Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

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Downhill from here – Day 6

The up aide of not having companions for the run is that I was able to sleep in 90 minutes. One feature of my 5 a.m. rising time is that it factors in at least an hour, if not more, of coffee time before I head out the door for a run. I try and stick to this “at-least-one-hour” rule whenever possible.

Since rain was not on the horizon, I enjoyed taking my time gearing up for the long run. This can be a “slippery slope” of procrastination as one finds must-do errands like polishing the silver, suddenly arising. Generally, I find it a lot easier to get out the door when there are constraints to work around.

Running buddy and dog walker

My husband, knowing too well, the pitfalls of procrastination urged me on and we came up with a plan for him to merge his 30 minute run with my run. To ensure a successful co-joining, I took along my Blackberry. I left the house just after 9 a.m. and ran towards High Park. Once at the park, I ran counter-clockwise on the trails. Along this short section I ran into several people I know.

As I meandered along, listening to my audio-book, I was startled by a dog and let out a little scream. I looked up and there was a former running buddy, in his civvies, telling me that he had been yelling at me to warn me that being leapt at was imminent. We had a good chuckle and I took a photo of them.
A few minutes later I ran into someone else, I stopped and told her that I am working for an organization that she used to work for. We exchanged stories, which was interesting and enlightening.

A favourite section of High Park trail

A few others, ran by and waved, notably a woman my age, who I used to run with quite a bit. I stopped, and turned but she ran on, a runner with a “train to catch”. We did the Boston marathon one year, it was her first and I remember feeling bad that she got an XL t-shirt as she is a tiny person. Too bad to get there and not have a wearable memento.

Then out to the lake and just as I spotted the assigned meeting spot, I also saw my husband pulling in with the car. He had some gatorade for me, I fueled up and then we headed west on the boardwalk to the Humber River spit.

Husband runs Humber River spit

We ran 30 minutes through the most scenic part of the run, the Palace Pier bridge, the Butterfly Garden and then the Humber River spit. We parted company and I headed east.

Inukshuk along the Butterfly Garden

At Marilyn Bell park, my BB went off and it was a message from the only friend with a blog (that I know of), wishing me a good run. I replied, telling her that I was at mile 12. Technology, isn’t it a wonder. A long distance runner need never feel lonely again.

I ran east to the turnaround point of my shorter daily runs and then home, with a stop at Starbuck’s for a total of 18 miles. WooHoo, the hardest part of my marathon training is done, it IS downhill from here until the big party a.k.a. the marathon.

Humber River spit, the beach

Marilyn Bell park, good view while checking email

The pleasure of the post-long run bath has been enhanced with the marvelous bath salts my son gave me from LUSH. I popped the final one into my bath and it was the equivalent of grand finale, fireworks display. It produced an incredibly frothy, fragrant environment, with both bath salts and bath oil combined. I’m not really the spa type but I’m definitely going to visit this store. Men, if you are looking for a gift for a woman, check out LUSH, Fresh Handmade Natural Cosmetics. I think they call this bath product, a bath bomb.

Post-run treats, latte and Creamy Candy Bubble Bar from LUSH

I marvel at the contrast between exertion and then total relaxation.  In my mind the experience of relaxation is all the more intense and enjoyable because of this contrast.

Husband and son have just arrived with a Italian veal sandwich from California Sandwich.  Life is good.

Happy weekend to all!


What I think about with 17 days to the marathon – Day 5

In the past, I would have thought a lot more about the marathon, with utmost attention to detail.  This marathon is to be a low-key, under-the-radar effort.  Normally, I would have run a number of races leading up to the marathon to gauge my fitness level but this time round, I’m not at all sure what to expect.

I’ve decided to run according to my heart rate.  My marathon pace effort should be in the 145-150 range.  So I’ll start out very conservatively, running in the 140-145 range.  I’m hoping that I can average 8:30 minutes per mile which is quite a significant slow down from the 7:15 minutes per mile I ran 5 years ago, for a finish time of 3:10:09.  I think an 8:30 pace will result in around 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Tonight as we discussed the logistics of the Sacramento event, my husband reminisced about time he spent as a young man, a grad-student, runner in Cambridge, England.  He ran in the Milton Keynes marathon, in Milton Keynes.  The 5K split times were recorded for every runner, which in those days was something of a feat as this was done manually for all of the 100 runners in the event.  He recalls that these results were the subject of intense scrutiny and fascination.  My husband ran his personal best time, a very respectable 2 hours and 36 minutes at the Detroit marathon in 1985.  I’m sure if he had logged the kind of mileage that I have done, he could have run under 2 hours and 30 minutes.

St. John's College, Cambridge University

Part of my mental preparation has been to listen to the audio book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.  It was recommended by one of the Saturday runners and my husband.  While on my way to work, I found myself laughing out loud at the author’s description of his run on THE marathon route in Athens.  It is quite an entertaining earful although I suspect that it is mainly runners who would find it so.

We skipped our usual Friday night out, for a quiet dinner at home, no wine and early to bed, in order to be fresh for the 18-21 miler tomorrow.  I’m feeling a little abandoned as out of the group of four, two are out-of-town, one is sick and the other has to run very early to attend a funeral.  Oh, poor me, I have no company.  But, I know I’ll feel quite satisifed with myself, once the deed is done, and more so, for having run solo.  And, there is my audio book to listen to.

Going back to the Cambridge reference, we were there last year in the spring and did a run along the river that was quite delightful.  Although, I’m remembering now that my husband’s knee took quite a beating as he ran farther than he should have, and then we walked for many hours. I really miss having my husband as my running buddy on trips.  We have enjoyed some very nice tourist runs, with one of the most memorable being in Sligo, Ireland, along a river and out into the country. Yes, I miss that a lot.

Sigh . . .


Four days, 42 miles – Day 4

Ran 6 miles to the lake in the morning.  Baked a lasagna before work.  Someone at work said they heard I was running home from work 3 times this week.  I don’t mention that I also run in the morning, as I don’t want them to think I am a lunatic 🙂

Then 5 miles after work, on a treadmill at the Central Y, my husband in the other corner of the room on the elliptical trainer.

Authentic Pad Thai

Dinner at a Thai restaurant on Gloucester.  I ordered an “authentic” Pad Thai which comes wrapped in a crepe.  Then to husband’s work party at the Elephant & Castle on King.  One glass of red wine, lots of nice chats.  Home in a cab.  Set record for shortest post to date.  Time for bed.

ZZZ . . .

Husband, caught by papparazzi, leaving Elephant and Castle on King Street, 9:50 p.m.

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It’s not only me that’s high on adrenalin – Day 3

An unusual two-post day to make up for yesterday.  Early to bed, I went and I slept in to 5:30 a.m. so I felt refreshed.  I was looking forward to a three mile run with my husband but the rainy morning intervened and we ran side-by-side on treadmills at the Y.  The main interaction was when he leaned over to point out that I was on the cartoon channel.  I was immersed in starting the audio book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and had not noticed that Sponge Bob or similar was airing right in front of me.  I switched to the Discovery Channel, as there is always the hope that one might catch sight of some green spaces.

I’ve started fine-tuning my routine at the end of the work day, when I am running home.  I wear my sports bra, and shorts under my pants to make the transition to running gear smoother.  Around 4:30 p.m. I change into my running top and then all I have to do is quickly remove my work pants behind a partition and slip into my running pants.   Fortunately, the winds had died down and there was no rain.  I started my fast sections around Sporting Life on Yonge.  The tennis courts at Winston Churchill Park are no longer on, so I have to avoid the more scenic section of the path.  As I ran through the park, I thought, “What a funny person I am to be here in the near dark, after work, working out with such intensity.  How did I get to this place?”

Shortly after as I ran along Dupont, during a rest section, 5 women flew by me, doing the type of speedwork that I was doing.  One waved, and I realized it was Nicole Stevenson, one of Canada’s top marathoners.  I regretted that I was in the rest phase of my run and wished I too had been whizzing by. 

Click here to see my earlier blog about running into Nicole Stevenson and her charges in Mt. Pleasant cemetery.

Do I look like I'm trying my best here?

About half a mile later, I could feel someone on my shoulder, and to my surprise it was a young woman who must have been trying to keep up to me.  She passed me when I finished the fast section and ran on.  I passed her when I started to run hard again, and then she passed me when I stopped.  This scenario repeated itself a couple more times until we parted ways at Ossington and Bloor.  I wonder if she could tell in the dark that I was 25-30 years older than her 🙂

So by the end of the run, I did not feel so “funny”, how many other women are out there running hard in the dark on a November night?  Because of the piggy back sprinting down Ossington street, I was quite tired and doing a jog-walk afterward so I popped into the grocery store and jogged home with my purchases.  I felt quite happy to turned commuting time into fitness time, with an errand thrown in for good measure.   Dinner was gnocchi with meat sauce (defrosted this a.m.) and as I wind down, I’m finding it hard to face the dirty dishes.  There is always the morning.

Now for the hot bath . . .

Bon soir!

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Staying awake is hard to do – Day 2

Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 6:55 a.m. - Western Boardwalk

Rising at 4:30 a.m. before my alarm, did not bode well for an evening at the theatre. The extra time did however, enable me to feel quite prepared and on top of my day. I could feel the effect of last night’s hard workout in my legs during my easy 7 miler to the lake.

The work day whizzed by and at the end of the work day everyone but I seemed to have been alerted to the big storm. I did take a walk at lunch but the sky while overcast was not broadcasting a storm. A colleague kindly offered to drop me off at the India Rice Factory.

The route there is very similar to my running route home. It was an eye opener to be stuck in the heavy stop and start traffic down Yonge and Avenue road and motion sickness kicked in. I found myself savouring the freedom of my runs and I slowly felt myself turning green. The weird affliction of motion sickness in my case, seems to be exacerbated by an empty stomach. I had lunch early and realized that I was hungry, very hungry.

I arrived at my destination early and immediately ordered corn fritters and a mango lassi.  The mango lassi was superb and just the thing for the fading me. My only prior visit to the India Rice Factory was 25 years ago when I lived on Howland avenue.  The restaurant was quiet with relaxing lighting and I began to feel better. The butter chicken I ordered was excellent.

We arrived at the Tarragon Theatre with 10 minutes to go, just enough time for 2 ounces of coffee.  A shadow of the double or triple espresso caffeine intervention I sensed I needed.  I began to feel apprehensive about my ability to stay awake for 85 minutes of a monologue. A well-founded fear it was, as I was nodding off for at least half the play. Note to self, do not go to the theatre during a big week of training.

My friend was quite keen on the play. My review, not engaging enough to keep a early-rising-big-mileage-marathoner awake. My apologies to the actress, who I felt certain was looking right at me during the performance of  The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.

Then there was the storm to contend with.  Fortunately I was wearing a highly functional Sierra Designs raincoat and had an umbrella and had great luck with the arrival of the Dupont and Ossington buses.  So home safely, no time to blog and straight to bed.

Sweet dreams to me!

p.s.  Note to self, remember to pack Starbuck’s canned double espresso drink as an emergency caffeine fix. This used to be a staple item, when I was taking evening courses.

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Let the miles begin – Day 1

For my own records, I’m going to audit my activities of my big training week.

I woke at 5 a.m. and left for my run just after 6 a.m.  I like to get up early because it gives me time to relax and enjoy a coffee before the run.  I ran to the lake and then a bit westward.  Lately, breakfast has been mini-wheats, a favourite of my husband’s.  I got out the door a bit late, with trying to figure out what to take to work with the planned run home.

There’s a bit of planning involved in which coat to leave behind at work.  And, which clothes will be ready for cleaning after this “wearing” as they will be transported home scrunched in a big tote bag.  I wear my running shoes to work, as I have a supply of work shoes at the office.

The lake, just east of Ontario Place - Monday November 15, 2010, 6:40 a.m.

Coronation Park, Monday, November 15, 2010 - 6:30 a.m.

Work is extremely busy now and in order to face the day of work and conserve my energy for running, I often meditate and say a prayer or two on the subway to centre my thoughts and energy. It helps to be listening to quiet music while doing this.

I didn’t get out for lunch until 1:30, although I ate my peanut butter and banana sandwich around 11 a.m. I took the subway to the Lawrence station and visited the Lock Library at the corner. I was able to get an audio version of “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami. Then a stop at Starbuck’s and back to work via subway.

Mini-Wheats, lots of fibre, a current favourite

I worked until 5:30 p.m. and then felt a great sense of liberation as I left work to run home. I did about 38 minutes of tempo running in three sections. I got home just after 7 p.m. and felt GREAT!!! Running home is a sensational way to transition from a busy work day.

But now, I must leave blogging behind, spend time with my husband and get to sleep at a decent hour. Especially since I will be going to a play tomorrow evening, which starts at 8:00 p.m.

Best wishes to all!


Big week ahead

I’m not sure if sipping a glass of red wine is the best preparation for the 75-80 mile week ahead however here I am in recovery mode from a weekend of shopping.  Shopping is something I try to avoid while in heavy marathon training as running becomes top priority for expending leg energy.  It was however a nice diversion for my easy week of running.

Waiting to be filled with Christmas cookies

The main source of fun is often, a trip to Target.  A lot of the purchases made at Target were in preparation for the holidays, wrapping paper, festive cookie containers, stocking stuffers and paper party products.  I am an avid baker and I’m looking forward to posting photos of my holiday baking as well as the recipes.  I love the holiday season and in our household it officially kicks off with the Advent Vespers at St. Basil’s church.  I’m finding it hard to hold off on the temptation to start listening to my playlist of Christmas Carols on my IPod.  And, I’m looking forward to seeing the festive tree in Union square, San Francisco on our post-marathon days there.

Ready for holiday wrapping

Yesterday morning, I was quite tired, mentally, from the late night at work but I did get out for 3 miles before leaving town.  This morning I ran another 3 miles on the treadmill.  With all this rest, and the missed speedwork on Friday, I should be feeling pretty peppy tomorrow.

The plan for the week is something like this.

Monday – a.m. 5 miles / p.m. 8 miles with tempo work or speedwork

Tuesday – 7-8 miles

Wednesday – a.m. 3 miles / p.m. 8 miles with tempo work or speedwork

Thursday – a.m. 3-4  miles / p.m. 8 miles easy pace

Friday – a.m. 7-8 miles easy pace

Saturday – 18-20 miles

Sunday – 7-8 miles very easy

Total for the week 75-80 miles

What will it take to pull off this week successfully?  Number one, it means carefully monitoring hours of sleep and getting to bed at a decent hour.  Eating a good breakfast and making sure to have some protein, no longer than 20 minutes after each workout.  Limiting alcohol consumption.  Alcohol interferes with REM sleep, among other things.

I enjoyed hearing about the fitness routines of my sister and sister-in-law.  Both, do most of their running in the evening as their mornings are very busy.  As mentioned earlier, my sister has four kids and my sister-in-law has three kids.  My sister’s PRECOR treadmill has held up very well.  She has had it for six years and it has survived an episode of an exercise ball getting pulled complete under the belt.  I guess these things happen when you have four kids.  They both took it easy this morning but were planning to run later this evening.

The elusive Petite, Size 0, on sale

The border crossing was not as bad as earlier trips with 30 minutes to clear customs and no waiting at all to pay duty.  We always declare what we have purchased, a family tradition, instilled in us by our mom.

We had a wonderful time together and talked about our next outing, hoping to include our mom and another sister-in-law who gave birth to a son in August.  My parents have 14 grandchildren, with an even split between the sexes.

Well, better tuck into dinner and get prepared for the week.

Happy end-of-weekend to all!

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No long run today

Away they go

After a few weeks of long runs on Saturday. It is time for a break for fun with my running-sister and running-sister-in-law. Our get togethers sometimes involve clothing swaps, as all three of us are similar in size.

We end the day at The Cheesecake Company, all three of us ordering the Asian Chicken Salad (one without the chicken) and a three-way split of a very large piece of cheesecake.

Tonight we taught our sister-in-law how to do planks. As I write, my hockey playing sister, mother of a 8, 6, 4 and 2 year old is doing her ab exercises and push-ups.  Well done, sister!  But, I’m going to bed now.


Caramel, dulce de leche cheesecake, shared three ways

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Sacramento, ready or not

If you have been following my blog, you may have started to wonder where and when I was planning to run my marathon.  Fairly early on in the short history of my blogging, I mentioned Sacramento in this POST. However, with my new, very busy job, I was not sure whether I could get the time off.  Although, I began to find myself resolving to run the marathon, even if I had to fly out for a 2-day weekend.  Thankfully, I am able to take 3 days off so we will spend a couple of days in San Francisco after the race.  The marathon is called the California International Marathon or CIM.

Three years ago, I ran a 30K in Sacramento in 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I was very disappointed with my time.   Well my outlook is quite different now, and my former running self seems like skin, I’ve long since shed.  I suppose the aging process has a lot to do with the surreal aspect of feeling disconnected from the vigour of former days.  Anyhow, I am excited and am looking at this marathon as Phase One, with the next marathon to be faster.  I have to start somewhere and time is not on my side, as Ed Whitlock has said of his running adventures.

Clark County 30K (Sacramento)

I was supposed to run home from work tonight but something came up at work and I was there until 9:30 p.m.  But, I am an eternal optimist and I tell myself that something good will come out of missing this workout 🙂  The week is becoming a much easier week than planned.

Take care everyone and think nice thoughts!

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Run for the sun

On that account, we can’t complain of the number of sunny days in November.  What a beautiful month it has been.  My morning run was all about chasing down the sunrise.  Thanks to the return of early morning light, I was able to run west on the quieter part of the Martin Goodman Trail.  Armed with the knowledge that the sun would rise at 7:06, I found myself in perfect position for a full view of the sunrise, the unobstructed boardwalk along Marilyn Bell Park.

View from Marilyn Bell Park, 7:06 a.m. November 11, 2010

Rower near Ontario Place, November 11, 2010, 7:08 a.m.

I will save my 1 minute video of the sunrise for the dark, dreary days of winter.