I would buy a chunk of land just outside the city where there was some mixed wild terrain, construct some asphalt and some single track trails, build some warming shelters and a bunch of endurance sport infrastructure, inflate a heated dome over about quarter of it (for running on those REALLY cold days) and operate a world-class Nordic-style running & x-country sport facility. Ah… dreams.
There is a certain weirdness to dragging people along on your hobbies, I get it.
People watch other people play video games.
People watch other people build furniture.
People watch other people eat food.
Maybe people want to watch other people out for a run. It’s not the craziest idea, is it?
I recorded and narrated a second episode of my MagPi Runner series, and gave it a bit more production value in the form of a slightly nicer bumper and lead in, a higher frame-rate on the video quality, and I deliberately was trying to channel a little more mellowed our Bob-Ross-style.
If you’re not one of those people who likes to watch other people do mundane things, you probably won’t get much out of this. If you are… let me know what you think. Share. Subscribe. Do one of those things that other YouTubers are always telling their audience to do.
With not quite twenty-four hours gone by since I crossed the finish line of a ten klick trail race on Sunday morning I thought I’d feel a little worse than I actually do.
I’m not usually a trail runner, if only because every trail race I’ve ever done has resulted in a minor but side-lining injury. Pondering this thought on Saturday evening, the organizers having sent a caution email about the slipperiness of the trail conditions due to the light thaw we’ve been experiencing, I barely slept the night prior to the race. Instead, tossing and turning, getting my anxiety all twisted around the gap in my memory between where I heard “trail race” and still signed up to participate.
The three hundred or so runners were split between the 25 klick distance and the 10 klick… the latter of which was well good enough for me. That ten klicks still took a solid hour and a half, and Pica, who was on sweep duty landed back at the finish at roughly the three hour mark. It was a tough race.
I tried strapping the new GoPro to my chest using the chest harness. That was a mixed bag. Good, because I definitely needed both hands to clamber up and over various obstacles. Bad, because I remembered too late that my chest is far-from-stable when I run, swaying back and forth. I caught about 40 minutes of footage and boiled it down to a watchable 14:
I woke up on Monday morning feeling a lot better than I thought I would. I’m still not totally convinced about the trail running appeal, but they collected a lot of frozen turkeys for the food bank, so it ranks pretty high on the good cause-o-meter. For the next little while though, I might just stick with the asphalt.
In the vast scheme of all the running folks out there, my little corner of social sharing is probably the least interesting. A forty-something guy plodding through the suburbs of a little Canadian city.
The thing is, I’ve been doing it for ten years. Well, ten years give or take a month to be precise… but basically ten years.
While we were on vacation last week — or was it two weeks ago — we were sitting in a hotel room in Houston, waiting to get on a shuttle to board our cruise ship, and the New York Marathon was on television. I was somehow once again in the US of A, but this time far from the start line and far from in shape to be there. A year ago I had run that race, finished that beast, and done so standing up. This year… well, it’s been a year since I’ve aspired to anything of that magnitude.
Sure, in 2017 I ran a couple awesome relays, finished a half marathon (or was it two?) and plodded along with my sport. In the back of my mind, however, I was giving myself a bit of a year off. Not pushing. Not exceeding. Not trying to find a new level.
Everyone needs a year off. And I think I’ve finished mine.
So… how to get things cranked back up… becomes the next tough question.
One idea I’ve had (particularly since picking up a new GoPro in the last month) was by creating some Youtube videos and effectively just vlogging about it.
Hold on. Wait just a second.
So in the past, I’ve frequently run with a video camera. This results in one of two outcomes. Either (a) I mount it to something and run past the lens in steady, serene staged clips of this-guy plodding through the scene, or (b) I run with it in my hand and I get vomit-inducing, very shaky first person clips of my run. I like both, but the first is time consuming to create and no one really wants to watch the second.
The new camera has built-in stabilization. This means I can run with it in my hand and while it’s not quite like watching a camera on rails, it’s not nearly so shaky as past videos. Have a look for yourself:
So the next question becomes… can I make these at the rate of one every couple of weeks? Will anyone watch them? And most importantly, will they inspire me to run more frequently and on more interesting routes? Can they help kick start my training back into something resembling a serious hobby?
The Graffiti Tunnel
What: Some random footage of the Sunday running crew down in the trails.
Why: I bought that new GoPro Hero6 and I wanted to try out my new camera specifically to see how it handled a group run with some mixed lighting conditions. I brought the crew on a trail adventure and into the graffiti tunnel in Whitemud Creek where there were some great colourful backdrops, perfect for some busy video footage and some random selfies.
Deets: Recorded as 2.7k60 with Protune & Video Stabilization on, but downsampled to 1080p30.
What: Some random footage of me running with Claire and my new camera in hand.
Why: I bought that new GoPro Hero6 and I wanted to try out my new camera specifically to see how it handled all the bumping, jostling, and wobble normally associated with video that I’ve taken with my other GoPro camera while running out on the trails and asphalt.
Deets: Recorded as 2.7k60 with Protune & Video Stabilization on, but downsampled to 1080p30.
…among other things. It has become increasingly clear that I’ve fallen off the running wagon this year. On Saturday I watched on the socials as dozens of my friends ran around the city and province, training and racing in events including five klick fundraisers, long training runs, late-evening party races, favourite mountain events, and even an epic ultra marathon trail run. I ate pizza and wandered around the science centre. Albeit it was my only daughter’s tenth birthday party and I was playing the role of the good dad, but I didn’t even go out for a modest morning jog on Saturday. It didn’t even cross my mind. I tell myself over and over and over that “I’m gonna pick it up” again soon, get back into some serious training and maybe even some serious distance… but there is a motivational element that isn’t clicking these days. It used to be that I wrote about it, ran it, and then wrote about it some more. Maybe that was it? Stay tuned, I guess… this slump can’t last forever.
I’ve been a run slacker this summer.
I mean, sure… I ran four races in the early summer and since then instead of running I’ve been logging some serious hike-preparation practice with the family. But, insofar as my annual distance goal is measured, I think being 300 klicks behind on the year is putting me in serious jeopardy of not crossing that particular finish line for 2017.
In fact, unless I pick up the paces in September through the end of the year, I almost doubt I’ll crack one thousand. Yikes.
It’s been a mix of things; Life has been filled with an odd assortment of stress this past year. Normally the running would be a pressure valve for that, but not lately: trying to find a gap to squeeze between in contrasting the aches and pains in my body to the anchors of my cluttered mind… well, it’s been a chore.
But I get out when I can, even though the totals don’t quite add up to my plans of earlier in the year.
I think my new plan, unless something goes extremely south in the later half of August, is to (a) recover from our upcoming hiking expedition and then (b) jump into a month of daily running for September. Nothing too hard core, but finding the time to run at least three klicks per day for every day of that month, more if opportunity allows, and then (c) register for and run the 15 klick Fall Classic in October to wrap it all up as a kind of final race of the season.
But that’s just the plan. Plans haven’t been my strong suit this year. The way life has been going, all my plans are subject to many, many conditions.
Two days later and I’m home sick… mostly because of this half marathon I think.
See, heat and I don’t get along. I think I got a touch of heat stroke a decade or so back and ever since then my tolerance for temperatures higher than, say, 35 C are just in the pits.
But you sign up for these things weeks or months in advance.
You don’t know what the weather is gonna be.
You pay your fifty or sixty bucks and you pick up your race package and you shrug off the weather because… meh… what are you gonna do.
I should have probably sat this one out.
I finished. I got my funky little moose medal and posted the obligatory pics onto social media. But the guy you see in that photo went home to utterly crash, and not in the whoa, tough race sort of way. More of in the, why is my head throbbing and why am I feeling chills in this sweltering heat sort of way.
I even went to work yesterday thinking everything was good.
But two days later I’m home sick because my brain finally settled into a “yuh… maybe take a day to rest this one out” kinda state.
The race started off alright. I cleared the first third of the distance at a respectable sub-six (min/km) pace. I was actually (if you only counted that part) on track for a sub-two hour half.
Then I left the shady area at about the same time as the sun rose high enough in the sky to start being a problem.
Another third of the way I had slowed to about a 6:15 (min/km) and was starting to really feel it, but I was stopping at every station and grabbing more water than I normally consume. Hydrating. Keeping to the shade of a creek-valley trail.
Then it opened up. The shade vanished as we had to cross over a major vehicle bridge, and climbing the short little hill to crest up to that the heat caught up with me. The ambient temp was only about 28 C, but combine that with two-thirds of a half marathon and some unfiltered sun and that add-fifteen-rule and you’ve got a feels-like temperature in the low 40 Cs.
And I don’t thrive in that.
I ended up walk-running the next three klicks. Then picking it up a little for the last stretch, clearing the finish with a worst-time-in-five-years 2:18. A finish, and though it always hurts to lower the bar like that, my body was mourning the next twelve hours of mild heat-stroke symptoms more than it was worried about my time.
I’ll chalk this up to a lesson learned. Race fees paid or not, sometimes you gotta know when to lower your expectations or even just sit one out.
It’s not super serious, but with just two weeks until a double-header race season begins, I’ve been sidelined for a few days with a ankle injury. Two weeks AGO I went out and did some wilderness. It was an awesome, single-track trail run, with some challenging terrain. And an hour after completing it I could tell that my ankle had only just barely cooperated. Not rolled. Not sprained. But maybe a little bruised. I didn’t push myself for the rest of the week and it felt pretty much fine. Then I opted in on the group’s nineteen klick long run on this past weekend, and fifteen klicks in I could tell that my ankle was not fully recovered. I limped back to my truck after coffee and it’s been pretty sore since. Well, mostly. Five days later I can still sense that it’s not one hundred percent right, but it’s not hurting nearly as much. So the age-old runners question blossoms once again to the surface: which is more important two weeks prior to a race? The last long training run, or ensuring that an injury is completely mended? I think I just answered my own question.
It might be true that most of my running is recorded on the local streets and nearby trails in the company of either no one or the ever-changing membership of my trusty running club, but on rare occasions I share a medium-length dash through the neighbourhood with the enigmatic Koh.
I don’t know exactly where he lives (nearby, I assume) nor can I creep into an online profile where he might post his activities for my scrutiny: he has not been captured by the digital net, so far as I can tell. He is, likely, a bit of a technophobe or a purist or maybe just prefers the unencumbered run without a watch tracking his position from a satellite or a smartphone tacked to his arm pinging his location to the world.
Our paths will cross on occasion, randomly and fortuitously (they are fortuitous for me at least) and invariably he will adjust his destination to match mine. How exactly it is that my comparatively ersatz running talents align with the interests of an athlete the likes of Koh I can’t say, but I don’t mind the company and our sporadic encounters are never unwelcome.
We chat, but only about running. Strictly about running, in fact. He offers me advice on my stride or my posture or the way I hold my arms when I plod the path, and I challenge myself to be better because of it. Koh has a way of inspiring improvement in one’s efforts because it feels as much a wizened lesson as a casual outing with an enigmatic friend when we run together.
I will admit that I’ve spent a cumulative collection of hours scouring the result postings of local races, races old and new, races very recent and some long, long past, searching lists of participants and finishers for his name. I am always unsuccessful. Koh, it seems, is too mysterious to be found. Unless, that is, he is finds me and we find each other on a stretch of asphalt between the folding birch of the river valley canopy.
Despite this, I am certain that Koh used to run races, even if he doesn’t seem to do so now. He alludes to his youth, a wilder Koh, a young man of effortless speed and too easy victories the memories of which clearly bring him no enduring satisfaction. Sprints through faraway cobblestone streets before he emigrated. Marathons completed in countless countries each seeming as if riding upon the wind. Hundred mile-long slogging treks through narrow muddy paths finished soiled and bloody but stronger and more epic feeling than with what I can ever hope to empathize. Yet, it’s just a fog of an indifferent history to Koh, these scattered moments of a past existence that have shaped everything about the man who runs in step beside me but may as well be a dream as they themselves shape the stories he shares as we plod onward through the relatively mundane suburban streets.
When I asked him last we ran if I he would mind– that is — could I write these stories, he just chuckled at me. “Who would care about that sort of nonsense?”
“A lot of people.” I insisted to him, and to that he waved his hand and shrugged. “If you like then. Go ahead.”
But then as I always seem to do, I challenge myself to be better because of Koh, and I wait impatiently until next we meet to fill in the gaps that are still left between my words. Koh himself might not wait. If I know him at all, and mostly I do not, I assume he would smirk a sly grin at me and remind me to watch my stride length, relax the tension in my arms, and most of all to keep moving forwards.
a day late my ankles are killing me. Trails have a way of challenging parts of your body that you don’t normally challenge on asphalt.
There is a trail running series that runs one of it’s courses through a local natural area. We tend to take the 186 hectares (460 acres) or almost two square kilometers of mid-city wilderness for granted, but it’s the kind of location filled with single-track mud tracks the wend up and down and around and through challenging twists and turns that makes it ideal for an epic eight klick race that feels like a low-mountain track grind.
One of the guys I run with had done the race on Saturday. And then he wanted to re-run it on Sunday… so I a couple of us climbed aboard the crazy train.
Long story short after eight klicks of trails with a couple warm up and cool down klicks on each end, my ankles are not happy with me.