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!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spiked


Tempo Tuesday was replaced with a tune up workout.

Tonight I ran one loop of the course for this weekend's race at slightly faster then race pace. I wore my spikes to get a feel for the footing and to simulate race day conditions. After my loop I ran a few strides.

My warm up went well although I was not into running a long warm up. I think this was because I was very excited to slip into my spikes and run fast. I did all my drills and strides as fast as I could then strapped on my Saucony spikes. A few more strides and I was ready to go. My goal was to go hard. I ran as fast as I could, within reason.

I felt good today. I have some fatigue in my legs from my weekend training although they feel really good. The foot issues I have been having are resolving, even with me wearing spikes which offer little to no support. My run today was a little weird for a few reasons. First, the course is tough. It is a typical cross country course that does not enable one to obtain any rhythm. As I am a rhythm runner this is a distinct disadvantage. The course also has many different types of footing from mud to asphalt, grass to rocky trails. This makes choosing a pin size difficult as I was losing footing on the grass/mud sections but skidded across the asphalt. I think I will go with 12's and hope I do not fall on the hard stuff. Second, my mind wandered. I have no idea where it went when I was running but once I got to the top of the first hill it was gone until I came over the last hill and tried to drive to the finish line. This is good in that I was running fast while not really trying. It will be bad on Saturday if I begin to day dream and lose touch with the group I am running with.

After finishing my hard effort and my drills and strides I ran home, had a snack, then ran to the pool to run the sign in desk for EBSC. I did not swim tonight as I am tapering. On my run home from the pool I remembered that I got a new 4 litre milk and I have Nesquick. I had a very good chocolate milk.

To be filed under good news. I got my appetite back! I was eating some cottage cheese today after my run and I was thinking that it was tasting really good. Then I had some toast that nearly blew my mind. It was delicious! Tonight I had roast root vegetables for dinner and I nearly ate the whole pan. If I had not set some aside for my work lunch I would have eaten way too much. I finished off my meal with a plate of apple crisp, yummy. I am so relieved to want to eat again. I was getting worried as random people have been commenting on me losing weight. Although I do not want to gain a bunch of weight before racing this weekend, it feels nice to be hungry.

I am getting really excited to race this weekend. I am nervous which is a good thing. I am also excited that one of my friends is racing too. I have never seen her race before so this will be a treat. I have thought about strategy for the race and I think I am going to race as if this is Nationals. I am going to go out as hard as I can and hold on for dear life. It may be ugly but it is how one has to race at a National level. If I want to take the next step I need to start taking some risks. I am running fast right now, it is time to race fast.

I have had a rough fall so far with some tough decisions and a few changes of direction. I feel like I am starting to get part way up the hill. I still have a few tough strides to make, my lungs are burning and I am tired, but I can see the top and people are cheering me on. I may have some very interesting opportunities just over the crest of the hill. I will keep you posted!

Happy Training!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sleep Is The New Awake

I went to bed last night at 8:00. I got out of bed this morning at 8:00. I think I am a bit tired.

I had my long run this morning and it was quite nice. It went by pretty fast although I felt a little sluggish. I also did not get rained on, except for a few wayward drops. I have been very lucky this fall to avoid getting soaked. Running in this weather can be very enjoyable. I find something very romantic about a crisp cool morning. I love the sweet smell of wood smoke in the air, a bit of frost on the grass and in the shadows, a skiff of snow on the rooftops and my breath visible on each exhale. I am not the best cold weather runner when it comes to racing although I find it manageable for a long run.
With the cold weather approaching and winter descending on the city I am starting to get excited for ski season. My first love is alpine skiing. I cried when Karen Lee Gartner won Olympic Gold in 1992 in Albertville, France. When I hit the slopes it is usually with reckless abandon. I bought myself the first part of my Christmas present to myself which is an Edge Card to Whistler. I am very much looking forward to getting my skis tuned and hitting the slopes for some good old fashioned quad burning fun.

The colder weather has also ignited the Olympic Spirit in my heart. Part of the reason I moved to Vancouver was to be in an Olympic city during a games. I have always loved the Olympics and as a child one of my favorite games to play was 'Olympics'. I have a couple of tickets to the games and I am beside myself with excitement. The other night I ran a downtown run and wound up running by 'The Bay' which has huge photos of Canadian Olympians on it's facade. This brought an instant smile to my face which lasted the rest of the run home.

Things I Hate
Being Single: It is a couples world out there. If you want to go on a trip prices are 'based on double occupancy'. There are no seats for one at nice restaurants. There is no special leave to celebrate how much I love myself. Look at 90% of the advertisements on TV, in magazines or on the internet. The one thing you may notice is that they are couples or are pining to be in a relationship. Buy our product and you will have the only thing that everyone wants, to be in a relationship. Even if there is a single individual on the advertisement they will have a wedding ring. Most songs are about love while most movies have a plot line involving falling in love. At work you can take leave if your kid is sick or if you are getting married (two things which will never happen for me). I was in a store and I found an electric tooth brush that I really liked. The only issue was that it was meant for couples. One could only buy two in a package. I asked if I could buy just one for half the price and I was told to give one to my significant other or maybe someone in my family. I have no significant other and I have no family within a few thousand miles. I do not shop at this store anymore. The fact that I have never been in a relationship has given rise to reactions such as "what is wrong with you?" or just plain dumbfounded silence. I have even been advised that as I move into untouchable territory I should start lying about my relationship history. So far I have come up with two good histories. The first, I had a boyfriend but while he was saving children in Africa he got malaria. When he got back to Canada the doctors tried to save him but he died in my arms. The second, I was in a long term committed relationship with a prominent Canadian Athlete but to protect his sponsorship opportunities we could never reveal our love for each other so we had to end it.
I am at the point now where being chronically single is worse then being damaged goods. Things I hate, being single.

Happy Training!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Playing With The Big Boys

Today I ran a hill workout in Stanley Park with some very good company. I was training with coach Richard Lee and his runners Steve Osaduik and Richard Mosley to name a couple. To give you an idea of how fast these men are, Steve holds the record for the Royal Victoria Marathon and Richard was 4th at the Canadian 10 km Championships.

We ran hills today. I definately feel like I am in cross country season. Beyond the cool morning workouts on golden leaf covered trails, I have run back to back hard hill workouts. Today we ran a 'figure 8' loop consisting of an 800 metre gradual hill, a downhill recovery, and a steep 600 metre hill with the same downhill recovery. We did the long hill 4 times and the shorter hill 3 times.

It is always a bit intimidating running with very good runners. It is hard to know how to pace or whether or not to stay with the quick guys. This morning coach Lee's instruction was to run the hills fast but to concentrate more on good mechanics rather then the time. I was excited that there was no timing of this workout! I was also relieved because this meant I could concentrate on being quick off the ground, staying tall and driving through my stride rather then staggering up the hill as fast as I could.

When I woke up this morning running was one of the last things I wanted to do. I wanted to sleep forever. Once out of bed and into my running gear I was a little more enthused and by the time I was at Brockton Oval I was ready to go. I said hello to the VFAC crew then began the warm-up with my group. We had a nice warm up and I was feeling good by the end. My drills and strides were unremarkable. Not great nor did I feel sluggish. Although my mind was tired my body felt good. The workout itself went very well. I was able to run on Steve's shoulder for much of the workout except for the last long hill. I took coach Lee's instruction to heart and actually paid attention to my mechanics. When I felt my core collapsing or my legs losing some range with a bit too much heel I would tighten up and concentrate on striding out to the top of the hill. The funny thing is that when I slowed my stride to focus on mechanics my pace increased and became easier. By lifting and driving up the hill, rather then slogging up the hill, I was able to maintain pace with less energy output. I am happy with this workout and it gives me confidence going into BC Cross Country Championships. Hopefully I will remember my mechanics when I am racing in a weeks time.

Now I am preventative icing my feet which have been sore the last few days. I am also taking some Motrin to reduce some inflammation. Running all these hills also does a number on my piriformis muscles, one of the ass muscles. I could feel it starting to fire up a bit on my cool down so I will have to watch that it does not flare up and cause me any issues. I think I will use the rest of the day to fold some laundry, get a bath and have a good nap. Not necessarily in that order!

Happy Training!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Winter Workout

Tonight I was back with VFAC for one of our death defying workouts on the roads of Stanley Park.

Tonight was a hill workout. This workout consists of an approximately 2:40-2:50 interval with 2 hills and a minute interval with 1 hill. This set is completed 4 times. There is almost full recovery between intervals although I like to push the recovery a bit as I tend to get a bit bored if we wait too long.

After an interesting week I wanted to run hard tonight and suffer a bit. I took Tuesday off due to complete and utter exhaustion and I had an easy run last night. I felt light and easy on the warm up. Sprightly during my drills and strides then sluggish on the first interval. I may have had a bit of built up lactate and other metabolic byproducts from Nationals last Saturday. I ran my slowest interval first in 2:53. My next effort was 2:44 followed by 2:42 and then a 2:40. I was happy with the workout and I felt like I put in a good effort. What was the most pleasing was a fire in my belly to run hard and a desire to suffer that hasn't been there in a while. I was also able to visualize running cross country and placed each of the intervals into a lap of the cross country course. It is nice how BC Provincials is 4 loops with 3 hills and tonight's workout was 4 hard efforts with 3 hills each. The last long interval served as a good practice for Nationals Cross Country as the finish is all up hill. Hopefully I will have a good race next week and get the opportunity to run in Guelph.

Tonight was the workout I needed to get my feet back under me and begin to believe in myself again. I think I was a bit more disappointed in Nationals then I first realized. Although I am in the mix on the national stage I did not run to my potential which is very disappointing. I have been frustrated in every aspect of my life lately and things seemed to have come to a head. Add in total exhaustion and it makes for an ugly picture. It is at times like this when one needs good people in their life to bring some life back.

Which leads me to a new feature. 'Things I Love'. After some reflection I know I need to continue to strive to focus on what makes me happy, hence, 'Things I Love'. Do not fear I am not getting all Pollyanna on you. I will continue 'Things I Hate'. A little bit of salt to balance the sweet tastes so much better!

Things I Love

Good People: I have been very fortunate and very lucky to meet some truly wonderful people in my life. Whether through sport, school or work I have met people who inspire me and have a way with words to make me feel better. We all need a person we can call when everything seems to be going wrong. That person needs to be an ear to listen with a touch of advice, but most importantly to validate the pain, no matter how inconsequential it may seem. I have one of those friends and she never fails to cheer me up with her open ear and wise words. We also need to have people at work who can tell when things just are not quite right. Those people need to be able to take you aside and give you a pep talk and provide a bit of self esteem. I have a few of those people. We also need a secret ally at work and I have one of those too! I am beyond happy to have someone on my team who has a seat right beside me on the 'SS GLBT'. It is in times of crisis or sadness when the qualities of those around you come to fruition. It is an intuitive friend and a good person who can see a suffering heart with a smoldering dying flame. The true person will know to protect that flame and provide the billows and fuel to rebuild the fire. I have these people in my life and for that I am truly blessed.

I am starting to feel a bit more like my old self. I still have a few issues at present with my feet acting up a bit, I feel a bit of a cold coming on and I am getting a little too skinny. When I get as light as I am now I start to get sick and injured and I am scared that is starting to happen. Saturday I am running with the big guns, another hill workout, then an easy week leading into BC Cross Country. I have a new VFAC singlet to wear so it should be fun.

Happy Training!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why Gay?

Last night I spent a few agonizing hours trying to write something specifically about being gay. It was difficult task which resulted in me archiving this piece in favor of the short piece you may have read last night. I have read this post again and I have decided to post it. This blog is an unapologetic expression of who I am and how I feel. I have decided not to censor.

I do not identify with the 'gay community'.

I am sick of being gay. I am tired of having this label that is attached to what I do, how I talk and what I say. I hate having to guess what the other person is, I am tired of having to explain myself or worrying what the other person will think. I am fed up with feeling uncomfortable in the bars and clubs which are supposed to be for my people. I am disgusted with most of what is presented in local gay media, specifically Xtra West. I have also had a series of very negative interactions with those who are gay recently.

I do not hate myself, in fact I think I am really awesome. I am one of the best runners in Canada, I am attractive, I am optimistic, I am smart, I have a good career and do a great job (most of the time) and I am well liked. It happens that I have these qualities and want to engage in a loving sexual relationship with a man which means I am gay.

I have written before that I thought labels were helpful, and I still believe they are. Labels/stereotypes become less useful when used to group items that are potentially unrelated, hence my recent difficulty with being gay. I do not identify with the big, hockey playing jock. But wait, we are both the same, we are gay. I do not identify with the skinny cute raver with an IQ of 70, no education and a part time retail job. But wait, we are both the same, we are gay. Using gay stereotypes I have the potential to be labeled jock or a twink but I am neither. I am undefinable.

The fact that I have been hard wired to be sexually attracted to men does not make me part of the gay community. There is nothing at this moment that makes me part of the gay community. My lifestyle as an elite athlete makes me think of myself as a runner. I compete all over the country and participate in a running club. I belong and am a welcomed member of the running community. My career makes me think of myself as an OT. As such I belong to a community of quirky individuals who see the world through a different lens. When I walk into a room I do an environmental assessment and if with a group of OTs will comment on the wonderful use of universal design. I belong to the OT community. I have a group of friends with similar values and ideals who are both gay and straight. We do not usually participate in 'gay' activities. We have a collective community of friendship. I do not feel I belong to whatever the gay community is.

Recently I have been thinking of quitting running to be gay and to enable joining the gay community. I have considered ditching my friends so that I could be with the gays so that I belong and I become my authentic gay self. I have thought about giving up everything that makes me happy so that I could be a real gay, which made me realize something very important.

I am happy in my life with the exception of one thing, I am gay. The gay part of my life is pulling me from all that makes me glow, all that makes me a person others want to be around. I am becoming a bitter old queen which is not a good thing. I do not want to lose my 'joi de vivre', my love and my passion. I do not know how to be both and I am getting sick of trying.

When I started this blog I wanted it to show that people who happen to be gay can be everything. I do not even know what it means to be gay. I wanted to be an example for young athletes that they can have it all. I do not really believe that anymore. There will come a point in your life when you will be faced with a very important decision. You will have to decide between going to the club to party, try some drugs and have a good time or to go to bed early to get up for the workout the next morning. One day the decision will be to go to the club. You will be gay, the athlete will die (is this the reason many elite gay athletes do not come out until after their career is over?).

As for me I am choosing to be an athlete. I am not willing to give up what is my passion for something that I am struggling to both understand and which I do not trust.

This is now my training blog. As for the gay aspect it has become nothing more then a label. I hope you enjoy.

I got a nice message today after my post last night which has changed my perspective a bit. I still feel alone in the big gay world but I think this is a valuable perspective to share. The solitude of running gay.

Happy Training!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blank

I really do not know any more and I can only write about what I do know.

I am going to focus on what makes me happy, running and friendship. I know running. I am learning that I do not know how to be gay. I do not even know what it means or how to belong to the the 'gay community'. I do not belong to this community.

Welcome to my training blog.

Happy Training!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gonads

I am back from the Oasis Zoo Run/Canadian 10 km Road Race Championships. I am somewhat satisfied with my run.

I arrived in Toronto Thursday evening and went out to dinner with 3 of my good friends from Grad School. It was wonderful to see my friends again though there was one issue. I had a migraine. I have had very few migraines the last few years so I was a little concerned. I took a large dose of Motrin and cut the dinner a little short. Upon arriving at my hotel my roommate was ready for an early night which suited me just fine. I fell asleep (the best cure for a migraine) and woke up feeling much better. Friday I went for an easy run and managed to find a track to do some drills and easy strides. I felt a little sluggish which I took for a good sign. I went Downtown Toronto in afternoon to do some shopping and exploring which was quite nice although very cold. I had a quiet Friday night and was in bed early to get ready to race.
I was woken up early Saturday morning when my roommate got up at 5:55, 2:55 PST. I stayed in bed an extra 1/2 hour then quickly got dressed and went down to the lobby for breakfast. Breakfast did not start until 7 am so I went back up to the room, packed my things, then headed back down to the lobby, luggage in tow, to get myself a bagel and coffee. I was a little panicked as the elite bus was leaving at 7:15. Thanks to a very efficient server I was ready with time to spare.

The organizers had a nice and warm bus for the elites to travel to the race venue at the Toronto Zoo. In front of me was Simon Bariu, Dylan Wykes a few seats back, Olympians Eric Gillis and Malindi Elmore were there as well as all the names in Canadian distance running. To be honest I felt a bit like an outsider amongst all these National Team Members. They were all very friendly but I still felt a little weird. The funny thing was that I was not that intimidated.

I started my warm up and felt good despite the lack of sleep from the night before, the time change and the bone chilling cold. I did a little loop in the zoo to get a feel of the finish. I checked out the billy goats, Siberian Tiger and the Zebras then headed back to the bus to get into my race gear and complete my drills and strides. Again I felt really good. Everything felt light and easy and relaxed. I was not really that nervous and was enjoying myself. We were marshaled to the start line, the horn sounded and we were off.

I went out with the lead pack as the first kilometer was a slow 3:06. The pace revved up for the next 4 km as I split 5 km in around 15:30 as per John's split. After the first km the field of elite runners stretched out and there were several groups to run with. The first 5 km did not feel that fast and if anything they felt totally controlled and good. I felt fresh and was able to run relaxed and free with a few guys close by to chase. The second half of the course had a lot of turns and hairpins and even a set of stairs. The second half was more of an effort as it is in every race. There were a group of us working together. There was a good battle between a few of us although I came out on the losing end. At one point with about 2 km to go I put in a bit of a surge and had a couple of guys on the ropes but I did not push though the surge and secure my lead. Instead of pushing at the crest of a hill I settled into my stride and lost my momentum. The guys pushed on and I fell back. I did not fight to get them and coasted the last km. I finished 17th.

I am disappointed I did not push into the end of the race. I did not have the balls nor the concentration to push through to a top 14 finish. I was passive while racing which is not something that usually happens to me. I can attribute this to a few things. First, I have not raced against a strong field since July. Second, I have not pushed myself to that 'special place' while training and my training has been a bit chaotic and third, I was too relaxed. There was no fire in my belly. I treated the race more like the accomplishment without realizing that it was a race and a great opportunity to do something special.

I am still pleased with some of the people I beat and how close I was to besting some big names in Canadian running. I am getting closer. As per usual BC Athletics also did a wonderful job with the organization and my new uniform and warm-up pants are skinny. They make my legs look like twigs. I love them! The race was very well organized as well and us elites got some nice perks. A very good experience and I hope to go back.

I will take a lot from this race. I have figured out how to do the time change. I am going to stay on BC time and just get up super early on the day of the race. I was not tired for the race at all and actually felt really good. I also feel like my taper was good as well. I was fresh on the start line and felt physically good for the race. The major issue for me was mental. I am not worried about this. This race lit the fire. I can see where I should be and I am kicking myself for not getting there. That is the fuel I need.

The rest of the weekend was splendid. I went downtown after the race and relaxed, had a great dinner at a cozy Italian restaurant with delicious food and great wine then went to a grungy hipster bar to celebrate a stranger's birthday. After only 2 hours sleep, a long flight and an easy run I am beyond exhausted.
Next race is BC Cross Country Championships in Stanley Park on Halloween. Hopefully I will have my balls back!

Happy Training!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Off I Go!

I am ready to fly!

My clothes are laid out, my shoes are drying (rainy day run) and I am feeling great. I had a spirited run today which was wonderful and well needed. I had a couple of days of introspection which have have lit a bit of a fire in my soul.

I have realized that I have let running take over my life again, much the same as when I was in university. Normally this wouldn't be an issue if I was living somewhere like Regina or Moncton where (and don't take offense) there is not a whole lot to do. I live in Vancouver, a mere 2 hours from some of the best alpine skiing and Nordic skiing in the world! This is one of the best cities on earth and I need to start taking more advantage. So I am going to get an Edge card for Whistler again and I joined 'SkiOut' a gay ski club. I need to take advantage of my opportunities. I am still very fired up to run, but I want to start the transition to well rounded individual rather then one trick pony (I must admit that if you saw me ski you would realize that I am not a one trick pony. I was born to throw myself down steep mountains. People who ski with me are usually alarmed at my aggressive skiing, good times!). I also want to get involved in the arts somehow. I love drama and singing, musicals? I will have to work on that.


I have no fire in the relationship department. There are not even any matches or a lighter to be found. There is not any fuel or any means even to make a fire, all has been used or are soaked with disappointment. My friends, bless their souls, are providing heat from their exciting lives and I must be content with being happy for others. I need to be realistic and admit that if something was going to happen it would have happened by now. By getting rid of hope and expectation there will no longer be recurrent disappointment. Just as I know going into a race I am not going to run sub 30 minutes I am beginning to accept that there is no 'Mr. Right' for me. The energy and hope that I would have put into pursuing a man I will try to allocate into other parts of my life like...

...Traveling. I have the travel bug. I almost bought a plane ticket to Italy last night to watch the World Figure Skating Championships in Turin, Italy. In a moment of sanity I did not book anything. Rather I am thinking of traveling somewhere in March, anywhere. There are so many parts of the world I have never been and that I want to explore. I am permasingle and needing to roam and sew some wild oats. Destination to be determined?

One would think that I would be blogging tonight on my race coming up. I have worked hard leading up to this race but it has also been really fun. I have trained with really cool people, run some fun races and have reached all my goals for this year. I am not really that nervous for the race and basically just want to run as hard as I can. I find it strange that I have let running become so central to my life again yet I go into this race feeling relaxed and excited. I do have a lot of confidence in my fitness, that must be the reason.

What a random blog to post before I travel to a big race. I will post a race report when I am back from Toronto.

Happy Training!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Good Vibrations

I am into my taper for Toronto and I am beginning to get revved.


I have written about tapering before and how it is longed for yet when it finally arrives it can be hard to deal with. Somewhere along the lines of 'be careful what you wish for'. I am not going to fully taper for my race coming up as I still have some very important races forthcoming. It is only a partial taper but it is still causing me to be totally wired. On top of being totally wired I have also lost my coping mechanism, which is running.

I am naturally a bit high strung, although I do a good job to pretend to be chill. My mind has a tendency to race and if a bit of stress gets thrown into my life it gets difficult to slow myself down. Here is where running has been such a gift. When I am training or at least running daily my mind slows down and I get rid of my pent up emotion through running. If something unexpected gets thrown into my path I can react appropriately and although I will get stressed it is manageable. Currently I am feeling out of sorts.

To combat this I have been cleaning my room. I spent the morning repacking my walk-in closet, putting away my summer clothes, doing laundry, recycling old clothes and shoes and packing for my trip. I recycled at least 15 pairs of running shoes, yikes, a lot of money! I have also refiled all my paperwork from the past two years, organized all my old racing bibs and now I am about to shred some old paper work that I no longer need. I guess I am trying to organize in my life what I can, while I feel other aspects start to spin away. Everything in my room is now controlled into it's appropriate box/shelf/file.

Maybe the true reason I love running and sport in general is more about control then anything else. When I am running I am in control. A coach can tell me what to do but in the end I am the one who controls my body. I decide when to go hard or when to take it easy. I decide who I am going to run with or what workouts I am going to show up for. I am in control. There are so many aspects of our lives that we do not control. I am blessed that the most important part of my life is in my control, it is mine.

The control I have with running is something I have always loved. I am the youngest in a family of over talkers. Growing up I had 4 parents consisting of my mom and my 3 siblings. I had no control over my life. Running was finally a place where I could go to have control. I could get away from expectations, the fear of disappointing others and run. Running was mine. It was a place I could be gay and day dream about being swept off my feet by some handsome man. I was in control and I could escape the will of others.

As my life sometimes seems to spin out of control I have grown to appreciate running and sport more and more. It may be part of the reason I am now splitting my training between two groups, I need to control this one very important part of my life. Sometimes I wish life was bit more simple, like a fairytale. Straight forward. Grow up, meet a high school sweetheart, fall in love, get married, career, kids, retire, die. My life is not like that at all. It is no where near the fairytale where everything falls effortlessly into place. My life is work, it is hard, and more and more my pleasure comes from running a few good friends. I have given up on the fairytale. In my life it does not exist. The only thing I control is me, and my running. A control that I will never give up.

I am still vibrating after an easy run yesterday and a day off today. Here is hoping they turn into good vibrations.

Happy Training!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Karma

I found Burnaby lake.

Today I ran a workout with a few very fast runners at Burnaby Lake in Burnaby. Fortunately for me I was 1/2 hour early as I arrived at Deer Lake rather then Burnaby Lake. After a little bit of a re-route I found the appropriate spot to meet some peeps for a Saturday morning run. Today we ran 3km, 2km, 1km, 1km. I wanted to use this workout as a final tune up for the race next weekend. The whole workout felt very controlled and pretty good. During the first 3km I had a revelation at the mid way point that I was working hard yet was well above sub 30 minute pace for 10km. Sub 30 minutes is very fast! I was able to run today behind Richard Mosley who is one of the best distance runners in Canada. Even being able to see someone of his caliber up ahead provides motivation to run hard. The 2km and 1km pieces went by very quickly and felt really good. I felt like I was cruising without much mental strain. It is very nice to be fit. After the workout we ran a nice cool down along the trails of Burnaby Lake.

I firmly believe that what you put into something is what you will get out. For me running is a direct example of this. The more you train and the smarter you train the better you will get. The key is the relation between training and training smart, ignorance can lead to trouble. The thing is, you cannot cut corners. It takes years and years of training to become good at anything. There is a piece of natural talent that one must have but there is also a work ethic that must be present as well. Of course if someone got up off of the chesterfield tomorrow and tried to run with me for a month they would instantly become injured and probably never run again. There is a process that needs to be in place to achieve. The negative outcome of cutting corners in running is literal. Yes you will get a better time in a workout if you take the shortcut but when it comes time to race there is no shortcut. I still remember when I was training at UNB and we were out on a team long run. I was running with my teammate Antoine at the back of a small pack. Everyone in front of us took a shortcut to cut some of the mileage our coach had asked us to run. Antoine said to me something along the lines of 'you can't take shortcuts if you want to win'. We kept along the path only to arrive back at the gym quite a ways behind the group. The sentiment of keeping honest with training and not taking shortcuts has stuck with me to this day and is a reason I have gotten faster over the years. I still hear Antoine's voice inside my head when the option of a shortcut presents itself.

Related to this concept is Karma. In Buddhism/Hinduism/Sikhism/Jainism Karma is seen as referring to cause and effect with some influence of god or self will and overtones of reincarnation. With Karma there is no excuse for ignorance so that even a well intentioned deed that results in negative outcomes results in less then ideal Karma. Our Western interpretation of Karma is the idea of 'what goes around comes around'. Many theologians would quiver at the thought of this simplistic and convenient interpretation of a complex philosophy. I like to think of Karma in Western terms as it is much easier to understand and it compliments my belief system well, though this is with a strong understanding that what I perceive is somewhat bastardized. I hear quite often that 'Karma's a bitch". I prefer to think of Karma as a wonderful opportunity to bring good into our lives. The idea of good deeds and actions and pure spirit bringing inner peace and contentment is wonderful and I see it in those around me. I am lucky to have wonderful friends who all have great Karma. They are good people and although they have ups and downs they appear with a bright spirit and a loving heart. How can this transfer to training?

Ever notice how a team culture can lead to great results? I know very few runners who are jerks. There must be something in our shared work ethic that enables us to chill out and be friendly. What I have noticed is how the person who trained hard and was miserable to everyone around them is still miserable once they win while the person who has a great attitude can win but when they lose can deal with it. Yes the miserable person won but after the effect of the win wore off they returned to their negative life. A person who inspires others with their energy and leads through example with a good work ethic and passion for what they do not only improves their own ability but also those around them. The positive energy on the team builds and fosters growth for all involved. In the end everyone improves. The improvement may not be seen in minutes and seconds but rather in passion and spirit. In running the actual competition is only a few minutes to a few hours long. The Karma from the training, team work, support and friendship is what lasts a lifetime. When I think back on my years of training I remember my fastest times and best races with joy. What has shaped me as a person are the moments of Karma. The advice and support of teammates and our shared passion with the hours of training on my own journey have cultivated Karma. Whatever happens I am prepared.

Happy Training!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sharpen Up

One workout to go!

Tonight I ran my Thursday night workout with my club, VFAC. I was craving the Pipeline Road hill workout and I got my wish. This is a hill workout with 6 intervals in groups of 2. The first being the longest and the last two being the shortest. The intervals start on a flat followed by an incline, flat, another incline and a slight downhill to finish. Between intervals we do a stride on the return down the hill. I love this workout.

When we switch from the measured trails to the roads time becomes irrelevant. I never usually know where to stop or the length of the interval so I just go with the flow. It is very freeing to be able to get a time and have no idea what it means or have no recollection of how that time compares to the last time I did a workout. Tonight I just ran as hard a I could and it really felt great. A huge change from last week.

I also got a new VFAC singlet tonight which is light as a feather and actually fits me! I take extra small. I was in a store one time looking at a really cool shirt while the guy beside me was looking at the same one. He was trying to find a large, and I did not think he was that large. I was trying to find an extra small. Extra small. Not just small, extra small. It then hit me that although I had been feeling fat that day I was still a small guy. No, wait, an extra small guy. I do not feel small in the running world, I feel fit and lean. When I am at the start line I feel totally average with regards to my body size. In the real world I feel extra small. When I go to a gay bar I feel like I am going to be crushed by any number of over muscled gym rats or towering monsters. The other day at work I stretched and caught a sideways glance of myself in a mirror and noticed all my ribs showing though my shirt. It was alarming and comforting (You know you are fit when...). I like being lean but it gets to a certain point when the extra small becomes sickly and unhealthy. To run fast I need to be lean and carry as little weight as possible, for real life I want to be fit with some body mass to attract men and to stay healthy. When I am finished my elite running maybe I will set a goal of fitting into a medium, one can only dream!

One more workout to go then a weekend of total rest and sleep and relaxation. Much needed after a busy few weeks.

Happy Training!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On the Sea Wall

Running is coming up roses.


Sunday I had my long run and for the first time, in a long time, I had company for the run. Fellow VFAC runner Peter and I ran together for approximately 14 miles. I normally find long runs one of the more tedious and dull aspects of training. Since moving to Vancouver I have done every one of my long runs on my own with the exception of two, three at the most. What was I thinking? My long run was wonderful with someone to chat with and keep up with. The first half went by in a flash and before I knew it we were at the turn around point and ready to head home. The pace felt fast for the first half and I guess we went even faster on the way back. We were not working hard as we were chatting the whole way. When I arrived home I was tired but not drained from the long effort. A great Sunday long run.

Today I ran my tempo run. In preparation for Road Race Nationals I wanted to run more of it on the Sea Wall then I have been the last few weeks. In total I ran 30 minutes at tempo pace. I was tired yet it felt good. I had a good cool down before heading to the pool for my Tuesday night EBSC workout.

As I am attempting to embark into the dating world I am wondering if honesty is a good thing. Do people actually like honesty or am I aberrant in this opinion? I always try to be honest with others. If I like you and want to date you then I will tell you. If I am on a date with you and I lose interest or I do not like you I will explain that I do not want to see you again. I usually try to word the statement politely unless the guy is a jerk. I can report very mixed results with this strategy from a nod and a handshake to someone moving to another city. I feel that most of the men I have been interested in or who I have attempted to date have not been overly honest or maybe 'forthcoming with their feelings' is a better term.

Men in the dating world tend to be dishonest. Try online dating. If the man reports his body size as 'average' then he is fat and if he reports 'a few extra pounds' then he is grossly over weight. He is usually shorter then listed height, older then stated age and I imagine his penis is smaller then reported as well. When it comes time to meet a man in real life the misleading continues. He may say he is single when dating or long term. His occupation may be totally unrelated to what is reported and no one ever smokes, even when they do. The worst lie of all is when they pretend to be into you when they are not. What is up with that?

I have often said that I would much prefer someone to tell me straight up that they are not that into me then lead me on. I have a vivid imagination and unless I am directly told someones feelings then I have no idea. My own wishful thinking is often compounded by friends advice and observations. In no time at all I can be head over heels in love with someone who would rather sleep with a fully loaded skunk then sleep with me. Why do people lead others on? I have a few hypothesis.
  1. They do not want to hurt your feelings: This is the most noble and what most people say is the reason they do not cut people down or end a budding relationship.
  2. They are incapable of expressing their own feelings: This is a very common affliction. We are taught from a very young age to report not how we feel but rather what is going to make others happy. We are also told to smile, regardless if you are happy or not, because smiles are more pretty and then people will like you. The message to not express your feelings for fear of being unpopular manifests itself in a life of dishonesty to others and to ourselves with an expressed inability to express even the most basic feelings.
  3. People are self absorbed: To put it bluntly, the person leading on doesn't give a fuck about you. They care about one person in this world and that is them self.
  4. Back Burner: I will use me as a potential example. I am cute, fit and I have a good job. I am not hot, not rich and nor do I provide much opportunity for social climbing. I am good enough if something better does not come along. A person is not going to be honest and say 'I am not into you' if they think they are not going to get anything better. They will date a few other people and if nothing better turns up then they did not burn their bridges. (Norm, before you freak out, this was only hypothetical, I know I am awesome and grade A+.)
  5. Men are sluts: This one is obvious. I do not really like you but you give a good blow job, enough said.
I am sure there are many marvelous and wonderful reasons why people are dishonest in the dating world. What do you think? Is honesty the best policy when it comes to dating?

Happy Training!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Come Together

Today is a glorious day!

This morning I had a track workout with my club, VFAC, and it was exactly what I needed. After a very long and exhausting week I was a little anxious heading to the track today. My legs have been pretty much absent this week and I have had a lot of bilateral foot and ankle pain. All of this, on top of a terrible workout on Thursday, left me needing a good day today.

Waking up this morning I felt good. I am not the best sleeper and typically I will have problems both getting to sleep and staying asleep. Last night I could have sleep through a tornado and today I feel refreshed and healed. I cycled to the workout today which provided a bit of excitement, I got harassed at a stop sign by an indignant driver. I will outline the incident in 'Things I Hate'.

I got to the track and did my warm up with full strides and drills. My legs were tired and a little heavy but I felt good. John wanted me to run an all out workout consisting of 400 warm-up followed by 200, 800, 400, 200. The warm-up 400 went fast and easy. The rest of the workout was very quick and only 1 second off of my fastest workout ever. Of note is that I ran by myself for the entire workout. I am thrilled that I ran a 27 second 200 by myself, on tired legs just 2 weeks from nationals. I also had no foot or ankle pain during any of the workout.

Today's workout is one of the major reasons why I run. It is the struggle and fight, the wanting, that makes a good workout so wonderful. It is fighting through a tough day that makes a fast workout seem that much faster and much easier. Today it was like my feet were not hitting the track, I was on top of my toes with what felt like a crisp, long and full stride. It was almost like the track was a hot fry pan and my feet water, fizzing off of the surface, not really touching but rather zooming across. Truly a wonderful and much needed workout. I am very happy and excited!

Things I Hate

Some Drivers: This morning I was cycling to the track, on a bicycle route, when I came to an intersection. I looked both ways and saw there were cars coming so I stopped at the walk button which was adjacent to the stop sign, pressed it, then rolled forward to see if there would be a lull in the traffic or wait for the light to change. An early 2000 model blue Acura comes up behind me and honks it horn to get me to move out of the way. I do not move, it is my road too. The driver then proceeds to drive over, roll down his window and yell at me. He aggressively told me that I was breaking the law because I 'did not stop behind the white line'. He then drove off as I yelled, "chill out!" He quickly stops his car (in the middle of the street, against the law?), gets out, and starts yelling at me while coming towards as if to start an altercation. By this time the light has changed and I am starting to ride off to my workout. As I cycle away I yell back at him "It's Saturday morning, take a deep breath, and relax!"

This incident in many ways made me feel really good about my life, let me explain. I can only imagine how miserable a person's life must be for them to have a total and complete freak-out, on a beautiful sunny Saturday, at a cyclist who is stopped a foot in front of the white stop line. I imagine this white haired angry man at a point in his life when he has realized that his has moved beyond the peak of his life and this is all he has. He is living what he was always supposed to live with his lovely house in Kits, his cold distant wife, children who will put him in a nursing home at their first opportunity and with an old blue Acura. His pretend BMW, a wanna be fancy car for those who want to be upper class but cannot quite afford it. His dissatisfaction with his own life (the realization that he has amounted to exactly what he has always wanted which is nothing) thus was directed towards me. I feel sorry for this angry man. It is depressing to think that living what society prescribes can leave you with such rage and anger. I feel bad that he has such a terrible life that on a Saturday morning he feels the need to make everyone around him feel as terrible as he does. It is pathetic.

As for me I am happy as a tick. It is a glorious Saturday, I have run an amazing workout and I feel truly blessed to have a wonderful life that is not always easy but with peaks and valleys. Today I am on a bit of a peak and climbing towards the top heading towards Nationals!

Happy Training!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wanting It

It was just one of those days.

I was excited to head out to Mundy Park tonight to run my second workout with my new training group. I got out of work on time and got to the Zipcar parking lot just on time. I went up to the car and put my swipe card on the windshield to unlock the doors. Nothing happened. I then noticed that someone not only left a cushion on the driver's seat but also that there was garbage in the car and it was very dirty. Then I realized this was someone Else's car, not a Zipcar. I looked over my shoulder and saw the Hybrid that I booked. Rewind, I did not remember booking a Hybrid but still tried my luck and attempted to get into the car. The swipe spot said, "hold your card until a beep". Three minutes later there was no beep. I called Zipcar and it became apparent that I did not book a car. With no contingency plan in place, or the phone numbers of any of the people I am running with, I made a mad dash to catch the Canada Line home to e-mail Richard before he made his way to the park.

The Canada Line is lovely and a joy to ride. The train stopped at the City Centre Station and I tried to find the fastest way to Robson to catch a bus. Ten minutes later and after getting lost in 'The Bay', Pacific Centre, and Sears I finally hit Robson and got the bus home. By the time I got home I was very tired with a headache, dizziness and general level of frustration. What I wanted to do was crawl into a ball and cry. What I did instead was put on my blood soaked running flats (I did not mention this but my Tuesday workout resulted in some blisters) and do a workout on my own in Stanley Park.

Tonight I ran 5 times 1 km by myself at Beaver Lake. Going into this workout I was not in the best frame of mind. I was thinking of running 3 minutes flat for the first interval and then try to descend the workout. This did not happen. The whole workout was slow, very slow. I was able to descend the workout but it did not feel that good. I was very tired and every time I stopped a hard session my headache came back with a vengeance. Also, both my feet were sore and the blisters continued to bleed and cause pain. By the third interval I was getting upset with myself and was tightening up. It was at this point when I asked myself the question "do I want to do this?" My answer "yes!" I took a few seconds to relax and reflect on why I am running and then I was off. This was the beginning of salvaging the workout. My last interval was the fastest and was respectable. Although it was not of the quality I have been putting out the past few months, I have to realize that 2 years ago I never thought I would run a workout this fast, especially by myself while not feeling well. I was tired and hurting but I wanted to run fast and I want more personal bests. Today's workout is the one that really counts.

I ran a long cool down and by the time I got home I was physically and mentally exhausted. The combination of training, work and life in general is taking it's toll. This is the time when I really feel like I need someone intimate in my life. When I got home I felt like I needed to fall into the arms of someone strong who could hold me together, when I may not have been able to. I felt like I needed to be with someone who understands this so that I do not need to explain myself, my effort, my drive. I needed to be with someone who understands this choice and this love. This is something else I want. I am tired and hurting but this will not help my other want, it will go on.

I sit here exhausted but still excited to race in just over two weeks. I am looking forward to taper time. I got the final details of my trip to Toronto and I have plans to meet some friends and go out for some fun after the race. I may even stay downtown and hit the clubs Saturday night! It will be a welcome break and it serves as a wonderful goal and reward for all this hard work.

Saturday track workout, then one more long run...thank goodness!

Happy Training!