Pulling it together for the inaugural Vancouver Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis/Cunningham Seawall 10K

It has been five weeks since my “good” performance at Beat the Blerch and I was on a high going into today’s 10K until a week ago because travel had happened and the so had the week after returning from a week away (wherein in six intervening days, I cooked just once and otherwise ate atrociously).

All day on Saturday, it was pouring rain. I wondered what hurricane was passing by south of us, it was so uncharacteristic for Vancouver and disturbing one day out from race day.

The 10K race start was in Stanley Park and at 7:45 a.m. Such an early hour and the location proved a logistical challenge. The Translink “19 Stanley Park” bus had been rerouted and not going anywhere close to the park. My friends were coming from all directions and I barely knew how we’d meet up. I thought there was some issue because it didn’t seem like the start time was released until only a month ago.

On Saturday, I didn’t quite feel like we were doing a race the next day. Despite the relentless rain, we had brunch with friends in Gastown, checked out the new brewery in our neighbourhood for dinner and met up with friends for drinks and dessert in the evening!

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. and observed how I have slept through the night for this and the last race and got ready aiming to take the blessed “19 Stanley Park” bus at 6:42 a.m. The evening before, I coordinated with Joanne and Tammy to meet on the bus but NPY and I were late and so were they and on the bus a girl asked me if we were taking the shuttle? Shuttle? Straight into the park? Would love to but I had no info because it was not a live link on the race website. We got off the bus before meeting with Joanne and Tammy and walked in the same direction as the crowd. I called Joanne and established we were all headed to the shuttle stop. NPY growled how we weren’t organized at all and I knew it came from the place where he hadn’t drank enough water and wasn’t getting either coffee or food before the run.

But as luck would have it, we saw each other at the shuttle stop: Joanne, Tammy and Frank. We boarded the shuttle and I was nervous during the ride into the park. It was so desperately slow as the shuttles were in the same traffic as the cars on Georgia Street. Were the cars carrying racers who drove in, clogging up Georgia and the park entrance looking for parking? Was gear check going to close on us and I would have to carry a crossbody Sportsac bag the entire time?

We had ample time to check gear, take photos and join the corrals at our leisure.


VAN_1871 Above images from competitor.com.

There were tens of corrals and it was an organized wave start. We started together but NPY broke off ahead of us. I could feel I was going a fast clip with Joanne and Tammy already as we weaved between the crowds. But our first kilometer was just about 6:30. Our second kilometer was in 12:40 or so. Around then, we passed NPY and since I did not make that known, he thought we were always behind still behind him. I was secretly worried that I couldn’t keep it up with these spritely girls but let’s see what I have in me. Hypothetically, I had a lot of fuel from the excesses of the day before. We got to 5K still together and I checked my Runtastic to read just under 28 minutes. It was good. If I was good, it was as 56-minute 10K. I was stayed ahead of the girls for most of the 5th kilometer but they pulled ahead of me after that and I concentrated on keeping my pace steady.

That 28-minute 5K gave me room for the back half to positive split and stay under an hour. The girls didn’t know what I’ve been through last week from sleeping really little (Monday and Tuesday, I kept waking up every hour and not sleeping past 5:30 on average; Wednesday, I clocked four hours of sleep but I woke up after two hours; and I finally slept through the night on Thursday), to having one of the most emotionally trying weeks of my life sparked by events when I was away, and the subsequent utterly craptastic diet that I subsisted on all week.

I didn’t have to bargain with myself overly. When I turned up the volume of my music, I could drown out the tightness I felt in my glutes and hamstrings – thanks eight-minute JDRF ride on Friday – and , most of the boredom. I only had to remind myself a couple of times that the Blerch was outside of me, on the shirt I was wearing and not internal with ability to affect me. The Blerch wasn’t harping too much today anyhow for some reason. I also reminded myself that I had to make something good out of declining alcohol during a night out at six pubs in St. John’s George Street when my evening had been fully financed by a new “friend”.

Iggy Azalea/Rita Ora’s “Black Widow” served as a good power song again. The song I had been playing all summer, Pitbull’s “Last Night”, previously had a certain meaning to me but a different interpretation opened up to me today that made some things I hadn’t fully resolved fall into place. The answer is in song… and running absolutely does bring about epiphanies when you least expect it. Earlier this week, I added Lorde’s “Team” to my playlist because it gained some meaning recently but I’m awfully glad that it did not come up during the race – especially not early on, I might have cried – and when the first bars started playing, I willingly pulled out my earphones as I was close to the finish line anyhow.

After Joanne and Tammy passed me, I thought they really pulled ahead, keeping up their 56-minute 10K pace while I slowed down but they were just about 20 to 30 meters ahead of me the entire time. In the last kilometer, they pulled ahead to 40 to 50 meters ahead and finished 30 seconds ahead of me. We had to queue for just a short bit to get our medals and posed for the photographer. We were all pleased to have committed to coming out to the run and eagerly discussed our next race!

Some other notes:

  • I wasn’t overly thrilled with the expo. I had heard Rock ‘n’ Roll expos were really good. I found the Montreal one two years better than the Vancouver one and both were inaugural races to the city. One of the major sponsors, Brooks, didn’t have as big of a presence at yesterday’s expo and I do think that there wasn’t a Vancouver Rock ‘n’ Roll pin created? I didn’t see one.
  • We saw the elderly lady who despite her advanced age does 10Ks, maybe even half marathons. I haven’t raced much in Vancouver recently so it was nice to see she’s still at it!
  • There weren’t as many Hallowe’en costumes as I thought there would be for a race that traditionally had costumes. It seemed to be about the same proportion of costumes as you get at any race these days.
  • The lululemon cheering station around 8KM sign was great. They had fun signs and I did appreciate that the staff – I’m assuming – were giving back and coming out to cheer with their cheeky signs.
  • There was a photographer around the lighthouse and when you turn the corner, you practically run into him. I wonder how many photographs of startled and unprepared runners he will get. Just 10 meters behind him was another photographer and I was better prepared for that one.
  • We did the clockwise route around the Stanley Park Seawall – I suspect it has to do with the number of runners and how you need wider sections in the beginning and narrower ones at the end will suffice with the crowds that spread out. When we rounded the corner and saw Lion’s Gate Bridge and then – after many turns – saw downtown, it was a good sight. It’s mostly a condo skyline but it’s darned pretty.
  • Gear check for picking up after the race was massively disorganized and I think we spent half an hour in line for it. Good thing there were thermal sheets we wrapped tightly around ourselves while we waited.
  • It was with great fanfare the organization announced the headliner for the post-race concert would be Magic! They had that song this summer, “Rude”, that I can’t say I really liked. But when I went to check the concert times, there was no more mention of Magic! and they had been quietly replaced by Allen Stone. (Who?) The main concert started two hours after we finished 10K so we didn’t stick around for it. It works far better for the half-marathoners.
  • We all had with our race bibs a ticket for a free beer in the beer garden and we even lined up the day before at the expo to be “pre-approved” to enter and wore the blue bracelet all the evening before. But beer when you finish a 10K at 9 a.m.? It doesn’t work.

At the expo, amongst the frames demonstrating how you can frame your medal, finish line photo and bib, one caught my eye in part because it had four medals. The large Cascadia medal created by the Heavy Medals organization caught my attention first then figured out that it is yours if you complete in the same calendar year Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathons in Portland (May), Seattle (June) and Vancouver (October). This is a lofty goal and I’ve set it for myself next year. (At latest, the year after.)

My results ………
Chip time: 57:41
5K time: 27:49

On this day..