Tuesday Trails in North Van

One of my twitter “friends” Solana is a big reason on why I wanted to get out and do some trail running. This chick is a beast on the trails and seriously kicks ass. So when she invited me to come out and run with 5Peaks Ladies of the Trail on Tuesdays I jumped at the chance.

Every Tuesday we meet at 6:30 in North Van, all skill levels and ages to get out and run the trails. I was extremely nervous this week, as I wasn’t sure what my skill level would be like and did not want to hold anyone up with my pace.

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Waiting in my car for the others to arrive.

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Shoes on and good to go!! Loving my Salomon Speed Cross 3’s!!

We ran roughly 8k of trails in 1:15 and I sat about mid pack. I learned rather quickly I am good to power up the hills but had no clue on how to properly run downhill. Solana came up and gave me some advice on how to hold my body and what to do, which made my declines a lot easier. I love that she noticed what I was doing and gave pointers to help me out.

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Blurry mid trail shots of the run.

The end of the run was a trail called Homestead and it was all up. Solana challenged me to push it the last bit, and I wasn’t sure how much I had left I the tank but I am not one to turn down a challenge so I put my head down and pushed it. Felt so good to get to the top and still be mobile.

I am not going to lie, the run was so outside my comfort zone that a few times during the run I wondered what the heck I was thinking. Having the other ladies there, all strangers and all so encouraging made me realize that stepping outside that zone can be so worth it.

On the jog back to the car, we got chatting about my weight loss and Solana got the idea to focus on one lady a week and what got us to trail running. I felt extremely touched and honored her first post was on me.

I also decided to push my comfort zone even more. We are running Buntzen on the 14th and instead of the 10k course, I am going to challenge the 15.5k Trail instead. Not sure which one I will do the day of the 5Peaks Buntzen so I am going to wait until I tackle the course and decide.

I am excited to be a part of the 5Peaks Ladies of the Trail group and cannot wait to see what comes up down the road. I have already set my race for next year and am stoked to challenge and push myself even more.

Burnaby Lake, Buntzen and a solo 15k

This week I was extremely thankful for friends, otherwise I might never have left my couch. Motivation has not been there and I didn’t know what to do.

Tuesday, I got to see the beyond wonderful Melissa, and we went and ran Burnaby Lake, which is where we will be running our next half Marathon October 20th, the Rubber Ducky

It was my first time running there, so it was really great for us to run, take some pictures and just have a good visit. I had missed running and even just hanging out with her.

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Friday was my first official trail run through Buntzen Lake. A friend of mine on twitter hikes there all the time and we had decided once I was back up and good to go after surgery we would tackle it together. The deal was I set the pace, and that worked for me. I was worried I was going to hold him back, but Jared assured me it would be ok.

It was amazing!! Being out on the trails, dodging rocks and tree stumps, tackling the incline and declines, just felt so freeing!! And the view was outstanding as well.

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We managed to knock 10-15 minutes off his time so I think in the end we were both happy. And only once was there threats of being vomited on… And I didn’t make those threats. I did have a bit of squeaking running over the suspension bridge and the next day every bone in my body hurt like hell. But so so worth it.

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And the fact I have a half coming up in just under 2 months, and the longest run I had done was 12k… My stress level was slightly rising. With my body still being sore after my run on Friday, hips and abs aching like mad, I didn’t want to run at all.

But after grocery shopping, I realized that if I didn’t get out and run, that I might start slipping back into my old ways. So I got dressed, geared up and decided I was going to run a route I had never done before but always thought about. Which meant I had no clue the actual distance I was going to run.

I have been running 5 and 1 intervals, but decided after talking with someone that going back to 10 and 1 might be my best option. My run ended up being 15.14k (garmin messed up partway through so I had to reset 2.14k in) with 2 killer hills. Sitting at 10-11k and knowing I was at 176/Fraser and still had to run UP Fraser Hwy, I wanted to cry.

Just at that point some asshat driving by yelled “get moving you fucking fat ass” out his window. Made me so mad, which helped me push myself up the hill (stopped partway due to urge of vomit). My pace was amazing through the whole run. I was under 7 min/km overall which was incredible for me.

I figure if I can keep that up for another 6k, I’d be able to hit my goal of a 2:30 half by October. But either way, I am glad I found my motivation today and got out and pushed myself. It was weird doing a long solo run, but you gotta do what you gotta do right?

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Sweaty Band Love

I am by no means a professional runner, but like anyone else, I have my gear that I cannot live without. You know what I mean, those items that when you forget to bring them on a run, you want to cry. For me, top priority goes to my Sweaty Bands

Let’s be honest, I sweat. And by sweat I mean dripping, running down my face and body, soak my clothes sweat. I think the only gene I obtained from the Streeper clan was sweating. Add on the fact I wear contacts when I run and I have nasty flyaway hair, and I can be a hot mess.

Last year, someone recommended me to try a Sweaty Band, and I was skeptical. Headbands always slip, they never stay in place and I usually have to hairpin the crap out of them. But I was willing to give it a go, and I am so glad I did.

Not only do they not budge, but they absorb sweat and stop it from dripping down into my contacts (which is most unpleasant). Sweaty Bands come in a ton of sizes, patterns and you can even customize your own!!!

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My favorite skull and cross bones band! This one has gotten me compliments from so many people, and my go to for race time.

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My only thinner band, but works great!

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My original Sweaty Band doing my first Grouse Grind with my husband and friend last year.

I am in no way affiliated with Sweaty Bands but I am a firm believer in sharing what you love with others.

Run Sweaty!!!

Slow down and Smarten up

I should have run today. It was raining and cool, two things that I love about living on the West Coast. But I didn’t…

Friday, I agreed to run with a friend early am, so I was up at 4:45 to do a 12k. My body was still sore and tired from hills on Wednesday, and in all reality I shouldn’t have agreed to run Friday. 4k into our run, I told Bea I was done. My legs were tired, my abs hurt, and my body was just done. We agreed to cut the run short and did 10.66k instead.

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After the run, I made a quick stop at Tom Hortons for my favorite Steeped Tea, and headed home.

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The car was scheduled to have an oil change, so I loaded Bella into the car, drove to the shop and we walked back to the house. I came home, filled the tub with cold water and took my first sort of ice bath to try and relieve some of the pain in my hips and knees. Once the car was done, Bella and I walked back to pick it up and came home.

Since I was volunteering the next day for the SeaWheeze Half Marathon I took the sky train into Vancouver to stay with my cousin who lives right by Stanley Park.

Katie mentioned going for a quick relaxing walk, so we left our phones at her place and off we went. Our quick walk resulted in a 6+km walk around the iconic Stanley Park Seawall, getting a bit lost and having a great visit.

Saturday was 5 hours of standing, cheering and directing people where to to go on the course. My knees and legs were so sore that the thought of 20 minute walk back to the sky train made me grimace.

By the time I got home, I was so tired and barely mobile. My knees were burning and my incision marks around my hips were aching like mad. I napped for a bit, slathered myself in Icy Hot and made the decision to skip the run today.

My knees are still a bit sore and my body is tired. Tomorrow I go back to work and need to get myself into a routine so that I can get my runs in and not burn myself out. Especially with my next half marathon in 2 months and I don’t have my mileage up to snuff.

But bonus on volunteering was the awesome Lululemon tshirt. And I scored myself a new running skirt on sale for $24!!!

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Stupidity, that is my name

This is the start of marathon hill:

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Last night was humid and hot and my body was not wanting to do anything. I was really tempted to bail on the run all together, but Nikki was going to do hills, and we had been trying to hook up and run together for a while so I went. I had my husband drive me to the Running Room so that I could just go home after hills instead of running the 2.6k back to the store after. (Yes nothing says kill me like running 2.6k to get to the hill, do your reps and then run 2.6k back to the car. Especially when you have to run right by your house)

My body has been tired, especially my abs and I have a slight feeling that I haven’t eased back in like I should have. Nikki was awesome, and ran with me to the hills. Pace was a lot quicker than what I normally do and my lungs were hurting by the time we got to the hill, so I said maybe I would only do 3 hills instead of 5…. You know listen to my body.

I wasn’t able to run up the whole hill. I had to walk a small portion of each hill due to my lungs burning. I was tired after 3, but said no I would make it to 4. When I got done the 4th hill, I thought one more wouldn’t kill me, so I pushed through and did the 5th hill. Was I tired? Yes. Did it feel good to push myself? Oh god did it ever.

We all waited for all our group to finish hills, and I headed back to the store with Nikki.

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When we passed my complex, I decided to just keep going back to the store so I could run longer with Nikki. We caught up to another runner who was walking and the 3 of us just took it easy the rest of the way back, after all our workout was done. I made the comment we should cut through the mall (hello!! Sweaty runners and the mall had a/c) and I took the opportunity to pose on the merry go round.

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It was my first run using a Handana, and I must say I will never run without one again. Best thing ever!! I sweat a lot when I run, so having something to allow me to wipe my sweaty lip, nose and face without having it all over my arm rocked. Definitely now part of my must have running gear along with my Sweaty Band

Today? My body hurts. Getting out of bed was hard, and my abs feel like I did 1000 crunches. But I guess it has only been 8 weeks since they were stitched back up so I have to expect it. But as stupid as I was to push it, felt good to accomplish that goal.

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Who am I?

I am Brandi, and I am a former fat girl who runs. Before I go any further, let me say I hate the word fat. I hate people having labels thrown on them based on their size. It does not define who they are as a person or should it ever be used to judge how good of a heart they have. In my case, fat is unfortunately the best way to describe my former physical body.

In 2006, I weighed over 450 lbs. I was fat, morbidly obese, and very unhealthy. I had tried fad diets in the past, but my heart was never really in it, and I was in a lot of denial about my size and how unhealthy I was.

August 2006, I got sick with staph infection and like a ton of bricks my size hit me. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) was not able to help me, I was too heavy and I had to have someone sponge bath me because physically I could not take care of myself. I made a decision then and there I was going to change.

I started tracking my food, getting in exercise and over the next few years dropped 150 lbs. Life happens, we moved and unfortunately I gained back 70 lbs that I had lost. We got married, I changed jobs and started at the gym with a personal trainer. As hard as I tried, in 2010 I could not get my weight back under 350 lbs.

I went to my GP who tested my blood to ensure there was nothing wrong, and he recommended referring me to a bariatric surgeon to look at weight loss surgery. May 2011 was my first consult with the surgeon, and we decided that I would go through with the process for RNY (gastric bypass surgery).

Now, I want to be clear on this. Yes, I had surgery and yes my stomach is smaller and I have had my intestines re-arranged for lack of better words. November 14, 2011 was surgery and I weighed 352 lbs. But never think that surgery was the easy way out and solved all my problems.

Surgery made it so that my food intake was less, but it also made me not be able to tolerate certain foods anymore and my body not fully absorb all nutrients. I was given the clearance to start full exercise January 2012, and I had already set a goal to run a half marathon by 2013.

I started out at 335 lbs running on a track near my house, and some days I thought I was going to die. People who were walking would lap me, and I felt so discouraged and frustrated. But I kept going, kept plugging away. My friends and family were a huge support with my goals, and besides a handful of my family and few friends I had kept my surgery a secret.

September 2012 I signed up to run Vancouver’s BMO Half Marathon on May 5, 2013. I was barely running 6k at this point and hadn’t even completed my first race but I was determined.

In that timeframe I completed:
Energizer Night Race 10k
Vancouver Historic Half 10k
Vancouver Chilly Chase 15k
Fort Langley Historic Half 10k
Golden Ears Bridge 10k
Vancouver Spring Run Off 8k
Vancouver Sun Run 10k

I started running with people from the Running Room in March 2013 and it was the best thing I ever did. I already bought my gear and shoes there but felt too slow and ashamed to run with them. I didn’t realize what a support group they were, or the friends I would make, or how much it would help push me to achieve my goals.

I met friends who were running their first half at BMO and we trained together with our long runs. They became less of a punishment and more something I looked forward to every weekend. We also signed up to do our second half on May 26 before we had even finished our first.

By this point with my running, I had gotten my weight down to 205 lbs, and was feeling awesome. I was scheduled for a lower body lift on June 14 to remove the excess skin around my waist and hips from being overweight for so long. I had come out about surgery and the support I received was phenomenal.

I am now 8 weeks out from my lower body lift where they removed 10 lbs of skin. I am sitting between 186-190 lbs and training to run my first full marathon in May 2014. I have dealt with a lot of emotions and issues with all this, trying to discover who I am and not feel like a stranger in my own body.

I still think of myself as a fat girl, but I know I am healthy and that’s what matters. And I have a whole new world open to me with this choice I made, and a whole new set of challenges that will arise as well. But running has become my therapy in so many ways.

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Before Energizer Night Race 2012

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Holding my finisher medal from the Vancouver Chilly Chase 15k. My most mentally challenging race ever

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Running collage selfies

5k?? Ok!

The alarm went off at 5 am and I did not want to get out of bed. I am not a morning person, never have been and probably never will be. Grumbled and muttered, but got dressed and ready as I had 2 others I was meeting at 6 am for a run.

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I met up with Bea and Will at the Langley Running Room for our 5k at 6am. I had my iPod ready and was set to push myself hard. We started off with some inclines and hills, which as much as I bitch over them, I am still able to run them with a steady pace. The playlist I had going on was a good beat and made me push even harder. Never underestimate the power of Paradise City by GNR while powering up those hills!!!

Halfway through the run my music stopped so I just assumed my iPod died, but in reality my playlist had ended. Oops! So the last 2ish k I had to push myself instead of pushing to a pace. Ended with our run being under 34 minutes and one of my best overall paces, especially when you factor in we were intervaling again at 5 and 1’s.

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Bea and Will headed out to do a “slow 3.5k” once we got back but I said no thanks. I was tired and done and my feet were sore. In hindsight buying the Nike Vomero+8 instead of the Brooks Glycerin 11 was not my best decision. So my next purchase once I am back at work will be the new Glycerin 11’s. Stick with what works right?

I am still loving the running skirt and can’t wait to get the Brooks Glycerin running skort as well. I so love my Brooks apparel.

Spoiled myself with a steep tea from Timmy’s before coming home and relaxing on the couch in my Running Room compression socks.

My next 3 goals have been set in my mind, running a full marathon, trail running and the 3rd I am not quite ready to share but in time I will.

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Will and I comparing legs after our run. His are much better!!