Friday, March 31, 2006

Pressure? What Pressure

I get one little blurb in some obscure column and all of a sudden I am supposed to be bringing my "A" game? No pressure there. Did five one mile repeats last night at 7:20, a pace that was so easy, despite my incredible muscle stiffness and soreness that it kind of threw me for a loop. I was well below my lactate threshold. Then I realized that my average pace in the Pacific Coast Runners First Half Half Marathon was 7:11. Now I am just getting worried! I want so badly to do well in Boston and not yet blow up... Have never been this sore before a marathon. A troubling fact given that I would like to take some time off, but I have piles of working piling up or is that stacks od work piling up, or oodles??? Jiust lots and lots of work. My writing has fallen behind - I get up at six am and answer a hundred e-mails. Work 8, 10, 12 hours. Hard work. Run a few hours. Come home and answer some more mail and try to put together another documentary and keep my web site and Blog afloat. And I want to do the Ironman next year. I am fucking certifiably insane. My weight is stuck at 178-179 and I think I am getting leaner, although people are calling me gaunt and anorexix. (sp?) Steve came through with an amazing pair of running flats. I digress, I will never even get close to 170 for Boston. Big psychlogical barrier there. It's a real head fuck when half the people you know say you never looked better and the other half express deep concerns about your health and well-being. Can you tell by the stream of consciousness Blog that I am a little tired.... Maybe mentally exhausted is a more apt way to put it... I WANT THIS BOSTON THING OVER WITH! And I want to enjoy myself, and the time with friends old and new, and the course and all the rest. An impossibility? We will soon find out!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I Yams What I Yams...

I am an old, cranky, miserable, demanding, infuriating man.

I recognize this about myself. Know it like I know my face in the mirror.

But almost never until AFTER the fact.

Hence, all of the above!

Having confessed to said behavior, I am somewhat compelled to share the following Marathon Clinic discussion as presented by one - the esteemed - Dr. Hepplethwaite.


Symptoms of Overtraining

Indicators of overtraining taken from the Lore of Running, Tim Noakes, MD

Emotional/Behavioral Changes:

Generalized fatigue

Loss of enthusiasm and drive; generalized apathy; an “I don’t care” attitude; loss of the joy of life

Loss of joy and thirst for competition; desire to quit during competition

Lethargy; listlessness; tiredness

Peevishness; complaining; easily irritated; miserable; anxious; depressed; ill-humored; unable to relax; bored

Inability to concentrate at work; impaired academic performance

Inability to relax

Changes in sleep patterns, insomnia

Sleep does not refresh

Loss of appetite

Loss of libido

Poor coordination, clumsiness

Increased fluid intake at night, feeling thirsty

Physical changes:

Impaired physical performance, race performances continue to deteriorate

Inability to complete routine training sessions

Gradual weight loss

Recurrent headaches

Drawn, sallow, and dejected with sunken eyeballs

Increase in resting heart rate more than five beats per minute (taken in bed, first thing, before you get up)

Abnormal rise in heart rate upon standing, and during and after a standard workout

Slower recovery in heart rate after exertion

Postural hypotension

Heavy-leggedness, sluggishness that persists for more than 24 hours after a workout

Muscle and joint pain

Persistent muscle soreness increases from session to session

Swelling of lymph nodes

GI disturbances

Increased susceptibility to infection, allergies, headaches, and injury

Increased healing time


Physiological Causes of Overtraining

Muscle damage from eccentric loading and fuel depletion

Reduced ability of the motor centers of the brain to recruit muscle fibers

Adrenal gland burnout

Exhaustion of the hypothalamus/pituitary gland - Reduced sympathetic nervous system activity

Prevention of Overtraining


Balance of Stress and Recovery/Adaptation

Preventing Overtraining = Decreasing Stress + Increasing Recovery

Decrease Stress

Decrease mileage

Decrease intensity ***slow down on Sunday!!!***

Substitute running with cross training activities eg. Biking, cross country skiing, swimming

Decrease monotonous training - alternate hard days (high intensity) with easy days (low intensity), make sure you are training in different zones not at the same exertion/speed each day

Don’t do too many races

Minimize non-training types of stress – physical, chemical, emotional


Active nutrition – drinking adequate water, electrolytes and simple carbohydrates (eg gels) during activity

Increase recovery

Active Recovery – walk or slow jog at the end of all runs for a minimum of 2 minutes, recovery runs on days off (60-70% max HR)


Restorative activities – yoga, stretching, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, meditation, breathing, etc

Nutrition – eat whole foods, 70/30 carbohydrate/protein recovery meal ASAP after exercise (no longer than 30 min after ex), check iron levels, multivitamin, essential fatty acids

Recovery showers/baths – start with hot and finish with cold, hot is 3X longer than cold, contrast at least 3X

Body rolling/self massage – distal to proximal, superficial to deep, causes increased circulation, flush waste products, decrease adhesions, realign muscle fibers to promote proper healing, relaxation

Stretching, Leg elevation

Make sure you are hydrated – 3L water/daily

Other ways to prevent overtraining:

Don’t self medicate

Don’t increase caffeine intake

Keep up with your journal including distance, time, speed, heart rate, perceived exertion, how you felt during the workout and the day, quality of sleep, fatigue, other stresses, nutritional intake

Warm up and cool down

Treating Overtraining

Once the symptoms of overtraining are present, it typically takes athletes 5-12 weeks to recover. Recovery weeks consist of increased rest, decreased – no training and no chance of racing!

Muscle soreness:
No discomfort - Continue training
Some discomfort on feeling muscle - Reduce training for 7 days
Discomfort on walking - Reduce training for 14 days
Unable to squat without discomfort, Severe pain, walking with difficulty
- Reduce training for 1 month

Check in with your intentions:
Why are you running a marathon?
What are your goals?
Are your goals and intentions realistic and healthy?

If you feel like you are overtraining, rest until you have the internal desire to run again, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND YOUR MIND!


Lore of Running, 4th ed. Noakes, T. Human Kinetics. 2004.

Runner’s World Guide to Cross-Training. Fitzgerald, M. Holtzbrinck Publishers. 2004.

Textbook of Medical Physiology, 11th ed. Guyton, AC. & Hall, JE. Saunders & Elsevier. 2005.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Tiny Measure of Fame - Still No Fortune...

My Blog just got a very nice little plug in a Boston area newspaper.

The article is not just about marathon Blogs per se, but apparently was a search for "good Blogs" in general. Somehow I still managed to slip through... Here are the highlights.

Vince "Boston or Bust" Hemingson

Blumenau: Visit to Blogworld By Kurt Blumenau/ Surf’s Up Sunday, March 26, 2006

A few months ago, a reader asked us to write a column about blogs. Like so many of us, he wanted to read some good ones but didn’t want to spend hours searching for them. We told him we liked the idea -- and wouldn’t you know, then we went and forgot about it.

Until now. We’ve been surfing in Blogworld, and brought back some worthwhile links for our friend -- and anyone else who might be interested. So check ’em out: -- Speaking of athletic training, as we were a moment ago, the Boston Marathon is just around the corner. Bloggers all over the Net are using their blogs to chronicle their preparation for the big race. They include Vince Hemingson, who earned his Boston qualifying time in a Canadian marathon last fall. Hemingson’s blog has been pretty good over the past year, but it really ought to get interesting over the next three weeks or so.

Etc... sure they mention some other Blogs, but all we really care about is mine, right? Actually some of the other Blogs are AMAZING, and it's an honour to be mentioned in the same company. (yes, as a matter of fact I was watching the Academy Awards Ceremony last month...)

Friday, March 24, 2006

On the Ropes in the Fifteenth Round

Boxing, as in the fights, actually used to go fifteen rounds in Championship bouts.

Yesterday I went sixteen hours, after a twelve hour day followed by a couple of fourteen hour days.

Oh yeah, followed by those thirty or so miles (50K) on the weekend.

I am just trying to survive at this point, stay on my feet, trying not to fall off the top of the ladder and make it to the weekend.

And my chief back-fixer-upper has had to leave town on a little family emergency....

All this on what I blythly (is there an "e" somewhere in blythely?) thought would be a down and dirty little three day job...

Vince, you poor, poor demented (or is that delude, My Gawd, I'm punchy right now...) fool...

Missed two marathon training runs this week. Not a bad idea at my current level of tiredness. Not much point in flogging a dead horse.

Back to work - after five hours of sleep. Thank God it is Friday...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fighting Fatigue

Ahhh, the last lovely days of a marathon training cycle leading up to the taper...

All I feel today is fatigue. Of course after doing 50K (30 miles) or so on the weekend, Monday should have been a rest day.

Instead I scurried up and down a ladder like a mad squirrel. From dawn til dusk. Or was that Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney? Just a little nuts... (that's squirrel humour by the way). And by early evening, with the light fading too much to see what my hand was doing in front of my face, my knees ached with every rung, plus or minus. No, not the knees!

Tonight is the tempo run. Will be interesting to see what speed I have, at what heart rate. And apparently the talk tonight is on over-training! Joy and bliss.

All in all, it's been a pretty good cycle. Still not quite sure what to make of the back, but I'm Boston-bound come hell or highwater.

Will log off now before Bill Gates and AOL screw me over with another system crash...

Au revoir, mes amis!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Listen to Your Heart...

Listen to Your Heart...

Opera, Cabaret & All That Jazz

Directed by Heidi Klassen May 14th, 2006 at 7:30pm Canadian Memorial United Church

(Corner of West 15th Ave and Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC)

Adults: $30
Senior & Students: $25

Celebrate Mother’s Day in style!

Join The Opera Project and Friends for a memorable day of multi-disciplinary artistic expression. While the singers perform, visual artists, painters and others will draw their inspiration from the sights and sounds that surround them.

The Opera Project is a non-profit organization with the intention of creating opportunities for singers to get the much needed experience on the stage required to pursue a professional career.Our last concert of this season is called Opera, Cabaret & All That Jazz and is an "Art Expression" concert that will combine not only opera, but jazz, pop, dance and hopefully visual art as well.

The date is May 14th which is Mother's Day so we are aiming for a women's theme in general.My thought was that we could have a few artists at the concert who could display their works at the venue. In addition, if you were up to it, I would like to have some 'art in motion' so to speak; ideally someone who could create a piece of work on the fly (i.e. during the concert) that we could give away as a door prize at the end of the concert.

The idea is that we collect address/contact information in exchange for the door prize.

This is a fundraising event for us in hopes to generate some revenue to cover the costs of our earlier concerts/operas. That said we are looking for people who will donate their time and energy in exchange for the opportunity to display works to a new audience. Other things we can offer to reciprocate are:- your name on the playbill advertising- reciprocal link on our website.

We are being professionally marketed by Bridge Communications and we hope to see a full house (approx 400 seats).

You can read more about us at

If you have any questions or would like to pursue this opportunity further you can reach me via email or phone.

Best regards,Natalie Burdeny,
President, The Opera Project

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Counting Down...

Did somewhere in the neighbourhood of 42K today in a little under five hours. Legs felt good after the Saturday 5K St. Patrick's Day Dash race. Also consumed a case of Guiness - for the vitamins - and a large pizza - for the carbs shortly after the race...

A very good friend then had a fortieth birthday party Saturday night and I had some more red wine and a HUGE piece of chocolate cake (and went back for seconds). Thanks, Nick! And Michelle!

Finished 33rd out of 230 plus in the St. Patrick's Day 5K in 22:09 (net time 22:03) on Saturday.

Except for my foolish - in the words of Justin Callison - "freight-train" finish - I was comfortably within myself for the first 2/3rds of the race.

My chart yesterday was strange one... as you can see. I did a three hundred metre interval at the finish...

Was really disappointed to hear that on the one of the final turns along the Stanley Park Seawall that as Sukhi and Gerry, two absolutely superb runners in our Personal Best Clinic, were battling it out for supremacy in the final kilometre, that one of the other TOP TEN finishers cut INSIDE one of the corners, off the pavement and up onto the grass and INSIDE TWO TREES no less, and clipped over twenty metres and maybe even thirty meters off the length of the course.

Where I come from we have a name for this behavior. We call this cheating. The runner who did this is a CHEAT. For a Top Ten Finisher, this is appalling behavior and a terrible example to set. You know who you are. You should be ashamed of yourself.

If you don't offer an apology to all the runners who actually ran the full course I am going to out you in public.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Burn, Baby, Burn

Posted by Picasa

As you can see, I started out too fast. But I ran with my buddy Justin in the vain hope of being semi-disciplined. Relax, relax, relax I urged. take it easy. I was hung-over from a St. Patrick's Day party/Birthday Party the night before....I pegged my maximum heart rate at my lactate threshold for several Ks, the low 160's. But damn I felt great after three K's. Breath was easy, legs were lose, all the muscle fatigue from the week before seemed to have disappeared.... Still, I kept to the plan.

But then I got passed by several people who had NO business passing me - my estimation only of course - and I slowly began picking up the pace. Especially when they lagged on a couple of Hills, with laboured breathing and crumbling form.... With about 500 metres to go I judged that a quick surge for the last three hundred metres would bring them all back to me, and God knows I need to practise my surges for Boston....

So, refering to the above graph, the rather bizarre sprint to the finish at the end. I think that is quite the spike folks. A giant erection to my ego. Only a Vince.

The Scorpion...

Ran a St. Patrick's Day 5K in 22:09 this morning. Steve, the Coach of the Personal Best Clinic had told me to stay out of my top gear.

He felt that my best long-term strategy was to run the race as a Tempo Run and save my best - what there is of it - for Boston. His reasoning was that after a 1:34:07 Half Marathon less than a month ago, I had nothing left to prove to myself and too many opportunities to fuck things up for myself...

I lasted with Steve's strategy for about fifteen minutes. A scorpion will always be a scorpion....

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Long runs. Long work days. Long face.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sunday, Sunday, Sunshine...

It was the Sunday long run after a miserable cold wet week. What a transformation a day can make.

The sun shone for four and a half glorious hours on a spectacular Vancouver Sunday spring day... The weather and scenery just made you want to burst into song. The buds were budding, the flowers flowering, the runners running. It was all good.

So, with sunshine on my mind I went to to look for song lyrics featuring "sunshine"...

You know me, short on words and all...

I was astonished. You have to see the breadth and variety of artists who have sung about "sunshine" to believe it.

I had a blast! Heard stuff I'd almost forgotten. Heard amazing new artists I never knew existed...

Aerosmith - Just Push PlaySunshine

Alice Donut - Donut Comes AliveSunshine Superman

Aly & Aj - Into the RushWalking On Sunshine

Aqua - AquariumGood Morning Sunshine

Aqualung - Strange and Beautiful Brighter Than Sunshine

Arrested Development - ZingalamaduniIn The Sunshine

Babyface - Tender LoverSunshine

Beatles - RevolverGood Day Sunshine (lennon/mccartney)

Beck - Mellow GoldSweet Sunshine

Bill Withers - Greatest HitsAin't no Sunshine

Bryan Ferry - Another Time, Another PlaceYou Are My Sunshine

Chicago - Chicago IiWake Up Sunshine

Cream - Disraeli GearsSunshine Of Your Love

Devotion - Image Of DevotionSunshine

Dolly Parton - unknownWe'll Sing In The Sunshine

Earth Wind And Fire - GratitudeSunshine

Electric Light Orchestra - unknownSunshine Help Me

Eric Clapton - Cream OfSunshine Of Your Love

Faith Hill - FirefliesSunshine & Summertime

Faith No More - Angel DustLand Of Sunshine

Frank Sinatra - Main EventYou Are The Sunshine Of My Life

Frank Sinatra - Selection Of Frank Sinatra 2Sunshine Of Your Smile, The

Fury In The Slaughterhouse - The Hearing & The Sense Of BalanceDancing In The Sunshine Of The Dark

Gabrielle - RiseSunshine

George Harrison - unknownSunshine Life For Me (sail Away Raymond)

George Michael - unknownA Ray Of Sunshine

Goo Goo Dolls - Goo Goo DollsSunshine Of Your Love

Grateful Dead - Wake Of The FloodHere Comes Sunshine

Happy Mondays - Yes, PleaseSunshine And Love

James Taylor - James TaylorSunshine Sunshine

Jennifer Lopez - J.loWalking On Sunshine

Jewel - unknownSunshine Superman

Jimmy Nail - Growing Up In PublicWaiting For The Sunshine

John Denver - Best Of John DenverSunshine On My Shoulders

John Waite - Temple BarAin't No Sunshine

Ozzy Osbourne - Under CoverSunshine Of Your Love

Paul McCartney - Driving RainBack In The Sunshine Again

Perry Como - PerryWeave Me The Sunshine

Perry Como - SeattleSunshine Wine

Peter, Paul & Mary - No Easy Walk To FreedomWeave Me The Sunshine

Posies - Dear 23Flood Of Sunshine

Prince - Sign 'o' The TimesPlay In The Sunshine

Proclaimers, The - Sunshine On LeithSunshine On Leith

Reamonn - Beautiful SkyA Little Bit Of Sunshine

Paul McCartney - UnpluggedAin't No Sunshine

Reamonn - Beautiful SkySunshine Baby

Renaissance, The - TuscanyIn The Sunshine

Rob Zombie - unknownBlack Sunshine

Roy Orbison - unknownCalifornia Sunshine Woman

Semisonic - All About ChemistrySunshine And Chocolate

Stevie Wonder - Talking BookYou Are The Sunshine Of My Life

Stevie Wonder - Where I'm Coming FromSunshine In Their Eyes

Sting & Police - Acoustic Live In NewcastleAin't No Sunshine

Sting & Police - unknownTake Me To The Sunshine

Supremes, The - FarewellAquarius /let The Sunshine In

Switchfoot - Nothing is SoundThe Shadow Proves The Sunshine

The Trews - Den of ThievesMakin' Sunshine

Tom Tom Club - Dark Sneak Love ActionSunshine And Ecstasy

Townes Van Zandt - The Late Great Townes Van ZandtDon't Let The Sunshine Fool Ya' (guy Clark)

Uriah Heep - Sweet FreedomSunshine

Wham! - FantasticA Ray Of Sunshine

If you really want your mind widened, try looking for "sunny"!!!!!!!!

And if you want to "get crazy", try looking up all the songs with the lyrics "running" in them...

May have to be a seperate Blog!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Need New Spark Plugs

Posted by Picasa
The weather has been cold, wet and miserable here this week. How miserable you ask? Multiple layers of workout gear and you still finish sopping wet, soaked through to the skin, driving rain that comes in at you sideways and all of it just a few degrees above freezing. Snow on all the local hills. I drove through snow, hail and sleet yesterday.

The day before the Personal Best Clinic I quarterbacked the Marathon Clinic's Hill workout, but I was so cold standing around that I threw in four or five hills for the Hell of it. And not properly warmed up of course. What a horse's ass.... I woke up stiff.

Last night was 4 x 400, 2 x 800 and 4 x 400. After fifteen minutes, I was done. I had speed but no bounce and no sustainability, especially in the 800s. I just couldn't seem to find the groove I can normally settle in to. Where was my "float" I wanted to cry out! My speed was all over the road like shit from a mad woman's ass. Up and down, and all over the map.

You can see from my Polar chart that I wasn't recovering much between the later intervals. Some tall skinny freakishly bony bald Boston-bound bastard made a crack about my needing to lose another twenty pounds to get faster after poking me in the ribs and I managed not to end up in jail on a murder charge. And that bald bony Boston-bound bastard? Probably a sub-three in Beantown... Doesn't life just kill you some days...

Rolling Along...

Posted by Picasa Just another Tuesday tempo run. Went out a little easier. Had Hugh to keep me sensible. Just 8K at 80% of my Maximum Heart Rate. Lactate Threshold, Lactate Threshold, Lactate Threshold... Then I went and had birthday cake and red wine and pasta with Seymour and company. A good night!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

One of Life's Magic Moments

Posted by Picasa This would be a Quick-Time clip if I wasn't a tecnological Luddite...

The Cake Never Lies

Posted by Picasa All the incriminating evidence from Seymour's birthday.

Special thanks to Jackie, Luisa, Hugh and Anne for putting up with me and actually making the birthday bash get pulled off.

Two dozen fool-hardy souls made it a night to remember. Thank you for being there.

Thanks to Justin and Patrick for the photos that we will ALL never live down.

And especially thanks to Mario and the Staff at Ciao Bella for tolerating us...

Thanks to Joyce and Steve from the Running Room.

We all have to encourage Carmen to speak up a little more and come out of her shell...

Vince "Boston or Bust" Hemingson

Turning 55 Just Means Boston Qualifying is 3:45!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Jerk

Imagine my bliss, my joy, my complete delight to receive this last Comment posted on my last Blog. It came immediately after a brief exchange with Scooter from Boston about the State of the Union Address, no pardon me, we were talking about whether or not my back was going to allow me to run in Boston...

Anonymous said...
Is this why you're such a jerk?

Well, well, well. Let's not sugar-coat how we feel. Let us examine my jerkiness, which seems from the above sentence to be more of a statement of my character than being descriptive of any actual physical actions on my part, as in say, "Vince runs with a jerky motion. Or Vince jerked my chain (although clearly I did)"

Let us follow a reasonably scientific line of inquiry and reason as we attempt to discern the deeper meaning behind Anonymous' statement.

And before we begin, let us hope that no one, not even me, is taking me too seriously. Please, Folks, life - this veil of tears - is way too freaking short not to have a sense of humour while we wait out our alloted time on this spinning ball of mud...


v. jerked, jerk·ing, jerks
1. To give a sudden quick thrust, push, pull, or twist to. Nope.
2. To throw or toss with a quick abrupt motion. Doubt it.
3. To utter abruptly or sharply: jerked out the answer. Don't think so.
4. To make and serve (ice-cream sodas, for example) at a soda fountain. Can't be. But it sounds like fun.
5. Sports To press (a weight) overhead from shoulder height in a quick motion.
v.intr. Definitely not these days!
1. To move in sudden abrupt motions; jolt: The train jerked forward. Still seems like a stretch.
2. To make spasmodic motions: My legs jerked from fatigue. No, but they sure do lately.
1. A sudden abrupt motion, such as a yank or twist. Ouch, that's how this all started!
2. A jolting or lurching motion. Sounds like my best moves in a singles bar...
3. Physiology A sudden reflexive or spasmodic muscular movement. Getting warmer...
4. jerks Involuntary convulsive twitching often resulting from excitement. Often used with the. Not quite.
5. Slang A foolish, rude, or contemptible person. AHA! I think we have found it, Watson!
6. Sports A lift in which the weight is heaved overhead from shoulder height with a quick motion. Not this week, kids, no I think we found our correct meaning of jerk in relation to Vince.
Phrasal Verbs: I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist... Probably because I'm a jerk....
jerk off Vulgar Slang
To masturbate.
jerk around
To take unfair advantage of, deceive, or manipulate.

Yes, I plead guilty to - and on far too many occasions I might hasten to add - being a "foolish, rude, and contemptible person".

And I offer no excuses for such behavior. There are none. Such behavior is simply unacceptable. Hemingway said it best, "Guts" or courage, is best exemplified by "grace under pressure". I wish from the utter depths of my shallow bitter soul that I was a better, stronger, more moral-fibred man than the weak-kneed little milque-toast that I so obviously am.

So if I have been short-tempered, cranky, miserable, curmudgeonly (sp?), and rude lately, I proffer a blanket apology to the rest of humankind. My back hurts like Hell. I'll try to refrain from speaking about it if you do too. This will be our little secret.

Anonymous, however, can kiss my rosy-red, pain-shooting-through-it- like-a-white-hot poker, hairy ass, and that is if I can find the strength to get to my feet and stagger up off the floor and straighten up long enough for him or her to reach it properly with puckered lips.

No tongue, please.

And that is all The Jerk has to say on the matter.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Still Have Top Gear...

Posted by Picasa

The picture does not lie. Twelve repeats, all of them between 86-90% of my maximum heart rate.

I find myself stuck in that area between the proverbial rock and the hard place these days as I have not been able to complete my last two long runs on Sunday...

First the epic little journey to Edmonton, from which I thought I had largely recovered and then "Bang!" on my way to an important meeting earlier this week I blew out the sidewall on one of my rear tires. No time to call a tow-truck or a car service. So I changed the tire by the side of the road, cursing Mazda for their wimpy little scissor-jack that comes as space-saving standard equipment, the six inch wheel wrench and the troglydite who was madly in love with his air-wrench when he last mounted my Panasport rims... Every lug-nut took back-breaking lumbar wrenching effort to loosen. Oi vey! Curses!

The last two Sunday runs, in fact I have barely made it the last few kilometres back to my car, and I abandoned all thought of doing my add-on mileage to prepare for Boston. My back has really been acting up. And I have even been having some fairly serious medical consultations.

I may have to postpone Boston a year. There is no point in injurying myself so that I can't run period. At this point I do not think - nor do others far wiser and better trained than I - that I am doing any further tissue damage, but I do have some pretty serious nreve weakness. Chronic pain that I can usually manage is now intruding ever more into every aspect of my day to day routine. And not thinking about it doesn't make it go away. Even worse is the endless stream of lovely well-meaning souls who are endlessly asking me how I am feeling. There is no short answer. And the truthful one is just plain rude. So you nod and smile and say something utterly inane. As a good friend might say, not very authentic...

But last Thursday night I was still able to show a little speed in the 300 metre sprints that Steve Mattina had us do in the Personal Best Clinic. In fact Steve offered me a rare compliment - he's a stern taskmaster and not given to easy praise - by telling me he thought I was in "great shape", his words not mine - and that I might surprise even myself this coming year with some personal best times. He also thought I had a nice light step and "good float". I had no idea what the Hell he was talking about and was intrigued enough to waive any and all embarassment at my ignorance by inquring just what the Hell "float" was...

Turns out float is the opposite of plodding, and accompanies a smooth stride with not too much up and down motion - in other words a marked departure from the way I ran when I first started out endurance running some five years ago, which was markedly inefficient and with far too much muscular involvement. I did start out life as a sprinter after all.

I can honestly say I never tried to change my stride. The miles I ran beat the up and down out of me. Getting smoother and more efficient was the only way I could survive sixty and then seventy and then eighty miles a week and the odd ultramarathon thrown in for good measure. Mother Nature is a wonderful tutor.

But is was nice to hear it from Steve, who is , Mr. Mattina, that is, himself a rather phenomenal athlete (a 2:35 marathon, 32 minute 10K, 15:07 5K, etc, - you get the drift) with hints of a mysterious athletic past that only comes out in rare moments... On Thursday I tried to just tuck in behind the fast kids - the speedy boys and girls - and survive twelve repeats.

I have to tell you, I hate running behind other people. It just kills me. So on the last few repeats I let it out a little. I still averaged 1:04 to 1:06 for each 320 metre repeat, but I did practise my Boston "surges". And we got pretty close to a minute a few times...

On the last repeat I just broke for the tape at the half way mark. Finally, with twenty metres to go I was busted. Spent. Exhausted. And the field breezed by me. But for fifteen seconds I was King of the World.

I was brought a little closer to earth the next day when I couldn't lift my feet over the curb, caught my toe, fell on my face and took all the skin off the heels of my palms. I tell you, one day I am going to master that walking and talking at the same time thing if it kills me... And it well may.

In the meantime, I am stuck with painkillers, muscle-relaxants, anti-inflammatories and the occasional bottle of red wine. Hey, some things require serious self-medication!

So for now I am day to day. And Boston is six weeks away, to the day, today. I wish I felt more positive. But it is hard to feel too badly for myself when I look back over the ground I have travelled these many months and see how far I have come.

The journey has been worth every bump and bruise and ache along the way. Every little setback and reversal has been matched by a little triumph, a small victory that I have treasured. I wouldn't trade away a single moment, or have it end any other way... It will, if nothing else, be interesting. And you can't ask for more than that.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Running in Spirit