Lance Armstrong to run Boston ’08

21 01 2008

OK, this is pretty damn cool.

Think I can take him?

> Lance Armstrong to run 2008 Boston Marathon 





Riding out the slump

21 01 2008

In the past few days, I’ve been mulling over some words of wisdom I heard during the ONA conference in Toronto.

“No one reads a bored blogger,” one of the panelists told a coffee-sipping gaggle of web journalists. And it’s good advice: a blog without passion usually isn’t worth the pixels it’s written on.

For the last few months, I’ve been running a deficit side on enthusiasm. Sure, I’ve been lacing them up, but it’s often felt a bit like a chore.  Same with writing about it.

So I’ve been more quiet than usual. I know you should write more during the low points, but I every time I’ve tried, I couldn’t do it with gusto. It just came out as … blah.

Sure, there have been some outside factors for the “slump”. Settling into a new job as the dark blanket of winter settled in. Not easy. But it’s more than that. In the months since my last running goal, I’ve felt rudderless. Not quite sure why I was heading out. Yak yak yak.

That’s been changing in recent days. I’m starting to get pumped about running again.  Here’s a few reasons why it’s been better.
1. Switching up the routine – Long runs on Saturdays now, instead of Sundays. Nights instead of mornings.

2. Getting back to basics. It’s supposed to be fun isn’t it?

3.  A new goal. Still seems like a long way off.

I’m still not totally gung-ho, but I starting to find my spark with this again, slowly but surely. I hope you’ll come along for the journey.





Cool – no, cold – runnings

4 01 2008

The next time you need inspiration to stare down the elements, check this story from today’s Globe.

Yellowknife’s average January temperature hovers between lows around -30 C and highs around -20. Hypothermia can set in instantly. Exposed skin can freeze in a matter of minutes. And yet Yellowknife has become a city of runners

Through a combination of sheer resolve and specialized attire such as wind briefs and shoes studded like snow tires, joggers in the capital city have formed what must be one of the world’s hardiest running communities.

Brrrrr.

Wind briefs are a topic for discussion another day.





To drivers: You’re welcome

24 12 2007

Seen in the news last week:

Marathon runners sometimes suffer fatal heart attacks, but the increasingly popular foot races actually save lives by preventing motor vehicle crashes, a new study says.

[snip]

They randomly selected 26 established marathons involving more than three million participants. Each 42.2-kilometre race had at least 1,000 runners.

[snip]

What the researchers found was that the races resulted in 26 sudden cardiac deaths, but because of road closures in the vicinity of the races, 46 motor vehicle fatalities were prevented.

 > Full story

I don’t quite understand the science, but an interesting — if morbid — way to look at marathons.

Another interesting tidbit: Almost half of the heart attacks suffered occurred in the race’s last mile.





Ten reasons to stop worrying and love winter running

25 11 2007

I haven’t been too bummed by the recent early winter snap in southern Ontario. In fact, I’ve secretly harboured a little happiness.

Don’t throw your snowballs just yet. Hear me out.

While I was out today on a 24k, I thought of 10 good reasons to embrace winter running*:

10. Clear air. I breathe easier in the crisp winter conditions, while I never can seem to get the same lungful in the heat.

9. Sleeping in. Wait until 9 a.m. in the summer and you’re toast. Literally. But the later you get started on a winter’s morning, the warmer you’ll be.

8. Less pedestrian traffic. Ever had to dodge a group of rollerbladers on the paths in January? Me neither.

7. Two words:

hot chocolate

Hot chocolate.

6. Two more words: Hot showers. 

5. Guilt-free sun exposure. Or less-guilt. You still can get some UV rays if you’re out for a few hours on a sunny winter day.

4. Guilt-free napping. Having a snooze after a long run in the summer is strange, with kids outside playing and the sun high in the sky. No such worries in the winter. You’ve been outside enough.

3. Even out the battle of the bulge. My second favourite winter activity is digging into a bag of cookies and bundling up on the couch. Running helps to balance that out.

2. Amaze your non-running (and summer-only) running friends, who can’t believe you’d actually go out in conditions like that.

1. Simply put, you feel great. You 1, Winter 0.

* I reserve the right to revisit this topic in mid-February, with an entry called “10 reasons to @#$#!@% hate winter running”





Sir Lance-a-lot and the NYC Marathon

5 11 2007

I can’t believe it’s been a full calendar year since I last spouted off about Armstrong running NYC. Can it really have been 12 months? 

He was back again this year, finishing in 2:46.

> Full story from the AP

As the story sez:

“I enjoyed it much more this year,” said Armstrong, who finished 698th in 2 hours, 46 minutes, 43 seconds Sunday. “Last year, I had no idea what to expect with 26.2 miles, and I paid for it.”

The seven-time Tour de France winner trained harder, was injury-free and drew upon the experience of running in the showcase event. Last year, he called the five-borough race “the hardest physical thing I have ever done.”

Armstrong looked fresh in his yellow jersey at the finish after hobbling in last year.

“I came in better prepared, but perhaps I started faster than I wanted,” Armstrong said. “I sort of got out there and realized I was either going to finish OK or be crawling home.”

Armstrong said he needed about four months to recover from the shin splints last year, when he finished 856th. This time, he trained more consistently and included faster 18- and 19-mile runs.

Well, well … it looks like even Tour de France winners have something to learn when it comes to training. The lesson was, as it always is, RESPECT THE DISTANCE.

You can take this as my official end to whining about Lance.

BTW – Full props to Paula “The Phenom” Radcliffe and Martin “The Magnificent” Lel for taking home the top honours from the Big Apple.

I love Lel’s quote: “”To be a champion, you have to be a champion fighting with the man.”

I’m not sure I know what it means, but it sounds bad-ass.





How Edward McClelland ruined my breakfast

4 11 2007

This yarn from Salon called “How Oprah ruined the marathon“, written by one Edward McClelland, presents a good/bad news proposition.

The bad: Reading this tripe has soured my appetite and got me as steaming hot at the Sunday morning oatmeal.

The argument is frankly stale and boring — recreational runners like Oprah or the Penguin who just want to finish, who just relish in the challenge of 26.2, have turned the marathon from “a competition” to “a self-improvement exercise”.

Blah, blah, blah, you sour old fart.

Some quips and quotes:

It makes me ask: Has this country’s marathoning spirit been trampled by hordes of joggers whose only goal is to stagger across the finish line?

and

If Frank Shorter inspired the first running boom, Oprah inspired the second, by running the Marine Corps Marathon. And it was a much bigger boom. This was not a spindly 24-year-old Yalie gliding through Old World Munich. This was a middle-aged woman hauling her flab around the District of Columbia. If Oprah could run a marathon, shame on anyone who couldn’t.

When Oprah expanded the sport, she also lowered the bar for excellence. For the previous generation of marathoners, the goal had been qualifying for Boston. Now, it was beating Oprah. Her time of four hours and 29 minutes — the Oprah Line — became the new benchmark for a respectable race. (That was P. Diddy’s goal when he ran New York.)

And so on. I don’t have the stomach to go back to it again for more, but you get the drift.

If you want to read a better dissection of this bitter b.s., go to Kenny’s blog or here, here or here.

But let me just thank McClelland for giving everyone who’s trying to get fitter or faster a good excuse to get back on the couch this Sunday morning. Jerk.

Hope that cotton T rubs you the wrong way — big time.

Getting out there for the challenge is worth it, whether you’re a three- or six-hour marathoner.

ps: The good news … This morning’s long run is going to be a fast one. I’m all worked up now.