Well, we are spending some time in Iceland later this month… so that’s a thing.
So, this is what we did: as it turns out the training program calls for a sixteen klick race pace training run eight days before the main event. As it also turns out, the race course is (if you reeeeally stretch your imagination) a kinda-figure-eight shape, the intersection being both the start, the finish, and also a point bisecting one loop of roughly the first twenty-six kilometres and another loop of roughly the last sixteen kilometres. Get it?
Two loops: one twenty-six, the other sixteen… ish.
Photo of 2010 Intact Marathoners by Sangudo via Flickr w/ Creative Commons Attribution License
The point was simple: it is quite possible that confidence stems from familiarity. Yes, there is the fear inherent in knowing what awaits, but there is also a measure of calm that blossoms from NOT facing the unknown. We ran the second loop, weaving through the last sixteen klicks of the race course, a near-silent troupe of eight of us stoically facing the road and the knowledge of our inevitable trail on this exact asphalt in a (then) little over one week’s time. We purchased familiarity with an hour and a half of footfalls, and traced out our future path in our present minds. Confidence burst forth.
There are a mere five days until race day as I write these words. That confidence is a fickle thing, let me tell you. There are moments when I sit here thinking “bring it on.” And there are moments when I wonder silently to myself if I somehow, possibly, left my sanity on a park bench somewhere never to be seen again.
I don’t suffer alone. I lead a whole group of others on this funny little adventure, all of whom are probably far more prepared than I if for no other reason than –as one often does in these situations– I’ve been doing a lot of leading from behind, focusing on potential stragglers and running circles, sometimes literally, trying to keep the group entangled and together in our training.
one klick or forty-two, the first one is always a big one
Not to mention, I registered Claire for the one-klick kids race the evening before. She gets a shirt and a medal, and she has been talking about it with the same kind of nervous anticipation I’d previously only reserved for myself. She’s excited, but it will be her first race and one klick or forty-two, the first one is always a big one.
I have goals. Finishing times in my head. Plan ‘A’ and Plan ‘B’ and a loaf of other caveat-laden plans that redeem the effort all round. I can’t even begin to suggest where they land on the spectrum of realistic expectations to gross under-estimation, but I suspect I’m in for a surprise about just how wrong certain assumptions have been.
Trust the training, right?
Last night was the last night.
Our half-marathon clinic — the one that started back in April of this year — and has had me touring the city trails on foot for many mornings and evenings for most of the spring and summer is complete. That pretty much means the next anticipated run is… yes… the race.
If you read that post way back, the one following the first clinic, written on May 1st, you’ll note I predicted that out of the original nineteen in attendance (and ultimately there were over twenty-five registered) I figured there would be about six that run the race. Really? People asked. That can’t be right…
Actual numbers? Last night there were nine of us out on the last night of clinic running, including the one remaining instructor, two who just came to wish us well on Sunday, three who are attempting the full marathon in two days, and four — including yours truly — who having followed the program will be lacing up for the half in a little less than forty-eight hours. (You’re right. That does add up to ten… read on.)
Now admittedly the full marathon IS more impressive than the half, but –as a caveat and an excuse — I will note here that on that roster of three marathon runners is (a) a guy who has finished a couple ultra-marathons and should have been teaching the class not participating, (b) a very nice woman who has been rushing her training and who has spent more time injured than on course AND who I have legitimate doubts and concerns for her health regarding her ability to complete all forty-two kilometers of that race, and (c) the instructor who is running with the aforementioned woman because of the concerns I have mentioned. So yes, marathon far more impressive: but the rest of us were not training for that distance, have never run that distance, and all stand a better-than-not chance of completing that distance. And those halves among us — people who I’ve come to know quite well over a series of grueling hill workouts, speed work sessions, endless Sunday morning tours and many other runs — are running the twenty-one race, all of us to set a first-time-time. Four turned out last night, chilled with anticipation. And addition to those four runners I do know there is one other girl who is registered but who did not attend class last night: so… five people from the clinic will be running on Sunday. My guess of SIX was being optimistic after all.
Having not really slept well the night before we ran our practice twenty clicks a couple weeks back, I am (unfortunately) anticipating another sleepless night on Saturday evening. That might not be too bad though. Apparently I’m supposed to be downtown an hour before the race — which starts at 8AM. Do the math. I need to be awake well before six, fueled, hydrated, and (mostly) awake.
– Still tentative on the knee injury from six weeks ago.
– A lingering cough from ten days back.
– Holy crap: twenty-one K!
– A nifty little blister that is stubbornly hanging to the bottom of my right foot.
– The fact that so many people think this is a big deal. What really?
The really crazy thing? Very silly. The perhaps obvious-but-whaaaaa-imperative: I’ve already re-registered in the fall version of the clinic. We start the process again on Thursday night, next week. Oi! Good thing I’ve got new shoes.
This weekend represents a razor’s edge of clarity. For those in the knows: Closing ceremonies. End. Fin. Over.
No, it’s not that I resented the work I did with the Master’s Games over the last year. Hardly. And yes, I admit, I will miss the efforts involved. Completely. It was engaging. Different. And there was the arrogant importance that trailed the job like a bridal veil. It consumed. I was marginally important. Needed. I rallied a hearty sack of names and jobs and shuffled them into a chaotic stew resembling some kind of blending order. Not alone, but always vital. Alive. Twisted. On call.
Breath. Exhale. Breath.
But by the time this weekend is over, wherever I may be hiding and however I may be spending that weekend, The Games will be a thing that happened, past tense, historically, over and done. There will be floors to sweep. Digital caverns to dust. Servers to set free from their burdens. But mostly I will just press resume on the remote control of my life, step out my brand new front door, and wander without extra-cirricular purpose once more.
The albatross of expectation will be lifted and my boat will sail into the clear ocean, adrift on the currents until the next consumate endeavor. Poetic? No. Just anticipating. I wore that shirt today, to celebrate.
I suppose it might have seemed like a brilliant idea at the time. Last spring when we bought our gleaming gas grill the totality of “the plan” seemed stepwise and achievable. The pieces would fall neatly into place. They would. There was a certain level of trust and anticipation, yes, but we were not being unreasonable.
The Plan (originally, so far, and as anticipated well into the future)
Step #1: Purchase a brand-new and gleaming natural gas barbeque, as to satisfy the no-propane rule of the former, not-to-be-named rental living establishment.
Step #2: Bring home in small vehicle and assemble said barbeque with minimal pain and suffering.
Step #3: Enjoy summer of free (as in beer) gas grilling, simmering, sizzling, charing, ‘queuing, searing, saucing, savouring, toasting, smoking, or otherwise cooking with open-flame heat on the rental patio.
Step #4: Ensure new home was planned, approved, and built with the (moderately costly) addition of a dedicated natural gas line to the general area of future deck and barbequing area.
Step #5: Nurture barbeque through the cold, harsh winter conditions on the fourth floor patio of an apartment overlooking the frozen Alberta capital.
Step #6: Acquire home, and carefully transport barbeque across town in the little red truck, making sure it is secured with a plethora of ropes and tie straps as it makes the relatively short journey to its new home.
Step #7: Install natural gas line from rear outlet to barbeque-proper and repeat step #3 in perpetuity.
Ahhh…. step #7, how you tease.
Mixed with our indescribable joy in settling into our new home is currently the raw (as in meat) frustration of not having a backyard that even remotely resembles either (a) a backyard, (b) a freshly graded surface, or even (c) an inhabitable space. Thus, for the time being, Mr. Barbeque lives in the garage with no hope of me buying a fifty foot gas line to fuel the wonderous, grilling flames.
What to do?
I was struck with the moderately brilliant idea (yes, another one) of buying a supplemental system. Read: a smaller, portable grill. Karin hesitated, at first. But an hour with the contemplation of sizzling burgers frying in her brain, and she was all for pursuing the supplemental step:
Step #6.5: Buy mini-barbeque and grill in driveway until condition allow proceeding to step #7.
However, one scattered trip to the various local barbeque retailers and it became obvious that step #6.5 had it’s pitfalls, as well. A miniature barbeque of any reasonable quality is nearly the price of a real barbeque. I’m not exactly cheap (but it would be fair to use the word in a friendly context). Let’s just call it frugal. And investing more than, say, thirty bucks in step #6.5 seemed out of character with the frugality required by such an action. Thus, further contemplation resulted in the on-the-spot development of yet another intermediate supplemental step:
Step #6.5(b): Buy an extremely cheap (as in dirt) hibachi and some charcoal and grill in driveway until condition allow proceeding to step #7.
I’m sure, by now, you notice both the similarity and the differences between step #6.5 and step #6.5(b).
For those still struggling to understand, the first involves the simplicity and clean-air efficiency of propane. The latter involves me using an eight dollar cast iron pan set inside of a real (though unhook-up-able) gas grill, charcoal, smoke, and an hour of standing in the driveway in my bare feet to cook hamburgers on six square inches of grill space.
The end result is nearly the same. The food was actually very tasty. And by all accounts we might just be buying more charcoal for the next few weeks. But temporarily… we will not be hosting any big cookouts unless our guests play the BYOBBQ game.
It had been just over two weeks since we dropped by to check out our future home: perhaps a long wait, but what’s there to look at, really? An empty lot and a showhome we’d perused over two-hundred times. But it was all good: the papers were ready for a signature and a cheque, and we giddily supplied both. The next step: hole-ness.
Dad and Mom even showed up with a birthday/consolidation present — a laser-guided circular power saw that will come in super-handy when I start constructing things in and around the house next summer: fences, decks, workbenches for the garage, rooms in the basement, a studio… hmm… all the potential.
But then… now and again… we wait. It seems I’m always just eager to jump to the next step. And then once it has leaped past, anticipation for continuance. I thought I’d be gleed when we paid and that was done: now I want to see ground broken. Break ground! Break it! AHHHHH!
Long weekends in a warm city. Anticipation looms.
Jess mused poetic this morning on the arrival of summer, lurchingly marked by a waking frost and a bit of snow on the patchy spaces between everything. It reminded me of yet another reason for my own disposition to a new living locale: seasons.
I grew up with seasons. Four in fact. There was summer, of course, but also a definite autumn when the air got brisk and the leaves fell. Following close behind, winter made it’s mark with steaming mugs of hot chocolate, wind-chill reports, and snow (oh, bless-ed snow!). And of course spring, leaves budding from the trees, the first robin pecking for worms in the lawn, and anticipation of a summer’s worth of camping and hiking and reveling in wearing sandals everywhere, is a nice season, too.
Vancouver lacks seasons. Oh, I’m sure some would disagree, argue, present detailed evidence of vague changes in temperature. And I might even agree with that, adding the caveat that Vancouver seasons are just really, really subtle, the maximum temperature variation only thirty degrees celcius between winter and the peaks of summer.
It’s always t-shirt weather there.
Here, as I remember the temperature swaying easily in the ninety degree spread, from minus forty-five in the deepest of January to positive something similar in the heights of summer, well, it’s just more rewarding somehow. Being able to survive the vast climate variations is something amazing.
Ask me again in January, of course, but for now I’m relatively happy.
That’s right. You’ve been waiting for it. You’ve been anxious in anticipation. And now it’s finally here. It’s pi day! Get out your pans and bake up a good old lemon meringue, coconut creme, or even a tasty dutch apple.
Ahem. Pay attention.
March = 3
Today = 14th
3.14 = pi = everyone’s favorite irrational number = the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter
Okay. Fine. Forget it.
In other news, we took Karin’s ma on a whirl-wind tour of the city yesterday. Between the Chinese Gardens, Stanley Park, and a big meal at the Macaroni Grill, I was so tucked I fell asleep reading in the big green chair last night.
For those who are counting on this chili hallows eve morning, it is now officially less than a day until the frantic novel writing begins. I’m patiently prepared, knowing I have too much to do, but ready to write regardless. I’ll avoid elaborating on the vastness of my preparations — just how many pages of notes I’ve managed to compile already — and point those of you less eager to explore the thinly veiled depths of this site to the more logical half of my brain, found at salomons.ca where I have built a status page, of sorts, where you, the reader, can track my progress as I write through a fancy system of word counts and elaborate pointless links.
Also, if you can find it, I will be writing it online through movabletype: you are welcome to read along, provided you follow these rules:
1) Please remember it is a first draft: I am not allowed to edit, or for that matter, even use the delete key. There will be spelling mistakes and — despite my planning — probably a couple of vague plot holes. Deal with it.
2) Read, but please — pleasepleaseplease — do not even tell me if you are, until the end of November. I’m a sensitive guy, and am easily swayed from my purpose. Even my wife can’t tell me if she’s reading it or not.
3) I will not only ignore your advice/comments/hate mail, but I will be sure to post your name and email address publicly on my web page to encourage backlash, as well as on Usenet where you can be sure thousands of spam-bots will uncover your precious contact info and commence sending you thousands of advertisements for enlargements or reductions (whatever suits your fancy)…
4) No spitting.
Yes, there are thirteen hours to go — and while the flood of various panicky emotions fills the rooms — we wait, fingers poised over the keyboard in anticipation.
Of course, it goes without saying, that new content on this blog should be considered an extreme luxury during the next thirty days.
Every once in a while I get the feeling that I am not getting enough creative stimulation. I go through a dry spell, as it were, of creative withdrawal, living a mundane and uninventive existence of slow blogless weeks, months without writing or drawing, and seeming ages of efforts without the full use of my right-hand brain. It saps the energy from me, leaves me frustrated and tired, and it takes a whole lot of painful effort to climb back out of that slump into a full-throttle imaginative engagement.
This has not been one of those months: a new computer with heaps of wonderful software, a thousand opportunities for digital picture-taking, comic book publishing classes, an impending month-long novel project, and a heaping big pile of web design stuff for myself, work, and others have left me spinning with an overdose of creative juices.
It is a wild ride, let me tell you.
I spent a whole grinning heap of time on the weekend (ok, so it was only a couple of hours) planning, shapping, smoothing, and sculpting both the mechanical and the contextual elements of my upcoming novel project. I am — needless to say — dizzied with anticipation. Cluster that with the fact that both Jess and Karly are going to be undertaking NaNoWriMo this year, too, and… well… what else needs to be said!
My head hurts just thinking about it. Aaaaaaaah!
A number of factors are leading to my current state of mind:
1 :: The wedding and related events now virtually complete, I am able to focus on things besides the happiness of my wife. Not that her general jovility isn’t still high on my list, but even daring to rank anything remotely close to the positive outcome of our nuptials was a big no-no prior to a few weeks ago.
2 :: The impending arrival of a brand-spanking new laptop computer, enabling an anticipated change in both an increase in my portability and computability, and a decrease in my frustration level, as I am suddenly able to do something more than type, chained to my desk. I’m looking forward to some coffee-shoppe slash library slash quiet place outside of this apartment time.
3 :: A forty-five day wait until the start of this year’s novel writing contest, mentioned twice today, and eagerly looming on the horizon of my future history — whatever that means. I have a few ideas stewing gently on the back burner, and as such, figure I should have some serious plot foci come November One.
These three things are combining to make me both excited and impatiently frustrated because I have things I want to write, but neither the computer nor the “offical go-ahead” to do so. Grrrrr….
My muse, back from a long sabatical, is not exactly amused.
I however, wait patiently in the dark while the time and toil draws ever nearer.
On another note…
My Outlook is dying along with the rest of my computer — and as such I am unable to retrieve some information from there, namely phone numbers and addresses. So if I’m ignoring you, it may be for many reasons — but among those possible reasons there may be lurking the fact I just don’t have your phone number at my disposal. Sigh.