21 kilometres

September 10, 2012 at 9:31 am (Sports and fitness, To do before I die)

I ran a half-marathon on Saturday. It was my third race of the year – and ever – and the longest distance I’ve run to date. It was also the most beautiful course, through Lake Placid and North Elba. Whiteface Mt. was in the distance for several miles as we ran along a winding highway up and down hills and along streams. Gorgeous.

My time was 2:22 – decent enough but the slowest among the group I was participating with. I had convinced my friend Vera to sign up with us, and despite barely training at all (she hadn’t run more than 10k all year) she finished in 1:38, 23rd overall and first in her age category. My brother also came along, completing his first ever race with a time of 1:55. Impressive, to be sure.

It was a great time. I felt way better than I did during the last quarter of the Boilermaker, though my ankles and feet have never hurt so much. I was pumped to complete the race, but along the way I decided I’m no longer so keen on running a full marathon. Twenty-one kilometers was quite enough.

I’m done formal training for this year – no more races on the horizon for me. But I hope to at least maintain what I accomplished this year, and aim for a couple 5k and 10k events next year. And maybe a duathlon?

The half-marathoners, minus Vera

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2012 Olympics: Team Canada

August 13, 2012 at 11:43 am (News, Sports and fitness) (, )

The 2012 Olympic Games wrapped up in London last night, with a three-hour closing ceremony of random guests showcasing British pop music. I was pumped to see Christine Sinclair – captain of our women’s soccer team – hoisting the maple leaf, with a huge grin on her face. She did a fantastic job and earned the honour of being our flag bearer.

Team Canada is heading home with 18 medals, only one of them goal. Though it might not be what some had hoped, I’m reminded of our incredible showing when we hosted the Olympics two years ago in Vancouver. Fourteen gold medals, the most of any country … ever. And there’s far fewer sports events (86 compared to 301), and therefore medals, in the winter Games.

So hey, we might not be quite as good at summer sports, but we can definitely hold our own. We finished 13th overall in the total medal count, well back of the three top finishers. The U.S. earned 104 medals; China had 88, and Great Britain won 65. I was pumped for them; what a great showing for the host nation. Cuba and Colombia – two of my other favourite countries in the world – finished with 14 and eight medals, respectively.

Here’s a breakdown of Canada’s hardware:

Gold

  • Rosannagh MacLennan, women’s trampoline

Silver

  • Adam van Koeverden, men’s kayak 1000m
  • Team Canada, rowing men’s eight
  • Team Canada, rowing women’s eight
  • Ryan Cochrane, men’s 1500m freestyle swim
  • Tonya Lynn Verbeek, women’s wrestling

Bronze

  • Team Canada, women’s soccer
  • Derek Drouin, men’s high jump
  • Mark de Jonge, men’s kayak 200m
  • Mark Oldershaw, men’s canoe 1000m
  • Team Canada, women’s cycling team pursuit
  • Team Canada, women’s diving 3m springboard
  • Team Canada, women’s diving 10m platform
  • Antoine Valois-Fortier, men’s judo
  • Brent Hayden, men’s 100m freestyle swim
  • Richard Weinberger, men’s 10k swim
  • Christine Girard, women’s weightlifting
  • Carol Huynh, women’s wrestling

And that’s all … until the Games in Sochi, Russia, in two years.

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2012 Olympics: best commentary ever

August 11, 2012 at 7:58 am (Sports and fitness) (, )

Man … some people are hilarious. I came across a video of some pretty entertaining commentary on a sailing event. Makes me want to try commentary for the hammer throw or something.

I can’t post the video here, but follow this link. Please excuse the language and enjoy.

As an update, we’re now at 18 medals. We won bronze in the marathon swimming event yesterday, which kind of blew my mind. I can’t imagine swimming for 10 kilometres.

Only two days left!

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2012 Olympics: soccer bronze

August 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm (News, Sports and fitness) (, )

I’m so proud of our soccer team. After a frustrating loss to the U.S., we played hard against France and won a bronze medal this morning. I think Christina Sinclair did a fantastic job leading the ladies – she did get all three goals in the semi-final – even if her comments after the game were less than Olympian. FIFA has still to rule if she’ll face disciplinary action for questioning the ref’s call.
Diana Matheson, who scored the game-winning and sole point today was a class act as she pointed to the Canadian crest on her jersey immediately after.

I’m just disappointed our very own Christine Julien was left off the roster at the last minute. As an alternate and member of Canada’s national team, she can at least be proud that she played a role in getting them where they are today. Shortly after the win, she tweeted:

Did we honestly just win a BRONZE FRIGGIN MEDAL???? This is not real life.. I WILL NVR FORGET THIS MOMENT!!!!!! THANK YOU CANADAAAAA

We’ve had plenty to celebrate so far at the 2012 Olympics. A silver and bronze in rowing, our first medal in weight-lifting, two in diving, two in wrestling, gold in trampoline, silver each in men’s and women’s rowing. In the overall medal count, we’re 12th in the world with a total of 16. Not anywhere close to sports superpowers China and the U.S., but not shabby at all.

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2012 Olympics: Let the Games begin

July 27, 2012 at 9:05 am (News, Sports and fitness) ()

The 2012 Summer Olympics officially kick off tonight in London. I’m pretty pumped. I love watching all the sporting events and cheering on my favourite athletes. It brings out patriotism in us all but also gathers the world together.

Canada didn’t get off to a great start, though. Our first contest was a soccer game against Japan, which we lost 2-1. I was already bummed about this team, since Christine Julien was cut a few weeks ago – she’s from Williamstown, and this region’s only athlete who was in the race to compete for our country this year.

We have 281 representatives, with Simon Whitfield carrying the Maple Leaf in the opening ceremony tonight. I’ll be rooting for all of them … but I’ll also be supporting a couple other countries that I’m rather partial to. Colombia, for example. My home for almost a full year, I’m hoping their athletes take back some hardware.

Canada pulled in 18 medals in the last summer Olympics, held in Beijing in 2008. The most we’ve ever won was 44, when the Games were hosted by Los Angeles in 1984; our second place tally is half that, from 1996 in Atlanta. We earned a record amount in the winter Olympics held in our very own Vancouver two years ago: 26 medals, and 14 of them gold. The goal is a fourth place overall finish this year.

I’m really looking forward to the water sports … canoeing, diving, rowing. The cycling events are pretty entertaining as well. I want to catch some soccer, volleyball and running contests. There’s a blind archer from South Korea I’d like to see, and some of the gymnastics events are seriously impressive.

Ahh, I love the Olympics. GO CANADA!!

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The Boilermaker

July 9, 2012 at 10:25 am (Sports and fitness, To do before I die)

Yesterday I ran further than I ever have in my life. Fifteen kilometres. It’s no marathon, but it was definitely a challenge.

On Saturday morning I met up with a few friends and we drove to Utica, NY, for the 35th annual Boilermaker road race.

My lovely fellow runners

Compared to Ottawa Race Weekend (the only other race I’ve done), I definitely preferred the expo and organization of the Canadian city. The route in Utica was really beautiful with some great views, just not quite the same as running alongside the gorgeous Rideau Canal. Also not impressed that medals and t-shirts weren’t part of the registration fee; I’ll have to make do with a finishers pin instead.

I hadn’t done an intense amount of training for this, but I did hit the pavement for at least one long run per week for the last month or so. I felt really good for the first 10 kilometres, despite a couple of hills. It was probably around kilometre 12 or 13 that I ran out of energy though. I walked a good portion of the last mile or two, darting into every sprinkler or hose along the way. As a result, my time wasn’t nearly as good as I had hoped (1:48:40), but hey – I finished! And it was with a solid sprint across the line.

We made it!

I’m pretty pumped I can say I ran the most competitive 15-kilometre race in the world, despite not being anywhere near competitive in it. It was, once again, a fabulous experience to hit the road with 13,000 other athletes, supported by hundreds of volunteers and spectators along the way.  I love the race culture and atmosphere – so positive and encouraging. There’s an instant bond with everyone of the other runners, as we have all trained and pushed ourselves to be there. And all – okay most – of us love doing it.

So what’s next? Well, after my muscles stop being sore I’m going to start looking into half-marathons this fall. Why not? I need another goal if I’m going to keep this up. A marathon is on my life to-do list, after all.

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My first race

May 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm (Sports and fitness)

Well, I made it. I ran 10 kilometers.

Ottawa Race Weekend was phenomenal; such a great experience. I’m already aiming to run a half marathon next year, and stay for the entire weekend to cheer on all the racers.

I arrived around 3 p.m. on Saturday, in time to pick up my race kit, t-shirt and browse the expo. I watched the start of the 5k race – really cool to see the massive sea of people take off from the line. One runner had her stroller, another was taking photos with her DSLR as she jogged along.

The 5k start

My race began at 6:30 p.m. I wasn’t nervous at all as I joined the packed group of fellow runners. I had my music cued up, and started with a great stride. A couple of people I knew were just ahead of me, so I used them as my pacers for the first few kilometers. It was phenomenal to have such huge crowds for almost the entire route – both they and the hundreds of runners around me were great motivation. Tons of people had signs for friends and relatives, but my favourite was an older gentleman carrying a sign that said: “Run, random stranger, run.” So great.

I walked briefly at a couple of points, but I was far more comfortable running. I hit the 5k mark at 31:10 – my best time so far. At the 7k mark I had some cramps, right around the time my competitiveness kicked in as I watched so many people passing me. I picked up my pace a short time later, and crossed the finish line with a time of 1:08:38 – ahead of my goal of 70 minutes. Woo!

With my giant medal proving I finished

My gross heel post-race

Despite a blister that broke and filled my shoe with blood, it was a fun race and I felt great. Now I just have to keep up my training for the Boilermaker 15k in July.

With Tara and Wendy, fabulous ladies who ran the 10k also

With Jackie, one of my best pals who has been a huge inspiration for me in my running

I’m feeling pretty good today – just tired – but I’m fully expecting the soreness to hit me tomorrow. No matter, it was worth it!

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Ottawa Race Weekend

May 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm (Sports and fitness)

Four days until my first race. Eeek.

New running shoes

I bought new shoes and I’ve been hitting the pavement every other day, with some biking and swimming thrown in the mix. I still haven’t run a full 10k, but I heard adrenaline kicks in during a race and carries you for a while, so hopefully I’ll be okay. I’m fairly certain I’ll be walking part of the way, but as long as I finish I’ll be happy.

I’m looking forward to the community aspect of it all – running alongside hundreds of other athletes who are either beginners like me or seasoned racers. It will also be nice to have cheering sections along the way, I’m sure that provides great motivation.

The Ottawa Race Weekend 10k starts at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, with a beautiful route along the Rideau Canal.

I’ll let you know how I do, or you can follow my results – I’m the only Brink participating all weekend, so it shouldn’t be too hard. Stay tuned for an update afterwards and a look ahead to a 15k race I’m signed up for in July.

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Playoff predictions 2012, round two

April 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm (Sports and fitness) (, , )

I had two … two out of eight right for my earlier playoff predictions. That’s pretty bad – also sad to see both Canadian teams lose in the first round. Let’s see if I can do better with the next series.

  • LA Kings vs. St. Louis Blues – Kings in six
  • Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes – Coyotes in seven
  • Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers – Rangers in six
  • New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers – Flyers in seven

What do you think? Who’s your favourite for the cup this year?

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Playoff predictions 2012, round one

April 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm (News, Sports and fitness) (, )

Hey look, it’s back. My annual series of blog posts on the NHL. Though I’m still not as avid a follower as many, I did manage to make it to a couple of Senators games this year, in addition to the rather fabulous All-Star exhibition in Ottawa. I would have crossed number 10 off my life to-do list, but alas, I have to work Monday evening when the Sens host the Rangers for the second match of the series.

I’m pumped to see a Canadian team at the very top of the standings this year, though I wish more than two had made the playoffs. Toronto’s failures don’t surprise me any longer, but I was bummed Calgary – my second favourite team – wasn’t able to squeeze into the top of the western conference.

Enough rambling. Here’s my predictions for round one of the playoffs, based on no expertise or significant research whatsoever. Leave your taunts, cheers or expectations of your own in the comment box below.

  • Los Angeles Kings vs. Vancouver Canucks – No question: Canucks in six
  • San Jose Sharks vs. St. Louis Blues – Sharks in seven
  • Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes – Blackhawks in six
  • Detroit Red Wings vs. Nashville Predators – Predators in five
  • Ottawa Senators vs. New York Rangers – I have faith: Sens in seven
  • Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins – Bruins in six
  • New Jersey Devils vs. Florida Panthers – Panthers in four
  • Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins – Penguins in five

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