The West Van Run [T: @westvanrun | IG: @westvanrun] is an annual 5K and 10K run/walk in scenic West Vancouver. The race is held in early March each year with the 5K on the Saturday, 10K on the Sunday, and a 1K kids run both days. Runners are welcome to join for one or both days. The race is chip timed and features waterfront views. Registration includes a t-shirt, finisher’s medal, and post-race snacks.
I am proud to be a member of the West Van Run Team of ambassadors for this well-organized and community-minded race. I have participated in the West Van Run every year since 2016 and have always opted for both the 5K and 10K. Over the years I’ve achieved PR’s, run it 2 months pregnant, and run it with a 5-month-old baby. It’s always a fantastic time! Check out my West Van Run 2016 race report, the first time I ran it.
The next West Van Run is on March 2 & 3, 2019. Use discount code ‘brie’ to save 10% on registration.
The West Van Run is organized by Kirill Solovyev who has since expanded to two more races: the West Van Run Summer and North Van Run [T: @northvanrun | IG: @northvanrun]. Despite being a super speedy runner himself, he’s more than happy to slow down and hang out with the pack. In fact, he hosts all-speeds-welcome training/social runs through his club, the West Van Run Crew, every Saturday at 9:30am starting from Caffe Artigiano.
The West Van Run Team includes several of my run blogger friends who are super active members of the running community. One of the highlights of the race for me is seeing these awesome people there. The full list of ambassadors can be found on the West Van Run website, but here are the ones I know best.
Jeannine is a road and trail runner. She hosts a popular wedding blog in addition to her running blog, hence the name Everything but Weddings. I am envious of all her travel, especially her trips to run the Paris and Berlin Marathons. Jeannine takes great photos, loves her cat, Hobbes, and is a foodie.
You can recognize Bradley by his signature orange hat and constant smile. He’s participates in tons of races every year and is always trying to set a new PR. We did a road trip together in 2016 to run the North County Wine Run in southern Washington as BibRave Pros. It was a blast! Fun fact: Bradley lived in Japan and can speak Japanese!
Karin is a sprinter, running coach, and mom. I remember her running the Moustache Miler 5K quite pregnant one year and still achieving an incredible time. She is energetic, upbeat, and knowledgable about everything running and fitness. She even helped me with prenatal and postnatal exercises. I’ve always impressed by how many languages her family speaks!
Mark is a hardcore trail and ultrarunner who recently BQ’ed. His list of accomplishments include running the Club Fat Ass Van 100, a double crossing of the intense 50K Baden Powell trail, and the Squamish 50/50, a 50 mile race followed by a 50 km race the following day.
Last but not least, Debra! She deserves awards for her dedication and commitment to the running community. Debra is at every local race either running, volunteering, or often both. She takes 1000s of photos at every event and shares them on social media for everyone to enjoy. Oh, did I mention that she wears the most amazing costumes too?
Early this year, Altitude Sports sent me a brand new Helly Hansen Lifaloft Insulator Jacket (note that mine is the hoodless version, although I’d definitely recommend getting one with a hood) to test out during the end of winter and spring. It was so new that it wouldn’t even be for sale until this fall, which is why I’m posting my review now. Aside from making me feel super badass, this meant that I was able to wear it for quite a long time.
The Helly Hansen Lifaloft Insulator is a super lightweight and packable “puffy” jacket. The one I received has a shiny black, water-resistant/windproof exterior.
Lifaloft is Helly Hansen’s newest insulation which combines their LIFA® technology with Primaloft® insulation. According to their website, Lifaloft is 20% lighter than standard insulation due to lighter fibres and increased air pockets.
Before we get into the details, I’m a huge fan of puffy jackets. They are the BEST and if you EVER go outside, you should definitely have one. I bring at least one with me everywhere (except in the hottest of summer months). If I’m not wearing it or packing it, it’s waiting in my car for my return. It’s a piece of heaven after a long, cold, soaking wet, typical Vancouver trail run.
I wore this jacket everywhere. From the ocean to the mountains and around the city. On rainy runs around the park, on snowy hikes with elevation gain, and on walks to the store with a 17 lb baby strapped to my front and a pack of groceries on by back. Looking back, I probably should have washed it more often, oops!
One of the main reasons I wore this jacket everywhere is that it packs up nicely. It’s so easy to stash in a hiking pack or larger running pack (or even a diaper bag). My only suggestion for Helly Hansen is to add a little pocket for packing the jacket into itself.
Often with technical gear, the lighter you go the less durable it is. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Lifaloft Insulator jacket. I was a little concerned I’d tear it before getting good photos for my review but it has proven to be quite durable. I wore this with both a baby in a carrier and a backpack and there are no signs of wear from the straps.
While it’s definitely not a rain jacket, I found the water resistance was adequate for a short time out in light rain.
I have a hard time quantifying the warmth of a jacket. But in the interest of trying, I’d say it’s a good level of warmth for walking and hiking in cool to cold weather or running in quite cold weather or light snow. For me, it’s not warm enough on its own for standing still outside in the freezing cold, but then again I’ve been known to layer puffy jackets (you can never have too many). It’s also perfect for layering under a waterproof shell.
Fit & fashion
I’m 5’7 and 150 lbs and the medium fits me perfectly. It has a flattering tailored fit with elastic wrists and an adjustable drawstring at the bottom to help keep the heat in. It fits long, which is a must for me, and has a curved hem in the back providing some bum coverage.
There is lots of storage with two decently-sized, zippered pockets on the outside and as well as two non-zippered pockets on the inside.
After a heatwave and oodles of wildfires across our province and the associated smokiness, I’m super ready for the fall and excited by the prospect of cooler temperatures. I’ll be breaking this jacket out again soon to go on some cool, wet, and muddy Vancouver area adventures. And rewarding myself with a pumpkin spice latte after, of course!
To recap, Buff sent me three products to help me go adventuring. My definition of adventuring since having a baby in October is simply leaving the house and getting outside. I missed the mountains and was ready to get motivated and moving more.
Walking has been a key activity for me in the past 8 months. It’s low impact, helps get the blood flowing, and aids in recovery. The fresh air and sunshine does wonders for both mine, my baby’s, and my dog’s moods and wellbeing. Plus it’s super easy and accessible. Well … in theory, anyway.
Getting out the door is more challenging with a diaper bag, stroller, poop bags, leash, water bottle, and clothing for every weather possibility. The walks themselves are much more cumbersome when you have a dog and a baby to mange too. My dog isn’t the best on a leash (oops) and we basically take up the whole sidewalk or path with our caravan.
Hadley loves our walks and proudly wears her Buff Dog Reflective Neckwear.
I love to volunteer for races but haven’t been able to as much the past year or so. But I decided it was time to get back at its I volunteered at a booth at the 5 Peaks Golden Ears Race in May with my little one.
It was a crisp, misty morning by the lake and I was glad to have thrown the Buff Adalwolf Hat in my car despite a warm forecast. I used it to keep my babe’s head warm until the sun came out later on.
My favourite part of these events is that I get to chat with so many running friends and their families. I also get to cheer them on and see them crush their goals!
Grouse Grind with Baby
I got really into the Grouse Grind the summer of 2016. It is a very popular and challenging trail for tourists and locals with 850 metres of elevation gain over about 3 km. I didn’t do it while pregnant in 2017 so I was itching to get back to it this summer … but this time carrying a baby.
When the trail finally opened for the summer, I got my annual locals pass which entitles you to unlimited download rides on the gondola (otherwise $15 per trip down). The trail is one-way (up) only, although there are alternatives if you want to hike down too.
Hiking down is more challenging on the technical terrain and I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that with a baby strapped to me. Plus I don’t think my knees would like carrying the extra weight down such a steep grade.
I’m very familiar with the trail but I was nervous to find out how my body would feel doing it now while carrying an extra 17 lbs of baby. The Grouse Grind has an infamous history of search and rescue calls for people who can’t make it or have heart attacks. The main reason is that it is super accessible and people underestimate it or come unprepared. So I went with friends in case I needed help. The last thing I want to do is get me and my babe stuck halfway up a mountain.
Well I’m relieved to say we made it to the top! And it wasn’t so bad! It took us 2 hours which is almost twice as long as it took me pre-pregnancy, sans baby.
I sweated like crazy all over myself and my little one but luckily I brought a change of clothes for her. It was cooler at the top so we bundled up with our Buff Lightweight Merino Wool Hat and Adalwolf Hat.
Since then we’ve done it another two times. My fastest time this season is 1:38:14, as compared to my 2016 best was 45:24. But I never would have thought to do it with an extra 17 lbs!
I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be spending more time in the forest and starting to feel strong again. Thank you Buff for encouraging to set goals and Live More Now!