Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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Two Deserts, Two Views

The ferry to the Sudan

We’ve left the high ground of Santa Fe and are back in Phoenix. I’m hoping the lower altitude will help me shake the nasty cold that became full-blown after a tough 5 miles at 7000 feet in Santa Fe leaving me grounded at altitude for two days. It seemed wise to reserve my oxygen intake, lessened by over 20% for getting well. My plan to race today was quashed and I will be thrilled if I can run 3 miles today comfortably as the run of barely two miles yesterday was a run-walk effort. This was partly due to running on trails with my ankle is feeling nearly 100% it is hard to stay away from the Sonora desert trails of South Mountain Park which is right in our backyard. My husband saw a coyote hanging out back yesterday while later in the day a coyote was spotted on the street in front of our nephew’s house. Although we are told that the critter to watch out for is the javelina a type of wild pig.

Room in Aswan with view of the Nile

Hotel Andaluz Albuquerque, view of the freeway

I was excited to check Twitter and find that Bev Coburn @activeage posted a number of photos from the Sudan on Twitter. I also received this email:

We will be arriving in Addis late afternoon on February 20th and will have a full rest day on the 21st.  The Communications Director for the tour is going to try to join me on the visit to the orphanage. I will make sure we get lots of pictures. I will let you know in the next couple of weeks all the details of our campsite where we will be in Addis.

The tour so far has been a lot of fun and full of adrenaline rushes – many surprises along the way including kids ambushing us in a small town in Egypt.

Every day gets better.  We are now in northern Sudan – the ancient city of Dongola. The Nubian people are so friendly.

Talk soon,
Bev

I wonder if Bev might be able to meet the nine year old girl we sponsor when she visits the orphanage. One of the unique things about this sponsorship program is that the parameters of the relationship between sponsor and child are more flexible than other programs. Reasons for this may be the relatively small size of the program along with the strong relationships between Ethiopians in Canada and those in Ethiopia. The People to People AID Organization Canada program coordinator will be in Addis when Bev passes through. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at about 7500 feet above sea level is a few hundred feet higher than Santa Fe so it will be a hard ride to get there.

Trail running in South Mountain Park

Meanwhile after a ferry ride to the Sudan, Bev seems to have spent a night in a hotel where she was looking forward to washing the sand out of her hair. Their average pace per day is 120K. While cycling the length of Africa seems astonishing I should mention that Bev’s past as an elite Ironman triathlete and posting national best age-group times as a triathlete and runner is a good starting point for taking on this challenge. Here’s a quote from a talk that Bev gave a few years ago.

What is a good GOAL? A good GOAL is one that you are 85% sure you can accomplish. Personally, I love a GOOD, LOFTY GOAL!

 

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A Tale of Two Deserts

I wish I could claim to be a hardy traveler but truth be known, I’m not particularly adventurous. In some ways, I think that my inclinations to comfort and order help to make me a good marathoner. When I was running my best, I was exceptionally good at sticking to a plan and recognizing the training benefits of regular sleep schedules and eating habits as aids to top performance.

Running in Santa Fe, NM

We breezed through the desert city of Albuquerque, New Mexico on Monday where we stayed at The Andaluz a recently restored and now state historic building and are now in another desert town, Santa Fe enjoying the amenities of the Hotel St. Francis. From this comfortable vantage point in the North American desert I’ve been checking on the progress of my super-hero, athlete-friend Beverley Coburn.

Bev at the start line, Giza, Egypt

Bev is also traveling through the desert however she is sleeping in a small pup tent and making her way on a bicycle. She is on a four month cycling trip which started on January 14th which will take her from Cairo to Capetown.

1 star accommodations in Egypt

Bev is raising funds for the orphan sponsorship program run by People to People AID Organization Canada.  This is the orphan sponsorship program that my husband and I support as volunteer Co-chairs and organizers of the People4Kids Gala which will take place this year on Thursday, May 3rd at the ROM. If this is the type of cause you are interested in supporting  you can CLICK HERE to make a donation to her ride. Here are a couple of photos from the farewell party we held for Bev earlier this month.

Chair of P2P Canada, Bev, Lynn & P2P Board member

You can follow her progress through the Tour D’Afrique blog or on Twitter @activeage or @People4Kids. She has cycled through Egypt and is now cycling through the Sudan. GO BEV GO!

“Then tell the Wind and Fire where to stop, but don’t tell me.” (Dickens, Tale of Two Cities)

Farewell cake


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Land of grapefruit & trail running

Running in South Mountain Park

Yes, I have escaped for a warmer weather getaway. Not without a bit of guilt for leaving behind two hard-working students at home. Hopefully, they will have a bit of time while parent-free to host some social gatherings in our absence. Thankfully, our two young men are very responsible and sometimes when we return the house is in better shape than when we departed. They are very thorough with their tidying up which we really appreciate.

Breakfast time

We are staying in Atawatukee a neighbourhood of Phoenix at our nephew’s home which backs on to  South Mountain Park the largest urban park in North America with 51 miles of primary trails for horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking. My first run in the park was an add-on to three miles run on the road with my husband. The path surfaces are variable particularly the less trodden paths close to our backyard entry and while turning this way and that to find the sign post cactus named Mrs. Boobs (by our grand-nephew and niece) I took a slight turn on my ankle. Not much harm done.

The following day around mile five of my planned twelve mile run I went flying to the ground, scraping knee, hands and elbows. Ouch! I had to call it a day and headed to Target for an ankle brace. For $10 I bought a very streamlined brace by 3M designed for a woman’s ankle in two sizes.

Mrs. Boobs

This morning I realized that it was not realistic to squeeze in a 12 miler in order to get my 40 miles this week. Easy running was the order of the day and I was satisfied with a 5.5 miles run at a very slow place. I felt okay but there was not much propulsion in my right ankle. I iced my ankle after the run and feel that I may be able to run ten miles or more tomorrow. I’m anxious about getting a longish run in for three reasons; 1) I made the commitment to join the masters group at U of T and have started to do track work. 2) We are flying to Albuquerque tomorrow for four days and I’m guessing that running this distance at 1,619.1 meters above sea level might feel fairly difficult. 3) I was planning to run a 5K next Sunday but given the latest development, we shall see.

Before the fall

In addition to having a park in his backyard, my nephew also has a massage chair. Yes, a massage chair and this one is a breed apart from the type you may have seen in malls.  It has options for Swedish, Shiatsu, stretch mode and a quickie massage among others and massages the legs and arms. As I write this my back is remembering how good it feels. I really should go!


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The Moose & Marc Chagall

Wondering what a moose has in common with Marc Chagall? In the past month or so these were a couple of highlights in my little world, that never made it to the blog-o-sphere due to the now intermittent pace of my posts. In January of 2011 at this time I had not missed a day of blogging for a total of 21 posts while this will be my second post of the year.

St. Albert, grain elevator

St. Albert, a suburb of Edmonton, Alberta, enjoyed a spell of warmish winter weather during my four day visit in December. The path along the Sturgeon river was runnable and in many ways much more pleasant than my summer runs (see Running with the Mosquitoes) where at times one must concentrate on keeping  your mouth closed to avoid getting a mouthful of insects. I did a stretch of the Sturgeon river path, hitherto unexplored and was rewarded by the sight of an icon of the prairie landscape, a grain elevator, something I’ve grown to to love.

Click here for Big Lake webcam photos

A short stretch through an older section of St. Albert led me to a winding road flanked by parkland. About 150 feet ahead, I noticed a large creature, with an awkward loping stride crossing the road. Was it a horse? NO, it was a moose. I grabbed my BlackBerry and whilst fumbling with cold hands, missed capturing  the moment. My dismay at missing this photo opportunity changed to concern that the moose might decide to trot my way. I reversed direction and found myself looking over my shoulder regularly, just in case.

This was the second moose sighting of my life, the first a couple of years ago, sighted just off the highway while driving near Parry Sound. I wonder how many Canadians have actually seen a moose in the wild? I learned that this is fairly common in Alberta although my 95 year old father-in-law a resident of St. Albert for over 45 years has never seen one. I discovered that I my sighting took place about three miles from Big Lake where many a moose and other creatures are to be found.

Second trip to the Chagall exhibit

As for Chagall, due to the disappointment of missing a trip to an art gallery while  in NYC to run the marathon with my sister as support crew, we did a tourist day in Toronto. Our first stop was the AGO for the Chagall exhibit. Featured alongside Chagall were his Russian avant-garde contemporaries. The most striking contribution from this group was the film, Man With a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov a film which as a film aficionado in the early-eighties, I viewed in a tiny room of the U of T film library housed in the basement of Sigmund Samuels library. The film released in 1929 is notable for it’s unabashed experimentation with this new art form and was projected onto a very large screen in a prominent area of the exhibition. Bravo AGO, you are doing a great job of making our gallery a world-class venue.

In 1981 during a three month solo tour of Europe I visited the Chagall Museum in Nice, France and more than half a lifetime ago, made this entry in my travel journal.

Saturday, February 21, 1981

. . . the Chagall Museum and there was a small chapel in which a girl was practicing on a harpsichord painted by Chagall, if there was one moment which I might say was THE moment I was looking for here in Europe I would probably choose that one.

Chagall Harpsichord painting – Meeting of Isaac & Rebecca

While the number of Chagall paintings and drawings in the AGO exhibit was limited, the selection of 32 works was quite satisfying to this Chagall lover. I signed up for an AGO membership and I returned in late-December with my husband for another visit.

Paintings done by Chagall of his hometown Vitebsk (Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire) are testimony to the power of art to elevate the ordinary into the extraordinary. In December I had an invitation to experience an extraordinary marathon in Russia. To begin with my friend was looking for some who would help provide the appropriate reading glasses to the Buryat people. The training for this is very simple and is done by Agape.  At the end of the mission I was invited to participate in the 8th Annual International Baikal Ice Running Marathon. This marathon is run on a frozen lake with the route mapped out by satellite in order to insure safe ice running. Due to my volunteer commitments this year I declined but for my friend this will be his very first marathon attempt. Imagine that!


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Let the wild rumpus begin!

After three years of enjoying empty-nester style New Year’s Eve getaways, we decided on something completely different. Three years ago we spent a few days in Chicago. Two years ago we attended opera’s greatest hits at Roy Thomson Hall and stayed at the King Edward Hotel and last year we partied at a friends place in the Beach and stayed at a nearby B & B on Balsam avenue. This year we opted for an evening with two nephews and a niece ages nine, seven and five, which included an outing to see the Muppet movie.

Party of Four

All was going well until I began to experience some ominous tummy rumblings and subsequent symptoms of food poisoning. My husband did not seem entirely sympathetic when I announced during our pizza dinner while viewing “Where the Wild Things Are” that I just had to go to bed. It was then that the wild rumpus really began, for my husband at least. I slept for several hours and gathered the energy to rise just before 1 a.m. just as the Pirates of the Caribbean was ending, to wish the still-awake 9 year old and my husband Happy New Year and then crawled back to sleep.

I woke in the morning after a long but very shallow and disrupted period of sleep with just enough energy to cook pancakes for breakfast and spend a bit of time with our lively crew of youngsters. After their departure we attended mass but I had trouble staying awake and spent most of what remained of the day sleeping. It is the one day of the year that I make a point of running and I think this may be the first New Year’s day in 31 years that I have missed a run.

Thus in the first two days of 2012 I have spent more hours asleep than awake, I’ve not yet run and my diet has been confined to ginger ale, apple juice, plain chips, a few pancakes and Campbell’s chicken noodle soup.

This gave rise to thoughts of how lucky I am to be nornally blessed with such good health and resolutions to remember that each and every day and remember those who are ill. One of the reasons I run is that like Emerson, I do feel that on this earth our “first wealth IS health”!

Wishing you health and wellness in 2012!

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

(3 John 2)