Category Archives: Running

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...

Fiera’s Final Fling for 2010?

By Josh Krabbe

December 23 was the last race of mine for the 2010 season. I believe some folks are planning to race at a loppet on Jan 2, so hopefully this blog will get rolling again with news from aboard the skis shortly. In other news, the Christmas season is the season for a slightly different kind of racing. It’s not universally popular, but in some small circles it is deemed to be the highlight of the racing season. 15 people lined up this year for the fourth annual Nog Jog, and I believe for 14 of them it was the only racing they did in 2010. The thing about people who don’t race very often (i.e. once a year in late December) is that they don’t realize that to race well you’ve got to put in the training. I’ve been urging my competition to do some training but they didn’t do all that much, and so they were handily beaten for the second year in a row.

And so you ask “What is this Nog Jog?”

It’s a rather simple race, you down some nog and go for a jog. One final stipulation: Once you slurp the nog you can’t burp on the jog. The egg nog must be a full fat version of whatever your favorite grocery store has on sale during the Christmas Season and the volume must total 2 liters. We’ve historically been flexible on the brand so long as the calorie count for the carton rings in at more than 2000 calories, although 2500 is the norm. Light Nog is contrary to the holiday spirit and is echte verboden (dutch trans: really forbidden). After downing the nog, either directly from the carton or out of a bunch of glasses or cups (straws are not allowed) the jog begins. The length of the jog has historically been 730 meters although this year a slight change of location allowed us to run two laps in a more spectator friendly arena and yielded a total of 710 meters. Costumes were encouraged.

I don’t believe there is much mystery in how such a race plays out. Most people can’t do it, but fortunately it doesn’t stop them from trying. The footage was compiled and I’ve included it below, you’ve been forewarned before you click “play” I already told you that most people can’t do it. I’ll also warn you that even for those who can do it, they don’t like to spend the rest of the evening in agony with an aching belly and so decide to empty their stomachs following the race. I should have had the reporter shooting the post-race interview zoom out a bit to show off the Fiera logos I was sporting post-race, hopefully The Boss doesn’t fire me, I promise to do a better job next year.

My splits were as follows:

  • 2L Chug: 46 seconds.
  • First lap including a little wipeout on the ice: 1:19
  • Second lap: 1:20

This was a 17 second PR for myself on the duration of the chug and I also ran faster this year than last by approximately 10 seconds once the difference in distances is taken into account. I’ll attribute this success to my high volume run weeks throughout May and June, I think they really paid off this year.

I’ll be attempting a three-peat in defending my title next year, you’re welcome to come on out and test your mettle, the race has tentatively been scheduled for the 23rd of December at 6pm.

Intact Canadian Derby 10K

I figured I should contribute some sort of race report before the end of the summer, so here we go.  I raced the Intact Canadian Derby 10K last Saturday evening.  Overall, I had a solid performance (34:06, 7th overall).  My time was a new PR… but only by a grand total of 1 second.  Not exactly a breakthrough performance, but definitely better than expected.


First, a little background info.  My plan for this summer had been to build a good base for the fall cross country season with the Bears (I heard Joe has lots of base and that it has been working well for him ;) ).  Last year I went in burnt out from several months of hard triathlon racing in the summer.  I was not at all ready for the 8 additional  grueling weeks of training and racing.  With my tank was nearly dry by late October, I failed to make the CIS Championships in Kingston.  I wanted to give myself a better chance this year by taking the summer easy and focusing completely on running.  It is still a long shot, but as this will be my last year as a varsity athlete, I owe it to myself to give it one final go.

Note that this explanation also doubles as an excellent excuse to be lazy over the summer.

In any other year, I would have tallied up well over ten races by now.  As I stood on the startline this Saturday, I realized it was only my third race in all of 2010.  I competed in one triathlon (Spring Thaw) and one cycling road race (Pigeon Lake), and that was it!  My training in the months prior had consisted of just one focus: mileage.  I ran long and I ran easy.  No intervals.  No tempos.  The only speedwork I did was 400s on the track, and short strides to maintain good mechanics and efficiency at race pace.  But that was it.  I really had no idea what to expect going into a race during this part of my training cycle.

The horn sounded and we were off.  It was a new 5km out-and-back route from Northlands.  Pancake flat.  No wind.  Other than a bit of residual smoke form the B.C. forest fires, it was a perfect evening for racing.  A lead group of 6 or 7 current and former varsity athletes quickly established itself out of the gate.  I basically had no hope of hanging on to those guys, so I did what any respectable roadie would do.  I sat in with the chase group :D


Brian Torrance, Bears Alumnus and local running champ took to the head of our scraggly 5-runner chase pack.  In any other year, Brian would probably be a favorite to take the win.  Today, he looked a little more human.  Although not in great shape, Brian still paces like a metronome and I knew that if I could stick with him, I would have a good race.  So that’s exactly what I did.  For the first 5km, I tucked in right behind him and followed his every move.  We reeled in a couple guys who faded from the lead pack and motored along steadily at our own pace.  Unfortunately, we were slowly losing sight of the lead group and with that, any hope of bridging back up.

It has been a personal goal of mine to go 33:XX for a 10K.  Stefan once promised me one-months worth of pasta if I could achieve that time.  I came as close as 34:07, but that was it. Eight seconds of improbability.  Eight seconds of hunger.  As we hit the turn around point today, my watch read 16:53… on track to finish just under 34 minutes.  I had zero hopes of going sub-34 at the start of the race, but now halfway through, I felt maybe it was a possibility.  I was feeling strong and focused.  Last year I had crossed halfway at 16:40, but felt like I needed to walk.  This year, my pacing was much, much improved.

For the second half of the race, it was just Brian and myself.  The others in the chase group had fallen back.  Perhaps feeling a little too strong and a little too focused for my own good, I decided to push with 3km to go.  I gapped Brian by a few seconds for a span of few hundred meters.  For that brief amount of time, I really thought I was going to have a brilliant finish.  Not so.  The wily vet easily closed the gap.  I felt less strong, less focused, and started my eventual fade.

With 1km left, I was still on pace for a sub-34 performance.  Brian was about 5 seconds ahead, and all I needed to do was hang on.  Hang the F-on, Pat!  I had reached the point I reach in all my races when my face gets all contorted and my legs go all noodley.  Everything switches to slow motion and I want to give up.  I kick, but there is no kick.  Concentration goes out the window.  Etcetera, etcetera.  I watched the clock tick over 34 minutes as I approached to finish.  Not my day today, again.



Nevertheless, I was still happy with how things turned out.  I’m as fast as I was last year, without all the hard workouts.  The plan is still to peak in the fall, and I am confident I will be running faster than I’ve ever have by then.  But whether I can be a top runner on the Bears is another story altogether.

A big thanks again to Becky, Josh, Stefan, and Sanja for coming out and cheering me on.


Ottawa Race Weekend

Big weekend in Ottawa if you are a runner.  The annual Ottawa Race Weekend took place this past weekend, with a 10K, 5K and 2K race on Saturday, and a half and full marathon on Sunday.

Originally the National Capital Marathon, the first of which took place in 1975 and attracted 146 runners, the Ottawa Race Weekend has become one of the largest running events in Canada, with an estimated 28,000 participants this year.

The race saw all three of Fiera Ontario’s female racers out on the road, with Simone and Masa participating in the 10K and Naomi running the half marathon.  Full results here.

Meanwhile the male members cheered the women on… Evan set the standard for enthusiasm cheering for his mom, as the following video makes clear.  Pretty impressive that after 17km she can still outrun her husband (hey, common, I was carrying a 40 lbs kid in one hand and a video camera in the other).

A Weekend of Winning!

This past weekend, the Fiera Race Team was well represented at both the Velocity Stage Race in Edmonton, and at the Big Run in Calgary.

Stefan, Joe, and Jan all took in the Velocity Stage Race, which started out with a 10K time trial on Saturday morning, followed by a criterium Saturday afternoon, and concluded with a 90 km road race on Sunday. The competition in Cat 4 was fierce, with Stefan battling it out all weekend with Josh, who was racing for Hardcore. Heading into Stage 3 on Sunday, Josh was leading the General Classification, with Stefan close behind. In the end, Stefan managed to break away from the peloton in the last few kilometers, and managed to narrowly stay away to secure the Stage 3 win, and the critical time bonus, putting him over the top by only 3/100 sec 2.4 seconds!

Jan warming up, fearful of being mistaken for bull moose. Safety first.

While Josh rode for Hardcore, he showed that he is a true champion, and donated his winnings to the Fiera Race Team, along with Stefan, to generate an additional $180 for our charities this weekend.

Three hours south in Cowtown, Bridget, Dave, and Shari were running their faces off in the Theatre Calgary Big Run. Shari took in her first running race ever, and ran the 5 km along with all of the toddlers and the octogenarians. Because all of the fast people in her age category were racing in the 10 km and half marathon (thanks Bridget), Shari managed a 3rd place finish in her age category. Bridget rocked the 10 km, finishing 2nd over-all and 2nd in her age category, while Dave finished the half-marathon 2nd over-all and 1st in his age category, with a smoking fast time of 1:28:53.41. See the full results here .

Race Report: News From Germany, Half Marathon

This is edited and posted from an email that we received from Holger, who, just back from an extended visit to Germany (thanks to the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland), brings news of his representation of the Fiera Race Team in the Bonn Rhein Energie half marathon.

If you read German, you can navigate the race website to see full results here.

The following is more or less in Holger’s words, with some commentary and censorship, in the square [] brackets, from me.

“I am on 1355th place in that list [that is, he came in 1355th, but I would add that there were 3998 racers, which puts him in the top 60 percent].

Hmmm…race report, not much to say really, got horribly drunk (on a brutal German drink called ‘cold [female body part]”) the night before, couldn’t sleep at all and decided to get up at 6 to go to Bonn and see if there is still spots available for the half marathon (which I only had learned the day before was happening). Unluckily for me there was, so I had to participate. I felt quite well the first 13km and then slowly faded away, thanking the good lord above that I didn’t sign up for the full marathon. I finished with two amazingly big blisters under my feet because in addition to all smart decisions on that day I was wearing brand new shoes…oh and a black long sleeve shirt was the only thing I found in the morning, not smart in the heat either…(obviously those are all just excuses for my bad shape).

Attached a picture of me in shier agony just meters away form the finish line.”

Hoger in agony, running on blisters, sleepless, hungover, overdressed for the heat, but still ripping past these older folks (bennefit of the doubt given here).

Race Report – Calgary Police Half Marathon

Josh has an entertaining and detailed race report on his blog which is definitely worth reading. For your convenience however, I will provide a summary:

The weather was miserable, but Josh was tough and wore shorts anyway.
He went out too hard.
He had to battle physically and mentally to keep his effort up.
He had to adjust his expectations and goals mid-race.
He cramped up.
He chose to walk briefly on two occasions.

He placed 38th out of 1829 overall.

He placed 4th out of 113 men under 30.
He nearly puked on the woman who gave him his medal.

He raised $60 for a worthy cause.

Full results.

Calgary Police Half Marathon

So, I tried to find some info on the race that Josh is doing this weekend in Calgary, and it seems there isn’t a whole lot to know. It’s a half marathon (that’s a distance only the abrupt onset of the apocalypse could entice me to attempt) that was first put on something like 30 years ago by a couple of cops. It’s been going strong ever since. Josh will be representing Fiera Race Team, and generating money for the good of society as he does it. Josh does everything full-on (including the hiccups), and I’m sure he will put in an impressive effort and achieve a respectable result at the race. Good luck Josh, can’t wait for the report.