Archive for June, 2015


PLACES I’VE RUN/PLACES I’VE RACED

06.24.2015
Running the High Country Trails

Running the High Country Trails

Someone was talking about wonderful and favourite places they’d run and I knew instantly that this post needed to be written. The hard part is going to be controlling myself and second hardest will be not kicking my own butt all over the place where it comes to missed opportunities to race. Well, here goes. [Oh, and this has to be the most ‘link heavy’ post I’ve ever written, but hey, if I’m going to entice with photographs and descriptions, the least I can do is tell you how to find these events for yourself!]

For me, there is a BIG difference between the places I’ve run and places I’ve raced, especially if we limit to countries. “Places” get more extensive if you include States and Provinces, of course. At last count I believe I had RUN in at least 23 sovereign countries. However, I have only RACED in 4 countries. I guess we can start there. Naturally, being a Canajun and all, I’ve raced in Canada. I have also raced in the United States, Belgium and Jamaica. I’ve raced in 3 Provinces (run in 9) and raced in 8 States. This is where I get all misty about the squandered opportunities because I’ve lived in more Provinces than I’ve raced in and spent three years in Europe and nearly two in Malaysia. Out of those five years, I only raced in Belgium, notwithstanding all the travel I managed to do to nearby countries. Oh, I got my runs done in some amazingly exotic places, but not races. Naturally, there is nothing wrong with ‘just running’, but I do race, so………..oh, never mind. What’s done is done. And, I guess when you get down to it, I’m not – done that is.

Inaugural BAA 5K - 2009 They let us borrow THE finish!

Inaugural BAA 5K – 2009 They let us borrow THE finish!

Now this isn’t about me and how many places I’ve run. It is about how many amazing places I’ve run. Beauty being in the eye of the beholder, that doesn’t narrow things down all that much. Some of the “beauty” has to do with the physical location and some with the circumstance. For instance, one of my great unaccomplished goals is to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. Haven’t bagged that yet, but I did run the inaugural BAA 5K, back in 2009 while supporting our daughter Janna as she tackled the main event. That was really special for any number of obvious reasons, ‘borrowing’ the Marathon finish was definitely one of them. It may be the closest I come to crossing that hallowed and iconic finish.

Spring Running in Vancouver. Near Granville Island

Spring Running in Vancouver. Near Granville Island

To simplify this a bit, I’m just going to go with a few of the MOST amazing places I’ve run OR raced without separating into categories.

Something I do from time to time, since I have had a wonderful opportunity to travel is to look at my present location and wonder how a visitor would see it. We used to live on False Creek, just near Vancouver’s famous Granville Island. The seawall promenade is second to none, and that was my normal running area at one time. Even now, some of the clinic training routes I use with our Forerunners group goes along the same area. While we are at it, Vancouver offers several major races and even more minor races that use roads and paths that border English Bay, False Creek and the famous Stanley Park Seawall. On a nice day, the vistas are spectacular, both depending on where you are and regardless of where you are. In other words, what you are seeing may be different, but all equally amazing.

As amazing as it is, sometimes it rains.

As amazing as it is, sometimes it rains.

For anyone wondering how to get in on this, the major races include (by time of year): First Half Half Marathon (February – registration sells out in one day near beginning of November), Vancouver Sun Run (April), BMO Vancouver International Marathon [and Half and 8K](May), Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon [and 5K](June), Seawheeze Half Marathon (August), Oasis Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon & Cunningham 10K (two races/two days)(October). These are only the events with a few thousand to several thousand (Vancouver Marathon events now push a total of 15,000 participants). There are many many more smaller races ranging from 5K to Half Marathon. For information on those you can consult the BC Athletics Race Calendar or go to the Timex Series or Lower Mainland Road Race Series to find specific events. Many follow similar routes, or parts thereof, used by the named races above. A lot of events now use some part of Stanley Park and are not to be missed even in what might be considered ‘off season’. Running in the mists in the Park is special in and of itself, although I DO prefer the sunshine.

Daughter and Dad do Victoria Half - photo by Brightroom

Daughter and Dad do Victoria Half – photo by Brightroom

Before I launch off to more exotic parts, I would be terribly remiss if I did not give a nod to the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon [Half and 8K]. That one is in October (Canadian Thanksgiving). Much of the course runs through a big park and/or along the shore. It definitely rivals those Vancouver routes. For me, it has been a ‘go to’ event since 2000, when I ran my second marathon there. In the last 15 years I have run either the half or full marathon some 11 times. Guess I like it! A lot.

For that matter, so do the kids. I think only once in those eleven times have I run Victoria alone. One or both of Janna (in the picture to the left) and Danielle (big sister) have run the event with me. We don’t always run the same race with one of us sometimes doing the full and the other(s) the Half, but we have been there together more times than not. AND, while we are at it, Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes was launched at the Victoria Marathon weekend.

OK, so what about some of these other more distant and exotic places?

Balinese Beach Path

Balinese Beach Path

I think I’ll start somewhere I’ve run, but not raced – Bali. You might have to ask if that is wise, since you might think it couldn’t get much more exotic. Well, I guess I will take a chance. There are a lot of large resorts in an area known as Nusa Dua, then past there along a narrow peninsula you will find many small resorts. The whole thing is a beach from one end to the other and from one end to the other there is a pathway. What a place for a nice lazy run. Warm? Yes, of course. You are practically at the Equator (south of, to be precise). The thing is, there really is no need to hurry, so just enjoy!

I guess this opens the idea of a few warm places where people tend to vacation, so maybe I’ll just stick with a few of those for the moment. The astute reader will notice there are a lot of beach running photographs in this grouping. What can I say? I love running on beaches when I’m on vacation!

Sunrise over the Reggae Marathon

Sunrise over the Reggae Marathon

I suppose I might as well jump right to my favourite exotic race, the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K, held the first weekend of December in Negril, Jamaica. It is so hard to select one representative photograph that does justice to the event as a race while ignoring all the other wonderful shots I’ve taken of Negril per se, the pre and post-race festivities and the ‘pure’ beach run done on all the other non-race days. I don’t often carry a camera while running, so action shots from the race are few and far between anyway. I decided that for this one, I would post a sunrise shot because the sun rising IS an integral part of the Reggae Marathon. All races start in the dark at 5:15am, so most runners are treated to this sight at some point in whichever race they have chosen to do. So far, I’ve run the Half three times and the 10K once.

Maui Marathon - 2008

Maui Marathon – 2008

But, the Reggae Marathon events were not my first tropical race. Nope, the Maui Marathon in September of 2008 has that honour. Like the Reggae Marathon, it starts early, in the dark. It is emotionally stirring to hear the sound of the drums and Hawaiian prayer just before the start. Running is both flat and not too bad as far as heat goes, until about the time the sun comes up. Now, depending how good a runner you are, full sun is only a factor after half way. However, the year I ran it was one of the hottest ever at 90F with 90% RH! OH, and some VOG (volcanic smog) thrown in to make it a bit more interesting, but what scenery, and most of the second half is, yep, near the beach.

Running at Coolangatta, QLD

Australian beach run – Coolangatta, Queensland

It is hard to decide just what Australian beach to feature, but I think this photograph captures the essence of East Coast Australia. If you look really closely, that is Surfer’s Paradise way in the background. Soft powdered sugar sand is not ideal for running in if you want to go fast, but it sure is fun otherwise.

We have visited Australia a couple of times and I’ve yet to find a race that worked with our timing. Oh well. I am happy to report many great runs along the East Coast (and no, they weren’t all on a beach like this, but near, very near). And then there is the West Coast, where the most spectacular of the selection of runs was near Busselton, where again, there is a beach-side pathway for walking, cycling and running. One thing Australia has no shortage of is white sand and blue water.

But, not every suitable place to run in Australia is beside one ocean or another. In Sydney there is the botanical gardens and in Melbourne, many neighbourhood, riverside and park venues. Some of those were shown to me by a former club member from one of my Canadian running clubs, Pacific Road Runners. These are the hidden gems you will never find without a local to guide you. Yay for the locals!

Greenery at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Greenery at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Just a few of the MANY orchids in the Botanic Garden

Just a few of the MANY orchids in the Botanic Garden

I suppose that while in the area, I have to say I’ve enjoyed a good many runs in Malaysia. We lived there almost two years and I ran as many as five days a week, so indeed I have run in Malaysia. Of course that makes places like Singapore (where I ran my fist EVER tropical run) with its fabulous Botanic Garden where, in the very early morning, you will find walkers, runners and any number of tai chi groups. When I went looking for some great photos of the gardens, I was reminded how hard it is to ignore the scenery in the Garden. So, just enjoy these couple of shots and we will carry on.

It was while living in Malaysia that we made our first visit to Bali. Needless to say, we also used it as a jumping off place for more than one visit to Thailand. Thai’s are renowned for being polite, but the sight of this old geezer jogging along in the sunshine was too much for most of them. I KNOW they thought I was crazy! Not saying that isn’t true. They may have had a point, but I love running in the heat and long ago learned how to keep the pace reasonable and make sure I have water with me and a hat to cover my head.

Big Cottonwood Course

Big Cottonwood Course

Some Locals Watched My Training Run

Some Locals Watched My Training Run

Well, so much for the exotic (by far off location and beauty of the beach). That is hardly where it begins and ends. Mountains go high up there on the list of amazing. As I think about it, I’ve run AND raced through a few mountain areas that rival any beach. My last marathon was the Big Cottonwood Marathon, just outside Salt Lake City, UT. The course provides one breath-taking vista after another (unless that was just the altitude – starts near 9,000 ft). As I was preparing to talk about this race, I recalled that one of my training runs involved the kind of scene you never forget! It is probably not the best photo I’ve ever taken, but it was one of the most delightful scenes with a doe and her young’un. This time, I had my cell with me for safety, so I also had a camera. A fortunate thing!

First Look at Mt Hood - from Leg #1

First Look at Mt Hood – from Leg #1

One mountain race that gets big marks for Spectacular (I’ve done it eight times) is the Hood to Coast Relay. Hard to beat this one. Starts on a mountain and finishes at a beach. Two of my favourite things! Like Singapore above, it is hard to pick the best photo. I’ve got lots of hand-offs and finishes and people drinking beer at the beach at the end, but it is so hard to capture everything about this race, so I just decided to go with a great photo of Mount Hood. This one is probably on the first Leg. (When you are running, you don’t see this. It is behind you, and I generally run Leg #1!)

Half Way to a DFL - Frosty Mountain

Half Way – Frosty Mountain Endurance Race

A mountain that I have hiked a number of times and raced a couple of times is Mount Frosty in Manning Park, BC. The area is truly spectacular and the Frosty Mountain Trail Race is both beautiful and challenging, with a 3800 ft vertical in the first half. I’ve run the race twice. At my pace, it is always worth the stop at the highpoint to take in the view!

Rocky Mountains above Fairmont Hot Springs

Rocky Mountains above Fairmont Hot Springs

Running in the mountains need not mean racing and for that matter, need not mean Summer either. Winter running is a ‘thing’ too. Having lived in places where Winter actually happens (doesn’t all that much around Vancouver), you learn to love the snow and cold (within reason). I’ve had a lot of enjoyable snowy runs, but selected a New Year vacation in the Columbia Valley of BC, with the Rocky Mountains rising majestically over the valley. Deer prints in the snow and what just may have been wolf prints too. Never saw either of the beasts that left the foot prints. Maybe I was too busy staring at those peaks.

Finish Set-Up CIM 2008

Finish Set-Up CIM 2008

Time to wrap this up before I wind up inserting a photo from almost every run I’ve done. However, I am going to say that running down the Napa Valley in the Napa Valley Marathon, or finishing your California International Marathon in front of the State Capital building, OR finishing the Eugene Marathon on Hayward Field, you get some pretty fine scenes to enjoy. How do you compare so many parts of the New York City Marathon to, well, anything?? And then, there is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas “Run the Strip at Night” party. A big surprise was the little park I found hidden in the heart of Kowloon, just across from Hong Kong. So pretty and with so many winding paths that you could get about 2.5km in on a single lap. If I was to start on some of the races that use Stanley Park or even just started talking about the training routes we use along the seaside paths and roads of Vancouver, it would take way too many more words and images and too much of your time. So, I am going to close by going back to something that is a big favourite: the early morning vacation beach run. The photo below was taken just a bit after I had finished my own run on the beach at Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Enjoy!

Morning Joggers

Punta Cana just after sunrise

 

EVERYONE SHOULD RUN NAKED (SOMETIMES)

06.18.2015
The 'ancient' form of "Run Naked"

The ‘ancient’ form of “Run Naked”

OK, we’ll get the obvious out of the way first. There is running naked (as in nude, as in ancient Olympics) and there is the current catchy term of “run naked” (as in no electronics, gadgets or similar).

Personally, I have done both; and while you can do the one just about anywhere, the other demands just a wee bit more discretion. Let me just say that if you aren’t clear which is which, you may want to go review your local civic bylaws before continuing here. I take no responsibility for anyone getting these two mixed up!

I’m not really sure who is hoping for what from this post, but the bulk of it is about the gadgetless form of ‘running naked’. If you were hoping for the other, maybe I’ll deal with it first and then you can go do something else.

Wreck Beach Bare Buns - Start

Wreck Beach Bare Buns – Start

I happen to live where there is an organized, timed, prized, nude race and in the interest of full disclosure, I have done it a number of times (5 or 6 I believe). This is the Wreck Beach Bare Buns Run. Because it is held on a tidal flat, the date and time depend on a suitably low tide to expose the course around the middle of the day. Generally it is near the beginning of August to max out the chance of warm sunny weather. The distance is 5K, but since the exposed beach is relatively small, it requires three laps of a somewhat zig-zag course. The sand is always a little bit different year to year. Depending on the winter storms, you may or may not encounter low spots and ‘puddles’ and in some areas there may be accumulations of sand that can dry out as the tide recedes, becoming interesting obstacles along the way. The wet sand is pretty firm and easy to run on. Wet spots (ankle deep’ish) are also easy enough, but hitting one of those sun-dried soft sand sections, or a deep ‘puddle’ can just kill your legs. Fortunately, it is all for fun, but it is timed and does attract some pretty fair runners. I think the record is about 17 minutes, which is pretty speedy over the course I just described with many tight turns thrown in just for fun. But, “You can leave your shoes on!” (Think Joe Cocker – You Can Leave Your Hat On.)

To run so, is quite liberating, not unlike the other kind of ‘run naked’ which I am about to get into. You can run ‘shy’ but you can’t win unless you go bare. Frankly, when everyone around is in their birthday suit you feel more conspicuous being clothed. A contributor to Running in the Zone (the book), Bart Yasso, has a fabulous chapter in “My Life on the Run” on running a sister race in Washington State.

OK. That’s it. Naked ‘naked running’ is done with now.

Running at Coolangatta, QLD

Australian beach run – Queensland

Seems to be all the rage now to ‘run naked’. That is, to run without a watch or gps system, without music, or any other distractions from JUST RUNNING. One of my favourite vacation things is to run barefoot on a beach, so not even shoes!

Early Morning Beach Runners - Negril, JA

Early Morning Beach Runners – Negril, JA

I suspect there are a lot of relatively new runners out there who may not realize that you CAN run without a Garmin or other gps device. I’ve been thinking about this topic for some while now, but was moved to do something by two things that happened this weekend. One was my own inadvertent naked run, followed by a Facebook post about running naked. And no, it wasn’t from one of my BB Run friends, so it was the non-tech-naked kind of running naked.

I have, for years, been a pace group leader for the Forerunners half and full marathon clinics. Generally, I do run with my trusty Garmin to ensure that I am keeping a proper pace in relation to the group I am leading. It is important to keep the advertised pace, not the one I feel comfortable doing on any given day. These runs are on Saturday mornings. This past Saturday I was up in plenty of time, but somehow got rushing around as the moment of departure neared and off I went, sans-tech. I don’t live anywhere near Forerunners, so once I realized I did not have my little digital friend, there was no going back to get it.

Typical route view on our clinic long run.

Typical route view on our clinic long run.

As it happened, there wasn’t anyone needing my ‘expert assistance’. (Happens this time of year as races start coming fast and furious.) However, the owner of the store who was once Canada’s premier marathoner, wanted to run with me. Off we went with me more than a little apprehensive about how this was going to go. Peter is a lot younger than me and even though his competitive years are well behind him and he endures the aftermath of the rigours of elite racing and training, his comfortable pace is generally not MY comfortable pace. Off we went. We ran, we chatted, sometimes he chatted while I huffed and puffed up a couple of very sturdy hills at the beginning of our 15K route, but I kept up and we ran on.

He is a fountain of historical info on the elite running days of his prime, but he keeps a close eye on the youngsters currently emerging. He knows who they are and what they are doing, and who coaches them and how ‘healthy’ they are at any given moment. Even though I don’t have anything like his wealth of knowledge, I love that sort of thing and he doesn’t usually leave me wondering what he’s talking about. The point is, neither of us had any technology with us while running. We ran and we talked. We knew where we were starting and finishing and that was it.

While it is hardly the first time I’ve ‘run naked’, it really made an impression on me because it was just so free and easy, and kind of pure. Peter still trains to  goals and so do I, but not this past Saturday.

Then, on Sunday, while roaming about on Facebook, a young woman I know posted about how glorious it had been ‘running naked in the sunshine’ of a fabulous late Spring day in Vancouver. She also quickly clarified the tech-free nature of what she meant. Several people chimed in and that was probably when I decided I needed to write this piece.

I guess there are people out there who run naked all the time. Those people just run. They generally don’t race. It is much easier when the whole point is just running for the pure joy of it. With a goal, the dynamic changes. PR, BQ, Podium. Those don’t happen without some attention to detail. Technology can help. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

One part of technology enhanced running that I don’t understand is music. I have never run with music. I so much prefer the idea of listening to the sound of my surroundings, my own breathing, footfalls on road or trail. I gather that some use music for the very purpose of obliterating some of those things – a distraction. I judge not, but feel that where safety is involved (in traffic or crowded race fields) music represents a danger. ‘Nuff said on that, except that when it comes to running naked, the music needs to stay home too. If you must ‘tune out’ from what you are doing, trying letting yourself slide into a meditative state (my topic in the Running in the Zone book).

Even a watch is kind of a tech tool, but is not of much use if you don’t have external distance markers, or even milestones to use it against as a form of pace monitoring. I do know people who run for a pre-determined time rather than using a route or distance. They just run out for Xhr/2 and then turn around and run back. For that you need some kind of timing device, or you will actually be running to distance. Otherwise, these folks pretty much run naked.

Running the forest trails.

Running the forest trails.

For the most part, I have a bunch of known training routes, so if I’m running on those routes, I’m probably using my technology. When I want to ‘just run’, there are some really nice wooded trails near here and I will just go for a lope through that bit of “urban forest”. Nothing like a quiet forest for a peaceful run.

So, getting back to the time and pace technology as promised above, truth be told, (and I’m not sure how many others do this), I don’t much consult my gps while running but rather after I get home and download to the computer where I can review what I really did. There are two times I do watch my Garmin. One is when I am pacing the training group. The other time is early in a race where I have a terrible tendency to start too fast.

Finishing in front of the 'Leg'

Finishing in front of the ‘Leg’

We tend to think of ‘run naked’ as a non-race thing, but that isn’t necessarily the case. The last best race I ran was the Victoria (Half) Marathon in 2012. I did have the Garmin, but I ran as much as I possibly could to a constant effort – that is, how I felt. When I reviewed the race later, I saw it was the closest I’ve ever come to the mythical negative split. Think there was maybe 10 seconds difference between the first and second half splits, and the time for last mile was almost identical to the first. This was probably as close as I come to “Racing Naked” these days! Got me thinking that maybe I should wear the gps unit in my next race (for the post-race records) but tape over the display and just run on feel. Hmmmm. Well, if I do, you will be the first to know.

So really, it is not hard to see how you can get caught up with your technology. As I said above, and just a little tongue in cheek, there are probably some relatively new runners that don’t know you CAN run without these things.

There is a school of thought that using the technology reduces our natural ability to sense pace. I’m not sure about that. At one point, I could ‘feel’ my pace very accurately. However, as I got older and well before we had gps devices to guide us, I started to feel that my inner sensor just wasn’t doing it. I kind of assume that when you can sense pace intuitively it is because you are fit and strong and know what it feels like to do a certain pace. As I have aged and as it gets harder to do the same things, abilities for sensing pace seem to diminish. One commentator on the running naked post on Facebook, a friend and good runner, offered that relying on technology may be stripping us of that inner sense. I’m sure there is some truth to that point of view, but I also think a lot of it is done on how it feels, so if it just becomes harder to do the same things, then you can’t go quite as accurately ‘by feel’. As you age, it seems there are more unexpected ups and downs that may not even be related to running as such, but which certainly impact how you ‘feel’ at any given time.

I often counsel my clinic charges that the best way to race a longer distance is to try to maintain a constant effort as I mentioned above re the Victoria Half Marathon. That isn’t quite the same as knowing your pace. For constant effort, use your comfortable pace on the flats. Maintain how that effort feels while going up a hill (you WILL go slower) and down the other side (you will go faster, but not as fast as you could). That is NOT even splits or pace, but rather even effort. Unless you are truly ‘one with your Garmin’ it can’t help you measure constant effort.

Another reason I use my Garmin is it represents an easy way to record and track my mileage. It also lets me chronicle my races for detailed review and instruction for future races. I am all for progress and modern technology as long as it enhances and doesn’t take over.

Charlie celebrates running into new territory (distance)!

Charlie celebrates running into new territory (distance)!

As I have written this and thought about it, I probably actually run ‘semi-naked’ most of the time. Huh?

Unless I have a very specific reason for consulting my tech device mid-run, I do run a lot on feel, regardless of whether I am as good at it as I once was. I won’t say I don’t sneak a look sometimes to see how far I’ve gone and/or how far I have to go. Generally that isn’t necessary in races, as they have distance markers but on training runs it is sometimes good to know. One exception was about a week ago when I ran my first race with our oldest grandson. Charlie had never run more than 2km and he was stepping up to 5K, actually 5.4K. As we passed the 2K point I let him know he was in new territory and that I was very proud of him. As each K ticked off, I announced that he had now run 3K, 4K and even 5K, because we were still 400m from the finish as we went through 5K. I think it gave him motivation and we finished strong!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has discovered the joy of just running, but if you’ve been caught up in training and the technology to enhance it, including music, give a thought to getting out there now and then with just the bare minimum and run in the moment.

So. Who is up for a bit of naked running?

Your choice. Either kind. Actually, you COULD do both at the same time as long as you pick the right place. Now THAT would be liberating!!!

THE FAMILY THAT RUNS TOGETHER….

06.07.2015
And, the first race IS done!

And, the first race IS done!

Welcome to Phase II of Charlie Runs With His Grandad!

Well, that wasn’t what the previous post was called, but this IS the report of my big FIRST race with my grandson, Charlie. I suppose I could keep this really short and say it went great and I am so proud of him and happy to have been able to do this. But, what would be the fun in that???

We were both ‘into’ it ever since the idea came up a few months ago. Frankly, because through school and his min-tris, Charlie had only ever run about 2-2.5km, I had been looking around for a 3K somewhere. Not so easy, because there aren’t that many in the first place and secondly because we don’t exactly live in the same neighbourhood. In any case, Charlie was sure he was good to do a 5K and the Giant’s Head Run was right where he lives. Bonus on that was that it was the first official race I ever ran in my adult or second running career. Seemed the perfect fit. Oh, and just as a little extra challenge, the Giant’s Head 5K is really 5.4km. As long as I’ve known the race, it has used this course, so I guess instead of shortening to a true 5K upon finding it was a tad long, they just decided to be honest and call it what it is – 5.4K.

As was not unusual in the Okanagan at this time of year, it was also hot and sunny. That is one of the reasons they run the race in the evening.

Package Pick-Up - Check

Package Pick-Up – Check

We started off the day with a visit to Action Fest and to package pick-up and learned Charlie was #18 and I had #20. Did they think we were elites??

Apparently, it was mostly to do with how eager we were to sign up online! It was fun to dream for a moment though.

As race time drew near, I think we were both a bit nervous. We had never run together and Charlie had never run so far. We had our customized race hats on, complete with autographed brims. We each signed our names to the hats so we would each have a souvenir of the momentous event. I’m not sure about Charlie, but I know mine is going on the wall with other racing memorabilia, never to be worn in a race again.

Soon enough it was race time. And, we were off like a bunch of jack rabbits. I was trying more of the turtle approach, but Charlie felt we should run ‘medium’ – not too fast (his Mom and I had drummed that into him) but not TOOO slow either. I understood that, so let him go a little bit for the first few hundred metres before I reminded him of our plan. You will be pleased to know that I do not intend to describe every step of the race. What I will say is that Charlie got the picture fast that by taking it “medium” and even walking at strategic moments, we were already passing a lot of those runners that had gone out like little bullets. This is far from a flat race and most of the first half of it is more or less up. It rolls, but it is generally going up. Charlie started to get the rhythm and soon enough it was him calling the walk breaks and the runs. He was good at it too, conserving energy in the hot sun and running easily and smoothly when we did run. I was so impressed! Charlie is not quite nine, so this was pretty mature action on his part.

downhill

Almost done and a nice fast down bit to finish!

It didn’t take long before we were in new territory (distance) for him. I was wearing my Garmin to keep track of distance and pace. I announced the milestones as we went. It also helped that we had our bike-mounted photo and cheering team  (aka Charlie’s Mom and Dad) that popped up hera and there along the course. One feature of this route is that with just around 1K to go, you get back about half of the uphill climbing you had to do in the first half!

It was a struggle but our personal papparaza made it to the finish in time to catch our triumphant dash to the ‘tape’!

Cool water and a run well done!

Cool water and a run well done!

After what was a long and very hot race, we enjoyed some cooling refreshments, toasting our accomplishment and very first race. Charlie is clearly a wise beyond his years runner. He began incentifying his effort around 4K with visions of the soft-serve cone he wanted post-race. As you can see by my face, it looked pretty delicious!

Tutti-Frutti, Orange Cone.

Tutti-Frutti, Orange Cone.

I debated quitting now, but this is my story too. Earlier in the day we ran into some old friends and running buddies from faster times (for all of us). Don and Linda were very good runners back in those days and it brought back lots of memories. Anyway, cutting to the chase, when all was said and done I was a bit surprised and a whole lot pleased to learn that Charlie had paced me to a Third Place M60+ and Don had taken Silver! I know one thing for sure, this podium sharing was not a part of the past!

Apparently, we are planning for the 10K next year!  I guess we’ll see about that, but you never know!