Inspired Running Day-Terry Fox Tribute Run

I had honor of participating in the Terry Fox Tribute Run this past Saturday April 12.  Most of us Canadians are familiar with the Terry Fox Runs that take place in September that raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation.  This run is a little different in that it is not a fund-raiser, instead the organizer’s are lobbying to have April 12 named Terry Fox Day.  From their Facebook page;

“On April 12, 1980 Terry Fox dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean, starting on his historic Marathon of Hope. Terry called on all Canadians to carry on his dream in the event that he couldn’t finish.  Every April 12, runners from every province and territory in Canada will run 42.2 kms, carrying Terry’s flag, in honour of Terry Fox’s life and legacy. This is not a race, not a fundraiser or endorsed by the Terry Fox Foundation.”

Our running buddy Cameron was the representative from Ontario and invited Dan and I a long.  I met up with Cameron at 7am for breakfast and met Glemena, the organiser for the Ontario run.  She had planned the route so that we would start at Toronto City Hall and run north up Yonge Street to Richmond Hill and turn around at Ransom Park, where a monument to Terry Fox will be unveiled in September 2015.  I wasn’t really planning on running the whole way, but after chatting with Glemena over breakfast I decided I had to at least try.

Like many Canadians Terry Fox is a hero of mine, we learnt about his inspirational feat in school and participated in his run every year, I always thought he was “bad-ass” and would’ve wanted to meet him.  Well I got the next best thing in Glemena, she ran with Terry Fox from Toronto to Perry Sound.  I was enthralled and inspired by the stories she told us over breakfast and the pictures she had to show us of her and Terry, she is an amazing inspiration herself and I just knew I wanted to spend the rest of the day in her company.

After breakfast we met at City Hall to start the run.  Glemena and her friend Anthony would be supporting us in their truck as we ran (it was the real deal, the truck had flashing lights and signs warning of runners ahead, and lot’s of Terry Fox stickers!), it was awesome as they had a cooler full of water and snacks, and when ever we ran out of sidewalk we felt safe running in front of the truck.

Start line. Cameron, Me, Mitch, Bill, and Dan

Start line.
Cameron, Me, Mitch, Bill, and Dan

The only catch with the run is that we had to run with the Terry Fox flag at all times, which isn’t really a catch at all, until you try to run with a flag.  It’s harder than it looks.

Our group at our largest.

Our group at our largest.

Dan carried a flag for the full 15km he ran, and the rest of us took it in turns (admittedly I was lucky enough to not have to carry it all that much but the bruise on my right shoulder would argue otherwise.) It turned out to be such a fun and inspiring day.  I met other great runners, including Sam who I’d seen at some ultras but will now be hanging out with at ultras and Bill, an awesome runner who is training for his first ultra (100km!), GO BILL!!!

Corner of Yonge St and somewhere

Corner of Yonge St and somewhere.

Eventually there were only 4 of us who would get to the turn around and back, but our spirits were always high, as were our flags!

Entering Richmond Hill, I was now closer to my childhood home than I was to my adulthood home.

Entering Richmond Hill, I was now closer to my childhood home than I was to my adulthood home.

It was amazing people’s reactions to us.  We heard a lot of honking (although sometimes I think that was at the slow-moving truck in front of them), people would stop us to ask what we were running for then give us a “good job”, people would cheer and high-five us, and at one of your break stops a man bought us a case of water, how sweet.

Ransom Park, for our photo shoot.

Ransom Park, for our photo shoot.

At Ransom Park two media outlets came to take pictures and interview Glemena.

Finished! Anthony, Me, Bill, Sam, Glemena and Cameron

Finished!
Anthony, Me, Bill, Sam, Glemena and Cameron

Thanks Cameron, for inviting us along.  Thanks Glemena and Anthony, for taking care of us. Thanks to all the runners and support we received, and to Bill for passing along some pics!

I’m sad that I’ll miss out on doing this again next, but Dan and I have decided that no matter where we are next year on April 12 we are going to run a marathon and hopefully it will be Terry Fox day!

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DC Marathon Race Report

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

Last Saturday Dan and I ran the Rock n Roll DC Marathon.  We decided to use the race as a supported training run and weekend city break.  Having never been to Washington DC I thought it would be a great way to tour the city.

We went from the airport straight to packet pickup, the expo was chaotic, but I was impressed by how quickly we managed to get our bibs and gear check tags, we also got the chance to figure out the metro system to get back to our hotel.  I was a little nervous about the race as I really don’t like big marathons, there was 30000 people registered, this included the half-marathoners, the course layout had us all run to together for 12 miles before the marathoners would split off.  Unsurprisingly I didn’t sleep well the night before despite this being a training run (and to be fair every time I say I’m going to use a race as a training run I always end up racing it), so I had my typical pre-race grumpiness going on during our walk to the start line.  Once there we were met by hoards of people which did not help my mood.  Bag check was disorganized and took way too long, once we found our start coral we queued for the 6 porta potties provided (for 1000 people) so we ended up not using the bathroom before we started (to be honest I didn’t really need to go, it’s a psychological thing to use it before you start a four hour run).  There were a lot of distressed people freaking out about missing their start times, I was happy that we weren’t concerned with our finishing time.  By the time we advanced to the official start, it was getting light and I was starting to get excited.

The start line.

The start line.

Off we went on our tour of DC.

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument

There was a lot to see, so I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of everything.  About 30 seconds after we passed the monument Dan told me we would have to stop at the next bathroom because he really did need to pee.  So 2km we stopped, for 7 minutes to wait for the bathroom.  Luckily it was right by a pretty good band that turned pop songs into punk songs.

Picture of the band while I waited for Dan.

Picture of the band while I waited for Dan.

Next we almost entered Virginia via the bridge that leads to Arlington National Cemetery but we just went around the round about.  This race prides itself on being run within the DC limits.

Bridge to Arlington

Bridge to Arlington

There was also the Lincoln Memorial from the back.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Then we approached the “big” hill at mile 6, I like hills and was disappointed at how not big it was.

I don't know if it has a special name like the one in Boston, but there were a lot of people cursing it.

I don’t know if it has a special name like the one in Boston, but there were a lot of people cursing it.

After the climb we ran through some very cute neighbourhoods, very English looking at times.  We both commented on how well received and supported this race was, there were spectators all along the course.  I especially enjoyed going by the fraternity houses and guessing who hadn’t gone to bed yet.  They were troopers, offering beers and good cheer.  Then suddenly we were headed back to the centre.

Capitol Hill (we actually ran by this numerous times.)

Capitol Hill (we actually ran by this numerous times.)

Then we split from the 25000 half marathoners and carried on our way.  This building reminded me of the one from Back to the Future movie.

The scene with the clock and the car...it's been awhile since I've seen it.

The scene with the clock and the car…it’s been awhile since I’ve seen it.

Then I spotted something familiar.

The Canadian Flag

The Canadian Flag

Out of all the beautiful buildings in Washington, our embassy seems to be in the least inspiring.

Nice sentiment, ugly building.

Nice sentiment, ugly building.

After running a weird loop de loop, we ended up  by the water.

Lovely river running.

Lovely river running.

Then things got a bit ghetto, like for real.  Houses were boarded up, no one was around, and I’m pretty sure if something happened to you nobody would every find your body.

One of the numerous sketchy yards we passed.

One of the numerous sketchy yards we passed.

It didn’t help that we both had some rough patches along this stretch, but eventually things picked up.

Some energetic cheerleaders.

Some energetic cheerleaders.

The road finally turned towards the finish, of course it was uphill and around a bend, I saw a bunch of advertising flags and thought that was the finish but no we had turn a sharp corner and then we were done.

The medal.

The medal.

I was annoyed because all the half marathoners drank the free chocolate milk, I really like chocolate milk.  There was beer left though.

Free "ultra" beer.

Free “ultra” beer.

It wasn’t milk, I didn’t finish mine and Dan wouldn’t finish mine which mean this beer is gross.

All in all our race went well, I didn’t race and we came in at 4:19:48, just over Dan’s marathon PB (if only he hadn’t needed to pee!).  I would recommend the half course to everyone the marathon course was a bit meh.  It was obvious that the race directors put more effort into putting on an amazing half marathon over the full.  We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and checking out some of the sights that we missed.

We saw someone returning from a run while standing there, we have decided it was the President.

We saw someone returning from a run while standing there, we have decided it was the President.

Reflecting Pool

Reflecting Pool

A Toad, some Hope and a Fat-Ass

Heather

Welcome to the new Race In Pieces!  What does everybody think?  Be honest.  We thought we’d give the site a little update since the DeathRace has come and gone (hard to believe), it’s still a work in progress so please bare with us.

As for Dan and I we are back in training mode.  We are running this weekends Yorkville B&o 5km.  I’m excited for this run because it will be Dan’s stepfather, Gaz, international debut!  It’s been awhile since he’s run a road race and I’m so happy that we can share in this with him.

Dan’s next big race is the Run for the Toad 50km on October 1.  It’s a trail race but a relatively flat one (he seems to be drawn to flat these days).  I’ll be running the 25km as a training run (haha, we all know that I’ll end up getting caught up and ‘race’).

My goal race is the Road 2 Hope marathon in Hamilton.  This is also a flat (net downhill) course (so maybe I’m a little drawn to flat these days too).  This race will be exciting too as it will be my Big Sister’s comeback half-marathon, she hasn’t run a road race since 2007, and injury plagued her earlier in the year, so fingers crossed she can make the start line on November 6.

Our last race of the year is slated for November 13 (only a week after my marathon), it’s trail race in Batawa, called the Fat-Ass.  That’s the main reason I want to do it, I want a race shirt that says I’m a Fat-Ass.  It also helps that I met the wonderful race director, Sandy of Tri and Run Sports (located in Trenton), she is easy-going and gives out awards for being the slowest and dirtiest, I figure with my propensity to falling over and being slow I might just win a prize!  Big Sister will also be joining us for her trail race debut and we are hopping that Little Sister and Little Sister’s Fiancé will too and maybe even Big Sister’s husband???  I will continue to harass them until I get my way (I think some of Dan’s only childness is rubbing off on me)!

And to think I thought things would settle down after the DeathRace, silly me.

There goes the first toe nail…

Heather

It’s finally happened. One of my toenails has gone black, I’m lucky (so far) that I don’t lose toenails, mine just turn black and hurt for a bit.  I’m surprised it’s taken this long. I just finished growing out two black nails from my marathon last October and I’ve been putting my feet through so much more.

As for the bumps by my medial malioli, they were caused by me wearing my shoes too tight. The one on my right foot is gone, the big one on my left is still there but is no longer painful and it’s smaller. I think it’s subsided a little with all the icing but I’m not convinced it will go away completely.

Other than those tiny issues I’m quite pleased at how well my body has been faring.  Except for when I’m throwing my face on the floor.  The kilometers continue to build and I actually seem to be getting stronger with them, I’m actually starting to believe that we wont be the first deaths of the DeathRace!

The Marathon: Part 2

Dan

The self doubts I had been experiencing evaporated as soon as the race started; I was more than trained to do this distance. Like so many “first times” what was to follow would at times be exciting, all consuming, and leave me feeling sleepy but eager to do it again, however it did differ in that I would have liked it to be over faster!!!!

Half way and feeling good!

I was under strict instructions from Heather not to treat this as a race it was supposed to be a long slow training run (with no traffic). Interesting coming from the girl with klaxon amnesia but I am an obedient husband so long and slow it is.  The plan was to stick with the 4:30 pace bunny, I diligently did just that, well at least until we hit the 2km when the pace group took their first walk break. They were doing 10 and 1’s not something I have trained to do. So after 12 mins of the marathon I was on my own, after 19km I was just behind the 4:15 pace group so much for pacing myself.

Everything seemed to be going peachy, at 21km I had passed the 4:15 group and shortly after ran past Heather and Big Sister cheering me on. This great feeling stayed until the 30km mark, which I hit at 2:59 (far too fast). The last 12km were not going to be as great, the weather deteriorated the rain got heavier and the head wind picked up, so that last stretch was a real grind.    To make it worse the lakeshore stretch of the race is pretty dull and the weather meant not many spectators to cheer us on. The highlight of the final push was meeting a fellow DeathRacer, really helped pick up my spirits and it is always good having someone encourage a sprint finish – cheers fella.

The final time on the clock was 4:18, not lightening quick but a lot of fun. I’m particularly proud of my quick turn around from finish line to pub.

Bring on our first ultra.

The race was THIS big...

The Marathon: Part 1

Dan

My first marathon was weighing heavy on my mind. For all the kilometers I have been covering over the last few months very few of them have been without Heather by my side.  I was becoming genuinely concerned that I didn’t have the mental fortitude to complete the 42.2 km on my own.  This fear was also starting to manifest itself in my sleep, the week leading up to the marathon was

Damn wrong shoes!

filled with all manner of bazaar dreams.

The most vivid of these dreams found me at a deserted start line, anxiety coursing through my veins. The race is due to start, trying to calm my nerves, running through a mental checklist of my race readiness, I get to my feet, shoe laces tied? Hang on these aren’t my running shoes they are my bloody silly slip on bird shoes. Panic stricken I dash to the locker (I have a locker?) whip on my runners and sprint back to the start line, the count down begins 3 – I’m going to be ok, I’m going to be ok 2- breath, relax 1- sh@t, sh#t, sh*t how the hell did this happen, how did they get there, why are the bird shoes back on my feet?!?!

My mood was also starting to become effected. By the Saturday before the race I had a headache that I just couldn’t seem to shake, the family were staying with us the night before the race and I was finding it hard to engage and socialize feeling slightly disconnected from my surroundings. Fortunately we were spending a soggy night watching Toronto FC promise so much but deliver so little, this gave me a social reprieve, after the game I made my apologies and retreated to bed.

I slept surprisingly well, the next morning I went through my regular pre run routine, nipples taped, crotch and bum vaselined, pack check, this familiarity served to settle my nerves, by the time were headed out to the start the dread had morphed into something approaching excitement.

After watching Heather, her mommy and little sister head out on their half marathon it was my turn.  In the start corral I felt a little overwhelmed and out of place, the nerves were starting to creep back, then the count down started 3-I’m going to be ok, I’m going to be ok 2-relax breath 1- awesome I have my running shoes on, let’s do this.

The nerves are gone, honest, can't you tell by the look on my face?

Off My Leash

Heather

This weekend Dan and I trained separately. I think it was good to have a break from each other, we spend a lot of time together these days….

The Cheer Squad in their personalised tees.

Saturday morning I ran 37km.  I was lucky not to be rained on but it was sooo humid.  I designed a figure eight route so that I could pop home to check-in and use the facilities.  First half of my run was great, a little quiet as it was marathon weekend here in Toronto.  I had a woman’s dog follow me for about 800 meters along the Belt Line before a runner coming in the opposite direction pointed out the out of breath owner widely waving her arms.  By the time she caught up to me and took control of her pet I thought I was going to have to administer CPR, I politely pointed out that she should consider taking up running if she was planning on letting her dog off leash. (To be fair to the dog I didn’t even notice he was there he was stealthy but I think happy to be running). 
By the time I hit 21km I was back home I was feeling great, had to change my shirt and top up my water but headed out feeling positive.  Maybe a little too positive, my pace was a tad fast but it felt good and I was running across College street so I was stopping for lots of red lights. As I ran past a cute breakfast place I spotted my friend Angie sitting in the window, went and had a quick chat I was sadly disappointed to discover her group had just placed their orders so there was no food for me to steal (I was feeling a titch hungry) as I ran off it occurred to me that that is what normal people do on Saturday mornings. Meet friends for breakfast catch up over yummy food. I want to say I was jealous but I’ve come to terms with me freakish enjoyment of long distance running. I started to pay for my quick pace around 33km with some major cramping, I’ve never really had this problem before but, oh my lady gaga, you know when it’s starts to happen.  I stopped and stretched and stretched and stretched and finally got comfortable enough to run again. When my garmin finally beeped for 37km I was only at union station and since my legs were killing me I opted to jump on the subway home, I got a few strange looks.

The runners (I didn't receive the memo re: red shirts)

Sunday morning we were up early as both sisters and my parents had arrived the evening before since they were also participating in the Toronto marathon.  Mommy, little sister and I were running the half and Dan the full.  We piled into taxis and off we headed for the start line, but not before giving our cheerleaders their own free t-shirts!!! It was cool day for the run and it rained off and on and let’s not forget the 35km wind gusts.  Let’s just say I was so happy I only had to run the half!  I love this course and was surprised by the number of supporters along the route despite the weather.  The last 3km were by far the toughest as we were running into a chilly head wind, I had balled my hands into fists to try and keep them warm, this became a problem when I tried to wave at spectators as we approached the finish line and wasn’t able to unfurl my hand. (Any spectators reading this I was honestly trying to wave, not shake my fist at you.  To the guy running the 5km and asking how much further, I was shaking my fist at you.)  My mom and I literally ran into the back of some runners who decided the timing mat before the finish line was the finish, I think we lost a couple of seconds there for sure…

Can you spot us?

The full marathon starts an hour after the half so I had time to rush to the half way mark of the marathon in time to see Dan go by, it he looked fabulous.  I was happy to see him smiling even though the weather conditions were less than favorable.  I thankfully had enough time to have a quick shower and get dressed in warm/waterproof clothing to head back to the finish line to await Dan (living so close to the finish of marathon has it’s benefits).  I thoroughly enjoyed being a cheerleader for the hour or so that we waited for Dan.  It is so inspiring to watch all the runners coming through, achieving their goals and doing something that many people can’t say they’ve done.  Dan looked great when he crossed the finishing line; he looked like a super hero as they draped his solar blanket around his shoulders (he chose to wear his pack for the run so the blanket just billowed out behind him).  I was so proud of him and although we will be running distances further than this it was still awesome to witness him notch a marathon into his running belt!

Rocking the plastic bags!

Little sister on her way to the finish.

Mommy and me almost done.

And we're done!

Dan on his final approach.