Category Archives: reviews

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Why was my preview no longer valid?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!

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.

WHAT??

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!

 

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.

2015 Season Recap: Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run Series

Yet another Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run season has come to an end. The series was previously known as The Q’s Victoria Run Series and 2015 was its first year with the new title sponsor.

In addition to changing the title sponsor, they also changed their charity partnership. For several years before, The Mustard Seed Food Bank was the charity partner. This year, it was KidSport.

Over the past few years, the series raised over $12,000 for charity and that’s awesome.

By the end of the season, I definitely got to know everyone. This was my 2nd year participating in the series and it was great to meet all the prolific racers who come back for more fun year after year.

Seriously, I think there is a good reason why some people have been racing every single race of this series ever since it first started.

ChristiePhoenix2015_Award

Above: So excited to add another medal to my collection. 1st place in Age Group Overall.

I’m super stoked that I will be able to participate next year. Since I won my age category for the entire series, I won a free 2016 season pass. 🙂 Not only that, but my name also got drawn for a free pair of shoes. SCORE!!!

VicRunSeriesAwards2015

Above: Photo by Chris Kelsall from the Awards & Silent Auction Night.

The silent auction to celebrate the end of the season was excellent. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday night than be surrounded by like-minded people who love running as much as I do. All the money goes to charity and there are some really fantastic items to bid on.

What I really like about this series is that it’s not expensive to enter, the medals are great, and the atmosphere is awesome.

I swear, this is a very fun experience. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be super fast and super young to participate in the track races. Runners of all levels and ages are welcome!

If you’re reading this and wondering whether or not you should do it…I think you should.

 

My 5 Takeaways from Usain Bolt’s “Faster than Lightning”

A while ago, I finished reading Usain Bolt’s autobiography called “Faster than Lightning.”

Ever since I first witnessed Usain Bolt winning multiple Olympic gold medals, I became more inspired. For a long time, I’ve been wanting to see what goes on inside his head in order to learn how champions think.

UsainBoltBook

I wanted to know what he went through to get to the top, in order to understand what it takes to continuously get better, faster, stronger.

This book was definitely an inspiring eye opener.

The way Usain Bolt faced his challenges was nothing short of admirable. He persevered in times when most people would have given up.

First, he was diagnosed with an unusual back condition that derailed his training. Then, he was in a potentially career-ending car accident in 2009 if he had not been lucky enough to escape serious injuries.

He is definitely a role model to many. Although realistically the majority of athletes may not reach his level of success, fame and fortune, we can all learn something from him that will help us all get better.

Below are my takeaways from the book.

1. Relax before races. Worrying about a race or who you are competing against will not help you perform better. In fact, it will cause unnecessary stress, which is detrimental to your performance. You already did all the work leading up to the race, so why worry about any outcomes that you really can’t control?

2. Manage your injuries. As an athlete, you must learn to be aware of your body. If you catch an injury early enough and take care of it properly, you will prevent a disaster in the future.

3. The point of no return. My understanding is that if an athlete is healthy, then it’s acceptable for him/her to experience the point of no return a few times during their training cycle. This is the type of workout where you test your limits. You push yourself harder than you ever have before to see what you are made of. However, one has to be careful with this one and ensure adequate recovery after a session like this (example: intervals).

4. Believe in yourself. Regardless of what was happening in his life, Usain Bolt learned to believe in himself. He thought like a champion. It doesn’t really matter how good you are, if you love your sport, you will keep trying to get better. However, before you can do that, you have to believe that you can.

5. Compete and train with the best. You have to strive to be the cream of the crop, not cream of the crap. If you’re always competing with those who are weaker and slower than you, then you won’t get any better. Training and competing with the best will push you to step up your game.

Usain’s story is very inspiring and I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to learn about him. I give this book 5 stars for the inspiration and I encourage every aspiring athlete to read it. It’s entertaining, motivating and informative. The road to success is not always paved with gold.

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