9 Run Run. How did this happen?

For me, it started this spring/summer when I realized I would not be on-the-bike very much, and needed another method to noodle around and be active. Did some hiking and paddling stuff which was fun, until I started to look at my heart rate and realized I need to bump it up a notch. The easiest way to get the activity I needed was to go for a short jog. With my penguin style trot, off I went for a few KMs here and there, with pacing based on heartrate. With casual guidance & wisdom from Judy, we nudged up the distances and frequency – culminating in registration for one of our favorite races: 9 Run Run!

Logistics for the in-person event were great. Race kit pickup was outside over two days at the Bushtukah Stittsville, with proof-of-vaccination being required to receive your in-person bib. My old friend and Nortel colleague, Pierre-Pierre, was there screening all the participants to keep everyone safe, and it was great catching up. Weather forecast looked dodgy, and we just needed a good window of opportunity of weather to run the event.

Mother nature was in good humour, giving us a cool autumn day on Friday, so I was optimistic. In an impressive mood swing, rain & thundershowers were delivered Saturday morning. With lightning arriving at 8:15, the firetrucks lowered their ladders, and everyone stayed under cover during the downpour. All tents were occupied, and after consulting the radar weather, a 15 minutes start delay was announced to ensure we have a safe running window during the event.

Judy provided Bushtukah sponsor activities with Brenda (Founder, and tireless Race Director) and the RunOttawa crew, as she’s still in recovery mode from her run in Boston last week. Heading over to the start area, it was definitely raining, but it’s amazing how the personal view on acceptable weather can change when we had lighting and thunder 45 minutes ago! As we waited in the queue to start, the rain diminished further, and when the horn went off to start the run, it was merely drizzling.

The weather did hold off for a bit, though the excellent trail itself was a bit waterlogged in places. For the first 2-3km the runners around me tried to weave around the larger puddles along the trail, and occasionally ran along the damp grass and slippery leaves to get around the worst of the accumulation. As the rain renewed, so did my attempts to ‘stay dry’, though by the time we hit the 5K turnaround, the rain was steady again. With no dry patches anywhere on my body, it was just a matter of getting into the groove and moving through the last 5K with soggy shoes – and ensuring the footing was good to avoid any slipping and sliding. To be fair, most of the trail did drain well, though there were the occasional patches to be cautious on in the saturated terrain.

With the final 500+ meters on the city streets again, we were on clear surfaces, and the finishing arch was within sight. Judy was cheering folks on just in front of the finishing area, and managed to snap a quick photo as I strode past. Was fantastic hearing the beeps of the timing mats as I finished, and like a runner, I also reached down to stop my Garmin. What’s happening to me?

Soggy and satisfied, I kept moving in the drizzle to the firemen in their raingear that were handing out medals – nice to earn one, as its been a while. With no recent running history, the 58:50 chip time is also a PB for me in this decade. Brenda was also in the area, and came over to congratulate me – and hang the ribbon around my neck personally – Now that’s service! Judy was super supportive and delighted to see me cross the line again – with a gift of an umbrella. Seeing some of the old gang, we chatted briefly. As it was only around 16C, I was starting to get chilly in the rain, and I headed over to the car to get some dry cloths on.

Heading back, we crossed paths with Dave again, and did the fist bump of congratulations, as we both walked towards our cars seeking a warmer dry refuge. I think Dave had fun too – and asked me an odd question, “Hey, where does the 1/2 marathon course go to – is it just out further and back?”.

Hmmm, maybe something I will need to ponder for next year.

FootNote: Looks like there was another PB set for Saturday: wettest October-16 on record since Ottawa kept records from 1895. We crushed the old 2020 rainfall record of 20.2mm with an impressive 49.4mm falling on race day, the bulk of this delivered before 11am. Well done to everyone for just showing up, and finishing in these impressive conditions.

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