Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Running for pleasure

I enjoy running for pleasure, as crazy as that sounds to a non-runner. 

I was reminded of that last week after a conversation with a non-runner who just couldn't get past the best thing I enjoy about running: Just running.  I was challenged to explain how I found pleasure in the repetitive act of running.  I trotted out my usual explanations: The health benefits I've experienced after years of running...blood pressure, weight management, stress release.  I noted the friendships and shared experiences from running, especially the Reggae Marathon experience I look forward to each year. I almost ventured into my planned 100km run in 2018 but that would have caused his head to explode. Nothing broke through.  He was simply unable to understand or appreciate how someone could go running for pleasure.  And that's when it came to me.  

"Don't work so hard".  "Lower your expectations". "What if you fail?" 

And what if I do fail?  If it wasn't fatal, it wasn't a failure.  Getting back up, licking the wounded pride and moving on again...that's the real pleasure I get from running.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I'm still alive

"I'm still alive!"

Screaming my head off singing along with Eddie Vedder and 18,000+ Pearl Jam Fans a couple of weeks ago at the ACC in Toronto. And doing it courtesy of my Son, Andrew.


Getting up there in age and feeling it from both a work and running perspective. On the work front it's been challenging finding a new niche but with the gig I started last fall things clicked into place: Automotive, digital, marketing.  I love cars, have been in marketing my entire career...did someone say I can play...er work...on my computer all day?  Sweet spot!

On the running front I've endured a number of years of injuries.  Some self-inflicted as I changed my running style.  But this year it's fallen into place:  Running easy and racing again!  Good to be back!

"Is something wrong, she said
Well of course there is
You're still alive, she said
Oh, and do I deserve to be
Is that the question
And if so...if so...who answers...who answers...
I, oh, I'm still alive"

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What I really think about running

What do I really thing about running?  And about runners?  Well...

Running is a pretty boring and monotonous sport. At it's heart:  Left, right, left, right...repeat until done.  Humans have been running since, well, since before we were human.  The first thing we learn as babies after we've learned to walk is to ... run! Baring a few exceptions, all of us can run.  A few of us do it for sport.  And to hear us talk about it!!  For such a simple sport, we sure have a lot of technology to talk about.  From what type of running shoes to wear to 'performance' fabrics and clothing to the technology that allows us to monitor our every step...and broadcast it to the world (or at least our friends on Facebook).  For such a simple sport, we runners sure talk about it a lot.

At first glance, running would seem to be a solitary activity.  Who of us hasn't gone out on that early morning, pre-dawn run with the explicit goal of not seeing any other people, especially other runners. It can get masochistic: How early to get up to beat other early morning runners.  OK, maybe that's just me.  Running may be an individual activity but it is a social one.  Runners talk about training runs, pacing, breathing, upcoming races, personal bests. And we talk about these nuances to anybody who'll listen.  If you're married, take a moment to thank your spouse.

Social Media has helped spread the word about running.  Back in the day I went to races as a mostly solitary experience.  Yes there were lots of other runners and occassionally during a race a few of us on a similar pace chatted.  But mostly I trained alone and ran solo.  That changed when Facebook entered our lives. I met all of my current running friends online on Facebook.  The tentative virtual conversations were the first steps as we talked about running and planned our first meet up in Jamaica at Reggae Marathon.  That was seven years ago. The group has expanded with new friends joining us online and in Negril but one thing remains the same:  The highlight of our running year is meeting up at Reggae Marathon each December.  Some winter mornings when it's cold and the bed is warm, it's the only thing that gets me up and out the door.  I don't want to disappoint my running friends.

What do I really think about runners? We're storytellers.  We can take the most mundane experience...how we stopped to re-tie our shoelaces for example...and turn it into a story.  One that we tell endless and that gets embellished with each re-telling.  And maybe non-runners won't get it but that's their loss.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ran my race

I ran my race on Sunday.  And it felt good!

I was ready for the Sporting Life 10K this past Sunday.  I'd trained well in the few weeks leading up to race day doing speed-work and distance runs. Last week I tapered according to plan including a rest day on Saturday.  No alcohol for the week either and I went heavy on the pasta for a couple days prior to Sunday.  I was ready to run my race.

Sunday morning in the pre-dawn I ate my usual small bowl of oatmeal washed down with coffee and a couple glasses of water.  Since I was taking the TTC to the start I also packed an energy bar for the 40 minute bus ride across town to the start.

My tunes were set:  "Two Step" by Dave Matthews Band followed up by Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On".  Pitter patter, let's get at 'er!

It's a big crowd of runners at the Sporting Life 10K and as usual the race organizers were well prepared to handle us with lots of knowledgeable volunteers and port-a-potties.  After changing into my race shoes...Puma's of course...I had a final bio break, checked my bag and headed out for my pre-race warm up:  Short sprints to get the legs turning over quickly with some recovery jogs.

I lined up at 7:40 am in the Green corral.  That was for runners running a 55 - 60 minute race.  I expected to finish faster but wanted to be at the front of the pack at the start.  30 minutes to stand in place waiting for our start time of 8:10 am.

Fun fact:  The first wave of runners started at 7:30 am.  My son Court and his wife Amy started in that wave.  Court's expected time was 41 minutes.  He finished his race as I started!

At the gun, I got a great start.  Fast and comfortable. Despite the adrenelin, I stayed on my plan and didn't get sucked into following faster runners early on.  That proved fortuitous.  Around 6 km my left hamstring tightened up and I had to slow for about 3 km's before I picked up the pace for the final km.  While my overall time was a few of minutes over my planned 52 minute finish time, I was very pleased:  Over 1 minute per km faster than my first race in April at the High Park Spring Run Off.

Overall finish in the top half and also in my age category.  Dam that hamstring! Now some time off to allow the hamstring to heal before my next race at the end of June.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Passionate about running

I fall asleep some nights thinking about my run the next morning.  Truth be told, I plan my next morning's run as a way to fall asleep.  Works every time.  Running is good for the mind as well as the body!  I'm pretty passionate about running.

It's been a crazy start to spring in Toronto with snow and sub-zero temperatures dogging us right through April.  And even now as we start May, the pre-dawn temperatures still hover low single digits.  I ditched my full-length winter running tights right after the Spring Run Off 8K race in High Park early April and switched to my short, summer tights.  That's been incentive to get moving and keep running fast.  It's not beeen too bad most mornings if the wind has been calm. On those mornings with the north wind blowing...remember the line George Costanza made famous when he came out of the cold ocean, '...there was shrinkage'?  Thankfully I don't meet many non-runners.

I don't let a lot stop me from running.  Colds and flu are minor nusances...I generally run even when sick.  Raising my internal temperature helps me get better faster.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!  I run in all weather conditions.  I love running in the rain...brings back the kid in me.  I confess though that when there is visible lightning I think about not going running.  OK, I do more than think about it...I don't go running in thunderstorms (Sally may be reading this).

This coming Sunday, Mother's Day, I'm running in my second race of the year, the Sporting Life 10K. I've been dreaming about it for the past week and as we close in on Sunday it'll get more intense.  My strategy is pretty simple:  Start toward the front of my coral, find an open track on the outside of the pack (sidewalk if I have to) then run like hell straight down Yonge Street.  Personal Best here we come!  Yeah, I'm pretty passionate about running.

Until next time...