Running Plans for 2017

Seeing how it’s already the middle of January, I reckon it’s time to lay out my running plan for 2017; there will be new races, familiar races and a race to celebrate Canada.

Next month I will be running the hypothermic half in Saint John for the second time. When I mention that I will be running this race most people ask me if I’m nuts as this is a hilly course. The alternative would be to run in a boring industrial park in Moncton and that just seems like a waste.

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May will see myself, my partner Nicola and a host of people gather in Fredericton for its race weekend. This time around I will be running the half marathon. This will be my second or third time running this distance in Fredericton…interesting side note, this was where I ran my first half marathon in 2011.

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Later in May will be the big, destination, celebrate Canada, race for the year, the Ottawa marathon. This is one of the biggest races in Canada and with it being the 150th birthday year for Canada we expect the race to be extra special. I will be running it with my love Nicola and our good friends Rod and Joanna, the excitement will be hard to contain as the date draws near!

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Then….crickets.

Yup, I have nothing planned for a number of months aside from training. I really want to focus on my distances at the half level and lower.

In Septemeber I will be running my first trail race in Fundy national park of 10 km. This is also a hilly course but I am looking forward to mixing up my race experiences and there won’t be any mosquitos in September!

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In October Nicola and I will head to Nova Scotia to participate in the Valley harvest weekend, again over the half distance. It will be my second time at this distance and Nicola’s first crack. This year the race is celebrating it’s 25th year so we are again hopeful that the swag, which is usually quite good, will be even better! This race occurs over the Thanksgiving weekend which will give me a chance to visit my parents.

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Tentatively, I may run the new 1 mile race in Saint John in August and perhaps run the beer run again, also in August. I would like to run the 10k race in Moncton in October after a good summer/fall of training to see if I can set a new PB. I set my current PB for 10k there and really love the second half of the course.

Who knows what small races I may wake up and drive to over the summer ,however I would really love to enjoy my weekends this summer with minimal racing intrusions, so they may be few and far in-between.

Right now the spectre of winter training continues to gnaw at my brain but as the weather improves, my excitement for this year will grow.

Where are you racing this year?

Chris

One Foot in Front of the Other

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Race Review – Johnny Miles Half Marathon

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If you talk to a lot of runners around the maritimes you will inevitably hear a lot of great words about the Johnny Miles race that is held in New Glasgow near the end of June. It’s often referred to as the small town race with the big race atmosphere. I had been intrigued for a few years but having run the Miramichi Rock and Run the last two years, on the same weekend, I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule.

However, after last years Legs of Literacy, Paul Merrigan and I, standing in the lobby of the Delta hotel, decided to run Johnny Miles this year and to see what the hype was about. I was told that the race has apparently won the best race in the Run NS series plus it’s 40th anniversary so it seemed like our timing was dead on!

My girlfriend Nicola and I left around noon on Saturday for the 31/2-4 hour drive to New Glasgow, which was entirely on twinned highways under sunny skies. We even managed to synchronize our times with Rod and Joanna Paul and had lunch in Moncton before we all made our way to New Glasgow. We arrived just after 4pm, dropped our goods off at the Comfort Inn and headed into town to collect our kits, check out the start/finish, the downtown core and attend a meet-up of other runners at a local pub.

The kit pick-up was at a multi-use venue right long the river which made for a pretty spot. We saw tents outside of the building and naturally walked into there first. Inside were a few tables and the t-shirt station, first we needed to go inside and pick up our bibs. If there is one thing that bothers me the most at races it is poor signage, a simple sign to indicate kit pick-up inside first then shirts outside would have been appreciated, or having everything put together ahead of time would have been preferred, whatever happened to that set-up? Regardless, kit pick-up was painless and we even stopped to get our photo taken for the Canadian Running magazine promo, however we bypassed the carb loading because we had a few runners that couldn’t eat regular pasta. We made the short stroll to the start/finish then to the local liquor outlet to pick up some NS beer then we headed to the pub.

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The meet-up was at the The Dock, a pub in downtown New Glasgow and was the initiative of the Maritime Race Weekend People, having never run this race i didn’t have any gear to wear to be included in a draw or to get a free beer. I refused the use of a shirt but was happy to find that Murphy’s Irish Stout was on tap…don’t stone me but I prefer it to Guinness. We ate our last pasta meal there, had a pint and chatted with a bunch of people then ultimately left just before 8 for rest and sleep.

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The day broke partly-cloudy on Sunday morning but rain was forecast for later in the day and I’m sure more than a few people were happy when the rain held off for the entire event. We had breakfast at the hotel, chatted with a few other runners and it was then that I made a prediction for Paul Merrigan’s time; it was a secret only know to Nicola, until after the race. We easily found a parking spot and made our way to the start, we were pretty early so I availed myself to the short line at the port-o-potties, always a good idea, then waited for our race to start. We watched the 5k runners leave then we got into the chute but it was apparent that the 10k and half marathon people had already been lining up behind the 5k runners because the chute was pretty full, that mean that we started closer to the back. Another thing that I noticed was that there weren’t any pace bunnies, JM is now big enough that I believe that it could benefit from this organizational addition. regardless we were off in less than 5 minutes…race on!

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We started out uphill, then crossed the river and were onto the roads. At this point it was a race like pretty much every other, undulating hills, commercial places and few supporters. We passed by our hotel and continued to run towards Stellarton, climbing ever-so-slightly as we went. At Bridge street we turned left and had a sharp downhill back into the river valley, this is where we joined the trail system…and a train….always a train!

The trail system was nice and wide and reminded me a lot of Fredericton, I made good time however I still had to pass a few people on the gras who were occupying the whole trail at points….people…keep right if you are not passing!!!! I climbed the only real hill, shortly thereafter came to the main bridge and went under the bridge on a steel grate type structure. On the other side of the bridge was a park and the only true section where there was a lot of fan support. We continued on along the trail until we joined back with a road, then headed out to the turn-around point. I headed back along this road until we met up with the bridge road then completed the loop once again. I met up with Joanna Paul somewhere between 6-8km I think and we ran together until about 11km then I went on ahead. The second loop was much emptier as there weren’t any 10km runners and the half marathoners had thinned out. i hummed along, keeping a steady pace, climbing the hill and passing the bridge. However just after exiting the trail to the street I became very tired and needed to walk…curses! I walked for maybe 1-2 minutes then resumed my running, this time at a slower pace. I noticed something disturbing though on my return loop on the streets, instead of the runners following the path, some had exited early onto the street after the bridge. I wasn’t overly happy to see this as not only is the traction better and you use less energy, the street section has less undulation. Keeping on I came to the turn sign finally, crossed the bridge, picked up my pace and hoofed it into the finish line unaccompanied, meaning I got to hear my name called all on it’s own; finished in a time of 1:57:52, a new PB! I was a bit miffed as I had a 1:55 finish time going until about 15km but in the end, any time that you can knock 2 minutes off of a PB you say thank you! I met up with Paul and said hi to Kimberly MacKenzie then waited for Joanna, Nicola and Rod to finish. Each came in with various looks of joy/pain on their faces but each was upright and had another half marathon to their credit!

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We headed back to the multi-use centre where we picked up pre-packed lunches, even a vegetarian option for Nicola, relaxed a bit then headed to the motel for our drive home.

A successful run for me which also stressed my need to increase my fitness up to and especially past 15 km but a new PB is always welcome and again I can out uninjured. Congratulations to Paul Merrigan on a new PB of 1:42:28, which as you may recall I had made a little prediction on before the race…my guess…..1:42:38….yes, be scared. Proud of Joanna, Rod and especially Nicola who didn’t have the best day or running but finished like a champ with the help of Rod.

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So with the hype that I had heard ahead of time I’ll be honest, the race didn’t live up to it. I was underwhelmed at most instances, I enjoyed the finishing chute but thought that it would have been better. The runners on the road disturbed me greatly and I have sent a note to the organizers but have not yet received a response. Would I recommend JM? Yes, with reservations. It was a well run event but I had higher hopes of more community involvement I think, there was one park where there were a lot of spectators, some creative writing on the road in one spot and the finish was good but lots of sections were quiet and I guessed I expected more.

Next up: Covered Bridge 10 km in Hartland, NB on July 12th.

Thanks for reading!

One foot in front of the other

Chris

Blue Nose 2015 Race Weekend

Over the May long weekend my girlfriend and I traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia, a 4 hour drive, to run the 10 km race at the Scotiabank Blue Nose racing weekend. This was the second time that I have run this distance at this race and I was looking forward to testing my legs on a pretty hilly course. Initially I was planning on “racing” the distance but once we found out that a friend was going to be the 60 minute pace bunny we decided to treat it as a “fun” run and enjoy the sights and sounds.

The Blue Nose is Atlantic Canada’s biggest and therefore premier race to run; this year, almost 7000 people ran the distances from 5 km to a full marathon. The numbers do not include the number of walkers and the kids race that was also held. It appears that the number of runners this year was down from last, more than likely due to the horrible training weather that occurred over the winter and the spring.

The 5 km distance is run on the Saturday and the 10 km, half marathon and full marathon distances are run on Sunday. My girlfriend and I arrived on Friday evening in order to pick up our race kits on Saturday afternoon and to watch my sister and brother-in-law run the 5 km. They live on the opposite side of the harbour from the races but this year, with your bib in hand, the use of the ferry was free, a very nice touch.

EXPO and 5 KM Race

On Saturday we took the ferry from Dartmouth, on one side of the harbour, to the Halifax side and walked to the World Trade and Convention Centre to collect our kits and to watch a panel on social media presented by our friend Paul Merrigan, He is known for the @RUNATCAN twitter handle and he who hosts an almost weekly chat on twitter on Sunday evenings at 8pm Atlantic time. The panel was great and we connected with a few other twitter friends then collected our kits.

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RunatCan Panel

The expo had a number of vendors, races and of course the Running Room man himself, John Stanton. We had met him in Vancouver a few weeks ago and of course being the sharp lad that he is, he recognized my girlfriend. Our race kit pick up was simple and we even registered for another race, The Valley Harvest half marathon in October. By registering in person we saved the dreaded processing fees that the sites love to charge now…essentially for doing nothing.

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John Stanton and Nicola

We walked up to the finish line, which was located mere minutes away, in front of the large hockey arena and waited to see my sister and brother-in-law. Our timing was impeccable because they approached the line shortly after we started watching.

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Long and short of It

We met inside of the arena, they chatted with a few people and then we all headed to a local bar called the Stubborn Goat to meet up with Paul and a few of the other RUNATCAN participants. We chatted, enjoyed a few eats, a brew, then called it a day because we were all getting up early on Sunday; my girlfriend and I to run and my sister and brother-in-law to cheer on their friends and runners from the clinics that they host.

Raceday

Sunday broke cloudy and cool, as the forecast had predicted, but there was a risk of showers forecast in the morning with periods of rain in the afternoon. We were hoping that this would hold and that our race would be dry. One thing that Halifax is known for is cool, cloudy weather in May, which can be downright cold if it’s breezy and rainy. My sister and brother-in-law drove over earlier to meet some of their runners while my girlfriend and I caught the ferry once again and met our “kid” to give her her bib. We arrived with plenty of time to warm up and chat with other runners. One secret for all of you future participants, instead of lining up for the port-a-potties near the start, head over to the Cambridge Suites, their washrooms are open and free, the women’s may have a bit of a line but it goes quick and you are indoors. This ended up being  a good thing as it started to shower about 20 minutes before our race began; regardless of this I did a bit of a warm-up and then we headed to the start line. As luck would have it the rain ended and the rest of our race was dry.

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Off to the Race!

At the start we met our friend Myles, who was acting as a pace bunny for the 60 minute race, the gun sounded and we were off. The race winds through parts of North End Halifax before crossing a centennial style bridge over to the sister city of Dartmouth. It was a comfortable pace for me so I looked at all of the small shops and the abundant construction that was in progress. We were maintaining a steady pace until about 4 km and the first crossing of the bridge when my girlfriend started to feel ill and we had to start walking. Sadly this continued throughout the rest of the race but she did brave a smile or two! We finished strongly over the last kilometre and voila! Another race completed in a time of 1:03:09. We met a number of friends at the finish and received our medals from our very good friend @crazymamaruns. We entered the arena, drank a bit and ate a few things but since my girlfriend was still queasy we decided to head back, luckily my sister and brother-in-law were just leaving and we caught a ride with them.

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Myles, our pace bunny!

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Runfie!

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The Bridge!

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Quiet, side street

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The Bling is the thing!

Final Thoughts

I couldn’t find much at fault with the weekend this year, the medals were very nice, the course was in good shape, there seemed to be lots of volunteers and the businesses in the downtown core were engaged. However during the expo there were a group of participants who were staring at a wall and didn’t benefit from the flow of traffic, why their displays were not permitted to be placed against the wall is a question for someone else but it seemed like a slight to me. I have heard that a number of the courses will change next year due to bridge construction so I’m not sure if i will participate, however I will return sometime in the future regardless as it has great energy and it seems that the city is finally understanding its benefit.

Thanks for reading my long-winded account!

One Foot in front of the Other

Chris

Next race: Saturday May 23rd, Fredericton, The Inaugural Airport Run, I’m running and volunteering!

Race Report – Lorneville Loop 2015

As promised, here is my report on the first race of the 2015 year; the Lorneville Loop 13km.

This race is a hilly, season-opener held in a community called Lorneville outside of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.

The only distance is 13 kilometres with the race counting towards the Running Room points series.

This was my second consecutive year running this race as I found it to be a great test of early season fitness and I like supporting smaller races; I believe that it was capped at 200-250 people. This race also has a number of other things going for it as well:

  • It’s cheap, I paid $20
  • A honking big medal
  • Chili afterwards
  • Lots of door prizes
  • it raises funds for the IWK hospital in Halifax
Did I mention it's Big?

Did I mention it’s Big?

Having run the race last year, it  helped me prepare a strategy for this year. Last year I ran it 1:13:42, not horrible but after having put in a lot of work this winter I was hoping to see an improvement to the 1:07-1:09 range which would satisfy me where my fitness for Vancouver is concerned.

Lorneville Loop 2014 Runkeeper Track

The first 4-5 kilometres of the race are a series of uphills with a few false plateaus, this year there was also a head-wind of 20-30 kilometres/hour for the same first 4-5 kilometres. However that meant a tailwind for the remaining 8 kilometres which in comparison is relatively flat. However the last 1-1/2 kilometres present two hills which test your mettle.

The day was sunny and not too cold, I wore shorts, short sleeved and long sleeved shirts and light gloves. I ran the race in my new Saucony Fastwitch 6, which was my test for Vancouver under race conditions. I started at the back of the group as I was hanging out with friends but then scooted along and passed people during the first few km’s. In fact I ran a pretty quick first km at 5:18 min/km, faster than I wanted but then proceeded to get back to my hill pace of around 5:35-5:40 min/km until I made the turn.

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Looking Good At Start

At the turn, and end of the hilly section I was at 5.8 km in and at a time of 31:49. I got on my horse and then settled into ~5:10-5:15 min/km pace for the “back” straight. I felt good, tried to manage my breathing and passed a number of people. At around 10 km the course completely flattens out for about 2 km and I picked up my pace once again to run a steady 5:10 min/km. I was feeling strong so I ran quite hard over the final 2 km with times of 5:01 min/km and 4:54 min/km respectively. I was puffing at the finish due to a hill just before the end but I crossed the line in 1:08:56! I was right in my goal range and I ran a 5:16 min/km for the whole race. I was very happy, the shoes felt great and I was feeling that I was ready for the Vancouver half, which is much less hilly.

Lorneville Loop 2015 Runkeeper Track

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Top of Last Hill

All in all I ran the race that I had planned, I saved some energy on the hills then ran a steady, up tempo pace on the back straight then hit it hard the last couple of km’s. I lowered my time by almost 5 minutes and my min/km pace by 23 seconds! I finished 46th overall out of 176 runners! Outstanding!

The best part is that I got to share the race with friends and my girlfriend Nicola, she was this race’s photographer who was  training for the full in Vancouver and couldn’t fit this race into her plans.

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#RunatCan Crew

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Running Room Crew

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My Photog, at 30 km/Day Before

So a very successful opening race of the season, good weather, good friends and good legs! I’m very excited to see what I can run in Vancouver, after this race I have lots of confidence.

I hope that all of your upcoming races will be amazing and tune in a few weeks for a Vancouver report.

One foot in front of the other

Chris