Sundays and Summers in the Desert

A year ago, my Sundays looked a lot different than they do today. I would typically roll out of bed around 10 at the earliest, often hungover, eat, and settle in for anywhere between 8 and 12 hours of online poker.

When I began training for my first marathon at this time last year, I hoped that I wouldn’t have to sacrifice my Sunday poker ritual. I’d been doing it for a number of years and had been fortunate enough to experience some success and earn a supplementary income all the while keeping it fun and challenging.

Not surprisingly, I felt a lot better sitting down to play poker after a 16 to 32 km run than I did after a late night out and sleeping in. The switch to a healthier routine made me sharper and more focused, and although it didn’t always show in my results (poker is a game of luck over the short run after all), I noticed a significant increase not only in my overall well-being, but in my confidence at the tables.

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Every summer the world’s most skilled live poker players, starry-eyed amateurs and online grinders descend upon the American desert for up to two months in an attempt to make their mark at the World Series of Poker and take home a gold bracelet (along with life-changing money.) A year ago less a week, I took a break from the virtual felt and traveled to Las Vegas for the seventh straight summer with that same goal. When I returned a week later gold-less, title-less, with a few less dollars to my name but eager to starting training for my first marathon, I had no doubt that I would be back again next year.

As I make the trip to Vegas for the eighth summer, I’m feeling a lot more uncertain about about my poker future. With limited vacation time, an expanding list of commitments including the awesome opportunity of co-leading this summer’s marathon clinic at the Broadway Running Room, and a growing passion for triathlon, it’s difficult to justify a ten day retreat to a city I don’t particularly enjoy, to spend most of my time with people I don’t know. Not unlike a destination marathon, the prospect of a destination poker trip like the one I did to Barcelona a couple of years ago is starting to feel like a much more appealing option to the WSOP grind. Better yet, a poker/marathon/destination trifecta!

Whatever the future has in store for me poker-wise, I’m doing my best to approach this year’s series with a positive attitude and a sharp mind. A few weeks ago I wasn’t feeling so confident that I’d be able to do that but with a couple of new exciting tournaments added to this year’s schedule, I can sense my optimism building as it always does at this time of year. I’m also going to hold myself to my promise of staying active and maybe even taking a day drip out to Red Rock or Lake Mead for a long run.

Regardless of my results over the next ten days, I’m grateful to know that I’ll return to Vancouver well-rested and ready to get back to work and training. As to whether or not I’ll be able to afford a fancy new road bike, it’s all (veggie) gravy.

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The 2014 Calgary Marathon – MORE COWBELL

On the afternoon of May 31, 2014, I arrived at my new home for the weekend, Eleanor Town, having been greeted by the town’s mayor, Eleanor. And, luckily for you, the cameras were rolling…

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Reunion of the mayors of Greg City and Eleanor Town

On the morning of June 1, 2014, I awoke to the sound of my Broadway Running Roommates’ voices in my head… “Don’t blow this for us, Gene!” “Quit being so selfish, Gene!”

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But I kept telling myself, “You know what? It’s fine. Let’s just do the thing.”

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I arrived at the start line on the Calgary Stampede grounds unsure, nervous, edgy.

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And then the thought occurred to me, “I’m standing here, staring at pace bunny legend Alan Yu. And if Alan Yu wants more cowbell, I should probably give him more cowbell!”

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And we were off.

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6k – “Melissa, wait! Why don’t you lay down that cowbell right now? With me. Together.”

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17k – “All our times have come, Here, but now they’re gone.” – Pargol Lakhan / The Blue Oyster Cult

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23k – “Babies, before we’re done here, y’all be wearing gold-plated belt buckle medals.”

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25k – “Gene, you know… that… it doesn’t work for me. I gotta have more cowbell!” – the Orginal Greg

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29k – “Guess what? We got a fever! And the only prescription is MORE COWBELL.” – Celtic band Cabot’s Crossing

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35k – “And I’d be doing myself a disservice — and every member of this Calysto Steel Band, if I didn’t perform the HELL out of this!”

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40k – “I’ll be honest cuz, it was sounding great. But I could’ve used a little more cowbell. So, let’s take it again, and Gene, really explore the marathon space this time.” – Jolene Lawson

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“Easy, guys. I put my jorts on just like the rest of you — one leg at a time. Except, once my jorts are on, I run marathons.”

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Chip Time – 3:41.40
Overall – 234/1656
M – 185/965
M30-34 – 28/123