Monday, June 10, 2019

New adventures in Ottawa, ON, Canada

The past year has been quite eventful and I have not spend much time in here, however, here's an update.

Almost a year ago me and my partner-in-crime moved to Ottawa to start a new adventure after having lived in beautiful Oxford (UK) for the past +6 years. We both 
loved (and still do) Oxford and our friends there – and will always have a special place in our hearts!

As this is a blog mostly about running, so I’ll try to stick to that...

Moving to Canada from UK has meant a huge change weather-wise. Especially the winter: here in Ottawa they actually have a proper winter with snow and ice - somewhat different from our years in Oxford where I think we had snow maybe 5 times in total lasting from a few hours to a week at the most. (Don't get me wrong - it could for sure feel very cold outside in UK too!) This - a proper winter - I have been looking very much forward to experience: -35 deg. C, +2.5 metres of snow, skating to work and for fun, snow-storms, freezing rain, ice in the beard, etc. You know: a proper winter - Like when my Dad was a kid 😉

We knew from the start when we moved here, that winter was going to be much longer than what whatever “winter” we had in Oxford (and Denmark for that matter). And we were told we’d have to try and embrace it, otherwise we wouldn’t last one winter here. And just that we did: Embraced it! Used it! And made the best of it!

Instead of complaining about the weather and staying warm inside, we conquered the winter-months (snow from mid-November till somewhat mid-April) by venturing out into the snow and cold. We picked up skating, and I actually started skatting to work on the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway (world’s largest skating rink), which had almost 1.5 million visitors this season. A great experience to actually be able to skate to work, which would not be possible if the winter wasn’t as cold as it is here. Where else can you do that?

Before the skateway opened for the season (or if it was closed due to poor ice conditions) I cycled to work. At the time I had approx. 4km on the shortest path to work (which I only took once, because I was in a hurry). Instead I have been taking the scenic, longer (8km) route to work, which for most of the time would be along the Ottawa River on a walking/cycling path only partly maintained for winter: in some places it was cleared completely and in others not so much! However, it was great fun to plow through the piles of snow, especially on those sub -25 deg. C crispy-air-mornings when nobody had been on the path yet. It sometimes could be tough work to get through the masses, but what the heck: it was great fun 😊

Spiky tires

To be able to conquer the elements on my mountain bike, I invested in spiky tires: +400 spikes on each tire. And they sure came in handy in the those icy conditions – they worked like a charm – even on the world’s largest icerink they were awesome! I found out later that you aren't supposed to be riding your bike on the frozen canal due to many being injured in previous years (those fools: who would ever think of cycling on ice?!😅). However, if the cycle paths were so full of snow that you could literally “park” you bike in the snow and it would still be standing up-right and the roads being nothing but death-traps for cyclists because many cars (drivers) don’t give a flying s**t about your well-being, I’d rather put my faith in those slightly expensive, yet amazing studded tires and take my chances on the frozen canal. And the tires worked beautifully on the ice indeed!

Okay, okay - I said I’d try to stick to running… 

For running in the winter, I found that with temparetures around -30 deg. C and snowy/icy conditions, running is still great fun: You just need to layer up, put your mind to it and get out there. Imagine those crispy -35 deg. C mornings with no wind, icy crystal on every surphase glittering in the sun and you can feel the dry air so fresh in your lungs, and ice-crystals starting to form on every surface of your exposed face: your beard starts growing icicles and your eyelashes and brows start producing fine-structured crystals of their own, and before you know it, you look like King Frost/The Ice Queen. There is no such thing as bad weather for running – only bad excuses. Layer up and get out there…

Layers for -35 deg. C: 
1 x inner no-sleeve top
3 x relatively thick long-sleeved tops
1 x wind proof jacket
2 x buff around neck
1 x hat + 1 x buff (double layered) on head 
1 x short tights on legs
1 x long winter tights on legs
1 x outer wind proof layer on legs
1 x pairs of socks
2 x pairs of gloves
That's about it... 😉
+ shoes of course.

Ottawa Marathon 2019
My training during the winter months was a necessity as I signed up for the Ottawa Marathon (26th May 2019). I know that you can run on a treadmill indoors being warm and comfy, but that’s just not my kind of thing. Anyways, the Ottawa Marathon was quite small compared to the ones I have run previously: Copenhagen Marathon in 2014 (1st Marathon) had approx. 10.000 runners; London Marathon in 2017 had approx. 40.000 runners and approx. 800.000 spectators. Ottawa Marathon had about 3500 and sparsely scattered (yet still enthusiastic) spectator-crowds. However, it was a well organized and structured event with lots of amazing volunteers, who had worked hard to make it a great event. It may be a relatively small event compared to my two previous Marathons, but it’s still one of Canadas largest Marathons. I totally enjoyed it and it provide me with a PB-improvement of over 15 minutes. I ended up with completing it in 3h31m12s. I’ll definitely be back for next years event 😊. And another plus-side to the Ottawa Marathon: I only have a 5 minute walk from home to the start/finish-line 😉.

My next race/running-event will be a 6-hour-loop-run on a 1.8km track on the outskirts of Gatineau Park in the end of July 2019. More on that to follow...

A few days back, I did my first trail-run of the year in Gatineau Park. Weather was perfect for it. Last year I created a trail of somewhat 21.1km (half-marathon) with a +600 metres elevation gain which I named #DragonTrail. It's relatively close to the city, and there's only 10km bike-ride to get there. So a bit of cross training as a bonus. Anyways, it was so beautiful and amazing out there. This is why I love trail running so much... See the photos below!

See ya all out there...
Best M.

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