Palm Trees, Sunshine, and Bare Feet


Exactly 14 days from today, I’ll fly from my home near Toronto, Ontario to Sarasota, Florida. Two days after that, I’ll run the Sarasota Half Marathon. It’ll be palm trees, sunshine, and bare feet for me. And not too soon, either. It’s been a rough winter.

It’ll be a shorter visit this year than last, when I ran Sarasota for the first time. Just the common story of too many responsibilities and too little time, I’m afraid. I’ll fly down on Friday, enjoy the warmth, the company of friends, and (hopefully) the beach on Saturday, race on Sunday morning, then fly home again late Sunday afternoon. I won’t exactly spend more time flying to and from Sarasota than being there – but I expect it’s going to feel that way.

Seems a bit of a rush, you might be saying. Why all the bother, you ask. Well, I’m going to tell you.

There are the obvious reasons, of course. First of all, on March 17, when the race happens, it’ll be cold here and warm there. Second, I’ll get to run with my friends Chris G. and Marcus C. Third, it’s a nice event at my favourite race distance. On the other hand, I’ll have to endure the minor discomforts of flying, something I’m not keen on. I’m not particularly keen on hotels, either. And I’ll be away from home, which is never a preference.

So why do it at all?

You know, sometimes I wonder that myself. And wondering about it brought the realization that there’s one reason why I’ll make the effort. Let’s call it the “Long Journey” concept. If I wanted to be fancier, I’d throw out words like microcycle, mesocycle, and macrocycle – in other words, periodization. Good words all, because, deconstructed, they tell the tale, and tell it very well indeed.


The microcycle in the above graphic corresponds to my winter training. I started that on November 26, and will finish the day before the race, with a short, easy shakedown run. The mesocycle is made up of my spring races (Sarasota, Harry’s Spring Run Off 8K, and the Mississauga Half). The macrocycle is my whole 2013 training and race calendar. After the Mississauga Half (May 6), I’ll do some unstructured running until August 5, when I’ll begin training for my fall races (the Milton Half and the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon). The transitions between the parts of the long cycle are short periods when I rest a bit (sometimes only a day or so) and change gears. They’re sometimes smooth and sometimes tricky. Usually, I just have to let them happen.

So, you see, I’m going to Sarasota for the rhythm! To finish the short cycle, start the mid-cycle, and move into the long cycle. I’ll move through time and space and meaning. I’ll simply be continuing my barefoot journey. It’s all good.

Ah yes, and we mustn’t forget the palm trees. I’m partly going for the palm trees. Technically, they’re known as Arecaceae, a botanical family of perennial lianas and trees. They’re flowering plants, the only family in the monocot order Arecales. Roughly 202 genera with around 2600 species are currently known, most of them restricted to tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate climates. (Thank you, Wikipedia.) They’re one of my favourite things in the whole world. I think, when I get to Sarasota, I’m going to hug a palm tree.

Palm trees



  1. Oh, reading that has brought a smile to my face. Doing it for the rhythm! What a great perspective. And, of course, the Arecaceae (which, when I try to say it, has a pretty nifty rhythm of it’s own). I have no doubts you’ll have a great race come March 17th.

      1. That makes sense, Nicole. Parenting young children is a full-time thing. When the time is right, I hope you’ll consider Sarasota.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s