Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Squirrel Fartlek

A Swedish term meaning speed play involving a squirrel. A type of workout which allows the runner while on a continuous run with his dog to be dragged at an excessive pace for an indeterminate distance. Number of intervals is random. This workout is both aerobic and anaerobic and may involve cursing. A long leash is recommended.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sometimes Tomorrow Never Comes

My Granny, Ruth Steeves, has always been close by. In my early years, when it was just my mom and I, she was our support system, particularly for my mom. Every night after I was put to bed (I got the bedroom, my mom slept on a futon in the living room), my mom would call my Granny and they would sometimes talk for hours. They talked nearly every day right up until my mom and step-dad left for Costa Rica last week.

When my mom needed a break from the single-parent life, I stayed at my Granny's for the weekend. It was a sweet set-up for me - Taso's Pizza and movies that I normally wouldn't be allowed to watch, two of which I will never forget - 48 Hours and Kentucky Fried Movie. Imagine my Granny's horror when she found out that the latter was bordering on soft porn.

Granny was married twice, divorced twice. However, that's a part of her life I really never knew much about, for as long as I knew her, Granny was a single woman, living in a one bedroom, then bachelor suite, just up from Ambleside.

She was one tough cookie. Since the early 80's, when she was diagnosed with Kidney cancer, we thought that every Christmas was going to be her last. Yet she made it another 25 years. Beat cancer, battled emphesema, kidney failure (other kidney), heart failure, loneliness, and a whole host of maladies which are probably pretty common when you're 87.

The emphesema was a direct result of the two-pack a day habit that I believe she picked up back in boarding school. Something like 40+ years. When they diagnosed her, they sat the family down and said that she had to stop smoking that instant, cold turkey. Imagine, 40 years of habit, then stop. They were worried that she might accidentally light a match in the middle of the night and blow up her oxygen tank (and her), so it was high stress for the rest of us for a while. I even stayed over at her bachelor pad a few times, sleeping on the floor next to her bed so I could prevent her from lighting up.

When I got in a huge fight with my mom at 17 and was subsequently booted from the house, I sought solace in my Granny. She would have none of it though, going so far as to call me a little jerk. That surprised me and probably hurt as much as I could ever be hurt by words. But it was the truth and she was giving it to me straight.

She retired in 1985 at the age of 65. Her first act of retirement was to take my cousin Kevin and I to Disneyland for a week. I had a great time, but it's only now that I realize how special that was, and how crazy it was for a 65 year old woman to take her jacked up grandsons to Disneyland on her own.

My Granny loved to sing. That's a part of her I'll never forget. After retiring she became actively involved in the music scene at the West Vancouver Senior's Center, joining a group called the Sweet Adelines in the process. It's probably from her that I gained my love of music. Nana Mouskuri's "Little Toy Trains" will always remind me of Christmas at my Granny's. That and Boney M.

When Granny couldn't make it to my University Convocation Ceremony, we smuggled out my cap and gown, drove over to my Granny's place and posed in front of the bushes outside her apartment.

Over the last couple of years, Granny grew increasingly disoriented and confused. About two years ago, I put together a surprise birthday party for my wife. As Heather pulled into the driveway with her mom, everyone hid. While they were coming into the basement, and with the rest of us trying to be completely quiet and still, my Granny politely asks in a relatively loud voice, "who's the cake for?"

For most of my adult life, and probably even longer than that, my Granny has been the glue in my family. We're a small family and we're all very independent, private people. If it weren't for her, we probably wouldn't have seen each other even half as much. She was our reason to be together.

As the years have passed, I've seen Granny less and less. She's always been no more than 15 minutes away, but I've always seemed to put off seeing her until "tomorrow."

Well, sometimes tomorrow never comes.

My uncle John just called from Pender Island to say that my Granny had just passed away.

I'll probably always feel sad and have some regret over the fact that I didn't visit her enough in her later years. She was cooped up for the last five years of her life in Cedar Village, a Senior's Home in North Vancouver. They treated her with kindness and compassion, but to Granny it was hell. I'm ashamed that I didn't do more to make her last years a little more enjoyable.

For as long as I can remember, Granny has joked about being "ready to go." I always told her that she had to stick around to see me get married and to meet her Great-Grandkids.

I always be grateful that she stuck around for both.

She was a good person. I will miss her dearly.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Gunner Shaw - Abbreviated Race Report

The race rocked. I ran well. Disappointed that I didn't have the courage to let it all hang out and go after Brad.

My feet, hamstrings, and hips are sore today. Combination of getting older and not having run hard in over a month.

Thanks to the Lions Gate Road Runners crew for putting on the kind of event that I like - inexpensive, no frills, awesome course, great volunteers and crappy weather. Bare bones racing at its best.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gunner Shaw Memorial Cross Country

As I need a good butt kicking, I've decided to toe the start line at this Saturday's Gunner Shaw Memorial 10km Cross Country Race out at Jericho Beach.

Reasons to run Gunner Shaw:

1. It starts at 11:00 AM
2. It will be cold
3. It will be wet
4. You'll run through mud
5. You'll run on a beach
6. You'll run through a creek
7. You'll hurt
8. It's only $10

See you there!


Sunday, November 25, 2007

2008 Race Schedule

As I've been running for nearly five months now without a goal in sight, it's time to dream big and lay it on the line for next year:

Dirty Duo 25km
- The ice breaker
Chuckanut 50km
- The "remember how much ultra's hurt?" race
Vancouver Marathon
- Another shot at redemption
Seek the Peak
- I'm going for the win at this one (it is my baby after all)
Comfortably Numb
- A necessary evil
Knee Knacker
- Taking a run at the big boys (I'm coming for you Simon)

Things I need to improve upon:

- Nutrition (the bain of my existence)
- Mental game (the other bain of my existence)
- Downhill running (I'm a terrible downhill runner)
- Focus

Now that I've put it out there, time to deliver!


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sky Running in the Italian Dolomites

Man, I wish I was there

Anton Krupicka - A New Breed of Runner

This guy is quickly becoming the new king of trail / ultra running. Check out this La Sportiva profile on him when you get a chance.

The dude does half of his training barefoot! I better toughen up.