay with, was no longer participating in the team category like she had planned, and I thought, maybe I’ll just do a tri another day and spend the whole weekend with them. That was totally me trying to make an excuse because I was scared! I had also subconsciously hoped that my sister would bail on our weekend away so that I could use that as an excuse not to go. Didn’t happen, thankfully!

I read a bunch of articles online about what to expect in your first tri, packing checklists, and basic overviews of the transitions and felt a little more prepared but my nerves kept growing. My inner critic was taunting me. This is a bad idea. You don’t know what you’re doing. You didn’t prepare enough. The transitions are too foreign and scary. You’re a runner, stick to running. You’ll probably get a flat tire. Are you trying to be cool in your new wetsuit, poser? Now it was July 4th and the triathlon was on the 9th. I went online and registered and said I’m f*ckin doing this!

Friday afternoon my sister and I hit the road to Telkwa (tied for favourite place on planet Earth, with Mudge Island) and the whole time I babbled about how nervous I was because I’d never done a triathlon before. We stopped in Terrace and my new best friend at the bike shop showed me how to change a flat tire and sold me a little kit for under my bike seat. All I had to do was ask. Back on the road! More freaking out about getting a flat. My sister is a good counsellor! The bottom line, of course, was basically shut up and go have fun.

On Saturday morning I went for the most gorgeous and peaceful 20km dirtroad run and it boosted my confidence and left me feeling a little better about the situation.

Yes, I know a long training run doesn’t usually precede an endurance event, but I registered for this with goals of doing my best, learning and getting out of my comfort zone, not to go out and try to win it.

My sister picked me up as I reached the pavement at Highway 16, and we headed to the Bulkley Valley Farmers’ Market where we ran into a friend from Rupert who I knew was going to be there. She told me that two other girls from home had decided to come and do the triathlon at the last minute! I now had accumulated FIVE friends there. This made me feel really excited and slightly less nervous! Oh, but of course a sly comment from the inner critic, You are probably the only one who’s never done this before. (Untrue.)

You, reading this, might be thinking, wow this chick is sure being dramatic! If you’re the type of person who was born with amazing self-confidence and doesn’t bat an eye at the thought of trying something brand new, that’s awesome, but I know I’m not the only person who feels highly susceptible to things like failure, embarassment, being flustered or looking like a total ass when attempting something for the first time. So yeah. Onwards!

Sunday morning came and I went through my basic checklist.

  • sandals and warm clothes for before/after
  • my longer 5” tight running/biking shorts & crop top (for under wetsuit)
  • wetsuit, goggles, cap, towel
  • runners, socks (I refused to use the clip-in biking shoes this time around..)
  • bike, helmet, water bottle, spare tube & kit, sunglasses
  • Spibelt to store a couple gels and a cliff bar
  • hat for my run

We left early and got to the provincial campsite around 7:30.  The welcome email that I received sometime overnight told me I could check in and sign a waiver at 7:45, and that bike check began at 8 o’clock. I didn’t know what the hell bike check was and allowed that to make me feel awkward, but then once I was there and checked in (leaving with a badass Jiffy marker’d 51 on each arm and lower leg, hehe) I realized bike check was just a line up to have a bike guy give your ride a once-over and send you over to put it on a rack anywhere you wanted. I looked around to find out what to do next (who knew) and saw that some people had already organized their gear right beneath their bikes, so I set up my towel, runners, socks and running hat on the ground and put my sunglasses and fuel belt inside my helmet.

united with Rupert chicks!

Once that was taken care of, I felt one hundred times better. Now all I had to do was swim, bike and run, and not rush in between, because I knew that would screw me up. Each time I went to the washroom I met someone who was also doing their first ever triathlon! I wasn’t alone! I took my time and got into my wetsuit, braided my hair, put my goggles around my neck and took my cap with me to the grassy beach area to jump around a little and warm up.

My sis took my sandals and that was all that needed to happen before start time!

The swim began and right away my heart and breath went berserk. I breast stroked for a bit and did little stretches of front crawl, but it was very slow going. I felt pannicked like I was going to get seriously left behind (not that that would even matter!) but I just tried to relax.  In a worst case scenario, there were people in little rowboats as well as SUPs who were there to help and even offer a rest! I didn’t require that though. No kicks in the head, no choking on water, I just kept at it. By the first buoy (250m) I felt very happy that I was 1/3 done. Not going to lie, most of the swim was a struggle for me, but by the 3/3 250m stretch I felt a lot better and everytime I commited to my front crawl for as long as I could manage, I noticed that I caught up to other swimmers and even passed a couple! Woohoo! I swam until my hands brushed the bottom and felt so happy and proud that I completed step one!

The path from the shore to the transition area was a very short but steep hill and running more than a few steps didn’t seem to be happening so I focused on unzipping my suit and pulling my arms out as I made my way up the hill to the bikes, also taking off my cap and goggles.

Getting my feet out of the ankle holes wasn’t as easy but I got the thing off and partially dried my feet, put my socks and shoes on and attached my Spibelt around my waist. I’m glad I put the belt and my sunglasses inside the helmet or I would have forgotten them, I know it! As I was getting organized I realized some of my friends were around me doing the same things. Woo! Sunglasses on, helmet fastened, bike off the cross bar it was hanging on, and then I was wheeling my bike to the very clearly marked mount-line to hop on and start part two! Weeeeooo!

Once I was riding I started to really calm down. Biking seems much more second-nature to me than open water swimming, so I just enjoyed going fast on Karen’s super cool road bike that I borrowed and worked as hard as I could on each uphill, downhill and flat. I noticed that I was very much in the moment which isn’t always the case for me in a race setting. This made me really happy and I continued along as fast as I could with my quads feeling sore from my run the previous day but a huge smile on my face. I am not an experienced cyclist by any means and I’ve never been in a bike race, so I learned a lot on this one ride alone! The course was rolling hills and I loved figuring out the best gear to be in and what level of effort to throw down! Love learning shit! The turn-around point was definitely where I would have had a mishap if one were going to happen, but I went slow around the sign and then got right back at it for the 10km back to the lake. Ripping down the hill back into the transition area in the campsite was fun except the speed bumps really forced me to slow down. Didn’t want to launch off any jumps baahaha.

Shannon and I at T2

I reached the mount/dismount line and wheeled my bike back to it’s spot and hung it up, took off my helmet (which apparently is the one thing newbs forget to do and start running with it still on) and threw on my hat. It was time to run 5km! Running! My thing!!!

Lead. Legs. Holy. Shit. HAHAHA I have never felt my body like that before. It felt like I had no feet! My energy level and breathing felt normal, but my legs were like Gumby. I kept going, observing this interesting quality of my body that I’d never experienced before, and it got easier. A muscle in my right lower leg that I still haven’t identified was SO tight it was just about crossing the line between discomfort and pain, but I was careful as I ran. Even thought it was only 5km, it was SO challenging and the two water stations (and cowbell) were very much appreciated. Aside from one moment near the turnaround where my leg was really bothering me, this run was so amazing! I didn’t have a clue what kind of pace I was running since I started my watch on “other” at the start of the swim and left it alone for the duration of the race, and it was on a screen that wasn’t making sense. I absolutely loved that my only job was to do my best. I wasn’t comparing this run’s pace to any other run.

01:40:10 finish for me, whatever that means! lol

Finishing the race was amazing!! The support at this race is really awesome, and the number of spectators was impressive for a northern BC endurance event! I felt strong til the end, and when I crossed the finish I felt so accomplished. This was the most fun thing ever! Like, I love marathons and all running events a lot, but this was a whole nother level of cool. I wish I could put into words the feelings that come over a person at a time like this. Pride, excitement, a little disorientation, sometimes a bit of overwhelm and teary eyes. INCREDIBLE!!! Immediately in love and wanting to do another in the future!

Imagine I had’ve given in to feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and fear of the unknown. Imagine I bailed on the tri just because my original partner in crime wasn’t able to take part and I didn’t want to be “alone.” Or if my sister for some reason wasn’t able to go away that weekend and I decided I wasn’t going to go either. Or if I were still a piss-tank and a weekend away only involved getting drunk. NO. I don’t want to imagine because that was one of my favourite days of my whole life! Not only did I get to take part in what I now consider one of the coolest events I’ve ever taken part in, I got to do it with five amazing friends and I made a couple new friends, too! I thought it was going to be terrifying, but like most things, it’s was only scary until I got there!

I will re-visit this experience the next time I’m psyching myself about something just because it’s unfamiliar to me. I will remember that my body is extremely capable, even though I remind myself almost daily of this, but hey that’s just the way it goes for some of us.

Do not let fear stop you from having the best day or best experience. Remember that people like to help, so ask questions and give yourself a break. Observe others. Remember that you will rarely be the only person doing something for the first time. And lastly, remember that extremely cheesy but true quote that I don’t really want to include here but I’m going to anyway..

comfort

@jammiekomadina

Alaska Airlines Rock’n’Roll Seattle Marathon 2017!

Woooo hi!

Just over three weeks ago I ran the Calgary Marathon and didn’t have the best day. Personally, it wasn’t my day, but I also didn’t find the event overly exciting, so I came home feeling dissatisfied with my overall spring marathon experience. Waiting until the CIM in December for the next marathon seemed out of the question, so I started looking into the possiblility of running another three to four weeks after Calgary. In many peoples’ eyes, this is crazy, but we aren’t going to get into that.

Living where I do, it’s impossible to take a weekend trip to just anywhere you want. In a perfect world, I’d have flown my personal jet to Duluth, Minnesota and run Grandma’s Marathon, which was this past Saturday on June 17th and has been on my bucket list since I fell in love with the marathon in May of last year. Since we do not, in fact, live in a perfect world, I looked into the Alaska Airlines Rock’n’Roll Seattle Marathon. Pretty big event, awesome city, same timezone I live in, and accessible (in the grand scheme of things) from Prince Rupert! The course looked  challenging but since I was on the hunt more for a good time than “redemption” from the Calgary race, I decided to go for it.

Then, I convinced my friend Marcie to come along and run the half. We booked our flights, AirBnB, and registered for our races. WOOOOOOO!!!!

THIS RACE WAS SO AWESOME and I feel like the Rock’n’Roll’ness of it was just bonus because it was already such a cool route in a wicked city!

We arrived to the expo at the CenturyLink Field Event Centre in the early afternoon on Saturday to get our bibs, shoe tags, shirts and shuttle passes (purchased online before hand) and everything was organized and problem free. The race shirts are basic black t-shirts but I guess that’s safe…imagine trying to please twenty thousand people? The expo was pretty big, busy, and in a cool venue in an accessible spot. I’m not usually one to purchase things at the expo, but there was a huge merch area of Brooks gear, what looked like a gait anaysis treadmill station (with a big lineup) and then past that section was the exhibitor area. There were lots of free samples, and the girl manning the JellyBelly Sport Beans table LOADED us up after we obeyed the “2 per person” sign. LOL. Good karma! Love Sport Beans, thanks to my friend Sam for introducing me to them! Also worth mentioning was the diary-free cheesecake by Daiya. Legit. We also scored free sunglasses which I love.

Next we made a trip to the Oiselle flagship store and Lululemon in University Village (via Uber) and then it was time for a big, early dinner.

One of the girls at Lulu recommended Mama Melina just down the road, and YOU NEED TO GO THERE. Best pizza and pasta ever, Marcie and I agreed, and it was early-ish so it was happy hour and our bill was CHEAP. Score. Then we hit QFC for breakfast food and went back to our AirBnB to get as much rest as possible.

ended up being too muggy for the Canada socks..dang.

Both of us woke up on Sunday at 4am having slept WELL, which is so unusual for me the night before a big event! After getting ready and eating breakfast we took another Uber over to the CenturyLink/Safeco (finish) area to hop on a shuttle to the starting line at Husky Stadium. A sticker on our bibs that was given to us at the expo when checking in with the pre-paid shuttle table was all we had to show the driver to get on the bus. We had no problems or waits and arrived to the start area by 5:45 for the 6:30 start. I heard stories about shuttles getting lost one year and the race start being delayed, so it was nice that it was so organized!

There were good tunes blasting when we arrived and it was exciting from the get-go. I didn’t see any obvious signage pointing out where the gear check was specifically located, but it’s easy enough to follow the crowds or ask, and we did both and found the bag check UPS Trucks towards the very back of the start chute. Checking gear was simple and quick, but waiting for a portopotty after that was not. It was just so busy and slow because there wasn’t really an oranized lineup system, but regardless we both were able to use the bathrooms and head into our corral by 6:20, and we didn’t start running until after 6:30 since we obviously weren’t in corral number one! No rushing and no panic.

Go time! Speaking for the full marathon course, it was so scenic!!! We ran across Montlake Bridge over the shipping canal, through the beautiful Washington Park Arboretum, south along Lake Washington with lake and mountain views, and ran the full loop of Seward Park. The middle section was along Ranier Ave and Dearborn Street back towards the Centurylink/Safeco area. Then the last quarter of the race was a big out-and-back with amaaaazing views of the ocean plus all of downtown, running across the Alaskan Way Viaduct (apparently this is the last year it will be part of the course) and then all the way up towards the west side of Lake Union, getting to pass the ferries, Seattle Great Wheel, aquarium, and the Space Needle along the way, twice! SO GREY’S ANATOMY.

There were lots of live music set-ups along the way, and I loved running past and hearing covers of Foo Fighters, Passion Pit and I can’t remember what else. I knew coming to this event that Rock’n’Roll Seattle is not one of the most rock’n’rollie of the race series, meaning I didn’t come expecting the intensity of say, RnR Vegas, San Diego or Nashville, but that’s not WHY I registered. I went because Seattle is awesome and the event is big and fun, and it was easy for me to get there. If you are looking for a mind-blowing Rock’n’Roll experience, I probably wouldn’t suggest this one because I know it’s not one of the biggest or most popular, and you might be dissapointed theme-wise, but overall this event is SWEET. Also, if you really feed off of spectator support, I didn’t find it to be overly involved in that sense, so just something to keep in mind.

gahahaha

As for difficulty, I barely noticed any major hills during the first half, aside from literally about a 100m steep part up to where the half-way timing mat was located. In reality, there was a gradual incline for about 5k leading up to the half-way mark and that definitely took  more out of me than I was noticing at the time. Sneaky! I ran with the 4hr pace group for the entire first half, but at exactly half way I had a stomach emergency and had to make my first ever pit stop during a marathon. One in five so far, not bad. This didn’t throw me off much time-wise, but unfortunately my stomach was fairly cramped up for almost an hour after that…it interefered with my plan, but it did not mess with how much I was enjoying myself! I had lost my crew but continued on. My elusive 3:59 goal wasn’t going to happen, that’s for sure, but I’ve let that go now until the fall. I kept going and enjoyed the experience and worked on my mental game as it continued to get more difficult.

The next section was mostly flat and the less interesting part of the course, and finally, my ass got handed to me by the final 12-ish kilometeres where you see those three giant bumps!

I’m really glad I went into this with a main goal of having a good time and scratching that marathon itch before having to wait until the CIM in December!

Finishing along the viaduct and back into the stadium area was seriously so cool. I loved this course! The finish-chute wasn’t anything to write home about but there were lots of photographers as usual and quite a lot of snacks, CHOCOLATE MILK (my favourite) and Gatorade and water. Marcie was there for my finish, and she found me at the exit of the finish area and we went to grab my gear (easy) and head to the concert area, which wasn’t very busy at all but had an awesome energy.

We stretched and relaxed on the stairs, took photos and enjoyed the post-race vibes. There was a free beer ticket on the bottom of each bib, so lucky Marcie, she got two free Michelobs hahaha. Full marathon finishers also received a finisher’s jacket, which in the pics online that I saw before hand looked super cheesy, but they actually are kind of awesome! I won’t be rocking mine around daily life or anything, but it’s a really good wind breaker and tucks up super small. Useful swag, and so great to have it to throw on as another layer while hanging around being sweaty and getting progressively colder.

The medals for both the half and full marathons are sweet. I love the colours and the glitter and the boldness of SEATTLE.

Marathon number five, in the bag! The weather was perfect for running, it was overcast, a big muggy but not too warm, but it wasn’t ideal for hanging out at the concert stage afterwards, and we wanted showers, so it was time to head back to the AirBnB.

Post-race epic meal this time around consisted of Mexican at Poquitos (YOU NEED TO EAT HERE) in the Capital Hill neighbourhood (so great) and then dessert at Kurt Farm Shop (omfG, CHEESE FLAVOURED ICE CREAM!!?!?). Such a bang-on post-marathon meal.

In summary, the Alaska Airlines Rock’n’Roll Seattle Marathon & Half Marathon was a really fun, exciting event. I love big, busy running events, and they said there were approximately 18,000 runners lined up at the start line on Sunday to run either the half or full.

pic from the event site

The course was so great with some cool on-course music and features, although challenging and maybe not for PR chasing, the medals rock, the organization was without fault, and Seattle is just a very cool place! The expo was basic, and the post-race concerts didn’t seem too exciting, but the finish venue and general area was super cool. I had a really great weekend and I would definitely run this race again and I recommend it to anyone to who has easy access to Seattle!

683948_258745492_Medium

the Calgary Marathon 2017

The Calgary Marathon, eh. I’m going to be honest in this review, and I’ll start off by saying it wasn’t the best race experience I’ve had, but overall my weekend was very fun!

First off, how did I come to register for this race? Well, I wanted to run a spring marathon, already ran BMO Vancouver in 2016, it’s in Canada, and there was a big theme around Canada’s 150th birthday, which sounded fun. I looked at the course map and profile and it looked alright, so I went ahead and registered…more on that to come. LOL. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t seek out marathons to run simply based on the course profile. However, I am still new to the 42.2 km distance. I’m working on getting familiar with the beast that is the marathon, and trying to improve at it. So yeah, I don’t look for difficult courses at this point in my marathoning!

After I registered, my friend Jeph told me about a flag bearer contest that the Calgary Marathon was holding. Represent your province or territory plus receive complimentary travel, accommodation and registration! We both entered, but since Jeph lived in Quebec at the time, he didn’t actually plan to run Calgary unless he won the contest, understandably. Pretty far! I wanted him to win soooo badly! They were vague about what they were looking for, and how and when they’d select winners, and then after Tweeting at them repeatedly, they stated that the winners would be announced at the end of November. But then it was next week, then in a few days, etc. Then after saying that, they put out a last call for applicants! They finally revealed the winners in mid-January, if I remember right. The site for entering was terrible and you could see who else had entered and it was barely anyone, so our hopes were high! I kind of got a bad taste in my mouth cause it seemed like Calgary was out to lunch on their organization. Lol. Neither of us won, if you were wondering hahaha.

The other thing before race weekend that had me a little skeptical was when I emailed to have my predicted finish time updated slightly, (I was registered over 6 months in advance) and the reply informed me that the start chute is self-seeding so I’d be lining up wherever I wanted. Um, then why did they need a predicted finish time? The half marathoners, full marathoners AND the 50k ultra runners all start at the same time in this race. No corrals? Hmm…it’s not a huge race by any means, but it’s not tiny! I think this year they said there were twelve thousand participants over the course of the weekend.

Anyways, my travel to Calgary was painless (thank you, West Jet!) and I arrived at the host hotel, the Westin, to find it was FANTASTIC. Great hotel, a Starbucks and The Keg attached, plus another hotel restaurant and bar area, super clean and even kinda fancy. Most importantly, they had a race shuttle that got us right to the start area with no waits or stress.

The Westin is in a great location and my 3 mile run on Saturday morning was around the  Prince’s Island Park area and so beautiful!

Later in the afternoon I took a nice slow walk to the expo at the Big 4 Building at Stampede Park, but it was  further than I thought and I’d definitely Uber next time. As for the expo, it was pretty basic but very quick and easy to get bibs and shirts.

I am not a fan of the race shirt, as many other people I talked to weren’t. There is gorgeous artwork on it, it just looks dumb on a shirt!

shirt

Also, the shirts are identical for all six different events (5k, 10k, half, full, 50k ultra and 150k relay/solo) with the only difference being the distance on the back. It’s too bad, because it’s fun when you’re super proud of the distance you tackled and get to wear your race top with your chest puffed out haha. A complaint I have about the expo was there was nowhere at all within or nearby (that I could find) to get anything to eat or drink! Obviously I brought a bottle of Nuun with me but when I ran out I couldn’t believe there was no water. Didn’t even see a drinking fountain to refill my bottle, though I’m a bit blind. Being hungry/thirsty isn’t something I’m into ever, especially not the day before a marathon. I know a race expo isn’t a food fair, but they can be fun to hang out at for a while and people spend a fair amount of time at them in some cases!

Crystal joined me at the Big Four to grab her package, and then we met the #werunsocial crew out front at the fountain for a visit and some pics.

20170528_170701

small crew, but good times.

 

From there we easily took the C-Train back to the downtown core and walked the two or three blocks back to the Westin.

Come race morning, Crystal and I arrived at the start around six via our hotel’s school bus shuttle, very easily checked our gear bags, and had no long waits for toilets inside the building or for porto-potties either. At this point, the porto-potties were still super clean and non-stinky. Bonus.

It wasn’t actually that bad getting into the start chute where I wanted to be, but I was in there by 6:45 and wouldn’t have wanted to try to squeeze in closer to the 7 am start. There was a massive line of runners shuffling in through one of the chute gate openings around the 3:45 marathon indicator flag a ways up in front of me, and they all just slowly merged in as the race began. I don’t actually know how anyone but the full marathoners were supposed to know where to go, unless they could find a pace bunny for their distance. I only saw big red flags for certain marathon times. Not much order, but I didn’t encounter any problems with it at all. Like YogiCrystal told me, just get there early and get into the chute where you want to be before it becomes a sardine can. This would have been a big problem if I’d needed one more bathroom visit before starting…

This race course has so many turns, but I managed to run the tangents much better than at Disney! I thought it was a nice course, pretty decent scenery-wise and less residential than Victoria, if I’m remembering correctly. There were lots of excellent aid stations with water, Ultima, some with Honey Stinger gels (not my jam, but still awesome) and cold sponges! The course description said thirteen aid stations I believe but I felt like there were more. Maybe both sides of the out-and-back portion counted as one. It was very well-aided! Okay. But now let me show you this. HAHAHAH

If I had know the course was this difficult, I think I would have have still registered, but I most definitely would not have come with a huge goal! I have to say I think it’s lame that Calgary uses this depiction of their marathon’s profile. Extremely misleading! Here’s another version of it on findmymarathon.com that I came across as well.

Combining this course with late-May hot weather (at least for me, coming from the mild north coast of BC) and my race plan was out the window. I’m very proud that I accepted this without becoming completely heartbroken or miserable. The fun of the Canada 150 theme, the spectator support (especially Lululemon YYC!) and my newfound love for the city of Calgary, and I managed to let go of the fact that this was nothing at all what I was expecting. I’m so happy I was able to finish the race with a good attitude, aside from a few hiccups. It was a serious struggle in the sun and knowing that a PR was out of reach, but I didn’t go to the dark place. Even though I fueled like a boss with Huma Gel, Clif Shots and Salt Stick Chews, my stomach still felt like it was eating itself and my legs felt like complete jello, but I made it.

Crystal had caught up to me by kilometer 39 and we took on the end of the run together. As we were running down the final hundred meters to the finish, I grabbed her hand and we finished together and it reminded me that running a marathon is running a marathon. It’s hard AF and a huge accomplishment to cross the finish line! Love my training buddies!

20170529_090107

I’ll buy the pics, they just aren’t all up yet on Marathonfoto!

The post-finish line area was great! There were some outside showers to wash off the salt all over us, lots of photographers to take our pics with the SWEET gigantic toonie-like medals that are also BELT BUCKLES hahaha, and there were lots of bananas, water and Ultima. I honestly don’t remember if I was given any other snacks because of post-marathon brain, but I know there was a tear-off strip on the bibs that could get you food somewhere after exiting the immediate finish area. It was also really nice that everyone got a cloth shopping bag from one of the sponsors, made it easier than trying to carry water, banana, possibly headphones for some people or a handheld water bottle like myself.

I have a bad habit of going home the day of the marathon. I like to go home! So I went back to the Westin to clean myself up and eventually make my way to the airport in an Uber. Sigh. I am never doing that again. Next time I’m planning a longer trip around the race. Thankfully both flights were just over an hour and I did a lot of stretching (and eating and drinking) at the airports.

During this marathon I discovered that I’ve become a much more mature athlete. Am I really sad that I didn’t run the sub-4 marathon that I’ve been training towards for months, or even come remotely close? Of course I am. But like I’ve said before, I’m a person not a robot, and on Sunday I was too hot, feeling weak and delirious and was getting my ass kicked too badly by the incline to execute my plan. I also was running a course nothing like what I expected! So I’m good! I have a 14.2 km race to run next weekend in leg 10 of the Skeena River Relay, and then it’s time to rest! Next marathon is in December and will be my only main focus of the fall, and I know Coach Andrew will help me be really ready for it.

Overall, I am glad that I went to the 2017 Calgary Marathon Weekend. I enjoyed the city, the event theme and the spectator support, and the host hotel was great. Personally, I think they should update the scale of their race course profile, and re-think the organization of the starting chute, and I think they should consider making the race shirts unique to the various distances.  I had a great weekend, but not outstanding enough to return since it was a ways for me to go. If I lived in Alberta and it was closer to me, I would likely participate again, but not with any goal aside from possibly a course-PR.

@jammiekomadina

Tenacious Ten weekend in Seattle!

When Oiselle announced that they’d partnered up with the Snohomish Running Company to host a race, I wanted to register immediately. Oiselle is my fave running apparel and girl-power brand, and the SRC, I learned, is an event production and promotion company with a goal to empower all runners and walkers of any ability to reach new goals and heights through a premium running experience before, during and after their events. Sounds like a good combo to host a racing event called The Tenacious Ten!

In January I joined the Oiselle Volée team, and I knew the inaugural Tenacious Ten would be a perfect opportunity to see what Oiselle is all about in real life, and in the city the company is based, Seattle! I knew I’d get the chance to meet some of the other Canadian runners, including our team leader, who I am in contact with on the team portal and get a feel for the Oiselle community for my first time at a race.

After travelling solo on my last big race trip and having an awesome time, I wasn’t worried about going to Seattle by myself if that’s the way it worked out, but my friend Whitney was stoked when I told her about it so we started planning our weekend! Airmiles tickets booked, accommodations arranged on AirBnB; we were set. Just had to wait three months for April to arrive haha. It did! Friday started early (like 4 am early) and our weekend was exciting, hilarious and interesting right from the beginning.

Arriving at the Terrace airport (more than an hour early), Air Canada told us we didn’t have seats on the flight we booked in January because we hadn’t checked in online. Since when is this a thing? What about people who aren’t  internet savvy or don’t have computers or smart phones?? The flight was oversold (again, how the eff is this even a thing? Happens all the time with Air Canada..) and if we didn’t get on, we could go tomorrow (Saturday), they said. Uh, no. Anyways. After an hour of trying to stay calm and me checking my heart-rate on my Garmin (lol) while mildly freaking out, an agent let us know we were “in luck” and had seats. It seemed she felt they’d done us a huge favour! Sorry for the rant but I can’t even believe all of that. So thankful my Calgary Marathon trip is with West Jet!!! Poor form, Air Canada!

We made it to YVR and then SeaTac where we cabbed straight to the Watertown Hotel for bib pickup. It wasn’t busy and getting our race stuff was very simple. The Tenacious Ten trucker hats are legit, although I would have picked a different colour if given the choice, and we also got a bunch of temporary tattoos for race day. Whitney had bought a race shirt too when she registered and it’s really nice! There was a pop-up shop of Oiselle gear, but we were heading to the store so we continued on.

From the hotel we took another taxi to the Oiselle flagship store in University Village and got down to business, aka shopping.

I wanna make this!

We hit Lulu as well (more success), and then took Whitney’s first ever Uber ride to our AirBnB in Fremont! She looooved it and on the way we enjoyed howling with laughter at the shirtless frat boys playing beer pong on a patio. LOL. ‘Murica.

I’m not going to get into too many details about our accomodation, but it wasn’t exactly what was expected. Shirley the dog greeted us along side our host, and let’s just say the house smelled strongly of Shirley and looked like a chaotic vintage museum…BUT, it was a fifteen minute walk from Gasworks Park where the race started and finished, the neighborhood was awesome, and the place was fabulous in its own ways, as was our host, Lisa. 🙂 Oh, it was also steps from the Fremont Troll. Ahh. Next, pizza time at Tutta Bella and early bed time!

On Saturday we were up at six to get the day rolling. WOOOOO RACE MORNING SO EFFING FUN!!!!!!!! I was so pumped to rock the Volée singlet for this race! Breakfast was a mocha protein shake, banana, melon and bakery biscuit, and then we put on our bibs and fake tats and hit the road on foot to Gasworks Park. I brought a disposable bottle of Nuun with me for the walk.

What a sweet place for pre and post race! This park is beautiful! It has a great view of Lake Union and surrounds the remains of an old gas plant! The weather was cooperative too. This is NOT my pic, obviously, but here’s Gasworks.

I met the Canadian Volée members for a team pic and then Whitney and I went into the stage area to join in the warmup, lead by some guys from Kinetic Sports Rehab. The warm up was full, fun and people were into it, and then it was time to make our way to the starting area!

 

Volee Canada!

The start was self-seeding based on the min/mile pace a participant planned to run. I squeezed in a little ways behind the 8 min/mile sign and then chatted with Shannon from the Washington Volée and listened to the music blasting. No throwaway clothing was needed, not cold at all. It was a narrow mass start of all the 10k and 10mi runners (about 1200 people) which made the first 100m or so fairly congested, but after that it was smooth with lots of room. This course is not flat, but I would not call it “hilly” by any means and in my personal opinion as a Rupert Runner, there were zero significant hills. I can see how someone from a very flat area could find this course a bit hilly, so please keep in mind my opinion of the profile is subjective to where I live! In the last few hundred metres of the 10 mile route we had to run around a big grassy knoll, up and down some very short but steep hills (you can see it in the pic of the park) but I still didn’t find it “hilly”. It was great! My Garmin registered an elevation gain of 66m.

route

There were just a few water stations but that seemed adequate, a few small but inspiring cheer stations with lots of cowbell, and enough course directors and arrow markers (big bright stickers on the ground) to keep things organized. The route was really nice, and running over the bridges was soooo sweeeeet. The out and back portion of the 10mi course was on a bike path and I enjoyed seeing other runners both ahead of me and behind me, and hearing and giving encouragement.

Finishing in the park was so perfect! The short but steep hills around the grassy knoll seemed so cruel at the 10 mile mark of the race but I joked about it with the volunteers who were giving us our last directions. Whitney and my friend Justin were both at the finish when I crossed and we got a pic with the amazing COWBELL medals!!!!!

This was a race size that made it easy to find someone you were looking for and easy to get a Porta potty. It wasn’t overwhelming, but there were enough runners to create a really good vibe! The DJ was WICKED and I’m pretty sure he was playing Ma$e and Nelly just for Whitney and I while we hydrated, snacked on donuts and Picky Bars, Snapchatted like it was going out of style and stretched in the stage area.

#weartheloveCS

ahhhhhh!!

We stuck around for about half of the awards announcements which were hosted by Oiselle founder and CEO, Sally Bergensen, and Oiselle’s “master of shenanigans” Dr. Sarah Lesko. It was nice that the announcements started promptly at 9:30; there wasn’t much waiting around at all. One thing that will stay with me forever, was when Sally said that “everyone is invited, but you are the ones who showed up“.  It’s true. We showed up to race and be awesome and did just that. Official chip time results were accesible on multiple computers available to the runners which was so convenient, so we got our results and then took the walk back to our place to clean up and chill out.

I am happy with the race I ran! Although I didn’t do a very good job at pacing (went out too fast in the first kilometers, sagged in the middle, wasn’t able to shit-kick the end..) I am still content with my overall time and that I felt strong during almost all of the race. I din’t have any soreness or injuries, gut issues or any other unwanted suprises while running. Also, I experienced what I needed to to really understand the importance of holding back at the beginning! As for hydration, next time I’ll run with my handheld water bottle because I’ve decided I officially dislike drinking from the little cups and always spill all over myself and swallow air or choke!

What I gather from talking to other runners is that the results look a tiny bit fast..most people said their official time was close to a minute faster than Garmin time, which was true for me too… but we go with official results! Hahaha so here is how I fared and I am very good with it, and feeling stoked to make a precise pacing plan with Coach Andrew for Calgary in less than FIVE weeks!!!!!!

Whitney and I spent the rest of the weekend winning the tourist Olympics! We ate everything, went to Pike Place (and of course the first Starbucks), met Loounch the Bull Terrier, gave REI all of our money and then wrapped up our day with the most delicious Caribbean sandwiches at Paseo and then gelato at the Fainting Goat, all in Fremont. You need to go there! Also highly recommend Roxy’s Diner for brunch, which is where we ate on Sunday morning! Our final Uber ride back to SeaTac from Fremont was about thirty bucks.

The weekend in Seattle for the Tenacious Ten was SO good. Weather was awesome, Uber’ing around was simple, the race was a wicked experience and the “tourist Olympics” was a success! I would definitely recommend the Tenacious Ten to anyone in the area or anyone with a special place in their heart for Oiselle and/or Seattle. The race is quite small and many people only like to travel to massive events, but I will return to this race again if my schedule permits it!! Excellent vibes and lots of girl power, even though it’s a co-ed event!