Archive for July, 2012


THINGS TO DO WHEN A SEASONED ATHLETE ISN’T RUNNING

07.13.2012

Past Glory

You mean there are times when we don’t run?  Well, of course there are!

In my own case there are several things.  One is now history, in more than one sense, and the other two are “coming soon”.

In the past history category is a story-telling event entitled ‘Before They Were Grandparents’, with a theme of sport for this particular session.  In the coming soon category are the Run For Change 5K Fun Run/Walk taking place August 18, not to mention some related fund raising events. And, in the coming pretty soon category is my newest ‘gig’ as Technical Race Director for the Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation – Great Pumpkin Run Walk, happening later in October.

In the case of Run for Change and the Great Pumpkin Run Walk you can definitely expect to hear more as the events get nearer in time. This will probably be the only time I talk about Before They Were Grandparents, so I think I will start with that one.

Before I do, get going, that is I want to say a few words about the title.  The book (Running in the Zone: A Handbook For Seasoned Athletes) and some of its contributors specifically talked about the things related to running that people can do for their own interest, pleasure and benefit, but also to give back to and enhance the community.  I really believe that many people can do more of this sort of thing and have a ball doing it while creating a benefit at the same time.  In the three examples I am going to talk about, not a single step was taken and not a single running shoe was harmed!  In the story-telling, naturally I talked about running and my more or less life-long love affair with it.  In the other two, my role has been and is, to help others enjoy participating in the sport while enhancing their own as well as community benefit from that participation.  The older, seasoned runner is an ideal candidate for this kind of thing.  Experience and love of the sport let us share with others, the place running (of any sort) can have in a person’s life, and because of that love of the sport involvement in the volunteer or charity side of it is an ideal means to ‘give back’.  What better way to contribute than through something you already love?  Thus endeth the sermon.  Now, here is a bit of the story on the three specific topics introduced earlier.

Before They Were Grandparents is an initiative of Bayshore Home Health through community outreach.  We see so-called old people, too often, as a snap-shot in time.  They (we?) weren’t always old.  There is a rich story and history behind each and every person.  BTWG as it is sometimes called by the organizers, celebrates that history and has hit upon the story-telling format to share the things they find in the client group they serve.  When contacted by Bayshore, I was identified by the Pacific Road Runners as “an older runner, who likes to talk and isn’t afraid of a video camera”.  Me?  OK, guilty as charged.

The particular event was to involve several individuals with interesting sport stories to tell.  When I found out who I was to be paired with, my first thought was ‘what am I doing in this crowd?’.  Then, I learned I only had ten minutes!  Seems like I would have to be quite prepared.  There is nothing harder than speaking for 10 minutes unless it is speaking for 5 minutes.  There is a long story about a famous speaker who was asked to address a particular audience.  Without going into the whole thing, his response in a nutshell was if you want me for an hour – I’m ready to go right now.  But, if you want me for 10 minutes, I will need at least a week to prepare.

The clip I have linked here is even more distilled and covers just one part of my ‘story’.  What I decided to do was talk about how running became and remains such an important and satisfying part of my life.  The clip talks about my teen years and very early introduction to running, including an up close and personal interaction with Harry Jerome, something I covered in this blog after seeing Mighty Jerome, the movie about Harry’s life.  What you won’t see, but the attendees saw and heard was how and why I left running for some years and then got back to it, continuing right up to current time and beyond.  And yes, I did cover it in 10 minutes!

A particular thrill was to find that the MC for the event was none other than Red Robinson of radio and rock and roll fame. Turns out we both attended King Ed High and remembered a lot of the same things including the Vancouver Mounties baseball and what a great time it was to sit in the fabulous venue of Cap Stadium (now Nat Bailey Stadium) or when you didn’t have the money, a seat on ‘Scotchman’s Hill’ (aka Queen Elizabeth Park, aka Little Mountain) and watch that Triple A baseball.  My heart sank a little, knowing I was first up, when Red started things off with his own story about being MC for the big Elvis Presley show at Empire Stadium.  Hard act to follow – but I gave it my best!

 

Finishers - First Annual Run for Change

Run For Change is a small but growing program intended to help individuals intent on regaining control of things in their lives. Although I have been involved almost from the beginning, my main involvement is as the Technical Race Director for the 5K Fun Run and Walk, now officially pending in the calendar as the Third Annual Run For Change Fun Run.  The actual event is scheduled for August 18, starting and finishing at the Athlete’s Plaza in the Olympic Village area at the East End of False Creek.  The first year there were just 25 participants.  The second, the number grew to about 50 and for the Third Annual Run For Change we are thinking there could be as many as 100 participants.  When life has turned on you, it can be a long road back.  Some have found that literally running down that road can help.  Taking on the challenge of a regular training program and from time to time, the challenge of an event like this 5K fun run gives confidence and pride just in the taking on and completing of it.  We have seen people wanting to go beyond the 5K, to the point of training through and organized program for the Vancouver Sun Run 10K.  In 2012 there were 31 people who stepped up to that personal challenge.  Then, to the surprise of many, a small but really eager group went on to challenge the half marathon distance at the Vancouver Marathon and again at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. 

Is this a solution to all the problems of such individuals?  Hardly.  Is it a tool by which they might steady themselves and take the next necessary steps?  Absolutely.  Run For Change was started by Benji Chu and a small group of friends inspired by his leadership but as time has gone on, many more have joined in to assist in building a sound base, including financially, to allow the core work to continue.  Participants are not asked to pay for their activities either on a regular basis or in the actual running events. Even ‘fun’ events cost money so Run For Change has now become the Run For Change Society, and able to raise modest funds to support the goals and vision of the program.  This is a great cause and when you meet the people who have commited themselves to the challenge you have little question in your mind as to why you want to support the effort.

Pumkin Runners in Costume

The Great Pumpkin Run Walk.  I am delighted to announce, and with much yet to come, that I have just agreed (with the Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation) to serve as the Technical Race Director for this event.  Naturally, the goal of the Foundation is to engage the community and provide significant funds to support the work of the Hospital. My personal role is to relieve Foundation Staff of some of the nuts and bolts aspects of staging the event, giving them more time to concentrate on the raising of funds, in 2012 to support the work of the Emergency Room.  All of us are planning a great and fun event for the community with family friendly activities, a 5K run or walk route and for those who want to participate, but maybe not do a full 5K, a 1K event option. There will be costumes, prizes, music, post-event food and more at the Great Pumpkin Run Fairground (aka the Peace Arch Hospital parking lot).

This event doesn’t happen until October 21, so this is just a bit of an advance notice on the event and another fine example of the kind of thing we seasoned athletes can do when we aren’t running.  Around the beginning of August the web site will begin to present, in detail, the 2012 Great Pumpkin Run Walk.  Everyone is welcome!  There is no formal registration fee.  Entry is by donation and everyone can participate in raising funds through pledges.  Stay tuned for all the details.  You can expect more from me on this as we move along toward the big day.