Monday, December 26, 2011

Living in a Prayer

everybody looks like someone I just saw 5 minutes  ago
if i looked too far in the mirror i know i'd have to run
from copper harbour way down to acapulco
where the sun shines on the moon and the moon gives it back to everyone
i'm living in a prayer

Greg Brown, Covenant

Assiniboine River, December 26, 2011

I loaded the shuffle with Greg Brown and headed out for my first double-digit slow dance in a while.  I ran parallel to the Assiniboine for much of the way, south side outbound and north side home bound. The sun was shining hard and walkers, cyclists and runners were out in strength, all smiles and nods with full eye-contact. Why is it when you walk the streets of this city we avoid eye contact, we even become highly uncomfortable with any pretence of eye contact,  but here on the trails it's expected.  It's even worse in Toronto. In Toronto one could walk naked and no one would see you, you're invisible.  There's a different vibe on the trails I suppose. On city streets we're on a schedule, the clock's ticking, we're late. On the trails time slows and our thoughts are pleasant.  We smile and nod and reflect it back through our eyes, like the sun shining on the moon, only to have the moon give it back to everyone.

I ran on the roadway in my neighbourhood because the sidewalks are slushy and uneven.  All but one car gave me a wide berth and slowed as they approached.  I remember the one car, the big black suv with two men.  They passed me within 18 inches at about 60 k/hr.  I wonder what goes on in their heads?  Why is it always men?  And what's with the suv culture?  This man was passing through my neighbourhood on a street full of runners and walkers and he doesn't slow.  We made eye contact and his eyes were angry as if to say what right do you have to be on the street, his street. I returned my thoughts to Greg Brown and moved forward refusing to be sucked in to this negative space.

Bill Clement Parkway Bridge, Assiniboine River looking east, December 26, 2011

At Assiniboine Park the children ran and played.  The big old toboggan slide was swarmed with moms and dads and kids... all yelling and playing.  "Watch me dad" with an emphasis on "me" as if to say watch ME make YOU proud dad. Watch ME. The laughter of the children is a glorious sound, it's contagious.  It gives me strength to keep moving outbound, past the park, through the forest, to the bridge.  A slow drink of water at the skating rink shelter.. why does water always taste better after a few miles of running?  The simple answer is ..because your thirsty, stupid... but it's more than thirst... water is a life force and I feel ... we feel... the life force as we sip the water, the cool clean water from the fountain.

I ran 10 miles today and it was a good day, a good day to be alive, living in a prayer.  


Saturday, December 24, 2011

In Winnipeg at Christmas

There's lots of snow
Very clean, and crisp and hard
And glittering like a Christmas card
Everywhere you go

Rose Fyleman 

In Winnipeg At Christmas; a quaint little pre-global warming poem about Winnipeg at Christmas. I checked my blog entry for this time last year just to see what was up. The weather was -29 with a -41 wind chill.  Today's run was +1, no windchill, blue sky, and a gorgeous warm sun. Snow?  What snow!  It's not a brown Christmas, but the snow on the ground is pretty darn skimpy, non-existant in some places.  I even saw a Winnipeg first for December 24th... a runner in shorts and a toque!  I pointed at his bare legs as I approached and gave him a thumbs up sign and a big smile.  His return grin was ear-to-ear.  I didn't see any bare-footers though. I expect it would have been a reasonable day for a bare foot trot.  Yes indeed, In Winnipeg at Christmas... a good place to be, a palace of friendliness.  

I had a gorgeous little 6 mile slow dance down the Disney Trail this afternoon, you know the one, all the fire hydrants are painted to represent Disney characters.  This trail reminds me of cottage country, all sweet and eclectic. It's a runner friendly route, cars slow, home owners smile and give a wave, it's a very welcoming little patch of Winnipeg.  I approached a couple of runers slowly from behind and had an impromptu chat about the weather. We parted with a cheerful wish for a merry Christmas and I took the lead.  Yes, even at Christmas time I'm still a little competitive (I blame it on testosterone and as such, I can't help myself).

I wish you all a very pretty merry Christmas.  By pretty I mean, loving and peaceful, family and friends, good cheer and good food, hopeful and fulfilling, health and good karma. Stay to the right of the trail, pass on the left, and give a little whistle as you approach someone from behind.  And, for heaven's sake, smile and nod at your fellow runners and walkers... it's contagious.

So, as my perfectly beautiful niece Miranda from Calgary would say ...

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all... and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2011, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or sexual preference of the wishee.

(By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.)

It's a good day to be alive, in Winnipeg, at Christmas.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Hey Rosetta, come run with me?

And we don't look back, cause we don't need that
And we're going too fast, and we don't want to, 
we don't want to crash

Seeds, Hey Rosetta, Seeds

How was your run? The same question.
It was great. The same answer.

How do I describe the run. The joy of moving?

How was your run?

Well, I'm so glad you asked, stop me if I go on....

The run was thrilling and simple and left me breathless. I am in awe of my strength and my commitment to my body. I am powerful and my mind is sharp like a tack. It wanders, my mind. I review my day. I plan for tomorrow. I reflect on family. It's all so clear and positive. The music, Hey Rosetta, sings to me and I dance alone along the trail, sometimes slow, I like the slow dances. I dance to the tempo, the tempo becomes the run, the lyrics become the reason for the run. I walk the footbridge because it's just so damn beautiful. I need time to absorb the moment. The frazil ice all jagged and sharp. The sun bleeds from the dusk sky. Moments of beauty that give meaning. Meaning to life and being. We remember these moments, we file them, and we take them away for when they are needed most. They shape us and give us character. The memories of beauty become the treasures of the old. They become all we have. I run to create memories of beauty.

I run fast at the end, breathless and heart pumping, I dont look back.

How was the run?

It was great.

It's a good day to be alive.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Harte Trail

Harte Trail in west Winnipeg is part of the Trans-Canada Trail.  It runs parallel to Wilkes Avenue on the south and Assiniboine Forest on the north.  Harte Trail is part of a network of trails that meander through some of the prettiest parts of Winnipeg. Harte gets its name from the Harte Line, a section of the old Grand Trunk Railway built in the late 1800's.  Just south of the trail is the modern day CN line.  The trail transitions from fields to forests, to middle class Charleswood suburbia.  There's a ditch full of critters and a large variety of interesting vegetation.  I saw a deer but it bolted as I reached for my camera.  It's a sweet little 6.5 km trail (13 return) with many inviting benches perched strategically every kilometer or so.  
I saw young lovers strolling the trail arm-in-arm, happy dog walkers, geo-cachers walking purposefully through waist deep vegetation (why do geocachers always look lost... they have gps) , speedy bikers with serious faces, old people with canes and warm smiles, children with parents.  It was a nice run. In a word, pleasant. There's any number of trails leading off the Harte, some are cross-country ski trails, some mountain bike trails, some for horses, some for walkers, some for old farm machinery.  I left the Garmin in the car and brought the camera.  So glad I did. 

The downside of the trail is that it crosses six different streets.  The streets come up suddenly, especially in summer when the vegetation is thick, and cars don't always give right of way.  It's also straight as an arrow and flat which makes it less interesting than a winding trail with changing elevations.  It also just ends... almost anticlimactic... at the perimeter highway.  There is a nice bench but the view is disappointing, an open field looking on to a 4 lane highway.  The Headingley Grand Trunk Trail is on the other side of the perimeter highway but crossing all that high speed traffic is not something I would relish.

My total distance today was about 9 miles but I stopped to photograph (90 pictures) and I walked down some trails just to see where they would lead.  I wasn't in a rush, time was the last thing on my mind.  The chocolate break at mile 6 was blissful, yes purely blissful, no exaggeration.  Chocolate does that eh?   How often can we stop to simply sit on a bench and eat a piece of chocolate.  Such a simple pleasure and yet almost impossible to achieve in our busy lives.  
One of the many off-shoot trails.  This one was particularly inviting.  I followed it for about 1 km. 
I received an email from a friend today recommending Once a Runner by John L. Parker.  Apparently it's a cult classic.  How did I miss out on this? My only question is to buy a paper copy or download the audio file from iTunes.  It would be a good one for the iPod, but I think I want this one in my bedside library  Spoiler alert... don't read the Wiki review because it gives way too much.
Tonnes of amazing vegetation.
Here's the opening line from Wiki...  
The novel opens with a physically fit young man standing on a track, watching as "the night joggers" toil around him. He begins to walk toward the starting post, and thinks that now that the Olympic games are over for him, he does not know what he will do with his life. The man starts to walk around the track, and thinks back to four years ago.  
I'm going to order it this evening.  
I never met a bench I didn't like , but this one spoke to me like none other.  Good old Simon and Garfunkel...  looking for fun and .... feeling groovy.  

Lindt Chocolate... one square... mile six, sea salt... feeling groovy, yes indeed.

Gotta love this little clip... a shout out to all the vegetarian and vegan runners out there.  Enjoy the day, it's a good one to be alive.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A perfectly beautiful day...

Yes friends, it's a perfectly beautiful day for a run. Steel grey skies, foreboding and whisperings of colder weather sure to come. Faint glimmerings of sunlight poking through weakly and with no warmth other than the memories of sun.  The sun, like impossibly gorgeous blobs of colour on canvas... a grey canvas, sad and yet hopeful, the blobs, yellow and golden on a sea of grey, they make me smile.  Faint traces of rain, a soft rain the Irish say, a rain from faraway. The meteorologists say confidently -smugly,  it's the perimeter of a Colorado low... as if they can predict, as if they know.  It's a soft rain, the Irish say, and that's all that needs to be said.  And the wind, from the south, or was it the east, the wind too was soft at times, but chilled the bones as we turned around at the Forks.  The wind blows strong here, off the river with little shelter.  Shelter From the Storm, an old Dylan tune from Blood on the Tracks, now looping through my brain, such a lovely song, but I show my age.

We hunch our shoulders, shorten the stride, and forge homeward.  Me in two layers, synthetic base layer and Merino wool outer layer, both light and fitting snug -just the way I like it- and working well together, providing wicking and warmth from the wet.  Beads of rain gather on the brim of my cap and roll onto my face like tears. My chest now lightly drenched ... can something be lightly drenched or is that an oxymoron?  It's my blog so I take artistic license and I say lightly drenched stays.

Thinking of music as I run.  Wilco's new album, The Whole Love, has been getting lots of play time lately... so many amazing tracks, Black Moon is haunting and tugs dearly at my soul or One Sunday Morning... so beautiful, like the grey skies of today's run with blobs of colours and textures, tender and harsh like the soft sun against the steel sky.  Music is like that, it takes us away and soothes the brain... sorta like a good run.  A good run does that and more. Yes?

I have decided to register for Fargo Marathon.  I've registered twice before and had to pull out both times due to injuries.  Last year a mere 5 days before race day I twisted an ankle.  Two years before I strained my calf about a week before race day. I need to slay Fargo.  This is the year.  I also need to slay Chicago, but that's another story.

And finally, a word about Ted's Run.  Every day is a good day for a run, some are just better than others. Such was the day for Ted's Run.  Big blue, blue sky, warm sun, cool tunes, smiles everywhere.  Ted was in the sky and he smiled openly and his love radiated warmly.  It was vibrant and it was Kodachrome.

Early in the morning before the crowds arrived walking next to her in dawn's light she stopped and tried to articulate what this day means ... to her ... to Ted.  The words choked and failed as they often do.  Silence was appropriate so, in silence we held one another and it was good and it was right. I thought of the last time I saw Ted.  He was running, not fast for speed was irrelevant to Ted, he was strong, smiling, proud.  It was a good day to be alive then as it is a good day to be alive now.  Ted's is gone but -my oh my- how his spirit continues to motivate.

If you're reading this, I suspect you either attended the run, volunteered at the run, or otherwise supported the run through your good cheer and your good vibes.  I am indebted to your kindness.  I am grateful for your suport.  I am a better person for knowing you.

To all of you, it's a good day to be alive.


Sunday, October 16, 2011


Today was a good day. I ran. I worked in the garden. I fixed an electrical outlet that's been out of commission for months. I even had time to make dinner and now I'm posting a long over due note on See Mike Run. Sipping a red something. Yes, today was a good day. Some days are like that, yes?

I joined a group this morning for a 10 mile run, Grant/ Forks return. It was a comfortable pace, 10 and 1's, slower than I've been training for all summer so it was difficult to find my stride, but I did and it was good. The 10 and 1's felt odd, but familiar like an old friend. The friendly chatter... inviting, the leaves crunching underfoot...hypnotic, the gorgeous colours -well- gorgeous, the brisk wind embraced the senses. It was lovely and peaceful and sad. Time slows in the fall. End of season. No goals other than the usual... Hypo, Cop's, and a choice of any number of Spring Mary's. I'm thinking of Ottawa in May, or Fargo, or Manitoba or all of the above, none of the above.

Fall is kinda sad, not sure why. It's the most pensive of seasons? Piling wood, cutting back dead growth in the garden, hunkering down for what's sure to be another long and cold winter. Winter running is embracing and so wonderful and yet somehow it seems foreboding. I need to learn to run in -40 again, how on earth do we do this?

Today I logged my 1111th mile. It's not a huge number. It doesn't mean much, it's not even a prime number, it's just a number and yet it represents so much to me personally. It represents conviction, passion, friendships -such dear friendships- passage of time, suffering, intense pain, intense joy, the indescribable joy of crossing a line. Yes, 1111 is just a number, meaningless in itself, and yet to me, today, it's a good number.

It's a good day to be alive,


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Niverville "Imagine" Half Marathon 2011, Race Report

There's something about small town races that makes me happy, so happy in fact I want to return.  The Niverville Imagine Half Marathon was picture perfect in every way, shape, and form.  The cause, Mood Disorders, is a serious one and the story behind the inception of Imagine is tragic.

A week before Mona Stott was to run the 2009 Manitoba Marathon her son Joey committed suicide.  Instead of running the marathon Mona attended her son's funeral.  Mona contemplated running the marathon before the afternoon funeral but was discouraged to do so by family and friends.  Personally, I think I would have encouraged her to run, I would have run, but that's me, and my advice isn't worth the binary code of this sentence. Mona created the Imagine Run to raise awareness of mental health issues and suicide.

And such a run it is!  Go here for Mona's story.  Go here for the Imagine, Mental Health Matters web page

I'm a sucker for the smell of fresh manure and wide open endless blue sky.  Like Treherne Marathon, Nivervile Marathon was brimming over with positive energy and exuberance.  It's a small town marathon with a big city vibe. The organization was impecable, the entertainment suitably cheezy with the Elvis impersonator at the turnaround, and the lonesome Charlie looping Lennon's classic Imagine.  Some of the bands were professional and their sound against the big blue sky made the run that much more enjoyable. The volunteers were absolutely the best ever.  My only pet peeve is the number of runners tuned out with head phones. To purposely lock their minds way from all that positive energy is breathtakingly myopic... I just don't get it.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the finish line.

At the mile 8 mile marker I felt amazingly strong.  I was pacing out at sub 9, my lungs were strong, my heart rate even and calm, and my legs strong. I looked to my right, strong 20 year old runners, very fit 20 year old runners, to my left, more 20 year olds and a couple of 30 year olds... all very fit, very strong.  Man, I'm doing amazing!  I'm just burning up this course!  At the mile 9 marker I check my GPS for time, pace distance.  DISTANCE!  Why does my GPS say 7.5 miles and the mile marker reads 9?  There must be a mistake!

Yes, there was a mistake, and it was all mine.  I remember an intersection a few miles back.  Some runners went straight and some veered left down Main Street.  I locked eyes with the RCMP officer and he nodded towards the left.  In reflection he was probably just saying hi, but I interpreted it as sign to go left.  So left I went... straight into the 10 k route.  I decided the only thing I could do was to run it in to the finish line, check my GPS and run outbound to make up for the shortfall.

So that's what I did.  I ran to the finish line strong.  Stopped a meter before the line, turned and bolted outbound to make up for the 1.4 mile shortfall.  When I stopped I heard a few gasps from the hundred or so spectators on the bleachers.  I heard someone yell. What's he doing?  But off I went.. in the wrong direction.  I ran outbound 0.7 and returned 0.7.  The GPS distance read 13.09... close enough, and the time 1:53:59.  All in all, not a bad time.

Would I recommend this run?  Yes, in a heart beat.

Do I know someone with mental health issues?  Sadly yes.

Is it a good day to be alive?

Well you know the answer to that.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Bismarck Full Marathon, Race Report

On the drive down to Bismarck David explained how he divides marathons into thirds. As with much of what David says, it stuck and has caused me to reflect.  The first third of the marathon he says,  we use our brains, the second third our legs, and the last third, our hearts.  It's the heart that gets us across the line, but it's the brain and the legs that make it possible.   So I tell my story in thirds.

The grand powerhouse of the brain is the prefrontal cortex, the executive functioning takes place here.  It's a filter not unlike the mother board of this computer I'm presently tapping.  The prefrontal cortex analyzes data, reads subtleties, and adjusts to conditions.  Remember the old days when your teacher  would give you a little slap on the forehead when she caught you daydreaming?  No?  Maybe it was just me.  She was stimulating the prefrontal cortex and in retrospect I should have thanked her for the abuse.  Try it next time you're losing focus, slap your forehead 3 or 4 times, see if it doesn't get the blood flowing.  Do it now, no one is watching, I'm doing it... slap, slap, slap, slap... feels good right?  It makes the brain spark, yes?  In a marathon we depend on the brain to set a pace that will sustain us for the full 26.2 miles.  It's difficult because the legs are fresh, the heart is strong, and the adrenaline is surging.  It's so tempting to go out fast, too fast.  It's the brain that says: 

"Whoa Mikey, dial it back man, watch your pace...".   

In the same breath the legs yell: 

"Come on Mikey, get the lead out!  Everyone's going 
faster than you, even that barefoot guy, hurry man, hurry....".  

Regrettably, the legs won over the brain .... sigh, again.  I went out too fast.  I was enjoying the ambience, chatting, laughing, and having a grand time.  This is just fine, even admirable... unless you want to improve your time. A good brain will give you a negative split, something I have yet to attain.  A bad brain will give you a 22 minute positive split.  Bad brain, bad!   Now there's a lesson here.. even a goal for my next Mary...slow it down Mikey, look for the elusive negative split.  Listen to the brain from mile 0 through 10.

The legs take us the middle third distance.  If we use our brain in the first third our legs are fresh and strong, they're ready to carry us to mile 20.  The legs represent the 1000+ miles we've trained, the hills, the speed workouts, the long lonely distant runs, the blisters, the set backs, the joy, lots and lots of joy.  The frustration of injuries.  All this is to prepare the legs. The legs are an extension of the brain and are deeply connected to the heart, but they are the powerful engine that propel us ever forward... step by step by endless step.  Blood, adrenaline, and endorphins surge.  Colours and textures flood the brain. The mind is sharp and focussed.  My thinking becomes clear.   I see details in macro view.  My legs move rhythmically to the cadence of my hearts. I feel good... omnipotent even.  My legs are confident, strong, hard.


My legs felt good, really good in fact, to about mile 15.  This is where we approached Mary Hill for the second time in the looped course.  Mary Hill is shown in a couple of pictures below.  It's about 1.5 miles in length and averages out to a 4 or 5% grade.  The first climb at mile 5 was a piece of cake, the second at mile 18 was tough, really tough.  The legs slowed, planked up, became heavy.  I walked a bit, ran a bit, set tiny goals... run to that pole, walk to that tree... I split the hill into manageable chunks because the legs were beginning to sputter. It was a long climb, a slow climb, my brain and my legs were failing me.  As I crested the hill at mile 17 I knew my legs were losing power.  Too early.  I need the legs to get me to mile 20 or 22, but here I am at mile 17, legs thick, brain thick, heart rate too high. Too early to pass the baton to the heart.   The heart can only carry me so far.  It can carry me for the last 5 or 6 miles, but I had 9 remaining.  It's too darn early for the legs to quit, too early to transition to the heart... too early to depend on the heart to take me to the line.

I entered the last third of the marathon 5 miles too early, the final third,  the most difficult portion, the heart.  By heart I mean spirt, drive, determination, resolve... not the organ in your chest. Or is it?  I could sense my heart rate increase to an uncomfortable level.  Too early for that... darn.  Ignore it, keep moving.  The legs ache, the brain's cooked, it's the heart that will get me across the line... that beautiful line, so skinny, a chalk line really, so meaningless to billions, and yet such a goal, such a challenge.  What does the line mean?  Why are we so drawn to the line? David, marathon number 88, says he's always one marathon away from quitting. Bob's barefoot, and enjoying it!.  We hurt damn it.  Why do we do this?  Why are we drawn to the edge?  Hunter Thompson understands.  He says of the edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. We don't run to the line, we over the line, past the line.

So friends, what's it all about?

To laugh? To run?  To dance?  It's the slow dance.. the moment when we surge past the line.  Images flicker like old 8 mm movies, black and white, sun spots, out of focus, powerful imagery.  I exist.  I am alive.  My past is focussed. My future glows before me.  I dance across the line... I dance, we dance, I dance.

But then again, that's just my opinion.

It's a good day to be alive.


Matt Adams 2:23:36

Mary Hill


Bob's soul.

David crossing over the line
Happy Rastafarian Runner. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Treherne Half Marathon, Race Report

Man I like this race!  There's something about the Treherne Half Marathon that makes the world hum a sprightly tune.  Maybe it's the sweet smell of manure wafting across the course, or the endless blue sky and golden fields, or maybe it's just the absence of pavement that makes it all seem, well, just about perfect.  The town folk are as cheerful as they are plentiful.  Smiles and grins abound and are contagious, no, more like uplifting.  Yes, uplifting is the word... yeah, for sure, uplifting indeed.

I entered the race in a frump but my negativity was replaced with endorphins by the time I reached the house with the little old lady plunking out Chariots of Fire on an aging piano.  One could see the notes as they drifted out the open windows and swirled around the runner's feet before they faded into the dusty road ( ok, ok, that last bit was embellishment, but you get my drift, call it blogger's licence).  

It's a technical course in that the gravel roads change from step to step.  Runners look for the sweet spot, that narrow swath well traveld by trucks and free of gravel.  We glide along on the sweet spot until it fades only to be met with a another a few steps over.  Always searching for the sweet spots.  We avoid the sides because the slope of the roads will cause pain to the hips.  The hills are everywhere, but there's one in particular, let's call it OH (insert expletive here...)  _ _ _ _ HILL!  It's a challenge at about 500 meters in length with a 5 or 6% grade and a rise of about 120 to 150 meters.... no small feat, or is that feet?  After that that there's a series of small but long hills, a couple of dozen for sure.  It's difficult to tell if you're running on flat, or a rise, some slopes are so gradual you're unaware until you start to slow and notice an increased heart rate.  I suppose the word de jour is "rolling".  My hill training this past summer paid in dividends today.  

I bumped into Bob on the course and chatted along the way.  He's the barefoot guy in the pictures below.  He's run a couple of full marys and many halfs ala bare feet.  I think he leans more toward trail running, but I'm not sure.  I ran aside him at mile 8 and suggested he join us in Bismarck.  He replied he'd have to think about it.  He did, and by the time he crossed the line about an hour later he gave me the thumb's up. Bob's pretty organized, he had cold Samuel Adams at his vehicle... next time, memo to self, pack a bottle opener.  We did mange to open them and, my oh my, it tasted good.  We chatted, talked about Boon Burger, Bismarck, the winter run across Lake Winnipeg.. which I really want to try next year.  It was good, nice way to end the race.

I wore my No Meat Athlete tee shirt for the first time (see below).  It caused a bit of a stir. Many people, mostly young, loved it and asked where to get one.  That was encouraging.  One runner told me he admired my spunk wearing a No Meat tee in the middle of cattle country.  I did get a couple of sneers or maybe I'm just sensitive, no matter.  I ask because I don't know... can one call themselves an environmentalist and still eat meat?  I think not, but what do I know.     

I also took the opportunity to pass out about 50 Ted's Run Brochures.. my opening line, There's a new race in Winnipeg and it's flat!   This, after the hills of Treherne, got a smile and opened the door for a little discussion about the cause.  Many people said they were interested, but they all had endorphin heads so who knows how many will register?  I chatted with a high school teacher from Treherne and she said she would like to bring her track team.  That would be great; hope it pans out.  

For the geeks.. time 2:01:51, av pace 9:20, heart rate (two hours after race) 70 bpm, blood pressure 96/67 (yes, I have a blood pressure monitor, what don't you!?), bmi 22.8.

Enough talk.. time for some pictures.  Click 'em to make 'em big.   

It was such a beautiful day to be alive, running through fields, chatting with friends, sipping a cold Samuel Adams, a blessing actually.

It is a beautiful day to be alive, you know that, check Bob's face at the finish line if you need confirmation


Monday, August 29, 2011

A 2-4 of Canadians

A few things I've learned about the Bismarck Marathon...
  • I am one of 24 Canadians registered for the Bismarck Marathon.. make that a 2-4 of Canadians, appropriate don't you think?
  • The 2007 winner of The Bismarck Marathon was Bert Menoit of Winnipeg with a time of 2:48:38.
  • The winner of the 1993 and 1994 marathon was Manitoban Andrew Beer (coincidence?) with a time of 2:49:50 and 2:48:38. 
  • The fastest recorded time for the Bismarck marathon was set by Joseph Mahoney from Minneapolis in 2009 with a time of 2:32:50.
  • The infamous hill at mile 5 and 18 is one mile in length with a 4 to 5% grade (that's a rise of 350 feet in 1 mile).
  • There are1300 hundred runners registered so far but the race director expect to top 1900 by race day.
  • This is the first year the course had to be reconfigured due to flooding.
I'm on the downside of my training.  One more long, slow dance next weekend and then Treherne Half the following week, then Race Day!  I plan to run Treherne slow.. please remind me.. the testosterone sometimes get the better of me... guy thing.  

I ran a 22 miler this morning and I felt quite strong at the end aside from the rubbery legs.  I enjoyed my secret post-run chilled concoction and had a lie-down (not a nap... that's for old folks, right?) to rest the legs.  The secret concoction you ask?  

It's a little something I discovered last year that's been very helpful.  First I must explain that I have absolutely NO, zilch, nada appetite following a long run.  I can go 5 or more hours without eating anything after 20+ miles and that's not healthy!  I recognize my body needs to eat something, but food has no appeal until I discovered.. wait for it..

 I drink it over lots of ice and topped off with soy or 1% milk.  I know Boost is usually associated with old folk and retirement homes, but h***, it works and I can literally feel the positive effects within seconds.  A certain person is trying to convince me to mix it into a smoothie with yogurt and fruit, but I'm not convinced.  I'm of the mind 'if it-ain't broke don't fix it'.  I only have this not-so-secret-anymore concoction after a long, hot run or following a long sweaty hill workout.  I'll be packing a couple in my kit-bag for Bismarck.  I understand that most runners are ravenous after a long run and can eat anything (I've seen you and I'm amazed), but for those of you with queasy stomachs like me, give it a try.  Tell 'em Mikey sent you.

My other secret weapon is fig newtons on the course to replace gels.  I have one every 4 to 6 miles and they really do provide energy.  I have a sensitive stomach on long runs and they DO work well for me.  

And finally, a running friend suggested I post this clip on SMR.  It's shows a young Mike in training.  Note the pace and form.  Straight back, high turnover, and such focus.  The rest is destiny!

It was a great day to be alive in 1959 as it is in 2011 (although the bones felt better in '59).


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Seppo Osala collapses on course.

Way to go Sandra.  Your quick thinking saved Seppo.   

It's a good day to be alive, right Seppo?


(click to enlarge)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bismarck ND Marathon... 28 days and counting.

I'm pleased with my training for the Bismarck Marathon.  I've pretty well followed my schedule to a tee minus a couple of dropouts due to fatigue.  I skipped one speed workout a few weeks back because it just didn't feel right and I cut this week's hill workout in half because of full-body fatigue.  The heat's made things tough, but not unbearably so.  I've also decided to take two consecutive rest days prior to the long run on Sunday.  As I mentioned to a friend the other day, it's all fun and games until the training dips into the 20+ mile zone.  This is when the body becomes weary and the potential for injury rises significantly.  This coming Sunday calls for 22 miles.  Last Sunday was 20.  Funny, 22 is still daunting even after all these years of running.  I still get a little anxious; go figure?

Interesting that I haven't had a GU or any other gell for many months.  I've almost entirely switched over to Fig Newtons for my long run energy food.  They're loaded with potassium, quick-burn carbohydrates, and they taste like real food (unlike the Frankenfood I used to consume on long runs).  I pack a half-dozen in a baggy and down them with a slug of Power Aid every 30 minutes or so.  Past symptoms of nausea have disappeared.  In talking to an elite athlete friend of mine she tells me she packs sandwiches, gummy bears, chips, but no gels, on her 50 to 100 mile runs.

Back to the business of Bismarck....

The course has been reconfigured due to flooding in the area.  Full marathoners runs the half-marathon course twice giving a whole new meaning to "twice the distance, half the fun."  This requires the full marathoners to run the hill leading to University of Mary twice, at mile 5 and again at mile 18.  Ouch.  The hill is one mile in length with a 4% - 5% average grade.  A couple of questions...Why is the spike higher in the second hill?  Why is the profile of the two hills different?  I thought it was the same hill.  Not sure what's up here... or down for that matter.  I hear that the view at the crest is amazing.

It's the same hill so why are the profiles different?

The fact that Bismarck is even holding this marathon in light of all that water is a testament to the spirt of the American mid-West.   Kudos to the race director and the team for their courage, dedication, and especially their Joie de vivre.  This will be a race to remember!

This is what your friends are really thinking when their eyes glaze over as you discuss your pace, your resting heart rate, your personal best, your personal worst, protein shakes, your blood pressure, minimalism vs traditional vs barefoot, tempo runs, lsd's, speed, intervals, Garmins, benefits of running, and all that other jargon that keeps us uptight and anxious.  No wonder their eyes glaze.  Non-runners just don't get do they? They don't understand, how could they?

No one understands an injury like the sidelined runner. To all you injured, I understand your frustration.  I know how it hurts.  I appreciate the ache inside that permeates.  Been there.  I get it.

I'll be seeing some of you on Sunday for a slow dance.  Until then, it's a good day to be alive.