Before you start reading, I’m going to ask for a comment – at the end, please tell me about your current running/sports shoe(s), and what you like/dislike about them. Alternately, what’s your favourite shoe? Thanks!

My Shoe History

Until I started writing this post, I couldn’t even remember what shoes I was wearing when I started running back in 2009. I had to dig up old photos and search through Facebook to jog my memory (see what I did there?). The best I could come up with was a picture from 2010, and I’m wearing what appear to be Asics. With no disrespect to the brand, I recall them being a bit chunky and cumbersome.

PrideRun2010

*Mileage: maybe 300km over the course of several years*

Nike LunarGlide+

Nike LunarGlide

I bought my first pair of Nikes at Kintec, a local footwear and orthotics store. My interest in running had started to take hold, and I thought it was time to make a commitment. I had bought a Nike+ sensor that synced with my iPod Nano, and until this time it had been attached to my mystery Asics via a Velcro-enabled sensor pocket (yes, I’m sure that’s what it said on the box).

At Kintec, they did a gait analysis on their in-house treadmill. It was noted that I had some pronation, and they suggested a shoe to remedy that. The recommended pair was on sale, and I took the plunge.

This early (first?) edition LunarGlide were lauded for their use of ‘Lunarlite foam’ – apparently something the astronauts use. But at the time, I had little awareness of (or, frankly, interest in) the construction of my shoes. All I knew was that there was a little Nike+ iPod sensor-shaped cutout in the sole of this amazing shoe, so I could continue tracking my runs!

I will take this opportunity to admit that the ability to track my runs via Nike+ was a huge motivation in my continuing to exercise.

I believe I bought these shoes sometime in 2010, and I have photographic evidence of them from my BMO Half in 2012. They served me well. I still have these shoes, and use them for my lunchtime runs.

*Mileage: Possibly well over 700km*

Nike LunarGlide+ 4 

Nike LunarGlide 4

When my training really miles started to increase – and when I decided that a full marathon was in the cards – it was time to get some new shoes. I purchased them on Boxing Day 2012.

Figuring it was best to stick with what I knew, I leaned on the experts at Forerunners and upgraded to the newest version of the Nike LunarGlide.

I loved these shoes instantly. First of all, the colours – black and neon green! How could you go wrong?

Secondly, they’ve got great reflectively qualities – particularly the ‘swoosh’, but also everything under the mesh is kind of shiny.

Finally, they are water resistant. The shiny bit under the mesh – apparently a ‘shield’ – has actually kept my toes dry on many occasions.

Yes – they have Lunarlon and Flywire technology, too. But I will leave these technical aspects to the experts (honestly, until I started writing this post, I had never ever heard of Lunarlon…) – I like this review.

These shoes carried me through training in 2013 and 2014…including my first marathon. And they matched my wardrobe (i.e. my neon green/yellow jacket) perfectly. They’re pretty worn out, with cracks in the sole – but they still make it into rotation from time to time.

*Mileage: Eek – might even have exceeded 1000km*

Nike Air Pegasus+ 30

nike_pegasus30_navyredpink1

Boxing Day 2013. I wanted to take advantage of the sales. They were out of size 9 1/2 but I convinced myself that a 9 was fine. I also convinced myself that I was fine with the colour – that panels of blue, red and pink ‘Gym Red, Armory Navy, Atomic Red’ suited me.  They didn’t. They went back to the store (mostly because they really didn’t fit well, but the colour might well have been a factor…)

…and I replaced them with a larger size of the same model, but this time in ‘Armory Blue’. These shoes carried me through a couple of races, but ultimately I decided the fit just wasn’t right. They were just too snug, and the toe box (is that the right phrase?) to narrow. They were subsequently ‘retired’.

Nike Pegasus 30

This disappointed me, because the Pegasus has been around for about 30 years and is reported to be an incredibly reliable shoe. Not so in my case, unfortunately.

*Mileage: Probably not more than 100km*

Mizuno Wave Rider 17 

Minuzo Wave Rider 17

The Mizuno guy came to Forerunners one day, allowing us to try out a pair in a long training run.  After completing about 20km and feeling invincible, I bought a pair. The shoes were lightweight and comfortable. They could do no wrong. And I loved the colours: ‘Barbados Cherry/Silver/Green Flash’.

Once I finished Honolulu, however, I realized that the Wave lacked the support I needed. The outside edge of my foot started to hurt, and I ended up going to physio. After recovery, I tried the shoes on again and the pain returned (it was like someone had slipped a little dull blade into the side of the sole), I gave up. These shoes were retired.

*Mileage: Maybe around 250km*

Nike Linarglide+ 6

My current shoes will get a full review in a future post. Let’s see how they perform in my next few races…

How has your shoe history been? Do you stick to favourites or switch things up? What’s your number one shoe?

murakami

I dedicate this book to all the runners I’ve encountered on the road — those I’ve passed, and those who’ve passed me. Without all of you, I never would have kept on running.

I haven’t really done much in the way of book reviews since high school, with the exception of the odd comments on Goodreads. But I figured that if I was going to read a book about running, I should write about a book about running.

That book is:

What I Talk about when I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami

Generally, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. My tendency is more towards mystery (a la Agatha Christie) and action/thriller (by folks like Clive Cussler, Ian Hamilton, Steve Berry) – really high brow stuff! But when I learned that one of Japan’s best-known authors was also a runner, I immediately put a hold on the eBook at the Vancouver Public Library.

Haruki Murakami (age 66) is a Kyoto-born author, with a quirky writing style. Some of his better known works are: Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Kafka on the Shore. I’ve actually read a collection of his short stories (after the quake) in the original Japanese. Here are my thoughts on his book about running!

What the book is about

The subtitle of this book is A Memoir. Each chapter is somewhat of a short recollection – excerpts from the ‘present’ (during the time of writing) and reflections on the ‘past’. Murakami talks about his life before becoming a writer, when he owned a jazz bar. One day, while lying on the grass watching a baseball game, he was ‘inspired’ to write a novel – dropped everything, sold the bar, and committed to his career.

This dedication is reflected in his running habit. Once he became an author, he realized that his sedentary life would make him fat, so he started running. And since then he has run every day, averaging 6 miles each day (sometimes more, sometimes less, but hitting his weekly and monthly targets). He has run multiple marathons – probably even more since this book was published in 2007 – and at least one ultramarathon.

What I liked about the book

Murakami has a very matter of fact writing style. He just tells things as he sees them. His description of himself as a non-athlete resonated with me.

He talks about gym class and sports days, and how much he hated them. He says, “I wasn’t good at the kind of sports where things are decided in a flash.” As someone who flinches when balls are thrown anywhere near my head, this makes sense to me.

Murakami goes on to discuss how the competitive aspect of sports makes him uncomfortable, saying that “…beating somebody else just doesn’t do it for me.” As such, he really doesn’t enjoy team sports – and I wholeheartedly echo this feeling. This is one of the things about running that works for both the author, and for me – our motivation comes from focusing on a time we want to beat…or doing our best trying.

Running: “It suits me”

My favourite part of this book was Murakami’s description of his Athens to Marathon run. He decided to run the ‘reverse Marathon’ on his own, just for the sake of doing it. He is accompanied by a photo crew in a van, who are documenting his adventure. He remarks that the photographer is baffled that he actually plans to run the whole thing, since most people just pose for the photo ops, but don’t really complete the course. Murakami is equally baffled: “I can’t believe people would really do things like that.” The best moment, though, is near the end of the run – in his exhaustion, the author is angry at everything: the dust on the road, the photographer in his van, and sheep eating grass at the side of the road. Such great reflections of the pain and misery nearing the finish line!

Also, napping is good!

What I didn’t like about the book

Honestly, if I hadn’t already planned to write this book review, I might not have finished reading. It’s not long – only 175 pages – but it’s a bit of a slog. I suspect that the stilted writing style is somewhat reflective of the translation. It verges on the awkward and unnatural, literal translation. But Murakami’s written word is a bit peculiar, so maybe the English version is not that far off.

And while Murakami is very dedicated to running – it’s an essential part of his everyday world, and he feels regretful when he’s not able to run – there’s a lack of enthusiasm about running. Clearly, it holds value in his life. There are a number of warm, reflective moments about people he’s encountered on his journey, to be sure. But I don’t really feel like he’s having a lot of fun along the way. Maybe that’s just the kind of guy he is – fairly solitary and introspective. Who am I to judge?

Finally, he makes things seem so easy, that things just ‘happen’. He suddenly decides to write a novel, and then he’s a writer. He determines to start running, and then he’s finishing a marathon. While there’s clearly hard work and pain involved, it happens with an almost fatalistic sense of ‘that’s how it goes’. I find that a bit difficult to identify with.

Conclusion

If you’re interested in getting a different perspective on running, this is not a bad book to read. It gave me some food for thought. If you’ve read Murakami’s works, you might find it interesting to learn more about the man himself.

The story about running Athens to Marathon is the best part – just read this chapter, and you’ll have all you need.

Before I started writing, I Googled book reviews. There are many. My favourite is by Lianne Habinek, in Open Letters Monthly – so if you want to read a solid, professional review, click here.

Did you find this review helpful? Would you like to read more book reviews? What’s your favourite book about running?

What_I_Talk_About

Sun Run gear

It was just me and 40,000 of my closest friends. That’s the joke, right, with these massive races? I know I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you hadn’t heard, the Vancouver Sun Run is the largest 10k in Canada (and 3rd in North America). It’s massive. It can be pretty overwhelming. And it’s such a lot of fun!

The Sun Run is a Vancouver institution. So much so that companies small and large register teams and usually cover entry fees for their employees (and sometime for friends and families – or, as I like to call them, ‘ringers’). I’ve never had to pay to enter the Sun Run!

The Corporate Team Challenge pits companies in the same industry against one another. If company teams have ten or more registrants, the average speed of the top ten runners decides the winner.

One of my April goals was to be in our company’s top ten.

The Training

I’ve been training fairly consistently in preparation for upcoming half marathons. The preparation for the Sun Run was part of that. However, I don’t consistently hardly ever do speed work. It’s not that I don’t recognize its value. It’s just that I’m not as motivated as I should be. Long slow runs? No problem! Quick lunchtime runs? In the bag! But speed work is the missing link. I learned that today.

The Morning

I had prepped my gear the night before. The weather report called for sun – and delivered! Bright and clear with just a hint of chill in the air. Headed to the start line about an hour early, with enough time for a potty break. I was able to discard my throwaway hoodie (to be donated) well before the race began.

Start Line pose

I was in the Yellow corral – the first one behind the wheelchair and elite corrals. I wanted to get ahead of as much of the pack as possible! It was good energy – with about a dozen giant beach balls being tossed around by the crowd. Eventually, though – and after being hit in the head about 5 times – it got a little old. The kids loved it, but I wasn’t the only one who tired of it pretty quickly!

I spoke briefly to a colleague and his wife (who I knew were fast runners), and saw a couple of our distinctive branded shirts in the crowd. Our company provided technical t-shirts to all runners, which was pretty awesome!

About 5 minutes after the elites headed out, we were off funneled into a narrow channel to shuffle across the start line.

The Course

I’m familiar with the course – the Sun Run was my first race ever, and this is my fifth time running it. It’s a quick 1km downhill, a few tight corners and then along the edge of Stanley Park. Once you hit English Bay, there are bands or DJs every kilometre or so (including a choral group performing an admirable rendition of Madonna’s Like a Prayer!)

A short, steep hill just before 5k (familiar, since it’s a block from home), followed by good old Burrard Bridge.

Burrard BridgeBurrard Bridge

A few twists and turns and then the final, brutal climb up the Cambie Bridge on-ramp. The last kilometre down off the bridge to cheering crowds.

Finish Line

I passed one of my colleagues heading onto the bridge – and saw two more cross the finish line just ahead of me.

The Results

Once the race is over, we head into BC Place for refreshments, and to connect with our team. I chatted with a few of my fittest coworkers, including Chris – who had thrown down the gauntlet to me in this race. He claimed victory – beating me by over two minutes! This is my reward to him:

Trophy

Homemade, if you can’t tell!

Overall, this race was a success. While not a personal best, it was a course PB – when I last ran it in 2012, my result was 57:39. As such, finishing with 47:08 was not too shabby – given it was a 10 1/2 minute improvement! And while I didn’t finish in the top 10 for the company, I managed to squeak in at 15th place. I was up against some tough competition – well done, everyone!

Bradley & Lana

Me & lunch-time training partner – Lana (plus photo-bombing toddler!)

Could it have gone better? Perhaps. Should I have trained harder (i.e. done more speed work)? Obviously. Will I tackle the Sun Run again? Absolutely!

Final Results:

Chip time: 47:08
Average pace: 4:42 min/km
Place overall: 1897/39045 (in 2012 it was: 9409/38850)
Age category place: 148/1654

RACE REPORT

Overall
The Sun Run is an experience of epic proportions. Because I was in one of the front corrals, it wasn’t quite the ‘crush’ of people that I’ve faced in previous years. I love the spirit and energy of this event that brings Vancouver together!

Packet Pickup/Expo
As part of the Corporate Team Challenge, I didn’t have to do my own bib pickup. Instead, we had a post-work event at the pub where shirts & bibs were handed out – along with the technical t-shirts kindly provided by our company.

T-Shirt/Swag
The Sun Run shirt itself is a simple cotton affair (Gildan) – I generally use them for non-running workouts at the gym. Corporate Team Challenge runners get their company brand on the back as well.

Sun Run Shirt

2015 Shirt Design

No medals for this race – just too many people! Unless you place in your age category. Then you absolutely deserve it!

Course
Scenic – along English Bay, and over Burrard Bridge. Very quick downhill for the first kilometre. Three hill challenges: Hornby and Pacific (just before 5km); Burrard Bridge; Cambie Bridge. Biggest challenges: tight corners from Georgia onto Denman (around 1km) and very soon thereafter heading onto Robson – with big crowds, and a lot of variation in people’s pace, it can get pretty crowded.

Good entertainment from bands/performers with live music, and a few DJs from local radio stations.

Aid Stations
I didn’t use any of them, but there were plenty of aid stations staffed by young, cheering volunteers. They provide good signage of upcoming stations, too. I think it was mostly water, rather than sports drinks.

Post-Race
Held inside BC Place – good to either warm up or cool off, depending on the outside weather. Food included: bananas, bagels, and fruit juice (thanks to Spud.com and Oasis). Sponsors also provided samples: PowerBar, Muscle MLK, McDonald’s (coffee), Dairyland (chocolate milk), and Nature’s Path.

The stadium also posts giant letters so you can meet up with your team – which is great, given that 40,000 runners is a lot to sift through to find your people!

Processed with Moldiv

Race Management
No complaints whatsoever. The Sun Run team clearly knows what they’re doing. Per everything above – top notch job. The only thing I didn’t like was the darn beach balls while we were waiting in the corral – anything flying at my head kind of stresses me out. But I’ll let that one slide. Because the Sun Run rocks!
Have you ever run the Vancouver Sun Run? How was your experience? What’s the largest race you’ve even participated in?

Processed with MoldivMuch as I enjoy travelling, it often means I fall behind on other stuff, like updating my blog. With the preparation for going away, plus a couple of evening commitments, along with that full-time job…I’m way behind!

So I’ll get right to it!

Thursday night, we took the red-eye from Vancouver to Toronto. The flight only took about 4 hours, but because of the screaming toddler on board, it felt like a lot longer. Arrived in Ontario with actual red eyes, having not had a wink of sleep, and drove home to Barrie (about an hour due north of Toronto). Greeted my Dad warmly, and promptly took a 3-hour nap.

Hamilton

On Saturday, we drove 2+ hours to Hamilton, at the western end of Lake Ontario, where we attended my cousin’s wedding. It was a wonderful time, getting together with most of the extended family (including a couple of cousins I’d never met before!), dancing, and enjoying the open bar.

Yes, you read that right. Open bar.

Despite the open bar, I had mentally committed to running in Hamilton. I lived in the area during college – but as many of you know, I was not a runner then. As such, I was determined to make this a TravelRun. After breakfast and a few cups of coffee (but unfortunately not enough water), I headed out.

I had packed for Ontario with the assumption that it would be cold. It was not. I was dressed for cooler temperatures in a thermal long-sleeved top with a t-shirt over it, running tights & shorts, and my Icebreaker toque. I headed out from the hotel past Dundurn Castle and along Harvey Park, which overlooks Burlington Bay in Lake Ontario.

Burlington Bay

Burlington Skyway in the distance

About a kilometre in, I was already sweating.

FullSizeRender_1

I pulled up my sleeves.

My destination was Waterfront Trail, requiring me to clamber down a fairly imposing and twisty metal staircase.

FullSizeRender_2

I then headed back the way I had come, only now I was right on the lakeshore. The sun was beaming down, the geese were honking, and the fact that I hadn’t rehydrated properly to compensate for a couple of quite a few gin & tonics had set in.

I passed a dead racoon.

It then dawned on me that I was at the base of a small cliff, and that there were railway tracks in between me and said cliff. In order to get back to my destination, I had to do a full loop – which included a hill and a bridge. I briefly took off my toque to wipe my brow, but with the sun growing in intensity on my pale scalp I feared sunburn, and slapped that hat back on.

FullSizeRender copy

Now don’t get me wrong – the Waterfront Trail is beautiful.

FullSizeRender_1 copy IMG_7012

But I was very happy when the hotel came back in sight. I freshened up, and we headed off for some waterfall sightseeing at the Spencer Gorge.

Webster's FallsTew's Falls

Followed by a lovely lunch with the family and the newlyweds. Then we headed back to Barrie.

Barrie

In order to ensure that the Ontario TravelRun was done right, I ventured out on Monday morning from my Dad’s place. I’ve run this route quite a few times. Most of it is pretty straightforward residential, all around the neighbourhood where I grew up: Letitia Street, Leacock Drive, Cundles Road, Livingstone Street, Lillian Crescent.

But then I get to run through Sunnidale Park. When I was a child, it seemed vast. Back in the 50s or 60s, it was a golf course. At one point, they wanted to pave it over, and my Mom fought tooth and nail to keep it as a park – and she succeeded. There’s a huge hill where I used to toboggan in the winter. But now I’m seeing it with fresh eyes (although it’s still a bit brown and bare).

FullSizeRender copy 2 FullSizeRender_1 copy 2

One of the coolest things – the path through the park is part of the Trans Canada Trail – a network of trails stretching 17,000km across Canada.

FullSizeRender_2 copy

As it turns out – the Waterfront Trail in Hamilton that I ran? It’s also part of the Trans Canada Trail!

Vancouver

Back to Vancouver on Monday night. This was a whirlwind trip, but totally worth it to spend the time with my family, who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like.

On Tuesday, I ran the Seawall in Coal Harbour with three of my coworkers. The Seawall is part of the Trans Canada Trail, too. This fact makes me very happy.

Have you ever run the Trans Canada Trail? Any good TravelRuns in your future?

Have you ever over (or under) dressed for a run?

Processed with MoldivIn addition to the obvious perk of having a day off work, one of my favourite things about a long weekend is that I have an extra day for a run! I don’t have to get up too early, or encourage myself at the end of a long day, or squeeze it in during my lunch break. I can just go for a run!

No races this weekend, nothing extra-special planned. So I thought I’d just do a recap of what got done!

Friday – Stanley Park

I made sure my Mon-Fri alarm was off, and got up when I woke up (around 7:45am). Then I took my sweet time – had my oatmeal, enjoyed a cup of coffee, scanned Twitter while the cat lazed on my lap. And then it was time to get moving!

Excited to try out my new Nikes, I slipped them on and headed out the door. On Wednesday, a few of us did a lunch run, and I led us through trails at the edge of Stanley Park. That whetted by appetite for more, so I had already selected my route.

FullSizeRender copy

Brand spankin’ new!

I ran English Bay to Second Beach, and then entered the park. I hadn’t done this route in months. It was dry and the trails were mostly empty. For company, I listened to a Miles Not Included podcast – not the one I was featured in, but an interview with Brandon from I Run Alaska. Inspiring story – he’s gone from “couch to ultra-marathoner” in just a few years. I really enjoyed hearing his story, and encourage you to listen – and also to visit his blog!

Rawlings Trail to Prospect Point.

FullSizeRender_1

From sea level to about 90 metres (300 feet) in under 2 km. Not the hardest climb ever, but a good workout. Prospect Point overlooks the Lion’s Gate Bridge toward West Vancouver.

IMG_6956 IMG_6957 FullSizeRender

I took the steeper/quicker route down via Bridle Path, and retraced my steps along English Bay.

IMG_6958

Once I got home, I enjoyed a yummy green smoothie.

FullSizeRender_2

After buying a giant tub of protein powder last week, I realized the faux vanilla taste was just too strong and I needed a different solution. I bought some single-serving packs of Vega to try out, and I like them better already.

I had planned to go to Pilates, but the class was (understandably) cancelled due to the holiday. I took a nap instead.

Saturday – Strength

After postponing a few sessions due to scheduling challenges/health issues, I finally got to reconnect with Lisa, my awesome trainer at the YMCA. Still reeling from the aftermath of my traumatic Bodycomp scan (high fat percentage, hardly any muscle), I had emailed Lisa asking her to focus on some muscle-building exercises. And boy, did she give me some work to do.

We did a routine that involved:

  • Kettlebell swings
  • Snatches (also using kettlebells)
  • Back squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Clean and jerks (cleans & jerks? – uncertain)
  • Weighted lunges
  • …plus some ab exercises

I’ve been instructed to do this workout 4 times per week.

So.

Yes.

OK well, we shall see how that goes. But I’m motivated and committed to self-improvement.

Lisa also complimented me on my new shoes.

Sunday – Yoga & Stanley Park 2.0

My sleep was restless on Saturday night because everything hurt. Especially the muscles in my back. NOTE: it was not your usual ‘lower back pain’ – it was the ‘I have never used those muscles before and now I want to die’ kind of pain. The ‘I will never go to the gym again’ kind of pain. I got up and took an Advil, and then slept for another hour.

Then we went to yoga. I’m so glad I did because while I didn’t think I’d make it through, with all the focus on balancing and breathing, I briefly forgot about the pain. Stretching out some of those sore spots certainly helped.

After brunch, and a beautiful walk home along English Bay, I took a nap.

Yes, another nap.

But the sun was beckoning, so I set my alarm and then got up for another run! I enjoyed the Friday visit to Stanley Park so much that I decided on a repeat.

The biggest challenge was getting there. Once the sun is out, so are the Vancouverites. And tourists. Everyone and their dog – literally. So the ‘home to park’ route involved a lot of weaving  and dodging, and I nearly got hit by a bicycle.

FullSizeRender_2

Even the trails were busy. On Friday, I encountered almost no one. Today there were lots of cyclists, even on the steep climb up the Bridle Path. At Propect Point, there was a traffic jam getting into the parking lot, so I didn’t linger.

I also decided to finally listen to my own interview on Miles Not Included. And while I generally don’t like hearing my own voice, it actually wasn’t too bad. If you missed it, you can find it here or on iTunes (Episode 9).

The downhill trail was not as crowded.

FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_1

And that is why I enjoy long weekends!

Processed with Moldiv

Gratuitous tulip photo

 

What did you do this weekend? Any exercise or races?

Any advice for a runner getting started with weights and strength training?

My last post focused on stuff I got done in March. This time, I’ll talk a bit about what I want to do in April.

Playing

I’m spending a long weekend in Ontario to attend my cousin’s wedding. It will be amazing to reconnect with family, many of whom of haven’t seen in over three years. Having time with my dad is another bonus. Events like these can be a cause for over-indulgence, so I’ll do my best to keep myself in check – mostly!

Next week, I’m going to see the Book of Mormon. I’ve heard great things about this show – I’m very excited to see it!

Eating

After my Bodycomp scan results, I’m trying very hard to improve my diet. Today my coworker did a fantastic presentation on green smoothies – Nutrition Talks by Candace. She really took the mystery out of a healthy smoothie, and gave us a simple mix-and-match recipe guide (the Green Smoothie Formula!) to create our own!

According to Candace, it takes three weeks to start a habit – so my goal for April is to nail down my ideal healthy drink, and make it a daily (or almost daily) part of my routine.

Nutrition-Talks-with-Candace

You can visit Candace’s website at YUR Health.

Running

After three races in March, it’s kind of weird to have ‘just’ one race in April.

I had toyed with the idea of running the April Fool’s Half Marathon on the glorious Sunshine Coast. It’s a point-to-point race, quite hilly and I’ve heard it’s a rather challenging course. Unfortunately, the race happens to coincide with my visit to Ontario, so I’ll have to take a raincheque.

I hope to get in at least one TravelRun while I’m away – but it won’t be the most scenic time of year! Stay tuned for my report, whatever that may look like!

My only race this month is the Vancouver Sun Run. As some of you know, the 2009 Sun Run was my first race ever. I completed the 10k route with a time of 1:17:23. With close to 50,000 people participating, it’s the largest 10k event in Canada. Last year, I didn’t join in because it was held just one week before my first marathon – but I did commission a guest blog post. This year, I’m joining our company team. My lofty goal is to be one of the top ten runners on our team, but I’m up against some stiff competition.

 

What are your plans for April? Have you set any goals? Any races to run? Travel? 

Share in the Comments below!

 

 

January is traditionally the month of resolutions made.Processed with Moldiv

By February, many are broken.

March, however, has been a milestone month for me. Maybe because I didn’t make any resolutions this year, and decided instead to focus on goals and overall improvements. And while there have been a couple of downs, the overall trajectory has been up!

Here are 5 reasons why March exceeded my expectations:

1) Blogiversary

Bradley on the Run celebrated one year online on March 1. With gratitude to my faithful and supportive readers, the number of visitors for the first 3 months of 2015 has nearly overtaken the number for all of 2014. This humbles me immensely.

March also saw Twitter followers (@bjcjapan) surpass 500! This was quite a psychological barrier to break. I remember hovering around 100 followers for what seemed like an eternity.

2) Cancer Sucks – so do something about it

Commemorating my mom’s birthday for the second time since she passed away in 2013, the BC Cancer Foundation is once again my charity of choice as fundraising for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon, which will be held in June, commenced in earnest.

Pancreatic cancer is insidious – it grows deep inside, often undiscovered until advanced stages. It remains largely incurable. I’m doing what little I can to support research by raising funds and raising awareness. But it’s the support of a lot of people who truly make the difference.

My personal fundraising page is here:
http://donate.bccancerfoundation.com/goto/bradleyontherun

bccf_logo_0

A good friend was telling me recently about her friend, Scott, who is fighting cancer himself – and running to raise both awareness and funds. I’d like to draw attention to his blog as well:

Run Fast. Run Vegan.

Because March is tax season, a lot of people start thinking about charitable donations for the coming year. Focus on the charities that are closest to your heart, and support them as best you can. Everyone can make a difference.

3) 3 Races – 3 PBs

I shall brag a wee bit. I ran three races in March:

All three were personal bests, although the 7 Miler was a bit of a cheat since it was my first race of that distance (automatic PB!)

FullSizeRender

#Modo8K dramatic pose

4) Miles Not Included Podcast!

Somehow, Brian and Joe – the awesome team at Miles Not Included – found me social media, and invited me to be a guest on their podcast. Such an honour! If you’re interested, you can listen to the episode here:

SMALL-miles_not_included_podcast_logo-SQUARE

5) Got me some new kicks!

I’m back to my tried and true Nike Lunarglides in their 6th iteration. I strayed from Nike for a while, running with some stylish Mizunos (my Honolulu Marathon shoes). But they were not right for my feet and started causing some pain. So yesterday I pick up these beauties:

FullSizeRender_1

I had planned to break them in today, but it’s been pouring all day and I just couldn’t bring myself to sully the fantastic colour (plus I wanted to stay cozy in my pjs all day, and decided to focus on writing this post instead!)

 

Finally, here’s some food for thought for comments below:

What were your March highlights? Did your training suffer any setbacks?

Have you got any new running gear that you’re really excited about?

What charities are you passionate about and why?

 

Processed with Moldiv

Yesterday, I had an emotional setback in terms of my personal fitness. After my personal success at the Modo 8K on Sunday (he said modestly), I was feeling fairly stoked and self-righteous.

At the suggestion of my personal trainer, I made an appointment with Bodycomp Imaging. Bodycomp uses unique technology to do a full body scan, and provides analysis of your body fat and bone density. The results are more accurate than BMI or skin caliper testing.

While I knew that I was holding some weight in my belly area, I will still pretty confident about my over fitness level and general health. What I learned was less encouraging than I had expected. Without going into details (or numbers or percentages!), I discovered that:

  • My overall body fat is considerably higher than I expected
  • My bone density is somewhat low
  • I have very little muscle mass in my upper body

And here I thought all of these runs would be having a more positive impact on my body!

What to do?

I’ve got to make some changes! Armed with recommendations from Peter at Bodycomp, my objectives are:

1) More Vitamin D

Particularly in sun-starved Vancouver, this is crucial – and has an effect on bone health. This is fairly easy to supplement going forward.

2) More protein

We don’t eat red meat, although we do include seafood and dairy in our diet. However, I know that I tend toward more of the carbs and veggies, and often skimp on protein. I feel very butch, having gone out and bought one of those giant tubs of protein powder, and I guess smoothies will become a regular part of my routine. (Anyone who is a regular smoothie maker, feel free to share suggestions and recipes in the comments!)

IMG_6932

I also need to cut down on the amount of potato chips I hoover by the bag get a craving for once in a while.

3) More resistance training

I’m not a gym bunny. If you regularly follow my blog, you’ll note that I’m mostly outside. My indoor exercise is usually of the yoga/Pilates variety. I know that I need to get in more weight training, but it’s not something I’m drawn to. But realizing how lacking my upper body strength is – clearly I need to do something! So I’m going to start focusing on a weight training program ASAP!

As a result of this, I’m feeling a little forlorn today. But after work, I took advantage of the 20 degree weather, and went straight out for an 8k run. Insanely warm! I bought a protein smoothie on the way home.

GIVEAWAY RESULTS

On a completely different note, my Giveaway for the Laughlin/Bullhead Half Marathon wrapped up yesterday. Very happy to congratulate Amanda at Just a Mom who TRIs – she can register for free! If you didn’t win – or didn’t have a chance the enter – you can still get $15 off a race entry. Just use the discount code DAMRUN at checkout!

laughlinlogo

For this race report, I’m going to try something new – I’ll start by sharing my personal thoughts on the experience, and then provide a more ‘objective’ summary of the race (jump to it here). Please comment to let me know what you think of this format!

Processed with Moldiv

I started the morning by icing my right foot. Something about my run yesterday caused my foot to tweak a bit, and stepping off it felt a bit sore. One of the good things about the Modo 8K (which also has one drawback…please read on) is that it doesn’t start until 10am. As such, I was able to sleep in until 7:30, and still have time to laze around while eating my oatmeal and chilling my woes minor pains.

FullSizeRender_1 copy

Prepped & ready

I managed to swing a free race entry for one of my friends thanks to Elinor at Goodbye Clutter (follow her on Twitter @goodbyeclutter), and it was nice to have some company as we set off toward Stanley Park and arrived well in advance. Ah, spring in Vancouver…

Cherry Blossoms

Fortunately, because the Stanley Park Pavilion is race central, we were able to huddle inside and stay out of the ‘cold’. It wasn’t really cold at all, just a chill in the air when one is standing about, so we waited until the last minutes to check our bags and get ourselves into the corral.

The Canadian Running Series puts on really well-organized races, and the Modo 8K is no exception. Announcements were timely and clear, and everyone was ready to go when the elite runners arrived on scene. Countdown was prompt and the fun began!

FullSizeRender

I always find the first kilometre of this race challenging – it loops around the building, and adrenaline-rush speed combined with a sharp turn and fairly steep downhill makes for some risky business. Plus I started out too fast, a tendency of mine in the shorter distance races. Once we reached Lost Lagoon, it’s a flat course around the Seawall, typical of many Vancouver races, and I got myself into a pretty decent rhythm.

BUT! Because the race starts at 10am, tourist and runners and cyclist and dog walkers are out in full force. The Seawall is not closed for this event, so the racers are not the only ones there. And because much of the Seawall is basically a path between a rock cliff and the ocean, there’s really nowhere else to go. Fine, no problem, we can share the space.

Processed with Moldiv

What made me laugh for a few kilometres, though, was buddy running just ahead of me. He tended to veer left, to the ‘sea edge’ of the Seawall, right into oncoming traffic. Rather than simply dodging the pedestrians, however, he kind of groan/wailed at each of them, doing a weird jazz hands sort of thing to express his annoyance. I wish I could write the sound he made…something like, “Eeearrgh…!” but more guttural – you’ll just have to imagine it, or ask me the next time we meet. Personally, while I could understand his frustration, I thought it was a bit of a waste of his energy. I hope he ultimately enjoyed the race.

Processed with Moldiv Processed with Moldiv

I already knew (from last year’s race) that the final kilometre would be a killer. We disembarked the Seawall, and started up the small but killer slope. I really tried to eke out some more speed, but it wasn’t happening. At the final stretch, with the finish line clock in sight visible as a red blur because I’m getting old and can’t see as clearly without my glasses, I did my best imitation of a ‘sprint’. The guy who crossed the line just ahead of me was waving his arms in victory, so I had to pull back slightly to avoid a black eye. Despite the risks to my person, I still made a time I am proud of and a 30-second PB!

As with a lot of these local races, it was awesome to connect with folks from my Forerunners training clinic, and Twitter friends both new and old (including the ones I hadn’t met in person before). We even ran into an old college friend and her family, a wonderful blast from the past!

IMG_6876 FullSizeRender_1

 

And the foot didn’t bother me again!

Final Results:

Chip time: 37:36
Average pace: 4:42 min/km
Place overall: 167/1067
Age category place: 16/66

 

RACE REPORT:

Overall
A consistently well-run event. This is my fourth year running this race, and I feel like it just keeps getting better. I like the fact that it’s ‘big enough’ to be really professional, but not too big to lose its local charm. Keep it up!

Packet Pickup/Expo
No expo, just pickup at the local Running Room store. And although they discourage it, you can also get bibs the morning of. Suggestion for improvement: option to pick up on Friday night. I understand it comes down to volunteer availability and likely other organization factors, so this is not a major issue.

T-Shirt/Swag
The men’s shirt is baby blue, not my best colour, but I like the simplicity of the design. Very good quality technical shirt from ‘The Authentic T-Shirt Company’. I wish they had an ‘extra-small’ option, however, because the shirts fit a bit large and loose.

Course
As noted above, tight and twisty downhill for the first kilometre, and then flat along the Seawall until 7km. Then it’s a not-too-steep but consistent uphill to the finish line.

Aid Stations
I didn’t use either of them, but there were aid stations with energetic volunteers at 3.5km and 7km.

Post-Race
Fantastic finisher medal – substantial and well-designed, with a very bright and attractive lanyard. Great addition to my bib board!

Food included: water/Gatorade, juice boxes, cookies, bananas, bagels, yogurt, granola. They were also selling breakfast wraps (both turkey & veggie) for $5, with proceeds going to the Take a Hike Foundation. And if you were so inclined, there was beer available.

We stayed around for the awards – they recognized the top 5 female and male winners, while age group winners could claim their medals themselves. It’s nice when they recognize all the winners, but I also appreciate it when they keep it short and sweet. There were also some great door prizes (be there to claim yours!).

Race Management
As mentioned, Canada Running Series does a phenomenal job (they also manage the Scotiabank Half and the Eastside 10K) – and Modo as the title sponsor for the second year did a great job with branding and involvement.

IMG_6903

So excited to have Lucy back for her second guest blog post! Be sure to visit her first post about the Chicago Marathon.

logo

I’m back writing another guest blog for Bradley on the Run. This week, I will be covering the LA Marathon, which took place on March 15th, 2015.

In the weeks leading up to the race, there was much talk about how LA was going to be experiencing “record heat” on race day, with highs inland reaching up to 30 degrees C. In fact, there was so much worry about the heat from race officials that they moved up the start time by 30 minutes to 6:55am. They also removed all timing clocks from the race course (except at the finish) to discourage runners from running too fast. Both ideas were well-intentioned in theory. However, their one misstep was that they failed to move up the times of the shuttle buses out to the start line in accordance with the amended start times. The combination of the earlier start time along with LA’s infamous traffic resulted in many people not reaching their corrals on time. Booo…

On race day, my friend and I left our apartment at approximately 4:30am to catch the 5am shuttle. Good thing we left when we did as the lineups for the shuttle were LONG. To the organizer’s credit, there were fleets and fleets of buses, so the lineups moved at a good pace and we got on after 30 minutes in line.

The temperature was nice and cool still when we arrived at Dodger Stadium. There was loud, energetic music playing as bus loads of runners arrived. One of the neat sights was seeing thousands of youth from “Students Run LA” sporting neon jerseys. Students Run LA is a program that challenges at-risk students to train for and complete the LA Marathon.  The concept being that the students will build character and confidence while improving their health along the way. It would be great to see something like this in Vancouver one day.

IMG_7786

The race started as the sun was rising. According the race day temperatures, it was already 18C, but I have to say it felt cooler than that. As the race proceeded, the temperatures did rise, especially inland. I have to say that the residents of LA were so supportive, much more than I anticipated in fact, as many spectators came out and offered up cold water, ice cubes, freeze pops, spray hoses, you name it – anything to help keep the runners cool. It was quite touching, especially considering that water is not exactly a plentiful resource in this state.

What I will say about the course is that it is incredibly hilly. In fact, the high temperatures were secondary to the endless hills we had to climb up until the last 5k of the race. To be clear, it really felt that we were climbing up some sort of the hill for about 80 % of the race.

The last 5k was through a tree-lined residential area and eventually along Ocean Drive at Santa Monica beach. The energy at the finish line was pretty amazing as it was lined with spectators on both sides, cheering all of the runners through.  Even though my pace was slower than usual during the race, the crowds at the finish line got me pretty pumped and I finished strong. In the end, my time was just under 3:57, not my best but not my worst. Given the conditions, I will take it.  The combination of the heat and hills really sucked the life out of my legs early on. Not an excuse I know, but hey, I need to make myself feel a little bit better! Since it was the 30th anniversary of the LA marathon, the finisher’s medal is quite large and heavy. I was quite happy to see this given all of the toil that finishing runners like me went through to reach that finish line.

Despite not achieving a PB, I still had fun during the race. The silver lining to not running a PB is that you naturally pay more attention to your surroundings. Although the course was mostly in the city, the energy of LA residents was quite rousing. This is what I will remember the most – plus the fact that I was far less sore the next day than usual, probably as result of my slower pace.

On to the next race!

IMG_8028

Congratulations, Lucy! Sounds like you had a challenging race – but you did it! Thanks for sharing your experiences with everyone!