The Olympic Oval stadium, fresh off the Vancouver 2010 games
In a nutshell: Canadians are speedy and oh-so fit!
Out of the nutshell: Luckily, my jet lagged brain recovered and I actually got the start date and time of this race right. Since we are doing this trip spontaneous style, I was not sure that we would still be in the area (just south of Vancouver) on Sunday but once we decided to stick around, I was in! Running near an Olympic stadium? Yes, please!
I got up bright and early to sort myself out and grab some cash for registration – except the hotel ATM was broken. The area we were staying and the immediate location of the Oval were not spilling over with ATM machines, so I figured I would talk to the race staff and see what we could figure out. Upon arriving at the race day registration line, the sweetest Canadian women and a lovely young man (her son?) allowed me to sign up and suggested I try the machine in the Oval. Great! But then not great as that one was also broken! For real?? The woman was again sympathetic and allowed me to take my bib and chip, with the promise that I would pay after the run (which I did – you don’t want to mess with race juju).
I chatted with a few fellow racers and enjoyed the conversation, in no small part because of their accents! What is it about accents that makes listening to them so enjoyable? I looked around at the group, probably about 200-strong, and was impressed by the level of athleticism I was seeing. Perhaps it was the “Olympic effect” (don’t bother Googling that, I just made it up) but these people looked like they were here to run!You know what (besides their crazy defined quads) also gave away they were serious runners? The lack of iPods – unless that is just a Canadian race thing. But I interpreted it to mean that these folks were here to race, not just go for a jog along the river with Rihanna in their ears. I thought to myself “that is pretty great, good for them for being so serious!” and then I put my earbuds in 🙂
Not an out of shape one among them!
We soon lined up and were off! The course was an out and back, which are not typically my favorite, but there was a nice loop at the turn-around point to break up some of the linear feel. The further along the Fraser River we ran, the prettier it got:
The gal in the blue top immediately struck me as something special – not only because I delight in seeing older runners, but esp because I love seeing ones hauling ass! I later learned this was Lenore Montgomery, a multiple Canadian and World record holder in her 80s. She finished this 10k in 1:02! As if the Oval was not inspiration enough, Lenore was the icing on the cake for me!
Seaplanes are definitely not something I get to see on every run!
This was the West Dyke Trail and where the course really started getting pretty. The gravel trail was quite kind to my legs, the color of the flowers popped against the cloudy sky (which never released any rain, hurray!) and the swallows flew all around us.
By Mile 4 or so, the race had thinned out enough (ie, everyone was already done, lol) that runner-free vistas like this were possible. I was happy, however, a little while later when I caught up to some racers and was able to use them as targets to help me through the last miles.
Running on vacation can get tricky. Sundays are normally a short, easy shake-out run from the previous day’s long run. I know from experience, though, that it is hard for me to jog a race. I can control myself enough not to go all out, but not enough to keep it easy-breezy. So I decided to make my “long run” on Saturday 6.5 miles and do a tempo today – combined with what we ran on Friday (normally a rest day) the mileage would add up to what I needed for the weekend but my legs would not be totally shot. My plan was to take the first three miles at a not-hard-but-not-easy pace and second 3.2 at a tempo pace, and maybe slightly higher for my current fitness level. This worked out well and my Miles 1-3 splits were 9:19, 9:06, 8:56, Miles 4-6 were 8:19, 8:22, 7:57 and last .2 7:13 for an overall pace of 8:37. I’ll take it! I am still battling feelings of feeling slower than “normal”, but then I remind myself I have only been doing speed and tempo work for 3 weeks and I should really pipe down and be happy I can handle this speed at all right now!
Post-race, my 53:48 (53:38 said Garmy) time was good enough for 4/6 in my age group, lol. The third lady was only 25 seconds ahead of me. I wish I had known! Chasing someone in your age group is such a good way to speed up! But no matter, I had a great run and felt quite pleased with the effort. I also truly enjoyed watching the speedsters fly by me (a benefit to an out and back, I think I saw the winner pass me when I was about 15 minutes into my race!) and this adorable pair, holding hands as they finished:
Post-race, this well-oiled machine had some great features:
Post-race food – oranges, watermelon (yum!!), cantaloupe, scones, cinnamon buns plus Starbucks coffee (perfect to warm me after the chill from damp clothes set in) and H2O in water coolers to encourage bringing reusable containers. Well done!
Very good call on the raffle winners – instead of reading names to a half empty crowd at the end and continually having to draw new names until they find someone that is still around, this race simply put them on an easel for runners to scan when they returned and claim their prize. Smart!
Overall, I give high marks for this race. The runners were very friendly, the level of competition was great to watch (the winners were at least in the low 30s – I did not see race results yet – and this was part of the Lower Mainland race series, so lots of motivation for folks to floor it) and the organization was top-notch. The course turned out to be very pretty, I loved seeing the Olympic Oval and the race staff was fantastic. My only small complaint was that the race fee ($38CAD) seemed a bit high to me when there was no t-shirt or other swag, which I especially love when I am at an out-of-town race. But that is minor in a sea of compliments. Thanks Kajaks Track & Field Club!
I am an Olympian!!! Well, almost.