Monthly Archives: March 2011

As clumsy as you’ve been there’s no one laughing

Not my ankle, but close enough.

Suddenly I have cankles.  Correction, a cankle.  I first noticed the weird swelling Tuesday evening, but Husband thought I was being paranoid.  By Wednesday he could no longer ignore  the complete lack of definition in my left formerly-known-as-ankle. 

There has been no noticeable reduction in dimension despite my three-day committment to left-sided RICEing.  It does not hurt to walk or run or hop or skip or jump; it’s just painlessly bloated.  I do not know the cause or the cure.  I suspect it may be related to the expired gel.

Title: Our Lady Peace – Clumsy. 1997.

totally confused all the passing piranhas, she’s lump

For the Annals of Stupid Things I Do to Food/Drink During Races, I have not yet exhausted my supply of stories from Around the Bay. 

I packed my race kit the evening before the race (I’m organized!) in the dark because it was Earth Hour and I’m awesome in a turn the lights out way (I’m not organized enough to finish before Earth Hour!) and thus my gel selection was touch based.  I quickly discovered that my gel selection was limited to two choices: lumpy or really lumpy. 

I opted for Lumpy.  Lumpy, I later discovered by candlelight, was over a year expired.  Really Lumpy was nearly two years expired and intelligently went right to the garbage bin.  You may recall my recent brush with expired products.  I lost.   Sweaty Kid reminded me of a recent tangle with gels during a race.  I lost.  Someone with more foresight than me could have easily avoid certain tragedy.

But Lumpy seemed fine except for the bottom lumpy bits.  I reasoned I could eat around the lumpy bits, which would helpfully stay put at the bottom of packet.  I estimated 5/6 of the packet was edible.  The odds were in my favour.

I saved my gel for 21K, a sugar kick for the final push.  In my race haze I greedily consumed the entire packet, lumpy bits and all, then immediately freaked as the disgusting and no longer vanilla flavoured lumps bumped down my throat.  

I do not know the physical side effects of expired gels, but the psychological side effects are an urgent need to go and to go is code for two not one, obsessive worrying about the side effects of ingesting expired chemicals, and the constant feeling of not vanilla regurgitation. 

 Not one to let a near poisoning throw me off my game, as you well know, I stoically soldiered on.

Title: Presidents of the United States of America – Lump.  1995.

I’m hot, sticky sweet from my head to my feet

I have an Around the Bay FuelBelt curse.  I do not know what I did to deserve a cursing, but I can only imagine that the transgression was particularly bad.  There is no other explanation.  See evidence from 2009

Yesterday I broke the cardinal rule of racing: do not try anything new on race day.  I tried three new FuelBelt brand water bottles.  I carry my own liquid during Around the Bay because the aid stations are “approximately every five kilometres”.  This is neither accurate nor frequent enough for my compulsion liking.  

At 6 am I filled the three new bottles with lemon-lime Gatorade, packed my FuelBelt, and drove to the bay.  As I got ready for the race the bottles felt strangely sticky and I assumed – wrongly, I’ve since learned- that I spilled some Gatorade in my sleep-deprived state of bottle filling.  I am very apt to spill Gatorade or get distracted and overfill bottles, so this was not a conclusion without precedence.  Also, I was worried about race day attire and did not give my FuelBelt the attention it needed.  At least I got the what to wear part right.  I cluelessly strapped on the belt and lined up behind the start banner. 

At 3K (every 3K is to my liking) I grab Bottle 1 from its house on the front left for my first refreshing drink.  Mysteriously, the bottle is empty.  What happened to my lemon-lime Gatorade?  I looked around, confused, as though I might find the precious neon electrolytes somewhere on the road.  As the sticky liquid quickly seeped through my wicking layers I found the Gatorade.  In my increasing damp shirt and tights.  The entire contents drained all over me.  Not only was I sticky mess, but I looked like I lemon-lime peed my pants.  No, I am not that hardcore.  To my relief Bottles 2 and 3 seemed reasonably intact, in that they still contained some (but not all) fluid.  At 6K I attempted to drink from Bottle 2.  Half went in my mouth, half dribbled down my shirt into my welcoming bra.  Of course.  Repeat at 9K with Bottle 3.  As though I was drinking from a childish joke cup.  Half in, half down my shirt, leaving an attractive lemon-lime bib around my neck.  

Not one to let a lemon-lime leak throw me off my game, I stoically soldiered on.  Upon successful completion of the race I hugged a friend and promptly adhered to him, my Gatorade forming some sort of superglue.  That last part is a lie, but he did smell faintly of lime after.  Before contaminating anyone else I dashed to the stadium washroom for a quick hooker bath to scrub away the remaining substance.  And so ended my fourth run around the bay. 

Title: Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar On Me.  1987.

Shake it up, just like bad medicine

Warning: Do not use in replace of medical advice. This is neither medical nor advice.

Q.  I’m running a tune-up race tomorrow and my back hurts for reasons that shall secretly remain a secret.  Should I try the pain reliever patch a stranger gave me for free at a race expo three years ago even though it expired one year ago and spent considerable time in direct sunlight despite the bolded do not store in sunlight warning?

A.  Yes, you should use the patch.  Always trust free medical supplies distributed at race expos.  The ingredient list is impressive in that most of the words are long and unpronounceable.  If the patch burns do not remove it.  That means it is working.  If the patch itches do not remove it.  That means it is working.  If Husband notices a weird odor coming from the patch do not remove it.  That means it is working.  After up to but not exceeding eight hours of burning itchy smelly torture, the patch removal doubles as a back waxing.  Win win. 

Title: Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine. 1988.

A year has passed since I wrote my note

Dear Runshorts,

I’m not sure I can trust you.  I think you need a gentle reminder that, for you, the Around the Bay 30K is a run, not a race.  An expensive run so you can avoid the hated stop lights that are at least 20 minutes long.  In case you start getting silly ideas, I must remind you that last Saturday you ran 37K.  On Tuesday you ran an easy 8K but in minimalist shoes that graced your weary feet for the first time since September.  On Wednesday you ran slippery hill repeats in a snowstorm.  On Thursday you enjoyed a 75 minute athletic (euphemism for painful but in a good way) massage.  On Friday you went to the track for the first time in 20 weeks and ran loops into the wind, mysteriously in every direction.  Sunday is your day of rest.  30 restful kilometres. 

Do not screw this up by running too fast. 


Your voice of reason

Title: The Police – Message in a Bottle. 1979.

I don’t need no beast of burden

Monster month = monster appetite.  I need to feed the long run beast.  This happens every training cycle. 

Today at 2 pm, at my desk, I made s’mores.  My coworkers must secretly suspect I have a tape worm.  

I made s’mores without marshmallows because I don’t eat vile food that doesn’t look, smell, or taste like food.  Also I didn’t melt the chocolate.  I worried a bunsen burner might cross the fire code line.  Also I used cookies instead of graham crackers.  No reason, except one of convenience, as in I conveniently had cookies at my desk. 

So technically I ate a bag of animal cookies covered in chocolate buds.  Calling them s’mores sounds classier than calling it what it is.  A pathetic binge.  Yeah, it’s a sad scale when s’more is the sophisticated end point.  

 Title: Rolling Stones – Beast of Burden. 1978.

Warm beer and bread they said could raise the dead

Have you ever been asked that old nugget, if you could invite five people, living or dead, to dinner who would you invite and why?  Yeah, I hate that question too.  Let’s play, with the obvious running twist.  I’ll go first.

1. Terry Fox – Why?  Childhood hero.  I once went to a museum to look at his shoes.  So yeah, I’m a fan.

2. Jacqueline Gareau – Why?  She’s the one that Rosie Ruiz totally screwed over and she handled it with grace.

3. Simon Whitfield – Why?  My enormous crush He stars in one of my favourite Olympic moments and is the only person on the list I’ve run with FOR REAL. 

4. Roger Bannister – Why?  Science geek and runner.  Just like me.  Except for the neurologist and record breaking parts.

5. Roger Robinson – Why?  I love his articles on running and I think he’d be good at filling those inevitable awkward silences at the dinner table.

And if any of them send their regrets,

Tom Longboat – Why?  Controversy and stories of intrigue followed him as he raced – and often bested – the greats of the time (Shrubb, Pietri). 


Your turn!  (Conveniently bolded and exclamation marked so you know to reply.  Even if you only want one guest.  I know it’s a lot of work to host a dinner party, even an imaginary one with dead invitees).


Title: Jimmy Buffett – Cheeseburger in Paradise.  1978.

Weekend Mix Tape Volume 11

The 11th edition of the weekend mix tape.  I have a strange affinity for numbers that are prime, palindrome, or repeating patterns.  A palindromic prime, 11 is high on my list of likes.  For you, 11 links from around the webs that will shock, amuse, or stimulate conversation on your next group run.

  1. Menacing Thug come out in favour of running with music.  You’ll be fine.  Trust him. 
  2. RunningUSA announced that over half a million Americans ran 42.2K 26.2 miles last year.  Five nifty factoids you may have missed if you only read the catchy headline.
  3. A playlist after my own heart.  The Radical 80s Running Mix.  I was in elementary school, but I was definitely rad.  Admittedly, around 90% of the titles are already on my iPod.
  4. Less is less – a lesson in fast running or running faster.  No more bemoaning your lack of Kenyaness.
  5. Do you listen to your body?  Is your body a needy, greedy, lazy little bitch that should probably be ignored?
  6. A marathon … at night?  One runner’s brain considers the lure of the moonlit Las Vegas Marathon
  7. If you’ve been reading my blog or following my twitter feed you know I can relate to this $600 quest for a pair of decent running shoes.
  8. Guelph wants to be Canada’s track down.  Seriously.
  9. How do you run faster (than your run partners)?  Race alligators.
  10. After your youth and good looks fade, where will your running be in 30 years?
  11. Awesome things #286? Seeing a dog or cat chase its own tail.
  12. Bonus Track:  My new favourite Ode to Marathon Pace.

I ain’t no fortunate one, no

A long long time ago in 2010, mortal marathoners who cared about such things would add “Boston Qualifier” to their running credentials.  Runner, BQ

That cute little BQ is no longer adequate.  Now the BQers have been sliced and diced into finer categories.  Mortal marathoners who care about such things will want to differentiate themselves from the pack.   Runner, BQ, wave one

Now if asked did you qualify, the follow-up question will be which wave, and the follow-up follow-up question will be are you registering?  The answer to the third may be related to the second.  And maybe not in the way you think.  

The new Boston registration hierarchy:

  1. Elite: Too fast to care; will run if someone pays their way.
  2. Sub-Elite: Also too fast to care; may run if someone pays their way or may prefer to find a smaller race they can win.
  3. BQ – wave one (sub-20 min): Probably been there and done that and the other marathon majors await, but see #4 below for the annoying one-time exception to the rule.
  4. BQ – wave two (sub 10-min): Obligated to run, at least once, under the new system to demonstrate athletic prowess despite the tougher standards.
  5. BQ – wave three (sub 5 min): Eager to run under the the harder something is to get the more you want it principle of desirability.  Like hazing.
  6. BQ – wave four (everyone else): Very eager to run (see #5), but add it’s an honour just to be nominated qualify and dress them in the newly released “qualifier” gear.
  7. BQed under the old system: Meet the old but not the new standards.  With fast typing fingers had a solid shot at running in the olden days.  May purchase the qualifier gear as a statement of protest.

Title: CCR – Fortunate Song.  1969.

Mr. Jones and me staring at the video

PSA: Do not google image "teen steam".

Remember Who’s the Boss?  I thought Sam was so cool, which I realize confirms all the nerdy suspicions you ever had about me.  Do cut me some slack.  I lived in the middle of nowhere.  We didn’t have cable (it’s not available in the middle of nowhere, even today) and so I watched the three channels we managed to get with our antenna, however fuzzy.  The station airing Who’s the Boss transmitted to nowhere.  About eight times a day. 

What I didn’t watch was her 1988 workout video, Alyssa Milano’s Teen Steam Workout.  I love that in the 1980s the only qualifications for releasing a workout video were skinniness and small screen fame.  By the power of YouTube, a cross training experience for you to enjoy:

I love the shoes.  Bonus points if you can identify the make.

Title: Counting Crows – Mr. Jones. 1993.

The sound of failure calls her name

For all my talk, I’m actually a rather Zen runner.  Zen is code for I don’t push myself.  Or worse, code for I don’t really try. 

My running mates frequently speculate as to how I fast I could run if (i) I actually applied myself and (ii) I was willing to take few training and race risks.  In other words, if I followed a plan, pushed, tried. 

The No Plan.  I don’t really follow a program.  Husband recently talked to a local running coach about me and described my “training program” as an ever changing and closely guarded secret.  There is no spreadsheet.  No calendar on my fridge.  But it’s no secret.  It doesn’t exist.  If I feel I need to run fast I do some intervals.  If I feel I need to go far I do a long run.  If I feel weak I run some hills.  If I feel tired I take it easy.  I think people think I’m fibbing (or sandbagging) when they say how far are you going tonight?  How hard?  I just shrug and say we’ll see.  I’m not being difficult, I just never know until I start.  I see how it unfolds and look at the details at the end the run.  I know what I’m doing when I finish.

I run 2, 3, maybe 4 times a week.  I can’t even remember the last time I ran five days in one week.  I can readily remember the last time I ran no days in a week.  In consecutive weeks.  At around 50k, my peak mileage is equivalent to many marathoner’s low mileage weeks.  The No Training Marathon Training Program was not hyperbole for literary effect.

The No Push.  I finish races and, to quote an oft heard statement, don’t even look like I’ve run.  At the end of a marathon one should look like they’ve run.  I never ever go all out.  I’m not even sure I can go all out.  It’s why I can’t/don’t run short distances.  I don’t think I have the go all out gene.  Noake’s Central Governor, with its powerful STOP voice, is particularly loud in my brain. 

During the Chilly Half Marathon a friend chatted with about his new coach, a women who is a former 2.30 marathoner.  This coach runs with him and pushes him, motivating him to get out of his comfort zone.  As he was talking it struck me – I never leave my comfort zone, indeed I’m in that comfort zone right now, easily chatting during a race.  Saying I don’t push myself is not hyperbole for literary effect.

The No Try.  I am in a rut.  My race times rarely change.  Sure I look consistent, but truthfully I’m stuck in that damn comfort zone.  I know I have untapped potential, but I’m not sure how to turn the tap on.  Trying means the risk of failing and I’m not good at failing.  And that’s not hyperbole for literary effect.

Title: The Flaming Lips – The Sound of Failure/It’s Dark Is It Always This Dark.  2006.

I see plenty of clothes that I like

I am weak.   I mean, obviously I need a pair of pants to wear over my superman running tights.  I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to use the word necessity.   These athletic pants in which I do not actually intend to be athletic are definitely a necessary-not-frivolous purchase.  I think even Charlie Sheen Charlie Sheen Charlie Sheen would approve of this pant purchase.

p.s.  I admit it.  I don’t have much to say today and a wiser blogger than me recently gave some helpful tips on how to craft a blog post out of absolutely nothing.  The result: a photo of someone (attention stalkers: not me) in a pair of pants and a link to a blog post about posting about nothing and the required Charlie Sheen mention.  Success?  I think so.

Title: Sinead O’Connor – The Emporer’s New Clothes. 1990.

I bet you gonna ambush me

You know that old saying, that when people run together they avoid talking about running but when they aren’t running all they talk about is running?  I was discussing an interesting topic with a few pals during post-run coffee (tea for me because coffee, ick) last week …. in races, do you prefer to be the predator or the prey?  We seemed to be equally split.

I am a classic predator.  I start slow (too slow, probably) and I gradually overtake the faster starters.  I almost always run a negative split.  I count the number of people I pass in the final third of the race.  Not out loud. 

Do you like to take the lead and try to keep ahead of the pack (no matter where in the pack you may be) or do you hold back and sneak up on other runners over the course of the race?  A handy poll is included for your replying convenience.

Title: Barracuda – Heart. 1977.

Weekend Mix Tape Volume 10

Another week, another mix tape.  Just a  few this week.   A mixed “cassingle”.  Seriously, remember those?  If you want/need more, check out Mix Tapes 1-9

Whoopsie.  Adidas messes up the Boston Marathon jacket.  Related story: Boston jacket sale!  

Those crazy running dreams.  Like showing up at a race naked late.

Signs a house is occupied by runners.  Check, check, check, check ….

Stunt running by eating.  Only at McDonald’s.  For the 30 days before your race.  McRunner (not my name for him, his name for him) wisely recommends you “don’t try this at home”.  Or, I presume, at McDonald’s.   Follow every bite and mile.

I’ve made the near fatal prerun mistake of eating like a python.  Assuming pythons eat a dozen chocolate chip cookies before a hill training workout.

Let us die young or let us live forever

I’m sure by now most of you have heard about Sally Meyerhoff.  Olympic qualifying marathoner, age 27.  She was out for a training ride.  Reportedly she failed to yield at a two-way stop sign.  She died instantly when her bike collided with a pickup truck.  

I did not follow her career or read her blog, but in reading her posts now it is evident why she was beloved and admired.   Many writers have shared their thoughts on Sally’s death — I’ve linked to a few below.  I’m not a “take home message” writer, but today is different.  Take home message today: the car will always win.  Be safe.  RIP Sally.

Title: Alphaville – Forever Young. 1984.