Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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Running in February, down by the boardwalk

Marilyn Bell Park on February 2, 2012

Never in the my personal history of thirty years of running in Toronto has there been such an astonishing weather. WooHoo! The photo above is from a run I did the day after returning from our trip to Arizona and New Mexico. Today my eight miler down by the lake was about as good as it gets in the winter. The wind gained force through the day but it was nicely in check in the morning.

Boardwalk near Sunnyside Pool, February 27, 2012

Yesterday I ran 1500 meters at a masters provincial track championship. With many years of racing under my belt, there are rarely surprises when it comes to racing times. However, the injection of speed work over the past month set the stage for a time 10 seconds faster than my stretch goal and a vast improvement on my mile time run a couple of weeks ago. Something akin to going from a 4:10 mile to a 3:58 mile in a couple of weeks.

According to the AGE-GRADED-CALCULATOR the bible of the masters runner my time was equivalent to an open time of 4:41.3. Very encouraging. One of my goals is to get fast enough so to avoid being lapped by my very speedy and younger teammates, one of whom won her age-category this year in the Fifth Avenue Mile. That is world-class running!

1500 meter race - a real high

On the heels of my NYC Marathon disappointment I registered for the Around the Bay 30K however I’m so enjoying the prospect of more track and doing a fast 5K that I’m going to pass on the 30K. As for my training, I’m going to err on the side of speed. Holding back on mileage in favour of good quality speedwork. Although for me, holding back on mileage means not going over 70 miles or 114K. Why do I run so many miles? I’ve always felt that I have more speed than endurance but I think I went over the top on that count and I’m really excited to change my focus.

I’m hoping to be running like a lion in March!

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Running for the two of us

I’m trying to boost my mileage a little but this week had to be satisfied with matching the 45 miles or 72K that I ran two weeks ago. Commuting to Mississauga for a four day in-class session of my four-month course cast a pall on my running ambitions for the week. To make it to my destination meant leaving home around 6:45 a.m. Adding to this were two evening engagements with start times not far off my usual bedtime on days when I leave home for work at 9 or 10 a.m.

Getting lapped in the mile by teammates

I’ve been too busy to write much about my renewed commitment to increased racing fitness but joining a track club was something I finally did in January after nearly two years of thinking about it. My 2012 drive to get fit was set back by turning my ankle and a bad cold over the couple of weeks while I was on holiday and this week’s challenge was to merely maintain my momentum. But I’m excited about applying myself to speed work with the track club and feel confident that I can maintain this momentum alongside my volunteer commitment of organizing the People4Kids Gala to take place on Thursday, May 3rd at C-5 in the ROM.

Part of my confidence is due in part to focusing on quality rather than quantity over the next few months. Last year at this time I was hoping to run a marathon however, the commitment to high mileage was too much to maintain while organizing the gala. I’m also banking on the hope that having a club to train with at regular times will reduce the amount of determination I need to get myself to do interval sessions.

Here is what I did this week:

  • Monday – 10 miles easy (day after 800 meter and mile race)
  • Tuesday – 3 miles easy (left for run at 5:15 a.m. and went to bed at 8:30 p.m.)
  • Wednesday – 7  miles (Decided to stay at a hotel near the course site in Mississauga to facilitate an evening run)
  • Thursday – 4 miles (threshold session on hotel treadmill)
  • Friday – 2 miles (left for run at 5:30 a.m.)
  • Saturday – 14 miles solo
  • Sunday – 5 miles
  • Total / 45 miles

My husband joined me at the hotel in Mississauga and assumed the stress of commuting to his workplace. Thankfully, the week was not as crazy as expected as the two hour commutes back to Toronto did not materialize as I received a lift home on three of the days. This allowed me to nap on Thursday before attending the gala opening of the auto show. This event is very popular as there is a lot of complimentary food and drink. In order to conserve my energy I did not take advantage of the drink offers other than juice and coffee but was extremely happy to enjoy the free oyster bar among other things.

Free oysters courtesy of Lexus

On Friday, I was also able to nap and along with members of the gala committee went to hear Waleed Abdulhamid perform. We were in negotiations to have him play at our gala and were well satisfied by his performance that he is our man.

Fellow talent hunters

Saturday morning brought sludgy snow and overcast skies which made getting out the door, with no company, difficult. But my husband reminded me of how lucky I am to be able to run injury-free and tells me that I have to run for the two of us, thus helping to prod me to hit the roads. Part of the process of getting out the door involved downloading some new music and creating a new playlist called “long run”.

I had fully intended to run to the Athletic Centre at U of T and run indoors but as I left the house it stopped snowing and the sky cleared. So with uncleared sidewalks predominating I decided my best bet was to run along Bloor the whole way, which I did for a very long stretch from St. George to Woodbine. I ran back  the exact same way. Not bad for a winter run but the tips of crocus leaves have been showing for a couple of weeks and wouldn’t it be nice if spring was early this year. Training without the company of my favourite training partner, my husband over these past few years has proven a challenge however his encouragement is at the top of the list of my arsenal of motivational tactics and inducements to get out the door nearly every day of the year.


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The Way I Feel – Running 800 meters

I’ve been busy with an intensive course, on-line for the most part but this is the one week of in-class instruction. It takes place in Mississauga so I’ll have to leave home just before 7 a.m. to get there for 8:45 a.m. Additionally, planning for the gala my husband and I Chair is in full gear so getting my runs in this week will be a challenge, particularly since I’m hoping to boost my mileage after focusing on quality last week.

Last week I had some intense work outs and in fact – surprise, surprise – one of those was to race on the track for the first time since 2002 or was it 2003. So how does it feel to run 800 meters after nearly a decade of focusing on the marathon? Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Waaaahhhh!

 

I had hoped to go under 3 minutes and missed by .04 of a second. Boo! I had trouble during the warm-up while jogging with my spikes, as my low-to-the-ground marathoner’s stride sent me sprawling to the ground with my heel toe motion catching the 5mm pins at the wrong time. I was a bundle of nerves, the only thing keeping me going was the knowledge that I would feel a sense of satisfaction afterward and that my leg speed will benefit from my efforts. To help our team garner more points, I also ran the mile which took place an hour later.

Prior to the race I was wishing for the anonymity of running with 45,000 others in the NYC marathon. Track is an intense affair as spectators can watch you every step of the way so you really feel under the microscope. If you go out too hard and finish miserably in a road race, your splits may tell the story but no one actually sees you slow down at each 200 meter split. I ran the first lap in about 42 seconds which for an evenly run race would mean a time of 2:48 but alas, that was not to be but I did manage a decent last lap.

The rarely run mile

I wore regular lightweight racing flats for the mile as I was worried that I would not be able to stride strongly on the heels of the 800 meter race and that I would  again be hurled to the ground.

I was disappointed in my time of 6:48 although it was relatively a better time than my 800 meters. I have good base endurance, a modicum of strength and little speed at this point but I’m looking forward to speedier times in the late spring and early summer with consistent interval and speed work.

I’m very happy to have finally joined the masters group at U of T. Were it not for the team scoring component, I may never gotten back on track. It’s time to kick up those heels!


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“Once Upon a Time in the West”

Back from our southwest swing, we enjoyed watching a film for which we saw a poster in a Taos, New Mexico coffee shop, a 1968 Sergio Leone film, “Once upon a Time in the West”. We revisited the desert in this film featuring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale. Apparently, it is a favourite of film aficionado’s and film makers including Quentin Tarantino, appearing on many an all-time, top one hundred list.

While in Arizona, I was eager to pay a visit to the Cowtown Boot Outlet. I am always on the hunt for stylish but comfortable footwear and blogged about this in the post titled RUBBER SOLES. One exception to the superior comfort of rubber soles is the cowboy boot. What is it that makes cowboy boots so comfortable? Granted, they are not the height of stylishness but they are certainly a little more lithe in appearance than my beloved Blundstones. My comfy footwear instincts were dead on and I was rewarded with a pair of black leather boots for $113.  Sadly there is no such outlet in Canada, not even in Alberta but if you are in the U.S. and in need of comfy boots –  you gotta go!

Score: Comfy all-leather boots for $113

Justin Boots - Black Kipskin

On my last run in Phoenix I was drawn to finish my 6 miles in South Mountain park despite the risk of re-injuring my tender ankle. Fortunately all went well and I left feeling ready to tackle speedwork and increase my mileage upon returning to Toronto.

Last run in the west for this cowgirl