Running Updates


Kind of a quick post before I head to a yoga class with my favourite teacher in Vancouver!  I feel super lucky to be in Vancouver with the beautiful and mild weather and gorgeous trails. Nothing beats running on a path between trees!

This week was week 8 in training for the Around the Bay 30km race at the end of March. Long run this week was 24km, I had to rearrange a few of my runs to fit my work schedule so ended up doing my long run today (Monday). I’ve been having a problem lately with wanting to do all of my runs fast, and I definitely didn’t want to do my first long run since the half marathon last week fast and get injured. So the plan was yesterday I would do my 10km run in the afternoon/early evening instead of in the morning as usual.


That 10km went well and this morning I woke up still a little sore from yesterday’s effort which was good because there was no way I was pushing it for my 24km today.  Somehow still managed a 6:35 min/km average pace for the 24km run today which is crazy for me because last year at this time I was averaging a 7:00-7:30 min/km pace (let’s just say I took a lot of walk breaks as well). Man though this run was pretty hard, I ended with salt flecks dried all on my face and a permanent grimace through the last 5km.. but I didn’t give up!


In case you didn’t already know, I’m pretty awesome and my friends think so too especially when they receive pictures like these on Snapchat.


I’m actually on my second container already of that massive tub of yoghurt, such a great find and buy!

Not so much of a great purchase was this massive bag of popcorn from Kernels. The flavour I got is called West Coast Wave and omg it’s a combination of white cheddar cheese popcorn mixed with double hit caramel popcorn and I know that combination sounds weird and maybe even gross but when you try it AHH I couldn’t stop eating it. It’s embarrassing how quickly I finished this bag.


Exciting news! I’ve officially chosen and registered for my spring marathon: the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Registration was a little pricey compared to other marathons but I am hoping it will be well worth it and that there is still food left at the finish line by the time I am done running 42.2km.

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This quote was on their website, I couldn’t help but giggle.

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I can’t think of anything that would make me want to wish I was running more than 42.2 km. Even an extra 100m hurts.

Another exciting update! My sister and I have officially registered for the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon in August! It’s also in Vancouver, BC and I’m pumped. Registration sold out in an hour so I’m super happy we both managed to register. Her half marathon PR is 2:19 and the plan is to pace her to a 2:10 finish 🙂

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That’s all for now, I’ll be back in the next day or two with a recipe I’m stoked to share with you!


Chilly Chase Half Marathon 2014: Race Recap


Yesterday I ran the Try Events Vancouver Chilly Chase Half Marathon. I found out about this half marathon a couple of weeks ago, and signed up last minute knowing that it would fit in well with my Around the Bay 30km training schedule. I had do to a 22km run yesterday anyways so I thought racing a half marathon would be a good indication of where I was in my training and maybe give me the kick in the pants I needed to take my training more seriously.

The only official half marathon I had done was last April (the Limestone Half Marathon in Kingston, Ontario) and my finishing time then was 2:14:44.6 so I thought a PR would be reasonable, but worst case scenario, this half marathon would just be a way to get my long run in for the week.

The Chilly Chase event itself was fairly small with only 142 people running/completing the half marathon. There was also a 5k, 10k and 15k option as well. They were celebrating their 10th year as an event and their first year with the half marathon option so all runners received a toque and gloves set instead of a technical shirt.


Leading up to the race I wasn’t too concerned as I still had it in my mind that getting a sub-2:14 should be doable and again, worst case it would just be a long run for me. However the morning of the race I was so nervous I thought I would be puke. I woke up just before 7am, had 3 pieces of toast with cream cheese and then made my way to the race start which began at 9am. I want to mention just how much I loved this race, mostly because of how well organized it was. The race started just outside a community centre which was fantastic because it was a cool and extremely foggy 3 degrees Celsius outside so most of the runners were  able to stay warm inside (there were lots of runners doing warm-ups and strides outside as well). Another great thing about being in a community centre was no port-a-potties!! We had full access to all of their washrooms and although the lineups were pretty lengthy minutes before the race start, it was much more preferable than the port-a-potty system large scale races use. There was a bag check available but I brought my own lock and was able to to use one of the lockers on site.

I got there about a half hour before the race started and there were already a ton of runners hanging out, warming up, and chatting excitedly. This was my first race alone, with no friends or family (aka my biggest fan my MOM) so I felt even more nervous than usual. Soon enough it was time to head out for a pre-race warm-up. I had my timing chip attached to my shoelaces, my 7-oz hand-held water bottle with a chocolate energy gel attached to it, my iPod shuffle and my Garmin ready to go. I opted to wear my favourite Lululemon running jacket that my fantastic sister had gotten for me last year with a technical t-shirt underneath, my favourite running leggings and of course my trusty Saucony running shoes (the only pair I own :P)


There was a fun warm-up led by 2 girls and before I knew it all the half-marathon runners were being asked to head to the start corral. (Once the half-marathoners had left, the 15k would start, then the 10k then the 5k). There was a 10 second countdown where I’m pretty sure my heart was pounding so loud everyone could hear it, and then we were off!!!


My race game plan:  give’er

Just kidding. I had some sort of plan formulated in my mind, which was:

Plan A: Sub 2:10 finish (as in 2:09:59 would be completely acceptable)
Plan B: 2:10-2:12 finish
Plan C: 2:12-2:14:44.6 finish (clearly not getting a PR was not an option)

In order to achieve a 2:10 finish I needed to run about 6:10km/min or 9:55miles/min splits. I was playing around with the idea of running 6:05 splits for the first half and then if that got too uncomfortable slow slightly to 6:10 splits for the second half. I know many runners advocate running negative splits, so running the second half of the race faster than the first, but for this race I liked the idea of doing the hard work the first half and then just trying to maintain and not lose any of the work the second half.  So in short, I was aiming to keep 6:05-6:10 splits. I always have problems the first 5km with going out to fast but I was pretty determined to hang on to a consistent pace the entire race.

This was what happened.


200 m:  whoa girl, calm down. You still have 21 km to go.

1km: (5:46 split)  Okay well that 1st km was a little fast, it’s time to slow down a bit.

2km: (5:44 split) SLOW DOWN.

3km: (5:42 split) Dang it Lianna, why can’t you ever stick to the plan?!

The funny thing was, when I tried to slow down to even a 6:00 km/min pace it felt painfully slow and my body just wouldn’t do it. So I decided to keep with a 5:45 pace and see what happened.

4km in and I had run up next to a girl who was going about 5:35-5:45 pace as well and I decided to stick next to her and see what happened. We ran the next km in silence and then finally I turned to her and said “What finish time are you going for?” with what I hoped was a friendly smile on my face. Turns out this girl was super nice! She gave me a big grin and said “Right now I want to finish, either 2:10 or even 2:30 since I missed a lot of training the last few weeks from being sick.”  Awesome, I thought. “Let’s go for 2:10!!!” I told her and she agreed and we ran side by side off into the fog along the Vancouver seawall.

If you read my first half marathon race recap, you’ll know that I enjoy making friends while running a race. In fact, I highly recommend this strategy. You don’t have to talk to them much and I prefer not to know their names because that makes it too personal in case you have to ditch them (or they ditch you). The benefits of making a friend who is going at the same pace are HUGE because now you have another reason to not drop your pace, because you have to keep up with someone else and/or they are relying on you to not slow them down. Also it’s nice to have company because even if you aren’t talking you are still struggling together. And you are less likely to go off course and get lost!

So me and my new friend, I’m going to call her Tammy because she looked like a Tammy, kept up a 5:35-5:45 pace pretty well. In the back of my mind I knew this well was ahead of a 2:10 finish but I figured that it felt comfortable in the moment so I was going to stick with it. Around 7km I could hear Tammy’s breathing get a bit more laboured and around 8km she started to fall behind a bit but I kept looking back to make sure she was still sticking with me. I knew she was trying really hard which was great because none wants friends who give up easily right! Especially during a half marathon.

Around 10km we both got really excited because we knew the turnaround point was coming up (the race was an out and back course), and before we knew it we saw the halfway point up ahead with a water/gatorade station. We both slowed to a walk to sip our gatorade, and I got ready to keep going. I looked back though and my friend Tammy was still walking and I could see she wasn’t feeling so great. “Go ahead!” she said. “I’ll catch up with you!”   We both knew that if I kept going at a 5:35-5:45 pace she would not catch up to me. “No way!” I said. “I’ll wait for you.”  “No!” she said. “Keep going, I’ll catch up!”

Tammy lied to me. She never caught up to me like we both knew she wouldn’t and I never saw her again.

So onwards I surged, a lone wolf into the fog without a companion and pacer.

I managed a 5:37km split for 12km and 5:34 for 13km.  I think it was around 13km that the course went off of paved roads and onto a trail for a bit which was nice and made me glad that I had done a bit of training on trails so my legs were used to the uneven ground and mini obstacles. 13km was where I started to struggle and feel uncomfortable. I had brought an energy gel just in case and was glad I did. I managed to choke down half of it and kept going. 15km felt really uncomfortable but I was determined to hang on to a 5:45 pace. The last 6 km were a blur, a long and slow and painful blur. With 3km to go, my legs felt so heavy and my feet felt really weird, like they were filled with water almost and were so heavy to lift up. I’ve never felt that before. I’m also pretty sure I lost all proper running form in that last 3km. My face must have looked insanely desperate and my mascara was all smudged around my eyes (note to self: when it’s foggy out don’t wear mascara because fog droplets will collect on your eyelashes and it won’t be a pretty look when you accidentally wipe sweat out of your eyes).

The last km was the hardest km I feel like I have ever run. I kept pushing and I was literally wheezing air in and out of my lungs and before I knew it I saw the big blue finish line through the fog and it was kind of a surreal feeling, like a mirage that someone lost in the desert desperately looking for water sees. I squinted at the big clock to try and see what it read. 2:01?  No way. It must be 2:11.  Omg omg. It really is 2:01!!!!!!

And so finally finally I crossed that finish line with, with a chip time of 2:01:28:3. I was in such a state of shock as I turned my Garmin off and stumbled through the finish chute. There were volunteers greeting me with big smiles and congratulations, and then another volunteer cutting off the timing chip that I had strapped to my shoelaces and then another volunteer giving me a shiny Chilly Chase medal shaped like a snowflake almost.


I was in such a daze as I walked back to the community centre to see if there was any food left. I was worried that since the 5k, 10k and 15k all finished before I would, along with probably most of the half marathoners that there wouldn’t be any food left but I was pleasantly surprised that there was TONS of food left and a good selection also!


I picked up one of everything, a banana, mandarin orange, yogurt squeezie thing, banana chocolate chip bread (mmm!) and a cinnamon raisin bagel (there were also blueberry bagels!!). Also not pictured was a station that was pouring out sweetened soy milk that was just fantastic, I helped myself to about 6 cups of that stuff and the volunteer was just laughing at me.

Once I had time to sit down, I pulled up the half marathon run splits on my Garmin to make sure it really was real and that I didn’t dream I just ran a 2:01 half marathon.


Yep, it was real!  😀


I’m still on a runners high from yesterday. Overall a fantastic event, well organized with great volunteers cheering us on through the cold weather. The course was great, fairly flat with minimal hills and the post-race food was the best. This was the best way to start off my 2014 running season and I can’t wait to chase a sub-2:00 half marathon in the future!!

Limestone Half Marathon: Race Recap

limestone half

Signing up for the half marathon of the KRRA Limestone Race Weekend in beautiful Kingston, Ontario was somewhat last minute. While training for my first full marathon I went in with the mindset that it was totally okay to train from a 5k to a full marathon in 16 weeks. I had never officially run a half marathon but somehow that hadn’t fazed me, I knew that I would be running upwards of 21.1km weekly during my training so a half almost seemed like nothing (in comparison of course). Then I found out I would be in Kingston, Ontario for 2 weeks as part of a clinical placement for school so I randomly did a quick check online to see if there were any races going on during that time and well would you look at that! A half marathon on my second weekend there!  The timing could not have worked better, I was supposed to do a 19.3km run that day anyways and I thought it would be a good idea to have some sort of an idea of what racing a distance longer than a 5k would feel like.

My mom wins the best mom ever award again, because she drove up to Kingston from Toronto (about a 3 hour drive) to cheer me on for what would be my first official half marathon!

Sunday, April 28, 2013 – the morning started off bright and early, a little cool as the sun wasn’t fully up yet. I had my usual pre-long run breakfast of a bagel with cream cheese and milk, and got dressed. I hemmed and hawed over wearing a long sleeve shirt and shorts as I was feeling the cool breeze but my mom insisted that once the sun was up in full force I would be ridiculously hot and sweaty so I slipped into a t-shirt and shorts, pulled on sweatpants and a hoodie and headed towards the start line!

The race itself is a pretty small local event but there were already quite a few people gathered around the start line, warming up and chatting excitedly. I always feel nervous whenever I am around a big crowd of runners especially since I’m a newbie and these are probably experienced sub 1:45 half veterans who know all about compression gear, garmins and energy gels.  One day I’ll be just like them!

I think we got to the start line maybe 30 minutes before the gun went off, which gave me plenty of time for a quick pre-run bathroom break and before I knew it, I was handing my hoodie and sweatpants to my mom, picking up my timing chip which came in the form of an anklet that I’m pretty sure was pretty sweaty and gross by the time I was done with it, and heading to the start area.

limestone 1

Since it was a smaller race, there were no start corals, and the half marathons started with the 5k runners. The sun was up and I was already feeling happy about my decision to not wear a long-sleeve shirt. The half marathon course started with a 5km loop with the 5km racers that came back to the start line (finish line for 5k) and then continued in the opposite direction for a 16 km loop, back to the same start/finish line. I positioned myself near the back of the pack as I knew that most of the runners were only doing the 5k and would probably be a lot speedier than I was. The plan was to try and sub-2:15 but not over-exert myself since I was running a full marathon in a month and I didn’t need any injuries or time-off at this point.

The gun went off and holy crap, why am I running so fast? I clearly got a little caught up in the excitement of the 5km runners. limestone3

I didn’t have a garmin or other GPS watch, so I was basing my pace off the time I started subtracted from the time it currently was divided by the km marker I was sure of…a bit of math and definitely not as accurate as a GPS watch but at least it kept my mind occupied! I continued to run faster than I should have for the 5km loop and as we were nearing the 5km point which was the start/finish line, I noticed that all of the runners I was with started to part to the right towards the 5km finish line….while I stayed to the left, passed the 5km finish line, and suddenly felt all alone. Seriously, this sucks! I felt all of the excitement from the crowds that one normally feels when passing through a finish line of a race, except that I still had 16.1 km to go.

6km – this sucks.

6.1km – am I the only half-marathon runner? where is everyone else?!

6.2km – omg I must be last. 😦

6.4km – wait, someone just passed me!  okay now I’m officially last.

7km – okay, I’m tired and no one is around me. I think I’m going to walk for a bit.

7.4km – someone else just passed me! I guess I wasn’t last after all. Maybe I’m last now 😦

7.5km – okay, Lianna, pull yourself together. You have to pass that girl who just passed you so that you are second last, not last place.  (at this point I pulled it together and started running again)

8km – (passed the girl who passed me) haha sucker!

8.2km – wtf that girl just passed me

8.4km –  take that (as I pass that girl who passed me twice)

8.7km – wtf man. she passed me again

Passing someone when you are running takes a lot of energy folks. Eventually at around 9km I ran up beside her and stayed beside this girl and we ran in silence for about a km before we started talking. I found out her name and learned that she had run a 1:55 half marathon before but she hadn’t trained for this half at all and was hoping to sub-2:15. Perfect! We decided to stick it out together and man, what a great decision that was. I developed one of those awful side cramps around 12km and this girl talked me through it, told me to keep breathing like I’m sending oxygen to the cramped area (kind of works!) and kept encouraging me. In return I huffed and puffed and wheezed my thanks whenever possible. She told me there was a 2:15 pace bunny who hadn’t passed us yet, so our goal was to never let that pace bunny get close enough to pass us and we would be golden. She also advised me to keep the pace we were going at and then for the last 1km completely empty the tank, drain the battery, etc. and give it our all to the finish line. Seemed simply enough at the time! We neared the halfway point of that 16km loop which was more of an out-and-back portion of the race, and started heading back towards the finish line. 15km in and I was suffering. We had seen how far back the 2:15 pace bunny was thanks to the nature of the out-and-back course and knew we had maybe 2-3 minutes in the bank. Unfortunately I still had that awful side cramp and we were beginning an uphill, plus I was feeling tired from going out too hard in the beginning. The sun was really beating down on us and I wanted to stop so badly to walk. Thank goodness for my new friend who kept me going, because if she wasn’t there running with me and essentially pacing me, I would have stopped to walk multiple times.

18km and we hear the pounding of footsteps behind us. My new friend and I both glanced back and to our dismay, we see the pace bunny with about 6 runners sticking close not too far behind us, catching up. We were both pretty tired and wanted the race to end. Slowly the pace bunny caught up to us and his group of 2:15 runners swallowed us and we both dug deep to stay with the group. 19km in and my side cramp went away, thank goodness. I was feeling a lot better but I could tell my new friend was struggling. “Keep it going! We can’t give up now!!”  That was my attempt at giving her some of the encouragement she gave me for the majority of the race. 19.8km in and my friend was really struggling. “Pull it together!! It’s almost time to empty our tanks and drain our batteries!!!” That’s what I managed to yell at her before I started to slowly increase my pace. It was slightly agonizing and the concentrated look on my face must have been hilarious, but I pulled ahead of the pace bunny and continued onwards. I started passing people and before I knew it, I saw my mom ahead waiting by the 21km marker. 100 metres to go!


I felt really bad about leaving my new friend behind, I was hoping she would stick with me as I increased my pace but when I  glanced back quickly she was nowhere to be seen. Seeing my mom always gives me an extra boost so I powered through to the finish line for the second time, except this time I was actually finished!  I finished in 2:14:44.6, and was very happy with with my sub-2:15 time 🙂

limestone half finish

The race was pretty well organized, immediately at the finish line a volunteer (wearing gloves haha) pulled off my anklet timing device (I was too exhausted to do it myself and I was pretty sure that if I leaned over to take it off I would fall flat on my face). Then right away I was able to help myself to greek yogurt, water, and chilli! I’ve never been a fan of chilli but I got a bowl anyways for my mom and in exchange she had my favourite post-race chocolate milk ready for me.  Overall a well organized race and great memories to make up my first half marathon experience!


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