Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Running Fully Charged

Today you were far away
And I didn't ask you why
What could I say
I was far away
You just walked away
And I just watched you
What could I say
About Today, The National, Cherry Tree

A couple of weeks ago the battery of my trusty iPod shuffle died. It's about 3 or 4 years old and cost me about $40 so I figure  it doesn't owe me a penny.  Do the math; $40 divided by 3500 miles = $0.0114 / mile.  Not a bad investment.  When I told my son Max that I was planning to toss it and buy a new one he objected.  He's terribly concerned about e-waste and other environmental issues as many young people are these days.  I remember quoting David Suzuki to Max when he was a little lad (I paraphrase)...
...the previous generations have created enormous environmental messes.  This generation of young people is the last possible generation that can clean it up. Unlike previous generations, they don't have an option, it can't be ignored...
When I told him I was planning on tossing the old iPod and buying a new one he asked why I would not just change the battery.
Old man: Hmm, never thought of that.

Young lad: That's the trouble with your generation, you simply toss things away without thinking of the consequences.

Old man, sheepishly: Hmm, you're right.

That's when the David Suzuki quote came back to haunt me.  

My son ordered a new battery online for $6.00 and had it installed and charged within several days.  It's good for another 3000 to 4000 miles. 
The old iPod before undergoing open heart surgery.
The environmentalist at work.
So friends -damaged, injured, healthy, sad - don't toss the old iPod, camera, phone... change the battery! It's a good day to be alive and running fully charged.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Manitoba Half Marathon 2012

The truth is when I was your age I was in no need of advice. 
I knew everything. My world was filled with certitudes. But 
when you get to be my age, you realize you know nothing. 
Doubts are the unhappy rule.
Mordecai Richler
addressing McGill University graduating class of 2000

The 34th Manitoba Marathon was a fine day for a run, truly wonderful actually. 13,667 runners, 762 fulls, 4228 halves, 1637 10 k's, 3345 super runners (2.6 miles), and 3965 relay runners.  Race Director Shirley Lumb hopes to top 20,000 runners in 2013. Is she dreaming!?  

Yes, of course she is but what a powerful dream.

Imagine 20,000 runners converging on the streets of Winnipeg... parents with strollers, families, grandparents with walkers,  school aged runners, runners with wheel chairs, runners with all sorts of abilities. People running with confidence and pride. All of us, running, smiling, talking to random strangers. A critical mass of unsurpassed positive energy... a community of health and good cheer. That's what I like about this race, it dreams big!  Shirley, you dream on, dream big, dream really big. We believe in you.  

Yes, the Manitoba Marathon is big and clumsy and it doesn't have enough porta-potties. Yes, the dry-clothing drop off is too far from the start line. Yes, the start line is confusing. Yes, it's traditionally a hot and humid run and the fan support is luke warm. Yes, that damn Bishop Grandin bridge is a killer and did I mention the luke warm fan support ?  With all its warts and bruises though, it's our race and we should be proud.

We should be proud because it attracts thousands of families and kids that would otherwise be sedentary. Proud because it builds community. Proud because by participating we demystify ugly stereotypes some hold of people with intellectual disabilities. Proud because it's ours. Yes friends, we should be proud of the Manitoba Marathon and we should be thankful for race director Shirley Lumb who isn't afraid to dream big. 

A friend shared a story about running the Manitoba full marathon in his father's shoes, one size too big. His father was once strong. He became old. He stumbled with increasing  frequency.  He used a walker for support but even that failed near the end. He was raised in a time of austerity, the Great, Depression, when pennies were the gold standard.  His shoes were three for $50... Walmart specials with made-in-China knock off Adidas stripes. My friend took his father to a his favorite athletic store to purchase a "real fine pair of runners" for his dad.  Like Cinderella, the shoes fit heavenly and my friend's dad wore them with pride and showed them off ... look at the shoes my son bought for me... He managed a few miles in them before he passed.  

Weeks later my friend wore those shoes, one size too big, on Father's Day to run a marathon. A metaphor for life, to walk a mile in his shoes. He wore the shoes to honour his father. To remember him and to give thanks. My friend crossed the line with silent tears flooding, in his father's shoes, one size too big. Several years later, recounting the story to me his eyes still well with tears. The power of memory is staggering.

The highlight of the Manitoba Marathon was running into my old high school friend Phil at the start corral. We were good friends back in grade 9. We share memories of grade 9 angst, girls, stolen beers from our father's refrigerators, camp outs on the river. He has a full head of hair.  Mine thins. He is heavy. I am light. He admired my frame. I replied this scrawny old bod. seriously?  you gotta be kidding... we laughed and joked as the seconds ticked down to gun time.  We ran together for a mile and then he slipped from my sight like a fading memory. At mile 5 he reappeared suddenly and said he was settling into his customary  stride. As I passed slowly he mouthed I'll see you at the finish line. I replied with a backwards handshake you can bet on that, Phil.  That was the last I saw of Phil, never did see him at the finish line, although I did wait.  (Hmm, I hope he didn't mean the other finish line; you know, the finish line of life!)

What did I eat for supper the night before running the Manitoba half marathon? Jennifer barbecued an amazing pizza on Saturday, pre-Marathon.  Thought you might be interested in the process.  

home made sour dough on pizza stone (but you can use any old dough including store bought), 
it's ready to flip when bubbles appear ... cook fast and hot.... our bbq tops out at about 550 degrees
working fast, spread San Marzano tomatoes (drained in a sieve and hand squished to remove liquid... we save the liquid for "post-pizza pasta"), caramelized onions spiced with Sambalolek red chilli paste, mozzarella ball (not too much)... note burnt top right corner... it got caught on warming rack when flipped....
note to self, remove warming rack next time.  
cooking very hot, watch very closely... lid open... say a prayer or have a few sips of beer (depending upon where your convictions lay)... timing is critical.... about 2 minutes per side depending on how hot you can get your bbq
remove using tongs and cookie sheet.... while cooling add mozzarella di bufala and hand torn fresh basil...  cool.... 

It's a good day to be alive.  I think of you all.  I am proud to have you in my life.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

(Trying to be) Relentlessly Positive

Oh the rain is my shepherd it makes me lie with you
back before the moon fell from the sky
now it's sudden death, overtime
in the darkest corners of my mind
and I've lost the thread, I cannot tell a lie

The Pines, Chimes, from the album Dark So Gold

My relentlessly positive Golden Retriever, Annie. (photo credit, Max) 
The other day I was in a conversation with some pals.  One person described a mutual acquaintance as being relentlessly positive. 
I am struck with the concept of relentlessly positive.  The concept actually makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.  Is it even possible to be relentlessly positive?  How would it feel to be known as a relentlessly positive person?  What kind of vibes does a relentlessly positive person radiate?  Are relentlessly positive people actually positive all the time or are they just really good at hiding their true feelings?  
My key-word image search for 'relentlessly positive' is disappointing.  Google spits out happy faces and little engines that could and cute babies, but nothing that really speaks to me. When I think of relentlessly positive I consider words like resiliency and overcoming adversity. I think of how people make me feel in their presence and how I make others feel in my presence.  I think of friends, and acquaintances who share the gift of positive thinking. Naturally, I think of runners, people like Barefoot Bob, David, the other David, Gwen, Connie, Bill, Melissa, Lovely Linda, and so many others. They are relentlessly positive and their presence fills me with joy.

They are runners and they exude positive energy. Energy pours from their heart and they flourish in their own skin. My eyes light up in the brilliance of their smile.  The honesty of their laughter rings true and loud. They are happy people and they are comfortable in their own skin.  They make others shine in their presence. These are the people I choose to hang with, to run with, to laugh with.  My steps are quicker and my load is lighter while running at their side.  If runners are such people then I choose to run.

Who are the relentlessly positive people in your life? Surround yourself with these people, embrace them, breathe in their energy, savour their smile, and at the end of the day you will sleep well and you will glow from within.

As always, friends... runners, riders, walkers, swimmers... damaged, hurt, injured, sad, flourishing, languishing... look for the relentlessly positive people in your life. Wrap your head around their heart and soul and remember, it is a good day to be alive, yes?