Saturday Stories


It’s time once again for another edition of Saturday Stories, a collection of some of my favourite stories and blog posts from the past week.

Here are this week’s stories…
A study on the pacing habits of the best distance runners. 

A post about the relationship between running and charity.

A humourous look at one writer’s efforts to start running. 

Fall Race Plans

Recently I mentioned that I was still in the process of searching for a goal race for the fall. As of yesterday my plans for the fall are now set. I am know scheduled for a half-marathon in September and a marathon in October.

What will be different this year is that I am not planning to run either for a an attempt at a pb. I will be pacing both races. Pacing a half-marathon isn’t new to me, this will be my 5th consecutive year pacing one (it would be my 8th had I not sprained my ankle one week before my race in 2012).

If you have followed my blog at all it probably won’t be any surprise that my half-marathon of choice is the Army Run. I like doing this race because it is the biggest race here in the fall and it well organized. My father also served in the army for 41 years so participating in it has extra meaning for me.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Army Run. As mentioned above this will be my 5th consecutive year pacing the half-marathon. Overall I have only missed the race twice (the first one because I was away for a wedding that weekend and in 2012 because my sprained ankle).

Once again my goal time for the half-marathon will be 1:35. I enjoy this pace because it generally gives me a good training run for my marathon schedule.

Pacing a marathon will be a new experience for me. I was initially looking for a marathon to run at my own pace but the opportunity a new marathon that has already sold out sold me on pacing. In October I will be pacing the Marathon du P’tit train du nord.

If you have not heard of this race it is a point to point course on a path built over an old rail line close to Montreal. The course offers a gradual 220m drop (721 feet) that organizers are billing as the ”fastest course in North America”.

My goal time will be 3:35.  With the course being described as it is I am sure many runners will be aiming for a BQ on race day. The pressure will be on me to stick close to my goal time!

I will likely add a 10 km race here to run at my own pace at some point but for now I have two goals for the fall.

What are your race plans for the fall?

Unexpected Long Run

My plan for today was to get in a 10-12 km run. However, my plan changed very early this morningand it worked for the better. What I ended up with was a long run and after three days of not running it was exactly what I needed.

At some point between 5:00-6:00 this morning my youngest daughter (1) decided that it was time to get up. Eventually it became apparent that there was not anything we could do to get her back to sleep. 

My wife came up with the idea that I should take for a run. Initially I thought it was a silly idea but then realized that I was not going to get back to sleep soon either and that if I did not go this morning it would be tougher to go later in the day because I would be exhausted from the early wake up call.

I quickly got ready for a run and loaded my daughter into the Chariot and headed out. Since I had the day off from work today I had the benefit of not having to worry about being on a deadline. My goal quickly became an 18-20 km run and I ended up with an 18.8 km run.

While my day did not get off to an ideal start a change in plans it worked out for the better in this case. I managed more mileage than expected and my daughter managed to get back to sleep over the course of our run.

Becoming a Running Family

I have managed to continue a regular running routine since running a half-marathon here at the end of May. Unfortunately I have not managed to post on here regularly nor have I registered for or run any races since then. I have been busy otherwise and have not had much time to focus on either.

Eventually I will get back into a routine of posting on here more often and I will commit to a fall race (that decision will likely come this week). For now neither has been a big priority. After running a marathon in April and a half in May it has been nice running without without a specific goal or target in mind. 

On the other hand my two oldest daughters (7 and 4) have been busy running races of their own. In May they both ran the Ottawa Race Weekend 2 km with their grandparents..


More recently, On Canada Day the oldest ran a 1 km race while her sister ran a 100m tot trot (it was only 100m despite her insistence that she ran 100 miles). The following weekend both ran a 1 km race..


Now clearly in addition to plotting out a race schedule for myself I have to find more races for my daughters. My oldest already has a 5 km as her next goal. I think that is totally a realistic goal in the near future and can’t wait to see the smile on her face when she finishes her first 5 km. 

In Search of a New Goal

For the first time in a while I currently find myself without a running goal. When I started this blog my goal was to qualify run Boston and I was able to accomplish that this year. Now I am searching for a new goal to focus on and to keep me running with a purpose.

For the time being I only have one race on my calendar for the rest of the year, usual pacing gig at the Army Run half-marathon. Although pacing a specific time poses a challenge I also want to run a fall race at my own pace.

As a result, I am currently contemplating marathon and half-marathon options within a reasonable distance (2-3 hours) from home. Something in October or early November would be ideal in terms of timing since the Army Run is in mid-September.

I don’t really have a preference in terms of the distance. I think the main issue will come down to what I can find for races at either distance during the timeframe I am looking at.

What are your goals for the fall? If you have any recommendations for me feel free to send them along!

Final Thoughts on Ottawa Race Weekend

As mentioned in my half-marathon race report this year 12th year of participation in Race Weekend. It has become one of my favourite events of the year and in recent years my family’s involvement in the event has grown as my two oldest daughters have started to participate.

Based on my own experience running marathons in Toronto, Philadelphia and Montreal I don’t hesitate to say that Ottawa Race Weekend is a great event and the best race weekend in Canada. The organization, volunteers and crowd support make it a great event every year.

Race Weekend started off on Saturday afternoon for my family with my daughters running the 2 km with their grandparents. That went so well that my oldest (7) is now intent on doing a 5km or even 10km race. She also came home and placed her race bib with my collection of bibs, covering my Boston bib in the process…

For the 10 km race later that evening I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and watch from the finish line. My role was to make sure the 3rd place male finisher made it to the media area and the podium for the award ceremony following the race.

It was impressive to witness a 10km finish this vantage point. It went from being very quiet before the motorcycles and trucks came through the finish area to very hectic when the top finishers started coming in quickly afterward with some of them collapsing at the line due to exhaustion and cramps.

Once the top three men had finished I along with an assigned doping control agent  followed Nicholas Bor of Kenya around as he recovered then made his way to the media area and eventually the stage for the award ceremony.

The doping control agents were present because the Race Weekend 10km and marathon are IAAF Gold Label events.  For those who are not aware, Race Weekend in Ottawa is the only event in North America to host two IAAF Gold Label events. Lisbon Portugal is the only other city in the world to hold the same distinction.

Once the awards were handed out I headed back to join my family nearby as they waited for my wife’s sister to finish the 10km. Once she finished I headed home to get some rest after a long day.

My participation in the half-marathon Sunday morning ended our Race Weekend experience in the best possible way.  I must be one of the luckiest Race Weekend participants because I had the benefit of knowing exactly where my would be waiting for me as I approached the finish line of the half-marathon while a friend who is a professional photographer waited nearby.

 

Nutrition for Runners: Teriyaki Chicken and Cauliflower Skillet

This recipe was a new one for our family. We tried it for the first time last night. You can consult the full recipe here if you are interested in trying it.

It is another easy recipe to make and it does not require many ingredients. Our version had one minor change, brown sugar to taste instead of honey so we could feed it to the baby.

The best comment I can make about this meal is that my daughters (7 and 4) requested leftovers in their lunches today. They do not do that often. For my wife and I it is a sign that a meal was good.

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend Half-Marathon

Yesterday I participated in a Race Weekend event for the 12th time. Since I ran The Boston Marathon last month I decided to run the half -marathon yesterday. That was a bit of a change for me because I ran the marathon the previous 8 years.

My morning got off to an earlier than expected start when my youngest daughter decided 5:20 was a good time to wake up. Instead of getting an extra hour of sleep I got up and shared my breakfast consisting of a banana and a bowl of oatmeal with a happy 11 month old.

The fact that I live close to the start line meant that I did not have to rush to get ready. Before I left the house at 8:30 for the 9:00 start my daughters lent me their sunscreen…

The start line is about 2 km from my house so I was in my corral 10 minutes later. Getting there early meant I was able to line up toward the front of my corral and close to the 1:30 pace bunnies I planned to follow for the first half.

Although it did not get as hot as it did during last year’s Race Weekend it was still a warm day with a temperature of 23C (73F) at the start. The first half of the race went as planned and I hit the 10 km mark in 42:24, on pace for a 1:29 finish.

As I started the second half I pulled ahead of the 1:30 bunnies and maintained that lead for 7 or 8 km before the first of the two 1:30 pace bunnies pulled just ahead of me. Since I could still see the bunny ahead of me I knew I was on track for a 1:29-1:30 finish.

The final 3 km of the half-marathon course brings runners back through downtown and along a Rideau Canal that is lined with large crowds of spectators on both sides. This is also the point where the marathon and half-marathon courses merge.

At this point I was starting to feel the effects of the heat. As I crossed the Pretoria Bridge and headed back down the other side of the canal for the final 1-1.5 km I had the benefit of knowing exactly where my family was waiting to cheer me on. That gave me the boost I needed to keep pushing hard.

I passed my family with about 200m to go then crossed the finish line in 1:30:45. Coming 5 weeks after Boston and in hot conditions I am pleased with the result. I pushed as I hard as I could during the final 3 km stretch to get to the finish line and I had nothing left in me when I got to the finish.

I was even more pleased with it when I saw where I finished out of the 11,501 runners who participated in the half-marathon…

Once again Race Weekend did not disappoint for me. Now I have another great Race Weekend medal to add to my collection…