Squamish Training Camp Recap: Day 1

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I spent the last 4 days in Squamish, BC to partake in a run training camp with my coach and a few of the other ladies she works with. There was a lot of running (duh), some beach time, a lot of eating and exploring the town and an 8km race. I will go into detail day by day, but I will divide them up because it will be way too long for a single post!

Thursday

Took my new Adidas Ultra Boost Uncaged out for a test run and interval workout, read the review here: Shoe Review: Adidas Ultra Boost Uncaged

After that I quickly showered, grabbed my bags and hopped in a cab to the Greyhound station. The bus departed from downtown Van at 10:30am and arrived in Squamish at 11:50am, not bad at all. My AirBnB host graciously offered to pick me up from the station in Squamish, and showed me some cycling routes around town. The rest of the group was coming from Victoria late afternoon, so I had a day to myself. I dropped my stuff off in my room, changed into workout clothes and prepared for an adventure. My plan was to cycle downtown and grab lunch, cycle to the base of The Chief and hike to the top. The ride downtown was easy and flat, I rode on the highway which wasn’t as scary as you might think. For lunch, I chose Zephyr Cafe (38084 Cleaveland Ave, Squamish, BC) they have a very healthy menu with salads and rice bowls etc, and cater to vegetarians, vegans, and gluten free diets. Though I eat everything, I prefer health centric dinning options and Zephyr was awesome! I had a rice bowl with organic chicken, it hit the spot and fueled me for my adventure.

Then it was time to ride to The Chief, Google Maps said it was only 3km away, down highway 99. No problem! Well, I made it those 3km and found the left turn, but instead of noticing the minuscule sign indicating one of the parking lots for The Chief, I kept on going. I totally blame Google Maps, well, mostly. It said to continue and so I rode up and up this gravel road. I later realized this was a logging road called The Sasquam River Trail, which explained why I was the only person on it aside from a few cars parked here and there doing who knows what. In the spirit of adventure I kept on going, hoping The Chief was around the corner. After an hour or so and a lot of climbing, I decided I didn’t need to climb The Chief and turned around. Biking up hill was hard, biking downhill was freaking scary on a gravel trail where brakes don’t respond as quickly as they do on concrete. I made it out of there with no damage and to my surprise, there was The Chief on my left hand side, where I had began my bike ride to nowhere!

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I locked the bike up in the parking lot, and walked towards the main lot, where the hike begins. My legs were definitely tired from the running and cycling I had already done, but I was not leaving without completing this hike. I had heard the hike compared to The Grouse Grind (which I have also never done), but the main point is, I was told it was pretty easy. It did not feel easy climbing wooden stairs for 1 hour and 20 minutes! After the stairs, it gets more interesting because you have a metal chain to hold onto, followed by a ladder and more chain and then climbing up the rock to the top. It was hard and it was hot, but it was totally worth it because this is what I saw at the top…

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I ate a protein bar, took a bunch of pictures, rested my legs for a bit and then decided it was time to descend because I was hungry for dinner and Mags 99 was calling my name! The descent was even harder, my legs were shaking and twitching. I had planned to stop at the waterfall and soak my legs for a bit in what I figured would be very cold water, that plan went sideways when I was greeted by a giant, scary, barking dog who ran towards me. Getting a dog bite half way down The Chief was not on my agenda, so I carried on. I got to the bottom, jumped on the bike and headed to Mags 99, a mexican restaurant and Squamish classic just off the highway, near The Chief. I got their salad with pulled chicken and a Howe Sound Lager, beer never tasted so good.

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We had a trail run planned for Friday morning, so I knew I  had to do something to relieve my legs and grabbed a big bag of ice from the gas station on my way home and spent the next 2 hours icing various parts of my legs.

Summerfast 10k and Weekend Recap

This weekend my friend Tory came to visit, we went to high-school together in Toronto and then were roommates at University of Guelph. She is living in Calgary for the summer to complete a placement at a law firm there. Since Calgary is much closer to Vancouver than Toronto, she was able to visit for the weekend! This was her first time in BC so I got to play Vancouver tour guide for the weekend. This is a recap of what we did, ate, and saw.

Friday: 

Tory’s flight arrived at 6:30pm, I finished up with my Sport Chek Run Group just in time to meet her at Waterfront Station. A few months ago, a Catfe (cat cafe) opened in Vancouver which I have been VERY eager to visit. If you know Tory, you know she LOVES animals, especially cats and dogs, so I reserved us a spot for Friday night. Before we arrived at Catfe, I had this vision of a small room filled with cats and kittens, by filled I mean like a ball room with cats instead of balls. Obviously, this was unrealistic for many reasons, but I was still a bit disappointed when there were only 15 cats. Also, there were 10 other people, requiring us to “share” the cats, many of which were fast asleep! I would recommend going earlier in the day when the cats would potentially be more awake and haven’t spent the whole day entertaining humans. Nonetheless, it was still enjoyable and really, how many of us can say we have visited a cat cafe before? IMG_4240After almost an hour at Catfe, and many photos later, we decided to move on and grabbed some chicken burritos at Tacofino. They were good, but probably not the ideal pre-race food. We stayed up pretty late (well for me) catching up about everything and eventually went to bed at around 11:30pm.

Saturday:

My 6:20am wake-up call interrupted my regular pre-race nightmare of my alarm not going off and me missing the race. I got dressed, had my regular breakfast of coffee, oatmeal and WATER, and ran slowly to Ceperley Field in Stanley Park, the start line of the Summerfast 10k. I got my bib, dropped off my bag and continued to warm-up before the race. I was probably a little too excited to receive this bib number -for those who don’t know, 416 is Toronto’s original area code and the reason why Drake refers to Toronto as the 6.IMG_4245

My goal going into this race was to finish in an even 45:00 (or less), my coach’s advice was to be patient for the first few km, run the first third with my head, the second third with my mental strength and last third with my heart. This was great advice, but it didn’t play out that way on Saturday. We started running and I was aiming to start at a 4:40-4:45 pace, this was no problem, but I was just not feeling that good, my stomach was not happy. The second km was 4:49, not a pace I was ever intending to drop to. The third km was 4:41, not bad. After the first 3km, I was going to increase the speed to 4:35-4:40. The fourth km was 4:45, too slow. The fifth 4:36, the sixth 4:45 (too slow). All throughout this run my thoughts were a mix of: I feel terrible, should I run into the woods in place of a washroom?/ This does not reflect my training / Where is my energy? The seventh km was 4:49, again a pace too slow for my target. The eighth km was 4:45, ninth was 4:42. With 1km to go I decided to at least finish STRONG, since I hadn’t stopped for the washroom yet, at least there would be one at the finish line. I ran that tenth km in 4:00 minutes and found myself passing everyone in sight. Yes, I am very competetive. With 500M to go there were 5 guys in front of me and I felt a wave of ecstacy shouting, “500m to go guys!” I was hoping they would pick up their speed and join me in a strong finish, but only 1 person reacted. I finished in 46:40, no PB but no PW either. It’s easy to sit around being mad at yourself when your race doesn’t go how you wanted it to, so instead I decided to focus on the positive: I still did it and had a great finish. There are many more races in my future. Next up: Squamish Days 8km!

Tory met me at Forage on Robson for brunch where we enjoyed a brunch of blueberry pancakes for her and french toast for me. Then it was time to head over to Denman and rent bikes to ride around the Seawall. IMG_4294

It was definitely a good idea to  get out there early as all Vancouverites know how busy and mentally taxing it can be to tour the Seawall on a weekend. We saw a seal, stopped for a few photos, and made it to Sunset beach before heading back to return the bikes. We decided to walk Robson to grab some lunch and do a bit of shopping. After an early morning and lots of activity we headed back to Gastown to relax for a bit before dinner and indulge in some TLC classics including My Big Fat American Gipsy Wedding, there is seriously a show for everything.

No trip to Vancouver is complete without eating sushi, so that is what we had for dinner at my go to spot: Tsuki. It was great as always. We went back to my place and hung out for a while waiting for another highschool friend, Rachel to come over, who also happened to be in town. We watched the sunset from my rooftop patio, which we had to ourselves luckily enough.IMG_4296

Saturday was a late night as well and for some reason, when I stay up late, I still wake up early in spite of being very tired. Tory was more fortunate than I and able to sleep in, so I planned the running workouts and routes for this week’s Sport Chek Training Club and filled out my own training schedule spreadsheet.

We spent Sunday morning at Granville Island, looking around, taking photos and eating breakfast at Siegal’s Bagels. We then walked to Kitsilano to look around there and have lunch. We chose Peaceful Restaurant to indulge in some Chinese food. We continued walking around, got ice cream from Rain or Shine and walked over the Burrard bridge, though Yaletown and back to Gastown.

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After a weekend of running, cycling and lots of walking, I feel like I need another day off to do nothing, but no such luck. Time to get back to the grind and run off this weekend’s indulgences. Tonight will be a long run split between the Sport Chek Training club and The Adidas Runner’s Vancouver launch at East Van Run Crew’s Monday nighter.