When you are in it for the t-shirt…. / HBC Run for Canada 2008 recap

Once a year, I dress up in my black-and-blue MPG running skort, select a current-looking and pretty top, slap on sunscreen, and run just under 3K to Oakridge Mall where I pick up my race package at The Bay.

You see, Oakridge Mall is a shi-shi mall by Vancouver standards housing Coach, Michael Kors, and Birks amongst the common ranks of The Gap and Garage Clothing. I had to look less runner-dowdy while strolling through the mall killing two birds with one stone with some shopping!

The swag bag is part of the charm of the race with its random assortment of goodies. It’s like the loot bags of birthday parties passed. This year’s bag included the following:
* Single Wagon Wheel
* 3 2-packs of Stay-Put hair elastics
* 2 pieces Ice Breakers Ice Cubes gum
* 1 piece Extra Pomegranate Berry gum
* 2 packettes Off! insect repellent towelettes
* 83-mL bottle of Aveeno sunscreen with SPF60 – Aveeno! – SPF 60!
* A pedometer
* 2 packs of those flossing apparati
* A 3M adhesive hook
* 355-mL bottle Minute Maide Anti-Ox drink
* A 3M bubble envelope
* Chocolate Cherry Nutribar (meal replacement)

In the past two years, the race has fallen on the weekend. I found myself picking up my t-shirt on Saturday and missing my 16K Sunday run for the 10K race. This year, with the July 1 holiday falling on a Tuesday, I was able to wear my brand new shirt to the Sunday Run Club. Attention whore that I am, I happily fielded the questions from astute seasoned runners wondering which race it’s from!

The thing I like about 10K is that I can remember ALL my kilometer markers’ times. Like this.

1K There was no 1K marker.
2K 11:10
3K 16:__
5K 28:02
6K 33:__
7K 39:__
8K 45:__
9K 51:__
10K 56:49

Otherwise, here are all the other observations about the day. I’m just dumping it all here because this recap is already relatively late.

* I wasn’t exactly “feeling it” the night before. This kind of anxiety makes makes me even more anxious. Why do I now feel perennially unprepared?
* The night before, I stuffed the timing chip anklet in my Mizunos. My Asics have been giving me wicked problems – blisters within an hour – in the past two hot runs so I shelved them for my semi-retired Mizunos.
* Woke up at 5:45. Out of the house at 6:50.
* I loved the two pockets available to me with my new race shirt and my running skirt. All I had was a watch, bus pass, some ID, and some cash.
* Yes, it’s that kind of intimate race over a short distance that you would love to wear a running skirt to!
* The bus dropped me off downtown and I walked towards Coal Harbour, homonymous with my hometown, Cole Harbour, and my favourite Vancouver downtown neighbourhood. I enjoyed the holiday phenomenon when no one’s awake yet and downtown is all yours.
* I was quite self-conscious that I don’t know people at this particular race. I don’t know why people who would do the Sun Run might not entertain the HBC run with all the perks they have.
* Still alone, I self-consciously applied the last of a bottle of sunscreen. Did you know that a full-sized bottle is only supposed to last you five applications?
* Then, like clockwork, I saw Joe. He’s the only person I know who seemingly religiously does this race year after year. So we chat until 8:00 a.m. rolled by.
* For, you see, the race started late. No national anthem, just observing people starting to cross the start line after 8:06 a.m.
* I tried to be very conscientious about my pace in the first kilometer. There were built-in obstacles like the woman running with the dog, the man I could not pass because he was taking a picture while running, and fear instilled when one woman tripped and fell over before we entered the park.
* Thoughts during the first 4K stretch: Sometimes I hate running around the Stanley Park Seawall. The path is winding and you can see all those runners ahead of you and how many more twists and turns still lay ahead.
* Positive thinking: You’ll be right where you see those runners soon enough. Just keep running just keep running…. Isn’t this just a great workout??
* I know, I grasp for the lowest hanging bough and my main goal of the morning was to do a non-stop 10K run at tempo speed (5:40 per kilometer). I’ve had only dishearteningly fragmented 10K races in 2007.
* At only 8:30, it was uncomfortably warm on the picturesque Seawall. I was relishing shady stretches, anticipating shady stretches.
* When we finally turned into the park, there is a gradual hill and I saw Bev. We agree that just a year before, I saw her at the same point in the race.
* Though I hardly knew anyone there I recognized people I only see at that particular race: one of the ruddy organizers, the hunched over 70+ woman who beat me last year (or at least was more steady).
* I simply had to pass the 70+ woman and stay ahead of her. And I egged myself to stay ahead of Joe and Bev, too. Otherwise, I’m not usually into those kind of competitive games.
* Around 6K, I wanted to throw up. I don’t vomit easily so I gagged. It was kind of pathetic.
* 7K was tough as expected, 70% into the race. As we entered Lost Lagoon, we saw people sauntering by in the opposite direction in their home stretch.
* Fortunately, the 1-km path around Lost Lagoon is somewhat wooded and you can’t clearly see all around the lagoon at the people ahead
* Our footfall did not disturb the sleep of the swans (geese) who craned their necks backwards and rested their heads on their feathery bodies.
* I just wanted to make it out of 7K!!
* I was very happy to hit 8K, home stretch, and be leaving the “rat race” running in a circle around the lagoon.
* A short stretch of running opposite the 1:15 finishers was exhilerating.
* I’m so preoccupied with this race form and attaining it after feeling sluggish as soon as I start running. It was a paradigm shift at 8K to enjoy any non-painful movement that had carried me 8K and 2 more for a round 10K before most of the city awoke.
* Hit 9K at 51 minutes and had decent hopes of finishing sub-57 minutes. Yay! I kept chugging and my watch that had been unreliable for most of the race, encouraged me by reading a 5:22 then 5:16 kilometer. But 3 minutes passed and it felt like 6 and I nearly lost it at the end. This race has many turns upon turns at the end and I keep expecting the finish line to pop up around the corner.
* I was smiling and proud of myself when I finished!
* Soon after, Bev and Joe came through the finish line and we swaggered about the grounds with our shiny Canadian Mint medals resembling ancient Chinese coins. Bev was looking out for Canada Day chocolate cake that didn’t materialize while we were still there. We danced and Bev sang along to a cover of I Will Survive. I was beyond pleased to be get all of the following refreshement: Dasani water, a can of Vitao iced white tea, Glaceau Vitamin Water, and pink strawberry-lemonade Powerade! Oh, and I enjoyed the rosemary and olive oil bagel crisps that aren’t usually offered at races! :D

All my stats —
Gun time 57:49 / Chip time 56:49
Overall standings 298/838
Gender category standings 76/443
Age category standings 23/115 F30-39
(Not worse than then I was the oldest in my field last year where I was 21/96.)

On this day..


  1. Augusta B. says:

    I always think about doing this race, but the high entry fee puts me off. The swag sounds pretty good, though!

  2. wyn says:

    I s’pose $45 is extravagant for a 10K race. It’s $20 more than a corporate rate for Sun Run but you get a shirt that you’ll use and goodies that amount to, erm, $10.

    I tend to save on my other races by registering by the early bird deadline so paying full price for this 10K is *okay* for me.

    For me, it’s a second chance to PB on a 10K. And we know you can’t put a price tag on that. :)

  3. Tony says:

    You know what is really interesting? Just how fast your times are in your various categories. Very impressive! As for me, I plod along at the 50% mark in mine.

    10k Race…$45
    Tech Shirt…$20
    Getting a PB… priceless

  4. Ryan says:

    Any run you can walk away from is a good one. “Good,” of course, graded on the curve of all running events.

    Congrats on the good time and the good swag.

  5. wyn says:

    Hi Ryan!

    Hi Tony! It’s the standings like these that is another motivation to return to this race. Let’s see if HBC will have Vancouver Olympics gear in ’09 (8 months before the Olympics) or ’10 (4 months after the Olympics)….!

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