My first attempt at the half marathon

51:24 10km PR!

Had my first TC10K experience yesterday. I didn’t break 50mins, but I did beat my 10km PR by about a minute, so I was happy!  Despite waiting in the cold and the throngs of people, it was a great run.  My boyfriend, his friend and I made our way up to the 40-49 category because we noticed a bunch of 60+’ers where we were standing; I had never run this race before, but my boyfriend told me it’s slow going at the start, so if I wanted to run it fast we should probably move up.  And slow-going at the start it was!  Thirteen thousand runners made their way alongside Beacon Hill Park and out onto Dallas Road.  It’s funny where you run in a crowded race – I had no idea where I was until we hit the turnaround around the 4km mark.  The runners spaced themselves out a bit, but it was honestly shoulder-to-shoulder right until the last 2km.   I did manage to stay within a few metres of my boyfriend the whole way, until the last km when he decided he wasn’t going to let me win this time; he only beat me by about 15 seconds though!

The run itself went great; I managed to keep a 5:40 pace for the first few kms then picked it up to a 5:15 half way through.  After the hill at Cloverpoint, I ran about a 5:00 right until then finish line.  I actually ran a negative split, which I can NEVER seem to bring myself to do.  I usually want to gun it right off the start, because I’m afraid I won’t have the energy to finish strong if I’m too slow at the start.  But I did it (mostly because you couldn’t even move fast through the crowd of people  even if you wanted to), and it worked.  I’m definitely going to try it for the half in Vancouver next week.  I didn’t feel at all fatigued by the end, although my knees started to bug me a bit.  If I didn’t have the half next week I might have pushed myself a little harder, but I’m happy with that time for now.  Overall it was a great race, and I can’t wait for next year!

“Don’t think ‘I have to run’, think ‘I get to run'”

I think it was this past Halloween when a friend came up to me in a bar, both of us in costume (me as a cat, her as a Greek goddess), and told me that I was an “inspiration” because I ran a half marathon.  It was funny because we were on a pub crawl, well on our way to inebriation, and running was the last thing on my mind.  But it was on her mind, and we must have talked (or slurred)  for a good 20 minutes about running; how she used to run but kind of lost interest in it, and how she wanted to get back into it and I inspired her to try it again.  I was flattered, of course, since I didn’t really consider myself a ‘runner’ at that point.  I only really got into it last summer, and the RVM Half was my first event ever. I would post updates on my Facebook page about my run times, and get the “Likes This” thumbs-up from the majority of my girlfriends, my Greek goddess friend included.  Six months later, she is about to compete in her first 10km, and it’s my turn to give her the thumbs-up – I couldn’t be prouder that she stuck with it.

This upcoming TC10k event will be my first TC10k – I’ve wanted to do it forever but I’ve always had to work on Sundays.  I know I shouldn’t be racing, since I have the BMO Half to do next weekend, but I want to be out there with everyone – from the fast and sinewy elites to the nervous and excited first-timers.  I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, and I wish everyone (including my fresh-outta-the-running-clinic girlfriends Ashley and Kristy) good luck and a great run!


Maui trip last yearTwo weekends in a row of being confined to my small twin bed, propped up with pillows and an elderly tabby cat at my feet, outdated lap top whirring away and keeping my legs warm. I go from my awesome Friday morning lakeside runs to feeling like a paraplegic.  Ugh… homework I hate you.

One more week until my first half marathon ever.  I’m feeling pretty confident I can keep a good pace, and maybe, just MAYBE run it in 2 hours.  I put down on the registration form that I would run it in 2:30, and so far clocked myself at around 2:07 for 21.2km.  Yesterday, I ran 20km in 1:50 – beat my personal best by about 8 minutes! Insane! If I can keep that pace from next Sunday, I’ll be pretty happy.  But then what? I really look forward to those Friday runs, training rather than just getting exercise.  Cocincidently, my mom and I were talking about going to Maui again this January around the time of the Maui Oceanfront Marathon…how amazing would that be to do?  Would it even be possible to train in Victoria’s crappy winter weather for four months to run for a full four hours in Maui weather? I almost feel like a half would be too easy for me in four months if I kept up this training pace.  Maybe…just maybe.


I knew I would fall behind in my goal of writing one post per week.  It’s okay though, because not much has happened.  Just a lot of school, running and eating.  I heard that people new to marathons tend to gain weight when you train, which makes sense to me now, because I am constantly ravenous it seems.  All this running seems to  justify my recent indulgences coconut gelato… calories in, calories out, right?

I’m fairly excited about my writing classes so far.  Our assignment for my creative non-fiction class is to write the first two chapters of a novel we may or may not end up writing.  I have an idea, but I’m not sure if it will transfer into a novel…maybe a nice short story though.  It’s nice to finally have the opportunity to write… it’s funny, I always get jealous when I hear about young authors winning awards or having their work published…but really, I haven’t even attempted to write anything that wasn’t a school assignment, cover letter or blog post.  The only publishable piece I wrote was a magazine article on an obsessive compulsive disorder for a women’s health magazine.  Of course, being an assignment – that I actually ended up getting %100 on – I never did anything with it other than hand it in to the teacher.  I might put it up on here, because it’s something I would like others to read, more for the information than anything else.

Web design class is a thorn in my side – not because I don’t understand technology, but because I like to learn and know things right away by clicking around rather than reading directions.  Honestly, who actually reads the manual?  I like to figure things out on my own in time, but we don’t have that luxury in class, so I better hurry up and understand how to put my html files on the web properly.  Also, if anyone has a Dreamweaver key they would like to donate to me, I will love you forever 🙂

Back to running – today was the last big run before the half.  Everything felt great, had loads of energy and minimal knee pain.  I would still like to get some of those technical running capris with the knee support…it’s also getting chillier in the  mornings, and shorts are not warm enough.  Ran a 22km in 2:12, and I think I was about 2:07 for the half marathon mark.  I want to be at 2:05, or even 2, but I don’t think I can muster that unless the route has less hills…which reminds me, I should probably take a look at the route to see what to expect!

20 km worth of beer

I wonder if two days of Beerfest will set me back in my training..I don’t even like beer, why did I go both days??

Just a sample of the 2009 Great Canadian Beer Festival go-ers

Love the homemade capes (one had “Dirt Bag” written on the back).  Other costumes included a giant banana, lots of lederhosen, and a panada.  Beerfest on Saturday has basically become a pre-Halloween party – which is fun and all – but if you are in it for the beer, Friday is your best bet; less people, less debauchery, more beer and shorter line ups.

Some of the highlights for myself, a non-beer drinker, included the black cherry and raspberry beer at Lindeman’s booth  (an Australian brewery), and the Jamaican Hibiscus beer – both of which we will begin carrying at Cascadia Liquor.  They are 11% and taste more like a sparkling juice than a beer, which was fine by me! 

Prior to checking out Beerfest on Friday, I ran 20 km at Elk Lake in 1:57.  My goal is to do the half marathon in 2 hours…I’m so close! 

I started out a lot faster than previous runs, which might be why I felt decent until the last 3 kms, then things started to hurt.   I also swallowed a massive bug – sucked that thing right down into the back of my throat.  I downed a bunch of water but I swear it was still alive,  trying to make its way up out of my throat for at least a kilometer.  I tried coughing it up (in an effort to conserve my water supply – I was only 10km in at that point) but that started to throw off my breathing and make other runners look at me with concern…ugh.  I thought at the end of my run I would cough bugs up everywhere, a la The Green Mile.  Thankfully, I regained my focus and forgot about the bug just long enough to finish my run. 

This Friday will be a 22 or 23, then I will start to taper down from there.  I don’t know what I’m going to do when the race is over…I love having something to work towards!!  I’m going to sign up for the Bear Mountain 10 km I think, I heard that run is pretty grueling. 

By the way, if any of you haven’t found this website yet, you should check it out – – I uploaded some of my routes on there, although the distance seems a bit off.  It’s a searchable database of cycling/running/walking routes in your area that shows distance, terrain, times, calories burnt, etc. using a Google map.  I was hoping to find another 20km route NOT on roadways, but no such luck yet.  Looks like it will be Elk Lake again this Friday!


I’m sitting in ‘my spot’ at UVic, the one that is always vacant in the first few weeks of school until others with food and a lap top discover the greatness of the convenient wall outlet/ability to snack/sprawl out on the carpet combination.  I have a two hour break before my next class, then another hour break before my last.  Lap tops are a great way to waste time.

So far I’m feeling excited about my classes.  The prof teaching journalism is all about the investigative reporting and unearthing corruption…the class will get divided into ‘beats’ and will  investigate random stories via the net, conduct interviews, all of that fun stuff.  I was scared all we would be doing is writing “Life as a Student” stories for the Martlet or something.  I definitely have some ideas for conspiracies I’ve always wanted to look into (I think it’s far too convenient that dermatologist recommend a ‘shot glass’ amount of sunscreen be applied everyday, and that magazines do feature after feature about sun damage and oh, by the way, we recommend these products and OH LOOK, there’s an ad for that product every women must have on the next page! anyways…)

My next class was an anthropology class about AIDS.  All lectures, all notes available online, one $10 textbook, all journal articles available online, two tests, one final and a research proposal.  I love classes like that; I’m not into group work or presentations whatsoever…I always end up doing the majority of the project because a) I don’t trust other people to do their share and do it well, and b) because other people usually don’t even bother doing their share to begin with.  I also hate public speaking.  That’s why I want to be a writer…I have things to say, but like to hide behind a computer to say them.

I think I will be posting a lot less, since school and work will be taking up the majority of my time.  That said, though, I will post all my journalism and other writing work.  I am taking a long nonfiction class, as well as a web design course run out of the english department.  I have an awesome idea for a website (for all of you Vancouver Island runners/hikers/bikers, you will love it!) that I hope to get up and running out of that class. 

Speaking of running, I ran a 16km last week and beat my 10km time by 8 minutes!  I headed out to Elk/Beaver Lake, with about 30 other runners  (well, not WITH with them, but everyone seemed to have the same idea as I did that morning).  I had one of those Cliff Shots this time, and I swear that gave me a boost;  I actually started sprinting for the last 3 kms, and finished in 1:27.  I ran a 1:23 13 km the other day…not bad!

 Tomorrow I will be doing two laps of Elk/Beaver Lake, so a 20km, then heading to the Great Canadian Beer Festival to pile back on those thousand or so calories I will burn by running for two hours.  I’m supposed to be tasting beers and taking notes for the liquor store I work at…and I don’t really even like beer.  Somehow I scored saturday tickets, too…might have to hit the gym tonight to make up for this weekend.

Why am I running?

Me: “Just did 13 km today, it felt great, no knee pain or anything!”

Mom: Look of concern. “Oh that’s too much, why would you do that? You have knee pain? Why are you running?”

So much for encouragement from my mom. 

Myself and the girls hiking Mt. Finlayson

Myself and the girls hiking Mt. Finlayson

Why am I running?  Because I can. Because it keeps me healthy.  Because I know if I need to run for my life from a crazy knife-wielding person I can. Because it keeps me sane .  And also because I can’t seem to excel at any other sport requiring hand-eye coordination or a team player attitude. 

I found my elementary school teacher report forms not long ago, and read with conviction how “Brianne excels in reading, writing and math, but needs to participate more during P.E.” One report from a grade four teacher said that I “pretend to get tagged out all the time and sit down even when I haven’t.”  I had to laugh at that – that is definitely something I can see my 10-year-old self doing! 

Things didn’t change at all when I got to middle school – it just got worse.  I could barely run for one minute without getting cramps.  I hated the dreaded ‘Dunford Run’ on Fridays, where students had to run four blocks in a square; if we beat the teacher, we got a six. Every minute after that one point was taken off, and the group of girls walking in last (myself included) would get zero.  I think I never had higher than a C- in P.E. throughout my secondary school years – shitty, considering I actually had decent grades otherwise.

It wasn’t just running I couldn’t do, it was any team sports.  I hated them all.  I hated being so bad that I would let the team down, or looking like a fool because I didn’t know what I was doing.  I tried at the start, but couldn’t pick it up as fast as others could.  It’s not like I sat around at home doing nothing; I loved rollerblading, biking, hiking and swimming on my own time or with friends.  The thing I didn’t like was the team aspect – I like doing things for myself, beating my own goals and seeing how far I can push myself.  Individual sports, featuring myself –  go Team Bri!

That’s the beauty of running.  Yes, you can compete against others, but most people I know that run do it for themselves, trying to beat their best time rather than beat someone else’s. Not to place the blame elsewhere, but if teachers taught running the way I think of it now, maybe I would have tried harder. 

My parents never pushed me into extra curricular activities; actually, I think they were quite relieved I didn’t want to do anything on a team or with other people (saved them major $$$). The problem is they got so used to me not doing anything physical that now they can’t understand why I would want to start.  Every time I head downstairs in the morning with my helmet and bike gloves on, ready for my hour-long bike into town to work, my mom gives me this oh-that’s-too-much-for-you look.  When I told them I entered the half marathon, they barely acknowledged it.  Maybe I’m looking for the approval I missed out on by missing out on team sports.  Sure, I got accolades for my good grades and various honor roll awards, but it’s a different feeling having your parents cheer you on from the sidelines of a sporting event. 

I guess I’m too old to be looking for that kind of approval – really, I should be focusing on graduating university and getting an awesome career and moving out…but I just can’t help but be a little disappointed when I come home, sweaty and flushed from a 13 km run, to my mom telling me that maybe I’m doing too much.  Then again, all that makes me want to do is try even harder to show them that I can do too much, and even more than that.

Loves the Glorified Fanny Pack!

Today is my “rest” day.  I would like to lounge around in the courtyard with some trash magazines, expose myself to some UVB rays and drink diet coke all afternoon, but there’s cleaning to do.

Yesterday I tackled the Jeep interior; carpets were pulled out, taken to the Co-Op and powerwashed, a colony of something growing underneath the front seats was scrubbed away from the paint, and the basin of the Jeep was rinsed out.  I must invest in a soft top for next summer… I don’t want to deal with these carpets again!

Training has been going well, but I feel I need to step it up a notch.  This week I did three 30 minute runs on the treadmill, one 35 minute run on a hilly route outside, a two hour bike ride, a one hour 10 km yesterday at Elk and Beaver Lake, and two 30 minute strength training sessions.  I only have about seven weeks left until the half, but only so much time in the day to dedicate to running… what’s going to happen when school starts and I have homework on top of work and classes? I guess I’ll have no social life?

Speaking of running, I now have a glorified fanny pack, aka a “hydration belt”, to help me get through longer runs.  I ran with it yesterday, and actually it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.  I love the fact I don’t have to hold anything while I run – keys, phone, and gel in the pack, and two bottles of H2O on either side of my hip.  Other items on my wanted list for running: Ironman watch, capri running pants for knee support, comfier sports bra.  I thought running would be a cheap sport for me to get into…

More on running.  A friend sent me this to get inspired, it’s kind of neat.

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