BCBusiness vs. Squamish: What Did I Just Read?

Let’s be clear about one thing: I very much appreciate a good tongue-in-cheek satire. Case in point: Dog Lotion’s recent spin on WB/Vail’s “breaking” announcement re: new Blackcomb gondolas and chairlifts was nothing short of perfection.

But after reading BCBusiness’s “Big Fat Deal: $4.7 million to be swish in Squamish“, I was left shaking my head and thinking, “What the heck did I just read?”

I subscribe to Google Alerts for a few of my favourite topics: Whistler, Squamish, Whistler Real Estate, and Squamish Real Estate. Every morning, I scroll through my daily digest before rolling out of bed. Today, the BCBusiness article was one of the links. The short excerpt made it seem like it was a showcase of a high-end Squamish home, so I clicked to read it in its entirety.

I’m pretty familiar with BCBusiness: it’s a BC-based (duh) publication that generally posts interesting, well-researched, and well-written news and profiles. I’ve never seen anything that could be described as funny or satirical on their website or in their magazine… until, possibly, this morning, when I discovered their biting “Big Fat Deal” real estate section. (I still can’t figure out if it’s 100% a satire.)

Let’s dissect the article.

Here is the house in question:

Britannia Beach House

It’s a 5 bed, 5 bath stunner located in Britannia Beach, listed at a cool $4.698M.

The skinny: Five-bedroom, five-bathroom, 6,225-square-foot house on a 39,500-square-foot lot in Britannia Beach, Squamish.”

In BCBusiness’s defense, the MLS lumps a few different communities together into the Squamish geographical area – but anyone who is mildly familiar with the Sea to Sky knows that Britannia Beach is a distinct community from Squamish. Wikipedia classifies it as a “small, unincorporated community” and, although it is in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional Disctrict (as are Whistler and Pemberton, among others), it’s not Squamish.

“Leaping large into the luxury price range comes Squamish, previously known as the “poor man’s Whistler.” “

Poor man’s Whistler – ouch! Although not exceptionally original, this jab considerably discounts Squamish’s history – both short term (logging, anyone?) and long term (First Nations, anyone?) – and its place on the map as a mecca for rock climbing, mountain biking (in a non bike park setting, thankyouverymuch), and kite boarding, among others.

Aspirational weekenders should no longer feel ashamed to call the former pee-stop to the mountains their home away from home.

It’s true – when I lived in Vancouver and weekend warriored my way to Whistler, we stopped at the combination Tim Hortons/Wendy’s for a bathroom break and a Frosty. But the use of the word “ashamed” is a little off-base. I’m not exactly sure why one would have ever felt ashamed to live in a community that is flanked by mountain ranges and an ocean and full of awesome people who like to connect with nature and improve their community… but sure, BCBusiness. Sure.

“Indeed, here you get to lord it over the miserable middle-class commuters who fled Vancouver for a back yard that didn’t cost more than your Lamborghini (and no, we’re not talking SUV), and the service workers of Whistler who can’t afford to even rent where the really rich people play.”

Where do I start here. The lawyers, real estate brokers, medical professionals, and other Squamish-Vancouver commuters that I know are neither what one would classify as “miserable” or “middle-class” (though, for the latter, what does it even matter?). Their commute along the Howe Sound is pretty breezy, with the only real hiccup being the dreadful Lion’s Gate Bridge (which even the Lamborghini-owning West Van crew must contend with). I wouldn’t worry about them, BCBusiness – judging by the smiles on their faces and the grass stains on their kid’s knees, they’re doing alright.

As far as the Squamish-Whistler commuters, I’m sure many of them belong to the service and hospitality industries that are the backbone of Whistler. But I know many others, too: tradespeople, teachers, filmmakers, writers, and real estate agents, to name just a few. While some of us move because of the nutso Whistler rental market (not just price-wise [$2,900 for an unfurnished 2-bed-1-bath is the most recent I can find on Craigslist] but supply-wise, too), it can also be exhausting to live in a Lala Land where we are expected to serve and entertain visitors with attitudes like that of the author of this article. Some of us like Squamish because we can find parking, seats on a patio, and other people who don’t think they’re better than the “miserable middle class” or “service workers”.

“For the price of a small, out-of-the-way townhouse in the world-renowned ski resort, here you get to be top dog.”

This one is just plain old false. A 2-bedroom (is that small?) townhome in Creekside (is that out-of-the-way?) is currently listed at $725k on the WLS.

The price point that this Britannia Beach property is listed it is comparable to the following Whistler listings (to name a few):

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White Gold

  • And a 3.5 bedroom home with a private dock on Alta Lake, built in 2016 (listed at $4.498M):

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Also, this may be overly picky, but the ranking of “Top Dog” in Squamish is not determined by the size of your home – factors such as which peaks you have bagged, whether or not you have personally named a bike trail, your finishing time in the Squamish 50, and whether you can snag a seat at Fergie’s at 9:30 AM on the Saturday of a holiday weekend hold much more clout. Of course, I can’t for sure say if the same is true for Britannia Beach – it not being Squamish, and all.

“Look at it as a stepping stone to your ski-in, ski-out mountaintop cabin; get in now and let the escalating Squamish prices lift you up where you belong.”

May I presume, BCBusiness, that you believe you belong in Whistler? If so, I hate to be the one to tell you – but prices there are on the rise, too. By the time your Britannia Beach home has appreciated to an amount you deem acceptable, all you’ll be able to afford in Whistler is (gasp!) an out-of-the-way small townhome in Creekside.

“Meanwhile, feel free to invite your (much wealthier) friends over for après drinks and nibbles on their way back to town—they’ll be so glad to avoid the washroom line at Tim Hortons, they’re bound to wait until they are at least back on the Sea-to-Sky before wrinkling their noses at your B-list postal code.”

See, sentences like this are why I am not exactly sure whether or not this article is a satire. It just packs a lot of meanness into very few lines. Let me break it down:

  • First of all, I am so very grateful that my baller city friends are still able to tolerate my company, despite the fact that I live in Squamish, which obviously means that I make no money at all and must be a very awful person (a miserable middle-classer, right?)
  • I am also flattered that my rich friends prefer snacking on my homemade bread to the overpriced and underwhelming nachos of the patios of Whistler. Of course, I wasn’t up on the mountain enjoying a few runs (I must be too poor to ski – I live in Squamish!) – I was busy arranging a charcuterie board and cocktails for my elite skiing friends. I hope they tip!
  • BCBusiness author, as someone who once skied 38 days as a weekend warrior and stopped at the Squamish Timmy Hos nearly every single time, both on the way up and on the way down, let me assure you that I NEVER had to wait in line for the bathroom. The efficiency of that place is astounding. Can I get a fact check here?
  • My B-list postal code is such an embarrassment to me that I rented a PO BOX in Vancouver so that when I send my Christmas cards, my return address doesn’t reveal my true self to my friends (who are royalty and who care about such things). [end sarcasm – seriously, postal codes?!?!?!?!?!?!?!]

The hidden extras: Sea view, self-contained nanny quarters, geothermal concrete floors, security system, just up the road from Mountain Woman’s legendary burgers. Take that, Whistler!”

You forgot about the mine museum, dear author!


In conclusion, here is my advice to you, BCBusiness: you’re not Mad Magazine (or even Dog Lotion). Reading this article was like watching a first-timer crash and burn on amateur night at Yuk Yuks. If you would like to discover Squamish, I’d be happy to show you around and fill you in on how there’s more to it than the fact that it is not Whistler.

Of course, you’ll have to find a Britannia Beach resident to give you the real scoop there.

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Review: The Common, Squamish’s Coworking Space

The vast majority of the time, I work from my home office.

But every so often, I need to find a mobile work space to get my work done. On a few recent occasions that involved some outrageously expensive car repairs (ouch, ouch, ouch), I found myself stuck downtown Squamish in desperate need of a desk.

In the past, I’d have headed to the library. Now, I love the Squamish Public Library – but it is not the best place to get work done. The internet is a little spotty, the work spaces are functional but not necessarily comfortable, and things can get a bit noisy – particularly during the day when it becomes a toddler hot spot. It works, but it’s not ideal.

I’m also not one for setting up shop at Starbucks. I’ve done it in the past, but I don’t love it. I can swing it if it’s only for an hour or two, but if I’m parking there all day, I feel like I have to keep buying stuff every hour and the hustle and bustle is just too distracting for me.

Thankfully, Squamish has developed a perfect alternative: The Common.

The Common is a recently opened shared coworking space. I didn’t know much about it when I sent in an email to find out about the rates and availability, but I was hoping for a quiet, clean space where I could get my work done while I waited on my car/money pit to be ready.

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My expectations were exceeded in a big way. I walked into the space – on the main downtown drag (Cleveland Ave) – on a drizzly, grey day. It was super cozy and inviting. I kind of expected it to be on par with the offices I’ve worked at in the past (functional but somewhat institutional), but it was way better. The decor was super modern – I’ve never worked at a cool start up or tech firm, but I imagine it would look something like this.

I had my pick of desk types (they even have standing desks – cool!), so I set up shop and got to work. The Common has everything you need, and more – think fancy coffee machine (and even a fancy kettle that heats up your water depending on the kind of tea you’re having – whoa), a few printers, private rooms for phone calls and Skype sessions, and a boardroom upstairs that you can rent out.

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On one of my days there, there was just me and another person in the space. On another, it was fairly busy, with half a dozen or so people and more trickling in and out throughout the day. Both times, I found it easy to get into the zone and work my way through my to do list. The central location offers plenty of lunch options (I opted for Zephyr) and is super convenient if you’ve got other appointments or errands to run.

The price is most definitely right: the $30 a day drop in rate is very reasonable. Plus, if you’re a contractor or run your own business, you can most likely write off the expense. There are plans if you intend to become a regular – the more days you work there, the cheaper it gets on a per-day basis.

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Yup – that’s an air hockey table

I can’t think of many cons, except that it might get a little lively or distracting if all of the work spaces were filled – although I imagine that most contractor types are pretty respectful of other people at work. To be honest, the social aspect might be kind of nice for those of us who typically spend our days holed up alone at home.

This wasn’t a paid advertisement (or even a non-paid advertisement) – this a bona fide awesome resource for the mobile workers of Squamish. If you’re curious, I recommend checking it out.

Keeping It Local: A Squamish-Inspired Holiday Gift Guide

I know a lot of people hate shopping for the holidays – but I am not one of them. I looooove Christmas gift shopping. I usually start in late spring/early summer. I love finding the perfect gift for the people I love the most – and bonus if I’m supporting talented locals.

If you’re seeking some homegrown inspiration for awesome gifts that are useful, nice, practical, or all of the above – well, I’ve got you covered. Most of these are made in Squamish, though I’ve included a few that are made by people in Vancouver or in the Sea to Sky Region.

Lucas Teas

If you’ve got a tea lover on your list, look no further than Lucas Teas. They have a really solid assortment of teas, which you can either buy in person at their store downtown Squamish on Cleveland Avenue or online. For an extra local touch, opt for a Squamish inspired tea (there’s one called Squamish Sunset – so good).

(If you missed my advent calendar post, rumour is that Lucas Teas is doing an advent calendar that is worth checking out.)

Xoco Chocolates

Just down the road from Lucas Teas you’ll find Xoco Chocolates. These locally made chocolates are next level. The flavour combinations are creative but delicious – think cherry/orange/bourbon or peanut/praline/puffed rice. They’re often made with local ingredients, like teas (from Lucas, of course), honey, and even spirits. And they’re definitely showstoppers – each one is a mini masterpiece. This ain’t your ordinary box of chocolates.

(I wrote a post about Xoco a little while ago, if you’d like to learn more.)

Muddy Marvels Pottery

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Photo from the Muddy Marvels Instagram page

I’m a sucker for gorgeous pottery, and while I’ve come across a few talented potters in the Sea to Sky, Muddy Marvels Pottery (made in Brackendale) is in a league of its own. The pieces are not cheap, but they really are works of art (that just so happen to be very functional). This isn’t the gift for a random Secret Santa – you’ll want to save it for somebody you really love who will appreciate it (perhaps paired with some Lucas tea?)

The KNWN Squamish T-Shirt

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Photo from the KNWN Facebook Page.

KNWN is a local snowboard manufacturer, and while their snowboards are wicked, their swag is unexpectedly awesome too. I am a huuuuge fan of this simple but snazzy Squamish t-shirt design – it’s even better in crewneck sweatshirt form, as pictured. Their shop is located in the industrial part of town just behind Backcountry Brewing/Tall Tree Bakery – a.k.a. my new favourite shopping area of Squamish. I think the t-shirts are around $30 and the sweatshirt is just under $70. They have other cool t-shirt designs on offer, too.

Padraig Cottage Slippers

 

I’m pretty sure Padraig slippers are well-loved around the world – or at least across Canada – but they happen to be made in North Vancouver, which is just a skip, hop, and a jump from Squamish. Every Squamish baby seems to own a few pairs of Padraigs, but they also make adult sizes. These are the perfect cozy slippers to wear around the house on a classic rainy PNW day. You can buy them online, or you can support a local company and pick up a pair at Fetish Shoes downtown Squamish.

Backcountry Brewing

I love Backcountry Brewing – and I don’t even like beer! We have a few great breweries in Squamish, but the beer lovers in my life (i.e., Cedric) are all big fans of Backcountry’s offerings (the Widowmaker IPA is a favourite among them/him). They have regular growlers – but they also have super cool stainless steel ones that are just so steezy. A few cans would make a great stocking stuffer, or you could go all out and get bottles + a growler + Backcountry merch. Bonus: while you’re picking out your gifts, stay for a flight and a pizza – their pizzas are soooo good.

Trae Designs Toys

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Photo from the Trae Designs website

I got a set of beautiful, handmade wooden toys from Trae Designs for my niece last Christmas. They seem like a fun toy and unlike gaudy plastic gizmos, these are really pretty to display around the house. They have several different toy sets in a few different colour options – they also have blocks, rattle toys, and other cute things.

Like most things on this list, this gift isn’t necessarily the cheapest (the pictured set is just under $50) – but you’re paying for quality and local skills, which helps justify the price tag.

Nibz Bandanaz & Winter Accessories

My Whistler-based friend, Sara, makes the super-fun (yet practical) Nibz Bandanaz,  balaclavas, toques, and neck tubes – a must have for winter sports lovers.These are reasonably priced (a bandana is about $33) and are great quality. There are a ton of designs to choose from – from fantastically loud to more understated. (I believe they will be at the Arts Whistler Holiday Market at the Conference Centre this weekend.)

Moe’s Pantry Jams

This summer, I discovered Moe’s Pantry at the Squamish Farmer’s Market. (Hint: they’re also at the winter Farmer’s Market at the Squamish Adventure Centre on Saturdays). I’ve tried four of their jams: raspberry, plum, bluberry, and strawberry. And guess what? They’re all delicious. Personally, I am a big fan of local made edible goods – honey, jams, baked goods, and the like – especially for friends and family that don’t live around Squamish. They offer something special that your loved ones can’t get in their own neck of the woods, and they’re consumable so they won’t just sit around collecting dust. A fairly large jar of jam is only $7 – so go bananas and try a few kinds.

Vancouver Candle Company

A high quality candle is a classic gift option – choosing a local option makes it a little more special than your standard department store pick. The Vancouver Candle Company has become pretty popular across the country, and though it’s not made in the Sea to Sky, I still consider it local. I’ve smelled several of the candles and given a few as gifts, and in my experience, they’re all good.

I love that they’re named after local Vancouver ‘hoods (I love Gastown: tobacco, amber, and black pepper) – and upon browsing their website just now, I’ve discovered that they now have Toronto neighbourhoods, too. The packaging is clean and pretty – even your more discerning candle-loving friends will adore these guys.


Did I miss anything? I love discovering local products, so feel free to recommend your own must-haves and I’ll check them out.

Race Review: TRY EVENTS Boundary Bay Half Marathon Recap

Last year, I ran the Boundary Bay Marathon. It was my first marathon, so I spent more time in my own head that really taking in the race.

This year, I ran the half marathon, a distance I’m a little more comfortable with – so I feel like I’ll be able to provide a little more race feedback for those doing research on the race. (Why are there so few race reports of the Boundary Bay marathon?!?!)

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LET’S DO THIS!!!!!

I signed up for the Boundary Bay Half Marathon on somewhat of a whim. After my Squamish 50 23k race in August, I thought I had one more race in me for the year, so I signed up for the Boundary Bay Half because:

  • The early November timing was just right. I needed a goal to work towards to keep me running through the fall.
  • I knew the course and the race itself – I liked the level of organization, the relatively small race size, and the overall vibe of the event.
  • It was pretty cheap – $55 before September 30 (it’s $50 if you sign up before July 31).

Unfortunately, training didn’t go as planned, as I discussed in an earlier post. The three weeks leading up to the half marathon, I spent a lot of time off my feet. I did a lot of stretching and foam rolling, I got a massage, and I focused on cross training at the gym, on the stationary bike, and at hot yoga. Here’s a sneak peek at my DREADFUL training:

  • 3 weeks out: 0 running from Monday to Wednesday; a whopping 3.02 k run on Thursday (5:29 min/km pace), and a 21.25 k run on Saturday that I suffered through (6:19 min/km pace) <– why did I think that run was a good idea? My sore leg got DESTROYED.
  • 2 weeks out: a 3.97 k run on Tuesday (5:29 min/km pace), a 13.44 k run on Thursday (6:13 min/km pace), and a hike/run up the Sea to Summit trail on Saturday (it took me 1:53:50).
  • 1 week out: a 5.06 k run on Monday (5:32 min/km pace) and a 5.02 k run on Wednesday (5:52 min/km pace).

Not ideal. Not ideal.

When I signed up for the race, I hoped to break the 2 hour barrier (which I’ve only done once before) and perhaps even nab a PB (my PB is something around 1:57). After training through aches and pains, I readjusted my focus to simply running healthy, even if it meant taking 2:10 or 2:15 to finish the darned thing. I felt like a lot of weight had been lifted off my shoulders by shifting my goal. So how did it go? I’ll get to that soon.


Race Details

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Spot the cute dog in the jacket

First, let’s talk about the race itself.

Registration is easy peasy – your usual sign up online affair. As I mentioned, the prices are reasonable, especially for the half and full marathon distances. Cedric signed up for the 5k (his first race ever – he is a non-runner), which was $50 – kind of expensive for the short distance. So the Boundary Bay races offer the best value for the longer distances, but it’s nice that they have a 5k and 10k option so that family and friends can take part.

The Boundary Bay website is not the best – a lot of the key information is kind of hidden in the left column. Maybe they’ll redesign the website by the time next year’s race comes around (which is when future racers are most likely to read this post – hey guys!)

Early package pick up is encouraged. If you live in the area, they give you a few options. It’s a roughly 2 hour drive from Squamish to Delta, so we opted for the day-of package pick up, which costs an extra $5 per person. You also have to send them an email ahead of time to request day-of pick up – they don’t email back to confirm, so you just have to assume it’s all good.

Picking up the bib on race day is smooth sailing. I just gave my name and the $5, and they gave me a bib, timing chip, safety pins and zap traps, and a long sleeved red t-shirt (you specify your size at check out).

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Getting stoked at the start line.

The start line has plenty of parking, some decent public bathrooms (go early – the line gets long!), and – best of all – a McDonalds food truck giving away free McCafe beverages. If the idea of downing a coffee before a marathon makes you nervous, don’t worry – the truck is still there at the end of the race.

Fifteen minutes prior to the race, there’s a group warm up. Ronald himself participates. I suppose I should mention that this race benefits the Ronald McDonald Foundation, a very worthy cause that I’m happy to support. I believe they raised $7,000+ this year at the race. Good job, participants!

Since there are four distances in the race (5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon), there is a staggered start. Marathon folks take off at 8:30, then three minutes later the half-marathon runners head out, then the 10k, then the 3k. This is great for avoiding congestion, but it makes the gun time a little misleading – for instance, by the time the 5kers take off, the clock has been ticking for about 10 minutes.

The course itself is straightforward – you cannot and will not get lost. It starts off on a hard packed gravelly/sandy/dirt pedestrian/bike path. About two km into the course, it dips into a residential neighbourhood – this is the only portion on pavement. They don’t shut the road down, so they ask you to run single file. It is a low traffic road and there are plenty of volunteers along the way, so it’s no big deal. Then, the road returns to the path, which winds along the ocean. The surface is kind of like a good dirt road – a little slower than running on a paved road, but it’s not potholed, nor is it like running on a loose gravel path. There are parts of the path that are more worn down than others, so if you can get into one of these ruts, it’s a little easier to move faster.

The turnarounds for the 5k, 10k, and half marathon are clearly marked and impossible to miss. There are a few aid stations along the way – I believe these only handed out drinks, but I’m not 100% sure since I brought my own food and drink. As I recall, things get a little boring and industrial on the full marathon route, but the when the half distance turns around, you’re still in the pretty park-like setting by the ocean. You run by a golf course and if you keep your eyes up, you may see a few golden eagles.

If you like a varied course with lots of turns and changes of scenery, you probably won’t love this course. If you like a straight course that requires little in the way of paying attention and allows you to space out and get in the zone, you’ll love it. It’s a very flat course, but given that the surface isn’t road/pavement, it may not be the best course for setting a world record. Or maybe you’ll like the surface because it’s a little easier on the body. Who knows.

The course is marked with kilometre markers and orange pylons. Since it is an out-and-back-course, the numbers are repeated on your return. So if you see the 6k marker on your way back, that means you have 6k to go.

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Snazzy medal – AND you can pretend you came first! (Note the McDonald’s hot chocolate by my feet)

The finish line is the same as the start. Upon crossing it, you get a medal to wear proudly (you earned it!) and a volunteer clips your timing chip from your shoe. Results are not instantaneous, and given that the start times are staggered, the big timer showing the gun time is not perfect for predicting your chip time.

Results are posted on the Try Events website within 24 hours – this year, it only took about 5 hours. Results are divided by distance, but not by age group or sex (these details aren’t provided at all). The order is determined by gun time; there is no option to sort by chip time, so your finishing position may be a little off. If I could give one piece of feedback, it would be to provide better results data – but I’m kind of a data nerd.


My Race

Okay, time to talk about my personal race experience. We had to leave Squamish early (around 6 AM), but the race happened to take place on the day Daylight Savings wound up, so it felt more like 7 AM, mercifully. It was clear day, but cold as heck. Most of my warm up consisted of hopping around trying to maintain circulation. I was VERY glad to have worn running gloves.

I didn’t really get a chance to seed myself at the start line – I just joined the queue, somewhat towards the back, then we were off. I weaved my way through to the crowd to try to find a comfortable start in the first kilometre. I settled somewhere in the middle.

I hadn’t quite decided on a strategy for my race. On the one hand, I could try to run slow and steady to ward off my calf pain for as long as possible (it had reared its ugly head anywhere from 3k to 13k into my “training” runs). On the other hand, I could try to run fast early on to make up for the slow-down that the leg drama would inevitably cause. I was feeling pretty strong, so I decided to run at a pace that felt a little challenging but sustainable.

For this race, I had a feeling I would need extra motivation for zoning out and not focusing on any discomfort, so I busted out a secret weapon: music. I hardly ever run with music (NEVER in the trails), but I had good luck running with tunes at the Squamish Loggers Day 8k in August. This turned out to be a wonderful distraction. The two songs that gave me the most turbospeed super powers (think the mushroom in MarioKart) were Sail by AWOLNation and Forgot About Dre.

KM 1 – 7

The first 7 k felt good, but I was freezing cold. My hands and feet were totally numb. There were a lot of distractions throughout this part of the run: other racers, the km markers, the turnoffs for the 5 k and 10 k distances, the road detour, etc.

Around km 7, three things happened:

  1. My extremities thawed. This was both wonderful and awful (have you ever had that hands defrosting feeling where it feels your nails are falling off? Yeah). I stuffed my running gloves in my vest for the rest of the run.
  2. Sail came on my iPod. I passed a large group of runners and felt like a superstar.
  3. The dull pain in my leg reared its head. I was a little annoyed but happy I’d enjoyed 7 kilometres of pain-free running.

Splits:

KM 1: 5:49 — KM 2: 5:38 — KM 3: 5:29 — KM 4: 5:39 — KM 5: 5:39 — KM 6: 5:38 — KM 7: 5:42

KM 8 – 14

Though the ache in my leg was present, it didn’t feel like pain – just discomfort. My left hip flexor also felt a little wonky (this was a new ailment), so I just focused on keeping proper running form (glutes! glutes! glutes!) and listening to my music. I tried to run relatively conservatively for the first few kms in this segment, knowing that I could pick up the pace depending on how was I feeling at the turnaround.

The turnaround snuck up pretty quickly, so I bid adieu to the poor marathoners and started making my way back. I chowed down on a Kewaza ball at the halfway mark to keep my energy levels high for the second half of the race. (I talk about Kewaza balls and other fueling fun facts in this old marathon training post, if you’re interested.)

When I run longer distances, I try to assessment my effort every so often and think: can I sustain this pace for 15 more minutes? (I read this somewhere long ago and for whatever reason, it works for me). This helped keep me pushing, but within reason.

As I got closer to km 14, I felt a little tired, but I knew that I still had plenty in me. When I reached the 2/3rds mark, I was pleased with how much energy I felt I still had.

I slowed down in this segment, which I’m going to go ahead and blame on the minor but nagging leg tightness.

Splits:

KM 8: 5:46 — KM 9: 5:48 — KM 10: 5:47 — KM 11: 5:53 — KM 12: 5:51 — KM 13: 5:59 — KM 14: 6:00

KM 15 – 21.1

I was feeling good and the solid tunes just kept on coming, so I allowed myself to stare off into the distance and go on autopilot. By this point, the runners were fairly well spaced out. I could see the same cast of characters ahead of me (orange jacket guy, blue jacket guy, black top guy, etc.). Every so often, someone ahead would pull over to walk or tie a shoe. A couple of people passed me, but I had a good amount of wind left in me and I was able to pass more than passed me.

This rarely happens, but the km markers seemed to come reasonably quickly as the race went on. I started to wonder if, against all odds, I just might sneak in under the 2 hour mark after all. I didn’t have a watch on me and my phone was tucked away, so I had to go purely based on feel. I knew I’d have to pick it up and challenge myself if I wanted to really go for it, so I tried my best to giv’er.

Before I knew it, I could see the finish line up ahead. Is it just me or does the finish line always seem like a mirage – so close, but so far? Luckily, the CLASSIC Darude hit, Sandstorm, doo-doo-doo-doo-dooed me all the way to the finish line.

Splits

KM 16: 5:44 — KM 17: 5:45 — KM 18: 5:54 — KM 19: 5:46 — KM 20: 5:44 – KM 21: 5:14 (it was Sandstorm)

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My final chip time, according to the results, was 2:02:23. I am STOKED with this! No, I didn’t break the 2 hour mark, but I felt sooooo good the whole time DESPITE the most lackluster training and a nagging injury. You know what that means, right? It means that if I let myself heal properly and bust my butt in the spring, odds are good that I can set a PR at half in 2018. Game on!

I placed 78/249 runners in the half distance, which I’m happy with (though this is a little misleading, because a handful of runners raced faster than I did, but their gun time was slower because they started behind me). I estimate I came 37/119 for women (based on names that sound womanly) – alright!

As for Cedric, despite ZERO training (literally not a single practice run – though there was some cross training at the gym and on his mountain bike), he placed 12 out of 99 runners for the 5k! He says the runners in that group were on the casual side, but still – I’m pretty stoked for him.

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And that’s that for another year of races. I’ll do a full Year in Review a little later, but I’m so happy to have finished on a high note after facing a few good road bumps in my running this year.

Whistler, You’ve Changed, Man.

When I think about my former place of residence, one thing comes to mind:

Whistler, you’ve changed, man.

To be fair, I have changed, too. When I arrived in Whistler, I had just turned 25. I had quit my career, packed my life (i.e., my snowboard) into my car, and showed up with an open mind, plenty of time on my hands, and enough cash to float me through a season of snowboarding, hot yoga, vodka sodas, and a couple of jobs that were more about the social aspect than the money. When I left four and a half years later, I was a new homeowner with a stable career, a long-term boyfriend, and a few extra snowboards to my name.

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Glory days

So it’s hard to tell if Whistler has turned its back on me – or if it’s my fault for turning my back on Whistler.


Whistler is a VERY fun place to go if you’re rich. If you can afford a week of skiing from the comfort of your luxury hotel (or better yet, the ski cabin that you own in Stoneridge or maybe Kadenwood), and if you’ve got the money to indulge in some choice spa treatments and multi-course meals from fantastic restaurants, then you are going to love Whistler. There’s no question about it.


Whistler is pretty fun if you live there, too.

At least, it was when I lived there. I hear it’s a little harder these days – finding time to shred is somewhat of a challenge when you’re working doubles and trying to earn enough money to cover your ridiculous rent (and literally nothing else because nothing is left after you pay rent). Work leaves you feeling exhausted because your place(s) of work are severely understaffed, so you often feel like you’re doing the job of three employees – but only being paid for one. When you do find time to sleep, you find yourself staring at the ceiling, wondering what you’ll do if your landlord decides to cash in on the smoking hot real estate market.

Despite these challenges, there are moments that make it all worth it: catching the first Peak chair on an unexpected midweek pow day; walking from the bus stop to your house after a night out and noticing that you’ve never seen such a dark sky or so many stars; taking 45 minutes to get from one end of the stroll to the other because you run into so many rad friends along the way.

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One of those “Worth It” days.


Whistler as a middle-of-the-road visitor? Well, it’s lacking.

Forget an overnight trip – for fun, I looked up the price of a hotel on a January weekend on Expedia and guess what? All of the hotels are sold out! For EVERY weekend in January! Oh well – regular visitors likely can’t afford a room, anyway.

So, a day trip it is. People complain about the lack of free parking in Whistler, but cost isn’t your biggest obstacle: finding a place to park is the real challenge.

Once you’ve nabbed a questionably legitimate parking spot, it’s time to head up the mountain. Assuming you’ve headed up on the weekend (if you’re close enough for a day trip, odds are good that you live in the city or Sea to Sky corridor and work a job with regular hours), be prepared to wait – in the village to head up the gondola; in the lift lines to catch the next chair; in the lodges to grab lunch.

Can we talk about the on-mountain food for a moment? It’s quite good – better than your average ski lodge food – but holy prices! It’s tough to find anything under $15, which is rather steep for cafeteria food (and no matter how tasty it is, it’s still caf food). To be fair, the portions are massive – but who wants to each such huge quantities mid-day on the mountain? You’re left feeling overstuffed and sluggish. Your best bet is to opt for the kids meal or to split with a friend.

Although there is a lot of waiting around, the runs are good – really good. No matter how much Whistler changes, the epic terrain remains. Thank goodness for that.

After a solid day on the slopes, you may decide to indulge in a little apres in hopes of avoiding the standstill traffic jam clogging the 99. If you’ve maximized your time on the mountain, you’re probably not going to nab a spot on a patio – but trust me, you’re not missing out on much. In my experience, the better the location, the worse the fare (and often service).*

*Exception for GLC – I would sit on an uncovered patio table in the snow/rain in a soggy snowsuit for the honour of eating your dreamy waffle fries.


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The old quiver.

These days, I find myself in the third category – and while I live for those epic pow stashes and equally epic waffle fries, I find that the cons that come with a day trip to Whistler are starting to outweigh the pros.

The fact is this: although I was once Whistler’s biggest cheerleader, I’m just not their target market anymore. And unless I stumble upon a mountain of cash, I probably never will be.

I’m actually kind of okay with that. After all, I chose to leave Whistler. I’ve established a mighty fine life for myself in Squamish. However, I feel for the people who live in Whistler. Something has shifted in my friends who are lucky enough to call it home. They stress about housing (even if they’re lucky enough to have it). They feel overwhelmed – but largely unfulfilled – with their jobs. Most of them are watching changes unfold rapidly in the mountain operations and the character of the town as a whole – and it doesn’t feel like their Whistler anymore.

It can’t be sustainable, right? Won’t the whole place fall apart when there is no one left to work there and when wealthy tourists spend more time waiting than playing?

I feel that this sentiment has been repeated for decades – and yet, Whistler lives on.

Bread Illustrated’s Oatmeal Raisin Bread

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After my disastrous Portuguese Sweet Bread experiment, I wanted to redeem myself with another recipe from the “Sweeter Side” chapter in the Bread Illustrated cookbook. The oatmeal raisin bread recipe seemed approachable and foolproof – plus, I happen to love oatmeal and raisins.

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Similar to the quinoa loaf I made awhile back (I actually make this one every few weeks – it’s really tasty), this recipes gets a little boost of moisture, only instead of quinoa, it uses oatmeal. You make the oatmeal ahead of time, then incorporate it into the dough as it comes together.

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Step one is to make the oatmeal. The recipes calls for old-fashioned rolled oats and cautions against using instant or quick oats, which evidently make the loaf “stodgy”. I’m not exactly sure what stodgy bread tastes like, but I certainly didn’t want to find out, so I bought the right kind of oats.

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I made the oatmeal and while I was waiting for it to cool, I melted the requisite three tablespoons of butter. I’ve found a little hack to get my milk to room temperature quickly: often, a recipe that calls for room temperature milk also includes melted butter. I pour the milk into a metal bowl and I place it on the turned off, but still-warm stove element that I used to melt the butter. Boom.

The wet (melted butter, milk, and a bit of brown sugar disintegrated into the mix) gets kneaded into the dry (bread flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, and salt), then the oatmeal gets added in bit by bit. Then, it’s time to toss in the raisins.

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Ewwwwww

Of course, no bread making process can go perfectly – not under my watch, at least. As I prepared to measure out half a cup of raisins, I was horrified to discover I’d accidentally bought prunes. They must have been hidden among the raisins at Craig’s. I texted my sister to see if I might be able to substitute finely chopped prunes in place of raisins. She told me that it sounded disgusting, so I covered my partially mixed dough and ran to the store to acquire raisins.

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Much better.

Crisis averted. I mixed the raisins in, kneaded the loaf a little by hand, let it rise for an hour and a half, then rolled it into a log that looked kind of like a sad, cute animal.

 

The recipe calls for spraying the loaf with water then rolling it in oats. Check out this action shot: imagine the skills that were involved in taking the picture while simultaneously spraying the spritzer bottle. That is art.

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Sad little animal – am I right?

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I popped the oat-y log into a loaf pan, let it rise while the oven preheated, then baked it for 45 minutes.

 

The result? A lovely little oatmeal raisin loaf. No surprises here – in a good way.

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The loaf shed quite a few of the oats as I cut through it, but I have to admit they make the loaf look rather pretty. As for the taste, here’s are some of my notes:

  • This isn’t the most exciting loaf, but it’s good. The best way I can think of describing it is “Grandma-y”.
  • I love the raisins and would probably add more next time.
  • The oatmeal doesn’t come through in the taste (I mean, oatmeal doesn’t have a particularly strong taste), but it does add a lot of moisture.
  • I think spices would kick it up a notch – cinnamon, nutmeg, something like that – but the book already has a recipe for cinnamon raisin bread, so I won’t fault it.

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In short, I will have no problem eating my way through this tasty little loaf.


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Thanksgiving Weekend Finale: Capra’s Turkey and Trails Run

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Despite what my previous two Thanksgiving weekend recap posts might suggest (pumpkin pie and butter rolls), I did more than just eat over the long weekend.

Capra, the local trail running store and the hub of Squamish’s trail running community, put on a fun, family-oriented trail run this past Saturday, October 7. The run is called Capra Turkey & Trails, and it was the second year in a row that they put on the event (not bad, considering they recently celebrated their first anniversary).

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As advertised: the weather looked exactly like their promo pic (above)

I haven’t been doing a ton of trail running lately, but recent runs have included running up 50 Shades and running down Credit Line. I was relieved when I found out that the 6k trail run consisted of running halfway around Alice Lake, out on Jack’s, up 50 Shades,  down Credit Line, and back to Alice Lake via Jack’s. These aren’t necessarily easy trails, but at least I was very familiar with them.

The race was right up my alley: small and informal, but well executed. I had signed up online (the $35 fee includes a donation to the food bank), so I just had to pick up my bib before the race and I was good to go. Though the forecast looked iffy, the weather ended up being prime for a fall run: cool and overcast.

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I watched the tail end of the kids races (a 1k – the Gobble Wobble – and a 3k youth trail race), then I set out alongside 38 other runners to take on the trails. I started towards the back-ish but ended up passing a few people on the 50 Shades ascent. I ran the majority of the trail – something I definitely don’t do when I’m running it on my own.

The technical descent down Credit Line made for tricky passing. Luckily, we were pretty well spaced out by then. One dude passed me, and I passed a couple more people (mostly because they had to pull over to take off an outer layer or re-tie shoelaces – but hey, I’ll take it).

Arguably the toughest part of the course is “gentle” ascent back to Alice Lake on Jack’s Trail. This darned trail doesn’t look very daunting, but the up is just enough to be annoying – especially after having conquered the ups on 50 Shades. I made it back to the finish line in 45:15, which put me in 23rd place out of 39 runners. (Technically the last runner was the sweep guy so I’m not sure he should count…)

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Although Turkey & Trails is one of the smaller races I’ve done, they seem to have had the largest prize table of any race I’ve attended – and the best part is that prizes were drawn, not earned. That’s always good news for a middle (er… back) of the packer like myself. I didn’t walk away with either of the grand prizes (Altra shoes or La Sportiva shoes – I wish!), but I did get a snazzy, squishy Capra cup.

Will I be back next year? Heck yes! Will I be running Credit Line anytime soon? Heck no – apparently, a cougar has made it his local hang out, and he’s not that keen on sharing it with the rest of us.

Turkey & Trails – make it part of your Thanksgiving weekend traditions!