Monday, December 29, 2008

Marathons aren't for everyone...

My wife sent me this cartoon. Call me paranoid, but I can't help but think there's a subliminal message intended. Hmm, now if I could only figure out what she really means...
Good luck to all runners participating in the Resolution Run and the Polar Bare Run (haven't heard of the Polar Bare Run? Click here). I am volunteering as a Road Marshal for the Resolution Run, same as last year. Hope to see you there.
It's a good day to be alive.
M ;>)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Running On Roads

The following letter was originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press on December 5th. The writer, Jenna, argues that runners should stay off the roads. My comments follow her letter.
As a Winnipegger who regularly runs outdoors year round, I am constantly infuriated by other runners' insistence at running on the street. The street is a place for traffic with wheels, whether it's a busy street like Portage Avenue or the meandering Wellington Crescent. I can understand a driver's irritation at coming across a wayward runner schlepping along a street when there is a perfectly good sidewalk to be had.
I realize that sidewalks are currently coated in patches of icy snow that could down a pedestrian at the slightest misstep. Conditions aren't great. But these conditions will improve with a few more snowfalls and a steady freezing temperature, making running on the sidewalk viable and comfortable.If you can't handle running on the sidewalk, where you belong as a pedestrian, maybe you should take it inside to a treadmill. When it comes to a confrontation with a vehicle, a runner is not going to come out a winner.
The crux of Jenna's argument is found in her last sentence, "a runner will always fair second in a battle with a vehicle". No argument here! We runners are pretty well at the bottom of the roadway food chain only just
ahead of walkers and just below cyclists. Jenna reminds us that we need to be vigilant, smart, and respectful of vehicular traffic. But to stop running on the road altogether?! Well, that's simply not possible, and to suggest we "take it inside to a treadmill" is unreasonable and simplistic.
Coincidentally, I was hit by an SUV while running on the sidewalk several weeks ago
and then was verbally and viciously assaulted by the driver for my troubles. A friend recently found himself battling with vehicles while running across an intersection in the pedestrian lane on the green light. Another friend was clipped from behind by a vehicle while running through Assiniboine Park, a runners' haven, in broad daylight in a large group. The driver of the vehicle stopped, not to apologize or assist, but to rant at the runners about his broken mirror! Clearly, there's a lot of idiot drivers out there and they're going to find you whether you run on the road, the sidewalk, or on the trails. Fortunately, they're in the minority, and cool headed drivers prevail.
Most drivers are courteous, they slow down when approaching runners, they make eye-contact and they give a wide berth when passing. They recognize the need to share the roadway with pedestrians and cyclists for the benefit of the community. They understand that running on winter sidewalks is dangerous and often impossible due to ice and knee-deep snow.
My view is it's an
issue of fundamental respect. Drivers respecting runners and runners respecting drivers. We runners need to maintain a vigilance and healthy fear of running on roads. We must never assume drivers can see us. We must run towards traffic, wear reflective gear and a headlamp at night, consider leaving the tunes at home, and most notable, understand that no matter who's at fault, (in Jenna's words) a runner will "come in second in a confrontation with a vehicle". Likewise, drivers must learn to share the road, to ease up on the pedal when approaching a runner. They must understand that we're just regular folk, good folk... we're your sons, your daughters, your friends, your mothers and fathers. Good drivers share the road.
So dear runners, when you run on the road, be smart, never lose your guard, maintain a healthy fear of vehicular traffic and ... watch out for the idiots!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Will I freeze my lungs?

I just checked Environment Canada's web page for an update for this morning's six mile run. It's another typical winter run, Winnipeg style... periods of light snow beginning this morning, wind north 40 km/h gusting to 60, temperature steady near minus 26, extreme wind chill minus 43... sigh, another day in the ''peg...but fear not hearty runners for it's a dry cold! It's true, it really is a dry cold, and that could be a problem for asthmatics.
I am asked, usually by my non-running friends, don't your lungs freeze running in weather like this? The answer, simply, is no, they don't freeze. Here' an article from The Globe and Mail that explores the question "will I freeze my lungs by exercising outside in the cold?".
The strangest story that Michel Ducharme, a scientist with Defence Research and Development Canada, has encountered is the Nordic skiers who were swallowing Vaseline to coat their airways as a protective measure against cold air. "That's just crazy," he says - and entirely unnecessary. Dr. Ducharme is the researcher whose work led to a major revision of the wind-chill scale earlier this decade, thanks to the efforts of volunteers who sat in a frigid wind tunnel until their faces developed frost nip. And he's happy to dismiss the idea that your lungs will suffer from contact with cold air. "The heat exchange is very quick," he says, "and there's no evidence of any risk of freezing tissue." This may be cold comfort for people who swear they are overcome by coughing fits or throat pain when they exert themselves in subzero conditions. Indeed, cold air has long been implicated in exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, an asthma-like narrowing of the airways that leads to shortness of breath and coughing. EIB affects between 4 and 20 per cent of the population. In these cases, though, it's the dryness of the air, not its temperature, that triggers the response, says John Brannan, a researcher at McMaster University's Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health in Hamilton.
The cells that line our airways are highly sensitive to dehydration, and breathing hard during exercise greatly increases the amount of dry air rushing past these cells.
Although this hypothesis has been disputed for many years, recent experiments by Kenneth Rundell, a researcher at Marywood University in Scranton, Penn., who spent 10 years as an exercise physiologist with the United States Olympic Committee, have shown that warm, dry air and cold, dry air trigger identical responses. There are some makeshift solutions: Wearing a scarf or balaclava over the mouth can moisten the air as it is inhaled. "That makes breathing more difficult," Dr. Rundell notes, so it's less useful for skiers or runners in competition, but may be fine in training. Commercial heat-exchange masks, which accomplish the same thing with less breathing resistance, are also available. If the EIB symptoms are serious - and confirmed by a lung-function test administered by a doctor - asthma medication can help alleviate the symptoms. Contrary to what some athletes and coaches believe, though, there's no performance benefit to taking these medications if you don't suffer from EIB, Dr. Rundell says. It's still not clear whether chronic intense exercise can lead to EIB.
Winter Olympic athletes have a higher prevalence than the general population does, but so do summer athletes, who breathe in more pollution and allergens. This is a more controversial topic and only relevant to those training at elite levels.
For most people, it's safe to conclude that, short of an asthma attack, exercising outside in the dead of winter is perfectly safe. Some people do experience a burning sensation in their throat or upper airways when they exercise in the cold, Dr. Rundell says, "but that's just a response of the nerve endings." In other words, you're not freezing your lungs - so you might as well keep going. Alex Hutchinson is a former member of Canada's long-distance running team, and has a PhD in physics.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

C.I.M. When can I do it again? (guest blog by Vivian)

Now that I have braved the vagaries of air travel back from California to our little northern outpost, restocked the fridge that the teenagers ate bare, unpacked, and caught up on my sleep (a little), I am ready to try to put into words the amazing experience that was my first marathon.
We landed in San Francisco last Friday at noon to a beautiful sunny day, 22 degrees. Sacramento is a 90 minute drive north and east of San Francisco, on the interior. Weather experts tell us that Sacramento is supposed to be several degrees warmer than the Bay Area at any given time. As we enjoyed our lunch amidst the flowering pots of an outdoor cafĂ© in San Francisco’s South Beach area, pre-race anxiety and sun-on-my-face-sleeveless-bliss competed for conquest of my emotional state. If it’s this hot here, what’s it going to be like 43 hours from now, 90 miles east, at race start?
We headed for Sacramento, checked in to our hotel and headed for the California International Marathon expo. What is that thing psychologists call “imposter syndrome”?
There I was walking around the expo, picking up my race kit and beautiful CIM technical shirt, having my chip checked, acting like I was a marathoner. What’s with that?
Somehow we were able to shovel a massive quantity of pasta and salad into me at Buca di Beppo’s
(which I highly recommend for the portions and price when doing a long run in the U.S.) and slept (pretty well) on Friday night. David always says it’s not the sleep the night before the race that matters, it’s the night before the night before.
As it turned out I needn’t have worried about the weekend weather. Looking out the window of our Sacramento hotel room on Saturday morning, I could see all the way to – well actually - my window. And what I could see through the fog onto the street looked like a whole bunch of people wearing down jackets and mitts. Is this how Californians react to a little bit of fall weather or is it really that cold?
There were vast numbers of young freakishly athletic looking people staying at our hotel. Many of these folks were leaving the hotel in droves for group runs on Saturday morning. David warned me that this would happen. He reassured me that going for a run in the fog would make no difference to whether I finished or even my time. So I tried to ignore all the BQ-chasers and resist peer group pressure to do a pre race day run. Instead David and I strolled the State legislature park that stretched for blocks across the street from our hotel. We couldn’t find the Governor’s mansion (we heard Arnold wasn’t in town anyway) but found scores of orange trees weighed down with fruit, rose bushes in bloom and fragrant snapdragons.
Somehow I got through pre-race day, we set our alarm for 3:45 AM and woke up to another foggy day, or should I say night. CIM is a point to point marathon. For $10 on top of your registration you board a school bus at your marathon hotel at 5 AM and get bussed literally to the starting line of the marathon. It was an other-worldly experience - scores of orange busses heading out to Folsom in the pitch dark, each bus boarded upon arrival by a CIM volunteer who makes announcements and wishes the group luck, and then 6000 marathoners and 750 relay starters headed off to 250 porta potties (max. wait time about 1 minute, really! Hear that, Manitoba Marathon?). Checked our sweat bags, threw our last minute warm up gear into the charity bin at the starting line, and off we went. A wide starting street, even well back in the pack it only took us about 45 seconds to cross the starting line.
Our race plan was for 10-minute miles inclusive of walk breaks every 10 minutes, which meant doing about a 9:30 pace while running. My “wildest dreams” time was 4:20. My “would be thrilled with” time was anything under 4:30. We kept to our race plan and things went according to plan, mostly. Every mile a CIM volunteer called out the clock time and average pace as runners passed the mile marker. We were on pace. The course was mainly straight, the spectators plentiful, and the course entertainment wonderful – high school cheerleaders in uniform, marching bands, live rock bands, soul singers. The first 5 miles were rural and there were cows and horses to cheer us on.
We took an unscheduled 2 – 3 minute break at about Mile 10 – someone didn’t use the porta potty before the race and it wasn’t me (and there were only 3 PP’s at Mile 10 not 250) – and our pace slowed down a touch after about mile 20 but honestly I didn’t start feeling really tired until about the last 3.5 miles (you know, those last three miles that you’ve never run before in training or in my case ever). The weather was near perfect for me – 3 degrees throughout the race, fog and clouds, obviously some humidity but not a real problem due to the low temperature.
As we turned the last corner and saw the State Capital Building and the finish line balloons David grabbed my hand and we headed for the women’s finish line. My chip time 4:24:01, David’s 4:24:02. That first marathon finish was really everything that they say it is, and then it’s all a blur of more awesome CIM volunteers, post-race phone calls, and the very stiff, very cold but very euphoric walk back to the hotel.
In my pre race blog I expressed my gratitude to David and my amazing running friends. I cannot say enough about the CIM organization and the Sacramento Marathon. The CIM organization bills itself as runners for runners, and this couldn’t be more true. Finally I want to put in a plug for the humble taper and for wonderful massage therapist Elanna Greene. I had many aches and pains, and worse, throughout the fall as I trained for this race. By race week the aches were there but they were whining a lot less, and by race day the taper and Elanna had scared my injuries into shadows of their former selves.
When can I do it again?
Larry, Vivian, and David at the CIM exposition.
Congratulations to Larry who completed CIM with a 5:35 time in the 75 to 79 age category.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Vivian guest blogs her First Marathon Journey

Readers of See Mike Run may be aware in about 72 hours I will be running the California International Marathon in California’s state capital, Sacramento. I have been asked to “guest blog” my training and race experience. Hopefully doing so will distract the fluttering butterflies for few minutes. Here goes:
Where to start? Ironically this journey started exactly two years ago at the Las Vegas Marathon (running this year on the same date as CIM). The LVM was my third marathon, that is, my third marathon as spectator/supporter for David (six months into the relationship, three marathons, you do the math). Being David’s cheering section for an out of town marathon involves 1) car rental; 2) a full tank of gas; 3) detailed pre-race study of city and marathon route maps; 4) waking up at the same ridiculously early hour as he does; 5) a good luck kiss over the coral rope followed by a sprint to the car; 6) conquering a deep-rooted fear of driving in unfamiliar cities; and 7) rigorous training and stamina. The idea is to drive like crazy around the route, park a couple of blocks away, run to a spectator’s spot on the side of the road, do a quick “Where’s Waldo” so David can see me, and then do it all over again every 5 miles. Doing this was so exhausting (by then I was over 50 after all) I figured, how hard could it be to actually run the 26 miles?
My clandestine plan to become a runner instead of a spectator took root over the next couple of weeks following Las Vegas 2006. It helped spur me on that a legal colleague had been at Las Vegas doing a 1/2, I sized up my fitness level against hers, and I figured I was pretty fit already from spending a lot of time at the gym. I also knew that if I defined “runner” as David and his cohorts I’d never make it to the starting mat. A couple of weeks after our first date David was off to his 3rd Boston Marathon and is, as I loved to describe him at the time, “freakishly athletic.”
My first step was a Running Room 10 K clinic that started in the depths of a 40 below Winnipeg January. The fact that clinic instructor Neil MacLean didn’t make good on his announcement that he couldn’t run a clinic for 8 people changed the course of my running life. I finished off that clinic (not without a collection of new-runner injuries), went straight on to the Half Marathon clinic and in June 2006 I ran my first half marathon at the Manitoba Marathon.
The rest is all good. Since Manitoba 2006 there have been 4 more half marathons. More importantly I have met an awesome group of runners who have become my friends, my training partners, my running support network, and partners in crime. By the summer of 2008 I figured that since 1) I’m not getting any younger; 2) Being of good Northern European stock I’m not really a heat runner; and 3) David likes to do a pre-Christmas marathon(in 2007 it was Seattle Marathon, THE TIME HAD COME.
Through this fall I have pretty much followed the Running Room marathon training schedule. The 2 best things about the training have been David and The Ladies. About David: I’ve already said that he is freakishly athletic. This means that he runs sub 8 minute miles in training and 8:30’s on long runs (and don’t ask me about his speedwork pace, I don’t want to know). This also means that we do not run together – until this marathon training. Six Thursday nights at Garbage Hill, about a dozen Sundays once we got over the 10 mile mark, he’s been there by my side, running at my pace, encouraging me, almost literally carrying me back to our hotel after our 22.5 miler a month ago in Minneapolis, putting my yucky GU wrappers in his pocket, sweetly telling the barrista that his girlfriend propped up against the doorway needed a Mocacino RIGHT NOW because she just ran 22.5 miles, bearing with me during attacks of pre-race OCD … I could go on. David is the perfect coach, the perfect partner, the perfect friend … thank you sweetheart.
About The Ladies: You know who you are. What I said to you in my private email to you earlier in the week. Thank you for your companionship, your support, putting up with me when I get tired, or controlling, or OCD or when I say “Is there any impediment to leaving now.” Thank you for coordinating your 10 mile runs around my 20 mile runs. Thank you for watching for David and I through the window of the store and scooting right out so that we don’t have to break our stride. You have enriched my life. Thank you ladies.
Am I nervous? Am I preoccupied? Are you kidding? Case study: I’m obsessing about hydration. Right now it’s 25 C below with the windchill in Winnipeg. In Sacramento on Sunday I expect race temperature to be about 12 to 16 C – for me this is hot weather running. I need to hydrate a lot at the best of times. Does a normal person check their pee colour against a colour chart in obscure article on the internet?
Thank you Michael for all your support, your blog, and becoming the unofficial scribe of our little running community. I wish you could have been there last Sunday. It was a perfect taper-friendly long run. Gwen, Sandra, Lorie, Lori, Jason, Jacques and David’s pals Stig and Jake, 10 miles to the Forks, a mocca afterwards. It was a great day to be alive.
Hope I can do this. Stay tuned. Vivian

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Road Rage; An All Time Low.

My Thursday routine is to take the bus to work and run home. I see it as a double bonus, one less car on the road and I get a 90 minute work out for a 60 minute time commitment (i.e subtract the 30 minutes I would have burned had I driven home). I wouldn't call it a scenic run; much of it is through four lanes of carbon spewing, rush hour, high speed, traffic (Regent Avenue), but some parts are idyllic (Old St. Boniface and the Forks). Today's run capped an insanely busy week: three late evenings at work, several high level deadlines, a couple of off-site meetings, a staff meeting... you know the drill. I was looking forward to the time and space of a long run, the first run since last Sunday. I know from past runs that if I leave by 3:45 I can avoid running in the dark. I was out by 3:47 so I was feeling good. The sun was strong, the ice negligible, and the tunes were groovy. I walked over the Esplanade Bridge and quietly revelled in the beauty of the day. It was grand. Three miles to home and I'm feeling strong and happy to be alive. It was about that time, (on River Avenue) that things turned sour.
I was running on the sidewalk as I approached a parking lot driveway from the left. A driver of a white SUV was exiting the parking lot in the classic frantic driver pose.. head careened to the right looking for a break in traffic, guns it at the last second, and I, in full stride, smashed into the side of the SUV. I had no time to react and, had I tried to stop, the ice could have slid me under the vehicle. I remember a loud thud and my Garmin banging the vehicle. I regained my balance, cursed, and looked in the rear view mirror... there I saw a mad man. I shook it off and continued running. Several blocks later the white SUV guy pulls up along side, matches my pace, and starts screaming obscenities and threats. He wants me to stop so we can settle this in "fists". The whole time I didn't alter my pace nor did I make eye contact (those NVCI and WEVAS courses finally paid off). I stared directly ahead and kept moving forward... no eye contact, no response, the guy didn't exist in my mind. The screaming obscenities kept up for several blocks, pedestrians stopping in awe, until finally he sped ahead about a half a block and screeched to a stop. At this point I became fearful. I pulled out my phone and dialed 9-1 and kept my finger on the final "1". I decided that if he got out of the car I would complete the 9-1-1 call and exit stage left. He was big and ugly, but I'm fast and smart. To my relief, he stayed in the vehicle, gave me an one-fingered salute, and drove off into the setting sun. This was a terribly upsetting experience. I can honestly say that I feared for my safety.
Be careful out there folks. Look twice and never assume that the person behind that wheel is sane. Stay healthy, stay tuned. Cheers, M

Sunday, November 23, 2008

...and someone replied to that letter.

To follow this thread, back up two blog posts.
Hi Vivian, Now I have more time for a fuller explanation. Some brief history: The marathon was begun 26 years ago by John Mansoor (still race director) and Sally Edwards, founder of the Fleet Feet stores. At that time there were relatively few women marathoners compared to the men. Sally insisted on the separate finish to help highlight those women athletes and not have their presence overwhelmed by the men finishers. Today with so many finishers we need both areas to avoid too much crowding and have continued the separate men's and women's finish lines.
What I suggest for you and David is when you round the corner towards the finish, both of you follow the signs to the women's finish. People will be yelling at David and saying, "No, no keep going for the men's finish". Pay no attention to them. Cross the finish line holding hands raised in triumph, smile for the camera and then share a kiss and a hug.
I can share your anticipation of running with David. My wife and I (now in our 49th year of marriage) used to run half marathons with her t-shirt saying TOGE and mine THER. Unfortunately her knees are not up to the long runs now.
We are honored that you have chosen to run your first marathon at CIM.
Hope you and David have a safe trip to Sacramento and a wonderful time on 12/7. Larr
Dear Larry,
Thank you so much for your kind emails. David and I will follow your advice, and will proceed over the women's mat together. David is more than up for the challenge of resisting the cries of "wrong side!" Larry will you be running on December 7th? I very much enjoyed the historical explanation for the two finish lines. The CIM has a wonderful reputation and especially with the snow and ice we are currently training through, thle weather will be a huge plus! Californoia here we come! A local runner and training partner has a wonderful running blog. I know he would love to include our email exchange and the inspirational story about the development of the women's side of this sport on his blog - may I have permission to include your answer below? Again many thanks for your very prompt and very kind response to my finish line question. All our best regards to you and your wife - "toge" and "ther". Vivian
Dear Vivian,
It is fine if you share our e-mail exchange with your blogging friend. How would I access his site? Yes, I am running CIM this year. I have entered a new age group division--75-79. But alas, I will still probably finish last or next to last in that group. The only way I will ever be in Boston on Patriot's Day will be to visit our children and grandchildren. I don't know when you and David are arriving in Sacramento, but if by chance, you will be at the Expo on Friday afternoon, please come to the Info Desk and say hello.
Best wishes to both of you,
Toge (Evie) and Ther (Larry) California International Marathon 2007.
Vivian and David @ Boston 2008 (Champagne Marathon)
And the last word goes to yours truly. Thank you Vivian and Larry for your willingness to share your stories. Your honesty and open communication is admirable and begs reflection. In these troubled times of economic uncertainty, markets crashing, lost investments, and dashed retirement dreams we can still run. Larry running CIM in the 75 to 79 age category is a sweet reminder of all that is important in life; our health, our famlies, our friends, and our loved ones. Without these fundamentals we're lost in a sea of despair; money, wealth, status... all else pales in comparison. Run hard Vivian, David, Larry... we are rooting for you from the sidelines of life. Stay healthy, stay tuned. M

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Someone Ought'a Write A Letter

Someone did write a letter and here it is; this is Vivian's letter to the good folks at the California International Marathon (you might want to read the previous blog to pick up the thread of this story). A response is pending... stay healthy, stay tuned. M
Hi there, I am a 52 year old Canadian woman registered to run CIM in two weeks and am I ever excited! My running story probably isn't a typical one. After 11 years of just my 2 kids and me, at the ripe old age of 49 I met the love of my life, David, father of 3, engineer, mountaineer, runner. I was a gym "addict" (I started doing aerobics "with" Jane Fonda in the 80's) but was never a runner. Falling in love with David was a reason to fall in love with running.
So here we are, a couple of love struck "kids" at 52 and 55, getting ready to run CIM together in 2 weeks time. CIM will be my first marathon and David's 27th - his 26th X 26 (we call it his "champagne" marathon) was Boston, April 2008. For months David and I have trained together (at my pace not his!), run hills together, and talked about this experience. Through those 22 milers I try to distract myself by visualizing our finish, hand in hand. For weeks I have eaten my healthy lunch at my lawyer desk (all the better to leave the office early to get in my training runs). A few days ago while eating lunch I was surfing your website and read the following: As you round the corner at 8th and Capitol Mall, you will be directed to one of two finish lines. • Men finish on the right (south) side of Capitol Mall. • Women finish on the left (north) side of Capitol Mall. Wow! Does this mean what I think it means? That after this very long journey, we can't cross the finish line together? That the photographer won't get that finish line shot of the two of us that we will treasure? Any information that you could provide on these finish line arrangements would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much! Vivian

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

California International Marathon

Our esteemed Vivian and soul mate, David are running the Sacramento Marathon on December 7. Judging from the above chart it really is all downhill (which presents its own problems and issues). Sacramento will be Vivian's first full marathon and David's 27th (his champagne marathon -26/26- was Boston last spring). I hooked up with Vivian, Lorie Lee, Lori, Jacques, Mat, and Debbie this evening for a quick 5.25 mile tempo. It was an absolutely amazing jaunt through Assiniboine Park and up through old Tuxedo. The ice was horrible in places and the night sky was ink-black, but it was good, make that great, to once again run with a pack of seasoned runners. Vivian set the course and the pace both of which were challenging and gratifying. Good luck to Vivian and David; we'll be rooting for you and we wait with baited breath for the war stories and photos.
Vivian tells me that the Sacramento Marathon has two finish lines. One for men and one for women! What's up with that? Can't for the life of me see the rationale for such an odd finish? After training for 16 weeks Vivian and David (and thousands of other couples) can't cross the finish line hand-in-hand?! That's the ultimate moment of glory, the sweet spot, the 16 week sacrafice, the piece de la resistance, and no keepsake photo?! Man, someone ought'a write a letter.
Stay healthy, stay tuned. M

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Runner stabbed and robbed.

I just lifted this story from Scott Dunlap's, A Trail Runner's Blog (is it stealing if I give credit?). Yikes! Scary! Gives a whole new meaning to "run for your life". Stay healthy, stay tuned. M
A COMPETITOR in the Algoa Bus Bay to Bay Challenge was stabbed and robbed in full view of horrified runners and spectators in Port Elizabeth‘s notorious Victoria Drive at the weekend. Theresa Matthysen, 41, from Despatch, was stabbed three times in the back and robbed of her shoes and watch by two men while running the last leg of the 50km relay event on Saturday. The attack on a stretch of a Walmer road in which numerous motorists have been stoned, has shocked race organisers, who now plan to change the route of the event next year. “There was about 8km left of the race near the Walmer Township when I saw two guys coming towards me,” said Matthysen from St George‘s Hospital yesterday. “I tried to avoid them, but the one guy just grabbed me by the neck and I felt a funny feeling on my back. “They dragged me off to the side of the road and grabbed my takkies, and the one struggled to get my watch off, so I helped him.” Matthysen, who had just been passed the baton, said she was about 0,7km into the last leg of the relay race when the attack took place. “It happened so fast. I thought they just punched me on my back. I only realised I was stabbed when two guys who saw it happening came to help me,” she said.
Want more? Click here and here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Remembrance Day Run

Congratulations to the organizers of the first annual Remembrance Day Run. About 200+ runners braved the -8 degree weather and icy conditions to participate in this first annual run. It was our community's way of giving thanks to the military men and women who selflessly give of themselves in the name of freedom. All too many of these good and brave folks have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Rachel gave a heart felt talk prior to the race and explained that the purpose of the run is to remember. With her voice breaking Rachel reminded us of local runner, Berry Gordan who collapsed and died while running The Ron Melnichuk Half Marathon a little over a year ago. Ron was a military man through-and-through and indeed he would be proud to run today. Although I never met Berry I hear from those who knew him well that he was a good man and an honourable man. His spirit lives strong among the running community. Following a moment's silence a lone piper's Amazing Grace broke the quiet and led the group to the start line with dignity and pride. It was a touching affair and yet it felt good to be part of such a honourable event. It was our way of saying thank-you to Berry, to Seggie, and the thousands of others who have given so much and have asked for so little in return.
At last count over $900 was raised from this fine, fine run.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

NYC Marathon, been there, done that. A Guest Blog from Chris.

Apologies for waiting til this morning to send my comments but yesterday was a travel day other than an awesome breakfast at a place called Comfort Dinner on E45th. and after the race, it was a very slow walk back to the hotel and then on to an incredible steak dinner at The Capital Grill on E42nd. Sunday was truly an amazing experience. I froze my ass off on Staten Island from 5:15 am till my start at 10:20. The temp was hovering around 40 degrees F till the sun came out when gradually it warmed up to 48F but the 15 mph wind going across the Verazano Narrows Bridge was noticable.....met some wonderful folks from Wales, Chicago, NY, California and Atlanta.....the neighbourhoods, the incredible people who lined the entire route - "You're in the Bronx now Baby!"; people hanging from their windows, on top of buildings, giving constant support was mind boggling - got me emotional a couple of times out there. I felt great until mile 12 as I was on pace for around 4:25 but my left quad clammed up on me and as a result, my knee felt like it was frozen. I had to constantly stretch it out and thus lost 20 minutes or so but at least with that approach I knew that I could finish. Other than my leg, I felt terrific the entire way. Coming into Central Park (Damn is it ever big when you are running from Harlem!) was incredible too....rounding along 59th and up the west side to the finish. I ran without stopping for the final six miles - somehow doing so got my mind off of my knee - it had already fallen off anyway - the people of New York are terrific. They make this run a truly enjoyable one. People walking by me as MJ and I returned to our hotel after the race continually congratulating everyone who they saw who had taken part and proudly displayed their medal. Today, it is back to "normal with my three black running toes and very stiff shins as a reminder of an experience that I will replay inn my mind many times. Liz Robbins, a NY Times sports reporter has written a book, "No Race Like Any Other" that I have started - it allows me to relive the entire I gotta come up with my next running goal: Chicago? Hawaii? Berlin? Paris?........then again, I sure like those Boston marathon jackets.....can I?
Hey Chris, This video's for you. Mike

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday In NYC

This just in from Chris: Already, this is an amazing experience. New York City is alive. In fact, everywhere you go, people are talking about the marathon. This morning, runners were invited to take part in the fifteenth running of the International Friendship run from the United Nations building to the Marathon finish line in Central Park. Over 10,000 runners ran the 2.5 mile warm-up. The key, I strategized was to get a glimpse of the finish line. Visualization will no doubt come in handy during those last few kilometres tomorrow! Well, it is early to bed and up at 3:15 to be in the lobby to get one of the buses designated to take runners to Staten Island for the start. At least we get an extra hours sleep tonight!! So, here we go! I will get back to you tomorrow night! PS: If you see me helping the police pick up the pylons, I am over six hours.......thanks

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New York City Marathon

My old friend Chris Kavanagh from Toronto is running the New York City Marathon this weekend. With a little arm-twisting he's agreed to guest-blog a pre-race report on Saturday and a post-race report on Monday so stay tuned. Chris is an amazing individual with an abundance of positive energy and charisma. He's a suit and blackberry guy in real life, but also a stellar runner in his off time. This race is absolutely on my list! In the meantime I must run it vicariously through Chris! You'll enjoy this powerful video of NYC Marathon. It captures the spirit of the marathon runners from super-elite to Joe The Plumber. I first discovered the video when Laura (Lucy's mom) ran NY in 2004. Happy trails and stay healthy. Cheers to you Chris, run like the wind! Mike

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Still a little sore...

I'm still a little sore from the Twin Cities Marathon so I've decide to take Sandra's advice and lay low... give the bod a good rest. She reminded me that four week's rest following a marathon is the recommended recovery period. Thanks for the good advice Sandra... just what the doctor ordered. I've been walking, raking, and generally just being a middle aged, middle class kind of a guy.... yup, boring as hell! You know you're bored when you sweep your driveway twice in one weekend and you find yourself longingly staring at the runners whizzing by (they look so damn good, all sleek and fast). My current goal is to complete the Hypo-thermic half-marathon on March 1 with a sub two-hour time. This isn't a race to set p.b.'s but what the hey, it's a goal and a goal's just that, a goal. If you achieve it, good for you, if you don't, there's always next time. The important thing is to set goals and put in the sweat equity, log the miles, freeze your butt, and have a good time. If you meet a few new people along the way all the better. Hope to see you soon, slogging it out on the trails. By the way, I'm looking for guest bloggers. If you have a story to tell about a race, a particularly gruelling training run, an announcement, a funny story, or some running wisdom of any kind, please send it my way for publication on See Mike Run. Photos add zest to the stories so send them along too. Please don't be bashful. Surely to goodness you're tired of reading my stuff!? Shel gave me the idea of guest bloggers with her Ten Reasons To Love Minneapolis blog. Thanks Shel. Any takers? Stay healthy, stay tuned. Mike

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WPS Half Marathon

Don't forget to sign up for the Winnipeg Police Half Marathon. You can save $5.00 by signing up before October 31 so go ahead... what are you waiting for? Click here to register. Don't be disappointed; this race has a limited number of spots so click now. Race Director Nick Paulet tells me he's thinking of changing the name of this year's run to "I-lost-my-shirt-in-the-stock-market-and-I-don't-care Half Marathon". There's a new start line, a guaranteed 13.1 mile course, a technical long sleeve finisher's shirt and all sorts of other firsts. Clearly, Nick has been listening to the running community and is planning the best race ever. The thing I love about The Cop's Run is that it marks the start of a new season, new pb's, new goals, new friends, and generally, for me, a new pair of running shoes. :>) M

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Odds 'n Sods

Interesting graph if you're a geek like me (sorry for the poor quality... best I can do). The graph shows my heart rate (top line) compared to elevation of the Twin City Marathon. My heart rate averaged 166 bpm and spiked at 176 bpm at mile 3. The valleys show my walk breaks where my heart recovered to about 145 bpm and then spiked back to 165 - 170 bpm when I resumed running (the graph shows I took 13 one minute walk breaks, or about every 2 miles and none for the last 6 miles). My pace slowed to an average 11 min/m for the last 6 miles which accounts for the downward trend of my heart rate. You'll notice the steep incline in elevation at mile 20 to mile 24. It's about 225 feet over 4 miles, so it's not extreme, but it's enough to suck your life force! It's true! It really is mostly downhill! (although it sure fooled me!). I joined Lorie, Lori, Gwen, Sandra, and Bernice for a ten mile run this morning; my first run since Twin Cities (it was daunting). It's been a while since I've run with this group so it was great to catch up and just gab. Sandra ran the Victoria Half last weekend and was gushing with her race report... a new PB for Sandra (1:55 and change... way to go Sandra... you keep getting stronger!) Sounds like I'll have to put Victoria on my marathon list. Unfortunately, my right knee started aching so I had to pull out early (I managed 7 miles). Nicole aka Running Bebe ran the Victoria Full and blogged an excellent report... check it out. For a heart-felt race report on the Chicago Marathon check out Jesse's blog . Chicago was Jesse's first marathon and aside from the intense heat it sounds like a blast (another marathon for my list). Good luck to Jen who has has attributed her ongoing injuries to a "conspiracy" (I can relate). And finally, I am the 2 hour pacer for Ted's Hypothermic-half clinic. The 16 week clinic starts November 4 at 6:30. Love to see you there. The best thing about this clinic is it gets you off the couch during he darkest and coldest months of the year... nothing says "Winnipeg" like 13.1 miles in -45 degrees... and at those temps it doesn;t matter if it Celsius or Fahrenheit... it just damn cold! Stay healthy, stay safe. M

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Twin Cities Marathon

I've run out of superlatives to describe this marathon. It was an absolutely amazing experience. If you haven't run Twin Cities Marathon I urge you to put it on your bucket list, if you have, then you know what I speak. The fan support is unbelievably intense. The streets are pretty well lined solid with spectators, EMS, clowns, bands and every sort of costumed character you can imagine. 14,500 full-marathon runners and tens of thousands of fans (I heard 350,000 fans, but that sounds like a lot)... it was an emotional sight to behold. The sheet rain for the first two hours only added to the overall experience. My left calf popped at mile 4. I was overwhelmed with the possibility of having to pull out after all the training and anticipation. My four hour goal was no longer a possibility... my thoughts turned to survival... will I finish? I stopped, stretched, re-evaluated, and continued on with a painful limp. The running gods were smiling because as I ran the pain eased enough to shuffle along at a reasonable pace (it only hurt when I walked).  I considered 4:15 may be a possibility, but even that time goal evaporated.  It was at this point, when I gave up on all time goals, that I started to enjoy the race.  There is one hill that my friend Gary has named Oh F*** Hill... you round a corner at mile 18 and there, suddenly, is a huge hill... "Oh F***' spills out under your breath... and then you toughen up and do it justice.  I ran non stop from mile 20 to finish... I was sure that if I did stop, even for a drink, I wouldn't have the energy to start again.  My calf was screaming, my legs were logs. At mile 23 I recited the times table, mile 24 the alphabet up to Z and then back to A, mile 25 I recited the names of my siblings, their birthdays, their kids, and their connections.... clearly I was skunked out stupid by this point.  It took every fiber of my being to cross the line without walking.  It was hard run, an intense run, an amazing run... and I am better for it.  It was a good day, it was an unbelievable day to be alive. Here's my beautiful niece Laura and I waiting in the Metrodome pre-race.  Some of you will know her simply as "Lucy's mom"... (I tend to brag about Lucy).  Laura is the reason I run. She motivated me years ago to take a few baby steps. I am grateful for her. Laura has run many marathons and continues to dazzle me with her accomplishments.  That's a New York Marathon tee-shirt she's wearing.   This is Tim and Gary with Laura.  I started the race with Gary, but we were separated at mile 3 due to the crowds.  Gary has run Twin Cities 4 times (or as he says 3 3/4 times because he had to exit with dignity once).  I believe he's run about 20+ marathons.  Tim and Gary are great guys and we had a hoot in Minneapolis. We met up with David and Melissa for supper and the morning of race day.  This was Melissa's second marathon and David's 55th marathon (he started running about 6 years ago... you do the math!).  An amazing guy with incredible charisma. Gary and Laura... pre-race surge to the start line.  It was chilly. Mike and Gary... started the race together with  the four hour pace group.  Gary and I passed this gentleman at the start... 80+ with 300 marathons under his belt.  Notice his pack... huge!  As I passed him I chatted and he gave me some advice... don't start out to fast. Too bad I didn't listen to him. Here I am at the finish line.  As the volunteer was placing the medal over my head I mumbled "stop".  I removed the medal, pulled out my camera to take a self-portrait, when another runner offered to take the picture...  A Kodak moment don't you think?  Notice the fake smile and 'heartfelt' thumbs-up. Laura is amazing... after the marathon she joined a quintet at The Hilton for an impromptu gig... she didn't even change.  What a gal!  We were asked to leave shortly after.
Thank you to everyone for your encouraging emails and advice, and suggestions, and encouragement.  I truly am indebted to you all.   
Stay healthy,  Mike

Twin City Marathon

4:23 and change!  It was amazing!  I have 350,000 new friends in Minneapolis/ St. Paul.  More this evening... y'all come back now.  Mike

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Top Ten Reasons To Love Minneapolis

Everyone who has run Minneapolis tells me it's the best.  From fan support (350,000!) to complimentary bling, to organization, to the course itself... it's all amazing!  I'll give a play-by-play next week, but for now I leave you with Words of Wisdom from Shelly,  Top Ten Reasons for Loving Minneapolis (in no particular order).
1.  No sales tax on clothes!
2.  Albertville.  You have to pass it on the way in and out. Did I mention no sales tax on clothes?  If you are not already signed up Google Chelsea Premium Outlets, to get the coupons and VIP voucher.
3.  Cariboo Coffee.  Yumm!
4.  The Marathon Expo.  It's enormous and there are lots of great giveaways and shopping deals.  Did I mention there is no sales tax on clothes yet?
5.  Famous Dave's.  Even if you're a vegetarian you have to kiss the pig just because it's funny. 
6.  These guys are from here and they're all over the city.
7.  IKEA!
8.  Rice Park.  The bronze sculptures are fantastic.  Take your camera. 
9.  The marathon itself.  Eleven-thousand, five hundred heads bouncing and bounding in unison. It's a beautiful sight.  Leaves are turning colours and falling, the air is crisp and sunny to start and gives way to a fantastic fall day.  The course is wonderful and well supported.   Don't forgt your tube socks for your arms to keep warm pre-race.  You will not believe how many are littered throughout the first miles of the course. 
10.  Your friends and family can watch your progress on-line via the website.  Isn't technology great?
Have a great race Mike!  I can't wait to hear all about it over coffee, and yes, I will follow it on line too!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Simple Act of Kindness

A simple story.  At mile 24 of the Manitoba Marathon a little boy of 8 or 9 ran up along my side and matched my pace.  It was humid and I was feeling rotten.  I was hot, nauseous, and my brain function was sparking at about 20%.  My legs were dead weight, my spirit leaden. The self-doubt, the pain, and the nausea were taking a serious toll.  I was aware of someone running by my side, someone small.  He was communicating but I didn't understand. He touched my arm and I looked down.  He held my hand momentarily and then let it slip away as silently as night falling.  Angelically, he disappeared.  Several seconds passed before I realized I was holding something deliciously cold.  I looked down.  There in my hand was an ice cold freezie. It was sweet, cold, succulent, and... oh so kind.  I sobbed for the kindness.  I was touched by an angel and it felt good. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Plantar Faciitis

Yup, down for the count again... just in time for the two week taper. "Plantar" means bottom of the foot, "fascia" is the connective tissue that connects your heal to your toes, and "itis" means inflammation.  Put all this together and it spells sharp, throbbing pain in my right heal.  There's a whack of causes for Plantar Fasciitis, but mine is typical of the marathon runner... overly aggressive training, that is ...too much, too fast, with too little rest.  Go here for the best online information that I can find.  I'm not sure what to do at this point in my training.  I'm looking for a silver bullet, but apparently ice, rest, stretching, and patience are about the only four options available (Note: I don't do "patience" very well).  Two weeks to race day and I can barely hobble to the fridge for an amber beauty... cruel!  
On the plus side I managed a 42 mile bike ride today (you don't need your heal for cycling) and aside from a little residual pain, I feel OK... not great, just OK.  I did have an epiphany though and after all, how often does one have an epiphany?  I realized that, at age 52, I need to slow down a bit.  My knees were killing me, my heal throbbing, and my IT-bands were stretched taut.  I realize I am putting a lot of stress on this old bod and it's not bouncing back as it once did.  For the first time ever, I'm starting to feel my age. I'm not saying doom and gloom, but perhaps I should slow down a tad.  And that's exactly what I'll do... just as soon as I run a sub 4 hour marathon!  Minneapolis?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Run For The Hills

The only thing better than racing Treherne is racing Treherne two consecutive years.  I love this race!  It has all the elements; gorgeous scenery, challenging course, lots of port-a-potties, aid stations around every corner, great community spirit, and -la piece de la resistance- parking right next to the start line!  Yeah, there's hills, some of them big, some of them really big, but all of them character building and to be conquered one step at a time.  This is not a race to be looking for that elusive P.B.   It's more of a slow grill kind of a race... one to be savoured and appreciated.... kind of life affirming... a 'good attitude' kind of a race. 
It was a cold one!  My hands were thick and raw.  I remember not being able to toggle between functions on my Garmin because of the numbness.  And then the sun would come out and all was well.  And then the sun would go down .... up, down, up, down, cold, warm, cold, warm... The wind was intense and from the north, but remember, it's life affirming and what's a race without a little discomfort?  I poured it on for the last three miles hoping to break 2 hours, but alas, it wasn't in the cards this time around.  My official time was 2:03:49 (about middle of the pack for my age category... not bad for Treherne).  I was sick the entire previous week so I was just happy to be healthy enough to run regardless of time.
Mario is my new hero!  You know that corner where the sign says "Wimps & Wussies This Way"  "Full Mary That Way"?  Mario went THAT way!  He was one of only 40 or so brave souls that did the Full Mary (make that the Full Mario).  I waited for him to come into sight and then cheered him across the line.  He looked strong, but clearly wiped out.  He had enough energy to hug me and give me the famous Mario Grin.  With sunken eyes he then mumbled something to the effect of "Mikey, it was so hard"  and then he walked away across the hard-top with only a slight limp.  Well done Mario.  I'm not sure I'll follow your example, but I sure do respect you for this achievement.  26.2 miles... a state of mind... 26.2 Treherne miles... a state of being!
A shout out to Race Director Gary Lodwick and his stellar race committee.  They've worked tremendously hard to deliver a serious race with all the amenities.  Kudos are also extended to the fine volunteers who went out of their way to make this a most memorable event.  And to that woman who played the theme from Chariots of Fire  on her piano with windows open as runners poured by at mile 0.5... thank you... it really made my day and epitomized the Treherne Spirit.
It was indeed a wonderful day to be alive.
See you on the trails.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


My son Max and I just returned from standing along the funeral route of local boy, Corporal Mike Seggie. Seggie was killed on September 3 in an insurgent attack while on patrol in Afghanistan. He was 21 years old. Seggie was one of three Canadian soldiers that died in that particular attack bringing the total number of Canadian casualties to 97. As I stood next to my 20 year old son with heads bowed, I reflected. In a perfect world Seggie wouldn't be in that box. In a perfect world Mike Seggie might be sitting next to my son in a lecture hall at University of Winnipeg, perhaps mustering the courage to ask that pretty brunette two rows up for a date. In a perfect world Max and Seggie would be discussing Saturday night shenanigans over coffee or beers. In a perfect world Seggie would be hanging out in my basement and chomping down food from my refrigerator as all of Max's buddies do. In a perfect world there would be no reason for war and dear young Seggie would be at home with his parents. It's not a perfect world but men and women like young Corporal Seggie have paid with their lives in the pursuit of perfection. Thanks be to Seggie.
I need to process. I need to go for a run.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sunday's Run

I ran 20 miles yesterday and it went well aside from the stumble at mile 1.  It was pretty well completely dark at 6:15 AM when my big toe found chuck of asphalt rising about an inch from the path.  I managed to stay up right for about three seconds as I stumbled top heavy at a good pace.  I remember thinking "I'm goin' down, I'm goin down... oh God, bones, watch the bones..." and then everything slowed down and I could see myself like those flip cards that show motion. My head and chest were about as far forward as possible when I managed to tuck in and roll shoulder first downhill on an asphalt trail.  And roll I did, like a beach ball!  I came to a stop about 20 feet from where it all began and lay there stunned.  Cautiously I did the bone inventory -check- the muscle inventory -check- the cuts and bruises inventory -check.  I survived unscathed, unbelievable.  Actually I would have appreciated a little road rash to show the kids at school... bragging rights and all.  
Interestingly, we were talking about running stumbles on Saturday over coffee.  
The quintessential running play list is coming along.  I have about 10 tunes.  Send me yours.
Bye for now,  M

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Catching Up

I've been a little remiss in my blog posts lately, sorry, got some catching up to do.  To be frank I'm a little burned out from running, hills, fartleks, speed, tempo, lsd, and on and on.  Training for the Full Mary alone is not particularly joyful.  My training for Minneapolis started 3 days following the Manitoba Marathon so I've been training solid for about 6 months straight.  In a group you can whittle away the miles with idle chatter and share a few laughs.  We take comfort in a group because we know that your buddies right by your side feel exactly the same way as you... we can identify with one another and this tends to ease the burden.  The monotony of those long runs (like tomorrow's 20 miler) plays on the mind.  You need to stay focused and keep the negative stuff out of the brain.  This is sometimes easier said then done.  So, long story short, I was bummed out, bored with running, and not finding a lot of satisfaction... thus the stingy blog posts.
That was yesterday.  Today I joined the Corydon and Wentworth crew for a fabulous 5 miler to the Forks and back and I feel great!  I had forgotten what it like running with a large group and listening to all the laughter and chit chat, getting caught up with the buds and generally just having a great time.  This is such an amazing group of people, so positive and welcoming.  I am so honored to run along side these friends.  Coffee talk following the run was the icing on the cake... thank you for the run and the time together; you have no idea how it energized me. Tomorrow's 20 miler will be a piece of cake thanks to you!
By the way, if you have running related aches and pains you might want to check out Jen's Blog (August 13).  She talks about foam rollers that literally "roll out" the pain.  A lot of runners swear by these foam gizmos. 
I'm hoping to compile the quintessential Runner's Play List and I need you help.  I'm asking you to send me the name of the tune that gets you pumped up, the tune that gets you across the line, the tune that inspires you and tweaks your soul in the right places, the tune that tugs away at your heart and causes you to reflect at the 20 mile mark, the tune you play as you enter the chute, or cross the start line.  It can be fast, slow, country, metal, pop, grunge, classical, jazz, whatever turns the crank.  My only request is it's available on i-Tunes.  I will compile the playlist on i--Tunes for anyone to download.  It would be great if you could tell  me why this tune is an important to you or if it belongs at the beginning, the middle or the end of the playlist (think of 2 hour run, where would you like to hear it?).   I hope some of you participate; it'll keep my mind out the negative place of late.  Thanks.
Bye for now, it's a damn good day to be alive don't you think?
Oh yeah, the good news... 2 weeks to taper!  Good luck to everyone running the Treherne next Sunday... especially Mario who's doing the Full Mary.  Awesome Mario, awesome!