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!