Monday, June 22, 2009

Who Do I Run For?

On this week's Open Mike Episode of the podcast, The Runner’s Roundtable, listeners are being asked to call in with their answers to the question “Who do you run for?”. This got me to thinking.  Do I run for anyone? After giving it some thought the first person who came to mind was me. Not just me, but different versions of me.

I run for my present-day self because, quite simply, running makes me a happier person.

Me (work photo) looking pretty happy I think

I run for my younger, less-empowered self because I now know I can do things I never thought I could do if I work hard and believe in myself.
Me, age 3
Finally, I run for my future, older self because I won’t be able to run forever and I want to make the most of the time I have left. That’s a big one.
Me and my 92-year-old Grandma
As I processed this profound information I also realized that I actually run for a few more people. I run for those of you out there in the universe who are watching me. You follow me on Twitter and you read my blog and I know if I stopped running you’d notice.

I also run for my dog, Fred, who passed away in March. He can’t run and I can. I’m even raising money in his memory by running a Half-Marathon later this week for the SPCA.

And last, but not least, I run for my friends and family. Those people whose lives have been improved a little bit by having a happier version of me around, the most notable being...

...Ian Dad sister Mom
Believe it or not, I can be a bit of a handful at times and I think most of my loved one’s would agree I’m more pleasant to be around now that I’m a runner.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cross-Training: Flower Power

A couple of months ago when I joined Team Point Two, my marathon advisor, John Ellis instructed me to "start cross-training". He suggested swimming, biking, or even rowing as good ways to excercise while resting my running muscles.
My bicycle, in front of some dumpsters, in front of my building
LUCKILY, around this time last year I purchased a used bike from Spokes Bicycle Rentals. In its former life my ride had been rented hourly by sightseeing tourists. I paid $225 cash for it and then tricked it out with a black metal mesh basket.....
....some flashy safety lights..... ....and a titanium bike lock that came with about 12 keys. I also bought a bottom of the line helmet to protect my noggin.
As you can see, my bicycle is pink and purple with some pink flowers on it....
I know, it just screams "Bad Ass" doesn't it? People see me coming and they scurry. To be honest, I'm not really a huge fan of purple, but the price was right and it fits. It has 6 gears, but only 5 of them work. The rubber grips are disintegrating and sliding off the ends of the handlebars .
These handlebars are also very wide and ungainly, which makes getting the bike in and out of my apartment building a bit of an exercise, especially since there are 5 sets of doors between the storage locker and the sidewalk. And here's proof:

My bike in jail (Door No. 1)

The elevator ride (Doors No. 2 & 3)
I still haven't decided whether its easier to back the bike into the elevator or back it out.
Front door (No. 4)
Front Gate (No. 5)
The point is, I bought this bicycle primarily to get around downtown - not to impress people. You know those places that are too close to drive to and too far to walk when you're in a hurry? I bought my oversized, run-down, garish used bike so I could lock it up outside and not worry about it being stolen.
Some asshole stole the last bike I owned 12 years ago, and I still feel traumatized by the experience. It was a candy-apple red Rocky Mountain with grey tires and I'd ridden it in my first (and only) triathlon. I usually try not to get attached to things, but I was very fond of that bike and was pretty sad and pissed off when it was taken.
Anyway, back to the cross training. The main thing I'm doing these days, outside of running, is swimming. There are 3 pools within about a 20 minute bike ride from my house, two of which are outdoor. So, I ride my jalopy of a bicycle to and from the various pools, where I lock it up and swim lengths. I log my bike riding time on Buckeye Outdoors just like any other workout, even though I can't really go fast enough to work up a sweat.
I might train for a triathlon again sometime, and I imagine I'll want to invest in a slightly more serious bicycle. Until then, I'll keep riding the cumbersome pink flower bike to the pool, the really good video store, the best pizza place in town, the big movie theatre, and my Grandma's house.
This Week's Mileage: Planned: 35 miles / 56.3 km Actual: 24.06 miles / 38.72 km
Reasons: Low blood sugar crisis on Thursday, ongoing lethargy the rest of the week, maybe I had a virus or something. Runs definitely felt harder than usual.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Race Report: Sandcastle Classic 10K

The Sandcastle City Classic 10K took place in the lovely seaside community of White Rock, BC, which happens to be where I grew up. It is located right on the USA-Canada border, directly north of Blaine, Washington.
There was some chaos and confusion on race day. Tina had completely forgot to pick-up my race package as promised on Friday night so we had to head to the finish area to get my bib a bit early. Also, somehow in my early morning stupor, I managed to forget my watch and iPod. So, I made Tina drive back to her house to find all my stuff and a T-shirt, since I'd decided the sleeveless top I was wearing would be too cold. By the way, the sun came out later and I regretted this decision.

Package pick-up in Bayside Park on White Rock Beach

Shuttle buses ready to take runners up to the start line

Charismatic race director

The race was scheduled to start at 9am, but at around 8:40 the race director announced that the start would be delayed by 10 minutes or so because one of the buses broke down. Lucky for us, since my Dad was about 25 minutes away!

Some much-needed dog love at the starting line

Getting focused and waiting for the whistle.

I was never able to find a course profile on the race website. The only thing I read about the race that stuck in my head was the long downhill stretch before the finish. So, I was a little bit surprised when about 400m into the run I found myself running up a big mother of a hill. As it turned out, there were many more moments like this throughout the race, each one as surprising as the last.

Shouting "Number One!" at my curb crew at around the halfway mark

This display of confidence was only for the benefit of my Dad and sister. By the 5K mark I knew my unrealistic goal of 50 minutes was out of reach, and so was a PR. Some of the hills were so big I had to take walk breaks.

Sprint finish

Instead of hauling ass down the last hill to the finish line, I decided to coast and save some energy for a sprint finish. There wasn't anyone to see me run fast down the hill anyway.

Catching my breath and looking back at the clock, which read 55:19

Mmm...tasty watermelon

My Mom, Tina, and me chowing down

My Mom was good enough to make the 45 minute drive from downtown Vancouver to come and cheer. She also brought me a bottle of red wine as a reward for finishing, which I decided to save for later.

My Dad, Tina, and I decided to stick around to see if I won a door prize. As usual, I didn't win anything. We also watched all of the awards, which was interesting. Again, I didn't win anything. BUT, I was very keen to see who did win my age group. My Dad wanted to see what the 64-59 age groupers looked like. We all agreed that all of the winners looked younger than their ages. The top 3 women in my age group had no body fat. Bitches. Just kidding, haha.

My Dad & official photographer and me

Even though I was thoroughly disappointed with my time, it was still a pretty fun day. The course is quite scenic and finishing on a downhill at the beach is a huge bonus. It was a good excuse to get my Dad over to the mainland from Vancouver Island and we spent a nice afternoon together.

A little tip: Don't expect to set a PR at the Sandcastle Classic, unless you're a hill specialist.

Official Results:

Final Place: 150/ 296

Place in Sex: 54/149

Place in Division: 14/30

Official Gun Time: 55:20

Pace/KM: 5:32

This Week's Mileage:

Planned: 30 miles / 48.3 km

Actual: 27.72 miles / 44.6 km

(Excuses: Hot weather, poor air quality, and pre-race rest days)