Saturday, 15 February 2014

Day 6 (TCC2014): Victory Loop

Can you believe it?! It's already Day 6: the last day!! Whaaaaaaa?! How did that happen? Our bodies feel like they beg to differ as we feel great aside from a little bit of chaffing on my back, itchy bug bites and a rash that won't quit! Joel's blister bandages have held up nicely and are healing... how does running more in wet shoes heal blisters? It must be one of the jungle mysteries of Costa Rica. Anyways, we started the morning off like any other morning, except for one amazing aspect... WE DIDN'T NEED TO TAKE DOWN OUR TENT AND REPACK OUR GEAR!! BOOOOOOOYA! Who would have thought victory would taste so sweet?! Hahahah. We put on our Canadian Uniforms with sponsors on the back.. Nothing like showing off our colours and sponsors: Nutrition House Robson Street, Kintec and North Shore Athletics. We also zip-tied our mini Canadian flags to our camelback to add even more patriotism! Furthermore, we even packed a full size Canadian flag to fly as we ran through the finish line. We are from Canada, eh?
Starting view

The race started on the beautiful beach at Drake Bay, which also happened to be the finish line as we were to complete a 24km loop as our final victory loop. The sun broke and the runners were off! We were only running along the beach for a short amount of time before we headed off onto a gravel road. This road was questionable.. and then something magic happened.. We were transported into the Jungle Book. Mogulie and Baloo would have been proud!! Within 100m we splashed into a river which we then ran upstream for a few kilometres. This is when things got WILD! NOOOW we were talking!!

This was our first time running ankle to knee deep continuously in rivers. It was amazing!!! Splish, splash, pass!!! We had some fine speed here and then turned off into a single track jungle trail. We did a little climbing through this dense jungle trail and our ears heard something.. soothing! Is that a sound machine? NO! It's real!! It was the sounds of a gorgeous waterfall that we had been told about in the prerace chat. We were stunned by its beauty and excited about being able to cross under it. There were volunteers helping runners cross and guide them with a rope to prevent people from being carried away or slipping on rocks.

After crossing the river, there was a long steep section of hill that was to be the hardest section of the race course today. Shanny pulled up her big girl pants and carried herself up it following Joel's Canada flag streaming out behind him. Taaadaaaa! Good job legs!

Then it was time for a bit more road that we weren't as excited for and once again this was a challenging section for Joel. We'll have to take turns swapping legs.. he can do my hills and I can do his road. Lol! After pulling up his big boy pants he carried himself through the road section and we dove into a nice river to cool off. Ahhhhhhhh!

We knew we had a good time and prevailed to make the descent with the beach in sight. Therefore, knowing the end was near we pushed on and got pushed back once we made it to the beach by some loose sand that had every desire to steal our shoes.. probably cuz they are awesome. It was a struggle, but it was intermixed with single trail so that made it fun on the spots we could run as this single track was very similar to what we run back at home in Vancouver. All together the course was extremely runnable and awesome!!!

Finish line in sight we took out the Canadian flag and prepared to fly it high as we pounded through the finish line, completing the most physically and mentally challenging, exciting and adventurous  thing we have ever done!!! I don't know what was a better feeling.. stepping over that line knowing we had done it together and won, or hearing those three magic words, "I love you," that every girl is dying to hear for the first time as we hugged in the ocean right after crossing the finish line! To be honest.. probably the "I love you," but it made it even that much sweeter knowing what we had just done together- winning a race that pushed us to our limits and having the biggest experience of our lives. Apparently Joel had been waiting for months to tell me this on this particular day! What a romantic man  I have!!! After lots of happy tears and "I love you's" back, we were awarded with our finisher medals and got the complete sense of victory!

We won the race with a time of 21hrs and ran over 150km!! We not only won our categories, male and female, but became the FIRST COUPLE ever to win the Coastal Challenge Adventure Category. Now that's one amazing COUPLE OF RUNNERS!! hahaha (that's our name for promoting healthy active lifestyles and one of the logo's on our shirts) We were awarded an original handcrafted Boruca mask as a trophy!! It is incredible!!!

We are so thankful for this opportunity to run this race and do the hardest, most mentally and physically challenging thing we have ever done. It was a great adventure and we are so grateful to all the wonderful staff, volunteers, runners, kitchen staff and everyone else involved that made it such a special experience. Everyone was so nice and generous and passionate about what they are doing.
Boruca Masks

We are pleased to announce that raised around $3500 for the BC Cancer Foundation in honour of Joel's mom, who is happily in remission after fighting through colon cancer. She was our inspiration, but we also did this for so many others that are close to us that are fighting the same battle and those that we don't know. We are still accepting donations through the BC Cancer Foundation at our campaign site: Running 4 a Cause. (100% non profit as always)

Thanks so much and we miss you all already!!

Love and happy feet,

Shanny and Joel

Us with the amazing Kitchen and nutrition staff!!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Day 5 (TCC 2014): I'm on a boat, yeaaaah!

Day 5 started a bit earlier than normal as we had a pretty cool transport to our race start... We hopped on a bus around 5:00am to be dropped off at a riverside that looked promisingly full of gators.. It was muddy, branches floated by and it snaked by with a dangerous look is its eye.. or ripples. Beeeeeeh!

Looking forward we saw a rinky dink barge that was supposed to be carrying us across.. we had heard there was a boat to take us to the next race start.. and I guess there was.. the minuscule little blue boat that was powered by possible a 15 horse power engine that a local was sitting on.. yes folks, this was the engine for the barge. We had to maneuver across this river filled with small islands of grass, miscellaneous debris and who knows what else. The little engine that could!

By some stroke of luck, we made it across the river uneaten and unscathed. We then took a little 100m stroll to the race starting line to an uphill start up a gravel road. The count down started and the race began! Joel and I sported our, "Running 4 Those Who Can't" headbands we wore to support one of our running friends, Raul Vasquez from Hollywood, CA. We took it to heart and began uphill relentlessly. Power hiking those parts too steep to walk to preserve energy with the others and running the flatter sections. I don't know how it is hot at 6am in the morning, but it already is!

We knew there was a long gravel road section, but it felt longer than we thought. We started out very strong, but after what felt like ages, Joel started to feel the angst of running on the dirt road. His adhd kicked in.. lol kidding! aka he got bored and frustrated and uninspired to continue. So he had a little chit chat with himself and had to remind himself why we were here: for his mama. Relieved by an aid station which was 16km in (the longest we had ever ran without an aid station) and new determination continue he bounced back and continued on. Fortunately, the road morphed into something we like a little more.. shade, forest and single track. Yes to all three please!

This is where we zoom-zoomed faster than a humming bird on Red Bull. Whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssss! (That's the sound of us flying) It was a challenging section with some hills that seemed to be relentless. It was like the Energizer Bunny.. it kept going and going.. but it wasn't even the long distance that was too bad, it was mostly the grade. The steepness caused tons of muscle burning and a little voice in your head to chirp in and say.. let's just take a break! But we knew we wanted to do our best and being lazy wasn't an option. We thought that if WE were having a hard time on these, then the others might be havin an even harder time, meaning we could use it to our advantage to power up them.

Finally we made the summit and began to descend. Hitting another aid station we discovered there was even less distance than we had been told to the next aid station (and end of the race for us!!) Filled with spirit and hope we took flight at a new cracking pace! Splashing through mud puddles, running beside mangroves, being hit in the face with palm leaves and banana trees we began to pass other runners with fierce determination.. and cheers and laughs in other words! Yeeeehaw!

The trail opened up into a open meadow with one of the tallest trees we have ever seen and a burning heat that soon began to overheat us. It stole our momentum for a while as running into the heat was like running into a brick wall. A few km later, our bodies adjusted and we met two volunteers from an upcoming aid station that told us there was only 500m left until the end of the race for us!!

Crack the champagne!! Cue the confetti! Release the doves!

Hahaha, okay, maybe they didn't have those, but they did have water and fruit and happy smiles as they cheered us into the aid station! We finished 1st again with a time we were proud of and only one fall by Shannon! That was the first and only fall of the race for us! Greivin and Nayib took amazing care of us again and put up with us being stranded there for several hours.. 4 hours to be exact.

4 hours, you ask? They sent a shuttle after about 2 and a half hours to come and get us (us being Joel and I and other Adventure Category runners who finished after us).. that was driven by an over enthusiastic driver who went off an embankment and got the SUV stuck. Fail.

Eventually, After Luciano, Greivin and Nayib spent an hour or two trying to get reception by walkin up the road and texted(as they couldn't even call due to the poor reception) repeatedly to organizers to get a car there for us. Why didn't the organizers already have a car there for us as they KNEW this was the end of the race for adventure racers.. Anyways, After so many hours, Greivin offered to take us back in the back of his pickup truck.. which had previously said no to due to safety measures. He saw how agitated and uncomfortable we were getting and felt so bad that he was going to push him self out of his comfort zone to help us, but luckily two trucks came to shuttle us just as we had got into the back of the truck and thank goodness they did!! The road was INSANELY DAMAGED!! There were divots in the road that could swallow a motorcycle whole, super steep sections, rickety looking bridges that our driver didnt even trust to go on and drove around through a river instead and rocks everywhere. It was the worst road I have ever seen.

Lady luck was with us and we made it safely back to camp. If we had known it was going to be a 4 hours and more wait with the ride in (about 5 hours total) we would have just walked the 16km back to camp as all the other Expedition runners that we had cheered on were already back at camp and fed by the time we got in. This was a major fail on the organizers part. I have a diaper rash. Yes. That's what happens when they leave sweaty, wet runners to wait in soggy gear to get picked up in. One girl even had to get stitches on her hand at the aid station after falling on course. She also had to wait the same amount of time as us to get back to camp. We were very disappointed as were the other Adventure racers as we felt we have been cast aside and forgotten. That amount of time for a wait is completely unacceptable and unsafe. By this point, it was 3 in the afternoon, the last real meal we had was breakfast at 4am and we just ran 32km. Not cool.

Anyways, we survived and set up  camp at Drake Bay that was a very nice place to stay. There was lots of showers and toilets, a nice grassy field to pitch our tents on and beautiful beach below. Off to the beach, we went of to stretch and roll and forget about what happened. We felt confident with our race times and were looking forward to the next and final day of the race! We were happy again and ready to enjoy ourselves the next day!

Shanny and Joel

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Day 4 (TCC2014): Jungle Fever

Jungle Shanny
In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the runners sweat todaaaaaay!! Hahaha, well this day was sure in the jungle for us! To continue our super powers we wore our superhero shirts again.. dont worry, we washed them!! Morning started like every other morning.. we smelt beans and rice and eggs.. THE staple diet here. Beans and rice will haunt our dreams i think. lol. Today we were to all bus out to the start line so we hopped onto the crammed shuttle.. which obviously didn't have enough room for everyone because who would have organized transportation for all the runners? That's crazy. lol. Joel and a few other runners had to either stand in the middle row or sit on the floor of the bus. Safety first folks! Remember to hold on tight! After making it to the start, we busted down a dirt road right off the highway and took a decent placing. We knew we would have a while of flatter dirt road before we hit the hill that we were looking forward to as we had discovered hills are a great strength of ours. Our plan was to warm up and then destroy the hill before taking a step off the gas as we would have made gains on the other runners with our hill climbing awesomeness. Oh yea.. we also managed to pull of some uphill Ninja kicks!! Hiiiiya!!!

Misty Sunbeams featuring Spiderman (aka. Joel)
The hill came and it was even more jungle that we thought!! I think the locals had cleared the path with machetes the day before!! There were vines grabbing at your feet and branches hitting you. I think i got slapped in the face by at least 10 palm tree leaves, but that's pretty cool- or at least better than being slapped by cacti! We cracked a fast pace up the mountain side and held ranks with some of the stronger Expedition runners. I got stung climbing over a log that seemed to be a hot spot as a lot of others reported getting stung there too!! Luckily the run was a lot in the shade covered by the jungle, but once we hit the summit we were back on the gravel road.

Shanny's alter ego: Superman! with my Flower Power!
It could have been a lot worse, but since it was so early still there was a morning mist in the air that kept it cooler and refreshing (aka.. not suffocatingly hot!) lol The road undulated giving us lots of time to use our different leg muscles and we threw our plan of slowing down to the panthers as we motored our canadian bums as fast as we could across the mountain ridge. It was hot, fast and steep in some places but we persevered and kept our speed! This was the only day that we had a large group of us running together. There was about 6 of us that stuck closer together. It made the time go by a lot faster to be chatting and encouraging each other on. We were able to help one of our fellow runners by giving him some of my sunscreen and joel's hat as we knew he would be running for hours longer than us as he was in the longer race.

Spiderman, Spiderman! 
A couple cows later.. Shannon moo-ed and they all came running up to the fence to get fed.. feeling guilty, we picked up the pace and ran away so they wouldn't be angry at us for teasing them. Mooooooooooo!  (okay.. maybe Shannon was the only one moo-ing. :P)

Before we knew it we were at the end of our race, kicking butt as we flew into the finish line with our first place finish! Hurrraaaah! 20km done! As we waited for others to finish, we cheered the Expedition runners in and chatted to the aid station volunteers. The lovely Italian lady who came in shortly after us announced that she had just seen a big black animal on the corner we had just made minutes earlier... according the the local volunteers it could have been a panther. :S and NOT the Pink Panther like one of the other runners was joking about.

Superheroes and Mark lovin the hill
About and hour and a half later, we got shuttled off the mountain with Tim to the finish line of the Expedition to catch another shuttle that some of those runners had already been waiting an hour and a half for. Good thing runners have mental strength to be patient. Lol. Joel.. maybe not. But better than before! Tehehehe.

Gravel Road Ridge Running
Finally, we made it to our campsite at the Sierpe river. It wasn't the finest place to stay.. the river looked like it was full of crocodiles, there wasnt enough toilets or showers for the runners and half the time they weren't working. BUT there was cold beer and pizza for those who wanted it! We settled in for another night to prepare for our next day, running to Drake Bay- what was to be our second longest day of the race. We knew we had to prep for this day as it was going to be a lot.

Day 5 to come,
Shanny and Joel, a Couple of Runners

Joel's Frosty beer! 

Monday, 10 February 2014

Day 3 (TCC2014): Sandy Super Heroes

Super Heroes!
As 3:45am came by to us lying in the tent on our sleeping mats we smiled to ourselves as we lay in bed happily not having to rush to get up right away like the Expedition runners, who had to start at daybreak again while we got to start at 9am as announced the night before. We slowly started moving and soon discovered that breakfast would be put away soon after the Expedition runners left so we had better eat while it was still available around 5:30am. We then went to the foot doctor, Pete, a highly entertaining Northern Irish doctor to get all bandaged up for the day. Joel got his feet taped up and Shannon went to get her back wrapped up to prevent more damage from chaffing. Joel went back to the tent to be shocked with the surprise that the trucks were going to be leaving with all of our gear that was supposed to be transported to the next campsite in a few minutes.. meanwhile all of our stuff was fully scattered around our set up tent! GAAAAAH!! Talk about a shock! What was supposed to be a nice relaxed morning turned into a gong show within a few minutes! He moved with the speed of Spiderman though and as I walked back into the campground with my dressings complete it was almost all packed up and ready to go! Phewf.

From the campsite, the bus took us to the start of our race at the beach a few kilometres away. We had our Superhero shirts on and felt like we were ready to take on the world.. and then we realized we didn't have our chip timers because they were on our other shoes!!! GAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!! How were they supposed to get our time without our timers?! Luckily, one of the staff members hooked us up with new ones and we prepared to race at the beach front. This was the first time we had been able to start with just the Adventure racers, so it was interesting to learn who we were competing against. It was a bit confusing because there were some runners who had dropped down to the Adventure distance after attempting the Expedition runners. These runners were not able to qualify to win a medal in our race so they weren't our competition, but were great runners so it was good to be pushed by them. We started off strong on the beautiful beach.

Pura Vida: Costa Rica
The sand was a lot easier to run on that we had originally thought after discovering that closer to the water edge it was hard packed and provided good traction. We took off with a cracking pace and soon left the others in our dust.. maybe the super hero shirts had something to do with it.. or maybe we do have super powers..

Go Superman Go!
Tom, who was previously in the Expedition race, but had dropped the day before, soon caught up to us and pushed us to run harder. He was sticking in a straight line right on the waters edge while we tried to meander a bit to find better sand to run on as it had begun to sink with each step. Talk about running backwards. The beach kept going and going and going and going... and then going some more. We looked over at Tom and he looked over at us as we tried to figure out if we had missed a turn. Regardless, we continued on in hopes we would find a pink flag at the end of the beach and sure enough.. there it was!! Right by a beautiful cool pool to cool down in! Ahhhhhhhhh! We jumped right in and prepared to kick some butt on the hill we knew was coming. We got a bit too excited and didn't look around for the flagging; instead, we just started tearing up the creek. It was amazing climbing over these small waterfalls, slippery rocks and surrounding jungle. Now this was the type of jungle adventure we had signed up for... until we realized there wasn't any markers.. and the bush started closing in on us.. wait.. where were we? It might have been the Spiderman shirt, but Joel's "Spidey-senses" told him that this wasn't right and we needed to turn back.

Going down wasn't as much fun as going up... especially when we made it to the bottom to see all the people we had passed going up the correct trail. Doh! This didn't stop these superheroes though. We blew by the girls on the hill as Joel shouted encouragement to Miss Superwoman who felt the push of the hill, but knew we had to kill it to make up time and make the win. It was incredible to see how strong our climbing skills were as we flew by the other runners. Eventually, we made it to the summit and onto the road to be greeted by an aid station.

Go Spiderman Go!
Now at this point, we thought there was only a couple km left (as we were told in the briefing that it was only a short road run) so we didn't bother to fill our camelbacks or grab anything more than a slice of watermelon each. So on the road we go and right away we spotted the last girl to pass and we closed the distance quickly and zoom zoomed by her. We both thought we were in the clear, but then saw one of the guys who had dropped down ahead of us. After a kick, we realized that we didn't need to pass him because his placement didn't affect ours so we stepped off the gas a little. By this point the sun was pretty much blistering our face and Joel looked at his watch and realized it had been more that two km and the guy ahead of us way still on the road and hadn't turned off yet... what the heck?! How long was this road???? Cars, semi trucks and crazy Tico drivers raced by as there doesn't seem to be any speed limits here. It was scary having them come right beside you.

We started to feel like we were at the ends of our ropes as the sun was waaaaay too hot and there was no escaping it on the open road. It just went on and on and we started to worry about overheating and crashing since we hadn't refuelled at the aid station and were running almost on empty for both water and calories. Finally, we looked up and saw the guy make a turn off the road onto a dirt one.. could this be our way into the park where the finish line was?? Please, please, please!

We made the turn and found some relief in a bit of shaded road and then continued on knowing the beach couldn't be more than a km away. Sure enough we made a turn and there it was: the finish line! We started running in and what do we hear?? Monkeys howling!!! I thought they must have been gorilla's because of the deep scary noise they were making!! All I could think was I'm hommme! Kidding! I'm not a gorilla.. just a monkey. A running monkey. Anyways, the race ended up being longer than the 10km we thought.. more around 13km with extra distance on the beach and road... and then the extra time we spent running up the waterfalls! Don't worry.. we survived! ;)

Joel stretching
After completing the race, we almost blew past the park ranger (it was a national park that you had to register to be in) and got in a ton of trouble as we were distracted by the sight of the most beautiful beach we had ever seen! I couldn't believe they wanted us to stop and fill out forms.. I was on the verge of over heating and just wanted to jump in the water so I could cool my body down.

Nature's drying machine

Shannon stretching
Once we made it to the beach, the sweet relief of the ocean water was amaaaazing! We splashed around for a while and then set up camp and put our clothes out to dry as it was only around 10:30am. We had all day to relax on the beach and were stoked about it! A day filled with recoup and proper stretching and rolling allowed us to really prepare for the days to come as we knew this was our easy day.

A Couple of Runners
We sat down to dinner to get a warning from one of the runners, Mike, that rain was coming and we should make sure our rain cover was on. Immediately, we jumped to it and prepared our tent for the elements, even though some runners didn't seem to think the threat of rain was real. All I can say is.. THANK GOODNESS WE DID! Soon enough the clouds began to dump buckets of rain on the campground. Now normally this would be an exaggeration, but in this case, it literally was BUCKETS of water. It was a monsoon like we had never seen before! Those runners who hadn't believed the warning soon found themselves in trouble as their tents and belongings became flood victims. Even some of those who had put rain protection on their tent had their tents collapse with the weight of the rain coming down. It was so intense that just walking to grab a bowl of stew left us completely drenched and dripping. We sat huddled under the shade tents eating our dinner and avoiding the rain making sure we stayed warm and not gettin chilled to prevent getting sick. Joel was nice enough to ease my worrying that our tent would be getting wet too and kept checking it to make sure we were in the clear.

Light bulbs exploded as the wet rain hit them inside the tent... one even blew up behind Joel and I. Pieces hit him in the head and cut my leg bit, but nothing more that a scratch thank gosh. People tried to scrape gutters into the dirt to stop the rain from pooling under everyone. It was one miserable group... except for us who made the best of it... including trying to feed a giant bug the size of humming bird stew and cake. Bon appetit! We might have gotten a few glares as we laughed our pants off, but heck, it is what it is and you have to make the best of life.

About an hour later the rain eased off and we went to bed early to get a good night's sleep for our race the next morning.
Sunset at the park

That's all for now,

Shanny and Joel

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Day 2 (TCC2014): Finding our Groove

Race Start... made it just as they said, "Go!"
At 3:30am we woke up to the alarm and thought we had lots of time to eat breakfast at 4am, pack up and get ready to run by daybreak.. but we barely had time to fill our camelbacks up as we frantically threw everything we owned into bags and tried to ignore the warning yells saying.. " RACERS.. 2 MINUTES!!!!" "RACERS!!!!! 1 MINUTE!!!" It was the absolute worst, most anxiety building scream  you could ever hear... we are getting nervous just thinking about it now! Two things that Joel and I discussed the night before about this run today was that we knew it would be much cooler temperatures to run in as we were starting almost 4 hours earlier than the day before. Secondly, there were two big climbs totalling 2000m.. now that's home territory for us. Hills, hills, hills. Right away we knew we were much stronger as we started passing more and more people.. even as I slathered on sunscreen while running.. not an easy feat.. especially trying to rub it into your running legs as they keep moving! We pushed harder and faster and continued to pass other runners as we climbed.

In our element! "Boom-Shacka-Laaa!"
At the descent of the first climb, we found our groove and felt confident and ready to tackle the second climb. This is where we met Sue, a fellow Canadian from Squamish, who also loved the jungle single track, that made the time go by quickly as we chatted. We handled the second climb just like the first, passing more people only to find out that our technical skills were even better than we thought as we zoom-zoomed past runners on a steep downhill covered with deep dried cattle prints that were the perfect size to break an ankle or twist a knee. This section was in the direct heat of the sun and was extremely hot! But that didn't stop us from doing rock jumps for the photographer as we flew down the mountain side. Once we made it to the bottom, we were beyond thrilled to see a cold river and flung ourselves into it! Happily splashing around and cooling off we took a few seconds to recoup and hug it out. Smiles intact, we continued to push on to the next aid station that we knew was only a few km away.

Joel running along one of the mountain crests
Little did we know those few km were all on painful gravel road in the exposed sunlight that were steep enough to hurt your feet as you ran down them. The road seemed never ending!! Every corner we made we expected to see the aid station that was never there. We just kept thinking to ourselves that it HAD to be coming.. finally, it appeared as we turned the last corner to our great relief! We ran in strong and made some hoops and hollers and made sure to announce that we were in the Adventure Race and therefore DONE for the day!!! HURRAY! We placed first with a time of just over 4 hours!

Shannon running in the jungle, the mighty jungle!
At this aid station, we met father and son, Greivin and Nayib, two of the most genuine kind people we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They catered to our every need.. including hosing us off with a garden hose and putting flowers in Shannon's hair. Yay! Flower Power! Throughout the race they continued to help us in any way possible and we couldn't be more grateful for their support and happiness. We also met Krista Baker, who is working the The Challenge (a triathlon held in Penticton, previously the Ironman), we hope to be able to help her out with this event this year! She is also one of the sweetest people we have met. We also connected with other runners at the aid station due to logistic errors in transportation for finishers. We ended up being at the aid station for 3 hours before we finally got a ride back to our camp for the night in Dominical, a little surf town on the coast.

Greivin placing the victory flower in Shannon's hair.
Camp wasn't the greatest as we only had two toilets and two showers for all the racers.. but there was a restaurant and gorgeous beach that made up for it. No complaints on the food as there was always lots of it and it was served by happy faces. You can tell that the food was made with love and there was real passion in what the cooks were doing. We treated ourselves to massages this night as well! $30 for a long deep tissue leg massage after running.. I'm pretty sure that's exactly what the dr ordered. boom!

Since our 3rd day was supposed to only be 10km we knew that we were starting racing at 9am, we didn't bother to pack anything the night before and went to bed thinking it would all be fine and dandy in the morning. We thought we would be able to leisurely stretch, reorganize, eat and prep for the day to come.. little did we know we were in for a surprise...
Beach in Dominical across from our campsite.

To be continued,

Shanny and Joel

Day 1 (TCC2014): A kick in the n*ts!

Hot, nasty bus of sweaty runners. 
It started with a 2:30am wake up call and take out breakfast at Denny's to eat on a sweaty, stinky, humid cramped bus for the next 2.5hrs.. AWESOME! Finally, after many pee breaks for all the super hydrated runners, we ended up in Quepos where the beginning of the 2014 Coastal Challenge Race started. We didn't know if we were going to make it to the start line as we soon discovered the massive 3rd world greyhound-type buses had to 4x4 down a tiny dirt road to where we got dropped off to walk another 2km in the blistering heat to the start line at the beach. We saw crocodiles in the water beside us  and lizards as we walked towards the start of our race.. nothing to encourage you to run faster than crocodiles, right?? No scrawny runners for dinner Mr Crocodile!

At the Start Line. Go, Couple of Runners, Go! 

Finally, we reached the start line where we passed under the inflated archways to be welcomed by a beautiful sandy white beach. Wow! We aren't in Vancouver anymore! This isn't the BCMC.. THAT's for sure!!! With the count down of 10 we were off and running. We started off with a quick pace and started passing other runners while we felt like a million bucks! Then a few kilometers pass.. then the excitement and endorphins wear off and the heat kicks in.. we both looked at each other and the look in each others face said, "WHAT THE !@#$ DID WE SIGN UP FOR?!!?!!?" "THIS SUCKS!!!!" Talk about a kick in the n*ts!

Brutal Gravel road section.. open to the blistering heat. 
After what felt like an eternity, we passed the first creek crossing to cool ourselves off.. but we were still gun shy about throwing ourselves into water we had just seen crocodiles in so we dipped our baby toes and scampered off without cooling our body temperatures down.. that we shortly came to regret a few metres later.

After 16km we eventually reached our first aid station, not knowing how far we had to run until the end of the day. So we filled our packs, ate watermelon and pineapple, got chased by a turkey from the house, got laughed at when asked for a toilet and then tried to put on more sunscreen which dripped off from all the sweat.. so we pulled up our skirts and kept going.

One of many creeks/waterholes along day one. 
Next we got off the road and onto some trail.. YES... we found a hill!! We thought to ourselves this is what we are good at!!! Then Joel started getting goosebumps and shivers (heat stroke symptoms) so HE had a talk with himself and told himself to slow down.. where we saw another heat stoke victim who told us, "Look up! There's monkeys!" Well look at that! There actually was!! He wasn't hallucinating from heat stroke! Who woulda thunk it!? So that was our first encounter with monkeys.

First and only race injury for Joel: Bye-Bye Toe Nail!
Surviving the hill, more gruelling gravel road running and creeks, we found ourselves in a pretty low spot. This race was a bit more than we bargained for. Heads down and chins down we ran in silence.. all you could  hear was the birds or giant insects.. screaming at us. Joel then spotted a perfect feather on the ground and picked it up and told himself that this was his mom looking over us. He put it behind his ear and thought about why are we here. This gave us the strength to carry on til the end with renewed energy and determination. We finished the run, which ended up being 39km long with the walk in. What a way to start the first day!!

The first camp was Rafiki Camp.. the most stunning resort/lodge that we had ever seen. They had horses, a bar, pool, waterslide, little cabins with showers and bathrooms which could use the facilities at and got to taste the first food prepared by our chefs. YUM!!!

Relaxing in the Rafiki Tiki Hut before bed. 
We climbed into our pretty Canada flag lined tent and tried to fall asleep like we just ran all day in the blistering sun.. but it sounded easier than it was. We had a hard time sleeping and knew we had a 3:30am wakeup call coming the next morning.. for a race start at 5:30 (or daybreak).

Cheers from Costa Rica,
Shanny and Joel

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Day 1: Running 4 a Cause

Shannon Penway and I's first day in Costa has been unreal. Just had our 2nd dinner, maybe our 3rd actually. Working on only 1 hr of sleep since leaving vancouver. We went for a run as soon as we got checked in, then sat by the pool to do some stretching/rolling but mostly work on my tan. And i got burnt!! Lol We then managed to grab a cab dtown San Jose to find the tattoo shop im getting work done at. Wow!! That was interesting!! Happy to announce that the shop was squeaky clean and my appointment was still in theyre books since october. We are just finishing up packing for a 3am wake up call. We r 2 hrs ahead here. Big day tomorrow!!! We r both feeling good!!!! Ciao for now!!

Sky High: here we come Costa Rica!

It's finally time!!! Time to fly!! Literally! I'm writing this from the air right now! Joel and I have been working our butts off with training and building up to this experience and now it's finally time! In just a few hours we will be arriving in Costa Rica for the run of our lives! We will be competing in #thecoastalchallenge2014 in honour of Joel's mom, Lorraine, who is now happily in remission after fighting colon cancer.

Lorraine's courage, determination, strength and positivity is truly an inspiration to us and we want to honour her by doing this run and raising money for cancer research in her name. The BC Cancer Foundation is our charity of choice and we are proud to say we have raised over $3000 already to help those who are fighting the same fight! We will be accepting donations through our campaign page called "Running 4 a Cause" all the way through our race an after. 

Here's the link to our site: 

We are both so excited for this opportunity to help others with our passion and be able to experience something truly amazing. We will be faced with 6 days and over 165km of running through the jungles of Costa Rica sooner than we know! We are just in the air flying to San Jose and about to have some more delicious fuel after we were greatly surprised at the gates by being upgraded to first class! Heck!! What a way to fly!! 

This adventure wouldn't be possible without the most important thing for us athletes: nutrition and gear! We have to thank Nutrition House Robson Street for sponsoring us endurance runners! They have provided us with the protien, greens, omegas, energy, vitamins, bars and endless other health supplements that we need to perform our best!! Thank you so much!

Another shout out to Kintec and North Shore Athletics for helping us with our gear!! New shoes and sunglasses are essential for the trail run we are about to take on! On top of this they even screened our uniforms for us!! Talk about setting us up for the race! Thank you!! 

We'll keep you posted on our trip at all the stops we can through our delorme Inreach. Look for updates on Facebook!! 

Love you all and happiest of feet to you!!

Shanny and Joel, a @coupleofrunners

Follow our running adventures and life on Instagram @runshannyrun and @allarms