Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Woody Allen Lives...

I have been on my salmon and salad diet again since Sunday. Back down to 189 pounds. Will aim to stick to it religiously until I am back in the low 180s. Will then try to drift down over the Summer to the 170s for an attempt at racing a fast marathon in the late Fall and a new personal best.

As a man of a certain age I have begun developing wild tendencies towards hyprochondria. My coughing, wheezing and sputtering of the past ten days, my horror at sticking my arm in one of those blood pressure machines in a pharmacy a few weeks ago and getting a read-out of 135 over 95, and this little spot of flaking skin on my forehead that won't go away had me pretty convinced that I had an advanced case of some disease, and given my luck and recent behavior, probably a brain tumour or lung or skin cancer...

Good old Dr. Boris. Those blood pressure machines you find in drug stores? They are designed with eighty year old women in mind. Frail eighty year old women. Not strapping middle-aged Vikings. That would explain why I can barely fit my forearm through the cuff. My blood pressure is only 95 over 66. Which is done a bit from last year's check-up of 104 over 66. And my resting heart rate is 46, and as low as 38 or 39 some mornings when I lie in bed.

The wheezing and sounding like a broken air-conditioner in a cheap motel is my asthma flaring up at the heighth of allergy season. Got a mittful of new inhalers, but to be on the safe side, Boris is sending me for a lung function test. Aand I'm in good company, apparently there is some bizarre statistic like 80% of Olympic athletes have some degree of exercise induced asthma.

As for the flaking bit of my hide, Boris doesn't think it is anything, but he's sending me to somebody. Worst case scenario it is a tiny little basal skin cancer bit that will scrape right off.

Why all the paranoia you ask...

Well, this is the year my father had his first heart attack, relative to our ages. He was 46 at the time, and in a few months I too will be 46. Christ, where did my life go? And much as I know that my father and I lead very different lifestyles, the apple still doen't fall that far from the tree. But my heart and blood pressure and blood chemistry are all good. Good cholesterol good, bad cholesterol hardly on the chart. And the amount of running I am doing on a regular basis kind of precludes me developing heart disease over night, but you can't shake that nagging feeling that causes you to look over your shoulder in the middle of the night.

We're all dying, so you better hurry up and start living.

Time is precious, waste it carefully...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Sunday Morning in the Rain

Sunday morning 8K Race in Shaughnessey. And yes, that hill behind us is the start of the race. I woke up at six am to a torrential downpour and a forecast of rain all morning. It actually cleared up for the race, but I dressed for a flood. I hate running in tights and it ended up being warm, with high humidity. Of course at the end while standing around for the draws, we all nearly developed hypothermia...

The Gang. Hugh, Patrick, myself and Luisa. Respectively, fifth, fifth and fourth in their age brackets. Not too shabby for a race with 450 runners. Of course all three of them were dogging it.... (I came in 11th...)

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Luisa demonstrating the aerodynamic efficiency for which she is renowned. She's also training for a tri.

I ran the race in 37 - plus minutes. I eased off a little because of all the racing I have been doing and a slow start really seemed to help.

I quite surprised myself by only finishing a minute behind Hugh. More importantly I didn't beat myself up.

I was sure surprised by the new muscles I had discovered while biking though!

Thanks to Michelle for the photos!

Torture Device

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That's right, this thing is a torture device for the uninitiated! After a couple of hours with Michael on Saturday afternoon - at least an hour of which was spent in a biking tutorial - I woke up on Sunday morning a bit of a mess.

My shoulders ached, my crotch felt like I'd received a swift kick, my hands hurt, my neck was stiff and my feet throbbed. This is quite the little learning curve I have found myself at the bottom of...

Experience tells me I am looking at somewhere in the vicinity of twenty hours to get comfortable before I can even begin to experience the conditioning effects and benefits of cross-training on the bike. And to decrease my stiffness I am going to need to start by riding at least every other day. By my calculations, it will take me about a month to get comfortable. And I can see that riding is going to be a lot like running - it will take a gradual build-up of mileage on the long rides before my body is going to adapt. The muscles you use are really very different.

What have I got myself into!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Vince Goes Iron Bike

I am a greenhorn...

Let's see, need to learn to pull my cleats out, need to learn how to shift, need to learn how to keep my d**k from going numb,
my ass numb,
my hands numb,
my feet numb,
my brain numb...

It's all numb!

You get the picture.

Need to learn a LOT!

Kamikaze Tail-Gater!

Okay, this is my obligatory beefcake shot of me in my Sugoi 'Carbon' jersey.


And I have helmet hair...

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First road rash. Came at a complete stop. No, really. I was not moving...

I pulled up to a stop sign, couldn't pull my cleat out and fell over.

Road Warrior?

Road Putz.

And if the driver's in Vancouver have anything to say about it...

Road Kill!

Due to popular demand!


by Paul Newitt

Price: $2,249

Weight: 2.2 lbs (frame)

Components: Shimano 105, Cinelli, Selle Italia

Frame & Fork: ALUXX Sl butted aluminum, carbon composite fork

Geometry: 73° head tube, 73.5° seat tube, 21.85cm top tube

Sizes: S, M (tested), L

Comments: "Good things come in small packages."

It has been four years since Giant introduced the revolutionary compact road frames to the international race circuit, and it continues to stick with the race-proven lighter/smaller/stiffer concept. Over those same four years, Giant continued to receive invaluable input from members of Team ONCE, and has pushed compact frame innovation to the edge.

The origin of the compact frame stems from Giant's relationship with Mike Burrows, one of the world's most innovative and prominent bicycle designers. Burrows set out on a quest to produce a stiffer bike at a lower weight than a standard frame and to produce a better-fitting bike for everyone. This goal was achieved by using a sloping top tube with larger-diameter thin-wall tubing. The larger-diameter tubing in the main frame makes the bike stiffer and lighter, providing less frame flex during acceleration, descents, or in cornering. The sloping top tube also meant Giant could create a smaller rear triangle.

The Set Up

The Set Up.

Sounds like a great little caper film.

Probably set in London, with detours to Paris, Geneva and finishing with a rousing chase scene through the back streets and alleys of Rome...

But nope, it's about getting my fat ass onto a bicycle seat the size of a postage stamp and at least looking like I know what I am doing...

Michael and his buddy Dave at Simon's Bikes recommended I see Larry Zimich. Larry is apparently a cycling God. With impeccable credentials. Credentials hopefully good enough to transform yours truly from a cycling Pig's Ear into an Armstrong knock-off Silk Purse...

I contacted Larry and plan to get my bike set up later this week.

Michael and I are going for a 90 minute bike this afternoon so it will be interesting to have a little before and after analysis. Michael has twenty years of cycling experience - at least the last ten of those seriously - and he IS an Engineer. He takes what he does in life seriously and most of us who know Michael know that if he has gear, that gear is usually as good as it gets. He does heaps of research on anything he does, or the gear that he uses.

We are close to the same height, Mr. Loehr and I - Michael is an inch taller, but my legs are an inch longer. Figure that out... And Michael spent at least thirty minutes with a tape ruler, string, yardstick and a level fitting me to the bike when he helped me get set up last weekend. But even the good German engineer defers to the arcane magical knowledge of one Mr. Zimich...

I am supposed to be racing an 8K in Shaughnessey tomorrow but can't figure out where my lungs are at. I've had a hacking cough, but it's dry and we are at the height of allergy season. I started taking an anti-histamine (made me sleepy) and my nose dried up, but I'm not sure I actually FEEL any better.

My legs feel pretty good, but I have to confess I haven't done any speed work. Did an easy 20K last Sunday and some basic maintainance mileage since. Nothing too strenuous about that...

I am looking forward to using my bike for some serious cross-training and more importantly to get in some all important recovery work outs that will spare my old bones...

So I fired off a note to Mr. Zimich and he promptly answered.

I would like to make an appointment for a Bike Fit.

I have almost no experience cycling, but after having done over twenty marathons and ultramarathons in the past five years, I would like to do an Ironman.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Here is my reply from Larry -

Hi Vince and thanks for the email.

Congrats on your decision for doing an Ironman.

With the accomplishments you have done in the past, this should be very attainable.

Starting off with a properly fit bicycle is the first step. Parameters such as wattage output, aerodynamics and biomechanical efficiency all need to be taken into account and the work that I did last summer out at the UBC wind tunnel with Len Brownlie, who is the man responsible for the road and TT set up of Lance Armstrong among others, confirmed we have the numbers correct with these.

Having no cycling experience is a good position for you to be in, as we don't have to worry too much about old muscle memory that has to be changed.

We need about 2-2.5 hours to complete and I do them here at my place in North Van. Cost is $100 including cleat set up. Good time if you have not changed the cleats on your shoes within the past 6 months to do so at this time.

Any other questions let me know.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Baby Steps

Yikes, the time flies by!

So far this week Michael has been by to set up my bike and I have tried to get my 'sea legs' when it comes to using bike clips. Are they called clips? You know, the funny fabulous funky cycling shoes that fit into the pedals that aren't really pedals...

Anyways, Michael used the analogy of ski bindings and it is an appropriate one. Skiing is another sport where I am always falling on my ass.

I am having all kinds of trouble remembering as I come up to a stop sign or an intersection to unhook a foot. This bike and/or the Ironman is going to kill me one way or another... Michael recommended lots of practising in a parking lot, but I already can see into my future and foretell lots of bumps and bruises. Michael says that this happens to everyone, but that may just be a salve for my ego... Reminds me rather distressingly of the handful of times I've dumped a motorcycle at a stop sign because of a brain cramp. But when practising it is certainly an interesting way to spike my heart rate. May find a new maximum heart rate this way! I feel like I am learning how to walk all over again... Baby steps, Vince. Baby steps!

We had the final dinner and social outing for the Marathon Clinic last night. Seymour, as always, did a bang up job. Few people handle logistics as well as Seymour. And, as per custom, he handed out some amazing awards to people who met their goal times and achieved personal bests. The food and the company last night were/was? excellent and it looked like more people showed up for the dinner than actually ran the marathon in the end. Lots of discussion about ways to limit the drop-out rate next clinic. I still feel pretty strongly that first-timers should be nudged into setting a goal of finishing the marathon injury-free and NOT pursuing a time goal. Hard medicine for some to swallow. Have to love how driven marathoners are as individuals.

This year is shaping up as my 'Year of the Marathon', as marathons in Tofino - the 'Edge to Edge', Smithers, the Queen Charlotte Islands - Skidegate 'Totem-to-Totem', the ultra in Squamish - Stormy 67K Trail Race, Medoc, Kelowna - the Okanagan Marathon and Sacramento are all swirling about. At least three more marathons are definite this year and the Stormy. It will be an interesting way to get my long runs in!!! After Boston, I am saving the next 'all-out' effort for late in the Fall, perhaps Kelowna or Sacremento. I'd like to take a real run at a new personal best...

I have been working in some really dusty conditions the past week, and that and allergy season, plus Cactus and Slim seem to be shedding, has left me wheezing like an old over-the-hill locomotive. Can't tell if it's an actual chest cold or my asthma acting up. And yes, Scooter, I am medicating on a regular basis. Enough whining...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful

These are my new Sugoi 'Carbon' Bike Jerseys... Very swish, the bottom photo is the most accurate in terms of colour reproduction. I figure the Sugoi (made here in Vancouver by the way) jerseys are worth at least 2 or 3 miles per hour in top end speed.

And God, I am so beautiful in this Jersey that it almost makes me tear up. I know, I know, it just isn't fair to the rest of you. If I actually had blue eyes like one Paul Newman, it would be a crime. Fortunately for you, my eyes are brown...

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Pranged, Tweaked, and Bent

On Thursday night I went out for the Personal Best Clinic and pushed in the intervals we were doing. I never got over 80-85% and was good for the two hundred meter intervals but halfway through the first four hundred I felt a twinge. And not a good twinge.

Since Boston back in April, where I pushed through some of the worst cramping and muscle spasms I have ever experienced in a Marathon, I have had a deep quad pull. I think that running through the cramping may have caused a level of injury beyond the usual micro-tears one experiences in a hard marathon. I was able to run the Vancouver Marathon easy, but when going hard I aggravate the deep muscles. Worse yet, the pain soon radiates down my groin, an old injury that I would like best not to repeat any time soon. On one occasion it took a full year to really heal back to hundred percent.

When I pulled up, Steve immediately asked what was wrong. Without thinking, I replied that I had 'pranged' something. That was race car talk for having broken or bent a part of my race car, namely me. All the runners looked at me with dazed looks in their eyes. You have to love those hard-core lifelong racers. They know running and, well, everything else in their lives is kind of secondary. Those of us who toy at racing are not the same. We waste valuable time pursuing other interests - much, I am sure, to the detriment of our finishing times...

So I had to explain, pranged, you know, tweaked, bent - BROKEN! Anyways, I took my pranged, tweaked and bent race car (body) off the track and went for our barbecue. This was a great idea of Steve's that we'll have to steal for the Summer Marathon Clinic. I am not sure that the BBQed burgers and tofu dogs did anything for my injury, but the Sleeman's Pale Ale I washed them down with did wonders for my spirits and certainly for my mood. Alcohol, the cause of all of life's problems and the source of all solutions for life's problems...

A beautiful evening, gorgeous sunset, beer in hand and company I could tolerate - all good things. Dan had some more pictures from Boston (thanks Dan and Jessica!) and all was good. Dragged the leg home. Will try and let the broken bits heal. Did a very easy 20K this morning with no difficulty.

Another couple of months and I may run another easy Marathon!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Gear Junkie - Getting a Fix

I went with Michael yesterday and got the rest of the gear I need to start cycling... Shoes, cycling shorts, jerseys, etc., etc., etc. - I am still recovering from the sticker shock.

As a self-confessed gear junkie, I should have known what to expect.

So here are some pics of my new Shimano SH - R215s. These were actually a deal because they were inventory orphans that were special order stock that was never picked by the customer. Hence, I swooped in and snatched them up. One pair in stock, and they fit me! Or is that just the most tired-ruse in the bike shoe selling game!?!

Pretty fly for a white guy...

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Panhandle Slim's Family - The Missing Links

Based on appearance and behavior, it seems like a pretty safe bet that Panhandle Slim has a Rat Terrier in his woodpile...

"High-pitched yipping when excited" was a dead giveaway...

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Going to the Dawgs

Lets' go, let's go, let's go! The Hemingson Gang. My boys, er, dawgs, live to visit Uncle Tom's farm.

Just had the boys checked out by the Vet and she was suitably impressed with Cactus Jack and Panhandle Slim's condition and demeanor. The Vet even thought that little ole' Cactus was a good breeding bet.

Cactus is unusually sweet-tempered for a Chihuahua and Slim, well, we're still not to sure what Slim is... Supposedly Chihuahua and a genetic experiment gone terribly awry. He bounces like a kangaroo, chews like a beaver, digs like a mole, eats dirt - no, REALLY - and has a cock-eyed perspective on the world all his own. Slim marches to a drum-beat that no one else hears... Me, I suspect a little rat bastard terrier, er, I mean Rat Terrier!

A studly young Cactus Jack Hemingson.

My tail moves so fast it's a blur, Panhandle Slim Hemingson.

Who's my Daddy?
If you can figure out a plausible parentage for this little mixed-heritage speedball, I'll send you a free Vanishing Tattoo DVD,

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Hello, is there anybody home? Does Slimski suspect that he is about to get snipped? Yikes!

The tragic tail, er, tale of what happens when a middle-age man has no children. How can this really be any worse - nay, SAD - than becoming the dreaded cat lady of urban myth?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Acid Test For Runners - A New Look at Lactic Acid

A truly fascinating look at the latest research in the role lactic acid plays in the excercise cycle. Who knew physiology and bio-chemistry could be so scintillating?

I love the premise that hard speed work will actually increase the number of your mitochondria after you build a base of long endurance runs. The best coaches have been instinctively right for decades while the scientists have basically gotten it backwards!

A tip of the hat to all those coaches and athletes whose instictive training methods and keen powers of observation led them by default to the correct training methods.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Next Three Races

8. Running Room Shaughnessy 8k - Sun May 28/06 8:30 am
Kerrisdale Arena, Vancouver
Geoffrey Buttner (604) 739-9182
$15 by May 21, $20 late and day of event, 19&U deduct $3; Short sleeved T-shirt or Tank Top add $11
Scenic Shaughnessy course, great draw prizes, 5k walk, chip timing
Details: - online registration
9. Sandcastle City Classic 10k - Sun Jun 4/06, 9:00 am
Crescent Park Elementary School, White Rock (register at finish area)
Sandcastle Hotline (604) 536-9295
$19 by June 1, $22 late and day of event. T-shirt add $12. Sweatshirt add $35
Beach-front net downhill course, park at finish and bus to start. Grand draw prize mountain bike.
On this site - online registration
10. Longest Day (10k &) 5k - Fri Jun 16/06, 7:45 pm (5k), 10k at 7:00pm
Thunderbird Stadium, UBC Campus, Vancouver
Run Inn (604) 267-7866
$18 by May 16, $23 late, $27 day of race. $5 discount for under 16 yrs on race day. Unisex Hoody in black or red, S, M, L, XL, add $26.
Summer evening race; post-race party. Only the 5k results will score points in the Timex Series.
Details: - online

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Do You Run?

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One of the best parts of running Boston - and I am being completely serious when I say this - was loading up with as much schwag as I could smuggle through Customs (just kidding...). I don't just like my Boston windbreaker, I LOVE my Boston windbreaker. It's the kind of love all out of proportion to the fabric itself. Let's be honest, I adore that little piece of apparel because it's
supposed to announce to the world that I am the member of a reasonably exclusive club. So it's all about elitism, snobbery and vanity. We all want to be noticed. Me, I wanted to be noticed for running in the Boston Marathon. Given what I had to go through to get there, that didn't seem so unreasonable to me. Hell, as a matter of fact, that seemed downright fair!

Supposed to, you ask? Exactly! How so, you ask? Let me explain... I asked my Mother what she wanted for Mother's Day, and she said me! So I shuttled over to Vancouver Island for two days this week. I wore my Boston windbreaker to show Ma what her son had done. True, I got noticed in the Boston windbreaker, but it didn't come off quite the way I had anticipated. In two days, a half dozen people caught my eye and made a comment. It was an ego crippling exercise, let me tell you...

How did you get that jacket? Did you really run the Boston Marathon? Do you know someone in Boston? Are you from Boston? Did you just get back from Boston? AND BEST OF ALL! Do you run?

In a box of Cracker Jacks, you blind old simpleton! Yes, of course I ran Boston! No, actually I picked it up off the street, doesn't it look good on me! Yes, my Uncle Paddy O'Brian sent it to me! Yeah, I'm from Beantown, Lady! I just got BACK from RUNNING the damned Boston Marathon, thank you very much! Do I run? YES, DAMN IT, I RUN ALL THE FREAKING TIME... you, you, you, dizzy old sot!

All of the above of course were my inside voice speaking. Because my outside voice just kept getting quieter and quieter...

Yes, yes, no really, honestly, I just ran the Boston Marathon. Greatest experience of my life...

No, you're right, quite right, no offense taken, no I guess I really don't LOOK like a marathoner, do I? ( damned stick people genetic freaks...)

Added to the crap I had to take in Boston about the football players picking up their shirts at the far end of the line, I am beginning to get a little miffed, let me tell you!

I am just about ready to make marathoning a full contact sport - I'll show those skinny little bastards a thing or two - Ooops, dreadfully sorry, old chap, was that your nose I just hit with my elbow? My word, how clumsy of me, Oops, happened again!?!

Sometimes, even when you're in the club, you're not in the club, know what I mean?

Today I went out to Port Moody to race in an 8K, and while it has been almost a month since Boston, doing Vancouver last Sunday (even in 4:40:01) probably slowed my recovery a little... I ran two minutes slower than my best 8K earlier this Spring, and full four and a half minutes slower than my best 8K last summer. I ran in about 35:30. Great day. Sunny, bright, warm, loads of wonderful people.

Legs were dead flat. Heart rate AVERAGE was 171 and I racked up 185 at the Finish Line. I had no bounce and no drive. The course was undulating and a little too reminiscent of Boston. My legs felt a little tight and the odd ache and pain announced themselves here and there. At the end, AFTER the race, my calves cramped a little but they walked out in about twenty minutes.

Back on the diet tomorrow, and this week, serious cross-training begins with the tri bike!

Weight-wise I am 186 pounds and it is time to head south again on the scale.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Those Post Marathon Blues

My buddy Scooter has felt a big let down after running the Boston Marathon (and not really being happy with his time has compounded the feeling), and a large number of the people I trained with for the Vancouver Marathon have been wondering what to do with themselves now that they all this extra time on their hands. There is a hole in their life where once there was a marathon looming on the horizon. Not to speak of all that time spent running...

Ahhh, the old marathon post-partum blues... I get them after finishing races, books, screenplays, just about anything that you've been devoting a big chunk of your life to completing. It really does go with the territory! It's crucial to stop and take a moment to consider what you have just accomplished, however, and even more important to savour the achievement.

It's important to remember that you are not alone. Having a sense of ennui after finishing a marathon is perfectly normal. You just invested a huge amount of time, effort and passion into something that seemed at times to take over your life. Now it's over. What you need is a new goal or a new direction to take your mind off of what you have just finished.

You need to look forward instead of backwards! Having done more than a dozen marathons - culminating in Boston - and almost that many ultras, I have to say that there are times and days when my running buddies are all that keep me going. It is tough to overestimate the benefits of time spent with people who understand what you are experiencing. And you have the added benefits of getting feedback from people who are like-minded souls and who share your passion for the open trail and the wind in your face. Well, that and the breakfasts after Sunday morning long runs and the pasta meals after speed work!

If you have just finished a marathon, why not seriously consider doing another where you can pass along some of your newfound knowledge? Become a Pace Group Leader. I can not tell you the joy that comes from sharing your knowledge with new runners who are eager to try on a marathon for the first time. With a family it can be tough to find the time, but few things top running with other people who can understand what you're going through.

High mileage can lead to high burnout rates. It's important to give both your body AND your mind time to recover after the rigours of training for a marathon. Why not set your sights on doing some personal bests in some 5Ks and other shorter races? Variety is the spice of life. (I was foolish enough to buy a tri bike!)

But stop to smell the flowers. Put your feet up for a while. You've earned it. And put your marathon medal up on the wall in a prominent place where you can see it. Chances are it will inspire you to take on another challenge in life. And you've already proven you're up to the task!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Made My Day

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Woke up this morning, feeling a little stiff but not too bad at all. Above is my chart for the Vancouver International Marathon. Gun Time, 4:42:52 - Chip Time, 4:40:01.

I had volunteered - well, I was kind of drafted actually... - to be a Pace Bunny for the 4:45 Pace Group.

I had been having nightmares - no, really - all last week in my fever-induced state, that I would not be able to finish the marathon.

I had a GREAT time. Ran with a group of friends and got to make a whole host of new ones along the course.

We started off very easy to allow everybody to get up to operating temperature in the cool conditions and light rain that greeted us Sunday morning - down about ninety seconds after three miles - and then tried to maintain as even as pace as was possible along the marathon course.

After doing Vancouver so many times, I tried to build in a little cushion for people so that they wouldn't have their goal times robbed by doing the Burrard Street Bridge twice in the last eight miles of the race. We crossed the Half in around 2:21:30. Most of the elevation in Vancouver is in the second half of the marathon.

Woke up this morning to find an an absolute treat in my e-mail in-box...

Could you please forward the following email to Vince, the 4:45 pace bunny?

Hi Vince,

Just wanted to say a big thanks for the fantastic pacing job you did for us today.

I was getting pretty tired at the end, but finished at a great time thanks to you!

That in a nut-shell is the best reason in the world to be a Pace Bunny or a Pace Group Leader.

It is such a rare privelege, and so rewarding, to be able to help people achieve their goals and exceed their expectations. The hugs afterwards are worth more than the finishing medals.

I would say that about half of my group were first time marathoners, a few were running for fun and to finish (another person who had just run Boston!) and the rest really wanted to crack five hours.

During the last 10K a few people struggled - but which marathoners don't? - but most toughed it out and the finish was magical.

So for everybody in the 4:45 Pace Group - Pedro, John, Dan, Carol, Megan, Kyle, Larry and everybody else - thank you for allowing me to particpate and to be a small part of your big day. Congratulations on running such a great race.

Welcome to the Marathon Club. You're one in a thousand!

Friday, May 05, 2006

God is in the Details

It is the little things that make all the difference in the world.

This Sunday will be my fifth (sixth?) Vancouver Marathon and the organizers have never really seemed to grasp what a marathon is all about. It's about the runners, stupid!

Of course there is NO real presence or participation of runners in the people who organize the race. How bush league is that?

Every single year there's a complete lack of highly visible mile markers. Kilometre markers are non-existent. (I stand corrected - there are Km markers every 5K) How bush league is that!?!

And it kills me to have to rip my own home town race.

Every year for at least five years, the Vancouver Marathon has pumped out butt-ugly cheap, one hundred percent cotton, long-sleeve t-shirts as the Marathon souvenir shirt. That's useful for a runner...

I almost gag at the end of every race when I have to stand in line after running the marathon to pick mine up. I have, after all, paid for it. Generally, they're too ugly to even wash your car with.

Runners have been telling them for years to make the marathon shirts out of technical fibre so that the shirt is actually worth having AND WOULD EVEN PROVIDE FREE FUCKING ADVERTISING FOR THE VANCOUVER MARATHON EVERY TIME YOU WORE IT!

Yet year after year there has been competition between the Victoria and Vancouver Marathons to produce the ugliest, least attractive, and most utterly useless souvenir marathon shirts imaginable. Victoria's specialty is a sweat-shirt that your Great-Grandmother would buy in the Gift Shop of the Empress Hotel. We are talking truely hideous stuff, children.

Vancouver lost Adidas as a sponsor this year (how bad do you have to be to fuck that up, I ask?) who have been replaced by the Bank of Montreal.

Oh, my God! Are there winds of change sweeping through Christendom?????

Yeah, Vancouver Marathon BoM branded technical shirts are available!


You want SIXTY FUCKING DOLLARS for a long-sleeve, no-name brand technical shirt!?!



It gets worse, kiddies. The topper! Yes, folks it gets better. I kid you not, they EMBROIDERED the FUCKING LOGO all over the technical gear!!!

Not only that, but to torture runners and conceivably get them to shut up forever, they EMBROIDERED the FUCKING LOGO on the chest, almost perfectly positioned so that it is guaranteed to rub your one good nipple raw.

What this really means is that the organizers of the Vancouver Marathon ARE TOO FUCKING BRAIN DEAD to actually consult with people who actually RUN to have them consult on the gear....

If it is good enough for the Boston Marathon, the BAA, and Adidas to SCREEN-PRINT the hallowed "unicorn" BAA logo on technical gear, it should be damn well good enough for Bush-League By the Sea, BC.

But that requires thinking, planning, foresight and KNOWLEDGE ABOUT RUNNING.

Here's a couple of management mantras for Vancouver's marathon managerial morons...




And by the way, not only did the Vancouver Marathon organizers manage to blow-off Adidas - in favour of a BANK! - they managed to lose sponsorship from BOTH POWERBAR and GATORADE!!!

I wonder if those witless wonders in charge, those meandering Morons, those simpering simpletons have ever had to choke back Ultima and puke up Vectors Bars. That's right - in the middle of a marathon, these retards in charge of the race are HANDING OUT VECTOR BARS TO MARATHON RUNNERS.....


That's hysterical laughter by the way.

These people are so witless it's laughable.

But it's their arrogance which is the most staggering aspect of the debacle they call the Vancouver Marathon. I myself have had any number of e-mails and phone calls go completely unanswered over the years. Many other runners have told me the same thing happened to them. Five years ago I offered to volunteer and work for FREE. Never got a call back.

World-class marathons recognize that it is the runners who are the most important aspect of the event. They do after all, actually RUN THE RACE! What a concept.

The runners are the marathon organizer's customers and clients.

The Vancouver Marathon has the worst customer service of any marathon I have ever participated in and/or witnessed. Most other experienced Vancouver runners say the same thing. Many Vancouver runners have such complete and total disdain for the Vancouver Marathon that they don't even CONSIDER running in their home town race. They would rather go elsewhere.

And finally, if you are going to stage an event in what is widely considered one of the most beautiful cities on the face of the entire freaking planet, did you all have to go and smoke pot or drop acid before laying out what has to be one of the most stageringly unimaginative and boring routes through the crappiest and shittiest parts of downtown Vancouver.

Good one. Good organization. Good planning. Great management.

Please, Elite. Please come to Vancouver and please put these miserable bastards out of a job!

This is how you organize a marathon for the benefit of the runners -

Then maybe Vancouver can have the Marathon it really and truly deserves!

Like to send your own comments and suggestions in to the Vancouver International Marathon?

Look no further:

Vancouver International Marathon
Tel: (604) 872-2928
Fax: (604) 872-2903
Mail: Box 3213, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6B 3X8
Official website:

Janet Anderson
Event Manager

In person: South Tower, 2nd Floor, M Level
1601 Bayshore Drive
Vancouver, BC V6G 2V4, Canada

Don't hold your breath waiting to hear back from them. I have run AND spoken with the Event Manager, Janet Anderson in the past. A little like communicating with a brick wall...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Side By Each

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The purpose of posting my last two hard marathons (done at race pace), in Kelowna (3:29:39) and in Boston (3:30:38), side by side was to illustrate a point that came out in a series of ongoing discussions we've been having in the marathon clinic about the importance of pacing (sounds like a Shaw play).

The times for my two marathons, and my heart rate averages and heart rate maximums, Kelowna (156/167) and Boston (157/173) are remarkably similar. Based on a Maximum Heart Rate of 200 BPM, in Kelowna my average heart rate was 78% of my Max, and my maximum heart rate was 83.5% (but I did see 178 or 89% at the finish). In Boston my average heart rate was 78.5% of my Max, and my maximum heart rate was 86.5%.

The two courses, however, could not be more different. Unfortunately, because of a brain cramp on my part, I ran Kelowna without sufficient memory in my Polar S625X to record the last twenty minutes of the race. If that had happened, I am sure you would have seen a slightly higher heart rate average in Kelowna, than in Boston. I averaged about 168 for the last three K and crossed the Finish Line at 178.

Most people have suggested to me that Boston is a significantly more difficult course, a proposition I tend to agree with. Probably in the neighbourhood of six-eight minutes for runners in my category - 3-4 minutes for the world-class elite athletes. I did Kelowna on October 9, 2005 and Boston, April 17, 2006. My bodyweight was within a couple of pounds for both races, low to mid 180's.

Total elevation change in Kelowna is barely a few hundred feet, with only two long, relatively gentle hills, and a third "bump". Boston has well over eight hundred feet in elevation changes, first a precipitous drop down, as you race to the coast, and then up, and up and up and then up again in Newton, culminating in the dramatically named Heartbreak Hill. Boston is an emotional and elevation roller-coaster. The entire course undulating along its path. I prepared as much as I could for Boston by increasing my overall training mileage and ramping up my Hill and speed workouts. I bettered my Half Marathon time this Spring from a 1:41:28 last year to 1:34:07.

The point I tried to make in comparing the charts was that if you took out the elevation line in the two charts, you would probably have a hard time telling which marathon was which (thank you again to the fine folks at Polar!).

The marathon rewards patience and race strategy. Pacing is everything. You have to be prepared not only to press your pace when warranted, but you must know when to hold your speed, strength and reserves in check. Respect the race, respect the distance. Run within yourself and with discipline and you will be rewarded. You want to run out of gas just past the Finish Line, not a few miles before...


If you're a marathoner for any length of time on the West Coast, and of any sense, I hasten to add, you learn to hone your weather-eye. I am still staggered by the numbers of runners who will show up for a long Sunday run that is going to last for hours and they are utterly unprepared for the conditions that they will face. This goes beyond carelessness and neglect, in the case of real weather extremes, to bordering on the stupid. Me, I'm a wimp. Maybe it's the fact that I'm a Leo. God knows, most cats hate the water. The very thought of me running in the rain for a few hours and I immediately think of things like gloves, hats and a rain-shell - either a jacket or a vest.

Why this now? Because it looks like I have an 80% chance this Sunday of running for four hours and forty-five minutes in "light rain". This is good news. Yesterday, they were predicting a hundred per cent chance of precipitation for Sunday. And the temperature prediction has gone up several degrees. So my chances of dying from hypothermia mere days after surviving my near death viral experience, is a little ray of sunshine...

But trying to get some runners to equip themselves with a cheap hat and a pair of 99 cent gloves that they have the option of tossing away is sometimes like pulling eye-teeth. But I guess a die-off of stupid runners is one way to improve the gene pool... Of course, should these runners survive the rain, wet and cold to make it to summer, they will be the same ones who try to do twenty mile runs in 75 degree heat without a water bottle...

Why do I care? Well, I
have to care. Try as I might, I just can't help myself. Honestly, what kind of Pace Group Leader or Pace Bunny would you be if you didn't want to see the people you run with get the most out of the experience with the greatest degree of enjoyment possible. And as always, I can say that, weather-wise, I have been there and done that. I have been on the borderline of hypothermia in extremely treacherous mountain conditions where my life depended on me doing the smart and not the stupid thing and I have done 70K ultramarathon trail races in the middle of August in temperatures that soared to the upper 80s.

The paradox of course is that endurance runners are highly individualistic, driven, independent, and often with highly-developed little egos and senses of self and yet when running with a group or in a race we are all merely part of a larger collective. Endurance runners hate to be told what to do. They (I) all think they (I) know best. But of course the ends of marathons races and the adjoining medical tents are littered with runners who knew it all. It's an interesting race strategy to not drink enough water, not take enough gels, to go out too fast, to run a race when you haven't trained properly, and to not prepare for the weather conditions on race day. And I love the runners, who, when injured, ignore the pain and run through it. Wow! Man, that is fucking
GENIUS at work!

The thing about running in a group is that you have to submerge your ego, or at least keep it in check, long enough to consider the possibilities that your actions may have an impact on everyone else. In a marathon race, what is the cost of stupidity? Despite all the volunteers in a race, medical tents are not free. They are part of the cost of the event. As a Pace Group Leader over the years I have had to arrange for taxis and ambulances to deal with runners who have become injured. Interestingly, a closer examination of the injuries, accidents and incidents reveals that nearly
ALL of them occurred at the ends of long runs and involved runners who weren't properly conditioned, hydrated, fueled, or who were running over their heads with a group of runners that were too fast for them to keep up with over a long haul. My experience is that you can't tell these people what to do, and they certainly won't listen to you. But in the end, when something happens to them, you have to take care of them. You have to. It's the right thing to do. But it is a fascinating window into human behavior and ego...

Why the Sermon? Because all of the above is preventable. And the absolute
BEST part? Cool temperatures with a light rain on marathon day translate into fast times. Just be prepared. Even Formula One race cars, whose drivers have arguably the largest testicles on the face of the planet, come equipped with rain tires. And the Formula One teams with the best pit crews and the best rain strategy win the races when it rains...



Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Surviving in the Trenches...

After being hit with the intestinal tornado I am hunkered down in my apartment trying to do everything in my power to help my immune system do battle with the bug that has invaded my body. I have dug in, sent out for supplies and equipped my troops with everything I can think of...

I am Immodiumed and Pepto-Bismoled up the ying-yang - a phrase for once both figurative and literal. So much Pepto-Bismol that I was kind of surprised that I am not crapping out perfect little pink marshmallow shaped turds. In honour of the Pepto Brigade, I have decided to run their colours up my flag! And just what is so fascinating about a bowel-movement by the way, that compells us to turn around and check the bowl? Pride at the achievement? Some kind of sick curiousity? Horror about what lurks within?

I am on a diet so pure and bland it makes me want to weep, but more importantly not throw up, not an unimportant consideration. My appetite has gone AWOL in the face of this attack, but I have mustered up the necessary resolve to ingest a bare minimum of nutrients to counter-attack the depletions ravaged upon my body by incessant vomiting and diarrhea (one "r" or two?).

I will confess to being a terrible patient. I am already cranky and miserable at the best of times, and being sick does not bring out the best in me. The only thing rising to the occasion is my gorge. But then again, who likes being sick? Me, I'm sort of like the old dawg who just to wants to crawl under the front porch and die. But after the umpteenth trip to the porcelain throne, I have gone from that place where you hope you're not going to die, to thinking it might not be so bad after all, especially with all those fluffy white clouds and a pair of fancy wings waiting for you. Or conversely, if you want to consider all the possibilities, at least being warm all the time. And how could Hell possibly be any worse than rush hour traffic or reading a book supposedly written by John Stanton?

Back to the War. My Allies have rallied to my side. Upon cancelling a series of meetings - and the damn Blog is a little like my daily smoke signal - once the news got out I had friends offering to protect my supply lines and I soon had a stream of convoys in place to the drugstore and supermarket. Saints and angels all...

A lovely Pharmacist even recommended Gatorade, a use for the product which I had never considered before but which made perfect sense. Puking and marathoning - it's all about the electrolytes. My two favorite foods have become the most expensive yogurt that money can buy - my God, is this stuff made by vestal virgins using golden cooking utensils? - and vanilla puddings packs, a product which I can not remember having sampled in about three decades. Seemed a little extravagant to order out for Creme Brulee though...

My sole movements in almost forty-eight hours have been bed, couch, toilet, bed, couch, toilet, bed, couch, toilet, literally ad nauseum... My few ventures outside have been fraught with terror, always wondering where the nearest rest room can be located. I shuffle along like an old pensioner, using what little strength I have left to maintain some kind of feeble control on my sphincter muscles...

My body is slowly retracting into a kind of pathetic permanent fetal position. I ache in every bone and joint, especially my hip joints and my back, but it does feel as if the worst is over. The tide of the battle may finally have turned. The only problem is that I now have the strength of the weakest kitten in the litter...

Boy, Yippee!, I want to rush out and run a marathon this weekend!!!!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sick as Dog

I have not been feeling well for a couple of days. Not well at all! I had a decent run on last Wednesday, mostly doing laps while the rest of the marathon clinic finished off their last 800M repeats, good old Yassos, ten in all.

I went out fast for a few, but no more than that. The next day I was astonishingly stiff. Almost as sore as I had been after Boston. And I was fighting off muscle stiffness all through the weekend. Usually I recover much faster than that. I was also a little off my feed and needing to sleep more. A harbinger of worse things to come...

On Saturday and Sunday I had trouble keeping warm, even in the bright sunshine. As Sunday wore on, I began suffering excruciating stomach cramps and pain that would nearly double me over when they hit.

I restricted my diet to gingerale, chamomile tea and chicken broth and soda crackers. Then right after dinner, whatever was lurking hit me full force. Despite having nothing in me really, I could not stop vomiting and at the other end, well, let's just say my body has been trying to turn itself inside out...

By now I was alternating between freezing and shivering and shaking nearly uncontrollably, even under three quilts - and sweating profusely with a high fever. At the end of the night I was like the Princess and the Pea, sleeping on a growing pile of towels as I soaked one after the other in sweat. I began to seriously worry about dehyradtion, but could barely keep down water. I've lost almost ten pounds in the last twenty-four hours.

In a bid to get warm, even for a moment of repite, I tried to take a hot shower. A wave of nausea and light-headedness came over me and I started to fall, slumping down the wall of my shower, trying to slow my speed as I crashed into the tub.

Don't think it was anything I ate, because no else I know of is going through this. Must be a stomach virus. Not uncommon for a hard marathon to batter the old immune system enough to leave you vulnerable to a bug.

Not a little unworried with only six days until the Vancouver Mrathon and I'm supposed to be a Pace Bunny for a group of 4:45 hopefuls...

Having nightmares about not making it to the Finish Line in time. Yikes!