Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Joggler to make history at Around the Bay 30K

Good news my fellow joggling enthusiasts (and all of you auto mechanics who stumbled upon this site after Googling for the joggler flanging tool)! The historic Around the Bay 30K Road Race in Hamilton, Ontario, has granted The Joggler permission to run the race while juggling.

The Around the Bay 30K is the oldest road race in North America. First run in 1894, it predates the Boston Marathon by three years. Needless to say, this race is exceptionally well organized and it's one of my favourite races, partly because I always seem to do well there.

Until proven otherwise, I'm going to assume that I will be the first ever joggler to complete the race in its 113-year history. Woo-hoo.

I had promised a post on joggling tricks ... next time.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A long joggle through the streets of Toronto

Today's joggling mileage: 22 miles (with one espresso stop and one pastry stop)

It's less than two months before the Salt Lake City Marathon and I'm in serious training mode, which means my Sunday long joggles are getting seriously long. Today's 22-miler (36 km) really tested my arms and legs at the end.

One of the best things about long runs is seeing so much of the city. I usually try to do a big loop rather than an out-and-back course and often stop for some kind of mid-run treat.

Today I ran from my place in East York to the city's best source of espresso, Seb's Cappuccino. Hopped up on caffeine, I joggled through Riverdale, up past Bayview Village and into North Toronto, where I grew up, and where my parents still live. I stopped it to see them, but they didn't hear the doorbell. Oh well, time to head home, but not before stopping at Cobs Bread for an apple danish.

Back along the Danforth I did some showboating that drew some honks from passing motorists. Next post I'll discuss joggling tricks.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Joggling as performance art

When I first started joggling, I went to great lengths to not be seen, often training at 4 a.m. in a deserted park.

I have since joggled the Boston Marathon in front of one million spectators, appeared on CNN and CBC Newsworld. Today, I realized that I now actually go out of my way to perform for passers-by on my training runs.

Today I joggled 10 miles and half the run was along the Danforth (a busy street in Toronto). I loved watching people's reactions as I ran by, which ranged from astonishment, to amusement, and surprisingly, no mockery.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Joggling – from the ridiculous to the sublime

Yesterday's joggling mileage: 10 miles total (in two parts)

I'm one of the first people to admit that joggling is a pretty hilarious sport – and that's one of the reasons that I do it. It makes people point and elicits exclamations of incredulity; it makes people howl with laughter; it even once made a girl yell "I LOVE YOU!" with no discernible hint of facetiousness.

But today I'm going to set the record straight: joggling, while funny, is no more propostrous that many other sports out there.

There are, of course, easy targets. Curling, a sport with an inexplicably huge following in Canada, features players who scream viciously at teammates who frantically sweep the ice in a more-or-less futile attempt to affect the trajectory of a sliding rock.

Another totally bizarre winter sport is nordic combined, where contestants compete in both cross-country skiing and ski jumping. I don't care what kind of Norwegian military history is behind this sport – it gets a 9.5 out of 10 on the ridiculous scale, and its top competitors can win Olympics medals.

But in my opinion, even the most mainstream of pro sports would appear pretty dumb to an alien visitor who had no prejudices. As a non-golfer, it never ceases to amuse me how seriously people take this game (I don't consider it a sport, but that's a whole different discussion for another post). All the obscene wads of money poured into it and the incredible skill of its top players can't hide the fact that it's a bunch of grown men and women wearing geeky shirts and using glorified sticks to smack a little sphere around until it plops into a small hole.

So my point is this: Joggling looks funny because it's unconventional and unexpected, but that doesn't make it any less of a sport. Don't expect me to be smiling and laughing the whole time during a race, because it's hard work. Tiger Woods gets to look all serious while he tries to pitch himself out of a sandtrap, and I'll probably have some major concentration lines on my face in the final miles of the Salt Lake City Marathon. You can laugh at joggling – in fact, please do – but that doesn't mean it's not a serious sport.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Joggling as a metaphor for life

Yesterday's joggling mileage: 5 miles

I was insanely busy yesterday, but managed to squeeze in a five-mile joggle at lunchtime. It was a beautiful sunny day, which was a welcome contrast to my recent runs in the icy, early-morning darkness.

My training schedule is all over the map these days. Back in the days before I had two kids and before I had a second job as a personal trainer, I trained every day at the same time: 6 miles running to work at 5:30 a.m. and 10 miles running home from work at 2 p.m. But as any runner or joggler knows, life has an insidious propensity toward interfering with the best-laid training plans.

Now my schedule is, quite literally, a juggling act. Or, more accurately, a joggling act. I have a weekly mileage goal and I try to stuff the running in wherever it can fit – sometimes before the crack of dawn, occasionally at lunchtime, often in the evening by running home from work or by sneaking out late at night after the kids go to bed.

Soi joggling really is a metaphor for my life. To get through every day, I need to juggle several things at once and try not to drop the ball. It often feels like it's spiralling out of control, but it's fun and I love it. Joggling life is good.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Who are the best jogglers in the world?

Today's joggling mileage: 5 miles (with one espresso stop)

As I headed out the door at 5 a.m. for a brisk pre-dawn joggle it was pitch black and I could barely see the yellow beanbags cascading in front of me. This made me think about Perry Romanowski, my friend and fellow joggling enthusiast, who last Sunday joggled the Tampa Bay Marathon, which also began before dawn. In his race report on his blog, Perry talks about how hard it was to keep the balls in the air in the dark while dodging other runners and looking out for potholes and puddles. I can sympathize.

I recently learned how to juggle blindfolded (after seeing Perry juggle with his eyes closed during a presentation that we did together at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon expo last year) so I felt much more confortable juggling through the streets in the dark. Juggling blind is actually a really bizarre feeling. It feels ... impossible.

I'm sure all of the best jogglers in the world know how to juggle blindfolded because they're all good jugglers. I'm probably the worst juggler of the bunch. Here's my partial list of the sport's top dogs (to be continued in the future post):

1. Zach Warren: Current world record holder for fastest marathon while juggling. Also holds records for fastest mile on a unicycle while juggling.

2. Paul-Erik Lillholm: The Norwegian joggler from whom I stole the marathon title in 2005. Also the previous record holder for the 10K.

3. Ashrita Furman: Held the marathon record before Lillholm with a 3:22. Has set 137 Guinness World Records.

4. Perry Romanowski: Perhaps the most adventurous and prolific joggler ever, Perry writes a very popular blog on the sport and has joggled more than 20 marathons, with a PB of 3:23. He is also the only know person to have joggled up the Sears Tower and is currently training to joggle a 100-mile ultramarathon.

5. Albert Lucas: Former marathon record holder and all-around incredible numbers juggler. Lucas is the president of the International Sport Juggling Federation. Also does track races while juggling, including hurdles.

5. Bill Giduz: Joggling pioneer who organized the first joggling competition at the International Jugglers Association festival in 1980.

Monday, February 19, 2007

How to break a Guinness World Record

Today's joggling mileage: 0 (a day off – tired out from filling out Guinness World Records paperwork)

I finally got around to sending off the documentation for my 10K joggling record to the Guinness World Records head office in London, England. I set the record five months ago at the Longboat Toronto Island 10K in a time of 36 minutes and 27 seconds, and it took me this long to get everything together.

Here are the steps you have to follow to break a Guinness World Record:

1) Submit an application on www.guinnessworldrecords.com.
2) They'll e-mail you a "Record Breakers' Pack" document that you have to fill out, sign and fax back to them.
3) Several weeks later, they'll e-mail you a couple of documents describing the rules of the record that you want to break, as well as the current record.
4) Now you finally get to set the record. You may feel like all the paperwork is more exhausting than setting the record itself.
5) You need to have two independent witnesses sign sworn statements of authentication.
6) If you submit photos or videos, the photographer/videographer needs to sign away the rights to the material to Guinness.
7) You fill out another stack of paperwork.
8) Assemble all of this and mail it off to Guinness.
9) Several weeks later, Guinness will approve the record (hopefully) and mail you a nice big certificate.
10) The Guinness Book prints about 4,000 records, only about one-tenth of the total, so setting a record by no means guarantees entry into the widely published book.
11) You get NO MONEY for setting a Guinness World Record. Nor do you get a pint of stout.
12) You can also submit your record to the Book of Alternative Records. They require much less documentation.

When I was on my way over to mail the record claim, a woman pointed over to me and whispered to her companion: "That's The Joggler." Maybe I'm famous?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Long Run

Today's joggling mileage: 21 miles

Every Sunday I do a long joggle as part of my marathon training. Today I used the small yellow Higgins Brothers beanbags that I'm going to use in the race.

After a double espresso and some muesli I took off at 7:45 a.m. At 8:30 I met up with some of my Longboat Roadrunners running club friends and we all ran to a local cemetery to do some two-mile loops.

Cemeteries are perfect for winter training because there is virtually no traffic, and they always clear the roads of snow and ice. We measured out a nice training loop at Pine Hills cemetery in the northeastern corner of Toronto. I've run this loop hundreds of times over the past five years and have memorized all the potholes. There's something very comforting about a familiar route. When I first started joggling ,I felt a little uncomfortable about juggling in a cemetery. It felt weirly inappropriate. I'm used to it now – entertaining the dead.

I clicked off four cemetery laps for eight miles at an average of six minutes per mile. Not bad. To break the world record of 2:52, I need to average 6:33/mile for the whole marathon. Can I do it? Definitely maybe.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Joggler's bloggling debut

Welcome to the drama, the pain, the heartaches, the headaches, the insanity and the joy that is joggling. This blog will track my journey as I attempt to reclaim the Guinness World Record for "fastest marathon (26.2 miles) while juggling three objects," and any future joggling feats.

On April 21 at the Salt Lake City Marathon, I'll be facing off against my great joggling nemesis (and friend) Zach Warren of West Virginia in the world's second-ever marathon joggling duel. The first battle took place at last year's Boston Marathon, featuring – you guessed it – Zach and me. Zach beat me in a world-record time of 2 hours, 58 minutes. Five months later, I reclaimed the marathon joggling title in my hometown, at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, shaving a minute off the record with a 2:57. Then, just six weeks later, Zach joggled an astounding 2:52 at the Philadelphia Marathon. That's the time to beat.

So the race in on, and the venue is set for the next joggle-off. Come along for the ride as I joggle for Guinness glory.