Sunday, November 23, 2014

Epic Bun Run

About one year ago a little group of us proposed a 14k run from the Woodstock to Three Island Pond turnaround then to Topsail Highway via Buckingham Drive ... finishing with a 2k gentle incline back at the Woodstock. We figured it might be a good idea to have some muffins and coffee at the finish after the gruelling climb up Topsail Hill. And so the 'bun run' was born.

It is amazing how little ideas often grow to take on lives of their own. It was zero degrees this morning as I approached the Woodstock parking lot just before 8AM. There were quite a few vehicles there already. There would be more to come from Paradise and surrounding areas. We did a brief warm-up. No that would be a lie. Most of us just hopped out of the cars and took off.

We had to face an incline to begin our journey. Not long but a tough way to start a run. Calves were cold. Definitely need to warm up for this one next time. Once we got to the duck pond at Topsail Pond the route flattened out. It was a glorious morning for a group run. Of course isn't it always? Pace was checked and re-checked. 5:45 to 5:50. Just right. We reached the turnaround at Three Island Pond in about 25 minutes. The lead group had waited for us and we in turn waited for the next group. This helps keep everyone together and makes for a more enjoyable run for all. No one is left behind.

On our return to Buckingham we passed a couple of teenagers having a chat by the guardrail ;-)
They seemed to know us from a recent trip to Niagara. Pace was again checked - 5:35! Time to rein it in just a little. The run was flying by this morning. The promise of food and coffee at the end is a always great motivator.A brief regroup at the base of Kinder Drive and we were off for the last 6k. A quick uphill and we were on Fowler's Rd headed for Topsail and our final leg back to the Woodstock.

Topsail Hill seemed to know we were on a mission today. There was very little traffic and the road seemed to flatten out a bit as we ran. Our uphill portion was run at a steady 6:20 pace. Once we reached Marie's mini mart we could see our destination. The lead runners decided to continue past there to round off the kilometres. Not us. 14.7k was a perfect number this morning. 1:25 was our time for a 5:48 pace. We were quite pleased considering this is somewhat hilly route. The lead group finished at a 5:30 pace. Those behind us reached the Woodstock only a minute or two later as well.
It was a great run by everyone.

Those who ran an 11k today were at the parking area to greet us and to share coffee, muffins and buns. 20 runners in total were on hand for the tailgate party.  Runfies were taken but they weren't needed today as Kiley D joined us for this special group run. Our little bun run has become an event that PRC looks forward to! We may soon have to ask the Woodstock to cater it for us.

Have a great last week of November and as always...see you on the road.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday morning solo run

No group runs planned for early today. First time in months. I decided to get out early anyway so I could spend a bit of quality time with my wife later in the day. I dressed in my winter gear - glad I did. It was cold in the Pearl - especially heading north into the wind on Commonwealth Ave. A road crew was making repairs near Sunrise Ave. A water main break left slushy ice on the road side...Below zero for sure.
As I headed towards Topsail Rd, I was looking forward to having the wind at my back. When I turned eastward it was a different day with sunshine peeking out from behind the dark November clouds. A toot from a red Civic reminded me that there are lots of friendly drivers out there. Not sure if the driver was a PRC member. The car was past before I could look.
My pace was easy today after two consecutive group runs with the faster PRC members. We did our coffee run yesterday at a 5:35 clip. It was a brisk run into a gusty wind. While the trees around the ponds sheltered us from the winds, we were disappointed to see debris from the daycare demolition near the new Sobeys flying down the trail at Neil's Pond. A construction fence might have been a good idea.
When I turned off Topsail to head down Brookfield Rd, the cold winds returned. I accessed the trailway at Edison Place and had the route to myself. It had taken me 42 minutes to this point so I figured I'd be home in under an hour. Most of the glorious fall colours had become brown and black mulch along the trail by now. The sky had a foreboding pre-winter look as I headed home near the Smallwood soccer complex. No players out on the fields this morning. Winter must be near!
Today's run took 60 minutes even. I didn't wear a Garmin so I guess I went approx. 10k. It was nice to finish an early run by 8:30. Sure felt lonely out there today. After running with my PRC marathon group since June, it seemed a little strange not to have at least one of them with me.

See you on the road (or trail) ....

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance Day Run

The annual PRC tradition of a morning trail run on November 11th was alive and well this morning on several routes. All involved some time on the trails and roads in the welcome sunshine. The thermometer didn't want to hit double digits today but it was perfect running weather.

Most members wore a poppy during their runs today to commemorate the brave veterans from the past and honour those in our midst. Recent tragic events made this Remembrance Day one for somber reflection. We noticed that every runner we passed along the trail to Water Street was proudly wearing a poppy. Many PRC members were anxious to finish their coffee this morning to get back home for parades and 11AM ceremonies.

It was remarkable how many club members posted pics on FB of loved ones who had gone to war or served our country in some other capacity. Such moving rembrances are what this day is all about. As we enjoyed friendship and commaraderie along the trails this morning, many of us stopped for a moment to give thanks for the freedoms that we enjoy. We certainly have a lot to be thankful for.
See you on the road...  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Coffee does matter

On Sunday, while the winds were still gusting in the metro area, two large groups of PRC runners met at Coffee Matters in Paradise for our Sunday long runs. As there are no races in the immediate future, these long runs are only around an hour. Quite a treat when compared to our two to three hour Sunday runs just a short while ago. It was great to have some old friends back with us on this day as well.
One group headed east towards Bowring Park. My group ventured west into the prevailing wind. The loops around Neil’s Pond and the Octagon were over wet terrain. The trees along these trails helped shelter us from the wind for a while. Earlier last week we were out in shorts and tee shirts. Today it was gloves and hats. Next thing we’ll be dodging snow flurries. No one wants to talk about that just yet but it is our reality in this part of the world.
Once my group exited the Octagon Pond trail, it was downhill almost all the way. On Sunday mornings, light traffic makes the Topsail Highway a joy to run. The view over Conception Bay is always spectacular! The rough pavement and shoulders of this road can still bring about an ankle twist as one of our members discovered yesterday. No major damage - thank goodness.
As we wound our way past the CBS soccer pitch kids were on the field practicing. The sound of their voices made it feel like we were still in summer (almost). The 11 plus kilometer trek was going quickly. A little further and we reached our destination at the Manuels Bridge. The new Coffee Matters overlooks the Manuels River and is an ideal place to relax with friends over a tea or coffee after a run.

When I returned to Paradise to pick up my car, the Bowring Park runners were back at Coffee Matters. Sitting among friends, they too were relaxing with a coffee after their Sunday run. Somewhere in between Craig Pike was doing his return leg from Manuels to Paradise, along the Trailway. Hope he had coffee in his thermos! See you on the road - or trails...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

UFOs at Topsail Pond

This week has seen two PRC group runs from Peter Barry Duff park to the Topsail Pond area. Runners gathered on the PBD parking lot resplendent in reflective gear, flashers and headlamps. Looked like Hallowe'en all over again. Several small groups took off for their fun runs now that the race season is over.Some are training for the hypothermic half in Feb. but most of us are happy to just run!

After covering every cul de sac in sight, groups cross paths on Buckingham Drive. From a distance, it appears there are UFOs approaching. I am sure the drivers in the area appreciate the advance notice that there are runners on the road. We are extra careful these days to run single file...especially as vehicles approach. Don't want any negative publicity for PRC. We have worked too hard at making a positive impression in the communities where we run!

Even though a few of us have nagging aches and pains, most of us have come through  the tough racing season close to injury free. A true testament to proper training. Now to get back to a sensible diet once again! See you on the road...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Niagara Post Marathon reflections - one week later

New York and Hamilton marathon and half marathon results crossed my FB page yesterday. Great results for NL friends and acquaintances. Big congrats to all.

It brought me back 7 days to the Niagara International Marathon. Could it have been only one week ago? Hard to believe - seems like a lifetime in some ways. The Paradise Running Club team of 10 full and 7 half marathoners set out on a life changing journey over the past four months. I think it is safe to say that our mission was accomplished along the Niagara Parkway last week.

With the awesome support of the PRC group at home and on the road (thanks Mel, Mary and Linda), the team partied and shopped a little more than the schedule called for. The excitement of the city and event was almost overwhelming at times. The destination race was like a big family road trip minus the sibling rivalry. This tight knit group of like-minded individuals got along great and supported each other fully! Race day saw the culmination of months of training... and a successful result for everyone on the PRC Niagara team. Great friends and running partners shared an amazing experience. The newly bestowed medals for finishing 21.1 or 42.2 kilometers were worn proudly by all.

Only two of us had ever experienced the absolute joy of crossing the marathon finish line. A few more had felt the same joy at previous half marathons. On Sunday, those that crossed the finish line were greeted by cheers and tears. Each finisher stayed on until the other team members crossed the finish line. For some supporters that meant almost five hours in the cool Niagara Falls mist. Hugs and congrats were abundant at the finish chute. Ahh...memories to last a lifetime! Someone said their heart grew three sizes that day. I think we all felt that way about this awesome group and racing experience.

For the marathoners, some highlights were the bus ride to Buffalo and art gallery where we waited to start; the national anthems prior to race start, followed by the Last Post - just days after two of our Canadian Forces heroes died; the stately homes of Buffalo; the Niagara parkway and of course the choruses of Go Yellow Go and Where is Paradise? Well, everyone along the route now knows where Paradise NL is. located. I think it is safe to say we painted Niagara yellow and black. Congratulations to all my PRC teammates! What a proud moment for all of us!