As we finished the run and headed back to the truck to settle in to watch the rest of the runners come in and have a beer with some friends, I realized I forgot the darn bottle opener. Now normally this would not be a problem as most domestic beer is twist top, but on this occasion I decided the night before to get fancy and bring some imports (Samuel Adams and a European brand that currently escapes me) and these both required bottle openers. Have you ever seen a bunch of runners who just finished a 13.1 mile run try to think of ways to get beer bottles open without an opener, well I can tell you it was not a pretty sight. To top it all off, we were driving our new truck that we had purchased the day before, so standard supplies were limited. To give you a quick synopsis of substitute bottle openers used tried they are as follows; A spoon, a crow bar from my tire changing kit, a key, my round belt buckle, finisher medals, etc. Lets just say we had very limited success in opening the bottles, but we all have matching flesh wounds on fingers to show for our efforts. It never occurred to any of us until the last bottle was opened that the seat belt in the truck would of done the trick, and if it wasn't for the magically appearing Bottle-opening Fairy from Stonewall with the lighter trick that felt sorry for us struggling, we would probably still be there sitting in the field with blood everywhere trying to get them open.
Let us just say, do not have beer available and forget the bottle opener if you have a bunch of Hash House Harriers around, I will not be living this down for quite a while, I be thinking. Anyway enough of that, lets get on with the breakdown of what I consider my favorite Manitoba run. On on!!
Sunday, September 11, 2011, a day important for two reasons. One being the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, that should and will never be forgotten. I am in awe of the strength and resolve of all the survivors, people involved in the rescue as well as the families of the victims in the face of adversity that was bestowed on the world that day. To the communities and volunteers that helped out in regards to diverted flights and passengers throughout Canada including but not limited to Gander, Moncton, Halifax, Winnipeg, Vancouver, etc. The kindness and compassion shown on that day will not be forgotten by any and all of those involved, and for that I salute you. To the victims that were senselessly murdered that day, you will not be forgotten ever, and may you all rest in peace.
Secondly, this was also the running of the 7th Annual Treherne Marathon, a great little event put on by a small town in Western Manitoba right at the base of the Tiger Hills (about 90 minutes west of Winnipeg on Highway 2). We, the Winnipeg Barefoot Runners all ran the full marathon last year and loved it, but due to training issues (none of us trained at all), we decided to run the half marathon this year instead. I was also trying to complete the entire run barefoot, and if you know anything about this race and course you will know pretty much all of it is on gravel country roads. Therefore approx. 12 miles of running gravel roads with my bare feet is pretty much my limit this year, I be thinking.
It was a great morning for a run, sunny and at the start not to hot, but we all knew that was going to change as the temps were suppose to reach 30 degrees by the afternoon. There was also no wind of any significance, just a gentle breeze at best, almost perfect running conditions. The turn out was great, not sure of the final count but it appeared there was more participants then last year, which is always good to see. I hope this run grows a little bit each year and they continue to put it on because they do such a great job, and some of the bigger races could learn a thing or two from the organizers of this event.
The first leg of the run goes from the community center located in the center of the town out to Railway Avenue and then thru some residential streets back towards the gravel road that runs past Hwy 242 towards the start of the Tiger Hills. It's great running thru the residential streets with the cheers and the sound of 'Chariots of Fire' playing on the piano coming from the window of one ladies house as you run by. Lets just say, it is very inspiring the amount of effort this little town of just over 650 people put into making this run a success and making all the runners feel welcome and important. This is one of the reasons why I like to support this run, other than the run itself. The other reason is the scenery, it is absolutely stunning watching the sun rise up over the golden fields and look out over the horizon when you reach the top of one of the hills (complete with a visual cue via sign that says 'Turn around and look at the view') it is absolutely stunning, and I personally believe that all the runners do exactly that, turn around and take a look, because I know I did.
It is also interesting to be running along the route and be passed by a farm vehicle heading out to the fields, with the driver waving and smiling at all the runners as he passes by. It brings a smile to my face as I listen to the runners around me say, "Another Hill?", yes there are a few on this course, including a couple with some pretty good grade inclines, brings that hill training into perspective (too bad I don't do much of that). I have to say, I have heard some good advise about running hills, take them slow and easy so you don't burn yourself out, take the downhills quick it will even the time loss out. Although I was not concerned about time and just wanted to enjoy the race, I was pleased at the pace I was able to maintain even through the more technical areas, my feet were handling the gravel well and I felt my form was good as well. That was until about mile 8 when the small sharp pieces of gravel started to appear all over the road, or at least when I really started to notice it. I was still running strong albeit quite a bit slower as I tried to pick my way through the rougher patches, this was quite challenging because there really was no clear areas. For those of you that are unfamiliar with running barefoot on gravel, it really is a treat for your feet normally, standard gravel roads utilize a smooth larger stone mix. But some will also mix in small man made crushed rock into the mix especially over the winter months to help with traction. Lets just say this is not fun to run on, the rocks have this nasty habit of sticking into the sole of your foot no matter how lightly you step, they were slowly starting to bruise the thick skin built up to protect my feet. So you end up doing a lot of stopping to brush the rocks off and a lot more fancy footwork to try to avoid them. I was doing a little more walking then I would normally do (usually I only walk at the aide stations while I drink water) to try to save my feet. This of course slowed my time down considerably. But that was ok, because that allowed Nicole to catch up so we could run in together to the finish line. We got to run the last 2 miles together, which I truly loved because we usually do not get to many opportunities to run together, and I cherish all the times we get too.
I also got to run with Mike from See Mike Run (a great blog that we follow, see right side for link) for a portion of the race as well. We had a great chance to talk and discuss items along the way which I enjoyed immensely. Mike also invited me to accompany him to run the Bismarck Marathon the upcoming weekend as well (more on this later). I also want to use this time to promote a great upcoming event that Mike is putting on called Ted's Literacy Run, check out the link at the end of the blog for more information. Come on out and support a great cause.
I was able to finish the run from start to finish completely barefoot, which was my goal, it was not a personal best, but that is not why I run, I run because I like to run and to just enjoy myself. I met some great people along the way and heard a lot of positive feed back which always brings a smile to my face.
We also had the pleasure of seeing and cheering the first marathoner right through to the last as they crossed the finish line and that was really cool. We had a great time, we all accomplished what we set out to achieve, me completing the run barefoot, Nicole getting her mojo back (she completed the run in her VFF's) and Gail (Midella Depac) also getting her mojo back (she finished in her NB Minimus's). With this run I believe everybody might be back on track for a great running finish to the year.
Kudo's to the race director and all the volunteers who once again put on a great event, and we will be back next year to not only run but also pose as the 'Beer Fairies' at the finish line for all that may want to stop and chat.
Here is my mileage for the last week starting from the Treherne Marathon and going back.
Until next week, when I write about my experiences in Bismarck.