Fearing for Your Life

Late May 2014, I was running around the peninsula at the Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper, Alberta, Canada. As I turned the corner on the peak of the peninsula, I came face to face, not 5 feet away, from a full size angry-as-f**k / startled-as-f**k bull elk mother.

The staredown, chase and fight lasted 30 minutes, and I encountered plenty of scars and scrapes form trees and branches. I rolled my ankle pretty badly as she pushed me into the beautiful Lac Beauvert.

Where the west was won

I armed myself with a masher stick, and was able to fend the mother off and stay on her flank as I angled myself back toward the cabins, and main lodge.

Luckily, a security / ranger saw me splashing around in the Lake, and as I ran back at full sprint toward the cabins, I ran past ‘her’ my saviour, and all I could say was “ELK”.

She asked me why I said that, she said it was obvious. It was 5 feet behind me and gaining on me. The mother was protecting her hidden calf, and to be fair, I would have eaten that baby elk so good if I found it.

As I was sitting in the lobby at the Fairmont, waiting for a medic to come and tend to my wounds, a delightfully friendly set of German couples came up to me to talk to me, and surely investigate what had happened.

Face cuts
arm cuts
Arm cuts

I discussed to them the story of the attack, and they were surprised. Apparently not 30 minutes earlier they had a photographic encounter with the mother elk. Just recently they sent some of those photos, and a nice email to my collegue at Atomic Improv (Donovan).

Just feeding
Just feeding
Just Chilling
Just Chilling

Your friend that had the encounter with the elk at Lake Louise said he would like a photo of the animal that caused him some grief. My wife and I whilst walking that morning came across the animal in a very composed repose and then saw it wander off towards the point. It was not until we were in the hotel that we realised what had happened to your friend. Enclosed are 2 photos that I took just before the fateful event. -Errol

I appreciate their sending of the photos. Such a glimpse into subdued calm before the storm.

When you run, follow a few safety rules:

  • Bring a phone
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back
  • If in danger, run for your life, you will be surprised at your split time.

Listen to the Rocks

I have written before about how much I enjoy running. Some individuals do not get the same sense of peace and tranquility from the perpetual motion of a good long distance run. They work out in gyms, and centers, packed with people on their phones… full of loud noises and equipment. When all you need to get your heart rate up, and get a proper sweat on, is a set of good shoes (it also helps to have a smartphone for GPS, and photos).

On a recent run in a desert heat of Tuscon, Arizona I came across some words of wisdom…

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Stand Tall Even When No One Is Looking

This resonates with the runner mentality. We run for ourselves. We share the ups and downs of the run after, socially… but in the heat of the moments we can picking the best footing, the best line, the pace, and distance for ourselves. It is ultimately one of the most ‘selfish’ workouts one can indulge in.

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Stop To Smell The Flowers

We must be reminded during the mind melt of a distance run that it is enjoyable. That our bodies and minds are getting stronger by doing this. We must take pause on our runs and smell the flowers, to appreciate how far you have come…

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peace on top of cactus hill

or how far you have left to go….

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the long way round and down

And of course… it is always worth it to indulge and imbibe after an investment of that magnitude.

 

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But, you will never be able to hear what the rocks are saying, if you never get to listen to them. You will not hear them when people are talking. Their voices are hidden below acoustic layers of technology and society.

If rocks could talk, what would they say? If they pleaded to get thrown across a still pond, would you indulge them? If they begged you to find the smoothest one on the beach, would you spend a full afternoon? or weekend? or lifetime?

 

Run For Your Life

1006029_10100224572622665_852945802_nRunning allows for introspection, for clarity of mind, and free thought. There is an isolation, freedom of constraint both physical and mental, and an allowance for ideas to come and go as freely as each step lands. There is no one dictating the path you must take, and no expectation on your performance, other than those that you impose upon yourself. We run for health, for fitness, for travel. We run because it is the best way to take in a city. We run to get closer to something we love, and we run away from that which brings us pain.

As  Haruki Murakami states in his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running:

I run to seek a void.

This void, the all unknowing, kilometer 7 of a 10km run, or kilometer 37 of a 42km marathon, this is the freedom from thought that some runners thirst for. These sentiments are echoed in Mark Sutcliffe’s book, Why I Run:

But sometimes, as long as you’re not in the middle of a crowded race or on a trail run through the forest or wallowing in self-pity, it can be helpful to look at the road behind you. You may find it reassuring to see how far you’ve come.

Running allows us to progress forward through space and time, and to quantify that progression. Seldom in life are we granted such an opportunity to see a goal ahead of us, and have in our arsenal the tools we need to achieve said goal. With running we have everything we need, at all times. We have our body, and our mind. We don’t have excuses, and justifications, we need not our voice, or the voice of any others. We don’t need music, or ambient sound. We exist in a vacuum filled with oxygen rich air, a paradox of sorts, where we have nothing, and nothing is all we need. We exist in a Void. I thoroughly enjoyed The Oatmeal’s take on the idea of The Void, particularly this quote:

But when I run, the world grows quiet.

This void, this senseless existence is the paradise we seek, where we could run forever, is sometimes filled with thoughts. Happy, sad, jealous, envious, angry, mad, exalted, benevolent thoughts that range the gambit of emotion. And so seldom are we granted an opportunity to explore these thoughts of others. We live with these thoughts step by step on the trail, and they exist for fleeting moments, or are stewed upon for run after run, day after day… but they exist in this void. I never had considered asking others what they were thinking while running past them on our anti-parallel paths, it is some what of an unspoken rule, that you cannot breach their Void. Lucky not everyone feels this inhibited.

This idea of prying into the minds of runners as their thoughts run wild is explored in a beautiful new short film by Matan Rochlitz, Ivo Gormley. From The Runners:

Liberated from responsibilities, their guards drop dramatically, releasing funny and brutally frank confessions, and weaving a powerful narrative behind the anonymous masses.

It captures the beauty of the thoughts we have as runners, and shares them, so candidly, with the public.

Running is physical activity, so each run I start, and finish, I literally consider that I am running for my life. Each step I take propels me forward toward my goals, each breath I take inspires me to continue, each path is a new adventure waiting to happen,  and each run fills my head with more ideas than I could ever keep…

2013 Edmonton Marathon

Sunday, 25 August 2013 – I complete my first marathon. The sunshine was wonderfully hidden behind the clouds, overcast and warm. It was 42 km to freedom, and I pounded the pavement all the way to the finish line. The Edmonton Marathon was wonderfully planned, and all the volunteers were delightful, supportive, and very enthusiastic.

Thank you to several wonderful supporters, that came out to cheer me on, take photos and even run with me for a few kilometers, and most of all thank you to Atomic Improv, my main training sponsor!

One of my favourite parts of the marathon is that with the huge number of runners participating, there is bound to be someone who runs at a VERY similar pace to you. Just statistically speaking, there is probably someone who runs very similar to you, in pace, but also in style. What is interesting is that some of these people that you match up with on the trail, with a similar pace, have a similar body type, and some are so very different.

My Garmin fenix watch, tracked my pace, and distance and I was able to throw the tracking directly up on Runkeeper as soon as I got home.

Runkeeper Route

 

It was a flat and fast route, that was a very nice route. There are plenty of overlooks on the river, Valleyview Drive, Ada Blvd, etc. It would be hard to find a more beautiful view of the river from the north side of the North Saskatchewan.

The results are posted already, all thanks to the chipped-bib attached to my leg.

Results on SportstatsOverall place: 85
Finish time: 3:34:23 | Chip time: 3:34:06
Average pace: 5:05
Age group place: 19/97 | Gender place: 69/405
10km split time: 48:06 | 21.1km split time: 1:41:31 | 30km split time: 2:25:49 | 35km time: 2:52:36

Missed the Boston Marathon qualifying time by a few minutes… but that is a nice goal for next time. I feel very proud, and not as stiff as I had thought I would.

 

2013 St. Albert Triathlon Official Results

Kory MATHEWSON Overall Rank: 13
Time: 1:10:33  – Age Group Rank: 3/9 Men 25-29
750m Swim Rank: 16 12:05 Pace: 1:37/100
20k Bike Rank: 24 37:04 Pace: 1:52/k
5k Run Rank: 14 21:25 Pace: 4:17/k

Thank you first and foremost to my sponsor: Atomic Improv and Donovan… to wicked awesome support team Lisa, Michele and Bruce … training partners Kevin, Paul, Amy and Golshan. I am extremely proud of my improvements over last year, and am happy to stand on the podium with Triathletes that represent Canada.

Congratulations to race organizers St. Albert Road Runners and Triathlon Club for an incredible race, a wicked new run route, and a well planned and executed event. And most of all to the volunteers that make the race happen…  Next year, I want that time around 1:00hr total…

120.9km bike ride from University of Alberta to Elk Island Park

How far can you bike ride in a single day? If you spent your entire day on a bike, filled your bag full of energy-rich food, and the conditions were perfect? If the road was flat, and almost entirely empty? If your gears and brakes were perfectly tuned, your muscles were stretched, and your glasses were polished clean on a cotton shirt?

Turns out that distance for me was 120.9 km. Todd, Kevin and I jump on the bikes after a morning tune-up, fill up and went hard east… all the way to beautiful Astotin Lake Area at Elk Island Park.

RunKeeper unfortunately crashed on my Google Nexus halfway through the trip back, but luckily Kevin’s kept on trucking and managed to capture our entire trip out and the trip back. Pretty incredible.

Capital City Championships Open Tournament 2013: Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Saturday the 23rd of March 2013, at the Edmonton Military Garrison, I competed, along side an amazing team of Rocca BJJ members, at the Capital City Championships Open Tournament 2013 in Brazilian jiu-jitsu both gi and no-gi Novice 155 to 170lbs divisions. It was an absolute blast of a tournament, and I had an incredible time watching, competing, supporting and even score-keeping one match.

Coaching at the Capital City Championship were mentors Ben and Diego, our most senoir belts in the City, our most experienced competitors, including Misty and Brian were at the IBJJF Pan-America  Championship 2013 in California, USA. Rocca BJJ represented so incredibly in both tournaments this weekend.

I had a few good matches, and met some incredibly nice guys from Grace Barra gym Legends Training Center, under the coaching of Ryan McGillivray Both of the fighters from Gracie Barra in my division were strong jiu-jitsu players, with strength and technique, but most of all, they were so nice, happy to chat, and totally free of any “different gym” ego.

Also, this tournament was an interesting experience for me in terms of matching the weight restrictions. More than just the tournament day, I wanted to see if I could make weight at 170lbs. This meant some serious precise diet and exercise motivation. Also, it meant some precise monitoring and control of the loss of weight, I bought a Withings Wifi Scale late last year, and it was very helpful in tracking the weight down to under 170lbs…

Capture

Shadows and Highlights all day long Kyle...

Brazillian Jiu Jitsu Heitor Abrahao Seminar with Rocca BJJ

Rocca Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is my BJJ home, where I train under Misty Shearer (Blackbelt) and Bryan Hogeveen (Brown Belt). Rocca BJJ is under Heitor Abrahao / De La Riva.

I was recently awarded a white stripe on my White Belt, and I was honoured to take part in a seminar with Heitor Abrahao himself at WTTU Martial Arts, with Randy Hamilton.

Thanks for the photos Mufty!