Monthly Archives: January 2018

VIRA Island Race Series: Running the Cedar 12k

The next race in the Vancouver Island Race Series is the Cedar 12k. This is a beautiful out-and-back course which features rolling hills and stunning countryside views.

Runners of all levels are welcome and there is an early start option for those who are walking. Whether it takes you less than 40 minutes to run 12k or it takes you over two hours, you can be assured that you will have a fun experience.

Personally, I’ve run this race quite a number of times and there is a reason why I keep coming back. I first ran it in 2013 and have done it every year except for last year. In 2016, I even broke 50 min in the 12k, which was (and still is) a big deal for me and a major milestone in my running.

I don’t think I will be doing that this year, but if all goes well I will be under 52 minutes. I’d be pleasantly surprised if I beat 52 minutes by anything more than a couple of seconds. However, as I’ve said before, I’m just thankful to be racing.

Also, from what I remember, the post-race food was very good!!

I’ve mentioned that it has a few rolling hills. However, as you can see from the map below, there are not that many turns. Without too many turns, you have a much better chance of running a good race even if you don’t run the tangents the entire way. However, you should still try to as much as possible.

So how do we run this race in order to have the best possible finish?

First, don’t start too fast. I followed my own advice for the Cobble Hill 10k and that really served me well.

It’s super tempting to bust right out of the gate because if you don’t know the course, it looks relatively easy on the map. The good news is that if you run it right-it is easy and fast. You can run a personal best.

In fact, when I did the Island Race Series in early 2016, I ran the 12k at a similar pace per km as the 10k. Therefore, you shouldn’t be too much slower per km at Cedar 12k than you were at Cobble Hill 10k if you save all your energy for the last 4k. Otherwise, those last 4k will feel like 40k (I’ve experienced that feeling too).

On the way to the turnaround point, I feel like there are more downhills. Therefore, save your energy for the way back as you will be coming back the same way. I always try to relax and coast on the way down (not always possible though).

Approaching the turnaround point will make you naturally have to slow down. However, after that, if you didn’t run the first few kms too fast, you should have a solid 2k or so.

Then, you will reach what I call “the big one”. I don’t fully remember if that hill is at km 8 or 9 but I remember there being one on the way back (the same one that you went down on the way to the turnaround point).

My biggest piece of advice here is to pay attention to any downhills on your way to the turnaround point because you will be going up them on the way back!

Above: As we can see, this is a grassy finish. Therefore, watch your footing a bit and be careful when you sprint towards the finish. Wearing: Public Myth.

After the 10.5k mark, the hills are not a problem. However, the last few hundred meters towards the finish is on the grass. Therefore, I try to be careful there and not sprint too hard towards the finish.

I hope you found this helpful!

Best of luck next Sunday and I hope to see you there! 🙂

VIRA Island Race Series- Cobble Hill 10k Race Report

To be honest, prior to starting the Cobble Hill 10k, I was feeling nervous. The reason I was nervous was because I wasn’t sure how my first 10k in a while would go. I expected to finish anywhere between 41 and 51 minutes, but I had no other real expectations of myself beyond that.

There were only three things I expected from myself: have fun, follow my own racing advice and find the food.

I told one of my friends that I hope to run at least 1km of this race in under 4 minutes.

He laughed and jokingly said: “Hopefully not the first one.” I replied, “we will see.”

That’s when I decided to really think about what I wrote in my course preview from the week before the race. 

In my race preview, I specifically discussed that  the course is fast if you run it properly and stay focused. This is a very tactical course and many people have run personal bests in Cobble Hill.

Luckily, this time, the weatherman was a lot nicer to us during the race.

Before the race:

I drove up to Cobble Hill with my friend. Honestly, the rain and wind leading up to the race almost inspired me to bow out. However, I decided to race because it’s something I enjoy doing. It rained the entire way. Driving up the Malahat when it’s raining can be both dangerous and challenging.

When we got there, the rain seemed to have calmed down and the sun started to come out.

Once we got to the start line, I was grateful that the weatherman was smiling at us. That’s when I knew it was going to be a good day. I was hoping that the weather would stay beautiful for at least the next 45 minutes or so.

I chatted with some people at the start line, turned on my Garmin and the gun went off. Then, something inside my brain drastically changed for the better….

Above: Smiling because of the outcome and the possibilities. This photo was taken with my cell phone  after I got back from the race in my “home office” where I work on fun extra-curricular projects.

During the race:

The first km dictated how the whole race would go. Therefore, I ran it wisely. I watched many people bust out of the gate like they are being chased by a hungry tiger. Meanwhile, I slowed down and let a lot of people pass me and for the first time in nearly a decade of racing, I decided to run my own race.

The beginning:

It took every ounce of willpower I had for me to run my first km in 4:26 instead of 3:45. I knew that if I ran the first km in 3:45, I would regret it later.

Then, the next 2kms were 4:22 and 4:21 respectively. The first 3km consisted of small rolling hills. I watched my turns closely as well.

For kms 4 and 5, I slowed down and ran a 4:36, then a 4:32. At that point, I was glad to be halfway to the finish.

The middle:

Surprisingly, I felt rejuvenated after the 5k mark.

A new kind of positive energy ran through my brain and body.

I ran the 6th km in 4:24.

After that, kms 7 and 8 were 4:15 and 4:10 respectively. I was speeding up despite being that far into the race.

The end:

As I was approaching the 9th km, I stopped looking at my watch. Then, it beeped and vibrated to let me know that I ran a 4:16 for my 9th km. I was happy with that.

In fact, I was so happy, that I started to catch up to my friend who passed me right before the 5k mark, who I thought was way farther ahead of me.

There was another guy in front of me who was running a good pace so I tried to catch up to him. I didn’t pass him, but what happened at the finish surprised me.

Right as I crossed the timing mat at the finish line, my watch beeped that it was exactly 10k and that my 10th km took me 3:58.

Above: Photo by Lois DeEll. I’m wearing JP Activewear.


A sub 4-min km was my last km.

Never in nearly a decade of racing have I ever had the fastest pace for my last km. In the midst of running my fastest last km, for the first time ever, there was no struggle as I approached the finish. I was feeling the positive vibes from running a negative split.

To sum it up:

This Cobble Hill 10k race could not have gone better. No, I didn’t run a personal best, but I beat last year’s time by 43 seconds, placed 3rd in my age group and 14th out of 185 females overall.

My final time was 43:12, which is still over 2 min slower than my best. However, overall, I feel like my running is going in the right direction so far.

I stuck to my original game plan and didn’t let any external factors interfere with it. Tactically, this is definitely the smartest race I recall ever running in nearly a decade of racing. I held back a lot in the first 2k and that served me well.

I’m grateful for this experience and I hope that I will continue to get better so that I could get back to where I was.

I was also extremely happy that a couple of people walked up to me after the race and told me that as a result of reading my course preview, they ran negative splits too.

What’s next?

Next up is the Cedar 12k on February 4th.

It’s a great race. Course preview coming soon. I hope to see you there!


Running the Cobble Hill 10k -VIRA Island Race Series

If you feel like you missed out on a fun run because you didn’t run the Harriers Pioneer 8k, then you should come to the Cobble Hill 10k.  The Cobble Hill 10k takes place on Jan 21 and it’s definitely going to be a fun time.

Cobble Hill is situated in the beautiful Cowichan Valley, roughly 50 minutes North of Victoria.

Regardless of your pace or fitness level, you are welcome to come out and enjoy the run. Walkers are also encouraged to attend and early start is allowed!

If you’ve never done a 10k before and would like to try a relatively fast course, then Cobble Hill is definitely a good choice.

Just like all the other VIRA-Island Race Series, the course is very beginner-friendly. I love that about these races. Up until Friday, Jan 19th at 6pm, you can still register online. After that, you can still register on race day. However, you will need to get there early, as registration is limited on race day.

As we can see from the map below, there are a few turns. Starting near George Bonner Elementary School, the course is scenic and is run on country roads around Cobble Hill. It has produced some fast times for many runners in the past.

With the exception of a few small hills, the course is relatively flat. In fact, I’ve run my second best 10k time ever on this course.

What to watch out for:

The first 2km make it very tempting to start too fast, as I often do. I recall there being a small incline just before the 3k mark where I often regretted running the first km too fast.

Then, after the 4th km, it was a fairly smooth sailing for me. There was another very small incline in the later part of the race. However, it was a very short uphill.

Since there are some turns in the race, you should strive to run the tangents. Here is a great article in Competitor Magazine about running the tangents.

Essentially, running the tangents means following the line that’s closest to each corner. Therefore, you will end up running the shortest possible distance. If you don’t run the shortest possible distance, then you will end up running longer than 10k.

The last km of the Cobble Hill 10k is super fun and fast. I’ve always had a great last km.

Above: coming in towards the finish at the Cobble Hill 10k.

My goals for the race:

I don’t have a lot of expectations for myself because this will be my first 10k race back. However, I’m hoping to run under 45 minutes and hopefully place in the Top 5 for my age category.

Regardless of what my place or time will be, I will give it my best effort for that day. My ultimate goal is to do my best given all the circumstances leading up to the event.

When it comes to running a 10k, sometimes, my best is 56 min and other times, my best was 40:56. Therefore, we will see! There is a 99% chance that I will finish anywhere between 41 min and 51 min and that will all depend on how I will feel on race day.

Post race:

The time after finishing a race is a great time to reflect how it went and connect with other runners. Let’s also not forget the food. I know it’s going to be good. 🙂

Stay tuned for a race recap, course review and pictures! 🙂


VIRA Island Race Series Harriers Pioneer 8k Race Recap

About a week ago, I wrote a course preview for the new Harriers Pioneer 8k route.  

In theory, the new route should be faster than the old route. In practice (if you went to the race and experienced the weather conditions we had), I do not believe that it would be a fair comparison. Personally, I enjoyed them both for different reasons. 🙂

This year’s weatherman definitely wasn’t smiling down on us. Honestly, I’m also not quite at the same fitness level I was when I raced on the old route.

Before the race:

I was very pleasantly surprised that I received a “seeded” bib (#41) and that Victoria Sports News listed me as one of the other high performance runners on the list. Up until I saw my name on the seeding list, I didn’t have any particular goal for the race as far as placing goes. I intended to just enjoy the run and not look at my Garmin.

Then, I got my bib and decided that my goal would be to finish in the Top 10 in my age group and in the top 50 overall for the women. I also wanted to run a sub 4:30 pace per km.

Since this was my first race back in quite a while, I was a little bit nervous the night before. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect of myself but the thought of running a new route was exciting.

Above: Pre race photo by Joe Camilleri.Me with friends/clients Mark and Dominique.

How it went:

Overall, the race went as planned. Although, honestly, I didn’t follow my own advice when it came to pacing. I busted out of the gate at 3:45 per km and paid for that mistake later on in the race. Without a doubt, I started way too fast only because I was overly excited about racing.

I definitely had to slow down between kms 1-4. The good news was that the most elite runners in the race weren’t as far ahead as I thought they would be. Right before reaching km 5, I regretted starting out too fast. The minor incline that I wasn’t supposed to feel, I definitely felt and it was all my fault for busting out of the gate. HAHAHA. I just couldn’t hold back the excitement! The 6th km was my fastest in the whole race. Then, I managed to hang on for the last 2k and even sped up towards the finish a little bit.

It was a fast very field and there were a lot of talented runners. Therefore, I was happy to place 10th in my age group and 37th overall out of 221 women in the race. I achieved my goal for the race as far as placing and pacing.

I was so thrilled because I ACCOMPLISHED MY GOAL! 

Nearly 500 runners of all levels from Olympians and National Record Holders to first time racers came out to race.

It was cold, there was a little bit of a headwind for about 500m near the 3k mark and a lot of rain! The weather conditions were definitely less than ideal, which makes it difficult for me to compare the old and new routes.

My time 35:17 (4:25 per km, 7:06 per mile) was definitely my slowest 8k race I’ve ever done. However, it felt good, nothing hurt and I kept my heart rate at around 150 bpm. I believe that 6 of the top 10 in my age group were nationally ranked elite runners. With that in mind, I’m just happy to share the top 10 spots with them.

You can see the full results on Raceday Timing.

What’s next?

Above: Finish line photo by Joe Camilleri.

Undoubtedly, there is a lot of work for me to do before I get back to where I was before but I’m just glad to be back racing. It was great to catch up with some cool people and see some familiar faces 🙂

Above: Post race with my running buddy. Smiling because I stuffed my face full of cookies and pizza 😉 Seriously, you gotta do these races even if it’s just for the FOOD!!

Hopefully only upwards from here!

Running brings me joy! The next race in the VIRA Island Race Series is the Cobble Hill 10k on Jan 21! Stay tuned for my course preview and I hope to see you there!

If you read this, and wish you could have been there, sign up for the race next year. Or, better yet-there are 7 more Island Race Series this year that you can do.

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