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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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

Spring is (hopefully) here!

AHHHHHHHHHHHH.It’s officially Spring as of yesterday. It has been truly winter-like for us here on the northwest coast of BC where it’s usually super mild! It has lasted longer than I can ever remember in the past and since I’ve pretty much trained straight through between Fall and Spring racing seasons due to Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, I’VE NOTICED.. I’m not complaining, just noticing and feeling ready for the weather to change!

 

I BOUGHT A TREADMILL AND I’M SO EXCITED!!! (is that weird?)

I’ve spent a fair amount of time on a treadmill since the fall and I have actually come to love doing certain speed workouts and hill intervals on the infamous “dreadmill”. I EVEN BOUGHT MY OWN. Never thought I’d say that. My machine hasn’t arrived yet, but it’s shipped and soon this baby will be mine…probably the day the last bit of snow melts hahaha.

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NordicTrack C1750 coming my way!

I plan to use my new treadmill throughout the year (and probably decorate it to reflect festive times) to throw in a few extra miles here and there when I have spare time at home, for specific workouts from Coach Andrew, and when the weather is BRUTAL.

Over the snowy months I also invested in some (run)Yaktrax and have not only come to highly appreciate them, but to love them! So awesome! If you like to run outside regardless of the snow and ice, you need to get a pair of these. Unreal. I wonder if they go on sale in the non-snowy months?

yaktraxI’m ready for any late(r) dumps of snow that decide to suprise us, AND I have the option to train in the comfort of my own home any time I feel like it now, too. Yess.

 

Okay, back to Spring.

The things I’m most excited about, besides feeling my runners come into direct contact with the pavement, are more daylight to accomodate both super early and after work runs, spring & summer gear, and RACES. Duh.

Bring on the shorts weather! Shorts & fun compression socks! I have a few new pairs of new shorts from Oiselle that I can’t even wait to be free in! And speaking of compression socks, I was recently contacted by a rep from Tiux who asked if I’d be interested in trying their new endurance socks. (Duh). He sent me the True Red/Maroon Endurance graduated compression socks and they are REALLY awesome. My feet are crazy (and gross) and I really don’t like socks that are too thick, thin (blisters & calluses), slide down, don’t breathe, etc, etc, etc. These socks are awesome. I tested them out on a treadmill run of about 8km in a pair of shoes I don’t wear outdoors, and then again in my usual long-run Nikes last weekend for a very long, very soggy 33km with Sam, and my feet were feeling totally fine by the end of it. The leg compression feels good, not too tight but tight enough, and the colour is sweet. They are also specific to left and right. I’m sold. If you want to get yourself a pair, here is my link for 15% off! http://tiux.refr.cc/jamiek

 

What is Coming Up?

Now that my two goal races for spring are approaching, I’ve decided to recap each week of training on Sundays here on the blog going forward so stay tuned for that on Sunday if you are a runNerd like me and enjoy that type of thing! This is going to be mostly for accountability and reflection, but who knows, maybe it will be interesting to you, motivating, or spark ideas.

First goal race is THE TENACIOUS TEN presented by my most favourite running apparel company, Oiselle. I love Oiselle and I recently became part of their Oiselle Volee team, which is a global community made up of women with diverse running backgrounds and competitive goals.


This race is happening in Seattle on April 22nd which also happens to be Earth Day, starting and finishing in Gasworks Park. There is a ten mile as well as a ten kilometer race. I’m running the ten miler, while my friend Whitney is taking on the 10k. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS WEEKEND TRIP! The medal is A COWBELL and all runners get a Tenacious 10 trucker hat.

Woo. I look foward to leaving it all out there – shit is gonna get (the good kind of) ugly – and then I will use the experience as a way to refine my goals for…

The CALGARY MARATHON on May 28th! This will be my first time attempting to break 4 hours in the marathon. I have run three full marathons so far and I feel ready, but anything can happen on race day. There is a crew of #rupertrunners heading to Calgary for various distances during this event weekend and it’s going to be a very Canadian time as the weekend theme is Canada’s 150th birthday. Canadian flag compression socks from Running Skirts will be a must at this race. Will report back, of course.

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New, very far in advance plans

OH and lastly for today..I have a problem. I want to run every race. I’m also pretty impulsive, not afraid to run alone or travel alone, and I like planning shit. So yeah. I picked out my fall marathon already, California International Marathon, and then, when I somehow came to notice that registration for the BMO Mesa-Phoenix is already open (a February marathon I’ve been interested in for a bit) I did some more reading to find out that it usually sells out, so.. yeah I registered for that too. Whoops. At least defferals are allowed.. 🙂

Race Reviews: Vancouver Hot Chocolate Run & West Van Run 10km!

I started my weekend even more pumped than usual after being selected as a Momentum Jewelry ambassador on Wednesday, and then registering for CIM on Friday while waiting on the results of my (unsuccessful) NYC Marathon lottery entry! (More about these things another time.) Also, this time around I didn’t need to travel six thousand kilometers through four different airports to get to my races! How nice, lol! Even so, I dealt with a flight delay in both directions…I’m so over delayed flights! The weather showed this statement for Vancouver area over the weekend and I got a bit nervous…lots of my friends suffered the disappointment of First Half being cancelled in early February!

It was a relief on Saturday when we woke up to a really nice day! Try Events’ Vancouver Hot Chocolate Run was the first of two events this weekend. Since my friend Emma is the coordinator of the Try Events volunteers, we got there early and I helped with packet pickup while she did her thing with her fifty or more volunteers! If you live in the GVRD and are looking to volunteer, this is a fun way to help out.

The start and finish area was at Lumberman’s Arch Concession in Stanley Park, which wasn’t open (too bad) but it was a good spot either way. Getting there was easy – it’s right beside the aquarium and it looked like parking was convenient and easy for those who drove. Not going to lie, the packet pickup could have been WAY more organized, but even so, I highly appreciate the option to pick up on the day of the race. I found my own bib and shoe tag and then helped out at the table as best I could. The gear check was more legit than at the Historic Half, where it was an unattended coat closet in Stanley Park Pavilion…sketchy. Never bring valuables with you to a race, and keep your ID and phone on you!

As it got closer to the 10am start, November Project Vancouver lead a fun warmup and then the 10.4km runners (250 ish participants) were sent off, and shortly after the 5km runners, which had about the number. Seriously beautiful day!! The course was well marked and the volunteers along the route did a good job making sure nobody took a wrong turn. Even though it was a simple loop of Stanley Park, there are a couple turns where a runner could easily go the wrong way. The two water stops were minimal but seemed to work fine for the size of the race, and I got to see two friends who were volunteers at the first water station! There are a few places on the route with public bathrooms, like by Second Beach Pool, which I unfortunately had to stop at but didn’t really mind since I wasn’t “racing.”

As far as I know, there were only photos taken at the start and finish of the race, and from what I saw on Facebook I didn’t end up with a finish line photo myself. Dang. These photos are just in a big album so you need to go on to the Try Events Facebook page and look through them to find yourself if you want a race pic. My friend Joe, the finish-line announcer, did a fine job shouting out to I’m pretty sure every single finisher, and once crossing the finish mat all runners received the cutest finisher’s medal. How cool is this medal? All finishers also received an event mug and hot chocolate!

I didn’t take a race shirt when getting my bib before the race because I never end up wearing them, but the shirts were actually really nice, long-sleeve tech shirts in a royal blue colour. People loved them! Stanley Park is such a wicked place to run, and the start/finish area worked well. Unlike my last Try Events race, however, there wasn’t a venue to actually go inside, so it was lucky that the weather cooperated precipitation-wise.

I totally enjoyed this event. I definitely got a fun-run feel vs. a “race” feel, which was what I was there for that day myself anyway, to warm up for the official 10km race the following morning in West Van, but I know there are people who race to win regardless of the event and in their case it probably felt more competetive. It’s what you make it, right? There was a kid’s race as well which made the whole morning very family-friendly, if that’s something you’re looking for. I’d recommend the Hot Chocolate Run for sure if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t make my way to Vancouver just to participate in this one.

Later than night Emma (above) and I treated ourselves to a sleepover at the Four Seasons hahaha. A hot tub and lazy evening followed by the best sleep in a huge comfy bed was the best before event #2.

It snowed over night! But West Van Run was on it and I woke up early on Sunday morning to an email from the event coordinators letting runners know it was STILL ON! Highly appreciated, it really sucks to be left hanging and unsure if the event will proceed!

After my breakfast and slimroast (no time for gut problems today, no thank you!) and figuring out what to wear in a cold, slushy race that I was taking seriously, I took a cab to the West Van Community Centre because I didn’t feeling like dealing with transit on the way to the race, although it was definitely an option. It was about $20 from downtown Van.

I need to be honest here, I’m pretty dissapointed in how poorly the event theme, which was Super Heroes, was promoted. I didn’t see anything about it anywhere aside from on the West Van Run website under “info” and they were pretty good about promoting the event all over social media, just never mentioning anything about super heroes! I made a sweet batgirl costume but after waking up that morning with a bit of a sore throat, snow, and a little sad that Emma wasn’t coming with me because she’s injured, I just said forget it. I’m glad I did, because there were only two people I saw dressed up out of just about 500 participants! Anyways. Getting to the community center was easy and parking looked good for those who drove. The restrooms got pretty busy, but nothing out of control. Same day bib pickup was smooth and easy and participants got a West Van Run water bottle (pretty nice, actually) and then I got to hang out inside for an hour and stay warm and comfy. Bag check was just as easy, and the gear was transferred for us to the finish area at Dundarave Park. I did my own little warm up inside, and then five minutes or so before the 8:30 start time, I went outside and joined in with the warm-up crew. Then we walked to the start line which was just a few meters in front of the community centre on the street. It was a mass start with chip timing and there was basically zero time spent outside getting cold. Awesome!

My shwings were the extent of my costume..

The course was fast, mostly flat with a few downhill sections, and the second half was beautiful and scenic going through Ambleside Park and along the West Van Seawall. No complaints about the first half, I just wouldn’t call Park Royal beautiful or scenic haha. I actually can’t even remember if there were multiple water stops because I felt REALLY good during my entire run and was on a mission, not looking for water, but there was one place I remember volunteers handing out bottled water. I also don’t remember noticing Porta Potties, but there had to have been somewhere to go the bathroom? I hope so! The last two kilometres along the seawall were amaaaazing and it was really motivating being able to see the finish line over a kilometer in the distance!  I made friends with a young girl running a similar pace and we pushed each other and both finished under 50 minutes! Sallee won her division and I destroyed my 5:15/km pace goal that I set for myself…I low-balled hard, probably in fear of failing. Must stop doing this. YES! 4:59/km average pace! So proud of myself!

No participant medals or shirts included in this race, just medals for the winners, and I didn’t buy a shirt when I registered, but the post-race food was great; it was indoors, simple to exchange the tear-off part of the bib in exchange for a snack bag, and there was some good stuff in those paper bags, including this mint birch sap beverage by 52 North that deserves a mention. Check it out here. It took seriously one second to get my gear bag which I was thankful for because it was cold and my feet were soaked from the slushy course, and then I walked a block up to Marine Drive and hopped on the bus back to downtown Vancouver. It couldn’t have been easier! You don’t need a vehicle to get to this event, that is for sure!

I loved this race! Although I didn’t stick around for long after because I wanted to get back to the hotel to my friends, it was a great race experience! There was an awesome balance of competetive and fun vibes and it was extremely well organized. The slushy roads weren’t the best, obviously, but it could have been so much worse. I highly recommend this event and I would plan a Vancouver weekend to participate again in the future. There is a 5km race on the Saturday and 10km on Sunday, and next time I think I’ll register for both. Very good experience!

Overall, both of these events were great and I recommend both. The best part for me, of course, was having another breakthrough racing experience like I did in November at the Historic Half, but that’s not part of these race reviews so you can read about that sometime very soon in a separate post if you’re interested!

Peeeeace!

Day 5: WDW Marathon!!

When you hear “Florida” what do you think of? I think of heat, humidity, palm trees, Miami by Will Smith and Dexter. 

After the lightning and rain storm yesterday, cold weather came in fast and I’m still in shock! It was close to zero degrees Celsius and the wind chill was crazy. I knew it had seriously cooled off so I added a thermal layer on top of my throwaway shirt and brought a garbage bag for a wind breaker but I was not even close to adequately prepared (and neither were 75% of the other eighteen thousand runners.) Who knew freezing in Florida was a thing.

Serious Tip: ANYTHING can happen on race day. I thought I understood this but was proven wrong. For real, to have been comfortable this morning from exiting my Uber (3:45 am) to actually starting the race from corral H (6 am), I would have needed an additional throwaway toque, gloves, jacket or thick blanket and sweats or jammie pants. It was FREEZING. It was colder than the Historic Half in Vancouver on November 28th! Mind: blown. On a positive note, the gear-bag check was super fast and easy, which was my first task after arriving to Epcot for the fourth and final race. Huge compliments to runDisney on the organization. I don’t think it was necessary for me to go quite as early as they suggest, but personally the idea of being late is too stressful for me.

To avoid freezing, after a quick pic with Dopey himself I joined in at the pump-up stage where the DJ was directing a massive Macarena HAHAHA! I also hid in a couple Porto Potties for a few minutes here and there to escape the wind. Then I joined the crowds huddled by some patio heat lamps that weren’t even on (LOL) and met a dude from Edmonton who’s teeth were chattering as much as mine. It was honestly brutal.

It was a long wait til corral walk-out and when it was time to head out I was grateful to be moving and jogged pretty much on the spot, shuffling along with the massive crowd for the 15 minutes it took to get there. Thankfully the race started efficiently (sent of by Mickey with fireworks for each corral!) at 5:30 and I was across the start mat by 6.

I didn’t ditch my outer layer for at least the first 6km which is unheard of for me as I am a notorious over-heater. A headwind that felt below zero wasn’t helping anyone warm up and unfortunately this headwind was a factor in other parts of the race, not just the beginning. I did eventually warm up of course, tossing my second layer as we entered Magic Kingdom. Your bib number needs to be showing to get race pics and I was warm by this time but still thankful I wore my arm warmers. At around 8km when I saw this I cried (not my pic, but this is what the castle looks like at this time of year.)

castle

The castle was so pretty I really did actually cry. It’s hard to explain the emotions in your body during a huge run like this but it’s REALLY overwhelming. For example, in the corral there was a woman running her very first marathon and when our starting fireworks went off she started happy-crying and hugging me and we had met 30 seconds prior. Or during my first marathon, BMO Vancouver, I started crying in the first 500 meters running down Cambie Street just realizing that I trained for this and was going to accomplish something huge.

The sun was just barely up and Magic Kingdom was lit up with frosty lights from the holiday season and the most beautiful thing of the entire weekend FOR SURE. This was the first place with massive spectator crowds and it was so overwhelming. People who go out to marathons to cheer should be recognized because it is one of the most inspiring parts of running one!

At all different sections of the course there were characters, gospel choirs, varsity teams cheering and marching bands and cheerleaders, stilt performers, acrobats on trampolines and thousands of spectators. The course starts at Epcot, goes through Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, ESPN Sports Complex, Hollywood Studios and ends back at Epcot.

I am so impressed with the number and quality of aid stations. There were 19 in total I believe and all had Powerade and water, and some also had bananas, Clif shot gels and even candy!! I think I ate a total of 2 bananas and a package of M&Ms during my run which was extremely helpful. As well as my own gels and Honey Stinger Gummies, I tried the raspberry Clif Shot and it was like getting Lucky Charms as a kid when you have Shreddies parents. YUM. I’ll be buying a case of those.

There were also certain stations where the volunteers were handing out little popsicle sticks with blobs of Vaseline and for this I am extremely grateful because my inner arms were chafing like a b!+*# and it was getting hard to ignore. Again, anything can happen on race day. I don’t usually use Body Glide on my inner arms. Suprise.

Towards the last quarter of the race we ran through ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and through a stadium with a big screen showing all the runners and there were lots of people in the stands cheering and supporting. This was around the infamous 32km (20 mile) mark of any marathon. I was struggling at this point and the spectators are one of the biggest things that helped me keep going.

As was the case in the last full marathon I ran in October (Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon) the last 10km were very difficult for me. I took lots of 15-30 second walk breaks and told myself that running slow is faster than walking, and that I could break 4:10 if I pushed. Turns out if I had done a better job running the tangents I definitely could have made that goal. Dammit. At the finish line my Garmin clocked 42.76km, so I ran an extra half-kilometer due to the twisting of the course and the weaving around runners at a slower pace than mine. Regardless, I am overjoyed with a time of 4:11:27 and 103/1523 runners in the Women’s 30-34 division, and in the top 12% of all 17,729 runners! Wooooo!!!

photopass_visiting_wdwrundisney_395935114156

It does not get old haha, my throat closed up after crossing the finish line and I started to ugly-cry a bit while feeling pretty much the happiest and most proud feelings that exist. Volunteers presented us with the Mickey marathon medals right away and after the sports drinks and water section the Goofy and Dopey Challengers got to receive the 1/2 marathon medal from the cancelled race on Saturday (yahoo for every person who ran their own unofficial half!) and the Goofy and Dopey medals! Because I am a nerd I brought the 5km and 10km medals in my gear bag so I had all six with me!! Gear pickup was even easier than check-in and I think knowing this now I might have even checked a bag for the 10km race on Friday. Impressive.

A note about your gear bag, pack more than you think you might need. I was pretty good with my long-sleeve technical Dopey shirt, a thick new Gryffindor sweatshirt (LOL,) my favourite Oiselle toque and the space blankets they hand out, but the way the body cools down after running for that amount of time, I could have used a parka and snowboard pants considering the Florida temperature that I didn’t know existed.

I didn’t allow myself to get distracted and forget about recovery, and chugged a sports drink and a water and ate a protein bar and a banana. I stretched in the reunion area, and then again at home and warmed up thoroughly and put on a super warm outfit. All day long I made sure to hydrate and snack, and on the plane (omg. Do not fly home the day of the marathon. Why do I always do this??) I got up to stretch my legs as many times as possible without being an A-hole to the guy sitting in the aisle seat.

Over 24 hours after getting up on marathon morning I got to the the Fairmont YVR at 2am after a delayed flight from SEA-TAC to Vancouver and had the most glorious birthday sleep in a king bed. GLORIOUS.

To wrap it all up, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is INCREDIBLE! True, a lot of the running isn’t right in a magical park, but it isn’t possible to map out courses of that length all within the parks because they aren’t big enough!The courses are mostly flat with just a few small hills going up overpasses or over bridges in the parks. The energy of all the events is unexplainable and the expo, official race gear, organization, volunteers, aid stations, cast-members, medals and finish-line support is absolutely amazing and all very well organized. The time change was a bigger issue for me than expected. I slept a lot after each race and I didn’t do nearly as many activities as I thought I might while visiting the Orlando area, but I came here to do my favourite thing which is RUN and I got everything out of this trip that I wanted, and more. If you are planning a runDisney event in Orlando, let me know!

OH, and my friend Lindsay always wants to know what the post-race meal consists of, so let me tell you, the lobster eggs benny at SoCo in Orlando was possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

Day 4: Unofficial WDW 1/2 Marathon!

Ok, runners are unreal. So passionate. Always pushing to prove it to themselves. So supportive to all others in the sport. The running community, from friends to strangers, is solid and today I saw the best examples of all of this, and of the human spirit really.

I slept properly since there was nothing I could be late for today, and Ches from The KOR Project picked me up and we headed to Disney Springs to run 21.1km (aka 13.1 miles, for him) and to hit up the #WeRunSocial meetup at 1pm.

The second we parked, it was obvious that HUNDREDS of registrants for the cancelled half-marathon were all running it anyway. Everywhere I looked I saw the bright yellow long-sleeve Donald Duck race shirts, tons of people wearing their Half, Goofy or Dopey bibs, some people alone, some in groups. We started our own run and no joke, every person including the other runners and random people just visiting Disney Springs were shouting and cheering on the half-marathoners! Some of the stores had stations set up outside and were handing out water just like an aid-station in an actual race. There were random spots where people had stashed water bottles and sports drinks near trees or shrubs around the golf course. High-fives were going down every couple of seconds. INSANITY! It sounds cheesy but I actually do not think I have been this inspired in a long time. And this was just one area! Disney is HUGE! I’d love to know how many people ran their own “race” today.

At about 16km it was almost 1pm so we headed to the Carousel for the meetup only to find out on Twitter it had been changed to Starbucks because it was raining. (Laughter from Prince Rupert people.)  We ripped over there and met up with the leaders and I’m glad we ran because apparently I get a free pair of PROCompression socks for being so punctual. People started to show up and we were vising and talking about the unfortunate circumstances due to the weather. Some had already ran today, some were going later and some planned to make it up the following weekend, but everyone had a plan and everyone was upbeat. Such a good crew of people, and I even got to meet my Instagram woman-crush, Heather!! This chick is FAST! Like, she might win the whole thing tomorrow for real.

Then we took the standard #WeRunSocial group pic and Ches and I continued on to finish our distance.

This is what the 1/2 Marathon medal looks like, which I will receive tomorrow at the finish (along with the Marathon, Goofy & Dopey medals.) This here is a baggage tag that we all got as swag for the 20th anniversary of the Walt Disney World 1/2 Marathon, but since it didn’t end up happening I guess the anniversary will be next year!? Who knows! Funny how when I was given this I didn’t have a suitcase to put it on….my bag came late Thursday evening by the way.

As disappointing as it was for the race to be cancelled today, it was an awesome day with awesome people. I was able to run at a very easy pace without a race atmosphere and this will only help me tomorrow. Now it’s bed time because I have my third full marathon to run tomorrow and a 32nd birthday to celebrate! I know the energy tomorrow on the course is going to be crazy after everything that has happened due to cancellation! People came together today and it was amazing! Talk to you tomorrow, can’t wait for all six pieces of bling!!

Day 3: WDW 10km! (caution, this post contains very bad news)

I couldn’t sleep again! But the nap after race #1 must have been enough because I was functioning fine. Instead of rolling around I got up at 2:30 and started getting the Donald Duck disguise put together and had the standard peanut butter and banana toast race-day breakfast.

My Uber experience was perfect today. We followed the runDisney directions and I ended up in the drop-off/taxi/bus lot where I should have yesterday, and then I walked a couple hundred metres to join the mass crowds from the event transportation from resort hotels and walk to the starting area. Easy. After that simplicity, I now fully recommend my accommodations to others travelling here for a runDisney event!

Almost immediately after entering corral B, I met up with my new friend Dave from yesterday! Unplanned too! We decided to meet in the Reunion Area afterwards and he would give me a lift back to my place since his Marriot hotel was close! I am telling you this because despite what you may think, travelling to a racing event alone is not lonely. Everyone’s here for the same reasons and the majority are happy, excited and into meeting new people, especially the other solo runners. Tons of people come here on a family vacation but just the mom or dad takes part in the running events, or one person is running who travelled with their non-runner spouse, etc. It’s like when you are in the single line for the chairlift at the ski hill, you just don’t actually have to yell out at a bunch of strangers that you’re alone haha.

The 10km had a different vibe than the 5km. It is timed, for one, and not considered a fun-run event. I LOVED IT! But to be honest with you, the first half of the race is not in a Disney park, it’s around it.

10km

I thoroughly enjoyed this race! Even the road running was fun, with so many people and the good energy, almost felt like half-regular racing event, half-Disney event. There were still characters on this part of the course which was awesome. There were a few short, gradual uphills and downhills, and it was kind of a nice warmup to be feeling really good once we entered Epcot around the 5km mark. The second half we ran throughout Epcot, the scenic World Showcase and Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. There were way more spectators than yesterday and I loved running on the boardwalk. This place is unreal! Personally, I was feeling amazing and loving the “GO DONALD!!!!” and “I LOVE YOU, DONALD!!!” that I was getting from the spectators and cast-members! Note, I plan to buy my race pics and that’s why I am posting this proof. There are mixed viewpoints on if this is okay or not, so had to let you know.

At some point during this race I officially picked one of my multiple weekend strategy options which was:

  1. Easy 5km, stop for photos if I want, enjoy my first Disney run
  2. Run well and smart, not a race-pace that I’d aim for if I were running only a 10km this weekend, but a good solid effort
  3. Take the half-marathon at an easy and comfortable pace, saving my body for the finale on Sunday (BIRTHDAY MARATHON!!!)
  4. Do my absolute very best effort based on the condition of my energy and physical body.

I did very well for myself and was feeling great after crossing the finish line, but made sure to chug one of the Powerades given out right after the medals (omg look)

and drinking a ton of water and eating a banana immediately. I found Dave easily, who also had a good run he said, and then as soon as he dropped me off at home I ate a Clif Builder protein bar from the race snack box, another banana, more water and the elixir of life: CHOCOLATE MILK. No room for laziness in recovery on a weekend like this! I did a full-body stretch, showered and cleaned up a bit to keep my body moving a little more, and then got into bed for a 4 hour sleep.
I didn’t take many pics today, and I don’t have a ton to report that was different from yesterday, but one thing I didn’t mention was how much discussion was going on about the potential rain and lightening forecasted for tomorrow. All the talk was not creating a good vibe in the corral so I ignored and enjoyed my Prince Rupert rain-tolerant mindset. But now I have to tell you the worst thing ever.

Yes you read that correctly. All races tomorrow are cancelled. Not even lying. Heartbroken. I’m more than a little upset right now. There is lots of talk happening on Twitter about meet-ups being organized by angry Goofy Challenge and Dopey Challenge participants to run the half-marathon distance at some point tomorrow on their own accord. I haven’t decided exactly what my plan is, but Ches from The KOR Project and I have decided to run 21.1 km at some point tomorrow. It will be at a very easy recovery pace. I can’t accept my Goofy and Dopey medals, and rock the race challenge shirts (which are actually nice, I am VERY picky and rarely like race shirts) unless I run a half-marathon distance tomorrow. So I’ll keep you posted on what happens. There is loud thunder crashing and a downpour happening as I’m typing this so I get it, Disney is doing their job with respect to safety, I just wish they would have waited to make a more last-minute decision in the case that this storm has passed by the early morning hours…GAHHHH!!! Talk to you soon!