Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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16 weeks to the Boston Marathon

I needed the reminder that arrived via FaceBook that the countdown to Boston has begun and the B.A.A. has training programs for the beginner or intermediate and advanced level. I’ve been delaying my return to training but did make it out tonight for an indoor track workout with my team the UTTC Masters.  These two things signalled that I can say today is the day, that my marathon training kicks-off.

I’ve been running fewer miles since the cross-country season ended in mid-November but my regular cruising pace has improved. This, thanks to a marathon-less fall and a focus on shorter distance training for indoor and outdoor track and cross-country races from 4K to 8K.

I was happy with my workout of 4 x 1200 with a two-minute recovery. I got progressively faster with 4:30. 4:18, 4:15 & 4:12. I felt good about the final fast one, as I had planned to do just 3 of the repeats.

I’m planning to get my marathon mileage in by doing a lot of doubles, to and from work. This will nicely  sandwich my very sedentary job at which I roll around my office from computer to printer to filing cabinet on my chair.

A teammate and I chatted about the extraordinary cost of hotels in Boston this year. The place I booked, is now $200 higher than when I booked a couple of months ago. My son the software developer has alerted me to the fact that just the act of “viewing” hotel websites can drive the cost up.

I’m planning to devote a future blog post to all the stuff one needs (or at least I feel I need) to be ready for any type of weather for the Boston marathon. One aspect of this is the fine-art of staying comfortable in the athlete’s village for 2-3 hours while waiting for the marathon start. A key item is shown at the top centre of the photo below. The camp chair is guaranteed to make you feel like a king or queen of the athlete’s village. I took this photo last year to remind myself of all the clothing combos needed and to start looking early at Value Village for suitable “throwaway clothing”.

So there is the training and there is the gear and then there will be much contemplation of why I will be running Boston despite being on the verge of semi-retirement from the marathon.  As the day draws nearer, and the runs get longer, I expect the emotions for all those training for the big day, will deepen, and the reasons why I feel compelled to go back one more time, will become more clear.

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Gifts for your favourite runner

Picking out gear for runners is not easy as the bigger items are somewhat technical and your favourite runners might prefer to make their own choices.

Choosing useful accessories is a much easier route to go. Here are some favourite items that have stood my personal 32 year, test of time and trendiness.

Foot roller

As I write my foot is resting on my foot roller. The simple foot roller picture above above is the most durable. The type with moving parts may eventually fall apart. I took mine on our vacation in September and left it behind, I replaced it shortly after.

foot roller

Smart Wool socks & Fox River socks

Nothing worse than socks that don’t fit properly. Most of my socks have some wool in them as I’ve found it to be the best wicking material of all. Strangely, the pair of Smart Wool socks that I bought from MEC that were specifically for running were unsatisfactory. But the regular line is fabulous and I wear some of the heavier styles for running. MEC sells Fox River socks. The biggest selection of Smart Wool socks I’ve seen in Toronto is at the Australian Boot Company. But the price points are high here in Canada and the selection extremely limited. Essential Apparel ships from the U.S. for a reasonable price and I just noticed that SportChek has a buy one, get one at 50% sale at the moment.

I travel with Smart Wool socks to wear while running and while walking. How much do I love great socks? My screen seems to be filled with images of socks and more socks!

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The Stick

I don’t use this often but there is nothing like this self-massager for loosening up some hard to stretch areas like the IT band and the outside shins.

Buff Multi-functional Headgear

I bought this years ago in Whitehorse, YK. So handy, so versatile and nice selection of patterns too. I mainly use it as neck warmer.

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Amphipod

Perfect solution for shorts or pants without pockets. The Amphipod has a clip to fasten to the outside or inside or your pants or anywhere actually. It’s also a great little wallet.

Amphipod

Japanese Self-massage thingy

I don’t know what this is called but I bought it at our local Japanese grocery store and it has lasted for nearly a decade, despite the rigours of back massage and more. It recently broke and I am scrambling to find a replacement. The item below is the closest thing I’ve found to my broken back massager.

bongers


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The Boston Marathon, be prepared

The Canadian fall marathon season peaked at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with the stunning performance of Lanni Marchant who set a new Canadian record of 2:28:00 for the marathon. The former record of 2:28:36 has been famously held by the humble and unassuming Sylvia Ruegger for 27 years. Ruegger at times has seemed almost embarrased for the record to have stood for so long and was at the finish line to greet Marchant.

My fall season will not include a marathon for the first time in 3 years. With the sharp decline in my marathon performance, in relative terms, I have decided to run fewer marathons, with a focus on running a marathon mainly as a celebration of a significant birthday. Last fall I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, in 2011 it was NYC and the year before, the California International Marathon in Sacramento. I have my eye on the Marine Corps Marathon as the stage for my next big birthday celebration.  An exception to this general marathon reduction scheme is the 2014 Boston Marathon. Like most who ran last year, returning in 2014 feels necessary in bringing a sense of closure to the 2013 experience.

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This is where it all begins

My fall has been about cross-country running and after November 16th, when the final race of the Ontario Masters Cross-Country Series takes place, my training will be focused on the Boston Marathon.  The first step to being prepared for Boston 2014 it seems, is finding a centrally located Boston hotel that is less than $400 a night. Prices seem to have jumped more than 50% from last spring. Advice to those training for Boston is to make your hotel reservation ASAP.

Earlier this fall we passed through Boston on our way to Cape Cod and could not resist taking the exit to Hopkinton.  We had some fun checking out a few start line attractions that one might not see while while lining up for the race with a cast of 30,000.

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The town of Hopkinton’s motto is “It All Starts Here” and the motto is captured in a bronze life-size statue of George V. Brown the legendary starter of the Boston Marathon for over 30 years. We also enjoyed the newly erected statue of my heroes Dick and Rick Hoyt who I met at the Boston Marathon Race Expo last spring. While viewing the statue a woman walked by and told us that her last name was Hoyt but while she was not related to the famous Hoyts, she wished she were.  The Hoyts were mentioned in President Barack Obama’s speech at the Interfaith Service after the Boston Marathon tragedy.

“In the words of Dick Hoyt, who has pushed his disabled son Rick in 31 Boston marathons, we can’t let something like this stop us. This doesn’t stop us.  And that’s what you’ve taught us, Boston. That’s what you’ve reminded us, to push on, to persevere, to not grow weary, to not get faint even when it hurts.”

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I’ll be thinking about Dick and Rick Hoyt when I run up Heartbreak Hill in the spring.

Yes we can!

Plaque-Hoyt


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Friends, Runners & Committee Members

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

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

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.


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Treading winter on a treadmill

I’ve been running long enough to remember when treadmills were an exotic species of gadget, used almost exclusively for tests administered by exercise physiologists.  I”m not sure when they started to become part of your standard gym equipment but thank goodness for that.

Over the past month I’ve done two 18 milers and both were done on the treadmill at my local YMCA due to very messy weather with treacherous footing. I’m an old hand at treadmilling but over those runs I learned a new trick. I can READ and RUN at the same time! If I set the font size on my Kobo reader to large, I can read without any difficulty. This is quite a discovery for someone who is trying to make it through the 1200+ pages of Les Miserables. I’m now 48% of the way through.

A cautionary note here. I think I can easily manage this feat as not many people have logged as many treadmill miles as I have. My theory is, that since running is second-nature for me and requires very little concentration, the door is open to multi-tasking. I think some of the findings presented in Thinking Fast and Slow by Nobel prize winner, Daniel Kahneman would support my view. Nonetheless, one should not get too cocky. Last fall I stumbled and fell on a treadmill and was hurled off. Thankfully I was not going very fast. I can’t imagine what would have happened otherwise. Wearing the safety catch while on a treadmill is a good idea.

Treadmill

A surprising development

For the latest 18 miler I did this. For the first hour, I listened to Thinking Fast and Slow, the audiobook. I own the hard copy of the book but had stalled at page 135 and knew that I needed the ease of the audiobook to get me back into it. I would like to have the “reader” option but three options for one book, seems excessive not to say, expensive. The book is a bit demanding so I knew that after the first hour, switching to Les Miserables would be in order. For the third hour, I listened to music. The week before I looked at all the “tags” I had collected on Shazaam, the music identifying app, and downloaded those from www.legalsounds.com for a pittance. It is always motivating to run with new music in hand.

No,it has not been easy getting geared up for winter marathon training, most of it on my own, but thank goodness for all these toys!


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A fast pace

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.

Lynn Kobayashi, Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi

*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 🙂

Lynn Kobyashi, Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi

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.

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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).

Mini Meet JackLynn

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. Jerry ran 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.

Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi, Lynn Kobayashi

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: people4kids@bell.net for more details.
  • Organize gala for Ethiopian orphans at the ROM on May 1st
  • Finish reading Les Miserables – The harsh conditions in the book make me think of hardships faced by those in developing nations. I am 45% of the way through.
  • Run for Ethiopian orphans at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15th.


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Running with the rabbits

I MUST tell you about my amazing teammates. It took me awhile to decide whether I wanted to commit to a club and twice-weekly workouts as I value the flexiblity of working out on my own schedule. Now that I’ve been a member of UTTC Masters for a year, the resounding verdict is triple-YES and WooHoo! How do I love UTTC Masters, I could count the ways but I’ll start with this. I am the oldest female on the team and am usually training for longer distances than my track-focused teammates. This means that more often than not, I do the maximum number of track repeats. So, combined with my age-diminished speed, I am usually the last off the track. What this means is that I get lots of cheers as my teammates cool-down and there are pace bunnies aplenty.

Fifth Avenue Mile

Annie, Queen of the Mile

On many occasions my teammates have jumped in to help me through the final stages of my workouts. The younger men, have paced me for whole segments as part of their cool-down while the somewhat-younger-than-me women have helped me kick it in through the final lap. Most recently I can thank Linda, Nathalie and Rita! And thanks Charlie who, I suspect, has been adding on an extra lap or two from his original target to keep me company.

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Linda, looking good in the 50-plus category

My first experience with being paced was last year when Annie, “The Queen of Fifth Avenue” ran the last two laps of a 1K time trial with me. Yes, Annie won her age-category at the Fifth Avenue Mile. Her balletic running form is admired by all of us. Just check out those pointed toes in the top photo as she breaks the tape in NYC.

Rita Kingston

Rita runs fast and coordinates team social events as well

Last Thursday, four of us ran 6 X 600 together and then I was on my own for the rest of my 12 X 600 workout, or so I thought. My teammates stood by the track to cheer me on and then jumped in for the final 150 meters of each repeat. That made things so much easier. One teammate to push and one to pull me along. Yesterday, I had a big workout of 5 x 1 mile with 3 minutes rest. With no company for the final repeat, Michael paced me through the last seven-minute mile. It was the fastest of the lot but felt the easiest.

Michael UTTC

Michael, a gentleman and a runner

In all my years of training with various teams, I’ve never had this kind of support, a benefit in part of getting slower. Thanks guys and gals.  I guess it is never too late to discover how  running with pace-bunnies can make track work, the hardest type of workouts, easier and fun!

* Many of the photos of masters runners taken at track and cross-country meets have been taken by Doug Smith, another amazing teammate and dedicated Ontario Masters Track & Field  Association volunteer extraordinaire.