Another Sun Run behind me

19 04 2015

Well, I’ll not bore you with the details, but today I got a personal best (though not exactly record-breaking) in Vancouver’s 31st annual Sun Run – a 10km event. My group set off around 9:55, and though the staging area was in cool shade, it didn’t take long to get out into the sunny weather.

Vancouver

Vancouver Sun Run 2015 route

I’m not a big race fan, but I do like the Vancouver Sun Run. The atmosphere is always so generous and friendly. People line the route playing encouraging music (Elvis Costello’s “Pump it up” being an example today) and hold out witty signs to encourage the participants. Here’s a couple I passed on the home stretch, about 3km out, though I personally failed to get the power-up.

Source VS: Signs of encouragement on the home stretch

As I said though, the biggest thing for me (despite a bit of pushing and shoving – it is after all playoff season – and being tripped from behind by some knob with his kid in a pushchair who didn’t see any reason to apologise), is the generous nature of Vancouverites. I thought this photo from the Vancouver Sun of spectators offering encouraging high fives summed it up nicely. Well done Vancouver!

Source – VS: Vancouver Sun Run 2015

 

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I try

24 02 2015

Tick tock goes the clock.

The Vancouver Sun Run is not getting further away, and I’ve been trying to keep up some sort of training regime. Gym a few times a week; running the rest of it; a hike at the weekend…

I did a half-decent hike on Saturday, but have been a bit lazy since then. Even my nagging FitBit hasn’t been successful in breaking my fug. I’ve been a bit low emotionally lately and that never helps with motivation.

Today though, I managed to cajole myself out for a run. As usual, I put my iPod on random and set off into the night. As I’ve mentioned a few times, there is often a single song that sticks with me as particularly memorable out of the 10 or so that play during my circuit. This time though, I noticed just how many of the tunes were about lost loves, or other forms of self pity. It could of course just be one of those weird statistical things, or it might be a reflection of the type of music I am drawn to.

The song that stood out for me tonight was the lovely Macy Gray and “I try”.

I try to say goodbye and I choke
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it’s clear
My world crumbles when you are not here

Nice steady beat though, I shaved almost 5 minutes off my circuit time which was a shock. I’ve been favouring the gym of late and didn’t think my road speed would have been maintained. Seems I was wrong. Now if only I could lose some of the excess weight I’d be quids in…

Trawling youtube to find the official Macy Gray video, I came across Natalie Imbruglia and Alanis Morissette videos. Interesting. They are both frequent visitors to my iPod, so I plainly fit whatever algorithm youtube is using for “if you like this, you’d probably also like…”.

So, as a bonus today, I bring you one of my favourite Alanis tracks – “Everything”. Any song that can begin with I can be an asshole of the grandest kind is right up my street.

I love the self-effacing timbre of much of her music, and the celebration that someone can love you despite everything you are…. or perhaps even because of it.

You see everything, you see every part
You see all my light and you love my dark
You dig everything of which I’m ashamed
There’s not anything to which you can’t relate
And you’re still here





163 bpm

27 01 2015

So once or twice I’ve written about how some ditty or other stood out from the crowd on my random playlist as my iPod accompanied me on a run or at the gym.

Last night was no exception, but this time the stand-out wasn’t for the poetry. Ha – far from it.

The tune last night was the Quo‘s “Caroline”. Hardly highbrow art, but catchy nevertheless.

Come on sweet Caroline
You’re my sweet Caroline
You know I want to take you
I’ve really got to make you
Come on sweet Caroline

Hm… not a lot to say about that really. Let’s just remember it was a product of its time and leave it at that.

I see from that 1973 video that Messrs Rossi and Parfitt still had their nasal septums back then.

Anyway, the point is that I finished my usual ~4km run significantly faster than usual. Five minutes faster. Now of course statistically it might be that I suddenly got a lot fitter, but the fact I collapsed in a sweaty heap on my return kind of thwarts that theory. No – I think it’s that this particular song was subconsciously driving my pace a little faster than usual. So I sniffed around the rear end of the internet and discovered a website that tells you the bpm for pretty much any song you care to name. It’s called jogfm and it also works in reverse and offers a list of songs for a given target bpm! Several of the suggestions for 163bpm are in my iTunes collection (well it is many GB in size, so it’d be more of a surprise if they weren’t!) so I think I know what I’m doing next weekend…

Just for the record, 163bpm is equivalent to a pace of 5:24/km. Or in other words, a sub-hour Sun Run… maybe this year’s the year.





2015 Vancouver Sun Run

23 01 2015

No going back now!

I’ve been running and to the gym every night this week… well, except last night (7:30am con call took it out of me a bit. What?! Hey – it was bloody tipping it down, OK! I might have drowned out there!).

There didn’t really seem any point to it all unless I signed up for this year’s Sun Run, so I did. Now I’ve spent money (and am from Yorkshire), I’m feeling a bit committed.

Only downside was being reminded I was now in the 50-54 age group now. :o(

2015 Vancouver Sun Run.

2015 Vancouver Sun Run

Vancouver’s Sun Run





Early morning rush

2 06 2013

So I’m not great in the morning. I look forward to the weekend when there’s no early morning con-calls with Europe or any need to try and beat the Massey Tunnel rat race before it clogs up worse than a student toilet.

No – weekends, and in particular Sundays are for lie-ins. Sometimes I’m as decadent as to lie there until 8 o’clock. Not today though. No, today I was on the road by 7:15 and heading for Vancouver. In a moment of weakness I’d signed up for the company team entry to the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation ChildRun 2013.

FDN BANNER LONG–ChildRun 2013

I figured after the 10km Vancouver SunRun in April that this would be a doddle. Even better, the company was paying for my entrance fee. All I had to do was turn up and run. It’s definitely a smaller affair than the premier SunRun… but it’s got a very different rationale. It’s actually a Fun Run. There were lots of kids of all ages taking part – and I was soundly over-taken by many who were only a third of my height. It was quite heartening really. We hear so much about how unfit our kids are – sat in front of TV screens, listening to their iPods and playing video games. But here was a group of kids of all ages and ethnicities out in the early (-ish) morning sunshine and being active. Of course – I also passed quite a few of them walking, but at least they were there. (I really must get a T-shirt with “50th year, Overweight, Pre-diabetic, Heart arrhythmia… and in front of you!”)

A few were there only because their super-fit Lululemon-clad parents had bullied them into it, but by and large, most seemed to be there of their own volition. There was no super-accurate start; no timer chip; no first prize for the “winner”. This was an event. A happening. The only race was against yourself. I overheard one little chap complaining to his mother than other kids were cutting the corners as the race wound through Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. She laughed and said “they are only cheating themselves – we’ll follow the proper route”. A small lesson, but a powerful one. I was once impressed during a Scout Leader training course when moral fibre was defined to trainees as “what you do in the woods when nobody’s watching”. If you cheat when there’s only yourself measuring, what does that say about your standards?

On paper, the route looked plain enough. I wasn’t familiar with the area, so got quite a shock when a few metres past the half way mark, the route took a 90 degree turn to the right… and almost the same vertically! I’m sure in practice it wasn’t that steep at all, but it felt bad. The Sun Run has a similar “are you sure you want to do this?” moment, just as you turn to climb up to the Burrard Bridge. I decided I’d just dig in and reduce my stride, but keep “running”. At this point a few lithe souls cruised past me without breaking into a sweat, and my breath was definitely a bit ragged. I recalled an English lesson when I was about 11 or 12, when we were learning about puns, similes, metaphors and the like. The example was “His breath came in short pants”. I chuckled then. I chuckled now. But I was definitely on the edge of “let’s just walk for a bit”.

Then I saw a sign at the side of the road. It said “Pain is only temporary. Have courage and keep going“. Something along those lines anyway. And I got to thinking. Why was I even doing this run? It was a fund-raiser for the Children’s Hospital. Specifically for the cancer care and research part. And I thought about it. I had chosen to enter this event. I had therefore inherently chosen to undergo this temporary inconvenience and discomfort. But the kids in the hospital had had no choice. They were there through some cruel twist of fate. Some as yet poorly understood mechanism of nature that bestowed cancer upon them. A genetic propensity perhaps. Some food sensitivity. Walking past some chemical emission at the wrong time. Any or all of the above. But not a choice they had any part in.

And I remembered the video clips and pictures so carefully selected by the marketing geniuses for this and similar charities. Of kids with bald heads from the side-effects of chemo treatment. Crippled or bed-ridden from their internal fight against the disease. But with a smile. A laugh. A joy in life. They had no choice but to accept their pain, yet still found that joy that every child deserves. And I realised that though we may call it “courage”, they call it “life”. And suddenly I was at the top of the hill, snagging a cup of water, and depositing the empty vessel into a bin bag helpfully held out by a fireman volunteering on his day off. Another little kid (who let’s be clear – had been ahead of me until this point!) was enquiring of his mother why other folk were discarding their paper cups on the roadside. “Because they’re litter bugs” she said. Kudos. Even in a “race”, there’s no reason to make more work than necessary for all the volunteers who are giving of their own time to make the event run smoothly. This kid was getting a great grounding in acceptable behaviour for a Canadian – social awareness, looking out for your fellow citizens, respect for others, and a healthy outlook. My faith in humanity was ever so slightly restored.

From there it was downhill and flat, and our merry throng soon got to the 4km mark and passed the tail end of the 1km walkers as they embarked on their own little demonstration of solidarity and support in the opposite direction. But then…

… I turned the corner and someone had transplanted Everest to Vancouver. Where had that last hill come from? That can’t be right! Why would a race organiser put a bloody great hill up to the finish line?! Nothing for it now. Dig in, keep the momentum, and keep right on truckin’…

We’re funny animals us humans. Sat in the calm of your living room with a cup of tea and a digestive you really would not credit the effect that a friendly voice of support can have on your physical being. But a few young ladies waving pom-poms and yelling “you’re nearly there – keep going”, or random strangers clapping and cheering really can do that. That tone of support from the crowds lining the finish stretch really do have a positive effect. Your legs suddenly find energy you were convinced you didn’t have, and you somehow keep going. And then you’re over the line and it’s all over. A smiley-faced volunteer presses a  participation medal into your hand, and it’s off to find a banana and a drink of juice.

It wasn’t really a race. But I beat Mrs E for the first time ever. Just sayin’… 😉

So, feeling quite pleased with myself, we wandered back to the car – parked in the Children’s Hospital. And as we did so, we passed a young mother with a pushchair carrying a young child. On the canopy was a hand-written sign. I forget the name, but it had a photo and said “This is my brother…” I didn’t have time to read the rest as we passed, but it had a poppy – the emblem of remembrance. She was leaving the hospital. I suspect it was a regular trip she made. Suddenly I didn’t feel so pleased with myself. I’d done nothing really. Just ran 5km. Something anyone could do.

Why not take the $5 you’d spend on that next pint of beer and give it to a great cause instead? Here’s where.





I might be a fan of your insolence

4 02 2013

3.6km

25minutes

232lb

These three numbers need to change.

I signed up for the Vancouver Sun Run in April the other day. It’s 10km. The only time I’ve ever run 10km was… well, LAST Sun Run. I have walked 80km non-stop (well apart from pee breaks, but I hope you’ll let me off for those), but that was a few years ago when I was a bit younger and a lot lighter. Actually no – a lot younger and a bit lighter.

I bought myself a fancy running jacket at Christmas and this was only its second airing. I’ve not been running in about 6 weeks, so I was actually quite please I managed to run my usual route without stopping. It’s a slightly modified Canadian suburban block, so I reckoned it was about 4km, but Google maps tells me it’s only 3.6km, so who am I to argue? As we get nearer to April I suppose I should move to longer routes, but I feel no particular need to do another 10km, until the race itself.

The 25 minutes can come down a bit though. Once I get back into my swing, it should be around 22, I reckon. Tonight I was pleased simply for finishing without having to stop or walk.

The 232lb? Yeah – not sure where that came from. I’d like to be around 200lb really – despite not seeing that since before I had kids (they do say it’s hard to regain your figure afterwards. 🙂 ).

I hovered around 215lb for long enough, but post Christmas I seem to have been pogging out a bit. Anyway, in the spirit of disclosure keeping us honest, I figured that if I publicly announce my weight/times you lovely lot will cajole and embarrass me into altering the numbers accordingly. The first up, the other two down. Deal?

You may recall my offspring bought me some lovely earbuds for Chrimbo. They’re a great sound, but the silicone inserts kept falling out of my narrow ears, so I replaced them with the manky old neoprene ones from my broken earbuds. Perfect. Not a hint of slip for the whole run, and excellent reproduction from the new electronics.

And the soundtrack for my exercise?

Not quite as gloomy as it might seem! My MP3 player takes a random sample of the 20,000+ tunes on my hard drive when I recharge it. Playing them alphabetically gives a suitably random performance of bands and styles. I just happen to have got into the D’s!





Run, Fat Boy, Run!

6 05 2012
Film poster for Run, Fat Boy, Run - Copyright ...

Film poster for Run, Fat Boy, Run – Copyright 2007, Material Entertainment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So long-suffering readers will be aware I ran the Vancouver Sun Run back in April. Three weeks ago today in fact. I was disproportionately proud of my achievement. Especially as I did it in something over an hour, while the winner did it in 29:12!

Anyway, I finished it. I walked away under my own power, and by my reckoning, that was “a win”.

Basking then in this undeserved glow, I took a breather from the already far from strenuous training regime I’d subjected myself to. A couple of days slipped into a week, and so on. And then yesterday I woke up and felt, well, not to put too fine a point on it, “podgy”!

I’ve had a pretty hectic weekend giving and receiving adult training in my role within Scouts Canada, to-ing and fro-ing and meeting up with people from all over BC, sometimes until late into the night. But this morning despite being tired, I woke up and mentally hit myself with the spatula (watch the film trailer if you have no idea what I’m alluding to).

As a result, this evening I find myself on the successful end of a 4km run. The first time since the Sun Run I’ve attempted any exercise more strenuous than getting up in the night for a pee. You can not imagine how chuffed this makes me feel. Not only that I managed to ignore all the arguments I made for not doing it (we often argue – myself and I), but also for actually managing it non-stop.

Now I’m not saying I was in any danger of having The Guinness Book Of Records calling me for a statement, but I did manage to run the entire circuit without stopping, throwing my guts up, or otherwise disgracing myself in public. Of course, now I’ve done it once, I might have to do it again.

Good job I’m off to Germany for a week on business, and will be forced to drink copious amounts of fizzy German beer whilst eating far from lean Schweinshaxe, otherwise I might get fit or something…

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