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Day 2: Speed Work

In Thought of the Day on June 20, 2012 at 3:59 am

Day 2 of marathon training starts early. I couldn’t sleep. I woke up a 4 am in a nervous panic. My son’s lacrosse team is in a playoff with a team from Burnaby, a neighboring town and the league commissioner was suppose to give me a ruling on when and where we play. In turn I would have to notify the waiting parents and the team to ensure we could field a team. His last email said ‘I will let you know tonight’. How ominous those words were. I checked my email before I went to bed at 10:30, nothing. At 4 am I check again and he had notified us just before midnight that the game would be played today. It’s less than 15 hours before game time. I put the email out.
I make myself a cup of coffee in the hotel room. Hotel coffee is bad but at 4 am standing around in my underwear, it’ll do. I gather my running clothes together, lay out my work clothes for the day and pack the rest of my stuff into my suitcase and then head down to the car. As the alarm on my watch beeps telling me it’s 5 am I pull into the parking lot of Mill Wood Rec Centre, a local track that I find through Google Maps.
The Hanson brothers marathon program says that Tuesdays are for speed work. Unlike Higdon that says do this many intervals at this pace for this many sets, the Hansons are little more forgiving. There is a little more left to interpretation so long as the end result is a cumulative amount of miles. I like that!
I walk out to the track with my Ultimate Direction Access hydration belt which I dump off to the side. I shuffle into a warm up jog and as I round the backstretch I see kids in the adjacent skateboard park. It’s 5 am?! They are dressed very warmly and are riding around the park on their bikes. I get a bad feeling. I complete the first lap and stop to pick up my belt. On the second lap it seems I have attracted their attention. Two of them ride over and do wheelies and fish tale their bikes in my path. I am mildly irritated but don’t break stride. They can’t be more than 15 years old. I have a son that age.
They ride back to the skate park and start shouting and jeering. ‘Run Jackie Chan run!’ How original! Rednecks in the making! There are three of them. The one that didn’t come out for the ride along looks like he might be sleeping. Did they sleep out here? This is a residential area there is no malls, no restaurants, not even a gas station nearby. Were they street kids or just kids with no limitation parents?

I break out into interval pace. Without a steady training regime and mostly heart I soon find a comfortable groove. I am reluctant to glance down at the Garmin to see what my pace is or even my split at the 400 mark. Eyes straight ahead, focus. The first 800 is done in 3:35.
The kids have now attracted some attention from a city worker who looks after the park. A pick up truck with the City of Edmonton logo parks itself on the grass near the skate park. I feel a bit of relief as I know I’m not alone out here. My shoulders relax and my pace smoothes out. Second 800 done in 3:34.

I can’t hear anything but the kids occasional shouts of profanity. They keep circling the bowl of the skate park like sharks in the tank. The city worker drives away and I am alone once more. I remain focused on the task 4 x 800. Yasso 800s they are called. Named after Bart Yasso who discovered that training your speed in consistent 800 meter intervals equates to your finishing time in the marathon except minutes become hours and seconds become minutes. Third 800 in 3:31.

I used these 800s in my last training program, quite successfully I might add. I consistently trained at 3:30 for 800 meters and I ended up with a 3 hour and 29 minute PR. The guide I read said not to exceed 3 miles of intervals which would have been 6 repetitions but because of my recent lack of training I shoot for 4. I still feel good but at this point why should I push I’m still building not refining my pace. Defining not refining! The final 800 is complete in 3:29.

As I warm down I take notice of what is happening over at the skate park. The city worker has returned and a shouting match ensues. I casually walk back to my car as the kids mount their bikes and head off towards me. They ride right by and behind the Rec Center. A police cruiser pulls in. Show’s over!

I drive back to the hotel in a slight euphoria. I finished my speed workout unscathed. It’s just after 6 am and I have the whole day ahead of me. As I get in the elevator and the door is backed open by an older man. He’s dripping with sweat as he towels off, fresh from a few miles on the treadmill. “Great morning!” he says as the door closes.

“Yes, The best!”

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Fathers Day

In Thought of the Day on June 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Today is Day Zero? Day Zero of my marathon training plan. Zero is less than one of course, in most circles zero has no value. Today is Day Zero because it’s Fathers Day. As it turns out the marathon was a gift for Fathers Day from my wife. Inside the gift bag I opened this morning was a box of Clif Bars, two pairs of running socks, a couple of Clif Shots and the receipt from the marathon entry into the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon (bucket list).

I have being floundering in my running lately. Sporadic is an understatement. I am actually scared to look and the mileage I have racked up in the last 4 months. So what gives? Why such a fall from grace. The list is endless but I don’t want to make excuses, I am responsible for me.

So when I opened my gift this morning I was dumbfounded. I thanked my wife for such a gracious gift and immediately my mind began to calculate dates, times, paces, schedules, and plans. Fear and anxiety came and was quickly replaced by confidence and bravado. I can do this.

The day continued on. I made the family breakfast. We went to the store to buy some flowers. We went to the cemetery and paid our respects to my wife’s dad. Tidied the house and packed for my trip to Edmonton. All the while thinking, planning my next move. Hanson’s or Higdon? No time to run today.

Lacrosse at 3, the last game of the regular season. Thank God the end is near! Coaching, managing, scheduling, executive meetings have taken its toll. The game was a loss and created more problems then anticipated. We are seeded last heading into the playoffs.

Running has always been my solace. My fortress of solitude! I needed this and although I am a father, husband, volunteer firefighter, coach, podcaster, and part-time philosopher, nothing can replace what running gives me? It is intangible, unquantifiable. I love it and it loves me back, most days.

Thank you Jen for giving me the spark once more

Wisdom from a 90 year old

In Thought of the Day on February 27, 2012 at 1:20 am

Written by a 90 year old
This is something we should all read at least once a week!  Make sure you read to the end!

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio
“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short – enjoy it.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and Family will.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t Save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will This matter?’
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive but don’t forget.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d Grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.
42. The best is yet to come…
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

Hunting for Huntsville

In Thought of the Day on February 23, 2012 at 8:37 am

I remember family vacations as a kid. They left memories that I hold on to fondly to this day. I don’t know what it was, whether it was the fact the I got my father’s undivided attention when we went fishing off the dock or just the feeling of family unity as we did everything together. We ate together, fished together, and slept in a very cramped hotel room together. The Holiday Inn in Huntsville Ontario holds a warm spot in my heart. I’m sure it has changed a dozen times over since I was a kid but the memories are so forged in my mind that I could paint a picture of the hotel lobby, the walk down to the lake and the feeling of the prickly pine needles as we took that walk down to the lake. Some 40 years later and I am literally in the drivers seat, I have kids of my own and my wife and I are planning are own family vacation.

It’s a self serve world today. Everything is based on convenience and self indulgence. It would be so easy to pay the price and go to Disneyland or even Great Wolf Lodge (both of which we’ve done) but I want something different. Last year we rented a house in Pacific City, Oregon. I had an incredible time. I would hope my kids would say the same. Honestly, full disclosure, I think the best part was no WiFi! The house had no Internet connection so we were left to our own devices. We watched TV together because there was only one TV. We watched the owners collection of movies together, most of which I had seen twenty years before. There must have been a sale on ‘B’ movies at the local grocery store. We went crabbing. We flew kites. We went sand boarding. We did everything together.

So this year, the question is ‘how do I top that?’ The answer?! You don’t! I just chalked up a Huntsville Holiday Inn experience. My kids may not appreciate it now or maybe even ever. I’ve never reminisced with my brother and sister about our childhood vacations so I don’t know how it affected them. Those vacations were important to me, more now in retrospect. They were key bonding moments or at least I am brainwashed to believe it so. I am now hunting for another house in the same city as last year, around the same time of year. I am determined to find another Huntsville.

Running a Mile High

In Thought of the Day, Training on January 11, 2012 at 6:00 am

I was in Denver the other day. Business travel is a necessary evil for me. On the bright side I get to run in different places. On this trip I had planned to run inside on the treadmill, the dreadmill as I like to call it. Denver in the winter is supposed to be cold, snowy and just plain ugly. Imagine my surprise when the weather was sunny, no snow and in the low 50s. My business meeting ended early for the day giving me the opportunity to run the streets of Denver. But I had no Garmin! I purposely left it at home on the charger because I had planned a treadmill run. Could I actually run without it? Could I run naked? Or so it felt as I stepped out the door of the hotel.
Isn’t it strange how running without something you are so accustomed to, that has become so apart of your lifestyle can make make you feel naked without it? I haven’t run without a recording device like a Nike+ or a Garmin in such a long time, probably 4 years. This run would stretch my comfort zone as I would soon find out.
The run started out from the hotel and I took a quick left. The sun was beginning to set so the once balmy short sleeve temperatures were becoming a thing of the past. I crossed the road as sidewalks that see no direct sun still had the remnants of last Saturday’s snowfall. Running while traveling is both adventurous and scary especially for the directionally challenged like me. My plan was to run for 5 miles. Without a GPS I was going to have to estimate. After a right turn I ran for another 10 minutes I am guessing was a mile and another right turn. I was going to run a big square. So what I thought was around 2 miles I headed back for the hotel. Running along the side of a highway I felt like Dean Karnazes running for a purpose rather than the experience. Traffic roared by me and my thoughts were being drowned out by the tires on pavement rolling past me. I realized that the sun had now set and I was running in complete darkness on the edge of a highway. The temperature had now dropped to what I suspect was freezing when I heard a ding, my cellphone. It was telling me that the battery was now dead. Another bad decision and I took the on ramp to the Interstate instead of the off ramp back to the hotel. So there I was shorts, t-shirt, dead cellphone and running on the Interstate. How stupid is that. I could have turned around but by now the wind was starting to kick up and to face traffic would have been like running in a sand storm. I ran for another quarter mile to the next exit which would get me off I-70 and take me back to the hotel. By now my hands were freezing with an ache in my wrists, the early onset of hypothermia. I rounded the final corner with the driveway leading back to the hotel. I stopped the timer on my stopwatch and the time read 48:15. I’m guessing the run was about 5 miles and I could probably validate that on mapmyrun.com but I won’t. To me it felt like 5 and that’s good enough.
In hindsight the treadmill would have been the safer bet and probably more comfortable. But it’s not about comfort is it? It’s about living outside that comfort zone, running naked!