Sister Tibebe Maco, recipient of numerous humanitarian awards.
May was a merry month! But rather than squeeze in my minimum two posts per month, today and tomorrow, I am declaring May 2013 my official blog holiday month. I’ve blogged a minimum of twice a month for 33 consecutive months beginning in August of 2011.
May got off to a quick start with the third year of the People4Kids Gala at the ROM. CLICK HERE for 2013 photos. Last week, we were pleased to have the chance to meet Sister Tibebe Maco, recipient of The Africa Prize for Leadership, awarded by the Hunger Project in recognition of her courageous fight to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia. We were introduced at a talk sponsored by P2P Canada and CUSO. Her organization HIDA is one of the People to People’s NGO partners for the orphan-sponsorship program supported by the gala.
See you next month!
Ps. I am back in training. Hope to race 800 meters and 1500 meters at the Ontario Masters Track Championships.
Much going on and there are nice intersections of the above. Monday was the start of a ten day training blitz, my peak training for Boston. My plan is to average 10 miles a day for this ten day period. I ran 18 miles on Monday during which I picked up the pace through 10 miles to the end. Two days before I raced 3K at the Canadian Masters Indoor Championships and was happy to have my best performance of my four-race indoor season of two 5K’s and two 3K’s. I was able to raise my age-graded score by 1% over each race. My 12:30 for 3K translates into a 9:42 as an open female, a solid national class time. It was an honour to be awarded the Ontario Masters Athlete of the Month for February. You can read about this HERE . . .
April is the Busiest Month
The Boston Marathon is on Monday, April 15th and the People4Kids Gala on Wednesday, May 1st. My husband and I are Co-chairs and what we thought would be a two- year commitment now has a life of its own. The funds raised at the gala go towards an orphan sponsorship program in Ethiopia which is run by the largest community group of Ethiopians and Eritreans here in Toronto, People to People AID Organization Canada (P2P). We have sponsored a little girl for a few years and while on my runs, I often visualize myself running in Africa, especially while listening to the song Viva Africa which has become a favourite of my Boston 2013 training cycle. You can have a listen at the YouTube link at the bottom of this blog.
View from my laptop
The photos to the left of “little Tigist” – so called because the Chair of P2P Canada is our “big Tigist” – were taken at Christmas. She is wearing a hoodie that was a gift from us along with a schoolbag and Christmas card. We hope to visit her soon. Our friend Ambaye, who is on the Board” of P2P traveled to Ethiopia in December and kindly offered to take these gifts with him.
Earlier in the month, I enjoyed planning a breakfast reception held in the Old Senate Chamber at University College to celebrate our gala supporters and kick off year three. We have a committee of eleven which includes four Ethiopian-Canadians. Defying stereotype, none of the Ethiopians run while five of us, including four Asian committee members do. Three of us are on the UTTC Masters track team, as is one of our key supporters.
We in fact sold two gala tickets to a runner friend who challenged our Ethiopian friend to do, what for Ambaye is the improbable, run a 5K.
Yesterday I jogged an easy 3 miles in the morning and in the early evening did a 10 mile run on the treadmill which included 60 minutes of running at marathon to half-marathon pace. I broke it into sections of 1 x 20 minutes, 2 x 15 minutes and 1 x 10 minutes, running progressively faster for each section. Tomorrow, I’m running 16-18 miles with the Saturday Guys. Although two of the four are lucky to be in warmer places . . . sigh. On Monday, I plan to do intervals with the team, the longer the better and will reach the summit of my training on Wednesday with a final long run of 17-18 miles which will include 8-10 miles of progressively faster running.
At right, big Tigist
Did I mention that I’m doing Boston for fun?! That and to raise funds for P2P. Yes, my training is not what it used to be and I’ve resigned myself to doing well at shorter distances but not being able to maintain the quality of performance over the long haul. Lacking natural endurance I used to compensate by running a lot of mileage but at age 57 the miles don’t come as easily.
I am hopeful that my recent foray into more track racing will result in some self-knowledge gains that will point me towards how to best train for marathons in my late-50’s and early 60’s. While I am happy to be able to run Boston this year, I don’t plan to return until 2016 when I will be in the 60-64 age group. I turn 60 in the fall of 2015. Can’t get my mind around that one. Three cheers for the prospect of being able to run marathons at age 60 but make no mistake . . . 60 is *NOT* the new 40.
Indeed! With seven weeks before the Boston Marathon I’m heading into the heart of marathon training. In addition to 60+ miles of training a week, a number of other activities are keeping me busy. But first a running update.
*The Look* On the verge of death or childbirth? I think I need some finish line coaching from Usain Bolt.
A few weeks back I set a Canadian age-group record for the indoor 5K. It was “low-hanging fruit” as far as records go but as one friend said I’m sure it was delicious nonetheless. I ran 21:55 – breaking the old mark of 26:14 held by Gossette Radlein since 2008. Tomorrow, I’ll be running another indoor 5K so it looks like I will be running to lower the Canadian record 🙂
Why am I HERE? (far right)
The 5K was an invitational race with athletes of all shapes, sizes and ages, and just one woman. That would be me. I’m not sure what the logic was of putting me in the best starting spot, the inside track, so to speak, perhaps that was the spot where it would be least likely for someone to trip over the vintage 1955 wannabe record chaser.
Jerry, the class of the field.
A couple of other records were broken in the race. Jerry Kooymans broke the men’s 55-59 record and Jack Geddes ran 23:29 – breaking the record of 27:46 held by Whitey Sheridan in 1991. I was happy to take the record down to a respectable level, a solid national class time (equivalent to about 17:40 were I in the Open category).
Setting the pace for a 75 yr. old record-holder.
Jerry on the other hand is the crème de la crème of masters running in Ontario, an international caliber athlete who has been competing his whole life and still holds records for the Princeton team. Jerryran most of the way by himself, finishing in 16:44. He broke the old record of 17:27 held by Robert Jackson set in 2011. Jerry is just a few months older than me which makes me an expert in knowing when he enters a new age-category.
We did it!!
This blog post has filled up rapidly thanks to all the great photos courtesy of Doug Smith of the Ontario Masters Track and Field Association. So I’ll have to elaborate on my other activities some other time. As far as that goes, let’s just say that Ethiopia is on my mind.
My To Do List for the Next Ten Weeks
Organize reception at University College on March 7th to recognize and attract sponsors and supporters for gala to benefit Ethiopian orphans. If you are interested or know of companies who might be interested, download this invitation: Sponsor Reception or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
We did it! Last Wednesday we pulled off another gala at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Canada. It was hard work and as we were in the homestretch of organizing my husband, who was on domestic duty while I did my special events schtick, asked if he should spoon feed me, chained to the computer as I was. So we raised enough money to provide support to over 65 children orphaned by HIV-AIDS in Ethiopia. That felt great! And many thanks to our supporters and the outstanding People4Kids Gala committee.
People to People AID Organization Canada, Board Chair, Tigist Abebe (left)
Favourite photo from 2011 Gala of my son and his girlfriend
Two doors west of the ROM is Varsity Stadium, home of my running club. The day after the gala I went for drinks with my running pals. Last year while in event-organizer mode, my training suffered greatly. This year, thanks to the regular workouts and support of my club, I ran some solid races and was awarded Athlete of the Month status for April. That felt great!
What the running club bought for the newborn twins of one of our teammates.
In between the ROM and Varsity Stadium is the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) and guess what! On Friday, we were there to enjoy the music of Egberto Gismonti in Koerner Hall, located in the RCM. I saw Gismonti perform about 30 years ago at the Bamboo Club (now LUSH Handmade Cosmetics). It WAS great!
Still on-the-go two nights later, just next door to the ROM
I’ll be hard pressed to pack in that much excitement into a one-block, three-day stretch again. Triple-dipping on Bloor Street . . . WooHoo Toronto!
Look up! It’s C5 at the ROM, scene of the gala – as seen from the lobby of Koerner Hall
Where we were on Wednesday, Thursday & Friday last week
Since running in a 10K race last Sunday, I’ve been pushing steadily on the homestretch of gala planning. I was satisfied with my race effort of 43:25 but felt that I was sharper for the 5K run on March 31st. I placed 1st in my category by 7 1/2 minutes and was almost three minutes faster than 10K I ran last fall. Training with a team has really paid off. My post-race plan calls for 10-12 days of reduced mileage and lots of recovery time in order to boost my energy stores for Wednesday, May 2nd, the day of the People4Kids gala fundraiser for children orphaned by HIV-AIDS in Ethiopia to take place at the ROM.
Team Spirit - with work to do
I ran eight miles this morning with two friends. The pace was brisk as I was eager to get on with my day. I woke at 4:30 a.m. in order to prepare all the materials to for a big work session at our home. A couple of hours after the run cookies were packaged, envelopes and goodie bags stuffed and decorative elements created, all in a few hours with the help of ten volunteers.
Expert goodie bag stuffer, John, oversees kitchen crew
Rewinding to last Saturday, I rested up for the Sunday race by baking 35 dozen cookies with a friend. THANK YOU ROBYN!
I can't believe we baked 35 dozen cookies!
Our event is technically sold-out but we are open to overbooking the few spots that will be free on event day due to usual unforeseen circumstances that will inevitably arise for some guests. As I work away with four days to go, I’ll be humming this song to myself and thinking about the little girl we sponsor and the estimated 123 million or more orphaned children in the world.
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.
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!
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.
The past week has been a transition from hyper-busy to a bit of calm before the holidays. We will be away a for two long weekends in December so I’m working hard at getting a lot done now, to make up for the away time. Take note Steven and Alain in case you were thinking of hosting a party 🙂 I ran 35 miles this week with a long run of 7 miles. I’ve been doing upper body weight work and doing walking lunges and hope to start lower body weights next week. My only speedwork since the marathon has been to pick up the pace for about five blocks when my husband passed me on his bicycle on College Street.
To prepare for hosting three festive events, I’ve been cleaning and organizing like crazy. My mantra: Out with the old and then MAKE DO! I have been accused of having some Luddite-like views in certain areas. Such as the refusal to own a dishwasher and the belief that if I cannot keep my own home clean and tidy I have too much space and too much stuff. I have too much stuff and consequently my home is far from being as clean and tidy as I would like it to be 🙂 I am having a farewell party for a co-worker who is returning to Hungary on December 27th, hosting our family Christmas dinner for 21 guests and then a farewell party for a friend who is going to cycle from Cairo to Capetown as a fundraiser for the Ethiopian orphan sponsorship program that we support by organizing a gala. My friend Bev is 61 years old, has two kids and two grand kids. I’m going to blog about Bev’s trip soon.
Bev (centre) introduced at Ethiopian Community Dinner by Board Chair (right)
We attended Advent Vespers at St. Basil’s church which always makes for a special evening but I was a bit disappointed that for the second year in a row, Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel was not sung. Here is a good version by Sufjan Stevens.
After Vespers we dropped the church hall for a snack and coffee and then went for a drink atop the Hyatt Regency at the famous rooftop bar that dates back to the time when this hotel was the Park Plaza. It was my first visit to this famous Toronto lounge.
I’ve already sent one Christmas card and began playing Christmas carols last week. I cleared our dining room table of my work-work and volunteer work paraphernalia and my husband and I enjoyed a nice sit down dinner. I guess things must be settling down if I have time to arrange flowers. Dickens is a favourite author, with David Copperfield my favourite of the four Dicken’s novels I’ve read the others, Great Expectations, Bleak House, Dombey and Son. I think I’ll read The Christmas Carol over the holidays. Yes, I am feeling very happy to have the time to thoroughly enjoy, appreciate and contribute to the best of the coming season of hope and joyful expectation.
It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty founder was a child himself.
I’ve set a record for the longest interval between blog posts of 8 days. Surpassing the previous lapse of 7 days. I have been and busy! I logged 60 hours of work and 60 miles of running with little time left to blog.
Sharing Saturday chores for a change
I started the week with aspirations to hit 70 miles however on my runs last Sunday and Monday, I felt as though I was running the final miles of a marathon as my legs were super-heavy. Thus I knew that it was time to back off a little. I had planned to do a tempo run on Tuesday but instead ran an easy 7 miles. I did a 45 minute section of tempo running on a 10 miler on Wednesday. Even though I broke the 45 minutes into four sections I was not able to get my heartrate into the threshold zone consistently because my legs went dead on me after the first 8 minutes.
Oh so succulent
I reconfigured the sequence of my workouts due to my belief that our annual family event was on Saturday and did my long run on Friday morning. I set out with a minimum goal of 16 miles given the results of the last hard workout but happily felt good enough to get in 18 miles. I discovered on Friday afternoon that the family event was on Sunday not Saturday. I decided to defer the 10 miler I had planned for Sunday to Monday in favour of being less rushed and also to give myself another rest day.
My husband usually does the meat and vegetable shopping on Saturdays while I’m running. Due to my confusion about dates I was able to go along with him to the farmer’s market at the Wychwood Barns. This market is on one of my long run routes and it was the first time I had been there in my civvies as prior visit have been when I needed to make a pit stop.
Fresh & fruity
Today I ran 10 miles with 8 x 2 minutes hard. The cooler temperature and the extra rest was a help as I felt great! There is a lot of exciting stuff going on at our place. Our son just moved back from his year internship at Research in Motion and both he and his friend Alain, who lives with us, are going to join my husband and I in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. Before I had begun my workout, Alain was back from his run and just as I finished my run, Steven appeared, having just finished his. When my husband returned from his workout, he cooked up a big breakfast, well-deserved by all.
To find out more about what is keeping our household fit click on Scotiabank Charity Challenge to see our motivation. CLICK HERE to find out more and perhaps place a pledge on me 🙂 If you would like to join our team just send your inquiry as a comment on this post.
I had today off and made good use of it. I spent quite a bit of time in the garden and then ran, destination St. Lawrence market. The market was alive with lunch hour in full swing but alas the store that I used to buy Ismay morning glory seeds was no longer. Then I ran to Staples to pick up printer ink for my workplace and dropped it off during lunch. There were extra burgers on hand, so I packed one up and ran home, consuming it shortly after arriving.
Then back to the garden. I love weeding!
With an evening gala meeting by late afternoon, I had to get serious about organizing financial information which kept me quite busy until shortly before meeting time. Our meeting place was the Emmett Ray bar just around the corner. The gala photos made their debut and we set a date for next year of Wednesday, May 2nd. The meeting was about the financial stuff but other committee members decided to join us just because . . . we really like each other!
The music was very loud at the Emmett Ray but in spite of this impediment we had a very gay time enjoying the success of our event and looking ahead to 2012.