Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Reggae Marathon 2012 Walkabout, Part 2

Elvis has left the building and is now living comfortably in Negril.  He chows down on Jerk Pork and Jerk Chicken and washes it all down with cold Red Stripe.

OK, I made that all up but the Elvis sign on the side of the road as we approached a Reggae Marathon Aid Station at the 4 mile mark caught my eye.  Man I had too much time on my hands walking the Reggae Marathon 10K.

Reggae Marathon is one of the few (only) race events that have Aid Stations at every mile.  Did I mention that they also have unique Jamaican Character?

Notice in the background the car with the speakers on top.  The car belonged to this young volunteer.  He was waving the flag, handing out water and Hi-Lyte and playing LOUD Reggae music.  And I do mean LOUD!  And this was just after 6 am in the morning.

Each Aid Station on the entire course is set up the same way.

I caught this shot of Reggae Marathon 4 time winner Rupert Green on his way to another victory.  I was lying down on the road shooting when I caught the attention of a race volunteer who wanted to know if I was all right.  It took a couple of minutes to assure her that I was...even my media badge didn't convince her.  Maybe it was the cast on my foot.  She watched me hobble away and I'm convinced she was only moments away from calling for help.

I did say there was music along the Reggae Marathon Course right?  Well here right along the route near the finish line at Long Bay Beach Park was the Silverbird Steel Band Orchestra performing.  This band performs every year at the Reggae Marathon Pasta Party Friday night and they put on a great show again this past December.  Here they are at around 6:30 am bringing us home...well, at least those of us doing the 10K.

It's been 4 consecutive years attending Reggae Marathon in Negril.  I've run the full marathon, the half marathon and the 10 K (twice).  It's a long way to go to get to Negril each December but once there it's truly a magical experience.  See you again December 7, 2013...

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reggae Marathon 2012 Walkabout, Part 1

The Boot 
The Boot loved the beach in Negril last week. It didn't need sunscreen at all, didn't offer any conversation and was a cheap date at the bar and restaurant.  The Boot enjoyed itself so much that it didn't want to come home. I think it was looking for a hookup on the beach.

I was sorely tempted to let The Boot stay behind and enjoy itself in Jamaica.  My foot had recovered...The Boot had done its's job. but then I remembered how much I paid for it!  Welcome home!

Reggae Marathon Media Briefing
For some reason the Reggae Marathon organizers ask me to speak at the media briefing every year.  After blogging here and on the Reggae Marathon blog for the past two years, I'm never sure what else I can add about running and Reggae Marathon.  Especially when the audience are 'The Media'.  But there I was last Friday night during the Reggae Marathon Media Briefing sharing the social media experiences over the past year.  And there were some significant ones:

Court, Chris, Andrew, Dan.  Reggae Marathon 2012
All we were missing was Holden at Reggae Marathon 2012!  Holden says he doesn't run but he has a year to train!

Here are the boys at 4:45 am at Long Bay Beach Park in Negril with our friend, Dan Cumming (of Running in the Zone fame).  Dan and I sure that the only time Court and Andrew see 4:45 am is when coming home from a late night of weekend partying.  Dan, Court and Andrew burned up the Reggae Marathon 1/2 Marathon course.  I think we'll all be back for 2013??

Negril River at Sunrise
The big advantage of walking the Reggae Marathon 10K was that I got to take pictures while an the course.  So I did!

This picture was taken at 6 am.  It's of the Negril River just after passing the round-a-bout in Negril at around the 3 mile mark of the course I stopped on the bridge to shoot a Negril sunrise photo.  I've got lots of pictures of the sunsets in Negril...who doesn't...but this is my first sunrise picture.  Hmmm...looks like a selection on my Facebook page in the near future.

More stories and photos to come from my 2012 Reggae Marathon Walkabout experience.

Until next time

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Reggae Marathon 2012: Got 'er dun!

Borrowing a phrase from the Summer Olympics, 'Go haad an dun", I 'got 'er dun' last Saturday at Reggae Marathon.  After worrying about making it through the entire 10K with the walking cast on my right foot, my only worry turned out to be not stopping every few meters to shoot a few pictures.  Usually I'm intent on finishing with a target time but this year I had no such concerns since I was walking.  The goal was to finish...couldn't let the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario down.  Plus, I wanted the 4th in a row Reggae Marathon Finisher's Medal.

At Reggae Marathon again this year Mother Nature continued her string of good weather.  In fact, Saturday morning last week dawned quite cool with no humidity.  'Cool' of course in Negril, Jamaica is a relative thing but it sure was a major relief after my first time at Reggae Marathon 2009 when overnight rain resulted in a higher degree of humidity.  The only humidity this year was the mandatory drenching in the Caribbean after successfully completing the run.

The Puma Faas 300's were retired last Saturday as well.  Yes, these were the shoes that were there for the foot injury.  I figured it was only fitting that they they be there for the successful completing of Reggae Marathon 2012.  Of course we had to enjoy a complimentary Red Stripe before 'retirement'.  If you have to ask, "Red Stripe taste good" after Reggae Marathon.

It's been 2 1/2 months since my last run and you know what...it's been good!  30 years is a long time to run every day and be relatively injury free.  I am very fortunate.  These last two years of foot problems culminating in the stress fractures came at the right time.  I'll be back to running of course but it will be very different.  Competing with my younger self is now a thing of the past...I have a few more grey hairs after all!  It won't be for a few more weeks...I really do want to ensure that my foot has healed fully before I head out for my first post-injury run.  But you know what...I'm looking forward to it!

'Got 'er dun!'

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm on the Rock for Reggae Marathon!

The American Airlines flight touches down at 3:40 pm on Wednesday in Montego Bay.  On time and on schedule I hope depositing me back on the Rock for my 4th straight Reggae Marathon event.

While they've all been special, this year has an extra special twist.  I'm 'running' (walking fast actually) in the Reggae Marathon 10K event with a walking cast on my right foot.  I'm really not sure how I'll make out this Saturday morning but I promise I'll cross the finish line.  I made a commitment earlier this year to raise $2,000 for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario and I never let the side down.

And it's 'super personal' this year! My cousin's husband had a heart procedure completed successfully recently to replace a heart valve that had stopped working.  It was congenital and he'd been living with less and less oxygen intake for the past few years.  Sally and I have had multiple family members felled by heart disease and stroke so it was great to see my cousin come through successfully.  This Reggae Marathon is for you this year Andy.

I still need a few dollars to make it to this year's fund raising goal.  Please donate here securely:  Run for Heart 2012 Donation.

Until next time...


Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Race for 2012: Reggae Marathon, December 1.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NOT Running...the best thing for my health?

Running Shoes for Reggae Marathon
December 1
Walking Cast!


@#!!@#%%@ And a whole lot of other unprintable words come to mind when I think back on the 'incident' this past September.  It's sidelined me from running.  It may have been a lifesaver.

Progress report.  I've had the walking cast on since September 26.  Optimistically the lovely Doctor said "6 weeks then you can take it off...take it slow with running a couple of weeks after that though".

Oops...not so fast.  I'm now 8 weeks into living (walking) with the foot cast and still don't feel comfortable enough yet to take it off for long stretches.  I've been told that broken bones heal even stronger.  Still waiting for them to heal first.

Not running has been a blessing in disguise though.  Truth be told, I'd become a little obsessed with my daily running.  Not resting was definitely a contributing cause to the bone fractures.  And becoming so obsessed with faster times that led to the extreme speed workouts finished me off.  I'll be back running but I'm scared as hell of that first run.  And that is very likely not going to be until well after the Reggae Marathon.

I not really complain.  This is the first 'major' health issue I have ever faced.  I know, I know...I still have my Appendix, Tonsils and all other internal organs. Blood pressure under control.  No heart problems.  I have never had an overnight stay in the hospital!

Day surgery once but that was elective.  Ever heard of the 'Big V'?

So I guess all that running over the past 30 years has paid off.  But am I ever looking forward to that first run.

Until next time...


Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Race for 2012: Reggae Marathon, December 1.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Reggae Marathon Running Shoes?

I do love my Pumas and with the healing going much more slowly than anticipated, 'running' the 10K at Reggae Marathon in a couple of weeks on December 1 in Negril with a Puma Boot on my left foot and foot cast on my right is looking like a real possibility.

It wasn't supposed to be like this.  I had a time goal in mind for this year's Reggae Marathon 10K:  50 minutes.  I wanted to improve over last year's time and had my training planned throughout the summer.

And it was going well up until the nasty bone fractures back in September.  Dam that concrete!

How did I get these Puma boots?  It began as all good things do...with Sally.  She wanted a pair of Pumas so we headed out to the Puma Outlet Store at the Cookstown Mall north of Toronto.  Of course, this was a near heaven experience for me:  Puma shoes...on sale!

Sally found her shoes and I found these Puma boots.  Perfect for the sloppy daily winter commute ahead in Toronto. Likely not so good for Reggae Marathon.  I'll make for a heck of a sight when we line up for Reggae Marathon in a couple of weeks:  Running tights, Puma winter boot, foot cast!  Great photo op though.

Until next time...


Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Race for 2012: Reggae Marathon, December 1.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Full price for my Reggae Marathon bathing suit!

I left it too late and paid full price.  But it's a nice bathing suit don't you think?

Since spring of this year Sally has been 'gently reminding me' to buy a new bathing suit.  The last pair I picked up at an end-of-season sale a couple of years ago and it was dead.  Sally demanded they be 'donated to garbage' and they were!  I procrastinated.  That's waaaay better than admitting that I ignored her.

She went out of her way to shop on my behalf telling me repeatedly throughout the summer of the stores that had large selections of bathing suits on sale.  Still put it off.  I was convinced I would still be able to have my choice and get a deal.

Then last week she came home with the great news that Wal Mart still had bathing suits...for $9!  Ah, ha...that's my price!  Off we went.  Oh yes, I dragged her (asked her nicely) along to come shopping with me for what was surely to be a quick in-and-out to pick up a couple of pairs and still have change from a $20.

Alas it was not to be.  They had limited selection first of all...what's with XXXL sizes?  Oh I forgot who their target customer is!  Then there was the fit.  Or lack thereof.  I tried on the first pair and even though I am not a fashionista, even I couldn't believe how badly they fit. So foot cast back on and off to Mark's Wear House.

Why I thought Mark's Wearhouse would have bathing suits is beyond me.  Sally was thankfully noticeably quiet and indulged my fantasy.  It was indeed a quick in-and-out once I noted all the winter inventory.

In exasperation we headed to the Sport Mart.  Surely they would have bathing suits.

And they did.  A grand total of 10 men's bathing suits hiding on a single end rack at the back of the store.  Brand names though and my size.

Once more into the fitting room, removed my foot cast and tried a couple of pairs on all the while desperately looking for the sale sticker.  It was not to be.

So with a nod to Sally for putting up with my silliness, I hastily paid for the new Reggae Marathon bathing suit and exited the store.  "$56...will that be cash, credit or debit" asked the perky clerk.  "Full price" I muttered to myself.  But hey, I'll look great on the beach in Negril at Reggae Marathon!

Until next time...


Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Race for 2012: Reggae Marathon, December 1.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Running topless again

Courtesy of Runner's World
I ran topless at Reggae Marathon in 2011.  Nervous at first but in the pitch black of the pre-dawn after the 5:15 am start it seemed safe enough.  And it was cool.  I mean refreshing.

Since my foot injury in September I've been swimming and running in the local pool. Topless of course.  This time no staring or shout-outs...unless the admiring glances from the 'older ladies' means anything.  Not that I notice of course...it's 6 am, I'm barely awake and it's all business.

Running in the pool seems easier than running on land at first blush.  For sure it is certainly easier on the knees and feet than pounding the pavement.  But after the last few weeks I can tell you that running in the pool is hard work!  And you don't know you're sweating!

My general workout goes like this:
  • 100 metres of swimming to warm up
  • 30 - 40 minutes of 'running' in the deep end
  • 100 metres swimming to cool down
For the running I've used a boogie board to give me some buoyancy.  I tried a flotation belt last week and was able to simulate the full running-on-land motion.  I think I'll continue with the flotation belt...it's better for simulating the full running form.  The biggest challenge though is boredom. It's tough not to watch the clock ... time seems to go oh so slowly when I'm basically treading water for 40 minutes.  

If like me you're a die-hard runner recovering from injury (or if you just want a total body workout), I'd recommend pool running.  Here are a couple of good sites to check out:
I can't promise I'll run topless at Reggae Marathon again this December.  But to paraphrase a phrase from my Reggae Marathon friend, Bob Moore, "Once you go, you know".  And you just never know what will happen the morning of December 1 in Negril.

Until next time...


Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Race for 2012: Reggae Marathon, December 1.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Paint Attack Paintball Fund Raiser a Fabulous Success

"Before" ... All Smiles!
The rain held off until the last paintball game.  Even that wasn't enough to stop the group of 10 paintballers who came out to Wasaga Beach Paintball last Saturday for the 4th Annual Paint Attack fund raising event for Run for Heart.

As you may know, Run for Heart is the name Sally and I came up with for our annual fund raising efforts for the Heart & Stroke Foundation.  We've lost Mother, Father and Brother to strokes and heart disease and it's our way of giving back.  Over the past 3 years we've raised $10,000.  Thank you so very much for your support.  For 2012, our goal is $2,000 and with the efforts of the 10 warriors who came out last Saturday we raised $800.  We are blessed with so much sincere support! (Donations accepted here:  Run for Heart)

Just call me 'Chester' 
Hitting the $2,000 goal in 2012 will be a little more challenging since I've been laid up with the broken bones in my right foot (Is this the day I no longer run?) Four weeks in the foot cast so far with a couple to go...I missed the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 1/2 Marathon in October which was one of my key fund raising events.  I've been swimming and running in the local pool to stay in shape and hope to be back running by mid-November.  That's only 2 weeks before Reggae Marathon but I'm determined to finish the Reggae Marathon 10K to get to the $2,000 goal.

Back to the paintball.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to head out to the playing fields last Saturday with the Paint Attack Group.  They didn't get to 'light me up' as they've delightfully done in the past. I thought about it though but common sense (and Sally) kept me from doing further damage to my foot.  As the chef for the day, I cooked up a storm:  burgers and sausages for the 10 warriors who included Andrew, Court, Holden, Carleigh, Amy, Nicole, Mark, Michael, Cuarai and Steve.

"After" ... bravely smiling to mask the pain
In this after photo, I can tell you that a few of the smiles were forced.  After 4 hours of playing paintball in the 70 acres of rugged playing fields at Wasaga Beach Paintball they were...a wee bit tired.  And soaked.  A torrential downpour swept in for their last game. Hot chocolate would have been appropriate...next year.

At the end of the day, great fun had by all in this 4th Annual Paint Attack.  And already enthusiasm for 2013 has already.  Now if only I can stay healthy.

If you'd like to make a secure credit card donation to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, go to this link:  Run for Heart.  Thank you in advance for your support and donation.

Until next time...
ThatRunninGuy AKA "Chester"

Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  
Race for 2012: Reggae Marathon, December 1

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hmmm...maybe this foot cast isn't so bad after all

The TTC...my daily ride
A little old lady offered me her seat on the subway last week.  Then a younger man did the same yesterday.  Wow...people really are nice in Toronto. Thanks for the offer.  But it got me thinking...what if I keep the walking cast on my foot for my daily commute after the injury heals?

What?  Did I just say that out loud?

I'm on the subway and bus each day for a total of about 60 minutes each day.  Yes it's crowded, we are usually packed in like sardines and some days the A/C doesn't work (never have to worry about it being too hot even in the winter!).  For a daily commute in the Greater Toronto Area, it's pretty good and even though I still love driving, the TTC is the best way to get to and from work.

But most day's I'd kill for a seat.  And not just any seat...an aisle seat is premium.  And no middle seats.  Those were not meant for normal size humans so it is never possible to be comfortable squashed on both sides by other commuters.

I'm of two minds.  I'm flattered by the politeness of those offering their seats to someone with a foot injury.  I'm pissed off that they see me as an infirm 'older guy' with a foot injury.  So far I've declined the offers.

But ... I'll be out of the cast by the end of October (I hope) but if I strap the foot cast back on, I wonder if I can get an upgrade when I fly down to Montego Bay for Reggae Marathon this year?

Until next time...
ThatRunninGuy AKA "Chester"


Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Race for 2012: Reggae Marathon, December 1.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Broken bones mend eventually

The X Ray was very difficult to look at.  Two of them actually.  You see, he had broken both legs clean through mid-way down the femurs in a toboggan accident.  That was over 18 years ago and it happened to Andrew.

I can still remember the evening.  On my way home from work, told that Andrew was in emergency with broken bones. Dam...we were 2 weeks away from a planned vacation.  Maybe we could get him in a cast and on the plane.

It was not to be.

I got to the hospital and rushed to the emergency ward.  Things were eerily quiet around Andrew but he was scared.  I'll never forget that face.  There he was in bed with both legs inverted.  He was in pain but he was gritting his teeth.

The doctor took us to the X Ray screen and showed us the results:  both legs broken clean through.  What? He would have to spend 6 weeks in traction with his legs inverted then a further 6 weeks in full leg casts.  How?

He was admitted later that evening and his brother's came to visit.  They were scared as hell.  I know each had his private feelings but Court, his twin brother was really affected.  And you know brothers...love/hate on the best day.  This was not one of the best days.  When time came to leave the hospital for the evening they did not want to leave.  I believe some gentle force was required.

I did not leave.  I spent that first night with Andrew in the room with him not sleeping on the only chair in the room.  The pain of seeing him in pain was unbearable.  "Please God, break my legs and fix his...anything to take his pain away".  It was a long night.

Questions, questions:  would he ever walk again?  Play baseball, the game he loved.  Oh, and let's not forget school...

I am reminded of all this as I deal with the bone fractures I suffered recently (Is this the day I no longer run).  Nowhere near as severe as Andrew suffered those years ago.  What keeps me going is knowing that bones do knit, injuries do mend and the memory fades away.  I keep that top-of-mind.

Andrew's bones did mend.  Even stronger than ever.  He went on to play rep baseball throughout grade school, high school and into university where he and his twin brother Court won the Provincial Championship while at Western.  Additionally he led the Iona Football team for 4 years as the starting Quarterback.  The highlight for me was watching Andrew, Court and Holden all playing high school football together.

Oh and school...his teachers and friends rallied around and made sure he kept up with his work and not spend his days idly watching television.  He graduated last year from DeGroote with an MBA.

Those 6 weeks in the hospital were tough.  We visited him every evening.  We've been tight ever since.

Broken bones do mend.

Until next time..

Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Race for 2012: Reggae Marathon, December 1.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A teaspoon of ... Calcium ... helps the bones get stronger

I hate milk!

Was that too strong?

Maybe it's a result of growing up in the heat of Jamaica and being given 'warm milk' as a beverage at lunch and not finding that very appealing at all.

Or maybe it was an early connection to the Coca Cola that I got from the vending machine at my Dad's Texaco Gas Station when I went to 'work' with him.  Yes I was only 8 years old but no it wasn't child labour.  I got to work in the grease pit with the mechanics and spent my days getting thoroughly covered in dirt and grease.  Loved it.  Now I know why he kept the plastic covers on the car seats.

I digress.

I really don't enjoy a 'cold glass of milk' at all.  The closest I ever came was when they loaded it up with condensed milk to 'sweeten it up'.  Now there was something I could enjoy.

So now that the doctor has told me I have a tendency toward 'brittle bones' I've embraced the calcium supplement.  And this stuff actually tastes good.  It comes with it's own dispenser so every morning before the first cup of coffee I toss back my Calcium along with my multivitamin.

So now I'm 3 weeks into recovery with 3 weeks to go until I can remove the foot cast for good.  I can hardly wait.  I'm still not sure how and when the first run will go but I am looking forward to it.  I'm getting tired of looking longingly at runners while I'm driving or walking (hobbling).  I want to scream out, "Hey...I'm a runner too!"

I'm staying focused on the 10K at the Reggae Marathon December 1.  Registration submitted, airline tickets booked, finalizing hotel. I plan to run.  I'll walk if I have to.  I WILL cross the finish line! And unlike the winner of the Indy 500 auto race, I will hoist a cold Red Stripe to celebrate.  Not milk!

Until next time..

Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Race for 2012: Reggae Marathon, December 1.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Now let's get on with the recovery: Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana
It comes in a little bottle with a plain white label.  It's called Arnica Montana and the lovely couple who run the local health store recommended it for it's chief value:  helping bones knit faster. Yes, I'm back on the road to recovery and it can't happen fast enough. But then you knew that I'd try anything didn't you.

This may all be mental (Sally will of course have a point-of-view on my mental state) but for $6 I figure I can't go wrong.  Of course the workouts in the pool 3 times each week are key to keeping fit and staying in shape but if this helps speed up the healing then Arnica Montana pills under the tongue each morning washed down with a cup of coffee it is!  

The real motivation in trying Arnica Montana along with the daily Calcium supplement (I HATE milk) is that I can't get this 'foot cast' off soon enough.  Little old ladies on the subway have been offering me their seat!  Really?  It's bad enough that I caused this foot injury trying to compete with my younger self but I can't bear the thought of another nice Grandmother feeling sorry for me.  And no, I don't take it from them...but the thought does cross my mind. 

Until next time..


Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Race for 2012: Reggae Marathon, December 1.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Is this the day I no longer run?

The Boot
It certainly seems so.

After last week's running 'incident' where I injured my right foot (Bike Ride Injured My Foot) I came to this realization:  it's time to take running seriously. More correctly, I have to take better care of myself if I want to continue to run.  The stress fracture that I suffered as a result of carelessness was totally avoidable.  I wanted to put in a tempo run before going bike riding. Oops...not 30 years old any more.

I'd been doing speed work at the local track over the past few months so I figured an intense workout on the short 2 km run up to Brad's place would be OK.  Unfortunately I broke (bad pun) the cardinal rule of training:  I didn't adjust for the change in surface.  At the track it's a hard earth surface.  Much easier on the feet and legs.  The 2 km to Brad was cement side walk.  Not so good for feet and legs.  And unfortunately as I have now experienced with this stress fracture not so good for me.  "If only I had listened to Sally and taken the truck".

Through all of this Sally has been gracious and hasn't said "I told you so".  I know she's thinking it though. But she has been super supportive.  She took me to get my walking cast last Wednesday morning and in a moment of madness even offered to drive me to work so I wouldn't have to endure the challenges of the TTC.  And she continually reminds me that this is serious and needs complete recovery before I get back to running.  She sent me this great, in-depth article:  Stress Fractures of the Foot.

But after 30 years of running nearly every day in all conditions and through every ache and pain (and injury), having to wear 'The Boot' has been a blessing.  Truth be told, I feel relieved!  Don't get me wrong, I love running but I also like swimming and cycling.  This injury has 'given me permission' to transition to a more rounded physical regimen respecting the fact that I can't keep 'pounding the pavement' with the same single-minded intensity.  With this injury biking will have to wait until next spring but the pool beckons.  And get this, not just with swimming lengths, but with 'water running'.  I had my first experience last Sunday and loved it all.  For a primer on running in the pool, take a look at the video below from Olympian Carrie Tollefson who I met at Reggae Marathon a couple of years ago. (Check out her train tips here at:  Mental Toughness) I tried it, I liked it... it is one heck of a workout with virtually no stress on the knees or feet.  "I'll be back!"

The immediate goal now is to stay in shape while recovering fully so that I can handle the Reggae Marathon 10K December 1 in Negril.

So today is not the day I no longer run but it is the day that I don't run every day.

Until next time...



Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Race for 2012: Reggae Marathon, December 1.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Willie Wonka Saturday morning

I'll be back Dec 1, 2012
Willie Wonka is not a movie for kids. Cleavage, cows being whipped (whipped cream), Johnny Depp insulting kids. Fantastic stuff...for grown-ups...on drugs!  But sitting in the waiting room of a local walk in clinic last Saturday there I was watching Willie Wonka feeling as I had been transported into an Alice in Wonderland psychedelic dream world.  Maybe that was a good thing because I was waiting to see a Doctor about a new injury to my right foot and it helped distract me from the thought going through my mind, "What special hell brought me to this?"

"The sharp pain in my right foot every I take a step, that's what". Last week on my way to a bike ride with my friend Brad I 'did something' to my right foot...again! (Read about it:  Took a Ride on the Giant...and Injured my Foot).  Not my left foot, never my left foot.  Not my knees or hips.  My right foot, my Achilles Heel.  Bad pun I know but I'm in a walk-in clinic watching Willie Wonka on the Saturday morning of a long weekend...the last one of the summer!  At least I listened to Sally this time and went to see a Doctor rather than my usual self medication routine.  And it only took me 4 days to get medical treatment this time.

The real fear running through my head watching Johnny Depp was that after the past 3 years of right foot-related injuries my running days were coming to an end!

"Say it ain't so". 

Miles and Age are conspiring against me, I know they are. 'MileAge' likes the Before guy with the size 42" waist and is determined to see him return. You see, 'MileAge' likes salty snacks and beer. He likes a sedentary lifestyle.  'MileAge' does NOT like running. He would love the Doctor to tell me that it will take 4 - 6 weeks to recover from this injury whether it is a muscle/tendon strain or a broken bone.  

And that's just what the Doctor ordered when I finally got to see him that morning.  He didn't think I had broken any bones but sent me for X-Rays anyway (Results in a few days).  But the recovery prescription was the same:  no running for 4 to 6 weeks.  Dam, that puts the Toronto 1/2 Marathon and 2012 Fund Raising in serious jeopardy.  Not to mention the goal of finishing the 1/2 Marathon in under 2 hours.  Time to re-group.

Water Running.  Wait, did the Willie Wonka movie screw up my mental capacity?  Actually not.  Dan Cumming of Reggae Marathon Fame is a seasoned runner, author, blogger (Running in the Zone) and good friend and his first advice was to try water running.  Hmmm...we have a pool in our building, this is a good time to give it a try. Maybe the local municipal pool will have a big-screen TV playing Rocky Horror Picture Show...or Willie Wonka!

So all is not lost. No road running for a few weeks to recover fully.  Water running to stay race-ready for both the Toronto 1/2 Marathon in October and the Reggae Marathon 10 K in December.  Yes, I may have to spend the next few months in a pool wearing a flotation belt but this is not the day I no longer run! 

Until next time...
++++++Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Races for 2012: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 1/2 Marathon, October 14, Reggae Marathon, December 1 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Took a ride on the Giant this week...and injured my foot

GIANT bicycle that is.  Dirty mind!

This week for the first time since Sally and I've been back in Toronto, and the first time since summer 2011, I went for a bike ride in Toronto. And of course I promptly hurt my foot.  Go figure.

My good friend Brad who lives nearby suggested we go riding this summer.  For one reason or another we didn't get out for our first ride until this past week.  For my part, I confess I wasn't eager to go riding in Toronto with all the traffic.  But he told me we'd be riding mostly on paved trails along river valleys in some local parks so he hooked me.

This bike ride actually ride started last weekend when I went to our off-site storage locker to pick up the bike that had been carelessly stored since we became apartment dwellers.  Ahhh...the special pleasures of 'limited storage'.  Sally was very clear about this:  keep the bike, put it in off-site storage!  Not negotiable.

Flat tires and partially disassembled, I took my 'GIANT' to Brad's house a few days before the planned ride.  If could have spoken, it would have sighed and cracked a smile at being 'released'.

Then it got interesting.

If you know me at all you know that I had to incorporate some running into the bike ride.  And it was a simple plan:  do some speed work (10-20-30) running drills over the 2 miles from our place to Brad's before the bike ride.  Sally of course had her usual look when I informed her that I was skipping dinner with her and replacing it with a bottle of Powerade. She was not impressed!

The run started out well enough and I was through my 4th rep when I felt a 'twinge' in my right foot.  I didn't think anything of it at that time so pressed on.  I mean, there was a 'little' pain but it didn't feel too bad.  During the bike ride which was absolutely spectacular as we took in the trails of the Humber, the Kingsway and some other beautiful neighbourhoods on an absolutely perfect late summer evening I didn't feel pain at all.  It was only when I put my running shoes back on to run home that I knew something was amiss:  I couldn't take a step without some serious pain.  It turned out that on the run up to Brad I pulled a small muscle along the top of my foot.  Man was I pissed!  "When am I ever going to run without injuring myself again?"  I took Brad's kind offer of a ride home, tail between legs.

In my bad old days I would have continued to be upset.  I wrote this blog post instead.  Hey, I must be growing up...

Until next time...

Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Races for 2012: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 1/2 Marathon, October 14, Reggae Marathon, December 1 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Running god: What have you done with Chris?

"Who the hell is that?"

When I saw this photo of me from 30 years ago I couldn't believe MY eyes!  I mean...holy crap!  Couldn't I have at least picked a larger size tuxedo?  And the hair...what's with the hair?  I must have cut it myself...wait, I did!!

Seriously though, this was taken at age 25 at the peak of my weight and waist size: 225 lbs (give or take) and 42".  Yes, it was taken before I took up running.  Oh, and did I mention that my blood pressure was 'heading into concern territory' according to my doctor.  Salty snacks and a totally sedentary lifestyle were the culprits.  Running a marathon as I did in 2009 at Reggae Marathon was not even a slightest thought.  Heck, waddling to the cupboard to get a bag of salty snacks was about as much as I could manage at the time.

But the most bizarre thing...and that triggered me to write this post was that at the time I felt normal!  I mean, that's who I was.  I didn't think anything was wrong or amiss.

By now you know the story.  Got the health scare of following my Dad down the medication path to manage high blood pressure and decided to do something about it.  Running was the answer for me then and even with the recent nagging foot injuries still is.  I've tried cycling and swimming and while I enjoy both, I still come back to running.  I guess I like the tights.

I've had some great running experiences along the way including running in places like Sydney, Australia, Paris, France, Hong Kong, Sweden...pretty much any place I travelled for business or pleasure.  Check out "Getting back to the Beach". On business trips it was normal for me to run stupid early in order to get a run in before a long day of meetings.

I also met a lot of really nice people along the way most recently when I started running with the Wasaga Beach Road Runners when we lived up north.  And since Reggae Marathon, I've met even more really great people who keep me at it...the best motivation! Check out Dan and Larry the other 2 of the Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challengers.

But the coolest thing is how my family has reacted.  My sister's both work out regularly now.  In fact, Susan and her husband have become dedicated runners and Ginnette hits the treadmill at her gym regularly.  And I've had the special pleasure of running a number of times now with two of my sons:  Toronto Scotiabank 1/2 Marathon and Reggae Marathon twice.  In fact, we are going back again this December.  It will be my fourth.

I'm very glad the running god stole the 'old Chris'.  Shudder..... May he never return.

Until next time...

Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Races for 2012: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 1/2 Marathon, October 14, Reggae Marathon, December 1 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What I learned about the birds and bees from Running

Met this 'not-so-friendly' guy and his buddy Saturday
I've learned a lot about life from running.  It's possible to run through pain.  Past a certain point, it really is mental. And Sally has noted that I really am 'Mental' for doing it.  Hmmmm...I think she is referring to another meaning of the word 'Mental'.

But I digress.  Running a marathon is a lot tougher than it seems on paper.  The half way point isn't actually at 13.1 miles as I learned in my one and only full marathon at Reggae Marathon in 2009.  

But it's what I've learned about running from the 'birds and bees' that's been most interesting.  And I've had altercations with both the birds and the bees.  Spoiler alert:  it's not about sex!

Years ago while running early morning through the trails along Grenadier Pond in High Park, Toronto I was attacked by a couple of birds.  Not quite like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' but disconcerting none the less.  The two birds went straight for my head.  Looking back it could have been that they were attracted by my ever so tiny (back then anyway) bald spot.  I've worn hats ever since.

Then this past Saturday morning the bees attacked.  OK, they were likely wasps or hornets but 'birds and wasps' doesn't sound quite right.  I was coming to the end of a really nice 60 minute run when I literally ran into two of these not-so-friendly little bastards.  One went directly to my left thigh while the other went...guess where...directly to my now much larger bald spot.  Both were successful in leaving me with their stingers.  Trooper that I am I only swore out loud a couple of times.  But I didn't break stride!

Maybe these birds and bees (wasps) were after a tasty Jamaican snack.  Or maybe they'd been watching the Olympics recently were looking for the secret sauce that allows Jamaican runners to run so quickly.  In any case I was not amused by either attack.  Alert to all birds and bees:  I will fight back! Pass it on to your friends.

Until next time...

Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Races for 2012: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 1/2 Marathon, October 14, Reggae Marathon, December 1

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Guh haad an dun: Jamaica at the London 2012 Olympics

Jamaican Olympic Team 2012
"Guh haad an dun".  That's the motto of the Jamaican Olympic Team for the 2012 Olympic Games currently under way in London. "Give it everything you've got"  or "Don't leave anything at the table".  I think you get the drift...

"100% Jamaican".  Sally often asks me if I'm Jamaican or Canadian.  My answer, "It depends..." gets me in trouble every time.  The nice thing is that I can be both.  "It depends...".

"100% Jamaican by Association".  Ahhh...now that's more like it.  I've never met a person who hasn't become intoxicated by Jamaica once they have met a Jamaican or been to Jamaica. 'Intoxication' may not be the politically correct word but that's what happens the moment you get off the plane.

These and other sayings were produced to support and promote Team Jamaica at the 2012 London Olympic Games. With apologies to the drama in the pool surrounding Michael Phelps searlier this week, the overarching story of the London 2012 Olympic games is Jamaica!  In particular the anticipation building toward the Track and Field events starting Friday.  In the Men's 100M Sprint events over August 4 and 5 it's basically Jamaica vs Jamaica vs Jamaica. This will be "Must See TV" even if you're not a hard-core sprinting fan.  And so you don't miss any of the action, here's the ultimate viewing and online guide:  Ready for the Olympics.

For the first time in a long time Sally and I caught the entire Olympic Opening Ceremony last Friday.  A few things stood out:  James Bond and the Queen (she does have a sense of humour after all), Mr. Bean on the keyboard (ROFL), the Arctic Monkeys doing a Beatles cover (Ballsy) and Paul McCartney closing the show with Hey Jude (he still has it).  In addition I love these images from London 2012  including Reggae Marathon Race Director stylin':  Favourites from London 2012.

Get the Red Stripe and Jerk Chicken ready for the weekend. "Guh haad an dun".

Until next time...

Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Races for 2012: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 1/2 Marathon, October 14, Reggae Marathon, December 1

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Running topless in the dark

Approaching the 2 mile aid station at last December's Reggae Marathon 10K, there I was getting overheated again.  Wrong top!  That presented an interesting conundrum.  Keep my top on and suffer or remove my T shirt, run topless and stay cool.  And although I see myself as a finely tuned long distance runner, the harsh reality is that I'm a middle-aged, tending toward pear-shaped runner.  What to do, what to do?

After I passed the aid station I decided that darkness would indeed be my friend that morning.  I removed my top!  Let me remind you though, we start the Reggae Marathon in total darkness at 5:15 am.  With the sunrise shortly after 6 am I was motivated to keep my pace up so that I would not scare too many kids at that early hour.

From then on I enjoyed a number of benefits of running topless in Negril at Reggae Marathon.  First was the immediate cooling effect of the early pre-dawn breeze.  No uncomfortable heat build up to slow me down. Nice. Then, when I grabbed water at the aid stations, I got to squeeze the refreshing cold water from the plastic pouches over my head and shoulders. Really nice!

" Hey good looking...Keep it up"
But I got a really, really nice surprise...shock actually...from running topless. As I approached the 4 mile mark I heard a shout-out:  "Hey good looking...great pace...keep it up". I almost jumped out of my Pumas!  "Who me?"  Was she shouting at me?  Never in a million years...OK, in 30 years of running...has that ever happened.  For a lovely long moment I savored the complement...until I realized she was a course marshal and was shouting encouragement to all the runners.  Nevertheless, it was enough motivation to pick up the pace.  With grin from ear to ear I headed for the finish feeling strong.

Modesty did get the better of me as I closed in on the finish however.  I did put my top back on for the finish line photo.  With finish line photos, multiple smartphone cameras and official photographers, the thought of me running topless shared on Facebook forever was too much.

I was inspired to share this story because I heard about a 'bare' 5 k on the beach race from a friend recently.  That race takes place in broad daylight.  Male and female runners participate.  They run in running shoes...and nothing else.  That's right, 'butt naked'.  I know that's how athletes in the original Olympics competed and the 'uniforms' they wear today leave little room for modesty (Check out these uniforms from the Jamaican Olympic Team).  

And yes, I know what you're thinking. If he ran topless in Negril, shaved his head for the Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge can full 'starkers' be far away?  

Until next time...

Follow me on Facebook at Run for Heart.  Races for 2012: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 1/2 Marathon, October 14, Reggae Marathon, December 1

Photo courtesy of Anthony Foster, Reggae Marathon