Holding Your Ground

It’s May, and there are no triathlons in my Race Calendar.  I don’t really have any goals set.  I follow bloggers who are doing half-ironman and ironman triathlons, bloggers who have already done their first marathons this season.  It’s an ecology of overachievers in the corner of the blogosphere that my personal flight pattern covers, and at the very least, the benefit of setting goals is well understood.  I should feel bad for not toeing the line by having some goals set.

I don’t.  I won’t.  I can’t, because feeling bad certainly wouldn’t change anything.  I’m certainly inspired by all those who are conquering new ground, there’s no question of that.   They are my heroes.

Yet, I can’t help but be reminded about something I read about the movie 300.  It’s based on the Graphic Novel by Frank Miller, and loosely (i.e. with plenty of artistic licence) based on the Battle of Thermopylae, where a mere 300 Spartans (give or take some other support from other Greeks) held off tens of thousands of men serving a Persian invasion.  When Frank Miller learned of the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, “…the film altered his perception of the ‘Hero’ concept insofar as he came to realize that the hero didn’t always win and that sometimes, to be a hero, one must sacrifice oneself.”  In that story, the good guys (according to the way it was told) didn’t “win” or conquer, but they held their ground against seemingly overwhelming odds.

So while conquering a new frontier in multi-sport and/or endurance is an appealing goal, that might not be the path for me at this point in time.  Over the past 3 years, we’ve become not only a family of two small children which is often overwhelming (“That’s cute.” said everyone with 3 or more kids), but a special needs family too.  The special needs aren’t that overwhelming, but the Lightning Kid has more of them now than he did as a newborn.  The transition from daycare to “real school” is coming.  I’m looking at some medical procedures, which I won’t detail here, at least not yet (nothing serious, routine stuff).  Oh, and there’s water in the basement (my precious man-cave!)… that’ll take time, effort and money.

I have an incredibly supportive spouse, but not a Sherpa wife.  Triathlon (and by extension blogging about it) is a hobby, and fits in after (or gets outranked by) family obligations, career, the welfare of my kids, my relationship with my wife, etc.  It can’t eclipse them.

These are not excuses, per se.  I’m not trying to weasel out of anything, in fact, I am more committed than ever to active, outdoor, multi-sport living.  So we’ll be running races with the whole family using a stroller, parent and child sports classes, triathlons for the kids, active family vacations and so on.  These are my values.  They are our Family Values. I can serve these values without pushing my personal performance envelope.  And to whatever would try to come between me and those values, I say:


Which loosely translates to “Come and Take them”.

Race Recap: 9th Annual Spring Into Action for Diabetes (10k)

Jacqueline over at Skinny Chick Blog has mentioned often how she actually prefers smaller events for running races.  I’m beginning to think I know what she means.  This weekend was the Toronto Goodlife Marathon, and I’m sure lots of people I know (at least on the internet) were there, but the Iron Rogue clan ran something much smaller on Saturday.

We picked up a flyer for the Spring Into Action for Diabetes race while crossing the finish line at the Yonge Street 10k.  We had fun running as an entire family then, so when they said strollers would be allowed, we put ourselves down for a family entry as soon as we could.

The race start was at the Wilket Creek entrance to Sunnybrook Park.  There were a little over 200 participants spread over a 2 km Walk, 5 km, and 10 km run.  It was a cloudy, overcast day with cooler temperatures, which is good for running, but the threat of rain put a bit of a damper on our spirits.  There was walk-up registration, which might have actually been a time saver compared to the long line up the pre-registered participants needed to stand in to get their bibs and race kits.  Fortunately, this was a very, very family friendly event with a few fitness obstacles set up as a way to keep kids who don’t like standing in line (e.g. mine) occupied.

Once we got to the front of the line we got our bibs and race swag.  There were bibs and timing chips for everybody, which made Shark Boy feel like part of the team.

Timing Chips for Everyone!

They had run out of safety pins for the bibs, so he missed out on feeling super official during the race, but the cotton t-shirt did a great job as an extra layer for someone who was dressed a little too light, i.e. me.

Once they had done a few speeches to welcome everyone (including some rather frightening statistics about incidence rates of diabetes – some don’t realize they have it) by the race director, and a speech by Toronto mayoral candidate Karen Stintz (who seems super nice).  They started the warm-up exercise routine (led by InsideOut Fitness staff) including some Yoga and a little dynamic movement.  

Couldn’t quite get Eagle Arms right on Shark Boy

That was fun to watch the kids try and follow along.  Shark Boy is passingly familiar with Yoga (not sure how, maybe daycare?), and the Lightning Kid lives to entertain others (especially the ladies).  Before we knew it, it was time to line up at the start.  It was a little scary having the 10 km runners be first – with the Chariot, I would have preferred being in the back, but there was never a problem with people going around.

Shark Boy wanted to start the race running for himself, and he kept up a good pace for nearly a kilometre.  I’m pretty proud of him because when I’ve gotten him to run distances of any kind in the past, he’s more like the hare than the tortoise – fast out of the gate, then needing long, time-wasting rests.  He called for entry to the Chariot shortly before the 1 km mark and then we started rolling with both kids inside.

Just past the 2.5 km mark, which served as the turn-around point for the 5 km runners and the last water station for us 10 km runners, there seemed to be some confusion, with several faster runners turning back saying they’d hit a dead-end.  My wife went back with some of them to see if we could clear up the course, and they said they’d send someone ahead to clear things up.  Before they could get there we decided to strike out on our own.  Later that weekend we saw a quote somewhere on Facebook that it’s “Better to Walk Alone, than to be in a Crowd Going the Wrong Way.”  That is sound advice, because we would have wasted less time (and mileage) if we hadn’t gotten infected with the self-doubt of others and ploughed ahead.  Sticking to the park trails (going under a bridge to cross Don Mills) was easy enough, and though other racers got fewer to encounter, we confirmed the 5 km turn-around point was on the course we were following.

Breaking up squabbles between the boys and keeping them occupied with snacks was the biggest hindrance to performance and enjoyment, but we still ticked off the kilometres with smiles on our faces (and were greeted with many more in return).  The cool weather kept us from overheating climbing up some of the hills (which were mostly ramps for bridges under the overpasses).   

Toward the end, there seemed to be a little bit of drizzle that came and went.  Shark Boy got out with a little less than a kilometre do finish, and ran it holding his bib in his hand, as did his mother, while I held my bib and the Lightning Kid’s in mine pushing the Chariot across the finish line.   After the run, we ate hamburgers (courtesy of the race) for lunch and stretched before going home with our medals.

It was a small potatoes event with small potatoes hiccups, but great fun for a great cause.
Here’s a clip from the local news, including a little sound bite from the Lightning Kid and I.