Monday, February 27, 2012

Why We Do What We Do

This morning as I was preparing for a long and arduous day at the office sending emails, writing grant proposals, meetings and the like (obviously I'm highly important) I took a quick second to have a glance at the world's greatest time waster, also known as Facebook.  The excitement grew and my spidey senses tingled with anticipation as I waited with bated breath for my profile to appear on my hamster run laptop.   Would I have new messages?  Who posted new photos?  Did I make any new friends?  The suspense almost killed me.

Well, people, disappointed I was certainly NOT.  Awaiting for me in my message inbox, was a note from someone I know from way, way, WAY back when.  From back when I was sporting a Kenora dinner jacket and rockin' out to the sounds of Motley Crue and ACDC at pit parties deep in the Northern Ontario bush.  From back when a great deal of my time was spent at the Kenora Rec Centre going back and forth and back and forth in the pool inhaling chlorine laden "air".  A most unexpected and pleasant of surprises on this snowy and wintery morning.

First, allow me to set the stage.  Recall if you will (unless you're a runrunrunning virgin, then this is brand spanking new for you) I spend a great deal of time sharing with my legions of faithful followers (a quick note: I'd really, really love a few more followers, just saying) just how much I love running and how much peace and happiness it brings to my life.  In case there are a few doubters out there on the interweb reading my blog, I will stress and repeat: I really DO love it and it really DOES make me happy.  The note I received this morning, though, was in such direct antithesis to my own reasons for running and was expressed in such an eloquent manner, that I felt it absolutley necessary to share it with the world.  Message is as follows:

Hey Andrea,
Had to start work at 6:30am today so I only had a chance to do 3 x 1 mile intervals, 2 mins easy. Held 5:52 fairly easily over each interval and then slowed down to 5min/km pace for 2 mins. I also did 21.5 km yesterday with 4km at 4:15/km at the end – and it felt terrible.

Ever since I read your blog, I’ve been wondering why it is that I like to run. Truth be told, I don’t get the high that I hear about from other runners; at least not the kind of high that I became accustomed to in university. I don’t do it because I look good when I run; my neon yellow track suit was picked off the rack for visibility and functionality, certainly not looks. I don’t do it because it makes me look good in my underwear; I’m in one of those til-death-do-us-part contracts and personal appearance hasn’t been a high priority for me for some time. It’s not for the open roads and fresh air; while I enjoy and appreciate both of those things, I’ll be the first to admit that a warm bed and extra sleep is just that much better.

It took some hard thinking about what drives me to drag my ass out of bed at 4:45 each morning and hammer out an uncomfortably paced run. The hard thinking was mostly a reluctant acceptance that I do it all for petty reasons. I like being better than other people. I like running through the streets in rich neighbourhoods and looking up at the quiet, million dollar homes and knowing that I can run faster and that I’ll live longer than them. I like looking at the vast majority of the general public and imagining that if a very slow and persistent tidal wave came surging up, I would be able to comfortably outrun it while the others would have to struggle. I like race day where I get to inch by one competitor at a time because I got up earlier and ran just a little bit harder and dug just a little bit deeper.

It’s petty and shallow and hard to admit, but its true and it’ll drive me from my warm bed tomorrow.

Signed- Neon Yellow Track Suit

You have to admit, this is pretty funny stuff.  And honest as well.  I love that because I don't know if many people would admit that they're not sure why they do what they do, particularily when it comes to pounding the pavement several times a week.  I suppose the obvious answer would be that most people are in it to lose a few pounds or for other health related outcomes.  For some though (like NYTS above), it simply isn't about that, just like it isn't really about loving it for any specific reason.  I do appreciate the hard truths in this message and like NYTS I will admit that sometimes it does feel pretty damn awesome to think that you could outrun some idiot who may be chasing you down a dark alley one night or that you can run circles around a high school Ultimate team because all that marathon training has lead to a level of endurance that they don't even know exists (yes, this is a true story and I realize I am admitting to playing Ultimate) yet. 

As I did point out to Neon Yellow Track Suit, his message and his motives for running are neither petty nor shallow, as petty or shallow would indeed be bragging about just how awesome he does look in his neon yellow track suit.  Nothing says sexy like neon yellow track apparel after all, especially if it's made from nylon; fingers crossed that it indeed is.  The truth is, each and every one of us has our own motives and intentions for doing what we do, and in the case of running, whatever motivates people to get their feet into running shoes and their butts out the door and onto the pavement is just fine with me.  Whether you think so or not, it IS amazing that you do it.  Most people make the other choice: the warm bed in the morning, the couch after work, too busy on the weekend...

And those of us who run?  Well, as NYTS pointed out so very graciously, we can look forward to outrunning each and ever one of them when the next tidal wave hits.  Think about that next time you find yourself questioning whether or not you really and truly feel like heading out for a run.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Community Love

Shifting the focus today, running friends!

Today, this post is all about you.  And you.  And you and you and you!

But as a quick intro, I would like to say that I feel so, so fortunate to be a part of the running community.  It is a community with an amazing energy that just never seems to stop.  It has taken me to some crazy races in crazy places and will continue to do so (thinking: Swamp in Florida. admission: terrified) but more than than, the running community has been an opportunity for me to find my be with my find family outside of my family, if you will.  I have had the pleasure of running with beginning runners and ultra runners and super fast runners.  Young runners and old(er) runners and new runners.  Marathon runners and trail runners and weekend runners.  Each and every one of these people, though, is united in the one common thread. Whether it is their first kilometer or their last training mile before a big race, they are all RUNNERS.  A part of the running community, sharing and creating the energy and always teaching and inspiring me to get into my shoes, hit the path and go running. 

Runners, this one's for you!

Sending running love, energy and well wishes to all of the runners in my life. To all of the A's: Andrea F, Andrea M, Angela and Alex W who are training away for first halves and marathon domination in the midst of busy lives including school, kiddies, work and everything in between, you ladies are all awesome.  To my peeps who are in the throws of recovery and injury rehab (that would be YOU Dr. Oats and Half of Move, Eat, Hug, Miss Kori), let's hope those injuries clear up soon and you show those Boston hills and the Roger's half how its done.  The fabulous Kay Dubs in Brandon Man, you are a woman of iron patience and will and I have no doubt that when you are healthy that Boston will be yours.  While we're on Kay's I cannot forget the fabulous Kay Zee who while I am traipsing across the swamp in FLA will be pounding the sand in a half in Maui.  I wish I could count your races in my alphabet challenge!  So many races in so many cool places! Of course I cannot forget P Diddy, and huge congrats to him for racing the first half half in a speedy 1:15.  I do not even have one small doubt that you will kick this plateau in the ass.  Seriously.  Take that plateau.  And to the Techies at the Tech shop training away for the Police Half, I like it.  Keep on truckin'.  And to the lulutians who meet up on Saturdays for a fun run, you are also amazing.  I like it.  I especially like it when those near and dear to my heart join the cause.  Thanks running friends.  You.Are.Awesome.  There are many, many people I know at the start of training, in the middle of training, almost to the race part of training, and I would really like each and every one of you to know this:

You are a PART of a community with an amazing energy that you contribute to each and every time you lace up the shoes and hit the pavement, track or treadmill.  Thanks so much for doing it.  Thanks so so much for being a part of it.  And most of all, thanks for allowing ME to be a part of all of your journeys. 

Running Love.  So very awesome.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Running Shoe Fashionista

This is a photo of the shoes currently at my front door:

From left to right:

Trainer Shoes.

Regular Running shoes (Asics 2160's Love.)

Super Speedy Track Shoes (more Asics.  Love)

Saucony Hattori Minimalist trainers (for practicing barefoot running)


Admission: There are currently 4 other pairs of running shoes in my front closet.  My old running shoes.  My old old running shoes.  My old old old running shoes.  And one more older pair.  Eeep!  Time to make a donation.

Admission x2: I was just thinking how I should get a new pair of 2170's and maybe some trail shoes. 

Hi.  My name is Andrea and I am addicted to running shoes!