Friday, March 23, 2012

Should a Blogger Be Chastised For An Opinion

This is a bit of an unusual subject for me, and for this blog in general, but I believe it is worth posting and hopefully some good discussion will come out of it.

Because is that not what a 'Personal' blog is for?

Now obviously there is some limits to what should be posted on blogs, personal attacks, defamation of character, racial slurs, etc, there is no place for that type of stuff anywhere. The world has enough of that type of crap in it, so I will be the first one to say all that is and should be off limits. Damn it, there are kids out there that could be reading this stuff, so get your head out of your ass and be responsible for tomorrow's youth.

This being said, I have a real problem with what has happened to a friend of mine this week, who posted on her blog, about something that was so blown so out of proportion, that she had people calling her at work and threatening not only her personal well-being but also her livelihood. She got put into such a predicament that she almost lost her job due to it and she was basically forced to issue an apology for something that in my opinion and that of many others there was need to apologize for. She has subsequently pulled the original post from her blog due to the undeserved backlash from the minority who believed they were being slighted.

Now I must say, I am a big fan of Vanessa's blog, Vanessa Runs and I get her posts emailed to me when she publishes them so I do not miss them. So of course I read the post and as usual thought it was a great piece of writing. Yes, the title was edgy, utilizing the "WORD" to reference joggers, but I took this as a typical, 'grab you by the short and curlys' to entice you to read more and to find out where she was going with it. I did not take it personally, I did not think it was directed at me or at anyone in particular, nor did I think that anyone else would either, I took it for what it was, the title to another writer's thoughts.

I cannot see how anyone who would of read the entire post could of interpreted that she was calling anyone anything. Vanessa was clearly discussing one companies marketing strategy to one particular demographic, in this case Pearl Izumi and the elite runners (or want to be elite runners like myself). If you read the post from start to finish, you will clearly understand that Vanessa is stating that running is a attitude it has nothing to do with speed or ability, it has to do with the love of running. I am not the fastest runner by any stretch of the imagination, and some may classify me as a jogger, but I love to run, I do not run for anyone other than myself, thus I consider myself a runner.

Jogger's are runners too, let me get that out of the way, they may not always run for the love of it, they may run for other reasons like health, vanity, etc. Just the fact that they are out there chugging down the road or path is a great sign and shows that there is some dedication involved. Because everybody can make up excuses to not do something if they really want too. So hats off to the joggers out there that are putting the effort in.

Now the million dollar question, were they being slighted?

I don't think so, I personally think that those who did get offended did not read the post, they saw the title and were so wound up that they took it personally and not how it was intended to come across. I believe that Vanessa was trying to grab your attention and draw people into the post and nothing more, she was not trying to offend anyone nor was she trying to offend joggers in general. Further to this the title nor the post merited the response that she got. People need to take a good look at themselves in the mirror and learn to laugh. Because there is already to much serious stuff happening in the world today, we do not need to get hyped up over a something as silly as a title to a blog post. But that is just my opinion.

I have copied the original post below for you to develop your own opinion, and I have also included Vanessa's apology as per her request, Pearl Izumi and Pussy Apology, even though IMO she did not need to because there really is nothing to apologize for. I give all my support to Vanessa and I am ashamed of those out there that put her through a very unpleasant few days that she should not of had to endure.

Please post your comments, as I am curious to the opinions of others, but lets keep it to a discussion not a s**tshow.



New post on Vanessa Runs

Pearl Izumi Ads Separate the Runners

 From the Pussies… I Mean Joggers

by vanessaruns

Last night I got home to find a box of Pearl Izumi gear on my doorstep. I’ve never tried this product before, but they emailed me last week to ask if they could send over some clothes and shoes. I agreed.
Afterwards I found out that this brand has been frowned upon and called out on The Marathon Show due to an ad campaign that seems to trivialize “joggers” and slower, non-competitive runners. I went online to see what the debate was about, and here are the ads I found:

The Criticisms

  • This campaign offends and trivializes slower runners.
  • We should be encouraging all physical activity, even walking.
  • Running does not have to be competitive.
  • Finishing a marathon is a big accomplishment, regardless of time.

My Reaction

Are the critics justified? Should we be holding this brand accountable for marginalizing slower or non-competitive runners? God knows I can be pretty damn slow.
But when I see these ads, I don’t think about speed or ability. To me, they’re about an attitude toward running.
They describe a person who is committed to running. Running is a large part of their life. It takes up a great deal of their time. They make sacrifices to run. They plan their schedules around running. They are runners.
These products are marketed to athletes who crave the wilderness and remote trails. Runners who move like wildlife. Not joggers who huff around the block because they ate too much and feel guilty.
We crave running for RUNNING. Not for health. Not for weight loss. Not for recognition.
That doesn’t mean we’re not slow sometimes. It doesn’t mean we never walk. It doesn’t mean we don’t run for fun. But when we do all those things, we still feel like cheetahs.
Years ago, I was that huffing, overweight runner. But even in my worst shape, I never considered myself a jogger. I was always a runner growing into my own skin. Now physically capable of doing what I always knew I must.

A Marketing Risk

If we analyze this from a marketing viewpoint, Pearl Izumi has been successful. They have gotten people to debate their product, and they have taken a risk to create a sense of elitism around their brand. Instead of trying to sell to anyone with a pulse, they have carved out a very specific target market and risked the disdain of everyone else.
How is this any different than Marathon Maniacs? Selling clothing as a status symbol only to those who qualify? Yet nobody gets offended when they see a Maniac run by.
Or back when INKnBURN was successfully marketed to only ultra runners, you couldn’t wear the brand unless you had completed an ultra. Aspiring ultra runners waited patiently and planned for the day when they could finally wear INKnBURN.
A very vivid and pleasant memory for me was when Shacky peeled off the INKnBURN shirt off his back and handed it to me, right after I ran my first ultra distance. It such a positive emotional experience that I’ve since driven sales to that company, recommended them, gotten to know the owners, toured the facilities, written reviews, and marketed for them.
Stepping out of the running world, we see car commercials associated with elitism and luxury. Brands that aren’t just for ANYONE: Wines. Gourmet food. Clothing.
The value of setting up your brand as a status symbol is immeasurable, and from a business perspective I applaud Pearl Izumi for setting themselves apart, for speaking to me and “my kind” directly, and for reaching out to me personally.
Yes, physical activity is important at all levels. I spend most of my day encouraging others to become more active, to eat healthier, and reap the benefits of running. But that doesn’t mean I have everything in common with anyone who runs.
At a marathon starting line, I never feel like the other runners. How many of them dream of running 100 miles? How many of them run 20 miles the day before a race? How many schedule back-to-back ultras? How many look for the hardest, most challenging race they can find—and immediately sign up?
The products marketed to ALL runners are not for me—the GUs, the supportive shoes, the foam rollers. I don’t carb load, I don’t taper, and I don’t stretch. I’m more of a slap- a-sandwich-together-at-the-crack-of-dawn-and-don’t-come-home-until-it’s -dark type of runner.
The truth is I’ve never been drawn to a running brand that targets the masses. In fact, anything targeting the masses is an immediate turn-off for me. I know I’m different enough that I will probably hate a product that works for everyone else.
But the Pearl Izumi ads talk about trails so remote you could dump a dead body. Mileage so high that you’re burning through gear. And movements so smooth that you feel like a wild animal. Not everybody runs like this. But I do. And I get it.
Thanks Pearl Izumi for noticing me, and picking me out from the crowd.

Friday, March 16, 2012

120 Day Challenge - 40 days In

Its funny how the ideas that seem the easiest are the hardest to maintain and finish. As myself and another 120 or so other runners started this little endeavour, see blog post, back in February (42 days or 6 weeks ago or so), I honestly thought how hard could it be to run a mile or two minimum every day. Well let me tell you, not so easy, there are many factors involved so lets list a few that I think should be considered next time I try something like this:
  1. Time: Even a measly 2 miles on a slow running day can take over 20 minutes (sometimes 30 or more if you are running a dog that is currently in heat, she has to stop to sniff everything and anything that was remotely touched by a male dog). Finding that precious time to get out for a run can be very challenging indeed, and how quickly does time fly by when you have very little to spare.
  2. Weather Conditions: The weather plays a big factor because who wants to go run a mile or two when it is winder than tornado alley during August in Kansas. Or who wants to go slogging through melting snow and ice puddles just to get your miles in.
  3. Motivation: Sometimes you just don't really want to go out, so you procrastinate until you cannot anymore, this leads into Number 1 above.
  4. Energy: Who would of thought that running a mile or two takes as much energy as it does, after a long day at work or out with the family, it sometimes takes a good swift kick in the ass from the better half to get my posterior out the door, or a dog that needs a run.
  5. Health: I have been lucky with this one so far (knock on wood, where is some real wood, my desk is press board, crap my kingdom for some good ole knotty pine right now), quite a number of the other participants have had to bow out (very gracefully I might add), because they needed to take time to heal their aches and pains. This is very important as you need to listen to your body, getting injured and not taking proper time to heal will lead to more injuries which could put you out longer or in some cases indefinitely. Not good and not recommended, number one rule, Always listen to your body!
  6. Life: Our household as well as most others I am sure, is very busy, life is full of twists and turns and surprises, sometimes making it very interesting to get those precious minutes to get out and 'Get Er Done'.
  7. Running Clothes: Yes this is a challenge sometimes as well, do you know how many sets of running clothes you need to run everyday? You either need to be a Swag Whore like a few people I know and get your digs for free, or learn to run in jeans for 2 miles (I really do not like that option, so I am hoping I get to become a swag whore in the next few years as it is much easier also on the pocket book, running gear is not cheap!).

Swag Ninja otherwise called a Swag Whore
(The art of securing free stuff under the pretense of the product review process)
Must learn this very convented skill

Oh yes, the development of the skill of writing a Haiku, as to spice up the challenge a little bit the added feature of coming up with an original Haiku with each run for a little fun, and I must say there are some pretty impressive ones that have been written over the last 42 or so days (not by me, I am still trying to find my writing style). Here are some samples that I really like and the authors who penned them:

Bill Osbourne
Day 13... 3 miles
Back before the bacon's done
Yes, that's why I run!!!

Robert (Shacky) Shackleford

One solid mile done
ow, my poor and aching feet
barefoot none the less
Rob Sanchez
I can't write haikus
I try unsuccessfully
I'm still running though!
Tracey E Longacre
Gotta run before
I chew someone's head right off
Watch out world, I'm pissed.
Stephen Uzzell
Trail Gloves, sockless
My metatarsalgia
be damned - I will run!
Shelly Robillard
Two mile family run
Lots of sun, hills and lizards
Much to smile about
Paul J Hassett
Another small run
Trying to recover now
Oops I pooped my pants
Chris Van Dyke
Chili for dinner
Bad idea before a run
Five miles of heart-burn.
Rebecca Schaefer
‎8.4 mile run
Got to guide a blind runner
Is it nap time yet?
Bill Osbourne
Who started this group?
The bane of my existence
I'm an addict now... 
Brad Waterson
Warm spring-like day here
Time to set the piggies free
broke out huaraches
Buzz Johnson
*Warning Language*
Ten thousand feet sucks
Crossfit that high fucken blows
But I did my one
Kate Kift
Mud, dirt, grime and muck
Clinging to my shoes and socks
Sunlight shines through trees.
Mark Robillard
no motivation
finally got out the door
day 20 is done :)
Ran under night stars
Finished day twenty- one
Thank those who started
Karrie Lynne Ardley
‎50k trail run
Had some beers along the way
Ice bath sucks for sure
and one of my efforts,
3 miles flying high
Realized I was on treadmill
No puddles tonight.
There are many, many more great haiku's written, to many for me to chose from, these were some that caught my eye. The whole point is making running fun. Try a few out and post them if you like, you will find that they are not as easy as you would think to put together, and try doing one every day for 120 days.
Anyway, have to head out to run Day 42 tonight as soon as the wife gets home, enjoy your weekend, I know I will.
On, On

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My polar Bear Run 2012?

Every time we head out for a run it is different, each run has a life of it's own; sometimes it's great, sometimes it's not. Then there are the one's that start out terribly and end up with a strong finish, miles longer than you thought you would have been able to pull off when you dragged your butt out the door. These can easily be my favorites! And of course there are the runs that initially feel fantastic and you have a great route planned and as you get going your body laughs at you and feeds you a plateful of humility to choke down as you hobble home a wee bit earlier than you planned. I also find it interesting that you can run with someone and have such different experiences along the way at the same time and on the same route. It's nice just to hear their thoughts because they open your mind to what it is they are experiencing. Kinda like growing up with your sibling in the same house with the same parents, but seeing a whole other side to the experience than what you saw.

The Polar Bear Run is one of these runs that really point out to me the extreme in the experience paradigm. Three years ago (2010) we had wanted to run this and it was unfortunately cancelled due to the melting snow on top of the ice. There was a 2-4 inch layer of water on top of the ice and the snowmobiles would not be able to support us if we ran across, these snowmobilers are an essential part of this run. They carry water, gatorade, supplies and even sleds that can carry an injured person if required, they are even kind enough to pick up shed clothing! We were distraught! We ran the distance that morning and it was one of the hardest runs we had done to that point. It was also our personal best for distance at that time, 17 miles! (seems rather short now).

Last year, there were four of us who drove out, this year there was two. We ran across the frozen wilderness that is Lake Winnipeg from just outside Gimli to Grand Marais a point to point route. This year, we ran along the shore line from Gimli to Winnipeg beach and back. The run is set for this Sunday every year, the Sunday morning of daylight savings time. I've been told that before this day the conditions are often to bad and dangerously cold to run safely, after this day the conditions could be to warm and dangerously wet.

Last year (2011) conditions were ideal, at the start. It was around the -20C mark and not too breezy. The trail we were following was well marked with orange poles every tenth of a mile or so, and the snow was fairly well packed... at the beginning of the trail. I'll let you read more about this experience here. There is a lot of things that can change on the frozen ice desert in a few miles than you would think.

Sunday morning was interesting as we set our clocks ahead an hour and then proceeded to get up extra early to make the just over an hour drive to Gimli. We were rewarded with a coyote sighting on our way for our troubles of waking up early; he was finding something interesting in the lightly snow covered field. It was neat to watch him as we took some time to pull over to the side of the road for a moment.

This year (2012) there was no marked trail across the lake. There just wasn't enough snow on top of the ice for the posts, or so I heard someone say. Interesting? So instead of cancelling this years run the race director was creative, asked for some help from another snowmobile club, and found us all a new trail to run. We would still be running on the lake but we would follow the shoreline and run an out and back type route. We met at 'Kris' Fish and Chips' in Gimli, where we were greeted with coffee and water before we headed out. As the start time came and slowly went by, a few runners started looking at their watches more closely. The RD came to inform us that we had a choice; we could 1. wait for the fog to lift off the lake or 2. run through town to another start area where we could get onto the ice and by then the fog should be lifted. At this time we couldn't see the end of the harbour and going onto the ice would only get us lost on the lake if we tried. Without a marked trail, and one that you could see, it is very dangerous and most likely that we would all get lost or at the least be going in different directions. We all wanted to get started so we all opted to run through town. We were outside and on our way 5 minutes later; 3 minutes after that we came to the end of a street and the RD stops everyone to point out that the fog has lifted, so out onto the ice we go. I'm really not sure, but I feel that this RD has a lot of experience in this neck of the woods. He seems to really know the terrain and conditions. Later in the run I had a chance to chat with him as we were running along to only find out that he has trained out this way for many years. It's nice when you get confirmation the guy you are trusting for your safety actually does know what he's talking about. And I believe this is the 20th year he's done and organized this run.

There were some instructions about keeping left for two areas in the marsh? And then staying to the right after that? We eagerly followed everyone, watching carefully as we saw some participants drifting out onto the lake on another snowmobile trail. Sometimes when the trails cross, they are easy to steer you out further than you initially notice, mistaking one trail for the one you thought you were on, not realizing where you are in relation to the shore. But we had the snowmobilers watching our back (and our asses!) as they did direct a few people back onto the correct trail.

Out on the ice we watch as the sun came through strong and melted the haze of the leftover fog away. Looking to your right you could see the beach houses sitting on the shore waiting for their families to return to their summer homes, looking to the left you could see the icy lake stretch out for miles until it peacefully met the sky. Looking up into the sky it seemed that the clouds were a reflection of the snow covered lake we were running on. It really felt like God had created this morning just for our enjoyment.

Gail had a great idea to eat every 5 miles to keep our energy strong and even, I loved this idea because some days it's so much about the food for me! Actually I was excited because we had tons of chocolate and energy bars, and with this kinda mileage I'm not as worried about the calorie count. We kept a pretty even pace throughout, even with our snack breaks and finished 19 miles in about 4 hours 20 minutes. Last year I think I finished 18 miles in around 5 hours 30 minutes. Same distance? (actually I think this year we did an extra mile) different conditions. Last year when I finished there was nothing left in me, I was done for the day. This year I felt excited, tired, but I still had something, which was good because we got to refuel and then had an hour drive back home to our families where of course you have to get back into life and still do stuff. About the after spread, mmmmm scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, pancakes, cupcakes, strudel, cookies, banana bread...... mmmmmm! Thank you to the staff at Kris' Fish and Chips'! Gail and I were at the end and I still couldn't believe how much food was left. Awesome!

In Gail's post she mentioned how we got lost and ended up on the wrong side of the thin ice sign, we had no idea that we were lost. We had all been told that the sign was out there and if we saw it to stay on the right and we would be okay. We never saw it on the way out, but on the way back it was interesting to know that we have someone looking out for us, and for those who chose to run with us. Some may be glad they continued on their way ahead of us? Hahaha, but the stories we get from this are priceless, or so I'm gonna believe because they give us lots to laugh about later! I think Gail has us all signed up for an orrienteering course this summer!

Thank you to all who made this possible, the volunteer snowmobilers, staff at Kris', our knowledgeable RD, his wife the organizer, the photographer, and the runners, the fat tire bike guys, the skiers. It was an awesome day that has made such a great memory, I will savor it on the days that aren't so great and it will push me through.


Gail had the camera, so to see the awesome pics go here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Polar Bear Run 2012

A few weeks ago I signed on to do this  race to keep Nicole company.  The Polar Bear run is a 19 mile race across lake Winnipeg but that does not really give you an idea to the kind of race it is. To me it is total adventure because of the changing weather conditions and also that you may be left to fend for yourself (this is an informal race so you best be prepared).  I learned this at the ice ridge last year.  In the words of a fellow runner the Tin Man, "on  great day you see clear across to the finish, on a bad day you could die".

We arrived with about 20 other racers at the chip and fish place in Gimli.  About 10 minutes after our scheduled start time, Jeff the organizer announces  that there is very bad fog on the lake and we would not be able to see past the dock.  This would leave us running in all directions and getting ourselves lost.  He seemed apologetic as he was announcing this news  and then said suddenly as though he just thought of a great idea, if we all had GPS then we might be ok.  Nicole replies that she has a GPS but it only tells her where she has been not where she is going. I will say this did not leave me with a great degree of confidence. He then suggested that we can wait 1/2 hour until the fog lifts or start out  by running through town and by the time we enter the ice from this new location  the fog will have lifted.  Thankfully we took the last suggestion.   He also mentioned something about the snowmobilers just going out now to put out the orange marking poles. Oh yes, and there was one other bit of advice.  Something about staying to the left, the left again and then staying close to the right.  Or something like that.  It was very important because there was thin ice in one particular area.  I wish I could remember directions better.  And with that thought we are off.

We were told to expect packed snow.  The  thing about this race is that it doesn't matter what you are told in regards to conditions  because there is a good chance it will turn out just the opposite. Mother nature is in charge out here and she has her own agenda. That is how I found myself running through soft deep snow.  After 5 miles my quads were sore and I had a side cramp.  Eventually we make it past the  reeds and are on the lake.  There are snowmobile tracks everywhere.  I get a sense of security that we will not get lost as we are sticking closer to land this year.  We later learn that a skiier in our group had to be correlled back as she went quite far out without realizing it.  A fellow runner later confided to us that he found himself following another snowmobile track and had  wandered away from the right trail for a bit. Always stay alert on the frozen dessert!

To avoid a hypoglycemic disaster of last year, I broke this race down into 5 mile bits.  Every 5 miles we would stop to eat and drink something.  This way we would stay evenly fueled.  This worked beautifully and by the time we got to the 10  mile mark we were sharing Nicole's chocolate covered cherries with the volunteers and having a grand old time.

Around 13 miles we lost sight of the last runner in front of us.  On these small races you get ditched pretty quickly by the race horses and so we were not surprised to find ourselves alone.  For awhile Mark ran with us and we enjoyed talking with him.  He already passed the 1/2 way mark but ran it with us again to get  in some extra mileage. It is always amazing to be in the company of gifted runners.  He eventually speeds up and goes back to his fast pace.  Later on Al catches us at a snack break.  We sense that Al may be struggling a bit and we are happy to share our supplies with him. These moments end up being the ones I remember in the long term... the times where we could help and other times where we received help. Runners helping runners.  Pretty awesome.

With less that 10 miles back to safety and no other runners in sight I begin to search for those orange poles that are to be our guide.  Those poles are spread so far apart that at times you can barely make them out.  I was aware that we would be screwed if the fog returned but said nothing. At one point  as we got closer to a pole I mentioned to Nicole that this one did not look like the rest.  Yet past that one I could see another orange one barely visible.  We must be on the right track, no?  As we get closer we are stunned to see we have managed, on this huge lake, to find the "Danger Thin Ice" sign.  Nicole goes around to the side of the writing to take a picture.  I yell at her.  She yells back, "who do you think is on the more dangerous side".  well, I guess that would be me and Al.  Poor Al.  He realizes that Nicole and I really do not have great navigational skills. We trudge on.   Eventually we see the big ship in the ice that was our starting point and we position ourselves at the angle we came out on and of course we are not on the right trail.  We are in deep snow again and decide to walk in the rest until we reach the last bit that is plowed.

It turned out to be a great day and I was glad to finish alive!  A big thank you to Jeff for taking time out of his life to provide us with an incredible experience year after year.

I know you are all wondering what we were wearing on our feet.  I wore my old shoes with gortex socks due to the wet snow conditions.  My feet still got wet but not much. Nicole wore her Minimus.  Her feet were soaked but not cold.

Some pics of the day....

Minutes before starting.  we all just stood around until someone started running.

This is the ship that is also our unofficial finish line.

Al in the background.  I am to the left yelling at Nicole.

Ice  fishing huts.

The turn around mark (the stop sign) at 10ish miles.  These nice volunteers are from the Gimli snowmobile club.  They loved Nicole's chocolate covered cherries. Those sleds are for the runners to throw their extra clothes into.

One of the fat tire bike guys.  I want to be a fat tire bike guy too!  Maybe next year.....

This is the view for a lot of the race.  Do you see an orange pole anywhere?  me either.

Saw this in the parking lot.  A nice message before the race. "they  shall run, and not be weary: and they shall walk, and not faint".

Snack time.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Perfect Runner - A Look Into The Documentary

The Perfect Runner
Produced and Directed by: Niobi Thompson
A Clearwater Documentary
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

I had the opportunity to see 'The Perfect Runner' by Niobi Thompson prior to its official release this week, and of course could not pass up the chance and I jumped all over it. Sometimes it pays to know people in the business, and this was one of those times (thanks Erik). When I first heard about this film coming out, it quickly went up to the top of my list of must see's. Not only does it revolve around the evolution of running which is interesting in its self, it also touches on the Canadian Death Race which I will be participating in this summer. Let me not forget the references and perspectives pertaining to barefoot running from someone who does not run that way, it is always interesting to see how that plays out.

Niobi Thompson has done a fantastic job of not only providing the history and development of man into the running machine that we were and some cases still are, but also provides examples in the modern world of the potential that we, as humans have. We developed into runners as a method of survival, be the hunter or be the hunted, which allowed us to help become the species that we are today. From the continent of Africa, more specifically Ethiopia to the tundras of Siberia, this documentary touches on the wonders and mysteries of the human running machine. What we as humans have to do to survive in some of the harshest elements and locales in the world. This documentary touches on the lost art of the 'Persistance Hunter', which allowed us to hunt much faster prey to survive, because 'the ability to run gave us the ability to eat'. The human species was built for endurance not speed, this is a key element of this documentary.

Niobi has also brought in some fantastic guest speakers including Dr. Dan Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University; Dr. Larry Bell, Sports Scientist at the University of Alberta, and a host of other top of their fields specialists that bring an interesting perspective to the evolution of running and where we might of gone wrong in their opinions.

What I really like about this documentary is it gives you the information, without bias and lets you make your own decision. The purpose of a documentary is to present the information and I feel Niobi has done that in spades. This is something that all runners should watch with a open mind and come to their own conclusions. We are only limited by ourselves, this has been proven time and time again by the few that have stepped outside the box, and pushed their body to what they thought were their limits, and then pushed a little bit more just to see. I am amazed by what we can do and what we are capable of doing, not quite 3 years ago I could not even run a mile and this summer I am running 2 legs of the Canadian Death Race.

Even though I am a barefoot runner, I also believe that there are times when shoes are required, I use them as tools not as crutches. A perfect example of this is provided within this film, a good quantity of the elite Ethiopian runners come from poor farming communities and grew up and started their running barefoot, which in turn strengthened their feet and bodies and provided them with the basis to become that elite runner. Once they reached the elite training facilities they started running in shoes (racing flats) which allowed them to further their skills and excel in the world of elite running. Now I will never get to that point, because I run more for the enjoyment of it, and I will never be that guy who qualifies for Boston (maybe when I am 70 it might happen) so I continue to run barefoot as much as possible and continue to push myself to new limits. I am running the first and the fourth legs of the Death Race this summer, with the intent to complete the first leg barefoot and the fourth with a minimalist shoe (probably the NB Minimus Zero Drop Trail Shoes) because of the crazy mountain summit trails. Our bodies are amazing machines and we have the ability to adapt to every environment with the proper training and tools. I do expect some looks and comments when I roll up to the start line for the beginning of leg 1, but that is ok because I will be smiling all the way and looking forward to the challenge ahead.

I look forward to meeting Niobi this summer, as he is returning to finish what he started last year and complete the Death Race solo. I wish him the best of luck, and cannot wait to compare notes on race day.

I hope you take the time to watch this documentary which airs Thursday, March 15th at 8:00 pm on CBC-TV and on Thursday March 22 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC New Network, as it may give you a perspective on running that will give you one of those 'lightbulb going off' moments.                 

Niobe Thompson is a documentary filmmaker and anthropologist, with a PhD from Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute. An experienced producer, writer and on-screen presenter, his recent films include Inuit Odyssey (CBC) and Tar Sands: Canada for Sale (CBC). He also specialises in location producing on extreme high-Arctic locations (BBC’s Frozen Planet (BBC) and Channel 4’s Medicine Men Go Wild). Before joining Clearwater Media, he was Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta, spent three years as a human rights researcher in Africa and South Asia, and worked as a forest fire fighter in northern Canada. His most recent book, Settlers on the Edge, is based on five years of research in the Russian Arctic.
Quote from ClearwaterMedia Inc. website
 More information on the documentary can be found at CBC's link here.

On, on.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Polar Bear Run 2012 - Gimli to Winnipeg Beach

We are always looking for something a little different, and why not, running the same route would get rather boring and who does not like a challenge anyway. Life is way to short to do the same thing day in day out. So this is why not only I, but Nicole and Gail look for that 'out of the box' type of run or race. This particular endeavour caught our attention last year, The Polar Bear Run, a run across Lake Winnipeg in March over the ice and snow from Gimli to Grand Marais see below for map:

Nicole was hoping to run this event again with the intent of cutting a bunch of time off, and Gail is accompanying her again this year. Unfortunately I am not running it due to parental obligations, leaving an 11 and 5 year old to fend for themselves while their parents ran across a frozen lake would probably not be viewed very favourably by the court system. But to throw a pitchfork into the spoked wheel, we have had a crazy winter season to say the least, the lake took longer than normal to freeze over so there is no defined or marked trail across the lake, there is air pockets in the ice that are deemed unsafe (considering a few snow mobiles have gone through the ice this year), and it appears that someone also went through the ice on another lake not to far away. If this is considered to be deemed unsafe, I would be in agreeance.

Due to the above, the run organizer Jeff Badger, has found an alternative route, not the epic run across the lake, but a more scenic and epic run on the ice closer to shore from Gimli to Winnipeg Beach and back, see below.

The mileage will be close to the same, approximately 9 miles each way totalling just over the approximately 18 miles that would of been ran last year, but with the safety factor of being close to shore. I expect that the camera will be coming out for some great shots along the route for posting next week. So as Nicole and Gail streak along the shoreline of Lake Winnipeg, myself the kids and our new puppy will be sitting back in Winnipeg eating pancakes and letting another notch out of the belt.

Have fun ladies, I expect an awesome report when you return.

On On

Sunday, March 4, 2012

CDR Training Week 3: Quad Strengthening

First of all let me get this out of the way,

'Holy Crap running backwards on a treadmill is not easy', then add a incline to the equation and wow you've got a killer workout for your quads. I have done this treadmill workout twice now this week and it definitely takes you a bit to get used to it. I first got on at a 3.5 mile speed and almost flew right off the back, I can tell you that was a little embarrassing with every

treadmill in use at the time. I can imagine what some of the others were thinking, "What is that idiot with no shoes doing, doesn't he know you are suppose to face the other way?" But as stubborn as I am, I got right back on the horse (or treadmill), slowed the speed down to 2.5 miles an hour and held onto the side bars until I got the rhythm down. I kind of felt like this:

It took me a couple of minutes to get the swing of this new motion, it was hard to gauge the speed I needed to go to ensure proper positioning on the treadmill, a little to quick and I was hitting the front of the machine, a little slow and I was teetering on the edge. Music for this is very important to me, it gives me that extra bit of focus and drowns out the surrounding noises that sometimes grab my attention. After about five minutes, I was feeling confident enough to start completely letting go of the side rails, up till then I was loosely hanging on. This was when the quads starting activating and I really felt it, even though I was barely holding on before, apparently this still allowed me to take quite a bit of the stress of my legs. What a difference, it took about 30 seconds for the burn to start, a good burn but a burn none the less. This workout was going to be a good one to add to the regime that was for sure. I carried on for a complete run of 10 minutes at 2.5 miles per hour at a incline of starting at 8 and maxing out at 12. I was quite happy with that.

With the success of my first adventure into backwards treadmill running, I got a little cocky (hmmm, how did that happen, well I am male and that is just what we do). Wednesday night after a morning core workout session with Carolyn which included some, yeah you guessed it quad work, I went back to the Y for some more running. This of course would include some backwards running, because now that I have mastered over 10 minutes of it, I should be able to deem myself an expert now right? So after some warmups of 20 minutes of running, I slowed the treadmill down to 2.8 miles an hour and cranked the incline right up to the max. I was confident that the experience would be similar to the previous night, a slow burn but nothing to significant, oh how over confidence can kick you in the ass. Things were good for the first minute or so, then the wheels feel off very quickly, it was kind of funny my overconfidence did me in. I increased the speed to quickly as well as the incline, and I paid for it for the two days following as my quads felt like they were beat with a stick over and over, or I had just finished riding a horse for 24 hours straight (not that I would know what that feels like but I can imagine). Must build up slowly, must resist the temptation to do the stupid thing and do to much to soon.