Saturday, May 26, 2018

9 Months, 8 Races Later

I'm back! Now before I start making excuses for essentially abandoning this blog, I'd like to say this...I love running again! It's true. For awhile (hmm, like most of 2014-2016) I didn't, which really sucked because running has always been my thing, my go-to happy place. Except when it wasn't. Those times when my hamstring throbbed after every run and my stomach revolted during every race just left me feeling sad, frustrated and empty.

But I kept on running (and occasionally racing) partly out of habit but mostly because I thought I could force happiness. It didn't work - shocking, I know! However, things have finally turned around. My hamstring is nearly back to normal and I am getting some speed back in these old legs thanks to Coach David. (I never expected to be posting some of my fastest times at almost 40!!?)

I've done eight races since my last blog entry and as I have neither the memory nor patience to write that many recaps, I'm going to be lazy and simply add a few pics and words about some of them.

Sun Mountain 25km
I think my face says it all: I love this race! This photo was taken just past the halfway point of one of my all-time favourite trail running events. Put on by Race Director extraordinaire James Varner of Rainshadow Running, the Sun Mountain 50km was my first ever ultra (and blog post!) and will forever hold a special place in my heart. I have been to this race four times now, having also run the 50-mile and 100km distances, and always had a blast. I thrive on these trails and this course has been kind to me. This year, I was second woman and sixth overall. So much fun!
Photo credit: Glenn Tachiyama Photography
Leona Divide 50km
My first big race of 2018 and the kick-off to our California road trip. I lucked out with great weather and a beautiful course, consisting mostly of the Pacific Crest Trail. My favourite takeaway from Leona Divide is running almost 40 kilometres with this amazing gal. Not only an incredibly talented runner, but also an absolute sweetheart and it was wonderful to share the trails with her. We were both aiming for a sub-5 hour finish and decided to work together to make it happen. Even if my stomach hadn't started turning during the final 5 miles of the race forcing me to drop back, I would still have been rooting for Emma to take the win. She's just that nice. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to catch the 1st place lady but finished strong in 2nd and I was about 5 minutes behind her in 3rd. (Three ladies in the top 10 - woo hoo!!) We both easily broke 5 hours and made the list of top 10 fastest times ever.

Photo credit: Rudy (Emma's man)
Interior Running Association (IRA) Races
I'm pretty sure at some point I said (with a sneer) there's no way I'd ever go back to road racing. Well, never say never. I've done two IRA road races this year (the Oliver 10km and Blossom 10-miler) and enjoyed them way more than I was expecting. Shifting focus from 50-plus mile events to mostly 25- and 50-kilometre races means racing shorter distances more often and at a faster pace. I find both of those things kind of scary, but that's probably why it's good for me to do them. It's also nice to occasionally be social (as an introvert I struggle with this) and to support the local running community. Plus, there are good prizes like wine!
Photo credit: Vlad Zamecnik
Dirty Feet 20km Tunnel Run
This is always a fun end-of-year race to do. Phil and Grace Hiom of Dirty Feet have it dialed in terms of putting on a well organized and attended event with a fun, low-key vibe. I've done this race at least three times and what makes this one memorable is that I decided to run to and from the race, almost doubling the distance. My intent wasn't to be heroic. Quite the opposite actually. As you can see from the photo below, conditions were not ideal and since I hate winter driving, I decided it would be safer to run to the race.
Photo credit: Phil Hiom
Frosty Mountain 27km
I don't know why I didn't do a write-up for this one - it was my best race of the year! Maybe that's why. I think bad races are easier to write about because inevitably something funny and/or embarrassing happens that you're going to want to share with a bunch of random strangers on the Internet. Good races are just plain boring. On this occasion, though, I'll take boring.

A former coach used to encourage me to "go Kamikaze" in races, but it's just not in my DNA to go all out. My self-preservation instincts are too strong. I've probably done more than 100 races over the past two decades and can recall exactly three times when this crazy competitive drive kicked in and it was both terrifying and exhilarating. Anyway, Frosty was one of those times when I decided to go for it. I had a perfect race, winning outright and setting a new women's course record. (My father-in-law is still in disbelief that I, a girl, could beat ALL the boys. Every time he brings it up, it makes me smile.)

Photo credit: Daryl Spencer
Mighty Quail 100km
Frosty might have been my best race of 2017, but the Mighty Quail 100km was by far my favourite. I didn't run it, but instead helped organize it, along with Dave and our friends Andrew and Magda. It was probably one of the most stressful and satisfying things I've ever been involved with and I am so proud of what we created. Find out more at:

Photo credit: Aaron Barry Photography

Since the theme of this post seems to be love, friendship and gratitude, I'm going to wrap things up by thanking my husband Dave for his support through all my racing highs and lows. I think my struggles with running and injuries have often been harder on him as I have a selective memory and forget the really bad times. I'm pretty sure all he wants is for me to retire from racing and yet he knows how happy it makes me when things are going well so he's willing to stay up late scrolling through event calendars with me and planning all our holidays around my race schedule. What a guy!

I'm also grateful for my wonderful friends who put up with me even though I often can't do anything with them because I'm going for a run, recovering from a run or going to bed early because I have to run in the morning. And they refrain from making piggy noises when I eat twice as much as everyone else at the table!

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