Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hypothermic Half Marathon 2012 Race Report

Another hypo, number 4 or is it 5... no matter, it was a good one, a hypo-pb fo me and that feels smart.  This makes up for the disappointing dnf in 2009. In life there is balance and it's a good thing. It was the wind from the north east that brought the temperature down to -22... yup, cut-like-a-knife nasty wind, but only outbound, homebound the wind was mostly at our backs.  The wind also brought fresh snow that made the footing slippery and unpredictable, but we've run in worse, way worse. 

As we looped the parking lot outbound I considered pulling out. It just didn't feel right. I was thinking of walking back to my car, still warm, and heading home to bed.  I felt heavy and my normal race-spirit was missing. My right quad was plank-ish from yesterday's massage. It came down to a split second decision ... turn left to the course or right to the car. Left won but it was close. Mind over matter as Melissa says... the mind runs the race, the body is just the vessel that we use to dance forward toward the line.

I fell into stride resisting the urge to pull ahead, I tried to lock into a 9:30 pace thinking a negative split was needed for a sub 2. My legs wanted to go faster, it would have preferred an 8:00 - 8:30 pace, but my mind slowed the body whenever it drifted away from the 9-mark. I found my stride and my spirit lifted and I felt the strength returning to my heart and bones. I was confident in my stride and my pace was sustainable, head up, core strong, arms pumping "hi ho" style as Connie would say with a smile (she has such a lovely smile don't you think?). 

David was volunteering about 1k from the finish line.  As I approached him, he said to me calmly "I think you're going to get your sub-2 Mike. Keep it up."   It was all that I needed to push forward and soar to the line, that beautiful line, the line in the sand as George Carlin said.  I owe my gratitude to David for he was there when I really needed him and he said just the right words in just the right tone.  Thank you David.

So friends, another race to prove we can, another slow dance to show we have heart and bones, and another line that we cross gracefully and with purpose... the line in the sand that we cross with heart pumping and face glowing.

Oh my, oh my oh my... it's a beautiful day to be alive.


Go here for race results. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Running in circles

last night you were in my dreams
oh heart and bones
and when i woke up you were next to me
oh heart and bones

blood is red and the sky is blue
oh heart and bones
and i've never met anyone like you
oh heart and bones

The Pines, Heart and Bones, Tremolo

I find myself running in circles, short tight circles that drift outward into large soft oblong loops as the miles click by and by.  I run tight circles when my mind is troubled with thoughts that sadden, uncontrolled destinies, fleeting friendships, feelings of helplessness.
The thoughts turn around and around like spokes on a wheel, fast and blurred. In time and miles they soften and become not-quite-focused. They remain unresolved but accepted and become my heart and bone.  

We have friends who are ill and we are helpless. We have friends who hold their sick children tight under covers of darkness and we are helpless.  Our actions become vessels of compassion, a text, a smile, a coffee, a hug... it's all we can do really... as our eyes well and our hearts choke. 

Be there for your friends, have them in your thoughts as you run.  It's all we can do and it means the world. It's all we can do.

Random thoughts include...

I have two goals: 1) make it to the start line 2) make it to the finish line.  All others are just too damn complicated.

Running speed work on a treadmill watching Elen Degeneres  in winter is a luxury.

Saturday 7AM runs from the Duck Pond are a good thing.

I like Melissa's quote "running is my own creation".  It points me in the right direction.

Today Irene ran 14 miles and it is a celebration.  Tomorrow she will run 16, then 18, then 20..., but today she ran 14 and that is all that needs to be said.

Barefoot Bob has signed up for the Canadian Death Race, 100 miles of life altering, unadulterated ecstasy.  Go here for the deets.   

Jo is healing... slowly.

We think of Gwen, sweet darling Gwen.

Lo Pub Bistro at 330 Kennedy, Winnipeg is a gift to the vegetarian/ vegan community. They also host a gorgeous draught pale ale.

Ted's Run is confirmed for October 21... mark your calendars!  We need volunteers so e-me if interested.

And if you screw up, don't be afraid to apologize... 

It's a good day to be alive,


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Melissa Budd "Running is my own creation"

“You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.” 
Christopher McDougall, Born To run

This is the third and final interview with Melissa.  See the previous two blogs for the full story.   MB

Hey Mike

Sinister isn't raw anymore - I am a little annoyed at myself for spending that much time going there, paying the entry fee and then not getting the whole experience (like going to Disney and leaving at lunch time).  The first 10 miles at Sinister were beautiful; I was stoked despite getting an hour sleep the night before (the pre-race talk about cougars and bears was probably meant to be funny - they even had real taxidermies up on stage but it scared the crap out of me).  We ran through Blairmore and then through the haunting "Frank Slide" (the town that got crushed under a rockslide in 1903 at 4:30 in the morning).  Was having a great time coming into the first aid station at mile 10.  They didn't have much there (twizzlers and oranges) - I was expecting more like lean horse - chips, sandwiches, grapes, potatoes, coke.  Anyway, grabbed some candy, refilled water bottles (David's friend James was there cheering us on and was great helping us out with the water bottles) and got out of there.  

The next section was harder - lots of uphill, but nothing crazy.  My issues came on the down-hills.  They were steep and technical.  I trained for long distances....did down-hills at garbage hill (even the back side of the hill), but these were nothing like what I was running down.  I fell a few times, got a little scraped up (especially on my back) - but the thing that did me in was how other people seemed to "bound" down the hills.  It was like they were nothing!  I got really down on myself.  I knew if I didn't start going faster down these things I was going to trash my quads (you can't halt down the hill - you have to go with gravity).  It made me feel worse that David had to keep waiting for me.  In hindsight, we should have agreed to run with each other until we couldn't anymore - but we said we were going to run together (the cougar and bear talk REALLY freaked me out).  So, in my mind "everyone was a better runner than me" and "I can't keep weighing my friend down with my crappiness" I told him I was done.... I couldn't run anymore.  Yes I was tired.....but I could have taken so much more.  Had I gone 6 more miles, there would have been a flat section which would have lifted my spirits (I can run all day on the flats).  I just didn't want to deal with it anymore.  I told David to go on to the next aid station.  If I didn't get a ride back, he would get them to send some help.  So he left and there I sat.  I started to feel better and probably could have started again if I could have stopped being so hard on myself.  I was mentally out of it.  As you probably know, it is easier to get back up physically than mentally (for the most part).  I had parked myself on the edge of a dirt road and a truck came by with a couple who were there crewing for a friend.  They asked if I needed help.  To that I said, "Yes!  Thank you!"  Got a ride back to the next aid station and waited for David to come in.  He looked pretty strong and I told him he should keep going - but he said he had it in his mind that he was done.  So we collected our stuff and James and went out to dinner (after a shower of course).  I felt depressed for weeks after.  I never ever thought I would make a choice to stop - I believed that I would keep going until I didn't make the time cut off - I believed I would literally crawl (if I had to) to finish.

I now chalk the experience up to a "costly mistake of comparing myself to others".  I was focusing so hard on what I couldn't do I really lost sight of what I could do (which was "put one foot in front of the other"...not rocket science).  I could have put one foot in front of the other for a long time (physically) - mentally I couldn't.   This is why I don't have running goals (as for time).  I don't want to repeat this mistake.  I don't want to put it in my mind that I'm going to run this race in 3:50.... maybe that particular day I can't run it in 3:50...why focus on something I can't do?  I know I can run 26.2 miles.... I’ve done it often enough...I'm going to focus on being present in the moment.  I'm not discounting my past accomplishments - it felt pretty damn good taking 20 min off my best marathon time last year- but those times, the PRs aren't what motivate me to run more or train harder.  I run for the experience.  I run for the present.  I don't need time to make me feel good about myself.  I know this is easier said than done but it is so freeing to unapologetically run.  Part of my evolution I suppose.  

I liked your description of the cyclist - to see him "in the moment", I could almost see him myself.  I understand when you talk about feeling "giddy" when you run sometimes - I feel it too.  My best runs are not my fastest runs.  The best ones are those when I feel like there is no place in the world I would rather be than running down this country road, the sun shining on my back and reflecting off the snow....savouring the feeling - knowing that it is fleeting but appreciating it so much more because I know it will end.  Nothing gold can stay.


Hey Mike,
You asked me "Why do you run?", but not, "Why do you like to run?"  I think that reflection has to be one of my top 5 reasons I like running.

Sometimes I reflect on outward things like,   snow heavily lying on branches, why animals stop and stare at me when I run by, and why I hadn't ever noticed how windy this world is until I started running outside. Often I'll reflect on people I know - or who I've known - I'll listen to music and reflect on what those words mean to me.  Sometimes I don't reflect at all - that is when the run is purely physical - which is also a good thing.  Each run is so different.  I was thinking about that today while I was running.... how it is like an artistic expression of myself. Each run is uniquely my own....I mould it...I create it...

I looked up the definition for "art" from Britannica, it defines art as "the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others."   Immediately I thought of your blog.The way you use your skill (of writing) and imagination (in your pictures and ideas)  creates an environment and experience that can be shared with others.  What you do is art.  

Anyway, thank you for sharing your art with me.  I'm a better person for it.


Hi Melissa,
I never considered myself an artist, but the thought flatters me.  Thank you Melissa.  I so like what you wrote below. The time that running allows us to reflect.  We expose ourselves to the environment when we run outdoors and we become vulnerable to what lies before us. It's the vulnerability that makes us child-like.  Maybe that's why were happier when we run, we become more child-like, more vulnerable, more able to let our minds imagine and see. You're right, each run is uniquely my own… I mould it… I create it.  The most important thing about running for you is reflection.  I like that, and I agree.  Those are powerful words Melissa.  You have much to say.

You say reflection is one of the top five reasons you like to run.  Can you share another one? You have a wonderful day.  

Hey Mike,
It's entirely selfish... I run for myself....I don't do it to be a good role model (although if people find me inspiring - I think that is flattering), I don't run for my health (although it is a nice side effect), and I don't run to fulfill  anyone's expectations of me.  Running is my own creation.  I don't have to follow anyone's rules.  If I want to run at 1am - I can (providing someone is looking after my kids), if I don't want to taper - I don't have to.  If I want to run when I'm sick - I'll do it.  If I want to run 100 miles or more - that is my choice.  I have no rules when I'm running...

Life is filled with so many impositions.  Running is a decision I make that is free from that.  It is selfish and indulgent - and that is probably why I love it so much : ).

Some people say "selfish" like it is a bad thing - but I think it is important to have things in your life that you do unapologetically for yourself.  I certainly wouldn't want the "selfish" things in my life take over the majority of my time - but I figure an hour a day and a few hours on the weekend is not an excessive thing.  Running helps me think - it makes me get outside and enjoy how beautiful the world is - it connects me with wonderful people - it is something I  selfishly cherish.  

Melissa on why she ran every day, minimum 6 miles, for 12 months...

I wanted to see what it would do for me.  Would I be stronger?  Would I injure myself?  Would I have the willpower to do it?  Would it get easier? If I could do it....what would I do January 1st 2012?  Lots of unknowns.  I had to find out what it would be like to MAKE running a part of my way...of my EVERY day.  I never asked the question in 2011, "am I going to run today?" it was, "when am I going to run today?"  It's a change in thinking.

The really cool thing about the year is that my 10 year old daughter told me( January 1st) - she was going to run a mile a day...every day.  Wouldn't that be a cool thing for people to catch on to?  10 min a day... The cooler thing is that she has done it for 22 days now.  

Anyway....I hope you didn't think I was saying this is something you should (or shouldn't do) - everyone has to do what is right for them.  From your note I thought it was something you were thinking about.  Hope this answers the question of "why"  (I suppose I could have answered "why not?" but apparently I am too wordy of a person to use that response!

; ) Melissa

Update... Melissa's 11 year old daughter has run every day for the last 43 days, total distance, 43 miles, and counting.  How high can she go?  Now that's spunk.
Thank you Melissa for sharing some of your thoughts.  You are an inspiration to me.  I look forward to the next time our little feet cross on the trails. 

It is, would you not agree, a good day to be alive?


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Melissa Budd; Sinister Seven

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.”   
Christopher McDougall; Born To Run

This is part 2 of a 3 part post.  See previous post for full story.  MB

January  20
Hey Mike,
I have a few minutes, so here is my running "bio"

I have always had some sort of running in my life.  It mostly consisted of running anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour a few times a week at certain times of my life.  I would go for long periods of time with not running, but always seemed to return back to it in some sort of capacity.  I wouldn't consider myself a "runner" in the past however.  I was running to  a) lose weight b) ease my guilt because my friend Krista said we should or c) alleviate boredom.   I didn't really appreciate the true sense of what it is to run.  I somewhat enjoyed it but I did it as a means to achieve something else. 

This changed when I met David Fielder.  David was a teacher at the school where I was just hired.  He was (and remains) a "quirky" individual.  Since I'm drawn to the unusual....we got along great and he became a much needed friend. I found out that David ran marathons.  Not just one or two.....more like 40-50.  I didn't even know how long a marathon was!  Anyway, he told me they were great fun and that I should try one.  I thought he was crazy.....but crazy is kind of fun.  He told me he would help me train by making me a running schedule.  If we started in March (2008) I could run the full in June....there was even the police half in May.  So I started in March.  I followed the schedule he made for me (but did more on the long run days).  He said I would hurt myself - but I was getting so pumped on doing more milage.  I remember hitting the 16 mile mark on a long run - I broke down and cried.  For some reason, reaching 16 miles represented a monumental achievement (even when I run a marathon now - I look forward to mile 16 - sentimental).  In short, the half was hard (but I did it!  time was 2:20 something).  When I ran the Manitoba marathon in June - quirky David made me a "Marathon Virgin" shirt (I've never heard so many people sing "like a Virgin" to me before).  Ever since, I've been hooked!  I ran more and more marathons, with a few halfs here and there.  

Things took more of a turn when David ran the Canadian Death race.  It was a 76 mile run in the Rockies.  THAT sounded impossible!  I couldn't believe he was attempting such a distance.  I wished I was running too.  He finished the race (what an accomplishment).  I had to try one.  I scoured the internet and found an ultra in South Dakota - the Lean Horse 100.  I wanted to try the 50 miler (the 100 mile race seemed too "elite" for me).  I trained by doing doing back to back longruns every week.  The race came.  It was the hardest thing I ever did.  50 miles in 14.5 hours on August 2009 -  slow, but I was so elated to finish.  The next year I tried the 100....again....the hardest thing I had ever done.  I ran the 100  miles in 28.5 hours.  I was hooked in a different way.  When you run all day, "running" takes on a different life.  It is so much different than the marathon.  It is hard to explain - but I would really like to when I have more time.

David and I entered the "Sinister 7" (an ultra in Alberta) last year(2011).  It was my first DNF.  I will have to explain that in more detail when I have more time (I know I already said that).  It was a hard thing to take.  For someone who "never quits", it was a harsh reality check that I wasn't as invincible as I thought I was.  It also clued me into the fact that so much of running is mental.  Once you have checked out mentally - the physical can't compensate.  My body could have taken so much more - but my spirit was broken.  My "Sinister" wound took a long time to heal.  I told myself I wasn't going to do ultras anymore....they were stupid...who runs this much anyway?....I am not going to subject myself to running any longer!  

After the hurt subsided, I realized I was just angry at letting myself get taken out.  I was comparing myself to others in the race and coming up short every time.  I needed to run Lean Horse again.  I needed to run it on my terms.  So, less than 2 months after my DNF, I ran a wonderful race... 100 miles in 24.75 hours (45 min off running 100 miles in a day).  

2011 was also the year that I ran every day, at least six miles, every day.  I ran after my DNF (thank David for that one....he made me do it when I was ready to give up running forever), I ran after my 100 miler, I ran for months in the freezing snow....every day.  I don't know exactly what made me want to do it - probably a "I want to see if I can".....  This last year has certainly evolved my running in so many ways.

Anyway Mike,  I'm not sure if this is what you were going for (or if you just wanted races and stats) but let me know.  I have to go but I look forward to writing more of this down....It is kind of cathartic....
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience it.


PS  By the are never to old to run....I look forward to the day when I am like Ed Whitlock or the Fauja Singh - the turban tornado.....who said you can't be 100 and run a marathon!

January 21
Hi Melissa, 
Your story is so interesting and has peaks and valleys. I can't imagine running a minimum of 6 miles a day for six months, but I am intrigued. I know the Sinister 7 was a valley for you, a real deep one, but how you survived is amazing, running the Lean Horse ultra (100 miles) in 24.75 hours two months after your Sinister Seven DNF is a remarkable achievement.

Mile 16 is interesting. You broke down and cried when you first achieved this distance and you still look forward to that marker. It's interesting how we become emotional as the miles increase. What happens to us? I sometimes find my eyes welling up at times when my body and mind are approaching exhaustion. Sometimes, like yesterday, my eyes tear up with the sheer beauty of what lies before me. I become overwhelmed with the moment, it can be so intensely beautiful.  Yesterday, on the river trail, close to sun down, I stopped running and watched a cyclist approach me from about 400 meters away. He was moving very fast, with a huge ball of blinding sun behind him. He was a silhouette. He had a mask and looked like a warrior from another age. Plumes of smoke trailed behind and he was all shiny in the sun and snow. I stood in the middle of the trail as he passed me within inches. Not sure why I'm telling you this....  I look forward to these experiences and I open my mind to receiving them.  Maybe it's the same as your mile 16.

You broke down and cried when you realized you couldn't move forward at Sinister Seven. Can you say more about the moment that you realized you were not able to complete your dream run? As I recall it was around the 45 mile mark, yes? Tell me about the moment you stopped running. Your body and mind and spirit were broken. Can you paint this picture? Maybe it's too difficult a memory? Maybe you don't want to go there, maybe its still too raw an emotion, and that's ok too.

You say "...when you run all day, running takes on a different life. It's so much different than a marathon.".  Yes, for sure it's different. It's an amazing experience I would think. I would love to get into your head on this one. Tell me about that piece of the journey. What goes on in your head, to run in darkness, to be completely exhausted with 40, 30, 20, 10 miles to go. How do you do this? What sustains you? Do you see your life in flashes? Do you learn things about yourself? Again, Melissa, no obligation.

I always knew you had a story tell, I just didn't realize how amazing it would be!

It's a good day to be alive.


PS... Yes, David is a whole other story that needs to be told.  I've got a bit of a hero crush on him, but don't tell him, it'll go right to his head!   ;>)

... to be continued...