I can feel it, coming back again

30 10 2007

Maybe it’s the crisp fall weather — just cool enough to get focused, but still warm enough for shorts. Maybe it’s the inspiring stories from Lisa and Kenny. Maybe it’s looking at the calendar and getting under the six-month countdown to Boston.

Or maybe it’s just time.

At any rate, the itch to start training has crept back into my bloodstream for the first time since Mississauga in May. I’m ready to go.

I’m all ears to any advice anyone has. The draft plan is:

* Jingle Bell 5k Burlington (it’s tradition)
* Boxing Day race in Hamilton (don’t even know the distance, but my uncle is super-keen)
* Chilly, Burlington, early March (see above re: tradition)
* Around The Bay, late March
* Boston, April 21

Anybody interested in any of those races?

On a completely unrelated note, I think Halloween is a bit overrated, but any excuse to pound back serious candy is all right by this camper. But if you’re into it … here are some neat pics of “Halloween chic” in years gone by. (And no, I didn’t build this gallery – just thought it was kinda cool.)


Races done, races to come

25 10 2007

Belated shout out to Lisa for tearing it up in the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon in San Fran last weekend. Maybe if we’re really nice to her, she’ll give us some insights about her Tiffany necklace and such.

And best o’ luck to Kenny, who tackles the Marine Corps this weekend. Dare ya to talk back to one of those U.S. Marines handing out the cups at the water stands. Having them bark “push it!” instills a Pavlovian reaction to just … do … it.

And to Marc, who’s thinking about a marathon next October, I say go for it, man! You’ll never look back. Trust me.

Taper talk

24 10 2007

No matter how long you run, I suspect there’s always something new to learn, some new technique to try.

I was leafing through the latest Runner’s World on the subway tonight and I stumbled across this interesting article on tapering.

Basically, it suggests that the tapers in most marathon and half-marathon programs might be too long and too steep. The writer talks to some elites who’ve had success by keeping up the mileage, particularly quality mileage, closer to race day.

Don’t know about anybody else, but I’ve never felt comfortable with the traditional 3-week taper. The first week is great and usually pretty restful. But by the end of week 2, I start to feel slugg-o.

What’s that they say about an object at rest wanting to stay at rest?

I’m willing to try the short and sweet route next time around.

Any thoughts, anybody? 

(Another) Toronto marathon day

14 10 2007

Is anything better than the rush of race day?

(Actually, there is. It’s successfully putting a new hard drive into your MacBook and fixing it so you can start blogging again regularly. Yes guy!)

Today, I jogged from home down to High Park to catch the Toronto Marathon at the 30k mark. Little did I know that the organizers had actually changed the route at some point since the summer and it went out along the Martin Goodman trail to Humber Bay.

Apparently I wasn’t the only person asleep at the switch. I saw two other people asking race bike marshals what happened. Anybody know why?

I have some strong impressions from this admittedly limited exposure. And let’s just say it wasn’t good. But I want to hear from anyone who ran the race before I sound off.

Read all about it. Congrats to the men’s (Charles Bedley) and women’s (Leslie Black) winners.

The Chicago gong show

9 10 2007

I can’t even imagine the scenario.

You’ve been running a marathon for 3.5 hours, maybe closing in the finish line, definitely closing in on some serious fatigue in temperatures that feel like 40 degrees Celsius with the humidex.

 Then, you’re told the race is cancelled. Sorry, time to go home. It’s just too hot.

 As I’m sure you know by now, that was the situation in Chicago this weekend, as one of the world’s biggest marathons was shut down due to the record-shattering heat. From The Associated Press:

Chicago Marathon organizers defended their preparation for a brutally hot marathon as runners told stories of fainting or vomiting by the roadside and of angry participants detouring into convenience stores in search of the hydration they say they couldn’t find along the course.

A 35-year-old Michigan man who had a heart disorder died and scores went to hospitals during the 26.2-mile race, which organizers halted about 3 1/2 hours after the start because of fears of heat exhaustion.


“We did feel we had more than adequate water supplies out there,” said Shawn Platt, senior vice president of LaSalle Bank, the marathon’s sponsor.

Platt said planners did not anticipate runners would use drinking water to cool themselves when misting stations and sponges weren’t available. He acknowledged many stations were set up toward the end of the route instead of early on when runners first started showing signs of fatigue.

“Probably we should have been a little more proactive about that,” executive race director Carey Pinkowski said.

Signs of trouble came early.

“By the first or second water station, they were out, and they were apologizing, saying, ‘Just run a mile or two and there’ll be more water,'” said Merrie Ann Nall, 59, of DeKalb.

What a frickin’ nightmare. Where even to begin with that.

I honestly don’t know how I would react to those kinds of conditions. I can’t honestly say I would have obeyed the “bullhorns” telling me to stop after months of hard work and preparation, but could you risk serious heat exhaustion and illness to continue?

Meanwhile, our friends at the AP also asked today: “Are big-city marathons becoming too big?” Not a question we need to grapple with very often in small-scale Canada, where a 3,000-runner full marathon counts as a decent-sized field.

My biggest races have been a 30,000 (Marine Corps Marathon) and 25,000 (Honolulu) and let me say — those were just huge. Frankly, once a field gets beyond a certain size, you just lose perspective as a runner. I’ve never seen a New York or a Boston live, but can only imagine the added impact of 10,000 more runners and hundreds of thousands of additional spectators.

I think the point of the article is one we circle back to in running chit-chat: Should everybody run a marathon? Is that reasonable?

But one thing is for sure: contrary to the lead on the AP story, I’ll never run a big-city race in a chicken suit or G-string. You have my personal guarantee on that.

BTW – Picked up this little bit of youtube gold from The Joggler’s site. Good catch, Michal. 

The question mark of death, or why I love to hate my MacBook

3 10 2007

It’s not looking good for the family laptop.

When I went to start it up tonight, fresh with ideas of posting about a recent hike in New York’s Letchworth State Park and other small stories, I got an error called the “question mark of death”.

Basically, the MacBook won’t recognize that the hard drive is there. And that, for those of you playing along at home, is a bad, bad thing. 

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What this means to you, my blogging friends, is that the posts are going to be a bit intermittent for the next fews days while I humble myself at the feet of the Apple gods and try to get the @#$!@# thing fixed. Thank goodness we have (most) of our stuff backed up. If you don’t have your files backed up and have been meaning to get around to it … my advice is to do it, like, NOW.

I really wanted to show some pics from our hike, but they might have to wait.

Until then, I seethe and post what I can, when I can.

The Joggler sets a world record!

2 10 2007

In my haste and sleep-deprived confusion after the Scotia Waterfront Marathon, I neglected to mention one of the biggest stories of the day.

T.O. runner — and all-around great guy — Michal Kapral set the world joggling record with a lights-out 2:50:06. From his blog, I see he even chewed a little gum throughout his history-making run.

(For the record, this author couldn’t run 42k and chew gum, let alone keep three beanbags in the air. Kudos to Michal.)

For a little background on the Joggler, check out this slideshow from the good folks at CBC.ca.

Check Kenny’s site for a pic of the Joggler in action. Thanks!

Update: I’ve been up to a few other things over the last few days, so I was saddened to learn today about the fatality at the end of the Scotia race. As the Toronto Star reported:

Running was David Youkhana’s passion.

The 65-year-old Toronto man always took good care of himself and liked to volunteer, but three years ago he started to do them together.

He began running for a cause.

“He loved to do charity events, he loved to run for a cause,” his daughter Nahrain Sciulli said yesterday.

Youkhana collapsed at the start of Sunday’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and died at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Youkhana’s elder daughter said he began running marathons a few years ago even though he’d had a mild heart attack 11 years ago. He was careful about his health and made a point of meeting with his doctor before a race to get the green light, she said.

And he was proud when he achieved his running dreams.

My thoughts go out to his family.