Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

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Geese, Galas & More

I found my 9.5 mile run with speedwork, done yesterday, tough. My legs have been feeling quite heavy lately, which may well be the effects of the Maximum Strength (MS) phase of weightlifting that I am going through. I’ve done squats with 110 pounds on the Smith machine and 210 pounds on the leg press machine. My goal is to squat about 1.2 times my weight and leg press, 2.3 times my weight of 110 pounds.

Walking on Water

I stopped during the run to watch geese on Lake Ontario walk gingerly over the ice, which due to the very temperature was covered with a thin layer of water. There was quite a bit of slipping on the part of the geese, which led my husband to remark that Toronto geese are urban critters, who have lost some of their natural coordination.

The day was full and with evening plans, a post about what is keeping both my husband and I very busy seemed appropriate.  This being,  People4Kids, a Gala to Benefit AIDS Orphans in Ethiopia. The idea to create this event came out of my experience with gala events, including the Grocery Foundation SuperGala at one time the biggest gala in Canada with over 4000 guests and over $3 million in funds raised.  The Beach Boys (or what is left of the Beach Boys, post-law suits) and Nelly Furtado were the headliners during my years of involvement.

Our gala is a baby Gala and a labour of love. We were motivated to get involved with People to People AID Organization Canada as one of my husband’s workmates, who came to Canada as a refugee from Ethiopia many years ago, works tirelessly as a Board member towards the sponsorship of greater numbers of orphans.

Subaru Concept Car

In the evening we were off to attend a preview of the Auto Show as special guests, along with the 8,000 or more other special guests. This is an educated estimate as the SuperGala took place on one floor of the same venue and this crowd seemed at minimum, twice the size, using three times the area.

What a spectacle! The show is not about the legions of women wearing the most sparkling of dresses and the highest of heels, it’s about the cars, cars and more cars. The evening involves a lot of walking so by the end of it, many women were seen in stockinged feet, carrying their shoes.  One woman remarked to me, “You are doing well, you’ve still got your shoes on.”  I consider wearing heels over two inches to be something of an athletic accomplishment.  One of which I am not capable.  If those men who admire the high-heeled “look” knew what it feels like to wear high heels, I think their appreciation would be greatly diminished.

Car Painter

The event is sponsored by the Toronto Star. Throughout the Metro Toronto Convention Centre are drink and food stations. A few years ago some of the Japanese auto makers were serving sushi. The fare this year was fairly standard with one exception. Tucked away in a quieter corner, Rodney’s Oyster House was serving four different types of oysters. My dad has always loved oysters and as kids we used to have them with shoyu (Japanese soy sauce).

Thank you Rodney's Oyster House

Signs are that automakers are feeling optimistic about business and have done a big paradigm shift,  post-meltdown, adapting to the need and demand for high efficiency vehicles.  There was an area highlighting cars earning national kudos for efficiency.

Here is a photo of us in front of a sign at the Mini-Cooper display. The screen behind us was flashing various words and I was hoping for the word SPORTY.  However my eyes were closed for that one.  But at the moment the word INSPIRING makes me think of my husband, who has pushed himself very far outside his comfort zone to ask a lot of people to support the Gala with tremendous results. Well done my love!

Going the distance for the Gala!

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People4Kids, a Gala to benefit AIDS Orphans in Ethiopia

a Gala to Benefit AIDS-HIV Orphans in Ethiopia

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
C5 Restaurant at the Royal Ontario Museum
6:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Tickets $150
Sponsorship details available on request

Imagine spring. The cherry trees in bloom, and an evening party in the elegant and sophisticated lounge setting of C5 at the ROM. You will enjoy artisanal cuisine, a silent auction, stunning views of the city and an internationally flavoured musical backdrop of melodious, soulful jazz-funk performed by the Ethio Fidel Jazz Band.  As the evening evolves, the sun sets over the Toronto skyline and a very special guest vocalist provides a musical flourish with an inspired rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Over the Rainbow is our vision of how this friendly gathering of concerned individuals will contribute to improving the lives of “some” of the over one million AIDS orphans in Ethiopia.  It doesn’t take much to make a dream come true for one of these children.  We are inspired by their resilience in spite of the unthinkable circumstances of their life journey.  The simple dreams of these orphaned children are firmly rooted in very basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and education.

Imagine free-flowing goodwill, camaraderie and friendship as you meet, mingle and establish a sense of community with others who wish to enlarge the hopes and dreams of these young, resilient souls. Imagine, the hopefulness you will feel knowing that the orphan sponsorship program you are supporting makes a difference – that you are directly connected to leadership within Toronto’s Ethiopian community who have created cost-effective links between orphans and North American sponsors.

Please mark Tuesday, May 3rd in your calendar, for this first-time gala event and commit now to purchasing tickets.  The volunteer committee is hard at work and every ticket sold brings us closer to our goal of 500 orphans sponsored.  You are invited; in friendship, in hope — join us please. You are needed!

* The Ethiopian community in Toronto is the 2nd largest in North America. All funds raised go to the orphan sponsorship program of People to People AID Organization Canada, Inc.

For information, to buy tickets or to volunteer email Lynn at people4kids@bell.net


Seen On & After the Run

I was eager to run to the lake to see the effect of warm temperatures on the ice.  The ice formations yesterday had an eerily, compelling, euw quality, similar to photos of blood platelets.

Blood doping platelets

I imagined that the ice would have an even more pronounced, rounded circular appearance. However today’s ice was not as dramatically shaped as I expected.

In the final mile of my 7 mile run, I stopped in at LIT Espresso Bar to pick up some Bolivian Buenavista coffee. I told the baristas that I have mentioned Stumptown coffee and LIT on my blog and gave them my blog address.  One of the baristas is a musician who runs.  We chatted briefly about running in snow with Yak Trax and what type of coffee my cafe owner-architect brother uses at the Baked Cafe in Whitehorse.

Stumptown Coffee from LIT Espresso Bar

It was a busy day as I had to prepare and print two photos for my photography class and demonstrate the use of various  Adobe Photoshop techniques.  Before my class I stopped at a long-time favourite concession stand, Sakura in Village By the Grange which serves homestyle Japanese cooking.  I had a large bowl of Japanese chicken noodle soup for $4.00, tax included.

Heart with a bell

Afterward, I dropped into the gift shop at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and picked up a belated Valentine’s gift for my husband and little something for my father-in-law who will turn 95 on February 24th.  A very long line-up was forming outside the gallery as the doors were about to open for the AGO’s free night.

I was a bit early for my class so I had a quick look at the student exhibit of human figure art. All this activity left me feeling somewhat young at heart, like the art student I was, several decades past, rather than the middle-aged mom, marathon runner of the present.

Check out the sampling of some of the Ontario College of Art (OCAD) student work below. I’ve tried to keep loosely to the running theme, which was not that difficult given the subject is the human body.


Seen While Running

Ice or Art?

Temperature drops nearly 20C from one day to the other. Welcome to mid-February and the mid-point of winter! It seems to me that the contrasting temperature must explain the striking ice formations, lily-pad like, I saw while running along Lake Ontario this morning.

The colour of cold!

Another unusual sight greeted me when I approached Trinity Bellwoods Park — trees laden with hand-printed hearts. Ah, Valentine’s Day! As we age, the gift of running seems ever more precious as does a special day to celebrate love in our (hopefully) deepening wisdom.

Someone's heart's afire!

In spite of a recent diagnosis of a torn meniscus, I had never seen my husband in finer form on the dance floor this Saturday past. The highlight of the evening was Van Morrison’s, Have I Told You Lately to which I shed a tear or two.

Tell your loved ones that you love them, again and again and again, every day of the year!  Belated Valentine’s Day wishes.

With love,

Love Poems of Rumi

A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden’s beauty
and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it is to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together,
indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.
The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.


Winter Running on the Martin Goodman Trail

This morning I was feeling a little out-of-the-loop, due to learning  today, that since the winter of 2009, the city has been clearing the Toronto’s Martin Goodman Trail. I have been running through the Canadian National Exhibition grounds, over the bridge to Ontario Place and then east along the old path by the lake which is partially a parking lot ending with an uncleared section of ice and snow.  Noticing that there seemed to be runners emerging near Strachan with regularity, I googled the question, “Is the Martin Goodman Trail being cleared in the winter?” and found an article in the Globe and Mail called, How clear was my running trail by Christopher Shulgan to finally be in the know, that indeed snow clearing is being done on a priority basis.

Here is an excerpt from the article . . .

Winter running tends to be full of such (bad) moments. It’s bad enough that the activity forces men to wear tights. When these are paired with the bright hues that grace the jackets manufactured by Nike and New Balance, even the most masculine runner resembles a medieval harlequin – whose feet slide out from under him at icy corners, whose shoes get soaked in frozen puddles . . . READ MORE

For someone who has spent decades running east from Strachan through condo city, in the winter months, the option to run along the lake west of Strachan is big news.  So I enjoyed a groundbreaking run, out to High Park and then down Colborne Lodge drive to the lake.  I saw a number of other runners, walkers and cyclists enjoying the trail.

View of Sunnyside Beach from Martin Goodman Trail

My workout was an invigorating 9.5 miles with 40 minutes of tempo running.  Aware of the strong west wind, I ran west through the city and High Park, relying on buildings and trees to take the bite out of the wind, hitting the wide open of the lakefront to head east, with a strong tailwind.  Nothing beats tempo running with a tailwind.  The sun peeped out while I ran along the most scenic lake view sections so I stopped to take a few photos.

Sky meets ice in Marilyn Bell Park

Thank you City of Toronto for a wonderful winter running experience.  I hope (gulp) that MGT snow-clearing is here to stay.  Better write a thank you letter to City Hall!

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Highlights of an Easy Week of Running

Sunday is when I tally up my total miles run for the week. When building towards a marathon, I take easy weeks on average, every three weeks. My total for this week is 40 miles. Prior to this I had run 52, 60 and 60 mile weeks. After taking an easy week, in addition to the physical break to rebuild, I find I am mentally recharged as while I look forward to the break, it doesn’t take much easing off before I begin to feel like a slacker.

Here are some of the things I did or did not do that lead to feeling this way.

  • Missed a weight work session
  • Missed a tempo run session
  • Ran 2 miles on a day I had planned to run 5 miles
  • Ran 10 miles instead of 12 miles on Saturday
  • Doubled my typical caloric intake for one day with three large meals while visiting Ottawa

SO that is the point of the easy week, paradoxical though it may be, easing off  and experiencing a bit of remorse for not having made more spartan choices, makes me look forward to the next round of training .  Ultimately, I love the results of being a super-fit, 55 year old and after one week of relative ease I am chomping at the bit to “get with the program”.

Skipping the tempo run and weight workout had a lot to do with being in a rush to visit the National Art Gallery which was a 10 minute walk from the hotel.  I had a thoroughly relaxing time there and visited a number of shows, including It Is What It Is:  Recent Acquisitions of New Canadian Art

Exotic Woman by Shuvinai Ashoona

CLICK HERE FOR MORE work by Shuvinai Ashoona.

One of the most memorable pieces was a very large pencil crayon drawing by Cape Dorset artist Shuvinai Ashoona. I’m happy to know that the National Art Gallery (NAG) has purchased that drawing for their permanent collection. I was unable to find a photo of the drawing in question but did find this example of Ashoona’s work.

The gallery has recently bought and installed a stunning sculpture, One Hundred Foot Line by Roxy Paine. I stepped out onto a terrace with a “Beware of Falling Ice” warning to take the photo below. And did I mention that I set off an alarm when I tried to step out to take another photo.

New Installation-Sculpture

In case you wonder what I consider overeating, my big day started with a large portion of eggs benedict with home fries and croissant at 7 a.m. followed by a lunch at the National Art Gallery of soup and a sandwich, then a three-course dinner with two glasses of Proseco ending with a fancy apple cake dessert.

National Art Gallery Cafeteria Lunch

Some may laugh at what I consider excess however the work of the easy week is done. I’m eager to run 60-65 miles this week, skip desserts and opt for less rich food, that is, until the next easy week.

Spring marathon . . . here I come!

Apple Cake, All Dressed Up

This Dinner View Demands a Toast

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Ottawa Marathon, Some Memories

I had planned to tie in my afternoon as a tourist in Ottawa with the Ottawa marathon race route. However we are making a mad dash out to Scarborough this afternoon to check into a hotel, using Aeroplan points, close to the location of a Valentine’s dinner we are attending. The dinner is hosted by the marriage enrichment group that we are a part of. Last year we attended with my parents, as they attended a retreat organized by this same group, a few decades ago.  Perhaps “the boys” will have a party in our absence. The boys being our son who is home most weekends, and his friend, Alain who lives with us 24/7.

I have run the Ottawa marathon four times. It is tied with the Boston marathon for repeat outings.My first running of this marathon was in 1982 and I was wearing a t-shirt that read, No Nukes are Good Nukes. Those were the days. Here are my Ottawa marathon times.

# Ottawa Marathon, May 1982 — 3:37
# Ottawa Marathon, May 2002 — 3:07:02 (personal best, age 46)
# Ottawa Marathon, May 2003 — 3:11
# Ottawa Marathon, May 2004 –3:10

Speaking at Ottawa Marathon Race Expo

In 2005 I was a co-presenter at the Ottawa marathon race expo with Steve Boyd. Steve holds umpteen Canadian masters records and also has a doctorate, I think it is in the history of political thought from Queen’s University. Shortly after, I wrote an article on Steve Boyd which is somewhere on the hard drive of an old computer. I hope to retrieve this one day (so many things to do, so little time) and post it on my blog. I’ve added some award-ceremony photos and a bit about Steve Boyd to my post on Dylan Wykes the winner of the California International Marathon, as Steve is Dylan Wyke’s mentor-coach.

Have a wonderful evening all!

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Winter Runs in Ottawa, The Real Thing

Canal, river & parliament buildings converge for this fabulous view from my hotel room.

I’ve returned from my slightly-less-than-two-day-getaway in Ottawa, having missed a second day of posting for 2011. My from-the-airport post was pretty meagre, so I decided against a second thin offering yesterday.

Breakfast With a View

I started my mini-holiday with a 7 a.m. breakfast with a friend, in the hotel cafe. This friend has recently moved here from Toronto and it turns out that he is living in the Lebreton Flats neighbourhood, about one block from where we lived for some of of the five years we called Ottawa home.  We became friends while part of a running club at the University of Toronto, a group that was spearheaded by incomparable coach,  Zeba Crook, then grad-student, now professor in the Religion and Philosophy department at Ottawa’s Carelton University. Unfortunately, a get together with Zeb was not to be, as he is in that very busy phase, family life with two working parents and two young kids.

Our First Ottawa Home, a Heritage House on James Street in Centretown

After having a look at the basement fitness facility in the hotel, I resolved to run outdoors as the day was especially bright and I planned a route which encompassed our two Ottawa homes, two favourite parks and the YMCA-YWCA where I used to leave my son with the babysitting service while working out, until he graduated to the nursery school.

Our second home on Elm Street was our first home purchase.

I’ve written about my winter runs in Toronto but I had forgotten how much a slog winter running in Ottawa is because of the rarely-bare sidewalks. I’ve heard a lot about Yak Trax a unique coil system that clips onto shoes and gives you traction on ice and packed now and I’ll be buying a pair of these, the next time I visit Ottawa in the winter. I was slipping and sliding all over the place. Over my abbreviated run of 5 miles, there was one measly block of clear sidewalk. I had planned to do some speedwork but had no choice but to abandon this plan.

Ran into my old friend Oscar Peterson.

During my Ottawa days there was no such thing as a treadmill at the YMCA and there was no indoor track so it was very tough to run through the winter. I remember running along the canal in -40C weather, when I was stopped by a television camera crew, waiting to interview runners brave enough (or foolish enough) to run in the cold. So there you have it, my 15 seconds of Ottawa television fame.

Dundonald Park in Centretown. Many happy times spent playing here.

As I returned to the center of town I checked out some of the Winterlude displays awaiting the weekend action. I think Winterlude now takes place over three weekends, rather than the former ten day stretch. I once took part in a Winterlude tradition, a Skate, Ski and Run Triathlon. In spite of the bad footing I enjoyed my little trip down memory lane and returned refreshed and eager to play tourist in the afternoon.

Winterlude Weekend around the corner.

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2011 Tally – Blogging versus Running

Island Airport, Home to Porter Airlines

Ran 5 miles down to the lake and took this photo of the ice by the Island airport early in the day. And now, I’m frantically trying to keep up with my PostADay2011 program here in the terminal of that same airport, waiting for a flight to Ottawa. I’m here on my own, so the blurry photo was taken by setting the camera on auto and balancing it on top of a small bottle of apple juice. I dashed to airport from my photography class and feeling quite weary, took good advantage of the Porter amenities, downing three coffees and four shortbread cookies.

Tripod of the Day, Bottle of Apple Juice

Running versus Blogging Tally

40 days running

39 days blogging


Power Packed Protein for Parents, Kids & Athletes

In the past couple of months I scoured the internet for the recipe for a high-protein drink that was a daily fixture of my pregnancy diet.  My weight just before pregnancy was 102 pounds.  I was vegetarian at the time, and I had a very difficult time gaining weight on my diet of tempeh, tofu and bean diet verging at times on veganism.  At my early check-ups my doctor, worried about my vegetarianism, once said that I was taking a risk that my baby would be in the lowest weight percentile.

Häagen-Dazs ice cream was part of my prescription for weight gain and I ate it often.  So much so that I remember telling people that I never thought that I would consider eating ice cream (one of my favourite foods) a chore.  Just goes to show you what a MUST will do to make something normally pleasurable, seem less so.  Funnily enough, my son just loves Häagen-Dazs ice cream and stocks up on it when it goes on sale at Sobey’s, which seems to happen fairly regularly.

Last Saturday at a 50th birthday party for a friend, I noticed a copy of Laurel’s Kitchen, the very book from whence the recipe for the high-protein drink came. My copy had disappeared in my years of living in co-op houses.  The birthday girl agreed to lend me the book.  I don’t think the newer version has this recipe. So,  ta-da . . . straight from a very yellowed copy of Laurel’s Kitchen, A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition is my memory lane recipe.

High-Protein Blender Drink

  • 3 tbsp. whole soy powder
  • 3 tbsp. non-instant skim milk powder
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 cup fresh skim milk
  • 1 tbsp. toasted wheat germ
  • 1/2 teaspoon torula (I use brewer’s yeast)
  • 1/2 teaspoon carob powder

Authors, Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders and Bronwen Godfrey

Before I knew I was pregnant, I developed an aversion to coffee.  I view this as an example of the laws of the body taking hold.  Near the end of the second trimester I began craving meat.  It was quite a shock to my meat-eating husband when I nibbled on some Italian sausage he was frying.  From there, I never looked back and to be honest, I get sick far less than when I was a vegetarian.  To each his own, I’m convinced, is the way with diet.  For me, blood sugar stability seems to work better on a high protein meat diet.

I gained about 23 pounds, my son was 7 pounds 10 ounces and it took three months to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.  Due to the heavy demands of breastfeeding, I went under my pre-pregnancy weight by 4 pounds to a very skinny 98 pounds in year one of motherhood.

My son was never keen on bananas except when served in a quickie-kid version of the high-protein drink.  I used to make this for him when he insisted that he did not want breakfast.

Power Drink

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate milk powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter

When he was a teen he wanted to weigh more than could reasonably be expected of the son of two very lean parents.  I used to supplement his drink with skim milk powder.  I can’t remember why, but I did not tell him this, and he never noticed.

Proving my doctor’s fears were unfounded, my one-and-only has grown to be over 6 feet tall, nearly a foot taller than his mom and a couple of inches taller than his dad.

Voila! I give you the mostly-vegetarian baby at 23 years.

Product of High-Protein Power Drink