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C+, Just Like High School

In general, I don’t try and do a mile by mile breakdown of races but instead talk about instances or moments I noticed during my death march.  I know I veered away from this with the Around the Bay Recap, but you should know here-and-now….I’m a hypocrite and you shouldn’t do anything I do or say or even think about doing…or saying…just sayin’…As much as I try to be altruistic and hold true to all the edicts/assumptions/declarations I’ve made (I really do have the best intentions in mind) I’ve discovered that Irony has a habit of completely buggering up my plans, pushing me face first in the mud and laughing at my misfortunes.  Am I complaining?  Hell no, this in my life and I’ve simply come to terms with it.  Overall I’ve been ridiculously lucky so a few kicks to the junk here and again REALLY aren’t anything to get upset about…although I do love my junk…

I’ve gone back and forth on whether this race was a success or not when describing it to people, it’s right on the emotional fence between the two.  The nitty gritty of it is that I finished in 3:55:58 (chip time), which puts me solidly between “Goal B” and “Goal C”, or if you want to be technical I landed in “Goal C” territory while being close-ish to the B-border….sound like an ego-saving cop-out?  That’s exactly what it is.

Overall, the Ottawa course is gorgeous.  TONNES of natural (or naturalized) sections, the downtown sections of both Ottawa and Gatineau, prominent or historical landmarks, and simply lots and LOTS of public support (the city really buys into and celebrates this race weekend).  At the same time, this course is deceptively hard; when you look at the elevation profile it really doesn’t have any major obstacles, but therein lays the rouse.   The Ottawa course is constantly undulating, you don’t realize it right away, but after 30km let me tell you…you notice it.  By 32-34km-ish the majority of the hills are out of the way, but by that time your race fate is sealed.  If you’ve raced smart you are cruising, although there are lots of us that simply got caught up in the course and had to fight our way through to the finish line.

Weather could be considered to be a factor, but having taken pride in running in near blizzard conditions it’d hardly make me a bad-ass to be complaining about a little bit of rain and humidity.  In reality, it rained over night, drizzled during warm up, held off for the first 26km-ish, then rained in earnest for the remainder of the race (if it’s any consolation, by the time my eggs arrived at brunch it was sunny outside…). For my race, the rain really didn’t have an effect but I’m sure to some (all the people being treated for hypothermia in the medical tent) it was a huge PITA.

Moreover my thoughts for the weekend lay with two groups of people.  1.)  I rode to Ottawa with my speedwork partner and her family.  We visited with their friends, and I waited for my accommodations to be ready.  These people MADE my weekend.  They often commented that as a fellow parent I should be out doing something significant with my time away from the family, but reality, they provided a calm environment where I could put all my race anxieties aside and just chill out.  These folks showed me such gracious hospitality that I really didn’t know how to respond.  2.) On the other side is a friend I was supposed to have dinner/hang out/crash with Saturday night.  As I was dropped off at her apartment, I called her to let her know I was there, and received no answer.  A little while later my phone rang, and it was her, telling me that she was 7-8hrs away at her childhood home.  Initially I was PISSED, assuming that she had simply forgotten that I was coming into town…until she explained that her Dad had gone into the hospital with some complications for a condition he’d been battling for a while**.  As I was trying to digest all this information and she told me that despite her rush to leave town, she had arranged for a friend to meet me with the key to her apartment.  To be honest, it was awkward staying at someone’s house when they were out of town, but I did my best to be an over-the-top guest, you’d hardly know I’d even been there.  I tend be a tad cynical about the general public, but everyone I met, or depended on this weekend went out of their way to help me out.  Kudos to you all, you were all fantastic.

Have a good one kids; remember to pay it forward when you get the chance.


**I found out later that my friend’s dad passed away shortly after the race.


Around the Bay Recap

To say I didn’t have great hopes for this year’s version of the Around the Bay 30km road race would a HUGE understatement!  For those of you just tuning in, my training cycle this spring has been less than stellar.

[feel free to skip this if you heard it before] After taking a LONG time to get any training momentum and being sick on and off, I was starting to make good progress; hill-work/speed-work/long runs in tough conditions, my paces were coming down and I was feeling great.  That’s when disaster struck.  I injured my left foot playing hockey.  On the upside, it wasn’t broken, on the downside it was a bone bruise and hurt constantly.  Fast forward 3-3 1/2 weeks of no training and one missed half marathon later I was finally able to get back out and attempt some redemption.  I managed to get in some base miles and three 20km longer runs in preparation for this past Sunday’s race.

With all of that out of the way: On To The Race Recap!

The day didn’t start well, I work up at 4:50am, an hour before my alarm.  I did eventually get back to sleep though…about 10 minutes before my alarm went off….typical.  Oh well, onward and upward.  After checking the weather (-17c windchill!) and a quick breakfast I was ready for a runner’s constitutional…which turned into two…then to three, and finally four….for now.  I wasn’t sure if it was nerves or a virus, but it sucked and now I was really worried, dehydration and DNF were definitely on the radar.

Fast forward past meeting up with some fellow racers for a quick pre-race coffee, another couple trips to the washroom, and onto race time.  The weather was coldish (around -7c), but the skies were clear and the sun was out in spades.  Perfect race weather. Overall the race went pretty well, I managed to maintain my target marathon pace for the first half of the race, and my existing marathon pace for the second.  I’d like to continue my progression towards a faster marathon time, and this was reassuring to say the least.

For the first 2/3rds of the race I rant with a good friend I hadn’t seen in a while; for me it made the miles fly by as we cracked joke after joke, and for him it helped keeping his pace in check.  Much like like going out for drinks with Ned, he tends to go out fast and blow up before the finish line, so it was a good arrangement all around.  His wife was got suckered into doing the second half of the 15km relay and quickly caught up to us at the 19km mark.   We all ran together, chatted, laughed, encouraged each other until somewhere around the 22km mark when I slowed for some water and they powered through.  Bastards!  They both had their own hydration and didn’t need to stop, but up until this point Ned had slowed slightly and waited for me to catch up at each water station.  I had an inkling the course was starting to take a toll on us both.  I could plainly see him 20yards ahead, but knew if I pushed to catch him that I’d be risking a meltdown myself.  Instead I held my pace, and stayed on target.  Ned only finished a minute ahead of me in the end and that was more than likely the difference in slowing for the remaining water stations….not that I’m upset, he achieved a 25min improvement over last year’s time, so kudos to him…the turncoat…

Incidentally, around the 22km mark is where the hills start to kick in, and though I felt I had more climbing power available to me, both of my calves threatened to cramp so hard that my shoes would be attached to my knees if I pushed the pace anymore.  “Message received loud and clear!” It might have bugged me more if I had had a major time goal this year, but with my setbacks and my eyes on the Ottawa Marathon in May, it was pretty easy to convince myself that this was a fun training run.  Sure I ran as hard as I could, but there was no way I was going to let this race ruin me.

Within the last 3km I was fighting some rolling nausea, but managed to not puke my guts out….although that might have got me some serious race cred if I had chucked.  Considering I felt terrible for the rest of the day, it might not have been a bad idea either.

In conclusion, I beat my time from last year while feeling like I was in worse shape, had a great time with great people, got to get out on a gorgeous day, and participated in a well run/fun event.  As I’ve said many times, this is a great event with a fun atmosphere and a really nice course.  It’s well worth the price of admission.

Here’s a video taken by a runner over the course of the race (warning: it’s pretty shaky i.e. – think Blair Witch Project)

Hmmmm…2011 eh ?

“So…why the dramatic pause in posting there 51?”
“…well I assure you…(cough)…there is a fully justifiable, and adequately sufficient reason for it (cough) …unfortunately,  if I told you I’d have to beat you to death with a Christmas Tree stand and bury you under my backyard hockey rink.”
“Total BS eh?”
“Yep, I suck”

Well there you have it, I have no excuse for my lack of posting….sure I have a few REASONS for my time away from the web (Holiday adventures, kids, gift procurement, staff & personal gatherings, kids, sickness, etc….did I mention kids?), but in reality If I had tried I would have posted more…which surreptitiously leads me to the point of this post: No Excuses.

This time of year has people scrambling not only to list their “Highs & Lows of 2010”, but to set goals for the upcoming year.  Setting goals is never a bad thing, as I will be the first one to admit; without a plan I become a total wreck; look at the past two months for a decent example. Even when I COULD get back to taking care of myself, it was simply too inviting to continue eating and drinking ridiculous amounts, slowly trying to morph myself into a permanent part of the couch. As I read more and more blog posts across the web I considered what my own highs & lows were and what goals I was shooting for.  Let’s see…Highs: I ran my 1st two marathons, and ran my first 30k Lows:  I developed an ITB issue early in the year, then shin splints, and constantly fought to balance my personal responsibilities with my training responsibilities….both of which lead to a lot of “Rest Days”.  Despite a few specific goals I will get to in a later post, it seems that my over-arching goal for 2011 is simply: No Excuses.  I’m going to strive to keep with my training plan(s) regardless of how tired I am, or how much I’d rather be drinking too much beer and watching live music.

Does this mean running through an injury, or ignoring the needs of my family?  No, not at all.  What it means is when these things pop up, I will make every effort to find a suitable alternative that keeps everyone happy.  Morning runs instead of an evening run or even the dreaded treadmill, water running if an injury permits, etc.  It’s going to make my supposedly “busy life” this past fall look like a walk in the park, but I’ve set some pretty ambitious time goals for 2011, and without that extra effort I will be failing miserably.  Finding the appropriate balance between being a good dad/spouse/handyman/employee AND athlete is going the key to a successful 2011.

Time to make things happen!