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A DNF to be Proud Of

April 18, 2019
One of the greatest races in one of the most spectacular of settings that I ever ran was also my one and only DNF.  Did Not Finish.  Three words that a runner never wants to hear and especially after spending an entire year training specifically for that race and, more than $10,000. Yes, some of us are silly enough to pay such an amount to run just one single event.  Spoiler alert: It was the best $10,000 I ever spent! It was spring of 2007 and I was sitting in my office flipping through running magazines when I came across an article on a race that made my heart start to speed up and then jackhammer in my chest.  I wasn’t necessarily looking for a new adventure but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to do it.  I had to do it, you see, because it scared me half to death. Ever since I was a child I had this funny thing with fear.  Fear of the dark?  OK, so let’s go downstairs into the basement which was simply a half-dug hole in the ground beneath the house, turn off the lights and see why I’m so scared!   Fear of what was lurking under my bed?  Guess I’ll be sleeping there tonight to ensure it’s only my imagination. Run a 250+ KM race through the “world’s least hospitable landscape” with 35lbs on my back and rationed water?  Guess I’ll be heading to China to run the Gobi March!It was that simple:  it scared me senseless so I had to run it. More than anything it was the idea of running back-to-back-to-back marathons when I originally read repeatedly that one should only run 4 marathons a year, at most, in order to prevent injury and allow the body to fully recover between races.  However, the Gobi March is set up as so that one ran “roughly” a marathon a day for 4 days straight, the fifth day a mere “80-100”KM and then the sixth day a nice little 10K leg-stretcher.  Distances were rough because the course was literally mapped out the day prior by race staff. Runners need to carry their own food, medical supplies, clothes, toilet paper, books and whatever else they may want, on their back for the entire 6 days.  Runners would be given enough water to get through the first leg of the race on Day One and then additional water every check point which could be between 10 and 25K depending on the terrain.  That rationed water would be used to not only drink but cook dehydrated food over an open fire, to bathe with and to potentially wash your clothes with. Basically this event went against everything I had ever learned about running yet it intrigued me so much that I signed up immediately … and perhaps so that I wouldn’t back down.  I put down the hefty deposit then tore the pages out of the magazine and printed more off

Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve

March 24, 2014
I’m currently in Mexico enjoying the last few days of a wonderful trip with my fiancée.  We started our adventure by spending some time with good friends in Cuernavaca – a picturesque city known for the filming of many Latin-American soap operas – and then Mexico City before heading down to the beautiful coast of the Mayan Riviera. After checking into our resort, ditching our bags and swapping out shorts and shoes for bathing suits and flip-flops, we headed down to the pool to soak up the balance of that days’ sunshine. We hadn’t been in the pool more than 5 minutes when we met some nice people from Michigan that asked how long we were there for.  It was to be the start of standard resort chit chat that was about to quickly remind me that not everyone thinks the same way. I explained that we were staying at that particular resort of 8 nights, however, we were in Mexico for a total of 3 weeks. “Three weeks!”  They exclaimed!  “Must be nice!  You guys are so lucky!”  I didn’t dare tell them that we’ve been basically travelling non-stop for the past 3 years. “I wouldn’t call it luck.” I said.  “I work every day of the year regardless of where I am.  I simply choose to work while traveling rather than in a static location.” That opened up the usual barrage of questions like, ‘what do you do for a living?’, ‘how did you get into that business?’, and the ever-so-popular, ‘where all have you traveled?’  Then, after a few more feeling around questions, the really weighted question: ‘how do you afford so much travel?’ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that exact conversation over the past 5 years.  I probably had that conversation, or some variation of it, at least a dozen times just in that pool alone over those 8 days.  People love to chat while on holidays and especially when they think someone has a magic key to traveling more or breaking free from the typical confines of work. And, every single time I answer their questions and give them a glimpse at my view of that magic key, explaining that a life like ours isn’t that difficult to achieve nor is it expensive and especially compared to “the typical North American lifestyle”, I see their eyes start to drift and then they eventually go back to telling me that I’m lucky. Even those that dare to tell me that one day they would like to work for themselves, or retire early to travel, or, buy that boat they’ve been talking about for two decades to sail the world, it always comes back to the same:  One day… I’m here to tell you that I don’t buy into this business of ‘One day’.  I never have and I assure you that it will never come for the over-whelming majority of people.   And if they aren’t telling me about their One Day plans,

Getting Back In The Groove

January 22, 2014
For some runners, January can be a bit of a struggle to get back into our running routine. Colder weather, icy roads, fewer hours of sunlight, a few extra pounds from the holiday season and of course, re-runs of our favorite 80’s television programs all make it difficult to return to the glory days of running the previous fall.  And I’m not pointing fingers here…I’m actually looking in the mirror.  And while I’m here, what’s that soft lump covering my belt? Yes, we can all find a reason to stay in bed that extra thirty minutes, or, hit the sofa immediately after getting home from work.  Just thinking about going for a 5K or 6 mile run makes us shudder!  How did we ever run that Half or Full Marathon last fall?  I think the Friendship Run would do me in right now! One of the greatest hurdles that we face when returning to running or exercise in general is that we expect to be able to jump back in where we left off, regardless of how many months (or years) ago that was.  And if we can’t then we guilt ourselves. That’s an unfair expectation of anyone, so, why do we challenge ourselves with it? Getting back into the groove can be a very easy and rewarding experience if we tackle it from a slightly different angle.  Rather than guilting yourself into running 10K as punishment for all the eggnog you consumed at the in-laws place, lace up and head out for an easy 3K jog.  Yes, just 3K, like when you first started running.  Baby steps first, then build on that.  And when’s the best time to do that 3K jog?  Within the next 24 hours!  Putting it off any more means creating a larger mental obstacle to climb later. The only way to re-create a positive habit is by getting out there and as soon as possible. “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”  Aristotle may or may not have been a runner, however, he brings up a fantastic point!  And how long does it take to create habit?  Well, that’s pretty individual to be honest, but for the vast majority, two weeks or less.  That’s it!   Just think, you start running again today and by the end of the first week of February you will already be racking up the mileage and wondering what took you so long to re lace up those shoes! For those that need a firmer push out the door, register for a race that excites you and is outside of your comfort zone that’s scheduled in the next 4 to 6 months.  Knowing that you are committed to a race (and that you put your money on the line) is a great motivator to get out the door rather than waiting for re-runs of Alf to end.

A Special Kind of Victory

October 15, 2013
They say that everything can change in a moment: your plans, your priorities or your luck.   Normally it’s when you least expect it and therefore, for most, it’s unwanted change.  However, when we accept what is and go with the flow, sometimes that change brings us new opportunities. In my last blog I mentioned a current health struggle.  I just spent this past July and August in Edmonton undergoing some tests and procedures to deal with a tumor.  And, this tumor is what led to a fast decline in my energy levels over the past months and hence inability to continue running.  If nothing else I now know why I felt the way I did, and, I can now properly adjust my future plans. Part of those plans, I had thought, would be watching this year’s New York City Marathon from the sidelines rather than completing it myself.  However, following scopes, scalpels and um, diapers, I’m pleased to announce that the mass was successfully removed and all follow up tests thus far indicate that I am well on my way to a full recovery!  The NYC Marathon is back on!  It’ll just look a little different than the original plan, and that’s OK! I’ve made the temporary move back to Barcelona, Spain, and training like I have never trained before:  by walking. Today marks my second 22K walk around this beautiful city in less than a week.  Being a runner and an avid traveler I typically enjoy exploring foreign destinations by running them, not walking.  However, I’m going with the flow and so far loving it!  Besides, I find that walking takes way less out of a person than running which leaves energy enough to head over to La Rambla afterwards to sit on a patio, sip a sangria and watch the tourists saunter by!   So running is out for a while and walking is in.  It’ll be the same course, the same distance and the same medal at the end; it’ll just take me a few hours longer than the previous 7 times I completed it.  However, crossing that finish line will mark a new sort of victory for me and it will really have very little to do with the marathon at all.

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