Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A week tomorrow I'm on a plane to Reggae Marathon

Court and Andrew in Negril for Reggae Marathon
Where did the year go?

A week tomorrow I head down to Jamaica for my 5th consecutive visit to Negril and Reggae Marathon.  I started with the Full Marathon back in 2009, did the Half Marathon in 2010 and the 10K in 2011.  Last year I walked the 10K in my foot cast, broken leg and all. I'm back this year running the 10K again looking not only for redemption but a personal best.

I have a brutal travel next Wednesday with my departure out of Toronto at 6 ish am.  I'm travelling on American Airlines and with no direct flights from Toronto to Montego Bay, I have a long stop-over in Miami on the way down.  The airport has Wi-Fi but they charge so I'll be hunting out the American Airlines lounge which has free Wi-Fi.  If I sit close enough to the lounge I can get pretty robust and reliable Internet connection.  Shhh...don't tell anyone my secret.

After I pick up some Duty-free Vodka in Miami, it's a quick flight to Montego Bay.  I'm already booked with JUTA Negril for the just-under-two hour drive to Negril so with any luck should arrive at Rondel Village, my hotel in Negril, in time to have dinner with my friend Dan Cumming.  Dan is travelling to Negril for his third consecutive Reggae Marathon event and even though we've communicated regularly throughout the year, we'll have a lot to catch up on.  I'll try to keep it to only one Red Stripe that first evening.

The next couple of days in Negril before the race Saturday morning go something like this:  early morning running followed by breakfast then lazing on the beach until lunch.  More sunning and swimming for the afternoon before dinner and an early bed time.  I know, I know...sounds tough.  Don't worry, I'll be able to handle it.

Friday night before Reggae Marathon is a BIG evening.  As part of my job as official Reggae Marathon Blogger and Social Media RunninGuy, I've invited everything to meet me at 7 pm.  If only a few show up at the appointed time, I'll be swamped.  But then again these are runners from around the world who I've communicated with online all year.  It should be fun.

It's early-to-bed Friday night ahead of the 3:30 am wake up Saturday morning.  I'll grab a quick light breakfast before walking the mile or so to the Reggae Marathon start for 4:30 am.  I'll catch up with the rest of the family who have also come from Canada:  Andrew and Carleigh, Carleigh's parents and brother, Court and Amy and of course, 'Sulleh' who is coming from New York for his third event.  I'll be waiting for them at the Finish Line, Red Stripe in hand since they are all doing the Half Marathon.  

With the warm temperature in Negril, it won't be hard leaving the chilly, snowy wintry conditions behind next Wednesday morning.

Until next time...almost in Negril...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Proper Running Form

Courtesy of
Gibson's Daily Run Quotes
I spent many years running not worrying at all about form.  When disaster struck about 3 years ago...first Plantar Fasciitis then broken foot bones...I had to finally think about proper running form if I wanted to continue to run.  And I love to run!

The very first thing I did was change from 'Heel Strike' to 'Forefoot' or 'Mid-foot' running.  It took some time to get used to but now it's completely natural.  It led to a change in shoes:  not fully minimal but I have moved completely away from the traditional 'wedge' running shoe.

I've also scoured the web to find training tips to improve my form and speed.  I found this one recently and like the easy suggestions and training tips.

Enjoy and keep running.  That's my plan.

Until next time...

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Top 10 Running Songs from my mis-spent Youth

Overnight camping on the hike up
Blue Mountain Peak, Jamaica
Or should I call this post, 'Songs that have running in the lyrics that I can remember from my mis-spent youth'.

To be clear, I was not a runner back in university, college, high school or grade school.  In Jamaica I went on a number of hikes with my classmates while at Campion College.  At high school in Canada I tried Cross Country running for a fall semester at Clarkson Secondary School.  I loved the hiking...didn't like the cross country running so much. I remember one miserable run through muddy fields just north and west of Highway #10 and Dundas Street...it was a cold, drizzly fall afternoon:  "I moved to Canada from warm Jamaica to do this?"

I loved music though.  Hard rock which of course might seem odd since I grew up in Jamaica and was exposed to Reggae early on.  Even though I wasn't into running back then, I'm amazed with the 'running' references.  Check out my top 10 running songs:
  1. 'Running back to Saskatoon', The Guess Who.  While on vacation in Canada in 1967 I found a 45 RPM disc lying in a mall parking lot.  I picked it up and despite the scratches it was the Guess Who!  True story.  I already knew 'American Woman' but this song was catchy and oh so exotic.
  2. 'Running on Empty', Jackson Brown.  Just a catchy tune.  I really don't know any other Jackson Brown songs and am not a fan.  I just loved this sone.
  3. 'Ramble On', Led Zeppelin.  I'm still a huge Led Zeppelin fan.  Which is incongrous given the fact that I grew up in Jamaica and was exposed to Reggae early on.  For some reason I loved heavy metal and Led Zeppelin was the best at it.  For me this is the best ever Led Zeppelin song...it helps that it refers to Lord of the Rings as well.
  4. 'Race with Devil on Spanish Highway', Al di Mineola.  Fusion-Jazz;  Jazz-Rock...no matter what you called it, Al di Mineola was and still is a master of the guitar.  This is one of his best.
  5. 'Magic Carpet Ride', Stepenwolf.  OK, this really isn't a song about running but what would a Top 10 list without Stepenwolf.
  6. 'Long Distance Runaround', Yes.  I saw Yes live at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.  Floor seats to boot!  They played 6 songs in 3 hours.  This was one of the highlights.  
  7. 'Downpressor Man', Peter Tosh.  Busted!  As I grew out of my teen years...and after living in Canada for a number of years...I 'discovered' Reggae.  This is one of my favourites.
  8. 'Born to Run', Bruce Springsteen.  I'm not a Springsteen fan.  This is a masterpiece.  Period!
  9. 'It Keeps you Running', Doobie Brothers.  I still am a big Doobie Brothers fan (and no it has nothing to do with the alternative meaning of 'Doobie'.  I love a ton of Doobie Brothers songs...this one because it has running in its title.
  10. 'Run Like Hell', Pink Floyd. Ahhh...by the time this track came on the 'LP', we were usually quite mellow...running was the last thing on our minds.
True confession:  I really didn't have a mis-spent youth.  I stayed out of serious trouble for the most part...my Grand Mother called me 'Mischevious'.  And I met and made friends with guys who are now my best friends.  Must have been the music.

That's my list.  What's yours?

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Training for Reggae Marathon December 7 in Jamaica

It started with a 10K.

30 years ago the goal was to finish a 10K run.   It was called the Speedy Baycrest 10K and it was flat rectangular route in Toronto's North West.  By the time I ran this race, my first ever, I'd been running consistently for about 6 months.  I'd never run the distance.  I figured I could tough it out.  I was wrong.  Not only did I start too fast, I had the wrong clothes (cotton shorts and t shirt) and running shoes that were way past their best-before-date.  I finished.  Well over an hour.  But I finished!  And I was hooked on racing.

Fast forward a few years:  racing through the streets of Toronto nearly every second weekend in 10K races that were the rage back then.  Finishing medals were not popular then, T Shirts were.  I amassed quite the collection of Q107/Coors Light branded shirts...thankfully that have long ago been re-cycled.

A few years later I ran into (pardon the pun) longer distance races the first of which was the Bread & Honey 15 Miler in Streetsville.  Back then we ran along roads north and east of Streetsville Highschool (where the event started and finished) that were farmland. A few weeks ago I drove through the neighbourhood...when did all those houses get built?

I ran a few Half Marathons after that but was fearful of the full Marathon convinced that I could never finish the distance.  That proved correct in my first attempt through the streets of Toronto.  Not until Reggae Marathon in 2009 did I finish my one and only full Marathon.  Reggae Marathon 10K in Negril, Jamaica on December 7.
Waiting and waiting...then waiting some more for
my big Finish at Reggae Marathon 2009.

So while I'm a long-time runner or 'Seasoned' as my friend Dan Cumming often reminds me, I prefer the shorter distance race events such as the 10K. And after running the Sporting Life 10K this past spring, my first race after the broken foot, I've found my running sweet spot once again.  And that brings me to my training for the

I'm obsessed about speed.  Finishing time actually.  I blame that on Dan Cumming who said a good goal would be to finish the Reggae Marathon 10K in the same time as my age:  I'm 55 so that would translate to 55 minutes.  I don't like that one bit so I've been training...hard!  Speedwork and hills the past few weeks with increased weekly frequency in the upcoming 2 weeks before the taper.  So far I've been injury-free so 'touch wood', I should burn up the course in Negril.  I've got a few more pounds to loose as well so the combination of intense workout and lower weight should 'git er dun'.  Plus, I'll need to look good on the beach in my bathing suit.

So if you see me on the streets of Etobicoke racing early morning, don't honk...it'l break my focus.

Until next time...