Monday, 28 September 2015

Me and My Peeps

5:00 am - The only reason anyone should be up at this time of day is if they are on their way to the airport for a vacation down south.

Yet, here I am, in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning, up and ready to go running.

A normal person would be sleeping in until about ten before pulling on a pair of fleecy pants and slowly heading to the kitchen to have a cup of tea and enjoy a breakfast of eggs and bacon. Me, I'm scarfing down a banana with a Gatorade chaser.

A normal person would look at the notification of a frost warning and pull that comfy blanket a little closer as they cuddle on the sofa with their spouse or pet. I'm trying to decide if I can get away with wearing just one layer out in the -2 temps.

It's Huffin Puffin day and as I do every time race day arrives, I question my sanity. Why am I doing this? Why did I pay good money to get up in the dark and stand outside in the cold? What possessed me to want to do another race? Am I turning into a race addict?

It is at this point that I have to remind myself that if I didn't run this race, I'd end up feeling disappointed that I missed out on a great experience with my PRC family. This is probably the main reason I race. That and the free t-shirt. And the post race BBQ. And Renee said I had to.

I continually reminded myself of these things as I stood at the start of leg 2, wrapped up in my snowflake blanket, wearing my Peep Buff, waiting for Renee to come into sight. What's a Peep Buff? This highly attractive, handmade piece of finery:

Sticking with the PRC yellow, we brilliantly decided to call our relay team the PRC Peeps. For those of you who would like to know how to make your own Buff, all you have to do is cut a sleeve off an old shirt and put it on your head. I highly recommend removing the Buff from your forehead before using a permanent marker to draw the eyes.

Back to the race. Renee got to the relay point at about 8:24 am and put me out of my freezing misery. I ran fairly fast starting out (for me) in an attempt to bring my body temp back up to a level where a pulse could be detected. Maybe it was the cold (it was definitely the cold) but my pace didn't drop a whole lot for the entire race. As long as I was running, I was staying warm. If I ran a little faster, I could get closer to the heated seats of my vehicle more quickly.

Around kilometer seven in the midst of the hills, I decided it would be okay to slow down just a little. I could feel my toes again and my fingers were no longer numb. Then just ahead of me I saw the familiar yellow shirt of M.E.P.C (Marathoner Extraordinaire Pam Collins). She seemed to be struggling a little on this her second marathon which meant I had to try and catch up to her and make sure she was doing okay. Never mind that her pace starts with a five and mine starts with a seven. Never mind that she was about half a kilometer ahead of me at the top of a hill. Somewhere in my hypothermic brain I figured I could catch her before I reached the finish line.

As luck would have it, she stopped for a pep talk from fellow PRCer Joyce and that gave me the edge I needed to catch up. She wasn't having a good run and was doubting if she could finish the race. I offered her the only solution I knew of - one of my Rice Krispie cookies. She ate it and ended up not only finishing her race, but passing several people along the way. Moral of the story - eat cookies, finish a marathon.

I made it to the finish line in about an hour and ten minutes and handed the relay band to Wendy. It wasn't until I was on the way home that I had a chance to look at my pace info. Actually I probably wouldn't have looked at all (because I really don't care), but Sugar asked about my time. My average pace for the race was 6:52 with kilometer times varying between 6:32 and 7:15. I'm pretty impressed with that. It's a great reminder that I can actually do this when I put my mind to it. Or at least when the temperature drops below zero.

It took us about five hours altogether, but the Peeps finished the relay. We placed 78th out of 90 teams. Rockstars.

We were at the finish line when the last of the PRC Marathoners crossed. You forget how cold you are when you see someone you know crossing the marathon finish line for the first time, tears of joy and proud accomplishment written all over their faces. It almost makes you want to go out and register for one yourself. Almost. Not really.

But it does make me think about registering for the next race on the calendar, the Turkey Tea. I'm sure in a couple of weeks time, on Thanksgiving Sunday, I'll be questioning my sanity yet again and trying hard to remember how awesome it will be when it's all over.

I can be a normal person on Monday instead.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Not So Serious Training

It's been a crappy running week.

I don't mean that the running has been awful, just that there hasn't really been any running. Not since Renee's impromptu visit to the ER.

Last Tuesday it was raining and we all know that Sugar doesn't run in the rain, which means I also don't run. Sugar did do a stint on the treadmill though and guilted me into going on the recumbent bike to keep him company. I also don't love the bike but at least I can sit there with my tablet watching Scott and Bailey on Netflix while giving the impression of working out.

I missed Thursday night's group run because of the kid's curriculum night at school. Having to do anything kid related gets you an automatic pass on running activities. Not sure if you all knew that but it's true. It one of the benefits of having little people in your home. You can blame just about anything on them and no one questions your sincerity.

Then the Saturday morning run was preempted by a Friday night open bar wedding complete with fries, dressing and gravy at midnight. I don't think I need to elaborate on this one.

By this point I was starting to feel guilty about not running. Or more accurately, about eating and drinking like I was on vacation and doing nothing to counteract the calories. I sent Renee a message and suggested we go for a run Sunday afternoon when we were finished marshaling at the Terry Fox Run. She agreed, as long as it was 5k. Sounded perfect.

On Sunday, Renee showed up at the TFR in her running gear, ready to go for a run as soon as we were done. I showed up in jeans and a t-shirt. Somewhere in my brain I had thought it made sense to go home and change instead of being ready to go straight after marshaling. We had a discussion and we* decided that we would wait and run on Monday instead.

Monday it was raining. A lot. I was helping out at Renee's place of business in the morning and I think the first two sentences we spoke to each other were, "It's raining - we're not running in this are we?" and "Not a chance."

Apparently "Not a chance" = "Definitely".

Since there were only three more group runs before the Huffin Puffin and we still hadn't run the route for the second leg of the relay, we decided that tonight was the night.

I met Renee at the Boulevard just after 5pm. I had my reflective arm bands, G2, Rice Krispies and my mind prepped for the Mount Everest incline towards Bowering Park.

A little side story before I continue. On Sunday, Renee and her daughter gave me a little present when they arrived at the Terry Fox Run.

Funny, yet awesome.

I was particularly happy to have these on Monday evening when I discovered that the homemade versions I had made had mysteriously disappeared. Sugar suggested that in future I should bag them and hide them where he couldn't find them.

Back to the run.

As usual, we made a couple stops for photo ops along the way.


We also decided to take a shopping break at Biped. This obviously wasn't well thought out. Running up Waterford Bridge Road carrying shopping bags isn't exactly ideal. But we got the shirts we wanted so we didn't mind looking a little odd to everyone who drove past.

We finished our 10k-ish run in the dark and I have to say, the route wasn't as bad as I had envisioned. Sure there are some hills but there are a lot of flat parts too. So for anyone else doing leg 2 (or 4) don't stress about it. Think of it as just another run and you'll do great.

*While I would like to blame this change in plans on Renee, I have to take the heat for this one. She was ready to go. I was a wimp.

Sunday, 13 September 2015


During the month of August I had the privilege of writing the PRC Blog (here). I discovered that writing about my running was a great way to get through a run without hating it. When you're thinking about all the things you can write about, it's easier to not notice all the crappiness that often accompanies a run. I also discovered that my running exploits resonated with many others. I have had requests for more blogs and after today's events, I think it's time to get back to sharing my experiences with you all.

If you've read my previous blogs, you'll know that I am running the Huffin Puffin Relay on September 27th. After test running leg one on Labour Day, we planned to run the 10k leg two today. I picked up Renee and we met our newest running buddy Lori at Bowering Park before heading down to the Boulevard to start our run.

As is our habit, by the time we reached the start, we (Renee) had changed our planned route and distance.

There were several reasons for this change.

#1 - All the other people who planned on running with us could no longer make it.

#2 - I wasn't feeling the best due to events that involved a late night, delicious beverages and a hot tub.

#3 - Renee's toe was about to fall off.

#4 - Lori is new and easily persuaded.

Let me elaborate on #3. Renee did something to her toe and it was so swollen she could barely walk. Yet, she figured she could run 10k without any problems. I would have been home on the couch watching Border Security and eating the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms.

But we decided to try the run anyway. After 0.16k Renee couldn't go any farther. She took the key to my vehicle and went to wait while Lori and I did one lap of the lake, which was just under 4k. Not the 10k we had planned, but as I mentioned before, sometimes it's okay to stray from your running schedule.

When we rejoined Renee, she had decided that it was time to go to the hospital. Renee asked us to drop her off at the ER but, being the good friends we are, Lori and I decided to stay with her. Plus it was too good an opportunity to miss.

Problem #1. We were pretty sure that hospital parking meters were active even on the weekends. We were in our running gear with no change.

Solution: Drive around the parking lot until someone leaves and hope they still have time on their meter.

Problem #2. Nobody was leaving the hospital.

Solution: Drop Renee at the door and drive up the street to find a meter that wasn't active on weekends.

We spent the next hour in the waiting room discussing the possible outcomes of Renee's injury. Renee was hoping amputation wouldn't be an option. I was rooting for the boot. I think Lori was wondering what she had signed up for.

You can only sit in a waiting room for so long before you start to go stir crazy. It was decided that if I went to get tea for Renee, she would most likely get called in to see the Doc the minute I was out the door. I brought Lori to her car and went to Tim's. Renee went in to see the Doc before we made it across the parking lot.

With the tea delivered, the waiting continued. And the best way to make the waiting end and have the Doc show up is to do this:

The Doctor came in within seconds.

For those of you that find yourself in a similar situation, but sure to introduce yourself as a friend, or a running buddy, not a partner in crime. It causes all kinds of awkwardness.

Fortunately, the Doc did not have to amputate any appendages. Unfortunately, he recommended no running for a week. And no boot. Although, he seemed game to write a prescription for one if I really wanted it. He would probably make a great addition to our running group.

And that's where our adventure ended. But if history is any indication, I'm sure our next run will have its own memorable events.