How does one follow-up a sub-2 hour finish in their first half-marathon?
Most people would go home, crack open a beer, and chill out. Let the body recover while you revel in your well-earned sense of accomplishment.
I did two of those three. Chill out and recovery would have to wait for the evening. I had another medal to collect:
the Queen’s Diamond Jublilee Medal
I have to admit I was rather stunned to hear that my old boss, the Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate, had nominated me for the medal. Until I started writing this blog, I wasn’t exactly boastful of my own accomplishments in large part because they were in the service of someone else. In fact, I started writing this blog not to promote what I was doing but to give myself a weekly dose of humility.
Well, that and I have some family members on Facebook that notorious gossip hounds and wanted to prevent the inevitable phone calls to my parents wondering if I had “caught the diabetes”. One of the things I’ve learned in politics over the years is to get ahead of the story and set the narrative, even if it is a good news one. Especially if it is a good news one.
In addition to my twelve years of parliamentary service with the Speaker, I’ve done a lot of pro-bono work for some struggling non-profits who have been languishing and need revitalizing. A lot of these have been Catholic charities, the leadership of these has been getting older (like collecting pensions older) and a certain amount of lethargy has set in. While I could charge for these services, a dollar collected is a dollar not going to their programmes which would be counterproductive to my aims with these groups. I’ve also acted as an unofficial advisor to a few non-Catholic organizations over the years. They know who they are.
The Speaker also wanted to recognize my new-found passion for physical fitness. He was also particularly moved by the fact that I took the story public with this blog and, later, the Running Room magazine article.
So after I emerged from the recovery area and waded through the throngs of people in Confederation Park , Kalin and I rushed back to the apartment. By the time we got back, I was pretty spent. Since the race grounds were pure crowds and chaos, I held off on doing some post-run stretches until we got back. Someone got a little snap happy with the camera.
I was really thankful to be bumped into the first wave. The medal ceremony was to be held in the Senate Chamber at 1:30 pm, little more than two hours after finishing the race. The early start gave us a little breathing room. Frankly, I’m not sure if I would have made it on time otherwise. It even gave me the chance to have a quick beer afterward. I had a can of Michelob Ultra. They were doing a promotion at the race and were giving them away four at a time. Between Kalin and myself, I had eight cold ones in the fridge. It’s the best beer I ever drank after running a half-marathon.
I know, it’s the only beer I ever drank after running a half-marathon.
As I sat for a minute to soak in what I had just accomplished, another sign of that accomplishment began to set in: tense muscles. Relaxation would have to wait, I told myself. If I don’t get up now, I’m down for the day.
I lifted myself up and headed to the shower. I washed and shaved as quickly as I could and then threw on the suit. The new suit. The one I ordered from Indochino. Fit like a charm.
As we left my building, one thing was abundantly clear: me and steps were not going to get along this afternoon.
With just a brief stop to meet up with Vicky, we made it to Centre Block on time. We had to fight some crowded sidewalks and jammed up intersections to do it, but we made. After being scanned in by security, something new now that I’m not an employee, I slowly made my way up the marble steps to the Senate foyer. With every step I thought to myself…
I should have taken the elevator.
While we made it on time, the ceremony was delayed because someone did not. Take a guess who that was. Someone learned the hard way that Race Weekend traffic is a bitch. I learned it the hard way a few years ago when Christian ran his first half and it took me 90 minutes to get the Greek Souvlaki House on the corner of Riverside and Prince Wales from Slater St.
The ceremony itself was quite lovely and I was honoured to hear my name called among the many that were honoured that day. I was very thankful that Kalin and Vicky could attend with me. There were a few others I would have invited, but knew they had other commitments that weekend.
That I was getting it from Speaker Kinsella was all the more fitting. He was more than an employer for the last 12 years. He was also a mentor and huge supporter of my academic pursuits. He even trusted me with his students and to occasionally fill in for him at a conference when he was double booked.
After the ceremony had concluded, there was a group photo of the recipients. At this point, the effects of the race were taking its toll on my body. I had to hold back making old man noises as I got out of my chair. As I lined up with my fellow recipients, Peter Quail, the former head of the Canadian branch of the Knights of Malta, looked at me and said in his heavy British accent, “My, you’re looking solemn today, Dr. Read.”
I explained what I had done earlier in the day. He was rather shocked I was even able to stand.
We stayed for the reception for a bit so I could some get some liquids into me. Instead of the usual white wine I would drink at our receptions when I worked there, I was sucking back Perrier mineral water like it was …. umm … regular water. For those that don’t know, the mineral in mineral water is mostly sodium, a very valuable electrolyte after physical activity.
I also got to show off my race bling to the my former coworkers. Everyone had fun with the fact that the maple leaf in the medal spins. I really enjoyed the chance to show off the Speaker’s quarters to Kalin, which is not on the public tour. She really digs history and architecture, so she was like a kid in a candy shop. When I showed her the Speaker’s mace and the constitution table, I had to talk her into having her picture taken with the table. She had such reverence for what these artifacts represented she thought it was inappropriate.
The reception was a nice opportunity to catch up with the Speaker and my old colleagues. It was a great afternoon. We stayed as long as I could literally remain standing and then headed back to the apartment. I could feel the energy from my post-race nutrition leave my body. We would have liked to have been able to swing by the Highlander and shown off the race bling and medal, but a) it looked as if it was going to rain and neither of us had an umbrella and b)there’s no such thing as a quick visit to the Highlander for us. It’s not that we’re alcoholics. They go to meetings. We have a lot of friends that work there.
We made it back to the apartment and changed into comfy clothes, but not before a few more pictures.
And then a self portrait of Kalin and I.
This photo ended up scaring the bejeesus out of her mother. When Kalin sent it to her, she thought it was a professional photo … and an engagement photo. Kalin calmed her down when she explained how it was just a selfie on my iPhone.
Changing into the comfy clothes for me meant finally wearing the race shirt. Some of my running friends subscribe to the theory that you never wear the race shirt until after the race. The belief is it’s bad luck because you haven’t earned it until after the race. I didn’t subscribe to that during my 5K days, mostly because with my declining weight the race shirt was often the only one I had that fit adequately. I decided not to mock the running Gods for the half.
After dinner, the sun came back out so we went down to the terrace with some drinks. I smoked my first cigar since beginning my training. We ended up having a delightful conversation with one of my older neighbours, a delightful gentleman who is a retired Lt. Colonel from the Van Doos. He actually ran one of the first Ottawa Marathons before there was even a race weekend.
So that’s the story about Two Medal Sunday. Now that I’ve given my legs a bit of rest, I’m already getting ready for my next half-marathon, the Army Run in September, and am again pace leading the 2 hour group for the clinic. I’ll be back at Greco on Monday for a workout. As much as I enjoyed picking up two medals in a day, one is more than enough.
The weekend’s accomplishments were great, but no excuse to rest on my laurels. The journey continues.