Monday, July 27, 2009

Guest Post: Trail Mix by Nathan

This post was contributed by my good friend and fellow runner, Jeannie. Please check out Jeannie's own blog, here: "Somewhere There is Jeannie". You can also follow Jeannie on twitter at:

And now....Jeannie's post!

I finally found a fuel belt that I am very pleased with after some research and unsatisfactory trials with other belts. The belt is Trail Mix by Nathan. I couldn't ask for a better fuel belt.

My main criteria for the belt is that it needs to have a sizeable storage for my iPhone, keys, chapstick, ID card, Metrocard, and some emergency cash.

The large pocket on the Trail Mix is able to do that comfortably. In fact, you can fit almost any handheld device in the main pocket. You can hold your cell phone, Blackberry, and iPhone or iPod Touch. There is an outer mesh pocket; where I stored my chapstick or hard candy for easy access.

It's very roomy but you don't necessarily want to pack the mesh pocket full of stuff; it then becomes an unsightly bulge.

There is an inner pocket for storing your ID card and money with a Velcro closure. There's even a clip for your keys, which you can tuck into the inner pocket.

The belt also features two holsters with two 10 oz. water bottles; which lasted me during my one hour run. The holsters held the bottles in place during my run. I was able to grab the bottles and return them to the holsters. The bottles did not leak during the run.
Another feature of the belt are the adjustable ties for holding towels or jackets. That's where I secured my little hand towel to wipe away the sweat from my face.

When I first put it on and ran with it, I noticed a bit of chaffing and the belt would begin to shift. I realized that I probably didn't tighten the belt enough. Once I adjusted the belt, the chaffing and shifting stopped. I wear mine with the pocket to the side as opposed to the back; it is a snug hug.

The Trail Mix is only available in grey with yellow accents. The color works for both men and women. I would have liked the belt to come in a variety of colors like magenta, or black.

Storage wise, the Trail Mix fulfilled my requirements, and then some more. I highly recommend this belt to runners who are looking to keep their hands free and are looking to hold a little more than something larger than a credit card. For longer runs two 10 oz. bottles may not be enough. Nathan does offer belts with 4 bottles are a single large one.

Check out their website here for other products by Nathan.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Race Wish List

Here's an excerpt from an e-mail I wrote recently to my Team Point Two Marathon Advisor  John Ellis. I sent him this after we both decided it would be a good idea to incorporate some races into my training for the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on December 6th.

Hi John,

FYI: Here's a list of races in my area I'd be interested in. Any of these would be great - I don't have any preferences, except:

1.It would be nice if I could do one on July 26th. I'll be in bored because Ian's out of town that weekend with "the boyz".

2. I'd like to do the half-marathon on Sept. 20th with Ian (his first - he'll probably beat me anyway!)

Here's the list, with a little history on why each race is included:
Jul 26
Super nice setting right on Jericho Beach. I did the 5K last year and WON my age group (it wasn't even a PR).

The Zone @ 91-3 Esquimalt 8k
Its on Vancouver Island so I can stay at my Dad's and he's likely to take me for lunch afterwards. Not to mention I've never done an 8K before (guaranteed PR!)

Aug 9
It's flat. I did the 5K last year, and had a cold so it would be nice to have a do over. They have medals for both distances. Delta's not far from where my sister lives in White Rock.

Aug 16
If I don't do the 8K on July 26th then this is another chance for my first 8K (=guaranteed PR). It's right by the new Richmond Speed Skating Oval, one of the venues constructed for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It's bound to be flat, being in Richmond, which is flat.

CFB Esquimalt Navy 10K
See The Zone @ 91-3 Esquimalt 8k on July 26th, minus the part about being an 8K.

Sep 13
Guaranteed PR, never done a 14K race before. Point to point, which is always nice.  Ends at a festival celebrating the return of the Coho salmon to the North Shore.

Sep 20
My old town of White Rock, right on the Canada-USA border. My sister is almost guaranteed to show up, and I can stay at her house the night before and eat a delicious, home-cooked meal.
Oct 18
Diva on the Run Half Marathon & 10K
A race for girls only, like the other Diva races - there's also a very scenic route on a gravel path next to the beach.

Oktoberfest Brewski-Daddle 2.5k, 5k
A race sponsored by a microbrewery, need I say more?  

Oct 24
Cute name, sounds fun. Unlikely to attract serious competition.  This is not a bad thing.

Oct 25
Guaranteed PR (weird distance, huh?). Running on the seawall is nice. James Cunningham was an accomplished stone mason who oversaw the construction of the seawall in Vancouver from the 1930s until his death in 1963.

Nov 15
This is the last great race of the year in Vancouver, and the course is on my Alma Mater's campus. Lovely, big trees all around and usually a pretty big event.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Big Announcement!

Ok, everyone, ready for the big news? 

Here it is:  I'm switching fall marathons!  (Gotcha!)

Yes, that's right.  Instead of attempting a Boston Qualifying time (3:45 or less) at the Queen City Marathon in Regina, Saskatchewan on September 13th, I'll be going for gold at the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon on December 6th.

Why the change?  I don't have a lot of time to wax poetically this week, so I'll sum up the top 10 reasons in point form:

1. My Team Point Two cohort, Jamie, is running it AND going for the same time goal as me!

2. It's supposed to be a fast, flat course.

3. It's in my time zone.

4. It's a relatively short, easy flight.

5. There are some wicked air / hotel pacakages available on Expedia.

6. It will be a fun destination for both myself and Ian.

7. Rock 'n' Roll marathons are supposed to be super fun!  Lots of live bands and spectators!

8. The fun location might entice more of my friends and family to turn up.

9. It will give me and my Marathon Advisor, Team Point Two's Intrepid Leader John Ellis 12 more weeks to get me ready.

10. I may just win the jackpot.  Slots, blackjack, Texas hold 'em...It doesn't matter.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Race Report: Scotiabank Half-Marathon

I was sold on the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon because of this:

Course profile
Yes, as you can see, the race features a long downhill section just before the halfway mark.  I've run up and down this hill a bunch of times, and I can tell you it's a lot more fun to run down than up.  The race was also a point to point, starting at the thickly forested University of British Columbia campus and ending in Stanley Park, which is a stunning urban park.  I was sold, and signed up in February.
In March, one of the e-mail bulletins from the race organizers mentioned that runners had the option to choose one of 15 different charities to raise money for by running the half-marathon.  Having just lost my dog Fred a few days before, who we'd adopted from the SPCA in 2002, I decided to run the race in  his honour by raising money for the SPCA.  I set my fundraising goal at $1310 ($100 for every mile) and started the campaign.  This was my first experience raising money through running and I am sure it won't be my last.  I was able to raise just over $2000 for a very worthy cause.
I picked up my race package on Saturday afternoon at a local hotel and was greeted by friendly, well-organized volunteers who quickly found my bib and chip, scanned the chip, and then sent me to the T-shirt table. 
This is where things get interesting.  I held up the shirt to see how big their "medium" was.  In this case, medium was huge and I asked if I could get a small.  Instead of being told what that process was for requesting a different size, the crotchety old guy working the T-shirt counter grumbled:  "Over my dead body" and started blathering on about how it's not the way they do things...etc...etc....etc.  As I started to walk away, he made this remark: "You ordered a medium, what happened to you?"
Anyway, to make a long story short, I got my small.  But obviously the volunteers were not instructed what to do if someone asks for a different size, which I think is strange.

On race day, I drove up to the university campus, parked, and jogged about a mile to the start.  I was annoyed yet again when I got to the gear check table to find out there was a $2 cash charge to check bags.  That was a first for me.  Do people have change with them on race days? (our $1 and $2 are coins up here in Canada).  Why didn't they just roll the two bucks into the cost of the race?  Luckily, a nice gentleman behind me in line spotted me so I wouldn't have to run with my backpack.
With about 20 minutes until gun time I headed off to try to find a safety pin and use the potty.  I only had 3 pins and thought the late registration counter was a good bet.  Nope.  They had long since run out.  Slightly irritated, but with no time to waste, I headed to the port-o-potty area to find this:
Port-a-Potty line with only a few mintues until the start
It's safe to say the organizers didn't have enough port-o-potties for the 5000 runners who showed up.  The line was super long all the way until the start.  I jumped out of my little unit with about 2 minutes to spare!
Two minutes went fast, the air horn sounded, and we were off.  I spotted my Twitter buddy, triathlete, podcaster, and blogger extraordinaire Erin (@erin337).  She was holding a huge pink sign with my Twitter name on it (@runningbebe) as well of those of a few other Twitter runners.
The first couple of miles I definitly ran a bit too fast at about 8 minutes each.  I  had to regroup between miles 3 and 4 and took a bit of a walk break, followed by a jog.  Then I got my groove back and settled in.
Tree lined street at UBC taken during my little break

The rest of the race went rather smoothly.  As predicted I thoroughly enjoyed running down the long hill.  After the hill there was a long stretch along the shoreline near Spanish Banks, which is very scenic.  I took short walk breaks at all the water stations and alternated water and Gatorade.

There were two significant uphills where a lot of people walked (miles 8 & 10), but instead I just took it down to a jog and kept myself running.  I had hoped to be able to speed up a lot after the Burrard Bridge (the last uphill) for the last few miles, but I was pretty tired by then and could only manage the normal pace.

With 0.1 miles left I sprinted past everyone I could see for the dramatic finish.  Sadly nobody I know was there to see the heroics and I had to settle for congratulating myself.

I did know my mom was working at one of the food tables, however, and after getting my medal and catching my breath I set off to find her.

Me after the finish, picture taken by my Mom...

I found my mom working the bagel table, like quite the pro, and she was kind enough to take my picture with the fancy new hardware.
My mom working the bagel table.  First race I've done with my mom volunteering
Around this time I started texting back and forth with Winnie and Dana (@WinnieYeo and @CDNRunningGirl) - two more Twitter friends.  This would be our first meeting in person after many conversations online, which is always fun.  We finally met up near the gear pickup tent and had a nice little chat.  Winnie had completed the half marathon in around 2:20 and Dana was kind enough to come out to meet us even though she wasn't racing.

Left to Right:  Me, Dana (@CDNRunningGirl), and Winne (@WinneYeo)

Even though there were a few snags with the organization, I would still recommend this race to anyone looking to do a fun half-marathon in the Vancouver area.  The scenery is very beautiful and it's a fast course.

This Week's Mileage (12 Weeks to QCM):
Planned:  36 miles
Actual:  29.1 miles
Reason:  Made a mistake on Thursday and only did 1 mile warmup and cooldown instead of 1.5 miles each, skipped a 6 mile run on Saturday (the day before the 1/2 marathon) because I only slept 5 hours on Friday night and was too tired.