Friday, October 19, 2012

Point Douglas Run 2012, Race Report

Oh love we can dance, we can dance, we can dance
As long as we dance in the thick of it
As one

Royal Wood, In the Thick of It, We Were Born To Glory

If fun, smiles, and community are a measurement of success than this, the first annual Point Douglas Run, was a runaway 5-star hit.  The registration numbers started slow, nerve wracking for the planning committee. They trickled in ... 65 on Wednesday, 85 on Friday, but then on Saturday, magically 50 walk-up registrants appeared for a whopping 135 runners and walkers by sunny gun-time.  

The race director was all smiles and bubbles as she danced in the thick of it with crooked lady-bug wings. Everywhere smiles, everywhere laughter, everywhere blessed moments crackled like fire. The big old Norquay Community Centre radiated with positive energy. The smell of fresh coffee, toast, and scrambled eggs wafted throughout. It was such a good day to be alive.  So positive and such affirmation of all that is good.  Such a fine race and such good folks in this community. They put on a party and they opened the doors wide for all diversity.  We danced as one in old Point Douglas, in the thick of it, we danced as one.

In his blessing the elder spoke
eloquently of the irony... I paraphrase... 
We hear of bad things in our neighbourhood, we hear that bad people live in our neighbourhood,  all the news is bad, and yet now,when I look upon all of you, with the sun and the clouds, the young and the old, all I see is goodness.  All about me I see hope and promise.
Thought bubbles popped up all around as the elder spoke...'hope and promise'... 'young and old'... 'yellow, red, black, and white'... 'blue, blue sky'... 'sun shining'.... 'river flowing'... 'all I see is goodness'. Yup, I don't know about you but that imagery kinda makes me tear-up a bit.  The wisdom of the Elders runs deep.

The course hugged the north bank of the Red River and seemed to find every hill in Winnipeg!  Check the profile...

It's an out-and-back course that is mostly pavement but a couple of kilometers are hard packed gravel.  Much of the course snakes it way through Grand Old North End along Burrows Scotia, and Cathedral.  It's a pretty route that is steeped in history and charm.  

Although the course was marked sparsely there were enough strategically placed volunteers to prevent confusion.  The few runners that did veer off course were quickly herded back enroute. The course markers were set up the evening previous and apparently some were removed by mischievous folks.  This may have caused a little uncertainty for the lead runners - those speedy guys, they're always getting lost ;>) - The course was also marked with yellow ribbons which really helped with navigation.  Perhaps more yellow ribbons would have helped clarify the course.

There were plenty of water stations placed just where you would expect them to be. The Dixie Cups were tiny. They held a couple of sips at most. I used two cups at each water station and even that wasn't quite enough. I like the idea of small cups to minimize wastage, but perhaps these cups were a little too small for runners working up a steam.  It wasn't a hot race so hydration wasn't a real issue, but watch out in the heat!

The volunteers were simply perfect.  They cheered enthusiastically and they smiled warmly.  Some may not appreciate the goodness of what they do so let's take a moment to remind ourselves about volunteering.  Hmm, I wonder what Wiki would say? altruistic activity intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. It is considered as serving the society through one's own interests, personal skills or learning, which in return produces a feeling of self-worth and respect, instead of money. Volunteering is also famous for skill development, socialization and fun.
Yikes!... and you thought you were just handing out water to strange runners in tu-tus!  Sort of puts it into perspective, don't you think?

The Point Douglas Race is not an officially timed event.  There was a clock at the start line and finish line for those that needed it and some wore Garmins.  Personally, I loved the fact that it was a non-timed event.  Timed runs are a different beast and tend to bring out a competitive spirt. I'm just as competitive as the next runner, however it was liberating to just run for the fun of it. To leave the Garmin at home and pack a tu-tu in its place... now THAT'S liberating!  I hope The Point Douglas Run planning committee leaves it just that way... it ain't broke so don't fix it.

Thank you Point Douglas Run Committee for a really fine event.  I know you will be back again next year so we won't say goodbye, let's part with a runner's adieu ... see you on the trails!

It's a good day to be alive, dancing in the thick of it as one.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Twin City Marathon 2012, Race Report

It was everything I had hoped for.  When we came down John Ireland Boulevard she was just absolutely beaming. It was so much fun.

Mark Brunvold 

I can't say I burned the course but I did warm it up a little. Here's some statistics that will surely cure Jo's insomnia:


  • Average Pace: 10:01
  • Overall Placement: 4985th out of 8780 runners (56th percentile)
  • Gender Placement: 3302 out of 5095 males (64th percentile)
  • Age Placement: 159th out of 314 males in the 55 to 59 age group (51st percentile)
  • Overall time: 4:22:18
What do I take from these numbers?  Simply, I'm a middle of the pack runner, slightly faster than most my age, but no Gebrselassie ... always have been, always will be. And you know what... that's alright.

The foot race was won by Kenyan, Christopher Kipyego with a time of 2:14:53 and Jeanette Faber of Portland Oregan with a time of 2:32:37.  The wheelers was won by Saul Mendoza of North Carolina with a time of 2:14:53. Now, these three burned up the course!

There were so many highlights that I don't know where to begin.  I'm a list sort-of-guy so when in doubt.. make a list:

See Mike Run's highlights of the Twin Cities Marathon...

  • Bumping into my old friend Martial wandering the HHH Metro-dome at 7:00 AM.
  • The young person who took my sweat bag and offered to double tie it for me... she was so sweet.
  • The conversation with a couple of strangers waiting in line at the toilet.. can guys really become best friends for 7 minutes and then depart with no expectations of ever seeing one another again? Of course, yes... it's liberating ... a friendship with no strings.
  • Printing 'Scarlet' on the back of my bib at 6 AM with a borrowed sharpie.
  • Meeting Katie.
  • Meeting Katie's partner.
  • Seeing Katie's Team on the course.
  • Starting with my very fast friend, Winston... he's come so far as a runner... 
  • Watching Winston swim fluidly through the crowds until he simply slipped away from sight.
  • Bumping into David and Melissa at the HHH Metro-dome
  • Catching up to David and Melissa at mile 16 :>)
  • The energy of the start line
  • The sweetness of the finish line
  • The 20-somethings dressed in robot costumes, dancing with a sign that read "26.2 miles... does not compute"
  • The 350,000 cheering-like-mad spectators... wow, what can one say about the spectators? Wow! 
  • Running along both banks of the Mississippi.
  • Melissa saying to me at mile 24 "my mouth hurts from smiling so hard."
  • David running ahead, finding a group of teens, leading them in a cheer "Go Mike Go" as I ran by... they cheered wildly.
  • The leaves.
  • Mile 24... Jon on my mind.
  • Mile 25... Mandi on my mind.
  • Mile 26... emotions running high... Scarlet on my mind.
  • My right knee buckling mid-stride 100 metres from the finish line only to recover in a nano-second.
  • Crossing the line in the sand... that sweet, sweet line.
  • Holding the hips of the volunteer to brace myself as she placed a medal around my neck... her smile was genuine and beautiful.
  • The coffee, oh the coffee, black as night, hot as embers.
  • The shower.
  • The after burn.
  • The nap... the luxurious nap, so deep, so deserving, so satisfying.
Yes, there were many highlights, but the highest point of the race, the moment where truth collided with ego begins thus...

The highlight of the race for me was watching Mark Brunsvold and his 14 year old daughter Amanda run the course.  Amanda is a young athlete with Retts Syndrome and her dad is ...well... he's just a dad, but such an extraordinary dad. Retts Syndrome is a degenerative neurological disorder that almost exclusively affects girls. Mark pushed his daughter the full 26.2 miles in a specially designed racing chair. Amanda is not able to communicate verbally so she bobs her head when she wants to go faster.  On the final stretch her head bobbed furiously urging her poor dad to reach deep into the tank. I was truly humbled in their presence and I don't use that word lightly.  

Their time? ... an amazing 3:51:58.  If Kipyego and Faber burned up the course, Amanda and Mark incinerated it!

Courage and determination are defined in many different ways.

It's a good day to be alive.

:>)  M