Monday, 23 June 2014

Beware The Dog

My really long runs go into the local farmland.  It's quiet, and flat enough.  I've tried running beside the highway, but the camber of the shoulder made my ankles ache.  The farmers don't generally tie up their dogs.  Most of them keep to their yard.  That's what they are defending -- it's their territory, so you're safe on the road.  Some will venture out.

Normally my policy is to take off my sunglasses and avert my eyes.  If you look at them, it's a challenge, and they bark.  If you're wearing sunglasses, you look like a giant insect, and you're looking at them.  . Dogs just hate to be looked at by strangers.

Farm dog
This little guy seemed harmless enough, however.  He was quiet and shy, perhaps just wanting someone to play with.  With him, I said hello.  He lunged, and bit me on the leg.  I panicked, "Oh no! the tights."  My CRW tights cost more than my running shoes. It's what I wear on runs over 2 hours. I feel less achy that night and the next day.  Luckily there was no gash in the lycra from the dog's teeth.  

Sunday, 15 June 2014


Had a short ride in the Woodstock area. Here's the radio towers on Bower Hill. The new pavement there is great. Make sure your brakes are ready for the stoplight at the bottom. Bower Hill from the North 
Bower Hill, North face
Jen was browsing in Multisport Zone and ended up buying a wetsuit. Hurray! More swimming, riding, and running adventures for the two of us. We signed up for the Niagara Barrelman. It looks like a great half-iron race. You swim the abandoned Welland canal, then bike to Niagara Falls where you run along the parkway.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Ride For Heart

I did the Ride For Heart again this year. 

Ride For Heart 2014

It's a fund raiser for heart and stroke, for which they close the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway on Sunday morning for us to bike on.  New this year were the red and white helmet covers.  It was nice that they mailed us those and the bike tags.  No need to wait in long lines for packet pick-up.

This year I was with daughter Jen, fellow Waterloo alum Ted, plus his wife Janice, and friend Stanis. The three of them are on a dragonboat team together. 

I like the opportunity to admire others' bikes.  Here's a novel idea. Sidecar.

It was a nice leisurely ride of about 3 hours over the 50 km.  The weather was the best ever.  Warm and sunny.  We determined to ride the 75 km distance next time.

Everybody adjust your helmet

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Mississauga Marathon - race report

To start the weekend off right, the gift bag from packet pick-up had some of the better items ever.  Starbucks instant coffee.  a nice pen from the sponsoring lawyers.  Bottle of Special-K breakfast drink. potato chips.  easter chocolate. I got a bag of Cadbury min-eggs, and Jen got a Cadbury egg. The expo had several other races with sample medals.  Jen would have sparkles in her eyes for them, but sadly was at work making pitas.  The Midsummer Nights Run was beautiful, and we are considering it highly for August.  The mini-van shed a piece of the tailpipe, so it sounded like a tank for the drive home from the expo.  Can't get it fixed on the weekend either, so we will have to put up with that through race day. 
Starting line
Up before dawn, and out into the morning gloaming, the dog doesn't get walked today.  We drank the Special-K on the way, then got the customary bagels on arrival in Mississauga. The highway exit was closed, so we carried on to the next and doubled back.  The pickup truck in front of us did the same thing.  Fellow racers, surely.

The herd in motion
They let us into the mall lot and park right beside the start line. It was cold and really windy.  We huddled in the car for Oh Canada, and as Mayor Hazel welcomed us.  She said it's the most beautiful course in the world. Most everyone was in jackets.  Fortunately I brought my Brita jacket from the Running Room Resolution Run last New Years Day and Jen had her Run For Retina Sweater.  We waffled a bit over the decision to wear the jackets, and went with jackets and gloves. Good pick, it was cold.  Towards the end we unzipped some, but mostly were grateful for the jacket and the gloves.

Expect delays? I don't want delays
Heading west, my left arm was warm from the sun, and my right was cold from the wind. Oh, and they included sunscreen in the race package too.  What a great idea, if only I had done the right thing and put it with my race-day equipment so I would be sure to use it. 
Go straight to get to the finish.  Go right to get to the pain.
The full and the half started together.  About 14 km, Jen and I got to take the right turn to do the full.  The crowd thinned out, but there were a few runners at our pace who we chatted with.  Like Ironman girl.  She was running barefoot and hoping to make 5 hours.  That was too fast for us. She was like a hobbit running barefoot like that, which she and her friend thought was funny.  
You're on the wrong side of the pilons for the pain
There would be pain ahead, but for now we were deep within the delirium portion of the run, feeling like we could run forever.  We were both enjoying the music in our headphones.  Bluetooth is great.  No wires.  We could still talk with each other.  We sang a bit of Neon Pegasus.  
and the thousand armed robot octopus will try to grab your golden reins.  But your wings are strong from the battle over cupcake mountain.
Guy beside us adjusted his headphones (if he jams them in farther, maybe he can't hear those nuts).

The maximum is 42.2
We both needed a bathroom break after only 5 km.  I had all that coffee on the way, and stopped again at 10 km, urging Jen to go on ahead.  There was a couple people in line at each stop.  The porta potties were nicely spaced on course.  The aid stations all had water and Gatorade; most stations had a couple flavors. Blue is our favorite. And they had 3 Gel stations which was an awesome surprise. Usually people bring along what they need themselves but having new brands and flavors is always fun.
If it was miles we'd be at the finish
They had Powerbar gels on course, with enough left over for stragglers like us.  I sampled the strawberry, and Jen the latte. It's thinner and goes down easier that the Gu we were carrying.
Ironman girl, barefoot
Ironman girl was still with us, so she wasn't going to make 5 hours today.
The chemical plant
At which point we came to the chemical plant.  We had a laugh about the most beautiful marathon in the world. The amusement was short lived.  At the plant we turned north, into the most fierce wind ever.  It must have been 40 - 50 km per hour.  "It's like walking through water" Jen moans.  Nevertheless, we manage to run / walk about 1:4 through the kilometer where we turned into the woods. Passing beyond everyone we had been running and chatting with. 
No oncoming runners for the out and back
No sunburn.  There's enough corners that we got sun from all angles, and not enough to get properly fried.  There were lots of people going by on their bikes.  Expensive stuff like Cervelo, Cannondale, and DaVinci. With the toe clip shoes.
Scenic roads
The woods are lovely, segueing into a nice residential area.  It reminded Jen of Mont Tremblant, because of the homes nestled in the woods and the lightly rolling hills. 
Lakeshore, with bikers
The neighbourhood exits to Lakeshore.  Woot!  Lakeshore is the last stretch, long and straight to the finish.  ...or at least it would be if we got to go straight.  The route turns south and goes back to the waterfront.  It's a beautiful waterfront.  The CN Tower could be seen shining across the bay. The view of the CN Tower was in the promotional when we were debating to sign up.  
Oh another hill, lets go up that one.
We returned to Lakeshore, for the last little hill of the course. The cars went whizzing by.  "They can run me over.  It would hurt less."  Jen commented.  I love running with her.  With 30 km down, 12 to go, she was still trying to be funny.  Keep our spirits up.  Aagh, my quads hurt. 
The lake
At 40 km, the fun run was being assembled.  We went past their starting line just in time for the little kids with their parents to be released.  They're so cute!  We found some young ones to follow who had the right pace and were successfully weaving through those who only managed to sprint the first hundred meters to get in front of us.  
CN Tower is over there, I promise
Finished in 5:20.

At the finish there was chocolate milk still left! and bananas!  What a great job they did stocking supplies.  It's the best banana you will ever have. They did a really good job of stocking everything for the race from volunteers (all those teenagers needing to get their high school hours) to tasty eats at the finish.

Oh Oh! and the medal spins like the time turner from harry potter! but only for the marathon medals the 2k and Half's don't.

Jen can now say she runs marathons.  It's become plural.

Saturday, 3 May 2014


They say that the taper brings madness.  This week I've felt that.  It's evening, and I want to run, but I'm having a rest day.  It doesn't feel right; so you go shopping.

I spent $20 on these fancy new boots for my Admiral Ackbar action figure.
Good for running away

Damn right it's a trap

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Forest City Road Races

Jennifer texted me in January to ask if I was free on May 4.  The Mississauga Marathon was scheduled for that day, and she would need a ride if she entered.  I had gotten he same promotional e-mail from them, so I clicked on over to the race web site and signed up.  I phoned her to say that I was ready to go.  “Unnh,” she groaned.  “I just wanted to know if the date was available. I’m not sure yet if I want to do the race.” “How about the half?” I suggested. “No, it’s the full or nothing.” The race is on.

 A few weeks later, she was up late studying, bored, and went shopping.  What else is on this spring?  Well, the Run for Retina looks like fun.  It’s the same course as the half she did last fall.  So she signed up for the 10 k, and added 10 k in the Forest City Road Races.  Now it’s spring.  She’s doing marathon training, and 10 k is too short 3 weeks out, so she upgraded her race to the half.  Then, she texted me to ask if I wanted to come along.  No, I don’t.  I’ve got my scheduled races, and this isn’t a racing weekend.  Except, I want to support her athletics, my scheduled run for the day happens to be the half, and there’s nothing in the world I would rather be doing Sunday morning than run with her. So off I went to run for retina.


Two weeks later, and it's another race day in London.  The Forest City Road Races.  Both daughters are entered in the 10 km race.  I'm not running. Today I am hero support.  Meghan hasn't trained, but Jen and I want to encourage her to do this.  It's a great sport. 

Off they went.  I got to see the winners coming in. That's a rare treat.  Then I headed to the intersection where they return to the park.  and waited.  and waited.  and waited.  Most everyone was lost in their music, so I wasn't cheering.  The cow bell was at home.  An hour and a half in, the fun run was held, so I went to watch that.  Where were my girls?  They were walking at the tail end, with the marshal on bike following closely to see that they make it all the way. I hope Jen's ready for the coming pain next weekend.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Run For Retina - Race Report

The forecast was for rain, and the highway was wet as I drove to Jen's place to collect her for the race.  She was walking her dog.  She takes such good care of that dog.  Off to Tim Hortons for the traditional bagel with peanut butter. It's the food you need for the struggle to come. I unpacked my new shoes and put them on.  This was my first time wearing them.  

"Do you have Gu?" I asked.  

"Yes, of course."  She showed me her handful of them.  

"Any extra? I'm out and didn't get any at packet pick-up."

"At the house."  There was time, so we went back to her house, and she got me some Gu packs.  Like me, she buys them by the carton. It would have been nice of me to ask for them when we were here the first time.  Off to the starting area.  Traffic is light, and there's some free parking on the street. In the municipal lot, you would have to pay the Sunday rate.

"Where's my fanny pack", Jen asked, looking around the back seat. It's not there.  I looked under all the seats. 

"You carried your wallet in hand into Tim Hortons, so I know it wasn't abandoned there." I offered. "Do you want to go to your house to look?"


"We don't have time."  It was a rhetorical question, meant to find out how important the pack was.  Maybe we could come up we an alternate strategy.

"Oh!  I remember."  She opened the lid of the shoe box.  "I was being organized," she giggled.  There was the pack and her Gu, in the shoe box.  
Jen 5 minutes before the start

It was chilly but not bad. We wouldn't be shivering, or have to carry extra clothes. There's not a big crowd, so we didn't show up until just 15 minutes to go.  There was hardly a line at the porta-potties. The race start area apparently was under water just a week ago when the spring runoff peak flow went through.  A couple muddy patches remained.
Me 4 minutes before race start

Our course began by heading north a couple kilometers, then turned around to come back.  The 5 km race uses this northern leg.  We then headed west along the river, using the same course as the 10 km race.  The river scenery was lovely.  The trees haven't begun to sprout, so it felt like late autumn, with them all bare, and the ground covered in leaves.  The sun came out as we made it back from the north leg, and continued until turn around in the west end.  Fine spring weather. Local charities love this course.  There's no need for police to be stopping traffic.  We go underneath bridges where each of the streets meet the river, and through a tunnel under the railway embankment. 
Jen adjusts the fanny pack

For the first time, I listened to music while running with someone.  It's a long way, and I feel much better when running to music.  I mostly used only one ear, pulling the headset of of the one on Jen's side.  

Normally I don't concern myself with race times. How did Dr. Seuss put it, "They run for fun in the hot hot sun."  Today, Jen said she wanted to go for 2:30, which I thought was possible for her.  I figured about 7 min/km, and checked my phone for our time at each marker.  We started off slow, and were several minutes behind schedule by 5 km, so we picked up the pace.  We had no washroom breaks;  that would have ruined us.  After turn-around on the west leg (about 13 km) I began to nag regularly to keep moving, keep the pace, keep the legs turning over.  She held on to our necessary speed finishing in 2:30 plus a few seconds. Good job.  This bodes well for the Mississauga Marathon in 3 weeks. She's much better prepared than last year for the Good Life.