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!

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Current Fall Running Favourites!

It’s FALL!!! A runner’s favourite seaon! For many, fall marathon or other distance training is well under way. The weekly kilometers are getting up there. As the window of daylight continues to shrink, the temperatures slowly drop and the runs get longer and/or more frequent, I start to find it more obvious the gear I reach for on the daily. These are my current go-tos that I have been turning to regularly. I love to try new gear, fuel and apparel all the time, but I have been noticing that I have been coming back to these six items again and again in the last few weeks!

Altra Escalante

These shoes. They are so unbelievably comfortable!!! And so light! They make me feel like I am running with the freedom of bare feet, but with cushion to keep me feeling energized and springy, and obviously protect the soles of my feet. Also, the square-shaped toe box allows my toes to take their normal (extremely unique, lol) positions vs. being squished together, which can lead to blisters! It didn’t take me more than a few runs to transition to the zero-dop of Altra runners, but I have always been a forefoot striker so that may explain it a bit…give yourself time to transition, as they suggest, especially if you are a heel striker. I just ordered a second pair in blue. Yessssssss. Here’s a bit of info on heel-to-toe drop if it’s something you aren’t familiar with.

Nathan Fireball Hydration Vest with double flasks

I hadn’t used a hydration vest on long runs in the past, but lately I find if I’m going for any more than twenty kilometers, which I am every Saturday because it’s FALL MARATHON SEASON, it’s way smarter for me to have two water bottles, plus a place to put my long sleeve when it’s time to come off (and it always comes off…such an over-heater) and a few extra pockets for lots of fuel and some toilet paper. I don’t live somewhere with water fountains or places to stop in for water on the long run, so this is an excellent piece of gear! I was skeptical of chafe when I wore this vest over just a tank for the first time, but it never happened! The longest run I’ve been on with the Nathan is 30km. It took a tiny bit of getting used to because it’s obviously bulkier than being vestless (duh), but it’s super comfy, obviously adjustable, and I think it might even result in me running along a little more smoothly to minimize vertical oscillation (and sloshing of the water in the bottles when they’re no longer full). There is room for a reservoir in the back pack part, but I have yet to use that option. Another wonderful thing about this vest is it has some reflective detailing. When the long run has to be squeezed in before a weekend shift at work, I am thankful for any extra visibility.

nathan

don’t have the water bottle in there in this pic, was using that pocket for my phone!

Oiselle Firecracker Reflective Long Sleeve

I just got this, but I’m already in love! It keeps my neck/collar-bone area warm and my arms and hands (with the thumb holes to keep the sleeves over the hands), but the cropped style doesn’t leave my torso sweating and steamy, wanting to rip a layer off less than a kilometre in. The material is thicker than a shirt, but not like a hoodie or half-zip, AND it’s beautiful. I’ve been layering it on top of a super thin tank and it’s great for early morning or evening runs. The paintbrush pattern is reflective, which was my number one purchasing point. Living in Northern BC means that even now in early Fall, it’s pitch black at the beginning (or all, depending on the distance) of an early morning run, and it’s dusk by the time I hit the road in the evening. I’m obsessed with reflective! I need to mention, the fully reflective Speed Tights I bought last season from Lululemon are AMAZING and beat out any other reflective item I’ve ever owned, hands down, but since I learned how much I love shorts (took like thirty years) I haven’t been wearing them yet this season. It’s not cold enough yet! #dontyouhatepants … oh, speaking of reflective paintbrush print and hating pants, I just ordered the mini-stride shorts from Oiselle in the same colour as this top. Ensemble?

Nakd Bars

I first bought these for a snack at work, but then brought one with me on a run because they are simple and taste good. The ingredients are just dates & nuts! I like taking two with me on a long run and taking small bites whenever I feel like it. I’ve been trying to find other fueling options that work for me because most gels are so sugary that my teeth hurt after, and sometimes they send my guts into a panic. I get so hungry on long runs! Soooooo hungry! So, these have been awesome for giving myself something to actually EAT vs. a gooey substance that doesn’t resemble food at all. I do still use Cliff Shots (razz) and Endurance Tap, but I think incorporating some chewable food is really working for me.

FlipBelt Classic (now that I have one that fits properly)

Initially, I decided that I wasn’t a fan of the FlipBelt because it would slide up from my hips to my waist when wearing any sort of semi-slippery material pants or shorts. I gave my first one away. Then, the spring marathons came and I didn’t have anywhere to put my gels, phone, and whatever else I needed to have on me on race day. So, I invested in a size smaller and now I am all about the FlipBelt! It stays put 99% of the time, and it’s like adding that pocket big enough for a Samsung in a Lifeproof case that all pants and shorts should have, but only like 1% actually do. There is an elastic leash inside the belt with a clip to attach a key or fob and not worry about it falling out, since there are no zippers on the FlipBelt classic. I can store my phone (in it’s bulky case), my headphones for if/when I decide I want them, and whatever else I’m bringing with me that I haven’t put in my vest, if I’m wearing that too.

There are even flat water bottles you can purchase that slide into the belt! I have the larger one and I can slide it in right at the small of the back. Not my top favourite way to carry water, but an option I have used often. The main thing is my phone stays flat against the lower abdomen, doesn’t bounce around and is easily accessible for safety, music, runfies or whatever!

ProCompression PC Racer socks

Not only do I love the squeeze and supportive feeling provided from compression socks, I LOVE THE COLOURS. I am a bit of a shop-a-holic…but I don’t really give a shit if I accumulate tons of stuff that revolves around my biggest passion. It’s fun! For a long time I was strictly about either above-the-calf socks, or regular socks. One or the other. I decided to try the shorter ones to mix it up and I really love them!

racer

woo these ones are on the way!

They aren’t as warm, which is good for sunny Fall afternoon runs, and I feel like they give even more support in the calf/achilles area than the tall ones, which is a place I need it. Variety: the spice of life!

 

One thing that isn’t on this list (yet?) but I am stoked to review is the Lightning Layer from Oiselle, which is also en route. It’s like a non-ugly safety vest for running. I’ll let you know how that is when it shows up! I hope your Autumn running has been as enjoyable as mine has been so far! If you’ve already raced, I hope it was AMAZING and congratulations! And if you’re still training for an upcoming event, I’M EXCITED FOR YOU!!!!