Thursday, May 5, 2011

Everything running - Part One (Saturday: Meeting Running friends)

This weekend was a running weekend. From the minute I got up on Saturday to the time I collapsed in bed on Sunday, the whole weekend was about running. It was busy, it was fun, it was enlightening and frankly exhausting. How do dedicated runners do this?

I was registering to run in the BMO Vancouver Marathon; however I was doing the half. I was also trying to organise a "International Barefoot Running Day" event, as well as meeting up with random running friends; new, old and in-determinate.

I was adopting my usual technique of registering the day before the race, because, well... it's me, registering before then would require organisation. This meant a trip into downtown to the Expo. Normally I would hate this, but this would also provide me the opportunity to do something that is quite rare; I would actually meet-up with a friend who I have known for a while, but have never met.

As I mentioned before in previous posts, the barefoot and minimalist running movement was a little ad-hoc a couple of years ago. The only place we really got to hang out
with similar hairy toed friends was on the "Runner's World On-line Forums" (RWOL BFR). The first 6-8 months of this forum led to firm friendships being made, books to be written and ultimately the "Barefoot Runner's Society". It is safe to say that probably a good 25% of my "friends" list on Facebook are people I "virtually" conversed with (usually in a drunken and occasionally under-dressed state) on the "RWOL BFR" forum. We would spend hours talking about pretty much everything and on very rare occasions, we would actually talk about running. This was however, the first time I would ever meet one of these "virtual" friends in real-life.

So after about 2 hours trying to track each other down, I finally managed to meet-up with Robert Shackelford (Shacky) in a brewery -where else? He had traveled down to Vancouver to run the full marathon and do a little sightseeing.

I am not generally a nervous or shy person. I have spent most of the last decade being thrust into new and challenging social situations; comes with the territory when you move countries. I have to admit this was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences yet. Sometimes you wonder if the people you know but haven't met for a LONG time (or ever), really meet their on-line persona. No matter what you always wonder - "Is this person an axe-wielding maniac who didn't come across the border, but was kicked over seconds after the straight jacket was taken off?"

Luckily "Shacky" didn't disappoint. The marks from the restraints faded after a couple of hours - no-one would ever know. Joking!!! (Before I get charged with some legal offense). He was a genuinely a nice guy. He was also kind of normal looking - but that's not hard. I mean I have this vision in my head that all barefoot runners must have a beard the size of a small blanket, wild hair and a fashion sense that looks like you were attacked by a clothing closet in the middle of the night. (I mean that's the look I am trying to perfect for myself).

There was also no sharp axes in sight.

It was a beautiful day, which is a bit of a surprise in this part of the world. We had spent the last 6 months with rain, sleet, snow, freezing temps and generally weather that is only good for fungi.

We spent the day eating too much, drinking beer and walking more than you really should the day before a race. This pre-race day itinerary would come to bite me later, however, it was worth it. It was fun playing tourist and guide in my adopted home-town. I had a great time. Thanks Shacky. Hopefully there maybe more encounters with other old RWOL members in the future. It's nice to match people to the on-line personalities.

So I have decided to cut-down this post into two, because frankly, the half-marathon race report and IBRD meet-up is an event all in itself. Also I really need the loo and I had best publish this before my crappy little laptop decides to chose another random website for me to check-out. :D See you in Part two..

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