Friday, 1 June 2012

#68: Drive My Car

2012 Cabot Trail Relay Review 
Part 1: Getting there is half the fun (okay, maybe a quarter of it)

I wasn’t really sure where I should begin this post (or what will soon be, this group of postings) which are meant to chronicle the incredible events of the days and week past, mainly the 2012 Cabot Trail Relay, but given the vast importance of disseminating this experience for all, I shall attempt to capture the amazing moments and memories that for me will certainly last a lifetime (and perhaps longer now in electronic version). This first of three postings will detail the events leading up to the race (the build), followed by a post on the events of the race itself (all 17 legs) and conclude with a posting on the post-race festivities and outcomes (the most glorious leg 18!).

So let’s go back and start at the ‘beginning’…

On 29 November 1986 in a small town in rural Ontario...
Following a rest/recovery week after the Goodlife Marathon, and with less than three weeks to Cabot, Captain Campbell had us do three key workouts at key times to get us back into form and fine-tune our already heightened fitness levels for a bit of speed. First, we did a track session of increasingly faster paces (M, HM, 10k, 5k) over decreasing distances (1600, 1200, 800 and 4x400m) to wake up our “slow” endurance minded legs. We followed that up with a longish (23k) hilly run which included some 60sec hill sprints, and finally a 20 x (30sec ‘ON’ + 30sec ‘OFF’) speed workout the Wed before Cabot. Other days were spent running relatively hilly courses through High Park and supplemented with plenty of mental training (visualization) and anticipation. Feeling near flawless after only 15 or so days following the marathon, I was ready for the next challenge, the next adventure, the next opportunity…

The journey began last Thursday (24 May) when I left my new home of less than a week (I am temporarily living at Casa Doyle Pellerin for the summer) and Doyle and I took a cab to the Toronto city airport to depart for Halifax (kudos to Fly Porter for being an awesome and super convenient airline). We arrived to a beautiful day and spent it visiting Michael’s family and friends in and around the Halifax area. The day concluded with a wonderful steak dinner (iron loading?) which was the best meal I had had in ages. Things were looking good so far…

On Friday, we didn’t need to be at the airport until 1 to meet up with the others so the morning was spent relaxing and chatting whilst generally getting excited for what was to come. We arrived just in time to see our fellow comrades and so it was that the Black Lungs (minus one Mr Smith) were all together in Nova Scotia and ready to take on the trail.

After a minor delay signing papers (too many illegal immigrants on our team (Davey, Hiddleston and the Belg)), we were able to secure the rental of two massively monstrous and matching SUVs (burgundy Ford Expeditions) which made us look more like a team of tornado chasers than road runners (perhaps overcompensating for our lean and slender (read skinny and gangly) running bodies). 
Darren must have been driving!
We loaded our things into the gas guzzling and earth expunging behemoths and then went for a quick lunch at the airport where we met a majority of the other, mostly Longboat, team (Cardio Arrest) who had also just arrived. A traitor amongst them provided us with a (laced?) batch of delicious oatmeal ‘monster’ cookies for our journey and so with our bellies full and our brains on high, we departed on the ~4hr journey to Cape Breton Island and our destination for the day: Baddeck, NS.

After a not so brief shopping stop in Truro for groceries… You’d think that a bunch of grown men would know how to navigate a grocery store and buy a few simple foodstuffs to sustain themselves for a day or two. Apparently not! Without their wives, they were about as useful as a Ski-doo in a swimming pool (I'm terrible at analogies) and we were even considering sending out an Amber Alert when Rob C didn't come back after almost an hour (and had only bought bananas)! 
Lost in Atlantic Superstore. Forget 'Where's Waldo'? Where the heck is Rob Campbell?
...a coordinated roadside pi(t)ss-stop, terrible techno music and some of the most beautiful scenic driving I have ever done, we arrived in Baddeck around 6pm and were all too happy to create some much needed distance between ourselves and the already increasingly foul smelling SUVs (the cookies perhaps?!).

We checked into our hotel, drew keys to determine sleeping arrangements (some would need to partner up for the evening) and then rather than to go for a run, Capt. Campbell took a much longer route than necessary to the liquor store where we stocked up on final necessities (not really needed until Sunday but with the LC closed on the holy day, we would need to buy in advance). We then hung around a bit and eventually made our way to a local pub where we were joined by our final teammate, Mr Guy Smith (who came all the way from Vancouver for this… sorta), making us the 11 disciples at the ‘last supper’ (most of us had the spaghetti).

The last item on the days agenda was a trip to the local Fire hall to size up fellow Cabot teams and have a final beverage while enjoying some traditional East Coast song and dance. A curfew was in place for us ‘Lungs’ so we called it a night relatively early and settled in to get some much needed rest.

Tomorrow would begin the busiest of days and we were yet to know what incredible adventure was to come…
Bring on the Cabot Trail...

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