Thinking Out Loud Thursday #1


This is my first Thinking Out Loud Thursday – a hopefully regular post inspired by fellow parent, educator, blogger and runner Rebecca at Running.Food.Baby who links up with Amanda at Running with Spoons. Of course starting this on a Thursday but not finding the time until Saturday to finish it isn’t a great start, but I’ve got to try. 

#1 Summer is over!

That’s right, it’s September 1 (now 3rd) and summer is over because I am back at work. After a fantastic summer off we’re back at it. As a 5 school family, we love our time together in the summer but I think we’re all ready to head back to school. Okay, maybe only my daughter is really ready to be back, but the rest of us have had to accept reality.

Bag packed more than a week early

Partial family selfie in BC


#2 Running and Races 

The weather in Ottawa wasn’t exactly conducive to building a solid running routine given that the average temperature seemed to be a hot and humid 40C all summer long, but I did manage to get out somewhat regularly. Of course a nagging ankle pain (Achilles tendinitis?) and then a blister slowed me down in July, but I got back to it more running in August. I finished July with my second Sprint Tri when my times in all elements improved over my first Sprint Tri in May. 

 I also knocked a couple of fun 5k runs this summer. The first was a fundraiser for my daughter’s field hockey club; the run was all trails. I was on pace for under 26 minutes but my Achilles was bothering me so I was over 27 minutes. And that’s how I learned the value of stretching EVERY DAY! The second was the Ottawa Craft Beer Run just last week. Finished with 26:03 time so obese pretty happy. 

I even managed to complete my first virtual 10k race to support Challenged Athelete initiative. 

#3 Trail vs Road

Most of my running this year has been on various trails around my house or behind the sports field where my daughter plays field hockey. I’ve really enjoyed this as it’s usually cooler (a plus given how hot this summer has been), and defined easier to run on. I also got to run on the Pacific Spirit Regional Park in Vancouver, something I didn’t think I should do last time we were there because I didn’t think of my self as a real runner. In the two years since we were last out west, I’ve come to realize I am in fact a real runner and I can run just about anywhere. 

Of course I realized during the summer that I need to spend a kfew title more time running on roads for my legs to remember and adjust to the pounding being on pavements causes my body. My races this week have all included time off the  trails and on the road. Gotta do what ya gotta do. 

This island has way too many hills!

#4 Watch Troubles

I’ve been a Timex wearer for years but this summer two sport watch fails have me reconsidering the brand. I had two (operative word HAD) at the beginning of summer. Both watches had lost the strap band. I’ve been using zip ties to keep the straps down. Then both watches suffered broken bands. Finally one the watches no longer displays all the screen info correctly. Actually that problem was what prompted my to but the second watch a few years ago. I even replaced the battery thinking that was to problem. It wasn’t. So as summer has come to an end, I’ve lost the better of the two watches (I think my nephew hid it during our vacation), and I’m left with a failing sport watch. As the only way to repair the watch is to send it to the approved Timex repair shop in the U.S., I may finally have come to a time when I buy a Garmin or Polar sport watch. 

zip ties and tape are what keep this Timex ticking

#5 Summer Winning

I’ve usually had some luck winning things online, having won a netbook, books, and flowers in the past. It’s been a pretty good summer for me. I’ve scored tickets to see the Chick Corea Trio and Jim Bryson at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival. 


I also won a prize pack from Canadian Tire for supporting Canada’s Olympians — a t-shirt and flag.

There were also the Body Glide and t-shirt from Velofix. I’ve enter a few more contest so you never know what else I might come away with. 

So thero goes my first Thinking Out Loud Thursday. Hopefully the next one can actually be published on Thursday. 

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?


Skirting the Storm

Summer Storm

My ride home from work yesterday managed to avoid this storm. It hit north of me just before I started out, but by the time I arrived safely at home the storm was over my departure point. Strong winds, some lightening and thunder, but a dry ride.
This post is a response to the Daily Post: Storm

Early Bird Triathlon Review

A few weeks ago I participated in my first triathlon, the Early Bird Triathlon organized by Somersault Events, a local company whose events “are organized primarily for the recreational enjoyment of participants of all ages and stages.”  This sentence from their mission statement perfectly describes me and my focus as an athlete.  I enter races not for prize money, but for the enjoyment.


2016 Early Bird Tri & Du Race shirt

In terms of a simple goal for the day, score one for the Early Bird Sprint Tri.  I had a great day, as I usually do at Somersault events.  In an earlier post, “I am a Triathlete!”,  I described my somewhat spotty/sketchy/non-existent training plan for the day.

strava calendar 2016

Not much training done for a late May event. Oops!

With such a weak lead up to the day, I wasn’t really sure how things were going to turn out.  I needn’t have worried.

The night before race day, I organized all of my gear, making sure I had my bag packed with bike shoes, helmet, towels, food, water, and race bib. I made sure the tires had air, and that the bike computer worked. And it was good that I checked both of those things, because they both needed work. The air int he tires wasn’t a big deal, but imagine my surprise at 11 pm to discover my bike computer had stopped working. Fortunately my workbench has a drawer full of mysteries. Imagine Mr. Dressup’s Tickle Trunk and you have a good idea of the remarkable things I have hidden away “just in case”. That’s right, I had the exact right battery. So I got that sorted out and headed off to bed.

Flat SeeHaleRun Tri version

Flat SeeHaleRun

On the day of the race, I was up before the alarm clock, earlier than I usually get up for work. I even woke up before the coffee machine started. Seriously, who gets up on a Saturday before the alarm clock? Okay, maybe I was a little anxious. One of the great things about Somersault events is the number of people you run into there. The events draw all sorts of people to them, from recreational athletes (me!) to elite athletes, and everybody in between. As I was loading my bike into the van my neighbours came out and started loading their car. Of course they were also headed to the race to cheer on family members (including the 72 year old mother) who were going to compete in the Try-a-Tri and the Sprint Tri distances. After the event another neighbour stopped by to say she had seen me finish as her kids were competing in the Kids race. Ottawa is a small town, but we’re pretty active.

Once I arrived at the race, which was centered around the Carleton University campus, I found a parking spot not too far from the setup area. One of the benefits of using Carleton is the abundance of parking, and a good path system for people to travel between the swim area and bike/run transition zone. Because the race is in late May, there is no open water swim; instead the swim is held in the Carleton 50m pool. Of course the downside is that it is 500+ meters between the pool and the transition zone so you have to accept the time loss (if you choose to walk rather than run back to the T-zone).  Once I found a good spot for my bike and gear that provided good landmarks so I would remember where to go, and gave me a good path to the bike and run routes, I went to get marked up. Fortunately, there was space beside my bike for my brother-in-law so when he arrived a few minutes later he was able to set up quickly.

While I had taken part in the pre-race orientation session the evening before during packet pick-up, I was not really prepared for the mass that is the self-seeding wave start. The pool area was very well organized, but there were a lot of people waiting to get into the water. Thankfully my brother-in-law settled me down and explained that there will be a wait before we needed to worry about our place in line. Each swimmer is sent out at 15 second intervals so the line did take a while to get to us.  He also encouraged me to join the 12 minute line for the swim instead of the 15 minute group. As I mentioned, I hadn’t really prepared for the race, and had not done any real swimming so I was going to take it easy and take a slower pace.  Am I ever glad I didn’t do that! As it was, I could have passed my brother-in-law; we finished the 500m together under 12 minutes. Once out of the pool, we headed back outside to our shoes and started to walk/run back to the T-zone for the 21 km bike ride.

Unlike last year’s duathlon, my bike did not have any mechanical issues during the tri.  I’m sure that has a lot to do with the tune-up it received from Mobivelo as an early Father’s Day gift.  The gears worked great this time. I wasn’t trying to kill myself as I had not been on the bike at all. In fact the first time I rode it this year was race day — not a recommended strategy — and I’m pretty happy with my 46 minute time. Sure I’m not winning any prizes with that time, but it was good and my legs were strong the entire ride. The route itself went north from Carleton U along the Rideau Canal and then back to Hog’s Back Falls and back to to Carleton; the Sprint Distance did this loop twice. The segment to Hog’s Back is slightly uphill so it was a good challenge for my untested legs.

The return to the T-zone was slower than I planned. I still have to work on switching from my bike shoes to my running shoes.  Even though I have speed laces, I still find the move to running gear is my slowest. Oh well, if it was easy it wouldn’t be worth doing again and again. Regardless, the run was also okay except that it was along the uneven edge of the road. Because I was worried about injuring myself, I ran on the road until the path evened out a bit.  I had practiced this out-and-back loop route the week before so i wasn’t totally unfamiliar with it and I was ready for the hill in the middle.  It was great to see my neighbours along the route as they cheered me on, especially on the way back.  As I often do, I fell in with a runner whose pace I liked and stuck with her.  She was finishing the Long Tri and she looked like she could run forever.  I kept up with her, though, and finished strong (I think). Even with a slow transition, I managed to come in just under 30 minutes. When I crossed the line I raised my hands triumphantly, knowing that I am a triathlete.


Brothers & Triathletes in arms!

Having now completed a tri, even a Sprint distance, I know I will do another. I may even challenge myself to a longer distance, just not yet. For those looking to give multi-sport a try, consider one of the Somersault Events. They’re fun, but challenging, and they have distances to fit most abilities from beginner to elite.

Street: not a parking lot

One of the intriguing aspects of my job at summer school is PCO (Parking Control Officer) duty and the fact that people use this blind corner as a parking lot. Even though we tell them every day there is a safe and accessible parking lot on the other side of the building, with a door to the classroom hallway, parents still want to let their kids off on this blind corner. This is a relatively busy street with a city bus route. Amazingly there have been no accidents yet. Of course there are still 15 days of summer school ahead.

This panoramic picture is part of the WordPress Developing Your Eye course. 

After the storm that is June

June is always a busy time in my home. Both my wife and I are trying to wrap up the year in our respective schools, the kids are ready to be done with school, there  are birthdays, and there are retirements. With all that, there is little time for running. At least we were getting out to walk the dog 3km most nights. Still, a walk is not a run.  I did try to get out for a run one night, but it was interrupted by President Obama’s visit to Ottawa. Apparently my route along the Rideau Canal interfered with the security of his route to the airport. 
So we’ve made it to July, and now my running can resume.  My brother-in-law Has signed me up for another Sprint Triathlon July 31 so I have a few weeks to get ready for that. Compared to the Early Bird, I should be in much better shape and have a better result. My only concern is the open water swim, but at 500m it won’t be that terrible. Starting tomorrow I will be biking to summer school (a little over 8km each way). 

Tonight in running a 5k fun run to support my daughter’s field hockey club, The Nepean Nighthawks. I haven’t run in over 2 weeks, so it will nice to be moving again. 

For the month of July this is my home away from home. Rather taking a break, I’ve chosen to be a Summer School Vice Princpial. I’m sure many of you are asking why in the world would any sane person choose to do this, but the truth it is a great experience. For the most part, the 760 students are here because they want to be here. The teachers are super motivated to work with these students. It really is a fun time. 
This post is part of the WordPress #developingyoureye photo workshop. 

Home (away from home)


Like many other days, today is a great day to go for a run, whether it’s part of your regular routine or you’re just taking this first tentative steps. Today is also #GlobalRunningDay, and you will be joking millions of other people around the globe who appreciate (not necessarily like) running. To all you marathon and beyond runners (Ray Zahab, Barkley Marathon participants and planners), you speedsters (Canadian marathon & 10K champ Lanni Marchant),  you seasoned and newbie runners alike, I salute you and the effort you make as a runner. Today isn’t about running further than everybody else; rather it is about celebrating the joys of running.

source: Strava

I am a Triathlete!

Last weekend I did something I never thought I would/could actually do. I completed a triathlon. To be fair to all you hard core triathletes, it was a Sprint Tri, but it was still a Tri! 500 m swim, 23km bike, 5k run. When I started running a few years ago it was for 1 race, a 5k. I swore I would never go further, a comment that made a runner friend laugh. She knew all too well that a little running success leads to the pursuit of longer distances and more challenges. So now I’ve completed my first Tri. 

In another post I will review the race day itself, but let me explain, but let me explain a bit about my training. When my brother-in-law Krishna signed me up for the race I researched various training plans, going back to the excellent resources provided by the British Heart Foundation since their plan had worked so well for last summer’s duathalon. Of course life being what it is, and my lack of commitment to anything other than my family, I didn’t actually follow the plan. Sure I swam a few hundred meters four times over the winter, the last being in March. Yeah, I rode my bike a few (um 3?) times on the trainer. At least I started running again. At the end of April. With all that planning negated by the lack of training my goal was pretty simple: just finish. But every runner has a time goal too, and mine was 1 hr 30 mins to 1 hr 40 mins. That seemed reasonable given what I knew about my self. Turns out that was bang on as I finished in 1 hr 38 mins. 

So there it is. I’ve gone from a guy who thought running sucks to a triathlete. I wonder what else I can accomplish?

Spring Cleaning — A Renewed Look

Today is a beautiful Spring Day in Ottawa. The sun is shining through my office window. The air is warm. The long range forecast has no snow or rain — a first for the month. After spending sometime thinking about what to do with my blog, I have changed the look/theme. I’ve done this before with mixed reactions, and it just felt right to make the change again. The last theme felt too dark, too grey, too dreary. Okay I picked it because it looked cool and suggested an edginess/moodiness than is not really me. Instead, I have gone back to the Hemingway Theme which I quite like. It is is relatively bright and has enough formatting options to keep me happy.