A new project

Posted by bernicky - June 29th, 2008

With only a few more hours of editing left before finishing Why I Run I have decided on a new project. The next project if I can get the cooperation of the team will be about the Pointe-Claire Dragons dragon boat team from founding to current iteration.

Canada Day

Posted by bernicky - June 29th, 2008

We are heading into Canada Day which means that in all likelihood people will duck out of work early tomorrow if they haven’t already booked it off. Tuesday is looking o.k. weather wise in Montreal with sunny skies in the forecast and a high of 24.

My own Canada Day plans are simple enough – run. The Hudson’s Bay Company is hosting races all across Canada on Canada Day as part of an effort to raise money for Canadian Olympic athletes. The field for the race last year in Montreal was over 350 which makes it roughly 1/3 larger than most of the 10K events on the Circuit Endurance. The finishing times were fast (30 minutes for the winners) and the course by the looks of the map on the website is fairly flat. This morning’s easy run felt good and relaxed. Tomorrow I will take the day off, despite jibes from fellow club members who will also be racing and plan to do their regular speed workout tomorrow night. For whatever reason I have found that running the day before a race gains me nothing while taking the day off has benefited me with good times this year. We are still two months away from my goal race, the Vaudreuil 10K, so Tuesday is unlikely to produce anything faster than a 42 minute run but I still want to give it everything I have on that day.

Fingers crossed.

Provincial results

Posted by bernicky - June 24th, 2008

If you are interested in the results of the provincial championships they are here.

Provincial Championships.

Posted by bernicky - June 24th, 2008

Opening Ceremonies Provincial Track and Field Championships 2008 Quebec
On Saturday I packed my bags ands headed to Dalbe Viau high school in Lachine. The purpose of the 10 minute drive and three day two night stay was to participate as coach/monitor for athletes from high schools in the region. Our high school sent three athletes, two girls and one boy. Our girls did very well in the city championships and represented us well in the provincials. One girl ran the 80 meter sprint and made it into the finals but missed the podium she was also throwing discus and threw well but just missed the first round cut and in the 1200 she did surprisingly well for a sprinter running a middle distance race. Our actual middle distance runner fared well in both the 1200 and 2000 considering she was sick all weekend. The juvenile discus thrower didn’t make the cut but it was because he threw poorly two out of bounds and a foul out. On any given day things can go horribly wrong.

The entire GMAA contingent was tiny in comparison to the rest of the delegations from across the province thanks in part to both the John Rennie high school and Pierrefonds Comprehensive high school proms being held the same weekend (both Rennie and Pierrefonds had the majority of the top athletes at the GMAA championships). If an athlete couldn’t stay on site they were not allowed to compete which made it impossible for the athletes from those schools to participate. In some events like the middle distance runs it wouldn’t have made any difference but in some of the sprint, throwing and jumping events it could have made some difference in the final results.

100 meter finals

The quality of athletic competition at the provincial track and field event was superb. While some of those who I run with poopoo current track numbers as being practically arthritic in comparison to track in their day I found it fantastic to watch. The juvenile boys went through the 1500 meter race in 4:12 which impressed the heck out of me as did the 200 meter clocking in at under 21 seconds. Things in the javelin and discus area were just monster with throws that I just did not expect to see at the Quebec high school level (keeping in mind that Quebec high school finishes a year before high school in the rest of North America).
3000 meter final

The above photo was one of those moments over the weekend when one athlete just completely smoked the competition. This was the winner of the cadet boys middle distance races. The field of about 12 other runners was no where to be seen as he crossed the finish line. It was something else to watch. All in all it was some seriously strong competition and makes me wish that governments and school boards took athletics more seriously. Unfortunately that is a hard sell when the drop out rate at 25% and an admitted 10% of the population that is officially illiterate (Literacy international places that number significantly higher). Still it would be nice for someone in charge of the secondary school system to put some effort into fighting obesity by encouraging real lifestyle change through physical activity.

Lachine Dragon Boat Festival

Posted by bernicky - June 14th, 2008

Dragon Boat Head

I made a quick video using a Panasonic SDR-SW20 digital video camera that records straight to SD memory. It does a pretty good job but there are some problems with it that will have me continuing to use miniDV tape for the foreseeable future. In the meantime here are the results of today’s experiment with this new camera. Probably best to right click and download the 21 MB video file. It is 13 minutes long and unless you were involved you will likely be bored. This is not the quality of the video from the camera it is a web quality version for easy download.

There are some pictures in the gallery if you are interested.


Posted by bernicky - June 14th, 2008

Tomorrow is father’s day which is a humbug.

Having grown up in North America in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s I learned from the media that father’s were not only pointless but in point of fact destructive to the lives of women and their off spring everywhere. More importantly all fathers are by definition stupid and disconnected from any reality that their family is experiencing.

The greeting card industry soldiers on with this after thought of an event that makes most men cringe and most children would just as soon forget. For my own part I get up early enough in the morning to get out of the house before anyone else is awake and have enough of a day planned that with any luck the day the whole thing will pass unremarked.

5 Peaks Trail Series – Camp Fortune, Quebec

Posted by bernicky - June 7th, 2008

Sonja, Steve, Allison and Michelle (all Phoenix runners) and I all made the rather unwise decision to set off for Camp Fortune to take part in the 5 Peaks race there today. By far the best part was the drive down (fog vs smog, peanuts fruit or legume, cows, silos, phallus’, sheep and Scotsmen) and the drive back (gay newspapers, how the heck did we survive that!?!).

Steve got us to Camp Fortune despite my best efforts to steer him in the wrong direction and getting out of the car felt a little like getting hit in the face with a hot brick. We were all a little stiff from the long drive and more than a little surprised that we seemed to be the only runners who were there at 8 in the morning. We sauntered down to the registration area where those of us who chose race day registration got to cough up $50.00 for the race to come. While we were filling out the forms Sonja asked about the course whereupon we were sternly warned that this was a dangerous course and that we would definitely fall and that we may strike our head on rocks. That may sound funny but the race organizer was deadly serious and did not make light of it though he did mention that he really did have to warn us to cover his ass for legal reasons. (my words not his)

So with two hours to kill I went looking for water. There was none to be had not a drop, nada, buptkus, rien, drier than a Las Vegas heat wave. Fortunately the wise, and remarkably funny, Steve brought lots of water which he generously shared. Michelle, Allison, Steve and Sonja went off for a warm up run and I begged off deciding that the walk to the start line would warm me up enough. Beside us a few cars down there was a runner who knew what she was doing and was informing other runners about the course and how to run it. I went over to speak to her and she warned me that the course was extremely technical.

Short break in report to explain this term: Technical. Simply put technical equals dangerous. There seem to be several levels of technical, plain technical (the first part of the course) as we went up and down the first mountain then across a parking lot and started our ascent of the second mountain. The third level of technical we encountered on the descent of the second mountain this level is called extremely technical . To put it in perspective we were going down sixty degree slopes covered in roots, rain slick rock and mud as slick as curling ice while running and trying not to kill ourselves. The second type is referred to as very technical which involves lots of switch back and running over mud slick bridges, jumping over logs and having to scramble up 90 degree (I kid you not) embankments and grabbing onto the trees to pull yourself up.

The Camp Fortune course was an interesting mix of all of these things as well as having some simple sections of packed dirt road where roadie sensibilities and technique could be used. The start of the race was an eye opener and in retrospect I should have gone out with my usual verve rather than sitting back on my heels. Once you are on the trail it is very difficult to pass someone because the trails are something that even a mountain goat would find a little narrow. We weren’t even a kilometer into the course before someone wiped out and had to be carried off. The dialogue I overheard behind me went like this Ouff, ow. Are you okay? No, I’m done. And that was on a simple part of the course.

Once we got across the parking lot after the warm up section the introduction to serious trail started with a section called Brian’s Climb which was hard but not impossibly so and gave me the feeling that this wasn’t going to be so bad. HA! The climb was steep, hard and technical. Once we reached the summit of the mountain (thankfully there was a summit) the down side was extremely technical redefining quadriceps pain and mud slipperiness. The trees along the side of the trail were the only means of braking either by grabbing while running by or by running smack dab into them (yes I did this not intentionally). After the descent it was back into the parking lot (gravel) then onto a fairly flat packed trail that was reasonably flat and barely qualified as technical except for the small brook, bridge and logs before starting the ascent of the third peak.

The start of the ascent was easy enough with a series of slow climbs that after a little while began to get increasingly steep. Occasionally rocks or roots would leap up into the air and snag a runner’s foot (this is my interpretation and may not reflect the reality of the situation). After a series of muddy hills, rocky climbs the trails turned into a packed earth road and lead to a bizarre site: A wall of earth about 4 feet high that required some considerable dedication and the help of tree roots and trunk to get up and onto the remainder of the very technical ascent. This peak was brutal in comparison to the previous one with muddy switch backs, slippery rock and parts so steep runners could be excused for thinking they were running in place. Cresting this monstrosity was cool because that is where the first water stop was and the downhill portion was much more friendly than the previous mountain though ironically this is where I got temporarily lost and had my first of four falls on the course.

The getting lost part taught me to watch the trail closely. I was following a guy who had passed me, infrequently glimpsing his red jersey through the woods, when I came to a fork in the trail. One side had swamp covered logs and another side had a bridge so I assumed the bridge was the right way to go (by bridge I mean a narrow arch of wood slats with 5 cm gaps between them) and was about 500 meters down the trail before I realized I didn’t see my rabbit anymore and there were no one else’s footprints in the muddy trail only bike tracks. Whoops. I cursed my luck, turned around and headed back to the fork just as two runners I had passed ages before went by me. I lost ton of time on that mistake but what can you do? I buckled down and headed back into it a little more reckless trying to make up some time and ended up falling doing a come up slide (baseball fans will understand the reference) down a boulder and into a patch of mud. The rest of the way down was fine, a little steep at times but generally much more friendly and the occasional flat sections were a boon to roadie legs. Once down to the lodge it was back again to Brian’s Climb and to do it all over again. I fell twice more descending the first peak but beyond that the run was uneventful until halfway up the second peak when four runners in front of me came to a sudden stop and stopped another runner who knew them with the sharp warning Let’s stick together there’s a bear on the trail. Finally a legitimate excuse to walk up part of the mountain.

The descent the second time was easier and I didn’t get lost though I did crash into a tree when I failed to negotiate a turn quick enough and fell from a boulder when I had to take a bad line to pass another runner but other than that it was great. It took a seriously long hour and forty minutes to run the race (with my own little extension on it) a distance that I would normally be able to do in an hour fifteen on an easy training run. There was nothing easy about today’s race but it was fun and delightfully hard.

Addendum: While it was all fun several runners were taken away in ambulances today with heat prostration, broken bones and other assorted injuries. Michelle fell and ripped the skin off her knee and ankle. I have minor scrapes on both knees, left arm and a bruised shoulder. It really was a dangerous race but I can’t help but feel it was worth every moment.

And the results are in

Posted by bernicky - June 4th, 2008

The thallium test results are back and they are good. It turns out the thing that is the size of the tumor in exactly the same place in her brain as the tumor was is nothing to worry about. The thallium did not light up like a light bulb so we put one in the win column. Woohoo.