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Vancouver Marathon Kids Fun Run 2015

March 21, 2016 in Events, Exercise, Outdoor Activity, Race, Running

The BMO Vancouver Marathon puts on a kids fun run to get the whole family involved in marathon weekend. The 2.5km run, complete with water stations and volunteers to direct you along the way, starts and finishes at Second Beach in Stanley Park and includes a loop around Lost Lagoon. It is a very popular event with kids from ages 5 to 12 and is complete with race bibs, finishers medals, and post run snacks. The Kids Run is scheduled the day before the Marathon/Half Marathon/8K. Parents can choose to run with their kids. However, as we discovered, it is becoming harder and harder to keep up with them!

 

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My First Marathon (Dawn)

February 25, 2016 in Events, Outdoor Activity, Race, Running

VanMarathonMedal2016After years of making excuses for not running a marathon, I finally came to my senses and realized there was no better time than the present. I was intimidated by the sheer distance of it (42.2km) and the amount of training required, but I already had a few half-marathons under my belt and Jerrick had already signed up for this run (BMO Vancouver Marathon 2015) so I knew I wouldn’t be in it alone. So I figured, why not?

From January 2015, I followed a 16-week marathon training program by Garmin. This was also Jerrick’s first full marathon and so we managed our training schedules by doing our weekday runs before work at 5 a.m., during our lunch breaks, or after the kids’ bedtimes in the evening. We tag-teamed and completed our weekly long runs on early Saturday or Sunday mornings so that we could enjoy the rest of the weekend together as a family. We missed several of our scheduled runs, but we did what we could and didn’t beat ourselves up about it. Some of the training runs were gruelling in terms of weather conditions or mustering up the mindset to hit a certain mileage after a long week of work along with the temptation of just staying curled up in bed and having a “rest day”. However, each run ended with the feeling of  “I’m so happy I went.” Each run was worth it.

The BMO Vancouver Marathon was on May 3rd, 2015.  As for my race experience, I felt great up until the 30km mark and thought that my fuelling was adequate, but then things started to slowly fall apart from there…to the point where at about the 38km mark, I was concerned about whether or not I would make it the finish line. My pace dropped significantly, but I pushed myself to keep moving forward. Other runners seemed to effortlessly “sprint” right past me in the final kilometers, but I just kept going slow as I was, one foot in front of the other, right to the end. Enduring that much physical and mental exhaustion was a feat, but I worked through it. I cried when I crossed the finish line. They were tears of happiness, relief, and pride.  The bittersweet soreness and burning in my legs started before I even hit the finish line and continued for days later.

My finishing time was 4:15 hours. While I didn’t achieve my goal time, I was still bursting with pride and accomplishment. This had me excited and motivated to work harder for the next one. I’m officially signed up for the 2016 BMO Vancouver Marathon (May 1, 2015) and training has begun. We’ll see how it unfolds 🙂

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My First Marathon (Jerrick)

February 20, 2016 in Events, Exercise, Outdoor Activity, Race

Running a marathon was a bucket list item I have had in mind for a long time and one I had great doubts about ever accomplishing. The thought of running 42.2 kilometers was daunting and it took getting over many excuses to finally get myself to commit to it and sign up for the run. I ran my first marathon on May 3, 2015 at the Vancouver Marathon and I am documenting my marathon experience here as a way to remember the little details about it that I may otherwise forget. Dawn ran the race with me too and this was also her first marathon.

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Vancouver Marathon 2015

Start Line – The race started at Queen Elizabeth Park. We parked downtown about a kilometer away from the finish line and since transit passes were included with our race registration we decided to take the Skytrain down to Queen Elizabeth Park. After a quick stop at the portable toilets, we found our corral and positioned ourselves right where we belonged – in the middle of the pack. The corrals are grouped based on estimated finish times and Dawn and I were both aiming to finish under four hours. I warmed up a bit with a light jog up and down the corral but I didn’t need to do much as the first part of the race was pretty much going to be my warm-up.  The national anthem blared through the speakers and the elite runners were off shortly after. Then the really fast people went,  then the fast people, and then us.

Alright, it was go time.

0-1KM: Start slow. Start slow. Start slow. Don’t get caught up in the hype and energy of the start where everyone is pumped to get going. Know your pace, stick to the plan. A huge chunk of my training leading up to the race consisted of very, very, very slow runs. Sometimes painfully slow. I had to exhibit the same kind of patience here as I had done in my training.

1-4KM: I kept a slow steady pace and just kept reminding myself to be patient. Dawn and I were in close proximity to each other and it was nice running together for once. I don’t think we ever ran together during the course of our training as one of us was always with the kids while the other person ran.

4-7KM: This section was a bit flatter than the start so I started to pick up the pace a bit. Just a bit.

7-10KM: I slowed it back down knowing what was ahead at kilometer 10; the hill at Camosun.

10-11KM: The hill on Camosun Street. I knew it was coming and I had been warned by other runners that had ran this course before that this section was going to be a challenge. I had my concerns about how I would be feeling at this point in the race. Thankfully I was still feeling really good. The hill didn’t slow me down too much. I made it to the top and was relieved to get that segment over and done with.

11-13KM: I loved running through Pacific Spirit Park. It was lush, peaceful, and felt like a getaway within the race.

13-17KM: Running along 16th Avenue was also very nice. The roads were quiet and mostly flat.

17-20KM: Running around the UBC campus with lots of cheering crowds was a definite mood booster. This segment was mostly flat and I was  looking forward to the upcoming downhill and postcard views ahead.

20-23KM: Wooooheee! Tough on the knees but it was free speed! This part was pretty much all downhill and getting to the halfway point was encouraging. At this point I made a conscious effort to just focus on getting to the 30km mark. I tried not to think too far ahead or about the fact that I still had half a marathon to go. I just wanted to get to the 30km mark without hitting the wall or hurting myself. If I could manage that, I’d be good, I thought to myself.

23-25KM: This was a bit of an uphill but the part I recall most of this section was that it was one of the marathon relay exchange points. The marathon relay was a separate event that could be done by teams of four people splitting the distance of the marathon. I must admit I felt a bit of resentment towards the relay runners who all seemed so fast, full of energy, and individually were only enduring a quarter of the agony. Nothing against the relay teams; it’s just that when you’re on an uphill 25km into a race, seeing fresh legs pass you feels like an injustice.

25-26KM: Lots of cheering crowds along this Kitsilano stretch. Our friends Michelle & Brian were there to cheer  us on! They rode their bikes down all the way from Burnaby and even made signs to encourage us. I don’t know what it is about it but cheering crowds and familiar faces can give you a real boost when you’re feeling depleted. I am thankful for the people that come out to cheer and to our friends for the extra support.

26-30KM: Still lots of cheering crowds. Kitsilano is awesome for that. Lots of funny and interesting signs. One in particular had a big red circle in the middle and the words ‘touch here for power’ above. I powered up. Thank you, sign people.

30-31KM:  The Burrard Street bridge. The view from here was spectacular. I’ve ran over this bridge many times before and I just wanted to get to the apex of the bridge deck and from there I knew it would be fine.

31-33KM: I remember it being very busy, crowded with lots of people and water stations.

33-35KM: Checked for time and checked my pace. I knew it was going to be tight. I just tried to keep pace and held on for dear life.

35-39KM: I was simply just running at this point. Not much going on in my mind and I was even inspired by an older runner who ran just past me and paced me through the next few kilometers. I was surprised that I was able to keep pace at this point in the race when I thought I would have been totally flattened.

39-41KM: I started to slow down. I was starting to have doubts about finishing under four hours. I was confident I would finish but seriously questioned whether I could keep up the pace to meet my goal.

41-42KM: The home stretch. It felt like I slowed almost to a halt. My mind was telling me to sprint and finish strong but my legs just weren’t turning over as fast as my mind wanted them to. It felt like everybody near me was flying by and leaving me behind. I looked down at my watch and saw that I still had time to come in under my sub four hour goal but it wouldn’t be graceful. I mustered whatever I could in me to cross the finish line and although in my mind I thought I was sprinting, I was probably moving really slow. I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch, and looked down to check my time…03:59! I was elated. So much so that the pain and gruelling 42.2 km I had just endured was masked by the endorphins and joy overtaking my body.

But very soon after, as I started to walk towards the post-race food, my legs certainly felt the 42.2 km I just ran. The post marathon zombie walk. Stiff legged and sore, I anxiously waited for Dawn to follow soon after me. She couldn’t be far along, I thought. I knew that she wouldn’t meet her sub four hour goal but at this point I would just be happy to see her at the finish line. Ten minutes passed and I was starting to get worried. I started to think about the people I saw along the last 10km cramping up or flattened along the side of the road. What happened? Where is she? She wasn’t that far behind me. Five minutes later, I finally found her doing the same zombie walk as I was towards the potato chips and bananas. Teary eyed, I was both proud and relieved that she finished. You can read about Dawn’s experience here.

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It was a fantastic experience to share together as our first marathon.

I’m glad I could share the experience with you here and hopefully inspire others to erase any self-doubt about what you are capable of doing. What I once thought was impossible for me is now a proud accomplishment on my bucket list and has further impassioned my love for running…life.

We’ll be back running the Vancouver Marathon again this year.

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5 Things I Learned from My First Fondo

February 5, 2015 in biking, Events, Exercise, Outdoor Activity, Race

Photo by: Sportograf

In September of 2014 I rode in my very first Whistler GranFondo, a 122km bike ride from Vancouver to Whistler, and it was an awesome experience. A Gran Fondo is defined as a big group ride that is usually longer than 100 kilometres or more. Riders of all skill levels and experience can participate and the ride is organized like a race; although it is not meant to be a race there are race elements built into it for more competitive riders. Whether you’re racing or just want the satisfaction of finishing the ride, gran fondos offer a challenging thrill for everyone.

As someone relatively new to road cycling, I learned a lot on the journey to my first gran fondo. Here are five (of many) things I learned from the experience leading up to the big day. Although these are not specifically about the day itself (maybe I’ll save that for another post) these were some valuable lessons learned along the way. If you are thinking about getting into cycling or want to ride in your first fondo too, I hope this provides you with some helpful insight.

1. Get fit. I don’t mean fit in terms of muscularity, endurance, and strength; although that will come with training. I mean ‘fit’ in terms of being properly fitted on your bike. A proper bike fit can help prevent injuries and reduce discomfort associated with a poor bike setup.

BikeFitting

Many specialty bike shops offer bike fitting services that can help fine-tune your bike to your size and riding needs. I had a bike fit done with a professionally certified bike fitter and it was a really valuable learning experience. I only wish that I had done it sooner. The session consisted of a thorough analysis of my riding needs, goals, habits, posture, flexibility, equipment, even down to the type of eye-wear I use when I ride. They hooked up sensors to different parts of my body and measured my movements while I rode my bike on a stationary trainer. The sensors were connected to a computer which projected a stickman-like figure of me on a screen analyzing all my numbers – I felt like cyborg! After getting my bike fit, we made some adjustments to my bike’s set-up to give me a more comfortable and efficient ride.

2. No shame in spandex. Wearing the proper gear can make a huge difference to the riding experience. A good pair of padded cycling shorts and a proper fitting cycling jersey with pockets on the back are incredibly practical, especially on long rides. It’s amazing how much you can cram into those little pockets on the back of those tight little jerseys; I remember stuffing pb&j sandwiches, energy bars, a banana, and energy gels with plenty of room to spare.

Sunny day at Porteau Cove

A beautiful day at Porteau Cove, Photo credit: Chuck

 

3.  Cycling is not cheap. The start up costs add up. At first you think that all you need is a bike but think again. Once you get a bike you realize there’s a whole lot more in store. Here are some additional items for consideration.

– helmet (I had an old one but as I learned with child car seats, they have an expiry date)
– clipless pedals
– cycling cleats/shoes
– accessories; bike bump or CO2 cartridges, water bottles, bottle cages, lights, sunglasses, spare tubes, saddle bag, a multi-tool, tire levers, cleaning supplies
– apparel: shorts, jerseys, gloves, vest or jacket (for those rainy day rides)
– bike computer

Now you don’t have to get all these things at once and instead gradually build up to it. So while it’s not cheap to get started, once you have most of the essential gear, you’re pretty much set to hit the road whenever you like. However, after riding for a while and seeing many other bikes on the road, you may be tempted to get a newer, lighter, flashier bike with better components! I’ve often heard amongst other cyclists that the appropriate number of bikes you should own can be boiled down to a simple formula, n+1. With ‘n’ being the number of bikes you already own.

At the top of Cypress Mountain.

Atop Cypress with the support of ride leaders Kelly and Rob of the JUST GIVER 4PD cycling club.

 

4. Chamois cream is a thing. Once I started going on longer rides, I was thankful this existed. You can apply it to the inside of your shorts or directly to your skin. I always did the latter. Chamois cream improves comfort in the saddle and can help prevent chaffing. TMI.

Taking in the view at Whytecliff Park, West Vancouver.

Taking in the view at Whytecliff Park, West Vancouver. Photo credit: K.Jablonski

5. There is a lot beauty to be seen out there and it’s better seen on two wheels. I feel fortunate to live in such a beautiful place but I’m sure wherever you live the beauty is magnified tenfold when you’re on your bike, or maybe it’s just the endorphins talking.

Some of the places I biked to during my training rides (in no particular order)

UBC
Spanish Banks
Queen Elizabeth Park
Stanley Park
Iona Beach
Deep Cove
Seymour demonstration forest
Cypress Mountain
Steveston Village
Porteau Cove
Whytecliff Park
River Road
Pitt Meadows
Westwood Plateau
Burnaby Mountain
Belcarra Regional Park
Anmore
Horseshoe Bay

These are all beautiful places in their own unique ways and sure you can also get there by driving or some other mode of transport but the journey of getting there by bike, the things you see along the way, the neighbourhoods you pass, the struggle, and the sense of accomplishment of getting there (and back) is much much more rewarding.

Happy to cross the finish line in Whistler, BC. Look at that smile!

Happy to cross the finish line in Whistler, BC. Look at that smile! Photo by: Sportograf

Thanks for allowing me to share my experience with you. If you have any questions/comments or if you would like to go for a ride sometime or just talk bikes, please use the comments section below.

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Why I Run

June 30, 2014 in Exercise, Outdoor Activity, Parenthood, Race, Running

Photo by jacsonquerubin under Creative Commons license.

Photo by jacsonquerubin under Creative Commons license.

 

I don’t run to lose weight. I don’t run to get ripped. I don’t run to win races. For me, none of these have been the result of long distance running nor have they ever been my objective.

I haven’t always been a runner. I only started running regularly a few months after I had my first baby almost 6 years ago.  At the start, I had somewhat of a negative attitude towards running and was constantly telling myself that I’m not a runner, running is boring, or that running is bad for my knees. With time, an open mind, and a strengthening regime to prevent any injuries, I began to fall in love with this sport and everything it has to offer.

Below are 6 ways that running won me over:

  1. Running is convenient and relatively inexpensive. All it takes is a pair of appropriate footwear and a bit of time out of my day, as little as 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Running is a great way to improve my cardiovascular heath and to supplement my fitness regime. It allows me to participate in various events including mud races, sports, fitness competitions or even just playing a rousing game of tag with the kids.
  3. Running is a great stress reliever and a great way to release those feel-good endorphins.
  4. Running provides me with quiet time for mental clarity, reflection or to stimulate new thoughts and ideas. It acts as a reset button for my brain.
  5. Running exercises my ability to overcome that negative self-talk. It trains my mental stamina and strength to keep going and to not back down. After all with running, the only person to stop me from running, or slow me down, is me.
  6. My kids. I run to take care of my emotional, mental and physical health, which in turn helps me be the best mom I can be for my kids. Naturally, kids love to run and because my kids  see the enjoyment I get out of running, along with the commitment it takes to work towards a goal, it’s my hope that they’ll continue to love running too.