Thursday, April 24, 2008

Good luck with that


By Ray Lawlor

Running. What’s it all about?

Well from my perspective this is how I see it.

First, the initial idea of going out and running gives me a feeling of “yes” with fists clenched. “Let’s do it!”

But the reality is you actually have to run, and by run I mean up hills as well, this is St. John’s, it is unavoidable.

Hmm, now the fun just left the idea.

I sit and think about this and realize it’s true; you do have to run to be a runner. Then the questions flood into my head; ones I find serious, like, do I want to do this for any length of time?


Do I want to be out in nasty weather to run?


Do I want to be getting up early in the mornings to run?


Do I want to feel the pain other runners talk about?

Definitely NO!

Do I really care when it comes down to it that I may even lose weight even if it’s just a few pounds?


So that’s it, I’m not going to run or be a runner, my mind’s made up.

Ah, my mind is relaxed - I don’t have to worry about running and all the bad weather with rain and snow and wind. I don’t have to do it. I don’t like it and I’m not doing it. For what?
Those poor suffering so-called runners out there today, cold and wet, and I’m here in my office warm and dry. Where would you rather be?

Time to check my e-mail, let’s see now...oh here’s one from Mark.

WHAT? Is he mad? Start a running club, here at work? The man is losing it. There is not a person in the office that can run the length of the building let alone a mile or two. Some of us (me especially) are even in our fifties, that’s too old to run. Let’s wait and see where this goes.

Good luck, Mark.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Boston bound


I've always had it in my head that Boston is a town I'd like to visit. On top of being home to Super Bowl and World Series champions, the city is also home to some of the best restaurants in North America; sports and food - need I say more? But it isn't the Red Sox or Sal's Pizza that has me in a Boston state of mind, it has more to do with the six consecutive hours I spent earlier this week watching the terrific coverage of the 112th Boston Marathon and the famous 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to Boston.

Watching the elite runners consistently pushing the 5 minute per mile barrier for all 26 miles and still having enough left for a sprint down Boylston Street was simply unbelievable. Like any other race I watch or participate in, however, it was the collection of stories that unfolded behind the winners that left me sneaking a swipe over my tear-soaked eyes on more than one occasion.

There was the Lance Armstrong story that ended with him tearing-up the course in just his third marathon since retiring from cycling. Soon after that, 66-year old Dick Hoyt crossed the finish line in a little over three hours all the while pushing his wheelchair-bound son, Rick. Then there was the group of U.S. Army cadets who ran the entire race in full fatigues carrying 50 pound sacks on their backs in memory of their fallen comrade who had been killed a few weeks earlier while on duty in Iraq. And just as that was playing itself out, the camera picked up a determined soul as he crawled the last 50 yards of the race on his hands and knees - I have never seen anything like that before.

It seemed everybody was running for a cause - some for charity, some for family members, some for themselves and some even just for fun. Whatever the reasons, the day spent in front of my television reinforced my belief that running is about so much more than pace and stride - running asks, "can you?" - we provide the answers.

So to the 25,000 runners who provided their own answers and woke up this morning too sore to move, I salute you - undoubtedly your lives have been changed forever by the Boston experience. Who knows, next year I might just be there on the sidelines to cheer you on.

Dinner's on me.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Chronology of the perfect run


Experts will tell you, and I agree wholeheartedly, that all runners, from back-of-the-packers to the elite, should maintain a running log. It's important to keep track of how you felt, how far you ran, what the weather was like and what you ate so you can look for patterns in your performance and determine what factors led to your best runs.

I've reached what I believe is the "runner's high" on only a couple runs so far in my running career, the latest one being just a few days ago. When writing in my training journal about my 8-miler last Sunday, I summed it up this way:

Best run of my life!

My perfect run had nothing to do with pace or distance. My perfect run was made up of the euphoric feelings that overwhelmed me at a number of different points along the route, the feeling that I could keep going and easily run another eight miles and the feeling that I never wanted this run to end (although somewhere deep down, I was quite happy to press the stop button on my watch). Only a few months ago, while needing the assistance of a cane to get around, I doubted if I'd ever run again, so this day ended up being my defiant response to a wonky back that has had me questioning my ability for a year now.

Here's how it unfolded...

6:12 AM
Hmmm, overslept. This can't be good. Better get up, look out the window and decide whether or not we're going. DM doesn't like it when I make the call too late.

6:14 AM
Blue sky and sunshine? Are you kidding me? I must be dreaming, we haven't had a Sunday like this since...I can't remember when we last had a Sunday like this.

6:25 AM
Checked the latest weather forecast and updated the website with the "GO-GO" message. Weather is supposed to hold for most of the day. Hope they're right for a change.

6:30 AM
Have an idea for a new page on my website. Probably shouldn't start this now, but, oh what the heck.

7:51 AM
Geez, where did the time go. Half bagel with peanut butter, get dressed, fill my water bottles and we gotta' move.

8:25 AM
Arrive at our Club's meeting place, most are already there. Must be the sunshine that has everyone so eager. Turn on my iPod and start warming up. I see the sun and walk towards it staring at it through my sunglasses - I can see it smiling at me, this is going to be a great day. Shirley sees me, walks over and questions why I'm all alone. "Just getting into my little space," I reply. Eminem's "Lose Yourself" puts me in the right frame of mind - talk about timing.

8:37 AM
I check my watch and ask the group why we're so late getting things going. Mary apologizes claiming it's her fault. Not totally believing her, I laugh it off to myself all the while thinking her sister Heather is the culprit - doesn't matter though, they both get a free pass with me - two of the good ones for sure. Away we go to start our formal group warm-up.

8:42 AM
Off and running. Here we go. I clap the group on by and tell them to enjoy every moment and then it's my turn to start running. "Nice and slow," I tell myself - that's my mantra for today. The group makes its way up the first street together. Some of us are going too fast - hope they don't pay for it later.

8:47 AM
OK, five minutes gone, time to settle into my pace - going for eleven minute miles today. A quick look at my watch, yikes, I'm on ten minute pace. "Nice and slow," I tell myself and back off to eleven minute pace.

8:53 AM
My watch beeps to tell me the first mile is done 10:59 pace - like clockwork. Boy I'm glad I've got my sunglasses today. It's the first Sunday in a while that we've needed them for UV and not ice pellet protection.

9:00 AM
"Nice and slow," I tell myself. I see a pickup truck coming towards me with large side mirrors aiming for my skull. "He'll move," I tell myself. Turns out he was a she and no she won't. I step off the side of the road into the ditch to avoid the certain pain of the mirror smacking off my forehead. "Nice," I think to myself.

9:04 AM
Mile two done. 10:54 pace. When I reach the next street I'll take a sip of water.

9:08 AM
Time for water - is it on my left side or is that Gatorade - can't see 'cause my coat is covering my belt. Let's see, I never get this right. I'm thinking right side so I'll go for the left. Damn it, that was the Gatorade, quick switch, couple of sips and back to the running. I think I'll run with the traffic on this street. It's not busy and my legs could use some time running on the opposite slant.

9:15 AM
Mile three behind me, 10:56 pace. I'm on today, everything feels right. Something's gotta' give. Wait, the left side of brain is trying to takeover, c'mon, right side, right side. I think it's safer running with traffic to my back. Seems they swerve to avoid me when they know I can't see them. Could be blog topic. Man it would be cool if you could blog while you're running. Let me think about that, I'm sure there's some way to pull that off.

9:26 AM
Another mile gone at 10:58 pace. I couldn't run this consistently on a treadmill. What a day. Haven't seen many cars. When did all these houses get built. Have to get out more often. Time for some Gatorade. Which side was it again. Man, I have no short-term memory at all. DM would laugh. Even funnier, I pulled the wrong bottle out once again. Quick sip, chase it down with some water and back at it.

9:36 AM
Five miles in, latest one was at 10:56 pace. I'm getting warm. I roll my toque up over my ears and hope my sunglasses don't fall off my head - they weren't cheap but the sales girl who sold them to me was really cool. There's Tim Horton's - do I need the washroom for any reason? Nope. Feeling good all around. Long, gradual downhill coming. Looking forward to that. Wasn't looking forward to getting the crap scared out of me by another runner who caught up to me; at least she turned, smiled and said hello as she passed. I can't help but notice she's in shape - sometimes I wish I was faster.

9:47 AM
Another mile finished, this one at 10:43 pace. Too fast Marky, "Nice and slow," I tell myself again. A final water break. Don't care what I take in now - whatever I pull out of my belt I'm drinking. Can't get this one wrong. I hope the rest of the group remembers to drink something.

9:54 AM
Hmmm, must be dehydrated. That looks like Chris up ahead. He wouldn't be here. What's my name? Where do I live?

9:55 AM
Spoke with Chris and hi-fived him. Feel better now. Not hallucinating.

9:58 AM
Seventh mile complete - 11:05 pace. Too slow Marky. One mile to go, let's pick it up.

10:07 AM
Should be done now. Quick look at the watch, yikes, still need a quarter mile to make 8. Ray's not gonna' like this.

10:09 AM
Last mile completed, fastest one of them all - 10:34 pace. Press the stop button on my watch, turn around and start walking back towards where I thought we would finish. Pump my fist at my side and let out an audible "YES!". That was amazing.

Looking forward to next Sunday.