Sunday, January 30, 2011

I quite like my slow-ass, thank you very much.

According to the first findings from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), a comprehensive national survey to determine fitness levels, between 1981 and 2009 fitness levels of Canadian children, youth and adults declined significantly.  In adults, the reported decrease in fitness levels over this period were particularly pronounced for those aged 20 to 39 and even more alarming, for 2007-2009 just under 38% of adults were estimated to be at a “healthy” weight. Approximately 1% were considered underweight, 37% were overweight and 24% were considered obese.

Only 32% of Canadian men and women aged 15 to 69 were considered to have "good" health benefit levels based on their aerobic fitness ratings. Sadly, more adults received a fair or needs improvement rating (40% of men and 47% of women) compared to those who received either an excellent or very good rating (27% of men and 22% of women).

We can of course argue semantics about the methodologies used for testing and the basis for categorizing people according to their fitness or health (BMI, etc).   Regardless of deviations in statistical measurement, the trend is clear and it is disturbing. 

Proposed Canadian guidelines recommend that to obtain substantial health benefits, adults are to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a week.  According to the data from the CHMS, it is estimated that only 15% of Canadian adults currently attain this level of activity.

150 minutes a week.  That’s not even 3 HOURS of exercise, and we are not talking about intense workouts here....just moderate forms of exercise.  Walking, gardening, yoga, anything.  Just moving at least 30 minutes for 5 days a week.  How glorious, that is TWO WHOLE rest days a week! J

You are probably wondering where I am going with this.

In this day, where our country is apparently turning sedentary, it is my view that we should be lauding everyone who is out there putting in the time to stay healthy and fit.  I am not talking about training to break any records or for the Olympics, but for any reason – health, stress reduction, a life “bucket” list goal – just getting out there a few times a week. 

So I was really saddened / frustrated / angry this week when I came across a message board of apparently “elite” runners who were tearing down a girl who just recently finished the HURT 100 trail race, an insane, humid, difficult 100 mile race on Oahu.

The stated goal of the website is to cover the “elite level part of the sport properly”.  They self-proclaim that they have grown into the #1 internet site for the so-called *serious* runner and that their message board is “THE place that runners from all over the world go for the latest news, results and gossip in the running world”.

Seriously?  So does this also necessitate elitist, conceited rants about amateur athletes? 

The general gist of the message board in question, save for the kind souls who chimed in with more reasonable views, was essentially that the average person has no business running (or jogging for that matter).  We are referred to as the “also-rans”.  One poster said “I have thought for a long time now that the hobby joggers and ultra joggers have taken over Letsrun. Because of this, more elite/sub-elite runners will get less of a contract so jogger nobody can brag about their 5 hour 50K. It's the stupid "give everyone a medal" mentality that has over-taken our slow-ass country.


First of all, I must preface the discussion by providing some background on the poor girl who these elitist snots decided to dig into.  She is not exactly *slow-ass* (their word, not mine) and I have an incredible amount of respect for her.  Not only did she complete the HURT 100 in a very respectable time, in reportedly terribly humid conditions where most of the field DNF’d (32 finishers out of 111 starts), but she clocked just over 11 hours in Kona this year and followed that up with a 10:46 at Ironman Florida only four weeks later.  Slow ass, my ass.  This girl is a talented age-group triathlete who is upbeat, bubbly and willing to share her story.  She is a role model and an inspiration, and quite frankly, something our sedentary society needs a little more of. 

The fact that these narcissistic, conceited, self-absorbed, so-called “elites” decided that it was necessary to call her down is pretty pathetic.  Elite?  I think not.  Just elitist.

We are all obviously entitled to our opinions, and the internet is a playground for every view on life whether you choose to agree with it or not.  However, what is firstly bothersome to me is that these so-called elites are not limiting their clawing and narcissistic criticism to their competitors, but that they have chosen instead to lash out at someone who is not even their rival. 

It also disturbs me that this attitude is displayed by people who are presumably winning races and perhaps are *best in class* at their short distances.  It seems to me that they should endeavour to be ambassadors to the sport rather than disparaging it.

And, to bring me back full circle to alarming state of our sedentary nation, why are those who should be ambassadors in sport choosing to detract from anyone who is getting out there?  Obviously there are people who should not run or participate in vigorous sports, such as those with health difficulties, but in my view anyone who dares call themselves an elite should carry an attitude that is similarly winning and tolerant of everyone.

Most of us do not have the natural talent or ability to win at the local level, never mind on a national or world scale.  Moreover, most of us are not deluded enough to think that we could ever compete on that level.  Instead, we define our victories by our own personal terms.  That’s why we shoot for PRs, not WRs.  Knocking off a 16-minute 10k is out of reach for the majority of us and yet, in my view, this does not make the physical training and cognitive effort required at any level of sport any lesser than the elites.  While I realize that my amateur goals must be simply mundane to an elite runner or triathlete, we should not need a reason or defense as to why we are out there. 

It is bad enough that the statistics show that physical activity is on the decline, but completely pathetic that people who are supposedly elite (though self-proclaimed) in their particular sport are choosing to discourage participation.  I realize that this is probably not the view of the majority (case in point: I celebrate people like Chrissie Wellington and Scott Jurek, who make a point of congratulating every participant regardless of finish time).  However, the mere fact that this narcissistic view is paraded out there by persons daring to label themselves elite in sport really chafes me.  And unfortunately, no amount of Body-Glide is going to relieve it!

So, Miss Frayed Laces, good on you for showing the class and tenacity to laugh these elitist asses away.  And good on you for being an inspiration to our sport.  We can use a little more of your brand of inspiration...cuz for the sake of our society we all need to get off our slow-asses, be proud of them and get them out there! :)
More info on the CHMS:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 race log

PF Chang's Rock n'Roll Arizona Half-marathon - January 17, 2010: PB 1:35:08
  • Mercer Island Half-Marathon - March 22, 2010: PB 1:35:01
  • Boston Marathon - April 19, 2010: PB 3:24:17
  • Vancouver Sun Run - May 9, 2010: PB 43:04
  • UBC Olympic triathlon - May 16, 2010: 2:28:35
  • Persona Oliver Half-Iron - June 6, 2010: 5:12:42
  • The Ride to Conquer Cancer - June 19/20, 2010
  • Subaru Vancouver Half-Iron - July 4 2010: 5:02:48
  • Ironman Canada - August 30, 2010: 11:09:21
  • Whistler Gran Fondo - September 11, 2010
  • Ironman Kona - October 9, 2010: 11:31
  • ING NYC Marathon - November 7, 2010: 3:36:36
  • North Face Endurance Challenge marathon relay - December 4, 2010

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Move that Fat Ass!!

Ah, New Years Day. We usher in the new, make resolutions and typically suffer from an evening of revelry and celebration the night before. Tylenol, tums and sleep are usually prescribed. And 2011 was no exception to this rule, but for a different reason!

I rang in 2011 not with champagne, but with a 50k resolution run. If you consider anything more than a marathon to be an "ultramarathon", then it was my first "ultra". Let's call it "ultra light"!

I was untrained, unprepared and would be happy to finish my first 50k. Signing up was a bit of a lark actually, and it was really more about doing a long, slow, easy run with good company. And the Fat Ass 50k 2011 did not disappoint.

We were served up a crisp, glorious winter day - it was calm, sunny and spectacular! A tad bit chilly, but hey, you can't have it all, can you!? (No whining. See below.) Today was the kind of day that reminds me why I live in Vancouver and endure the sometimes seemingly endless winter rain. The North Shore mountains were crowned with gleaming snow and English Bay was like glass....perfect, perfect conditions!

At an average pace of 5:30/km, slow and steady was the name of the game. The company was great and everyone kept their pace in check....well, mostly :) Four hours and forty-seven minutes after we departed Brockton Oval, lots of potty stops and walking, 50k and eight gels later, we returned to the kiss the fire hydrant. Don't ask...apparently it is one of the rules!

Speaking of rules, the rules of Club Fat Ass are fairly simple aside from the not-so-obvious hydrant kissing. You pack yourself up, aim to be self-sufficient for the distance, respect mother nature and find enjoyment in running. If you don't enjoy it, you suck it up. It's not about winning, it's about the journey. And it was a great journey! The Fat Ass 50 course is an out and back from Stanley Park to Pacific Spirit Park, kind of a greatest hits collection of the spectacular seaside runs that Vancouver has to offer. Most of the course is on trails or soft gravel. The run is totally informal and very grassroots - the attitude amongst the other 100 or so runners was incredibly positive, inclusive and sometimes just silly.

Thanks to my running partner, Shane, and to the impromptu support crew that kept us energized and amused enough to actually run 50k and still be smiling at the end. We did it! New Year's Day, 50K! Now where are those tylenol and tums....

Happy New Year!