Summer Rolls on, I Run With it!

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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!

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