Category Archives: Running

Kindness matters!

As I hope you all remember, when Fiera Race Club members race, donations are generated for a select group of charities (for more information see our About Us page). We have chosen these charities carefully, weighing a few key criteria:

1) we want to support some local charities – charities that are making a difference close to home for most of our members.

2) we want to support charities that make a large, lasting, and tangible difference.

3) we want to support charities for which there is a personal connection for our members

4) and finally we want to support charities that reflect the values of a recreational, athletically motivated sports club, such that we are.

Additionally we want our modest donations to have as big an impact as possible, and at the same time we want to spread our impact around as widely as possible.

Taking all these things in to account, I think we have come up with a most deserving list of eight recipients.  They are as follows:

Right to Play

Doctors without Borders

Food Banks Canada

Canadian Red Cross

Stollery Children’s Hospital

Camp He Ho Ha

Nature Conservancy Canada

Environmental Law Centre

We don’t always receive thanks for our donations, nor do we expect to.  I hope that the knowledge that we are fortunate enough to feed our passion to train and race all while generating funds that ultimately help to make to world a better place is more than thanks enough.

Still, it is awfully nice when we do recieve a note or letter such as I recently recieved on Fiera Race Club’s behalf, from the Executive Director of Camp He Ho Ha.

“This act of kindness is written on the hearts of so many who benefit from your generosity”

Here is the letter in full.  I hope it motivates us all to keep training, racing, and giving.

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Race Report: Frank McNamara Series #3 – Millcreek 2013_04_24

By Caitlin Mader

Having succumbed to the pressure around the office to join the Fiera Race Team, yesterday I laced up my running shoes  (well, my converse sneakers, having skillfully forgotten my runners) and ran one of the Frank McNamara Wednesday night races.

I’m new to this whole running with groups of people in a semi-competitive setting where you can’t just stop for ice cream as soon as you get tired thing. So my goal was less along the lines of “go faster than other people” and more along the lines of “don’t find a way to somehow look like an idiot.” Arriving at the startline just as the buzzer sounded and wandering around aimlessly for a bit trying to find someone to tell me what to do, I was off to a good start. After locating the officials table and receiving my foot-chip-thing, I knew I had to make up some ground, so I did what any serious athlete would do, and I sat down and had a snack. With an encouraging “What are you doing? Get going!” from the officials, I was off!

Not used to the 5.4 km length of the race, I started to burn out at about to 12:43 mark (measured in seconds and nanoseconds) so I found another competitor with whom to match my pace. He looked about seven years old, so I thought this was reasonable. Unfortunately the little tyke ran with youthful zeal that can only be explained by a mother waiting at the finish line with candy and the new season of Law and Order on DVD, so I soon found myself falling behind.

Being a spring race, the hilly terrain of the ravine was still fairly icy and muddy, so I employed my failsafe method for going down icy hills quickly. I don’t want to give it away, but if I was the eighth dwarf, I would be “Flaily.” This seemed to work fairly well, in that I did not fall flat on my face, although in the process, I was passed by dwarves “Speedy” “Leapy” “Swifty” and “Mucleshirt”.

I made it to the finish line in 30:06 for a solid, middle-of-the-agegroup finish. In hindsight, if I’d known it was going to take that long I probably would have ran slower. A bike ride home and some hot yoga completed the Yuppie Triathlon, and I sought my reward in a delicious Chunky-Monkey muffin baked by none other than Renee Howard, the Fiera Race Team’s other new member. Overall, the experience was very satisfying. It appeared hard at first, but that was just an outer shell that gave way to a soft, perfectly baked interior, loaded with nuts and fruit, and I think some coconut.  That was the muffin. The race was alright.

MEC Classic 5K & 10K Run

You know that spring is just around the corner when our email inbox starts to fill with news about races.  Here is the latest from the folks at MEC:

Interested in running?  Eager to win some prizes? Join MEC Edmonton for our inaugural 5 and 10 K Classic Run.

Date:  April 15, 2012

Time: 9 a.m. for 10 K and 9:15 a.m. for the 5K folks (awards at 10:30 a.m.)

Start: Louise McKinley Park, 9999 Grierson Road (please make your way down to the River Valley Adventures Building. Note that parking is available, but costs 10$ for the day)

Cost: It’s $10 if you register in advance, or you can register on-site the morning of the race for $15.

For more information about the race, or to register on-line, go here.

5 Peaks Pre-Season Trail Running Race

If you’re like me and can’t wait for the Trail Running Race Season, then the 5 Peaks Pre-Season Trail Running Race scheduled for April 28th in Fort Saskatchewan is the event for you. Eleven km of fantastic river valley running, stuffed full of twisty-turny single-track trails; flat and fast. As if that’s not enough, to add even more adventure, this race is done at night! That’s right, race in the dark.  All this for the small entry fee of $40. Sign on now and you get a mass start and the option to run as many extra kilometres as you like.  Thats right, extra kilometres are unlimited if you register today.  But wait, that’s not all! There will be podiums, awards, and an after party! Thats  right, all this for a mere 40$!!!! But wait, that’s not all. Port-a-potties will be available at the start finish where you can enter to win the last drop of hand sanitizer!  Don’t be a fool; sign on, lace up, bust out. Don’t miss the 5 Peaks Pre Season Trail Running Race! Its In The Dark!!

Winter Meltdown

If you check out our race calendar, you will see that February has been pretty bare of race events. However, as winter melts down things are really shaping up in Alberta, into a season void of reasons not to race — take a look at March and April!

Newest addition to the Calendar is the Canmore Winter Meltdown – a winter triathlon and duathlon.

2012 Frank McNamara Cross Country Running Series

Registration is open for this grass-roots running series.  That’s right; Fiera Race Team is not just about cross country ski racing and bike racing.  Sure those are the things that get me fired up, but while i enjoy boasting about railing the trails on two wheels, some of our members enjoy ripping it up on no wheels at all.  The 2012 McNamara Cross Country Series has organized 5-ish km-long running races on Wednesday nights starting April 11, to May 9th.  Register for the whole series for only $26. Fiera Race Team members post their results here to generate money for charity.

The Perfect Runner

Mark your calendars for a super-cool event!!  On March 14, the Metro Cinema will be hosting an advanced screening of “The Perfect Runner”, a documentary that explores the unique running abilities of humans.  

The screening will include a question and answer session with the filmmaker, in which I will ask the question “If humans are the perfect runners, why do I suck so badly at running?”.

If you don’t live in Edmonton, or can’t make the advanced screening, you can watch the documentary on CBC television on March 15 at 8:00 PM.  Check out the website for more info about the documentary, and have a gander at the official trailer below.

What Has Happened to Stefan???

After so much racing, so much success last year, quite likely you have been wondering what the heck has happened to Stefan.  Well wonder no more.  The following update has just come in from Stefan, himself:

It’s been a while since I contributed to the Fiera Race Team blog but here I am again. I was dealing with a long lasting Achilles tendon injury which finally, after about 6 months, eases off. It was a truly depressing and very painful time. Running wasn’t possible at all, however, since about 6 weeks I am able to run again. It still does hurt every now and then but it feels like it is getting better. But on the other end I also had a very wonderful time when Sanja and I got married in Germany on July 16th.

The wedding was absolutely amazing and we even had some people from Edmonton there (Simmon Hofstetter, Andrea and Darren McGregor, Robin Braconnaire and her boyfriend Joe Baker). The rest of the time we spent cycling, eating and travelling. We also had a little one week honeymoon on the lovely island Dugi Otok in Croatia where we met up with Andrea and Darren again. We had some really fun times cooking fresh fish, scuba diving and cycling; and it actually was on this very island when I started running again.

At first it was only a couple hundred meters but after a few days I made it up to about 3km. My Achilles tendon didn’t hurt at all during this time and I thought it was finally over – but it wasn’t. Once we came back to Edmonton it started to hurt again and swelled up badly. I was totally desperate and decided I will just start running again – through the pain – because if I not start doing anything soon I can erase IM Cozumel from my calendar. “Hop or Top” became my motto. I know it’s crazy to do such a thing but what did I have to lose? My time was running out and the pain persisted for 6 months now even though I did things like “eccentric calf muscle strengthening”, stretching in general, massaging etc. but nothing seemed to work. The first runs were painful and I wasn’t sure whether it’s a good idea to just keep running, but, believe it or not, after about 10 days it got better. You might say now it could be a coincidence and the injury just healed up during the same time when you started running again but I don’t think so. Whenever I had a few days off running it would hurt more than during periods in which I ran more frequently. The really funny part of this story is, however, that when Sanja and I were in Serbia her uncle Boban (a marathoner himself) told me “Run 30k straight through and it will get better”. At that time I couldn’t even think of running because it was so painful and I told him “If I would run 30k straight I probably won’t be able to run at all anymore”. Apparently, he knew better.

So, that was a brief summary of what happened to me in the past months. Now what are the plans for the rest of the year?

After finishing IM Hawaii last year I told myself you have to come back here and try better. There is still so much room for improvement. As you may know from previous blog contributions I focus on one sport every year with the long term goal of becoming an overall good triathlete and making it into the top five in my age group in Hawaii as well as going sub 9 hours at some point along my Ironman “career”.

Last year was all about running and doing bricks, whereas this year is in the sign of swimming. In November 2010, I started swimming 3 to 4 times per week and moved up to about 7 km on some training sessions in early summer of this year. Honestly, I have no idea how much this will give me in terms of minutes but I am sure the swim will at least feel better.

I also had to stop cycling due to my injury when it was really bad. With the first races coming up I decided to just do them and see how the Achilles tendon will respond. To get into some sort of a shape I did a few of my “one hour all out workouts”. Of all the races I did this year, the Banff Bike Fest was by far the best!! This was the most amazing cycling race I ever did here in Canada. Beautiful and fast with a whole bunch of great people! I can only recommend it. If you have a road-racing license, then definitely do it next year!

For Cozumel I spend all my time on the trainer. I do 3 to 4 trainer workouts a week ranging from 60min during the week and up to 240min on the weekend. Even though these longer rides are at a relatively low intensity the do kick the fudge out of me and I am usually trashed for the rest of the day. Here’s a nice quote from world class Canadian triathlete Peter Reid: ”I get the same intensity out of a 90-minute workout on the trainer than I do from three or four hours on the road.” I totally agree and if time is the limiting factor for you give it a try! Especially during the long cold Canadian winter ;)

As for running the first half of the year was pretty devastating due to my Achilles tendon injury, as you already know. Now it’s great again and I am very happy. I am now in training week 6 (out of 14) and I am super pumped for Cozumel. My training results, particularly for running, are awesome! I can hardly believe it myself. The reason for that must be due to the fact that I was running lots last year and not only quantity but also quality. That means I spent most of the time doing speed and threshold workouts on the track. This year when I started running again I went back on the track and did a 2 by 20min threshold run to see where I was in terms of running. Amazingly enough this test resulted in an average pace of 3:48min/km for the first 20min and then a 4:10min/km for the second 20min. This totally blew me away and I couldn’t believe that without running for 6 months I am still able to pull that off. Sure, the second 20min were way slower and that must be due to lack of training but it showed that my running investment of last year wasn’t lost. Long story short, I believe that, if staying consistent for the next few years, I will be able to reach my goals.

Here is a little summary of my results and what still is going to come:

Place   Race                                       Category         Date
?            Ironman Cozumel             M30-34          11/27/2011 
DNS    Challenge Roth                    M30-34          06/10/2011                                        
45       Banff Bike Fest – RR            Cat 3               06/19/2011                                     
8          Banff Bike Fest – Crit          Cat 3               06/18/2011                                  
4          Banff Bike Fest – ITT            Cat 3               06/18/2011                  
8          Pigeon Lake Road                 Cat 3               05/29/2011                                 
12       Velocity Stage Race – Crit   Cat 3              05/15/2011                               
5          Velocity Stage Race – ITT   Cat 3             05/15/2011                            

That’s it for now! Stay tuned and talk to you after November 27th.


Race Report: Ottawa Race Weekend Half Marathon

Pete van Wesenbeeck sent in this account of last Sunday’s Half Marathon – part of the Ottawa Race Weekend.  In it, Pete is much too humble to point out that he kicked butt, squeaking in a top 50 overall (out of 9,333), and finished 6th in his age category (out of 680).  Full results here.

A muggy, overcast Ottawa valley day couldn’t stop over 9,000 committed souls from toeing the line in the 2011 version of the Ottawa Race Weekend half-marathon.  With a forecast high of 33, many were dreading a long, slow plod through unbearable heat.  Luckily, the inferno held off and late-morning rainshowers served as a welcome respite from the humidity; soggy sneakers notwithstanding.

Pete all smiles at around the 6 km mark

The new course promised to be a pleasant change from the well-worn journey up and down the canal that many a runner have endured over the years.  Heading west out of the concrete canyon of Ottawa’s downtown, the course meandered through Chinatown, Little Italy and Wellington Village before doubling back east along the Ottawa River Parkway.

Keeping its inter-provincial flavour of past years, the route nipped into la belle province for a couple of kms before heading back to Ontario across the rustic Alexandria Bridge.  Incredible fan support greeted runners as they tackled the remaining few kilometers along the canal, across, and back again to the finish chute.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of the new course was its accessibility for the citizens of Ottawa to come and catch the excitement.  And come out they did!  Pretty much from downtown and all through the neighborhoods, spectators could be found cheering and clapping, providing much-appreciated encouragement to competitors.  As I ran by one of my favourite breakfast diners along Preston, I even noticed the owner out front taking in the action.  My hastily called-out order for one of his gourmet brie omelets as I ran by was generously answered with an offer to stop by after the race for one on the house!

The route passed within a block or two of our house, so I had the added advantage of seeing my wife and kids, plus lots of friends, around the 5k mark for some rousing encouragement and a few high-fives.  As an added bonus, I could always sneak off the course if things weren’t going well and head back to bed for a mid-morning nap.

I heard Evan’s cowbell clanging away and saw John snapping pix just past the 6k mark, as I headed through the heart of Wellington Village.

The cheering squad

Seemingly haphazardly-placed kilometer markers made it tough to keep track of pacing, which would be my only complaint about the course/organization.  I’m no metronome, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t responsible for the near-minute difference in my pace between a few of the kms.  Anyway, I ran at what felt was a comfortable speed and tried not to get carried away by the great cheering along the way.  It was difficult to get a good idea of where in the throng of runners I was situated, but by the time I rounded the bend onto Wellington St., the crowd had thinned out a little and I could focus on trying to catch a few clumps in the distance.  I wasn’t concerned with placing really; my main motivation was to get to the massage tent in the recovery area before the line-ups got too long.

I was grateful for the amazing turnout of exuberant crowds in the downtown core, as I was starting the feel the toll of the previous 18 kms.  Buoyed by the raucous clapping and cheering, the final stretch passed by in a bit of a haze, and before long I had the finish-line arch in my sights.  A couple of failed attempts at a finishing kick nevertheless resulted in squeaking in just under 1:23.  Marathoners coming in around the 3:30-mark were streaming in and as I admired their effort, I couldn’t help but think how much I would have dreaded facing another kilometer, let alone 21.

All in all, the day was great fun and a positive enough experience to consider running another half in the fall…  We’ll see.

Race Reports: Ottawa Paris-Roubaix 2011 & Physio 5 km

Posted by: John

Dirt roads and rolling hills of the Ottawa Paris-Roubaix

This past Saturday was the Ottawa Bike Club’s Ottawa Paris Roubaix Cyclosportif. This year’s race featured a slightly shorter 80 km course (compared to last year’s 90-odd km) over the usual mixture of pavement, gravel, sand, and mud.  Given the cold temperatures, wind, and expected rain, I didn’t mind this in the least.

I have come to understand that this bike race is a little different than most.  The race is relatively hard, featuring constantly rolling terrain and some pretty rough roads.  Luck (or a lack there of) plays a huge role, as punctures, crashes and other unexpected hi-jinx can have a huge impact on the final result.  For example, last year some local pranksters played around with some signage along the course.  This resulted in a breakaway group of race leaders taking an unexpected side-trip a couple of kilometres down a rough gravel road, before hitting a dead end and realizing that something wasn’t quiet right… which understandably had a huge impact on the final rankings.

For me this year, luck would also play a big role.  I benefited several times from being in right place at the right time, which led to one of my better finishes in a bike race.

I started off willing to put in a higher effort initially than last weekend, willing to experiment a bit and see if  the hillier terrain and stronger winds wouldn’t result in a slower pace for the pack off the start.  I think the pace was maybe a bit slower, but it wasn’t long before a gap soon opened up and a group of 40 or so riders went off up the road.  While I wasn’t with them, I was well positioned near the front of the chase group.

As we hit the first really rough stretch of road about 20 km in, I was lucky enough to be second wheel (it was luck, not planning).  This meant I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone crashing in front of me.  I rode the 1 km trail comfortably, and came out the other end first.  As I turned up the road and glanced behind, I was surprised to see the group behind totally strung out and a large gap between me and the closest rider.

I eased up a bit and rode comfortably, knowing that there was no way I wanted to ride the next 60 km alone.  However, the group behind me never really came back together, and after a bit it I was joined by only two other riders… and lucky for me, both of them strong riders willing to help pace me along.

After another 20 km or so, we caught another group of 5 or so riders, and the bunch of us rode along until the next rough patch – a steep stretch of switch-backing lose sandy road.  After we reached the end of this stretch, there were only 4 of us left together.

At the top of the switch-back

Then some more luck hit.  We caught a stricken Ride with Rendall racer, and his teammate among our quartet (clearly the strongest among us) opted to sit-up and ride with him the rest of the way.  And not long after that we caught a Tall Tree Rider, and again we shed a rider as his teammate opted to slow-up and ride with him to the finish.  So it was just me, and a Cyclery Rider (Paul), whose wheel I had followed into the first wooded section.

The two of us worked together as the rain and ice pellets started to fall.  I knew that there was one last rough patch of trail about 1 or 2 kilometres before the finish and planned to make any attack I could muster there.  I glanced behind, and saw a group of 5 or 6 bikes closing in on us.

We hit the “sugar bush trail” just as the group caught us.  Paul said he was cooked, and I led the charge into the woods and the mountain-bikish trail that stretched for maybe 500 or 600 metres.  I heard bikes behind me, and pushed as hard as I could.  Then luck struck again and I heard a commotion behind me, and then nothing except my ragged breathing.

I popped out the other side onto a gravel road and a strong head wind.  I put my head down and peddled, stealing a look behind after a couple of minutes… I had a gap on 2 riders, but it was closing, and a decent gap on a longer string of riders that followed them.  I looked down at my Garmin – 17 km/hr??  That couldn’t be right!?!  The wind gusted and I almost went down.

My two chasers caught me with maybe 1 km to go, and I tried hard to jump on their wheel… but they were too fast.  Then one of them attacked hard, and jumped away clean, with the other hanging a tantilizingly close 10 m up the road from me.  We turned the final corner straight into the wind and the last uphill 150 metres or so and I knew I was done — 38th place and 2:40:58 (a big improvement from the 119th and 3:24:44 of a year ago).

Full results here.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Naomi and Simone braved the cold and windy weather to get their first race of 2011 out of the way by running in the Ottawa Physio Race, a race to “support local charitable organizations, physiotherapy research in Canada, and education initiatives for Ottawa area physiotherapists, while promoting physiotherapy in Ottawa and beyond”.

Naomi ran a strong 26:42; good enough for 24th overall among women and 4th in her category, while Simone wasn’t far behind at 27:57; good enough for 36th overall and 16th in her category… and combined the two were fast enough to win the coveted and uber competative “Fastest Physio Team” category.  The prizes? Two Headsweats visors and two copies of “When a Back Goes Out… Where Does it Go?”  Swwweeeeet.

Full results here.

Naomi all smiles at the start

SImone gets serious and the hat comes off...