Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

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Running & Cycling Around Town

I had my bike tuned up last week and rode my bike to work for the very first time on Monday.  How marvelous to get to work in 6 minutes, rather than 15.  A great development given my current time crunch.  My life now is all about lists, lists and more lists.

This morning I realized that I had forgotten to get a document signed, that had to be sent to the ROM for noon today.  So I ran to the signatory’s home and back for about 4 miles with a stopover at Walmart to pick up a number of much needed stationary supplies.  Very convenient that they open at 9 a.m. for a busy person who often starts work at 10 a.m.  I was able to scratch a slough of things off one list.

I took a bean salad to work for a farewell lunch that coincided with the nicest weather of the day, allowing us to eat cake and drink coffee in our backyard patio.  Lovely people, lovely weather.  Most of the meal was prepared by a Columbian couple and it was very tasty.  I left work a bit early to dash to the UPS store at King and Bathurst which is printing the Gala program booklet.  Getting there 30 minutes early means that they will be able to have it ready for late-afternoon tomorrow.  They did an amazing job, the prices are very competitive  and the staff and owner are  friendly.

From there I stopped at Sanko Japanese Foods where I picked up some obscure items for a complicated Japanese rice dish that I usually only make for very special occasions.  I confess, that there is a bit of vanity involved in this time consuming choice as we are going to a pot luck party at the home of the first Asian Canadian woman to be a judge.  Sanko is opposite Starbuck’s so I stopped for a coffee break and made lists and more lists, sent emails on my Blackberry and was able to cross off more “to do’s”.

I stopped by the Paper Place but they were closed and I headed west on Queen street to Woolfit’s Art Supply store.  I picked up a number of items including a 32″ by 40″ piece of black foamcore on which to display the Silent Auction results.  The clerk wrapped this item in plastic and I asked her to make a handle out of tape.  Thankfully there is little wind today and I was able cycle home with one hand on the handlebars and the other holding this potential sail.

And now, I’m home eating leftover pizza and ready to work.  Tomorrow afternoon I will part of an interview conducted by John Chipman of CBC radio.  The young man I ran with on the weekend, John Chipman and I will go for a 5 mile run and some of the chit chat will form part of a 2-3 minute radio segment.  He is not able to tell me when it will be aired but I’ll post the date when I find out.

In a week I’ll be able to tackle my growing list of Post-gala, things to do.


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How did I get so busy?

My husband is threatening to unsubscribe from my blog.  He tells me it has been a week since my last post and he teasingly says that he no longer knows what I am  up to.   One week to gala day.  We had our last pre-gala committee meeting at our house and had a nice time of it.  I estimate that I spent about 60 hours over the past two weeks on the eight page program booklet with Silent Auction catalogue.  Finally, this morning I sent it to print.

Is a picture worth a week of bloglessness?

Does this photo explain a week of blog-less-ness?

I took a day off from running yesterday. It is just not the time to push too hard but I did do 4 x 7 minutes hard today and had a good weekend of running with 13 miles on Saturday and 7 miles on Sunday. On Sunday I ran with a 19 year old from Namibia who told me that he doesn’t really run long distances. We ran through High Park up and down some of the steepest hills and his breathing never changed from that of someone walking. Well, he is after all 36 years younger than me but still. I expect more of myself and he certainly led me to expect less.

I look forward to having the time to blog and take photos.

Sweet dreams.

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Bad Weather, Running Boycott

Today, I did not run because I am super-busy and fed up with this prolonged wintery spring weather.  I don’t remember ever having come to this!  But, heck . . . where is spring?

People4Kids gala, a “labour of love” for my husband and I has already been proclaimed a success.  Joy Kogawa, renowned Canadian writer and friend, David Walsh , recipient of the Jane Jacobs award are two of our special guests.  Joy will read a poem, chosen by me, about children.  The gala will benefit an orphan sponsorship program in Ethiopia for children who lost their parents to AIDS.

Highlights of the past few days:

  • I sat beside our City Counsellor at lunch on Monday.  He seemed like a very genuine person.
  • I went on a day trip to Buffalo with my sister and bought a dress on sale for $8.98.
  • We have received donations from many of my favourite businesses, like Dufflets, Whole Foods, The Queen Mother Cafe, LUSH, Starbuck’s, Auberge du Pommier.
  • And of course . . . NEW BALANCE TORONTO!

Tomorrow is another busy day.  After work, I will go with a young man to outfit him with a pair of running shoes, courtesy of Mountain Equipment Coop.  Then to meet my mom for dinner and to the Toronto to Japan fundraiser for the Japan Red Cross.

I’ve been sitting in front of a computer for far too long today.  Life is very full and interesting and there is much to write about but no time.  Bon soir!

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Boston Marathon

Lucky Boston marathoners.  Conditions were fine with a tailwind and without the heat that often accompanies a Boston tailwind.  What a fine, fine feeling that must have been.  Congrats to all finishers.  Unbelievable times from the elite runners.

My day was busy with a lunch meeting and no time to have a peek at the action via the web.  I can’t believe that I missed five days of blogging!  But with 14 days to go for the gala I am working at light-speed.  I have been running.  I haven’t missed any running days although the Saturday longer run was shorter than usual due to the dismal conditions of very cold rain.  I ran about 9.5 miles on Saturday, then 5 miles on Sunday during which time the cake I had in the oven got a bit overdone.  Today, I had a very satisfying workout at U of T.  I had suggested that I should run 6 x 500 meters but my coach said I should do at least 8.  So I did eight and kept a consistent pace with the last two run run hard and faster than the previous ones.

I looked at the results from Boston for my category and boy are the women in my age category getting fast.  It will take a lot of hard work to place in the top five next year.  I’ve run Boston five times and all those times were into a headwind.  At least I never had to run it on one of the super hot days.  That would do me in.  I’ll take a headwind any day.

I look forward to more blogging after May 3rd.  Ciao!

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The Boston Marathon, a Run For All Reasons

The running of the Boston Marathon is fertile ground for stories to inspire, but most would be hard put to find one more compelling than that of Team Hoyt.  Rick Hoyt has cerebral palsy and the medical advice given to his parents on his birth was that he should be institutionalized, as there was no hope that he would have a “normal” life.  Nonetheless, his parents treated him like an ordinary child and with the help of a computer device Rick was eventually able to communicate to his family, his passion for sports.

Thus it was that Dick Hoyt began to enter charity runs and compete while pushing Rick in a wheelchair.  A source of much enjoyment, the pair began entering marathons and from there, progressed to triathlons. For the swim, Dick would tow Rick in a tiny boat and for the cycling portion would carry him on the front of his bike.  As of 2008, they had completed 229 triathlons and 66 marathons, often finishing in the top 10% of the field with a marathon personal best of 2 hours 40 minutes and 47 seconds.  A time, which is 3o minutes under the qualifying time for Open Men in the Boston Marathon.

In 2009 the duo completed their 27th Boston Marathon, Rick was 47 and Dick was 68 – sending a message to the world to include rather than exclude those with disabilities from activities that most of us have the good fortune to easily be a part of.

Never, ever give up! What does that mean to you?

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Here, There & Everywhere

That’s how the day felt.  I got to work early for a three-hour shift leaving before noon to head out to Scarborough via TTC for a funeral.  I barely knew the deceased but was happy to be pay my respects to the family of my step-grandfather, the only grandfather, on my mother’s side, that we knew.

I got a ride back from my brother and he dropped me off on Queen Street West.  I picked up a gift certificate from the Australian Boot Company where I bought my Blundstone boots, their contribution to the gala Silent Auction.  Then I had a quick lunch at Sweet Lulu’s, a Pad Thai’ish, design-your-own noodle dish, had a peek at The Paper Place, formerly the Japanese Paper store and then home with a short stopover at Starbuck’s for a latte.  I did some work and then got ready for my first outdoor track workout of the year at Varsity Stadium.

I checked the forecast before leaving, 17C with wind gusts up to 69K!  The wind was very fierce at times, and I saw a large flat piece of wood fly onto the hood of a car.  With this strong wind at my back, I was not looking forward to the post-workout jog home into the wind.

The workout consisted of 6 x 600 meters with a 90 second recovery.  It was quite a huff and puff effort but it felt good to feel my legs turn over quickly.    In spite of missing a speed session last week, I felt fairly sharp so perhaps my speed is on the rise.   The circuits felt easier, due to the notable absence of the dreaded hopping up stairs from same leg to same leg. There is something refreshing and dreamy about lying on your back doing a stretch, looking at the great expanse of sky from a large field in the middle of downtown Toronto. However, there is something disgusting about lying on this same track and noticing that the there are numerous cigarette butts and matches littered about on the astroturf.

Thankfully, the wind had died down on the way home and it wasn’t half bad.  Waiting for me was a meal of Osso Bucco prepare by our resident chef, Alain.  I have a good life.


Ready, Set . . . BAKE

Alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I dozed back to sleep, waking after 7 a.m. and having to be out of the house for 7:30 a.m.  I considered deferring this longer run to Sunday but roused myself and plodded up the hill to St. Clair.  I was late but had sent an alert by email and BlackBerry Messenger to my companions.  It was only around mile 12 that I began to feel perky.  Miles run for the day, fifteen.

The cause of early morning sluggishness was a later than usual night due to my first ever bake-a-thon.  Leading up to our May 3rd, Gala my calendar of activities will be severely constrained to Easter dinner or event planning task sessions or meetings or runs.

Get set . . . bake!

My dear friend Dolores and I over the course of nearly 6 hours baked about 28 dozen cookies!  We discovered this to be a relaxing and rewarding way to spend time together.  Although early on as I exercised some quality control advice from my 30 years or more of making this particular cookie type, Dolores may have wondered what she had got herself into.  But she patiently heeded my instructions with appreciation for the fact that magnification of a slight over-size cookie could result in a  shortfall at the end of the evening.  Our minimum target was 300.

Batch #2 with 2 1/2 pounds of butter.

It didn’t take long for us to get into a groove and the afternoon and evening flew by, punctuated by a vegetarian dinner of Spanish Bulgur, a classic recipe from Diet for a Small Planet. Together we were able to nearly finish the whole mega-batch of 11 times the usual recipe for Mexican Tea Cakes from a Betty Crocker Cookie Book that was given to me by an aunt around 1967.

The Finished Product

We lamented the fact that our friend Robyn who is suffering from the severe sleep deprivation of mom-hood was unable to join us but felt good that the two of us had pulled it off.  And where will these cookies go you may ask?  Each gala guest will receive in their goodie bag two cookies, lovingly prepared by Dolores and Lynn.

Tulips for the Assistant Baker


Baking not Blogging

Sunnyside Beach not so sunny.

Yesterday, making all the pieces of my day fit together meant arriving at work super-early, running from work, along the lake, through High Park and a brief interlude at home followed by dashing off to a meeting at C-5  with the bandleader of Ethio Fidel Jazz band who will perform at our gala People4Kids.

The day got off to a sweet start as we got an early morning delivery of chocolate from CAMINO fair trade, organic chocolate destined for Gala goodie bags.  We received this note from CAMINO.  WooHoo!

Thank you for considering us as sponsors for your event. We are truly impressed with all your hard work and dedication towards orphaned children affected by AIDS in Ethiopia. We are happy to be able to contribute a small gift for your gala. We are able to offer you 300 chocolate minis (55% dark).

I just popped a chocolate into my mouth and yes, yum, it is superfine stuff.  Thanks Camino chocolate, you are the best!  I’ll also be seeking out their chocolate coconut bar.

Western Horizon seen from Sunnyside Beach

The foggy dew of the morning evolved into an atmospheric mistiness over the lake in the afternoon.  I took the beach shots just before starting the 12 x 200 meter pick-ups with 75 second recovery.  When I remarked to my coach that it was a fun workout, he confided that it is one of his favourites.  My coach, a former Olympian also holds some world records for his age group in the 800 meters.  I gather that one of his training secrets is circuit training which includes hopping up stairs on one foot.

On the heels of my workout I bounded breathlessly into our local Starbuck’s at College and Dovercourt to be greeted by the manager who told me that yes, Starbuck’s will donate a $75 gift basket to the Gala.  This manager is very excited about the opportunity she will have next week to meet Howard Schultz of Starbuck’s.

C5 Charcuterie Plate

As for food I added shredded apple and orange juice to my carrot oatmeal to improve on the “fruitlessness” of Wednesday. Also consumed through the day was; 1 bottle YOP, Activa yogurt (2.9% MF), peanut butter and banana sandwich, portion of a large charcuterie platter and that is it.  Not much really as my appetite is still a little curtailed and I’m feeling about 90%.  A nurse who is part of the team looking into the illness incurred by me and many last Friday was quite interested to hear that I had previously been struck down by the Norwalk virus.

Apple, Carrot, Orange Juice Oatmeal

After returning from C5, I was inspired by the sight of 4 very ripe bananas to bake banana bread for a friend’s visit.  Well, actually she will put to work, helping me to bake 30 dozen cookies.  After baking I was completely out of gas.  Time for bed – blog or no blog.

To Blog or To Bake Banana Bread

p.s.  I just got off the phone with Dufflet pastry and they are donating a cake certificate to the silent auction.  Life is sweet! But — will my friend feel the same way after helping me bake 30 dozen cookies?

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A Carrot a Day

In my effort to be more focused on healthy eating, I’ll be blogging a bit about what I’m eating.  Actually, I’ve probably exaggerated the state of affairs as 1) Both my husband and I have given alcohol up for Lent (with a couple of exceptions) over the last four weeks and 2) My breakfasts have been consistently healthy.

Ever since I discovered the recipe for Carrot Cake Oatmeal on my friend’s blog in December, I’ve been having this for breakfast six out of seven mornings a week.  For the 4th or 5th time I encourage you to try give this a try!  CLICK HERE for the original recipe and more photos of this breakfast superfood.

Ingredients for a Healthy Breakfast

It has now become a morning ritual to grate carrots to add to my oatmeal.  Quickie recipe for 1 person: 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cups grated carrot, 1 cup milk or almond milk or soy milk, a dash of cinnamon and a bit of vanilla.  Then cook at high in the microwave for 6 minutes in a very large bowl.  Add an extra minute for every every portion cooked.  Check out my previous blogs on Carrot Cake Oatmeal to see all the fancy stuff you can do with the recipe.

My lunch was a wrap with chicken, cheese, cucumber, lettuce and tomato and a glass of diet ginger ale.  The ubiquitous staff birthday cake appeared and I had a piece of somewhat synthetic chocolate cake.  I confess, that I had a piece larger than the one initially offered since I was asked if I wanted a larger one and I said yes.  I had a latte from The Communal Mule and then picked up a Tim Horton’s carrot muffin (free due to husband’s roll-up-the-rim prize earnings) on the way home. For dinner I had a bowl of instant miso soup and three slices of cold pizza (artisanal style, cheese & tomato sauce)  left over from Monday’s lunch at Pizzeria Libretto on Ossington.  As I review my day I see that I’m a little short on fruit but all in all, it could be worse but still lots of room for improvement.

I ran 5 miles this morning and felt quite comfortable.  I’m on the mend.  And, breaking news . . . apparently, many people got sick at the event I attended on Friday and there has been talk that it might be the Norwalk Virus.  Something airborne is suspected and authorities are investigating.  I’ve already had the Norwalk Virus and I’m told you can only have it once so perhaps I should be letting someone know this?  My husband, my son and I all caught it one year when we visited my mother-in-law in her nursing home.  My father-in-law got it as well and our holiday visit to Edmonton was rather a dismal one.   The Norwalk Virus was 20 times as bad as what I had over the weekend.

I’m so happy to be healthy again.  A toast to health, yours and mine.

“The first wealth is health.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Back to Basics, A Three Mile Run

Last night I went to bed at 8:30 p.m. feeling quite exhausted and with a bit of indigestion.  Although, a mere sliver of the discomfort that I felt the evening before while in the throes of food poisoning.  I have only myself to blame for the indigestion in being less prudent than one should be the day following illness.   For lunch I had a slice of pizza, an arugula, pear and walnut salad and vanilla ice cream.  I had intended to eat lightly and blandly but I was seduced by the lunch special at a new pizza cafe on Ossington avenue.

Because I run at least 40 miles a week and quite a bit more at times, I don’t have to be too careful about what I eat.  I also have a pretty sturdy stomach and a good appetite.  Was illness my payback for stealing the tidbit of prime rib my husband had sliced off for himself after dinner while cleaning up and before putting the roast in the fridge?  I think it is going to be a very long time before I feel in the mood to eat roast beef as it is high on the list of poisoned food culprits, along with the ham sandwich I bought at a tiny snack bar and a danish with a mushy cream cheese centre stored unrefrigerated. A bout of illness is a good motivator to think more seriously about diet.

I woke this morning at 5:30 a.m. and the first thing I said to my husband (even though I wasn’t sure he was awake) was, “Wanna run together?”  He is not a morning person so I won’t go into the details of his initial reaction but run we did. It has been quite awhile since we’ve been able to share a run with his limited routine due to his torn meniscus but three miles was the perfect distance for us both today.

It felt fantastic to get out and move!  It was better than a massage to get those joints and muscles in motion and the sensation of all that blood flow propelled me back to feeling a sense of well-being in short order.  Ah, running . . . how I love thee, let me count the ways.