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Penguin Journal

Dateline: Saint Catharine's, Ontario, Canada

July 24, 2000

This weekend was the first International Penguin Flight School, held at Brock University in St. Catharine's, Ontario. Flight Schools are our versions of running camps, or running retreats, or fitness weekends, or something. What they end up being are a chance for people from diverse backgrounds to reach a common understanding.

In addition to our Canadian penguins, we were joined by a couple of Americans, one of whom was a Native-American, a full-blooded Apache. Much to my embarrassment, I realized that for all the traveling I've done in the States and abroad, I had never had a face-to-face conversation with a Native-American. Fortunately for me, she was very tolerant of my ignorance and I learned a great deal from her about the Apache culture.

Not to belabor my ignorance, but I also learned that Canadians can go to Cuba any time they want. I can't go to Cuba. But Canadian citizens can. As I told the campers, I must have been absent the day we studied Canada in my world history class!

Cultural differences aside, we were all runners. Or run/walkers. Or hikers. Or people returning to running. Or,well, at the very least we shared an interest in finding out how we could set and achieve our individual goals.

These weekend retreats are not designed to give everyone, or anyone, all the answers. What we hope they do is help each person decide on a strategy for their own success. We arm folks with heart rate monitors and begin the journey into the mysteries of effort-based training.

The campers soon realize that it ISN'T that much of a mystery. Improvement comes from finding a balance between honest effort and recovery. It's much simpler than it sounds at first.

The highlight of the weekend was the Saturday morning 5K time trial. The St. Catharine's Roadrunners club organized a 5K run especially for us. Their club president had measured and marked out a course that included some pretty nifty trails, a fairly serious climb, and a go-for-broke finish. Not bad in just 5K.

Flush with new knowledge about their training and racing heart rate "zones," the campers tackled the course. The "fun run" quickly turned into a "dash-for-the-cash," with a lead pack forming before the 1K mark. The race for the finish looked like it was going to be so much fun that Karen and I decided to double back so that we wouldn't miss it.

Soon enough, we saw them coming, with Sylvia - a PENGUIN - solidly in the lead group. As she rounded the final curve, Sylvia burst forward with a beautiful kick and took the overall win. Not far behind was Carlene in what had to be one of the strongest runs of her life. And not far behind her was Glenn, demonstrating once again why he could be a 5K specialist.

And then there was Kathryn. I ran out to meet her and asked if she wanted to "run it on in". I can't really repeat what she said, but she was clearly DEEP into the "BITE ME" zone. Later, Kelly made her way to the finish and claimed the "1st pregnant runner" award. Finally, and with determination, Rick closed in on his first finish in years. It was an emotional moment for all of us.

As always, Sunday lunch came much too soon, and we were all off to our various lives. I'm sure, though, that like me, everyone was touched by the power of the weekend.

I've got a few weeks of no travel coming up and I'm going to enjoy it. In mid August I'll run the ascent of Pike's Peak, and at the end of August I'll travel to Borneo to see Team SynTerra finish the 2000 Eco-Challenge. So...stay tuned.

Takin' it to the streets...



Penguin Wisdom
Runners may be more honest than the rest of the population. When you have to face the truth about yourself on a regular bases, it makes you more honest.



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Last Updated: July 26, 2000 9:36