Friday, September 4, 2009

Canada Day Road Race 2009

It's a beautiful Wednesday morning - July 1, 2009. I meet top runners, AJ Rankel and Stephen Toal, at Stephen's house. The mood is light, subdued (my attempt at humor is greeted by obligatory laughter). We do a warm-up run to the legislative grounds and head straight for the porta potty. The long lines force us to use other alternatives....

Start time is drawing near. AJ, Stephen, and I make our way to the front of the start line. Greeting us is Matt Normington, Nial McGrath, and Brian Torrence. Damn, this is NOT going to be a easy race! I stealthily check out my competition; I'm feeling fat in my compression gear....

Once again, I surprise myself and start slowly. AJ and everyone else tear off down the hill at 5 million miles an hour; Stephen and I plod down the hill together. Stephen pulls away from me at about 1K to catch AJ. I pass 1K at 3:30 - a bit fast. It takes me to Groat Bridge before I pull up to Stephen and ask him why we do this! I don't remember his answer, but I am sure it was witty.

Stephen and I stick together until the entrance to Hawrelak Park. AJ and Russell Goeschalk are just a few steps ahead. At this point, I feel a boost of confidence, which I can thank fellow Fasttrax runner, Jonathan Withey, for (Jon and I have spent countless hours doing speed work in the park). It's slightly downhill and I want to take advantage of the grade.

I pass Stephen, Russell, and AJ and start closing on Nial. Near the edge of the park, I somehow succeed. Next comes the cruel climb up Emily Murphy Hill. I feel like I crawl up the hill; at the top is Christine Rankel, AJ's lovely wife (and brilliant photographer). She doesn't recognize me due to my girth and heavy breathing.

Unknown to me, there is a clash of the titans happening for sixth place (which I am glad I had no part of)! Nial and AJ battled side-by-side from Emily Murphy to the finish. AJ edges Nial at the line, but Nial gets AJ on chip time. Very exciting!!

I hold my pace, feeling stronger than I have a right to. I cross the line in 53:51, 5th overall. Not bad for an old, "thick" guy. I think this may actually be the best race I have ever had....

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