Tag Archives: camping

Summer Rolls on, I Run With it!

Good day folks! As you can see, the time has been flying by, and I’ve been neglecting my storytelling duties once again for the past little while. I shall now try to rectify that by writing a couple posts to hopefully bring you all up to speed on my summer fun. This post, as well as the next will pull double-duty. Part race-report, and part general updates on my summer :-). For this post, I’ll focus on the recent 5Peaks trail running race I did, and the few weeks leading up to it.
In those weeks, I had fun at Taste the Danforth in Toronto, camping in Prince Edward County, and catching the International Fireworks competition in Gatineau. Read on for all the details. I’ll start with the race, which I sadly have no pictures for a change. However, there are pictures of some of the other fun, especially since I bought a new camera!

So, about this race… what exactly was it? Well, pretty straightforward little race actually. As part of my commitment to racing mainly off-road this summer, I signed up for the 5Peaks race taking place at Camp Fortune in the park. The race is just a trail running race with two options, the Sport, a 6k race, and the Enduro, a 12k race. My plan was to run the Enduro and give it my best shot to see how all that off-road running training on Tuesdays has been working out.

While I’ve been trying to keep at the training, things have gotten a bit challenging over the summer. Long training days on the weekend have been replaced with have great fun visiting with Deanna in Toronto or the County, or having her visit me in Gatineau. No time for training when we’re having so much fun. So my weeks now generally consist of cramming as much training as I can from Monday to Thursday, then no training on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Believe me when I say that its been worth it though!

The weather on the day of the race was a mixed bag. Although skies were dry when we got up (Deanna was there to cheer me on that weekend), the forecast was calling for rain, and it looked like it would deliver on that promise. I’ve run this race before, and the course was exactly the same as last year, so I’d definitely have a comparison point. There was a good crowd of racers on hand, and although I knew that my hopes were lost for winning the event, I still had high hopes of a strong finish overall, and possibly podium in my age category.

I was cajoled into lining up at the front of the starting line by a couple people, as they reckoned I was a speedy guy. Whilst that notion still makes me laugh, I suppose the truth is that I am at the top end of the pack in these events, which I guess I should be proud about. The race started promptly at 10am, and we took off at a heavy pace, with the trail turning skyward quite quickly. The enduro was simply the sport course run twice, so on the first lap, we were sharing the course with the 6k racers. That meant knowing exactly where I was in the mix was not possible, as we were intermingled. All I know is that I was pushing hard, and the heart rate was soaring. However, I didn’t want to let up at all, and kept up the pressure.

At about the halfway point of the first lap, I managed to pass a few people on the trail, which felt good, but was also in turn passed by a couple people. The goal was really to try and run consistently for the remainder of the race. At the end of the first lap, I anxiously awaited the sight of Deanna, planning to get energy from her support. I didn’t see her, and had to push on. Luckily, after the next short section, I spotted her at the side of the chalet lounging away from the larger crowds and able to see and cheer for me. Spurred on, I continued my push hard, and found the second lap quite bearable, and not having anyone else pass me. The finish was far less dramatic than last year’s event, so that basically wraps up the actual race report.

So how did I finish off this year? Well, the results put me in 9th place overall, and 5th in the 30-39 male category, with a final time of 1hr 4mins 3seconds. This was almost 3 and a half minutes faster than last year’s time, and a couple spots higher in the ranking, so I was quite happy with that! So I guess that means the training is still having positive effects, even though I swear I had to kill myself to keep that pace :-). Now let’s back it up and look at a few other weekend fun activities in the meantime…

First up, Taste of the Danforth festival in Toronto. This is a big outdoor food festival that I always associated with Greek food, as it is in Greek town, bu they have much more food options that just Greek. This was evidenced by the first pit stop Deanna and I made for the day, where we enjoyed Elk Tacos! They were delicious. If you’d like to check out some pictures from that festival, I put up a folder on flickr for all to enjoy. It was also the first weekend that I got to play around with my new camera. For that reason, I’m going to start focusing on only putting up pictures I truly think are good, rather than just put up tons of shots.

A few other things that we did over that weekend were going to the ROM where we focused on going through the dinosaur exhibits in great detail, as well as checking out the middle eastern section of the museum. It was *extremely* crowded that day for the terracotta warrior exhibit, so we opted to skip that. Apart from that, we also spent a lot of time just rollerblading, as well as doing some geocaching in the area (and getting foiled by several of them). I decided that I really don’t care much for geocaching in Toronto’s urban parkettes. There are far too many things you don’t want to find under the bushes in a big city. I’ll take my country locales any day 🙂

After the foodie festival weekend in Toronto, our next weekend trip too us to the much quieter locales of Prince Edward County, to enjoy what might be our last camping weekend in the County for the year, judging by our calendar. Folder of pictures on flickr seen here. Always a welcome escape for both of us from our respective cities, and also a chance to meet roughly halfway between our homes, we’ve really enjoyed our getaways to the County. For this particular weekend, we sort of planned a few things out more than we normally would. First off was a little supper and visit in Belleville with Deanna’s sister Cheryl, her boyfriend Adrian, as well as a couple other of Deanna’s friends from a while back. We met at Applebees, and stayed for a few hours, before finally hitting the road to get to the campsite. After all, we still had to set up our canvas home, and wanted to take in the Perseid Meteor shower, which had just peaked the day before.

The timing worked out quite well. I set up the tent (without the fly), and then we laid on the dock and got blown away by the light show. Well, actually, Deanna did, while I struggled to figure out how to take pictures. However, we also later went back to the field and I also took it in. Very impressive. One of the more beautiful nights I’ve seen in a long time. The next day, the plans included doing a whole bunch of geocaches in the area, as well as doing a nice canoe paddle on Lake Ontario in my sister’s boat. Hadn’t planned on the high wind and monster swells, but that made the day that much more epic and memorable!

That evening, a nice steak dinner I cooked on the grill, followed by Deanna setting up the back of my car for the drive-in. Yup, we headed out with our PJs on to watch a double bill at the Mustang Drive in not too far away. And who should we run into there? None other than Dave and Meghan, who were in Belleville for a party that weekend. For the second show, they even ended up parking next to us (there are 2 screens, and we picked different 1st films)! After that fun, it was back to camp and sleepy time. The weather the next day didn’t look too hot, so we packed up, and headed out for more geocaching. Just as we left, it started raining. Ended the weekend with a little family visit in Trenton, then driving back to Belleville for supper with Cheryl, then heading our separate ways. Another near-perfect weekend (in spite of the rain).

To wrap up the events leading to the 5Peaks race, there was a nice visit from my dad and his wife, as well as the International fireworks festival in Gatineau. This was actually the evening after my 5Peaks race, and was part of the fun we had in Ottawa just doing local fun things; like going out for a nice meal with some Swiss relatives, and showing my dad and Nicole around Gatineau a bit, like heading up to Champlain lookout to let them see why I love living here so much (pictures here). We also managed to squeeze in a round of mini-golf at a place near my house, which I’ve been anxious to try. It was a bit on the pricey side, but the pro-designed course was pretty awesome. You can see some pictures from there in this folder on flickr.

As to the fireworks, I’d heard about the festival for a few years now, just never made it out. I’m pretty sure I’ll be going again next year, and probably buy a full pass. It was just amazing! Sadly, it was pouring rain most of the night, but that couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm for incendiary devices exploding in multiple colours above our heads, combined with music.

We’d taken a bus to the site so that we could share a bottle of wine that I’d cleverly put in a thermos to pass off as hot chocolate, which was quite nice, given the weather. We also stuck around a little bit after and listened to a disco band before grabbing the last bus back to my neighbourhood. Sadly, I took no pictures, but I’m sure they wouldn’t really have turned out anyway. You just can’t capture a fireworks show without properly preparing for it, and I was too concerned with just enjoying it!

Well, this post has grown far too long, so I’ll cap it off there, and invite you to check back in the next couple days if you’d like to read another installment of “racing and summer fun” with Steve 🙂 Hope you’ve all had fulfilling summers, and got to do the things you wanted to!

Of Racing, Redemption, and Relaxation

Hello sports fans! I’m back to try and catch you all up on another of my recent weekend activities. This time, I’ll be tackling what I did over the May long weekend. Originally, the plan was pretty simple. Race hard at the Raid Pulse 5-8 hour Adventure Race at Lac de L’Argile, then spend the remainder of the long weekend prepping my house for my housewarming party the following weekend. However, when I got an invitation to do some camping in Prince Edward County, I put the kibosh on the second part of my plan and decided the weekend would be about racing and relaxing! With that, I’ll present you with a brief summary of both activities, which I’ve conveniently put into one set of pictures for you all to check out on my flickr page. I also put together a map of the actual race. No pictures on this map, but you can check out the terrain. After you’ve had a quick look at those, head on back for a quick report on the race and the camping.

As you might have already gathered from my oh-so-witty alliterative title, the race went pretty smoothly for me and my team (actually, 2 teams, but you’ll read that in a moment). A few weeks back, I was racing solo at Deerhurst resort in the FAC race, and unfortunately, due to a navigational snafu, my hopes of a good placement were dashed on the rocks. The goal for Raid Pulse was (as it always is) to have a strong, and technically flawless race, which if all works well, would lead to a good overall standing. For this race, the competition would once again be very stiff. Starting the race was over 60 teams, all chomping at the bit and hoping to do well. I was racing with my team-mate Carl, so we were in the very competitive duo male category. However, we decided to race not as a pair, but as a 4-person team before starting the race.

How did that happen you ask? Well, simple. As it turned out, there was another 20-person co-ed team racing, and it so happened it was out two team-mates for the 24-hour wilderness traverse adventure race that would be happening two weeks later. Since they live in the Montreal region, we hadn’t trained with them at all, and it was actually Marie-Noel’s first ever race! So before the race, we decided that we’d all race together as part of training and preparation for Wilderness XC. It’s always more fun with 4 people anyway. We agreed to race smart, share the workload, and have buckets of fun, no matter what! While the weather outlook had looked dodgy, it ended up being pretty good race conditions. Mostly dry, and good temperatures.

It looked as if bad luck would plague us before even starting this race. On our way to the start line, which was a 2km bike ride away, JR ended up getting a puncture on one of his tubeless tires! We sprinted to the front of the start area, and proceeded to carry out a formula-1 tire change as the race director was counting down for the start. We got a new tube and the tire re-mounted just in time for the starting gun. Talk about a stressful start. The whole first section was a nice bike ride through lots of ATV trails and some singletrack. As a team, we were moving pretty well together, helping each other whenever it was needed to keep our speed up as a team. I had taken on the navigation duties, and was very anxious to prove myself to everyone in light of the upcoming 24hr race. For the bike section, things went very well, and we got through it in very respectable time.

At the end of the bike was the ever-popular trekking section, generally the crux of any race, as you are literally on your own in the woods, making route choices to try and find the checkpoints. We made sure we were all eating and drinking lots, to make sure we didn’t bonk later when it mattered. We were obviously hoping to get to the advanced course, but nothing was certain. As the trek progressed, we continually seemed to nail our checkpoints, with my navs bringing us out usually very close to exactly where we wanted to be. It was definitely a confidence booster, and felt good to not have to wander around or back-track to re-set the clock. Sadly, I’d forgotten my watch once again, but with 4 of us, we were more methodical about ensuring we didn’t stray too far from the time goals we set for finding features.

With high spirits, we popped out of the final section of the trek right where we wanted to, and now had to make our way along the camping area to the beach where our boats were waiting for the paddle section. With no certainty about which roads were dead end or not, we made one slight error and ended up on the wrong side of a creek. Rather than circle around, we opted to just swim across, since the beach and boats were literally just on the other side. The water wasn’t too cold, and we probably saved 5 or so minutes by swimming, so it was totally worth it.

We were now onto the last stage of the race, a nice triangular paddle on the lake to pick up two more checkpoints. Depending on what time we finished that off, we’d have the option to challenge to the advanced course. As we were paddling along, we verified the time, and realized that we were a mere 20 minutes away from the cut-off, but had at least an hour of paddling ahead of us. D’oh! No advanced course for us. In spite of that, we didn’t let up the pressure in the least, as there were teams within sight of us both ahead and behind. With decent paddling, we stayed ahead of the teams behind, and even managed to pip one or two teams ahead before finally running back to the finish line.

As usual, I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t have the opportunity to race the advanced course, but still really happy with the way our team worked and raced together. The personalities gelled pretty well, and some of the overly-competitive characteristics were evened out by the need to help each other to get through it. We couldn’t feel TOO bad about not doing advanced, as only 7 teams actually got to it. We still finished quite competitively, and ahead of a lot of others. In fact, we tied for 14th overall, which I was plenty happy with, given the fact that it was our first race together, and Marie-Noel’s first race EVER! More importantly, we’d gotten to know each other well enough that we were comfortable to be heading into a 24 hour adventure race as a mentally strong team. That’s probably the most nerve-wracking aspect of a longer race: will we get along? There would undoubtedly still be some mental challenges, but I was now sure we could get through any of those challenges!

Once the race was done, it was time to move on to the more relaxing and social aspects of my weekend. Basically, I showered, loaded all my gear back onto my car and set out again on the lonely roads for a 4.5 hour drive from the race site to Prince Edward County where I was meeting up with Deanna for a couple nights of quiet riverside camping. Admittedly I was a bit tired from the early rise, and the day of racing, but I managed to keep my eyes open while driving. I made only one stop on the way, and that was for gas, and to fill my belly with Kentucky Fried Chicken AND Taco Bell. Yup, it was a crazy meal choice, but I was starving, and didn’t want a grumbling tummy while I fumbled in the dark trying to set up the tent!

I made pretty good time and showed up just after dark, about an hour and a half earlier than I had expected to get there. I also arrived to find that we weren’t alone that night. There were a number of relatives enjoying a roaring campfire as I pulled in. Luckily, that also meant there was a nice gooey s’mores ready to greet me made by D’s sister Cheryl. Yum! Just what I needed. A little chocolate fix. The tent was set up fairly uneventfully before I joined the gang at the fire and enjoyed the warm flames and the beautiful evening. Had some nice quiet time on the dock a bit later as well, just enjoying the evening. Every time I camp I’m reminded again why I love it so much. Nothing quite like canvas walls and the sounds of the outdoors enveloping you!

The remainder of the weekend was spent remembering how to relax and just enjoy life unfolding around you. We were pretty lazy around the campsite, hanging out near the water and on the dock, as well as having fun camp snacks and general camping fun-ness 🙂 Our only real plan was to head out on bikes to do a bit of biking around the county, and hit the County Cider company for lunch. We made our way out, and for the first time in a long time, I will tell you that I wore NO helmet, and had ‘civilian’ clothes on. Not a stitch of spandex was gracing ActiveSteve’s body! I know, it felt weird too, but quite enjoyable too. Now, if only I hadn’t been riding a fancy-looking bike, I would have fit right in as a country cruiser. Hee hee. Either way, it was a fun ride complemented by a nice meal of wood-fired pizza at the cidery and some wine tasting!

The only other outing of note was a trip into Picton for Ice Cream on a whim. I’d never been to ‘Scooperman’s’ before, but will hazard a guess I may just return there. Tasty treats await. Of course, Slickers is still my perennial favourite in that area, but in the heat, Scooperman did the trick! We had a few other visitors throughout the weekend as well, in the form of other relatives popping down to spend some time enjoying the river-side setting, but apart from those little visits, we were the only ones who camped overnight. The second night we made a nice roaring fire, and Deanna even fell asleep by the warmth of the fire. Yup, definitely a peaceful setting, and I’m already looking forward to a return trip (which is actually coming this weekend!)

The moral of the second half of this post? Well, I may be crazy, but I haven’t totally forgotten how to actually slow down and enjoy the simpler pleasures as well. In fact, I may be starting to develop a taste for it again, so maybe, just maybe, I’ll opt to do a bit more camping rather than racing all the time! No guarantees though :-). That’s it for this post, and I still have 2 to write! Dang. Where does the time go?