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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.

Running the Harriers Pioneer 8k in 2018

The 2018 VIRA Island Race Series Harriers Pioneer 8k is coming up in exactly 2 weeks from now. This is a great way to start off the New Year if you are looking to make a positive lifestyle change after the holidays.

I’m excited to be signed up for the whole series. I’ve always been a huge fan of the series because it welcomes runners of all levels and the entry fee is reasonably priced. I’m also impressed with the post-race festivities and the food 🙂

After taking some time off racing (due to an injury and then being away on weekends for military training), I’m excited to be back on the roads. Although I don’t expect to hit any major PBs this year, I’m just grateful to be out there racing again.

Even though I may not run any PBs, I will be out there enjoying the sport that I’ve always loved. Given that I’ve done over 100 races, ranging from 800m to marathon, I have a few tips for beginner runners on how to enjoy their first Harriers Pioneer 8k.

The course has changed since I last ran it and I believe it will be faster compared to the old course. Take a look at the map and elevation profile below (click on the image to make it larger)

From looking at the course map and elevation profile, I can see that there is not a significant gain or loss in elevation, which means that it should be relatively flat and fast.

How should a new runner run this course?

The first km looks like a gentle downhill. The mistake that many new runners make is they bust right out of the gate. The first km here makes it very tempting to start too fast, but it’s best to start conservatively. You may want to start a few seconds per km slower than your desired goal race pace.

Between km 1 and 3, there is a very gentle incline, so, again, it is still best to maintain a conservative pace. If you didn’t run the first km too fast, you shouldn’t really notice the incline. If you run the first km too fast, you will feel the incline (even though it’s barely there). Believe me….I would know! HAHA

The gentle downhill will feel great after the 3k mark. However, you should still hold off on picking up your pace until after the turnaround point. The reason is that despite speeding up, you will be forced to slow down as you approach the turnaround. Therefore, you are better off conserving your energy until after you’ve made the sharp turn.

Once you get past the turnaround point, you will encounter a small incline. Maintain a conservative pace between km 4 and 5, but don’t be afraid to start speeding up if you have the energy for it.

Once you pass the 5k mark, there should be no surprising elevation changes. If you didn’t burn yourself out on the first 5k, you should be able to pick up your pace and finish with a negative split. After the 5k mark, you will encounter a gentle downhill which should help you speed up.

Once you get to the 6km mark, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and see if you can run the last 2km faster.

As we can see, this course is not too “turny”.

Summing it up:

Take advantage of the longer, straighter and flatter parts of the course. The small changes in elevation should be hardly noticeable if you don’t start too fast.

Keep a conservative pace until you reach the turnaround point.

Enjoy the beautiful views of the countryside.

Last but not least, use this race as an opportunity to meet other people who also love the sport as much as you do.

I’ve made many friends at races and this is part of the reason why I keep coming back.

The other reason is that constant desire to get better.

Together, we form a community of active people who enjoy living a healthy lifestyle and help great charities in the process.

Lastly, you have a chance to win a FREE Island Race Series Registration. Here’s how: register for Run4Dreams before December 29th, 2017 and you will be in the draw. It’s that simple. Not only do you get a free pair of Run4Dreams athletic socks just for signing up for Run4Dreams, but you also get entered to win great draw prizes.

See you on the roads, my friends! 🙂

Run4Dreams in Victoria Sports News

I’m very excited to see that the results of Run4Dreams 2017 have been featured in Victoria Sports News.

Not only that, but our friends at Victoria Sports News also have a special promotional coupon code for 15% off registration for the 2018 Run4Dreams.

Below is a screenshot of the article.

When you click on the picture, it will take you straight to the Victoria Sports News article.

As a runner, you may be wondering: Why should I take part in Run4Dreams?

Here are all the reasons to take part in Run4Dreams:

  1. 100% of the net proceeds will be donated to Help Fill a Dream Foundation
  2. It allows you to take part in a 5k race on your own time and at your own convenience
  3. You automatically get entered to win awesome draw prizes
  4. The official Run4Dreams endur athletic socks are free with your registration (1 pair per person)
  5. You become part of a mission to make the world a better place.
  6. It enables you to be part of a supportive online community of runners and walkers of all levels
  7. Registration fees are reasonably priced (about the price of a beer and burger)
  8. You will be inspired by other Run4Dreams participants
  9. There are cash prizes for fastest time as well as most creative run.

This is definitely one of the easiest ways in which you can make a difference in the community. The goal of Run4Dreams is to make things better and to raise money for a great charity.

I’m so incredibly grateful for the Run4Dreams participants and draw prize sponsors who came on board in 2017. I’m also really grateful that I met the folks at Q Academy who are working with me to help me grow Run4Dreams in 2018. Last, but not least, I want to thank Chris Kelsall of VIctoria Sports News for featuring the Run4Dreams story.

Join us in making the world a better place 🙂

It’s Your Turn: An Open Letter To All Runners Wanting to Make a Difference

Dear Runner or Aspiring Runner:

If you are reading this, then that means you are wanting to make a positive impact on other people while taking part in your beloved sport. You are in love with running and it’s your mission to inspire your friends, family and coworkers.

Most people will probably stop reading this letter right about now, but you are different…

You know you want to make a difference in other people’s lives.

You know that running brings you the kind of joy that no amount of money can buy. Let’s face it, running is amazing. It’s healthy. It’s liberating. It allows you to meet great people and make friends.

A lot of times, you read stories about elite runners and celebrities attempting to make the world a better place. They build schools for underprivileged girls in Africa, they donate thousands of dollars to natural disaster relief or they build homes for the homeless.

When you read strories like that, you think to yourself: “I want to help too, but there is no way that I can make that much of a difference. I can’t compete with Ryan and Sara Hall’s ‘The Hall Steps Foundation’ that provides opportunities for disadvantaged children. I can’t match Taylor Swift’s $100,000 donation to Red Cross.”

The truth is, you don’t have to donate $100,000 to charity or run a sub-2:30 marathon in order to make a positive impact on other people. Your ability to inspire people starts with your desire to do so.

Elite athletes and celebrities get all the glory and now it’s your turn to make an impact. You are looking for an opportunity to enrich your life and the lives of those around you.

Maybe you are a running coach or fitness trainer or maybe you lead your local run group. Perhaps, you are a wellness coordinator at your work or a manager in your corporate organization. Maybe, you have never ran before but are wanting to start and are looking for a non-intimidating opportunity to experience running.

Whatever your case may be, you have found your way here. You have always dreamed of making an impact and now is your opportunity to do so.

How you can make a difference

You don’t need to donate $100,000. In fact, you don’t even need to donate $100. Not even $50.

Regardless of where you are, for about the price of a fancy beer and burger, you can sign up for Run4Dreams 2018: Virtual 5k for Help Fill a Dream Foundation. 

Since you decided to read this article, when you sign up for Run4Dreams, you can use the promo code YBFAT110517 to get 15% OFF your registration price (limited number available). You will also be entered to win draw prizes. Cash prizes are also available. The Run4Dreams website will be live soon and until then you can see all the details on the registration page.

Run4Dreams is a Virtual 5k Race, where the net proceeds from registration will be donated to Help Fill a Dream Foundation. Help Fill A Dream provides hope, help and happiness for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands’ children under the age of 19 with life-threatening conditions. Help Fill a Dream Foundation fulfils their dreams as well as assists their families with much-needed financial support.

At Run4Dreams, everyone who participates receives the respect they deserve. We value every participant because we all make a difference together. Even if it takes you over 1 hour to complete a 5k, you are still an elite athlete in our books.

Above: The first Run4Dreams raised $400 for Help Fill a Dream Foundation.

You may think, “What can one person possibly do? Will I really make a difference?” The truth is, if everyone stopped feeling like this and started to believe that you can make a difference, then we would soon see many positive changes in the world.

Change starts with you. One person.

Even if you decided not to sign up, you can still share this letter and the promo code with everyone who you believe wants to make a difference.

We can’t all be elites running a 5k in under 15 minutes, but we can take steps towards making the world a better place.

Let’s do this.


Yana (AKA Aspiring Dream-Maker, AKA Cubicle Dweller who Loves to Run)



4 Secrets to an Elite Attitude

Having an elite attitude is so much more than first place medals, achieving Olympic qualifying standards and getting sponsored by Nike or any other big company.

Quite frankly, there are some elite athletes who don’t have an elite attitude.

Just because you run a sub 15-min 5k, does not mean that you are better than everyone else.

At the same time, if it takes you over an hour to do a 5k, it doesn’t mean that you can’t display an elite attitude.

What are the 4 secrets to an elite attitude?

  1. Do not give up. Working out and running won’t always be fun. There will be days where you won’t want to get out the door. There will be times when after 1 mile you will want to turn around and go home (I’ve been there more times than I want to admit). It’s the choice you make on days like that that will determine whether you are displaying an elite attitude or not.
  2. Encourage other people. Being cocky because you are faster than other people is not conducive to an elite attitude. It’s important to be supportive of other people’s goals. You most definitely don’t tear other people down. Display your elite attitude by building people up, whether it’s in fitness, running, business and life. It’s very important to value every runner’s efforts, goals and potential.
  3. Your race times do not determine your self-worth. If you are reading this, I want you to know that you are worth so much more than the number beside your name on the “race results” page. Sure, you want to be a faster runner. However, don’t beat yourself up over what you consider a bad race time. Regardless of how fast you are, YOU are still an awesome, beautiful, healthy, productive and amazing person.
  4. Seek opportunities to learn. Every interaction with another runner is an opportunity to learn. With every training run and race, you learn more and more about yourself and your body. You begin to learn what works and what doesn’t work.

Final takaways

When it comes to having an elite attitude, the key is not beating yourself up. It’s a very difficult lesson to learn. Although we can’t all place first or win Olympic medals, we can still enjoy the sport and enjoy being part of an inclusive community filled with positive-minded and forward thinking people.

Let’s unite the running community and encourage everyone to have an elite attitude.

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