Monday, April 30, 2007

How to recover from a joggling marathon

My recovery has gone well. Here are my six steps to a successful joggling marathon recovery:

1) Walk around as much as possible after the finish: This was no problem for me since I was rushing around meeting up with family, doing interviews and walking a fair distance to lunch.

2) Move arms around as much as possible: Lauryn wanted to be carried a lot, so that acted as my arm cooldown.

3) Keep eating and moving around: Ate a huge lunch, walked around some more, then went on a train ride on an old diesel train. This involved walking up and down between the cabins and hoisting the kids around to help them see the view.

4) Drink wine: My theory is that it helps relax the muscles, and I' m sticking to it.

5) Sleep well: Saturday night wax one of the best night's of sleep, ever. Those Marriott beds are heaven.

6) Take a week off from running, but keep juggling: Check.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Salt Lake City Marathon joggle-off

High drama at high altitude
By Michal Kapral

Woo-eee, what a race it was! I mean, really, is there anything in the world more thrilling than an epic showdown between the world's top two marathon jogglers? Not in this reporter's unbiased opinion.

When Zach and I agreed to race each other in the Salt Lake City Marathon, each juggling three beanbags every step of the way, I knew we'd be in for a good match-up; I just didn't know how much of a true mental and physical battle this joggle-off would be.

Zach Warren of West Virginia is a joggling force to behold. When I first set the world record of 3 hours 7 minutes and 44 seconds for the "fastest marathon while juggling three objects" in 2005, he made quick work of it, running a 3:07:05 just two months later.

We both faced off in our first marathon joggling duel at last year's famed Boston Marathon, where Zach pummeled me in the Newton Hills and blasted to a new world record time of 2:58:23, as I stumbled in for a 3:06:45.

I knew 2:58 was within my grasp, so I made some adjustments to my training (namely, more joggling mileage) and got a hold of some lighter beanbags and reclaimed the world record at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last September, joggling home in 2:57:44. But Zach stunned the joggling world again in Philly with a 2:52:15, and the stage was set for a joggling marathon rematch in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake was a great venue for several reasons: Neither of us would be on "hometown turf" (although Zach would be in his home country), I had run the course as a pacer and knew it was both fast and scenic, the roads were nice and wide – good for joggling elbow room – and the race director was very supportive. There were some concerns about the altitude, but we decided to go ahead with it.

Race day on Saturday, April 21, produced picture-perfect conditions for a joggler: partly cloudy, about 7C and no wind. When I arrived at the start at 6:15 a.m. I met up with the CBC TV crew, who would be filming the event with a golf cart, and the Chump Change Productions documentary film crew, who had two golf carts. I gave a spare Sport Juggling Co. "JOGGLER" beanbag to one of the doc guys in case one of us lost one.

Zach showed up sometime after 6:30 and we both did some juggling to calm our nerves and to warm up. I joggled around a bit and got some applause from some of the 7,000 runners lined up at the start. After a final gulp of Gatorade, Zach and I made our way to the elite entry at the front. I got major butterflies in my stomach as I gazed ahead at the winding road ahead, and the beautiful mountain peaks beyond.

The starting horn blasted at 7 a.m. and we were off. Toss, toss, toss, toss, toss, toss – a clean beginning for both of us. Relief. The first mile was downhill and we hit the mark in 5:45. The race continued on a downgrade until mile 5 and Zach and I stayed elbow-to-elbow on a very quick pace.

A few miles into the race, Zach had the first drop. As the inferior juggler, this gave me a little twinge of satisfaction and I couldn't hold back a grin.

After the fifth mile we wound through a gorgeous park. The air was fresh and crisp, but Zach and I were both feeling the altitude. My lungs were tight and I couldn't seem to to get enough oxygen into me no matter how deep a breath I took. Nevertheless, we were flying.

Zach pushed the pace through the uphill section from miles five to 12, and around the 12-mile mark we bumped into each other where there was a fork in the road. Zach veered right, thinking the course went that way, while I kept going straight, which turned out to be the right direction. Our little collision resulted in my first drop of the race, and also left me in Zach's wake. I didn't want to burn myself out trying to catch him as he was still pushing a zippy pace.

On a long climb uphill, Zach continued to gain on me. I was gasping for air at the top of the hill and it looked like Zach had about 30 seconds on me. My legs were starting to ache already and it wasn't even halfway. I seriously considered giving up.

But the marathon being the marathon – a long enough race that you can die, rise to heaven and be born again – I caught a second wind at about mile 15. Zach stopped for water and I cruised past him.

Once I was in the lead, I started to feel really good. My confidence was back, my legs felt fresh again and my breathing steadied. It was just me, the open road and three stinky golf carts and camera crews.

Over the next few miles, spectators were saying, "Go juggler!" in the singular, so I knew I had a decent lead on Zach. He later told me it was about 40 seconds. I eased off a bit from 6:20 per mile to 6:30 to stay on 2:50 marathon pace, knowing the real race would start at 20 miles.

Zach caught back up to me when I made my first pit stop of the race – for Gatorade – at about 19 miles. I was actually really happy to see him as it meant I would have someone to run with. A couple of times I tucked in behind him to draft, because a bit of a wind had picked up. We stayed neck-and-neck for the next three miles, neither of us saying much. We were both starting to get seriously frazzled and our pace was slowing down.

As we approached mile 22, Zach started babbling to me about needing to stop for water and I knew this was my chance to make a break. At the next aid station, Zach pulled aside like an F1 driver desperately needing a top-up and I zoomed on.

For some reason, I started bobbing my head around like Paula Radcliffe and found that it helped me keep in a trance; the head-bobbing made me forgot the agony in my shoulders and legs and I surged for the next two miles. My body was full of endorphins and the world record was still within my grasp.

By mile 24, the endorphins were exhausted and so was The Joggler. The real world began to recede and everything started to go blurry. My arms were juggling and my legs were running but I wasn't even paying attention to them. All I could think about was the pain and the urge to just stop, toss my beanbags into the nearest ditch and sit down at the side of the road for a good long cry.

And so it was that after 24 miles of intense joggling, I skidded abruptly to a halt in the middle of a wide, empty road. I heard the squeal of the golf carts' breaks. I needed a break. I needed to rest my arms and catch my breath. And I needed to think about how to do this, how to go on.

What propels a marathon joggler to carry on through those final miles of agony? It's the fear of being in limbo. Stopping before the finish line doesn't give you any closure. There's nowhere to go. You're in the middle of a road. You're nowhere. You're nothing. You can't just give up when you're nowhere and nothing. Moving forward is the only way to be somewhere and something.

After a deep, oxygen-deprived breath, I began juggling. Right toss, left toss, right toss, left. Now the legs, right foot, left foot, right foot, left. I started to recite "The Foot Book" by Dr. Seuss, which I had been reading to Annika at bedtime recently:

Up feet, down feet,
Here come clown feet
Small feet, big feet,
Here come pig feet

Everything remained a blur, but I was moving forward and that was the important thing. I concentrated on not passing out. The spectators became more numerous in the final mile and their cheering helped. With one mile to go, I knew the record was out of reach. I needed to run a sub-6:00 mile. No way. I was in survival mode.

Dianne, the kids and our friend Annette were screaming my name at this point but I didn't even remember. I thought I heard them but my brain wasn't able to make the right connections. And I ran. And I juggled.

I had another drop – my third, I think – sometime after mile 25. I remembered saying out loud, "Let's do this!" before I set out for the finish. As the road narrowed into the fantastic finale in downtown Salt Lake, when I knew I would miss the record, I did a few high tosses for the crowd and missed a ball for my fourth drop of the marathon. About 35,000 catches and four drops – not bad.

A quick sprint to the end brought me in at 2 hours, 53 minutes and 28 seconds – a personal best, the best I could have done, but one minute and 13 seconds shy of the record that I so desperately wanted.

For a fraction of a second when I crossed the line, I didn't know whether to smash the balls down on ground in frustration or to celebrate a race well raced and a joggling battle well won. But a final high toss and a low catch left me jubilant. I won. I raced it as I would have the Olympic marathon. I joggled my heart and lungs and arms and legs out.

Just over 3 1/2 minutes later, Zach came across the line, looking probably much the same way I did when I finished: like burnt toast. I read later that the famous juggler Steven Ragatz talked to Zach after the finish and asked him how he felt. Zach told him it was "like he had just drunk 10 cheap beers," at which point Steven told him he should have just stuck to drinking the beer and taken a pass on the whole marathon running thing.

Steven's words gave me a good laugh, but I wouldn't have traded this joggling battle for anything. I've been following marathon running races for almost a decade now and I think this was one of the most exciting duels there has ever been in the history of marathon racing ... in this reporter's unbiased opinion.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Home again ... now what?

I'm back home recovering and wondering ... what next?

Before I write up an article about the race, here's a snippet from the Salt Lake Tribune's online edition:

Just short of a world record

Joggler Michal Kapral came within a minute and a few seconds of the world
record by finishing the Salt Lake City Marathon in 2:53:28.

The record for "fastest marathon while juggling three objects" is 2:52:15,
set at the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2006 by Zach Warren.

On Saturday, Warren clocked in at 2:57:02. Kapral and
Warren stayed with each other for most of the race and alternated leads. From
miles 12-15, Warren had the lead. Then Kapral was ahead for the next two miles.
For about five miles, the runners were even until Kapral took advantage when
Warren took a water break. At the 22-mile mark, Kapral took off.

"At the 24th mile, everything went blank. I was hallucinating. I just
couldn't move forward," Kapral said. "Focusing on juggling, it did help me
relax, but at some point, it does get frustrating. I just wanted to throw the
balls on the side of the road."

Warren hit that point of frustration, too.

"It's psychological warfare," Warren said. "It's so tempting to give
up. I was feeling terrible at mile 12." Even though there is
a rivalry between the runners, there's also respect. "It was
a really good battle," Kapral said. "It was back and forth."

Elite athletes coordinator Larry Barthlow said Kapral would have gotten a
world record Saturday if it wasn't for the altitude.

"He probably lost five or six minutes because of the altitude," Barthlow

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Won the battle, lost the war

Finishing time: 2:53:28, 3 1.2 minutes ahead of Zach. What a race!

I'll be writing a race report when I get home, but it was a joggling battle for the ages. I pulled ahead at 22 miles.

Here's an article.

Thanks for all of your support.

Friday, April 20, 2007

One day

Still packing. It takes a long time to pack when you're travelling with two toddlers. It'll be their first airplane ride.

Wish me luck, or split a beanbag or something.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two days ... DON'T PANIC

Today's plan: Eat carbs, drink water, avoid twisting ankle or dislocating shoulder

Reebok sent me my new gear today and it looks amazing. Unfortunately the new running singlet and shorts weren't ready, so I'll be joggling in last year's yellow and gray kit.

The forecast for Saturday in Salt Lake is a high of 14C and scattered thunderstorms. Let's hope the storms scatter somewhere else during the race.
Thanks for fellow joggler Anders Kierulf, who also happens to live in Salt Lake City, for the link to this article in today's Salt Lake Tribune.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Three days to go ... aaaah!

Three days away from the marathon. Questions on my mind:

1. Will this be my last joggling marathon?

2. Will I sleep in on marathon morning and miss the start of the race?

3. How much does 1,300 metres of altitude affect a joggling marathon record attempt?

4. Will I finally beat Zach in a head-to-head joggling duel?

5. Will I drop a ball at the start of the race?

6. Will I do something embarrassing that will be immortalized in a documentary film and on national Canadian TV?

7. Is marathon joggling inherently embarrassing or heroic?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Four days to go

Today's joggling plan: 6 miles home from work (4 miles at marathon pace)

Yesterday I did an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune. The story should be appearing in Friday's paper. The reporter also interviewed Zach and the race director, Scott Kerr.

Conditions for race day look excellent for a record-breaking joggle: High of 10C, cloudy, 30% chance of showers.

Things should be interesting on the race course. The documentary film crew will have two golf carts covering the joggle-off, and CBC TV is planning to use a motorcycle.

Here's the race video from last year's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. The Joggler makes two appearances at 2:48 and 0:37.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Poor joggling weather at Boston Marathon

I'm very happy that Zach and I agreed not to race the Boston Marathon again this year. Running conditions are atrocious – wind and rain storms – and joggling in this weather would have been suicide.

My weekend was busy with some family fun, and filming with Benjamin from Chump Change Productions. My interview yesterday for the documentary was much better than the one with Evan Solomon because my cold was gone and my allergies were under control.

Good luck to all of my Longboat Roadrunners and friends who are battling the elements in Beantown.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday ... feeling good

It's Friday and I'm feeling fine.

Benjamin, the documentary filmmaker from Chump Change Productions, is going to be shooting some footage of me joggling home through downtown Toronto.

Check out the joggling duel poster (above) that Perry Romanowski put together. Classic!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Flashing seven

Last night I flashed seven.

No it's not what you think. I did not expose myself to seven people. In juggling terms, flashing seven simply means that you throw seven balls up in the air in a cascade pattern, then catch all them. Seven tosses and seven catches. And today I managed to complete 12 catches of seven. This left me only two catches away from a "qualify", which is a full run of twice the number of objects you are juggling.

Alright, so some people can comfortably juggle seven balls for several minutes, but this was a big achievement for me. I was also just happy to be juggling at all, after taking off more than a week with that neck injury.

Today's shoot and sit-down interview with Evan Solomon from CBC News: Sunday was the most fun I've had doing a media interview. Let me just say that I think Evan may be the second-fastest joggler in Toronto.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Joggling for childhood cancer research

My back's back!

After eight days of no running or joggling because of an upper back/neck injury, I hit the road yesterday for a six-mile jaunt home from work. I had no pain and was even able to do some tricks, ignoring warning from my physiotherapist not to do any joggling tricks or five-ball juggling (because the higher tosses force you to look up and crane the neck back).

CBC News: Sunday is filming tomorrow and documentary crew is here on Thursday through the weekend, so it looks like I healed just in time.

I recently set up a link to make online donations to a great charity that I've been raising money for these past few years. It's called A Run For Liane, and all donations go 100% toward childhood cancer research at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

At last year's team meeting for this charity, we were told about some amazing advances in research that have been made in recent years, so to those of you who have donated in the past. your generosity is truly making a difference.

Any donations are greatly appreciated. To make a secure, online, tax deductible contribution, click HERE.

Monday, April 9, 2007

PRESS RELEASE: The Salt Lake City joggle-off

World Record Up for Grabs as ‘Joggling’ Rivals Face Off at Salt Lake City Marathon
TORONTO – The masters of multi-tasking, Michal “The Joggler” Kapral of Toronto and Zach “The Jolly Juggler” Warren of West Virginia, will race for Guinness World Record glory in a “joggling” showdown at the Salt Lake City Marathon on April 21, 2007.

Kapral, 34, senior editor at Captivate Network, and Warren, 25, a laughter researcher at Harvard, will each juggle three beanbags every step of the way as they race against each other along the scenic 26.2-mile marathon course.

The two elite jogglers have been tossing the world record back and forth in a fierce but friendly rivalry since Kapral first set the mark in 2005, with a time of 3 hours and 7 minutes.

Warren edged out Kapral’s record by just 41 seconds two months later at the Philadelphia Marathon and the stage was set for the first ever joggling marathon duel at the famed Boston Marathon. Warren and Kapral attracted international media attention in their marathon joggle-off, with Warren crossing the line first in a new world-record time of 2 hours and 58 minutes.

Kapral stole the record back with a 2:57 performance at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in September 2006. But Warren – with a documentary film crew at his side – again joggled the record back into American hands with a stunning 2:52 in Philadelphia.

“Marathon joggling is a funny sport,” says Kapral, “but this record is seriously difficult. Salt Lake is going to see a no-holds-barred joggling battle and I really want to take the record back.”

Both jogglers are raising money for children’s charities. Kapral is accepting donations for A Run For Liane in support of The Hospital for Sick Children’s new childhood cancer research centre in Toronto, and Warren, also a unicyclist and circus performer, is collecting funds for the Afghan Mobile Mini-Circus for Children, an NGO based in Kabul (

Kapral, a father of two girls, holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest joggling 10K (36 minutes and 27 seconds) and also the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon pushing a baby in a stroller (2 hours and 49 minutes). He won the Toronto Marathon in 2002 (without juggling) in a personal-best time of 2:30. Kapral writes a popular blog called The Bloggling Joggler.

Warren is a Divinity graduate student at Harvard and has been studying the healing effects of laughter on children in Afghanistan. Warren holds the world records for the fastest mile on a unicycle and the fastest mile on a unicycle while juggling three objects.

Guinness World Records rules state that if the joggler drops a ball, he must return to the drop point before continuing. The balls must be juggled continuously in traditional cascade pattern.


Contact: Michal or Dianne Kapral at T:416-690-8887 or C:416-573-3036,

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Running, juggling and joggling inspiration

Still no running, no juggling and no joggling, but my neck is starting to feel better.

During this forced training retreat, I've had some extra time to relax. We finished Season 5 of '24' last night, and I've been getting myself motivated for the upcoming Salt Lake City duel by watching some running, juggling and joggling on YouTube:

Here's the end of Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley's "Duel in the Sun" at the 1982 Boston Marathon. I had hoped that my joggling duel with Zach last year in Boston would end with me pulling away from Zach, just like Salazar did to Beardsley. But instead it was Zach who pulled away from me at the 17-mile mark. In Salt Lake, I plan to reverse this.

For some vintage juggling inspiration, here's Swiss star Kris Kremo:

And Perry "Just Your Average Joggler" Romanowski takes care of the joggling inspiration with this clip of himself joggling up a mountain in Arizona:

Coming soon: The Salt Lake City Marathon joggling duel press release.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Prognosis: good

I have some potentially good news: My physiotherapist says he thinks my neck should be back to normal by next week.

He confirmed my own diagnosis of a severe case of joggleritis – a re-injury of the same neck muscle that I pulled a few months ago doing joggling tricks.

The good doctor did some treatments, after which I was able to hold my head straight up, and even turn my head a little bit without agony.

I also found out that I've been icing the wrong spot. Doh! What a waste of time and frozen sweet peas. But I now have optimism and a plan: rest, ice, heat, massage and Advil.

The Joggler will be back!

Ouch, this really hurts

Ow ow ow ow ow.

I couldn't sleep last night because of whatever I did to my back. It's been four days and it's worse than ever. This morning I have a physio appointment to get a proper diagnosis and hopefully some treatment.

I keep rewinding back to the point where I was lifting that heavy piece of furniture, wishing that I had just put it down when I felt my arm start to pull out of its socket. What an idiot I am!

In less than a week I'm supposed to be teaching Evan Solomon from 'CBC News: Sunday' how to joggle and I can barely move. Benjamin from the documentary film crew is also flying up to Toronto again to do shoot some pre-marathon footage.

This better get better.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Bad back idles joggler

Bummer. The back muscle that I pulled the other day took a turn for the worse and I'm now incapacitated and popping Advil for dessert.

Yesterday was horrible. The pain in my upper back near the right shoulder blade (the erector spinae illiocostalis cervicis, for you anatomy geeks) grew worse and worse by the minute and no position felt comfortable. I got a massage from the Great American Backrub, but it didn't do much. Last night I could barely sleep.

Things do feel a little better today, but I still can't move my head around properly. My brand new joggling Sport balls sit idle in my backpack, taunting me with their irresistible jugglability.

This is the same muscle that I injured about four months ago while doing joggling tricks. I think lifting a heavy armoire on the weekend reinjured it. But I'll survive. There's no way I' m missing this race. I'll joggle it wearing a back-splint if I have to.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Sport Juggling "Joggler" balls have arrived!

Dianne called me at work today to let me know that my new custom-made Sport Juggling Co. balls had arrived in the mail. "They are awesome ... so pretty," she said.

I had forgotten to bring my old beanbags to work, so my run home was just a regular old run with no joggling. It was my first non-joggling run in quite some time. I found myself automatically looking up at hydro wires and street signs to use for juggling tricks. Just when I was starting to get a little bored, I ran into a couple of guys I used to compete against in local road races, who were also running home from work. It was great to talk to them and not have to worry about juggling.

By the time I got home I was really itching to juggle the new beanbags. I was not disappointed. The Sport balls looked incredibly sleek and cool – bright white with "Joggler" in red stitching – and I was hooked right from the first toss. Of course I went straight back out for a test joggle, and man oh man were they a smooth ride! The Ultraleather exterior was soft to the touch, but firm enough for a good, accurate throw, and the 85 g weight was ideal for a comfortable cascade with minimal muscular taxation.

Overall rating for Sport balls: Beauty, eh!

Juggling at Niagara Falls

My apologies for the lack of posts this past week. I've been away in Niagara.

I did some juggling for tourists (and my daughters – that's Annika in the pink coat in the photo) at Niagara Falls.

On Sunday, I went for a really good long run from my mother-in-law's place in Niagara-on-the-Lake along the Niagara Parkway. My legs feel a bit creaky and I have a strained muscle in my back from lifting an armoire, but I think I'll be well-prepared for the marathon.