RHS Teachers & Students going the Distance

I am often reminded that I work in a fantastic school with some really special teachers, and it is worth sharing some of this with everybody else. This year one of our teachers, Nadia Gandhi, decided she wanted to be increase her own personal fitness. She was encouraged and supported by another teacher, Marieve Fontaine, and the two of them signed up for a Somersault Events Try-a-Tri. Soon enough both ladies were running at lunch, biking on the weekends, and getting in swims when they could. To say they were proud of their accomplishments is an understatement.

Fast forward to this school year, and both women wanted to encourage our students to become more active, both physically and socially. Marieve, along with teachers Katie McColeman, and Ruth McKeague, started a girls running club with the goal of completing the 5km or 10km Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women, a race which is focused on increasing awareness of women’s mental health issues.

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Ridgemont Runs for Women 2017

Ridgemont is a school which has students from across the globe. In recent years we have seen an influx of young men and women from Somalia, Nepal, and most recently Syria. Their experiences are varied, but they rarely resemble the life experiences of others. As newcomers to Canada, they also need additional supports in our community. Teacher Nadia Gandhi has partnered with the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISCO) to support a group of student who are entered to run the Ottawa Race Weekend 5k this month. This group started with strength and cardio training during our very cold and snowy Ottawa winter. They ran indoors to begin, and then moved outdoors and ran ran or shine (Ottawa has had a lot of wet days!). As a staff, we are very proud of Ms. Gandhi and her students. Take a moment to read her note about her project:
On May 27th, my ELDCO/DO class will be running a 5km race as part of Ottawa Race Weekend. We are part of OCISO’s team called, ” Running for a New Start – Going the Distance for Refugees”.  
 
Part pilot project/part literacy project in resilience, my students are showing tremendous efforts. Every week since March we have been training and now that the weather ​is warmer we will be tracking our 5km twice a week.
 
As part of our efforts we are fundraising for OCISO. See link below to donate if you are so inclined. 
 
Thanks RHS!
RHS TORW ELD

RHS ELDs going the distance

If you’ve been thinking about supporting a charity, please consider this worthy cause. As we enter one of the busiest times of the school year, these two examples of teachers going beyond the classroom to teach their students life lessons is refreshing and encouraging. Thanks to all of the amazing teachers at my school who make this such an incredible place to work.

Ottawa Craft Beer Run 5k Race Recap

Yesterday I took a chance and ran the 2016 Ottawa Craft Beer Run 5k. The route was a simple out and back along the Rideau Canal, beginning and ending at the newly renovated Landsowne Park with the turn around point at Dow’s Lake. If you have ever visited Ottawa, you know this a scenic and relatively flat route.

The race was part of/connected to the Ottawa Craft Beer Festival, a three day event held at the Aberdeen Pavilion on the Landsowne grounds.  Race registration included a weekend festival pass, a festival beer glass, a shirt, a useful bottle opener finisher’s medal, and a delicious beer from local craft brewer Beau’s. Four Beau’s beers were on offer — the classic Lug Tread, a German Lager styled Marzen, a lighter Belgian style Patersbier, and a tart Danish styled Old Skal. I opted for the strong Marzen as my morning race reward, but returned later during the festival for the Old Skal and I’m glad I waited. Amazing beer, with a unique taste. But I digress. In addition to these race day goodies, there was also samples from gluten free Stoked Oats and giveaways from Yelp.

Racers had the option to pick up their bibs either Friday evening or Saturday morning. I opted for the morning pickup as I didn’t really want to head into downtown traffic on a Friday during my holidays. This decision doesn’t always pay off, but the race organizers had a decent system in place to get bibs in our hands quickly.  Also, prior to the race, there was warm-up yoga on the Great Lawn. Fortunately, the weather was fantastic so this all worked out.

After a quick warm-up run around the lawn and a little yoga, we headed over to the start line set up on Queen Elizabeth Drive along side the UNESCO World Heritage Site Rideau Canal. This year the race worked with local race experts SportStats and Somersault Events to coordinate the race logistics and  provide a chip-timed event. As the Ottawa Craft Beer Run is relatively new (this is only its 3rd year), this move should help cement the event on the local running scene.

Because the race is such a new event, there are still a few growing pains to be worked out. Most notably, the connection with the Ottawa Craft Beer Festival seems a little unclear. Although racers are told they get to enjoy a Beau’s beer following the race, the beer festival organizers and workers did not seem to know this or what the protocol was for getting us our reward. Most likely this was a result of too may moving parts for two connected events; the issues would be easy to resolve with better communication between the festival and the race organizers, followed by clearer instructions to the racers. In the end we did get our drinks, but some people were frustrated by the confusion. Also noted as an issue was the lack of water at the end of the race, as well as the absence of washrooms. I suspect the organizers assumed the location would have public access washrooms, but these were not accessible during the event. Again, this seems like a growth area for a new event, and they are things that they can easily resolve next year.

With a flat, fast course, great weather, and a wonderful atmosphere this is a race I will definitely head back to next year. Besides, who doesn’t love a useful finisher’s medal?

 

Fall Colours 10k Recap

Sunday morning was most likely my last race of the season. After hemming an hawing for a few weeks, the week before the race I threw my hat in to the ring and signed up for the Somersault Events Fall Colours 10k, one of the many races they held that day. As a first time participant of the event, I was really impressed by the organization of the day and the great family atmosphere. The race distances ranged from the kids’ Turkey Trott through to the marathon.

Like all Somersault events, this day was very well planned. There was the pre-race emails from organizer Terry McKinty reminding participants about the start-times, facilities and amenities, and parking costs. They even setup a Facebook page for ride sharing. There was updates to the marathon route maps, and explanation about the colour coded markers for distances and directions. The water stations were manned by members of a local basketball club who were also beneficiaries of fundraising efforts form the day. The route was very well marked, and made its way from the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum and into a the community. Residents come out a cheer on the runners. All in all, it was a wonderful day. It helped that the weather was great; a bit of sun and not too warm. I chose a long sleeve technical shirt, but would have been fine in a t-shirt. Of course all of this was with a backdrop of trees that were nearly at the peak of colours change — hence the event name Fall Colours.

Backdrop for Fall Colours 10K 2015

Backdrop for Fall Colours 10K 2015

My training for this event was somewhat sporadic. I had been running a fair bit this year as I trained for the duathlon in August. Also, I have been experiencing some real gains (losses?) in my struggle to reach my weight goals. Fortunately, iRun magazine partnered with SportChek and presented a series of 10 week training plans geared for October events — mybestrunningrace.com — and I was able to focus my training. Although I started out following the half-marathon plan, I soon realized that with the return to school and accepted that 10k was going to be a more manageable distance. As my training went on, my 5k times were getting pretty quick, and the one night I ran 10k, I was under 60 minutes for the first time ever. All that to say I was feeling pretty good about race day.

The Fall Colours itself was a great run and experience. Learning from other races, I did not head to the back of the pack. Instead I went to the front of the pack to start the race. I knew I wasn’t going to be the fastest, but I also knew I wasn’t going to be the slowest. When the horn sounded, I headed out faster than knew I should running the first km in 5:10. Knowing that I couldn’t sustain that, and because I planned to finish around 60 minutes, I deliberately slowed down so that by the end of the third km I was hovering at the 6 minute/km mark. This was fine for me as I was trying to stick to my plan. What I hadn’t understood, though, was how hilly the course is — in both directions. I managed to hold my pace, however, to the end of the 5km mark, and then I slowly started to pick up my pace, eventually getting back to 5:24/km, and running a negative split. Like I do in most races I pick another runner who seems to be about my pace and try to stick with him or her. This worked well again, and I managed to keep tabs on a few runners. However, because I was picking up the pace in the second half, I was slowly overtaking them. Nothing aggressive, but steady moves past various runners. As we headed into the final kick, I did overtake a few runners quite quickly. At the finishing chute, I picked up the pace even more — the last split time had me back at 5:10/km. My finishing time was 61 minutes, exactly 4 minutes faster than than my previous 10k race. I’m super happy with the race PB! But that’s not the entire story.

Interestingly, throughout the race I noticed that the km indicators and my Strava app were not in sync. I wrote about this earlier, and my thoughts/concerns have since been validated. As he usually does following races, Terry sent out a post-race email in which he addressed various aspects of the event. Chief among them, was their awareness that the race was in fact longer than 10k:

The 10K – actually, the 10.7K. With a new member to the race crew this year (it’s not his fault), our ‘course coner) was given the actual 5K turn point, without being given the .7K grounds measurement so it’s our fault – not his! Sportstats will amend the results to reflect 10.7K

You really have to admire and respect event organizers who recognize a mistake was made. More so, they own it; they didn’t blame the new guy.

So what does this mean for my race and my PB? Well it means I got two PB’s that day. In addition to getting an official race time PB, even for a slightly longer distance, my actual 10k time was also a PB for me — 56:41! That is way faster (almost 9 minutes!) than than my previous 10k race PB, and it is faster than any other 10k I’ve run in training. For a race on Thanksgiving Weekend, I couldn’t really ask for more.

Obligatory post-race selfie. These are rarely good!

Obligatory post-race selfie. These are rarely good!

Duathlon Training Update #4

Week 5 July 13 — July 19 (week 8 of BHF.org.uk Duathlon training plan for beginners)

Day Planned Activity What I Really Did Thoughts/Comments
Monday Rest Rest

Swim: 600m in 17:30

Still worried about my foot — lots of foot massage and stretches to help loosen it. I did manage over 11K steps today.

Nice, easy swim at the end of a very hot day felt great.

Tuesday Run/walk : 30 minutes

Stretch:10 min

Bike: 8.9 km in 22:23 (20:55 moving time)

Bike: 8.8 km in 19:42 (19:02 moving time)

Bike ride getting a bit faster as the days go on, and I’m adding a bit more distance. Birthday dinner took precedence over my run. Pacer app says I walked more than 2.7 km over the course of the day so I will take that.
Wednesday Run/Walk: 10

Bike: 10

Run/Walk: 10

Stretch:10 min

Bike: 8.9 km in 18:22 (18:18 moving time)

Bike: 8.9 km in 22:47 (22:19 moving time)

Run: 3.1 km in 19:20

Yoga: 10 mins

Although the morning ride was pretty fast, the afternoon ride presented me with a pretty strong headwind (approx. 19 km/hr) so I didn’t make great time. Focused on consistent and strong pedalling form. After my run, spent 10 minutes using Yoga app to stretch out. MUST remember to do this everyday! Finished it all with a quick swim.
Thursday Bike: 60 minutes

Stretch:10 min

The day was a complete right-off. I didn’t bike, run, or anything. I didn’t even reach 10k steps. I didn’t even eat particularly well. Argh!
Friday Run: 30 minutes or

Swim or Yoga/Pilates class

Walk: approx 1 hr. Bike was in the shop, daughter had field hockey, and we went out for dinner.  running was not going to happen.
Saturday Rest

Stretch:10 min

Rest

Stretch: 10 mins

House work and moving boxes counts as stretching, right?
Sunday Bike: 40

Run: 30 minutes

Stretch:10 min

Walking and painting Some days, even though you have a good plan and everybody knows it, it just doesn’t happen.  I did, however, spend a great day with my family and we got some things done around the house that were essential.

Duathlon Training Update #3

Week 4 July 6 — July 12 (week 7 of BHF.org.uk Duathlon training plan for beginners)

Day Planned Activity What I Really Did Thoughts/Comments
Monday Rest Stretch:10 min Rest

Walking: 7300 steps

Stretch: 10 mins

Read an interesting article about the difference between Rest and Active Recovery that will help me through training.
Tuesday Run/walk : 30 minutes Stretch:10 min Steps: 12509

Bike: 8.5 km in 22:01 (20:56 moving time)

Bike: 8.7 km in 19:39 (19:36 moving time)

Swim: 550m in 14 mins

Pacer app indicates 136 min active time approx 3.2 km. Too bloody hot for a run today 28C but feels like 35C with the humidity. The swim was a much better way to get exercise and stretch..
Wednesday Run/walk: 10 Bike: 60 minutes Stretch:10 min Bike: 8.5 km in 20:00 (19:01 moving time)

Run: 2 km in 10:32

Ride: 20.3 km in 1:01:18 (52:23 moving time)

Walk: 3 km in 44 mins

Stretch: 10 minutes

First long ride of the year; lots of traffic stops. Will clearly need more time in the saddle at long distances to be ready for duathlon. Also had a nice 3k walk after dinner with my beloved. I finished the day with a quick swim to cool off. Pacer app counted 15214 steps.
Thursday Run/walk : 30 minutes Stretch:10 min Bike: 8.5 km in 22:00 (20:41 moving time)

Bike: 2.8 km in 8:04 (7:11 moving time)

Bike: 8.8 km in 19:35 (18:48 moving time)

Run: 4.8 km in 28:30

I thought the ride was a bit faster; need to work on pedalling consistency.

Two rides in the afternoon b/c of quick trip to doctors.  first time running after a ride so I’m happy to have been on 5k pace under 30 mins. Should have run the extra 200m but my wife called. Family comes first.

Friday Bike: 30 minutes or swim or Yoga/Pilates class Bike: 8.5 km in 20:25 (17:49 moving time)

Bike: 8.8 km in 20:41 (20:41 moving time)

Ride home was not as fast as I hoped but I pedalled the entire time, no stopping.

Also had a couple of swims after work & dinner.  My wife taught our daughter how to flip turn, and used me as the exemplar. I was surprised it came back to me so quickly.

Saturday Rest Stretch:10 min REST & STRETCH I took it easy like I’m supposed to. the metatarsal bruising in my foot seems to be back so the break is good for me. So are the stretches and foot massages.
Sunday Bike: 90 minutes Stretch:10 min Stretch

Swim: 100 m in 2:38

Walk: 1.3 km in 15 minutes

Family commitments kept me from following the plan today.  I did go for a nice walk with the dog, and there was some light housework to do, but I didn’t get anywhere near my bike.  This is good because my foot is still bothering me a bit and I want to be ready for race day.

Duathlon Training Update #2

Duathlon Training Summary Week #3 continued

For the week June 28 (end of week 5) to July 5 (week 6)

Week 3 June 28 — July 5 (week 6 of BHF.org.uk Duathlon training plan for beginners)

Day Planned Activity What I Really Did Thoughts/Comments
Sunday Run/Walk: 15

Bike: 30
Run/Walk: 15.

Stretch: 10 min

Run: 6 km in 36:19 time

6:01/km AVG pace

Just glad to be running again! Went out hard.
Monday Rest Run: 5km in 30:19 time

6:02 AVG pace

Took it easier than yesterday, but still happy with progress.
Tuesday Run/walk : 30 minutes.

Stretch: 10 min

Bike: 8.5 km in 21:47 (21:16 moving time)

Bike:8.5 km in 21;10 (20:42 moving time)

10 minutes swimming approx 200 m

1st ride to summer school site.  17 km return ride should be good training
Wednesday Run/Walk 30

Bike 30 minute

Stretch: 10 min

NOTHING! Canada Day celebrations with family took precedence over training
Thursday Run/Walk: 30 minutes

Stretch: 10 min

Walk: 1.2 km dog walk

Summer School walking: approx 9000 steps — way more than 30 mins

Leg stretches to help heel

Had planned to bike, but had to change that plan at the last minute
Friday Bike: 30 minutes or swim or yoga/Pilates class Bike: 8.1 km in 21:14 (17:33 moving time)

Bike: 8.8 km in 21:14 (19:56 moving time)

Swim: 10 minutes approx 250m free & breast

Added new bike computer that syncs with Strava iPhone app so I have more accurate data. Still finding the best/safest route home — looks like I’ve got it. Nice refreshing swim when I got home.
Saturday Rest. Stretch:10 min gardening and a trip to the shopping mall

10000 steps according to Pacer app

Sunday Run/Walk: 10

Bike: 60

Run/Walk: 10 Stretch: 10 min

Run: 5 km in 29:15

Walk: 1.3 km in 12 mins

Swim: 20 mins

Walk: 3 km in 43:00

Didn’t get on the bike today, but I did manage a 5k PB. Also had a nice 3k walk with my beloved after dinner.

Duathlon Training Update #1

A little over two weeks ago my ever enthusiastic and encouraging brother-in-law signed me up for the National Capital Duathlon organized by Somersault Events. While this is yet another vote of confidence of my athletic ability, it has forced my hand (or maybe my feet) to exercise and train for something. So with 7 weeks to go before the race I’ve been forced to research training plans for duathlons, a sport I know very little about. Yes I can run. Yes I have a bike that I used ride regularly. No I’ve never used them both on the same day with ANY organization or plan. When I did cycle, I was NOT a runner. My wife doesn’t think I need to practice the cycling component at all since I rode all the time when we were first together.  Ah love.  It does truly mask some things.  Sure I rode all the time when we first together — 23 years ago! Yes this will require some training and work.

It turns out the last two weeks have completely derailed any training plan I may have had. These were, as they are every year, two of the busiest weeks at work. Add to that a nagging heal injury that I was desperate not to make worse. Suffice it to say I haven’t done any planned exercise. I’ve been so busy my son has walked the dog more than I have these last two weeks. The only good thing is that I’ve had a little time to get my bike ready to ride again.  I bought this bike in 1987; it was a top of the line bike at the time equipped with Shimano 600 group of components.  Moving from my old CCM bike to this Italian made Bianchi speedster was significant.  During the summer I bought the bike, and the years that followed, I pedaled many kilometers each week exploring Ottawa’s neighbourhoods, the Gatinieau hills, and parts of the Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

Bianchi

circa 1987 Bianchi Limited Edition — Ready to ride once again!

As often happens, life got in the way — okay I got married and had a family so it wasn’t a poor trade — and I didn’t ride much at all.  Finding myself a few weeks way from a 20 km ride is actually quite daunting.  Do I still have the legs? Can I manged the distance in a time that doesn’t seem ridiculous?  Can I remember how to get out of clipless pedals without falling over?

With just five weeks to go before race day I actually managed to get out for a run. I try to take advantage of my daughter’s field hockey schedule to get my runs in, and Sunday was one of those days. On an unusually cool late June day (14C) I hit the trails behind Minto Field and pounded out a 6 km run with a 6:01 pace. I went out hard and managed to keep it up fairly well the entire time. It also meant I had a nice 1/2 km walk back to the field as my cool down. Monday was another field hockey night so I managed to hit the trails for another 5k run.  I was a little slower on this run, but according to Strava I’m trending up for the route I took as I continue to get a little bit faster the more I run.

I did finally get out on my bike. I had to go to a meeting so instead of taking the car I chose to ride.  The distance wasn’t too great, just 8.5 km, so it was a good test to see if I have any cycling legs. I completed the ride to the meeting in 21 minutes, and the return was just under that time. Given the fact I haven’t ridden anywhere I feel these are pretty good times. I do hope to finish the race in under 90 minutes, but that is going to be a challenge given how little I’ve actually trained and prepared for the demands of a duathlon.

Duathlon Training Summary Weeks 1 & 2

The countdown is on with just 7 weeks to go before race day.  In the first two weeks of training I did exactly no training. Nothing. I did, however, find a 10 week Beginners Duathlon training plan on the British Heart Foundation website that is manageable for me (Training plan). Of course I’m not going to have the benefit of all 10 weeks, but since I have been running, I’m going to jump in at week 4.

Duathlon Training Summary Week 3

Okay so now I’ve actually started running and riding again and I’m jumping ahead to week 6 of the BHF training plan. Except that I’ve already made some adjustments because of my plans for the week. I have covered the required activities for the first few days of the week, but in my own order.  Monday was supposed to be a rest day, but I ran 5 km.  Tuesday was supposed to be a 30 minute run day, but I biked 40+ minutes instead.  And Wednesday is supposed to be a bike and run day, but since it’s Canada Day, and we have guests coming over, I’m unlikely to do anything.  I will just have to adjust the rest of the week.

What Have I Got Myself Into?

My brother-in-law has done it again.  After suggesting, encouraging, and goading me into signing up for a duathlon this summer, I received this email:

That’s right, he signed me up for the event. I guess he knew I would keep putting him off or avoiding his suggestions/encouragement.   For those of you who are unaware, the Sprint Duathlon is a 2k run, followed by a 20k bike ride, finished off with a 5k run.  Sure, why wouldn’t I try this?  Ummm … because I’m basically lazy!  Alright, that’s not really a good description of me, although not far off the truth.   It really is a compliment from my brother-in-law since he does have faith I can actually complete a Sprint Duathlon.  Besides, he was right about my ability to run my first 5k and my one and only half marathon.

I think I really did myself in when I told him how much I had been running lately.  What he missed, however, was the little point about me having not been on my bike yet this year.  Oh sure I’ve had grand plans, but so far the bike is still in the basement on the trainer stand I DIDN’T use all winter.  I really be testing the old adage about not forgetting how to ride a bike.  I’ve got a few weeks to remember, but I think there’s more to this than just getting back on the saddle.

Do you have any tips for training for a duathlon? Have you ever entered an event you might not be ready for?