Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Boy Who Can't Stop Running - The Passionate Eye | CBC News Network

In light of my last blog regarding running like a kid, a friend of mine thought I would be interested in this story; the story of a four year-old marathoner from India. From the slums, he was "saved" and adopted by his coach. Is it a better life than begging in the slums? Most of us would say he wasn't "saved" at all. But is he better off running massive distances or being beaten by the peddler his mother sold him to. It's interesting that the Indian government cares so much about this type of abuse when daily domestic abuse continues without attracting anywhere near the same attention and concern. It certainly speaks to the power of the international media.

I still think it's important that we run like kids, but, as the Lazy Trail Runner brilliantly stated this morning, on a long run, "this is more like a kid running like an adult". Click below to read the story or watch the video. To watch the video click on "Obama's War". I'm not sure why, but that's where it is.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Run Like a Kid

As I came up the stairs onto Hyannis Drive I saw a table covered in food, a bucket filled with sponges and water, and whack of smiling, happy people, including one of my colleagues. I was nearing the finish of the 2007 Knee Knacker and I was feeling amazing. I had some food, hugged my colleague, had a chat with some of the best volunteers on the North Shore, and carried on to tackle the Seymour Grind. That year I finished the Knacker in my best time ever and I felt better than ever. Sure the training helped, but there was something else. I was happy.

Really, really, happy.

This past summer, I blogged about Chris McDougall's book, Born to Run, and I mentioned the idea of barefoot running. That's not what stands out from that book anymore. What does stand out however, is that so many successful (loaded word) runners are happy when they run and they are truly, and deeply, engaged with the people around them. They clearly love running and wouldn't give that experience up for anything. It is a way of life. I believe McDougall's example was of the Tarahumara of Copper Canyon, Mexico. While racing Leadville in 1993, they were described running up a hill late in the race upon which most other runners were brought to a slow walk. These guys were allegedly laughing and talking as they bounded to the top. I haven't run Leadville, but I can try to imagine what some of the runners went through to survive that one hill.

Why do we runners run? Everytime I visit my mom in Kelowna I take the opportunity to get out and run a little in the Okanagan. She always asks me why I run and will inevitably tell me about some suffering sap she had seen the week prior, going down the road looking like hell. She tells me how miserable this guy looked and she cannot figure out why he, and so many others, are out there. I never have an answer for her, but I suppose it's because they want to. Maybe they have a health goal, or their doctor told them to. Or maybe it's because they can and they really enjoy running.

Remember running as a kid? You'd rip across the grass in bare feet, leap through a sprinkler, and turn around and come back. Or sprinting into the waves at the beach. You weren't going anywhere but in circles, and it was fun. Just fun. Everyone knew who was the fastest kid in the class, but it didn't matter, we all still ran. This way, that way, up, down, wherever. I vividly remember going to the water slides and running up those hills to the top for 5 or 6 hours straight. It was fun for every kid, and everyone could do it. That is until we were graded on running. Remember the 12 minute run? Of course I loved it. It was easy marks, but I know heaps of kids who hated it, including my sister. Running became a job for them. They were being forced to run for a grade and most of them only ran as far as was necessary to get a C+ or a pass.

After a long run yesterday I sat on my couch feeling great. I'd run for just less than four hours and all in all, it felt pretty good. Sure, I was tight in a few spots, but I really had a good time and I kept my mind on smiling throughout the run. You can imagine how stupid it looked, me smiling away in the woods, but the parts where I was super mindful of being happy with that moment, were the spots where I really flew. (Now you know why I took off up Old Buck and Good Samaritan, Mr. Coo.) In that same light, not a person goes by on the trail that I don't say hello to. It makes me feel good and off I go down the trail.

Try it sometime, I dare ya. Put a huge smile on your face and let it fly down the trail, like when you were a kid running through a sprinkler. I saw a sign today, in Starbucks of all places, that said, "I wish grown ups could remember what it was like to be a kid". Be a kid!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Cinnamon Bunner Shaw 10k

He's back. The "not-so -Lazy Trail runner" has redeemed his title as a runner rather than a wine and tequila connoisseur.

It was an ideal Vancouver winter day. The skies were clear, the earth was frozen, and hundreds of eager runners dawned their spikes, road shoes, clogs, or whatever it was they had, and came down to the 26th annual Gunner Shaw 10k, at Jericho Beach. With Tran media services out on the course, I knew I
must look my best. Sporting Salomon's Exo II compression tights, I wanted to be fast, but not so fast that the wheels came off this running bus in the first of two 5k loops.
Traffic was heavy out of the start and I found myself dodging tree branches, people's high kicks, and the odd lump of frozen dog log. I couldn't see Coo or Letchford anywhere, but I ran my pace and felt great. About 2k in I spotted the Lazy Trail runner. He was cruising at my two o'clock and I aimed to reel him in. We both slowed for the beach section and only I knew we were running together. It's amazing how close we are in gait and pace, but I figured if he saw me he'd spook and bolt. I ran just off his left shoulder until he heard me. He looked to his right as he cornered downhill toward the beaver pond and with an overextended, giraffe-like neck, he saw me. He called me a name of some sort and took off down the hill. I followed suit and managed to ride about 20 meters back throughout the entire first lap, through a 19 minute 5k split , and half way through the second lap. With about 2k to go, I rolled past Tran Media Services, made the short loop up hill to 4th, and forced out a high five for the very comfortable Kev. Still about 200 meters out in front of me, and laying down the law, was Coo. My pursuit wasn't enough. Before the end I caught him slightly, but was still 20 or so seconds back. With the taste of iron in my mouth, I doubled back to the start of the finish chute and saw Kev rolling it in with some serious juice left in the legs.

It was a perfect cross country day. Blue sky, cold air, and fairly dry terrain, other than the mandatory stink hole they made us leap through. The best part of it all was sitting in Grounds for Coffee after the race, with achy legs, a fat cinnamon bun topped with cream cheese icing, and a large dark roast. It didn't seem to matter that our stink covered shoes were rotting in the back of my Subaru.