2015 Race #11: Remember Run 5K, Cambridge, ON

Date: November 7, 2015
Gun Time: 20:19
Chip Time: 20:16
Placing Overall: 22nd out of 268
Placing in Age Group: 1st out of 8 (M40-44)
Placing in Parent/Child Team Event: 4th out of 9
Theme Song:Downtown Train“, Tom Waits

Continuing with the rapid fire race reports, since I’ve been lazy about doing them…

Running this race again was like revisiting an old friend, despite my rather ignominious defeat last year. (Rachel didn’t enter this year so I was safe). The 2014 version of the Remember Run was the first event I had run in years where I actually felt like I was competitive again. In many ways I consider it the starting point of my reinvention as a runner (albeit a middle-aged one now, but still). This year the organizers changed the longer distance run to an 11K to align with the Remembrance Day/Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day theme of the event. I had originally planned to run this distance, but then my son expressed interest in running too, flush from his success at the Pearson Runway Run. It turned out that there was a team category for parent and child in the 5K, and so I opted to do the shorter distance so I could run with him.

Several local Canadian Forces soldiers were present, along with the members of the Royal Canadian Legion in Cambridge (the proceeds of the race would go to them to help support veterans in need). It was a pleasant day with a somewhat stiff breeze out of the east and temperatures in the low 40s at race time.


Canadian Forces members, hanging out before the race.

Brendan and I started our warmups and trotted to the start line, where a crowd of runners was starting to gather. I was a bit worried about him in this one, admittedly, since he had been gravitating to the La-Z-Boy with controller in hand a bit too often lately and this course was going to be tougher than the first 5K he did (by virtue simply of not being on an airport runway). Not wanting to damage his fragile 9-year-old psyche I of course made no mention of this.


Ready to roll.

We stood at attention for the national anthem and the pipers played Amazing Grace to honor our fallen soldiers, and then the countdown was on to the gun. I tipped B a wink and he gave me a thumbs up, and off we went.


I surged forward into a pack of about 30 or so runners who had taken off pretty quickly at the gun. I had the advantage of knowing exactly where the route was going to go, as I had run the same race last year and a lot of it was on my regular running route as well. We headed up along King Street and over the Grand River before turning into Riverside Park. At the one mile mark they had a volunteer calling out times and I passed him at 6:30, so I knew I was moving along pretty well. I also knew there would be a narrow, technical, and probably rather boggy trail section ahead if the race followed the course from last year. There was. Furthermore, I got stuck behind a slower runner for about 500 yards and there was nothing I could do about it unless I wanted to run through the brambles on either side (I did not).

Eventually, things opened up and I picked up the pace again as the course traversed a good size hill on the way back to the finish line. As I was crossing the railroad tracks before the last corner into the final straightaway, I noticed a couple of cops there gesticulating away from me, along the tracks. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, as I plowed through the final 400 yards or so and crossed the line at just after 20 minutes. I grabbed a drink and headed back to Lori and Dana who had been cheering me on, and noticed that there was a weird gap behind me, with no runners in sight.

“Oh no, look at that,” said Lori, looking behind me, and the reason for the gap became quite evident as it seemed there was a train rolling right through the middle of the race.

044 (1)

Yup. A train. Fellow Cambridge Harrier Gary Cassel was the last one to beat it. Holy schnikes.

I was relieved to be on the other side of it, but was imagining the blue streak I’d be cursing if I hadn’t. I felt bad for the runners who got caught, but the most comical part of the race turned out to be the gigantic sprint finish that resulted when the train finally passed and they took advantage of their rather unwelcome period of rest. I wish I’d gotten a picture of it.

Anyway, the last order of business was to wait for B, and eventually he came panting around the corner, finishing in 29:02. He was disappointed with this and I had to explain to him that the course was a lot tougher (I left out the part about him hanging out on the couch most of the last three weeks). At least he didn’t get caught by the train.


Tired, but still smilin’.

I checked the results afterward and was pretty happy to see that I had won my age category. Our team also finished 4th out of 9 which mollified Brendan a bit. To be fair, I think most of the faster runners my age decided to run the 11k. Nevertheless, I’ll take first place any day. Still didn’t break that magical 20:00 barrier, but I have been getting remarkably consistent with my 5K runs and if I put a bit more work in I may just get there. (My wife finally made me take off the medal after a few days.)


Ooooooh, shiny.


Also, really dug the shirt. My favorite of the year.


From the Archives: Remember Run 8K, November 8th, 2014

Gun Time: 37:06
Chip Time: 36:55
Placing Overall: 40th out of 253
Placing in Age Group: 6th out of 15 (M40-44)
Theme Song: The Beatles, “Getting Better

All year long, my colleague Rachael had been gunning for me.

I know this because she told me so. We had both been in the Cambridge Mill race earlier in the year (bloody great hill at KM 6.5 and all, though this time I was a bit more judicious about how I started) and I had managed to run under 40 minutes, finishing at 39:55, a couple of minutes ahead of her. Apparently she was none too pleased about losing to Fat Dad and had used it as fodder for training all summer. Although to make it out as some kind of epic showdown was overstating the case a bit, we were both registered to run the Remember Run 8K, and I’m pretty sure one of her goals was to ensure that she vanquished the stink of the defeat by my corpulent self.

Thing was, Fat Dad was no longer really Fat Dad anymore. I was up to about 20 miles a week (legitimately, this time) and considerably less chunky. I was actually pretty optimistic about my chances in this one. The weather forecast initially was a bit terrifying, with the prospect of running 8K in freezing rain looming, but as it turned out the precipitation held off and the temps were around the 5 Celsius mark as we approached the start time, and winds were calm (pretty good running weather in my estimation). Dressed up in my new cold weather gear, including black Columbia beanie hat and gloves, I thought I looked pretty smart.

“You look like a burglar, Daddy,” my three year old daughter opined.


Any race that starts with a pipe band is pretty much OK by me. I figure it’s a vestige of my Scottish heritage asserting itself that I get all goosepimply when I hear that beautiful skirling sound. The race proceeds were going to the local Legion, and I thought of my grandfather and his effort in the war. Silently I dedicated the race to his memory.


So then the gun, and off I went. This was the first race where I actually felt good after the first couple of KM, like I was pacing myself properly. I even managed to smile at a camera a time or two, silly looking beanie and all. (The damn thing kept coming off and I ended up ditching it).


I got to the 5K mark and still had plenty of spring left in my step. This was rather new ground for me and I wasn’t sure quite what to do. Should I pick up the pace a little and try for negative splits? Was it too early to do this? I didn’t have a timing device on me so I wasn’t quite sure what my splits even were. I decided to stay the course for awhile and try to pick things up in the last couple of kilometers.

Soon it transpired that the woman who was running directly in front of me for most of the second half of the race was none other than my colleague Rachael. She did not look best pleased to see me pull up beside her, but nonetheless we exchanged slightly out of breath pleasantries. We passed the 7K mark and it was at this point that I decided to hell with it, time to charge to the finish. As I kicked it into a higher gear, a snarl came from behind me.

“Oh, no you don’t, buddy.”

I looked over in time to see Rachael power past me like a freight train. As I watched, amazed, she sprinted past me and around the corner to the last straightaway. I gave it my best shot at catching her, but it was not to be. Behold the vanquishing of Not Quite As Fat Dad:


I couldn’t begrudge her for this one. After all, she’d put a ton of work in just to beat me. And, she finished first in her age category. Also, I was really happy with my time, having shaved a full 3 minutes off my PR, which took some of the sting out of losing to her.

Just know this Rachael: next time that 8K comes around, Fat Dad’s gonna be waiting.