Thursday, August 31, 2006


On the plane trip to Paris, as they dimmed the cabin lights, I found it nearly impossible to read.

Forget "nearly". With the lights dimmed I could no longer read my book...

In a futile act of vanity, I had not brought my reading glasses with me.

So I was forced today, especially given the low light conditions of most of the cafes and bars I find myself in, to go into a Pharmacy and buy a cheap pair of reading glasses. It was an act of survival.

Fortunately for my ego, the young lady in charge of the place exclaimed endlessly to all within earshot that she could not believe I was a day over forty.

Some people will do anything for money...

I have to admire her.

Bits and Bites

Yesterday, i worked out that I walked about 20K around Paris. So much for not running 10K yesterday in the rain!

Today I logged 12K in the bridle or horse paths in the Bois de Boulogne, a very famous wooded park in Paris - well, on the outskirts actually. I did the distance in about 57 minutes, so it was nice to get in a fast run.

I saw rabbits, pheasant, deer tracks and lots of dogs. There were even a few other runners. It was hot and the humidity had to up there, so it was wonderful to run in the shade and be reminded of Stanley Park.

In the evening Bois de Boulogne is as popular as ever, although better known as a place to arrange a rendezvous with one of the many transvestite prostitutes.

The French keyboard is still taking time to get used to, but it is fabulous to work on a Mac!

I have not crashed once while online here, although it gets a little slow occasionally, and it takes me awhile to figure out what Steve Jobs and Apple had in mind with a few of the keys...

Still, I think I am having my technological revelation on the Road to Medoc!

I was asked in a post whether it was even POSSIBLE to run a marathon while drinking wine...

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE with enough commitment! Wine should be a piece of cheese after having done marathons and Ultramarathons in a kilt and combat boots!

I have played MANY rounds of golf, baseball games and pick-up football games while heavily soused...

True enough this will
be done over a much longer period of time while expending a lot more physical energy...

Frankly, I'm not THAT worried. I have my kilt and the rest of my costume, my face paint, my feather head dresss and my attitude.

Numerous stops for wine and cheese just seems totally appropos under those circumstances. Of course, it will be interesting to see how Seymour and Nathalie and Jacquie hold up, or should I say, it will be interesting to see if they can hold it in?

Now I am off to Montmartre and Sacre Couer.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Life is a Fantasy...

After days of drinking copious quantities of wine a Paris, I welcomed a little geek time with my very good buddy Paul.

Paul, a straightforward Englishman if ever there was one - but granted with a spectacular sense of humour - works as an IT guy for a humungous French firm. He married a fabulously beautiful French girl after all... Rather than spend another night out drinking, Paul cooked a nice little meal and we settled in front of his MAC, while I beguiled him with stories of a site called Okay, Okay, we did have a couple of bottles of wine along the way...

I knew Paul wouldn' t be able to resist.

One look at the avatar I had created - Thor McDonnagh - and Paul, howling with laughter had no choice but to jump in and create a little Gallic weasle named Frenchie Lamourfou ;

Enough already about the names. saddles you with a last name and you have to pick a first.

So we logged on for a few hours, had a few howls, marveled at the very IDEA of living a fictious life online, wrote a little code and made complete asses of ourselves.

The best part of course was doing something so ridiculous while in Paris!!!

In the meantime, today dawned sunny and clear in Paris; I logged my obligatory time in the Louvre and tramped up and down the Champs Eylesses - spelling?

Til tomorrow, mon amis!!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Singin' in the Rain

Gene Kelly is probably best remembered for shuffling his way through Singin' in the Rain and An American in Paris in his own inimitable style. Here in Paris I think they have got the plots slightly confused...

July was the apparently the hottest July in a hundred years. August, normally the hottest month of the year in France, is the wettest and coldest in another hundred years' memory. Just my luck...

I actually went out and bought an umbrella - une parapluie - to keep from getting soaked to the skin, which has happened each day I`ve been here. And I mean soaked. I haven't seen torrential downpours like this since Southeast Asia.

I do like paying three or four Euros for very decent red winee in the supermarket, however!

The French tax the hell out of cigarettes but it would be political suicide to do it on alcohol. Of course that doesn't mean I haven't ingested more second hand smoke than I thought imaginable.

For those of you who are famimiar with the novel; "A Year in the Merde", I have managed to maneuver around all the dog turds on the sidewalk.

I last ran 16K on Friday and I've meant to run on each of the last two days, but the relentless rain has significantly dampened my enthusiasm.

I am delighted to note that a great deal more of my meagre supply of French vocabulary is surfacing this trip than is normally the case.

Regardless, mon bon ami Paul il fait cuisine. Bon appettite. Or something like that.... !!!

Au revoir; Mes Amis!

Singin' in the Rain

Gene Kelly is probably best remembered for shuffling his way through Singin' in the Rain and An American in Paris in his own inimitable style. Here in Paris I think they have got the plots slightly confused...

July was the apparently the hottest July in a hundred years. August, normally the hottest month of the year in France, is the wettest and coldest in another hundred years' memory. Just my luck...

I actually went out and bought an umbrella - une parapluie - to keep from getting soaked to the skin, which has happened each day I`ve been here. And I mean soaked. I haven't seen torrential downpours like this since Southeast Asia.

I do like paying three or four Euros for very decent red winee in the supermarket, however!

The French tax the hell out of cigarettes but it would be political suicide to do it on alcohol. Of course that doesn't mean I haven't ingested more second hand smoke than I thought imaginable.

For those of you who are famimiar with the novel; "A Year in the Merde", I have managed to maneuver around all the dog turds on the sidewalk.

I last ran 16K on Friday and I've meant to run on each of the last two days, but the relentless rain has significantly dampened my enthusiasm.

I am delighted to note that a great deal more of my meagre supply of French vocabulary is surfacing this trip than is normally the case.

Au revoir; Mes Amis!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Nouveau Message

AHHH, the beauty of French keyboards. I have only screamed once or twice in frustration....

I love charter airlines. You can never take anything for granted. But ZOOM is still far superior to Air Canada at half the price. Still, charging you for the headphones to watch the movies smacks of extortion::: Even if you do get to keep them. I must have a dozen different head sets that I ALWAYS forget to drag along on the freakin airplane...

BIG MOMMA 2 may well be one of the worst films of all time. And while FAILURE TO LAUNCH is hardly a cinematic masteroiece it is hardly as bad as most film critics described it.

And AKILLA AND THE BEE was worth a good weep...

It has been raining steadily in Paris since I arrived.

I never slept on the plane and by the time I found a bed I had been up for 28 straight hours. At five in the afternoon, I lay down for what I thought would be a short nap before dinner. I slept for five hours...

So at ten I dragged myself out of bed for a later dinner and a bottle of red wine. After all, when in France...

At Midnight I staggered back to bed and slept until Noon, which is practically unheard of for me. I guess the last ten days of working around the clock had finally caught up with me. And the torrents of raining beating a tempo on the window panes was very soothing and lulled me into a luxurious dream-filled sleep.

Now to wander the streets of Paris. I have secured my train tickets to Bordeaux and London and I think it is time for a Museum and another bottle of wine, or maybe a little pastis...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

And After...

Thanks once again to my semi-professional photographers, Justin and Patrick...

These photos were taken about two and a half weeks after I finished the 45 days of treatment with Efudex.


And it is always nice to be surrounded by wonderful people, even if their taste in friends is a little sketchy.

Thank you again to everyone for your birthday wishes and for my rather uniquely Vince-like strung out birthday celebrations.

I know, I know, I'm a drama queen and I certainly like to draw things out as long as possible...

And for the next month I will be in France. I will try to post comments on my Blog as often as I am able. Remember, however, I am, after all, technology challenged...

Few marathons are in a class of their own. Le Marathon des Chateaux du Medoc on September 9, 2006 is one. Routed through 59 vineyards in the fabled villages of the Medoc region, this event appeals to the true connoisseur of fine runs. Where else do they ask you at the aid stations, "red or white Madame?". Thankfully, there is plain water if you so choose.

The course reads more like a wine list than a race course: Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Lynch-Bages, Pichon Lonqueville, Beychevelles among others. Accommodations are always a problem since the 8,000 runners overwhelm the small villages directly north of Bordeaux.

This trip appeals to those as interested in stimulating their palate as well as their hamstrings. Chateaux visits with wine tasting are scheduled in Pauillac, St. Julien, Margaux, St. Emilion and Cognac.

This celebration of wine and running is a blend of comedic exercise unique to the French. Where else could you be passed by a bunch of grapes, a cork and Cirano de Bergerac in a staggering sprint to the finish?

Cheers, Mes Amis!

Thursday, August 24, 2006


This what I looked like in the morning when we were up in Skidegate in the Queen Charlotte Islands... Days 34 - 39 of the good 'ole Efudex treatment. Skin Cancer, gotta luv it!

I am not an animal, I AM A MAN! Well, not really, but I try....

Yeah, it felt about as good as I look in this picture. The swelling was quite bizarre. The waking up every two hours in the middle of the night in excruciating agony and bleeding all over my sheets not so much. For a month I slept on a towel. That felt great!

Just a little wired on pain-killers and alcohol, and exhausted... This was after flying to the Queen Charlotte's - which meant getting up at 4:00 AM - eight hours of fishing for Chinook (of course I caught more than anyone else) and then a long night of... well, it's all kind of blurry now.

Thank you, Patrick for capturing the best sides of one Vincent Errol Hemingson.

During my treatment I ran two marathons and a week after I ran the Stormy 64K Ultramarathon Trail Race. Yes, I really AM as dumb as a sack of hammers.

The 45 days of treatment were the longest 45 days of my life. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It's surprising how often I find myself saying those words... Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pond Jumping

I finished chemotherapy on my face three weeks ago, and I look amazingly normal again. As normal as I'm ever going to look that is...

Having cleared the last few "hurdles", I have another examination in October, and then, all things being equal, I should be good for the immediate future. After all, who amongst us really knows when their "Best Before Date" is?

I am jumping the pond, also known as the North Atlantic and heading to France this Saturday - first Paris, then Bordeaux, before finishing in London - for a solid month. The ostensible purpose of the trip is to run the Medoc Marathon. Mostly now I think of it as an opportunity to replenish my soul and revive my spirit. It would be nice to recover a little ambition and drive along the way as well. I find myself curiously at loose ends these days, not sure what I want to do next or even where I want that to be.

Part of me thinks it might be a good time for a geographical change. I have itchy feet and find travel tremendously invigorating and stimulating.

Maybe it's time to change my address.

Over the past four months I have put on a somewhat ludicrous twenty-five pounds, just in case I found out I had just six months or something ridiculous like that to live, and I sure as Hell wasn't going to stop at the first bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon! Or refuse a proffered piece of cheese cake, or another round of beers. You have to live before you can die! And lying around the Bat Cave all day waiting for the sun to set probably added a kilo or two. And let's face it, good food is simply comforting. And everything takes on a rosier hue when you wash it down with a frosty beverage.

So, now that I am living and apparently going to continue to live, I have to get on with my life. Or what passes for my life.

In the meantime, I am working like crazy and glad to be back on my feet. I still dodge the sun, and having always looked forward to sunsets, appreciate them all the more these days...

Friday, August 18, 2006

With Friends Like These...

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With friends like these, who needs family?

I had a little birthday celebration on Thursday, graciously hosted by Justin, who also put on a mean barbeque although in the end, I did have to show the kids how to properly grill meat. It comes with age and experience...

Justin, in hommage to my hardware-whoring ways, reached back in time about a year to the Bowen Island, Run For the Ferry Incident. This was when we ran a 10K and mistakenly thought - me that is - a box of medals was for all the finishers. I ignored the fact that the only medals I saw were on toddlers and grabbed a pair for Justin and myself. Until a little girl mentioned that they were only for runners twelve and under. And that was chronological age, not demonstrated maturity.

Justin contacted the organizers of the Bowen Island race and got me a medal... for my Birthday.

This is something that only a Smithers Mountain Madness Marathon Open Male Champion would do... It makes me a little misty even thinking about it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Profile of a Long Day

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Check out the Ascent numbers, or feet climbed - 5040. I also burned 7,341 calories. Over nine hours and thirty-six minutes.

The beer afterwards, nectar.

The steak and potatoes, glorious.

Two days later, my feet still hurt. But no blisters. Just bruises from rocks.

I must admit that the past three months have taken a lot more out of me than I thought, nay, that I'm loathe to admit. I'd never fallen before in a trail race - tripped many times before of course - but always managed to recover before I kissed dirt. This past Saturday I just didn't have the leg strength, or quickness to keep from eating gravel after a few hours. I bloodied and banged up both knees and an elbow. One knee is particularly bad.

The last two hours the only reason I could continue was not to let down, or slow down, any of the group I was running with. On my own, I seriously would have considered dropping out at the last Aide Station after about seven and a half hours.

Now I just want to go to Bordeaux and the south of France and ease through the Medoc Marathon. I have a few more test results to come, and honestly, I think my competitive fires have been banked for a while.

I can't imagine what kind of training I would have to do to get back to my form this Spring. The idea of doing an Ironman next year seems to have fizzled. It no longer holds the allure it did just a few months ago.

AND having to lose twenty-five pounds to get into fighting trim...

But God it was beautiful out there on the trails, in the mountains, with good friends and views over valleys that took your breath away.

Appreciate what you have.

Remorse, but no regrets...

Puppies, Puppies and More Puppies!

Stormy Streak Alive

I am too tired to type....

On Saturday I finished my third Stormy 64K Ultramarathon Trail Race.

I ran with a great group of friends, for two of whom, the Stormy Race was the longest they had ever run in their lives. I did try to take it easy - given what I have been going through the last three months - with an average heart rate of 135 over a period of nine hours and 36 minutes - 9:36:20. I was about two hours slower than last year, where my average heart rate was 155 over 7:32.

I ate a full plate of whoop-assed...

So, due to my embarassing lack of commitment to this Blog and a testament to the weariness of my ass, and until I can write more, I am substituting - for the time being at least - my first Stormy Tale.

More words to come.

And oh yeah, there will be puppy pictures soon!

Friday, August 11, 2006

An Extravaganza of Puppies

I know it's hard to tell from this scan of an actual X-ray, but there are six puppies in Pippa, courtesy of Cactus Jack. Side View.

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Top View.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Weather Forecast for Saturday Ultramarathon...

Creaky Bones and Wet Feet

I awoke to drizzling rain and a chill wind blowing through my bedroom window.

I rolled out of bed and hopped across an icy cold floor.

Damn it, it's the beginning of August!

I dressed to do an easy 10K, poked my nose outside, shivered, and went back inside, waiting for the rain to stop.

Still waiting hours later.

I train all winter in driving rain in Vancouver.

Come Summer, I don't want to get my feet wet...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Just a Big Pussy Cat

Yesterday, as you may have ascertained, was my birthday and I am hungover.

Very hungover.

I did not go out, but I did stay home and drink some VERY good red wine that I bought myself because I was under the distinct impression while in the liquor store that I was
very deserving of it.

Therefore, rather than actually going to the trouble of writing my OWN Blog, I am going to rip off several friends who forwarded me my Astrological goods for the eighth day of the eighth month this year and apparently what the next twelve months portends for me as well!

Usually I would be in terror at such a prospect but - these little Horoscopes are harmless.

I have had a couple of Horror-scopes done on my birthday, including a memorable one in front of a large collection of my closest friends, including my girlfriend at the time, who I thought I would subsequently marry and who would one day soon be the Mother of my yet to be born children.

Said Astrologer, who goes to great lengths to do these things, had numerous charts and actual graphs assembled with him to back up his assertions - much of it high-lighted and underlined with different coloured markers...

And this Astrologer was adamant about knowing the exact time of my birth - to the second if possible - where and when I popped out, and what International Time Zone I was in when I emerged triumphant from my Mother's womb.

I only wish I were kidding about this, but every word of what follows is the Gods Honest Truth.

As they say in the flicks, I have witnesses.

In front of the assembly - and the woman I thought would be the future Mrs. Hemingson - the Astrologer (who has actually claimed to love me like a brother) commenced his reading. But not before a loooonnnnggg theatrical pause, a deeply furrowed brow, sad eyes and an earnest proclaimation that he almost didn't know where to start to begin to describe my Astrological Chart because it was the most frightening instrument he had ever laid eyes on in over three decades of doing charts.

In short order I was described as having the most frightening Astrological chart since one Adolf Hitler. That's right, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am hosting this birthday party, the actual Guest of Honour, indeed I am paying for the food and drink being consumed by this man who claims to love me like a brother, and he has just compared me to the Head of the Third Reich.

But it get's better. Or worse I guess depending on your perspective. I will confess - indeed admit - that the Astrologer in question had his audience in the palm of his hand. They listened with rapt attention as my every character fault was dissected at great length, and which Star, Moon, Planet, Sun and conjunction was responsible for it. I was, in short, an utterly horrific, dictatorial, meglomanical bastard with lovers too numerous to account for if one used all the grains of sand on a very sizeable beach. If I had to use a short term, I guess it would be - Vince Hemingson - Fascist Whore. Okay, maybe not that bad. Vince Hemingson, Tyrant Slut.

The birthday party howled with laughter. As would I have, I am sure, had I not been the focus of the attention, bearing the full brunt of the worst Astrological Chart since Adolf Hitler. The ONLY person NOT laughing was the vivacious blonde with the luminescent green eyes seated beside me who I was so completely smitten with that I was hoping to spend the rest of my life with her. She, she was not laughing. She was not, in fact, even the slightest bit amused. I protested to no avail at the traits and character flaws that the Astrologer, apparently just warming to his task, continued to pile at my feet.

Long story short. I turned 46 yesterday a bachelor.

Here now, are the short versions I can at least live with, or at the very least, survive!

If you are born 8 August.

It is a year of reunions, homecoming, embracing old love in new ways and finding new love that feels familiar. Wrap up a work project in the next two weeks so you can start to enjoy the mighty pay-offs. Your social life picks up in September. Social events are for making financial connections in November. Gemini and Pisces people are huge fans.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

If Your Birthday Is Today. Actor Dustin Hoffman (1937) shares your birthday.

You're extremely creative and multi-talented. Your challenge is figuring out what you want to be when you grow up. Whatever you do, you embrace completely and totally. You are hardworking, responsible and reliable. However, you need considerable stimulation and diversity in your life. The year ahead will be unusually social, pleasant, and conducive to happy relationships.

If You Were Born August 8, 1960

If you had to you could probably strangle a 300-pound leopard with your bare hands. You are that unstoppable. For that matter, you could also probably stare down your mortal enemy, pulverize any object in your path or demolish anything that stands between you and what you want in life. You can probably win any game that you play. You are a dynamo. In fact, I foresee only one problem. You may be buzzing with so much power that you'll fritter it away on trivial or merely exhibitionist tasks. Instead of being a bull in a china shop, use all that formidable strength of character and determination to achieve greatness. The coming year is very good for you financially and for completing old projects. This may be the year when you find happiness of the heart. An old flame reappears and sees you in a new light. If your ego and pride are not pierced by the arrows of the Lady Archer, a Sagitarius is the perfect foil for your temperment. She is every bit your match, but she will want you to prove you are hers.

See? Not one mention of Adolf Hitler!

Hell, I practically come across as a big pussycat!~

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Present to Myself

Happy Birthday to Me!

The eighth day of the eighth month finally arrived.

Thank you so much for all the cards, phone calls, e-mails, bizarre flash creations in the strange new cyberspace universe and all the general well wishes, merriment and birthday greetings sent my way.

They are all very much appreciated.

I'll bet my dear sweet Mom is astonished I actually saw 46...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Top Gear

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Thank you Dogfish Dave for re-focusing some of the training areas of my brain.

After much musing and a nagging curiousity that I could not put to rest, I went back to my heart rate data from yesterday's 10K Race in Squamish. I am a little curious that I spent the last 17 and a half minutes of the 10K ABOVE my average heart rate of 167 without going past my lactate threshold.

An analysis of my Polar S625X sampling data actually shows that I spent significantly more time at 176-178 that I had previously thought, almost a full ten minutes. And yet my breathing was pretty easy until I started to close in on 178-180, or about 90% of my maximum heart rate.

And I still had enough for a strong 200 metre kick at the end.

I SHOULD have bonked somewhere in there! And I can't come up with an answer that makes any real sense to me, why I didn't. Except perhaps for the plethora of five hour marathons I have been piling up in my mileage bank.

To me, the utterly unique thing is, that as I awake on the morning on the eve of my 46th birthday, I feel no ill effects
whatsoever from yesterdays's effort. No muscle soreness or stiffness to speak of. NONE. It is a paradox.

And this after having basically run flat out after BALLOONING to a weight of 206 pounds, which has to have put me in the body fat percentage range of at least 24 0r 25%.

Some possibilities to ponder.

By running with my friend for the first five kilometres, I was completely relaxed. I think that has to be one of the keys. And our time at the 5K mark was 24:30 on the nose. At a steady pace I would have finished in around 49 minutes, but I was able to pick up the pace by a minute and a half over the last 5K. So, after a warm-up 5k, I ran a 22:55 final 5K.

My training for months now has emphasized the easy - NOT pounding and beating my body up week in and week out. I am always fully recovered, with none of the nagging aches and pains that plagued me after the Boston Marathon this spring.

I had been feeling some guilt and depression - actually a lot of guilt and depression - about putting on so much weight in the past three months.

But I was also determined to gorge on life as much as possible under the circumstances. It was kind of a Fuck You! to skin lesions and cancer and Efudex and Life and Death and my thumbing my nose at the Universe.

Rather than choosing one of of the following;

A. Running
B. Training
C. Moderation
D. Gluttony
E. Hedonism
F. Decadence

Instead I chose G.

Also known affectionately as all of the above.

Just because I am turning 46 tomorow don't think for an instance that I am any more mature than when I turned ten.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cranking It Up Again

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I woke up this morning at 6:00 AM and after a quick cup of coffee slathered on the 60 Sunblock. I pulled my Boston Marathon cap on for good luck and inspiration. Then I jumped in my sports car and hit the open highway. I was a man on a mission.

For the first time in nearly three months I ran a hard race. My average heart rate over a full 10K race was 167 (84%) with a maximum heart rate of 184 (92%) at the end. The last three kilometers I ran at 172-174 and felt comfortable. Okay, sort of comfortable.

I did the Squamish 10K Race in a rather sobering 47:25, but given that I had seriously scaled back my hard work-outs while undergoing my recent treatment for Actinic Keratosis, I was actually pretty pleased with my performance. My mileage figures were cut nearly in half these past few months. All my runs were mostly of the long slow easy variety. They were easy on my body and good for my spirit.

I am pleased with the fact that last Sunday I raced in the Summerfast 10K, although not nearly as hard, and I was a full three minutes faster a week later. And it was HOT this morning. Easily in the mid-70s, hotter when you take into account that we were running on pavement.

The other inescapable fact was that this morning I hit the scales at 206 pounds. While going through the 45 days of Efudex treatment twice a day, I concentrated most on getting healthy, and there is no denying that I fell back on food - good food and comfort food - as a means of coping with both pain and depression. And there is no denying the fact that I was just stuck in doors a lot! I also drank a lot more alcohol that I would typically. Maybe even two or three times as much as usual. I also took a lot of health food supplements.

So if I was thirty pounds or 15% above my ideal race weight, I was also 15% slower. Given the way my health has been improving - and even my general disposition! - I can deal with all of those things in a reasonable and timely fashion. And it makes me look forward to bearing down again and doing the work needed to get back in shape again for Boston. I am going to continue to put off the additional Ironman training for at least another three months. I need to fully recover first.

The best part of all was that I was able to run the entire race with a very good friend of mine, someone who is in the top three in her age category in the Timex Road Race Series. Despite the heat, she broke 48 minutes in a 10K for the first time. It felt great to be part of someone's personal best. Afterwards, we sat in the shade, doused our heads with ice water, drank lots of water and I won't say I - and we - didn't enjoy the usual fabulous buffet of post-race carbs put out by the volunteers. The Nanaimo Bars were most excellent! I only had two!

And afterwards, I had time to drive back to Vancouver to have lunch with the rest of my running buddies who were putting in their mileage for the Marathon Clinic.

Part of the reason for me only doing 10K today was that on next Saturday, I am running the Stormy Ultramarathon 67 K Trail Race through the mountains around Squamish.

And yes, I'm planning to take it easy...

But I can't wait!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Stormy Only a Week Away

With the Stormy 64K Ultramarathon Race only eight days away I did an "easy" hard 6k tempo run. After a fight with my running partner. Hence, I had to run alone. What a shock! Par for the course.

By gaining weight and backing off of my hard work-outs for two months I have lost a gear on the top end. I am just not as "fast" as I am use to being.

Actually I am just slow and fat. A slow, fat fuck. Great.

It will be a great slog getting down to 175 with me leaving for France and Medoc in less than a month. So much for a fast marathon this Fall.

This weekend I think I'll 'race' a 10K in Squamish - by that meaning staying within myself (probably 48 minutes - at least five minutes slowwer than where I should be given how I started out this Spring) - as my taper for Stormy.

I am still weak and prone to losing the occasional meal, which I have done for the past three days. And I am NOT a puker. I HATE to waste food.

I still have unexpected liver pain. Sharp. Painful. Hurts like Hell. The kind that doubles you over unexpectedly. Like an old man on his last legs. But given what has transpired in my life recently, not THAT unexpected.

As for my depression and ennui, Jesus! - don't feel the need to fucking say anything about it in the comments for Chrissakes! I don't WANT your fucking sympathy. That's not what I'm looking for. You're just making it harder for me to write honestly.

I write the Blog to be as honest as I know how. And that requires as a writer that you bare your soul and get naked. And cut a vein open and bleed on an empty screen. That's hard enough as it is without thinking about your audience.

And let's face it...

I am full of shit.

I'm not doing this for a warm fuzzzy feeling. I'm doing it as a fucking journal.

That out of the way, thanks for the comments and e-mails. I appreciate them.

Me, I mostly just kick myself in the ass and tell myself to stop being such a pussy. My apologies to pussies of all kinds.

There are lots of people in worse predicaments than me. I knoiw that.

I consider myself lucky and blessed.

I have a good life.

I am greedy.

I want more.



Quicker times.

You can figure out the rest.

Have a great day.

Kiss a pretty girl.

Buy a pretty girl some flowers.

Tell her she is pretty.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

After the Fact

It has now been ten days since I stopped applying Efudex to my face twice a day. A regimen I followed for 45 days straight. Much of it, as in the full extent of my treatment, decidedly against what my Doctor originally had in mind. Actually, in complete contradiction to what he instructed me to do.

Despite the fact that I was no longer using the Efudex, the pain did not immediately diminish. I am not sure whether this was fact or fiction or my pyschological interpretation of the events. My evidence is only anecdotal. Healing started almost immediately - my skin that is, the epidermal layer. Itching, of a nearly intolerable nature, took the place of the original pain of the treatment. But my skin made huge improvements in its appearance within a week, if not days. By the end of the week I was also able to start shaving parts of my face again.

I once again have a moustache and goatee, but mostly to hide the last of the scabs. I do not think there will be any scarring to speak of. I suspect that I still have a few deep lesions I will have to treat in the future. But my next examinination is not until October. I have huge patches of missing hair on my face. I also lost the outer layer of my eye-brows.

I have completely stopped using pain-killers and lessening the amount of alcohol I am consuming. I am clearly suffering mild depression, okay, maybe not so mild, and having been through this before with pain-killers (back surgery and broken bones), recognize the symptoms of withdrawal.

The Efudex full-face treatment was so hard for me to do, so difficult to keep focused on, that I now suspect that I am also suffering a little post-traumatic stress syndrome. In layman's terms, a let down. Like the post-partum depression that you get when you finish a big project. What next?, a part of you keeps asking? What next indeed.

My liver took a beating from the Efudex, pain-killers and alcohol. It is swollen and tender and aches. My lymph nodes also bore the brunt of my treatment. I ate like a pig during the past two months as I was most concerned about eating a healthy diet to aide in my recovery and I took a ton of supplements to go with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. And yet at times, I had to force myself to eat because I wasn't hungry...

Net result?

I have gained nearly twenty pounds, although when I tell people that, they find it hard to believe. During the treatment, I scaled back my hard, fast work-outs, but continued with my long runs. I finished two Marathons, in Smithers and Skidegate, and did three 30K long runs during my treatment phase.

After weeks, actually months, of not sleeping more than two hours at a stretch, I now sleep eight to ten hours a night. Unheard of for me. I usually get by on six or seven. Plus, I nap in the afternoon. On Sunday, after 27K, it was for five hours!

After being buoyant and positive for so long, I now seem to be suffering from long periods of ennui.

Part of this may be the fact that I am about to turn 46 on August 8th. I have never been much for birthdays for some reason. I always seem to tally up the year and think of all the things I didn't get done, rather than the things I actually accomplished.

Also, I think I am reaching the place where I am accepting the fact that I am probably never going to start a family - in the sense of meeting someone, settling down, buying a house with the white picket fence and having children (Christ, you'd think I was a good Catholic girl!). You always think you will, pf course. Settle down, that is. It is, after all, expected of most of us. But for some, it never quite works out that way. I'm a hard man to put up with just for starters - always willing to bet the farm on a wild adventure - and always wondering what's over the horizon anyways. So, I was undoubtedly playing a fool's game all along. Still, it is hard to accept.

Yesterday Panhandle Slim came into my office with his leash in his mouth. He had jumped up and dragged it out of its usual place. Quite an athletic feat actually. Cactus Jack was right behind him. It was like they had cooked up the scheme together. Let's get the old man to take us for a walk! Slim and Cactus strolled into my office and I had to laugh. So out we went.

I met an old man on his bicycle, in his eighties I am sure, that we - me and the boys that is - often meet along our dog-walks. He has silver hair and bright blue eyes that actually twinkle when he smiles, which he does often, and we almost always nod to each other as we pass each in our travels. Usually 'Hello' or 'Good Day' or 'Nice Weather', not much more than that. But pleasant, and neighbourly.

But yesterday, in a slight Scottish brogue.

"It takes a great man to walk a small dog."

Afterwards, it was the best I have felt in two months.

A Running Book Worth Reading -

High School Cross-Country Breakout: Memiors of State Champions , May 1, 2006

Daniel Hurley (Chesapeake, VA.) - See all my reviews

This is a true account of cross-country seasons at Salem HS written by two gifted students on the team. This is a participant's view of a team that over the course of two years develops from a very competitive region team to a team that wins State. The book is well detailed on cross-country in the sense that the student authors appropriately make the point that no matter how good the top runners are on a team, and they have several excellent runners, winning a championship depends on where your 5th man finishes.

The other nice emphasis, as the authors nicely describe, is how each individual develops in training and in actual races. You get a nice feel for cross-country racing as the authors give a personal perspective on what it is like to prepare for race day, how they determine their race plans (preference for pace or going out with the leaders), the effect of the course terrain and the weather and what it is like on those days that you feel great and those when you know you don't have it.

The story is fascinating reading not only how the four stars improve and compete among themselves but they authors also write a healthy description of the competition for the 5th, 6th and final varsity spot. And as the authors well describe, the 6th and 7th man do make a difference particularly when the 5th man falters. The book spends most of its time on cross-country with short references to track but the authors note that all three of the top runners run the two mile close to 10 flat with their top runner breaking out with a 9:40 prior to the second CC season.

I would have liked to have known more about their post CC workouts as the school seemed to produce some very good talent with depth. The team's top runners were very talented and placed very high in their region and state yet they were beat by some outstanding individuals at the big meets. Thus they were in a very competitive state division.

Besides the dedication of the athletes, the coaching is impressive along with how the runners adapted to the workouts. For example, in a quality distance run, the runners occasionally wear heart monitors in order to maintain a specific effort for a specific period of time. In another technical note, their advanced coach uses a GPS to determine where the true mile splits on race courses are to help his team with their pace during races.

The school also features an outstanding booster club that is pretty unique for HS distance runners. The book also captures the difficulties of success, such as over training injuries or too much success or praise's effect on a young runner. And, a nicety of the book is capturing the coach's efforts to tailor a workout appropriate for particular athletes as some require more recovery than others.

And there is suspense, a great finish marred by technical officiating failures that leave you guessing what will happen and what is fascinating is that it is a true story. A satellite story is the development of the girls' team that features two outstanding athletes and the girls eventually rival the boys in regards to success at the State meet.

There is also the cross-country/track coach's greatest fear, exemplified in Runner's World editorials by Marc Bloom, that soccer may steal your best runner as it almost does in this story. The book is ideal for young high school aspiring runners and in fact it could be used as a HS coach's recruitment. This book is an excellent view of cross-country from the trenches or from the ground.

Here are some exclusives, snippets of information for people with blogs about running or cross country:

The story is the boy's account of a true story. A new coach takes over a lagging XC team. They manage to finish third in the state meet, only to have their entire appearance at the state meet erased in a courtroom. The book tells the story of the next year.

During the lead-up to the next year's state meet, the team is beaten by their rivals. With their confidence shaken, assistant-coach Rich Wilson delivers my favorite quote from the book, "If you had taken first today, you woulda come back home and yawned and said, 'Yep, I guess we're gonna win state.' But in the back of your mind woulda been a little bit of doubt and you'd be wonderin' if you just might lose. "Well, you saw today the only way that's gonna happen. Could any of you have run any worse? . . . Now we're gonna see 'em again at state, and they're gonna think they've already won. Pffft. They're done. But we're gonna say, 'You may 'a' beaten us last week, when we all ran with our tails between our legs. But we got a 55-gallon barrel o' butt-whuppin', and you can just get in line.'"

The authors are cousins who were sophomores on the team that finished 3rd in the state meet. They were juniors during the season written about in this book.

They co-wrote the book during the summer between their junior and senior years. An epilogue mentions their return to the state meet during their senior year, when both the boys and girls XC teams were state champs. Additional Shivers cousins were on the girls team.

The book came about because the boys entered a book proposal in the Fresh Writers Book contest. This Ohio program provides summer internships between the junior and senior year to encourage high school students to pursue literary careers.

This is the 6th book produced by students in the program. While previous books have done well in Ohio, this is the first book to break out and be selling well across the country. The book was the #5 track and field book at Amazon during July 6-7, 2006.

The book is dedicated to their grandmother, who passed away the week before the state meet in their senior year.

Paul is the faster runner, the 2nd runner on the XC team. Joe spent the season as either the 7th man or the alternate.

Paul Shivers will be a red-shirt freshman at Ohio State in the fall. Joe Shivers was named to the USA Today top 50 seniors list and will be attending Harvard.

The book gives a look into the thoughts and feelings of the adolescent athlete.

One adult customer mentioned that the book brought back a flood of memories from her high school XC seasons. She bought additional copies of the books for her running friends.

The book is winning acclaim from XC coaches, saying it would be a good recruiting tool for their teams. For any coaches teaching short fiction or Reading classes, the book would make an excellent selection for classroom reading. We were careful to keep the book curriculum safe.

At 180 pages, the book is priced at $5.95 - affordable for the high school XC runner. If the coach is interested in buying a book for the whole team, the publisher offers a 40% discount on purchases of 6 or more copies. School purchases orders are gladly accepted.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Learning to Run Within a Group

This is my tenth Marathon Clinic.

And some things never change.

The single hardest thing for newbie marathoners to learn, is how to run within a group of other athletes. For people who are naturally ambitious, competitive and driven - who else signs up to run a marathon? - it is often a seemingly impossible task.

As a Pace Group Leader myself, I have the natural advantages of being large, loud and obnoxious. When people run too fast, or - God Forbid - run in front of me, I ask them to stop it. The second time I have to do it, I am likely to raise my voice. And I am not afraid to ask people to leave a group because their actions or behavior are ruining the experience and training experience for everyone else in the Pace Group. Not every pace Group Leader can be as obnoxious as me.

Hey, it's a gift.

I have come to call my philosophy behind group runs - the Long Slow Distance (LSD) Sunday Runs - "The Love of the Pack". In order for the pack to be successful, we all need each other. Everybody has good days and bad days. We run together to support each other. A good Pace Group can run 35 kilometres and all finish tightly packed together and all still chatting away without a care in the world. The competition is saved for race day. And then all bets are off.

But a group on a long slow distance run should never be split up, spread out, bunched up ten across on a sidewalk, or a Bridge, or GOD FORBID, leave a runner having a hard day behind in the dust. In my books, that is a criminal act. And a Pace Group Leader who allows the aforementioned behavior is no leader at all. And letting people get away with such behavior in a Pace Group is cowardice.

New runners don't get the idea that they will need to train carefully and cautiously for 18 weeks in order to save it for Race Day. When it comes to the 26.2 miles of the Marathon, they still haven't learned to respect the race or the distance. Boy are they in for a shock on race day.

The bottom line in running with a group of course, is all about ego and community. You have to put aside your selfishness and recognize that you are running with others to derive the benefits that come from running with a group during a training run. What ever happened to simple good manners?

Notice I said training run. A training run is not a race. There are no winners and losers in a training run, yet you would never guess that from our Pace Groups behavior recently.

This latest marathon clinic has more than its share of runners with talent. Unfortunately it also has way more than its share of runners who are completely and utterly self-indulgent, self-centered, self-absorbed and self-interested.

What it all really boils down to of course, is ego.

Let me digress for a moment, in what I hope will illustrate the point I am trying to make.

As the Dalai Lama - as great and as good a man who walks the Earth today - travels and lectures around the world these days, he rarely spends time detailing the major tenets of Buddhism, such as its Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

Instead, the Lama is likely to connect the religion's broad themes to everyday life, as he recognizes that the biggest struggles that individuals face in the West, particularly in North America, are not with overcoming suffering but with overcoming ego and an over-inflated sense of self.

The Lama's major point is, with Buddhist teaching that there's no ego to really obsess about. ...

If you realize that ego is not an important foundation of our lives, we can easily find common ground.

That's a Buddhist approach, but the real issue is the common universal theme of reconciliation and community.

All you have to do when watching people compete within a training run and jockey for position at the front of the pack, is to see the incredible sense of indignation from people whose sense of ego is so over-powering and so passive-aggressive that they have lost all ability to see past their ego. And they have lost all ability to see how their actions negatively effect those around them.

They can not imagine that others might have the right to run in front of them. They can not imagine that their needs are not the most important in the group.

And more importantly, they fail to aknowledge and to recognize that other people may have a legitimate point of view that may even contradict their own.

The world is not about you. Or your place at the front of the pace group. Or your ego.

If you or your behavior is disturbing the pace group or causing difficulty for others in your pace group, you should be ashamed.

First, because you have obviously failed to learn the lessons needed to behave in the larger world and the responsibility you have as a member of that world, and secondly because you have failed to understand your own place in the larger world and your community. In this instance, the Pace Group. Do you know your place in the Pace Group?

Living in a community requires that we reconcil our needs with those of the rest of the people we live with in the community. These are the occasions where our individual needs are less important than the larger needs of the entire group as a whole. Or, in other words, The Pace Group.

Reconciliation is not about ego, nor about being right or wrong on a point of law. Reconciliation is about recognizing that you are a small part of something larger and more important than yourself.

When you recognize that, you are on the road to enlightentment. And to being a better runner and a better neighbour and a better person as well.

And then everyone can enjoy their Sunday Long Slow Distance Run in peace.

And then speed to their personal best on the day of the actual Marathon Race.

Still At The Top of the Charts!

A gentleman - obviously of refined and discerning taste - who tracks Blogs and Ranks the Top Ten Sources in each subject matter, ranks me number 2 out of the Top Ten Boston Marathon Source Blogs! That the Top Ten of ALL the Blogs abouts the Boston Marathon, kiddies.