Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ski Boots, Tennis Lessons and Pool Time

I have a lot of energy at baseline. I find it hard to focus and I am normally a bit jittery. I find it very difficult to sit in one place for an extended period of time. Running was a type of medication that calmed me and filled me with an exhaustion that allowed me to focus. With that sedative effect gone I am going madly off in all directions.

To match my energy I also have a good basket of interests. This fall I have reignited my relationship with tennis and I am very much looking forward to getting on the snow (I am wearing my new downhill ski boots as I write this). I find my days filled with sport and activity with my evenings filled with friends and fun. I have the energy to be active during the day and then go out at night. This is a revelation.

What I am finding interesting and exciting is my lack of desire to run or race. Let me explain. Deciding to stop training is very scary. The years of work to get fit can be lost in a month of a sedentary lifestyle. When I decided to stop training I was worried that I would miss running and racing once I had lost my fitness. I have lost my fitness and I have also gained a bit of weight and I have no desire to race. Even though cross country season has started I do not want to lace up some spikes to hit the grass. I am excited to have some other distractions!

It is hard to imagine, when totally engulfed in a passion, a time when that drive will not be present. I can recall laying in bed at night during university and thinking that there will never be a time when I will not compete as a runner. I had visions of running as a masters runner and training into my 40s. As one passion has lost its hold over me I am content to let it go. I am actually starting to revel in my new found freedom from heavy training. I was able to stay up until 2 am on Saturday morning without having to worry about negatively impacting my workout Saturday morning. I constantly have to remind myself that I do not have to go to bed early because I am not going to get up and train in the morning. With my passion for running on hold I wonder if the same works for crushes and love.

I believe that all passions wane. My last post was about a crush I had this summer. As the days go by with no contact and not seeing him my perspective on the situation changes. A friend of mine asked me about this gentleman and I had no idea who he was talking about. The name no longer registered as related to a crush. I can look back on the event as exciting and filled with potential yet in the past. Despite a promise made I am doubtful to hear from my crush, and I am fine with that.

In line with getting over a crush I have stopped dating and have ended my relationship with electronic dating aids. I could write a blog solely based on my bad dating experiences through electronic means. I generally find this process demoralizing, degrading and generally awful. Experience gained so long as I can remember this in 6 months when I am still single and lonely and I go through the whole process again.

Looking forward I am back with my swim club and I am excited to be training in the pool. I am doing quite a bit of weights and I'm really looking forward to ski season. Running is on the back burner and if I can get out a couple times a week I am satisfied. I may increase the times I run during the week but this will depend on the other activities I am doing. I am mostly looking forward to skiing!

Happy Training!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Crush

I used to have a crush on running, now it is a man.

There was a time in the not so distant past when I had a sizable crush on running. I would lay in bed at night and dream of all the things we would do together. I would think of the trips we would have, the great times that would be had and the long hours we would spend together. The only thing I needed was running in my life and I was happy. I could not imagine a life without the constant steady companion of running.

My life has changed with running and I growing apart. We are still friends and see each other regularly. We do not spend as much time together as we once did but the time we do spend together is quality time. I am sure there will come a time when our relationship will get closer and we will spend more time together but for now I think we need a break. I need to see other people.

In our lives we constantly meet and interact with new people. Living in the city means I have access to many men of different ages, styles and backgrounds. I have been on many dates and have met many men through my involvement with Vancouver's gay sporting organizations. It is rare that I meet someone who hits my heart. It is rare that I get a crush on a man like my crush on running.

I met someone who I cannot get off my mind. It has been a few weeks and it seems like this is unrequited but still, I just cannot get him out of my head. This is not like a race or running. When I was running competitively I always had an end point and an action to get me to my goal. If there was a race I had a series of workouts. I had my goal race and the action plan to get there. With a man crush there is no action plan. I can call and text and e-mail but at a certain point I become a stalker. If I leave a message in his voice mail then I must wait. I must sit and wait. I must sit and wait until nothing comes back.

This is very difficult. I am a man of action. I set a goal and I develop a plan to accomplish the goal. With running this was easy although a lot of work. With dating and relationships there are no action plans that bring love. It does not matter what an individual does if their object of affection is indifferent to the whole affair.

I have been trying to distract myself with other things (men) but it seems shallow and uninspiring. When I start to chat with them and get to know them I think of my crush. I think of the way he laughs. I think of his scent. I think of the way he rides his bicycle, strong and free. I see his beautiful piercing eyes and mischievous grin. I get lost remembering our conversations and time together and I then know it is time to say goodnight to my distraction. I walk home alone dreaming of the times we could spend together. I go to bed alone and wonder what the future holds for both of us. I wonder if the future is for us together.

I am hoping for some distractions from this unrequited crush. I am filling my days with activities and friends. I am on holidays from work and have managed to fill my days with activities I could not complete when I was running. Today I have my first ever tennis lesson! For the meantime it is the only action plan I can think of to cure this crush.

Happy Training!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sabotage

When it comes to running and life sometimes we sabotage our own best efforts.

I remember the time I decided to paint my ceiling the Friday before Sun Run. That was not a wise decision and I wound up being barely able to pick up my flats before the race. This was not intentional yet it was still self sabotaging behavior that led to a sub par result when I was primed for a fast time.

In life we are constantly sabotaging our efforts to achieve the goals we have set out for ourselves. It is the fat person eating a pizza and drinking 2 litres of Pepsi. Yes the person knows that they are fat and eating too much leads to obesity but they still self sabotage. Their obesity in some way comforts them and thus they continue to participate in the habits or activities that maintain that security blanket.

I am starting to realize that I sabotage many parts of my life without even seeing it. It almost seems like it is a deep seated trait that I can not avoid. It can be quite insidious or extremely blatant. This weekend mine was more blatant than I am accustomed to. It has been somewhat upsetting but is now in the past. I have to learn (and I have learned greatly from this weekend) what not to do when offered the opportunity to experience something new.

As per my usual I have been thinking a lot about love and romance and dating over the past 3 or 4 months. I have worked really hard to meet men and I have been on many, many dates culminating in meeting a man who I thought was quite wonderful. In my life the feeling is never mutual and consequently I find myself in my usual place. I am very happy and on my own. Having never been in a long term romantic relationship or even been to the point of calling someone my boyfriend I wonder 'will a long term relationship make this better?'

Does my tendency to sabotage correspond to a potential worry of a partner making this life worse? There is a saying 'better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all'. When my friends would find themselves in pickles of situations with their boyfriends/girlfriends I would always remind them that things could be worse, that without the pain of now they could never have had the joy and love of days gone by. This was not comforting to any of my friends and soon was taken out of a repertoire of 'phrases for break-ups'. Maybe losing love wipes out the initial value it held. Although all my friends have tried and/or are trying to find love again. Maybe the saying was right after all.

I also acknowledge that being in a relationship is hard. I would find it very difficult to think of planning to take 2 (of 3) weeks of vacation to visit my imaginary boyfriend's family in some shitty city in the middle of nowhere. I cannot imagine planning my year around his needs or adjusting my (now flexible) schedule to accommodate his whim or preference. My friend tells me that when you are in love it does not matter where you go so long as you are with your lover. She relates that the shittiest city in the fucking worst place on earth is wonderful when you are there and you are in love.

What I hear is that "the greatest gift you will ever receive is just to love and be loved in return". I realized this morning that I am tired of wanting this thing called love. I am tired of wanting it but I sometimes sabotage my efforts to gain this magical thing. Generally I think I am pretty good to put myself out there and give it a try. The very few times it has begun to work (and I mean very few) I fucked up. The sabotage needs to stop if I am to fall in love although I still would prefer to stop wanting.

I guess the only way to stop wanting love is to have love.

Happy Training!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Next Chapter

As the summer quickly begins to slip by I am deciding to enter a new chapter of my life.

I have had a wonderful summer thus far with no focused run training and a good dose of playing and having fun. My days off have been filled with sun, sport and relaxation. I am bronzed and feeling good.

I do not believe I will be training running to compete anymore. I will run workouts to be able to run fast but no more mileage and skipping life to run. I have lost my desire. I do not want to be exhausted all the time anymore.

So what now? I super hyper and active so I will always be involved in some type of athletic activity. I will run on my own terms, swim, ski, play tennis and continue to work on getting some muscle. My perennial search for a boyfriend continues although this too has become utterly exhausting and frustrating. After many dates and disappointments and a few good infatuations I am tired of losing the games people play. I am going to work on cleaning up my diet even more and make this a priority. I am not going to be burning as many calories in the future so I must ensure I consume good calories. I must obtain a lifestyle diet.

I am going to try and continue to write although I am afraid inspiration is waning. I will try and capture this transition as best I can.

Happy Training!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Avoidance

It has been a while.

I have been avoiding writing as I feel like my pendulum keeps swinging and I am unsure which side I am on. I have written a great deal over the past couple of years about my struggle to balance running at a 'sub-elite' level with the demands of living a 'gay' lifestyle while also being employed in a cognitively and emotionally taxing career (yet very rewarding career!). With the past month being a struggle with illness and fatigue and a couple of lack luster races have left me feeling demoralized and thinking a great deal.

Before leaving for my vacation to Toronto and Nova Scotia I was exhausted. My life became running and work and the occasional early night out with friends. I became socially withdrawn again and shy in public. I became more anxious and anal and I lost weight to the point that I was getting a bit too skinny again. I was happy to be running and running fast but I was not aware of the cycle I was finding myself in again. Running took over.

My race in my home town in Nova Scotia did not go as I had planned. I placed third. More concerning for me is how it was not fun. I was not thrilled at the chance to compete but rather dreaded it. I did not have the drive or desire to push when I needed to and my actual thought was 'this is not fun'.

A big factor in my lack of enjoyment of the race experience was my lack of fitness which was partially because of being sick for 3 weeks. I also have not been training enough to run as fast as I am capable of. I was training enough to be totally exhausted and withdrawn from society but not so much as to enable me to run as fast as I wanted. My problem is I do not want to train more than I am. At this point I do not want to train at all.

Currently I am taking a couple weeks away from the sport of running. Gay pride is coming up and I want to enjoy myself and feel good. I have gained some of my weight back and I feel attractive and manly. I am slowly regaining my zip and energy and am enjoying the first part of summer. I have time to do laundry, clean my apartment and then spend 6 hours on the beach. I have the energy to make roast chicken on Sunday night and tidy up the kitchen daily. I am still running a bit and of course I am staying active but I am taking a break.

I will resume training again in August but I am uncertain how much longer I will compete. I love training more than I can express. I love the feeling of running fast. I love knowing that at any given time I am faster than 95% of the population. I love being fit. I am also aware that I am getting older and my priorities are changing. I want to enjoy the few years of my gay youth that I have left. I want to be attractive. I want to party and be irresponsible. I do not want to always worry about my next workout or race. I want to have a boyfriend.

There is always a struggle between sport and life. Being an athlete requires a type of self centeredness that can make forming relationships and engaging in society difficult, unless with fellow athletes. Being a gay athlete takes this to the extreme and thus I have found myself over the years chasing something that I do not think exists. I still believe that to a certain extent a gay athlete competing at a high level has to choose sport or the gay life. For a few lucky athletes they can have it all, for the rest of us we need to choose.

I am going to enjoy another week of fun and then get back into the training to ensure my love is still there. I may have another love to keep my attention if the love of competing has gone.

Happy Training!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Falling Off

The balance I so wanted is slowly slipping away.

As I find myself running faster and getting more involved in the running world I can feel myself getting further away from the gay world. I spent another Saturday night at home alone quietly relaxing while the homos partied, danced and got into a bit of fun. While my gay friends are waking up just about now, I have already checked in on the Scotia Half, done my long run and tidied up my apartment.

While out on my long run this morning I did realize that I would much prefer to get out early and have a non hungover run. When I was at the hour point of my run I was thinking how nice it was that I had gone to bed early the night before. I was also thinking about half marathons, marathons and hard long training runs. I was imagining placing on the podium at the Scotia Half next year and getting into shape for Victoria this fall. My mind has gone to the runners.

I feel very conflicted. As I see my peers, both running friends and gay friends, move through relationships in a rhythm similar to a strong running stride I feel somehow left out. I have a really good life and I am very happy but still I wonder what it would be like to have a boyfriend. What would it be like to have someone to support and feel supported by? I want to date and have a boyfriend but I actually think I want to run more.

My injury last year gave me the opportunity to have some fun and date many men. Getting back into shape has shown me that my play and fun is derived from running fast and being fit. My peeps are the people of VFAC and the elites at the front of the pack. I do feel a remote connection to the gay community but I do not feel a part of the community. I still feel like a runner first.

For the next few months I am going to try and embrace the lack of balance in my life. I need to ensure I maintain periods of recovery when I can dabble with the homos. I also must ensure I continue to have fun going out as well as training. My difficulty will continue to be my issue with a desire to win races and also find a boyfriend (although to be honest, with all the dates I have been on and what feels like a total lack of dating karma I am not hopeful I will meet a cool gent).

Training is going very well after having a little bout with strep throat. I had a terrific track workout yesterday running without my usual group who were getting ready for Scotia Half. I was able to descend a workout of 400s with a closing 63 by myself. It was cold and windy on the track and the heavens opened for our last 4 repeats so I am very happy with this effort on my own. I have also started running to the track which adds an extra 2 miles to my warm up. A quick hard workout on tired legs is very exciting!

I leave on Wednesday for Toronto and then off to Nova Scotia. I feel like my racing season is just starting and I am hoping to come away with a couple of wins!

Happy Training!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bad Luck

My lack of luck can be confirmed to have gone to bad luck.

I am not racing tonight as I have strep throat. Thankfully the antibiotics are starting to take effect but not soon enough to enable me to race. I am very frustrated as this was a key race for me and my prep for the summer and fall. For various reasons I wanted to get out there and blow some of the rust off of my running form. I really wanted to race hard tonight!

I made sacrifices for training this time. I gave up activities that I find really fun in order to train so I would have the opportunity to race again and run fast. When I find myself in a situation such as now, when I am not racing and cannot train, I wonder if my decisions are valid and if this is what I want to do.

I have only a few weeks until I go home and I am very excited. I will have to ensure I get in a few good workouts to ensure a quality race once I am home.

Happy Training!

Addendum:

I was able to run this morning and it was amazing. It started with randomly meeting a couple of good friends and training partners on the seawall and ended with some glorious barefoot running in the damp grass of a freshly mowed field. After a few months of hard training with very little recovery I forgot how it feels to run on rested legs. I felt light and incredibly fit on my run. Although I am very disappointed to have not been able to run, I have a great confidence in my fitness and I am very, very pleased to be running. I could feel the effects of illness and antibiotics but my body and legs felt stunning. I am very excited to race!

Monday, June 13, 2011

300

I feel like my lack of luck is being replaced by bad luck.

I had a strong and hard workout last Thursday where I was able to take my training up a notch and push myself harder than I have been able to all year. I had the desire to dig deep over the course of a 3km, 2km, 2km workout to go to the scary place where I feel like my legs are going to give out and my heart explode. These workouts are when I can run myself blind. I love these workouts.

As I get older I find I do not recover as well as I once did. A couple of years ago I would wake up after a hard workout feeling sore but not too tired. Now I wake up exhausted. It was with this exhaustion that I set out Friday after work for an easy shake out run. For the second Friday in a row I got lost in the trails at UBC. Instead of an easy 40 minutes I found myself arriving back at the locker room after an hour. If I was tired starting my run I was frustrated and exhausted by the end. When I get lost my strategy is to run faster to find my way back to where I am going. This time my faster running enabled me to run further and further in the wrong direction, even after trying to figure out the map. My sense of direction, which was excellent, is now fucked. After years of running and never getting lost my luck has changed.

I woke up Saturday morning tired and dreading our track workout of 300's with descending recovery. I grabbed my watch and noticed that it no longer had power. This is not too traumatic but I do hate running a workout without my own time. I managed to get myself ready early, grabbed my bike and hit the pavement for my casual ride to the track. I clipped into my pedals and went to sit on my seat when it broke off of my bike. Thankfully I was able to maintain my balance and get off of my bike without a crash but I now had no way to get to the track besides run. I hit the pavement on my two feet with a small shoe bag, sports drink and my lightest training shoes in an effort to get to the track on time.

Once at the track I felt okay and the workout went well despite running up hill for 30 minutes and getting lost the previous day. I ran the split times that John wanted and they felt hard but good. I wore my spikes as they were the lightest shoes to carry. Unfortunately they also offer the least support and I may have strained my left foot. My legs were tired but I was able to push through the fatigue and run a good effort. I am very happy to be finished some very hard workouts and I feel like it is time for a little taper before racing this Friday.

A disappointing aspect of the weekend was the pain in my left foot. I had planned on going to an event on Saturday night but with pain in my foot I did not want to spend the evening dancing into the wee hours of the morning. I was able to run on Sunday with a little discomfort although I know the foot is there. My body is quite achy generally which I can attribute to some very hard training and extra mileage that was not planned. I just wish that I could some how figure out how to balance the demands of training with my desire to have a social life.

My dating life continues and I ought to write an anonymous blog on the events. The dating world is a tough one and I am seriously considering hanging up the towel. Going into dates I usually have the feeling 'I hope he likes me!' I now have a different perspective where I am thinking 'I hope this is not too painful' or 'I hope I don't hate him'. I have met some cool guys but they are not interested or our schedules are not compatible (which really means we are not that into each other...). I have yet to find a spark with anyone. It would be really nice to date someone and think that he is super wonderful. That does happen, right?

My luck has taken a bit of a dip. I am a touch frustrated. This frustration may be related to being tired from training and is definitely related to pounding my head against the dating wall. With some rest and a good race this weekend I will be feeling better before heading into my last hard block of training before going on vacation.

I also should write a race report on my 5 km track race! I ran 15:20 for my first race back as a fit runner. I will try to write more in a future post.

Happy Training!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Training Effect

I am feeling the effect of some great workouts and a few wrong turns.

After a great workout on Thursday I hit the trails of UBC for an easy 20 minute shake out run. What started as 20 minutes turned into a 9 mile trek though the Endowment Lands (how appropriate that my favorite trails are in the Endowment Lands...). At the start of my run I was feeling very tired and sore and the legs were not shaking out. By the end of my overly long run I was tired and thinking about my Saturday track workout.

My legs were not feeling any better in the morning as I climbed onto my bike to head up the hill to the track. My warmup was a bit cautious and my strides and accelerations did not feel good. I could not get full range of motion and I felt slow and in a bit of pain. Our workout was 12 times 400 meters with 1 minute recovery.

I never felt good during the workout and every 400, including the first one, was a struggle. I finished the workout feeling drained and sore. I am satisfied with my effort as I pushed through some tough sections and some very negative self talk. There were a few times during the workout when I felt the best option was to step to the side of the track and call it a day. One of the keys of training is to push in the tired periods so that the recovery breeds results. I am already starting to look forward for a recovery period and a rested race.

My first real race of the year will be Monday night at SFU. I am running a track meet! This will be the first time I have run 5km on the track and only my third outdoor track meet. I am hoping to run well but this is more of a fun experience than anything else. I want to get my race legs before getting into road racing!

Happy Training!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Crisis?

I do not have crisis.

I was recently set up with a man by a lovely/fabulous and very fast friend of mine. I corroborated her referral by checking with an unrelated friend to ensure this gentleman was a quality character. We had a couple of e-mails back and forth and then he reported that he would not be able to meet up for something due to several "crisis" in his life.

I was at a loss of words for how to respond to this. Knowing men and how they work, I hypothesize that his crisis is that he is just not that into me. On further thought I realized that I could not possibly imagine having one crisis that would prevent me from engaging in the things that are meaningful to me let alone several. I can imagine things being busy and stressful in my life but not to the point of a crisis preventing me from going on a date.
I work in a hospital with people who are very sick so I see crisis on a daily basis. The type of crisis I see is illness and the corresponding loss of function. I see people who have lost their regular lives to chronic illness or the result of an acute illness. I am totally healthy and now 100% injury free. I cannot imagine having a crisis of health preventing me from going on a date.

Other crisis involve employment. I have a great job that I love and I think I do a pretty good job. I am not scared of losing my job unless I get downsized although people are still getting sick. As long as people are sick and in hospitals I am still in business. My job does get stressful but going on a date is something to take my mind off the stress. If I were to have the crisis of losing my job I would be dating like a mad man to find a sugar daddy to support me in my time of need. A crisis of employment is not going to keep me from a date.

Running often makes me a bit worked up but not something that could ever cause a crisis in my life. Yes, I worry about running and it's impact on my life but it is by no means crisis worthy. It is quite amazing that I have a life where running is the activity that causes me the most stress and consternation though not a crisis. A bad workout may make me a bit difficult to date but would not stop me from going on a date.

Others may see dating as the area of crisis in my life. I have been on a lot of dates to no avail. By no avail I mean almost disaster in some cases. I have been chronically single and I cannot even manage to find a man with simple things in common with me. I feel like a bit of a freak in the gay world. I am a gay with no hook. I am athletic but a total flamer. I am super skinny. I have to get up early in the morning to work and train. I do not do party drugs on a regular basis. I do not even really like drinking anymore. I am fashion conscious. I think I am awesome though the homos generally do not get me. My serious inability to date effectively could be seen as a bit of a crisis but alas I am perfectly happy in my current pursuits without a man standing by my side. The fact that I am willing to try dating even in light of a less than ideal past says something about this being a crisis. Dating is not a crisis in my life and obviously not holding me back from dating.

I do not want one to think my life is sunshine, lollipops, rainbows coming out of my ass and unicorns dancing around my apartment. I have stress in my life and worries and concerns. I do not want to die alone and this worries me. I want to retire one day and I worry about saving enough money. I miss my family. Sometimes the hustle and bustle of living in the city gets me a bit stressed. I worry about my friends and how they are managing in this world. I would love to have a home and a yard with a garden and I do not think this is likely. These are things I worry about, amongst others, but not crisis.

Knowing that this gentleman is having several crisis is alarming. Several crisis? That is rough! Hearing about the crisis makes me feel very fortunate that I do not have a dramatic life. I have a steady and even life where I work, train, date and spend time with cherished friends. My biggest crisis (which is not a crisis) is missing a workout or missing a split time in a workout. I know at some point in my life I will have challenges and crisis. Until that point I will count my blessings and celebrate crisis free!

This weekend I was in Bellingham in Washington State for the 100th anniversary of the Ski to Sea race. I was on a really cool team and my leg was the downhill ski. By downhill ski I mean up hill climb. I learned a lot this weekend about race preparation. One should always know what they are getting into before actually doing it. I thought a downhill ski leg would be fast and fun. It turns out it was a long slog up a mountain. I hate hill workouts so you can imagine how I was feeling as the sweat was dripping inside my goggles as I climbed. I did not climb fast and nor did I even come close to doing well on the leg for my team. I did get to enjoy a spectacular view from the top and the always exciting pleasure of throwing myself down a mountain as fast as I can, once the climb was over. I can report my team did really well placing 21 of 500 teams in our first try at this event. Our team was also very diverse in age range, sexuality (1/2 hetero), athletic background and nationality! Although I was not overly pleased with my leg of the race I had a super time over the whole day and I actually think I would do it again, although not the downhill ski leg!

Happy Training!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'll Get Right Back To You...

I have encountered a common thread amongst people these days. This is the empty promise to 'get back to you' or a total lack of response.

In our current technology infused world has it become acceptable to not respond to a message or blow people off with empty promises to 'get back to you' or by saying 'I'll be in touch'? I have had a bit of a surge in this type of communication lately, or should I report a lack of communication. I am the type of person who believes that if someone is going to take the time out of their day to think of me and send me a message then I am surely going to return that message in as prompt a fashion as possible.

I understand people are busy in today's run, run, run culture. But seriously, If I can manage to return e-mail messages/text messages, written correspondence, work full time, perform activities of daily living/instrumental activities of daily living, train full time, socialize and volunteer then you certainly should have the time to return my message. Or maybe it is not that important to you. Maybe I am not that important to you.

The thing with ignoring messages or not following through on your word is that it tells the recipient of the snub that you do not think that person is a meaningful part of your life. If a prospective boyfriend does not return your calls it means he is just not that into you. If a friend does not return your messages does it mean the same? I am beginning to think yes.

My professional training tells me that one should be assertive in situations such as this and explain to a person, using me words, that "I feel unimportant and that our friendship is not important when you fail to return my messages or say you will do things and you do not." What I think I am actually going to do is just say nothing at all while thinking Fuck You. When you get around to getting in touch with me I may just be too busy to make time for you.

My training is going amazing right now and I am very excited to begin racing. I have registered for a few races. This weekend I am doing a ski race at Mount Baker. I am hoping to get a run in at the top of the mountain!

Happy Training!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Aerobics!

Why do we do long runs? To improve our aerobic capacity! Why is this important?

Muscles are very complex structures built upon a molecular framework that mainly uses oxygen as a substrate to assist with the converting stored energy into usable energy. Sugar or glycogen is what people normally think of as giving us energy to run. This is correct. But raw sugar cannot be used to contract our muscles. Our body needs to convert the energy into a usable substance called ATP. We need oxygen for this reaction, most of the time.

Our bodies are amazing and complex. Fortunately our muscles can create energy for short periods of time without oxygen. This is called anaerobic. The method for this is called the Krebs Cycle which is super complicated. The main take home point is that the by product from the Krebs Cycle is lactic acid which really sucks. That is what makes our legs hurt when we train hard.

Why does this matter? When we go out for a long slow run we are using our aerobic system. We are training our body to use oxygen in combination with stored energy to move our muscles. When we go faster our muscles start to work harder and we need to feed the engine more energy. At a certain point (lactate threshold) our cardiovascular system cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to our muscles to create energy and we start using the Krebs Cycle and produce lactic acid which makes our legs burn and tired. Theory suggests that by training the aerobic system we can improve it so that we can eventually run either longer or faster before our body starts to use the anaerobic system to fuel our muscles.

To conclude, the whole point of long runs is to improve the ability of the heart and lungs to bring oxygen to our muscles. Without oxygen in our muscles we can move but with lots of fatigue and pain.

Today I had my long run and it was great. I managed to avoid the omnipresent rain which has made Vancouver very green and wet. I am into the part of my training when I love running and while I am running I often think of running more. I was imagining running races while out on my run and this may have been why I ran a bit on the quick side. I must ensure I stay aerobic!

I have also registered for some races. I am a bit anxious to race again. I do not know what to expect though I know I am getting fit. I ran a great workout on Saturday morning and I felt I had the ability to put the hammer down at the end of the workout. It will be interesting.

Happy Training!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Hump

I might have climbed the hump!

After a really hard effort on Saturday morning I was a bit nervous to wake up on Sunday for my usual long run. Even once I was awake and up and about in my apartment I was stalling a bit before heading out the door to trudge through yet another rainy Vancouver day. I was very surprised to have a great long run along the Sea Wall and winding up and down and across beautiful Stanley Park.

My whole body felt rejuvenated. I am trying to figure out what I had done at my workout to explain this recovery. I did a few things differently. I ran a full 2 mile cool down with a mile of barefoot running on a very soft surface. I also got into the pool in the afternoon for an easy stretch out and pull session. I also relaxed all Saturday afternoon and ate well with lots of liquid protein and calories. I think the combination of working some lactate out of my muscles while ensuring I refueled properly had a very positive impact. I must remember this.

My body is also gradually getting used to the workload I am placing upon it. Although I have been quite gradual with my increase in training volume and intensity it is still a difficult transition. There is a point in the training when one starts to crave workouts rather than dread them. I getting closer to that point. I am almost or maybe over the training hump.

I am thinking of writing some blogs on exercise principles. I read a lot on the internet on 'health' blogs that is totally wrong and is not based on science. I want to delve into my kinesiology past and write a bit about training principles and why we are training what we train. There is actually a reason why we do the particular workouts we do!

Happy Training!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

That Lovin' Feeling

My first coach called the part of the workout that really hurts 'the lovin feeling'. I have that feeling.

This is not to be confused with actual love. Unless we are counting my love of running there is no loving feeling in my life at the moment. That lovin' feeling is the time in the workout when it feels like your legs are going to give out, your heart is going to explode, the lungs are going to collapse and every muscle engage spontaneous combustion. I had that lovin' feeling today on the track.

Our workout today was 4 times 1200 metres with 400 quick timed recovery. I forgot my watch again so I had to run this workout blind. My workout was pretty sloppy and I was tired and sore at the start of the first quickish effort. I had no idea how fast to run this workout. I was very happy to have my club mate Kevin on the track to lead the intervals and help my with my pacing. The first interval felt okay but I ran the recovery a bit slow and found myself around 5 seconds behind Kevin at the start of the second effort. I had to push a bit harder than I wanted to to catch Kevin to have someone to work with but I think this was a good decision. We wound up alternating the last two intervals running almost shoulder to shoulder. We negative split the workout although I have no idea what our times were.

This workout is tough on a good day. Today this workout was a bit of a nightmare. It really hurt and I totally had that lovin' feeling! I have yet to gain confidence in my ability to run hard and this workout took a bit of a chunk out of my ego. It did not feel easy and it was a really big struggle to stay with Kevin. I am unsure why but I just felt really flat on the track. There was not a whole lot of pop to my legs.

The last week or so has been a struggle in general. I am feeling the tiredness of training creeping into my life. I long for sleep and my bed more than anything else. I am growing tired of going out and socializing. I am sick of dating and partying. I just want to run, workout and sleep.

This training induced seriousness has been good for me for a couple of reasons. In general I have a Pollyanna streak to me that enables me to look at the world through rose coloured glasses. When I meet single men I will warp their not so great qualities in order to rationalize any number of follow up dates. With my training ramped up I do not have the energy or the will to pretend to be engaged in a not so rewarding dating experience. If I am going to stay up while absolutely exhausted there now has to be fireworks (or something in common). If I have learned anything in the last 6 months it is that I do not need a man to make me happy (despite what society would lead you to believe). With the combination of my indifference to falling in love with my expectation that he be a quality character I am thinking I am going to be able to enjoy my bed to myself for quite a while!

I just wish I had a gay running partner who could keep up. That would be a dream!

Happy Training!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

400 and A Long Run

Yesterday morning was dreary, cold and wet. The conditions were similar to what one may call a Scotch Mist at the track. It was not like it was raining that hard as it was hard to find a distinct rain drop. It was more like being immersed in a wall of wet heavy mist, like someone had a giant spray bottle on mist and was having a great time soaking the track. Within 400 meters of my warmup I could feel the wet and cold in my bones. I had a feeling this was going to be a tough workout.

My perfect conditions for training are bright sunshine and temperatures into the 20s. For fast and hard track workouts I like it a bit warmer. I like to be sweating without my shirt on and in short shorts. I like to be warm as it makes my muscles and aching body feel much better. When my body gets cold I feel my stride length shorten and with each step I feel the shock of impact more and more. This does not happen as much in warmer conditions. Knowing my body I was a bit scared of our 10 by 400 workout.

It turns out I had nothing to fear. Although I was wet and cold I had a great workout with some help from my club mate Gramps. We decided (after I ran too fast for the first 200 of the first 2 intervals) that we would share the lead for the workout alternating 400s. He was on odds and me on evens. His pacing was more even than mine and our repeats went off without a hitch. We managed to hit every interval between 63-65 with a slight negative split to the workout. It was a great effort and once into the workout with my muscles warmed up I was able to accelerate through the hard pieces and really concentrate on running a full stride with a quick recovery. I felt quick off the ground for the first time in a long time. My technique is coming along (yes, there is a lot of technique to running!!!!) and I am getting a bit of confidence in my fitness.

Working with someone else during a workout is really quite fabulous. In many ways it makes the workout half as hard. Out of the 10 intervals yesterday I only had to concentrate on pace for 5. The other 5 intervals were Gramp's and I only had to look at the back of his head and put one foot in front of the other. It also helps to be able to run a workout with a fit and experienced runner. I had full confidence in his ability to run even splits throughout the whole workout. I did not have to worry that I forgot my watch (oops) and could relax through to the finish. Every split time John yelled to us was bang on with Gramps leading. I did not have as much confidence in my own pacing as this is something I am still learning after getting back into training. Having only 5 intervals to worry about, one of which being the last (the last is the easiest as you just run as hard as you can because you are 1. exhausted and 2.almost done), I was mentally able to dial into the workout with an intensity I have not felt in a while.

I can also report that this was a workout that was a bit easier for me than all previous. This may have been why my pacing was a bit erratic. Prior to this workout most of my running was a bit laborious and difficult. At the track yesterday my legs took a bit of a rebound and thus it felt like I did not need as much effort to run my usual pace of the past few months. It is a nice treat to feel the fitness coming back.

This morning I had a lovely long run to West Vancouver. It was a bit different as I have not run over the big bridge in a long time. The change of scenery was welcome as I find long runs a bit on the boring side these days. All told my legs felt a bit achy but generally good.

I am off to the pool to work out some kinks and then tonight a meeting in preparation for what will be my next race, the Ski to Sea relay race. I am going to do the Down Hill ski section! I am going back to my roots for a little bit of fun.

Happy Training!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Back to Beaver

Holy cow I am excited!

Tonight I was back at Beaver lake for my second workout running km repeats. In total we ran 5 times a km on descending recovery. This was my first fast workout since my injury and I am both relieved and pleased. I ran close to my best workout ever on this route.

A few months ago I was thinking I was finished running and training. I did not believe I would be able to balance the demands of training with the demands of my life. It turns out that making a few changes in my life has meant that I can 'have my cake and eat it too'. I am ecstatic with running at the moment and super happy to be running fast again!

Happy Training!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Birthday Reflection

It is my birthday.

I do not want to get old. There was a brief period in adolescence when I wanted to grow up, about 5 days. For the majority of my life I have not wanted to get older. For the most part I have wanted to stop the clock of time and maintain my youthful enthusiasm and strong wiry body.

I also recognize that the opposite of getting old is dying young. This is not an appealing alternative to getting old. I have to understand that in many ways it will be a privilege to grow old and die in my 90s. What I want is to ensure I have a great quality of life into my older years.

Now that I am learning to appreciate the potential positives in aging I must also learn to age gracefully. I am finding myself thinking things like "are these jeans age appropriate?" or "should I sleep with this guy who is 22?" At 33 years old I am no longer young. The years of my youth are behind me and I am solidly an adult. I am out of the life of potential and into the life of 'this is as good as it gets'.

With the realization that my potential in many respects has been reached I can reflect on running and my goals for the future. I want to run fast again and with every workout and long run I want to run more and more. I want to win races. I do not know if I will ever run another best time. I still have that hope but I do not know if it will happen. I would like to run sub 31 again though. At 33 I must be aware that my body will not respond like it used to and I must act accordingly which leads me to...

...I think my partying days are done for a while. I have had a great year of fun and excitement and I am getting tired. I have learned a lot over the past year about what makes me happy and what takes away from my quality of life. I have done a lot of dating and have met a few great men and developed some lasting friendships. I longed to live the crazy gay life and I have to a certain extent. That life is not really for me. I am getting too old to be out parting into the wee hours and I want to save my body for things that are more important to me, like maintaining my function into my 90s.

I have also learned a lot about the type of person I am and how what society prescribes is not what I need. I longed for a boyfriend and a love of my life and wrote long drawn out posts about how much it sucks to be single. Being single is not actually that bad. In fact is it really awesome. I am really thinking that I am not meant to have a boyfriend. I do not want to lose my independence and nor do I want someone curtailing the activities that make me happy. Of course if a Prince Charming came along I would go weak in the knees but it is no longer a priority in my life.

The best part of right now is that I am happy. I am figuring this life thing out and I have a really good thing going. I am content in how I live my life with a bit of a fire still burning. I still want to achieve and I still want to change the world but I am also aware that I have achieved and I am changing the world. I am having a positive impact on people's lives and I am living a good life. Things are just really good.

This morning I was up early and hit the glorious sunshine for a quality long run. I am a bit sore from yesterday but that shows me I am doing something right in my workouts! Onward and upward!

Happy Training!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

300

The dreaded 9 times 300 workout.

After a wonderful meal last night with a tasty glass of red wine I managed to wake up at 05:00 with a hangover. One glass of wine before bed and I woke up with a hangover. Needless to say I am not in the drinking shape of my youth. I re-awoke at 07:30 feeling tired and nauseous. I got out of bed at 08:00, made breakfast and slowly prepared to hit the track.

Upon turning into the drive at the track in my Zipcar I was taken aback by the hundreds of screaming children and their slightly disinterested yet entitled parents. I warmed up on the streets and then finished my warm up on the track. Prior to getting into any speed work I politely asked the people milling on the track to please step off the track as there is a team doing a workout on the track. Parents have attitude. I am unsure if it is the particular parent who has children in soccer or if this is a trend in this city but those people were very rude. I had to explain to one lady that the track is what we run on and that I did not know where she could stand to watch her son play. She was very very disrespectful. Of all the people I asked to step off of the track there was one family who were polite and responsive. That is 3 people out of 15-20. I am disappointed that these are the people who are procreating. I do not look forward to seeing the next generation in Vancouver if this is how parents behave.

Once the track was clear we began our workout of 9 times 300 meters with descending recovery. I was on my own for this workout and coach Hill was not there either which meant the recovery was honest. No stopping or long breaks between intervals. From the start I felt great although with a bit of fatigue in my quads and a muscle cramp in my forearm from doing chin-ups the day before. I hit my pace times for the first 3 intervals and then the times got slower. I was 3-4 seconds off of pace and it was a struggle. I did not float the recovery and upon starting a new interval I was breathing heavy and fatigued. Thankfully I hit my time on the last interval thanks to a guest appearance by Paul, back from Sweden to run the 1/2 marathon.

I am happy with my workout today. I did not quite run the times I had wanted but I gave a good effort and pushed hard through the end of the workout. I did not back off the pace or bake the recovery just to get a good time. In workouts with a controlled descending recovery the most important aspect of the workout is to honor the recovery. Keeping honest within the body of the workout ensures the benefits will be felt.

I am really starting to feel my running legs coming back. I am getting a bit of a spring in my step and my feet seem to be coming off of the ground a bit quicker and sharper. With every workout and run I feel my muscles starting to remember how to get those feet going. Hopefully I will be running like on hot pavement soon!

Happy Training!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Classy

I was raised in a very conservative family. My upbringing was strict with many rules and responsibilities. The most important was manners and class. Although I grew up in the country I was not raised as a hick.

There are certain unwritten rules in society and in certain sports. Running has a full slate of unwritten rules and ways of being that contribute to what makes the sport so wonderful for those of us who have spent our formative years pounding out the miles with teammates on the track, trails and pavement of our communities. Above all else we are taught to give our best every time we toe the line.

Certain etiquette in running is purely based on safety. Always stay to the right and let others pass on the left when on trails. The inside lane of the track goes to the fastest pace times, slower runners in the outside lanes, walkers in lane 8. When you are finished an interval step off the track immediately. Bathe before workouts. Do not wear earphones during workouts or races. Align yourself at the beginning of a race in the appropriate pace section.

Other running etiquette is more related to manners and tradition. Generally speaking distance runners are quite low key when away from the field of play. I have met and trained with some of the fastest guys in Canada and one would never guess that they run 28 minutes for 10km. After running a hard race or workout one would never guess the effort they out their body through. They are subtle and reserved and have a steely self confidence in the work they have done and years they have spent training. It is very rare for me to encounter a rude or mean runner. It is just how running works.

It is the etiquette and camaraderie of the people who run that contribute to why I love this sport. It gives me comfort and reminds me of home. What scares me are the individuals who do not get this. With regards to safety I do not want to get injured again. Running into the ditch to get the interval done is not cool. Running into lane 5 is also not cool. I also do not want to lose the quietness of an workout or the silent confidence of the solitary distance runner. These images are what our sport is built on. There is a mystique and lore connected with the image of a distance runner. I hope it is maintained.

My running is going well. I have been feeling quite sore and achy lately which is part of training, I think. My foot is totally healed and I do not even limp any more. The intervals are not getting easier but that is the whole point. They never get easy, intervals just get faster. I am quite tired all the time and I feel like I am fighting some sort of illness. I am feeling a bit less engaged in society but that is also one of the side effects of getting fit again. There are even little things that are coming back. When I am lean there is a spot under my jaw bone that is difficult to shave because the razor will not fit into that crevice. It is back! I must also report that I am getting pretty lean again which is nice. I must continue to drink my protein shakes!

My gay old life is rolling along with reckless abandon. I am making up for lost time and in the process I have met some really cool people and have had some really fun experiences. I guess to sum up my feelings; I am really happy!

I hope to hit the track on Saturday morning. I hope my body will be ready!

Happy Training!

Friday, April 22, 2011

1 7/8

2 times a mile and 7/8

There are 2 ways to run this workout and last night we ran it the fun way. Normally I can run this interval in 9:00 low but last night I was a bit slower running 9:21 and 9:16. I was pleased with my effort on achy legs and a still untrained heart and lungs. I am surprised by how my body seems to have maintained much of it's muscle memory and speed endurance.

I am also very pleased to have a group to run with. When I stopped training last year I was very lonely, especially during workouts. I found myself either running through the group or running totally on my own in front. When I was in a workout I could work hard to chase down people who started in front of me but once I passed them I was on my own. Day after day this type of training has a deep psychological effect. I would finish workouts physically drained and mentally spent after trying to continually motivate myself to beat an imaginary competitor in front of me. Now I have some talent to chase and it is great!

I am also encouraged as the 2 individuals I was running with last night both ran sub 32 at the Sun Run. If I can match pace with 2 men in 31:30 shape then things are looking up. I hope with a bit more fitness and confidence in my running I will be able to push them more. The one aspect of training I need to regain is working through the pain. I also need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. I was unable to push through a tough section last night. When I felt the lactate creeping and my breath shortening I was not able to respond to the surge brought forth by my speedy club mates. With a couple months of training I will hope to be shoulder to shoulder with my club mates in some intense suffering!

I work this weekend so my training will be tempo and long run on the UBC campus. I hope it is not too busy!

Happy Training!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sun Run Race Report!

I dressed in my only pair of Lulu Lemon shorts and trainers and made my way to start my first race since injury. It was fun?

The Sun Run start is always a total gong show at the front of the pack. I positioned myself in the third row and planned on taking it easy for the first km and then working my way into the race to try and finish in a somewhat respectable time. At the 1 km mark I can report that I was in the middle of the lead women. Everyone goes out way too fast in the first km and I am sure there was some suffering because of that first km. I felt great after the first km and relaxed into my stride to find a group to run with.

Historically I have managed to find myself in no man's land in most races I run. Maybe it is my loner coming out. Today I found I could not manage to get into a good group to get pulled along. There was a group in front of me that I could have bridged but for some reason I just did not have the drive to get there. I may have lost some of my race instinct in the last few months. From the 4 km point I ran mostly on my own (I had a nice conversation at 4 km with someone who knew me), occasionally passing people but never getting passed.

I did not hit any really bad patches. There were no times during the race that I thought I was going to die. I did get bored around the 7 km mark and a bit frustrated. I wanted to go faster but I did not have the legs to go. I did not feel that tired I just could not really go faster although that was mostly mental. I had quite a bit of speed at the finish so I may have bagged the race a bit.

I felt good crossing the finish line and for the most part the race felt pretty routine. I am not that sore and I ran home feeling just fine. I think I ran mid 32. It is very encouraging to run mid 32 without too much pain or agony after quite a time off and only a few workouts. I also ran in my cushiony trainers and without a watch I guess that proves to me further that there is still some speed left in this body.

Now my goal is to get consistent training and build on this tempo/race into the summer. I just wish there were more road races in the summer. Track maybe?

Happy Training!

Monday, April 11, 2011

For The Fun Of It!

I am running the Sun Run with the objective to have fun.

My training is going well in light of the fact that I am very happy and am enjoying running. My training is not going well with regards to the actual quality of my running. Although I have been consistent with my training the speed has not been quite what I am used to nor have I been training with my team enough. This will change in the next few weeks.

It is weird to go into a big race with the goal being to have fun. What should I do in the first km? Last year I ran a 2:55. If I run that pace this year I will tank at 2 km so maybe I should run a 3:05? If I run a 3:05 I will be in the 50s or 60s going into the second km. I think I will go with the flow and run an easy first km with the idea to tempo hard the middle section of the race and maybe interval the last 2 km. Regardless I am looking to have fun and see some old friends from the running world.

My goals for the summer are pretty simple but there is one that is now in jeopardy. My goals were to win 3 races. I want to win the Pride and Remembrance Run as part of Toronto Pride, the Antigonish Highland Games 5 Mile Road Race and the North American Outgames 10 km Road Race. The problem with the Outgames race is the expense. In total it will cost $130.00 to run this race on the Seawall. Imagine paying $130.00 to run on the Seawall!

I understand the concept behind the Outgames and I certainly think they are a great idea but the expense is quite steep. I have never paid more than $80 for any race I have competed in and most runs I have completed have cost less that $40. For $80 one gets a very big race experience with amazing organization and a super venue. To be honest I have only paid this much for a triathlon which requires organization beyond that of a regular road race.

I have yet to decide if I will run at the Outgames. I do not like Seawall races and I do not want to pay a tonne of money to run on the Seawall. I would be interested in running a track meet but this too has quite a significant expense. I also have to work which may also put a wrench in the plans. I will have to decide soon as the early bird rate ends in the near future.

I hope to have some good training this week. I am feeling more fit every day and running is finally starting to get a bit easier. I am starting to feel like the old me and I am not afraid of bonking or collapsing on runs any more.

Happy Training!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Preparation meets opportunity?

I have had my training side railed by my social and treatment life.

Balancing running, weights, swimming, work, dating, going out dancing, traveling, skiing, massage, physio, doctor, dentist and hair appointments has become somewhat of a logistical nightmare. Not to mention trying to somehow fit cleaning, cooking and laundry into my already tight schedule is leaving me feeling a bit ragged and run down. I fell asleep this afternoon while watching a movie. This never happens.

I woke up early yesterday to run a tempo workout but felt like I had a hangover without drinking a drop of alcohol. I had plans for the majority of the day with 2 small windows of opportunity to run a dreaded tempo. I was able to fit my 20 minutes of pace work into my afternoon.

I was not excited to step out the door and trudge through Stanley Park. Once I had warmed up though I was feeling a bit more willing to push for the requisite 20 minutes. Overall I had a successful workout. I was able to run on pace without much distress and pushed the last three minutes of the tempo at a slow interval pace. I was pleased with my effort and took an extra long cool down. It is nice to feel a bit more fit and be able to have a relaxed long run home without too much exhaustion or fear of collapsing.

This morning I was able to do my 70 minute long run and it was satisfactory. My mind felt great and my foot even better. Every other part of my body was in pain. I can feel the training in my tired legs and they are starting to ache. I also feel the training in my upper body and back. My lower back has been on the sore side of normal and my shoulder girdle has been not the best. I had a bit of a scary moment at around the 50 minute mark when I started to have an aching in one of my lower legs. I am terrified of a stress fracture so I will have to watch this.

For much of my run today I was telling myself to relax and slow down. I did not feel as though I was going fast but I did feel like I was more anaerobic than I ought to have been on an easy long run. When people along the way are telling me "keep up the pace" I think I am running a bit fast. Maybe this is my subconscious telling my body to cram before Sun Run.

Sun Run is only 2 weeks away and I am feeling very under prepared. I have no idea what to expect. This is my first race towards getting in shape for summer races and fall training. This is a building block for motivation but also a measure of my desire. In many ways Sun Run will tell me if I want to return to hard training. If I cross the finish line after having fun along the race course yet wanting to run faster I will know that it is time to train. If I cross the finish line feeling like death and hating the whole thing I will know that maybe running might be done for me. As I am getting in better shape and the running is becoming more routine and easier I am thinking that I will enjoy the experience. The Sun Run is typically an amazing experience with exceptional organization so I can venture to guess that I will have fun!

This week coming up promises to be as busy as the past few. After a day in Whistler tomorrow I am going to have to find a way to find time to groom and train. Next weekend will be a gay holiday in Seattle. Many opportunities! I hope they do not impair my preparation too much!

Happy Training!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No Time

I have been busy.

Between an abnormal amount of dates, attempting to get back in shape and a regular social life I have been burning the candle at both ends. Training has been hit and miss and the adjustment to life as an athlete has been difficult.

I have had a few adventures and I continue to use cross training as a way to improve/maintain my fitness without burning out. I had an amazing ski morning on Saturday with a good and very fast friend!

Today I reluctantly made my way to the track at UBC to run a solo workout because of many different social commitments I have at the same time as my VFAC workouts. As I reached into my bag to grab my watch this afternoon I thought twice and decided not to time my workout. I ran 4, 4, 8, 4, 4, 8, 4, 4. I take half the interval as recovery. This is one of my favorite workouts and one that always reminds me of my summer training with the St.F.X. cross country team in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

When I run this workout I think of the 400's as quick and fast pieces and the 800's at steady and survivable. I like the 400's to be hard and hurt and the 800's to be grinders. This is a workout about perceived effort and I did not want to be disappointed with my efforts so I did not take one time.

I ran hard today and it was very tough. I maintained an active and honest recovery and ran what felt like a good effort. My heart rate was elevated and I seemed to be running at around 80%. I am still not up to full speed or even able to push as hard as I am accustomed. Tonight I am fatigued and tired showing a good effort. I am pleased.

After many posts about terrible dating and loneliness I am pleased to report some wonderful dating experiences. I have been feeling really good lately. living without chronic pain has made me pretty happy. It is a pleasure to run and this joy of being must be projecting from my countenance. I hope this string continues!

Happy Training!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This is Hard

Running is really hard.

This week I have noticed how much energy running takes and how much planning running requires.

For the last 6 months I have been basically doing whatever I want. I have become a yes man to most of what is offered without thinking much of time or energy. Now that I am training again I have suddenly realized my schedule is incredibly full and I am really tired. This is the kind of tired that permeates every cell in my body and gives my bed the voice of the sirens. He calls for me to get near and once firmly inside it will not let me go easily.

There is a lot of planning involved in a running schedule. Each day's workout has a purpose and builds on other work. Fatigue is a product of the training and is evidence of a program working. Eventually the body adapts to the strain placed upon it and we begin to get fit and run faster with less perceived effort. My fatigue shows me I am training and living hard, which is the point. I have to be willing to withstand this initial onslaught of exhaustion and push through it.

I am happy to be training again but I need to figure out how to balance training with life. I really like my life right now. Things are great in all areas of my life from work to recreation to dating (I am still single but dating...). I want to maintain this excitement and happiness with life and if I am tired all the time I will soon burn out again and forget why I do this. I can feel my self getting quiet and withdrawing. A few weeks ago I was craving to dance and party. Now I am content to sit quietly with friends and watch a movie. I am becoming a recluse again.

This is a hump to get over. This is the result of incredible drive and determination. I want to run fast. I want to win. I am willing to do what I must to win but I also want to have love, friends and fun outside of running. I will figure this out somehow!

Today was my first real day on the track and I felt like I have not been there in a while. Today was another lesson on how hard it is to run. It was a real and genuine struggle. At one point I had a very powerful realization of how well trained I was last year and how exceptional it is to be able to run without thinking twice about a 65 second 400. Generally I am pleased with my workout and there are a few lessons I have learned as well. I ran 10 times 400 with the help of some great teammates. John wanted me to run 70 down to 65. I ran what he asked. I ran 3 400's at around 70-72 and the rest mostly at 67 with a 65 thrown in to really fuck me up.

Lessons I have learned. Doing weights has changed how much my body can exercise without taking in energy. After my warm-up I was dizzy and starving. Half way through the workout I was forgetting what I was doing and could not remember what I was doing or what repetition I was on. I need to take energy to workouts now. I have also learned what it feels like to tie up. Holy Hannah my legs turned to jelly. I am still learning how hard it is to run.

Happy Training!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Passion

As with any passionate relationship I am back hotly in love with running.

What is passion without the crazy up and downs? If I think about passionate relationships as depicted in popular culture I see within these relationships great undulations between love and hate. I see all consuming blinding love that can leave an individual in tears of joy and a destructive hate that can leave an individual broken and despondent. I feel this relationship with running.

I am currently in the love aspect of running after recovering from my hate of the summer. There is something about feeling good while running without pain that inspires love. If I think back to July when I was tired, could barely walk and was very lonely I did not hate running, but I wanted to have a break in our relationship. I felt I had given a lot to this sport I love and I could not give anymore. I needed to see what it would be like to be a real gay man and do some things that I had never tried before. I wanted to be irresponsible and not have to worry about mileage, workouts or getting a sponsor. I wanted to be free.

I have learned that much of my freedom comes from running. The ability to run and love it, more than almost anything, gives me a freedom not afforded many others. I know that my heart, lungs, peripheral vascular system, neurological function and mental capacity are enhanced and honed through physical activity. This gift I have to run and love it with all my heart enables me to live a life unknown to many. The pure joy of running fast through the trails of Stanley Park fills my heart with so much love, with so much love I cannot find the words. My freedom to fully participate in life is born from my love of running and my physical and mental health. I must remember this feeling once the training starts to sink in.

Today I ran my first full interval workout since June and I am very happy with the results. The workout was 5 times 1 km at my beloved Beaver Lake. I was anticipating running 3:10 and working my way down to 3:05 or so. I opened in 3:05, ran 3:02, 3:02, 3:00, and 3:01. I ran pretty close to a 9 flat 3000 metre at my first full workout. Pretty fucking exciting! During the second last interval I was smiling so wide that I may have gone a bit hypoxic trying to get some oxygen.

If I ran these times this time last year I would have been very disappointed and upset. Today I am ecstatic! I am very pleased and chaffing at the bit to get back out there training. I almost felt like going for a second run today. I must restrain myself and be patient!

This is both the fun part and scary part of getting into shape. The times are going to drop but I am also going to be tired and in pain. I am going to want to withdraw a bit from society. My focus is already starting to shift to the trails, track and races and I have my eye on my first challenge. I am going to run the Sun Run. I figure this is the race in which I first ran sub 31 so I may as well hit it hard. I have a feeling it will be the most fun race of the year. No pressure to run fast. I will be satisfied to get to the finish line in one piece!

Very Happy Training!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Close to Pace

I ran a tempo today. I am very close to being on pace. I am more than surprised.

I am progressing my tempo by one minute a week. This week I ran 16 minutes in Stanley Park. I ran a route I have run hundreds of times and have run intervals on many times as well. I usually run low 9 minutes on this loop when running a workout alone. Today I ran slightly over 10 minutes while trying to stay relaxed and tempo. I was very surprised when I saw this time on my watch.

Although I am happy to be running at a good clip this soon I am also very aware that I have a lot of work ahead of me to get into race shape. I am shocked that I was able to run relaxed and fast especially after my less that stellar track session a week ago. I feel like I am getting into a bit of a rhythm and am feeling good.

I must report my foot is not doing great. I am starting to run in pain again and thus I have made a physio appointment. I sure hope there are some solutions to this issue. I am also going to hit the massage table for some work. I think I need consistent massage appointments to work out some major kinks in my body.

Happy Training!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Front Runner

Yesterday I did a clinic with Front Runners of Vancouver. Front Runners is a group for gay runners to get together and do what they love, run!

It was amazing to talk to some of the runners in the group because there was an array of people who came from a running background including individuals who ran competitively in university and high school. The clinic itself was quite fun, it is always nice to share drills and strides!

Being around active gay people was very refreshing. There is a hope that one day I will meet a man who would be willing to spend a Sunday out running or in the trails without much complaint. After that day in the sun it would be nice to have that man come home with me for some after activity activity rather than what happens now.

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend this week. She spoke of a book she was reading about relationships. The main point of the book is to trust your instincts and to listen to your instincts. There are times in our lives when we know something just feels right and conversely when we feel something is going in the wrong direction. For whatever reason we tend to ignore what our gut tells us and do what may not be the most positive for our psyche.

I have a dream. To meet someone who shares the same interests as me and has some of the same values as me and who is attractive. I want this person to become my boyfriend. I have a dream that one day I will meet a man that I can go on an easy run with and love. I have a dream of crossing the finish line in a race and having someone there to hug and love regardless of the result. This is in my gut. This is what fills me with longing but also hope. I dream of meeting my dream.

Will this ever happen? I do not know. But I can always dream.

I had a satisfactory long run today if one ignores tripping over a dog leash. I am into the somewhat angry part of my training when my body is just starting to get a bit depleted from the training and I am starting to get a bit fried. I was continually annoyed by people on my long run. They were in the way and there were dogs everywhere. I like dogs, it is their owners that should be put on leashes.

I am also developing a love/hate relationship with Vancouver and I am attempting to think of an angle to blog about it without offending some friends. Since my eye contact experiment has ended I have embarked on a new hobby; chatting with people who have just moved here. There is a general consensus that Vancouver is one of the most superficially friendly cities that people have lived in. This city is a hard nut to crack!

Stay tuned. I am sure this is going to be stimulating reading.

Happy Training!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

76? 83?

I tried the track and the track won, for now.

With my new job fully in swing I am able to run new trails with close access to a new artificial track. The call of the track was a bit too much to ignore and on Tuesday I ran a 3 mile warm up and settled on the track for drills and strides and a little test of my speed.

I was surprised to feel very tired and sluggish on my warm up. My drills felt a bit on the flat side and my two 400s were slow. I ran a 76 and an 83. I felt discoordinated and fat. My feet were slow to leave the cushioned rubber surface and I felt my technique fall apart into the last sections of the fast piece. In short I am out of shape.

I am fit but not in running shape. I was hoping to start workouts with my club as soon as within the next few weeks. I have been craving a fast hard workout. What I must realize is that I am not capable of running a fast workout at the current time. I need to put in the miles of tempo and long intervals to improve my speed endurance in order to run a few fast track workouts. I am unsure how long it will take me to get up to speed but I must maintain my patience.

I am planning on running a tempo tomorrow. I hope it goes well.

Happy Training!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Family

After a weekend of 'training' at altitude I am slightly sad to be back in Vancouver. I would have loved a few more days up in the mountains to carve the slopes and skate the trails. I had a wonderful weekend and even managed a great skate ski once the snow warmed up and we got some glide.

On the way back to the city, on the very snowy highway, I read a section from Kristy Clark's speech after winning the BC Liberal leadership. As the Liberals are in power in BC Ms. Clark will become the next Premier of the province. Clark said something along the lines of; She is here for BC Families. BC families are at the center of her reign as Premier and she will work hard to support and protect them and ensure their continued success.

What about those of us who do not have a family here in BC? Does this mean that I now have to support not only my singleton self but also all the double income families in the province? I feel like this new government is not for me.

I feel like a bit of a pariah in today's society. I do not have a family or spouse or even a boyfriend, which means I have no inherent value besides what I contribute to the tax system. Although I add to society through my work and volunteer activities that does not matter as I do not have a family. The priority today is to serve only those with families. The singletons must support those families.

I understand that it is very important to ensure the continuation of our species. I know that families are important to society and a well supported family will bring forth the leaders of tomorrow. I must also voice my outrage with the tag line that only families matter.

I think it is time for us singletons to raise a fuss. I am single not trash. I work hard for the betterment of society and should not be made to feel like a second class citizen because I do not have a family. I am the individual who will actually have to pay taxes this year as I have no possible way to write off half my income because of dependents. Not only do I pay taxes but I also manage to keep the economy running. My contribution to the marketplace (shopping!) is what keeps families employed. I am making the economic contributions to the social support system that will support education, health and infrastructure for someone else's future generation. I deserve a government that represents me as well. I am paying your salary.

To conclude;

Dear Premier Delegate Clark

Please represent all of us in British Columbia. Although the majority in this province have families there are a few of us who are not in families and working really hard to make this a better province for everyone. We are working hard for families and those with no one to help them. Please include everyone, including me. We may not hold all the votes but we sure are trying to effect positive change.

All the best in your future endeavors,

J. MacD.

Happy Training!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shrinking

Already I am starting to get smaller.

Although I have only been back to running for a few weeks I am already starting to slim down. My natural body type, little, is not in favor of gaining muscle. I have been diligently going to the gym lifting weights and eating as much protein as I can cram into my stuffed body. I have been trying to eat as much as possible and yet I am getting smaller. I am a natural born endurance athlete.

I was at the Levis store on Saturday to buy a pair of skinny black jeans. I was looking at a pair on the rack and thought there was no way anyone could fit into such a little pair of jeans let alone me with my 'big' runner legs. With the encouragement of the sales representative I took a pair of skinny jeans into the change room anticipating a squeeze into these trendy gems. Much to my chagrin the skinniest jeans in the store left my legs with ample room to breathe, they were almost loose.

I have always been bottom heavy. Bigger legs and bum with tiny bird arms and a big rib cage. As I have been doing weights my body proportions are changing. On the good side my body is becoming more becoming. The shape is becoming more aesthetically pleasing in the cultural sense, bigger shoulders with a small bum but overall I think I am getting smaller all of the sudden. I am getting ripped but at the cost of general size. I just cannot seem to gain weight.

With a few added running workouts a week I am burning more calories than I can consume. The muscle I have added is increasing my basal metabolic rate meaning to maintain the slight gains I have made I need to eat even more. Short of eating peanut butter by spoon from the jar I am pretty much hooped. And I am getting tired of eating.

Through this whole process I am learning a great deal about myself and my body. First, this body was meant to run. Second, I have severe body dysmorphia. I totally thought my legs were huge but when I actually measured them they are a mere 2 inches smaller than my arms (comparing circumference of biceps and calve). I know my arms are small so my legs must be comparatively smaller. Third, I am always going to be small unless I stop any sort of cardiovascular activity which I am not willing to do. The conclusion, I need to do what I love and give a fuck to whatever else.

I am going to be lean and small but I will own this. The current fashion trend calls for lean and skinny people to slip into clinging and slim styles. This is a trend that I both love and can wear without trouble. The great thing about being small is that I can manage to look good in most clothes. With my slight weight gain I am almost fitting most of my shirts and I think I can fit into a small instead of extra small. I am no longer always extra small. That is a minor accomplishment.

Running continues to go well. I ran a 10 mile long run on Sunday morning without much distress. I had a great cross country ski on Monday night and tonight I ran a slow tempo with chin-ups and weights. I can feel the extra training in my body as I am a bit more tired than usual but it feels good.

I am extremely happy to report that my injury is doing very well. Both my feet are pain free and I am not even limping in the morning. I can walk and run without any foot pain which is a huge relief.

Looking forward, as I have a habit of doing, I am going to continue to lift weights to maintain my gains so I do not look skeletal this summer. I want to be lean and ripped and fast. I want to get into intervals soon as I am in need of some intensity to moderate my easy runs. I am also going to keep hitting the snow as much as possible to engage my cardiovascular system and improve my strength. This weekend I am hitting the snow of the interior on a semiannual gay ski weekend.

Happy Training!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Goal Setting!

I have reached my goal for this week. I have run 5 times!

One of the aspects of running I love the most is the ability to set and accomplish goals. I set the goal of running 5 times this week and I did. Today was a glorious and absolutely stunning day in Vancouver. The sun is shining brightly and the air is crisp and clean. A perfect day for a workout in the trails of Stanley Park.

I am moving very slowly forward in the hopes of returning to training. In the effort to move forward without injury I am slowly increasing both mileage and intensity. I am trying to teach my body how to deal with the pounding and stress of running again. Today I ran 7 miles with full drills and strides at the half way point. I was back at Beaver Lake for my drills and it was stunning.

I also ran into my club while out on the trails. It was really nice to see all the smiling faces and happy training people. My heart really wanted to run an interval with the group but my mind knows better than to push before being ready. To be honest, I have not really missed the running world that much in my time away, although now I feel a real desire to be back with these crazy people. I was surprised to see many new faces at the workout today. It will be fun to get to know them. I was also really happy to see some old friends and training mates. I guess sometimes you do not know what you have lost until you see it again. I am looking forward to the camaraderie of VFAC again. And of course I am excited for coach John's stories and anecdotes!

So now that I am back on a consistent schedule I am thinking it is time for a bit of a long run tomorrow. I am thinking 10 miles will be nice! Hopefully the gorgeous weather will hold out!

Happy Training!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday Tempo!

What? Wednesday tempo?

Tempo Tuesday is now Tempo Wednesday and yes, I am training. In total I ran 15 minutes at sub-threshold pace on a treadmill. This was not an exciting workout but with the weather blustery and cold I was not in the mood for hitting the soggy wet trails to wither during a early, early season workout. I felt really inspired despite the monotony of the treadmill. Post workout I was able to do my 3 sets of chin-ups and a full core workout with lots of push-ups. I will be buff by summer!

With my adjusted training schedule I am planning on running a tempo on Wednesday and a workout on Saturday until I get my feet under me. I have a race in mind to get back into the swing of things but I want to get some real training in before I commit to a race. The only two races I am really interested in are the Pride Run in Toronto and The Antigonish Highland Games 5 mile race in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Two very random races and two races that I really, really want to win.

My foot is getting better. I should report that my original injury is pretty close to being better. The rest of my foot is fucked. As with any injury and recovery there is typically a compensation of other structures to accommodate for the original weakness. There is also a tendency to guard the injured area. I have most likely done all of these things. I am working hard on strengthening my foot in the hopes it heals well. I hope it gets better soon because over a year of pain really is starting to become tedious.

I also have some good news in regards to training though indirectly. I have a new job working near some of the best trails and training facilities in Vancouver. It will only be for a year but I think it will be beneficial for me and motivation to train. I will have easy access to an artificial track which also makes me very excited. I may add a workout to my schedule as easy access to the track should be taken advantage of!
I am continuing to enjoy skiing and I have been able to hit the trails and slopes thanks to a very eager friend of mine. I think my time on the trails has saved my fitness. I love being in the mountains and on the snow. It provides a great break from the rain of Vancouver even when only a few miles up and away. Next week I hit Silver Star for a semi annual gayish ski weekend with a few friends of mine. I am very excited to ski but even more excited for a beer in the hot tub!

Helpful Tip!

I was digging through my workout clothes trying to find a top to wear to the gym that I could run and do weights in without looking like a tool. I grabbed an old Saucony singlet and threw it in my bag. This old school tri top had two pockets for energy gels which it turns out make great iPod holders! How very exciting! In related news...Girltalk's album 'All Day' is a super great workout album!

Happy Training!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Whoa, that was a bad one....

Ever have one of those days?

Today was one of them. From the moment I woke up and realized my scrubs were dirty, through the forgotten lunch, missed bus, work, missed bus again, pouring rain, shitty workout, inside out umbrella, heart burn and heart ache it has been a doozie of a day.

I hate today. Every year I think the same thing, 'next year I will have a Valentine!' and every year I think the same thing 'next year I will have a Valentine!' I have yet to have a Valentine. This year I feel particularly disappointed as I have made some major and difficult changes in my life. I stopped training in the hopes that a free schedule and party attitude would bring me into the fold of the homosexual man and lead me to find the man of my satisfaction (I am not holding out for dreams anymore). I am still in my apartment alone, typing at my computer.

When I was running competitively I always knew that a big reason I did not have a boyfriend was because I was training too hard to have the time. The men I would meet would not understand the drive and passion involved in running at an elite level. My body appeared frail and much too skinny for today's homo and I did not have time to party or date extensively. Now that I have had time to date and have a more well rounded life I am still repeatedly running into the same brick wall. I am pretty certain it is me that is the problem.

I am stuck. I want to run but I also do not want to be lonely for the rest of my life. I want to be fast but I am sick of being a skinny runt. I want to win races but I do not want to be invisible when I go out after. Herein lies the difficulty of being a gay runner. I will never meet a gay runner. I feel like I will never meet a man who would understand running and putting all your energy into one simple yet pointless endeavor. I think of my heterosexual former teammates who met their significant others on the cross country team and wish things could have been different for me.

I am slowly getting back into running consistently. My goal is to run 5 times this week. I have 2 runs completed already so the last 3 should be nice and easy. I also want to try a tempo this week as well.

Happy Training!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

VD

Valentines Day=Venereal Disease

After a couple of weeks of increasingly consistent training and some hard running I am starting to lose a bit of my cheery self. This cheerfulness is replaced with a degree of bitterness and generalized frustration. Although my mood shift is not good for my interpersonal relationships it does create fodder for a blog.

I noticed today while on the street enjoying some of Vancouver's glorious sunshine, a great deal of valentines day garbage. Why is it that every February we get deluged with an enormous amount of pink toxic trash which does not actually show your love but rather your purchasing power? In our increasingly disposable society we are mastering the art of creating garbage to be bought as a symbol of love. Did I mention running/training can make me bitter?

If I could get away from the oppressive nature of this trend I would but it is proving to be impossible. This "I am sooooo in love" bullshit is everywhere. I open my email and there are advertisements for every Valentine's day thing you can imagine. Did you know that there is Groupon for your Valentine? There is a special love song mix on iTunes and I imagine you can buy matching heart running shoes somewhere. Even my hallowed weekend Globe and Mail was full of VD advertisements. I hate Valentine's day.

I was able to run again today and my foot is quite sore. It has been sore all day though it is more my ankle than my foot. I ran 5 miles in total today and towards the end my foot was getting quite wonky. I will decide whether to run or not tomorrow after seeing how my foot feels. I am getting motivated to run again and get super ripped! Six pack for summer!

Happy Training!