Monday, May 18, 2015

So much for that year off! Here we go again!

After completing my 6th marathon in Boston last year and reflecting on the toll the training and race had taken, both physically and mentally, I made a decision to take this year (2015) and possibly next year off of the marathon distance, declaring that my next marathon would be as part of my first Ironman in 2017.

It seems fate; fundraising and friends had a different plan.  In an effort to build some excitement around the first effort at putting together a Team Imerman Angels Canada, I challenged my friends and team mates to recruit 10 people for Team Canada or 2 first time marathoners and agreed that I would run the marathon with them this year if they could do that.  I should have known better than to challenge a group of seasoned marathoners and fundraisers, they ALWAYS rise to the occasion and so it is that in my year off marathons, I will be running the Chicago marathon and raising funds for Imerman Angels.

I am truly excited to be part of this team, we have an incredible mix of runners and fundraisers, all with fantastic spirit and a commitment to raise money to help Imerman Angels fulfill their mission to ensure that no one has to face cancer alone.

Team Canada on a chilly morning outside Simply Biscotti

Our first Team fundraiser, a comedy night here in Ottawa raised just over $2000for Imerman Angels and we’ve got a few more ideas brewing as well (yup that’s a hint).  Our team is made up of runners from Ottawa, Toronto, California and Massachusetts, yup, we opened it up to “honorary” Canadians too, the more the merrier, so if you’ve got a guaranteed entry to the Chicago marathon and you’re interested in raising funds for an incredible cause while training with a group of like minded, fun and fantastic folks, drop me a line.

I’ll be running this year’s marathon in memory of my friend Isabelle and celebrating 26.2 years of sobriety with 26.2 miles of running (Oct. 7 will be 26.2 years and the marathon is Oct. 11), so I’ll have lots to reflect upon as I run that day.

I would be so very grateful if you would consider making a donation (of any amount) to my fundraiser

As always, thank you to my friends and family for your incredible support and words of encouragement, they make all the difference! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the Boston Marathon!

Like most of my entries, this one would go best with a nice cup of tea or coffee, maybe 2 given the length of this entry.  Hope you enjoy.


When I first started running, I NEVER thought I would run a marathon, then when I started running marathons, I didn’t even consider Boston at first and eventually I figured, well when I am 80, if I maintain this pace I just MIGHT be able to qualify, so when my friend Jenna sent me the link to the B.A.A.’s special application page, I wasn’t really sure I should apply.  I knew there was the option to run for a charity, heck that’s how I ended up in Boston in 2013, cheering on my friends Elaine and Serena, running their first marathon in Boston while raising funds for the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge. I had resolved myself to qualifying…someday, when I was much older…and it was more a dream than a possibility.  It was only after consistent urging from many of my running friends that I decided that I would apply and let the B.A.A. be the judge of whether or not I should get the opportunity to be a part of this amazing event.

On December 4, I received an e-mail from the B.A.A. informing me that my application had been accepted, and I was invited to participate in the 2014 Boston Marathon.


The training for Boston was largely the same as my other marathons with 2 notable exceptions.  All hill workouts were run downhill with the recovery being on the uphill, my coach designed it his way so I’d be prepared for the net downhill as well as ready for the Newton hills.  The other BIG difference this time around…training in a Polar Vortex, many cold..nay FREEZING cold runs and LOTS of snowy/slushy runs as well.  I had a few really tough training runs along the way and could not have gotten through some of them without the support of the Slush Monkeys (Andy, Kris, Larry & Rhonda), on more than one occasion, they mothered/nursed me along until we got to food and coffee and I am so grateful to them for being a regular part of my training and sharing in the good, the bad and the downright ugly that was winter 2013/2014!

Some of the Slush Monkeys- Couldn't have done it without you!

Race weekend:

Friday – travel day:

Sonia, Riana and I drove down to Wayland, MA to the home of our friends Dave and Elaine, who once again graciously opened their doors and welcomed us in for the weekend,  and they made sure there was an ample supply of bacon on hand…booyah!! Do they KNOW me or what?
The ride down was uneventful save for the 1.5 hour wait at the border, thankfully we had satellite radio in the rental car to keep us all entertained. I absolutely love road trips with my family and now that the kids are adults, there are far fewer bathroom breaks, most of which are dictated by MY aging bladder ;-)

Saturday – the EXPO:

Got in one last tune-up run with Elaine.  I am always impressed by how strong a runner Elaine is, that hill right outside the front door to start the run, sure has paid dividends!
Post-run it was time for breakie, featuring bacon of course!  Then we headed into Boston for the Race Expo.

Dude sending us off

The whole experience was a little surreal, I remembered walking through the expo in 2013 with Elaine and being in awe, but knowing that I was on my way to pick up my own race kit this time, was…frankly a little overwhelming.  

The volunteers are fantastic!  They know what this race and in particular this year’s running of the race mean to so many and they are more than willing to pose for pics, slow things down and really let you soak in the experience, in spite of the sheer numbers of runners that they need to get through the doors.

I took full advantage of this at each of the tables we had to go through, doing my best to make the most of what will likely be my ONLY Boston Marathon.  I was overcome with emotion and fighting tears when I was presented with my bib and athlete’s passport, when turned to Riana to tell her how I didn’t expect that, her comment was, Really? I was it’s kind of a big deal! True, we all know I’m an emotional guy, so I probably should have expected it. Thankfully this was not repeated at each of the tables we visited, the Shirt table was the exact opposite, HUGE smile and the poster table, spent searching for our names on the list of runners, once found…HUGE smile again...only the beginnings of the emotional roller coaster that would run the entirety of the weekend.

Patient volunteers!
This is REALLY happening!
Shirt pick-up

Me and Elaine, ready to run Boston!

After the official tables were all visited, it was time to head to the expo for some shopping…this is where Sonia and Riana left Elaine and I and headed out on their own shopping spree.

First stop, official race merchandise.  Last year when I visited the expo with Elaine and Serena, I told them, I wouldn’t try on or wear a Boston Marathon Jacket unless or until I run the marathon, time to get mine! I still wouldn’t wear the jacket, I’m not so much superstitious about race merchandise, I just don’t like to wear it until I’ve done the race, so once purchased, the jacket went straight into the bag, to be handed over to Sonia until after the marathon.

It fits, now back in the bag!

What are the odds in a crowd as large as the one at the Boston Marathon Expo that you’d bump into someone you know unplanned?  The odds must have been in our favour as I was fortunate enough to have a quick visit with Coach Ramona, one of the Team in Training Coaches who was a big part of my first marathon and ran me across the finish of my second marathon when I was sure I couldn’t take another step…a good omen indeed! Bonus, Elaine who was raising funds for Team in Training this year got to meet an amazing athlete and coach who has inspired many over the years and understand why I speak so highly of her!

Coach Ramona!!

With the shopping done, Elaine and Dave switched it up so he and I could spend sometime visiting downtown Boston, grab a bite and with any luck, head over to the Library to see the memorial (gathered from last year’s finish line).

The walk down Boylston was tougher than I thought it would be, passing by where Dave and I had been standing and then seeing the make-shift memorial at the location of the second bomb drove home just how close we had been and how fortunate.  Many of the horrific memories of that day came flooding back.  Dave and I made our way to the memorial and added one of the Boston we run with you shirts to the cards, flowers and other tributes.  We also made a stop at the Boylston Street Fire Station to deliver a shirt.  Many of the first responders on Boylston Street that day worked out of that station.

After and emotional day downtown, it was time to head back, regroup and feed the troops, being in New England, it only made sense to head out for seafood, great little spot that was both casual and lively and offered some great eats to boot, good call Dave!

Sunday – chilaxin’ and fuellin’:

Today was about staying off my feet, so I let Sonia and Riana tour the aquarium on their own while chilled with a coffee and a book and bought our tickets for the Duck Tours…great way to see the sights and stay off your feet, although I’m not sure we could trust any of the facts the guide was providing since he got almost every fact about the Boston Marathon history wrong (no I did not correct him).

Post sightseeing we headed over to Jean’s (Elaine’s sister) for an amazing (seemingly never ending) spread of delicious food. One of the highlights for me (other than getting to visit with Elaine’s family and meet Serena’s) was walking into the back yard to have Devon (Dave and Elaine’s son) say “Hey doot”, to appreciate this you have to understand that every visit we have where Devon and I spend any time at all together, I call him Dude, non-stop and in between our “DOG BONE” and other shenanigans, I’m sure we drive Dave almost over the edge J

After that it was back to Dave and Elaine’s for shirt prep (there’s a fair amount of decorating involved when you’re part of a charity team) and an early evening for all.

Race day – We’re running the Boston Marathon!!!

The point-to-point nature of the Boston marathon necessitates an EARLY rise so that they can bus the 36,000+ runners from downtown Boston to the start line in Hopkinton.  Elaine and I drove into the city to meet up with Serena, Christina and Amanda (all of them had run last year’s race and were stopped short of the finish).  There was still lots of shirt decorating and last minute gear decisions being made (all tested of course), but we were soon on our way to the buses.

The bus ride to Hopkinton seemed really long., prolly only about 26.2 miles though ;-) and not nearly as eventful as it must have been for the folks on the broken down bus we saw along the way, gah stressful!  My bathrobe (choice clothing to stay warm at early morning races and only $5 at the thrift shop, easy to get rid of too, without interfering with hats or sunglasses) was a big hit, apparently the first time many had seen this approach J Makes for some fun photos too!
The start line staging area is more like a small shanty town, a few tents, a bunch of porta-johns and lots of runners, volunteers, blankets, garbage bags and anything else you can think of to stay warm and dry as you wait for the speaker to call out your start corral to get you started on your walk to the start line.

The FAB 4 - Elaine, Christina, Amanda & Serena

Plenty of time for Team photos and multiple trips to the porta-johns (damn you nervous bladder!)
It seemed both like the waiting took forever and at the same time was over in a heartbeat.  

Gonna' run the Boston Marathon, but first...let me take a Selfie!

I don't always wear a bathrobe, but when I do, I'm surrounded by fast women ;-)

Our wave was called and we started to make our way to the start line, every step a little voice inside me (ok maybe it burst out once or twice) was saying, OMG you’re running the BOSTON MARATHON!!!!

The plan for this marathon was to soak it ALL in, take as many pictures and videos as possible and savour every moment.  Well the clock will tell you that is exactly what we did, my slowest marathon to date, and possibly one of the most tiring.

Elaine’s family and friends, joined this year by Sonia and Riana were at their usual spot at mile 3 in Ashland, where we paused for photos, high fives hugs and cheers before getting back down to the  business of running the marathon. 

Energy transfer

Everybody got in on the huggin'

Along the way, we saw some incredibly inspiring people, from the two young women running in memory of their uncle a firefighter who had been one of the first responders in 2013, was registered to run, but perished while fighting a fire just two weeks before the marathon to running by Rick and Dick and the rest of Team Hoyt just a little after mile 24.

Team Hoyt

Dick and Rick Hoyt - Simply Inspirational!

The cheers and the support from the volunteers and the crowd were like none other I've ever experienced, many of them thanking us for coming back to run their marathon!  More than once when my legs started to give out, I was lifted by the chants of the crowd, somehow they keyed in on anyone who seemed to be wavering and collectively chanted their name, it got me through quite a few rough spots on this day.

All those things you hear about the Scream tunnel at Wellesley College…TRUE! I shot video with my camera and at first I was trying to match their screams, but kept gasping for air, so I switched to shouting “Right on, Right on”, I didn’t realise how long the tunnel was until I watched the video later that week and heard the number of times I said “Right on, Right on”, wow!  I also wondered why I was so out of air in spite of no longer shouting along with the women in the crowd…I clearly got caught up in the fervor of their cheering as I averaged 1 minute faster per kilometre through that tunnel. Intervals are not a good thing at the 20km mark of a marathon, this would come back to haunt me later.

Oh and somewhere between Mile 11 and Mile 12, Elaine and Serena made sure to point out this street, no idea why...

A finer street there never was!

Not long after you leave the noise and the excitement of Wellesley, you find yourself in the roller coaster section of the course, which eventually levels off only to lead you to the Newton hills, and this is where my legs began to really feel the effects.  Somewhere on those hills in Newton, my quads shut down, every uphill was met with searing pain, and I had to walk, I could run the flats and even some of the downhills, but the ups were just too much.  Elaine and Serena were great, they stayed with me, running the ups, waiting for me to join them and then we’d all get going again.  I am sure they could have had a much quicker time if they had decided to go on, but I am so grateful to them for getting me through this marathon! 

Dave, Sonia and Riana were waiting for us somewhere on Hereford, Elaine saw them, I apparently got caught up on the crowd and was on Boylston before I realised that Elaine and Serena were no longer just a few feet ahead, beside or behind me…so I pulled over to wait…the crowd must have thought I was giving up, because I’ve never heard so many people shouting not to give up, not far now, you can do this…thankfully I didn’t have to endure that for long, Elaine and Serena caught up to me pretty quickly and we managed to cross the finish line together.

Finishing together!

All in all it was a VERY emotional weekend, to all of you who purchased a Boston we run with you shirt, volunteered to help me sell them at race expo, offset the costs with corporate sponsorship, or who attended the Boston virtual run, THANK YOU, we raised just over $8000 for The One Fund Boston to help the victims pay for their medical expenses and you are all a big part of why I think I was selected by the BAA to run this Marathon.  I will never forget, experience of a lifetime!!

AMAZING!! Thank you all!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Running for Isa

I haven’t been nearly as active on this blog in the last year as I had hoped to. 

Two pretty big race reports are long overdue, Boston Marathon and my first ½ Ironman triathlon, both significant events in my limited athletic portfolio, but in spite of their impact and the amazing people I completed them with and received support from leading up to, at and post events, I just haven’t felt moved to write.

This week, I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming Winterman event.  Last year a couple of friends and I ran the marathon as a relay team with my friend Isabelle, it was her first race back after receiving her cancer diagnosis, it was also as it turned out, her last race.

Coming in on the first lap, love the smile Isa

Crossing the Finish line of the 2014 Winterman Marathon

On September 19, a little over six months later, Isabelle left us.  To quote Stuart Scott in his ESPY speech (if you haven’t seen this video, I HIGHLY recommend you watch it!)

"When you die, that does not mean you lose to cancer.  You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live. So live, live, fight like hell. And when you get too tired, [lie] down, rest and let someone else fight for you.”

This quote so accurately reflects the way Isabelle lived her life from the moment she shared her cancer diagnosis with me, that I when I heard it I was convinced he was speaking about her!  If you read any of the posts or exchanges between Isabelle and I on facebook during her fight, you will know that she fought hard, stayed positive and was so incredibly strong and courageous throughout the battle, always keeping her sense of humour and always hanging onto the hope that she’d return to health and to her love of running.

Isabelle and I shared our love of running and a passion for the mission of Imerman Angels.
In our last conversation, just two days before she passed away, Isabelle sounded very tired, but she insisted she was going to beat this disease, return to run and raise funds for Imerman Angels and become a mentor for them.

This weekend, I’ll be running the Winterman Marathon as a relay once again with friends, many of whom got the chance to meet Isabelle, and we’ll pick up the baton, run and continue to fight for Isabelle to that she can rest (or run) in peace!

The gang post-race, Isa was smiling pretty much all weekend

I miss you dearly my friend, but my heart will be filled with joy on Sunday as I run that route in your memory and reflect how it brought you joy and comfort as well!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Chicago Marathon Race Report – No disrespect intended

The lead-up:

This race report is long overdue…I’ve been meaning to get to it for months, but finally found some downtime to put thoughts to paper…or blog in this case.

The decision to run the Chicago Marathon was based solely on the fact that it is premiere race (and headquarters) of Imerman Angels.  I focused a lot of my time on energy on raising funds and awareness for Imerman Angels in 2013 and it paid big dividends…with the help of friends and family, we raised over $3000 for Imerman Angels, which equates to just over 9 connections for cancer fighters or caregivers.  Equally important, as a result of spreading awareness here in Ottawa, 2 new Ottawa based mentor Angels were recruited and many friends are continuing to spread the word to those they know who have been affected by cancer.

Training was a bit of a challenge this year, balancing cycling events, triathlon, shorter distance races with family and friends and an ever accumulating fatigue from the training and in hind sight a general lack of focus.

Race Weekend:

Since I was headed to the Home of Imerman Angels, I booked some extra time on either side of the Marathon, arriving early Friday afternoon, and staying until mid-day the day after the marathon. 

After getting settled in on Friday, I headed over to the race expo to volunteer at the Imerman Angels booth where I got to meet the Incredibly Energetic Khitam.  Khit is a 2 time cancer survivor, Mentor Angel, member of the Imerman Angels professionals board and is incredibly passionate about the mission of Imerman Angels and spreading awareness…she makes me feel like a sloth with her boundless energy!  Oh and she was going to be running her first marathon on Sunday too J


As luck would have it, my good friend and Mentor Angel, Derek works in Chicago AND his boss has season tickets to the Black Hawks!  His boss, generously offered to take us along, he’s a great guy, who loves his Chicago teams and knows everything about them!  We saw a great game (which Chicago won) had some great food and got to hang out for the evening, great way to stay relaxed.


One of the BEST things about this weekend was that my friends Dave & Elaine came to cheer me on (they brought Doot too)!   We met up on Saturday evening with Ben, Steven and Jennifer and headed over to the Team Imerman Angels dinner where we got to meet up with staff, volunteers and many of the Team Imerman Angels members who I would be running with the next day.  After that it was early to bed in preparation for race day.

Race Day:

The goal for this race was to finally break the 4:30:00 barrier (more on that later).  The forecast called for a chilly start to the race (8C) with the day getting progressively warmer (17C) for the finish.

The morning started with my normal pre-race meal, oatmeal and a banana and then a quick cab ride to the Charity Village to meet up with Team Imerman Angels and all of the volunteers and staff who we busy preparing pre and post-race refereshments and treats for us. 

Joan (Team Imerman Angels director) was on-site taking charge and making sure that everyone was accounted for, photographed, got their wings (see photo) and generally in the right state of mind (and body) to head out for their marathon challenge.

It was GREAT to get to meet so many people who had a connection with Imerman Angels and had decided to fundraise and train to run the Chicago marathon…a first marathon for many of the team. One of the people I met (in person finally) was Pascale an expat Canadian (see photo)


As we were walking over to the start line with the team and figuring out what corrals we were assigned to, we also started talking expected/goal times and informally sorted ourselves into groups that would run together for as long as our pace would let us.  The group of four I started with included Anthony, Becky and Pascale…us Canucks need to stick together ya’ know J


I’m not sure how or when we came up with this, but as we ran past each mile marker, we would call out the mile number followed by Ah, Ah, Ah…very Sesame street of us…hey you do what you gotta’  to keep yourself distracted during a marathon.

The crowd support was amazing!!! I can’t remember the exact number but there were people and signs everywhere…and a few personal connections along the way too. 

We got to see…actually hear then see Pascale’s mom several times during the race, she is a real ball of energy and just what you need when your own energy is waning, it was touching to see Pascale and her mom run together as they spotted each other and her mom checked in to make sure she was doing well.

Mile 13 was my energy boost as I got to see Dave, Elaine and Doot and get some high fives and a hug along with an acknowledgement from Elaine that I was ahead of pace…woohoo!!

I know I saw Dave, Elaine and Doot again and I think it was around mile 17, but my mind is a bit hazy on this one…their smiles, cheers and signs we a fantastic boost and helped me re-focus on the goal.

Mile 18(ish) was the only spot where the crowd support was thin…it’s in a business park and I am sure getting public transit there is a bit of a challenge, but you sure feel it when you don’t have the energy of the crowd to draw on, thankfully we had Pascale’s mom, with her exuberant cheers and her run along with Pascale to keep us going until we got to the crowds again..

I don’t remember exactly where the group started to split as we each began budgeting our energy and pace to make sure that we would cross the finish line upright and smiling, but at some point we all ended up running our own races.

I’m not sure if it was being out there alone, the lack of focus in training or the accumulated mileage, but somewhere around the 35k mark, things started to go downhill.  My pace was slipping, my energy was waning and the negative self-talk was starting.  I was becoming more and more certain that I was not going to make my goal time and started “letting” myself take more frequent and longer walk breaks…telling myself I wasn’t going to make the goal anyway..beginning to question why I was out here but catching myself each time I let my chin drop to my chest and felt dejected, my eyes saw the Imerman Angels logo on my jersey …and I would remind myself of what the survivors and cancer fighters I know have and are going through and that I got to choose to be out here, that I was raising awareness with each person who saw the jersey and making connections with the funds raised.

It wasn’t going to get me back on track for my goal time, but it was enough to get me started running each time knowing that I could finish this.

I must have looked especially dejected after the last water station somewhere around mile 25, because as I was walking and moping, another marathon runner, a complete stranger ran up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and said “come on Brent, you’ve got this!” (our names are on the back of our jerseys), he then proceeded to run with me up to the 26 mile marker where he said “you’ve got this, you look strong now run it in! I’ve got to go run in some friends” and he was gone…I LOVE that about running! Thank you complete stranger!!

I did manage to run in the last .2 without assistance J to cross the finish line in a time of 4:40:58.  I got my bling, my mylar blanket and I swore that I was taking a year off of this marathon thing!

Post Race:

The walk from the finish line to Charity Village was about 1k which was a good thing (except for the stairs on the way out of the park) as I needed to keep moving.

As I got to Charity Village, I was greeted with smiles, hugs and congratulations from Dave, Elaine and Doot…it was soooo Great to have some familiar faces there after a very tough finish and a disappointing result. Perspective is everything and friends sure help you gain that quickly!

Post-race (post-shower) activities included a visit to Burke’s Bacon Bar (is anyone surprised) for a light snack with Dave, Elaine, Doot and a few of Dave & Elaine’s friends as well as a walk to Navy Pier to kill some time before meeting up with Ben, Steven (who also ran the marathon..super fast I might add), Jennifer and a few more of Dave and Elaine’s friends for Deep Dish pizza…and it was GOOOD!!!


Lesson learned:

Ya’ gotta respect the distance.  In hindsight, I think that I was too casual about this race, with it being my 5th I was possibly too relaxed…I didn’t feel the normal pre-race nerves leading up to the race or even at the start line, which should have been a sign.

Although I was a little disappointed when I realized I wasn't going to make my time goal, I am grateful for the gift of fitness and for my amazing family and friends who are always so supportive!

Next up:

This year’s focus will be on triathlon and my first half iron distance in particular, I’m also hoping to PB in the ½ marathon distance in the fall, so it promises to be a fun, tough summer.  I hope to be more consistent about my blog entries too, so that you can all track my progress on my goals both in events and in fundraising/awareness for Imerman Angels.

If you’re in Ottawa, drop me a line and let’s get a swim, ride or run in together!


Friday, September 13, 2013

Time to DU it again - Esprit Duathlon Race Report

I added the Esprit Duathlon to my race calendar after the Worlds here in Ottawa as I felt I needed to redeem myself. Sonia and I had talked about Spain for next year's Worlds and decided that we'd put that chat off until we saw IF I could qualify in Montreal, as it turns out, we won't need to have that chat.

Going into the race, I was unsure if my back would hold-up after the spasms I had in the Olympic last week so I decided the plan would be to race at perceived effort and rarely looked at my Garmin save to make sure I was on the right lap on the bike.

The stats:
Run 1: 55:29.9
Bike: 1:17:37 (includes both transitions I think as my Garmin showed the bike as 1:11 and some change)
Run 2: 32:42.8
Race total: 2:45:48.9 (PB of just under 5 minutes over Worlds in August)
21/25 M 45-49 (only the top 10 qualify for Worlds)
116/153 Men

Run 1 (10k):
Felt pretty good, my back was not causing any problems and thanks to the fact that there was a mix of age groupers and folks trying to qualify, I was not left in everyone's dust this time.

Went pretty well, it's a longish transition, but well marked and there were lots of volunteers to guide you.

Bike (40k):
A relatively flat course with some nice tight corners and thankfully DRY when I was out there. Since it is the Gilles Villeneuve race course, I couldn't help but make some F1 noises as I "opened it up" on the straight my head anyway.  My goal on the bike was to go hard for the first half and then ease up a bit so that I still had some legs left for the second run (learning from my mistake at Worlds). I managed this pretty well and spent the last couple of laps spinning things out. PB for this distance on the bike, and the good news, I didn't feel like I was going to puke.

Things did not go so smoothly here, it was a long transition off the bike to where the duathletes rack and maybe I pushed harder than I thought because when I got to the rack, I almost knocked the bike next to mine off the rack...a wee bit off balance. Transition took longer than normal for me, almost double, but again maybe that was due to the bike.

Run 2 (5k):
Overall a good run, not quite as fast as at Worlds, but at least I didn't feel like I was going to puke! No back issues which was surprising and a relief. Experienced some stomach issues that may be due to the new sports drink and chews that I am testing out before Chicago or maybe due to having Greek as the pre-race supper the night before (not my regular pre-race supper).

After the race I was feeling a little defeated when I saw that I hadn't qualified, not that I honestly expected to as I knew the calibre of the racers at the world level, but in the back of my mind I still thought I MIGHT have a chance. Two things helped give me perspective and “reset the brain"

1. Seeing other OTC peeps out there enjoying their fitness, racing with a smile (thanks for that hug Annick, you probably didn't realise how much it helped at the time).

2. Meeting up with my friend Isabelle after the race and hearing about her battle with a rare, incurable form of cancer. Isabelle is a runner and has been unable to run due to the effects of her multiple treatments over the last 8 months. She's about to get a break from chemo and IF she's given the green light and has any energy at all, she plans to race, she misses the positivity of the race environment so much that she just HAS to get back out there if she can. We've decided we'll run together and celebrate every step!

Lessons learned:
Perception is not reality, reviewing the stats when I got home was when I realised I had a PB, even though I didn't feel like I went as hard as I had at Worlds.
Slow is relative and I can do something about it.
Nutrition needs work and maybe more thought and planning.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

One last Tri - Canadian Triathlon Race Report

Race Dedication:

Race morning I received news that my good friend Jane’s father had passed away, just shy of his 91st birthday.  He inspired so many people, competing in races well into his 80's and always with a smile on his face and kind words for his fellow competitors and advice and encouragement for those of us who were new to the sport.  He was a war hero (though he would never have accepted that title and was very private about his experiences during the war) flying as part of many secret and dangerous missions.

I decided that I would race in the name of a hero, a man who never claimed that title, but lived his life that way and who after a valiant battle, sadly left us early Saturday morning and so I raced (with a smile) for Mr. (Smiling) Jack Galbraith.  R.I.P. you will be missed!

The short report:

Swim +t1: 41:57
Bike: 1:27:12
T2: 2:09
Run: 1:07:19
Overall: 3:18:35.7, 85 overall, 57/74 men, 9/13 m 45-49

The long report:

The Canadian was my first Olympic distance Triathlon as well and it was FANTASTIC to have the support of the OTC, it made all the difference.

I had not planned on doing an Olympic distance event until next year, but with the confidence gained from doing Bring on the Bay and the encouragement of fellow OTC members (the good peer pressure), I decided to give this distance a Tri.

Last year at the Canadian, I did my first open water event at the super-sprint distance and my plan then was SURVIVE the swim, hammer the bike and leave nothing in the tank on the run, this year with all of the excellent instruction and tips gained from Coaches Geordie, Holly and Sean, I adjusted the goal, ENJOY the swim, hammer the bike and empty the tank on the run, but above all HAVE FUN and finish with a smile.

For the first time leading up to a tri (or any event involving a swim) I didn't feel nervous, instead I was feeling excited and really looking forward to the race and hanging out with other OTC folks after the race, that's BIGGER than I can explain in words, to feel that calm about the swim portion was so different for me, it was weird and wonderful at the same time, so weird that I started to question if maybe I was feeling too calm and maybe too confident...decided to shake that thought off and go with calm and confident based on a summer filled with LOTS of swimming.

I got to the race site WAY early which is just part of my race day routine, was able to pick up my race kit, get myself setup in the t-zone and had plenty of time to hangout at the OTC tent, and head down to the beach to see and cheer on a few OTC folks coming out of the water including Garry who was serving as a swim angel for Erin as she did the swim leg for her relay team, (we need to get you some wings buddy, and not water wings!), it was truly inspirational to see not only how people are facing and overcoming their own challenges but how the people like Garry and Geordie continue to strengthen and grow our triathlon community by helping others along their journey.

After that is was time to go do my walkthrough, final checks of all equipment in the T-zone and the last trip to the washroom before slipping into the wetsuit. Down to the beach for Geordie's orientation talk, a few last minute chats with OTC and other folks I knew who were also racing this and then the warm-up swim. Still feeling relatively calm up to this point.

It was a beach start, another first for me and I was doing my best to get to the back of the crowd, self-seeding as a “patient” swimmer, but I stopped about halfway back, not sure that it was a conscious decision, but that’s where I was when we started, ran (or at least it felt like I was running) into the water and “jostled” with others for a bit of open water. In the first 100m, I was kicked, elbowed, swam over, grabbed, none of which I am sure was intentional, but in the melee, my goggles got knocked loose and one side was filling with water, switched to a modified breast stroke, fixed my goggles and got back into my swim groove.

The rest of the swim was pretty uneventful, stuck to my rhythm, miscounted and realized that what I thought was the last buoy was actually second last (couldn’t see the green beach buoys) but didn’t let that bother me, just kept swimming. I have to chalk this up as one of my best ever swims, and the best part of the race for me, not necessarily from a time perspective, but because I didn’t panic, I didn’t let the bumping around at the start throw me off and I kept a simple mantra throughout “think happy thoughts” , I event tried to smile while breathing...or imagined that I was.

Jogged up the hill, and got an extra boost as I ran by the OTC tent and heard the cheers, Ya’ gotta’ love being part of this club!!

I LOVE the bike course on the Canadian, FLAT & FAST, I managed to keep a fairly steady pace and was able to catch some of the folks who beat me out of the water, stayed in aero for all but the turnarounds and felt pretty good about the bike portion overall. I was grinning from ear to ear and doing my best to give a shoutout to all the OTC athletes out there, managed to pickout Andrew, Christina , Claude, Bryan and Bart and tried to give them a specific shoutout as we crossed paths.

This is where the wheels came off my race plan, I had tweaked my back the week before while on vacation and as soon as I stepped off the bike, and my back began to spasm. Transition was almost double my normal time as I had trouble bending over to get shoes changed and had to try to massage my lower back a bit. Decided that I would just start moving and see what happened. Crossing in front of the OTC tent I heard Ian (and maybe others) yelling to “go get the bacon”, brought the smile back to my face and maybe added a little extra oomph to my step.

With the back acting up I was not able to go as hard as I had hoped and struggled with the spasms, but ran as much as I could, taking walk breaks to massage the back from time to time and kept trying to keep the smile there. Spotted a few OTC folks out there and gave them shoutouts as we crossed paths and yes Christina was smiling every time I saw her...beaming actually, it got to where I could spot her smile before I knew it was her. Having the OTC tent just before the turnaround was a big help, re-energized me and helped me to be able to re-focus on the fun in spite of the back issues, I was still healthy enough to be out here and to be surrounded by so many supportive people! Sadly I never found the bacon on the run, I’m convinced Ian may have been pulling my leg on that one, though it may have been that the aid stations ran out by the time I got there due to the walk breaks.

I was very fortunate that there so many Ottawa Triathlon Club members at the events.  I received many a high five, low five and shout out from OTC peeps along the whole course.

Most importantly, I managed to cross that finish line with a smile on my face and pay tribute to Mr. Galbraith with a salute !

 I am so thankful for all of the support I have received this season from my family, friends fellow athletes and new friends at the OTC, I honestly could not keep doing what I love so much without all of your support, encouragement and advice!

THANK YOU and I hope to see you all at many more events.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Duathlon World Championships - Race were those folks FAST!

The short report:
M45-49 39/39
Men 297/219
PB on the first 10K, PB on the 40K bike, hurting on the final 5K.

The not so short report:
This was my first Duathlon World Championship and it was an incredible experience.  Being a part of Team Canada, participating in the Team events, meeting people from all over this country and the world who were all so positive and happy to be here and so down-to-earth too, some truly inspiring people and some awesome athletes.

Participating in the parade of Nations was one of the highlights for me, my family commented that Team Canada’s uniforms really stood out and more than any other country, we really looked like a Team.  Kudos to the Team managers for stressing the importance of everyone wearing the parade uniform since we were hosting, the pictures really drive home this point.

I have spent most of this season participating in events without any specific time goals, I’ve been participating with friends or family and going at their pace, or participating in events where I was happy to just complete.  In retrospect, that may not have been the best way to prepare for this competition. 

For those who don’t know, the Ottawa venue was announced late last season after Spain had to withdraw as host.  By the time the location was announced, I had missed all of the qualifying events however I was accepted onto the team via the special application process. 

In the lead up to the race, I wanted to be a part of everything that was going on downtown, but also had to try and juggle work and family responsibilities in there, in hindsight, I spent much too much time on my legs and walking around in the days and evenings before.  In short, I did not follow my usual pre-race preparations, not that it would have made a significant difference in the day’s results, but it may have contributed to my personal performance and I certainly didn’t feel “on my game”.

This is the first event where I had to check my bike in the day before, I kinda’ like the idea of not having to go through the full setup process on race morning, there were still all the last minute preps to do, air in tires, helmet on bars, shoes on ground…but having the bike in a pre-assigned spot was somewhat comforting.  Less comforting was the fact that until about an hour before the race, we still were not sure if there were traffic flow rules for the T-zone, turns out there were, but there were relatively simple and there were ample volunteers to make sure you knew where you were going…phew!

Before the race, I had been thinking a lot about a couple of friends (Khitam & Isabelle) who have been an inspiration to me over the last year, Khit is a two time cancer survivor who recently had another scare with the disease (Negative thankfully) and Isabelle is battling a rare form of cancer, both have been incredibly strong, courageous and positive throughout.  I decided that this race was going to be dedicated to both of them and that anytime I was feeling tired, lacking motivation or struggling in anyway, that I would draw on their strength, courage and positivity to pull me through; I just didn’t realize at the time how much I was going to need to rely on them.

The race itself was grueling!  I was way out of my league and I have a new appreciation for the speed and caliber of athletes competing on the World stage, they left me in their dust from the time the horn blew.  This is the first event that I have participated in where I was in last for the entire race.  I have worked hard on the bike over the last couple of years and can usually make up a few spots on the bike sometimes only to lose them on the final run, but nevertheless it was mentally tough to handle.  I found myself wondering on a few occasions why I got myself into this, I was obviously not on the same level as these athletes and as hard as I tried,

I just couldn’t make the body go any faster.  It was a struggle to stay motivated and not just go into cruise mode, but anytime I started feeling like I wanted to give up, or was feeling sorry for myself, I would turn my thoughts to Khit or Isa and how they would just LOVE to be in my place, (they are both runners, Isa has just bought a road bike so that she can stay active in spite of her low energy levels due to the chemo treatments and Khit has started doing Triathlons in the last couple of years too) and I was able to just keep the legs turning over, dig a little deeper and push to what I think were the very edge of my limits.

I was fortunate enough to have my wife and daughter, one of my oldest friends and my run and bike coach out on the course cheering and taking pictures their cheers also helped me to be able to find new energy and my smile (hey the camera captures everything!)

I came close to throwing up twice on the bike and twice during the 5K, so I'm pretty sure I was going as fast as I could on the day.  I managed to PB in the 10K run, PB on the 40K bike and then struggled through the final 5K.  I have no regrets! 

If you ever have the chance to compete at a World Championship as part of Team Canada, no matter how you get on the Team, I highly recommend it.  I met some incredible athletes from Canada and around the world and the experience was amazing!