Latest reviews by Willa Potter

(2016)
"BMO Vancouver Marathon 2016"
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BMO Vancouver Marathon wrap up! Wow what a day! After transitioning from road to trail racing two years ago, I never thought I would run this again.

Then following the passing of a dear little girl, I decided to sign up and run to raise money for Canuck Place Children's Hospice.

So I signed up just before Christmas and began fundraising and carried on with my trail running and occasionally some road runs with Toby in the stroller.

Fundraising was slower than what I have achieved in the past (I blame this on my being ridiculously busy with nursing school), and training was definitely a challenge with my schedule.

Last week I had a huge outpour of support and funds for the cause! Can I just say I have amazing friends and family?!? Thank you so so much for your continued thoughtfulness and generosity!

My training schedule called for a taper and I ignored it big time! Instead I ran 60 km of the Sunshine Coast Trail last weekend and about 10-15 km almost every day this week! Oops!

I went into this race today with no expectations other than to enjoy it as much as possible and cross the finish line. I feared my old and busted shoes would fail me and just disintegrate on the route, but alas they are magic shoes and they have lived to race another race!

My good friend Chris Hardy came to see us off at the start (thanks so much for that by the way). I ran with my friend Joel Krentz (this was his first marathon) for about 15 km before he started to get ahead of me. I managed a sub 2 hour half marathon and then met up with him again. He was doing great but had slowed down to save his legs for the second half.

I forgot how much I love the city of Vancouver on a nice sunny day! What a gorgeous race route- with over half of it along the water! Thank you race directors and the city of Vancouver for allowing this route to be given to us runners today!

I cruised along between 5-6 minute kilometers for pretty much the entire race. I thought for sure I would slow to 7-8 mins by the last 10 km but somehow my race nutrition and hydration and pace worked in my favor and I started feeling really good around the 32 km mark. This is the first time I looked at my watch and really considered my possible finish time. This was also the point where I was greeted by signs from Canuck Place filled with quotes about overcoming pain and hardship and living in the moment and being grateful for what we have experienced. I had a huge wave of emotion rush over me and took in the weight of those words and thought about the amazing things that Hospice facilities and workers so everyday for patients and families. This made me think about my parents and all they have done for so many. I had a good cry and was filled with a new found motivation.

My friends Brie Hemingway and Kyle Conway were manning an aid station along the seawall so I got some hugs and more energy from them! Thanks guys!

I realized that a sub 4:20 finish was within my reach, so I fought through the hip and lower back pains that I always get on road and just kept moving along. It was so tempting to stop and walk but I just figured I would have been pretty pissed if I slacked so close to the finish and messed up my time. Also, walking would be more painful anyway and would take longer!

Can I just point out the first half of this marathon is awesome (hilly, tougher than the second half) but the second half feels harder because it has lots of long flat sections (10 km around the seawall) followed by one long gradual uphill to the finish (where you can see the arch from forever away). Honestly that hill up to the finish just won't end! I wanted so badly to walk it, but I didn't. I really dug deep and kept increasing the speed until the end. The photographers definitely got my pain face and nothing else haha!

I also got to see my dear friend Shawn Smith complete his first marathon! So proud of him and Joel!

This finish is a huge accomplishment for me for many reasons. Many of you know I was having some health concerns over the last year and I was diagnosed with two chronic illnesses: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Endometriosis. This, combined with an extremely stressful semester at school and multiple deaths within a short time frame, rendered me pretty exhausted and unmotivated. I did not know if I could finish this run today, let alone some of the bigger ultra races I wanted to tackle this season. A postpartum PR was completely off the radar and such a gift.

I am feeling so grateful not only to have had such a good race, but also to have raised over $500 for Canuck Place. I am so happy I am crying again!

Thanks to all of you who make my life that much more radiant! Xoxoxo

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(2016)
"Vancouver Sun Run 2016"
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We were treated to a gorgeous sunny morning waiting in our corral for the 2016 Vancouver Sun Run. I was running pushing my son Toby in the stroller, so I had to start in the very last corral behind all the runners and walkers. This proved a challenge along the course!

As I would normally be running in a much faster corral, I quickly found myself having to weave and bob around thousands of walkers and slower runners to be able to run at a pace close to my regular speed. It was an exercise in patience and tactical maneuvering. My friends Brie, Chris, Jesse, and Greg agreed to run with me (despite also being way faster than the corral) and ended up acting as blockers for my stroller to get in and out of the crowds of people we were passing.

The course weaves through downtown Vancouver's beautiful waterfront and over the Burrard Street bridge into Kitsliano and back to downtown Vancouver again via the Cambie Street bridge. We were treated to live music, super soakers to beat the heat, and lots of cheery volunteers along the way. This is a really fun race to enjoy- as long as you aren't overly concerned about achieving a PR!

The course is mostly flat with a few undulating rollers and a couple short, steep climbs (really not bad- I managed to run them all pushing the stroller without stopping so definitely runnable). It finishes with a downhill from the Cambie bridge to the finish (nice for a sprint and great photo).

The post- race area was chaos- very very busy (with 50,000 people I guess that is to be expected) and they ran out of some foods, but I managed to get some chocolate milk and bananas and get out before claustrophobia set in!

I was so glad I put on sunscreen before the race, as I still managed to get a gnarly sock and short tan! This time of year in Vancouver is always a toss up for weather- so having a hot sunny day was a nice treat compared with the cold and rainy day the last year I ran it! We got to sit outside and soak up the sun and relax.

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(2016)
"Gorge 100k"
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Beautiful course, incredible views, awesome people! Waterfalls and beautiful trails through majestic Oregon!

Only negative is the tight cut- off times for the 100k distance! Very tough for a mid- to back of the pack racer to reach each cut off and finish before the cut- off time of 17 hours.

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(2016)
"Hot Chocolate run!"
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Another great Try Events race! After volunteering at package pickup, my friend Chris and I set off to run the 10.4 km course around Vancouver's beautiful seawall through Stanley Park.

The weather was unexpectedly warm and sunny (so much so that only one km into the race I needed to remove a layer- which is rare!). We were treated to unbelievably stunning views of vancouver's waterfront, the amazing sights of Stanley park and all its beaches, and it was so clear we could see all the way across the water to North Vancouver. Just absolutely epic!

The volunteers out of course were wonderful! Try Events always seem to have a great group of fabulous volunteers who come out on their weekends to help hydrate and motivate runners! Thank you volunteers! They kept our spirits high and gave lots of high fives along the course!

The course is all pretty flat except for the last kilometre which is basically one long steep hill to the finish line! A nice workout at the end! Chris and I decided to have a race to the finish, which made for some hilarious pictures afterwards! We were rewarded with awesome medals and a feast of snacks, including mugs of hot chocolate from Starbucks! Yum!!!

I loved this event and will probably do it every year for the vibe and the scenery alone!

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(2016)
"Fort Langley Historic Half Marathon"
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Had an amazing time at the Fort Langley Historic Half Marathon with my friends Brie, Chris, and Ward. The morning was freezing cold and everyone huddled around the fire they had set up by the start line.

The course was gorgeous- up and through farmland and the adorable town of Fort Langley. Some nice rolling hills with a few short steep sections gave the course great flow. There were lots of amazing volunteers braving the cold weather to cheer everyone on and make sure they were all safe!

The finish line greeted us with beautiful medals and lots of snack options! And the fire! We were able to warm up and get toasty again quickly!

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