Monthly Archives: April 2013

Manotick Road Race Review

Yesterday I participated in the 3rd Annual Manotick Road Race. This was my first time at this particular race and while my run in the 18k race was less than perfect (ok, parts of it were pretty bad), I can highly recommend the race.

As I try to think of why I was impressed with this race I keep coming back to the same thing, which is going to sound a little vague; I liked the feel of the event. So what does that mean? Keep in mind my last race was in New York City last month. Honestly, I was a little worried it had spoiled me for any future races. How do you match Central Park, Times Square, and huge cheering crowds? Well, the fact is you don’t, but you can appreciate other races for other reasons. And while the NYC half had all the big city “Wow!” you would expect, Manotick had the small town, family feel that is just as enjoyable in its own right.

There was a feeling at this race that the community had really embraced the event. Businesses allowed participants to use their parking lots, the community arena was open for washrooms, the local butcher was providing a charity BBQ and the local gingerbread store was selling goodies. And I loved the photo booth where you could have great photos taken by Stagehouse Photos (and can I add that their prices are really reasonable – I’ll be very happy to order a photo and support a small business). I also loved seeing so many families participating in the 2k and 5k events. At the risk of sounding corny, it gives me hope to see so many kids introduced to running at a young age. With all the talk about screen time and childhood obesity, it makes me smile to see kids out in the fresh air proudly wearing their race shirts and medals, feeling the same sense of accomplishment we older runners feel.

But beyond the feel of the race, there was also a sense of a very well organized event. The organizers were hugely energetic (I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them on a race course based on the energy they showed!), and from my vantage point things seemed to run smoothly. The course, which had many turns and changes of directions, was clearly marked and at each turn there was always a volunteer making sure you went the right way. I thought the 18k route managed to hit a nice balance of being challenging without being overwhelming in terms of elevation changes. And I say that despite the fact that I struggled with the hills towards the end, and quite frankly the last hill before the finish line nearly managed to finish me. But I can’t complain about that because it would be boring to only run flat courses. I say that with complete conviction as I sit here at the computer…I am, however, pretty confident it was not what I was saying when I broke down and walked part of the final hill. Somehow the thought of “This is really good for me, more races should have a hill in the final km,” didn’t seem to enter my mind at the time ūüôā

So, for a fairly new event, I was quite impressed and I am looking forward to trying more InStride events in the future.

Next post: a review of how I did at the race (let’s just say it won’t be such a positive review)

After Boston

It has been just over a week since the Boston Marathon bombing. There has been such a range of emotions – disbelief, sadness and anger. But, as with many tragedies, there has also been the amazement one can’t help but feel when you see the inherent goodness in most people. To see this is what gives us hope and reminds us what it is to be compassionate human beings. So many people have done whatever they can to support the victims and to stand up to terrorism. Whether through prayer, raising funds, participating in other running events, or just taking the time to appreciate life, we can all play a role is rising about the evil acts that can take place in this world.

For me, I definitely felt the need to do something, no matter how small. Sometimes just taking action somehow soothes the soul. On Monday I took part in the virtual 5k run organized by NYCRUNS to raise money for the victims. An astounding $16 000 was raised by this event.

Two days after the bombing I also registered for the Ottawa Half Marathon taking place a month from now. I had not planned on doing the half marathon at Ottawa Race Weekend because I was already planning a couple of races before it and felt another race would be too much for me. But after Boston I was reminded how blessed I am to be physically healthy and to be able to run. No matter how tired I am, I will not be facing the physical challenges of those injured, or the unimaginable pain of the families of the three people who died. And of course, like so many runners, I want to show that we will not be scared away from large running events. So I have added the Ottawa Half to my schedule. As a result, in the course of 4 weeks, I will race a total of 65km ‚Äď two half marathons, an 18k race, and a 5k race I am running with my son. I will run all of these races with the victims of the Boston Marathon in my mind. Several friends and colleagues are supporting me in this and making donations to One Fund Boston. I have no idea how well I will manage doing these races in such short time, but I promise to get them done.

Boston

In an ideal world, writing a running post about Boston would mean writing about amazing people accomplishing incredible goals in an iconic event. Today, as we all now know, writing about Boston can only mean writing about tragedy.

A marathon, or any running race, is about the best in human beings. It is about perseverance, hope, defying odds, diversity, inner strength, physical strength, charity and celebration. Spend any time at any race, big or small, and you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the atmosphere that I think is unique to the running world. How do we make sense of someone wanting to destroy something so symbolic of the human spirit?

This tragedy has left me shaken. Four weeks ago I ran in my first large U.S race. My husband and my boys, with thousands of others, were at the finish line. As bad as it would have been to be a runner at the finish line today, what terrifies more is the thought of being a runner knowing that somewhere in those crowds was my family. The current reports are stating that an 8 year old child died today. My children are 10 and 7. I, like so many today, took my kids to my race to celebrate, to see everyday heroes in action. How do we explain to our children that there are people who aren’t able to see the beauty and value of life?

There is always a sense of helplessness when these senseless acts of violence occur. For now, all we can do is offer our thoughts and prayers to those involved in today’s tragedy.

If You Write It…It Will Happen

Let’s just expand that title a little. If you write it…it will happen…no matter how brutal or miserable the run is. I wrote on Friday that I would get the 18k run done this weekend, even though the group practice 18k run was cancelled due to icy conditions. It took me until almost 4:00 Sunday afternoon to get around to it but I did finish the run. But I didn’t like it, not even a little. Actually, for the first 13k I was somewhat indifferent. I wasn’t enjoying it, but not every run is supposed to be fun, right? But at the 13k mark I was no longer indifferent, I wanted the run to end and I want it to end soon. It felt like it was going on forever. I started to think that my GPS wasn’t working because I was positive I had run farther than my watch was telling me. It was a route I hadn’t done before and I was only guessing it would bring me back home in 18k. Instead it got me to my driveway at the 16.3 point. I wanted to cry. I would like to say I am just saying that for extra drama, but really, I wanted to cry. I couldn’t even imagine having to run another 1.7k but all I could think of was, I wrote it in my blog, now I have to do it. So I pushed on and got the job done. When I finished I wanted to cry again from exhaustion. I didn’t even cry at the end of my three half marathons, but somehow, for some reason, this run pushed me to my limit.

So here is what I now know. I need to get back to work on my shorter training runs during the week. The fact is I have been lazy. Sure I have done some “longish” runs the last three weeks, but the other runs are just as important, if not more so. I also need to start eating better. I’m not an awful eater, but I could do better and I need to work on it. So here it is in writing again: I don’t want to lose the fitness level I worked so hard to achieve these last few months. If it means writing my plans and posting them so I feel like I can’t give up, so be it, but I need to get back to training regularly. I am going to do better these next few weeks, if for no other reason than I don’t want to feel like crying while doing an activity I am supposed to love!

The Spring That Isn’t

Sometimes it feels like the running gods are having a good laugh at your expense. ¬†Since the NYC Half I have only managed an average of about 25k a week. ¬†I admit getting motivated again has been a little tough. ¬†But this past week was meant to be my time to get back to it seriously and be ready for an 18k race in a couple of weeks. ¬†But this week seemed to somehow go back in time a bit, to say November, when sickness works its way through the house and the weather can throw anything at you. ¬†On Monday my youngest was sick, by Wednesday I was feeling lousy. ¬†My older son is now complaining of a sore throat. ¬†Then there is the weather. ¬†It is the middle of April and we have had a winter storm. ¬†It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but we were all at home from school/work today as the ice fell and the wind shook the house. ¬†Did I mention it is April???? ¬†And now, the training run in Manotick that I was looking forward to doing tomorrow has – understandably – been cancelled. ¬†I’m sure that when they planned a run for mid-April the thought that the route would be too icy to run safely would not have even crossed their minds. ¬†And the sad fact is, without the motivation of a group run in a new area I know I am going to struggle to get out there this weekend. ¬†So, here it is in writing: ¬†at some point this weekend I WILL run 18k. ¬†I can’t back out now, right? ¬†I am going to get it done…though maybe not tomorrow…

Trying Some New Races

It’s time to be thinking about my next races and it ends up that the next two I am going to do are “new” in one way or another. ¬†Both races appeal to me because they have incorporated some good ideas into their race days.

First, I will be doing the Manotick Road Race on April 28th. This race will raise money for the Heart Institute.   Apparently this is the third year for the race, though this is the first year I have been aware of it.  What I love about this event is that this year they have introduced an 18k run in addition to the 2k family run and 5 and 10k distances.  I love the idea of having race distances that step out of the box.  There are so many runners now of so many abilities.  Having a chance to try something other than the typical 5, 10, 21 and 42k distances makes sense. Recently on CTV news I saw the ladies from inStride Events who are organizing this run and they explained the 18k distance was planned to fit into the training schedules of runners for Ottawa Race Weekend.  Now there is smart planning!

I’m looking forward to trying a new course, though I admit having seen the map, I am a little worried I might get lost in Manotick. ¬†It doesn’t appear to be a simple out and back and my lack of attention to direction when running means I will need ¬†some good signage or have a runner in front of me who actually ¬†knows where they are going. ¬†But it sounds like even directionally challenged runners such as myself have been thought of since this weekend there will be a practice run to try out the route. ¬†If I can make myself get to Manotick for 8:30 in the morning this Saturday (somehow places seem much farther away early in the morning) I will be taking the running tour of the town. ¬†Having just come off a “big”race, it should be fun to be part of a relatively new event and a new distance. ¬†Now, if i can just convince them to hold a 30k event sometime. ¬†Surely I am not the only runner who would love to try something between the half and the full marathons? ¬†I think that is the next “new” distance we need to see in Ottawa.

A couple of weeks after the Manotick run I plan to participate in Somersault’s “Day Before Mother’s Day Race”. ¬†Every mother who is a runner deserves to have a race on her special weekend. ¬†I ran the 10k last year and this year I hope to do the half. ¬†There are a couple of “new” elements this year. ¬†The course has changed and no longer starts at the Aviation Museum, though the Rockcliffe Parkway is still put to use for all distances. ¬†But what I am most interested in is the addition of the “All In 5k Run”. ¬†This event will include disability categories to make it a truly inclusive event. ¬†This ties right in with my previous post about the inclusiveness of running. ¬†I have always enjoyed taking my kids to the Somersault events because of the 1k ¬†Wylie Ryan runs. ¬†Having an “All In” race just adds to the reasons these races are great family events. ¬†And of course that makes another reason to run loving – the whole family can take part in the event and come home with medals.

To check out either of these races go to the following links:

http://manotickroadrace.com/

http://somersault.ca/eventmothersdayruns.htm

 

 

iRun Interview

Last week I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Mark Sutcliffe for the iRun radio show. I have to admit that being associated with iRun, even if only for 10 minutes, made me feel like I truly was a member of the running community. Mark’s book, “Why I Run”, is inspiring and the magazine is always something I look forward to reading. Of course reading a running magazine or book always allows you to feel like you are finding ways too improve your running without leaving the comfort of your couch…perfect for rest days or even those days you just can’t get yourself going. We all have those days right?

So there I am being interviewed about my third Half Marathon and at the end I discover that the person following me on the show would be Bill Williams who will be running his 39th Ottawa Marathon next month. ¬†Talk about feeling like a beginner!! ¬†But then it struck me, how many other sports embrace all of its members so equally? ¬†How many other sports organize competitions that are meant for the elite and the beginner? ¬†How many other sports have crowds cheering as loudly for the back of the pack as for the leaders? ¬†At all of the races I have participated in, I have always been amazed at the diversity of those participating. There are people of all shapes, sizes, colours, ages and abilities. ¬†Some are in serious. competitive mode, others are in party mode. But everyone is equal. Everyone got their butts off the couch, often at some ridiculous hour in the morning, to head out there and run. I’m happy to say I am part of such a community.

If you would like to check out the interview, go to the following link and choose the April 6th show. And if you can, check out other episodes to learn more about this incredible and diverse community.

http://www.irun.ca/podcasts/

(And my apologies for the lousy sound during my part of the interview – my cheap home phone apparently doesn’t do well on radio.)