Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine's Day Special

Sunday morning is a good time to count your blessings. For instance, sometimes you have to be grateful for the fact that the Weatherman, like the rest of us mere mortals, is imperfect. The Weatherman had been calling for rain, and lots of it, on Sunday morning. As of this Monday, we are still waiting...

Yesterday dawned clear and crisp, nary a cloud in sight, and my feet crunched through panes of ice covering the puddles on the way to my car behind my apartment. It was hovering around the freezing point when we went out for our Sunday run and as I had laid out all my clothes the night before, thinking it was going to rain, I had three layers on, a long-sleeve shirt, a vest and my rain jacket. Bless the folks who invented running tights. Because the sun was shining, I left my hat in the car but kept my gloves, a decision I was later grateful for when crossing the Lion's Gate Bridge with a 25 knot breeze cutting across English Bay.

You couldn't really ask for nicer weather to run in yesterday. With the sun shining it doesn't much matter how cold it it - I understand all those mid-westerners who are scoffing now - but here on the West Coast we'll do just about anything to bask in the rays. And within fifteen or twenty minutes you're generally toasty enough not to mind the wind or the temperature.

Our route took us through the woods of Stanley Park, where shafts of early morning light beaming through the trees brought to mind images of light coming through leaded windows in a Cathedral. We then took the Lion's Gate Bridge and looped around the waterfront in West Vancouver before heading home. The conversation was constant, when the wind coming off the water wasn't whisking our words away, and once the wind was at our back - well, we were as happy as clams.

After finishing our 23K route, over which there was some confusion as to exact distance, I went out to do my add-on, and spent another hour meandering around Stanley Park, my exact route dictated by running from patch of sunlight to patch of sunlight. At the end of the day I had run 21.8 miles/35 kilometres in a little over three and a half hours. As I finished I couldn't help but think that I was hoping that I'd be crossing the finish line in Kelowna this fall at about the same time. By this time we were famished and headed out for breakfast.

I don't know what it was, but no one was in a great hurry yesterday. After grazing through a plate of French toast drowned in maple syrup and snacking on some scrambled eggs and bacon, we lingered over coffee. I was as hungry as a wolf, and like a whiskey-jack skirting around a campfire, I scarfed up the odds and ends of toast that got left behind. Although Seymour, who was sitting beside me, defended his scraps a little more vigorously than I thought was entirely necessary, with his fork at the ready... There should probably be sign in the restaurant, "Don't Feed the Animals". Being the day before Valentine's Day, the conversation turned to what people had planned for the year's pinnacle of romance. I soon discovered why no one at breakfast was in a particular hurry to go anywhere! And why St. Valentine was shot full of arrows.

Turned out that with the exception of a couple of married members, most of the runners gathered around the breakfast table were single. And I mean really single. I was kind of shocked to discover that all these fit, attractive, talented, well-educated, motivated and successful people I ran with, were single. Of course, in hindsight, it certainly explains the amount of time they have to devote to training for multiple marathons! But my Gawd!, these people, especially the women (I am a man, after all) struck me as being ideal partners. Within minutes, every single person at the table was recounting horror stories of dating in Vancouver. I was shocked to learn that one woman, who, trust me on this, would turn heads in any room, confessed to not having had a date in over a year. And why, inquiring minds wanted to know? Because she had been stood up four times in a row! It almost made me lose faith in my gender.

The women at the table kevetched about how difficult it was to meet men and the men whined about how difficult it was to meet women. I was stunned. I mean, these people are some of the most accomplished folks I know. Out of a dozen people I was sitting with, there was a real smorgasbord, an engineer, a chemist, a lawyer, an accountant, and an assortment of professionals. I was the lone deadbeat at the table! The romantic confessions that took place next had us all in stitches. I now have a sneaking suspicion that the world of endurance runners is well-populated with individuals whose single-minded pursuit of marathon excellence is the result of successfully channeling all their sexual frustration into their long runs!

Time to go home and alternate between hot and cold showers...

And here is my Valentine Heart to all of you - the following links will allow you to calculate your MAX VO2 without having to jump on a treadmill. And it will tell you just how good your hearts are, which I am sure is very good.


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