Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Around the Bay start line

This photo by John Chou was taken just before the start of the Around the Bay 30K. I love the look on Joseph Nderitu's face (#3).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Joggling Around the Bay

The Around the Bay Road Race 30K Joggling Extravaganza

I treat the Around the Bay 30K with reverence. It's been around for 113 years. Several running legends have raced it and then gone on to win the Boston Marathon.

So when I lined up for the race on Sunday with three yellow juggling beanbags, I got the funny feeling that I sometimes get when I joggle through a cemetery, or when I joggled in the Boston Marathon last year, that I was debasing a grand tradition by throwing juggling into the mix.

Those thoughts just turned to embarrassment when race announcer came over the loudspeaker saying: "I see The Joggler is here. The Guinness World Record holder for the fastest marathon while juggling, set at last year's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon."

When the gun went off, I blasted out near the front with a good, clean, drop-free start. I found a good groove and settled into a manageable pace that I figured was about a four-minute kilometre. At 3K I had my first drop. Sometimes it's nice to get it over with early. While I was picking up the stray beanbag, a big pack of runners went zooming past me. I quickly resumed my joggling pattern and caught up to them.

The comments from spectators kept me entertained. I heard: "That's impossible!" and "You have GOT to be kidding!" And of course the requisite "High five!"

At 10K, I saw a clock for the first time and it read 37:45. Was I hallucinating? The pace felt pretty comfortable, so I decided I'd try to maintain it.

Around the halfway point, we ran over a bridge with a fairly wide grating, and I suddenly realized that if I dropped a ball, it would fall right through! Panic! Toss, catch, toss, catch, don't drop don't drop please please oh please don't drop! I didn't drop.

Through Burlington, I hit the rolling hills and tried to focus on pushing the running pace, keeping the juggling nice and relaxed and maintaining a good arm swing. At the top the famous Cardiac Hill at 25K, I still felt strong.

The final three kilometres were downhill into downtown Hamilton and as I cruised down the street, I began to wonder whether I would finish the entire race with only one drop. That, naturally, was when I dropped a ball for the second time.

I launched into a little cursing fit, which I'm sure was a good show for the spectators nearby, then picked up the ball and was on my way again. But I had joggled 25K without a drop – a personal best.

Just before the finish I got nervous again and had two more drops – both less than 50 metres from the end. The last drop was right inside Copps Coliseum. I didn't mind because it allowed me to savour the finish for an extra few seconds.

Finish time: 1:54:44 and a 30K joggling world record. 

Monday, March 26, 2007

Joggler in Around the Bay Road Race video

This photo was taken by Cathie Coward from the Hamilton Spectator. I have a funny look on my face because I think I was singing "Run Lola Run" at the time. I sometimes sing while I joggle to help me relax, but it doesn't make for very good facial expressions in photos. Here's the link to the story on the Spec's website.

In this video of the Around the Bay Road Race from the Spectator, you can see The Joggler at the start. I'm wearing yellow and running at the front in the bottom right. It's really hard to tell that I'm juggling. I had to watch it a few times to be sure it was me, and then pinched myself to make sure that that this whole joggling thing wasn't just a dream.

I will try to write a race report shortly. Thanks to everyone who cheered along the course. And thanks especially to Dianne for bringing the kids out to watch their eccentric dad joggle into the history books (not sure which history books yet – perhaps The Complete History of Endurance Joggling?).

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Around the Bay – ready, set, joggle!

Today's plan: eat carbs, drink water

I'm ready to go for Around the Bay tomorrow. No running today, just juggling tricks at home.

I'll be using my old Higgins Brothers beanbags because the new Sport Juggling Co. balls haven't arrived yet.

My goal is to go sub-2 hours, but I'd still be happy with a 2:05 or so. My PB for the course without joggling is 1:43, giving me 17 minutes to account for the juggling.
Dianne and the kids are coming along to watch the finish in Copps Coliseum, and to hang out with Longboat Roadrunners friends.

Good luck to all of you other Around the Bay racers.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Smoking and joggling don't mix

Today's joggling plan: 6 miles (home from work)

While I love that fact that Toronto has banned smoking in bars and restaurants, it means that all of those smokers are now hanging around puffing on city sidewalks.

Joggling through downtown Toronto, I do a lot of dodging and weaving around smokers – so much so, in fact, that even while juggling I can spot a lit cigarette from a block away, and take appropriate avoidance measures. There's nothing worse than inhaling a big lungful of tobacco smoke while joggling at high speed.

I'm going to lobby the government for a ban on smoking within 15 metres of all passing jogglers.

The Around the Bay 30K is in two days. My nerves are joggling around like crazy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sore all over – time to taper

Today's joggling plan: 10 miles

Zach and I get to joggle on live TV. We have an interview confirmed with KUTV in Salt Lake City on April 20, the day before the race. They're doing the segment outside, so they can get some quality joggling footage.

I did some joggling speed intervals yesterday, followed by 3-club juggling practice. I feel sore all over today.

The rest of the week will be easy joggling to taper for the Around the Bay 30K this Sunday. If I can finish the 30K, I'm guaranteed to set a personal joggling best for the distance, since it's my first 30K joggle. I'm also guaranteed to set a course record for joggling, and possibly a world record too. I haven't heard of anyone joggling a 30-km race ... ever.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Joggler a complete klutz

Today's joggling plan: 8 miles

I am a total klutz.

True, I have joggled a half-marathon without dropping a ball in one hour and 22 minutes; I can juggle five objects and perform dozens of juggling tricks. I can stand on top of a stability ball and do squats.

But three recent incidents have convinced me that when I’m not trying to do something that takes coordination, I’m a klutzy dork.

1) The other day I was joggling on a 22-mile long run. At one point I wanted to cross the street, but had to step over a little metal barrier, so I stopped joggling and went to step over the obstacle. Bam! My knee smashed right into it. When I got home I discovered that my running tights were covered in blood from a big gash in my leg.

2) After joggling home from work through ice and snow a couple of weeks ago. I made it safely to my house, but when I stopped joggling and went to walk between two parked cars. Wham! I slipped on a patch of ice and smashed my shoulder into the road.

3) A couple of nights ago, I spent about an hour working on a 5-ball juggling routine. I went upstairs to brush my teeth and at the top of the stairs … BONK! My head cracked loudly into the door frame leading into the bathroom. I was left with a swelling and bleeding cut on my left eyebrow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Sport Juggling Company sponsors The Joggler

Today's joggling plan: 0 miles (sore ankle needs rest)
I've got balls!
Sport Juggling Company, maker of the world-famous Sport balls, is now The Joggler's official sponsor for joggling beanbags. They'll be producing an 85 g custom marathon joggling beanbag for me. I can't wait to give these a test run.
This is my first official joggling sponsorship. Reebok has been sponsoring me for shoes and apparel for three years, but I signed on with them based solely on my running, in my pre-Joggler days.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A blister and a potential sponsorship

Today's joggling plan: 6 miles

Yesterday I missed my long run. We were in Niagara-on-the-Lake at my mother-in-law's place and when my alarm went off at 5 a.m., I calmly turned it off, rolled over and fell straight back to sleep until 10. It was heaven.

Dianne and her mom encouraged me to go for my joggle before noon, but no dice; I just didn't feel like running. I had (and still have) a big painful blister on the ball of my foot and also had a bit of a strained muscle in my ankle.

I did do some juggling practice with my nephew, who is six and already learning how to juggle.

On the weekend, I also got some good news: A company that sells juggling beanbags with a stellar reputation is interested in becoming my beanbag sponsor. Hopefully, things will get finalized soon.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Joggling in record-breaking documentary

Today's joggling plan: rest (5-ball juggling practice, no running)

The Joggler will appear alongside other record-holders, including a guy who rips phone books in half and a human cannonball, in an upcoming documentary called "Breaking and Entering".

The crew will be filming me and Zach in our duel at the Salt Lake City Marathon next month (next month, whoa!).

Follow this link for the movie trailer.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Guinness World Records certificate unveiled!

Today's joggling plan: 10 miles

Here it is: the Guinness World Records certificate for the 10km joggle. This one has a shiny Guinness sticker in the bottom right that my other certificates don't have. Hopefully they'll put this record into an upcoming Guinness Book. It would be a great promotion for the Longboat Toronto Island Run.

I joggled home yesterday right after eating a big dinner out at a restaurant. I'm usually pretty good at running right after eating, but a large meal and two glasses of wine – Malivoire Pinot Noir and Kenwood Pinot Noir – made me queasy. I was joggling with my old Exerballs that weigh about five times more than the small Higgins Brothers beanbags, and I really have no idea how I joggled an entire marathon in 3:07 using these. They feel great to juggle, but my biceps were burning after about 10 minutes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Look Mom – The Joggler!

Today's joggling plan: 6 miles (home from a restaurant)

One of the highlights of being a joggler is watching kids' reactions.

On yesterday's joggle home from work, I was doing speedwork and joggled at full throttle past a mother and her daughter, who appeared to be about seven or eight years old. As I approached, I heard the mother say "Look at that! That is cool!" And after I had passed by, I heard the daughter say "I know Mom, that's The Joggler!" Somehow this young girl had heard about me, but not her mother.

In general, the kids have a much less restrained reaction to joggling than the adults. They do a lot of yelling and exclaiming at high volume, which always makes me laugh. The other day, I joggled past a long lineup of teenagers outside some kind of concert venue. One guy near the front of the line pointed at me as I joggled toward them and yelled, at the top of his lungs: "The man is running and juggling!!!" Suddenly, the whole lineup erupted into cheers and applause. I couldn't believe it: the exact demographic that I expected would taunt, jeer and possibly beat up The Joggler were clapping and cheering. Toronto rocks.

My wife called to let me know that my Guinness World Records certificate arrived in the mail today for the 10K joggling record. When I get home tonight, I'm going to raise it above my head and let out a barbaric Braveheart yawp.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Joggler not a normal neighbour

Today's joggling plan: 6 miles (home from work)

My neighbours think I'm nuts.

They thought I was eccentric even before I began my joggling career, because I was running all the time. They'd be out fixing up their houses or trimming their hedges or doing some other normal thing, and I'd be heading out for a run, usually wearing a tiny amount of clothing, as we runners are apt to do.

Now that I'm The Joggler, things have gone even further off the "crazy neighbour" charts.

A typical scenario: My neighbour and I are both heading out the door at the same time.

"Hey Michal," the neighbour says. "I'm going to play hockey with the boys and then it's off to a pub for a few brewskis afterward."

"Cool," says The Joggler. "I'm going to go running while juggling these three yellow beanbags for three-hours wearing short shorts in the middle of the winter ... alone. See ya!"

Monday, March 12, 2007

Joggler feels the weight of Canadian pop culture on his shoulders

Today's planned joggle: 6 miles (home from work)

My legs and shoulders are both feeling pulverized today after yesterday's 24-mile joggling jaunt. Today's joggle will be a very easy recovery run.

Unfortunately, my backpack will be heavier than usual because I bought a few clothes at lunchtime that I need to cart home, and I also need to take home my book – JPod by Douglas Coupland – so I can read it on the subway tomorrow. So far, JPod is good, but even the paperback version is a little above the weight limit for a joggler's backpack.

Since I began running home from work, I've chosen both my wardrobe and reading materials based on weight. Heavy jackets and pants are out, as are thick-soled shoes. Vikram Seth, Wally Lamb and Tolstoy will never find their way into my knapsack.

I started up a discussion on Running Mania about runners who commute on two legs, so I know I'm not alone here.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Joggling beanbags seek out muddy puddles

Today's joggling mileage: 24 miles

It's hard to joggle for 24 miles. It's even harder when you've enjoyed one too many tumblers of Scotch (Lagavulin 16-year-old) with your brother-in-law the night before. Despite these challlenges, I managed to drag my sorry Bloggling Joggler butt out the door.

The Sunday long joggle began slowly and tentatively, but eventually progressed into 6:30/mile race pace.

For some reason, I was all thumbs today; I must have had about 30 drops. Some of them were caused by me trying to do various juggilng tricks, but many of them were just careless. And it seemed like every time I dropped a ball, it would roll into a dirty puddle. The route was mostly clear, but there were some puddles left by melting ice. My beanbags enjoyed baths in most of these.

Friday, March 9, 2007

"Holy...!" "Oh my...!" "What the...!?"

Yesterday's joggling mileage: 10 miles

It's all about the speed. Last night's 10-mile joggling extravaganza included 6 x 1 mile speed intervals with two minutes of jogging (joggle jogging?) in between each. I got a rush out of blasting past pedestrians and hearing little snippets of exclamations, like "No waaay!" "Cool!" "You rock!" "That guy's...!" "Holy...!" "Oh my...!" and "What the...!?"

You may be wondering why I log my distances in miles rather than kilometres, given that I live in the metric nation of Canada. (You may also be wondering why I spend such a significant chunk of my life trying to set obscure Guinness World Records, but that's another issue that I'm still trying to resolve in my own mind.)

The main reason for using miles is that joggling 10 miles seems much more manageable to me than 16 km. Kilometres simply psyche me out. Joggling is quite bit harder than running, so I'd rather have larger units of measurement. A 20-mile long joggle – piece of cake. A 36-km joggle – forget it, too many units.

The other logic of measuring in miles is that four laps around a standard outdoor track equal one mile (or just shy of a mile, if you want to get technical), so it makes things easier to calculate in terms of track workouts. Even when I'm doing intervals on the road, I usually think in terms of half-mile, one-mile and two-mile intervals.

And finally, the Salt Lake City Marathon is in the U.S. – that stubborn non-metric holdout – so I might as well get used to setting my pace in miles. I remember the first time I ran the Boston Marathon after training in kilometres, having no clue whether of not I was on pace. I recall crossing the 10-mile marker, looking at the clock thinking: "I have no idea what that means." What it meant, I would discover much later, was that I was running way too fast, and would end up completing the historic road race looking like a very sick, inebriated geriatric.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

It's official – The Bloggling Joggler is the fastest 10K joggler in the world

I'll raise a pint to this: Despite my lack of video footage, the representatives at Guinness World Records have officially accepted my 10K joggling world record. My time of 36 minutes and 27 seconds surpassed the previous record by five minutes.

Thank you to my official witnesses, especially to Roger Moss, who ran the whole thing next to me or just behind me and was able to verify that I joggled every step of the way, and that I ran it "clean" (ie. no drops).

As a member of the Longboat Roadrunners, I was happy to set the record at the historic, beautiful and flat Longboat Toronto Island Run.

Here's what it says today on my online Guinness World Records account:

Fastest 10km while juggling three objects -

Congratulations! Your record has been approved and a
certificate has been
sent to the address provided in your profile. If you
you need to order
additional certificates, please use the option on the

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

My plan to reclaim the marathon joggling title

Today's joggling plan: Rest and drink some beer (Mill St. Tankhouse Ale)

At last September's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I set a new Guinness World Record for joggling in a time of 2 hours, 57 minutes and 44 seconds. Two months later, Zach Warren, who seems to be making a habit out of this, smashed my young record with a sizzling 2:52:15.

So the question is: How does this Bloggling Joggler plan to shave 5 1/2 minutes off his previous time? Here is the plan:

1) Pray to the wind gods for a less gusty marathon day.
2) Switch to smaller, lighter beanbags – harder to catch but easier on the arms.
3) Use Zach to help pace me to a faster time.
4) Train harder – so far, so good.
5) Improve my juggling skills.
6) Avoid losing 2 minutes at the end of the race by frantically scrambling to pick up dropped beanbags while trying to joggle through a dark underpass (this happened in Toronto).

That should do it.

Thanks to USA Today's sports blog for mentioning The Bloggling Joggler today:

"Our apologies for not getting to the "bloggling joggler" today, but best of luck in your marathon showdown. Multitasking is getting out of hand these days. It's hard to keep focused on your wow what a goal for Barcelona new publishing system takes permalinks apple juice."

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I really hope my fingers don't fall off tonight

Today's joggling plan: 6 miles (home from work, with 5 2-minute intervals)

I'm on my way for a 6-mile speed joggle home from work in a few minutes. It's -22C with windchill. Joggling into a cold wind makes your fingers freeze no matter how many pairs of gloves you wear, because you can't scrunch your fingertips into your palm to keep them warm.

I plan to use mental strength to ward off the frostbite, and maybe a bit of yelling and screaming.

I'm doing speed intervals today, which will make things even more challenging. Running fast while juggling can be tough because as your arms pump faster to generate more speed, you can end up tossing the balls much too high. You have to correct this by holding onto the beanbags a little tighter and releasing each one just a touch later than usual. Once you gather up speed, you also have to start tossing the balls further forward so they don't collide with your nose. And with my big nose, I need to be especially mindful of this.

Off I go...

Monday, March 5, 2007

Bloggling on Google

Today's planned joggle: 6 miles (home from work)

A recent Googling of the word "bloggling" puts The Bloggling Joggler's blog at No. 2, just behind a site for people with mental illness (somehow fitting). This is somehow very exciting to me. There are very few jogglers in the world, and there are even fewer blogglers, but I'm going to keep joggling, juggling, joggling and bloggling until my arms, legs, fingers and brain ache.

Now, I'm off for my commute, a 10K "easy" joggle home from work – or as easy as it gets running through downtown Toronto while juggling and wearing a backpack.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Run, Joggler, Run!

Today's joggling mileage: 23 miles (one espresso stop and one stop to visit parental units)

A few years ago, before I started joggling, I used to keep track in my training log of the number of times someone said to me: "Run, Forrest, run!" If there are any non-runners reading this, please never, ever say these words to a runner. We have all heard it at least 6,000 times and it wasn't even funny the first time.

Looking back at my training log, there were some days when I got three or four Run, Forrest, Runs over the course of a single 10-miler. Maybe there was something about me that attracted more Run, Forrest, Runs than other runners -- all I know is that I got really sick of it really fast.
Much to my sheer delight, when I morphed into The Joggler, the Run, Forrest, Runs came to an abrupt and merciful end. Now I get a much wider variety of comments from pedestrians and drivers.

As The Joggler, I do still occasionally have to contend with jokes about balls. Note to any non-jugglers reading this: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, TRY TO CRACK JOKES ABOUT BALLS TO A JUGGLER OR A JOGGLER. They are just as weary of this as runners are to the dreaded Run, Forrest, Runs.

Today's training run was a killer. Twenty-three miles of joggling is never easy and today I maintained a pretty good pace – most of it at about 6:30/mile and the last two miles with a tailwind at 5:20/mile.

And I remembered to wash my hat.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Guinness World Records assessing The Joggler's 10K claim

It's great to see that The Bloggling Joggler has some readers (or skimmers, at least), including some from Europe and China. I will do my best to keep you entertained and informed about the world of competitive joggling. If you find me boring and pedantic, then you can always go visit the world's only other joggling blog: Just Your Average Joggler.

I heard back from Guinness World Records about my 10K joggling world record claim, and they were hoping a had video footage of the whole race. Because the Longboat Island Race is on a narrow footpath, this wasn't practical, so I relied on independent witnesses to certify the record. The Guinness rep told me he will continue to assess my claim without video. I hope the record gets certified because that race really hurt and I don't want to go through that again.

Today is sunny and the streets look clear, so a nice 8-mile joggle is in order.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Hatless joggler heads into storm

Yesterday's joggling mileage: 10 miles (into a 50 km/h headwind, ice pellets and a foot of snow on the ground)

Equivalent number of miles based on effort: 3,642

It was a dark and stormy night...

And The Joggler was determined to complete his training run.

A big winter storm hit Toronto yesterday. It made news headlines, some of which I wrote myself at work (as a news editor for Captivate Network). After work, I was training a client in the west end, then I planned to joggle home through the downtown core and into the east end where I live.

In the afternoon, my wife called me and strongly urged me not to run home. My client called asking if our session was still on. I was ready to train and ready to run, but little did I know that this would be one of the most difficult joggles ever.

After the training session, I put on my backpack, took out my beanbags and set out for home. As luck would have it, I was heading directly into a 50 km/h headwind with ice pellets and blowing snow, and sometimes a foot of snow on the ground. I had wrongly assumed that shops and restaurants would have ploughed their sidewalks.

With the slippery terrain, I felt like I was running the wrong way on one of those moving platforms you see at airports. Every step forward took me three-quarters of a step back. The wind felt like a sumo wrestler was continually pushing me backward. Plus, the stacks of wet snow on the ground meant the footing was roughly equivalent to running on piles of lumpy, day-old oatmeal mixed with carpenter glue. My feet were juggling as much as my arms.

It took all the concentration in the world to keep juggling. Often I had to jump one way as I reached in the other direction to grab an errant beanbag that was swept up in a sudden gust of wind. I could barely keep my eyes open because of the ice pellets and snow, but just managed to make out the yellow balls being tossed around by the wind.

To make matters worse, I had no hat. Two days earlier, my trusty toque had fallen into a muddy puddle and I hadn't washed it yet.

As I ran across the Bloor Street Viaduct – a bridge that spans Toronto's Don Valley – the street lights went dark. A car on the other side of the road drove through such a big puddle that the water sprayed all the way across two lanes of traffic and hit me in the side of the head where my hat should have been.

Over the edge of the bridge, I saw an endless line of cars sitting bumper-to-bumper on the Don Valley Parkway. Despite being partially soaked by the passing car and struggling to move forward as I juggled into the wind, I was very, very happy to not be sitting in a car stuck in a traffic jam. I felt liberated. I also felt kind of insane.

Back at home I got Dianne to snap the picture (above) of me joggling down our street. I needed photo documentation of this run – it was a joggle for the ages.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Joggling tricks of the trade

When the Around the Bay Road Race signed me up with an elite number (yes, The Joggler managed to get himself classified as an elite – a breakthrough in recognition for the sport) they put "Joggler" as my profession on the form. This gave me a good chuckle since I have yet to gain a single penny for my efforts (excluding the many thousands of dollars in donations to A Run For Liane). But someday, who knows, I might get a good sponsor.

I recently put a pitch in to Wrigley to see if they want to sponsor me as the ultimate multi-tasker. I offered to chew gum as I run a marathon while juggling.

And now for some joggling tricks. You can do pretty much any three-ball trick while you're running, but some of them work much better than others because of the natural arm swing that goes with the running motion. Plus, you can add some extra fun stuff when you're in motion.

1) The Hydro Wire High Toss: This is one of my favourites. When you're joggling down the street toss a high ball up and over a hydro wire and resume joggling when the beanbag comes down on the other side.

2) Mills' Mess Zig-Zag: Mills' Mess, a pattern where you continually cross and uncross your arms as the balls float around in an infinity sign, works really well on the run. If you run in a zig-zag pattern, it works even better.

3) The 3-Up Running 360 Pirouette: This one is really hard (for me, at least). You toss all three balls high up in the air, then jump up in the air and twirl around in a 360, like a figure skater. Right at the landing you catch the three balls and resume juggling. If you want to see what a juggling pirouette looks like standing still, check out this hilarious video by Jason Garfield.

4) The Road Sign Bounce: Find a good solid road sign and toss a ball forward into it as you're running towards it. When the ball bounces off pull into into your three-ball cascade and keep running. You can also do this one sideways into walls.

Someday I'll get these onto YouTube. There's not nearly enough joggling on YouTube.