Archive for May, 2016


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.