Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Marathons May Apply Here

When I decided to run five marathons by the time I turned 35, I already had two specific races in mind: Edge to Edge this June as my third, and the BMO Vancouver Marathon as my fifth.  

As a possible option for the fourth marathon, I looked into running the ING NYC Marathon.  I mean, it's New York, for Pete's sake, so it would be awesome by default, yes?

Only problem: because New York is so awesome, everyone wants to run it.  It's hard to get in.

The way it works is ...

1.  Interested runners apply and pay an entrance fee.
2.  Your name is put into a lottery.
3.  The names are drawn and you find out if you're in for that year or not.

Today was Opening Day where the runners for this year were selected.  Thanks to the miracle of social media, I saw plenty of updates on Facebook in real time about their televised event which was also streaming live!  Crazy.

Long story short: I'm not in.  Not a big surprise - was kind of expecting it - but now I don't have a fourth marathon to run!  

I'm not in!  Guess I won't be wearing this T-shirt.  Darn it, anyway.
© ING NYC Marathon and NYRR, Official Merch 2012 

I did a quick search for other marathons happening in British Columbia (all of my full marathons so far have been in B.C. so I was thinking I might continue my tour of the province) but none really stood out.  

Then I started thinking of other races that would hold some meaning for me.  Like, running in my hometown of Regina or heading to Athens (the original!) but ... I just don't know.  Guess I need to put my thinking cap back on.  

What do you think?  Keeping in mind my time constraints and not likely being able to qualify for a race like Boston, any suggestions as to where I should run my fourth?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring? When Did That Happen?

As I mentioned early on, Edge to Edge is my first experience training for a spring marathon.  When I started running at the beginning of the year, I was expecting sketchy conditions (read: constant rain) but surprisingly, the weather hasn't been too terrible for running.  However, it has been mostly cool and overcast ... long shirt and pants kind of weather.

So imagine my surprise when I overdressed for today's long run.  It didn't seem that sunny but I guess I need to start wearing sunscreen out there.  And maybe shorts.

Farmers' tan?  Not quite.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Ran With An Olympian And It Was Totally Rad

Over the weekend, I attended a great running seminar with Gary Reed, a retired middle distance runner who hails from B.C.  Among his many accomplishments, Gary is a two-time Olympian and the current Canadian record-holder in the 800 metre run with a time of 1:43.68.  Needless to say, it was pretty awesome to hear him speak about his experience and have him coach us for an afternoon! 

Hanging out with Gary Reed.

Going into the seminar, I knew I would have plenty to work on in terms of technique.  Gary showed us a few tips and made us run (ha ha - get it?) a few drills.  Some of the gems I took away from the afternoon were:

Swing your arms.  This may be obvious to many but I didn't realize this would be such a big part of running efficiently!  

Be relaxed.  Tension will cause a runner to seize up over time.  If you can feel your face moving while you're running, that's a good thing.  

Maintain your posture and focus on moving linearly.  Gary suggested imagining that you have two walls on either side of your body to help keep everything in-line.  If anything moves off that plane, you're not working at maximum efficiency.  (Apparently, my right arm was swinging out and down so now I'm focusing on swinging it in a straight line close to my body.)

Dorsiflexion is your friend.  The way I would describe dorsiflexion is bringing your toes up slightly towards your shins.  Doing this movement helps to ensure you land on your mid-foot and not your heel - which can be tiring and hard on the body, impact-wise. (You can tell when a runner is heel striking because he sounds like an elephant ... you can hear him coming from a mile away!)

Keep those knees up!  Getting your feet underneath the body faster helps to keep things springy and efficient and increase stride turnover.  All good things. 

I tried to put most of that into practice when I was out on today's 29 km trek.  The result was a really productive and efficient long run.  I ran my same slow and steady pace to ensure I could focus on my technique.  The end results: my heart rate stayed down, my cadence stayed up and I felt more energetic overall.  It was a pretty cool little experiment proving that small changes can make a huge difference.

Thanks Gary!  You're awesome.  

P.S. Gary recently started a foundation called the Reed Athletics Fund in support of Canadian Olympic hopefuls in the sport of track and field.  I'm sure it's no surprise that Canadian athletes are an underfunded bunch.  The foundation is the first of its kind and is a very worthy cause.  If you would like more info on the Reed Athletics Fund and to make a donation, please visit their website. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Salute To All Slow Runners

A few years ago, I saw a post on one of the Running Room Forum discussions by a woman who had just started running as a way to improve her health.  She had never run before, and was so proud that she had completed her first 5 km run in about 50 minutes.  

Instead of lauding her accomplishment - her first 5 km run ever! - some jackwipe had the nerve to comment: "That is so slow!  I can walk 5 km faster than that."

Sure.  For any runner, this is a slow time.  But ... so what?  

Runners are a proud bunch, this is true.  And we should be!  We all work really hard to achieve our goals.  I think certain runners, however, just need to shut their traps once in awhile.  This forum post has stuck with me over the years because it clearly shows just how cocky and conceited some runners can be.  

Here's another example.  I recently got into a conversation about running with a woman who had just qualified for the Boston Marathon.  For those who aren't in the know, Boston is kind of a big deal.  Amateur runners have to qualify to even request entry, which means they have to complete a marathon within a specific time (usually pretty fast!) set by age group.  

I casually mentioned to this person how I wouldn't expect to ever be fast enough to qualify and she said to me: "Well, if you're that slow maybe you shouldn't even be a runner."

Excuuuse me?  Bitch, don't even!  I will admit - I kind of had to restrain myself from slapping her right then and there.  

An FYI for the arrogant runners - this is kind of what you sound like. If you stopped with the big head, you'd be much more likeable. (See? I'm trying to do you a favour. I'm so magnanimous.)

My point of all this, is that runners really ought to support each other more.  Instead of putting other runners down, why not work to bring them up?  Running has, and always will be, a sport of individual achievement.  We should be celebrating all of our accomplishments.  Big or small, fast or slow - it shouldn't matter! 

Another great quote by John Stanton (he's coming up with some real gems on Facebook lately): "You can do it.  Don't let someone else's beliefs stop you from being your best!"

Some final words from me on the subject:

If you're a speedy runner ...
Please be kind to your fellow runners who may be not as fast as you.  Being blessed with a natural ability to run is a glorious thing; you're really lucky.  You may not realize it, but slow runners have to possess just a wee bit more self confidence than the average runner because we get passed all the time.  In fact, we get passed by people like you.  And if you're already showing encouragement to your less than speedy friends, on behalf of all slow runners everywhere: I thank you!

If you are reading this post and are disagreeing with everything ...
Well, you obviously don't get it.  You are probably just like the forum basher and the arrogant marathoner, so feel the need to put slow runners down because it makes you feel better about yourself at the expense of someone else's confidence and pride.  You know what?  As far as I'm concerned, you can shove it.

Hail to the slow runners!  
Keep at it, my peeps!  And know that at least one person (me!) appreciates how hard you have to work. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Yin and Yang Of Running

Two weeks ago, I had an amazing long run.  I woke up, the sun was shining, I was totally pumped.  Ran my 23 km and it was great.

Last weekend's long run?  Not so much.  

One - I didn't get around to running on Sunday.  Not a huge deal; I ran on Monday after work instead.  (Truth be told, I was pretty hungover on Saturday and really didn't feel like doing anything the next day either.  But - that's just between us.  Don't go around telling everyone.)

Two - it was just, well ... bad.  On the schedule: 26 km.  I was exhausted and not feeling it, at all.  I nearly cried at about 13 km, and then again at 19 km.  It was all I could do to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I don't think this kid had a very good day, either.

In running, there will be good days and, inevitably, bad ones too.  But as John Stanton of the Running Room says: "Runners are often limited more by their confidence than by their physical abilities."  

Keep on running!