Golden Ears 5 Peaks

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So let me tell you about this shirt… This shirt was what you got for buying a 5 Peaks Season Pass, which is all 5 races for the season in a discount bundle, which I was beyond excited for last November. So excited, in fact, that I found a back door way to register before registration was officially open. Apparently it caused a bit of…. Excitement? Sorry guys!

Anyhow this shirt was what I snagged at the first race of the 2014 season at Golden Ears Park. Having run the orientation a few weeks before, and after my little “breakdown” over BMO I played it safe and went with the 8km Sport course race day. We also received this kickass Buff as our race swag. Seriously best swag ever!’

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Race day started out cold, wet and dreary. In other words, I was stoked. I was glad to not be stressed about the time and just to get out and enjoy myself. It’s always nice to not to feel the need to race the clock, and instead just enjoy yourself.

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We started out in small waves, more or less you segment yourself to how you feel you will do, with both Enduro and Sport leaving together. I think I went mid pack, with Krista, Stephanie and a bunch of others. Krista ran off ahead of me, and I just started off glad to be out on the trails.

We hit the first water crossing and like any delicate lady, I ran right through it getting my socks and shoes soaked. Krista was there waiting for me, so we decided we would run together. She told me a few times to go ahead, and I had no desire. We ran BMO together and dammit we were going to run this together too.

Muddy shoes, muddy legs, and awesome climbs. After a while I am not sure if it stopped raining or I just didn’t notice it.

But the one thing that didn’t go away? I had to pee. And when I get bouncing downhill, it gets bad. Finally on the last 2ish km of the course there was a trail that branched to the right, and I told Krista I would be back. Only a few of the runners directly behind me started to follow me, instead of seeing the go straight signs. Nothing says embarrassment like telling someone you are running off course to pee.

With that done, away we trudged for the last few km’s. We crossed the finish line at 1:20:02 and it was great!

I always find 5 Peaks races to be well organized, with amazing volunteers, tons of hugs and encouragement. I also love how on the trails, everyone who passes you shouts encouragement and tells you what an awesome job you are doing. It’s amazing really.

So my verdict for this race? Gorgeous scenery, excellent organization and kickass swag. I’ve also managed to obtain a bunch of 5 Peaks swag over the last year….

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So if you haven’t tried trails, do it! Enjoy them and get off the road. Muddy legs required.

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BMO Half Marathon – my non PB that was

BMO is always going to be a race that holds a special spot in my heart, as it was my first half marathon in 2013. I really enjoy the course, as it has a good downhill to start, pretty scenic and let’s face it the medals are pretty nice. The downside of it was the price, and this year when they sent out the email over it, I looked at the cost and thought, “nope… I am not going to do it.”

Krista mentioned in Vegas that she had dropped down to the half at BMO instead of doing the full, and if I was running we should run together. I knew Krista was quicker than I, and with knowing the course I figured we would be able to pace me to a PB.

I wasn’t too willing to pay the price of $119 at this point so instead I bought someone’s bib who was not able to run. Did I mention that I decided to sign up a week before the race, and this was going to be my 3rd half in 3 weeks? (More on my stupidity afterwards)

Sunday was pouring rain. I was lucky enough to be able to spend the night with my amazing friend Candice downtown so I didn’t have to stress on parking and how to get to the start from Langley. I took a cab to the start line. I originally planned on wearing my short sleeve shirt, but with how bad the rain was coming down, I threw on my long sleeve Nike shirt before gear check, and kept the short sleeve overtop.

Gear check went smooth and quick. Stupidly I packed my phone without letting Krista know where I was going to meet her so panic set in. It seemed everyone who I knew was able to spot me, and then finally Krista, Stephanie and I met up. Krista took this quick selfie of us, and it’s the only shot we got.

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The pace bands we had were for 2:22 which gave a buffer for my PB, so I was feeling nervous, and at the same time excited. We started off down Cambie Street which is always so incredible. When you look for 4km and all you can see is a sea of runners, it’s surreal and awestruck. Our pace was quick, much quicker than what I was used to and my legs felt heavy. We skipped our first walk break to take advantage of the hills.

And then came the naked chicks. Yep, you heard me. 2 ladies whom I hope to heck were still drunk were pressed against the window of their apartment waving. My first thought? “Damn, I wish my body looked that good.”

And that’s more or less where things started to fall apart. My stomach was hurting, my legs were heavy and I felt like I was fighting a headwind the whole way. I don’t remember much of the course. I remember Krista being beside me and so positive and telling me we were doing amazing. I kept looking at my watch and checking how we were doing pace wise. I kept trying to be positive, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t happen.

We hit Stanley Park, and the course goes through the Park instead of the SeaWall so you don’t always know where you are. When we hit 16k, I pulled over to the side and started dry heaving. If there would have been anything besides GU in my stomach, I probably would have thrown up. Krista was amazing. She kept saying we were going to finish, but she made sure I set a pace that I could handle. We walked a lot more than I would have wanted. I had to stop probably 3 other times to heave, and I worried that maybe something with my hernia was acting up. (Thankfully my surgeon said no, it’s just pushing my body too hard, so one less stress removed)

We hit the last stretch of the course, and I felt like lead. At this point there was no PB for this race. My goal was to cross upright and hopefully under 2:30. Krista never left my side. She stuck by me through my struggles and kept positive and telling me how awesome I was doing. I cannot express how much this meant to me, having her stick by my side no matter what. We crossed together, got our medals, grabbed our gear and I got changed. At this point I was thinking I should take myself to emergency at Richmond Hospital. Krista was ready to drive me, but I ended up just coming home, and emailed my surgeon rather than go when it might have been nothing.

When I got on the SkyTrain, I called my Dad and cried. I was heartbroken over not reaching a PB, and how bad I struggled and feeling like I had let Krista down with not pushing myself harder. I was devastated over how I could barely move, and I felt like I had been hit by a semi truck full force. I couldn’t walk down the stairs without going sideways, and I was wet, miserable and just done.

More or less, my body was done. I should have never ran BMO. Sometimes I do not listen to my body when it is telling me things, and I think I can do everything. In the last 2.5 years I have underwent 3 massive surgeries. I have ran 8 half marathons, and started trail running as well. I have been burning the candle at both ends with poor sleep, poor diet, and not giving myself the time to recoup that I need.

I emailed Run For Water last night and said I couldn’t pace bunny the 2:30 half that I was supposed to be doing in 3 weeks. I woke up this morning with a dehydration migraine that was causing me to dry heave and not be able to see straight. I called in sick to work and stayed in bed for more or less 15 hours sleeping for almost all of it. Not to mention the 3 hour post run nap I took yesterday before bed as well.

Pure exhaustion on my part. Thankfully, I have some pretty amazing friends who made me feel a lot better last night. It’s amazing how we sometimes don’t see ourselves the way others do…

So instead of being down on not hitting a PB at BMO, I have decided to come away with this as being a PB in a different way. Last year I ran the course in 2:50:48. This year my official time was 2:29:36, which means for this course I set a PB of 21:12 in the span of a year. And that? Is pretty damned amazing. For how I felt to still be so close to my best time, is bloody awesome. And to have 8 half marathons under my belt in 365 days, with having 2 major surgeries which prevented me from running for almost 4 months, damned impressive.

I am going to race my 5 Peaks race this weekend. I will do the Sport instead of the Enduro and will start slowly training, both on the trails and improving my sleep and eating for Baker Lake on October 4. I will not be signing up for anything I am not already racing, and will listen to my body.

But next year? Next year I plan on kicking some major ass at BMO.

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Weekend Trail Love

So after pounding out the pavement for the last few weeks, I finally had the chance this weekend to get back on the trails with some friends. Saturday I was planning on hitting up Buntzen Lake with Suzanne, Nicole and whomever else wanted to for 20k. Sunday was the 5 Peaks Golden Ears Race Orientation.

First off, I LOVE the fact that most local trail races have orientation runs. I love the ability to get out with others to run the race course, and get to see what I am up against for race day. Also, with being so new to trails and not knowing the area it gives me a sense of comfort.

Saturday did not go quite to plan. I did the first loop of LakeView Trail, slow and steady. My body felt great and the views were awesome. But common sense prevailed. I had not been on trails for a while. I was planning on doing 14k the next day and I had just come off a hard week of 2 road halfs. So I only did the first loop

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Sunday again did not go as planned. I balked on doing the 14k Enduro course. My legs were still tired and stiff from Saturday, and I knew I would be extremely slow and sluggish up the killer climb shown on the map. So I opted for the 8k Sport course instead. This was my first time ever running at Golden Ears and I must admit it was stunning. The terrains was not as technical as I thought it would be, and when I finished the Sport I felt guilty for not doing the other loop. Until I heard Russ say that the one climb felt like the grind. I knew then I made the right choice.

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My feet lately on trails have really been hurting. Realization that my favorite brand of socks Injinji were not thick enough made me sad. I had a few people suggest trying their trail socks, which would make sense. I’ve been wearing the lightweight which are awesome but too thin. So I went and bought 2 pairs at MEC of trail socks to see how they work.

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As long as this damned headache that has been haunting me for a week allows, I will be giving them a test tomorrow at the Ladies of The Trail run after work. Pretty excited to see how they feel, especially if they help keep my feet drier after trudging through the water.

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Vegas Half Marathon

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Race recaps really are one of the hardest things for me to write. I struggle over what to say, and want to be able to capture how I felt in words, which isn’t always easy. Vegas was my slowest half marathon ever. But at the same time, the fact I got to enjoy running the race with Kendall and Krista made it one of the best runs that I have ever had.

I somehow managed to convince Kendall last fall that going to Vegas over Easter to run a “once in a lifetime” half marathon was a brilliant idea. With us running Whidbey Island half 6 days earlier, we would also be eligible to apply for Half Fanatic Status which was a bucket list goal of mine. The game plan was to complete the race, no time goals, just crossing the finish line.

We grabbed the shuttles from the hotel to the race site, which was rather convenient. Downside was the fact nobody seemed to know there was a race going on, or where to go for the shuttles. The drunks in Vegas seemed to think we had already run the race, which was amusing.

I’d say the course was slightly drunk. Seeings how the race was in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Shelby Mustang, the course was on the Nascar Speedway. There really isn’t a lot of options on where to run 13.1 miles in a confined space, so there was some looping, backtracking and zig zagging. Mile 11 was passed 3 times… 3 times!

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See?? Drunk!!

I must admit it was really cool to be out on the track, for all of 5 minutes. Kendall and I started out with Krista, but she soon pushed ahead of us while we kept it at a leisurely pace. Normally I set my Garmin for 10 & 1 intervals on race day, but I just let it run. No sense intervaling when your goal is just to compete.

Krista eventually backtracked to us, and the 3 of us spent the rest of the race together talking and just enjoying our run. Oh, and taking pictures!!

It was hot, we were slow, but the race was great. Random people chatted us up, and even photo bombed pictures

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This was my first half that I did not carry my own water. I am usually pretty anal about that, as I have been struggling with cramping and dehydration. I carried gu, salt pills and utilized the 10 water stations on the course for my needs. I have to say, for how hot it was the volunteers did a good job of ensuring there was always water. Only one station was struggling but they were at a section where runners were hitting both sides of the table. But still a good job.

The big downside to this race was at the finish. There was no food, no water, and even the advertised beer for the runners was not there. I couldn’t care less over the beer, but I was very disappointed over the lack of food. I was given a small bag of Pretzles when I crossed. Thankfully because I know what my body needs I packed food, but still was not impressed.

Other than that, crossing the line my official time was 2:58:48. I still need to apply for half fantatic status, but it was amazing. I was so thankful to Krista and Kendall for joining me in my crazy idea. It really was an awesome experience ….. Despite some chafing.

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I honestly love my Handana and would recommend it to anyone who needs something to wipe your face, or nose during a run.

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By far my favorite picture from the whole run!

I do have to say my New Balance 880 were amazing. I wasn’t sure what I would think of them when I first got the shoes. But I wore them for both Whidbey and Vegas no problems. My feet felt great no aches at all.

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Love this medal!!

Whidbey Island Half Marathon

Not all races are created equal. Some are definitely a lot more challenging mentally, some physically. I guess up to this point I have been fortunate to choose what I would now consider relatively easy courses for my half marathons. Today? Well, I have never hated running as bad as I did today. I actually stopped at one point and said out loud “what the fuck am I doing?”

I like hills, I love the challenge and naturally I am a pretty strong climber. But lately I have been experiencing tight calves, and expected today to be rough. Especially having to drive 2+ hrs home afterwards in a standard after a course with what I assumed to be “rolling hills”.

I knew the weather was going to be nice and this was going to be a challenge, but I didn’t expect this much of one. My first 5k were good, I felt strong, happy, and confident I could do this in the 2:25-2:30 time range I set for myself.

But that didn’t happen. There were some rough areas on the course, hard packed gravol that hurt my body, and there were chunks of the path that felt like potholes on a road. My body was not happy with those. My Gu’s did not want to go down. I was struggling to get those in, and at 14k I debated skipping my last scheduled Gu, but smarter heads prevailed. I was not deviating from my training plan. I walked on my walk breaks even if it was on a downhill. I walked a bit more on my non walk breaks but I am ok with that.

At 17k my calves seized. I had compression sleeves on but…. No dice. I came to the conclusion my electrolytes are not where they should be for summer running and the amount I sweat, and I need to invest in salt pills. Did I also mention that 17k happened to be at a hilly flipping part of the course??

I’ll be honest. I almost threw in the towel. I came close to DNF. I considered it and that is NOT me. But I didn’t. I crossed the finish line. Garmin said 2:32:17. Gun time was 2:33:58 but the website says I was at the start right at gun, so I am sticking with my Garmin. I paid $18 and got an amazing massage afterwards which helped.

I do have to say though, besides the shirts being kind of ugly….. This race was amazing. The cost was great, the medals are cute, the scenery was gorgeous, although hilly, the volunteers outstanding, and the water/aid stations????? TOP NOTCH!!!

I have never been at a race that I could have not packed water and would have been fine. They were frequent and always full of water or Gatorade. The volunteers were friendly, encouraging and I have to say this was one of my favorite races when you take everything into account. Although I struggled, I would do this one again. And for the inclines I was only 5 minutes off my personal best, which is still amazing.

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Trail Porn

This past week was my first time getting back on the trails since, well, January with that miserable wet rainy 12 km adventure. Since then, I have managed to somewhat build up my distance and stamina, as well as purchased a new pair of Salomon running shoes that feel much better on my feet than the Speed Cross ones did. More room in the toe box makes Brandi’s feet very happy.

Sunday was a gorgeous day with the sun shining, and my longest trail run ever. Solana, Jen and I hit up the North Shore and did 17 km on an out and back route to Norvan Falls. From puddle jumping, to running in snow and going over a suspension bridge, the 3 hours on the trails were amazing. It was a pace that kept me moving, challenged me and only caused cramping in my calves around the last 2-3km.

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So this Saturday, my friend Suzanne organized a gentle run on the trails. It was awesome because Jen, Nikki, Hilary and Candice all managed to make it out for this one as well!!!

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Suzanne, Nicole, Newton, Emma, Troy and Susan were there as well which made for a large group and the chance to mingle and visit with different people. I like having the chance to swap up and run different paces through different parts of the trails and get to visit with different people. It’s definitely a plus to trail running.

We hit up the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge so we could hit up the washrooms. For me, it was a challenge. I am terrified of heights and bridges, mostly because I always fear I am going to break them… Yes stupid fear but non the less….. We did manage to get some good shots of me on it.

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This last shot is my favorite. Jen and Nikki each held one of my hands as we went across. Not only did I have to deal with the sway of the bridge with us all on it, I had no death grip on the rails. Seriously love my friends.

I ended up doing the shorter loop with Troy, Susan and Nicole, where we discussed Invisalign trays, running and just enjoyed the scenery. There was a really nice climb near the end, and I just powered through it to the top. I’ve accepted the fact I am a lot more natural of a climber than a lot of people, and am starting to embrace the skill a lot more.

These past 2 trail outings have made me realize how much of a difference there is between trail and road running. Between the scenery, friends, and the serenity of the trails, I can fully appreciate living where I do and being part of an amazing community of trail runners. I can’t wait to get out there more and start my season of racing.

And here’s some random scenery shots

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Sweat

I sweat. I also swear but that’s not what this is about. I am disgusting and gross and smelly and soaked with sweat after any form of exercise. I am not one of those girls who can wear cute clothes, go for a run and afterwards look great.

My face is red, I have salt stains down my face, around my mouth tastes salty, my hair is soaked, my sweaty band is soaked, my clothes are nasty and I probably smell like I haven’t taken a bath in a week. Ok maybe not that bad, but I smell like a runner.

I have tried, with no avail to find a deodorant that might ease the pit stains or wet marks. It doesn’t work. And my brand new first time wearing it lulu shirt today post 10k?? Yep yellow pitstains on it.

And you know what? Fuck it. So I sweat, so I stink. Whether it’s a 5k or a half marathon, I will never come out of it smelling like a bucket of roses. I have learned to adapt and wear stuff to keep the sweat out of my contacts. I hydrate with electrolytes to prevent cramping and yes, I eat straight salt packets to replenish my sodium.

My name is Brandi. And I sweat. (And yes, I swear too)

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