I don’t have an accurate count of how many races I have run over my 50 years of running. Despite having a stack of race bibs from pretty much every race I have received one, there are many races I ran through my pre high school and high school years that I do not. I have a few of my cross country bibs including a couple made of fabric. Like I said 50 years of running. Boston 2020 was to be my 40 marathon but after that number I have no real idea of the total but it must be around 400. I do document on the back of almost every bib interesting things about my race. Friends and family who were there, race conditions, time and place, relevant training and some sort of emotional outburst like “ Nice race” or “almost died and bit through my tongue” which is actually on the back on one bib. Because of much luck and good fortune I have had the privilege, interesting word, of completing every single race. Not one DNF, not once not ever. Even through  injury and what felt sometimes what I imagine dying must be like, if I have toed the start line I have crossed the finish line. I like that though again much of that is luck and good fortune.

On occasion a race, even a marathon will feel pretty great. No death march, no hands on hips and very nice words for the back of my bib. More often there will be a part of the race where I am full of mixed messages. “Run faster and catch that runner “ combined with “Owww this really hurts and it is time to stop”.  Or perhaps “One mile to go you can do it “ tag teaming with “ I may die, I will die, I am dead”  . Isn’t running fun?

So how do I get myself through these tough times whether they happen mid race in a 50 k or the last 1/2 k of  a 5 k, hate that part. Moreover how do I get get through some tough training days when the last 5 or 6 or more k feel awful? There is no catch that guy/gal motivation, no cheers awaiting me at the finish line, nothing rides on the push through the pain. Why not quit/slowdown or pull something out of the excuse bag?

Part of it is just sheer repetition. The old one foot in front of the other. Part of it is the realization that forward is the only way to go. Some of it is pride and that’s not so great if I am looking to impress others but I think it is mostly I want to feel good about knowing I did what I could. I truly like the idea that when I believe in something I will go as far as I can to support those beliefs. Some would call that stubborn and many of my family would call me stubborn. I like that, a stubborn runner. Perhaps a T-shirt, “ I am stubborn and I invite scorn”, that’s me. Perhaps that’s why I almost always run alone.

Tonight when I am out on the trails or heading up/down the lower Don I will remember that stubbornness to get me through the discomfort and reinforce the glee as I make my way through another run. I often think of a couple races in particular, a trail half I did in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2011 and North Face San Francisco 50 k in 2019. The Penn one was an out and back and I pushed it hard on the out and as we turned for home I saw a large pack close behind me and felt the thrill of being chased all the way home. That’s happened in other races but this one time it felt different. Someone came up to me after the race and said “ when I saw you at the turnaround and those that were chasing you I was sure you would be caught, but you weren’t, nice job”. North Face was as tough a race as I have run but the feeling of the last 10 k coming out of the Marin Headland as I rallied from a walk to a 42 min last 10 k and caught runner after runner and to cross the Golden Gate Bridge to the finish at Cressy Field stands out as a personal triumph which told me once again, be stubborn and finish. That meant a lot to me that day and will again on days like today when there isn’t much at the finish but my wife cheering me on as I come through the door.

It just doesn’t feel like the time is right so no fall groups

Hi Everyone

I have been debating long and hard whether it is appropriate to start offering trail groups this fall. I have been running the trails almost everyday since the spring and despite the heat it is just wonderful. I have seen so many different animals and talked to many runners and bikers. It has always been such a peaceful place to escape to. Up until a couple days ago I was thinking of doing smaller groups of 6 for 6 weeks starting the beginning of September. It seemed like that was workable and respectful in the current situation. I was looking so forward to seeing so many people I miss and haven’t seen since last fall. There are so many people working so hard to try to control the pandemic and most folks are doing all the right things by wearing masks and following the guidelines. I went for a walk the other night up at the sports fields at Sunnybrook Park and saw multiple soccer games with 15 to 20 adults in each. I thought that that’s is a great way to spend a summer’s  evening but I didn’t think we were there yet. The lessons being learned in states like Florida and Georgia are vivid and scary. I wish we were at the point where such things can safely happen but for me even 6 people, 7 including me, spread apart in the woods with all the best intentions and effort still poses a risk that I don’t feel comfortable taking. I miss the groups and my friends that come to them, I miss racing both trails and roads, I miss it all. I hope spring brings a new season of groups and racing and a full range of activities to all that love them but it doesn’t feel right, not yet.



Caught in a hail storm

Hi Everyone

Today’s run was going along nicely. Zipping past the beautiful blooming carpet of Squill coming out of Pottery Road. Stopped briefly to talk to a runner/neighbour on the uphill paralleling Bayview. Wearing a pair of old road shoes because the trails have been so muddy the past month that my trail shoes hurt my feet due to lack of use. Grabbed that yellow/orange Loblaws cart that was beside the trail heading towards the Millwood bridge. It had been driving me crazy and seeing as I had just grabbed the red one past the bridge yesterday it seemed fitting. Pushed it to the sign board by the bridge and will get it back to the store by the end of the week. Headed out along the Ridge and surveyed the cleanup from yesterday (see pictures). Flying past Thorncliffe and planning the next clean up, feeling good about that. A big huge shout out to whomever or whomevers put in the new bridges along Rim Job and Part Atmosphere. That is a lot of hard work and much appreciated. The incredible rain we have had this spring have resulted in some huge trail washouts. Thanks so much to the folks who did that. Came off that trail and I was heading on to the trail I call Rock Paper Snake which is really called Climbmax and the drops of rain started. I could hear the drops hitting the trees and wondered if I could escape and get home without too much damage. Sadly no, the rain was hail and I got pummeled. Strangely I ran stronger and with more determination as I headed the last 8 K or so for home. Enjoyed the run immensely and made it up the Pottery hill in fine form. Finally home, front and hair drenched but butt and back of T-shirt dry. Perfect, faster then the rain.