24 February 2011

ABCs Of Me

22 February 2011

Haven't Posted In A While

Good things have happened, but it's the bad things that make them seem inconsequential.  There was a horrific hit-and-run by my house on Friday night and all I knew about it was that it rerouted traffic while I was trying to get to work on Saturday morning.    I watched the news Saturday night and found out two women were killed when they were side-swiped by an intoxicated driver (one was trying to assist the passenger in the car).  On Sunday I found out that the Good Samaritan was an acquaintance of mine.  She taught my boot camp class last spring and I was facebook friends with her.  We were not at all close, but it really made the accident more real to me.  She was my age (30), had a husband and 4 kids, and was just a beautiful person.  I've been questioning a lot of things right now and posting just hasn't been at the top of my list.

18 February 2011

Book Review - Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand is a biography of Louis Silvie Zamperini.  Although it was featured in the January 2011 issue of Runner's World it is not a book about running.  It is, however, a book about a phenomenal runner.  Unless you are an avid reader of running history it's likely you've never even heard of him.  

Louis Zamperini was born in 1917.  Hillenbrand's book starts with his childhood move to Torrence, California and his struggles to fit in.  It wasn't until he was almost held back in school that he discovered track and field.  He was able to turn his life around and became a star athlete in the 1930s.  Zamperini held the NCAA Mile record for 15 years.  He ran a mile in 4:08.3 (no runner had yet broken a 4-minute mile) and that was despite being spiked in the shins.  Zamperini also competed for the United States in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany.

At this point in the book most of the talk about running stops.  Mainly because Zamperini signed up to fight in World War II.  For much of the remainder of her book Hillenbrand delves into Zamperini's wartime life.  After signing up to fight Zamperini was trained as a bombardier in a B-24 Liberator.  He was stationed in Hawaii and flew missions over Nauru and Wake Atoll in the Pacific during the Allied conflict with Japan.

In 1943 the plane Zamperini was flying in crashed into the Pacific Ocean during a search and rescue mission for another downed plane.  The only survivors were Zamperini, pilot Russell Alan "Phil" Phillips, and tail gunner Francis "Mac" McNamara.  They spent 47 days at sea although Mac died before they reached land.  Despite surviving shark attacks, rough seas, dehydration, and starvation they did not find themselves in the best of circumstances.  They were apprehended by the Japanese.  The men were treated well for a few days, but then sent on to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands which had been nicknamed Execution Island by the US Forces.  Zamperini found himself a prisoner of war (POW) although he was never identified as such by the Japanese.  

After Kwajalein he was moved to Ofuna, a secret interrogation centre, where he was physically and emotionally abused and starvation was commonplace.  Between 1943 and 1945 Zamperini was also located at Omori and Naoetsu POW camps.   At these last two camps he was tormented by an officer he called The Bird (Mutsuhiro Watanabe).  It's hard to describe here what Zamperini went through.  Hillenbrand goes into fairly particular detail of the torture he experienced.  If you haven't read a lot of historical non-fiction it can be a hard part to get through.

In 1945 Zamperini was liberated at war's end.  However, coming back to the United States was not an easy transition.  He turned to alcohol to numb his pain and suffered flashbacks and nightmares in which The Bird haunted him.  Zamperini's life was changed when his wife took him to see Christian evangelist Billy Graham.  He remembered that when he was lost at sea that he had made promises that if he was spared he would devote his life to God.  Zamperini became a Christian speaker.  Post-conversion he worked with what would now be termed "at-risk" youth.  He still received accolades for his survival and ran the Olympic torch both in Los Angeles in 1984 and Nagano, Japan in 1998.  There he ran past the site of his last POW camp.  Although Zamperini was able to meet and forgive his ex-captors he was never able to do the same with The Bird.  There had been the possibility of contact, but they would not meet before Watanabe's death.  Zamperini is now 94 years old.

I really enjoyed this book - it's so much more than my very brief review.  I need to be upfront and say that I have a History degree so this is my kind of book.  It's a biography and historical non-fiction.  In fact in the cataloging of the book "long-distance runners" is the last one listed.  I found it pretty easy to read and, even though it has a lot of facts (I'm nerdy and read the acknowledgements and footnotes too), it isn't boring.  It's a little hard to get through at points, but that is because it was.  You can't really, nor should you, sugar-coat war.  

I guess my conclusions would be: read this book if you like history or biographies.  Don't read this book if you are expecting much about running.  For that you can find the excerpt at Runner's World.  

17 February 2011

CSN Stores Contest Winner

The magical and all-knowing wizard in the computer at random.org picked #22 - Danielle and Scott - as the winner of the $35 gift certificate to CSN Stores!  Congratulations!  Thanks to everyone who entered. 

16 February 2011

14 February 2011

Monday Musings - Weekend Recap

  • Volunteering is fun!  I got to do bag check for a local half marathon.  When I got there at 6:30am there were already a couple of bags.  Apparently, one woman checked her bag and then asked where the start line was... the race started at 8:30.  Not sure why she wanted to stand in the cold and dark for two hours.  It was fairly steady from 7-7:30 and then all hell broke loose.  Eventually we were all just standing in a huge pile of unsorted bags.  It took us an hour to get them all placed in ordered rows.
  • I got to see some friends before they ran their race.  I didn't get to talk for too long, but it was nice to be able to say good luck.
  • The winner set a new course record of 1:04:39.  FOR A HALF!!!  They could have run the course twice and still come in faster than my PR.
  • I got a few little things as a thank-you for my time: free burger and fries (at White Spot if you're local), sample pack of coffee - that'll go to Colin, and a scarf with the race logo/sponsor.  At least they were small as I had to stuff them in my bag and run them home.  The scarf wedged in with my water bladder actually made it sit perfectly on my back so there was no movement!
  • My run was great!  It turned out to be 24km instead of 23 (+1 since I didn't want to walk the last km to my parents' house).  I was slightly intimidated by the uphill-the-whole-way aspect, but it wasn't as bad as it looked.  Thankfully I was really familiar with the route so I could just run on auto-pilot and not think about too much.  I only had to be present enough to shoulder check at every street crossing.  Amazingly I didn't come across any idiot drivers.
  • I love to listen to the radio when I run.  The ads are a little annoying, but I don't have to put any effort into selecting my music.  Our local rock station, CFOX, has a 90s brunch on Sundays from 8am - 12pm so I was pretty much set.  I'm a sucker for the music I listened to in high school... 
  • I completed my run in 2:52:33, which was an average of 7:11/km.  That's including a 1 minute walk break every 20 minutes as well as many waits at traffic lights.
  • One GU (since I didn't have time to buy more) plus dates is not enough for a 3 hour run.  I knew this going out, but a second GU would have been super!  On that note, Mandarin Orange is okay.  Not great, in my opinion, but it got the job done.  And it's infinitely better than Jet Blackberry.  I think I'll stick with chocolate and coffee flavours.
  • I got drenched about half way through my run.  Typical Vancouver.  The people with umbrellas or safe in their cars were looking at me like I was crazy.
  • I will never skip out on a week of core/strength/stretch again.  By 22km my hips were killing me (shades of the marathon).  I was so lazy last week, but couldn't bring myself to do my workouts.  Obviously that was stupid.  I will make a better effort from now on.
  • I usually hate V8, but my mum had some in the fridge and I was dying at the end of my run so I had one.  Tasted like cold tomato soup, but had something like almost 500mg of sodium and potassium so my body was happy after I drank it.
  • Work sucked on Sunday after my run, but I figured on that before I even got there.  I'm just happy that I wasn't scheduled til 1am like everyone else.

11 February 2011

Weekend Randoms

  • I have convinced 100 suckers people to become followers!  Love it!  Thanks for thinking that I'm interesting... sometimes I'm not so sure.
  • Working Saturday.  Not fun, but pays the bills and isn't hard.  Plus it keeps me in athletic goods since I work for a sporting goods store and get a fantastic employee discount.
  • I'm volunteering at a half marathon this weekend.  Should be fun.  I'm on bag check so I might get to see some of my friends before they race.  Unfortunately I have to be there for 6:30am and I live just over 1/2 hour away.  Hello, early!
  • Since I'm volunteering on Sunday and it's also a long run day I've come up with a "could-be-the-stupidest-thing-I've-ever-done" plan:  My long run is scheduled to be 23km.  It's just shy of 24km from downtown Vancouver to my parents house in the suburbs.  Guess who's decided that it'd be good to RUN THERE?  Oh, and I'm doing it by myself (yay, iPod) and it's almost entirely uphill.  I may not be able to walk on Monday.
  • After my lovely, wonderful, most-likely rainy long run I have to work again.  It's for inventory and I've been assigned something easy-peasy, but I have to work till 9:30pm.  Must pack compression socks.
  • I think I'm going to crash and burn once I get in the car Sunday night.  
  • Don't forget I have a $35 CSN Stores gift certificate to give away.  Enter here until 16 February.

10 February 2011

Three Things Thursday

1.  I have a cold and it sucks.  Spud thoughtfully passed it along last week and now I'm stuffed up, but have a drippy nose at the same time (?).  Hopefully getting out to run will get it out of my system.

2.  I abhor am learning to love hill repeats again.  Every training cycle I do them and then after every race I slack off.  I completed week 1/7 yesterday with 4 repeats.  I'm supposed to do 600m hills with a grade of 6-8%.  I figure that my 410m hill with an average grade of 10% (12% for 200m, turn corner, 8% for 210m) is good enough.  Thankfully my friend came by with her little girl and she was nice enough to watch the kids at a park while I ran.  This meant that I didn't have to push Spud up the hills with me.  I know I won't be this spoiled every week, but it made my run so much more enjoyable!

3.  I'm off to bake.  I don't do it often - it's more Colin's thing, but I can make a couple of things pretty well.  Today it's Apple Crisp and Banana Bread.  Good thing I run so often so I can eat what I make! 

Finished product: Is it bad that I want this to be my dinner when I get back from clinic?

09 February 2011

It's Kite Flying Day! How About A Giveaway?

Yup, it's that time again!  CSN Stores has offered to host another giveaway and the winner will get a $35 gift certificate to spend on any item at any of their 200 stores!*

Now, they always give me the choice of doing a review or a giveaway and I always choose to help one of you out.  That's because they just have too much good stuff to buy and I'd go way over the value of the review product!  I'm don't think that they would be willing to send me  ├╝ber-expensive office furniture for free... but if they are reading this and change their minds here's what I'd like:

Only $3,799!

To enter:

  • Tell me what you'd love to buy from CSN.
  • Be or become a follower.
  • Add me to your blogroll.
  • Tell others about this contest.
  • Tell me your favourite holiday.  Mine is St. Patrick's Day since it's also my birthday!
The winner will be chosen using random.org on 17 February, which is fitting since it's Random Acts of Kindness Day.

* does not cover any shipping costs.

07 February 2011

Hey, Look, It's Me (Again...)!

In another edition of Alanna's Shameless Self-Promotion I'm featured today on Long Legs on the Loose!  

If you live under a rock haven't been reading Katye's blog it's definitely one you should check out.  She is an amazing runner who ran her first marathon last year.  She travels to all sorts of awesome places to race which helps feed my armchair traveler tendencies.  And she is a fundraising phenom!  Katye has raised money and coached for Team In Training (Leukemia/Lymphoma).   She is currently raising funds for her trip to BOSTON (!) where she will be running as a charity runner for both the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress and Back On My Feet.  In the past year both Katye and her family raised $30,000 for charity!  You can't help but be inspired by that!  

02 February 2011

A Belated Thank-You!

Last week I received an awesome package in the mail.  It was my prize from Kevin at Half TRI-ing.  I had found out and told him the name of a toy he had when he was a child.  As a parent I cannot believe anyone would even have let it in their house - click here to see what I mean.  To reward me for my investigative skills effort he sent me a hodge-podge of fun stuff.

Now, I'm pretty sure that it was just free food from races, but it doesn't matter.  I got a GU two days before I needed one so I didn't have to fork over the $2 myself!  I'm also sure that they didn't look quite so "used" when they were sent (right?).  I guess the Posties don't give too much care to what's in a bubble envelope... it made everything look kind of like it had been kept in someone's back pocket.

Snickers Marathon Bar, Strawberry Clif Shot Bloks, Forze Energy Bar,
Vanilla Bean GU, HS Extreme Energy Drink, Chamois Butt'r*
Kevin drew me a cool thank you as well:

* The Chamois Butt'r is NOT food!  More like BodyGlide for your bum...  I don't ride a bike, but I'm sure it'll work just as well for chafing from my socks...

01 February 2011

January By The Numbers

This is actually the first time I've ever written out my monthly stats on my blog.  It is more for me to see how I'm doing and where I can improve than it is for you to read about it.  I figure it probably isn't that interesting to read.  Mind you, I'm always nosy and love reading other bloggers stats so maybe you're the same?

Total Kilometres/Miles: 161.22/100.18

Long Runs: 5 (every Sunday; lengths ranging from 10km to 16km)

Runs Missed: 5 (3 of those I consider optional runs anyways)

Core/Strength/Stretch Planned/Completed: 18/14 (78% - not bad!)

Push Ups: 172 on stability ball + 53 real = 225 (considering I hate them I'm quite impressed with myself!)

Time Spent Running: 19-1/2 hours.

Not much else to add.  Marathon training is in fully swing so I'm really trying to get my runs/workouts in, but not worrying too much if I can't/don't want to complete them.  I'm not killing myself trying to make up runs or anything like that.  I know I probably need to make a little more effort getting in my 5th run of the week, but I'm okay as long as I don't drop below 4.    February should be fun!

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