Monday, October 20, 2008

Maritime bliss - friends, food, running and fun

Pre-race Report

As many of you know, the main reason I came to PEI was to work with my Ph.D. supervisor, who relocated to the island this past summer. About a week prior to my departure I sent him 150 pages of draft chapters of my thesis for us to discuss during the trip. His feedback has been very valuable and has moved me forward a great deal with my study.

He and his wife hosted me during my stay, which was delightful. They are generous and kind hosts. I have eaten more fish, scallops, crab and lobster since I arrived than I have in the past decade, I daresay, and I've savoured every bite of it!

The fact that I got to run a race while I have been here is just a bonus. And since this is mostly a running blog, I'll keep most of the post about that. I could rave on about the seafood, but for folks back in Cow Town, that would just be cruel and unusual punishment, as good seafood is hard to come by at reasonable prices in most corners of Calgary, I find.

The day before the race, my supervisor's wife took me out in the family car for a survey of the race route. Apart from the foot trails, we drove the entire course and that got me pumped. I find it adds a lot to my race experience when I know what to expect along the course. It adds a degree of psychological comfort that makes the run much better, I find.

I wondered how all those scallops that topped my pasta bowl the night before the race would sit in my tummy, but that did not stop me from devouring them. Oh, right. I promised not to go on about the seafood.

Moving along...

Race morning brought a delightful surprise.

As I was heading into the race headquarters to drop my bag I heard someone call my name. I turned around to look and a woman about my age screamed something to the effect of "Oh my, God! It's you!!"

I looked at her. Blankly. I don't know anyone on PEI and anyone I know through contacts isn't around my age.

She said, "It's Rosanne, from Halifax!"

Rosanne, from Halifax, was one of my closest friends from childhood. After graduating from high school, we went to different universities and all but lost contact, except for Christmas cards and Facebook.

Of course by then, it had all clicked. We quickly established that she and her husband had decided at the last minute to come from Halifax for the weekend and visit his parents, who live in Charlottetown. She had remembered that she'd seen a status line on Facebook saying I was going to run the race and decided on a whim to come and look for me.

I was flabbergasted. We hadn't seen each other in 20 years and she decided to get up early on a Sunday morning and, as she put it "try and look for my needle in a haystack". If you've ever tried to find someone at a major race, you know it is possible, but not always easy. Try adding 20 years of not seeing one another, and one of you having no idea that the other was looking for you, and the chances diminish a bit.

She said she recognized me from behind, as I was about to enter the building where the headquarters were. I laughed. Now there's proof, after 20 years, that running keeps more than your spirits from drooping.

We both found ourselves in tears at our unexpected reunion and I quickly got her phone number so I could call her after the race and we could catch up properly. With just a few minutes to spare, I hit the bathroom and then made my way to the start line, full of the usual pre-race emotions, and also with elation and surprise about seeing Rosanne.

Race Report - PEI Half Marathon - October 19, 2008

As for the race, I clocked my fastest time this year, but not my fastest time ever. Having said that, I can't complain.

First off, let me say that this is a beautiful race course. With ocean views, trails, bits that weave through gorgeous residential areas and give the runner a chance to see downtown Charlottetown, this definitely ranks among my favorite races ever. The organization was outstanding and helpful volunteers who readily share their Maritime hospitality and generosity abound from the moment you get to race headquarters, at regular and short intervals along the course and again at the finish line. To add to that, the weather was perfect. Really, the conditions were ideal and I'd recommend this race wholeheartedly.

They say that you never know what to expect during a race and you hope that you face most of the potential "blips" in training so you figure out how to deal with them. I had a surprise yesterday that's never happened before.

I got the most spectacular calf cramp that came on slowly and built steadily until it peaked when, like a lightening rod, it shot down my leg and through my foot, causing my toes to spasm shut. That part was instant - and immobilizing. I actually cried out in pain and had to stop. I tried to relax it and get the toes to unravel, but they wouldn't. It was like a car engine seized up at -40 degrees in the winter. Nothing moved.

I had to *sit down* on the side of the road, take off my shoe and manually uncurl my toes - while gasping and grunting and yet, sounding light and happy to other runners who asked if I was OK. I yelled back, "Yeah, it's OK. Just a cramp." Just. Yeah, right.

Meanwhile, the toes spontaneously and involuntarily slammed shut again a few times before I could get them to stay flat long enough to get my shoe back on. Once it was back on, I thought, "Keep moving, or everything is going to cramp up." So, away I went - much slower than before. I thought I was well hydrated and followed the usual diet as closely as possible, not being at home, so who knows what happened. Whatever it was, I am quite sure it had nothing to do with the scallops the night before. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Apart from that, it was a good race and I enjoyed it.

Rosanne was waiting for me at the finish line with a big smile and a hug. I quickly retrieved my bag from the drop and wrapped in the silver emergency blanket that volunteers draped around each runner after the timing chips were retrieved and medals were bestowed, Rosanne and I set off to break bread and catch up on the last two decades. We shared stories over lunch, as time melted away. Finally, it was time to go and, still nursing a cramp, I headed back to my host's home for a shower and to get ready for a dinner of lobster and crab.

There I go with the seafood again... What can I say? I'd take this trip over a holiday to a tropical resort any day.


Backofpack said...

It's great to hear you are having fun and loved your run! It is quite amazing that Roseanne found you.

Funny, I almost prefer not to see the course before hand - I like the unexpected part of it.

Have a safe trip home!

Sarah said...

Sounds like a perfect race (and trip)!

She Who Makes Waves said...

So nice to hear you are enjoying your time in the far east!

UGH...all the fish talk...what are you doing to all us Maritimers out west!

Way to go on having a good time and a fun time at the race!

Legs and Wings said...

I should have made the effort to look you up while you visited here. I missed you by one weekend. Drat, that would have been fun. Too much hospitality could kill a person.

Sounds like you re-charged while here and that's the best part. Charlottetown is beautiful eh.

ipm said...

what an adventure!!! very very cool... :))) and well done!

Sander & Liesbeth said...

Glad you had such a marvellous time in the Maritimes! Good job finishing your race with calf cramps! Wow! I bet you are a great 'sufferer', going on with cramps!
See you, Liesbeth.

Dawn - Pink Chick said...

I'm jealous you got to go back east. I'm from NB and haven't been that way since '75.

Glad to hear you had fun and heh, check out for another write up on the race.

Claire said...

Sounds like you had a great time, and you made me homesick in the process of reading your post! Hope the cramp doesn't come back. I think I'll have scallops for supper...

robtherunner said...

Very cool that you got to catch up with your friend after so long. Nice job with the half as well!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

yay for your fastest time this year!

Atrusni said...

Wow, great story.

Since i started running, I have managed to make contact also with a friend that had not seen since my career years. I never knew he run, until I saw him on a race on a city about 2 hours from my hometown.

Running does make new friendships and joins old ones.

Great story

Ginger Breadman said...

what a cool post. It's so funny what running brings you in life. And travel to anywhere can bring amazing insights.