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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training recap April 3rd-9th & the Prince Rupert Half Marathon!

MONDAY April 3rd

8km easy – Grand Trunk Pathway in Terrace BC, gorgeous TANK TOP weather!

TUESDAY April 4th

Planned: speed workout – 3km easy, [4x2km intervals with 2 min rests,] 3km easy

This was a hard day for me and I’m sad to say I quit early. It just wasn’t happening, I got to the second interval and after a long internal argument I jumped onto the side rails and called it quits. I planned to try again later at the track, but then opted for an easy 8km with my Tenacious 10 partner Whitney.

At the end of the day, I really wished I could have given those intervals another go, but after the first attempt which was about 6km, + the 8km with Whit, I was tired so I slept. In the grand scheme of things, will this affect my performance at my #1 goal race of the season, the Calgary Marathon? Probably not. Coach said it’s all good. Hoping for a confidence booster from my next hard workout which comes on Friday. Moving on!

WEDNESDAY April 5th

Non-running day! One hour of easy yoga was my intention, but that didn’t happen. TJess and Michelle, the PR 1/2 + 8K race directors, myself and Emma were busy putting race packets together and getting organized for Sunday.

Oh OMGΒ  and my TREADMILL was delivered today!!!! I wish I was equally as excited to assemble it…

race prep!

THURSDAY April 6th

6 miles easy at Lakelse Lake! One of my favourite places on Earth ❀ felt good, but slightly heavy. Look at this place!

FRIDAY April 7th

8 mile out-and-back: 4 out, controlled & easy, 4 back @ threshhold pace

The 4 miles back felt impossible. Took a couple breathers which discouraged me, but all in all an excellent workout.

SATURDAY April 8th

Planned: 14 miles (22.5km) nice and easy. Coach Andrew changed this to 10 miles on Friday night due to the struggle on Friday and the half-marathon on Sunday. It was definitely smart and worked in my favour. We are also going to Skype next week and talk about dialing back the weekly mileage just slightly, since the last increase has seemed to cause quite a bit of fatigue.

Ran with my girls Sam and Jess. Jess is co-director of the race this Sunday here where we live, and training for her first half on May 7th! She’s running the BMO Vancouver half and it’s a REALLY good one! I hope the weather for her is better than it was for me in 2014. This run felt great. Amaaaazing sleep on Friday night!!! Then we headed to the Civic Centre for race registration and packet pickup.

SUNDAY April 9th

Prince Rupert 1/2 Marathon! I planned to run to be part of the day and our running community. Running by feel was the plan since it hasn’t been a goal race, and I’ve had some pretty burnt-out feeling workouts lately. We met early, set up the awards area and then headed out the highway to set up the race course.

Coach didn’t delete the training run on Saturday to accomodate this race. Saturday & Sunday combined serve as a long run; a high mileage weekend in preparation for the Calgary Marathon!

BUT, it was one of those perfect days and everything felt amazing. I felt rested and excited but calm at the same time, and I ended up just shy of a SEVEN minute PR in the half marathon distance!!! BEYOND PUMPED!!!! Such a great check-in with training progress and a crazy confidence booster for my two upcoming goal races. Could not be happier!!

I have mixed feelings about racing on the highway here where we live, because it’s where every single long run happens every single weekend! Our races are also very small, which obviously feels different than a massive event. This time, however, I tried to see it as a good thing, knowing the course inside out, instead of thinking about it as a drag, knowing where all my least favourite or most challenging segments are. I also reminded myself that I race against myself, and that can be done in any setting.

As commonly happens, myself and many others went out from the starting line a little too quick, but I was super conscious of this and started to hold back soon after starting, to get my heart rate and lungs under control along the first incline. I like to use the McMillan Running Calculator to get a rough idea of the pace I should be okay to run on a day when everything is feeling good, and that was a 5:16/km so I stuck around 5:20 for the first third of the course since everything was feeling REALLY good!!! The “big hill” which is what you see in the middle of the course, is a doozie. Going down is great, and I was sitting at a 5:15 average pace after going down it, but after the halfway turn-around I refused to look at my watch going up that hill. I told myself to just run by feel and keep pushing and doing my best, and that I was allowed to look at the overall average pace once the course had levelled out again for a bit!

I worked my way back to a 5:19/km average by about 17km and then during the last 4ish kilometeres there are some decent declines, and I found some extra gas and kept at it really strong. I just about caught up to the two girls in first place, and in the last 800m or so I tossed my water bottle and literally bolted to chase them down. I can’t believe my 21km split was 4:11 ahaha what the!?

Stealing the win didn’t happen, but that was truly my best effort and I have NO REGRETS, which is a powerful mental tool I’ve learned from following Kelly Roberts. Our club was gracious enough to award TWO gold medals to Erin and Jessie, who finished holding hands and tied for the female winners, so I ended up with silver!!!!!! WOOOOOO!

myself and Jessie, one of the TWO gold medal winners!!

I have never run that pace for that long and I feel really good about this!!! Bring on the next races!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amazing Sunday to finish off a week that felt slightly shakey. I can’t wait for Seattle in less than 2 weeks!

 

Two weeks out from the Tenacious Ten!

oiselle

Seven weeks out from the Calgary Marathon!

calg