Here is this week’s update from race-walker Robert Hardy. Hardy will be providing us with regular updates on his progress and marathon training. Here is what Hardy has to say:

The first race of the season is over. Saturday, April 29th, Run to End MS Cornwall. Walker Racing 10-km in a time of 1 hr, 4 minutes and 55 seconds, racing just under 10-km/h. and placing first in my age group. 65-69. First place for my first race. GREAT.

It was not easy.
I had trouble with my back on Friday night when I moved suddenly and felt the strain again. I managed four hours of uncomfortable sleep and thought about canceling the race, something I have never done. I chose to take a couple of Extra Strength Tylenol, rub on some topical pain ointment and go for it. The topical ointment froze the problem area and the pain killers numbed me and my back.

When I arrived at St. Lawrence College it was pouring with rain, windy and cold. Not good for my aching back. Because of my back I chose to race with a warm and water proof jacket which really helped. The race started at 10 and by that time the rain had stopped but the wind and cold had not.

The race:
There were over 700 runners on the roads and waterfront trails. On the waterfront trails we, the 5 and 10-km runners were heading west out and the marathon and half marathon groups were returning East making overtaking on the narrow bicycle paths precarious, especially for me and my racing walker.

Once the traffic thinned out I picked up speed with a combination of race walking, jogging and running. All was going well until I crashed on the west most wooden bridge on the bike path. The front wheels jammed on the bridge structure and I tumbled over the top, something I am accustomed to. My landing was good but I couldn’t get up because my back wouldn’t allow me. Very painful. Thankfully, a lady in “shining armour” came to my rescue and helped me back to me feet. The lady was concerned about my well being. I thanked her and quickly got back to finishing the race and catching up to my competitor.

For the duration of the race the 2nd place 65-69 year old runner was trying to take 1st place and we competed all the way. I would get ahead and feel comfortable the prize was mine and then he would pass me. I would never let him out of my sight and as soon as he was pulling away I would put the pedal to the metal and overtake him and we continued until the final kilometer when my final sprint secured my first place reward and pushed my heart rate to 170.

The results: I finished 1st place in my age group, overall 62 out of 102. The last place 102 went to a 60-64 year old fellow who finished in 1 hour, 47 minutes and 34 seconds, 42 minutes behind the 67 year old walker runner.
My back is not too bad today. Some pain but not severe. I believe the race helped. Exercise works. I’ll test drive my back again on Wednesday.

What’s next. My last 30-km time trial before the Ottawa Marathon on Wednesday, May 2nd at the Tim Horton’s Dome, Alexandria. 12.30 pm Warm up and race walking class for anyone who wants to try. 1 pm. The 30-km time trial. My goal is a nice and easy 3 hr, 30 minute time in preparation for my 5 hr, 15 minute full, 42.2-km Ottawa Marathon. Come and join me for a few laps, or more.

Race walking is an Olympic Sport, Walker racing is not yet.

May 2nd.Final 30-km time trial before the Ottawa Marathon at the Tim Horton’s Dome, Alexandria.
May 5: Alzheimer’s Walk for Life, Benson Centre, Cornwall. Make Memories Matter. Walker racing and speaking.
May 19: Longueuil Marathon, a special 3.5-km race with a lady who has Ataxia, racing HUGO race walkers.
May 23rd. Oriental Medical Centre, Alexandria. Tune up and back treatment.
May 27: The full Ottawa 42.2-km marathon. 5 hr, 15 minutes full, 42.2-km marathon, or less.