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Why running is not a frugal activity

1483424_10152046284957128_866555932_nRunning used to be my go-to frugal activity. All I needed was a pair of good running shoes, and I was out the door in minutes. After discovering how much I loved running, I stopped going to the gym and stopped going to fitness classes as well (yoga, spin, kick boxing). Take that, $40/month gym membership! It made me so happy that I was being frugal AND staying in shape at the same time.

That is, until I found out how addicting racing is. And I didn’t think I would feel that way at all. Since I’m naturally a very competitive person, I thought that I would hate racing because I would never be one of the best runners out there. But there’s something pretty special about running with a group of people all looking to run the best race of their lives.

It was about 6km into my second race (a 10km) of my adult life that I realized running wasn’t about coming in first place, or even beating X amount of people in front of you. It’s about challenging yourself to be better than you were yesterday. It’s about making goals, and figuring out how to achieve them. I also like the science behind running. I like that each second makes a difference. I like that you can directly control the outcome of each race. I like the feeling of accomplishment every time I do something I didn’t think I could do – like run a 10km in under 50 minutes, or just finish a half marathon.

So now I’m addicted to racing, and I don’t think I can ever look at running the same again. I like the idea of always having a race to look forward to. It keeps me motivated and changes the way I exercise and live my life (I eat much healthier, and I run more often and much more enthusiastically). I like tracking my progress, and comparing numbers and times satisfies the PF nerd in me.

In 2013, I ran in 4 races (2 x 10km, 2 x half marathon). Combined, the races should have cost me $190. But since I started a running team at work through our social club, I actually ended up paying $125.

I’ve started to plan my running schedule for 2014, and it’s been really difficult. There’s a huge difference between how many races I want to run, versus how many races I can afford to run. :| I also want to start thinking about traveling to run (would love to run Edge to Edge in Ucluelet, or the Nike half marathon in San Francisco), but will save those for when I’m a bit better of a runner. :)

So far, this is what I *think* my race schedule will look like:

January – Vancouver Chilly Chaser Half Marathon ($64.50) – already registered
April – Vancouver 10km Sun Run ($20-25) – work race
May – BMO Half Marathon ($109)
June – ScotiaBank Half Marathon ($80)
September – Vancouver Eastside 10km ($15-20) – work race
October – Victoria GoodLife Fitness Half Marathon or Full Marathon ($65-90)
November – Vancouver Historic Half Marathon ($40) – work race

That’s over $400 that I could potentially be spending on races this year. Yeah, I could cut out at least two of the races, but the truth is… I really want to run all of them. Add to that total the likelihood of me needing new shoes, replacing miscellaneous gear, gas, parking, travel expenses, etc… and I could be looking at close to $1000 just to fund this new activity of mine.

Spending $1000 (or over $80/month) is not frugal, so therefore running cannot be considered a frugal activity. At least not for myself.

So as I look towards what I want to accomplish this year, running is definitely high on my priority list. Combine that with field hockey (it’s my passion sport, plus it’s great cross-training) and hiking, and I’ve got some pretty big fitness goals to look forward to in 2014. :)

Vancouver Historic Half Marathon Recap

Two loops of Stanley ParkI ran my second half marathon over the weekend – the Vancouver Historic Half in Stanley Park. I’ve mentioned it a few times before, but I have severely undertrained for this event. In the 5 weeks since my last half marathon, I’ve run a total of three times (13km, 19km, 10km). I was nervous, and hoping for anything under two hours.

Last month, my pace varied wildly from 5’04” to 5’54″/km. It was my first half marathon race ever, and I had no idea what to expect. Since I didn’t think I’d be able to beat my previous time of 1:54:31, this time I decided to try to improve on maintaining a more consistent speed throughout the race, and working on the areas where I had the most problems (getting out of the corral fast enough, and when I died at the 17-18km mark).

Well during Sunday’s race, I was so worried about starting fast enough that I went out way too quickly (my first km was 5’05”). But after that I was able to maintain a steady pace, and only varied by 23 seconds (my slowest km was 5’28”). Much better than the 50 seconds from last month! I paced with another woman for the majority of the race. She was consistently running at the same speed I wanted to be at (just fast enough so that I was slightly uncomfortable), so I made sure not to be more than 5 meters away from her at all times. She probably knew I was pacing her the entire time, but there were a few times where I took the lead, so maybe we helped each other out. It also really helped during the last 4 kms. I was really struggling (clearly due to my lack of training)… and I think it’s safe to say that without her, I wouldn’t have finished with a time of 1:53:51 – which is 39 seconds FASTER than last month’s race! :)

If you’ve never been to Vancouver, the run took place in Stanley Park, which is a huge park located right downtown. The course was run around the seawall, meaning I had beautiful ocean views 90% of the time. :) The weather was perfect, even if it was a little chilly. I really enjoyed myself, and am looking forward to next year’s race! My only complaint is due to my own scheduling issues – I had a field hockey game to play just a few hours after the race. That was… a bit rough.

So, while I’m pleased overall, I know that I can do so much more. Talking with a friend (whose also a running coach) the day afterwards, he said that with the proper training, I could definitely run a sub 1:50 at my next big race (BMO Half Marathon, May 2014), and maybe even close in on 1:45, depending on how committed I am. That gives me hope, and I think that’s what I love about running… there’s always room for improvement, and your only real competition is yourself.

Finished my first half marathon!

Over the weekend I ran in the GoodLife Fitness Half Marathon in Victoria. A few people have been asking how it went, so I thought I should write a short recap of the race! If you’re not into running, well, then… just skip this post I guess. :)

Most of you know that I have been training for this run since April (aside from the month of July, which I had to take off for medical reasons). About 6 weeks ago, I injured my foot during field hockey practice. It was quite uncomfortable to run distances or play field hockey with so many quick side-to-side movements, so I had been taking it easy. And that made me preeeeeetty nervous for this race.

Publicly, my goal was to run the 21.1km in less than 2 hours, but secretly my goal (before injuring my foot) was around 1:52 or 1:53.

2013 Victoria Goodlife The morning of the race, I was out the door by 6:30am and in my corral by 7am for the 7:30am start time. It was cold, and I was even more nervous than before. My parents came to watch the beginning of the race. It was nice to have them there, since I was running solo – and my dad seemed really happy. It has been a long time since he’s been able to run (due to health issues), but he used to be a marathoner… and he’s one of the main reasons why I decided to start running this year. :)

I strategically positioned myself in the middle of the 2:00 and 2:15 corrals, thinking that 1) I would get more motivation by passing a ton of people during the first 20-30 minutes of the race, and 2) I wasn’t even sure how fast I could run. This was a dumb move. It was so crowded that it was really hard to pass people during the first few kilometers, and as a result my first few kilometres were a slog – running 25-30 seconds slower per km than my race pace.

Once I got going though, I clipped through the first hour and felt great. I was running at a pretty fast pace compared to my long training runs (the first 10km clocked in at 54:02), but I wasn’t tired so I kept going.

2013-10-13 09.48.27Then I died at the 17km mark. In my head, I was cursing myself for not training more (and not running faster during the times I did train). The next 2 km were really difficult, and I ran them close to 20 seconds slower than my previous pace. But once I hit the 19km mark, I knew I had to go for it. I would hate myself if I didn’t give it all that I had. So I pushed for the finish.

The next two kilometres were slightly slower than my earlier race pace, but still faster than the last difficult ones – and my final kilometre was my fastest of the race – proving that I either have a really good finishing kick, or I have no idea how to pace myself. :| Something to work on, for sure.

Overall, I was pleased with my final time of 1:54:31 (5’26” km pace), but I know I could have run faster. There were four very clear kilometres where I faltered (1, 2, 17, 18). Had I run those at race pace, I would have hit my secret goal time. This gives me a solid goal to work towards.

2013-10-13 09.56.17Running has always been a secondary activity for me; something to help me get better at field hockey, or something I randomly did on a treadmill at the gym. But now? I can’t believe that I actually enjoy it – the long runs, especially. It’s calming and competitive at the same time.

This race cost me $65, plus $31 in ferry costs and countless hours of my time over the past 4 months. But it was worth every penny, and I can’t wait for my next half marathon in 5 weeks. And as for next year’s GoodLife race? Bring on the marathon. :)

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