Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm Going Under

And if Venice is sinking
I'm going under
'Cause beauty's religion
And its Christened me with wonder

Spirit of the West, And if Venice is Sinking, Faithlift

The legs are strong, the heart pumps, and the calf is behaving like a good calf should.  My goal is to make it to the Fargo Marathon start line on May 19... the rest is in the tea leaves, unknown but hopeful.  I run lonely miles through concrete trails with purpose and devotion to my heart and bones. I am hyper-alert for tweaks and twinges, antecedents for injury.  None come but I remain vigilant.  

Jennifer asks why I am driven so?   She wants to write a guest blog entitled I Hate Pasta. We laugh a comfortable laugh.  We don't understand the whys of what we do, but we accept our difference and we value the diversity in our relationship.  In a card she suggests I haven't yet found what I'm looking for and that's why I run. Maybe she's right, maybe it's about the searching.

I don't have words to describe the joy, the  painful beauty of crossing a line in the sand, and then running beyond that line. It just is.

If Venice is sinking I'm going under.  It's the beauty of the moment and the passion for human perfection that drives me forward... 'cause beauty's religion'.  The need to be all that I am, to look back and fear not that I have given it my all.  I hurt and I get injured along the way.  I make friends and they slip away so I run .. I run to mask the hurt... I run away...I run towards. I run because it makes me feel wonderful in heart and mind. 

Not the superficial wonderful, but the wonderful of life force, the wonderful of a sip of water, the wonderful of running over the white line, the wonderful of a mother's adulation, a father's attention.  

Like the raft, if Venice is sinking I'm going under.

It's a good day to be alive.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Come Running

i said hey, come a running to me
oh, come a running to me
hey, yeah, come a running to me
ya gotta rainbow if you come running to me

Van Morrison, Come Running, Moon Dance

Just a quick update... I'm back running, pain free and slow, but running... and it feels good.  I ran 6 excruciating slow miles on Saturday to test the waters, pain free. I ran a 10 k race on Sunday, slow for the first half and race pace for the second half, pain free.  I just now completed an 8 mile run in cold rainy conditions, again, pain free.  

Fargo Marathon?  

In consultation with my massage therapist and physiotherapist I have a plan:
  • no hills
  • no speed
  • not fartleks 
  • no tempo
  • no time goals for race day
Just miles and miles of long slow distance to build endurance and to strengthen the mind.  How do I feel? Well, thanks for asking. I feel pretty good, even a little optimistic and definitely pleased with my recovery.  

How do I really feel?  


Scared of failure, scared of the distance. 

A good friend of mine says to always respect the distance of the marathon and maintain a healthy fear of the 26.2 miles.  I'm going into this race wrapped in hope and patience. My schedule is day-by-day.  I've got three weeks of catching up and much of it will be solo because I'm on a customized training schedule. 

Fargo is still on the horizon, on a wing and a prayer.

The picture above? ... thought you'd never ask... that's me dancing across a 10 k finish line last Saturday... note, both feet off the ground... I'm airborne. 

It's a wonderful day to be alive.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Wrapped in Hope and Patience

i see skies of blue
clouds of white
bright blessed days
dark sacred nights
and I think to myself
what a wonderful world

Louis Armstrong, What a Wonderful World, What a Wonderful World

Church, St. Francois Xavier, Manitoba

I managed a ride to St. Francois Xavier the other day.  It was a blustery day with the winds blowing hard on my side for much of the way.  Crossing the perimeter bridge off Roblin Boulevard I was up high and completely exposed to  intense gusts.  I pulled in behind a couple of riders and watched their bodies listing port as the wind blew from the right side.  They were leaning a dangerous 50 degrees from plumb and riding slow motion hard into the wall of swirling winds. A rider came fast from behind, suddenly, brilliantly, then was gone from sight... a strong rider with calves thick and hard, a young rider with speed on his mind. 

We are vulnerable to the elements, the wind and the sun.  Airborne dust and sand in the face, breathing evenly, focussed on cadence, concentrating on staying upright and in the saddle.  Buttocks aching, calves pumping, bike tuned to perfection.  What a wonderful moment, what a wonderful world.

The church is my sanctuary. I have visited it often, never entering, always reverent and respectful. I sit on the steps, quietly with water and snack. It welcomes me like a warm blanket, wrapping me in hope and patience.The tombstones are well kept and old... old like the town, old like the church, old like we will become. I am struck with the perfect whiteness of the clouds, the wind swept tree, the Franz Marc blue of the sky, and I think of bright blessed days.

The return was into the wind.  At times I was crawling with teeth clenched and back bent over the frame. It was a hard ride, a real slog measured in inches. I slowed my mind to match my cadence and I drifted into the searing wind. Time slowed and with it came a peace that matched the wind in its intensity.  The gear ratio was down low, granny gear, and it felt wonderful.  

My legs pumping, calves smooth and pain free, breathing evenly.  Thoughts swirled through my mind like the dust vortex by my side.  Good thoughts, sad thoughts, swept away with the north wind. Gone and forgotten.  

It's a good day to be alive.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Embracing the Suck (continued)

... so you dance to the rhythm
bounce to the rhythm
shake to the rhythm
and you roll to the rhythm
sweat to the rhythm
get wet to the rhythm
make love to the rhythm
clean up to the rhythm
when you movin'
you come alive
and when ya grooving in rhythm we survive
so don't panic, don't panic ....

Michael Franti & Spearhead, Hello, Bonjour, Yell Fire

Caution... this is another woeful 'runner-down' diatribe so you might want to click on to a more cheerful blog... after first listening to Hello, Bonjour, of course.
Last Sunday I popped the left calf at mile 17.65 of an 18 mile run. I felt a twinge at mile 6 so I stopped to stretch a few times. By mile 14 or so a pea size ball formed about mid-calf and tightened like a wound up spring. The tightness ramped up until each step became a charlie-horse jab to the calf. I tried that ridiculous half run, half hop, half walk form -you do the math- but even that became unbearable so I limped in the last several blocks. Licking my ego, I made an effort to join others for coffee, but that was short lived, I needed some time alone to think this through.  I slipped out the back entrance like a shadow and drove home. 
On a bright side, I ran the full distance with Irene and that was good; the cheerful chatter whittles away the miles and takes the mind off bum-calfs.
Caution... insert odd streams of consciousness here... 
While driving to Minneapolis last week I saw a HUGE sign on an exit ramp, really huge, it can be seen from Mars, right next to the Great Wall of China and the Chicago Marathon start line: Gas, Food, Liquor. I thought... 'man, the only thing missing is ammo' ... gas, food, liquor, and ammo... an epitaph for red neck minimalism. 
Caution... return to pathetic runner-down diatribe...
I'm presently on full rest for two weeks (but I think it'll be more like three... Ive been down this road before).  I'm on a physio schedule which includes ultra-sound and acupuncture. A massage schedule that includes some pretty excruciating work right at ground zero (she called it unpleasant.. I had a more colourful word rolling through my cerebellum).  I've been told that cycling is ok, but even that felt kind of risky so I resisted the urge for a ride today.  At this present moment it's stiff, not painful, but full bore stiff.  Yesterday I had unsettling little spasms running down my lower leg just below ground zero. Fargo Marathon is still on the horizon, but I'll have to rethink my strategy... remember, my first goal is to make it to the start line.
Caution... my man-allergies always act up when I view this video, hope you have better luck...

Caution... return to sad story (as if the above video wasn't sad enough!)...
My plan B was to ditch Fargo if the calf wasn't healed fully and run Manitoba on June 17, a full month later.  I went to bed smiling at my brilliant planning.  When I mentioned my brillance to Jennifer the next morning over coffee she reminded me that we're attending a wedding on June 17 and unless I can recover by 5 PM she advised against it.. she did agree, grudgingly, that I am brilliant.. just maybe lost a little shine with aging.  My unreasonable side says... stupid day for a wedding!  So, plan C....
Caution... plan c...
Run Manitoba full on June 17, recover, attend wedding.
So friends ... damaged, hurt, wounded, sad, anxious, worried... be patient, don't panic, don't panic, and dance to the rhythm.  In the end, it's all we can do.
It is a good day to be alive, even though it sucks.
:>/ Mike
PS... See Gwen. See Gwen run. Run Gwen run... and never, ever stop.