Category Archives: Running

My Rec and Play

There is still good skiing to be had up at Whistler, but I’ve fully transitioned myself into summer recreation mode. The cherry blossoms are out in Vancouver and the nice weather has arrived.

Last weekend I bought myself a new bike and have started biking to work again. My old road bike just wasn’t up to the challenge of a 14 km commute with heavy saddle packs – I was getting flat tires on a weekly basis. Now I own a sturdy, steel KHS commuter bike. I did a fair bit of shopping around before I decided on a bike. I wanted something sturdy and reasonably fast, but not too expensive so I didn’t have to worry about it being stolen. Last week I biked to work 3 days and my new bike rides well. It was only $600, so some of the component are cheaper and heavier. I haven’t noticed the extra weight, but the front dérailleur has been a bit sticky and caused my chain to fall off once.

Ultimate Frisbee practises have started and the season begins in 2 weeks. I still need to buy new cleats and get myself back into shape. I’m looking forward to this year’s season. I’m only playing on one team (Mystery Cheese) because getting to the games (especially the ones at UBC) will be a lot harder from West Vancouver.

I’ve started running sporadically. Compared to year’s previous, our running group has been really dysfunctional. I think we’ve gotten together for Sunday runs 3 times this year. I blame it on the fact that Dan and I have moved out of downtown. Now we’re scattered around Vancouver and haven’t found a good place to meet – and we all seem to be lot busier. On Sunday I had my first race of the year, and was very unprepared. To make up for my undisciplined running, I did run to work once last week. It took my 1:20 to run the 14 km and I enjoyed the route – I’m thinking of making running to work a routine this summer.

My one run to work wasn’t enough to get me a good time in the Vancouver Sun Run 10km. None of us on Team HUG recorded stellar times, except for Dylan who was phenomenal. He shaved over 3 minutes off his time from last year and beat me by 1 second! 1 second! I ran the 10 km in 43:58. I’m sure I could have pushed myself a little harder if I knew he was breathing down my neck. Good job, Dylan. And good luck next year, you’re going down.

I almost didn’t run the race. I had a rude awakening at 5 am on Saturday morning when shooting pains on the right side of my neck interrupted my sleep. I managed to find a nearby message therapist who loosened up the muscles a bit and I spent most of the Saturday with a hot water bottle on my neck and trying to stretch out the muscles on the right side of my neck. Sunday morning was a bit better and I decided to run the race. Today I’m almost back to normal, with only a bit of tightness.


FrazzledI hate being unprepared, especially for big events or trips. I like having everything planned out, being ready for any possibility, and knowing exactly what to expect. Or that’s how things used to be. When I was a kid, I remember planning out family road trips – I would sit in the family room with a collection of maps spread out in front of me and calculate how far we could drive each day, the optimal places to stop to sleep, and any attractions along the route. Even once the van was rolling along the highway, I would chart our progress and determine how far we were to the next destination. I was obviously a nerdy child, but there’s something comforting about knowing where you’re going and what to expect.

Lately, I never seem fully prepared for anything – I’m always “winging it” knowing that I can usually figure things out as I go. I’m not sure what has changed. Partly, it’s an attempt to be more spontaneous, but I’ve never felt entirely comfortable with the idea. There’s always this anxiety that I’m forgetting something or missing out because I don’t know what else is possible. The other part is the knowledge that I can usually figure things out on the fly. With a cellphone and a credit card you can go anywhere and do anything with zero planning or coordination. It’s liberating, but it’s made me complacent, and I’ve been burnt a few times lately.

A few weeks ago, I drove to North Vancouver to buy my mother’s birthday present. When I got to where the store should have been, I couldn’t find it. I had looked at Google Maps before I left, but I hadn’t written down the address or phone number of the store. I didn’t even know its name. I just knew it was a First Nations art store looked somewhere on 3rd. After an hour of searching for a poorly labelled office building, I gave up and had to come back the next day with an address and phone number written down this time.

And now this morning, I really screwed up. I’m supposed to be running the half marathon, but I realized at 9:30 last night (2 1/2 hours too late to do anything), as I was getting my running gear ready that I hadn’t picked up my race package. I have no bib or timing chip. The thought never even crossed my mind. I tried everything last night to get my package. I even got up this morning with the intention of going down to the starting area at BC Place and trying find my package, even though the website says “no race day pickup under any circumstances”. Instead I woke up at 5 am to write this sob story.

Hopefully, I can learn from this experience. I fly to San Francisco tomorrow morning for JavaOne, and I haven’t printed out my flight itinerary yet (I can’t remember the last time I did), I don’t know what time I need to leave to get to the airport on time, I only have $25 in American money that I found in my bedroom, and I don’t know what JavaOne sessions I planned on attending. I really should get that ready today.

Happy Belated Earth Day

I hope everyone did something earth-friendly.

I attended a presentation by the executive director of Green Table – an amazing organization in Vancouver that has started to green the food services industry. They help restaurants connect to local food producers, reduce their electricity and water usage, and divert waste from landfills. They’ve only been around for 2 years, but the results they’ve had are pretty phenomenal. It was really interesting hearing their founder, André LaRivière, talk about the restaurant industry – how nothing is recycled (except maybe cardboard), how most ingredients are shipped from across the continent via big distributors like Sysco, and how restaurants are the most energy intensive businesses with their stoves, fridges, lights, and air filtration systems. There’s lots of room for improvement, and most of the time it’s easily accomplished by making restaurateurs aware of the options. In addition to their work with individual restaurants, they’re also working with the Granville Island food court to get a centralized plate deposit system worked out so that the kiosks could sell food on real dishes that could be washed and reused, instead of disposable takeout containers. That alone would prevent the creation of tons of garbage. The talk was very inspiring.

For dinner, Emily and I prepared (no cooking involved) Kale Wraps, which were chalk full of raw, stress-reducing, alkaline-forming, organic ingredients. I’ve started to get food ideas from the Thrive Diet – a diet developed by Vancouverite, Ironman triathalete, and vegan Brendan Brazier. My parents introduced me to it, and I’m liking it so far. It involves a lot of whole foods and is designed for endurance athletes, although he claims it will help anyone because the food is designed to help your body heal and reduce food stress. My favourite recipe so far is the sunflower seed beet pizza, which is surprisingly yummy (even though it’s missing the conventional pizza ingredients like dough, cheese, and tomato sauce).

I’ve always been a big fan of smoothies, and the Thrive Diet takes them to a new level. I made an energy smoothy before the Sun Run last weekend and it did give me lots of energy. However, I was a bit over-zealous and drank way too much. At km 7 half of it started to bubble its way up. I kept it down until the finish line, even though it was all I could think of for the last kilometre. As soon as I hit the finish line and my body stopped moving, I promptly threw up. Luckily for the 43624 runners who came after me, I did most of my spewing off the side and out of the main walking path.

The run itself was really good. The snow stayed away and the sun was glorious, but it was a bit nipply especially at the beginning. It was amazing seeing so many people lined up to start a road race. It took so long to get everyone going that half of the 59,179 registered runners (only 44168 finished) hadn’t even started their run yet when I was finishing. I managed to run 10km in 40:58, which was 2 seconds faster then my goal, but a minute slower then my PB. Because there were so many people, it took 3 km before I cleared the crowds and felt like I could run without constantly dodging people, so that slowed me down a bit (and of course the extra smoothy).

Photo from BigA888. Some more Sun Run photos: Aerial View and Start Line

I also joined the The Big Wild, a joint initiative by CPAWS and MEC to protect wild space in Canada. Check it out and add your name to the cause.

Lastly, some good environmental reading for you:
Why Bother? by Michael Pollen
Alberta town moves to ban polystyrene
Calgary rolling out plan for cyclists
Anti-car petition
Beef is out; wheat is in: farmers

Going the Distance, Going for Speed

This morning I ran my first Half Marathon. It was quite an experience. Right now the runner’s high is starting to ease up and the muscle fatigue is setting in, but I’m still really happy with how I ran.

The route for reference.

5:00 am – My alarm goes off and I’m tempted to go back to bed. But I roll out of bed, make a strawberry and açaí smoothie, eat a small piece of bread, anad get my gear together.

5:30 – The taxi calls to let me know he’s here. Since the race starts at UBC at 7 am, biking and public transit are out of the question, so I have to resort to a $20 cab ride. I emailed Translink to complain that they don’t run special service for events like the half marathon. 4 thousand runners had to get to UBC somehow this morning, and having everyone drive is just dumb.

5:45 – I arrive at UBC a bit earlier than I wanted. It’s drizzling and all the buildings are closed, so I find a dry spot next to the book store and camp out with some other early bird runners.

6:15 – I stash my bag in a quiet alleyway and do a 10 minute warm up jog, stretch, and loosen up.

6:40 – I’m in a 200 person line up of frantic runners who are all trying to check their bags so they have dry clothes at the finish line. The line is moving quickly and everyone is chatting. The lady in front of me is asking if its ok to eat a power gel that expired. The helpful man behind me asks when it expired. The response – about a year ago. He suggests its best to avoid it. She then reveals she’s running in a new pair of runners she just bought yesterday, and he suggests she might as well eat the power gel.

6:50 – Bag check has turned into a free for all. The one table of volunteers trying to staple tags to people’s bags couldn’t keep up so everyone is just chucking their gear on buses and hoping it arrives at the finish line. I rip off my track pants, toss my long sleeve shirt in my bag, slather Vaseline on my nipples and in my armpits (don’t want any nasty chaffing), and toss my bag on a bus.

7:00 – The gun goes off. I’m somewhere near the middle of the pack. It takes a full minute before I reach the start line. The rain has let up and the weather is looking nicer.

2 KM mark – I spent the last 10 minutes slowly passing hordes of runners and now I’m in a comfortable spot where I can spend most of my time running forward instead of weaving in and out of runners.

4 KM mark – There’s an awesome band playing music. The lead singer is cracking jokes in between songs. “I’m not sure if you noticed, but you’re all numbered. Didn’t you realize you are supposed to be in order. I think you should regroup and fix that.” “How many people bought new shoes yesterday? How’s that going for you?” “Any single guys want to leave their numbers with me when they run by? I want to date an athletic type.”

7 KM mark – Chugging along. I find a group of guys who are aiming for 1:30. That sounds like a good time to me, so I stick with them. They seem to be going a bit fast, but I decide to give’r: 1:30 or bust.

9 KM mark – Extreme downhills. Most of the course is a gentle drop, but the next 2 KM are pretty severe. I let gravity take over and fly down the hill.

10 KM mark – Normally I’d be done by now, but I’m not even half done. I’m feeling good, but slightly worried I ran the downhill a bit too fast. I grab some Gatoraide and keep running.

Wet T-Shirt Finish11 KM mark – The heavens oven up and it starts to pour. I’m drenched pretty quickly, but trudge on.

13 KM mark – I’ve hit the wall. The lactic acid burn is hitting my legs, I’m feeling tired, the rain is slowing me down, and the course is sloping upwards now.

14 KM mark – I run through the wall. Nothing keeps me down for long. I found a girl who’s running the pace I want, so I drop in behind her. There are no pace bunnies and I forgot my watch. I’m not sure what time she’s aiming for, but she has a really cute bottom (no bunny tail sadly) and I think following her for a few kilometres will lift my spirits.

15 KM mark – I’m a leading contender in the half marathon wet t-shirt contest. The vaseline has all but washed away, but my white, cotton t-shirt is firmly glued to my skin and isn’t moving anywhere. No need to worry about nipple chaffing. Need to worry about nipples poking through my shirt.

They’re giving away power gels at the 15 km station. Curious, I grab one. I rip the top off with my teeth, and go to squeeze out the contents, but nothing happens. I squeeze harder and sticky yellow stuff squirts all over my hand. I lick some off (it’s kind of nasty) and let the rain wash the rest away (yep, still pouring).

16 KM mark – I’m skipping water stations. I can just keep my mouth open for a few seconds. If there’s a towel station I might stop. I’ve been ringing my t-shirt out every few minutes, but it doesn’t do much good. The constant ringing and the weight of the water has ripped my bib number from one of the pins.

17 KM mark – I can see the finish line, but English Bay is in my way, so I’ll have to run around. Fancy that, I find someone I know. I catch up to Scott and run with him. I left my pace bunny’s behind a while ago, so I need company.

18 KM mark – Last hill – the Burrard Bridge. After the race someone commented that running up the Burrard bridge felt like a salmon swimming up stream, with all the water flowing toward you. I’m feeling really good at this point and start to lose Scott on the uphill.

19 KM mark – Almost done. I pick up the pace further, sensing the finish line. Only 2 pins holding my bib number to my transparent t-shirt.

20 KM mark – The famous Porter Kick takes over and I start to sprint the last kilometre.

Finish Line – 1:33:07.3. Pretty good. I almost made the first page of results (note: they’re sorted by gun time, so my time is actually faster than the last ten entries). I didn’t break 1:30, but not still pretty good for my first half marathon. 18/95 in my age category. Official Results

After the race I was exhausted. I quickly removed all my wet clothes (underwear too) and put on dry clothes. If you get into the porta-potties early they’re relatively clean, dry, and stink-free.

The bag pickup area was chaotic and most of the bags were sitting in a puddle, but luckily mine was near the front and sitting on top of someone else’s bag. I packed a recovery drink (with dates, hemp oil, dulse flakes, honey, and lemon juice) that my mother recommended and it did wonders to restore my energy. Now to relax and enjoy the rest of the day (which has suddenly become sunny – good timing).