January 27, 2021

Race Recap: The month of personal bests

When I spent most of the year training in the trails, I did very little (if any) speed work. However, I did manage to build up a lot of strength and endurance, which translated really well in my fall races. As we all know, short distance personal bests are difficult to attain and I had absolutely no plans of trying to break them. So I approached each race with no expectations and really shocked myself.

North Van Run 5K

Last year I ran a very wet North Van Run 10k. What made a big impression on me from that course was how fast the 5k course was. I figured I would still be recovering after my first ultra so I opted for the shorter distance. Race day came and there’s not a raindrop in sight. The weather was perfect, maybe a little chilly. My only goal was to hang out and have fun so I decided to let my body decide what it wanted to do as soon as we started running. I knew I needed a pace faster than 5:20/km so I did the best I could including powering up the incline after the Automall and motoring down the hills. I kept people in my sights and passed whoever I could to gain some confidence. It was a good day, my legs seemed fresh so I really went for it.

Photo by Dave Mallari Photography
Mel led the 30 minute runners to their own PB’s!

Apparently, I can run faster now.

My 5K PB hasn’t been touched in years since I don’t race a lot of 5K’s. However, I did run a 5K time trial in training once, which was my unofficial PB of 26:40. At North Van Run, I shaved off 7 seconds with a 26:33! My last 5K race personal best was around a minute slower. Two ways to look at it, same result. A PB is a PB. I was pumped! After months of slow-moving legs through the mountains, it was nice to feel fast.

Definitely check out North Van Run next year. The 5K is mostly flat while the 10K has a long hill you have to climb on the way back on Low Level Road. This year’s swag included a comfy tech shirt, a beautifully-designed medal, and some post-race snacks. For those who live in the Lonsdale area or can quickly hop on a Seabus, the North Van Run Crew does weekly Sunday morning runs at The Shipyards. Join their Facebook group to stay up to date.

Granville Island Turkey Trot 10K

When I attended the anniversary of the Ice Cream and Donut Run Club (yes, it’s a thing and it’s awesome), I won an entry to the Granville Island Turkey Trot. I had only attended this event as a photographer a few years ago. You can see the photos here. It was nice to finally experience it as a runner this time around. I knew it was going to be a fun race because of the scenery, the flatness (mostly, except the Burrard Bridge), and the fun costumes people wear. A lot of people get creative and wear their Thanksgiving best! It’s a welcoming event to those who want a fast time or a fast walk.

Selfie with Karen from the Ice Cream and Donut Run Club. Thanks for the free entry!

Hometown advantage

I know the area quite well so the struggle was changing my mindset to not turn towards home at a certain point and keep the momentum going. Again, I let my body decide for me whether to try or not. My silent goal pace was 5:45/km. I found myself doing 5:30’s or less… even a 5:15/km on the north side of Burrard Bridge. Clearly, I was feeling pretty good and moving well with the runners. Once the course flattened out halfway in, my pace averaged at 5:30/km. This was tough as I didn’t have gravity to help me anymore. I had no choice but to maintain this speed under my own power.

It was great to see friends along the course like Amy at Olympic Village and then shortly after Mike from the Ice Cream and Donut Run Club, as he cheered on his wife Karen who was ahead of me. That gave me a power boost to keep myself going. At this point, I had 27 minutes to get a massive personal best and 3 km to go. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I knew I had it in the bag.

It’s not a race without a Chris Chan group selfie!

Note to self: find out where the finish line is before race day.

The whole time, I thought the finish line was at Performance Works where we started. I didn’t realize that they moved it closer to the seawall. I saw Cuski lined up near the turn into the island and he was telling me to sprint. Meanwhile, I was concerned about losing gas too quickly with the “long” finish up ahead. I didn’t realize that the arch was just meters away from me. I totally could’ve run harder than I did, but I had already gotten the time I wanted. On a slightly hillier course, I shaved off 2 minutes from last year’s personal best at Summerfast and I was over the moon. My chip time was 56:01, and as good as that is, I’m still so annoyed I didn’t haul ass at the finish. LOL Oh well… I’m just glad that a 55:xx is now within my grasp.

Okanagan Marathon 10K

Fuelled by Endurance Tap

OK so I had another race lined up, last minute. It all started with my sister signing up for her first marathon at the Okanagan Marathon. We decided to go cheer her on as a family but since FOMO was on my mind, I signed up for the 10K for fun and convinced my mom and her partner to sign up for the 10K walk. In the back of my mind, I was gunning for a sub-56 personal best less than a week after the last race. I told a few people my goal but wasn’t sure if I was jinxing myself or psyching myself up. I inadvertently added more pressure to the race than I wanted.

The Okanagan Marathon courses are known for its flatness. Some friends ran it last year and got PB’s all around. I thought my chances were good, if I could maintain my pace without the aid of gravity. Race day was perfect, no rain but a bit chilly. From the get go, I was ready and willing to put in a hard effort to reach my goal. I focused on a 5:30/km pace which would get me to a 55 minute 10K. Figured that’s a lot of padding in case I get in trouble… and boy I did.

Less than 2K left!

Fighting through the second half

On my way to a personal best

My pace was pretty even for the most part until I got a side stitch at the 7 km mark. My pace spiked to 5:45 and it was a struggle to get it back to 5:30. After a lot of mental math, I knew I was on track but I still had to work hard for it. No slacking for me but thank goodness, the course scenery improved which became a pleasant distraction from the pain I was experiencing. The last couple kilometers of the race were along the beautiful backdrop of Okanagan Lake. A new personal best was in reach.

At about 700 meters to go, I noticed a woman next to me start walking. I cheered her on and told her it wasn’t far and she started running again. Hopefully, she got the time she wanted, just like I did. I finished strong with a time of 55:41, a personal best 20 seconds faster than the Turkey Trot 6 days ago. It was a hard-fought achievement for me but not as hard as my sister Robbi’s, which is definitely worth mentioning.

That’s a wrap for the year!

My sister is a marathoner!

I’m happy to say that my sister finished her first marathon with a time of 5:49:05. We saw her several times along the course, smiling and looking determined to crush this thing, which she did. Her boyfriend Mark and his cousin Nicole ran their first marathon as well and the three of them together raised funds for rare kidney cancer research. Friends and family generously donated over $4,000 USD to benefit Henske Lab at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, which conducts research into a rare sub-type of kidney cancer called Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma (or ChRCC).

Marathoner sisters!
Selfie with my mom and Amanda showing off our medals

I’m so proud of them for not only conquering a physical challenge but also helping to find a cure for people affected by this disease. Congrats to all of you! If you would like to donate to their campaign, you can do so here.

As for my mom and her partner Amanda, they finished the 10K walk much faster than I thought! It was both their first 10K event and they had a lot of fun walking through the streets of Kelowna. Great job you two! Personal bests for the entire family.

What’s Next

Capra 30×30

I don’t really have any races lined up right now so I’m glad to end off this year with a bang. But up next… more blogging and running for fun, including the Capra 30×30 challenge. There’s still time to sign up. Signing up means committing to running at least 30 minutes per day in November. The motivational support is great, the prizes are even better this year, and there’s even a party at the end of it all. I did it last year on a last minute whim and had so much fun that I signed up on the first day registration went live this year. It doesn’t matter where you live, you can do it as long as you can run outside or on a treadmill.

Moustache Miler

I have been volunteering my time with the Moustache Miler this year and I’m so excited to see this event come to fruition. Race day is on November 23rd and it’s a 1-mile and 5K race benefiting the Movember Foundation. Come race, cheer, or volunteer. Either way, we’d love to have you. Our goal is to raise $30,000 which will go towards men’s cancer research and mental health initiatives. There are two pre-race events happening including the Kick-Off Social on November 1st (get on the waitlist) and the Mental Health and Movement Panel Night on November 12th, which you can still RSVP for. We also created some videos, which can be seen on the MoMiler website, telling real stories of people affected by the causes Movember supports. Please watch and see why this cause is important to us.

I’ll be taking photos this year once again so hope to see you there on race day!

Thanks for reading my recap! What about you? What were your memorable personal bests? Share them with me in the comments below.

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