Monday, September 27, 2010

Keeping it real

Relaxing, mellow jangly-guitar indie soundtrack, a seemingly non-Type-A attitude to cycling, mockney narration and nary a tri-bar, shorty-short or bare-sholders-and-arm-warmers combo in sight. This should make me feel happy and glad to be a cyclist, it should inspire me, and indeed it does. However it starts with two of the words in the English language guaranteed to make me come out in a cold sweat. Unsanctioned. Unmarshalled.


Still recovering my wits after the weekend.

The relay was really enjoyable. The weather was a bit grey and misty for the first six legs, but in the 12km stretch of leg#7 the sun came out and we finished under sunny, blue skies.

As relays go, this was a pretty calm one. No real dramas, no traffic accidents, no medical emergencies; for the first time in a couple of years I didn't have to scrape anyone off Rte #3 (you know who you are).

Perhaps the atmosphere on the road was a little more restrained than in years past. Maybe it was the damp weather during the early legs, but the roads seemed more subdued.

As an official/marshall (who knows what one's real designation is at a Gonzo event) it did feel a bit strange. The last event I was officiating at, three weeks ago, was a world championship, where I had the full weight of the International Triathlon Union behind me, should I have needed it. Fast-forward twenty-one days and its the Rum Runners, with the full weight of Nancy Holland behind me, should I have needed it.

The trick is to remember where you are. At Worlds you can be a lot more picky and generally have a zero-tolerance attitude to anything. At Rum Runners (well any provincial level event) you have to relax a little more. smile and let a lot more "stuff" go. If you do this, and I did, you'll enjoy it a lot more. Nothing's going to run your day like thinking constantly "but at Worlds we did this....". That's not to say that you shouldn't use your experiences and knowledge to try and improve delivery of local events, not at all, but at the end of the day it's not Worlds, it's not going to be closed course, barricaded, chip-timed, branded, dope-tested and catered with officials' only loos so get over it. It'll be more fun this way anyway!

Besides, there are way more smiles at Rum Runners and fewer high-maintenance Brazilian women.

As far as the running goes, HRC-A went out to win the barrel, and win we did. A consecutive four-peat, possibly an unprecedented feat in RRR history (it depends on how you define team).

We won five of ten legs (#1, #3, #4, #7, #9), and were second in three of the ones we didn't win (#6, #8, #10). We were in control from the beginning of leg#1, when Greg stormed off the front to put us in the lead by five minutes and we never looked back. Oxford at 8 gave us the occasional scare within a leg, but were never consistent enough to get close to us in the overall. Les boys de St Pierre et Miquelon weren't the force we thought they might have been. As with Oxford, they had good individual runners, but not ten. We put half an hour or so into Oxford, who were second overall on the day. Third overall were the Runners Attic crew from Yarmouth. Many triathletes on that team! Kudos to the guys and Denise, bigger kudos to team captain Jeff Courish for herding the cats, and, of course, thanks to the Gonzos for the show.

There's little to say about my leg. I started on the wrong side of the group (on the outside) and had to hop, skip and jump to the front of the pack when Mark blew the horn. I didn't see anyone else for the rest of the leg except for a runner from Tyrone Grande's ZX team who came up on my shoulder after a kilometer and stayed there for another two until he was gapped on the climb by John A MacDonald HS. That was all the excitement I had and it was just "one foot in front of the other, repeat" from there on in.

The idiot-box gave a pace of 3:43/kilometer which I think may be the fastest pace I've ever had for a "long" race (17:24 at the NSAC 5K doesn't count). So much for Phil "Tact" McElroy telling me I was looking a bit "heavier" than I did last year. Bitch!

Does this traffic cone make my arse look fat?

What can I say? I have my mother's thighs. The only problem is she used to ride the kilo for East Germany!

The next day Rami Bardessey wanted to go to Truro to support a fund-raising event for Chris Cashen. The two of us, plus la belle, piled into the minivan we still had after RRR and drove up to Truro (don't worry Nancy, we covered the extra gas we used). We got to Truro for about 10:30 and got a couple of hours in on the Cobequid Trail beforehand. It was a gorgeous day, sunny but windy. Rami and I floated out with the tailwind to the site of an abandoned Acadian village before turning around (we seemed to be running out of trail anyway). He gave me a right proper kicking on the way back. Just what I needed three weeks out from MDI (meant non-sarcastically). It was a little shorter than perhaps it could have been, but the 4:20 average pace made it a 2 hr marathon pace run at a pace I'll be lucky to hold on the hills of Acadia National Park. Plus it rounded off a high-miles eight days, 115 kms (over 70 miles). Time for a taper methinks.

On the way out I was joking that Rami would have an impromptu stab at my "soft" Cobequid half course record and at some points we were going as fast, or faster, than the race-pace that got me the win. Eek. For the record, my 1:20:20 still stands, but it's clearly at Rami's mercy!

After the run, we ended up at Chris's fundraiser, which was for the Brain Repair Centre here in Halifax, where Chris did much of his recuperation. Rami was the epitome of an Elite athlete; talking to everyone, listening, posing for photos, there was no-one "too small" to talk to him. True class. He even gave one of his Boston trophies to Chris.

Like I say, class.

I have to say that I was inspired by Chris. He's determined to get back out there and race. He know's what it will mean, but running itself is reward enough for him. It's not about medals, trophies, wins and records. It's about doing what you love.

He did say he has a tandem bike in the shed, and he's getting out on a recumbent now too. If you ever need a pilot for that tandem Chris, give me a shout and it'll be an honour to do it for you.


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