Saturday, April 30, 2011

Who's the crazy one?

My wife, poor thing, has plans for Sunday that include sleeping in, cuddling with the cat by the fire, drinking coffee while reading the Globe and Mail, watching the Blue Jays, and other crazy, middle class pass-times   Boring!

Me, my plans include running 3.5 miles to the start of the Police Half marathon, running the marathon, and then returning home for a total of 20 miles.  That's fun, right?

Oh, did I mention the forecast?

Sunday Night
Rain changing to snow and blowing snow this evening. 
Risk of freezing rain this evening. Snowfall amount 5 cm. 
Wind northeast 20 km/h becoming northwest 60 gusting to 80 late this evening. 
Low minus 7.

Sunday Morning
Snow ending in the morning then clearing. Amount 2 cm. 
Blowing snow in the morning. 
Wind northwest 60 km/h gusting to 80 diminishing to 40 gusting to 60 
in the morning then 
becoming north 20 early in the evening. 
High minus 1.

My wife thinks I'm crazy to run the half marathon in such conditions, and REALLY crazy to add on another 7 miles.  I think she just doesn't get it.  Now I ask you, settle the argument, who's the crazy one? 

Come on now, work with me!

Good luck to those of you running the Cops Half.  It'll be one for the memory books. One of those what- doesn't-kill-you-makes-you stronger kind of runs.  Smiling through your tears is a good strategy.

It's a good day to be alive, crazy or otherwise.

;>)  Mike

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Learning to Walk

It's a beautiful day 
Sky falls, you feel like 
It's a beautiful day 
Don't let it get away 

It was a beautiful day from start to finish; from the beautiful text message from a friend waiting on my phone at 5:15 AM encouraging me to have a great run, to the pre-run meeting at U of M, to the run itself, to the post-run breakfast, to the many laughs along the trail, to the glorious sun-soaked nap with my cat purring at my side, to this full bodied Californian Paso Robles swirling over my tongue as I blog.  Yes friends, it was a beautiful day.  

To put the day in perspective I draw attention to the 50-ish man walking toward us this morning on Wellington Crescent.  Clearly, he was learning to walk following a stroke. I noticed him from about a block away walking with all the tell-tale signs that indicate stroke recuperation. As we approached, all strong and healthy and confident, I felt him stand taller.  His back straightened, his pace smoothed, his stride lengthened. His movement became visibly fluid as we closed the distance.

As we converged I felt him willing his muscles to fire smoothly.  I felt him say damn it, walk as if to show us that he is one of us; that he too was strong and confident and proud. Our eyes locked as we flashed by on our own separate destinations, his a block or two, mine 23 miles.  We returned a pitiful man-nod that says "hi-ya-buddy" but means nothing. I truly wanted to stop and and grab him by the shoulders and tell him that he's an amazing individual, a strong man, a model for us, a model for his children.  But I didn't, the man-code forbids this behaviour.  Instead, my thoughts turned to the preciousness of life and the will to be strong and viable.  It was a beautiful moment textured gently into a beautiful day.

We departed from U of M at about 7:15 AM and ran the marathon route minus 3 miles.  The weather was idyllic and the company, our little group of dreamers, continues to gell.  The trust we show one another is evident of a strong and passionate group.  The laughter comes freer and more honestly than weeks previous.  We are focussed and we discuss strategy, but we're more about the moment, more about the journey (cliche alert), we are runners.

At mile 18 or 19 the muscles start to ache and the legs become leaden. If one is going to bonk this is usually the distance that it starts.  This is where your brain becomes susceptible to negativity. This is where the race begins to suck and defeatist thoughts creep into the brain.  Bill reminded us of the power of "embracing the suck".  Yes, your body hurts.  Yes, it would be nice to stop.  Yes, life sucks here and now.  The power in embracing the suck is to use all this negativity is a way that will help and not hinder.  Thus, embrace the suck. Use it to propel yourself forward. Embrace it. Accept it. Understand that it's part of the life force of running a marathon.  

Yes, the life force... it's all we have.  

It was beautiful day.


PS  The U2 song, Beautiful Day was played at the start of the 10.10.10 Chicago Marathon.  So appropriate!

It's a good day to be alive, eh?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Police Half Marathon Bib For Sale

A friend of mine has injured herself and is not able to run the Police Half Marathon on May 1.  Please contact me via comment section below if you're interested in purchasing the bib or if you know someone who might be interested.

The weekend weather looks promising!  Got a 23 miler on Sunday.  We leave from P lot at the U of M at 7 AM, Sunday.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Geoffrey Mutai wins Boston

Kenyan, Geoffrey Mutai won the Boston Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds beating Hailie Gebrelassie's time by 57 seconds.  A new world record?


The International Governing body does not recognize Mutai's time as a world record because Boston is a net downhill course and there was a strong tail wind for much of the race.  I expect we'll be hearing more from Mutai; he's tasted the victory and my guess is he found it, oh,  so succulent.

Another Kenyan, Caroline Kilel won the women's course with a time of 2 hours, 22 minutes, 36 seconds.

Kilel and Mutai each earn US$150,000 for the win, and Mutai gets $50,000 for the world best and another $25,000 for the course record.

It's a grand day to be alive.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Running Gracefully

Canadian Ed Whitlock set a new 80 and over world marathon record with a time of 3:25:40 at the Rotterdam Marathon last Sunday.  His world record annihilated the previous record set by Australian, Robert Horman in 1998 by over 14 minutes.  Bill and I were talking about Ed on this morning's run.   Bill has met Ed and had the opportunity to ask him about his training schedule.  Ed replied (I paraphrase) "What schedule?  I run around the cemetery.  As long as I'm on top, the training is going well". 

The image of Ed running amongst tombstones is such beautiful irony.  It makes me smile and it makes we glow with pride for the potential of humanity.  Mind, body, spirit all working in perfect harmony.  There's a place for Ed in that old cemetery, but not yet, not by a long shot. I suggest we all do one extra hill repeat next week in honour of Ed.  

Everyone is the age of their heart. 
Guatemalan Proverb

We ran 15.5 chilly ones this morning.  Bruce, Cheryl, and Jim added on another 6 to break 21 miles.  Aside from the chill it was another very successful training run through Old Fort Garry, The University of Manitoba, Linden Woods and alongside Bishop Grandin Parkway. We got a little twisted around for the last part, but we were soon back on track.  Upon Bill's lead we tried channelling the sun gods through pop songs with the word sun appearing in the title; Here Comes the Sun, Keep on the Sunny Side,  Good Day Sunshine, California Sun, House of the Rising Sun,You are My Sunshine.. none of them really helped, but I did feel a little warm glow while singing ... 

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy, when skies are gray
You'll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

Speaking of warm glows and all things running, here's a clip that will leave you smiling.  The connection to running?  Does there really have to be a connection?  If I stretched it I could draw parallels to fluidity of movement, the desire to achieve greatness, the triumph of success over fear, the fear of falling, the ability to pick your self up, dust your self off, start over again, the exhilaration of movement, the clarity of mind, the pride, the after glow, the confidence of achievement... but then again, it's just a kid on a swing in my neighbourhood filmed lovingly by a dad.  Let's leave it at that.

Run hard, swing hard, become all that you can be.  To those of you injured, take heart, this too will pass.

It's a good day to be alive, especially if your a kid on a swing.  


PS A huge shout out to my friends Chris from Toronto and Vivian from Winnipeg who are both running the Boston marathon on Monday.  Run like the wind!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Running Toward the White Light

Haile Gebrselassie
Berlin Marathon
In my previous post, Marathon by the Numbers, the photo suggests that another person achieved the world's fastest marathon time.  The picture shows a Caucasian runner with Haile's name and time in the caption just below his feet suggesting he's the dude that shattered the 2 hour, 4 minute marathon. I'd like to clear up any misconception, after all Haile is my hero.

Here's the actual picture of Haile crossing the line in Berlin in 2008 with an astounding time of 2 hours, 3 minutes, 59 seconds.

Let's consider 2 hours, 3 minutes, 59 seconds to put in to perspective.
  • 123 minutes, 59 seconds
  • 7,439 seconds
  • 283.93 seconds per mile
or, cut to the chase, Haile sustained an average pace of 4 minute, 43 second per mile for the full duration of the marathon.  Next time you're trying a speed work out try to maintain that pace for 1 mile!

Go here for what it would take to smash the 2 hour marathon.

Go here for Haile's retirement announcement (bring tissues, it's sad).

We had an excellent 21 mile run today (our average pace was just slightly slower than Haile's ;>).  All in all it was a great day, dry pavement, cloudy, cool, and a little humid.  If only race day would have such favourable condition.

Quote of the day..

"We run toward the white light, the white light of enlightenment".

It was, and still is, a really great day to be alive.

Peace and strong legs to all of you.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Garbage Hill in pictures

My first hill work out of the season.  Blue sky, warm sun, strong legs, excellent friends, what more could a guy ask for.  This series of pictures shows the Triangle Loop.  It a 0.13 mile triangular loop that starts at the base and climbs the steepest portion of the hill.  The path is well worn and muddy near the bottom, but dry just outside of the worn path.  We did 3 Triangles plus an additioanl 5 (or more) Loops of the Cul de sac.  Go here for a description of Garbage Hill's 7 trails.  Enjoy the pictures (click 'em to enlarge 'em).  

Yes friends, it's a good day to be alive!


PS  If you look closely in the top left corner of picture # 5 you'll see some Canada Geese overhead... a sure sign of spring!

Check out those calves.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 7, 54.6 miles

Tough run today!  More later... gotta lay down.  :>)  M
Later that day sipping a very nice 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley ...

Yes, a tough run but a really, really good run.  Depending upon who you speak to it will be remembered as the most miserable run ever or the most challenging, character building run of a life time.  I choose the latter.

The coldness and the wetness and the icy north winds and the terrible footing tested the limits of endurance!  There's sort of a machismo feeling one gets from completing such a run upright and smiling.  Not sure what the female equivalent to machismo might be, but in this context I'm confident the word applies equally to the amazing women in our group.

Early in the run we gingerly skipped over and around puddles, but by mile 10 onward we didn't alter our course .. it was full bore, straight on plow through all puddles.  It was actually kind-of liberating and childlike.  I could have sworn I heard my mother chastising me Betty Draper style to get out of the puddles.

Our group leader, Bernie, nicknamed this run April Foolish run.  At the corner of Waverly and Route 90 (mile 15-ish) while waiting for the light to change all 9 of us instinctively formed a group hug to protect ourselves from the elements.  It was a moment I will cherish; 9 sopping wet, chilled to the bone adults came together in a most tender and supportive way.  The warmth was short but so very sweet.

We soldiered on mostly in silence save the odd expletive from behind.  As Bill pointed out there were many random acts of kindness along the route from cars slowing to avoid splashing, to silent hugs of support, from kind words to perk the dwindling spirits.

Yes friends, it was a good day, a good day to be alive, a good day to be out in the world, a good day to run. It reminds me of a line from a song by the Magnetic Fields, "I'm the luckiest guy on the lower east side.".  Think irony.

We could have cried.  We Laughed.  We could have quit.  We ran.  I'm so glad it's over.  I'm so blessed that I am able to accomplish what i jus did.  Many can't.  This run is for them.