Beyond the PB…

Athletes are tremendously invested in sport and the entire community that is built around it.  We have had highs and lows with our sporting friends and thrived on the adrenaline of achievement. We checked off Personal Bests (PBs) with a big smile.

Eventually though the time for PBs ends, we stretch it for a while with new PBs based on age group, or particular race, or distance, or while wearing a hat or not :-), whatever we can do to find that high of accomplishment.

Many athletes have had to come to terms with the physical losses of age or disability. For me it happened very early so I have had a long time to ponder it.  At 25, fresh out of Graduate School with a Master’s in Physical Education and a professional coaching job, I woke up one morning to legs the shape of stove pipes and burning up with fever. After weeks in hospital I was diagnosed with acute Psoriatic Arthritis.  The prognosis was grime, I would never run again and would likely only work another 10 years is what I was told. Long story short, with some amazing healthcare and very supportive family I was able to continue an active life, albeit, with many limitations, and I worked until a normal retirement.  Along the way, heart disease, diabetes, esophagus issues, joint replacement, fusions etc. all stole a bit more functionality and eventually some complications of my Arthritis medications woke up latent Primary Progress Multiple Sclerosis, stealing a little more. But I have been fortunate and great care has kept me moving, so what!?

There is life beyond the PBs.  There is the shear joy of movement. As I’m writing this I am overlooking the circular driveway of my apartment building and all the motivation I ever need is right there.  Every day I see people doing their laps. Some are using walkers or canes, some are in small groups, others alone, some even in their 90s but every single one looks happy.  There is often laughter, the occasional stop to chat with someone learning out their balcony. They have a collective wisdom that is critical for athletes to learn.

Truth be told, it is very hard to deal with the loss of function. I find myself wanting to explain why I’m so slow when I show up at a race or running group.  I find myself wanting to explain why I need help getting something off the higher shelf at a store. I want to explain why I have to have poles if I hike or try a bit of trail running. Why, why, why does that explanation need to happen? I think it is because as athletes we have so much of ourselves locked up in our bodies and being our “best” that we need to have an explanation why we are not our “best” like we were before. But let’s look beyond the PBs.

Beyond the PBs there is still life, beyond physical activity even there is still life. It is critical that we never forget that and that we work hard to foster other things in our lives. We need to have broad horizons and interests if we are to cope with the changes of age or disability. That is not giving up, that is being wise. Keep moving with all your heart and soul, like the great lap walkers outside my window, but also develop interests that will fill the rest of the day.

Recently I had a chat with an elite athlete who was contemplating this very thing, beyond the PBs. His body was giving signs and his Doctor confirmed that the world of PBs was coming to an end and it was time to deal with that. His response impressed me so much, he was taking one last kick at the can and then backing off so he would be able to keep the joyful part of running beyond the pursuit of PBs.

Beyond the PBs is where some new adventures begin. I have become a baker and love the whole process of creating bread that not only is great food, but that can be a feast for the senses with the smells, textures, shaping and all that fun stuff. I think I have a greater appreciation for physical activity than ever and I take great joy in my own humble movement and in supporting athletes in reaching their PBs.  This essay is not an indictment of PBs, quite the contrary.  Personal Bests are how we learn about ourselves and how we appreciate the limits we discover, and how we ponder those limits for cracks we can take advantage of for one more PB.  When the time comes to not pursue PBs it is not giving up, it is transitioning. Moving to a new level of understanding ourselves, our bodies, our mortality and the world around us. Beyond the PB there is a new story to be written. So enjoy the PBs but don’t be saddened when they fade, enjoy the metamorphosis and begin the next stage.

On the Run (As published in the Telegraph Journal September 15, 2021)

Jos Eijkelestam (Race Director) and Shelley Doucet, race winner

After a very exciting weekend of races in Fredericton last week, things slowed just enough this week to give us some time to catch up. Let’s start with the September Run for Renee where Evan Arsenault of Quispamsis (16:12) led the way for Dean Strowbridge of Willow Grove (16:59) and Jeff Queen of Saint John (17:27) in the men’s race.  The women’s race was an all-Saint John affair with Felicia Mortimer in top spot in 20:32 followed by Lauren Dysart (21:43) and Lisa Rocca (21:59).  At the September Demi-Marathon de l’Acadie the women saw Nathalie Brown of Robertville on top of the podium in 1:37:08 followed by Nathalie Theriault-Roy of Beresford (1:47:59) and Silvia Antuna of Tracadie (1:58:47). The men’s event went to Jonathan Legault of Dieppe in 1:27:15 ahead of Remi Frenette of Beresford (1:32:43) and Mark Brown of Robertville (1:38:59). The virtual event for women was won by Nathalie Boivin of Bathurst in 1:44:48 while that was also the time for the top man, Maurice Vienneau of Halifax.  In Caraquet the trail runners were busy with some long stuff.  In the 50-km Sebastian Poirier of Tracadie was the top man in 5:10:21 while Carole Fournier of Edmundston led the women in 6:16:14. In the 25-km event for women Ginette Noel Theriault of McLeods was in top spot in 3:07:14 and Pier-Luc Roy of Dieppe was top male in 2:03:57. The 10-km event saw Remi Poitras on Moncton lead the way in 43:30 for the men while Sylvie Leblanc of Bathurst led the women in 52:37.  That catches us up, now on to this week. 

In Tracadie the 10-km had some amazing times as Mohamed Aagab of St.-Leonard delivered a smokin’ 31:40 ahead of Lee Roy of Bathurst (34:32) and Paul Gallant of Dieppe (35:53) both very quick as well. Sylvie Gallant of Dieppe was on top of the women’s podium in 46:54 followed by Louise Thibodeau of Beresford in 48:31 and France Comeau of Tracadie in 51:16. The 5-km for women went to Amy Caissie of Six Roads in 23:01 and for men to Ivy Austin of Moncton in 22:42.

With the growth of trail running in New Brunswick, trail runners are always looking for a new twist and the Wonderfully Wicked Woolastook Whopping is happy to oblige.  This event involves 12 hours at the beautiful Woolastook Park.  Each hour when the horn blew, runners set off on a 6-kilometer route through the woods.  When they finished a lap, they could rest, refuel, and get ready to run again at the sound of the horn. As long as you responded to the first 11 horns and finished each lap you were still in the race, no matter your time.  However, in lap number 12 the gloves are off, and the race is on.  Those who survived to this point (14 of 99 in this case) had a fast and furious 6-km race and to no one’s surprise the amazing Shelley Doucet led the way in 28:02 followed by Michel Leblanc in 33:16 and Donald Evans in 34:33. 

This week our Person on the Run goes to Jos Eijkelestam for hosting the Woolastook Whooping and for all the great things he has done to develop Trail Running in New Brunswick, a true leader.  Great work Jos.

Gotta run

Daryl Steeves

Weekly Running Columnist

daryl_steeves@hotmail.com

www.ontheruncoaching.ca

On the Run (as published in the Telegraph Journal Sept 8, 2021)

On the Run, Sept 6, 2021

Bruce McFarlane congratulates Myles Doucet on his great 5-km at the Fredericton Marathon

Well, it has been a long time since I could say this, we have too many results for just one column this week.  It is great to see so many races back in action.  We will save the Run for Renee and the Demi-marathon de l’Acadie monthly races to report on next week, but for now let’s jump into the Fredericton Marathon weekend. 

It all started Friday night with the 5-km, and the women’s race was an all-hometown girls podium with Julia Reid leading the way in 19:19 followed by Donna Trites in 21:22 and Jensen Thomas in 21:43.  The men on the other hand were all “from away” as Vinton Gaskin of Oshawa took top spot in 18:49 followed by Emmett Knee of Saint John (20:10) and Thomas Holder of Bedford (20:19).  This set the tone for Saturday’s men’s 10-km event where a long-standing race record was smashed by Alex Cyr of Wellington PEI in a very fast 31:27 beating the 2007 record by over a minute and a half, second place went to Dieppe’s Paul Gallant in 36:09 and third to Dean Strowbridge of Willow Grove in 36:19.  The women were led by Lindsay Laltoo of Moncton in 41:38 ahead of Samantha Norris of Fredericton (44:44) and Samantha McMullin of Tusket (44:55).  In a unique twist, there were 2 distinct half marathon races. In the same way the Olympics had their 2020 events in 2021 the 2020 version of the half marathon was held on Saturday in 2021. The women’s event went to Sarah Beairsto of Fredericton in 1:23:51 followed by Rayleen Hill of Dartmouth in 1:24:11 and Paula Keating of Miramichi in 1:24:59. It is interesting to note that 6 of the top ten runners overall were women.  In the men’s event David Holder of Bedford led the way in 1:20:44 while second went to Jack MacDonald of Antigonish (1:24:53) and third to Danny Jardin of Moncton (1:25:14). The 2021 version of the half marathon went on Sunday and another race record was set by Colleen Wilson of Ancaster ON at 1:16:49 surpassing the 2012 record of 1:19:29. Second place went to Maura Wierczorek of Halifax (1:25:11) and third to Stephanie Seaward of Dartmouth (1:28:43). The men’s event went to Kieran McDonald of Halifax in 1:06:25 in a dead heat with Alex Neuffer of Stratford also 1:06:25 while third went to Mohamed Aagab of St. Leonard in 1:07:28.  Like they say on those late night TV commercials, wait, there’s more.  Another record fell in the full marathon as Stanley Chaisson of Charlottetown shaved 22 seconds off the 2019 record to finish in 2:29:29. Second place went to Dennis Mbelenzi of Halifax in 2:29:44 and third to Jonathan Walker of Halifax in 2:34:42. The top NB Male was Colin McQuade of Riverview in 2:44:31.  In the women’s race it was Kalli Van Vulpen of Amherst leading the way in 2:57:30 in a dead heat with Meaghan Strum of Halifax in 2:57:30 and followed by Kamilla Pinter of Fredericton in 3:06:25.

This week our Person on the Run goes to Bruce McFarlane, Co-Director of the Fredericton Marathon and his entire team for pulling off this epic event at a time we needed it most.  Thank you all.

Gotta run

Daryl Steeves

Weekly Running Columnist

daryl_steeves@hotmail.com

www.ontheruncoaching.ca

On the Run (As published in the Telegraph Journal, Sept 1, 2021)

Fall is starting to send signals that it is not far off, and the race calendar is looking a little more active so runners around the province have a smile on their face. Although the Fredericton Marathon is traditionally a spring event, this year it has moved to this coming weekend and the excitement is contagious. It will be a fun filled weekend of running with over 1300 runners already registered for events from Friday to Sunday and 5-km to the full marathon.  To learn more and to register go to  https://raceroster.com/events/2021/37939/43rd-annual-stewart-mckelvey-fredericton-marathon-race-weekend

Also, this weekend is the September running of the Run for Renee in Quispamsis.  This is always a fun and fast event for a good cause.  Check it out at https://events.runnb.ca/event/september-run-for-renee-5k/471218/

If you want something a little longer the Demi Marathon de l’Acadie is also this weekend for the 407th time.  Every single runner in New Brunswick should do this at least once, is this your time?  Learn more and register at https://events.runnb.ca/event/407e-demi-marathon-de-lacadie-en-personne/469611/

The trail runners are also busy this weekend in Caraquet with a variety of races from 5-km to 50-km to choose from so if you love the trails, register today at https://events.runnb.ca/event/course-caraquet-trail-running/470698/  Why not make a weekend of it and take your bike for a ride on the beautiful Veloroute?

Last weekend it was all about the triathletes, specifically the women triathletes as over 100 of them rolled into Hampton for the Hampton Ladies Triathlon.  It was another excellent event with rave reviews by the participants.  In the main event, the Sprint Triathlon, it was a well-known runner who showed she had the swim and ride in her to take top spot as Erin Vringer of Saint John finished in 1:09:45 ahead of Erica McAdam of Saint John (1:13:32) and Andrea Hathaway of Moncton (1:14:03).  The duathlon went to Noella Boleyn of Moncton in 1:22:37 followed by Carol Lavalley of Eel River Crossing in 1:31:54 and Carrie Tanasichuk of Saint John in 1:35:34. Two up and coming athletes from Moncton competed in the Junior category with Sophia Banfield taking top spot in 46:15 just ahead of Olivia Ouellette in 50:30. Congratulations to all the finishers, it is always an inspiring race.

All around the province athletes were also doing DIY events to make up for cancelations of the big Ironman races.  In Saint John the Tin Man was a somewhat tongue in cheek alternative to Ironman but it had some great athletes out for a long swim, bike, run.  Hampton also hosted an alternative event for frustrated Ironman competitors unable to go to BC to race. No times were recorded but great times were had by all.

We had another huge Fastest Known Time this week (FKT) as running legend Shelley Doucet took on the Fundy Circuit and did it faster than any known human being ever.  This 48-km run includes some of Fundy Parks toughest trails with 1400 meters of elevation. She completed it in 4 hours 37 mins and 41 secs, faster than any man or woman ever has, and that makes her our Person on the Run.

Gotta run

Daryl Steeves

Weekly Running Columnist

daryl_steeves@hotmail.com

www.ontheruncoaching.ca

On the Run (as published in the Telegraph Journal Aug 25, 2021)

Sylvio Bourque, taken too soon

Covid continues to mess with our endurance sport community, but it has not kept things from happening altogether.  Unfortunately, this year’s Hampton 5-Miler has had to make the tough decision to postpone until next September, disappointing but certainly understandable as race directors continue to strive to keep us safe. Every event has a different set of circumstances and need to make decisions based on those circumstances, this means some events can operate, some go virtual and some need to skip this season, it is important to support all the decisions and remember these volunteers are the only reason we ever get to race.

The triathletes are the focus this week as they work to fit in an abbreviated season. This past weekend the Sackville Triathlon had a great turnout and another very successful event.  In the Sprint Triathlon for men, Lee Roy of Bathurst picked up where he left off before Covid restrictions with a convincing win in 1:00:35 followed by Oromocto’s Martin Larose in 1:02:40 and Vincent Legere of Dieppe in 1:03:47. The women’s race went to Tara Ross of Moncton in 1:07:39 good enough for 8th overall. Second place went to Anna Robinson of Antigonish in 1:11:12 and third to Maggie Graves of Kentville in 1:12:03. It was great to see a wide range of participation from under 19 to over 70 years old. In the duathlon for women it was Sylvie Gallant of Dieppe leading the way in 1:18:09 followed by Sara Ripley of Halifax (1:22:29) and Janik Bourque of Dieppe (1:33:30).  The men’s race went to hometown boy Kip Jackson in 1:03:47 ahead of Rob Binns of Stratford (1:04:20) and AJ Case of Halifax (1:10:30). The relay went to the Family Tri’s (Jesse Knight, Brian Kane, Brian Knight) in 1:21:54.

This week the triathletes are at it again but with a focus on the women.  The Hampton Ladies Triathlon is a very popular event and one of the largest triathlons in Atlantic Canada. This is a pool swim triathlon so a perfect choice for those new to the sport.  The event is known for it’s supportive atmosphere and camaraderie among participants.  To learn more and to register go to https://ccnbikes.com/#!/events/hampton-ladies-triathlon-2021?fbclid=IwAR1gqRLlZsQZL6QCd9e40rXnDoh5DvXvDoSzlxpFEOlOtkqXbIpr5hbv5TY

Looking ahead, the biggest event of the season is just on the horizon, the Fredericton Marathon on the Labour Day weekend. This year it is a weekend long celebration of running with everything from the 5-km to the full marathon.  Even though some events are full there are still opportunities to participate, check it out https://raceroster.com/events/2021/37939/43rd-annual-stewart-mckelvey-fredericton-marathon-race-weekend

This past week the running community said a sudden goodbye to a true legend. Sylvio Bourque was larger than life and was loved by all who knew him. In addition to his personal running accomplishments, including the Boston Marathon, he was a race director, coach, volunteer, and ambassador for the sport.  He was also a world class arm wrestler with many championships to his name. Not for the first time, but sadly for the last, Sylvio is our Person on the Run, rest in peace Sylvio.

Gotta run

Daryl Steeves

Weekly Running Columnist

daryl_steeves@hotmail.com

www.ontheruncoaching.ca

On the Run (as published in the Telegraph Journal August 18, 2021)

Tim McDonough, our Person on the Run

We all know Covid is not going away but the small reprieve that is allowing some races to happen has been very well received by athletes around the Province and even beyond.

This past weekend the Run for Renee had a great turn out in Quispamsis and the times were very speedy.  The women’s event went to distance running legend Paula Keating showing her speed this season with a fast 18:27 to lead the way (and 3rd overall), followed by Felicia Mortimer in 21:14 just ahead of Sue Teakles in 21:45.  The men also had some sparks flying under foot as Dean Strowbridge ran a scorcher in 17:13 being chased by speedsters Nikolay Ryabkov (18:09) and Todd Power (18:58). Amazing results on a hot humid day.

That same day in Miramichi it was once again all about speed with the Miramichi River Runners August Mile. It could be part of the movie franchise the Fast and Furious as Timmy Basque of Shippagan laid down some rubber with a smoking 4:52 timing ahead of a shoot out for second as hometown boys Tristen Eisnor (5:23) and Noah McKinnon (5:30) lit up the finish line. Not to be outdone, the women were led by Madalyn McKinnon of Miramichi in 5:43 followed by Erin Kingston of Miramichi in 6:10 and Kari Parsons of Saint John in 6:11, now that’s a tight finish.

From fast to far. This past weekend some New Brunswick Ultra runners headed to Quebec to take on the QC Mega Trail races.  This is an iconic event with features such as the Massif de Charlevoix and Mont-Sainte-Anne and the vastness of the boreal forest of Quebec.  This was no rag tag group; they were playing for keeps and the results are very impressive.  Let’s start with the big one, the QMT 100-Miler.  Of the 92 entries, roughly half made it through the challenging course, and of those our own Tim McDonough of Riverview was 5th overall with an incredible time of 26:11:20, that is a 9:55/km pace for over a full day in very tough conditions.  Shout out as well to Fredericton’s Drew Wallace who completed 91-km before calling it a day, athletes that fly this close to the sun occasionally get singed but he will be back. In the QMT 110-km event a trios of New Brunswick runners made a mark starting with two Rothesay runners Marc Gallant in 22nd place in 20:42:05 and Michael Ferguson in 23rd place in 20:42:16. Just slight behind in 21:02:41 was New Maryland’s Dawson Mossman for 26th position. Interesting note, the overall winner of that race was non other than Olympic Marathoner Reid Coolsaet in 14:24:16. Our boys were playing in the big leagues and did us proud.

Next up, the triathletes are busy again this time in Sackville. It looks like a big contingent of athletes will attend; it should be a great race on Saturday.

This week our Person on the Run goes to Tim McDonough of Riverview.  He continues to amaze us with his Ultra running but 100-miler in 26:11:20 in hot humid weather on a tough course after Covid is rock star land. Congratulations Tim.

Gotta run

Daryl Steeves

On the Run Aug 11, 2021 (as published in the Telegraph Journal)

Things are almost starting to look like normal, well the new normal at least, as races come to life around the Province. Let’s start with the runners, and the classic 1-mile run. The Miramichi River Runners Raymond Caissie Mile was held both in person and virtually this past weekend and clearly athletes were feeling the need for speed.  In the live version for men it was Kip Jackson of Sackville leading the way with a 5:04 clocking just ahead of Timmy Basque of Shippagan (5:08) and Stephane Boudreau of Caraquet (5:40).  The women were equally impressive taking third and fourth spots overall.  Top three women were all hometown athletes, Meghan Duffy in 5:32 nosing out Paula Keating in 5:35 and followed up by Erin Kingston in 6:19 for third place. The man himself, Raymond Caissie showed he still has some rocket power in his seventies with a very quick 6:16 finish for 8th place overall, no wonder they named the race after him. In the virtual mile it was Tristen Eisnor of Miramichi with the fastest men’s time in 5:32 while also from the Miramichi, Madalyn McKinnon took the women’s crown in 5:42.

This weekend it is still a focus on speed as the Miramichi Mile (yes another go at the mile distance) and the Run for Renee 5-km take centre stage. You can learn more details and register at https://events.runnb.ca/calendar/

The last 2 years have been very lean for the triathletes with only the Hampton Ladies Triathlon going last season.  They were raring to go, and the brand-new Cambridge-Narrows Triathlon gave them exactly what they wanted.  Race Director Jim Currie and his team put together an excellent race.  It was a sprint distance event, with a slightly long ride of 22-km rather than the standard 20-km.  The women were led by a very fast Eryn Weldon in 1:22:40 followed by Mari-line Beauregard in 1:27:47 and Sarah Currie in 1:28:09. For the men it was Sebastien Girouard in 1:09:30 ahead of Martin Larose in 1:10:58 and Vincent Legere in 1:12:19. This great new event was clearly a community effort and the results showed it with every detail covered. 

New Brunswick triathletes were also making their mark at the Tri Lobster events in Summerside. At the Standard Distance event Rheal Jaillet of Dieppe was top New Brunswicker in 4th place with a 2:12:30 for the men.  For the women, the top New Brunswick finisher was Sue Watson of Rothesay for 2nd place in 2:53:55. In the Aquabike it was Mackenzie Sharkey (5th) and Mike Lee (4th) both of Fredericton as top NB athletes.

This week our Person on the Run is shared by two Prostate Cancer survivors. Jim Currie has a long-time connection to the sport of Triathlon in New Brunswick as an athlete and administrator and this week was the Race Director of the Cambridge-Narrows Triathlon, in which Garth Millar participated just 6 months after his surgery.  Both men have shown they are not just great athletes but tough fighters against cancer.  Great role models with extremely positive attitudes.

Gotta run

Daryl Steeves

Weekly Running Columnist

daryl_steeves@hotmail.com

www.ontheruncoaching.ca

On the Run Aug 4 (as published in the Telegraph Journal)

Across the Province athletes have fingers crossed that the newly announced Green phase holds as live races begin to unfold.  Let’s catch up on some of the live action already underway this season.

The Mountain Bikers are having a great season as trail development is exploding around the province.  This is not only great for the bikers, but in many cases it creates opportunities for the trail runners, hikers and in winter the skiers and snowshoers.  On July 24 Caraquet was the hot spot for riding and we saw a tight race in the men’s elite as Terry Tomlin led the way in 1:29:02 just ahead of Cody Cooper (1:30:16) and Jeff Currie (1:32:49).  The Elite Female went to Laurence Arseneau in 1:23:31 just nosing out Anna Healy finishing in 1:23:56. The Expert B Male winner was Joel Jean in 1:16:59 while the Expert B female winner was Margot Belanger in 55:02. The Sport Class went to Mario Albert for males in 57:51 and Mayumi Takatsuka for females in 48:59.   Alex Hache (55:32) and Eve Michaud (31:43) were the Under 17 winners.  Congratulations to all, later in the season Caraquet will host a trail running event.

The Demi-marathon de l’Acadie celebrated the New Brunswick Day weekend with its’ 406th edition.  The women were led by Suzanne Myers of Moncton in 1:32:45 followed my Amelie Cormier of Caraquet (1:38:20) and Corinne Fournier of Halifax (1:42:34).  For the men it was Fredericton’s Nikolay Ryabkov on top of the podium in 1:21:26 with a pair of Dieppe runners taking the next two spots, Michel Leblanc (1:25:02) and Jonathan Legault (1:29:15). The virtual event went to Serge Allain from Grande-Digue for the men in 1:34:05 and Nathalie Boivin of Bathurst for the women in 1:43:19.

Virtual runs are still available and may be here for good as they provide opportunities to participate with the need to travel, and during Covid times, to avoid any risk of infection.  Currently underway all week is the Defi 5 et 10-km de Lameque (registration is closed for that one) and coming this weekend you can participate in the Raymond Caisse Miramichi Mile virtually or in person.  This race is sure to be fast and furious so if you have been inspired watching the Olympics why not sign up and give it a go at https://events.runnb.ca/event/raymond-caissie-miramichi-mile/470939/

The Triathletes have their first official race of the season, and it is a brand new race. Although the race is new the Race Director Jim Currie was one of the early athletes and developers of the sport in New Brunswick and he is back for more.  This is a beautiful location for a triathlon, learn more and register at https://www.trinb.ca/event/cambridge-narrows-2021/

This week our Person on the Run goes to Bruce Guitard of Dalhousie.  Despite severe arthritis Bruce is an accomplished Ultra Runner, a cyclist, and an exceptional coach.  What we are highlighting this week however is his ability to pass on his passion for activity to others, especially his kids. Ultra athlete, ultra coach and ultra Dad. 

Gotta run

Daryl Steeves

Weekly Running Columnist

daryl_steeves@hotmail.com

www.ontheruncoaching.ca