Greetings all! You’ll never guess what this blog post is about. What’s that? My Rudy Award? Damn, you folks are good at this guessing game. Of course you are right that much of this post will be about my quest for a Rudy Award. But it will also diverge a little bit to fill you in on another race that I recently took part in. You are unlikely to ever see this one crop up at the Olympics anytime soon, but it is still a feat in human endurance and spirit. Yes, I speak of that most impressive athletic endeavour, the Beer Mile! If you’re not sure what that it, please follow the link and read a bit for yourself. It is devilishly simple in concept, but can be hard to execute. And I now speak from experience. Before I delve into that particular report, I’ll get into the meat of my Rudy Award, and just touch casually on each of the events that went into making this award a reality for me in 2011. I didn’t get there completely alone, so there are people to thank for their support as you can imagine. Before I go on, please have a look at the pictures and video I took of the beer mile as well as the awards ceremony. You’ll get a good laugh, and can then read on for the real story.
As you no doubt know by now, the Rudy Award is achieved by completing five specific athletic events in one calendar year. The Winterlude Triathlon, a Keskinada Loppet 50km event (skate or classic), the Rideau Lakes Cycling tour (a double-century ride), any full length marathon, and any full-distance Iron-distance triathlon. I have tackled all those events over various years, but always found it hard to squeeze them all into the same year, due to my other racing interests, which often resulted in timing conflicts. Last year, for my 35th birthday, I had hoped to complete it, but a really cool AR opportunity meant that I skipped the Rideau Lakes tour, so no Rudy for me. This year, the stars and the calendar aligned, and I achieved the Rudy Award. The following paragraphs will give a slight retrospective on all the events.
First up: The Winterlude Triathlon.
I’ve tackled this one a few times before, and still consider it one of the ‘easiest’ and funnest events of the Rudy Award. Feel free to read my whole post from this year’s edition for a refresher on how this race went for me this year. To put myself in the best possible position in the race, I bought a new set of clip-on ski blades, as well as some fancy new ski poles to clip in and out of. That would make transitions quicker, and also give me a boost on the ice to skate fast. Well, as with past years, due to the fact that I was skiing classic style, I had no hope of doing very well. However, I had a lot of fun at the race, and was joined by Deanna as my race photographer, in spite of the fact that we had company visiting. We wrapped up and were home before 10am, at which point I cooked breakfast for all 🙂 Great start to the quest for the award. One down, 4 to go!
Second up: The Keskinada Loppet 50km Classic Ski Race.
Oh boy. This event is actually one of the ones I get more nervous about. That’s for the simple fact that I have the least amount of training and practice in it. The full story of this year’s race can be read here. Although I consider myself fairly average in athletic ability, I still have some competitive spirit in me, and would like to do better each time I start a race. I have a long way to go before I’ll place well in a 50km ski race, but I still try hard. As such, I put in a valiant effort into my training this year, and equipped with my new poles, I felt pretty excited about this race. Mother nature of course tried to make it as challenging as she could, forcing me to try a completely new waxing technique the night before the race. The conditions would basically be a thin layer of fresh snow on top of a thick layer of icy snow, with temperatures fluctuating in the day, which meant I had to put on a layer of klister and THEN cover it in regular wax. Tricky but needed. I got the grip I needed, and had a fun time racing. I completed the race in better standing than last time, and felt that I had definitely learned more about ski racing and tuning skis. A great experience! And once again, Deanna was there at the start and at the finish to cheer for me, send her positive energy, and snap pictures!
Third up: Ottawa National Capital Marathon.
Ahh, the marathon. My old friend. Many moons ago, when I really started to get serious about physical activity, it is running that I turned to in order to improve my aerobic abilities. I have steadily been improving, and gradually building the endurance base I rely so heavily upon through years of running. I’ve been to Boston. I’ve run a 3:10 marathon, and I’ve felt the pain of running in heat and running in cold. Through it all, I’ve had to be disciplined, but the result is that I now feel I can run a marathon with relatively little preparation. Of course, there is always work to complete a marathon, and you can read the full story of this marathon in my post. I’d had visions of another Boston-qualifying run this year, but due to my own silliness, missed that goal. I blamed it on my GPS, but really it was my fault. However, I still got a respectable 3:16 finishing time, and declared that I am faster than at least 99.82% of the worlds’ population 🙂 Cocky? Perhaps? Deserving of this? You bet! I’ve worked very hard for many years to get where I am! I also wasn’t the only one racing this time. Deanna did the 1/2 Marathon, and I stayed out in the rain long after I finished in order to cheer her in and celebrate together. It was a really great feeling to both finish a tough race and hold up the medals together, and I was now 60% of the way to my Rudy Award!
Fourth up: Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour.
The best part of the RLCT is the fact that this isn’t actually a race of any sort, in spite of what some people may think. It is rightfully called a cycling tour, and after riding 370km in one weekend, I was glad it wasn’t a race. In fact, this was a great opportunity to just get out and do something pretty epic with a good group of friends. You can read the full report here. You’ll quickly see that this event would have pretty much been no fun at all without the company of great friends. We were a happy little ‘six-pack’ of riders taking on the ‘challenge route’, an unsupported option which has us finding our own way and being relatively on our own. That has it’s upsides and downsides, but when you’re with friends, even the negatives just turn into funny memories (right Dave? No hard feelings on the route mistake, right 😉 The other fun aspect of this was that I could spend my entire ride with Deanna. She has really taken to cycling, and we love to get out. In fact, she even looks forward to the winter riding in the basement. This was a good chance to get a feeling for what some serious cycle touring might be like for both of us. The results were very positive, and the conditions for this year’s RLCT were absolutely perfect. And with the completion of this great event, I was 80% of the way to my Rudy. Just one event to go. Piece of cake, right??
Final Event: The Canadian Iron Distance Triathlon.
Ugh! That’s all I can think of when I have to summarize and look back on this event. There is a distinct chance that had it not been for the Rudy Award, and the amazing support of Deanna and other friends, I may have given up on this one. It still stings to think about this race. For the full deets, please read my post. It was a great exercise in discipline and unwavering commitment to the sport on my part. The one thing I will say for this race is that in retrospect, I’m GLAD it wasn’t easy. I will never forget the effort I had to put in to finish it, and subsequently, completing my Rudy Award under those conditions make it all the more sweet and give me the feeling of having earned it! The main problem was heat, and some poor nutrition on my part. Nothing that hasn’t happened to countless other athletes in countless other races, but it still hurt nonetheless. However, as alluded to, the fact that Deanna was there for pretty much the entire day, tirelessly cheering and pushing me on, made all the difference. I dedicate my finish in this race to her and my other good friends who supported me that day. Thanks Dave, Kev, Meghan, and Pete! However, on crossing the line, I knew I had done it. I had fought for, and won my first Rudy Award. I wasted no time in letting Rudy know that he could add my name to the list!
Epilogue Event: The Beer Mile.
That leaves me with a paragraph to describe the beer mile. This event, traditionally done by athletes at the end of their season, is a chance to cut loose a little bit, and combine racing with drinking a bit of the suds. Four laps of a 400m track, preceded by completely chugging a beer (minimum of 341mL and 5% Alcohol) for each lap. That’s 1.609km or 1 mile of total running, and consumption of 4 beer in rapid succession. I’d read about it before, and always wanted to try. Obviously, the running is sort of secondary to the speed of drinking. I suspect that 5-7 years ago, I actually would have fared better, as my running speed has increased, but disproportionately to my drinking ability! However, some athletes possess a gift, and the days’ champion is a fine example. Ryan Grant, a respected local ‘professional / elite’ athlete can do both. In an astounding time of 6:59 he managed to win the race. That’s a pace of 4:20/km INCLUDING the beer chugging! For my part, I managed an 11:10 finish, but I KNOW I can do better, and will just have to train for next year 🙂 There were about 19 brave souls who took part in the challenge. Weather was chilly but good, and I chose to use Budweiser. My technique was poor, but I had a fun time. Shortly after completion, the 4 beer went straight to most of our heads. I was giddy and silly, and ready to head to the Rudy Awards and silent auction.
The awards themselves are pretty low key. The main event is actually a fundraising silent auction, with proceeds going to maintain the website and mailing list activities of TriRudy.com, which is, auspiciously, the place where the entire Rudy Awards got their start. The auction goes on for 2 hours, and at the end, there are a few little speeches, and the awards are handed out to all the winners. I believe this year there was about 19 recipients, and each of us are formally recognized and presented with our plaques by the namesake of the award, Rudy Hollywood. I now have the nice plaque in my house and it will hang in honour near my various medals that I have on my ‘I Love Me Wall’ (so called by Deanna when she first saw my medals on the wall). As many people point out, getting a Rudy Award isn’t the award itself so much as it is a recognition of a lifestyle choice. The choice being to dedicate oneself to the pursuit of fun and physicality which in turn leads to a healthy lifestyle. For my part, it has also been a gateway to great friendships and meeting like-minded people. It felt great to finally get the award, but a little piece of it also belongs to all those who have cheered me on, congratulated me on races, or even been inspired in part to get active out there. Thanks to all of you, and in particularly the beautiful Deanna who was with me on the entire journey this year! So where do I go from here? Same as always I guess. Looking to the next cool and fun event to line up at and race in I suppose. See you out there!