Running Free

Monday, October 9, 2017

Chase The Coyote 12KM

I’ve raced this venue a few times.

The first time in 2015 was for the 14.4km Challenge Course.  I loved it.  I was reasonable trained for it and loved the experience.  My review is here.

The second time was last year.  I had been injured in July and was under-trained for the race.  I had signed up for the 14.4km Challenge Course again but was in no shape to run it so I checked down to the 5.7km Short Course.  I was glad I did.  My review is here.

This year the wonderful organizers Norm and Jodi changed up the distances.  Now they are 12km, 25km and the dreaded 50km.  Obviously a big push to get this race into the ‘Ultra’ class.  The 2 longer distances are either one or two laps of a new 25km loop.

The Race Stuff

Once again very well organized.  Information available and email communication was great.  The exhibitors/sponsors at the race were friendly, helpful and had interesting products to talk about.

Before the race things were well run, had a great feel and having a bag drop which was great as I like to recheck and pack-up my nutrition, etc. just before the race.

During the race the volunteers were awesome once again.  Tons of Team Running Free support!   Signage and course routing was clear even under the duress of race conditions.

After the race I will say I was disappointed not to have a barbecue like in previous years.  A wrap and fruit is nice but a hot burger is AWESOME!  I understand logistics of cooking for 200-300 people must be a pain but it was something I missed.

Age group prizes, access to timing sheets, draw prizes and all the other post-race stuff was well executed.

My Race

Like last year I came into the race under prepared.  I starting training again in July and getting back to any long distance has been tough in the heat.  I had managed a few 8km+ plus runs but certainly not what I needed to truly ‘compete’ on a personal level where I wanted to.

With the changes in distances there wasn’t anything lower than 12km to check down to.  I knew it was going to be a pain train so I set my expectations to not killing myself and enjoying what I could.

The weather this year was in the midst of the popular sequel “Summer 2 – This Time We Mean It”.  With temps in the low 30’s and humidex purported to hitting around 41 degrees I knew the distance wasn’t my only challenge.

I prepared for the heat by taking a carry bottle to ensure I never was out of water.  There is a gap between water stations between 2.5km and about 6.5km which concerned me.

Water is amazing in the heat to both quench and soak yourself down.  I also packed gels to make sure I was replacing electrolytes.  If I am anticipating a lot of sweating, which I was, I also take and carry salt pills.  I took one before start and another about 45 minutes in.

I started three quarters of the way back in the pack.  I try to guess where I might finish and do my best to get out of the way of faster runners before the race even starts.  It’s the nice thing to do.

The start here is uphill out of the gate.  The first 2km is a combo of some up hills and flats on well-worn wide open trails that see a lot of feet through the year.  It felt early on that I was in for the hell I thought I was.  It was hot, humid and it felt like hard work immediately.

At 2km ‘Cardiac Hill’ starts.  I had no illusions of running ANY of this.  I put my head down and marched up as best I could.  Regardless of distance or fitness, this is an early test that you need to avoid torching your legs and lungs at.

Mid-way to the highest point of the park “Look Out Point” there was a water/electrolyte table where I filled what I had used of my bottle.

“Look Out Point” offers a great view of the whole park and many of the competitors took the time for a selfie.  I took a second and soaked it up.  At its heart trail running is a struggle balanced with the beauty of nature.

The middle portion of the race consisted of me and a few different racers running alone or in pairs that passed each other a number of times as each of us took breaks at different times or felt up for some brisk running at different times.

My trail running sorta-mantra is ‘get what you can get when you can get it’.  Feel like sprinting as far up that hill as you can?  Do it.  Feel like walking?  Do it.  The terrain takes and gives away so when you feel good use it, when you feel rough just slug it out the best you can.

At the 6.5k water break I took a bit of a 30 second break and immediately regretted it.  Refilling water and immediately walking/shuffling would have been better as I felt like crap as soon as I tried to run again.

Next up is “68 Steps To Ruin”.  This one never disappoints.  The illusion the map gives first time runners is that the steps are the only challenge when you get there.  But they are not.  There is a significantly steep slope leading to the steps … then the steps … then two more climbs before cresting the ‘the top must be here … no crap it’s still going’ peak.

Much of the race after this point is downhill.  Working through trails coming slowly down off the escarpment is a pleasure with slight ups and mostly some downs to keep you rolling.  I had a bit of gas left in the tank so enjoyed this portion.

At 9km the final water table appeared.  They had lots of stuff for the longer distance runners as this is a station shared by all three distances.  Water, electrolyte drink, Coca-cola, pringles, gels, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, etc.  I stuck to my plan and refilled water and popped a few gummy gels.

The last 2-3 km is flat or downhill.  This is a portion 2 years ago when I hammered it stretching my legs and cranking the pace.  I had saved some energy and slowly poured it all out spreading it to the finish line.

This year gutted out a run/walk and was passed by a number of runners.  It’s all I had left.

Crossing a finish line immediately erases a lot of tough memories.  Someone asked me how my race went and I said “It looks great looking back on it”.

Once again a wonderful event, a memorable well-run race and some wonderful nature sitting there waiting to challenge you.  No coyote again this year … I will need to go back again!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

EC3D Compression Review

When discussing compression clothing I default to what I call my “Rocket Man Song Defense” which is a nice way to say “All the science I don’t understand”.
The Science – That I’ve Read

The gist of compression garments is that creating varying compression of parts of your body can assist in strategically increasing blood flow to either improve performance and/or improve recovery.

Great right?  Who doesn’t need help keeping the wolves at bay deep into a race or training run?  And what would you pay to shorten the recovery time between racing and training or between training runs when the legs feel like lead and the kids want to kick the soccer ball around the yard.  Seems like a drug free and natural way to help the body perform better.

EC3D Product

I want to disclose up front that I have both paid for and also received free product from EC3D for testing.

EC3D is a proud Canadian company that got their start with this technology making compression garments for the medical market.

Their claimed advantage is the variable compression that their products provide.  The compression varies in the garment in order to offer specific compression in specific areas in order to elicit the result of improved performance or improved recovery.

EC3D Calf Sleeves

I bought this product when wanting to try compression sleeves to help with my training efforts.  My legs were often fatigued when increasing mileage and I thought they would help.

I went to my trusty Running Free location and the store rep quickly ran a measuring tape around my calf to assist in picking the specific size I needed.  This is very important as they are sized based on calf circumference.  I was concerned that the garment might be too long as I am quite short but they fit just fine.

What drew me to this product was the variable compression claims and also the fact they were made in Canada.  They were very competitively priced so I felt it was 3 strikes against the competition.

The first thing you will notice is that these suckers are tight and hard to get on.  But once on you appreciate the fact the compression isn’t uniform as your legs aren’t uniform in shape.

Secondly, the box advertised that the product works for both performance and recovery which is what I wanted.

The other cool thing about this product is that is uses Antimicrobial fibres (Rocket Man) that thwarts the stink of frequent use.  I can tell you first hand it works incredibly.

EC3D 3 in 1 Hybrid

This product is for someone who wants it all.  It includes three garments:  Performance compression sleeves, recovery compression sleeves and compression socks.

The difference in the performance vs. recovery sleeves are the placement of the varying compression components.  It makes sense in theory that specifically designed sleeves for differing purposes could deliver better results vs. one garment.

The compression socks are great as well.  They fit tight and feel very thin.  They feel great on and I have had zero rubs or hot spots wearing them.  I put them into the sock rotation immediately.

Does It Work?

I think the scientific and running community jury may be out a bit on whether there is a lasting effect provided by compression.  It’s kind of like the ice bath debate.  As long as I see ultra runners wearing compression and jumping into ice baths I have to think it’s a bit more than a theory.

In this case I don’t care if it’s a placebo effect or a real medicinal effect, it works for me.

Putting on the garment elicits an immediate cooling effect.  It’s as if you can feel the blood flow improve instantly.  In recover situations it definitely seems to shorten the fatigue.

The additional effect is a reduction of damage resulting from the constant pounding and vibration of thousands of steps on the road or trail.  This is a real benefit to me as well and is a noticeable effect.

In closing, if you haven’t tried compression it’s a good time to give it a shot.  Buying new cool stuff is a definite side benefit to running and EC3D has the science behind it at a great price while being made in Canada.

Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Catch The Coyote Sprint 5.7k - September 24, 2016

This is the second year that I have run at this event.  Last year I rant the 14.4k Challenge course and this but this year I was running the 5.7k Sprint course.

What a difference a year makes.  Last year I wasn’t exactly in top form from a training perspective but I came into the longer race with a solid plan and what resulted was a really positive race that lead to an effort and time that I was proud of.  You can read about that one on this blog.
This year I came into the event very ill trained.  I had injured myself trail running this summer and have been trying to build a bit of mileage on an injured heel.  It still hurts a bit but running doesn’t make it worse so I am just running.  Regardless, I had been run/walking 5k distances.

I emailed the race coordinators and they were happy to check me down to the 5.7k distance.
Everything Before The Race
Sign-up and communication before the race was great.  What you would expect with the services out there now but an extra gold star for a very detailed email in the week leading up to the race loaded with information on parking, schedule, etc.
The pre-race amenities were ample and the mood at the start line was very ‘community’.  I just like the vibe of trail running events.  Good showing of vendors on-hand and waiver signing, pickup up of swag, food availability, etc. was great.

The Race
The 14.4k or longer distances have the ‘pleasure’ of running up 3 lovely sections called:  Cardiac Hill, 64 steps of ruin and Roots of All Evil.

The 5.7k race turns back around the start of the Cardiac Hill climb.  The course had some ups and downs but no big climbs.  I found the race to still be challenging but not super technical.  The course ranges from wide open gravel trails to tight forest single track.
I did all I could out there.  I took a few walks when I was red-lining and pushed as hard as I could.  I wasn’t in-shape but focused on soaking up the scenery and doing all I could.

The delight I had during this race was running with and listening to a little 6 year-old girl running with her Mom.  She was chatting away like a young girl would, covering all kinds of topics.  She started to run with and chat with me.  I was trying to answer while breathing hard in a ‘this is no big deal running and talking like this’ fashion but it WAS a little difficult.
Abruptly she stopped to take a walk break.  I hollered up to her Mom that she was taking a break and the lady said ‘oh, she’s not my daughter, we just met’.  She stopped as well and stayed with the girl who was still chatting away to people passing her.

Such is trail racing to me.  A real brotherhood/sisterhood endeavor.  Shortly after I finished, she came through the finish line with cheers from a small group of women who apparently DID know who she was before the race.
I am proud of these results.  It likely ranks up to one of my slowest performances but I try to feel good any time I strap on the shoes and toe the starting line.  I worked hard out there.
Post Race
Lots of food from bananas, cookies, coffee, water, etc. available as they were before the race but if you’re like me, a hard trail work-out matches well with a burger.  The barbeque was fired up and the burger was great.  I am sure there were vegetarian offerings … kind of sure … I wasn’t looking for those.


The medal is great. It has a customized ribbon/strap with exact date which is a classy touch.  Obviously ordering the same medal and using it for a number of years is a cost saving measure vs. doing a different one every year but the date on the ribbon/strap is great when looking back in the closet on all your medals that all look the same and trying to remember when you ran that race.
I believe there was a choice offered around swag.  I paid for this race so early I can’t remember what I the other options were.  However, when I got there and saw the Trucker’s Hat, I was happy I apparently chose that.

Once again this was a great event.  I will be putting it on my calendar for next year.  With distances of 5.7k, 14.4k and 21.4k there is a distance for everyone.  And according to their social media feed they have been out trying to map a longer distance …

Friday, June 3, 2016

Home Is Where You Hang Your Running Hat!

Running Free Hat Review
I was searching for the perfect running hat.  Here are my needs:

1)      The heat kills me.  A direct result of carrying a few extra pounds and some sub-par fitness means a warm day and beating sun knocks the stuffing out of this cuddly bear.  I need a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes which is light in colour as to not create an oven on my head.

2)      I sweat a lot.  Not nice to admit but the concept of running without a hat is nice with wind blowing in my hair but I am soon blinded by sweat pouring in my eyes.

3)      I have a bigger head.  I am not quite into the category of a ‘planet cranium’ like a certain Running Free athlete I pal around with but still big enough that a number of hats I tried on just didn’t fit or make my head look like I have a shower cap with a brim on.

As a Team Running Free member I was given a Running Free Hat.  So I admit I didn’t pay for this hat but I assure you I would pay for it without hesitation which I almost did when my first hat went missing in a runner’s laundry mishap.

Headsweat website claims (evaluated):

·         Classic style, superior run-hat fit (agreed not pin-heady)

·         Eventure knit shell (it feels different)

·         Eventure terry sweatband (it’s all terry clothy)

·         Flat front panel perfect for custom logo application (Running Free proved it!)

·         Black undervisor to reduce glare (didn’t notice means it works)

·         Adjustable rear buckle with ponytail opening (straight to the end, ponytail not available)

·         One size fits most (even my planet cranium buddy)

·         Machine washable; air dry (holds its no-form form)

·         Does not shrink (true)

Reasons I love this hat:

1)      It’s white.  White is not the best colour for something you wear with the express purpose of sweating into relentlessly but it is the best colour to keep the hot sun at bay.

2)      It fits.  I will admit that I have the adjustment strap right to the end but the fact I can wear it at all is great.  Also, the design of the hat is such that it looks more like a ball cap vs. a burglar stocking with brim.

3)      The Eventure Terry sweatband is incredible.  As purposely designed, the head band takes an enormous amount of moisture.  Also the Eventure Knit material of the hat is very absorbent as well.  In extremely hot situations the entire hat acts like a sponge to help pull the moisture away from my head to evaporate.  Also, I have found it excellent for pouring a cold cup of water on when fighting the heat on a hot race day.  ‘One cup in your mouth and one on your head’ has gotten me through a few hot races.

Well that’s it.  If you are looking for a great running hat the fits well, has high tech moisture management features and looks great, I would wander to your local Running Free store or go to and pick one of these up.  Or get 2 in case you lose one like I thought I did.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Chase The Coyote – Challenge 14.4k – September 26, 2015

Chase The Coyote – Challenge 14.4k – September 26, 2015

My ‘running summer’ had been a bit of a disappointment.  After my first Around The Bay 30k race in the Spring I had been either treading water or losing ground.

The excuses are always readily available.  I had some IT Band and hamstring injuries that kept my training a bit below the intensity that I needed and I have been carrying around some extra weight I didn’t have last year.

Regardless, this race made me feel … like I am back in the game baby!

Online, Communication and Race Day Organization

The race was held in beautiful Mono Cliffs Provincial Park.  It is an outstanding location especially with the fall colours coming in.

The Chase The Coyote website is simple and has all the key information.  From race maps with elevation to videos of the course all the tools I needed to plan my race, plan my trip and prepare for the race were there.

Communication from the race was ample.  The last email also warned runners about parking which was limited and with my arrival time meant I walked in from about half a KM away but I expected it which to me makes it fine.

Event organization and volunteers were awesome with many Team Running Free members active on and off the course.  Once getting to the race site the vibe was fun, positive and well put together.  The few organizations that were there with tents were interesting and relevant.

Swag came in the form of a toque or buff.  There were only buffs left when I got there and I had to leave it behind as I didn’t have time to walk it back to my car.  There was nothing left after the race … so just medal bling, no swag for me!

The Race – The Challenge 14.4k

Race distances offered were 5.7k Short, 14.4k Challenge and 22k+ Long.

I chose the Challenge 14.4k distance as this seemed to be the distance with all the climbs and besides … I wasn’t necessarily ready for those extra KMs.

This race I decided to actually prepare a bit.  I researched the elevation chart on the website as well as do a search for actual GPS data on Strava from previous races.

I could see 3 major climbs that peaked at approximately 3k, 6k and 9.4k.  This helped me prepare for how much to push and when.

Reviewing the race map on the website was fun.  The 3 highlighted sections seemed like something out of a horror movie:  Cardiac Hill, 64 Steps To Ruin and The Roots of All Evil.

Race Director Norm confirmed my research a bit with his pre-race chat to the group “take it easy for the first 2kms … don’t start racing until after ‘the stairs’.

146 people started the race according to the results page with 138 finishers (guessing some didn't start and some may be up there still).

I positioned myself at the start about 2/3 the way back of the group based on where I expected to finish like I do every race.  I try to avoid holding people up nor having to pass too many which is what I do for every race which is extra important on a trail race that could be single track early.

The Trail To Cardiac Hill

Out of the gate the trail just starts climbing.  Not a crazy climb but enough slope and distance to put me into heavy breathing right away.  I quickly settled into a small pack of people.  The group I was in had a few huffing and puffing like me and few people keeping the same pace just chatting away (me hates them).

Then came ‘cardiac hill’ around 2km in.  With a name like that I almost liked being warned.  Knowing it was coming and knowing it’s the biggest climb of the day, I resigned myself to marching it vs. running as much as I could and burning my legs and lungs out thinking ‘I can run this, it’s almost over, it can’t be that much longer … this can’t be right … who chose this trail ... where am I … kill me.’

After the hill there were more mild climbs and single track leading to ‘lookout point’ at 3km.  It was a beautiful view.  At the very top I hopped up on a rock and took about 5 seconds to enjoy the view, with 11km+ of running and 2 more climbs I knew a happy vision could be useful later.  I am glad I

Coyote Look Out Point View

64 Steps to Ruin

The ’64 steps to ruin’ section was next.  I could sense when we were back on the lower ground and knew the climb would be coming around 5k or so.  With the name came a warning and mindset to climb close to 5 floors of stairs.

I had been running for over half an hour at this point.  What they don’t tell you is that there is a steep hill … 64 steps over a super steep section of that hill … then more of that steep hill.  It was leg burning and terrible.  The anguish actually seemed to be over pretty quickly but I may have slipped into an oxygen deprived trance.  Next year I may plant an oxygen tank and charge $20 a person ... or maybe rent mules ... not sure ... good money to be made either way.

The Roots of all Evil

The ‘roots of all evil’ section is at the base of the final climb around 8km.  I knew the climb itself wasn’t as intense as the first 2 but it was on the only part of the course that had 2 way traffic actively using the trail.

There were ample volunteers there hollering at people both ways to ‘stay to the right’.  However when climbing a brutal section of ‘evil’ foot tripping roots it’s disheartening in a way to see the faster bunch of the race flying/skidding/sliding down the trail you are laboring up.

The Way Home

Around 9km/9.5km the trail turned downhill.  The way home from here, though still long at 5km, was mostly downhill and flat.  We were strung out in singles for the most part by this point.  This is when I punched it.  The trail was wide and easy to see.  I stretched my legs and let gravity take me.  My experience in the trails and a bit of luck kept me upright.

I set my sights one by one on the people ahead of me.  Some of these people had passed me earlier and few had lost some pace I suppose ... or maybe they were dog walkers who lost their dogs ... not sure.  I just punched it running like a wild man.  I tried to put a sustained effort and keep the fire burning.

Coming into the race I loosely picked 2 hours as a goal.   I based that on training runs in trail.  A time check at this point put me well ahead of that and that drove me more.

Coming into the final KM I knew at this point there is no point in losing your courage.  I slammed it at the edge of redlining constantly recalculating my reserves and the distance/time left.  Puking in front of people is never a good thing.

In the last stretch of gravel before the end I came across what seemed to be a tour bus of people with cameras from the city.  They were in street shoes, jeans and too much clothing for being in the race.  I said hello while I was skidding by trying not to kick up too many rocks or too much dust.  Not one of them took a picture of me … clearly not into high speed action.  But here is what they missed:

The final turn is a sharp one.  A volunteer warned me and other people cheered me in.  In ‘big event like style’ they called my bib number, name and city as I turned for the short skip across the line.  I still want to know who was spotting for them as you couldn't be seen from the finish line … anyhow, it was a great touch.

I finished in 1:42:58.  I am really happy with my run.  It’s funny how a great day at a great event and great run makes all of the aches and pains the next couple days feel better.
Coyote Results

I highly recommend this race and I hope to see you all on the roads and trails some time soon!

Here’s my Strava Activity.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

MEC Barrie Race #2 – 15k Trail w/Bob Marley

Going to any MEC race it becomes clear that their objective to ‘get people out and being active’ is the cornerstone.  Its evidence in the outstanding value, chill vibe and positive attitude of the staff and volunteers.

In their 3rd year of doing race the MEC Barrie team decided to add a trail race.  The location they found was the Tree Nursery Sport Park in Springwater, Ontario just North of Barrie which is surrounded my trails.  I will definitely be back to explore more.

As is customary with their events, it was well organized, they provided water, NUUN beverage, bananas, coffee, etc.  Also a big plus was real flushing toilets and super clean facilities.

The Race
The race day weather had been shifting all week from no rain to potential thunderstorms to partly cloudy.  One thing that didn’t change was the heat.  The temp was climbing to 28 degrees by race finish.  Training all winter for Around The Bay left me little time spent in the heat.  This was going to be fun!

Prior to the race I went back and forth on using my Nathan Speed Belt 2 as there were pretty frequently water stations during the race.  I don't know what I was thinking ... I would have been dead out there without the extra fluid despite frequent water stations.

I was ready for a nice run in the woods and thought about channeling my inner Bob Marley chill vibe.  Trails for me are really an exercise in patience as I can quickly burn myself out on the hills vs. the steady drone of road racing with consistent effort.

Get Up, Stand Up
My strategy for the start of any race is to position myself where I think I will finish and then take it from there, which traditionally is 55% to 65% back.  With this group which looked about 50 people I didn’t rush to be anywhere fast.  The start of the race had some open field for quite a distance so I figured the faster people would shake out and I would be where I needed to be before hitting the trails which can be difficult to either pass or politely be passed.

Out of the gate the pace was quicker than I would normally run.  I had a few friends in the group and fellow Team Running Free runner Patrick Voo was up near the front running quickly but looking effortless as he does.  Another friend Trevor was up there somewhere.  I was unsure where I was in the pack as I didn’t bother looking behind me before hitting the trails.

Roots Rock Reggae – The Start
This is frankly where the Bob Marley theme came to me.  Roots and rocks were the order of the day in this sections.  It felt downhill through most of this part.  I was cooking a little fast for my liking but was in a tight pack of people dodging rocks, roots and fallen trees so I kept rolling with it for about the first 2k I would say which included an OPP monitored street crossing.

Around this time the pace was getting to me so I motioned I would be taking a break and snagged my water bottle for a quick squirt of fluid letting a few people pass.

It was now that I realized I may be in last place.  About 4 people passed me and then I didn’t hear any footsteps.  I had never been feeling like I was last in a race before but I honestly actually like the fact I was now running with no pressure of footsteps and picked my way through the forest at my pace which I felt was good.

With a smaller race (i.e. not thousands like some other I run), you can get a really stacked deck of competitors and this was the case I was telling myself.

I came across an injured runner covered in leaves and whom had obviously took a tumble.  I stopped for a few seconds and confirmed she could walk, didn’t need help, was fine being left and that someone was running ahead to let the aid station know she was hobbling in to see them.

I continued on.

A quick joke and ‘thank you’ at the first water station and cup of cold water and I was rolling on.

Light A Fire – 2km to 5km
It hadn’t rained in area for ages so I am not sure I could blame humidity but the climbing heat started to burn my lungs and beat me down.  By now I was alone in a sparsely wooded forest picking my way back towards where we had started after looping back to the same first water station.

I again asked them “am I still in first” and they confirmed I ‘could be’.  They then pointed me downhill on a dirt road trail and near the bottom I could see someone on course … someone actually racing I think … not a dog walker … so I took up pursuit.
Knowing that pushing too hard downhill can fry your quads I was patient, kept my burning lungs in check and closed the gap over time.
We crossed around a nice pond that had people dog walking.  All happy to nod and say ‘good morning’.

By the end of this open area I was upon the other ‘runner’.  What I discovered is that this man was either injured or a legit speed walker.  Having being passed in my first 5k by a speed walker I knew they could mean serious business.  He was clipping along at a nice pace but keeping his strides short and close to the ground.

Passing him I confirmed he had a ‘hamstring injury’ and I let him know that I would probably see him the next big hill.  Well it wasn’t the next big hill or 3 but the next water station that he motored by me.  I thought I would likely pass him on the flats somewhere but … we were a long way from the flats.  His power hill walking was better than mine and I didn’t see him again.  I realize later he didn’t finish but at the time I considered myself in last for sure now.

After another OPP monitored road crossing, I was about 5km/6km in and 9/10km to go when the 15k-only first section met up with the 5k/10k courses with all people running the same path.  At least I would have some company … albeit heading the other way.

No Woman, No Cry - 5k onward
The course got really hilly and really hot.  Hill after hill gets confusing.  I tried to power walk as much as I could and ‘just shuffle’ as I crested the tops and ran on the flats and down-hills.

There was one big downhill section that had six or seven 5k or 10k runners coming up the hill.  They looked smashed.  I thought to myself … ‘I am going to have 5k or 10k more on my legs when I hit that hill the other way!’

The heat was brutal.  The terrain challenging.  It was uphill to downhill, repeat.  I took in water and soaked myself at stations when I could but I was hurting.

Shortly after the 4th water station (I think) I started to cross into the section only the 10k and 15k runners were running.  This section was an out and back.  I started coming across people I knew.

Rastaman Vibrations (yeah, Positive!) – 6km
Fellow Barrie Running Ninjas: Lewis, Sara, Rick, Rob, Trevor and Patrick on their 10k and 15k races passed me and gave me the high five with encouraging words.  It was a nice boost.  I was glad they all looked strong and their support lightened my feet a bit.

I had read an article in a running magazine on whether it was good or bad to give people at the back of the pack the old ‘keep it going’ or ‘you’re doing great.’  When I read it I remembered doing that on countless occasions as I passed people heading out on a race as I was heading in and legitimately trying to encourage them.

Well … thinking I was basically in last place meant nearly every person heading the other way gave me encouragement … let me tell you … the jury is still out.  I appreciated the positive vibes but part of me felt like ‘Do I look defeated?  Because I'm not!’

Confrontation - Out and back loop - 7km to 13km
There is a time in every running race where you have a confrontation.  A confrontation with yourself.  Being alone for much of the run now I had lots of time to think.

Several times the heat got the better of me and I started feeling ‘the sweats’ coming over me.  I had felt like that a few times before when pushing myself too much.

I was running last in a race and feeling rough.  I didn’t consider turning around or quitting.  I just kept plugging away.  Honestly, my place in the race didn’t bother me.  I knew how hard I had run and pushed on.  I ran past fellow Ninja and run leader of our of MEC running group Jim Willett who was marshaling the course on bike and he offered a 'keep pushing' but no bike ride.

Turning around at the final water station I let them I know I was likely in last place and they could pack up and head home.  They had been counting runners and informed me I wasn’t in last ... I felt they were wrong.

The way into the finish stretch was just an exercise in pushing and working hard.

Lively Up Yourself - 13km to Finish
Hitting the last aid station I knew the way in was pretty flat and although it did lead out into the hot direct sun I was on my way to the finish.

Greeting last place me on the way into the finish were some of the Barrie Running Ninjas who so graciously stuck around to see me come in.

I ran through the inflated banner and felt like a champion with my head held high!

For the record I wasn’t last after all.  I finished alone at 45 of 52 and that was just the people who completed the race.  Rather than dwell on the people ahead or behind me I asked 'what would Bob Marley think?'  In that light, I like to think I ran better than the me of 2 years ago who might be sitting on the couch that morning rather than 'blasting' through the woods.

For anyone considering this race they should expect a well run event, a challenging course and amazing people.

It may have been the air conditioning and Bob Marley music on the way home but when I pulled into my driveway I felt like going for another run … One Love.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Am I A Real Runner?

Am I A Real Runner?

“Veronica and I are trying this new fad called “jogging”, I believe its “jogging” or “yogging” it may be with a soft ‘J’ I am not sure, apparently you just run for an extended period of time … it’s supposed to be wild.”  Ron Burgundy – Anchorman Channel 4 News

It’s an odd thing but I have heard and read on a few different occasions when people have said “he’s not a jogger he’s a runner”.

A guy I know asked me how fast I ran and after I told him and he said “oh, you’re jogging then…”

What if I run at the speed you jog?  What then?  Have you seen these legs?

Have you ever heard someone tell their kid “don’t run with scissors … oh wait, your jogging … go ahead.”  I think I might prank call someone and ask them "Is your refrigerator jogging?"

My wife said something funny the other day, “I didn’t know a runner could look like you”.  Zing!  Thanks Honey!  She explained while laughing how impressed she was with my accomplishments yet still haul around my extra poundage.  I feel better now!  At least she didn't call me a Jogger.

But is there a great debate?  I did a web search and found some conflicting/confusing information and it returned a bunch of different criteria:

“Joggers run with mantras like ‘push out the pain’ runners run with mantras like ‘no fun, no run’”.  I actually figured it would be opposite ...

“In jogging, the speed is generally considered to be less than 9MPH, while in running, the speed is normally more than 9MPH.”

“Running, on the other hand (vs. Jogging), is done at a faster pace. A mile is typically completed in 8 minutes or less … Runners often maintain that same fast pace throughout a running event. They don't slow down and they don't quit unless they've injured themselves.”  Hmmm ... sounds like the jogger camp thinks that runners are a little psycho ... no comment.

“Joggers have more of a bouncy movement when they move, while runners have a steady rhythm that includes longer steps and faster arm swing”

Well I think that clears it up perfectly!  The only thing that is more confusing to me is when serious ‘runners’ get mad if they are referenced as ‘joggers’.

Here are some reasons I may be a ‘real’ runner:

I have swallowed a bug while running.

I have gotten so lost running trails I ended up back where I started without intending to.

I have left an item of unneeded clothing and malfunctioning ipod hidden on a run in order to come 
back and get it later.

I catch myself nodding at other runners, when I am in the car.

I feel more comfortable forgetting my wallet going to work than forgetting my GPS watch on a run.

I have 4 pairs of running shoes … hold on … 5.

I ran in 7 races last year.

I have plans to do something creative with my race bibs … though I won’t.

I wear my race medals for 24 hours after receipt no matter where I go.

I’ve been tempted while stuck in traffic on the highway to just park the car and go for a run.

When I taper for a week before a race I feel the very real phantom injuries coming on.

I admit to creeping people on

I have a double running stroller … and I have taken drinks from the kids’ sippy cups on a hill climb.

I have a running clothes drawer.

I know the distance to every major intersection in every direction within 10k of my house.  When people in my city ask how far away I live, I tell them in Kilometers with a decimal point.

I have watched a marathon on TV and even worse, I have watched a marathon online.

Also, lastly, I have a running blog, you should check it out.


It doesn't really matter I suppose.  I run faster than some, slower than most and long enough to make a lot of people think I am crazy.

In the end … you be the judge … is this the face of a jogger?

I hope this article has helped muddy the waters and fueled the debate.