The Pain Weenie Apologises

Five days have passed since I ran the Toronto Marathon.  The pain is long gone.  I’m back to running every day.

I’m a bit embarrassed about Sunday’s blog post. The one where I complained about all the pain I felt during the race, and how it sucked all of the joy out of the experience. A bit of a silly complaint, now that I think about it. You want joy, Dave? Take a bubble bath. Eat a chocolate chip cookie. Watch the monkeys at the zoo.

Marathons are supposed to hurt! That’s why they’re called marathons!

Anyhoo, the pain is now forgotten. And guess what – I want to run another race!

Right now. This instant. Okay, tomorrow. Okay, Sunday.

Not only do I want to run another marathon. I want to run it fast! 

All that stuff I wrote on Sunday, about never again wanting to ruin a race fast? Forget that. That was the pain talking. That wasn’t me. That was an imposter. The pain weenie:

pain 3

Don’t listen to him. He’s a famous complainer – especially around kilometer 32. He’ll come around once the race is over. Ignore him if you can. Instead, listen to THIS guy:

finish line 2-4

See that? He’s flying. He’s moving so fast, his feet don’t even touch the ground. And he’s one step away from reaching a long-held goal.

A weird goal, I’ll admit: running a marathon in less than 3 hours. It prompted a lot of friends to ask me: why do you run so much? 

Excellent question. Wish I had a good answer. But the truth is, I just feel great when I run.

I’m like that dog in your house who perks up his ears and starts whimpering at the front door when you accidentally say the word “outside.” The dog whose tail starts smacking the floor when you get the leash out the closet, and who literally explodes out the front door before you’ve even unchained it.

Have you seen the dog in this video? It’s basically me. This is how I feel when I run:

 

 

Don’t Defer Your Dreams

Lord help me, I can’t believe I’m about to write this.

I never thought I’d become this kind of guy. The kind of guy who sets hard-core running goals. Who spends more time staring at his Garmin watch than at the passing scenery. Who pays attention to dreary things like splits, heart rate, lactate threshold.

Lord help me. Ten days from now, I’m going to try to run a marathon in less than 3 hours.

Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Fun fact: To complete a marathon in less than 3 hours you must run at an average speed of 8.9 miles per hour (14.3 km/h) for – you guessed it – three hours. Not one hour. Not two hours. Three hours. That’s longer than the movie Titanic.

How fast is 8.9 mph? Next time you’re at the gym, climb onto the treadmill and find out. Crank that puppy up to 6.0 mph. Brisk pace, ain’t it? Now dial it up to 7. Starting to sweat? Good! Now push that “up” button another 19 times, until the LED display reads 8.9. Hurts, don’t it? Feels like your heart is going to explode. Now keep running like that for 179 more minutes.

Waterfront1

Confession: I don’t actually think I’m capable of a 3-hour marathon.  I’ve run a 3:04 twice. That may sound close to 3:00, but it’s not even in the same ballpark. Those four minutes might as well be four hours, in terms of training. Realistically, I need to invest in six months of hill climbing in order to shave off that kind of time.

Still… If I don’t attempt this now…will I ever?

The odds aren’t in my favour. Physiologically speaking, I’m running out of time. I love going into classrooms and telling kids that Anything is possible! And while I’m not lying when I say these sorts of things, we need to remember, I’m talking to kids. Young people have plenty of time to develop and improve as athletes. For us seasoned runners, the reality is quite different. At a certain point, our bodies start breaking down. After age 39, they really start breaking down.

All this to say, don’t defer your dreams!  In the words of the old folktale: if you will not when you may, you may not when you will.

Still, there’s the little matter of the three stitches in my right shin. And did I mention that I have Shingles? Yeah, that won’t help my cause other.

I’ve got no shortage of excuses. Really, it’d be so easy to put this thing off. To relax until next year, when I’m convinced I’ll be better trained. Statistically speaking, of course, that’s unlikely. The odds suggest I’ll be slower a year from now.

So damn the torpedoes – it’s now or never.  

And if I fail? Well, that wouldn’t be so bad either. In my experience, failures are usually more interesting than successes.  As this attests.

And I figured that if I made my goal public, i.e. HERE ON THIS BLOG, then the threat of public disgrace would help push me to my limit.

So mark the date – Sunday October 20. The more of you who follow me, the greater the pressure I’ll feel to succeed! I don’t want your money; just your misplaced hopes. I’ll be bib #783, and I promise not to let you down. Unless of course I do. In which case, it’ll be a good story too.

Going Long. Too Long.

We runners love to set goals.  Drop a few pounds; shave a few minutes off a PR, improve our finishing kick.  We set expectations, and then we go out and exceed them.  Except for those rare occasions when we don’t.

A couple of years ago,  I decided to run 4000 kilometres.  Why 4000?  I’m not sure.  It felt like a big, braggable number.  And it was just slightly beyond my comfort zone.  Previously, the most I’d ever run in a year was 3500 kilometres.

A few facts about running 4000 kilometres:

In order to cover 4000 kilometres in a year, you must run 11k each and every day.

If you take a day off, you’ll need to run 22k on some subsequent day to make it up.

If you get sick, and miss a week of running, you’re on the hook for eighty clicks.

It quickly became clear that my whimsical little goal would require some careful planning.  I’d need to pay attention to diet, sleep, hydration, injury prevention, stretching, recovery, supplements, etc.  In short, I would need to become the most BORING person on the face of the planet.

I’m sorry to report, that’s exactly what happened.

I suffered injuries, I got sick, and I spent the entire year obsessively totaling my mileage.  As the months went by, I became more and more depressed.  I didn’t understand what was happening to me at the time, but I do now.  I spent the whole year staring at the odometer instead of the gorgeous scenery I was running past.

“You used to be a peddler of joy,” Shawna said towards the end of the year. “But you’ve turned into a fun vacuum.”

Haliburton10-8303

On the last day of the year, December 31st, I was 6 kilometer shy of my goal. I’d run 3994 kilometers in 364 days.  In the month of December alone, I’d run 600 kilometers.

It was a sunny and dry day, and there was no physical reason why I shouldn’t have pulled on my gear and dashed off the final 6 km to meet my goal.

And yet, I didn’t.

Why?

Years before, at a marathon, I’d seen a man cross the finish line, check his watch, and then yell – at the top of his lungs – the raunchiest  swear word known to humankind.  You know the one.  I pledged then and there that I would never become that guy; I would never put goals and numbers ahead of my love of the sport.

It was a tough decision to make, and I felt conflicted about it.  But later that night I went to a New Year’s party.  10 p.m. came and went, and not only was I still conscious; I was laughing and telling stories, and actually having fun for a change!  I was so bubbly, so full of spunk; I didn’t know what to make of myself.

“I can’t believe I’m awake,” I said to Shawna.

“Welcome back to the world,” she replied.