Monday, June 28, 2010

Perth World Record Kilt Run

When I first heard about the Perth World Record Kilt Run, I thought it was a really neat idea. It was perfect timing to give me a small break during summer and be part of a Guinness world record. I couldn't resist signing up before the quota was filled. According to organizers, 1210 registrants were allowed to register, honoring the year of the founding of Perth, Scotland.

The weather was a bit iffy, calling for rain, but eventually cleared up and remained fairly good for the duration of the race. We even got some sunshine after the race. The required Kilt was provided as part of the race kit:
A colleague of mine asked if it was a real kilt. Apparently the real deal are quite heavy (30 lbs) and feature a leather pouch at the front. Of learning of what the organizers provided us, he jokingly referred to my kilt as a plaid skirt ;) The kilt was remarkably comfortable to run in and only got a bit hot on the second half of the course.

What stroke me at the start line was the sheer diversity of runners. All genders, sizes, ages and fitness levels were represented. This felt more like a block party than a race. The McKenna clan in particular was well represented with members all wearing an identifying shoulder strap

Lots of people wore costumes. Someone even carried a sword the whole way. I really hope it was hollow, these flashy guys were quite the crowd pleaser
My strategy for the race was to go hard but not burn up. I'm not used to 8km as a distance. I felt really good after 2 km
The course was really beautiful while we were in downtown Perth. That town has a lot of character with the older buildings and small town feel. The course then winded down to the Golf course where we ran on somewhat muddy grey paths. This would have been very scenic and pleasant if the paths were not so muddy :) I wish there would have been more water stops during the golf course portion
At the Golf course, I got chicked. If you've been reading for a while you'll know that while I respect girls and I know that a lot of them are faster than me, being chicked is not something I really take to. I proceeded to tail her for about a kilometer and passed her the first opportunity I got. She kept tailing me and challenging me throughout the race but I finished about 10 seconds ahead of her :) I did shake her hand at the end and thank her for challenging me and ensured a pretty speedy 36m35s finish (4:31m/km pace!) I am really happy with this performance. We stuck around a few minutes to cheer the other racers in and take in the fair-ish atmosphere that overtook downtown Perth
Overall this race was a really neat experience for me. From the running in a kilt to the beautiful details taken to welcome runners. See this beautiful start / finish castle for example
It felt like the whole town came to play with cheerers virtually everywhere. Lots of storefronts were displaying this kitschy banner
There will not be official word from Guinness for a few more weeks, but if the record is recognized and there is an attempt to break it again next year, I will definitively try to make it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back on the road

I ran to work yesterday and it felt great to be back on the road. The legs are still a bit slow but I didn't push them yet. My plan is to take it easy while maintaining my base over the summer and start training again in August for a late fall marathon.
The commute usually takes me a tad over two hours. At 2:13, it was significantly slower than usual. I figure I have to get that time down to 1:45 to be at a Boston Qualifying pace. The BQ scenario will be the one I will have in mind as I train and hope to do a sub 3:10 marathon in the fall.

In the mix was Astrix, Les Trois Accords and The Killers.

Friday, June 4, 2010

New Pics + Ray's Giveaway

I've already ranted about the price of race photos. This race is no different with a single photo costing you $38 for a download. It's a shame because if they were priced a bit more reasonably, I'd be buying them. There are a few nice ones.

Also be sure to check out Ray's blog today for a super exciting giveaway of a Withings WiFi scale!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ottawa Marathon 2010

The Ottawa Marathon is a yearly event that is part of the Race Weekend here in Ottawa. Organizers claim it to be the largest marathon and largest running weekend in all of Canada. It sure feels that way with over 30,000 runners out in the different distances and the countless volunteers and cheerers that line the course.

I was actually pretty relieved when I woke up to find out that the weather forecast that started at 29 Celsius (84F) and sunny on the Wednesday were nowhere near accurate. The adjusted forecast on Sunday morning was 15 Celsius (60F) and cloudy with a 21 Celsius (70F) maximum. Perfect running weather!

We got to the start line a bit later than planned so there's no pre-race pictures. I had just enough time to visit the port-a-potty and get in my corral before the gun went off. I had spied the 3:40 pace bunny and planned to follow it for a while until I knew how I felt about the race. I knew that I could beat 3:40, especially given the perfect conditions. I even had a secret hope of closing in on 3:30 if I was having a great day, more on this later. We started at a pretty good pace. The lower number of marathoners made the start much more orderly than previous year's half marathons with their 10k+ runners.

I settled into a nice pace as we passed parliament and I got so much into the groove that I don't even remember which bridge we took to Gatineau. I remember that at some point the 3:40 pace bunny and his following got a bit on my nerves. Someone even said to one of his runners that she shouldn't talk since she needs every little bit for the end. Feeling great and ready for a big day, I decided they were definitively not my crowd and I hurried on along. The new course took us to a much nicer part of Hull than in previous years. The Lac-des-Fees promenade was actually a bit scenic if you could ignore the sewer renovation project. Local residents were out and about in their pajamas with a cup of coffee in hand, smiling, waving, clapping and cheering. I loved it!

Soon enough we were heading back towards Ottawa. I got to see my mom waiting for me on the bridge. That was such a energy booster / awesome moment.
My mom had been a little late as well and missed the start but I had prepared a map with a list of possible sightings and estimate times for me to go through. I forgot to tell her at the bridge that I was actually a bit faster than the planned sightings because I was so excited to see her and her boyfriend cheering me on. Alex was at a good vantage point on top of the bridge to capture these great pictures.

The race then took us into Beachwood and then Rockliffe which is a bit of a swanky neighborhood in Ottawa. It was great to see the people outside their Mansions, cheering the runners on. It was much less hilly than I feared and overall I felt I was doing great even if I was running a bit faster than planned. As I crossed the halfway mark at 1:42:46, I had to make a decision. Slow down a bit and lock in a reasonably good PB or keep up the speedier pace and go for broke under 3:30. I decided to keep going while monitoring everything to ensure that I could adjust quickly in order to salvage the race.

The second part of the race was spent mostly holding on to my lead. I made an analogy of a surfer riding the wave to the beach and that is totally how I felt. I had reached the crest of the wave and now all I had to do was hang on. I hadn't told my mom and Alex that I was going much faster than planned so even my optimistic sighting times for each point of the race were now too late. They missed me by about 2 minutes at the canal and Laurier. I kept the speed up and enjoyed the company of other runners. Two guys behind me were really funny. Race day is not when you want to start doing mathematics, especially not at km 28. Their 3:30 pace bunny had just failed them with a leg cramp and they didn't know how to continue. I tried to help them a bit with the math but my own pace band for 3:40 was pretty useless as well at this point :)

As we passed Bronson, I started having stomach cramps. Panic started setting in. I will not be able to finish. I screwed up on my hydration. I shouldn't have had this double mocha gel at km 25. My whole race will be ruined. Then I realized I was past km 30 and that the dreaded wall was probably trying to control me. I slowed down a tad and focused on my breathing and reasoned with myself. I have trained for this. My long runs have taken me further than this point and I have experienced this before. I will get through it and everything will be fine. Turns out that 10 minutes later I was back in pace. As we finally turned around and started heading back to downtown, I knew this race was in the bag.

I kept feeling strong and fast as I passed marathoner after marathoner. I love reeling in people even if it is ever so slowly. Then the half marathoners merged and the speedy ones started passing me by, making me feel really slow. I checked my watch and my pace was still very acceptable so I tried to ignore them. They motivated me to push a little harder but at this stage of the game there wasn't much fuel left in the tank for sprinting. Alex was waiting for me at km 39 and what a relief to see him waving around and taking pictures.
The Endorphins mixed with the reduced flow to the brain creates some interesting emotions and feeling inside. I could have stopped and hugged him but the finish line was calling me. I'm not sure what I was thinking in this picture. I think my eyes are closed and it looks like I'm saying I got nothing on me officer :)

As the roar of the crowds got louder, the resolve to finish and the taste of victory was getting overwhelming. I didn't even look at my watch anymore, I knew I locked in a PB, I was pretty certain I was under 3:30 but really I wanted to finish this one in style. When I reached the finish line I saw my mom and Michel cheering me on. I think they were more excited than me and seeing them made me cheer and shout. I can't wait to see the official race pictures, they will be interesting for sure. When I finally crossed the finish line, I didn't want to stop. Most people collapse or go into a walk right away but it took me a good 5-10 seconds to register that I was done and I could shut it down. I eventually found Michel and then my mom and we chatted it up a bit until I saw my friend Falk finish. This guy is fast. Super fast. There's no way I could have beaten him. Yet, there he was, crossing the finish line after me! Woot woot! This is major bragging rights I earned right here!
I almost don't want him to race another marathon because until he does, I can say I'm faster ;)

Overall this race was really awesome. The new course is much prettier than previously even if some parts felt a bit lonely. The music stations could be closer together (some even seemed abandoned). I think that the focus of this even is really on the half-marathon but still the marathon is a very worthwhile destination on race weekend. The beautiful runners and plentiful crowds make for an interesting race. The rotating medal is also pretty cool.

The numbers:

The Course:
So I've decided to take 2 weeks off training. I may go for short runs but nothing over 15km. After that, when I start training again, my new mantra will be : 17 minutes to Boston! I will get there, yeah baby yeah! Hopefully I can squeeze in a race this fall and get closer to that 3:10 BQ. Any good marathons in November in your part of the world?