Anticipation

Or should it be waiting?  Just like ‘antcipating’ except that the latter usually also has excitement built in.  Waiting is full of impatience, maybe ‘dread’ or ‘regret’.  Anticipation is like a fully wound spring waiting to let loose; or a dog when the key is in the door.  It is typically a positive word.  I guess there are exceptions such as “I am anticipating my court date in a week…”. 

Not that I would know of such things.

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I am waiting for my son after high school football practice.  I anticipate he will be here soon.  See what I did there?  I am a ‘cheeky monkey’!

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No Pictures Please – I’m Just Running

So the week went well with a couple of decent runs.  I had designed a long run of 16 kilometers through the North Saskatchewan River Valley.  It’s not the Rockies or even the foothills, but it’s a challenge none the less.  I’m still not sure I’m ready for a half marathon but this run tells me I have the wind but the legs may be lacking the hills.  Need more hills. I hate hills.  Anyway.  I look at this as a ‘good’ run, not great.  Time was OK with the amount of times I walked due to discomfort in my calf.

TD-10

TD-10

Starting in a north direction, for just over 2km, then west for 500m or so.  Now it gets interesting.  A hard right takes you above the Riverside Golf Course as you descend on a paved bike and walking path finally past the 14th hole.  Rolling up and down with a final steep descent to run next to the river until the Capilano Bridge.  Did I mention it there was a Heavy Snowfall Warning which has since turned to “a few centimeters”?  Winds of 25km/h with gusts to 40?  Well there were both, of course.  By the time I crossed the bridge on the sidewalk but against the direction of traffic, the weather became a factor. Once across the bridge open to the elements, down a quick set of stairs and back on the trail.  Now I’m across the river and skirting the back few holes of the Highlands Golf Club.  Up a 100+ step set of stairs gets you to a switch back that either takes you up to the residential area or down to the river valley.  We go down.  I nice down hill after the stairs and a flat for 3km or so to the Dawson Bridge.  Back across the river to return home now. Up a hill that encourages automatic transmissions to shift down at least once for 5 or 600m, up and across the road on a walking bridge through Forest Heights Park.  McNally High School at the North end, I run to the end of the path along the top of the riverbank to the newly constructed Newman Theological College (…and at this point, I can use all the help I can get!).  Now it’s flat as I run around the neighbourhood to finish out the mileage.  One problem, my calf is giving me problems, enough to walk and try and stretch, and the weather is getting worse.  While running past the high school, I realized I couldn’t see across the river the snow was so thick and the wind was howling.  I got to 90th ave and bailed when I returned to 79th street.  Went all the way back to 98th ave then turned around to complete the planned finish.  Instead of 10 miles it ended up being 9.6 according to “WalkJogRun” website that I use.  It’s good for tracking what ever info YOU supply.  I like the mapping too.

It was a good lesson: I was not hydrated enough.  Oh sure there was plenty all around me but not enough in me.  I am keeping it elevated and drinking lots…of water.  Massaging every now and then.  It’s getting better.  Back to the regular run on Tuesday when all should be good.  It’s also a good thing I wore my “traks” for traction as the trail had various topography available.

My wife was looking at me sideways when I got up to run – “are you nuts?”.  Yes, I guess I am.

After all, I’m just running.

Please Note: All photos are linked back to their original website

Back on Track

The snow may not be gone but it is on its way out.  It better be, we’re sitting at April 10 and I’m done with snow and winter.  Spring is here dammit (sorry, I’ll watch the language from here on in…).  We can have rain, like we do today, but no more snow.  Certainly nothing measurable.

More help than you'll ever know until you slip
More help than you’ll ever know until you slip

Last Saturday’s run (10K) required the additional traction of the spikes and it was done in comfort and a decent time.  The weather itself was good and not too cold.  I made sure I dressed for 10 degrees warmer than it was and that worked nicely.  I also ‘rocked it old school’ with a cotton fleece hoodie and sweats with a wool cap.  That’s right, no neoprene, breathable plastic fibre clothing, or any sort of ‘technical’ wear.  OK, my shoes weren’t “Chuckies” they’re a decent running shoe, but the rest was cotton and wool.  I guess there’s a reason they invented that stuff: I carried every drop of sweat home to my laundry room.  My clothes must have weighed 3 pounds before the run and about 7 pounds afterwards.  YIKES!

Yes I will go back to breathable, wicking shirts etc…

Tuesday was a little tougher as I dragged my non-running dog (just wants to explore and sniff, not stick with the trail and runner).  The off leash area is perfect as I just ran up and down a 3 pronged 4k loop.  Dexter just kept up then went off.  Caught up, ran past me, pee’d on something, ran behind me for a few hundred meters then stopped.  Repeat as required.   Funny dog.  The run was challenging as there are many bumps and inclines, hills and dips.  Still got out for 30 to 35 minutes but am unsure of how far I really went.  Good to get out.  Tomorrow, it’ll be up at 5, hit the street at 530 for a 6.5k loop on flat ground.  Saturday I’ve created a 16k loop from home through the river valley and back.  I better get up early for that, too.

So This is Why I’ve Stopped Running…for Now.

On March 20th and 21st, this city was crushed by a “spring” snow storm.  It’s only a “spring” storm because it was days away from the real Spring.  Whenever that is.

At Snow Valley Edmonton (I am being specific in case you think I could be referring to Snow Valley Barrie, Ontario or Snow Valley California…as if), we stared at the sky and kept on staring.  It was like we just started the season over again.  As the snow began at 5:30 am it did not stop until the next morning and then started again.  The least amount of accumulated snow I heard reported was 20 cm or 7 inches.  The most was 40.  I’ve ranted about this before so I won’t go on too long here.  Yikes we have had a ton o’snow.  It’s so much that not everyone can keep up with the shoveling and running becomes an after thought.  It’s tough to run in snow shoes…really tough.

I’ve been counting shoveling as a work out since I had, with the rest of my family, been moving hundreds of kilograms of snow for 4 nights in a row an hour at a shot.  It’s a work out to the uninitiated.  To those who know, I salute you!

50th Street Walking Bridge at 6:30 pm MDT
50th Street Walking Bridge at 6:30 pm MDT

I could go inside to a running track but it’s a bit of an  investment each visit.  200 meter track and it’s clock wise on even days and counter clock wise on odd days.  Then if you go upstairs to the upper track it’s the other direction.   It’s so dry in there all I need is a couple of olives and it’s a Martini.

I need to get back on the road.  I will.  Not worried.  Still aiming for the half marathon at the end of April.  Will do.

I’ve walked the dog through the deep snow and the packed single person trails.  He loves it…bounding like a puppy and rolling in it.  Oh how he loves it.  One more thing: The light has returned..  As I write this, it’s past 8pm MDT and I’m gushing that it is still light out.  It’s just going to get lighter from now until the end of June.

The snow is maddening but the light is better.

So that’s why I stopped running… for now.  The shoes are ready.  It’s time to start…again.  Go Team.

The Best Year Ever Without Winning

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Oldest boy (17) played with a new club, bringing with him 6 others from his former club, lost more than they won and had one of the best year’s of hockey in a while.

In the playoffs they lost 2 straight to be eliminated quickly, but it didn’t really bother them that much.  It was a fun team to watch with ups and downs.  The important thing is that he had fun, unlike the previous season.  That is the only reason to play hockey or any sport: to look back and say “it was a good year with a good bunch of guys”.

Well done, gentlemen, well done!

In the End, Everthing Will Be Alright…If it’s Not Alright, it’s Not the End.

This past week I had the privilege of trying to right a wrong.  Trying to give a kid a break. I say “trying” because, as you may have quickly deduced, I was unsuccessful in the end.  However this is also a story about how making an effort can make a difference as well.

hand-upIt all begins at the end.  At the end of a rather strange Bantam mid tier hockey game, one of our players fell in front of the opposing bench.  Upon his recovery words were exchanged and the player turned, and made a rude gesture.   A typical response from a typical 15 year old.  Now the story gets some traction.

The referee had heard the words exchanged and then saw the “gesture” and quickly assessed the player a “Gross Misconduct” under Hockey Canada Rule 4.7b which states, “A Gross Misconduct penalty shall be assessed any player or team official who conducts herself in such a manner as to make a travesty of the game.” (p.57 Hockey Canada 2012-2014 Official Case/Rule Book).  For the uninitiated and to give you a sense of the severity of a Gross Misconduct, the previous penalty listed is 4.6 “Game Ejection/Game Misconduct Penalties” and the next penalty listed is 4.8 “Match Penalties”, in which players are immediately sent to the dressing room and are not permitted to take part any further games until their case has been dealt with by the President of the Local Hockey Canada Chapter.  You really have to mess up to do that…like hit a referee or linesman…use your equipment as a weapon or something crazy like dance around ignoring everyone yelling.

So let’s go back for a bit.  Players who are on the same team as the penalized player heard specific racial slurs and others regarding his sexual orientation.  The referee obviously did not hear what was said but saw the “gesture” and thought that it was directed towards him and assessed the penalty.

Watching the game progress it was not the finest refereeing job but at the same time no one is perfect and that’s just fine.

So here’s where I stumble in to the mix.  After reading the game sheet and the required referee report (one always accompanies the sheet when a misconduct is assessed) and speaking with other players on the ice, the penalty assessed was wrong.  Mounting my trusty steed, I ventured out to into the world of Edmonton Minor Hockey and the Referee Committee.  I talked with two current referees and they both said a Gross Misconduct is REALLY bad and that it would be at least a 3 game suspension, possibly more.  Based on that conversation and the one with the players, an unsportsmanlike misconduct is reasonable.  He reacted to the words as any teenager would, like he’s 10 feet tall and bullet proof.  He flipped off, if you will, the other team, not the official.

I looked up how to lodge a complaint.  Game number, date, arena, opponent, division and tier.  Then, so the process goes, the complaint CANNOT come from a coach, player, manager, parent or spectator.  It can ONLY come from the Club level.  The coach was fully behind supporting the player.  The Division and Club President was behind it, too.  In the end however, it was decided that history was against us.  No complaint would ever over turn a referee decision.  Ever.  It may become a study case for Hockey Edmonton or Hockey Alberta, but the assessment will never be overturned.  The player was assessed a  two game suspension (a lot less than I thought it would be).

Why can’t we get referee calls overturned?  Especially major penalties that assess multiple game suspensions.  These people, teenagers in many cases, are human and are prone to the same mistakes you and I make – no rocks flying from my glass house.

My windmill, I guess.    If only the story ended there.

The coach discovered the opposing team, who uttered the “words” that encouraged the “gesture”, was also not that far off the Hockey Edmonton and Hockey Alberta radar.  That team had gained such a notorious reputation that it was determined that for every misconduct assessed a player, the coach would receive two.  What could you possibly do to get that type of penalty?  There is an explanation.

The coach had been overheard telling his player to “finish the check and hit to hurt”.  It was also determined that the coach would target better players on other teams to hit and hopefully injure.  Where does this come from?

Let’s try to really boil this down: The tier is so far down that odds of a player becoming a professional player (any league or level) are higher than winning the lottery (any lottery any level).  The coaches won’t be headed to a “higher” level of coaching anytime soon.  What drives a person to specifically tell a player to target and injure another player?  To what end?  How can you be proud of winning with those tactics?  This is supposed to be ‘get out there skate, play and sweat while having fun’  like all other sports that cater to the majority of athletes.

In the end, I guess, everything will be all right.  And if it’s not all right, it’s not the end.

What’s that?  It’s not the end ?  Playoffs start this weekend?  Maybe I won’t stable the steed just yet.

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I Run a Triathalon Every Time I Run

With that kind of title, this better be good. Well, it isn’t “good”, its brutal.  As in the conditions that we of the “four distinct seasons” (Sweaty, Dusty, Freezing, and Slushy) must run in if we want to run outside.  Currently, if you don’t have a calendar handy, we are in late Freezing and slowly moving into Slushy.

I just came in from my second run since a flu/cold nailed my shoes to the back door carpet.  We are currently experiencing below zero temperatures from 7p until 8a and above zero temperatures during the day.  Melt.  Freeze.  Melt.  Freeze…you get the picture.  Not only do you have the experience of running on bare sure-footed traction side walks, you get the added excitement of seeing a fresh, flat, gleaming, and traction-less, sheet of ice the exact width of the same side-walk you were just promoting as wonderful.  It’s bad enough waiting for the weather channel to give you the forecast and wind conditions to help you dress, now you must have the dexterity of a cat (the added lives don’t hurt either) just to get down the road.

I did, however, mention a “triathlon”.  That standard of toughness and endurance.  Swim for twenty leagues and three knots, bike for a thousand kilometers, then run a marathon like the day so far was a warm up.  I’ve seen it on TV…piece of cake.  Come run in my world…the real triathlon (note the lack of capitalization due to my fear of actually upsetting those that really run those things).  The triathlon I run every other morning or so, and every walking or bus riding commuter must endure, is this: Walk on clear pavement, tip toe over ice/through slush (depending on time of day) and….wait for it…over a substance I call “sandcrete”.

Wind-row of "sandcrete"captured by the Edmonton Sun
Wind-row of “sandcrete” captured by Laura Pedersen/Edmonton Sun

Sandcrete is the mixture of road sand, a little salt, dirt, debris and snow packed by the melt and freeze process this bear frozen wasteland can only deliver.  No you won’t find sandcrete in Egypt, France…nope not even in the Alps, Sweden (too clean and efficient), or Russia.  Well maybe Russia.  Moscow….maybe.  What happens is this mixture gets tossed to the side of roads and builds up as the wind-rows are created by the graders.  The crusty top is like what you would see at the foot of a volcano…cooled lava rock.  It looks porous but it’s solid, you can walk or run on it as an alternative to running on the sheer ice gently dusted with a bit of blown snow, just for good measure.  Sandcrete is alive, too.  Sometimes it wants you to run on it.  And sometimes it doesn’t.  When it’s in a bad, or melting, mood, it lets you plunge to the bottom of the drift you now find yourself in.  Now you’re either high-stepping like an american football running back through falling blockers or you’re planted and wondering where to go next.  It’s not fun, but it’s getting there that’s the adventure.  Then, if the sandcrete is solid, you can always navigate it by looking no more than one meter in front of you to ensure you don’t trip on the jagged edges that wait for your mis-step and cut up like no bike fall could ever inflict.

Yes it’s a triathlon, a triathlon of traction, without the bother of distance or time, but all excitement.  I would call it a sport worth watching in between curling and golf but instead I’ll call it: Wednesday morning.

Fits and Starts

Since the beginning of November 2012, I committed to running 3 times a week plus one session of TNH (Thursday Night Hockey in full gear).  It was going quite well.  I ran Monday, Wednesday and Saturday before work.  Up at 5am.  Check the weather.  Bundle up.  Hit the street.  I had averaged 5 miles a run at 9 and half minutes more or less.  Long runs were 6, 8, and 9 miles.  Average temperature: -15C in November and January; -8C in January.  All was well.  Then my nose started to run, too.  That was 3 long weeks ago.

flu-manIt is never a good thing to get sick.  I should have been immune to being sick at this point, or so I thought.  I was working out, eating right…even losing weight (10 lbs since November).  My wife looks back and says, “Not going to skip the flu shot next year are you?”.  No, I won’t.

So I begin again.  Saturday (the 17th) was balmy -5C with no wind and clear Alberta blue skies.  The terrain is something to behold.  The weather changes so fast that home owners really can’t keep up.  Yesterday it all melted.  Now it’s frozen and waiting to melt again.  Unfortunately that makes for “dicey” running conditions.

I felt good going around the neighbourhood once again.  Just over 3 miles this AM with a few walking breaks.  Lungs need to catch up…legs are good.  Next time, I need to remember the spikes (a northern runners BFF!).Winter-Running-Spikes_medium

It is now Wednesday and the temperature is down below -6C and the wind has finally calmed down to a breeze with mild gusts.  Clear Alberta blue skies abound and we’re up to 10.25h of sunlight a day and gaining 4-5 minutes each rotation of our big orb.  Have I gone running, though?  No.  I will endeavour to go tonight before my son arrives home from a week on an exchange in “La Belle Province”, Quebec.

EP-HalfMarathonMy new target is the Edmonton Police Foundation Half Marathon on April 28th.

Hope springs eternal.  Feet: Do your thing!

Where Legends Begin: The 50th Edmonton Minor Hockey Week

When it began, I’m sure the organizers never thought it would become this big or, for that matter, where legends would begin.

The Quikcard Minor Hockey Week, as it is known today began in 1963 and is an annual minor hockey tournament in the city of Edmonton. In 2009 it held the Guinness Book of Worlds Record for World’s Largest Hockey Tournament.

I first played in it in 1971 and it wasn’t until 73 that the size of the tournament really hit home.  I remember walking down the hall way outside Coronation Arena and seeing this massive poster with every single Mite A team hand written down the middle in a single column.  Then spreading out on either side was a spider web of lines with Consolation written above the left side and Championship on the right.  Looking back it was very simple.  You win, you keep to the right, lose go to the left.  Minimum two games. The system really hasn’t changed in 50 years.

Many professionals have played in it including Mark Messier, Jay Bouwemeister, Kelly Hrudey and many others throughout the years and generations.

Today, they’ve tiered teams into divisions within the age groups Novice, Atom, Peewee, Bantam and Midget, boys and girls teams excluding elite AA and AAA levels.  You end up playing against the same teams you’ve been playing against in the last 6 games, also know as the second of three rounds of seasonal play.  Something happens to a lot of teams entering the tournament.  One or two teams always come out of nowhere to win a game or two they never really had any business being in.  They reach down from somewhere and pull out an amazing feat of athletic ability and team play.  They play at a level no parent or opponent has ever seen.  They are amazed at their own success.  They are hungry for the next game, the next period, the next shift, the next face off.  It’s game time.  Just win.

There is no “thanks for participating”.  You can lose your first game and you’ll get a second game, but that’s it.  Loser go home.  Win and you’re in.

Tonight is the first of two semi final games that I will witness in the next four days.  Each team has played games that have left parents amazed at their skill and determination.  It is really fun to watch.  Not that the regular season or other tournaments aren’t but for some reason this….this is Minor Hockey Week.  Fathers and sons can tell stories of each others moments and memories, wins and losses.  It is amazing the similarities generations apart yet in the same tournament.  This is fun.

Only once in 18 tries has either  of my sons won the Gold.  More than a few silvers between the two of them.  I never got that close.  That’s OK, I remember making to the fourth round, one or two wins from playing in the Edmonton Gardens…where the Alberta Oilers play!  That’s right, the Alberta Oilers of the World Hockey Association, a year before they became the Edmonton Oilers.  That’s the stuff of legends.

During the one Gold medal win, the game went to over time.  Over time is one minute periods played in succession and each team takes  one player off until it is one player and one goalie on either side for six minutes.  This game  went to one on one.  It was epic in that it went down to less than two minutes of battling back and forth.  Do we pull the goalie for the extra attacker…or not?  So exciting and finally: GOAL!  We won…er his team won.  He won the Gold.  That’s the stuff of legends.

Tonight we came up short and the better team this night will go on to battle for Gold on the weekend.  Friday night is the next opportunity for this family, we’ll be there and I can’t wait.

Because that’s what memories are made of and where legends begin.  I love Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week.

The Real Hockey Night in Canada

The NHL has really shot themselves in the foot.  In a recent poll 52% of Canadians don’t care anymore about the lockout.  Now to put that into perspective, if it truely was half of all Canadians, that would only account for 5% of all Americans.  I suspect the fan base is actually larger than that but let’s look at their alternatives: In hockey crazy Minnesota, they have the NFL and NBA to suck the void.  More importantly in Tampa Bay, where just before the last lock out they won the Cup, they not only live in a market that doesn’t care about hockey, they have NFL and NFL calibre college football teams.  It ‘s time to get out of Dodge…along with Dallas, Tampa, Florida, San Jose and anywhere else hockey ranks below bowling.  Even L.A. has to be considered keeping in mind they are the reigning Stanley Cup Champion.

So where is hockey?

The World Junior Hockey Championships start on Dec 26 in Eastern Russia.  All junior leagues carry on.  All midget aged leagues play and below are showing up for practices and games.

Case in point: South West Zone Oil Kings Team 530 & 532 are playing a fun 4 on 4 game at Kinsmen Arena.  Nearly every kid showed up on this  blowing snow -30C night.  Its fun.  A lot of the boys know each otheri from previous seasons.  Score doesn’t matter.

This is the real hockey night in Canada.  Such an iconic brand in Canada, I suspect the vast majority of Canadians can identify it.  Yet it represents professional hockey.  Its time we took it back. 

Hockey Night in Canada is about the novice game at Glengarry Arena in Edmonton as it is about the bantam tilt in Brandon’s Keystone Centre or Salmon Arm’s Memorial Arena. 

This is the real Hockey Night in Canada and it is about the game and most importantly it is about the kids.

Reporting from the Kinsmen Twin Arenas in South Edmonton…

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