Monday, May 21, 2018

Privilege

Red means run son, 
numbers add up to nothing.

Neil Young, Powder Finger.

Charles Paul Bennett, my father.
Buddy, my dog.
When I was a young man, freshly minted teaching certificate in hand,  I was offered a full contract to teach in Norway House Cree Nation.  I was hesitant to accept this contract so I consulted my father.  I paraphrase his response as his actual words are lost in time yet the memory lingers strong:

You know what it's like to live in Winnipeg.  Surely you're tired with the South End. You should learn to live in other worlds.

And I did.  And I am grateful.

I leaned of privilege during my time at Norway House Cree Nation.

My father, Charles was born at St. Boniface Hospital on May 20, 1919 and died at St. Boniface Hospital on January 24, 2000. An imperfect circle of birth, life, adventure, science, love, family, redemption, death.

Imperfect, yet lovely.  Who among us has a perfect family circle?  We exist despite our scars and warts.  We thrive in our imperfection. We are human.

Some are privileged.

Some are not.

I asked my grade two class to line up for recess. I touched Clayton's head to show affection, to say good job Clayton, you are special.

Clayton's life was not of privilege. His was a life of violence. He knew not of love, not of permanence, not of family. His experience collided full on with mine and the resulting collision was powerful, even to this day.

The explosion of our paths altered my life trajectory and shaped my person.

His head dived to avoid the expected slap for that is what he knows. A touch to the head hurts. Affection is alien. Sudden movements are dangerous. Red means run.

My intention was to show affection while his reaction was to show fear.

In that moment I understood privilege and I thought of my father's words... you should learn to live in other worlds.

I am grateful for his wisdom.  I am grateful for Norway House Cree Nation.

I am grateful for Clayton for he taught me the meaning of privilege.

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike

Sunday, May 13, 2018

West Broadway Youth Outreach, 5-ish Fun Run

We are not running with the ghosts of the dead
We are alive
With the spirit of our passion

Michael Franti, Passion

On your mark, get set, GO!
Start line, West Broadway Youth Outreach, 5-isk km Run
photo credit Community News Common
To say Ken Opaleke is passionate about the West Broadway Youth Outreach centre is to compare a candle to a stick of dynamite. The candle flickers while the dynamite is incendiary.  Ken is the latter.

Ken is original director of the West Broadway Youth Outreach. He's never taken a sick day in his 27 years at the helm. He refers to his deceased grandmother, Naomi Sullivan, as his spirit guide and credits her unconditional love with the success he has achieved.  His love of this often maligned community is immeasurable. The children he serves sees him as a lighthouse to navigate the rough waters of West Broadway.

I arranged to meet Ken because I wanted to learn more about the annual 5-ish km run that has it start and finish at Mulvey School.  I plugged a couple of toonies in the parking meter thinking an hour would be plenty. Little did I know that an hour simply scratched the surface of this most amazing man.  I may have wanted to meet to learn the nuts and bolts of the run, but I left with a new and profound love of my community.

Photo Credit Canstar Community News
Ken Opaleke passionately believes in the children of this diamond in the rough neighbourhood. He give tirelessly and he holds the highest expectations of the children he serves. He sees success and promise where outsiders see poverty and failure.

The WBYO centre exist on an annual budget of about $115 000.  The Winnipeg Foundation generously donates $100,000 and the 5-ish km Run raises an additional $15,000 (based on 500 participants).

Two full time staff and six part timers deliver 30 programs ranging from team sports to homework clubs and so much more. If The Winnipeg Foundation keeps the lights on, the 5-ish km run enables a sweeting of the pie.  This is an organization we want to support for the good of our community and for the future of our children.

Photo Credit Canstars Community Newspaper
 Ken's reach into corporate Winnipeg is deep.  He's forever searching for exciting prizes and motivators for our West Broadway Youth.  Jets tickets, Bomber tickets... no problem. Limo rides to McDonalds... got that. Airplane rides around Winnipeg... sure no problem.  Pizza parties, movie nights, trips to Wheelies, the museum, all free, all donated to West Broadway Youth Outreach because Ken asks and when Ken asks corporate Winnipeg responds in spades.

Ken (left) at the finish line.
Now it my turn to ask. I ask you all to put this little race in your calendar. When we run local, when we support those less privileged, when we believe in our community, great things can happen. The West Broadway Youth Outreach Centre has produced three medical doctors. Ken is not stopping until he's reached ten. Help him reach his goal.

To register and learn more about The West Broadway Youth Outreach Centre click HERE.

Ace Burpee, if you're reading this, I nominate Ken Opaleke for your 2019 Top 100 Most Fascinating Manitobans list... just saying.

Postscript.  I have just learned that Ken will be receiving the Order of Manitoba on July 12, 2018.  Go here for information.  

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Why Plogging Won't Work

Photo Credit unknown

Pl
ogging combines jogging with picking up litter.  It started as an organised activity in Sweden around 2016 and spread to other countries in 2018, following increased concern about plastic pollution. As a workout, it provides variation in body movements by adding bending, squatting and stretching to the main action of running.


Wikipedia

Before you write me off as a grumpy old naysayer, let me begin by saying I think plogging is a wonderful idea; it promotes a positive lifestyle and demonstrates pride in one's  community.  I encourage all joggers to plog on!

It just doesn't work for me.

My friend Tim drew my attention to plogging several months ago. He suggested I blog the plog craze. I flipped it back to him suggesting he write a guest blog on the topic which was met with a cacophony of crickets.

First up, I'm a runner, not a jogger.  I set difficult goals and work for months in horrible conditions to achieve my goals. My schedule calls for up to five runs a week ranging from speed to hills, to tempo to distance.  I plan my runs to minimize the inconvenience on my family and professional obligations. 

I run. I do not jog.

When I run tempo my mind is razor focussed on cadence.  When I run hills I am wary of my footing and continuously adapt to conditions uphill and down.  On distance runs my mind wanders as I slow focus on endurance and energy conservation. I cross train twice a week at Good Life Body Pump. To work in garbage picking to an already busy schedule, is simply not going to happen.

Have you seen Winnipeg in the springtime?  It's filthy! The clean up is beyond the scope of any single group.  The City requires professional cleaning services on a massive scale. No amount of plogging will put a dent in spring cleanup.  At best plogging is a feel good activity and at worst it's a danger for infection and contamination.

The runners I hang with have tremendous civic pride. Last year the Turtles Running Club organized a drive to clean up Garbage Hill.  It was a wonderfully successful event with about twenty local runners and their families collecting dozens of bags of trash. The campaign was called Un-garbage Garbage Hill and my blog on the topic is here.  Here's hoping the Turtles will organize a similar event in the not too distant future.

Please don't judge. I'm not a grumpy old man. I might be a little pesky and cheeky at times, but not grumpy.  I believe strongly in community pride and civic duty. I love my city, really love it!  But plogging?  Nope, not for this runner.

Leave it for the joggers, they've got lots of time. ;)

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Jaybird X3 Bluetooth Headphones, my review.

I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

U2 Joshua Tree, side 1, cut 2

Jaybird X3 Bluetooth Headphones
I'm training lone wolf style for the Manitoba Marathon in June and it gets lonely.  I just read The Loneliness of the Distance Runner, but that's for another blog.

Distance running  is lonely business. We become lost in our minds as time and distance swirls by and by. We run through pain, boredom, and joy... and it gets lonely. Within this loneliness we learn to let go, to forget, to be at peace, and to love oneself in spite of our flaws.

Music simply dulls the boredom and takes our mind from the pain.

My current non-bluetooth Bose earbuds sound very good albeit a little heavy on the bass, but that's a Bose thing.  As good as they are, the fit is poor.  The weight of the cord and the friction of my sweaty running shirt pulls them from my ears. They are good for light runs with a toque to hold them in place, but for longer runs I'm forever cramming them back into my ear canal. Not cool.

Being the modern man that I am (insert sarcasm emoji), I thought I'd go Bluetooth. Fun fact, Bluetooth is named in honour of 10th century second king of Denmark, King Harald Bluetooth whose claim to fame lies in uniting Scandinavia. I don't make this stuff up, Check it out here if you don't believe me.

While shopping at Best Buy I texted my friend Steve for his opinion. He returned my text with a phone call within 30 seconds.

I trust his word because he's fussy like me and he's researched hours into Bluetooth earbuds.  His recommendation to me is Jaybird X3 with the caution the range is less than 20 feet. This is a sore point for him as he uses them to watch his tv screen while logging miles on his treadmills. His complaint is the sound is sometimes lagged with the video.  This isn't a problem with me as I'll be using them exclusively for running outdoors with my iPhone. Be warned.

These aren't your parent's headphones!  The sound quality is exquisite and the bluetooth convenience is a huge asset. The charge lasts about 8 hours which is more than enough for a 50 km run.  A 15 minute fast charge will provide one hour  play time. The sound can be customized from a number of presets or you can create your own sound.  Pump up the bass? No sweat! Max out of the highs? Ezy pzy! Create a warm sound? Yup you can do that too!  Loving The Clash? Rock out!

The down side is it takes time to customize the fit. There's several variables which take time to figure out.  I'm at the end of week one and I'm still not satisfied with the fit after numerous variations of fitting.  There are many fitting options far too complex to get into here.. G-it and dozens of websites and youTube tutorials pop up.  What you need to understand is patience is required to find the proper fit.  It is absolutely not a plug and play device.

I'm really close to finding my perfect fit, but  still haven't found what Im looking for.  Patience will prevail and it will be worth the effort.

I have Broken Social Scene and The Bahamas lined up, just waiting for the next lonely run.

Would I recommend these headphone?  Absolutely yes!

Are they for everyone? No, they are designed for the discriminant audiophile with a deep pocket.

Will they help me achieve a PB at the MB Marathon? Nope, but they will relieve the loneliness of the distance runner.

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike



Saturday, March 17, 2018

City Park Runners Taproom Run

Oh in the kindest hours
I feel my heart

Broken Social Scene, Old Dead Young (from the album Hug of Thunder, side d)


By all accounts the second annual City Park Runners Taproom Tour was another resounding success.  Officially it's the Brooks Taproom Tour, but the heart and soul of this fine 'peg City event rightfully belongs to Erick Oland, local independent, owner operator of City Park Runners.  Ninety-one runners registered, eighty-two showed up for this blissful romp through gritty Winnipeg streets. Erick, gentleman that he is, allowed a few late entries so as not to disappoint.  It was entirely groovy happening and I'm of the generation that invented the word so I say it with fidelity.

Half Pints
photo credit Carly Walsh
Six O'clock on a Thursday evening, temperature hovering around zero, lots of blue sky, no wind, absolute idyllic conditions for a run. There was no official start, no timers, no whistle, no stretching (thank goodness),  just a few words from Erick reminding us to be safe then a "okay, let's go eh".  Wanting to avoid overburdening any one taproom we split into two large groups on Ness Avenue with one group running the course clockwise and the other counter clockwise.  It worked, kinda, sorta but I think the counter group was larger.
Torque Brewing
photo credit Carly Walsh
Thirteen kilometers and five different taprooms, a beer every 2.6 km, not bad!  We are greeted enthusiastically by servers at all five taprooms. We were a friendly group, if not an oddity (what, you run AND drink beer at the same time). Smiles and good cheer flourish. The pours are suitably small, about two ounces, just enough to catch the nuances and subtleties of craft beer. Some had the beer pre-poured (it was kind of flat and warm at One Great City), while others took orders. And then we move on, in search of another ale oasis in a sea of warehouse grunge.

Oxus Brewing (a stone's throw from Garbage Hill)
photo credit Carly Walsh
Half Pints, One Great City, Torque, Barn Hammer (my fave), and the new kid on the block, Oxus participated. Oxus won't be open until late August but -good news- their beer is available at MLCC.  The owner, Sean, is doing all renovations of the old warehouse by himself which explains the delayed opening.  Like all good things it will be worth the wait. Oxus is a stone's throw from Garbage Hill; how cool is that, a hydration station right where it's needed most!  Ted's Run for Literacy has a few ideas up our sleeve.

Barn Hammer
photo credit Carly Walsh
Erick ordered dozens of pizza from Carbone Wood Fired Pizza but there were slim pickings when my crew arrived.  Apparently some runners have big appetites, really big!  No matter, we found a few crumbs in the boxes and there was plenty of beer from all five tap rooms available. The store was packed and the vibe was contagious.  Great fun was had by all.  It was a class A party!

One Great City
photo credit not known
Erick sends a shout out to the staff at Barn Hammer for their exceptional hospitality.  About 30 runners arrived  simultaneously at Barn Hammer unannounced to the serving staff (is it possible Tyler forgot to tell them?).  Erick explained the event and lovely Tamara, after asking who will pay, shifted into 5th gear and said "Okay then, what can I pour you?".  Erick said Tamara was cool, calm, polite, and very friendly.  Way to go Barn Hammer, way to go Tamara! That's local service for you fast and friendly.
Shameless self-promotion. Three Ted's Run for Literacy board
members participated in this event. Yup, we like beer!
photo credit Carly Walsh.

I asked Erick why local independent businesses support one another rather than compete.  He replied it's because local independent small businesses face similar challenges.  They compete against giant international chains that would just as soon see the locals fail and would happily stomp them into oblivion.  Local businesses need each other to slay the giants and to encourage Winnipeggers to keep their money in the city. They look for original ideas to attract customers.

Last year this event sold out in about 12 minutes.  This year, with double the numbers, it sold out in less than 24 hours.  Many others tried to register but couldn't because it had reached capacity. Will Erick host the Taproom Tour again next year?

"I think the Taproom Tour was a great experience for all and I will certainly explore doing this again, or something new!"

Here's hoping!
My feet move. My heart pumps. My mind floats. My spirit soars.  

With thanks to Half Pint, Oxus, Barn Hammer, One Great City, Torque, City Park Runners, Brooks, and Erck.  In gratitude I will display your logo on the sidebar for one month.

It's a good day to be alive,

Mike

Saturday, March 10, 2018

That's A Pneumonia; Ruminations of a Recked Runner.

When the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie, that's amore

That's Amore, Dean Martin

A lung infection caused by bacterial or viral infection in which the air sacs fill with pus and may become solid. Inflammation may affect both lungs, one lung, or certain lobes.

That's a pneumonia, Dr. Google

On the bright side, I can now spell pneumonia without using spell-check. (Caution rant...and what's with the silent 'p'?  It's hard enough to spell without adding red herrings).

Based on the data from the previous ten years, my mid-March mileage should be hovering around 250 miles.  Alas, it presently sits at a middling 98.2 miles.

That's a pneumonia.

I usually go to Goodlife Body Pump at least twice a week. I haven't been in three weeks.

That's a pneumonia.

I usually eat three solids (not including second breakfast at 10 AM) every day.  Now I have no appetite and all food is tasteless, blah.

That's a pneumonia.

I used to smoke cigi-butts but I quit in my young thirties.  DuMaurier, Player's Light, I still get a tingle. I'm now winded like a pack-a-day wheezer.

That's a pneumonia.

And here's the kicker; at my doctors suggestion I got the pneumonia vaccine ($130) in September, three months before being diagnosed.

I am back running as of today.  I managed a single 3.5 mile loop and it knocked me flat. Literally flat, I just woke up from a 2 hour nap.

At a 1/2 mile in I considered turning back. I didn't.  At one mile in I felt like crawling. I didn't.  At 1 1/2 mile I coughed up a lung and left it in a slush pile on Wellington Crescent.

At 2 miles I met Junel Malapad who was out for a 100 km jaunt.  He was at 39 km when we met.  He kindly ran with me and listened to me wheeze, cough, and generally complain like the old man I am.  He's a good person, but this we already know.

Running is such a gift. It gives us untold joy.  Our minds brighten, our bodies hum, our loads become light and insignificant in the moment.  We become all that we can be; happy, purposeful, bright, and kind.  We are invincible. We are proud of our accomplishments and wise in our deeds. We are strong, resilient, and we glow with health and spirit.

That's a running.

Like Joni Mitchell's paved paradise we only miss running when it's gone.  Enjoy it now friends for one day you will have only the memory of running and that's a sad memory.  Enjoy it now.  Embrace it now.

Love the day that is now.

I am happy to be back among the land of runners.  I will visit with the back-of-the pack group for a few weeks and hope to move up to my mid-pack homies within a few weeks.  Manitoba Marathon is still on the radar, but my lungs will tell for sure.

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

#dropkickfebruary

Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life.

Bobby Bare, All American Boy

I received a text from a friend the otherday in which she confided "I'm tired of being sick, grumpy, and I want to go for a run".

It got me thinking.

February is a grumpy month of frigid days and colder nights. The endless darkness weighs upon our shoulders us as we hunker down and go through the motions of life. February is square wheels, icy seats, and fender boogers. It's tax time. It's time to tighten the belt and face down the red line debt. It's a time of tasteless fruit and brown slush.  February is yuck!

Kick Me!

The long range forecast calls for a return to seasonal temperatures in just seven days, hang in there! But we know it's just a guess and the target is always, a.l.w.a.y.s.  just out of reach.

Sigh, February.

It's time to drop kick February!

I am on a mission to improve the quality of life for humanity!  No small task, not for the faint of heart, but I'm up to it.
Old school iPod
I will forward my iPod to a friend. They will load ten songs that are happy, inspirational, motivational or just gets your feet moving!  This friend will pass it on to another friend who will also load ten songs onto the iPod.  This will be repeated 8 more time for a total of ten people contributing 100 songs.  I will add the last 10 for a playlist of 110 song that will surely drop kick February.

Rules:
  • You must own the song (no illegal downloading please).
  • The person receiving must be connected to running in some capacity (This rule is pretty loose. I only mention it because this is a running blog, duh).
  • The turnaround time for each person is 24 hours or less. 
  • The last person will contact me to arrange pick-up
  • To make this as inclusive as possible, you will be challenged on a grid to find someone who: 1) has run a 100 mile Ultra, 2) has run a 5km, 3) uses a wheelchair, 4) was born in a country other than Canada, 5) has survived cancer 6) is over 70, 7) an MRA board member, 8) lives with depression (and is willing to share), 9) has experienced a significant loss in the last 12 months, 10) a race director of a running event.
If you're stuck, just pass it onto buddy down the street.

The playlist (and comments from the ten contributors) will be posted on SMR.

I will pass the iPod onto my grumpy friend to get this started.

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Arrowhead 135, 2018, Race Report by Scott Sugimoto

Snow and cold wind whip across my face. I am on a trail standing by a fence..... and I have no idea where I am.  

Scott Sugimoto, 0600, January 29 2018, somewhere in Minnesota.  

Scott Sugimoto is an adventurer and a gentleman in the truest and finest sense of the word.  He says wryly "I have more time behind me than ahead of me" and he makes extraordinarily good use of the time he has remaining. He believes life is about making memories and marking life events by accomplishing goals that leave us breathless with admiration.  

Scott send thanks to Sue Lucas for her patient teachings, her motivation, her inspiration, and most of all, for her friendship.

This is Scott's race report of the fabled, not for the faint of heart, Arrowhead 135 Mile. I am honoured to host this guest blog on See Mike Run, and more honoured to call him my friend. 

Take a deep breath, and read on.

It's a good day to be alive.  

Mike



This event started for me almost the year before. Speaking with my friend Sue about Actif Epica, reminded me about someone I had long forgotten.... me as a young boy. My heros as a youth were the Arctic/Antarctic explorers. I might not be finding brave new worlds, but I am certainly finding adventure.

Sue Lucas is one of two women to achieve a Trois Award 
(i.e. completed Arrowhead by all three disciplines, ski, bike, and run).

Release the Hounds (
Fatbikers lead the way)

The Saturday prior to the start of Arrowhead, I met Jon Paradowski and Sue Lucas at Dallas Sigurdur's , and we picked up Pete McAdams enroute. The travel down was uneventful and we arrived checked in, and got gear check out of the way. The Sunday was shuffling cars around, eating, visiting, meeting old friends making new friends and the pre race meeting. We skipped the pasta dinner to return to the hotel to relax(?), review gear and eat. The plan was to be up and out of the hotel by 0630 Monday. Jon and I decided in order not to be rushed we would get up at 0445, and get our adventure going.

When I awoke, I squinted at the clock on the desk (0419). I figured I would go get a coffee in the lobby and let Jon sleep a little more. I was onto my second cup when I realized that with my glasses off, I had misread the time, it was actually 0319 when I got up... oppps. Everyone is up now and Jon, Sue and I load all our gear into my wife's jeep and the three of us cram ourselves into the two front seats. It was an easy short ride to race start where I managed to get the jeep stuck up to its axles in snow!

Fireworks, release the hounds ... and off go the Fat Bikers! A couple of minutes pass and off go the skiers, (Sue Luca being one of the skiers) followed by the runners.

Checkpoint 1, Gateway Store

The first leg to Gateway approx 35 miles, is flat and for a good part, quite firm, I am thrilled by this. The field seemed to break into smaller groups and those clumps seemed to remain fairly close together. For me it was time to try to get into a routine of eating and drinking, getting used to the trail, and just trying to maintain a steady pace. I believed I had a good plan that had no finish time expectations on myself. I would just try to stay ahead of the cut offs. I knew by doing that, and by just moving forward, I might finish.

I got to Gateway over 3 hours ahead of the cut off! Only a third of the way through is too early to celebrate anything, but by accomplishing this, I knew that now it would come down to my mental resilience or lack there of that would determine the outcome. Gateway is a gas station C store that opens its doors to the Arrowhead competitors, to recover and prep themselves for the first overnight.

It was at Gateway when once again I am reminded what a special community ultra running is as I have to ask Chuck Fritz for money to buy a cup of soup. Chuck is awesome as he stares at me and states "Scott, finish and you owe me nothing.... and I know your going to finish" .

Scott's maxim.

My plan was not to rush through the aid stations but not to waste time either. Approximately 40 minutes after arriving I head out into the darkness for leg 2. I was well aware of the hills in the third leg so I was taken by surprise by the climbing that was part of this leg. As I travelled and made my way along the trail I was getting concerned as to how tired I was feeling. With that said I chuckled as I thought of a phrase Jon told me, "shiver bivy", here you don't break out your sleeping bag and bivy sack, just collapse onto your sled and awake shivering from the cold, too funny.

Speaking of cold, the last forecast I saw was a low of -12C. Now I wasn't opening my weather app , but holy crap, it is getting cold out! I have since discovered it got to -27F (-38 C) overnight.

Everyone knows the old rule, "nothing new on race day", well here is where a bad decision on my part could of ended my event. I brought along a new jacket. If it didn't work out I could be in a lot of trouble. Fortunately for me once I slipped it on I was warm in minutes, but now I was overcome with fatigue.
Shiver Bivy

At one point I awoke when I walked on a 90 degree angle to the trail and right into a snowbank. I had heard of people saying their asleep on their feet? Well, what woke me up, was my knees buckling beneath me and me falling to the ground. Instead of laying on my sled, I thought my shiver bevy would be just to bend and lean on my poles. A couple of times I woke up as I started to fall foreword. Whatever gets you through.

As dawn approached I found my second wind, but was now struggling with diarrhea, I believe this had a significant impact on me later in the event. As I approached the second aid station the cabin MelGeorge at Elephant Lake, I had another good laugh as I thought of my friends Scott Kummers AH race report and his fear of running on the lake, thank you Scottie, I was in need of a good laugh.

Checkpoint 2,  MelGeorges Elephant Lake

It had taken me over 13 hours to get to MelGeorge, I had hoped for a little quicker as I wanted to leave with a minimum of 2 hours ahead of cut off. Here is where I made another error that potentially could of ended my event later on, which it didn't, but it certainly made my life more difficult for me. I decided to spend more time slowly rearranging my gear , changing clothes, and eating, then I did sleeping. I was over 24 hours into my event with +30 to go and I had taken a 20 minute nap. I was at MelGeorge for 3 hours and spent more time socializing than I did sleeping. A rookie mistake for sure!

Off I went to start leg 3, feeling positive but knowing that it is at the 70 mile distance is when an ultra really starts. As well one of the things Sue had mentioned to me was that there were 43 hills in this leg of 40 miles!

43 hills in 40 miles

It was within the first mile that I was into my first big climb. It was short steps, heavy use of my poles, making regular stops as needed. Oh my goodness this is tough. The hills are relentless! One after the other I found myself so far leaned forward that my sled belt would start to slide down my backside. It was funny, at the end Sue asked after all my questions to her and everything I read was I ready for this section? Early on, I knew I was woefully under prepared for these hills and was getting increasingly concerned!

 A couple of issues were rearing their ugly head. The climbing was causing me back spasms and the diarrhea was getting worse whenever I ate or drank as in all my water was Tailwind. Sadly I am going have to find something different as after two longer events that I believe Tailwind as a major reason for the onset of diarrhea. Mistake number three, if eating and drinking are the cause I will just stop doing both. Not the smartest move to make!


Two hours from Surley

I have to admit the second night is really a blur. There was snow, some wind, and not near as cold as the first night. I don't recall being as tired as I was the first night, but I was becoming aware that my thought processes were not as they should be. At around dawn I was getting very frustrated as I felt the third and final aid station Surly should be close. Every corner, every climb was followed by various expletives.

One of the snowmobile volunteers stopped and asks me how I am doing. I try to be as positive as possible, and ask if he knows how far to Surly? His reply was gutting! I am 4 1/2 miles away!?!?

WTF!!!

He asks if I am out of water, not that it matters as I cannot get help from him or face a DNF worse yet in my decreasing mental state it never occurred to me to use my required stove to melt snow and make my own water.... duh. Anyway we look at our watches, it's 0500. He says keep moving you will be there in 2 hours or less and drives away.

Lost

Snow and cold wind whip across my face. I am on a trail standing by a fence and I have no idea where I am. As I look around I have no idea how I got to where I am. I remember talking to the volunteer on the snowmobile. I remember running up a trail and I remember running down a trail. Otherwise, nothing! I look at my watch, 0630.

OMG , I have no memory of the past 90 minutes. Which way to go? How long have I been here? Fear rises as I worry I have finished my event in the middle of nowhere. I make the decision to move forward, if nothing else my plan was simple from the beginning, just keep some foreword momentum. IF I have been moving at all, I should reach Surly by 0700. If not well, I don't have a Plan B just yet.

Ten minutes later a fellow on a fat bike approaches. With a lump in my throat I ask if he knows if the Surly aid station is close by. He gives me an odd look and points with his thumb over his shoulder and says, right around the corner. Some days are better lucky than good, and at 0642, twenty three hours after leaving MelGeorge and nearly 48 hours from the start, I check into the aid station #3.

In hindsight, I am of the opinion my "survival" of the last two hours filled me with adrenaline making me feel in better shape mentally and physically than I actually was. I dump out the Tailwind from my thermoses, and I drink some water, and get on my way in less than an hour. Before I go, Kate Coward and Kari Gibbons catch up to me. Two incredible young ladies that are doing the double Arrowhead! Yes you read that right, in just over a week these two ladies are travelling the route in both directions.

Darn, this is crazy stuff.

I leave Surly full of energy and confidence, one more big climb, one big down hill a total of approx 24 miles to the end! As I am travelling down the trail, I am once again in tears.... not for the first time over the last two days. I think of my wife and daughters at home and I cry, I think of Todd and Kim and last October Lemming Loop and I cry. The running community at home, all the support and I am in tears. Darn this is crazy stuff.

I get to the top of the last hill, it is the biggest drop on the course, I remember Jon laughing out loud as he speaks about sliding down it. I think, no fucking way am I risking hurting myself now. The sled and I walk down to the bottom.

The first 4-5 miles seem to go well and I think I am moving at a good pace, but drinking water now seems to go through me so I stop drinking. I am feeling fatigued cannot concentrate and my back is in a constant state of spasm. I am aware I am slowing down, I am leaning heavily on my poles like I was climbing. I can feel the finish getting away from me.

My mind wanders, I begin to question if I am on the right trail. I seem to come in and out of various states of awareness, but I wonder have I kept moving.? Have I been standing still at all? In all honesty I don't know!

Fear, panic grow me, I see a snowmobile volunteer approaching, I worry that he will pull me off the course, I think I know what day it is , but no idea of date, hell.... where am I again? He is getting closer... Rice Lake, no, Park Falls, no, shit.... he stops, " how you doing?" - my reply "good" ... he tells me how far and how long it will take me and as he drives away, I cannot remember a thing he said.

It only hurts when I breathe

I can see the tops of buildings now, I know I am close to the end. Sadly in more way then one. I have to concentrate on each and every step. My back feels "locked" , but it only hurts when I breath. I have to concentrate to stay in the moment. If I don't focus, I seem just to zone out into nowhere land. I come to four markers in the ground, I know that there part of the route, but for the life of me I cannot figure out what direction I am supposed to go (it was straight ahead by the way).

I begin to panic, think Scott think!!! Then I decide to call Sue, through the fog, I remember participants can help each other but no outside help. I pull out my phone and... it's frozen! I collapse onto my sled, look up and...

Kate Coward and Kari Gibbons

... I see Kate and Kari coming down the trail. I get up and head towards them. I am crying, lost, and afraid I won't finish. Kari says to me " your going the wrong way ". When I tell her I am lost she rubs my back and states "don't worry sweetie, we will take care of you". I fall in behind but soon cannot keep their pace and after a couple of corners I can no longer see them.

As I walk along I pull my phone out again, in my panic I did think to throw a hot shot by my phone and now it works and Sue answers. She tells me to keep moving she will send Don out.... I have no idea who Don is but okay. Quickly a snowmobile is there and it's Don.

Half a mile to the finish from just around the corner. I make the turn and it's all an uphill grade. I am so hunched over now I am all most walking on my knees, it takes all I have to keep going forward. When I reach the finish line I ask the fellow,"Am I an official finisher?"  When he replied yes... I made the ever dramatic face plant onto the ground of the parking lot.

Ugh.

At least the volunteers just carried close to the door of the hospitality room and let me limp in under my own power .... as it was, so I was able to maintain some level of dignity.

Miracle child, Aiden, receives Scott's Arrowhead toque for his bravery.

Easily the most difficult event I have done. I was the cause of most of my misery. When I say I feel I was lucky to finish, I do not mean to take away from anyone who finished or those who DNF. Luck will not get you through Arrowhead. By luck I mean my errors could of as easily ended my day at several point . Cannot wait till next year!


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Unregistered Bib Swapping

Full disclosure time...

There was a time I would park in accessible parking zones. I stopped when I learned it was wrong.

There was a time I would drink and drive.  I stopped when I learned it was wrong.

There was a time I would bandit courses.  I stopped when I learned it was wrong.

There was a time I would swap bibs without registering the swap with the race director.  I stopped when I learned it was wrong.  

There was a time I did lots of crazy stuff but I stopped when I learned it was wrong, illegal, unethical, or just plain stupid.  

I'm here to tell you UNREGISTERED BIB SWAPPING is wrong plain and simple. It's akin to banditing a course only considerably worse because the unregistered runner calls the integrity of the race into question.  

Unregistered bib swapping is wrong for many reasons. Aside from being unethical the following is a thumbnail sketch of the issues at hand:
  • Men are running as women thus raising the competitive bar unfairly for female runners.
  • Experienced runners are running as 15 year old children thus robbing younger runners of their glory and setting impossible records for teens and tweens.
  • Unregistered runners requiring urgent medical care may not receive timely medical intervention because their bib number is associated with another person.
  • Race directors assume liability for unregistered runners even though the runner has not signed a waiver.  
I attended a meeting last evening organized by Manitoba Runners Association Executive Director, Kathy Wiens. I will not disclose our conversation but I can say it included the following three points:

1. Data collection.
2. Education
3. Punitive Measures

Manitoba Runners Association will issue a 'statement of concern' on February 5, 2018. The statement will be sent to all Manitoba race directors under MRA's governance. Clearly, we expect an educational social media blitz will solve 90% of the problem. The remaining 10% may require further investigation and possibly, punitive action.

Suffice to say, unregistered bib swapping is unethical, causes significant liability concerns, puts the charities they support at risk, and call the integrity of the race into question. Unregistered bib swapping is akin to banditing and broaches on cheating.

Now that you know unregistered bib swapping is wrong, please stop.

Spread the word.

More to come later.

As always, it's a good day to be alive.

Mike

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Run Puerto Morelois Die Happy

MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY, West Jet flight 2345, We are evacuating. We are evacuating.

Captain of West Jet Flight 2345 to tower moments after the two aircrafts collided. 

GO GO GO

Crew giving instructions to passengers at the emergency chute.

These audio snippets are etched in my mind forever. The jolt of the planes colliding, the firebomb, the explosion, the smoke, all pale in comparison to these words... Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.

This post is not about the fiery crash. That's between me and my therapist. Suffice to say I have never witnessed pure, unadulterated panic and I do not wish it upon anyone. It's terrifying, it's visceral, and it's trauma inducing. Mental Health experts tell us incidents such as these often trigger long buried past trauma. Yes, this is true, more on that later, maybe, who knows for sure?

The trauma I experienced is softened as I run with friends. Your kind words, your expressions of concern, your compassion mean the world. You make me whole again.

I told my therapist this morning I don't like to talk about this experience because it seems artificial. I want your ear for an hour and I know that's not possible. I tell the story in bits and bites highlighting the visuals because that tells a good story. I expect you want the Hollywood version so that is what I tell. But mostly I hold it tight to my chest.

I thank my special friends for being there for me when I need you the most. I thank you for the coffee. I thank you for listening. I thank you for hearing me.

On a lighter side I give you this little video, Run Puerto Morelos, Die Happy.

Peace and love to you all.

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike