Thursday, February 26, 2015

I am invisible, invincible.

When I run dark streets, early mornings I reflect on many, many things..
It's just how I'm wired
It's how I roll
I reflect on the African proverb...
'when you pray move your feet'
And I think of our Jo
I think and I think
As I run early mornings, dark streets, cold streets...

Every step a thought of you
Every breath a prayer for you
We run side by side
You invincible
Me invisible
When I run I pray for you.

I attended a course in Toronto several weeks ago. All participants were given a name plate to place on the table. On one side was my name on the other side a message.

It read:

"Only when your conciousness is focussed on the moment you are in can you receive whatever gift, lesson or delight that moment has to offer". 

Barbara de Angelis

When I run dark streets, early mornings I am most susceptible to a state of oneness, a state of mindfulness.

I am, at that moment, invisible.

I see a ghost-like image of myself as I run. I see the fluidity, the strength, the breath streaming over my face into the darkness. I hear the rhythm of my heart, the crunch of my steps, the evenness of my lungs. I see an image of myself running dark streets, early mornings.

I am, for that moment, invisible, invincible.

My brain becomes flooded with gifts, lessons, delights and I become peaceful in that moment.

Life washes over me, through me, around me.

It's a good day to be invisible, invincible, alive.

For Jo.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hypothermic Half Marathon... Winnipeg style... Race Report

What's fina than a dina on Spadina?
A cup of steamed hot chocolate in a stunning Kathy Koop mug after 13.68 miles in -50.
I was at a the Hey Rosetta concert at the Burt on Saturday night when I received a text from a friend saying the Hypo Half Marathon had been shortened due to "extreme weather".

Extreme Weather? What the &%$ ...  of course it's extreme... this is Winnipeg in February! What are they thinking? Waiting for the bus is extreme! Why are they shortening the course?

And then I checked Environment Canada's forecast. Combined wind and temperature approaching -50 degrees Celsius.  Yup, this is extreme all right, even for hearty 'peggers.

Race Director Rachel Munday made the tough decision to shorten the route at about 6PM on Saturday evening.  Although disappointed, I saw clearly the wisdom in her action.  The risk to volunteers and novice runners is too high, dangerously high in fact. Rachel showed leadership under fire and is supported by 99.99% of the running community. To the 0.01%, for heaven's sake get a grip and give your head a shake!

The course started and finished at the Fort Whyte Centre and looped 4.5 miles through the gorgeous Fort Whyte grounds to Sterling Lyon Drive. Runners were given the option to run one loop, two loops, or three. This righteous runner chose option C, three loops, which coincidently, adds up to 13.5 miles (a Half and a bit). It was a genius solution because it allowed runners to self monitor their stamina and chill factor and exit the course at anyone of the loops. The volunteers were happy because they were not spread so thin. All in all, it was a most brilliant solution and a most perfect run.

The wind was not a factor in the confines of the bush, but on the open field (outbound) it tested our grit.  I wore goggles, a thermal toque, a face mask, and spread vaseline liberally on exposed skin and still the wind leaked into nooks and crannies in my layers. My exposed lower lip was in extreme discomfort. All I could do to prevent it from breaking off completely was hold a hand up over my face to block the wind. I asked one person to check to see if my face was still there. He replied, "Yea, kinda" and with that reassurance I forged ahead.

Vegetarian runners were well fed with a good selection of beans, grain, salad, yogurt and fruit. The meat eaters seemed to revel in the bacon and sausage of which there was an over abundance.  The coffee was fresh, hot, plentiful, and tasty. The food wastage was disappointing; all about were half eaten plates destined for the garbage.  Shame.

Approximately 540 runners were registered and about 440 started. The Timer person told me it's typical for about 10% of runners to not show on race day.  Today's turnout represents about 20% 'no-show' so I suppose numbers were a bit lower than previous years, but heck, that's to be expected in such conditions.

Go Jo, go!
I had the pleasure of marking the miles for the course yesterday and I gave my friend Jo lucky mile 13, Jo's Mile. I thought I would pass by it once and smile, but I passed it three times and it warmed my heart each time.  It was faded and wind blown, just like me, but it was there if you took the time to see.

It's good day to be alive all bundled up with rosy cheeks and dendrites dancing.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fat Ass Rockstar Marathon, Race Report

Raise your hand if you ran the Fat Ass.
Raise your hand if you ran this year's Fat Ass Rock Star Marathon.  Now take that hand and slap it repeatedly against your other hand and extend it to local rockstar Rheal Poirier for making it all happen. Lou Reed's "take a walk on the wild side" might be a fitting theme for this wild ride of a mid-winter marathon We danced feral on the wild side and, like the Fat Ass Full Moon in November, there's no looking back. The Fat Ass Rockstar is a unique, mid-January marathon along the trails of Winnipeg, Canada. 

"This is a low key, no fee, no support, bring your own water/food trail run along the Red and Assiniboine rivers" explains Rheal. 
Running Feral along the Seine River
Fifty-seven runners huddled at the start line at the foot of the Esplanade Riel and fifty-six runners crossed the finish line some hours later. Nine people ran the full marathon distance, forty-six ran the 10 kilometer, and two good looking guys ran a full marathon relay. 

A most affirmative nod goes to The Turtle Crew for their spectacular presence and joie de vivre.  One cannot help but smile in their company. What they may lack in speed they gain tenfold in heart.  

It's a good day to be alive, right Turtles?
A supreme nod of thanks is directed to the two rockstar volunteers, Bob Nicol and Doris Nelson. They placed themselves strategically along the course providing direction and encouragement. Twenty-six miles is a lot of ground to cover for two volunteers and they pulled it off admirably.  Thank you Bob. Thank you Doris.

Rheal was planting flags along the course well after midnight before the race, arrived at the start line before sunrise and stayed on course well past 6PM ensuring everyone crossed the line safely. He worked tirelessly preparing, organizing, planning, mapping, scouting, making a web page and on and on.  I'd like to tell you he made a few dollars for his trouble, but no. The only pay he received is the smiles and high fives of the fifty-seven runners. Rheal is passionate about trail running and wants only to share his love of this most contagious sport. 

He even took the time to answer several questions from a most pesky blogger herein referred to as MPB.

(MPB) Were there unexpected incidents?

(RP) For the 10 K everything went relatively smooth with the exception of a few runners not getting their "rock star". We didn't quite have enough volunteers and so we spread ourselves a little thin. I was a little nervous about this event at the beginning as I had a few people contact me beforehand saying they weren't good with directions but everyone made it to the finish safe and sound. As for the marathon we only had one person drop out. The last guy to finish took a few shortcuts and we didn't know he finished until he texted us that he finished the event. We're glad he made it to the finish line.

(MPB) Who placed first?

(RP) I have not idea who came in first. There are no real placements anyway. There are no results other than happy people who just ran an event.  It's just a reason for people to go out and enjoy.  

(MPB) What are the names of the volunteers?

(RP) Volunteers were Doris Nelson and Bob Nicol. Both were absolutely fantastic and went the extra mile the entire day. 

(MPB) What's your post race ritual? 

(RP) I don't really have a particular ritual for myself. Usually I try to clean and organize everything after the event and check on facebook to see the kind words people have said about my event.  I didn't have anything set-up post race for this event for the participants. On my half marathon night runs I've invited everyone to get together for a drink at a pub afterwards. I like socializing with my runners. I've gotten to know so many people that way. This event was a little tricky to have a post race get together. I hope some people managed to hang out after the fact. 

(MPB) Is there anyone you would like to thank? 

(RP) Everyone for showing up and showing me that people not only love to run trails but aren't afraid to run them during the winter months. I also want to thank my volunteers. Without them I would not have been able to pull the event off. I want to thank the people who shared and helped promote my event. I just found out that a mommy running group was actively posting my event on their facebook group. I find that amazing. 

Lastly I'd have to thank my wife for putting up me when I spend so much time creating the route, scouting, creating maps, creating a registration page, putting flagging and sweeping the course. It's amazing the amount of time it takes to create and event like this. It's my labour of love but it's my wife's patience and understanding with me that allows me to spend time on these passions.

You contribute to the fabric of our fine community.
Rheal, you contribute to the fabric of our fine community, indeed, you help build community. You brighten and lighten our lives. You are THE quintessential rockstar!

Only Rheal knows for sure.
Will there be another Fat Ass?  Only Rheal knows for sure.

It's a good day to be alive... dancing feral along the twisty trails of MY Winnipeg.