Wednesday, May 27, 2009

10 Things I Wouldn't Like to Run Into

1. A bear. There are a lot of bears in Pemberton, where we spend most weekends. Apparently the LAST thing you should do if you see them is run. SO, what if you're running and he sees you first???
2. A pack of youths. Especially if they've been drinking. Apparently the LAST thing you should do if you see them is run...

(Me running in Pemberton, no bears in sight)

3. Another racoon (yes I've run into them before) . They are not cute. They are rather fierce looking little creatures with jagged teeth and sharp claws. Yeah, I know, what isn't cute about that?

4. A shootout. It's a bit like the Wild West out here lately, except instead of duels between men with names like Whiskey Joe and Willy One Arm, there are turf wars going on between gangs with names like the Red Scorpions and the United Nations.

5. People copulating on the beach. I do a lot of evening runs and some of my routes take me past secluded beaches. Places where people like to go on dates. Luckily so far I haven't had any unfortunate views of gross stuff. 6. A foot. Last year there were a lot of news stories about feet washing up on the shores of British Columbia. Left foot in sneaker, right foot in tennis shoe, etc... Well I haven't come across one of those so far and that's ok by me. 7. A snake. I don't care how tiny or how harmless, I don't like the way they slither. Actually I don't like the fact they don't have legs. 8. Quicksand. Especially if it was starting to get dark outside and I couldn't extract a hand to reach my cell phone. And there wasn't a vine hanging down arms-length away. 9. A landslide. This is most likely to occur when I'm on the far side of Stanley Park in Vancouver. The seawall there was actually closed for quite a few months in 2007 after a huge storm caused several slides. This is a rather narrow path with a rocky shoreline on one side and a sheer cliff rising up hundreds of feet on the other. Nice view though...
(CTV News photo of landslide, November 13, 2008
10. My arch rival. Actually, this is a fantasy. I wish I was competitive enough to warrant a running nemesis, but sadly I'm not. One can dream...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Race Report: Capitol Hill Classic 10K

Sunday morning we woke up to pouring rain, darkened skies, and the crackling of distant thunder. Not exactly the conditions one would hope for on a race day in May. Undaunted, my friends Kate & Ben and I piled into their Mazda along with Murphy the dog and made the quick trip from Arlington, Virginia to Capitol Hill.

As Kate and I warmed up and looked for the starting line, Ben and Murphy went to park the car and find a spot to cheer. We were beyond happy to find the weather had cleared up and conditions were now perfect for a road race.

About 15 minutes before gun time we queued up in front of the starting line with about 2000 other athletes and I got my Garmin 405 all synched up so I could keep track of our pace. I'd vowed to help Kate get in between 1:00 and 1:05. We were inspired by the promise of a milkshake and Obama burger at "Good Stuff" as a "Very Special Bonus" for making it in under an hour. This would be no mean feat. Kate admits a disdain for running and had not been training for the 10K distance. She had set her previous P.R. of 1:06:30 a mere 6 weeks prior at the "Cooper River Bridge Run" in Charleston, South Carolina. Her goal time would require a 6 minute improvement!
(Kate getting her number at package pick-up on Saturday)
I decided to try to keep our pace a bit under 9:30 and to allow for walk breaks at all the water stations. I knew about "THE HILL" around mile 5 (that would be Capitol Hill, and yes, its a doozy) - so I hoped we'd feel fresh when we arrived there and have a little bit left for a strong finish.
(Kate humours me by posing with her bib, yes that's a smirk)
The race took us through old, established residential neighbourhoods with leafy green canopies, around Robert F. Kennedy Stadium (which did involve a small uphill) and past the Capitol Building (which I paused to photograph).
(Me with my race T-shirt, and past T-shirt designs behind me)
Around mile 4 we got a glimpse of The Hill and were forced to run down it, while avoiding eye contact with the poor souls running up. Their eyes seemed to say "Don't go that way". But we did anyway. We were passed by the two leaders, neck and neck, striding up the street like nobody's business.
(Kate attaches her "D-tag", which replaced the traditional chip at this race, a first for me)
Kate did better than I could have hoped. She easily maintained the pace I set, slowing down when necessary and speeding up when I gave her the go ahead. Not until about 3/4 of the way up The Hill did I notice any sort of fatigue set in, and even then Kate dug deep and kept on running.
(Apparently there's no martini drinking allowed in DC parks)
About 500m from the finish I gently suggested we speed up as much as possible and Kate mumbled something like "I can't do this", thinking only I could hear her. But the lady in front of us half turned around at that and yelled "YES you can". Something about that phrase seemed fitting considering our location. And moments later our spirits were buoyed with the sight and sound of Ben cheering and, as it turned out later, fumbling with the camera to get a GREAT shot of us both smiling and giving the "Thumbs up". We only found out later there were no batteries in the camera.
(Runners waiting for the starting gun)
Moments later we crossed the line together with a chip time of 1:00:33. Kate started to feel better after taking a gel and eventually the feeling in her extremities came back.
(Well deserved post-race nosh, that's the Obama burger BTW)
I would highly recommend this race and would love to do it again in the future. I found it well organized and the participants were enthusiastic and friendly. For the most part it's a fast course with lots of gentle downhills.

(Me and Chef Spike at the "Good Stuff Eatery")

My only complaints are that the race course might have been a bit long (according to my Garmin we were finished about 300 m before the finish line) AND the event photographer failed to catch us. Be sure to treat yourself at the "Good Stuff Eatery" afterwards. It's worth the effort.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fundraising Update

A million thanks to everyone who's already donated to my BC SPCA fund for the Scotiabank Half-Marathon Charity Challenge! Don't forget, the charity that raises the most will receive an additional $5000 from Scotiabank! Here are the standings as of today: Top 3 Fundraising Charities (Online Pledges Only) 1. BC SPCA ($4,062.50) 2. BC Cancer Foundation ($3,697.00) 3. BC Children's Hospital Foundation ($3,050.00) Top Individual Fundraisers 1. Leanne Wood ($1,670.00-BC Children's Hospital Foundation) 2. Nicole B. ($1,055.00 -BC SPCA) 3. Derek Shepherd ($1,017.20-Adoptive Families Association of BC) 4. David Porte ($1,001.19-The Arthritis Society) 5. Tanya Peace ($775.00-Heart and Stroke Foundation) 6. Cecilia Garcia ($736.56-The Arthritis Society) 7. Karen Levy ($730.00-BC Cancer Foundation) 8. Suzy Grass ($625.00-The Multiple Sclerosis Society) 9. Michelle McCaughran ($575.00-BC SPCA) 10. Louie Maione ($555.00 -Adoptive Families Association of BC)
(My inspiration, Freddie, 2001-2009)