Saturday, June 30, 2012

Goodlife Victoria Half Marathon - Week 1 Recap

ZOMG, I am so, so tired right now!  It's been a busy week and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the long weekend.  I think my body is trying to get used to the amped up training schedule so I feel way more tired than usual.  The human body is a pretty amazing thing and it always surprises me how it adapts and changes so quickly, so I think that this tiredness I'm feeling right now will get better after awhile as my fitness level gets better.
Anyways, here was week 1 of training towards a 1:50 half at the Goodlife Victoria Half Marathon (did you all notice the law of attraction thingie I just did there?):

Sunday:  Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon!!!
I've already blathered on long enough about the race, so I won't make you guys suffer any more.

Monday: rest day
Oy vey, my legs were so insanely sore the next day...specifically my quads...ow!  Even one of my bosses was teasing me about how I was walking.  I was glad that everything else like my calves, hamstrings, etc., actually felt pretty good but I think the downhills really trashed my quads.

Tuesday:  yoga
To give the legs a good stretch, I decided to go to yoga with a coworker and man, did it feel great.  Seriously, why do I not go to yoga more often?!  It feels so awesome! Anyways, afterwards my legs felt so much looser, and I definitely plan on yoga-ing more.  Promise.

Wednesday:  bootcamp in a.m./run clinic in p.m.
Ooooh...first double training day and I started questioning my sanity for thinking this was a good idea.  Ha!  Both sessions were with Jason, and we did hill repeats in both classes....bootcamp was hard enough, but at the run clinic we had to do 30 minutes of hill repeat after hill repeat after hill was pretty warm out too, and I gotta was really hard to keep going and I was sucking wind.  Thankfully it went by quickly, and I know hills are good for me so I'm sucking it's all the means to an end, right?

Thursday:  Mindful Strides clinic
Woohoo!  Had another a-ha moment...Marilyn did a new drill with us that really, really helped with understanding what we were supposed to be doing.  Normally I have a real difficulty with slamming my foot down (hence my foot problem earlier!) and this new drill really made me understand the feeling of bringing my foot up.  I love it when light bulbs go off in my head!  This week I felt so much lighter on my feet and on one of the strides that we did, I felt that perfect balance of running on my midfoot with little effort.   Now just to get that feeling while running a half marathon!

Friday:  bootcamp
Thank goodness for my good friend D!  We always check in with each other the night before bootcamp, and it really pushes me to go...what they say about doing stuff with a friend really IS true!  If I'd been left to my own devices, I totally woulda jammed today and regretted it later, so glad that D pushes me to go. 

Saturday:  very slow treadmill run
Hubs was going to do a 10K run on Saturday, but his foot has been bothering him since the run on Sunday so he decided to do a bike workout instead.  I was feeling really tired and wanted to give my legs a chance to recover from this crazy week, so I did a slow, slow, slow jog on the treadmill. 

Plans for this weekend?  Chores are 95% done, so the rest of the weekend will be some puttering at home and relaxing.  Can't wait until Monday, glorious Monday...we're sleeping in, taking a full rest day, making a pancake breakfast and chilling at home all day.  Ahhhh...SO can't wait.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2012 Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon - Race Report

Second half marathon of the year, done!  Typing up this post now, I realized that I didn't post any time goals for myself.  Earlier this year when I was planning out my races, I wanted to at least be close to my personal best from last year's Oak Bay Half Marathon at 1:56:09 or if the planets aligned perfectly, beat that time.  I didn't have a particularly fast time at the Goddess Run (even though I was happy with it, given my lack of running mojo) at 2:04:44, so knew I was going to have to really work hard to get my time below two hours, and really gut it out to hit my personal best half marathon time.

The Scotiabank Half is a smaller race with about 4000 half marathoners running, and I was looking forward to the route which starts at UBC and winds its way through to Stanley Park.  Even more exciting is that Canada's Olympic marathon hopefuls Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis would also be running this race!  When Hubs and I went to pick up our race packages on Saturday, we saw the two of them at the race expo...they were cornered by some dude, and me being a shy Asian wallflower...I couldn't muster enough nerve to go over and wish them luck in London.  I know, I know!  I suck.  But I was excited to see them and they gave me the inspiration to run a really hard race.

The race started at 7:30am, so Hubs and I were up and at 'em at 5:45am, and headed off to UBC by 6:15am.  Being so early on a Sunday, we got there quickly and stood around in the chilly morning air waiting for the race to start.  Hubs has been having some issues with his right foot, so we weren't sure how he was going to do with the race...he saw his physio who attributed it to his body getting used to revising his footstrike to a midfoot rather than a heel strike, as all the bones and ligaments are getting used to things.  As the race started, we gave each other a good luck hug and kiss and off we went.

0 - 7K

Within the first few steps I had my first mishap...I had packed three Gus with me, and was going to take one before the start of the race.  Not seeing any garbage cans to throw the packet away, I decided against it and just figured I would take one at the 7K point and another at 14K.  Um...good thing I didn't take that gel, because as I crossed over the start line, one of my Gu packets fell out of my fuel belt, richocheted off someone's foot and shot forward like a missile!  Everyone in front of me was looking around wondering what happened, and of course with the sea of bodies behind me, I couldn't exactly reach down to pick it buh-bye, Mr. least it wasn't the peanut butter one!  Thank goodness I had packed that extra gel.  Anyways, the start of the race was mostly downhill which was good, but bad because I was running way too quickly to start and not doing a great job of pacing myself.  At around the 5K mark I was feeling a little tired and hoped that I had left enough juice in my legs to hit my goals.

1K  5:31
2K  5:23
3K  5:12
4K  5:12
5K  5:13
6K  5:21
7K  5:37

8 - 13K

To be honest, I don't remember a lot about this part of the race.  I was really concentrating and working hard, and even though I'm sure the route was beautiful, I was focussed.  I started choosing people to chase down, and I ended up picking this girl to target because I liked her outfit.  Ha!  It was Lululemon, of course.  What I do remember about this part of the race was that I had a really bad stitch in my side...foolishly, I'd drank some water on a downhill section and nothing makes me cramp faster than that.  Argh.  After awhile it went away, but it took a few kilometres of massaging it while I ran and trying to not concentrate on it.  Miraculously, I somehow managed to pull the fastest splits I've ever had to date in any race, and even managed to pull a 52:38 10K split, which is the fastest 10K I've ever run!  Yeehaw.  I was wearing a pace bracelet as well, and knew at the 10K point that I had built about a four minute buffer for a two hour half marathon.

8K  5:10
9K  5:09
10K  4:50 ------>  holy crap

10K split:  52:38 (target for 2:00 hour half, 56:50)

11K  4:59
12K  5:24
13K  5:25

14 - 21.1K

Again...this is where things got hard.  This is the part of the race where I always suffer, and I'm really hoping that the speedwork, tempo and hills that I'll be doing at my running clinics will help with my endurance.  I usually start floundering around now, and this race was no different.  One of my goals for this year is to achieve a 1:50 half, meaning a 5:15 split...I gotta lot of work to do to get myself to that point, given how hard it is for me to hit the splits that I did...which for the most part were nowhere near 5:15.  To be honest, I think a lot of it is mental...I walked a lot around the 17 - 19K point and just didn't have any fight left during these splits.

Luckily, the last few kilometres went better...I could feel myself getting excited that I was getting so close to the finish line, and willed my legs to keep moving.  I knew I would hit my goal of a sub 2 hour time, but I wanted to hit a personal best and beat 1:56:09.  As I came around the bend and could see the finish line, I looked at my watch and saw that I was cutting it close...really close.  Mustering every last tiny bit of energy I could, I sprinted the final few hundred feet and ran across the finish line at 1:55:40...personal best, achieved!

14K  5:43
15K  5:41
16K  5:32
17K  5:46
18K  5:40
19K  6:19 --->  WTF happened here, Wong?
20K  5:26
21K  5:26
0.1K 1:47

After I ran across the mats, I started to feel a bit dizzy and could feel my legs cramp up.  I actually started to feel things tunnelling in around me, so walked slowly around until I could catch my breath and get a hold of myself.  Luckily, the feeling passed quickly and I waited around for Hubs to finish.  He had a good race, and his foot held out which was awesome.  Yay, Hubs!

Final:  1:55:40
Overall:  1357/3838
Age Group: 62/285
Gender Group: 491/2182
Pace: 5:29

So happy!  I feel my running mojo coming back, and hereby commit to work hard, eat right and stick to my training schedule.  1:50 half, I have you in my sights!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Three (Plus One) Things Thursday

1.  Chicago

Wow...all I can say is that I love Chicago.  LOVE.  What an amazingly beautiful city...full of life and so vibrant!  I don't know why I have this vision of all cities in the US looking the same, but I honestly can't wait to go back and next time take Hubs with me.  There was so much to look at and do, and luckily we were staying pretty much in the heart of downtown so things were very accessible.  We did a few architectural walking, one on the river, which was so interesting as I never really knew just how much work and thought went into creating a beautiful building.  Seriously cool.

And the food...sigh, the food. We tried Chicago style deep dish pizza (yum!), delish fresh seafood, and on the way out of town at the airport I hunted myself down a Chicago style hot dog and had it for breakfast. Yep, you read that right, had to be done, folks. 

I also managed to fit in a few runs as well...thanks to Meg's suggestions, I ventured out to the lake for my long run which was incredible.  Now the not so incredible thing was that it was freaking 85 degrees out at 7am (which means it felt like 95 degrees since I was running), and foolish little old me didn't think to pack a water belt with me so had to rely on water fountains.  As I would come across one, I'd drink like I'd never drunk before and splash water all over myself which would inevitably dissipate within seconds.  So hot.  I did manage to squeeze in an 11K run though so happy with that and glad to say that I ran along Lake Michigan!

After the run, I ran through Millenium Park and took a photo of myself at the bean:

2.  Clinics
First running clinic done this past Sunday and it was awesome.  Everyone was so incredibly friendly!  One of the girls in my office has signed up as well but couldn't make it, so I was a little apprehensive about going on my own...but that fear was for naught.  Within seconds of walking in, I was chatting with a couple who were also new, and got a few friendly smiles as I stood waiting for the clinic to start.  The run was fairly short...7K for the half group (me!) and 13K for the full group.  As we started out, I chatted with a few really nice people...there was one portion where there were a couple of girls running ahead of me and one of them turned around, smiled and asked how I was doing.  Again, this is the joy of the running inclusive and friendly...I can't say often enough how runners are not elitist.  Anyways, I ended up running next to a really nice guy who I discovered goes to my bootcamp...and we chatted about his wife who used to be a 2 hour-ish runner and is now in the 1:40 range due to these very clinics.  Totally gave me hope for myself that one day I could reach those speeds!  Close to the end of the run, he looked at me with a sideways glance and a sly smile and said "wanna go for it?"  Never one to turn down a challenge, I laughed and said "you're on!" and off we went as we raced each other back to the Peninsula Runners store!  We high fived as we finished and thanked each other for the push.  I think I'm gonna like this clinic business!

And tonight...our first class of the advance session of the Mindful Strides clinics.  I'm looking forward to being under Marilyn's tutelage once again, and I'm hoping this session there'll be even more "a-ha!" moments that we seem to have at each level.  Hubs is considering really cutting back his mileage so he can concentrate on his form/technique, which might fit OK if I end up running with my clinics...we'll see!  Thankfully Marilyn was pretty happy with how we did's been about two months since our last session but we did pretty well which leads us to believe that we might really be getting it and our muscles are actually remembering proper body positioning. Marilyn has group Mindful Strides runs every Saturday, so Hubs and I have decided that we're going to fit in a few so we can get a chance to run rather than just working on drills.

3.  Scotiabank Vancouver Half
Eeeek!  Second half mary of the year this weekend.  I'm feeling ready, and hoping for a sub 2 hour finish.  Wish me luck guys...I'll be out running between UBC and Stanley Park on Sunday between 7:30 - 9:30am...looking forward to seeing the course!

4.  Back on the Wagon
Yup, back on the wagon this week - eating really well and exercising a ton!  June 17th was my first clinic day so I thought what better day than to put all the debauchery behind me now that Maui and Chicago are done and get down to business.  Absolutely not feeling very lean or light, so I'm committing to getting myself back into being a lean, mean, running machine.  So far in my mind I'm envisioning this schedule:

Sunday:        Pen Run clinic long run/off depending on Saturday run
Monday:       Bootcamp
Tuesday:       Rest
Wednesday: Double day - bootcamp in morning,
                     Pen Run hills/speedwork/temp in evening
Thursday:     Rest/Mindful Strides clinic (only six weeks)
Friday:          Bootcamp
Saturday:      Long run with Hubs/Mindful Strides run/off depending on Sunday run

Whew, gonna be busy!  But I'm feeling ready to get back into things and gear up for the Fall race. 

Faith in Humanity

With all the bad shit that goes on in the world (I'm thinking Sherry Arnold and Sarah in peace), sometimes it makes me lose my faith in humanity and wonder what the heck is up with the world.

Prepare to at least have some of that faith replaced...go here for some heartwarming (and tear inducing...#2, 6, 19 and 20 had me extremely verklempt) photos of some of the good in the world.

PS.  Just in case I don't get a chance to post another entry before Sunday (been meaning to post since I got back from much to talk about!)...Scotiabank Vancouver Half is on deck!  Sub 2:00 or bust!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sign Me Up!

That Goddess Run totally has my running juices flowing again!  I was pretty happy with my time all things considered, and started thinking that if I really worked at it...really trained hard, was disciplined with my food (and dropped a little extra weight) and made a concentrated effort to work on my exercises and form...that a 1:50 half could possibly be within my reach.

I've mentioned before that I have a great trainer named Jason at my bootcamp...well, he's also a very well known clinic instructor in town, and I really like his style.  Upbeat, encouraging but tough...I decided to check out the clinics where he works, Peninsula Runners.  The summer clinics start June 13th...perfect!  I'm away in Chicago next week so I'll miss the first class and have a few scheduling conflicts, but for the most part it fits perfectly.  These clinics were designed to fill a gap that other clinics neglect, which is to get faster...and that's exactly what I'm looking to do...sign me up!  I don't seem to be able to get out to do any speedwork or hill training and truth be told, I'm not sure what to do or how to go about things, so I decided that signing up for a clinic was probably the smartest thing to do.  Coincidentally, I saw this post from Beth over at Shut Up and Run and thought it was a sign for me to just go out and do it...perfect timing.

The clinics are on Wednesday nights and Sundays for the long run.  I don't seem to have an issue with the long runs and don't want to make Hubs run on his own, so I plan on continuing with Saturday long runs with him but attending the Wednesday night sessions.  It'll be cool to meet some new folks too!  I know it'd be easier to get to know people if I did the long runs too, but I really enjoy my running time with Hubs.  I can have my cake and eat it too, right? 

So tomorrow I'm getting my butt over to the store and registering.  It's going to be clinic city as I start my sessions with Marilyn at Mindful Strides pretty soon too.  So excited!

Oh...and Happy National Running Day! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 Victoria Goddess Half Marathon - Race Report

Woohoooo...first race of the season done!  June 3rd was the inaugural event for the Victoria Goddess Run and I have to say, for the first year it was a great event.  Patterned after runs like the Nike Womens' Half Marathon in San Francisco, the run had chocolate on the route, bling handed out by hunky firemen, delish food after the race and the camraderie of hundreds of excited cool!

So initially I had no intention of racing this run due to my lack of running mojo/preparation...but that quickly went out the window when I got a wee bit caught up in all the excitement and ended up going for it.  Hee hee!  The race was a hop, skip and a jump away from my house which was wonderful, and the half marathon started at 9am so I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn.  I knew the venue well as it's one of the locations that we do our morning bootcamps at...the main event was on the soccer pitch, and the race courses (5K, 10K and half mary) wound all through the Langford area in Victoria.  I got there fairly early, checked in my stuff (Hubs couldn't come to this one, and since I was going to use it as a training run I gave him a free pass) and headed down to the starting line amidst a sea of estrogen packed energy!  I have to say, it was pretty cool...a lot of fun to see all the wild and crazy costumes...sparkle skirts, tiaras, and lots and LOTS of pink.  A great energy!

Promptly at 9am, we started...and oh my, what a start!

0 - 7K

Um....OK I don't know who came up with the race course, but immediately after the start there was a pretty darn big hill!  I admit...I didn't pace myself terribly well this race and started out of the gate fairly fast considering I really haven't been doing any speedwork or training all that seriously.  It started to get sunny soon, and it was pretty hot even at only 9am and I was glad I'd decided to go with shorts and a singlet. 

1K   6:02 (not bad for crazy opening hill!)
2K   5:23
3K   5:38
4K   5:36
5K   5:31
6K   5:34
7K   5:30

So far, so good!

8 - 13K

Second hill came around at the 8K point...I managed to run the whole thing but it wasn't easy!  I have to thank Jason (one of my bootcamp instructors) for all the hillwork that he makes us do because if I didn't have that, this race wouldn't have been that great.  After the second hill I still managed to keep a pretty good pace, and was on target at the 10K split for a sub 2 hour finish.  I have to say...the volunteers at this race were awesome...there were only a few at each aid station, but man they made you feel good!  Cheering and keeping you was fantastic.  The other thing I really liked is that the aid stations were spaced really well.  I took my own water just in case, but they were at regular intervals and well situated.  Two thumbs up! 

8K    6:23
9K    5:32
10K  5:40
11K  5:29
12K  5:31
13K  5:44

10K split 56:50 (target 56:52...a whole two second buffer!)

14 - 21.1K

Soooo...this is where things got ugly.  Another big long hill that had three uphill portions ...and it fooled me because you'd finish the first undulation and it would flatten out and you'd think, great it's over!  Then the next one would come and then you'd think, thank goodness that's done!  After the third and final uphill portion, I was losing my will to live and was seriously considering running into the bushes, curling up in the fetal position and calling it a day.  By the end, my legs were pretty much trashed and I could barely keep them going even on flat portions. 

Luckily the rest of the course was a slight downhill, so after awhile my legs recovered a bit and I got a bit of energy thinking how close I was to the finish.  As I rounded down the final 0.3K straightaway to the finish line, it honestly felt like I was never going to get there.  The best thing was the people cheering me on and was pretty awesome and I was able to find a final push in my legs and had a fairly good last split.

14K  6:39
15K  6:16
16K 6:28
17K  6:13
18K 6:23
19K 6:03
20K 5:59
21K 5:39
0.1K 1:10

Final 2:04:24
Overall 81/240
Age group:  33/92
Average pace:  5:55

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my time considering my lack of training and all the hills!  This run has me all juiced up for the Scotiabank at the end of the month, where I hear it's a net downhill...woohooo!  I'm targetting a sub 2 hour finish there and think I might have a fighting chance to make it. 

Oh...and the bling? 

Pretty cool, eh?  I love it.  And the firemen weren't bad either.  Ha!  I was a little embarrassed because I ran in on my own, and there were six firemen all looking at me and I immediately thought oh my god, how do I look?!  Do I stink?  I avoided all eye contact, went to the closest fireman, grabbed my necklace and pretty much sprinted away.  Yup, it was awesome.

Overall, a great race and very well organized.  This is definitely a must do for me again next year, and I'd highly recommend it for anyone else wanting to come visit our neck of the woods.  The venue was great, there was ample parking, lots of porta-potties (important!!) and the volunteers were great.  I'm sure there were hiccups as there are with any event, but the large majority of the people had a great time and pretty much all the feedback I heard was positive.  And now I can tell people I'm a goddess!

Oh.  And peanut butter Gu?  Best.thing.ever.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

An Amazing Boy

So...I was going to post my race report for the Victoria Goddess Run that I did today, but I saw this video and had to post about it.  As the video unfolded, I started doing an extreme ugly cry replete with sobbing and actually had to get up and get myself a kleenex to stem the flow of tears as they rolled down my face.  So of course I have to share with you all so I'm not the only one sitting at my computer, bawling my face off.  Ha! 

The video is about a boy with spastic cerebral palsy who is doing a short run for his school's field day.  Now I'm not going to spoil what happens, but if you don't cry or aren't at least a tiny bit touched by this video, you have no soul.  It truly makes me believe in mind over matter and not giving up...this is how the world is supposed to be.