Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year

Happy New Year!

New Years is typically a solemn time for me and my family. It serves for me as a time to reflect on the preciousness of life and the value we have every day we are alive. It is a time to make an angel proud. I know my angel is proud.

I am wishing everyone a wonderful and meaningful 2010. May it be full of great times both on and off the road, trails and track.

Things I Love
Getting Carded: At 31.5 years old I was carded tonight while picking up supplies for tonight's festivities. The best part is that I was carded by a youngish Asian lady. Her surprise at my actual birth date gives me an unexpected boost of confidence. Mr. Pan you have some competition!

Mileage:
Wednesday: 8 miles and weights with core

Happy Training!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Back on Tempo

Tempo Tuesday is back!

I ran a 30 minute tempo tonight and it actually felt good. I have a few niggles and my whole body aches from my new weight routine but other then that it was great. One thing about tempo runs is that they seem to cover a lot of territory. I started my up-pace section at mile zero on the Seawall, ran across Stanley Park Drive then along the Seawall to False Creek. I finished my run heading West, close to Granville Island. I finished my run with a 3 mile cool down. An exciting aspect was getting a cheer from my club mate Kevin.

What do you think about spandex/Lycra? It is one of my favorite things! I wear a lot of spandex. Most days I train in either long tights, 3/4 tights or spandex shorts. All my underwear have Lycra in them and all my new jeans have a touch of Lycra. If I could somehow find a pair of trousers with a hint of spandex that would be appropriate for work then I would pick them up in a snap. As it is now I do not think it would be a appropriate to wear my running tights to the hospital. Although some of the female residents have been wearing leggings and there is no rule against wearing spandex. The only rule I am aware of is that I am not allowed to wear jeans. Tights and a collared shirt would not only make a fashion statement but I think it would also get me a few dates as my gifts would be readily available, if you know what I am saying. Maybe I will hold off on wearing my spandex to work until I am senile or very, very eccentric. I can still dream though.

Things I love
Fruit Cake: There is no worse insult as a kid growing up as 'fruit cake' but I think fruit cake is great! Every Christmas my mom sends me a modest chunk of fruit cake. As a child I thought it was the most repulsive trick of a dessert one could invent. I thought that taking something as wonderful as cake and fucking it up with fruit was a total and complete disaster. I was so filled with self loathing that I vowed not to eat a bite. It may have corresponded with coming out of the closet when I tried my first fruit cake and it was wonderful. A good fruit cake has a touch a alcohol, a firm structure and a nice finish with no after taste. It is rich so you only need a little piece. I am going to savor my morsel of fruit cake. I never know when I will get another. Things I love Fruit Cakes!

Mileage
Tuesday: 10.5 miles, 30 min tempo

Happy Training!

Monday, December 28, 2009

8 Pack

I have an 8 pack of solid abs.

Recently I have started going to the gym. As I am already lean it really does not take much for my muscles to show. I am still super skinny but at least I am getting veiny. There are a couple goals of my weight work. One being to increase my appetite. I need to eat more to enable training at a high level, it is still a struggle. The second reason for weights is to lay the ground work for obtaining a muscular frame once my running days are finished. I hope to teach my body how to lift and activate the muscles so when running stops I will have an explosion of muscular attractiveness.

I want muscles to be attractive but also for function. How so? Research suggests that those who maintain lean muscle into older adulthood with a body mass index within the normal range (21-25 kg/m(m)) maintain their functional independence in activities of daily living better then those who are either over or underweight. It is a good thing to hit your 50's with some lean muscle mass. I feel it is much better to live to 80 maintaining a meaningful lifestyle then stuck in a wheelchair or in a long term care facility. I have really got to stop this long term planning.

This morning I had an inspired run on the Seawall and in Stanley Park. I did not have to hold back today as it has been a week since my procedure and I am sure I am healed. I was not feeling 100 percent but I will attribute this to the antibiotics that I have been taking. Thankfully I am finished them today!

Things I Love
Spring Awakening: I love musical theater. Love might be an understatement. If I could turn back time and have a new career I would be on Broadway (although it is never too late?). I downloaded the soundtrack to Spring Awakening this morning and I am totally in love. It is so different and so good. My favorite song so far is Mama Who Bore Me followed by Touch Me. I have become a bit obsessed.

Things I Hate
Online Dating: If you want to torture yourself for a few hours try online dating. I can guarantee to each and every one of you that you have never had a date like mine. I now measure success on a date by getting a free ride home at the end of the night and not having to tell the guy that I do not like him. An added bonus during the date is if there are drink specials so that I can soften the pain by getting drunk while not spending too much money. When going on an online date it is very important to park your expectations at the enter key.

As I online dated on the advice of a wise friend I will give some advice to those who may yearn to try something new. I would suggest you meet in the evening at a place that serves alcohol at a decent price. To prepare for the date have 1-3 drinks. If you tend to be naturally nervous like me then maybe try adding an extra beverage. Ensure you check out the venue for the date prior to the event to find an alternate exit in case of emergency. If you meet the person and they do not look like the photo from the online site do not be alarmed, this is normal. Nobody actually puts up a photo that resembles what they look like. If at any point your date begins to look like your older sibling quietly excuse yourself and leave. If you find yourself tracking the number of words you have spoken the whole night because the other person did not shut up then you may want to use the alternate exit you located earlier. If the person starts to talk about their bedbug infestation run to the alternate exit. If the person starts to talk about the bathhouses in town you can just leave through the front door.

By the end of my little experiment I made a game of trying to find out why the other person is online dating without actually asking them outright. But then I thought, why the hell am I doing this? If this is where I have had to go for the prospect of meeting someone then maybe that is a sign to abandon ship. As a wise friend said to me (and I will paraphrase what I heard rather then what she actually said) 'you have to be prepared to live the rest of your life alone and be happy with that.' At this juncture I would much rather spend the rest of my life alone then go on another online date. I will keep my 8 pack to myself!

Things I Hate, online dating!

Mileage
Sunday: 0 miles
Monday: 7 miles, weights and core

Happy Training!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Incentive

I have lost my motivation to train.

I feel great. I am in a great mood, I feel fit and I have had a great holiday so far. Christmas was non-traditional with a delicious salmon meal and a group of gay men. I have had a few easy runs and few trips to the gym and some core work. I have taken time to go for walks, take some photos and adjust to a slightly slower pace of life.

The thing is, I feel great. This is the best I have felt in a long time and I have to admit that part of this feeling is knowing that not only do I not have to run mileage but that I cannot because of my recent surgery. There is a weight off of my shoulders.

When I take a moment to sit back and think about why I run there are a plethora of reasons. When I take a moment to reflect on why I race the reasons are becoming fewer and fewer. I love competition but I think I am starting to lose my drive to succeed. Up until recently I did not really think of the choices I have made to run faster as sacrifices, looking forward I am thinking of the sacrifices I will need to make to run a good marathon.

It is not that I want to spend more time being gay, I want to spend more time being myself. I would really love to add some muscle to my tiny frame and I would love to be able to walk pain free when I wake up in the morning. I would love to go for drinks after work and not worry about getting in my workout. I would love to have a salad at lunch and not worry about vomiting when I run. I would love the freedom to make last minute decisions and random travel plans. As it stands I have my life planned until May with marathon training with a few open spots for a bit of randomness.

I love running. I love the freedom it affords me in the moment and in many ways it is how I play. At present I love running because I am fit and it feels easy. It is many years of training that have made running easy and total joy for me. Without training and competing it will be a quick road to 'out of shape' and then running with lose it's appeal and I will have lost something that means so much to me.

I guess what I have to find in my life is balance. A balance between the joy of training and running and my desire to have a less regimented life. By working less in the new year I will be able to be more flexible as I will have more time to mix up my workouts and train. I also have to realize that I only run for me. Running is totally mine. I do not have a sponsor nor do I have anyone telling me to run. There is nothing forcing me to run besides my intrinsic desire to train and my love of running. I will also have to find a balance between the need to be lean and light and my want of a muscled frame.
Maybe my new years resolution should be to try and find balance. Although I am also thinking about my plan for the next 6 months and what races I will be doing and travel. Oy, this is tough...I am loving the energy with time off and also love to plan my next success. Strangely absent from all this 6 month planning is a man. I think love has gone to the back burner. I guess with my lack of motivation I wonder is something going to give or will I get an epiphany of some sort?

2010 will be interesting!

Mileage
Thursday: 6 miles and core
Friday: 6 Miles and weights with core

Happy Training!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In The Bag

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.


For the past few years I have been searching for the perfect bag to fulfill my needs. I have been looking for something leather that can fit my gym gear, work stuff and other essential items. I am sick of hauling my huge Speedo backpack around. Fate intervened on Sunday when a chance stop into Club Monaco made my dream come true.

After my long run in the morning I had a relaxing day. I had arranged to meet a friend of mine in the evening, but of course I left the condo a little too early and wanted to kill a bit of time before heading to her place. I popped into Club Monaco to check out the merchandise and see if there was anything new (they turn over stock constantly!). I was on the main floor when, from across the room, I noticed a brown leather bag. With a thrill of excitement I sauntered (stay cool at all times) over to the bag to check it out. From the exterior it looked fabulous with textured brown leather. It was also of a size large enough to hold all the things I require. The shoulder straps were the perfect length with the interior of bag lined with enough pockets to be utilitarian but not so many as to enable losing everything or searching for hours for that gym membership card. I was in love. Then a jolt of reality as I checked the price tag, way too expensive.

Disheartened, though optimistic that my dream bag exists, I went upstairs to see if I could find some highly discounted work clothes. Upon cresting the stairs and rounding the bend I saw the bag, in the discount section. I was shocked and this time did not saunter to the bag. It was at least 30% off and with another promotion the price was dropped by 60%. I shuddered with glee as I imagined myself going to the gym with my first class bag. I checked the bag and it was identical to the one downstairs. I guess if something should put me into the Christmas spirit it is a Christmas discount!

I am excited to hit the gym and the town with my new bag but alas it must wait a few days. I have to take a few days off of training to heal. I had a minor procedure which will require rest to enable effective healing. Hopefully if the pain and bleeding have stopped I will be able to run on Thursday! In the mean time I am recuperating at home while catching up on some reading, (I am determined to finish War and Peace) doing some work I have neglected and generally resting. It is nice to get some time to get caught up.

Mileage
Monday: 5 miles and core
Tuesday: 0 miles
Wednesday: 0 Miles

Happy Training!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Wise Man

My mother always said something along the lines of..."A man is often wise until he speaks."


Everybody is an expert. We have become a society of Google 'Know it alls' where everyone has an opinion on something and the right to propagate their opinion. I am getting tired of this. I know there is some irony in this as I am blogging and sharing my opinion but let me explain. When I write I write about what I know. I write about running and training from my own perspective in relation to how I live my life. If I were to comment as an expert I would draw on my extensive education in kinesiology, Science, History, English and Occupational Therapy to come to a conclusion. I would not comment on astrophysics as I have no idea about such a topic.

If I had a dime for every overweight, inactive person who told me, as a matter of a fact, that I would have bad knees from running I would be a rich man. The circumstance that your uncle chuck started running after 10 years sitting on the chesterfield and then got bad knees after running 40 miles a week for 4 weeks does not make you an expert. Uncle Chuck has bad knees because he was inactive for 10 years. And the overweight person has a much higher risk of having osteoarthritis at the knee joint then I ever will. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that running has a direct causative effect for knee injuries. There is actually evidence to suggest the contrary. Running does not cause bad knees. Overweight Olive with all the opinions, you are wrong.

Of concern to me is the growing trend of citing regular people in newspapers as experts or the trend to run a poll asking opinions on topical subjects such as the health care system or global warming. I have nothing against regular people, quite the contrary, I think they can be wonderful (I almost blogged today about how I am having an amazing day today except for when people got in my way, ha ha!). Just because you are between the ages of 18 and 60 and live in Canada does not mean you know anything about global warming. A survey that reports on the front page of the newspaper that 60% of Canadians believe in global warming does not make global warming a true occurrence. It is the researchers and scientists that show us, with empirical evidence, that global warming is a reality. It is the melting glaciers, fried coral reefs, extensive drought and fucked up weather patterns amongst other things that is leading experts to conclude that the world is heating up at alarming rates. One could survey Canadian children between the ages of 1 and 6 and find that maybe 90% of them believe that Santa Clause squished down their chimney and placed all their gifts under the tree. This does not actually make Santa real.
People seem to have an opinion on everything, especially online news. I find the comment section both enlightening and also aggravating. Everyone is an armchair expert. I was reading an article this morning on the giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy. Our Canadian skier skied out of course and crashed with minor injuries, though not as severe as the other 5 Canadian skiers who have had their Olympic dreams destroyed due to injury. One comment was something like, "Canadian skiers should not be racing leading up to the Olympics, they should be going down Whister all day." To the uneducated person who has no idea how to train for an event this may make sense, but it is wrong. One can be the best athlete in the world but if they do not know how to compete then they are nothing. To learn to compete one must compete. Success breeds success and confidence comes from winning. Besides, there are inherent risks in training as evidenced by Kelly Vanderbeek's crash in Val D'isere training.

I have been to a few parties etc. over the years when people, upon hearing I am a runner, have gone on to tell me how to train and that I run too much etc. I have even had someone tell me I am too skinny to be a runner and that their buddy ran the Sun Run in 28 minutes the previous year and she only started running a couple months before the event. When I respond with "she? What is her name because I am sure I know her?" They will give me the name of some random woman who may be able to run 1:28.00 for 10 km. When I kindly try to explain that 28 minutes over 10km for a woman is world champion level the person will at first look perplexed then comment "wow she really is fast, I had no idea!" Further to this I will clarify that you are wrong, your female friend did not run 28 minutes for 10 km at the Sun Run and your advice on running was both misinformed and stupid. Just because you have a friend that runs does not make you an expert on running. Just because you went to gym class does not mean you are an expert in exercise physiology. Just because you are fat and ran for three weeks with knee pain does not mean running causes knee pain. You were wise until I heard you speak.

Today was my long run day and despite the rain I had a great run with a couple of exceptions. First, and this is a general shout out to Vancouverites, make room on the trails! Let's get closer this holiday season and start taking up less room. Grab the hand of your loved one or walk arm in arm and get out of my way. Two people should not take up an entire 5 foot wide path. Second, take your dogs and shove them. I came very close to a severe injury today when two large dogs collided into me. When on a long run every muscle in my body tightens up. Any push or jolt can cause spasm or injury. After the collision I stopped to stretch my battered leg and see where the dead beat owners were. Of course they were unapologetic and thought it was quite comical. I mean come on, everyone knows the ideal place to have a hunting dog is in a downtown Vancouver, 400 square foot condo. I think it is cruel and unusual to have a beautiful hunting dog who wants to run locked in a condo. A dog that loves to run belongs somewhere where it can run without intruding on other people's access to the trails of the city. If you cannot control your dog, which is 100% inappropriate for the city, I should not get injured as a result. I must have been in the mood to run because within the next few miles of this scary incident I had a smile back on my face as I floated the last miles home.

I guess I better do some research on the appropriateness of dogs to cramped indoor environments. Pot calling kettle black?

Mileage
Sunday: 15 miles

Happy Training!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

8 Minutes

I may have gotten into the Christmas mood but first a recap.

Wednesday after work I had a good 10 mile long run which left me exhausted and drained. I find it interesting how I can run for over an hour and feel wonderful and upon stopping feel like dirt. It is not a bad feeling per se but more of a different feeling. It is a feeling of wanting to crawl into a warm bed and never leave. It is feeling like staying in the shower for an hour away from the world. Physically I felt great on Wednesday. I felt quick and light and had no problem getting my feet off of the ground.

Thursday was a struggle. I had talked myself out of running several times on the bus ride and walk home after work. I ran a few errands and decided to go out for a short run and see how I felt. If I was having fun I would do my workout, if not I would run home and eat supper. Once out on the streets I was excited to be running and I felt great. I finished my warm up and decided to run my tempo as planned. One mile into my tempo I felt a searing pain in my left Achilles/Calcaneal tendon where the tendon begins to attach to the bone. I tried to push through the pain as I was running well and feeling great. Within a few strides I had to stop and hobble. I did a few drills to try and loosen my firing tendon to no avail. I decided to jog home to prevent any further damage. It was a very slow jog home. I have very little residual pain and there is no pain on walking. I think it was a very good decision to cease my effort when I did.

Friday I ran a new personal best! It was the VFAC annual Christmas party preceeded by the first annual VFAC Beer Mile. The beer mile is an event that consists of drinking a can of beer then running a quarter mile repeating this pattern until the mile is completed. I got to the track early to test my Achilles, it felt good. As I was finishing my warm up people started to arrive for the beer mile. I slipped on my spikes, laid out my beer in front of the spotlight and prepared to drink. The key to a beer mile is to be able to drink fast and run fast. If you can do one but not the other then you will have issues trying to finish this race. I am a runner and not much of a drinker so I was hoping to not be last. The gun* went off, the cans were cracked and we were off. As the first drops of beer fizzed into my mouth I cringed at the thought of trying to force 3 more cans of beer into my body. The guys in the club were very quick with the first can and consequently found myself at the back of the pack. I decided I wanted to get through the first 400 in first and then try to hold on to not be last. I ran my heart out that first 400 and it actually felt great, the best I have felt in months. I was able to catch all the guys and was in the lead by the time I was rounding the turn to head into the home straight. I hit the transition zone in the lead.

It was at this moment, when I was gasping for air, when I realized I might have wanted to pace a little better. It was very difficult to drink a can of semi-warm beer while trying to oxygenate my muscles. By the time I was through my second can of beer the majority of the participants had passed me. I ran the rest of the race and almost vomited only once (nobody vomited which is excellent, no penalty laps). The last beer was very hard to drink but I did it. The last lap of the race was about getting to the finish line in a respectable time. I felt a twinge in my Achilles as I was running down the back straight so I backed off a bit. I crossed the finish line elated with a time of 8 minutes. A new personal best! The race was won by Paul who dominated from the second beer. Coming off of an injury this is a great performance and will serve him well as he heads to Sweden in the new year. Maybe he will be able to find a good Swedish beer mile to dominate.

Fifteen minutes later the 4 beer hit me and I was in a happy place. Luckily I was already showered and dressed by that point and was good to go. The Christmas party was wonderful. I was excited to be back with runners after a bit of a vacation from the running world. VFAC is full of great runners who also have a deep understanding of the sport and the place it holds in life. It was refreshing and motivating to sit and chat about running, life, love and more running. After some struggles with motivation this will add to my tool box of memories to get me out the door on those dark rainy days.

The party last night and a box of gifts from my mom have put me a little bit into the Christmas spirit. We are also getting close to the turn around point of the year when the days start getting longer again. As the second part of the long run seems easier once at the turn around I am hoping the days getting longer will give me more energy. I am also happy that I have worked my last full week for a while. I am excited to have a bit of free time to relax, enjoy the mountains, enjoy Vancouver and to run.

Mileage
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: 4 miles
Saturday: 5 miles

Happy Training!
*There was no gun but I thought it sounded better then ready, steady, go!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December Dilemma

At one time in my life December was one of my favorite months. Things have changed.

I should be running right now, instead I am cowering inside, away from the cold rain that is much too common in December here in Vancouver. I can console myself with the realization that cold rain in the city equals snow in the mountains but even that is not working at the moment. And I also understand that it is much easier to train in the rain then in the freezing cold of the rest of Canada, but gosh is it hard.

I think I have a bit of seasonal affective disorder. Consecutive days of dreary weather often put me into a bit of an ornery mood. I find it very difficult to head out the door to get my workout in when I know that within seconds of my feet hitting the pavement I am going to be soaked and cold. Knowing that I have to run an additional hour both cold and wet provides just about enough incentive to change into a warm pair of sweat pants and crawl into bed with a good book. Usually I force myself out the door but the accumulated trauma of getting cold and wet takes a toll. Add into the mix the pitch black darkness and the requirement to run on hard concrete or asphalt and there is little to no incentive to run. The last nail in the coffin is having to do a second workout in the rain. It will not happen today. Today's goal of 8-10 miles with a tempo will not be reached. Besides, my clothes are still wet from yesterday's run.

Now that I live in Vancouver my understanding of seasons has changed. I no longer think in terms of winter, spring, summer and autumn but rather rain versus dry. At the present time I am thinking December would fall into the dark/dreary/rain time of year. We have had a good summer and fall of beautiful weather but the body does not store up summer sunshine to be used at a later date. We must endure the cold wretched weather with a resolute constitution. I am afraid my resolution is fading.

I have decided I do not like the month of December. May was once my least favorite month but now I think it is December. Regardless of where you live in Canada Decemeber is a difficult month for training. This is the month when the Treadmill may become one of your most consistent companions. This is the month when one recovers from a year of racing and training and also begins the long road to fitness for the early road races and for indoor track. December also has a host of events to distract one from training and many occurrences that could possibly interfere with a long run or training run.

I also find December difficult because of the 'Holiday Season'. As I have blogged before I am a former Christmas nut. I would decorate everything in sight including the dog. My gifts would be well thought out with the theme for the wrapping paper chosen in late summer. I would start playing carols in late October and would have several advent calendars. This is not how I feel now. I am excited for the Holiday Season to be done. There may be several reasons for this. One would be work. Formally Christmas meant holidays and a good break from school, now it equals a 4 day weekend. I have to work on Christmas Eve, kind of puts a damper on any holiday cheer. Another reason, as I have mentioned earlier, is the December weather. I do not like snow but it sure adds a Christmas cozy flavor to the air. This heavy cold rain really brings me down. I do not go to church which may be another reason Christmas does not move me the way it used too. Midnight mass was always one of the highlights of Christmas and it is a ritual that I do miss. My last reason for not being into Christmas is the lack of a loved one in the city.

Christmas is a time to be with family or a special loved one. I do not have any close family in the city which makes the holidays tough. It is always wonderful to go visiting and catch up with everyone. There is a comfort with being with family over the holidays that makes Christmas special. Family traditions and the environment of childhood all add to the warmth and love felt at Christmas. Nothing I could ever attempt to create would compare with the magical feeling of Christmas in rural Nova Scotia. Whether it is sitting by a roaring fire, taking a drive to look at the Christmas lights or going out to cut our own tree, it is truly an enchanting time of year. The other aspect my Christmas world is missing is a special someone. This is a time of year when being single and lonely is especially apparent.

Another thing about December that sucks, the very short days.

I am going to try and survive December. It has been rough so far, I hope it does not get any worse.

Mileage
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 0 Miles and a Swim

Happy Training!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Goal

Every day I wake up in the morning with a goal, and 9 times of 10 I accomplish that goal.


It just so happens that the goal I wake up with is in regards to my obsession, running. One of the best things about running is that although there is a giant goal at the end of all the training, every day we get to accomplish a little goal. I enjoy achieving my goals and it makes me feel a lot better about myself when I do. Today's goal was a 15 mile long run. Goal accomplished.

Like a continuous dripping of water on a piece of granite, small goals over time can create great change. By keeping the big picture in sight while succeeding with the little goals we can not only accomplish a huge goal but also boost our confidence along the way. I absolutely love the feeling of hitting my times in a workout or seeing my building at the end of a long run. Although tired after a long run I feel a glow of fulfillment that lasts throughout the day. I also find it useful how sometimes the most satisfaction comes from the most challenging goal. As an example, on the days I make it to the gym before work I feel like I could conquer the world for the remainder of the day. Even the soreness of my chest or quads provides a memento of the goal I had already accomplished while most others were still in bed. I love goal setting and I love accomplishing my goals even more!

I have to be honest. I have had a tough past few weeks. The past weeks have caused me to take a step back and really evaluate my goals in my life and how I want to feel. I am feeling like I am heading in a new direction. I recognize that it is impossible to be happy all the time. I believe sadness and disappointment provide opportunities to evaluate the life we live and make changes for the better. And besides, how would we know we are happy if we were never sad? I think 2010 is going to be a good one.

Mileage
Wednesday: 8 Miles
Saturday: 8 Miles
Weekly Total: 56 Miles

Sunday: 15 miles

Happy Training!

Friday, December 11, 2009

In Sight

The finish line is in sight.

If things go right I have only one more week of full time work! I am exhausted after a long and difficult work and training week and I am ready for part time. The thought of working part time makes me so excited I can hardly control myself. More then having more time to train, I will have time to do more of the things that are really important to me like cooking good meals, reading and exploring the city.

I was exhausted after work yesterday and did not feel like running. I am still in the building phase of my training period and I am only running when and for how long I feel like. Although I have a weekly mileage goal I am not tying myself to that number, yet. After mailing my Christmas gifts to my Family I decided to take the day off training and have a glass of red wine before heading out to meet a good friend for dinner.

Tonight I was exhausted again after a busy and demanding day of work. I felt the need to run to organize my thoughts and reflect on my week and more specifically my day today. I ran a Seawall run around English Bay, False Creek, through the Down Town East Side and then along Coal Harbour to Lighthouse Point. Within the first few steps of my run I was home. I did not feel pressured, I did not push the pace, I just let my legs carry me along. Running is a freeing exercise for me and takes me away from my real life and into a reflective and sometimes imaginary dream world. It is a time for my mind to wander in an awake dreamlike state (If I ever pass you running and do not acknowledge you it is because I am off in space). Tonight's run flew by in a split second though lasted for over an hour. I did not even mind the cold.

Mileage
Thursday: Red Wine 0 miles
Friday: 9 Miles

Happy Training!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Resolute

There are only a few precious weeks left of 2009 and I am starting to finalize my New Year's resolutions.

The best resolution I have ever made was to start running. Ever since sticking to that resolution all the rest seem to pale in comparison. It is with heightened expectation that each year I decide on a new resolution.

I must be honest and report that running has been one of the few resolutions I have stuck to. The only resolutions I seem to be able to stick with are usually related to running. One year I decided to lose 10 pounds so I could run faster, and I did. It is the more 'fun' resolutions that have failed me. For instance, a few years ago I decided I was going to go out more. After 3 weeks of partying I got tired and did not go out again for at least 4 months. I have made a resolution every year since coming out that I was going to get a boyfriend, and you can see where that has gotten me.

This year I have two resolutions. First, be frugal. I seem to spend money like it is growing on trees. I want to spend less and be more frugal! Second, I want to work less. I am trying to facilitate this resolution and it may just work. It would be a dream to be able to work part time and train part time. Working part time is by no means an effort to be a professional runner. I am by no means under any delusion that I will be fast enough to earn money to run. Working part time is about living a life that makes me happy. I want to live each day like it may just be my last and slogging into work every day does not inspire me. When my body is ruined from training I will have plenty of years to work, for now I want to enjoy my life when I am at my peak. I am also tired of the constant exhaustion that accompanies my work days. I hope my New Years resolutions are a success.

Today I ran in Stanley Park at twilight. It was not as dark as last week which was nice. The sunset was brilliant with the rich reds, yellows and orange reflecting off of the majestic Pacific contrasting nicely with the dark mountains of the Island. Although I find the weather a bit chilly I must admit that I love running on evenings like tonight. There is something about a crisp clean Canadian winter evening that conjures images of sitting next to a pond and lacing up the skates for an old fashioned game of pond hockey. It would be on evenings like this when as a kid I would go to the pond below Grandma's house and skate for hours. On special occasions we would light a bonfire beside the pond and have hot chocolate to warm our frozen bodies. All this is in many ways a cliche of the Canadian experience, although for me it is true. I was very fortunate to have a quintessential Canadian rural childhood complete with moon lit cross country ski trips through glistening virgin snow, big snow storms and the only hockey I every played (and very rarely) on a frozen pond. Although I loved all winter sports my heart will always lie with alpine skiing.

All this thinking of winter sport is making me excited for the Olympics!

Mileage
Tuesday: 8.5 miles

Happy Training!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Miles

Even when I am sad, running always makes me feel better.

Mileage
Sunday: 14 miles and Core Workout
Monday: 8 miles

Sunday, December 6, 2009

God Bless

I have just found out a friend of mine who was a great training partner and motivator has passed away in a snow shoeing accident. I am in shock.

He was young and full of energy and a wonderful partner for a good long run. He was always ready with a quick quip or a word of wisdom. I was looking forward to having him as a training partner and friend and now he is gone. After writing yesterday's blog I was anticipating one of his wise comments, this will not be. I will have his voice in my head (the comment he left on my blog) and his spirit on my shoulder.

It seems unfair that someone should die in the prime of their life. It is difficult to understand why things like this happen and at moments like this the concept of 'everything happens for a reason' seems vacant and vacuous. One thing a tragedy like this does is it helps me to take a step back and really appreciate the life I have. Life is a precious thing and we should live each day to it's fullest.

I was going to send Pete a note to see if he wanted to long run next Sunday with me. He will be there in Spirit.

Remember to live today for we do not know what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Speed Play

Today has been a challenge.

I rolled out of the wrong side of the bed this morning filled with cynicism and a good dose of generalized anger. Feeling sorry for myself I made myself a lovely breakfast, put on the laundry and went for my first of two workouts today. My run this morning was good. I did a Fartlek which is also known as speed play.

For me a Fartlek is about running fast and having a good time. To me play means no set times or specific paces. Today I ran a workout something like, run fast to Siwash rock, recover until I get close to the fat man, run hard to the trail head, then jog to Brockton Oval. Once at the oval I completed a full set of drills and strides. I felt very out of shape during my drills. I could barely get full range of motion and my quads were tired and a bit sore. By my 5th stride I was at least feeling somewhat close to normal although I have a lot of work to do before I am back in shape and ready to race.

Upon arriving home I had a quick lunch and headed into the the nightmare known as holiday shopping. I used to love Christmas. Now I see it as a merely mass commercialization. I think if people sat down and thought about Christ Mass they would stop celebrating this holiday. This is a day about the birth of Jesus Christ that some how got turned into Santa day and a reason to buy a bunch of useless junk that people will forget about in the 10 seconds it takes them to reach for the next gift. I finished my shopping this afternoon, which is a very good thing. I returned home, wrapped the gifts and now just have to pack them up and pop them in the mail.

I was much worse for wear after my shopping excursion though was comforted by the excitement of heading to the gym for a second run and a weight/core workout. I packed my giant backpack and headed to the gym. As I was getting closer to the gym I became more and more excited as I thought of the pace I would run, the number of crunches I would do and the abdominal exercises I would add to my routine. I was thinking of my very comfy running shorts, the hot powerful shower after the workout when I noticed the gym was closed. Flash back to the last time I was there when I quickly glanced at some sort of notice saying the club would be closed on 'such and such' a date for the annual Christmas party. I turned around and headed home. I am disappointed that I did not get my second workout in today.

If you are attentive you may have noticed that today I was planning on heading to Whistler to ski with Skiout. My plans A, B and C did not work out. I think I am the only person who can have 3 possible methods to get to an event and have all fall through. I am a bit superstitious and I believe everything happens for a reason. Although things happen in life that really suck it is all for a reason, to help us learn and to make us better in some way. I am really disappointed I did not get to ski today, the conditions were exactly how I like them (hard, fast and icy with great visibility). I am more disappointed as I missed my last real opportunity to hang out with gays before really committing myself to training. I am unsure when the next opportunity will present itself but one thing is for sure, I will not be able to Skiout until next season. All dates fall on Saturday or Thursday. Running is my first priority and the thing that makes me happy when I am all alone and sad. If I want to make significant gains this year I must concentrate on great workouts and mileage.

I want to make a quick point in regards to a comment that was written in regards to the online version of the Globe and Mail article on homophobia in sport that I was part of. Many heterosexuals of a more conservation nature will say something along the lines of "I don't care if you are gay just don't shove it down my throat by printing articles about it in the newspaper. Nobody says, 'hey, look at me, I am heterosexual!'" I would encourage everyone to look around the next time they are walking around a town or city. Take a look at magazine covers, billboards and window displays and tell me what you see. What you may notice is the overt heterosexualization of almost everything. On the bus shelter there is the image of a diamond ring with some sentimental syrupy line about how a diamond ring is the true symbol of heterosexual love (if you need to be given a diamond worth a few thousand dollars to know your fiancee loves you then you have some issues with your relationship). The covers of magazines are laden with captions telling women how to provide fellation to their boyfriend effectively or how to land the perfect man. I do not find this offensive. What I find offensive is that the pictures of half naked women on the covers of mens magazines with articles on how to sleep with your girlfriend's best friend is acceptable to conservatives but an article on homophobia in sport is seen as 'shoving a gay agenda down someone's throat'. I do not think any of the 10 commandments mention anything about being gay but I am pretty sure that there is mention of coveting other peoples things. Hmm, it seems like keeping up with the 'Jones' is a bigger sin then being gay. It is time for the conservative haters to take a look at themselves. Let those without fault be the first to cast stones. I wrote a blog once saying that I was not proud to be gay, that it just happened to be part of who I am. It turns out that I am proud to be gay. I am here and queer and you outta get used to it.

I am fired up and I like this feeling. I have a long run in the morning and I am getting excited already!

Mileage
Saturday: 6 Miles
Weekly Total: 42 miles
Happy Training!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Look How They Shine

Tonight I had a glorious run in Stanley Park and on the Seawall.

I rushed home from work today and immediately changed into my running gear in an attempt to get to Stanley Park before dark. I was craving a run on the trails and was very determined to get there before sun down. In my determination to run in the park I threw caution to the wind and ran into the trails in the twilight. My run tonight was the perfect way to start the weekend.

At home in Nova Scotia I am perfectly comfortable running in the forest after dark on a moon lit night. I have strong reservations about running after dark in Stanley Park. Tonight I took my chances and I am pleased I did. The trails were deserted, the woods silent except for the scraping of my feet on the loose crushed gravel and my almost silent breathing. It was like I was in a different world. I ran a loop in the main section of the park then crossed the causeway and descended to run a lap of Beaver Lake. This was the highlight. The trail leading from the causeway to the lake was dark and dreary and a little bit scary. Upon arriving at Beaver lake the trail widened and to my right was the glow of the sky reflected on the perfectly still waters of the lake. There was a slight mist rising from the glowing water but not so much to hinder the reflection of the stars. I took a second to stop and admire the quiet beauty of my surroundings and take some time to appreciate the unbelievable city I live in.

I took my favorite trail down to the Seawall then jauntily ran my way home, all the while admiring the man made beauty of Downtown. In all I ran just over 6 miles with a few fast pace sections in the scary sections of the park. I ran especially fast through Lee's trail. Tonight's run was one of the reasons why I love this sport so much.

There are certain things that I miss when I am not training. One thing in particular is the first glass of chocolate milk after a long run. It tastes and feels very good to have a cold glass of chocolate milk after a good effort. Something I missed and am happy to have back.

Mileage
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 7 miles
Friday: 6 miles

Happy Training!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mother Superior

When god closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.

Under the theme of climbing every mountain I have had a busy and interesting weekend. I have been trying to broaden my perspectives while on my training break to mixed results. After a few weekends of going out, attempting to meet people and dating I am ready to return to my normal reclusive self and focus on running again. It has been fun but also frustrating. I was happy to have a long run yesterday with a good run today to regain some sense of normalcy in my life.

I have gone through the revolving door of the dating world. To be honest I have never really ever had a good date. I can compare it to my experience running the 300m indoor. I got really nervous before the event as it was something that I wanted to do well yet I was unsure if I was going to be a good fit for this event. Upon starting the race (or dates) I felt both relieved and really uncomfortable while finding myself floundering at the back of the pack. Towards the end of the race I was able to find my legs and push hard to the finish line to place second last. The race went by so fast that I was barely conscious of how painful it was and how I was not suited to the experience. On reflection after the race I realized that I was not the worst 300m runner in the Maritimes, but pretty close. I feel the same about dating. It is anxiety provoking, uncomfortable and the results are usually not terrible but very close. Upon reflection after almost every date I have been on I think of how painful that was and have a sense of relief when it is over.

With the door just about slammed on dating I am beginning to realize a couple of things. First, I am not meant to date or maybe I am undatable. Second, without a boyfriend I will have much more time to devote to myself and training. With the door to relationships closed the window to focus and selfishness can be opened. I see others who are in relationships, especially new relationships, and regard the amount of time they spend with each other, doing nothing but staring into each others eyes and gently stroking each other, as a total and complete waste of time. If I am running 100 miles a week I will have time and energy to sleep, eat and be grumpy. Not auspicious for building a solid relationship. When I am training I need to be selfish to protect my goals and my body. There will be no late night dancing or painful and depressing dates to clutter my sparse lifestyle and add to what will be a very delicate countenance.

When I look back on the last few weeks I can at least be comforted with the knowledge that I tried my hardest with all the tools possible at my disposal to expose myself to the world of the gay man. I have gone to several clubs in the city multiple times. I have been on quite a few dates and I have shamelessly used this blog in an effort to meet men, all to no avail. When it comes right down to it, maybe I am an outlier on the bell curve of love. I can be heartened by the words of Mother Superior when speaking to a terrified and in love Maria. "When god closes a door, somewhere he opens a window". The freedom to be by myself will open a window to training that others do not have.

I am adding yet another feature, mileage. I have gone a few years without counting mileage, that stops this week as I get serious.

Mileage
Sunday:10 miles
Monday:7 miles

Happy Training!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Making the Globe

I have had a wonderful last 3 weeks culminating with a direct quote on page three in the weekend edition of the Globe and Mail.

When I started this blog I wanted to show that there was more to being gay then partying and copious amounts of anonymous sex. To see a full page dedicated to gays in sport in Canada's leading newspaper is both encouraging and exciting. To be part of this movement is truly phenomenal. There is a movement afoot where eventually a young gay man or lesbian will no longer have to make a decision between sport and life.

Today I started training again. I did my first tempo on my way to Marathon. It was a tempo on the treadmill as I was a little less then thrilled to run outside in the cold rain. I also like that the treadmill shows how far I am running and I can run a specific pace. I ran a 2 mile warm-up at 6:43 pace per mile. I revved the treadmill up as fast as it could go and ran 2 miles at 6 minute per mile pace. The third mile of the workout I bumped the incline up to 2 for 1/2 mile then the last 1/2 mile put the incline at 3 (I have no idea what the incline number means or what it relates to). I was into my last quarter mile when the treadmill stopped. I was very frustrated but quickly reset the machine and got back up to pace rather quickly. I ran an extra quarter to make up for the machine arrest. I ran an easy 7 minute mile cool down.

The workout felt really good and I was ready to suffer and hurt. I was just starting to get into the drive of the workout when the treadmill stopped, funny that I can outrun the treadmill. I have been working on my core and I can feel the effects, which is good. I have also been doing some upper extremity work and I can feel the effect as well. I did 3 sets of push-ups yesterday with the last set to failure, ouch. The thing about my core routine is that I do 2 minutes of planks with my push-ups started without stopping, immediately after the planks. I am quite sore at the moment though I really like this feeling.

I was thinking last night that I would have been in Guelph today had I run well at BCs. This may be an instance of 'everything happens for a reason'. I am feeling wonderful and well rested after a great break from running which was precipitated by a less then stellar run. I love running but at times I need to get away from the obsession and the running world itself. It is easy to get caught in the mileage talk and the expectations of workouts and training. The accumulated trauma of expectation can cause burnout. Although I would have loved the opportunity to race this weekend I believe having the last few weeks off, in combination with starting my training now, will bode well for the upcoming season. I want to be in shape and running big miles by February and an early break may just enable such an aspiration.

Tomorrow I have a long run in the morning then some fun in the afternoon. It ought to be a puddle jumper!

Happy Training!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Bell Tolls

Recovery continues to good effect. After staying most of the day in bed on Sunday I woke up on Monday feeling great and ready to attack the day. To report surprise at waking feeling well rested and alert would be insufficient. I was both relieved and pleased to be able to feel better then expected. I went for a good run in the evening and finished off some tasks that I had been procrastinating. Tonight I swam with EBSC and it was enjoyable.


I was thinking about bell curves last week. We can place almost any phenomenon on a bell curve. For example; There are a few people in the world who cannot run. There are many people who are average to run and then there are only a few who are really fast. To graph the numbers with the number of people on the vertical axis and the 10 km race speed on the horizontal would present a line that looks a bit like a bell. To be mathy, most people lie within 2 standard deviations from the mean but within almost every sample there are individuals who lie outside this broad category. These individuals are very different from the mean and are outliers. All my life I have tried to be on the upper edge of the mouth of the bell and I have been able to get myself somewhat near this coveted area. With alarm I wondered, what if it is possible to bell curve love?

The average person falls in love after dating a few people, being happy with what they got, then gets married and life goes on. There are some in society that fall in love at first sight, have a passionate affair and then 50 years later they die in each others arms, while making love to each other and telling each other how much they are still in love. Then there is the last category. The lifelong spinsters who have never had an intimate sexual relationship with another person nor has had someone whisper into their ear how much love they shared. These are the people who have never been in love and have spent a lonely life looking for the one thing they really want, to fall in love.

I am wondering if I am the outlier on the down side of the love bell curve. I honestly do not think I am, but sometimes I worry. It would not be the first time I was on the down side of the bell curve. I was not a very good softball player, I hate hunting and I cannot fathom how to make love to a woman. I guess what is concerning is that I really want to fall in love though I could care a less about doing the things I suffer through. To not fall in love would be tragic but there are people in the world that this happens to. I want to ride the front of the wave of the bell curve. One sight and it will happen. I just have to find it.

Tomorrow I will have to run at the gym as I have a busy evening planned after my last day of work this week. I have been working out a bit every day this week and I am feeling good.

Happy Training!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fearless

I was just thinking, wouldn't it be nice if life was like today, then I realized it was.

My day started with an 'early for a Saturday' wake-up in preparation for the Fearless Project photo shoot. I ran over to Stanley Park for the photograph session at 9:00. I was met by Dean Nelson and Jeff Sheng at the initial site for the shoot but due to poor light conditions we moved to the Brockton Point Lighthouse to complete the shots. After warming up it was time to start. While I was running a mile or so Jeff and Dean set up the lighting on the crest of a hill with the Lions Gate Bridge in the background and the majestic, mist covered North Shore Mountains. When I was warmed up and Jeff was ready to go I pulled off my warm-ups and we began.

The actual shoot was pretty basic. While Jeff would adjust lighting or change film I would run to keep warm then go to a specific spot for the photographs. It was very cold with a pretty good rain shower starting half way through the shoot. I was wearing a small singlet and shorts which facilitated a mighty good chill. I basically looked at the camera, that was it. There were a few pointers (relax your hand, look at me, warm-up) but very minimal. I did not have to pose or do anything weird. It was quite quick as well which was a good thing because I was freezing.

Once the shoot was done we returned to the original meeting spot where we met a nice gentleman and a camera man to talk about the shoot. They asked me a few questions on camera (I believe I came across as a really dumb runner) then filmed me running a bit. By this time they were setting up the second shoot with a Mountain Biker. Overall this was a good experience and a way I can make a contribution to the gay community.

I have ranted on the blog on how I do not belong to the gay community, I do not identify with the community and do not really understand the community. That may have been born of over training or a few frustrating circumstances. What I have come to realize over the past couple of months is that I do belong to the gay community and live a 'gay' existence. I was asked a question today 'What is your favorite thing about being gay?' I could not think of anything. On my run home I was trying to think of one thing that made me happy to be gay. What I thought of is being different.

If I could answer that question again I think I would say something along the following lines.

"My favorite thing about being gay is that I can be different. I always wanted to be the same as everyone else, then when I came out I was different, I had a label. It has not always been easy to be the different one when everyone seemed to be the same. Even within the gay community I am different then everyone else. The thing about being different that is liberating is that I do not have to play by anyone's rules. I can wear a pink shirt and skinny jeans, I can fool around with anyone I want whenever I want, I can be an elite athlete and also be no one. I do not have to get married and have kids, I do not have to be responsible and I can spend all my money on me. There are very lonely aspects for me being gay but they make me stronger in some abstract way. Being gay has made me a better person, a stronger runner and a has taken a healthy chip out my shoulder. Being gay is my thing and it wears well. I could not imagine it any way else!"

I am feeling very rested and relaxed, well into my break. When I was running this morning I got the training bug back. I am going for a long run tomorrow to get the lungs cleared out and maintain some fitness. It has been a couple of weeks so it will feel nice.

Happy Training!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Compliments Of

I find it amazing how some of the most offhand comments can be wonderful compliments.

Tonight I swam with EBSC as I continue to enjoy a bit of a break from hard training. I was very tired when I got home from work today leaving me less then enthused to lug my giant Speedo backpack to the pool to swim a few kilometres. To report that the swim revived me would be a bit short of a lie. I walked out of the pool tonight wired for sound. It felt like the pool water was somehow infused with the essence of Redbull. I am not primarily a swimmer and I do not have years of training to help me keep my stroke but I am keeping up and not swimming too bad. I was even asked tonight if I swam with UBC.

This question was not meant to be a compliment. The person who asked this question may never had seen me swim, yet him asking me this question made me feel very good about myself. To be mistaken for a swimmer when I am out of shape and swimming slower then I am used to gave me confidence in swimming again. It is good to know that when it comes time to train and compete Ironman I will be able to get my swimming back quite rapidly.

It is often what people do not mean by their comments and questions that shows us so much. Whether we take something as a compliment or a complaint is very nuanced. Some statements can be quite obvious such as "Skinny jeans make people look ugly!" when they are spoken to a person wearing skinny jeans. The person wearing skinny jeans will feel ugly even though that may not have been what the speaker had intended. Instead, if the speaker said "Skinny jeans make people look ugly! Except you, because you are so beautiful that you could wear anything including a Trisuit and make it look hot". The person wearing skinny jeans would then be happy though that may not have been what the speaker intended.

It is these indirect statements that can have the biggest impact. Often the overt compliment has a strong effect although can be viewed with suspicion. "What does that person want?" may be a first question of one who is complimented. As compared, an offhand comment provides the opportunity to understand how friends, acquaintances, and strangers feel about us. These comments may either boost our ego or crush it like a Royal Daulton figurine under a steamroller. Comments that are delivered from a neutral party with no intent or hidden agenda are the most honest. This is when we can build a picture of ourselves in the view of others. Of course this tendency may also serve to misinterpret what may actually have been meaningless.

I still have a few more weeks of break which is starting to seem like a really long time. I am starting to feel out of shape and ready to work hard again. I am almost starting to feel myself gaining weight which, although wanted, sends a shiver of fear through my body. It is at this time when I want to go out and run hard for 15 miles. It will take a few months until I am ready to get fired up for a good 23 or24 mile long run after running 80 miles already that week. Wow, I am really going to suffer through this, ha ha!

Happy Training!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Recharge?

What does it mean to recharge? I am taking a novel approach to the concept of recharging the body and mind by going out and sleeping less.

I have been running very little the last week and a half. I run when I feel like it for how long or fast I feel like. Yesterday I got back to the gym and tried running on a treadmill. It was actually not that bad. The only issue is that the treadmills do not go fast enough. I am thinking when I am running high mileage I may run either the morning or evening run on the treadmill and the other on the roads/trails, just to mix it up a bit. I also did my first core workout since I got my 6 pack in the spring. I still have the 6 pack, which was an 8 pack at one point this summer, so there has not been a tonne of incentive to work the core until I saw a photo of me at BC Cross Country where I am severely hunched. I need to strengthen my core to enable stronger running. If there is nothing for the legs to attach too then one cannot run.

Of greater importance the last week and a half is the number of times I have gone out. I have gone to 2 gay establishments and spent some time with some colleagues after work on Tuesday into the late hours of the night. Last night I visited a predominately gay lounge in the 'gay village' of Vancouver with a good female friend of mine. As I have been quite critical of 'the gays' in past posts I must now admit that I enjoyed myself last night. It was actually quite fun to be in a place with many hot men. My friend seemed to be on a mission to boost my ego as well as she continually told me that I was getting checked out by just about everyone who entered the lounge. I still did not get approached by one man and there were no phone number exchanges but I still feel like the night was a success. It is brilliant to go out, see many hot men, and feel like one of them.

This time of recharge has been very important for me. When I am training and not racing that great I tend to become negative and easily upset about almost everything. Instead of focusing on what makes me great I look to the flaws, the missing pieces, and perseverate on them. I am naturally optimistic, and I would argue one has to be optimistic to be an athlete. An athlete has to be able to learn from failure and focus on the positive aspects of a performance to maintain inspiration to keep training. A good athlete also has to be a perfectionist in what they do in order to continue striving towards their goals. Some may look at the perfectionism and optimism as opposite traits though I believe one cannot exist without the other. It is the dream of perfection, knowing that the perfect race can happen, that keeps me training. It is the optimism of believing that I can reach my goals and running to the best of my talent that keeps me training.

The energy of training and the amount of optimism it takes to get out the door every day may be what detracts from the rest of my life. After a few weeks of rest, while knowing I will not be training for at least a few more weeks, I have started to regain some of my optimism towards all aspects of my life. I will be having a few changes in a couple of weeks, and a few opportunities in the world of the gays to reignite some of my passion towards what makes me unique. What is really exciting is the opportunity to participate in the Fearless Project, combining both sport and being gay. I feel my optimism coming back. Hopefully I can keep Bitter Bert on the sidelines for a while.

While I am very excited to start training for the marathon I am nervous for what may further happen with my romantic opportunities. I know I must go to a place that is hard to survive. I must push my body and mind beyond anything I have pushed before. I am acutely aware of what the outcomes of this may be. There will be many dangers along my path to the marathon including social isolation, burnout and injury. The opportunities to meet a man will also be limited unless he happens to join my running group or is able/willing to track me down on a long run. Even if I were to bump into the man of my dreams tomorrow and suddenly fall madly in love I wonder what impact marathon training would have on a budding relationship (I can hear you all saying, "better get the relationship before worrying what will happen during it"). The life of a distance runner is very lonely, I hope over the next 6 months I can survive both the loneliness of training and the lack of a romantic partner. I hope I can somehow maintain the optimism I can feel coming back throughout the dark cold training days this winter.

The break continues with an easy run tomorrow.

Happy Training!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Window of Opportunity

I am on a bit of a break from training and as such I am abusing my body in a different way. Last night I went for drinks with some friends and I must be honest, I have lost my tolerance. I remember university when we could run a race, spend 10 hours in a van driving home to Fredericton then drink at least pint of hard liquor, dance until 2 am and finish the night at 3 am with the 'poutine lady'. The next morning we would all be at the gym at 9 for our Sunday long run. Today I got out of bed at 12 after a paltry few drinks.

I have become acutely aware of a small window of opportunity I have at present to be a little reckless. I have been looking at marathon training plans and they are scary. I know the training is going to be hard and require a great amount of time and energy but it did not become reality until I saw 100 mile weeks on the schedule. I get nervous to think of the exhaustion I am going to be feeling and the horrible person I am going be when I am at my highest mileage weeks. The next few weeks will be an opportunity to get out on the town a little bit before I become a running machine. When running over 100 miles (160km) a week I doubt I will have the energy to go out and party!

Things I Hate

Cancer: This is an obvious thing to hate. Cancer is an insidious disease that is growing in each one of us. It is the unfortunate who, for whatever reason, have their bodies overcome by this illness. Cancer hit my life at a young age when my dad passed away well before he should have. Working in a hospital I see every day the horrible effects of cancer and it's debilitating and painful outcomes.
I hate cancer the disease but also the fear it instills in all of us. We cannot leave the house without fear of cancer. We 'slip, slap, slop' before heading out, we eat lots of antioxidants, avoid smoke and other carcinogens and inspect our skin, prostate, testicles, breasts (I don't have breasts but ladies should check them) to ensure there are no lumps or bumps. The fear of finding a lump, having a biopsy and potentially hearing the word 'cancer' can throw a life into total disarray.
One of the most difficult things to know is the effect of the treatment for this disease. Looking to train for a marathon I am dreading the pain and fatigue that I will feel. Imagine looking forward to cancer treatment. Imagine knowing that the oncologist is going to push your body as close to death as possible to kill the cancer, hoping not to kill you. It puts training and running into perspective. I guess the one good thing about cancer is the value it can place on a life free of disease. I can see how fortunate I am to be able to train and run.

I think I will take a day off today or go for a green light run.

Happy Training!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hindsight, Retrospect, Looking Back...

Maybe I was a bit over-trained and over stressed.

As I look back on the past 3 months, in light of the great run I had this morning and the wonderful mood I am in, I think I was over trained. After years of training I have gained an understanding of the toll training takes on my body. I have learned the signs of being over trained and when I need to chill out and rest some. The last few months I have missed all the tell tale signs. After a couple of weeks of rest and a few days off I am feeling refreshed for some further rest.

Looking back I should of known. I was easily angered, tired all the time, not sleeping though the night with night sweats, dizzy at work, loss of appetite and general disinterest in what normally gets me going. Small little errors or issues would put me into a sour mood for days which made me less then desirable to be around.

After deciding not to run Haney to Harrison and taking an impromptu easy week, despite planning to train, I woke up this morning feeling tired. So, I rolled over and went back to sleep. Two hours later I woke up feeling rested and relaxed and cheery. I have not felt like this in a long time. I went out for an easy run in Stanley Park and I was back to my dopey smile run. When I am rested and happy I can't help but grin stupidly when I am running, especially if I am running fast.

Looking back on my running performances I was over stressed. A big key in my improvements in running has been realizing that this is what I want to do more then anything else. My races this fall were not like that. I was nervous and anxious or just was not into racing. I was stressed about having to perform to get a good result to send to sponsors or to try and win prize money. I was concentrating on the outcome rather then the process.

I am going to let you in on another little secret. I love figure skating and by 'love' I mean slight obsession. I was watching figure skating yesterday and the commentators mentioned something that can be applicable to running. When a skater is stressed and thinking about the outcome rather then the process they get tight, their shoulders are at their ears, stiff knees and it seems to take twice as much energy to do what would normally be quite easy. Sound familiar? This sounds like my last race!

I guess my goal for the next few weeks is to rest and gain a bit of weight. I never ever thought I would want to gain weight. I am a bit of a bag of bone and muscle at the moment and I think it is getting a bit too extreme. I saw a cute guy when I was out to dinner the other night. My friend commented that he was totally my type when I commented that he was a bit too skinny. Then I realized I was that skinny. Oops.

For some inspiration and to see what one can do when they rise to the moment and compete relaxed check out Elizabeth Manley at the 88 Olympics!

Happy Resting!

Happy Training!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Exhaustion

Do you ever remember a time when you woke up feeling well rested and alert? Does the sound of your alarm in the morning cause you eyes to roll back in your head in order to open? Do you long for sleep? I do.

I honestly do not remember the last time I felt rested. For the life of me I cannot recall waking up in the morning feeling well rested and ready to attack the day. I wake up tired every morning with the thought of calling in to work sick. I dutifully ease myself out of bed with my eyes closed and slowly shuffle and limp, arms outstretched to find the walls, to the bathroom. As I slowly open my eyes to the painful white lights I see only two black eyes with large bags and sunken jowls. Typically, I am so useless when I wake up, that I need to pack my lunch and lay out my clothes the night before. I long to wake up in the morning and look great with tonnes of energy.

Running and racing takes a lot of energy. It is difficult to explain the exhaustion that comes with training. It is a tired that aches in the bones, lingers through out the day, and is resolved through more training. The only time I feel good when I am running high mileage is when I am actually running. When I am generally fatigued I do not ever feel rested, not even when running. I have been feeling this way the last few weeks. I need to sleep and rest my body.

The thing is, I am not alone. The work world is filled with people who are in one state or another of exhaustion. If one is younger they are tired because they are going out in the evenings and on weekends while maintaining a party schedule similar to university. The mid range peeps are up all night for a number of possible reasons ranging from young children crying and needing feedings or the despair of an impending divorce. The elder folk do not sleep due to sleep apnea or stressing over their older children. We are all exhausted.

I think it is time to work less and live the 'dulce vida'. When I think of Europe and their relaxed lifestyle with ample siestas my heart grows green with envy. It would be so wonderful to work a few hours, meet friends for some dinner with a nice red wine then nap for an hour before returning to work. Finish the day shortly after 5 and head home for a late dinner at 8 followed by drinks at the local pub until midnight. How lovely. As it stands now I am totally exhausted and ready for bed.

Time to go to sleep!

Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream, make him the cutest that I've ever seen!

Happy Training!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

When The Going Gets Rough...

...Go Shopping

When I have a bad race or generally feel sad I do two things. I go for a hard run and then I go shopping. It seems the more profound the sadness or disappointment the harder I run and the more expensive a store I need to remedy the situation. This morning I was working my own personal Prozac with a vengeance.

My long run this morning was 10 miles of hard running. I was almost at tempo pace for the duration of the run and I did not care. I ran hard on the soft surfaces and then would recover on the hard surfaces. When I hurt emotionally sometimes the hurt of training somehow makes things feel better all over. After my pathetic run yesterday I was ready to hurt a bit this morning. The biggest feeling I have now is that I wish I could run the race again.

After a quick lunch I hit the street to enjoy the wonderful sunny day and pick up a few groceries for dinner tonight. Somehow or other I found myself at Holt Renfrew. For some reason shopping makes me happy. Usually I can be satisfied with window shopping and trying on expensive clothes. With how my Autumn has been going I needed a purchase with the efficacy of Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT). I was in Holt's and I happened across an amazing navy blue cashmere/alpaca cable knit Cardigan. This Cardigan even has real leather closures. A rush of excitement shook my body right down to my Blundstone Boots. This was the softest knit I have ever touched in my life. I found my size and checked the price, way too expensive. I walked around the store and found myself back at the sweater. The sales person (who was wearing the same sweater vest as I have, omen?) told me to try it on. I went to the change room with butterflies in my stomach thinking of what is going to happen when I tried it on. It fit like I was destined to find this sweater when I needed it most. A smile broke across my face and I realized that there was no way I was going to leave the store without this Cardigan sent straight from heaven. Being that I would like to travel to USA in the future I thought shop lifting would be a bad idea so I broke out the Visa and happily bought myself my second cashmere Christmas present for 2009.
I have had some time to think about what I want to do with running. I still have some decisions to make. One decision that I think I am pretty sure about is starting to marathon. I think it is time. I have to acknowledge that I am not a cross country runner, I am meant for the road. I am going to train status quo for the next couple of months to maintain my fitness then enter into marathon training in the new year. I need to bump up the mileage and commit to running. If I am doing this to the exclusion of the rest of my life I might as well do it right. I would also like to run some track next year as well. I have a few meets in mind and it would be cool to see what I can run for 10,000 metres on the track.

The other big decision I have made about running is that I want to be the Johnny Weir of running. Any figure skating fans out there will know what I mean. In the spirit of Johnny I am on a search for my third and final Christmas present for myself, a new bag! I have been looking quite diligently and have yet to find what I am looking for. I would really like something leather but I fear that leather might be too gentle to throw a pair of muddy spikes into. I think I will hit main street in an attempt to find something that captures my heart and gives me butterflies. If no man can give me butterflies then at least I will have cashmere and a bag that make me happy. Long live commercialism!

Time to braise some brisket.

Happy Training!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Almost

I ran my plan without the result I was looking for.

Today I ran the BC Cross Country Championships. My goal was top 6, I was not close. I do not know where I placed but it was not near the front. I am not happy with this race and once it sinks in I think I will be quite disappointed. I have had some really good workouts this fall so to run a less then stellar race today does not feel good.

From the gun I went to the front to run with the lead pack, as was the plan. I was able to situate myself around 6th or 7th for the first loop. The first loop went by fast and I felt good, although not as fresh as I normally do. I was quite tight and had to tell myself a few times to loosen up and relax. It felt like my shoulders were at my ears. Then the wheels came off and I began my descent down the placing.The 2nd and 3rd laps seemed to take forever to go by. I had a great deal of negative self talk and I was tight. Every step seemed like a struggle to get off the ground, I felt fat and sluggish. I contemplated dropping out at least every 30 seconds and was not enjoying myself. I was passed by quite a few guys and generally fell apart. This is when I also realized that I do not really like running cross country.

By the 4th and 5th laps I was starting to get focused again. I told myself to let go and relax into my stride, like I do in training. This helped and I seemed to pick up my pace a little. My legs started to feel a bit better and things began to go a bit smoother. Then my abdominal muscles acted up. My six pack felt like it was trying to get to the fridge and cramped up quite a bit. Going into the last lap I just wanted to make it to the finish line. I ran as hard as I could although I got passed by another couple of guys to drop down even further. I got really tight and had no speed whatsoever.

As I write this post, and after the endorphins have worn off, I can honestly say I am disappointed in today's run. I gave a good effort but it was not good enough. I have always run well in big races rather then workouts. If I had a fast workout my race would be much faster. I feel like the opposite is happening now. I must admit my Autumn has been a bit up and down with training. I have not been as focused as I have in the past. I am running between two coaches while doing my own thing. I have not run much mileage, my tempos have been dismal although my workouts have been good. When I am running a workout I feel free and the running feels effortless. When I am racing I feel tight and heavy. I need to figure out a way to balance the two. At Nationals I was not intense enough and then today I was too tight. With my placing today I am sure I will not be running Cross Country Nationals this year.

What is even more disappointing is how this is what I want to do more then anything else and I do not engage in other things so that I can run. Running is who I am and when it does not go well I begin to wonder what is the point. I have run this year to the exclusion of all other things including having a relationship. I rarely drink or go out, I seldom interact in the gay community outside of sport and I do not date. What to do now?

Train harder! Looking back at my year it has been a bit chaotic. I have not run a lot of mileage and my workouts have been a bit helter skelter. If I am going to be a runner, to the exclusion of a social life, I better start acting like one and bump up the training. I know now that I have the talent and the drive and the desire to be faster. I do not want to continually find myself disappointed at the end of races, I do not like this feeling. After a summer and fall of having a bit of fun it is time to focus myself and take the steps necessary to be the best that I can be. I only have a few years left of this running business, I have to make hay when the sun shines.

Tomorrow I have a long run in the morning to think some more about my run today and my future plans. I have to make some training decisions and start thinking about next year. Now that Nationals are off of the table I have a month with nothing much planned. I am not running Haney to Harrison. I could run the rest of the Cross Country series races though I am unsure if my heart is really in it. I feel like taking a few weeks off and building my mileage and getting strong. I want to get into the weight room to build some strength as well. I would also like to start double workouts. At least I got some motivation out of this race.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Training!
video

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Change of Venue

I got some very exciting official news today. The venue for the BC Cross Country Championships has been moved!

Rather then tear up the turf in our majestic Stanley Park, we will be tearing a strip off of Jericho Beach Park. To say I am excited about this move may be an understatement. I have run the cross country race course at Jericho Beach every Sunday long run, except maybe 10, for the past 2 1/2 years. As a special treat on my long run, to combat the boredom, I always do a pick-up through the park. I run hard along the grass, over the gravel path and up the muddy slope. I know this route more then any other in the city.

Beyond the familiarity with this loop is the style of course on offer. Whereas Stanley Park was a gut buster of undulating terrain on many different surfaces with many sharp turns, Jericho offers long straightaways on mostly hard packed grass or crushed gravel with merely two small hills to break up the pace. Jericho is much more suited to my running style of getting into a rhythm and hammering out 10 km hard.

Now that I know we are racing on a different course I need to look at my strategy a little more closely. I know that if I want to run well at Nationals, or even make Nationals, I need to go with the leaders from the gun, run hard and hope to stay close to the money. Cross country is not about holding back for a good negative split with a fast time. Cross country is about running hard and competing tough. Cross country is about placement, time is irrelevant. I am very excited to race this weekend, almost vibrating. I have rocks in my stomach! I sure hope I can sleep tonight. This is better then Christmas.

Today I ran an easy 5 miles on the Seawall and in Stanley Park. I had one of those happy runs when it does not matter if it only takes two people to block the whole seawall or that I almost got tripped by two separate groups of dogs on two separate occasions. I was also relieved to avoid the rain again. The weather has been reminiscent of an East Coast fall which is something that I have really missed the past few years. I have to put a huge shout out to the powers that be for granting us such glorious weather throughout the whole summer and into the fall! I am so in love with Vancouver. Best news is that it is raining down here in the city at 7 degrees, almost snow up at Cypress!

Tomorrow, a run to get my game face on, then day off on Friday. Maybe I will wax my skis!

Happy Training!