Northern Pursuits – RNR Vancouver Weekend 2016

In 2014, our blog post for Rock n Roll Vancouver started with “the forecast is for continuous rain.” It sprinkled at the start, but the sky never opened up. In 2016, the forecast called for – you guessed in – continuous rain, at least during Sunday for the half marathon. This time around, we didn’t have the fair weather RNR Los Angeles as an alternate on the same weekend so it was north of the border for us! The 6:30 AM Friday flight was almost empty so we were able to stretch out across our aisles. YVR is a cool airport. It’s like total cultural immersion before you even leave the terminal.

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The expo wouldn’t open until 2, so we had a lot of time to kill after landing at 9. The Skyrail day pass for $15 gave us enough time for the rail to Waterfront Station and 3 bus rides on the 19 between the hotel and expo. We were feeling a bit wimpy with our foot/knee and rain issues, but that kind of thinking is how we keep doing what we do. The Westin is in a great location relative to the finish line and less than a mile from the expo and the start lines of the 10K and half. It’s really easy to get right into vacation mode in Vancouver. The walk along the waterfront was scenic and relaxed with the mountains across the Vancouver Harbor and sea planes taking off and landing.

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The expo at the Canada Place was mid-sized for a Rock n Roll. There was a pretty good sized line right after lunch and we chatted with a local lady excited about doing her second 10K ever. I barely remember that new enthusiasm and it was neat to hear it from her perspective. CGI apparently had a lot of heavy medal traffic at the previous races, so many bibs were marked to indicate either World Rocker or Pacific Peaks bonus medals. That was good planning. We stuck around for a while as a squall rolled in.

We saw Hollie in line. We met her in Nashville where she shared a room with Sherry. Hollie has a mobile job as a travel nurse, going between assignments in different cities every few months. She’s been knocking off full marathon states at a furious pace and in the two weekends leading up Vancouver, she’d finished Baltimore/Mount Desert Island fulls and a full/half weekend. Vancouver – with the 10K/half – was a bit of a taper for her. We also caught John who was in town for his ONE. HUNDRETH. HALF (emphasis his). I add details like this to demonstrate to our friends that crazy is all relative.

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The Hall of Fame backpack sightings are getting more frequent as we get later in the year. Mike, Chuck and Monique were hitting 15 this weekend. Chuck and Monique join about a half dozen people who’ve been HoF in 2015 and 2016. Mitch remains the only person with 3 Hall of Fame years so far. We had dinner with Hollie and Gary at Cardero’s by the hotel.

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Saturday, October 22nd. 10K.
The inaugural year (2014) had the 10K and Half on the same day, but last year they split the events to make Vancouver a Remix weekend. The starting point at the Inukshuk (link) was about a 15 minute walk from the Westin right down Denman Street. There were a lot of coffee houses open for the 9:30 AM start, but the weather was good enough that we really didn’t need much more than a disposable layer. Ann gave Susan a few tips on lacing to see if that would help her foot pain. There was a costume contest over the weekend. T-Rex and the running app phone were my favorite.

Vancouver resident and Gypsy Dave Deniere has had a great running year and was coming up on 100 Grouse Grind finishes. The Grouse Grind is a trail with a 2900 ft elevation climb in a [mile]. His total ascent is close to ten times the height of Mount Everest.

Former RNR Vancouver Ambassador, Lisa followed last year’s hotdog costume with a monkey suit. Let the snarky remarks fly. I was pretty sure Adrian was there, but when he came back from bag check, he found out his GoPro battery was dead. We had to short-arm the pre-race #fotofoto.

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These were my favorite costumes. The guy in the phone app actually had his speakers on calling out turn-by-turn directions the next day on the half.

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Even though the 10K was a smaller event (about 3500), the path along the Seawall was only about 10 feet wide, so there were over 25 small corrals in the wave start to give people room to run. T-Rex got a wide berth.

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It was a beautiful route ending in Devonian Harbor Park. It wasn’t a bad time for me, coming in under 1:09 even with the gimpy knee and a dozen pictures and it turns out my speed is better if I’m not playing Pokemon Go. Susan took an ultra conservative race and filler her Vancouver Photo album. It did save my battery for a few really nice finish line pictures.

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Somehow we missed Joe in the finishers area where he volunteered to hand out water bottles. We did catch up with him and Gary for lunch at Water Street Cafe in Gastown where we could hear the Steam Clock chime for an hour. We were complaining about the price of international calling and data plans I wondered how we ever made plans to get together before texting and social media. Did we just pick a time and place and trust people to ask directions and show up?

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Dinner at the Westin had good choices for carb loading and they were really nice to modify some dishes for Susan. Gary joined us for a light dessert late. He was sitting in the lobby for 40 minutes trying to get a hold of off but I’d turned off Whats App notifications to save on data. Oops. At least dessert was good.

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Sunday October 24th, Half Marathon
The half offered an early start to anyone needing 3:30 or more for the half. Susan decided to take advantage of it in case the shooting pain in her foot flared up again. It meant a half hour less sleep, but it was nice enough outside with a rain jacket a caffeinated hand-warmer to be cozy until the 7:15 start. Most of the Black Sheep Run group who didn’t take the early start were in corral 3, they Gypsies were in 6 and I started with Gary back in 12. Not having Susan around at the start was really weird.

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Just like 2014, the rain never came. Sure it sprinkled a bit here and there, but it was just like 2014 – high 40’s and saturated air. It wasn’t long before most people were shedding layers. Light sleeves and 2XU full length compression was even a little much, but being used to calf sleeves, it was pretty much the same coverage. I ran into Tarliena (from the SF Bay Area) while passing the stadium and saw Danielle and her son from Portland heading into Stanley Park where Susan remembered the smell of Christmas trees. Both Dani and her son were getting their Gold Record at Vancouver.

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I was actually making really good time through 15K and had a shot at keeping my sub-2:30 streak alive in Canada. The last 1K was a lot longer than the markers and I missed it by a minute and a half. Given that I’ve been taking it easy for a while, I was still pretty happy with the finish.

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I passed John just before the 12.5 mile mark so I knew he was coming in soon. The security folks were very diligent about pushing people over to the other side of the bridge, so I didn’t get to see him finish. I did get this sequence as the Black Sheep gathered around to celebrate the 100th.

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Chuck and Monique claimed their second Golden Mikes. We were able to catch the Gypsies before heading out ahead of any rain. Susan sacrificed another pair of shoes to the race gods for good luck.

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Cascadia Crowning Moments
Fred Henninger finished his 50 Rock n Roll heavy medal qualifying event. I’m estimating that there are 26 people who have reached this milestone, but with the last few years since the Remix era started, I’m certain I’ve missed quite a few more. Along with Monique and Chuck, Vancouver was the 15th race for Laura (ZFive Kers), and speedster Jennifer. Both are first time Hall of Famers.

This year, CGI changed the World Rocker challenge to make races in Canada and Mexico eligible for the bonus medal. Along with that, the Pacific Pursuit and the Remix, we earned five medals for the Vancouver weekend. Anyone still in the 5 – 10 race range could have picked up a Heavy Medal to make it a 6-pack, but that would mean they were out of the running for Hall of Fame. I guess we’ll be happy with five!

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Pokemon Report:
Being a harbor town, water Pokemon are very easy to find. From the hotel wifi range, I easily img_6013stocked up on Majikarp, Polywag, Polywhirl, Goldeen/Seaking, Tentacool/Tentacruel, Psyduck/Golduck and a handful of Dratini. In the Gastown district, there were quite a few Gastly and Haunters, but I’m pretty sure that was the leading edge of the Halloween promotion.

 Like most big cities, the Pokestop concentration is pretty high and your bags should stay pretty full.  Gyms in the area were pretty strong, mostly level 9-10 with the lowest defender in the 2600 range and nearly all of those being Dragonites. If you stay at the Westin, the north side of
the building has enough wifi coverage on the water to do a lot of fishing.

Data tip for those on short-term international plans: Be sure to check which apps are using cellular data if you’re on AT&T. Google photos was syncing quite a bit when I had the game running and ate into my 200MB allotment pretty fast on day 1.  Needless to say, I didn’t have much data left to see what was on course at the 10K and Half.

Vancouver is still our favorite Rock n Roll location. While we’re not signed up for 2017, we’ll certainly be back some time in the next few years.

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