Monday, July 25, 2011

My Back Yard

My running has taken on a life of its own.  It goes like this...Monday rest, Tuesday hills, Wednesday 6-8 mile tempo, Thursday speed, Friday rest, Saturday 6 to 8 mile tempo, Sunday long-slow-distance.  My current training has me running between 42 and 50 miles a week.  I have two goal races; Treherne Half Marathon on September 10 and Bismark Full Marathon on September 17.  I would be tempted to add Twins City Marathon to the list if a bib happened to fall on my lap.  Beyond that... who knows?  

Aside from the Sunday long runs, all my training has been solo leaving me oodles of time to reflect and take stock, to sort out family issues, to dream, to feel the cadence of my heart, to soak up the succulent coolness of a breeze or, to just be at peace. Mostly to be at peace.  This is why we run, yes? To be at peace?  To get away?  We run for many reasons, no two alike, yet all are the same.   We run in pursuit of serenity, we run for a glimpse of peace.  We run to mask pain, to search for a truth, to ditch a bad relationship, to move forward, to dig ourselves out of a hole, to escape a memory, to reconcile a regret.  

Initially we run to lose weight or to get fit, or to accomplish a life milestone,  but over time we grow outward and beyond and the reasons for running become more subtle and more complicated, more individualistic. It becomes less about time and more about self, less about goals and more about serenity, less about achievement and more about being alive and being at one with your body, your mind, and your spirit.  

A good run soothes the sharp edges of life.  A good run brings contentment and peace within, it brings clarity of mind and it makes the body hum.  A good run meanders through the back yard of our brains. 

 If you're interested in pursuing this theme a little deeper you might want to read The Memory of Running.   It's a good read, sad and funny, sometimes in the same breath.

Me?  I run because I'm afraid to stop. 

Here's the back yard of my brain.

It's a good day to be alive, in the backyard of my brain.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Speed Workout #1

Thursdays are speed workouts and today was my first in a long time.  Whew, I had forgotten how tough they are!

I did a slow 1 mile run to Halter Park next to Olmand's Creek.  While setting my watch for intervals I was approached by a woman -40ish- on a bicycle asking if I had seen a man sitting, a man with glassess she explained.  I replied yes I had but he had left several minutes earlier.  I pointed in the direction.  She explained that she told him to wait while she fetched coffee.  She looked distraught as she peddled off in the direction I pointed.  Kinda weird, but still well within the whatever category.

I started my workout:
  • Part 1:  30 seconds sprint/ 30 seconds recovery x 6 sets
  • Part 2:  2 minutes hard run/ 2 minutes recovery run x 6 sets
My sprint pace maxed out at 5.08 m/m with an average of about 6 m/m and my recovery pace was a walk.  After a few slugs of water I started part 2 of the speed work out; the harder of the two.  I managed to maintain a sub 7 m/m for all 6 hard runs.  My recovery pace was a walk for 1.5 minutes, then a 30 second slow run before the beeper signalled the start of the hard run.  

These are tough workouts and, honestly, not my favourite.  Dean Kriellaars says "Becoming a stronger runner is about getting rid of your weaknesses more than making your strengths stronger."  Clearly, speed workouts are my weakness.

Total distance = 6 miles.  i.e. 6 hard, sweaty, almost puked kinda miles.  Satisfying though.

Oh, and the 40-ish women looking for her lost soul?  She passed me on her bicycle sobbing mid-way through my workout.  Another runner and I stopped and chatted about sobbing lady.  We were wondering what to do.  Just then the man with glasses appeared and they embraced, happy and snuggly.  They sat down at the bench and had coffee.  I continued my work out but when I left she was sobbing again, in his arms.


It is a glorious day to be alive, sobbing lady aside.



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Glory Be To Life

Just because I've been a blogger-slacker for the past while doesn't mean I've been a runner-slacker.  I managed a respectable sub-two at the MB half marathon a few weeks ago and I'm currently training for Kroll's Diner Bismark, North Dakota Full Marathon on September 17.  It's an out and back course along the Missouri River Valley that's been reconfigured because of flood waters.  I was intending to run Queen City but by the time I got around to registering it was sold out.  A quick Google search later and I'm signed up for Bismark.

Come on down!  It's a BQ, inexpensive, flat, scenic, and 1,643 feet above sea level (or about 900 feet higher than Winnipeg).  That's nosebleed country for us flat-landers.

My training officially started on July 1, but I've been ramping up the miles ever since I ditched the sticks about a month ago.  I had my first hill work out yesterday at our beloved Garbage Hill; 3 loops, 3 humps, and 3 lumps for a total distance of 7.5 miles. It's good to be back at it, strong and focussed.

I was driving my wife to the Art Gallery this morning and we stopped at a red light.  A man, about 60 - 65 walked slowly across the 3 lanes.  He was thin, very very thin.  A strong gust would have knocked him over.  His skin was that placid, grey putty colour of the perpetual sick, the dying. I felt for him as he shuffled by, slow and lost in thought, lost in life.

Glory be to life in the highest.  Today I ran 7 sweaty, hard, fast, urban miles on pavement and trails and the epiphany -the high- washed over me and cleansed my heart and soul.  I was, for a brief moment, a sliver of time,  omnipotent.  I am very happy for my health, very content in my skin.  Glory be to life in the highest.

It is a stunningly beautiful day to be alive, to run, to be healthy, to just be at one with self.