Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Forest City Road Races

Jennifer texted me in January to ask if I was free on May 4.  The Mississauga Marathon was scheduled for that day, and she would need a ride if she entered.  I had gotten he same promotional e-mail from them, so I clicked on over to the race web site and signed up.  I phoned her to say that I was ready to go.  “Unnh,” she groaned.  “I just wanted to know if the date was available. I’m not sure yet if I want to do the race.” “How about the half?” I suggested. “No, it’s the full or nothing.” The race is on.

 A few weeks later, she was up late studying, bored, and went shopping.  What else is on this spring?  Well, the Run for Retina looks like fun.  It’s the same course as the half she did last fall.  So she signed up for the 10 k, and added 10 k in the Forest City Road Races.  Now it’s spring.  She’s doing marathon training, and 10 k is too short 3 weeks out, so she upgraded her race to the half.  Then, she texted me to ask if I wanted to come along.  No, I don’t.  I’ve got my scheduled races, and this isn’t a racing weekend.  Except, I want to support her athletics, my scheduled run for the day happens to be the half, and there’s nothing in the world I would rather be doing Sunday morning than run with her. So off I went to run for retina.


Two weeks later, and it's another race day in London.  The Forest City Road Races.  Both daughters are entered in the 10 km race.  I'm not running. Today I am hero support.  Meghan hasn't trained, but Jen and I want to encourage her to do this.  It's a great sport. 

Off they went.  I got to see the winners coming in. That's a rare treat.  Then I headed to the intersection where they return to the park.  and waited.  and waited.  and waited.  Most everyone was lost in their music, so I wasn't cheering.  The cow bell was at home.  An hour and a half in, the fun run was held, so I went to watch that.  Where were my girls?  They were walking at the tail end, with the marshal on bike following closely to see that they make it all the way. I hope Jen's ready for the coming pain next weekend.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Run For Retina - Race Report

The forecast was for rain, and the highway was wet as I drove to Jen's place to collect her for the race.  She was walking her dog.  She takes such good care of that dog.  Off to Tim Hortons for the traditional bagel with peanut butter. It's the food you need for the struggle to come. I unpacked my new shoes and put them on.  This was my first time wearing them.  

"Do you have Gu?" I asked.  

"Yes, of course."  She showed me her handful of them.  

"Any extra? I'm out and didn't get any at packet pick-up."

"At the house."  There was time, so we went back to her house, and she got me some Gu packs.  Like me, she buys them by the carton. It would have been nice of me to ask for them when we were here the first time.  Off to the starting area.  Traffic is light, and there's some free parking on the street. In the municipal lot, you would have to pay the Sunday rate.

"Where's my fanny pack", Jen asked, looking around the back seat. It's not there.  I looked under all the seats. 

"You carried your wallet in hand into Tim Hortons, so I know it wasn't abandoned there." I offered. "Do you want to go to your house to look?"


"We don't have time."  It was a rhetorical question, meant to find out how important the pack was.  Maybe we could come up we an alternate strategy.

"Oh!  I remember."  She opened the lid of the shoe box.  "I was being organized," she giggled.  There was the pack and her Gu, in the shoe box.  
Jen 5 minutes before the start

It was chilly but not bad. We wouldn't be shivering, or have to carry extra clothes. There's not a big crowd, so we didn't show up until just 15 minutes to go.  There was hardly a line at the porta-potties. The race start area apparently was under water just a week ago when the spring runoff peak flow went through.  A couple muddy patches remained.
Me 4 minutes before race start

Our course began by heading north a couple kilometers, then turned around to come back.  The 5 km race uses this northern leg.  We then headed west along the river, using the same course as the 10 km race.  The river scenery was lovely.  The trees haven't begun to sprout, so it felt like late autumn, with them all bare, and the ground covered in leaves.  The sun came out as we made it back from the north leg, and continued until turn around in the west end.  Fine spring weather. Local charities love this course.  There's no need for police to be stopping traffic.  We go underneath bridges where each of the streets meet the river, and through a tunnel under the railway embankment. 
Jen adjusts the fanny pack

For the first time, I listened to music while running with someone.  It's a long way, and I feel much better when running to music.  I mostly used only one ear, pulling the headset of of the one on Jen's side.  

Normally I don't concern myself with race times. How did Dr. Seuss put it, "They run for fun in the hot hot sun."  Today, Jen said she wanted to go for 2:30, which I thought was possible for her.  I figured about 7 min/km, and checked my phone for our time at each marker.  We started off slow, and were several minutes behind schedule by 5 km, so we picked up the pace.  We had no washroom breaks;  that would have ruined us.  After turn-around on the west leg (about 13 km) I began to nag regularly to keep moving, keep the pace, keep the legs turning over.  She held on to our necessary speed finishing in 2:30 plus a few seconds. Good job.  This bodes well for the Mississauga Marathon in 3 weeks. She's much better prepared than last year for the Good Life.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

You can't go home, but you can go biking there

I went back for a visit with my mom, and brought my bike.  Wow, I can sure cover a lot more ground than when I was 12.  I circled from the north end down south through the Chippewa reservation.  I visited all of the old haunts.  

This is the church which I first attended.  Now it belongs to the Masons.  The beat up King James Bible which they gave me is one of the oldest and most treasured keepsakes I have from my childhood. They sent a converted school bus around to collect local children for Sunday School.  My parents would come later for regular church service, and bring us home.  My parents were graduates of Eastern Pentecostal Bible College, with aspirations of going into the church ministry.  

Former Bethel Pentecostal Tabernacle
Here is my high school.  For highest achievement in grade 13 chemistry I was awarded a copy of the  CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
S.C.I. & T.S
This was my elementary school.  There was no middle school.  A year after I graduated, it was closed and sold to the armed forces for use as an armoury.  
Former Confederation St School
There's now a tank on the lawn.  I remember playing british bulldog on that lawn.

After my dad died of cancer, we began attending church here, at the Gospel Chapel.  It was close enough that we could walk there.  I wonder know whether some lingering resentment with the Pentecostals made my mother switch churches.  I remember them coming to the house to pray for him.  There seemed to be expectations of a miraculous healing. Their attitude seemed to be that failure to achieve this indicated a lack of adequate faith on his part.  My mom took this to mean that is was somehow his fault that he was dying.

Our cat would always follow us to church, sneaking through the bushes and across everyone's lawn.  One day, when we stayed through the afternoon for some special event, people took notice of a gray cat peering in the door and crying.  She was tired and hungry and wanted to go home.

Before Sunday school we would sings songs, then have a participation game with the group.  Look up the Bible verse, name the character, or something like that.  I did really well at trivia, which I attributed to the excellent Biblical grounding the Pentecostals had given me.
Devine Street Gospel Chapel
The petrochemical plants dominate the skyline to the south end of town.
Chemical valley
I biked south for some time seeking this brightly flaming stack, which could be seen from my mom's balcony.  I was farther than I wanted to go that day, so I turned back before reaching that particular facility.  
Burning off the exhaust gas