Thursday, March 27, 2008

Where x equals y


As I creep closer to the ripe old age of forty, there are a few things, where running is concerned, that I can shout from the rooftops with great certainty.

First, like fine furniture of the same era, I creek and crack with just the slightest of movements compared to just a few years ago; a condition that seems to worsen in colder temperatures for both the furniture and me.

Second, and along the same lines as my first point, I am no longer indifferent to running in cold weather - I much prefer bodily warmth and dryness before, during, and after a run.

Third, and along the same lines as my second point, I am without question turning into a fair-weather runner; this wouldn't be such a big deal if I lived in a fair-weather region, but I don't, so as my tolerance for running in rain, sleet, snow, drizzle and some of the other stuff my hometown throws at me diminishes, the chances that I skip a run or two will no doubt increase in the years ahead.

Finally, and completely separate from my first three points, being a member of a running club made up of your co-workers brings you closer, a lot closer, to them.

Lately I've been thinking about our club and the way we interact with each other and how our relationships have changed since we all decided to strip down to our skivvies and pound the pavement together. I am a hundred times more in tune with everyone in the club and I have had general, every day conversations about life's little moments and other obscure topics with most members that I would never have with "just a co-worker"; in the past, our conversations would have been limited to financial statements, purchase orders and company policies.

And it's not just that I am getting to know these people better, I feel an almost sibling-like attachment to them and I've found that their health and well-being matters more to me than ever before. When club members get sidelined with injuries, illnesses, or other personal matters, I hope, with great sincerity, that they are able to recover quickly because without them, the group is missing a part of its sum, x doesn't equal y, there's no yin to our yang, our feng is without shui.

We've been challenged, big time, since we started our half marathon training in January, x hasn't equalled y very often. Most of us have been struck down with illness or injury at some point over the past few months, and during the few brief periods when that wasn't plaguing us, the weather has provided a further slap to the group's face. But I'm a great believer that tenaciousness and commitment win out over everything. Stick with it and you'll be rewarded. And that will make crossing the finish line in Halifax that much more special for all of us.

I just hope the weather's warm.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Golden Years


by Ray Lawlor

My running ambitions began about six years ago when I turned the big five-o, the start of the Golden Years as they are known. I have always loved life and made a pact with myself to cherish and chase after every moment that I can nourish out of life. How best could I do this? Simple. Take care of myself and get in better shape. Running would be a great start.

So off I went, running up and down the streets of downtown Logy Bay. Time and distance were starting to stretch out, 20 minutes here, a mile there. Then one day I was struggling up O'Rourke's Lane when severe pain attached itself to my left calf. “Keep running”, I thought to myself and it will go away -- wrong. I was sidelined for several months, and with fall approaching fast, I had no desire to continue running. Oh the Golden Years!

Spring rolls around and I'm back on the streets determined to take it easy. Pushing myself just a little I noticed an uncomfortable feeling in my breathing of all things. Off to the doctor I go just to be safe and we find out I have minor heart problems with blockages. Oh great! “What about my running dear boy?”, I ask the doctor. “You'll have to curb that for now until we get things under control”, he says. Well, there goes another wasted year in my master plan to reach my ultimate physical condition. Oh the Golden Years!

After a year plus laid up “I'm out there, Jerry”, as Kramer would say, and running with the best of them. Ah, a beautiful day on the go, it’s late evening and coming on dark as I head into the woods, running down hill when I flop on my foot, you know, something like stepping off a sidewalk and getting an uneasy sensation; you’ve all experienced it I'm sure. I'm alone in the woods, bent over in pain and no one to help me. I wait close to an hour for relief all the whole time frightened the fairies would get me as I am told they once got Mary Decker many years ago. I finally had to cripple home and hang up my sneakers for the season, once again, disappointed with life. Oh the Golden Years!

Next season I get a notice Metrobus is starting a running club -- great I'll join that. These kind people will take care of me and get me to a healthy point in my life. The notice says, running starts on the 3rd of January. These people are crazy, but keep at it and life will improve I kept telling myself. A month or more of training had passed when “the coach”, our fearless leader, calls for a speed day. Out we all go in front of the building racing as hard as we could to cover thirty yards of pavement. Good for the heart he says as suddenly I develop a cramp in my calf, right one this time, and low and behold I'm on the DL once again. That put me out of commission for another month before I was in good enough shape to try once again. Oh the Golden Years!

Slow and easy I take it to re-enter the race so to speak. Still in the same year things seem to be coming along quite well. I start to see signs of my leg strengthening. But one night while at home and readying myself to sit down and tell my wife all about my running career, all hell breaks loose – hello sciatic nerve. Two trips to the hospital in one night, oh the pain. Forget the running for this season. On top of that I lost a week off work. First time off in thirty-five years, that's right thirty-five years! Curse it all. Oh the Golden Years!

Nine months later and a new year has come around. I start it with a resolution to be patient and run in control of myself. Believe it or not, no injuries in the first month and a half I've been at it.

Will you help me get through these Golden Years? Please?