Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We Are Together

self-esteem: $9
sense of belonging: $12
role model: $6
play: priceless
Right To Play is an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Right To Play trains local community leaders as Coaches to deliver its programs in countries affected by war, poverty, and disease in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America.  Right to play is supported by professional and olympic athletes worldwide.  Their icon is a red ball which has come to symbolize the rights of children, all children, to play.  I blogged some thoughts about Right To Play last February.  Go here.  
"We Are Together" is a commercial venture by Roots and Master Card to raise money for the Right To Play movement.  I don't often endorse multi-national corporations (actually never!) but I make an exception for this one.  Hats off to Master Card and Roots for joining forces and raising the profile of Right To Play.  Watch the video; it'll take 1 minute, 3 seconds of your time.  It's powerful.  

It's a good day to play.  


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Athens Marathon, Race Report by Terry

Congratulations to Terry B. for completing his third Team Diabetes Marathon.  The sixty-five runners collectively raised $402,000 for the Canadian Diabetes Association and Terry raised well over $6000.  What follows is a guest blog race report by Terry.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 8:  Woke up at 4:00 AM and grabbed a quick breakfast, ready in time to catch the bus to historic Marathon, Greece. Just prior to leaving the hotel it started to rain and finally as we were ready to leave it started to pour. We had a 20 minute walk to the bus and by the time we got to the bus everything and everybody was drenched. We all had wet shoes, socks, and running gear. After a 45 minute bus ride we were dropped off at the start line but we still had almost 2 hours to wait until the race started. The rain lightened up but continued to fall until well into the race. Every step was squishy and uncomfortable. We were all wet, cold and shivering until the race started. The race committee provided us with a plastic garbage bag to put over ourselves to keep us dry. Too little, too late.
9:00 AM and the race begins among a release of hundreds of balloons. I expected the Athens Marathon would be bigger than it was. There were less than 4,000 full marathoners entered, so it didn’t take us too long to get from where we started to the actual start line. It felt good to start running as I got warmed up very quickly. The Marathon to Athens run is basically split into three segments. The first 10 kilometers are pretty level but we all knew what was coming next. From km 10 to km 31 was all uphill. I had done a lot of hill training in Winnipeg so I felt pretty strong for the first 18 km of hills. At 28km I developed a cramp in my left calf and over the next couple of km’s because of favoring the left leg, I got a cramp in my right quad muscle. At that point I figured I better back off and for the next 7 kms I walked more than I ran. I was able to finish the last 5 kms running so I was happy with that. The last 11km’s were pretty flat and in fact the last km was downhill. We finished the Marathon in the original Modern Day Olympic Stadium which was pretty cool. This Stadium was built in 1896 and all the seats  were carved out of marble. They use marble in Greece like we use wood here in Canada. I finished the Marathon in 5hrs and 5minutes. My goal going in was 4hrs 45minutes so I was 20 minutes off my target. Finishing in that Stadium was the highlight of the course.
I am also going to ask that if any of you has any goals of running or walking a Marathon, half-marathon or 10 kms that you give me a call. Team Diabetes is looking for participants and it is a great way to meet new people, raise money for a great cause and visit parts of the World that you might not otherwise get to. Team Diabetes does about 6 events a year and I can fill you in on next year’s destinations. It would also allow me to sponsor you in appreciation of your support.
Thank YOU Terry for all that you do for the Canadian Diabetes Association.  You should be proud of your accomplishments; we certainly are!  Cheers,  Mike

Monday, November 30, 2009

Marathon Training By The Numbers

or... Doing The Math on Four Months of Training For The Memphis Full.
A guest blog by ... Vivian R.

Memphis is marathon #3.

Number of double digit runs in official training. I kept up my 10 mile weekend long runs all summer, so that when I hit September 6th (first “official” double digit, that distance had been programmed in for awhile.

Gels (a guess). Orange, vanilla bean, expresso, chocolate outrage are my choice as the lesser of the gooey evils.  By the way, 30 X 100 = 3000 calories.

Hills.  7 weeks at Garbage Hill.  4+5+6+7+8+9+10 = 49.

Minutes under the miracle hands of massage therapist Elanna Greene. Weekly sessions starting late September.  By m-day #1 and #2, everything on the left had been cranky, from my glutes and hamstrings down to my Achilles, from my quads to my shins. This time, my body complained, but it was whispers not shouts.

Mochaccinos (another guess).  Jay at Timothy’s World Coffee keeps his runner clientele happy. Jay knows my post long run order by heart: Medium - decaf - skim milk – half sweet – extra hot – no whip. How does he remember all those orders from week to week?

Mad Men, Season One on DVD.  I try to nap in the afternoon after 16 or more miles but I can never actually fall asleep.  The Mad Men addiction started around Thanksgiving. An episode is good for 45 minutes horizontal and icing both legs.

David. Partner, amazing runner, math nerd. 110% support. 110% enthusiasm. An optimist 110% of the time.  This morning he made me an Excel spreadsheet with 8 alternative race plans.  He’ll be shivering and waiting for me at the finish line, having completed his full 30 – 45 minutes before.

Really brainy 23 year olds who heard me insist that Italy does not border Switzerland.  This one’s a long story.  I’ve been giving these health law lectures to medical students, and … well anyway, it has to do with runner’s brain.  We talk about runner’s brain a lot on our long runs. Then there’s the story about me getting the measurements mixed up for cayenne and paprika in my orzo salad.  A famous example, according to Wikepedia: “Dorando Pietri in the 1908 Summer Olympic men’s marathon ran the wrong way and collapsed several times.”

What you pay for a chunk of good Romano cheese at the supermarket.  Every Saturday night, the same dinner: pasta with marinara sauce, sometimes some salmon, or shrimp. A salad.  I figure I have 3 more pasta dinners between me and the Memphis finish line.  I am so tired of carbs.  Bring on the post-race protein.

Mike’s speed workout. 1 mile to Kelvin High School (warm up), then hit the outdoor track. 5 minutes speed, 1 minute recovery, 1 minute sprint, 4 minutes recovery. Repeat until your legs are jello. Then run another mile home. Last week I did 5 repeats for a total of 7 miles. 4 Thursdays. Never saw another runner, but I think last week was parent teacher night. I think some of them were scratching their heads. Who is this crazy woman running laps in the dark?

Grains of Epsom Salts added to post long run baths. Also known as Magnesium Sulfate – MgSO4.  I have no idea whether Epsom Salts actually have restorative properties to the joints but runner extraordinaire Bill D-J swears by post long run E.S. baths.

Pearl Harbor Day. Fifty years later to the day, my youngest came into this world, one week late. This year, he turns 18 on Monday December 7th. Races usually fall on Sunday. And there’s another important birthday the next weekend, then there’s Chanukah, Christmas…  In August we checked for December marathons held on Saturday December 5th. What about the St. Jude Memphis Marathon? We run Saturday, fly home Sunday, birthday celebration on Monday. Perfect.

2 amazing kids. “Go ahead, go for your run.” “I’ll make a curry and we’ll eat when you get back.” “How many miles today?” “That’s impressive.”  Sometimes a bit of “you’re kind of crazy, you know.” But always supportive. Thanks, you two. Also running partners. Special thanks to Bernie.  Every long run, every mile, for the entire program.  Also awesome long runs with your host Michael, Sandra, Laurie, Lorie, Darcie, Gaston, Ed … and many others.  The running community is a special group. It’s a great day to be alive.

Editor's note... you rock V!  Yes indeed, it is a great day to be alive.  Now run like the wind!  M

Sunday, November 15, 2009

1000 Miles

I logged mile 1000 for 2009 this morning on the return from The Forks.  When the Garmin rolled over I announced to my group "That's a thousand." and kept on running.  Another milestone achieved; sort of like life.  We aspire for one goal after another, reach it (or not), and keep moving forward.  No big deal.  The trick is to keep setting those goals and persevere even if all seems helpless.  Keep moving forward.  Never stop.  I logged 1260 miles in 2008 so I've got a ways to go to improve on that... not that it matters.
This morning's run with Vivian, Bernie, Darcy, Gaston, and Ed was purely serene.  The weather continues to be unseasonably warm with a bright sun, blue sky and little wind. Running with this group is a pleasure and indeed, an honour.  We even discovered a new trail, Bernie's Zag.  Next time we're running I'll point it out, better yet, we'll run it together.
By the way, if you've ever woken up during a run, overwhelmed with the beauty of the moment I suggest you read In My Mind's Eye   from Run Direct.  The writer paints a beautiful image with words of this blissful moment.  I suppose of all the reasons why I continue to run, it's the fluidity of movement and slow endorphin release that keeps me coming back... 1000 miles of it to be precise! 
Cheers all,
It's a good day to be alive.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back at 'er

Wounds licked, ego healed, feeling good, moving forward.  

I've been back at 'er for a couple of weeks and I've logged about 35 miles since that fateful day back in October (see race report below).  I had a couple of enjoyable runs with V and company, logged about 1.5 hours on the tread mill,  and I've run home from work twice.  All is good.

My current annual mileage -not that I'm a geek or anything- is 991 miles.  I'll break the 1000 mile barrier this weekend and I think I'm on track for coming close to last year's 1260.2 miles ... not that I'm a geek or anything; egads, a geek would log their mileage by two decimal points (I only go one decimal point)... sheesh, running geeks, such LOSERS!

I've registered for three races for early 2010; Hypothermic Half, Cops For Cancer Half, and Air Force Half.  I haven't decided on which full marathons I'll be doing, but I've got my eye on Fargo for a Spring marathon and Chicago for the Fall.  Time will decide.  I'm also communicating with the kindest gentleman in all of Ireland, John Culane (left) of Run Direct Ireland.  Visit his blog, Running in Munster Ireland.

John is trying to locate a race close to Dingel Bay for me while I'm on vacation next July in Ireland.  He signs off his email with  a folksy "Don't worry , we will sort you out.".  

I'm also involved with a group planning a new race for next September.  I can't go into details just yet, but it'll be the finest 10 k race this city has ever seen.  More on this later.  

Stay tuned, stay positive, and always'_   _  g_ _d   d_y   t_  b_  a_i v_!

Cheers,  M

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Toronto Marathon Race Report

The Big Smoke in all it's glory was a beautiful race from from start to finish. The Don Valley, Casa Loma, Queen's Park, the Waterfront, the scrapers... it all came together in a perfect amalgam of beauty, excitement, and positive energy. From start to finish the sights are stunning, the course well planned, and the fans, although sparse, were cheerful and super supportive. As the tee-shirt advertises, it's "fast, scenic, and downhill". Would I run it again? Absolutely! Would I recommend it to friends? Absolutely!
So, if it's fast and downhill, why did it take me almost 5 hours to complete when all around me people were setting new PB's. I was hoping for a 4:15 or better and was prepared to accept a 4:30, but a 4:49? Ouch! What in heaven's name went wrong? Good question that; in fact I've been playing the race over and over in my brain for the last 4 days in an attempt to figure that out. Here's what I think... a blow, by blow so to speak.
The race started well. Elaine, Erick, and I were having a good time at the start joking and burning off some restless energy. We started together in a throng of several thousand runners. I ran with Erick for a couple of blocks, realized we were running sub-8's so I fell back. I fell into a groove of between 8:45 and 9:30 and all was well. I remember consciously reminding myself to slow down, to keep the pace at an easy 9:00 - 9:30. It was good. I felt strong. I felt as though I might break 4:10 (fatal flaw number 1.... never be cocky, always maintain a healthy fear of the marathon).
We left Queen Street and entered swanky Rosedale... still feeling good. As we passed Casa Loma there's a serious winding downhill for about one kilometre. I found myself going way, way too fast, almost out-of-control-sprinting-too-fast. I remember hearing my shoes slapping the concrete really hard (fatal error number 2.... never have loud feet running downhill, it's bad form and means your pounding the ground). It was shortly after the hill that I felt the first twinge in my quad . I ignored it and kept running. (fatal flaw number 3... I should have stopped and stretched). Several miles later it was really hurting so I stopped and stretched (too late). At mile 14 I was walking about every mile, but my speed was still good (fatal flaw number 4.... I should have slowed way down). I remember thinking, for the first time, at mile 16 that I'm in serious difficulty; my body felt like 22 miles, but my Garmin said 16.
At this point I was passed by the 4:15 pace bunny. At about mile 18 I was walking as much as I was running and by mile 20 I had all but given up. I walked a few hundred meters and ran the same. The quads were stiff as planks and the lactic build-up was intense. Every pore in my body hurt, every muscle was taut, every ounce of energy had evaporated. Sheer willpower got me home. The fans were amazing. One young woman looked into my eyes and said with such conviction "you can do this, run man run". I told her she was an angel and blew her a most feeble kiss.
As I rounded Queens Park to the finish line the endorphin release was overwhelming. I hurt all over, I was happy to be alive but wishing I was dead, I was choked up... where was the damn finish line anyway?... my body was screaming to stop, the tears were welling, I saw the clock and I felt so defeated... so damn defeated, and yet so elated. I had finished what I had set out to accomplish many months previous. I had failed. I had succeeded. I was exhausted.
Bummed out terribly, but all the support and words of encouragement from all of you has helped erase that negativity. I leave you with this sweet email from my good friend, that fine gentleman, Nazir:
Mike, I hope you, Elaine and Erick had a better race than me. I thought I was better prepared this time but some how it turned out to be the roughest race of all. My disappointment was, however, short lived as my wife reminded me to be grateful for finishing the race and being alive.
I am going to give my body a little break for the next two months and run only three to four miles for five days a week and then join 4:30 group in January. Wish you good health and happiness as we head towards holiday season and talk to you soon.
Thank you all for your positive comments, emails, and phone-calls. Your encouragement means so much.
So, what's next? I suppose I'll take a few weeks to lick my wounds and massage my ego and then I'll be right back at it; pounding the pavement, trying to find what I'm looking for. It's still a good day to be alive... bruises and warts included.
;>) M
PS Congratulations to that other fine gentleman Erick O. for achieving a 3:48:57... not bad for a first marathon, not bad indeed!

Monday, October 19, 2009

It is what it is....

I had four goals going into the race...
  1. Shave a few seconds off my PB of 4:10.
  2. A dream goal of sub 4.
  3. A 4:30 and a cold beer.
  4. Make it to Pearson Aeroport for 5PM.
I achieved goal #4 with a a 4:49:35. Not sure what happened but I have a few ideas. More later... I have to hobble off to work.
It's a good day to be alive.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Toronto Marathon

I'm in full taper mode and I feel like a blob (I don't taper well). I feel fat, lethargic, and out of shape. Five days to race day and I feel like the Pillsbury Dough Boy on a binge of beer and tater-tots!
My training has gone very well. I set up a schedule in early July and I've followed it to a tee. I've resisted over-training and nixed the incredible temptation to register for the Treherne and Niverville half marathons (I LOVE Treherne). My weight and BMI are good. I've had a couple of very successful long runs of 22 miles and 23 miles, I've run hours upon hours of hills, and even speed work (my least favourite event) went well. I've added some cross-training for the first time ever. I've been concentrating on core workouts and building upper body strength at the Rady Centre. I'm taking a Spin/ Yoga class every Wednesday for ten weeks. As my running pal V said, my training has been "smart". All in all, things are going well and I feel prepared for the slow dance next Sunday so why the unrelenting self-doubt?
I know, I know, visualize, think positive thoughts, see yourself at the finish line, choose your mantra, go to your special place... I know all that, but still, the self doubt! The self-doubt. Where does it come from?
It's not healthy. It robs from what should be a life altering experience. As I alluded to in
Jen's blog the other day we runners need to keep things in perspective. We are so goal focussed that we can't see the forest for the trees. We become focussed on time, on being better, faster, stronger. We lose sight of what it's really all about; a celebration of life and an affirmation of good health.
That was my sensible, feminine side talking. The testosterone soaked man-brain still seeks the elusive sub-four hour marathon. My PB is 4:10 and change so a few seconds shaved here would be acceptable, and I'd settle in a pinch for 4:30 and a cold beer, but still the 3:59:59 haunts me. The course profile is generally down hill and the temps should be coolish so all things considered, I'm feeling good.
But most of all I'm feeling luck; lucky to be alive, lucky to have my health, and lucky to have your support! I'll do my best to write a couple more reports before race day. Stay tuned.
You know it... it's a great day to be alive.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Women's Run

It's not too late to sign up for the Women's Run, but you better hurry! Race Day is August 29th at 11 AM. Choose between a 5 or 10 kilometer distance. Go here for details. The last I heard there were 229 women registered and the officials are hoping to exceed 300. All participants will receive $50.00 worth of Rocky Mountain product. All proceeds (after race costs are deducted) will be donated to a local charity. The schwag is good, the cause is excellent, and the medal is one of a kind! What are you waiting for... go run!
To paraphrase a local radio personality, this race isn't about excluding men, it's about including women. It's about bringing women of all levels of physical fitness together for a safe, inclusive, and morale building run. Spread the word to the daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts and friends in your lives! What the heck, send an invitation to batty old aunt Betty; she'll have blast!
Volunteers are needed. Go here for details. I'll be volunteering so be sure to give me a thumbs up as you gallop by.
It's a good day to be alive.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Swan Lake, running in the drizzle, and why exercise won't make you thin.

My friend Linda sent a link to this Time Magazine article the other day. The reporter John Cloud suggests high intensity exercise (like running) may actually make it more difficult to shed those junk pounds. Despite spending $19 billion annually on gym memberships obesity figures in USA have risen dramatically since 1980. About 1/3 of Americans are medically classified as obese while another 1/3 are simply overweight and yet 57% of Americans say they engage in regular exercise. What's with the contradiction?
According to John Cloud, we often reward ourselves by eating after exercise. The higher the intensity of exercise, the bigger the reward! "The basic problem" says Cloud " is that while it's true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even make it harder.". Go here for full article.
Hey I just ran 14 miles. Make mine a double-double. Oh, and a couple of those Maple Dips while you're at it. ;>)
I had a perfect 12 mile solo run this morning. I left the house at 7:50 hoping to avoid the imminent rain. The weather was absolutely ideal for running: 17 degrees Celsius, a little foggy with steady but light drizzle, and a titillating breeze to cool the effects of the moderate humidity. I turned my pace function off and just followed the rhythm of my heart; 140 to 145 beat per minute felt great, 148+ was unpleasant, and 138 too easy. I had three walk breaks and one pit stop at the St. B. My average heart rate was 139 bpm and my average pace was 10:15 m/m. I could have easily picked it up at any point, but in keeping with my new mantra, no runner ever injured themselves from running too slow, I purposefully kept the pace down. It was a good run; lost in my thoughts and enjoying the freshness of the morning.
Thought you might enjoy this video of Swan Lake performed by the Chinese State Circus. You've never seen Swan Lake danced like this! Makes marathon training look like child's play.
And a final note,
Our thought and our prayers are with Bernice and her family.
Take care out there on the life-trails; there's some slippery corners and steep falls. Best bring a friend.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The miracles of GU and squeaky orthotics.

The running gods were smiling today.
I had an idyllic 14 mile run this morning with the good company of Onkar, John, Ted, Bruce, and Jason. The conditions were pretty close to perfect and the trails were in fine shape, all lush and green from the weeks of endless rain. We looped into Fort Whyte Centre and returned along the same trail. I left the others at the trail head on Grant Avenue and continued solo to complete the scheduled 14 miles. I'm still on track for Toronto full on October 18 (touch wood!).
Make no mistake, I don't endorse GU. Frankly, just the thought of it is enough to get the bile backing up in my esophagus. However, I do admit I was relieved to find a long forgotten chocolate outrage tucked away in my water belt at mile 11. I sucked it slowly and enjoyed the walk break. A little GU, a little sip of H20, GU, H20, repeat until fully choked down. The trick to GU's is to consume it in small squirts followed with a sip of water in between swallows. As much as I detest the stuff I can't deny it works. It provided the energy (glycogen) I needed to finish off the run with just enough in the tank. Truth is, I simply can't stomach more than one or two GU's so I need to substitute GU's with other Frankenfoods. My current favourite is Carbo-Pro, but that's a whole other blog post.
Squeaky orthotics!? I have new set of physiotherapist-prescribed orthotics to correct a significant pronation. My physio thinks the pronation might be cause of my exploding calf issues so I purchased a very expensive (well over $200) pair of orthotics. They feel great and I can sense a positive difference in my stride, but the left one squeaks incessantly. Every step is a squeak! It's driving me crazy. I can stop it temporarily by taking it out and re-inserting it, but this isn't too practical while running. It also helps if I tie my lace more snug than normal, but this too is a temporary fix. What to do, what to do.... a little WD40 perhaps?
Hope your training is going well and your health is solid. It's a good day to be alive,
PS. I just found this tidbit... Duct Tape, the handy man's secret weapon, does it again! Problem solved?

Squeaky Orthotics

If you have squeaky orthotics here’s an easy solution. Place cloth or duct tape on the underside of the orthotic as shown here.


The squeak occurs when the orthotic material springs on the shoe’s insole. Occasionally you will need to place the tape further back, but usually application as shown is sufficient to stop the squeak.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What does this mean?

The video ends with the question what does this mean? Now, not wanting to get all philosophical and existential, I'll cut to the chase.
I don't know what it means, but I have an opinion.
I suppose it means different things to different folks. The business person, the artist, the twenty-something corporate climber, the politician, the teenager, the old man across the street enjoying the warmth of the noon-day sun, the middle aged teacher; it depends entirely on our state of mind, our spirit, and our health. No one person has the right to define the meaning of this film, but we should all take note.
For me it is about change; change and choice. Change is inevitable and has a life force of its own. Change is ramping up at a frantic pace and is rewriting the face of the planet many times over. The world I lived in was quaint in comparison to the complex beast of a world we have today. We can choose to deal with change or not.
What's this got to do with running?
Everything and nothing (sorry, I told you I wasn't going to get all existential and then I slip into my Harvard robes, sheesh man, sorry). Because change is all encompassing and has such a incredible potential for damaging people and families, and communities we need to be of strong mind, body and spirit. The pace of change and the need to adapt grows exponentially with the passing of time. We need to be grounded, imaginative, healthy, and know how to connect the dots to deal with life as we know it today.
I suggest that runners are well equipped to deal with the change of daily life simply because of what we choose to do. We set reasonable yet challenging goals, we work like hell to achieve these goals, we build physical and mental toughness, we acknowledge that good health is a fleeting gift that can be snuffed out in a moment, we support one another, we get up when we fall down, and we know when it's ok to stay down for a while, we know the difference between the journey and the destination, we believe in ourselves, we have swallowed incredible pain, we have experienced the sweetness of crossing the line and the bitterness of failure, we understand the cathartic intensity of tears and, not least, we understand that winners come in all sizes and shapes
What does it mean? It means life is change. Deal with it. It's your choice.
It's a good day to be alive. Hope you are in a time and place where you can get out and enjoy it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ten things you really don't need to know about me, but seeing as how you're here, and you have nothing better to do, you might as well read it.

1.  I haven't run for four weeks due to a calf injury I sustained a week before the Manitoba Marathon.
2.  I've been to the physio-therapist 3 times in the last four weeks.
3.  I've been working out in the gym and I feel great!
4.  I discovered Spin class and I'm lovin' it!  
5.  I have 14 weeks to train for the Toronto Marathon.
6.  I just finished designing my run schedule which includes weekly: 1 long run, 1 hill run, 2 tempo runs, 1 steady run, the odd Spin class, some weights, some cycling, and a whole lot of core strengthening.  
7.  This blog gets a whole lot more visitors when I actually take the time to write something (go figure).
8.  I have come to realize that my computer has more memory than my brain.
9.  A 4:30 marathon has a nice ring to it.
10.  It's a good day to be alive.
Thank you to Michael Thaler's  sister, Valerie, for sending me Poems Along the Path.  
"But blessings of blessings I can still feel the life spark."  
Michael Thaler
Y'all come back now.  Mike

Monday, June 15, 2009

zero for three

Hey kids, guess what?
I did it again!
I went out for a 6 mile solo jaunt on Saturday morning to burn off some pre-race jitters. At mile 2 my calf, the same one, kacked out. I had about 20 seconds warning that something was amiss; sort of like hearing a tick-tick in the motor and then ... what the?!... engine seizes!  By the time I figured it out, wham, it was too late... a familiar pain seared up the calf. Although not as serious as my previous calf injury, it's enough to sideline me for the slow dance on Sunday. The pain was about a 6 on 10 while my last blow out came in at 9 or 10 on the pain rector scale.  Recovery time is unknown.
Am I disappointed?
Yes, hugely.
My goal was to run three marathons this year, Fargo, Manitoba, and Toronto. So far I'm batting zero for three. In the grand scheme of things it's not all that big a deal. I still have my health and my remarkable Robert Redford good looks (hey work with me here... I'm still in denial). I'll just have to focus on Toronto.
Good luck to all who are running the full or half mary this weekend. Run like the wind. Run for Ted. Run for someone or something, but run. Embrace the pain. Cry. Laugh. Dance across the finish. Smile. Be proud. Run as an affirmation of life.  Run because it's a good day to be alive.
I'll be at mile 14 (just past Laura Secord School) cheering like mad. I'll also have a camera so look pretty.
Now go and get 'er done!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Strength To Get Back Up

Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well. So dear friends, play those cards well no matter your circumstance.

Yes, it is a good day to be alive.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

File Under "Idiot"

Kudos to Val Hudson for submitting the following letter to the Winnipeg Free Press. She expresses our opinions eloquently. I've had a number of idiots (mostly 20-something good-ole-boys, backwards ball caps, souped up half-tonne) yell all sorts of stupidity over the years. Thanks Val.

I'm writing on behalf of the cyclists, runners, and rollerbladers out there who are not in perfect shape but trying hard. For the most part motorists and pedestrians and very courteous and encouraging. But it only takes one rude person to dishearten someone desperately trying to get in shape by yelling hurtful discouraging comments -- "run fatty," "hey, your butt is too fat." How many people do you think you have prevented from continuing a positive attempt at loosing that "fat"? You don't know what situation they are in. They may have already lost 20 pounds doing what they've been doing and you come along and say they're still fat.

How about a "way to go," "keep it up" or "you go man!"? These will encourage that poor heart out there to keep going until they reach their goals.



Monday, June 1, 2009

Run For Rights

Mark Saturday, June 6th 2009 on your calendar for the 8th Annual Run for Rights. Whether you choose to walk, run, cycle or rollerblade, this event is a great way to get some exercise or warm up for the Manitoba marathon in support of social justice and human rights. Two events to choose from, 5 k and 10 k. Go here for last years race report.

New this year... June 3rd 2009 the first-ever Run for Rights benefit concert! Find out more…
See you on the start line!


Air Force Run, Race Report #2

A guest blog by Linda Klaric
Today was the inaugural Air Force Run. For first timers 17 Wing didn't do too bad with over 270 1/2 marathoners. When it's a first run you don't really know what you are going to get or how it's going to there were a few surprises. Some (maybe more than some) are a little OCD when it comes to how we like our races.
LOVED the flyover...pretty cool!!! Something you just don't get to see at other runs.
Being able to stay warm and get the last washroom break in at the Fitness and Recreation Centre was a real treat.
The race pack came with a great technical short sleeved shirt and a few extra surprises.
Volunteer support along the entire route was fabulous! Air Cadets along the runway cheering us on...I think every volunteer made eye-contact and said a few supportive guy even offered to order us pizza and beers...Thank you sir!!!
Running in a part of Winnipeg I don't usually get to run in was a nice change of scenery.
It was kind of cool receiving my medal from a 17 Wing Colonel...many members of 17 Wing shook our hands when we crossed and thanked us for coming out.
A few things runners are not so crazy about...
A 9:00 am start time...I know I would love something with an 8 in front...too much down time in the morning. I like to get up nice and early eat my porridge and be out the door.
I would prefer my 1/2 marathon to be the usual 13.1 miles and not 13.49 miles (which is what my garmin read)...I am still going to count it as a PB at the 13.1 mile mark case someone asks.
What no food??? A little disappointing to run 13.49 miles and the food is gone...Where are the bagels, pancakes, muffins? Come on people a girl needs her white food!!! Apples and pears aren't gonna cut it.
When you see the finish line and someone waves you into a park to do a final loop...not cool people...when I see the finish line...I want to cross it...too much of a tease for me. Hey, that could be where you cut out that extra .39 miles!
The medal itself...well...kind of a disappointment...the date and year would of been nice.
When all was said and friends and I had a great run...a few of us ran a PB. The community support and energy you felt from the military community was palpable and I just can't say enough about. What a great cause to support and I can't wait to do it again next year!
Linda Klaric

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Air Force Run, Race Report

Melissa on the tarmac.Bernice, John, Lorie
The start... speedy guys up front.
Mike, David, Melissa, Lorie at the port-a-potties. Click all photos to enlarge.
Reflecting with a cool amber beauty at my side and a bowl of the forbidden fruit,
Miss Vickie's on my lap (ummm, Miss Vickie... whisper sweetness into my ears... ummm). Yes, it IS indeed a good day to be alive. Here's my report, unedited and from the heart...the good, the bad and the what the?!
First the good.
Soldier On and The Military Family Resource Centre are two deserving recipients of the proceeds from this inaugural run. They do a tremendous job and both deserve all the accolades and cash that we can muster. These are good folks with noble objectives and I salute them both for the work they do. I encourage you to support them whenever the opportunity presents itself. Score... A++.
The fly-over was amazing and made this race unique from all others. It zoomed past at rocket speed with little time to pull out the camera. Nice touch! Score... A+.
The SARS demonstration was fun to watch and again, is unique to this race. Hopefully these two events will become a tradition. Score... A+.
Running on the tarmac amongst the planes and one dwarfed helicopter was a nice air force touch. It would have been better if the course went a little closer to the planes, but no biggy. Unique and tradition building. Score... B+
The family atmosphere was super. Lots of kids, mascots, smiles, and good cheer. Charisma abounded. Well done. Score A.
A reasonable number of port-a-potties for the crowd. No line-ups, all clean and tidy, and a couple of nice little hand-washing station. Score... A
The indoor facilities were great, lots of space in the gym to store your gear, stretch, and hangout away from the elements. Also, indoor washrooms is a huge plus for all runners. Score... A.
The Bad
The course was between 13.45 miles and 13.50 miles depending upon whose Garmin you checked. This is a huge no-no for any serious runner. A half-marathon is 13.1 miles, any deviation in distance is a significant disappointment for anyone hoping to achieve a personal best. I over heard one runner say she got a PB, but it was about 0.35 miles before the finish line. At an 8:41 average pace the extra 0.37 mile added about 3 minutes, 11 seconds to my time which would have given me a new PB of 1:53:46. Score... F.
That 1/2 mile gravel trail near the end has got to go. Nuff said. Score D
The medal is -sorry, there's no way around it-
chintzy. It's a simulated silver in colour, but looks more dirty grey than silver. It's a little bigger than a loonie (about the same weight) attached to a short red, white, and blue ribbon with a super chintzy gold clip. There's no writing or date, just the stylized shoe with wings and a Maple Leaf in the background. Sorry, doesn't make the cut. Score... C-.
The what the?!
Coffee. Where was the coffee? It was a cold race and more than one person was asking the
where abouts of the coffee pot. I'm not asking for Starbucks here, but heck, even a weak, over perked cuppa-military Joe would have hit the spot. The lack of coffee helped disperse the crowd to the closest Timmies. Coffee brings adults together, it warms the belly and kick-starts the energy. A post race must. Score... F
The food went pretty fast. I ran a sub-2 hour and by the time I arrived at the food tent there were slim-pickings. There was tonnes of fruit and yogurt which is a treat, but the bagels were long gone. No one was checking for bibs at the food line so it's possible non-runners were eating the food intended for runners. Juice and pancakes would have been great. Score... C
The half-way turn around point was a bit of a what the?! There was one lonely, although very friendly, volunteer directing us to turn around at this (she pointed) pylon. That was it. No crowd, no music, no cheering, no sign. This is where runners begin to fade. It would have been nice to mark that crucial spot with a little more oomph, a little
enthusiasm, some blaring music. Even rounding a flag would have been better than rounding a orange pylon. If it weren't for that great volunteer we would have lost a few runners in the field just beyond the pylon! Score... C.
The after-burn.
It's easy for me to sit here and critique the race from the comfort of my couch with Miss Vickie snuggling up alongside. Events like the Air Force Run take tremendous organization and the dedication of hundreds of volunteers. Yes, they made a few mistakes, which I'm sure will be corrected next time, but the community pulled it together and built a new race from the ground up. The organizers and race directors should be proud of their achievement. Well done!
By the way, not sure if you noticed Ted Swain's name on the confirmation list. I hope someone managed to run with his bib. It would have been fitting. Good old Ted, his spirit lives on.