Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

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To the Bakery and Back

Christmas tree, Distillery style

With no companions for this run and so-so weather, I knew I would have to gear up mentally for my 12 miler, my longest run since the NYC marathon. Yesterday, I did my first treadmill workout due to the slushy, messy road conditions and icy sidewalks that come with precipitation when the temperature hovers around 0C.

I decided to run an unusual route in that normally I run routes with minimal pedestrian traffic but with the threat of slippery sidewalks, sticking to well-trodden routes is a necessity. My route incorporated a run along Church Street, King Street East and the Distillery District, three areas which are off our beaten path.

Art in the City

I ran east on Davenport and then down Bay street, over to Yonge, east on Wellesley and down Church Street. I was able to get a glimpse of the new Loblaws housed in Maple Leaf Gardens. I never did see a Leafs game although went to quite a few Canadiens games while growing up in Montreal. I think I’ve seen three concerts at the Gardens, Neil Young, Rush (free tickets) and Hall & Oates. I think the bulk of my mega-concert days took place in Montreal at the Forum.

Brick Street Bakery

North of Queen and Church was a striking mural and close by a large Metro grocery store. There seems to be big-time inner-city grocery wars happening. I guess that is a sign of a very liveable downtown core. As I got closer to my planned turnaround point at Trinity near Front, it dawned on me that one of my favourite pastry treats was very close-at-hand. At Trinity and Mill street in the Distillery District is the Brick Bakery. WooHoo! While I woke up this morning with the mantra “no more chocolate” reverberating in my head, I said a big YES to an eccles cake pit stop.

Eccles cake

Brick Bakery offerings

Eating eccles cake

Fueled up I began the return leg westward via the lakeshore. The stretch of the lakeshore east of Yonge street is quite dismal but it is usually quiet enough to run on the road and one of the first roads to be plowed after a snowfall. I made another pit stop at Harbourfront Centre where I was able to check out an art show featuring portraits. A portrait by Louie Palu of a 22 year old marine serving in Afghanistan was particularly compelling and I found myself saying a prayer for our troops.

The rest of the run was part of my usual six miler which always makes the time seem to go by faster. I felt comfortable and steady all the way, with energy to spare when I returned home. Energy which will be put to good use this evening as we have as guests our 5, 7 & 9 year old nephews and niece. Muppet Movie, here we come.

I am almost 100% committed to a spring goal of running a fast 5K. I’ve never really trained specifically for 5K but I think I need to do this to get some speed back. This will involve joining  a hard-training track club. Yes, you’ve heard it before, the false starts I’ve made in signing up but I think 2012 is the year that I will finally do it.

What is it that you might finally do in 2012?

Happy New Years all!

p.s. Ever since tasting my first eccles cake a few years ago, I have been meaning to bake them hence another finally-do for 2012. I got the contact info I need from the clerk to get the Brick Bakery recipe.

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Christmas Greetings

Best wishes and blessings to all! My last post about our trip to Stratford, Ontario was written from Edmonton while visiting my husband’s dad for a few days. The difficulty when you are busy, busy, and fall behind with blogging is that it is hard to know where to start. Over the next while, I’ll have to forgo the immediacy of a linear narrative in order to catch up.

While I may not be blogging much, I’m always be aiming to run every day with the odd exception. In the past, one exception has been days of early morning travel (leaving house at 7:30 a.m. or earlier) as I give myself a “pass” upon reaching the destination. On our trip to Edmonton I surprised myself by bounding out the door an hour or so after arrival for an easy, shake-off-the-jet-lag two miler. I enjoyed four memorable runs while in Edmonton which I will blog about shortly.

In the past 12 days I have cooked for four parties, two here and two in Edmonton. I crowned myself Queen of my father-in-law’s kitchen due to the three meals and batch of cookies I baked while there. On returning to Toronto I cooked dinner for 16 on Thursday, a farewell gathering for a workmate and then hosted our family dinner for 11 adults and 10 kids on Christmas day. I cooked the turkey, stuffing and provided cookies and an appetizers while three siblings (I have five) and my parents provided all else. There is a at least one very good cook in every family so this works very well for our clan.

Candy cane cookies, a favourite

Once a year, we splurge on eating out to celebrate our son’s birthday. We were all well-pleased with our Asian fusion meal at Lee’s on King street last week. We were especially impressed with the grilled tofu.

Birthday dinner at Lee's Restaurant

As for the weekly mileage tally, I hit the 40 mile mark two weeks ago but last week I had to cut back as I have been fighting a scritchy throat. It was disappointing to cut back my planned 12 miler to 6 miles last Saturday but perhaps today is the day, that things turn around. I usually wake between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. but slept in past 8:30 a.m. this morning and I’m hoping that “sleep, the wonder drug” will have worked its magic. We normally attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve but opted for 9 a.m. mass this year in order to maximize the benefits of regular sleep routines. I have to confess that I enjoyed not having to fight off drowsiness at Midnight Mass. Wishing you all peace, joy and good health!

What child is this?

Christmas is the renewed invitation not to be afraid and to let Him-whose love is greater than our own hearts and minds can comprehend-be our companion”               

Henri Nouwen


More shopping on the run

I decided to do a four mile run today to rest up for a longer run tomorrow of 10-12 miles with the Saturday group, a.k.a. smart men as described in an earlier post for which they agreed to allow a photograph of their legs to appear while seeking counsel from their publishers and lawyers about blog privacy. Joining us will be a visiting “wise guy” from Waterloo who has known my husband for longer than I have, 30 years or more.  Sadly husband “P” has a cold and his knee is still troubling him so he will be unable to join us.

As for my short run, the first stop was U-Deal Restaurant and Hotel Supplies on College near Clinton where I bought a lemon zester and gingerbread cookie cutter to replace one that has gone missing.

U of T Bookstore in Koeffler Student Centre

Another mile and I popped into the U of T Bookstore at College and St. George/Beverley where I found the book I was looking for but in hardcover not the paperback I had hoped for. I debated the merits of the additional cost of the hardcover version, about $15 extra versus saving myself a trip to Yonge-Bloor or the Eaton Centre. I decided that yes, avoiding a trip to the heart of holiday shopping melee was worth the price. And, I rationalized to myself that perhaps this particular first edition, might one day be a collector’s item as social criticism and analysis of the digital age comes of age.

Life Science area, U of T bookstore

I enjoy shopping at this bookstore.  Where else can you find anatomical key chains and cute, plush microbes and germs. Earlier in the week I was here to purchase So You Want to Be a Lawyer for a nephew who, hopefully, he is not reading my blog.

Educational plush microbes and germs

Then I ran over to the Annex location of Book City where I found the book I was seeking, along with another. The first book is only available at Book City, not at Chapters or Indigo.

I popped into PAT grocery store to price butter which was a disappointing $6.99! Butter seems to have skyrocketed in price lately. PAT grocery store is a large Asian food grocery store in Little Korea where we sometimes buy 50 pound bags of Japanese style rice like Nishiki or Kokoho Rose, grown in California.

My final stop was Shopper’s Drugmart near Dovercourt and Bloor. I’ve noticed that this location often has sales on perishable items. I was very pleased to find that one pound of unsalted butter was on sale for $2.99. Bonanza! I guess Shopper’s is going into the grocery business as the butter was a house brand. I bought three pounds of butter along with Fry’s cocoa and finally jogged-waddled home laden with my purchases.

Late in the afternoon the final gift on my list, ordered from an Amazon affiliate arrived by courier.  So my shopping is complete and I can enjoy the longer run tomorrow morning without the need to rush here or there.  And, I have continued to run on these busy days of baking and eating what I have been baking.

I wish you all a wondrous, peaceful and joyous Christmas eve!


Shopping on the run

I like to make sure that leading up to the week of Christmas and New Year, I’m in a good groove with my running.  Sure, you can wait until January 1st but by that time you have already dug yourself into a bit of a hole, or deficit of healthy living.  Much better to have some psychological momentum before holiday excesses lead to post-holiday resolutions and regret.  One way to find the time to run during this busy period is to shop on the run.

Gwartzman's, a fun place to do some holiday shopping

My run today was six miles.  My first stop was my husband’s workplace to pick up my Metropass.  He walked to work and forgot to leave my pass.  That done, I headed to Gwartzman’s art supply store at 448 Spadina Avenue just south of College, a veritable institution which I first visited in the mid-seventies while studying art.  It hasn’t changed much since then but I did find all kinds of stocking stuffers and small gifts which I packed into my large MEC fanny pack.

Gwartzman's Goodies

From there I ran to Kensington Market to visit Wanda’s Pie in the Sky cafe on Augusta just south of College.  An Aunt had told me that I could pick up a copy of “Just Add Shoyu” a Japanese Canadian Cookbook.  I had imagined a smaller book with a more flexible cover which would fit into my fanny pack so I had to run with the book in hand.  Which as it turned out was not all that difficult.  Wanda’s was very nicely decked out for the holidays.

Just Add Shoyu - A Japanese Canadian Cookbook

Gingerbread delight at Wanda's

Warmly festive at Wanda's

Note to self: Return when not in the middle of a run

On the way home, I crossed paths with a runner-friend going the opposite direction.  Jean is one of my role models, a vivacious, energetic 70 plus athlete with fabulous shoulders may I add, from her early years as a swimmer specializing in the butterfly.  She took up running in her early forties with the intention of improving her voice by increasing her stamina.  The rest is history as without much effort she regularly does well in her age group and continues to perform, every now and then.  In her younger years, she traveled with the opening act to the Great Speckled Bird with Ian and Sylvia Tyson.

We had a brief chat and she told me that she had just come from Trinity-Bellwoods Park to see the Toronto Maple Leafs practice.

She wears it well

Here are some ideas that may help to find enough time to run or can be done on your run.
1) Order a magazine subscription. Buy the current copy at a newstand if you will see the recipient in person. Order the subscription on-line.
2) Buy Swiss army knives at Mountain Equipment Coop. Easy to carry a lot of these in a fanny pack.
3) Gift certificate for Lee Valley Tools
4) Gift certificate for MEC
5) Run by your local Book City, it will be a lot quieter than a Chapters or Indigo. Phone ahead to make sure they have the books you want.

Happy last minute shopping!

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Holiday intermission from the marathon story

A pitfall of running a marathon so late in the fall is that I’m playing a bit of catch-up with the holiday spirit.  Those cookies I promised to blog about have yet to materialize.  There is not a trace of Christmas decoration about.   Much of that, I hope will happen today and tomorrow.

The evening of the marathon, we had a very slow and rainy drive from Sacramento to San Francisco.  The rain stopped shortly after we arrived and we walked the two blocks from our hotel, The Larkspur (formerly the Cartwright) to Union Square to take in the holiday decorations.

Union Square's trademark palms

Union Square, Macy's quintessential holiday windows

The following Sunday we were back in Toronto and spent the afternoon at the theatre with 3 nieces and 2 nephews. All enjoyed A Year With Frog and Toad at the Lorraine Kimsa Young People’s Theatre. Frog was played most charmingly, by Louise Pitre.

Party of seven