Saturday, April 26, 2008

Week of April 21 to 27

Lynda, you make us proud :>)
This from Lynda who writes from Boston:  It was an unbelievable run yesterday.  No matter if I looked ahead or behind me in every direction there were thousands of runners.  The crowds were amazing too, yelling and cheering the whole way, sometimes 5, or 6 deep.  They gave out everything along the way, from the usual oranges to red liquorices and Fig Newton’s. It was the running experience of a lifetime.  I felt great.  There had been lots of warnings about going slow at the beginning because the hills, leading up to Heartbreak Hill started at around mile 16 and went up to about mile 21.  It felt so good to crest that last hill and know that you just had over 5 miles to go.  I almost couldn't believe that I was there.  When I rounded that last corner and could see the finish line about 1/2 mile ahead, I nearly cried.  When I did hit the finish line I did cry. They wrapped you in foil and you walked along for your medal and refreshments along with all these other shiny foil bodies.  The whole event, from the Athlete's Village in Hopkinton to the finish line in Boston was incredible!  
The picture above shows Lynda and number 1 fan, Dick.  Dick is a walker extraordinaire in his own right.  Notice Lynda's 26.2 posture! Way to go Lynda; you make us mere mortals so proud!  
Accolades are also sent to David. The Boston Marathon was David's 26th marathon.  Vivian, no slump herself, is proud of David's "Champagne Marathon" (26/26) and has been planning the big finish line event for weeks. Notice the glass of champagne in David's hand.  Vivian also had a spiffy "Go David" banner with signatures and good cheers and tidings from all his running pals. Congratulations David! 
Ryan's a dad!  Congratulations to Ryan and Sherie and welcome to little Madie! My apologies to Maddie for the environmental mess we grown-ups have left for you. My son Max and his friends are working hard to make this old world a better place for you. 
Tuesday, 4 miles, 12 miles (cycling): There were 60+ runners this morning.  The distances ranged from 2 k (little kids) to 7.25 k (big kids).  I accompanied about a dozen runners to the pole (as in "kiss the pole"... see previous post).  It was a little chilly this morning, but still in the comfortable range for the little ones.  It's gratifying having such a large number of parents join us; they're mostly moms with strollers, but there's the occasional dad.  So much of what children learn is through observing positive life choices of their parents and later, their peers.  The best we parents and teachers can do is model the character and beliefs we hold dear and hope that our children learn well.  Teach your children well, right Neil?   Speaking of modeling behaviour, I cycled to work today in honor of Old Mother Earth Day.  I used the road bike, which is super fast, but not a good choice for city commuting.  It was a good little early morning spin; wish you were there!

Wednesday, (3 miles):  I took about 50 students and 8 adults to the Manitoba Marathon sponsored, Jog In The Park at Assiniboine Park.  It was pretty darn chilly, but the organizers had us dancing and hopping about while we waited for the official start.  Just about every mascot under the sun attended.  It was indeed a happening place for the pre-pubescent set!  There were 2700 kids in attendance from all over the province. It was a superbly organized event and tonnes of fun for the kids.   All 50 students and 8 adults from our school waited at the finish line and cheered like crazy each time one of our students crossed. The last student from our school was a little girl in grade 1 who crossed the line on the shoulders of a teacher!  She got the biggest cheer of all! It was such an amazing experience to witness young people being so kind and encouraging to one another, especially the grade 8 kids who can be so aloof.  As a teacher close to retirement it is gratifying seeing the ranks filled with young, energetic, caring, and committed professionals.   Hats off to the organizers of the Jog In The Park especially Craig Lawrence who has put in hours upon hours of time planning this event and communicating with teachers all over the city. Craig has moved on over to Park City Runners on Portage Avenue close to the Assiniboine Park foot bridge.  Craig's departure is  big loss to The Manitoba Marathon and a huge gain to Park City Runners!  Thanks Craig.  I skipped hill training this evening.  I have had a headache for the last couple of days and my workload at school is insane (hmm, wonder if they're related?).  I'm listening to my body and I'm resting.  I plan to lay low until after The Police Half Marathon on Sunday.

Thursday, Run Club, 2 miles, about 50 kids:  Left the Harley at home today :>).  The storm blew in at around 5:30 this morning putting the nail in the coffin for running outdoors with kids; they're most definitely fair weather runners.  Plan B is to run laps in our gym with loud, very, very loud "pump up the jam" kind of rap, rock stuff that works for the kids.  We are fortunate enough to have one of the largest school gymnasiums in the province.  The gym has huge winch type curtains that can separate the big gym into three smaller gyms.  One of our smaller gyms is about the size of a typical middle school gym.  We invented a game called "tag it forward" involving three sponge balls.  The rules are simple; you must bean a runner ahead of you with the ball.  The kids absolutely love this game and could play it for hours.  It's spices the run up hugely and gets them to speed train (although they're not aware of speed training, they're just having fun).  We ran for about 35 minutes so I gave them each 3 kilometers towards their goal. We ended with a well deserved freezy. I did not attend the clinic this evening.  I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed with work so I need some down time in the evening to rest up for The Cops Run on Sunday.  I know, excuses, excuses.

Saturday:  Today I passed City Park Runners on my way to pick up my race kit.  I pulled over to get a few gels. Along with the gels I bought a pair of fancy shmancy New Balance running tights on a whim.  There was a time I would have been embarrassed to wear such tights, but now they feel comfortable like a pair of well worn cotton pyjamas!  My friend Doug McPherson has been singing the praises of City Park Runners for over a year, but I've never had the opportunity to drop by, until now.  What a great store!  The service was terrific, the selection impressive, and the friendliness of the staff and patrons was great.  The store is owned by Cheryll and Erick.  I highly recommend you drop by, you'll be pleased.  For those of you who know Craig Lawrence you'll have heard by now that he recently left his positionat Manitoba Marathon.  What you might not know however, is that he now works at City Park Runners.  Another good reason to drop by!  

Sunday, Winnipeg Police Run For Cancer Half Marathon, 13 miles, 8.43 pace

5:30 AM:  Last evening I told my darlin' wife that I'm happy with my decision to lay low this past week.  I feel rested and at ease.  I have the pre-race jitters, but that's a good sign.  Today's race mantra starting at around mile 10 is from Ben Lee's "New Song" ...I know I'm gonna make it through and I know I'm gonna do it all.  (repeat as needed) Here's hoping it helps.  

Breakfast... coffee, whole grain toasted bagel, peanut butter, 6 grapes the size of oranges (genetically modified?), 1 glass water.  Temperature at 5:30 AM is -6 degrees Celsius (about 29 F) with a -12 wind chill (man, thought I heard the last of wind chill for a while).  Forecast calls for a sunny day with a high of + 5 c. Let's get-atter!

7:25 AM:  Met John at the Zoo parking lot and waited until 7:30 for anyone else who planned to join us. No one arrived so we did a slow jog to the new pavilion by the duck pond for a N.P. (nervous pee).  We then headed straight for the start line where we mingled and saw many old running friends.  I saw Andrea there and I told her I had just heard her on the CBC; how could she possibly be here so quickly?  We ditched our warm clothes and headed over to the start. Excitement was a-buzz in the air as it always is on race day.  The ten minute countdown is always my favourite part of the race.  Laughing, hugging, good cheers, and stretching abound as people burn off the pre-race jitters.

7:45:  John and I head over to the 2:00 corral and cue in near the front.  John figures out we need to move up one corral so under the tape we go.  Vivian and Gwen are running together so we chat with them for a few minutes and then start to focus on our own race.  We see Dianah and give her a hug.  The whole crowd gives the athletes in wheel chairs a twenty second countdown starting at about 7:55. Boom they're off!  We then wait and hop about waiting for our countdown.

8:00:  We get a fly-by from an old army green military plane and then the horn sounds.  We move slowly at first and pick up speed as the crowd lunges forward.  Hundreds of beeps sound as the runners cross the electronic starting mat.  We crossed several mats and I didn't know which was the electronic mat so I started my Garmin a full 5 seconds too early... no matter.  Within a 1/2 mile I realized I had my Garmin set to kilometers for my school run club!  Duh! "Hmmm something like 1.6 kilometers = 1 mile"... mental math on the fly...  I figured a 5:30 m/k pace is pretty close to a 8:45 m/m pace,  It sure  felt like the pace I wanted and John confirmed with his Garmin so I locked in on 5:30 m/k.

The race:  I wasn't feeling strong for the first mile or so; my heart seemed to be working way too hard and my body felt stiff and tired.  By the time we met the bag pipers on Wellington Crescent this had passed and I was feeling good.  Terry and several others (sorry I couldn't recognize the two others) were standing curb side cheering.  It's amazing how encouraging it is to have a familiar face call your name from the side. We saw Terry and crew several times over the course of the race as they moved from one location to another.  Just as I was starting to feel a little tired or started to concentrate on pain, there was Terry and now Sandra!  Amazing, as if they new just the right spot to stand.  Thank you for being there!  Four of my running club kids were volunteering at water stations.  I got pumped up from seeing them and they looked pretty excited from seeing me at an actual race.

The mid part of the race is pretty uneventful.  We hooked up with Debbie and Rodica for a bit and then got separated.  John went over on his heal, which in 99% of cases is curtains for runners, but somehow he managed to soldier on.  He was just behind me when I heard the stumble and then a very polite  "darn"... now many a person faced with a similar adversity would have chosen a slightly stronger *&%^$ word, but not John, a gentleman to the end.  Good on you John.  

Gwen and Vivian were looking amazingly strong.  I had them in my sights for most of the race.  I could catch them on their walk intervals, but then they'd zoom past me.  I'm confident they both accomplished sub-2 hour times.  I wouldn't surprised if they both set new P.B.'s.  Well done lasses!  You were the belles of the race.  Oh, cute race story involving Vivian and David.  At about mile 10 I saw this women in front of me dash to the curb, kiss someone and then dash back into the race.  I realized it was Vivian kissing David who was cheering from the side... cute!  What a great team, Vivian cheering David curbside in Boston, David cheering Vivian curbside at The Cop's Run.

That familiar voice in my head started talking to me at about mile 11.  You know the one, it goes something like this... what are you doing?  wouldn't you rather walk?  why don't you just slow down, no one will care... Shush voice, SHUSH!  That last couple of miles of any race is always the worst.  The physical and the mental work in tandem to quash your dreams.  This is where focus and visualizing comes in to play.  My mantra, I know I'm gonna make it through and I know I'm gonna do it all, came in real handy around this time.  I actually said it out loud several times and one runner agreed that he would too!  The mantra pushes the negative stuff out of your head and helps one focus on form and strength.

At mile 12.5 on Portage Avenue, that sea of concrete and wind, I saw Terry, Sandra, and crew again. They yelled 1/2 mile to go.  I new at that point I was sub 2 hour, but I wasn't sure how I was doing.  I realized that, although a good time, it wouldn't be a PB.  Oh well, there's always the next one.  I poured it on and flew in to cheers and hugs.  Unofficial time is 1 hour, 57 minutes, 23 seconds, about 2 minutes shy of a new P.B.  Yup, there's always the next one.

9:57ish:  Finished!  Thanks to everyone for helping me cross the line; all you runners and friends are good people and you have provided me with the spirit and the energy to cross yet another line.  Thanks so much for coaxing me off the couch, laughing at my corny jokes, and for allowing me to lead when truthfully I really don't know where I am half the time!  Thank you; you're all wonderful people.  A special thank you is extended to Nick Paulet of the Winnipeg Police Department who has worked 24-7 making this race to premiere 1/2 marathon event in Winnipeg. Thanks to Nick's vision over $100,000 has been raised for cancer research.  Good on you Nick!

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