Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I know the title is way hokey, but WTH. That IS what the poem is about, in one sense. Wrote this about a year ago but haven't dared to post it. I guess I'm ready to let the world see it now.


Arisen from our bed, still warm and close,
your presence comforts even as you leave
this place for good, a kindly smile that shows
you’ll always hang around. That look deceives
the innocent but lights my way: I streak
along your wake, forgetting in my haste
to dress--and so I turn the other cheek;
you seem surprised I could remain so chaste.
However chaste, I chase--farther, faster.
Come hither eyes melt into cold white stare,
laugh down on fools--dolts who’d court disaster
to glimpse your dark side. Thus I run. Though Mare
always was the goal,
I’ll never land there lest I lose control.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Happy National Poetry Day (if you're a Brit)

In honour of National Poetry Day in Britain, I've dredged up and am posting a poem I wrote a few years back. Go ahead, read some poetry today. You might be surprised at how pleasant you find it.

I Stop and Listen to a Winter Wren

Perhaps jealous of the sound—a rivulet trickling
down to wash stones and fallen branches—
the winter wren sings its spring digs,
a tangled rising-and-falling in the brush.

Surely the trill must soon cease its winding
progress through the trees—surely this small
brown creature cannot go on so,
drowning out the stream? It must be all lungs.

It does end, of course, and the unconscious
duet of water and earth emerges in the ensuing
quiet, seeming to pick up where the bird trails off,
dipping up and down over moss and twig.

The wren again inhales damp May air;
it cannot sing forever, though it will die trying.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Why are races so fun?

On the latest episode of my favourite science podcast, Quirks & Quarks, host Bob McDonald interviewed researcher Emma Cohen, who recently published a paper about pain threshold when exercising solo and exercising in a group.

If you don't want to click through, the gist of the research is that people who exercise in groups experience lower pain thresholds than those exercising alone. Cohen theorized that there's something about the social experience of exercising together that boosts endorphin output and, hence, lowers pain threshold.

This story was kind of an "ah hah" moment for me. I vividly remember my very first running race. It was the Park Lafontaine Classic 10k race two years ago. I ran well and was pleased with my time, but what struck me most was the special feeling I had being with all those other runners. There was something euphoric about being with so many other people working toward a similar goal. It made me happy, pure and simple. And I've since noticed a similar effect at other races; there's an infectious spirit you can't help but get caught up in.

And just about any recreational runner will tell you about what I like to call the "race effect," which somehow pushes you to a better result than you ever managed in training. While some of this can be attributed to the competitive jolt of the race context, I could definitely see how some of it also comes from the extra endorphins produced by being around so many people.

This year's Park Lafontaine Classic will be my third in a row and will have to stand in for my marathon goal. Whatever happens, I'm sure it will be a blast.