Tuesday, October 30, 2007

WANTED: Bedside rack for juggling clubs

"Many customers are buying one for each side of the bed." I nearly lost it when I first heard that.

They should design something like this for juggling clubs. I could work on my 3-club patterns before I even get out of bed. And if an intruder comes it – BLAMMO! – a club to the head. The Canadian answer to the shotgun.

Monday, October 29, 2007

How many drops?

Here's a question I get all time as a joggler: How many times do I drop? Riyaad Ali just asked me this in a comment from yesterday's post about Perry Romanowski 50-mile joggling world record. Perry had only four drops during the entire race.

Here's my progression in the marathon:

  • Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2005: 20 drops
  • Boston Marathon 2006: 14 drops
  • Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2006: 8 drops
  • Salt Lake City Marathon 2007: 4 drops
  • Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2007: 2 drops

My typical drop rate these days in about one every 25K. That's about one drop for every 18,000 catches. My 10K world record was drop-free.

Albert Lucas, who once held the marathon joggling record, has joggled several marathons without a single drop.

I drop a lot in training because I'm usually doing tricks.

One thing's for sure: the more you think about not dropping, the more likely you are to drop a ball.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Romanowski smashes 50-mile joggling record

Big news in the joggling world: Perry Romanowski broke the 50-mile joggling world record yesterday in Chicago. His time of 8:23:42 eclipsed Ashrita Furman's mark by nearly half an hour. To top if off, he only had four drops. What a feat!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The fall joggling plan

This photo of 5-ball joggling champ Owen Morse is one of the best joggling shots I've ever seen. As he competes at the 1988 International Jugglers' Association festival, you can see the look of intense concentration on this face as he maintains a perfect 5-ball pattern while sprinting. That combination of speed and coordination is what makes joggling (in my unbiased opinion) the greatest sport in the world.

My plan for the fall is to improve my base running speed with some track work. At the track, I'll also be working on my 5-ball joggling. If I can find a track race that will accept of joggler, I want to go for the 5,000m joggling world record of 16:55 sometime during the winter.

Since I'll be running lower mileage over the next few months, I'm going to use my extra time to look for an advertiser for the Mango velomobile. If anyone knows a company who would be interested in getting their brand on a non-polluting, health-promoting, head-turning vehicle, inquiries can be sent to joggler1@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wisconsin joggler going for mile record

When I first started The Bloggling Joggler, I thought I'd probably run out of joggling-related news after a few months, but here I am nine months later and the updates keep pouring in.

Here's a great piece on a new competitive joggler on the scene. Tyler Wishau is going after the joggling mile record of 4:42:36, set in 2003 by Will Howard. This will be an exciting one to track.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hangin' with Haile in Motor City

(Photo: Detroit Free Press)

A few minutes before the start of Sunday's Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon, the race coordinator called me forward from the first corral to the start line. For a couple of embarrassing minutes I stood there all alone holding my 2:47 pace sign, with several thousand runners staring at me (or so it seemed).

The elite women that I was pacing were then ushered to the line from their warmup area, along with the elite men and their pacer, a small man with a big smile named Haile Gebrselassie. While I was in the midst of briefing the elite American women on my pacing strategy to help them quality for the U.S. Olympic trials, I turned to see Geb strolling to the line with his characteristic grin. We exchanged a quick smile and a nod before I finalized my pacing duties.

When the gun went off, my mind was entirely on getting through the first mile near the 6:22 pace I had to maintain for the whole marathon, but looking back, it's amazing to think that I was lined up at the start of a marathon not two metres away from one of – if not the – greatest distance runner in history.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A wicked pace

(Photo: Detroit Free Press)

The place: The 2007 Detroit Marathon.

My job: To run even splits of 6:22 per mile for a 2:47:00 marathon to pace the U.S. elite women looking to qualify for the Olympic trials.

The race: Haile Gebrselassie, who now – as Adeel puts it – holds the world record for the fastest non-joggling marathon, was there to pace the men's leaders through 10 miles. I saw him at the start but didn't get a chance to talk to him. I was too busy focusing on the task at hand.

I got the small group of elite women through the first mile in just over 6:30. After that, some pulled ahead a bit and I tried to run even splits. At the half I was behind by about a minute, which I had lost with a few slower miles early on.

At about 17 miles, I regained the exact pacing for 2:47 and stuck with it for the rest of the race. There were hopeful trials-qualifiers with me at various points of the race, and it pained me when I had to let them go, but this train had to keep it moving.

Holding onto those 6:22 miles proved to be more of a challenge than I expected because there was a fierce headwind for last five miles. I was carrying a pacing sign that said "2:47" that produced some serious wind drag and I had been using up a lot of energy encouraging and talking to other runners along the way, so I was really fighting it in the last few miles.

With one mile to go, I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep up the pace. It was going to very close. Then I as approached the finish line, I heard the announcer yell: "Here's the 2:47 pacer, and look at this, he's going to be in at EXACTLY 2:47!!! How perfect a pacer is that?!"

Sure enough, the clock struck 2:47:00 as my foot hit the mat. It was a great feeling to get that one right on, but I wished the two women behind me could've been there with me. Laurie Knowles ran a 2:47:46, but she had qualified already in another race. I was really hoping that another top American runner, Marybeth Reader, would make in under 2:47. She made a valiant effort to fight through the wind, but I had to leave her at about Mile 22 and she finished in 2:50.

I can barely walk today. My legs are feeling the effects of two tough marathons only three weeks apart, but the Detroit pacing experience was something to remember.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Believe it or not, I'm running without juggling

This will be my last post before running the Detroit Marathon as a pacer for the U.S. women's Olympic trials qualifying time of 2:47:00. Detroit will be my first non-joggling marathon is a few years and I'm really looking forward to being able to drink Gatorade without stopping.

I've been hired to run exact splits of 6:22 per mile for the whole race, clickity-click, and will be equipped with a Sprint cellphone GPS that will keep track of my time for each mile. I'll be a human metronome.

Today, I was flipping through a copy of the Ripley's Believe It Or Not book and came across a section that described my joggling duel against Zach Warren in the 2006 Boston Marathon. They spelled my first name wrong, but it's still pretty cool to be in the book.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Velomobiles on 'The Hour'

First, George Stroumboulopoulos talked about my joggling record, now CBC's 'The Hour' has a feature on velomobiles. I should watch that show more often to learn about my life.

Go to http://goodidea.cbc.ca/ to vote on velombiles being a "good idea."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This one's for all of you suburbanites...

(via inventorspot – thanks to Perry for the link)
I have no grass on my front lawn, but if I did, I'd get one of these for sure. They should make a recumbent version, though.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fit friends: Tara's triumph

On the same day my friend Charles Bedley won the Toronto Marathon, Tara Norton, a childhood friend and pro triathlete, placed 12th in the Hawaii Ironman. Her time of 9:41 was a huge PB under sweltering conditions in Kona. Simply amazing.

From Tara's website:
October 13, 2007 - Ironman World Championship - On one of the hottest race days on record in Hawaii, Tara finished 12th overall in a time of 9:41:03. Tara's 5:11:15 bike split propelled her from 28th after the swim to 9th place at the start of the run. Over the course of the marathon there were many positional changes amongst the top-15 women. Tara is thrilled with her best Hawaii finish to date and will report more in her "Thoughts" shortly.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Charles Bedley wins 2007 Toronto Marathon

Wow! My old training partner Charles Bedley just won the 2007 Toronto Marathon (the one that's not the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon) in a blistering time of 2:21:58. It looks like Bedley and Edmonton's Matthew Norminton flew through the half in 1:08 and Charlie hung on for the win.

This is the same race that I won in 2002, so each of us has taken the crown, only he was almost nine minutes faster.

Way to go, Charlie!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Monkeying around at the Oasis ZooRun

Today's Oasis ZooRun was my first race since breaking the joggling marathon world record. It was also the most fun I've had in a race ... ever. And I've run a lot of races. I felt very relaxed; I had no time goal; I didn't care if I dropped. I was there to entertain people and enjoy myself ... and I did.

Finish time: 38 minutes and change.

After the race, I went over the Reebok booth to teach people how to juggle. Some people asked me for autographs. When this happened, there was a long pause where I looked at them waiting for a "Just joking!" But no, there are some actual Joggler groupies out there. This is serious stuff.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Joggling the ZooRun

This is me driving the Mango velo to work. The camerawork is shaky, but the actual ride is very smooth due to the double suspension.

On Saturday, I'll be joggling the ZooRun 10K at the Toronto Zoo, then hanging out at the Reebok joggling booth and giving joggling tutorials.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Perry and Barry joggling in Chicago

Here's a clip of Perry joggling to a 3:59 in the Chicago heatwave.

Perry said five-ball joggler Barry Goldmeier also joggled it but was likely forced to stop when the race was cancelled. I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like juggling five beanbags in 31 C temperatures.

Will The Joggler get to meet Gebrselassie?

When I signed up to run as a pacer at the Detroit Marathon for the U.S. women's Olympic trials qualifying time of 2:47, Haile Gebrselassie was the last person I expected would be at the race. But officials have confirmed that the Ethiopian star will in fact run a portion of the race on October 21.

I hope to meet the man who set the marathon world record of 2:04:26 in Berlin on the same day that I set the joggling world record of 2:50:09 in Toronto (not that I'm comparing myself to the greatest distance runner the world has ever seen, but I would like the chance to tell him about my record, and maybe get him to try joggling).

If Geb is out for an easy run in Detroit, would he run as slow as 2:47 pace? I don't know if he could run that slow. I suspect his easy pace would be around 5:10 per mile.

In other news, 'CBC News: Sunday' did an update on the joggling saga. Dianne and I watched it, laughing and cheering all the way through.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hot air and a win by a hair in Windy City

Chicago, who's politicians "blowing a lot of wind" may have inspired the nickname Windy City, suffered from hot air of the literal variety on marathon Sunday. Temperatures soared to 31 C and organizers were forced to cut the race short after three-and-half hours. To make matters worse, aid stations ran out of water and Gatorade.

To add to the craziness, both the men's and women's elite races featured astoundingly close finishes.

Morocco's Jaouad Gharib was edged out by Kenyan Patrick Ivuti in a photo finish worthy of a 100m dash. Five one-hundredths of a second separated the two marathoners.

In the women's race, Romanian Adriana Pirtea appeared to have the race locked up with a few hundred metres to go. She high-fived spectators and appeared relaxed on the final straightaway. Little did she know that Ethiopia's Berhane Adere had gone into a maniacal sprint behind her and zoomed past the oblivious Pirtea just before the finish line on the far side of the road. Adere didn't even go through the winner's tape, which was being held on the other side of the line for the hapless Romanian.

A huge congratulations to Perry Romanowski, who managed to joggle this furnace of a race in 3:59.

Monday, October 8, 2007

3 beanbags, 3 sticks of gum, one joggling world record

A few minutes before the race start, on the morning of the most important day of my career as a marathon joggler, I got some distressing news.

"You can't go through here," the race official told me. "Elites only. You have to go around."

"But," I protested, "I'm The Joggler!"

"Sorry. Go around," the woman said, unmoved.

So around I ran, sprinting a full city block to the entrance for the "sub-elites," and made it into the corral just before the 7 a.m. start time of the 2007 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

I had just enough time to pop three sticks of gum into my mouth, catch my breath from the pre-race sprint, shake my arms out and start juggling the three white Sportballs in my hands. The horn sounded and off we went, into the Toronto dawn – 9,000 runners and one joggler.

It was a beautiful morning for a marathon. Before the start of the race, we heard that Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie had broken the world record for the marathon in Berlin earlier that day, lowering the mark to 2:04:26. I took this as a sign; I had to set a world record on the same day as my hero Haile.

Running this marathon felt like coming home to an old friend. This was my fourth year in a row racing the Waterfront and I had set Guinness World Records each the past three times, one for the fastest marathon while pushing a baby in a stroller and twice for the fastest three-ball "joggling" marathon.

This year, I was once again trying to reclaim my joggling world record from my American joggler rival, Zach Warren, who had run a sizzling 2:52:15 in Philadelphia in November 2006.

Earlier this year, Zach and I duked it out at the Salt Lake City Marathon. I won the joggling battle by four minutes over Zach, but fell just over a minute short of the world record. 'CBC News: Sunday' documented the duel with a jogglingly stunning 15-minute report that led off the show on national TV in Canada. The piece was funny and moving, but it also forced me to watch myself come to a dead stop twice near the end of the race, as the world record slipped away. I yelled at my TV: "Don't just stand there, you idiot!" But it was no use.

After the Salt Lake disappointment, I announced my retirement from the sport of joggling. I felt it was time to do something "important," like help save the planet, or maybe feed my family and do some gardening. But the lure of record-breaking was too much to resist. As I said in the documentary Breaking and Entering, "I don't want to say I'm the second-best joggler in the world. It's like, how many are there, two?" Knowing my obsession, my wife Dianne told me: "Give it one more shot in Toronto." A few weeks later, I came out of retirement for one more shot at joggling glory.

Juggling two jobs and two kids, I fit in my training whenever and wherever I could, usually joggling home from work in downtown Toronto. It was the most fun I've ever had training for a marathon. I did tricks and bounced beanbags off street signs and walls. People along my route learned who I was and said things like, "Get that record back."

I had also decided to add a new twist: I would run the whole thing while chewing gum. When people saw me joggling, I heard a lot of comments like, "Yeah, but can you chew gum while you do that?" I started to chew gum in training, for my own personal amusement, and so I could tell those people, "Yes, in fact, I can chew gum while running and juggling." I tried, for real, to get a chewing gum sponsorship from Wrigley, but they advised me that running while chewing their product was a potentially dangerous activity.

Every day, I ran past a bus shelter with the Reebok Run Easy ad that said "Run to the beat of your own drummer." I always got a good smile out of that one. The folks at Reebok saw the connection too, and put together a joggling ad campaign based on the tag line.

About 5K into the marathon, I was joined by the documentary film crew that has been following the joggling saga for the past year. They filmed the rest of the race from a golf cart.

The lightweight Sportballs felt easy to toss and I focused on staying relaxed and on pace. I hit 10K in 39:30 with no drops. The gum was still bursting with flavour. I had planned to cycle through three or four sets of gum, with the first switch time at the one-hour mark. But at one hour, the gum still tasted good, and I was on a roll at 2:49 marathon pace, so I just kept chewing and joggling.

The cheering sections were insanely loud. I wasted precious energy laughing through the noise. I stopped a couple of times for Gatorade to prevent a glycogen crash in the later stages of the race.

The halfway point went by in a drop-free 1:24.

At 25.5K, I finally had my first drop. I don't know what happened. I just reached for the ball and it wasn't there. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go back to the start of the race if you drop; you just start again from behind where the ball fell.

The next 10K started to get very tough, but I had saved enough energy to push through it and stay focused. With about 5K to go, I hit that point in the marathon where your body tells your brain that it would be really nice to stop for a while. Before the start of the race, Dianne told me, "Michal, don't stop. Whatever happens, no matter how much it hurts, don't stop."

These words echoed in my head in those final few kilometres. I repeated them over and over. Don't stop, don't stop, don't stop. I would not stop. I could feel myself slowing down, but I did not want a repeat of Salt Lake. Don't stop, don't stop, don't stop.

At 40K, I wanted to spit the gum out because it had finally lost most of its flavour, but I couldn't do it. That gum was coming along with me to the finish line, I decided. It was going to be part of the record.

On the last 400m straightaway, I didn't know if I was under the record time or not. My friend George came running alongside me and gave me the good news: I was going to do it. Relief. Elation.

In the final sprint to the end I saw the clock at 2:49:51 and in a mad dash to crack 2:50, I dropped for the second time. After a quick regrouping, I joggled in at 2:50:12, a new Guinness World Record. I was literally leaping for joy as I crossed the line.

NDP Leader Jack Layton presented me with an arrangement of flowers, which I gave to Dianne for supporting her insane husband in his kooky endeavours ... and especially for telling me not to stop.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Weekend joggling coverage

For those of you in Canada, the main CBC-TV network is airing coverage of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon from 4-6 p.m. And if you're outside of Canada, you can watch it online at http://www.cbcsports.ca/. Let's see if they include a little joggling coverage in there.

'CBC News: Sunday' is also going to do a brief update on the record.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My 'Hour' of fame, and a CBC slideshow update

This is me after the final turn, 500 m from the end. I was staring so intently at the finish line, you can almost see fire bursting out of my eyes. At this point I still had no idea whether I would break the record, but seconds later my friend George Hubbard from Longboat Roadrunners joined me, yelling to the crowd: "He's got the world record!!!" Those were the sweetest words a joggling marathoner could ever hear. Thanks, George. (Photo by A Whole Lot of Soles.)

On Tuesday, George Stroumboulopoulos did a bit on The Hour about my record, and even put up a photo of me jogglng the Boston Marathon. George said if I could joggle the marathon with chainsaws next year, I'd get a spot on the show. I sent him an e-mail telling him that Evan Solomon joggled on national TV, and that if he has the balls to do it, I'd teach him. No response yet.

Also on the CBC, Peter Hadzipetros updated his joggler slideshow to include the new record. CBC.ca even put it back on their main page yesterday.

So what's next? A little rest, then I'm running the Detroit Marathon as a pacer for the U.S. women's Olympics Trials qualification time of 2:47 on October 21. I'll be running this one sans Sportballs.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Exclusive: World record joggling video

This is me at 37K. It looks like I'm crawling, but I was actually still running close to 4 mins./km. (Video by Wayne Cheung)

Somebody updated Wikipedia's joggling entry already.

Monday, October 1, 2007

After the record: aching legs, tired arms, sore ... jaw?

I think I've turned NDP Leader Jack Layton into a big joggling fan (photo courtesy of STWM).

A brief rundown of the race:

Chip time (which will be used for the Guinness World Record): 2:50:09.

Gun time: 2:50:12.

Number of drops: 2 (one at 25.5K, one just before the finish line as I tried to sprint in for sub-2:50 - doh!).

Gum chewing: Yes, I did succeed in chewing gum throughout the entire race! I began chewing three sticks of Extra Bubblemint about two minutes from the start and had planned to rotate through a whole pack, but ended up chewing the same three pieces for two hours and 50 minutes.