Saturday, April 30, 2011

Run for Water (One month counting)

The Run for Water is a fabulous run. Not so much for the scenic views of Abbotsford or the incredible volunteers but rather the cause. The cause is bringing fresh water to small villages in Ethiopia. Each year for the past 3 years, we’ve run this run as a family. We started strong with all seven (Nana included). It was a tough year I pushed Owen my then 5 year old in the BOB running stroller for the 10K. My oldest went with Nana and Ethan ran with my beautiful running wife. If you could describe running as a bug, an infection perhaps, she got her first taste of it then. She cured her self for awhile but by the following year the infection came back.

The next year she was serious. We started buying running clothes, outfits! New shoes were a necessity. That year she picked up a running jacket, new shoes, a Nike+ sensor My wallet started to hurt a little. I picked out a beautiful pink Fuel Belt for her one special occasion. From a long time runner it was fun to watch her develop, too watch her infection turn into a full blown disease.

Unfortunately life gets in the way. As we runners have all discovered the cure for a serious case of the running disease is a busy life. You see my wife is not only married to a serious runner (LOL), mother of 4 children, full-time career but is also working on her degree in Social Work. And you thought I burned the candle at both ends. Needless to say sometimes life just crashes down around you and you can’t run. No time! No energy! You know the tune! But I’ll tell you the biggest turn on in the entire world is commiserating with your beautiful wife when she says, “I missed my run today, damn it!”

I know things are starting to go my way and she is starting to understand the runner’s mind. Now the runner’s mind is a complex thing far too complex to discuss in just one blog post. But when she was signing up for this run she asked me what event I was going to run. This event has a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon and for the first time this year a marathon. I joked with her that I would run the marathon.

She said, “You couldn’t run the marathon?” And I responded, “I bet I could!”

The only catch was this is Jenny’s event, it’s her time. I run with our daughter no matter what. I slept on it that night and thought of every logistical consideration and came to the conclusion that I could probably complete the marathon with a running stroller. No Boston qualifier but still finish. However keeping my daughter trapped in a running stroller for 4 hours seemed almost cruel. Although Kallie loves running with me in the stroller, 4 hours is a bit much.

In the end I signed up for the half marathon. A daunting task with a 35 lb child and a running stroller but I relish the challenge. I’ve always wanted to be one of those guys who can pop off a marathon in a weekend whenever and wherever they wanted. I am almost positive I could have but not with the circumstance. Maybe one day but not today.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to run a half marathon and my running future is only getting brighter.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Burden of the Responsible Man

I love the painting Burden of the Responsible Man by James C Christensen. It’s a conceptual painting with the central figure packed down with all his ‘stuff’, all his responsibilities. The painting oozes with symbolism. I have inserted a graphic to show you what I mean and I won’t bore you with what I think it all means. I would much rather share with you his work and let you interpret it yourself. I love the dangling carrot. My brother owns a print of ‘Burden’ that he purchased quite some time ago. I swear I could stare at it for hours every time we see each other.

When he first bought the print over fifteen years ago, I wasn’t married; I had no children, no mortgage etc. The burden back then was deciding what I would eat for breakfast or how I would pay my bills with the income I had, or are these tires going to make through winter. I smile at how simple life seemed back then by comparison. And yet at the time the burden was real. As we mature and gain experience in life we are able to take on more responsibilities.

I recently read an article by a NY Times columnist Jenna Wortham, she was discussing FOMO the fear of missing out. If you can find it, it is a great read. It goes on to talk about our dependency or our interdependency with social media to hook us up with the best parties and goings on. Anxiety is fueled by social media and it gives us this underlying fear that we may be missing something better elsewhere. In our little running community (all my Tweeps are runners) I too, am inundated with tweets describing their runs or their big marathons coming up. I too, am somewhat anxious that I have missed a chance at a tweet up or a Ragnar or Mojo Loco with some people who have become kindred spirits to me.

The FOMO gets worse when I have a streak of non-running days. My anxiety lets me believe that I am getting out of shape, gaining weight. I become bitchy on non-running sunny days and a runner crosses our path. I want to be out there for sure. . .

“You okay Dad?”, she says to me. Her big brown eyes stare back at me and she smiles.

“Of course I am honey” I reply.

I jammed my thumb putting the wall into place. Her third birthday is next week and I am rushing to get her birthday present finished. It is a beautiful cedar cottage 4’ x 4’ inside. It took me all weekend and a bit more to finish but it was the only time I had to finish it. I passed on two long run opportunities to get it finished. You see I was away all week and we have two lacrosse games this weekend so time management is key. Running just has to take a back seat.

She absolutely loves it! I just wish the weather was a little better so that she could use it. I wouldn’t say it was a ‘Burden’ more likely a labor of love. And as far as FOMO . . . well I am 46. I’m not planning on hanging up the shoes anytime soon but my kids are only young once. At this moment in my life I’d rather be there on Saturday morning when my kids wake up and laugh at the cartoons or watch the Wiggles eating peanut butter on a spoon before my wife wakes up. Missing out? Don’t believe for one second that I’m missing out.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

The North Face

Day 2 of 7

The North Face, what have you started! Okay maybe it wasn’t TNF but certainly they are guilty of the same crime as most high profile sports companies. Whether it is TNF, Lululemon Athletica, and of course, Nike these brands were once singularily identified with their sports origins. Lululemon for its yoga, The North Face for its extreme alpine climbing and Nike for its running. Since its humble beginnings they have all branched out to the mainstream. Capitalizing on their popularity and taking their brand to the average Joe.

I remember in my early running days, I’m thinking 25 years ago. I worked at an outdoors store that manufactured its own line of Gore Tex outdoor gear. The designer shamelessly copied the designs of TNF and produced it as his own ‘sans logo’ at a far more reasonable price. The concept was a hit, only because Gore Tex was a great product. Waterproof and breathable the perfect combination for outdoor enthusiasts and as the fledging salespeople, we were intent on selling it on its benefits and defending it against its shortcomings. I say the concept was a hit because only outdoor enthusiasts flocked to the store. The designs were good, the colors were eye catching yet it lacked that certain identifiable savoir faire that TNF had and my former employer did not. Can you guess? Yup that ‘big ass’ embroidered symbol of Yosemite’s Half Dome on the shoulder. What you didn’t know it was Half Dome? Wise up, Ansel Adams is rolling over in his grave as you read this.

Still talking about the early days, I had a friend who was going to fashion design school. Who knew higher academia had such an institution fervent on teaching others about something so trivial as clothes. To me clothes had always been something to cover the body and not much else. Much to my wife’s chagrin my shirt often don’t match my pants and I constantly go out on our date night with some worn out Asics 2130’s. So the story goes, I remember vividly having a philosophical discussion about logo’s and branding. “Make it big, make it simple and people will buy it!” (In the background I’m hearing W.P Kinsella “If you build it, they will come!”) She listened to my soapbox rant with slight distain. All the while I was thinking she doesn’t give a F what I think. She went on to having a career with a local very popular clothing company that got swallowed by the leading names in that particular industry, namely: Quicksilver, Dakine, and Roxy just to name a few. Do you see where I’m going with this? Close your eyes for a second and picture the logo of each of the last three names I just mentioned. Simple, big and memorable.

I weep for my lack of creative entrepreneurial moxie all those years ago. Clearly I had the foresight but not the creative gift nor the intestinal fortitude to carry off such a venture. Since my early days I have watched as many a fledgling clothing company falls by the wayside not for lack of quality goods but yet for the marketable eye catching logo or memorable slogan to go with it “Just Do It” (Nike) or “It’s in You” (Gatorade).

And for a time I mocked the successes as they sold their birthright to grab a piece of the pie. I chuckled when I saw a less than an athletic looking man sporting The North Face apparel. I thought to myself, this guy doesn’t look like he could climb a flight of stairs let alone scale a mountain. What does he need the hardcore gear for? As I matured and thought more about it, my thinking changed. Maybe these people will never scale the north face of the Eiger but only dream of it. Or maybe they bought the outdoor gear with the intent of wearing it for its designed features or maybe they bought because they just looked ‘hot’ in it. They wanted to be identified as athletic or outdoorsy. If The North Face could design a garment that appeals to the mainstream, that appeals to those who think ultra runners are nuts but yet gets them out the door and on to the trail. Then we all win!  Today from its humble beginnings The North Face manufactures all sorts of clothing, shoes and sponsors a number of cool ultrarunning events as well as a bunch of high profile athletes.

America is getting fatter by the minute. If branding can be identified with athleticism or athletic pursuits and dreams. If it gets people off the couch and around the block if even to show off their new Vibram Five Fingers or Lululemon yoga pants then who am I to scoff at these corporate giants intent on fueling their motivation. Branding becomes the kindling to our spark. If newbie runner feels more like a runner sporting the ‘big ass’ logo on his gear then and it keeps him running then I’m all for ‘big ass’ logos.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

7 Posts in 7 Days

 I was thinking about going for 30 posts in 30 days but come on now I have made less than 7 posts for the entire year let alone for the next 7 days. So here I am stuck in an airport once again pondering life, more specifically social media. I remember seeing a tweet by Erin337 a couple of months ago and it stuck in my mind. She asked the question “Does anybody read blogs anymore?” Of course the handful of responses varied from the sarcastic to the avid endorsement of said social media outlet.

Blogging to me is a step above Facebook and Twitter quite possibly on par with Podcasting or the new Urban Dictionary term, “Blogcasting”. Blogging takes style and a fair bit more thinking than the 140 characters Twitter involves. That being said Twitter is the social media equivalent of a haiku, condense what you have to say in 140 characters or less. Make it meaningful, contrite, and you very well may become a social media darling. Certainly there is power in numbers. Try and try again and become someone’s favorite or certainly build the number of followers. It feeds the fire and you become part of it. In doing so, your every thought is tweeted and you blog less because . . . well you’ve said it before!

I love reading and responding to Tweets when I can. Once again quoting Twitter I remember Adam Tinkoff, The Zen Runner, comparing a conversation on Twitter to having a conversation on an elevator with a megaphone. Classic Tinkoff indeed.

I love reading blogs when I can. Blogs on the other hand give insight to the psyche, the emotion, the aura of the writer. Much like podcasting because of there one sidedness, blogs become and expression of the person. In essence the writer (podcaster) and the blog become one.

I like blogging. The problem is as I said before blogging takes a fair amount of thought. Thought requires time. Thoughts I have in abundance. Time is something I don’t have a lot of. So there is the challenge and I lay it down as a challenge because in doing so I put it down on the line for only myself to beat, a personal challenge. You can call me out on it if you so please. But this is more for me than anything.

I sit hear in the Edmonton Airport waiting for a flight home. Time is something I have, for now. My next challenge is the next 7 days. Life at home is hectic. Life on the road slightly less. For all the runner’s out there I had an absolutely fabulous run one week ago and have been on the go ever since ergo no running since. Hopefully tomorrows post will be a celebration of tomorrow’s run.

Wish me luck. See ya tomorrow!