Monday, 23 June 2014

Long Day, Long Run

Yesterday Matthew and I ran our first half marathon. We signed up for the Scotia Half in about April or May I think, although it had been on my list of things to do since about January.

Our training was interrupted. Matthew hurt his knee quite seriously in March and was unable to join me on any long runs (which I count as over 6 miles, which takes more than an hour for us) since that time. I hurt one ankle (some tendons) and then the other ankle (some different tendons) in April and May. We also took two weeks off with no exercise whatsoever when we went to Australia/Japan.

But last weekend we met up with my friend Kat in Kitsilano, and she took us for a ballbusting run up a hill in West Point Grey. Matthew joined us for a little under half of the time, and when Kat was finished with me, we had covered 12.2 miles. Significantly longer than any distance I had ever run (but a walk in the park, I'm sure, for Kat). Matthew's knee held up pretty well after the 5 miles (he has been doing physio intensively), so we were pretty confident that we would be able to run/walk the whole half-marathon distance.

We set the alarm for 5:20am so that we could fit in breakfast before leaving the house at 6am. We arrived at the bus stop at 6:10am, and waited for half a goddamn hour for the bus to arrive. I was so furious I forgot to be nervous about the race. When the bus finally did come, it was so crowded that it sailed past all the other stops. There were angry race-goers and ever angrier shift-workers at all those stops.

We got to UBC Thunderbird Stadium with about 10 minutes to spare, and lined up for the porta-potties (necessary before such a long race!). We lined up in our Green Corral (for slowpokes, at the back) at 7:28, and the horn went off at 7:30am.

The weather was totally gorgeous, by the way. Saturday was the summer solstice, so it was the second longest day of the year on race day. It was warm and bright, with a nice cool breeze in the shade. Perfect running weather.

We crossed the starting line at 7:35am I think (much better than the hour it took for us to cross the starting line at the Sun Run last year!!), and started the long jog around UBC. That's right, the first 6 kilometres were all still on UBC. By the time we saw the end of University Boulevard I felt like the race was half over. It was such a relief to finally be off campus!

I chose the Scotia half for two reasons:
  1. The BMO half was on the day I got back from Japan and Matthew got back from Australia, so we couldn't do that one. We're glad though, because it was freezing and raining on that day.
  2. The Scotia is the only half-marathon course in Vancouver with a net downhill by the end. And boy did we feel it. There were exactly two hills: one that that we had already smashed with Kat the weekend before (short, more like a gentle crest), and the Burrard Bridge. And since we were approaching from the south, the slope of the bridge was long and gradual, rather than from the city side (where we attacked it on the Sun Run last year) which is steep and breath-taking. The whole course was decidedly leisurely.
There was a half-way pace timer on the road near Spanish Banks, and I ran over it. Later I discovered that we covered it at 1:02, which was our Sun Run 10k time. Hurrah for a small improvement!

Our strategy going in was to stick together at all costs, and take walk breaks as regularly as needed. But in fact we only needed one walk-break, and that was just before the Burrard Bridge, at about kilometre 15, and we only walked for about 3 minutes. For the rest we just kept a slow and steady pace, and always stayed within 2-3 metres of each other. Matthew said later that there were times when he felt like flagging and he observed me looking effortless, and other times when I looked like I was struggling but he felt like surging, but that overall our efforts were about matched. I think that's a pretty fair assessment.

We crossed the finish line at Stanley Park in 2:15:18. This is significantly faster than we had projected (based on training, I was aiming for 2:45). All in all, a victorious experience. It's one day later, and although we're a bit stiff, we are in no way injured, and very mobile.

Taken on my poor little cameraphone, a few moments after the race.
I have to give thanks and praise to Matthew for going along with this scheme. Not only has he been incredibly supportive about my running habit, but he has run along side me with all enthusiasm and no complaint. It means even more to me, because Matthew had to go to work after the race yesterday! In the evening, he joined me at our friend Michaela's going-away garden party and even played bocce! So impressed.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Progress Report, Spring Edition

Warm and sunny hello from Team Beavis this Saturday morning. It's still Spring in Canada, by the way, as the seasons here do not match up with the months. It was this year that I discovered this. I am out of touch.

I thought I would warm back up to blogging (since it has been a while) with a short progress report on what we have been achieving, the big and the small, in the last couple of weeks.

1. Thesis
I have, as you know, turned in a full draft to my supervisory team. This is very long overdue, in fact about a year overdue, so I'm not celebrating in any way. I am, however, spending every beautiful sunny weekend (that is, all of them) at my computer, stabbing away at each comment on my previous reviewed chapters. I'm on my third weekend of that. Fun times. Regardless of how progress goes from now on, I am definitely defending in September, and definitely graduating in November. This concrete timeline is a great terror and a great relief all at once. I feel a lot of pressure to edit my thesis very thoroughly, since I have already spent a whole calendar year writing it. Yes, I started drafting in May 2013. Four chapters and approximately 85 pages later, I have a whole draft. All done on weekends, around my full time work, and amid three international travels.

My workspace today, and every weekend until September.

2. Cooking
The vegetarianism is going very well. I have toned down the fish since returning from Japan, and only had one piece of fish per week or less. And Matthew and I have pledged to try some new ingredients, so a couple of weeks ago we bought tahini and sesame seeds. We are now sesame-flavouring everything, but our favourites are felafels and salad with sesame dressing. Also since Akiko and her mum showed us some home cooking, I have made onigiri (rice balls) with umeboshi centre (salted plum paste) twice, both times delicious.

Onigiri and sesame-dressed salad.
(I have saved the most serious for last...)

3. Permanent Residency
As you know, I am a Canadian citizen. I even registered to vote, this past May. That's how seriously I'm taking it. Matthew's work visa is up in July 2015, and we feel like we are not ready to make the move back to Australia at that time. Our apartment continues to be comfortable, our neighbourhood continues to be charming and convenient, my family continues to be so welcoming, and we are finally both in good places in our careers (Matthew has been doing the good work for some years, I am more recently employed, as you may remember from last May's job search). In summary, we love living here. So, we have put in an application for Matthew to become a permanent resident. This takes several months. We have been working on it since February, and we lodged it on the 2nd of June. We won't know whether it is successful until Christmas at the very earliest, and next June/July at the latest. In the meantime, we go about business as usual: work, study, and saving.

We owe some people our very warmest thanks for helping us with the application process. Our dearest friends Tess, Steph, Nick, Jane and Nyssa wrote some heartfelt statements for us. We are very thankful and we miss them daily.

So that's all for now. I will be poking away at my thesis comments until the evening, when Matthew returns from work (on a Saturday! *weep* he works so hard) and we can eat nachos and drink a glass of red that we have been saving all week for this very night.