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