Let it be known...

...that I'm posting 1432.16 minutes of running (on 14 runs)  and 300 minutes of walking to the Warrior Board for March. Let it also be known that I stole that sentence unabashedly from Lance Armstrong, in what has to be the funniest series of commercials ever made - the other two are here and here. Let it also be known that I am very happy with the way March went, despite wimping out of more than a few runs - once for rain, twice because I felt I needed an extra recovery day after a weekend long run, and once because I just didn't feel like getting out of a perfectly warm bed at 4:20a.m. Let it also be known that, and this is from personal experience, while it may be fun to start every sentence with "Let it be known", one's spouse may tire of the game quickly.

The 100km run we're getting ready for is now only 40 days away. On Saturday I decided to run 50km, and felt strong throughout. With no tapering, no pre-run carbo load, a bagel, a banana, a box of chocolate almonds, some Gatorade, a few bathroom breaks, and a few km of walking mixed in, I finished in 4:42. I'm still trying to find a pace I feel I can hold for the full 100km, but was buoyed by the fact that I felt I had at least another 20km at the pace I ran on Saturday in me.

We've had ideal running weather in Seoul over the past few weeks, that one day of rain notwithstanding. Breezy blue skies, morning temperatures around 5 or 6 degrees, the hills surrounding the city beginning to green deeply and trees and flowers blooming - very pleasant indeed.


The Greatest Desert

We downloaded Running the Sahara from here this weekend. The documentary was fascinating, with stunning cinematography and a beautiful soundtrack, as it chronicled Charlie Engle's, Ray Zahab's, and Kevin Lin's epic run across six countries in 111 days. They ran to raise awareness and money for H2OAfrica, in order to provide potable water to mostly nomadic people through a series of well projects. For Deanna and I, fledgling ultrarunners both, the film also provided insight into the dedication and spirit necessary to push beyond one's own perceived limits. As if all that wasn't excellent enough, it was narrated in the round by Will Hunting, Jason Bourne, and Mr. Ripley.

And if there isn't yet an official Ray-Zahab-is-The-Coolest-Guy-on-The-Planet fan club, I want to start one.


Eyes on the prize

An excellent photo of Mr. A4748 as he covers the last few hundred paces of the race on the track in Olympic Stadium. Immediately off his right shoulder, that haggard chap casts a glance into the bleachers for either an oxygen mask or a giant, frosty can of Dr. Pepper, both of which he looks like he needed.

Allegedly, photographic evidence of Deanna's run exists too. Knowing me as she does, I opened my email at lunchtime to this, verbatim and unmistakable in tone: I do not give you permission to put my photo on your blog. Not much room for interpretation there.

And while no photographic evidence (that I have) exists, Greg had an eventful time in Hangzhou. From cobbled-together post-race email reports of dehydrated teenagers, muddy mountain trails, wrong turns taken, diesel fumes, and idyllic temples, it sounds like the ready-for-boar, tonic-drinkin', Snickers-eatin' runnin' fool had a fine day.



Deanna and I completed our second Seoul International Marathon on Sunday. While not as memorable as the 2008 edition, thanks that year to the fine company of the other half of Team Howard and a Smith, we had a great day nonetheless. All concerns of foul weather were unfounded, as we had cool temperatures, blue skies, and light winds throughout the morning.

This event, like the other races we've done in Korea, was well organized and well supported. Thousands of volunteers and spectators kept our energy levels high with stocked aid stations (bananas - yep; sports drink - got it; choco-pies - check; cherry tomatoes - of course; acupuncturists - naturally) and screams of encouragement. The course is flat, which is great for these transplanted prairie folk, and the road closures ensure near silence on usually chaotic Seoul streets.

We haven't received our official chip times yet, but our trusty watches have Deanna taking ten minutes off her PB to finish with aplomb in 4:16, and me crossing in 3:26, also ten minutes faster than I've gone before. My colleague Altay managed to run 18k, which was about 8k farther than he had ever run before, and felt justifiably proud of himself.

We look forward now to May 9th, when we undertake our first 100km run. As if the distance was not daunting enough, the race is also done at night, starting at dinner time on Saturday and finishing at noon on Sunday. With that run only eight weeks away, we'll have to eliminate our usual post-marathon recovery fortnight in order to get our weekend miles in. Next week will see us adding a fifth run to the weekly routine, all but eliminating what meagre social lives we already had. But we're very excited for this new challenge.


This little piggy

It looks like we'll be facing a touch of inclement weather this weekend. The rains rolled in just in time for this morning's commute, and the forecast calls for more bluster on Sunday. In the summer, I usually don't mind running in the rain, but with a race-start temperature likely around 2 degrees, plus the expected 40km/h winds, it could be a chilly morning.

But I count us lucky. With only Mother Nature to contend with, we have nothing on our friend Greg. This Sunday finds him in the woolly wilds of the Middle Kingdom to run the Hangzhou Mountain Marathon. Meteorologists there have also promised wind and rain, while race organizers have advised runners to carry a sharp stick, lest they meet up with a porcine 朋友 on the trails. And for once, Greg's years of whittlin' pay off.


Life Lesson #216

While delicious, the three item combo platter (chicken enchilada, soft chicken taco, and beef empanada) with sides of Mexican rice and black beans does not an ideal pre-run meal make.


Of Beaver and Sweet Wine

We were thrilled on Sunday to find out that Ali's tummy holds identical twin boys. That means more nephews for Uncle Lee to permanently disfigure [see: Marshall and The Great Wrestling Match Meets Coffee Table Incident of 2008], and two more Y chromosomes in Sea Bass. Until I hear otherwise, any and all correspondence regarding these not-yet-fully-developed humans will find them labelled Castor and Pollux. And after seeing some baby pictures of Chris, I expect them to have flaxen locks a-flowin' too.


February numbers

February was an excellent month - mostly pleasant weather, a good routine with three short weekday runs and one longer weekend slog, plenty of walking, and even a little bit of stretching. Final numbers see 1275.44 minutes on seventeen runs, plus another 390 minutes of walking. I only skipped one scheduled run, but managed to lay on the couch until the guilt abated.

Next weekend we'll join about 21000 of our closest friends for the Seoul Marathon. Last year's edition was a great time, due in most part to being joined by Chris and Ali. Despite our pleas to continue the streak this year, Ali decided to follow the advice of her obstinate obstetrician and forego the twenty hours of travel time required to get here from Calgary. Since she's got identical twinlets in there, we'll let it slide for now. Next year, she better come up with a decent excuse.


Spinny McSpindleshanks

This weekend saw Seoul basking in ideal running weather - highs around 8 degrees, bright blue skies, and a bit of a breeze. Just for gits and shiggles, I decided to do my 180 minute run on a 400m outdoor track. I've read of many timed events, from six up to 48 hours, done on indoor tracks, and wanted to try to get a sense of the mindset this would require.

I started counter-clockwise, switched after an hour to clockwise, then after 120 minutes back to the way I started. After two and a half hours, I felt dizzy, which really was an odd sensation given that I was hardly running a tight circle, was getting plenty of fresh air, and was nowhere close to setting any land speed records. I was going to try and just stick it out until the end, but thankfully Deanna came by and I joined her on the paths of the mighty Han for the last thirty minutes or so.

All this to say that I now have an even deeper respect for those ultrarunners who compete and excel in the track races. I'll take the non-vertigo option anyday.

I meant to add up the February numbers to post here today, but forgot. It will have to wait until I get home and get off The Company dime.