August 14, 2009

Iron Man cover story for IMPACT Magazine

IMPACT Magazine's editor asked me to write the cover story for the current issue, a profile on Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander. Assignments like these sum up why I truly love being a journalist and a writer.

Here's the result, as published on their website (there's also a print version).

August 11, 2009

Runner's Block

As I am working towards finishing my first book - as always I am a little ambitious so I am working on three books simultaneously - I have sought the support of other writers by reading their books.

Six weeks ago I happened upon a book by Julia Cameron, The Sound of Paper: Starting from Scratch. Coincidence that my eye caught that book at the time and place that it did? I doubt it - I had been looking a long time for what I found, which is what I realized when I came home and started reading her book.

Cameron is the author of The Artist's Way, one of the bestsellers she wrote and one that I am now reading. But it was the Sound of Paper that I truly fell in love with. I started reading it on July 2.

One of her three main recommendations for artists is that you write three pages longhand as soon as you wake up, every single day. She calls them Morning Pages. You can write anything, as long as you write those three pages. It could be, "I feel tired and don't have any ideas for writing today. I need to walk the dog."

The idea is that, in Julia's words:
"Morning Pages prioritize our day. ... Morning Pages are a potent form of meditation for hyperactive Westerners. They amplify what spiritual seekers call "the still small voice". Work with the Morning Pages awakens our intuition. Synchronicity becomes a daily fact. We are more and more often in the right place at the right time. We know how to handle situations that baffled us. In a very real sense, we become our own friend and witness. Morning pages are the gateway to the inner and higher self. They bring us guidance and resilience. They make us farseeing."

Following her advice immediately I began writing three pages of longhand on July 3 the first thing in the morning, and I have been doing so every day since. It has helped me in my `true' writing.

In fact I have been far more consistent in my writing than I have been in my running. Partly it has been because I had mentally agreed with myself that running had to take a backseat, because of some other things I had to do including coordinating two art exhibitions and exhibiting my own paintings in three but also because I felt the need to lay low in my running for a few more weeks after my two recent marathons.

On Sunday August 2, I ran a certified 10km race here in Squamish. My plan had been to go out hard, and to hold on to that pace as long as I could. My first kilometer was 3:50, my second 3:55 and my third 4:00. I reached the 5km mark at 20:11, before finishing in 41:39.

I received a beautiful trophy, a carving by Neil Baker, for being the first local female runner to cross the finish line. I had not raced too smart, pushing myself hard in the first half and struggling to hold on to a slowing pace in the second. It was hot and humid, close to 30 degrees and I felt extremely tired in the two following days.

So I didn't run. And soon it was Friday - I hadn't run for five days. Now that's fine after a marathon but you do not need to recover five days after a 10km. I knew it was time to get back on a structured training program.

I decided to keep it simple and set myself one goal, the 9.5km race in Stanley Park, Vancouver, at the end of October. I emailed my coach with that goal and he responded with a 12-week training program. I did my first session today, a speed workout.

It feels great to be back into my running habit!