travel

Chicago Marathon (2020)

Distance
Race Status
When
7 months 2 weeks hence

On December 12th on my way to a holiday breakfast at work, my email chimed with the following note:

Congratulations! Your application for an entry to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon has been selected. Log into your participant account to manage your events, update your personal settings, buy products and much more!

Your entry is valid for your participation only in the 2020 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and cannot be transferred. Your entry fee cannot be refunded.

Thus began a ten month journey to get to the start line of yet another marathon, in a city where I'd never been, for a race distance I swore to myself I'd never run again. What could go wrong? At this point, nothing... I hope.

February 11, 2020

It’s on. We booked our hotel and flights last night. Non-refundable. No looking back.

Backup: yeah, two month after I rolled lucky in the race lottery we’re just now booking flights. Right. That’s correct. ‘Cause in my head I was pondering the possibility that this was a great big maybe on the race roster. Back in December the value proposition for a weekend in Chicago, flights and folly for three people (the Kid will be a teenager, officially, by then) was scoping somewhere around holy crap and #wtf. Marathon weekend room rates were looking to set us back triple the rack rate, and flights were unjustifiably expensive or multi-day multi-leg layover marathons of a different sort. My marathon was looking to cost us net about twenty-five hundred shiny Canadian dollars per day.

Fast forward. Pica and Lucas (also entered) were considering a Plan B for me where I brought a sleeping bag or stowed away in their luggage. Consequently we dove a little deeper into Plan A last night, found a flight package with a-still-expensive but slightly-better-value-prop, added a day to each end of the trip, and smoothed the math to a much more reasonable grand per day (plus DDP allowance.)

Long story short(er) the flights and hotels are locked, the race entry is paid, and the deal is done. Training seems a wee bit more official this morning.

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Okanagan Half (2019)

Distance
Race Status
When
3 months 4 weeks ago

I ran my last half marathon of the year in October and a summer of training followed by an autumn of faster training netted me a pretty decent time.

About mid-month we packed up the new car and drove for twelve hours westward on Friday morning. It was planned. I had registered for the Okanagan Half Marathon in Kelowna, British Columbia, a beautiful little mountain valley city on the edge of a lake and tucked inside a microclimate that made it feel more like September than the nearly-winter chill back home.

I spent ten klicks chasing a loud couple of runners wearing full-length bacon body costumes, then left them behind to pursue my own pace. In the end, I crossed the finish line about a minute short of beating my PR (which I’d set in 2014) and instead settled for my best half time in five years.

One might attribute the new speed to some special training regimen or a dedicated focus. Rather, I think we’ve just been running faster. When the people you train with increase their easy pace by even just 5% it follows that you run faster all the time, and when a race happens… well, you don’t slow down.

My (personal) victory was short-lived and we (almost immediately, after a quick shower) hopped back in the car and drove twelve hours back to Alberta and home.

The snow the met us on the mountain pass was a prelude to the rest of the month of training, and I quickly settled back into a three-per-week run training schedule with little focus on a goal. Not registering for anything will do that to you.

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#oldracemedals

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Rock n Roll Dublin (2019)

Distance
Race Status
When
5 months 4 weeks ago

On the first day of August I woke up shortly before six in the morning, laced up my sneakers, walked down towards the pond near where the swans were still dozing, and started to run. I ran up along a narrow gravel trail, over a small grassy rise, along a small road, past a two hundred year old towering monument to the Scottish hero of lore, William Wallace, down into a slumbering neighbourhood, and plodded across an eight hundred year old stone footbridge, where (as legend would have) the Scots routed the British invaders in the 1300s in a battle made famous in the film Braveheart.

We spent three weeks in Scotland (staying near Stirling) and Ireland in the month of August, and my training continued in the wee hours before everyone else in the forty-seven member travelling group had bothered to get out of bed.

Two weeks in, I skipped out on the official tour, boarded a train, then a bus, then a RyanAir flight to Dublin. The next morning I was standing in Pheonix Park in shorts and crowd of a few thousands of Irish runners getting ready to run a speedy five klick race through the misty rain.

Almost exactly one day later (after a long and convoluted adventure to find my race pickup package, some art supplies, and a cold pint of Guinness) I was standing on a street in Dublin getting ready to run the Dublin Rock’n Roll Half Marathon.

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#rocknroll #dublin 2019 #startline #halfmarathon

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I wasn’t expecting to do too great. I mean, try travelling for over two weeks, sitting on planes and busses, and wandering up and down through tourist locations (which there are generally castles with narrow staircases leading up to vantages) and then do a race. Travel running is awesome, but expectations need to be kept low. When I pulled a three-year personal best out of my backside, in other words, I surprised even myself. It was a positive split, if I’m being completely honest, but filled with a kind of Irish spring in my step through the first eleven klicks, down cobbled roads, around castles and amazing old architecture, to the sounds of cheering crowds and loud music, it all kept be strong.

The Start Line

Then we hit Pheonix Park again, and the rolling hills killed me. But that’s how these things tend to go.

I returned to Canada with a neck laden with multiple bling medals and a few memories, too, and pretty much nothing else I did that month topped that weekend.

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#rocknroll #dublin 2019 #bling

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Rock n Roll San Francisco (2019)

Distance
Race Status
When
9 months 2 weeks ago

San Fransisco was a whim.

I mean, who doesn’t have “run across the Golden Gate Bridge“ on their bucket list? Or, at the very least, the flexibility to add it when six weeks before a race there a cheap flight is discovered online and karma aligns for a weekend getaway in California?

Early in April I found myself standing on a pier in San Francisco dressed in a pair of running shorts and technical shirt with a few thousands of other people, a light, drizzling west coast rain, and a half a loaf of fresh sourdough in in my belly. The Rock n’ Roll half marathon was queued up with an early morning course along the waterfront with a loopback over the bridge and a jut out for a selfie opportunity. My training had been dedicated enough but winter slog-running has a way of keeping one just-fit-enough to get through a race like this, and knowing I wasn’t going to set any personal records I opted to run it modestly and carry a camera. Ah-hem… bucket list? I finished with about fifteen extra minutes on the clock than my A-goal, and with a refresher on the lesson that ocean-front bridges are actually hella-big hills.

Race Footage

I ran with a GoPro Hero 6 and caught some footage along the course. Shaky, as expected, but enjoy for what it is.

The mini-vacation was far too short, but getting away even for a few days is a soul-cleanser. And we stuffed ourselves silly on sourdough and seafood and chocolate. It’s not that I don’t like running locally, but April became a bit of a flagpole in my mind for travel running and understanding one of the big three benefits I’ve gained from the sport:

  1. the people I’ve met
  2. the fitness I’ve gained, and
  3. the places it’s taken me

By the time we got back to Canada, spring was pushing full momentum (though as always the snow is a little stubborn) and I burned a lot of klicks (on foot) maintaining for two more races in May and (on wheeels) building for the tri I had scheduled for June. It was a good spring. I was hopeful for a good year. There was a good team around. Work was busy but not nutty. We were starting to trip over election signs while out running too, but local politics hadn’t quite gone off the rails yet.

The year was (mostly) still young.

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#halfmarathon candid

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#oldracemedals

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Rock'n Roll Las Vegas (2018)

Distance
Race Status
When
1 year 3 months ago

Las Vegas was, believe it or not, a family vacation.

We connected with Jenn and family and planned a multi-week trip that started with a race and ended with a theme park. Vegas was not the first choice for a race, tho. Originally, we had been talking about a California adventure that included Disneyland and one of those great RunDisney races I'd done previously. But the RunDisney folks seemed to have dropped all plans to continue running through Anaheim.

Plan B was to fly to Vegas, run the Rock'n Roll down the strip, then drive over to California.

In the end, four of the crew made it to the start line: three halfers, and Ron opting for the Full.

Race Recap Video

I brought a GoPro along with me on this race, as I do with many "fun" runs. It's always a little shaky, but you get the point.

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#halfmarathon #startline #running #race

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