2016 Race #1: Laurier Loop 5K, Waterloo, ON

Date: March 20, 2016
Gun Time: 20:37
Chip Time: 20:36
Placing Overall: 13th out of 182
Placing in Age Group: 2nd out of 8 (M40-44)
Placing Overall in Masters: 3rd out of 27
McFastlanes: 48:49, 1st of 5 parent child teams
Theme Song: Troy and Abed Spanish Rap from Community

The first day of spring arrived the day of the Laurier Loop, and it was, well, pretty cold.

It could have been much worse. I reminded myself of last year’s Syracuse half where it was freezing and we got 3 inches of snow the night before the race. We have no snow in Southern Ontario right now, and conditions lately have been surprisingly good. I had actually been getting outside. In my own neighborhood. In March. This is unusual, but I got some good work in for a couple of weeks before the race.

The Laurier Loop is in its 9th iteration, and it’s put on by the Alumni Association of Wilfred Laurier University. WLU is sort of my school’s rival institution in Waterloo, but it’s by and large a friendly rivalry, and I have access to their excellent Film Studies library through the Tri-University Group agreement, so who am I to complain? Plus an opportunity to beat some of their students like a drum in a 5K was certainly relished.

On the drive over to campus, my son Brendan entertained us with his rendition of the Troy and Abed Spanish rap from Community, which I for some reason decided to teach him in Costa Rica despite the fact that its nonsensical nature didn’t exactly result in him learning much usable Spanish. When I say entertained, I really mean he repeated it over, and over, as only a 9 year old could. (He particularly likes the line about the goat’s mustache being Cameron Diaz). We sorted out where to park and headed into the Science Building where crowds of runners were starting to gather. The kids made a beeline for the Laurier Golden Hawks mascot, because what kid doesn’t love a guy in a big fuzzy hawk suit?

9191_10154152403813054_4417258660517531529_n

B and his new feathered friend.

Also, FACE PAINTING!!!

600368_10154152403803054_4930129260097573548_n

Hell yeah. Dolphins and rainbows represent, y’all.

B and I did a quick warm up by doing a trot down Bricker Street near the start line. It was a sunny morning with very little wind, and other than the high 20s temperature the conditions were quite ideal for a race. I was a bit confused at first, because the course didn’t seem like it was laid out the way I had been led to expect by RunWaterloo’s website, and there were all these cones everywhere in places that didn’t make sense to me at first. It turned out the course layout had changed somewhat in order to obtain approval. As suggested by the race name, it was a 2.5K loop, but there was kind of a weird elongated s-curve with a couple of turnarounds that would send us up and down Bricker basically 3 times before re-entering the loop.

I wasn’t planning on getting a PR here anyway given my general out-of-shapeness, but it was clear this course was going to be a bit challenging given all the 180 degree turns we would have to do. B was a bit worried he wouldn’t be able to figure it out, but I tried my best to explain it to him, and told him he would be doing 2 loops and just to follow everyone else if he wasn’t sure where to go. I could tell he wanted to do his best because we were entered as a parent/child team (McFastlanes ride, er, run again!) and I assured him he’d be fine.

There were 2.5 and 10K runs starting at the same time, and the starting corral filled up as the Golden Hawk mascot got the runners pumped up. I wished B luck and soon the horn went and we were off. I maneuvered around the few slower runners who always seem to be right on the start line for some reason, and set a fast pace into the turn up Albert Street to University Avenue. The stretch along University was a slight downhill and I felt like I was gliding along well. I was pretty sure I was going too fast, however, and had really blistered out of the gate, so I tried to hold back a bit and conserve some energy, knowing the second loop would be harder. After a brief, slightly steeper uphill on King Street we turned into the odd S-section. Coming down the middle portion of the S it was strange to see the finish gate right there but not be able to head toward it, as we had to go past to the end of the street and make another 180 degree turn. What was a bit heartening was seeing all the people I was ahead of go past me on the left – one of these was B and I was able to give him a high-five as he went past. As I completed the S into the start gate I looked at the clock and saw that I had completed the first 2.5K in 10 minutes flat.

So much for a negative split.

The second loop was, as expected, harder, and I was really sucking wind as I turned the corner to do the downhill University stretch for the second time. This section was a godsend as it allowed me to keep pace and catch my breath a little bit. Heading into the S for the second and last time it was maddening having the starting gate so close but having to run past it twice (I really wanted to cut across but yeah, DQ. Plus, tough it out, right?) By this time, Dana and Lori were there cheering me on, and the legs found some strength for a last sprint that took me across the line in 20:37, which I’ll admit was a bit better than I expected (I would have been happy with anything under about 21:30 under the circumstances).

249343_10154152404088054_4297859955071919180_n

Pizza time!

I went to get some water and then hollered at B when he came into view, exhorting him to the finish. He spent most of the S-bend pumping his arms in the air like he was winning the Boston Marathon (not really good running form, but the exuberance of youth and all that). He crossed the line in 28:12 and we went to grab some pizza and a bagel.

12400670_10154152404118054_8364660385440617631_n

I feel like the Rocky theme should be playing here.

941349_10154152404203054_321503272921800908_n

All hail the victors. In the parent/child category, anyway.

Given my time, I wasn’t that surprised to see I placed in my age group, but when I went to get my medal my name wasn’t there under M40-44. It turned out they had a top three for overall Masters and I was third, so that was pretty damn cool and certainly unexpected. And B finished second in the under-12 category, which he was tickled about. But the best part of all was that the McFastlanes won the parent/child (I pretty near had to peel B off the ceiling when I told him that).

10274173_10154152404223054_7589591687979844803_n

Not bad, kid.

So, a pretty great start to the year. B has got the running bug I think. There will likely be a few more McFastlanes appearances in the future. Now if I could just get Troy and Abed out of my head…

12523833_10153993184217052_8620883276492455383_n

Back to training, and the (delayed) beginning of the 2016 season.

It took me a hell of a lot longer than expected to get healthy after coming down with a respiratory infection in January. Fortunately for me, I was able to do some running down in the warmth of Florida and managed to avoid having to do any training in the February chill of the Great Lakes region. The “Extreme!” 5K I was supposed to do in the Orlando area? Yeah. Didn’t happen. Leaving aside the appeal of sitting poolside with a beer, I didn’t feel based on the runs I did that I was anywhere near being able to compete effectively. Every time I came back from a run I spent 5 minutes doubled over, coughing. To make matters worse, the sinus infection that plagued me in January seemed to be rallying.

ISplhxe6o0sd540000000000

Ahh. Now, I was supposed to do something, wasn’t I? Something athletic? Forget it, just pass me another beer.

It took a few days, but by the time I was back in Ontario I felt like I was on the mend. Lucky me, I got to turn around later that week and head to Costa Rica on a family vacation. Bouncing around the backblocks of the country in a little rented 4 x 4 was tons of fun, but what really struck me was the number of Costa Ricans who are either runners or cyclers – we saw them everywhere, laboring up and down the many hills in the country. I did my best to join them over 17 days. Running in Central America poses some interesting challenges; the heat on the coast is like a blast furnace, the humidity can be overwhelming, the roads are pretty bad in parts of the country and you have to constantly be watching out for large vehicles that don’t really yield to those on foot, and especially in Guanacaste province in the dry season the dust thrown up by those vehicles can really be choking. Also, there are a lot of hills (which are great for training, but also which, as I mentioned before, I tend to be crappy on).

_Holiday.357.8067_main

We saw these guys everywhere in Costa Rica, especially on weekends along the coastal highway. Lots of runners, too.

 

Nevertheless, I got some good work in, and am now prepping for the Buffalo Half. Tomorrow is the Laurier Loop in Waterloo, ON, first event of the season. And since I’ll be traveling to Chicago and San Francisco for conferences, I added a couple of events in those places to the schedule. Should be fun.