Run Like A Girl “Be Fearless” Trail Marathon

June 3, 2017- Squamish, BC

Following last year’s amazing experience sweeping the RLAG “Be Fearless” Trail 21.1 km and 11 km, I was beyond stoked when my friends Hailey, Dayna, and Courtney at RLAG announced that this year they were adding a 42.2 km distance to the mix! YAAASSSS SIGN ME UP!!!!!

I had just returned home from 10 days in Hawaii the day prior. I was confident that running in 90% humidity and 30 degree celsius weather everyday on vacation would ensure that I could handle any heat that Squamish could throw at me. Well, I guess the heat training worked because I was FREEZING my butt off when I arrived to the start line at Alice Lake! I was extremely thankful for my brand new RLAG hoodie to keep me cozy until the absolute last second before the race started (I actually considered running the race wearing it, but decided to save it for after instead).

It was wonderful to arrive at the start early. I got to say hi to my RLAG buddies and help a bit with set up and watch as all the other runners filed in. I absolutely love this community of runners that Dayna, Courtney, and Hailey have created. Everyone is welcomed and supported. It is an extremely encouraging and empowering group to be a part of.  I am so thankful to know such amazing individuals and be able to have this community in my life! THANKS YOU GUYS!!!!

The weather, though cold at the start line, was perfect running weather! Especially for this particular course, with its long exposed sections. Following my kidney injury, I have to be extremely mindful about heat and hydration to keep myself healthy and happy, so I was definitely relieved that it was not a super hot day.

I quickly crammed a banana and a bagel into my mouth and lined up at the start with all the other full marathon runners. We all huddled and broke out in a few impromptu dance parties to keep warm! I was thankful to my friend Jason for lending me his Norvan jacket to wear for the start, as my heat- trained body was in shock with the Hawaii- Squamish temperature change!

We began the race and headed through the Alice Lake campground and quickly found ourselves on the 4 Lakes Trail, which is one of the best trails to warm up on. It is soft and undulating, and so much fun to run! The trail winds around Stump Lake and over to Fawn Lake before it meets up with a trail called Manboobs (gotta love MTB trail names).

Manboobs is where the climbing starts- it takes you up to the first aid station (and to my favourite part of last year’s event), where amazing volunteers are waiting to feed you and give you hugs and high fives. My buddy Ward was there and shoved some chips in my mouth, put my jacket in my pack, and sent me off again with a huge “waaahoooooo” which got me to pick up the pace enough to catch up with my girl Linda.

From the aid station, you head out on a loop of MTB trail and fire road that takes you up Ed’s, Made in the Shade, and Dead End Loop, down Rock n Roll, and back up to the same aid station again (hooray, more hugs and snacks!) By this time I was feeling great and the temperature was perfect. I had fallen into a nice comfortable pace alongside Linda and we cruised through Rob’s, Cliff’s and Lower Corners (super fun pump track type trails under the power lines with a nice breeze on the face and soft dirt kicking up behind). Said hello to Jason and Kat out on course rocking their marshalling spots, ran past Adam Gilbert Ciuk one of our wonderful on- course paparazzi, and headed down towards aid station 3, where my buddy Kyle was stationed.

After all the fun flowing descent we then headed out on wide forestry road that climbed gradually for EVER (just kidding, it was totally fine, fairly runnable, but Linda and I were too busy talking about Hawaii to push pace). I always joke about how I will run the steep technical sections, and then walk the easy flat stuff, so at least I remained consistent.

Following the fire road we ended up on trails I have never been on before! Tinder and Your Mom yielded epic views and fast and technical single track all the way back down to the parking lot where we were greeted by tons of awesome bikers who cheered us the whole way through.

I need to stop for a moment and just appreciate how well flagged the course was! Not once did I ever question my route, and it was so awesome to just enjoy the course without worrying about getting lost and eaten by wildlife! Also can I just say how stoked I was to have had Linda there to run with the whole race! I usually end up racing on my own so it was wonderful to have another mother runner to share the experience with!

This point in the race the course hits the pavement and circles around the beautiful Quest University campus and through the residential streets. Again, for most people, this would have been a nice reprieve from the technical stuff and an easy stretch for the legs. Linda and I felt differently however, as we shuffled our way up the never-ending street, only picking up the pace when we knew the aid station could see us!

Thankfully aid station 5 had chips and coke and salt tabs! It also was our gateway back to the trails. We quickly found our mojo again and frolicked our way through the forest along Lumberjack’s. Then we hit In N Out Burger- which required us to become billy goats and scale up a massive rock slab on all fours, while James Frystak our other race paparazzi giggled and snapped pics of us from the top. Gotta love a good leg burn 32 km or so into a race!

We paused at the top to enjoy the view and watch a few other runners shrieking their way up from the bottom. We showboated around for a few photos before beginning our super fun descent down Penthouse Slap and Icy Hole of Death.

Our legs were feeling the distance by the time we hit Jacks. We were getting excited to again run into our buddy Kyle at the 39 km mark. In our excitement, we both forgot we still had a climb up 50 Shades of Green and 50 Shades More. Oops. We got to work and climbed our butts off.

We were beyond pumped when we got into the final aid station and were greeted with big hugs and WATERMELON! They filled our tummies and our hearts and off we went on the final 3 km (ish) of our race, which was around the lake and back through the campsite to the finish. It was great to turn the corner and see the finish line chute and see our friends there cheering us on. Hailey, Dayna, and Courtney- thank you for the finish line hugs! Sorry about the sweat!

Before I forget- the swag! We were given custom BE FEARLESS technical visors at package pickup and beautiful finisher medals designed by my lovely friend Brie. We were also given cool keychain charms!

I am so grateful to RLAG for creating such a wicked course and for how well organized and supported it was! This will definitely be back on my race calendar for next year!

http://runlikeagirl.ca

http://www.jamesfrystak.com

https://www.adamgilbertciuk.com

 

Try Events Green Sock Half & Shamrock’n Race

March 12, 2017- Burnaby, BC

We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day early this past weekend at the Try Events Green Sock Half & Shamrock’n Race at Burnaby Lake.

I met up with my friends Brie and Courtney and together we ran the package pickup and then suited up to run the half marathon together. We were concerned about the threat of rain (although I had prepared a garbage bag dress for the occasion, just in case), and were thinking we might only do the first loop and bow out if it got too nasty.

Since I was running with pregnant ladies, I decided to let them lead the pace. We took it easy and enjoyed the time on the trail. It was a beautiful route around Burnaby Lake, with soft gravel and wood boardwalks through the marshes and the forest.

We took lots of snack breaks, and potty breaks. I shared my valentines day candy and we just enjoyed a leisurely pace over the two- loop course. It was tempting to stop after loop 1, especially since we knew there was a pancake breakfast at the finish line! However, we demonstrated a lot of will power and pushed on!

We probably completed our slowest half marathon ever, but we had a blast and we still earned our feast! I celebrated with my signature finish- line cartwheel, and a two- bite brownie!

Ps- the medals for this event are shamrocks with legs- Brie designed them and they are so stinking cute! I couldn’t stop smiling looking at them! Nice work (as always) Brie!

My son would also like to thank Try Events for the bag of bananas I got sent home with!

17156106_10155100033162128_6796672759306342561_n17200961_10155100036387128_5525172130111780284_nIMG_9985

Try Events Hot Chocolate 10.4 km

March 4, 2017- Vancouver, BC

Toby and I volunteered to assist with same- day package pickup at this year’s race. We got up at 4 am, packed up the car in Agassiz and headed out to Vancouver’s Lumberman’s Arch in Stanley Park. Because we were early we got primo parking right next to the start/ finish area!

It was freezing cold but sunny (yay Vitamin D!) as we began to get set up for the runners’ arrival. Courtney from Run Like A Girl joined me and we got everyone all set to race!

I had originally planned to run the 10.4 km with Toby in the stroller, but my friend Mikaela showed up and offered to take him to the park to play so I could run solo! Hooray! What a nice treat!

Courtney and I started after all the other racers had gone (as well as pee breaks for us both). We hit the seawall and kept a leisurely pace, with some walk breaks thrown in. Courtney had just recently announced her pregnancy and she was battling fatigue and nausea, so we just played it by how she was feeling. (Ps- her little baby bump is so cute!)

We were treated to gorgeous views along the seawall. It was clear so you could see for miles across the ocean! One of my favourite views is the Port of Vancouver with its orange cranes, as well as the look across the water to North Vancouver- the mountains were stunning with a crisp line of fresh snow!

We crossed the finish line (which was a short, steep uphill- thanks Mitchell haha) with a burst of energy. I did my little cartwheel as we crossed, which made everyone laugh. The photographer grabbed a super flattering photo of it (see below)- haha!

After we stuffed our faces with food we cheered on the other runners and got ready for the next event: the kids fun run!

Toby was so excited to run his first race (not in a stroller)! He kept asking if it was time yet, and heading towards the start line. He was bouncing around with joy during the warm up and I loved hanging out with the other kids and parents as they prepared.

Toby took off like a shot when it was time, turned the first corner and face planted- HARD. Poor little dude tripped on the only stick on the path and scraped up his knees, hands, and face. The tears exploded out of him as I held his hand and tried to keep him moving. I ended up carrying him for half a kilometre. He did pull it together and run himself across the finish line though! And the tears were all gone when everyone cheered him on and he received his finisher’s medal. He was so proud of himself. The rest of the day he kept saying “mama I fell and that made me sad, but I am so happy I kept going and finished my first race- look at the medal I won!”

He is also asking when he can race again.

Proud mama over here!

Try Events Fort Langley Historic Half Marathon

February 19, 2017- Fort Langley, BC

I was originally planning to run this event, however last minute they were looking for an emcee, so I decided to play around on the mic for the day instead of race with my friends. I did get up super early and pre- run the course in the dark with my headlamp before the race started so I didn’t miss out on running one of my favourite half marathon courses!

This race starts in the historic Fort and goes through the rolling hills of the surrounding farmland. The finish area has a roaring fire and two bit brownies (and the most gorgeous medals, designed by my friend Brie Hemingway). They also host a free kids race (which is the most adorable thing you will ever see, I promise) where the kids run laps inside the fort.

I was given a script and a crash course on the sound system and allowed to have at it. Little did I know, a few bits of the script were from an older race in Vancouver, and I didn’t catch it in my first read- through (hey I got up super early ok). So I instructed the runners to run around Science World and by the water (yup- AWKWARD). No worries though, I recovered well and threw some humour in and we all had a good laugh and moved on!

Brie, Courtney, and Karen ran together and had a photoshoot with baby goats along the way. (That is how to race in my opinion- with fun!) I was happy to see some of my other friends as they crossed the finish line- Dylan, Lianna, Jane, Gord, Mike, Thai. I had fun announcing everyone as they sprinted down the finish line chute!

Try Events always have fantastic races so I love helping out at them when I can. They always send me home with food too! (Thanks for the oranges and bagels, Mitchell!)

Looking forward to the next Try Events race: the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Run! 10.4 km in Stanley Park and hot chocolate at the finish line! Can’t wait!

img_9935img_9934

16681716_10155036747297128_2376566385355127260_n16830995_10155036755157128_8385085621866422737_n16831913_10155036757257128_6660661022894479182_n16830990_10155036758187128_5253261476669394103_n

RunGo Dash for Dogs 10 km

February 18, 2017- Vancouver, BC

This was a super fun event organized by my friend Craig Slagel, founder of RunGo. A 5km walk or 10 km run through the trails of Stanley Park in Vancouver, where dogs are not only welcomed, but encouraged! All proceeds towards BC and Alberta Guide Dogs.

There were so many puppies and dogs with their humans enjoying the trails, and especially the pancake breakfast afterwards! There were dog beds and treats, an obstacle course, and amazing volunteers everywhere you looked!

I met up with my friends Brie (with pup Hadley), Courtney, Karen, and Dylan (with pup Maja) and we took off from the start line. Faster than we normally head out (thanks to Hadley’s motivating pace pulling us along).

The course was stroller- friendly (well, except for 2 downed trees, some stairs, and some pretty steep uphills), so I brought Toby with me to get some fresh air. I was hit by surprise by the first tree, but had an amazing crew of friends and strangers who helped lift my stroller over it- THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!

Also thank you to the stranger who paid for my parking as the meter did not want to acknowledge my card and my app was not working! You are an angel! I paid it forward later to a lady in Starbucks 🙂

Hypothermic Half Marathon

January 2017- Abbotsford BC

The weather leading up to this event had been brutally cold and so the turnout was much lower than expected. There were less than 100 participants, which made it nicely spacious on the trails. It felt more like a training run with awesome volunteers cheering you on!

I had a great time and the course was fantastic- a 2 loop jaunt through the Elwood and Rotary park areas of Abbotsford, BC. There was some ice, lots of hills, and lots of smiles.

I took a nice easy pace and ran the whole thing without stopping to walk. With all the ice I didn’t want to risk a fall or a pulled muscle. I slowed to pat all the dogs and wave to all the kids, and made a mental note of all the birds I saw. It was a very relaxed race for me.

So you can imagine my surprise on my last loop to see the front running women coming back, and realize that I was only slightly behind them, and in 4th place! (Small field perks!)

I sprinted across the finish and saw my friend waiting to cheer on his mom as she crossed the finish line. That was a nice surprise as well!

I stayed to cheer on a few more runners and then began to feel cold and headed back to my car to change into dry clothes and warm up.

Definitely enjoyed this event and will do it again!

img_9797

Solana’s Birthday Hike Up Squamish Chief

January 2017- Squamish BC

My friend Solana organized a fantastic event for her birthday- a snowy hike up the Squamish Chief followed by lunch at Mags. I packed Toby up in the car and met up with the gang in North Van. Nicole hopped in my car and we caravanned up to the Squamish Chief parking lot.

We piled on the winter layers (it was COLD) and I loaded Toby up in the Ergo and we headed up the mountain. It was super icy so I was really thankful I brought my micro spikes for the hike.

I realized how out of shape I was very quickly lol. It had been a while since hiking with a toddler on my back and man was it tough! I suffered my way up at the back of the pack, huffing and puffing, until finally we reached first peak. Everyone was up already and they were cheering and dancing around- it was a real party up there! We took some photos and a funny video thing before the wind got the best of us and we began our descent.

Going down was full of laughs as we slipped and slid on our butts on the snow covered hills. What a fun time! Toby was giggling on my back as we raced down the hill.

We got back to the car and hit up Starbucks before heading to Mags. I couldn’t stay as long as I would have liked as I had other commitments for the afternoon and a long drive ahead.

Thanks Solana for a super fun- filled day celebrating your birth!

Club Fat Ass New Year’s 50 km Run and Freeze Your Ass Off Polar Bear Swim

January 2017, Vancouver BC

Rang in 2017 by running the Club Fat Ass 50 km run and freeze your ass off polar bear swim! Thanks Kyle Conway, Brie Hemingway, M.o. Toby, and Craig Slagel for dragging my slow and out of shape butt along for the longest run since my recovery!

Thanks to Starbucks for the aid stations! We stopped at every Starbucks on the route!

Thanks to Ean Jackson and the rest of CFA for putting together such a fun event!

Photos by the gang- thanks for taking photos ’cause I took none!

Deck The Trails

December 2016- North Vancouver, BC

My friend Suzanne organizes this event every year before Christmas. We run through the trails dressed in ridiculous holiday attire and hand out candy canes to anyone we meet.

This year it was snow and lots of it. Wet, heavy snow. And trees, lots and lots of downed trees. Still, we dashed and frolicked our way through the winter wonderland, singing carols and munching on candy canes and chocolate as we went.

img_9499img_9494

Mini Barkley Experience with Jared Campbell

December 2016- North Vancouver, BC

I was fortunate enough to get a last minute ticket to the Mini Barkley Experience with Jared Campbell put on by Distance Runwear.

We met at Distance Runwear at 9am and were told to pick a number out of a hat. I picked number 1- the sacrifice lol. Lucky for me it was just to assign us a partner! Even luckier- I got Karen as my partner!

We were introduced to Jared and he showed us a little presentation about his racing background and the Barkley. We were then given an orienteering map with 5 points with books stashed from which we were to pull out our assigned page number. I had borrowed a compass and had never seen an orienteering map before, so I was nervous and excited lol. I just hoped not to get us hopelessly lost!

We took a quick group photo and then we all headed to the start. One by one, each team set off, two minutes apart, in opposing directions. I had never run these trails before so I was reliant on Karen and our “map” to know where we were headed.

We quickly found the first book after an uphill scramble and Karen’s keen eyesight! That got us excited. We developed a strategy and had good success finding the next 3 books. It was fun having people running in different directions and seeing everyone so excited!

The final book was the hardest to find because I ignored my initial gut feelings about it. We wasted so much time looking high and low for that darn book and when I finally found it I realized had I trusted my initial instinct we would have saved at least 15 minutes!

Then it was a sprint back to the start line/ finish to make our time cut off of 2 hours. We squeaked in with about 2 minutes to spare! It was so much fun! Best part is we had run into Nicole looking for the last book and we got to run in with them together!

Thanks to Distance Runwear for organizing such a fantastic and fun event and to Jared Campbell for sharing his infinite wisdom and great stories with us! I had so much fun!