Tuesday, 31 July 2012

#77 A Beginning

NYC training has 'officially' begun and every few weeks I plan to write about how it's going (as much for my own benefit as it is for yours). Yup, I'm writing a training blog but I'm hoping it will be less offensive than some of my past topics/posts. While I do enjoy stirring the pot and offending those so easily offended, I figure it's time to simply concentrate on what I know and what I do best, and that's to train hard and hopefully run fast... which of course like many things in life is relative.

Last week (Mon 23 - Sun 29 July) was the first week of the 'Marathon Build' and so far so good. There are 15 total weeks of training which end on Sun 04 November in Central Park, New York City at mile 26.2 (kilometre 42.2) of the ING New York City Marathon. My goal: To run sub 2:34. 1 week down, only 14 to go...

Although last week was technically week 1 of the marathon build, it was not exactly the start of our training program. Way back in late May and the day after Cabot, we began a 4 week 'Alpha' phase in which we gradually began building mileage and aerobic (endurance) capacity mostly through steady state runs and ~100k weeks. That was followed by the 4 week 'SWEP' (Speed With Endurance Process) phase which involved less mileage but several tough speed interval and hill workouts. It concluded with the Lindsay 10k which I review further down. Then (ie Now) we begin the 'Marathon Build.'

My first MB week totalled 121k including some easy 10-milers (16.1k), some shorter recovery/taper runs, a Sunday long run of 30k and for me, a 5k race (MEC Summer Classic 5/10k) on Saturday which resulted in a major PB and personal breakthrough of 16:03 (3:13/k). Although I was wearing my watch, I opted to run by feel and thus didn't look down to see just how close I had come to going sub 16. A lesson to be learned for any distance to glance at the Garmin with 400m or so to go in order to dig deep when necessary and scrape a few seconds off the clock if you're near a milestone time. Despite feeling very blah in the hours leading up to the race, I was able to put together something special and take a full 45sec off my previous best (16:50 at the Pride 5k in 2011). Clearly the 4 weeks of SWEP that Rob C had us do made a major impact and I have to thank him as well as my entire training crew (which continues to grow) for getting me to where I am now. 

Running 5k fast is definitely among the hardest things one can do in this sport (I'm sure shorter distances are even worse!) and it doesn't even compare to the pain and agony that is faced in the last k's of a marathon. It's a whole different world of hurt and a different kind of discomfort. Never before can I recall wanting to quit so badly in a race and having to negotiate in my mind staying in the game and not slowing down during those last 2k's. It was excruciatingly brutal and yet, as soon as I was done, I was frustrated at not having gone 4 seconds faster (sub 16) and wanted to do it all again.

Myself and Michelle Clarke, M & F winners of the MEC Summer Classic 5k
The other race to mention was a week earlier (Sun 22 July) in Lindsay, ON. The Lindsay Milk Run was a 10k that I somehow managed to convince 16 other LBRs to drive the ~1.5hrs from Toronto at 5am on a Sunday to race. I was up at 4am and in the car at 5 as we departed into the near dawn and headed north-east to Lindsay. We all arrived in plenty of time, got our race kits, geared up and then went for a 5ish k warm-up along the route which left only 5min to spare before the start. The race started just after 8am which seemed infinitely better than the year before when it started at 9 and was almost 30 degrees. This time around it was a fair bit cooler, albeit still warm, and made for faster running. The gun went off and we were on our way. Dave C got ahead of me almost immediately and not wanting a repeat of Pride having to follow him for the majority of the race, I picked it up and put myself in front of him. A kilometre in, I found myself in 4th place well behind the lead pack and there I would stay for the remainder of the race. I ran entirely alone and as I've made habit, only checked the watch at 1k (3:21/k) to ensure I wasn't over extending myself (too much). I hit the 5k mark in ~16:45 (I know this because some nice lady in a lawn-chair was yelling out splits), which would have been a PB, and then struggled slightly between 6 and 7k (a 3:34 and my slowest k of the day) where the course followed an old rail path which was ever so slightly uphill. I regained my composure around 8k at which point the route goes continuously and gradually downhill toward the finish and put together a final k of 3:15. I finished fourth in a PB of 34:16 (3:25/k average) but was unfortunately 3rd in my age category (M20-29). And no, the 33:16 I did at Yonge St doesn't count! All in all, it was a great day.
17 LBRs dominate the field at the Lindsay Milk Run
Even more impressive than my personal effort was the collective effort of the 17 guys and gals that ran on the day and saw 14 guys in the top 25 as well as us claiming the top 4 spots in the team category. Team Longboat narrowly edged out Shortplane, Tallship and Yellowsubmarine, the latter who were at a slight disadvantage since their average time incorporated all 5 runners, rather than the top 4. In addition to lifting the team trophy as well as picking up a number of individual awards, we also got to eat way more ice cream and chocolate milk than could be justified for running 10k. Well done everyone for stellar  individual and team efforts. You guys make this all worthwhile.

The week (Marathon Build 2) saw the end of July (where has the summer gone?!) in which I ran a total of 515km. This Friday is the infamous 'Hour on the Track' organized by the club which I may or may not fully participate in depending on the weather. There's also 122km to be run including our first (of 11) 32k/20m long run of the program, a double day and a bunch of fast miles to be run during a hard workout.

Next on the racing schedule is a Canadian Running Series event, the 'Toronto 10-miler & 5k' (formerly known as the Nissan and Acura 10-miler) to take place on the morning of Sun 12 August, the same day as the Men's Olympic Marathon. Since I won't be able to watch it live (it starts at 6am EST) and the results will be in just before the start of the race (8:30am), I'm hoping to avoid all social interaction that morning and watch the event a few hours late but still have the results as a surprise. Best of luck to Reid, Eric and Dylan (Team RED), our Canadian contingent for London 2012. I was amazed to see that there are 109 runners entered in the event so cracking the top 20 would certainly be an amazing result for any of the guys. Breaking Drayton's CND record (of 2:10:09) may be a bit of a stretch but we'll have to just wait and see...

Team RED: Reid (Coolsaet), Eric (Gillis) and Dylan (Wykes) set to roll in London 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

#76 Mean Mr. Mustard

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Here are some random and recent rumblings I thought I'd share with you all.

Thumb update: This coming Friday will be 3 weeks since I had surgery to put the pins and wires in to keep the bone in place. Since I was told they would come out after 3 weeks, I am increasingly anxious to get on with this. My cast is disgusting considering the recent temperatures and my insistance on running everyday since the surgery. Today I was told I may need to wait ANOTHER 2 weeks before I can be seen but I've made some calls and the wheels are in motion to have them out by Sunday. If not, I'm cutting off my cast! Seriously, I will. The smell alone is more than I, and others, can bare.

Run update: I mentioned that I've run everyday since surgery. That's 18 days and 297km. I'm looking forward to a day off on Saturday to rest up and 'taper' for the Lindsay 10k on Sunday. The race is looking to be awesome. Not because it will be hot as hell and thus likely slower than expected, but because we've organized 19 Longboat Roadrunners (LBRs) to go to Lindsay to run this thing. We've also formed 4 teams to compete (mostly against each other) for the team category. The all-you-can-eat ice cream and chocolate milk will also be a nice reward. Look forward to a race recap in a few days.
In other running news, I was recently invited to become part of the Mizuno Mesamashii Project. Thank you Michelle Clarke for this. Not exactly sure what the heck it's all about but it does mean I get a new FREE pair of running shoes and beggars certainly can't be choosers. Some might see this as being a conflict of interest, considering that I work for New Balance (Toronto). Well guess what? New Balance isn't giving me free shoes; Mizuno is! The Mizuno Wave Universe 4 to be exact. It weights 3.8oz! And I'm going to (try to) run in it. Awesome. I also have no current allegiance to one brand of shoe and am still awaiting the day that I get a sponsor (takers, anyone?). I gotta say I still love the Adidas Adios 2, the NB1400's and my current trainer the NB890RC2. But maybe Mizuno will be the brand for me (and hey, it works for Dylan Wykes).

Speaking of Dylan, some Canadian running news:

The London Olympics are almost here (9 days to go) and Athletics Canada has named it's team to represent our country in the 'sport' of Track and Field. Then, they added 5 more athletes to bring the total to 45, our largest in recent history. All I can say is that despite my reservations about the Olympics generally, which I consider to be a corrupt and greedy corporate and media circus with just a sprinkle of sport; I am extremely excited to watch what the Olympics is truly about... a bunch of humanoid, drug-enhanced freaks push the boundaries of what is humanly possible by running fast, jumping high and throwing things! The Olympics are for international peace, unity and solidarity. Give me a break! It's about nationalism, conmsumerism, and corporate greed. But the athletes are awesome and good at what they do.

Some will have heard by now that 'Oh so close, and yet so far' non-Olympic athletes Lanni Marchant and Krista DuChene are running the STWM on 14 October. They (okay, mostly just Marchant who has a lot to say about the matter) are looking to run sub 2:30 and perhaps even break Sylvia Ruegger's Canadian record (2:28:36 set in 1985) along the way. While I wish them the best of luck in what would surely be an amazing accomplishment not only for themselves but for Canadian women's distance running in general; I feel her (Marchants) desire to prove a point to Athletics Canada for not selecting her (them) for London is misplaced and immature. Argue if you will that the system in place is unjust and unfair, but the fact of the matter is that you did not meet the standard (Canada has an "A' standard of 2:29:55 for the women's marathon) to go to London. End of story.

More news related to STWM. Canadian Running magazine and online blogger Rebecca Gardiner, the women who infamously wrote a blog about/directed at me ('Angry Dan') for being an elitist jerk (which I don't deny), has been chosen to be an 'official' blogger for STWM as well. In doing so she has set the goal of breaking 4:00 hrs for the marathon. Here, I wish Rebecca all the best on her journey to achieve her personal goal and inspire many people along the way. I am not here to bitch or complain about the merits of running a sub 4hr marathon and in fact, I can only imagine how many individuals out there are seeking a similar goal (especially when compared to those who are looking to achieve mine: a sub 2:30 marathon) and so can easily relate to Ms Gardiner's journey. What I will say is this. If you really want to run a sub 4 hour marathon, all you need to do is follow these 3 simple steps: 1. Train for it! Run at least 5 days a week and 75-100km for 12 consecutive weeks before the race including a weekly long run of 28-32km. 2. Don't be fat! Aim to have a race day body mass index (BMI) of no more than 25. Running is NOT a license to eat. 3. Compete, don't complete! It's called a race. That's why there's a clock! The goal is to run 42.2k as fast as possible. Train. Taper. Carboload. Race. Done.

Finally, this week Canadian Running magazine hosted some online chats with some of Canada's London bound track athletes, including Geoff Harris (800m), Nate Brannen (1500m), Mohammed Ahmed (10,000m), Cam Levins (5000 and 10,000m), and finally Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis and Dylan Wykes (all Marathon). I highly recommend going back and reading them as they have plenty of useful training tips, Olympic insights, as well as friendly banter...and which comes from the best of the best.

What I found most interesting was when they spoke of their training mileage. Guys like Harris and Brannen who run 'short' track stuff are doing upwards of 90miles (150k) a week while middle distance guys like Ahmed do about 100-120 (160-190km). Perhaps not exactly 'normal,' 'crazy' Cam does 150 or more miles (240km) most weeks! And the marathoners aim for 120 -160 miles (190-240km) per week. Doing some basic math, we find that a guy like Harris is running just 0.5% of his weekly mileage during his goal race. For a 1500m runner, it's 1%, and for the middle distance guys it's between 3 and 6% (although for a guy like Levins, it's only 2-4%). Marathoners 'only' run about 18% of their weekly mileage in their goal race...but remember this only takes place once a cycle and after several months of training!!!

What I find so interesting about this is how it relates to recent debate about the merits and methods of 'ultrarunning.' Rarely do I ever hear about the training for such events which I would naturally assume involve similar although extremely exaggerated patterns of training and mileage. You'd think that in order to run a 50k, 100k or even a 100 mile race, one would need to log hundreds of weekly miles in order to be successful. The time and energy needed to do so is beyond my comprehension. And yet, my suspicion is that we'd be hard pressed to find any ultra runner that exceeds 100 miles or even kilometres of training each week (ultra-rare exceptions surely exist). My issue with ultrarunning, and it has been made many times before, is NOT that it exists and that people do it, but that such an activity is not really all that impressive (say when compared to a sub 4:00 mile or a 2:05 marathon) nor do a majority of its participants deserve the exaggerated praise and elevated recognition they demand for their accomplishments. In many ways (distance, terrain, elevation, timing), ultras are nothing more than extreme and excessive endurance contests (that may or may not involve running) and which often reward the most stubborn, those simply willing to persevere.

Again, I'm not saying don't do it. I'm just saying don't expect to be patted on the back and recognized and rewarded for your largely unspectacular and mostly mediocre endeavour. You want praise? You want recognition? Qualify for Boston! Run a sub-20 5k or a sub-40 10k. Run a sub-6 mile or sub-60s 400! The distance doesn't matter. It's the effort that you give in order to be successful. Having the integrity to do the absolute best that you can and give everything that you've got. Full stop.

Friday, 6 July 2012

#75: Here Comes The Sun

Despite breaking my thumb and having surgery a week ago and the fact that temperatures have been soaring well into the 30's, with humidex readings in the mid 40's, I've run almost every day, only missing one due to said surgery, including two races. This is the story of those races...

The first, the Pride and Remembrance Run (5k), came a mere 12 hrs after that very surgery that saw me getting fixed up with pins and wires to keep my broken bone in place. Feeling almost no pain the morning of the race, I convinced myself and a special although sceptical someone that I would attempt a slow warm-up towards the start of the race and that if I felt any pain whatsoever, I would stop and accept a DNS. We departed around 9am as the race was set to start at 10. It was already warm and only getting worse. Jogging slowly, I adopted the most natural running form I could considering the cast and was fortunate to feel absolutely no pain. I made it all the way to Queen's Park feeling great and was then joined by a number of my running mates including Rob, Doyle, Davey and Sharlene who were surprised (and perhaps disappointed) to see me there. We completed the warm-up giving me already 5k for the day and proceeded to hang around a bit and chat amongst ourselves to kill the time before the start.

Closing in on 10am, our large group of Longboaters huddled near the front of the pack and anxiously eyed one another trying to make our last minute mental preparations and focus on the task at hand. The gun went off and we darted forward like bats outta hell (whatever that means). I had told myself and others that I planned to go out 'slow' and hit 3:30 pace for the first km. This meant that plenty of people who were obviously running in over their heads were ahead of me as I tried to stay relaxed and get into a groove. Darren, who was pacing us for the first km, made some smart ass remark about feeling good running at this pace which I imagine pissed a bunch of people off who were already hurting badly in the heat. I had a mad case of cotton mouth so asked him for a swig of his Gatorade bottle which he was holding and had to kindly request that he open it for me since I only had one available arm. I took a swig which instantly relieved my dry mouth but also managed to shake the bottle spilling some massive drops on my sunglasses (the hilariously cheap hipster glasses that came with the race kit) which would remain there for the duration of the race.

A strong pack of LBRs take off near the start of the Pride 5k.
Like most races, I don't recall too many details. It was a 5k, so obviously it hurt and at no point should you feel 'comfortable.' I remember seeing the first k split in exactly 3:30 which was good and seeing the second in 3:25 which was also the plan. After that I didn't look at the watch until the end and even then forgot to hit the 'stop' button until it read 25:xx (my classic race oversight). Like I expected by going out slow, I did a lot of passing early on and can't recall ever being passed after ~1km. Our longboat guys settled into a bit of a natural order with Davey way up front (he did not go out slow), a surprising Dave Clark just ahead of me, and Doyle, Gerardo, Rob C, Metz and Roger not far behind. The temperature had been rising steadily and we were lucky to have some shade and a small breeze as we headed south on the west side of Queen's Park circle. Nevertheless it was definitely hot and would most certainly have been slowing everyone down. After doing the first lap, we run into the slow runners, sloggers and walkers and it then becomes a bit of a game of Tetris weaving and darting in and out of the masses. The best thing to do is actually run to the outside (right) of the road although this goes against the rule of running tangents. Although others (particularly those immediately behind me) report numerous instances of it; only once did I here a fellow participant make reference to my cast by saying: "Holy shit! Was that guy wearing a cast?!"

By 3k I was hurting really bad and my breathing was beyond what I've ever considered normal, even during a race. I assume that the added weight of my cast and my highly altered running form (one arm essentially static and the other overcompensating big time) contributed to my struggle to maintain pace and find a rhythm of breathing. Besides wishing for it to be over, I finally managed to pass Dave Clarke with less than a k to go during the final stretch along Wellesley and was worried that my 'kick' with about 600m to go was far too early. Luckily it wasn't and I managed to hold it together although it wasn't quite enough to beat Davey who would finish a single place and about 7seconds ahead of me (and wouldn't shut up about it for days!). I crossed the line in a fairly impressive 16:56 (3:23/k), good for 7th place overall and just 7 seconds off my own personal best set at Pride the year before (where I also finished 7th). I immediately bent over on hands and knees trying to breathe for a few minutes and so sadly missed my string of companions who finished just after me including Dave C, Doyle, Gerardo, Rob C, Metzger, Moss, Kevin G, Francois, Stefan, John M, Richard W, George, Rob H and Melinda (all under 20min) as well as a myriad of others donning the LB feather. For the third year running we easily snatched the team category with an average time (top 5 runners) of 17:02.6!
Myself, sporting some hipster shades, at the finish of Pride 5k
After cooling down and recovering at the finish, we eventually made our way to the 'party' area in a nearby park where we were treated to delicious cakes, Tropicana orange juice, pizza things, risotto, yoghurt and the standard bruised and overly ripe race bananas. The awards ceremony saw a number of LBers pick up prizes including myself and Melinda who were top of the (highly unusual) 25-34 age category (the second place guy overall perhaps should have won as he was in the same category and definitely beat me). The prize was a free pair of Sketchers running shoes which I probably would never wear so I gave my prize to Davey who had beat me on the day despite being more than 20 years older than me!!! I was a bit embarrassed to go up and collect my prize as it then became clear that a guy with a massive cast on his arm and stupid sunglasses on his face was still able to beat the majority of the field (no brag, just fact). While some would argue that it gave me some form of advantage (momentum perhaps?), I hold that it most certainly did no such thing and I would have been even faster and definitely set a PB without it. Anyway, it was a great race albeit not in ideal conditions and was fun to partake in the camaraderie of the large LBR group. A number of us celebrated the day by lounging on the rooftop patio of the CBC (Casa Byrne Campbell NOT Canadian Broadcast Corporation!) drinking beers and getting sunburns. A near perfect day.
Melinda and I accept our awards for top place in 25-34 age category and pose for a photo with the BMO bear.
The very next one, despite staying up rather late and drinking way too many brews, I joined the group at 8am and ran what for me turned out to be a 28+k long run with 6 strategic yet thankfully short pick-ups. What started off as cool soon turned uncomfortable especially since my stomach was less than cooperating at times.

Monday was a relaxed and surprisingly good feeling 14k along the Lakeshore while Tuesday was a hot and humid sweatstorm in which I needlessly wore a jacket wrapped around my arm since there was the ominous threat of rain. I ran home from work at a much too early 4pm and covered 17.5k including 8 strides in the last 2k. If I thought that was bad, Wed turned out to be the hottest day of the year and when the group got together to run at 6pm from the Settlement House it was well over 40 degrees with the humidity. The 12k easy run was okay on the way out due to a slight breeze but was brutal on the way back and the 4 strides in the park near the end sent my temperature sky-rocketing and my perceived level of exertion well beyond my comfort zone. I was only too happy to stop when my Garmin hit 12k flat and I then spent the next 15min sweating profusely while trying to bring my core temperature back to a reasonable level. It was likely the hottest run I have ever done and not one I intend to replicate in the future.

The start of the 2012 YMCA Relay for Strong Kids on the Honda Indy track.
The other 'race' I did was Thursday, the YMCA Relay, which this year was set to be run on the Honda Indy track at Exhibition Place. 2 or 4 person teams would run two or one laps respectively of the ~2.8k course. I ran ~3k to the race start where I was met by a large group of fellow LBRs. Once our 4 man team (The Longboat 'Black Lungs') consisting of myself, Doyle, Darren and Coach Campbell had assembled, determined our running order and fashioned our race bibs, we went for a ~2k WU along part of the course. Our 'strategy' was to put Rob up first and then follow with Doyle, myself and finally Darren. This was loosely based on recent 5k performances in order of speed (sorta). In retrospect, we probably should have done the exact opposite of what we did.

The race begin shortly after 7pm with Rob setting the pace. I ran across the parking lot to see Rob then in fifth place and then returned to the relay exchange zone to wish Doyle luck. When Rob finished in ~9:30, we were comfortably in third place overall but had some work to do to catch the leaders. Doyle flew out of the gates and again I darted out and across the way to see how he was doing. There was a clear gap between first and second and an even larger one between second and us (perhaps as much as 30s). I nervously returned to the start and prepared for what I had myself convinced would be no more than 9.5min of agony.
Rob 'hands off'  to Doyle after completing Leg 1. 
Doyle finished strong in ~9:20 and tagged me in the zone as I 'sprinted' off along the first straight-away. At this point there were slower runners and walkers everywhere and I was darting between and flying by other participants left and right. Unfortunately the guy I wanted to catch, he who was somewhere ahead in second place, was no where to be seen. Thus, I wasn't exactly racing at this point as much as doing a very hard time trial. As I often do, I refused to look at my watch and simply ran by feel. I knew I was going fast but really had no idea how fast or whether I was losing or gaining time on the other teams. I felt I ran very consistently and didn't slow down too much (if at all) and in fact probably ran my fastest in the final 500m when I could see the Honda Bridge and anticipate the finish. At near full speed I flew past the start/finish line and towards the relay zone where I could see our anchor Darren ready to go. I made the tag, sending Darren on his way, and then miraculously managed to stop my watch immediately afterwards. I was both surprised and highly satisfied to see the 'result:' 2.80k in 8:51 with an average pace of 3:09/k (splits of 3:05, 3:14 and 3:08). This would be important because our individual efforts would not be recorded on the day, rather only the final finishing time of the team. Regardless of how our team would do on this day, I was personally thrilled with my own result which gave me confidence that despite now being a committed 'marathon runner' (not 'marathoner') and training primarily for endurance, I still possessed a bit of speed. 

I then managed to go for a slow recovery jog to catch my breath before making my way to the finish. There many of the other LB teams and their runners who had already run were waiting and we chatted as the final runners suffered somewhere off in the distance. The first team to arrive was the "Runway" in an impressive 35:47 (average of 8:57/lap). More impressive was that one of their guys actually ran twice! Next up was a team called "Barefoot Wine and Bubbly" apparently composed of Toronto Olympic Club (TOC) guys who finished just ahead of us in 36:58 (9:15/lap) while we finished third in 37:05 (9:16.25/lap). I'm absolutely convinced that a better strategy in which we had 'start strong and try to hold on' would have secured us second but unfortunately for everyone but Rob, this really wasn't a race and it's so hard to come from behind when you don't know how far back you are. The next LB team of Davey, Dave Clark, David Hiddleston and Steve Metzger were fourth in 37:50 (and picked up the top place for Men 40-49) and in sixth were Kevin Gough, Kevin Curnock, Roger and Gerardo in 39:16. Congrats to all LB teams and especially to those who had to run two (or perhaps more) laps of the track. One was bad enough!

Roger heads off for his 2.8k tour on the Indy track at the YMCA Relay.
After the race we hung around drinking beers, which went quickly to my head, and were having a good time. After the organizers (or Sportstats) managed to mess up the results (specifically the age categories...again), we walked to Liberty Village for some further celebration and cheer at the Brazen Head.

Thus concludes the story of my running and racing week. I am not exactly looking forward to the track workout planned for later today (currently the temperature in Toronto is 35 and 'feels like' 38) or to having to work both days this weekend while still finding time to run 15 and 21k. Our next race is the Lindsay Milk Run, a 10k scorcher on Sun 22 July but features all the ice cream and chocolate milk you can eat after the race. It also has a team category and so in addition to going to defend our team title from 2011 (myself, Doyle, Gerardo and Roger destroyed the competition), we've assembled 3 5-person teams to engage in some inter and intra-club competition. More good times to come...

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

#74: Carry That Weight

My dedication to blogging has been admittedly poor recently due to some very good reasons so here is a summary of said reasons...

Last Monday (25 June) I was travelling by bike along Dundas when I had a most unfortunate 'track-cident' with my bike tire getting caught in the streetcar tracks sending me flying. I managed to land on my ride side but somehow braced my fall with my left thumb, breaking it, specifically my 1st metacarpal, close to the base of the bone near the joint (see image above). Unaware of this at the time, I continued home on my beaten up bicycle using my beaten up body and after enduring an afternoon of increasing pain and discomfort, I was advised to seek medical attention. I got back on my bike and made the very slow and incredibly painful trip to a hospital where I proceeded to wait 4 hrs for an xray (oh how I love our universal healthcare system... no seriously I do... it's free!) which soon confirmed the broken appendage. After some more waiting, I was given a temporary splint and sent on my way... just in time to do a track workout with some of the guys! 16k including 5 longish intervals at 8k pace with some added weight on my arm.

The next day I decided to go home to Ingersoll since I hadn't been in awhile and was also quickly realizing that I couldn't really do much with only one hand (even for the non dominant hand, it's incredibly useful to have both thumbs!). I was also beginning to have a hate on for Toronto, specifically my new-found dependence on the TTC for transportation (oh, the irony). So I went home and spent some time relaxing with family and friends, continued to run every day, ate a tonne of pancakes with my Oma and Opa, and discussed and debated the meaning of life with Tom Butler over a couple pints (Hint: It's something about "being content with the pockets of subjective truths that we personally ascribe too") .

I came back to the city on Thursday since I had a follow-up appointment at a 'hand clinic' at Western General on Friday morning. I arrived at the hospital at 9:30 just in time for my appointment. Little did I know it would be more than 15hrs until I would be able to go home...

The specialists (plastic surgeons and residents of 'plastics') were not happy with the alignment of the bone in the splint so twice (that's TWO times), they cut off the cast, froze my hand with a massive needle and manually pulled, tugged and manipulated my thumb in a (vain) attempt to better align the broken ends of bone (this also meant two rounds of xrays). After the second time and still no sufficient progress, the chief resident suggested surgery in which to pin and wire the bones in place. I hesitantly agreed to comply and so began the long wait for my stint in the operating room (OR).

The first step was to be formally admitted to the hospital so I could be officially put on the ' white board' (which I would later discover to be electronic) to have my surgery. This happened around 13:00. I then went to the 9th floor and got a room with a lovely view towards the west which coincidentally looked out along Dundas towards the very spot I took my spill and broke my thumb, just north of Trinity Bellwoods park. Oh the memories...

I then proceeded to wait and wait and wait. Around 17:00, a resident who I saw earlier in the hand clinic came by to get my signature to consent to surgery and explain the procedure. Turns out as far as surgeries go, this would be pretty minor and relatively simple. It didn't even involve a knife or plastic! She also said we could be good to go in as little as an hour since all the surgeries in front of me had been moving along quickly.

An hour came and went and so did the next one. Around 19:30, I was collected by some nurses from surgery who brought me to the OR 'prep' room. I again was asked to sign some documents and explained more about the surgery. I waited some more.

I was finally taken into the OR at ~20:20. I made some jokes with the surgery team about not wanting to wake up without a right hand and within 10min, they must have tired of me and put me under. I was asleep for almost 90min since the next thing I remember is waking up in a 'post' room and seeing 22:xx on the clock. I also recall feeling very tired and not being very happy, partly because I was now sporting a massive plaster cast on my arm almost to my elbow (I had asked repeatedly for the lightest, smallest one possible but clearly to no avail). I then got an injection for the pain I was supposed to be feeling and felt better almost instantly. Not ALL drugs are bad you know.

Since I will never know what happened in those 90min while I was asleep, I am going to guess that they cut off my cast (but not with a knife), applied a local anaesthetic to my arm, waited until I felt no pain, stabbed some pins through both ends of the bone using even more xrays (probably now enough  to keep my boys from swimming for awhile), wired them (the bones!) together to secure the alignment, cleaned up the disappointing lack of blood, put on but another cast and were then satisfied with a job well done and celebrated by eating some delicious cake.

Shortly thereafter I was taken back to my room on the 9th floor and it was now completely dark outside. I was soon met by my lovely lady friend Melinda, who against my instructions had been waiting at the hospital essentially since I went in for surgery more than 2 hours ago. What a wonderful, kind and caring individual (what is she doing with me?!). I might not have showed it, but I was very happy to have her there. I seemed to be recovering quite quickly and was feeling much better and became adamant that I wanted to go home immediately. The nurse said I couldn't leave until I had taken a piss... something about ensuring that everything was working... so Melinda got some water and Gatorade and I cautiously proceeded to fill my body with fluids (oh, did I mention that I hadn't been allowed to eat or drink anything since breakfast at 7:30 that morning!). It reminded me of the stories I'd read about elite athletes having to give a urine sample (like 90ml too!) for a drug test immediately after a race and being made to wait until they got it. Luckily, no one had to watch me do it since we were all comfortable with the honour system.

Anyway, it wasn't until after midnight that I finally was able to make the magic happen and we then packed my things and got ready to leave. We arrived home around 1230am and I was surprisingly awake and alert. I was also amazed at how little pain I felt. Feeling peckish, I ate leftover pasta and became much happier.

I had a very restless night in which I managed to piss like every hour (no doubt trying to eliminate the waste products of anaesthesia) and was also preoccupied with a racing mind. I hypothesize that being put under for the time I was (90+min) secured me my daily quota of high quality sleep and so I didn't need any more.

Ok, ok. This story is getting long and boring and is lacking any blood or gruesome details so I'll try to wrap it up...

The next day (Saturday 30 June) I felt great so ran a 5k race in 16:56 and placed 7th overall (1st guy in a cast!). I then hung out with my closest friends and drank many a beer.

Pride 5k. From left: Doyle, Darren, myself, Kevin Gough, Rob C, Dave Clark and Roger's right elbow.
The next day (Sunday 01 July) Spain won the Euro Cup (surprise, surprise) and I celebrated how awesome it is to be Canadian by going for a long run (28k) with my crew, eating a Dairy Queen Blizzard, sleeping, more sleeping and some eating. Happy Canada Day everyone. Our country rocks. Free surgery for everyone (even you Quebec)!