Monday, March 1, 2010

March 1: Consolation

If it is any consolation to my American friends who may be lamenting their loss to the superior Canadian men's hockey team - it was an overtime loss, so at least you will still get one point for your efforts...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feb. 28: Running Recap

This blog was originally started so the JD and I could communicate our Berlin training progress with each other to help keep us motivated through the gruelling training prescriped by the original JD. Well here we are again both planning on running another marathon together but this blog is not being used at all to keep each other motivated. I know that he is training in his usual dedicated and intense way whereas my running (noticed I did not use the word "training") has been quite spotty, so there really has not been much for me to report. This was a good week though.
Monday: 4.25 miles with the Lagos Hash House Harriers. This was like running fartleks. At some intersections you were not sure where to go (based on the symbology used by the HHHs) so you would have to run down a street, realize that you were on the wrong path, turn back, and step on the gas a little to catch back up to the correct path.




Tuesday: 6 exciting miles on the treadmill.

Thursday: 6 exciting miles on the treadmill.

Friday: 5 miles. I was invited to the Chevron run, which Chevron sponsors for its employees. It was a great way to finish the week. The run leaves from Chevron's compound and winds along a sandy road to a bonfire pit on the beach. After watching the sun set, and meeting a few other runners, a bus takes you back to the compund. This run occurs every week - unfortunately it is a long way away and starts early at 5:30pm. I am not sure how often I will make this run, but I am hoping I can figure something out because it was great. (In the picture I am sure you can recognize Banana Island. The distance to the Chevron run may not seem like much, but with Lagos traffic it is not a simple task to get there. The satellite photo also highlights how the run felt like I was actually running out in the country - note the concrete jungle on the left (aka my usual hangout) vs. the green vegatation on the right).


Saturday: 10 miles (4+6). I started the day by running 1 lap around Banana Island (4 miles) and I finished the day with 6 exciting miles on the treadmill.

Sunday: 12 miles (4+4+4). This was interval training - Nigerian Style. I ran one lap around Banana Island clockwise, then I went for breakfast. I returned to run another lap but counter-clockwise (to keep it fresh!). Upon arriving home I decided to add 4 exciting miles on the treadmill.

In total I ran 43 miles this week. They were all very slow miles, but they were miles none-the-less. I am pretty happy with my running this week...even the little guy seems pleased!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Feb. 23: I thought I was coming down with something...

...but it turns out that I am just eating a lot of fibre.

I blame Patience (aka Precious). She has been doing all of my grocery shopping for the last little while and I have pretty much given her free reign to buy whatever she wants. She has a general idea of the types of things that I like. The trade-off between getting a few surprises in the fridge vs. wasting a Saturday afternoon in a sweaty market shopping is worth it.

Now I know that amongst several (all?) of you that I have a reputation as being an eater. JD tells me that it goes straight to my ass and having to lug it all around a marathon course is what slows me down. Apparently Patience thinks I am quite the eater as well - she went shopping today. Upon returning home from work I was greeted with an entire fruit and vegetable section in my refrigerator.


And beside the fridge I have all the stuff that could not fit in the fridge.


Let me just take a second to highlight some of the things that you may or may not have missed from the above pictures: 2 coconuts, head of cauliflower, 2 heads of broccoli, 3 heads of lettuce, enough oranges and grapefruit to prevent scurvy for entire armies camped out in winter, 2 pineapples (+ 1/2 of another already cut up in a tupperware), 4 mangos, 2 dozen tomatoes, a dozen pears, 8 apples, a dozen plums, a batch of grapes, a sack full of potatoes, 4 croissants, a jumbo loaf of bread, and a 2 foot long fish. I am sure that I missed something but I think you get the idea.

At least I am eating good food...right?!

Hold that thought...I got to go to the bathroom.

Ok where was I? Oh yes, I also wanted to mention that I met up with the Lagos Hash House Harriers last night and got in 4.25 miles. To be honest, I have always avoided the Hash because it has never really sounded like my thing. And I am still not sure that it is my thing. I am just happy to be running with others.

They were a great group of people and I enjoyed myself but I find that there is a lot of wasted time. What happened to the days of showing up, running, then meeting at Panera Bread when you are done (if nothing else just to make a public appearance in your short shorts)? But with the Hash it takes all night just to run 4.25 miles. If I were anywhere else in the world I probably would be bothered by that. Since I have nothing better going on, I think I shall make a habit out of meeting them.

Today I hit the treadmill for 7 miles (or 1 1/2 episodes of Heroes).

I am off to the bathrooom again - have a good day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feb. 21: Why is there so much crime?

Of all the places that I have ever lived I have never seen such a place like Lagos when it comes to religion - in particular Christianity. Everywhere you look you will see bible verses painted on cars, trucks, boats, sides of buildings...well pretty much anywhere. (Actually that also reminds me of when I lived in Missouri and saw "Jesus" signs everywhere). At the workplace you hear a lot of mention of God and Jesus and people are not shunned or discouraged from bringing their religion into the office (as is the case in North America). If something good happens you are told to praise Jesus. (The only time you see someone praising Jesus in the American workplace is if you consider the NBA or NFL a "workplace" and a player (i.e. a "worker) pounds his right arm across his chest before shooting it to the sky while nodding his head in thanks. I have often wanted to do this after a sweet PowerPoint presentation before spiking my notepad on the ground but I digress).

People are named Sunday to celebrate the fact that they were born on God's day. Speaking of Sunday, it is a pretty special day because EVERYone goes to church. In fact, this is the only day that it is recommended that I can drive on my own - the roads are completely empty (unless you drive past a church).

Sure, I have experienced many of these things in other countries as well but not to the same magnitude as I see here in Nigeria. This brings me to the title of this blog - by all appearances this is the most Godly place I have ever lived in so why do I have to be escorted by an armed gaurd? Furthermore, why do I keep getting emails offering me financial windfalls if I help some Nigerian prince transfer his funds he just recieved by pillaging a new country or something?

I am sure the answer is something simple. All the locals that I know have jobs and are gainfully employed. It stands to reason that the majority of my impressions of the locals are formed by them. I am sure that there are a few sketchy characters amongst the ~10 million inhabitants who have learned how to cash a ransom cheque with little difficulty. My random thought of the day while swerving back 'n forth across two lanes of road today because I had it all to myself. But if anyone were to ask - I was just warming my tires - Nascar style.

I ran 35 miles this week - 27 on the treadmill. I finished the week by running 10 miles today, which is huge for me because I have not done a double digits day in an eon. To break it up I ran 4 miles outside (at lunchtime in the heat and decided that was completely stupid) then came home and did 6 on the treadmill.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feb. 18: Winter Olympics

My favorite time of year, every fourth year, is the Winter Olympics. I love watching them. I find myself completely mesmerized and glued to the TV for the latest news and highlights.

In '98 I could not get enough of Schmirler the Curler, nor of the American men's hockey team trashing their hotel rooms (hmmmm hotel rooms, or rooms in the athlete's village?...hmmmm, if I recall correctly it was their hotel rooms...that does not seem very 'olympic-y' but that is not the point of this post).

In 2002 I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Canadian men's hockey team beating the American men's hockey team ON american soil - that was pretty sweet! I will discuss the women's victory later.

But I think my love for the olympics started in 1988 when I got to watch ski jumping, bobsled, hockey, and figure skating (just to name a few) all in my own back yard of Calgary. I was in grade 4 at the time and was fascinated by the "Battle of the Brians" and the final threads of the cold war - the hottest ticket in town was anybody vs. Russia. I instantly loved Eddie the Eagle and even got to watch him "soar" from the ski jump. And who could forget the Jamaican bobsled team - I even managed to get their autographs on a sweatshirt (too bad I ruined that sweatshirt!).

A lot has changed since then. Jamaica sticks to the other olympics (can you imagine if Usan Bolt decided to become a bobsledder instead?!), professional athletes are now allowed to partake, Mr. Gorbechev tore down his wall, interpretive ski-dance never made it beyond an exhibition sport, snowboarding became a sport (the highlight being when Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati was stripped of his gold medal for failing a drug test. He argued that the marijuana was from second hand smoke during a going away party before he left for the olympics. He got his gold medal back and became a national hero), Katarina Witt posed for playboy, speedskate technology changed - the new speedskate was dubbed the "clap skate" and instantly all records were demolished, mogul skiing was introduced, Tonya Harding proved that anything can be accomplished with a tire iron, Alberto Tomba seems to have been forgotten, and women started playing hockey.

Now, I agree with all of the above changes...well all but two. I often felt that interpretive ski dance was a vastly under appreciated sport. The other sport that I do not think belongs in the Olympics is women's hockey. (I will wait patiently until the rotten eggs and cabbage have been thrown my way to explain my point).

Why would any red blooded Canadian denounce hockey of any sort? To be honest I could care less if Canada won only 1 medal in the whole olympics - as long as it is gold and is for the men's hockey. So, what is different about women's hockey?

Competition. That is what is different. Every year the gold and silver medal goes to Canada and USA. All the other games are complete blowouts. Do not get me wrong, I love watching the women's hockey. The passing is phenomenal and the goals all belong on highlight reels. I am all for equality and think that it is great that both sexes have the opportunity to play hockey. Unfortunately this opportunity only seems to be prevalent in North America. Until women's hockey can prove to be competitive at the world level, I think the olympics should push this sport aside and make some more room for interpretive ski-dance again.

I am off to watch the day 5 highlights! Go Canada!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feb. 16: Ocada - Lagos

If you are ever cruisin' the streets of Lagos...hmmm, let me correct that - If your driver is ever cruisin' in Lagos with you in the car, you will undoubtably see the ocada. What are the ocada? Basically, they are motorcycle taxis. They have the distinct advantage of being able to weave in and out of traffic to get their passengers across the congested, thick Lagos gridlock.

Despite their valuable service that they provide to the pressed Lagos business man, the 'real' drivers (i.e. those that drive cars) all seem to hate them. In fact my driver (a.k.a. my main man Sunday) hopes that they will some day be banned from the streets (apparently they did this in Port Harcourt - but I cannot confirm that statement).

Personally, I find them kind of entertaining to watch (but I am not driving). Here are some photos that might show you why the drivers hate them though.


This is a picture taken in my side mirror while waiting to cross an intersection. They line up along side and in between the vehicles.


For safety reasons I am not allowed to use the Ocada to get around. But if I were to use an ocada, I would definitely use this guy.
Here they are waiting to cross the same intersection as the first two pictures. This was taken from a different point of view.
This intersection is not quite as busy. You can see the business man in the white shirt catching a ride to his next destination.


Happy cruisin' in Lagos!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Feb. 13: Time Changes Everything

10 years ago I was dating the most wonderful girl in the world and was months away from graduating from University. The whole world was my oyster (as they say) - I was young, happy, and had no idea what future lay ahead of me. All I knew was that it would be awesome!

5 years ago I had married that girl I was dating and we were enjoying the footloose and fancy-free life of DINKS (Duel Income, No Kids). We were both young professionals and could not possibly imagine that life could get any better.

1 year ago we began to wonder if perhaps we were missing something. We were still very much in love and happy but were missing something we had not yet realised. Soon after my vocabulary was enriched with such words as "ovulation chart" and 'peak ovulation time' and 'you are not going for drinks with the boys tonight - you need to come home immediately after work'.

10 days ago I had realized that knowing what I know now, I would have gotten familiar with those new words and phrases a lot earlier. I was the happiest I had ever been. Telling people that I am a father is the proudest thing that has ever left my lips.

1 day ago I went to sleep alone, 17 hours by plane away from my family. I was sad and lonely and truely missing what I only dreamed about 1 year ago.

1 hour ago I watched the highlights of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Opening ceremonies and realized that those musical video montages that they do on TV make me cry. Well, I was fine until I saw the moose wading through a swamp with some ryhtmic native drumming in the background...don't ask.

10 minutes ago I saw Mason on Skype getting ready for his first Baby Bjorn outing - it was the highlight of my day.

1 minute ago I got off Skype and started feeling really lonely again (Wow - I know what you are thinking - I must be a fast typer!!).

Time does change everything. Sometimes it is for the better and sometimes it is for the worse. I keep reminding myself that even the bad times take me moments closer to the good times ahead with my precious son and my beautiful wife again.

ps - If you could pick a winter olympic sport that you could compete in during the olympics, what sport would it be?