Thursday, 31 January 2013

Cold weather has arrived

I have been doing my long run outside for the past month, with short runs on the treadmill.  It's good for motivation to have an actual paid-for event to plan for, so I signed up for the CHOK YMCA Hypothermic Half Marathon in February.  The web site is peculiarly spartan.  I can't even tell if they have done the race before.  Okay, I checked Road Race Results, and they had 134 people finish last year, ranging from an 1:22 , to 2:51 hours.  February is a dangerous time of year for this.  I wonder how they even got insurance coverage.  Nevertheless, Ottawa has a similar race.  

Temperature minus 10 C in the sun

I have had temperatures just around freezing.  This week, finally the real cold has arrived, with -10 C for my runs.  It's a different kind of thing running that cold.  I have some good gear, but race day worries me.  I don't have much experience yet.  If there's a wind off Lake Huron, it will be frightfully cold.  If it's wet, my shoes can't cope. I don't even know if they are closing the roads, or if the race is supported with water stations.

Nice dry sidewalks

Monday, 21 January 2013

It's about the glass

Some people can find fault with everything.  I was discussing this "glass is half empty" attitude with my teenagers, and realized that the old expression doesn't apply to me.  I am neither glass is half full nor glass is half empty.  My attitude is "Can I fill that glass for you?".  

Some glasses are meant to only be half filled

There is a tremendous amount of ego involved in setting out to run a marathon or finish one of the long-distance triathlons that I participate in.  You have to believe in yourself that you will be able to find the time to do the work, and have the resolve to carry on through the pain and the obstacles.  

Attitude matters a lot.  It's what allows you to get started with the work, and the work is what produces change.  Whether your attitude is happy or angry or whatever doesn't get things done.  The attitude that I am confident in my abilities allows you to use those abilities regardless of what you have now.

Captain Kirk expressed this in Star Trek V The Final Frontier.  When offered to have his troubles eliminated, he replied, "I need my pain".  I need to have something to work at improving.  It's what makes life worth living.  Christopher Nolan's film Memento was all about this.  The hero is on a quest to find his wife's killer.  It turns out that there is no killer at all.  He has entirely manufactured the situation in order to give himself that impetus to continue to live. 

It's not that I'm happy with my half-filled glass.  I'm not.  I'm happy that I have a glass, regardless of what's in it so far.  If the glass is full?  I want a bigger glass.  I want to get started again in the process of improving on what I have.  I am confident that I can put more into the glass.  My satisfaction with life comes from seeing what's in the glass and knowing that I put it there.  I have faith that I can fill it further.  Do I stop to enjoy what's in the glass?  You bet.  Too often sometimes.  The next morning, I'm up and at it again.  Get to work.  Swim the lake.  Ride the bike.  Run the road.  

Nike had it right with their Find Your Greatness Olympic ads for London 2012.  Anyone can push themselves to go faster, farther, higher.  That's the Olympic ideal.  It's not about winning.  It's about trying harder.  It's not about what's in the glass.  It's about what you do with the glass.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Civic Responsibility

I achieved 100 donations at the blood donor clinic this month.  
Hooked up to the plasma-donation machine
I have been donating blood since university when my roommate suggested it.  You can only give blood every two months, so it took many years to get up to 50 donations.  Around 2000 they started putting these "AB donors wanted!" signs on the tables.  People like me with blood type AB are universal plasma donors.  One day staff advised that since my blood type was so rare, at less than 10% of the population, pretty much all of my blood donations spoiled on the shelf and were discarded.  As a universal plasma donor, it gets priority usage, so is much more valuable.  Plus, i feel much better after the donation, since I get all of the red blood cells back.  It's dehydrating is all.  So around 2006 I began a summer routine of cycling the hour to the clinic on Saturday mornings to give plasma, then cycling the hour and a half back home.  I gave up on doing side errands after the donation, because I ended up nauseous if it was hot.  The dehydration affects heat regulation.  The plasma machine spins up the blood in a centrifuge, then collects the amber pus that floats to the top.  The red blood settling to the bottom is pumped back into my arm.  

This is how I see Civic Duty.  It means doing things for others in society that you would have them to do unto you.  The law declares what you must do for others, but civic responsibility consists of doing what you should, even though you don't have to.  Things that fall under the heading of manners are optional, but the right thing to do anyhow.  

I don't even like the golden rule.  Doing to others what you want for yourself is just asking for trouble.  If you are lucky enough to be married to someone who is just like you it has a bit of a chance, but for the rest of us it's creating a nightmare.  People don't want the same things.  Dale Carnegie said it so much better; that you should treat others the way they want to be treated.  I think I have here an exception in which the golden rule can apply, which is civic responsibility.  In matters of civil society, make yourself an example by behaving towards others the same way you want them to behave.  The difference is that when you don't know what others are looking for, your best choice is to set an example.  Don't expect what you aren't willing to do yourself.

This message is my meagre contribution to the Forward Thinking Project.

Ready for winter with the snow tires on
Expecting some typical Canadian winter weather, I went all out this year and put snow tires on the Townie.  There was some snow for a couple weeks, but it's gotten warm again, and melted away.  

Icy slick road
That means more rain.  I hate the cold November rains.  That's supposed to end in November, and let me have snow. They laugh at me in the summer when it's so hot and i comment that it's nice not to have ice on the roads.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Cold weather ninja

Starting to get the hang of this cold-weather thing.  

The cold-weather ninja outfit

A basic double layer with my cold-weather gear covers a good range of temperatures.  Haven't had to cope with wind, so I don't know at what point I need to engage the balaclava.  Haven't needed it yet.  The roads better be dry for race day.  I know my shoes can't handle water.  Powder snow is okay, but wet slush will ruin me.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The king has new clothes

I got a new lightning-bolt shirt for Christmas.  With my socks, I settled on all black.  It makes putting away laundry so much easier when they are all the same.  For T-shirts, the ones I wear most all have a lightning bolt on them.  It's a "hey look at me" expression of confidence.  There are times when you don't want to blend in. Going to the amusement park, we used to dress the kids in their soccer shirts.  The neon colours can be seen a mile away.  

Can always use more tights
These are my new recovery tights that I got online at Running Free.  They should help with my increasing mileage over the next few months.  I'm at 20 km per week right now, intending to ramp that up to 60 by the spring, including 20 km Sundays. so now I have tights for running, tights for cycling, and yet more tights for after.