Sunday, April 19, 2009

I survived the Sun Run

Photo by Mark van Manen of the Vancouver Sun

I did it.

I finished the Sun Run. After a weekend of late nights and many an alcoholic beverage, who'd have thunk that I could essentially "wing" the Sun Run and make it to the finish line at 1:00:59?

Out of curiosity, I looked up my past results on the Vancouver Sun's Sun Run Results website.

Year Time
2005 1:09:20
2006 1:08:09
2007 1:04:36
2008 1:01:27

So if I continue at this rate, I might be able to run it in under 1 hour... assuming I don't train, of course. Apparently that technique is particularly useful to me!

In all seriousness, the race was great today. It was cloudy and overcast this morning - relatively cool temperatures. Dressed in my Sun Run corporate team t-shirt and a pair of New Balance running shorts and shoes, I was a little cold at the starting line, but once I started moving it was the perfect condition for running 10km amidst 55,000 people. And of course, the cherry blossoms at the peak of their bloom made the run even more picture perfect.

This was also the first time that I ever wore a watch during the Sun Run, so I could accurately guesstimate my time. I think I was averaging 6-7 minutes a kilometer, but I truly think having my mp3 player helped big time. Usually I don't run with music during the Sun Run as every 2km they have local singers and musicians performing along the way. I also like being able to hear the pitter patter of tens of thousands of feet stampeding the pavement. But having my own music (a blend of LCD Soundsystem, Magnus, Ron Sexsmith, Simian, Squarepusher, and Metric) certainly helped motivate me today. The Ron Sexsmith was perfect for those moments I had a cramp and needed to slow to a geriatric crawl, and Simian's La Breeze? The perfect finale for the 9km mark. I truly believe that if it wasn't for the music, I would have finished with a much slower time.

Reminder to self: for the 2010 Sun Run, bring your own music. Wear a watch. Don't train.

For photos and more information on the 2009 Vancouver Sun Run, check out the Sun's coverage here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The 25th annual Sun Run

Runners awaiting the beginning of the Vancouver Sun Run
The Sun Run starting line on Georgia Street - April 2003

Every year in April since 1985, the Vancouver Sun newspaper has been hosting the Vancouver Sun Run - the largest 10km run in the country and the 9th largest race in the world. Anyone can sign up for the Sun Run whether they want to race it competitively, run it, jog it, walk it, or even wheelchair the 10km.

The route starts downtown on Georgia & Burrard. Colourful balloon arches divide up the different starting groups - racers at the front, runners behind the yellow balloons, joggers behind the green balloons, slowpokes behind the white balloons, etc. Guests staying at the Hyatt and the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver get a rude awakening on the morning of the race as 50,000+ people await on the streets below.

When the run starts, thousands of people - a sea of white Sun Run t-shirts - pour down Georgia Street towards Denman. They take Denman to Robson and then follow along the edge of Stanley Park to Beach Avenue on English Bay. They cross over the Burrard Street bridge (which exhausted runners learn by experience is over 1km across), then take a left at W 2nd Avenue before heading back downtown over the Cambie Street bridge to the finish line outside of BC Place.

I've been running this silly run for almost every year since 1994. Needless to say, for myself, my dad and my sister, it's become a family tradition regardless of how active or fit we are. This time around I'm not nearly as active as I was when I first started at the age of 13! As a result, I decided to join the corporate Sun Run team at work and we had our first training clinic a few weeks ago. But due to unruly weather and other spontaneous events, we skipped the subsequent training sessions.

I admit that I haven't been very good about training, although who am I kidding? I never am! I simply hate to train for the Sun Run. I guess I'll just wing it again this year and see if I can beat my 58 minute record while being a good 15 pounds overweight.

Vancouver Sun Run
So watch out Vancouver! Just you wait. I'll be one of 50,000 white t-shirts flowing through your downtown streets this Sunday morning wondering what the heck I'm doing, yet again.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms in VancouverCherry blossoms at Burrard Station - April 6, 2009

After an unseasonably cold long winter, it's finally spring in Vancouver. This is possibly my favourite season in the entire year as it's when all the cherry blossoms are in bloom and the air has such a lush, enticing smell. The weather for the most part has been quite lovely. This past week we've been having temperatures of up to 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) during the afternoon. The past few days during the Easter long weekend, it's been raining on and off, but the air is still breathtaking with that sweet smell of blossoms.

Vancouver must be home to one of the largest amount of Japanese cherry and plum trees in North America. All the residential side streets are lined with them and it's at this time of the year when people go out of their way to witness this short-lived spectacle of pink.

In 2005, the annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival was founded to celebrate our love of the cherry blossoms. The 2009 festival started on March 28 and continues until April 24. Featuring a wide variety of free activities around the city - from haiku contests, photo contests, organized bicycle rides, organized walks through the gardens, and musical performances, to the more traditional aspects of Japanese sakura culture - it's a great excuse to get out and experience this magical time of the year.

For those wishing to seek out the blossoms on their own, the festival has a cherry blossom viewing map which highlights what species are growing in each neighbourhood. But even then, you don't have to go anywhere in particular - just walk around the city and you'll find cherry blossoms in the least expected of places. Last Monday I found myself at Burrard Station downtown where the cherry blossoms were at peak display, changing the mood of the busy skytrain/bus station into that of awe and wonder.