Archive for November, 2012


BACK TO THE SUN

11.26.2012

reggae Marathon logoOR, I DO LOVE TO TRAVEL PLACES TO RUN!

One more go at the Reggae Marathon Weekend. The races, 10K, Half and Full Marathon all start at 5:15am on Saturday, December 1. This year I plan to actually be there for the start and try to get most of my run done BEFORE the sun is fully up. But, that is an old story.

Last time I signed up for the marathon and wound up doing the 10K. This time I decided to go between and run the Half Marathon. I am pretty excited about meeting up with my Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge buddies, Chris and Larry. Sadly, there will be no challenge this time as both seem to be nursing injuries. Still, they have decided to ‘come for the run and stay for the fun’, even if the ‘run’ may turn into a walk as is the case for Chris who is still in a cast and repairing some stress fractures in his foot.

There is no doubt that all the Reggae races are serious. The winners turn in very credible times with the marathon record sitting at 2:21:05M/2:42:25F, the half at 1:08:32M/1:16:12F while the fastest 10K times are 30:25M and 35:05F. Still, there are a whole lot of us that just know a great event and a good time when we see it.  I won’t deny that I have looked over the competition. Uuuummm, I even looked up a couple on Athlinks to see how fast they run the half marathon.  I can say I won’t be first in age category, but unless something goes terribly wrong, I won’t be last either, even if it is a 10-year age category with me at the wrong end.  The rest will be what it will be and they are going to give me that finisher medal, the fresh coconut and the Red Stripe when I finish, no matter what.

Reggae Party Time!

One thing that leaves me a bit unsettled is that after I finish the half and get my medal, which will go nicely with my 10K medal from last year, I wonder if I will be driven to complete the full set. I guess only time will tell.  Chris has the full set, so has nothing to prove! I mean, how bad could that be?  Another trip to Negril! Mmmmmm, but I would have to run a marathon.

I do know that there is a huge international field with some 30 countries represented. The race is in a fabulous vacation area. The course is flat as can be and runs along the seashore. Organization is second to none. The pre-race pasta party is also like no other I have known. The weather will never be cold and as hot goes, it generally isn’t crazy hot at this time of year. It might rain a little, but that would probably just be refreshing. Then there is the Reggae Music that happens from one end of the course to the other. Finally, once the race has been run, the medal has been hung and the coconut and Red Stripe collected, you can just keep right on running into the Caribbean Sea!  Yah, mon!

There is still time to register! Grab a last minute vacation deal and get yourself to Negril!  Larry, Chris and I will be there waiting for you. We’ll be the guys drinking our Red Stripes and smiling a lot. Oh, I guess that isn’t going to differentiate us from a lot of other people. Well, we’ll be there and we will be smiling.

TWO RACES – SIMILAR, YET DIFFERENT

11.07.2012

How is that for a title?  This post is about two races; events actually, since each event has at least three races. One I just did and the other I am going to do very soon. In fact, I participated in both last year and will particpate in both this year, but at different distances in each case. I reversed the races going long last year and short this year in the first and short last year, but longer this year in the other.

OK, so what am I talking about??

Try Events - Boundary Bay Marathon

If you scroll back a ways you will find a story about running fun in the family and the grand finale of my series of half marathon races with our kids when each was half my age. The event and venue was Try Events’ Boundary Bay Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 5K, held rather conveniently, quite near where I actually live. This past weekend, I ran the 10K race.

The other event is the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. Again, you will 

Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K

 find a couple of different posts about that event including how I didn’t quite do the race I intended but had a good time anyway. The venue for the Reggae Marathon, not surprisingly is Negril, Jamaica. While my original intent was to do the full marathon in December 2011, I actually wound up running the 10K. We won’t go over all that again!  In just over three weeks I will be running the half marathon – really!

How in the WORLD can these events be so similar as suggested by the title?  Well, here you go:

1. Both are about as flat as any race can be that isn’t run on a track.  Check.

2. Both are held very near a lovely, scenic expanse of water. Check.

3. Both events have several races. Check

4. Both start and finish at a park beside a beach. Check

5. Both have a feel of being more ‘pure’ and ‘old school’ where it comes down to the primary purpose of running and having fun. Check

6. In the spirit of the previous point, both award finisher medals to everyone in all events, thus celebrating the participation whether fast, slow or in between. Check.

7. I have competed in both. Well, OK, that is kind of personal and doesn’t really count except that I can give a direct personal opinion and perspective.

Well, there you go then! These two are interchangeable!   Mmmmmm, not quite.

While they are run within a month of each other and right beside a beach. At the Boundary Bay Marathon (November) nobody handed me a fresh coconut as I finished, and especially not a Red Stripe (are you paying attention Mitchell?). But, finally and more than anything, there was no desire to just keep running on into the warm waters of the sea, beckoning from just beyond the finish line!

Well, naturally I am being a bit silly about the last bit.

In writing this though, I am impressed in a certain way by how generally similar the events are with hard working organizers concentrating not on bringing in name runners (don’t get me wrong, there is a place for that) but in making the event all about every participant. I am reminded that so many of our races are, or should be about encouraging people to join in and enjoy.

Try Events has one more race yet to go in 2012, the Historic Half (Vancouver), to be held November 25th. If you like the sound of this kind of event you will want to check it out. Be warned though that these races are capped to remain relatively small and allow for everyone to have a great personal experience. It is not uncommon for them to sell out.

Now for that Red Stripe!

The Boundary Bay 10K, which is what I ran this weekend is (I think) my last race before the Reggae Half Marathon (December 1). And hey, there is still time for anyone who thinks a big feed of Rasta Pasta the night before, starting in the warm dark of the Negril beach strip to the sounds of Reggae Music, and finishing up with the coconut, Red Stripe (optional), more Reggae Music and a dip in the Carribean is the way to run a foot race. As the tag line says, ‘come for the run and stay for the fun’. I certainly intend to do just that!

Oh, and just in case you may care, I have researched the matter and learned my official Reggae Name is Doctor “One Drop” Dread.  So hold on Negril!  De Doctah is on de way.

 

A TALE OF THE SEASONED PILGRIM

11.01.2012

As promised, here is the account of Judi Cumming, the ‘Seasoned Pilgrim’ of the title, and who after trekking the nearly 800km El Camino in just over a month, I think definitely qualifies here as a Seasoned Athlete.  She is a woman of far fewer words than her husband, so I will just add a word or two about how proud she made her family and friends in not only taking on this personal

Janna (coach and training partner), Judi, Joanne, Rena and Dave – Training hike to Lynne Headwaters

challenge, but also preparing ahead of time to meet the very real challenge of walking that far, averaging some 24km per day. Yes, they were walking.  But that is one heck of a walk!   So, here it is, one woman’s account of some of her experiences and impressions as she trekked in the company of three friends from Canada, across the mountains, hills and fields of Spain.

We made it! On October 19 under sunny skies, Dave & Rena Chase, JoAnne Shepherd and I followed the yellow arrows the last 20km into Cathedral Square at Santiago de Compostela, Spain to complete our 790km El Camino pilgrimage.  Thirty-three days (and a lifetime) earlier we had registered at the pilgrim office in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, affixed a scallop shell (symbol of St. James) to our daypacks and headed out. Through sun, rain, wind, amazing sunrises and moonlit evenings, we strode, skipped, stumbled and slogged our way over mountains, across plains, through ancient villages and historic cities – getting only a little help from an occasional ride in a motor vehicle.

Spanish Sunrise

Sometimes we were on our own, other times we joined pilgrims from around the world – Korea, Japan, Ukraine, South Africa, Slovakia, Australia and New Zealand as well as the European countries, all intent on following the Way of St. James. We were surprised to meet so many Irish and a big contingent of Canadians and Americans.  Mette from Denmark joined us for a few enjoyable days. 

Not only did we share the long, varied route – sometimes a rocky path, sometimes a village street – we also came together in the hostels at night as we figured out the best way to get ourselves and our clothes clean using the often limited facilities.  Often a glance across the hostel just before lights out at 9:30 or 10:00 revealed a massive jumble of wet-but-not-as-clean-as-we’d-like clothes and towels dangling to dry from all the bunks accompanied by the distinctive ‘seasoned pilgrim’ smell lingering in the air. 

We all had our reasons for taking on the Camino challenge – some wanted to share their goals – others preferred to keep them private. My intention was to use the many days of walking as a way to focus on keeping my heart open to Love and my mind open to Truth.  Sometimes as I trudged along, a friend, family member or even acquaintance would come into my mind and I would extend love, peace and happiness to him or her.  The day before I left for this adventure, my lovely friend Marjean died, so she travelled with me from time to time, as did my dear cousin Bill, whose sudden death I discovered while checking email in a Spanish village.

Many of our fellow travellers carried cell phones or ‘pads’ and took advantage of the many Wi-Fi areas along the way.  We had only a basic cell phone for booking hostels and arranging the daily transport of our large packs.  Although we could access internet at some of the hostels, it was much less available than Wi-Fi, so we were largely out of touch with current events and day-to-day information.  This isolation seemed to contribute to the peaceful nature of our days and perhaps even gave us a bit of common ground with our medieval predecessors.

Country Scene - Galicia, Spain

Whether people were walking for eight days or eight weeks, support, respect and camaraderie was the prevailing attitude on the trail, in the hostels and around the table as we fueled up each evening on the ample pilgrim meals complete with vino tinto and postres (dessert).  Local people all along the way were also amazingly helpful and encouraging – some would shout out or grab us by the arm to redirect us as we attempted to make a wrong turn along a village street and others would set out a table with fruit and biscuits and water to help keep up our strength.

The hostel experience

Even though I’d trained well and was physically prepared, my personal journey got off to a rather shaky start. After lying awake all night in an upper bunk my first time in a hostel, I had thoughts of catching the next plane home! (My rationale being that if I wasn’t able to sleep the first night, all the others would be just as bad, then I’d never have the strength to walk so I may as well give up now – things get like this when I’m lying awake, listening to strangers snore, wondering how I’m going to get down from the top bunk and find my way to the bathroom when I can’t remember where I’ve put my headlamp!)  But the encouragement of my three companions and the grace

Stones laid at the foot of the cross represent intentions.

of God spurred me on. My second hostel night, I found myself considering my bunkmates friends rather than strangers, learned how to properly insert my earplugs, and had a wonderful sleep.  Although not all hostels are created equal, most are pretty good and some are downright charming (especially since JoAnne kindly volunteered to take a top bunk, leaving the bottom one for me).

Cathedral Square - Santiago de Compostela, Spain

I certainly now better understand the wide appeal of the Camino and truly appreciate the satisfaction rising to this challenge brings.  Even though I recognize many of the physical and mental benefits right now, I feel there are many others that will come to light as time goes by.

Editor’s Note:  All photographs are courtesy of JoAnne Shepherd