Monday, December 27, 2010

Sponsor!

I have gotten a sponsorship offer!

I received an e-mail a few weeks ago asking me if I would like to have support for my running. After spending my whole adult life training and working towards being the best that I can be, I finally got the offer I have been waiting for. This offer has caused me to stop and think about my goals for the future and what I want my life to look like in the next five years.

I have not run a hard workout since June 2010 and I have barely run two days in a row since then as well. I have had an amazing summer and I am currently loving hitting the slopes and the trails. I am gaining muscle and I am slowly starting to feel like an attractive man. I am content with my running accomplishments as I have achieved more than I have ever thought possible. I have been ranked in the top 20 in Canada for the past few years over most of the distances I have run. I have won quite a few races and I have loved every single minute of the training and racing. I firmly believe I have gotten every ounce of speed out of this body possible.

Looking forward to my racing future I do not have anything I want to do. I do not have any desire to run any certain times or win any races. I do not want to be tired and limping all the time. I do not want to lose weight. I do not want to train.

I have decided not to take the sponsorship.

I may start training again and the fire may be ignited at some point. I want to be healthy. I want to be attractive. I want to love a person rather than a sport.

This has really been a hard decision but I think it is for the best. I would be doing a disservice to both myself and the potential sponsor to take something I always wanted, just because I wanted it. I do not want to feel forced to resume training again. I want to run on my own terms. I want to run for the love of running!

In related news I am not running very much lately but I am staying very active. I am swimming and spending quite a bit of time in the gym. The results are starting to show although I am finding it very difficult to eat enough to maintain or gain weight. I think my legs are actually getting smaller, yikes!

The skiing here on the West Coast has been fantastic and I even bought myself a little bit of a Christmas present, a new pair of Rossignol skis! I crave the snow and the speed. I do not care if I fall so long as I get to go fast! I hope to get a lot more skiing in this year as I have more free time than previous years.

As for the blog I have no idea where it will go in the future. I started the blog because I could not find anyone on the internet who was gay and involved in high level running. Now that I am taking time away from the life of a training athlete I almost believe the utility of the blog has been lost. I was thinking of converting to a report on my dating life but that would be so lame and pathetic that I would be embarrassed to write anything. Actually I would not have anything to write for the most part. I have thought of a fashion blog but there are a zillion on the internet and I would not have a fresh perspective on anything. Maybe I will write on the West Coast and the travails of living in both one of the most beautiful cities in the world with one of the coldest and most distant populations. Even the gays are cold out here.

I have more time in this holiday season for some reflection. This is my time of year to think about what has passed and what is to come. This is a time to remember and cherish those who have passed and wonder about those I have yet to meet. This is my time of year to prepare for the excitement and opportunity that life has to offer. I better get some rest. 2010 was fucking amazing. It was the best year of my life. Here is hoping 2011 brings even more joy, love and friendship!

Happy Training!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dreaming My Dreams

I had a dream the other night that I was running.

It has been a very busy last month and I have not had much time to write or train or sit still. My days have been filled with working and my evenings filled with holiday cheer, skiing and a bit of training.

My injury continues to bother me and I am only able to run every other day. I have been able to ski a lot including both downhill and cross country. I love both and it is my mission to spend at least one night/day per week on the snow. The cross country skiing has enabled me to maintain some fitness although I have noticed I am finally losing a bit of cardiovascular strength. I am also continuing to gain weight although I think I am just into the healthy range. I may actually be getting close to normal, though still extra small. I have a couple of shirts that do not fit me any more. My chest is too big!

Although I have been unable to train as much as I had wanted, I have had a wonderful last month. There have been stressful moments but generally things have been great. The best decision I have made was to buy new downhill skis. Today was my first day on them and they are beyond excellent! The conditions in Whister Blackcomb were gorgeous though a touch windy on 7th Heaven. The snow was exactly how I like it; hard, fast and ripe for carving. My skis are responsive and very fast. They respond so quickly to my weight shifts that I had quite a good wipe-out in the afternoon. There is nothing like sliding down a mountain, upside down, to make one feel alive. Falling is not that bad. As my friend pointed out, it means you are pushing yourself hard. The best part of the day; not one line up!!!!

I can report a good amount of muscle fatigue and pain at this time. This fatigue is not only from a hard day of downhill but also a hard gym workout last night and some good quality skate skiing under the lights of Cypress. When I am on the track again for workouts I have a feeling I am going to be flying. I feel very strong!

Happy Training!

Monday, November 22, 2010

16

I am currently ranked 16 in the national 10 km road race rankings. I am quite pleased with this!

I was planning on a good training weekend but instead I went skiing and read the newspaper while doing laundry. I ran today in the chill that has taken over Vancouver. I hate training in this cold but I love easy off day runs in this weather. I feel like I am home in Nova Scotia or back at the University of New Brunswick. In total I ran 6 miles tonight.

Tonight's run provided an opportunity to think back to the hours and hours of training I completed as an undergrad. In extreme winter cases my team would run blocks in the city in minus 20 degree weather. Our shoes would freeze as well as the perspiration on the inside of our jackets. There were times when my eyes would nearly freeze shut due to the extreme cold. Many of my summer routes in Fredericton would be converted to groomed cross country ski trails in the winter. I spent many, many, many hours on these trails building a cardiovascular capacity I continue to enjoy today. I can even remember running through knee deep snow drifts to get to our 'track' workouts held at the high school in their 100 m hallway. This is where I obtained my agility dodging people, pedestrians and custodians while running at full speed. I hated these workouts with a passion but they made me strong.

Although I hated winter training I knew it was the key to make me a better runner than those who beat me the prior cross country season. I credit the rain/snow/hail/-20 or-30 runs with making me the person and athlete I am today. There is something scary about stepping out of the door before a 16 mile run knowing that you are going to freeze the first 2 miles and for the last 4. Those runs really sucked. Those runs are why I am the 16th fastest Canadian man over 10 km on the road.

Sufjan Stevens!

The concert was stunning. I have never been to such a spectacle before. There were times when I had to wonder if Sufjan was brilliant or insane. There were times when I could not figure out if what I was listening to was brilliant or insane. In the end it was brilliant.

I was quite familiar with the releases prior to the concert and was already a fan of his new work. His 2 newest albums are a voyage away from previous work and are not at all folky. The Age Of Adz on the surface seems quite experimental but with exposure becomes more accessible, although not for a pop music fan who needs a hook to listen. There are multiple layers of sound and expression that take hours of listening to fully understand. There are also complex emotions related in the music. Of course he sings of love and love lost. He also manages to express rage "I'm not fucking around" being one of my favorite lyrics. My favorite tune on the whole album is called Impossible Soul. This 25 minute title encompasses a diverse compilation of styles and emotions with lyrics that make my heart ring.
Seems I got it wrong, I was chasing after something that was gone
To the black of night, now I know it's not what I wanted at all
And you said something like, "All you want is all the world for yourself"
But all I want is the perfect love
Though I know it's small, I want love for us all.
With a 25 minute song it can be difficult to isolate a particular lyric so I will include another whole verse with a few repetitions removed.
It's a long life, better pinch yourself
Get your face together, better roll along
It's a long life, better pinch yourself
Put your face together, better stand up straight
It's a long life only one last chance
Couldn't get much better, do you wanna dance?
It's a good life, better pinch yourself
Is it impossible? Is it impossible?
Boy, we can do much more together...
Boy we can do much more together, it's not so impossible
It's not so impossible.
At the end of the concert I was speechless and amazed. He literally had the audience dancing in the isles. I am biased as I am a huge fan of this artist but I feel it is my duty to cajole you to pick up some of his music. It will take a few tries but I bet you will love it. Think of it as starting to run. It does not feel that great to start but one day you cannot live without it! As an added excitement his brother is a prominent American Marathoner!

Happy Training!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Elastic Effect

My life is starting to settle down.

I was out for an easy and wonderful run today when I started to contemplate my dating history over the last 6 months. I almost feel like dating is a bit like running a race sometimes.

I have written before on the elastic effect when racing. There is an invisible elastic between the runners in a group. One has to maintain that elastic in order to keep with the lead group. The further one drops behind the longer the elastic stretches and consequently the higher risk there is of the elastic snapping. Once the proverbial elastic snaps there is little chance to regain the lead group. Conversely, as we often see in a race, the chasing runner can keep the elastic taut until the approach to the finish line. At that moment they can use the energy of the 'elastic' to sling shot into the lead and win the race.

What I have found with dating is an elastic effect of sorts. I like a bit of tension between me and a prospective long term partner (long term for me at present is a second date). I need to have a bit of a chase. I want to be challenged. If there is too much challenge though the elastic will start to stretch. If it stretches too far then there is a snap and I will give up. If someone chases me too closely then the elastic is too soft. Without tension there is no energy to slingshot. I need the energy.

My general experiences in 95 % of the dates I have been on has been one of no elastic whatsoever. That may have something to do with my own personal fulfillment and generally great life. I am not a person who needs someone else to make me happy. It has taken a bit of a journey to realize this. Now that I am happy and older I am realizing more that I want a partner for the sheer practicality of the endeavor, not as an emotional crutch. I really wish I had someone to share the rent. Unfortunately for my bankbook I cannot abandon my romantic notions of love to satisfy practicality. There needs to be energy. I need an elastic. Practicality must be measured with passion and fire.

If dating is not going well at least I can still workout. Today I hit the trails for a run after a session in the dentists chair. I may have been drooling down my frozen cheek as I was running. I felt good although I continue to suffer through foot pain. Tonight I hope to hit the gym and tomorrow run and swim. The snow is in the mountains so I also hope to hit the trails this weekend as well.

Happy Training!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flying Tempo

Turn up the treadmill as fast as it will go and run.

I am now running my tempos on Wednesdays as I have decided to alter my training plan. My body will can no longer withstand up to 3 hard running workouts a week so I have decided to cut out one speed workout in favor of one tempo. Yesterday I ran 12 minutes at tempo pace.

The gym I attend has treadmills that do not go fast enough for me to run my actual tempo pace. What I have been forced to do is turn the machine to it's highest setting then push the incline. I feel like a bit of a tool running hard in a giant downtown gym but I figure people should see what an actual athlete looks like and what real training is. Most of the people at the gym do not even sweat. My tempo felt really good although my foot is still sore. I have a surprising amount of pop to my stride and I feel very strong. My exercise compulsion has helped to maintain my fitness! Upon finishing my tempo run I was able to finish my workout with chin-ups, core and push-ups. My goal is to be able to do 30 wide arm, front grip chin-ups.

Another reason for Wednesday tempo is so I can continue swimming with my swim club on Tuesday and Thursday. I am loving swimming at the moment and I am getting very comfortable in the water. At present Fly is my favorite stroke. I had a great workout tonight although while getting out of the pool I noticed a bit of what looks like road rash on my wrist. While in the throws of a particularly intense set of medley I must have hit the lane rope hard.

I got an e-mail from a member of the New York Front Runners club. Front Runners is a running group comprised of gays. There are chapters all over the world! They have done a video for the "It Gets Better" project. I really wish we did not need to have videos saying it gets better, but it does get better! The best part of growing up is being able to choose what we do. Clubs and organizations like Front Runners, my swim club and triathlon club ensure that we have a place to meet and train with people just like us. For years I have been the token gay on numerous cross country, track and athletics clubs. I love being able to swim, bike and run with other gays. It does get better. There is a whole world of homos out there who have the same interests, drives and passions. One just has to find them.

I am not quite ready to ramp up the training although I have toned down the partying. I do not think my confidence can take another knock. I love music and dancing but the whole scene can be a bit hard to tolerate at times. Although I tend to be a touch superficial I must admit that one must have substance to their character. I have not scene a great deal of substance while out on the town. Where I continue to see heart and substance is in the pool, on the trails and track. I think this is where I belong. This is what has enabled my life to get better.

I will need to ensure I maintain balance though!

Happy Training!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mixed Training

I have started run training in earnest.

I ran my first tempo run and have had some quality work over the past week. I am gaining some consistency and I am gaining some ease with running again. Unfortunately my foot is acting up a bit and today I found myself in pain for most of the day. The key to ensuring my foot is healing is to not walk. This is not an option.

Conversely, swimming is going very well. My feel for the water has returned and I am feeling very strong. A bit of evidence for my improved stroke is where I am feeling my workouts. Although the arms are what pull one through the water it is actually the core/lats/traps that provide the power to swim well. I thought my lats were going to seize up and break off my body during my Saturday workout. This is a good sign I am doing things right.

As I have noted before, the key with training is consistency. If one is able to balance consistency with recovery then they are on their way to best times. A key for me in the next few months will be to increase my consistency while improving fitness. I have also grown to realize that my body cannot withstand high mileage while having a career. I can no longer spend all day on my feet solving problems then go home and run 10 miles.

I also believe swimming will help with maintaining my fitness. I do not actually feel that out of shape. I have at least 3 hard swim workouts a week with another couple of easy swims where I am content to swim 4 km at a good pace. It is nice to get in the pool and work on technique and fitness without having to hammer a hard workout.

The big test will be when I get back on the track or run a workout on a measured course. In the next couple of weeks I may head to Beaver lake to test my running fitness. I doubt I will be running sub 3 minute kilometers!

I am hoping to gain enough fitness to run an early season race or two. I also need to get a bit of speed work under my belt before an up-coming beer mile. Although past experience tells me that the most important skill in a beer mile is drinking the beer.

Happy Training!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pain?

The good news is that my arch is no longer sore. The bad news is my ankle is sore. Throbbing sore.

I had a great long run yesterday with a good friend of mine. The pace was steady yet relaxed with a few hills thrown in. In total we ran around 11 or 12 miles. Running at this time of year is wonderful. I love the crispness of the air and the amber tinge to the light. Summer is my favorite time to run with heat and sweat with hot shirtless men. Although this time of year is not quite as hot as the summer it is still fun. It always gives one an idea of who the real runners are. It seems like most people who are running by these days are flying!

The result of my long run yesterday is substantial pain in my foot. It was not too bad but I spent the day walking around the city and now I am in pain. I am hoping it feels better in the morning.

Happy Training!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Losing Control

I like to be in control of my own life.

When I began running I had little to no control over my life. Starting running was starting to take control. By taking control of my life I gained confidence in myself and my abilities as a person. Losing control is scary and uncomfortable. I am beginning to lose a bit of control of some aspects of my life.

Control can sometimes be interpreted as self determination. Each individual in society has the will to determine their own future. We do not like when others control our destiny and the response is usually one of stress. A large part of development as a child is learning to determine ones own path. We are engineered to demand independence and challenge rules. Ask a parent with a teenage child and you will gain an understanding of pushing limits of control. As much as we desire to control others we do not want to be controlled.

There are individuals in society who are free thinking. I am fortunate to know a large number of well educated free thinkers who have worked years to develop a comprehensive skill set of making informed decisions. What happens when the ability to think is taken away in favor of a drop down menu?

Each runner at a start line has had the control to get themselves to the start line. Each of those athletes had the self determination to work hard to get to a position to compete. The runners all had guidance but each of them took the responsibility to complete the work necessary to train at their best and compete well. A good coach or leader has an ability to provide their athletes with the tools needed to succeed without pulling away their self determination. The athlete must feel in control of their life to ensure optimal performance. An athlete smothered will not perform to their potential. We have all seen the smothered athlete. This is the individual who does not rise to the occasion. This athlete cracks under the pressure of competition. This athlete quits their sport at their first chance. This athlete is miserable.

I am starting to feel like a smothered athlete in one very important part of my life. It is not sport and nor is it relationship based (I do not have a boyfriend or a date). Losing control over something I feel very passionately about is very distressing. I work hard and try to do a good job with every challenge I face. I believe in the power of an individual to change the world, even if it is done one life at a time. My goal for my life is to effect positive change. I feel this goal is being threatened.

I am on vacation for a week and I will be using this as an opportunity to begin training again in earnest and do some hard thinking. On this road to growing up I must make some difficult decisions. I may be at an important time in my life. Do I want to run at the back of the pack or do I was to lead?

Happy Training!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Flying

I am loving swimming.

Tonight we had a particularly difficult workout with a lot of fly and fly kick. In total we swam around 600 metres of fly. Ouch! I feel like my swimming has gotten quite strong and I am even starting to feel very comfortable on my back, which is an aberration from the norm.

I am thinking of swimming a swim meet. I want to compete again. I need a goal for my training besides physical health and mental well being. I love competition and I am naturally very competitive. I need a venue to express my competitiveness prior to being able to run a race again. Something that is very nice about swim meets is that I have no expectations. I am not expecting to place or actually do well. It is a challenge against myself and to support my swim club. I am looking at an 800 free with a bit of excitement.

Running and training hit a bit of a road bump this weekend with a surprisingly disabling tooth ache. My tooth is very sensitive to sensation and thus I have been reluctant to run. Cycling to work is even painful and I must breath through my nose. I have an appointment to have it fixed but it will be a while. As is the norm for me I will have to train through a bit of pain again. As one painful body part heals another appears.

Thankfully my foot is almost better. I believe switching shoes has been very beneficial. My new Nike Pegasus are super. They feel very light yet soft. Paradoxically they also are quite responsive and enable a great feel for the surface I am running on. During the past 8 to 10 months my body has been very sensitive to running on hard surfaces. Running on a concrete sidewalk made my feet and legs ache. The discomfort is remarkably reduced with my new runners. My friend and sometimes running partner bombshell also runs in these shoes. Both of us have a similar forefoot running style. Both of us love these shoes. There must be some extra forefoot cushioning or some kind of magic. I have always loved Nike racing shoes and spikes. Now I also love the trainers. Yikes, I have become a Nike man.

I am struggling a bit with consistency with my training. I am noticing the difficulty of balancing my new 'gay' life of late nights and partying with working out. There is nothing more discouraging than the thought of a long run while recovering from a late night of misbehaving. While in university I had a team of equally tired and nauseous runners to motivate me to head to the Lady Beaverbrook Gym for our long run or workout. Without the team morale it is much nicer to roll over for a few more hours of sleep. I will need to find a balance.

Next week I have a week off work and I am planning on staying in the city to plan for Christmas and train. I am hoping to get into a bit of a week long training camp to get into the rhythm of running daily with some efforts in between. This will be the first test of my healed foot in a long time. I am excited though a touch nervous. I know my body will not respond as it has in the past as I am getting a bit older. I just hope I am able to walk next week.

Happy Training!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It Gets Better

I have been living in Vancouver for exactly 4 years. Today is my anniversary of moving here and I can report "it gets better". Not only does it get better, it gets awesome. This past year has been one of the most wonderful I have experienced and I feel I have grown into this beautiful city. I am very happy to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Growing up gay is very difficult, especially if you were raised in a small Catholic community in rural Nova Scotia like me. Growing up I was consciously aware of my difference and tendency towards being 'evil'. Life was not easy being overtly gay even if in the closet. I chose to disappear. A trend that I struggle to overcome. I could manage to shrink to the back of a room and into the background as soon as a bully walked into the room. I understood that mediocrity around bullies was a strong survival skill. There was no way I wanted attention directed towards me in fear that I would be targeted. Life was hard but it got better.

Today young gay men and women are facing the same bullying and tension that I faced back in the 90s. When I was coming of age at the cusp of generation Y there were few gay role models. Being gay was not cool and the word gay was used to describe anything bad or garish. Despite great strides towards equality we still face opposition and oppression, especially of gay youth. It gets better for sure but why should it?

Let me explain. I was having a discussion with a couple of friends about the "it gets better" project on YouTube. A friend of mine related her disappointment with the movement and her opinion inspired me. First, I think this is a very valuable project to give hope to gay youth. Secondly I wonder, why does it have to get better? Why are gay youth still getting bullied? Why are gay teens killing themselves? Why are gays still targeted merely for wanting to love? Why can't it be better now?

It is a difficult platitude to think of when tomorrow one is faced with yet another day of torment and ridicule. When an individual is in high school or junior high university seems like a lifetime away. I can remember thinking of turning 21 and how long it would take for that day to arrive. I can remember 5 minutes taking an eternity to elapse. I knew it would get better but it did not make the pain any better.

It gets better but to be honest, for many, it will get worse first. When one grows up gay in a small conservative community life is very difficult. To make a transition to a life that is better one must take giant risks. A gay youth faces decisions that their heterosexual counterparts are not faced with. At a young age I realized that if I was to fall in love and live as a gay man I would have to move away from everything I knew and loved. I would have to leave my family and create a new one in a city far away. I had to choose between the place and people I loved so much or a future with romantic love. I had to make very difficult transitions to follow what most people in our society take for granted.

After a youth of fear and reproach it is difficult to break away from repression and hate. A gay teen often will have to rely on family for a semblance of security, even if the family is extremely homophobic. For an instant I want you to imagine what it may feel like to be raised in an environment that hates gays. Imagine if your parent cursed and denigrated any homosexual in the media. Imagine if being gay was referred to as disgusting. Imagine your parent telling you that you are disgusting, immoral and going to burn in hell for eternity. As a gay youth home is usually the only 'safe' space, if one can stand living with those who hate them. It gets better but for it to get better a young gay must leave those who provided shelter and food and 'love'. The gay must leave the place that was safe for them when outside people were cruel and mean. It should not have to get better. It should be better now.

The scary fact remains that gay youth are killing themselves. It gets better does not mean much when faced with getting beat up in the locker room right now. It gets better does not negate the fact the gay men are still getting beat up in the gay neighborhood in Vancouver. It gets better does not end the hate.

How do we end the hate? Why do people hate love? Why do people hate gay?

I want it to get better, now.

I am going to start run training soon. I am now running pain free which is a huge luxury. When I am out running these days I am getting back the drive to work hard and run fast. I would like to try to run sub 31 again and to win a couple of races. I still love my Nike Air Pegasus shoes and I am giving them a bit of credit for my reduction in foot pain.

Happy Training!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Pool Report

Running, swimming and weights are good.

Life is good.

I have written before that motivation to blog usually comes from a challenge in life. Blogging in many ways acts as a bit of a therapy for me. In university we were told to keep a journal to write our concerns or worries related to our careers. The idea is that by recording our thoughts and problems we would reflect on them and develop solutions to these issues or realize the issue is actually irrelevant to our daily life. This is how I have approached writing.

It is difficult to write about a great life. It seems like a life well lived is not as riveting as a life of strife and turmoil. At the moment I am thinking I am living a pretty great life. I can think of a lot of things I do not have at the moment but I am incredibly happy with what I have. Things are turning out pretty great.

There may be a bit of a 'post swim workout euphoric' effect happening at the moment. I had a tough but very good swim workout tonight. It felt really good to work hard and get the muscles burning. I think we swam over 3 km in less than an hour. I feel my swimming is getting close to what it was when I stopped triathlon. I hit all my pace times with plenty of recovery. My free is starting to gel and I am starting to cling to the proverbial rope. Surprisingly I was able to make my pace times swimming backstroke. I guess this would be direct evidence that hard work generates positive results. Would it be too obvious to suggest that I believe in the power of sport as it shows the direct result of hard work and dedication?

I am still running and yesterday I had a spirited jaunt on the treadmill. After a total of 5 pain free miles I joined the muscle dudes to pump some massive iron. I did not actually end up lifting much weight but I did a good amount of core work and body weight exercises.

I am planning for a run and gym tomorrow. Thursday night is Sufjan Stevens. I am so excited I can hardly sleep. I will write a concert report!

Happy Training!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pegasus

I got a new pair of runners yesterday. I went to the dark side and am now in a pair of Nike Air Pegasus. I had one long run in them and I am pleasantly surprised. They are responsive and very comfortable. They do not stop my stride on plant but rather support my foot and enable a seamless transition to toe off. The shoe itself offers much more support then my previous pair of Asics. Further encouragement is that my food is doing well after my run and I was able to walk around the city without a limp. I even think they are quite flashy. I suppose it turns out that not having any support for my running is a good thing!

I have been back into running for a week and I am feeling inspired. The direct evidence of my inspiration would be the increase in blog posts lately. I am feeling a bit more grounded as well which is nice. I am content to be running though I am unsure when I will start training. I am thinking I will start speed work late November or early December and then start running with a coach again in January. Although I have only been running for one week thus far and this perspective might change when I cannot walk tomorrow morning.

I have a bit of a bounce in my step these days although I do feel myself withdrawing a bit. One of the consequences of training for me is the tendency to want to cocoon myself in my apartment and spend time on my own or with close friends. Loud music and bright lights usually make me feel a bit nauseous and exhausted. I loose the ability to use idle chit chat and I generally become boring unless in a small quiet situation. Partying becomes a liability rather than a goal and I become somewhat obsessive.

As I have decided to begin the long and hard road back to fitness I do have one regret. I wish I had a boyfriend with me. I came close and it was wonderful. I do not think it will be possible to meet many men while I am training hard and I really do become quite a difficult person to be around. In the end I really am who I am and I am back to thinking of myself as a runner. I am thinking of myself as a gay runner. This makes me happy!

I am going to try and balance the pulls of both sides of my personality. The focused achiever and the party loving twinky homo!

I am throwing together a few races that I want to run next year. Look out East Coast because the West Gay Running Train is going to hit both Toronto and Antigonish, Nova Scotia! I have always wanted to win the Antigonish Highland Games 5 miler and I am planning on heading home for some rest and running. I only have 9 months until race time!

Happy Training!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn Awakening

I had an amazing run today!

Autumn is a time to run. This is cross country time when people turn their attention from the sun baked asphalt and look to the emerald green hills and vales for a good challenge. The air is crisp and clean and the light has an amber tinge. For a runner who has been through the university system this is the most wonderful time of year.

After my break during the summer I have been a bit nervous heading out to run. I am wondering how long it will take to get my stride back and if it will ever become easy to run again. With the sun shining brightly and air fresh with a hint of ocean breeze I ventured out of my apartment building to stretch my legs and work the lungs a bit. Initially I felt a bit sluggish and sore from yesterday's run but that feeling was quickly gone as my body warmed up and the endorphins started pulsing.

I had a smile on my face for the majority of my run. I tried the gas pedal a bit and the results were slightly surprising. I have a bit of an engine still and was able to hammer a bit of a mile. It felt really good. It felt really good to run. I love to run.

Jogging is nice but I like to run. I like to run hard. There is a freedom about running in full stride that creates joy. If you look at a child run full force across the beach it is rare to see them without a smile. Running can be totally joyful. This is why I want to get into shape again. I want to run with joy!

Tonight I have a swim workout. I have been having a bit of shoulder pain so I took a few days off of weights. The result has been immediate and my shoulder is feeling much better. Am I actually learning to rest my body? No. My foot continues to ache, ha ha!

Happy Training!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ouch

I am running again.

Today I ran 6 miles. Although I felt slow to begin I was actually running on my usual pace and maybe a bit faster. It went pretty well though not pain free. I think painless running will take a while to come. Besides the pain of my injury I noticed a lot of residual pain from my long run on Monday. I have always had an acute knowledge of how hard running is. Today I got an even better understanding of the impact involved in a simple easy run.

I have felt more sore and much worse before but what I am noticing is all the little things that hurt. As an example, the tips of my toes. Where I once had calluses I have soft, supple and now blistered skin. It hurts to touch the tips of my toes to the ground. I want my calluses back. I also jiggle a bit when I run, though to the outside observer I look no different than 4 months ago. Thankfully my legs are as skinny as ever so no chaffing!

Speaking of chaffing, I am changing up my running fashion. Today I ran in basketball shorts for the first time. I felt very ghetto in my new outfit. Add to this a skin tight long sleeve and ripped ball cap and I was looking totally authentic something or other. One of my goals for my new running progression will be to integrate as many looks as possible into my training repertoire. I do not want to buy new clothes so I will have to get creative with my heaps of spandex and short shorts. I will never give up spandex though (part of the reason I want to train again is to wear spandex...).

Gosh, I am feeling a bit inspired. Must be the air.

Happy Training!

Monday, October 11, 2010

360 Weekend

Gosh, I do not know how to write this blog.

This summer has been interesting and one of the most fun summers I have ever had. In the early summer I ran fast though got injured and burnt out from running. My injury enabled me to take some time off from the normal grind and party and be crazy. I dated a wonderful man for a personal best length of time. I guess I lived the gay life that a dedicated athlete could not. I think I am getting bored with the gay party life.

I am unsure if it is the changing seasons or my general flip/flop madness that is making me unsatisfied with how things are going. If I think about the last couple of weekends and ventures into the scene I can report not the most fun. Most of the time I am out, I feel out of place and from all the reports I am getting I also look out of place. I look uncomfortable and unfriendly. I am not approachable and I do not have the confidence to approach people. The more I go out, the more I am starting to feel out of place.

If I think of the places where I feel like I belong I continue to come back to the track or on pool deck. I love sport and I love to train. I love to train with a specific goal in mind. I love the kinetic pleasure of running or swimming. I also love to dance but much in the same fashion I love to run. When I want to go out and dance I want to dance. I do not want to pick up or flirt with men. I want to hear music and get swept up in the collective energy of the crowd. I want the pulsing music and energy of the club to carry me away.

I have had a long break from running and training. I am starting to miss training. Seeing the results of Mr O'connor this weekend at the Royal Victoria Marathon inspired me. I also had a bit of a long run this morning with my friend Bombshell. On this run we talked about all the things we both loved and hated about running. We also talked about how much fun going out is, when in the form of celebration of a goal accomplished.

The weight I have gained over the last couple of months has been nice. It feels good to get checked out and get acknowledged. Although this has been nice it really is not me. It is me bowing to the pressures of being gay and trying to fit into a world that I am still trying to figure out. The truth is, I do not really feel like I belong on the party scene. To reiterate, I look awkward and uncomfortable when I am out with friends. When I am running and training I feel at home. I am more comfortable in spandex on a track than in jeans in a club.

If you are reading this than you may have figured out that I have had a bit of a turn around, about face, 360 weekend. I am slowly going to get myself back into running shape and possibly start training again in January. I still have running goals I want to accomplish with the most important one being fun. The goals of muscles seems somehow empty to me unless it makes me faster in some way. I will still go to the gym but eventually I will start to get super skinny again, and that is just fine. I do not think big muscles would look good on me anyways.

I am still struggling with what it means to be gay in 2010. I tried really hard to be the quintessential stereotypical gay and it just was not me. I guess I wanted the interior to match what people may have thought of the exterior. If anything this whole experience, although really fun, has taken a chunk out of my ego and has made me feel a bit lost. In many ways I do not really know who I am anymore. All things I once believed in I have questioned and walked away from. I almost feel like I sold out.

I am an achiever. I like to work towards a goal and do something that only a few dedicated people can do. I love running. I am slowly getting over both my injury and burnout. I am starting to crave the pain again. I am craving effortless speed. I am craving crossing the finish line first.

What's old is new again.

Happy training!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Compensating

We are constantly compensating for our own weaknesses.

After months and months of right foot pain I now have left hip pain. Throbbing, aching left hip pain. When one part of the body gets injured it is usually a matter of time before other parts start to fall apart. My guarding of my right foot had led to a hip imbalance and I have bilateral pain.

I am now getting frustrated. I do not necessarily want to be training again but I would like to be able to walk and live pain free. I would also like to be able to run for a while without spending the night and next day limping. I want to be better. I also wonder where the drive to train came from. What made me punish and injure my body the way I have?

Our personalities are interesting things. I am an achiever. I like to accomplish things. When I was growing up I was praised for doing things well. Whether it was skiing fast, winning trophies or doing well in school I garnered praise from accomplishments. Being valued for what was done well created motivation to not only do better but also show others what I had done. I am wondering what it would be like to be valued for just being.

What I am learning is that in the relationships that have meaning in my life the people around me value me for being me. They do not care that I have a certain amount of body fat or that I ran a certain time in a certain race. My friends value some of my core features that are not reliant on crossing a finish line or earning a certain thing. I now have to learn to value myself for just being me. I need to continue to strive to be the best I can be but not love myself merely because I have crossed another goal off of my list.

As well as learning to love myself for being me I need to learn to appreciate others for their core values rather than a list of requirements I have in my head. When I think of the relationships I have in my life I am comforted in knowing that I love my friends because they are amazing people with huge hearts and wise souls. I need to accept myself like I accept others.

It is a process and I am on my way. I just need to keep forging the path.

Happy Training

And I hope everyone who is running in Victoria has a great race this weekend. Have fun and run hard!



Growth is hard.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Deep End

Most of what I have learned in life I have learned from running. Now I am starting to learn from swimming and life.

I bought a month pass for swimming so I will be training a lot this month. I had a few reflections in the pool this morning. Most importantly about relaxation and stress.

Swimming is a very technical sport. Although it is very important to be big and strong, one can excel based on a big heart and great technique. One of the most important aspects of swimming technique is relaxation. A relaxed and long stroke is a fast stroke. When one is watching a great swimmer they float effortlessly through the pool. The swimmer learns to swim with the water rather than fight the water. This is a great lesson for life.

I am amazed by how people adapt to stress. There are individuals who present a very obvious portrait of a stressed individual. The moment they walk into the room they look frayed, emotional and tight as a drum. If they were to get into a pool in that state they would drown. Instead of working with the environment and the situation they fight it. They flail in the face of surface tension and allow it rock their normal countenance. If this stress were able to stay in isolation it would not necessarily be a bad thing for those around them but alas the stress becomes toxic.

Just as a bad swimmer looks frantic they also create a huge wake and make the water quite turbulent. Turbulence in a pool do not enable good swimming. The turbulence created by a stressful person do not enable good living. There are many times when a stressed person will walk into a room, especially in a work environment, and throw a room in chaos. In life stress is important. We need stress to improve. We need stress to make our bodies and minds stronger. We need stress to keep ourselves challenged and fend off boredom. What we need is good stress; the just right challenge. What we do not need to constant stress generated by others. We do not need other's turbulence in our pool.

Fortunately, a good swimmer can swim through anything and make it look easy and relaxed. In a choppy pool they continue to make any swim stroke look effortless and easy. If one was to look at the individual one would be unable to tell what the conditions of the water were. Some people can thrive on calm water but when the waves come they fall apart and struggle. The poor technique of one destroys the good technique of another. What has to happen is all need to improve their individual technique for the group to improve. I believe the same holds true for unhealthy stress.

Some people will never get stressed and if they are stressed one cannot tell. The secret of the great swimmer is that whether they are swimming easy or hard, with great stress, they look the same. Their swim stroke never falters. There are individuals who move through life much like the great swimmer. If you throw them into a turbulent and anxiety provoking situation they will put their head down and get the situation sorted out without so much as a shrug. This may be the minority. There is also the minority on the other side. This is the individual we love to avoid. They are in a constant state of panic and slightest disturbance sets them on a path to total and complete freak out. And then we have the average. These are the individuals who normally are quite chill and relaxed. These people when influenced by those who are stressed or put into overly stressful situations fall apart. These are good calm water swimmers who cannot manage a stroke when put beside the moron doing butterfly in the slow lane.

What to do? We all need to improve how we deal with stress but more importantly gain an awareness of how our own dealings with stress may impact others. I do not want to leave a room with cortisol pumping through my veins because you cannot manage time and were late for work or missed a meeting. Your stress should not make me stressed. I do not want to confuse stressing others with asking for advice or needing someone to listen to our issues or problems. There is a difference. Stress is insidious. The contagious stressed person does not ask to dump their story and nor are they usually a friend. A friend who is having difficulty will ask to talk and it is a conversation. It is mutually beneficial and usually ends with a hug. The relationship with the stressed individual is caustic and both leave the room feeling drained and perplexed.

If we all work to improve our ability to work with stress then we will all progress to having a smooth and relaxed stroke. We will all be in the fast lane, cruising through the choppy waters as if alone on the calmest of waters. Relaxation in life, just as in swimming and sport, can balance the stress and lead to improved performance.

I have not updated on my injury lately. I am still injured. Running and walking and just about anything I do on my feet is still painful. I still limp to the bathroom every morning. Although I still have pain I think it is slowly getting better. I am enjoying my break from running though and I rarely have the urge to return to hard training. I am also enjoying the muscles that are starting to sprout on my body (I am still extra small though!).

Happy Training!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Arcade Fire!

I just got home from the Arcade Fire concert and it was amazing! They are currently touring and if you can get tickets you really should go!

I am totally wired at the present moment so I will write.

What do you want to be when you grow up? How do you know when you are there?

Every other day I have a new thing that I want to be when I grow up. My latest idea is to be a fashion designer. I have no skills or experience besides shopping and watching Project Runway. Somehow I do not think either of those would prepare me to enter the world of high fashion. But the thing is, I want to be a fashion designer.

I was never one to want to grow up. I was content to have my future in front of me filled with possibility. I somehow had an innate knowledge that one day I would stop getting better and things would go downhill. Sometimes they go downhill fast. There are a lot of bell curves in our life. I wonder which bell curves in my life are now below the mean.

Being a runner I am a forward seeker. The training for a win starts not weeks or months before a race but rather years prior. One must plan their lives for a future long in the distance and maintain a focus on the future. Throughout the planning and preparing there are many, many hours spent dreaming of the feeling of achieving the goal. There are nights spent wondering what it will feel like when it 'all comes together' or when 'it clicks'. When that goal is crossed off the list it is bitter sweet.

The initial euphoria of finishing is shortly followed by a feeling of 'what now?' When the goal was it, is there any next?

I want to be a fashion designer. It looks like fun. The reality is that being a fashion designer will not make me happy. I will achieve the goal and look for something else. I am restless by nature which makes me a bit surprised I was able to maintain my focus on running for an extended period of time. It may be the loss of constant goals that is causing a bit of a loss in my life. Where am I going? What is next? Am I at the peak of my life bell curve?

After an amazing summer, which has suddenly turned into a very promising autumn, I am a bit wary. I want to maintain the momentum I have generated. I want to develop a balance in my life yet still push forward towards new goals. I do not want all my goals to be superficial and narcissistic yet those are the type soliciting the majority of my attention. I guess I am wondering if working on the superficial aspects of my being as well as the spiritual aspects is hypocritical? Would Buddha go to the gym to get a buff bod to get all the ladies? Will my new found superficial attitudes knock me off the bell curve or boost me higher?

I do not want to grow up because I do not want to become stagnant. I want to be dynamic. I want to be engaged. I want to dance for hours while listening to loud music. I want to be involved in a collective experience. I will not grow up to be boring or worse, bored. I do not want to yard sale* that bell curve.

Maybe I will always be growing up. No. I will always continue to keep growing up. Fuck bell curves. I am going keep this upward swing going.

Happy Training!

* Yard Sale: When one crashes while alpine skiing and loses their equipment.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Preview

I was going to write a summer round up post but instead I did some self reflection and goal setting. I will use this as a preview.



Until then,

Happy Training!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Re Run

I went for a run yesterday.

In total I ran for 30 minutes and it felt satisfactory. Of note I must mention that I had no foot pain during my run which is somewhat of a milestone. I am starting to think that walking is more of an issue than running.

I was on a bit of a road trip with the man I am dating. It was a great extra long weekend and very fun. At one point during the trip he asked me why I stopped running when I seem to want to continue to be training.

I am still learning to transition to being a normal person. It is a struggle to let go of something that has had such an immense positive impact on my life. I also do not want to abandon any chance of running competitively again. Although I want to gain weight and get healthy I also want to maintain a level of fitness that would enable me to get into race shape within 3 to 5 months of training. I continue to entertain the idea of racing Nationals Cross Country in Vancouver 2011 or 2012. If I could get fit again and injury free I could have a great day.

I am trying to transition into life and to grow up a bit. I am slowly doing this. Dating a man for almost a couple of months has been very educational. It is the longest relationship I have ever had and it has been good. Unfortunately it comes to an end on Friday as the man I am dating moves back to Ontario. I do not think I would have been able to have this relationship if I was still running competitively. The energy that running and life take limit my ability to manage outside of running. I long for rest and solitude when I train.

Something I have learned about relationships is that one needs energy to invest into them, especially when they are beginning. One had to be able to drop everything when that man sends out a text or be flexible when making plans. People read quite a bit into things we do not do. If I think to the past and the time I spent with people I dated versus the time I was putting into running it is very apparent my priority was not relationship. When I tell men that I cannot go out on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or stay out too late on Saturday night he hears, "I am just not that into you". When I am tired from a workout and would rather have a glass of wine at home than go out he feels I do not want to be seen out in public with him.

Looking forward I want to be able to devote time and energy to meeting someone special and maintaining a percentage of my previous fitness. I am still working on gaining weight and muscle with results already becoming apparent (although if you know anything about muscle physiology you will understand that by merely sitting on my ass my muscles will get bigger). When I have a love and a stable life balancing a meaningful and loving relationship with a career and social life I may enter the world of competitive running again. I know I want to race again, I just do not know when. Yesterday's run was somewhat inspirational, if only to tell me that I want to maintain a semblance of fitness, just in case.

Happy Training!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Happiness Is...

..A fresh cup of coffee at 10:30.

I am on vacation. Today is the first day of my 2 week vacation and so far it is going great. I wish this was my career. So far today I have slept in, had breakfast with my man, swum and now I am blogging before heading to the tennis court to hit some balls. Tonight I also hope to get into the gym. I am making pot roast for supper too!

Being happy is nice. I have been thinking about running a lot lately. I am enjoying my time off the roads and trails and I have not run in over a week and a half. Although I am still working out daily I no longer feel the urge or desire to run that much. I am beginning to see that running was making me very unhappy.

There are times when I wonder how I was able to train as hard as I did. There are more times when I wonder what kind of Sadian I was to end up punishing myself so much in order to run fast. I was constantly tired and angry. There were many times when I would blame being sad or unhappy on living situation, drugs/alcohol, job, not enough sleep, etc. The one element of my life that I have taken out has been running and I feel really good and very happy. I have been consistently in good cheer since stopping hard training. Coincidence?

I am continuing to enjoy exploring the recreation activities that free time and added energy enable. I went to a really cool restaurant/lounge in East Van called Bao Bei. It was very cool with an awesome vibe. I was happy to have worn my skinny jeans with my Bean Boots as there was not one person in the restaurant who was not dressed well. I even noticed a strikingly beautiful woman wearing jodhpurs. This hole in the wall is worth checking out for the sole reason of finding cool fashion and hot waiters. My drink was pretty good too!

In the next couple of weeks I am going to try and think of some profound thoughts.

Over and Out

Monday, September 6, 2010

Autumn

Autumn has arrived in Vancouver with cool evenings and rainy days. Normally this marks the beginning of cross country season, this year marks the beginning of weight season.

I have started my weight program and I can report muscle fatigue and pain. It is a different experience to be in the weight room not exhausted from a hard long run. I think I may actually like doing weights. I will definitely like getting bigger and muscular. I am still struggling with eating though. I am forcing myself to eat more although it is a struggle.

The transition from runner to whatever I am becoming is much easier than I thought it would be. Every once and a while I am struck with a motivation to run. Then I get distracted and a couple days later I will get a faint urge again. I have run only once in the last week (I am losing track) and I am fine with that. I am starting to lose the felling of having to run. I still have the need to move and exercise though. What is going on? I loved running so much and now I am totally indifferent to this sport that has given me more than I can put into words.

My current indifference may be due to a few reasons, mainly total burnout. Secondly I have been able to pack my time with activities that I have never done because of running. For instance, I went out twice this weekend and was not in bed until the wee hours of the morning on Sunday. Instead of a long run on Sunday I slept in, drank coffee and watched the world go by. I spent the day napping and treating myself. It was a wonderful day of rest and relaxation. I feel a sense of freedom from my usual constraints and it is wonderful.

Another contributing factor to my contentment with my current situation may be dating. I am dating a man. We have been dating for a few weeks and it is nice. I figure I have bitched about being single so much that I should also report when things are good. Things are good.

What I do not want to happen is finding a obsessive need to fill the void that running has left. I have caught myself wondering how I managed to find the time to complete all the many activities I had in the past few years. Now that I have extra time I have packed even more into my schedule. I am going to shows, movies, boat cruises, bars/clubs, concerts and events like they are going out of style. If I am not careful I am going to burn myself out of life too!

I think this is kind of an aimless post, I have no direction to go. Has this become my life? My priorities may just be a bit up in the air right now as I am possibly attempting to find a new balance between my driven and focused personality and the plethora of exciting recreational opportunities that are here in the city.

On the exciting news front I only have 4 days until vacation! Although I have an education day smack in the middle of vacation I am sure it will still be fun. I am looking to take a short road trip and do a lot of weights and swimming and resting and cleaning!

I may have lied a bit. I was thinking about national cross country championships. They are in Vancouver next year. Just saying.

Happy Training!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fear of Fat

I have another secret. I was not always skinny.

My first coach describes me showing up to my first workout as a chubby kid from somewhere in Nova Scotia. I was not fat and my BMI was within the normal range although possibly on the higher side. When I looked around I noticed that everyone else was skinny. Four percent body fat skinny.

When I was growing up I was not thin. I was a bit on the chubby side and during my first undergraduate degree I gained the dreaded freshman 15 (or 20...). My family, in their infinite kindness and supportive nature, teased me and told me how fat I was getting. I remember one particular Easter when my older brother wanted me to move my chair. His command to me was "move over fatty". This would normally be an innocuous statement to be ignored, as my brother was quite an asshole. What made this particular comment hard to ignore was the uproarious laughter it garnered from my family. As I began to get myself in shape and lose weight I had some dry kindling to fuel disordered eating. The only thing I needed was a match.

Joining a university cross country team not only provided the match to ignite disordered eating but also the bellows. The culture of distance running is obsessive. When one runs at a certain level life becomes running. When I was in university I lived with runners or swimmers, my friends were runners or athletes, social activities were with teammates and many meals were shared with running teammates. Life becomes about running faster and getting better. The most important part of the year is the championship race and making it to CIS nationals. As life becomes running and training and racing faster, priorities change and behaviours that would at one time be seen as outrageous become the norm. When I saw myself getting beaten by guys who were skinnier and who ate less, there was motivation to lose weight to race fast. I am a quick study and when I started running I noticed a big difference between me and the other guys on the team, I was fat.

To get faster and combat my 'obesity' I changed my diet and began eating 'healthy' as well as increasing my mileage while adding extra workouts. Initially my diet changes were beneficial as I was eating more whole foods, less processed food and less saturated fat. As I began to lose more weight and run faster, as well as get positive feedback from teammates, I began to want to lose more and more weight. This is not an uncommon pattern in the world of disordered eating.

After my first year of running I lost approximately 10 pounds from an already trim frame. I can remember one of my former teammates running up to me after the first race of my second season with my university cross country team. Her first comment to me was one of excitement that I had 'gotten skinny!'. I was also running much better moving from non-scoring member to being in the top 5 of my team. I was delighted with my run and even more motivated to lose weight over the course of the cross country season to be 'fit' for our conference championships. My diet was so restricted by the time our championships came along that I was unable to sleep and could barely climb a flight of stairs, yet we won with me as a scoring member of the team.

My disordered eating continued for the next year. As I got faster and leaner I also learned how to fuel my body so that I could eat as little as possible while still being able to train. I would have a small snack (a piece of dry toast) and a big cup of coffee before workouts to provide energy. During the day I would constantly eat small nutritious snacks that were not enough to fuel a normal person let alone a young man training 70 to 80 miles a week. Amongst the starvation I would binge on Friday nights and Saturdays. We raced on Saturday and I needed the energy to race well. Saturday night was the purge followed by a long run purge on Sunday. I was now both the 'fattest' and the fastest on the team. I could see the proof in my running performance that leaner and fucked up eating are the way to get fast.

At this point in my running I had been with my university team for 3 cross country seasons. I had a few incidents during my season that were distressing to me and I was not happy with my progression despite being conference all star and winning an AUS league cross country race. I was also frustrated being closeted and very lonely. I was pretending badly to be straight and not liking it. At that moment I had the opportunity to take an exchange trip to England to study and train. I jumped at the chance to move to England for a winter to train hard, finally get to my goal weight of less than 120 pounds, and try being gay. It turned out to be a bit of a disaster.

My disordered eating in Canada became total eating disorder in the UK. I was running between 70 and 90 miles a week in double workouts daily while restricting my calorie intake drastically. I could not sleep, did not have bowel movements, had no energy and was miserable. I did not take advantage of what a new country had to offer and spent my time training and trying to rest. There was no scale or full length mirror where I was staying so I could not see the damage. One fateful weekend I made a trip to London to meet a friend. I got a shower upon arriving at his place and when climbing out of the shower I saw my body for the first time in 2 months. I was skeletal. I was shocked by what I saw and scared of what I had done to my body.

I immediately went out and ate the best donut I have ever tasted, and did not purge.

I began eating again and started to regain a bit of normalcy. By the time my voyage home was upon me I was back to my disordered ways, though better able to manage my obsessive tendencies. For the remainder of my time running in university I maintained my obsessive relationship with food and perseverated over every bite of food that went into my body. I continued to get faster and everyone else was still doing it. I was still normal.

What shocks me now, as I weigh 10 pounds heavier than I did in university, is how I still felt fat most of the time I was in university. I cringe when I think of the misery I exacted on myself and how the deep seated message from youth maintained such a strong hold in my mind. Since graduating from university and living in the real world I have developed a much healthier relationship with food. I believe eating more and better enabled me to continue to improve with my running performance. I had the energy to train and prevent energy. Although I have a healthier relationship with food I have maintained a portion of my obsession with being thin and lean.

There are certain aspects of my body that give me comfort. The feel of my cervical spine, feeling my hip bones protruding as I lay in bed, the spot under my chin I cannot shave, the look of my back ribs through a t-shirt all give me comfort and make me feel good about myself. Being thin and lean and fit make me feel good about myself. I am struggling trying to be happy with gaining weight.

Tonight when I put on my Speedo it felt a bit tighter than usual. My suit was not baggy in the bum as I have grown accustomed to feeling. I felt like my ass was being squished over the edge of my elasticized leg holes. A reverse muffin top. Of course this is my imagination but it makes me wonder how I am going to cope when I actually start gaining weight. My shorts were even a bit more tight than I am used to.

I want to be muscly and manly. I do not want to be the skinny runner anymore. Although I do not want to be the skinny runner I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a layer of fat and muscles. It is nearly impossible for me to foresee the results of eating copious amounts of food and lifting crazy amounts of weights. I have no frame of reference to draw from. I am terrified of getting fat.

In the end I know I will not ever gain a huge amount of weight and nor will I ever be Mr. Universe. I will somehow have to gain comfort in my body without drawing self worth from the sight of my ribs through my shirt or the space between my quads. This will be a difficult journey.

Weights start on Wednesday. Time to somehow become a meat head!

One last note. Download Sufjan Stevens lastest EP entitled 'All Delighted People'. I have been looping it all weekend and I am in love. He is playing in Vancouver in October and I have tickets and I cannot wait! The first tune is called All Delighted People and it is over 10 minutes long. There is so much complexity and depth to his music it defies description or classification. I cannot accurately describe his work and give it justice. The only thing I can describe is how it makes me feel. When I listen to this EP I feel joyous and happy and confused. And he is hot!
Happy Training!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Seals and Otters

I live on the beach. I am less than 20 seconds away from the Pacific Ocean and the biggest swimming pool ever!
I have been swimming a lot of open water this summer as it is beyond accessible and just plain fun. Usually I try and swim with my friends although lately I have been randomly hitting the briny ocean by myself for a little workout. At least I thought I was swimming by myself.

The first time it happened was 2 weeks ago when after a hard 10 minute session of swimming I stopped by the Inukshuk for some recovery. Upon lifting my head out of the water I was startled to see two beady eyes staring back at me. Within 1.5 meters of me was a playful and somewhat cute seal curiously checking out the land mammal encroaching on his space. After the initial shock I gave the ankle biter a bit of a wave and said hello. He soon lost interest, bobbed under the surface and disappeared.
I had heard from veteran open water swimmers that one will occasionally feel a seal biting on their toes as they swim. Not malicious but rather playful, one need not worry about being taken out by a seal in English Bay. In the past few weeks I have been swimming with the seals quite regularly. This evening I hit the waves and a seal or two decided to come along for the workout. I feel they must be laughing to each other when they come across this laboring and skinny land dweller.

This weekend I have swum open water and have run 2 days in a row! My heel is still sore and I continue to run/walk/live in pain. To add insult to injury, as I was running into the ocean this evening, I cut the sole of my foot on a shell. It was not until I was rinsing my wet suit that I noticed the gash sliced off of my foot. It should not pose too many issues as it is safely bandaged and clean.

Happy Training!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On Death and Dying

There is one inevitable fact about life, it will end.

Death is generally known as the termination of biological functions that sustain a living organism. In Western society we have a confounding factor to confuse this general definition of death; life support. There continues to be debate about what actually constitutes death in a human. Some believe it is when cardiac and pulmonary function cease while others contend that death occurs with brain death. Whatever the definition you choose to accept there remains the fact that one day you will die. You will stop breathing, your heart will stop beating and your brain will stop functioning.

There is something about death that makes me want to live. My life has been touched by death from a young age. Unlike some of my friends, I have been to many wakes and funerals including that of my father who died when I was a child. Having had death in my life from a young age I was able to understand mortality and the fleeting time we have on the earth. Although I had a fear of death, the realization that my life was a story with an ending inspired me to attempt to live a great story. I consider myself fortunate to have been taught by death to live.

Every day I see people merely going through the motions of life. If I refer to the definition of death they very much seem dead to me. There is no light in their eyes and I wonder if there is any brain function. The heart is pumping and the lungs bringing oxygen to the body but it seems like the person is attached to the life support system of the 9-5 job, unhappy marriage and obligations. To further reduce brain function the individual dulls the intellect with mindless hours spent in front of the TV. One day melds into the next much like the life of a person on life support. The routine of a life resembling the rhythmic sound of the ventilator and the constant beeping of the heart monitor.

There are many sayings and proverbs about life and death. Many of these truisms espouse the importance of seizing the day or living each day as if it is our last. The thing is, this day just might be the last. If today was your last day on earth what would you have changed? Who would you have called? Would you have gone to work? Would you have done that workout? Would you have skipped dessert? Have you lived a life that is worthy of death?
Many see death as a bad thing but I happen to disagree to a certain extent. Death is bad for those who are not ready to die and those who are around them. Practically speaking, for obvious reasons, it is a good thing we die. Imagine if every organism that ever landed on this earth never died. It would be very over crowded and kind of gross. Death can also inspire us to live. Death means that we have a life.

Sometimes I find myself getting into a rut and getting close to the ventilator. A touch of mouth to mouth shakes me out of my stupor and I reassess my life with an understanding of my limited time enjoying what the earth has to offer. It is at these moments that I decide to try something new, take a risk and ensure that what I am doing has meaning for me. I have made some changes in my life this summer and I am very content. I am trying to live the proverb. I am inspired by death to live each day as if there is a tomorrow while knowing I am content if today was the last.

I booked a couple extra weeks of vacation today. Time to push this life. What shall I do?

Yesterday I hit the trails of Stanley Park for a run. I obtained an acute understanding of the difficulty of running. I ran a few seconds faster per mile then I usually run and it was tough. Running is a very tough sport! Today I was in the pool for my usual swim workout and I managed 3000 meters with 1000 of IM.

Happy Training!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Open Water, Backflips, Yoga and a Boat Cruise

Just when I thought summer could not get any better yesterday happened.

I had an amazing day in the Vancouver sunshine swimming, brunching and playing beach side. I have an exceptional group of friends who in most ways are just as childish as I am. How often do your 30 year old friends complete back hand springs and back flips beach side? We had races, practiced handstand push ups and did abs for something to do. I attempted one arm push ups but they did not go that well. Maybe instead of childish I could describe us as being hyperactive. None of us could sit still for more than 10 minutes.
The evening festivities involved a boat cruise dance party known as Hed Kandi. It was awesome. I had not been to a straight boat cruise dance party before last night. The key to the party was the fun people I was there with and their very positive energy. Dance floors can be amazing places. I almost think it is similar to running with a pack in a race. One can use the energy of the group they are racing with to pull them along to a best time. The energy of the group enables a runner to focus on their stride and keep relaxed yet strong. The energy on a dance floor is also crucial to a good time. Last night the DJ was superb, the venue supernatural British Columbia and the energy of the group I was with was energetic and positive. A very good night and random enough to be interesting.
Since I have let go of hard training I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel relaxed and open to new and exciting experiences. I have never been a big party guy due to the energy requirements of training. Now that my schedule has relaxed and my life has fewer constraints I feel like there has been a shift in both the energy I am attracting and possibly giving off. Maybe I am showing I am more open and ready for a good time.

Thinking of good times, I should get ready to run.

Happy Training!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Workout

My name is J. and I am an addict. I am addicted to training.

I swam 4000m tonight including 1 km hard freestyle in a pyramid and 500 backstroke build. I worked hard tonight and got the heart rate jumping. It felt tough and I loved it!

I have an addiction to training hard and how it makes my body feel. During a long hard workout there is always the fleeting thought of 'I went too hard and I am not going to finish'. When this thought hits my mind I usually pick up my pace and try to work harder. I love when this pace causes a jump in heart rate, increase in breathing and pain. I love to train and I love to work hard.

This innate love of movement and training is what has made me a good runner and athlete. I love the feeling of a hard workout regardless of the discipline in which it occurs. Obviously I enjoy cardiovascular activity more than weights but even those I am beginning to tolerate. Tonight's workout in the pool was a nice wake up to training and I enjoyed it very much.

My lack of running over the past weeks and increase in swimming is causing some changes in my body. I am starting to lose the starvation/runner look and gain a bit of muscle. My sternum has become less prominent as I have gained some pecs. I am starting to fill out my extra small shirt and generally look better. I also feel better. I am not getting fat though (and nor will I ever!).

I am starting to feel more like a human. I do not want to feel average but I do want to feel a bit closer to normal. It is nice to have a life where every night is not planned around a run or a really hard workout. Tomorrow night I am going to Costco and last night I spent the evening with a new friend. These two events would have been impossible a few months ago due to my training schedule. I am still working out and sporadically training hard, but I am now enjoying the training and having fun. I am also sleeping much better.

I am still running though only a couple of times a week. My foot is still very sore and last night I needed some heavy duty pain killers and 30 minutes of ice to be able to walk today. This is a plantar injury and obviously I am paying the price. My rest is working really well and I am noticing it in little areas. I notice when I am cycling to work; it is not a chore anymore. I notice when I meet new people; I do not zone out after 10 minutes. I notice in the evenings; I can stay up past 10 without caffeine. I notice in my mood; I am really happy.

I am continuing to have a great summer. I feel healthy and ready for the world. I was commenting to my friend Legs the other night that I feel I am the happiest I have been since being a child. We had an interesting conversation about each of our lives and what had gone into shaping our current selves. We both had challenges in our lives that had an impact on how we see the world today. Legs happens to be very self aware. I am not as much in certain respects, or at least I was not in the past.

Part of moving beyond hurt or disappointment is being able to look at an event and address the emotion and impact of that event. For some people this may take weeks while for others months. In my case it has been many years. Part of moving beyond hurt or pain is being able to learn about ourselves and how the trauma of our past can teach us to be better now. It is also key to see how the hurt of the past may limit us in the present and prevent us from meaningful experiences. I am almost getting the puzzle of history together to enable creating a great picture for the future.

Summer is not over yet. Is the best yet to come?

I have been thinking of death and dying a bit lately and also mortality. In light of feeling great I think this is an odd thing to be thinking about. A future blog to get excited for!

Happy Training!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Shallow End

I have found my self in the shallow end.

When I was somewhere around 20 years of age I was feeling a bit lost and misdirected. I made a pact with myself to try to be a better person and effect positive change in this world. I enrolled in university and worked hard to develop a career in a field that would enable me to improve the lives of others. I surrounded myself with friends and individuals who I could learn from and who have shown me how to live one's life. The thing is, I have been fighting my true self.

If I am going to be honest and address my true self I must admit a few things. I am shallow, elitist and judgmental. I attempt to look on the bright side but in reality I am pessimistic. I like to be alone and I find most people really annoying. I hate fat and I wish I was truly handsome. I judge books by their cover. I am actually very lazy and only like to hang out with rich people.

This is my true self. A shallow, horrible person.

I think it is time for me to throw the positive attitude and work ethic out the window and be who I really am. I am going to hit the gym to get buff. I will no longer talk to people with more than 12 % body fat and I will only date super studs. I will no longer entertain the thought of dating anyone without a 6 figure income or at least some sort of inheritance in the future. I am going to quit my helping career and find a profession that will enable me to take from the poor in order to become one of the rich.

Is accepting your true self good if it makes you a total dick?

Much of the writing in the world regarding finding your true self rests on the assumption that people are inherently good. What happens when the true self is an asshole? An anonymous commenter felt I have a big ego. I do have a big ego and that comment enabled me to identify this personality trait. I am fucking awesome and you suck. This is my true and authentic self and I have finally accepted that. Good thing?

The problem with much self help and therapy is that it is based on someone's opinion of something that happened that may have been good. Are people actually happier when they are forced to address the ugly picture of who they might actually be? What is used to evaluate the utility of therapies and techniques? How do people measure self? What is the evidence?

I have asked a lot of questions on this post because I do not know the answers. I have not done much research into this area of self help secondary to headaches from eye rolling when reading the books. One of these books posits that one is not ready to address their true self until they can finally read the whole book.

As I could not get through the book I will will have to go back to living as my inauthentic self. I guess I will continue treating others as I would like to be treated. I will continue treating others with respect. I will continue to hold myself to a higher standard then I hold others. I will mind the environment and continue to try and find a capacity in this world which will enable me to effect positive change. I will work hard and attempt to not judge others based on outward appearance, socioeconomic status or athletic performance.

The authentic self. A good thing?

Happy Living!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vancouver Pride

Pride is over for yet another year. Our gay version of Christmas has come and gone and although I am a little worse for wear I believe I had a successful weekend.

The transition from [sub]elite runner to regular runner has been moderated by a weekend of parties, celebration and little sleep. I have struggled through Vancouver Pride weekend in the past and have felt more of an outside observer rather than an active participant, despite volunteering in some capacity in previous prides. This year I felt more active and also came to some realizations.

1. I like partying: If it was not for some unplanned developments I would have celebrated each night of the weekend. Although I could not go out hard every weekend I do believe I could do something every weekend. In the past when I have been training I would be exhausted by 8 pm and would try to hold out till midnight. This year the party started at 9 and I made it home at...well I will just report I did not get much sleep. I had fun. I had a lot of fun.

2. I am surrounded by wonderful people: I had a party on Saturday night. My friends who came stimulated some wonderful conversation including a discussion of 'the self', and none of us were smoking pot. Topics of the night covered everything from brain chemicals to international development studies. There was cheer and a bit of gossip about future dates and risks that were taken. There were in depth discussions of politics and training and future goals. We talked about books and I did not hear anything about Lindsay Lohan or [insert famous airhead here] throughout the night. My friends are brilliant, kind and genuine. They are Ying and Yang and keep me on my toes.

3. Pride is like Christmas for the gays: I was raised Catholic with the highlight of every year being Christmas. Planning for Christmas in my family starts months ahead with the real work beginning at the start of December. There is cooking and baking and decorating in shiny happy colors. The community would come together as we would all light up our homes to ward off the cold dark December nights. There are late nights and little sleep. Midnight mass would always be followed by a big party and gifts with celebration. We would wake up early in the morning to prepare a huge meal and then host guests in the evening. There was giddy excitement, slight disappointment, exhaustion and a slightly empty feeling when it was over. Pride had all the feelings of Christmas. There was excitement for the possibility of the weekend and what potential gifts would be out there. There were late nights and early mornings with little sleep. There was time with loved ones and celebration as well as time for quiet conversation with close friends. As a child I wished every day could be Christmas. I wish every weekend was Pride.

4. Life is Good: I have a great life. Things are good. I am satisfied and I am happy. It is hard to be satisfied as a runner. When I would cross the finish line after a race I would always think that if I worked a bit harder I could have run faster. There was always something to chase, faster. I am enjoying sitting still and enjoying what I have now. It is good.

I have had two good Prides this summer. Toronto was much more fun than Vancouver's and the people were much more friendly and fun. I am relieved to have had fun in Vancouver though. Pride has inspired me to work to bring more diversity into my life and move beyond defining myself as a runner. I have met a few new people who I think will lead me to a new adventure and a new scene.

I am also deciding what to do with my blog. I do not really think I have that much to contribute to the world. I started the blog because I found little on the internet in the voice of a gay athlete. I am in transition from athlete to person. I do not have profound thoughts and nor do I have any new or stimulating ideas. The blog mostly acts as a venting post or a therapeutic medium to express my thoughts. Once I have tapped out my sentences the weight is off my chest and forgotten.

Now I am going to try to gain some weight, not fat. It is a weird concept for me and I think it will be a struggle. I am going to have to shift all the thought patterns I have built up over the past 15 years. I guess I should start with a trip to the grocery store!

Happy Living!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

And We Are Done...

I am hanging up the racing flats.

I have decided to give run training a rest. I have little desire to run competitively anymore. I feel that winning my last race at Pride Toronto is a good way to finish.

I have been thinking of hanging up the shoes for a few months now as running has lost much of it's fun. The years of training and obsessing have taken a bit of a toll. Being injured has opened my eyes to what it feels like to not be exhausted all the time. It is also wonderful to have oodles of time to do whatever I want.

Anyways,

Happy Pride!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Timex Top 3

I was third in the Timex Series for BC this year. I guess this is another accomplishment to add to my growing resume of running achievements. This is evidence that hard work and dedication to sport really do pay off when performance counts.

I have much on my mind lately. With Vancouver Gay Pride on the horizon I can report much personal growth in the last year. As I hung my rainbow flag on my balcony tonight I reflected on how far I have come.

Last year I wrote a blog outlining how I was proud of who I was but not proud of being gay. My perspective has changed. I have a lot of accomplishments in my life and by any account I am quite successful. I am well educated, an elite athlete, handsome and with a rewarding and meaningful career. I am also gay.

To many people in our society the 'gay' of the previous paragraph cancels everything else. I live in a cosmopolitan city which is quite liberal and accepting. If I am to venture outside my enclave of partial enlightenment (gays are still getting bashed in the Westend) I will be met with stares and derision. I would not show affection to a boyfriend in public if I was in most places in Canada unless I knew there was no one watching. This is not a good thing.

Growing up gay is hard. Gay teenagers kill themselves. Gay teenagers kill themselves a lot. The scary and frightening aspect of this fact is that there are many in society who think this is good. Obviously I do not.

I wish I could report that living a life less ordinary is easy so long as you make it to adulthood. The fact remains that being gay in today's society is a distinct disadvantage. Of course the gays have more of a presence in mainstream society and with gay marriage being legal and more inclusive rights the life I live is far more fair than of my gay forefathers. The fact remains that within heterosexual society I feel much like a novelty or passing fad. I worry about the future and what impact my overt gayness may have on my future. If history repeats itself than I am very frightened for what the future holds.

With all our progress and acceptance I still have friends who are in the closet at work. I hold my tongue when speaking with certain individuals for fear they lose trust in me if they hear I am gay. I have been called a 'faggot' while in a race in BC and I now think I am the fastest runner in BC without any support from anyone outside of my friends, family and teammates. Financially running costs me far more than I win or earn. Nothing comes free for me.

The thing is, I am proud to be gay. I have had to overcome more than most people would dream of. The hardest of which may have been growing up gay in a small conservative community in rural Nova Scotia. Despite growing up in one of the most conservative areas of the country I managed to turn out to be a really awesome person who does not need to rely on any handouts. Everything I have I earned. It is the gay way.

Running has always been a tool for me to measure myself, to grow and improve. It has enabled me to recognize that I have value. It has shown me that I can do something well. I have seen the direct outcome of hard work and dedication. At the start line of a race it does not matter who is gay, straight or whatever. The only thing that matters is how fast you can get to the finish line. But alas, life is not running. Life is not a race.

In the real world it matters if you are gay; it matters if you have an opinion; it matters who you schmooze. It does not matter if what you speak is true so long as you speak it loud.

It has taken a while but I think I am starting to get my voice. My rainbow flag is flying. I am hear to shout. I am here, I am queer, and fucking proud of it.

I do not know what my running future holds. My running performance over the last year has earned me a spot at nationals for 10 km road racing to represent BC. There are financial costs associated with traveling on a BC Team that I am unsure of wanting to incur. My foot is getting better and I was able to have a solid run tonight. I am still fit and I know I can get myself into race shape in around 4 to 5 weeks. I want to run Nationals but at the same time I am very happy right now, happier than I have ever been. The toll that training takes on both my body and emotions is scary. I do not know if I want to go back to that place.

Being satisfied is a scary thing at times. Contentment does not breed excellence, quite the contrary. Without struggle there is no reward. Without a goal there is no finish line. What is my new struggle? What is my new goal?

I am gay. This is my struggle. I am gay. This is my new goal.

Happy Training!