Monday, 25 March 2013

Pups and Racing - Run for L'Arche

Well what a week it’s been. Last Monday we had some bad news – some friends of ours had lost their dog to a cougar up in the Bragg Creek area. Jake was an outdoor dog and had been for the 10 years or so that he had graced this earth, so it was a most unfortunate and very sad way to leave it. Our little dog Wilson had spent many hours playing with Jake since our arrival here 12 months ago – swimming in the lake, chasing the squirrels and generally having a great time together - and he was one of the most gentle, loving, friendly and playful boys you’d ever like to meet. He will never be forgotten by either his family or his many fans that met him over the years, and from our point of view,we will always fondly remember the good times he had with Wilson.

Wilson at Jake playing at Bragg Creek only last Christmas 
It seems a little inconsiderate, but the past week has also been spent trying to find a new live-in playmate for Wilson. Prior to the sad news about Jakey Boy, we’d applied to the local doggy rescue to adopt one of their dogs and whilst we received glowing praise about our suitability as potential owners, we would be unable to adopt whilst Wilson was still intact. This was somewhat upsetting as we felt like we were being forced down a road we didn’t really want to travel, and whilst we acknowledge their policy on responsible dog ownership, it was disappointing that they took this stance with dogs like Wilson that had absolutely no connection with them.

Whilst debating should we/shouldn’t we with regards to Wilson and his manhood, we kept our options open and had a look in the local classifieds for dogs up for sale. Many of them were breeders which we didn’t really want, but then we came across a photograph of a beautiful little dog named Brandy. She was a 5 month old female chocolate Labrador x Border Collie, and the description of her seemed perfect. Her current family was due to move into rented accommodation that wouldn’t allow pets, and therefore they needed to re-home her. The fact that we already had Wilson, plus a moggy and a bunny, seemed to reassure them that Brandy would go to a loving home were we to adopt her, and so we made arrangements to meet up and introduce ourselves to the little lady. Our main concern was whether Wilson would take to her and vice versa, so we took him along with the intention of introducing them to each other and testing the water.

Brandy - Wilson's New Little Sister
As suspected, the first 5 minutes or so involved lots of barking, growling, pulling, and basically any other unruly behaviour you would expect from a devil dog, but as we started to go for a bit of walk, both dogs relaxed as they realized they weren’t a threat to each other. Cue bum sniffing and ear snuffling, and the next thing we know, both dogs are having a wrestle and playing like they’ve known each other for years! It was such a relief and it looked like Wilson was finally going to have a younger sister - she would be joining us over Easter weekend when we’d moved into our new house :o)

With all these activities, it was a good thing that I had a race planned for the following weekend as it meant the couple of rest days I'd taken from raining runs freed up some time to focus on other things.

I’d entered the Run for L’Arche Half Marathon before Christmas as I wanted a spring time road race to determine how my winter training had gone, to gauge my fitness, and to develop a training plan to get me in optimum shape ready for my target races during the summer. I really had no expectation when entering with a view of just suck it and see, and give it my all.

The weather reports in the week leading up to the race were changing daily from forecasts of heavy snow Thursday through to Saturday, to cold, dry and sunny weather. When running home from work midweek, the snow really did come down thick and fast and it was looking like race day would be the same. However, Edmonton bore the brunt of the threatened snow storm whilst Calgary got away with it, so come race morning, we were greeted with beautiful sunshine and blue skies with temperatures around -10 degrees.

It was through entering this race that I’d met some fantastic people – race director Dawn and her assistant Don – who in turn introduced me to their Sunday morning running group. I’d joined them a few times on a weekend for a longer run and I have to say they are a pretty speedy bunch! Running with them has been great and it has certainly helped to have some company and push the pace when I would probably have slacked off on my own.

Don is a very experienced runner and is working wonders coaching Dawn at the moment who is absolutely flying, and having chatted to Don a couple of weeks ago, he reckoned that I would go sub 90 minutes in the race. I doubted it very much as it was 3 years since I’d last ran a sub 90 and that was at Shifnal Half which I won in a time of around 1.28 whilst on my way back from a foot injury. Since then, I’d been running around 1.35, and figured there was absolutely no way I could maintain 4.15km pace for 21km. Realistically, I thought a 1.32 was more likely and I’d already said to Andy that I would do the Calgary Marathon if I ran any quicker. However, the seed had been planted, and I honestly believe that it’s thanks to Don that I started to believe that maybe I could do sub 90 – hell, what harm was there in giving it a go?!

The race started downtown and it really was a beautiful day for running. Considering it was a city road race, it was lovely running alongside the Bow River on the out and back course. It was certainly a flat race too with the only “hills” been up the ramps on foot bridges, and the support of the volunteers and marshals was infallible.

Downtown Calgary and just across the way from Race Start
The out and back course actually helped mentally as I split it into 2 x 10km ish races. I went through the first 10km split in 42.30 which I was extremely surprised by as it was faster than my 10k finishing time at a race I did a few weeks ago. Some serious patches of ice when approaching the midway point caused me to stop and tentatively walk across them for fear of bruising my coccyx even further, causing me to lose some vital seconds although in general, I was feeling pretty good and was somehow managing to hold onto a 4.15 average pace.

The kms past swiftly as I was so busy doing calculations in my head and before I knew it, I was into the last km with about 5 minutes to spare to dip under 90 minutes. The final straight seemed to go on forever and with around 200m to go, the clock had just gone through 1.29 and it was only then that I really believed I could do it!

I crossed the line in 1.29.35 finishing 6th lady, 1st L40 and 22nd overall. The leading lady had a superb run of 1.19 and smashed the previous ladies course record, whilst the men’s winner also walked away with a $250 bonus as he too broke the course record for the men.

Post race celebratory pancakes from the Stampede Caravan seemed well deserved, all provided free of charge to runners and spectators, and boy were they delicious :o)

I have so much to thank Dawn and Don for. First of all, they did a fantastic job with the race, making sure everything went smoothly and spending hours and hours organizing things over the past year which I’m sure has caused lots of headaches and sleepless nights - I loved the event and will certainly be back next year if they’ll have me. But aside from that, they both had the belief that I could run well when I lacked the confidence in myself – if that initial seed hadn’t been planted, I may have just settled for a slower time, so thanks to both of them for the encouragement.

Now that the race is done, I’ve got another busy week ahead as we do our final house inspection prior to our move on Friday, and then of course we collect Brandy on Saturday and welcome her to our new home. This may be the perfect time to have an easy week of running to give the body chance to recover from recent races.

I didn’t have any other races planned until my 100km trail race in June but I am a woman of my word. I did get under 1.32 on Saturday so I WILL be doing the Calgary Marathon at the end of May after all, and hopefully with 2 more months of training, warmer temperatures and less snow (ha – who knows in Calgary!!), I will be able to improve on last year’s time and maybe, just maybe, run a little closer to that magical 3 hour mark again.

1 comment:

  1. You're a sweetheart, Del. I'm so proud of you. Don't stop believing in yourself. You're an amazing girl.


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