All posts by ActiveSteve

Chasing the Snowman… 2 Races in 1 Day!

Skis at the Ready

Hello all. It should come to no surprise to anyone who knows me that I will often enter and be interested in new and interesting races / challenges to keep me motivated to train and race. Well, recently, there was a new challenge unveiled at a Mad Trapper race (started as a mere suggestion, but ‘snowballed’ into the real deal). The challenge was that on January 26th, a ‘Snowman’ and ‘Snowwoman’ would be crowned. How so? Well, the fastest time combined in the Frost and Fire Winter Triathlon from the morning and the Mad Trapper Night Race in the evening. I do fairly well at the snowshoe races, and I also dabble in multi-sport, and most importantly, I have the energy reserves to race twice in one day :-). I was registered in both, so the stage was set to see if I could become the first winner of this mostly symbolic award. How did I do? Well, read on for both race reports (and videos!) and the conclusion. I didn’t take too many photos (was focused on fliming), but you can see them here and here before reading on.

Frost and Fire Winter Triathlon

The first event of the day was the Frost and Fire Winter Triathlon. This was a brand new event for this year, and I was keen to try it out. I generally take part each year in the Winterlude Triathlon, which takes place downtown in Ottawa, but the more rural setting of the Frost and Fire was appealing to me, as it was near Wakefield, QC. Also, whereas the Winterlude tri is skating, skiing, and running, this race would actually be snowshoeing, skiing, and running. I’m not much of a speedskater, so I thought I might do better in this race.

The day started out cold, but not completely unbearable. The race consisted of a 2.5km snowshoe (single loop), a 9-10km ski (double loop), and a final 5km out and back run. The entire event was spread over a large farm area, with the snowshoe and skiing snaking a bit into the surrounding woods. There was a reasonable contingent of racers on hand for this inaugural event (about 30 for the triathlon, with another 30 for the 10k run), and only later would I learn that some of the top local triathletes had come out to play.

I lined up at the front, next to Dave McMahon. Given that these were generally not the snowshoe racing crowd, I figured I had a good chance of finishing the snowshoe close to the front of the pack. Unfortunately, with a mere 2.5k of snowshoeing, even if I was fast there, I knew I’d lose a lot of time in the ski, as there are MANY faster skiers than me. The trail was more exciting than I had expected, and although some of it was in the field, there were still nice little hills to climb, and trees to snake around. At the end of the snowshoe, I was in 4th, and had a pretty quick transition to head out on skis, which as predicted is where I dropped a few spots.

The ski was a tricky course in my opinion. The track got pretty narrow in a lot of spots, and additionally, there were some really steep, wooded climbs that were almost bare ice. I was slowed down a lot here, but encouragingly, so was everyone else. Luckily, because of the numbers, clutter wasn’t too much of a problem, and I only had to execute a few passes on my 2nd loop as others were on their 1st loop. Looking at the raw numbers, it looks as though I had the 10th fastest ski, so I dropped a few spots. No time to dwell on that though, on went the running shoes, and out I went for the final 5k run.

The run was very straightforward. 2.5k on a country road, turn around, and come back. At the far end, there was a pretty steep climb to make sure you were still pushing, but all in all, easy peasy. I tried to hold my place, and managed pretty well on that front. I had the 8th fastest run, and when all the three events were tallied up, I finished 7th overall and 2nd in my category. Not great, but I was hopeful that most of these other folks either wouldn’t be in the snowshoe race, or that I’d be faster in a pure 10k snowshoe race! Post-race, we headed to a local restaurant for a chili meal and the awards ceremony for the triathlon. It was a nice atmosphere and went quite well. I would definitely consider this race again, and encourage others to look into it. For the best overview, check out the race video I put together:

Mad Trapper Night Race

What can I say about the snowshoe race that hasn’t been said in past posts? These races kick ass for so many reasons. They are just long enough that you can bust a lung and feel accomplished, but short enough that recovery time is fast. The post-race food and atmosphere is really great socially (brownies and beer anyone??!?), and the people that come out and take part are great, salt-of-the-earth types. BUT, there was some interesting twists for this race. Namely, the course!

Although we’d gotten heaps of snow this year, Mike decided to try something different for this year’s night course (yup, we race by headlights at this one). With the promise of record numbers of racers, and the fact that it was at night, he opted to actually groom the trail with his snowmobile! Not only that, but this was the most straightforward course he had ever laid out. Long, straight stretches, with only a few sizeable climbs, instead of the constant ups and downs and sharp turns we were used to.

Sadly for me, that meant this was not a race course that would favour me at all. I’m more of a technical runner, and rely on the tough conditions to stay ahead of the the speedier road runners that come out. However, I wouldn’t let that deter me. I lined up at the front and threw everything I had into the race, pushing my heart rate into the red zone the entire way. I had a good battle going with a couple other racers, but at the finish, only managed 9th place overall, and 8th in my category.

Regardless of my position, the race itself was beautiful. It was a perfectly clear night, and also a near full moon, guaranteeing amazing scenery on the run, with the twinkle of 80 racers’ headlights, and the moon glistening off the snow as we made our way around the property. Also, at the post-race, there was another fine fill of chili, and brownies, washed down with tasty beer. There were prizes galore, and we even held a mini-auction to raise funds for impossible2possible. So all in all, a great event once again.

So, what about that Snowman award you ask? Well, unfortunately for me, I only came in 2nd for the prize, being nudged out by the legendary Dave McMahon. Oh well, I guess having your coach beat you isn’t that bad, right? I was only partly sore about it, because originally he was slated to be in Lake Placid for a ski race. Had he gone… well.. you know… I woulda won it!! 🙂 Maybe next year, right? Unless of course he wants to defend his title. Either way, to see the video review I put together for the Mad Trapper, check it out below:

Paying it Forward at Raid Pulse

CPA1 Installed

Greetings loyal readers! It’s been a pretty busy year once again for me in the race world. I’ve participated in and covered a whole range of events from simple running events to obstacle runs, mountain bike races and triathlons. I do all of these because I love participating in them, regardless of the outcome. I enjoy the challenge of new events, and just getting to spend time outdoors with like-minded people. However, not a single one of these events could ever have gotten off the ground without the help of volunteers. To those ends, even though I’m very busy, I do try to pay it forward now and again. This past weekend, I did just such a thing at the 4-hour Raid Pulse sprint race. The key with volunteering at these events is to view them as fun, not work, and to see the great time participants are having as they tackle what could be their greatest challenge of the year. Don’t they deserve a well-run race and to cross the finish with a big smile? I think they do, so read on about the fun I had at this top-notch event!

Pictures from the Event

Raid Pulse is celebrating 11 continuous years of putting on adventure races. That’s a lifetime in the adventure racing community. Its very lifeblood is the dynamic duo of Thierry and Annick (who are now also proud parents to boot!). For the past 11 years, they’ve been putting on high-calibre local events for anybody looking for a challenge, be they experience racers or newbies. The races have ranged from 4 hour races, to 24-hour continuous races, 2-3 day staged races, and even winter events. I have participated in the majority of them and can not recall a single bad experience. I know that a lot of local racers only participate in these events, and others that got their start and interest in the sport through Raid Pulse’s events. As such, I have volunteered on a number of occasions to make sure people continue to have great experiences there.

With the 30-hour Wilderness Traverse race coming up the next weekend, I decided to not race, but to use this event as a venue to test out a few new bits of kit, and get in some training under race-like conditions. As such, Thierry gave me a pretty prime responsibility. On race morning, I was given the advanced mountain biking CPs, and asked to set up that part of the course, patrol it, then take it down once all the racers had gone through. This meant I’d get to bike the whole course (since I opted to bike from the headquarters rather than drive), and experience what the racers would experience on the bikes. In the end, I put just under 40km of biking under my belt, and had a great time. One piece of gear I was testing were my new tubeless 29er wheels, and they performed admirably, even under some pretty crap conditions (I’ll explain). I also got to test a new ‘front pouch’ system for my race pack, along with a home-made attachment system for it. All worked well, making me confident going into Wilderness Traverse.

Although we’d had drought-like conditions for much of the summer, the rain has finally returned to these parts, and the forecast was calling for rain all day. However, we once again got lucky, in that during the race, if was merely overcast. It had rained the night before, but then cleared up. That made the start of the race wet, but drying out over time (with the sun even making an appearance later!). Much of the race took place in the confines of Gatineau Parc, and I headed off on my bike from HQ in Wakefield at about 9am bound for Lac Taylor. I was confronted with a trail closure not long after setting out due to highway construction, and opted to hike up and over the area. This is where I learned of my disdain for clay.

With the rains, my bike (and feet) sunk deep into clay as I hike-a-biked the construction zone. The end result were wheels that seemed all but encased in concrete. Suddenly my new lightweight wheels seemed made of lead! I lost probably 10 minutes just trying to clear it all off before setting back out. I later learned racers actually took the main road out, and crossed the highway with the help of police instead of taking my stupid route. And on the way back, they were allowed through the fenced-off construction area to take the quick route through the construction. Silly me!

At any rate, the rest of the ride was fun on the trails, and I passed both the paddling section, as well as the bike drop-off where the trek section was located. I got my 2 remote CPs installed just after 10:30am. The race had started at 10am, and I wasn’t expecting anyone until at least 11:30ish. And true to that, my first visitor was sometime around 11:20am. For the rest of my time in the area, I hung out near a lake, with a bug-net on my head (another experiment), eating, drinking, snapping pictures, and encouraging racers. I had a race radio and was in touch with Thierry a few times to get a feel for how many teams to expect. I also recorded all the times of the people that I could as they punched the control.

After a few hours, I packed up the two remote CPs, and once again took the trails back out to the headquarters. Along the way, I stopped at the paddling and advanced trekking section, which is where most teams were now battling it out. This was the last stop before the finish line, and it was a mere 5 minutes or less away. People all seemed to be having fun, and as usual, there was a good group of volunteers on hand to make sure things went smoothly.

Rolling into the finish, there was once again a small group of helpers recording times and helping answer racers’ questions and collect the used race bibs and bike plates. The race wrapped up in the next hour or so, after which we all had a great meal of rotisserie chicken from Au Coq, while watching a slideshow of the days images (they actually ended up using mine, as they were auto-rotated). There was also a good array of prizes, most of which were drawn for, rather than awarded, which is in the spirit of including more people in the event.

All in all, Raid Pulse once again proved to be a well-oiled machine with no hiccups. We got lucky with the weather, there were no major injuries, and I believe there was practically a 100% success rate out on the course. Kudos to all! The whole point of this post is two-fold. First, do what you love. Second, if you love something, help it along, and do what you can to show others why it’s so great. Without volunteers, there would be no awesome races, so if you can, get out there once in a while and lend a hand! Up next: 30 hours of suffering and fun at Wilderness Traverse, which I WILL be racing and WILL be covering!

Ripping it up at Raid Pulse

View from Top

Wow! Another scorching, sunny race day. This was the third race in 3 weeks of back to back racing, so I was rather surprised that my ‘luck’ with the weather held up for yet another event! Where was I this time? Well, not too far from home. About one hour north of Gatineau in a little wilderness area near Denholm. And boy was it gorgeous out there! Definitely a spot I’d keep my eyes open for a little plot of land for a cabin/cottage. I was up there for the 5-8 hour Raid Pulse adventure race, a perennial favourite of mine that I’d once again be covering for Get Out There. As it stood, I was supposed to race this one solo, but two days before the event, I got a call from a friend of mine who was looking for a navigator / team-mate. I saw no reason to decline, so in a last minute twist, I was thrown onto a team. Would be fun to be put into that category and see how we did. Of course, I managed to snap some pics as well as get my video review done while on the race, but read on for a few more insights as to how the race went for us.

Pictures from Race

As mentioned, the day was bright and sunny, and since it was so close to home, I drove up the morning of the race. Of course, that meant being up at 5am, but the benefit and cost savings of sleeping in my own bed outweighed the early morning drive. My team-mate J-R was already on site, as he’d driven down the night before. We breezed through registration, and before we knew it, I was plotting the maps and we were getting through race briefing. There were a lot of familiar faces, and I could tell the competition would be stiff this day. All adds to the fun though, right? The course itself was no great surprise. Started with a long challenging bike, leading to an orienteeering-style trekking section, biking back to the water for the paddling section, which included an advanced section for those that made the time cutoffs. There was no doubt we’d be pushing to get that part done in this race. We were warned of the challenge of the opening bike leg, and that teams less comfortable on bikes and in trails would find it very tough. Given that J-R and I had both done the 7-day BC Bike race in the past, and had lots of experience, we weren’t too concerned.

Race Stats

We lined up on the dusty road with all the other competitors and awaited the start signal. We set ourselves up at the front, and when the flag dropped, we tore out of there with the leaders. We quickly got dust-blind and choked on dirt from all the racers. Luckily, we were soon in the woods speeding along the faint trails. Our pace was high, and I could already feel the strain. I should mention that J-R is a spinning instructor, and teaches 3+ times a week. He’s also about 6.5 feet tall. I was at a clear disadvantage here. I let him know that I knew what pace I could sustain, and had to dial him back a tad. Luckily, he’s experienced enough to take it in stride, and helped by pushing me a few times on some hills to keep the momentum up. We were in a comfortable position, somewhere in the top 3-5 teams, trading off with a couple other teams. We held on to that spot as best we could throughout the bike section. The heat was also starting to be a factor, as with the humidex it was well over 30. I feared that either he or I would crack later. Stay tuned for that…

Coming off the bikes at the transition, we could see we were still in good shape, as there weren’t too many bikes in the transition zone yet. We changed our shoes quickly and took off at a gentle trot into the trails. We had planned out our attack on the 5 CPs by making a few assumptions on the best way to bushwhack vs follow trails, hoping we had the most efficient routing. Our navs were very solid, and we found the checkpoints with very little difficulty. We crossed a few teams in the woods, heading various ways, but that’s never a cause for concern when you’re doing an o-style trek, as you can pick off the CPs in any order. At about 3/4s of the way through our trek, after having come out of the trickiest bushwhack section, we came out with one of the teams we were fighting hard with.

Kinetic had chosen a slightly different route, and although they’d generally be faster than us, our solid navigation put us neck and neck with them (so we thought). Sadly, not long after linking with them and jogging a trail together, I got afflicted with my traditional super-cramps in my hamstrings. DAMN! So much for a fight to the finish. We watched helplessly as they kept jogging along. We followed as best we could, but about a kilometer later, I really didn’t like the features I was seeing. Water on left made no sense, as we were supposed to be on a trail heading to CP5. I confirmed our mistake on the next bend, and we had to double back, and chose to bushwhack to grab it. We couldn’t believe they’d already gotten it and had headed out. They must have been a LOT faster than we thought. Luckily we saw no other teams, so the mistake hopefully didn’t cost us too much.

We finished the trek, hopped back on the bikes, and pedaled towards the paddle. Later, in the distance, we saw another team heading back towards us. Odd. Wait a second, that was Kinetic! Turns out they had totally missed CP5, got all the way to the paddle before realizing it, and had to double back. And just like that, we jumped up 2 spots (they were racing as 2 teams of 2)! Buoyed by this good fortune, we put on the jets and tore off for the paddle. At the put-in, we were told we were still in the top grouping, and were doing well. We also had lots of time for the advanced section, so we wasted no time.

Luckily, in the paddle, my cramping was somewhat alleviated, and there was no way either of us could be faster than the other as we were in the same boat :-). The paddle was pretty straightforward for navigating, and I hit every landmark dead on, which meant we didn’t waste any time. To do the advanced, we had to do a murderous portage up and over a very steep (but thankfully shortish) hill to reach another lake. That was a challenge, as there was no portage trail, and manhandling a big canoe is tough (they tend not to bend easily around trees). We cursed loudly and often, but put in on the other side in a fairly efficient manner. We grabbed the first advanced CP, and bee-lined for the next.

That was when we realized we were suddenly being shadowed by another male duo team. We kept the pressure on through the next CP, as well as another portage, and another 2 CPs. However, the eventually overtook us very slowly, and steadily starting putting distance on us. We had hoped to try to stay close and beat them on a foot race, but at the far end of the paddle, we knew it was a short 500m run up stairs to the finish line, so it looked doubtful. Our last chance was when they took a slightly longer route on one side of an island, and we hoped we’d pop out closer. No dice. We knew the game was up. We watched them pull out of the water, and slowly start making their way up the stairs. They were fully aware there was no need to run unless we got closer. It was a bit maddening, but the battle had been well fought, so I’ll take nothing from their victory over us :-).

In spite of all that, we still managed a nice little finish run, and were greeted with high fives from the co-director Annick who was there to record times. Best part of the finish? FREE BEER at the finish! I don’t think I’ve ever been in an adventure race that supplies beers at the finish. We treated ourselves to one, and milled about with other racers reflecting on the great day of racing. When all the results were tallied a few days later, we found out that we ended up 6th in our category, and a respectable 9th overall in a deep and talented field. Given our slight errors and my cramping, I’m pretty happy with that result. The race concluded, as always, with a great meal, and a chance to swap stories with all the other racers, as well as a lot of draw prizes and recognition of all the winners. At one point, there were calling us up as the 2nd place co-ed team, which we had to decline (J-R had originally been registered as duo-mixed!). Everyone got a pretty good laugh out of that.

With the Raid Pulse race out of the way, and 3 hard races back to back, I was taking the next 2 weekends “off”. Meaning I was going to build a shed, build raised beds, create a foundation for, and install a hot tub, etc. etc. But that’s just my life. I don’t like standing still. Hope you are all staying active and busy as well, especially now that the good weather is truly upon us! Next up will be the Super Spartan race in Mont Tremblant, where I’m hoping for a good result! See you all then.

Video Review

ActiveSteve and the Act of Engagement

In the Shade of Gazebo

Do you see what I just did there with the title? Pretty clever, hunh? I can guarantee you all that this blog post will be unlike most of the ones that I write out for you all. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’ll be the only time you ever read about such an occasion from me 🙂 The genesis of the plans for this momentous occasion happened some time ago. In fact, the moment was over three months in the making! It’s a story that makes me very happy, and I’d like to take a few paragraphs to write about how it all happened. Obviously, you know the outcome of it all, but it’s still fun to go back in time and see how it all came about. Please read on if you’re a romantic and want to hear the tale.

Engagement Weekend Pictures

2010 was a pretty major year in my life. Early in the year, I went through some pretty big changes. One thing that didn’t change was my passion for racing and being in the great outdoors. To those ends, I’d signed up for the Frontier Adventure Challenge, which was to be held at Deerhurst Resort near Huntsville. I had no room booked, and no team. Just going solo for the fun of it. I can honestly say there is no way I could have predicted what was in store. There was volunteer at that race. Her name? Deanna. I’d met her in 2006 at another race, and we’d gotten along well every time we’d hung out at races. She, along with her uncle and father, often helped out at these events. However, in the past, I’d obviously never made any passes or hit on her, just joked, talked, and got along. This time however, I thought I’d perhaps be a little more forward with her. We were both single, so why not? What’s the harm?

That night, after the awards, we both attended the same post-race party and flirted with each other and went for a nice evening stroll that stretched late into the night. Having nowhere to sleep, I walked Deanna back to her room, then promptly returned to my car for an uncomfortable, yet happy sleep in the passenger seat with all my stinky gear (all this alluded to in the original blog post from that race).

The next day, we spoke a little bit, and then I had to leave. I had just moved into my new house, and was still setting things up. Deanna was also helping out at the high-school race that day, so she was busy. However, some spark had started the previous night, and I was rather intrigued. So, on the way home, while stopped at Dixie Lee in Barry’s Bay, I tentatively texted her my email address and other info. I also innocently asked if she might like to visit me for a weekend (she lived in Toronto). To my surprise, she said yes the next day. Later I learned that her process was basically that she couldn’t find a good enough reason to say no, hence saying yes!

That first weekend almost didn’t happen, as she remembered some other plans that had been made, but a last-minute shuffling, and she was on a train to Ottawa. I was very nervous at the prospect, and spent most of the week trying to get the house in some sort of shape to accept guests that I’d like to make a favourable impression on. Painting, wiring, furniture, etc. All had to be done. All the while training, and chatting lots with Deanna via email and texts. During the visit, we started to get to know each other a lot better, and I did my best to cook nice meals and show her great things to keep her interest. Neither of us truly knew where it would go, but we had a lot of fun just being around each other. I believe the quote from her that weekend which will forever remain in my head is “If you treat me this well all the time, you’ll never get rid of me.” We laughed about that, but who would have guessed how prophetic it would prove to be!

Over the course of the next few months the fun and happiness only grew greater every time we saw each other. When we were apart, we kept in constant contact through emails, instant messages, Skype video calls, phone calls, etc. etc. It didn’t take long for both of us to hate the time apart, and when a weekend would pass where we weren’t together, something was clearly missing. In fact, to try and make things work even better, I negotiated an arrangement at work whereby I could work from the Toronto office for 1 week per month starting in the fall.

Of course, even that quickly became not enough. We knew we were bound to be together and that we both wanted to accelerate that process. As such, Deanna took the big plunge and started looking for work in Ottawa. Although there was some discussion, it was agreed that this was the best option, as our lifestyle was more suited to Ottawa than Toronto on the whole. I couldn’t overlook the fact that she was making a large change for me, and could only hope that this was the right decision!

As all of you will know and can likely attest, this was absolutely the right choice, and the best thing to happen in both of our lives. We are both happy beyond words, and to this day, are pained whenever we need to be apart for any length of time. Quite obviously to me, it was time to start thinking about next steps. Occasionally, perhaps after a drink or two, I’d invariably joke with Deanna and say ‘marry me’. She would usually say yes, but pointed out that a ring was needed. Also, her nanny was constantly teasing us and asking if we were engaged yet. Something had to be done.

January 2012. Dates are announced for upcoming adventure races, and lo and behold, the Frontier Adventure Challenge was once again on the first weekend of May. Not only that, but it would be held at Deerhurst resort. It was too perfect. 2 years to the day, in the exact same location, we’d be together again, with me racing solo, and Deanna volunteering. It was now my mission to plan the perfect proposal for us. Over the next few months, I turned my attention to acquiring the perfect engagement ring, which ended up being custom made for her. I also sought her father’s blessing on the matter, and spoke to her uncle Bill about perhaps helping on the day by taking pictures. Eventually, this also turned into having her sister and mom at the same place as well, and Deanna’s nanny even coming down the next day for brunch.

All the seeds were sown, and it was now just a matter of timing. I’d only gotten the final ring back a couple days earlier, and had to sneak around numerous times to make sure Deanna didn’t know I had a ring for her. I was now at the mercy of weather and the race. I didn’t want to propose outside in the pouring rain, or have a really bad race where people were grumpy. Luckily, everything worked out perfectly. I had a great race, then proceeded to shower and clean up, and tuck the ring box in my pocket. On the pretext of snapping a few photos in the setting sun near the water where we’d first gotten to know each other two years ago, I convinced her to join me. I set the camera on a tripod, and took a couple photos. I then hit ‘record’ on the camera, got down on one knee, and popped the question.

I got exactly the reaction I’d hoped for, and had totally taken her by surprise. She was so excited to show the ring to her parents. I then asked her “Why do you think they’re here?”. It then dawned on her that this had been orchestrated some time ago. The rest of the weekend it was great to see how giddy and excited Deanna was. We had Sunday brunch with several family members before finally heading home, now as an engaged couple! It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. However, I maintain that the best decision is the one where I decided to text her from Dixie Lee in Barry’s Bay that day two years ago. I could have just let it go and maybe ran into her again in the future, both following different paths, but on that day, in that moment, something truly amazing began, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this journey unfolds. Deanna, I Love you, and you have made me the happiest man in the world already!

Haven’t seen the proposal yet? Check out the end of the video below for a snippet 🙂

Sneak Peak of Proposal in Video

Slaying the Beast for a 6th Time

Two Runners, One Love

42.2km. 28,133 strides. 2,400+ calories burned, 12 small cups of gatorade consumed. 2 gel packs consumed. Several pounds of sweat. 3hrs 16mins and 30seconds. 1 giant smile, and a cool medal. That, in a nutshell, summarizes my efforts on Sunday, May 29th at the Ottawa Race Weekend where I ran the marathon. It was my 6th time running a standalone marathon, and I can still honestly say the running a marathon is one of the toughest events I do. The effort required to run nearly flat-out for 42,200m can not be understated. We all know people who glibly say “I could run a marathon”. I just smile and agree with them. But those words generally haunt anyone who has taken it upon themselves to prove it. Particularly in those who attempt to prove it with any sort of respectable finishing time. Now don’t jump on me, every single person who crosses the line has accomplished something few have, but there is ‘participating’, and then there is ‘running’ or ‘competing’. Me, I run, I don’t compete. I am my only competition in this event. If you are so inclined, I invite you to read the rest of my thoughts on this race following the link. Also, you can check out just a few snaps I have post-race of the event. As you’ll see, I wasn’t the only one to toe the line at the ORW!

I might as well get the results out of the way now, since I’ve already spilled the beans in my opening salvo. My training regimen and plan was focused on completing the marathon in 3hrs 20mins. However, I knew that 3:15 would be a Boston Qualifier. So come race day, that’s what I pushed for. As a wise person once said “Plan your race, and race your plan”. I firmly believe that and always tell people you will finish exactly where you should finish in a marathon. Just ask Kev and Greg, who got the times they trained for right on the head. With my 3:16:30, I secured 283rd place overall. 64th in my category (of 436) and 259th in my gender (of 2733). My pace was very consistent, as the splits show in the results, so I was tickled pink with that result. Sadly, my efforts did not net me a Boston Qualifier. However, since I’d ran it last year, and likely wouldn’t get in next year anyway, it was sort of secondary. I still beat my target goal, and this ended up being my 2nd fastest time ever, so apparently I’ve still ‘got it’.

So why did I not get the BQ? Glad you asked. I had paced myself with the knowledge that a 4:37/km pace would give me a 3:15 finish time. My watch consistently read 4:35/km (Garmin 305). Awesome! Nope! Lesson learned here: NEVER run to a GPS average pace statistic, ALWAYS run with a time reference for km splits. Had I done that, I would have known my time had run out. Reason? Well, my GPS read that I’d covered 42.467 km by the finish line. That is 267m over the official distance. A 1/4 km works out to almost 70 seconds of extra time. The distance on the GPS is always a little off. Silly mistake on my part, but I only realized it on the last couple kilometers where I actually looked at my time! Oh well such is life.

However, as a slight boost to my ego, I’ve decided to play a little bit with statistics here. Yes, it is a bit egocentric of me, but I’ve earned my right to brag a little. First, let’s use the generally held view that between 0.1% and 2% of the population will ever run a marathon (Google it). Next, let’s take a look at the distribution of finishing times for a marathon. In 2009, the numbers for the US show that 9.1% of finishers fall in the 3h to 3h30 bucket of finishing times (BTW, average time is 4:35). That’s where I live. With some fancy-pants multiplication, that tells me that only 0.091% – 0.182% of the world runs that fast. Assuming a global population of 6,775,235,700 for 2009 (World Bank), that makes me faster than 99.82% to 99.91% of the WORLD! Pretty sweet! Just call me rocket man people 🙂

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, what else can I tell you about the marathon this year? Well, this was the first year for a brand new course for the National Capital Marathon. The new route wound us through many of the neighbourhoods of Ottawa now, including the core, Chinatown, Little Italy, Hintonburg, Hull, Manor Park, RockCliffe, New Edinburgh, Ottawa South. My verdict? Loved this new course. Overall, it was pleasantly flat (as opposed to where I did most of my training, in the Gatineau hills!). In spite of the grey skies and early 7am start, the majority of the communities had pulled together to have cheering sections, and each and every one of them was welcomed by the runners. Add the live music along the route to that, and you have all the makings of a truly worthwhile ‘destination’ marathon. The numbers have proved it out as well. The events for the weekend sold out in record time this year. In spite of the numbers though, everything went very smoothly as far as I can tell.

I was lucky enough to be cheered on by different people at all different parts of the course, but every time I saw someone I knew, it was the same amazing feeling, which fuelled my drive to the finish. Speaking of which, the last 2kms were definitely the hardest for me this year. I had to retreat to my pain cave and push hard, as I still hoped I’d magically get the 3:15 on chip time. Happily though, on crossing the finish line, my legs didn’t completely give out. I managed to limp along on my own steam and even chat with other finishers I knew that ended at about the same time. It was also great catching up with old friends that I saw on both the course, as well as after the race in the athlete’s village, including the amazing Ryan Grant, who managed to finish 4th overall in the 1/2 marathon. Apparently he’s gone ‘pro’! Big congrats to him. I also managed to beat a mentor of mine, Dave McMahon, ski and trail-running guru. Mind you, it was his first ever pure ‘road’ marathon, AND he’d raced hard at the 5k the night before. Also great to see my friends Kevin and Greg again.

Of course, the marathon is not the only event, and Deanna also decided to take place in the weekend fun by lacing up for the 1/2 Marathon. She’ll be the first to tell you that she really didn’t train for this race, but still managed to finish with a better time than her first foray last year. Her race started a full 2 hours after mine, so after completing my own race, I put on extra layers and went to watch the runners coming in. That entailed standing around in the pouring rain for about an hour. I was worried about her mood running in such rain, but when I finally saw her, she was fairly beaming with happiness. That was at the 400m to go spot, so I jumped in and ran with her for about 50m and tried to snap her picture while telling her that I was proud of her.

With medals around necks, smiles on faces, and slightly wobbly legs, it was time to head home to host my annual post-race BBQ where I invite friends that raced, their families, and any cheering friends to come over and celebrate our accomplishments. Also doesn’t hurt that my b-day was only a couple days later, so this was like a birthday bbq as well. Unfortunately, we were quite delayed, as we’d parked at the World Exchange Plaza, and there was really no way to get out in a hurry. We literally waited well over an hour before we made any progress. It was extremely annoying. Turns out they only had one exit actually open, and the confusion over that made for a loooonnnnnngggg wait. Once home though, having good friends over made all the pain and annoyance disappear, if only for a while. The sun actually came out, so we all stayed outside, with kids (and Rob) playing in the yard while we all sipped drinks and I played Grillmaster cooking fresh burgers and sausages for all. By 8pm, things were winding down, leaving only a small mess for us to clean up!

4 days later, looking back, I am completely happy with how the race turned out. We both came out with the results we’d hoped for, and are no worse for wear. In fact, we’ve still managed to bike to/from work every day since then. Stiff legs be damned. I also managed to hit the Parc Wednesday night for a good 50k time trial on my Tri bike that felt awesome. After all, it’s time to start prepping for all my other races and events. Next up is the 370km round trip bike tour that is Rideau Lakes in a mere week and a bit! The other thing to be happy about? Well, I’m now 60% of the way towards my Rudy Award for the year. With the 52km Ski Loppett, Winterlude Triathlon, and Marathon done, all that remains is the Rideau Lakes Bike Tour (in a week), and to do an iron-distance triathlon (which I’ll do Labour Day weekend). Good times. Till the next event, may your stiff muscles never stop you from enjoying the world around you! Summer IS here!