Running Upstream with Salmon


Salmon are an important resource in British Columbia; for the last thirty five years there has been a 14 km (9 mile) Coho Run that starts at Kitsilano Beach then follows the edge of Stanley Park, heads north over the Lion’s Gate Bridge and finishes at Ambleside Park where the annual Coho Festival is.

This year it coincided with the Grouse Grind Mountain Run which I have participated in several times. Since, my long-term goal is a 3:30 – 3:55 marathon I decided to enter the Coho Run for a new challenge. It was also an opportunity to gauge my training.

Finally a running event that starts at a reasonable time – 9:00 am on a Sunday! The sun was shinning when I arrived at the start area over looking the North Vancouver mountains with forty-five minutes to go to the washroom, warm-up and drop my bag at the bag drop.

Coho Salmon Head

Coho Salmon – Shutter Stock

10 Km Time Trial

To keep my running tempo at or near threshold (172 bpm) pace my heart rate monitor was set beep at anything below 167 bpm. The race strategy was to push for the first ten kilometers  The first little bit looped West around a narrow paved trail and past the pool.  It was difficult to pass.

We traveled along the seawall to the south end of the Burrard Street bridge which was my nemesis a few months ago. This wasn’t so this time around. Quick legs paced me over in 07:49 min/mi. After the bridge the course took a sharp left back down to the trail along Sunset Beach, to around the Stanley Park seawall.

It culminated in Merileese’s Trail, a mile long hill up to the Lion’s Gate Bridge which slowed me down to 10:15 min/mile. A bit of mental fortitude drove my legs forward to the start of the bridge and the end of the first 10 Km in 50:49 min.

4 Km to Home

Left rib cage fatigue prevented a full breath and slowed the pace over the Lion’s Gate Bridge. With each passing participant I valiantly made thirty-second sprints to challenge my slowing pace.

Recent research is showing that the brain regulates our ability to push our physical boundaries. Our attitude and self-talk can either be hindering or beneficial. Mantras like:

Steady Legs. Run Your Own Race. One Foot In Front of the Other.

kept my efforts high and me moving forward with a smile on my face.  There was one other person tailing me on my right side to the finish, not to be out done the jets were fired in the last 100 meters; he finished three seconds behind.

View the Training Peaks COHO Run Race Log.

Post Race Pancakes and Prizes With Friends

By finishing within a predicted time of 1:05 to 1:15 hr and 26th in my age group this run result was one that I am happy with. It also wasn’t an A race which means I wasn’t fresh nor did I taper for it.

The is the only event I know of that has a pancake breakfast at the end of it! Perfect for refueling post-run.  During the last few years of climbing the Grouse Grind I have made several friends who have also expanded their endurance activities to longer runs.  A few of them also participated. We all met up at the end to catch-up and have breakfast.

During the awards ceremony the organizers handed out draw prizes, not by bib number but by enthusiasm. The announcer had to see your bib number to for you to receive a prize.  The goodies included gift certificates to the Scandinavian Spa in Whistler (highly recommended) and a dual water bottle carrier for those loooonnnnggg runs.

When he asked who “REALLY REALLY Likes the long runs?” I jumped up and down with great abandon while waving my bib that was still attached to my shirt. I knew that my single bottle carrier was getting ratty and wouldn’t carry me much past 13 miles. Relieved to be selected I ran up to the stage to retrieve my prize. Earlier one of my friends received one of the gift spa gift certificates, while a second spa gift certificate was given at the end via a kissing contest for those who had their partners in attendance.

Running the for Long Run

At 80 years old, the inspirational Senior’s level runner Betty Jean McHugh, who has set numerous records for age group, is the author of My Road to Rome and is a North Shore resident finished in a blistering 1:41:43.  Can I be that fast in 40 years? Will I still be running at 80?

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