Wednesday, January 20, 2010

These Eyes

First running then other stuff.

I ran my tempo yesterday and it went well. The warm up was a touch precarious as I had to stop a couple of times to ensure my Achilles/Calcaneal tendon was ok. I also had some bilateral foot pain in my warm up but nothing that I have not felt before. Once into the tempo session I felt good. Once at the 15 minute mark I began to get bored. I was running a long downhill section on a wide open trail with little to no terrain or even anything interesting to look at. This gave my mind a chance to be rational and I began to contemplate why I was running. Then I remembered that I was planning on running a marathon in May. Of course I proceeded to reflect on why I was running a marathon if 15 minutes into a tempo I am getting bored. The thought of running for a few hours at tempo pace and the number of long tempos that I still have to run made me reconsider the whole goal of running a fast marathon in the spring. At this point the timer of my watch went off and I was almost half way through my tempo run. Thankfully my brain shut off at this point and I was into the world of the runner. I hit the Seawall with 20 minutes to go and it flew by. I finished my 45 minute tempo running quite hard and on further reflection during my cool down, I may have started my tempo above my lactate threshold. My breathing was heavy and my quads were fatigued on the hill climbs.

After my run I had only a short time to rest before I went to the pool to swim a workout with my swim club. I swam last Saturday so I actually felt somewhat satisfactory in the pool. An IM set killed me, as butterfly always does, but I was happy that I was able to keep up with backstroke. My backstroke is getting much better which is heartening. I still hate breaststroke!

I have been learning a lot from my gay coach (I have a coach for swimming and running, why not for being gay?) and he has offered me some good insights into life in Vancouver. He was good enough to write out a very long quote so I will share it here;

Jan Morris is a travel writer who lives in Wales - she underwent male to female surgery a few decades ago. This was her impression of Vancouver:

"All Canada, is of course, reserved, undemonstrative, unassuming. I put it down variously to the size of the country, the generally daunting climate, the lingering influence of the British and their debilitating traditions, and the presence of the marvellous, mighty, and terrible neighbour to the south. In Vancouver, however, decorum assumes a new dimension, and gives the whole city (to a stranger's sensibility, anyway) a peculiarly tentative air.

Consider the Smile Test. this is the system I employ to gauge the responsiveness of cities everywhere, and it entails smiling relentlessly at everyone I meet walking along the street - an unnerving experience, I realize, for victims of the experiment, but an invaluable tool of investigative travel journalism. Vancouver rates very low in the Smile Test: not, heaven knows, because it is an unfriendly or disagreeable city, but because it seems profoundly inhibited by shyness or self-doubt.

Pay attention now, as we put the system into action along Robson Street, the jauntiest and raciest of Vancouver's downtown boulevards. Many of our subjects disqualify themselves from the start, so obdurately do they decline eye contact. Others are so shaken that they have no time to register a response before we have passed by. A majority look back, with only a blank but generally amenable expression, as though they would readily return a smile if they could be sure it was required of them, and were quite certain that the smile was for them and not somebody else. A few can just summon up the nerve to offer a timid upturn at the corners of the mouth, but if anybody smiles back instantly, instinctively, joyously, you can assume it's a visiting American, an Albertan, or an immigrant not yet indoctrinated."
This quote was in response to a conversation we had regarding my inability to meet anyone who would date me, or whom I would date, despite my many extracurricular activities and quite extensive social network. He was quite puzzled by my dilemma as I am pretty sure he thinks I am cute on top of being talented, well educated and generally neat. He did some research to find the previous quote which made me feel much better. After getting this little snipet I decided to try my eye contact test again. Walking home from work yesterday I tried to make eye contact with people on Robson Street. By the time I was home I was chuckling to myself as I made eye contact with a panhandler (go figure, give me money?), a person who looked to be in the midst of some sort of psychotic episode (he was continually yelling 'POW!' trying to scare people) and a man who may have been homeless and only had one eye (This man may not have made eye contact as it may have been a glass eye). I did make eye contact with a hot man while I was running but I think that was more to do with the ponytail I had sticking out from the top of my head.

I love Vancouver and I will be writing a loving ode to Vancouver and the Olympics soon (I am so excited for the Olympics I think I might pee my pants!). I do have to be critical of the people who live in this city. This is not the friendliest place. Even at work people will not make eye contact or even those whom I have worked with will avoid eye contact and turn their back in a elevator. The people I find friendly in this city are those who have newly moved here. Most of the friends I have made here were within the first year of actually being here. I think maybe I have lost my friendly attitude too. Sometimes I do not feel settled here. Sometimes, despite the wonderful friends I have made, my running club and career, I feel as though this is not really the place I am meant to settle. When I have traveled recently I have missed the city very much which would leave me to believe that this is becoming my home. A home with one thing missing. Maybe the one thing I am missing is what will eventually make this place a real home for me. A place where I can have everything I ever dreamed of. If only I could get beyond the cold, distant surface of the people of Vancouver I could really make this place a home.

For the time being I am going to pursue awkward eye contact every time I am on the street. I am even going to start smiling at people. I just hope they do not take me to the psych ward.

Sunday: 6 miles
Monday: 8 miles
Tuesday: 12 miles as 45 minute tempo
Wednesday: 4 miles and weights

Happy Training!

1 comment:

  1. Love the Jan Morris quotation...hard to find that online. See later wrote:

    “Years ago, in Canada, I devised something called the Smile Test, which involved smiling urgently (perhaps unnervingly) at anyone I met in the street, and marking their reactions. But later I came to think that it was too contrived a technique, and that one could only rely upon the absolutely unpremeditated meeting of psyches.”