The 2018 Tenacious Ten!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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wild Friday night!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

right around the 9 mile marker! One mile left!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk soon from Week 3!

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2018 Sprouts Mesa-PHX Marathon! Race Recap

I love the marathon! What a beast of a distance. If you follow me on here, you know I went down to Phoenix to have a good time, do my best, and because I don’t think I could go from December (CIM) until the end of July (Jack & Jill) without running another one! Thank you to my coach and Lifelong Endurance for understanding that!

This trip was a quick one. When I decided to go back to school, I knew I’d need to be conservative going forward to save as much money as possible! So here’s my weekend recap and event review! I won’t lie to you, it wasn’t my best weekend, but the event itself was awesome!

On Thursday I flew out of Terrace super early to Vancouver where I connected to Phoenix. I didn’t check any bags since it was only a 2-night trip, plus my track record with lost bags… Upon arrival, I had no internet on my phone which was a huge pain in the ass and I had to take a real taxi instead of an Uber to the hotel. The result was about three times the cost, but I did what I had to do. Later I found out there was an issue with roaming on the AT&T network or something…it was fixed within a few hours, but unfortunately my trip kinda started with frustration, on top of lack of sleep.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Phoenix-Mesa/Chandler was where I booked for this trip. This was one of the hotels listed as partners for accommodation on the race website, and though not super close to the finish line, it was more reasonably priced. I’ve had great experiences with the Holiday Inn in the past, so I went with it. Next time, I’ll just suck it up and stay at the closest hotel! I was smack in the middle of freeways with not much at all to walk to or explore, and I felt a bit isolated. It wasn’t a good location for final pre-race runs, either. Also, I hate to be negative, but there wasn’t a single thing indicating that this hotel was partnered with the race. Usually host hotels welcome runners in one way or another, and host a buffet the night before. A woman I met was told there’d be water, fruit and granola bars in the lobby for runners on race morning, but come Saturday the gentleman at the desk didn’t know what she was talking about.. As for the hotel in general, it was alright, but a tad dumpy compared to other Holiday Inns, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend the restaurant.

Anyways! Email communication from the race organizers was fantastic all along. After arriving I received more info/reminders about the expo, and then another email addressing runners’ concerns about the new 6am start and whether or not headlamps would be necessary. I didn’t feel I needed a light at all, but lots of people brought them and it was nice to get some guidance on that!

On Friday after a short, tired and less than scenic run, followed by a hard nap, I Uber’d to the expo. I was feeling negative because of a headache, lack of sleep and an old blister on one of my heels that turned into a giant painful owie from wearing gumboots the week before. It was causing me significant pain. I hoped the energy at the expo would cheer me up, and it did! It was set up outdoors in a parking area at Mesa Riverview shopping centre.

It was what I expected for the size of this race – good, but nothing extravagant. There were spots for photos, lots of good vendors, and it was cool that some of the expo was within tents, with another section outside and uncovered. I had no problem quickly grabbing my race packet. The shirts, which are tank tops, are awesome and I will definitely wear mine in real life! There were lots of samples, including Clif, who would be on-course the next day. My favourite running shoe brand, Altra, was there selling unboxed returns for sixty bucks! My eyes popped out of my head and I left with two new pairs of road and trail runners. PRO Compression was there, of course, and the WeRunSocial meetup that they sponsor started at 4pm. We all received t-shirts that were printed with a cool pic from a previous year’s race and they fit amazingly! We all visited for a bit, took a big group photo, and then I went back to the hotel for an early night.

this is Elle! I love her. She won one of my Instagram contests in the past!

one of my favourite run bloggers and inspirations, Carlee

the 2018 Mesa-PHX #werunsocial & PRO crew!!! Ryan is holding the AZ sock ❤

Once back in my room, I organized my race kit and packed a gear bag for after the race, which included a sweatshirt, jacket, sandals, face wipes, Excedrin and a few sample snacks from Carlee. Race packets included a massive sticker with the participant’s bib number on it to stick on to the gear-check bag. Super handy!

Ready to go, equipped with my essentials, including my Volee crop and AZ PRO socks!

Two-thirty am, my alarm went off, not that I was sleeping! Start-line busses ran from 3:30 to 4:45am and the race began at 6. I got organized, microwaved my oatmeal and guzzled some Nuun and coffee, then headed to the lobby to meet my new friend and Uber partner, Eric. My heel was killing me and it was swollen, but since it was mostly painful to walk, vs. run, I tried to forget about it. I recruited another woman in the elevator, and the three of us shared a ride back to Mesa Riverview where school busses shuttled runners to the starting area on top of the Ursery Mountain. This is a point-to-point race, my fave! It was all very easy, well-marked and organized. Zero stress whatsoever regarding the getting-to-the-start process!

This was my favourite starting area of any race I’ve ever participated in! THERE WERE CAMP FIRES!!! And this was good because it was COLD! They were also blasting the best tunes.

I found Elle almost immediately. Yay. And shortly after, Brian, Carlee and Ryan.

Brian, PRO Compression Ambassador Boss haha

Another athlete also coached by Lifelong Endurance, Kate, recognized me and came to say hello and chat before the race. I was so happy to meet her and hear about her goal, which she crushed! I wish we took a pic!

it was easy to identify our crew with the AZ socks!

The forecast predicted it to be a cold one relative to other years, but it was colder than I expected, just like at CIM! On top of my race outfit, I had a throwaway wooly headband, a long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, my RUNVAN gloves from the Fall Classic, and the thin zip jacket that runners received at the CIM finish line. If it weren’t for the fires, I would have been regretting not having sweatpants. Runners were allowed to stay on the busses as long as they wanted so it would have been fine either way. Bring throwaway layers!

After the national anthem and a couple measly but appreciated fireworks, we were instructed to file towards the starting line, self-seeding based on where the pacers were located. Then we were off!

It was dark, but not pitch black! I could see just fine. I started off pretty relaxed, but had some anxiety since unfortunately I hadn’t been able to go to the bathroom yet…ughhhhh. Not a good way to begin..It was chilly and I kept my long-sleeved shirt on for the first half of the race! It wasn’t overly crowded, which was awesome. I believe there were around 2000 full marathon bibs.

The first almost 7 kilometers are downhill. I’ve heard reports that it’s steep enough to “trash your quads” but I didn’t find that whatsoever. The view from the top of the mountain, although it was still dark, was beautiful! And the cacti!! It was nice to start downhill without too much effort and find a groove, but worrying about an inevitable pit-stop took up some valuable energy.

Just before 7k, the one significant uphill began. It was not steep by any means, but pretty long, climbing steadily for 2.5 kilometers. I stayed loose and maintained effort, not pace, as planned, and it was no problem. Once reaching the top of the hill, I was happy it was over but it’s nothing to be afraid of! However, if you live somewhere flat, this will be a significant hill for you. Now I needed to find a porto-potty and I sped up, feeling a bit frantic and stressed.

Then came another 7ish kilometers of mostly downhill, with a few flat spots or short, mild inclines. Before I knew it I was at halfway. I can’t remember if it was a bit before or after that I found a porto-potty without a line and made an efficient stop. I raced out of there to make up for lost time and it really fucked with my mojo. I had a bad feeling.

Having just passed the half-marathon timing mat, things were feeling more difficult than they should at this point. Dammit. Reflecting on the entire experience, I think my fear of the pain on my heel, plus knowing that this wasn’t a big goal race, I had kind of given myself permission subconsciously to give up a little. That, combined with feeling stressed through the first half, and I hadn’t set myself up for a strong race! #alwayslearning

From half to 30k, I began to fade pretty hard, but I was still really enjoying my run and wasn’t worried about it. This has happened multiple times in marathons around 25k, something I want to work on eliminating! I accepted it and continued forward, but I did stop quite a few times to walk for 5-10 seconds to try to regroup.

DID I MENTION THE RACE PHOTOS ARE FREE? yeah.

Kilometers 36-40, although basically pancake flat, truly felt like an incline to me. I was struggling at this point and in comparison to all that elevation drop in the first half, it was so hard! I predicted this contrast with respect to the course profile, but combined with burning out, it was super tough. Wearing my Oiselle Volée top was so helpful because there was so much encouragement from spectators and other runners who recognize the Volée racing gear!

ran a chunk with Carlos!

Finally, the last kilometer! Here we had a little bit of a decline again, which was nice for that final push. I passed quite a few people, which is always great! I wish my brain had have been working a little better, because I didn’t realize HOW close I was to the possibility of a PR, though it would have been tiny. Oh well! Serves me right for experimenting with a new Garmin app on race day!

The finish line area was happening! After receiving my medal and a bottle of water, I was given a cloth bag, which I must say is the greatest idea ever for any finish line. When you have no dexterity left and people are handing you bottles of water, chocolate milk, bananas, bars, medals, etc, you need a place to put these things! I made my way to the FRENCH TOAST STATION and gobbled down a piece, then found a place to sit down and organize myself. I immediately got a splitting headache and was limping a little. Boo!

The sun was out and it was a beautiful but chilly day and there was lots of awesome energy around me. It would have been nice to stick around and enjoy the festivities, but my body gets cold and stiff almost immediately after running for that long, and I was in pain. I called an Uber after suiting up in my layers and downing water, sports drinks and chocolate milk.

03:51:58, very happy with that!!

The traffic around the finish area was a gong show and it was hard to find a place to get picked up, but my driver and I figured it out and I got back to the hotel quickly without much problem. If I could make a suggestion, it would be to have some signage indicating where to go for runners to be picked up. Maybe that was a thing and I didn’t notice in my post-marathon daze..?

I really liked this event! It was so organized. The location of the expo and shuttle busses was easy to get to and navigate once arriving. The starting area was FANTASTIC with the loud music and fires, and the first section of the race coming down the mountain was gorgeous. There could have been more porta-potties at the start, but that’s always the case when thousands of people are trying to go before the race starts! The aid stations were really awesome and there wasn’t a single point in the race where I found myself thinking “man, I wish an aid station would come up!” because there were so many of them!! The spectator support was very decent, especially for such an early race, and the finish area was high-energy with lots going on and lots of refueling options. THE MEDAL IS SICK! The race tank is awesome and I will definitely wear it in real life, which rarely happens, and the Mesa-PHX sweat towel is also a cool and useful keepsake. I didn’t have any issues retrieving my gear bag, which is a big one.

2016 – 2020 will form a 5-point star with all the medals! I know Carlee & Brian have all 3 so far.

As for my more personal thoughts on my race experience, I feel pretty happy about it. Although I didn’t have a strong race, and I had some stomach issues and heel pain, there are a lot of positives here, and since it wasn’t a goal race, I feel fine about it!

  • zero forefoot pain or discomfort, which I’ve been dealing with off and on since September
  • second ever marathon pit-stop was efficient, and I now know that pit-stop does not necessarily = sabotaged race plan!
  • came within 40 seconds of my marathon PR, even though I had some issues and struggled through most of the second half! Imagine if everything had come together?!
  • fueling was good again, Nak’d bars and Razz Clif shots!
  • no chafe
  • had fun the whole time
  • I can tell by how my body feels as well as from a few photos that my form has improved. Still have a lot of work to do, but I’ve come a long way!
  • walked through aid stations to make sure I drank a full cup of water at each one
  • Though I faded, I would not say I “hit the wall” hard by any means

Yahoo! Marathon number seven is in the books! I really want to come back to this race, it was awesome. Next time I’ll stay at the Hyatt, stay a little longer and bring a buddy. Normally I love travelling alone, but something about this trip made me want a weekend companion..I didn’t find the area as easy and welcoming as Sacramento. The Sprouts Mesa-PHX Marathon kicks ass and I think you should consider adding it to your bucket list!

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!!

 

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 🙂

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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