Monday, 10 December 2012

Adventure time!

Hey guys and dolls, sorry for my tardiness with the postings, but my life has been rather crazy this past month. Through November I got really sick and ended up having to put various things in my life on hold in order to recover. The Doc thinks it was Mono, so I got the blood work done to see if that is the case and am now just waiting for the results.Yippee! Or not. On the other hand I am feeling healthy now and somewhat recovered, so time to get back into it.

A scientific representation of mono
Every fall after my last races and a bit of a break I start compiling a list of the races that I want to do the following year. The list includes everything from the will do to the fantastical dream. After allowing everything to ferment for a random time, I pick two or three races that are going to be my A races and then structure the rest of the season around these events. This year is going to be a huge challenge for me, as I start pushing myself to the next level and move close to achieving long term goals. Here are three goals that I've got on the board for 2013.

1. Complete the Sulphur Springs 100 miler.  After spending the last 2 years competing in events ranging from 56k to 125k it's time to test the waters at the 160km distance. Now most people would say that I should spend more time building up to the 100 miler, but my thought on it is why the hell not?? I'm itching for a challenge, and the thought of running 160km in 30hrs or less gives me the willies. I think I can do it, but nothing is for certain and I want the risk and challenge to push me to my limits.

2. Take part in the Wilderness Traverse Adventure Race. This race, like the other two on my list has me really excited. The WT is a team based adventure race that includes: orienteering, mountain biking, trail running, and paddling. You plot your own course between checkpoints using map and compass and have 30hrs to finish. I'll be doing this with two of my very awesome co-workers, which will add a different dynamic from running ultras solo. Oh, and it'll probably require that I put a little more meat on this lanky frame of mine in order to paddle and mountain bike for hours on end.

30hrs of FUN*!!!!!

3. Compete in the 24hr Race in Ottawa. Now this race is going to be different from the other two from both an physical standpoint and my mental approach. For those unfamiliar with time based ultra's you basically run laps around a set course for the time limit and see how far you can go. Yeah, it's a little like a hamster on a wheel. For 24 freaking hours!! I may be in need of psychiatric treatment. Eventually. Anyways, the reason that I'm doing this is that since getting into ultra distance races it's been a dream of mine to represent Canada in one of these 24hr events. Why? Cause it's my kind of crazy, and a totally unique way to represent your country. So for this race I'm in it to push myself to the edge, over the edge and then farther. I'm in it to see what kinda damage I can do.

With these three big races for the upcoming year, it's going to be an exercise in time management and a wee bit of sleep deprivation along the way. In order to achieve these goals, I'm going to have to spend a lot of time this winter working out on my TRX, and rock climbing in order to build overall strength and muscular endurance, this all on top of running every day. I'm super excited to start this journey, and see what's in store. Wait, where's my spandex??

Friday, 9 November 2012

One Armed Pete

It's safe to say that most guys, and maybe some gals, aspire to BAMF-hood (badass mother f***er). It's no secret that guys enjoy watching movies like Die Hard, James Bond, the Terminator series and other such action movies. What self respecting guy doesn't want to be the smooth talking, ass kicking machine that is John McClane? Fictional characters aside, our society and history is full of BAMFers that did the exceptional and lived exceptional lives.You find though, that behind the hype and legend are actually ordinary people doing the extra-ordinary.
Showing this year at the Banff Mountain Film Fest is a story about three guys who together climbed the El Capitan rock wall in Yosemite. What separates these guys from your average Joe climbers, is that all three of these dudes have a disability. In fact these three guys were the first to do an all disabled ascent of El Cap. "We're climbers first, disabled second." Now in the realm of Bad Ass these guys have got to be up there. Missing a limb? No prob, let's go climb a 3,000 ft granite rock face. Ordinary dudes doing extra-ordinary things.

The stage is 1974, and the annual Western States 100 mile one day ride is about to start. Unfortunately for Gordon Ainsley, his horse had been suffering from chronic lameness and he decided that his horse was unfit to compete in the ride. Rather than let something small like not having a horse in a horse race, Gordon decided to tackle the ride on foot. Astonishing both himself and everyone else involved in the race, not only did Gordon finish the 100 mile journey but did so under 24 hours and won the silver belt buckle award for a sub 24hr finish. From this minor mishap grew the world of trail ultra-marathoning as we know it.

Greatness, or the extra-ordinary is nothing more than ordinary people overcoming setbacks, with a can do attitude and a bit of zaniness. Missing a limb? Horse gone lame? Shit son, that's peanuts! Get out there and give'er. Instead of waiting for adventure and the incredible to come to us, how about we find the incredible in the ordinary circumstances of life?

"All men are ordinary men; the extraordinary men are those who know it." - G.K Chesterton

Friday, 26 October 2012

Who wants to jump off a cliff?

I've got a bit of a confession to make. For some of you it's not new, but for others this might be the first time hearing it. Now, before you do an intervention for me and call the serious men in long white coats hear me out. For the past six years I've found myself delving deeper and deeper into a world where crazy becomes the new normal, and what was previously considered insane is today's standard. Now various friends around me have been acting as enablers (Ignacio, this might be you, just possibly) and have been pulling me deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. The past three years I have started into the hardcore stuff. The stuff that leaves you beaten and battered afterwards. Yes, for the past three years I've become hooked on ultra-distance racing.

                             Ultra-Crazy, not ultra-distance although they may seem identical.

It started with buying a road bike, and like pot to meth within no time at all I found myself toeing the line at the Lake Placid Ironman practicing incredible self warming procedures in my wetsuit. (Don't ask) It wasn't enough though, I needed more, more distance, more suffering, more crazy. After the Ironman came the Canadian Death Race, which was a whole other level of bonkers. If you haven't flirted with hypothermia in the rain up a mountain while wearing short shorts you haven't lived.

Now stop calling the shrink, put down the phone and listen to my proposition. I want you to join me. Jump off the cliff of normal. Go crazy, it's okay. Do the characters in the movies you see or in the books you read do boring normal stuff? Hell no! They do stuff that has their neighbours convinced that they are nuts. Now, you don't have to follow me and jump down the extreme endurance rabbit hole. Find some think that you think would be cool, but kinda scares the buhjeezus out of you. When you find something that both attracts and terrifies you, go for it!! Commit yourself fully to the adventure.

"Until one is committed there is always hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising to one's favor all manner of unforeseen accidents and meetings and material assistance Which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

Now, what you may find after attempting or finishing this crazy adventure is a sense of new self. You become more than the person you were before you started your journey. The great thing is that even if you fail you'll have grown through the setbacks. You may just find that you can grow wings when you jump off the cliff. Or your family and friends will have done an intervention and you now have a fancy white coat and a personal bouncy room with rubber walls. Either way the ride is gonna be sweet.

           I neither confirm nor deny acting like this.        

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Shining Eyes; Redefining Success

Success today means many things to many people. If asked, most people would probably say that having a bank account loaded with benjamins, having a garage loaded with the sexiest cars, or just remaining sane in the moment would be a standard of success. While good goals in and of themselves (who would not want to be sane? or have 10 smart cars parked in their two vehicle garage?) I think there is another way that we can define success: by the amount of shining eyes that we have around us.

Before you start to think that I'm advocating for the presence of glowing eyed supernatural beings, check out this video to get the low down:

                                                 Do your eye's light up a small village?

What I find fascinating in this video, among other things, is the idea that success lies not in our personal gains. Rather that success is our positive influence on those that we have around us. Are you successful? When your with people do you inspire them? Lift them up to be more than they thought they are capable of?

Imagine if for 3 weeks everyone in your family, house, job lived like that. What do you think the atmosphere would be like? I know I'd be giving almost everything to be in an environment where people lived to lift up others on a daily basis. Personal relationships would grow immensely, as we focus more on what we can give to the other rather than what we can get from the other. Everyone wants to be loved and known for who they are, and not used as a means to an end.

How do you think the business world would change, if businesses focused their energy on trying to inspire not only their employees, but also their customer to be the best they can be? It's not enough to try to just get your employee to be productive and satisfied to the benefit of the company. If the company tried to help their employees to become the best versions of themselves as individuals, whether or not the company benefited, you'd would probably find a higher retention rate of employees and a better end result. If customers saw that a company tried to help them, sometimes regardless of the end result, people will stick around and support that company.

Success for ourselves is helping and inspiring others to be the best they can be. Can you start living a successful life today and make some shining eyes?

Monday, 17 September 2012

We have dust off!

Well since it's only been about a million minutes or so since I last posted on here, maybe your due for a brief recap. When I last posted, I had been working at Gears Bike Shop in Toronto. Since then I've left my job at Gears and have moved to Kingston On, to take up a position at Trailhead Kingston. So in April I packed up and moved out of Toronto and to Kingston. One of the main factors for the change was the decision to get back into school, and I got accepted into the Buisness Marketing program at St. Lawrence College in Kingston. So change all around and I'm now a week into classes after a year off. It's kinda weird.

The change has been good. A new job with great co-workers and the opportunity to start organizing some barefoot running clinics. A huge learning experience, and it can only get better with time. Thankfully the guys and gals at work have been super supportive! Being a big gear junkie, it's kinda hard to keep the money in the wallet and not get into all the cool new toys.... But I manage somehow. I'll try to get some reviews up for those interested.

Also I've moved back home. Having been away from home for 7 years it's been an, uh, adventure to say the least. It's been a mixed bag of good times and starting to froth at the mouth. Luckily the good times have outweighed the frothing. (but if I froth more, it saves on shaving cream.... decisions decisions) I'm pretty thankfully that I have the opportunity to live at home, as it allows me to save big time while in school. Plus I've started to spread the running bug to my siblings, which is incredible to see.

Finally running, as with the rest of the past year, its had its highs and lows. A bike accident messed my pelvis up and it's been a constant game of trying to heal and trying to race ultras. Yes, they're pretty damn close to being mutually exclusive. Despite the bum body, I managed to land myself in fourth place at the Kingston 6hr race. Followed by a stretch of time waiting for my body to settle down. (Note to self: racing while injured is not a bright idea). I raced twice more before my body waved the white flag big enough that I couldn't avoid acknowledging it. Who says I'm a fast learner?

All in all it's been a year of awesome flow, and messed up times.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Dead in the water

Dead in the water pretty much sums up the past 6 weeks. A combination of mild shin splints and a badly out of joint tail bone have been keeping me out of commission. The shin splints were part not acclimatizing myself to running while carrying 3L of fluids, gels and electrolyte drinks and super aggressive downhill running at the Sulfer Springs 50M. Thankfully it seems to have cleared up enough to go running and SHOULD be fine to do the death race on. No guarentees though. The tailbone was more of a freak thing which ended up being caused by an overly tight piriformis muscle. (The piriformis connects from your femur, around and under the gluteus maximus and into your tailbone.) So drinking more water and some good deep stretching have helped clear that almost completely up. So needless to say I am heading into the race REALLY well rested. Lets call it a super taper.

Does this change my approach to the race? Yup, it sure does. And for the better I think. Earlier I was planning lining up for the race and trying to hit a solid time and see if I could land a good result. Given the small asteriks beside my shape, I'm going to take the "wing it and enjoy it" approach. I'm going to run the race based on how I feel and what I can draw from myself on that day and in those conditions. Gonna kick back, enjoy an adventure and frolick through the mountains.  As you know, it's not an adventure until something fucks up. Well things are already a little wonky, so lets say the adventure has already begun!

Oh yeah, I promise pics and maybe a movie!

P.S. My netbook gave up the ghost over 3 weeks ago now, which has been one of the big reasons for lack of posting. I'll try to get back into the groove.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

You mean I'm not Invincible???

I've got shin splints. This really bites the big one. It's more than likely the combination of lots of running and bombing down the hills at the last race. So for now it's a matter of taking some time off from running, spending more time on the bike and hoping that things come together for the Canadian Death Race at the end of July. If all goes well I should be able to start running again near the end of next week.

You never really appreciate how much you enjoy/rely on something or someone else until you lose the ability to to engage in that activity or spend time with that person. As far as running goes, running provides a great stress reliever for myself (especially flowing down a forest trail with the sunlight dancing through the leaves), but it also provides a meditative head space which allows me to sort through the rambling of my noggin. Right now things are a little stressful at work, and not having the outlet to help cope with the stress keeps me on edge more so than I should be. The flip side of this is that as I cannot run, it allows me the ability to reconnect to a certain degree with friends which get a little lost in the 11hr work days and running.

Given that we are individuals and complete, whole beings; it is impossible to compartmentalize our lives or expect that what happens in one area will not effect the others. From a purely physical perspective, lack of nutrients from one specific micro-nutrient (Vitamin A, C, Iron, Selenium) for an extended period of time can have drastic and long lasting ramifications. E.g Iron deficiency can lead to anemia. All it takes is one small thing to be missing to really mess the big picture up within the health of the body. We are not just physical beings, but beings that exist across several planes: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. Deficiency in one, or over burdening in another has implications in the rest. Ever been really stressed out about work, school, relationships and found that your body is out of whack? Or that because you haven't been tending to your body that your work, relationships and beliefs become a little frayed?

I've also recently made the decision to drop back into school. I finally broke down and applied to college for Fitness and health promotion at Humber here in Toronto. After talking about college so much in university, I'm finally pulling through on this one. We'll find out in a couple months if things work out in this direction or not.