THE MANY FACETS OF RUNNING

06.27.2016
Chris Morales at the Reggae Marathon Finish

That Runnin Guy – Reggae Marathon Finish 2009

This piece was inspired by my friend Chris Morales, aka ThatRunnin’ Guy, aka Sugar “Tuff Gong” Bong (the official blogger for one of my very favourite races, the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K in Negril, JA. In case, you are wondering, that strange name is his Reggae Name. Mine is Doctor One Drop Dread.  Never mind. It doesn’t matter!

It is kind of funny how one little comment can trigger an idea. In response to an exchange we were having on the “Personal Message” feature of Facebook, Chris said something like: “Boy, you really are a planner!” DING!!!!  That was all it took to inspire what follows. Mostly, it is about me and my perspective on things, but as usual it also goes farther.

Bob's Border Busters - Hood to Coast (1987)

Bob’s Border Busters – Hood to Coast (1987)

Somewhere after that comment and a detailed discussion on my part of how much you need to plan if you want to put a team into the Hood to Coast Relay (another favourite event), I may have mentioned that at my age, the planning is starting to almost be more fun than the running. Where it comes to Hood to Coast, many of my team members keep thanking me for all the work I do as team captain. That is much appreciated, but the truth is I love the detail and intricacies of putting the team together and getting the right people on the right legs while planning all the logistics before, during and after. Oh, there was a time when I could consider myself a strong contributor to the actual running effort, but that was a while back now. This August will be my NINTH Hood to Coast. Could have been a much larger number, but it is no longer easy to get in, and just as an example, this entry was a ‘third time lucky’ success. Of the nine teams, I guess I have been the outright captain of five and co-captain of one other. It is no secret to veteran Hood to Coasters that planning is the key to success, whether success is defined by having a really good race or just having a whole lot of fun.

Anyway, that is how this whole thing started. It reminded me of all the different things that can be involved with regard to ‘running’.

Running the forest trails. Early morning. Friends. Just running.

Running the forest trails. Early morning. Friends. Just running.

Facet #1: Running is running. Running is good. So, right there is the first ‘facet’ from the title. I guess if you don’t enjoy running you just aren’t likely to get much into anything else that follows. I know people who started running, but have never raced and I know people who have gone from being active, even elite, competitors who no longer race, but just run for the shear joy and pleasure of it.

Facet #2: Running is NOT necessarily racing. As hard as that is to believe, it is nonetheless true! There is no doubt it is a short leap from just running for fun and health and whatever, to trying out that first race, which may also be ‘just for fun’. Nothing wrong with it stopping there, or not even getting that far. Just do it because it feels good and is good for you.

Facet #3: Racing is challenging and fun. The first point is certainly true, but if the second is not, then it may be best to revert to ‘Facet #2′. The challenges of racing are many and varied. You can run to win outright, or your age group or just to beat your former self, and so many other things too. Like so many other things of this nature, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. At my age, I kind of feel like I’m winning just be being out there. Sometimes I win my age group now, but sometimes that amounts to be ‘first out of one’, and that is when I invoke the idea that being out there is winning!

Double Agent two-fer on Maniacs/Fanatics group membership. (Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

Double Agent two-fer on Maniacs/Fanatics group membership.
(Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

Facet #4: Running is a social activity. This is true on so many levels from having one or two running partners/buddies to being a member of an organized local club, or a member of a more ‘virtual community’ such as Marathon Maniacs or Half Fanatics. The latter are real things with real people and those people self identify and congregate at races, but seldom do we members really know one-another, other than through social media exchanges or club news letters. Most Maniacs and Fanatics do know a few of the other members, in some cases quite well, but largely with both groups hitting just around 14,000 members, the association is more notional in nature. It is no less fun though.

I’ve also talked a good many times of the family running exploits involving me, my wife, the three kids and now our grandson. The Hood to Coast and other relay groups I’ve been part of may be about racing but are also social, top to bottom.

Facet #5: Racing can be enlightening. I started out thinking about how I (and many others) travel to run/race. But then I realized that in seeing different people and places, not to mention perspectives, you achieve one kind of enlightenment. However, the various achievements, from just learning you can do it through pushing yourself to performances you would never have imagined, running can open the mind and personal perspectives of almost everyone. The examples are almost limitless because this aspect is very personal.

Terry Fox - 'Mile Zero' at Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC

Terry Fox – ‘Mile Zero’ at Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC

Facet #6: Racing can benefit others. Yep, those charity runs do some amazing things. Sometimes it will be a personal pledge/challenge to raise a certain amount for a particular cause (as related to your actual entry such as for events like the Boston Marathon) or sometimes just supporting a particular event because it contributes to something worthy and special (Terry Fox Runs). Some people just dedicate their effort to supporting a friend’s struggle (no money involved).

Facet #7: Runners  support running/racing. By this, I mean that even though we may run for our own fun and challenges, we can also volunteer to serve and support others. The Running in the Zone book was divided not into chapters, but rather ‘zones’. One of those was “The Contribution Zone“. Whether you ‘just’ help at packet pick-up or at a water station or take on being race director for an event, those things enable everyone else to do what they do. Some other examples include officiating or becoming certified course measurers. There is so much that underlies our racing and there are people who must do those things. They don’t just happen. We can all take our turn at being a volunteer in some capacity. It is rewarding and sure gives perspective for when we race ourselves.

While my own Hood to Coast organizing activities are ultimately about the running, the administrative planning and organization probably fall here. I mean, that being the inspiration for this whole post, it had to come into the discussion somewhere!

Roger Robinson and Kathrine Switzer - Yakima River Canyon Marathon

Roger Robinson and Kathrine Switzer – Yakima River Canyon Marathon

Facet #8: Running produces heroes! Of course it does. Pre, Mo, Meb. Bet I don’t need to expand on those three names for runners who follow this blog. It goes beyond the performances of people like Paula Radcliffe and Usain Bolt who thrill us with feats almost beyond our imagining. We also have the people like Kathrine Switzer who work over decades to advance things like the place of women in running. It was really not THAT long ago that women were highly restricted in what they could run. Although Kathrine was the most notorious woman to break the Boston Marathon barrier, she really wasn’t the first, but she was the one who took it to a different level. The first women’s Olympic Marathon was run only 32 years ago (1984), and that took a lot of activism from none other than our Kathrine Switzer. While Roger Robinson was a terrific runner in his own right winning many masters marathon titles and setting records, some of which still exist, he and Russell (his bionic knee) are setting new standards of running excellence because, for Roger and many others, running is just that important!

Team Joshua in action!

Team Joshua in action!

But, there are other heroic figures in running. Some get a bit of news, but many just truck along doing what they do, but boy do they do it. A local team of heroic racers is embodied in Team Joshua. Josh has a complex affliction that severely limits him but his mother Michelle realized some years ago that he was very happy when she would run with him in a jogger. As he got older, the jogger had to get bigger and she had to get stronger, because as a teen, Josh is no lightweight, but they press on, setting targets and achieving them. What about the people like Ed Whitlock or BJ McHugh that push those upper levels of seniors running? They aren’t just amazing because they are still running, but rather because they excel.

I could go on, but the point of talking about these heroes in our sport is not their specific achievements but rather the inspiration they bring to all of us.

BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh at the First Half Half Marathon

BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh at the First Half Half Marathon

Facet #9: Running is for life. Well, for as much of life as you want it to be, barring personal standards and good health. Running is whatever you consider it to be. I enjoy running as such, but still like to compete. Compete? With who? Well, at this point, mostly myself. Long ago, my raw times started falling off, never to be seen again. That was when I embraced age grading! My competitive challenge is to try to maintain my standard of performance as given under the age-graded outcomes. I used to look at the adjusted times (and still do), but have almost moved over more to the % Performance statistic. Of course, any given race can be impacted by a wide range of factors, but I usually compare my annual PBs against previous years and maybe more significantly have started doing 5-year PB stats, simply because in any given year I may only run one race of a certain distance and that may be a fabulous result or could be marred by weather, a hard course, or who knows what else.

Facet #10: Friends. Oh sure, there are lots of ways to make friends that have nothing to do with running and not every runner you will ever meet is going to be your friend. That said there are a bunch of interesting things about ‘running friends’. On a very superficial level, the common interest or bond of running means people will start talking as if they’ve known each other for years. Running is maybe some kind of unspoken introduction made by a good and trusted friend. “Well, if Running likes you, you must be OK!”

Me with Carey Nelson (2X Olympian) Ellie Greenwood (2X World 100K Champ, Comrades winner and Western States winner X2) (photo: P Cheung)

Me with Carey Nelson (2X Olympian) Ellie Greenwood (2X World 100K Champ, Comrades winner and Western States winner X2) (photo: P Cheung)

Another facet is the wide range of people you can meet. I have to be careful here because everyone will be different, but because I have involved myself at a number of levels of running from actually doing it, to organizing it (race director stuff and all that) to writing about it and even doing announcing, I have met a lot of people that range from the famous to just regular folk (where I classify myself). Because I like to combine travel with my running, I have also had a chance to meet people from all over the world, most of them just like me. I have been privileged to know Olympians, at least partly through editing Running in the Zone, but also because of the running communities of which I am a part and some of the people I know, who know people, etc. I’m not saying every one of these people I’ve met have become friends, but some have.

There are so many people I could talk about, but I could probably write a whole blog about each one, so that isn’t going to work too well. I guess what I will do, which may illustrate several parts of this ‘running friends’ idea, is to talk about the same guy I opened this post with, Chris Morales. Now, it is only partly about Chris and me as friends because there are two others that must come into this story. Actually, there are probably several, but it kind of started with us four.

Four Amigos after RM2015 showing 22 total races (fingers up) with That Runnin' Guy second from the right.

Four Amigos after RM2015 showing 22 total races (fingers up) with That Runnin’ Guy second from the right.

We met through the Reggae Marathon. Actually, as the blogger, Chris had been reaching out to various people through the event blog and one way or another the three others of us, were drawn in by Chris. I had quite an interaction going long before I ever set foot on the white sand beaches of Negril (which, by the way, was where Chris and I actually met face to face). The other two are Larry Savitch and Navin Sadarangani. The first time we all actually met was at the 2010 running of the Reggae Marathon. Since then, we meet up each year in early December in Negril for a run in the sun not to mention a little fun. OK, a lot of fun. There have been a number of Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenges. The first happened because Chris, Larry and I were all running a half marathon on the exact same day: in New Jersey, Toronto and Vancouver. We set up a bunch of rules (OK, I set the rules) and Chris even got a friend to make us handcrafted medals, and from a major Reggae Marathon sponsor, a first prize of a pair of PUMA running shoes to the winner. Every year in Negril we continue the racing challenge but have added several more regular participants. We all run whatever distance of the three on offer, then everyone gets age graded and adjusted to the common distance of the half marathon. It is all for fun, but boy does it produce some trash-talk on social media when we can’t be there to do it face to face. Funny enough, I just realized, there is relatively little trash-talk when we ARE face to face! For several years now the Four Amigos have a goup photo taken, each of us holding up the number of fingers representing the times we have run the Reggae Marathon. When we gather in Negril on December 3, 2016 we will be collectively showing 26 fingers.

I said that you meet people from all over. This group is quite the package. Chris is Canadian and from Toronto, but he was born in and only left Jamaica in his mid-teens. Of course, I too am Canadian but from the West Coast while Navin is of Indian heritage, he also lives in Canada (at present, being a true citizen of the world). Larry is from the East Coast and American (lives in New York State). We are of a wide range of ethinic, religious and racial heritage and that one thing of running drew us together so we could become friends. Running no longer keeps us together, even if it creates some opportunities for us to see each other. Nope, in this instance running was just the catalyst for something a lot deeper and more meaningful.

So there you have it. I didn’t set out to make it 10 points, but that did seem to work out both naturally and quite well. It also feels quite appropriate to finish on the matter of friends we make. There may well come a day, and in my case it could be sooner than later, when we aren’t really able to run. However, I doubt very much that when the running ends, the friendships made, will end with it.  I doubt it very much!

A TALE OF TWO RACES

05.27.2016
  Sandcastle City Classic 5K

Sandcastle City Classic 5K

This might be a form of ‘true confessions’. Stay tuned for the juicy stuff!

Giant's Head 5.4K

Giant’s Head 5.4K

The two races are both 5K’ish and on the same weekend and about 400km apart. One happens Saturday at 6:00pm and the other, Sunday at 8:30am. Can’t do both. That is the true confession. I’m on the organizing committee for the Sandcastle City Classic 5K, being held in White Rock on June 5th. As I’ve already shared here, while the Sandcastle race isn’t new, the 5K distance is and should make this a great event from so many different perspectives. But! I won’t be running it myself and won’t even be there. Full disclosure to all the running friends I’ve been promoting to go give this new distance a try.

No, I will be in Summerland, up there in the Okanagan, where we lived for so many years and where I started running. I will be running the Giant’s Head 5.4K on Saturday night, June 4th, with my grandson Charlie. The Giants Head Run (GHR for short) is the race that is 5K’ish in length. I actually don’t know the story of how it got to be 5.4K. While memories are a bit hazy, I think it may have been the very first race I ran as an adult runner (I ran in school). There was a 5K and a 10K, but nobody had Garmins or other gps devices and likely someone drove the route with a car and determined it was about a 5K. By my hazy recollection, I don’t think the route has changed. It has always been more about the fun than serious competition, so who really cares, right? I guess in later years they realized it was actually 5.4K, measured it and made the distance clear. It actually isn’t an easy course, so adding a 400m bonus would tend to leave someone like me wondering how you could be so slow! Well, now we know, and I also know that I, for one, feel better for it.

Post Race Awards and Prize Giving at West Beach

Post Race Awards and Prize Giving at West Beach

The main reason there is no question in my mind that Summerland and the GHR is where I need to be is that family running has always been important to me. More on that in a minute. BUT, for all you Lower Mainland folks, I highly recommend the ALL NEW SANDCASTLE CITY CLASSIC 5K. I did use the Lower Mainland designation because the Sandcastle 5K is a part of the Lower Mainland Road Race Series (LMRRS) and is Race #6. This is a popular series and we are confident that the move from the long-standing Sandcastle Classic 10K format is going to make this race one of the more popular ‘fixtures’ in the schedule. The course is right along the beach-front and if the weather cooperates, the ‘out’ leg should provide some amazing views of Mount Baker and the water.

Mount Baker over White Rock Beach

Mount Baker over White Rock Beach

You will be running right past the great restaurants on the Marine Drive strip and even though the Semiahmoo Sunrunners and Walkers will be putting on a great post-race spread, you may want to hang around for your own brunch/lunch sampling of those restaurants, or just to explore the promenade and the beach itself. As long as you leave before noon (or at least pay up) the parking will be free near the race start/finish at the far end of West Beach. As long as the weather is dry, you are even going to have live music (apparently, the band isn’t thrilled to be hooked up to amps and things when it is raining). Come on out and enjoy the fun. At 5K, it also fits as a fun/family race and if you keep a brisk walking pace you can probably finish before the permitted race time. So, competitive runners can bring along the younger ones or walkers who can also join in the fun. All of which makes a nice lead for the following.

Judi and me at Big Cottonwood Package Pickup.

Judi and me at Big Cottonwood Package Pickup.

Now then, what is this family running thing? Well, as noted, I started running while we lived in Summerland. It is how/where I met Steve King. We ran in the same club in those days and were on some relay teams together. That was the time when both our daughters began running and we did a few of those local races together. For a brief while, wife Judi ran a few races too, although later she has taken to really long distance walking like the Camino, and from time to time up to a half marathon when the events allow enough time for power walkers to complete the race. While our son was a bit young for running the main races, he did start with events like “Man of Steel” in Summerland (kids triathlon), a part of the same Summerland Action Festival that offers the Giant’s Head Runs.

Half Dad's Age Half Marathon Challenge

Half Dad’s Age Half Marathon Challenge L-R: Danielle, Dan, Janna, Cam

By accident, I ran the Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon with our oldest, Danielle. The accident part was that it was her birthday, which drew my attention to the fact that I had run a half marathon with her when she was half my age. I was 56 and she was 28. From then on I was on a mission to run a half with each kid when she/he was half my age. It took another 10 years to complete our project, when I was 66 and our third child and first-born son was 33. That was pretty tough for him. Although we did run some races together during our sojourn in Brussels, Belgium, Cam has only run shorter races and never really caught the racing bug like his sisters. He was very brave to prepare for and make it through that half marathon with me!

Danielle and Janna and I have run a whole bunch of races together, particularly the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon races, Vancouver Marathon races and then a few odd ones like Ottawa (Danielle) and a race in Manitoba (Janna) a couple of years back. Although a wee bit less frequent, I’ve also run in events with both of our sons-in-law. So, you can surely see how this family runs together.

Last year, it was a total thrill for me to be able to run my first race with Danielle’s (and Greg’s) son, and our grandson, Charlie. I wrote about it, and if you want to recall what it was all about, you can just check it out HERE. Now, we are about to run our ‘second annual’ GHR. I think I am only slightly less excited than I was the first time! As much as anything, it is that Charlie actually wants to run with ME! He will be 10 in July.

Charlie celebrates running into new territory (distance)!

Charlie celebrates running into new territory (distance)!

Here is another true confession. I want to run with him this one more time when the old guy is still likely to be more or less evenly matched! Last year, I paced myself to run with Charlie. This year, I’m thinking we may be fairly even with nobody adjusting to the other guy. By next year, if we run together, I’m thinking HE will be waiting for me. Well, that is fine. It is the nature of such things. We are both getting older. In his case it is an advantage. In my case, not so much! He is getting faster and I am getting slower, but this is where I go to my fall-back – ‘at least I’m still doing it’.

We are hoping for another big family running get-together in October in Victoria when both the girls and their families will be there, and Cam has to be there, ’cause he lives there. There is another grandson now, Jonah, but he is pretty young, so I’m not sure about ever running with him. We thought maybe a jogging stroller was the answer, but at least for this race, Victoria has a no stroller policy, so it won’t be this time. We are still sorting out who intends to run and what distance. I know Danielle is signed up for the Half and Charlie and I are signed up for the 8K, his next move up in distance. “Uncle Cam” says he is game for the 8K but he hasn’t registered…… yet. We have quite a few marathons among us, something in the neighbourhood of 35 in total, but I don’t think anyone is aiming for a full marathon this time. I guess we will spread ourselves around between the Half and 8K. It should be fun, and boy will there be a LOT of finisher medal bling and race shirts!! Charlie will get to do his first Victoria Marathon Weekend post-race brunch — as a competitor!

So, sorry Sandcastle Team. Hope you understand. I’m trying to do my bit pre-race. I’ll be thinking of you, but my heart (and the rest of me) will be in Summerland, at the Giant’s Head Run!

TWO WEEKS, TWO GREAT RACES

05.15.2016
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Preview of things to come! The gates of Hayward Field.

One of these is no surprise, considering this was my fifth time running it out of the 10 times it has been held. The other maybe shouldn’t have been a surprise since I’ve run a ‘sister’ race (‘brother’? – do races come in genders?) by the same organizer.

First up was the Eugene Half Marathon on May 1. It more than lived up to its reputation and my expectations. Probably met or exceeded expectations for several other Forerunners folk with four BQ’s out of six entrants in the full marathon! Yep, it is that kind of course.

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Blogger and wife at Pre’s Rock. Still a moving experience.

Being a Race Ambassador (yes, I was, but then you knew that) I got to Eugene early and did a couple of Ambassadorial stints at the Expo. But, before the first session my wife Judi and I made the almost obligatory pilgrimage to Pre’s Rock, and then walked the other side of the Willamette River where you can follow what they call “Pre’s Trail”. This was apparently an area he ran for longer training runs.

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Pre’s Trail meanders through much of the last 3 miles of the Eugene Half.

Before the racing even began (Saturday morning to be precise) I had a chance for a quiet coffee with Running in the Zone contributor and running writer extraordinaire, Joe Henderson. We covered more topics in an hour than you would ever imagine. Some of those topics may turn into later posts. For now, I just want to say it was great to be able to touch base. We met up again at the finish, where Joe was awaiting the arrival of the members of “Joe’s Team”. He even had a photographer there, one Mike Lebowitz, who just happens to have lived in and around Vancouver for something like 30 years. The picture here, is his work!

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Joe Henderson greeted this old blogger/slogger at the finish. (Photo: Mike Lebowitz)

Well, that kind of skipped over the whole race thing, so I suppose I better step back a little and cover that. Since I don’t do ‘in competition’ photography, I snapped a picture of the fabled gates to Hayward Field while on my way to the Expo on Friday. Just seeing those gates gave me a few chills and excitement for what was to come. Sunday morning dawned bright and cool, perfect conditions for running. A kindly ‘random stranger’ snapped a photo of Judi and me pre-race. It is wonderful to have a personal support team!

Almost ready. And, toasty warm.

Almost ready. And, toasty warm.

Soon enough we were off and since the full and half use the same course up to about 10 miles and a bit, and have done so as long as I’ve been running this race, there were no particular surprises. I tried to get into the pace I wanted and then just let myself enjoy the morning, the place where I was and what I was doing. It didn’t seem like a really long time before we were passing by Hayward Field again (just around 9 miles). Excellent.

Now, nobody really needs to know that getting older means I have a lot of trouble getting all the way through a long race without a ‘comfort stop’, but that is how it often is and was this time. The main reason for mentioning it is that even that worked out well. Once I knew I just wasn’t going to be able to press on to the finish, the next set of Porto-Potties was a ‘no waiting’ set and I was able to run right into the first one in line. I am totally OK with the time cost of this necessity, but I really HATE having to wait the extra time for others in the same situation. That always hurts. So, a minimal time was required before I was on my way again.

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Near 10 Miles. The Beginning of the End!

Between 9 and 10 miles there is a slightly challenging bit of running which is probably only challenging because it IS between 9 and 10 miles (15-16km). At 10 miles the route leaves the road and goes onto walking/biking paths and heads down toward the Willamette and the bridge across, where once on the other side, the marathoners go one way and the half marathoners go the other and really start the drive for home, with something less than 3 miles or 5K remaining.

Ran the race. Got the T-Shirt. Got the Medal!

Ran the race. Got the T-Shirt. Got the Medal!

All that said, it started to get ‘demanding’ shall we say. In reviewing my Garmin stats, it looks like I did pretty well up to around 14km before my pace started to drop off. Nothing drastic, but what up to that point had been around what I wanted, what followed got markedly slower. Still, I finished a race I love and nothing beats the feel of heading down the straight-away of Hayward Field, past cheering fans (fans of running, because with just one exception, none of them knew me). Then it was done. On to the post-race and some hard-earned refreshment. No lingering allowed though, as we had to push on to the next race in Las Vegas, NV.

In truth, the hurry was to get a shower before leaving and then get away early enough for an easy drive to our overnight location in Northern California.

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Gratuitous tourism photo of the Grand Canyon (South Rim), AZ.

Monday, we drove the rest of the way to arrive at our destination and ‘home’ for the week to come. We pretty much did the tourist thing for the next several days, including a trip to see the Grand Canyon. First time for both of us. Words hardly describe it, as anyone who has visited will know. As a runner, I couldn’t help thinking about a few crazy friends (you know who you are) that think what you should do at a place like this is run – a little adventure known as Rim to Rim to Rim. Uh-huh, run down and across the river and up and down and back up. I couldn’t believe it as I gazed down into that huge chasm. Maybe there needs to be a post on this and other crazy undertakings like the Badwater 135!

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Package pick-up for Revel Mt. Charleston Half Marathon. Wearing my Eugene Marathon volunteer shirt!

The weather was great, but for the weekend they were calling for much cooler temps and maybe a shower or two. The race to be run was the Revel Mount Charleston Marathon (and Half). It is the fourth and newest race in the Revel Series. If you don’t know about Revel races, they all have one major characteristic – down-ness, a LOT of down-ness. This one drops about 5,000ft over the full marathon distance and is a fairly smooth profile with just a couple of bumps that may almost be a relief. The half is slightly less steep than the upper part of the full marathon, but still nicely down.

Friday, we headed for the Expo, ready for the Saturday race. Early start! Because there is seldom room where these races start, you go to the Finish and get a bus to the starting area. Because of the logistics it requires an early arrival at the Finish area to catch your bus. Because Vegas can be pretty hot, the start was scheduled for 6:30am. You do the math. It was an early wake-up!

Nicely started! (Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

Nicely started!
(Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

I’m told there were a few flakes of snow at the top of the marathon course, nothing sticking, just floating down. Well, they were at something like 7600 ft. We half marathoners were much lower down, but even still were over 4500 ft. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t quite as cold as we thought it might be. By the start, when we had to strip down to what we planned to wear for racing, I felt OK in shorts, singlet and arm warmers. Once we got going it was near perfect.

So, I’m not going to describe every step, even if this was a brand new race. The grade was smooth and almost totally down, at least through the first half of the route. After that it flattened a bit and there were a couple of very modest up-grades. The only ‘hill’ was the rise over a major highway we had to cross, then it  was down again to the finish. By the time I finished it was sunny and getting warm.

Double Agent rockin' the Finish!  (Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

Double Agent rockin’ the Finish!
(Photo: Courtesy of Revel)

As I approached the finish line, I could see the numbers on the clock and knew I was going to finish in a very satisfying time that would prove to be the best I’d done in about two years. With age grading it might even be a bit longer than that.

Revel does good 'bling'! Slept with my gold medal the first night.

Revel does good ‘bling’! Slept with my gold medal the first night.

What I didn’t know was that I was finishing FIRST in my age group. I thought I had spotted a ‘competitor’ early in the race and he left me behind. Obviously, he wasn’t. When I went to get my official result I learned the fabulous news and was sent immediately to collect my gold medal. Revel does a great job of race bling and the inaugural medal and shirt certainly lived up to their normal standard and maybe then some (Big Cottonwood Marathon, in Utah, is a race I’ve run twice, so I have some familiarity with Revel races).

I have been having great sport noting that since this was the first running of the event, coming first also makes me the age-group record holder. That’s right! I HOLD A RECORD! I anticipate it will last about 365 days, but for now, I’m the man. Love it.

I had knocked some 14 minutes off my Eugene time, which was kind of in line with other recent half marathon times. So, my 2:17:23 had me feeling pretty good. Oh, and since you ask, there was another comfort stop of just over a minute, so run time was that much better and while the official time doesn’t change by a second (nor should it), on a personal satisfaction level, this race was fabulous for me.

On the Vegas Strip. Jersey Boys, playing at Paris.

On the Vegas Strip. Jersey Boys, playing at Paris.

We celebrated the race, by going to bed early! (Well, I did anyway. Hey! I was up at 3:00am!) We did manage to take in a couple of shows while in Vegas, one being “Menopause” and the second, on Sunday was “Jersey Boys”. Oh, and since Sunday was also Mother’s Day, we had a really nice late lunch/early dinner before the show.

Monday, it was back on the road and two and a half days later, we arrived home after a very successful vacation and running road trip.

For the runners reading this, I highly recommend both of these races if you haven’t done them.

LIFE IS GETTING BUSY THE NEXT WHILE

04.26.2016

logoRunning life, that is. The rest of it has already been TOO busy of late. Have you missed me???

First up is a race favourite, the Eugene Marathon (and in my case, Half). I was selected to be a Race Ambassador for this event so will be doing duty at the Expo on Friday (middle of the day) and Saturday (late afternoon). If you are there, come by Soles for Souls and say hello.

Marathon Start - Eugene 2010

Marathon Start – Eugene 2010

I have run most of the Eugene Half Marathon four times on my feet and uncounted times in my mind. I’ve run the marathon three times and the half once, with this Sunday to be the second time for the half marathon. That is a total of five appearances out of the 10 years this race has been happening. I put it this way because pretty much the first 10 miles of the half and full marathons use the same route. Just past that point the courses split. The first time, maybe the second as well, the marathoners used to stay on the road to Springfield while the half marathoners dodged down a path and across the Willamette River. Now everyone crosses the river before the routes split. So much nicer, I think.

As soon as the Half Marathon turns down river, you will find yourself running beside, or on, or crossing over “Pre’s Trail”. Yep. That Pre. It was the area he went to do long runs. The nice thing about the split too, is that you only have three (3) miles to go (5K for us Canucks).  Hey! What???? Why do Canadians have to run 5K? Because we’re special, I guess.

Hayward Field - The Finish is Nigh (Photo Eugene Marathon)

Hayward Field – The Finish is Nigh (Photo Eugene Marathon)

Speaking of ‘special’ though, when you hit the end of that 3 mile finish segment everyone gets to be truly special. The feeling of turning off Agate Street and through the gates of Hayward Field is pure magic. You enter the track just about where the 200m start area would be and then you round the bend for the finish down the straight-away. This will be my fifth time and I expect the tingle up my spine will be no less than the first time in 2010 when I finished what turned out to be my recent marathon PB. Yep, third best raw time ever and second best age graded. Hmmm, maybe that is partly why I like this race so much. Partly, but far from the only reason. This is a special event for anyone who loves a great course and a legendary running experience. I know that I, like everyone else on May 1, will be “Running in the Footsteps of Legends”.

I won’t be spending much time savouring the moment though. More work to be done! As soon as there is a little recovery time at the post-race festivities, it will be into the car and off in the direction of Las Vegas! Las Vegas? Nevada? Indeed.

Running Down Big Cottonwood Canyon - My most recent marathon.

Running Down Big Cottonwood Canyon 2014 (Photo Revel Race Series)

The timing is either really good or really bad, depending on how you look at it. The Revel Race Series folk decided to start up a brand new marathon/half marathon race just to the north-west of Las Vegas. It is the Revel Mount Charleston Marathon. While Eugene may be one of my favourite races, the Revel series are my favourite KIND of marathon or half. I found out about Revel races via another Marathon Maniac and tried out my first one a couple of years ago: the Big Cottonwood Marathon near Salt Lake City. Revel specializes in running down hill, Big Time. The marathon courses typically drop plus or minus 5,000 feet! Now some would look at this as seriously crazy and knee busting. I, on the other hand, through no fault or cleverness of my own making, seem to be able to run down hills very nicely, thank you very much. I just seem to have a stride or gait or something that works on hills. My fastest ever race was Leg #1 of the Hood to Coast Relay which drops 2000 feet over just under six miles. I may actually be running that baby again come August. We are in for 2016 and I have to run something! Why not Leg #1??

Eugene -Passing Hayward Field. First time. Can't stop yet!

Eugene -Passing Hayward Field. First time. Can’t stop yet!

I’d love to say something about the Mount Charleston race, but since this is the first running, there isn’t much history. OK, no history. However, the Revel series does have a history and they put on a good event. I am much looking forward to this race come May 7. Yes, just six days after Eugene. That is where the good/bad timing comes in. Considering that it can be done in one longish driving trip is the ‘good’ part. Racing two half marathons you want to do well in, just six days apart, is not recommended as I vaguely recall. Decisions must be made.

Right now, I’m thinking strong and steady for Eugene with lots of recovery and care, then give ‘er at Mount Charleston. Because of scale, course profiles are often deceptive with some surprising little ‘ups’ where it looks all down and steeper sections where the downhill looks smooth and even. All that said, the profile tells us this is about a 3% down-grade. A bit steeper up the canyon and a little less so on the town roads, but still always heading down. It should not be terribly punishing and run well could produce a pleasing time for this old codger. You never want to assume that running a downhill course is like having roller-skates on. You still have to run, but gravity will help. It certainly won’t hinder!

Running in the cool high country above the desert will be fun. The race starts early, so hopefully by the time I can finish a half marathon, it still won’t be too hot. Later in the day, the temperatures are going to be getting up there. Even if I have a terrible race, I’d expect to be finished by 9:00am. Heat shouldn’t be a big factor. Hey! Remember me? I’m the guy who loves the Reggae Marathon where you get warm temps and just a wee tad bit of humidity to spice it up.

Gratuitous photo from the Inaugural Boston 5K

Gratuitous photo from the Inaugural Boston 5K

It isn’t that often, if you think about it, that you get to be part of the inaugural event for anything. This will be one for me. I’ve had a few over the years, but when you think of how long I’ve been running, it really isn’t that many. For me, this is going to be a big one. Without straining something (my brain) it seems like this is about the fourth such event. One that really stands out for me was the very first Boston Marathon 5K which started in 2009. Our daughter was running the Marathon and asked me to come be her support team. It was a thrill to be there for her, and to take advantage of the very first BAA 5K run on Sunday morning. They let us ‘borrow’ the official finish line. Probably the only way I will ever get to cross THAT line!

So, that’s it for pre-race speculation. I am very much looking forward to both of these races. You (if you wish) can look forward to the post-race accounts. You know they will be coming!

THE ALL NEW AND IMPROVED WHITE ROCK SANDCASTLE CLASSIC 5K

03.30.2016

       The Sandcastle Classic 10K was a perennial feature of the Lower Mainland running scene. The race itself, in one form or another, has been around since 1983, or coming up on  34 years. It has been hosted from the start by the Semiahmoo Sunrunners and Walkers. Over the years the course has changed a bit (OK a LOT in the last couple of years). But, that is life. Part of the recent change has been to move from starting in South Surrey and finishing on the West End of the White Rock Beach, to running the entire course within the confines of the City of White Rock.

Change continues and we (I am a Sunrunner) believe the latest change is going to please a lot of people.

The 10K is dead!   Long live the 5K!

Anyone who knows anything, knows that White Rock is actually VERY small in terms of its physical footprint. Those same ‘know-it-alls’ will also be well aware that there is a whole lot of up and down in White Rock, steep up and down. Finding a 10K route without any of said ‘up and down’ is near impossible.

Over the hump and turn-around already in sight (and Mount Baker, too!)

Over the hump and turn-around already in sight (and Mount Baker, too!)

HOWEVER, the Sandcastle 5K Route, out and back along the beach only involves a couple of modestly significant bumps and a gorgeous view of Boundary Bay from end to end. The new course runs the length of Marine Drive from West Beach to East Beach and back, finishing where it starts.

Organizers are super excited about this change and are pretty sure the running community is going to be too. The price is a bargain at $23 including BC Athletics fee and just $20 if you are a competitive member of BC Athletics. The change has been in the works for a little while, but announcements had to await City approval and we are all thrilled that White Rock has embraced the race and given the permit needed to run Marine Drive. If you like water views and funky restaurants and shops,  you are going to LOVE this race! Even though there will be plenty of post-race refreshment, you may want to plan a brunch along the beach before returning home. You’ll be glad you did!

I caught up with the all new Race Director, John Makepeace. Here is what he had to say: “We are excited to offer what we expect will become one of the most popular events in the LMRRS roster! A Sunday morning run along the White Rock beach front just has to be a great way to start the day.”

So, when does all this happen?  June 5, 2016!  That’s when.

You will want to check out the other details at the Sandcastle Classic 5K web site. Registration is open now.

Historically, the Sandcastle Classic races have drawn some top level athletes and a lot of others who just know a good thing when they see it!  The 10K event records (as far as I can determine) are:

Men: 29:34  Warren Barker (1995)

Women: 33:02 Nancy Tinari (2003)

Notable participants include: Carey Nelson, Leah Pells, Jim Finlayson, Nancy Tinari, Tina Connelly, Oliver Utting and probably a number of others from the earliest days, the results of which are still in a dusty old file box somewhere. Man, it was so easy to check the more recent electronically timed races!

But, as one of our race committee pointed out, there are no records for the Sandcastle Classic 5K!  Those 10K records are all water under the White Rock Pier!  That is right. There are going to be a whole bunch of NEW records set on June 5th!  Overall for men and women. Masters, and every age group will have a new record!  Now if that doesn’t get your competitive juices flowing, probably nothing will!

Post Race Awards and Prize Giving at West Beach

Post Race Awards and Prize Giving at West Beach

This is going to be a family-friendly event, even if it is Race #6 in the Lower Mainland Road Race Series. The course will be open long enough for most people to walk the 5K distance as long as there aren’t too many stops to take in the awesome view or snap ‘selfies’. (Remember, as much as those restaurants have great offerings, they will be open all day, so no stopping along the way for a bite!)

Post-race crowd enjoys awards ceremonies.

Post-race crowd enjoys awards ceremonies.

We expect this to be a competitive challenge for those so inclined, but also expect to appeal to a lot of people who just enjoy running, run/walking or even walking great courses and supporting local events put on by local people.

Even coming from downtown Vancouver, it is an easy Sunday drive, and while in the interest of green-ness, you may want to car-pool a bit, you can enjoy free parking until noon in the lots near the Start-Finish. The race starts at 8:30am with package pick-up and even race day entry from 7:00am to 8:15am.

And don’t forget in these days of Social Media, you can find the Sandcastle Classic 5K at:

Facebook: Sandcastle Classic 5K

Twitter: @Sandcastle5K

And of course at the Lower Mainland Road Race web page as well as the Sunrunner web page.

 

RUNNING IN THE ZONE IS A BLOG AND A BOOK

03.11.2016

Although it may be obvious to some, and I do mention it from time to time, this Blog is based on the book: Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes.

Steve King and I put a lot of work into developing the concept and then finding the 24 other contributors who provided the content, along with the two of us. It was an amazing labour of love and we were, and are, very grateful to all those who provided their perspective on what it means to be a seasoned athlete. Steve and I are co-Editors but we also wrote more than just our own particular essays on the general topic.

About Half of the Contributors, Victoria, BC at the official launch.

About Half of the Contributors, Victoria, BC at the official launch.

The 26 contributors range from avid runners like myself through Olympians and World Record holders, and everything in between. There are Marathon Maniacs, ultra-runners, marathoners, middle distance runners and sprinters, on road, track and trail. There are professional writers and those who may never write this sort of thing. That was where the editing skills came in. For the most part, I assisted contributors to get their contributions whipped into shape while trying very hard to keep their personal voices very much in the writing. Steve, as you might imagine was the guy who knew everybody and brought a large proportion of the contributors to the table.

Cover Layout (design by Danielle Krysa) including book reviews.

Cover Layout (design by Danielle Krysa) including book reviews.

For me, it was an amazing experience getting to know these people and working with them to polish up their contributions. We only had a few ‘rules’. For the most part, we just said keep it within a range of total words and keep the topic to running as the years roll on. We wanted various perspectives on how people kept their running fresh and fun, but otherwise there weren’t a lot of directives. For what it is worth, I more or less try to follow the book format with my blog posts, with respect to both length and general content.

It was such a pleasure and even a bit of a revelation to see how many approaches there were to running once one is in the ‘seasoned’ category. At one point we had our own idea of what ‘seasoned’ was (age-wise) but eventually, let people bring their own definition. Let’s face it, for elite athletes, Masters territory generally falls under the heading of ‘seasoned’. As it happened, the youngest writers for our book were 46 at time of writing. I have since met some remarkable senior runners who hadn’t even started running at the lower end of our age spectrum. I would also point out that many of our contributors have their own books or are/have been publishers of running publications. There are a LOT of race directors and organizers among us as well. We’ve got coaches and mentors. Many give back to the sport as well as running for their own pleasure. I would love to ‘name drop’ a little here, but it wouldn’t be fair to those I don’t mention. I deal with a fix for that a little later in this piece.

Steve King X2 (from Penticton Herald)

Steve King X2 (from Penticton Herald)

I was just a little shocked when I realized Running in the Zone (the book) was released just over 10 years ago at the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon in 2005 (see the photo at the top of this article). I still can’t quite believe that. Still, the ideas are as fresh and relevant today as they were when the book first saw the light of day. What makes it so? I think it is probably because there were only a couple of ‘how to’ oriented pieces and even those were kept in context. Most of the writing was around how running fit into any of the authors’ lives and how each felt about it. I am still in regular contact with a number of these writer/runners and don’t think much has changed. If we asked them to do it again, I think that in broad terms, we would get a lot of the same subjects and content.

Since writing this book, I have met quite a number of ‘seasoned’ athletes and others fast joining the ranks, who I might have invited to join us were we just starting. It seems like there are common themes among us that hold true. When we were done with publishing of the book, I sent out a small survey to the contributors to get some stats and perspectives. One of the questions I asked was “Why do you run?”. Virtually every person responded to me with one form or another of “Because I love it.”

Because I love it. That took many forms, but the essence was that most everyone could not imagine their lives without running as a part of it. Not everyone was going fast, certainly not as fast as they once did, but they were still getting pleasure and fulfillment from whatever kind of running they were doing. Some were still very competitive both in spirit and performance, but some were just doing it for their own benefit and not trying to prove anything.

Co-Editors, Dan and Steve, working the Expo (BMO Vancouver Marathon, 2007)

Co-Editors, Dan and Steve, working the Expo (BMO Vancouver Marathon, 2007)

I seldom ‘pump’ the book regarding sales. We never wrote it to make money. Steve and I used to make appearances with the book at Race Expos and had a great time talking to people while selling a copy or two. I have had lots of feedback from people who did buy it and read it, and it is pretty well always positive. One of the great things about it is that it is not meant to be read cover to cover, or even in order, as presented. You can read what appeals to you today and come back another time for something else that is clicking at that point. And, it is not the opinion (clever as such might be) of just one, or even two individuals. You get the ideas of 26 individuals.

You may be wondering about the contributors I keep mentioning and what they decided to talk about. Well, if you are reading this you must be on the Blog Site, so you can just go over to the right side of the page and click on “About” or better, “A Peek Inside the Covers” where you can find a reproduction of the index which will show you the Who and What of Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes.

When we started out the book was available as a soft cover traditional printed form. Since then, it has been offered in e-format and it seems a fair number like that version. Of course, you can still buy either format via Trafford Publishing, as well as other on-line sales sites like Amazon. Or, if you happen to know Steve King or me, well, we will be more than happy to sell direct. And, we will autograph the book for you (probably a given, unless you stop us). If you get it right, you might be at a race where both of us are on hand. If it is one of several, such as the Vancouver Marathon or Victoria Marathon, there will be a good chance that at least a couple of other authors may be around too and you might get them to sign as well.

Rod Waterlow CIM Finish - 3:54:44. Final part of regular report series.

Rod Waterlow CIM Finish – 3:54:44. Final part of regular report series.

From time to time, book contributors have offered something here on the blog, and I am certain there will be further such contributions coming in the future. One or two have generously allowed me to reproduce articles published elsewhere. I have also been thrilled to have had the chance to invite other ‘seasoned athletes’ to contribute their thoughts to this blog, or in one case provide a series of brief reports and updates from an important event.

It was so much fun to write/edit this book and I know many have had the pleasure of reading it over the years. If you think you would like to own a copy of Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes, we would be humbly honoured.

 

 

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?

02.28.2016
Runnin Guy takes a rest

That Runnin Guy takes a well deserved rest.

Well, so most of you have already jumped to the conclusion that I am going to talk about age. You are partly right, but this IS a blog for ‘seasoned athletes’. The truth is, this post is kind of about four numbers. It is also getting published today, in honour of my friend, Chris “That Runnin’ Guy” Morales, who has apparently got himself a new number – it is his Birthday today. You may recognize the name or blog handle as associated with the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. That was how/where we met, several years ago, and now where each December, we solve the problems of the world (well our worlds) over a Red Stripe or two and some good jerk pork!

OK, I said there would be numbers. Here they are:

First Number: Age (yes, you were right)

Second Number: Time for any given race distance

Third Number: Age graded time for any given race distance

Fourth Number: % Performance for any given distance at any given age

Many people like to say “Age is just a number.”  That is true. I like to say it. I know a lot of amazing ‘seasoned’ athletes and in this case I’m even going to use another ‘s-word’, senior athlete. As I am one, I’ve got to know a lot of such people. As a matter of fact, after the First Half Half Marathon which I just ran for the first time on February 14, I was standing with two other senior runners (on the day) and one who would have been running were he not working back from an injury (that did NOT happen while running). I was the youngster at 71, but together we added up to 305 years among four guys. I won’t class myself with these other three, but I am still going and they would put a good many younger people to shame at any given distance. But, they (we) all work at it. So, we definitely fit in the ‘age is just a number’ category.

Although I’ve enjoyed some podium finishes in the last year, I am the first to admit there was an element of picking the right races! I have never been fastest in a class field, but what I really care about is how I compare to the me I used to be. You certainly can’t make a 30, or more, year comparison to the Second Number above. That number is the time you recorded for any given distance on your best day. Naturally, we all run different paces on different days (depending on the circumstance), so rather than any specific race it is probably most reasonable to compare PB’s either outright or recent. I’ve started, on someone’s recommendation, to keep 5-year ‘bests’. For ease of keeping track, I use the usual 5-year age groups, so right now I am working M70-74. Even your best at age 70 can’t compare to your best at 43/44 (when I actually set my PB times).

To be clear then, my “Second Number” is your raw time at any age. It is what it is. You try not to let it slip too fast as the years and races roll by, but you can’t stop it forever. Best you can do is limit rate of change.

I also keep record of my annual PBs, so if I were to say run three or four 10Ks, I only include (for this purpose) the best one. Sometimes, it is the only one if you only run one race. For instance, last year I only ran one marathon, so that was the best, the worst and only. You get the idea.

Hood to Coast Start 2012

Hood to Coast Start 2012. Age grading will even work on the ‘random’ leg distances in a relay!

That leads us to the Third Number, the age graded equivalent (converted) time. I like this number and will talk about it in a bit, but want to bring in the Fourth Number now, as they do go hand in hand. The Fourth Number is the % Performance and in the last number of years, the one I keep track of the most. These standards are related but different. In essence, the age graded time is based on an ever-growing database of performances by age (and gender) for any given distance. The % Performance is relative to the single age World Standard for age and distance. I have learned that the calculator I use, put out by World Masters Athletics, is actually a bunch of equations and is not just a block of times for a precise distance (say 10K). As a result, it is actually possible to enter a decimal value for your age (I only do this for my own statistical records) and for distance too. There are some strange distances out there and if you are running relays, like my favourite Hood to Coast, the legs are what they are. They aren’t neatly divided up into familiar standard distances. The calculator still works. It also works on a decimal age. That is important to me because living in Vancouver where you can run, and race, all year and with a birthday that comes early in January, a late in the year race (like the Reggae Marathon) makes me almost a year older than my nominal age. As I said, I only use this for my own statistics, but at the higher end of the scale where I am now, a year makes a big difference.

Now, onto some specifics. After a not so pleasing 2:29:32 on February 14 at the First Half Half Marathon, I did as I always do and looked up my age graded results. To my surprise, my converted time for the half marathon was 1:48:20. That got me thinking about how it compares to my general achievements over a number of years. For the last good five years, my converted time has been in the low 1:40 range. This last race involved a number of issues and challenges for me (and some that included all runners – it wasn’t such a nice day). I don’t want to make excuses but am convinced I can do significantly better, and will as the season progresses.

Medal haul from the four in 15 day races (BMO Vancouver, Eugene and Sage Rat). Includes a first and second at Sage Rat weekend (red ribbons)

Medal haul from the four in 15 day races (BMO Vancouver, Eugene and Sage Rat). Includes a first and second at Sage Rat weekend (red ribbons)

As I looked back at all half marathons over the last few years, I could see how the raw chip time got slower, while the age graded time stayed relatively static (a good and satisfying thing). This is where the % P also comes in and is somewhat similar, because quite like the age graded time, it too compares favourably year over year. Circumstances always count, so care needs to be taken in the comparisons. As we are talking half marathons at this precise moment, I would point out that I ran three last year but all in 14 days, with full knowledge that on the 15th day I would be running a 25K so-called trail race (really more country roads). Anyway, all four of these races were run either with the intention of conserving energy for what was yet to come, or with the weight of what had just happened in the last week or two. So, while I was proud of the greater achievement and it got me to Level 4 in the Half Fanatics, the times are to be taken under advisement.

All of the above notwithstanding, as I look over a longer period of time and use the annual best time, the age graded result falls within quite a narrow range between 1:40 and 1:45, even though the actual times were getting slower. (For context, my half marathon PB is 1:33:40 which grades to 1:27:48 and happened in 1988. That first marathon PB was a 64% effort at age 43, while my marathon at age 65 was a 60% performance. Slippage? Yes, but not so bad I think.) But, notwithstanding that raw times were getting slower, that is kind of the point. My age was increasing, too.

As it turns out, aging is not really a straight-line sort of thing and neither is the age grading algorithm. Thusly, I had a graded time for the First Half that was not as bad as I thought it would be. The other number is the % Performance and is often my preferred standard. I have realized that if I can keep myself on a steady track, I can achieve around 60% on a reasonable day on a reasonable course. So, days like two Sundays ago, with the rain and all, should be taken in context. Situations like the four in 15 days should similarly be put in context. But, if you run races, you usually get a few each year when conditions are decent, not ideal necessarily, but decent.  Those you can reasonably compare and it pleases me that I find myself ‘holding my own’, as the pages of the calendar turn.

Reggae Party Time! Cool, refreshing coconut and the sea just a few steps behind the stage!

Reggae Party Time! Cool, refreshing coconut and the sea just a few steps behind the stage!

My personal approach to this is to use my best time for each distance in a given year. Sometimes, as already noted, that is just one race at a given distance, but sometimes there are several to choose from. Those ‘bests’ tend to fall in the target range I mentioned. That is what I use to judge my personal progress. You can’t do anything about things like the weather in mid-February or the heat in a race like my much loved Reggae Marathon (Half). Those results have to live on their own, but as I said, each season you probably get a good course on a nice day when you are well trained and feeling fit, and that will usually be the ‘keeper’ for that year. Here is another situation then were a number has meaning and not just for me. Some races actually do have age graded results and some even give prizing on graded times. There is always a little bit of shock among younger runners when some 70 year-old hot-shot wins.

As always, I write about my own experiences as the example to a larger point. What I have written about can be done by anyone at any time. You just need to know your age, your time and the distance. Plug it into one of the calculators and hit the button. There are a number of such age-grading systems out there now, but I stick with the one I started with just so the outcomes remain comparable over the many years. Because I started a long time ago, all I need to do now is plug in the latest race and add it to the rest. If you want to start your own record and don’t want to invest all the time it might take to go back to your ‘personal beginning’, you might just try to look up your five-year PBs to bring yourself up to some recent point in time and go from there. Word of warning, the age effect only kicks in around 35. Younger than that, you can save time and just use your actual result. It is fun to watch your adjusted performances as you go along.

Eugene Marathon - 2010 - Good Times (and a good time).

Eugene Marathon – 2010 – Good Times (and a good time).

Finishing up my Marathon PB (1988)

Finishing up my Marathon PB (1988)

I have had times where my training and running were better than at other times. Sometimes it is life, sometimes an injury that impedes progress and sometimes everything is ticking along like you would hope it would. A good example for me was the year I turned 65. I was healthy, had the time and was training pretty well over an extended period of time through the year before and into that year when I was 65. I peaked (recent races) on results over all distances right up to marathon and found that my graded times and % Performance stats where better than they had been in some years. In fact, my first marathon is, was and probably always will be both my best actual time (that is an absolute at this point) and best graded time (most likely). BUT, the Eugene Marathon run in 2010 turned out to be my third best raw time and second best graded time. The difference was 22 years. Clearly, comparing the raw times makes the two look very different (was just over an hour difference between Vancouver (1988) and Eugene (2010)), but age grading narrowed the gap to a few minutes. It is still a highlight of my running career!

Four Amigos after RM2015 showing 22 total races (fingers up) with That Runnin' Guy second from the right.

Four Amigos after RM2015 showing 22 total races (fingers up) with That Runnin’ Guy second from the right.

Oh, and this picture of the Four Amigos is a testament to age-grading and its many uses. We use the technique to compare our times and even distances in a friendly competition, which includes a bunch of other  people who are also Reggae Marathon regulars. All those fingers in the air represent the number of times we have done one of the distances of the Reggae Marathon (full, half or 10K). Takes some doing because left to right (and through no fault of our own, we ARE arranged by ascending age) there are some 35 years separating youngest and oldest (me, of course). Maybe if some of you ‘seasoned’ athletes out there give this age-grading thing a try, you will find some surprising and very pleasing outcomes.  Have fun!

Oh yes, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRIS!

Ho Hum to Banner Year in a Few Easy ‘Clicks’

02.01.2016
Getting ready to run the First Half, but won't be up with these guys!

Getting ready to run the First Half, but won’t be up with these guys!

Some of this isn’t new news, but I have been personally thrilled about things that have happened in the last while that have turned 2016 from a year where I intended to continue running but without much more of a plan than to ‘do it’.

Wow, has that ever changed!

I am already officially registered to run four of my favourite events of all time and committed to one more as soon as registration opens.

Eugene Marathon - 2010 - Good Times (and a good time).

Eugene Marathon – 2010 – Good Times (and a good time).

In February, I will run the First Half Half Marathon, for the very first time. I’ve talked about this before, so we’ll just leave that for now. As noted here quite recently, I am a Race Ambassador for the Eugene Marathon. That comes up in May and is also a real favourite. (PS, don’t forget the Ambassador has a discount code to share!) Flashing forward to late August, after several years of trying unsuccessfully, I got a team accepted into the Hood to Coast Relay. Oh yeah! Registered, and recruited a full team already. The fourth event is the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. This one is going to be a bit different because rather than the full or half marathon, I will (again, a first) be running the 8K with grandson Charlie.

Home stretch of Giant's Head Run (2015)

Home stretch of Giant’s Head Run (2015)

So there you have it! Just like that, all registered in four of my favourite racing events. BUT WAIT (as they say on the TV ads) that isn’t all. I am committed to a reprise of the Giant’s Head Run with Charlie in June. That makes FIVE really special races in the schedule and it has only just turned February.

I’ve already made posts about the First Half and Eugene so let me dodge ahead to October and the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon Weekend. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that knows me, that I have a spot in my heart and race schedule for this event. My first ‘doing’ of this event was in 2000, when it was still the Royal Victoria Marathon. I made my marathon come-back there. Well, if you can call running  your second marathon a ‘come-back’.  In a way it was, since I ran the first one in 1988, wound up with a serious back problem and operation that happened in May of 1990. Then, later in that decade I just got so busy that I mostly didn’t race at all until about 1998. The time wasn’t totally without racing, but it was pretty sporadic. I ran but mostly did not race or train to race. I did actually start training for a marathon in 1991 while living/working in Brussels, Belgium, but it fell through for lack of training time.

Janna Finishing RVM, October 2000.

Janna Finishing her First Marathon. RVM, October 2000.

So, it took until October 2000 and a lot of serious intent to ‘get er done’, before Marathon #2 went into the books. Well since then I have run a total of six half marathons and 5 marathons and launched our Running in the Zone book, at Victoria. This year, as noted, I will run the 8K for the very first time and it will be special because I’ll be running with my new running buddy, Charlie. By October, it should be at least our third race together. I hope I will still be able to stay with him. In case it isn’t obvious, we are kind of going in opposite directions where it comes to running pace. I figure it is only a matter of time (and not much of it) until I’m saying “See you at the finish” and meaning “Please wait for me at the finish”. I suppose it isn’t that I’m losing ground at such a rapid pace, but I know Charlie is going to get faster, and soon. If I had to predict, it would be something like this. In 2015 in the Giant’s Head Run, I had to pace to Charlie’s current capability. In 2016, I am kind of betting we may be on somewhat the same level. By October, he may have to slow down for me. Maybe not quite yet, but soon. As I said, we are kind of moving in opposite directions, but that is a good thing.

Danielle, Dan and Janna 2007 at Victoria Marathon

Danielle, Dan and Janna 2007 at Victoria Marathon

If that wasn’t enough, it is going to be a full-on family running weekend! Out of the 11 previous Victoria appearances, most have involved one or the other of our daughters (Danielle and Janna) and sometimes both. And, while I was running my second marathon, Janna was running her first! That was a big event for all of us. Not only did Janna and I run our first marathon together, it inspired Danielle to take on the challenge of the marathon a year later in Toronto. I recently added up the total for the extended family and all together, counting kids and spouses of kids plus me, our full marathon count has now reached 36! Not even going to bother to check but our half marathons are probably pushing 100. The family that runs together……………….

Our son lives in Victoria and has agreed that he will get in the spirit and do the 8K too. Danielle and Janna and their families will be there. Both sons-in-law run and wife Judi is ready to take on a challenging walk. Right now, details are still being sorted. Danielle is registered for the Half and Charlie and I are registered for the 8K. Everybody else is thinking about the distance they might do. But, I do know hotels have been booked, so it is definitely on. I know one son-in-law is looking for another marathon to do, but not too likely this is going to be the one because of his schedule. We have one grandson too young to run and with race rules prohibiting strollers, is unable to ride. So, there still needs to be some sorting of who is running what and who looks after Jonah. However it works out, this is going to be one big family celebration of running! Going to be a highlight of my year for sure.

Bob's Border Busters - Hood to Coast 1987

Bob’s Border Busters – Hood to Coast 1987

Backing up a bit, Hood to Coast will be a great event for me too. The first time was in 1987. This will be the ninth, but they were not evenly spaced. Number Two was 1989, but Number Three was in 2006. There have certainly been a lot of changes including numbers of teams and even the finish location, which naturally means the route too, especially from Portland onward. In the early days it was JUST the Hood to Coast Relay. The Portland to Coast and High School Challenge were added later. With more and more teams it got harder to get in and this last round, it took three attempts to secure a place. The nature of the race has changed too, from what might have been somewhat of a rolling party to something fairly tightly scripted. What hasn’t changed is the attitude of fun on the run. A big part of the fun for me is the planning.

Ready to Start Hood to Coast - 1989

Ready to Start Hood to Coast – 1989

Back in 1989 I ran Leg #1 and it is the fastest sustained pace I’ve ever run over a distance (about 5.5 miles). It was glorious and I bask in the memory of it. Now, I have fun with trying to get all the team members into the best leg set for both them and the team. It is getting to be time to start doing that, even if the relay is still many months away. Oh yeah!  Hours of Fun! Oh, and it looks a lot like I’ll be giving myself Leg #1 again. No, I’m not trying to relive past glory. If you don’t mind running steep, sustained downhill (the actual Leg One) then it is the right place for the oldest, slowest runner on the team. Funny enough, although the post-Portland Leg #1 route has changed and was a bit longer back in 1989, I ran it then because I was one of the slowest on our team, even if I did come down that hill at a pace of 5:59/mile. That’s right. On that team, I was one of the ‘slow’ guys. We came 19th in Men’s Open, and those were the days of crack teams put together by Nike and others, using the very best from their stable of distance runners. That included such people as Alberto Salazar. Today, the ‘pointy end’ of the relay still involves amazing runners, but not quite like those days. Did I mention we came 19th in Men’s Open?

There are several other races that are fairly special to me and I’m working on the plans to get them into the schedule. Some involve travel outside Canada and that is not inexpensive these days, so we will have to see what we will have to see. Guess you might think I’m being a bit greedy considering the great line-up of special races already ‘on tap’!

So, that is it for my plans for the moment. What does your 2016 look like? Hope you are heading for as special a year as I expect to have!

THIS BLOGGER JUST BECAME A RACE AMBASSADOR FOR THE EUGENE MARATHON

01.18.2016

logoFollowers here know I decided a year or two back to try new things when the chance arises. A NEW CHANCE JUST AROSE!

One of my favourite races, the Eugene Marathon selected me to be one of their 2016 Ambassadors!

I am pretty thrilled for a bunch of reasons, but I realized that this is the “10th YEAR RUNNING and will be my FIFTH time of running either the full (3X) or half (2X as of this year). Let’s face it folks, there aren’t that many races of which any of us could say we’d done HALF!

Eugene Marathon - 2010 - Passing Hayward Field.

Eugene Marathon – 2010 – Passing Hayward Field.

This is a great job for me! I think I’ve been doing it unofficially since the first time I ran Eugene in 2010. That was a pretty big year of running for me and the Eugene Marathon was one of the highlights. It was also one of my personal best marathons. I really have two adult distance running careers. Well, maybe that should be RACING  careers. My first marathon was run in 1988 in Vancouver, but I didn’t run the second one until the Victoria Marathon of 2000. Oh yes, and there was that thing about a ruptured disk and back operation that happened between #1 and #2. On a raw time basis the first was the fastest and the second was, well, second fastest. Many of you know how I do love age grading to keep track of myself (then and now). Eugene, run in 2010, some 22 years after my first, was (and remains) my third best raw time and second best age graded (out of a total of 26 marathons – Eugene 2010 being #13). Oh yeah, and to my everlasting surprise and delight, I was THIRD in M65-69.

Still wondering why I love Eugene?  OK, well here are some other reasons.

Harry Jerome - Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

Harry Jerome – Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

1. Track Town USA!  I am of an age when Eugene was the epi-centre of running excellence, at least for West Coasters. I knew a number of promising runners who took their careers forward in Eugene and under the expert coaching of Bill Bowerman and his staff. The biggest name among them, I suppose, was Harry Jerome. I am not going to try to pretend Harry was a friend, but we did belong to the same track club and did train together under the same coach. I even raced him once! And hey, how many of the people you ran with over the years have a statue to commemorate their achievements?

2. Hayward Field. If Eugene is ‘Track Town’, Hayward Field must be City Hall! The Eugene Marathon FINISHES on Hayward Field! #goosebumps #Imighthavecriedabit

"Pre's Rock" - Eugene, OR

“Pre’s Rock” – Eugene, OR

3. Running in the Footsteps of Legends. The long-time ‘tag line’ for the race. Nothing could be more true! The people who have run in that stadium are truly legendary. I think the first that would pop to mind, at least for anyone my age, is ‘Pre’. Steve Prefontaine, even though his true potential probably went unrealized, ranks near the top of the list of Legends. Truth be told, the legendary performances continue to be recorded to this very day at Hayward Field, and who knows how many more will emerge in years to come.

4. A First Class Race. Never mind what was and everything included in the first three points. The Eugene Marathon (and Half) is a top quality race in its own right. The course is fast and essentially flat, with a good return on PB and BQ aspirations. Even if you aren’t looking for those outcomes, the organization is superb and volunteers as good as you will find. Post race is pretty much top shelf too.

As an official Ambassador, I can help you out with information and a special discount on registration if you are running the Half or Full Marathon. More on that later.  But, the weekend has more happening than just those two races, so if you are bringing kids or someone not quite ready for a marathon or half marathon, there are other options. On Saturday (April 30) there is the Run Track Town 5K and the “Duck Dash” (1 K) for kids.

Forerunners crew carbing it up in 2015

Forerunners crew carbing it up in 2015

Metro Vancouver and British Columbia runners seem to have a strong affinity for the Eugene Marathon. In 2015 I personally ran the half marathon, but was part of a group of 28 from the Forerunners marathon and half marathon clinics that descended on Eugene for one or other of the distances, coming away with something like 8-10 PB results, 8 BQs and 3 age group podium finishes, including one First and a total of 7 Top Ten placings. Although not there for 2015, Jeremiah (Jerry) Ziak of Forerunners North Vancouver has won the 5K (2011 in 14:46). And this is just the story for my Forerunners friends, not counting those running with Peninsula Runners as well as other clubs and clinics. I mention Peninsula in particular, because they have sent some pretty big contingents over the years and I am sure have produced some very satisfying results among their runners.

Why and How you run any race is up to you. I mentioned my 2010 result above. It was one of my best and I trained and raced with the intention of making it so. The next year I had every intention of repeating (only faster) but a late training injury put the result somewhat in the ‘pathetic’ category. I should have just said ‘not this time’, but I thought I was OK when the race started. OK to run, not to better the previous year. Wrong. But, I did finish. 2014 was a slower time but good for me at the time and age. 2015, the Eugene Half Marathon was the second of four half marathons done in a total of 15 days. To the outside observer the time was far from stellar, but for me it was just what I needed as the second step in my project to ‘moon up’ to Level Four in Half Fanatics! I also used the 2013 Eugene Marathon to scoot myself up to the Silver Level of Marathon Maniacs. I only mention these things because they are examples of the literally thousands of personal goals expressed on the road on any given race day. What will your goal be??

OK, let’s get down to basics.

Eugene Marathon puts on a great weekend. I recommend you think about making it part of your personal race calendar.

If you do feel this is for you, I have a special code that will give a discount for either the half or full marathon. Send me a Personal Message on the Facebook Page for Running in the Zone. OR, you can e-mail me at :  dan@runninginthezone.ca

The main race day is Sunday May 1, 2016. The Expo and package pick-up starts April 29 going through April 30. The Run Track Town 5K and Duck Dash are on Saturday April 30.

Registration fees and deadlines are found HERE.

Accommodation in Eugene should be booked early. Of course the Race Web Site has a page for hotels and many offer discounts. If you are of that sort of mind, Air BnB is an option to consider too.

Marathon Start - Eugene 2010

Marathon Start – Eugene 2010

The ROUTES for the marathon and half start on Agate Street just outside Hayward Field, running into South Eugene and Amazon Park, eventually looping back right past Hayward Field just around nine miles. Runners head toward the Willamette River, crossing over on the Bike Bridge around 10 miles, after which the two routes separate. with marathoners running up-river into Springfield and half marathoners heading into the ‘beginning of the end’ on the pathways on the North Side of the Willamette, from time to time quite near and even paralleling ‘Pre’s Trail’. After a foot tour of part of Springfield, marathoners follow the streets to Autzen Stadium where they too get onto paved pathways following the river. For most of the last 10 miles, runners are quite near the Willamette River, first on one side and then the other as they turn back toward the finish at Hayward Field.

Hayward Field - The Finish is Nigh

Hayward Field – The Finish is Nigh (Photo by Eugene Marathon)

Regardless of half or full marathon, everybody finishes by running along Agate toward those iconic gates that welcome everyone back to Hayward Field. If you have any kind of a ‘runner’s soul’ or sense of the history of this place, I challenge you to pass through those gates without having some kind of chill up the spine or maybe even a sudden surge of emotion, including a tear (if you are me). Everyone hits the track just about where a 200m race would start and then runs the curve and down the straight to the finish arch. If you aren’t so concentrated on the clock or finish mat that you forget, you can actually watch yourself finish on the JumboTron screen!

The courses are fast, mostly flat with just enough roll to keep your legs loose. There are two bumps that actually qualify as hills and you are done with them by about 8 miles. The race has been in the Top 15 BQ producers for some time. I suppose that should tell you something, whether you are looking for the BQ or just a good personal result.

Is Eugene the only race on May 1? Hardly. First of all, there is no running season weekend that doesn’t offer multiple options. It is the reality of the times and popularity of our sport. For Vancouver runners, the obvious situation is that this year, the BMO Vancouver Marathon is the same day. Last year that wasn’t so. I actually ran the half in both places, my 11th time for Vancouver and fourth for Eugene. I guess we just have to realize there are choices to make. This year I will be choosing the Eugene event. Others will need to make their own decisions.

For those who do pick Eugene, I will really look forward to greeting you at the Expo and Package Pick-Up. That is part of my job as Race Ambassador, but one I love. The Expo of any Marathon is one of my favourite places to be, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding me! For all my Vancouver area running friends please feel free to look me up and chat about the Eugene Marathon      “10 Years Running

So whaddaya say?  See you in Eugene in May!?

 

 

IS IT REALLY JUST A MONTH TO THE “FIRST HALF”?

01.13.2016
pacific road runners - bright blue

A Well Recognized Logo!

The short answer is YES.

People who know me, this blog and the race, also know this post was to be anticipated. Unlike some races I am known to love and promote unofficially, The “First Half” Half Marathon sold out months ago. Registration will not be impacted by even one runner through the words of this blog. One thing that might is VOLUNTEERS. Unlike most races of its size these days (over 2000 finishers), this is still a 100% club organized and volunteer delivered event, supported by super generous partners such as Forerunners (from day one) and Mizuno (now with the race for some eight years). Excess proceeds from the race go to Variety – The Children’s Charity and now total well in excess of $650,000!

Pre-race crowd FHHM2014

Pre-race crowd FHHM2014

For the first 20 years, members of Pacific Road Runners (“the Club”) were not allowed to run the First Half. We all had to be the core of the volunteer brigade. It did create a bit of a tension in that some really good local runners were prevented from running what is arguably Vancouver’s best half marathon. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are some fine races here, but the First Half is still the only half marathon that sells out over 2000 spots in 24 hours or less. I see that as a direct vote by runners. Some might argue that having been Race Director for several years and stage MC ever since, that I could be biased. Could be.

Anyway, it just happened that when I took over RD duties, it was coming up on the 20th Anniversary of the race. I decided an experiment was in order and the Race Committee agreed. On a one and done special deal, we would let five PRR members run (chosen by lottery) as long as they got their volunteer hours in before or after the race. Well, long story short, it worked just fine and we did not have to invoke the ‘special circumstance’ argument to return to the old policy. A small number of club members now get to run each year. A big plus is that PRR gets a runner’s eye view of why the event is held so high in the collective opinion of the running community and to keep a direct eye on any issues on course.

Normally, this post is all about what a great race it is shaping up to be and how hard everyone works and wishing runners well. All that still stands, but this time I have something very major and personal to announce. For the first time ever, maybe the ONLY time, I will be running the First Half.

For the weather, this is kind of what I had in mind for race day.

For the weather, this is kind of what I had in mind for race day.

I will put down my microphone and lace up my running shoes and find out first hand, just what it is all about. I am hoping that the running gods will favour me with one of those great running days for this experience. My argument to the current RD was basically that I wanted to do the race (please and pretty please) while I am still able. Not to be morbid, but I just had my 71st birthday and at that age your next injury might just be the last. I am very excited to have this opportunity and intend to take full advantage the experience!

Forerunners Pace Group Leaders at Eugene Marathon 2015

Forerunners Pace Group Leaders at Eugene Marathon 2015

I continue as a pace group leader at the Forerunners Saturday First Half clinic, but instead of telling tales of the event to those who will be running, I am now sharing my own excitement at being ONE OF THEM. While I’ve never run the race, I’ve run almost every part of the course at one time or another. The difference now is that I am not just giving advice to the pace group runners, I am making my own plans and strategies on how to approach each segment.

There are probably only two ways for me to run this race. One would be to just go really easy and take a couple of photographs (if weather is as spectacular is it has sometimes been), talk to volunteers and other runners and just make it a celebration. The other is to honour this race that has hosted so many of Canada’s top distance runners over the years, and do the very best I can. That means training well and running the race for time. Guess which one I will be doing! I’ll save the celebratory run for if I ever manage to BQ.

Now don’t get the wrong idea when I say I will ‘run for time’. Nobody at the pointy end of the race has anything to worry about, probably not even the better runners in my own age group, for that matter. Although I am thrilled to get a podium place when I can, I have mostly run against myself throughout my racing years. So, when I say I will run for time, it will just be the best time I can produce. Only I will know for sure how successfully I will pull that off. Whatever, I do intend to take this race as seriously as any race I’ve done in a long time.

Dylan Wykes (yellow and black) FHHM 2015 winner and event record holder.

Dylan Wykes (yellow and black) FHHM 2015 winner and event record holder.

I will be writing about the race again, nearer to the event. While I am a great proponent for running for your own reasons and to your own standards, I also have a deep love and appreciation of excellence. So, once we know who the top prospects will be, I will be talking about that a bit. This year being an Olympic year and a couple of our better runners and event winners not having yet qualified for the marathon, there may be some race strategy determining who will run and how fast. More on that when we get closer. As a teaser though, here is a list of former First Half winners. For the men: Peter Butler (won the very first First Half), Carey Nelson, Colin Dignum (2X), Phil Ellis (2X), Norm Tinkham (2X), Art Boileau (3X), Bruce Deacon (5X and record holder 1992 – 2007), Ryan Hayden (2X and record 2007), Rob Watson (2X) and Dylan Wykes (3X and current First Half record holder at 1:04:21, set in 2012).

Dayna Pidhoresky hits the tape for the 2015 Win.

Dayna Pidhoresky hits the tape for the 2015 Win.

On the women’s side: Isabelle Dittberner (won the first First Half and again in 1993), Lisa Harvey (4X), Tina Connelly (3X and event record holder at 1:12:47, set in 2004), Natasha Wodak (2X), Lucy Smith (2X) plus several notable one time winners including Ellie Greenwood, Leah Pells and Sylviane Puntous. For those who might remember, the Puntous twins were world class Triathletes, but also very good runners. They were famous for finishing One-Two and the 1991 First Half was no exception with Sylviane first at 1:15:08 and Patricia second in 1:15:13. The family that runs together…..

One should never get the impression that these wins were the complete record for these athletes. I only listed the wins, but many of these fine runners recorded other podium finishes as well and some went on to win the Masters division. And, the book is still open on the current crop of elites as to how many more First Half wins and podium places they will record.

BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh heads back through the Start and on to the Seawall

BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh heads back through the Start and on to the Seawall

The event has also been graced by the presence of some amazing older athletes, first among them being BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh, a regular at the First Half and an inspiration to all. According to the records posted at the First Half web site, BJ holds the age group records for W60-64 through W80+. The times range from 1:39:40 for W60-64 to 2:07:07 for W80+ (by my calculation, done when she was 82). Another runner of note is Herb Phillips who posted a record time of 1:23:19 for M65-69. I almost hesitate on mentioning these few people because it leaves out so many other superb athletes.

Everybody must now go to the Start!

Everybody must now go to the Start!

I would be remiss in not mentioning that a huge number of the less noteworthy runners out there are doing their own amazing races. I will tell just one story here but think it sums things up and because it was personal and moving for me. I guess it is also a great example of why we all need to give back to the sport we love. As I usually do when being stage MC, last year, after making the final announcement that the race was about to start, I went out to actually watch the start of the race. My usual spot is at Pacific and Davie, about 200m down-course from the starting line. You can get some great photographs from that point, and for no extra cost, if you just wait a few minutes, everybody comes right back past that location after the initial approximately one mile loop around BC Place. Because things start to string out a bit, it is also a great place to spot people you know.

Random mid-pack photo from around the time the following happened. FHHM 2015

Random mid-pack photo from around the time the following happened. FHHM 2015

I was standing there cheering and photographing and chatting with Karen and Peter Butler from Forerunners and my co-MC, Anjulie Latta (who actually has a personal link to what now follows).  The elites had passed by as well as a good many strong runners, when all of a sudden a young woman dashed over to me yelling as she came, “Are you Dan??” Having no time to think of why I might deny it, I said “YES”. She proceeded to give me a big hug and thank me profusely for getting her where she was (running the First Half). So, here is the deal. Several years before I had been her Sun Run InTraining Clinic Coordinator and had helped her get started on the road to running. Anjulie, as it happens, was the Area Coordinator at the time and thereby, my ‘boss’. The conversation was brief as you might imagine, but this young woman told me she had done every Sun Run since that first clinic and some 11 half marathons to boot!  Then, she was gone. The whole thing took just a few seconds, but it was very emotional for me and apparently for her because it was important enough for her to run off course to thank me. It made me realize that contributing what you can to assist others can have an impact far beyond anything you might imagine. No, not every time and not for everyone, but often enough and to a level most of us would never understand. I cried a little.

And for all of this, and because so many work so hard to put on this race, I just have to give it my very best come February 14, 2016!