Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

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The Day in Miles

Ran 5 easy miles before work.  Walked a mile to work.  Walked from work, just over  a mile to Village by the Grange to meet a friend for dinner.  My husband met me at Village by the Grange and we walked just over a mile to the Air Canada Centre to see the Raptors play the Milwaukee Bucks.

Benefits of walking, priceless.  For any other method of  transport there are tokens or a $19 taxi ride home.

I resisted the Japanese version of Twinkies but ate nearly a whole box of Crunch & Munch at the game.

This Japanese restaurant gets the thumbs up!

Raptor head steals the show (Raptors lost 104-98)

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Chariots of Fire

I am feeling inspired today, my heart warmed by the generosity of those who have been able to support our efforts to raise funds for a sponsorship program for AIDS orphans in Ethiopia, knowing that there are so many good causes out there calling on us all.  I was reminded today that the phrase Chariots of Fire is from William Blake, a favourite poet of mine and many.

Primary Series Blue, 2008 (oil on paper mounted on wood with resin 12" x 12" x 2") Value $400

One special contribution comes from artist Frank Caracciolo who lives in Montreal but hails from New York.  He is donating a resin-coated oil drawing to our Silent Auction.  In my blog on The Urban Landscape I had posted a photograph of a work I had seen at Propeller Gallery on Queen Street.  I decided to contact Frank and he replied immediately to say he he was willing to donate the piece shown here.  I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this but the photo doesn’t quite do justice to the beautiful patina and tactile surface of his drawing technique.  CLICK HERE to link to his website.

I leave you with the words of William Blake as well as a link to the hymn Jerusalem that was composed to this poem.


William Blake

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

JERUSALEM sung at the end of the film, CHARIOTS OF FIRE

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A Word from the Weary

I’m running a bath having just returned from an evening track workout at U of  T.  I thought about missing a post today but then decided that I’ll do a short post until the bathtub is full.  The workout went well, 4 times 1000 meters at a fairly hard pace, with 3 x 60 meters before the longer sections and 6 x 60 meters afterward.  The circuit training was not nearly as grueling as the other week.  No hopping upstairs on one leg.   This coach was subbing for the more demanding task master.

And in gala news, we are down to the last 20 tickets.  I mentioned the event to one of my teammates and she was interested.  She does a lot of work in Africa as a feminist lawyer, specializing in girls and women’s rights.  She is also a Canadian age-group record holder at various track distances and can do 2 sets of 25 push-ups, no problemo.  What a woman!  Now if she decides to buy a gala ticket, she will be perfect in my eyes 🙂

Good night all.




Around the Bay 30K

Kudos and congratulations to all those who took part in this historic road race today.  It is the Ontario road runner’s equivalent of a season-opener.

While out on Friday we ran into an acquaintance who asked if I was running on Sunday.  I drew a blank.  It was only on Saturday morning that it struck me that this was the weekend of one of Canada’s foremost long-distance races, the Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton.  How could I forget?! Many of those who have been training diligently through the winter have been driven by the goal of racing this 30K.

Last year a record I had established in 2006 was broken.  A new course (and Canadian) record for 30K of 2:07 was set by Jennifer Ditchfield.  My goal when I set the record was to run under 2 hours and 10 minutes.  I was disappointed to run 2:12 and that did not feel easy.

Around the Bay on a warmer day.

My friend Michal Kapral, a.k.a. the joggler jumped in around 25K and ran with me for awhile.  I told him that I was fading and wondered out loud whether any masters women were closing in on me.  He immediately started running backwards and let me know that I was in danger of being picked off.  That is when I learned that sometimes it is better not to know.  Ignorance is more blissful than having a set of eyes in the back of one’s head.  The rival masters runner did pass me and it felt worse knowing that this was a possibility so far in advance.

Michal at one time was considering trying to set a Guiness record for the backwards marathon.  He holds or held, the record for a marathon pushing a baby jogger and for running an entire marathon while juggling three balls.  He has also won the Toronto marathon in a time of 2:31.

With my plan to run Boston next year, it is doubtful that I can do the 30K as it is my view that many a runner has left their Boston best, down by the bay. It is a challenging 30K route that when raced to the full, is not far off the effort of running a marathon. With 3-4 weeks separating it from Boston, there is not much time to recover to put your best foot forward at Boston. This has been the subject of ongoing debate among long distance racers and their coaches over the past century.

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Ethiopia on My Mind

Runner’s World has an article on 20 Races To Do Before You Die

Included on this list is the Great Ethiopian Run, Africa’s biggest road race.  Here is what they say.

For atmosphere, energy and even anarchy, the Great Ethiopian Run simply can’t be surpassed. In a country where running is the national craze, this mass-participation 10K is a colourful, lively and sometimes chaotic race but also a tough challenge thanks to a handful of climbs and the altitude in the capital Addis Ababa. More than 30,000 runners line up at the start each year and if you join them you’ll be one of the few foreigners enjoying this amazing cultural experience.

Great Ethiopian Run

Earlier this week I mentioned that Chung-Yee and are thinking about doing this race in 2012.  The elevation is not the 2500 feet I mentioned but 2500 metres!

Last night my husband and I went to a performance of the Ethio Fidel Jazz Band who will be playing at the People4kids gala. They had a guest vocalist, Fantahun Mekonnen who along with the renowned Girma Woldemichael on saxophone just blew everyone away.  Mekonnen also played the krar a traditional instrument.

Krar, Traditional Ethiopian Lyre

I’ve been a bit lax lately about tracking my training miles but I’ve been fastidious in updating my ticket tracking spreadsheet. As Gala chair I challenged the committee to try and sell out by Sunday, April 3rd. We have 28 tickets left, if you would like to buy a ticket, donate a silent auction item contact me at people4kids@bell.net  —  This is going to be a very special evening in support of an excellent cost-effective sponsorship program that enables *some* of the over 1 million AIDS orphans in Ethiopia to go to school.

I took today off from running, my second day off this year, as I had done back to back hard days, Thursday and Friday.

Have a wonderful evening all!

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Is my running mojo back?

The prolonged wintry weather has made getting out for my daily run a day-to-day struggle.  Once I decided to defer my marathon plans to the fall, I’ve found myself delaying my run and procrastinating daily.   As I’ve mentioned earlier,  part of this is the focus on the gala.  The other factor is that I love my new job, which means I’ve got two intensely great things happening and running, well it is in third place for the moment.

Plans for the usual Saturday run got thrown off-kilter as I have to work tomorrow morning.  This threw me into a bit of panic, relying as I do on meeting the guys most Saturdays for the longer run.  BUT a plan emerged, a second-wind of motivation jettisoned me to work earlier than ever, with the intention of leaving early (love those flexible hours) to do an afternoon long run.  This full scope of this plan was dependent on whether my legs were fresh enough from yesterdays workout to run at least 10 miles.

Running from work involves taking as few things as possible to work  and having outerwear that you won’t need the next day or two.  As my shoes are at work, I wear my runners to get there and today wore my running jacket under a down vest.  I take only the essentials, bank card, credit card, money, keys, camera & BlackBerry.

The only drawback to this plan was that I would miss lunch. Everyday a volunteer or staff person cooks lunch for everyone and today’s lunch, homemade pizza, looked very appetizing. But, leave I did, and I ran down to the lake and then ran east along the Harbourfront promenade where a helpful dog walker offered to take this photo of me by the Empire Sandy.

Empire Sandy has weathered the winter.

Uplifted by the brilliantly blue sky and the wind on my left shoulder, I ran on.  My legs felt okay and I found myself seizing on the idea of taking a photo of Cherry beach as if I did that, I’d be getting in 12 miles.  This photo assignment took me through the really gritty parts of the Martin Goodman Trail with scenes befitting the Rust Belt or the HBO series, The Wire.  I got my photo and thankfully the wind was not too bad going west.

Down by the Docks

I ended my run at Starbuck’s and a little chit chat with the two baristas, both of whom run.  Ah, triple-venti-whole milk-vanilla-latte and a cinnamon bun . . . satisfaction plus.

Cherry Beach has got me on the run.

CLICK HERE to see what the Urban Dictionary has to say about the meaning of mojo.



I was off work today and from waking spent most of the morning and early-afternoon working on the gala and found it hard to tear myself away.  I had gala related meetings at 11 a.m. and then 6 p.m. and ended up leaving my run to the mid-afternoon.  Due to the 6 p.m. meeting I was unable to attend the U of T track workout.  So I did short, very fast sections on the treadmill at up to the 10.1 setting.  After that I did some of the circuit training including the hopping upstairs from same leg to same leg.  That got my heart beating faster than the short sprints.

The committee member I met with in the evening works 7 evenings a week, 5 days a week, has been taking courses and had started a business as an event planner.   She has offered to help with the decor for our event.  Wow!

A busy woman

We met at C-5 to discuss the floor plan and add a bit of colour to the black and ivory colour scheme.  I enjoyed finding out more about my friend and her ambitions and amazing work ethic.  She came to Canada via France and has only been here a couple of years.  We enjoyed exotic non-alcoholic beverages, fries with blueberry ketchup and mango and coconut ice cream, coffee and tea.  It was a quiet night, ideal for getting to know someone better.

Fries with Blueberry Ketchup

At my earlier meeting I also found out more about another committee member who has just finished writing a first draft of a novel which chronicles the political upheaval and turmoil that began in Ethiopia in the late 70’s.   This woman, I discovered spent over eight years in an Ethiopian prison.

The more I find out about the orphan sponsorship program the gala is supporting and the country itself, the more I’m beginning to feel that a trip to Africa may occur in the next couple of year.  I have already mentioned the Great Ethiopian Run which is a 10K, I did however forget to mention that it is at an altitude of 2500 feet.  That could be really challenging.  I think Chung-Yee and I are serious about this.

One of the things I love about being a volunteer is that you meet great people who like to get involved.  Hat’s off to the committee!  This fundraising adventure is raising friends too.

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Warm Winter Surprise

I skipped my run this morning and went to work early instead, in spite of my husband’s disapproval for allowing the bleak morning to deter me.  The run-plan, an early departure from work and an indoor run to follow.  A very good plan indeed with today’s escalating snow storm.

Once again, I sing the praises of working a mile from home.  How pleasant it is not to rely on public transit or a car.  One of many walking route options takes me past a supermarket, where I stopped to buy spinach and carrots and then a Tim Horton’s where I picked up an orange-carrot whole wheat muffin.  This muffin $1.10 tax included, is delicious and great value.  Then on to the YMCA, just ahead of the post-work rush to easily find a free treadmill for an easy three miles.   I’m enjoying taking a mileage break.  It is very unusual for me to do three milers, let alone three of them in one week.

It has been over a year since I’ve used the full locker room facilities at the Y.  I usually run to the Y from home, store my outerwear in a locker and after working out, head home to shower.  What better day to luxuriate in the whirlpool and then dry off in a sauna.  Nicely warmed up I even found myself looking forward to shoveling our sidewalk.  As our walk came in view, I saw that our roommate Alain had already shoveled and salted.  I shoveled the 1/2 inch or so that had accumulated just because I felt warm, happy and fortunate.  I hope the day was not too trying for others.

Happy Day Muffin

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50 Hard, 50 Easy x 20-25

Like last week, my Tuesday running plan was to take the long way home from work, i.e. the 7 mile route, rather than the 1 mile route.  Just before noon I found out that I had to go to Avenue Road and Lawrence to do a presentation so I left earlier than planned and enjoyed the 7 miles with 5 X 5 minutes at marathon and tempo pace.

I had a couple of hours to regroup at home and then off to work, again.  The trip there was super-speedy and I arrived 35 minutes early.  I’m a person who likes to be on time.  The meeting and presentation went well and then I had an extremely slow trip south.  To compound the situation after getting off the Avenue Road bus I got on the northbound subway and went back to Lawrence station.  Aargh!  It was a good thing that I had the leftovers from my Japanese meal last night for breakfast.  I was stuffed when I got to work but it staved off hunger until after my run.  I had a very early dinner but on my long slow trip home resorted to eating chocolate eggs purchased for the annual Easter egg hunt for my 23 year old son.  Will he be angry that I’ve gone public with this?  He subscribes to my blog but claims to rarely read it.

I think I’m starting to feel a bit of perkiness from the two speed sessions over the past two weeks.  I’m planning to hit the track on Thursday when we will be racing round the 200 meter oval in this way.  Sprint the straights and walk the curve, this is called 50 hard,  50 easy.  I thought this meant 50 seconds so I’m glad I asked for clarification from coach Paul and found out that the straights are roughly 50 meters.  We are supposed to aim for 20-25 times around the track.  I’ll likely aim for 15-20.

I may even wear my racing flats for this.  Now where are they??!  I’m getting excited about this.

My New Balance Racing Flats are very similar to these!

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The Great Ethiopian Gala Adventure

Gladstone Avenue Extension

With six weeks to go until the gala, life is speeding up and I will have to discipline myself not to try to get too much done in a day.  That is my excuse for not posting yesterday, though do I need an excuse?   I ran three miles on Sunday along West Queen West, that strip of Queen West from Trinity Bellwoods over to Dufferin.  the highlight of the run was to run for the very first time through the newly built underpass connecting one part of Dufferin Street to another.  Dufferin street just north of Queen, used to do a U-jog east, then south then west but now it goes straight through Queen street down to King and southward.  Exciting times for Parkdale.  In addition, Gladstone avenue is being extended and I think there was talk of building a foot bridge over the GO Train tracks to connect Queen and King street.

Connecting Dufferin to Dufferin

In the spirit of cutting back mileage to rest up for speedwork, I ran three miles again, this morning and it most certainly did feel like the first day of spring.  Yippee!   On the way to work I spotted these beautiful snowdrops which made me wonder whether my single snowdrop from last year survived the winter.  This bunch was quite developed, so maybe my less mature snowdrop is just taking its time.


I took a coffee break at the Tampered Press, yet another espresso bar in the downtown coffee zone.  This place has a view of Trinity Bellwoods park which makes you feel like you are in smalltown Ontario.

Gala Committee on a Roll

After work, our People4Kids gala committee met at a Kokyo Japanese Restaurant at Alexander and Yonge.  It was our first restaurant meeting and the mood was frisky as all are pleased about ticket sales and the response to our event.  We are feeling confident that we will sell out.   A couple of committee members from Ethiopia recall attending parties at our place and feeling somewhat embarrassed to be part of the very small minority of party attendees who did not run.  They were however encouraging Chung-Yee and me to visit Ethiopia and take part in the Great Ethiopian Run in November, the largest 10K in Africa. We both decided that it is something we will consider, probably not this year but maybe in a year or two.  But, even more compelling, we would be able to visit the little girl whose education we help sponsor. Considering all the dire news these days, most recently from the Ivory Coast, it feels good to be closely connected to this program.