Friday, 28 June 2013

Blue Skies and a Scotiabank 1/2 Marathon

Opening the drapes in the morning and being smiled upon by sunshine and blue skies: awesome!!! Opening the drapes in the morning and be smiled upon by sunny blue skies on race day: priceless! What a morning Sunday was! As soon as I saw the day, I knew it was time to play (even if it was 5:30am)!!

The 2013 Scotiabank 1/2 Marathon marked my second road race ever! Knowing a bit more what they are about, I was super keen to have another great experience like the BMO 1/2 Marathon and excited to run fast!!! "Beep, beep!" In the words of Road Runner, or "Meep, Meep!!" As I always thought he said! Joel and I got to UBC without a problem and danced into the bathroom in the stadiums that us lucky runners found avoiding the scent of port-o-potties and line ups! Score!! Now it was time to warm up! The legs felt pretty darn good and not sore after our 9km trail run the day before so that was one big weight off my shoulders and wearing my new pink Acsics outfit I knew I was set!! I mean it matched my hot pink Brooks Pure Flows and 2XU compression socks! Could I ask for more?! Oh wait, what about some great tunes to bust it out to: Tiesto! Boom!!! Starting warm up I heard some clicks beside us and looked over to see Rob Shaer's happy self and camera clicking away! Gooooood mornin!! And cue race time!
Being near the front end of the sub 1:50 corral meant we were able to kick it off strong and run, run, run!! I joined into the count down and leaped into the air as soon as it was go-time! If I had been wearing bare feet a holler of "Yabba Dabba Doooooo!" Would have been absolutely fitting as my feeties flew into action! 

Less crowded and able to navigate through crowds I had a blast dodging past runners and found a great pace to make time yet preserve fuel for the next 21km! The long road flats were quick to bop through and I excitedly picked out the few little kids and families watching to give high fives too! So cute!! I love seeing families out together and especially exposing their children to this active fun activity! Learning to support others and be healthy is so important! Riding on cloud 9 from my high fives I kicked it up a notch more knowing the downhill would be coming soon! 

Running felt great!! I was pushing myself hard, but was able to find that perfect pace that busts it out without burning you out! I even found myself using the runners around me as encouragement to push it harder to make that pass or draft in around a corner. Kudos to the naked man from Wreck Beach promoting the naked run!!! That was hilarious! He got a huge peace sign and laugh out of me!  Busting down the long hill, I gave my legs the reins and let them go wild! It was a blast flying down with the breeze cooling you off! The scenery of the ocean front was gorgeous!!! Blue oceans, lush forested mountains and the North Shor: wow!! I think I ran looking sideways for a big chunk of that! Talk about a beautiful city to live in! Vancouver, you rock!! 

Hitting 10km I was feeling some of my efforts and had to push it harder to keep up my pace. Gotta love the challenge but it also plays with your head and it becomes more of a mental challenge as well as a physical challenge! Gel in and smile plastered on I ran on! A few silly faces, thank yous to supporters and volunteers, police and jumps (no I didn't ninja jump this time like I did in the BMO, this was more an exhilarated leap of joy!) Seeing Rob upcoming I quickly grabbed a gaterade cup and then ran over taking a quick sip! Lost in my happiness and excitedness to get a picture: I pranced into the air: as did my cup of hydration as it flew into a graceful rainbow of neon yellow beside me! The amazing photographer, Rob Shaer, caught my leap of joy on film! Sorry if I spashed gaterade in anyone around me!! I was too scared to check and just thanked goodness I could run fast so I could evacuate the crime scene!! Hahahahah!!! Ooopsies! 

The last quarter was intense! I fought hard and really pushed myself. I knew I wanted a sub 1:30.00 time and wanted it bad!! Facing the Burrard Bridge looked daunting and sure burned but heck after running mountains and trail running.. It's just a paved bridge after all so I gunned it at a steady pace and gave everything I had to the last few km. A final sprint at the end pushed me even faster as a guy from the UK and I were entered into a neck and neck race to the finish line! Passing under those arches felt amazing (after the feeling of tingles and puking went away!) wooooohoooooo!!! What a race!!! I finished with a gun time of 1:27:24- placing me 2nd in my age category! Wow!!! Even better than my previous 3rd place finish at the BMO!!

The race was a wonderful experience and so well organized! Shuttles worked like a dream come true and I was so excited to see the beautiful faces of some fellow friends who were running it- Joel, Kathyrn, Aaron! BIG thank yous to everyone who made that happen!! Thank you organizers, staff, volunteers, photographers, sponsors, Vancouver Police, supporters who came to cheer us on and participants! Congratulations on a great event!! 

Love, smiles and stinky socks,

Shanny! Xo

Ps. Thank you and regrets to Kristin who was unable to race due to injury but transferred me her race injury! Can't wait to see you back running! 


Friday, 21 June 2013

5 Peaks Alice Lake Anniversary

This race marked it ladies and gentlemen: the one year anniversary of my racing career! The 5 Peaks Alice Lake 2012 race was the first trail race I ever ran and what can I say? It sparked something special in me! The amazing people, joking with them on the course, feeling the burn of my muscles, the sweat pouring off my body, the smile stretching across my face, the hit of adrenaline, and getting lost in the incredible scenery and scent of the forest!!! I knew I'd come across something special! Surprising myself with a decent placing I started to wonder how I would have done if I had actually cranked it out the whole time instead of chatting. But regardless if the placing it was the joy and love if it that made me want to come back for more!! I have to give a BIG thanks here to all my friends and supports from the 2012 Kintec Trail Running Clinic who not only encouraged me to try a race, but also informed me that trail races existed!! Also BIG BIG thanks to my best friend Lauren without whom it wouldn't have been possible to get to the race as she volunteered to drive me the night before when I was out if luck with no ride!

Anyways, since I've found this passion I've been racing for a year and loving every minute of it! Even when Im about to cry or puke, I still love it! It's the best personal challenge and reward I can relish in as it gives me the feeling of flying and connectedness. 

This year I was fortunate enough to be able to race it just a week after placing 3rd in the 2013 National Mountain Running Championships! Joel and I were able to do a bit of a preview of the gorgeous beginning and end if the course in which we both got lost and absorbed into the natural beauty if the area! Lush green mossy trees, stunning lakes and happy campers all mixed with not only the sweet smell of the forest but also campfire! Yum!! We got there a bit early for a quick warm up and hoped it wouldn't rain too much on us as it was sprinkling lightly. I was pleasantly surprised to run into Adam Campbell and knew it was going to be a fast race once I saw him, Chessa, Laura, Jason, and Mike Murphy! Lining up at the start line with such amazing runners is an incredible feeling! On the count down from Chris Colpitts, we were off!! And boy were we off! We hit the ground running and the leaders pulled off quick! Supporting campers cheered us on and soon we hit the trails! 

After a gradually undulating start to the course if which I remembered from last year we started hitting some tougher terrain and I was feeling it. My legs felt absolutely weighted down and I began to feel those nagging thoughts come creeping into my mind that maybe 'I wasn't recovered from racing last week' ' maybe I shouldn't have ran 40km in the two days after my race' and finally 'maybe this just wasn't my race'. I struggled through this onslaught and keep pushing even though it felt a bit hopeless having to power hike smaller hills than I am used to and getting passed here and there. Laura and Tara passed me as they powered up hills and the feelings continued. 

But then it switched!!! We hit the technical downhill segment and my wings grew back! Fast feet flying down dry dusty dirt and dodging trees, roots, rocks, and other innocent runners..?! My time to shine and smile big as I hoped I didn't eat dirt! Loving every minute if it I made some important passes and time! 
Photo Courtesy of Rob Shaer

Once that was rocked I knew we had sone brutal uphill climb waiting for us and soon downshifted to make the ascent! About halfway up the first climb I heard the best voice of encouragement, Joel's! After an amazing comeback he powered up the hills in no time making tons of passes. For me, I continued my race by runnin any bit deemed efficient and kept Laura and Joel in my target as I hunted for the finish line! 

Flying down the gravel road I gained in the strong and great runner Laura and knew I had to push hard to beat her! It was neck and neck til the last stretch where I pulled ahead and crossed that Finish line a few seconds behind Joel (just like how we met at a trail race)! Yeeees!!

This race proven to be a big challenge mentally as well as physically and it reminded me of the strength and determination it takes any runner to run. You need to keep your head up and never forget to smile. It might be hard, it might seem impossible but you have to remind yourself that so much of the sweetness of the reward is stemmed from overcoming adversity and growing as a person. 

Many many thanks to the amazing organizers, Jen Segger for the amazing course, Chris Colpitts, Rob Shaer for the amazing pictures and all the lovely volunteers! It was so great to meet even more if our amazing running community and the quality people in it!!!

Result wise I came third in my age category cutting several minutes off my time last year and am very pleased with that placing! My friends has great results too and I'm sure everyone who was there can't wait for the next race!

Running, especially trail running, makes me "happy, happy, happy!" (Sy from Duck Dynasty) :) 

Love always,

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Oh Canada!

 What can I say, but we have some great terrain here in Canada! Truly the strong and free! It takes some sheer brute strength to drive your muscles to the point of exhaustion and race up mountains, jump over roots and rocks, plow through ankle deep mud, crash through creeks, slip, slid and leap down steep hills, rein your momentum in and change directions before you either fall or crash off course and just to take that breath that seems to run away from you… but let me tell you.. the FREEDOM you get from that is like flying! Sweat pours off of you and you couldn’t be happier with the brief relief from the heat it gives you as the wind whips by you! Mountain running isn’t for the faint hearted. As one of our 2013 National Mountain Running Team members, Kris Swanson, said, he has “a battle wound from each and every race.”

            My wounds started the day before my big race, as you’ve seen in my pre-race post.. The crash that gauged my shin out nicely (even with compression socks on) the scrapes on my knee and the start of the bruising and swelling. Let’s just say it’s gotten even more beautiful after racing on it on June 1st, but the body is an amazing thing! I had hoped the adrenaline and our bodies ability to adapt to pain would make my race pain free and sure enough.. IT DID! Yeeeee! Go body go! It’s incredible.

            I couldn’t sleep in the morning as I was so excited for the race. I think I woke up first at 4:45am and then every 20 minutes on until I gave up and decided 7 was acceptable for a 10am race. Fueled up with my shake of greens, vitamins, minerals and protein and got my carb fix of delicious multigrain bread with.. dare I admit.. a chocolate, hazelnut and caramel spread!! Talk about energy in a jar!! YUUUUM then put on the racing garments and did some rolling. Warming up at the site around 9:30am I ran into Mirabelle, Sean, Pat Boily and Penny and we got all ready to roll! The excitement was huge with the big inflated start line, helicopter and hundreds of people as the X-Trail 11.8km race was happening at the same time as ours. There was about 400 people in our distance, divided into three waves. We only had a small portion as the elites in the Canadian Mountain Running Championships and all jumped up to the front to kick off the race.

            After announcing the race was about to start Mirabelle, Pat and me headed to the start line and ran into David le Porho (who was part of the National team with me last year) Many good lucks and nervous jumps and then it was time! On the count down from 10 (en francias), we were off and RUNNING! Holy smokes was it a quick start! But we had been warned the night before that it was crucial to pick your place first as passing on the single track is extremely difficult and dangerous. Often runners just get stuck behind others. So I started off high tailing it. Blah! Exhuasting! The race began on a gravel road with a downhill slope which was nice for carrying speed, but it sure made it hard when we hit the start of the uphill. Luckily it started off more gradual and I saw that “wascally wrock” that destroyed me the previous day.. I gave it a gr and ran around it (not this time buddy!) The climb started in earnest after and it was grueling. Some people were running, most power hiking as it was just too ineffective to try to run the incline. I was passed by a number of people, but kept my head up and kept plowing. I know that uphill is always a grind for me and knew we had downhill this year to make up some time. I ran wherever I could find a breath and hiked those brutal portions inbetween. Sure enough, I started passing those people who had passed me earlier on the hill as they burnt out. There was a tough mix of terrain on this climb with loose rocks at the start, some wooden stairs, and varying levels of incline. At the top I could really feel that I had done a douzy, my legs were tired and feelin a bit sloppy as I had a couple missteps, but the flats and downhills gave my muscles the chance to recoup and then it was time to fly! I knew the worse was over and all I kept thinking was that this was it! This was the race! I had to give it my all. There was no other option. I two footed jumped down some drops to cut time, clung and swung around trees to keep stabilized, splashed through mud puddles, leap like a billy goat from rock to rock or plank to plank and played back and forth with some fellow runners, but had a steady stream of passing them in the last half. It was mostly men as I had passed the two girls that were immediately infront of me on the climb. However, I did catch two more after some fast feet after the climb. I knew then that there couldn’t be that many girls left infront of me. It’s always a challenge trying to decided whether its more effective to coast of someone else’s pace, follow their steps and avoid their missteps or to make the pass and take the risk of finding your own speed and step. This race wasn’t one to hang back though, I had to dive in head first. By the time we finally reached the water station.. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed like it was about 10km into the 11.8km race!! I had decided not to bring my handheld and was happy with my choice as I definitely needed both hands to run that race and stay on my feet, but it was sure hard running that hard in the crazy heat without water. People were getting heat stroke and exhaustion by the end of the race. But we did it! The last bit of the race both flew and dragged by! It was almost all downhill or flat with some climbs here and there, but wow technical!! I can’t believe I didn’t fall! Hahahah! I passed Eric, our junior male from Nationals last year on the last few km and was told that there was 2 women ahead of me by some of the volunteers so I knew that I had to at least hold my position if I wanted to make the National Team. I burned it out and really had to push myself up the last gravel road hill to the finish line.. running that hill was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. I remember looking up at it and just wanting to walk it SO badly. But NAY! What goes down must go up? Maybe it’s the other way around, but that didn’t apply in this case so I opted to believe my statement. Hahah! Well more like I knew the finish was right there! I could hear the crowd and knew the route from when I surveyed backwards the day before. After making it up the hill it was a grassy finish into the Red Bull arch and I ran like I was the Gingerbread Man! I found that little bit left in me and gave her coming through as fast as I could.
WOOOOOOW!!! Hearing them announce that I was the third woman and instantly getting a medal around my neck, water, gaterade and orange slices rocked, but the best part was seeing the friendly faces! Pat had finished just before me (to whom I have to give crazy kudos to!! He ran with a broken hand and claimed several battle wounds rolling down before he’d just back up and keep running) and Sarah came right up to me and introduced herself and was full of congrats! Sooooo nice! I was slightly overheated and overworked so I downed about 5 cups of gaterade and chatted for a few mins before running to the bathroom to have a cold shower in the sink to bring my temp down. Toooooo hawt out there! But it was incredible!! Was it ever a rewarding run and course! It was so challenging that to beat it truly gave you the freedom of flying. And in case you are wondering.. I had mentioned in my interview with the Canadian Mountain Running Association that sometimes I run like an airplane when I am going down hill and no one is watching.. I snuck one in there! Hahahahahhahah!!! I HAD TO! I waited til I coun’t hear any breathing behind me or footfalls and let those arms fly out to the side.. NEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOORRRRRMMMM! Hahahha Oh man. Don’t worry, it was only a few seconds then it was back to game face.

The National team looks like its going to be super strong and amazing this year! It’s super funny with us ladies because we all look identical. According to Tiffaney, she said that she “never knew what a runners build was, but now she does and we all have it.” All small, lean blondes! The talented Meggan Franks took first and Sarah Bergeron-Larouche took second and me 3rd! On the men’s side, David le Porho took 1st this year, Jeff Gooselin 2nd, with Kris Swanson coming 3rd (running on a pulled hamstring that he couldn’t walk on a day before), Calum Neff 4th and Alister Gardner 5th. Introducing the 2013 team Canada! :)  

Post race: Did a nice cool down with the ladies and got to learn a bit more about both Sarah and Meggan! They are both such amazing girls and I can’t wait to spend more time with them! A bunch of us including Kris, Adrian Lambert, Pat, Penny, David, Sarah and a bunch others reveled in the day post race with the great meal, awards and general feeling of cloud 9, minus all the ice packs and gauze! Hahahah It was so much fun and they brought over bottles of champagne, which the boys popped! There’s something so amazing about the quality of the mountain and train running communities! Everyone is just maybe of a different breed or maybe just amazing, but everyone is so friendly and just genuine! It’s the most uplifting experience to be around so many like-minded people! We might all be crazy, reveling in the burn and pain but I like to think it’s just different! I can’t wait to be with everyone again in POLAND for the World Mountain Running Championships in September.

And now, you’ve found me on the plane home after sharing a great evening with Pat and Penny (two of the most wonderful people), waking up early for a 10km run through Sutton then packing up and heading up to Brome Lake and Knowlton for some nice trail walking, exploring and lake front picnic. After that, I drove into Montreal and spent the afternoon exploring Old Montreal! Wow!! Talk about a beautiful place! I’m so happy I went and checked it out!! It is SO European and interesting. I treated myself to a frozen yogurt and enjoyed the afternoon at a leisurely pace before heading to the airport. Anyways, just wanted to say thank you so much for all of your support (I’m absolutely blown away by it all! It’s the fuel that drives me. Love and happiness is what makes the world go around (corny as it may sound, but it’s true).

Talk soon and keep those smiles on! Xo