Sun Run Bending
A few (jeepers, maybe ten?) years ago I remember reading Michael Crichton’s 1988 book, Travels. While I do not recall a whole lot about the life experiences he describes in the book, I do remember a couple of scenes. One when he receives his cadaver early in his medical school days and one when he attends a spoon bending party. I don’t know why I remember these parts in particular. Nonetheless, here is a short excerpt about the spoon bending party:
In the spring of 1985, I was invited to attend a spoon bending party. An aerospace engineer named Jack Houck had become interested in the phenomenon, and from time to time had parties at which people bent spoons. I was given a street address in southern California, and told to bring a half-dozen forks and spoons I didn’t care about, since they would be bent during the evening.
It was a typical suburban California house. About a hundred people were there, mostly families with young kids. The atmosphere was festive and a little chaotic, with all the kids running around. Everybody was giggly. We were going to bend spoons!
We all threw the silverware we had brought into the centre of the floor, where it made a great metal pile. Jack Houck then dumped a carton containing more silverware onto the floor, and told us what to do. He said that, in his experience, to bend spoons we needed to create an atmosphere of excitement and emotional arousal. He encouraged us to be noisy and excited.
We were supposed to choose a spoon from the pile and to ask the spoon, “Will you bend for me?” If we didn’t think the spoon would respond, we should toss it back in the pile and choose another. But if we had a positive feeling about our chosen spoon, we were instructed to hold the spoon vertically and shout, “Bend! Bend!” Once intimidated by being shouted at, the spoon was to be rubbed gently between our fingers, and pretty soon it would bend.
That’s what Jack Houck said.
For some reason, at around 8:30 AM on Saturday, April 17, 2011 while I was warming up to run my first ever Vancouver Sun, my thoughts returned to Crichton’s book and, more specifically, to the abovementioned scene. I couldn’t help but think that the Sun Run environment shared a lot of characteristics with a spoon bending party. I mean the streets were filled with thousands of people (okay, not merely a hundred), a lot being families with young kids, and the atmosphere was festive and a little chaotic. Everybody was giggly. We were going to run ten kilometers!
After leaving my younger identical twin daughter (younger by a minute) and her good friend, who was running in place of my recently flu-stricken older identical twin daughter (older by a minute) at the cheery and giddy green bib section, where I do not think any spoons were going to be bent, I made my way through the crowds to get to the open-aired blue bib section. There, I found some serious folks. A lot I knew (many of my zippy VFAC teammates were there putting their game faces on) and a lot I knew of! You know, those guys and gals who run 10Ks in high twenty something times or low thirty something times. Admittedly, I was a little in awe of the tremendous athletes I could see striding confidently up and down Georgia Street. If any spoons were going to be bent at this Sun Run party, they were going to be bent by these people.
Chatting and sharing a few laughs and encouraging comments with VFACers and others in this area, I realized that this was an exceptionally positive environment. The energy was electric. This was cool. This was fun. Everybody was smiling, including me.
Then the race started and the smiling was put on hold.
With the help of my trusty Garmin 405 I had hoped that I could pace myself to six sub-six minute miles and then adrenalize myself to finish the final two-tenths of a mile hard so that I could possibly bend a spoon, I mean bend the Sun Run course in less than thirty-six minutes. After all, if an esteemed medical professional like Michael Crichton believed in such malarkey as spoon bending parties then I could believe in such malarkey as running some consistently fast (by my standard) miles.
This is what my Garmin shows me: (Oh yeah, comparing Garmin data is also one of my favourite pastimes with my buddy and Kintec teammate, Johnny The Albatross Atkinson)
Mile 1 – 4 minutes 44 seconds (Yay, under six. Yikes, way under six)
Mile 2 – 5 minutes 30 seconds (Yay, under six. Yikes, did we just start?)
Mile 3 – 5 minutes 44 seconds (Yay, under six. Yikes, where are my legs?)
Mile 4 – 5 minutes 52 seconds (Yay, under six. Yikes, where does this course go?)
Mile 5 – 5 minutes 56 seconds (Yay, under six. Yikes, that was almost six)
Mile 6 – 5 minutes 55 seconds (Yay, under six. Yikes, how did this bridge just appear?)
Mile 0.37 (Just what my watch says) – 2 minutes 10 seconds (Yay, this thing is over)
So I did it. Achieved my goal and that felt good. Did I enjoy my run? I don’t know really. I mean I was focused on hitting my splits and I didn’t really have time to worry about or enjoy anything else.
I do know for sure though that I enjoyed every single moment of the build-up to the run and that I enjoyed every single moment (for several hours) of the post-run celebration. For me, the celebration was a good lunch with my daughter and my proxy daughter followed by Robson Street shopping – which I was forced to agree to if I wanted the company of a couple of thirteen-year-olds at the 2011 Vancouver Sun Run. A deal is a deal. (I am very proud to say that they ran 59:17 and 59:20, respectively, on zero training)
Big congrats to the R.E. Mountain Secondary School Sun Run Team, led by one of the finest teachers the world has ever seen, Kris Elliott, for showing up and running while continuing to smile.
Big congrats to all of my VFAC teammates who put their smiles on hold while racing their hearts out, as usual.
Special thanks to Kintec, Mizuno, Udderly Smooth and all 49,365 Sun Runners.