Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

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Night of Dread

Trick-or-treating triplets

So here in our neighbourhood, there is always a special parade, complete with police escort. Lucky for us, it passes right in front of our house and we are often home for this frightfully, cheerfully, dreadful pre-Halloween event.  Suggested attire is black and white.

The parade is the work of the Bread and Puppet Theater, with the start and finish in that happening-park, Dufferin Grove.

I’ve spent a good part of the day learning a few new things including, how to convert movie files, how to edit movie files and signing up with Vimeo, a Youtube-like web service, where I can house my videos. Once the video is uploaded there is a delay, in accessibility as the video has to go through the approval process.

I’m pleased with the footage I got of the parade but I think this delay means, that its debut will have to wait until tomorrow.

On the training front, I ran 7 miles, mid-afternoon, a leisurely day, with a 2 1/2 hour sleep-in to 7:30 a.m.  My total mileage for the week, 67 miles.

As for Halloween, we were on the ball this year, with pumpkin and candy bought well in advance. Last year, we spent Halloween afternoon sorting through various rotting pumpkins and finally shopping at Walmart for a plastic pumpkin. Anyone who has been to Walmart at Dufferin mall on a Saturday, knows it is the last place in Toronto you want to be any Saturday, let alone Halloween Saturday.

I was pleased with my pumpkin creation, a salute to the very happy memories our family has of Tim Burton’s classic animated feature, The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Jack Skellington, my hero


And finally, everything worked out just fine.
Christmas was saved, though there wasn’t much time.
But after that night, things were never the same—
Each holiday now knew the other ones’ name.
And though that one Christmas things got out of hand,
I’m still rather fond of that skeleton man.
So many years later I thought I’d drop in,
and there was old Jack still looking quite thin,
with four or five skeleton children at hand
playing strange little tunes in their xylophone band.
And I asked old Jack, “Do you remember the night
when the sky was so dark and the moon shone so bright?
When a million small children pretending to sleep
nearly didn’t have Christmas at all, so to speak?”
And would you, if you could, turn that mighty clock back
to that long, fateful night, now think carefully, Jack.
Would you do the whole thing all over again,
knowing what you know now, knowing what you knew then?”
And he smiled, like the old Pumpkin King that I knew,
then turned and asked softly of me, “Wouldn’t you?”

Closing, Nightmare Before Christmas

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Honey, I’m home (from my 21 miler)

Last week due to the absence of B, whose home we often meet at, we converged at the washrooms of the Art Barn on Christie, just as the Farmer’s market was getting set up.   My husband ended his run there and enjoyed some novel, although expensive grocery shopping. This week he drove to B’s and ran a few miles with us before heading back.

Farmers Market at the Art Barn

Beta carotene, nutritious and colourful

As described yesterday, the plan for today was to meet at B’s. We headed to the Kay Gardiner beltline, then to the cemetery. I did a triple pass of the beltline and a second foray into the cemetery, exiting on Yonge, with a pit stop at Tim Horton’s.

I purposely ran down Poplar Plains road, to see how the quads would hold up to the downhill pounding. Not bad, feeling stronger, fitter and toughened up to 3 hours plus of pounding. I ran down Huron to Harbord and picked up the pace for the last mile and half. Great to finish feeling strong.

Fabulous fatty latty

As soon as I entered the house, my husband handed me my fatty latty, A.K.A. my triple-venti-whole milk-vanilla-latte. This is my regular Starbuck’s drink although lately I sometimes order a triple-venti-half-sweet-pumpkin spice latte with no whipped cream.

Farmer's market cauliflower, just another variety

He reported on what he had been doing while I was running for 3 hours and 20 minutes. He bought vegies and bread at the farmer’s market, meat at the Grace street meat market and brunch was about to be served.

Farmer's market potatoes, beef breakfast strips and scrambled eggs

This warm welcome home was the highlight of my long run – thank you darling!

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The p’s and q’s of the Saturday run

Friday, the day before the  long run. I’m hoping to run about 20 miles, which I have not done for about 2 1/2 years. Starting on Thursday, an email thread is launched to organize departure time and route.  There was a time when we met at the same time, same place every week but there is a new regime of inclusiveness and this means we are flexible.

So the plan is that I run to R’s, and then we run to B’s where we will meet D and B and J.  My husband P, will drive to B’s as he is not running nearly as far as most of us.  Some of the constraints are that D, cannot run downhill because of a bad knee.  P, has bad knees but his approach to becoming injury free is to very gradually increase the distance of his longest run, which is why he drives to B’s.

L’s agenda is to maximize the amount of time that she has company, as the longest that others will run is 90 minutes.  L is expecting to be on the road for close to 3 1/2 hours.

By some standards the group has gotten very lax in that it will actually adapt to B’s expected late Friday night outing.  The most important constraint has always been the demands of family life.  Getting back in time for family activities is a high priority on the planning agenda.

Corner table at Bloor Street Diner

Corner table at Bloor Street Diner

As for us, with the temporary empty nest, we usually celebrate the end of the work week by eating out.  Most often at the Bloor street diner in the Manulife centre.  On Friday, I often have two glasses of sparkling wine, which I sometimes regret as I ready myself for the run the next morning.  We both had eggs Benedict and I fueled up with a mascaparone lemon meringue cake.

Friday carbo-load

Hoping for good weather tomorrow morning, a deer sighting in Mt. Pleasant and wishing all a relaxing evening!


Eight miles high

Last night, I woke 90 minutes after going to sleep with quite a stomach ache.  I immediately suspected my dinner of tempura shrimp, as it did not seem all that fresh and the supposed-to-be-light tempura batter was a shadow of what it should be.  Within 15 minutes I was “tossing my cookies” but after one bout, was much better for it.  I woke this morning feeling almost 100% and did a 2 mile run with a plan to run home from work.

There’s something about working 8 miles from home that makes a run home more satisfying than the 6 miles or 4 miles of my previous workplaces.  I’ve migrated in the last 4 years from Yonge & St. Clair to Yonge & Eglinton and now, York Mills and Yonge.  The average travel time is about 45 minutes.  I guess it is the super-time-saver me, that rejoices in saving 45 minutes! Especially when the 45 minutes in question are spent in a subway, on a subway platform or transferring at Yonge station.

8 miles home

As I started out, rain began to fall but thankfully let up.  There are two major hills in the first two miles, heading south on Yonge.  The infamous Hogg’s Hollow hill and a hill that starts at Lawrence.  After those climbs, there is great satisfaction in knowing it is downhill most all the way, wheeeeee!

I have to confess that I broke my moratorium on shopping when I went by Foot Locker.  I have had my eye on a pair of boots manufactured by an athletic company.  I asked if I could pay for the boots and pick them up tomorrow but they said it would be better if had them put aside and paid for them upon pick up.  Some sort of technicality about absolving themselves of responsibility for property that is no longer theirs.

A couple of years ago I bought a pair of very sturdy, sensible looking Geoxx boots but they were a disappointment in that the soles had no grip in spite of being rubber with the appearance of heavy treads.  I sprained my ankle that winter, while wearing those boots.  I’m putting my faith in a athletic shoe company to have a real tread, not a fashion tread.

When I left the store it had begun to rain again but lucky me, in 10 minutes it let up once again.  It was truly invigorating to escape the sardine-like conditions of the subway and I felt as though I was flying, in the dark, running downhill.  I started my speedwork when I hit St. Clair, and turned west.  My total fast running was roughly 15 minutes.  With sections of 2 1/2 minutes running quite hard.  It is a lot easier to run fast in the evening, than early morning.  Particularly after sitting at a desk for 7 hours.

It struck me that this 8 mile route is very similar to the last 8 miles of the Boston marathon with the two major hills and then the very fast, final 10K.  What a great simulation route.

The run was entirely satisfying and when I got home I cooked up some pasta and had my dinner while soaking in the tub.

Life is good . . . very good!

Red wing blackbird in the Music Garden, October 17th

Blackbird fly
Blackbird fly, into the light of a dark black night

Paul McCartney

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Out and about, running and otherwise

Did a double-workout on Monday which made for a busy day with fitting in a workout and a vote, post-work.

Tuesday, we went to the BELL LIGHTBOX for the York University student film awards.  A friend of our son’s was one of 22 finalists out of 176 entrants.  Last year, he won 3 awards, however in spite of no awards won this year, his poignant film, Plants Out of the Sunlight was picked by the jurors to be part of the evening’s 9 showpiece films.  The film is about “”an Asian immigrant, working at a sewing factory who longs for a connection with her 23 year old son”.  The film captures with precision, sensitivity and nuance, a timeless story of displacement and its impact on parental hopes and longing.  Extraordinary.  I hope this young man gets to make a feature film one day.

Up and coming filmmakers

The venue itself is an event in itself with a new Oliver and Bonancini Cafe on the ground floor, the Blackberry Cafe on the second floor, multiple theatres with plush seats and a power packed line up of films.

Another new OB Cafe = Bell Lightbox Location

Papparazzi catch my husband outside Bell Lightbox, getting into a taxi enroute to the Emmett Ray

The list of 100 Essential Films is a democratic concoction of “bests”.  Two of my personal faves made the list, Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar and Ugetsu Monigatari by Mizoguchi.  I own copies of both these films and with persistent enthusiasm, regularly insist on lending them to friends For a great evening out, don’t delay, check out BELL LIGHTBOX.  I’ve added the link to my blogroll.  We were in high spirits so we made a stop at our local bar, The Emmett Ray for a nightcap and got to bed, at a very-late-for-us, post 11 p.m.

Today, Wednesday, I met two former workmates for dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Yorkville.  One friend is about to embark on the incredible journey, the journey of parenthood.  She is due on November 6th.

Friend 1 and friend 2 at the RCM

I conducted a mini-walking tour past the ROM, Varsity track and through the newly renovated RCM.  We picked up schedules for Koerner Hall.   I’ve seen a couple of shows there, Penderecki Plus and a Serbian Choir. The acoustics at  Koerner Hall are rated higher than the opera house.  We have tickets to see the music of Arvo Part and Murray Schaeffer performed on November 7th.  I’ve also posted Koerner Hall on my blogroll for your convenience 🙂

So having done the usual morning run, I’m feeling a bit beat now and will head to bed.

Bon soir!

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Run two miles in my shoes

The other week, I ran with a neighbour who had recently purchased a couple of pairs of running shoes.  She was not altogether pleased with early signs of wear and tear on the mesh toe box.  Turns out that we both have the same size foot so with two miles to go, I suggested that she take a test run in my shoes.  I have been wearing New Balance running shoes exclusively since 1995, ever since winning a pair at the Spring-Run Off 8K in High Park.

New Balance 758's

I had purchased only one pair of New Balance shoes prior to that and due to poor advice from a salesperson, ended up with a too-big pair of New Balance shoes back in the early 80’s.  Unfortunately, this bad fitting, deterred me from the brand, and highlights the importance of buying your shoes at a place with a reputation for knowledgeable staff, such as New Balance stores.

New Balance is known to long-time runners as being at the footwear-forefront of the first running boom of the 70′s and 80′s.  The Boston based company started out in 1906 as the New Balance Arch Support (NBAS) company and evolved into the New Balance Athletic Shoe (NBAS) company

Like many long-lived companies, the philosophy has been to avoid expensive advertising in favour of research and design excellence.  In spite of competition from larger athletic shoe companies  it has exceptional brand recognition for state-of-the-art shoe design and competitive pricing.  It sponsors world-class runners and local champions (a story for another day) with an emphasis on the community involvement of these athletes.  The price tag for New Balance shoes  is far less than companies who market their products by seeking endorsements of the Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan’s of the world.

The pair my neighbour test-ran were the NB760’s and she asked me to quote her, “good shoes, good shoes” as she ran along, and again, “good shoes, good shoes”.  She also commented that my shoes felt more cushioned than her new shoes in spite of the fact that my shoes were at the end of their life.  I also use the NB special insoles that you can buy for about $30, and last for a couple of years.  The other New Balance shoe I wear is the NB950.  This shoe is a bit lighter and streamlined so I wear this for my faster paced workouts.

As for my experience of wearing another brand, truthfully, I was surprised in my dissappointment.  Go New Balance!

“Yet if a woman never lets herself go, how will she ever know how far she might have got? If she never takes off her high-heeled shoes, how will she ever know how far she could walk or how fast she could run?”  Germaine Greer

New Balance 950

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Finally, I surpassed 60 miles in training. Sunday, is my day to turn off the alarm clock and I was happy to rise 1 1/2 hours past the usual, rising at 6:30 a.m. I have always been a morning person.

After yesterdays 18.5 miler, a recovery run was in order. In fact, the highest order of recovery run, which I refer to as a massage-run – slow pace and low heart-rate zone, about 112-125. Massage-runs are best done on the treadmill because the soft surface is oh-so gentle on tired legs. While the surface is ideal, I really prefer running outdoors, except when faced with cold fall or spring rain. And if you ever wondered why runners have that annoying habit of running on the road rather than the sidewalk, the reason is pavement does have a bit of shock absorption.

While running through Mt. Pleasant cemetery yesterday, we once again saw a deer. This time I was ready with my camera but unfortunately the deer was not quite so close as at the last spotting.

Another highlight of the long run came at the 16 mile point, when I dropped in on my brother and his family to use the facilities and for a glass of water. My sister-in-law has a treadmill and reported that she has increased her pace from 4.5 to 6.0 and is loving it. She is following in the footsteps of my one and only sister, who also runs on a treadmill and over the past year, has decided to speed up. The kids confessed to various misdemeanors involving surreptitious treadmill usage. I provided a cautionary tale of a friend who was badly injured when she stumbled on a treadmill.

My brother and nephew were on their way out to fish, and I took this quick shot of my 6 & 11 year old nieces.

As for the tally this week . . .

Mon. 9 (3 + 6)
Tues. 6
Wed. 7
Thurs. 9 (3 + 6)
Fri. 7
Sat. 18.5
Sun. 6
Total 62.5


Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.

1 Corinthians 9:26

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New age category 55-59

To those unfamiliar with the award structure of most races/fun runs, medals or prizes are often awarded for the fastest in age-group categories.  Hence, those who make it their business, to try and run fast, find satisfaction in a birthday that propels them into a new category.  With the diminishing returns on speed that comes with aging, it is easier to place in your age category when you are at lower end of the age range.  The past week I crossed this threshold, which as it loomed on the horizon, did stimulate my competitive instincts.

Birthday morning marching orders, sandwich-to-go please

The celebratory evening started with a reception at the Rouge Concept Gallery at Queen and Broadview.  The event was a kick-off for the Philip Aziz Centre’s capital campaign for their children’s hospice.  We had a nice chat with Deb Matthews, the Minister of Health and long-term care.  She told us that she asked George Smitherman what work did he feel was left undone, he replied palliative care. In addition to potentially providing a more humane place to live final days, hospice care, is also cost-effective.

Dulce de leche pannecotta - delicioso

George Smitherman attended a gala for the Philip Aziz Centre, a few years back.  During his time as Minister, he had identified a gap in palliative care and hospice care and committed funds to hospice organizations.  The children’s hospice, the first in Toronto, believe it or not, would not have been possible without his support.  I was also impressed that he took the time to attend our very small gala of 150 guests.  At the time I was involved professionally with a super-sized gala with 4000 guests and we were not able to have him drop by.  He told the small gala group, that this was a project that he supported wholeheartedly.

I find it interesting that Smitherman is categorized as being in the same boat as David Miller without any distinctions.  People forget that he was the campaign manager for Barbara Hall when she lost to David Miller in 2003 mayoralty race.

From there we went to the new Oliver and Bonacini Café Grill restaurant at Yonge and Front for a birthday dinner.  We had a reservation and were shown to one of the best tables in the house, a booth.

On our table was a bouquet of cellophane-wrapped roses.  With all due respect to my husband, it never occurred to me that he would have thought to coordinate the appearance of roses in this manner.  When prompted that there was a gift card on the bouquet that I should read, I was amazed to find a birthday greeting.  I confided my reason for astonishment and he confessed.  When he made the on-line reservation, a pop-up window appeared asking if the reservation was for a special occasion for which flowers might be needed.  Nonetheless, the flowers were a very nice touch indeed.

Cozy booth and flowers, a winning formula

The menu is very well-priced with personal pizzas and burgers at $13, the same pricing as our beloved-local-verging-on-grungy pub.  Of course, the menu extends beyond pub fare but many of those items are still under $20, which is much the same as most College street restaurants.  Service was superb with the only complaint being that the music was a bit too loud and boppy.  However, maybe we are just a bit too old, and out of their target-market-age-group. We are part of a wonderful marriage enrichment group and we spent time while awaiting our dinner, composing a letter to a couple who are attending their first weekend retreat.

When asked what I wanted for my birthday (at the risk of sounding like a saint), I said that I wanted to make a donation to the PAC capital campaign.  I really do have everything I need and feel very grateful for a good life.

Happy birthday to me!

LUSH gift box from my son

LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

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View From the Bridge

View from bridge on Strachan, overlooking Fort York at 7:00 a.m. this morning

End of week, long day, short post.  Incidentally, we saw the Arthur Miller play, View From the Bridge in London, spring of 2009.

Here is the Guardian review http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/feb/06/view-from-bridge-review

Aboard the College streetcar, heading home, I spot a neighbour, a former world-class talent training with his teenage daughter. Good night all!

View from a Streetcar: Devoted runner dad and daughter


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Guess where I was at 6:30 a.m.?

Sobey's - open 24 hours

I you said grocery store, you are correct.  I forgot to set my alarm last night and woke at 5:45 a.m. rather than the usual 5 a.m.  Rather than rush out the door to run 8 miles, I decided on the double-workout as I did on Monday.

Eyes closed but wide awake

The light bulb went on, as I realized that a 24 hour Sobey’s is about 15 minutes from our place.  The exact amount of time I wanted to run this morning.  So, off I went with my mini-backpack to fetch the parsley I needed for my bean salad lunch.

In case you are wondering how got a photo of myself, I propped the camera on a display and set the auto-timer.

I have taken my lunch to work 14 straight days and was headed to 15 days but a workmate has asked me to lunch with her tomorrow. We will dine at the Auberge du Pommier and probably order their lunch special.

As for the bean salad, it is an extremely easy salad to compose. It is an adaptation of a salad recipe I found years ago in Metropolitan Home magazine.

Lima Bean Lover Salad

1 can lima beans
1 can black-eyed peas
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, chopped in half

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or balsamic cream
1 tablespoon honey

Lima bean lover's delight