Life is a funny old game. Sometimes we plod along, following the same old routine day in, day out, and whilst happy and content with life, we don't feel the need to shout about it. Then other times, there is so much excitement and so much news to share, that it becomes difficult to restrain ourselves, and we feel the urge to tell the whole work, particularly if it's good news.
The past couple of weeks have been like that for me - lots of things happening that have given me a buzz and I've felt like shouting from the mountain tops how happy I am.
A couple of weeks ago, I did the Red Deer Marathon, and I was absolutely delighted to have won my first Canadian marathon. I'm not going to harp on about PRs and what pace I ran, but I was so chuffed to have ran yet another evenly paced marathon. My goal on the day was to run sub 3.15, aiming to go through half way in 1.35 to allow for some slippage in the second half. Yet despite the hills, despite the relentless rain, and despite approximately 8km of the course being run on forest tracks and woodland trails, I passed through half way bang on target, give or take a few seconds, eventually finishing the race in 3.11.09 - even I was surprised at how well things had gone and how good I was feeling at the end!
|Finishing straight of the Red Deer Marathon|
The event itself was fabulous - extremely well organised, very friendly, and with a course that barely touched the main roads and intersections - 99% of it was on river pathways or short stretches of trail, which really gave the feeling of racing out in the sticks.
Undoubtedly, I was over the moon at winning, but what put the biggest smile on my face was finding out that Kim had won the half marathon making her undefeated on the roads this year which is pretty impressive for somebody that prefers trails and mountains for company. Needless to say, there was lots of excitement at the presentation, and we both came away with a considerable medal haul, along with trophies, prize money and other goodies.
|Celebrating our wins :-)|
The following day was Victoria Day so we had a day off work which meant we could sit back, relax and recover. With having a rest day from running, it gave the perfect opportunity to pursue another passion of mine.
Back in the UK, the running club scene is huge, and I was a member of running club from the age of 10 and for the vast majority of the years that followed. Having team mates and training partners was always a big help, and with team competitions on the road and country, it didn't matter how good you were at running as an individual because you always had the team and their support to fall back on.
Here in Canada, running clubs are not as common. Back in Stoke, there were at least 4 running clubs within a 5 mile radius of homewhereas in Calgary, there is just one that I am aware of and I'm already a member Calgary Road Runners.
For the past 12 months, I've been trying to set up a club in Mahogany yet despite constant emails and communication with the Home Owners Association, there hasn't been a regular meeting of the group and people have come and gone without any real commitment to continuing. Unlike the UK, winters in Canada can be very extreme which can deter even the most dedicated of runners from heading outside in stupidly low temperatures and deep snow, and yet since October last year, I waited religiously at the beach parking lot, hoping that maybe somebody would brave the weather and come out to join me. Every time, I ended up heading off on my own pretty much every week.
It would be so easy for me to have given up, but I'm not a quitter and so persevered. Come Victoria Day, I decided that a new change of tack was needed, and despite my reservations about the use of Facebook, I decided to create a page for Mahogany Running Club to try to create greater interaction and to encourage new members. For the next 24 hours, there was a wave of activity as almost 30 people requested to join the group and started to ask questions, It was fantastic!
I've not naive enough to think that all 30 would turn up on the Wednesday, but I figured that if just one person turned up that had joined that group, it would make things worthwhile. As it happened, 3 people turned up that Wednesday - I was so excited and so relieved.
Pathies is from the Congo, whilst Ricardo and his wife Gabriela are from Mexico, and as we ran 2 laps of the lakes together in glorious warm sunshine, I sensed that this was finally just the start of something good. Despite being beginners, they already had a positive "can do" attitude, along with enthusiasm for what they were doing. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to them and making new friends, and I'm convinced that they will spread the word amongst others in Mahogany and that the running club will now continue to grow.
|Pathies, Gabriela and Ricardo - the new Mahogany Running Club :-)|
With so much happening within just a couple of days, I really didn't think that things could get much better, but the following Friday, I had news that I had passed my college exam with 97%. I've always had a dream that one day I would work with animals, with the ultimate goal being to have my own business as either a pet sitter or dog trainer. To help me along the way, I recently signed up to do a couple of courses, and for the past few weeks I've been working through a pet sitting course as well as studying for diploma in animal behaviour. I'm finding the studies extremely interesting, and with willing guinea pigs in the form of Wilson and Brandy on which to test my theories, I really am having fun and learning lots.
I was still on a high about things on Saturday morning when i headed over to the COP for the first race in the Central Alberta 5 Peaks Trail Running Series. I'd done this particular race a couple of years ago when first arriving in Calgary and whilst I had loved the race, I had struggled with not being used to the dry air and altitude of the City.
This time I had no excuses, and despite having done a marathon just 5 days earlier, I wasn't going to use that as an excuse to take things easy nor as an excuse should I have a poor run.
Our friend Alan had helped to design the course so even before he revealed the route, I already knew that it would involve single track trails, with some steep ups and downs. I did wonder how the old legs would cope, particularly as I seemed to remember the hills being pretty steep if not long, and whilst I didn't feel under any pressure to do well, I did want to run faster than I had back in 2012.
The course was beautiful, the weather was beautiful, and even though I did have to walk up some of the hills, I ended up finishing some 6 minutes faster than my previous attempt 2 years ago. I didn't hang around for the presentation but I later found out that I had finished 8th lady and 1st in my age group, meaning that I had qualified for the regional Canadian Mountain Running Championships in June......well, I would have done had I been Canadian, but sadly I've still a couple of years to wait until I can go for citizenship.....!
|5 Peaks Trail Running Series|
Photo thanks to Robert Shaer - official photographer
Next weekend I'm racing again, this time the 50km that is being held as part of the Calgary Marathon's 50th anniversary. I've mentioned before that I wasn't intending to run Calgary this year, but my plans had changed. having won a free place. I'm really looking forward to racing again, and after a good, strong run home from work today, I feel like I should be recovered enough from my marathon exploits earlier this month to have a half decent run.
But next weekend isn't just about me. Several months ago, we put our names forward to host out of town elite athletes that were racing in Calgary. This week we had confirmation of which athletes would be staying at our home and we are really looking forward to hosting Dee from the Congo and Gilbert from Kenya. they arrive on Thursday, and I'm sure there will be plenty of conversation about growing up and life in general as an athlete living in Africa, along with many other things about the cultural differences, politics, education and lots of other social aspects of life. I'm also hoping to pick up some training tips and hear stories about their running careers so far, and I'm pretty sure that it's going to be fascinating.