Friday, 27 September 2013

Milton Half Marathon 2013

BIB #: 482
TIME: 1:50:50
CHIP: 1:50:40
PACE: 5:16
CAT. PLACE: 7/15

Jamie and I had just finished the Mississauga Marathon and both decided to take it easy for the summer, not really train for anything but be ready should we want to run a half in the fall. I was 90% sure that I wanted to run Milton, and after a few months of indecisiveness I decided to sign up. This is where things got interesting; I couldn't sign up with my AMEX card so I asked Jamie to sign me up and I would pay him for it. A week before the race I got an email from RS races..."Hello Fred LeDoup, Thank you for your order." "Jamie you ass!" I said out loud and proceeded to laugh my ass off...I spent the next ten minutes trying to explain to the RS Races guy that my name should be changed, I told him the story of how it happened, and he laughed as well...he told me to send an email and they would change it. Saturday September 14th came and I went to pick up my kit, "Sorry sir there is no Philip Morris on the Roster"...I smiled and said "it must be under Fred LeDoup" and it was. I became Fred LeDoup.

The training plan was about 10k when I could which was usually Monday, Wednesday and the odd Thursday/Friday and a long run between 15 and 20k on the weekend. I would run without staring at my watch, run by feel, try and focus on economy. Generally I ended up with about a 40km week. I came up with a couple of sub 50min 10k runs and a couple of sub 2hr 20k's while training which gave me an inkling of being able to PB; this was the race I PB'd in last year.

Race Day
I was as ready as I could be, race day had come. Sandy and Graham had offered to cheer my on, so we all awakened at the dawn of crack. I had my traditional cereal with fruit and a big glass of water. I showered, got dressed and we left the house. Packing my stuff the night before and double checking before I went to bed ensured that I wouldn't go through the same hell I went through at Mississauga; forgetting my garmin, fuel belt, water etc. Sandy, Graham and I were in Milton by 7am with Starbucks in hand. Everything had been going really smoothly. A couple of guys in the starbucks wished us luck at the race and we left.

We gathered at the meetup in the Go Station parking lot. The beautiful thing about a small race is that it's very easy to find your friends. The gathering included myself Nicole, Alan, Shawna, Robin, and Peter. Peter was not running but came to cheer us on...awesome! 

Sandy and Graham wished me luck and went to get some prime real estate at the corner of the parking lot near the Hakim Optical.

Ready, Set, Go!
Jamie and I had planned on running this one together, and I hadn't seen him yet; until we lined up in the corral. We got a quick photo snapped and off we went
Fred LeDoup and Jamie MacRury

We lined up behind the 1:50 pacer who recognized me from last year and commented that I should be running at the front of the pack by now...?! A small amount of doubt entered my mind as I pondered his statement. Should I be faster? Maybe I set the bar too low? Have I been too lax with my training? No time for anymore questions...the gun went off and we were running.

The course was identical to last year, I had pictured it in my mind for the weeks leading up. I had run the race in my head several times. The starting gate was on the road this year which was much better. My wife was here this year which was much better. I was running the race with my friend which was much better. It occurred to me that we didn't get a group photo...we passed Sandy and Graham and they wished Jamie and Fred good luck. Fred...jeesh!

Rockin' and rollin'
We started off at a good clip, I was feeling strong; we passed quite a few runners in the first few kms and eased into the high end of my comfortable pace. Jamie and I chatted back and forth about roadkill, mice, and wrestling. We kept pace with a lady who's husband and little one came to several locations of the race to cheer her on. very sweet :) 

10 kilometers came and went, we passed the halfway point and ran into a familiar face, our friend Mark was there cheering on his wife. Jamie said "do the robot" as we passed him. I think I did the zombie instead??

So there came a time in this race when I went from feeling strong to feeling not so strong. I got quiet and serious, it felt like I was slowing down. Suddenly up ahead I could see a small gathering of people holding signs...Nicole's family was there with the signs they had made for the race with all of our DM friends names on it. That filled me with positive energy, enough to step it up again and get back on pace! Thanks Macpherson Family!

Making my way out of the old neighbourhood was a physical struggle for me last year. This year was no different; the rolling hills did me no favours, and the negative part of my brain was fighting with me. Jamie was really helpful and kept me going, and helped keep things light. 

Crossing Thompson towards the Tupper loop I saw three lovely ladies (Amy, Sarah, and Marguerita)   on the corner cheering the runners on; I was struggling so they were a sight for sore eyes :) I yelled some kind of blubbering something or other at them and they let out a great cheer "Go Phil!" at least thats what I heard LOL! I knew on the way back they'd be there too...something to look forward too :) 

Up the street at the water station Jamie's wife Dee and their two kids were waiting with water and big hugs for their dad :) and a cheer for me!

By this point my energy level was down, but my spirit was up. We rounded the loop, had another cheer from the MacRury's, and the DM Cheerleaders and headed towards the homestretch. 

Only 2k!
Jamie yelled back to me "only 2k to go, I'm gonna giv'r" and off he went; I tried to keep up but he's faster than me, especially after 19km :P 

The end is near...
Back on Thompson I knew the end was near, I pushed on, my legs were heavy, I felt spent; then Nicole showed up beside me "c'mon Phil let's go!" I did my best to keep on her heels. We turned onto main and I looked for Sandy and Graham. There they were! My heart skipped a beat, a lump in my throat, (how great is this that my wife and child are here to cheer me on!!) and I went for the final push across the finish line.

Nicole and Jamie were there to hi-5 me; I grabbed my medal, goodie bag and sat down to eat my banana. We gathered near the finish line and cheered on the racers after us. We saw Alan cross the line and milled about for a few more minutes. I said my goodbyes and left to go and change at the car. We saw Robin who had PB'd (awesome). 

I enjoyed this race and will do it year PB? I think I will train a little harder next year...and go for it!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mississauga Marathon 2013

BIB #: 582
TIME: 4:11:58.8
CHIP: 4:10:14.0
PACE: 5:56
CAT. PLACE: 113/164
8km SPLIT: 00:43:55
21.1km SPLIT: 01:57:22
25km SPLIT: 02:19:57

Sometime late in 2012 I decided that I was going to run my first marathon...I mean how hard could it be? I heard all the stories from others about "the wall" and how "it near killed me" and "it's the hardest thing you'll ever do in your life". To some those statements may have been a deterrent but to me it was a challenge; besides I looked at all of my Dailymile friends that had done one or more than one or many! People just like me who work during the day and do family things on a daily basis were running them; why not me? After discussing my plan with my long time friend Jamie MacRury we decided to both sign up for the full in Mississauga and train together. This would be the one year anniversary of last years Mississauga half; the first half marathon I had ever run. 
Happy faces at the finish of my first ever half
(Left to right - Liam, Graham, me, Mike)

I needed a plan that would help me to still have a family life and be able to still have a good race and be fully capable of finishing. Knowing that I would need to train harder than I had ever trained before I sought the advice of others and was inundated with several suggestions that were very helpful; I opted to go with an 18 week plan loosely based on a schedule which I customized through Run For Life; it included two weekday runs: (1) speed interval run (which I chose to turn into a hill training run), one tempo run, and a weekend LSD. If there is any suggestion that I can make about marathon training it would be to find someone, or a group of people to train with. Jamie and I ran all but two of the weekend  LSD's together. The three that I ran alone were The Chilly Half (which I consider to have run with Sam J.), my first 24k, and my second 30k. Jamie and I ran in rain, snow, sleet, sub-zero temps, we ran on icy sidewalks, and through extremely windy days. We were a team; I can't thank him enough. 
Jamie on the road behind UTM; it was -24'C if you look closely
you can see deer in the woods and the frost on his eyelashes
Many people asked me what my goal for this race was; my reply was always "to finish on my own two feet, and around a 6min/km pace". It was a goal for a distance I had never done before, I knew it was doable. 

Race Day
With a week of watching what I had eaten to be sure that I had jammed enough nutrition into my body and enough carbohydrates to sink a ship for the two days before the race I was ready to go. My alarm went off at 5:45am, the routine began, cereal, water, shower, dressed, last minute bathroom break, facebook post or two, grab my prepacked bag and out the door. I had made plans to meet up with Jamie and then meet the Dailymilers at the Running Room just north of the starting corral. I got out the door late, got down there late; I got to the parking lot and met Jamie, then realized I had forgotten my water bottle, and my Garmin! I had a small panic, and verbally kicked myself while Jamie got himself ready. I was going to have to run by feel and stop at the water stations regularly; the pocket watch training would come in handy. We scurried to the baggage drop, then Jamie had to line up for the port-a-potty. I held his stuff, took a quick look around to see if I could recognise anyone, no luck, then went into line up with him. By the time we exited the port-a-potty zone the announcer was calling us to the corral. I missed the DM meetup boo :(

The OK corral
We made our way into the corral and stood for O' Canada and pushed as far as we could to where we had wanted to be in the corral. I was looking for Sam J. and Patty S. as we had planned on running the whole race together because we all wanted to run the same pace. I figured they would be lined up with the 4:15 pace bunny, that guy was a good distance in front of me...we pushed through the crowd. We happened upon a couple of familiar faces Alan, Sarah, and Brian, we hugged, shook hands and wished each other well. I wasn't getting close to the 4:15 pacer, and Jamie wasn't getting to the 3:45 pacer; we were starting here. There was the usual cattle herding routine while the crowds emptied into the street past the starting gate and off I went.

The first few km's
I really like the start of this race. Once you pass the starting gate it's wide open, there is lots of room to move. I spotted the 4:15 bunny and followed him from a distance. I happened upon Alan again who was in a zone; we spoke a few words and he was off. I concentrated on the pacer and scanned the crowd for my running partners who were out of site. I continued to pass people and lost sight of the 4:15 pacer, may I had passed him? I think I was in a zone, I was concentrating on my mantra for the day "run economical, take it easy" before I knew it I was turning down Mississauga road. I had missed the first two water stations, I would make sure I missed no more.

I was having a great run, everything felt great. I was breathing smoothly, my head was clear, my legs felt fluid. I took advantage of the downhill into UTM so I could slow it down coming out and up the hill to the 8km split timer. I passed a number of people and had thoughts that I may be going a bit too fast, coming up the hill I passed the timer 43:55 (calculating in my head: minus about a minute 42:55...eff I'm running too fast!) I was feeling good, but really didn't want to push, Afterall I was headed into unknown territory.

To Indian Line
Out of the U of T grounds I made a conscious effort to slow down, I gelled and walked through the next water station: a routine that would become routine for the rest of the race; well the walking to drink part anyway. I locked onto a girl with green socks (who turned out to be Emma I. but I didn't realize it was her until after the race when I saw her outfit in the meetup photo LOL) and followed her to the Indian line cutoff. I approached the full/half split and remembered this spot from last year. A rush of memories went through my head one of which was Mike, who paced my half last year, said to me "aren't you glad you're not going that way?" and at the time I sure was...this time I was glad to be turning. As I passed the inflatable gate I was truly on my own...there was runners about 100m ahead of me, and runners 100m behind me. I passed a police officer at the first intersection and asked her if there were many in front of me, she replied "not too many". we both laughed any I carried on.

OK I'm doing this!
Suddenly I got all choked up, lump in my throat, tears in my eyes choked up...only for a second but it was there "I'm really doing this" I thought. I shook that off and caught up to a girl in front of me. I ran beside her for some time I asked her after we passed the 18k water station what our pace was "about 5:31/km" I giggled slowed down a touch and let her continue on ahead of me.

21k already?
Suddenly the 21k mark was there...1:57:22, I didn't even calculate this time I just kept running, trying to feel my way through it. I knew if I kept this pace up I would be sub 4hrs. I giggled to myself again and continued onto the out and back

The out and back
Jamie told me that he saw me at this point and yelled and screamed, waving his arms at me. I claim loss of hearing and being in the zone for missing his efforts :P I was starting to feel achey in the usual places I feel it for long runs: in my hips and my feet. I was on the home stretch, my mind started playing tricks at this point..."you're tired, stop this", "what the hell were you thinking?", "I must be crazy". Then a mind went to someone I had met just before I started running, she told me of how she was a runner because she had been in a car accident and had been laid up in traction for a few years. The doctors told her she would not walk again. She had to prove them wrong. I had to prove that my mind was wrong. I could do this. I was at the turn around point of the out and back. Back I went with a new outlook, and so I repeated to myself finish upright and finish happy. I was about 500m past the turn around when I spotted Sam and Patty; all I did was scream "HEY" and waved at them. Sam said "what are you doing?". I was running a race...what did she think? LOL. 

Slow down ya move too fast
I was singing to myself in my head this Simon and Garfunkel classic. I was enjoying myself I passed the 28k mark and turned down Orr Road.."only 14 more to go" I thought..."I'm gonna do this". I got choked again LOL! "WTF is wrong with me?" I thought. Each km that passed I thought to myself "only__km to go". I hit the wall at 32km...physically I smacked it with my hand..."the wall" was not part of my race. Each water station I walked as planned, the walks were getting a little longer at each water station, I was sweating profusely so I was taking in a lot of water and Gatorade. Coming out of Jack Darling Park onto Lakeshore I was awful glad we had done sooo much hill training. I took it slow and steady and got to the top and continued on the route down towards the lake. The breeze was a welcome gift as the sun was hot and I was a sweaty mess. 

Familiar ground
Suddenly it was familiar ground for me, I recognized that I was on the last bit of the route, the familiarity was welcomed by my spirit which was lifted by this new consciousness. After the walking water break at 38k I got a stitch in my side. Many four letter words came out of my mouth as I ran and breathed my way through it. It would be my only hinderance in the race. "For God's sake, I am almost there" I screamed at the sky. Took a really deep breath and hobbled off, there was no f-ing way I was going to let this f-er stop me. I was moving much slower, I knew the end was near "just keep moving forward"
Two thumbs up at the bridge!

The Grande Finale
O bla dee O bla da was being played in the distance, I could hear the announcements at the finish, I was really close. The stitch was almost unbearable. I kept moving....around 40k and there was a marathoner in the woods yelling at us to keep moving...I laughed and got going...500m later the stitch took my breath away I hobbled through, I was run walking and grasping my side when I heard "Phil! What are you doing?!" It was Patty and Sam..."I've got a stitch" I said holding my side and grimacing. Patty said "shut the fuck up and get going!". That, folks, is exactly what I needed.
Sam, Me, and Patty
 I ran through the pain trying to keep up with Sam, Patty was a little behind me but caught up to me at the finish. Clock time: 4:11:58.8. I was done, we were done. We had a sweaty hug and some congratulations. I was really proud of Patty for being able to overcome her previous inability to break 4:15, and Sam for finishing her first marathon. It was great to finish the race together as we had planned :D

Post Race
I went off to the nearest chair I could find, I felt like I was going to throw up; outside the med tent at the finish line I ate my Clif bar. I needed to or I would have puked bial for sure. I got up, got my medal and found Jamie and Dee; or they found me. We made our way to the rec centre, and Dee drove us back to our cars. 

The big question
"would you do it again?" "eff yeah!" What an experience!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Chilly Half Marathon 2013

BIB #: 2155
TIME: 1:54:23.2
CHIP: 1:52:26.4
PACE: 5:20
CAT. PLACE: 114/203
GENDER PLACE: 672/1315

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Having packed my bag of "dry" clothes the night before, laid out my running clothes, and checked the weather forecast I woke up with an easy feeling of preparedness for this race. I had been running a 20ish km every weekend for the past six weekends leading up to the race. I had determined that this was going to be a training run, and that I would push hard enough to feel "finished" at the end. I slept until 7:00am; a miracle in my books, this is a 2hr sleep longer than I ususally get. Lots of time for a breakfast of raisin bran, walnuts, apricots, blackberries and blueberries; which I ate while watching the weather network. (The weather network draws me in...I can't seem to bring myself to change the channel once it is on; why you ask? I think I am expecting great things to happen before my eyes, nothing does but I sure watch with great expectation) As my Jeep was in the shop, we were down to one vehicle for the two of us; Sandy had to work, so after we were all breakfasted and showered we headed out the door, stopped at Starbucks for an Americano, dropped Sandy at work, and headed down the highway to the secret meeting place.

Google Estimated Time vs. Real Time

So I planned on being a little early; I mapped out the drive the night before on Google Maps which indicated that the driving time of the trip would be 1hr so we left at 7:30am...Stopping for coffee and dropping Sandy off, getting on the highway then realizing Sandy had left her coffee, I went back and dropped off her coffee got back on the highway and made it by 8:30. Note to self:  Google is Conservative. Nevertheless I was early, had time to get inside, find a washroom, utilize it to the best of my ability, and get outside. Once I got out the door Nicole was there beeping her horn and waved me over. We sat in the vinegar-mobile chatted and waited for the rest of the crew to show. Patty let us into her place of work for a last non-port-a-potty break and off we went to the starting line.

Like Sands Through The Hourglass

We jogged down to the starting area and discussed our goals. I seemed to be the only one without one. Sam had indicated that she wanted to try to PB with a 1:52 and Nicole said she was going to start with the 1:55 pacer and see how it went. I decided to use the same philosophy and lined up behind the 1:55 pacer with them.We had a pre-race photo and dispersed. Emma, her brother, and her friend (who is bad with names? I am bad with names...I sometimes call my kids the wrong names...sheesh) went other places and Patty was pacing the 2:15's (which she did perfectly might I add) so off they went. I was perusing the crowd when I saw Al, the general manager of the company I work for (I knew he was running but thought he'd be running with the faster crowd) we chatted for a bit about work (what is wrong with us I was thinking) and suddenly the crowd was moving the horn had sounded: we were off. I felt like a grain of sand through an hour glass, by the time I crossed the starting line Sam and Nicole were about 200m in front of me, or at least the pacer was. I had lost Al, Nicole and Sam...sheesh!

Out and Back #1

'scuse me, pardon me, oh sorry, oops sorry; I must've heard those words a dozen times as we all tried to find our places in the pack, we Canucks are pretty polite runners! Just past the turn around I had made it up to the pacer, I saw Nicole had stuck herself to him like glue...I didn't see Sam though. I tried to get Nicole's attention but was unsuccessful and ventured on ahead. At about 5k I ran into Al again we had a brief talk about the weather and ran silently together until Brant St. Lap times: 5:37, 5:15, 5:26, 5:29, 5:16.

A Bit of Freedom

Passing Brant Street the crowd was less crowded (LOL). I started picking people off, blue gloves guy, red hat guy, orange shoes girl, ponytail girl...hey wait that's Sam! I caught up to her and asked how she was doing, she was trying to stay on pace for her goal and appeared to need some companionship; I did too; We ran together and talked about the run down houses for sale on the route (LOL), and the ever present banana that was looming in her stomach.  It was great to have a familiar friendly face to share the time with. Before long we hit the water station at 10k. Lap times: 5:07, 5:12, 5:18, 5:23, 5:18 (eload lemon gel...not too shabby)

A Second Look at the Leaders

After gelling we picked up the pace again. The two leaders were running side by side, both looking very relaxed; some of the followers looked the same, others looked like crap; Mental note: I may look like that on May 5th, not as fast for certain, but looks...very close. We spent some time looking for Richard and Peter but didn't see them, we reached the turn around and headed back. We looked for our friends once again, we saw the 1:55 pacer, but no Nicole?! I told Sam that I saw Nicole glued to the pacer when I had passed around 5k. Sam said "I bet she' right behind us, she's going to pick us off" After a short while we saw Patty who screamed something about hurry up something something something ... we spent time deciphering the message, Sam cracked the code, and we passed the subject of the message. We passed a priest handing out oranges, Sam had approached hoping it was communion, the body of Christ sounded very appealing and would help the current cause I am sure :) being oranges and bananas we both opted out. we approached the next (frozen) water station, gelled and moved on. Lap times: 5:45, 5:16, 5:18, 5:18, 5:19 (gel)

A Familiar Face

At this point I knew I had been running for over 15km; my legs and hips were telling me they were tired, my head was telling me to stop. I said to Sam "There's only 5k left, it's a walk in the park!" just then I saw a lone man cheering on the runners waving gloved hands in the air; It was J. Pierre! I hi-fived him as we went by, I had renewed energy and the negativity in my head had passed. 16km sign, 17km sign Not long after a streak of white flew by screaming "c'mon you guys I can't slow down, I've been chasing you since 16km" it was Nicole! Sam was right...she had been not far behind us the whole time. Sam said to me "c'mon Phil we can't let her beat us!" and she took off like a rocket! I saw her pass Nicole and keep going! I tried to keep up, but couldn't find the gas, my fingers were tingling; I checked my heart rate 173! I slowed up a bit until the tingling subsided. I laughed when I saw Nicole smack the 20k sign as she passed LOL...Lap times: 5:17, 5:16, 5:13, 5:07, 5:14

The Mantra

I lost sight of Nicole and Sam as they turned the corner up Brant. I was still passing people, one girl in particular was repeating a mantra "just keep running, just keep running" I praised her with a "way to go!" as I passed and turned up Brant towards the finish. I saw the clock click past 1:54 and looked at my Garmin, knew that Sam and Nicole had both achieved PB's I closed my eyes, thanked God for the ability to run and crossed the finish line. 

Post Race

I ran into Nicole, Sam and Peter right away. Peter had a PB on the day as well! We met in the pub for chili, beer and conversation, and headed back to the car. I near froze LOL! We made it back said our goodbyes, I went and changed into dry clothes and went home! A great day with great friends!

See you at the next race: ATB here we come!

Friday, 4 January 2013

Brantford Tournament of Races - CO's 10k Memorial

Running Free
A few months ago Ali Mc. posted an opportunity on Dailymile for folks that wanted to run a free race; the race director Bill Jol of wanted to have runners with Blogs to promote their races. I was more than happy to oblige.

I have to admit that running at 10am in a City that is over an hour away from my home town on New Years Day wasn't something I had thought through very well. Several weeks before the run I had started getting cold feet and had considered "calling in sick", or figuring out some reason not to run; it's very unlike me, I love running. So for the month of December I made a point of telling everyone that I knew that I was running this race...solely for accountability purposes.

New Years Eve
The solution I've been searching for!
I packed a bag with extra shoes, pants, underwear, socks, t-shirt, and hour is a long time to drive home soaking wet from sweat. Not to mention the salt ring it'd leave on the seat - blech!! I plotted out my route and ensured there would be a McD's in case I had to stop in for a McPoo on the way (very important to know where to stop in order to go).

Sandy and I had planned to go to her brother's place for the night; there was a group gathering to ring in the New Year and our kids had planned to sleep over there (sleep over for the yung'uns means stay up all night, and be grumpy little youknowwhats the next day). Over we went at 8pm. I ate everything in site...crab dip and chips, shrimp-ring, meatballs, chocolate...suddenly we were counting down 3,2,1...HAPPY NEW YEAR!! "It's 12:01...OK let's go" rang through my head as we all shook hands, hugged, kissed etc. I decided to not pull a "sucky-poo ruin the fun guy" and opted to suck it up and stick it out for a bit. All the while I was calculating in my head, required sleep time, the time I would have to be up to get a quick wash-up, and a bowl of cereal, and the possibility of an unanticipated bowel action (I have a classic case of runner's poophobia; I guess I've seen too many photo's of that guy crossing the finish line with a mess in his pants and down his legs...I don't want that to be me...), in order to be at the Armoury at a decent time to pick up my race kit and bib. I had to be in bed for 2am at the latest...this was pretty much what it turned out to be.

What Alarm Clock?
7am?!? I don't know if it's my age...but I think my brain knows what time to start-up and eyes know what time to open, and a half hour before the alarm. An early start it was...I had that butterfly-ee feeling in my guts; the anticipation of putting on my race stuff and getting ready for the race always brings anxiety and excitement for me. I had breakfast, cleaned up, bathroom stop (YAY!), got ready, kissed my wife and left.

The drive was relatively uneventful; it seems that there are not many people up and about at 8am on January 1st. My thoughts were many and included my race plan (1. don't go out too hard, 2.take it easy, 3. find someone to run with, 4. enjoy it, 5. finish strong!) and how beautiful our province is (I mean, have you looked around lately?). I arrived in Brantford and found my way to the Armoury quite easily and found parking across the street at the RBC. As I walked through the Armoury door I felt that this was a well organised event, seating for hundreds, food tables were being set up on one side as well as coffee and refreshments on the other. Some of Canada's camouflaged finest were around observing the ongoings. I picked up my race kit, pinned on my bib and ran the rest of the kit, and my backpack, back to my Jeep. I headed back in and made my way to the coffee urns and poured a cup which I drank quickly, so I poured another and had a seat. Twenty minutes passed as I sat and BBM'd with my wife and kids and perused the various Facebook "HNY"s (Yes we have come to this...Happy New Year on Facebook is now too long...HNY is apparently the new standard?!?) I lifted my head and saw the room had filled rather quickly, I saw a couple of young ladies that may have been my DM friend Ali Mc. but if it wasn't her I didn't want to go through the "oh I thought you were her" line and look like a creepy old man :oP. I decided to stretch for a bit, then have a quick warm up by trotting up and down the boulevard out front. I re-entered the building, grabbed a last drink of water and scurried off to the starting line.

And They're Off?
Approaching the starting line I was entertained by one of a group of ladies that were all wearing "Happy New Year" hats, they were laughing about the guy that was running in his shorts and t-shirt...what a nutter! It's -6'C out here don't ya know? I started jumping around to keep warm I was eyeing the crowd looking for  who I thought may be my fellow 10kers...then people just started running...the guy on the side of the road sort of said loudly while waving his arm "OK....go...go...go"...maybe I'm just used to a horn to start a race? I followed suit and started off.

Stick to the Plan
Me and Ed

I found myself within a crowd of people, much like every race we all are trying to find where we want to be running a little chaos can always be expected. I allowed people to pass and be passed and pass people and excuse me and sorry and...well you know (don't go out too hard...check). When things settled I found my feet and set my pace by feel rather than Garmin. Running well within my comfort zone (take it easy...check) I started passing folks wishing them Happy New Year and good morning and asking  "5 or 10 k?" I knew we were a rare bunch for this race. A couple of kms had passed and I had found Ed, the first guy that said he was running 10 (find someone to run with...check) Ed and I ran 5:40-5:45/k for most of our time together. We shared stories of how we started running, where we lived, what races we were in, what races we were planning on doing. Before I knew it we were at 7.5k and heading up a hill. 7.5k, 5hrs sleep and I felt like a million bucks! (enjoy it...check). I told Ed that I was going to give'r heck at the top of the hill. We got to the top of what looked like the top and turned the corner only to be faced with another uphill...race-planners have a way about them, sadistic...these people must be runners...anyway I loved the surprise, and it's the type of thing I train for. The hill was not kind to Ed who was trailing slightly...I was slowing to keep him beside me; I checked the Garmin and we'd slowed to 6min/km, we reached the top and he told me to go on ahead...

Finish Strong...
Thanks Wilson Sports Photography :)

8.5k at the top of the hill and I said "see you at the finish"  to Ed...I could still see one runner ahead of me....way ahead....I switched it into high gear and took off as fast as felt I could. I concentrated on form and breathing, and fought the mental demons "I'm tired....slow down...I want to stop". I knew I was really hustling because I was catching up to the guy ahead of me. Down the final stretch I witnessed him cross the finish line 51 seconds ahead of me...Ed finished 41 seconds behind me. I checked the Garmin...I was running 4:45/k on the 1.5k stretch (finish strong...check) Chip time 53:36. Another successful race! I was a little disappointed that there were no medals :( *shrug* Regardless, this race was very organised, the course was well marked, and fun to run.  

Back at the Armoury
There were a lot of people back at the Armoury, lots of food, and lots of cake! I grabbed some chilli, a samosa, and a seat beside a young lady Patrice who, was surprised to find out, ended up coming in first for her age group! While the awards were being handed out I chatted with the others at our table. I finished up my meal and said goodbye and left.

Indecent Exposure
Wet, and now cold, I had a long drive home... what does one do? I know what I did; changed my clothes in my Jeep. Not a simple task. Not a pretty picture...possible indecent exposure LOL! A runner's gotta do what a runner's gotta do.

Thanks to Bill Jol for the opportunity! Thanks to Ali Mc. for the heads up! and thanks to all you blog readers ; see you at the next race :)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

One foot in front of the other.

The Beginning

September 2011. Lazy. Tired. Grumpy. Weight 250lbs. Ate like crap, felt like crap. Life was crap. If it didn't come easy I didn't do it. I was a poor example for the most important people in my life; my wife and kids. Something had to change. I did a lot of finger pointing before this day, how other people should be, how they should act, what they should do. One particular day it hit me. I was the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. I had to change. I needed to be the catalyst. My oldest son had decided to start running; seeing that he may need some encouragement I decided to start running too. 

I knew that my friend Mike what I should do, how I should do it, what kind of shoes I should wear, etc. etc. He directed me towards websites for running, nutrition, and training. From there I Googled everything and anything about running. I found more than enough information about what to do, how to do it, what I should do before, during, after, in between, while resting, while sleeping...I think you get the point, and if you are reading this you've probably done the same. I followed all sorts of suggestions, rules, and guidelines; many conflicting with one another. I figured out what I was going to do from the plethora of knowledge I had been dealt and applied that knowledge to a running routine signed up for a half-marathon, selected a training program from the website and got on my way.

My first few months of runs were the hardest. I remember telling myself "just keep moving, don't stop to walk, you can do this". I would come home and lay on the floor huffing and puffing, completely beet red and unable to move after a short run around the block. I didn't know how far I had gone, or for how long. Then I bought my Garmin (I love my Garmin, that's another Blog in itself) I was running 3 and 4k runs at about a 9min/k pace. Day after day I felt stronger, I pushed harder and harder. I was speeding up, short distances were becoming easier to run, I was becoming more confident. My old clothes no longer fit. I had lost 40 lbs. by Christmas. My lovely wife bought running gear for Christmas, I was no longer running in old t-shirts and track pants. I was official looking now.

Let the games begin

I had a run with Mike in December of 2011; he suggested that if I wanted to sign up for a race he would pace me. I decided to sign up for the Mississauga half-marathon. It was time to get serious. In the New Year I began a 16 week beginner half-marathon program. The program had me doing 3 runs per week: one each of speed and tempo runs, and a long run on the weekend. I remember printing the program out and seeing that it wanted me to warm up for 1.5k do intervals or tempo for an amount of time or distance and then a cool down for 1k. I remember poo-pooing the idea altogether for one day. That day was horrible. I felt worse than I had before I'd ever had before I began running. The next day I started the routine. 

Mike and I had a practice run a couple of weeks before the race, he told me not to wear my Garmin (I felt totally naked). We ran 18km that day, my final long run before the race. I was pumped! It was taper time...

Race Day

Fast forward to May 6, 2012. I weighed 195lbs. I had completed my training, ate right, and was ready. I had three goals: 

  1. Finish the race
  2. Finish the race in under 2 hours
  3. Finish in 1:55
Up to that time my tempo runs had been at about a 6min/k pace. Something I was oblivious to was how fast I would have to run to get my #3 goal. I thought it was impossible, really I did. That was the day I stopped believing what my mind wanted me to believe. 

PLACE: 918 TIME:1:57:43.4 CHIP: 1:55:02.7 PACE:5:28 
CATEGORY: M40-49 CAT. PLACE: 183/345 GENDER PLACE: 613/1238

I was hooked. This was the new me. Everything had changed, just by putting one foot in front of the other.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Pumpkin Summit 2012

This was a special day; Sandy and I were running the same race, her first "official" race ever. My first trail race. We had been practising trail running at the local conservation area every weekend for the past few weeks. Good thing we did, however nothing could prepare us for what we were to face. 

Cool morning started this day off...what to wear?  Layers...tights and track pants, winter running shirt and coat, gloves, and the under armour hat sandy calls "the penis head"'s a skullcap...jeesh! I agreed to leave the cap off until I got out of sight...turned out I didn't need it. 

Car drive...forgot how to get there... went back to the house and Googled..."oh ya now I remember". Sandy was not as happy about doing this as I was. She was looking to get out. I was doing my best to be supportive, and explain how I sometimes feel like "why the heck would I pay to do stuff like this" and "it's worth it when you cross the finish line". I decided to shush after I saw the way she was looking at me. Silence, then she grabbed my hand and said "let's do this"

We made it to the Kelso main chalet by about 8:15am, chatted with a few other runners for a bit and had a cup of coffee. Shortly after I spotted Roxane and she joined us for pre-race small talk. J. Pierre and his wife Cindy walked in about 15 minutes before the race and joined in the conversation. JP and I had discussed that Cindy and Sandy could run together being the same(ish) speed. They hit it off right away. Someone called into the Chalet that it was 5 minutes before the race was starting; I gobbled up half a double chocolate donut that I had been eyeing since we got there and out we went; pleasantly surprised that it still wasn't raining.

Start to 5km - onward and upward

We lined up with about 50(ish) other runners of all ages, a quick countdown and off we went. I remember them saying watch out for the mud-puddles; I headed right through them, passed a bunch of people and shouted "I think we are getting dirty today!" after the mud puddles came the 85 meter climb at about 500 meters of length...I made it to the top of this hill and looked back, many had started walking, some were still running, the elites were gone well ahead of me (although still in sight), I had found a pack of 3 men, a teenager, and a tween. The teenager (green sweatshirt) was right on my tail, the tween (backwards cap) directly in front of me, one man behind the teenager (energy belt guy) two men in front of teenager (shorts and tights guy and black skullcap guy) . Catching my breath and getting my heart back I pushed on with the group.  Then just about 1km in we hit the stopper, a 60m long by 30m high, branches whipping, gravelly treading, winding trail, frigging nightmare that I loved very much...everyone had slowed to a walk to climb this one. We had caught the elites, at least for the moment. Reaching the peak we started off single file again; very rocky, lots of ankle breaking crevasses and cracks, many roots and fallen branches. I managed to find a fallen branch with my foot and able to show off my skills with a spinning-windmill-arm recovery. Hadn't lost ground, hadn't gained any either. Suddenly the pathway opened up wider allowing enough room to belt guy started passing, first the teenager, then me, then tween; i followed suit and soon we were leading the pack - he then me. We passed the 4k sign and I caught up with energy belt guy, I said "it's gotta be downhill from here right" he responded "I hope so". ahead of us was 6'-6" gazelle man, we were catching the back end of the elites, or so it seemed...I asked energy belt guy if he was ready to catch up to the gazelle, he said he had been trying to catch him for 2km. Sounded like a challenge to me. I looked at my Garmin 6:02 min/k..."pffft" I thought...I said to energy belt guy "let's go get him" , he grunted a ya ok; I poured it on, he followed suit on my tail for the next 500m, then he slowed at the next climb and rocky patch. I slowly but surely was catching gazelle, and leaving my pack behind.

5k to finish - which way do I go?

Just after the 5k mark I was on the gazelles ass; I felt empowered and light, my footsteps were sure. Mud, rock, and roots were no longer threats; I was running on high speed...looked at my Garmin 5:07min/km..."passing left" I called, the gazelle moved over, I passed and pushed harder, he stuck with me. I could hear the finish line announcements, we were getting close. I am leading, noone to follow (the elites were crossing the finish line), this is when I realized how badly marked this area was...some little yellow flags, a few arrows, couple of signs...I was calling out directions and asking for direction as we ran.  7k marker! The new pack consisted of  myself, gazelle, a lady, according to gazelle she was the 3rd place woman, and another guy; I was leading, I felt blind! I hoped I wouldn't lead them astray. Then we ran out of the woods onto the top of a ski didn't look right, it wasn't. I had led them astray. "Back into the woods!" after several four letter words running through my mind we were back on the trail, we had lost at least a minute, and now I was following them, and several others that were behind us...WTF! No need to get upset...time to try and finish strong. This was a steep downhill called snakes and ladders, anything goes it appeared. There were people all over the place! I took the quickest way I could find, there did not appear to be a path, I just picked out bridges and trampled leaves. I was at the bottom, I could see the road that would take me to the finish. I bee-lined it for the road, passed a couple of people and hit the ditch before the road, and fell, flipped over and got the wind knocked out of me...a girl stopped and asked if I was ok, "nothing I hadn't done before" - pride was talking, that did me in. I got up and forced a sprint to the finish, 5:50 min/k uuugh where are my lungs...oh ya on the road back there... 
Approaching the line and the announcer said he needed to see my number, it was under my jacket...I opened it up and  ran across the line, he commented "here is 302 showing off his chest hair, we just wanted to see his number". I had to laugh. Clock time 50:03, Garmin time 48:33. Got my medal and my bag of goodies. 


I approached the runners I had led astray and apologized, each said it was not me, it was the lack of signage; that made me feel better. Nice bunch. J.Pierre crossed the line and we shared stories of the race. I checked my phone to see if sandy had called or texted, it was dead...i was hoping I hadn't killed it when I flipped. J.P offered a charger from his car however it was the wrong one (phone is fine BTW).  JP snapped a picture of me with his camera and I snapped one of him. He said he had promised Cindy to head back in if they seemed to be taking a while to he went.  I chatted with another gentleman for a short time when Roxane came in. "Shit that was hard" she said when I hi-fived her at the line.  It was difficult. We shared war stories for a bit. A few others crossed the line. Then Sandy and Cindy crossed the line...Sandy was smiling she had a great time, we had a hug and entered the chalet for prize time. Sandy's number got drawn right away, she chose a nice tech winter jacket, Cindy got a gift basket, I got a Poweraid giftbag with some socks, a bottle and energy bars, Roxane got a years supply of tech soap! 

I had a great time. I would recommend this race to anyone that enjoys running trails and enjoys a challenge.

See ya at the next race!