running & racing.

Running. Training. Resting. Repeating. And generally over-thinking my runs since 2008.

running (noun)

fast feets

Some of the words I post here are about running races, training for specific races, or specifically about racing.

more feets.

2 weeks 5 days ago

May 1, 2022

To close the daily running loop, in April I started a little challenge to myself to run every day... to streak.

It lasted sixteen days.

Not long. Not terrible. Not exactly one of those "guy runs for two years" stories, either.

On day fifteen I did a long run and my calves cramped up something fierce less than a kilometer from home. I had to hobble a bit, walk and stretch it out, before slowly resuming my creep back to the house. Something was off.

Streaks push you to get better, but when they push back it's worth asking why... and stopping for a bit.

A week later I was sick with what seems to have been COVID, though no positive test to correlate with the long list of symptoms I was feeling. Chances are the end of my streak had more to do with rest than infection, but both those things together meant I ran a mediocre race and have taken a few days off in the meantime.

May is looking to get back on track again tho, with the four days per week schedule leading it all, and I'll be creeping up to the start line of my May race a little more traditionally.

1 month 2 weeks ago

About a year and a half ago I adopted a puppy.

Pandemic puppies were all the rage for many people and finding a dog to adopt was likened toy rushes at Christmas, but for us it was hardly a rash decision. We'd been plotting for years, and attempting to figure out how we would find ourselves a good opportunity to reintegrate a dog into our lives a few years after our previous dog died of a late-in-life heart condition. Puppies are a bit of a full time job. Training, caring, and generally looking after the curious things for the first couple months almost requires a work sabbatical. Working full time downtown while living in the burbs was not going to provide such an opportunity easily.

As it turned out "not easy" meant a global pandemic, and amidst the countless negatives and tough things that happened, we found our chance to bring a dog home.

Working from home for an indeterminate amount of time seemed a bit risky, but as it turned out eighteen months of puppy training and habituation followed a Miniature Australian Shepherd joining our family before the day finally came that we had to start migrating (at least part time) back to the office.

The timing to turn her into a running partner was a little less cooperative.

By the time she hit the ripe old age of one year, or about the time that most vets and blogs seem to converge on their advice on when it is ok to start a running program, the summer was just wrapping up and we were more concerned with her spaying surgery and follow up recovery than we were about getting her out jogging the local trails.

Winter was cold and icy, so that didn't seem ideal as an introduction to my favourite sport.

And now finally, it is spring. She's comfortably past the age of concern for starting such a program, yet still young enough to take it up with ease. I while I've been impatient, she didn't know what she was missing... until Saturday.

This past weekend, a couple days ago now, I laced up and looped my faithful dog into her harness. We stepped out onto the clear sidewalks running alongside the grassy parks, and ... ran three klicks.

Run one. It begins. I'm aiming for three days per week, though I think she'd go every day if she could. I think I may have unleashed a monster... metaphorically speaking.

1 month 2 weeks ago

April 1, 2022

A little more than a month ago I posted a blog and declared that March was my daily month. I was going streaking and I was going to log a bit of mileage every day.

Nope.

And a good call, too. The weather turned out to be less than cooperative and the endless snow, thaw, freeze cycle meant that until about a week ago every sidewalk and trail in the city was a hazard zone. Slick ice in the morning was replaced by wet puddles and hidden ice in the afternoons. Everything was a mess. I could barely walk the dog let alone put in a respectable run.

Plan B slowly emerged: April.

Well, today just happens to be April 1st, 2022 and (no joke) I'm mentally preparing myself to go out for the first of a my daily runs later this afternoon, after work.

Sometimes you gotta read the room. Sometimes you gotta read the road. March said no, but April is looking like lots of yes.

3 months ago

Each spring I partake in a ritual attempt to get over the winter slump.

I streak.

Fully clothed, I assure you, I pick a date on the calendar, usually in or around March, and I try to run every day, logging a minimum number of klicks every day for a certain span of time in a methodical, systematic effort to rebuild the endurance of a winter spent in maintenance mode.

It is late-February as I write this and I've been itching to get a move on with my daily running plan, even despite that the streets are slick with ice and the weather is still in the negative double digits some days.

A factor of success to any daily running effort is goal setting, of course.

Daily running is a goal in and of itself, but wrapped up inside the daily effort is a second layer of expectations around speed, time, distance and run quality. Does a short run count, and how short is a short run anyways? What if I run on a treadmill if it's really too cold out? What if I don't feel it one day and I just do a light jog with a lot of walking breaks instead of a proper run?

Daily running means setting a bar over which one needs to leap, then leaping it. Daily. If that bar is too high, or requires a second leap while already in the air, then that, in my opinion is a second goal. I personally set my expectations low. I get out on the trails in running shoes. Daily. That's my bar.

A low bar is better than no bar.

4 months 2 weeks ago

Sunday runday and on my solo five klick shakeout I paused beside path to watch a turtle the size of a football basking in Florida sunshine.

Also, it was nearly fifty degrees celsius warmer than the last time I ran oudoors a little more than a week ago. I haven’t been that sweaty from running five kilometers since the heat of last summer. I could have taken a dip beside that turtle and …

The runaway train of vacation planning never actually found a means of slamming on the brakes and the next thing I knew I was boarding an international flight to Orlando with my face wrapped tightly in a N95 surgical respirator and wondering, sometimes aloud, at the bounds of my own sanity.

Back in the summer, when all things virus had seemed to be packing its bags and getting ready to move out of the basement like all uninvited houseguest should eventually do, we registered in a series of Disney World Marathon run events.

Then we eagerly booked a vacation around that … and waited.

It all went great from there, right? Well … no. We watched anxiously as a viral variant named Omicron washed a new wave of panic all across the world. Triple-vaccinated and packing a smuggler’s haul worth of PPE, we warily tracked the news and tripped over ourselves justifying taking the trip versus the stupidly high costs of cancelling it and just wallowing in pity at ourselves from the safety of our frozen house. A dozen times we came a turtle’s breath away from calling the whole thing off, swallowing the thousands of dollars of lost travel spends, and buying a big bottle of bubbly for new years eve to forget the whole thing and …

And.

And yet, here we are.

And here I am on a Sunday morning, looking out at a resort swimming pool after a five klick shakeout run, sipping a six dollar cup of takeway coffee, having spent the last four days wandering through the densely packed, pandemic-oblivious theme parks of Disney World and giving myself blisters and aches and pains and overwhelming anxiety and exhaustion in the process.

There are a number of smooth and flat walking trails just out the front door of our hotel, winding around lagoons and restaurants and wire-suspended gondolas, leading into and around and between Epcot and a make-believe Star Wars lands. As thousands of racers congregate here over the next few days for races starting later this week, I saw dozens of fellow runners out on the boardwalks and asphalts. I even saw some of the race crew flagging locations for aid stations and mile markers and marshalling points.

We have a couple days to cool off. A few more days of park-hopping and pool lounging. We pick up our race packages mid-week and run before the weekend starts in earnest. I’m wondering how I’m going to tackle a half marathon I didn’t really train for, on which I’m banking on residual fitness and sheer determination, plodding along at a turtle’s pace to finish the thing on pure willpower.

This morning on my tour of the hotel trails, weaving around families walking towards the park gates, and as I trotted by wearing my 2014 Disney Half Marathon running shirt, one of the race setup workers looked up, pointed and snapped a photo of me from his phone. I smiled. It was probably the only time I’ve been out in public this week without a mask so it took a moment to remember how. I guess if you see a sweaty forty-something guy smirking akwardly on the runDisney socials this week … maybe it’s me?

Or maybe I should have posed with my new friend the turtle. I’d bet we have more in common these days than we realize.

5 months 1 week ago

Sunday Runday and we should have known better than to go onto the icy trails after an overnight snowfall less than a week after an ice storm.

But the sun was peeking over the eastern horizon and lighting up the December sky in all sorts of pretty colours, so the ice seemed like a temporary problem which could easily enough be solved by four guys in winter running shoes.

compared to this time last year are you more lost or found?

It wasn’t a temporary problem, of course.

And no amount of winter grip can make up for ten kilometers of hidden ice under two centimeters of fresh, light snow.

No amount of dodging into the neighbourhood streets and hoping for better traction on the suburban car-packed roads made much of difference.

No amount of pathfinding through the crunchy, fresh snow counteracted the frustration of pulled muscles and near falls and aching hip flexors.

Like so much this year, running has become something of a microcosm of my life and an analogy for everything else. A determined effort to engage with the world that has been met with all manner of resistance no matter my level of persistence. This week it happened to be icy sidewalks, but two weeks ago it was heel pain. A few months ago we were battling wasps. Over the summer I tripped and hurt my shoulder as I collided full force with the trunk of a fir tree.

Yet, we keep going and trying to make it fun.

Likewise, this whole year has been something of an exercise in navigating.

The pandemic. Probably enough said about that, but then again…

Work changes have taxed my frustated mind.

Friends and family seem complicated by twisted politics and nearly fully electronic relationships.

Weather. Supply chains. Misinformation.

Rules. Regulations.

Waves and lockdowns and everything else.

It’s hard to even recall that two years ago I was feeling quite solidly purposeful in my own way. Things felt found. Things were on course and on track.

At the start of this year, though, I think that like so many others I was feeling not just a little lost, but caught in a maze of a world gone mad. We cheered the end of 2020 as if it somehow marked the end of the worst of it. Yet, here we approach 2021 and I’m not clear on if I’m still lost, somewhat found, or just resigned to the newish reality in which we exist now.

The last year has been a little like running on ice. Uncertain underfoot and apt to cause a slip unless one watches every step carefully. At the end one feels a bit accomplished, a bit sore, but a bit foolish for venturing out looking for a running path where none should rightly exist.

On the other hand, the only other option is to stay home and wallow in the lack of action.

Maybe it’s not a bad thing to go pathfinding after all, through snow and ice… or through a crazy, slippery year.

time on feets

A kind of blog, I've written about a number of running topics over the years and each year seems to have a different focus, flavour, and tone. Everything gets compiled into one big long read, or ends up that way at the end.

even more fast feets