Friday, November 18, 2005

Boston Bound

Received my Boston Marathon registration confirmation yesterday - subject to verification of your time. Rather deliciously ominous overtones there I thought. And you better damn well not be lying I take is the hint...

Hugh and I are rooming together in Beantown and he has rather efficiently wrapped up our accomodations. In the heart of Boston initially and then switching rooms to be closer to the start line. Should be a fun five days. Still seems an awfully long ways away.

Running the Fall Classic Half Marathon on Sunday. Hoping to pace a running buddy to a PB sub-2:10. Then taking it easy until Las Vegas. Did a 32K last Friday followed up by a 20K on Sunday. Very easy pace and aside from the miserable rain on Friday, easy on the body. Sunday was beautiful. Weatherman calls for an uncharacteristically sunny November weekend. Oh joy!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Temper, Temper

It seems as if I have always had a temper. And by that I mean one that I lose on occasion, often explosively. Often to my profound regret.
It was a habit I didn't really have as a child or even as a teenager but one that developed as I grew out of my teens. I was a terror in my twenties, quite insufferable on a regular basis, even to myself. As I have aged, ie, grown old and more weary, I have mellowed somewhat, but am still surprised to find myself getting wound up for little or no apparent reason. And how un-self-aware is that? And when it begins to happen I find myself almost divorced from the process, like I am standing outside myself wondering what the hell I am doing, seemingly quite helpless to stop the escalation.

And I have never thought of myself as an overly angry person, although God knows I have a few issues. But when I have one of my fits I make everyone around me and myself in particular both miserable and uncomfortable. Some situations I have learned to avoid - traffic and rush hour being two - because I know that they will likely trigger me off but at other times it seems like my body has been taken over by aliens.

I finally had a Eureka! moment the other day when a friend observed that just prior to my "losing my temper" on one memorable occasion, I was increasingly anxious. I was on a deadline and events were conspiring all day long to push me further and further behind schedule. Now it is probably wise to insert at this point that I am something of a fanatic when it comes to punctuality. I mean, as in, down to seconds and minutes. Literally. I am not making this up. There should probably be a law against me wearing a watch.

I have probably had more temper tantrums in my life related to my being late or other people being late than any other single reason. And yes, of course watching the clock is all about the illusory sense of being in control of your life. It is a characteristic that is exceptionally difficult in personal relationships. There is no control and you have absolutely no control over the behavior and actions of others. I recognize this of course with a weary sense of doom. Up until the present, all the preceding has had a Kafkaesque air of a self-fulfilling prophesy, in particular when it comes to my relationships with women because it is another immutable law of the Universe that the more physically attractive a women is, the greater the likelihood that she will be late and keep you waiting....

I think Eistein noted this very fact just before he published E=MC2, which of course got all the press at the time.

(I do have to insert this note - being punctual also has to do with respecting your time and the time of others, but I digress)

As I recalled all the events that led up to and triggered me losing control of my composure on the day in question, I realized that what I was experiencing was more on the order of an anxiety attack than an expression of ill-temper, although I certainly sounded and acted like an asshole. And as I was throwing my little fit of pique I was powerless to divert it.

My friends comment about my anxiety was revelatory because I was very anxious child. I worried at home, I worried at school, in short I worried about EVERYTHING. I used to worry so much that I had terrible stomach cramps that left me unable to move. My situation at home was somewhat volatile in that I never knew, moment to moment, what the mood might be and as the eldest I was going to bear the brunt of any parental storm front. At school I was usually the newest kid on the block as we moved quite often when I was young, every few years, and I was physically on the small side. My greatest single memory of my childhood is that I lived in a perpetual state of uncertainty. I spent a lot of time worrrying about what was going to happen next...

Why all this psycho-babble in a fucking running blog you might ask, for Christsake!?! Good point. The thing about my running is that it is one of the few moments when I am not anxious. When I race or run on my own I am curiously content. Being a pace group leader has moments where I worry about the effects of the behavior of others on the group, my own included, but for the most part I am free of getting wound up. And trust me, I am endlessly tired of feeling increasingly compressed like an over-tightened watch spring until the moment when I come all undone. There does come a time when you and the others in your life get tired of watching you clean up in the aftermath of a natural disaster. It is exhausting work.

Control is of course an illusory state. The natural state of the universe is one of entropy, a gradual and inevitable decay into chaos. The great appeal of the marathon to me is a gut-level sense and aknowledgement that I can do all the training in the world and in the end, the results are pretty much out of my hands. I can do the best I can, prepare myself to the best of my ability but on the day of the race, whatever is going to happen is going to happen. To someone who goes around worrying all the time without even really being aware of it, that is oddly reassuring.

Who knows, if I run enough marathons, I may even begin to behave in a civilized manner...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Long Road to Breakfast

Twenty-eight days after qualifying for Boston, I did my first "long" run. And by that I mean longer than 10K, as this past Sunday, in preparation for the Las Vegas Marathon, and feeling that it was time to get back into running mode, I went out with a small group and did a very easy 29K (18 miles) in about three and a half hours. My average heart rate for the run was 116 and that was about as much as my hamstrings wanted to handle. It was worth the run just to justify the French Toast and bacon at the end.

This coming weekend should prove interesting as on Friday, November 11 - Remembrance Day being a national holiday and all - the same group is going out for 32K (20 miles) and then on Sunday, Hugh and I are going out for a 20K jaunt. Still taking it easy during the week. Doing shorter, 6-8K runs at a little higher intensity.

Other than Boston next April, I have no idea what next year holds running-wise, so I am starting to plan my running calendar for 2006. I would love to do the Medoc Marathon in the south of France with Seymour next September. Have also been seriously considering doing an Ironman or maybe a 100 mile ultramarathon....

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

On the Road Again

Sunday I had my first hard run since the Okanagan Marathon on October 9th. I went out with my good friend, Michael for what was supposed to be a sociable 5.9 mile race, the James Cunningham Seawall Race, in say... around 48 minutes. Hah!

Michael has had a frustrating year, and having had a few of those I can certainly empathise. He ran a 3:26 - in his first marathon - in Vancouver this May and had hoped to BQ in Kelowna. He needed a 3:10 and he certainly has one in him. But after Vancouver Michael was plagued with bad luck, running injuries and a mountain-biking crash, all that left him unable to train for long periods of time. Before he knew it, it was the middle of the summer with the fall marathon season fast approaching. Michael never was able to get the big mileage in that is so necessary for a solid aerobic base, but that certainly wasn't going to stop him from making the effort. He was on pace in Kelowna for the first 20K and then was hit with brutal cramps. Hugh and I passed him around 35K and he was limping along like the paratrooper he once was. He ended up being ten minutes slower than his first marathon, but it was an amazing feat given the actual amount of training he'd been able to do. Of course, Michael, much like someone else we know, tends to overlook such details and I know that all he is thinking about these days is running a 3:10 and BQing.

At first we kind of kept to our plan. We did the first mile in 8 minutes flat. Right on marathon pace. However, Mr. Loer was chomping at the bit. I tried to keep Michael in check for the first 8K and then pretty much gave up. He just wanted to run and forget about Kelowna and forget about Boston and forget about a 3:10.

I tried my best to tuck in behind him, nagging him every few hundred meters about how we'd feel the next day. I forgot my chest band for my Polar heart rate monitor so I had to judge my effort by my breathing, which was pretty comfortable. I felt great. And was very conscious of not wanting to get carried away. When you're out with a race horse sometimes you just get dragged along. With a little less than 2K left, Michael and I made for the finish line.

I was shocked to see the Race Clock at no more than 43:30 and my actual chip time was 43:26, for an average mile pace of 7:30. Which just happens to be the pace for a 3:10... Hhmmnnn, Michael!

I am so looking forward to Las Vegas and some sunshine. Here in Vancouver it has been raining steadily. Grey skies, grey clouds and an endless downpour for days on end. You go to work in the dark, come home in the dark and run in the dark. Thank God for Sunday mornings.

I remember why I don't like running in the winter... Cold, wet feet... Fun, fun, fun!