Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dare to Be Heard

While recognizing that we live in difficult times, in an uncertain and dangerous world - has it ever been otherwise? - I'm all for a little dissent, those times when an individual expresses a viewpoint that is at odds and in disagreement with the prevailing or official view. Sound familiar?

And this is never more so than when the prevailing view has become doctrinaire and an institutionalized orthodoxy that refuses to see and hear all sides of a debate. A closed mind is an equally dangerous thing.

So today I salute a legend, an iconoclast, and a cultural rebel with the honesty, integrity and moral courage to write songs that hold up a mirror for all of us to look into.

I salute Neil Young.

You don't have to agree with him. But if you have an open mind, you should listen to what he has to say.

Rock on, Neil! Rock on!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Dare to Be Great

I can see the apprehension building in some of the members of our Clinic as the day of the marathon draws ever nearer, especially for those about to do their first. I know what it's like as the tension builds; even the clocks in the room seem to start ticking louder as the time until the race grows shorter. I have been there and I know what it feels like. I am not ashamed to say that I have been afraid before a marathon. And with the taper beginning to take effect, runners have newfound energy that they haven't felt in months. You start to pace the room, you find yourself shifting from foot to foot, you worry, you fret, and you begin fidgeting like a four year old. You begin to think you're nerves are going to snap!

There is no denying that running a Marathon is a daunting task. But I like to think of the taper as a chance to recharge my muscles so that they'll explode on race day, powering me along all 26.2 miles. And all those training miles are tucked away in the bank, ready to be drawn on the day of the race. The work has been done, now the time has come to revel in your newfound abilities. The time has come to amaze yourself.

"Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.", Marianne Williamson.

And the wonderful thing about all those people who have tackled the marathon clinic, risked pain and sore muscles and fatigue and exhaustion and the possibility of failure, is that they have chosen not to be ordinary, rather they have chosen to be extraordinary. They have shunted doubt to one side and pushed fear to the backs of their minds. They have looked into the abyss and taken a step into the great unknown. They have sailed into uncharted waters. They have dared to be great.

Why choose to be ordinary when you can choose to be exceptional?

There's a quote by Johann Goethe that is a favorite of mine, "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it. Begin it now"

Dare to be great. Choose to be extraordinary.

Pick your Marathon in life and run it.

Miracles await.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

You Always Remember Your First...

As the Vancouver Marathon nears - Sunday, May 7th - I am getting asked for lots of advice, in particular by the first timers in the Clinic.

After half a dozen years and a dozen marathons the following bits and pieces are about as close as I can get to pearls of wisdom...

Check what the weather will be like on race day the night before. If it is colder than you like, or if it may rain, bring a top to wear at the start and in the early stages of the race to keep warm, but one that you can throw away later on in the race. Some people swear by a garbage bag! The same goes for a hat (most heat loss is through your head!) and a pair of cheap gloves. You can buy gloves for a few dollars, and for you penny-pinchers out there, it won't break your heart to discard them once you are up to full operating temperature.

Pin your Race Bib on your outfit the night before the race. Attach your chip to your shoe at the same time.

Pack everything you will need after the race, like dry clothes, comfortable footwear and painkillers, the night before.

Lay out all your gear the night before.

The same with breakfast.

Set two alarm clocks. Trade early morning phone calls with a friend just to be on the safe side.

There is no such thing as too much personal lubrication.

Write your name on your Bib, shirt, or an appropriate body part.

Everybody has pre-race nerves and jitters. You are not alone.

HAVE FUN! There is no greater reward than finishing with a smile.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

By getting to the Start Line, you are already a Winner!

Start slow and finish strong. You'll pass most of the rabbits in the last few miles. Smile inside, and offer them a kind word and encouragement as you pass them.

Respect the race, respect the distance.

The Marathon rewards patience and smarts.

It is better to be a little bit scared than a little bit cocky.

Blisters happen. Stomachs get upset. Feet hurt. Rain falls. The temperature rises and plummets. Some things are beyond our control.

We make plans and the Gods laugh...

Don't get hung up on a time. Finishing your first marathon is an extraordinary feat. You are officially one in a thousand once you cross the Finish Line! Have a time in the back of your mind that you can live with. There are more races and better times in the future.

Run your race like you practiced in training.




If you lose your running buddy, Pace Bunny or Running Group - don't panic! You can do this! Think of the extraordinary distance you have already come since you set out on this journey. The end of the Marathon is just a stones throw away in comparison.

Enjoy the scenery.

Wave at the crowd.

High-five at least one spectator. You get extra points and a Gold Star if they are under the age of ten!

Thank the Volunteers for coming out so you can spend a day covered in glory.

Remember that you are a Hero to at least one person in the crowd.

The last part of the race is hard. You already know this. There is a reason they call it a Marathon...

You did your training and paid your dues. You are strong enough to do this.

Your mind is stronger than your body.

If you can't run, walk.

If you get cramps, walk.

Keep moving.

Sometimes you have to take what the race gives you. It is a sign of character to accept it with grace.

The Marathon rewards courage in the face of adversity.

Can you believe you are actually doing this!?!

Smile when you cross the Finish Line.

Allow yourself to cry after you cross the Finish Line.

After the race, you will always be a Marathoner.

Ironman or Ironhead? No, Iron Wallet!

My good friend Anthony Epp has his own Blog about training and preparing for another Ironman...

Anyways, today I have hi-jacked Anthony's Post, and it is eery as Hell, because after the Marathon Clinic last night - that's right, I'm back with the Gang helping them prepare for the Vancouver Marathon - we went for our usual Half-Price Pasta at Ciao Bella, owned by fellow runner and all-around good guy, Mario, and a big part of the conversation centered around the "high cost" of supposedly "low cost" activities like running. My sticker shock at the costs involved in the Ironman were front and center. Or as I have come to call it, "the Madness..."

In Anthony's own words:

Here is a breakdown of my projected costs for the year:

Entry fee: $575
Entry fee for 2 half Ironman races: $175 each ($350)
Bike maintenance: $1,000
Bike shoes and helmut: $250-300
Running shoes: $500 (3 pairs at least)
Swimsuit: $50
Coaching: $1,200
Travel & accommodation for all races: $2000
Nutrition: $600
Massage: $1000 (for the year)
TOTAL: approximately $7,500
That's what I KNOW of...

Without the new bike idea (which, in retrospect, looks like just lunacy right now).

Ironman need Iron Credit Card!

Like I said, utter MADNESS!

Unlike Anthony I have just popped $1,200 for a new bike. Thank God the Old Man got carried away and popped for my new helmet...

I haven't even STARTED trying on wet-suits yet and know that by the time I am finished paying all the taxes I am going to be out seven or eight hundred dollars...

Only three pairs of runners!?! Anthony is living in a dream world! I go through at LEAST a dozen pairs a year....

LOng story short. Ten grand at least... TEN GRAND!

I nearly had a heart attack when Hugh told me I'd probably go through five - "FIVE" - sets of tires...

And if I get crazy with a bike trainer.... Another five hundred beans!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Run Haida Gwaii - 108K from Totem to Totem

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Sunday Stroll

Friday and Saturday were very easy days, a handful of slow kilometre repeats. Legs felt good and I have been pouring good food into them. And getting caught up on my sleep as I attempt to get caught up in my work.

Sunday I did the Vancouver Sun Run 10K in around 56 minutes, limiting my heart rate to around 65%.

I am going to get thrashed for this, but the one thing that stood out as I ran at such a relaxed pace in what for many people was obviously a race, was the astonishing amount of terrible running etiquette. I mean, after running in similar conditions in Boston, I was actually shocked. And that is saying something. Whatever happened to respect for the other people around you, or simple good manners?

The Vancouver Sun Run had over 50,000 people participate in the event. And like Boston they had multiple wave starts. The truly fast runners, maybe a few hundred men and women, went out first. Then the vast crowd was let out in bunches numbering in the thousands. There were blue numbers, yellow numbers, green numbers, white numbers and red numbers. It was a crush of people, on a beautiful sunny spring day and most people were in wonderful spirits. But there was no way anyone was going to make a "time". The Sun Run is meant to be a celebration of an active lifestyle, the benefits of fitness and exercise, and the fact that here on the Westcoast we are incredibly blessed with a staggering array of venues in which to get out and enjoy nature in all its glorious abundance.

I am going to digress here for a moment. Vancouver has a horrific problem with street racers, nearly all of them comprised of young men coming from families with too much money and not enough discipline or supervision, who indulge their spoiled sons with egregiously expensive cars that have too much horsepower for them to control. The result is that these irresponsible young men regularly kill themselves and more tragically, kill innocent bystanders, many of them pedestrians. Frankly, if these morons impale themselves on telephone poles while going in a straight line it is clear evidence of Darwinism at work as far as I am concerned. The gene pool is better off without their contributions. When they kill innocent people, they should be publicly flogged, locked up and the key thrown away. And their parents should have to pay through the nose after being publicly flogged alongside their evil little spawn.

Because poor behavior is universal, these young men absolutely come from every conceivable ethnic background. But in our politically correct culture it is considered impolite to point out that certain groups are greatly over-represented in both street-racing and in gang related killings - two activities that stem from an astonishing degree of narcissim, arrogance and an overweening sense of entitlement. In fact a publicly-funded study about the behavior and possible reasons why so many young Southeast Asians and East Indians kill each other in gang-related incidents was just released to widespread hand-wringing in the British Columbia media.

On Sunday I saw all kinds of morons, almost all them exclusively young men in their late teens to mid-twenties, weaving through the huge crowd of runners as they tried to pass people. They bumped into people, almost knocked a number of people over and were utterly oblivious to the havoc they created in their wake and in their path. It was a display of selfishness and self-absorbtion that had to be seen to be believed. And while every conceivable group that makes up the population of Vancouver was represented, I could not help but notice that the worst offenders were young Chinese men and young East Indian men. The irony of this is that both of these cultural groups have sterling reputations for hard work, perseverance, dedication to success, commitment to education and contributions to their communities. They have unquestionably had to overcome greater obstacles in order to succeed in Canada, and have done so. So what has happened to their young men?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Madness Begins...

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So, I took delivery of my Giant TCR Aero 2 bike today. I purchased it from someone I love and adore and think of as a younger brother. Said younger brother is behaving exactly as younger brothers have since the beginning, ney, the dawn of time... Procastinating, equivocating, side-stepping, doing everything in their power to drive you nutz.

Part of the purchase of the Giant was the extraction of an explicit promise that, "Yes, I will take the bike subject to you helping me find a storage solution..." Because, yes, of course, any apartment belonging to yours truly, even a two bedroom domicile, is filled to the brim with the flotsam and jetsam of a lifetime of travels and collecting and because I admit I am a packrat. I had NO idea where I was going to put the damn thing. My idea was to hang it from the ceiling of my office. But I had no idea how to acomplish that feat.

I once rode a bike to work every day, twenty miles a day. THAT WAS TWENTY-FIVE FREAKING YEARS AGO. All subsequent two-wheeled transportation has had a motor, usually a BIG motor attached.

"Little brother" is an engineer and has SIX bikes (at one time he had nine - he's crazy, probably certifiable, which of course is one of the many reasons I love him). A perfect candidate to solve the storage problem. Except... Long story short, after many false starts, fits and farts, bike was dropped off at my doorstep, "have a nice day, enjoy the sunshine, see you later..." What!?!

F**K!!!!! So I then spent the next three hours with my Father in tow, on a gorgeous sunny Sunday afternoon better spent at the beach I might add, going to three hardware stores!, four bike stores!, and finally just rigging up a Rube Goldberg contraption with hooks drilled into the ceiling and f**king bungy cords. Thank God for Home Depot.

Did I mention that I drilled seven, SEVEN holes in the plaster ceiling before I found ceiling joists? But, at the last bike store in Kitsilano, I was waiting for a sales clerk and Father, unusually patient for a change, was checking out the gear in my wake, quietly amusing himself. I idly tried on a bike helmet - the law requires you to wear one in British Columbia -(brain injury is probably the least of my worries...) and I mentioned to clerk that I needed something suitable for doing an Ironman. Being cool in Penticton in August was a must. Temperatures often get into the eighties and nineties. All black helmets were ruled out. As swelled as my head is, I am a Medium and NOT a Large.

Dear old Dad handed me a beautiful blue, white and grey helmet with the suggestion that it would match the colours of my new Giant. The cranky old bastard does have some taste on occasion... And then he offered to buy it for me (he must be feeling guilty for sleeping on my couch for the past ten days and drinking all my wine...). It was a lovely and touching gesture on his part.

So a Giro Pneumo Race model it was. With a flashy Aero brim for downforce and an additional two mile per hour top speed...

We both nearly gagged when we found out the price was a penny shy of two hundred dollars. YIKES!

Credit, where credit is due. The old man never flinched... And I can see that this is only the beginning of the madness where gear is concerned...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Toys for Boys

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Confessions of a Gear Junkie

If you've read my Blog for any length of time - or at all, for that matter, it's pretty clear that I am the ultimate lay-down for anyone selling a product that is touted as a way to get faster or collect more data from my training regimen. I am a sucker for gadgets. Toys for boys. I might as well have a bulls-eye painted on my forehead.

Honestly, I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to need a few items to train, prepare for and compete in an Ironman, but I had NO IDEA there was so much gear out there...

Check out
to get just an inkling of what lies out there...

I haven't quite decided yet whether I am ecstatic or aghast!

But I have a good idea where all my spare change is going to go for the next eighteen months...

Mission: Medoc

Seymour was so excited, he called me all the way from Ottawa with the news that he and I are both official entrants in the Medoc Marathon!


Come September 9th, I will be sipping wine for 26.2 miles (hence the purple font to go with my purple prose!)

Friday, April 21, 2006

In the Footsteps of Giant(s)

What's next?

Are you done?

Is it over?

You "busted" Boston, what is going to happen to your Blog?

The e-mails have been coming fast & furious.

I bought a bike.

A Giant TCR Aero 2 2005.

The Goal. / August 27th, 2006.



Compete the Summer of 2007.

SWIM 2.4 M/3.86 KM BIKE 112 M/180.2 KM RUN 26.2 M/42.2 KM



The Blog lives on!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Boston in a Heartbeat

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Boston is one tough marathon course. Reading about the route and even driving the course doesn't really prepare you for what it is like to race at Boston. Everybody who struggles with the Boston Beast can take some solace in the fact that even four-time winner Bill Rodgers dropped out of his first Boston race at twenty miles. One of the things I often caution people with in training for the marathon is the saying, "You have to respect the race, you have to respect the distance." This goes double for Boston. Having just completed my first, I have a whole new reverence and respect for the Boston Marathon.

I have to say that two of the highlights on this Boston journey for me have had to do with Bill Rodgers. I met Bill in person at the Las Vegas Marathon last December. I started out curious and ended up being an admirer and a huge fan. Bill Rodgers is a class act. He autographed my race bib and a copy of his book (my second). He was gracious and sincere and utterly down to earth and he was just a delight to speak with.

When I told him that I had just qualified for Boston, his enthused response took me a little aback. "Wow, that's great! That's tough you know, to qualify for Boston. I raced at Boston a few times and Boy!, that race... Congratulations! You can't just do Boston once. You need to race it a few times. Boy, that race." And Bill just shook his head and grinned. It took me a second to realize that Bill was being perfectly genuine. All this from a four-time winner at Boston. In this moment we were just a pair of runners with a shared passion. I had no sense that we were seperated by talent, or speed or achievement. My book read, "Vince, Run Forever! Have fun in your 1st Boston Marathon! '06-'07 Bill Rodgers". There it was in ink, an invitation, a command no less, from one of Mount Olympus' marathon Gods to run Boston more than once...

We chatted for a few minutes about running as you get older and how he was coming back from an injury and was running half marathons in favour of marathons and I couldn't help but think of his incredible string of marathon victories and his equally incredible volume of races and training. And at the end of his string, Bill Rodgers still thinks of and hungers to race.

Once we arrived in Boston and had secured our rental car at Logan Airport, Hugh, Luisa and I checked into our hotel and immediately made a bee-line to the Bill Rodger's Running Center. If Boston is Mecca, then Bill's store is Holy ground. The place is filled with memorabilia from his racing career. I had been checking out the marathon gear from Adidas online and knew exactly what I wanted. I shopped for five minutes and admired the decor for an hour. I also picked up some t-shirts for the guys back home, and some for myself. The t-shirts would prove eerily prophetic, "the marathon can humble you." and "If you want to win a race you have to go a little berserk", Bill Rodgers. The first goes without saying, and the second applies just as well to finishing the last 10K strong. If you want a time at Boston, you have to be willing to go a little berserk...

There is no way to sugar-coat it. I got slapped around in Boston - but good. The sheer numbers of people running and the ever changing grade make it nearly impossible to find a "groove" and stick it for any length of time. You always have to be vigilant about your pace. The downhills lure you on and the uphills catch you unawares. "Pace" is almost impossible to achieve.

I went out "easy", but still reeled off a 24 minute 5K and a 48 minute 10K. If you look at my heart rate chart you will see that I actually did start out relatively easy. I did not get my heart rate up for at least the first thirty minutes. I was thrown for a bit of a loop, when in the first two hundred metres I was jostled by someone and one of my Gel bottles squirted from my Fuel Belt and was lost in a nano second in the crowd. There was not even a suggestion that I could stop and recover it. In a flash I had lost half my fuel supply for the race. I was going to have to use my initiative and ingenuity in the field to make up for the loss. Needless, to say,
that was going to be a stretch...

Hugh was not happy with the pace at 10K and passed me, saying as he breezed by me, "This pace is not going to cut it." I didn't have a reply for that and I tried to stick with him, but I finally had to let him go. My heart rate was rapidly leaving the zone I had picked for my race strategy. At several points, he had to be at least a few hundred metres in front of me and I completely lost sight of him. I panicked a little because I have so much respect for Hugh and his experience and ability. But I also knew I had to run my own race.

The next 10K sped by, water station by water station, mile by mile, and outstretched hand by outstretched hand. I felt good at the Half, and I had reeled Hugh back in - we crossed the timing pads together - but I knew that my 1:41 would take a beating in Newton. I had driven the course, seen the Hills and read all the books. Frankly, I was dreading this part of the race. I thought that the key for me in Boston was to survive to the top of Heartbreak Hill and not blow my brains out. I usually run a negative split and I am a strong finisher. I knew I had put enough miles in the training bank to - at least in theory - be able to draw down on them at the end of the marathon.

The hills are insidious and often preceded by a sneaky little downhill. People would gather speed and momentum and try and maintain their speed up the hill. The crowd made it worse by urging everyone on. It was a recipe for disaster in my reckoning. It took a huge amount of discipline on my part to keep my ego and my heart rate in check. (see Polar Heart Rate Chart).

I heard and watched all kinds of people going anaerobic as they crested the hills. I knew it was going to take a toll as we approached 32K. I had dropped at least five minutes by the top of Heartbreak Hill. And once again, it took everything I had to keep my heart rate in a zone I could maintain. This time it was not a case of me slowing down, but a case of willing myself to keep going.

At mile twenty-three my muscles cramped so badly I had to walk them out. And this was a whole new kind of pain I had never experienced before. I think that even when you are speeding downhill, there must be a momentary quad contraction to maintain your balance. My quads were screaming at this point. Up until Boston, I had only ever encountered cramping and muscle spasms in my calves and hamstrings. I went to the training mileage bank to make a withdrawal, but the bank was closed!

I had abandoned any idea of a 3:20 at about 10 miles, and had my heart set on a Personal Best at Boston (3:29:39) for the next ten miles. From 32K on my only goal, and a desperate attempt to salvage something for the day was to re-qualify for Boston IN Boston. I almost didn't make it. I have
never suffered muscle cramps before like I did yesterday. You name the muscle group, and it probably seized up on me yesterday, guads, calves, hamstrings. Twice I thought seriously about just walking it in.

Truthfully, knowing that Scooter was out there like the Great White Shark in Jaws and that my running buddies were all glued to a computer screen somewhere, kept me going. In the end, I had to go a little berserk.

You wanna talk about respect? Boston is DA MAN! I bow down!

What a race. I would run the Boston Marathon again in a heart beat.

I consider myself incredibly lucky and fortunate to have come away with a 3:30:38 in Boston.

A highlight - or lowlight - of the trip was at the Expo when I picked up my bib and chip. I was going to get my Boston Marathon shirt and as I walked past the Smalls, I angled towards the Mediums and Larges. A trim elderly man, all five-foot-five and a half of him and a hundred and thirty pounds of him soaking wet, took one look at me and chirped, "The shirts for the football players are at the end," and he pointed to the Extra Larges. For the record, a Large fits me like a glove, thank you very much. But I must confess that on the day before the marathon, I tipped the medical scale in the hotel Fitness Room at 185-186 pounds. I was fully carb-loaded to say the least.

Small comfort. I started the race in Corral Ten, proudly wearing Bib Number 10,486. This meant in part that I was in the very last starting pen in the First Wave, and that in theory at least, there were ten thousand four hundred and eighty-five runners who had qualified to run in Boston with a quicker qualifying time than your humble correspondent (which to date was my Personal Best of 3:29:39) ie; they were faster than moi. I finished 6,315 Overall, which I take it to mean that I passed or finished ahead of 4,171 other runners who qualify as stiff competition. For once, I punched above my weight!

Glimmer of hope. I was proud of my ability to reassess my goals in mid-race and realize that I could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by requalifying in Boston. By the same token, I finished within 59 seconds of my PB on what most would consider a significantly tougher course. I am very happy with my time.

Remiss. In thanking people in my last Blog before the race I left out Jeff Galloway. I am a staunch proponent of Jeff's training methods and philosophy. He's the closest thing I have to a running guru. I have probably gifted several dozen people with his excellent book, "Marathon" and I am a tremendous disciple of his long run pace theories. Jeff has answered a number of my e-mails personally. and been an ongoing source of both inspiration and knowledge. Check it out at

And finally, you simply can't say enough about Boston's race organization, the race volunteers, and the people of Boston. The atmosphere and ambience in Boston is amazing. The Expo is incredible and the Marathon itself is a spectacle. It's like going to the circus or a side-show carnival for three straight days. Runners are feted and treated like Kings and Queens. Boston, you Rock!

If you're a runner who loves the marathon, you owe it to yourself to find a way to get to Boston. Nothing I read nor imagined prepared me in the slightest for running in Boston. You simply have to experience it.

I would run the Boston Marathon again in a heart beat.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Boston: In a League of Its Own



The hardest race I have ever run in my life.

Scooter nails what Boston was like in his Blog. I was going to go to sleep - I've been up since 3:15 AM to catch my flight back to Vancouver from Boston - but Scooter inspired me to dash off a quick comment to his Blog. Let me tell you, Boston takes no prisoners.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Shout, Shout, Shout It All Out

It's all over but the shouting. Had a little panic attack yesterday as I couldn't find the "belt" part of my fuel-belt. I have little plastic bottles coming out the wazoo, but no belt itself. I have a half dozen different belts, depending upon whether I am running a marathon, an ultramarathon or doing a training run. This particular belt I think of as my marathon racing belt and it is no where to be found. I also think of it as my "lucky" belt, as I used it to qualify for Boston. Arrrgghhhhh!!! One last shout!

Thank God I had so many ants in my pants that I started packing a full day early (I packed for Las Vegas thirty minutes before leaving for the airport...). I tore my apartment apart for an hour and then just went to buy an exact replacement. None in stock!!! So I had to drive for an hour this morning to pick up my fuel-belt at another Running Room store location. I bought two - just to be on the safe side. Whew! I now have all my racing gear...

Since undertaking this little quest - to qualify for the Boston Marathon - as a New Year's Resolution in late 2004 some sixteen months, sixty-five weeks and five hundred or so days ago, I have run three marathons, a couple of Ultramarathons (plus another half dozen thirty mile training runs) and a dozen shorter-distances races. I have lost twenty-five pounds along the way (actually I've probably lost more, gained them back and then lost them again). I have had Personal Bests in the 10K (granted because of my age category), Half Marathon (all-time PB), Marathon (all-time PB). I have gone through about fifteen pairs of running shoes, Asics Nimbus'. I have run at least three thousand miles. I have consumed gallons of gels and goos, sucked back barrels of Gatorade. I have ranted and raved, sulked and pouted, strutted and swaggered about, sniveled and whined and shouted my story from the mountain-top.

The Blog - all 282 Posts - kept me honest. It kept me motivated and it gave me a place to vent my spleen and exercise my demons. No that's not a typo... The Blog has been a little bit like being a Pace Group Leader for a really, really, really big running group. I loved getting comments back. They were an interesting mirror to gaze into. I even started getting regulars which was a bit of a surprise. In the end, the Blog took on a life of its own, a cause for occasional friction and hostility in Vince World when I struggled to balance the time requirements for training, working and writing. And the Blog found its own identity, getting noticed in places and venues that rather surprised me.

I am flying out at the crack of dawn tomorrow for Beantown, so this will the last post before I run the Boston Marathon, before I enter the starting gates of Mecca.

Having embarked upon what for me has been a rather remarkable journey, I would be remiss if I didn't thank a few people.

Thanks to the medical miracle workers who kept me patched together, Drs. Boris & Stacey, Kenji and Diana...

Thank you Polar for my S625X heart rate monitor, which I have always found to be an invaluable training tool and the keystone in my training regimen. Thanks to the Running Room for offering me a place to run, and train and for their Marathon Clinics (having financed a second wing on John Stanton's house over the past five years - my Gawd!, the money you can spend on shoes, spandex and gels! - I feel that this has been a symbiotic relationship...). I wouldn't be here today without the inspiration, advice and training tips and knowledge of people like Anthony and Louise, Neil and Steve. I still miss Jonathan...

But, first and foremost have been my regular running buddies. I could not have qualified for the Boston Marathon without them. Some of these men and women I have run with for years and for hundreds and thousands of miles and for many marathons. It is hard not to think of them as family. They have bolstered me, offered me comfort, solace and red wine when I needed it and a swift kick in the pants when in order. They have inspired me, supported me and their commitment was the touchstone for my own training.

So in no particular order, my brothers and sisters, big and little, and good friends; Seymour, Hugh, Anne, Patrick, Justin, Michael, Rachel, Laura, Ed, Leah, Sheila, Trish, Cynthia, Michelle, Joyce, Robin, Flo, Jaquie, Henry, Tina, Sonia, Steve and Steph, June, Stu, Kirsten, Carmen, Warren, Sean, Luisa, Sarah, John and every poor member of every pace group who has ever had to listen to me drone on, laugh at my jokes and put up with me! If you feel left out of the list because of my failing memory cells, slap me upside the head...

Thanks to Mom and Dad and all my forebears for the genes that make me want to take to the roads and the trails and just keep going...

It's been a wonderful journey. I can hardly wait to see where it takes me next...

Interesting Sidebar - Speaking of forebears, my Great Grandfather Frederick William (FW) Philpot, ran for the Hare & Hounds Club in the 1880's while attending St. John's College at Cambridge. He did the Cambridge University 7.5 mile cross-country course in 1886 in a time of 40:11. Pages 27-28

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Boston Butterflies

A friend - and I'm making a huge assumption here - a non-running one, asked me yesterday what a "taper" was and what did it "feel" like.

Ahhhh, the Great Taper. Always makes me think of the Great Caper or the Great Train Robbery. A taper (for the non-running or non-racers in the audience) is the process of decreasing your training mileage and intensity in the days and/or weeks leading up to a race. In the case of a marathon, you do your last long run three weeks before the race. The idea is to allow your body to fully recover and heal from all the stress and accumulated aches and pains imposed by hard training and high mileage. On race day, you should be able to maximize your full potential.

So for me this week, and to a lesser extent the last two weeks, I am mostly just running around (but not RUNNING per se) these days, attempting to get caught up on errands, trying to get ready for Boston (Ha!) and trying to remain on an even keel (not likely). I have a real love-hate relationship with tapering.

I like the recovery part, don't like all this extra time I have on my hands (I can only get myself into trouble) and the feeling that all I can do now is wait.... Running for me is a way to blow off steam and stress. Not running as I am used to doing is stressful (despite all my whining about how much I want to taper towards the end of the marathon training cycle). The taper is a slow form of water torture for a closet (Okay, not so closeted) control freak like myself (knowing full well intellectually of course that the natural state of the Universe is entropy and that my attempts at control are feeble rationalizations to deal with the daily chaos we call life). I worry about my weight, whether or not Carb-depletion and Carb-loading really works, gaining weight, losing weight, am I getting enough good lean protein... In the immortal words of Crash Davis, "Don't think, Meat, you'll only hurt the ballclub".

So the die are cast for my Boston Marathon. It's all pretty much out of my hands now, Boston-wise. I am as prepared and as fit and as fast as I am EVER going to be... For this Boston at least.

Hugh - the ultimate running buddy - and I qualified together in the Okanagan Marathon in Kelowna in a time just under 3:30, for me it was 3:29:39. That works out to a pace of almost exactly eight minutes per mile. For Boston I did up a Pace Band (thank you, that calls for us to run a pace in the ballpark of 7:37 minutes per mile. Hugh and I based this on our training, a half marathon this Spring where we managed to maintain a steady pace of 7:11 minutes per miles, and the knowledge that in Kelowna, our goal was to put out JUST enough effort to maintain a pace that would qualify us for Boston. In Hugh's case, he had a huge cushion, as his qualifying time was 3:45, but like I said, he's the ultimate running buddy and he never left my side.

So, we'll soon find out whether or not we can maintain a pace around twenty-five seconds faster in Boston. And it will be interesting to see what we have left as we face Heartbreak Hill in the final stages of the Marathon. Bring it on, Boston! Bring it on!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Number 10,486

Number 10,486.



Stripped down to its essence.

All the rest is superfluous.




An identity inscribed in a line of code.

Your Cheque is in the Mail...

Got an e-mail this morning from the good folks at the Boston Marathon.

And, well, this clears up a mystery or two... I can only imagine what some of the other logistical nightmares are for the poor bastards in charge of trying to make an event the size and complexity of Boston come off smoothly.

To all International runners,

Evidently there has been a problem with the delivery of Number Pick Up Cards to many international runners. We assure you that these cards were mailed via Fed Ex on Wednesday, March 22, 2006. There has obviously been a delay in the delivery as the mail reached many countries, and in particular, to our runners from Canada.

In the event that you do not receive your card before you leave for Boston please be assured that we will still issue you your number. Number pickup will be on Saturday and Sunday between the hours of 9am and 6pm at the World Trade Center in South Boston. When you come into World Trade Center please go to the "Replacement Number Pick Up Cards" booth. At that point you will be asked for a photo ID. We will issue you a new card and you will be able to proceed through the system to claim your number.

Included with your number pick up card was the official Welcome Brochure for the 110th Boston Marathon. The brochure includes extensive information about race weekend. We encourage you to view and print the PDF version of the brochure by going to

We apologize for any inconvience this has caused. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

We look forward to welcoming you to Boston and wish you luck with your race.

Safe Travel.

So, as soon as a I know my number, I'll let you know my number. Or something like that!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Less is More

Ran the Lumberman's Arch 5K Race this morning in twenty-four minutes flat. Actually, lumbered along might be a more appropriate description. A beautiful little course that winds through Stanley Park.

Driving back and forth to Seattle on Thursday and Friday, a little over three hours each way was stop as bad as expected. But I still felt a little stiff this morning. Ran a few K along the Seawall to warm up.

Sixteen kilometres tomorrow and then I'll really be in full taper.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Beauty and Poetry of the English Language

Defining "cheat" and "cheaters" -

Listen, all you dumb motherf**kers out there who keep attempting to lecture me on the English language and its meanings.

I will hand you your testicles on a silver platter.

I will tear you a new rectal orifice. With pleasure. I believe in some forms of bloodsports.

I use words with purpose and meaning.

Unlike most of you dumb bastards who log on, I can actually spell and I know that grammar is not Mom's Mother.

Please, I beg of you, stop before you get hurt. It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

Oxford English Dictionary ( and yes, it is the only dictionary that counts. The words, say for interest - Honour and Colour - are actually spelled correctly this way).

cheat * verb

1. act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage

2. deprive of something by deceitful or unfair means

3. avoid (something undesireable) by luck or skill: she cheated death in a spectacular crash

Or, you mentally challenged simpletons: he cheated the qualifying requirements of the Boston Marathon (an incredibly lengthy and personally painful process for the vast majority of us and apparently, for some people, "something undesireable") by writing a large personal cheque to a charity

* noun

1. a person who cheats

2. an act of cheating

Are you following any of this, or do I need to explain this as well, Fecal Matter for Brains?

And I do not want to hear one single stupid village idiot respond to this Blog with some lame, pathetic, limp explanation that, "it's in the BAA Rule Book".

Fuck the Rule Book. In fact, double fuck the Rule Book. If you avoid having to meet the qualifying requirements of the Boston Marathon by the simple act of writing a cheque, that is a cheat and you are, by definition, a cheater.

Bunny Ears

Thank Christ I finally had time to write a new Blog (the last one was getting stale, but by being up for a while it was fascinating - to say the least - to see the ebb and flow of what really turned into an interesting debate). Two days in Seattle will do that to you...

Came home and just finished going through several HUNDRED freakin' e-mails. SHIT! I forgot to check my SPAM folder...

If I can still walk three weeks after doing the Boston Marathon, I have just agreed to be the 4:45 Pace Bunny for the Vancouver Adidas Marathon on May 7th.

I love the 4:45 Groups. The people in this Pace Group are usually wonderful right across the board, for many it is their first marathon, and - Oh so exciting - which really rubs off and you can just revel in their joy and enthusiasm and get a vicarious thrill from their experience.

I only hope I can help someone like Allen achieve a - I almost hate to say this after the last Blog - goal time like qualifying for the Boston Marathon or achieving a personal best or of course, best of all, helping someone finish their first marathon.

What makes the 4:45 Group so special is that aside from the many first timers, there are also many more "experienced" runners in the mix, silver foxes of both genders, and on the run, the stories that get told from people with lives so rich and full of truly remarkable experiences are all the more memorable.

Looking forward to it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

An Honest Mile

As a writer, a good case could be made that I make my living disseminating piffle and rhubarb, balderdash and bullshit, half-truths and half-lies. My craft consists in large parts of smoke and mirrors and deliberate deception. A great attraction for me in running - in this age of manufactured reality television (utterly unreal) programming - is that running is, at least at some basic level and for lack of a better description; honest.

Running is honest. A mile is a mile. You run what you run. And the clock doesn't lie. And 26.2 miles is really 26.2 miles. It is a hard distance to fudge.

There will always be people who cheat of course. Cheating and dishonesty and seeking an unfair advantage are part of the human condition and an increasingly tolerated (if not actually venerated) aspect of the American way of life. Canada is no different. The Olympics and baseball and football and almost all modern sports are rife with them. The cheats that is... Even endurance running has its cheats. The subway and taxi marathoners. But for the most part, running, and running long, hard distances like 26.2 miles is honest. Brutally honest. You have to endure the training, put in the hours and suffer the hard work to get the best results. You have to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. I love that old Adidas Boston Marathon poster - "Everything you ever needed to know about yourself you can learn in 26.2 miles." In fact it has hung on the wall in my office for several years and I (of course not yet) haven't even run Boston. I just agreed with the philosophy behind it.

Hence it kind of pissed me off to read Scooter's Blog - The idea that fully a quarter and maybe even as many as a third of the field at Boston won't have qualified pisses me off. REALLY pisses me off. Did I mentioned that I was pissed off? Running for charity is a noble endeavour. Writing a big check to a charity to buy a spot in the Boston Marathon is dishonest.

If you want to do something truly altruistic, write the check to the charity of your choice and sponsor a real amateur athlete who has what it takes to qualify for a race with the history and prestige of Boston. That would be a charitable act. That would be the honest thing to do. Buying your way in to a race like the Boston Marathon is no different than cheating.

But when was the last time that lying and cheating and being dishonest carried any sense of shame with it in North America? For the answer, all you have to do is turn on the television. Or read the first page of the newspaper, or the first page of the Financial section, or the first page of the Sports section.

So for every honest amateur runner out there honest enough to actually qualify for the Boston Marathon - I salute you.

I hope I can tell you apart from the people who bought their way in through the front door.

I hope I can tell you apart from the cheaters.