Sunday, November 15, 2009

There's nothing uglier than a man hitting his stride

As people have been sending me their best over the last week or so, there's been a recurring question from many well-wishers: "So have you started training?” Their friend's cousin or their brother's roommate's uncle, or whoever they also know that's carrying the torch somewhere across this great country has apparently been training since they found out their good news. My turn with the torch lasts all of 300 metres from what I understand, so I figured I could wing it. I got a call today at work from a girl whose father-in-law, in his sixties, is running with the torch just outside of Timmins. He runs at least 5k every day. So after these comments come up a dozen or so times, and after watching the first week and a half of the torch relay coverage on tv, I'm kind of thinking "Holy shit, should I be?"

I'm by no means a runner. Far from it. I'm not the kind of guy who enjoys running. Never have. Some people love that shit - the runner's high and all. I never got it. Running is for kids with boundless energy until you figure it out at about 6 or 7 years old that it was overrated. I played soccer for most of my life. Played at a pretty competitive level as a midfielder, so I saw my share of running. Maybe it was the practices that killed me. Laps. More laps. Hills, stairs, suicides. Hell. That picture above is me with some of the guys from the 2000 Ethiopian Olympic team. There's a reason I stick out and it's not just the pigmentation. I'm not built for running. Short and bow-legged. All ass n' elbows. Better for hockey or bull-riding I suppose. Graceful runner - not so much.

I tried getting into running quite a number of times over the years. I still make an effort to hit the treadmill during the week, but it's only because it's getting too lousy out to rollerblade. It's not the endurance aspect of it. I don't mind a good lung burning. I play hockey twice a week and try to hit the gym as well. It's the toll on my knees (and hips and back and....) yup - I'm like an arthritic 80 year old. As I drive my environment-saving SUV through the city, I see all of these people running in the morning and at night. So smooth and fluid. Untiring. I've always had an admiration for these people. Always thought they were nuts, but still admired them. Guys like my buddy Norm, who ran x-country in high school, competed at the provincial level (was Lasalle SS's Midget Athlete of the Year as a result - you're welcome for the plug buddy) and could take years off from running if he wanted to, and then go outside one day and knock off 5 or 10 km like it was nothing. Baffling and awesome. I work closely with doctors and medical residents and there have been a couple things I’ve noticed over the years. They are a disproportionate group of vegetarians, and they run. I’m not about to give up steak, but there’s gotta be something to the running thing.

I can't even imagine how terrible my running form must look. I’m sure it’s ugly to begin with, but I’m still recouping from a torn hamstring at the end of the summer, so pretty it ain’t gonna be. So I'm starting to get a bit worried that I'll make that spiffy white torch relay uniform look really really bad as I stomp down those 300 metres. Add to the fact that I have to hold a torch out over my head as I take my jaunt, and I’m sure it’ll make for great cinema for the video takers I hope to have with me.

The other thing I'm getting concerned about is the actual pace I should do this run. As much as I want the moment to last as long as humanly possible, I can't walk it. Doesn’t fit the athletic nature or the ancient history of the torch run. I'd do my best Usain Bolt impersonation and sprint it, but I doubt I could keep up the sprint for 300m and look at all cool. I don’t need frozen snot pictures to commemorate the day. Plus, I'm running in January somewhere near Wawa, which means there's a great possibility that the good ol' Trans Canada Highway may be covered in snow. Maybe some old school snowshoes would do the trick and be authentically Canadian, but I'm sure they already beat me to it up in Inuvik a few days ago. I’m thinking a spirited jog is what this calls for. Not too slow, but not anywhere near a sprint. More Forrest Gump at the end of his run, than his torrid pace at the beginning. And really, it can’t get any uglier than Tom Hanks at that point in the movie, so I should be okay.


  1. Yes, please no frozen snot pictures.

    I'm loving the blog. Wish I could come to Wawa to see you. Sort of.

    love kath

  2. Running is for dummies Joe. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

  3. By the way, probably one of my favourite Hip lines of all time. Terrific stuff.

  4. Kath - the convoy has open seats still!

    Pat, definitely one of mine as well. Had a line from Fireworks in my head for an upcoming post about the defunct Nat'l Fitness Program and noticed you made mention of both a while back on your site. Great ears think alike!? By the way, great ears man ;)

  5. Thanks for the plug buddy.. I was thinking of you during my run today.. You'll do great. I saw start off sprinting and go into a nice job. But make sure not to pull a hammy.