PNE Donut Dash 5 km

August 20, 2017- Vancouver BC

Toby and I got up super early to run around the PNE and eat donuts at the PNE Donut Dash 5 km race. We wore matching unicorn shirts and shuffled and ate our way through the fairground, eating mini donuts and Oreo churros.

Toby ran this on his own two feet- his first 5 km! He fell in the first kilometre, but got back up after a few tears and some hugs from mama, and kept going. We alternated walking, running and eating, with the occasional piggyback. As we approached the finish, our friend Joseph (who was announcing the race on the microphone) yelled “Go Toby” and that made Toby start really running for the finish line. He crossed all smiles and was super happy with the big donut medal and the donuts at the finish line.

We spent the rest of the day at the fair going on rides and watching animal shows. Great fun!

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Buckin’ Hell 50 km

July 22, 2017- Deep Cove, North Vancouver BC

Coast Mountain Trail Series’ Buckin’ Hell 50 km is one heck of a tough but awesome course! Deep Cove to the top of Seymour back to Deep Cove.

There was fog, there was climbing, there was snow, there was mud.

I wore a garbage bag for the first half of the race and my sweat for the other half.

I was worried I would be chasing cut- offs all day, but happily I surprised myself and made it through with lots of room to finish, despite all the slippery snow at the top of Seymour!

The course starts in Panorama Park in Deep Cove and winds its way through the busy trail system down and up Old Buck, then up Ned’s (STRAIGHT UP) where mountain bikers coming down look at you like you are nuts, then up the road to Seymour parking lot, where you are greeted by tons of fantastic volunteers before chugging through the snow (or falling on your butt like me) to the top of Seymour to get a high five or hug from the best volunteer ever, Alaia.

You then turn your butt around and head back down to the parking lot to see all the happy people in bug suits and rain gear before making your way down the muddy muddy trails.

Thank you Chris Hardy, Debra Kato, Adelle Schwab, Brie Hemingway, Gary Jones, Marijke Johanna, Laura Lindstrom- Parley, and all the others I can’t remember in my current state of brain fog! You guys kept me going on a tough day out there!

Also it was great to run into David Appleby about 18 km from the finish, where we stuck together until the finish, shuffling our way up Old Buck (again) before hitting “the snake pit” of the Quarry Rock trail back to the finish line in Panorama Park, where a hug from Gary Robbins is all the celebration you need!

Canada Day 10 km

July 1, 2017- White Rock BC

Toby and I headed out bright and early on Canada Day to volunteer and run at the Try Events Canada Day 10 km in White Rock, BC. We helped with package pickup until it was time to head to the start line.

I pushed Toby in the stroller up and up and up all those hills- what a butt burner! Wow! But holy cow this course is beautiful! Ocean views for 90% of the course!

Expectant runner- mothers Brie and Courtney were out on the course running with their adorable bellies. What inspirations they are to be out running through their pregnancies! Way to go ladies!

After Toby and I crossed the finish line just over the hour mark, we headed back to volunteer again and waited for the kids race to start. Toby and all the kidlets lined up and did laps of the grassy field. Toby did great and was so proud of himself.

Swag- shirts were fantastic and medals were beautiful! Loved this event!

Tenderfoot Boogie 50 mile

June 24, 2017- Squamish/Whistler BC

Nothing says love like waking up at 2 am to drive to Squamish to volunteer sweep for a 50 mile race! Gottfried we must love you!

Chris Hardy, Dylan Morgan and I resumed our positions from last year as sweeps for the 50 mile course from Squamish Adventure Centre to Whistler, BC. We also resumed our work of rescuing lost runners in the first 10 km of the course! Luckily we found them and got them back on track.

We took a nice leisurely pace (sloth meets turtles stampeding through peanut butter) and made our way through the soft forested trails to the fish hatchery, then to the climbing paths and epic views of the Sea to Sky trail system.

We stopped to take pictures, reminisce about previous characters we encountered last year (right Chris?), and even did some yoga in the middle of the trail so that Chris could stretch out a tight hip flexor.

Due to childcare and pug care time constraints, both Chris and I decided to end our day at the Brandywine aid station (50 km mark), while Dylan continued on to the finish (what a champ)!

Next year I think I will race this instead of sweep….maybe…..

Seattle Rock N Roll 5 km and Marathon Weekend

June 17/18, 2017- Seattle

Debra Kato and I road- tripped down to Seattle for the Seattle Rock n Roll 5km and Marathon. We stayed with Debra’s friends who live just outside of Seattle.

Race day one was the 5 km at the Museum of Flight (one of my favourite places), and we were fortunate to be given free entry to the museum following our race. It was a nice cool morning and there were tons of amazing costumes out in full force (including barefoot Elvis!). I had my rainbow dash costume on which got lots of smiles 🙂

The 5km was a fast and flat out and back and I felt great. Ran without a watch and just went by how I was feeling for pace. I was the first tutu across the finish line at about 25 minutes.

I waited and cheered Debra on as she crossed the finish line and together we went and grabbed food and then checked out the museum, which has a new exhibit of the Apollo mission- very cool.

Following that we headed to the race expo for the Marathon where we were to volunteer for the afternoon shift. We got there early and had time to check out the expo- which was big- lots of freebies and fun swag to browse, and a very fun feel! I think we were given our weight in chocolate from one booth!

Both of us were volunteering at package pickup and people got a kick out of seeing us in our costumes from the morning. Debra even kept her blue wig on- what a champ!

We connected with Vivian who would be joining us for the evening and headed out for dinner with the gang. I made the mistake of eating a salad with red onion which then had me in heartburn for the night ugh!

The following morning we got up ridiculously early and drove to park at the finish line, then caught the shuttle to the start line. Ran into a few buddies from Vancouver in the start corrals and washroom line ups, and did our best to keep warm until the start.

The race started and off we went. I planned to run this race at a conservative pace as I would be sweeping the Tenderfoot Boogie 50 mile the following weekend. I ran a comfortable first half, even with all the hills- about a 2 hour 8 minute pace. Then I just started feeling cold and tired (the fog and misty rain had rolled in as we ran around the lake) and I started implementing a new method- the 1 minute walk, 1 minute run combo. I actually really enjoyed this. It kept my brain active as I was manually counting the minutes in my head (no watch), and I found I was running faster than if I just tried to do 10 and 1’s. Neat.

At kilometre 17 ish I ran past a lady who was walking with her Cockatoo on her shoulder. I stopped to take a picture of them, and she told me she would do better and plopped him on my hand and told me to run. He was trained to “run” with people! How cool. We ran together for about a kilometre and then I gave him back. So cool!

This race was a bit cruel because you run with the people running the half marathon distance and you watch them turn to the finish chute but you have to head the other way- up a massive hill! Oh Seattle, you cruel mistress! This is the section where we run up the overpass and to a super long out and back on the highway. We did get to go through a tunnel which was cool because they were playing really good music in it, but otherwise this section of the course was pretty boring and difficult to keep your mojo going. One good thing though was seeing all the other racers on their way out/ back as you ran in the other direction. I got to see Debra and give hugs which was great!

Finishing felt really good. Great medal, lots of food, finishing jacket and an extra medal for running the 5 km the day before. As I awaited Debra at the finish line, I got the nice surprise of seeing my friend Liz Harris finish! I didn’t even know she was racing!

Once Debra finished and we walked out our stiffness we headed to the car and hit the road to head home. We stopped at the Lululemon outlet, the chocolate shop, and a few Starbucks on the way home to treat ourselves for all the hard work! What a great weekend!

 

Hibiscus Half Marathon

May 28, 2017- Honolulu, HI

Family vacation to Hawaii and there just happened to be a race happening so of course I signed up!

I left my hotel at 4am to jog my way to the start line and let me tell you, it was already about 27 degrees out and between 80-90% humidity. It was going to be a hot one! Good thing I was prepared with my Jenny pack filled with water and strawberry lemonade nuun tablets. The nuun tablets also came in handy for other racers I encountered who were having heat and cramping issues. I happily shared and they were grateful!

The Hibiscus Half Marathon is part of the Triple Crown race series on the island and follows a large portion of the Honolulu Marathon course. The mostly out and back course begins at Kapiolani Park before sunrise, and circles the park before heading out along the shoreline and up towards Diamond Head, where the dawn began to break and we got some excellent views of the ocean.

I have to say this race is extremely well organized- great volunteers, well stocked hydration stations, and the friendly Honolulu Police force out keeping us safe from traffic and tossing out shakas to all the racers as we passed. Also there were lots of people from the neighbourhoods just out to cheer us on as we passed by in the wee hours of the morning. Love the feeling of Ohana here.

There were lots of military families out running together and pushing their kids in the stroller, which I was so impressed by as I was working hard just to get my butt over the course! Great energy from everyone on the course- such a fun event!

I crossed the finish line just over 2 hours, which I was super happy with, given all the heat and humidity! Found the Hawaii Running Lab folks (hi Mike!) and gabbed with them for a bit before running back to my hotel with my HUGE medal (holy cow this thing is heavy)!

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!

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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!

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