Chasing the Podium at the Vancouver Chilly Chase

One thing I have tried to do on in the last few months is to stop comparing my current 30-something self to my 20-something pre-baby self. My running has been focused on trying new things and progressively increasing the intensity of my training to see what my new self can do.  When offered a free entry for the Chilly Chase, I was excited as it would be the opportunity to both try something new and to test my speed on the road. I had never run that race before, in fact, I had never run any Try Events race. The 5k course was also all road and relatively flat, so it would be a great one to test my speed.

Socializing and (not) Warming Up

Many of my running friends from the West Van Run Crew and Bib Rave Pro were also attending the race. For Brie, it was actually her first post-baby race! Debra Kato very generously offered to pick up bibs and race packages for a few of us at the early bib pickup, so we gathered around her in the community center and chatted while putting on our bib numbers. I then packed the rest of my race package in my bag and left it at the on-donation bag check managed by the race's partner charity.  This year's package did not include socks because of a storm in the US which delayed the delivery. The race organizer had the good idea to offer runners the option to donate their socks to the partner charity, the Lookout Society, which provides support services to adults with low or no income, which I did.

After dropping off my bag, I returned to socializing and ended up so busy chatting and taking pictures, that I did not have time to do a proper warm up.

BibRavePros Bradley and Jeannine, Debra and myself. Pic by Debra Kato.

Busy taking selfies. Pic by Carmen Marin.
The whole crew: Jeannine, Brie, Tanja, Bradley, myself, and Debra.


The Chilly Chase event includes four races (half-marathon, 15k, 10k, and 5k) that start a few minutes after each other. My race being last, I got to cheer for Debra, Bradley, Brie, and Tanja as they were leaving for their own longer race.  Because the courses were all starting on the same first 2.5k, we also got to cheer each other during the race. When the 5k runners started gathering behind the start line, I looked around to see if I could recognize some familiar competitors and identify other runners in my age group. I noticed super-fast runner Courtney McEwan warming up. She was returning to running after an injury and seemed to be back in racing shape. I knew I had to avoid trying to follow her at the start of the race. She was there with a friend, Hilary, who mentioned at the start line that she was hoping to finish within a minute or so of Courtney. Another fast person to not use as a pace bunny, I thought to myself. I was right. They flew ahead of me at the start and quickly pulled away as I tried to figure out if I could maybe aim for third place.

A young woman tried to follow them for a couple hundred meters but then slowed down. I decided to pick up my pace just a little bit and eventually managed to pass her. I was in third place and already picturing myself on the podium. The smile on my face was soon wiped off as a tall and smooth-running lady in shorts and compression socks silently glided by me. I knew I would not be able to match her stride length, so I tried to pump my arms a little faster to stick with her. When my breathing started to get out of control, I realized my body was not ready to run at her pace. I returned to my previous pace and hoped that, maybe, she would slow down later on in the race and I would be able to pass her in the final sprint.

For the rest of my run in fourth position, my goals returned to being more personal. At each kilometer marker, I looked at my watch to see if I was on pace for a PB-PB (Post-Baby Personal Best). Surprisingly, despite the cold and some wind, it looked like I was. The cheers and smiles of Brie, Tanja, Debra, and Jeannine were extra boosts that helped me stay motivated and on pace as fatigue started setting in.

As I approached a big sign indicating that the turnaround point was 50m ahead I saw the third place runner run by me again. "She is just 100m ahead of you, there is still hope", I thought to myself. I turned around and aimed to keep her within view with the hope that she would slow down enough to give me the chance to pass her in a finishing sprint. It did not happen. After 4km, I started to really feel tired and keeping good form required a lot of mental strength. Stand tall, I told myself. Keep the rhythm up. The lady started to get further and further and once I reached Science World, it became clear that she was not going to slow down. I gave up on my podium dreams and chose to focus on just running my best race possible: a PB-PB was still within reach!

As I approached the finish line, I knew my little one would be there watching me. It motivated me to push through the finish with the best posture possible and give a flying high five to the finish line volunteer.

Cheering and Re-fueling

My little girl ran into my arms and asked to be picked up to watch the other runners cross the finish line. She had also been to enough races to ask for a "nana" (banana), but had to wait a little for her treat. I wanted to stay out to cheer until Jeannine crossed the finish line before getting back in the Community Centre.

When we saw her arrive, I encouraged my girl to clap her hands and shouted some words of encouragement. I knew Jeannine's foot was hurting, yet she was looking fast and smooth crossing the finish.

The race included a lot of tasty post-race snack options and my little one, who had refused to eat breakfast, really enjoyed the generous samples given to her by the volunteers. We had the choice of bananas, clementines, brownies, bagels, gluten-free crackers, and Nature's Path organic granola bars. I opted for a bar and a banana. I waited to see the awards ceremony for the overall winners and cheer on the lady who had pushed me to give my best without knowing it. Her name was Tracy Riggins and what made her performance even more impressive in my eyes was the fact that she was actually in an older age category than me. I ended up connecting with her on Instagram after the race and hope to get to race with her again in the future.

Getting a PB-PB

A few days after the race, when going on Athlinks to check the results and compare them to other post-baby times, I was very excited to find out that this unsuccessful chase for the podium had earned me a PB-PB! It was encouraging news and I hope to get a few more of these this year. Maybe some extra luck will help at the next Try Events Race: the Shamrock'N'Race 5k, which will be on my birthday!