It’s the end of June, and that means it’s like half-new-years, and time to assess where things are on the old goal tracking effort. I’d set a goal of running about 1400 klicks by the end of 2016, and I’ve been meticulously spreadsheeting my logged data over the past 6 months. Result: as of the end of June I’ve bumped a small nudge past the 800 klick mark. For those who are quick with math, you’ll note that this is about a hundred and some klicks ahead of schedule… and the marathon training proper hasn’t even really begun. I wrote a couple days ago that my enthusiasm and energy is in a bit of a valley at the moment, so my plan for the next month is going to be to find a way to climb out of there and push on with the longer distances and steeper demands of the marathon build. But otherwise… ahead of schedule is good, right?
Bigger. Further. Crazier.
It’s almost the New Year and if you are a regular reader of this blog you were likely expecting something new from the Mega-Running-Goal & Virtual-Adventures Desk, right?
Bigger. Further. Crazier.
So… I was drawing maps again. I was using some Google Maps pedometer app to track out manageable distances from the corner near my house (you know the drill) and out… but not sure as yet to where I was going. See, in 2012, I ran the distance to Vancouver. In 2013, I ran (virtually, of course) right up to and then through the town of Yellowknife, passing that goal before my birthday in late November, and blowing through my original goal by more than 200 klicks by the end of the year. So, for 2014? Where to? How could I top… or at least match… those goals, and not just have it be another random run somewhere.
Then I got to thinking: BIGGER. FURTHER. CRAZIER.
…but not too crazy. Big, yes, but still manageable.
1924 1925 my late grandfather emigrated to this awesome country from the Netherlands. He would have been about the same age as my daughter is now (seven-ish) when he rode on a boat across the Atlantic Ocean with his family and landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia at Pier 21.
That place, where he first set foot as a kid in this country, and one of the older dates I can trace through my paternal ancestry in this country, is now a national historic site and (according to Google Maps) it is also about 4,937 klicks from my house.
Nearly five thousand klicks. Okay. So… probably not manageable by the end of 2014… or even by the end of 2015. But by November 23, 2016 — as in, the same day as I turn 40 (YIKES!) — that kind of distance might just be possible. A three year virtual run, spanning all the days between my 37th birthday until my 40th.
(And yes, that gives me kick-start of the 191.4 klicks I’ve run since November 23rd, but those were post-Yellowknife distances anyhow!)
1096 days. An average of four and a half klicks per day.
1096 days. An average of four and a half klicks per day. 1650 klicks per year. Eighty percent of the way across this country. And the opportunity for an epic run of self-discovery and historical family blogging. What else could I ask for in a bigger, further, and crazier goal?
So, this is me… charting and mapping my virtual run adventures, from the corner near my house and across the vastness of my own beautiful country and towards my grandfather’s first step in Canada — a Heritage Race before I hit 40 — these are the klicks I might have run had they been strung end-to-end from my 37th birthday until the day I hit 40. Brought to you by the magic of obsessive personal metrics, a fancy GPS watch, and the number 21. Stay tuned.
 Thanks to my cousin Stephen who provided some fact-checking along with some updated immigration information and imagery for me.
Charting and mapping my virtual run for 2013. From the corner near my house to the Great White Norths of my own beautiful country, these are the klicks I might have run had they been strung end-to-end from the first of January to the end of December. Brought to you by the magic of obsessive data tracking, GPS technology, and they letter Y.
Despite forgetting myself and coming up a mere three hundred meters short of my evening goal, I’m going to sit here and write another progress post on my virtual run and proclaim being ninety percent complete.
So, as far as the virtual run goes…
I don’t know. I’m in the middle of the northern wilderness somewhere, dragging my feet through the frozen tundra, and rounding the road circling Great Slave Lake and approaching on my final run toward my destination. I’ve never actually been up there and I’m not exactly sure what I would be seeing right now. I’m sure it would be lovely, though, if for no other reason than I’m a mere ten percent away from my goal.
If nothing else, having run the equivalent of 32 marathons in training (and races, of course) this year, those last (less than) four seem quite achievable before December 31st. In fact, my biggest problem is going to be where to go after virtually passing through Yellowknife… and how far that might be.
I’ve stood on the brink of many things, often peering into the sunlit dawn horizons of spectacular adventures. There is a moment of clarity and resolve that is accessible to those patient few who gaze in that direction and reach out with an uncertain expectation of nothing more than wisps of air and the fell breeze of expectation drifting between our open fingers.
It is transcendent.
We look upon these moments with such eyes as are open to the morning light.
We taste the dew-tinged morning air and breath it in with carefree abandon. It wafts into our lungs and permeates our minds with a fragrant scent of something greater than ourselves. And we wonder.
It is transcendent. It is invigorating. It pulls at the heart and soul of everything we ever thought we might want to be and leaves a humbling feeling of invulnerability bubbling and coursing through our blood and brains.
January Twenty-Fourteen is still ten months away, but even so the choice races of next year are priming to be slotting themselves into agendas across the country and around the globe. Case in point; Disney World.
The Disney World Half Marathon has been lingering impatiently just below the distant horizon. The moment of truth, the moment when money and information blend into a slot, a bib, and corral and a distant moment of glory standing upon a start line preparing to break across it — this moment is approaching. In two weeks registration will open for the 2014 edition. In two weeks I am signing up.
But until this morning there was no brink. Until this morning there was no insanity being contemplated.
Our plan was to gaze into the light of yet another travel race and grab hold of the moment. I was planning — I have been planning for a couple months now — to run the half in Florida next January.
But then something quite Dopey happened. Perhaps even literally. The RunDisney blog featured an announcement late last week that noted the following: “The 2014 Walt Disney WorldÂ® Marathon Weekend presented by CignaÂ® will feature the brand new Dopey Challenge, a four race event complete with six, that’s right, SIX finisher medals to take home!”
A five, a ten, a half and a full.
The Dopey Challenge: Four races in four days. A five, a ten, a half and a full.
It’s 48.6 miles in four days.
That’s 78.2 kilometers. And a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the inaugural edition of some kind of beautiful and amazing insanity, a single chance of grabbing ahold of a wisp of an experience worth racing for, leaping for, living through the hell of pain and a summer of crazy for… of running for.
Or at least, until that sunrise peaks over the horizon of opportunities, I have two weeks to decide if I actually do step into the brink.
Your encouragement, advice, or words of caution are most welcome… preferably before registration opens on April 9th.
Tomorrow is New Years Eve and I’m pretty sure I won’t have time for a run between now and the stroke of midnight. I guess that means my 2012 tally is officially in and I can tell you how far I ran this year.
And it’s only fair. I started this training way back in March, and a mere ten days into the plan was posting all about this thing called a virtual run.
Ten days into this little project I’d run a mere 41 kilometers. Oh, and plus the little bit of distance I covered in the months leading up. And… blah… blah… blah. Read the posts if you’re interested.
What followed was a series of tracking posts. For nine months I’ve sporadically updated this blog with something called a virtual run. Simple explanation is this: I run real distance — real feet on real asphalt in every kind of weather — on sidewalks and trails around (mostly) Edmonton. No treadmills. No Wii Sports. No faking it. Real runs. I log all that distance on my GPS watch. Then I record those numbers into a spreadsheet on my Google Drive. And — mathe-magical! — the spreadsheet tallies the big column of all distances (to one decimal point) since January 1st and outputs a single number. That’s my distance-to-date for the year: kilometers run in 2012.
I take that number and using the modern marvels of point-and-click-map-based pedometers (such as the one at Trails.com) I chart out a “virtual” distance that — were I to have run all those kilometers end-to-end in some epic multi-fold mega-death-race marathon — would map out from Point A to Point Z. Screenshot. Upload. Blog-post. Voila!
Now, Point A has always been the corner near my house. But Point Z? Point Z was simply an unknown up until about 10 am this morning when I sprinted in the last few hundred meters of a chilly ten klick Sunday morning run. I had a goal, but there was never any assurance I’d make it.
Back to the virtual run? Roughly mapped out (and this isn’t exactly a precise science here, folks, me sitting at my desk clicking thousands of little vectors along a medium resolution map) this kind of distance takes me from (Point A) the corner near my house, down through Calgary, over the mountains, down the Coquihalla highway, into the Fraser Valley, and lands me — at Point Z — on the highway passing through Langley, BC about forty klicks outside of Vancouver and approximately (oddly enough) about two blocks from where Karin used to work.
And that’s it. Done. The great virtual race of 2012 is complete. It has been run. It’s in the books…. blogs… whatever.
On Tuesday — New Years Day — the virtual odometer resets back to a big-ole-goose-egg: zero. Nadda. And I’m off to run towards the great white north… virtually, anyhow.
A reloaded post is a short-and-sweet collection of the (sometimes-interlinked) randomness from my recent life, universe and everything else in between. They would be more detailed but they tend to be events lacking in either (a) details or (b) depth… or in the time to more fully record them. Enjoy.
I nursed a minor cold on Monday and Tuesday, making excuses as to why I “wasn’t really sick” and just “a bit under the weather” until by Wednesday and that I could barely open my eyes for headache and congestion, took two days off work to recover. By Friday I was feeling operationally mobile enough that I clambered back into work and played a day’s worth of catch-up. I hate getting behind like that. I mean, everyone is understanding, but being sick is like this big old self-inflicted guilt-trip on productivity that must have roots in our primitive brains or something, chipping away at us for taking a step back from society for a day or two to recover.
As a result of being so ill, my running took a hit this past week. The general rule is: above the neck, run… below the neck, stay home.” … and I seem to be getting a lot of head and chest colds lately. So I stayed home. Of course this meant that I missed out on about thirty klicks worth of training, which is disappointing because I’m getting so close — sooooooo close — to the one-thousand klick mark for twenty-twelve and probably would have been writing a very different post today had I run those klicks. I did get a couple short runs in on the weekend — a six on Saturday and an eleven on Sunday — but with just over a month until Vegas, it’s not where I need to be training right now. *sigh*
Though, no sooner did I get over my skull-crushing, brain-bracing sinus infection of last week, then did Claire emerged in our bedroom, rubbing her eyes and complaining of a “tummy ache” and, you guessed it, with a wee little stomach bug. Sunday morning, usually a get-prepped for a run morning, turned not only into me contemplating bowing out for a week due to those oh-so-stubborn lingering morning symptoms but also a spray of morning vomit on behalf of one suddenly ill five year old. The fun persisted for most of the day. You know a kid is sick — really, truly, painfully sick — when they put themselves to bed for a mid-afternoon nap.
And was it ever cold. It was, I think, the coldest run I’ve done since last winter… easily. Minus two Celsius, but there must have been a minus fifteen wind-chill because… holy brrrrrr, batman! I mentioned the eleven klick run of Sunday morning and, yeah, it was a good jaunt around the neighbourhood at a solid pace. But I was wrapped tight in multiple layers, a winter-ized jacket, and even the new thick toque I bought last week for just such an occasion, mentioning to Karin it was really intended for those deepest, darkest days of winter running. Somehow I was still cold. I think it might be the forty-pound built-in-fat jacket I misplaced over the summer. Ah, the downsides of weight-loss: I’ll need to buy shares in flannel and fleece or else risk getting sicker and colder and sicker again.
It has been nearly two years since I ran these kinds of distances. After my last half-marathon in 2010 — and the subsequent injury falling out of that — I started to figure that my long-run days were over.
Of course, we now know that might have been a little shortsighted on my part.
And, of course, I’m now getting reschooled and reminded in all the little things I’d forgotten about the differences between short runs and longer runs.
So, this is how it goes: I’ve been telling folks for years that my “window” is fourteen kilometers. Something happens to my brain, body, and spirit somewhere between a “short” twelve kilometer run and a long-ish fourteen kilometer run — to me — that flips a switch somewhere and changes the nature of things therein.
At fourteen kilometers carrying extra water and probably some additional fuel is non-optional (as I was reminded a couple weeks back) and suddenly I find myself a connoseur of sports drinks and little four-dollar packages of sports-fuel candies being sold by the running store.
At fourteen kilometers pace is a very real factor, narrowing the range to [ X plus or minus 10 seconds ] where [ X is my comfortable pace ] and where exceeding that plus or minus 10 second range will probably result in failure to complete the run.
At fourteen kilometers chafing is more than just an annoyance, but also tends to result in actual physical damage to parts of my body — if one is unprepared for that possibility — that are not supposed to bleed due to the normal wear and tear of life, a fact I was sorely reminded of yesterday, by a humbling sort of pain ever since, by the efforts of scrubbing two man-sized gobs of blood from the nipular region of my brand-new running shirt. (The new shirt didn’t help that either, by the way.)
We ran a little over sixteen kilometers yesterday, so all these points are starting to factor into this equation. Fairly obviously… especially if you were one of the unlucky few to have seen my shirt.
And for those still interested in the ongoing virtual tracking of my half-marathon training, as of that sixteen kilometer run I passed the two hundred and sixty-one kilometer count (as of nine weeks ago) a virtual distance that brings me from the corner right near my house all the way down the QE2 highway and whizzing on through the small city of Airdie, Alberta. I should be in Calgary by the end of the week and seeing as how I’ve yet to get any better suggestions will be trekking virtually westward from there and towards Vancouver. There should be a (cropped) map attached to this post of the distance so far.
I made note of an odd confluence in my numbers yesterday as I was inputting my data. Since starting this training I have logged exactly fifty runs. And the sum total for distance on all those runs is nearly-exactly two hundred kilometers… well, 200.2 KM to be precise. So, for those not mathematically challenged, its interesting to note that my run distance average is exactly 4.0 KM per run.
This, of course, was generously nudged up Sunday morning by that schmozz of a running adventure. Albeit, it should be noted that a quick headcount of those attending — those starting out from the store at eight-thirty yesterday morning — was certainly a community-record topping out at thirty-one runners. It might have had something to do with that.
I was informed we were doing a 9 KM run.
The thing is, with 31 runners, you get a big mix of goals and abilities. I’m getting faster and I’ve been running with some of the folks who have bolder aspirations of time and distance. One of the guys who I’ve been teaming up with lately has not only gone from being my counterpart penquin (when I first met him a couple years ago) to Speed Racer, but he has also gone from being roughly my physical build to dropping 45 pounds and improving his overall health by levels of awesomeness I cannot yet imagine. We have similar pace. And we’ve got that whole thing happening where we egg each other on, push each other a bit harder, and get that extra few steps out of the other. It’s the right type of running buddy to have.
We got ahead of our own group and ended up pacing the faster, Full Marathon folks. Then we missed a turn and followed them on THEIR Sunday distance. They were doing a thirteen kilometer jaunt, and fast. With hills. And summer decided to arrive about forty-five minutes into this little adventure.
Top this epic trial off with the fact one of the gals from our group had made the same — perhaps worse — poorly choosen assumption of her distance abilities as we did, and followed us on the full marathoners route. Running bud and I were looping back and forth to keep her connected with the group and then suddenly — her irrational exhausted mind surely to blame — she bailed on the run, opting for a shortcut: Without telling us!
So there we are, about ten klicks into this run, a bunch more to go, the sun beating down full on, and neither of us had a drop of water to our names anymore. We’re jogging in circles looking for this girl, hoping she didn’t collapse into the trees in the river valley, before finally getting a clue from a passing elderly couple out for a stroll that they thought they’d seen someone matching her description walking off down a side street.
Of course, by this point we’d lost the rest of our quasi-group, and were doing our best to figure out where we could head them off and meet up again, and we’re trucking along at a stupid-fast (for us) clip trying to zig and zag through the neighborhoods to find a slightly shorter route back.
We re-connected with the group at about the same time my watch hit 13.2 KM. I was starting to really feel it at this point. And we still were not quite in sight of the store. It was all I could muster to climb that last little rise up to the parking lot where I could justifiably walk it in. When I finally stopped the timer on my watch I’d clocked a painful 13.76 KM (unknowingly nudging my total just over the 200 KM mark, apparently) and proceeded to find a new friend in the water fountain at the store.
It also turns out it was my fastest paced run of that distance. Ever. So, yeah …the training continues.
Those following the “mega-goal” progress will note that 200 KM (on the included map) brings me from near my house, down the QE2 highway, nearly all the way to Olds, Alberta. There’s still time to give me some virtual destination ideas for after I reach Calgary. Comment below.
Yes, I’m still tracking that virtual run.
As of the first of January I’ve logged just over five hundred and twenty kilometers, my pace fluctuating quite wildly since my half marathon in August because the clinic I re-joined in the weeks following dropped the mileage back down to the starter-level again. That said, things are picking up now — my next half-marathon just a month away now — and so are the weekly kilometers. We did six last night (on hills) and have a sixteen planned for Sunday morning. Here we go again, I guess.
For those curious, the virtual run — that cumulative five-twenty-ish — puts me (as measured linearly down real, mapped roads from my front door) somewhere just over the BC/Alberta border, roughly three clicks past the gates of Yoho National Park, and descending on Golden — a beautifully scenic route I’ve driven many times and would much rather be running in real life, rather than just repeatedly around the streets of Edmonton every week.
Of course at this pace I won’t be seeing much virtual civilization between Halloween and Christmas, but I am on track to break through six hundred clicks by the time I finish the half next month, and I’m predicting a six-fifty for years end. (Yes, it is actually realistic.) I suppose that means I’ll be needing to raise the bar on the goal setting for next year. Of course an even 730km in 2010 would mean 2km per day. (Yes, doubling last year’s goal, but only adding about 10% to this year’s actual.) Totally do-able.
I’ve neglected to update on my latest progress on my mega-running-goal. Having blown through my calendar year goal of on click per day, 365 kilometers for 2009, finished sometime in July — New Years Resolution, check — I’ve kept on going. Tracking the virtual run, I’m heading off in the direction of Vancouver a’la my big old treadmill goal from a couple years ago. As such, sprinting down the QE2, turning West at Airdrie, delving into Cochrane, bumping along Highway One, and scooting into the mountains, my current view is the gates to Banff National Park just West of Canmore — virtually speaking of course. That was helped significantly by a nineteen and a half kilometer jog yesterday morning through the foggy Edmonton river valley. And will be likely bumped into British Columbia by the end of the month given my current training schedule leading up to the half marathon and Melissa’s in September. Three hundred and ninety-five kilometers in just over seven months. Not exactly a record breaker, but you gotta admit no slouch either.
With only a day or so left in the month, and just coming down off of food poisoning and a head cold, I thought I’d set up October to be something of a challenge month for myself, trying to get back on the cart with regard to my foreshortened fitness plan, et cetera.
Starting October 1, I will be back at things, starting with the morning running and some other timely fitness bits. I’m setting the goal of running a cumulative marathon over the month of October. That is, adding up all my times and distances, I will aim to run a total of 42 kilometers between October 1 and Halloween, inclusive. It’s going to be particularly tough as I’ll be on the road more often next month, but it’s going to get done… rain, dark, snow, or whatever.
Sparkle and my morning routine now includes some jogging. I’ve decided to steal back a small fragment of my day and by getting up a half an hour earlier I’m hoping to squeeze in a longer stroll — or three times a week — a five kilometer run in the nearby park. Tomorrow will be day one, though we’ve been getting up earlier for a few days now.
The poor dog doesn’t know what she’s in for, that’s certain.
This morning on our march I was intrigued by the sounds of the Anthony Henday dropping from afar and into the park. The open field must act as a giant sound collector, amplifying the traffic noises that a virtually unnoticeable even just a block away at our house.
And I only hear it in the mornings, too.
Maybe the whir of traffic will keep me going for that thirty minute jog at such an uninviting hour, pre-breakfast and pre-coffee, and with an unsuspecting canine in tow.