Monthly Archives: February 2018

VIRA Island Race Series-Running the Hatley Castle 8k

The Hatley Castle 8k is the next race which is part of the VIRA Island Race Series. It will take place on February 18, 2018 at 11:00 am.

For those of you who have never been to Royal Roads, it’s a very beautiful location for running. The Hatley Castle is also National Historic Site and is a tourist attraction here in the Greater Victoria Area.

I’ve run the Hatley Castle 8k a few times. The first time I raced it, I was definitely not prepared for the hills nor the trail and gravel parts of the course.

This is a technical, challenging and fun course. A small part of the race is run on a crushed gravel surface. Many people enjoy the ups and downs of this race.

I definitely will not be trying to do this super fast, but I will test my hill running skills.

How to run the Hatley Castle 8k:

First, don’t start too fast in the first km. I made that mistake once and almost had to WALK up the hill closer to the middle of the race. I talk about starting too fast every time only because I keep seeing people doing it over and over again.

It’s always easier to speed up later than it is to maintain a pace that is too fast from the start. I feel that if I keep saying it to myself then maybe I will stop busting out of the gate. So far, in the past 2 races, I ran a negative split because I didn’t start too fast.

As you get closer towards the middle part of the race, there will be hills. The climbs will be challenging and rewarding. Generally, the best way to overcome the hill is to embrace them.

When you are running up the hills, use your glutes, your quads and your hamstrings. You will need to push from the hip and use your entire leg to get up that hill. As you go up the hills, imagine yourself reaching the top and the feelings of accomplishment that you will get as you conquer the climb.

While you are ascending, try to keep a shorter and steady stride without overstriding. Keep your breathing even and deep, while at the same time keep your upper body from tensing up.

On the way down, you can relax and keep focusing on your form. Try not to land too hard on your feet. Use the downhills to your advantage. You can lengthen your stride on the way down.

Final tips:

Please also note that a very small part of the race is on a trail surface. Therefore, pay attention to the pine cones which might be on the trail. I often slow down on trails because I don’t want to trip on a pine cone or anything like that.

As you can see from the map below, the course is a bit turny, which will require you to slow down for parts of it.

If my memory serves me right, the last part of the race is done on crushed gravel. Naturally, gravel is slower than track or road. Therefore, don’t be too upset if you don’t end up being able to sprint to the finish as fast as you would on the road.

Above: The finish line. This is what the gravel looks like. It will have a small impact on your speed.

Don’t beat yourself up if your time at Hatley Castle 8k is a little slower than the Harriers Pioneer 8k. The scenery and the race atmosphere will make up for any hills that you may encounter.

Hope to see you there!!



VIRA Island Race Series- Cedar 12k 2018 Race Report

This year’s Cedar 12k 2018 took an unexpected turn for all participants (no pun intended). With that being said, the course preview that I wrote a week before the race was no longer 100% valid, although people still said that I made some good points.

Why was my preview no longer valid?

Unfortunately, due to a vehicle accident and road closure, the organizers had to quickly change the course. Kudos to The Bastion Run Club for acting quickly and changing the course. The volunteers and the organizers did a great job to ensure that our running experience is not tainted by the accident.

The good news for some people was that the big hill I told everyone about in my preview was not part of this new course. Many runners were rejoicing as they learned that the big hill at the 9km mark was no longer there.

I had mixed feelings about the hill. On one hand, I wanted to see if my hill training would pay off. On the other hand, I was not feeling my best that day so I was happy to see that the hill was gone. 😀

Since didn’t know the new course, I decided to take it 1km at a time.

Above: Chatting with some Ceevacs members about running…what’s new? Wearing: JP Activewear.

How it all went:

Overall, I believe that I had a good run given that I wasn’t feeling my best that day. The course consisted of small, rolling hills and beautiful views.

The beginning:

At the start, I took off a little bit faster than I anticipated, running the first km in 4:23. However, I consciously slowed down to 4:55 for the next km to really think about what I was doing. Since I didn’t know the new route, I thought it was better to go out conservatively and then make up for it later if I can. Therefore, I’m glad that I didn’t push too hard at the start. Those first 2km set the tone for the remainder of the race.

Once I reached the 3km mark, I felt confident that I could pick it up a little bit and ran the next km in 4:20. The 4th km also went well and I did it in 4:29, which I was happy with. There was a small incline during the 4th km.

The middle:

I stayed very consistent between kms 5-8. My splits were 4:26, 4:28, 4:29 and 4:25 respectively. I also want to take a moment to thank the cyclist in the reddish shirt who passed me just after the turnaround point. The cyclist kept a great pace. I was trying keep pace with the cyclist for a bit and it really worked for me.

By the time I completed the 8th km, I was feeling totally relaxed. The weather was beautiful and it was a great day to be running. There were some people cheering for the runners, which was great.

The end:

Between km 9-11, I also kept a consistent pace. I was very happy with how it was going. I stopped looking at my watch and paced myself entirely on how I felt. Luckily, it worked in my favor, as my splits were 4:26, 4:29 and 4:26. Since I knew that the new course was slightly shorter, I decided to pick it up for the last km. Once again, the last km was my fastest and would have been significantly under 4:20 if it was a full km.

However, the new course is about 200m short, give or take a few m depending on whether or not you ran the tangents.

To Sum it up:

Although I didn’t run a personal best, I feel like I had a solid run and put in a good effort. It was fantastic to see all my running friends again and the social aspect of these races is definitely a good reason for me to keep showing up.

Once again, I ran a negative split. The funny thing is that it only took me nearly a decade of racing to learn not to bust out of the gate from the start.

My time was 52:48. My average pace was 4:24 min per km and 7:05 per mile. I was extremely happy to learn that I won my age group. Not only that, but I also placed 7th overall out of 141 women. I’m always happy with a Top 10 finish, even though I’m generally competing against myself.

Every race is a test for me to see where I’m at and what I need to work on. The place I get is irrelevant, but I always celebrate the small victories. 🙂

Every time that I get to race, I’m grateful for the circumstances that have led me to be able to race again. #notdoneyet

Above: This medal will look awesome on my wall, I’m wearing JP Activewear. 🙂 Shortly after arriving home, I was stuffing my face with pizza, nachos and chips while watching the Superbowl. The Eagles and Patriots played a good game and it was entertaining to watch.

What’s next?

The next race is the Hatley Castle 8k at Royal Roads.

Stay tuned for a course preview coming soon!

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