Out of Sync, Out in Wales

Hello Everyone,

I’ve been sitting on this adventure for far too long! My apologies for the poor turnover.

The story for today is my recent trip to Wales (it happened in May and I’m not sure if it was 2016 or 2017 at this stage) with one of my favourite people in the entire Universe: fellow boy band member, guitar strummer, softball teammate, High School lifeline, Beaver Banker, Late Night Film star, Mayer enthusiast, Lifestream rider Mr. Barry Allen Seymour!

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Reunions and Ales

I’ve spent a lot of time looking to Europe for my adventures since I’ve moved here but I’ve always had my eye on Wales as a place that looked like it would provide a proper romp. Barry has spent a lot of time looking into his genealogy and has some roots in Wales so it seemed like an appropriate place for us to explore together. This wasn’t my first time in Wales but felt like the first time I really stretched my legs there.

Our first stop in Wales was the Breacon Beacons which is a mountain range located in South Wales and fairly well known in the UK as a scenic wonderland. Check out the exhibits below:

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Totally random thing here, but the Welsh and the British in general take safety very seriously:

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No fucking swimming!

 

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The Timber Stacks are Off Limits!

 

The other factor outside of its stunning beauty that pulled us towards the Brecons was to visit the town of Defynnog. Never heard of it? Me either. Hell knows if anyone else in Wales really knows much about the place. It’s one of the many small little towns that are scattered across the country, each with its own charm and distinct story. One of those storylines has stretched through time and space to deliver to the World Barry Seymour.

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You see that sign? The little white one. I spent about a decade in front of it taking 94 billion pictures of Barry with the sign (all the exact fucking same) in search of the “perfect shot”. Bloody artists!

Our next stop took us up to Snowdonia National Park to tackle Snowdon, the largest peak in Wales (1085m). This was something I’ve been excited to do for awhile. Despite not being a fan of hill climbing, Barry was a good lad and joined me for the ascent. We were rewarded for our efforts with an endless supply of wonderful views.

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Barry photographing photographs well.

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Barry loved his Lucozade.

 

After our Welsh travels, we stopped back into Cheltenham for a couple of days before concluding our time together in London to see our dear Mr. Mayer. John was actually the inspiration for the trip as neither Barry or I had seen him play for 10 years! To make up for it, we saw him twice!

 

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Our Boy

 

After the second Mayer show, I sent Barry down the Picadilly towards Heathrow to concluded our trip. I watched him go with the knowledge that I won’t be seeing him until December when I am back in Canada for Christmas. This means I will be missing his Annual Baseball Classic Derby Experience Festival Game for the first time throughout its epic 13 year run this year. What could possibly keep me away from such an incredible event? Lead me to break such a streak? To muddy a perfect record?

Next time.

Matt

Race Report – Edinburgh 70.3

Howdy,

I’ve just made it back to Cheltenham following my triathlon weekend up in Edinburgh. I am still buzzing from the experience so I wanted to share my story. My apologies for not putting out more updates. I have a couple of other blog posts ready to fire. I promise to get those out soon.

I am sure most of you are familiar with how triathlons work: swim, bike, run. Pretty simple. Most triathletes find their way into the sport through one of those three sports. Obviously, for myself, I started as a runner. After injuring my knee during my ultra marathon last year I decided that it was time to make the switch to something that would have less impact on the knees. So I bought myself a bike and some goggles and decided to take the plunge into the triathlon Wolrd. Give it a spin if you will.

Triathlons come in all sorts of distances: Sprint (0.75km, 20km, 5km), Olympic (1.5km, 40km, 10km), Middle (2.5km, 80km, 20km), Long (4km, 120km, 30km), and Ironman (3.8km, 180km, 42km). Something for the casual and the crazy.

The race I did was a Half Ironman (so half the distance of the Ironman above). I originally intended to do the full Ironman but eventually realized that’s fucking crazy! It’s an unimaginable distance! Training for it is a full-time job and I don’t see how people find the time! A Half IM fitted in pretty well with what I do anyway so that was the more sensible route. I have done one sprint (last year) so this wasn’t my first crack at it.

I chose to do my Half IM up in Edinburgh because well, it’s my favourite UK city. And the event is new as of this year so I assumed it was destiny that I go up there. In retrospect, it would have been significantly less faff to do a more local race but I have no regrets.

I think that’s enough prelude so let’s get to the race report. My day started at an ungodly 3 am which is apparently around the time the sun rises in Scotland this time of year I drove my way over to the final transition and got a shuttle bus over to the swim start. I had about 2 hours to kill so I went to check on my bike, gave the tires a pump, gave it a good tap on the seat, had a disappointing cup of instant coffee and walked down to look at the water. We had gotten an email earlier that the swim may be shortened (from 1.8km to 0.95km) due to the choppy conditions of the water. I wasn’t happy with this because I had come up here with the intent of doing the distance. After looking at the water I thought “the water looks fine! What are they on about?”. Well, let’s just jump to the start of the swim then (and yes they did shorten the swim). I make the quick run across the beach, hurdle a couple of waves and plunge into the surf. After two strokes I am hit in the face with a wave and take in a gallon of sea water. I am thinking to myself “I’m going to die. There is no way I can survive this. What are they thinking letting us out into this!????” Somehow I managed to make forward progress and looked up to see a rescue kayak. There was an athlete hooked onto the side of it and I thought to myself “Fuck. I should join him. Fuck. Fuck. FUCK!!!!” The kayak made its way into my path and instead of grabbing hold I swam past it and out into the sea. Stroke, wave, gulp, stroke, wave, gulp. It wasn’t convinced I was making any forward progress but I eventually made it to the first turn. Swimming along the waves was a bit more sensible than swimming into them but only a bit. I looked around to see different coloured swim caps being thrown around in the water. It’s hyperbolic to say but it looked like a war zone! Things improved significantly after the next turn as I was riding the waves back towards shore. There were two more turns in the loop before I finally looked up to see the shore. It felt pretty damn good to have my feet back on solid ground!

UPDATE: The swim was actually my strongest event relative to the field! What!?

After making it through transition I found myself feeling happy to be one the bike. This evaporated quickly as I couldn’t get my bike into the hardest gear. A rookie mistake not to have the bike already in the gear I want! Anyway, I had to get off and do it manually which didn’t make for a good start! The bike is my weakest link as most triathletes are cyclists turned triathletes. Zoom! There goes a 60 years old man. Zoom. There goes someone with 50 pounds on me. Man, woman, and child zipping past me like I was a spectator! Not the most motivating! I struggled for the first 20k as I was still feeling shell shocked from the swim. I eventually got into a bit of a groove as we got into the hilly part of the course which is the type of cycling I am used to. I was out of the saddle attacking the climbs and driving hard down the hills finally feeling a bit of momentum. This lasted until the final 20km which turned into a bit of a slog. I got a bit of encouragement with 10km to go from a fellow Canadian as she passed me on the bike. She’s been living in the UK for 8 years and is married to a Scot. Maybe that will be my story in 6 years time! The last bit of the bike was complete BS! A climb around Holyrood Park!??? If I had actually prepared and studied the course I would have realized this but I was blissfully unaware that this was how it ended! After a lot of swearing, I finally made it to transition and out of the saddle.

Once I got the running shoes on I felt very comfortable. I wasn’t too worse for wear (given the conditions) and had 4 hours to complete the run before being timed out (there is an 8 hour 30 minute time limit) so I knew I was sitting pretty. The run is a 3 loop course which is not good psychologically. Running that first loop knowing you have 2 more to go is not good for the brain! But I was feeling good and it felt good to be cruising past everyone who had passed me on the bike. I got a glimpse at some of the athletes who were a loop (or two) ahead of me and they were all monsters. Ripped as shit and running faster than I could completely fresh (I’ve got a lot of work to do!). I usually get emotional during races but that didn’t really happen during this race. I found my mind was lazer focused on what I was doing and just turning over the legs that there wasn’t much room to get sentimental about anything. It wasn’t until the final lap that my body started to show some signs of wear. The left knee was barking a bit! Thankfully, the last 2km or so is mostly downhill so it was an easy finish. It was a good feeling to make that turn and see that finish line!

I ended up coming in at 6:37:50 which is a fair bit slower than I wanted (under 6 hours was my goal) but there is lots of room for improvement. Probably 10 minutes to scrub out in transition by getting myself a tri-suit (kit you can bike and run in versus making a complete change of clothes for each event) and lots of time to scrub off the bike!

Will I do another one? Absolutely! Will I ever do a full Ironman? We shall see!

I’ll try to stay in better touch in the future. I’ve got lots to share!

Take care.

Matt

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Year in Review

Howdy,

Well. I’ve burned through a year in the UK. Does it feel like I’ve been here that long? Yes and no. Maybe? Honestly, my ability to perceive the passage of time feels non-existent nowadays.

This is one of those blog posts that I don’t really feel equipped to write. I’d like to explain in striking and moving language how this year has changed my life. How it has led to amazing experiences I thought I would never have. That I am a better man for it and that I’ll never be the same again. All of the above is true and perhaps it’s best to just leave my reflection at that. I may try later to distil some further insight into my year.

I feel that from now on I will consider a year as running from October 22 – October 21. So, welcome to 2017! Here is a photo collage year in review.

 

 

Okay, I guess I shouldn’t completely cop out with pictures. I often think about how easy it would have been to not make the jump over here. There is a fair amount of inertia that needs to be overcome with any change. It can be pretty easy to accept comfort as a substitute for confronting challenge. People do it all the time and I’ve done it over a lot of stretches of my life. Sometimes we are unsure of what our next move is. What the right thing is. It is easy for noise to get in the way of the signal when making life decisions. It isn’t easy to cut through it. There was one quote that really resonated with me when I made the choice to head across the Atlantic. Ironically enough, it comes from the British actor High Laurie.

” It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

I think that one will remain an all time favourite of mine for awhile.

I definitely want to keep the blog going. I’ll admit I have found this surprisingly difficult to write it. Those who know me well know that I typically have no issue with being open and communicating my thoughts. But there is something about writing it down that makes me nervous. It’s inexplicable to me. I haven’t been able to figure it out! But I have at least another year to go in the UK and I already have a fair amount penciled in already  that I would love to share with everyone.

Stay tuned.

Matt

A Kid from Canada Becomes a London Marathoner

Hey There!

Let me tell you about the highlight of my year. And I don’t mean the highlight of my year up until now. The London Marathon is the highlight of my entire year which includes the 8 months that have not happened yet. Maybe a couple weeks into 2017 as well. No more than 3. But probably just 2016. Certainly no later than March 2017.

To be frank, the prospect of writing about my London Marathon experience is daunting. My vastly limited capacity to express myself in general, but especially with words, means that this entry will inevitably fall short of conveying what being a part of this incredible event truly meant to me.

Many of you probably don’t know this but the London Marathon is the largest single day fundraising event in the World. Since the race started in 1981, it has raised over £700 million! That is an INSANE amount isn’t it? I was honoured to do my small part for this effort by raising money for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation (there is still time to donate here). To up the ante a lot of folks run the race in a costume (because I guess running the race alone isn’t enough). This really adds to the entertainment of the event. The best costume I saw was a guy dressed up as a storm trooper! I paced myself off a lobster for a couple of kms and was passed in the final stretch by someone dressed in a heart costume! And I am not talking about a gradual over taking, the dude whizzed past me like I was standing still! There was also a guy who ran with a fridge on his back! I’ve been inspired with a lot of costume ideas of my own, most of which involve dressing up like wrestlers from the 90s. My favourite is the Warriorathon. This involves dressing up as the Ultimate Warrior and sprinting the entire marathon. Estimated finish time is around 45 minutes. Maybe add a few minutes for the occasional Gorilla Press during the race.

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On to my race experience. I am going to start with the crowds. They were bananas! Wall to wall the entire race. The support was unreal. And I don’t want to treat that as a throw away statement. I genuinely mean that the support was UNREAL . It is an incredible feeling to have an entire city (of 8 million!) rooting for you. Blokes with pints yelling “Come on Matt! You got this!”. Mothers supportively telling you “Good work Matt. Keep going!”. Fathers nodding with approval when you catch their eye as you run by. Kids sticking their hands out desperately seeking a high five (of which countless were delivered!). That really is an unreal thing to experience over the course of a marathon. Normal life unfortunately never offers you that much support and encouragement. Now I am not so delicate that I need constant encouragement but I think it is important to always remember that some positive words can go a long way. Don’t be stingy with them.

I am very happy with the race I ran. Things were running pretty smooth until 28km (roughly two-thirds the way through). Up until then I felt like a million bucks: headphones out, smile plastered on my face, chatting with other runners, high-fiving everything in sight. The whole nine. After 28km the legs started to feel a tad heavy. Runners call this “hitting the wall”. This is when the lactic acid build in your legs starts to diminish their interest in functioning properly. Definitely was a bit early to start struggling but I did manage to keep things relatively on track although with a complete change of attitude: headphones in, pain etched over my face, head down, and numerous hands left untouched. I ended up doing the 2nd half 8 minutes slower than the first and came in at 3:18:31 overall. I was hoping for under 3:15 but I am pretty damn satisfied with 3:18!

After I ran my first marathon six years ago I said that “I will never run another marathon”. It took 6 and a half months to convince myself to run another. After the London Marathon it took about 18 hours. I have a rough blueprint around running the remaining five major marathons: New York, Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, and Berlin!

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the whole weekend was having a little bit of home waiting for me at the finish line.
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As you may know, right after the marathon I shipped off to the Netherlands and Belgium for a 10 day run around. So for those of you who have grown weary of me writing about running, stay tuned!

Take care.

Matt

Cardiff – Man vs. Machine

Hey There!

I feel like I’ve been letting this slide a bit but 11 entries in 6 months is probably a reasonable amount of production. Perhaps my feeling comes from the fact that I have so much I want to write about! April was a tad bananas in terms of busyness. (I attempted to spell this as business and realized how wrong that looked! But with the English language who the fuck knows right?). In any case, it is doubtful that things are going to slow down anytime soon so I am hoping to get caught up to date with this over the next week!

First up is my epic one on one race against Mo Farah in Cardiff. Well…. I thought it was supposed to be a one on one race. I mean, that was my understanding but a bunch of other assholes showed up for it as well. Word must have gotten out or something. It’s not too often that these folks would have an opportunity to run with me so I guess I can’t blame them. I think Mo was a bit disappointed by it though.

In all seriousness, the race was an incredible experience. The event was a World Championship so it brought out some of the best in the World. It was pretty exciting to be “competing” in that kind of field. So no one is confused about my running ability, any Tom, Dick, or Harry can entry this race! It just so happens that a bunch of folks that really know what they are doing show up as well!

The race went very well despite the weather conditions being completely rubbish. We had a very nice complete down pour at about the half way point that lasted for 3 minutes. I guess it was actually sort of refreshing! I was cruising along until the last 5km when my legs started to get a bit heavy. I need to work on pacing myself better! It takes some serious discipline (which I don’t have) to not get really excited and burn it out of the gate. Regardless, I did manage to knock a bit over a minute off my PB. Mo Farah ended up doing okay as well. He finished 3rd and clocked in at around 28 minutes faster than me. It was actually my goal not to lose to him by more than 30 minutes so I consider the event a complete success! The highlight of the race for me was screaming at and then high-fiving two Canadian flags!

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This trip was actually my first trip over to Wales despite it being only an hour away on the train and me living 3 minutes from the train station. To recap for my Canadian friends, the United Kingdom is made up of 4 countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Wales is of course English speaking but they also have the Welsh language which I reckon came into existence before vowels were created.

It may have been the positive vibes from the race atmosphere but I felt very at home in Cardiff. The Welsh are a top rate group of folks by any measure. Very welcoming and friendly! And they give a fuck about hockey! I saw stores SELLING hockey equipment. Real hockey not field hockey! And I was chatting to a girl in a queue for coffee and her favourite hockey team was the Toronto Maple Leafs! Certainly a shitty choice on her part but I was infinitely tickled by the revelation.

All in all, a perfect 10 of a weekend. Wales, I will certainly be back!

Take care.

Matt

Northumberland

Hey There!

I’ve been wanting to tell you guys about my weekend in Northumberland last month but I haven’t been able to find the time. And now I have my weekend in Cardiff I really want to talk about! First things first. Cardiff will have to wait. Spoiler – it was fucking great!

Northumberland was the destination of my first race of the year. It was also my first race with the Coastal Trail Series which I have written about previously (www.endurancelife.com). Northumberland, as the name suggests, is located in Northern England about 100K or so outside of Edinburgh. Getting there was an adventure in and of itself. It marked my first time driving over here and as most of you know the folks here drive on the left! I managed to get there and back unscathed (though not without incident). I did experience a mild case of driving on the wrong side of the road which almost resulted in my death! Don’t worry Mom, I’m just kidding. No, actually that did happen.

What will be amusing to my Canadian friends is the drive essentially took me all the way across England (I live in the south west and my destination was in the north east) and it only took me five and a half hours! That gets me from Halifax to Fredericton back home! So in other words, it gets me fucking nowhere! By way of comparison, according to Google Maps, it takes 57 hours to drive across Canada. Blimey!

Onto the race. I was really impressed with the Coastal Trail Series. Well organized and so much fun! The course was absolutely stunning. About 50% running across fields and 50% running along the beach. I even had the opportunity to run with sheep! I raced fairly well but I was really dehydrated. I managed to slug it out but I was suffering over the last couple of K. With about 3K left I had someone cruise past me like I was a statue. I don’t like being passed over the last couple K of a race but I was in no position to do anything about it.

There was one guy that went out and absolutely crushed it! I always like to try to pick out the winner at the start line. They are typically fairly easy to spot: sleeveless running jersey, sprinting back and forth, dynamic stretching. Oh and they generally look like a doctor’s poster of what the muscles in the human body are. The Brits generally don’t have a high view of such outward behavior so they took several shots at the eventual winners routine.

Racing in Britain really isn’t any different than racing back in Canada. Same inspiring atmosphere though perhaps this exchange only happens in England:

Guy 1: So what are you going to do after the race?

Guy 2: Have a smoke and a pint.

I can’t say he didn’t earn it.

Usually official race pictures have a way of making you look like a melted candle but the good folks at endurancelife seem to be able to catch you in the rare moments when you don’t look like utter shit.

CTS15-16 Northumberland - 27.2.16 - www.endurancelife.com


 

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On my way back from Northumberland I stopped in to check out Hadrians Wall. The wall was built about 2000 years ago by the Roman Emperor Hadrian and effectively served as the northern limit of the Roman Empire. There was still plenty more to be conquered further north (like Scotland) but I figure Hadrian just got tired. “Ahhhh fuck it. This is far enough. Build a big ass wall and name it after me. I am going back to Rome to get drunk and fuck bitches.” I think he was right to stop when he did. At the end of the day, what is the value of endlessly pursuing greatness if we lose touch with what really matters in life.

Enough with the history lesson. Here are a few pictures I took while at Hadrians Wall.

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That wraps up most of what I have to say about this weekend. I had so much fun. After a slow start to 2016, Northumberland was a much welcomed jolt of excitement and served as the jumping off point for everything else I have planned for 2016.

Talk soon.

Matt

The Matt vs. Mo Challenge

Hey There!

My big face off against Mo Farah at the Cardiff Half Marathon is less than a week away. The race also serves as a tune up race for the London Marathon which is a bit more than a month away. The training has been going quite well and I am certain that I won’t make a complete mess of it like I did when I ran the Bluenose 6 years ago. I reckon I may even be able to walk after it! Possibly.

As most of you know I am fundraising for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation as a part of my London Marathon entry. To help generate some fundraising activity I would like to introduce The Matt vs. Mo Challenge. Here’s how it works! Below I have set out a series of benchmarks for my performance relative to Mo. For each benchmark you will pledge to make a donation of your choosing to my London Marathon effort. For each benchmark that I exceed you will honour your pledge (which you can do by donating to my justgiving page). There will be 5 benchmarks in total. I am going to participate in the challenge myself. The values that I set should help you guys figure out what reasonable donations should look like. No amount is too  small and I am eternally grateful for any assistance you can provide. This will also give me a bit more fire for next weekend! Without further ado!

The Matt vs. Mo Challenge

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Benchmark 1: Mo beats Matt by less than 40 minutes

If Mo beats Matt by less than 40 minutes then I will denote £25 to my London Marathon effort.

Benchmark 2: Mo beats Matt by less than 30 minutes

If Mo beats Matt by less than 30 minutes then I will denote £50 to my London Marathon effort.

Benchmark 3: Mo beats Matt by less than 20 minutes

If Mo beats Matt by less than 20 minutes then I will denote £5,000 to my London Marathon effort.

Benchmark 4: Mo beats Matt by less than 10 minutes

If Mo beats Matt by less than 10 minutes then I will denote £300,000,000 to my London Marathon effort.

Benchmark 5: Matt beats Mo

If Matt beats Mo then I will denote 3 Fully Operational Death Stars to my London Marathon effort.

To remove any level of ambiguity Benchmark 1 is a slam dunk, Benchmark 2 would involve a personal best but is well within the realm of possibility while Benchmarks 3-5 are fucking impossible. Feel free to post your pledges on Facebook or you can send them to me directly if you prefer.

One final thing! To encourage participation I will mail a gift to the individual whose Benchmark 5 pledge gives me the biggest chuckle!

As a reminder donations can be made to my justgiving page at:  www.justgiving.com/Matt-Hurshman

 

I would love to have you guys participate!

Matt