Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hypothermic Half Marathon, Race Report

Today I feel as though I let an old friend down. A little over a year ago Michael died from a rare cancer. He was a Buddhist, a poet and a photographer. Michael inspired thousands with his courage and his wisdom. He had an office job, but his soul was invested his in his art. Today I ran for Michael. I scrawled his poem, Fatigue (a poem he wrote days before his death), on my bib and intended to use several of its lines as my mantra as I fatigued.
But blessings of blessings.
I can still feel the life force.
I can still feel the life force.
I was unable to finish today's race. At mile 1.92 (I checked) my left calf exploded and I came to a painful grinding halt... dead in the water, cacked. Eighteen weeks of relentless training in sub-zero weather for what? 1.92 miles! Yes, I was deeply disappointed and I was angry... with myself. As runners swarmed past I masked the pain behind a weak smile and reassured them, best I could, that I was alright. But I was so deeply disappointed in myself.
I am strong, I run marathons, and I can barely walk!?
So many runners stopped to offer assistance and encouragement. They were kind and concerned with my wellbeing. One walker even offered me her pole. I was remined how fortunate I am to run with such an amazing community.
As I hobbled back to the start line, freezing in the thin layers (where was the damn sweep anyway?) I thought of Michael. With thick fingers I removed my bib and read his poem aloud as I limped along the trail, homeward. I read the poem several times, silently, and then out loud. It became peaceful, and in that moment, that fleeting moment frozen in time, I understood the life force which Michael so eloquently described. The sun warmed my face. The wind evaporated.
My injury is nothing, my disappointment merely a simple quirk of human nature. I should be celebrating the life force, not feeling disappointment. Disappointment is such a egocentric state of mind. I will heal and I will run. Next time I will succeed.
A Reminder to myself.
Living life to its fullest
isn't about
checking off thrills from a list;
It's about being fearless in following my dreams,
courageous in accepting
that some will go unfulfilled
and taking the time to savor
something as simple
as a cup
of tea
It was a good day to be alive and I captured a bit of the life force at the finish line. Thanks all for such a wonderful journey.Thank you Michael for your strength.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Taper Week Check List

The anual Hypothermic Half Marathon is this coming Sunday. This will be my third Hypo-half and I'm enjoying it more each year. The Hypo is reknowned for unpredictable conditions and weather. It's been run in tortorous cold weather, huge winds, knee deep snow, ankle deep slush, and, like last year, perfectly idylic conditions!
More importantly the Hypo-half is reknowned for a stunningly delicious, buffet style, gargantuan breakfast feast hosted by the good folks at Fort Whyte Centre. The cost of the breakfast is included in the registration fee with all proceeds going to trail development and maintenance at the Fort Whyte Centre. Read last year's race report here.
Here's my Taper week check list.
Have I forgotten anything?
  • No running. It's Louis Riel Day, our new provincial holiday, and I'm loving the down time!
  • Last clinic @ 6:30 PM.
  • 6 mile @ 8:46 m/m (race pace, walk adjusted).
  • Start hydrating @ twice my normal rate.
  • Start carb loading.
  • 6:00 PM 3.5 mile run at race pace.
  • Clean Aisic 2140's, remove sole liner, pluck out gravel and grit from sole, put aside for race day.
  • Hydrate.
  • Carb load.
  • No run... no fun. This will be hard because my Thursday 8-mile, run home from work is the highlight of my week.
  • No run.
  • Hydrate.
  • Big carb supper (no fats), glass of vino (maybe two :>).
  • Early to bed (As Vivian says... "It's not the sleep you get the night before the race, it's the sleep you get the night before the night before, that matters."
  • Hydrate.
  • Carb load @ lunch only (big meal of the day).
  • 2 mile run @ 9:30 - 10:00 pace (use old pair of running shoes).
  • Massage @ 10:00 AM.
  • Race-kit pick-up @ 1:00 PM.
  • Buy new pair race-day socks, two gels, Power Aid.
  • Light house work. Walk dog.
  • Nap.
  • Light supper (soup and toast).
  • Prepare race day clothing.
  • Fold race day wear on couch.
  • Prepare warm-up clothing and post-race clothing and pack in gym bag.
  • Charge Garmin.
  • Check forecast.
  • Watch movie.
  • Early to bed. Sleep in spare room so I don't keep Jen awake.
  • Rise and shine at 5:00 AM.
  • Shower.
  • Small sips of water (minimal intake of water from this point on).
  • Light breakfast (whole wheat toast with honey, coffee, small juice, 1/2 fruit).
  • Check forecast.
  • Dress accordingly (-10 Celsius or warmer, wear 2 top layers, -11 or colder wear three top layers).
  • Write mantra on reverse of bib. Scrunch bib. Attach bib.
  • Pack towel, extra layers, spare hat, gloves, and gels in case someone forgets.
  • Leave @ 7:15 AM.
  • Meet Lori, Sandra, and John at 7:30 AM @ Kenaston RR.
  • Carpool to Fort Whyte Centre.
  • Arrive Fort Whyte at 7:45 AM. Premium parking!
  • Prepare self. Ten minute slow jog to warm up.
  • Meet group starting at 8:15 AM.
  • Set Garmin.
  • Review 2,4,6,8,10,and 12 mile splits with group.
  • Review strategy with group.
  • Position group in top quarter of start line.
  • 8:30 AM start!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fountain of Youth?

A doctor on his morning walk noticed a very pretty older lady sitting on her front step smoking a cigar, so he walked up to her and said,
'I couldn't help noticing how happy you look! What is your secret?'
'I smoke ten cigars a day
,' she said. 'Before I go to bed, I smoke a nice big joint. Apart from that, I drink a whole bottle of Jack Daniels every week, and eat only junk food. On weekends, I pop pills, get laid, and do no other exercise at all.'
'That is absolutely amazing! How old are you?
,' she replied.
Compliments of Weighty Matters.
;>) M

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Right To Play

Several Years ago I participated in a bike ride to raise money for Right To Play. I raised a little over $2000 by cleaning and repairing bicycles for friends and family. The ride was organized by Richard and Pam Craig, Jen Kirkwood, and Joan Bluethner. If memory serves, the group of 30 or so riders raised a little over $10 000 for Right To Play.
Winnipeg's own Olympian, Clara Hughes donated her $10 000 prize from winning Gold at the 2006 Olympics in Tu
rin, Italy. Clara was motivated by American Olympian Joey Cheek who donated his $25 000 prize to Right To Play several days earlier. In fact, Clara believes it was Cheek's donation that motivated her to win gold.
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, war affected areas on the planet. Right To Play programs target the most marginalized children including girls, children living with disability, children affected by HIV and AIDS, street children, child prostitutes, former child combatants and refugees. Right To Play is supported by hundreds, if not thousands, of professional and amateur athletes and sporting organizations world-wide.
The International Olympic Committee has been a strong advocate and supporter of Right To Play since its inception at The Norway Winter Olympics in 1994. The IOC has provided RTP with world exposure and has been a huge part of their success, that is, until now.
Right To Play won't be welcome at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, or the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia! Without explanation the IOC has pulled their support and have excluded Right To Play from their Athlete Village.
Call me cynical, but isn't the Olympics all about supporting amateur athletes at an international level? What happened to the Olympic ideals of sportsmanship and the celebration of human achievement? It would appear that the IOC are shifting these noble ideals to marketing and profit.
here to read what Clara Hughes has to say about what Right To Play means to her. It's a must read!
Happy trails, Mike

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Wish I Had A River I Could Skate Away On.

I hooked up with David on Saturday morning for a six mile run down the River Trail. Bright sun, crisp air, beautiful river trail, crucnhy snow... it was pretty much an idyllic a run as ever there has been. David's not the chatty type, he listens and reflects before speaking. The conversation turned to our parents, his are ill and mine have passed. I told him the story of my parents dying within 40 days of one another, December 1999 and January 2000. David listened intently as if imaginging life without his parents. It was cathartic for the two of us.
The two of us running side by side, mostly silent, but connected through our parents and the moment. Time passed before he asked if I knew the Joni Mitchel song If I had a River to Skate Away On. I do, and it is a favourite. A pause, and then David commented "It's like that song" referring to the sweet moment and the tender conversation. We we're running on the river, the cold frozen river, silently wishing for eternity. It was a most remarkable run, thank you for the company David.
I'm running with a group from City Park Runners on Saturdays and I've signed up for their Marathon Clinic. I'm hoping to run a sub-four hour marathon sometime in 2009 and I'm betting the change will help me achieve this goal. My old cycling friend Doug has been running out of City Park for years and he's been encouraging me to give them a try. City Park is owned by Erick and Cheryl Oland, the nicest couple you can imagine. They have a wide range of runners from slow-slow to fast-fast, and everything in between. Their store is stocked with the finest product, they're helpful, resourceful and, best of all, they make the best damn post-run coffee in the city! Their free group runs are Thursday at 6PM and Saturdays at 9:00AM. Come on by, give 'em a try, you'll be pleased.
Pardon me for bragging (again), but the pictures show the most adorable little girl this side of Beijing, Laura's daughter, little Lucy. Both pictures were taken along the River Trail last Sunday.
Happy trails everyone, especially to Mone and Fran who gave birth to beautiful little Sofia on January 27. Mone was my very first pace leader and I am forever grateful for his leadership. M.