Saturday, December 29, 2007

My "thing"


It was only a few days ago, Christmas Eve to be exact, that I was lamenting over what a lousy year 2007 has been for me in terms of running. Injuries kept me on the sidelines for more days than I care to remember making 2007 my lowest mileage year ever, by far. If that didn't provide enough fuel to fill my self pity tank, during the last group run of the year, I go out and pull a calf muscle six minutes in - cue the violin.

Things happen for a reason; no one is ever sure what those reasons are, but by you accepting this premise, my story will flow a little better. I was at the height of my self pity, a pathetic sight for sure, realizing that I would not get out on Boxing Day for my annual "Christmasy" run when my "thing" happened. It wasn't an event or a revelation, it was a Christmas gift from my wife, Gloria. It wasn't an expensive gift or running gear, nor was it even a book about running. My "thing" was a simple picture of me finishing my favourite race in July of this year, dry mounted with the following words etched over top:

"One foot in front of the other...if you stumble, never stop."

The gift was special for two reasons. First, it was kind of creative and if you know Gloria, you'll understand what I mean when I say that she and creativity often travel separately. But second, the gift was special because it brought a purpose to what I was believing to be a lousy running year. A little eight by ten piece of foam core suddenly made all of those days watching other people run when I myself could not, meaningful. When you're injured, you look after yourself and when you look after yourself you can do the things you want to do. The human spirit is indeed unbreakable.

I can now look forward to 2008 and all that it holds for me and I look at 2007 a little differently than before; after all, had it not unfolded the way it did, I never would have received my special "thing".

Go out and make 2008 your masterpiece.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I can't. Can I?


One of the things I love about running is watching other runners, newer ones especially, figure out what they're capable of; this played itself out yet again with two runners in our Club over the past few weeks.

Now don't get me wrong, running is tough, but the battle with one's own psyche, is at times, an unwinnable fight; most newer runners are not suitably armed to wage the war.  Newer runners are always telling me they can't run up hills, or they can't run any faster, or they can't run any farther - I tell them if that's the way they feel about it, then they're probably right.  But one day when the light comes on, and it will come on, they'll figure out that "can't" is just a state of mind.

I spent the first year of my wife's running career listening, often times through tears, to how hard running was and how she just couldn't run any farther.  Then, during a Christmas time 5-K event the light came on and in she came with a smile on her face; she hasn't looked back since.
And it was through Gloria's struggles that  I could see that my running had developed beyond just exercise, way past the sweating and the panting. My running had become a collection of experiences, a chance to see the sights that would not normally grab my attention, a chance to say hello to others around me that I would not normally acknowledge. Indeed, my running had become a chance to celebrate my ability to put one foot in front of the other, and that puts me at the head of the pack, no matter how far back I finish, no matter how slow I am.

So to Bev who knocked six minutes off her 5-K time and to Ray who finished his first road race and surfed the "runner's high" for days afterwards, I congratulate you both, not so much on your accomplishments, but for running far enough on your first wind to realize that you have a second.

That's two more who have won the war.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Auld Lang Syne


What a difference a year makes.

This week I've been putting the finishing touches on a half-marathon training program for our Running Club that begins with some 2 mile runs next month, and winds its way from there to the 13 mile road race.  A year ago I was putting together a program for this same group that started out with some 20 minute walks.  That's progress.

December tends to be the month that we reflect on the year gone by and decide whether it was a memorable one, or something a little more ordinary.  From a running perspective and specifically with respect to our Running Club, 2007 was terrific, to say the least.   To think a group of basically sedentary people could log hundreds of miles and for some, participate in six road races, all in the first year, is remarkable.

But my memories of 2007 are not just about the running; along the way we've had some fun too.  We designed and proudly model our very own clothing line; together we've enjoyed post-race "breakfasts" and post-Sunday run snacks; we hosted an Awards Gala complete with red carpet-worthy gowns and silky black ties; we shared in each other's triumphant finish of a July 10-miler; we nursed a few injuries and had the good sense to volunteer during, and not participate in, a mostly uphill October road race; we played tag, football and started our own ball hockey league; we put off our own running event with the inaugural Pouch Cove 5-K & Cabin Breakfast; we shuffled with Santa himself; and, in a few weeks, we'll take a 5-K victory lap to celebrate it all when the sun goes down on New Year's Eve and an unforgettable 2007.

Where does the time go?  To my fellow Running Club friends I say a huge thanks for the fun that was 2007 - you've inspired me in more ways than I could ever write about, and the respect and admiration I have for each of you is immeasurable.  You're all heroes in my book.

Look out Halifax and heads up 2008.  We're running our way to another special year.